Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: We're in trouble now

I'm betting you guys will recognize this. It's the werewolf story, version 4.0! The fourth time's the charm, right??

I've changed it so that it is set in the middle of Paris during the Reign of Terror, and I've finally found a concrete plot for it - which you may be able to figure out based on this snippet.

The beginning is very similar to the beginning of version three, only without the gryphon. Instead, Rose and Avar run into some members of the National Guard, and apparently, being seen in the company of a werewolf is not a good move. The next morning, Rose is sneaking back home (and Avar is making sure she gets there) when this happens.

I hope you guys like this reincarnation. I'm quite pleased with it so far - I'm just hoping the nice historical tone of the last attempt has carried over.




Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Library Saga

So today, I present to you a Library Saga, a tale of staircases and helpful librarians and misshelved books. I hope it will amuse you.

First of all, some background. I don't know if newer readers of Tea & Biscuits will know this, since I haven't mentioned it in a while, but I sing. I like to think that I'm pretty good at it. I take voice lessons from a grad student at school, and I really enjoy it.

Also, out of all the people I know in Ithaca, the majority are either writing majors or music majors. My roommate is a music major. Last year I lived with TWO music majors. My very good friend from down the hall is a music major. This is unsurprising, as a majority of my friends and fellow AP level students in high school were band geeks.

So my voice teacher, Sarah, told me about this place:

Since I live pretty close to NYC and don't have a music library any closer to me, Sarah sent me on a quest to the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center in search of a Mozart art song, "Ridente la calma." And since I was going, my music major roommate Anna asked me to copy some music for her as well, a Polish folk song called "Mother Dear" and a Mendelssohn piece called "Der Blumenstrauss." So off to New York I went. This was, of course, an opportunity to visit my best friend Ella (I link to her so often I should just figure out how to put a link in the sidebar and have done with it). She was coming home later Tuesday afternoon, so I would be able to get a ride back from her dad.

I got into NYC around 9 or 9:30, and Ella hadn't eaten breakfast yet so we went to her dining hall and she ate breakfast and we told stories of the last three weeks and et cetera. Because that's what friends who haven't seen each other in three weeks do.

By the time we got to the library, it was about 11:30. So, this is a library, right? Libraries open around 9 am, because they're libraries and that's what they do, right? Wrong. This library opens at NOON every day (this will become important later). We walked down the street and found a supermarket and I bought a sandwich. It was then noon, so we went back to the library.

Once in the library, I found a map and we went up to the second floor, which is where (most of) the music books are. I looked up the three books we needed again, to write down the call numbers and check that they were still available. Those three books were: 15 Arias for Coloratura Soprano, The First Book of Soprano Solos, vol. 3, and the Lieder Anthology. They were all there; the first two had the same call number and the third one was "for library use only" so we'd have to go somewhere else to find that. We then went over to find the first two, since they were in the same place, and after several minutes of looking on the wrong shelf we found the right shelf and, fairly shortly after that, my book. I made my copy (I do not get along well with copy machines; I wasted so many dimes and so much paper trying to figure them out) and then we went to put it back and find the book for Anna. We scoured every inch of that shelf, as well as many of the surrounding shelves, as well as all the return carts we could find, trying to find it. But it simply was not there. So we decide to go find a Helpful Librarian to ask.

We asked Helpful Librarian 1, and she told us that if it says it's available but isn't in the right place it's either misshelved or it's just on a cart after having been returned, waiting to be reshelved, and we would need to go downstairs and ask them if they can look for it. We also got a little form thing for the Lieder Anthology, which we would need to request upstairs.

We went downstairs and asked Rather Unhelpful Librarians 2 and 3 what to do, telling them what Helpful Librarian 1 told us. They didn't pay very much attention to what we were trying to say (Also, apparently "Fifteen Arias for Coloratura Soprano" is a rather incomprehensible title, since I had to repeat it A LOT), and they sent us around the corner to what turned out to be the DVD section or some such thing. We went up to that desk and asked Helpful Librarian 4 what to do, telling them what Unhelpful Librarians 2 and 3 had told us, and Helpful Librarian 4 told us that what we needed was a page who would go through the stuff that hadn't been reshelved yet. We went back to Rather Unhelpful Librarian 2 and told her exactly what Helpful Librarian 4 had told us. She looked rather cross but told us that the pages were all out on their lunch break. Mind you, it was 1 o'clock, and they opened at noon. Hmmm...

So we decided to try that one again later, and we went up to the third floor, in search of the Lieder Anthology. On the third floor, there's a coat check and all sorts of official stuff. We handed the slip from Helpful Librarian 1 to Helpful Librarian 5 and then wandered around looking at stuff for a while as we waited for her to get the book for us. (They had a display of Beverly Sills' scores with her stage direction notes and ornamentations written in - it was pretty awesome.) When we went over to retrieve the book, Helpful Librarian 5 asked me for my library card. I do not have a library card for the New York Public Library, since I do not live in New York. Ella, however, does - she just forgot to bring it with her. Helpful Librarian 5 asked Ella for her name, and then asked her to verify her address. Now, since Ella has just finished finals week, Ella has not slept in two days. And because I go to Ithaca, which is a hippie school in every sense of the term, I was afraid that Ella would come across as crazy, on drugs/drunk, or as someone trying to steal someone else's library card (why you would do that I have no idea, but there it is). But Helpful Librarian 5 was very nice about it, and we got the book.

We trotted over to the copy machines, and I put in the little copy card I'd had to get and laid the page out and pushed the button and BAM! Paper jam. (Ella later remarked that this was the most karmically attuned copier she'd ever come across.) I tried to do Anna's magic trick (Anna is very good with copiers) where you pull out the door on the side and then close it again and it's magically fixed, but it didn't want to open and I didn't want to force it. So I went back to Helpful Librarian 5 and said "I'm sorry, I don't know who I should ask for help about this, but there's a paper jam..." and she said "You're making copies? Do you have permission to make copies?" Of course I had no idea you needed *permission* to make copies, and so I apologized profusely, and she pointed me across the floor and said she'd fix the paper jam while I went to go fill out the necessary form.

Ella and I then took the book over to Helpful Librarian 6, who handed us a form and pointed out the copyright mark at the bottom of the first page which meant we'd only be able to copy 10% of the song.* Much hilarity ensued when she waited for a sleep-deprived art student and a writing major who has always been abysmal at percents try and figure out just how much 10% of a five page song would be (I worked it out later thanks to the calculator feature on Google; it's half a page). We had quite a nice discussion with her about copyright law and how weird it is, but ultimately didn't fill out the form to copy things because half a page would really be quite useless to Anna, so why bother? We then went back to Helpful Librarian 5 and handed the book back and said thank you and went back downstairs.

It was now about 1:40 or so, so after I'd collected my coat and backpack (Ella, of course, did not have to check anything because Ella does not carry bags or wear coats, because she is a silly person) we went back down to the first floor to check on that coloratura book. Rather Unhelpful Librarian 2 was still there, and she rather snippily told us that they were still on a lunch break. So we left the library and sat outside for a bit, waiting for them to get back from lunch, being cold, etc. At about five after 2, we went back in, and Unhelpful Librarian 2 was no longer at the front desk. Instead, Helpful Librarian 7 went back and looked at all the return stuff they had (it took her rather a while, it must have been a lot of stuff) but couldn't find it. She said if we put it on hold we could come back later and try to find it, but since we were leaving and neither of us would be living in the city till Ella goes back at the end of break, that would be sort of silly. So, two hours and a bit after we'd started, we gave up. We went back to Ella's dorm to wait for her dad to pick us up, and I finally got to eat that sandwich. I was really hungry by then!

So I suppose the morals to this story would be as follows:

1. Librarians are awesome.
2. Never try to do nice things for your roommate.**

I hope you enjoyed the Library Saga. It was certainly an adventure!


* The thing that really puzzles me about this is that the reason Anna asked me to look for this music was that someone had taken those books out of the Ithaca library over break. Which meant that they were in the Ithaca library with absolutely no restrictions, which meant that if you really wanted to, you could copy the whole book and nobody would care except the person behind you on the copier line. Hmmm.

** I'm just kidding, always do nice things for your roommate. Roommates are awesome.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: Literary Christmas Presents

YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday question this week is "What would you give your favourite characters for Christmas, and why? Would you give Harry Potter contact lenses? Bella Swan a copy of He's Just Not That Into You? Or maybe a lifetime supply of cherry cola to Bianca Piper, so she always has something to throw at guys who don't behave?"

I'm quite partial to giving Bianca Piper a lifetime supply of Cherry Coke, I LOVED that scene. :D

I'm sitting in my bedroom at home scanning over all the book titles on my shelves and thinking about what I'd want to give the characters for Christmas. Mostly it's been going like this:

Jacob Reckless... he needs a hug... he might not appreciate it, but he needs one. Rose and the White Bear? Hugs. Both Will Graysons? Hugs. Gemma Doyle? Lots of hugs - especially if I meet her post-book-three (I'm not the only one who cried, am I?).

