LazyPost: John Green in Amsterdam

Readers, it is once again time to implement the LazyPost, in which I post something quick, easy, and not necessarily related to books because I’m busy with other things.

This is a video of John Green doing a talk-type-thingy in Amsterdam recently for The Fault in Our Stars.

Yes, I am still obsessed with the book.  Readers who have been with me for a while will know that I used to constantly nag them to read The Hunger Games if they didn’t already.  Well, now I’m nagging you to read TFiOS (which is what the title is often shortened to).

Please read TFiOS.

Okay, here’s the video, courtesy of Booksandquills on YouTube, who also did an awesome Dutch pronunciation guide video for the book.

WARNING: SPOILERS!

Happy Easter, and

Happy reading.

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Going Public and Reading For the Authors

Readers, today I entered a writing contest.  I wrote a short story, printed it out, and mailed it to people I have never met in the hopes that they might read it and enjoy it.  Needless to say, this wasn’t easy for me to do, given that I don’t normally like it when people read my stories.  I’ve never been comfortable with this.  Everything I put down on paper just seems too personal to give out to the world.  My friends and family will certainly attest that I’m reluctant to share my writing.

Why is this?  Is it because I fear they will tell me I’m a horrible writer?  Or some other reason?  I don’t know, but I need to get over this sort of literary shyness if I’m going to ever make it as an author without having nervous breakdowns every time something’s published.  Other people reading your work is inherent in being a writer, which is why I’m so puzzled by my inability to not get all nervous about it.

I think this was one of the reasons I started blogging: to get over this dread of people reading what I write.  After all, you’re all reading this now, and I’m perfectly okay with that.  I think this blog helped me a lot in getting to the point where I can do things like this contest.

My worries about this subject inevitably lead to the simple fact that writing is a very personal process.  Every time I write something, at least a fictional something, I leave a little bit of me in the pages, in the plot and the characters.  And that’s a scary thing, to put something like that, something I’ve worked on for a while, something I feel close to and am proud of, into the world.  To let everyone, from good friends to people I don’t even know, read it and comment on it and tell me what they think of this thing I’ve created.

Anyway, there you have it.  I’m planning to post that short story on Novel Journeys starting in a couple of weeks.  So I guess you have that to look forward to, if you like reading that sort of thing here.

ON TO ANOTHER TOPIC!

So, ever since reading The Fault in Our Stars, I’ve been basically on a literary rampage, trying to get my hands on every John Green book I could (admittedly, he’s only written three others, but still).  My school library has both An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns, the former of which I have finished and the latter of which I will finish in the next day or so.  I’m really enjoying both of these books, which is remarkable in that I don’t usually read books because of the author.  I read books for their story or their title, but here I made an exception.  I’m reading these because John Green wrote them, and I’m having a remarkably pleasant time doing so.

This has taught me that reading for the author can sometimes be quite rewarding.  I had known this before, and with some authors I’ll read anything they write, but this is different.  I was first introduced to John through his Vlogbrothers channel on YouTube, so I suppose you could say that I even read The Fault in Our Stars just because he wrote it.

It’s a different approach to a new book, but it’s been fun.  And that’s about all I have to say on the subject.  Tomorrow I’ll be posting for this month’s TCWT blog chain, so, at the risk of sounding clichéd, stay tuned!

Happy reading.

Delving Into the Lesser-Knowns

I’m just finishing up reading Perelandra, the second book in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy.  Now, a few friends of mine have been sort of surprised to see his name on a book that isn’t about Narnia (thank you, computer, for not spell-checking that), and I’ve been struck by how much an author’s works can fall by the wayside with the addition of a greater-known book.

As a book-nerd, I feel I really should be more aware of an author’s entire body of work.  After all, I can’t call myself very well read if I’ve only gotten into the big stuff.  A writer is more than his most famous novel, and although C.S. Lewis is a great example, he’s not the only one.

This is a rather short post, I know, but I feel like it’s an important thing to take into account.  You never know what you might find if you look into the nooks and crannies, the tucked-away places if you will, of the literary world.  You might even see something you like just as much as the famous books.

