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29 Feb 2012

RTW: Read of the Month

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in February?
I think The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins will take the title of top February book.  I've yet to post up my review of it but for now I'll list my favourite things about it:
1) Katniss' closeness to her family and her role in it.
2) The friendship between Gale and Katniss
3) Cinna
4) The games

25 Feb 2012

News to Novels #8

A couple of articles this week gave me the impression of a society that wants to control people.  Controlling how they feel, develop.  The first article:

Mixed-up five-year-olds and the alarming growth of the gender identity industry: 20 years ago the condition didn't exist.
The article mainly talks about the increasing number of children diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder but there was a paragraph in particular that caught my interest: Nevertheless, a clinical trial is currently underway at the Tavistock which involves prescribing children from around the age of 12 with drugs to suspend puberty, thus preventing — so the theory goes — the mental anguish caused by the maturing of sex organs and changes in the voice.
The drug puts them in a state of 'biological neutral' - they're neither male or female. 

And then I found this article:

Potions for Emotions
The agony of a broken heart could be eased by painkillers, say scientists.  Research found that being dumped - or any other social rejection - is dealt with in the same part of the brain that processes physical pain.

Drugs that keep children biologically neutral, drugs that ease emotions... it could all become so sinister controlled by the wrong person.  A society where nobody is really allowed to develop physically and mentally.  They don't have a gender and after a while they're giving a drug to stop emotions.  What does that do to their morals if the drug advances to easing off natural feelings? Would a person care about doing right or wrong? Could they help others in need without the ability to feel sorrow or sympathy? And what would it be like to also live gender neutral as well?

23 Feb 2012

Let's Go To The Movies!

I came across this blogfest over on Theresa's blog and loved the idea from the get go.  Kyra at Write Here, Write Now and Rachael at Writing on the Wall are hosting the WiP: The Movie blogfest with some awesome goodies to giveaway!

Here are the details from Kyra's blog:
WiP: The Movie - March 9thYour mission, if you choose to accept it, is to post a photo of the actors or actresses you would like to play the characters in your WiP if it were to be made into a movie. It can be just one character, or the entire cast!

Secondly, we want you to soundtrack your movie! Head over to YouTube, and post a song that best describes one of your characters, or your story as a whole. Again, you can pick one song, or several, it's entirely up to you!


All we ask is that you follow these simple rules:1, Follow me
2. Follow Rachel (We will follow back)

3. Sign up using the linky list at the bottom of the page4. Add one of our funky graphics to your blog to promote the event
5. Post your entries on March 9th, and hop around to see the other entrants on the list!

The Prizes

Rachel and I will each pick a winner at random, and we will be giving away a copy of one of our favourite books which were turned into movies!

Please note: If you write a blog post about this fest before March 8th, you will get an extra name in the draw to win a prize!

From me: Water For Elephants or Bridget Jones' Diary


From Rachel: The Princess Bride or The Hunger Games 

And there you go :) Clicky on the links to sign up and I can't wait to see what we all come up with! =D

22 Feb 2012

RTW: Black History Month

Welcome to our 118th Road Trip Wednesday!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
 
This Week's Topic:

February is Black History Month and it's also the month of Valentine's Day. So let's show some writerly love by answering the following question: Who is your favourite African American author or fictional character?
 
No doubt about this one.  Celie from The Color Purple.  I read it twice throughout my studies, once at school and then at uni and adored her character.  I became emotionally attached to the character from the first few letters when she's a young girl, already a mother to two children she believes to be dead, and being passed on to an older man.  There she's nothing but a slave.  The journey she takes through the novel is incredible.  There's so much suffering and sadness in her life that when the ending comes and her life has turned around for the better you're relieved.  You want to cry when she does and laugh when she laughs. 
 
She's a perfect example of character development.  As a teenager she isn't well educated and very naive.  She's just a young girl being sold off as a wife and she's scared.  She keeps her mouth shut and does what she's asked.  By the time she's an adult she's starting to gain a sense of who she is, first through her sexuality.  It's the first step in Celie allowing herself to feel like she's somebody.  It develops slowly through sexuality to ambition to the point where she turns on her husband and finally stands up for herself. 
 
