Wonderology – OYAN SW 2014

I think everyone else has posted about this already, but it took me a little longer to organize my thoughts. So here goes.

Last Saturday, I got home from the week of OYAN epicness that is the Summer Workshop. For those of you who don’t know, OYAN is a writing curriculum and the Summer Workshop is the week long conference where writers gather from all over to listen to speakers and hang out with people they know from the online forum. It is truly an amazing experience. This was my fourth year going.

The OYAN SW is a place where you can talk about your characters, novels, life, movies, tv shows, books, etc. and have people understand exactly what you mean. That is the most wonderful feeling in the world.

This year’s theme was Wonderology.

This year was truly wonderful. It was the first year I went by myself and the first year I led a critique group. I felt scared about several things; plane troubles, leading a critique group, and old friends not being there. Plane troubles happened. Boy, did they happen, but I got there. A friend that I’d never met before met me at the shuttle(after I was 4 1/2 hours later than I thought) while everyone else was in the welcome meeting and I can’t tell you how much that meant.
The rest of Monday night just got better. I met old friends and new friends. That night was amazing and I won’t forget it. (I can’t give away the details though. ūüėČ )

Tuesday started the speaker sessions and this year they had optional sessions for the 18+ students. I found that to be so helpful. After lunch I met my critique group, the Nyragongo Crater, A.K.A. the Exploding Dog Food Bowl, and the Cotton Candy Candy Cane Volcano. At first, I didn’t think I would be a good leader. After all, I’ve only finished two novels, entered the OYAN contest once, and I haven’t critiqued as many things as I would have liked to. I also had several people who it was their first SW and I wanted to make an awesome critique group impression for them like my past leaders had done for me. I’m pretty sure we were all nervou because we were really quiet until one of the excerpts involved unicorns.
Oh and I can’t forget that Tuesday was Frozen and Supernatural day. So I was Elsa in the morning joining¬†a flashmob singing Let it Go, and then part of a SPN photoshoot later on in the day when I became a hunter.

Wednesday was pretty cool. The speakers were all amazing(as they always are). Critique group got a little louder and a little more intrigued with the stories. And on top of all the wonderful things it was Divergent day. I dressed up as Dauntless and we did a photoshoot. Then after the evening session, we played a game of Dauntless capture the flag in the dark.

Thursday dawned Welcome to Night Vale and Doctor Who day. It was also Lord of the Rings, but I didn’t have a costume for that. That morning Mrs. S called everyone in costume on stage. Since WTNV had switched days last minute, it was just me and another friend. At first she didn’t come on stage and so I called her over the microphone and pulled her up on the stage with me. There we stood amongst all of the DW and LotR people. After I changed into being the TARDIS, I crashed a Tenth Doctor/Eleventh Doctor sass off about which one of them broke the TARDIS. It was beautiful.
In critique group, we all suffered through the black moment chapters. We also learned that one of our members was going to kill off a very cute little boy that we all loved in her story later on. And we got to hear more about the unicorns. Our critique group picture consisted of being spies and hunting unicorns which I’m going to Photoshop in. :3
There was also Open Mic Night, kind of like a talent show. I have to say, my favorite part was when one of my critiquers played and sung ‘I See Fire’ by Ed Sheeran from The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I like his version better than the original.
During evening free time I spent the night with one of my friends, plotting out a character lounge and how we would turn it into a novel co-written by the two of us.
After she had to go back to her dorm, I sat with some of the girls on my floor to watch this ridiculously hilarious movie. I think it was worse than any movie ever in existence, but that’s what made it funny. I think our laughter woke everyone up.

Which brings me to Friday, the last day. Usually, the last day is depressing because you know people are leaving within the next 24 hours. I donned my Tim Burton Cheshire Cat costume and went around with my friend who dressed as the Mad Hatter. I gotta say, I think we had the best costumes that day. 
Critique groups brought out the Showdown. The big battle between the hero we had come to know and love and the villain. Which I think all but two of the excerpts included death(One of the deaths being a character I really liked that happened to have the same name as a character of mine). By this time, I wasn’t nervous about leading a critique group at all. It was so much fun and everyone in the group was wonderful and had amazing stories. When it ended, needless to say, I felt really sad. We finished early and just sat around talking about our stories and anything else that came to mind.
That night after sessions, a couple friends and I went to the gym and played ninja. Once we got out, we decided to race. from one wall to the other. In our socks. A sock sliding race. And her sister got it on film.
Once we went back to the dorm, we played mafia. Several rounds of themed mafia, actually. We played as our characters(my friend’s getting jealous that her sister’s character was flirting with my character who was his girlfriend), BBC characters(very confusin when you have Sherlock, the Doctor, Arthur, Merlin, companions, and John in the same room together with Captain Jack Harkness as the moderator), and DW characters(Captain Jack Harness for the win).

