Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday a day later

Today was my Tuesday, because yesterday was my school-Monday (my district gets off for the first day of buck season, wouldn't you know...). But I'm not here to talk about the odd holidays of my region. I'm here to talk about the food of my region. Or, regional food in general (kind of an oxymoron there, huh?).

Setting is, as we all know, quite important to a story. And what's part of setting? Food. Not just what's available/popular in a region, but what it's called. (For example, pop vs. soda and funnel cake vs. fried dough.) Food might stand out if a character finds himself/herself in a new area--for example, when I was in Tennessee this summer there was fried pie at the Fourth of July fair. (Actually, a lot of things were fried.) But fried pie? Totally caused a double-take. Or, if the character is in a usual setting, food can be worked in to enhance the sensory appeals of the story. Let's face it, sight and sound are used to death. How about taste and scent?

I challenge you to look up your state (or area) on Wikipedia and read the food section. Under the Pennsylvania page were foods I didn't know were traditional PA delicacies (pretzels, chips), food I definitely would've guessed (chocolate, go Hershey!), and even some food I've honestly never heard of (what's chow-chow?).

Also, including food gives you an awesome new aspect of your setting to research...preferably hands-on!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Speaks About Snapshots

Or: Alliteration is STILL fun.

I love pictures. Now, I'm not a great photographer (partly my camera really sucks, but partly I'm just not a very good photographer) but I really do love pictures.

I'm not always a very visual person, so I like having photos that make me think of my WIP, either in atmosphere or subject. To me, it's kind of like how each of my books has its own playlist.



Scream My Name (it's about banshees...):

So what have we learned? That photo posts like this take a long time, I have a TON of We Heart It photos, and I really like Taylor Swift.

Tell me your thoughts now, okay? I'm going to go collapse in an exhausted pile.

Peace and cookies,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Characters Who Do Not Read

Have you noticed this, too?

How, in most YA books, the main character doesn't

Maybe they read for school, or connect their lives to a famous piece of literature of which the act of reading doesn't need to be described because, duh, everyone knows Romeo and Juliet or gets the gist of Pride and Prejudice. Maybe the main character must read stacks of books on ancient sorcery or computer programming because the skill attained will be essential to the plot. But very few book characters read books like the ones they happen to live in.

I suppose this makes some sense--the act of reading, unless setting up a character's appearance or serving as a cover activity for an espionage mission, isn't very exciting because the real action happens inside the mind. "She turned the page...the ink letters informed her that a friend once thought trustworthy had actually betrayed the central character in the story...images flashed across her mind...the ink letters indicated strong dialogue between the fictional people in the story!..." (By the way, what would fictional characters in a fictional story be? Fictional once removed?)

Also, characters that love, love, love! to read teeter quite close to falling into the character trap of the starry-eyed, fresh-faced Belle clutching an armload of books and hurrying home to tend to dear, eccentric Papa before settling down with a warm cup of tea and her favorite dog-eared paperback. Yeah. Been there, done that. And besides, even Belle dropped the books when she met Beast and some real action began.

The biggest reason, though, characters never seem to read that much is--I believe--that then those characters are in danger of becoming autobiographical. For example, I love to read. If my character also puts "reading" as one of her top Facebook activities, it might lead to listing her favorite stories, which would probably be my favorite stories, and then connecting to her favorite characters, which would be my favorite characters, and not only does this start to resemble a painting within a painting within a painting, it also strays from the plot I want to write. I'm not sitting at my computer for hours typing my life's story--that'd be called a diary (and besides, I'm horrible at diaries). My main characters are not me, and my favorite books are so much a reflection of who I am that devoting precious detail to that part of my character's life better have a higher purpose with drastically different tastes than me to work.

That being said, there are, of course, the literate side characters--the token bookworm characters that have read everything, and these can be used for comedic relief and funny nods of the metaphorical head to those who've dissected Macbeth in tenth grade honors English. These characters are supposed to read. Have at it.

What are your opinions on reading within reading?


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Says Synopsises Suck

Or: Alliteration is fun!

Before I go about writing this post, can I just say how much I HATE writing that word? Seriously, I can never spell it on the first try. Or the second. Or the third. Bah. Hate it.

Now how about some links to people who will say (and spell) this better than me first.

