Hello, readers! It's that time of year again: today I'm participating in the Ch1Con & Ch21Con 2019 Blog Tour, an annual tour in preparation for this year’s conferences, which brings original content from the Chapter One Events team to a number of fantastic, writing-related blogs.
Chapter One Events is a nonprofit organization that brings writing information and publishing opportunities to young writers, culminating in the Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ch1Con, ages 11-20) and Chapter Twenty-One Conference (Ch21Con, ages 21-29) each year. The two conferences bring tweens, teens, and young adults together to hear from accomplished authors their own age, participate in professional workshops, and celebrate the influence young writers have on the world. With an atmosphere that combines the professional aspects of writing conferences with the awesomeness of hanging out with fellow young book nerds, Ch1Con and Ch21Con are truly can’t-miss events!
The Chapter One Events team is composed of a mix of middle school, high school, college, and twenty-something writers who work together to create a unique, inclusive experience for young attendees. One of these team members is here today to talk about a subject important to me right now: rekindling your passion for writing. Everyone, please say hello to Katie Sherwood!
My name is Kira Brighton, and I am a carboholic.
I love sugar, love it, and when I had to go on a low-carb elimination diet for two weeks in spring of 2017 to figure out my IBS, I was miserable. Yes, thank you, I would like to never ever do that again, please. Sugar is a lot of what gets me through my days--because it's not easy, living in a body with lots of pain and little energy. Sugar makes me happy, in a way that few things do.
As such, it makes sense that, after I was diagnosed with IC and multiple food sensitivities and had to permanently start a very limited diet, I defaulted to carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Not only do carbs make me happy, but they are easy to find in prepared form--even when the list of ingredients that you can't eat is a mile wide. Seeing as I have no energy to spare and absolutely despise cooking (I have no idea how anyone can enjoy it), of course my diet focused at first on the easiest things I could still have: baked potatoes with cheese, pasta with cheese, and vanilla wafers.
As y'all might have noticed, Camp NaNoWriMo didn't work out so well for me this last month. In April, I wrote just a little over 8,000 words of my new #SnowQueenStory. For someone who used to be able to win NaNoWriMo (50,000 words) in two weeks or less, that's... really discouraging. But this is my reality, and reality can be harsh at times.
It's important that I recognize that this is my first attempt at writing a new, original novel since 2014. (I did write a novel-length fanfic that helped comfort and bolster me through the worst of things in 2016/2017. It took about a year to write.) This is my first attempt at a new, original novel after my chronic illness crisis. Expecting it to be easy, and expecting to be able to win NaNoWriMo right off the bat again, wasn't realistic of me.
I did face challenges that I couldn't have anticipated, c'est la vie for us all, right? For most of the month, my chronic illnesses were flaring due to acupuncture, which I'd decided to try out after like a million people recommended it to me--turns out it was not a good idea for me. I wasn't sure it would do anything at all, but I definitely didn't expect it to have such a strong negative effect!
As promised last week, today I'll be sharing a Top Ten Tuesday-inspired list of standalone books that I would love to see sequels to!
1) The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer. This brilliant YA sci-fi follows an orphan who joins a group of kids who can see, and therefore fight, deadly parasitic creatures. It's really well-done, and I've long been confused about why it's a standalone and not a series.
2) Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst. This diverse YA fantasy tells the story of a desert girl who is abandoned by her tribe after she fails to become the vessel for a goddess, but who then discovers that five of the gods are missing and need her help. As with The Supernaturalist, I think this one would make a wonderful series.
3) Soundless by Richelle Mead. Though it's not terribly popular, I found this YA fantasy based in Chinese folklore to be fascinating, original, and beautiful. It's about a girl who lives in an isolated mountain town where there is no sound. When her people start going blind and supplies stop coming, she goes on a journey to save them. I enjoyed it, and I think this story deserves a sequel.
4) Breaker by Kat Ellis. This YA thriller about the son of a serial killer and the sister of one of the killer's victims teaming up to stop a copycat killer makes an impact with its unique characters, scary moments, and great twist. It has a lot of potential for a sequel, and I'd love to read that.
Last month, I listed twenty-five YA books that are lesser-known (with fewer than 2000 ratings on Goodreads) but that I recommend. I wasn't able to share all of the lesser-known books I'd like to, so today I'm continuing that post! I'll start with a couple of books that I've read since I published that post, and then I'll pick up where I left off, with books published in mid-2015. Remember, these books are in reverse order by publication, so the most recently published are first!
1) The Birds, The Bees, and You and Me by Olivia Hinebaugh. This YA contemporary follows a girl whose feminist upbringing allows her to become a source of knowledge for her fellow students when their abstinence-only sex education program fails them. The book takes on an important issue and is full of fantastic characters. It does, of course, have a fair amount of sexual content, but that content is primarily educational in nature.