And last but not least… Saturday morning. The dreaded morning that signifies the wonderful week coming to an end and going back home. The morning was filled with hugs, goodbyes, and hurried words as people packed and brought out luggage. Last minute hugs and conversations took place as my alarm to go to my shuttle went off. I hadn’t really lost it yet. I try not to loose it while I’m still there, but once the shuttle pulled away from the curb, the tears came. Of course they came. They come every year.

I was going home, but leaving my home away from home with my OYAN family. I think of everyone there as my family. The crazy, fun-loving, extended family who completely understands you. The wonderful people of OYAN.

Until next year my friends. I’m already counting down the days.¬†

~M+W=L/M=L

Giveaway anyone?

Hey y’all! A friend of mine on the OYAN forum is having a giveaway on her jewelry blog. She has a cute pearl choker and an awesome set of steampunk tree earrings. Check it out and enter! The deadline’s midnight on the 29th so don’t wait too long!

~M+W=L

Music

If any of you have noticed the address of my blog,¬†https://musicpluswritingequalslife.wordpress.com/, then you’ve probably guessed music and writing are both important to me. I’ve talked about both before, but today I talked with a lady at the gym who asked me some different questions about¬†why I like the music I like.

She asked:
1. What kinds of music do you listen to?
2. Why do you listen to them?
3. What do the lyrics mean to you?

Of course, I had just finished an exercise class and my brain was focused on water, not on talking. Needless to say, my answers were a bit jumbled, but it got me thinking. So I’m gonna write out more acceptable answers to those questions and maybe y’all could leave a comment with your answers or thoughts.

 

What kinds of music do you listen to?
This is a hard question for me. In the car, it’s whatever’s on one of two main radio stations I flip between or the four others if there’s nothing good on my main stations. At home, a mix of songs from almost twenty different genres. I don’t have a favorite genre or even a favorite band, but to give you an idea here are my top twenty songs right now. They’re all from different bands or else I’d have to give you my top 100 for you to get an idea of my tastes.

1. Say When – The Fray
2. Demons – Imagine Dragons
3. Stubborn Love – The Lumineers
4. Summertime Sadness – Lana Del Ray
5. Love Me Again – John Newman
6. Say Something – A Great Big World
7. Glass – Thomson Square
8. Counting Stars – OneRepublic
9. My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark(Light ’em Up) – Fall Out Boy
10. Every Teardrop is a Waterfall – Coldplay
11. Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
12. Point at You – Justin Moore
13. Pompeii – Bastille
14. Carry On My Wayward Son – Kansas
15. One Man Army – The Classic Crime
16. Sail – AWOLNATION
17. Gold – Wake Owl
18. I’m Still Here(Jim’s theme) – John Rzeznik
19. Let it Go – Idina Menzel
20. Closing Time – Semi Sonic
(Bonus: Applause – Lady Gaga)

They are all awesome and you should listen to them. ūüėČ

 

Why do you listen to them?
At first I answered ‘for the beat’, but then I realized that was about 75% untrue. After a moment, I managed to say ‘for the lyrics’. Sure, on the radio, I listen for the beat cause I’m trying to pay attention to driving. But… In reality, if any of my friends post cool lyrics as a status I google them, read the whole song, and then go listen to it. Some songs, it is because of beat. If a song has a catchy beat then I’ll most likely listen to it. A lot of times though, it’s because of lyrics. Either because they relate to me or my writing in some way.

 

What do the lyrics mean to you?
Well because I’m a writer I like lyrics that mean something to me personally and lyrics that mean something to my stories and characters, or as I call them, charries. Songs like Say When, Demons, and Let it Go are songs that have personal meanings because I relate to them in some way. It’s a little harder to describe how more personal songs relate, but I’m sure you know ’cause you have songs like that. As for writing, I have songs for different charries, for stories themselves, for couples, and ones that have inspired stories. For example, the song It’s Time by Imagine Dragons inspired the first novel I finished, Darkness Before Light, so it will always have a special place in my heart. The songs 22 by Taylor Swift and Summertime Sadness are perfect for my charrie Camryn because they pretty much describe her life and personality. Then there’s ones that I drabble to or write songfics to with my online friends.
And last but not least, don’t forget those fandom songs that you put on replay after seeing a movie or tv show. Carry On My Wayward Son, Stayin’ Alive, Let it Go, or Heat of the Moment anyone?

