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What is Your Most Vivid Teenage Memory?

A lot of YA fiction writers choose to write YA because of how vivid and new everything is to teenagers, how every minor letdown is the possible End of the World as We Know It. Exams will make or break you life, as will asking out that person you’ve liked for weeks. Many writers, myself included, have very defined memories of their adolescence. Tell us a particularly vivid one of yours in the comments if you like so I don’t feel like a complete fool sharing mine.

Here’s mine, originally posted on She Writes in the comments there:

I’m only just out of high school, so a lot of memories are pretty fresh for me. I was involved in every school musical for the entirety of my six years there (Australian school system). One year, when I was sixteen, our school put on a production of Beauty and the Beast. I was Cogsworth. Since I’m a rather petite female, the rented costume was slightly too big for me and I didn’t have the gut to force it into the box-like shape it was supposed to be, leaving it as a slightly squashed cowbell shape. In one particular scene I have to walk on stage with a turning key in my back. The thing was flimsy, made of cardboard covered in golden material and beads on the side. Because of my lacking height, it often fell out of the hole in my back, which had to be tied around my waist before I put the cowbell suit on over my head.

Most of the time, the turning key stayed in place well enough as long as I was careful with it. One performance, though, things didn’t go quite to plan. In this particular scene, Cogsworth is freaking out over discovering the key and is flailing around in circles trying to get a look at it while Lumiere the candlestick tries to calm him down. As I turned, as I had for a number of shows, the key popped out and clunked onto the floor. I had to improvise intense pain and put the thing back in before I could continue with the scene. Luckily, the girl playing Lumiere (we didn’t have many boys) was able to improvise with me with a bit of, “Are you all right?” Then we continued as normal.

But, of course, the key was not done with its machinations. During the final fight scene, Cogsworth screams “TALLY HO!” and starts a swordfight with two attackers. My line was a cue for all hell to break loose, essentially. Another show, after the Show of the Painful Key had occurred, I leapt forward, screaming my line (or as close to screaming as a British male played by a female can get). As I pulled my sword out from my pendulum compartment, I heard a thud and looked down to find the key had fallen out again. So I picked the thing up and used it similar to a scabbard being used to block attacks.

After that, we wrapped bubble wrap around the end of the key that the audience wasn’t supposed to see. It didn’t fall out again. Funny how one small object can cause so much trouble.

And for everyone’s amusement, here’s a picture of me as Cogsworth:

Me as Cogsworth

The Versatile Blogger Award

I was recently nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, so yay! Thanks to Ben at Story Multiverse for the nomination, who wrote:

A self-described “hormonal teenager” (but weren’t we/ aren’t they all?), Ann discusses writing, with a special emphasis on YA. If you’re into that market, you should give her blog a read.

(EDIT: Since this publication of this post I have received the award again, from Cassidy Cornblatt, via this post. Thanks, Cassidy.)

I found a set of rules on another blog so here they are:

Thank the person who nominated you. Tell 7 things about yourself so that your readers may learn more about you and nominate 15 other newly discovered bloggers and let them know you nominated them.

So here are seven things about me:

  1. I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction until I started writing my own novel at fifteen.
  2. I’m a sucker for Greek mythology
  3. I hate mathematics.
  4. Sometimes I use big words because I forget the small ones.
  5. I don’t particularly enjoy reading the classics, as much as I’ve tried.
  6. I sometimes lose my temper about things people think are trivial and stay calm about things everyone else is mad about.
  7. I like kids better now than when I was one of them.

