Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Is anyone else totally inspired?

I got up at 2am to watch the wedding, even though I had an exam at 9am. I'm so, so glad I did.

I fully expect and really, really want royalty-themed YA to come back into style. I think I'm going to be writing something along these lines very, very soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RTW: Music Stuff!

Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies over at YA Highway. Today's question is:

If your WIP or favourite book were music, which song(s) would it be?

Aww, hell yeah.

Ask almost anyone, music and writing are very much connected. While I can't always write to music, sometimes it distracts me, there are always certain songs I listen to on repeat while I'm not writing to keep myself in the mindset of the story.

For my current WIP (which refuses every title I give it!), I'm drawing heavy inspiration from one band in particular: Something Corporate, my favourite band ever. I've talked about them on the blog before so I won't bore you with the details of my adoration, but there are a few songs in particular that encapsulate my WIP.

"Miss America"

"Miss America" really captures the sadness my MC, Hunter, feels after he is separated from someone he loves very much (vague, non-spoilery explanations FTW). Something Corporate has a lot of songs about separation, and this one is the one I've been writing to lately.


The other song I've had on repeat lately is "Airports," also by Something Corporate. This was from when they had just formed, the lead singer was 16, so it's pretty rough. It's a pretty rare recording -- the YouTube one isn't the one I'm used to hearing, I have an acoustic on my laptop I like better, but it's still good. Anyway. There's an airport scene in my WIP, one I've always wanted to write. Airports are some of my favourite places in the world.

Basically any song by Something Corporate has contributed something to this WIP. I wish I could post every one of their songs, but... let's face it, you wouldn't listen :P

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Advice to Young Writers

I was one of those kids who always knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer. Sure, I toyed with the idea of fantasy jobs (rock star, astronaut) and half-heartedly admitted to myself that I would need a day job, but I was always hell-bent on writing, ever since I was six years old. A lot of writers have trouble "coming out of the closet," admitting that they're writers to friends, family, and acquaintances. I was never one of those. I made sure everyone knew my writerly inclinations. Being so verbose about it made me open to a lot of criticism and strange behaviour, though.

I've been thinking about it a lot, and I decided to post my advice for young writers here for the world to see. I'll start with a statement of the advice, and back it up with my personal experience. If you aren't a young writer yourself, pass it on to one you know. I hope it helps somebody out there.

1) Write -- a lot.

It sounds really, really obvious, but strangely enough, it's something people have trouble with. When I was young, my family went to my dad's company Christmas party every year. When I was probably about eight, one of my dad's bosses got a little tipsy and took a great interest in conversing with the little kids. He wasn't really listening to anything they said, though, until he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be a writer. He flipped. Got so excited he sprang up out of his seat.

"That's great! Do you write?" he asked me. "Because you have to write to be a writer."

I said yes, I did write, I wrote a great deal. I briefly detailed a story I was working on.

"Wow," he said, shaking his head. "Wow! My daughter wanted to be a writer all her life, but she never actually wrote anything. Now she takes care of old people."

This conversation has always stuck in my head. It seems so simple: if you want to be a writer, you have to actually write. "To write" is a verb, which requires action. You can't call yourself an artist and never actually do any art. The only way to become a writer, or to become more comfortable in your identity as a writer if you're still "in the closet," is to write. I stopped writing for a while when I was nine and ten, and those are some of my most miserable years -- I wasn't doing what I was meant to be doing. If you're a writer, write. A lot. Which leads me to my next point.

2) You have to want it bad.

Some people, people who aren't writers and don't understand it, think that writing is a surefire get-rich-quick venture. It is not, in any way, shape or form, a path to easy money. I've been writing for more than ten years now and I've never made a cent. Why do I do it, then?

You have to want to write, for no other reason than that it makes you feel complete. You can't just be writing because people think it's cool, that you're some fancy genius scribbler. Your primary motivation can't be what others think of you. If the only reason you're writing is to get rich, be on a bunch of prestigious awards lists, and have droves of adoring fans, you're not going to get very far.

