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A Day in the Life (3)

a day in the life

Hey y'all!For those of you who haven't seen this feature before, I started A Day in the Life just to give y'all updates on what I'm reading, thinking, and what's going on in the bookish world! I hope y'all enjoy! A LOT has been going on with me recently and I'm reading three books at once so I have a lot to say! Here goes:The Books:

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan - I'm reading this one at the moment and my feelings are kind of mixed. On one hand, I love the idea of the story and I ADORE stories that take place in New York City. But it's taking forever to get really started with any kind of action and it's just gotten kind of boring. Honestly, I want to be HOOKED. Hopefully, this improved. Andrea Cremer tends to use a lot of world-building and while that's excellent in fast-paced books and extravagant books such as Nightshade, it doesn't really work that well when combined with a slower plot. I'll finish reading it this weekend and let y'all know what I thought!The Life:Chorus and friends are honestly taking over my life right now. My chorus teacher has this crazy idea that chorus should be the number one priority in our lives and I've had rehearsal so much. Last week, we had Madrigals, a Renaissance-style musical/concert that involved us dressing up as peasants. (See the Twitter picture if you don't believe me.) Friends are being confusing but there's not really that much I can do about that but try to be supportive while wishing that I could be curled up in the corner with a book. I also have a ton of writing things going on (see "The News" below). The problem is that I don't really want to get that involved with my school because there's a chance that I might leave it and at this point, I want to. I enjoy it enough but I really don't like certain parts of it and Interlochen sounds like a fantastic opportunity for me.The Posts:I recently wrote a post Silver Linings: Writing that basically covered all of the writing things that are going on right now for me. It explains what I think about my writing, Interlochen, NaNoWriMo, and more.Last Friday, I revealed the cover for Fanged Princess on the blog. Check out this gorgeous and gothic cover!The News:Today, I won my school's Poetry Jam with my poem "Wallflowers". It's not quite the version that I uploaded on my blog a few weeks ago, but it's close. This means that not only was I lugging around my 1st-place trophy all day, but I'm going to be my school's representative in the District competition. Like I said above, I'm a little hesitant about getting too involved in my school now, and also, I don't want to focus on poetry and whatnot. One of the strengths of Interlochen as opposed to just entering local writing contests is that I feel like that makes me more limited. I do want to focus on novel-writing but frankly, the arts programs down here aren't amazing. They're enough, but I feel like it's just a much better community for me if I attempt to go to Interlochen.The other news: I'm applying for an Interlochen scholarship. Interlochen is an incredible performing arts boarding school filled with passionate young artists. They're currently running a scholarship contest (The Virginia B. Ball Scholarship Contest) and it's one of the only chances that I have to actually get my parents to look at the school.I don't really know. Also, I want to also focus on editing and publishing instead of devoting ALL MY TIME to writing. While writing short stories and poetry is awesome, the publishing business for YA books and whatnot is what I want my life to be devoted to instead of that other writing scene. There's a difference. I'm entering the Interlochen competition and if I'm a finalist, I'm going to figure out what to do from there so that I can get the best of both words.I've also been editing a TON recently. There's an amazing editing opportunity for me coming up in January (that I'm unsure whether I can disclose or not) so I've been critiquing a lot more than I usually do for practice. I definitely want to keep immersed in editing as well as blogging and writing. I love writing, but I want publishing and that world to take precedence over that.I'm saving up to go to BookExpo America (because there may be an opportunity for me to take exams early and be able to go!), as well as normal camp and Interlochen camp. I want to go to all three, which is really expensive obviously. I think I'll be able to because I really only have to pay for BEA, but I'm still basically not going to be buying much in the spring (ahh! book budget!).Other:

Riffle is so unbelievably awesome. It's like Wanelo, but with books! You can create lists of books, recommend books, be "interested" in books, or "finish" books. It's like a mixture of Pinterest and Goodreads! Social media for book nerds - I think yes! I'm a beta user right now and I'm absolutely in love with it. You definitely know what I'll be doing this weekend!That's it for A Day in the Life this week! Thanks so much for reading! I hope y'all enjoyed!Grace

