Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week

In honor of Banned Books Week, Tahereh at Grab a Pen and The Rejectionist have asked all us lovely bloggers to review one of our favorite banned books. You can find yours on the ALA list

First, can we just address the ridiculousness of the idea of banning books?? If you don't want to read a book, don't read it. Simple. What difference does it make to you if others read it? It doesn't. Point made.

That said, I had no idea how many amazing and frankly, harmless, books were on these banned lists. How many I read in school or on my own and which certainly influenced me and inspired me to become a writer myself. My favorite example of a harmless, brilliant book:


My mixed-breed cat, half domestic tabby, half Scottish wildcat. The size of a small Labrador, only mad.

Stupid underwear. What's the point of them, anyway? They just go up your bum, as far as I can tell.

Full-Frontal Snogging:
Kissing with all the trimmings, lip to lip, open mouth, tongues ... everything.

Her dad's got the mentality of a Teletubby (only not so developed). Her cat, Angus, is trying to eat the poodle next door. And her best friend thinks she looks like an alien -- just because she accidentally shaved off her eyebrows. Ergghhhlack. Still, add a little boy-stalking, teacher-baiting, and full-frontal snogging with a Sex God, and Georgia's year just might turn out to be the most fabbitty fab fab ever

This book is ha-ha-hilarious. The diary of a completely, 100% average teenage girl, with 100% average teenage problems. Now, let's examine what got this book banned by some old white guys who are clearly uncomfortable with the term "snogging" and would prefer that "thongs" still referred to flip-flops. Here is my take on how the conversation that got this book on the list went:

Thongs. Teenage girls wearing less than full-bottom covering underwear!? SCANDALOUS!!

Snogging. (Possibly the use of a great deal of British slang contributed to the banning of this book.) IF WE CAN'T UNDERSTAND IT WE SHOULDN'T READ IT!

Angus. Clearly, Angus the "Cat" is code for a tattooed, cracked-out, motorcycle driving, daughter-kidnapping corruptive boy.

The dad is referred to as a tele-tubby. UNDERMINING MALE AUTHORITY!
"Angus" is trying to eat a poodle. WE LOVE POODLES! HOW DARE YOU???

And, the final nail in the coffin.
The word SEX appears in the blurb! SEX!?? NOOOOOOOOOOOO......

Thus, banned. I believe this is the only way this could've happened....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tagged. Against my will.

Okay, so I've read like, 1239873 blogs that say I've been "tagged." I believe it's similar to what they do to wild animals for research purposes, some sort of electronic thing that marks me so as to keep tabs on my whereabouts. Or maybe this is one of those things that if I don't do what they tell me I'll have a lifetime of bad luck and my hair will fall out and no one will like me all because I didn't do it. I'm not clear on the details (it could be harmless fun...but I'm not convinced) and I am quite vulnerable, me superstitious, but I'm doing it.

1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?

I would like to be able to write for hours and hours and not get distracted or stuck or bored. that not a super power? Then I suppose I'd like to be invisible. Not all the time, I mean. Just when I wanted to be.

2. Who is your style icon?

Lauren Conrad. A-dorable.

3. What is your favorite quote?

Is it possible for an author not to love a million quotes? Here are two favorites from my FB profile. I apologize for the depressing (but oh-so-true) nature of the second:

"Life is like a poker game. Some players fold while holding a winning hand, some win holding nothing but a pair of deuces. It isn't the hand you're dealt in life-it's the hands that hold the cards."

"When someone you love dies it's as if they leave you with half shares of your life together. The person you were in their eyes dies with them."

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
My mom told me today she thinks I am a great writer.

And my boyfriend tells me every day that I'm beautiful :)

5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?

I'm replaying a few songs constantly. Love like woe by The Ready Set, Strip Me by Natasha Bedingfield, and Teenage Dream by Katy Perry

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
My job makes me a morning bird (I think morning "person" doesn't have the same cache as "night owl"). But by nature, I am a night owl.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Dogs. I love my dog. She is my spoiled, pampered baby. But for some reason, I also bought a cat. When I realized she was demon-possessed it was too late to take her back. But I find little ways to get even with her for torturing me...

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

I am a smoothie girl by trade, and I have many profound and fascinating epiphanies that need sharing.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Create an authentic teen in 9 easy steps!

As someone who works with teenage girls, waits on teenage girls, and coincidentally, is not long past being a teenage girl, it has come to my attention the depiction of teens in YA and books/movies in general are pathetically inaccurate. So. If you want your writing to have a truly authentic teen, use the following rules:

1. Facebook is GOD. If it is on Facebook, it is irrefutable fact and must be treated as such. Likewise anything said in facebook messenger can and will be used against you in future rumor spreading. There are also numerous rules and codes on Facebook. For example, if you list a best friend as your “sibling”, you are declaring to the world that you are BFFE. There is also listing yourself as “married” to your best friend, and your “wifey” bff has an even higher rank than your “sibling” bff.
Note: If you wish to show commitment between your female MC and her significant other, please ensure that you include they have made it “Facebook official”. This concretes the relationship and ensures that it will never, ever, end. I would compare it to Bella marrying Edward, only much, much more serious.

