August 30, 2010

Psychology of Character #2: Conscientiousness

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In continuing with the psychology of character or OCEAN, today is for C. C stands for conscientiousness, which refers to attention to detail, conscious decision making (thinking before they act), . Someone who is high on conscientiousness may be a perfectionist, but have a good work ethic and dependable. Someone who is low on conscientiousness probably jumps into situations without thinking through them.

In my opinion, I do not think many characters in YA novels are high on conscientiousness. The prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain involved with decision making, is not fully developed at this age. This is why teenagers tend to make poor choices. It's really inevitable that a character will make a bad choice. Characters should make bad choices, it makes them flawed, it makes them human. Just because a character is high on conscientiousness, doesn't make bad choices. They may be more inclined to think the situation over beforehand and still go ahead and make the wrong decision.

Characters low on conscientious may not think through there actions. The conflict of this character may be learning to think of the consequences of their actions or to be come more self-aware. A character who is high on conscientiousness may think too much on there actions. The conflict of this character may be to learn to not analyze situations and jump in. There are many characters that fall on the range.

In looking through my reviews for a character that represents this trait, I thought of Marcelo from Francisco X. Stork's Marcelo in the Real World. Marcelo, in my opinion, is highly self-aware and is incredibly perceptive and particular about the way he keeps things and goes through his routine. He knows what he can do, but in this course of the story he learns his limitations and his strengths. I think its an interesting look at conscientiousness because we have a character who is thought to have a condition that affects his level of self-awareness. And yet, it turns out, he is one of the most conscientious characters in the novel because he constantly thinks through his actions and the implications of what he does. The struggle of the novel is whether he is going to do what is right or do what is easiest. I chose Marcelo because he seems to embody the trait, but also subvert it by being subjected to a situation that is not black and white.

As mentioned in the last post, think about Tolstoy's theory of shading. How would conscientiousness play with other traits such as extraversion or agreeableness? How do these traits play out in the course of the story? Does it help or hinder your characters?

Discussion: Do you know any characters that are high or low on conscientiousness? What about your characters, how would they rate? Share your thoughts!

August 29, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Series by Bryan Lee O'Malley

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 I'm combining the reviews for these books because I read them all in succession and I'm getting confused as to what happen in which book. My feelings on the books are pretty much consistent.

Date Started: August 28, 2010
Date Finished: August 28, 2010

Summary: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Scott is dating Ramona and is continuing to fight her evil exes. In this volume, he encounters Lucas Lee, a former skater turned actor in horrible movies. Knives is on the war path after Scott breaks up with her for Ramona and the two duke it out in a kick ass battle in the library.

In volume 3, Scott Pilgrim and The Infinite Sadness, Scott comes face to face with his ex-girlfriend, Envy Adams, who left him for her childhood friend, Todd, who is also one of Ramona's evil exes. (this one really is sad.)

In volume 4, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, Scott finally gets a job and moves in with Ramona, after his lease with Wallace expires. He also has to fight Ramona's evil ex-girlfriend, Roxie, and Knives father.

 In volume 5, Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe, Scott fights Ken and Kyle, twins that Ramona dated at the same time (gasp! Scandalous). In the end, Ramona can't handle all the pressure and leaves. Where does she go?

In volume 6, the last book, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, Scott is in a daze after Ramona mysteriously leaves. All of his friends have moved on and he's stuck in stagnation with no band, no girlfriend, no place to live, and no job. After trolling his exes for casual sex and not getting lucky, Scott (reluctantly) decides to face Gideon, Ramona's last and most evil ex. Ramona shows up in the nick of time, but can true love conquer all?



Likes: This book series is just so fun to read. I found myself laughing out loud in the Borders (probably getting some glares from people, but at least I was talking on my cell phone super loud). I really like all the characters. For a graphic novel, they all seem pretty well rounded and three dimensional. Once again, I love the art style and the relationships between the characters. Scott is just a crazy slacker who is trying to do the right thing, but the story humorously addresses the lives of 20 somethings who are just trying to navigate their ways in the world of work and relationships.

The last two books really bring in the whole theme of relationships and learning from past mistakes together which make it more than just the slacker comedy it started off as. I thought the ending really summed up a real sweet lesson about love and growing up without being didactic or over the top.(in the literal sense). It was a love story wrapped up in a slacker video game comic. The ending is so cute and sweet. It was a nice way to tie up the series.