It's an amazing read through the eyes of an amazing character and if you have had a chance to read The Color Purple by Alice Walker, get it on your list! And track down the film too!

20 Feb 2012

Same Old, Same Old

So last week when I was collecting articles for News to Novels I came across Alex the Glamour Girl/Psychic and it got me thinking of characters and creating them.  I've had a terrible habit of creating characters in the past who are the same and I'm trying to stop that, making tons of notes on each character I come up with to get a variety.

My typical character was usually ambitious with their sights on university.  They were in between popularity and unpopularity at school and the male characters in particular always ended up grunge.  I never wrote about other characters.  I guess going to university was generally the norm.  Everyone in my year group was applying.  That's where they wanted to go.  And with the male characters I couldn't really bring myself to have a male character who likes that arse showing trend that some are obsessed with at the mo.  Couldn't even write a character who likes rap or hip hop.  Silly really because I feel as a writer you got to give a story to everyone.

That's why I really took to this article.  There's more to a person, even ones who look like vanity is everything to them.  Even my housemate who was also obsessed with her looks and yet her previous hobbies had included boxing and she liked watching sports.  Alex was a self-proclaimed psychic with an interest and involvement with the occult.  She claimed to see ghosts that terrified her growing up and she's upset that it always ruins a relationship, something she would love.  There was more to her than a glamour girl.  Have I ever created a character like that? No.  Why? Maybe I'm also worried about them being unlikable if they have tendencies to be chavvy or vain.  Characters can be hated because of the tiniest thing.  Such as:

She wants to just be a wife and mother.  How disgraceful!

Eurgh, they act like such a chav.

OMG they have sex! OMG they don't have sex!

I've seen "chavs" who took law and chemistry.  I've seen a bitchy girl admit she wants to be a writer because she wants to write stories that her little sister would enjoy.  I've seen people wanting to go on apprenticeships or go through alternate education routes because university isn't the right path for them or go straight into work, ready to earn.

I need to remember to give a story to everyone.  And not be afraid that they'll be unlikeable because they obsess over looks or not into academics.  People are different so why can't they be different in novels? I'm going to challenge myself to fashion different teenagers for novels in the future.  Find a story for them. 

19 Feb 2012

News to Novels #7

The long-lost 'haunted' painting and strange claims that ghost of Mrs Bell vanished after the picture was put back in its rightful place
As ghosts go, she was rather a cultured specimen.  The pale Edwardian figure made frequent visits to the mansion home of Alan Smith, always accompanied by the music of Chopin, according to the startled souls who bore witness.  Her interest in the house was a mystery – until the discovery of a long-lost painting that appeared to feature the very same person, sitting at a piano.

Hope the hauntings weren't that terrible.  Imagine suffering from ghostly activity only to find that a simple picture was the key to putting a stop to everything.  It could go either way.  Pure horror or comedy.

Forget about me? Creepy new Facebook feature tells you who you should invite along when you go out
Facebook now offers 'suggested guests' to invite along for nights out and other events planned through the site.  The uninvited guests pop up in a window saying 'Suggested Guests'.  They are chosen from users' friends lists, based on whether they are likely to be interested in the night out. Facebook uses information harvested from apps such as Spotify to work out who should come along.

So social media basically keeps note of your likes and knows when to suggest you or a friend to an event? *Shudders* I'm not quite keen on the idea of social media knowing tons about you to the point where it can suggest things like ads and events.  It's like keeping track of people and stalking to find out things about you, even if they're just things like music interests or TV programmes you love watching.  Social media turns Big Brother?  Believable in a novel?

Baffled at brain boy
A tragic little boy's whole brain is shrinking - and no-one knows why.  Jason Egan, nine, has had the mystery illness from birth and has slowly been losing his abilities.

