Making the Impossible Possible: Creating the Rules of Magical and Futuristic Worlds

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This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle. I attended last year and had so much fun, but this year I was pleasantly surprised to see many panels for writers (comic/graphic novel panels, and fantasy/sci-fi panels) as well as a big turnout for literary guests. I was lucky enough to meet Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicles), Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns series, Anna Dressed in Blood series), and Marko Kloos (Frontlines series) and get them to autograph their books for me. But while there, I attended the Making the Impossible Possible panel which focused on writing and worldbuilding for authors of fantasy and sci-fi.

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The following authors participated in the panel and gave great advice to aspiring fantasy and sci-fi authors: Charlie N. Holmberg (The Paper Magician series), Emily R. King (The Hundredth Queen series), Marko Kloos (Frontlines series), J.D. Horn (Witching Savannah series), and Jeff Wheeler (Legends of Muirwood series).

The format of the panel was the moderator, editor Jason Kirk, posed a total of six questions to the panel of authors. Keep reading to find out what was asked of these fantasy and sci-fi writers as well as to see what their responses were. I found their responses to offer great advice and writing techniques to better improve my own fantasy and sci-fi writing.

Question 1

Each author in this panel writes their own rules to govern the worlds they create. How does this work when the same rules don’t apply, even though you may be writing within a similar genre?

  • “You need to choose your main character as a one in a million type of person. You need to write your characters as the person who brings the magic to the world and not necessarily have been the chosen one.”
  • The general discussion around this question discussed how it’s important to have governing rules within your world, but to not let them overshadow your characters. Let your characters shine through in the world they surround themselves in.

Question 2

In Fantasy or Sci-fi we often find that the main character always tends to be exceptional. So, if no one is exceptional is there no story?

  • “In Sci-fi, you play within the confines of that structured society. Nobody is different from each other since they all have the same governing laws of physics and biology applying to them. So, the characters in this genre work within their existing system to prove their abilities or skills.”
  • The authors on the panel discussed how it would be even more interested to see more work of fiction in fantasy and sci-fi who fall out of the “exceptional” phase and are characters that work harder to prove themselves versus having everything be naturally gifted to them. It even makes the character more relatable to the reader, no more what fantastic setting the character may be placed in.

Question 3

Every author has their own writing process. Do you start with world-building or do you start with the character or the plot or themes?

  • “Start with the character, then the world becomes a crucible for them.”
  • “Your characters act depending on what the world is and the action or reaction they do becomes the plot.”
  • “Look for the tension, the drama. Ask yourself, why do we follow these characters? Why tell this story in the first place? First find the drama that the character will face.”
  • “If the world is complex enough, all these conflicts come up naturally and then the character, character’s motivation, etc. will follow.”

Question 4

Does your world need to be completely believable to make it work?

  • “As long as you don’t break the suspension of disbelief.”
  • “I can excuse sloppy physics [in Sci-fi] if the story, the plot, and the characters are absolutely believable.”
  • “It doesn’t have to be so much as believable as it has to be intoxicating enough to completely pull you in.”
  • “Don’t overdo the details to try to make it as ‘realistic’ and ‘believable’ as possible. Too much in the details can cause a big learning curve for your reader and can prevent them staying with your story.”
  • “Build the world and characters quickly so you hook the reader in. The strength of your story are your characters who provide the real emotions, real reactions the reader can connect to despite them being in an impossible world.”

Question 5

How do you solve your mistakes?

  • “Take a slice of humble pie from your critique partners.”
  • “Incomplete or sloppy world-building will lead to mistakes. If you ask, what does my character do now? Then you didn’t do enough world-building to throw enough cool things at your characters.”
  • The panel then gave examples from their own work where edits and proofreading provided great feedback for their novels in which they had to go back and rewrite certain parts to make the story turn out better.

Question 6

What tip do you have for aspiring writers?

  • “Think outside the box. It’s all about originality. Do something that’s less expected.”
  • “Don’t try to chase trends. Don’t write to market it. If the book is good, it’ll have its own market.”
  • “Just tell your story. Keep going.”
  • “The world around you can create something different. You don’t have to create something new, you just need to write it in a new way.”
  • “Read what you like to write. It keeps you immersed in your world. Steal little pieces of what you like and make them into your own.”

The panel was then opened to take questions from the audience. Here are a few of the questions that I found to have really good advice in their answers.

