Monthly Archives: June 2015

Day 2, and The Importance of Living Authors

As promised at the beginning of June (or the end of May, I can’t recall any more), I’m going to spend today talking about my recent trip to Asheville to see Sarah Dessen’s book tour for Saint Anything.

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You may recall me telling you about my experience reading the book (if not, refresh your memory).  It was a great book, so Emily and I were very excited to hear her talk about it.

I believe that reading the work of living authors is extremely important.  The classics are almost untouchable.  You read them, and that’s all you have.  I don’t think you can realize what you’re truly missing out on until you actually hear an author speak.  Sarah (can I call her Sarah?  is that too familiar?) didn’t only discuss this success, but also the book that she abandoned before she wrote Saint Anything.  She talked about her process, about how she gets herself into “work mode,” and about the role her agent, editors, and publishers have in the book.  She also told us that behind the twelve books she has published, there are thirteen that failed.

That is powerful for “aspiring writers” everywhere.  We read the published works and forget that even our favorite authors, the ones whose words make us weep and laugh and make our hearts swell with joy, once began where we are.  Hearing my favorite author say that she has bad writing days and projects that were better off abandoned is a comfort on the days that I feel like I am dragging the words out of a ten foot hole with nothing but a piece of floss, just like Neil Gaiman’s answer to my ask on Tumblr made me feel that much more secure about my career choice.

Neil's Answer

Reading classics is important, to show both the timelessness of human nature and a photograph of the time period in which it was written, but living artists breathe life into new artists.  Living writers will inspire the next great novel more than anything written a hundred years ago can.

It is with Sarah Dessen’s words in mind that I go back to write the second draft of my own novel tomorrow.  I hope I will do the story justice, that it will touch people like her books touched me, and that it too will become an inspiration.  But if it does fail, these two things will comfort me: that I have done well enough by putting in the time and work, and that I am in good company, even in my failures.

(By the way, if you want to hear about some other times I interacted with living authors, check out this blog post here.)

And today’s the last day to vote for July’s Reader-Voted Project!

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Day 1, and Freelance Work

I didn’t post last week because I was on vacation.  I didn’t mention it because I intended to post from my hotel room at the beach, but I completely forgot on Tuesday and was too tired Thursday.  It’s probably just as well, because I didn’t have a whole lot to say on the subject of Father’s Day after all.

Partly to make up for it and partly as a challenge for myself, I have decided to write a post every day this week.

First of all, I wanted to reveal the “project” I’ve been working on.  I am officially working as a freelance advertiser.  I’m doing the social media work for two small businesses, and am in talks to do the complete package for a third.  It’s very exciting because it feels like the first step towards the career I actually want as opposed to the job I have now.  If you have any advise, please fell free to comment below.  If you are looking for a freelance writer, my website is wordsmithkari.wix.com.

As such, I finally got a new phone.  I technically had a smart phone, but it was old.  It didn’t run any apps and the internet took forever.  I upgraded to the Galaxy 5 (and got a GORGEOUS Kate Spade case!).  I’m liking it a lot, and it’s been really helpful so that I can post things when I’m away from my computer.

My goal is to have a total of four clients by the end of the year, and to do at least ten hours of work (total) a week.  Long term, I want to make enough money from freelance that I can quit my day job.

I have a lot of work to do, but with this, I finally feel like I’m moving forward, even if it still feels like a snail’s pace.

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Book Club Thursday Will Not Be Happening This Week

I’m running out of books that I can read in a day that also meet the requirement for my 2015 Book Challenge.  And I’ve been having trouble carving out time to read over the last few weeks.  I have been working on a project that I hope is going to start a new chapter of my life.

I will try to do better next week.  At the very least, I’ll push my Sarah Dessen post up a day, since she is a writer.  I think that would count as a “Book Club Thursday.”

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Female Superheroes

This post comes to you kind of late at night for two reasons: one, I’m kinda sort of working three jobs right now (more like two, but working on it) and two, Mom and I watched The Judge tonight.  Good movie.  Great movie, actually.  But that is for another day.  Today…we discuss female superheroes.