2. Begin all sentences with “Dude”, “Bro”, “Oh my god!” or “Seriously”
“Dude, did you see the VMA's last night?”
“Bro, was Kanye a dick again?”
“Oh my god, Lady Gaga wore a dress made out of meat.”
“Seriously, she's like, such a snazzhole.”
*Note: I'm not sure what a snazzhole is, but I just heard a 16 year old girl use it. I'd assume it's similar to calling someone an asshole.

3. Insert “like” after every two to three words. This is a given, and I'm not sure why it isn't used in dialogue in YA novels. We all know teens talk don't like this:
“I saw Maci at the mall with Josh and oh my god, she looked huge!”

They talk like this:

“I like, saw Maci, like, at the mall, with like, Josh, and like, oh my god, she like, looked huge!”

4. Use long, rambling, difficult to follow sentences. “Dude, you're the one acting weird. That's why he put a sad face. Because you're the one acting different. You know if you're acting that with Kyle and Sara's acting that way with him what do you think he's going to do? Seriously, it's not his fault that you're being a snazzhole right now and totally freaking out on him because of what he did that like, wasn't even his fault, like seriously how was he supposed to know that you knew that Sara told him she was into him?”

5.For some reason, in YA books and teen movies, there is that one, reliable, always-there, labrador-loyal best friend. DURR!! No!! That is completely unrealistic. Your teen character needs a new best friend every week. And a huge end-of-the-world, never-speaking-to-you-again blowup fight to end the friendship. *Note: Said ex-best-friend can be reinstated without warning at any time. Replacement best friend now becomes frenemie number 1. This cycle can be repeated throughout your book and is important because it shows what true friendship is (competition and jealousy).

6.When showing your character writing an e-mail, text message, status update, etc. please add extra letters to all words, for example: boyssss and be sure to include <3333s and :) and difficult for adults to understand acroynoms: ilysm, rofl, lmao, ily, wtf, etc.

7.If you are writing a contemporary YA romance, sexting is a must. It's completely romantic and well-thought-out on the part of the teens.

8.No more Miss Nice Girl. High school girls. Are. Bitches! I don't care how nice or innocent or sheltered you think your MC is. She isn't. By definition, she must be a bitch because she is a teenage girl. She must call other girls fat, regardless of how skinny they are. She must flirt with other girl's boyfriends. THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS!!!

9.If you think you might be going to far (drugs, sex, alcohol, tragedy) you aren't. If you're writing about kids in high school, it is impossible to go to far. If anything, real teens are far more screwed up and out of control than you could ever concieve.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My two cents for The Great Blogging Experiment

Today is the day, in case you haven't heard (is that possible?) of Elana Johnson, Jen Daiker and Alex Cavanaugh Great Blogging Experiment! To read the other blogs check out Elana's blog here. The topic is writing compelling characters. And now for my two cents:

The thing that makes characters compelling for me are when they do things that are totally unexpected. Characters who always keep me guessing, even when I think I know how they will react (and how I would react) and they do the complete opposite. This always makes me want to read more to figure out why they did what they did. Of course, there has to be sufficient motivation to justify what the character does, especially when it is dangerous/crazy/unexpected.

Example: Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich. 16 books into the series and she still surprises me somehow. Even though I know she is constantly getting herself into trouble, I'm never bored or able to predict what she will do next, but I'm always sure it will be entertaining and compelling.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: Banished by Kate Brian


Let me preface this by saying, I love Kate Brian. I've loved the Private Series since it first came out. I love her other books as well. She is without a doubt one of my favorite and most admired authors.

Which makes what I'm about to say even harder.

I did not love this book. *cringes* I didn't even like this book.

I'm not including any spoilers because I love Kate and still recommend her books, so I apologize for the vagueness.

I put off buying it for a little bit as things have been so busy and I knew I'd want to read it in one sitting. Normally I would've bought it the same day it came out. So when I finally sat down to read it yesterday, the anticipation had grown enormous.

As it started, I waited to be grabbed, to be sucked in so completely I literally couldn't put it down, as I had with every other book in the series. such luck. I wasn't grabbed, and I really just wanted to know how it was going to end, although I already had a sneaking suspicion. So I did something I have never done with this author before...I skimmed. The entire book. Until I got about ten pages before the end. And when I got to the end, I screamed and threw the book down. I threw a book.

Oh, the shame!

But I couldn't help it. Kate Brian has kept me on edge with killer cliffhangers and shocking revelations. And Vanished ended with one that made me not even want to read the next book. I've read 12 books in this series (12!) and now she completely changes everything I've ever thought this series was about in one line on the last page. And more than anything it felt like a cheap ploy to have a plot for the next book and jump on the YA paranormal fad-train.

