Young Adult Tropes that I’m Actually Okay With

People like to bash on the YA genre, and for good reason. I mean, have you read Twilight? I haven’t, but I heard it’s awful.

There’s been a lot of criticisms of the genre that I agree with — the overemphasis on love triangles, the dark and brooding love interests, the Chosen One prophesies — but there are a couple common complaints that I can’t help but feel aren’t actually bad ideas. Such as:

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1) The Bad/Absentee Parents Trope

“Why can’t we have good, normal, loving parents for once?” people say. “Parents who aren’t dead or abusive or mysteriously disappeared?”

To which I respond: “Now how is that interesting?”

When Harry Potter was battling dementors in The Order of Phoenix, not once did I think to myself, “Man, I really wish his parents were here to sort this all out for him.” Not once throughout Eleanor and Park did I think, “this would be so much more exciting if Eleanor’s stepdad was not an abusive, misogynist jerk.” And yes, I am simplifying the argument for the sake of comedy, but hear me out:

I don’t want to read about normal parents, especially in a fantasy/sci-fi novel. I mean, have you met most parents? They nag. They worry. When I tell them I’m going out in the middle of the night to investigate the nearby haunted house where that one girl was found murdered by a mysterious unnamed entity, they’re never okay with it. Whenever I read a story with normal parents, I always find those scenes — you know, the scenes where’s there’s that inevitable conflict between the parents’ concerns and what the main character knows is right — to be such a drag on the story. I just want to skip over it and get to the good stuff.

And there’s a reason this trope is so popular to begin with. Teenagers don’t like their parents. Sure, they love them, but only because they have to, and they certainly don’t want to spend more time with them than absolutely necessary. (Note: cases may vary.) And whether wrongly or not, by the time a kid gets into their teen years, they start to see their parents more as obstacles to get around, rather than the larger-than-life role models they used to be. When I was a young, angsty fifteen year old, (as opposed to the strong, knowledgeable eighteen year old I am now), I identified with stories where the parents were antagonists, because that’s how I saw myself.

2) Insta-Love

“Sup girl,” said Devin Devinsky, sitting on his totally bitchin’ leather motorcycle. “Wanna make out?”
Lisa felt a flutter in her chest. Was this love?

I used to hate this trope, but then it happened to me in real life, so now I’m more forgiving. The heart wants what it wants, people, and sometimes it wants a douchey guy on a motorcycle.

The key, in my humble-as-fuck opinion, is that the Insta-Love has to be forbidden in some way or another. Like if one of them is engaged to someone else, of if it’s an LGBT relationship in a non-LGBT+ friendly environment, or why not both?

Lisa was engaged to that douchey guy on the motorcycle when she met Ruth, a douchey girl on a motorcycle. “Sup,” said Ruth.

Lisa felt a flutter in her chest. Was this love? But … she had never felt that way about a girl before, and yet this was stronger and more passionate than anything she had felt for her fiance. But her wedding was next month! Did I mention this takes place in the 1950s? Plus she had a bomb strapped to her chest that would explode if she left Devin, so that’s another source of conflict right there.

I’d read this story. Presumably it ends with Lisa and Ruth shooting their way out of a courthouse and stabbing Devin Devinsky with the American flag, like this. (Just replace Mel Gibson with Lisa and Homer with Ruth, and it’ll be a perfect representation of how I imagine this story to end.)

3) School is Seemingly Nonexistent.

I feel like every time there’s a YA book set during the school year, people complain that none of the main characters ever have to study or deal with homework. This complaint has never resonated with me, for a few reasons:

First off, this complaint always seems to be made by straight A students, students who take AP classes and actually open the textbooks to study. And good for them and all, but this does not represent the majority of students, or at least those in the U.S. public school system. You know how many times I studied in high school for more than twenty minutes, outside of finals? Literally not once, and I was one of the good students. I was taking the hard classes. The normal students taking the normal classes always seemed to have free time, and they never seemed to be doing any work outside of school. And when I think back to my high school years, I rarely think about all the assignments I had to do, because those aren’t interesting. One of the big rules of writing is to skip the boring stuff, and Rosey Evergreen’s trigonometry homework is included in that category.

And secondly, if my love interest died in a car accident, or if I discovered I was the chosen one in a world that I never knew existed, I would immediately stop caring about high school. Compared to fighting the Dark Lord, or stopping a vampire from killing all your friends, or any of the other crazy plots from so many YA novels, high school does not matter

(But seriously, stay in school, kids.)


