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

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¬†)