Tuesday, March 29, 2011


How was my weekend? Crazy. Very crazy. But mostly, awesome. Why? Because I attended the GLVWG annual Write Stuff Conference for the third year in a row and, as usual, had a blast.

Often, at an author event, I'll be asked, "Do you have any advice for other writers?" (By the way, when people ask me for advice, it makes me very happy. Thank you people who ask me for advice. I'm full of it. ;) And often I'll include in my reply, "Go to conferences!"

Conferences are great for reasons:
1) Lots of writers! In the same vicinity!
2) Authors and other veterans of the writing world! Leading workshops and sessions about WRITING!
3) Conferences are totally inspirational. You'd think after an evening and another day full of writing talk I'd want to go home and not look at another word until school Monday, right? Wrong. As soon as I was back on my own computer I was writing.

There are many more reasons, but just those three should be enough to have you bouncing in your (hopefully comfortable) desk chair in excitement, assuming you're the writerly (or even readerly) type. Which, if you're reading this, I shall assume you are.

[Also, I visited Parkland High School and Orefield Middle School Friday, which was also FUN. Secret: I wore heels. And felt very tall.]


Saturday, March 26, 2011

April 14th

Or: Saturday has plans

April 14th will be exactly 2 months since I finished Berserk. Which means I shall have taken enough time to read my little heart out (trying to wrangle Mount TBR is scary at times) and not having a WIP will begin to drive me INSANE.

But I am taking a break. On purpose. Like a vacation. On purpose. Why?

Because I wrote pretty much constantly from June to March and I’m exhausted. For nine months, I’ve had someone talking in my head almost all the time. (Hey, that’s pregnancy long!! Wow, that was random. I’m not pregnant. I had someone think I was once, though, because I read an OMGFact that said how many red blood cells a person produces in a day and I tweeted it, along with that I grew a skeleton in a cup, only I left out the cup part. Anyways. I’m indenting now because white space is good.)

Three MCs, to be exact, which SHOULD even out to one every three months… except it doesn’t… because I’m nuts. One of those MCs I didn’t connect with, but the other two were LOUD.

Since July last year, I’ve also been revising. That’s been going on for… ages. Which means I sometimes have multiple voices in my head. Including one that makes me ever so slightly depressed. (Character has a not-so-great frame of mind. Wears off on me. I know, I’m weird.)

Basically I was going batty when I finished Berserk. I always take a little time off to let something rest before I revise, but I decided that I wouldn’t start another WIP until 2 months after I had finished this one. I’ve read three novels (not that many, I know, but I wasted a lot of time on the internet, too) and it feels nice to just relax and not be killing myself drafting. (Remember, I’m insane when I draft.) I don’t believe that whole, “write everyday” thing works for everyone. Me in particular. :P

On April 14th, I WILL start my new WIP. But it’s *snicker* currently in the closet. (Hi, Ashy! Hi, Kait!) And I am enjoying the time off. For the next three weeks, I am going to read my heart out, write a ton of blog posts, and just enjoy the freedom.

This post had more of a point, but it’s 10pm and I’ve been up since 8am, and I’m kind of buzzed on caffeine, so I’ll just ask – do you guys take writing breaks?

Peace and cookies,

(Oh my gosh. I totally had this written on THURSDAY. But I forgot to post it. *eyeroll* Wow, I'm dumb.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

And Your Name Is? And Winners!

Every Friday morning I tell myself that I'm going to write this post and then it will go up early in the day. And then every Friday I end up remembering to write a post really late at night, so I apologize. I do have some good news though. Today (at the end of this post) I will be announcing the winners of the giveaway we were having. Now let's get to the actual post portion-

I'm not starting a new WIP right now, but I want to talk about character names.
When I get a Snappy/Sparkly New Idea (SNI) my idea never gives me names of characters. I get a concept in my mind and I get the characters personalities. But I never get the names.
One of my favorite parts of writing is finding names to give my characters because I believe that a name can make or break the story. That being said, I also change character names a lot- I'll probably tell this story later on.
I choose character names from baby books, name-search-websites that I find online, or I just hear a name I like and feel that it will fit my character. However, sometimes I can't have a character named what I want them to be named. I never want any character in a book I write to have the same name as another character in a book I've written. This is a problem for me because ever since I was little, I loved the name Roxy. I think it stems from my love of the musical Chicago. This means that in everything I write, I want to have a character named Roxy. As much as I would love that, it would also confuse me.