 Dislikes: I keep getting some of the characters confused. I wish it was all in color.

Overall: I love this book and the casual commentary it makes about our generation. For some reason I think or generation of 20 somethings has it pretty bad. A lot of us are so used to being indulged and spoiled that we really have trouble taking care of ourselves without getting hurt. I don't think relationships are any more complicated than they were in older generations but the landscape in which we conduct them is entirely different.

Recommended by: People seeing the movie. I wanted to read all of the books before I saw the movie.

Acquired: I read the rest of the series at Border's after the Mockingjay event. I still will probably buy them just because the storytelling is so unique and the artwork is really cute.

August 27, 2010

Book Blog Hop/ Follow Friday #4

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Book Blogger HopThe blog hop is hosted by Jennifer by Crazy-for-Books.com. It's a fun way to discover to new blogs and make new online friends. This week's question:

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?
No, I don't use a rating system. Why not? Because I tend to like everything I read, so it would nearly always be a 4 or a 5. I typically just like to keep my reviews limited to just my opinions on a book. I'm not really good at rating things. I will rate them on goodreads, but it's really weird for me to put a number value on my opinion of a book. If there's a book I don't like, I'll just say I don't like it, but I don't really need a rating to say that.



Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee!



This week's featured follower is Book Ge3k. She loves to watch anime and loves all things Japanese. Awesome, so do I! She just started her blog in July, so give her some love.



Oh yeah, there was a question for this one. What is the first book that I remember reading? The one I remember most vividly was "Are You My Mother?" about this little bird that got lost and is looking for it's mother. I had my mom read that to me every night. I also remember a lot of Sesame St. books, especially Cars, Trains, and Airplanes or something to that effect. I still have most of these books. I hope they'll still be relevant when I have children (I keep pushing the number of years back every time I have to go to work).








August 25, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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Date Started: August 24, 2010
Date Finished: August 24, 2010

Summary: Katniss Everdeen has survived two rounds of the Hunger Games and now is debating whether she should become the face of the revolution as the Mockingjay. 

Likes: I've been in a day long state of literary shock. This is a good thing in a sense that a book can cause so many emotions. I laughed, I cried (multiple times), I screamed into pillows then promptly threw them across the room. It was just that good. There was a lot of action and I was invested in the outcome of the characters. I'm glad Gale got more screen time. He's kind of ruthless and not afraid of sacrificing others for the greater good. He's one of my favorite characters in this book. (not to say that I was ever team Gale or anything, but he's just really cool and the way I imagined him, he was incredibly hot.) He's smart, resourceful, and he truly comes alive in this book.

The book didn't spare any details which is something I enjoyed. Sometimes the description was too much, but it was well written and very cinematic with a lot of sensory details that sucked me into the story with the characters. The tone of this book is definitely darker than the first two (if that's possible) and the sense of urgency kept me reading and wanting to know what happened next. I read the book in one night and I couldn't put it down.

Dislikes: There was a few things that I didn't think were necessary. A lot of things that happened just made me angry and I wish they had never occurred. There was no reason for those things to happen and they didn't seem to add anything to the overall plot of the story. I'm coming to terms with what happened in the last few chapters. I'm still not happy about it, but I do commend the author for being brave enough to go that far with her characters. The true ending is bittersweet, but the epilogue was just strange (as most epilogues of epic series are. Harry Potter, anyone?).

Overall: I'm still on the fence about this one. After rereading certain parts, I have to say this is one of my favorite books. Ever. (On par with Looking for Alaska)  On the one hand, it was very well-written and thought provoking. In the large scheme of things (like the world or something), it makes you think about the complexities of a war and the unnecessary sacrifice of life for the common good. However, given what happened in the course of the series, I'm not sure the specific situations in this story were the right choices for this particular series. The ending left me with a hollow feeling. I'm glad that the author didn't spare any of the gory details and didn't give a deus ex machina just so she could tie up the series into a neat little happy package. At the same time, there were certain things that happened in the story that keep me from liking it completely. When you read it, you'll find out what I mean. 

Recommended by: Pfft, who hasn't recommended this book after the first two. If you haven't read the first two, go read them now, then relax, buy tissues, book proof your house (because you might toss it at a wall and break something), and read this book.

