Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Reminiscence

Man, it's getting hard to find teasers that aren't chock-full of spoilers...

This is a short while after the last teaser; Rose is sitting in the dark with Avar and pondering. She ponders a lot, but this is actually an instance where her mind drifts to something good, rather than imagining something terrible.

Can you please let me know if the symbolism hammer is beating you about the head? Thanks.




Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strong Heroine Study Guide

Or rather, recommendation list. I thought since last week I blogged about what I think makes a strong heroine (and what doesn't cut it) I'd give you a list of some of my favorites. Please tell me your favorites in comments!!

This list does not include just about every character Tamora Pierce has ever written. That goes without saying. :P

In no particular order:

1. Liesel Meminger, THE BOOK THIEF
2. Rose, EAST
3. Gemma Doyle, A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and sequels
4. Meggie, INKHEART trilogy
5. Elizabeth Bennet, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
6. Grace, SHIVER trilogy
7. Bianca Piper, THE DUFF
10. Kate & Cecelia, SORCERY & CECELIA trilogy

I'm sure there are some more I could think of as well, but for the most part, what I like about these characters is that they don't feel the need to parade how strong they are. They just quietly stick to their guns, muddle through their problems both on their own and with their friends, and they get through it. To me, that seems so much more real than attacking the problem head-on with a baseball bat or giving it snark all the time. These characters take what they've been dealt and make it work.

Who are some of your favorite strong heroines?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Lost in the Darkness

Hello, all! I wrote a lot over break. A LOT. Just an absurd amount. It was great. Although I am now getting to the point where I have to choose my teasers carefully so as not to be too spoilery. ;)

So, Rose and Avar have nearly been caught red-handed, but they make it back to the tunnels safely and have this conversation.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

Heroine Addict - What Makes for Some Serious Girl Power?

I've been mulling this post over for a long time. Some might say I've been mulling it over since long before I had a blog, since the issue of strong heroines has always been very important to me. For years, I was always drawn more strongly to the female characters in the story, even if they were only on the periphery. I haven't ever written anything more than a short story from a male pov (and that will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future: I'm dreadful at male pov). Part of the reason I started to write was because I read Tamora Pierce's books and said "yeah! Girls can run around with swords too! I want to write stuff like that!"

So I love a good strong heroine. I can't stand wimpy female characters - that was the reason that both Mansfield Park and The Forest of Hands and Teeth got tossed aside about fifty pages in.

But there seem to be two "easy routes" to strong characters that a lot of people take, and neither of them work. See this Let the Words Flow post on how Sassy Does Not Equal Strong, and my friend Vee's post on What Makes a Strong Heroine.

Strength means more than having a witty comeback for everything tossed the character's way. Strength means more than being able to beat the boys at swordplay. In fact, I would argue that a lot of the time, both those things are only cover ups for characters who are really quite insecure.

And now it's unpopular opinion time! Case in point: Katniss Everdeen.

Katniss is always the one whose name gets tossed out first in the strong heroine category nowadays. And in The Hunger Games, that is certainly true. She goes through some rough stuff and comes out on top, and not just because of her butt-kicking abilities. But in Catching Fire and Mockingjay, that strength goes away. She lets other people make the decisions for her. She becomes a figurehead, a symbol of strength, rather than an actually strong person. I can't say I blame her; she's in way over her head, for sure. But she wouldn't get my vote in the strongest heroine contest.

Another thing that I hate is when people try and make their female characters strong way out of context. (Unless of course that's the whole point, like, say, Pierce's Alanna books.) Like a Victorian "lady" who talks back to everyone and can hold her own at whatever she's set to. Strength can be a quiet thing too. You don't have to be loud to stand up to adversity. You don't have to completely dismantle the rules put in place by the time period or setting. Because then it just seems a little bit ridiculous, not an earnest portrayal of girl power at all.

My idea of a strong character is one who makes her own choices, makes her own mistakes, owns up to her own failings. She might fall, but she'll pick herself back up. She might have help, but she doesn't rely completely on that help.

And yes. She might beat a few of the boys at fencing along the way.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: A Sweet Repetition

Hi guys! I wrote SO MUCH yesterday. It was fantastic.

So... have some cuteness. Avar has messed something up terribly, hence why he's so upset, and Rose has been trying to cheer him up a bit.




Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Student Writer During Midterms Week

There is a reason for this list, which I shall explain at the end.

1. Alarm goes of at 9 am. In spite of having gone to bed before midnight for once in your life, feel like you haven't slept in years and want nothing more than to fall back to sleep.

2. Get up. Check email. Make tea. Eat granola bar. Get dressed.

3. Go to Fiction class. Make comments in workshops, even though most of the class is too burnt out from midterms to say anything.

4. At end of Fiction class, hear someone say to the professor "do you want our journal entries?" You have completely forgotten about said journal entries. Cry a little inside. Beg professor for extension. Get extension.

5. Go back to dorm room. Panic about Italian midterm. Eat lunch. Panic more.

6. Take Italian midterm. Not actually too bad.

7. Go back to dorm room. Write a couple of poems of questionable quality for class the next day.

8. Go to history. Hand in midterm. Relax for a few seconds before remembering to panic about the journal entries you didn't do.

