Monday, September 30, 2013

30-Week Blog Challenge Week 5: Favorite Quotes

I'm back with the Monday blog challenge! The lady in charge is Marie at Mom Gets Real. The questions are right here:


And Week 5's prompt is . . .

Favorite Quotes!

Great! Here are some of my favorites, divided up into categories.


“You put a character out there and you’re in their power. You’re in trouble if they’re in yours.” —Ann Beattie

“But keep characters in propinquity long enough and a story will always develop a plot.” —Keith Miller, The Book of Flying

“The bad novelist constructs his characters; he directs them and makes them speak. The true novelist listens to them and watches them act; he hears their voices even before he knows them.” —André Gide

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” —Red Smith

“Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking. ” —Jessamyn West

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” —Ernest Hemingway

“It’s not as if the stories merge to a point where you think they are your life, but you do let them in the front door and the back door, and it’s okay that sometimes certain characters stay for dinner.” —Tori Amos, Piece By Piece

“We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else–yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to ‘get a life’ by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves.” —Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow

“If language were liquid, it would be rushing in. Instead here we are in a silence more eloquent than any word could ever be.” —Suzanne Vega, “Language”

“To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as ‘Thank God its Friday’ (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive ‘its’ (no apostrophe) with the contractive ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlovian ‘kill’ response in the average stickler. . . . Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you persist in writing ‘Good food at it’s best’, you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.” —Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves

“Now and again thousands of memories converge, harmonize, arrange themselves around a central idea in a coherent form and I write a story.” —Katherine Anne Porter

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – - – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” —Pearl Buck

Follow the read-more for quotes on religion, love, and philosophy!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Saturday, September 28, 2013

SCBWI Meeting: Presentation by Joyce Sweeney

I joined SCBWI (the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) back in May, but I had yet to go to a meeting until today because, well, I don't drive, and most of the Tampa Bay Area meetings are pretty far away. But because of some construction issue at the group's usual venue, a last-minute change ended up bouncing the meeting to a bookstore near me, and I was able to go! Hooray!

The speaker today was Joyce Sweeney. She's an author as well as a workshop leader, editor, and all around book-helper-type-person, and she spoke to us about making novels (and picture books!) succeed as page-turners.

I thought this would be a pretty good topic for me to check out, because I tend to keep a lot of the story in my protagonist's head. I've learned a lot recently about reinforcing the thoughts with external clues and cutting down on the "pause action while character thinks" type narration, but I can always use an expert perspective with extra hints. I'm glad I attended because the ideas Joyce presented were quite helpful and I can see applying her principles more directly in my other developing works.

Joyce talked a lot about concepts such as delay and escalation, picking apart scenes in both fiction and picture books, explaining how choices the authors made helped pull the reader in and set them up for getting invested in what's happening on the page. She discussed how to hint at feelings and show, say, tension, rather than saying "she was tense" or "the atmosphere was tense." And she also touched on how authors often think the reader isn't as perceptive as they are, and how important it is to plant recognizable elements so the reader will "feel smart" when they see where you're going and realize they're right during the payoff.

There were plenty of interesting nuggets during the presentation, but I thought I'd share with you some stuff I scribbled down regarding hints on keeping the pages turning--elements you can include to keep your action moving along and keep the reader's interest.

  • A ticking clock: Literally or figuratively, have the story moving toward something that is counting down. Time is running out, or a big event is getting closer. Keep reminding the reader about that ticking clock as the end approaches.

  • Foreshadowing: You have to be delicate with this, but plant in early echoes of the major action that will go on later so the reader is associating images and building connections with the important aspects of the climax.

  • Include seemingly unimportant details that are important later: This goes back to making the reader feel smart. Reinforce the story's forward motion by scattering hints of where it's going that will fall into place for the reader when they get to the high point of the action.

  • Use chapter endings to build tension: Find the best places to break so you're either satisfying or tantalizing your reader. Stopping the action and going somewhere else temporarily can make a good plateau for readers to digest and appreciate your forward motion. Both literal and figurative cliffhangers can work here.

  • Threaten the protagonist's most precious thing: This can be literal--as in, you can threaten something or someone that matters to the main character, through making the story put a person in danger or threaten to take away an object that is important--or it can be figurative, such as building stakes for the protagonist to win or gain something and then twist the story to threaten their success.

  • Establish a problem and then escalate: Once you know what the problem is for the protagonist, keep building to make it worse or increase the stakes.

  • Manipulate the setting: A good climactic scene or escalation can be enhanced by introducing thematic elements that play up the mood or in some way make the action more significant. Symbolism and imagery can make your scenes more visceral and increase your reader's connection.

  • Let the main character fail: Even if they will eventually succeed at their goals, letting them have a small failure or making it seem like they can't win or actually having them lose before they win is a great way to keep people invested in the story, because they'll realize how much they want the protagonist to get what they want. (Yeah, I use this one a lot. Every one of my books has this.)

  • Withhold information: You shouldn't dance around revealing what the main character knows just to drive your reader up the wall, but refraining from babbling all the interesting information into the narration will help keep your reader interested in finding out the answers to the questions they're developing.

  • Flashbacks and dreams: Pulling the reader into the character's head where they relive something related to the current story or express their fears and fantasies through dreams can show the reader something other than what's happening right now, helping to flesh the character out and naturally show their inner landscape. (For the record, nearly all of the flashbacks and dream sequences I've seen in amateur writing were somewhat painfully shoehorned in and felt lazy, so be careful here.)

And that's it! Besides the presentation and its several examples, we also had a door prize giveaway (though I didn't win anything, boo-hoo), and I got to chat with a couple lovely folks who were sitting near me. I wish I could go to more of these meetings, but being limited by where I can ride on my bike is a bit of a problem. Maybe before the next one I'll figure out if there are other Tampa-area authors who might be interested in carpools. . . . 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Why is your character a jerk? [GIF warning]

Negative Qualities. Flaws. Balance. We hear buzzwords flying around about realistic character creation, encouraging us to never make perfect people and always assign less-than-desirable traits to our fictional folks in order to make them more believable. But I don't like when writers regard this "give people flaws" as an afterthought, gluing on a couple of flaws in the name of following the manual. I feel like it's really important to include the flaws not because you're thinking of the reader's ability to relate to them, but because you're writing a person and you need to show the natural consequences of that person being who they are.

So why is your character a jerk? Not how, but why?

Example: Bad Fairy. Character: Delia.

Delia is my protagonist and she's perfect to do this exercise with because she is, after all, the bad fairy. Let's take a look:

How is she a jerk?

Most notably, she's arrogant. A bit elitist. Privileged and unaware of it. Sometimes selfish. And unfriendly to most people.

Why is she a jerk? 

This is what's most important. That's a LOT of negative traits to saddle a child protagonist with. How do you write someone like this and not make them entirely unlikable? The trick is to show WHY a character has negative traits--and while you shouldn't go out of your way to "justify" the traits, you should allow enough perspective for the reader to understand why a person in the situation your character is in would feel and act the way they do.

For the record, though Delia is in essence a fairy tale villain and I'm writing about her childhood, she is not supposed to be a character you "love to hate." You're not supposed to hate her--and I've found that despite most of my readers connecting and sympathizing with her, I have gotten occasional feedback from readers who reacted to her very much the way her enemies did. That will happen if your character is a realistic jerk. Not everyone will like them.

So . . . why? Story-wise, why is Delia arrogant, elitist, privileged and unaware, selfish, and unfriendly?

  • The arrogance, quite frankly, comes from her status as a prodigy. Everything is easy (or at least, easier than it "should" be), and when she sees students twice her age struggling to keep up with her on tasks that aren't much of a challenge for her, she develops an ego problem. But because others sometimes make their jealousy and resentment clear and try to shame her for it, the arrogance is her immature way of refusing to apologize for excellence.

