Summer Goals: How’d I Do?

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote a list of goals.

Then, I forgot about them.

Meh

So, since it’s September and all, I figured now would be as good a time as any to wrap them up. Let’s see how much I accomplished (without trying to accomplish it).

Reading

Original goal:

This summer, I’d really like to branch out a little more in terms of what I’m reading, and also focus more on LGBT+ books, especially nonfiction. I tried to keep that in mind while creating my reading list, and in the end came up with a very diverse list, ranging from OCD, The Dude, and Me to 1984. I’ve also found some really interesting looking nonfiction, like a book about psychology (it’s aimed toward teens but not patronizing, which is nice) and some really cool books about the riot girl movement.

I actually read most of the books on my fiction list, and found some new favorites, including (but definitely not limited to) The Perks of Being a Wallflower and We All Looked Up. I also read some rad new comics like NimonaLoki: Agent of Asgard, and V for Vendetta.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do terribly well with the nonfiction side of my list. I did read more nonfiction than I usually do – on topics ranging from colleges to art – but none of the ones that were on my list.

I also started reading more poetry this summer! I found to collections that I really liked, Please Excuse This Poem and Poisoned Apples. I’m hoping to read some more poetry through this school year because I never really realized how enjoyable it can be.

Inkheart

I’ve also signed up for the teen summer reading program at my library! I did it last year too, but joined late and was only able to participate in one of the activities. This year, it’s superhero themed, so I’m really excited (and a little nervous, admittedly, but I’m always nervous about meeting  new people, so that’s nothing new). I know I haven’t been posting about it as much lately, but I’m still a massive Marvel fan!

I did this, and it was a lot of fun! I met a lot of new friends, (re)watched a bunch of my favorite Marvel movies, and found some really cool books. Plus, I’ve joined a YA book club and the library’s Teen Advisory Group, both of which are going to continue throughout the year!

Music

I’d like to learn a little bit more about my ukulele and teach myself a few more songs. As of yet I only know one, so it’ll be fun to learn some more.

I’m also going to start doing some extra chores to earn money for a guitar, because, I mean, the main reason I’m teaching myself ukulele is to get practice for when I have a guitar (I’ve heard that the ukulele makes good practice because the chords are very similar- same shapes, different names). Wish me luck!

Also, I’m going to keep working on my flute, and hopefully start private voice lessons.

Well. In some ways that worked out, and in some ways it didn’t.

PeteShrug

On one hand, I haven’t played guitar since spring. Oops.

But on the other hand, my brother got a guitar for his birthday. So even if it’s not technically mine, I have a guitar to play, at least until I’m able to save up enough money to get my own.

ThumbsUp

In terms of listening to music (as opposed to playing it), I’d like to branch out a little more. I really do have a pretty wide range of musical tastes, but lately I’ve been sticking pretty closely to my favorite bands and not really trying to find anything new. So this summer I’m going to be enlisting Pandora’s help in finding new music, especially some more punk rock. I’ve listened to a little teeny bit of the Ramones and Joan Jett, but that’s about it.

I listened to a lot of new music this summer, and I’m glad I did. Although I still have those special bands that are close to my heart (Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance in particular), I’ve fallen in love with a lot of new music as well, especially indie pop.

ILoveIt

I think I’ll actually be doing a new Music Medly post soon, so keep an eye out for that.

Art

I’d like to work on my drawing skills a little, but I don’t really have anything in particular in mind aside from… well, draw more!

I did a lot of art! You can check out the post I wrote about it here.

My mom found a really cool website called DIY that basically lets you work toward different badges, and it has a lot of cool project ideas that I’m going to try. If you want to see my progress/ what activities I’ve done so far, just check out my profile!

I spent a lot of time on DIY too, and it was soooo much fun! I’m going to try and keep up with it through the school year, but realistically I won’t be able to do as much as I did over the summer. If you’d like to see my DIY profile, here’s the link– it’s more up to date than the blog post and so it has a lot more of my projects included.

Writing

I don’t have a whole lot of writing-specific goals, but I would like to post more frequently on this blog and try to finish a short story I’ve been working on.

Well. On one side, I did to a LOT of writing. I had a story I needed to write so I could submit it to get into a writer’s workshop, which I poured hours and hours of work into- but then the workshop was cancelled. But on the good side, I do have a killer new short story! And a friend of mine and I are planning to hold some writer’s meet ups, so there is that.