2) The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby. This quiet YA contemporary is about a girl who loses her memory in the wake of a car crash. The story follows her as she struggles to piece together her old life and regain her past self. It's a soft, sad story, but a lovely one, too, with a lot of resonance.
3) Vanguard by Ann Aguirre. This YA sci-fi is a standalone addition to Aguirre's Razorland trilogy. It follows a side character from the original series on a romance-filled exploration as the world adjusts to the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse/war. The romance in this story is just my style, and I really enjoyed it!
I've given a fair amount of college-related advice in the past, but today, I've decided to go into detail about living with roommates (and/or suitemates). This is a uniquely difficult part of living away from home for the first time, because you're accustomed to the way your family does things. It takes a real adjustment to live with people who were raised differently. (All the more so if you didn't share a room at home.) Some of the biggest issues I had in college were related to roommates. So I thought I'd give you a peek into the experience.
I was raised in a family where cleanliness is not a terribly high priority. The guys in our family tend to be very messy and rather unaware of the fact that other people have to live in the same house. The girls are a bit more self-aware and better at cleaning up obvious messes, but even we aren't the sort to scrub walls and polish silverware. I do pretty good at keeping my own space clean, but due to my fibromyalgia, post-9th grade, I didn't do many household chores.
My family's also not the sort to have "family time"--we do better one on one. We don't have guests or visitors very often, due to my youngest brother's autism and the fact that the rest of us are introverts. I spend most of my free time alone in my room, and after elementary school, being the only daughter, I didn't share my room with anyone. Thanks to the fibromyalgia, I had to go to bed early so I could make it to school, and my family was pretty respectful of that.
That was my personal experience in living with others prior to having roommates. When I went to college, I discovered that other people had very different experiences, and this affected not only their actions, but their expectations for the people they lived with. Thus my number one rule for having roommates is to be respectful of different people's experiences. They might not know how to do things the way you do. I certainly had to have a few things explained to me--and it's always weird trying to figure out a new shower, haha.
It's been a little over a year since I last listed, for a Top Ten Tuesday, the ten books that had been on my Goodreads TBR the longest. So I figured it was time for an update! The first seven of these books are carried over from last year, but this time, I'm listing fifteen books total, which means there will be eight books I haven't listed before.
1) After the End by Amy Plum. This is a YA sci-fi dystopian about a girl who grew up believing that the rest of the world had been destroyed by nuclear bombardment--only to find out it's not true. I added on to Goodreads in February 2014, after joining Goodreads in November 2013.
2) Blood and Salt by Kim Liggert. This one is a YA horror novel where Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn. I added it on Goodreads in April 2014.
3) The Tempest by William Shakespeare. This is, of course, a classic play in which a magician on an isolated island uses his gifts to manipulate people.
4) SYLO by D.J. MacHale. This YA sci-fi is about a secret branch of the government that takes over an island. It's written by the author of the Pendragon series, and I added it on Goodreads in May 2014.
5) The Cage by Megan Shepherd. This is another YA sci-fi, about a human zoo created for aliens.
Hello everyone, and welcome to our humor roundup for this quarter, in which I share the twenty-five funniest posts and the single funniest video I saw across the last three months. Check them out!
Hey everyone! Since it was my 25th birthday yesterday, I figured today I'd share twenty-five of the most important lessons I've learned from my life so far.
1) It's okay to not be okay. This is the top thing that I would want to tell my younger self. I spent so much of my life so far feeling guilty about my own emotions, but it's okay to not be happy. It's okay to struggle.
2) Don't be afraid of "wasted time"--you're always learning something. When I was at my sickest, I was distraught at the thought that I wasn't learning or growing or developing as a person. But afterwards I realized that I'd actually matured quite a bit, even though all I "did" was sit in bed and watch TV. You don't have to always be accomplishing things in order to learn.
3) The world is both a horrible and a beautiful place. That's what comes of imperfection. It's important to see the beautiful, but ignoring the horrible is not the way to live either. Some people will try to do that anyway. You cannot force them to recognize reality.
All right, everybody! April is just about here, which means it's time for me to list the MG and YA books I'm most excited about that are releasing during the next three months. Check them out!
1) Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi. This is the fifth book in the Shatter Me series, which somehow turns me into an emotional, weeping mess every time. The YA sci-fi series starts in book one with an imprisoned girl devastated by the fact that she kills anyone she touches. The newest book releases on my birthday, April 2nd.
2) Defy the Fates by Claudia Gray. This is the final book in the Constellation trilogy, a YA sci-fi that captured my heart with its romance between an android and a human girl who are on opposite sides of a war. Because my birthday is apparently defiant, this book also comes out on April 2nd!