I've also had a name-association problem. In my current Work In Progress, my main character was named Lily and her dead brother was named James. This might not be apparent to some people, but once I realized this I had to change at least one of their names. Harry Potter's parents have the same name, so after I noticed that- all I kept thinking of was that they were married and that would be incest and I couldn't have that in my story because it's gross.
So then Lily became Lucy and all was well in the world of naming characters.

My name association problem has also helped me a little bit. I sometimes name characters after celebrities I liked when I was younger and the characters have a little bit of the same personality as who the actor once played in a movie. So it sometimes helps me think of that particular character could be like.

I think that the whole point of this post was that I wanted to talk about character names and how to find them and what helps and doesn't help me when doing so. But I just realized that I rambled a lot. SO. Main points of this post-
Baby Name books are key. Never name characters after dead parents in a popular book/movie series. Don't be afraid to change a characters name- they will still be themselves. Actor names spark great name ideas.

Now, time to announce the winners!

First place winner is....

Second place winner is....

Third place winner is....

Thank you so much to everyone who entered! We're all so happy you read YA Lit. Six!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism: a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work.

It's hard making something from nothing, it's true. And sometimes we admire other people's creations so much we can't help but wish we had come up with it. Songs, novels, paintings. But, as all of us know, it's never okay to actually go ahead with that wish.

But what, exactly, qualifies as plagiarism?

Blatantly using someone else's ideas. For instance, if you write a story about a girl named Stella who falls in love with a man-like creature that sparkles in the sun... you're going to run into problems. There are so many stories in the world that it's hard to come up with something that hasn't been used before, but it can be done. And it's so rewarding knowing that this thing you've worked on is completely your own. There is fanfiction, I realize, but I don't believe fanfiction has ever been published, and it should always be acknowledged what piece the fanfiction is stemming from.

"Borrowing" a term or phrase. There are exceptions, of course, like those sayings we all use. Flash in a pan, or dark as midnight. That kind of thing. But if you actually open a book and use a sentence you see on a page, that's outright stealing.

Claiming a work that isn't yours. Self-explanatory, I think.

*Added* As AllMyPosts stated in the comments, it's okay to use facts. And if you do use part of someone else's work for a research paper or anything else and give credit where it's due, this is fine, as well. Thanks for the input, AllMyPosts!

This post sounds like a short little sermon, doesn't it? And I'm pretty sure we've all heard it before, are aware of the definition of plagiarism. But it could always bear repeating. Because plagarism hurts everyone in the long run.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TV Stories

A while ago I did a post about movies, and how, at some point, they were also written by writers. Well, then, that goes for TV shows too, right? Those characters, while ultimately portrayed by actors, were once words on paper. Let me share some of my favorite words-->actors-->characters results:
  • Tony Dinozzo, NCIS. Honestly. DiNozzo's scenes are my favorite parts of my favorite show. His sense of humor (dialogue! written by writers!) balances the show perfectly.
  • Brennan, Bones. She has my dream job, solving crimes and writing best-selling novels about them. Plus, her cynicism goes wonderfully with her wide-eyed this is totally scientific expression.
  • John Casey, Chuck. Political extremism aside, Casey's growl and untouchable grizzly manner makes for some good shows.
  • Richard Castle, Castle. Another writer who solves crime--except in Castle's case, he does it with a Peter Pan refuse-to-grow-up attitude (and, recently a hint of seriousness, whoa).
  • Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kick-butt, witty, and managed to snag Angel (not to mention routinely stabbing pointy pieces of wood through the undead), she's a winner.
Who are your favorite words-->actor-->character results?

