Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Short Story v. Novel

For all of you future collegiate minds who will choose creative writing as a major, know that for a majority of your education, you will learn to write short stories. 99% of the classes are short fiction based, which is great!

I've always written short fiction. I mean, that's what I started with when I was a kid. That's what most of us start with, if we're honest. I wrote them through high school and have continued them in college, though I must say, I'm not as prolific as I used to be. It's different when you have a class grading you on turning in at least a portion of a story every week. But having to get myself inspired to write something other than Ascension is somewhat difficult.

So why am I rambling about this? Well, A) I'm working on beefing up my writing samples for my master's programs applications. B) I actually wrote a story that I'm pretty proud of recently.

So what are the differences between writing short fiction and a novel?

First off, short fiction guessed it...shorter! Which can be good and bad. Bad in that maybe you can't say all that you want to say. Good in that you don't have to answer all the questions that you would in a novel.

Short stories should also be faster paced. Some may contend this. For instance, some of the earlier short fictions published have a very leisurely pace and often ramble on about things that don't necessarily contribute to the forward movement of the story. However, some would argue (me, I would argue) that those are tales. This is not to say that novels aren't fast paced. Ascension is very fast paced. But it doesn't have to be. One of my favorite, most inspiring novels is The Night Circus which has a much slower pace but also allows you to delve further into the very intricate world.

Short stories can have a lot of detail, but they also don't have to. Sometimes leaving the readers with questions is a good thing. It means they are involved in the world. They want to know more. Just don't leave too much up to the imagination. Whereas with a novel, I've learned exactly how many things I have to think about that probably will never actually make it onto the page. For instance, I have short stories that are just memories of Cheyenne's and Lilith's and Eli's. Just to get inside their heads more. It's also fun to write.

Then there's this idea that writing a novel takes a significant more amount of dedication than it does to write a short story. That's true. It does take more dedication and time. However, that being said, that doesn't mean that writing a short story does not take dedication. It does. I honestly wish I had more determination to make my short stories better and revise them more than I do. Sometimes, I just settle. But I think some of the best stories are written several times over.

So whatever you choose to write and/or read, be proud of it and do all that you can to hone your craft!

Gonna Go Write Now,

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Father's Day

My father's day post is delayed. BUT. I haven't technically celebrated Father's Day yet seeing as how my dear dad was returning home from a ten day business trip to China. Let's just say he was not in the celebrating mood after that entirely too long flight and eating nothing but rice and candy bars for ten days because that's all he could recognize.

I actually really love celebrating my parents A) because they always treat me so well on my birthday and the other 364 days out of the year and B) because they don't really celebrate themselves. My mom has dedicated her life to our family and her own work and volunteer work. My dad works his big brain to exhaustion providing for us and kind of making a difference in the world of biofuels (please don't ask me any further questions, I don't fully understand it). So really, they deserve to be celebrated.

I've been trying to think of some of the great literary fathers to compare my dad too, but I realize that there aren't any because Tim Rials is his own kind of dad--hilarious in his weird, witty way; serious when it comes to work; protective when it comes to me and mom; maybe a little overly caring when it comes to our dog Buddy. He taught me how to blast music in the car and not open the door until the song is over. He stopped me from falling in the lake when I caught a rainbow trout that was nearly as big as I was at age 5. He let me ride up in the front seat to get those narrow little bottles of mini M&Ms from the gas station.

Now, he encourages me, sells my book to scientists who otherwise probably wouldn't pick up Ascension, teaches me how to work hard (sometimes a little too hard). From him, I know that alone time is important for personal sanity. Dogs are also key to personal sanity.

Without trying, he gains respect from the people around him. Apparently while in China, he was served Duck Blood soup. I told this to a friend, and he came back with, "Well, they don't serve duck blood soup to just anyone." Maybe it's the grey hair that makes him so distinguished, but I don't think that's it. I think it's his calm, professional manner, his easy smile, his quick jokes and sharp wit, and the humility to never acknowledge any of this.

So happy belated father's day to all the daddio's out there! I can't wait to celebrate with mine this Sunday!

Until the next holiday,

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

May Book Round Up

Yes, I'm a few days late, but I'm just going to use Book Expo as an excuse...

1. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (The Diviners Book 2)

"For dreams too, are ghosts, desires chased in sleep, gone by morning." 

