Writing Insights #3: Rants & Paranoia

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My original plan for Writing Insights was not to start a rant and get paranoid, you really have to believe me when I say that. I wanted to something along the lines of character development, common tropes, writer’s block and editing and I will do that at some point in the series. However, I feel like I have to get this off my chest before being able to move on. I hope this doesn’t get too long!

The internet is a weird place, we all know it. We have never been more connected than right now, but at the same time I feel more removed from some humans than I have before. You can get access to almost anything and the whole thing is so vast, there is no way to really ever see everything that’s on the web (Not that I want to. There is weird and there is batshit crazy and I don’t need the latter). It has happened before that my posts have been copied, and I really mean copied and not reblogged, with only a very hidden hint that I was the creator of said posts. A couple days ago though, I witnessed something even more terrible happening to a fellow blogger.

Many of us know Cait from Paperfury, and if you don’t, you should really change that. She is a force to be reckoned with, super creative and generally someone I would consider a real blogging and writing inspiration. See, there’s nothing wrong with admiring another person and maybe even aspiring to be/write like them (even though I would always encourage you to find your own voice). However, what happened to her is that a random person stole her blog posts and instagram pictures and claimed them to be their own. In some ways I think this is worse than catfishing. They didn’t just pretend to be someone else in terms of looks, they stole her personality, her essence that made her unique. The matter is resolved now, seen as that person has deleted or set all accounts to private. But what concerns me is how easily someone could just do that again. How is there any way to really know if someone is doing something like this, other than finding out by coincidence?

So, it got me thinking. I don’t mind sharing my stories and writing with you. Heck, I even feel like I need to share it most of the time, but now there is also that little voice in my head saying that I should be careful, because I never know who might get silly ideas and take away what I have created. Even big time authors get allegations of having stolen or copied material. It’s difficult to tell where one person’s idea comes from and whether it was created at the same time with someone else or later on. As I said, I often get inspired by other people’s work, but I want the result to be my own and my creation alone. So, right now I am trying to figure out how to share my stories with you in a safer way. Maybe I will upload it to wattpad instead of the blog, where it is so much easier to just copy it. Would you still read it if I just provided a link for that?

Sorry about those ramblings, but it was something I had to get off my chest. It’s weird, because it didn’t even really happen to me, but I still felt like it could and that made me angry and sad. Did something like that ever happen to you? Do you have any ideas of how I could share Kasia and Dyson’s story better?

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (Book Review)

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Publisher: Point
Page Count
: 330

For all of you who don’t know, P.S. I Like You was included in the August OwlCrate box. You can find my full unboxing post here. A couple years back, regular contemporaries were all I ever seemed to pick up, but nowadays Fantasy mostly rules my shelves This in no way should mean that I don’t still enjoy the genre. In fact, I like reading it very much, I just don’t seem to buy them as often. However, after my massive reading slump the past weeks, this was the PERFECT book to read.

P.S. I Like You is pretty much what you would expect it to be: fluff-galore, laugh-out-loud-funny, relatable and super fast-paced. This was my first Kasie West book, but I regret absolutely nothing. At first the anonymous-note-writing reminded me a little of Simon vs. the Homo-Sapiens Agenda, but it definitely is a story all of its own. In the beginning you try to figure out who Lily, the main character, is exchanging letters with and I think it’s not that difficult to figure out. At least I wasn’t surprised, because it is never the person the main character wants it to be … that’s like a universal law to not make it that easy.

Generally I really liked Lily, even though she could have a tendency to get annoying when she doubted herself to much. Quite frankly I thought what she called “awkwardness” was a brilliant sense of humour … but then again I am also more on the awkward-spectrum of human beings. I sort of expected there to be more conflict between her and her best friend at some point, but then again I am also very glad that wasn’t the case. I feel like there are often very toxic friendships in books, where things never get talked through and it slowly sours the relationship, which is probably why I expected some sort of explosion at one point or another here. As I said, they are super cute though and it never happened, which is a nice change.

Lastly, I enjoyed how much of a focus there was on family. As we have all discussed numerous times in the past, there is a real lack of involved parents in YA, but not here. The parents were present, annoying and did not let their children do whatever they pleased at whatever time of night they wanted – which seems realistic to me. There was also the opposite spectrum of parenting. So, I liked how they showed all kinds of relationships a kid could have with their parents and siblings and other relatives.

So, the plot might have been a tad predictable, but it was still done in such an enjoyable way. The characters were very likable and fun to be on the journey with.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! It was exactly what I needed when I needed it, so no complaints from me.

5starsI am really happy that all my OwlCrate-books were 5-star-reads so far! Keep it up! Did you read this one as well? Do you have a favourite Kasie West book?

Writing Insights #2: Routines & Inspiration

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Welcome back to my new feature Writing Insights! In case you missed you missed the first part of this new series chronicling my writing adventures, just click here to check it out. I bet you didn’t think I would be back with this quite so soon, but since I am still not very much in the mood for tags, yet feel very inspired to write, I thought I’d just go with the flow here.

Thanks to your questions from last time, we also have great topics today!