This coming from someone who is rather new at this whole hugging thing. Clearly a lot of people in my favorite books really really need hugs.

But I think John Green's Paper Towns provides an opportunity for actual gift-giving.

I would give Margo Roth Spiegelman a new notebook, for when she runs out of space writing over everything in the first one. (Also a hug.)

And Q? Q would get a GPS. (And a hug. Maybe several hugs. He'd probably just push me away and keep looking for Margo, but he'd get the hugs anyway.)

It seems my roommate has well and truly turned me into a hugger. :P

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let's go back to English, shall we?

'Ello, blogosphere! How are you all today? Are there full requests filling your inboxes? I do hope so!

I'm home now (as hinted in my spazzy Italian post) and am trying to kick myself back into writing mode, even though really, all I want to do is sleep. I like sleep. One does not get enough sleep when one is a college student. Sometimes this is for good reasons - for instance, my roommate is made of awesome and we will frequently have epic late night (and by late night I mean three o'clock in the morning) conversations that go from deep and meaningful to ridiculous in the space of one sentence. But mostly this sleeplessness is for not-good reasons, such as staying up till the aforementioned three o'clock hour working on papers and still having to get up at 8 for class the next day.

Still, I am countering that desire to sleep 24/7. For one thing, tomorrow morning (yes! Morning!) I shall be on a bus to NYC to visit my dearest friend ever and to search for sheet music in Lincoln Center!

And for another I am, like I said, trying to get back on track writing-wise. My "write at least 100 words per day" goal was admirable and very, very short lived. Never take on such a goal three weeks before the end of the semester. It simply won't work.

I've gotten so used to churning out things for classes that it's taking me a little while to recuperate. But I'm determined to do two things over break:

1. Write as much of Preposterous Things, my graphic novel project with Ella, as possible.
2. Fix the mess that is my werewolf novel.

So far, attempts to deal with that mess have looked like this:

1. IDEA!
2. :D
3. *frantically plot idea in a very detailed fashion*
4. *come across fundamental problem with this idea*
5. *come across seven more, similarly fundamental problems*
6. *discard idea*
7. :(
8. IDEA!
9. :D
10 *restart from step three*

So we'll see how that goes.

On the plus side, when I have something to edit, my made-of-awesome roommate gave me a pretty fabulous Christmas present:

Yes, that IS a red-ink quill pen. Yes, you SHOULD be jealous. Yes, I DO make stupid faces when taking pictures of myself.

Right. Well, I should toss myself back into the loop of ideas (right now I'm on step seven) and get cracking.

What are your writing plans for the winter holidays, if you have any?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


(Anna mi vorresti farlo.)

Allora, l'esami sono finito, e io sono molto contenta. Sono stanca, sì, ma contenta. La mia compagna di stanza, Anna, dovrà fare due esami anche sarà finito. Potrò ritornare a casa in NJ domani. Vorrei dormire per due mesi.

Tutto è finito, finalmente. Non ho i temi o i presentazioni. Non ho i compiti. Non ho le lezione. Necessito molto questa vacanza. Potrei scrivere molto, e vorrei trovare un lavoro. Mi mancherebbe le mie amiche di Ithaca, ma voglio vedere le mie amiche di Verona. Inoltre, mi mancano la mia famiglia, il cibo buono, e i miei gatti.

Caro abbraccio a tutti.


... Oh. Wait. Wrong language. Er. Sorry...

(Also: I might be an Italian minor, but that does not guarantee the accuracy of ANY of that. I apologize for any horrific errors...)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Exam Time

When you're sad and it's exam time
Your papers are rough and suck levels are high
Just remember there's one thing that you can do.
And it always works, too.

You gotta put stuff on your head.
Put stuff on your head!
Well it can be blue,
Or it can be red,
The color doesn't matter if it's on your head!

How's this, John?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Paying Attention

So the whole "write at least 100 words a day" goal? Admirable, but when one begins it two weeks before finals, it is also rather impractical. Extremely impractical, one might say. Also not happening.

Blaaaaaaaaaaaaah so many papers. *drowns*

To tide you over for now, here's something I wrote for class. Enjoy?



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Planning Stages

Oh, how I wish it were winter break already... *yawns*

In any case, more from the same as-of-yet-untitled (I should get on that, shouldn't I?) epic fantasy thing I've been working on. Elissa is talking with Raedan and Raedan's sister Mairi, two of her best friends, about how she is going to sneak around Regulus, who is currently calling himself Regent, and take her rightful place.



Friday, November 26, 2010

Wordcount Goals

Hey guys! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! (Or... if you're not in the US... a nice Thursday?)

So today I want to talk about wordcount goals. For the past couple of weeks, my life has been consumed by homeworkrehearsalspapersrehearsalsperformances, soooo I haven't been writing a whole lot. (Not to mention I was attacked by the worst case of writer's block EVER.) But THIS week is Thanksgiving break, and I've gotten myself back into the groove with a new project (possibly two new projects, actually; we shall see).

I also decided to give myself a new rule: I must write, at the very least, 100 words per day. And this rule is going pretty well so far. I didn't write anything yesterday because I wasn't feeling well (no, not because I ate too much), and I decided that being sick is the only legitimate excuse for not following this rule.

Because 100 words is really nothing (in spite of what some of my non-writing classmates might think). And what I'm discovering is that making myself start is the hardest part. So what started as "let's sit down and write 100 words" turns into "I'll get up to 500, or 600, or 1,000, and then go to bed."

So for the first time in weeks, I am actually writing something. Something that I have no idea where it's going, but so far it's been fun.

What do you guys think? I know it's NaNo, so everybody's word count goals are different than they might usually be, but how often do you guys write? What's the hardest part for you? Finding time, or just making yourself start?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Swashbuckling Stuff

Hi, blogsphere! I'm sorry I've been quiet lately, but thanks to a lovely pep talk from my lovely roommate and some good Thankgsiving-break relaxation, I'm writing again and so I'll be blogging again too. :)

This is the opening of the new project I've been working on. It's the first epic fantasy I've written in about four years, and so far it's a lot of fun. I'm figuring out the characters and their motivations as I go along; I'm letting this story steer me a lot more than I usually do. I've also decided that from now on I'm going to write 100 words a day at the very least. So there, homework and rehearsal. I can still write around you!

In any case, I hope you enjoy this!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book Review: RECKLESS

Sorry for the lack of a teaser guys. My muse has well and truly deserted me, it seems, leaving me to stare at the ceiling and wait for it to return. It’ll come back. Eventually. No worries.

At any rate. For my birthday I received a copy of Cornelia Funke’s newest novel, RECKLESS. I got the chance to finish it before Thanksgiving break (which I was not anticipating: maybe this writer’s block is good for something after all? :P) and wow am I glad.

This book is marvelous. And I’m not just saying that because Cornelia Funke is one of my favorite authors (which she is; I love her work so much that I’m currently doing a whole Italian presentation (in Italian… memorized… irp!) on Venice just so I can talk a little bit about THE THIEF LORD). This book is really, really great, and I loved every second of it. I might have to reread it in the near future, as it was one of those “omgsogreatmustkeepturningpagestoseewhathappensnextohwaitdidIskipthatparagraph?” books.

There are two things that really stood out for me in this: worldbuilding and characterization. Both of them were superb.

Worldbuilding first. RECKLESS is all about Jacob Reckless, a man from our world who found a mirror-portal into another world. This other world is basically every fairy tale imaginable smushed into one place – and given a nasty twist. Everything is both beautiful and sinister at the same time. And Funke so seamlessly integrates each separate fairy tale – Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the golden ball from the Frog Princess, the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel – that it’s very plain that each piece belongs together in that world. It’s an absolutely fascinating concept.

Secondly, characterization. WOW. There are four main characters in the story – Jacob, his younger brother Will, Will’s girlfriend Clara, and Fox, a girl from the Mirrorworld who is able to transform into a fox and is Jacob’s constant companion. There are so many layers to each of these characters it’s unbelievable. Jacob, for example, began leaving his home world for the Mirrorworld at age 12, coming up with increasingly complex excuses, always covering his tracks, and in the Mirrorworld he’s a treasure hunter, skilled at fighting and bribery and theft. But then Will comes to the Mirrorworld and Jacob’s ruthless, cold façade starts cracking. Will is Jacob’s trusting brother, but he is wounded when he follows Jacob through the mirror and is literally turning to stone. Throughout the story all sorts of complexities arise due to tension with his oft-absent older brother and the things the stone is making him forget. Fox is one of those enigmatic characters Funke excels at – you never know everything about her, but you really want to find out. She chooses to spend most of her time as a fox instead of a human, which makes you wonder why. It also adds layer upon layer of problems regarding her relationship with Jacob. Clara starts out like a stereotypically innocent character, and just as I was beginning to think “Clara’s not as complex as the others,” BAM there’s a big secret for Clara to keep. It’s really fascinating.

