Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A NaNoWriMo Reflection

I wrote this last night, after my post-NaNoWriMo happy dance:

I never want to forget this feeling. I am exuberant, brimming with unbridled happiness! I feel such accomplishment and pride! 50,000 words in one month may be an easy task for some. For me, it was a struggle. There were days when I hated every word that I typed. Then there were the wonderful days where I swore I was writing pure gold. I wouldn’t trade those insane, contradicting feelings for anything. The reason this was so incredible was because of the challenge. NaNoWriMo pushed me in a way that I could never do for myself. It forced me to write when I didn’t want to and cheered me on when I was feeling particularly creative. NaNoWriMo made a writer out of me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Now that the day of incredible, fantastic, bordering-on-insanity joy has passed, I feel more able to genuinely reflect on the entire month. My feelings on the matter haven’t drastically changed, but they have been shed a in new light. In fact, I have even developed a mental list. I probably should have been paying attention in class, but this seems substantially more important!

1.      I am no longer ashamed to admit to people that I’m writing a novel. I use to be very secretive about my plans. Careful to reveal it to only a few select people that I knew would respect and appreciate the journey. Writing has helped me to embrace the inner nerd and admit to people that yes, I am working on a novel.
2.      Before NaNoWriMo, I talked about writing A LOT more than I actually wrote. In fact, before November, all I had done was create an overly extensive outline and suffer through a horrendous false start. To be a writer, you have to actually write. I understand that now.
3.      I learned much more about myself than I thought I would. I had always heard people say that in every character we write, we place a bit of ourselves. I did not believe this at all. Sure, I supposed that we may have a few things in common with our main characters, but that was it! That notion could not have been more wrong. Every character is a little part of me. I suppose this makes sense, after all they were born in my imagination. Whether it is an irrational fear of gaudy jewelry or a never ending hope to travel the world, I am able to see things that I never thought I would. Writing is a very introspective process, almost on a therapeutic level.
4.      I like to write in the dark. I’m not entirely sure why. Whenever I was having a particularly hard day with my words, I crawled into my basement and turned out all of the lights. With only a single candle illuminating the room, I was able to find inspiration. I’m not sure why, but there’s something soothing about darkness. Perhaps it’s the strange, invigorating fear that something could simply be standing, staring, waiting in the darkness and you would have no inclination of it.
5.      NaNoWriMo taught me discipline. Without this learned skill, I know there would be no way that I would ever finish this novel. I guess that’s why most of the other things I’ve written have been left unfinished.
6.      A few months ago I went to the book signing of Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The two discussed their book and writing with all of us for a good hour or so. One of the things that Margi told us was that writing was like a natural high. I now know exactly what she means. When I’m writing, I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into the story. It was difficult to pull myself out. It’s completely true, the act of writing is a drug.
7.      I need grammar lessons desperately.
8.      My characters never fail to surprise me. At first I tried to follow the outline as strictly as I could. However, it was just too difficult. I have to let my characters lead me to where they need to go. It’s them that tell me when to move on, not a dry outline.  
9.      Finally, my last thought on the matter. NaNoWriMo taught me how to be a writer. When I first started, I thought that it would be simple. It’s only 1667 words a day. For me, that was easier said than done. However, along the way I fell in love with characters and got lost in the world that I created. As incredible as that is, writing 50,000 words in one month was excruciatingly difficult. I can’t possibly say it as well as George Orwell did: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

So that was my first NaNoWriMo experience. November 2010 will go down as one of the best months of my life. Now it’s time to keep writing and carry on the drive that NaNoWriMo has given me! Thanks to all of those who supported me through the process and congrats to those who won as well!  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo and Leah Clifford

NaNoWrimo has been slowly killing me. I'm now at the halfway point, but still a day behind. Why did I think this would be fun? Although I'm sure I'll have a different opinion in a few weeks, but right now I'm struggling through the trenches of my first novel. I'll share more horror stories when I have time.

