Is YA a Writing Style?

ya-as-a-style

Photo credit to Aaron Burden

I’ve thought a lot about YA. I’ve had my qualms and tribulations about it going from certain subjects being “taboo” to who can read YA (spoiler: it’s anyone and everyone). My biggest piece of thinking that I did towards YA was considering what subject matter was deemed YA and what was deemed NA or Adult. Personally? I think that anything is really up for grabs for YA. I believe that when young adults reach an age where they are becoming… well adults, they should be exposed to many ideas and many subjects. I’m not really a fan of people… coddling or sheltering people from the world. I don’t like to think of myself of some kind of cynic, I care too much for that, but I don’t want someone to go into the world unprepared of sorts. So I’m an advocate to open sex and sexual themes to YA because apparently we can have a bunch of minors killing each other for sport (m’hm I went there) but we get explicit sex scenes and oh no the children! 

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about, obviously.  Continue reading “Is YA a Writing Style?”

Problematic Characters = Great Characters

problematic-chars-thumbnail

Photo Credit to Paz Arando

I am a character driven reader. A book can have a plot full of plot holes and ridiculous cliches but if the characters are A++? I’ll probably still love it anyway. There’s nothing worse than reading a book with flat and boring characters. However, while I love books that have the go-to hero and villain, I LOVE characters that are neither but in between, a mix of both, or have the potential to be both.

Basically I’m more inclined to love characters that are morally ambiguous. This is how I’ve come to love the characters in Six of Crows, or Adelina from The Young Elites. I’ve come to love characters that seem one way and then surprise you in your reading by doing something they usually wouldn’t do whether it’s spurred on by a budding romance or by a strong relationship.

Why do I love these characters so much?

Honestly it’s because it keeps me interested. It wants me to know more about our characters. By bringing these different layers and facets to a character, I want to push them to their limit and test their abilities to learn more about them. Maybe I’m secretly a mad scientist on the inside… but still. It keeps me on my toes, it has me leaning in and paying attention. I want to peel back every layer, look at every facet and see what makes up this character.

This might come from me being in theatre and acting, but it’s just something that’s been constantly interesting in my experience as a reader. Even as a writer, my characters were always a lot stronger than the plot. I work and work on my characters until I fully know I can channel them and bring them to life on the page.

What I probably love most is seeing characters that are usually viewed as good and honorable to have a spot of darkness in them. Why? Because to me they seem more human. I like seeing them confront this darkness and make the decision to either fight it, embrace it, or use it to their advantage. It really speaks to me about how their character is (not them being a character but… character). I especially love it more when that same kind of character is confronted with a character of the complete opposite spectrum on an even playing field (such as Lila and Kell from ADSoM).

Sometimes I love characters that seem like the villain and then, again, kind of surprise you in the end such as Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury. He’s done incredibly problematic and unapologetic things, but I still really love him. Mostly because he helped Feyre with her own mental problems and well.. didn’t–ok I’ll stop before I spoil anything. BUT my point is that it tells me there’s always something more and something else to learn about a person. 3

What about you guys? Are you interested in problematic characters?

What I Have in My Bag + Giveaway

what's-in-the-bag-post

The time has come again. School. I myself am going into my junior year of college (ugh) and so I’m mentally, emotionally, and physically preparing myself for the oncoming semester. Of course the most important thing for any student is their backpack. Our backpacks are like our babies. It has everything inside of it that’s important and if we lose it suddenly it’s armageddon and we need to send out a search party. Or at least I do. Of course for this post you came to look at WHAT I’m carrying in my backpack and, of course, the giveaway that I’m putting together. We’ll start with the contents of my backpack first.

1. Notebooks + Paper

I’m the kind of gal who needs to have her notebooks separated. Don’t get me one of those five subject notebooks. I won’t use them except for some kind of scrap paper. I don’t know what it is, but I absolutely cannot use a notebook that also has three other subjects in it. They must all have their own specific spaces for notes and assignments. My favorite kinds of notebooks are smaller, thinner notebooks that are usually sold in asian stationery stores. There are brands like Campus, a Japanese brand which is REALLY AWESOME but also REALLY EXPENSIVE, but I tend to go for just a generic type.

