Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Daily Quote Challenge (or: I'VE BEEN TAGGED IN A POST, GUYS!!!)

Hello!  It is the last day of May!  And I've been tagged in a post by the fabulous Maggie @ Maggie's Musings!  Aaaaaand I'm bending the rules.  Which is something I NEVER DO so watch out world here I come.

The Daily Quote Challenge -- What you're supposed to do.
1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Tag three new bloggers every day.
3. Post one quote on your blog every day for three consecutive days.

The Daily Quote Challenge -- What I'm doing.
1. Thanking the person who nominated me.
2. Tagging....some bloggers?
3. Posting a bunch of quotes here because why the heck not.

So first things first: Thank you Maggie, you amazing unicorn and generally cool person!

(this is the point in the story where Grace realizes that the steps are out of order and has a crisis because while she can completely rework the rules for the challenge she cannot follow a numbered list in the WRONG ORDER because that would be a crime to all of humanity.  THREE DOES NOT COME BEFORE TWO)

Have I ever mentioned that I'm weird?

Okay, so here are the quotes.  I'm combining this challenge with something Faith @ Genuine Perplexities did, where she described herself with various internet things.  So basically I'm posting a bunch of quotes that are important to me.

So there you have it!

Quotes that I like.  

Now to tag.

This is the problem with having a whopping total of four friends and only two of them blog.
Not only that but Maggie's already done the post, and tagged Faith.  So.  I highly doubt people will see this but here goes.  

Cait @ Paper Fury
Hannah @ Hannah Heath

And that's it.  Can I tag Faith and Maggie again? Nope.  So basically if you want to do this post, consider yourself tagged, say that I tagged you, and make the post. 

That's it!  Grace out.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

What I've Been Reading -- May 2017

These will be happening at the end of each month.  It won't have ALL the books I've read each month, but two or three I pick out as either being my favorites, or the ones I'd like to talk about.  These books will probably not be current, I'm not doing anything like reviewing the hot new summer novels, or whatever.  This is just what I've been up to.  I'll put in my own opinions, and a quote or two from the book.  By all means use this list and my opinions when looking for something to read, or completely disregard it.  I don't care.

And that being said, let's get on with it!

East of Eden
John Steinbeck

I loved this book, and Steinbeck in general.  It follows the lives of a few families, and connects them all in an intricate web.  One of the reasons I like this author is because his characters are extremely true-to-life, and this book absolutely DOES NOT FAIL MY STANDARDS.  Forget Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, this is my favorite Steinbeck book as of yet.  His wording and descriptions are beautiful, I never fail to get a perfect image of his world in my head, and every character has it's ups and downs.  In fact my favorite thing about this book is that it's often hard to tell which characters are "good" and which are "evil".  Seen through Steinbeck's starkly realist point of view, each one is well-developed, and each one makes good and bad decisions.  While it is on the longer side, I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone.

"Humans are caught -- in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, and in their kindness and generosity too -- in a net of good and evil.  I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence.  Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any chances we may impose of field and river and mountain, on economy and manners.  There is no other story.  A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil?  Have I done well -- or ill?"

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde

This book wasn't bad.  I was fairly hesitant starting out, the book doesn't open in a particularly exciting way, but once you get past the first chapter or so things begin to pick up.  While the book as a whole isn't something I would read again, the character development was EXCELLENT, and without a doubt the best part of the whole thing.  Dorian Gray's character in particular was very well done, but his good friend wasn't neglected by any means.  In fact, I think his friend, Lord Henry, was a more interesting character than Dorian, despite Dorian being the one going through the greatest changes.  While I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, if you enjoy Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, you will probably want to add this one to your list.

"All I want to do now is look at life.  You may come and look at it with me, if you care to."

"One has a right to judge of a man by the effect he has over his friends."

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

This is the first book I've read in a while that's given me a solid book hangover.  I have a slight weakness for books set during WWII, but after reading this book I'm almost afraid to read others like it, in case this one spoiled me.  The author added a lot of science to the story -- one of the characters is interested in radio, the other in seashells -- but instead of bogging it down, it made the characters and the events so much more interesting, and added meaning to things about those characters that I never would have thought of on my own.  The structure of the book is unique as well, and something I did not expect at all.  The story almost works backwards.  That's the best I can do, it's incredibly hard to explain the layout of this book.  All I can say is it's magnificent.  I would recommend it to anyone, but be warned, you will feel things.

"Stones are just stones and rain is just rain and misfortune is just bad luck."

"He is being loyal.  He is being what everybody agrees is good.  And yet every time he wakes and buttons his tunic, he feels he is betraying something."

"Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever."