Feel free to follow me through the NaNo journey here:

However, I would like to mention a contest that Leah Clifford is currently holding. She's giving away an advanced copy of her debut novel, A Touch Mortal. How cool is that?! The contest allows for us to suggest names for a character to be used in book 2 as well as a personal mention in the comments section! That's just unreal. If I win, I will be on cloud nine! My friends will get random phone calls that consist of me screaming exuberantly. Leah, I think you should choose me just to put my friends through this traumatic experience! Anyway, go check it out! It's definitely the best contest I've seen!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lack of Time and Contests

This blog is subject to the cruel punishment of time. With only 24 hours in a day, my life has been a bit hectic. Ultimately, I'm often forced to choose blogging, reading, and writing my WIP. My blogging has naturally been receiving less attention. Although I don't have much to report now, I know I soon will. Between my shitty first drafts, how I'm juggling life and writing, and my overwhelming thoughts on the current nuances in YA lit, I have a lot planned. So, until then. I give you a plethora of contests: 

  • The Undercover Book Lover blog is having an epic contest full of multiple prize packs. You can win everything from an arc of Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton to Vesper by Jeff Sampson. Good luck to everyone!
  • Courtney Allison Moulton, the author of Angelfire, is hosting a halloween-themed contest on her blog. She's giving away signed arcs, official bookmarks, vampire nutcrackers, gargoyle statuettes, and even glow-in-the-dark bats. Who knew Halloween was the biggest month for paranormal fantasy writers?
  • Becca Fitzpatrick, the author the Hush, Hush series, is celebrating the debut of the new trailer for Crescendo by hosting a contest to win a copy of Crescendo! To enter, all you have to do is post the trailer on your blog, facebook page, whatever. So, here is my entry!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Censorship: In Defense of Twenty Boy Summer

The YA Literature community has recently been abuzz about a very touchy subject. Censorship. In case you don't know what it censorship is, let me briefly explain it to you. Censorship occurs when a book gets banned. It is often take out of libraries, school districts, etcetera. When a large group of people feel the book is "without worth" they can choose to extract it from curriculum or library circulation.

The case that most recently occurred has taken place in my own state of Missouri. Two school districts in the Ozarks have banned or have begun to ban books. The three books being banned are Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut, and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler.  The claimed issue with said books is that they, "glorify pre-marital sex" and "could be classified as soft pornography." The instigators of the book banning claim Speak is inappropriate because of a graphic rape scene. They contest Twenty Boy Summer due to its teenage party scenes and mention of condoms and safe-sex. The banning of Twenty Boy Summer, a fairly recent YA novel, especially infuriates me. In case you haven't noticed, school districts seldom incorporate contemporary YA into their curriculum. I believe if my school had me reading The Hunger Games alongside a novel such as Animal Farm, I would have a different, deeper understanding of the point that both books share. I'm not criticizing classic literature, however there is only so much of it that teens can take. When a book such as Twenty Boy Summer makes it's way onto a school recommended reading list, the curriculum is headed in the right direction. The fact that it is being banned is a sad step backwards. The absurd reason for it's proposed banning is truly disgusting. Whether Twenty Boy Summer does or does not glorify pre-marital/teenage sex is ones opinion. However, this is not a new theme. I'm curious if the ones that proposed this ban would be okay with Romeo and Juliet in the curriculum.  What about The Odyssey and A Midsummer's Night Dream? All of those books, books I've read for my high school classes, have a decent amount of pre-marital sex in them. If your still not convinced, why don't you turn on a television right now. With a few clicks, I'm sure you could find something that glorifies pre-marital sex rather quickly. And, chances are, your teen is watching it. One way or another, wouldn't you rather have your child reading a book instead of staring at a screen?

The bottom line of all of this is that censorship is wrong. Yes, it is that simplistic. Someone should never have the ability to take away your voice; and that is what censorship does. It snatches away an individuals opinions and replaces them with a path of safe conformity. I'm having trouble seeing how censorship is any different than setting the book on fire. Granted, I'd never actually want to see that happen, but you get my point.I encourage everyone to speak loudly against censorship. Please share your thoughts, and don't ever let anyone stop you. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Plotting (Your Life and Your Story)

Today I’d like to talk to you on the subject of plans. Actually, in my case, the lack of plans. Anyone who truly knows me would be able to tell you in a heartbeat that I’m hyper-organized, controlling, paranoid, and many more things that are less than flattering. However, I have to admit, they are all true. My work in progress is obsessively outlined, each day is rigorously scheduled, and I often consider my life to be completely planned out. Recently I have been rethinking my insane choices. But today, I make an oath out of reverence for the present.

Just as rules are made to be broken, plans are made to be changed. I often forget that I’ve only walked this earth for a mere 16 years. Every teenager thinks they know it all. We are a unique breed in that we are stuck in an awkward combination of childlike innocence and adult like arrogance. Maybe that’s why Contemporary YA is so fun to write. No teenager handles things exactly the same way. Teenagers as a culture are constantly changing. But, one thing remains true, instead planning for our future, we need to plan to be surprised. I’m not saying to ignore college, grow a beard, buy a van, and go sell tee-shirts down by the beach. However, in this high pressure society we need to be open to all possibilities. This goes for everyone, not just teenagers. There’s no need to force yourself down a certain road.