  • The elitism comes from comparing herself to her classmates and seeing that she is in a different league, and she has trouble respecting people who just don't care about the study subjects. But this is fueled by an absolutely consuming passion for the topics at hand, and she finds it almost offensive that her classmates pursue their education more as a vocation than an art.

  • The unchecked privilege is at least nothing unique to her in the story. Her family and fairy school classmates are also part of a privileged class, as fairies are valued for their magical talents and always paid well, considered a sought-after commodity by the upper class of their society and included as a weird kind of privileged servants. However, as a person with human heritage as well, Delia is sometimes offended when she's assumed human and treated as such, and she later learns a LOT more about what not to take for granted, as well as develops more sympathy for those less fortunate.

  • The selfishness is not always obvious, especially since she likes teaching and tutoring others or helping them with things they cannot do themselves, but when she's selfish, it's usually in the context of expecting others to cater to her because of her unique talents. But since so many of her peers and even her teachers have been hostile to her pursuits and have tried to roadblock her and sabotage her, she sometimes feels she must be wary of being too generous out of self-preservation.

  • The unfriendliness comes from an obvious source: People aren't friendly to her, so why should she be friendly to them? It's more complicated, of course: She is standoffish, shy, and often read as creepy because of the child prodigy thing (plus her aesthetic tastes run "creepy" too), so she isn't very approachable. But on top of that, she is quite frankly obsessed with her studies, which makes it hard to put social connections in the forefront of her mind, and she has very little in common with her classmates because she's so much younger, so she finds her own company more satisfying.

Every one of these negative traits is complicated. People aren't just jerks. Giving them unlikable aspects is not about grafting them on and making them vain or clumsy or standoffish just for the hell of it. They've got to be vain because it's clear they value the superficial due to lack of talent, or clumsy because they're too inwardly focused to pay attention to where they're walking, or standoffish because they have been burned by friends before. Your characters, if they're going to have negative qualities, still need to think they're right. They have a perspective on what they're doing, and that perspective is formed by what they know and what they don't know.

And if being a jerk causes them enough pain that it prevents them from getting what they want, they have to be able to repent and grow. These traits aren't immutable aspects of their character, and they have to be written as though they formed the way we all construct our psyches in the real world. Our attitudes are the amalgamation of our experiences, interactions with others, personal values, and beliefs. If you don't know why a character acts a certain way or believes a certain thing, you might need to do some homework. Because that hollow trait will make it seem like your character wasn't alive until you started writing about them. Everyone has to come to the page with a past and a full set of attitudes toward their experiences. If you've balanced your character with negative traits like a math equation, the superficial construction will be visible in your final product.

So ask your characters why they're jerks. They'll probably be able tell you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Banned Books Week is this week, from September 22nd through September 28. I read Laurie Halse Anderson's blog and in one of her posts she discussed whether authors should censor themselves in order to avoid getting banned. She concluded that in some cases toning down certain elements does help your book get through the filters and reach the audiences you want it to (you know, like if on a TV show you have to clip out a couple of nude scenes so larger audiences can still see it, perhaps it's an acceptable sacrifice), but she also points out that no matter WHAT you do, someone will criticize you, so there's no sense in trying to please everyone, or to try to anticipate every possible angle. That's a good thing to remember.

I thought I'd explore a couple reasons why I think my books might be objectionable and up for banning, especially if they got popular enough to be considered influential.

For Bad Fairy: It's probably pretty obvious to anyone who reads this book that it's explicitly about characters who practice magic, and they do so in an extremely Pagan-inspired way. (Hello, I wonder why that is?) The fairies go to nature rituals, use magical tools like wands and potions, refer to mythical gods and goddesses by name, and use circle-casting and spellwork procedures to affect reality. Furthermore, my protagonist practices remote viewing, scrying (telling the future with a mirror), interfering with others' dreams, and has a relationship with a goddess of death and rebirth. Later in her life she talks to dead people and uncovers an afterlife concept that contradicts traditional beliefs about Heaven and Hell, and she interferes with it. And as if that isn't enough, though Christian beliefs are not explicitly discussed in the book, there is a somewhat loose suggestion that one of my protagonist's distant ancestors may have inspired the modern concept of Lucifer. I can't imagine why this book might get banned, can you?

For Finding Mulligan: Well, we have teenagers in college. There are sexual references and bad language, though no actual sex scenes (or even heavy romance) and no particularly terrible words are featured. My protagonist's best friend is having sex with her teacher (well, her T.A.), and has been sexually active since age 16, but though my protagonist is more reserved than that, she doesn't object to her friend's activities. I can possibly imagine some people who want to be jackasses objecting to the interracial romance. The protagonist's alternate world has magic in it, and there are a few magical processes mentioned that people might object to if they were extremely conservative. But it's certainly way "cleaner" than most New Adult and Young Adult books.

For Stupid Questions: The protagonist is a mid-twenties man and it's sort of a romance. The romantic and sexual bits occur between people who are not married, though none of them are teens. Other people in the story are explicitly revealed to have no problem with engaging in premarital sex and even one-night stands. The protagonist's love interest has unprecedented, unexplained superpowers, and there are some people in the story who explicitly subject her to religious persecution, so you could find that objectionable if you were religious because it casts religious people as the aggressors and the person they're targeting as the innocent. However, the protagonist's love interest still longs to find a religious path she can embrace and be embraced by, and eventually by the end of the story she's interested in a Unitarian Universalist church, which is shown to be less judgmental and more accepting. (That might make some people think it's got an anti-religious or specific religious agenda.) The protagonist himself is pretty non-religious and makes a couple comments suggesting he doesn't understand why anyone would want a religion. I don't think this one would be likely to be a target for banning over the sexual content since it's way less than most other books for adults, but the religious angle might be tricky.

For Joint Custody: This story isn't finished yet, but it's aimed at older elementary kids, and though I haven't made it clear yet in the part that's written, one of the major characters is from a Pagan family. (There's that heathen content again!) The Pagan family consists of two parents who are not legally married and three daughters who were raised in the faith, and they have a family ritual room which is probably pretty weird to most people. My protagonist is eleven, and he was raised Christian but not particularly strongly (you know, Christmas-and-Easter Christians who might pray when it suits them). He has divorced parents. I doubt anyone would boycott a book over divorce anymore. Again, it's probably the religious stuff that would do it in, though I firmly believe kids' literature needs to feature more "alternative" religions so kids who aren't from one of the mainstream cultures can actually see themselves in books written for their age groups.

Other novels I have planned contain (you guessed it) more Pagan stuff (an invented goddess culture on another planet) and non-straight sexuality stuff (teens in high school connecting through their GSA). And my short stories are full of bannable stuff.

Some books on the Frequently Challenged Books list that I have read and liked:
  • Stephen Chbosky - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
  • Dav Pilkey - Captain Underpants
  • Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials
  • J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter
  • J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye
  • John Steinbeck - Of Mice and Men

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to Date a Nerd Blog Hop

I'm participating in the HOW TO DATE A NERD Blog Hop! YAY!

How to Date a Nerd is a new book out by Cassie Mae and you can find it on Goodreads. I think it sounds like a pretty awesome book based on what I've read about it! I love the idea of a geeky girl trying to find the courage to be as geeky as she is, and I hope when I read the book it will satisfy all my expectations!

So on this Blog Hop we're answering this question today:


Well, I'm glad you asked!