2. Pencil Case

Of course you need something to write notes with, so I carry a pencil case. In said pencil case I usually have a variety of colored pens and highlighters along with a full arsenal of pens (specifically at .38 mm. I like very fine pens). I also usually carry a couple of my favorite mechanical pencils and erasers. I also carry extras for fellow classmates (but make sure they hand you back your pen, guys).

3. Water Bottle

Over here on the beach side of Southern California, I’ve been blessed with a rather tame summer. Still, however, hydration is ever of importance. I advise to always carry a reusable water bottle. If not I use the bought water bottle like a Smart Water bottle over and over until it’s all gross and bent out of shape haha.

4. A Book

Of course what do I bring if I’m not going to be studying? A good book. Whether this is a physical copy or an ebook (usually it’s an ebook for the sake of backpack space) I always carry one around so I can kill some time in the library or on the bus.

5. A Planner

As Alton Brown says many time, “Organization will set you free.” I’m a huge stickler for organization even though my room is a complete and utter mess. I need to keep a lot of things in order (which is why I get really anxious about last minute changes to plans). A planner is a great way to do this. I always try and keep it up for the most part of the semester to keep track of what classes I have and what assignments I have along with things like auditions or show dates. And plus they’re so cute.

6. The Essentials

What are these? Well for me it’s usually:

  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Keys

These are my three essentials for any kind of thing dealing with the outside world. I always keep my wallet on me at all times (more importantly my ID), my phone, and my keys. If it’s a day for going out and having fun I’ll also probably carry some make up to touch up or my Instax. If it’s for school I always take something like post-its or mints.

The Giveaway

So the giveaway portion. Probably the portion you’ve all been waiting for haha. Since school is starting (or has started, you poor children) I thought it would be nice to have some kind of giveaway for a school care package. School can be incredibly stressful and tiring–trust me you’re looking at someone who, last semester, took five college courses with two jobs. It can get a lil’ crazy sometimes. I present to you, the Back To School Care Package giveaway.

What’s included?

Everything I included in my list except for the essentials will be in your care package.

Yup so that includes:

  • Notebooks
  • Pencil case with some pens and pencils included
  • Book
    • This will be chosen through TBD, or if you’re in the US you can pick from the retailers available as long as the value is under $20.
  • Reusable Water Bottle (I’ll pick a hella cute one)
  • A Planner

Other things included will be a snack I got over in Taiwan, some Korean snacks, and some American snacks for those who are either outside of the US and you’re curious or you’re a US baby and you just want to get some good ‘ol taste of home haha. We all need snacks through our studying so there’ll be plenty of that.

Tea and/or coffee. Whether you’re a tea drinker or a coffee drinker, I’ll include that too! Tea is a go to for me when I’m studying. Very good for calming. Coffee just makes me way too jittery.

Some other feel good things. These are going to be a surprise, but they’re things that help me survive throughout the semester and keep me sane and I’d like to pass on those methods to you. Whether they work or not are really all dependent on you and your preferences, but I think a little help is always welcome.

The Fine Print

So here are some rules.

  1. This is open INTL as long as TBD ships to you. I really want the book to be included, so please make sure to check if they ship to you. It’d be really upsetting if they didn’t and we didn’t find out until you’ve been named the winner.
  2. You have to be at least 18 or have some kind of permission to disclose your address to me.
  3. This giveaway will end September 12, 2016. So it’ll be more of a “Back to School/Mid Term Care Package”.
  4. All entries will be in the rafflecopter.
  5. No giveaway accounts for anything. If I see it, you’ll be disqualified.
  6. If you are chosen to be the winner, I ask that you respond within 48 hours or else you will be disqualified and I’ll find a new winner. I’ll contact you via the social media you provide me in the Rafflecopter.
  7. Things get lost in the mail and that’s a huge bummer, but unfortunately I cannot be responsible for it. I will give you a tracking number, for peace of mind, though.

Thank you guys so much for stopping by and good luck to all of you! Head over to the link to join the giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let’s Talk About Henry Cheng

So remember when I made that really ranty and angry ass post about E&P. No? Here let me link you because I’m still salty as shit about it and will forever be salty because that piece of garbage is so fucking popular and it won a damn award.

Anyway.

