Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today I'm going into the archives to share my Top Ten Side Characters from books.
1) Minerva McGonagall from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. Professor McGonagall is legit, and no one is allowed to argue with me on that point. She's probably the best teacher at Hogwarts as well as an incredible support to Dumbledore and the rest of the good guys in the story. I relate to her a lot, honestly, especially after learning more about her heartbreaking backstory. Although she's a Gryffindor, she could have been a Ravenclaw like me, which makes her extra awesome, and she can turn into a cat at will. Minerva McGonagall is the bomb.
Almost every aspiring writer takes a creative writing class at some point in their lives. A lot of us wonder, though, about the value of those classes. I know a lot of young writers especially question whether or not they should go on to get a Creative Writing degree. So today, I thought I'd share my own experiences with creative writing classes.
I took my first creative writing class in seventh grade. Before that, my teachers supported my writing, and I even had some dedicated time to it through the GATE program, but everyone took the same classes. In middle school, we got to choose some of what we did, and I, of course, chose to take creative writing.
That first class did not go well.
I've shared myleast favorite tropes before, but every so often, I come across a trope that I find particularly upsetting. Today, as part of my Kill the Trope series, I'm going to examine the "crazy telepathic woman" trope and explain to you how it combines misogyny and ableism so horrifically that it needs to be abandoned. *Comics spoilers ahoy*
Once upon a time, there was a woman with telepathic powers. She could read minds, control them, maybe even undo them. Despite the enormous mental and emotional pressure that having such a power would exert, she managed to eke out a life as a hero. She used her incredible gift to protect lives, and even though it was a pretty scary power that was sometimes hard on her, she became a real force for good in the world. Then, one day, something terrible happens--a death, usually, or some kind of accident that breaks her powers loose.
She goes insane. Not just your regular old "wow I have a mental illness" insane, but "I am going to literally murder everyone" insane. She loses all sense of morality, all sense of boundaries, all sense of self, and wreaks terrible havoc across the world until someone finally stops her, usually by killing her. (Because she's a superhero, she will probably come back, but even once she's her normal self again, everyone will be wary of her and will constantly bring up that one time she went crazy, if not outright reject her.)
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is a Mother's Day special: the top ten best mothers in literature. Unfortunately, in YA and children's lit, a lot of the time parents (especially mothers) are absent, and most of the rest of the time, they're pretty terrible people. So I'm going to try to see if I can get to ten with both mothers and fathers by doing my Top Ten Favorite Parents in Literature.
1) Molly Weasley from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. I mean, this one's pretty obvious. Molly is a super legit woman who manages to be feminine (i.e. her love for Celestina Warbeck), a motherly type (she makes monogrammed sweaters!), and also totally fierce (like when she killed Bellatrix, that was pretty awesome). Like all the good guys in the Harry Potter books, she eschews wizarding prejudices. She makes the best of living in poverty. She manages her own six kids along with the two kids she basically adopts, Harry and Hermione, and even when they drive her nuts, she never for a second acts like she doesn't love them. (Her husband, Arthur, is pretty legit too, for the record, though he's not nearly as fierce as Molly.)
Hello, readers of Kira’s blog! My name is Ariel Kalati, the Associate Online Administrator for Ch1Con, and I’m writing a guest post today. If you’ve managed to follow this blog without knowing what Ch1Con is, let me give you a brief overview: it stands for Chapter One Young Writers Conference, and it’s basically the best thing that ever happened. It's by young writers, for young writers, about Panera Bread. Actually, it’s about forming a meaningful community and spreading education and resources about writing, but Panera is a vital part of that goal.
To learn more about Ch1Con, visit our website! Registration is open, so if you're writer from ages 11-23, you can register now for our annual conference in Chicago, on August 5 this year featuring headliner Kody Keplinger! You can also participate in one of our many online events, and you should consider entering our Poetry and Short Fiction contest for the chance to be published in an e-book anthology and win discounted admission to the conference--submissions are only open for a little while longer at this link!
One of the best things about Ch1Con is being able to share the experience of being a young writer with other young writers. And one of the best parts of community is, of course, shared complaining. So below I’ve listed some things that we all have to complain about, in the form of a listicle (you know, like a cheesy Buzzfeed article). Obviously some of these things are not exclusive to young writers, but we’ve definitely all been here.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is about what we want to see more of in books, but I feel like I already covered that in this post. So instead, I'm going to swing around from last week's Top Ten Tuesday and talk about some book covers I don't like.
While most of the time cover artists do a good job, sometimes even great books published by top tier publishers end up looking like self-published messes. In line with that, here are my Top Ten Least Favorite Book Covers!