This can be applied in so many different ways. For a literary example, I left the ending of my WIP unplanned. I know where I’m going, but I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen when I get there. Deviate from the outline. I recently wrote in two characters that I had no idea were going to exist in my novel. They are now intertwined with the plot and better the story. They were entirely unexpected and fit perfectly. I respect those that don’t outline their novel at all. Following ones intuition is essential for all writers; although the degree can vary. Novels are constantly re-written. No one ever gets it on the first try. So explore your options. I know I need to explore mine. A lot. 

So this may not have been the most coherent thing in the world, but it’s been on my mind the past few weeks. Let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Top 5 Badasses and Lessons from their Badass-ness

Let’s face it; we all love a good badass. They make us smile, make us cringe, and make our jaws drop. The perfect badass may appear to be simplistic, but the truth is they’re more complex than they show. You just have to peel away the layers from their snarky exterior.

The stereotypical badass will generally make their appearance as either the main hero of the story or one of the supporting heroes. Granted, this is a stereotype. And in this post, I’m throwing every stereotypical badass description out the window. You may think a “badass” is the dude in the leather jacket that hangs out in all the coolest bars, gets in fist fights, rides a Harley, and always has stories about his sexual escapades from the night before. That’s not how I see it. I have a different idea of a badass. I’m going to share with you the people that I think are true badasses and what we can learn from them.

5. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins)
Katniss Everdeen, a seventeen-year-old hunter, is randomly chosen to compete in the annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a mandatory tournament that calls twenty four teens to fight for the death in front of the entire world. When Katniss makes a mockery of the Capitol, the tyrannical government that rules the Districts, she becomes the symbol for rebellion. My favorite thing about Katniss is her lack of arrogance. In the world of modern heroes, many world-savers have enormous egos and blinding power trips. Katniss feels so much more real. It even takes her two books for her just to acknowledge that she is a powerful figure. Although things don’t always go her way, she handles herself with the perfect combination of humility and prowess. Her sharp, silent skill is shown in both her fight ability and her composure. This “deadly humility” makes Katniss one of the most interesting badasses ever written.

4. Han Solo (Star Wars Trilogy Episodes 4-6)
                Han solo, the captain of the Millennium Falcon and a general of the Rebellion against the Empire, aids Luke Skywalker in destroying the Death Star and defeating the Sith. He’s a bounty hunter that acts as if he only cares about money, but, through intense character development, he becomes attached to his employers. Traveling the galaxy with Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and everyone’s favorite droids, Solo takes out his fare share of Empire scum. However, his handy pistol and quick thinking are not what classifies him as a badass. What we have to learn from Han is that we must not fight fate. We must not run from our destiny. If we are naturally drawn in a direction, we must listen to our instinct. Han Solo came back for Luke; came back to destroy the Death Star. Han Solo gave everything he had to help his friends and, ultimately, do what he knew was right. Whether he was exploding tie fighters or getting frozen in carbonite, Han Solo gives himself completely to his task. Through the journey he takes in the movie, he greatly matured. Of course, we can’t pass up Han Solo’s hilarious one-liners and sarcastic personality.

3. Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy/the Hobbit by J.R Tolkien)
                Even if you haven’t read the series or seen the movies, surely you’ve heard about the wizard dressed in white that looks like Dumbledore. He’s a mentor to Frodo Baggins and a force to be reckoned with.. And I believe Gandalf embodies one of the most interesting, not commonly seen features of the badass. He is willing to sacrifice everything. He is the essence of dedicated. Along with mystery and sheer power, Gandalf will do whatever he needs to do in order accomplish the task at hand. Of course, this task is destroying the ring of power. This, in turn, means protecting Frodo at all costs. One defining moment comes to mind when I think of Gandalf. I recall an iconic scene from The Fellowship of the Ring. With Orcs in pursuit, the Fellowship is attempting to flee a cave in which they’ve passed through. A Balrog, or fire-wielding demonic creature, emerges from lava below and puts the fellowship in jeopardy. Gandalf knows the power of the creature and knows he must stop it. “You shall not pass!” Gandalf screams at the creature as he ushers off the Fellowship. He conquers the beast, but falls into the shadows with it. This sacrifice is incredible, and, to me, makes Gandalf one of the most incredible badasses ever. It is undeniable that Gandalf has incredible style.