Background: I work at the public library, and our summer reading program is superhero themed.  My coworkers were putting up a lot of decorations and I noticed the lack of female heroes, so I went on a mission to find more.  Upon doing so, I fell in love with several, but I limited the ones I compared based on these requirements: I wanted all of my information to be from the same medium, comic books, which effectively knocked out Agent Carter.  I wanted to be sure I had enough material to pull from, so no Starfire or Black Widow since I only have one issue apiece.  Finally, I didn’t want to cross brand lines.  So I ended up with Wonder Woman vs. Batgirl and Captain Marvel vs. Spider-Gwen.

With Wonder Woman and Batgirl, I’m going to focus primarily on their intelligence and their people skills.

To start with, they are both extremely intelligent women, they just have different kinds of intelligence.  Diana has good reasoning skills, but they are also linked to her people skills.  Babs on the other hand is much more academically inclined.  She recognizes patterns, builds an algorithm, and is creative and resourceful, using what she has on hand to solve her problems.  Wonder Woman doesn’t have to do that so much because she’s super human.

Now for people skills.  Arguably, Wonder Woman has the better of them.  She is merciful, compassionate, and kind.  She helps because it’s the right thing to do.  Batgirl has a bit of a hero complex.  She definitely helps people (otherwise she wouldn’t be a superhero) but she can also be selfish and have a one-track mind focused entirely on her own needs.  She shows no mercy and cuts people out of her life, only going back to them when she feels she needs them.  She does ask for help, unlike Wonder Woman, who says she doesn’t ask for help, she gives it.  Babs even takes a bit of pleasure in violence, though always against the bad guys, while Wonder Woman only resorts to violence as a last resort.  She is also more socially minded, while Babs’ focus is more inward.

The ultimate difference between them though is their emotional states.  Wonder Woman has believes strongly in her gods, but says that is secondary to her complete faith in herself.  The closest things Batgirl has to a higher power are the fathers in her life: her literal father and Batman.  While both played a huge part in her origin story and are the reasons she has a hero complex to begin with, neither seems to play a role in her life as of her current story arc.  And by the end of it, she even doubts herself.

As a hero, Wonder Woman is the nobler of the two, the one we should look up to.  But as a character, Batgirl is the more relatable.  Barbara Gordon is lost.  She has recently come out of a dark place and is the on the other side questioning her identity and her purpose.  She is trying to do good both academically and in her community, but also struggling with her finances and identity. So while I admire Wonder Woman, Batgirl is the one I hold close to my heart.

Captain Marvel and Spider-Gwen are harder to compare.  While both of them are leaders (which is, I think, a really important aspect in the superhero formula), they’re also team players.  The difference is that Gwen tries to be on a team while still pushing people away emotionally, but Carol is actually really good at letting people in.  They’re both stubborn, too, but in slightly different ways.  Carol is the “I’m going to jump right into a fight that isn’t technically my fight and just keep on fighting” kind of stubborn.  Gwen is more patient, more calculating.

They also have different temperaments.   Danvers is snarky, but in a playful way, making the occasional dirty joke, teasing colleagues, and generally having a good time despite her problems.  Gwen has a smart mouth too, but with a sharper bite, and it only comes out when she’s wearing her mask as Spider-Woman.  When she’s just Gwen, she is far more serious and has a dark view on the world. The same outlook colors their motivations as well.  Gwen is trying to make up for a past mistake, while Carol just likes punching stuff and wants to do the right thing and help people.

But, like Babs, they’re both lost.  Spider-Woman (Gwen) is pushing her friends away, trying not to endanger her dad, and feeling extremely guilty for the death of her neighbor.  At the same time, she’s dealing with new powers and the fear that she’s a freak.  Carol has settled into her powers and her position as an Avenger.  She even has friends whom she loves.  But she’s still restless.  The real reason she was going to space, even before discovering Tic, was to try and find her place in it.

I love them both.  Of all of them though, Captain Marvel is still my favorite.

I hope you guys enjoyed June’s Reader-Voted Project!  Click below to vote for July’s.  And if you have any suggestions for August’s project, please leave them in the comments, because coming up with fun options is NOT easy.

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I realize it’s late but it’s still BOOK CLUB THURSDAY.

Today (this entire WEEK) has been really long and packed and crazy.  This is the only week in June I’m working every day, plus I started my second “job” today.  Still, I managed to work in a book, and finished A Boy at War by Harry Mazer.

Since it is so late, I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

I used this as my “based on a true story” pick for the 2015 Book Challenge.  It was written simplistically, so that children can understand it, but it doesn’t sugarcoat the horrors of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  And while I worried it would be propaganda-esque, it actually managed to incorporate the horrors that white Americans perpetrated against those of Japanese descent.  I was honestly a bit impressed.