It's so tragic to hear about a nine year old suffering like this.  But how scary would it be as a teenager? You have friends, a social life, and boyfriend or girlfriend.  A future is planned - your dream career, university, marriage, children, etc and all of a sudden that's taken from you as you slowly start to lose abilities.  You can't talk... walk... use this, use that... everything you've learnt growing up is suddenly disappearing from your memory.

16 Feb 2012

Tag, you're it!

I've been tagged by Colin! I have 11 eleven questions to answer and afterwards tag another 11 people, making up my own questions for them.  Mwahahaha... No, I'm kidding.  I'll do nice questions. *pinky swears*

This is Colin's blog that I do hope you'll check out and join. 

And here are the questions:
  1. Which fictional character would you love to invite over for dinner? Sherlock Holmes.  To see if I can fool him and try and get some tips on the art of deduction.  I would love to have a mind like Holmes.
  2. Think of one person you aren’t able to see for whatever reason (distance, availability, etc.) you would love to meet up with. Who is this person? This can be a famous person, a relative, a literary agent–anyone, as long as they are alive. A close friend from London for a lot of catching up and delicious Chinese or Japanese food.  Now that I've moved up North I don't get to see her often, which I miss greatly.
  3. Which “classic” novel do you think least deserves that title? Heart  of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  I found the story a little hard to follow at times with the narrative being experimental.  I was never a fan of Modernist novels.  I've read books that do better at portraying African history (e.g: The Colour Purple).
  4. If you could be any historical figure, who would that be and why? Rosa Parks.  That one act of protest led to the Montgomery Bus boycott.  It sparked so much awareness about the lack of civil rights for African Americans that I admire her very much. 
  5. Where in the world would you most like to visit, and why? Italy.  I've never been before and I adore Italian food.  I'd be in heaven!
  6. If you were a crayon, what colo(u)r would you be, and why? Purple because that's my favourite colour.
  7. Let’s pretend you have J. K. Rowling’s bank account. What’s for dinner tonight? I'd go out to eat.  A treat for me and the boyfriend.  We don't really dine out because we can't afford it so I'd like that chance to just splash out.  Nothing fancy though.  We'd probably end up at Pizza Hut. We're fans of the Ice Cream Factory. :)
  8. Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi
  9. Tea or Coffee? Coffee
  10. Think of your favo(u)rite band or song from the 1960s or 1970s. What/who is it? Life on Mars by David Bowie.
  11. When you get (or got) “the call” from an agent, who will be (or was) the first person you will tell (or you told)? My boyfriend.  Then I'd phone my family up straight after.  Hope I get that opportunity in the future. :)
I'll raise a guilty hand and admit I borrowed this idea of Jaime.  I've just done those blog awards and I don't know that many people still so I'll just be repeating blogs I've tagged already and the last thing they probably want is to add more meme posts when they probably want to talk about their writing or books.  So, if you like the questions and want to add them on your blog, feel free to.  But do link your answers here or just leave a comment.  I'd love to read them. :)

Here are the questions:

1) Which books of today do you think could be considered classic literature in years to come? It can be from any market and any genre. 
2) What book would you love to see turned into a film and why?
3) We can all have little fantasies about our writing turned into films.  So be honest here... have you chosen a cast for your novel? And if so, who have you picked?
4) Describe your dream holiday.
5) Favourite childhood show?
6) Did you have an idol growing up? If so, who?
7) Is there a particular time of day you prefer writing?
8) If you could have a superpower what would it be?
9) Is there a genre you haven't written for before that you would like to try in the future?
10) Is there anything you're most looking forward to this year?
11) Apart from writing and reading, what are your hobbies?

Blog Love to Share

Finally getting round to giving my thanks and passing on to some amazing blogs.  I waited a little bit because I'm still being introduced to new blogs and wanted to know a few more bloggers.  And waiting has paid off.  There are so many new blogs that I've started following who are absolutely fantastic.