Silver Linings: Writing

Silver Linings

With the beginning of December comes the end of NaNoWriMo and the beginning of deadlines. Last month and this month have been HUGE writing months for me. I love reading more than life, but my true calling is writing. I love untangling words and letting them pour out of the deepest parts of my soul. I love imbuing descriptions and ideas with my emotions. I just love love love writing.NaNoWriMo was kind of a flop for me. I won, but just barely. I did plot a lot of my WIP though and I'm really excited about it. I've started two other WIPs in the past and both only got to about 30k before I got bored. They were sprawlingly drafted and I just got so frustrated with them being awful during first drafts. In my current WIP, Madly, I'm still inspired. I've been sitting on the idea since (March?) and new inspiration keeps flowing. I'm starting to get the hang of understanding how to connect all the elements together and just getting it out of my head. Even if I don't finish Madly, it's taught me a ton about how to draft and I just want to share the story. I did get to 50k with NaNo and my goal is to finish it by January 10th so I can say that I've written a book before I turned fifteen.I don't really like disclosing to people in Tampa that I'm working on a manuscript because nobody really would take it seriously. The other day at a chorus performance, a girl heard that I was involved in the publishing and writing community. She tried to pitch me her book and people were just giving her crazy looks. People usually react like that when you tell them. It's like, unless you've finished one or published one, it doesn't matter. Especially if you're my age and have a passion for it. People tell you that it's great that you're doing it, but they don't wholeheartedly believe in it.Anyways, the reason I'm writing this post isn't because of Madly or NaNoWriMo. It's about short stories and poetry and other shorter works. There are so many writing competitions coming up for me and one major one that I'm really interested in entering. I've entered writing contests before and I've won a ton of them (I don't mean to sound full of myself in saying this, but I've won or been a finalist in every contest I've entered in the past two years, which has been quite a lot) and I'm ridiculously nervous.I've been getting into poetry recently, mostly due to Amy McNamara and her excellent book Lovely, Dark, and DeepI read that she was a poet and you could definitely tell that it influenced the novel. I absolutely fell in love with her writing and her wording and was interested in getting into poetry. Another reason is because of Interlochen. The first exposure that I really had to poetry was Shel Silverstein when I was younger and the excerpt from one of Rilke's poems in Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater. Many of my favorite authors are poets but I wasn't really interested.After reading Lovely, Dark, and Deep, I asked Amy for poetry recommendations and she gave me an amazing list. I stalked Goodreads and the Book Depository for hours, unsure which books to start with. One of the things that I noticed about my personal style was that I really enjoyed synesthesia in poetry and interesting phrasing. I love verbs paired with ideas that they aren't really supposed to go with, and personification. I love the type of writing that you find on blogs like this one and adore lots of description.The first poetry book I actually read was The Poetry of Rilke translated by Edward Snow and it is excellent. I mostly read it in one go, but if I didn't have much time, I'd read a poem at a time. I really enjoy his description and he has