Certainly, I will always love the Narnia series probably most out of any of Lewis’ works, but reading this trilogy has really opened my eyes to what he could do with a pen outside of that world.  Here, he leaves the realm of fantasy and enters fully into science fiction, weaving wonderful and beautiful tales which take place on different planets.  I’m really enjoying it.  What with the Eclectic Reader Challenge and now this, 2012 is fast becoming the year that I’m branching out in my literary ventures, at least a little bit.

Happy reading.

Fame Is Overrated, Anyway

Good morning, readers.  Unless you are reading this at a different point in the day.  In which case, good afternoon/evening/middle of the night, readers.

If you’ve ever been on the WordPress home page (WordPress being the site which hosts this blog), you no doubt have noticed that there is a feature called Freshly Pressed.  This feature basically showcases the best of WordPress blogs, displaying links to different posts every day.  To be Pressed is considered one of the highest honors a blog can have.  I have never been Pressed, of course, but this kind of fame, being shown to me every day as I log in, has gotten me thinking about the bigger fame: the fame of being an author.

Not all authors are famous in the sense that I’m thinking of.  “Famous” will here be taken to mean that you’re one of those authors that simply everyone at all connected to the literary world will have heard of.  You’re probably thinking of some right now, readers: writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Scott Westerfeld, Stephenie Meyer, et cetera, those being just a sample of the ones alive today.  All of these authors have huge fan bases and most have movie deals.  As a young aspiring writer, I’ve had some thought on what it might be like to be considered among their ranks one day.

But that’s when I remember that fame isn’t the point.

This is something that is extremely important to me when I’m writing.  Fame isn’t the point.  Yes, fame is seen as desirable in most people’s eyes.  Yes, fame equals more money, more fans, more movies.  The problem, though, is that none of these matter in the end.

When writing, what truly matters is that I’m getting my story out there.  I’m doing what I love to do, and I’m doing it in the hopes that I’ll connect with someone, anyone, who likes what I do just as much as I like doing it.  And I don’t need to make it big as an author in order to have that happen.

In the end, as a writer, writing is about putting something forth into the world that I’m proud of.  It’s about doing the best work that I can do with a story that is near and dear to my heart.  It’s about writing whatever feels right to me and eventually sending it out into the great unknown, hopefully for some reader to come along and pick it up.

And it turns out, readers, that I don’t really care if I never have thousands of screaming fans at some as-yet-unimaginable point in my future when I’m published.  If I have a few dedicated readers who happen to enjoy reading my stories, then I will be grateful to all of them (actually, it’ll be surreal in the extreme if anyone likes my books at all- I just can’t imagine it).  Which brings me back to that first bit.  I’ll probably never be Freshly Pressed, and that’s okay.  I’m overjoyed that you, readers, read what I write, and I can’t be any more grateful whether I have thirty followers or thirty thousand.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you, each and every one, for coming along with me on these wacky-insane Novel Journeys.  I look forward to whatever the future holds for both this blog and for my career as a writer.  Famous or not, Pressed or not, it’s what I love, and that’s enough for me.

Happy reading.

LazyPost: Interview with Veronica Roth

This is the first in a series that I will call LazyPosts, in which for some reason I’m unavailable to write a normal post for you, and so in its place I will post something short but entertaining.  Today I’m all booked up with multiple school projects that I really need to start.  So, I give you this awesome video I found in which Veronica Roth talks about the writing process, among other things:

Don’t worry, my dear readers; the LazyPost will not be used often.  This is a rare exception to the rule of my usual book-nerdy posts.  Next week we shall return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Happy reading!

Atra Esterni Ono Thelduin*

Well, I did it.  I read Inheritance.  It took me FOREVER, but it happened.  The Cycle is over.

Now I can get back to LOTR…by the time this whole shenanigans is over I will be fully versed in the fantasy genre.

It was a good book.  I don’t really have much to say without giving away spoilers.  And spoilers are no fun, are they?  No.  Exactly.

This book was…satisfying.  It was everything I hoped the climax of the Cycle would be, and a lot of things I never imagined for this series.  It was funny at parts (those parts mostly involving a certain herbalist) and sad at others.  The ending was more bittersweet than I had thought it would be.  But I suppose it was inevitable.

One exciting bit about this week was that I got to go to a signing for the book.  Christopher Paolini was really fun to listen to- his discussion and question-answering ranging in topic from Viking mead halls to a certain time-traveling physician- but he also gave some great advice about writing.  I had an awesome time.