It’s also got this, which made me want to read it more.

That's my Dad.

That’s my Dad.

So it’s a pretty good introduction to Pearl Harbor while still being entertaining and easy to understand.

Book Challenge

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First Jobs and First Drafts

A year and two months ago, my uncle told me not to quit my first job after a year.  He said that, because of the school system, and the way we always moved up at the end of the year, the temptation at the first job is that you call it quits after the same amount of time because you think you’re supposed to “graduate” to something new.

I won’t lie.  I have been tempted, though mostly just because I wanted more hours.  My books need a house, and my friend’s dog just had puppies which is kind of making me want a pet again.  There are places I want to go and paid vacation days, plus a little extra money, sound like the most reliable way to get there.

Well, a full time position opened up in my library system (though not at my library), and I interview for it tomorrow.  It may or may not actually pan out.  But the “may” part is pretty exciting to think about.  I could have benefits!  I could have paid vacation!  I could have my own place and decorate it how I like–

(Excuse me, going to look online for a diner booth…)

I’ve never had a lot of space that’s just mine, but I do miss the independence from my single dorm room and subsequent Florida/London apartments.

Wow, I’m getting carried away.  I haven’t even told you about my original topic for discussion this week…my first draft of my first novel.

I finished it May 31st.  I’m not sharing a lot of details yet unless your friends&family.  …Or follow my Tumblr.  But I’m pretty proud of what I accomplished and actually, for the first time EVER, looking forward to going back and editing it, which I’m going to start July 1st.  But I’m also taking the time to look back and reflect on what I’ve already done.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Having a “signature scent” that you put on ONLY when writing really does help.  I ran out of mine at one point and, no matter how many times I sat down, I never felt like I really got “into it” until I replaced the candle.

2. Still, sometimes its a matter of just putting in time and getting the word count up.  There are several sections of my novel that are written in my best prose, detailed and descriptive, and show the action rather than tell it.  But, as it is a first draft, there are also places where I literally wrote, “And here is where the person does a thing, that will somehow end up with this other thing happening.”  Rewriting is going to be your friend.

3. Don’t write when you feel like it, write when you can.  They say never to tell people you want to be a writer, but I found when I actually told my mom (who I currently live with) that I needed to have writing time (and also made it clear that I was willing to help out, but I needed to do it before writing time or she would have to wait until I was done), I managed to go quite a while without interruptions.

4. Give yourself a daily goal.  As I said, it’s really about putting in time and getting the word count up, but sometimes that blank page is really intimidating and it’s hard to get a good start.  I found if I said, “Okay Kari, you have to write one whole page,” by the time I was done with that one page, I was on a roll so I actually wanted to keep going.

5. Give yourself a deadline and something that will (or will not) happen if you meet said deadline.  Since there are no agents or publishers involved at this stage, it can feel like there are no consequences if you never finish, but the consequence is you never finish.  Who wants that?  So set your own deadline with some sort of reward system.

Hopefully, about this time next year, I’ll be telling you all what I learned writing the second draft.

Come back next week to hear me compare and contrast my favorite female Superheroes!

And while you’re at it, go ahead and vote for July’s Reader-Voted Project.

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To Kill a Mockingbird and Temporary Friendships

As promised, I finished To Kill a Mockingbird.  I liked it well enough, although it’s another example of how I wish I hadn’t known so much about it before reading it, since that’s why I spent the first eight chapters wondering when the story would start.  I thought tying the ending directly to the opening sentence was genius.  However, instead of talking about the book a whole lot, I’m going to use this as an excuse to discuss relationships.

Without ever being seen, Arthur Radley (or Boo, as you may remember him) proves himself a friend to Scout and Jem.  They finally, literally meet when he performs the ultimate act of friendship by saving their lives.  And then, Scout says, she never sees him again.

I have one friend from middle school I see on a regular basis and one from high school.  I met my boyfriend when I was 15 and we are still together.  That being said, there are many people who I thought would be permanent fixtures in my life who aren’t.  And, most importantly, I think that’s absolutely ok.

I am a different person now than I was in middle school and high school and college.  The people I still speak to have also grown and changed.  We were compatible then and we are compatible now.  Other people grew in different ways and maybe who we are now would not mesh well.

