Nanowrimo

Nanowrimo

I’m participating in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) starting November 1st. I’m prepping for the novel, challenging myself to create my characters by putting a timer on my phone to 5-10 minutes and writing straight until time runs out.

My story will hopefully not be a stereotypical zombie/rage virus novel. So far, the title is Lou. I want it to be more about my protagonist her memories, hang ups, addictions, etc. though the world as everyone knows it is being wiped away.

Here’s a 10 minute writing exercise on Lou’s character and kind of about her relationship with her deceased mother.

Continue reading “Nanowrimo”

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Personal Blogging: More Good Things

Personal Blogging: More Good Things

Today I saw my new therapist, and I think I like her. I think she has potential. She reminds me of my therapist who I really liked who moved to Texas. I’m hopeful. Maybe I’ll finally get the help I need.

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I discovered this traveler’s notebook through a group in which I’m a member on Facebook. I love the art journal look to it. Plus one of my favorite quotes. If you’d love to see the artist creating these journals, here’s the Etsy: SincerelyInked.

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I finally found my art supplies (most of them) in the boxes we had packed. Still trying to find my watercolor notebook. I’ll be very sad if I can’t find it. Anyway, I purchased these brushes above to use with my watercolors, also above, that I snatched from a thrift store (yes, I got unbelievably lucky). Almost $13 for a set of three on Amazon. Here’s the link to the brushes.

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I’m having fun with my camera. So many photos. Here’s a piano, inside out. I’m going to hike soon, so hopefully I’ll have some great photos to show.

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I got a new library card today, and I’m way psyched. I will officially have access to several sites where I can borrow e-books on my kindle.

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Current reads via my Goodreads, guys! Want to be friends? Let’s be friends.

xo

Where Would I Have Been?

Where Would I Have Been?

[A/N: Do not do this at home.]

I’m a reader. An avid reader. No, no…a psychotically obsessed reader. Wait, no, is there something more extreme than that? Is there? Because that would be me. I guess for now you can call me Katie, the more than avid or psychotically obsessed reader.

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I grew up with a dad who read to me. My favorite book? In a Dark, Dark Room by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Dirk Zimmer. Oh the creepy stories and fun to be had! These were my bedtime stories. Alvin Schwartz was a folklorist by trade, also having written the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy which was illustrated by Stephen Gammel.

My dad grew up being told scary stories by his dad with his many siblings. My grandfather was the best storyteller, or so I’ve been told since I never met him before he died. But yeah, he was the best. Some of my aunts say he handed it down to me, though I couldn’t vocalize a story on the spot out of a wet paper bag. At least I can write.

Anyway, I love reading. It’s my favorite thing. Being asexual, reading by far replaces sex. Being aromantic, reading far surpasses romantic relationships. Reading is as important as food to me, which is saying a lot, but second to my relationship with family and friends…only sometimes though, you know…

I read to escape situations throughout my life, and I’m sure you could find me in my elementary or middle school library during most spare time I had. During periods of bullying in elementary school, there was the Scary Stories trilogy, R.L. Stine’s short creepy books, texts on space travel, Harriet the Spy, writings about the cultures of other countries, and more.

In middle school, it was mysteries like Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ray Bradbury’s more child-centric tales like The Halloween Tree or Something Wicked This Way Comes. I started reading German fairy tales like “The Juniper Tree”, and other forms of folklore. I also was introduced to The Hobbit, which I loved, but was never introduced to Tolkien’s entire collection. I also discovered Japanese folklore: Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn. Wonderful stories of yokai and yurei. His stories later influenced my interest in Asian fiction by the likes of Ryu Murakami and Natsuo Kirino.

Finally, 9th grade came. I arrived at high school. I thought maybe I’d make a few new friends, which I did. And the library…I imagined the library filled with more books than the one at the middle school, this time geared towards “adults”. I was excited to spend time there.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.