I think most of the obvious stuff isn't particularly special. I like science fiction. I make videos featuring me singing songs from video games. I draw webcomics. I play Dance Dance Revolution. I enjoy Japanese animation, went to an anime club for years, and have been to anime conventions. In costume.

JACON 2004          Metrocon 2013

But beyond all that creative and fan-related stuff, I think I do one nerdy thing that most other nerds don't do . . . and that is comprehensively documenting everything kind of all the time.

I have a public list of every book, every movie, and every music album that I own. When I buy a book, it has to come off the public wish list, get put on the "owned" list, and get updated on two book-related websites. When I read a book, I have to review it on my personal site, review it on Goodreads, and show a star rating on my author site, and it has to get moved from "reading" to "recently read" (and I have to pick the next book I'm going to read and declare that in five places).

I keep a daily journal. I've done so for over ten years. I write down what I did that day and not much else, but I have an exhaustive account of pretty much everything I've done in my adult life.

I have a list of every time I've been in the media (though I guess that's something most people would do). If someone wants links to my magazine interviews, film appearances, public speaking engagements, radio appearances, and other media talks, they're all in one place.

I keep an updated list of favorite things. If I read a book, see a movie, or hear a music artist, and I decide it was good enough that it is now a "favorite," I have to add it to an extremely long and comprehensive list on various websites. I also list favorite foods, favorite comics, favorite podcasts, favorite television, and favorite quotes.

And I've got a rather detailed public autobiography (if you know where to look), featuring a timeline, photos, drawings, writings, sound files, video clips, and keepsakes.

I'm good at other things you're supposed to document too, like balancing my checkbook, keeping abreast of my publishing submissions, and keeping a fastidiously updated calendar so my events don't have conflicts. But as you can see, I kinda go above and beyond when it comes to documenting everything, and I think that's probably the nerdiest thing about me!

See you nerds later. :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

30-Week Blog Challenge Week 4: Favorite Books!

I'm back with the Monday blog challenge! The lady in charge is Marie at Mom Gets Real. The questions are right here:


And Week 4's prompt is . . .

Favorite Books!

Are you kidding me? Ugh, what a thing to ask an author and passionate reader. But luckily, I have . . . a favorites list already compiled! Time to share. I'll organize by author, and put a cut on the blog for people who don't want to scroll for ten years. Browse for your favorites and please suggest some for me based on your tastes, though!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Invested . . . and Repaid

In a previous post, Metabuddies and High Expectations, I mentioned that I was reading The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. And I mentioned that I was getting very invested in the book because I wanted to see its central message driven home: That a man and a woman who care deeply for each other do not have to become romantic partners eventually in order to maintain their relationship.

And it struck me to realize a large portion of the audience may have been hoping for the opposite.

People always want to see the guy and the girl get together. They get invested in the relationship and truly believe that for it to end happily ever after, they have to kiss and rejoice and get married.

But I wanted to see it happen the other way around. Because it mattered so much to me that the friendship between Becky and Felix as described in this book would not be portrayed as having to end in romance in order to show its true strength. It's hard for me to even communicate how much I needed to see the book end the way I believed it should.

And the thing is, society tells us over and over again that sharing love of this strength indicates more than a "friendly" attraction--that friendly love is always lesser (rather than differently flavored), and that love of appreciable strength is automatically romantic or sexual or both. So sometimes when the characters began to doubt the nature of their bond, I understood why. I understood why people follow the scripts they've been fed and don't try to examine the nuances of their feelings. I understood why people around them--including the characters' spouses--wondered if their being married was the only thing preventing them from getting together. Were they avoiding a "full on" romantic relationship for the sake of their marriages, or were they truly extraordinary friends regardless of what "obstacles" kept them apart?

I was terrified reading the book. As I haven't been in a long time. I don't mind admitting that.

I was so terrified that we were going to get to the end and everything was going to scramble downhill in a culmination that everyone but people like me would be cheering for.

I didn't want to see that happen. And I cried so many times reading this book--not only because of the terribly difficult things the characters went through in their lives, but because I was practically praying that the story narrative wasn't playing a dirty trick on me--wasn't trying to groom me to root for their romance. Because no. I did not want that message taken away from me. I did not want to be told that all sufficiently close friendships between straight men and straight women end up romantic eventually.

Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you how it ends. But I am going to tell you that every thought and interaction read as authentic to me, so the progression to the end was completely believable. I was amazed at how well Shannon Hale was able to make me connect to her protagonist, especially because of two things that normally alienate me a bit:
  1. The entire book, despite being an intimate account of a woman's thoughts, was written in third person. That usually creates some necessary barriers and distance. In this case, it did not. (Though I should be used to that with Shannon Hale. Most of her other work is in third person; it must just be a preference of hers, and it certainly doesn't get in the way of connecting with the characters!)

  2. The protagonist was conservative and religious. I am neither. And yet, Becky didn't have to keep her religion and beliefs out of the story (and just wear them as badges on her person like a name tag) to avoid annoying me. Her beliefs about marriage and God were seamlessly stitched to everything she did without reading at all as preachy, and it wasn't just an aspect that was tacked onto her as a character; she observably operated through these beliefs and cultural expectations, and believably understood certain events as evidence of God in her life without the book reading like it was trying to send that message to readers about their own lives. (In fact, Shannon Hale has stated that she never tries to answer moral questions or send messages definitively; she's content with people getting what they get from her books without her saying she strove to put it there to send a particular message.)
I've been allotting one hour a day to reading (wish I could spare more, but I can't), and yet yesterday when I finished this book I went beyond that because I needed to know how this resolved. I felt very raw about it. The book was not plot-driven at all; it wasn't really about "I have to see what happens." I needed to know whether this book would contain an undoing--a backtracking on the message that I saw woven so eloquently throughout the rest of the story. And let me be clear: I didn't think the protagonists getting together romantically at the end would necessarily undo that; I just desperately did not want to see any "and looking back it was obvious all along that this was never REALLY just a friendship at all." I did not want to see any narratives claiming that what Becky and Felix had was definitively romantic from the start, nor did I want to see it downplayed as if what they had could ever be called "just" a friendship.

I'm happy to say that no such devastating message was embedded in the story, and I survived the ending of the book only to immediately add the title to my list of favorite books. (That doesn't happen much anymore. My standards are really stinking high.)

I love Shannon Hale. I want to hug her. Or at least be on a panel with her someday when I'm a successful published author. ::wink::

Saturday, September 21, 2013

What to Do: While Waiting

I recently became acquainted with Vaughn Roycroft at Writer Unboxed because of his excellent post "A Writerly Pilot Light." (Hi Vaughn, if you're reading this!) I connected very strongly with his piece because it discussed the "waiting is hell" concept and then gave a list of absolutely lovely ways to keep yourself afloat.

I don't yet know Vaughn well enough to know exactly what he's waiting on or what he's trying to do, but I do know this spoke to me as much as it did because of the WAY I'm waiting and how much waiting I'm doing. We writers wait a lot. We write and we revise and then we wait for feedback. Then we submit to agents and we wait for them to reject us (or, once in a glorious while, accept us). And then our agents submit our work to publishers and we wait for THEM to reject us (or, once in a glorious while . . . never mind). Followed by more waiting for feedback and more waiting for releases and more waiting for whatever else comes next.

As most of you know, I have a fiction series on submission and a nonfiction book on submission, so the waiting is doubly hard and I've definitely been looking for healthy ways of dealing with the stress. In fact, I wrote about being on submission back in May, rambling about a weird need to connect with other writers to help combat some of the nervous energy. Back then, I hadn't even signed with my second agent yet (for the nonfiction). It's gotten worse since then.