And that’s all for me. I could only think of three things, because my noggin’s been a bit wobbly as of late. If you agree, feel free to comment below, and if you disagree: get lost, you filthy commie!

But for real, comment below. I’d appreciate it.

Ten Books I Plan to Read in 2017

My last post like this was all the way back in 2015, and it’s funny because I still haven’t read most of those books. But this year will be different, I say, for the fourth year in a row.

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1) The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin.

That’s right, I’m calling it. This book will be published this year. I know I said this last year and the the year before that, but I mean it this time. I mean, he has to finish it eventually, right?

Right?

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What a boring cover

2) Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

I pick this book because it’s short, it’s supposed to be great, as well as an easy read. That’s what I love about YA books: they’re all quick to read, even when they’re bad. Plus, Emma Watson was in the movie adaptation, and come to think of it, I haven’t seen her act in anything since Harry Potter, so I hope to watch it after finishing this. 

Image result for extremely loud and incredibly close3) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathon Safran Foer

I remember seeing the trailer to this movie and thinking, “I don’t know what this is about, but I like it.” I never got to see to see the movie, but I heard the reviews for both it and the book were very divisive. It was either the most beautiful, heartwarming novel you’ve ever read, or a three hundred page piece of trash that belongs in the depths of hell.

I will get to decide which it is.

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4) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Fun fact, I actually read the first fifty pages or so, and found it fascinating. Sure, the main character was kind of a jerk to his friend, but I assume he’ll grow out of that. Plus I really want to learn more about the history of the middle east. The gist of what I know is this: Afghanistan got fucked over real bad in the 1970s, and I’m pretty sure the Russians were responsible, because the Russians are sort of awful like that. Although I’m sure the U.S. was also at fault in one way or another, because at one point in the novel Henry Kissinger was mentioned, and that guy’s famous for being a bit of a war criminal. Either way, I doubt this book has a happy ending.

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5) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

I also read about 80 pages into this book, and I loved every moment of it. Although I do find it kind of arrogant of the author to just ignore the rules of punctuation. “Pff, I don’t need commas or quotation marks,” I can imagine him thinking. “My story is just that powerful.

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6) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

I know, I know. It’s been over three years and I still haven’t read this book. However, I recently started getting back into King’s Dark Tower series, after putting it aside for a long time, so I think I’m ready to go back into his work. 

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7) The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith

It’s a romance novel about two lesbians in the fifties, which was recommended to me by Engie from Musings from Neville’s Navel. While I wasn’t a fan of The Maze Runner, I do tend to love most of the books she recommends me. Like A Game of Thrones, or Between the World and Me, or The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Or V for Vendetta.

So intend to get around to reading this book, and the pages will be soaked with my heart-shaped tears.

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8) Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams

This is the third book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and if it’s half as funny as the first two, I will be in for a good time. 

Seriously, though. You know how rare it is for me to laugh out loud when reading a book? Usually I just smile, or exhale out of my nose, but Adams sends me into fits. And then I find myself thinking about scenes from the books months afterwards and I crack up again, and then I have to explain to people why I just started laughing for seemingly no reason.

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9) I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson.

I remember seeing the Will Smith movie adaptation for this, and thinking, “meh, seven out of ten.” But apparently the book is completely different? Also, the book is currently sitting on a shelf in my basement, and no one knows how it got there, which adds quite a bit to its mystique.

10) Maggie Stiefvater’s new book, whatever it is.

Stiefvater’s become one of those authors whose books I would immediately buy the moment they were released. Other authors include John Green, Markus Zusak, George R. R. Martin, and Suzanne Collins. If any of them publish a new book this year, I guarantee I’ll be buying it, no matter what the circumstances.


So what are you planning to read this year? And if you’ve read any of the novels above, feel free to share your (non-spoilery) thoughts. Oh, and Happy New Year!

15 Rants, One Post

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Dr. Cox, the king of rants.

1

I get that a lot of bad things happened in 2016, but this whole “Fuck 2016,” meme is getting old. (It’s been old since at least November, I think.) And really, does anyone believe 2017 is going to be any better? If you consider Trump getting elected to be horrible, do you really think you’re going to hate a Trump presidency any less? And with the baby boomer generation dying off, celebrity deaths are only going to become increasingly common. It’s sad, but so is life, so get used to it.

