Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Was Here Seattle Tour Stop and Interview with Gayle Forman

 Gayle Forman's new book I Was Here is set partially in nearby Tacoma. To celebrate the launch, she has been having friends and fellow authors meet up with her. Tonight Nina LaCour and Deb Caletti joined her for a conversation at University Bookstore in a very rainy Seattle, WA. They talked about their writing process and how do they revise. They also talked about how they name their characters and how they feel about setting. A general theme of the night was friendship as they reflected on their writing experience and lives in general. The night felt like overhearing a conversation of friends and was very much enjoyed by me.
Earlier that night, I had the opportunity to briefly talk with Gayle and ask her a few questions.
S: Why did you decide to write contemporary with many other genres in YA?
Gayle said that it is the world that she lives in and it is where she can explore many of the questions that she is drawn to.
S: What are some of your recommended reads? 
She recommended Deb Caletti's The Last Forever, Nina LaCour's The Disenchantment,
Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun, Jacqueline Woodsen's Brown Girl Dreaming, and Coe Booth's Tyrell Series.
S: What is the best writing advice that you have received?
"Hard Writing makes easy reading."
S:What inspired or influenced you to grapple with suicide?
Gayle said that she was inspired by an article that she wrote about suicide; which, introduced her to Suzy Gonzales, who didn't seem like someone that would commit suicide from many of the people surrounding her. Gayle wanted to deal with being on the receiving end of a timed suicide note from someone that you love and that you find incredibly gifted and amazing. Over the writing process, she found that it was more about survival and loving life as she explored Cody's character and revised the book..
S: What are your upcoming books?
 Gayle said she is currently working on three books, which has recently become more so between two books. She likes switching, because it makes the writing seem more fresh and exciting.  

Thank you to University Bookstore for hosting; Penguin Randomhouse for organizing the interview and the tour;  Gayle Forman, Nina LaCour, Deb Caletti; and you for reading this.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

Source: Publisher
Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant -- until Celia meets Lo.
Lo doesn't know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea -- a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid -- all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she's becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she's tempted to embrace her dark immortality.
When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude's affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there's only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.

I love this series. Pearce creates such dark,  but complicated retellings of fairy tales and I just need more. Celia was such a sweet character and I understood her character a lot. Her sisters were harder to understand, but I still found them to be entertaining. I liked how they blended together, because sisters tend to be very similar yet slightly distinct. I like Lo too. The romance in the story was beautiful and I liked that Pearce made the plot surprising and enjoyable. The plot drew me in and enchanted me into wanting to read more.  I find her originality to be amazing and the story was well crafted as a result. Pearce crafts another beautiful retelling of a fairy tale and I can't wait to read more books along this way. If you have enjoyed her other books, you must read this one now. It is very similar to Sisters Red and Sweetly and dives deeper into the story.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone has a lot to say about Alice Franklin, and it’s stopped mattering whether it’s true. The rumors started at a party when Alice supposedly had sex with two guys in one night. When school starts everyone almost forgets about Alice until one of those guys, super-popular Brandon, dies in a car wreck that was allegedly all Alice’s fault. Now the only friend she has is a boy who may be the only other person who knows the truth, but is too afraid to admit it. Told from the perspectives of popular girl Elaine, football star Josh, former outcast Kelsie, and shy genius Kurt, we see how everyone has a motive to bring – and keep – Alice down.
I found The Truth about Alice gave a very interesting point of view, because of the diverse cast of characters. I felt like the characters had a very journalistic and documentary feel  to them. The reveal of the manipulation of rumors and people presented both a realistic point of view. I slowly balanced my like and hatred of characters with the reveal of each aspect of the characters. I wish that some of them had a bit more dimension, because they approached it, but didn't quite accomplish it. Like Kelsie, for example, annoyed me so much, and I felt with her, but I didn't understand all of her motives. 
The plot was paced very well and I read it fairly quick. It addresses a lot of major issues within high school, such as bullying, slut-shaming, and among others. I found the multiple point of view created a great overview of what was happening It was a very short and fast read that I enjoyed. Most books usually focus on the victims of bullying and I found the switch of that to be original. The writing made a good passage of time and created a unique book. Overall, if you want a book that feels like a documentary that focuses on important issues and has a spark of  originality, I would recommend The Truth about Alice. I can't wait to see how her next book turns out.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fierce Reads Tour Stop in Seattle (& Giveaway)