And then Vaughn shows up with this lovely post, recommending that writers do the following things to keep the pilot light burning:
  1. Reading
  2. Writing (something different from your usual writing)
  3. Revisiting/rereading older work
  4. Sharing your work with others
  5. Reaching out/connecting with other writers
I'm doing ALL of these things. And I already was before I read this, which really floored me. I'd sensed that I needed to fuel my mind and remind myself why I was trying to do this publishing thing (and stay in touch with the medium), so I started reading for an hour a day six days a week. I've been writing consistently; blogging, book reviews, arguments with jerks (haha), websites, my webcomics, essays, journal entries. I've been revising and rereading my old stuff; really, it's the projects that aren't on submission, fiddling around with them, or reading old blog posts and old comic issues. I've been sharing my stuff--I have new and old critique partners still checking out my work and offering feedback on it. And I've definitely been connecting with other writers--more than ever lately, through blogging and reading blogs, playing on Twitter, making friends on writing sites, and exchanging thoughts on books.

I thought, in order to give back a little, I might offer my additional ways to keep that light burning. Here they are.
  1. Helping others. As a person with an editing background, I'm well equipped to help other writers, and as an author who's signed with not one but two agents, I know my way around the querying process. I've been participating as a mentor in contests and help threads, helping people learn about querying and publishing options through creating YouTube videos and writing essays, and for my critique partners or writing friends, I've assisted on the development of their books. It increases one's ability to turn out more polished manuscripts, and it leaves you with a group of people who will never forget what you did for them, ready to support you when you need it.

  2. Doing other creative projects. I'm not just a writer; I'm a singer and a sort of passable artist, so I like putting these together with writing sometimes (or not). I do webcomics and share them. I sing songs and post them. I take photos, make websites, bake cookies. Some of y'all might enjoy other things like gardening or sewing or making candles. This can leave you feeling like you're still in touch with that essence that makes you a writer without burning you out by making you do it too often.

  3. Writing about writing. If I'm not in a head space to write new material, I might still enjoy offering my perspectives on writing or analyzing my own work. Find a character questionnaire and fill it out. Answer a survey about your writing habits. Do free-writing exercises involving characters from different books meeting each other or inserting one of your characters into a book you liked. Work on the background of your fantasy world--its map, its history, its invented language. Analyze your dramatic arc for fun or write your book's blurb, synopsis, or author bio (seriously or in a silly way).

  4. Catching up on what you've been neglecting. I don't know about y'all, but when I'm writing I fall behind on any media I want to consume, fall out of touch with friends more, fall way behind with housework, and indefinitely shelve projects. When I'm waiting for an answer on something, I can distract myself and revitalize myself by reconnecting with these fun pastimes or necessary evils, and it turns out to be very cleansing--making it that much more likely that I'll be ready to create again soon.

  5. Planning for the future. If I have a finished project going out to my agent and it's going on submission (i.e., exactly what's happened to me twice now, the second happening when I hadn't resolved the first), I can do things like look for other publishing opportunities for my short stories, decide what I'm going to revise next, do some pre-plotting or research on another project, and get my ducks in a row for whenever I'm ready to jump back in. Preparing to do something often isn't as intimidating as actually doing it, and if you lay the groundwork you're more likely to feel like you're ready to tackle it when the time comes, whereas if you're ready to tackle it but there's all this unsatisfying prep work to do, then you might continue to procrastinate.
And that's where I'll leave you with this. I hope my ideas hit someone in the sweet spot the way Vaughn's hit mine. :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Writing is NOT on the to-do list

After creating last week's giant to-do masterpost, The Dreaded To-Do List, I proceeded to download a task managing app for my lovely new phone. (Which is, by the way, a Samsung Galaxy S4. It's sparkly.)

I ended up being not so comfortable with the app and downloading a new one, and I haven't decided which one to use permanently so I've just kept them both. ::facepalm:: I'll figure it out. . . .

Anyway. I had three high-priority items on the list for the weekend: Complete a baby names list for my sister, apply some line edits for my asexuality book, and finish editing my NA novel. I threw those into the phone and then filled the task list with more goals and assigned frequencies to them. But since part of the reason I wanted to organize these goals was to get in more reading time and more writing time, I also added "read" and "write" to the list as daily items. This did not work out so well.

Reading is fine. I can sit down and read for an hour and stop when an hour is up. But writing doesn't work the same for me. I can't simply crowd it into an hour or assign it as a task. Many writers benefit from setting aside specific writing time, and that doesn't work in my world. I need to not see it as one of many things on the to-do list. It needs to be in its own category.

It needs to be my default state. The thing I'm ALWAYS supposed to be doing. It can't be something I feel like I "got done" once I add that satisfying check mark to it. It's always there. It's not on the to-do list because that would be like adding "breathing" to the to-do list.

Now I just need to act like it's just as essential as breathing. I don't want it to be a chore, or a goal. I just want it to be what I'm always doing.

I didn't finish the Finding Mulligan edits over the weekend. I almost did, but then interpersonal things cropped up and I had to address them. I finished the other two things. And all of my daily activities. Soon, I will go into breathing mode and try to write one of those short stories. I decided which one it's going to be. I've had it in my head for a long time. It should come out like butter.

In the meantime, I'd say editing one of my books and fine-tuning my craft is certainly writing-related, so I don't have to feel like working on it constitutes putting more important things off.

But I think I'm gonna take up stress eating.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Metabuddies and High Expectations

If you read my blog, you probably already knew I love Shannon Hale. I blogged about my love for her work some time ago in my "books I love" tag, and here and there I've made references and mentions of her books. I've absolutely loved all of her alternate-world gentle female-friendly fantasy written for young people, so I figured it would be a great idea to go check out her adult work.

So I'm reading The Actor and the Housewife. It is the story of a young housewife, Becky, who accidentally meets an actor, Felix, and they become friends. Friends, you say? Indeed! They are both married people (Becky with four children, too; in fact, she is pregnant when she meets Felix), and despite both being heterosexual people of the genders that are "supposed to be" attracted to one another, they find their relationship developing into something other than romance.

I love that Shannon Hale has chosen this as the central issue of her book, and I love how it is carried out. I love that Felix has been trained by society to assume that any positive feelings he has about a woman must be romantic or sexual, and that's very true to life. As an aromantic asexual woman myself, ALL of my relationships with men have been some kind of friendship, and it's so sad to me that people don't take "friendship" seriously as a lasting, committed relationship of any kind. This book shows how it can be done--how friendships don't have to be "more," or rather, that they don't have to be romantic or sexual in order to be important and real. I loved that Felix did not know how to have a friend because of what society had taught him, and how Becky and Felix figured it out together.

And that's where I am at this point. I have not finished the book.

At one point, I teared up. Not because of anything in the book, though. It was because of how much more of the book I have yet to go, and therefore, how much possibility there is for the story to go somewhere I don't want it to and take this away from me.

I'll probably feel silly for saying that when I finish the book. Shannon Hale has never disappointed me. Never. I trust her and I think I'm in good hands as a reader. But I'm already worrying that pressure from publisher expectations or some other agenda might have demanded that she take the conflict in a more traditional direction, ultimately driving home the message that no, this kind of relationship cannot work. I'm worrying that this relationship might be shown to destroy one or both of their marriages, or that it might reinforce those thoughts everyone seems to have about men and women being friends. That message doesn't need to be reinforced. I'm worried, reading this book, that it's teasing me with these wonderful messages about the importance and permanence of friendship and then it's going to take it all away.

I don't know where it's going from here, but if it ends in a satisfactory way, I am going to send a copy to my friend Jessie.

