I can't believe it's November already! September felt so slow, but October just sped past me.
Last week, I shared some internet tools that could be of use to just about anyone. This week, I wanted to share some tools that writers can use, tools that I, in fact, do use in my writing career. Almost all of these are free, with the exception of the writing conferences and the programs mentioned in the "Writing" section. Check 'em out!
One thing every author needs is people supporting them. Writing communities can be incredibly helpful throughout the entire process. Here are some good resources for a writer looking for their community.
Yeah, yeah, y'all know I'm a big fan. But the first rule of social media is that you shouldn't do it unless you enjoy it! As such, I recommend you give all the big social media sites a try, but then adjust or end your membership if you don't find yourself having fun. Twitter in particular I'd recommend for finding and talking with other writers, but any of them have a writing/bookish community you can be a part of!
Back when I first started this blog, I posted a handful of times about my writing idols. Since then, my list of writing idols has grown a good bit. Honestly, there are so many fantastic writers out there in the world, and there's so much I admire about and want to learn from them. I know I'll never be able to achieve what many of these writers have--sometimes you just have natural talent in some areas and natural ineptitude in others--but in recognizing them and their skill, I take the first step towards improving my own writing. So today I thought I'd post an updated list of my writing idols and what it is that I admire most about them.
1) J.K. Rowling. Forever and always, I will look up to the author of Harry Potter and the ongoing Cormoran Strike series (as Robert Galbraith). She's fantastic in so many different ways. Most of all, I admire her charitable work, her clean and relatable characterization, and her thorough worldbuilding.
2) Hans Christian Andersen. I have a lot in common with this guy, and after reading the full collection of his fairytales, I came to admire not only the beauty and magic of his stories, but also the way he brought deeper meaning, often religious in nature, into them.
3) Neal Shusterman. This author is another one whose worldbuilding I look up to. It's complex and thoughtful and makes me see the world differently. I also admire his creativity in coming up with strange and unique premises for all his books, which include the Unwind Dystology, Challenger Deep, and the ongoing Arc of a Scythe trilogy.
Hello, readers! Today I'm participating in the Ch1Con & Ch21Con 2018 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. I'm going to be interviewing team member Katelyn Pettit, so stay tuned!
As you know from my stint as a founding team member prior to me becoming too sick to work, Chapter One Events is a nonprofit organization that brings writing information and publishing opportunities to young writers—culminating in the annual Chapter One Young Writers Conference (Ch1Con, ages 11-20) and the brand new Chapter Twenty-One Conference (Ch21Con, ages 21-29). 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.
My apologies for missing last week! I had to take a sick day. :P
Now it's time for another round of speedlinking, where I share some cool stuff from across the Internet for you to enjoy!
First off, I added the two Avengers: Infinity War trailers to my Speedlinking playlist on YouTube (#23 and 24), because THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT EVENT THAT I'M NOT SURE MY FEELINGS WILL SURVIVE. (Can you believe it now has an April 27 release worldwide?) *Language warning on that link*
Next, a few links that may be useful to you writers out there. A lot of people online have been talking about the Notebook.ai, a worldbuilding program online that has both a free and a paid version. It looks really awesome, and I'm sure a lot of you would enjoy using it. Me, I've found that I do better freeform, using Word--even my one go at the ever-popular Scrivener didn't work out. Nevertheless, this looks like something a lot of people will find very useful.
There's also a random last name generator, for those less-important characters who you just need to name, darnit. It's got a great variety of names from every culture, at least from what I've seen so far, and it's a little less awkward than going through your Twitter feed. :)
Then there's the Atlas Obscura, a website where you can look up basically any location to find its most interesting attractions. I think this could be useful for real-world worldbuilding, as one of many pieces of research you'll have to do when including a real city in your stories.
*Long post ahoy.*
First, I'd like to share some important news about this blog. During WriteOnCon 2018, one idea that came up a few times is that the social media you use should always be something that you enjoy. If you don't enjoy it, you should feel free to pull back and do it less, or not at all. After hearing that, I've decided to pull back a little more on this blog.