If that’s not enough to interest you (and it should be), Funke did some really fabulous pencil illustrations for the first page of each chapter. They’re hauntingly beautiful, as is the whole book. Really, I think the only thing that could possibly annoy me about it was that the print was so large and the margins and space around each line so huge. Really? The main character’s 24, we can read slightly smaller print, thanks.

In all seriousness, though, this book is really fantastic. It was a great birthday present (thanks, Mom :) ) and you all should go read it RIGHT NOW.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm Plotting... no, not the evil kind

I have decided that I am terrible at plot.

I get these really great ideas (when I was first querying A Bridge to War so many people were going "historical werewolves? That's so cool!") and then they don't go anywhere. It is most terribly frustrating. The reason I am not currently working on ABtW is because it literally has no plot that I can find. As hard as I try I cannot make sense of it, which is extremely irritating because I absolutely love where the characterization, atmosphere, tone, and prose style were going in that rewrite. When I fix it (and I WILL fix it - I am too fond of that idea and those characters to let it die) some of the stuff from my most recent rewrite will definitely be added. I just need to figure out what to do with it.

And now I'm trying to figure out what to do in the meantime. And I have four potential projects:

1. The steampunky story I teased from on Tuesday. Problem: All premise, no plot whatsoever (seriously, Will is one of the most silent characters I have ever encountered. He won't tell me anything!!!)

2. Another Victorian epistolary novel about a girl who goes to live with her father's regiment in India and all the trouble her brother gets them into. Problem: Ridiculously vague outline, no ending or motivation for anything.

3. A revamped version of the epic fantasy I've had kicking around in my head since freshman year of high school. Problem: Loads of fun characters, no plot.

4. Starting up the graphic novel Ella Fastiggi (update your blog, silly!) and I have planned out based on the short story I wrote involving faerie hunting. Problem: Awesome premise, no ending point (aka... no plot).

I sense a trend, don't you?

So I want to know how you guys come up with plots. Do they just fall out of the sky? Are they the results of meticulous outlining? Somewhere in between? When you've got a great idea but don't know what to do with it, what do you do? Maybe you guys can give me some ideas about what to do with these strange half-stories.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: New Project?

Hi guys! Haven't done one of these in a while... whoops. I haven't been able to write anything in a loooooong time. Yay sleep deprivation!

But now that I have a little time to myself, and enough time to get some sleep, I've been trying to come up with a new project. It's been tricky, since I've decided I'm abysmal at plot (there will probably be a post about this later) but this is a little piece from one of my options. I wrote most of it before history class yesterday and was very excited to have written something at all.

If I wind up going with this one, I believe I shall call it Shadows on the Stars, after a line in the song/poem that inspired it, which is called Sure on this Shining Night. My roommate's chorus just performed it (that's not them, sadly; they were much better) and I've been rather obsessed with it ever since.

So, without further ado:




So, what do you think? Is this worth pursuing? Horribly cliched? Just plain weird? Guy pov, what were you thinking Caitlin? Comments and critiques would be most appreciated!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Not Dead Yet

Wow, it's November already? Sheesh, how time flies when you're buried under six mountains of homework and are running straight from one rehearsal to the next.

What has happened during my impromptu blog hiatus?

Broadway Revue goes up tomorrow (!!!) and I'm terribly excited.

My Personal Essay professor said that my writing had a "self-effacing and therefore likable narrator." Apparently I make fun of myself in my essays? Awesome.

I turned twenty. (Wow.)

And November started. Which means National Novel Writing Month started.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a worldwide internet phenomenon in which just about everybody tries to churn out a 50,000 word novel in a month. It turns novel-writing into a game - if you make it to 50,000 words, you win.

Apparently this year NaNo has been the topic of some controversy (see what you miss when you're buried in work? Jeepers, Caitlin). People (and by people I mean The Internet) seem to be debating the merit of forcing out 50,000 words in a rather insanely short period of time.

For me, NaNo has always been one of those "maybe I should do this" things. This is another year I'm letting it pass me by, for a couple of reasons. One is the horrifically lame "I don't have time" excuse. I know I shouldn't let the fact that this semester is kicking my sorry rear end get in the way of my writing. But when I'm this sleep deprived I can't think about writing. Which leads to my next problem - I haven't really got anything TO write just at the moment. ABtW is hopelessly stuck (I'd say that it's going nowhere fast, but the truth is that it's going nowhere incredibly slowly) and I've decided to put off solving that book's myriad problems till winter break, when I don't have papers and Italian grammar and dress rehearsals to worry about as well.

So after this week I'm going to have to sort through and come up with some kind of plot for something.

I wonder what that will be?

Are any of you doing NaNo? What are your stories about? If you aren't doing NaNo, why not?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


"Words, words, words, I'm so sick of words, I get words all day through, first from him, now from you. Is that all you blighters can do?!"

In my case, this is directed at my professors.

Three papers due this week.

Plus an Italian test.

Plus OMG BROADWAY REVUE NEXT WEEK. Which is exciting. I am very excited.

I am also sleep deprived.


Honestly, I don't think I could churn out fun writing even if I had the time to try. I've written myself out for the moment.

I can has naptime?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Rain, Rain

So remember... three weeks ago when I was all excited and said "Guess who hit 20,000 words, yay!" Well, three weeks later and I have yet to hit 22,000. I am such a terribly slow writer. Slow, and stuck, and so so so busy. Argh.

I'd like some feedback on this scene. Their conversation went in a different direction than I had wanted - I had intended for them to find something in common, but instead it just highlighted how different they are, again. One of those "the character takes the reins" moments, I suppose, but I'd like to know what you think of it.

Background info: it's raining, and they're in a giant tent.




Also, I wanted to thank everyone for your wonderful, thoughtful comments on my dialogue post! You guys rock. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Voices in My Head Say Strange Things Sometimes

This semester, I am taking a class called Personal Essay. It's exactly what it sounds like - a form of creative nonfiction that essentially encompasses a mini autobiography (so instead of telling you about my entire life, I get to tell you about this one time at band camp... (no, I was never at band camp, I just couldn't resist)).

One of the things my professor talks about a lot is dialogue, and how to make it sound natural. We did a free-write style activity where we had to chronicle a recent conversation we had had, making all the people involved sound distinctive and, well, like themselves.


I wrote down the conversation I had with my made-of-awesome roommate when I was freaking out over an Italian presentation I had to do. And I could get the me-freaking-out part just fine. But the her-being-reassuring part? Needless to say, I did not volunteer to read it aloud to the class.

After a few brave people did volunteer, my professor asked us what we thought about the exercise. I told him I thought it was really difficult, because I am used to fiction, where you literally know every facet of your character. You know what they are going to say, how they say it, how they sound when they say it, and why they say it.

Even if, as my professor suggested, you write down or tape conversations with others to get their mode of speech right, there won't ever be a time in real life when you know all of that. I don't think I could even get my best friend down perfectly.

Goodness, but real people are so difficult. :P I find it easier to make realistic sounding dialogue out of nothing than to take a real conversation and keep it from sounding fake. How weird is that?

So what I would like to know is this: how do you approach dialogue? Do your characters ever say things that surprise you? What do you do when they start sounding, well, not like themselves? Do you plan out every single little thing they are going to say? Dialogue is important; it shows an awful lot about a character (or, in the case of my class, a real person). So how do you guys go about creating realistic sounding dialogue out of nothing?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why the Internet is Awesome

SO. Guess who has midterms!!!* Yep, that's right. Me. D: Boo midterms.

I don't have a teaser for you today, but I do have something I wrote for my Personal Essay class. When I got it back (with a nice A on the front :) ) my professor commented "have you put this on your blog yet?" Well, since I haven't, here it is. I apologize if it is terribly long.

When Nerds Unite

I spend a lot of my time on the Internet.

I think that statement is true for most people who are around my age, and would probably still be true for a large number of people if it said that I spend most of my time online. Growing up in the Internet age means growing up using Google as a verb, checking Facebook profiles, and surfing YouTube for funny videos of cats. It has become an integral part of our culture, and I think the truly wonderful part of the internet is that it is an integral part of many cultures. It is something we share.

The first thing I did on Wednesday, August 25th, the first day of classes, (after wanting to throw my alarm clock against the wall when I felt that 9 am was still too early after a night of insomnia) was to make myself a cup of tea and turn on my computer. The first thing I do almost every morning is get onto the Internet and check two of my four email accounts. And then Facebook. And then Absolute Write (a forum for aspiring writers and people at all stages of the publishing industry). And then YouTube (alas, no new videos from John Green, YA author and vlogger extraordinaire).

Even though I do this every morning, I wouldn’t consider myself a computer nerd. I hardly even know what a zipped file is – my best friend is considerably more computer savvy than me, and she had to explain it, even though I still can’t quite grasp the concept. I read books and write instead of playing video or computer games in my free time.