So there you have it!  My three books from this month.  What have you been reading?  Let me know in the comments!  I'd also love your recommendations, if you want to give them to me.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Strong Female Lead

Welcome to the sixth "You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your ___________"!
Yes this is late.  I'm not terribly sorry.

Maggie at Maggie's Musings helped me brainstorm this post!  She's really awesome, you should check out her blog.

Strong female leads:  In all honesty, out of all the tropes I've done so far this one is the least bad, in my opinion.  Yeah, it's full of stereotypes and overused in the name of feminism, but the concept is good.  I'm all for women having as many great and glorious adventures as men.

So if they're not that bad at all (and even good), what is it about them that I don't like?

One: girl is an emotionless abyss.
See, people have this idea that if a girl is strong, SHE HAS NO EMOTIONS.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  This is either because things have happened to her which have made her try to cut them off, or because she doesn't understand them because that's just who she is as a person.  And if she does have emotions, they come in the form of ONE MASSIVE BREAKDOWN WHICH POSSIBLY RUINS EVERYTHING AND CONFUSES A LOT OF PEOPLE.
*cue ugly crying*
The problem with this cliche is it just isn't true.  While there are girls who don't have strong emotions and solve problems logically, there are lots of other girls who are on the other side of the picture and are extremely emotionally driven.  And then there's girls like me, who are in the middle, and let their heart and their head work together to solve problems.  Instead of girls being really mysterious and feeling nothing, LET THEM FEEL THINGS!  Make logical characters, but make emotional characters too!  And make characters who can never decide anything because their heart tells them one thing and their head tells them another and their intuition is telling everything else to just SHUT UP AND LISTEN ALREADY I AM HERE but yet they don't follow their gut and then everything goes haywire!

That was a run-on sentence about my brain.

Writing me as a main character would be an absolute nightmare.

Two: girl is good at everything but insecure.
*stunningly gorgeous girl and stunningly handsome guy are talking*
Girl: I'm so uglyyyyy....
Boy: No!  You're beautiful!
Girl: No I'm not, I'm ugly!  Don't lie to me!

Girl: I can't shoot a bow and arrow!  I have such bad aim!
Boy: Here, try this one!
*girl hits every target ever and also an apple on the rooftop of a house in Spain despite her being in America*

Girl: I can't lead, I can't fight, I can't cook, I can't make speeches, I can't stand up for what I believe in.........
*girl leads entire army into battle and wins on the first try*

So yeah.  This is waaaaay too common and needs to stop.  Maybe it's true that there are people who have talents they don't know about or don't recognize, but REALLY?  EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN EVERY BOOK IS UNWITTINGLY GOOD AT EVERYTHING!  It's really getting on my nerves.  Can I shoot a bow and arrow on the first try?  No!  Can I lead an entire army into battle with terrible leadership skills?  No!  

(also about the bow and arrow: why is it that's all girl's ever use as weapons?  why can't I see a girl wielding a sword as big as she is, forged from the blood of her enemies?)

Three: girl is pretty (but not too pretty).
Lest we mistake her for a movie star or a toad, it must be specified that she is NOT UGLY, but she is NOT DROP DEAD GORGEOUS EITHER.  Nope.  Always the happy medium.  Always floating right in between, a happy cloud of not-too-prettiness.  I guess this is because we can't have ugly main characters, but we also can't have characters that look better than our readers because that's not normal.  Even though we know the actress that plays her in the film is going to be 839,294,000% better looking than all of us lowly worms.

Oh, and we always get this information while she's looking at a mirror contemplating her life and pitiful destiny.  You know, that scene in the first chapter of the book where she talks about her ordinary life and is thrown into a tumultuous plot immediately afterwards?  Yeah.  That scene.  

Four: girl is the one telling the story.
Now I've got nothing against first person present tense.  


I'm not joking.  It feels like every book I've read with a "strong female lead" has the girl telling the story as it happens.  Why can't we have a different perspective some of the time?  WHYYYYY!??!?

Five: girl is caught in a love triangle.
This is just like, standard, factory-made stuff now.  Of course there's a love triangle.  Why wouldn't there be?  It's like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with no jelly.  


For a further rant on this topic please see a previous post.  There will be a link at the end of this one.

Six: girl wears fitting, figure-enhancing clothing.
Granted, this is much more prevalent in films than in novels.  It still frustrates me, though.  In my opinion, the only times it's okay to give a girl a form-fitting, skimpy outfit are:
1. If there are also men in tight-fitting outfits and it's for a purpose.
2. If her job has something specifically to do with wearing clothing like that.
3. If her character is the type of person who would enjoy wearing that kind of clothing.