  • How do you build a society in your stories? This was answered in 4 parts.
  1. “Ask yourself, what type of government do you want? The kind of government you create governs the rules and freedoms your characters are subject to.”
  2. “What weird customs or traditions do your characters partake in? Create a history for each tradition.”
  3. “Everything is a result of what has come before. Make sure your society has a history.”
  4. “Do real research of Earth’s own history, then tweak it and make it your own for your story.”
  • How do you organize everything when you are working on a current novel?
  1. “You need a story Bible! It’s just 1 document where everything is stored and you can do a quick search.”
  2. “Use Scrivener. This allows you to keep you draft, research, notes, and edits all in one document.”
  • How do you write mundane tasks to make them see fantastic?

“Write characters’ reactions to that task. Like in Harry Potter, Harry thinks the dishes washing themselves in the Weasley’s house is magical and fantastic, but Ron just thinks it’s completely normal.”

This was such an amazing panel to sit on and I hope you found their advice to be inspiring and helpful to your own work. Below you can find the Goodreads page for each author named here so you can check out their work and get hooked onto some fun new series.

Kendare Blake

Charlie N. Holmberg

J.D. Horn

Emily R. King

Marko Kloos

Patrick Rothfuss

Jeff Wheeler

What the Valley Knows Book Review

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Everyone knows the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I hardly live by that rule. We’re all guilty of it. We see that beautiful book cover and maybe, probably, just buy it based on its aesthetic and not the actual content of it. And of course, we are guilty of doing this, the marketing team in publishing houses are banking on you to do this. But, another thing I judge a book on is its book jacket summary. This is the hook, the promise the author offers the reader. And to be honest, this book’s pitch didn’t entice me at first, which is seen below.

“When smart and pretty Molly Hanover moves to town and attracts the attention of the football team’s hero, Wade Thornton – a nice guy with a bad drinking habit – longtime friendships are threatened, and a popular cheerleader tries to turn the school against Molly.

“The young couple’s future is shattered when Wade, drunk, wrecks his truck and Molly is thrown through the windshield. She wakes from a coma to find her beauty marred and her memory full of holes. As she struggles to heal, she becomes sure that something terrible happened before the accident. And there is somebody in the valley who doesn’t want her to remember.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that plotline, but since I’ve lived in small towns and understand the dynamics of a community like that, I wasn’t too eager to revisit that. But as I do with all books, I read the first page to give it another chance and see if I like the voice and/or writing style. And man, oh man, is that first page one of the most gripping things I’ve ever read. It starts right in the middle of all the action, which in this case is the accident.

And as I kept reading, the overall pace felt natural and the plot kept moving in an interesting direction towards that dark secret mentioned in the summary. Heather Christie’s writing style was what kept me captivated the entire time – it’s elegant enough to feel like I’m reading adult fiction, yet it connects on a deep level to the actual mindset of a teenager. She also does a wonderful job of handling the superficial aspects of high school problems such as beauty and popularity while simultaneously diving into the underlying theme of healing in the form of substance abuse recovery, healing from a car accident, and healing from ‘something terrible [that] happened before the accident.”

I wish the later form of healing was more drawn out in the novel, but instead it was curtailed in favor of Molly and Wade’s relationship. This wasn’t necessarily a bad move, however, it left me wanting more about Molly’s recovery from that specific incident. I’m not mentioning this incident because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. In general, I think giving away spoilers are such a no-no because someone worked very hard to make sure it gives the element of surprise, and nothing’s worse when that surprise has already been ruined before the reader got a chance to read the book.

Overall, this book was way more in depth than what I had initially expected it to be. I’m so glad that first page hooked me in and I gave it a second chance because it has become one of my favorite YA reads this year.

What Every YA Author Needs to Read

These past few weeks has been quite a whirlwind since coming home from the Writer’s Digest Conference. I had the opportunity to meet and go out to a yummy dinner of meatballs (vegan meatballs, of course) with the author/speaker Gabriela Pereira. Gabriela has her own novel called DIY MFA, which really shines a light on the craft of writing as well as the business of being an author. So, it was a nice surprise to see that Gabriela had sent out her DIY MFA newsletter to us attendees that discussed an important, yet often overlooked, issue about being a writer. In this newsletter, she answers her question of the week, which is, “How many new release books should a writer read in their genre?”