9. Eat dinner.

10. Go back to dorm room. Eat chocolate. Write poems and read articles for composition theory.

11. Somehow it is 10:45. Look at journal entries. Realize that you had this exact same assignment for this professor last year, and you now have to redo the whole thing in two days. Bang head on book.

12. Start writing journal entries. Hope your parody of Hills Like White Elephants is bad enough.

13. Shower.

14. Go to bed. At 1:45 am.

15. Alarm goes off at 9. Get up. Make tea. Write blogpost. Start all over.

So there is a reason behind this list. That reason is less that I am extremely annoyed with myself for having completely forgotten that one assignment (I never forget things like that) and more that I have been very busy lately. I had a show last weekend and this week is midterms.

And when I get busy like this, I don't have any time to write for myself. And whenever that happens, I feel guilty. Every day I don't open up my Word Document (which has been so long that it is no longer on my pulldown 'open file' list in Word), I feel like a bad person. I get that nagging little voice in the back of my head "you'll never be a real writer if you don't write every day." "You have to MAKE time, if this is what you really want to do." "Who needs sleep anyway?" "Write! Write! Write!"

And you know what? I'm beginning to think that's not fair. Sure, writers need to write. Obviously. But sometimes things happen. Sometimes you're busy. Sometimes you have a show one week and midterms the next, with 220 pages of history reading to do in between. Sometimes there really is no time, and we need to focus on the things in our life that aren't writing.

That should be okay.

So I am hereby giving myself (and you all) permission to go easy on myself (and yourselves). I give permission to stop stressing out about meeting wordcount goals. It'll get finished. You know you will finish it. Right now there are other things you need to focus on, and that's all right. You focus on those things, and when school/work/family/whatever calms down, you will make the time. You will get it done. Just do what you need to do, and don't worry about being a "real writer," because you are. Taking a break doesn't change that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The best way to tackle midterms

... is like this:

Even during midterms week, there are still some good things about college. Like fourteen inches of snow and best friends.

Happy Tuesday! :)

(I promise to post something on Thursday this time. Most of the madness will be over by then.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Blitz (short story)

Hello, blogsphere! Again, I apologize for my failure to post anything on Thursday... it's been a bit rough here in college-land.

Also, it's March already?! How'd that happen??

Today's teaser isn't from my lovely werewolf novel (even though I've been itching to get back to that, I haven't had any time to write for myself recently. I know I should make time, but any free time I've had lately has been devoted to sending emails and trying desperately to sleep), but from a short story I'm working on for class. The prompt was that the action has to come from the protagonist's relationship to the setting, so, naturally, being the dork I am, I set it during the London Blitz.

Now, I'm four pages into this 7-12 page assignment, and honestly I have no sense of an actual plot for this thing yet, but I kind of like the descriptions in this opening so... bear with me. Let me know if this is horribly cliched / horrible in general? Thanks. :)


Sophie didn’t want to stay inside anymore. It was cold outside, to be sure, but she’d thrown open all the windows in the flat and even that didn’t lessen the smell of smoke that burnt her nose. She pulled her wool coat over her dress and tucked the letters for her dad into her pocket; if she was going to disobey her mum and leave the flat, she might as well post the letters while she was at it.

Outside, the smell of smoke was still strong, but there was a bit of a breeze. Sophie was grateful; the entire city smelt of smoke, ash, and dust, of petrol and charred metal. But that little bit of a breeze helped. It lifted some of the dust away, breaking through the smoky air like hope.

By rights she should have been in school – the Christmas holidays had ended a few days ago. But today was the first calm day in nearly a week, even if it did smell like London was still burning.

She turned up her collar and headed down the street to the post box. It was a longer walk than it would usually have been; the street corner with the post box closest to her was roped off, and signs that read DANGER UNEXPLODED BOMB were propped everywhere. Sophie peeked over the rope as she passed, but she couldn’t see the bomb; either it had already been cleared off, or it was somewhere in the pile of rubble that had once been the florist’s shop. The street looked very grey indeed without the florist’s bright displays of lilies and roses. All of London looked grey, felt grey, smelled grey – but everyone seemed just a little bit on edge now, like they were all waiting for the next time the city would be colored with flames.

Three blocks from her flat she found a post box that was not roped off. Pulling the letters from her pocket, she counted them again, afraid for a moment that she might have dropped one. She carefully checked the number of stamps, the still unfamiliar spelling of her father’s rank and regiment. It had been almost two years now, but even so, seeing the word “Lieutenant” in front of the familiar “Frederick Miller” just did not sit well in her mind. Frederick Miller was not a lieutenant – he was her father.

Of course, she hadn’t written about that in her letters. There were two from her this time; she had had to beg her mum for the extra postage. Two letters from Sophie, one from mum. In Sophie’s first letter, she had told him much of the things she usually did – about school, the Christmas holiday, about her friends, about how much she missed him. She had not told him that she had forgotten, Christmas morning, and when she had hurried out to the tree in her nightgown and stocking feet, she had expected to see him sitting there by the fire with her mum, in his silly St. Nicholas hat. She did not know how to say that none of the presents she knew her mum had worked very hard to get made up for the lack of him in that ridiculous hat.