2. Fire (Fire by Kristin Cashore)
                Fire, a teenage girl that has the unique ability to influence the minds of those around her, is summoned to help the royal family defeat rebel lords that threaten the lands. Her unique ability is due to the fact that she is half human, half monster. Her father, a manipulating advisor to the previous king, has taught her everything she knows about mind control. Apart from her gift, she is also a talented archer. She can easily take care of herself. What I love about Fire is the raw emotion she exhibits throughout the novel. She’s being pulled in so many different directions that it’s hard for her to think straight. She’s such a strong character with so much internal struggle. That’s what makes her such a badass. She fights (physically and emotionally) with emotion constantly pouring out. It’s as if she is fighting a war within herself. Her physical strengths and emotional weaknesses make her a well rounded character that fascinates you at every turn.

1. Toph Bei Fong (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
 Earlier in this post, I mentioned that I was destroying every stereotypical description of a badass. If you haven’t found that true yet, I imagine you will now. Toph is a 12-year old blind girl that has the ability to control rocks, ground, and metal. She’s known as an earth bender. Her mission is to help the avatar, a messianic figure that has the ability to control water, earth, air, and fire, and defeat the ruthless fire nation. As a child, Toph’s parents greatly underestimated her. They were overprotective and never let her leave the house. This damaged personal life lead Toph to grow up always wanting more. Her parents saw her blindness as a disadvantage. However, it allowed her to become one of the most powerful earth benders of all time. Beating ten badies at once, this inconspicuous little girl packs a punch. There’s much to learn from Toph. Although she’s a hilarious, snarky powerhouse, Toph often deals with the guilt of leaving her parents and the pressure of having to help save the world. She isn’t what you’d normally call a badass. She can save the world, make you crack up, and keep your attention, so why shouldn’t we call her a badass? With such expertise and prowess, Toph, weaknesses and all, is one of the greatest badasses of all time. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Teen Enigma

As a high schooler, I've read many things that I truly had no desire to read. From textbooks to newspaper articles to ancient non-fictions, assigned readings have always been a bore to me. Everyone seems to believe it's such a mystery as to why the majority of teens don't read. Although more and more teen readers are sprouting up everyday, mostly girls to my understanding, the vast majority of teens are not avid readers. I happen to go to an all-boys high school, so I'm taking this perfect opportunity to share a little of my insight. A lot of teens, especially boys, don't grow up reading. They simply aren't hooked when they're young. As they grow up, they're assigned horrendous books full of boring grown-ups and unrelatable scenarios. It feels like we grow up predestined to hate reading. I did. I loathed it. A year ago, I could hardly stand to look at a book. Let me tell you my little story.

About a year ago I was having a hard time with my personal life. I guess one could mark it off as "teenage angst" but I was really unhappy with myself (for a ton of reasons that were just SO important that I've forgotten them a year later). My mother and I were in Barnes and Noble to get a book for her book club. If I remember correctly, I was forced to tag along. I was wandering around the store when I found myself in the YA section. Scanning the vast array of book covers, I stumbled upon a book called Thirteen Reasons Why. If you haven't heard of the book, Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, is a gripping YA Novel telling the story of a girl who killed herself. My wanna-be-emo self bought the book out of mere curiosity. I ended up reading the amazing book in one sitting. My captivation of reading and passion for Young Adult Literature took off from there. If I told my year-ago self that I would be writing a novel at this point, I simply wouldn't believe it. 

I consider myself lucky that I discovered my love for reading. Yet there are still many teens that hate the idea of opening a book for joy. Teens associate reading with mind-numbing tests, boring characters, and bad history lessons. My school has assigned summer reading books. Assigned books for us students to read over the summer and then be tested on when we return. They're supposed to relate to lessons we'll be learning in class once school resumes. Reading over precious summer vacation is one of the reasons some teens hate reading. This is especially true if the books are not what the student wants to read. I've personally been assigned two historical novels that I have very little desire to read. I'd much rather crack open something like Linger by Maggie Stiefvater or the highly anticipated Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. These historical novels may be riveting to one reader, yet dreadfully boring to another. In a perfect world, teens should be able to choose what they get to read. More realistically, teens should receive a variety of book choices in the education system. Our minds have infinite potential, we just need a little push in the right direction. We're powerful beings, us teenagers. We have a whole section of literature geared toward us for crying out loud! Yet still, a vast amount of young adults disregard books as a whole. It irks me to see it everyday. Hopefully, in the future things may change and the next generation will be full of book lovers!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Updates and Contest (Not Mine, but Still Awesome)

I'm not dead...yet (and don't take that as a challenge). I just have been very busy with life, as many of us are. I am planning many new posts in the near future. Believe me, my gears have been turning. In fact, I'm going to New York in a few days and am confident I will find a ton of inspiration!