Shrug3

I didn’t do very well posting here, but… oh well. I’m not posting as much, but on the good side, I feel a lot more relaxed about it, which has really improved the quality of my posts (at least, I hope…).

So, overall, it was a really fun summer! And I actually did pretty well on these goals, even though I didn’t even keep track of them, which I think is pretty impressive.

What did you do this summer? Did you get as much done as you had wanted to?

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The 777 Challenge

I was tagged to do the 777 Challenge by Evi @ Adventuring Through the Pages (thank you!). The gist of it seems to be that you go to page seven of your current work in progress, copy and paste the first seven lines into a blog post, and then tag seven people to do the same.

The piece I’m using for this is a short story, Huntresses (although that title is probably bound to change), that I’m working on. Think modernized Greek mythology as a family drama-ish thing, starring Artemis as the lead of an angry girl band.

Anyway, here goes!

The door opens after what seems like an eternity. The guy standing there as just the same as I remembered- uneven stubble, a mop of curly black hair, and dark brown skin. He leans to one side, propping himself up with a crutch. There’s also a concerned expression on his face, but I expected that.

“Artemis?” Hephaestus asks hesitantly. “What are you doing here?”

“I need a place to crash.” I explain.

“Oh.” He pauses for a moment, then nods. “Okay. You can stay in Aphrodite’s room.”

Something about this statement- especially the plain, matter of fact way in which he says it- strikes me as odd (why wouldn’t Aphrodite be home, at this time?), but I dismiss the confusion and step past him, into the house. I’m too tired to think very hard, but I do manage to remember something Apollo had told me- how Aphrodite would cheat on Hephaestus shamelessly with his brother, Ares.

“Down the hallway. Second door on the right.” he says simply, like he takes in bedraggled half siblings all the time. Maybe he does. Wouldn’t be all that shocking, considering our family.

I think that I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.

I’m tagging A Hufflepuff’s Thoughts, The Writing Hufflepuff, Twist in the Taile, and anyone else who wants to do this!

Novels vs Short Stories

During my time as a part of the writing community, I’ve noticed that there’s one question that tends to pop up over and over again- novels or short stories? The problem is, I never really know how to answer it. Both forms have their advantages and disadvantages… so why is it always expected that you should have a clear cut opinion?

So, I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of each. Let me know what you think in the comments!

  • Short stories are much faster to write than novels. Whereas it usually takes at least a month to get a very, very rough draft for a novel, not to mention all the editing time, you can usually finish a short story rough draft in a couple of days- less if you really put your mind to it.
  • Because short stories are, well, shorter, it’s easier to hold the reader’s attention. Reading a novel is a commitment, while short stories can usually be read in under a half hour.
  • Short stories can let you explore a world and characters without fully committing to a hundred thousand word novel. Sometimes it’s nice to test your interest by writing a short story set in the world that you’re planning to write a novel in. You can just play around with characters, or figure out the background of the characters, or write a much more stripped down version of the plot.
  • Short stories will teach you to skip the exposition and get to the point. It’s a widely known fact among writers- exposition is boring. So if you tend to ramble in your novels, try giving yourself and a word limit of maybe a couple thousand words. The limited length will teach you how to just write the important parts.
  • Novels usually achieve more popularity and success than short stories. So, if you want to make a career out of reading, you should probably focus on novels. Short stories can sometimes be sold to magazines and anthologies and such, but it’s much easier to sell a novel.
  • Novels allow for more complexity. Short stories usually include really minimal character development, and very rarely are you able to fit in a subplot (let alone two or three).
  • Novels also let you include a lot more exposition, which I suppose ties in with the point on added complexity. If you have a complicated fantasy world with a very detailed magic system, for example, then it would probably be better to write a novel. In short stories, it’s very important to get to the point quickly and succinctly.

Do you prefer novels or short stories- or are you like me, and can’t decide between the two? Let me know in the comments!

 

Costume Design for Show Me a Hero

So, I’m starting to notice a bad habit I have in relation to writing- I tend to go way overboard with character development. Not just, like, really liking to write character driven novels and think about the characters a lot. I like to do anything and everything in terms of characters- interviews, playlists, costumes, pretty much anything you can think of. But actually writing the story? Pffft. Nah, I can do that later.

