Characters You Shouldn't Dress Up As For Halloween



Halloween is right around the corner, so get your pumpkins ready, and more importantly, your costumes! Some of you might be contemplating dressing up as a fictional character, which is cool and all, but you have to put in mind that some characters don't make for a handy costume. 

1. Jacob Black, 

While he will certainly be an eye turner, turning into a werewolf  might be uncomfortable for some. Plus, he's too high of a goal to live up to. Although, if you're worried about getting Jacob's fantastic figure, just stick a six bun pack to your abs. No one will even notice. 

2. Batman 

Spandex is a bitch. 

3. Kantiss Everdeen, 

Unless you have some really great archery skills, you might poke someone's eye with an arrow. Exceptions can be made if you're in some really bad company. 

4. Edward Cullen, 

Requires excessive amount of glitter. 

5. Jon Snow, 

Under no circumstances should you go as Jon Snow. Unless, of course, you know nothing. 


Who are you dressing up as this Halloween? Let me know! 

How To Stop Procrastinating (NaNoWriMo)



      Judging by my Blogging Tips From  A Newbie To A Newbie, you guys might have figured out that I like giving advice about things I know zilch about. Today's post is no exception. So, I've been hearing a lot of talk about fellow bloggers starting NaNoWriMo next month, and I couldn't be more excited for you guys, so I decided to make a post about it.. 

Even though I'm not participating. 

For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, where writers from all over the world gather to participate in a 30-day writing challenge in order to finish their book (or 50K words). It's pretty awesome, and having people around you with the same goal will certainly motivate you, but we all know procrastination might be your enemy. 

Well, I'm here to help. I don't have  that much (if any) knowledge about writing, but I sure as hell know about procrastination. Here are some of the thoughts that might stop you from finishing your masterpiece of a novel: 

1. Your mind is tired today. Wait until next morning when it's fresh. 

That's absolute bullshit. Some of the best posts and pages I've written were done when my brain was tired. Even though it's not 100% proven correct, here's an article that suggests a tired brain is more creative. 

2. You just don't feel inspired, and if you write now, it will probably suck. 

Wrong. Again, there's no way to tell if you are inspired unless you really start writing. And yes, sometimes while writing, you'll realize this is not your best, but you can always come back and fix things later. The important thing is having something to fix in the first place. Go write, son. 

3. You just had a better idea of a book. Time to switch over! 

Holaholaholahold UP! Think things through. Do you really want to start from scratch? I mean, don't get me wrong, I've rewritten and reversed my book several times, and it turned out for the best, but there is always a chance that this is the defeated part of your mind speaking.  If the reason you're contemplating abandoning a book is because you've reached a dead end, I'd suggest maybe writing something else related to your original story. A scene from another POV. A background story. A character sketch. A scene somewhere farther in the story. Or a dialogue between two characters who are never meant to meet each other. 

Go nuts. 

If it all doesn't work, and you're convinced that this idea you have is better, go for it. 

4. What's the point of writing anyway? It'll never get published. 

50 Shades of Grey is a New York Times bestseller. Anything can happen. 

Also, try sending pieces of your finished MS to friends and family. One you get the feedback, you'll realize this is not just about getting published. Just the idea of someone getting into that piece of your mind, and reading the book is enough. 

Have faith in your book. 

5. I have no dancing penguins to entertain me. 

Get dancing penguins to entertain you. 

And for some tips to help you finish your novel within a month: 

1. Use distractions to your advantage. 

And trust me, there will be distractions. Like a movie you want to see or a book or whatever else it is. Solution: set a word goal you have to finish before returning back to such distractions. 

2. Disable the internet. 

Dear struggling author: Internet is not your friend. Get rid of the vermin. 

There are extensions for Chrome such as Stay Focused that can block certain sites for a certain amount of time. 

3. Get Scrivener. 

Aliaa @Madmoseille Le Sphinx first recommended this writing software for me, and good God, it's helpful! It's made for novelists. It will understand your needs. 