Until then, I leave you with news about a contest. An awesome one at that. It's hosted by one of my favorite people, Courtney Allison Moulton. She's giving away an ARC of her debut YA novel Angelfire. I expect it to be an amazing, epic book and I can't wait to read it. So check it out!

Monday, May 31, 2010

A Date with the Bad Girl: the Anti-Heroes Story

The splendor of the bad girl is is something that seduces our very core.  She's not like us.  She doesn't act like us.  She doesn't even look like us.  She is a monster in deep, uncharted waters.  So naturally, we must have her. Whether she's a singing siren, dressed in black leather with a whip, or is flying down the freeway in a souped up Camaro, she is an undeniably interesting creature.

Recently, as I've been working on plot and character formation, I've been toying around with the persona of an anti-hero.  The anti-hero is not an antagonist, yet is not a protagonist.  The Dark Knights of the world. They may have villain tendencies, but not villain motives.  They are truly complicated creatures.  Which is perhaps why they are so loved by an audience.  They have gusto, moxie, and are grade A badasses.  They are, in essence, the bad girl.  She's not going to kill you, she's just going to shake you up a bit.

But can the anti-hero be the love interest of a story?  Can the anti-hero aid the main character as they take on their journey?  Or should they just pop in for a cameo now and then?  Well the best part is, the anti-heroes are the center of their own story.  Granted, this is true for every character.  But the anti-hero takes it to a new level by being completely free to explore all aspects of morality (or lack there of).  I think that the answer to all of these questions is "Yes!"  In fact, I think the answer to any question about what an anti-hero can do is "Yes!"  They're so versatile its incredible.  She can be the damsel in distress or the one who tied the damsel in distress to those awful railroad tracks.  Now maybe I'm using the term anti-hero to loosely.  No, if they're constantly the damsel in distress they are probably not the anti-hero; or if they're always hopping from town to town trying to get trains to run over people, then they're probably just a sadist.  But it's the beautiful middle ground that makes up the anti-hero.  She may not be afraid to rough someone up or take lives.  She may manipulate anyone she can to follow her goals.  Or she may just like to cause utter mayhem.  Whatever the case, she plays be her own rules.  That's what makes the anti-hero so enticing.

So as I explore the anti-heroic world and attempt to write the character, I can't help but reflect on some of the worlds greatest anti-heroes.  My personal influence is Batman.  A caped crusader who gets the job done any way he can.  He's not afraid to (literally) bash some skulls.  He walks in and out of dark alleyways at night looking for trouble.  With every step he takes he's feeding his dark side.  He's helping Gotham, but he's also getting a thrill from it. But he's a super hero right?  Yes.  But look at him, really look close.  If he's anything, he's a super anti-hero.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"You say that I've been changing, and that I'm not just simply aging"

You know, I opened this blog ready to make a deep post about life, love, and loss.  I've rethought that.  I think, in this particular scenario, it's best to keep it simple.  

The fact is that time changes everything.  Including us.  We're constantly learning, adapting, attempting to make ourselves better.  Along this path we may fall down a rabbit hole and find ourselves in a series of situations where we have no idea what to do.  So we change.  A lot of times we turn ourselves into what others want us to be.  You think Alice would have made it out of Wonderland if she gave in to the Queen of Hearts?  No, she wouldn't have.  She was true to herself and her values.  We need to be the exact same way.  I guess what I'm really trying to say is that it is only natural for us to change throughout life.  I don't blame people for changing.  We all want to experiment with our image.  It's just so important that when we do change, that be we be careful not to hurt the ones that still love us.  If you want to become someone new, don't do it by hurting your friends.  Don't do it by being selfish.  As long as you think about the effect of your actions, everything will turn out just fine.  

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Earlier tonight I finally finished reading the novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  This was certainly a book that struck me; I'm just not sure if it's positively or negatively.  For any of those that haven't read this book let me quickly fill you in.  It's a post-apocalyptic romance adventure.  It reminded me of a toned down Davinci Code meets I am Legend.  Mary and her village believe they are the last ones on earth.  They must be constantly wary of the blood-craving zombies that lie in the fenced off forest that surrounds their village.