Katherine Ortiz

Pub Rants

Go Teen Writers

Bookends LLC

Confessions of a Wandering Heart

Fiction Groupie

Hannah Moskowitz

Where Ladybugs Roar (This one is less about the synopsis itself, but it’s got some really good points about summarizing and this is my post so I’m linking to it anyways)

I’m not querying yet (January, fingers crossed) but I’m working on getting there and I am very bad at the stuff that comes after the whole writing and revising thing.

(My query letter? I’ve written like twelve different versions of it. And that’s full scrapping-and-restarting versions, not tweaks. And you know what? I hate query letters. Where was I going with this again? Oh, right. This is why I shouldn’t write blog posts running on no sleep and over-caffeinated.)

Anyways, like I said, I’m not good at this part, so I figure better to get it done before I need it to have time to work on it, right?

Right. That’s what I figured too. Except the thing is, I hate summarizing things. With a passion that burns like the fire of a thousand sunburns. This is why I tend to mumble and grumble and complain through the “Plot” section of my reviews. So what I’m trying working on it one chapter at a time, going backwards. Then I’ll – hopefully – be able to mash them together into something that makes sense and edit until it doesn’t sound like a 7th grade book report.

(I’m totally stealing this from Hannah, by the way. She’s seriously awesome, if you haven’t noticed. And also I have signed magnets from her that I use to hold my calendar to my closet door when I plan my clothes for the next 2 weeks.)

Stay tuned for how that works! (Seriously, do you guys want to know how it turns out? Let me know.)

Peace and cookies,

Oh, don't forget that we're looking for new members!

Friday, November 18, 2011


…or as I like to call it, NaNoFailMo. Every year, for some crazy reason, I tell myself that I can participate in NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month). I get myself all geared up for the crazy month ahead and I hit NaNoWriMo full force. I continue at full force for about three days. Then I crash. This is my 4th year participating in NaNo, and it’s my 4th year throwing in the towel. So, even though every November I quit- for those of you who don’t stop believing writing, I congratulate you. For those of you who are like me, I give you a virtual high-five. Though I’m not a NaNo expert, I have come up with some writing tips for NaNoWriMo. They haven’t kept me writing the whole month, but they did help for the time I was writing.

1. Make Your Characters Interesting

Please, do this. Please. I suffer from making my characters boring in every first draft I write. It makes the whole ordeal painful. I don’t even care if the characters quirks don’t make sense. This is NaNoWriMo we’re talking about. Nothing you write during NaNo is going to be perfect.

2. Write as Fast as You Can in the Beginning

Don’t go slow. Write as much as humanly possible during the first few days of NaNo. Write so much that the thought of touching your keyboard gives you a headache. Then write some more. This is what I do, because even if you do throw in the towel, you have like 30k words of a book that you can work on in the future.

3. Have FUN

This kind of ties in with #1. Nothing you write during NaNoWriMo is going to be perfect, so why not have fun? You want a talking walrus in your contemporary romance book? GO FOR IT. Twins with detachable eyes and fingers? Go write those twins! (*cough* This may have been in my NaNo.)

So that’s it. Three of my tips for surviving National Novel Writing Month. Since NaNoWriMo is nearly over, if you’re writing, chances are you’re doing pretty darn good.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month? What’s your story about? Were you like me and stopped writing half way through? Tell me in the Comments!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Few More Items

A few days ago I wrote this post about glasses on my blog. Today I think I'll list a few (more obscure, probably) items main characters (or any characters) can have to mix things up.

1) Roller blades. I definitely give credit for this idea to that new HP Printer commercial, you know, this one with the super-cute baby and Melanie song. It's been stuck in my head all day. And it got me thinking, I don't see anyone roller skating anymore. I used to have a pair--the kind with brakes on the front, which, in retrospect, seems less than safe--but how cool would it be to skate around as a method of transportation? Especially fictionally.

2) Quills. Yes, it's very Harry Potter (which makes quills all the cooler), but in a contemporary setting, quills would definitely air on the quirky side. Imagine the issues that could arise from spilled ink or broken feathers...

3) Envelopes. Maybe he/she collects fingerprints or trace evidence to document his/her life. maybe he'she leaves notes sealed in envelopes as a means of communication. Maybe they hold his/her many different flavors of gum.

Any ideas for quirky items/habits?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

We're Back!

Or: Saturday is trying to be professional by not using a funny subtitle.