Acquired: I bought the actual book, but I couldn't wait for it come in the mail, so I read it on the Kindle App for the PC. Now my book is in the mail, but I forgot to pick it up and now I have it. I've been reading some of my favorite parts again and will probably read the whole series during Christmas break.

August 23, 2010

Psychology of Character #1: Openness

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The Big Five Personality Approach

The Big Five Approach is a way of studying various aspects of personality. The five traits in this personality category are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (Emotional Stability). Together these words make the acronym OCEAN (or CANOE, if you're old school according to my teachers.)

Openness to experience refers to the ability to think creatively or imaginatively and to be open to new experiences. The testable measures of openness are fantasy, values, aesthetics, feelings, actions, and ideas.

Someone who is high on openness may be impulsive and sensation seeking. Someone who is low on openness maybe reserved and withdrawn. However, this trait alone isn't the end all or be all of your characters. My creative writing teacher refers to Tolstoy's idea of shading your characters. All of these traits interplay with each other and give your character depth. Try exploring how these traits would play off one another. What would happen to someone who is high on openness and high on neuroticism? 

Some characters that speak out to me as being high on openness tend to be teenagers. In fact, I feel that most teenagers in YA books need to have some degree of openness. That's one reason why I read YA novels because these characters are open to experience as ultimately most teens are. These experiences shape their identities and that's the interesting part to me. Whereas in adults, openness tends to decline with age and unless there are extremely well-written and/or can have me invest in the characters, are not as open to new experiences as teenagers tend to be. Most young adult novels deal with changes that usually can't be controlled (moving, losing a best friend, romance, etc...)so they have to find some way to cope. That is the conflict. 

What happens when you get too high on the spectrum? One character that comes quickly to mind would be Alaska from John Green's Looking for Alaska.When you read the novel, you can see that all the characters are sensation seeking and impulsive, but not to the point where its an overall problem. Except for maybe, Alaska, who's openness interacts with other traits (neuroticism?) to cause the conflict to come into play.

A character who has a decent balance of openness would be typically most teenagers in YA fiction. They can sometimes be a bit apprehensive, but at the same time willing to try new things. When I was a teenager, I was a bit reserved, but could be prone to being impulsive when the mood struck me. Others I know were constantly doing something impulsive, possibly even reckless, and they had to deal with consequences. Others I know hardly took any chances and as a result didn't have to deal with the consequences of their own actions, but the actions of others. That can make for great tension and a good read. Characters from books like this would be Caleb and Corinne from Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles who have to deal with the consequences of their friend's actions. Also Clay Jensen from Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Each of these characters are a balance of control and impulsiveness, but ultimately they are paying for the consequences of the others around them. (Ellie and Josh from Jumping Off Swings and Hannah from Thirteen Reasons Why)

Very rarely will you find a character that is low in openness. They may start off that way, but for the story to work and be compelling, the conflict comes when they pushed into the open and need to start dealing with the situation. Most urban fantasies and paranormal romances start off like this. An inciting incident or encounter with paranormal, a disbelief, another encounter, belief, then action. I'm currently reading Iron King by Julie Kagawa and Meghan starts in a state of disbelief about the existence of faeries. Ultimately, a character needs to overcome that problem to protect the ones they love. A story about a character who isn't inclined to experience anything makes for a boring novel and a passive character.


So readers: Do you know any characters that would rate high, low, or balanced in a novel? What about your own characters, how would they rate on the openness scale? Share your thoughts in the comments!

August 22, 2010

In My Mailbox #1

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Isn't this just the most adorable puppy? 
In my Mailbox is hosted by the Story Siren and is about the new books everyone is getting for the week. I had these books for a while, but I haven't had the chance to read them yet. I'll have more time next week when summer school gets out. All you high schoolers go back the moment I get out, poor things.

And the book I'm most excited to read? Awwwww, yeah! This is the first time I ever preordered a book. Now that I bought this one I have to buy/win the other two. (that's why I don't by books, especially series. If I buy one, I have to buy them all)
I think I might combine New Crayons and In my Mailbox together, because they are essentially the same thing.

What books did you get this week?

New Crayons #1

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New Crayons is hosted by Color Online. This meme discusses what books of colors we've gotten for the week. Some of these books come from giveaways, the library, and on the rare occasion, actually having the money to buy them. I'm trying to buy more books with characters or authors of color. This week I have:





                                                 Books I got from the Library:








I won this in Reading in Color's Giveaway. Thank you, Ari!
I bought these books from Amazon.com: 




Did you get any multicultural books this week?