The first award is the Kreativ Blogger award, passed on by Jaime

The rules:
1. Link back to whoever passed the award to you
2. Share 10 facts about yourself
3. Pass the award on to six people

The second is the Liebster Blog, passed on to blogs with less than 200 followers who come up with wonderful and interesting posts.  This was passed on by Theresa

The rules:
1) Say five things about myself
2) Pass on to ten bloggers. 

I'm going to choose five bloggers for both awards.  And I don't want to bore you with facts about myself so I'll choose five favourite films.

1) The Lost Boys
2) Bride Wars
3) Rise of the Planet of the Apes
4) Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
5) Labyrinth

The blogs:
Crystal Schubert 
Tarah Dunn
Sara Biren
Juliana Haygert
Laurie Dennison

If you haven't checked out these blogs yet then click on the links ASAP! They are fantastic and thoughtful bloggers.  I'm sure you'd enjoy what they have to say. :)

15 Feb 2012

RTW: Word Vomit

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What words do you absolutely hate? Which ones do you adore?

I can think of two words that I've never liked.  Belly and babe.  Why? I'm not exactly sure but I know I've always hated the way it sounds as a word.  I like the words stomach and tummy but never belly.  As for babe - well I now have another reason why I can't stand them.  I've just made the mistake of telling my boyfriend this and he's currently a broken record saying "belly babe" to me over and over again. 
But prior to this, I've just never liked being called babe or calling others babe.  It sounds childish to me and never personal.  I like pet names that mean something to the person.  Like my family's habit of calling me noodles when I was a child (although I don't really know how that nickname came about - they foresaw my love of Chinese food perhaps??) and my boyfriend's tendency to call me silly bear.

One word I do like is dilemma.  It has a nice ring to it and it sounds more sophisticated than problem.  A couple of others are fantastical, otherworldly and whimsical.  They sound fun and strong as describing words.  And I've also realised I like saying the word "lovely" a lot.

14 Feb 2012

Ode to university

Dear Leeds Trinity University College,

University didn't make me start writing.  I was doing that well before I even started applying.  But I think it made me the writer I am today.  When I first stepped onto the campus in September 2008, I was all about the horror.  YA Horror.  That's the kind of writer I was.  Not very versatile and rarely stepped out of my comfort zone.  I took your course in English and Writing because I wanted a degree that gave me options career-wise.  I could have English and use it to move onto whatever I wanted to do, all the while having options to fall back on if my plans failed.  As for the writing side of the course I wanted to learn more.  I could have settled in with journalism students but I wanted to be with other writers.  Share my work and get feedback and talk about our projects together.  The first time I visited your campus I fell in love with you and knew it was where I wanted to be.

I had a fantastic time.  I did meet fellow writers and was taught by two very awesome lecturers, one a poetry guy, the other into prose.  I met my boyfriend there who I've been so happy with for almost two years now.  But most of all I was introduced to my interests and inspirations.  In second year we took a module called Life Writing.  Learning to draw experiences from life into autobiographical and biographical creative pieces.  Prior to that there was nothing about my life that seemed interesting enough so I was set on never using life writing in any piece.  Then I kept going back to London where I grew up and started to realise that most of my friends there weren't really bothered to stay in touch with me.  And then it made me think about our friendship to begin with.  How often they had made me feel left out and different.  At the same time I was also living with two freaks in rented accommodation.  They were moody with me often, anti-social, and had nasty, cliquey attitudes.  Another experience to use in a future w.i.p.  All of a sudden I thought about Life Writing and how I could actually use it.  The people I knew in London actually inspired small aspects of my third year writing project.

In third year we had three creative writing modules, two were Writing Practises and Writing for Children.  The latter was a dream come true! I was totally looking forward to learning more about writing for younger people.  There I discovered more things I actually liked writing about in addition to horror and life writing.  In Writing Practises we were looking at experimental writing.  I hated it at first.  I'm a straight forward kind of girl so experimenting and messing around with writing rules wasn't really my thing.  Then I started looking at fictocriticism and found it quite interesting.  I worked on two projects for my overall portfolio and came out with a piece on degeneration using fictocriticism my growing obsessing with 19th century Gothic and two narratives arguing with each other over a fictional fantasy book.  In Writing For Children I tried my hand at fantasy again, creating a world and a plot along with sample chapters for my end of year project.  So what did third year bring? An interest for experimental writing and fantasy for children.