I was so inspired by her answer that I thought I’d make a post of my own that combines her response, which is a simple outline that anybody can follow, with mine, which details the specific books to be on the lookout for in the YA contemporary genre. But to answer the original question, the answer is going to be different for everyone since each person has their own pacing. So, to best answer this question, Gabriela ignores the quantity you should aim for but rather focuses on the quality and types of books you should be reading. This consists of two lists – an essential list and then a customized list.

On the essential list, you need to cover your ABC’s.

A is for Anthology of Short Form Literature.

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I recommend the Norton’s Anthology of Children’s Literature for both YA and MG authors. This is a great way to get short bursts of inspiration in children’s books, middle grade and YA. I love the section that focuses on fairytale retellings in YA. It’s so fascinating and wonderfully detailed.

B is for Book of Prompts

I have yet to purchase a book of prompts, but Gabriela has great recommendations including the Now Write! series edited by Sherry Ellis. This series has specific genre-related books to help YA/MG authors too.

C is for Craft Reference

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A reference book will help you when you have questions about character development, or setting, or plot. For YA, I recommend Cheryl B. Klein’s The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults.

Now, for the customized list. This relates to what you want to write. You’ll have to follow Gabriella’s Four C’s to build up this list.

1. Competitive (Comp) Titles: These books are books that compare to your own work. It helps to know what books are already on the market that are similar to yours, since it’s useful to use comps in pitches/query letters to agents. It shows that you know the YA genre and how your book fits into it. So, for my comp title I use David Arnold’s Kids of Appetite meets Little Miss Sunshine. You only need 1-2 comps, so that’s the good thing. Just keep an eye on new books (no more than 2-3 years old) and see which book is most similar to yours.

YAReadingList42. Contextual Books: These books put your novel into context, including references and research materials. This is really important to have in mind if you are writing YA Historical Fiction, which is a booming sub-genre within YA. I currently  have these research books, for an idea I have for a MG I want to write.

3. Contemporary (Recent) Books: This reiterates the same idea with comps where you want to try to read a couple new releases in YA each year. For this though, I would try to aim for the last 18 months. That way you know who’s new in your genre as well as stay on top of trends. I really enjoyed the great depiction of mental illness and the process of recovery as a recent theme in YA in such books like Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella and The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati. But I also love the diversity and portrayal of immigrants in books like The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.

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4. Classics: These aren’t just “old” books, but rather leading books that helped create and/or shape the YA genre. For me, I believe J.D. Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye to be the first YA novel and I recommend it to those trying to master the art of tone and voice.

So, I hope I was able to narrow down Gabriella’s advice to the YA genre. I love this community of YA authors and I can’t wait to see it grow and develop as a genre. And more importantly, I can’t wait to see my writing evolve within this genre as well.

Back To School Reading List

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School is back in session. Here in Olympia, school starts on September 6th and with that, this time of year makes me long for good books with school themes. Maybe because I was a student for so long. Or, maybe, because as a teenager, school was a sanctuary from my home life. Either way, I love how schools in YA/children’s books seem mystical, as if it is its own character in the book. Hello, Hogwarts anybody? I mean, the room of requirement proves how alive and sentient the school is as a character. So, here is a list of my favorite books that make back to school sound like an awesome adventure awaiting you.

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Most people hope to have an owl bring them their official Hogwarts letter inviting them to study witchcraft and wizardry. But, I had always wished to stumble upon the mirror of Erised. I was so fascinated by that as a child and I still hope to come across it someday.

2. Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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An American boarding school in the city of Paris – check. A vicarious experience of living in dorms – check. French culture and French food – check. A cute, promising romance – check. Say no more, I’m in.

3. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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In a world plagued by magically awesome heroes and world-building details seen in the likes of Fantasy and Sci-Fi, this novel focuses on characters that are usually seen in the background in these types of stories. You know, the ordinary kids – the non-heroes, who try to live ordinary teenager lives with ordinary teenage problems in a world where the biggest challenge of all is trying to attend prom when the school keeps getting blown up – again.

4. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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This book does a great job at detailing what it feels like to be an outcast or misfit in your school, whether that’s because you are poor or it’s because you are a shy introvert. This story about first love perfectly showcases the dynamics of how teenagers’ homes impact their school life as well their relationships with friends and boy/girlfriends.

5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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The story of Junior has such a special place in my heart since it parallels to my Native American grandfather’s up bringing about an Indian basketball player leaving the reservation to play for the all-white farm town high school. With a great narrative, fresh humor, and awesome cartoons, this book is bound to find a special place in your heart too.