And yet I think the Internet is an integral part of who I am. I have accounts with Blogger and YouTube. I consider many of the people I’ve met at Absolute Write to be my friends. I quote John and Hank Green with alarming frequency.

This tendency to live on the Internet has been coming on gradually. Ever since I figured out that it’s far easier to write books in Word documents on a computer rather than hand-write them in meticulously guarded three ring binders, I have always hogged the computer at my house. When I got my own laptop in preparation for college, my computer usage naturally went up – I feel guilty about it, because my family often jokes that they only see me at meals and that the rest of the time I’m cloistered in my bedroom furiously typing away or staring at a video screen. Which is mostly true, as even without the lure of the Internet I’m a shy and private person.

In January, at the advice of a friend of mine, I joined Absolute Write to learn more about the publishing industry and hopefully figure out how to get my book on the shelves. Then I started blogging. Previously I had figured that no one would want to hear what I have to say, but it turned out that that wasn’t the case. I found that people were actually interested in my little contributions – and that they had little contributions of their own to make.

And then, this summer, I discovered the Vlogbrothers.

I had heard of John Green before – he is the author of Looking for Alaska, among other things, which I had wanted to find and read for a while. But another friend of mine told me to look him up on YouTube, which I did. He runs his channel, Vlogbrothers, with his brother Hank. It began as a year-long challenge to communicate with each other without using textual means such as email. Sometimes John will read from his books or discuss the political situation in Nepal while eating five sheets of toilet paper. Sometimes Hank will play a song he wrote about Harry Potter or explain how to be green without being a jerk. The serious is always paired with the silly, but their messages are clear.

I watched a few of their videos and was instantly hooked. I have now watched them all. All seven hundred and twenty three of them.

I suppose in some ways this could be seen as an essay in my extreme nerdiness. Which is true – I am most certainly a nerd, and I am not ashamed of it. But I am also a Nerdfighter.

The definition of Nerdfighter, as provided by John and Hank, is “a person who, instead of being made out of bones and organs and stuff, is made out of pure awesome.” Nerdfighteria is the online community that has sprung up around their YouTube videos, and, judging by their subscribers list, is a community large enough to be its own country.

It seems odd – nearly 400,000 people watching two brothers talk to each other on YouTube. But it wasn’t long before those videos ceased being a one-to-one discourse and started addressing larger issues. This online community of nerds has done amazing things for their physical communities and for the world. We have raised money for at least half a dozen charities, most recently sending five planes of supplies to Haiti and helping the Harry Potter Alliance win $250,000 to aid in worldwide literacy.

That is what I love about the Internet. Yeah, videos of cute cats on YouTube are always amusing. The fact that information is available almost instantly by searching things on Google or Wikipedia is brilliantly convenient. But what I truly love is how connected it makes all of us.

On Absolute Write, I talk to people from Ohio and Pennsylvania and Georgia and Utah and England and the Philippines and Australia and other places I have forgotten or don’t know about. On YouTube and on my blog I talk about what it is like to be me, and other people talk about what it is like to be them. A community almost as large as the population of Luxembourg banded together as a whole to help those in need. People from opposite sides of the globe interact with people and cultures and ideas they never would have experienced otherwise. They share music and stories, humorous and otherwise. It has turned the Internet into a massive creative collaboration, a place where I can put out an idea and discuss it with people from California or India, something that was nearly impossible only five years ago.

I love that about the Internet. Yes, I am still wary of the downside of such openness, but I find so far that the pros hugely outweigh the cons. I’ve made friends. I’m able to reach out online in a way that I find frightening in person. Through my communities of writers and nerds, I have found that I am not so alone in what I do, what I think, and what I love. I have found a way to contribute to the world, to help make things better – to decrease WorldSuck, as Hank and John would say. I can talk to people whose worldview is different from mine. I can share my opinion with them and hear their opinion in return.

This worldwide collaborative, shared culture is important to me, and I think it will be very important to a lot of people in the future. I’m not one of those people that believes that technology is the be-all and end-all – one small example is that I hate the Kindle with a passion, since Kindles don’t feel or look or smell like a real book – but I do believe that online communities such as Nerdfighteria will have a large part to play soon. Because the Vlogbrothers make their followers think – they pose questions, talk about serious scenarios, ask for real contributions to making the world a better place. I am proud to be a Nerdfighter, proud to have my tiny thoughts ripple across the Internet and create more ripples in other places, proud that my seemingly insignificant contributions actually mean something, due to this wonderful interconnectedness.

I am a nerd. I spend what is probably considered to be far too much time every day on the Internet. And it is probably horrendously dorky and terribly clichéd of me to say, but the Internet has provided me, and hundreds of thousands of people like me, a way to reach out. A way to connect with people across the globe. A way to make this world better. Which is, quite simply, wonderful.

*Also, guess who spent the weekend at her roommate's house and had a really awesome time but got no writing (or, naturally, homework) done? Hehe. Yep.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Stories

Morning, everyone!

Today's teaser is more or less continued from last time's (even though I did get farther than this for once). I do want to share this segment, though - I like it, but I'd like an opinion on it. Technically, this could be a giant block of dialogue, and I'd like to know if it flows this way. :)




Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week!

So Tahereh and The Rejectionist are hosting an epic bonanza of banned book reviews today, in which everyone talks about their favorite banned book.

And I'm going to pull the oh-my-God-obvious card. Right about now. Ready? Okay.

Harry Potter.

Now, while I love the Harry Potter series, it is not my favorite series of books in the world. I get easily irritated with the last few books in the series. They're not the greatest works of literature ever written.

But the thing I love most about Harry Potter is that it has done something that no other book I know of has done - it has connected us on a global level. Talk to just about anyone around the world and you will be able to formulate some kind of conversation about Harry Potter. Maybe they grew up reading Harry Potter. Maybe, like me, Harry Potter taught them to love reading. Maybe their kids read Harry Potter. Maybe they don't have kids but they still read it anyway. Maybe they're ten years old and are just getting into the series for the first time. Maybe they've only seen the movies.

And because we are all so connected because of these books, we can really carry out their message - that it's worth fighting for the good in this world. The fact that something like the Harry Potter Alliance exists and helps real people in real ways, like sending FIVE planes of supplies to Haiti, makes me so, so happy. It's amazing that a book can connect so many people around the world and motivate them to do so many good things. (Although really, what better than a book to do all that?)

Why in God's name would anyone want to try banning that?

Oh yeah. Right.

I'm not even going to bother getting into the fact that the magic in Harry Potter is obviously not real and we are not stupid enough to believe it is. I just have one question for the book banners of the world:

Who died and made you king of the universe?

Seriously, I understand that you're trying to protect morality here. Great. Fine. Good. But it is not your job to tell other people what they can and cannot read. I personally lived a very sheltered childhood, and because of that I'm very sensitive to people reading or watching "inappropriate" things at a young age. I am really disturbed by all the ten-year-olds in the world reading Twilight, 'cause, come on, that's just wrong.

But it is NOT MY JOB to tell them not to read it.

I mean, yeah, if a friend asked me about it, I would say READ HARRY POTTER AND DON'T READ TWILIGHT. EVER. But what you would say to a friend and banning a book from a school library are completely different. My friend could choose to ignore me, but completely removing the opportunity for a child to read a book is just plain wrong.

Many of the books on the ALA list could really help someone who is going through a tough time. Many of them are the classics that we all read in English class. And many of them you look at and just say "huh???"

Maybe Harry Potter isn't the most "important" book in the world. But even though the magic in it is not real, the spirit of it is clearly very, very real indeed. We don't need magic spells to do what Harry did - make friends, believe in himself, stand up for what's right. But we do need books that might show us how to do that.

I wasn't an avid reader as a little kid, but all that changed when my mom got me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. How could something that has instilled a lifelong love of reading be bad? Why would you ever want to stop a child from learning to love to read?

Banning books is not okay, and it should never be allowed to be okay. Reading is far too important a thing to try and stifle.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday:

Guess who hit 20,000 words yesterday?


This is part of what I wrote yesterday. Rose gets some more laundry shoved at her, and she has a conversation with Avar's younger cousin Sergei while she does it.




A side note: This week is Banned Books Week! Huzzah! Go read some banned books!

On Thursday, along with the rest of the internet, I shall be reviewing my favorite banned book. (Uh, yeah, of course I know what I'm going to say already...)

And either tomorrow or Friday, I plan to say what I think about book banning in general. Be prepared for a rant.

In any case, enjoy your Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Laundry Day

Guess who finished another chapter this weekend?

Yes! Me!!! *is very excited*

I also think I've worked out what the plot is (I hope). It's entirely character-driven, though, so that might be a problem...

Anyway, I've been trying to give little tidbits of what Rose's life was like before she got kidnapped by werewolves, but I don't really want to expressly say. I'm hoping that little pieces like this will weave together and create the whole picture without my expressly saying exactly what her life was like.

I hope it's working.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

High School as Hogwarts

So I have this pretty awesome little sister.

