Friday, July 21, 2017

On beating writer's block

Writer’s block is a real danger that inflicts writers everywhere. But don’t worry - I have a few ideas that you can use to beat this ailment and continue writing your masterpiece!

  1. Go for a walk
  2. Read a book completely unrelated to what you’re writing
  3. Read something really similar to what you’re writing
  4. Write a scene or conversation that happens later in the book
  5. Change your writing location
  6. Take a break to listen to music
  7. Discuss your book with someone
  8. Clean something
  9. Set aside time to write every day
  10. Color
  11. Exercise
  12. Play a board game
  13. Go to a play
  14. Work on a jigsaw puzzle
  15. Draw
  16. Write a poem
  17. Work on a Pinterest DIY project
  18. Eat something new
  19. Meditate
  20. Take a nap
  21. Learn a new language
  22. Free write
  23. Keep a diary
  24. Meet with a writing group
  25. Work on a different project for a while
  26. Take some time by yourself
  27. Keep a dream journal
  28. Brainstorm
  29. Write a bucket list
  30. Have a cup of coffee or tea
  31. Make a collage
  32. Write the first thing that comes to your mind
  33. Talk to a friend (not about your book)
  34. Pinterest!
  35. Travel (even if it’s just to a new stop in your city)
  36. Visit a museum
  37. Photography
  38. Sign up for a free online course
  39. Sign up for a rec center course
  40. Set a word count goal each day
  41. Grab a snack
  42. Light a candle
  43. Take a shower
  44. Stop comparing
  45. Lower your expectations for your first draft
  46. Give yourself a pep talk

How do you beat writer’s block?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

On how to live with an obsessive reader

Living with someone who has different interests than you isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult if you don’t understand their passion. If you’re living with an obsessive reader (or even hanging out with one enough that it feels like you’re living together sometimes), here are a few tips on making it the smoothest living experience possible.
  • Don’t interrupt them while they’re reading. This is probably the most important tip I can offer you. Readers hate being constantly interrupted - especially when they’re at a good part in the book. Obviously, if the house is burning down, you should probably alert them (they might not have noticed if it’s a really really good book), but beyond that, it’s okay to let them read a bit longer. The more trivial your reason for interrupting them, the more annoyed they’ll be. Also, the more frequently you interrupt them, the more annoyed they’ll become. If they’ve barely gotten on track from your last interruption, only to be interrupted by you again, then their first thought is the quickest way to destroy you so you won’t interrupt any more.
  • Don’t roll your eyes when they go to that library/bookstore/book website/book blog again. Obsessive readers don’t just read books - they read about books and they’re constantly looking for the next big titles, the newest hit authors, the best deals on an old favorite, a review from their favorite book blogger. They will go back to the library when they have a pile of ARCs that hasn’t been touched and they’ll buy twelve new books when the library books are already past due. That’s part of being a reader. Support them in this and if you do begin to be concerned that the TBR pile is going to topple over and destroy everyone in your home, gently suggest decluttering a bit.
  • Ask about what they’re reading. It’s okay if you aren’t really interested and if you zone out through part of the scene-by-scene update you’re getting from your reader. Asking at all is a nice thing and any reader will be dying to tell you what new and wonderful book they’ve found. You’ll score big points if you periodically ask about it.
  • Listen to them talk about what they’re reading. So I did just tell you that you don’t have to listen to your dear reader tell you about their books and that’s true. You’ll score points for asking (even if you don’t completely listen), but you’ll score even more points for asking about their books, caring about the characters they love, rejoicing in the victories of their favorite characters and comforting them when their faves fail.
  • Join Goodreads to support them. You don’t have to be an active Goodreads user to fully support your reader friend. Even if you read one or two books every year, any obsessive reader will know exactly what those books are, like every Goodreads update you post, and probably sit you down just to ask how you liked them and what your thoughts were and do you need any tissues. It’s fun to have more Goodreads friends, even if they only read a little.
  • Read what they recommend to you now and then. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. If you live with a reader, you will be surrounded by books. Once you come to tolerate it, it’s time to learn to embrace it - by asking what your reader thinks you’d like and ACTUALLY READING IT. I don’t know a better way to score big points with a reader. Whether or not you like the book as much as they did or if you couldn’t bear to finish it or if you accidentally dropped it in a swimming pool while reading it, you’ll be a bigger star in their book for trying and for giving their hobbies and interests a try. It also gives you a bit of common ground to talk about and compare future book recommendations to. Also, now you can better convince your reader friend to give your hobbies a try, so everyone wins.