    I don't believe I was doing Book Round ups when I read the first in the newest Libba Bray series, The Diviners. Based in 1920s New York following nearly 8 young characters, all with various magical abilities. I don't want to give too much away for this second one in case you haven't read the first one, but I highly recommend this series. It can get a bit muddled following all the different character lines, but it's exciting to see how all of them intersect.
    However, I think the real star of this series is the setting. I mean...I've imagined 1920s New York. Who hasn't? It seems like an exciting place and time to be alive. Libba Bray amazingly pulls readers directly into the heart of this time period. Everything from the clothing, the language, the description of the city, the historical events that Bray works into the story's absolutely spectacular. It's my favorite part of the series. Apart from Theta and Henry. Read it, and you'll figure out who they are.

2. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

     I'm trying to diversify my reading, but that's not the main reason that I picked up this classic novel. When I travel to England this summer, I'll be visiting James Herriot's home in Thirsk. Herriot's collection of books are basically retellings of his experience as a vet in the English countryside. Yes, most of the stories are about the animals he treats, but he's also an impeccable observer of people, especially the unique people of his small town.
     This does not read like a autobiography at all. Herriot recreates his young life in an entertaining way, with his witty humor and crazy stories about birthing calves and foals. Plus, my favorite part was when Herriot comforts a dying woman with the notion that her beloved dogs will follow her into Heaven. That's always been a point of contention, but now I know Mr. Herriot has my back.

3. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

   A debut novel by a promising writer. Based in 1800s London, this story follows Audrey Rose, an unusual girl for her time who's trying to keep her broken family together after her mother's tragic death while also sneaking around to be her uncle's assistant as a medical examiner. However, when a serial killer begins viciously murdering low-class women and harvesting their organs, life becomes even more complicated for Audrey Rose and her messed up family.
     This was not my favorite book. I enjoyed the interesting story line and the strong female character of Audrey Rose. However, much of the novel was a bit melodramatic and the romantic interest seemed just a bit forced.

I'm currently reading The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr while also listening to The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Until Next Time,

Monday, June 5, 2017

Most Surreal Moment of My Life

I promised a blog post about about my surreal experience with Stephen Chbosky (author, screenwriter, and director of Perks of Being a Wallflower) and RJ Palacio (author of Wonder), so here we go. Strap in.

After a wonderful, long last day of Book Expo, my friend Dave Connis (Temptation of Adam drops in November), my mom, and I were sitting in the Starbucks area, just relaxing when Dave looks up and says, "Hannah, that's Stephen Chbosky and RJ Palacio." I look to my right, and there they are. Two of the most amazing middle and YA authors of our time. But Stephen isn't just an author. He's also a screenwriter and director. Maybe you've heard of a little movie called Beauty and the Beast? Yeah, he directed that.
Both of us are sitting there, obviously fangirling and obsessing over whether we should go talk to them. Stephen was on a phone call that did not sound pleasant, and we didn't want to be associated with a negative phone call. So we waited until he walked away and went up to RJ, who is much less intimidating but amazingly kind! We start throwing praises on her because as you all know (and if you don't, you should) how wonderfully amazing Wonder is. We start talking to her about our books just as Stephen comes back up and joins the conversation.
The rest is kind of a blur... Stephen offered us his four point advice to young writers, which I both wrote down and recorded. He signed my napkin with the advice and wrote "You are infinite!" Perks fans will get the reference.
BUT THEN he asked Dave and I to sign our business cards, and since my book is published, asked me to bring him a signed copy the next day. He asked me...for my book... Just let that sink in. It still hasn't sunk in for me...
All four of us took a picture together, then Stephen asked Dave and me if we were friends and handed us money. "Here, drinks are on me." Me, being the weird person that I am and knowing that some people don't like hugs, asked, "Can I give you a hug?" as my chest continued to get redder and redder.  Then RJ and Stephen went to a publishing dinner.
Dave and I just sat down, looked at each other, then at my mom, and said, "What just happened?" BEA was wonderful, but that was by far the highlight of my entire summer thus far. I mean...WHAT?
**PS I got my book to Stephen. Both he and RJ remembered me. It was amazing. I got another hug.**

All this has a moral to it. Both days of BEA, Dave let me follow him around and meet some amazing people because David Arnold did that for him. Stephen listened to us because he cares about aspiring young authors and wants us to succeed. They're paying it forward. And one day, when I'm in their positions, I plan on paying it forward to a young, emerging author--introducing them to the amazing people I plan on befriending and buying them dinner in New York City, or wherever I come across them.
A message to all the writers out there--these authors that you hold on pedestals, they were you once. They want you to write and succeed. So keep writing, keep pushing, and one day, pay it forward.

Mind Blown,