The best feature about it is the word target, in which you set a certain number of words you need to finish every session. If you're doing NaNoWriMo, and intend to finish the preset goal of 50K,  that leaves you with 1,600 per day.  It's a piece of cake, once you get used to it. 

4. Reward Your Self. 

Every time you finish 10K, buy a book. Or food. Food is good. 

5. Be Awesome.

You probably already know how to do that. 

Graffiti Moon Restored My Faith In Contemporary




     This book came so close to being an all time favourite, which is weird because a) I hate contemporaries with a passion and b) only  a handful of books sit on my ATF shelf (actually, they're two). But I would have gladly handed a five star, gushing review, had it not been for the ending. 

You see, this books is me. It has me written all over it, and it's the kind of book that a certain type of people will obsessivly relate to. Even though Lucy, the MC and I are so different, I could see part of myself in her that rarely any book can portray well. 

Lucy is a dreamer. She falls in love with ideas, not people, and she'd escape any touch of reality in a heart beat. Only difference is that this book shows you that both dreams and reality can be sort of mixed together. The book starts out with Lucy looking after the artist by the name of Shadow, one who paints creative graffiti on walls. As any person with a mind like that of Lucy's, she made up an entire character and personality to go with this artist she'd never met. And just like in real life, that idea she has couldn't be more wrong. 

Except this time, the author does it beautifully. 

Enter: Edd. Gosh, I don't want to fangirl. I really won't, but let me just quote Lucy here (this is NOT a spoiler by the way. It's revealed in the second chapter): 

An artist who paints things like that is someone I could fall. Really fall for

Back to the I-Hate-Contemporaries shenanigin. Let's see.. we've already established that I hate them. Then why did I pick up this book? Basically, I wanted to read this book as a sort of art practice. I'd promised myself I'd draw every graffiti piece mentioned, and naturally.. I ended up doing only one.. 

There's one of  Shadow's pieces, a painting on a crumbling wall of a heart cracked by an earthquake with the words: Beyond The Richter Scale written underneath. It's not a heart like you see on a Valentine's Day card. It's the heart how it really is: fine veins and atriums and arteries. A fist-size forest in our chest. 

With all it's beauty and fun and humor (emphasis on humor), I deducted a star because of the ending. It fell flat and anti climactic for me. In my opinion, it could have been done better. Still though, if you are a non-believer in contemporaries like myself, read this book. Worse case scenario: you'll find it a fun, joyous ride. Best case scenario: You'll fall in love with the words and the descriptions of art. 

Final Words: Aussie authors are wizards in disguise. They're too good to be true. 

Does The Author's Gender Matter?




I have been coming across some really great articles about diversity of characters and settings in YA novels, and while that is a topic I can personally never tire of writing or reading about, I want to address a different element:

Diversity of writers. 

Now, it goes without saying that the biggest demographic YA is aimed towards is female readers, and even more so, most YA authors are female. Which is great! There was a period of time when women weren't even allowed to publish books with their names. We've come a long way, no doubt about it, and this post will be anything but complaining about the number of female authors out there. 

So were am I going with this? 

If you didn't come across it on Twitter, there was news about contemporary writer Nicholas Sparks. Here's the full post, but for lazy reasons, I'll go straight to the meaty part: 

I stood at the mic and asked Nicholas Sparks, who writes about relationships, the following: “I noticed that when female writers write about relationships or an emotional journey, no matter how deep and well-written it is, it’s usually described as chick lit. Have your books ever been described as chick lit? And how do you think the response to your books or your career would have been different if your name had been Nicole Sparks instead of Nicholas Sparks?”

 To which the authors replied, 

No. My books have never been described as chick lit.”
Sparks didn't directly answer my next question about whether his books would have been received differently if he had been a woman. Rather, his response was essentially this: “for some reason, all the writers in my genre—“love tragedy”—happen to be men” and “for some reason, women just haven’t been able to successfully break into the market.”

Now, for an author to make such a statement, to alienate himself from the rest of an already overflowing genre, he needs to have originality. 