When you're a young writer, people are going to think it's cool. When I was fourteen, I started writing a novel that I really loved. I showed the first chapter to a friend. She showed it to our other friend, who passed it on to someone else. Before long, every chapter I wrote was being passed around the school, as I wrote it. People I didn't know, students years older than me, were coming up to me in the halls and telling me how much they loved the story, and what was going to happen to such-and-such character, and OMG so-and-so is awesome! It was hard not to let it go to my head. Having fans was pretty awesome, in a lot of ways. Heck, one girl even did her grade 10 book report on my book!

But there were a lot of negative aspects to the attention. I became "the writer girl." Teachers would expect a lot from me in class, since they'd heard (and read for themselves) that I was good at English. I was flooded with requests to write articles for the town and school newspapers, to be the editor of the yearbook, to do all this random stuff I didn't want to do. I had people requesting to read stories I didn't want to share yet, and getting huffy when I told them no. I got cold-shouldered by one girl because I killed off a character she liked. I got sneered at by a lot of bullies, who would sometimes read my work aloud in a mocking tone.

If you're going to be a writer, if you're going to tell people about it and make something so personal public, you have to be fully committed to it. So many things could have gone wrong for me. I could have taken on all the extra projects people gave me and not had time to write for pleasure. I could have caved to the pressure from my "fans" and sacrificed my integrity, writing exactly what they wanted. I could have stopped writing altogether, scared by the people who made fun of me. It was the love of the work that pulled me through, not the applause.

3) If you really want it, you have to make sacrifices.

I missed out on a lot. In high school, I would come home after school, sit down at my desk, and write for a few hours (I envy that dedication! I'm such a procrastinator now). Then I would eat dinner, do homework, mess around online, and go to sleep.

Meanwhile, other people my age were getting boyfriends, going to parties, and just being teenagers. I was kind of high-and-mighty about that stuff, saying I didn't care, that I'd rather be writing. And that was true, but there was a part of me that ached to be normal. The writing was more important to me, and I don't regret the decision to put it first, but I still sometimes think of the person I could have been had I gone out and done all that teenager stuff.

For me, the sacrifice was worth it, and it may be worth it for you, too. But think about it, long and hard. Nowadays, since I write for teens, I supplement my lack of real-life experience with imagination and second-hand stories. But when you can get some life experience, go do it.

4) Don't let the dream die.

I don't really have a personal story to explain this one. All I can really say is... don't stop writing. Not for any reason. I don't mean don't take a day off, that kind of thing is fine, but don't let anything stop you.

Pretty much any time you tell any "responsible adult" that you are a writer, they're going to tell you something along the lines of, "Oh, you better get a good day job, otherwise you're going to starve, ha ha!" I get this all the time. In high school I had people making fun of me for being this reclusive writer-type.

Don't let those people kill your dream. Do everything you can to keep the dream alive. Write all the time. Write stuff that inspires you. Write thinly-veiled fanfiction if it makes you happy. Keep gorgeous notebooks in your backpack all the time. Find a pen you really love. Doodle your book title all over your school work. Compose blurbs the New York Times will someday say about your book ("a little slice of genius" or "profoundly, exceptionally awesome" are my favourites). Read, read, read, constantly.

The world needs young writers and the fresh perspective they bring. Don't you dare give up.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That Enormous Stack

Hey everybody! Long time no see! I'm still trying to get myself up on my blogging feet. Never fear, once summer hits I'll be back full-force.

If I'm not crushed by my TBR pile, that is.

These are the fantasy/paranormal/sci-fi YA books.

These are the historical YA books.

These are the contemporary YA books.

And that's not all. I also have one or two adult books and brand-new copies of the Wrinkle in Time series that I haven't gotten to read yet.


So yeah, I'm kind of swamped these days. My New Years Resolution was to read at least one book a week, with a total of about 53 for the whole year, and so far I've been pretty good with that. Technically I'm on track, but still, with so many books in the queue and with so many others coming out soon or out recently, I feel like I could be doing so much better with my reading!

Also, some more news: I've got 53,000 words of a first draft. It's not anywhere near the end of the story, and I have no idea how it's going to end, but it's a great start. I love the story, love the characters, and I'm so excited for where it's going.

I hope you all are doing just fine, too!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oh No, My Sister is Becoming a Teenager!

About an hour ago I had to give my sister a ride downtown. She's turning 13 in October and will be going into high school in September. It's always just felt like a fact to me, that she's pretty much a teenager, but today it really got pounded into my head.