Anyway, here is a shining example of that: I’ve designed some example outfits for all of my main characters! I figured I would post them here, and share my thoughts on each of the costumes. Maybe you can learn something!

Heroes

cause they might try to tell you how you can live your life, but don't forget, it's your right to live however you like
Sloane Brooks
So, for Sloane’s costume, I knew that the first thing I wanted to keep in mind was that it needed to work with her wings. But I didn’t just want a hoodie with holes cutout in the back like in Maximum Ride, either. That wouldn’t be Sloane. She’s simultaneously girly and practical, so I wanted something that would reflect that. In the end, I found this really cute backless dress- perfect! It looks pretty, but wouldn’t interfere too much with Sloane’s wings. I built the rest of the outfit up from that, going for something that was pretty and girly but still fairly athletic.
she's an extraordinary girl in an ordinary world, and she can't seem to get away
Ada Herris
Ada’s powers didn’t really have as many restraints in terms of her everyday outfits- her power is superspeed, so she needs something flexible and comfortable, but she almost always wears her costume when doing superhero-y stuff, so as long as this was fairly comfortable and flexible, I could base it more off of her personality than her powers. So, Ada is from a very wealthy family with high expectations, but she’s beginning to buck under those expectations. I decided that, based on that, I wanted something trendy and nice looking, with just a little hint of rebellion to it. Unlike with Sloane’s outfit, instead of basing it all off of a single item, I just messed around with the main outfit until I found something I liked- pastel colors, white jeggings (more comfortable than jeans), and a pair of matching boots. And then I accessorized based off of that, trying to play up the rebellious aspect a little more.
never gonna take us, never gonna break us, futures open wide and the past is all behind us
Lila Terry
Lila is firmly practical, and a bit of a rough and tumble type. Her outfit was a lot simpler than the others, and she didn’t really seem like the type to accessorize beyond what was necessary. So I went for things that would be comfortable, durable, and maybe a little worn out, since Lila has better things to do than go shopping for new clothes.
Villains
i used to say i wanna die before i'm old, but because of you i might think twice
Marie Herris
Marie is Ada’s sister, but she has a much darker past and very different powers- scary powers that she has very little control over. So I decided to play up that contrast in their outfits, too. Where I used light pastels for Ada, I used dark colors, mostly black, for Marie. And since she lived on the streets for a while before finding a place to stay with Alex (another villain who I’ll get to in a second), I went for some kind of grungy, beat up looking clothing.
let's be alone together, we can stay young forever
Alex Vasquez
With Alex’s outfit, I wanted something that was practical and maybe a little worn looking, but still not too old or tattered, as he’s a very charming kind of person. And I wanted something that had a little in common with Ada’s outfit, since the two of them are in love. Aside from that, I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into Alex’s costume. I just went with what seemed right.
i feel you in these walls, you're a cold air creeping in, chill me to my bones and skin
Oblivion
Oblivion is actually a kind of minor character in comparison to the others, but she’s still one of my favorites to write. She’s very dark and creepy, so I went for a kind of halfway between gothic and modern. Something creepy looking but not too out there, since she needed to be able to blend in. And since she’s a telepath and doesn’t need a whole lot of mobility, I could have a bit more fun with her outfit, like using those heeled boots!
Do you like to think about costume designs for you characters too, or do you prefer to keep a vague idea of them in your head instead?

Show Me a Hero Playlist

It’s been awhile since I worked on my novel WIP, Show Me a Hero, so in an effort to get back into the groove and start working on it again (or at least thinking about it…) I decided to work on a playlist for it. It’s mostly for my own inspiration, but I thought it might be fun for you guys to listen to!

ShowMeAHeroPlaylist

Listen to the playlist on Youtube

  1. Can’t Fight Against the Youth by Panic! at the Disco
  2. Born for This by Paramore
  3. Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia) by Patrick Stump
  4. Burn Bright by My Chemical Romance
  5. Extraordinary Girl by Green Day
  6. Girls/Girls/Boys by Panic! at the Disco
  7. We Don’t Believe What’s on TV by twenty one pilots
  8. Alone Together by Fall Out Boy
  9. stage 4 fear of trying by frnkiero andthe cellabration
  10. Don’t You Worry by We are the in Crowd
  11. Cherry Bomb by The Runaways
  12. Old Scars/ Future Hearts by All Time Low
  13. Anklebiters by Paramore
  14. Saint Patrick by PVRIS

What do you think of my playlist for Show Me a Hero? And would you like to see more playlists on here- maybe I could make them a weekly or monthly thing?