So Leeds Trinity University College, I love you! You helped me develop more writing interests and loves. More genres that I would love to write for and more ideas to keep in store for the future.  YA is still my market but I'm not a one-genre girl anymore.  Be my Valentine?

Love,

Robin

13 Feb 2012

Duos

Yep, another blogger with a Valentine's Day themed blog post.  But not just on love between a girl and boy.  And not just on couple relationships.  I wanted to talk about all relationships and duos, not just couples.  Bromance, sisterhood, hero and sidekick etc.  I'll admit I can feel wary about fictional romance.  Sometimes it just isn't believable for me.  And what I also tend to do is heart non-couples.  Friends, brothers, sisters, mothers and daughters etc.  Sometimes I find their relationships better written than romance.  And Valentine's Day can be for anything.  I've seen cards for parents, brothers, friends.  You can proclaim your love for anyone and anything.  So let's talk awesome duos.  In film, literature, and television.

My top duos are:

Willow and Oz (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Such a cute couple.  I loved how Oz was introduced in the background, noticing Willow and bumping into her quite a few times.  Yet Willow had no idea and followed the scooby gang in their adventures, not knowing that a certain werewolf to be was desperately trying to talk to her.  I loved seeing Willow happy and blossoming in confidence as someone finally took notice of her and I was a sucker for Oz's devotion for her.  He was never a boy of words but you could see it in his actions and the way he looked at her that he was smitten.  No need for flowery prose or dramatic declarations of love.  That little witch pen he gave her in season 3 and the times when he'd just reach up and stroke her hair said it all.

Jonah and Jesse (Break)

I loved the relationship these brothers had.  In a house full of anger and illness and worry Jesse and Jonah stuck together, trying to control the chaos in their family life themselves when their parents failed to.  Apart from Jesse's allergies and Jonah's mental state of mind they attempted to try and work at things, taking on responsibilities even though it often led to arguments between themselves as well.  But one thing was never lost: the worry and love they had for each other.  Jonah worried for Jesse's life overall while Jesse worried about his older brother's antics. 

Katniss and Gale (The Hunger Games... so far)

Okay, so I haven't exactly finished the book yet but I really, really love the relationship I'm reading now between Gale and Katniss.  I know it's going to turn into a love triangle but I enjoyed reading about their strong friendship.  At the moment, it's two teenagers who hunt together and teach each other new tricks.  They're there for each other for cheering up and staying strong in a dismal world and it's touching how much Katniss is missing Gale at the moment.  Not in a 'I can't live without him nearby' way.  She misses him because she just needs comfort as the games draw near.  She just wants someone to talk to who can say the right thing or make her feel safer.  It's sweet and friendly for now. 

Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (Discworld)

Here's Terry Pratchett showing that the elderly can be just as awesome as young character.  For Granny you have a strict, poker-faced crone who doesn't let her emotions show.  And then there's Nanny Ogg with her raunchy attitude and pleasant nature.  They're the absolute opposite of each other and yet they have a close friendship with Granny briefly opening up to Nanny a few times.  Something you wouldn't see her doing with others. 

The Doctor and Amy Pond (Doctor Who)

It all started in childhood.  For Amy Pond he's the Raggedy Doctor who appeared to her briefly to fix a crack in the wall.  Then he offered her an adventure into space and finally got back to her twelve years later.  Matt Smith's Doctor isn't the most reliable incarnation and poor Amy went through years of therapy as a result of it.  Yet she followed the Doctor without hesitation becoming one of his closest friends and always (although not intentionally!) waiting for him.  Even putting a plate out for him at every meal after he disappeared from her life just in case he turned up.  It's the childhood aspect of her relationship with him that I loved.  How he turned into a childhood idol for her, someone who stayed in her imagination for years.  The Doctor was a hero to her who she always had so much faith in. 