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Apology

I haven't posted here in a few weeks, which is bad. But, I do have a legit excuse - As I mentioned before, I got a job. At first, that job was, oh, 15 hours a week. These past few weeks, it jumped to around 30 hours away and at the same time, I was trying to get ahead in school for my Guatemala trip. So my life has gone like this lately - get up, go to work, do school until bed, sleep, go to work, do more school, go to work again, and sleep. I've barely been paying attention to what day of the week it is, let alone reading or writing.

But! All of those crazy days have paid off - I'm leaving for Guatemala on Friday! I am beyond excited and slightly nervous too. It's going to be amazing.

But that means, too, that I won't be around next week and maybe the week after. Expect some real posts when I do get back!

What's going on in your life?


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Links

Or: I sorta forgot it was Saturday.

But since I've had two longer posts the last two weeks, I think it's time for a shorter post. So lately I've been researching this whole querying thing. And lemme tell you: It's TERRIFYING. I would love to tell you I have it all figured out, but honestly, it's scary and sometimes confusing, and I know it's going to be hard - but I know it'll be worth it in the end. Even if nothing ever comes out of it, I know it'll be worth it to have tried.

Anyways, how about some links? Let's do this vaguely in order, shall we?

First: Are you ready to query?

How do you write a query? This is a series of posts, one, two, three, four, and five. I think they're very well-written and easy to understand.

Okay, so you wrote a query letter. Now what? Now you go and read Query Shark and make your query BETTER. If you're really brave, you'll submit it to QS, or to BookEnds' query workshop.

So now where do you go to FIND agents? I like QueryTracker. They also have links to a lot of helpful sites.

And that's all I have for now. But... I think I'll take some requests. What do you guys want to see me talk about?

Peace and cookies,

(Also, I got this out before midnight, so it totally counts as being on Saturday.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do I Kill Them?

I haven't been posting on here and I feel absolutely horrible about it, but I've had a lot of school work to do lately. But now it's Spring Break, and that means time to WRITE.

This leads me to my topic today- killing off characters.
Nobody likes doing it (well... sometimes it's fun, but that's a different topic for a different day)

So now is the (not so) funny story portion of this post-
The other morning I was standing in my kitchen eating breakfast when BAM. I got a bit of dialogue for my Work In Progress. I don't know where this dialogue fits into the story, but I know it's vital that it ends up being a part of the story. I threw down my mashed potatoes (Yes, I had them for breakfast. Stop judging me.) and started typing away on my computer. By the end of the scene, I had typed about 500 words and when I read it over, I realized something. Because of this conversation, I couldn't kill of the character I was planning on killing off.
This may not be a big deal, but for the first 5,000 words of my WIP, I thought this character was going to die. And now I have to come to terms that I will be stuck with him for the whole of my WIP.

So now on to the discussion portion of this post.

I'm not one of those people who are good at killing off characters. I always nearly talk myself out of it because I love my characters, even the evil ones. One of the hardest choices I have ever made in writing is trying to decide if I should kill off some of the people I write. I've always talked myself out of it because "they were nice characters" and "killing them off wouldn't help develop the story".
It wasn't until writing that dialogue did I actually have a full grasp of why I shouldn't kill off this character. Like... if I killed him off, then I'm pretty sure my MC would go crazy and become more of an introvert than she already is.

So I'm wondering how you all handle it. Are you good at killing them off? Bad? You could really care less? Do you just... not believe in killing off characters? Do you swear by it? I'd love to know!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Other Characters

There are many blog posts and articles that stress the importance of knowing your main characters, of portraying them correctly, of expressing them thoroughly. Sometimes I think we forget that the characters in the background are just as important. Maybe, in some cases, even more so. Those characters need motives and traits to move the story along, too.

I was writing last night, and I was focusing so much on my main character that I realized I had no idea who any of the others were. I hadn't taken the time to figure it out. Maybe most of you already have, but this realization really stopped me. A story can't be created with just one person. Most can't, at least. I opened a new document and - of course - made a list. Of who these people were and what they like and say and do. How do they fit into the plot? How are they connected to my main character?