2

We’re at that time where bloggers are listing their favorite ____s of the year, and I keep seeing posts where people refuse to give an explanation for their choices. For example, I’ll see a post like, “My Five Favorite Books I’ve Read this Year!” and it’ll go:

  1. Book I’ve never heard of.
  2. Book I’ve never heard of.
  3. Book I’ve never heard of.
  4. Book I’ve never heard of.
  5. Book I’ve never heard of.

This list means nothing to me unless you can tell me what the books are about, or at the very least, explain why you liked it. Otherwise, this post is a giant waste of time, and you should be ashamed. 

3

I hate how my interest in politics has slowly turned me into a bitter, resentful person, so much so that I even find myself hating Bernie Sanders, who I used to love. Like, I hear in the news that Bernie’s going to “fight back,” against a Trump presidency, and I hear him saying stuff like, “the revolution is stronger than ever.” And I’m like, “fuck off, Bernie. You’ve accomplished nothing. Go back to naming post offices in your tiny little state of Vermont.” I admit this isn’t fair, but I’m so burnt out that I have no interest in being fair until at least 2018.

(Oh who I am I kidding? I’m not burnt out at all, and I will always love Bernie. May his days be long upon this earth.)

4

Also, why the hell does my candidate never win? In 2008 I wanted McCain to win, in 2012 I wanted Romney to win, (although by that point I was gradually starting to transition into the kale-eating* liberal I am today, so I wasn’t too upset), and in 2016 I wanted Bernie and when he lost I started rooting for Hillary, who cramped up just five yards from the finish line. That 0 for 4. Now what are the odds of that? I did the math and it’s one in sixteen, or 6.3%, which is outrageous. Is this punishment for that time I accidentally ran over a raccoon? I think it is.

* Just want to clarify that I’ve never actually eaten kale in my life.

5

I hate when people use the word “indescribable” to describe something. It’s the ultimate cop-out for writers who are too lazy to put together a decent description. Especially bloggers. Oh, your delicious sandwich had a taste that was indescribable, you say? Well I can’t even begin to describe how angry that sentence made me. Now excuse me while I unfollow your blog and never think of you again. 

(As you can tell, I’m in a bitter mood.)

6

Why does time fly when you’re having fun? That seems like the least convenient time for such a phenomenon to occur. Why can’t it speed up during car rides? Or when I’m at the dentist? Now that I think of it, why does it speed up at all? Time should just stay consistent, alright?

7

Why the hell does Dunkin Donuts keep putting cheese on my bacon egg croissants? I always ask for no cheese, and while the cashier always gets it right, (“no cheese” always shows up on the receipt), the guy making it rarely does. As someone who works in fast food, I must ask, why is Dunkin Donuts in particular so bad at this? Is my order so uncommon that is throws them off? Or do they just not like me because I seem like the type of person who’d bash them on my blog? The world may never know.

8

I’m gonna call bullshit on the idea that if McDonalds’ had to pay their employees fifteen bucks an hour, they’d just replace most of their workers with robots. If they could do that, they’d have done it a long time ago. Twenty years from now, this might be a legitimate concern, and even then, I doubt it; people would boycott the store, the robots would be malfunctioning constantly, and all it takes is one murderous robot rampage to stop the whole thing in its tracks. Trust me, this isn’t going to be an issue.

9

Speaking of McDonalds’, creepy guys everywhere should know that the girl at the drive-thru window does not want to give you her phone number. Just take your food, say thank you, and drive away like a normal person.

10

I loved The Catcher in the Rye, but I find it unnerving when people praise Holden as a rebel; as someone who calls people out on their “phoniness.” This was what I was told about Holden, and after reading the book, I found myself wondering just how the hell anyone got that impression. For one thing, Holden’s an idiot, (that stuck out to me from page one) and his criticisms of other people are almost always shallow and hypocritical. Holden is whiny, stupid and spoiled, but the beauty of the book is that you empathize with him regardless of his many, many flaws. If you read the book and think, “Wow, that Holden kid is a real hero,” then there is something seriously wrong with you.

11

I hate when children are used as props to further someone’s agenda, whatever that agenda may be. Like this photo:

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Now, I am very much in favor of having more diverse books for kids to read, but there is no way in hell that picture is in any way authentic. You just know for a fact that an adult handed the kid that paper and told him to smile for the camera. Hell, I doubt that’s even the kid’s handwriting.