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August 20, 2010

The Psychology of Character: Introduction

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I am a psychology and creative writing major and usually when I tell people that their response is "Wow, how do those go together?" After nearly four years of hearing this response, I didn't think anything of it and just assumed that it didn't match up. Then a few weeks ago I told my doctor and she said "Wow, those go together perfectly." I didn't see it at first until I had to write a paper about things and was like "Wow, these do go hand in hand." You have to know a little bit about personal behaviors, thoughts, attitudes, and personality to create a fully realized characters. There are so many parts of a person that you couldn't get just on the page.

I don't presume to know anything major about psychology or creative writing. All I do know is that I'm interested in both fields and there's a connection between the two.

I will be posting these when I get the chance. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you'll add your own opinion about the subject too.
 
Big Five
Life Span Development
Defense Mechanisms
Culture
Judging Personality in Daily Life/Writing

August 19, 2010

Blog Hop/Follow Friday #3

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Book Blogger Hop This week's question: How many blogs do you follow?

Surprisingly, I don't follow as many blogs as I thought. I follow 190, varying from webcomics, webfiction, industry blogs, race and ethnicity blogs, author blogs, book blogs and personal blogs. I'm always looking to follow more, because people's lives and opinions are interesting to me. (even if we don't share the same views.




PhotobucketThis week's featured follower is

http://edgyinspirational.blogspot.com/

She blogs about Edgy Christian Romance. Sounds interesting to me.

August 18, 2010

101 in 1001 Win: Take a Make Up Class

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As a part of my 101 in 1001 bucket list, I went to a make-up artistry class at the Bello Salon in my hometown. The class was really fun and the lady helping us with our make-up was named Christy. She was really nice and helpful. The class was small with only 4 people (there was two of us at first). One girl got an age appropriate make-up and I got the smoky eye. I had to get used to the look, but I felt I looked like a clown at first, but it grew on me and I'm going to try to mimic the look with different colors.

(Ignorance note: Our make-up artist even does hair, Black hair. I know this sounds a little stupid of me, but I didn't think White hair artists did Black hair. In my hometown, they did, but they did a horrible job because it would be frizzy and never hold up. However, it looks like this lady knows what she's doing. I'm hoping to go there for touch ups in between my original hairdresser(I like her because she does good work and I get a discount). I'm definitely going to go to her to get my hair dyed (if it's allowed where I work).) 

Now to commence to camwhoring!



I really like this eye makeup, it makes me look like I'm 17, instead of 14 (even though I'll be 22 in October).  To get this look(results may vary because I'm no expert and I couldn't really see what she was doing):
  1. Using a dark eyeliner, cover 1/4 of the eyelid.
  2. Take the colors you want to add and put them in from dark to light. (she used black, plum, and white on me). 
  3. Next, you start with the dark color, tap off then press the powder onto your eyelid, then sweep and blend.  
  4. Use the second lightest color (this would be the plum for me) and press it on to your brow bone, then sweep and blend. If you mess up, just layer the darkest color and blend. 
  5. Use the lightest color and press the white against the under side of your eye brow and blend.
I'm probably going to make time to do this style more often once I get some contacts and the right supplies.

Do you have any make-up tips that you want to divulge? Share them in the comments.

August 17, 2010

Never Write About Your Friends, A True Story

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*sigh* Writing is hard. You have to create characters, create plots, incorporate themes, and then you have to write the damned thing. When your in high school and you are somewhat creative, like to write, and friends with a bunch of anime geeks, you kind of have half the story pre made. See, at least in my experience, my anime friends and I followed a set of tropes because you know... that made things easy. We didn't have to see each other beyond our love of anime and other mutual interests. And then you grow up, realize that you were a moron in high school, go to college, and meet other people who you get to know on a deep and complex level. Hopefully, you'll learn to realize that your high school friends are complex and deep individuals as well. And then you have the cases when you realize that... the people you were friends with are morons who will contribute nothing to the world. (harsh, but true).

Why am I saying all this? Because, I, dear readers, made a terrible mistake when I was in high school. I wrote a story about it. A story that I should never have let see the light of day, but instead had such high hopes that it would one day get written, become a huge success, become a cartoon series, and rocket launch me into international stardom and happiness. I became invested in it, my friends became invested in it, and then it just snowballed and got out of hand.