Who are your top duos?

12 Feb 2012

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

I feel a bit down about this because I've always tried to finish books so I can make a proper judgement.  Unfortunately I tried to get through The Turn of the Screw and I just couldn't get through more of it.  So it's an unfinished one for me. 

The problems I had with it was the narrative.  When it came to the new governess' p.o.v I found it too dramatic at times and that was what put me off.  The fact that she just seemed to know things. Know what these ghosts wanted.  Maybe I missed out a clue that led her to believe the ghosts were after the children but that's how it seemed to me.  Although it's a short novel I was almost halfway through before the ghostly experiences began.  I would have liked to have seen some hints that the place was odd - maybe from the children or Mrs. Grose.  Something building up to that first encounter with the ghosts.  Before they appeared the governess' thoughts seemed to revolve around the mystery of Miles' behaviour at school.  Her narrative was only concerned about that so there was a lot of repetition in her thoughts.  Too much time was spent talking about this news and how innocent the children were.

I feel bad about giving up because I was so excited to read the novel and I hate quitting.  It's a ghost story which is my little obsession at the moment and I was looking forward to reading more 19th century books.  I loved the module I took on it at university and was eager to read more from the period.  I might try and come back to it in the future but for now I've put it aside.

11 Feb 2012

News to Novels #6

This week I found a couple of character-inspiring articles rather than trying to find ones that could be used for stories.  One particularly stood out that made me think of the kind of characters we like to come up with for W.I.Ps.  I'll get to that post sometime in the next few days.

Alex, 26, Psychic
From her glowing tan to her false eyelashes Alex Thornhill is ever inch the glamorous Essex girl.  But what you wouldn't predict is that Alex us a crystal, ball-bothering psychic. 

Gift a life
Brave Hannah Pudsey died tragically young - but enjoyed her 24 short years to the full.  She knew the true value of life after getting a new heart as she stared death in the face aged just 13.  It gave her a chance to enjoy growing up, passing her driving test, getting a job, and meeting the man of her dreams. 
The ending would be upsetting but just seeing a girl learn to love the life she has and go on this journey to do as many things as possible just so she doesn't waste a second of it would be touching.  But what would her attitude be to others who believe they have it rough? I know I've gotten irritated towards people who use their parent issues as an excuse to be nasty to others.  So would a character like this try and help others who are finding it hard to cope with a problem or would it cause problems with others?

Woman pleads guilty to stealing newborn baby from arms of mother in hospital and raising her for 23 years
A woman pleaded guilty to kidnapping yesterday after snatching a newborn baby in 1987 and raising the child as her own for more than two decades.
Imagine finding out that your mother or father or both parents were actually your kidnappers.  The people who raised you with love.  It would be hard to accept they'd be capable of doing something like this.  And what about your real parents? How difficult would it be to move into a completely new house with people you've never met or lived with before? And what would happen to those feelings you had for the couple who you thought were your parents?

10 Feb 2012

Friday Fives: Show some sidekick love!

I've seen a few blogs take part in Friday Fives for a while now.  It looked like fun so here I am this week! I'm taking part and sharing some awesome literary love.  This week:

Who are your five favourite literary sidekicks?

1) INIGO MONTOYA from The Princess Bride

Inigo, of course, is more than a sidekick.  He becomes a memorable character in his own right with his determination to study sword fighting just to avenge his father.  Six fingered men beware! He's not just assisting pirates and taking on the odd kidnapping job.  He's on the hunt with a well rehearsed introduction.