 

5 Things I Learned at Writer’s Digest Conference 2017

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  1. Stick To Your Story

It’s easy to get caught up in your writing and naturally drift away from the heart of your story as you start to navigate the world you are building. But, is everything you’ve written related to your story, at the heart of what you are trying to write? Or, are you just writing it and keeping it in your story because you’ve written it, regardless if it fits the story or not. I guess, as Hemingway says, this is the part where you must kill your darlings – delete anything that’s excessive or unnecessary to your story, which is probably the hardest thing to do but is also the most important thing you can do for your writing. But sticking to the story not only applies to your short story or your novel but also relates to your query letter. Don’t go on and on about your book, your experience, your credentials, etc. Stick to the story by only giving the agent/editor the first act of your novel. Give them enough to know what your book is about but leave them wanting for more. It’s not easy to make a perfect pitch, but aim for 50-100 words, because as I learned from agent Janet Reid, the whole query letter should be less than 250 words. So, stick to the story.

  1. Raise the Stakes

This was something new I learned at the conference about how to keep the story going and alive throughout your novel. Always put in conflict, especially at the beginning. If your beginning doesn’t have a type of conflict (emotional/physical/spiritual) then that’s not your beginning. Keep writing until you get to that point of conflict/crisis where your character must make a choice/ a decision about what they are dealing with – that’s your beginning. To make your story feel like a page-turner, throw in conflict every 20-40 pages to either add more conflict to your character’s journey or to raise the stakes for their current dilemma. As Laura DiSilverio said, work with the “what could be worse?” mindset. You must be willing to make your character’s lives miserable. To increase conflict in your novel, make sure to define your protagonist’s goals/needs in each scene, provide opposition to these goals, give the illusion of progress, surprise with setbacks, and when that’s all done then think “what could be worse?” You’ll be surprised with what you may come up with.

  1. Revise in Layers

This seminar by Gabriela Pereira has forever changed my outlook on the revision process. I felt like I have been editing my novel/work wrong my whole life, until now that is, which is why I’m sharing this process with you because I’m sure it’ll change the way you think about revisions and edits too. Instead of going through your manuscript one page at a time and tinkering with little changes, you need to revise your manuscript multiple times but each time only focusing on one thing. First, focus only on narration: can you distinguish between the narrator and characters? (The answer is yes; you should, even for 1st person) Is your voice consistent or does it change from scene to scene /chapter-to-chapter? Next, focus on just the characters: is it clear what protagonist wants/needs? Is your protagonist making choices, or do they seem more reactive than proactive? Then, focus just on the story: do you know where your characters are heading? Is that clear? Does your story rush up at the end in a giant rush with little room for closure? Next, focus only on the scenes: do they all relate to support the overall theme? Does the story feel real? Is there too much description? Is dialogue flat or does it ring true? And for the last layer of revision, focus only on the details: can I express concept/scene in a better way? Did I use right word/sentence structure? Are there typos/errors? It’s a lot to look over, but I feel that after doing this process of revision, your story will be as thorough as you want it and as clearly written as it is seen in your head.

  1. Never Give Up

One thing all our keynote speakers emphasized was to keep going with our writing and to keep being persistent in publishing our books. One of my new favorite writing quotes came from Pulitzer Prize winner, Richard Russo when describing how to keep writing when you feel like giving up: “Every time you think the tank is empty, (you’ll find) the writing was putting more gas in the tank.”

  1. Make Friends/ Contacts

The orientation at WDC17 encouraged us to go from introverted writers to extroverted social net-workers. And, in doing so, I feel that I have made great contacts with wonderful writers who get the difficulties of the writing process and truly understand the writing journey of taking ideas and voices in your head and creating worlds out of them onto paper. So, I’ve learned it’s really important to be engaging with fellow writers and hopefully you can be each other’s critique partners and/or beta readers in the future.

Vegan Eats Right at Your Door

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With every post to this blog, I take you all over the world to a new city where I show you the delicious vegan food available as well as a few sights. Hopefully, after seeing how easy it is to eat vegan while travelling, you are willing to try some of the vegan dishes I’ve shared with you. If you are willing to give a shot at a vegan diet, then I have something that might help you with this dietary transition to plant-based foods. What if I tell you that you can eat vegan all from the comfort of your home? This week, I am going to share with you three ways in which eating vegan can be super easy and readily accessible to you.