Routines & Inspiration

First question is from Rami @Rami Ungar the writer: “Do you have a particular writing routine?”

Short Answer: No

Long Answer: Kind of.

Just kidding, that wasn’t the whole answer. I don’t have a set time or schedule of when I write. I also don’t really have a particular routine I go through before I feel comfortable to write. There’s no ceremonial tea brewing or pencil sharpening before I can let my thoughts pour out, I mostly just write down everything and anything that comes to mind when inspiration hits.
Generally I don’t like to snack while reading or writing though. And neither drinking very much to be honest. I just find it very inconvenient and am always afraid I am going to spill something or get sticky/greasy fingers. So, that’s sort of a no-go. What I can’t do without is music though. It either has to be something that fits the scene or something that can play in the background without distracting me too much. If I ever do need to concentrate more than usual, I will just turn it down. Complete silence doesn’t work for me personally.
Also, I do prefer writing on my laptop, but I really will take any kind of scrap of paper I can find if necessary. The only thing I insist adamantly upon is the pen I write with. Do you know that weird feeling when a pen just doesn’t sit right in your hand or you see the colour fading? I don’t know why, but that annoys me to no end. So, whenever I don’t type away on my laptop, I need a pen I like … and defining that is something I am not capable of.

Do you have a writing routine? Please don’t hesitate to share!

Second Question is from CW @Read, Think, Ponder: “Where do you draw your inspiration from, particularly the fantasy/magical elements?”

General inspiration can come from any of the following sources:

  • Music
  • Movies/TV shows and the actors/actresses involved
  • Random people on the street/coffee shop/whereever-you-tend-to-see-random-people-being-random
  • A photograph or painting
  • Dreams
  • Conversations you have with your bff/family/colleagues

I know that was super vague, but I believe in all honesty that everything can be an inspiration, which is also why I always have a pen and notebook at hand. I have several filled with random observations during the day or thoughts/dreams I had. However, the question was more specific than that and therefore is also more complicated to answer.

I will admit that I sometimes often struggle with originality. A lot of my ideas come from stories I heard and liked. That can be anything from a current TV show to a century-old myth. But there is something weirdly universal about fairy tales and myth that you can, if not always at least a lot of the time, twist to the needs of your story. Technically there are no bounds when it comes to magical worlds, you can literally make up whatever you like. However, everything in our rational mind demands rules, even magic. Figuring out those rules is one of the hardest jobs ever, because there has to be a consistency in the logic of your magic, even when it defies logic. Am I making sense yet?
I always admire people who can come up with a new concept or at least a fresh spin on a topic, because that really is the tricky part and something I always aspire to do in my own writing. One of my first long stories I’ve ever written was about a group of teens who each had control over one element and I thought I had come up with something great right there. Not even weeks later I discovered The Last Airbender on TV and felt like an utter fraud. Because even though I didn’t draw inspiration from the show at the time, it was all the rage and surely people would think I had “stolen” the idea from them. I didn’t even think about the fact that writers had been using that kind of magic for ages already and that some elements were bound to repeat themselves in stories.

So, what this boils down to is that I sometimes draw from existing stories, but always try to make it my own somehow. And in some rare cases, it creates something new entirely and that is just the best feeling.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

As promised I now have the Prologue for Kasia’s and Dyson’s story for you. The title is coming … soon-ish … I just really haven’t found the right one yet. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I am also very open to topic suggestions, because I would really love for this to continue to be an interactive feature! Sharing my writing is always extremely nerve-racking, so I hope you enjoy!

prologue
Kasia was breathless from hiking up the trail, nervously glancing at her watch every other second. There wasn’t much time left and she knew it. Yet she was also miserably aware that if she went any faster now, she would simply pass out and that would do no one any good. As she got closer to the top, the air felt electrically charged, making her skin tingle – a good indication that she had chosen the right place.
The forest around her was thinning, giving way to a gorgeous mountain view she had absolutely no eye for. The stars above illuminated her path as she concentrated on a blurry spot in the middle of a collection of large rocks. It looked like they were placed in specific positions, a stone circle, which even a layman would catch. With relief she threw off her backpack, freeing herself from the heavy weight that had seemed to drag her down for even longer than the duration of the hike. It took all of her remaining energy, but she started sprinting towards the peculiar place. The closer she got, the more obvious it was that something or someone was manifesting in the stone circle.
A grin spread on her face.
“Dyson!”
“Kasia.” He breathed her name as if it were life itself. There was nothing she wanted to do more than throw herself at him, shower him with kisses and drown him in hugs, but she stopped abruptly before the invisible border of the circle. She knew the rules, he couldn’t get out, just like she couldn’t get in. So instead, Kasia took in everything that had changed about Dyson, everything that had stayed exactly the same. She had always been a tall girl, but he still towered over her, his skin as sun kissed as ever. His hair had turned shaggy, his beard scruffy, but it was so like him to look unruly. She’d have recognised him that way any day. There was only one noticeable difference she couldn’t ignore.
“You’re …”
“Older?” He said with a sad smile.
“Yes … how is that possible?” Dyson was only two days older than her, but now it could have just as easily been 10 years.
“Time moves differently where I am.”
Kasia nodded as if she knew exactly what that meant. She didn’t want to lead on that everything was growing way over her head already.
“Where exactly are you?” But there was only silence in response. “Dyson? I need to know.”
“No.”
“What do you mean? ‘No’?”
“You have to stop this impossible search. You have to let go.” He extended a hand as if to comfort her, forgetting all about his invisible restraints. The moment his hand left the circle, he began to fray at the edges. Kasia tried to get a hold of him for just a second, but all she grabbed was thin air.
Defeated, she sank to the floor. “But what if I can’t?” She whispered to the sky as the first light of dawn slowly reached the mountains. Time was up. Her vision changed, her bones began to creak, her whole body fighting against too many sensations at once – the transformation had begun.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (Book Review)