The amazing people at Macmillan asked me to be the Designated Blogger for the Seattle Event of the Fierce Reads Tour. Before the event I was able to interview them, I am transcribing, so it will be a paraphrase of what Leigh Bardugo, Emmy Laybourne, Ava Dellaria, and Jennifer Mathieu said. 
I asked about their future projects.
Leigh talked about The Dregs, which was pitched as Oceans 11 meets Game of Thrones. It is based in the same world as her trilogy. The story takes place in Kerch, which is small, but very capitalistic island nation. The characters are from a slum and it follow their adventures.
Emmy talked about Sweet, which is about a B-List Celebrity cruise that launches a new sweetener. The plan is that they will come back from cruise a lot thinner. It begins as a funny experience that quickly changes to horrifying. She did hint at a romance within the story.
Ava talked about how Love Letters to the Dead was sold to Fox 2000 and and will be produced by Marty Bowen & Wyck Godfrey, who were the producers for The Fault in Our Stars. She is currently working on the Screenplay for it. While she isn't working on a book now, she would like to do so in the future.
Jennifer talked about her future book Devoted. It is written in 1st person and is based around Rachel who is in a very religious community  set in Texas that some people might call a cult. Rachel begins to explore the outside world.
Next, I asked how their unique structure, Point of View, and contribution to their genre helped them with their books and future projects:
Emmy's next project Sweet varies from her Monument 14 Trilogy. The next project that she would like to pitch is paranormal romance. She would like to have a very board range of books like Scott Westerfeld.
Jennifer talked about how writing in 3rd person gives a great perspective and she would love to write more in the future. She found Devoted's 1st person to be very fresh and fun to write. She would love to continue in the Contemporary Genre.
Ava said that there is an intrinsic value to the structure of the project, because each one should be about reaching out into the world and talking about the unsaid. As a result, it should be based on the project. She felt that an Epistolary approach worked well for  writing Love Letters to the Dead, but not every project will allow that approach.
Leigh created a steady hand of 3rd that allowed her to lead into what she wrote in 1st person. This  helped allow the story to have the flow into the rest of the story. She agreed with Ava that the structures come with the story. For example, the current draft of The Dregs has a multiple point of view that works for it, but that might not work for other work. She said that she will always have a supernatural element in her stories.
Lastly I asked what advice that they have for writers.
Ava thought that you should write what you love and let it be yours for a while. There is a moment that she feels like she doesn't need to share it and it is just the story and her. She also said protect your vision and create something that you want to come back.
Jennifer recommended to read constantly and notice the structure and technique that other writer use. Also don't be afraid to develop the voice from other books and writers.
Emmy said taking an improv class is good, because it teaches you to go with it, the basic structure of a story, and allows you to meet some new people and experience something new.
Leigh talked about how Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn made her story very dark and made it interesting.She thinks that you need to just finish your book and edit it. Also, don't compare your first draft to another person's final draft.
Overall it was a great experience and pleasure to be able to interview them. We talked more about writing and I left for the signing.
The signing had an amazing Q&A done by Mel of Novels, News, and Notes from your Northwest Neighbors and a bookseller at University Bookstore. The authors were all very funny and graceful speakers and I enjoyed it. I got all of my book signed and it was amazing.
Here I am with Emmy Laybourne.
 And Jennifer Mathieu... this is why why you should alway take two picture.
 Ava Dellaria and I.
 & Leigh Bardugo and I.

 Now it is time to talk about the giveaway. Macmillan has a copy of Ruin and Rising, Monument 14: Savage Drift, Love Letters to the Dead, and The Truth about Alice. It is US only, and just fill out the form below. For further pictures, visit University Bookstore's flickr.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Source: Netgally
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