Critique Partners are Important

A couple of months ago, I joined a writer’s critique group through my county’s office of education. It was soooo much fun, but more importantly, it massively improved my writing. I promised to write you guys a post about why critique groups are important- and here it is, several months late!

LokiSorry

A lot of people think that writing is a solitary act- you write the manuscript (by yourself), you edit it (by yourself), and then you send it to a publisher and the publish it!

That’s not how it works.

No2

You will need lots and lots of people to look at your writing before it’s polished. I didn’t realize this for a long time. I wrote a story, and then I said “Here! It’s perfect!”

HaHaSucker

What I didn’t realize is that when you edit your own writing, you’re going to miss some things. It’s basically a given. I don’t care how good of a writer you are, you are going to make mistakes and you are going to miss them because you don’t realize.

HermioneBook

During my critique group, people pointed out to me something that I had never realized- I used the word “but” in pretty much every other sentence. My voice tends to consist of very splintered, fractured sentences. Sometimes it helps, especially when I’m going for a dark, tense mood. But the problem is that it leads to me using the words “and” and “but” a lot!

When I started the group, I had thought that my writing was polished. But it wasn’t! People pointed out a whole slew of problems that I hadn’t even noticed (they did it nicely, of course).

No

Another thing- critique partners will open you up to new views, new ideas, which is incredibly important to writers. You need to know, to be aware, if you want to properly send the message that you want to send.

And because of cultural biases, you’re likely to not even see things that are totally illogical. I used to write fantasy stories about worlds consisting completely of straight white people with a single religion. It didn’t make sense, looking back. Look at our own world. There’s so much variety. Everyone is so different, and it’s beautiful. So why would a fantasy world be any different?

DoesntMakeSense

I didn’t realize that on my own. I needed other people to point it out to me (nicely).

I’m not saying to make your writing exactly like other people’s. I’m saying to think about what your critique partners have to say, really think about it. Take it or leave it. It’s up to you. But it really is so, so important to at least listen to what other people have to say. They have different perspectives than you, and sometimes, a different angle is all you need to see that problem you had known was lurking in the corner but just couldn’t see from where you were standing. If that makes any sense.

Shrug3

And don’t try to argue by saying “but I don’t know where to find critique partners!” because it’s really not that hard- and coming from my socially awkward self, that’s saying something. Try at your school and local library first, since there might already be an established group. If there isn’t one, or if you don’t want to critique with a bunch of strangers, then try finding some writerly friends and offer to look at one of their writings if they’ll look at one of yours! You don’t need an official group or anything. Just find people you trust who will look at your writing and give you an honest opinion of what they think.

It’ll help a lot. I promise.

MindBlown2

The 777 Challenge

I’m so sorry for the lack of posts lately! I’ve been really busy lately and just haven’t been able to get around to finishing any posts. Because of that, I figured that I would to a really quick tag today, the 777 Tag. I was kinda-sorts tagged for it by Horse Feathers (thank you!)- they didn’t technically tag anyone, but they did write that if you read the post then you should consider yourself tagged, so that counts, right?

777Challenge

Anyway, the rules for the 777 Challenge are basically that you go to page seven of your current work in progress, scroll down to line seven, and share the next seven lines. Then you tag seven other bloggers to do it on their own blogs, but since I’m in a bit of a rush right now (as I mentioned earlier) I’m just going to tag everyone reading this right now, like Horse Feathers did.

So, here goes- seven lines from my very, very rough draft of Show Me a Hero!

“You’ve got to give me a chance!” I screeched at their turned backs. “Please! You’ve got to help me!”

There was no response. I was left in the lab, staring at the door.

Alone.

I glanced at the test tube once more- bitterly- before heading down the hall to Ada’s room. I knocked on the door, twice, softly, and whispered “Ada? Can I come in?”

“Nope.” my little sister muttered, but I entered anyway.

“I just wish that they would stop getting on my case.” she whispered to me after a moment. “I’m not like them. I’m not like you. I’m just… normal.”

I stopped herself from laughing just in time. “Well, it looks like we have the exact opposite problems, then.”

Like I said, everyone reading this is tagged. What’s one of your favorite lines from your current work in progress?