I’ll admit, I was the weird girl. I dressed in black. I apparently looked like a bitch but was actually a “sweetheart” according to a girl who got to know me in Spanish class. I wasn’t a very likable person until you actually talked to me. I think, due to this, access to the library was like pulling teeth. I would ask to go during class breaks, but was told, “No,” and that I needed to stay in the classroom during the break while other girls were allowed “bathroom passes” to go give their boyfriends blowjobs in the stairwell. Eventually after being told “no” too many times to count, I gave up and made weekly visits to our shitty local library. When I started getting an allowance, I would ask to go to the book store and slowly began creating a collection. [A/N: Apparently this “library ban” is an isolated incident according to my other friends]

I loved the Beats but more-so William S. Burroughs…wayyyyy more than Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg. He was just so real. I remember deciphering A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (I also loved The Doctor is Sick) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I picked apart books of authors I couldn’t appreciate like John Steinbeck or Herman Melville, but found amazing assigned English class reading like Lord of the Flies by William Golding which led me to read Koushun Takami titled Battle Royale. We also read short tales from Edgar Allen Poe like “The Masque of the Red Death” which led me to begin reading H.P. Lovecraft on my own (starting with “The Dulwich Horror“. You can read it for free in that link).

This was me taking the fact I wasn’t allowed to go to the school’s library into my own hands. More so, this was me coping with the intense major depression and panic disorder I suffered with throughout my teenage years. I saw a psychiatrist, went on Paxil and Wellbutrin. I did therapy. Nothing really helped. But books? They were always there for me without fail. Adults failed me. Teachers failed me. My peers failed me. Books never really did (unless they were terribly written books).

My depression slowly began consuming my life. By 11th grade, it was unbearable, but I was able to graduate early if I got a tutor for the last six months of the school year. That meant I could go to college during what would have been my senior year in high school.

Freedom.

I liked that.

My last day was a Friday. My school counselor was putting together who would be my at home tutor, which courses I’d be taking, etc. I was dropping by her office to pick up a file, but on the way, I realized I was passing the library.

I could go downstairs and go inside, you know. I had only been in there once for 5 minutes. The only chances I could get to use the library were by going early in the morning (something I couldn’t do due to my antidepressants making it hard for me to wake up early) or stay after school (not allowed). Besides, I had come up with my own collection of books. Also, I started visiting another better library in the same district as the shitty one.

I stared through the glass which peered one story above the library, wondering, looked at my watch. I had 10 minutes before the counselor would know something was up, so I made a quick descent down the stairs and made my way inside of the library.

I signed in as Joyce Burroughs after two of my many favorite writers, Joyce Carol Oates and William S. Burroughs. I wasn’t quite sure I was doing, but the librarian assistant (a student) didn’t even check my name which was good, because I look nothing like a Joyce, I think.

I started looking through the stacks, and I saw the typical brain numbing books. Oh, and I saw Moby Dick and wanted to pull it off the shelf and throw it against a wall (my hate for Moby Dick runs old and deep I’m not evening going to give it a link.).

Soon I found Ray Bradbury. I saw they had Something Wicked This Way Comes, one of my middle school favorites. For some reason, I pulled it off the shelf to look at it. Without knowing, I grabbed Fahrenheit 451, a great read.

So, this is my justification. I was a soon to be ex-student of this school, never to walk its mold-ridden halls again. I thought, “Maybe you didn’t miss out, Katie. You didn’t need the library.” But I was so angry. Angry at the adults who failed me, who treated me like low class trash, automatically owning their mistrust of me. Angry at the students I couldn’t escape in the halls and the ones would steal shit from me. The people who abandoned me at my most depressed. What if I had no access to an outside library? What if I had no allowance money? Where would I have been? What would have happened to me?

I thought of Fahrenheit 451 and what I gleaned from it. Why have a library when only specific people are allowed to use it? You might as well burn the books.

I put both books in my messenger bag and quickly exited the library.

I made it to my counselor appointment just in time to pick up some information on my tutor. My mom picked me up an hour before the last period bell rang, ending the school day. I never went back, and I have no regrets, and I still have the books.

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POC Writers + Book Recommendations

POC Writers + Book Recommendations

It is pathetic when you never read a novel written by (to your knowledge) or with a person of color as a protagonist until you’re at the age of 17.

I mean, I read poetry before I was 17. Maya Angelou. C’mon, it’s laughable to me, because I now know of countless poets who are not Maya Angelou, even though she is still one of my favorites forever.

My first book: The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Often a first choice for many white/mostly white people wanting to delve into books written by and about African Americans.