In We Were Liars, E. Lockhart presents engaging character, a brilliant plot, and bare, but beautiful writing with a lot of originality and an enchanting setting. I adore this book, because of how brilliantly it was written. First off,  there is a huge cast of characters. Each one had something about them. Cadence or "Cady" is damaged by her accident and I found that part to be very interesting.  Mirren was a great balance of intelligent and girly. Johnny always made me laugh. Gat is mysterious and also Cady's love interest. I loved their interaction and dug into the book wanting more. The plot of this book is masterly crafted. Like I did not expect the ending and I think is what made it such an impact that I didn't guess what was happening. I haven't been surprised in a book in so long. This was also a fairly quick read for me. I found it addicting and didn't want to stop reading this book. E. Lockhart's writing is gorgeous in this book. I have enjoyed her previous books, but the writing in this book is spectacular and magical. I kept on re-reading parts, because the writing was so magical. This book had a lot of originality and I want more books this. Part of the appeal came from the setting and the Sinclair family. If I had the chance, I would join them for the summer. Overall, I adored this book. You need to read this book, if you adore contemporary novels, but want an original and enchanting one. Actually, just read this book as soon as possible and pass it on.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why We Really Need Diverse Books

Almost 4 years ago, I wrote a post on how I wanted to see books that had teens struggling with chronic illness. It is a part of my story and I obviously want to read more close to mine or different. I have taken the advice of some of the people and began to write these books.
I am just one of the many stories in the world. We each experience life in such a different way. We all have different childhoods. We each think about school in a different way. Some of use are Caucasian, African American, Asian, Hispanic, mixed-race, or a completely different one that I am missing. Some of us were born female or male and some have a different gender identity then what they were  born with or don't have one. There are also variances in sexual preferences and many more aspects of a person. These all matter, because people matter.
Since studying English in a formal university setting, I have learned that the cannon is created by the books that are written. We are able to see aspects of Greek culture, because of the Plays and Epics that they left behind. The same goes to Beowulf and many more pieces of work. They show us a piece of history. Hopefully we can leave the same for our ancestors, but like those Greek plays, many marginalized groups are being left out. I think that it is important to represent everyone well. If they are unable to do this, we are failing them, not as just readers, but also as writers. People need to be able to find ourselves and the people that we love in the pages of books. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Reflection on Reading and Coping

I have been open about the fact that I have been struggling with being sick, since before this blog was ever created. Part of the reason that I started this blog is that I needed not only an outlet talk to, but I had to transition from being whole to being cracked with an illness that was out of my control. Since I woke up in the most intense pain of my life, it has been over seven year and I can't remember what it was like to be pain free or healthy.
Reading helped me a lot, because I made decisions at sixteen that some people will never have to make. It made the darkness that cloaked me into a tiny ethereal aspect of my life. The reason that this post if being written is the If I Stay trailer came out and I can remember that time that I picked up that book. I was so afraid. I dropped out of high school in October 2008, because my migraines and pain were too much. Most of my body was stressed, which caused more pain to come. I was also starting the year long process of Physical Therapy to learn how to walk again.
I remember begging my mom to take me to Barnes and Noble to get Willow and If I Stay and both were not there. Luckily we went to the Liberty Bay Books and they had it. I devoured it in one sitting and Mia's pain took me away from the reality that I was facing. It allowed me to think about how I was isolating myself, because of the pain that I thought that I earned for not being a better person. Books have a power to bring me back to the moment of reading on the old fake leather couch that my mom gave away ages ago. I remember the tears as I turned the pages and how I slowly fell in love with Adam from Mia's point of view.
Now I don't think about the pain, but the words that I read and the places that they took me. Reading still helps me cope, even though the pain has become more of a dull reminder that I'm imperfect and I don't always feel as strong physically as I am mentally, but I am. This is just a long post to remind me that books stick with me and so that I can post the trailer.

Let me know what you think of the trailer in the comments, if you can type through the tears.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