Jessie is one of my dearest friends. We are so alike in so many ways, with so much in common it's weird that we aren't related and didn't grow up together. She is one of the only people on the planet with whom I have had extended, detailed discussions about how important friendship is and why this concept of romance automatically outranking all other kinds of relationships needs to die. She understands the concept of "metabuddies" as presented in Shannon Hale's book. We've both been hurt by people who think the romantic line must be crossed before we deserve priority attention in someone's life, and we both find it offensive when people tell us women cannot be "just friends" with men.

You know what else we don't like? That "just" in front of "friends."

So here I am, partway through a delicious book, cautiously trusting because this author has never yanked the rug out from under me, but slightly world-weary when it comes to messages about relationships that support my core philosophy.

I hope I'll be able to close this book's back cover with a sigh of satisfaction and go buy a copy for Jessie.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Worst Is Over

I realized something amusing about how I write and I thought I'd share it with y'all.

No matter what stage of the game I'm in, I always convince myself that what I am currently doing is "the easy part," and focus on how hard all the other stages of the game are. Then, as I change to new parts of the process, I can congratulate myself on the parts I've already done (because now the hard work is over, whew!) and put the parts I haven't done yet out of my mind (because I'll tackle the actual HARD STUFF when I get there, right?).

It goes something like this.

  • First Draft: Pounding out the first draft is exciting and full of discoveries! It's the fun part! It doesn't have to be good right now. It can be total crap and I will fix it later! The real work will begin in editing, but for now, I just need to worry about getting the words out! So liberating! So freeing! 

  • Revisions: Analytical mode. So much less emotionally exhausting than actually writing the damn thing. Intellectually challenging, yes, but at least I'm no longer in the throes of Creativity Mode and I can calm down, take my time, and take stock of the situation. The Real Work™ is over!

  • Second Draft: Man, the book is so awesome now, thanks to all those ditches I dug in the previous step. That was some dirty work, but now it is OVER! All I have to do now is clean up all the smudges, make some decisions, and guide it with gentle hands. The Real Work™ will begin when people actually start tearing it apart and I have to wade through their feedback.

  • Collecting Feedback: What a snap. I just send it out to my interested test readers, sit back, and wait for their comments. If they say something I don't like, there are no rules saying I have to do what they say! So fun to finally be able to share it. It's only going to get better from here.

  • Final Draft: Well this is easy. All I have to do is polish this thing one more time. Just read it cover to cover. See if I can find anything still wrong with it. Make minor changes. Watch it getting all shiny. Develop confidence in its awesomeness. Sure do have sympathy for those poor saps who are still writing new content!

  • Submission: Sure, sending the book to my agent or seeing it go on to submission at publishers is stressful, but let's face it, everything else was a LOT harder. Waiting for news is no picnic, but at least I'm THROUGH tweaking the silly thing and I don't have to look at it again for a while. I've got it made!
There's another series of book-related troubles I have yet to be frustrated by--edit letters, professional feedback, line edits, contracts, waiting for the release, dealing with the feedback--but I'm sure I'll handle it much the same way. It's like lying on a bed of nails. The reason it works without killing you is that the weight is evenly distributed across a bunch of tiny pokey things. There is no ONE place that's just overwhelmingly hard unless you're trying to handle everything at once . . . and you can't be in that position, at least if you're only working on one book. (Being caught up in several stages of this process with several titles is a different story.)

Objectively, if I had to pick one I think is "hardest," I think I would pick the first round of revisions, because that's when you look at what you have barfed up and determine whether it can be salvaged, and then you have to deal with a LOT of mess if you decide in the affirmative. And I mean, I don't write completely indiscriminately or without a care for the future, but I do actively decide not to worry too much about things I know will need to be worried about eventually. It's the only way I can keep the flow going while I'm actively making new content, I think.

But I certainly don't admit that to myself when I'm in the process of first-round revisions. That would throw the whole thing off. :)

Any commenters want to say which part of the process they find most frustrating and how they deal with it?

Monday, September 16, 2013

30-Week Blog Challenge Week 3: Favorite TV Shows

I'm back with the Monday blog challenge! The lady in charge is Marie at Mom Gets Real. The questions are right here:


And Week 3's prompt is . . .

Favorite TV Shows!

Well, since I make lists of everything, I already have a list made up! I'll give you a little explanation of what each one is. It gets a bit long, so I will put a cut for the blog readers.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Books that have made me cry

So . . . I cry easily. I cry especially easily over fictional situations when they're well expressed and authentically rendered. Sometimes I bring my own baggage to the table and am probably crying more because of what it reminds me of/what it invokes rather than what's actually on the page, but it doesn't matter. If something happens in my head because of a book, I'm crediting the book, even if the prerequisites were necessary.

So I figured I would share with you fifteen books that have made me cry and a vague explanation of why.

  1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.
    Why: Jane's longing was so palpable sometimes, and when she lost people it was just so devastating that I was astounded that she could keep soldiering on.

  2. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler.
    Why: A character who protects other people at her own cost is frequently taught that no good deed goes unpunished, but she keeps doing it.

  3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
    Why: The protagonist's soulful, sort of innocent recitations made his longing and love so tangible, and sometimes the poignant way he phrased his feelings made them jump off the page for me.

  4. Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code by Eoin Colfer.
    Why: A character got injured and I thought he might be dead and/or unable to continue supporting the other characters. The protagonist's relationship with the injured character was deepened, beautifully.

  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
    Why: The protagonist buried her feelings a lot, so when they came out in fits of rage or torrential crying, you could really feel the nerves and the power behind it. The damage done to her from the beginning of her life was terrifying.

  6. The Wizard's Dilemma by Diane Duane.
    Why: The protagonist poured her time, her thoughts, her efforts, and her heart into trying to save someone and she couldn't do it.

  7. The Books of Bayern by Shannon Hale.
    Why: Throughout the series, the characters' fear, self-doubt, and complex emotions were so bitingly realistic. You could just sense the homesickness, horrible gut-wrenching fear, guilt, and love just rolling off the page.

  8. Roots by Alex Haley.
    Why: So much horror and disgusting treatment was rained upon people who did not deserve it, and then even when every imaginable indignity had been done, the main characters also had to be separated with finality in some cases from their parents, children, and spouses. And I cried because this really happened to people.

  9. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.
    Why: Mind-numbing loss and dehumanization permeated this book on several levels. The protagonist's rise to self-awareness about what has been done to him was so bittersweet.

  10. The Stand by Stephen King.
    Why: Well, lots of people I liked died in horrific ways, not to mention almost everyone on the planet died at the beginning of the book, also in a horrific way.

  11. A Separate Peace by John Knowles.
    Why: Death, again. Death and the mourning of those who were left behind.

  12. The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw.
    Why: Utter rejection from one of her peoples causes the protagonist to spend her life with the other half of her heritage, and she doesn't fit there either. No one likes her and she really has no allies. I'm glad this wasn't in first person because I don't think I could have handled reading it.

  13. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman.
    Why: The protagonist has to commit a sort of self-betrayal that really knocked me over for a while, followed by the realization of love only to find that it would torment her.

  14. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.
    Why: You can't not cry when you know the book is about a kid's dog dying. There are two dogs in this book. You do the math.

  15. The Cat series by Joan D. Vinge.
    Why: Freaking Cat and his self-hatred and selflessness. He learns to care before he learns to cope with it and it reads like the tail wagging the dog. The sick, dark losses he incurs in this book made me want to hide somewhere and cry for a very long time.

I don't necessarily cry over simply sad things. I cry over well-expressed, complicated, poignant emotions that make it possible to access the experience of a person who feels like they actually lived this. It's amazing when it happens and I hope I'm even half as successful as some of these writers at bringing my characters to life.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It was New Adult all along

I have a novel entitled Finding Mulligan and it's about a teenage girl going to college.