What other tips would you give to the friends/roommates/significant others of obsessive readers? Who else could benefit from these tips?

Monday, July 17, 2017

On white blouses

White blouses are a staple for every woman’s wardrobe, even book characters. If you were to be transported into your favorite book, which white blouse would you choose to wear? Hopefully, this quick guide will help you make that decision.
This blouse would be perfect in a pirate novel, such as Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller or Pirates! by Celia Rees. Pirate blouses need ruffles on the front, noticeable buttons, and flowing sleeves. It should be comfortable enough to battle in, but stylish enough to catch pirate-y lover’s eye.

This blouse would work well in the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. The blouse is much tighter, the necks are much higher, and there are frills along the front. Such tops inhibit ladies from fighting vampires or running from a robot army. Perhaps that’s why this works for a sitting room, but should be discarded immediately if danger comes your way.

If you want to be transported into a Scottish novel, such as Sealskin by Su Bristow, than this blouse is probably your best choice. The high square neck, flouncy sleeves, and lace would work well in a book in such a setting. It’s both modest and comfortable.

What other books could use a good white blouse?

Friday, July 14, 2017

On John Green and Avril Lavigne

Warning: Spoilers ahead
Avril Lavigne is every early 2000’s teen girl’s idol. Her music touched the hearts and minds of chick rockers everywhere and her music helped define the early 2000’s. John Green is a very different individual. He currently wears the internet nerd king crown, due to his YA novels and his famous vlogbrothers correspondence. What could the two possible have in common?
Maybe angsty teen girls?
While listening to Avril Lavigne the other day (because she’s still fantastic), I was struck by how much her songs can apply to John Green heroines - specifically, Margo Roth Speigelman (from Paper Towns) and Alaska (from Looking for Alaska). Both of these girls are insecure, misguided, and quite angsty. One song really stood out to me - Avril Lavigne’s “What The Hell” - as the anthem for these heroines. Just check out these lyrics:
You’re on your knees, beggin ‘ Please stay with me.’/But honestly I just need to be a little crazy.” - Pudge is absolutely taken with Alaska. In Looking for Alaska, he muses,
I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.
Being madly in love with Alaska causes Pudge to be ridiculously (and I mean ridiculously) clingy and to want more from Alaska than she’s in a position to give. Q is in a similar position with Margo, wanting more from her than she’ll ever give him. While both these boys fawn helplessly over their love interests, Margo and Alaska are far more occupied with doing whatever they want - which consists mostly of being different, being unique, and being a bit crazy.
All my life I’ve been good, but now, ooohhhh, I’m thinking ‘What the hell?’” -After an experience they share in Paper Towns, Q and Margo have this quick conversation.
“My heart is really pounding," I said.
"That's how you know you're having fun," Margo said.
While neither Margo nor Alaska have been especially good throughout their lives, both girls share the mentality that it’s fun (and necessary) to do things outside the norm, to shock those around them. Suddenly, both girls feel the need to start doing things more exhilarating, more bizarre, and more daring than they’ve ever done before. Both Alaska and Margo drive up the stakes and start being more crazy and more desperate for attention than they were before.
All I want is to mess around and I don’t really care about if you love me, if you hate me.” - These girls both are doing all this nonsense in order to get the attention and love and to distract themselves from how much they’re hurting. But they put on this facade of not caring at all about Q and Pudge’s feelings and being too caught up in their own issues to notice. This
‘Messing around’ take precedence over their relationships with those around them.
You can save me, baby, baby.” - Both Q and Pudge try to help Alaska and Margo, going to great lengths to support their insane ideas and coping mechanisms. Q even chases Margo to a paper town, hoping that she always wanted him to save him. But in the end, Margo and Alaska don’t need to be saved by the boys they know, no matter how much the boys think they can help. Finally, Q realizes,
The fundamental mistake I had always made - and that she had, in fairness, always led me to make - was this: Margo was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.
And Q didn’t need to play the white knight to save that girl. She was fine on her own and the idea that she needed him to swoop in and save the day was wrong.
I love “What the Hell” - it’s a fun song and it’s great to sing along to at the top of your lungs. But looking at the lyrics in a more serious light, it embodies two characters that I don’t like or connect with that much. Why do so many of us put such a focus on living exciting, daring lives, when a quiet life can be enough? I don’t have an answer for this, but it’s something I’ll be pondering for the next little bit.

