Friday, August 31, 2012

A Writer Is A Gunner

Because it's been a while since I've posted and will be a bit longer until a real post, I am posting this quote. Here you go:

“...writing becomes a question of learning to make occasional wing shots, bringing down the bird of thought as it flashes by. A writer is a gunner, sometimes waiting in the blind for something to come in, sometimes roaming the countryside hoping to scare something up. Like other gunners, the writer must cultivate patience, working many covers to bring down one partridge.”

This is from Strunk and White’s book The Elements of Style. Very helpful book. You should get it. Yup. Have a fabulous Labor Day! The end.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Interview with Teens: Part DOS

8. How has your writing evolved since you started writing?

Dakota: Well, it's not written in crayon anymore, for one thing. Haha, I use a computer now, instead of scribbling in notepads held together with tape. Erm, I suppose it's become more mature, hopefully more in-depth and involving....but probably not. ;)

Bria: My voice has certainly improved as I’ve been writing. When I first started to write consistently about two years ago, I was childish in my writing. I liked to make my writing seem clever by telling jokes. Of course, this didn’t make my writing clever; it only made me look stupid for sacrificing the story for petty jokes. And now, instead of that, I sound like this. Let me tell you: this is much improved. The only way this evolution in my writing came about is because I write, so write. There’s no way to become better at writing if you never write.

Ravena: I used to fill up notebooks. Now I use a laptop. (On a serious note... I like to think I've gotten better, that I'm using less unnecessary words and am able to end up a piece of writing which is closer to what I imagined in my head. I can't really say though. I mean, it happens over such a long period of time, evolution, that sometimes it seems like nothing has changed at all. Oh no wait... nothing has changed at all. I still write like I did when I was eight. *Cries.* Let's move onto the next question :)

Elizabeth: My writing evolves constantly as I get older and my writing improves. It also evolves based on my current major influences and inspirations, as well as my experiences.

9. How do you feel about teens being published/self-published?

Dakota: It's awesome!! :D I applause them with a vigor spurred by both jealousy and pride. I SALUTE THEE, SIR!! And madame. ;)

Bria: Respect. I am nowhere near publishing anything (besides blog posts). I have so much respect and admiration for teens (anyone, really) who can control and motivate themselves enough to not only finish something, but to publish it too. If you’re reading this and you’ve published something: you’re awesome!

Ravena: OMG I AM SO PROUD OF THEM I WANT TO GIVE THEM ALL A GIANT HUG. Good for them for proving the stereotype all teens are lazy dodobrains (yes I made that word up) is wrong.

Jane: I think it's awesome, but only if they have talent. I'm always drawn toward books written by teens, I feel that they have a pulse on how teens actually think, and do. Better then a 30 year old woman. I'm not saying that the 30 year old woman doesn't have any talent, but sometimes a teen just hit's it on the nail.

Elizabeth: I think it’s great that teens are published. It’s valuable experience, and it shows that creativity isn’t restricted by age.

10. How do people react when you tell them you write, if you tell them at all? If you don't like to talk about it, why?

Dakota: If I tell them, they're usually like, "Oh, that's cool. What do you like to write?" If I don't tell them, it's b/c I don't think they'll care/appreciate it, or b/c I'm still insecure/self-conscious about what I'm writing. Also b/c doing something, no matter what it is, without anyone knowing about it, gives whatever you're doing a secretive, dramatic, spy-like feel, and makes it 10x more fun!! :D

Bria: People know that I like to write, but not many people realize that I want to be a writer. This is probably partially due to one of my friends. You see, I told one of my best guy friends that I wanted to be a writer. He looked at me and he was confused. “Why?” he said. I told him, but the confusion didn’t go away. “Why would you want to do that?!” …yup. Just so you know: this guy is not a jerk. Some people just don’t understand.