Star Wars has done a FANTASTIC job with practical clothing:

Jynn Erso from Rogue One

Captain Phasma from The Force Awakens

You see that armor?  You see how it looks almost identical to the rest of the Stormtroopers' armor?  It's just on a woman.  That's it.  Everything else is the same.  It's not hard to figure out.  And it's much more practical.  Instead of a skintight leather suit, or armor that only covers the midsection, try FULL ARMOR, or try loose, flexible clothing.  

So there's my rant.
If you know of any YA books that throw away these cliches, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!  I would love to read them. 

The Love Triangle Post (and the first one in this series):
You Want to Go Home and Rethink Your Love Triangle

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Working Through My TBR: Is the Way I Read Weird? WHO CAN TELL????!!!!!!

So now that school's over for the year, I have the mental energy to dive into my very long To Be Read list.  I don't have a physical pile, because I'm getting them from the library, but I do have a very very very long list.  Considering I only started the actual list a few months ago.

A few things I have accomplished since the end of the school year:
2. Read a whole book in an evening.
3. Put a massive pile of books on hold at the library.

Which brings me to the bulk of the blog post:

How I Read Books

I read a little weirdly, according to some people I have spoken to on the subject.  

How, you ask?

I stress read.

Yep.  I stress read.  Sort of.  Like, I enjoy reading and find it relaxing (although I'm usually a pretty chill person anyway so it's just more relaxing which can end in and in fact has ended in sleep), but I don't often feel particularly motivated to read unless I have A MASSIVE PILE OF BOOKS STARING ME DOWN AND DARING ME TO FINISH THAT ONE AND MOVE ON TO THE NEXT.

This is partly why I started the whole "read some books and blog about them" thing, which I haven't actually done.  It starts this month, though.  Officially.  Because I've actually done enough reading to justify writing about it.

But anyway, unless the book is really good and COMPLETELY SUCKS ME IN, I often don't read it unless I HAVE TO in order to move on to the next one.  Because if I read more than one book at once the world will collapse inward and kill us all.

There's also anticipation that goes along with that whole massive pile of books thing.  I want to read them AAAAAAALLLLLLL but I have to finish the one I'm on first.  I imagine Belle often feels the same way.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make a little survey, because surveys are fun, and see how y'all read things.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

10 Things About Being a Writer that are REALLY Annoying

So there are some things about being a writer that I love!  Like the character building, the plotting, and (usually) the writing itself.  But there are some things that make me feel like pulling my hair out.  Maybe not everyone's the same, but here are 10 things that drive me up a wall when it comes to writing.

1. When I'm writing by hand and get a cramp.
BECAUSE NOTHING SHOULD COME BETWEEN ME AND THIS STORY IDEA.  It always happens when I'm on a roll.  Always.  And then I rest my hand, shake it out, rub it, and the cramp goes away.  I start writing again and five seconds later....
In case you hadn't noticed, it makes me mad.  And I'm very strongly right-handed, so I can't switch hands.  I suppose I could learn how to write with my feet...or my teeth...but in the meantime I'll use a laptop whenever I can.

2. When I'm doing well keeping up my word count and then....nothing.
This happens to me every time I try any kind of NaNoWriMo event.  In fact, my stats from this April reflected that.  Basically I'll write really steadily on something for a week or so, and then for the next two there will be nothing coming out of my brain.  This isn't because I forget about my story, but because I have no desire to write anything, despite knowing I have too.  Even when I'm not tracking my word count, I write in spurts.  

What makes this a frustrating problem is that I know once I start writing I could write two or three thousand words in one sitting.  I just have to get started, and the first page is always torture, and I feel like I'm writing while I'm half asleep.

Real footage of me trying to write after taking a break.


4. When what I'm writing on changes my writing voice.
I usually write on my laptop, but I also use a typewriter or a notebook.  The only problem is, I sound different with each thing I use.  When I'm writing by hand, it sounds flat and more like I'm recording a series of events with no emotion than writing a story.  When I'm using the typewriter, I take on a more formal and old-fashioned voice.  I can't really describe my laptop voice, although it's my favorite, which is why I use it the most.  

As a result, I can't easily write the same story on different mediums, and I can't usually type up what I've written on paper and continue on my laptop.  I have to rewrite it in a different style.  I'm working on this, though, because it would be really nice to have a universal sound. 

5. When my characters all morph into the same person.
This one makes me so mad.  I have a hard time writing faults into my characters, so they all eventually end up morphing into the same gentle, understanding, compassionate, and happy person.  They can always see every side of a problem and willingly talk through a problem and listen to other people's opinions.  They always respect different points of view, and take the time to help other characters who have it rough.  