You may have noticed that the blog has been rather quiet lately. You know, since *cough* August or so. A couple of us had internet issues and we lost a couple members. But we're back and we have NEWS!!

The YA Lit Six is looking for three new bloggers!


-- You must be under 25.
-- You must be a writer. (Well, duh, right?) State of publication does not matter.
-- You must be willing to commit to blogging every week on your day.
-- It would be nice you wouldn't mind tweeting from the @yalitsix account once in a while since I suck at remembering to do that and I would love if someone did that.
-- That's about it!

If you're interested in joining, please send a sample post to, pasted into the body of the email. No attachments. Since it's November 12th today, we'll give you until December 13th (because that's my birthday) to send in your posts.

We'd love to know a little bit about you, but no introduction posts, please. We are looking to see how your writing style would fit with ours and get an idea of your blogging ideas. Try to have it be somewhere around 250-350 words, but use your best judgement. Last, please list in order which days you would prefer to have. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are available.

We look forward to seeing your posts!

Peace and cookies,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Feelings [italicized]

I did something this weekend that I have not done in many, many weeks:

I bought a book.

And read it.

In the same weekend.

Yes! It's true! I got an end-of-the-marking-period present for myself, and had the time to read it, also due to it being the end of the marking period. Really. Marking periods need to end more often.

It gets better: I liked the book. I was engaged in the book. I haven't been able to totally immerse myself in a book since junior year started. (This may not seem like a very long time, but for a girl who, at one point in her life--maybe eighth grade and prior--read about four, five, six books a week, it is a very...long...time.) Thoughts of homework or plans or more homework or the fact that I was trying to squeeze in a read at 11:30 pm and my eyelids suddenly had 5lb dumbbells attached to them...or more homework...have always gotten in the way the past few months. Also, many of the books I tried to sit down and read couldn't capture my attention. Plotlines were thin...main characters were shallow...the disbelief I used to (at that One Point in My Life) be able to suspend just wouldn't suspend.

Anyway. This little rant brings me to this book, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, that I got on an opportune weekend. And that was really good. As good--maybe better--than the sneak peek I got in Barnes&Noble promised. Have you ever picked up a book (maybe after hours of wandering through the store) and had that feeling? By italicized feeling I meant the notion that hey, this looks just about perfect right now. In fact, I kind of can't wait to read it. This feeling, for me, is usually a result of the cover + good jacket flap blurb + intriguing plot snippet at random page + amusing/gripping/flippant/colorful style. If all of those add up, it = feeling.

This weekend I suppose the right feeling for me was something creepy, a bit offbeat, not a totally romance-centered plot, and an easy, believable first-person style. (If you're into that feeling right now, check out this book.)

What sort of qualities create feelings for you when you pick up a book?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Time Machine

Hey everyone! It's Tuesday, Kieryn (me!) is writing, and The October-y break is over as it is, apparently, November. (Whoa.) YA Lit Six is looking for some new members and we will be announcing more information on that in the near future. So STAY TUNED [<-- read this in a 1950's newscaster voice].

Funny that I mentioned the 1950's there (well, not so funny because I kind of did it intentionally), as the decades are the subject of my post today. And by decades I mean the array of inspiration the last hundred years can provide, plotwise.

I may be thinking of this because my friends and I were the decades for Halloween. (Party, not it was a Monday I had homework to do between 6 and 8 yesterday.) I was the 30's, and I got to shove my hair into a little gray cap and put on red lipstick. I kind of wanted to go for an outfit more representative of the time period--Hooverville-esque, maybe--but, honestly, the liptstick was too much fun.

I digress--kind of. The distinctive styles of the decades is actually a fair bit of inspiration, I think. Rattling off descriptions of modern-day clothing is boring. But slipping a few extra details about cloches or flapper dresses or zoot suits is actually a plus.

Moving past the ink-and-paper wardrobe, I think the social aspect of the different time periods would be (and have been) excellent plot fodder. Did you know that in the early 1900's all of a woman's property was turned over to her husband when she married? Even the rights to her kids? (Yes, we talked about this in history today.) That's a plot already set up and waiting to be explored again. Then there's the Great Depression, both World Wars, rock-n-roll vs. the view of women & family in the 50's, Woodstock, disco...tons of settings and characture vs. society plots made-2-order.

I'm not sure if my next story will be historical fiction or not, but it's definitely worth looking into. What time period would you write about?