I wrote this book after my first attempt at Bad Fairy turned out to be monstrously long, striking gold with agents until they saw the word count. I figured hey, let me try a YA story, and maybe it will be shorter. Well, not only was it still not particularly short for YA (at 120,000 words or so), but it was apparently in a no-man's-land of book genres. It was a story set in college. No one wanted it.

And I was told so, with that reason cited, several times.

Of course, this was several years ago, before New Adult exploded onto the scene in the giant buzzword-powered wave we're seeing now.

It's clear to me now that I have written a New Adult novel. Today I read this article, which inspired my blog post:

Industry Perspective: New Adult FAQs

Several familiar names--mostly, for me, the agents--weigh in on what New Adult is all about and what they think, from a publishing-industry perspective. What struck me as interesting was that the agents kept stressing that New Adult is not Young Adult With Sex and that it is WAY more than a "romance genre," but the publishers seemed to somewhat disagree--all of them said they expect to see a major romantic plot. Hmm.

Well, I guess none of that is a huge deal to me, because my NA, Finding Mulligan, is indeed driven by its central romance. Cassie is just starting as a freshman in college, overjoyed to get away from her home life and out of the shadow of her younger sister, whose chronic illness has always forced her into the background. But she's also got a whole second life she's dealing with: At night, Cassie travels to a utopian dreamland where she has a secondary persona. There, she's known as Dia, and everyone in dreamland thinks she's amazing and awesome. But when she meets a hot guy named Mulligan in dreamland and finds out he has his own second life, she's determined to find his other self in the waking world. The plot thickens when she finds herself attracted to both of her most likely suspects, and she has to do some serious wrestling with her identity and confidence before she can execute her detective work and find her love.

There's no sex in it. There's some dorky longing and awkward flirting and attraction experiences that sound more like "tingles" and "warmth" and "flushed faces," but it's a pretty innocent book. The big reason a lot of people want to market as NA instead of YA is that their romances are more mature than anyone feels confident marketing to "kids," but I agree with some of the agents' perspectives in interpreting NA as books about what comes next, whatever that happens to be. Not everyone's maturation to adulthood and early independent adult years have to feature their sexual relationships, for God's sake. Cassie has just gone to college and is carving out her identity. That's about as quintessentially New Adult as I can fathom.

But what kind of bothers me is that I was told so many times that there was no place for this back when I was presenting it as YA (for lack of a better option). I was even told a couple times that the solution for my problem would be to uproot Cassie from college and stick her in a boarding school. That way, people said, I wouldn't have the stigma of having a college protagonist that nobody in publishing wanted to touch with a ten-foot pole, but I could still have Cassie living away from home as the plot required.

That would have been wholly inappropriate for the character. The things she did were college things. The mental place she was in was a brink-of-a-new-life now I'm an adult mindset. And on top of that, Cassie first becomes aware of Mulligan because of a painting on her bathroom door. Who in a boarding school is going to be allowed to paint a bathroom door and leave it there for a new resident to find? I mean, yeah, there are all kinds of plot points that could have been moved around, but why? Just so I could unnaturally squeeze the story into something that didn't scare agents, for a seemingly arbitrary reason? Why were they saying that college protagonists don't sell, anyway?

Well, I guess they were right, because agents have to be conservative; they have to follow the money and the publishing deals, and it's not them who are being close-minded. But now publishers are excited for New Adult. Something has changed in the industry so that what was once a leper of a book might now have an actual chance.

Just goes to show you . . . listen to yourself when it comes to the soul of your novels, and maybe a window of opportunity will open for you.

Maybe I'll be able to get this out there after all. . . .

Friday, September 13, 2013

Balancing Everything: The Dreaded To-Do List

I really like lists. I'm telling you. I love organization.

So I should probably put my skills to work to figure out my life and make some lists about all my obligations, hobbies, and tasks, right? So I can meet my goals and make some room for things I'm not currently able to do, right?

The goals here are twofold:

1. Maximize my time toward productive things.
2. Make more time for both reading and writing in the coming months.

I think I can do it! But let's look at my . . . well, rather immense load.

However, this is primarily an exercise for ME, and I imagine quite a lot of you won't be interested, so I am going to provide a cut for the blog readers and you can read more after the jump if you really want to see a LOT of unattractive, scary, overwhelming lists. But if the idea of seeing inside my brain and glimpsing what I'm wrangling appeals to you, well . . . don't say I didn't warn you!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Big Reveal on Titles

Just a heads-up that I'm on The Big Reveal with Literary Engineer today:

"What is the title and genre of one of your current stories?
How do you come up with yours and is it easy?"

Read answers from several writers here on the blog post.
What is the title and genre of one of your current stories?
How do you come up with yours and is it easy? - See more at:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Jumping Back In

So let me tell you a little story.

(Supposedly that's what I do best, right? Being a writer and all?)

A little over a year ago I signed with my fiction agent, Michelle. A while later we went on submission. We're pitching to very large publishers so sometimes the response times are VERY long. I didn't do what most people suggest you do while on submission--that is, I didn't get going on my next project. Not exactly.

You see, one good way to forget about the anticipation and anxiety of being on submission to the biggest publishers in the world is to distract yourself, and what better way to distract yourself than starting the next novel? Right?

For me, that was wrong. I couldn't do it.

Writing isn't something I do piecemeal. I don't "write ten minutes a day" or schedule special writing sessions that I keep religiously. I am a binge writer. The idea hits. I go.

And let me tell you, it is intellectually and emotionally exhausting to write the way I do.

Writing the way I do yields output that's close to ridiculous. My "record" is finishing a 155,000-word novel in two weeks. My longest book, at 255,000 words, took five weeks. I know what that process takes out of me and I didn't feel that I would be able to knowingly invite that torrential, violently productive experience when I was already emotionally exhausted from the side effects of being on submission.

(Sometimes writers will tell each other that there's no excuse, etc., but I would like to say nobody--even other writers--gets to say what I should be able to handle or how I should be organizing my output. I do what works for me. Do not tell me I'm not doing it right if I'm not doing what works for you.)

So what did I do instead? Well, I picked a different kind of project. I worked harder on my nonfiction projects and other hobbies. I started another webcomic; I wrote more articles on the topic of asexuality and got them published; I began in earnest to write a nonfiction book about asexuality and did research on writing proposals. I went to a conference to speak on the topic. I did and said things that kept getting me interviewed. And I began writing more articles and making more videos to help other writers with their querying and writing. This was a different kind of creativity. It was a good distraction. And it was time-consuming, but it paid off . . . in a weird way.

I began submitting my nonfiction book idea and I got signed to my nonfiction agent, Andrea. Suddenly that book was on submission too. Now I'm riding the wave for two very different books, to different publishers, through different agents. And it's maddening.

Platform is very important when it comes to making it in the nonfiction world, and sometimes the decision-makers think I'm borderline despite all the media attention and wide recognition of my work. (I even get recognized by strangers and excitedly thanked for what I do sometimes. Happened again just today, when a guy called out to me from his car when I was riding my bike to work, wanting to know if I was that girl from the documentary. Though I have yet to be asked for my autograph! Ha.)

I've felt that it's important to continue "performing" for the community, creating content, being available, being authentically engaged, contributing to the conversation. I don't want to stop doing that (though I guess I could spend a little less time on Tumblr!). I think it's vital to my nonfiction career and being in touch with the community I'm going to be representing with my book.