I’m not sure why this bothers me as much it does. I guess it just feels … cheap? Unfair to the kid? Manipulative? I don’t know, but I’m still OUTRAGED.

12

Why do people try to talk all authoritatively over things they don’t know anything about? In high school I took a college-level course in Environmental Studies, and while that hardly makes me an expert on the subject, whenever someone tries to lecture me on how climate change isn’t actually that big of a deal, it becomes immediately and startlingly obvious how uninformed they are. (“But we just had a really cold winter!”)

The same is true for the conflicts going on in the middle east. I don’t really understand what’s going on over there, and I can guarantee you that 95% of Americans don’t either. But that doesn’t stop some people from becoming sudden experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict whenever the topic arises. Unless you actually know what you’re talking about, don’t pretend that you do. Instead you might learn something.

13

What’s up with old people and drinking from the hose? (Bear with me on this one.)

As a kid, I’d often hear adults complain about how spoiled and pampered my generation is, and bragging about how, “when I was a kid, we drank water from the hose!” And I’d be like, “Cool. Would you like a medal, sir?” 

Because there is literally nothing impressive at all about drinking from a hose. As someone who did often drink water out of a hose during my childhood summers, I must say that it tasted no different than regular tap water. Albeit, a bit grassier. Did I think I was cool for doing this? No. Will I be bragging to my kids one day for it? Possibly. Either way, this whole thing is stupid, and now I’m thirsty.

14

I hate grass. It’s the most useless plant. Flowers look pretty and smell nice, trees provide shade and comfort, but what does grass do? It just sits there, like a total bum. Go away, grass, no one wants you.

15

I support Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem, but I have one question that has yet to be answered.

Let’s say that America listens to his message, and we collectively take initiatives to stop systematic racism and police brutality and bam! Everything is fixed. My question is: how would he know? It’s going to take at least a couple months for the statistics to come back to show that his protest was successful, which I could imagine being a bit embarrassing for him when he finds out. “So for the last month or so, I’ve been kneeling for no reason? Damn. And my knee is so sore now.”

(This has got to be the dumbest perspective anyone’s ever taken on this topic. Whatever, I’m tired, and I because of my relative obscurity, I can afford to say stupid things.)

That’s all for me. I gotta say, this wasn’t nearly as good as my last 15 rants post.

 

Storytelling Tips Learned from The Leftovers

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I’ve watched a lot of TV shows in my life, and every once in a while one of them comes along and makes everything else look like trash. One such show was season 2 of The Leftovers, which managed to be better than its first season in every conceivable way.

A quick summary: The Leftovers is a show that’s about dealing with ambiguous loss. On October 14th, 2011, 2% of the world’s population — with no correlation whatsoever between them — just vanished into thin air at the same time. No one knows why it happened, who is responsible, or what even happened to the people that vanished. Where did they go? Are they ever coming back? Will this happen again? The writers have no intention of answering these questions and personally I hope they never do.

This may not seem like your type of show, but if you’ve ever dealt with the loss of a family member, a friend, anyone you cared about. If you’ve ever dealt with depression, or if you’ve ever just been sad about something at all at any point in your life, you will connect with this show on some level.

In my case, I connected a little too deeply, and I was pretty much an emotional wreck after every episode. It changed the way I thought about my own writing, and it also redefined my perspective on life itself. 

(To be fair, my perspective on life changes about once every week .)

For this post I’m just gonna be focusing on the writing portion, as I bequeath to you some of tips I took from this show:

TV-Cap: ASH VS EVIL DEAD at Comic-Con, THE LEFTOVERS Season 2 Trailer, & More

Don’t be afraid to shake things up.

The show’s first season took place in a small town in upstate New York. It was a stand-in for the rest of the world. “Anytown, USA,” it might as well have been called. We followed the characters there for eight or nine months, getting to know and understand them as they got into various hijinks and tomfoolery.

And then the first episode of season 2 comes along and the focus of the show moves thousands of miles away to the town of Jarden, Texas. The opening episode focuses on a set of characters we’ve never met before. You don’t see a single familiar face until you’re forty-five minutes in. Jarring as all hell, but it worked.

But it wasn’t just the setting that changed: the tone changed, the lighting changed, even the opening credits changed drastically in a way that I can’t remember seeing before. Here’s the opening to the first season: 

And now here’s the second one:

Changing so much about the show was a pretty ballsy move, I think we can all agree, and yet it paid off better than anyone could’ve expected, with a show currently being praised by critics and viewers alike as one of the best on TV.

