Pretty Little Liars: We Find Out Who “A” Is!

14 Dec

(Photo Credit)

I’ve talked about my love for Pretty Little Liars in the past, and my fervor hasn’t fizzled out. In fact, the fire has just been flamed! Earlier today, in an article from Entertainment Weekly (and in many tweets from cast and crew of PLL, in particular, I. Marlene King, @imarleneking, executive producer) it was revealed that at the end of season two, we will get to see who “A” is! If you’re like me, you’re wondering how can this be! You may also have spent half and hour theorizing with your mom or best friend or anyone who would listen. Check out the original article for details!

Need someone to chat with about the upcoming mystery? Can’t wait for Season Two, part two? Drop a comment or shoot me an email, I want to know your best bet for “A.”

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INSPIRATION: December Playlist (You Know You Love Dean Martin)

14 Dec

Track listing:

My apologies if you’re not that into Drake. Personally, I CAN NOT stop listening to Take Care. “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” has been including simply because it is the very best of cold-weather songs. Please do not argue with me on this one. I’m right. But if you just have to contest it, drop me a comment!

You can listen to the playlist in its entirety HERE.

READING: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

13 Dec

Reading: “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Why you should be reading: Perspective

(Photo Credit)

Last week I covered The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, which I adored on a couple levels, but most importantly, the book really made me take a look at the masculine perspective in literature, which I’d really been lacking in my literary experience.

This week, I’m covering a classic in the female perspective. In a similar experience to mine with The Sun Also Rises, I’ve had a couple of male friends who’ve claimed they saw new insight into the female mind after reading “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

Considered a staple of feminist literature, the novel is told in epistolary format, of journal entries. It tells the story of the unnamed narrator, who had recently had a child, and is suffering from some mental issues. Modern medicine tells us, she’s suffering from postpartum depression, though at the time, women were considered more fragile, and thought to be prone to vague and mysterious mental and physical conditions.

Her husband, a doctor, prescribes her with treatment. To be locked in a room in their new home. Indefinitely. He controls whether or not she can leave the house, who she can speak with, and even whether or not she can write in the journal.

As time goes on, she becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room. She is desperate to release the women who are stuck behind the pattern. Yes, in short, she looses her ever-loving mind. In the end, the woman (spoiler alert) is found walking the room, rubbing her shoulder up against the wall as she circuits the room. She has done this so many times, the wallpaper has actually blurred.

I was actually so stunned and creeped out when I read this, my reaction was just something like THIS.

I’m not the only person I know who was really changed by “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Lots of men I’ve met were just as creeped out and disturbed as I was. It was an awakening to the female perspective in literature, and that’s why everyone should read it. Especially if you like to be creeped-out. I shudder just thinking about it.

 

What do you think? Have you read it? Do you think it’s creepy? Have you read literature that gave yo a similar awakening of some kind? Let me know!

 

 

READING: The Sun Also Rises

6 Dec

Reading: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Why you should read it: Perspective

(Photo Credit)

As a young woman and both a writer and avid reader, I’ve been exposed to little literature with a strong theme of masculinity. For most of my high school experience, whenever there was any intense focus on gender perspective, it was usually the female perspective. I’ve read a lot of the classics, and a lot of them do touch on both, but—though I didn’t realize it then—the male perspective wasn’t as prominent in discussion and assignment. When I read for fun, my tastes ran toward typically female-dominated genres like romance and YA literature, and though there are men who write both, I didn’t usually pick up books with a strong, male protagonist. As a woman, I wanted to read about women, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

When I was assigned The Sun Also Rises in college, I was in for the intensely masculine experience of protagonist, Jake Barnes. Up until then, my experience with Hemingway was limited, but not totally null. I’d read two of his short stories—“The Killers” and “Hills Like White Elephants”—which I loved, and The Old Man and the Sea, which I hated. And still hate, for the record. There were a lot of elements in Hemingway’s style that I could leave or take. While the legendary, economical quality of his writing is impressive, it can also be a little brusque and abrasive. For the most part, I could leave or take Hemingway.

Then I read The Sun Also Rises. Thought to be semi-autobiographical, the novel is about Jake Barnes, an American expatriate living in Paris during the 1920s. The novel begins with Jake explaining what kind of guy his friend, Robert Cohn is. He talks about how Robert is kind of a weakling, a little sniveling, his wife walked out on him, etc. etc. Basically, he’s the exact kind of guy Jake doesn’t want to be.

But Jake’s own sense of manhood is called into question for two reasons. One: his relationship with Lady Brett Ashley. Brett is kind of a hot mess. She’s good-looking and smart, but she hops from man to man seeking fortune and and attention. But she always comes back to Jake whenever she really needs help or she’s looking for something “real.” But she says she’ll never get in a relationship with him for the second reason. Jake suffered an injury in the war that’s left him impotent, though the extent of this injury is never really explained.