 

So there you have it. There’s some of the reasons music means so much to me. By the way, I might have an addiction to music, but that’s not a bad thing right?

~M+W=L

The Fault in Our Stars

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This very popular book and soon-to-be movie made me curious. About half of my friends had read it and pretty much all of them liked it. When I asked friends about it, no one could give me a straight answer as to what it was about. So I left it alone, until I saw the movie trailer. After that, I figured it was just another teen romance story, but with cancer kids.

I was wrong.

I knew I was going to see the movie when it came out so I was putting off reading it until after that. (Not to mention I’d just bought 50 books at a new bookstore and I wanted to read all of those while having 3 weeks to edit my book before the OYAN SW.) But… Last Saturday, after seeing 20 commercials for it, having a bad day, and not feeling like I could sleep, I decided to read it. I found the book and sat in my room. I started at about 10:30pm and finished the next day about 7:45pm. All together, minus sleep and snack breaks it took me about 12 hours, the fastest I’d read a book in a long time.

Before I read it this is what I thought it would be:
1. A teenage romance filled with angst and other cliches
2. Lots of ‘questionable content’
3. Characters who weren’t very relatable¬†

This is what I thought after:
1. A well written book about real life and real love
2. Hardly any ‘questionable content’ and the one scene there was cut away very well.
3. Extremely relatable characters even though they had cancer

Needless to say, when I started reading it, I wasn’t expecting much. But after reading it, I’ll definitely be buying my own copying next time I’m at the bookstore.

The story starts with the main character Hazel, who is narrating. The writing style John Green used took me a little while to get used to, but after that I loved it. It’s unique. He mixed real life places and events into the book which made it more real.
Hazel has a great story telling voice and all of her sarcastic comments and thoughts are similar to what I think after those kinds of situations.
Augustus, or Gus, is another relatable character. He’s witty, funny, serious, etc. Both of them are so real that you’d swear they weren’t fictional characters.¬†

As for the ‘questionable content’, and I don’t mean cussing… There is one small scene in the beginning of the book and then another later(different kinds of questionable, in case you’re wondering). The second one, which is usually the one everyone talks about was written in such a way that it did feel real, but John Green cut it to where he left almost all of it out. (I’m really hoping the movie does the same.)

If you haven’t read the book, beware. There will be spoilers after this, but nothing more than what you can guess from the commercial.

I’ll start with how Augustus and Hazel were relatable. Aside from their personalities, they’re lives, their decisions, and even the way they both spoke and dressed felt real. A lot of how I think was how Hazel thought and Augustus was a lot like one of my best friends. So for me, it was almost like reading about people who would be my friends if they were real. The side characters had a lot of personality to them as well. Issac, Hazel’s parents, Augustus’ parents, all of them. Even down to Patrick with his almost comedic leading of the support group.

Hazel and Augustus made decisions which effected them both for the better and for the worse, but I can see a real teenager making those same decisions. We don’t always think about what will happen after we do something, until it’s done. That’s something I really appreciated about this book.

I also loved the sub plot with An Imperial Imperfection and all of the quotes from it. They make you think in a way that most books don’t. Well, it doesn’t make you, but it encourages you and it makes some good points. (I.e. The world is not a wish-granting factory.) The book is filled with metaphors, too, and Augustus is there to explain them to us. The metaphors are about everything. Love, life, nostalgia, people, etc. and they all make sense.

Now, the final thing. This book is so full of emotions. And when I say that, I mean it. If you’ve read it, you know. John Green writes about this real fiction couple and then right after you fall in love with them, sends one of them on a downhill. A downhill that leads to death and you get to experience all of it.

In short, this book is emotional, witty, funny, real, and it puts you on a roller coaster that only goes up. So, do me a favor and go read it. Okay? Okay.

~M+W=L

(P.S. Let’s all hope the movie does the book justice.¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuVjGbncgQE¬†)

Writing

So I’ve always thought about doing a writing blog. That way I would have somewhere to dump my ideas and talk about my characters and post drabbles and things like that. I’m thinking I may do that with this. It wouldn’t be 100% of the time. Just a few posts here and there when I’m bored, frustrated, or happy about an idea or character. This is one of those times. I’m getting all of my notes and critiques together to start editing my novel Puzzle Pieces for the OYAN Summer Workshop next month. (Yes, I only left a month for editing an entire book at least once. I’m not very good with time management.) I’ve get in general critiques from four or five people and in depth critiques from one or two. That’s a lot more than usual. Normally, I don’t want anyone to read my stuff if it’s in rough draft form. (If you write, then you understand.) But when I read the general critiques when I got them back, they weren’t as bad as I was expecting. They said things like more emotion (which is one of my common first draft issues), more character development on certain people, and to fix a few holes in the plot. That’s pretty good for a book written during NaNoWriMo. So maybe it is true. Maybe I’m finally getting better at this writing thing. I’ve written over 215,000 words so far and that’s just with the numbers off the top of my head, not everything I’ve written. So hopefully with the second draft of this book some of those issues will be fixed. (More will probably come from editing, but let’s not focus on those.) Wish me luck with this race against the clock. ~M+W=L

Allegiant review

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For those of you who have not read Allegiant, please don’t read. There will be many spoilers. Just warning you. You really don’t want to know until you find it out in the book.

