Monday, January 26, 2015

A Writer's Life: Why A Life Journal Works

The Life Journal and Why it Works

As a writer, there is something that I like to call a "Life Journal." It's a journal that you carry around just in case you see or hear something you don't want to forget (which, to be honest, usually happens at the most inopportune times). But if you have your Life Journal, and you're not in the shower or speeding down the highway, then you can jot it down! There are so many instances in every day life that make awesome material, and it would be a crime not to remember at least a few of them. So, here are a few reasons why carrying a Life Journal can benefit your writing!

1. It's Not Just Kids Who Say the Darnd-est Things

Sometimes the people closest to us will surprise us with the craziest sayings. That's when you can snap out your Life Journal and write them down (after asking permission of the speaker, of course). But some of the greatest quotes can come from the most unlikely sources, and sometimes entire characters can come from a single sentence!

2. Your Own Thoughts are Hilarious

Have you ever been waiting in a really long line, and something sarcastic or just downright hilarious pops into your head? That's right, it's journal time. If you have your Life Journal with you, you can scribble down that side-splitting thought and use it to fuel your quippy main character. 

3. Daydreams--They're Great for Writers

Letting your mind wander is seriously the #1 way to come up with story ideas, fix plots problems, and work on dialogue. It might be anything from surviving in a post-apocalytpic world to deep sea diving to making out with the boy next door--but whatever it is, you want to write it in your Life Journal! You never know when one of those space-out sessions will drift into real story material. 

4. There's Just So Much to Remember

Let's face it, sometimes the weirdest, funniest, most downright unbelievable things happen to us. It's hard to remember everything we encounter, especially hours (or even years) later. So why not write it down? With your journal in hand, you'll have endless material for any situation you could dream of writing about...and no worries about forgetting it.

And that's it! Carrying a Life Journal, (especially of the pocket variety), is so darn useful. Whether you're eavesdropping, having a hilarious inner narrative, or just plain daydreaming, a Life Journal will help you to save all the important material for later!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

That YA Dorm Life: Book Nerd Nightmares

The Top Five Book Nerd Nightmares

If you are anything like me, then you have shelves and shelves of books and they are all your literary children. Each one is special and unique, with different covers and personalities, and you love each and every one equally. 


Only, what happens on a college campus to our precious books is not always pretty. Here are five of the most terrifying book nerd nightmares, from the mouth of a fellow bibliophile and college student: 

1. The Dog Ears

Source: Giphy 

Yep. I said it. People will borrow your book and dog ear your pages and ohmygoshmakeitstop. One minute you're discussing your favorite YA reads, the next moment they're handing back your book and its pages are scarred for life. Um, no thanks.

2. Two Words: The Rain

Source: Giphy

Picture this: you're out for a peaceful walk in the park, just you and your new book. You're on chapter nine, and your favorite ship is about to become real, when a sudden strike of thunder and torrent of rain drenches every last beautiful page. Sobs ensue.

3. That One Who Takes the Jacket Off

Source: Tumblr

No. No no no no no. Why did you borrow my book and take the jacket off? "Oh, the jacket annoys me." Um, I don't think that's an excuse to publicly humiliate my beautiful new edition of Divergent. Please, for the sake of literacy, cover her up! 

4. The Makeshift Coaster

Source: Giphy

I have no words for this one. 



5. And, Finally, the Bottom of the Book-Bag

Source: Giphy

This one is just devastating. You finally get that copy of your favorite book, the one with the shiny new cover and the crisp, pristine pages. And then....the bottom of your book-bag swallows it whole. Ouch. It's like someone has taken your hopes and dreams and folded them up at the bottom of that book-bag, too. 

And so, fellow book lovers, I hope that I have not scared  you too badly. Indeed, these situations are easy to avoid with copious book shelves and a watchful eye. 

Good luck! 


Monday, January 19, 2015

A Writer's Life: Fun (and Helpful) Stuff

Fun Stuff for Writers

As a writer I love to find helpful and fun articles that aide in just getting started (you know, that hard part of just getting things down in writing in the first place!).  So here are a few things I found this week that might just help you put that pen to paper: 

(Okay, so the mug was just plain fun. But who am I kidding, I LOVE the plotting murder part!)