It’s a book I never want to get out of my head, because I delved face deep into this world that wasn’t mine and would never be mine. It goes past the point where you will never be a character and confirms that I will never know the struggles a race has faced systemically.

Many novels over the years, and I was led to Beloved by Toni Morrison. I was warned of its graphic nature, but it still wasn’t enough. It’s a book of magnitude, significance, and it was an extremely difficult read. Not because the language was hard for me to grasp, only that the subject matter was visceral. Beloved is a book I may not read again, because I got the message loud and clear, and because it physically hurts. I forever recommend it to anyone who wants more diversity in their reading. Or anyone at all. It has that impact that can change a person like it did me.

What I have learned as a whole? People of color, especially African Americans or black individuals in the case of these books, have an unwavering right to whatever emotions they wish to feel towards the treatment of their race historically and their feelings towards white individuals. As a mostly white person (or white passing which allows me to not be the victim of racism), I have absolutely no say in what a person of color should or shouldn’t feel. No white person does. This lesson was a good one to learn, though I wish I would have learned it earlier than 17 years old. And I’m still learning, of course. I’m not going to lie and say every day I learn, but I do learn when the time presents itself. I owe this to shutting up and listening and asking questions if the time arises. There is no “cookie” for me for doing this. It’s what’s supposed to be done. It’s the right thing to do.


 

Over the years I’ve continued to read on, making sure to never find myself racially out of touch (not to mention out of touch with sexuality, gender identities, etc.), but dammit, it’s hard when all famous writers are white men, unless you hit up the Young Adult section. I’ve read everything by Toni Morisson. I really enjoy Roxanne Gay and, especially, many Young Adult authors. Now I will talk about my favorite Young Adult books written by POC and give a few recommendations.

Here’s my top writer, who has written one of my favorite horror books of all time: Dia Reeves. I’m going to wax poetic over her for a while as I sit here typing in bed. Oh, Dia. She is everything I want in a writer. One part magical and all around disturbing. Sadly, I’ve only read Slice of Cherry, her novel about two young black protagonist sisters (or maybe they’re antagonists…your decision!)  from the south of the United States who are inseparable, fall repeatedly into each other’s utterly magical, “make-believe” fantasies, but have a taste for torturing and killing boys their age.

It will be a hard read if you can’t handle graphic violence, but it’s the first book of its kind. The first horror novel (though in the Young Adult genre which I find shocking, frankly) that I’ve read written by and about people of color.

There are more upcoming authors out in the young adult category of fiction that I want to recommend. I’m going to plug a few more books by POC to add to your reading list as I am ending this blog post. I would love to add adult fiction I’ve enjoyed, but I’d be typing until 5am (and it’s 2am already)!

First off, the Dorothy Must Die series by Danielle Paige has been so successful and entertaining. Imagine…being sucked up in a tornado and landing into a bleak and shit hole that is now Oz where Dorothy, the now official “queen”, has gone mad and wants to take you with her. Or kill you. Either one. There are several books in this series, so I linked to Danielle’s Goodreads page so you can access them all in order.

Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

The beginnings of what will be a great series (book two comes out this year, I believe!). Love the Pretty Little Liars book series or TV show? Get excited, because this is your PLL, only they characters are cut-throat ballerinas at one of the most prestigious ballet schools in New York. I really don’t want to spoil anything. Just got read the synopsis and see if it sounds good to you. So much competition and so many secrets. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward for the second installment.

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

More ballet drama with a criminal twist. I picked up this book recently, I haven’t finished it yet, but it’s definitely turning into a favorite. It’s quite different from Tiny Pretty Things but grips your attention in ways that Tiny Pretty Things does not.

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

I’m just starting this book, but damn, look at that Goodreads rating! That’s what made the decision for me to buy it. It is part of a trilogy that you can find on Amazon (unless Julie Kagawa decides to write more books). She also has another series that seems to be very popular and successful.

The idea that the protagonist is in an age where vampires rule is very fascinating and disturbing all at once. I’m looking forward to digging into some dystopian paranormal fiction!

Anyway, I will leave this here. Coming soon will be a post recommending modern authors from Japan. I hope you all have a wonderful night

xo