For the first few years, I really enjoyed blogging here. But as my illnesses got worse, I began running out of both ideas and energy. I've been trying a lot of different blogging schedules and tags to try and make up for that, but I'm not getting the interaction that I like, and I really do feel like I've already written the bulk of the blog posts that I wanted to. I don't want to stop blogging entirely, because I do really like sharing my thoughts when I have them, but I'm not interested in doing it on the same basis that I have been.
So I'm going to change my schedule again and blog once a week, on Saturdays. I may put up bonus posts on Wednesdays--like this one!--if I have something extra to talk about, but for the most part, it'll be four posts a month. That means no more "Waiting On" Wednesdays or Top Ten Tuesdays. But I will post seasonal lists of the books on my top TBR, and I'm sure some of the ideas from Top Ten Tuesday will show up in future posts. Monthly humor posts are also going to change to seasonal humor posts, with my favorite twenty-five funny posts from Tumblr and Pinterest for each three month block. Additionally this means that my weekly email newsletters will change to monthly newsletters.
I intend to be just as present on my other social media profiles as ever, and I hope that people will look through this blog and see what I've talked about in the past if they're looking for specific information--or just ask me! The Recommended Posts page is still up, and I've added an archive to the sidebar so you can browse through my old posts a little more easily.
Among the many important choices that writers face is what point of view to write from. Point of view is absolutely key when it comes to storytelling. After all, it has an enormous impact on how the audience perceives everything from worldbuilding to characterization. As such, I thought today I'd talk a little bit about the different options we have when it comes to POV and about the choices I've made in the past with my books.
First, it's important to define the terminology for points of view as discussed in most English classes. Point of view can come in one of three basic forms: first, second, or third. First person point of view uses the pronoun "I" and originates within the consciousness of a single character. Second person POV is the least commonly done, using the pronoun "you" to guide the reader into the place of a character. This usually happens only for short, hypothetical-type passages and is generally not recommended for long passages. Third person point of view uses other pronouns like "she" or "he" in reference to all the characters. Third person POV further can be limited, omniscient, or limited-omniscient: focusing on a single character, aware of the feelings and thoughts of all characters, or a mix of the two.
An additional decision that must be made in terms of perspective is tense. Though multiple tenses are necessary in any writing, most authors work with a primary tense of either present or past, where the character either is performing the actions as they speak them (present) or is telling the story as though it has already occurred (past).
These basic POV elements will be mixed and matched throughout most stories. If an author chooses to use multiple points of view (usually alternating between chapters), even more mixing and matching may occur. However, it's important to know which base POV you are working with.
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.)
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 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.
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.
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:
Hello friends! I've talked before about tropes that I dislike, but there are a few that I think need more extensive examination, partly because they have important social justice ramifications. As such, I'm presenting you with Kill the Trope, a series examining problematic tropes! Today, as indicated by your votes, I'm kicking it off with the Strong Female Character.
How many characters in recent popular media can you name as "strong female characters?" There's been a major surge of this in recent decades, primarily through science fiction movies like Star Wars and The Hunger Games. These women kick butt, save the day, start revolutions, keep up with the best of the men, don't let their girly feelings get in the way...
...there's the problem. Do you see it?
This is a topic that's fairly personal, especially since I've been dealing with it a lot for the past year and a half, to an extent and in a way I never have before. Writing and editing COCA has brought out the writer's doubt in flaming color.
I suffered writer's doubt occasionally before COCA, of course. Everyone has doubts about the things they do. It's a part of life; it helps us to evaluate. However, I've been fortunate enough that my writing, at least for novels, has been mostly separate of my OCD. Perhaps that's another part of why I love doing it so much. As a pantser, I even had the luck to have writing be one of the only unplanned, uncontrolled things in my life, as I talked about in this interview. In any case, for most my life, I didn't suffer the kind of anxiety with writing and publishing that I did for absolutely everything else. The doubts I had were regular, fleeting things that only gave me temporary pause.
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.
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