I will break down my recommendations into three different types of service; the first one is a home delivery service with pre-made vegan meals; the second is a meal delivery service that provides you all the ingredients to cook a vegan meal; and, the last option is an online grocery store to help you find and purchase vegan options such as meat and cheese substitutes. So, if you find it is difficult to find vegan meals at your local restaurants or difficult to find vegan options for sale in your local grocery store, then click here to keep reading to discover how to get delicious vegan eats delivered right to your door.

If you missed my last Vegan Eats post click below to catch up 🙂

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Affordable & Chic Back to School Supplies

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At the end of every August I feel the start of the new school year. Maybe it’s because I was a student for so long. But August, the start of a new school year, feels like the beginning of a new year. Forget January – August is my new year, my time of the year where I need a little reboot.

And with this reset, this new start, I like to find good deals on some very-much-needed supplies. I used to get back to school supplies as a student, but now I buy supplies at this time of year to restock my personal office.

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My favorite place to go for both stylish and affordable school supplies is the Dollar Store. I got these adorable holographic writing notebooks, these planning journals with beautiful, chic designs and inspirational quotes on them, as well as packs of pens and pencils. At only $1 for each notebook and each pack, it’s a great deal! Plus, there are a ton of designs and styles if these don’t quite fit your personal taste.

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And my biggest steal was this iMac computer. I bought this computer for only $50 using he app OfferUp. It’s an older Mac desktop, sure. But I wanted a desktop for my office work without having to pay hundreds of dollars for it. So, I thought about looking for a gently used one that’s been refurbished and/or updated. So, when picking out this computer, I checked if he specs were listed as well (see end of post for a checklist of what to look for in a listing) because I wanted to deal with someone whose familiar with the technology and I wanted to make sure that this older computer was updated to the newer systems. All an older computer needs are updated specs and it’ll run just fine.

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My seller, Tom, was an amazing gentleman who let me try it out (running online searches, opening documents, etc.) before buying it. All I did was simply ask if I could try it and out he more than gladly complied. Another plus about this purchase was that the mouse and keyboard were also included in the sale. When I took it home, all I had to do was buff out previous scruffs left behind from stickers and voila this computer was like brand new.

Turned out, this computer belonged to Tom’s granddaughter and he wanted to sell it at bottom line just to get rid of it. And like I had guess from his listing, Tom was a tech guy. He had been in tech before retiring and now he buys faulty computers for cheap prices, refurbishes them, and sells them at low prices. No hidden gimmicks or anything, just a retiree with a hobby/side-job.

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So, not only did I get a great deal for a nice desktop, I got to meet the guy who made/re-made it. How cool is that? And he’s not the only one doing this. You can easily look on OfferUp and see if anyone near you does this as well. Buying used electronics is such a good, positive step forward environmentally. Electronics don’t always get recycle and can end up in landfills. So, when you can, try using an older, working electronic. Like momma always told me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or, in this case, “If it is broken, just fix it up.”

If you don’t feel comfortable testing electronics like I did, then try meeting in a public place (like Starbucks) and bring along someone you know who is tech savvy (I brought my husband).

Here is a checklist to help you feel more confident about buying a used computer.

Some things to look for and to ask when buying used computers

  • Does it have integrated WIFI or does it need an Ethernet cord?
  • What is its Operating System (OS)?
  • Does it have/include programs you need, like Word, Excel, etc.?
  • Does it include accessories (keyboard/mouse)?
  • Was the computer reset to manufacturer’s settings?

So, make sure to be smart this school year and find great deals and steals to help kick start a brand new school (or work) year for you.

Top 5 Comic Book Series/Graphic Novels

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With Comic Con in San Diego less than a month away, I am excited for all things nerdy – cosplay outfits, superhero movie panels, and, of course, comics! I am lucky enough to be attending Comic Con San Diego this year, so stay tuned to keep posted. I will have many posts coming soon about making cosplay outfits and accessories, comic book lists and recommended reads, as well as reviews of the panels that I plan on attending. But, until the end of July rolls around, I’ll probably be focused on making cosplay costumes (can you guess who I’m going as?) and reading as many comics and graphic novels I can get my hands on. So, in the spirit of Comic Con, I thought I’d make you a list of my top five favorite reads for whether you’re new to comics or you are the comic-obsessed veteran. I know comics can sometimes be pricey, so if you can’t afford them then I suggest checking out your local library because they have many comics/graphic novels in circulation. So, I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I did.

watchmenWatchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

There’s a really good reason why this is the only graphic novel to make Time Magazine’s “100 Best Novels” list. It’s simply genius with the double story-line and the amazing world building developed not only through the plot, but through the end-of-chapter-segments ranging from newspaper clippings to adverts. It’s so immersive, I bet you won’t be able to put it down once you pick it up.