Ravena: I hate telling people I write, unless they're other writers.  People don't understand how much it means to me, or they generally tend to think I'm strange (I've only talk about it with a few of my closest friends (hi Asli, Mariana and Jodie) plus my mum but she doesn't count.) I guess I don't want to bring it up, because I feel weird.

Jane: I don't really tell people. Writing is more of a hobby for me, then a serious thing. When I tell my friends there okay with it. I don't really bring it up, because it's kind of hard to bring it up without bragging, so I don't unless I'm asking for advice or trying to work out a plot point.

11. How would you like people to treat teen writers?

Dakota: As equals? As interesting people that matter? As individuals with more things to say and more creative ways to say it than most people realize? Something like that, I suppose.

Bria: Respect would be nice. And encouragement. We are going after our dreams and an awareness of that would be awesome. Awareness by way of less homework would be especially nice. Hint, hint, cough, cough.

Ravena: Like royalty. Only joking (a little.) I would like people to encourage teen writers, but take us seriously too. Is that possible?

Elizabeth: People should give teen writers a chance. We don’t all write high school dramas or vampire novels. There are some extremely gifted young writers who are just as good as older writers and they deserve to be taken as seriously as anyone else.

12. What is acceptable content for a teen to be writing in your opinion? (Eg. genre, romance elements, age etc.)

Dakota: Hmm, anything but smut. SMUT MUST NOT BE WRITTEN!! BY ANYONE!!! EVER!!! But especially by teens. Mature (in body) and independent as they may be, THEY'RE STILL JUST KIDS!! Basically, anything you wouldn't want your parents, or grandparents, to read, you probably shouldn't write it.

Bria: I don’t know. I’ve never thought about this. Generally, I don’t write characters who are older than me, because I don’t know if an eighteen-year-old will have different thoughts than little sixteen-year-old me. But that’s just me.

Ravena: I think anything is acceptable. Teens know about the goodness and the badness in the world, and all the little bits in between. They should be able to write whatever they want.

Jane: Basically anything, except hardcore erotica or any romance novel where the characters aren't teens.

Elizabeth: In terms of content, I hate smut in books from any age, but I think it’s something teens especially should avoid because it reaffirms stereotypes about young writers.

13. What advice do you have for teen writers who are just starting off?

Dakota: Hm...For starters, ignore the doomsayers, or course. ;) And, DON'T be like me, meaning that you should have a writing schedule, even if it's just, "I will write 100 words this week," or, "Every Tuesday at 6, I will sit down and write for 15 minutes." It doesn't have to be a lot. Hm, what else? Write whatever you like (yet remembering what I mentioned before), however you like. Sci-fi in a notebook, fantasy on the computer, mystery on you iPod. Whatever, it's entirely up to you. Never let anyone tell you a certain genre or way of writing is stupid or wrong. And....PUNCTUATION MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE!!! Example:

"Let's eat grandpa!!
Let's eat, grandpa!!"

You see????
Oh, and one more thought; A cup of tea (or coffee, but mostly tea) is a writer's best friend. ;)

Bria: You tend to hear the same advice so I’m going to try to throw something new in. “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12, the Bible) Don’t be discouraged and don’t believe that others are better than you simply because they are older and “wiser.” I’ve read plenty of books written by people who should be old enough to realize their writing stinks. (That sounds harsh, but we all know it’s true. Some people write bad books.) Get yourself some confidence, get your writing out there (blogs, contests, etc.), and live by this quote from Ray Bradbury: “If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories –science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

Ravena: Don't ever give up, no matter how many rejections you get. And there's no rush to get published. Some of our favourite authors weren't published until they were waaaay out of their teens, but look how happy they are now!

Jane: Take inspiration from everything. Write different things until you find the one that's your fit. You don't have to be an author to write, just write. If you’re good, good for you, if not that's okay because no one has to see it.