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Not everything has to be explained.

In one episode we watch a character have a friendly conversation with her new neighbor, one that ends with no apparent conflict between them. The very next scene we watch as she casually walks up to the neighbor’s house, picks up a rock, and throws it straight through the neighbor’s window.

The show never outright explains why she decided to suddenly vandalize her neighbors’ house, but the audience is left to figure it out for themselves, even though there’s more than one possible conclusion for the audience to draw. The show trusts the viewers to figure shit out on their own and allows them to interpret things in different ways, and so should you.

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Some things probably should be explained.

The guy who wrote The Leftovers is Damon Lindelof, who also wrote the show Lost. As a result, he has a bit of a reputation for setting up mysteries without actually resolving them in a satisfactory way. So when he decided to write another show centering around a mystery that he has admitted from the beginning would never be explained, he got an understandable amount of flak from pissed off Lost fans.

And yet, the second season of the show introduced several mysteries at once, including one really juicy one. A mystery so juicy it might as well have been a porterhouse steak. For weeks and weeks I scrolled through dozens (hundreds?) of different theories regarding it, and not only were a: none of them were right, but b: the mystery was handled in such a jaw-dropping, game-changing way that I couldn’t even sleep afterwards. And I love to sleep.

The lesson here is that you can keep things ambiguous if you want, but you need to have a good grasp on what should be answered and what doesn’t have to be. The Leftovers is a show that’s very premise is an unanswered question, but it remains satisfying because when it comes to big reveals, it never drops the ball. 

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Tell a joke for once.

While I can fanboy about this show for ages, and could probably write a novel-length essay analyzing it scene to scene, I must admit that at one point, I was thinking about quitting the show.

Around halfway through the first season, I was getting wary. The show was so dark. All the characters seemed to be digging themselves deeper and deeper into their own misery. The show at that point was utterly humorless. Humorless and hopeless, it seemed; the two worst things a story could be. 

But luckily the writers seemed to figure this out, because they started to inject some much-needed humor into the characters. And then they gave the characters hope within all the sadness, and it was raw and beautiful and cathartic and no I am not crying right now, I just have something in my eye, so shut up.

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Make every moment count.

You could tell a story’s well-done if you can’t think of a single thing you’d cut. This wasn’t case for the first four or five episodes, (which is why it’s the weakest part of the show), but re-watching the season 2 premiere, it’s amazing to see just how important every single moment turned out to be. Every odd detail, every facial expression. They even managed to turn a stupid knock knock joke into hardcore foreshadowing. (Yes. Hardcore.)

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Not all dystopian stories have to involve an evil government that needs to be overthrown.

I remember seeing a review for The Leftovers describing the series as a dystopia, and I remember thinking, “Hm, I guess it is kind of dystopian.” After all, it was about an alternate version of the world, where mysterious cults are rising up all over the U.S., and the government has no problem with killing them off if need be. 

When I usually think of Dystopian stories, I think of V for Vendetta, or The Hunger Games: where the world is terrible, but at least the readers know who’s to blame. But in The Leftovers, the world can’t be fixed by blowing up buildings, or shooting people with an arrow. The world’s broken because each and every person in it is broken. It’s a dark premise, but I think it’s much more compelling than most of the dystopian books and movies I’m so used to seeing.

_____

I’m going to be honest, guys. This was less about writing tips, and more about how much I love this show. Watch it. It’s lit.

Nothing Like an Award to Keep Your Spirits Up…

So throughout the past couple months, I’ve received a bunch of awards. This isn’t surprising, (I mean, have you met me?) but I’m flattered nonetheless. Most of these awards were season-based, so I decided to go with the one nomination that doesn’t belong to a specific time of the year: the Sunshine Blogger Award.

I was nominated by the always snazzy Katie Nichols. She’s only tried to kill me twice this year, so I’m extra thankful.

The rules:

–Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog. (Check!)

–Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you. (Yeah, not happening.)

–Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions. (Also not doing this, because Standards.)

–List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

 

1.  If you could only read one fictional book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

It would probably be a really dense book; one where you’ll discover something new each time you read it. So if you’re allowed to pick a series, I’d pick A Song of Ice and Fire, and if you’re allowed to pick just one book, it would be Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell. I haven’t read it yet, but I heard it’s good and long, so a reread would probably be rewarding.