And said little sister has some pretty awesome friends.

They decided that high school would be rather more interesting if it were more like Hogwarts.

And since Hogwarts must operate under some form of block scheduling (like we have at my old high school; classes rotate so you don't have the same classes every day), they made a list of all their classes and what they would be if they were classes at Hogwarts.

It goes something like this:

Biology: Herbology
Math: Arithmancy
Chemistry: Potions (lab days: Double Potions.)
Environmental Science: Care of Magical Creatures
English: Charms
Physics: Transfiguration
French (or any foreign language class): Ancient Runes
History: History of Magic
Health: Muggle Studies
Driver's Ed: Flying
Gym: Quidditch
Band: Defense against the Dark Arts
Pass offs-Practical Exams
Creative Writing: Divination

Now of course there are some imperfect comparisons - the band teacher at our high school has been around far too long to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for instance. But still, it's amusing how many things line up quite nicely.

And I don't know about you, but I would be much more inclined to go to gym class if it was Quidditch, or to physics if it was Transfiguration.

Maybe if high school was more like Hogwarts more people would be more interested in it. Which would be nice. Wouldn't it? I think so. High school gets treated as kind of useless by a lot of people, but I think there's a lot to learn from it (and I'm not just saying that because I write books for high school aged people).

I mean, I might never use algebra again but I learned about symbolism (which I use all the time) and writing DBQs (which I'm currently being paid to tutor about) and that I love theatre and writing, and it led me to my awesome friends and my geeky self. Which I don't think is a waste of time.

So turn high school into Hogwarts and capture people's attention! Sounds good to me.

I shall leave you with this:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Road Trip... Thursday?

So I'm sure most of you know about YA Highway and the cool stuff that gets posted over there. I'm especially fond of Field Trip Fridays and the This Week in Random section.

I always glance over there on Wednesdays and read their prompt and think, "hmm, I should do this, that would be a good idea." And then I never do.

But yesterday, when I saw that the prompt was "If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?", I said "OH MY GOD I HAVE TO DO THIS."

And then I promptly fell asleep. For the entire afternoon. (Which was great, but did not leave time for blogging.)

But because I am a history dork, I'm going to post this anyway.

What I *should* say is that I'd like to go to Paris right before the Revolution. It would help if this time-traveling involved instant translation (can I go with the Doctor? Pretty please?) so I could wander around and see what life was like in the months before the Bastille fell. I mean, I know generally - no one had enough to eat, etc etc. But how much did the common Parisian girl know about what was going on with the Estates General? How much did she care?

And while that would be the most useful instance of time travel, it wouldn't be my first choice. My abiding obsession... ahem, I mean love, of the Victorian Era would come in first. After all, in my English class junior year, when we were playing the "what time period do you want to be from?" game and everyone was saying the 60s or the 80s, my entire class turned to me and dubbed me reincarnated from Victorian nobility. I don't think I'd want to stay long - maybe about a monthlong holiday, long enough to have fun in period clothes and dancing with gentlemen who can actually dance and such, but not long enough to get bored of making calls every morning.

Seriously, once time travel is invented, someone is going to make a fortune catering historical vacations. I know I'd be first on line.

So... can I go now? Bustles and dance cards? Please?

How about you guys?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I'm sorry for the lack of a teaser today, guys. School is eating my life. Hopefully I'll be able to write some this weekend.

Until then:

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Metaphors are Cool

As are bowties. And fezzes.

I meant to put this up this morning, but I have been having a profoundly bad day, so that didn't happen.

Again, this is short, because it is STILL from the same chapter as last time. I think I might have finally gotten somewhere with all my myriad outlining attempts. I hope. Argh. Maybe some actual writing will happen soon. That'd be nice.

Anyway, I am quite fond of the metaphors in this, so I hope you like it too. :)



Saturday, September 4, 2010

So Am I Crazy?

I'm taking two writing classes this semester. And in writing classes, one is rather frequently expected to do free writes. And I hate free writes.

Does that make me a bad person?

All these things exist to help make you a better writer - free writes, thought maps, character interviews - and I just can't stand any of them. I've always felt like they're gimmicky and forced. Right now, I am desperately trying to outline A Bridge to War, because I seriously need to, and it is so hard. I'm kind of failing at it.

The way I plot things out (from essays to novels) is sort of a weird method of internal half-outlining. I'll know major points and plan those out meticulously in my head, and then I'll start writing, eventually connecting all those major points together (because yes, I am really picky about writing in order).

But because of class I have to free write. And I suspect that some thought map type things are forthcoming. And I dread that.

At the same time, though, I'm trying to keep an open mind about it, because last year I did learn some good things that I wouldn't have been open to previously. Such as how to let things go and rewrite them, for instance.

But at the same time, I am not sure I can get over my hatred of free writes.

I don't know, guys. Is this one of those writerly matters of personal preference? Or should I just stop whinging and learn to like the free write?

How do you guys organize your thoughts when writing? How do you get started? (Don't worry, I won't hate YOU if you free write. :) )

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: "By the way..."

"... Thank you. For saving my life."
"... You're welcome."

Yes, I watch Disney's Beauty and the Beast too often. Sorry. But that's what this scene is, in Rose and Avar's version of this story.

Also, it's only about a page and a half away from the last teaser. I've been trying to tease from different chapters all the time, but the writing has been slow of late. I hope to change that this weekend (huzzah Labor Day!).

In any case, enjoy!

Rose is being stared and whispered at by a circle of werewolves and she feels trapped (something she really doesn't like).



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fantasy Please?

Hello, blogsphere! I'm back in Ithaca! *dances* Classes may very well drown me with homework this semester! *stops dancing and hides*

Anyway, I've been mulling this post over for a few days and I should finally just sit down and write it (before all that homework falls on me). I seem to have a habit of watching movies a LOT right before I go back to school. The summer before freshman year I watched half a dozen Disney movies on YouTube in a kind of "lalala I can't hear you I'm not leaving home what is this nonsense lalala" way.

This summer, however, I rewatched some of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended edition, of course) and some of the special features. I was reminded why I was so completely obsessed with LotR in middle school (seriously, I dressed up as a Ringwraith for Halloween in seventh grade), but it also made me think.

Why is fantasy never taught in school?

Okay, okay, I know one of the major reasons - fantasy is LONG. I mean, if you need twelve hours of movie time to cover the subject material of a book and there's significant stuff that got left out, that's a pretty long book and probably not good for an English class setting.

But... have you looked at how long Hamlet is? You can't get away with not teaching Hamlet, even if it is long!

When Ella and I went to the panel discussion hosted by Neil Gaiman in New York City, one of the writers, Kat Howard (who I believe is studying for her teaching degree?), mentioned to her colleagues that she wanted to teach a Shakespeare play as a fantasy. Her colleagues all looked at her as though she had three heads and said "but Shakespeare is good."

Implying, of course, that fantasy is inherently not good.

Don't get me wrong, I love Shakespeare and I think there's a lot to learn from it. But I also think there's a lot to be learned from fantasy. After all, there's no better genre to showcase the importance of symbolism, allegory, metaphor. Fantasies of all kinds are just chock full of that.

Again, take LotR. I know Tolkien did not intend for it to be an allegory of WWII, but it can be read that way, and I think that's a very interesting angle to consider. And if you look at the Scouring of the Shire segments, it's got an environmental twist to it - the old-style, natural beauty of the Shire is threatened by orcs and industry at once.

I suppose some people might ask about the relevance of teaching about books where people run around in armor casting magic spells at each other, but if I can bring up an environmental concern in a book published in 1954, then I think there is a lot of relevance in fantasy, no matter what the setting. I think there are a lot of ideals in fantasy worth teaching. Isn't Sam's big speech in The Two Towers all about the good in the world that is worth fighting for? I think that is a noble ideal - why is fantasy not even discussed when so often that is the central crux of the story?

To a lesser extent, sci-fi is also ignored in English classes, but you do get some of that, whereas fantasy isn't represented at all. People read 1984 and Brave New World in English class - I even had an English class last semester that was ALL sci-fi (but that's college, which is decidedly more awesome than high school). Why can't fantasy edge in? How cool would it be to read The Golden Compass for English class - doesn't that have just as many "coming of age" themes as some of the classics we read in high school?

The Golden Compass also has one thing that almost every book I read for class in high school lacks - a female protagonist. Now, I know that fantasy (unless it's YA fantasy, which often makes a deliberate point to put girls into the spotlight) also usually has male main characters, but unlike books like A Separate Peace and All Quiet on the Western Front, girls are actually, you know, present. Which is nice. Eowyn kills the Witchking - and does it because she is a woman and not a man. How awesome is that?

So, I think English classes should stop ignoring fantasy. I think English teachers should take on a book like The Golden Compass (which you could probably teach without needing to read the second two books in the trilogy) and see what happens. Maybe doing something different from the usual lineup of classics would actually get more kids interested in reading. Even if it doesn't, I think there is a lot to learn from fantasy and that it should not be relegated solely to the realm of nerds who read for fun (which is a good place, don't get me wrong). I think everyone could benefit from a healthy dose of fantasy.