a very calming voice to me. When reading poetry, I've also been getting into writing poetry.Two of the contests that I'm entering involve poetry and poetry suits my writing. I'm a very lyrical writer (at least, I'm pretty sure, judging by my personal appraisal of my voice and what others have said) and enjoy using lavish description. I struggle a bit with being concise because I tend to write very long, flowery works. That's something that I really need to work on, but my description and emotion is one of  my strengths.One of the contests is my school's Poetry Jam. It's this Thursday and I'm attending. A poet will be there. We're going to workshop, polish our poems, and then perform them. The poems will be judged by guest judges and the student with the highest score will represent my school in the District Poetry Jam. I really want to be the representative, even though I'm a freshman. Also, Starbucks is providing coffee for us - score! I'm really nervous because I can't decide which poem to perform and I really want it.I'm using Poetry Jam as an opportunity to polish one of my poems for Interlochen.Interlochen. The real reason I'm terrified this month, and writing so much.For those of you who have no idea what Interlochen is, it's a prestigious boarding school for the performing arts in Interlochen, Michigan. Their creative writing department is supposed to be amazing. Also, it's a community of teenage artists who are just as passionate about their art as I am.I got the packet for Interlochen in the mail a few weeks ago. I was aware of the school, but I heard of the scholarship and was thinking about applying. It took some convincing for my parents to even let me go for the scholarship, but I'd beat myself up if I didn't even try. I like my school now, but nobody else is as passionate about anything as I am. I just want to have the option to look at it as a serious possibility. Since it's really expensive and my parents are already wary about looking at boarding schools, it would be the only way that I could seriously look at the school. I told my parents that I was going to enter, and if I was announced as a finalist in January, I'd talk with them about the school. I have a friend whose older brother attends and he is in love with the school. It just sounds incredible.I'd really like to improve my writing. I have a few questions about the school and how much of my writing would change, but first I have to enter. The portfolio requires 3-4 poems (I'm writing four) and prose adding up to less than 5,000 words. I'm pretty sure I know which pieces that I'm entering, but some of them are just ideas that I actually have to write. The rest, I have to revise. The Poetry Jam will be a great opportunity for me to polish my poems and see what I need to work on before giving my portfolio to critique partners to look over and give feedback on. I just really want to at least be a finalist. The school is still just a vague possibility, but I'd like for it to be more concrete and that's the way for it to happen. It's ridiculously competitive and I want this so badly.I really love writing and words take up my life. I don't just love words. I need them.Wish me luck! I've been really absent on the blog recently and I feel SO guilty about that. I've been writing and stressing and working on other things but I'm trying to be more on about that. I'm going to work on Interlochen and poetry jam and several other contests that I'm entering. Excuse me while I go panic. Let me know if y'all want to see any of my work and I'll post it on the blog when I'm done polishing it! Interlochen portfolios are due on December 15th and I'm absolutely terrified. Love y'all!Grace