I'm a little ashamed of myself, to tell the truth. When you think of all the amazing secondary characters we've read about, here I am, pouring all of my time and focus into this single person. The story would be... boring, really, without those others. What would Harry Potter be without Hagrid? What would Pride & Prejudice be without Mr. Collins? What would Twilight be without Alice? These personalities completely add to the stories, don't they?

Anyway. Just wanted to include you guys in my own little lesson for the week: don't forget the other characters. What are some of your favorite secondary characters?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Material Details

People -- authors, editors, reviewers, teachers, the guy behind the Starbucks counter -- have been saying this since the dawn of writing: "DETAILS. DETAILS. DETAILS."
(Okay, maybe more so the teacher than the Starbucks guy, unless your oder goes something like this... You: I want coffee. Starbucks Guy: Okay, what kind? You: The liquid kind. Starbucks Guy: DETAILS. DETAILS. DETAILS.)

In fact, if this horse we're beating on isn't dead already, it soon will be. (Ha, see how I used a cliche to describe a repeated topic?) Yet there is a reason society is slowly bringing death upon the poor animal: details are definitely important, especially when it comes to describing characters.

And here follows the burning question: but HOW?

As in, but HOW should details be incorporated without seeming too bland or repetitive or much or little or fake?

In response, my advice would be this: get to know your characters, their personality, hobbies, traits...and, most importantly in regard to details, their appearance and possessions. That's right, I'm telling you to be material. Because once you know everything about your character, you can pick and choose the most important things (and usually sticking to the important things + a few fun facts is a safe way to avoid "too much/repetitive"). Readers can infer a lot from just a few descriptive details.

As an example, I'll infer about myself today, like I'm my own character, which should be amusing. Ha ha. My backpack's contents will allow you to infer a bit about me.

Item #1: Folder with printed pages of stories along with Important Forms To Be Signed. This indicates I'm as worried about my stories getting lost as I am the IFTBS.

Item #2: Half-full bag of Jolly Ranchers, with all of the greens and blues gone. This could mean I like greens and blues, or I've given them all away because I don't like them at all. (Bingo.)

Item(s) #3: Three calculators, one graphing and two scientific. Indicates I have too many calculators.

Item #4: Unopened pomegranate hand lotion. Indicates I like pomegranates and hand lotion but always forget about using it because it's buried under three books, which I get distracted by if I ever go looking for it.

Item(s) #5: Four spiral-bound notebooks, three-point-four of which are full. Indicates I use notebooks for writing more than just math homework and chem notes.

Item #6: Time-turner keychain. Indicates (quite correctly) I'm a huge Harry Potter nut, and I like shiny things that spin around and around and around.

Just mentioning any of the above would be enough in the story to add a few interesting details. Any other ways you've used to not over/underburden your writing with description?


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Stresses

Or: Why my eye wouldn't stop twitching and other stories.

(First: You have about 3 more days to enter our contest. Check it out!)

So I've told you guys before that when I stress, I have trouble sleeping and stress nightmares. I went for four or five days without sleeping well, which is a lot for me. And I had the WEIRDEST dreams.

Let me tell you a story about a man named Brady about this dream I had the other night. Wednesday night/Thursday morning, to be precise. This might be a long post, but I think you'll find it enjoyable. :P

So it's the end of the world as we know it (because apparently it's flooding - I live in Saskatchewan where it's always dry), and there's a guy in a giant chicken suit. Except it was missing a leg so one of the legs was all stripey with the big foot like Big Bird, and the other was just some guy's hairy leg. (As you can imagine, this is one of the weirder dreams I've had. At least top ten.)

And apparently if the world is ending, if you take some Nyquil and go to bed, it's all better in the morning, except the guy you go to bed with (the guy in the chicken soup???) gets annoyed that you drugged him.


So then I woke up at 6am and glared at the alarm click, and when I fell asleep again, I was in a mall food court. There was some weirdness about my mother taking the wrong order or something, then I saw this weird poster. It was a really rough painting of this kid, only his/her bones/limbs/back were drawn wiggly. Apparently wavy legs = fibromyalgia. (And various other ailments I can't remember.)