2) Neville Longbottom from the Harry Potter series

Ah, Neville.  From dorky, bullied and timid boy to loyal ally of Harry, Dumbledore and all that is good.  He was never the greatest wizard at Hogwarts but he was still ready to fight and show everyone that Gryffindor was the right house for him.  I liked that it wasn't a sudden burst of confidence but something that grew as the series went.  I remember from the first book where he stands up to Ron, Harry and Hermione, ready to stop them from breaking more rules.  In Neville's mind he just wanted to make sure his house didn't lose more points and get into trouble.  Talk about loyalty and consideration for so many peers as well as taking that brave decision to gain the confidence to speak up for what he thought was the wrong thing to do.  This ended up with Neville being rewarded ten points at the end of the school year for Gryffindor and ultimately made them the winning house as they had just been equal with Slytherin.  That was my favourite Neville Longbottom moment, even topping the 7th book.

3) Nanny Ogg from Discworld

Somewhere I always find a chance to rave about an aspect of Discworld. ;) This time it's the hilarious Nanny Ogg of the witches' storyline.  There's Granny Weatherwax with her cold demeanour and Agnes Nitt with her split personality issue but Nanny Ogg is my favourite of the trio.  At first it's her pleasant and friendly nature, being a well-liked member of Lancre that I like.  Then it's her little oddities like the rude garden gnomes and her annual bath night that is feared by the townsfolk.  I just love a good comic character.

4) Johnny Cade from The Outsiders
A very tragic end for a remarkable secondary character.  Johnny was the quiet Greaser with a poor home life and had already had a frightening experience of being attacked by the Socs prior to the book's beginning.  So when the enemy gang attack him and Ponyboy again (the narrator + MC), almost killing his friend, Johnny makes a move that ruins his life and in fear he runs just because of self-defence.  But running was just the beginning. 

5) Watch from Spooksville
This is going all the way back to my childhood but even now I still remember how much I enjoyed this MG series as a child and how fascinating I found the character of Watch.  He was the quietest member of the tween gang (I seem to have a habit of liking the shy, quiet ones) and the most mysterious.  Watch's background was never really looked into.  The series hinted that he lived alone and his real name was never mentioned.  Everything about him was secretive and he wasn't usually the type to stand in the spotlight.  The one rare time we saw a trace of how he even felt about his life was in The Invasion of the No-Ones where he considers immortality and escapism from the life he currently leads.  Such sad feelings for a boy of twelve.  I would have loved to have seen more about his character in the books.

8 Feb 2012

RTW: Snap!

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:

What SNI were you psyched to work on, but discovered it was too close to something already done?
 
I remember being so pysched about an idea I had years back.  It was another vampire W.I.P where there was a community completed ruled and plagued by vampires.  There were curfew laws, a council of vampires, and a team of rogues who were starting a revolution.  Yeah, bad ideas but I was fifteen and had lots of improvement ahead of me.  Then I finally got hold of Buffy season 3 (I was too young too start watching it when series 3 premiered) and caught The Wish episode.  The community of Sunnydale was very similar to what I wanted for my idea.  Worried that it would just be seen as a copy cat so I chucked it.  The idea still springs to mind now and again.  Maybe I can tweak it in the future but for now it's just an old idea that didn't go anywhere.

5 Feb 2012

News to Novels #5

Continuing from an article I posted in News to Novels #3 I found another article focusing on reality TV:

The Only Pay Is Essex
Who'd have thought white stilettos, fake tan and vajazzles would be the secret ingredients for kick-starting the economy.  But, as we revealed yesterday, sales of these TOWIE essentials have pumped a whopping £1.4 billion into the High Street.  This even beats the £1 billion spent by fans copying Kate Middleton.  Here, Dulcie Pearce meets two girls who blow all their wages on keeping up with the Essex reality show favourites.
It just adds to the growing obsession of reality TV and the fans who would do anything to be like them.  It starts with saying you're a fan, then copying a style, to full-blown dressing yourself up to actually look like them.  Where does it end? Maybe one day a fan will go too far and try to kill the reality star just to have their life.  From what I've read of it so far The Hunger Games shows a reality where death is everyone's entertainment.  Not surprising when they see people going completely insane through the isolation of Big Brother and the insect eating, fear facing tasks of I'm A Celebrity.  Audiences do actually like to see people go through hell.  Yes, it's voluntary but people enjoy it.  The contestants probably enjoy it just because it's good publicity.  So Suzanne Collins jumped in with reality TV evolving until death is the new entertainment... what about other horror stories revolving around it? Like the fans.  The girls interviewed in article spend hundreds each month to look like their idols.  One girl, £551, and the other £460.  The latter only earns £700 a month with credit card debt yet insists that it is all worth it.  She quotes: 'But I'd rather look like the TOWIE crew and be in debt than not'.  Unhealthy? Very.  What kind of story could you get from this?