So remember when I made that really ranty and angry ass post about E&P? Well now I’m about to make a really excited, really lovely post about Henry Cheng (obvs). I have a newfound respect for Maggie Stiefvater because this? Henry Cheng? THIS is how you write a good Korean character without it sounding grossly stereotyped and racist. I CANNOT tell you how fucking excited I was over the fact that Henry Cheng was Korean, but in such a casual and respectful way. I wasn’t reminded every other fucking minute that he was Asian or Korean. I wasn’t thrown disgusting stereotypes and descriptions. I just got Henry.

How did I know he was Korean? Because during Blue Lily, Lily Blue he says,

It’s supposed to be hanging with chicks during the day, boys at night. That’s what my halmeoni used to say, anyway.

Halmeoni is the Korean word for ‘grandmother’ and when he said that I was literally jumping up in happiness. It’s so thrown in their casually and not in a “ooh totally exotic” way. It’s just the way he speaks. It’s what he knows. It took me by surprise and I can’t put into words just how joyous I was with this discovery.

There’s even a whole part about how he doesn’t feel like himself when he’s speaking English because it’s his second language. He’s more comfortable in Korean. This is something I relate to because there are certain times where I say things in Korean rather than English because it just feels right.

There are so many moments where little bits of Korean culture is introduced so casually but also in an informative and respectful way.

Like in The Raven King:

Henry flipped crazy devil horns at him. “Jeong, bro.”

“What’s that mean?”

“Who knows,” Henry said. “It means being Henry. It means being Richardman. Jeong. You never say the word, but you live it anyway. I will be honest, I did not expect to find it in a guy such as yourself. It’s like we’ve met each other before. No, not really. We are friends at once, we would instantly do what friends would do for each other. Not just pals. Friends. Blood brothers. You just feel it. We instead of you and me. That’s jeong.

Tonight at dinner I asked my mom what jeong meant. My Korean is terrible, but I was really excited and elated about Henry that I had to ask her the question and she said,

“Mm. Not really. It’s really hard to explain in English. Korean families? They have jeong.”

“So like… You’d do anything for your family.”

“Kind of, but more. It’s very hard to describe in English. There’s not a good meaning for it.”

Even when Henry’s mother, Seondeok (which… is also the Queen from the Silla period, you should look her up) was even written in a very Korean way. I’m honestly a little impressed and flattered at how well she’s written and how well she portrayed a Korean woman. Just the way she spoke and acted was incredibly close to how I’ve seen Korean women be.

I really want to know how Stiefvater went about with Henry and Seondeok because this is a woman who really cared about these characters and didn’t want to just throw them in for the sake of diversity. There’s obvious work that went into it and it shows. I wish Henry had a larger part in the story for the sake of having more of his presence in the books because I need more readers to understand that this is how you write a Korean (or really any PoC or East Asian) without making them some kind of show monkey. This is how you respectfully add PoC into your stories.

There were a lot of things I found in The Raven King to not meet my expectations, but Henry Cheng was definitely not one of them.

Thank you Maggie Stiefvater.

What Do They Look Like? | Beautiful People

beautiful-people-appearance

Ah yes, I haven’t participated this in a long while mostly because… well life. But anywho. Beautiful People is a meme that is shared by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up, and Further In. This is a little thing to help us writers really flesh out the characters of our numerous WIPs. This month? What do they look like?

This month I’ll be talking about the new WIP I started in Taiwan. I’ll give you a rough synopsis since I’m still working on it: A Korean American begrudgingly exorcises demons and now has to help Satan back to Hell along with a ghostbusters/ghost hunters wannabe. Also Satan is her dad.

This is mostly a comedy piece if it’s not all that clear. I’m currently having a lot of fun writing. Speaking of which… I should get back to that.

But I digress.

We should move to the questions in…question. Ha.

Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)

Lana Minji Kim: Lana, our lovely heroine, has black hair that goes down to the middle of her back, black eyes, and she has a pretty average build. She’s not model thin, or athletically built, she’s just kind of… normal. She’s squishy in places and she has muscles in other places. Simple. Along with the rest of her averageness, she’s also around 5’5. She wears colored contacts for pretty obvious reasons (her eyes are black).

Mark Staton: Mark, the hilarious but also a little try hard sidekick, is rather tall. He’s about 6’1 and he’s rather lanky. He wears wire framed glasses and his hair is brown with really cute curls. Think of like…Simon in The City of Bones movie (honestly the best part of that movie because uh Robert Sheehan is great).