Somehow I just "knew" it was a Hunger Games poster. (Run with me here.) Not the upcoming movie, but the series/actual games. I'm not entirely sure which. Then it gets even weirder I realized I was either Katniss because I'm totally that type or the Hunger Games combined with Berserk in my subconsious and I got annoyed at this song playing (Good to You, Marianas Trench ft. Jessica Lee - one of Berserk's songs) and that the people I was eating with kept talking about Mockingjay this and Mockingjay that, so I stormed off.

Off the food court, there was this long hallway and a staircase up one flight. Because I was apparently heading to Ardenes (this store we have in Canada - I love it, so this seems like me), and there was a sign saying it was that way, I went up the stairs.

Enter the freakiest hall ever. I thought for a moment this would be coming a horror movie-esqe nightmare, but no. I walked right past the broken-looking elevator (there are a lot of these in my dreams, along with bathrooms) and into a Walmart-like stockroom. Now, stockrooms in real life are generally crowded, a tiny bit claustrophobic, and a little bit scary, so in my dream, you know how creepy it was.

So I knew I had to sneak out before the two girls working saw me. (Somehow I think this related to the Katniss thing...) I managed to make it right out into the store before getting caught. I was begging the girls not to expose me as being me when... my alarm went off and I had to get ready for work.

Along with those dreams, there was one where I was babysitting and I wanted to take the kids to the movies, and I wanted to take the kids to the movies, but the parents didn't approve for some reason, and one part of the food-court dreams where I dozed off at the table. It's kinda sad when you dream about sleeping...

The moral of this story? I owe Suzanne Collins a major apology... and, erm, I was stressing out for some reason. Why? At first I couldn't it out. Then I realized:

1. I wrote a book.
2. I wrote another book.

I know, shocking, isn't it? Not like I haven't been talking about it for months. :P

But let's break it down a little:

1. I wrote a book.
a. That is almost *gulp* being done being revised.
b. And I think I've figured out what my biggest problem with it is.
c. Which means I can fix it.
d. Which means it'll be done.
e. And I could start to query with it.
f. Maybe by summer, even.
g. Which scares the ever-loving daylights out of me.
h. Because I have to write a query, and this is a very hard thing.
i. And that means people will read it.
j. People who don't love me.
k. *trigger freakout*

2. I wrote another book.
a. That people ARE READING. (You were right, Kaitlin. This is stressful. :P)
b. That people LIKE.
c. Even more than the first.
d. That I could almost figure out a query for. Or at least the beginning of one.
e. Which makes me conflicted.
f. Did I mention the revisions don't seem impossible?
g. And I hate revisions.
h. I don't completely hate this WIP, however (and I hate a lot of what I write...)
i. *trigger freakout*

So. THAT is why my eye twitched for three days and I could not sleep. But, I crashed last night from... I dunno, 11ish to almost 10am, so YAY. Still had weird dreams, but the whole twitching thing seems to have stopped for the most part. I think a lot of that had to do with writing this post yesterday afternoon when I tried (and failed) to take a nap.

How do you guys deal with this kind of stress, though? I'm totally open to suggestions right now. (As long as they don't involve going for long walks. Because it's either cold out or melting and gross. So those have to wait a while.)

Peace and cookies,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Settings Exist!

When our car passed into Vermont, my dad said something to the effect of, "Check another state off your never-been-to list." It was a bit more eloquent than that, but I can't remember.

It's true. I'd never been to Vermont, and half the reason my family was driving eight hours to get here was so I could tour a college or two. The other half was so my dad and sister could go skiing. (A lot of people ask why I don't ski. I wish I did, but I just haven't, and I never feel inclined to go teach myself. Usually I have something I want to write on cold winter nights. My dad and sister go every winter, though, and they love it.) Anyway, Vermont turned out to be really neat. I wouldn't mind going to college here--even with the weather we got, which ranged from pouring rain to gusting winds to ice to a large snowstorm.

The coolest thing, though?

The settings.