1) The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace. This is the one time I remember actually getting mad over a book cover. Becky Wallace's debut is a great YA fantasy novel with plenty of magic and romance--but its cover looks totally amateurish. The font, the color scheme, the weird blurry picture, they all add up to something that doesn't even begin to capture the spirit of the story. The only thing I like about this is the girl's striking eyes. Like, WHAT EVEN?!
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is a cover freebie, so I'm going to share my Top Ten Book Covers of 2017. Keep in mind a number of books that release later this year do not yet have covers, and of course, this is all a matter of personal opinion.
1) Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken. A cloudy purple background, a simple landscape with a tree in a jar, a city-like reflection, a distant flock of birds flying free--it all makes for a lovely and intriguing cover.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is the opposite of last week's: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Not Want to Read a Book. Now, I'm not very picky, at least when it comes to YA, so most of these aren't even a definite turn-off. But they will cause me to think twice before reading. So check them out!
1) Call-outs from the social justice community. Look, I'm not here for books that promote sexism/racism/ableism, etc. So if Twitter gets up in arms about a book a few months before it comes out, I'm probably going to delete it from my list. I'll check out the analysis first, to be sure it makes sense, but most likely, I'll listen to what's being said.
2) Too much "white boy." I don't really know how to explain this, but some books are just so painfully white and male. They're not at all self-aware, they're full of ridiculous angst, they use other people as props, and they're unoriginal. I've heard enough about white dudes! Tell me stories that I haven't read in all my lit classes already. (This Twitter account portrays "white boy" storytelling pretty well.) Westerns, detective novels, and "coming of age" stories are the worst offenders, but "white boy" overabundance can happen in any genre.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is Top Ten Things That Make Me Want to Read a Book. I've already shared most of these in my post about tropes that I love, but I'm going to go ahead and go over them again anyway. Here are ten things that will (almost!) always make me pick up a YA novel--and sometimes even an MG or adult book. (You'll see a lot of these in my "Waiting On" Wednesday picks.)
1) Chronic pain representation. There are so few books out there that feature chronic pain, and that was really hard on me when I first developed fibromyalgia. What was I supposed to do without a story to guide me? Which direction was I supposed to go? How could I possibly still be the hero of my own life when disability seemed to disqualify me from that? So whenever I see a book with chronic pain representation now, I'm ready to snap it up! Especially if it's a book in my preferred sci-fi/fantasy realm, because that's extra special. I will also often read books about other disabilities and chronic illnesses.
2) Mental illness representation. This is basically the same idea as the disability rep, but I'm pleased to say that there are more books on mental illness than there are on physical disability, at least. I especially go for books on OCD or bipolar disorder, because those are particularly important to me, and I'm least likely to go for one about an eating disorder, because there are quite a few of those.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is Top Ten Authors I Would Love to Meet. I haven't met too many, but I do love meeting published authors. It's so fun and exciting! I love feeling that closer connection to the community. I'd be happy to meet almost any author (not James Patterson), so it'll be hard to narrow this down. Nonetheless, here are the ten authors, dead or alive, whom I'd like most to meet!
1) J.K. Rowling. Duh. I love her so much.
2) Hans Christian Andersen. Since we have so much in common, I'd love to talk to Hans Christian Andersen. I'd love to know more about how he wrote his fairytales and about his personal experiences with (what may have been) fibromyalgia. We could even have a joint birthday party!
3) Karuna Riazi. Karuna's debut novel is out today! I haven't read it yet, but, as y'all know, I love Kaye's Twitter, and I admire her so much. As a matter of fact, I have met her before, at Ch1Con 2015--but I don't think I said a single word to her. I just stared across the room at her, like a creeper, unable to get up the courage to approach her. What if she didn't like me? What if I said something stupid? What if nothing I said was interesting? WHAT IF SHE DIDN'T LIKE ME? I understand now why a lot of people choke when they meet celebrities. And I'd like a second chance.
In the past, I've talked about a few different tropes that I don't like to see: things like love triangles, surprise incest, and dead pets. Some of these tropes are personally upsetting. Some are a bad idea in general: i.e. while some writers can pull them off, the inclusion of these concepts usually has a negative effect on the story. Others are just overdone.
I'll to continue sharing my thoughts on bad tropes, but today, I'd like to talk about the ones that I like. Most are romance tropes, because I am a sap, and as always, there are exceptions to the rule: these tropes can be done badly or in a cliche way. But, usually, I love it when writers play with these ideas. Check it out!