Elizabeth: I advise young writers to practise constantly. It’s the only way to get better. Experiment with other genres you don’t usually write in, and read lots! Reading different genres from different periods from an array of different authors also helps a lot. Keep exercising your creativity. Challenge yourself to be inspired by anything – this helps avoid writer’s block. It gives you a chance to discover what works and what doesn’t. Also, do not get stuck in one genre (especially fanfiction!)

There you have it! Do you agree with any of it? Do you disagree with any of it? Tell me, I command thee. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interview with Teens: Part UNO

I took part in the following interview. It talks about teen writers and all of its opinions are from teen writers. If you want to read more from any of these people:

Jane Shaw
Elizabeth Watson

Thanks also to Sunny Smith, whose idea this was and who organized the whole thing.

So here you go:

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself (age, how long have you been writing, and what you write)

Dakota: I am 17(@ sunny, lol it's close enough), and I have been writing since I was very little, say 4?

Bria: My name is Bria. I am sixteen. I’ve basically been writing since I was six (I mostly plagiarized stories then), but got serious about writing (realized I could be a writer!) two years ago. I write stories with a bit of everything. Some have fantasy feels, some have a sci-fi sense, and some are stories about normal people doing normal things in a non-normal way.

Ravena: Well, I'm sixteen and I've been writing since I could hold a pen (I know... I'm so funny.) I tend to write science fiction or fantasy because I love creating new worlds. 

Jane: Started writing in grade 6. I first started writing the stereotypical girl crushing on the stereotypical senior boy, because in my mind it made sense that the senior boy would like the freshman girl, of course once I got to highschool  I realized how naive my grade 6 self was, but I digress. I then moved on to writing books where the main character suffered from some tragedy that left them blind. deaf or some other physical disability. I then moved on to writing story's where the main character was an orphan and they would go on a quest to find their birth parent's. As I matured I started getting into writing fantasy, and this is where I am now writing Urban Fantasy.

Elizabeth: I’ve been writing since I was 4 or 5 (around 15 years). I write a bit of everything. I probably won’t pursue writing full-time (can’t afford to), but I’ve always written in my spare time.

2. What is your favourite book/author (and yes you can give more than one:P)?

Dakota: Good gosh, don't ask me that! I'm the most--SECOND most indecisive person in the world!! But if I absolutely HAD to pick an author or two or else I'd DIE, then I'd have to go with Wayne Thomas Batson, Jill Williamson, and....Donita K. Paul. hmmmm....yes, let's go with them. :)

Bria: I don’t have favorite (I’m American, ha) books, just favorite authors. Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, John Steinbeck, and Joan Bauer are my absolute favorite authors.

Ravena: Argh! I can never answer these questions, because I'm terrible at making decisions. I always feel like I'm picking favourites, and that the books will get offended and cry (if, you know, they could and all.) I think I'm going to play it safe and say my favourite book is "The Lord of the Rings." The world Tolkien creates... oh gosh I have no words to describe how in awe of him I am. And, of course, the "Harry Potter" series (I'm cheating, I know.) It was a huge part of my childhood and Rowling's world building is wowza (am I getting a little predictable? Okay, here's a fun fact: when I turned eleven I waited for my Hogwarts letter just like everyone else. When it didn't come I told my parents I wanted a house elf for a birthday present instead. I got a pen (or something completely ordinary that wasn't a house elf.)

Jane: Favourite Authors: Ally Carter. Patricia Briggs, Alyxandra Harvey, Nalini Singh, Anee Bishop, Tamora Pierce, and Jane Austen! Favourite Book: I Hunt Killers (atleast for now) :) there are many others...