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Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

This on-going series is an epic space opera fantasy (have I caught your attention, yet?) depicts a husband and wife, Alana and Marko, from long-warring extraterrestrial races, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their daughter, Hazel, who is born in the beginning of the series and who occasionally narrates the series as an unseen adult. It’s refreshingly humorous and seriously addictive.

lazarusLazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark

This dystopian science fiction comic book series depicts the world divided among sixteen rival families who run their territories in a feudal system. The main character is Forever Carlyle, who is the military leader for the Carlyle family. With the themes of family and loyalty ever present, this story’s amazing world building is similar to Watchmen’s. Also, it’s currently in the works to be adapted for television. So, make sure to read it before it becomes one of the coolest and most badass show on TV.

the wicked and the divineThe Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

This series is a contemporary fantasy comic book that is largely influenced by pop music and various mythological deities. Imagine gods as rock stars. The narrative follows a young teenage girl, Laura, as she interacts with the Pantheon, a group of twelve people who discover that they are reincarnated deities. This discovery grants them fame and supernatural powers, with the stipulation that they will die within two years – part of a ninety-year cycle known as the Recurrence. This series will make you laugh out loud as well selecting your favorite god to root for.

DescenderDescender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

This series follows a young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. In this cosmic odyssey, is pitted humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera. Plus, the unique illustrations and coloring (resembling watercolor) give a fresh appeal to the story.

 

Book Review: Draw the Line

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After attending the gay pride parade in my town (Olympia, WA), I can say that I am newly reinvigorated with such optimism, hope, and love, that can only come from the LGBTQ community. And in honor of this beautiful spirit, I wanted to review one of my favorite YA books whose main protagonist is a gay, seventeen-year-old artist living in Texas. That book is none other than Laurent Linn’s Draw the Line.

I feel like this book is very underrated and under the radar since I hadn’t heard of it before I found it on the shelves of my library. But, do not overlook this novel. It truly is a hidden gem in the YA genre.

The main character, Adrian, makes such an adorkably cute narrator. With all his nerdy references, Adrian navigates high school by being the class introvert and a talented artist. He stays in the background, until he witnesses a hate crime that pushes him forward, to the point where he cannot remain invisible anymore and he has to step forward and do something about it. Linn wonderfully details high school life with descriptions that are so relatable that almost anyone can see themselves as Adrian. Such as:

“To a gray T-shirt, I added faded jeans, cheap old sneakers, and a gray hoodie … my almost perfect cloak of high school invisibility” (5).

Or, here’s an example of the classic teenage insecurity and doubt that I’m sure all of us have experienced at one time or another:

“Hey, yeah, it kinda works. Oh, god, no it doesn’t” (3).

If you can’t quite relate to the introvert, fly-on-the-wall aspect of Adrian’s personality, then you can easily enjoy the nerdy pop-cultture references. Such as:

“Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope. Oh, yes, I pray to Obi-wan” (8).

And, as if you need another reason to pick up this book, Mr. Linn illustrated all the comic panels that Adrian draws in the novel. How awesome is that? Not only can Linn write such an amazing and honest voice that details the high school experience, he can even draw amazing comics!

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Here are some of the comic panels from the novel. Adrian draws upon his life to create his superhero alter ego, Graphite. The comic panels work wonderfully in illustrating Adrian’s thought process after certain events take place. These reflections add so much depth and understanding to the story’s plot. It also helps the reader process the events that take place, so much so that I wouldn’t want to read this novel without them.

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As you can see, I have mad-love for this book. And I think you will enjoy it just as much. So, make sure to check out this book, which dives into the theme of accepting the LGBTQ community in a funny, charismatic way.

Writing in NYC

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If you are like me (writing notes on any scrap of paper to later type up into your novel), then I recommend taking your writing to the next level by going to a writer’s conference. There are several taking place all of the country this summer. These might seem a little pricey, but if you have a complete manuscript ready to be viewed then these conferences are the perfect place to pitch your novel to agents. Plus, all the workshops and seminars you’ll take part in is worth the price of admission alone. At the end of August, I’ll be at The Writer’s Digest annual writer’s conference in New York and I can’t wait to hopefully make some new connections as well as pitch my novel to agents. Wish me luck and fingers crossed 🙂