Girl Pretends to Be a Guy to Game the System
Obviously, I want ours to be a world where this would never be necessary. I want our society to be one where women don't have to compromise their selves or their femininity to be respected. But sexism is an active reality. Women are still granted less power both over themselves and in society purely because of their gender. So when girls in stories use their wit and will to trick people into treating them with equality, it's a powerful thing.
I love the way this trope works to promote feminism and dissect gender politics. Additionally, it adds some delicious conflict, especially when it comes to romance. Disney's Mulan, Stacy Lee's Under the Painted Sky, and Sherry Thomas's The Elemental Trilogy are all good examples of this trope. This week's "Waiting On" Wednesday also uses this concept.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today's topic is a Valentine's Day freebie (yay Valentine's Day! <3 <3 <3). So I'll share my Top Ten Favorite Ships.
For those who are not familiar with the terminology, a "ship" in fandom refers to a couple that you want to see together romantically. It's short for "relationship." Check mine out below, starting with my OTP ("one true pair"), whom I ship the very most. As you probably know by now, I'm a huge romantic, and I take these ships pretty darn seriously. SO DON'T ARGUE WITH ME.
1) ScarletVision (Wanda x Vision, Marvel). I know, I know, my OTP is not a surprise at this point, but I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT IT, OKAY. This ship comes from Marvel's Avengers movie universe in particular. Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch, is a young Sokovian woman with a rough past. She gained her powers (telepathic and telekinetic abilities including mind control) through brutal experimentation with the Mind Gem. Vision is a synthetic being created from a whole mishmash of materials--manufactured flesh and organs, vibranium skeleton, programming from Ultron and JARVIS, the Mind Gem itself, and some Thor lightning. He's super strong/invulnerable, can alter his density in order to fly and phase through solid objects, and can shoot energy beams using the Mind Gem.
They're both wonderful characters whom I adore, and Wanda is the closest thing I've ever seen to an accurate representation of myself in pop culture.
WriteOnCon returned this year, under new management, which is very exciting. This very affordable conference for kidlit writers is held entirely online and always has an incredible wealth of information and opportunities. This year, it took place on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of this month, and now it's time for me to share my thoughts!
It was a very different experience for me this time, since my health has forced me to take a break from writing. I don't have a specific book I'm working on, a book that I'm considering querying soon, anything that I can use on the parts of the conference that I've always liked the most: the live pitch events and the forums. I'm simply not in a position to be involved that way. So I didn't get as much out of it, or have as much invested in it, as I normally would. (And even with that, I overworked myself participating in the conference and set off a flare--and then another flare after that, which I'm still in the middle of! Chronic illnesses are annoying.) I did, however, learn what I could for the someday in which I will be well enough to pursue this career again, so here's what I have to share:
*Spoilers for The Phantom of the Opera; long post ahoy*
I recently read Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, the classic novel upon which the musical (and the movie musical) is based. I'd heard that the book was much darker, but in my opinion, the musical actually followed the novel quite well. The main difference, which leads me to prefer the movie musical, is that the musical focuses more on Christine's perspective, whereas the book focuses on Raoul's. In fact, the musical gives more focus and importance to all the female characters, compared to the novel.
It got me thinking, again, about how The Phantom of the Opera musical lends itself to a feminist interpretation. In fact, in watching the 2004 movie, I've always seen one of the central meanings as being focused on the difficult choice that women have faced throughout history, and many still face today: what role to play.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today, I'm going into the archives with a post about characters you'd name your children after, but... I'm a lot more likely to name a cat after a character than a child. The names I'd like to give my future kids are on the "modern classic" side, or so I'd call it, names like Charlotte and Gabriel, Nicholas and Violet. I'm not picking them out of books.
All of that to say, today I'm listing the Top Ten Characters I'd Name a Cat After. Enjoy!
1) Sherlock. Smart and curious about everything, from Sherlock.
2) Loki. A scheming sneak of a boy, from The Avengers (and Norse mythology).
3) Luna. A quirky cutie, from Harry Potter.
4) Finnick. A sexy (finnicky) boy, from The Hunger Games.
5) Minerva. This intelligent cat won't take any crap, from Harry Potter.
6) Lily. Fierce, gifted, and fights evil (or, y'know, spiders), from Harry Potter.
7) Pietro. Quick as mercury and full of sass, from The Avengers.
8) Cress. Sweet and loves to sit on computers, from The Lunar Chronicles.
9) J'onn. So strange and intuitive he must be Martian, from DC Comics.
10) Ophelia. Feminine and a little off-kilter, from Hamlet.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, on medical leave from my Master's program. I love music, psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm a huge fangirl. Basically, stories are my life.
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