AWP Day Two & Three

Day Two started at 9am for "Warning Extreme Content: Sex, Drugs, and Abuse as Themes in Young Adult Literature" with Ann Angel, Kekla Magoon and Carrie Jones. I honestly love Carrie as a human being. She is an amazing person, hence why I got there at 9 AM. Ann introduced the topic and how she had issue with publishing Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, because of some of the content. For example, she talked about how she incorporated Janis' album art, which include nudity. She wanted it as an illustration that once a photo is released into the world, you lose the capability to control who sees it. She also talked about how books become challenged and she wanted to do the panel. She then introduced Kekla Magoon.
Kekla talked about the social and individual abuses that are talked about in Young Adult Literature. She used quotes from "Darkness Too Visible" by Meghan Cox Gurdon to show how problematic uninformed censorship is toward the marginalized population. She talked about self mutilation, drug abuse like in Crank by Ellen Hopkins, rape in Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson a , and kidnapping and abuse in Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott are censored for the concern of gateway behavior and want to use their naivety to protect them. The thing is that these are issues that people need to face especially as teens. Kekla talked about the social abuse that Homophobia presents in YA. For example, LeslĂ©a Newman's October Mourning and Lauren Myracle's Shine addresses similar issues. The fictional account was actually banned more, because it caused empathy. It is really important that we examine these issues, because otherwise the people are issolated and we aren't able to understand it.
Carrie Jones talked about sex and how it was introduced to teens with Judy Blume, Norma Fox Mazer, Fanfiction, and romance novel. She also talked about V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic and how it was one of the novels that teen encountered. There were 1577 complaints of sexually explicit material. She mentioned Safelibraries and how by censoring material, we limit the people that have access to it. When if we respect teens, censorship shouldn't happen. Ann Angel talked about how nonfiction is held to the same standards as fiction. Overall, I found their presentation to be very good and I enjoyed it. I was able to talk to Carrie afterwards. Lyn Miller-Lachmann came up and saw my name, which she recognized. It was really awesome that happened, because I reviewed her book back in 2009.
The next panel that I tried to go to was "Magic and Intellect", which was full.  I decided to go outside my comfort zone and went to "War Stories:Truth, Fiction, and Conflict." It was really interesting that it is often trauma vs. glory in war. Also that people are more distanced from war and as a result, they are unaware of it. I decided to get coffee after this, because I was tired. I stopped by the Seattle University booth and one of the creative writing professor was there. I talked to her about MFA stress and she assured me that she would help, which was good. I stopped by the Vermont College for Fine Arts and got the literature since Carrie and Lyn mentioned that I should go there.
I decided to go to "In Your Next Letter I Wish You'd Say: Epistolary Impulse and Innovation", because I use letters in my fiction and decided that it would be cool to hear about it, since it has several things different with what I usually do.
The next panel, that I went to, was "What I Wish I'd Known before I Started Writing for Kid and Young Adults." It featured Heather Bouwman, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Sheila O'Connor, Shelley Tougas, and Rebecca Fjelland Davis. Kirstin came up and talked to me. She also signed my copy of Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. I actually livetweeted this one, so go to #f258 on Twitter, if you would like to read it. 
Then I went to another panel that I didn't enjoy, which annoyed me. I am writing why in the next  post. It wasn't the presenters, but someone in the audience.  I went to AWP with a Twist of YA, which was a drinks night with bloggers, authors, and booksellers. The bar had red walls and old furniture in a old hotel. Kevin Emerson tweeted me later with how it was right out of The Shining and I agree. I met this girl also named Sarah that goes to Vermont College for the Arts, and much of my evening was spent with them talking about how life changing it was for them. I got to talk to a lot of authors about writing, their projects, and life. I met Deb Caletti, which felt super surreal to me. Since I adore her books and all. It was just a very fun night that I enjoyed. 

Day Three:
The third day start with Sarah Mlynowski moderating "Never Grow Up: Building a Life in Children's and Young Adult Fiction with Adele Griffin, E. Lockhart, and Robin Wasserman. They talked about how they got started as writers, the sophomore slump, their fear of not being able to keep connected to YA/Children's, having crutches, or using cliches, ideal careers, literary agents, and review. Overall, it was a very critical and inspiring panel that showed that even what I consider to be secure and established authors have similar feelings that I have. It also felt like it was a conversation and not a panel, almost like you were invited to such intimate conversation about publishing. 
My university friend Chelsea was with me. We went and walked around the Book Fair. Then I went to "Pushing Boundaries in YA: Civil Disobedience, Violence, and War." It featured Ann Angel,  Zu Vincent,  Jessica Powers, and Lyn Miller-Lachmann. They said to go deeper in the historical, social, and cultural aspects of the story, because it helps the story be richer and more dimensional and realistic as a result. I went to "In Sickness and In Health: Writing about Illness and Loss for Young Adults." It featured Roberta Borger,  Megan Bostic,  Selene Castrovilla,  Jolene Perry, and Katherine Ayres. It was interesting, but I felt that it missed a critical part of illness, which is that the majority are chronic conditions. Most of their books talked about cancer. Megan is from around here and I have been following on Twitter for a while, so it was cool to meet her in person.
The next panel was "Crafting Heartbreak: Handling Grief Issues in Novels for Young Adults." It was in the same room, so that was convenient. The speakers were Joy Preble, Janet Fox, Rosanne Parry, and Denise Jaden. I loved Joy, Janet, and Denise's books and how they dealt with grief. It was a very realistic portrayal that showed grief in all of the aspects and in the entirety. Janet talked about the stages of grief and talked about books that related to the topic. Denise talked about the expressions of grief at different ages. She talked about how you can create conflict in the variance of their behaviors. Joy talked about hidden grief and how it serves a book. Lastly, Rosanne talked about death scenes. She talked about famous death scenes in famous children books and how some of them happen differently then she remembered. I experienced the same thing as she went over them and found it surprising that I didn't remember it. 