We're staying in a little motel, surrounded by mountains and little towns milling with spring-break skiers. I've talked to the owners of the motel, a really nice couple, every day (the husband makes great pancakes for the motel breakfast!). Also, down the road is a neat little Irish pub/restaurant. My first thought, of both the motel and the pub, as well as the other locally owned gift stores and restaurants, was that they all seemed like perfect settings for books/movies. Even my mom, looking around the pub, said, "This is straight out of a Nora Roberts novel."

So, of course, I got back to the motel, opened my notebook, and jotted down key details. For a later novel. When you see an Irish pub that draws shamrocks in the foam of (my dad's) drink, you'll know where I got the inspiration.

Have you been to any places that you tucked away for future story use?


Saturday, March 5, 2011

100 Things About Your Friendly Neighbourhood Saturday

Or: I had a weird, not-much-sleeping, semi-painful week and I don't feel like continuing the post I did last week. Next week!

So I've seen this on Wendy's blog and also on Kaitlin's and I decided to totally copy them. Keep in mind I wrote most of this last night buzzed on Dr. Pepper when I should have been sleeping. Anyways, hope you enjoy this.

1. I'm short. Five-two and a half, to be precise.

2. I have size ten feet. I whine about this a lot but sometimes it works in my advantage in finding shoes on sale.

3. I'm not sure what colour my hair would be called. It's kind of a medium light brown with some reddish highlights in the right light and it picks up blonde highlights easily. The natural parts, anyways.

4. I have two chunks of my hair dyed blue. I don't feel like me without them.

5. My hair curls some after I wash it. Without "help", it gets this beachy sort of light wave. With "help," (aka curl defining spray and curl scrunching gel) it has a fair amount of big curls and waves.

6. The more it curls, the happier I am.

7. It curls more when it's short, but I like it long.

8. When I was young, I could sit on my hair.

9. I've only straightened it twice. When I got it cut, the girl straightened it to cut it, but she curled it when she was done.

10. I go out with my hair wet a lot because I like the way it curls as it dries (see above), but

11. I don't shower everyday because it dries out my hair and skin and makes my blue fade too fast, so

12. I like to curl my hair on days I don't wash it. Normally I nuse a 2-inch curling iron, but I got a new one for Christmas that I've been playing with.

13. I like the number 13 because it's my birthday. (December 13th.)

14. I can't believe I did ten things about my hair.

15. Also: I love headbands. My favourite is a black one with a bow.

16. Last one: I don't really put my hair in ponytails because it hurts my head. I use big hairclips on winter days when my hair is wet so it doesn't freeze solid (No, seriously. I've had it happen.) and when I cook or do dishes.

17. I like doing dishes.

18. Except when people let ketchup dry on things, or when there are chunks of food in the sink (nasty).

19. I love cooking and baking.

20. But I don't like to touch raw chicken or turkey. Pork, beef, even bacon and ground beef don't bug me. Just poutry.

21. I love bacon.

22. When I'm stressed or worried or my writing's not working the way I want it to, I clean.

23. When I'm really stressed, I don't sleep well.

24. But when I do, I have stress nightmares. They are bloody and violent.

25. Most of the time, though, my dreams aren't scary in anyway.

26. I open the fridge door at night instead of turning on a light. I know it's bad, but to be fair, my mom's bedroom door opens into the kitchen and it'd wake her up and she'd yell at me. :P

27. When I'm tired, my brain will think one work and I'll write down (or type) another, or skip words entirely. Makes for weird typos sometimes.

28. I'm very sensitive to caffeine.

29. But I don't like coffee anyways.

30. Pepsi gives me the hiccups.

31. I'm lactose intolerant, but I have pills so I can eat dairy.

32. I make the best brownies you'll ever have.

33. My laptop is named Lilah. Korianne named it when I first got it.

34. My room is always messy.

35. I own a television that is probably older than me.

36. It lives in my closet, so my closet doors are always open.

37. This, plus having no legs on my bed, makes me sleep easier.

38. I have way too many face and hair products, and way too much makeup.

39. I'm willing to invest in some things, but I like quality affordable stuff better. (Elf girl all the way!)

40. When I was a kid, I would tell myself stories in my head to make myself fall asleep.

41. I still do this.

42. When I was a kid, the stories usually featured Sailor Moon characters.

43. I keep old calendars, too.

44. My ears are pierces 6 times, 3 in each ear.

45. I want more.

46. This is written on the last page of my notebook and this makes me sad because I only have one more of this kind of notebook.