2.  What type of computer do you use for blogging?

My chromebook. Bought it over a year ago for 180 bucks and it’s been working like a charm ever since. #quitethebargain


3.  What was the last album you listened to straight through?

Atlas: Year One, by Sleeping at Last. This is one of those albums where every song sounds good, but only handful can give you an actual eargasm. Those three songs were Earth, Saturn, and Neptune. Listen … if you dare.


4.  What is your favorite holiday sweet?

Come to think of it, I don’t really like any food that goes specifically with a certain holiday. I guess I do like the Christmas-themed designs of Coca-Cola cans.

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Those polar bears would maul you to death if they got the chance.

5.  Are you known for making a signature dish or food?  If so, what is it?

I don’t cook much, but I do make scrambled eggs and toast. I can also make microwavable popcorn with ease. 

6.  Would you consider your handwriting to be sloppy or neat (or somewhere in between)?

Depends on the pen and my current state of mind. That being said, it’s always legible.


7.  What is the awesomest-looking book you own, and why?

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That’s not my hand, by the way. Photo credit goes to MightyGirl.com.

You may not be that impressed, but I think the cover sets the tone for the book perfectly. And it can’t be stressed enough just how good the paperback Stephen King books feel in your hands. The pages feel so clean, the font is so easy on the eyes … in fact just writing this makes me want to buy another King novel.

8.  Name your three biggest fandoms.

Bitch please. I don’t do fandoms. Fandoms are for dweebs and dorks and no-lifes, not for a cool dude like me. I do have a reversible belt, after all.

That being said: 1) Harry Potter. I don’t talk about the series much these days, but it will never not hold a special place in my heart. 2) A Song of Ice and Fire. I could talk about these books for days. 3) No idea. There’s probably a Stephen King fandom I’d get along well with. Maybe The Raven Cycle. Those were good books. Hopefully I’ll write something one day that inspires a fandom;  my dream is to get death threats in the mail after killing off a beloved character.


9.  Favorite childhood movie?

Finding Nemo. It’s funny, and an emotional rollercoaster? But how?

10.  Pizza or tacos?

Sicilian pizza any day of the week. With tacos, the shell always breaks on the first bite.

11.  Name three books that everyone on earth should read.

Keep in mind that I’m not picking these books necessarily because they’re my favorite, but because I like the message behind them.

  1. Mother Night, by Kurt Vonnegut. In part because I think it deserves more attention than Vonnegut’s more famous work, but also because I think it has some really neat things to say regarding morality and whatnot. Plus, in a world where millions of World War II books are published each year, Vonnegut managed to write one with a fresh perspective. (That last point is true for a lot of his books. But this is one is even fresher.)
  2. The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth. There’s a movie adaptation coming out soon, so the book should be getting a nice boost in popularity, but then again, the movie rarely does the book justice. So just read it already. It’s about a lesbian growing up with a very conservative family in 1990s Montana, who gets sent to a gay conversion camp. Some thoughts:
    • It’s about the importance of understanding people and respecting them for who they are.
    • It’s also sort of glorified pot and normalized shoplifting, but I’m okay with that.
    • I feel like, in most stories like this, you’d expect the conservative relatives and the people running the camp to be demonized — to be written like one-dimensional homophobes taken straight out of an after-school special. But nope, they’re written with just as much humanity as anyone else. It would’ve been so easy for the author to write them off as Evil, but she didn’t, and for that, I salute her.
  3. It, by Stephen King. Sure, it’s violent and scary, and it ends with a bizarre, offensive sex scene that makes it clear the author was snorting coke while writing it. (Apparently he remained high during the editing and revision stage, and so was his editor.) Nevertheless, the things King has to say regarding friendship and childhood are powerful, and should still be relevant for years to come.
    • I also want everyone to be just as scared as clowns as I am.
    • Should note that while it’s been over four years since I read it, I can still remember characters like Stuttering Bill, Bevvy, and Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier, and some scenes — the rock fight, Ben’s first encounter with Henry Bowers, the part where Pennywise takes the form of a security guard with a dog’s head, (that was weird) — are still etched in my mind, and will probably never go away.
  4. Bonus Mention: V for Vendetta, and 1984. I can’t help but feel like these two books, (especially 1984, with its Groupthink and Newspeak) are becoming increasingly relevant.

And that is all! Thank you Katie, and thank you, America. I wont be nominating anyone, because I wouldn’t want to be a bother. Good night. Sweet Dreams. Don’t let the bed bugs eat open your veins and crawl around your circulatory system.