Jake, Brett, Robert and a couple more people, including Brett’s fiancee take a trip to Spain to see some bullfights. Thematically, the bullfights are everything. They’re sex, love, masculinity, passion, all rolled into one symbolic event.

But the real interesting part of the novel for me was watching Jake struggle to define and live with his own manhood, even though he’s impotent and has to watch the love of his life dally around with man after man, including Robert Cohn. The struggle in that is what makes the whole book interesting, and what made me remember why I so liked the Hemingway of his short stories, and forget why I hated The Old Man and the Sea.

The point is, there’s a reason why The Sun Also Rises is a classic. It will always be one of my favorites because Hemingway explores masculinity and what it’s like to be a man without having to be vulgar, or obvious. Hemingway claimed that being simple and direct produced the greatest writing. Maybe so, and though I won’t be taking on his style anytime soon, I appreciate the perspective he writes from, in a manner that’s eloquent and unadorned.

INSPIRATION: James Rosenquist’s The Facet

6 Dec

(Photo Credit)

I love Pop Art. Rosenquist’s The Facet is one of my absolute favorites of all time! Can you see a story there?

WRITING: Seventeen Magazine Fiction Contest, vote for me!

5 Dec

Seventeen Magazine has partnered with Figment Fiction and Scholastic to offer a contest for fiction writers. I entered and suggest that anyone else who qualifies should too! Unfortunately for some, you have to be a girl between the ages of 13 and 21. But if you fit this criteria, you should enter the contest and compete for a chance at $5,000!

I would really LOVE to win, and I’ve been agonizing over my entry for months. If you do happen to enter, or have an account with the wonderful Figment Fiction can you “heart” my story, and give me a vote? Drop me an email and we can talk entries, and how hard it was to tell a story in just 500 words!

Vote for me HERE.

Follow Seventeen and Figment Fiction on Twitter at @seventeenmag and @Figmentfiction!

And get those entries in by December 31st!!

The Hunger Games: new book covers!

5 Dec

(Photo Credit)

In this article from Entertainment Weekly, new photos of tie-in book covers for The Hunger Games just before the March release of the movie, and just in time for Christmas! Click over to the original article for the other two covers!

WRITING: writing prompts

4 Dec

I’m writing the last chapter of my NaNoWriMo novel. By writing, I mean getting a page in, erasing it all and starting all over again. Numerous times. The thing is, I’m not entirely sure why I’m unable to finish this book. I don’t know if it’s because NaNoWriMo is over and the push for those 1,667 words is over. It could be that I just can’t tame the perfectionist inside. Maybe I’m just too excited to start my next project. Or, maybe, it’s that I’ve entered the denouement of my novel, and I just don’t want it to end (or I’m finding things less interesting now that the climax has passed).

The point, is that this isn’t the first time I’ve been stuck while crafting a story. Though this obstacle is internal, that doesn’t mean my brain can’t be sparked by something external. So, this wouldn’t be first time I ever turned to a writing prompt. Though they aren’t all great, sometimes all you need is a combination of items or, just the seed of an idea to get your motor revving and your brain moving.

Whether you need to start, or finish.

Today’s goal: finish the NaNoWriMo novel. Tomorrow’s goal: not look at my computer screen at all. (except, you know, to check Twitter, email, Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest. Sigh.) Check out the list of writing prompts below! Let me know if any of them inspire you!

  • These writing prompts are from Writer’s Digest! Always interesting and diverse!
  • These are from creativewritingprompts.com! I chose by my favorite number, and then picked any with my number in it. Do it however you want!
  • Lastly, I recently found this awesome Tumblr, by Luke Neff! That the prompts are illustrated only makes it more wonderful!

WATCHING: The Secret Circle

1 Dec

Watching: The Secret Circle

Why you should be watching: Clichés

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This freshman drama from The CW network based on the book series by L.J. Smith (of Vampire Diaries fame) is already kind of addicting. I’m super-excited for the return of the show in early January. It’s an interesting blend of teen drama and the supernatural. I’m no newbie to either genre. I count The O.C and the early years of One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl among my favorites in the former category, and Charmed and True Blood in the latter.And these in addition to the probably hundreds of books I’ve read in either category, and usually with plenty of overlap, like the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, or the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz.