Silver Linings: Expectations in YA

Hey y'all!This is something I've been musing over for a while. There are all these events and ideas and people  that have been put in my head from YA books. There's a lot of things that have frankly disappointed me because I read about them being life-changing and magical and utterly spectacular. There's going to be some opportunity or change happening in a character's life. But there are a lot of days where nothing happens whatsoever. I think YA should deal with this more. This is brought to mind because I went to Homecoming this weekend (Homecoming was amazing! It wasn't one of these events; it just made me think of them!) and that's something that's been written about in YA books for a while.I don't necessarily mean unrealistic expectations in a book are bad, because I actually really enjoy them. It's just that they're so DIFFERENT from everyday experiences.Expectations for YA books and expectations in real life are two entirely different things, but they shouldn't be all the time. If you're writing for teens, wouldn't it make sense to try to stick as realistically to it as possible? A person can't never do homework and still be the smartest person in the class. It simply doesn't make sense. And yet these characters are created - these beautiful, flawed characters - and they have conflicts but they don't often deal with the monotony of life.Things go wrong, but they're perfectly calculated wrongs. They don't screw with your perceptions of your experiences and there is no mention of the thoughts that press in on your brain because you can't stop thinking of everything you have to do and everything that's going on. There's no mention of that because it isn't relevant to the plot.We have these expectations for YA books. There will be an instant connection between the protagonist and the love interest, kisses that sweep them off their feet. I personally don't mind instalove that much. It's one of those staples of YA that occurs in many books. The problem with those things is that I end up having ridiculous expectations.I expect that life and homework and being social won't be the problem. It won't be a struggle every day to try to scrounge up a blog post and study for my math test. Those things are hardly ever mentioned in YA. YA focuses on the romance, on the action, and of the experiences that I won't ever get to have because I'm stuck doing work for a good portion of my day. I expect that I can actually go out and change the world while still balancing homework and a blog. Really, how often do you read of heroines doing homework? The only example that I can pull to mind at the moment is Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton.When I had my first kiss, I cried. I got in the car and cried. It wasn't bad or anything, but it just caught me by surprise and was with a guy that I had only known for about a month. I had been building it up. I wasn't expecting it to be amazing - I was expecting it to feel right and all it made me do was realize exactly how little I knew this person. Then I turned around and handled it badly on top of that. YA books had made it seem normal and didn't mention how comfortable you had to be with a person to kiss, or to talk to them about something you think about all the time, or even just to go through those teenage milestones.I personally know some girls who kiss guys because they should - because people are saying they should get together or because he's attractive. But heroines in YA novels? The shy ones, unsure and awkward ones? They should have been unsure about it at least. At the very least, confused, and not just in an I-don't-know-which-attractive-boy-to-choose way. I don't think that this is a requirement for all YA novels, but I wish there were more mentions of the confusion and awkwardness of couples in teenage years. That's one experience that YA didn't prepare me for having.I try to look at this from a writer's perspective. In all of the writing books that I've read, it's mentioned to leave out unnecessary details. It's a general rule of writing. While I understand this, it also leaves out a lot of really important little details that really make the story.I was actually talking about this with Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal, and I just love books that really emphasize the little details. It's the little things that make you like a person. It's the little things that really make your day and make you feel like you're doing something. Something so insignificant can have a huge impact on you, and it's strange that YA can forget about this sometimes. It's all perfectly streamlined to make sense to the plot and for the individual story arc, but sometimes the story arc isn't everything.There are a few reflective books that deal with this well. There are books that simply deal with coming-of-age and aren't all plot related. The boy and girl don't  have to get together for the book to work; not everything has to fall into place. There are plenty of character-driven books that still have a plot but don't focus on this. I'm not saying that the characters are better or any more complex or anything. I'm just saying that these books DO focus on the little things. They do incorporate the everyday struggles of being a teen. They show the ugly sides of things. Their first kisses aren't perfect; they make mistakes and screw up in ways that aren't necessary to the plot.I'm just saying that a lot of what I came to high school expecting to find didn't happen. I thought that I would be sure of my friend group because even though the heroines end up with new friends, they're certain about them. I have so many questions about it - if you're unsure about something, is that okay? Should you walk away or should you keep fighting for it? How do you KNOW if something is right? There's always a conflict but how do you know if you're supposed to go for it? How do you know if something is right? Is it supposed to feel right? All these questions weren't dealt with in many YA books because it feels right to them then. There aren't the little insecurities pricking at them like mosquitoes at every second about everything. They aren't trying to escape their thoughts. There's always something going on. None of this has happened in my life. Maybe it's different for y'all, but this post is coming completely from personal experience.I expected things to feel different. I expected to be sure of myself, or at least to be on the way to that happening. Something is supposed to happen in situations like this; something always happens in YA books. But the truth is, what if nothing happens? What if the insecurities stay? What if my friend group doesn't settle? What if I don't end up falling for somebody? What if nothing happens for four years? I just wish for once that a book would deal with these imperfections in all the little parts of life and create a more realistic perception of this confusion. I keep expecting for something to happen but what if it doesn't? YA doesn't cover this part of being a teenager.What do y'all think? 

