Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The WIP Diaries: I answer questions from you!


Thank you so much to Angela, Genni, Olivia, Lindsey, Zoey, and Olivia-Savannah for asking me questions about my writing process! I had such fun answering. 

Hope you like this post :)


The Questions!


How do you keep yourself motivated / make sure to complete the goals you set for yourself without giving up?

I am not a good goals setter ;) Only recently am I seriously thinking about setting goals for myself. I’m certain they’ll help, I’ve just been procrastinating.

As for motivation: watching YouTube videos on writing, and reading through motivational quotes from other writers.....those can really get me pumped to write. There's also the unquenchable desire to tell my stories and breathe life to the characters in my head. I have to tell their stories. That drives me to write.


What is your favourite part of the writing process?

Brainstorming! Lol that sounds like such a cop-out, but I just love envisioning all the scenes and characters in my head and playing them out like movies to see how they work. I also thoroughly enjoy outlining – I’m a neurotic organsier, so listing scenes and plotting them out is my thing ;)


Do you work on several WIPs at once, or one at a time?

Definitely more than one at a time. I don’t know if that’s always smart, but I can’t help it. The only risk is that I get carried away with a shiny new idea and start working on that when I actually should be spending all of my time on the previous book idea….It runs the risk of not finishing anything. But I try hard to balance them.


Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

Inspiration just happens. Movies, books, real life…I'm perceptive and I try to be aware of what's going on around me so I can use snatches for my writing. I never know when an idea will strike.

Also, since most of my novels are fairy tale retellings, I just examine the original fairy tale and ask “what if?”. That gets me thinking and imagining, and as a result a book idea is usually born.


What's your favourite character you've written and why?

That’s like asking me to pick a child! I love all my characters so much – even the villains. But if I had had had to choose, I think I’d go with Tink (it’s a nickname btw; I haven’t decided on her real name yet) from my Peter Pan retelling. She’s fierce, twisted, broken, and sometimes downright wicked. But she’s hiding a lot of pain, and out of all my protagonists, I think I have the softest spot for her.


How do make your characters realistic? 

I draw on real life emotion and incidents I've experienced and make a note of how they made me feel so I can pass them on to my characters. I also make sure to give each of my characters a quirk - usually something random or weird - and I find that that usually adds some relatability or at least humanity to the person.


What do you find the hardest thing about writing? 

Writing! Ha.

Seriously though: it's the sitting down and writing when you hate every single word you're typing out. It's torture.

More specifically, I think it's also the quieter, slower scenes in my books. I'm big on action, so a quieter scene is usually a struggle. I mean, why can't characters punch each other and jump from moving trains all the time?


Notebooks vs. digital idea keeping: how do you organise ideas?  

Sometimes, if an idea comes out of the blue, I'll scribble it down on the nearest piece of paper or on my phone if there's no paper. But I try to get them onto my Mac at some stage, and make a Microsoft Word document for each individual idea. Then, if the idea grows and develops, I'll make a Scrivener project for it and start fleshing it out.


Do you use spreadsheets? Do you use any special programs to write? plan? brainstorm? 

I use Pinterest to get a feel, or aesthetic, for the story and characters. But otherwise I use Scrivener for everything from brainstorming to plotting to outlining to the actual writing of the book.


How do you keep your character's appearances straight? 

I have them all in my head! Their appearance is glued to their name, so I always know exactly how everyone looks if I know their name. They're not exclusive. But I also use Pinterest to cast each character; there's an image of every person there.


Where do you get your ideas from? Do you start with a "what if" scenario or with a character or with an event, or maybe with a theme/message?

Story idea and characters arrive almost simultaneously. The story idea, whether it's an incident, a setting, or a premise, can come from anywhere: movies, books, real life, or me just daydreaming. And when I get a story idea, a character usually appears at the same time. For example, when I got the idea for my Peter Pan retelling, I immediately knew that the story would be from Tinkerbell's pov and she'd be a rebellious, broken teenage girl. I even knew some of the secondary characters the book would have. 

So yeah. Inspiration can strike at any time, and if I've ever lost for a book idea, I can wrestle one from daydreaming and asking "what if?" I am literally never short for book ideas. Hopefully I'll get to write them all in the future. 





Thank you to everyone who asked me questions! If you're a writer, where do you get the inspiration for your stories? Do you use Scrivener? Do you cast your characters?



Sunday, 16 September 2018

Weekly What's Up - The One Where I Write Something


I have started watching Gilmore Girls! Oh my gosh it is so much fun. The writing is so smart and witty, and the characters are deliciously eccentric and relatable. I also love how relaxing it is - it's totally feel-good and so harmless.

I actually did some writing on my WIP this week! Scrivener is amazing. It makes everything nicer. However, the day after I wrote something my whole premise kinda fell apart, so now I'm back to outlining and plotting. Darn it. I know my characters well, but the story is in shambles. Hopefully I'll be able to fix it this week :)


Posts of the Week


I talk about the romanticised behaviour in Sierra Burgess Is A Loser

I share some YA books I want Netflix to adapt for the screen!