Needless to say, I’ve encountered just about every cliché in the genre, and The Secret Circle hits just about every single one of them. However (huge however), this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The show revolves around newly orphaned Cassie Blake, who moves back to her mother’s hometown to live with her maternal grandmother. While in town, Cassie is approached by various members of a group of five teenagers. The thing is, each of them is one part of a circle of witches, that there families have been involved in going back for generations. They need Cassie to complete the circle of six, and must convince her of her powers. All while keeping their powers secret from the rest of the town—including their parents! Along the way, The Secret Circle taps about every cliché you could expect to see, but in a totally awesome way. There’s a reason clichés exist, right?

WARNING: spoilers ahead! If you haven’t seen all the episodes of The Secret Circle but plan on it, stop reading! If it doesn’t matter, or you’re all caught up, read on!

The Love Triangle

The love triangle has been done to death. And its pretty much been a requirement since Twilight (though writers were doing it before and more deftly, just saying). But there’s a reason it works.

Early on, we encounter long time GF and BF (and members of the circle) Diana Meade and Adam Conant. Cassie and Adam are attracted to each other pretty much from the moment Cassie moves to Chance Harbor. He’s the first person she works magic with, and consequently, he splits her world wide open. And then there’s Diana.Arguably Cassie’s best friend in town, Diana is super-sweet and nice to Cassie even though she doesn’t know her. And then there’s Adam’s father, Ethan, an alcoholic who owns a local restaurant/bar who tells Adam that his and Cassie’s relationship is written in the stars (like, his should have been with Cassie’s mom, but that didn’t happen). Though Cassie and Adam never really act on their burgeoning feelings for each other, they have enough chemistry and show it often enough that Diana actually breaks up with Adam!

(Adam and Cassie, makin’ magic. Photo Credit.)

Whew! Now, here’s why The Secret Circle is awesome: in an emotion and unexpected twist, after the break up, it’s Diana who goes running right to Cassie, because she dosen’t think that anyone else could understand it better. As of the mid-season finale, though there were some obvious tensions, Cassie and Adam still hadn’t hooked up and Cassie and Diana were still friends. (Though, if you’re like me, you’re probably waiting for the Cassie-Adam moment. I mean, they’re written in the stars, right?)

The Bad Boy/Girl

Faye Chamberlain is Chance Harbor’s resident bad girl. She looks and acts like she could have walked out of The Craft. All she seems to care about is her own powers—period, and anything that gets in the way of that has got to go. She’s rude, a little crude, and gorgeous, natch.

But of course, Faye is also loyal to her best friend, Melissa, and to her family, and she can really be called on when the going gets tough. Because of these, Faye is easy to like, but I’m waiting on her to subvert her cliché a little—either go really, bad, or do something really good.

Onto the bad boy—Nick. We get Nick Armstrong (who is the only member of the coven to have lost both of his parents other than Cassie, beeteedubs) who’s good-looking, brooding and sleeping with Melissa. He’s mean to her, and generally is only interested in her when she’s in his bed. Then, when Melissa insists she needs more, he actually manages to step up to the plate—just in time to be semi-accidentally murdered by Charles Meade (yes, MEADE, as in Diana’s dad, but more on that in a moment.) There is momentary panic—poor Melissa, what about the circle, etc, etc.

Enter Jake, Nick’s older, badder brother. This guy is so bad, he’s straight up traitorous. Even though he completes the circle, he’s angry because magic took his parents, so he became a witch-hunter. Though it appears he might be happier having a circle, and making eyes at Cassie, for now, no one knows how bad this bad guys is, or if he’ll drag Cassie to the dark side with him.

The Villains

The more the show goes on, the more baddies make themselves known. The group knows about the witch-hunters, who were more aggressive, but Dawn Chamberlain, Faye’s mother, and Charles Meade have a plan in action to get their powers back. Because of some accident years before, they, along with the rest of their circle, had their powers stripped.

Dawn and Charles have an elaborate plan that involves the kids, but that mystery is still unfolding. But still. We’re used to villains, especially villains who pretend they aren’t. But parents? Who love you, but murder your friends? Creepy.

In short, it’s become my goal as a writer, to stop avoiding the cliché. There’s a reason they work, because they’re these basic situations that are morally, ethically, emotionally enthralling. However, I think it’s important to understand that clichés only work when characters and situations are complex. Other than that, you’re just writing about a pretty chick who can’t get a date, but who suddenly is caught between a gorgeous bad boy and the golden boy. Blech.

So what do you think? Are you into The Secret Circle? Do you agree, or did I get it all wrong? Let me know: drop a comment!

nanowrimo: domination!

29 Nov

Though the novel is not yet complete, I validated about an hour ago! Goal achieved at 50,109!!

If you’ve been NaNo-ing, and have won, or are almost there, or you’ve given up, I would love to congratulate you, motivate you or commiserate with you! Drop me a comment or an email at dallyingwiththewriter@gmail.com.