It was certainly an interesting book, however I found my reaction to it odd.  This book was dark to say the least.  I personally love dark books and don't have an issue with addressing the emo elephant in the room.  I know there are books a lot darker than this but let me just give you my interpretation.  Within the first 3 or so chapters the main character, Mary,  is forced to watch her mother die then "return" as part of an infected living dead known as the Unconsecrated.  Since her father is too an Unconsecrated she is left an orphan with only her older brother to care for her.  Mary's brother, Jed, then decides to throw her out of the house because she did not kill their mother before she joined the zombie army surrounding their town.  Wow, talk about a bad day for Mary.  I know I was a little spoilery but trust me it's relevant to my point.

To start the book off the reader sits with Mary as she goes through a life changing reality.  I pity her.  I pity her mother.  I pity her father, and her brother, and her friends, and the entire world at this point.  As the novel progresses so does the sense of hopelessness, fear, and anguish.  I remember thinking multiple times throughout the book that if I were her I would have just let myself die.  This is of course a sentiment to Mary's determination to live.  However, as a reader, by the end I was emotionally exhausted.  As the pages kept turning I kept praying there would be some good fortune sent Mary's way.  In large part there was not.  Life is truly a bitch.  I feel I just have to ask the question: how much is too much?

Throughout the novel I sat through a lot of depressing interior monologues.  I read a lot about love that made me feel it just wasn't worth the risk.  And I said goodbye to a lot of characters that I truly didn't want to say goodbye to.  Now I believe if I read a novel and every single character comes out unscathed (in every sense of the word) the author was just being too lovey dovey to their readers.  But on the flip side, (no spoiler alert, I'm just speaking hypothetically) if only one character out of an entire cast comes out kicking is there something wrong here?  Now I understand the entire point of a book is to give the reader an emotional experience.  And don't get me wrong, I got one, but the emotion I felt when I put down that book is not one I like to feel often.

Pain is not comparable, it's a philosophical truth.  We don't live in the world where everything has a quick fix and we always feel good all of the time.  It's cathartic for us to feel sad and upset.  However the intense emotion this book gave me did not bring back pleasant memories.  This is a huge compliment to Carrie Ryan; It takes a wonderful writer to bring this upon me.  I just can't shake the thought that reading this book wasn't worth the pain.

I'm sorry to say that I don't have a definitive or specific point to my little philosophy lesson.  Maybe I would have enjoyed this book more if I was a real zombie fan (the living dead scare the bejesus out of me, and not in a fun way).  Maybe you just have to be in a certain mood to read this and I wasn't in that place.  I don't know, I just felt I needed to address it.  Have you read the book?  What'd you think?  I'm a moron or a speaker of truth?  Let me know!  Thanks for listening.  Hope you were able to get something from my babble.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What inspires you?

The great Robyn Schneider, author of YA novel Knightley Academy, once told me that "Imagination is what you do with your inspiration."  I thought that concept was mind-blowing personally.  I was always under the perception that imagination and inspiration were two totally different things.  However, the truth is that imagination isn't some omnipotent entity that creates exclusively original things.  In fact, imagination simply builds on your inspiration.  You could watch a movie, be incredibly inspired, and then write a book that is something totally new.  Now that book was inspired by the movie, but you still came up with it on your own.  Sometimes we all just need a little push in the right direction, and that's what makes inspiration so great.

I just finished the book Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins, and was almost in tears by the end.  The final words of the book left my jaw on the floor and my soul fully inspired.  It gave me so many ideas I thought I might burst. Ideas on plot, characters, scenes, and everything else imaginable seemed to swirl around me.  It was my imagination that was building on the inspiration I received from those final words.

I've spent all of this time trying to simplify imagination that I didn't get a chance to mention the complexity of it.  Imagination is simple and complex?  Yes, it's a paradox, but trust me it's true.  The human brain is truly a mystery, maybe one day we will understand it, but until then let me try and explain this.  Have you ever just heard a sound, seen a picture, felt an emotion, and immediately a scene is in your head?  No, whole scenes don't come to me at once full of dialogue and plot.  Recently a thunderstorm was touching down in my neighborhood.  I was walking past the front door when I heard the thunder crash.  Somehow my mind quickly progressed to a simple image.  It was a teenage boy standing in his home staring into the storm.  The front of his house had been torn away and the rain flew into his once dry house and bounced of his cheeks.  Now how many things can you do with that image?  Quite a lot I believe.  Inspiration comes from anywhere, you just always have to be on the look out for it.  So keep en eye for a muse readers, because when inspiration strikes it is best to be ready!