Finally, I'll leave you with a helpful article that can aide in the writing process: 

* The Two Rules for Making Time to Write: 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

That YA Dorm Life: Fictional Love Triangle Rules

The Fictional Love Triangle Rules 

So in honor of one of my new reads, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, I'm going to share something that I like to call the "Fictional Love Triangle Rules." Now, this is a very serious matter. Many good YA series have that scandalous love triangle, usually comprised of the main character, her love interest, and the unpredictable bad guy chasing her (my personal favorite). All three of these characters vie for our attention, ultimately causing us to go crazy with the love triangle blues- that is, we have no idea who we want to win! So, in order to stop the madness, I am hereby declaring the rules of YA love triangles: 

Rule Number One: Don't Dismiss the Nice Guy

Sure, Nice Guy isn't that exciting at first. He's cute and sweet and trying to save our main girl. But hey- there's something to be said about the dependable character who is always there as support, you think. And then suddenly BAM- he's a crime fighting tattoo artist with a troubled past. So open your mind and let this side of the love triangle in, because he might just turn out to be a page turner!

Rule Number Two: Don't be Afraid of the Bad Guy

On a similar note, a lot of YA villains are ridiculously charming. Don't be afraid to jump on the villainous fan-wagon* if you so desire, because chances are that will be one heck of a ride. Personally, I tend to go for Team (insert dastardly villain here), simply because I love watching their unpredictable shenanigans throughout the story. And the witty banter doesn't hurt. 

*Fan-Wagon: an unidentified, invisible wagon that fans of a certain love interest jump on. 
For example: "I am Team Warner, I jumped on the Warner/Juliette fan-wagon.

Rule Number Three: Embrace your Fictional Emotions

Now, we all know what these are- the fictional blues. After the book you are reading is over, you may get a sudden urge to express ship the sequel to your house, or, worse yet, there is no sequel! That was the last book. In which case, the fictional feels will flood your brain and force you into a fictional frenzy! But have no fear, because as long as you understand that the fictional blues will only last until you pick up your next book, you are safe. 

Rule Number Four: Stay Loyal to Your Ship

As a closing remark, rule number four is quite simple: stay loyal to your lovely ship. Once you ship a couple, you know in your heart that's the fictional pairing you want, so stick with it and captain that ship all the way to shore! Chances are they will end up together and your YA dreams will come true. Or not. In which case at least there's still real life. 

And there it is! A few of my "Fictional Love Triangle Rules." Follow some of these while you are reading and you may just ship it to the end!

Have a YA day!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We Need Your Help To Launch CJ Omololu's THE THIRD TWIN!

I could write a fancy blog post to go with this, but the flyer pretty much says it all. I will add that Cynthia Omololu is an amazing person, a wonderful mother, and a great friend!

 And her book, THE THIRD TWIN...I loved it! See...

"Delicious and deceptive, The Third Twin is a twisty-turny thrill ride! I couldn't flip the pages fast enough!" --Kimberly Derting, author of the Body Finder series and The Taking

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ashley's Intro: That YA Dorm Life

That YA Dorm Life 

Hello all! My name is Ashley, college student and author's assistant extraordinaire,  all wrapped up in a short, YA fiction-loving package. I'm here to share with you all the fun facts and interesting territory that comes with being a YA fiction obsessed college student! I know everything from how to squeeze six, (or more), mahogany book shelves into your matchbox dorm room, to fitting time around your hectic class schedule for finding new reads. So, to kick off my grand debut, I'll share with you three things I've learned in my 3 years of being a YA college girl. 

1. There's No Such Thing as "No More Space" 

It's true. When it comes to books, there will always be room in your dorm. It's like this magical void of literary space that just keeps expanding- Narnia wardrobes, eat your heart out. However, you may have to get a little creative. All you have to do is unpack all of your books, look around your four-walled cement room, and mutter these words: 

"I am in Belle's library. This is Beauty and the Beast." 

And Bam! You've got it. Who says Belle's library has to be huge? Perhaps the surface-to-book ratio is all that matters, and if that's the case, you're a winner. 

2. The Book Budget

Yes, yes this does exist. And no, I'm not talking about college textbooks. You see, in a college town, there are discount book stores and Barnes and Nobles on every street corner, just calling your name in twinkling green block letters. It's a gorgeous thing. But, before you get too antsy, it's good to write down your "Book Budget" rules. Here's how mine go:

1. For every five discounted YA books, you may buy one full price. 
3. Okay, for every five paperbacks you may have one hardcover. 

Yeah. I have a lot of hardcovers. 

3. The Starbucks Shuffle

So a lot of college campuses have their own personal Starbucks, which is awesome. Mine just so happens to be one of those, and I have my designated seat/drink combination that I love to stick with when I go to read. However, there's always a slight problem: 

I can't look up from my book long enough to order and sit down. 