Writing About Sex Without Actually Writing about Sex

So it’s been a while since I posted (I blame the government), so I decided to return with a topic that will certainly attract viewers: sex! I’ll try to keep this PG, but I think we all know I’m setting myself up to fail.

As most writers and regular people know, sexuality and whatnot is one of the biggest topics floating through a person’s mind, especially from puberty onward. So in order to write a non-asexual character’s mind authentically, you’re going to have to include some sort of hint of the, uh, you know, the . . .

*starts to make hand gestures, but decides against it.*

The problem for many writers throughout history is that people tend to be squeamish about the whole topic, and it’s not considered appropriate for certain ages. Which, okay, that makes sense. I don’t think there’s any sane person who thinks including graphic sex scenes in a children’s novel is an okay thing to do. But as a result, writers have found clever ways to get around that cultural taboo, by using things like metaphors, similes, and euphemisms.

Even non authors do this all the time. Example, I’m 70% sure that whenever my friends and I are talking at any given time, some sort of authority figure is listening in without my consent. So I have to find clever ways to word my questions. If one of my friends just went on a date last night, I’ll be all like:

  • “Yo, did you seal the deal?”
  • “Did you sheath the sword?”
  • “Did you snuffle her curnufflegus?
  • “Did you huffle her puff?”
  • “Did you dehoney the flower?”
  • “Did you deflower the garden?”
  • “Did you dance to the song of love?”
  • “Did you put your USB cord into her laptop?”
  • “Did you put your pillow into her pillowcase?”
  • “Did you tie the shoe?”
  • “Did you unlock the door?”
  • “Did you slay the mighty dragon?”
  • “Did you use the back side of your hammer to pull out that nail that was stuck in your wall for like, three years?”

Some of them don’t really work too well, I’ll admit, but whatever. The point still got across.

Writers do this all time as well, for different reasons.

When writing for children (such as middle grade books and kids’ shows) writers avoid sexual content, because well, come on, these are kids we’re talking about here.

The young adult genre will often feature sex, but because of fear of censorship and whatnot, you’ll rarely get an actual depiction, and if you do, the ultimate lesson of the scene will probably be that sex is bad, and that you should wait until you’re married, or something. (I don’t actually read a lot of YA these days, so I might be way off here.)

The adult section is the one area where writers are allowed to get away with pretty much anything they want, providing they’re a guy. A female author certainly is allowed to include sex scenes in their novels, but because of reasons that totally don’t have anything to do with sexism, their work isn’t likely to be quite as well respected.

(Theory Time: if a woman had written A Song of Ice and Fire, you could bet your ass it would’ve been labeled “erotica” as at least the sub-genre.)

So how do these authors overcome these restrictions?

My favorite is the technique used when writing for children: including obvious sexual references that would fly straight over a child’s head. These are awesome because it’s harmless to the child and yet hilarious for the adult.

Example: On the show Victorious, which is one of those shows I watch whenever there’s nothing else on, has several moments in which it’s heavily implied that the main characters’ mom is totally having an affair with her husband’s friend, and it is the funniest running gag I can remember seeing on Nickelodeon.

You could also try the young adult genre technique, in which you describe sex scenes so vaguely that it’s damn near impossible to tell if the characters actually did the deed or not. Perfect example being The Fault in Our Stars. Did they really have sex? I know Hazel wrote a venn diagram confirming it afterward, but I’m not too good with diagrams so I can’t be sure.

If you’re writing for adults, there really aren’t a whole lot of limits for what you could write about in terms of sexual content, profanity and/or gore, at least none that I’m aware of. I used to think there were limits in adult books, but then I read Stephen King’s It and quickly realized my mistake. (Not even HBO could adapt that book faithfully.) Still, you should probably use sex scenes sparingly, if at all. I’m not saying this due to squeamishness on my part, but only because sex scenes in general are hard to write well, and aren’t particularly interesting on their own. For example, here’s a deleted scene from one of my Doctor Who erotica fan fiction short stories:

[Scene has been removed by the federal government due to its disturbing content.]

“What should I use instead?” you ask.

Well, I say. I think you should just use lots and lots of dopey, nonsensical euphemisms. Think back to all those horrible sex scenes you’ve read in the past. How much better would they have been if they’d simply read something like, “James snarsnidioused her har-har, if you know what I mean.”