47. I like having painted nails and own a ton of nail polish, but I don't paint them that often.

48. I only wear makeup a couple times a week, but I own TONS.

49. One more hair one: My hair has been had blue, purple, green (from fading), and pink (also fading) streaks. I've spray-dyed it a million colours. It's been lighter and way too dark (bad look on me - I looked like Morticia Addams), but never red for some reason.

50. My doctor once said I had a redhead's skin.

51. My eyes look different colours depending on what I'm wearing, my makeup, how tired I am, etc.

52. When I cook or do dishes, I almost always listen to music

53. and I put my mp3 player in my bra so my hands are free (I rarely wear clothes with pockets).

54. I can skip songs by poking myself in the chest. I only do this in the house.

55. There is a cat salt and petter shaker set on my TV.

56. I hang necklaces I like but don't wear on my closet door handles and on the hook I hang my mirror on.

57. The mirror has a little precious moments girl on it, so you can't see part of the it, but I don't really mind.

58. My real name isn't Laina.

59. I have a Tinkerbell hamper.

60. I read about 450 picture books last year.

61. I love kids, but babies scare me a little... a lot.

62. Orange juice makes my stomach hurt.

63. Cheddar cheese grosses me out.

64. I want a pet hedgehog. Like, bad. But I can't really have pets right now. Which sucks.

65. I live next door to a church. I steal lilacs off their trees in spring because I love lilacs.

66. They make me a bit sneezy, but I don't care.

67. Next year, I think I'm going to water the trees. Saskatchewan doesn't get enough rain to keep lilacs happy and healthy and it makes me sad when the flowers die so fast.

68. I love Elle Canada. It's the only fashion type magazine I really read.

69. This number makes me snicker.

70. I choose not to curse. I feel it's unnecessary (for me, not for anyone else). I'm also trying to cut out saying, "God," and that type of thing.

71. I announce on Twitter pretty often when I have to pee. I do this in real life, too.

72. For a while, I wrote the number 1 like I write cursive capital L's. Then I lost points in math class because we did the peer marking thing and the girl who marked mine didn't like me. So I had to stop that.

73. My ring and pinky fingernails grow the longest, I have to cut my middle right fingernail after it gets a certain length or it hurts when I use my touchpad, my thumbnails are weirdly thick, and my index fingernails grow more on one side than the other.

74. I don't like wearing socks, but I love cute socks.

75. My feet get realy cold in winter, so I wear fuzzy socks pretty often, but I still don't like it.

76. I can't wear slippers because my feet sweat too much (I know, gross), and they start to smell kinda funky after a while, and you can't really wash them.

77. I watch too much TV.

78. I still have two baby teeth. I have to get them pulled sooner or later.

79. It always weirds me out that this number is prime.

80. I can kind count by prime numbers.

81. I love talking about my work.

82. I worry too much sometimes.

83. Large dogs scare me.

84. I like cats, but I'm mildly allergic.

85. I can tell when it's going to rain or snow because I get a headache.

86. In the winter, I miss the rain a lot. Where I live, it's too cold to rain from November to April, pretty much.

87. I hate winter.

88. Bubblegum hurts my fillings.

89. I've had two or three (baby) teeth pulled. I think three... but I can't really remember. I do remember when I had to have two teeth pulled at once.