For those of you who have read the book, you know exactly what scene I’m talking about. Now, I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews on the book. Some people love it, some people hate it, some think that it’s just plain stupid. I’m of the loving it group.

I’ll write this review in two parts. From a writer’s point of view and then from a reader’s. The writer’s part will mostly focus on the big thing at the end where as the reader part will focus on that and the part with Tobias.

 

As a writer, one of the hardest things to do in a book, is to kill off a character. Any character, let alone a main character. Why? Because they, no matter how evil, annoying, different, or awesome they are, are a part of you. You created them. You wrote them into this story, this world, that’s theirs. A story world you created for them and the other characters. How a reader feels about their favorite character is usually how the author feels about all of the characters, at least that’s how it is with me and a few of my friends.¬†

The amount of strength it takes to kill off a character, especially one like Tris who was the main character for two and a half books, is enormous. Not to mention doing it despite knowing that a lot of people would hate it. Roth had a lot of strength to kill her off and not let any fans convince her otherwise. Believe me. It was just as hard for Roth to kill her off as it was for you to read it. Not to mention Tris was killed in a way that made sense and worked well with the story.

 

Now readers think differently than authors. I’ll start with what happened to Tobias. That was another big part of the book, but it tends to get overlooked because of Tris’s death.

My best friend got to this part before me and accidentally spoiled that Tobias wasn’t Divergent for me. (It really was by accident. She thought I was farther along than I was.) She said she didn’t really like how he went through an ‘identity crisis’ and everything that happened along with it. Which, in part, was what led to Uriah being killed. For me, that part made a lot of sense. I knew what he was going through because I’d been through it and was still going through it at that point. I thought it was important to the book because it showed how much that kind of thing affects people.

Now about Tris’s death. Like I said earlier, I’m in the group that really liked the way Roth ended it. A few of my friends, the ones who didn’t like the ending, have asked me why I liked it. Well, for one, this is a series that didn’t cheat death or treat it like it was just something that happened because they were at war. Yes, death does happen when you’re at war, but that does not mean the deaths cannot be mourned and the effects are short term. A lot of other book series do that. Tris died because she was put into a situation with a choice. A choice between her and Caleb, her family. Every other time she has had a choice like that, or even between her and her friends, she chose to sacrifice herself. In Divergent, when she turns the gun on herself in her fear landscape and when she’s fighting Tobias. And in Insurgent, when she chooses to go to Jeanine instead of let her kill more of her friends. Like Tobias says when he hears what happened, ‘Of course Tris would go into the Weapons Lab instead of Caleb. Of course she would.’ Because that’s her character. Anything else would have destroyed who she was. As for her getting shot instead of being killed by the death serum… Roth didn’t let her cheat death. The ending was real.

 

~M+W=L

There and Back Again

Hey, y’all!¬†

It’s been a long time since my last post. That last post will probably sound a lot like this one actually, saying that I’m back and ready to put some more words on this blogs. I do apologize for going missing, but I started my first year in college and things got away from me. The good news is I passed all of my classes!
A lot has happened since last September though. For one thing, I turned 19. Another is, I think I might have a boyfriend soon? My first boyfriend, might I add. But things like that aside, I finished another rough draft during last year’s NaNoWriMo which I’m going to start editing this month for the OYAN Summer Workshop. I finished my favorite book series, the Divergent trilogy, and cried my way through the ending like a lot of people did. (No, I wasn’t one who through the book at the wall. I actually kind of liked the ending. I’ll probably do a post on it soon.) I gained several new story ideas and characters. One of which, Fox, is… very… Interesting? Yeah. I think that’s the word. And last, but not least, I’ve joined several new fandoms, Welcome to Night Vale, Frozen, and BBC’s Sherlock.

So, what I’m thinking is that I’ll be posting some book and movie reviews, random thoughts that pop in my head, pieces of writing as I edit, new ideas, and maybe some character spotlights.

It’s good to be back.

~M+W=L