August 13, 2010

Book Blog Hop/ Follow Friday #2

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Book Blogger HopThe Blog Hop is hosted by Jennifer at CrazyforBooks.com.



How many books do you have on your 'to be read shelf’?
Way too many. I have stopped counting at maybe 250, too lazy to go and count but I know the list is massive. I have books that I want to read that I haven't put on my list. I just tend to keep book titles or authors in mind for the next time I go to the library.  



 

Follow Firday is hosted by Parajunkee and this week's featured follower is: - http://nymfaux.blogspot.com/ so go check out her awesome blog.


August 10, 2010

101 in 1001: Have A Blog Giveaway

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Hosting a blog giveaway was exciting. I went from 6-7 followers to nearly 60 in a span of a week. I think the coolest things is that I also met a lot of cool people and found some interesting blogs as well. Since this was a part of my 101 in 1001 list, I'm going to give some reflection about it. I hope to do this with everything that goes on my list.

Pros: I forgot how fun promoting and marketing things could be. When I used to write web fiction, I always had fun finding new websites to place ads and talking to others in the web fiction world. It felt nice to be a part of something and to just have fun with it. I wasn't expecting the turn out to be so big, but it was and it was fantastic.

Cons: I messed up the google form and jacked everything up on the first couple days, so I had to start over again. I feel that I should have tested out the form beforehand before unleashing it to the world. Also, I had a million bills to pay, so I think I could have planned a better time. Maybe in the middle of the month. I was so busy with the giveaway that I forgot to blog things that people could read.

Overall: Contests can be a lot of fun, but I suggest if you are going to do one, make it easy to enter, give away something people want, and just have fun with it. Winning just puts a smile on my face (the first time I won something, I darn near fainted because I beat out John Green to get it)  so knowing that I could do that for someone else, gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Didn't win this week? That's okay! Giveaways are so much fun, I'll be holding another one in a couple of weeks!

August 9, 2010

1st Blog Giveway Winner

This month has been the first month I've ever had a blog giveaway and it's been an overwhelming and huge success. There were over 30 participants and over 70 amounts of entries. I determined the winner by entering them in my spreadsheet and using random.org to calculate the winner. 

And the winner for this first ever giveaway is: 




Laura Hartness


You have 24 hours to email me at ncobb001 at gmail dot com to confirm your prize. 


Didn't win? Don't worry, I'll be having more giveaways later in the month, so stay tuned!

August 6, 2010

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

I'm deciding to hold my first giveaway for the month of August. I'm extending this to through the weekend and announcing the winner on Monday.  
Contest is now closed!

This week's prize: 



A $20 Dollar Amazon Gift card just for you. 
To participate in this giveaway, you must be a follower to win.
Please comment on this page with:
your name, 
your email address, 
and your favorite book.
If you are a twitter follower(@nlcobb): +2

Character Spotlight #2: Noah

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In continuing with my #WeSeWriMo character spotlight, I give you Noah St. James.

Author's Notes: Noah is fun to write. He's smart, crass, rude, and a complete jackass. What bad boy isn't? He's a genius with designs, but a failure at actually building those designs(this is where Alessandra comes in). He is the standard drifter just rolled into town looking for a job. He's ruthless, selfish, and has little sense of what's right and what's wrong. Then he gets punished for his crimes, regrets said crimes, and now is being punished by people who want him to continue those crimes, and is officially being punished for the other crimes. He's being chased on both sides and he doesn't really care who he uses to stay alive. Doesn't he just sound absolutely charming?

Once again using Janice Hardy's questions.  I apologize if this is spoilerific, but he is the catalyst to the story.

Book Blog Hop/ Follow Friday #1

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Book Blogger Hop





Book Blog Hop: Do you listen to music when you read? If so, what are your favorite reading tunes? I always listen to music when I read. I tend to listen to instrumentals by Joe Hisaishi, Yoko Kanno, and Hans Zimmer. I love listening to movie soundtracks and since I've been using my new netbook, I haven't downloaded anything. Most of my music comes from whatever shows up on the Pandora playlist. Sometimes I'll just have the TV on mute or on a food infomercial(I know weird, right) just to have noise in the background.