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Desperation

Hi guys! *waves* I'm back in Ithaca! Yay! Classes start tomorrow... boo. But today I'm going to just be decorating my dorm room and catching up on some writing things, hopefully, before I get sucked into the world of homework and never have time ever again.

Maybe what I will do today is sit down and force myself to actually bloody outline this novel. Because I really need to do that if I want to keep working on it. I can't just flounder my way through it anymore.

I did finally get some work on it done the other day, though, which was exciting. Short bit today, in which Rose is desperate to the point of begging to go home. It doesn't quite work out as planned.

Oh, have I introduced Avar's older brother on the blog yet? Vartan's a creeper.




Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bad Caitlin

I apologize, blogsphere. I've been a bit of a failure when it comes to blogging lately.

I meant to write a review of I Am the Messenger and/or Thirteenth Child. I didn't.

I meant to actually sit down and power through my spot of "oh bother, what in the world comes next in this dratted story?!?!" and write something so I could tease. I didn't.

I believe that all of this is due to the case of back-to-school mopes that hit me pretty hard. Actually, I meant to write about that as well (sorry, Tahereh, that's what I meant about the you-esque post). About dealing with writerly and otherwise moping with lots of tea and mom-hugs (Mom, you're the best ever) and some really good Nerdfighter music.

But guess what? I didn't do that either.

What I DID do was watch an awful lot of YouTube videos, talk a lot to this girl here, receive several more form rejections in my querying inbox, and rewrite my query.

So, since said query is the only thing productive I've done in days, and because I quite like this version and would like to make sure it is brilliant and shiny and ready to send out, I shall post it here!

Get out your red pens, readers. :)

Dear Agent o' Awesome:

When Emily Bell is taken from school into London society, she is miserable. Leaving behind her life of books and magic to please her disapproving Mamma also means leaving charming Oliver Wycliffe, a boy she has known for some time and has come to love. She tries to hide her misery along with her magic, writing only portions of the truth to her best friend and her sister. It is only in her unsent letters to Oliver that she feels she can truly be herself, a self she is rapidly losing amidst the London fog.

Emily is jolted out of that fog when Oliver is turned into a white rabbit and disappears, and an untrustworthy magician by the name of Mr. Stanton asks for her assistance with a spell. She discovers that her spell is to be used for dark purposes, and she is the only one who can stop him. Desperate to find Oliver before she loses her love to a cat, and feeling guilty for her rash decision to help Mr. Stanton, Emily must disobey her mother and use her magic. But it also means leaving the safety of her books and risking everything – and Emily’s newfound strength might not be up to the task.

LETTERS TO OLIVER is a YA historical fantasy in epistolary form, complete at 60,000 words, which I hope will appeal to fans of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and SORCERY & CECELIA.

I am also working on another YA novel which involves the French Revolution and werewolves.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: The Beginning

So since productivity has not been my middle name of late, I thought I'd show you the opening paragraphs of A Bridge to War. After all, opening lines are important. Would these catch your eye if you were browsing in a bookstore?



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things for August

So, hallo blogsphere! (Apparently that's actually blogosphere, but I thing blogsphere sounds nicer, don't you?)

Guys, how did it get to be August already? Seriously, it seems like I was frantically pounding out the last pieces of Letters to Oliver only a few weeks ago - and that was in May! Time flies when it's summer...

I go back to school on the 23rd, and of course am excited to go back and have cool classes and be in the amazing place that is Ithaca and see all my friends. But I will miss home, and I am still enjoying summer very much, and I am taking two writing classes that I fear will grossly interfere with my personal writing time. Ah well. Such is life.

Anyway, a few random notes before returning to our normally scheduled programming.

The first is that the lovely and talented Vee of Ramblings of a Writer is having a contest! I have experienced her skill as a beta and would love one of those fifty-page critiques she's offering!

The second is regarding regularly scheduled programming. I have two more book reviews I might do (I Am the Messenger definitely; Starclimber maybe), as well as weekly teasers of course. I'm also feeling a post in the mode of Tahereh in the near future.

But I'm not making this blog for me (although comments are nice I love comments yaaaaay comments). I believe the whole point of putting content on the internet, whether it be Blogger or YouTube or what-have-you, is to start a discussion. To connect with people that don't live near you or share different views, people you would not ordinarily be able to talk to. To toss your ideas out and see what other people think.

So. My question to you is, what do you want to discuss?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: You Confuse Me

Hey guys!

So, remember that scene I kept promising you guys?


Just to clarify: Vartan, Avar's brother, is quite good with magic. To keep Rose from running away he put an invisible barrier that she can't pass through around the werewolf camp.



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Review: The Sky is Everywhere

I'd like to preface this review by saying something: I HATE dead sister books. And dead best friend books. And any other book where the main point is the character coping with the loss of someone close to them. In my experience, the book becomes a two-hundred page stream of angst. And while I completely, 100% realize that a person in such circumstances in entitled to their share of angst, that doesn't mean I want to read a book about it.

Plus, they're depressing. There is a reason I'm afraid to read Going Bovine, even though Libba Bray is one of my favorite authors.

But, I read three raving reviews of The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, so I added it to the pile of books I got from the library.

And before I get down to the detailed review, I'd just like to say that it is truly a gorgeous book. It made me smile as often as it made me cry. It might not have warmed me up to dead sister books, but the fact that there was another plot going on - the main character Lennie's conflicted feelings about new-boy Joe and sister's-boyfriend Toby - really made the weight of her grief bearable for the reader. Or, at least, for me.

Now, as neither dead sisters or boy-crazy teenaged girls are my favorite plots ever, there are really two things that sold this novel for me and made me keep writing. (Well, two and a half if you consider that Joe is wildly adorable.)

One was the writing. The other was Lennie.

Oh my God but this book is beautifully written. I've heard that it was originally a novel in verse, but even though the majority of it is now in prose, its poetic roots really show through, and not just in the many poems that Lennie writes and leaves lying around (it's kind of like you're stumbling around her town discovering her poetry, it's rather neat). With poetry, I feel like you have to be ten times more meticulous about every single word, and I think this whole book was written with that in mind. It's as though this entire book is one long prose poem, even if it isn't written in verse.

I also love it when the title comes into play in a big way in books, and that is clearly the case here. Can't tell you why, though. Spoilers.

Lennie was the second reason I stuck with and liked this book in spite of a plot that would not necessarily have grabbed me. I was left for an hour in a rather large library, so of course I came away with a huge stack of books. I read the first pages of all of them, and when I opened The Sky is Everywhere, it was almost as though Lennie grabbed me by the hand, pulled me into her world, made me a cup of tea and started telling me her story. She is just that realistic. I sympathized with her instantly, and not just because she was in a terrible situation. She was so well rounded - she's a character with many, many layers, and they slowly unfold throughout the novel in a really fantastic and interesting way.

In the end, I'm glad I read this book. It isn't one of the ones I want to reread - actually I will probably avoid rereading it. I don't like crying. But because of Lennie's character I am glad I bent my rule about dead sister books and gave this one a shot.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: And We're Walking...

This WiP is giving me a headache.

Well, that's not new. It's going on its fourth year of giving me a headache, really.

I think my problem is that I have too many very distinct plots and no way to mesh them as of yet.

I fully intend to figure this out today and then I will start writing this rewrite in earnest.

In the meantime, have some internal monologue while Rose is being marched off to meet more werewolves.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Review: Linger

Greetings, blogsphere! How are you this afternoon? Well, I hope!

So on Tuesday I said that I'd been thinking about doing a Linger review, and here I am doing it. WARNING: I am going to try and keep this as unspoilery as possible, but nevertheless, if you have not yet read the book, read this at your own risk.

I was a little worried about it initially, because I was afraid it would fall into the "second book syndrome" category. You know, where everything seems really forced and it's just so that the author can get on to the really good stuff in the third book. This syndrome is probably best illustrated not in book form, but in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

But Maggie Stiefvater is a brilliant writer, and even though Shiver is a beautiful book with a perfect ending, this picks up and continues brilliantly. It's like a look into what happens during the "happily ever after" in fairy tales - and in this case, it's not so happy. I did think it was a little bit "lead in to the third book"-ish, but not terribly so, and it was not at all annoying. I thought the conflict was clever and believable after what had happened in the first book, and I like how at the beginning, it is clearly stated that "it's never over," which I thought set the tone very well, as the events of Shiver seemed finished but clearly were not.

So, enough about Linger conquering second book syndrome, onto the book itself.

Have I mentioned that I love Grace and Sam? Well, I love Grace and Sam. So, so much. Not only are they both brilliantly characterized (some nice quirks I saw for them this time around were Sam's love of healthy tea and paper cranes, and Grace's desire for a red coffee pot), they fit so well together it is insane. THIS should be the model on which rabid fangirls base their relationships, not on certain sparkly vampires and empty-headed girls. I love the way their relationship carried on after the events of Shiver; it was very natural and believable.