Elizabeth: Shakespeare, Jane Austin (Pride and Prejudice), Shilpi Somaya Gowda (Secret Daughter), J. R. R. Tolkien

3. What is the first thing you ever remember writing, that wasn't for school?

Dakota: BAHA!! Ah yes, I remember it well....I do believe I was four, or thereabouts, and had just completed my first-ever story. It was perhaps four pages long, two of those pages being drawings, and all written in crayon. It was about a family of people that suddenly got mad during dinner and threw all their food on the floor and in the toilet. I can't remember how it ended, tho.... But it was a happy ending, I know. ;)

Bria: If we don’t count the stories I wrote/plagiarized when I was six, it would be this story I wrote when I was nine. It was about a kid who liked to invent things.  His name was Peter. He ran away from home because…actually, there wasn’t a reason. Anyway, he ran away from home with his little sister and they lived in a cave in the woods. Peter invented things to help keep them alive. Yeah, it was a cool story, and Peter actually won second place in a character-making contest with Scholastic Storyworks. I won a notepad. :)

Ravena: A "novel" when I was six about two parents who went to the beach with their two children and forgot them. It had about ten lines of writing, and lots of awful pictures. I even "published" it by getting someone to staple it for me. Thankfully it got lost.

Elizabeth: I wrote stories on a 90’s computer program called Storybook Weaver. I wrote about horses (my favourite animal).

4. What's your writing schedule (if any) and how often do you write?

Dakota: *chokes on and spits her drink halfway across the room and falls to the floor in an insane laughing fit* SCHEDULE??? Oh, you poor, dear, soul, you. Ah, I don't HAVE a schedule. My ADD and laziness won't allow it. I merely write when the mood strikes. That, while not being an efficient writing strategy, is more fun for me. ;) hehe

Bria: I try to write something every day. I don’t have a certain time or place because my schedule fluctuates and changes depending on school and church and my job and family and just life. If you want to know how I balance all of these things, the simple answer is: I don’t. Mostly I compromise on my sleep. As I like to quote: You can sleep when you’re dead. (Not that you should compromise on your sleep! Don’t get into that habit!)

Ravena: I write everyday, for at least an hour (by that I mean I try to. I'm lazy) When I can I write in the morning because that's when I'm "freshest." If it's a school day (and too often it's a school day) I'll write in the evening. 

Jane: I don't really have a schedule I just write when I feel like it. Yes, I know it's bad, but that's what I do.

Elizabeth: I write every day, with few exceptions, for at least an hour. It’s part of my life as much as eating and sleeping.

5. Have you ever taken any classes/studied writing in some way? If so, how has it helped you? If not, why?

Dakota: Yes, I did take a class. Twice! The same one. ;) haha. I can't say HOW it's helped, b/c I have difficulty pinpointing that kind of stuff, but I know that it has. :)

Bria: Last year, I took a creative writing class at my school. It was interesting. We wrote a travel piece, illumination essay, play, dystopian, some poems, a children’s book, and a short story. What was really cool about this class was the community. We were all writers, so we all understood the voices and the story urges, and we all enjoyed talking to ourselves; basically, we all had the weird writer quirks and it was stinkin’ amazing! Lots of encouragement, definitely.

Ravena: I haven't taken any classes, because there aren't any where I live and if there were I probably wouldn't be allowed to go anyway. I'm planning on watching Brandon Sanderson's lectures (although I haven't yet.) I've also ordered Stephen King's "On Writing" (which has yet to arrive.) (A recurring theme... I'm not making excuses, I swear!) In Year Nine, when she found out I liked writing, my English teacher gave me a book which eased me into the world of publishing. That counts right?

Jane: I took a Creative Writing class in highschool. It helped me, by teaching me different ways to write, and the process that you can take to write a story. It also taught me about different types of creative writing.
Elizabeth: I’ve attended some writer’s classes and conferences. I went to my first one when I was 12. Everyone else in the class thought I was lost. I also took creative writing classes in high school and university. They’re helpful because they teach you a lot about writing “theory”. They point out flaws in your writing that you’ve never noticed. They also give you a chance to get feedback from a variety of other writers.

6. Who/what influences your writing?

Dakota: games, both fortunately and unfortunately. Fortunate in that it gives me a plethora of fantasy-type names and ideas for fantasy-type places, but unfortunately in that it messes with my plot lines. I end up picking up too many characters. :P
On the other hand, my friend Sunny is a great help to me in my writing, being both inspiring, helpful, and encouraging. :)

Bria: Life influences my writing. The people I know and the circumstances I live in influence my writing more than anything else. Honestly, people should be scared to talk to me, since so much of my dialogue comes from conversations with people.