Here are the blogs I nominate. There are only six of them because a number of blogs I was hoping to nominate have already received the award, so giving it to them again seemed redundant.

http://theresemichelle.wordpress.com/

Thérèse writes poetry, fiction and what she describes as “random thoughts”. Her poetry often has a minimalistic, sombre feel and her stories are often quiet little snippets in a character’s life.

http://commutinggirl.wordpress.com/

Elodie, who usually resides on the internet under the name Commutinggirl, reads and writes YA and is, let’s just say, a lot better and writing about books she’s read than I could ever be. From her bio, she’s a “French girl living in Germany” and her current project is a YA paranormal romance.

http://ladydaewrites.blogspot.com/

Lady Dae offers a lot of help with writing, from queries to cutting adverbs to plotting and everything else you could imagine.

http://katharineowens.blogspot.com/

Katharine writes middle grade and YA “with an environmental twist”. She posts reviews, does the occasional YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday, writes about her life and supports debut authors. And that’s just from a cursory glance at her blog. Katharine is the epitome of versatile.

http://glitter-n-gore.livejournal.com/

Glitter_n_gore writes about issues pertinent to YA as well as her own writing progress. She has a “neverending weakness for vampires” and specializes in horror and fantasy. She has some interesting posts about diversity in YA that caught my eye.

http://theallycat.livejournal.com/

Theallycat, who goes by Thalia on Absolute Write, shares writing techniques with a focus on YA. On the AW forums, she’s very friendly and helpful. She hasn’t written many posts on her blog, what she has is good stuff.

2012 Resolutions

2011 is over, bringing with it the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. A lot of people complain the resolutions are pointless because they are abandoned early in the year, so I keep in mind Maggie Stiefvater’s advice about making concrete goals that are achievable.

So my resolutions for 2012 are:

  • Finish Coldfire and submit to agents
  • Finish the first draft of the sequel
  • Revise and edit my NaNovel, not necessarily to completion, but at least to a point where reading is possible without causing spontaneous combustion of the eyeballs
  • Do NaNoWriMo again
  • Do Camp NaNoWriMo (this one’s a bit iffy and will depend on my university schedule)
  • Get my provisional driver’s licence, or at least rack up enough hours to take the test
  • Pass my first year of university

Most of these are achievable once I stop being lazy (and get over my hatred for driving). I’ve gotten by for so many years coasting on some kind of inborn talent when it comes to academia and music. A few years ago, I never practised music or studied for tests. Now I have to, which has improved my overall work ethic and turned me into less of a brat. And that’s a good thing for all involved.

Road Trip Wednesday #110

YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday topic this week is: Where do you buy most of your books? No one is judging!

I was beginning to just answer this in the comments, but soon realized the answer is longer than I had anticipated.

I buy most of my books at the local bookstore, which isn’t actually that local since it’s a fifteen-minute drive away. This store has been around possibly longer than I have been alive. It has survived the economic difficulties that have hit the chain bookstores and is now, I believe, the only bookstore in the area. The big chain stores have been closing like a Mexican wave over here so I’ve bought my fair share of liquidated stock but I always come back to that little bookstore I’ve been going to since I was a kid.

My family sometimes orders books on Amazon or I buy them on a whim in department stores, especially when I see a book I’ve wanted for a while but have been unable to find. Regardless of my wandering eyes, I prefer to look in the little not-very-local bookstore before I go anywhere else. The staff are always friendly and helpful and will order books in for us if we can’t find them.

And the best bonus? They have a cafe in the back!

Suffice it to say I’m a huge supporter of local bookstores. Bookstores in general are getting damn hard to find these days and I’m pretty sure this particular shop is the closest one to us. That’s kind of depressing.

2011′s Resolutions – How I’ve Fared

I set a few New Years’ resolutions at the beginning of this year. As the year is drawing to a close, perhaps it is time to evaluate how I’ve done in fulfilling them before I create new ones.