August 5, 2010

Character Spotlight #1: Alessandra

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WeSeWriMo Progress: Finish the Episode I'm working on


Web Serial Writing Month or #WeSeWriMo is a month long foray into the wild worlds of web serial writing. For those who don't know what a web serial is it is basically a serialized novel that is put online for others to read. However, the thing that makes it less like a novel is the fact that you can actively engage in the work by talking to the author and making suggestions and influencing the story at hand. (ErgoFiction has a really good post on web fiction and why you should read it)

Back in 2007, I started my own web serial, It's All Relative. However in 2009, life became too much and I had to stop writing. Now I'm back and I'm starting a whole new serial. 

Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk(working title) is about Alessandra, a 19 year old girl taking care of her family bakery and Noah, the guy who steals her moped, blows her a whole in her roof, and literally break his heart. Alessandra needs to get out of her stifling town and Noah is the only one who can. Well, he's not the only one, but he needs her and she knows it.

I used Janice Hardy's questions because character sheets never seemed to work for me. It helped me keep their hair and their eyes color straight, but beyond that, they never really seemed to get down deeper beyond one-liners about the personality.

Author's Notes: Alessandra, or Al or Aless (as she's affectionately called in some circles), is a joy to write. She's so frustrating sometimes. Last night I wrote a scene that had me totally angry with her. I spent the whole day analyzing if that was something she would have done. And yes, it was. It was stupid, shallow, and narrow minded. I thought about cutting the scene, but it's so revealing of her character and the length she is willing to go to regain her sense of control. I love writing her. She's a strong female protagonist, but she isn't so strong that she doesn't have any limitations nor is she weak that she caves under everything. I think there's a good balance of both.

Anyway, here are the character stats and whatnot for her. I tried to make them as spoiler free as possible.

August 3, 2010

Creativity Workshop: Have your cake and eat it too!

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After the workshop
The Creativity Workshop was a big success. I didn't hit my stride until the last section, but I caught it just in time of Web Serial Writing Month. What I truly learned from this workshop is to actively think a bit ahead of the plot and only edit when I see myself writing into a corner. I keep thinking about the different ways I can bring my story to the point I want to be at. In the past, I used to just think about where I wanted the story to go, but not necessarily how to get there. Now I get to a certain point and reevaluate the story to see if it's accomplishing what I wanted it to accomplish. If not, I add some things, take somethings out. These small little edits are helping to shape the story.

It's kind of like Ace of Cakes, where they get just an ordinary cake. The regular sheet cake is the idea, and now to get a beautiful cake, I have to shape that sheet cake into something awesome. These small edits are like carving the cake. You have to keep carving and carving until you get it right. Before, I would just hack away at it. Like using a chainsaw to carve instead of a knife. And instead of having a beautiful cake like the one at the top, I had a hot mess like the cupcakes to your right. (yes, that's me like 2 years ago). I wrote like that, then I had to do a major overhaul because I kept writing myself into a corner and couldn't find a way out. The story never seemed to accomplish what I set out to accomplish. 

What I learned about the workshop was patience. You have to actively seek out inspiration, instead of waiting for it come to you. Then when you get that inspiration, you have to determine whether it's just an idea or something that can be formed into a story. Case in point, with my current story, Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk. That story came about from thinking about many different things, getting disappointed with current stories that I've read, and enjoying stories and movies from the past. It was about taking those elements and combining them and having no expectations as to the quality that came out. Then I got it. I got that spark that made the story deeper and gave it layers. The creativity workshop helped me think of "What if..." instead of "How do I fix this mess?" Now instead of throwing everything together and getting a beautiful mess of plots, I have something that started off original, even if it was a combination of different things that I liked, reworking things I didn't like from other stories, and actively thinking ahead and wondering how to best accomplish what I want my story to do.

Thank you, Merrilee for this wonderful workshop. I hope you have another one and for those reading this, if she does have another workshop, you better join!(it's free!)

August 1, 2010

Letter to Borders

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To Whom it May Concern:

I am Najela Cobb, I am a college student and an avid reader. I can spend hours in a book store looking at the different titles and stories available for reading. However, as I continue to peruse the store, especially in the Young Adult section, I found that there are an overwhelming number of books that do not reflect the multicultural world that we all live in. Many of these books include white characters and white authors and while there is nothing wrong with these books, I find it increasingly hard to find books that have characters that look like me and my friends. I am African-American and my friends are from many different nationalities. Even though we may have different cultures, we all share one thing in common. We all love to read. More importantly, we all love to recommend each other books that we enjoyed and when we have the money, we typically buy these books. There are a number of talented authors and books that feature characters of various ethnic backgrounds, cultures, colors, races, socioeconomic status and more. The publishers believe in these books, but if the book sellers are not supplying them to store and working on having these books in stock, these books are being lost and their voices are being silenced.