Silver Linings: Censorship

Hey y'all!I'm here today to talk about something that's very important to me. If you're a blogger or an avid blog reader, you may have seen many of these posts this week. This week is Banned Books Week, a week celebrating the right to read.As a teen, a reader, and a person, I can't stand the thought of anybody trying to ban books from me. Books are how I learn about the world. I'm fourteen, and while that may just seem like a number to you, it means that a lot of people try to protect me from the world and people don't necessarily believe in how serious I am.One of the many problems with banning books is that without books, you aren't exposed. Being exposed is not the same thing as being vulnerable. It makes me angry when people try to "shelter" teens from the things in books. Do you not realize that we're exposed at school every day? That we don't have drinkers, pregnant teens, and stoners in our classes? That we don't know what sex means or how drugs can impact you? It may be considered more "adult"  knowledge but we have the right to know. We already don't know enough about the world at the moment. Let us know.An argument that I always use when people try to say that young adult is "inappropriate" or that I shouldn't be reading a book because of content is that I'm curious. Wouldn't you rather me read about something than go out and do it? Reading about a teen whose pregnant and understanding deeply how it affects her life scares me. Being exposed to these things through book instead of in life doesn't make me vulnerable; it protects me. I take pride in the knowledge that I'm aware of the consequences that my actions can easily have and through reading, I understand those. Reading about a girl similar to me who wrecks her life through a reckless decision makes me aware of the impact of my actions. Banning this from teens is morally wrong. Lack of knowledge wrecks lives, not too much knowledge (at least for me).When is censorship ever a good idea? Plus, it's not  a permanent solution; it's temporary. Those adults worrying about how much their sons and daughters should know are seemingly oblivious to the fact that in a few years, we'll be adults. We'll be living in this world considered too dangerous to know about.I used to sneak books from my older sister and from my family. I read The Lovely Bones and Go Ask Alice and Speak at shockingly young ages. Many parents would probably be horrified by my age. The thing is that I was thirsty for knowledge and eager to know about the world. I don't consider myself any less innocent or worse off because of it. I have the awareness to understand when a book is too inappropriate for me and when I should read it. I know that there are some things that I don't want to know about yet and that yes, ignorance can be bliss. I'm not saying that not knowing should be condemned. I'm saying that teens should be able to have the choice what knowledge that they have and what experiences they can read about. Chances are that they're going to be exposed to those experiences soon enough anyways.While some teenagers that I know make extremely reckless and life-altering decisions, I'm confident in my beliefs and morals. I think that it's because I've been allowed to know the pros and cons of all these things through reading about people like me going through the same dilemmas. When confronted with drinks, drugs, or sex, I have the uttermost confidence in myself that I will make the right choice because I've read about it.Many of my favorite books are books about scary choices and life-changing experiences. Many of my favorite books are banned books. I shudder to think about which books I never would have been able to read and what kind of person I would be if I hadn't read those books. If I hadn't understood the character with every fiber of my soul and completely connected. If I hadn't gone through those experiences, if only in my head. I wouldn't be who I am now, that's for sure.Last year, I read Fahrenheit 451 in my English class and was completely horrified. The kids in my class watched my reaction through the book burning scenes and I'm sure that I must have given them a good show. I thirst for knowledge; I want to know about the world, whether it's bad or good. Reading a fluffy book won't make me a better person. Reading books that expose me to the world -make me think- are the books that I remember and the books that change me for the better. Who are these people to take these rights away from us? Who are these people to say what teens can and cannot handle? Ignorance is the cause of many problems. Imagine how much better society would be if everybody read about these dangers without going out and participating in them first. That's what books have done for me. They've exposed me to the world without making me vulnerable.Banning a book has no benefits. What use is an ignorant world? Teens deserve to have the right to read and have access to knowledge. Who are these people to decide that a teen can or can't handle the content of a book? What content is truly bad anyways that teens aren't already exposed to in their everyday lives? What kind of choices would at-risk teens have made if they knew how their lives could change, through books? The world is a scary place. We know that. But it doesn't have to be ignorant.Teens are the next generation. By knowing about these things, we can plan ahead and gain more perspective about how these things can easily shape our lives. It's amazing to me - in an awful way - how people can honestly believe that censorship is a good idea. It baffles me completely. I could go on about this topic for hours and take up pages, but I'm trying to slim down my posts a tad and I also just don't want to completely all out rant about it. Censorship is wrong; reading about the good AND the bad things have made me a better person. I just...I don't understand how somebody could think that taking this knowledge away from teenagers would be a good idea.Celebrate Banned Books Week!Love y'all!Grace