But . . . I need to figure out what I can do differently. Because even though the stress is sharper than ever, I've been away from writing fiction for a long time. I'm not afraid of it. I'm not procrastinating. I don't have writer's block. I don't make excuses about "not having time" for it. I just didn't think I could handle the sheer intensity of what writing stories is for me--not with everything else going on--and I wanted to spare myself the complete emotional exhaustion on a level that will probably exceed anything I've ever dealt with before.

The problem is that being away from writing fiction is emotionally exhausting too.

And I think I'm done.

My vague plan for now is to finish up some editing obligations, tackle a short story first to ease back into this, and finally, start the sequel to Bad Fairy. I will put together a list of my goals and intentions soon and post them here so I can have some accountability, and amidst the other blog posts I plan to do, I will filter in information on how it's going. Soon enough you guys will be watching me pound out a novel real-time, I hope.

Let's just cross our fingers that I don't regret this decision, because given what I know about myself and what I'm dealing with right now, there's a chance I could drown if I try this. I think the short story idea will help me test the waters.

We'll see if I sink or if I swim.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Radio Interview on WNPR

Today I was on the Colin McEnroe Show on WNPR in Connecticut. They did a spot on asexuality and I was one of four guests:
  • Kathy Way (asexual resident who lived locally and inspired the topic)
  • David Jay (founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network)
  • Anthony Bogaert (author of Understanding Asexuality and psychology professor)
  • Julie Decker (me!)
You can listen to the broadcast here. I weighed in on asexual discrimination and representation in the media; if you're listening for my part, I am brought in during the last quarter of the program.

Kathy Way: Photo by Chion Wolf
Kathy Way listens to the program locally and decided to send them a question about why they've never discussed the topic on their show. And they decided to do just that, inviting her on!

She discusses in the spot how she doesn't really engage with the asexual community herself, but that it was just very special to her to discover it existed and that she wasn't alone. David Jay agrees and says he felt very isolated growing up, and that's part of the reason he created the organization--to help people connect and understand that being the way they are could be just fine.

I appreciated that the person they included from the academic side was Tony Bogaert, because it happens too often that those "sex researcher" shoes are filled by someone who is given a platform to ramble about how we are probably repressed or not willing to accept our sexuality. Bogaert is always very supportive of our community and has actually talked to us and listened to us. It's great to have a non-asexual perspective from a learned person who isn't out to tell us we're wrong about ourselves.

I got to discuss how discrimination can look when it affects asexual people, what it means to so often be a punchline or be viewed as robotic and mechanistic, and whether there is asexual representation in mainstream media. It was a positive experience and I'm glad it turned out so well.

30-Week Blog Challenge Week 2: Favorite Movies

I'm back with the Monday blog challenge! The lady in charge is Marie at Mom Gets Real. The questions are right here:


And Week 2's prompt is . . .

Favorite Movies!

Ah well this is easy for me because I already have a list. ^___^ I make lists of everything! I'll give you a little explanation of what each one is.