90. I'd rather have (baby) teeth pulled than get cavities filled. (My adult teeth I'd rather like to keep!)

91. I tweet way, way too much.

92. I was born in 1992.

93. I totally have an Edward Cullen pillowcase.

94. I have bad knees.

95. There's a line in my forehead that doesn't go away. It's been there since I can remember. It annoys me.

96. I've tried to make this number dirty, but no matter how you look at it, no one's really having fun with this one.

97. I'm allergic to wool.

98. I'm running out of ideas for this.

99. I jitter a lot, and I play with strings on my clothes, buttons, hems, that kind of thing, when I'm thinking or on the computer and not paying attention to what I'm doing. And last

100. I finished my first round of revisions on Berserk.

Peace and cookies,

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It's Not What You Know

It's what you want to know. I know, that's not exactly how the saying goes. I tweaked it a bit. Because honestly, if we all really wrote what we knew, none of our stories would have dragons or faeries or vampires or magic. No historical fiction. I think we'd all eventually get... bored. And there are some things I do to change what I know to write outside of the box. Things I shall share with you. These work for me.

Do your research.

Research can actually be fun. I know! I was surprised, too. For my latest W.I.P. I'm writing about a girl who's part of an Amish community. Knowing absolutely nothing about the Amish, I've been taking out books from the library and printing off pages on the web. Not only am I learning a lot - something I managed to avoid in high school - but it's interesting stuff. At some point, I think every writer is going to have to hit the books. Or.. the web page. Might as well do it now, right?

Lose yourself.

In order to really write as if I know what I'm talking about, I like to close my eyes and picture myself in a bonnet and a skirt. Working in a garden. Going to barn raisings. I imagine the sweat beading on my forehead and the sound of laughter amid all the hammering. (It occurs to me this might seem a bit melodramatic, but like I said, works for me.) This could be applied to anything you're writing, of course, but especially when you're in a time or place that isn't typical. Does that make sense? Does to me, but I find I sometimes say things other people don't really get. Either I'm just weird or everyone else on the planet is slow on the uptake.. It's got to be everyone else.

Don't give up.

It's going to be hard writing a book set in ancient Rome or Victorian London or a tale about trolls who possess mystical powers. Harder than writing a story about a girl in Wisconsin (the last book I wrote). Writing anything is hard, especially seeing it through to the end. Writing something we have to research is going to be harder. So. Don't give in to those urges to forget about this stupid story that you have no idea how to write and you're starting to hate. Again, this could be applied to anything, but there it is.

Maybe this post will change that saying forever! It's not what you know, it's what you want to know. Did I come up with that, or has it been said before? Anyway, I think it's pretty catchy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Because third quarter is the dystopia unit in English (and maybe because my upcoming book is a dystopia) I thought I'd discuss the genre a bit.

Dystopians are up there with paranormal as the "it" genre right now. Actually, they've been pretty "it" for a while, from Fahrenheit 451 in the 50's to Hunger Games today. So what is it about a dystopia that makes people curl up with a blanket and a book and think, HOLY CRAP?
Let's see if you can guess my theory. Dystopian societies elicit the HOLY CRAP reaction because:
a) Generally, a lot of people start dying near the end. (Hello, Mockingjay...)
b) The technology is really neat.
c) The messed-up part of society could ACTUALLY HAPPEN.
d) Future boys? Totally hot.
Okay, so it could be any of these depending on who you are-- but for me, the answer is C. Dystopian societies take one (or more) aspect(s) of today's society and exaggerate them into, well, a dystopia. One example in The Hunger Games is fascination with media/reality TV. It gets out of control, add in a corrupt
snowball of government, and what do you get? Annual Hunger Games. If today's obsession with electronics and instant gratification gets out of hand, we wind up with the burning of books and suppression of critical thought in Fahrenheit 451. What's another well-known dystopia? Oh, The Giver. (Read that for English in 8th grade.) Exacerbating today's obsession with being just like everyone else and fear of bad feelings, and we have a society of bland equality. Notice I said "bland." Or, moviewise, in Gattaca (see it! see it!) our "need" to map out our futures and be in perfect physical condition (aesthetically and health-wise) spirals into a world where anyone with any "imperfections" is a lower race with less opportunities.

So that's what gives me a HOLY CRAP reaction: in a good dystopian, I can see the dys part of the topia in the world around me. And it freaks me out--so, of course, I keep reading!

Any other good examples, or reasons for the HOLY CRAP reaction?