Lucien (AKA Satan): ??? His appearance changes a number of times in the story, I don’t really want to list them all.

Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Ah. I’ll be honest, I’ve only written a handful of chapters so I really don’t have a good snippet that really describes Lana’s appearance. It’s mostly from her POV so she doesn’t really describe herself too often. I do have a small snippet of our first encounter with Mark:

The senior’s name was Mark. He had really nice brown hair that curled a little bit and he left it just long enough that it curled in a really cute way. His glasses were black rimmed and he was a little lanky. Took after his father, a chemical engineer who was currently abroad in Holland. I think in another time, we might’ve been friends. He was pretty articulate and had a general good sense of music, but he took one look at me and turned tail. That was in kindergarten. Oh well. One thing about Mark, though: He tried too hard to fit in. Which is why he was throwing this party even though he knew that in the morning his house would be trashed, something is going to be broken, bathrooms are going to need cleaning, and explaining would have to be done.

What is the first thing people might notice about them?

Lana has her black eyes, so usually when she’s not trying to fool anyone (which is a lot) that’s the first thing most people notice. If she’s wearing colored contacts, she has, what I like to call, resting bitch face. You know that face. The perpetual “are you angry?” face.

 Mark is really adorable. He tends to put his hands in his pockets when he’s nervous with his shoulders scrunched up to his ears, but he’s also doubly adorable when he’s excited. He kind of reminds me of Adam Parrish from The Raven Cycle a little bit. Though take away the troubled past.

Lucien (*cough* Satan) always tries to look his best which is usually what most people see first. A really great looking guy (usually a guy). The swoon worthy material of many.

What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

Lana has black irises. She gets this from being the daughter of Satan, among other things.

Mark’s unique features is his built. He’s just really lanky, so he makes these wide gestures when he’s excited and it just looks funny.

Lucien’s feature is that he can look gloriously fabulous all the time. I mean what else is the lord of Hell supposed to do right?

How tall are they? What is their build (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)

 Lana, like I said, is a pretty average build. She’s got some squishy parts and some not squishy parts. She’s 5’5 which I think is a pretty average height for Korean females.

Mark is tall and lanky. I don’t really know how else to describe him. He’s 6’1 and since he’s more of the academic type rather than the athletic type, he doesn’t have much muscle definition.

Lucien is normally whatever he wants to be, to be quite honest. Usually his favorite is to be around 5’11 with a pretty athletic build. He likes looking fit but not body builder levels of muscle.

What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

Lana is pretty self confident despite her outer appearance of general nonchalance and rbf. She holds her head high and keeps her back straight. The way she walks is like she expects respect but doesn’t demand it.

Mark has a bad habit of slouching because he’s taller than most people but also he finds himself slouching a lot around Lana because they have such a height different.

Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

Lana doesn’t have many “lazy days”. She is always working, or exorcising, or studying. When she does have a lazy day she likes to wear big sweaters, should the weather permit it, and leggings (because leggings are the best) and take a walk.

Mark likes to roam on the Internet when he’s on a lazy day. He particularly likes creepy pastas and reading about demonology. You can probably find him wearing joggers and a t-shirt with his curly hair unkempt. Like I said, adorable.

Lucien it’s a mystery ooooooh.

Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

Lana likes to be fashionable so she can be found wearing necklaces, rings, and earrings. That being said, she doesn’t always put in the effort. Most of her wardrobe consists of uniforms anyway.

Mark has his goofy glasses but he also wears a nice mechanical watch.

Lucien likes to wear studs in his ears because he thinks they’re cool.

Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

Lana was made fun of her eyes all her life, but she’s kind of just taken it in stride and it really hasn’t bothered her.

Mark has comments made about his height and buI’ll every so often, but it’s usually more endearing.

Lucien has that whole… ram head, goat body thing going on so…

Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Lana is quite confident in her appearance. She doesn’t really care much about other people’s opinions about her. If anything she would not want to have black eyes.

Mark would probably like to be a bit bulkier in terms of muscle, but he hasn’t really thought about it. Not really that he’s confident like Lana, but it’s more where he hardly thinks about it.

Lucien I feel like he does and he doesn’t. I mean he changes how he looks quite often, but he does have favorites. He really wears faces and appearances like someone wears a wardrobe.