Right. Okay. So this is what I like to call "The Starbucks Shuffle." You have to pause in between pages while waiting for the line to move, casually tell the barista your drink order (correctly) without spacing out, and make it to your seat by the window without tripping because Four/Adam/Ignifex just raised his eyebrows at Trys/Juliette/Nyx. 

Good luck. 

And there it is everyone! A little introduction into my life as a college YA student, (aka: that crazy blonde child who treats her books like her children). I hope that anyone reading this can either A) glean a few good tips from it, or B) laugh at the weirdness that is me. 

Have a YA day! 


Monday, January 5, 2015

A Writer's Life: Fiction Food Fest!

Fiction Food Fest! 

If you're anything like me, you like to sit down to write with a nice snack at your side. Something to keep you plugging away when you're working on that twentieth chapter! But, as writers, there may be certain foods that can boost our creativity (and hopefully!) brain power as we work. What are these tasty word enhancers, you ask? Let's find out!

1. Nuts 

Any type of nut is great. They're small but packed with protein and good fats, the kind that fuel your mind and your body. Cashews, almonds, and brazil nuts are a few examples that can really get your brain going. Mix them into a delicious trail mix, and maybe even add in a few raisins or (gasp) chocolate chips....that's the stuff! 

2. Dried Fruit 

Dried fruits are a perfect writing snack because they're packed with natural sugars and carbohydrates. These will give you an energy boost but without the nasty crash of caffeine or processed sugars- not only that, but having something to chew on may help some people's attention spans! 

3. Cooked Fish

Just like nuts, cooked fish such as salmon is a total brain food. It's filled with omega 3 fatty acids which boost brain activity and help keep your cells happy. A small fillet of salmon contains a dense amount of protein as well, making it a perfect "pre-editing" meal.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries, fresh or dried, are an amazing source of natural sugars and antioxidants. They can boost your mood and maybe even your creativity with a refreshing surge of energy! And they're easy to eat- just plop a few handfuls in a bowl and enjoy.

5. Dried Veggie Chips

This is my favorite alternative to potato chips- it's a mixture of dried beets (okay, maybe I pick out the beets), carrots, green beans, and other vegetables, and it tastes exactly like a chip! Only better, because these beauties pack in a lot of vitamins and minerals, which will keep your mind sharp while you're perfecting those last few chapters. 

And thus concludes my brain food writing snack list! All of these are tasty and brain-friendly, and there's a little something for everyone here. Of course, there's always those days when you just want to chow down on some pizza and chocolate- and that's great too! Writers need all the fuel they can get, so feed your brains and happy writing.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Writer's Life: Setting Goals!

Setting Goals

Now that the new year is upon us, a lot of writers have a long list of resolutions to take into account--word count, that is! If you're anything like me, the new year is ushered in with promises of "hours of writing time every single day" and "complete and total focus during the editing process." Yeah, because those things are the easiest New Year's resolutions to keep, right? Well, maybe they can be! Here are a few tips on how to make your New Year's writing resolutions, and how to keep them: 

1. Keep a Journal

If you write down your New Year's resolutions in a journal or notebook, you're much more inclined to keep them. Start on Day One, and track your progress. After that first month you'll be happy to be able to go back and look at your success, and it will empower you to keep going! 

2. Don't Share it- Make it Personal

A lot of the times when we make a New Year's resolution we share it with the world. It's only natural- the one question on everyone's lips in January is, "So, what's your New Year's resolution?" And while this is a great party conversation starter, sometimes it can make us feel pressured to deliver. Soon you find yourself so stressed that the resolution becomes a chore rather than something fun and productive--so keep it to yourself! Have a few resolutions to share, and let your writing resolution remain untouched. If this isn't your cup of tea and you like the sharing, go for it! But for all of you who get stressed, this may just work. 

3. Don't Try to Do it All at Once

Sometimes we get caught up in the first month of the new year and try to finish our resolution quickly. This isn't the point! Your writing resolution is something you want to keep up, day after day, month after month, for the entire year. Don't rush yourself, it will only exhaust you.

4. Reward Yourself

Set up some sort of reward system for every month that you complete your resolution. Be it food, a fun activity, or a girl's night out--anything! Choose something that motivates you to work toward it and enjoy the productivity. 

5. No Excuses

As hard as this is, it's the epitome of the reason new year's resolutions don't work. There are hundreds of reasons why you can't write on certain days; you're tired, you left your computer at home, you have writer's block, etc. Nip those pesky excuses in the bud! Try to find little ways to get around them and keep writing, because getting words (even a few at a time!) on the page in the most important step. 

So there you have it! Five ways to make your New Year's writing resolutions a reality. 

Have your own ideas for keeping on task? Leave them in the comments below!