Now, I would wax poetic about how this is the end of an era, and it’s sad, and how my life is changed forever (which is technically true, if you think about it, in the most basic sense- before I hadn’t read this series, and now I have), but I already did enough of that last week and way back when in July (albeit with a different series).  So now I’ll just tip my proverbial hat to the series and the man who wrote it, for being my first introduction to real fantasy, and also to this book, for being a very fitting ending.

Oh, and if you’re reading/have read the book?  I’m guessing you still want to know more about Angela.  My advice: look in the Acknowledgments.  I think you’ll find an answer.

If any of you lovely readers want to discuss the book, I’m always open to talking about it in the comments of this post.  There might be spoilers.  You have been warned.

Also.  Sorry there’s only one visual today.  I figured that was already covered last week, as much as it could be with this topic.

That being said, isn’t that picture ADORABLE?  In a dragon-y way, of course.

Happy reading!

*Yes, I do see the irony in giving a greeting as the title of a post in which I say farewell to the series.  But I like that title.  So we’re running with it.  Besides, made-up languages are much more fun.

UPDATE: Some of you are asking for the writing advice Mr. Paolini gave, which I admit would be an excellent addition to this post.  Basically, he broke it down into five parts:

  • Read everything.  That means EVERYTHING.  Even things you don’t think you would like.
  • Write persistently.  That means every day, including Christmas.  Also birthdays.
  • Learn as much about the language as you can.  Editing is important here.  It was mentioned that more can be learned from the editing than from the writing itself.
  • Write what you want to write.  You have to like what you’re doing.
  • Try to have fun.

Easier Said Than Done*

You know what irks me?

When writers make it look so darn EASY.

You know the type.  You’re watching an interview with a favorite author, or you’re reading their blog, and they’re going on and on about how they write.  They’re all, “Oh, yeah, I was sitting in my room and suddenly this idea came to me.  It was like the story just sprung fully formed out of my brain and onto the page.  Like Athena.  Sometimes I couldn’t stay away from the computer!  And the characters are like my BFF’S.  And blah blah blah SUCH AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE blah blah blah.”**

If there is one thing- one thing, mind you- that being an amateur writer has taught me, it is that THIS IS NOT NATURAL.  Being a writer is hard.  It is nitty-gritty, up-in-your-face, pounding-your-head-against-the-monitor hard.  It involves blood, sweat, and tears (but mostly blood).  Characters do not normally spring into your head like some origin story gone wrong.  The story takes weeks to work out and tons of tweaking.  Unless you are an alien or a cyborg, you are not likely to get an idea that is ready to go from the first conception.

No stress here, in the court of Happy Queen Writer! NO STRESS!

Writing is not simple.  Even once you have cleared the barbed wire of the first draft, there is still the land-mined field of editing, where your story gets blown to smithereens and then put back together again.  There will be times throughout the whole process where you will want nothing more than to take your fingers off the keys and back away slowly.  You will want to give up.  But you keep going because THIS IS WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR.

Oh, and this thing about characters being awesome people who magically get along with you?  They’re not.  Characters will do things you don’t want them to do, or they’ll refuse to do things that will further the story.  Characters will get you stuck.  In terms of plot, they will turn on you eventually.

Eventually, yes, it’s worth it.  In the end you get a beautiful book with your name on the cover.  But that doesn’t mean we should make it sound easier than it is to write.  Sometimes it seems like published authors have everything figured out, that they know exactly how to write a story STRESS-FREE.  And I know for a fact that this is not true.

There are two morals to this rampaging monster-child of a post:

One, don’t beat yourself up when something goes wrong.  It’s part of the process.  You probably knew that already, though.

Two, WE’RE ONTO YOU, AUTHORS.  You cannot hide your hardships from us!

Yes, we see you there, adorable hypothetical writing-puppy.

Happy reading!

 

*Wow, that title makes it seem way more serious than this post actually is.  Funny how that works.

**Please note that I am not singling out any particular writer.  This is a purely hypothetical situation based on a lifetime of authorial experiences blown to cosmic proportions.  That being said, I hope you enjoyed it.  Disclaimer over.