  • (A)sexual (documentary about asexuality--I was interviewed in it!)
  • Anastasia (animated family film about a girl looking for her family)
  • Anchorman (very silly comedy about a news station full of quirky characters)
  • Adaptation. (drama about a writer trying to adapt a book to the screen and wrangle his brother)
  • Amélie (drama about an odd young woman searching for significance and connection)
  • Arise! (capsule understanding of SubGenius culture and propaganda)
  • BASEketball (comedy about guys struggling to invent a new sport)
  • Beetlejuice (comedy/supernatural about a dead couple whose house gets bought by new owners)
  • Being John Malkovich (comedy about what a puppeteer does with a portal into actor John Malkovich's head)
  • Benny & Joon (drama/comedy about a guy taking care of his mentally unstable sister)
  • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (ridiculous comedy about time-traveling valley guys who have to save the world after they die)
  • The Birdcage (comedy/drama--a newly engaged young man has to introduce his gay parents to his conservative fiancée's family)
  • The Brave Little Toaster (animated adventure about household appliances trying to find their owner)
  • The Breakfast Club (drama about five socially disparate characters having to share a Saturday detention)
  • Brokeback Mountain (drama about men who fall in love with each other during a summer job)
  • Chasing Amy (comedy about a man who falls in love with a lesbian)
  • Chicago (musical about a woman who kills her husband and thrives on the fame)
  • Choke (comedic drama about a sex addict and con artist with mom and relationship issues)
  • Clerks (comedy about twenty-somethings who work in retail on the worst and weirdest day ever)
  • Clerks II (comedy about the same guys later in their lives, working in food service and learning about settling down)
  • A Clockwork Orange (controversial drama about the moral implications of a man's criminal punishment)
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (Shakespeare-inspired comedic skits)
  • Contact (science fiction about alien contact and the drama surrounding building a travel vessel to meet them)
  • Dancer in the Dark (drama about a musicals-obsessed woman going blind who sacrifices everything for her son's eyesight)
  • The Dark Crystal (animatronic fantasy featuring gelflings on a quest to save their world)
  • Dead Poets Society (drama about an inspirational teacher who encourages students to seize the day)
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (mom/daughter drama about lifelong friendships and family)
  • Dogma (comedy about a team of misfits' quest to stop renegade angels from unmaking reality)
  • Dragon Half (silly fantasy anime about a half-dragon girl in love with a dragon-slaying celebrity)
  • Drop Dead Fred (comedic drama about a grown woman's imaginary friend helping her in her relationships)
  • Dune (science fiction about a messianic leader who revolutionizes the population of the desert planet)
  • Enchanted (a naïve Disney heroine gets transported into our world while looking for her prince)
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (comedic drama about a man who tries to have his ex-girlfriend erased from his memory)
  • The Fantastic Mr. Fox (stop-motion animation about a fox who can't resist risky burgling)
  • Far and Away (drama about coming to America for a new life and a new romance)
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off (comedy about a high school boy who gets away with everything in style)
  • Fiddler on the Roof (musical about how far tradition can bend before it breaks)
  • The Fifth Element (science fiction action featuring the Supreme Being saving the world and the cab driver who gets roped into helping her)
  • Fight Club (psychological drama about a man who finds a way to buck the system until it starts to buck him back)
  • Finding Nemo (animated undersea adventure featuring a protective dad fish trying to find his lost son)
  • Flight of the Navigator (science fiction about a boy who traveled in time trying to get back to where he belongs)
  • Forbidden Zone (bizarre musical about a family trying to rescue its members from the sixth dimension)
  • Galaxy Quest (science fiction about a man who plays a character on a sci-fi TV show finding out aliens are real)
  • The God Who Wasn't There (documentary about the historical Jesus)
  • The Goonies (family action featuring kids trying to find a treasure to save their neighborhood)
  • The Green Mile (science fiction about a prisoner with healing abilities and the guards whose lives he touches)
  • Groundhog Day (loopy comedy about a reporter who keeps living the same day over and over)
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (silly comedy about stoners with the munchies)
  • Harry Potter (fantasy about kids going to wizard school and fighting a dark wizard)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (science fiction about an Englishman who has space adventures, much to his own dismay)
  • The Hobbit (both the animated movie and the live-action; about a halfling on a great adventure to help his dwarf friends reclaim their homeland)
  • Holes (children's story about a boy with bad luck solving a treasure mystery with the help of a friend at a punishment camp)
  • Hook (family film about when Peter Pan grew up and had to save his own kids from Captain Hook)
  • I Married a Strange Person (fantasy animation about a guy whose imagination starts coming to life)
  • The Incredibles (computer-animation about a superhero family fighting a villain who hates their kind)
  • Into the Woods (musical about fairy tale characters and what happens after happily ever after)
  • Jeffrey (drama about a man who is about to give up on dating when he finds the man of his dreams--but he's HIV positive)
  • Jerry Springer: The Opera (opera about Jerry Springer's show and its guests)
  • Juno (offbeat comedy/drama about a teen girl's pregnancy and her relationships with the baby's dad and her baby's future adoptive family)
  • Kiki's Delivery Service (anime about a child witch who starts a broom-flight delivery service as part of her coming of age)
  • Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (silly martial arts parody featuring a nameless Chosen One and hilarious dubbing)
  • Labyrinth (fantasy adventure wherein a teen girl has to rescue her baby brother from a compelling Goblin King)
  • The Last Unicorn (animated fantasy where a unicorn has to find out what has become of the rest of her kind and liberate them)
  • A League of Their Own (sports comedy/drama about the first women's baseball leagues and the rivalry/relationship between two sisters)
  • The Legend of Bagger Vance (sports drama about an ex-golf pro who has to sober up and win with the help of a mysterious caddy)
  • Life of Brian (silly Monty Python story about a contemporary of Jesus)
  • Lilo & Stitch (animated tale of a Hawaiian girl and her sister adopting an alien posing as a dog, who helps them keep their family afloat)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (musical about a gardener who must defeat a plant from space that lives on blood)
  • Lord of the Dance (dance production featuring Irish dance and folklore on various themes of good vs. evil)
  • Lord of the Rings (fantasy trilogy about a hobbit who must save Middle-Earth from the Dark Lord, and the fellowship that supports him)
  • The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (SF/horror parody about a scientist whose quest to study atmospherium has him crossing paths with an ancient evil and some silly people)
  • Mallrats (comedy about a guy trying to get his girlfriend back and many other hijinks that happen at the mall)
  • Man of La Mancha (musical about Don Quixote and his quest to put right all that is wrong in his world)
  • Matilda (whimsical tale of a smart girl who develops unusual abilities and uses them to fight injustice on behalf of herself and her teacher)
  • The Meaning of Life (Monty Python's interwoven skits about existence in our nutty world)
  • Megamind (computer animation about two aliens: one's a superhero, and one's an evil genius who's surprisingly sympathetic)
  • Memoirs of a Geisha (drama about a woman who finds power and agency in her journey toward being a geisha)
  • Monsters, Inc. (computer animation about monsters who scare kids for energy getting saddled with taking care of a child)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Monty Python's crew is a silly group of knights looking for the holy grail)
  • Moulin Rouge! (musical about a man who falls in love during the process of putting on a play)
  • Mr. Holland's Opus (drama featuring a teacher who struggles all his life to focus on his compositions)
  • Mulan (animated tale of a woman who posed as a man to take her father's place in the Chinese army)
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding (comedy about a woman who marries a non-Greek man and deals with family hijinks)
  • My Girl (drama about the special friendship between a boy and a girl as they question life, love, and death)
  • The NeverEnding Story (fantasy about a book being a window into another world where a warrior fights The Nothing that's devouring his land)
  • Newsies (musical about newsboys fighting the corporate news machine)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (stop motion musical about the hero of Halloweentown finding Christmastown and Halloween-izing it)
  • Office Space (comedy in which a working stiff finds out what happens when he stops being a working stiff)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (drama featuring a man who pleads insanity to avoid prison and ends up revolutionizing the institution he's committed to)
  • Orgazmo (comedy about a Mormon who accidentally gets cast in a porn film while trying to make money for his wedding)
  • Phantom of the Opera (musical about a young woman rising to fame as a singer with the help of a "phantom" who gets jealous when she loves another)
  • Phenomenon (SF drama about a man who mysteriously develops unusual powers and finds himself the odd one out in his small town)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (nautical adventure of a cursed pirate ship that needs cooperation from various characters to lift its curse)
  • The Point (animated story of a boy with a round head born in a pointed-head society going into banishment to find his point)
  • The Princess Bride (comedy about a farmhand turned pirate who has to rescue his princess from being married against her will)
  • Project A-ko (anime movie series about a super-powered schoolgirl and her hijinks with aliens and mean girls)
  • The Rage in Placid Lake (comedic drama about a guy with hippie parents who rebels by getting a job as an insurance agent)
  • Rain Man (drama about a man who tries to use his autistic brother in a selfish plot, only to develop a better relationship with him)
  • Rat Race (comedy about a race between various quirky parties attempting to reach the prize first while gamblers bet on them)
  • Read or Die (anime about a book-obsessed woman with paper powers fighting resurrected cyber-geniuses from the past)
  • Rent (musical about friends battling illness, addiction, isolation, alienation, and inner demons)
  • Rise of the Guardians (computer animation about a group of imaginary beings recruiting Jack Frost to fight the boogeyman)
  • Robin Hood (Disney version--animation about an anthropomorphic fox version of Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor)
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show (musical comedy/horror about a couple who gets a flat tire and stumbles upon a bizarre party with a bizarre host)
  • Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (comedic drama featuring Hamlet's best friends having an existential crisis)
  • The Sandlot (inspirational sports story of boys playing baseball and nearly losing an important ball to a dog)
  • Saving Private Ryan (military film about a team of soldiers out to rescue a soldier whose three other brothers have already perished)
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (comedy in video game style about a guy who has to defeat seven even exes to win the girl)
  • The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (drama about four lifelong friends who battle big problems while sharing a pair of jeans)
  • Slumdog Millionaire (drama about an orphaned kid from the slums making it big on a game show because of his incidental knowledge gathered throughout his phenomenal life)
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (silly animation featuring vulgar kids who want to stop the USA from going to war with Canada)
  • Stranger Than Fiction (comedic drama about a man who discovers he's a character in someone's novel . . . and he has to stop her before she kills off his character)
  • Sweeney Todd (musical about a barber who kills people in the chair so his business partner can have meat for her pies)
  • Swing Kids (drama about rebellious boys from Germany during the WWII era, rejecting the evil of their regime by embracing swing music)
  • Talladega Nights (silly comedy about race car drivers and their charming family drama)
  • Tank Girl (comedic post-apocalyptic adventure featuring a girl who gets imprisoned for stealing water and teams up with mutants to fight the evil regime)
  • Team America (computer animation about an offensive group of Americans who try to save the world from a dictator)
  • Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (comedy about how a rock duo met and decided to steal a special Satanic guitar pick that would assure their success)
  • To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (a comedy featuring drag queens who face culture shock when they get stuck in a small town as their car is being repaired)
  • The Tune (animated movie about a man who goes on an existential journey while trying to write a song to save his career)
  • 12 Monkeys (science fiction about a man who must time travel to the past to get a sample of the virus that ruined the future)
  • UHF (comedy about a man who inherits a radio station and makes it popular, only to incur the wrath of the big stations)
  • Unbreakable (science fiction about a man who is guided to discover he's a real-life version of comic superheroes and must protect others)
  • Up (computer animation about an old man who honors his wife by going on a final great adventure with a pesky but lovable tagalong)
  • V for Vendetta (dystopic science fiction about a woman assisting a mysterious anarchist in plots against an evil government)
  • Waiting . . . (comedy about the food service industry and all the frustrations of working in a restaurant)
  • Watership Down (animation about rabbits driven from their home trying to find a new home)
  • Waterworld (post-apocalyptic science fiction adventure about a world that's become almost complete ocean and a mariner who helps a woman and child find paradise)
  • The Whale Rider (drama about a Maori girl trying to become a leader while struggling against sexist beliefs her grandfather holds)
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (musical about kids who win a ticket to a candy factory competing to see who will inherit it)
  • Wizards (animated film about twin wizards with different agendas in a post-apocalyptic wasteland)
  • X-Men (science fiction adventure series about mutants with unusual abilities battling prejudice and each other)
  • Zoolander (comedy about a model who has to team up with his rival to fight an evil clothing designer)