So basically all my characters are perfect angels and IT IS SO VERY VERY VERY FRUSTRATING.  There's only one character who's really avoided this, and that's mostly because he's only about as deep as his sarcasm.  I tell myself I'll fix the others in the second draft, and his supporting character, who's morphing into Mr. Sweet Nice Guy, is going to turn back into Mr. Bored Posh Sloth as I write, which is going to result in a very confusing character for my poor friends who are reading my first draft.  Thankfully, those friends are REALLY GOOD at writing flaws into their characters, and give me advice when I need it.  

6. When my story brings out my dark side.
I'm not a bad person.  I don't want to kill people, I don't betray my friends, I don't do a lot of bad things in general.  But when I'm writing a story where bad things happen, like stabbings and murders and death and lies and betrayal, that little part of me wakes up and says "BUT WOULD'T IT BE SO COOL IF THIS PERSON ACTUALLY HAD TO KILL THIS INNOCENT CHILD THAT WOULD JUST RIP EVERYONE TO SHREDS AND THEN THEY'D HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES".   Or maybe "WHAT IF SOMEONE BECAME DEATH, Y'ALL, THAT WOULD BE COOL!" I'm not a psychopath, guys.  I'm a decent human being.  But I'm also a writer.  I have no problem killing off characters, torturing those characters, or making those characters do dark and murderous things for the sake of moving the plot forward, but when I'm done writing I'll bake you cookies.

So yeah.  That's a mild problem that I'm pretty sure every writer experiences.  

7. When I have 500 loose ends and plot holes in my story but can't be bothered to correct them.
How will James close the gate and kill the alien without killing any humans?  But then how will he have the guilt of letting someone die follow him around for the rest of his life?  What if he dies?  But how then will he be the narrator for the end of the story, because I don't want to switch to Orion's voice.  But it would be so saaaaaad if I switched to Orion's voice.  He would be so beautifully saaaaaad if his best friend died (what did I say about a dark side??).  BUT JAMES CLOSES THE STORY!!?!??

Also there's the problem of how on earth Andy knows about the alien if that alien's the only one who got through the crack?  Why did that alien choose to take over a four year old girl?  Why is Andy dead?  That was unintentional.  How has Phoebe's family not noticed that an alien is taking over her body?  
"But," you say, "this is YOUR story, isn't it?  Aren't your readers the ones who should be asking the questions?"

Obviously I should wait until I get to the part of the story with the problem to actually fix the problem.

8. When I get a fantastic story idea, but it doesn't go anywhere.
This might be because I don't plan things out.  I mean, why would I want to do that????  But seriously, 99.9999999999999999999%* of the time I get a brilliant idea for a story, it dies within the first two chapters.  Or it doesn't even get a full chapter.  It just sort it's own failed good idea-ness.  And then I think, "oh, I'll get back to this later".  

*not actual math

9. When someone asks me to explain a story to them.
"So there's this guy, but I can't remember his name so I'll call him Jack, and there's this girl I haven't named yet, and they go off to do this thing...I think.  They might not.  But anyway there's this guy I can't remember the name of and this girl and they do this thing but the thing doesn't work so they die?  And then their ghosts rise from the grave and plot something but they're not actually ghosts, there's like this sciencey thing that retains their consciousness in the air so they seem like ghosts.  So anyway the girl and the guy do this thing and it doesn't work so they die and become ghosts who aren't actually ghosts and they make this plot to do this other thing, but then they meet this kid who is named Jeremy and Jeremy thinks they're ghosts and wants them to help him clean his room but they aren't actually ghosts so they can't because they can't move things they can just think and talk but I haven't worked that bit out yet.  So anyway there's this sciencey thing that happens and Jeremy dies and is a not-a-ghost too and then they kill the president.  It's cool, I promise."

10. Finding the perfect name for my characters.
Because no name is absolutely perfect.  This takes me FOREVER.  I scroll through name after name after name after name, search all kinds of meanings (because OBVIOUSLY that is important even though it's never going to come up ever at all), sort through the ones that don't sound like the character's personality (because gentle people should have gentle names and cool mysterious assassins must have cool mysterious assassin names. There's a law about that somewhere), and when I finally find a name I sort of like, ONE OF MY FRIENDS HAS ALREADY USED IT BECAUSE OF COURSE THEY HAVE.



And then I worry about my precious literary children not liking the names given to them, how I'm going to change their names to work in a different timeline or universe, and who's going to give them what nicknames.  AND IF I EVEN LIKE THE NICKNAMES.

There's also what the names remind me of.  If I know about a character in another book or movie or someone in real life who has a certain name, and I don't like that character or person, I obviously can't name my character after them.  Or if a name reminds me of a food.  I can't give people names that remind me of food.  

The biggest one though? 


And that's all!  10 things that really annoy me as a writer.  Do these apply to you?  Is there something else that annoys you more?  Let me know in the comments!