I can wholeheartedly say that Nicholas Sparks lacks exactly that. I won't deny, his books were the reason I started reading. I devoured them one after the other, until the day I looked at my shelf and realized I couldn't tell them apart. His female characters are all a carbon copy of one another, and none of them had the least bit of characterization, to the point where it almost gets offensive to the gender. 

But let's take a more general look at his words. Mr. Sparks says that "for some reason" women haven't been able to successfully break into the market, which brings me back to my original question: 

Does gender matter?

Imagine Nicholas Sparks saying, "for some reason, blue eyed writers aren't able to break into the market". Sounds trivial, doesn't it? Then why isn't gender just as trivial? Why did the generalization of Spark's comment have to go down that route? 

Even though he did it in the worst, most offensive way possible, he pointed out something I've been meaning to address for a while now. Authors' gender matters because publishing companies think so. The way I see it, publishing companies have these "packages" that they hand out  with each book according to the gender of the writer.

John Green wrote a cancer book? File it under Contemporary Drama, give it a somewhat gender neutral cover. 

But wait.. Jenny Downham also wrote a cancer book? Naah, file it under Chick Lit. It's obviously written by a woman for women. 

It's things like these that convince writers like Sparks that his books are "love tragedies" (wtf is love tragedy anyway?!), while the rest are just normal contemporaries. You might have come across this post about Maureen Johnson and how different book covers would have been if the author's gender was flipped. 

But you know what? It's almost impossible to discuss flipped covers and chick-lit without it sounding like reverse-sexism. For what it's worth, let me clear it up: having a book labeled under "chick-lit" is not an insult. Imagining an alternate, more boyish (or gender neutral) cover for a book doesn't mean the original, "girly", one is bad. What is  an insult is that such things exist. 

I hate the term chick lit (or women's fiction) with a passion because it creates an exclusive club for what is considered women's interests: romance novels, and "love tragedies". I hate it because some big shot publishers decided that this is our thing, and the opposite gender would probably have no interest in it. I hate it as much as I hate the notion that all men should  love sports, and all women should  love shopping and make up. 

I hate it as much as those "what women want?" articles. Oh, it's a hard question you say? Your brain can't figure out what it is women want? Well, maybe if you start treating them as separate individuals, each with a functioning brain and insanely diverse interests, instead of a herd of sheep... maybe then you'll figure out what that one woman wants. 

And for everything's sake, just try to imagine that gender isn't all that defines us. 

Here's another great example for gender bias in publishing

Let's Recap, Shall We?!



Blog wise, this week has been quite uneventful. Matter of fact, my blog has been somewhat dead for the past few days, because I've been so busy with the hoopla of writing. 

First of all, I want to thank my beta readers (Shannelle, Lesley, Lillian, and Nevey,Eve, Meg and anyone who commented on "I Have News"..I'm looking at you!). That's a big part of what's been keeping me busy this week. You see, I'm rewriting my book from scratch. The plot and story line are the same, but when I went over the older chapters, I was unsatisfied with the way they were written, so here I am, rewriting. It's quite stressful, but fun nonetheless!

As to the traditional vs. self publishing, I think I've made a decision: As soon as the book is finished, I'm going to self publish it. I'll still query agents and small presses, but I think self publishing is more fun, and it'll give me more control. It's what I've always wanted anyway.

On I Read & Tell: 

This Week's featured blog: N-Writings. 
A series of 100 characters short stories/musings. How awesome is that?! Go check out my favourite one.

Around The Blogosphere: 
I'm having a really hard time collecting all the posts I commented on this week, so gimme a headsup if yours wasn't included!

Till next week ;) 

Conversation With An Imaginary Publisher



   Look, look. Before you say anything: I'm bored. Plus, I have a shit ton of questions I'd like to ask a publisher. The questions are present, but the publisher... not so much. So I made one up, like normal people do. And you know what? I stand by my decision.

Until, of course, I realize I want to get published one day. 

 Anyway, I don't like to keep my imaginary friends waiting, so here I go:

Me: So, Mr. Publisher-

P: Please, call me Mr. Big Shots. 

Me: Big shots? Seriously?

P: *puts on shades* Most certainly. 

