Archive | January, 2012

WRITING: Writing Prompts

18 Jan

I’m really good at having ideas, generally speaking. All the time, I’m being hit from left field by ideas for things to write about. Admittedly, I have about seven or eight ideas that I squeeze and cobble together with the new ideas to make them even better (I hope!).

The thing is, sometimes I’m waiting for that spark. I was lucky enough to get that spark with my NaNoWriMo novel, and I’m hoping to get it with the next novel I plan to write, since it still needs to be plotted and tweaked and revised before I even begin writing.

So, occasionally, I will start cheating.

I use creative writing prompts. They’re amazing. They don’t always seem totally relevant to what you’re writing at the time. But if you try to write a short story, for example, based on one of the writing prompts you encounter, you may create a character or a setting that is perfect for a bigger project. Try it, I dare you. Here are some links to some great creative writing prompt websites:

If you get a short story, or a novel or an epic poem or anything else out of these prompts, let me know!! I would love to check it out! Drop me an email or a comment, and let me know if you’re taking the prompt plunge!

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READING: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

10 Jan

Reading: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Why you should be reading: Theme (Identity)

I’ve been ruminating on the topic of race a lot lately. I know its a touchy subject because once people get to talking about, it’s almost certain that someone is bound to get offended or be embarrassed or any multitude of emotions, even if all of the people in the room are of the same race, let alone if there are people of two or more races in one room. Boy. I think we’ve all been in that situation, whether friends have gathered and the conversation veered in that direction or a classroom discussion, generated by by a reading, or a movie.

I’ve recently (last week!) transferred to a university far more diverse than the one I used to attend, where I was one of just a few black people. Now, I see many more black people, white people, Asian students, people of Arabic and Indian descent—every single day. But I only know what it’s like to be one race, and the struggles and challenges presented by that. I have no idea what’s like to be bi- or multiracial, but that’s exactly the life depicted in Heidi W. Durrow’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.

Durrow tells the story of Rachel, the child of one black parent (a military G.I.) and one white parent (a Danish woman). Tragically, at a very young age, Rachel is the only living person in her immediate family, and she’s forced to move into a mostly black neighborhood and live with her strict grandmother. Suddenly, Rachel, who’s never really be forced to see herself as one race, is living in a world that wants her to choose—white or black.

As the story progresses, the reader is also treated to the general ups and downs a young girl might face. Rachel has to deal with fitting in at school, puberty, boys, and doing all of the self-evaluation every young person goes through.

Durrow paints her world with such painstaking depth and truth, that in moments of the novel, I honestly felt as though she could have been writing moments from my life, from the couch of my living room, jotting down the words of my aunts and uncles.

All of this is mixed in with a little mystery, and the reader is kept in the dark about some of the events surrounding Rachel, which keeps the story chugging along as the reader is left to question, how, when and why?

Rachel is such an accessible character, because even though her racial identity is such a huge struggle for her, it’s just one facet of the other ways she chooses to identify herself. The great thing about this novel is that it doesn’t deny the effect our race and it’s history has on us. But it does beg the question: Is that all we are? Does that really have to be the only way to define us?

I think that many of us would say, “No, of course not,” but it happens each and every day, from people of all races. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky challenges that, and shows us, through Rachel how to break out and away from that mindset.

So, what topics, big or small have you been thinking about lately? Have you read The Girl Who Fell from the Sky? Or maybe you’ve heard Heidi W. Durrow speak? Let me know, leave a comment below!

(Photo Credit)

OBSESSION: Ryan Gosling Reads

5 Jan

If you spend any time on the internet, you’ve probably seen the Ryan Gosling Memes such as Ryan Gosling Is An English Major, or Ryan Gosling Reads Young Adult. If you haven’t please, click now! It’s hilarious, for anyone who enjoys reading, particularly the classics, or popular YA Lit. Or anyone who writes for that matter:

(Photo Credit)

To hilarious and apropos not to post! If only it were true.

 

WATCHING: Wait Until Dark

5 Jan

Watching: Wait Until Dark
Why you should be watching: Mystery, Suspense, the element of surprise

(Photo Credit)

This won’t be the first time I’ve discussed an Audrey Hepburn film. And it probably won’t be the last. Regardless, Wait Until Dark is amazing. You need to watch it. In your house. Alone. With all the lights out. You will be terrified, and it will be awesome.