Ravena: I would say every book I've ever read has influenced my writing in some way (although I can't exactly say how.)

Jane: I started writing when I was in elementary school. It was my 4th grade teacher who had everyone writing story's for English class. She was the one who opened my eyes to writing. I'm also a huge bookworm (I work in a library, for petesake), so whenever I finish a book I was always think wow I love the way this character said that, or that was cool the way she wrote that, and then BAM a story idea pops in my head.

Elizabeth: Tamora Pierce, Tolkien, and Austen

7. What's your motivation for writing?

Dakota: Motivation? You sound like an over dramatic actor being paid way too much to do little of anything. Ah, my motive it FUN, and of course, the dream of any aspiring author, to be published. Perhaps even made into a movie. ;)

Bria: I love stories (as if that wasn’t obvious from my blog name). I love telling stories, I love listening to others tell stories, I love stories. My love of writing is based on this love –and obsession with –stories. Everyone has a story and everyone’s is different (even twins’ stories are unique!). This intrigues me and so I pursue stories. I creep on them and I find them and then I write them. It’s just so fascinating to me!

Ravena: I have no idea. No, seriously. I think that even though at times I have to force myself to write, or it feels like I would rather stick needles in my arms then sit down and make words appear, I love it.

Jane: Everything, no seriously everything. I find motivation mostly in other books, movies, and T.V, shows. I find inspiration when I'm at work, or when I'm on the way to work, or when I'm taking ling trips, and when I'm trying to sleep and my mind is running a mile a minute.

Elizabeth: My motivation is what I call my “writer’s waves”. If I get an idea, I have to write it down.

This was actually only half of the interviews. The rest will be posted soon. Do you agree with these brilliant people? Or do you disagree? Any points of dispute? I want to know. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Awesomesauce Words

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. –Hart Crane
            Because of this and my love and fascination of words (especially’s word of the day), I have decided to start what I call Awesomesauce Words. Basically, I find some words that I particularly love and tell you all about them. Yeah! I will also include how I used the word this week. I would love it if you also wrote (or said) something and posted that here. Using new words helps in learning and remembering new words. This may seem very schoolish, but I find that it helps me bunches. Without further ado, here are some awesomesauce words:

Besot-verb-to infatuate, obsess; to intoxicate or stupefy with drink; to make stupid or foolish, as in a mind besotted with fear and superstition; plagued

His tales introduced fear into my mind. I ran home that night, running down the middle of the street, keeping far away from the dark spaces between the trees. The fears besot me; they followed me home. Once home, I curled up into a tight ball. All of my covers rumpled around me and I hoped any haunts would mistake me as just another messy cover on my messy bed.
Pyknic-adjective-having a stocky physique with a rounded body and head, thickset trunk, and a tendency to be fat (from going on too many picnics. Haha)
Santa Claus reportedly has the pyknic body type.
If you want more information on this body type, I found this site helpful.

Obtuse- adjective-not quick or alert in perception, feeling, or intellect; blunt in form

The pyknic man took up the whole rest of the bench. An elderly lady and her granddaughter sat on the left and this obtuse man sat in the empty spot that I had so clearly marked as mine, you know, by calling shotgun in my head. The nerve of some people! I stand now behind the man. My arms are crossed and one of my feet tap tap taps an angry beat. I am sure a look of frustration is present on my face. I stare into the back of his head. What is he thinking? Can he feel me staring at him? Surely he can feel me staring at him. He’s doing this on purpose now. He knows he took my seat and he knows I am angry about it. He is doing this now to spite me. Does he also know my plan for retaliation, do you think? Hehe, we shall see, I suppose.