Jelly's Been Raining Down
These blue jelly-like balls the size of large marbles rained down on a suburban garden in a freak shower.  Steve and Carol Hornsby found dozens outside their home after a hail storm in Bournemouth last week.  The balls don't smell, float, or dissolve and Steve, 61, has been unable to find out what they are.
Another article on the subject can be found here.  Maybe it's the sci-fi geek in me but my first thought was 'this is how alien invasion fiction starts out'.  Mysterious objects or substance from the sky? And here we have the next alien invasion novel!

Do you cannibal killer, take vampire murderess as your awful dreaded wife?
A killer cannibal and a Satan-worshipping vampire were branded the world's most evil couple yesterday after they got engaged. 
The story would be very dark and gruesome but what would happen to these two if they were allowed to get married? Would we have a very sadistic Bonnie and Clyde on our hands? How long would they last before they turned on each other?

3 Feb 2012

Things to look forward to...

Was it me or did January take such a long time? Phew, I'm absolutely exhausted and ready for the last week of term! I was hoping January would be busy, busy, busy.  In a way it was but not doing the jobs I hoped to get done.  Editing and lots of reading had been planned.  Instead I've juggled a cold and a horrible virus at work along with plenty of days where the class teacher was away so of course the terror children act up and cause chaos.  Those days usually ended with me collapsing on the sofa unable to move and curling up with a blanket, falling asleep before it even reaches seven.  Any spare time was done keeping on top of the cleaning so my flat doesn't resemble the local dump.  Absolutely exhausted and feeling like there has been no time to do anything!

Hopefully with a holiday I'll have a chance to rest and get some reading done faster.  Today I had the idea to do a post on the month ahead.  At the end of each month I'd write down a few things that I'm looking forward to.  Just anything.  Could be a favourite meal that I haven't had in a while to a book I've been waiting to come out.

For February I'm looking forward to...

The holidays.  Need to sleep off these million and one illnesses in my system!

A tasty meal out on Sunday. 

Reading The Hunger Games.

The Woman in Black comes out in the cinema.

Being introduced to news books to read.

Celebrating my mum's birthday.

What are you looking forward to this month?

1 Feb 2012

RTW: The best of January

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:  
What was the best book you read in January?
 

This is where I raise a guilty hand and say that I haven't actually done much reading in January.  I see people who speed through books but I've always been a slow reader.  If I read fast I miss out on important parts or skip a section that leaves me confused later on. 
But so far of what I have read I did love Break (Review here) by Hannah Moskowitz.  Lately I've been having trouble picking up a YA book because nothing has really appealed to me that much.  I was worried I was changing and YA was too young for me now.  That it wasn't what I was interested in anymore.  And how can I write for a genre I stopped reading about? Those worries have been going through my head for a while now.  But Break reminded me that I do still love YA, I do love reading about teenagers and there are still books out there that are my kind of thing.  The book was psychological with teenagers going through a lot of shit and the adults responding with 'is this because you don't get enough attention?'.  Boy, did that reasoning send me back to my teens.  Where it seems like adults dismiss you as crazy with nothing really important to say because why should something affect you badly like this? Yeah, I could sympathise with Jonah and this brought me back to why I love YA and why I've kept reading it, even into my twenties.  As I get older I move further away from my teens and books like Break remind me about what it was like to be a teenager.  It can be a pretty dramatic time but I need to remember something like that when I write YA or in the future if I ever have children of my own who will go through those tormenting and confusing years.  So that's why Break makes my best book of January.  Because it helps me to remember.