NOTHING in the previous 11 books makes this end plausible or realistic. There has always been a certain amount of suspending reality to make this series work, and I never minded before. There could never be so much murder, so many lunatics, kidnappings, secret half-sisters, ridiculously hot guys, etc. in real life. But Vanished crossed the line into completely ridiculous.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What. Would. My. Main. Character. Do.

I need one of those obnoxious bracelets on my wrist with W.W.M.M.C.D. (is that too long for a bracelet? I have tiny wrists. Whatev, I'd just wrap it around twice...) embroidered on it. And then when I have my main character do something that I would do and not what she would do I could snap myself with it and delete said action.

I am not my character.

Everyone! Say it with me!

I am not my character.

Good. Now, continue writing and make sure that your character does what makes sense for them and their motivation/personality/situation and NOT what you would do if it was actually happening to you.

*Note: I am writing this under the assumption that everyone slips up and forgets that they are a separate entity from their character and writes as if it were happening to them and has the character react accordingly. Please...don't let this just be me...

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm a writer, I don't watch t.v...

Ha, not! I hate it when people do that. "Oh, I don't watch t.v. I just read." I read more than anyone I know but come on people, who doesn't love t.v.? So when I saw Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Top 10 TV Shows Blogfest I couldn't resist! Here are mine,without further ado (in no particular order):

The Office




Teen Mom/16 and Pregnant

Say Yes to the Dress


Top Gear


The Buried Life





Modern Family


Man Vs. Wild


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wannabe Writer #1

Since I have so much trouble coming up with topics for blogs, thought this would at least take care of one a week and also help me find me blogs to follow and to follow me:

Wannabe Writers is an internet writing group. Everyone is welcome to join. It's a place to meet other writers, ask questions, and get feedback. Click here to find out more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process:Unpublished. Working on my first draft of my MS Hellbound, after having spent a year working on Banished and finally deciding to shelve it. I have been working Hellbound steadily since May, and about 3/4 finished with the rough first draft. After that, I'm anticipating another few months of editing and revising before I can actually query it.

My current problem(s): Life. As seen in previous posts, things are a little crazy right now (crazier than is normal, I should say). Things have derailed me from writing and I need to put them aside for a while and get back on track writing.

My question this week: What are you thoughts on e-publishing? Everyone wants to get published through a major publishing house and see that final hard-copy in their hands and top the best-seller charts. But what if that's just not in the stars for you---would you ever go the e-publishing route? I mean e-readers are starting to pick up popularity...

My opinion - I love e-books. Love love love love. I would publish my book as an e-book. Of course, I have the hope that it will be published through a traditional published and also be on Kindle, but if that is not the case I wouldn't turn my nose up at being strictly an e-book. I've found so many great authors and great books and I love reading on my kindle, and I buy the majority of my books on my Kindle, so I think it is an amazing opportunity for authors, especially those who have been turned down by traditional publishers. I should also point out that e-books are later printed as well, so it's not set in stone that you will never hold a hard copy of your e-book.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chapter Titles: Love em or Leave em?

I'm a bit torn on this subject. For me, it's a love/hate relationship.

I love chapter titles that are cute/funny/witty/short. I like when a chapter title gives me a hint about what is going to happen in the chapter and makes me want to readitrightthissecond. I recently read a romance novel about a baseball player and the beginning of every chapter had a funny baseball related quote. Cute. The Pretty Little Liars series chapter titles were intriguing and sometimes funny, I liked them consistently throughout the books.

I hate chapter titles that are long/boring/unrelated/distracting. I hate when a chapter title refers to something that does happen in the chapter, but that doesn't make sense until after you've finished reading the chapter. I think it's distracting when you're looking for what the chapter title is talking about. Or the times when you are looking and never find it and realize that the title really just doesn't make sense. It's rare, but it's happened.

I wish I could write the cute/witty/hinting chapter titles. I might think of one or two, but usually somewhere in the middle I forget about them all together. Therefore, half of my MS is chapters like "Hell-O?" and half is plain old Chapter 10.

So, what do you think? Do you use them, start out with them, add them later? Or do plain old numbers?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sometimes life just gets in the way

I can't believe how long it's been since I wrote a blog. The guilt is eating at me. But just gets in the way. The end of August was my mom's birthday, which meant I got to spend a lovely couple of days in my hometown. But then reality hit, and I had to find a place to live, pack, and move within two weeks. All with minimal help from my boyfriend who has been working 12-13 hour days 6 days a week. This past weekend was spent moving and trying to deal with everything that goes along with that plus working. Somehow I still managed to get a little writing done. Then yesterday, everything went wrong. Stressful day of work, stress of finishing the move, waiting for the cable guy, dealing with the electric company, and then my mom calls. My uncle passed away unexpectedly. Now I'm dealing with the emotions of that (there are way too many to get into) and trying to figure out how to get to Missouri for the funeral with no money.

Do you ever wish you could just sit and write all day and never have to deal with your real life? It's much easier to put your characters in stressful situations than to live them yourself!