Grace's parents play a much larger role in Linger than they did in Shiver, and I think that their attitude to what is happening makes sense, given their characters. I can't say more about that without giving anything away, so I will move on to the one and only thing that sort of set me on edge while reading this book.

That thing is Cole. He's a new character introduced at the end of Shiver, one of the new wolves brought in by Beck to help strengthen the pack. He is cocky, uncooperative to the nth degree, and suicidal. And, to my mind, he exists in the novel for two reasons only: one is to provide scientific know-how to fuel the plot, and the other is to be the perfect foil for Sam.

The first point irritates me slightly more than the second, because he spends the whole book insisting that he is nothing like his scientist father, and yet it is knowledge from his scientist father that is what counts. Not his own knowledge, and I didn't feel like spouting stuff from Dad made much sense for his character, but it needed to be there in order for the end of the book to happen.

The second point makes sense, really. In the absence of Beck, Sam is in charge of the pack, so Cole certainly challenges his authority. The two characters are really mirror images of each other - they're both even musicians. And Cole's "relationship" with Isabel is the perfect counterpoint to Sam's relationship with Grace, which means a lot in the context of some of the things Grace's mom says about Sam. But while this is really interesting from, say, an English-class-style viewpoint, it didn't really make me care much about his character, and there were several times where I was itching to get back to Grace or Sam's pov, because, have I mentioned I love them?

But, such is the hazard of a multiple pov book - everybody always picks favorites. I know that'll be something I will have to face if Letters to Oliver is ever published *fingers crossed.*

All in all, I thought this was a wonderful book. I raced through it in under four hours (some of that was standing in the bookstore while my mom browsed), and as soon as I finish my stack of library books I want to read it again. Out of five, I think I'd give it 4.5 stars - I still think I liked Shiver better, but it was an excellent book and I loved every second of those four hours I spent reading it.

EDIT: I just discovered that Linger debuted as NUMBER ONE on the NY Times Bestseller List. Congratulations, Maggie, it's a fantastic book and you deserve it!


Sidenote: I have 50 followers now, hurrah!!

Would you guys like to see more book reviews? I have just finished The Sky is Everywhere and I've been thinking about reviewing that as well. I also have Thirteenth Child and I Am the Messenger on my to be read pile. What thinkest thou, blogsphere?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Werewolves are Weird

Point A) Sorry there's been nothing since last Teaser Tuesday. I've been contemplating doing a Linger review, but I will have to see if I can manage that without being spoilery. Do you guys want to see that?

Also, the HPA won!!! HAPPY DANCE TIME!

Point B) So... the bonding moment I have been trying to get for a few days now is still not written yet. Avar and Rose much prefer to argue with each other.

Therefore, here is a bit more arguing.

After their last exchange, a few more werewolves show up and decide it's not a good idea to let Rose march home. Also, they've been walking all day and Rose lost her shoes. Whoops...



Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Mindgames

This teaser comes with a message beforehand. Last night, I had planned on writing some more of the next chapter, which would be what I put into this teaser. That will have to wait till next week, however, as I was badgering everyone I could think of to vote for the Harry Potter Alliance to win a contest which gives the winning charity $250,000. HPA is a really worthwhile cause and, as of last night and because of everyone's help, we were unofficially winning by more than 3,000 votes. We won't know the official results till sometime today, but I'll let everyone know. I just wanted to say to everyone on Absolute Write and Facebook that I begged and pleaded to vote yesterday, I really appreciate it and I thank you for never forgetting to be awesome.

And so, without further ado, teaser! To clarify: Avar was hurt by the gryphon that chased them both out of Paris.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Back to Oliver

Is it Tuesday?

Yes, it seems to be.

Well then.

Oliver is a rabbit. Emily can't find him. Cue flashback?



Friday, July 2, 2010

Writing Space!

So, the ever-lovely Tahereh pointed out that The Rejectionist did a post today on writing spaces, and has asked to see where everyone is hard at work writing the next great American novel. And I thought, that's fun, I should do that!

So, here follows a great deal of LARGE photos, because I fail at resizing things. Apologies.

I write in my bedroom (when I go back to school I'll have to do another one of these), which is really quite small but lovely and cozy. I do need to repaint it and get rid of the border we put up when I was 13.

Because writing, as everyone knows, is fueled by caffeine. Mine happens to be tea. This is the mug I drink most of that tea from. It is sitting atop the printout of Letters to Oliver.

My bulletin board, which sits behind my computer and contains reminderly post-it-notes (what would I do without post-it-notes?) and a mini calendar of Paris.

My wonderful laptop. It is named Deep Thought. And has the TARDIS console screen as its desktop.

The bookshelf my Dad and I built to go on top of my bed in the place where the top bunk used to be.

And, of course, your friendly neighborhood writing assistant, a cat. His name is Sandy. This is a two cat family; however, the other cat declined to be photographed.

And that is the place in which I write. And also sleep, and read, and lounge about with friends, and such.

Speaking of writing, I should go do some.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: Awkward Introductions

Well, it's technically Tuesday, right? *grins* I'm going to post this now rather than in the morning because I don't think I'll have time later. I promise I'll read everyone's, though!

Also, sorry for the doom-and-gloom post on Saturday, but thanks for the cheery comments! The you-suck soundtrack was blaring rather loudly in my head, but it was combated with a healthy dose of determination, brand-new orange-flowered Wellingtons, and charlieissocoollike. :)

In any case, Rose and her werewolf shadow have been chased out of Paris by a gryphon, which seems to have finally gotten tired of looking for them. That's when Rose starts asking questions.

I sincerely hope the dialogue is right this time around. *bites fingers*




Sunday, June 27, 2010

Writer's Block

(Warning: rather uncheery post ahead.)

Yes, my friends, that evil thing has attacked me. I'm not sure what exactly has me stuck - I think it's a combination of laziness, frustration, and flat-out fear. The scene I'm attempting to work on (and yes, I work in order, I hate skipping around) is just not working out. Possibly because I already wrote it, in a sense, and all of what comes after it as well, so I am used to these characters as they will become, not as they are in this point in their story. Which is weird.

Also, I'm trying to keep in line with the historical and rather dark new tone of this but to me, it just feels stilted and disjointed and I'm never sure if I'm doing the right thing.

Yes, yes, I know. Edits. Edits are key. And they are indeed wonderful. But tone is not something that can be fixed with edits - that's the whole reason I'm rewriting A Bridge to War from scratch. And I think rewriting it again, if I get it wrong again this time, will not only be annoying as all hell but a complete waste of my time.

But anything I say about my current state of writer's block just seems like an excuse, and often not a very good one at that. The long and short of it is that I feel rather off whenever I try and write, and so I've not been forcing it.

I think part of the reason I'm so stuck is that I don't really know where I'm going with this. I'm not sure just how many plot elements from version one I'm keeping, and how to make them work in version two, and how to work all that around existing historical events.

What I think I'll do tomorrow is outline the heck out of this and see if that helps at all. I sincerely hope it does.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: As One Door Closes...

... a gryphon tries to eat you.

After Rose and Avar's (still referred to here as "the werewolf") initial meeting, Rose discovers why he was in her alleyway and stealing her laundry - he's trying to get away from the determined gryphon who wants to eat him. And then, when she appears, the gryphon decides she would make a nice dessert.

Also, to anyone who might know more about the layout of Paris in 1789 than I do, firstly I apologize if there is not a gate or a wall in this particular location; the map I have seems to suggest that there is. And secondly, TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.



Friday, June 18, 2010

Blog Awards!

Shiny new layout is shiny. ^_^

So I have just received a blog award! Yaaay! Actually, I got the same one from three different people. Hehe. Karla Nellenbach, Caitlin Darrell (who spells her name right! :D), and Ellen all gave me this award:

And of course, blog awards always come with lovely sets of rules. Which are as follows:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

So, seven things about me.

1. I have been dancing since I was four years old.
2. I read each of the last three Harry Potter books in eleven hours or less (eleven hours for each one, not for all three!)
3. I have two cats, and they are adorable.
4. I am Curtain Master at my sister's dance show tonight!
5. Did I mention I went to go see Neil Gaiman?!?!
6. I am quite tempted to start videoblogging. And maybe writing songs?
7. With the possible exception of my writing, I am really not that interesting.

So, because I am a fail and don't know that many people (and because this award seems to have gone around to half the universe already), I'm going to cheat and only do five.

1. Ella Fastiggi of The Language is Broken.
2. Claire of Confessions of an Anime Lover.
3. Race of Creare.
4. Amber Forbes of Amber's Editorial Dream.
5. Dys of Fabrica Scribendi.

Woot! :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oh. My. God.

I apologize for not posting a teaser yesterday. I know excuses are lame, but I have a very good excuse.