Are there any songs that remind you of book characters? Are there any book characters that remind you of songs?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On your reading stories

I tell a lot of stories on this blog about how I discovered books, what experiences I’ve had with/because of books, and how books have helped me connect with people. Now I want to hear more about you. Below, please share your real life stories about teachers or librarians suggesting books to you and the best stories will make it up onto the blog (with a link to your blog, Twitter, or whatever). So get sharing!

Monday, July 10, 2017

On TBR books that intimidate me #5

The last few months have been tough on my TBR list. I’m still adding books at a crazy rate, but I’ve been reading a lot less than I did the first few months of the year. With moving and school starting, I’ve been incredibly busy and haven’t had as much time to read for fun. Since I’m still adding the same amount of books, my poor TBR list is bursting even more than it was when I started this blog. And there are still a handful of books that scare me a bit.
  • Summerland by Michael Chabon - Once, several years ago, I was asking for books recommendations from my brother and he stated that this book was one of his favorites. I checked it out from the library, but it was so much thicker than I’d anticipated and I ended up returning it without even opening it. Now, it’s just been sitting on my TBR for years. I’ve found it in three different public libraries and thought about checking it out, but I always decide against it because I never seem to be in the mood to tackle a book as thick as this (though it isn’t actually that big). Will I ever actually get around to it? Time will tell….
  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge - I absolutely Beauty & the Beast stories, so one day, I added a bunch to my TBR. Now that it’s been awhile, I glanced back over them…..and I was kind of surprised that I added this one. It looks like a romance novel, it sounds like a romance novel, and a lot of my friends who tend to like romance novels gave it very high ratings. I don’t typically enjoy romance novels, so I’m a bit hesitant to try this one out - even if it is a fun BATB story…

Do you have any books you’re currently afraid to read? Any BATB stories I should try out?

Sunday, July 9, 2017

On books for questioning Mormons

I’ve been a member of the LDS church for my entire life. But I haven’t always been completely sold on the idea of being Mormon. It’s normal (and healthy) to periodically question things before you fully commit yourself and that’s what I did. Eventually, I decided that the LDS church worked for me and I’ve been a more committed member since that decision.
There was a time, before I decided, when I wondered where I could get more information on the church. I wasn’t interested in reading a bunch of anti-Mormon literature (everything I’d read of that was angry and bitter and not what I was looking for), but I didn’t know where to turn for answers to my questions.
It’s been several years since my struggle and in that time, I’ve read a lot and heard a lot and asked a lot of questions. Here, I’ve compiled a list of books that I could’ve used when I was questioning things. Hopefully they can answer your questions and help explain a few things.
  • More Wives Than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840-1910 by Kathryn M. Daynes - I read this as part of a Mormon Women’s History class and it hit me hard. This book explains early Mormon polygamy in a very academic and objective way instead of trying to explain it away (like a lot of Sunday School teachers will try to do). The author dispels myths, gives tangible facts and numbers, and makes the setting of the early LDS church much more clear. For anyone who has questions about early church history, this book can help a lot.
  • Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam S. Miller - In a series of essays, Miller expounds on his views on various aspects of the LDS church and religion in general. These essays are directed at LDS youth, though anyone can benefit from his well-written thoughts and opinions. I recommend this for anyone who is having a crisis of faith.
  • Woman at Church by Neylan McBaine - While this book won’t dispel all your doubts or answer all your question, McBaine offers guidance about how to ask for change to practices within the LDS church. This book, full of information about why Mormons are struggling with gender issues in the church and how to help fix it, can be an excellent resource for anyone looking to change some church traditions to be more inclusive of women.

What books have helped you get through difficult times? Do you have thoughts about any of the books listed above?