Before I end this post, I should clarify that neither ‘snarsnidious’ or ‘har-har’ are actually words, although I’m sure you could guess their definitions considering the context.

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Hopefully I have just helped my readers write better works of fiction. I probably haven’t, of course, but at least you’ve all learned a few new euphemisms to use. Feel free to make them popular.

(Note: This post was published about three hours before it was actually intended to be published. Apologies for any typos.)

In Which I Fail Terribly at All of My Goals

This is going to be me in ten months

At the beginning of this summer, I set a lot of goals for myself, and then I immediately forgot about those goals and just sort of dicked around for the next two months. Needless to say, I did not accomplish many of them. Now that school is back in session, I believe it’s time to look back at the past two months, and reflect on how horribly I’ve wasted them.

Goal #1: Get buff.

Yeah, I didn’t have much hope for this one. I did do some push-ups at one point, though, so I suppose this wasn’t a complete failure.

Goal #2: Get a sexy tan.

I’ve been doing the drive-thru at McDonald’s a lot lately, and what happens is that only one side of my body tends to hit by the sun, (thanks to the roof and the windows and whatnot), which results in coming home with sunburn on the left side of my face. (Sunburn. Never a tan.) Twas a failure, I say.

Goal #3: Finally Take Advantage of my Netflix Account

I didn’t take as much advantage of this as I could have, (still haven’t caught up on Daredevil), though I have watched a lot of movies lately. Has anyone seen Mad Max: Fury Road? Because that movie was mad good. (har!)

Success level: eh.

Goal #4: Confront My Inner Demons:

did confront one of my inner demons, actually. He beat me up and took my money. Not sure if this counts or not.

Goal #5: Get featured on Engie’s Quarterly Rewinds.

Basically, Engie (who’s secretly John Green, but that’s not more important right now) recaps each season, and in said recap she features her five favorite posts from other bloggers. And if I don’t step up my game by the twenty-first of June, I probably won’t make it. Mostly because I’ve barely been posting lately. I blame the government. Oh, and chairs. Fuck you, chairs.

So I didn’t make the spring rewind, but I still have a chance to make the next one. I just gotta fire the ol’ noggin right up and write the greatest post of all time. Shouldn’t be too hard.

Goal #6: Finish that book I’ve been writing. 

Still not finished, but I am close to the end. Then again, I’m not nearly as close as I’d hoped I’d be.

Goal #7: Get Beta Readers

Oh, that reminds me: would anyone like to be my beta reader? I’m not an expert at the whole thing, but I’m pretty sure this is how I’d like it to go:

  1. I would send you my WIP via google drive, (or possibly another format if you prefer).
  2. Because I’ve found that google drive gets a bit laggy once you write more than 30k words, I’m dividing my story into three parts, Suzanne Collins style. I’ll send you one act at a time, and once you’re finished with that I’ll send you the next one.
  3. Presumably you’ll provide comments and feedback and whatnot with each act.
  4. I will say “thank-you,” and hand you twelve thousand dollars for your hard work.
  5. Point #4 may not be true.

8) Get to do the drive-thru more at McDonalds.

Aha! The one goal on this list I can proudly say I’ve accomplished with flying colors. In fact, I now do the drive-thru so often that I’ve gotten bored of the whole thing. Plus I got a whole bunch of stories of all the crazy, sometimes horrible people that come through the drive-thru, that I will tell you all in time. Spoiler alert: there’s sooooooooo many high people, it’s ridiculous.

9) Actually finish a book.

Aha! I finished book two and three of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. They’re graphic novels that are all about . . . well, I don’t really know what they’re all about yet. There’s this guy called Morpheus who’s the Lord of the Dream Realm, and he’s pretty much the chillest guy ever.

10) Take advantage of my Six Flags pass

I didn’t go to Six Flags at all this year. 😦 Mostly because my aunt never bought us the season pass, as I’d expected. She decided not to because, what with all of us (my siblings and I) having jobs this summer, she figured we wouldn’t have time to find a day to make the two-hour drive to the park. Y’know, despite the fact that it would’ve taken only the slightest bit of effort for the three of us to make take off on the same day. Really, I think she’s just mad because we last year we went to Six Flags and didn’t take her son with us.

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I may have failed horribly with my goals, but perhaps you did a tiny bit better. Feel free to tell how you did in the comments. Or if you don’t want to do that, you could try to guess what color eyes I have. (Winner gets a high five.)