If you’ve never seen it, the 1967 classic staring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin, is based on a play of the same name. The film opens with a woman, Lisa, in Montreal,waiting for an old man to sew bags of drugs into the body of a cloth doll. She catches a flight to New York, but when she gets off the plane, she sees a man watching her, and gives the doll to someone else for safe keeping. Hepburn stars at Susy Hendrix, a young woman who was blinded in a car accident. She lives in a basement apartment in New York City with her husband, professional photographer, Sam. Sam was the man to whom Lisa gave the doll. Lisa calls looking for it. Sam and Susy can’t find it. Uh-oh.

Two men, Mike and Carlino enter Susy and Sam’s apartment while both are away. They were supposed to meet Lisa, but are instead greeted by a man named Roat (Arkin). And Lisa’s dead body. Turns out, Lisa was in business with Mike and Carlino before they both ended up in prison, and she planned to cheat Roat out of the money from the drugs, until he caught her at the airport, after she gave the doll to Sam. Following so far? He’s tracked the doll to Sam and Susy, but doesn’t know much else, but since he’s worn gloves and Mike and Carlino have not, their fingerprints are all over the apartment, and he forces them to help him get rid of Lisa’s body and help him find the doll.

Then, one of the most suspense plotlines ever really begins.

Sam and Susy’s neighbor both leave—Sam has a business trip—leaving Susy very much alone. Mike, Carlino and Roat begin a complicated con-game, playing on Susy’s blindness. As the con-game gets more and more tangled and Susy begins to slowly catch on to what’s going on around her, the tension builds for the characters and the audience.

In a stroke of brilliance, Susy decides to put the con-artists in the dark, by literally killing all the lights, making them just as blind as she is, ensuring things are about to get really ugly and really scary. They do.

The writers already make things suspenseful because the audience knows way more than Susy. We know right off the bat these are bad guys, and it is torture for the audience to watch her invite them into her home, and see them play multiple characters and do all kinds of things she can’t even see! SO. FRUSTRATING.

Then there’s the physical tension, with the slights slowly going out one by one. And then there is one of the most frightening scenes in cinematic history, I kid you not. I refuse to provide a link to the footage. Go watch the movie. Get inspired.

 

Have you ever seen Wait Until Dark? Did you get scared? Isn’t it exhausting? Let me know—leave a comment!

No READING post tonight!

2 Jan

Sadface. Normally, I would take today to talk about something I’ve read and how it shaped my writing, but I moved into the dorms at a new college today, so I am just plum tuckered out. But you should watch the Winter Premier of Pretty Little Liars, which airs tonight in less than FIFTEEN minutes!

Oh, Hey There 2012

1 Jan

I’m of a group of people who think there’s something inherently wonderful and depressing about New Year’s Eve. Without being Debbie Downer, I recognize the melancholy in it. Unless you had a truly amazing year, you’re probably looking back at 2011 and thinking: I wish I’d done that differently.

But I’m trying to teach myself how to embrace the bad, along with the good. In 2011, I broke down in tears in the middle of my living room because I realized I couldn’t go back to the life I was living in. I wasn’t in the right place, and no one could change that but me. I took a semester off. I cried some more. I worried my mother. I fought with my family. I had ups and downs. I fought with my best friend, I said venomous, awful, hateful things. I transferred schools, I laughed through the tears. I made apologies. I finished a novel. I started this blog. I literally changed my life.

It was up and down, 2011. It was horrid and beautiful and blessed and I am so lucky to be on this earth to go through it all. At around 12:45 this morning, I said to my best friend that I don’t believe in resolutions because they get inevitably broken. He laughed and said, “Wow, optimistic.”

But I think I lied. I do. I want a few things for myself and out of 2012.

1. I need to write more. I’m so proud of the novel I wrote in 2011, but I need to venture into more screenwriting. And I need to go it more often. GOAL: Outline my screenplay from now until the end of March. Bring it.

2. Edit 2011’s novel this summer.

3. Update the blog more often.

4. Remember why I changed my life to begin with.

So here’s to you 2011. You were crazy, heartbreaking, silly and outrageous, but your time is done. Hello to you, 2012. May you be as equally crazy, heartbreaking, silly and outrageous, though I could do with a little more beauty, less procrastination and a lot more luck. That would be great.