Silver Linings: Mood and Setting

Overall, mood is probably my favorite thing in a book. Beautiful writing doesn't do as much for me unless I'm transported back someplace. I can feel the wind or sensations that I associate with better times and different parts of myself. I love finding a book that just gives me certain feelings that I can't even begin to put into words. Mood for me means making me feel vivid sensations and not reading a book, but experiencing it.Think back to when you've felt most alive. Think back to those rare feelings that you have, the sensations that you only get to experience once a year. That dark little thrill around Halloween, settling in with candy and watching Halloweentown as it slowly gets colder outside. There's this FEELING that comes with Halloween that never happens every time of the year and I love books that capture that feeling. Around this time of year, I start hunting for those books that capture that mood. It's the same for me with winter and the beach - there are some books that I just NEED to read around that time of year to get that feeling again.This post is spurred by Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Amy McNamara, my current read. It's filled with so much mood and sensation. It's quiet, calm, and sad. The mood perfectly matches the setting; all of it is just so perfect. It's such a mood-and-setting book and it's exactly what I've been wanting in a book.Recently, I've been aching for a fall book. I want a book that just screams classic fall: vivid leaves, fall festivals, hay rides and the smell of apples and cinnamon. I've been annoyed with Florida weather because up north, people actually get seasons. I want a book that contains the season of fall. Every year around Christmas and Halloween, I do a major rereading session of all the books that remind me of those seasons. For example, I read Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater and Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins because they remind me of the feeling that I get around Halloween.There are some phrases and some writers who just manage to capture those moods perfectly. Sometimes I just want to be transported again to the first time when I read that book, when I was caught up in the story and completely forgot about my own world. I love reading those books where I'm just experiencing the same things that the characters are.There are even a few books where it's just a particular scene that I'm in love with. In I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, when Number Four and Sarah are at the carnival or festival and they go on the haunted hayride? For some reason, that scene just reminds me so much of fall. I want Halloween books around Halloween, fall books in fall, winter books in winter, and mermaid books at the beach. There are some books that are just so purely that mood that I can't help but reread them whenever I yearn to experience that sensation again. I just crave books like that.Give me mood and I'm hooked. And setting? If you've got a good setting, I'm pretty much guaranteed to love the book.For example, boarding school. Set a book at a boarding school and I'm pretty much in love. Granted, there are exceptions to this rule (Private by Kate Brian, for one, but that's mostly just because I'm not usually a fan of drama books) but I'm constantly on the search for new boarding school books. I read a lot of paranormal boarding school books as well (Hex HallFallen) because I love the setting and the genre.I'm also a sucker for the small towns. I want to live in New York, but I wish that I grew up in a small town. While reading Burn for Burn by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han, I would kill to live on that tiny island. I feel like I would get so annoyed if I grew up in a small town but I would love to live in one now. I love the idea of it. Festivals and events and community and all that. I would love to live in a picturesque small town, the one that you read about in books or you see in movies.When I was younger, I wanted to live in a small town by the ocean. My point is that I love reading small town books now just because I love the classic feel of them. Lovely, Dark, and Deep is set in a small, wintery town by the ocean. The mixture of snow and ocean as a setting just kills me. I'm in love with it! The setting perfectly matches Wren's emotions and it just makes for an incredible experience.Setting and mood are the number one most important traits in a book for me. I appreciate beautiful writing but it has to weave in the mood and setting. I'm a sucker for imagery, even purple prose. As long as it paints a picture in my head, I'm good. The most beautiful writing for me is the writing that can transport me back with only a few words.The point of this blog post is just to talk about those books that remind you of certain feelings and settings. What are your Halloween books? Are they different from your fall books? What books do you read that just serve as a tugging reminder to a certain memory? Which books do you read when you want to experience something again? Which books just paint such a vivid picture in your head of a particular time that you just have to reread them again? Are setting and mood the most important traits for you?