There have been many recent debates and debacles about race in publishing and the most recent is the repackaging of Cindy Pon's book, Silver Phoenix. In this case, the publisher chose to have a very dynamic cover with an Asian model prominently featured. The cover was beautiful and the book is well written. There is no reason for this book not to be sold along side other young adult fantasy novels. However, Borders chose not to carry this book and Barnes and Noble carried limited qualities. This has lead the publishers to believe that this is because of the cover. They are now repackaging this book to look more "appealing" by replacing the Asian model with a White model and making the book look more paranormal. This is saddening. There is no reason why this book and others should have to repackage their covers. This hurts the publishers, this hurts the authors, and most importantly it hurts the reader and your potential customers. Ultimately, this could hurt booksellers in a powerful way.

My belief is that the young adult section of the bookstore should reflect the world we live in with many multicultural books. The economic buying power of minorities is steadily increasing. It would be to the benefit of the bookstore to tap into this burgeoning market by choosing books that accurately portray the clientele of the bookstore. By not choosing books with characters or by authors that are of color, the bookstore is shutting out a entire market of potential buyers. Buyers who would gladly take there business elsewhere to find the book they were looking for.

I am a card carrying Border's customer. I love being able to walk into any Border's and find great customer service and an inviting atmosphere. Unfortunately, books that deserve and have earned the right to be on the shelves are not being stocked. These books often feature people of color. It would be to the benefit of the store to aggressively market these books. There are many people that are simply looking for a good book to read. Many of these books that feature ethnic characters are good books and when they are not prominently featured like some of the more mediocre books, I often wonder why. It would behoove Border's to open up to the growing market of teenagers of color.

I realize that Border's is a business, but it would be beneficial to open up the market for many different kinds of books to displayed. Border's would do well to stock these books and actively promote them. To not do this would be to ignore an entire market of people who are looking for a breath of fresh air in a book market over-saturated with cookie cutter books. To not do so would be shutting out an entire population of people who are ready to buy, read, and enjoy books with characters and authors that look like them. I can speak from experience that I and many people I know are actively on the look out for books that reflects our multicultural world and we also ready to buy them from your otherwise excellent store.

I am looking forward to stepping into my local Borders and seeing  books with characters and authors of color prominently displayed on your shelves. Most importantly, I look forward to buying these books from your chain.  Thank you for your time. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to e-mail me at ncobb001 at gmail dot com.

~Najela

What's Happening? #1 August!

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What's happenin'? This is a series of posts that take place every month about the goals I'll be trying to accomplish during the month.


Writing goals:
Sex, Drugs, and Steampunk a web serial novel project that I'm trying to write for WeSeWriMo. I'm not sure it'll have as much sex and drugs as the title implies, but I'm trying to write out of my comfort zone. On Wednesdays (for #webficwed)I'll post the unedited excerpts for your viewing pleasure. This will count for the 101 in 1001 goal of writing 3 first drafts, writing a new web serial, and write two sex scenes without fading to black.

Slowly, but surely the DF(which has slowly become an Urban Fantasy) is making progress. The first chapter was due July 31, but since I got involved with SDS, there hasn't been much done on this. There also isn't a set deadline for being finished. My co-author and I spent the day brain storming and had our first somewhat successful free write. 

Blog Goals
I set up some pretty ambitious private blogging goals, but I also have some plans for this blog.
I hope to have some theme posts written about reading, writing, and some of my interests. I definitely plan on having some giveaways so you can win various things such as gift cards, books, etc.... I'm truly grateful to be in the position to host some giveaways.

This is a schedule for giveaways. I have yet to determine some of the prizes:

August 1- August 6, Winner Announced August 7        $20 Amazon Gift card
August 8- August 13, Winner Announced August 14     Two notebooks, pens, and a book light
August 15- August 20, Winner Announced August 21   $20 Amazon Gift card
August 22- August 27, Winner Announced August 28,  Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins(this one I know for sure)

I plan on posting some themed blogs about the intersection between Psychology and Creative Writing starting on Tuesday.

So I hope you sit back and enjoy this crazy month!

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