  • Finish “Coldfire” and submit to agents. Nope, but I’m pretty close and have researched agents. Hopefully I’ll do this early next year.
  • Finish the first draft of the sequel… at least. No dice. The stupid thing isn’t cooperating. I will complete it next year. The ideas are in my head. I just have to stop being a wimp and get the damn thing written.
  • Write more short stories. I won’t set an exact number because I know I won’t stick to it. Yes. Using a variety of writing prompts and other random stuff, I’ve written a decent handful of (very) short stories. I’ll count poetry in this section, too, since I didn’t anticipate writing poetry at all.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo, exam schedule permitting. I’m hoping with only four exams this year that it will be possible. Yes. And I have a completed first draft to make up for my failure with Coldfire‘s sequel.
  • Finish year twelve (though admittedly this one is inevitable unless I fail all my subjects this year). Yes. Quitting was very tempting, I’m telling you now. I’m glad it’s over.
  • Audition for university music programs. Done and done.
  • Get into a university on my preference list. Still waiting to find out about this one. I might not even find out until first round offers in January. I do know that I failed my three auditions and my year 12 score isn’t high enough to be accepted into my other two preferences unless miracles happen. So I’ve added more preferences to the list that I’m almost guaranteed to get because the clearly-in scores are all lower than the score I received.
So I was somewhat successful this year. Could’ve done better, could’ve done worse. 2012 is likely going to be a year of submissions. There’s only so long I can keep working on Coldfire before I finally send it out into the world. I can’t keep it locked up forever. How have you guys fared with your resolutions thus far? Or did you not make any? If not, did you have any goals in mind for your writing that you had hoped to accomplish this year?

YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday #109

This week’s Road Trip Wednesday poses this question:

What would be the ideal holiday present for your main character (or favorite character)? 

My main character in this case is Darian from my work-in-progress Coldfire, who has a fiery hatred for anything pertaining to Christmas. Can’t blame him. His parents died on Christmas Day. While he would rather forget about the day altogether, when it comes to presents a book is the best bet. Since he will be receiving this gift on a day when he’s quite upset, a book showing him someone’s else’s experience with grief might make him feel less alone and become a source of comfort. Another great gift for him would be a big bear hug. Or maybe some Valium so he’ll just go to sleep and wake up on a more pleasant day…

Picture Prompts

In lieu of my usual fare, I’ve found two photos in the depths of my hard drive you can use to inspire a piece of writing. Both were taken by me, and you can use them if you post your response, but please link back to this post. I’d like to read your responses to the prompts, either through the comments directly or through a link placed in a comment. Click the images to see full size.

I’ve used prompts every so often when stuck or bored, often writing within pre-existing worlds of my novels to help me get a better handle on a particular character or setting. They can be a great source of world-building, character development or unblocking.

The End of an Era

Yesterday was my final day of secondary school. It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I suppose it won’t until the exams are over in less than a month.

Less. Than. A. Month.

Then I’m finished with secondary school forever.

In less than a month, I will have also completed an audition for a university course. I will have two more and a musicianship test to go. It’s really happening.

Things are changing.

Hopefully, they are for the better.

Spellcheck

I haven’t been using Microsoft Word’s spellcheck on my novel for a while, as engrossed as I was in edits. When I did use it, I realized how bad I am at picking out duplicate words. Also, since I’m changing my manuscript to fit American spelling, the spellcheck picked up a few errant u‘s left behind in words that have them in English and Australian spelling but not in American. Maybe I should use the spellcheck a little more often to save me the grief.

In other news, I’m pretty sure the second half of my manuscript is stronger than the first. Damn.

Random January News

I think I’ve finally broken through the long-running block that was preventing me from writing more than a few words a day. I’m not sure what did it. It could’ve been the brief respite from History homework I got from reading my Literature class text, though I’m not particularly fond of that book, or it could have just been the fact that I finished writing the really tricky part and I can now see the end of this draft. Or maybe it’s because I’ve finally reached the end of that huge section of new material I’ve added to the story.

Whatever it is, I’m hoping this second wind lasts for a while, since I’ve become disillusioned with classes already and I need something that I enjoy. Otherwise I will quite possibly go insane. Well, even more than I already am.

Writing aside, things are starting to pick up again in life. I can feel the holidays coming to an end. I’ll be back in school Friday week. Then the week after there’s school camp, so I might not be around much.

In other news, I recently read two novels: White Cat by Holly Black and The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. Loved them both. Go read them. They both have male protagonists with awesome voices. And check out Hannah Moskowitz’s cover for her 2012 release Gone, Gone, Gone.