Currently Reading

I'm taking it very slow with Shadow and Bone cos I haven't been in a fantasy mood, I'm loving Him, and I'm also going slow with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.








Around the Blogosphere

Angela shares 5 reasons why you'll love This Could Change Everything


Kyra reviews Caraval

T├ónia shares a list of Books That Deserve More Love

Laura Patrica Rose talks about How To Define Your Personal Style






How has your week been? Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? What are you reading and watching? 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

YA novels that Netflix needs to adapt ASAP


Netflix is all about YA books right now. It goes without saying that not all have been a success - and some have been successful although they don't deserve it (looking at you The Kissing Booth) but generally, rom-coms are making a comeback in the form of YA books and peeps are eating them up.

So keeping with that theme, here are some YA novels I think should be adapted asap. Most of them are rom-coms. 

Let me know your thoughts and choices in the comments!


When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

"Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? 

 Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? 

 Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways."

Indian rep, an adorable enemies-to-lovers romance, witty banter, strong-willed characters, and messy family dynamics? Yes please! This book would be so so good as a film!

Netflix, make it happen. I can totally see a When Dimple Met Rishi film getting the hype of TATBILB. It could be amazing.


Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer

"Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope. 

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past. When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. 

But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart."

This isn't your average rom-com. 

It'll warm you up inside, sure, but it's also infused with an incredible amount of heart and beauty and real, relatable pain. The characters are extraordinary, their struggles are human, and the friendships are magnificent. It is such a good book - no words can do it justice. A film adaption is literally ESSENTIAL.



Geekerella - Ashley Poston 

"Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic science-fiction series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck and her dad's old costume, Elle's determined to win - unless her stepsisters get there first. 

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons - before he was famous. Now they're nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he has ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake - until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. 
But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?"

Fandoms and cuteness and mistaken identities....get on it, Netflix! This book is the perfect summer flick, and it's the kind of light, fluffy, harmless rom-com we need on our screens. It's generic enough to find an audience, yet unique enough to add something new.

But please - cast good teen actors. Otherwise this could get bad real fast. 


Keeper - Kim Chance

"When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.
After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book.


But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

 With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book."


Urban fantasy needs to make a come back, and a Keeper film could be amaaaaaazing. With the right cast, cinematographer, and director, this atmospheric small-town fantasy would be perfect and fresh and totally spellbinding.
It's a great story. If done right, it could be a great film.



Windfall - Jennifer E. Smith

"Let luck find you. Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

 At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

 As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect."

Beautifully written, unexpectedly funny, adorable, and wholeheartedly romantic. This book is pure through and through - there's literally no cussing or even slightly inappropriate content. That's rare in a YA book.

I want a film! Please Netflix! It'll be so cute. It'll make everyone feel fluffy and warm inside. I need this in my life.



American Panda - Gloria Chao

"At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. 

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth--that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. 

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?"

Okay fine. FINE. I haven't read this book yet. BUT. It looks so good and I'm obsessed with that cover (more specifically, that creamy drink). And it sounds like it'll be an awesome movie, right? And also diverse and unique and powerful?

Hopefully I'll get to read the book soon. In the meantime, make a movie Netflix.






What are some YA books you think Netflix should adapt? Do you agree with my choices?

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Romanticised Abuse: SIERRA BURGESS IS A LOSER


Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, books, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Start posting whenever you want.
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simply one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it.
- Please link to my blog as the original creator.
- This is not only about romanticised abusive relationships. It is about romanticised sexual assault, rape, and harassment, as well.
- Please consider the following statement a trigger warning: this blog series explores and draws attention to themes of abuse in fiction. I will discuss sexual assault, abusive relationships, and rape. I will infrequently explore those topics in depth as the fictional example requires it. Please read on with care. These subjects could be triggering.




On Friday night I watched the latest teen rom-com to hit Netflix: a gender-swapped adaption of the play Cyrano de Bergerac, titled Sierra Burgess is a Loser. I knew nothing of the story, but I’d seen the hype and so was intrigued. After the amazingness that is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, I was optimistic to watch another rom-com flick.

You can read the story synopsis HERE.

Initially, the movie didn’t raise any red flags for me. It had its flaws – weak dialogue, some weak acting, a very messy plot and poorly developed story – but nothing struck me as being particularly wrong. It was, at best, a light romantic comedy with a relevant message, if somewhat poorly conveyed. But since Friday I’ve thought about the movie constantly. I’ve thought and thought and gone over the story and the characters’ actions. Then, it hit me. So I wrote this blog post to outline what I believe are serious, unsettling problems stewing in this film.


CATFISHING:

Definition: 'lure (someone) into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona.'   

The film revolves around this plot-line. Sure, maybe the whole message is supposed to be about body positivity etc etc, but how it’s trying to preach that is through the premise, the premise that is essentially: catfishing.