Aside from the fact that Stardust and Good Omens are some of my favorite books ever and Coraline and The Graveyard Book are the cleverest and scariest and most unique and most interesting children's books I've read since I was a kid, this was amazing because I got to sit in an auditorium with 600 other nerds (one of whom was, of course, my best friend Ella) and listen to grown-up (although Neil insists he is not a grown up) authors talk about things I think about every day. Because I am a writer, and I spend most of my time at school and online with other aspiring writers, I do know that writers aren't otherworldly, unapproachable, godlike beings, but still, it is an amazing thing to hear one of your favorite writers talk about things you think about and agree with your opinions.

Ella and I had no idea what to expect from an event like this, never having gone to any author events (something, I think, that this experience has changed. I fully intend to go to EVERY author event I can from now on). Also, it was New York City. And Neil Gaiman. And the event was free, and on a first-come-first-serve basis.

So we arrived at Columbia Teacher's College at NOON. The event did not begin until 7.

Blogsphere, I think I can safely say that we a) were the first ones there, and b) are some of the nerdiest people on the face of the planet.

We actually didn't sit around at the door for seven hours. We got there, talked to a security guard who was not even aware there was an event there that day, and then walked the few blocks back to Morningside Park, where we spend four hours in the company of a lovely picnic lunch, some SPF 100 (because we are pathetically pale), and a Mister Softee ice cream truck that insisted upon driving back and forth in front of the park nonstop for at least two hours. It was a lovely afternoon, and we started up what might turn into a video blog of our adventures this summer.

At four, we went back to the college to wait. There was no one else there, so we sat down on the steps of what we thought was the front of the building. I pulled out Ella's copy of American Gods and started reading it, holding it up so that any passing nerds could see "Neil Gaiman" in big letters on the front and come tell us what to do. It worked - we met a very nice young man who said he was waiting around the other side of the building, so we followed him. This was when we found ourselves first in an actual line. Whoa.

This was also the weird part of the day. Out of all the nice, nerdy people, Ella and I also ran into a rather creepy guy who was blatantly hitting on us from 4 in the afternoon till the show started a little after 7. (Seriously, I think I must have gotten an "I heart creepers" sign tacked to my back without my knowledge, because although that is most definitely not true, I seem to attract only the REALLY weird people at nerdy events.) But the original guy who showed us where to go was very nice (and also an aspiring writer) as was the woman who wound up sitting next to me. Nerds are great people. :)

At about five o'clock, they opened the doors without telling us and we discovered that there was another line forming inside. So we went from being first to being about twentieth in line, but that didn't really matter. We still wound up in the second row. And we got in, which we hadn't been certain of that morning when we set out, so our goal had been achieved!

And then, around seven, all the authors filed in and began to talk. They were promoting an anthology Neil Gaiman had edited with Al Sarrantonio. In attendance were Kurt Andersen, Lawrence Block, Jeffrey Ford, Joe Hill, Kat Howard (whose story in this anthology is her first published work and was written in 19 hours and then sent off. WHOA), and Walter Mosley. Everyone except Walter read an excerpt from their story, and all of them sounded really interesting. I am not a big fan of short stories, but I do like hearing authors read aloud from their work (I'm going to have to work on that, considering that I HATE doing it...).

After that, there were moderator-directed questions and some audience questions, and while Walter Mosley basically stole the show, I was sitting there drinking in every word Neil Gaiman had to say. He said some pretty hilarious things (including telling one audience member what a question was when he had forgotten what to say), but I think one of my favorites was when he was talking about unexpected plot twists. He was saying that it is not so much the character popping up and taking the bit and running away from you, which I hear about a lot and which has always sort of worried me, because that doesn't happen to me. I've always worried that because that's never happened I was writing my characters incorrectly or something - because they weren't directly bossing me around (other than in a "write me write me write me NOW" sense), they weren't as real as I wanted them to be. But Neil Gaiman was saying that for him, it isn't so much a character running away with the plot as the realization that what you have been planning inevitably and logically leads up to something that you had not been planning. And that, to me, makes complete sense.

After that, we joined the crowd of people thronging around Neil and I got Ella's copy of American Gods signed and could not think of anything to say to him (honestly, when the person before you says that he is an inspiration to her every day and thank you for all the beautiful words, and all you can think of is "Stardust is one of my favorite books, I love it," your mouth just sort of stays shut) and then we wrestled our way out of the building and headed back to the subway. Where, of course, the extreme brilliance of the day was capped by a man subway surfing with a guitar.

And then we went to Port Authority, waited around, caught a bus, and went home to have a much needed cup of tea. There really were too many fantastic things yesterday to take in. Considering that I woke up today with a splitting headache, I think I still can't quite process it.

But you know what? It was absolutely, positively worth it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Because John Green is a Genius

So at school, I met another writing major named Sarah. Sarah is a Nerdfighter - specifically a "person who is made out of awesome instead of blood and organs and things," and unspecifically part of an internet community started by John Green and his brother Hank. Sarah told me some pretty cool things about Nerdfighting and about John Green's books. I had heard of Looking for Alaska and wanted to read it because I heard it was pretty good.

Cue summer. As I was finishing up Letters to Oliver, I took breaks/procrastinated by watching John and Hank's vlogbrothers on YouTube. Yes, all 678 of them. (I obsess over things. Whoops.)

I have also read all four of John Green's books, and own two of them. So I can say two things with extreme confidence: one, that I am now a bona fide Nerdfighter, and two, that John Green is an amazingly talented writer.

Looking for Alaska, which of course has nothing to do with the state, is a really powerful book. It is raw and honest, both in an emotional sense and in a sense of the action on the page. It absolutely feels real, which is one of the reasons it is so heartwrenching. It is broken into a "before" and an "after," and because I knew that, and because of the title and the summary, I knew exactly what that before and after were leading up to. But really, that didn't matter. The book still made me cry, and while I will admit that I cry like a small child at movies and Broadway shows, it usually takes a lot in a book to make me cry. But John Green has this amazing talent for blending the poetic with the starkly realistic, something I'll talk more about later.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is his most recent book, but I'm going to talk about it now because I'm going in order of how much I liked them. Not that I disliked either Looking for Alaska or Will Grayson, Will Grayson - they were both great; I just liked his other two a little bit more. WG,WG tells the story of two characters with the same name who meet up and whose lives become intertwined. This is a really good example of the other thing I love so much about John Green - his quirky characters. His characters always seem to have at least one defining quirk. Pudge in Looking for Alaska memorizes famous people's last words; Colin in An Abundance of Katherines loves anagramming; Q in Paper Towns is always nervous. John's Will Grayson has rules for life and likes keeping himself perpetually average. His side characters are all well rounded as well - Tiny Cooper, for example, is just hilarious, and I can absolutely imagine a person like that. WG, WG is a particularly good example of John Green's amazing characterization because it is cowritten by David Levithan, and his chapters, possibly because of the IM-ing style, were not as captivating. We're so much in the head of the all-lowercase and rather emo will grayson that none of the other characters pop at all, and don't really catch my sympathy. Tiny Cooper can be annoying as all hell, but I still want to give him a hug; on the other hand, I just want to punch Maura in the face.

An Abundance of Katherines
is much more lighthearted than anything else he's written, and I really want to give Colin a hug. This book was quirky and fun, but it didn't throw aside the bigger issues that John Green likes to make us think about - he just looked at them from a different angle. Also, this book has footnotes. Humorous footnotes are some of my favorite things ever, and there are lots of them in this one. And because Colin is a former child prodigy, you learn a lot of interesting things from it as well - like why the shower curtain blows into the shower, and not out. And that Tesla liked pigeons. I think the only problem I had with this book was the ending - it felt a little bit "and the moral of the story is" to me, but it made sense within the book, I guess, as the prologue was like that as well. All in all, however, this was fun and I enjoyed it very much.

Paper Towns
, however, might just be my new favorite book. It is absolutely, blow-your-mind amazing. Remember when I said that he's got this amazing talent for blending the poetic and the realistic? Well, if he did that well in his first book, in Paper Towns, his third, he has absolutely perfected the technique. I suppose it helps that the book has an awful lot to do with Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself," but still. The book is all about misimagining other people, which everyone does, all the time. And Q explains it perfectly.

When did we see each other face-to-face? Not until you saw into my cracks and I saw into yours. Before that, we were just looking at ideas of each other, like looking at your window shade but never seeing inside. But once the vessel cracks, the light can get in. The light can get out. -- Paper Towns, pg 302

Not only is the plot thrilling and the prose absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, the ending - which is possibly the hardest part about writing fiction, as it is inherently fake; the only way things end in real life is with death - is PERFECT. Obviously I can't tell you why, but it is bittersweet and beautiful and just absolutely PERFECT.

I'll stop fangirling now and will instead implore you to go read some John Green books - especially Paper Towns. He is amazing, and you won't regret it.


Btw - John reading the prologue of Paper Towns.