Now, how would you use these words?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Deserve

 Ever since Jon Acuff posted this article on entitlement, I’ve been spotting some of the entitlement in my life. In just five minutes after reading it, I was frustrated that Netflix had logged me out again, I was angry that Blogger had messed up my article format, I was mad at my laptop for becoming so hot on my lap. Look at that. Rather than complaining about the little annoyances and things that don’t matter, I should be praising God for all that I have. Rather than “Why does Netflix keep logging me out?! Ugh. This is so stupid. And look at my articles on Blogger! What in the world?! Ouch. Stupid laptop, burning my legs.” I should be saying, “Netflix logged me out again. Interesting. Thank You, God for allowing me the ability to relax here and watch videos that I enjoy. Look, my Blogger article is messed up. Well, I’ll just fix that. Thank You, Lord, for giving me such a means to spread Your word. No other generation has had the ability to reach the whole world so easily. My laptop is getting hot, but thanks for a laptop. Not many people can afford something as nice as this. Thank You for blessing me and my family.” Look at the difference!

This makes me think of Job. Job was very wealthy and had much to thank God for. And thank God, he did; Job offered many sacrifices to the Lord and praised Him. But in Job 1:13-18, he lost practically everything he had, even his children. And you know what he did? He didn’t stand on a mountain and demand to talk to God about why his family had suddenly died or why his camels were all gone. No. Job PRAISED. In verse 20, Job said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Amazing!  This continued. Job continued to praise God; he cursed the day of his birth, but he never said to God, “I deserve better!” In fact, in Job 9, he specifically said, “How then can I dispute with him (God)? How can I find words to argue with him? Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy.” Job had no sense of entitlement. No sense of “I deserve a good life so give it to me.” No. Job accepted what God gave him, both the good and the bad. This is what we need to do.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God provides what we need; He doesn’t give us what we deserve, because that is death. So this entitlement we have so often is idiotic. It’s more than idiotic, but I can’t find a better word right now. We deserve death, but we were given life! Amazing. Because of that, I’ve been praying desperately and trying hard to shed my feelings of entitlement, and to live praising and thanking God every moment for every little thing.  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Terrible Poem/Letter to God

I used to believe I was a fairly good poet. I wasn’t. And I’m still not. But this is less of a poem and more of a promise in stanzas. I like the formatting of poems, so I’m keeping it that way. (By the way, this is a Letter to God/letter to Ashley about everything that was happening with Ashley.) Here you go:

April 23, 2011

I won’t stand by
While you drive yourself away
From everything you are,
Or at least everything good you
Used to be.
You can leave God
But he will not leave you.
You can drive yourself away
From us
But we refuse to be lost.

I won’t stand by
While you lose yourself
In this world
And everything it deems
I will be there,
Pushing you to remember
All that is truly
Good and pure.
Everything that is not of
This world.

I won’t stand by
While you play by the edge
Of the cliff.
You may be “stable” now,
But eventually
You will lose your step
And fall.

I won’t stand by.
I don’t care how much you hate me.
I will not stand and watch
Your life crumble.
I will speak up.
I will say all that none have ever
Dared to say before.
I will not stand by,
Instead I will stand up.
I will not shut up,
Instead I will speak out.

I will not leave,
Even when you push me away
I will remain there for you,
Until there is no you
To be there for.
I pray it won’t come to that,
Not while you are drowning yourself
In the ways of this world.

So know
That I won’t stand by
And do nothing
While you run away
From the only true love ever known.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Prayer Requests

Hey whoever is out there.

I learned today that one of my classmates (I'm a junior in high school) is dead. Drew died on Monday, August 6. No one seems to know how he died yet. But I know that a death, regardless of the how, is hard. So hard. He seems to have a ton of family. And I just ask you, whoever you are, that you pray for his family. I feel like a Bible verse is suiting right now, so:

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
-Psalm 147:3

Please add any pressing prayers you have so we can pray together.
And another:

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. –James 5:13-16