It’s creepy. It’s the actions of a stalker. It is so, so, so utterly wrong. Sierra is pretending to be Veronica, and she’s leading Jamey to believe he’s interacting – talking, messaging – with Veronica. She even sends him a picture of Veronica (with Veronica's permission, which is not to say Veronica's innocent either FYI) so he thinks that the girl he's messaging is indeed Veronica! It’s manipulative to say the least. And it gets more intense as the whatsapping becomes a phone call, then a video, then an actual date with Veronica who is -unbeknownst to him - taking lines and cues from Sierra who is present on the date; who hides behind Jamey and Veronica at the movies, and creeps around their truck when they stop and talk in the parking lot. She hides where they can’t see her, she eavesdrops,  and she texts Veronica with what to say to Jamey. That’s the behaviour of a stalker, guys! It crosses a line!

At the end of the movie when Jamey finds out he’s been deceived, very little is said about it. He tells Sierra “it really wasn’t cool”, but she brushes it off and so does he, almost immediately. I find that unsettling, especially since Sierra ends up "getting the guy". Honestly, she doesn't deserve to be with Jamey after the way she's toyed with him.


Think about it this way: had Sierra been a guy and Jamey a girl, would these incidents have been more obviously shocking and wrong to you? Because I think that’s part of the problem. It’s one of reasons I’m so ashamed I didn’t see the issues when I first watched the movie.


ROMANTICISED SEXUAL ASSAULT:

The whole fake persona Sierra’s pulling over Jamey’s eyes comes to a horrifying climax when she accompanies him and Veronica – unbeknownst to him – on an actual physical date. When Jamey and Veronica are standing in front of his truck in the abandoned carpark and talking to each other, Jamey leans in to kiss Veronica. She, for her part, puts her hands over his eyes and beckons Sierra to come out from where she’s hiding between the vehicle. And she kisses Jamey. Sierra kisses Jamey, who thinks he’s kissing Veronica. 

What. The. Heck.

At this point I couldn’t give a flip about Sierra or her unrequited love, because Jamey is not consenting to kiss her – he thinks he’s kissing Veronica. His eyes are closed because her hands are over them, and Sierra kisses him full on the lips. He doesn't give her permission to do that! That's not okay! Why is consent such a tricky thing for some writers to understand?!
I'm hesitate to call the act sexual assault, though. A part of me thinks that of course it is sexual assault, but another part of me is thinking if I call an unwanted kiss sexual assault, I'm equating it with, say, groping someone's genitalia against their will. I mean, can I do that? Isn't one decidedly worse? I want to say yes.

But I digress. Whether Sierra kissing Jamey without his consent is sexual assault or not, it's still wrong and inappropriate and completely unacceptable. That's what I'm picking at.

I admit, I don't think Sierra intended to be so cruel and twisted. She's honestly falling in love with Jamey, and she cares about him. However. That doesn't excuse her actions. If I'm tricked into a kissing a random guy, that's an invasion of my privacy, an intrusion on my rights, and an assault on my body. It hurts me, not the kisser.  That's the problem. If Sierra had accidentally kissed Jamey, then you can forgive her because it was an accident and she didn't mean it. But here she is actively choosing to do this to him and she's not giving him a choice.



Sierra Burgess Is A Loser is a bad movie, if only because of its romanticisation of disturbing and inappropriate behaviour. Had the characters’ genders been switched, maybe we would be screaming its problems from the rooftops? In this day and age, I’m sadly not sure. But I do know it would’ve been more noticeable to me, and I’m ashamed.

The writers are leading us to feel sorry for Sierra, and they’re doing their best to dress the movie up as a cute, heartwarming tale that preaches body positivity. Look, that message is not bad, but they should’ve chosen a different story to tell it. The one they’ve gone with is messed up and twisted. 

This film is extremely harmful. Please do yourself a favour and don’t watch it.




Sunday, 9 September 2018

Weekly What's Up - watching, writing, cold...



The weather this past week has been absolutely freezing. I've been wearing like four layers every day - I love it, don't get me wrong, it still tops summer heat - and it is literally icy. It's impossible to get fully warm. 

I haven't read much at all this week, but I have watched a lot fo Netflix (now I'm just waiting for season 5 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to come on and it's killing me) and I finally finished TVD! So bittersweet to come to the end, but it was a very good ending. Now to binge a new series...I'm thinking Gilmore Girls :) 


Posts of the Week


I reviewed two vastly different books: Damsel and Dare You To Lie.

I shared a list of my favourite TV show ships!


Currently Reading


Yes, I'm still on these books. Don't know why, but I just haven't felt like reading recently.


Around the Blogosphere


There were so many amazing posts around the blogosphere this week, so I just had to share as many as I could!

Heather shares some Binge-worthy TV shows

Greg shares some of his Binge-worthy TV shows

Emily reviews The Colour Purple

Brittany takes part in the blog tour for Seafire

Di reviews Damsel

Erica reviews Dead Princess Walking

Lindsey shares her favourite Binge-worthy TV shows





What happened in your week? Are you currently reading anything? Binging any TV?