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Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Page Count
: 391

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in the Raven Cycle – you can find my reviews for The Raven Boys here and The Dream Thieves here. I generally wouldn’t consider my reviews spoilery, however, I don’t advise you to read this post if you haven’t read any of the other Raven Cycle books yet.

It took me forever to read BLLB, but it was in no way the fault of the book. Just like the previous parts in the series, it takes little more than the opening chapter to suck you in completely. What I love about these books, is that they can make the supernatural elements seem like such mundane and commonplace elements in life. It makes you wonder what you might miss in real life by not paying enough attention. As before, the books keep focusing on different people of the group. I feel like Noah keeps getting ignored, even though he’s not faring all too well. I know that all of our heroes have problems of their own and as a group, but I still wish he would get more attention. I am afraid one day they will just accidentally forget all about him.

Aside from that, the relationships are as strong and intricate as ever. I shared a quote at this point in my Dream Thieves review and I feel like it is only appropriate to do so again. Blue simply has the best way of putting it:

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The bond between the raven boys, Blue but also all the other characters is special – you just feel so very connected with all of them. They are an entity and everyone matters to everyone. It’s really thing of beauty.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t talked about the plot yet again and I will stick to that rule for this series. I just don’t like people getting spoiled in any way, because I think it so much more fun to go into this completely unknowing of what might happen. However, the stakes are getting higher, no one is really safe and I am living in fear of how this will all end. My reading slump is hopefully over, but I am going to take a short break from this series, just to make sure. A light-hearted contemporary might help inbetween.

Fazit: 5/5 stars! This series is absolutely wonderful and I hope the finale can deliver as well!

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Did you read Blue Lily, Lily Blue? Is this your favourite part of the series or do you prefer another one?

Writing Insights #1: Where Do I Even Start?

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Hello there lovelies! I suppose it is time for a new feature here on Life and Other Disaster and it’s one about writing, my WIP and all the struggles that come with it. A dear friend of mine said she’d be interested in something like this (I love you Marie, you are the best! Thank you for all the support!) and just to confirm you would be on board with this, I also did a Twitter poll and your responses were the best and most welcoming! This is still a topic that makes my heart race and my stomach tie up, simply because I am always nervous to share my stories. However, I am totally getting ahead of myself. This will be a feature in several parts and today is all about:

Where Do I Even Start?

First off, I am Jon-Snowing this thing. I am in no way an authority on writing and there are people out there who are way more organised than me. Truth is, I am a messy writer. I have barely to no plan at all, I just dive into it straight ahead and here are some reasons why that can be an issue:

  • If you don’t outline your story, you will eventually get stuck in the middle of story-nowhere with no idea of how to go on. You don’t have to know all the details of the journey before starting, but you should at least know where you want to end up. I found that out the hard way.
  • Research is NOT one of my favourite past times, but it is very often necessary. If you don’t do that beforehand, you might have to stop right in the middle of a writing spree, simply because you have no idea how many years it takes to get a doctorate in archaeology or something like that. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
  • When you write without a plan, you just go with the flow. There is really no limit as to how rough a rough draft can be, but editing is hard and just floating from scene to scene won’t make it easier in the aftermath. (Also learnt this from experience …)

So, I want to do this right. I still need to do my research, although I doubt that I will do it all before I get into the writing process. However, I do want to outline a timeline, just to make my life a little easier. That won’t stop me from writing random scenes that I’ll add in later anyway. Something I always do though, and it’s something that I simply cannot live without, is figuring out my main characters. They need name, age, quirks, likes and dislikes, because otherwise it doesn’t feel real to me and it probably won’t feel real to you, the readers, either. What I really enjoy doing is casting them, but I haven’t really done so this time around, instead I made character aesthetics. I never thought it would be this difficult to find the right pictures, but at the same time it showed me that I had very specific ideas about who these people were supposed to be and what would properly represent them. To leave everything up for interpretation, I am just going to post them here without further explanation.

Kasia

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Dyson

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So, what do you think about them? Do you want to give any guesses as to what their personality could be like? There’s definitely some magic in this story, but more about that later. I have no idea how often I will post Writing Insights, but next time will include the Prologue of Kasia and Dyson’s story … which still doesn’t have a title. Is there something in particular you would like to know about my writing process? Any and all questions are very welcome!