Me: Aiight, big shots. Now first thing first.. you know some of the things that publishers do can frustrate us readers, right? 

P: I don't know what you're talking about.

Me:  Oh really? How about publication dates, Mr. Big Shots? Huh? How about that? Why do you raise our hopes for a close publication date, and then BAM push it backwards? 

P: I can promise you we don't do that for entertainment. We do it for... *dramatic pause*... energy. 

Me: huh?

P: Of course! The cries of readers all around the globe as they realize the date has been pushed back is what fuels our printing machines. Source of renewable energy, and what not, you know? 

Me: Well.. I guess that makes sense... hmm.. OH, OK! What about the pretty covers with the terrible content? That is an act of deception, Mr. Big Shot.

P: Is it really?

Me: Yaha!!

P: *straightens back* Na..ha. Look at this way, Ms.Blogger: You're bound to come across bad books one point or another in your life.. you might as well be compensated with a pretty cover. 

Me: Oh.. well, that also makes sense. Wow, you're good.

P: Ready to announce your defeat?

Me: Yeah, I gu-- NO WAIT!! What do you have to say about all the twilight replicas out there? Wasn't one enough?

P: Well, that's a tough one. 

Me: You bet it is. 

P: Ummmm.. well... no wait, I got it. They *pulls out sunglasses* make *opens sunglasses* money *puts on sunglasses*.

Me: Damn!

Well, this one ends 3 for Mr. Big Shot, and 0 for me. It's not over though! I need your help to bring that asshole down. What are some questions you'd like to ask a publisher?  

Review: I Hunt Killers (& Why I Don't Like Crime Fiction).




I thought I'd try doing something a little different this time. Thing is, I'm not very good at promoting books, especially if it's a book I liked. My review end up being a mess of gushing and incoherent words. 

So today, I'll flip things. I liked I Hunt Killers, even though crime fiction is one of those genres I loathe, so in order to get my point across, I'll show you why this book is different, and why I hate crime fiction:

It's usually gory. 

I'm not a person who minds gore, yet crime novels usually break that high standard of mine. Many of the books I read were cringe-worthy, and downright sick.

I Hunt Killers is not. In an interview with Libba Bray, Barry Lyga even says that he doesn't consider to be anywhere near goriness. Many of his beta readers said otherwise, but I agree with him on this. Don't get me wrong, this book doesn't sugarcoat things. There are crime scenes, and there are explicit descriptions, but none of them made me uncomfortable.

It's too dark; characters feel detached or unlikeable. 

This happens with most of the Crime fiction I read. Either the characters were straight up dull, of they were just unlikeable.

Jasper Dent is neither. He has a strong inner struggle, and I was interested in how that will turn out. He was three dimensional; and he had a strong, likeable personality. Everything he did was explained. For example, he acknoweges the fact that he is handsome, and both attracts and can charm women. This is not smugness though. He attributes this fact to him being the famous son of a serial killer. Women are attracted to him because of the mystery that surrounds him, and guys are scared of him because his father could hide their bodies of the surface of earth.

Jasper Dent is no fool, ladies. He's smart.

As to the dark element, yes, the book is dark, but sidekicks like Howie and Connie help settle the equation. Whenever a laugh was in order, Howie was more than happy to report for duty. Connie, Jazz's girlfriend, has got to be one of my favourite love interests ever. She wasn't pushy, she gave Jazz his space, and she was an all around awesome person.

It's predictable,

It's safe to say that this doesn't apply to all mystery/crime fiction. After all, the point is to not be predictable, but even when the villain is exposed, it's anticlimactic. There were no clues or foreshadowing.

And yup, you guessed it, I Hunt Killers comes off of this one too. It does what all good mystery books/movies do, gives you a plethora of suspects, and throws your attention everywhere. The ending was quite satisfying, and while there was a cliffhanger, I felt like most things were closed up.

Final words: This book is equal parts entertaining, dark, and funny. Also, Barry Lyga scares me. No man should have that much information about serial killers or methods of body disposal. I'm almost convinced he doesn't exist, and his name is an acronym of Libba Bray.

Their secret is out.