The thing we know from the tense of the book is that the whole story is Scout looking back on the events of those few years.  And even though she never saw Arthur Radley again, she’s still grateful for the relationship they did have.

So to you who were my very good friends but haven’t seen me in a while, I want you to know that I am so grateful for the time you were in my life.  I hope you are still doing well.  I appreciate all the ways you supported and challenged me and I wouldn’t be who I am now without that time with you.  And even if I never see you again, I will always think fondly of you.  In the future, when I’m showing my kids old photographs, they will know your name and how important you were to me.

There are a lot of things online about figuring out who is always going to be your friend and who never was, but I disagree with that.  I think that just because a friendship is good doesn’t mean it will last through every stage of your life.  And that doesn’t diminish the goodness or significance of it.

That being said, I now hate when people use “Boo Radley” as an insult, because he was a loner but he was a very kind man who was very good to Scout and Jem.  And I liked how the book treated him as such: misunderstood, but kind.

My most favorite thing about this book:  Atticus.  I finally see why everyone loves him so much.

My least favorite thing about this book: I always hate stories about false rape accusations because they’re so rare and I feel like it hurts actual victims.  I also hated that Mayella had to go back to her obviously abusive father.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Umm…I don’t know.  Anyone who uses Boo Radley as an insult, maybe.  I’ll throw the book at them and tell them to read it.  Otherwise, while good, I’m not sure it has a specific audience or even relevance now except to show a window into a certain time period.  Even that could be detrimental to current race discussions because people may think, “See how far we’ve come?” and not realize how far we’ve still got to go.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  After Lady Chatterley’s Lover and before Spy X: The Code.

July Reader-Voted Project poll is now on!

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Brad Paisley’s Crushin’ It Tour

This is not something I’ve gone into on this blog (although I did in my previous one), but I am a huge country music fan.  In the past it’s been all I listened to, though I am branching out some now.  Still, my favorite musician of all time is (and probably always will be) Brad Paisley.

I’ve been in the fanclub for a while, hoping to get a Meet & Greet since I keep going to concerts (this was my sixth).  That still hasn’t happened, but I DID get a backstage tour this time…

We saw the buses…

There are 20 vehicles on the road with them.

There are 20 vehicles on the road with them.

The trucks…

Each one has a specific purpose, and only that equipment goes on it.

Each one has a specific purpose, and only that equipment goes on it.

The video equipment…

100 pieces of pre-planned content!

100 pieces of pre-planned content!2015053195184712

The sign that says the music has to be off by 11.

Or Mom will shut you down, boys.

Or Mom will shut you down, boys.

And, of course, THE GUITARS!

Pretty, pretty babies...

Pretty, pretty babies…

I even managed to see my mom and sister from stage.

We had pit tickets.

We had pit tickets.

After all that, we got to actually see the show…

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As always, the show was amazing.  The Swon Brothers opened, and while I was only familiar with a couple of their songs, they had good energy and stage presence besides their sound being good.  Justin Moore was second, and we always love him.  And then Brad came out.

As always, his lights and videos were entertaining, but his guitar picking (which he is a god of, I’m convinced) and stage presence were strong enough that he was never upstaged.  There did seem to be a slight problem with his mic, where his voice was often close-to drowned out by the music, but that may have been due to our position.

He also had a full-functioning bar on stage.  He doesn’t drink, but it served Guinness Blondes to a ton of people all night because he is a big supporter of Guinness.  (If you’ve read any of my blog, you certainly know how feel about Guinness…)

Plus, for someone who has been to as many concerts as I have, it was nice to see him switch up his big song with Carrie Underwood.  If you’ve never seen a Brad Paisley show, whenever he sings a song that he duets with someone, he puts them on the video screen as a “guest” singer.  Usually, they’re just standing at a mic looking like they’re actually there, but this time he used somebody’s smart phone to “call” her.

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He actually took several selfies and a couple videos.  Next time I’m in the Pit, I’m going to make sure I have a smarter phone.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and left me a happy, happy girl.

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10/10 would do again.  Still…REALLY hoping for a meet and greet…

The June Reader-Voted Poll is closed, and the winner is…Compare and Contrast favorite female superheroes.  That will be coming to you June 16th.  If you have a preference for a text, essay-like post or a YouTube video (I will get it right eventually!) please let me know in comments.

Meanwhile, the July Reader-Voted Poll starts…now.

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