My last panel was "How Far Do You Go: Sex in YA Fiction". E. Lockhart moderated with Sarah Mlynowski, Robin Wasserman, and Adele Griffin. They all read from a piece of their fiction that had sex in it. Sarah and Robin talked about how they write around it. Sarah's writing is more sweet, while Robin talks about sexual assault and other aspects of sex. They also talked about how sex does not progress the plot, but a way to do it was talk about sexuality or consciousness.  They remarked that it is reason that some books become banned.  Sex can isolate the book by narrowing the audience, because school libraries and box stories won't carry it. They also talk about how a title can hurt the book. I found this to be really interesting panel and like before, it felt like a great panel and it was always funny and entertaining.
My experience at AWP was very inspiring. I was able to hear a lot about writing and I think that it will allow me to advance my craft. Overall, I would recommend AWP. It gave me a lot think about and showed that writers are just as anxious and worried as I am. I loved this experience. If you made it to the end, thanks. I know this is a rather long post.



 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

AWP 2014 Day One

Hey! It has been a while. I am still really busy with school, but I had an amazing day at AWP. First I went around and got information on MFA program in Creative Writing and/or Publishing. There are definitely a lot of schools that I want to go too, which makes the process even more difficult. So, if you are reading this and have a MFA, let me know where you went and if you would recommend it. 
Next I went to a panel on  Commercial Literary Fiction (Not an Oxymoron): The Place of Craft in Writing and Teaching Children's and Young Adult Literature. It had Micol Ostow moderating with Stephanie Kuehnert, Nova Ren Suma, Sara Zarr, and Laurel Snyder. It was a great panel on how being commercial doesn't mean that it is not Literary. That they like to push boundaries and challenge themselves into becoming better writers with each book. 
Here is Sara and I. 
Nova and I took amazing selfies together and this is the best one. 
After that I wandered around the bookfair more and collected more brochures. Then I went to a panel on  I’m Just Not That Into You: Unsympathetic Characters in Fiction. I found this panel to be very illuminating on character development and it presented a lot of great points.
Irina Reyn,  Hannah Tinti,  Lynne Sharon Schwartz,  Maud Newton, Erin Harris, Richard Nash, and Katie Crouch presented the panel. I found this whole thing to be very interesting. Next, I just hung around, since I was worried about the next panel filling up. I actually didn't enjoy the last panel. So, I am not even going to mention it. It honestly wasn't what I expected with the title and description. 
Next I went to the Seattle Public Library, because  E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Adele Griffin, and  Robin Wasserman were presenting their new and upcoming novels and also read from their juvenile attempts on fiction. It made me laugh so much and helped me not feel as embarrassed about the stories that I wrote when I was younger. They also talked about their journey into publication.Afterwards, I got books signed.
Here is Robin Wasserman and I.
Here is Sarah Mlynowski and I.
Here is E. Lockhart and I.
Here is Adele Griffin and I.
 I hope you enjoyed this recap of my Day One. I will try to make one for Day Two. Now I have to go write an essay for Ethics.


 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Five

Hey guys!
It has been a while. Sorry about that. I have been busy with school and life.
Anyways, here is my Friday Five.
1. I started a new quarter last Monday. I am enjoying it. I can't believe that I only have five quarter left till I am a college graduate. That feels insane to me.
2. I am doing Seattle U Dance Marathon. I probably won't be able to dance the whole time, but I am going to try. I am really excited about it.
3.  I am going to AWP Conference! It was significantly cheaper for students and located in Seattle. I am really excited about it. There are so many panels that I am excited for. It is also my first writing conference, so it seems daunting to me. Let me know if you are going.
4. I recently finished We Were Liars and pre-order it or read it now.
5. I am currently addicted to Lies by Chvrches.

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