First, she barged into my room and demanded that I give her a ride to the gelato place downtown. No 'please,' no 'thank you.'

Second, the entire ride there, she was doing her makeup in the visor mirror of my car. Garish green eyeshadow and way too much mascara, including on the lower lashes. Clump city!

Third, I told her I would drop her off around the block from the gelato place because there was never a spot to parallel-park in front of it. She blew a huge fit because it's slightly rainy, her hair is perfectly straight, and she hates having to walk anywhere, even if it's just for two minutes. Still, I didn't relent. I kicked her out in the rain a block away and gladly drove home.

But jeez, what a reminder! She's a total teenager. If she was my daughter I couldn't be more shocked and disturbed. I remember the day she was born in great detail! I still think of her as the baby my mom brought to visit my grade 3 class, before she had any hair.

You have to treat teenage sisters a lot different than baby sisters. As it has always been, everything she does bothers me. She has crappy posture, her expression always looks crabby, and she's just plain rude. She 'typs lik dis' on Facebook. She wears really crappy makeup. She is a total slave to trends and copies every single thing her friends do.

It's been a long time since I was cranky-for-no-reason, typed chatspeak and thought I looked great in caked-on makeup. It's been many years since I gave a crap what my friends were doing and started doing my own thing. I've grown up a lot. I have to remember that -- that she's barely at the beginning of the teenage phase while I've graduated out of it. I have to remember that she doesn't have the life experience I have yet. I have to stop picking her apart because, in time, she'll learn from her mistakes. She doesn't need me to point them out to her.

Instead I should be watching her grow up and trying to feed off her teenage energy, because I'm an old person now. I should be making fun of her love for Justin Bieber at every chance I get.

I write for teens -- she can be my link to their world. I have to try not to kill her. I could use her.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday!

I've never participated in this meme before, but I can't resist posting on this topic!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish!

This week's question is: Books I'd Love to See Made Into Movies!!

I know, awesome, right? But this list comes with the assumption that they would be made into good movies that don't butcher the book.

1) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

And you thought I was finished raving about this book?! I'm soooo not done singing its praises. It would be so cool to see the cutesy, fun story play out on the big screen, and would be especially great to see Paris in all its glory (did I mention I LOVE everything about France?!)

2) Looking for Alaska by John Green

This would just be a massive fan-gasm to see as a movie. The rights are owned by a major production company, so it could happen someday. It's not my favourite John Green book, but it'd be cool to see what Hollywood could do with it.

3) Paper Towns by John Green

THIS would be my favourite John Green book! The whacky hijinks would be hilarious to see, and if they could find the perfect actress to play Margo Roth Spiegelman, I would just be in fan heaven.

4) How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

I looooved this book, and I think it would an amazing quirky indie movie. My favourite movie of all time is Ghost World, and I loved How to Say Goodbye in Robot because of their similarities. So if How to Say Goodbye in Robot was a movie, it'd be right up there in my favourites!

5) I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Ahhhh... I can't even express my desire to see this book adapted to film. I actually attempted a screenplay adaptation for fun, but it was way too hard and I just knew I couldn't do it justice. It's just such a genius dark comedy, and I know it would be a movie where I'd leave the theatre feeling wonderfully empowered but incredibly sad at the same time. And for some reason I love that feeling.

6) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

It would just be so haunting and gorgeous and perfect. Plus it has the perfect movie premise already, doesn't it?

7) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

It would be really cool to see what a talented director and cast could do with this story. I read it a year ago and I still haven't really processed exactly how I feel about it. That's how affecting it was!

8) The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Three words to describe the movie this would make: Intense. Terrifying. Beautiful.

9) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Except that I would be way too freaked out to watch it all the way through.

10) Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger

It would be a really, really cute non-romance. I love this book.

So there ya go! :) Hopefully my blogger's block is gone now, too!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I am so, so sorry, guys. I haven't posted in over two weeks. I promise I'm not dead. School is about to wrap up and I've been swamped in research papers and portfolios. Today I'm going to be powering through an essay I've had months to work on, in true procrastinator form. I will be back blogging and writing in full force very, very soon! I'm working on some great posts I can't wait to share with you all :)