When I first started writing, I didn't believe that writer's block was real. Since then, I've had many years to learn otherwise! I now believe in a writer's block model where there are four different causes. Today, I'd like to talk about those causes and what the solutions are for each of them. So let's dig into writer's block, y'all!
Problem: Lack of motivation
This is probably the most common cause of writer's block. People tend to believe that writing is something that happens when you're in the "mood," when you feel "the Muse" speaking to you. They believe you should only do it if you're enjoying it 100%. But what if that "mood" just isn't coming around?
Solution: Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard
The reality is, if you want to actually finish your project (and especially if you want to have a writing career), you need to write even when you're not feeling like it. It's okay just to write for fun, but if you want more out of your work, you need to buckle down. Writing can be hard. Periods where you lack motivation can last for a long time. Oftentimes, the motivation doesn't hit until you're in the middle of writing. As such, the refrain many authors repeat is "butt in chair, fingers on keyboard." Sit down and start writing anyway. It may take a while, but if lack of motivation truly is the cause of your writer's block, writing on a regular basis will almost certainly help--eventually.
Anyone who's followed this blog for a while knows that I love to analyze stories. I write a lot of casual analyses on this blog, looking at anything from The Hunger Games to The Phantom of the Opera to To Kill a Mockingbird. (You can find more in the Thoughts On Stories tag.)
But I also wrote a lot of formal analyses of literature during my studies for my English BA, and I'm proud of that work. So I thought today I'd create a little portfolio, sharing links to PDFs of the essays and papers I kept from my undergraduate work. Just in case someone out there has a craving for some more serious analysis. Also, to show off.
Here we go!
I'm taking this topic from the Top Ten Tuesday prompts!
There are a lot of good books out there that are "quieter," i.e. they aren't all that well-known. Today, I'm going to list some of my favorite YA books that have fewer than 2000 ratings on Goodreads. These are in reverse order by date, so those that were published the most recently are at the top.
1) Toxic by Lydia Kang. This YA sci-fi features a living bio-ship that's in the process of dying and two unusual teens who seem doomed to die with it--especially once the murders start. It's full of sad and broken people I really felt for, and it also has a lovely romance.
2) For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig. This creative, vibrant, and brutal YA fantasy, told through a nontraditional format, follows a bipolar girl with an illegal ability to turn ghosts into puppets. She journeys across a land ravaged by colonialism, trying to find safety for herself and her family, even as she gets pulled into the rebellion.
3) The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas. This YA horror novel is a wonderful oddity about a girl who's furious that her demon was taken from her in an exorcism. The book follows her journey through the occult underside of her town as she tries to gain back her longtime companion, and it addresses issues like addiction and the complexity of good and evil, both in religion and relationships.
It's time for this year's speedlinking post, where I share a bunch of cool stuff I found on the Internet for you to check out! Here we go.
Here are some awesome things that various libraries let you check out! And here are some more great ideas that librarians have come up with. Similarly, here are some fantastic ideas from various schools.
I recently got into podcasts, though I mostly read the transcripts, since I have a much better comprehension level with text. This list from Buzzfeed about spooky podcasts, and the comments on the list, started me out. I had them Halloween feels! I'm also looking into these true crime podcast recommendations.
Turning now to social justice, this article talks about bias in the healthcare industry, especially against women. For those who want to know more, I highly recommend the book Doing Harm by Maya Dusenbery. This comic talks about the problem with women being the "managers" of household tasks and always taking on the "mental load." Meanwhile, these comics look at the ridiculous behavior expectations for women in the workplace. This article talks about how stereotyping women as "complicated" causes problems.
Author Laurie Halse Anderson is well-known for her phenomenal novel Speak, a YA contemporary about sexual assault. In this article, she discusses her experiences with teenage boys who don't understand the concept of consent. It is so important that we educate everyone about sex, consent, boundaries, and respect for others!
This post talks about racial bias in the news media, and this one looks at how racial "colorblindness" doesn't help things.
I've been writing creative projects since I was six years old. I was already an avid and above-grade-level reader by then, so my mom and I decided that for an end-of-year class project, I'd explore various types of writing: poetry, picture books, personal narratives.
I loved it. I've always had a vibrant imagination, full of magic and romance, and this gave me a way to preserve that, to explore it, and to share it. At the end of the project, I read a picture book I'd written to my brother's preschool and then presented them a copy to keep. In that moment, with all those little faces looking up at me, I knew this was something I wanted.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. More than anything, stories are my life.
Why I Hate James Pat...
Hitler and Mother Ter...
Guest Post: 5 Fando...
The Lesser Evil: Femi...
Successful People W...
Choosing a Genre to...