31 March 2011

If I had an ereader . . .

 . . . I would want an iPad. For these reasons:

--> I really have no idea how often I would use a Kindle or a Nook. I'm a girl that visits the library whenever she's out of things to read, and I don't know of any ebook library system. Someone should get on that.

--> Likewise, if I find myself not reading ebooks on my ereader, the iPad has a plethora of other applications to promote its use. The most prominent for me are casual games (like Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds). There's also Internet access, music, movies, and a notepad feature for writing.

--> iPads make excellent computer substitutes for travel. That means I wouldn't have to lug my giant laptop around in a backpack. Or remove any personal computers through airport security. Or worry about snapping a harddrive in half. Not like the latter is going to happen, but it was a worry of mine when I was in Europe. A prominent worry.

I've heard arguments that the iPad isn't good for reading in the sunlight. My friend has an iPad and she says that she simply turns down the screen brightness and doesn't have a problem anymore. That's good enough for me as a solution. And really, I don't know how often I'll be reading outside anyway. Whenever I'm outside, I'm doing something, either in transit between two locations or with friends. Or writing in a notebook. Or watching the wind surfers on the lake (there is usually ice cream involved with this one).

Also, I love me some Plants vs. Zombies.

My parents recently asked if I wanted a Nook, and I told them the truth --- that I don't know how often I would use it therefore I don't know if it will be worth the purchase. I told them that if they were planning on buying one for me that they should hold off because of this. For all I know, it could just sit around and collect dust, or I could love it to death. But the fact that this is an unknown makes me hesitant in getting one.

If there was some sort of system that could rent out ebooks for a month, I would try it out. I'm not opposed to ereaders, I'm just not sure how I would use them in my daily life.

I should propose my iPad idea to them. Doubt they'd buy into it, but at least now I have a goal if I acquire any excess money. Or I can ask for it for a birthday present. Or a Christmas present. Or even better, a graduation present!

So tell me world, what is your ereader opinion?

28 March 2011

In Remembrance

I'd like to take this moment to remember Diana Wynne Jones. Neil Gaiman has a nice post about her on his blog. Any other remembrance links I'm sure you've already read or can find on your own, but I felt Mr. Gaiman's was particularly nice.

Ms. Jones' books were witty and made me smile and wish I could write like her. You will be missed.

27 March 2011

Publications Committee Chicago Trip

A longer than usual post about a longer than usual weekend. Please bear with me. You might learn something.

I'm a member of the Publications Committee through my school's union. The committee itself hosts several on-campus publications including a literary journal, a collection of undergraduate students from abroad, my own Flash Fiction blog, and we're soon to launch an online fashion magazine for students. This past weekend, a bunch of us from various journals traveled down to Chicago to meet with professionals in the publishing industry to tell us about their craft and how they got to where they were. Here is what I learned personally on this trip. I'll conclude with my own thoughts on what this means to the blog.

Museum of Science and Industry

Is perhaps one of the funnest museums I've visited in my life. It's engaging, it's child oriented, the exhibits are interactive, there's a fricken ice cream shop somewhere inside, and the new Storm Science exhibit is awesome to walk through. We were able to get free tickets and made time to spend a few hours exploring.

Believe it or not, they need a publication team to help with internal communication and public relations. They write and produce brochures for tourists in hotels, packets for visitors, and announcements for the staff. This even extends online with the official MSI website, their Facebook page, and their Twitter page. The official site features experiments and activities to do in your own home, which is a nice way to take the museum away from Chicago. Updates on Facebook and Twitter are done by one man, who developed a certain fun-loving voice for the museum, and often updates on science-related news and reminders instead of focusing specifically on the museum itself. They even mentioned Pi Day!

They also talked about defining an audience and catering to them as opposed to just updating for the sake of updating. Their top audiences are Moms with Children and Tourists. So quite a few of their advertisements will be geared towards that audience. Knowing your audience is important because no one will read you if you don't cater to anyone.

As a blogger who doesn't regularly check her blog stats, I can honestly say that I'm not certain who reads this.I've just been blogging about things I thought were interesting because they caught my attention. But because this is a personal blog, I don't see this changing anytime soon. If you like me, then stick around, I'll be happy to have you! In terms of the Publications Committee, it means we probably might want to start catering to our audience --- the students. This is something we'll discuss in meetings and such.

Time Out Chicago

Time Out Chicago is a city-wide magazine meant to cater to residents of Chicago, so they're not going to feature things their competition are featuring. Oh no. These guys take the time to bring the quiet budding artist to the forefront. Know a Chicago-based band playing at a small bar in the middle of downtown? They're covering the show. Small-name artist having a gallery showing in a random apartment? They're already on top of it. TMC is released on a weekly basis and covers everything from food to fun.

This meeting was more personal in that all nine of us and ten people from the magazine were crammed into a conference room. We first went around the room to introduce ourselves stating the basics, majors and where we want to go, and they stated majors and how they got to TMC. It's amazing how many of them were English majors and how many of them merely fell into the journalism/reporting business. And that's how I learned that English majors do some of the best work in the business. (Go English Majors!)

They also talked about the importance of networking and getting to know people. They get thousands of applications within week, so they just keep all those resumes in a database and whenever they need someone they'll search that database for certain buzzwords. But before they do that, they're going to remember the interns that worked with them before and keep in contact. Doing that saves time for interviews and they are also more confidant in their selections because they know exactly what this person can handle. Also, less money training them. Networking is also nifty when out in the field. If you know people who know people, then you can stay on top of everything going on in the city. And that's what their business if built out of.

These guys recently saw a 20% increase in sales when other magazines dropped. They also have the best subscriber loyalty, based on the sheet they gave us with their information packet. At the moment, they're running a very successful business. And they maintain that by loving Chicago and everything it has to offer.

For me, this means blogging about current events in the publishing industry. I'll start posting my opinions (or links to what others have to say) on the latest scandals (YA Mafia, anyone?). And with all the craze about ereaders and self-publishing, you'll get my opinion soon enough. This leads me to the next person we met with.

Abraham Ritchie of ArtSlant.com

Mr. Ritchie blogs about contemporary art in Chicago. He started in Madison and worked his way around the world before settling in Chicago. He works under a woman whose website is based in Paris, and he manages a small staff of writers who also blog about contemporary art in Chicago.

Ritchie got this job because he was writing about art since college. He majored in Art History, but he enjoyed writing papers on art best. I think he started a blog somewhere, and that has helped him forward into this world of blogging. But he didn't always want to blog. Ritchie started his career attempting to get into curating, but that didn't work out so well. I asked where he saw himself in five years, and he said he didn't really know but he'd like to reform the art section of one of the Chicago newspapers. According to him, it's atrocious and really needs to improve.

Your blog can help propel you into your career. This was touched upon in TMC, but Ritchie is a prime example of that. If you apply for a position and don't really have professional writing samples, you can always pull from your blog. It's readily available information and it shows that you're passionate enough about the material to do what you like in your free time. This hits the mark on my own personal motto, which deals with doing what you like to do and not what you think you should do (a concept my old roommate struggled with last year).

And herein lies what I think will happen to the future of this blog.


We can all agree that posts thus far are few and far between. And their content isn't necessarily consistent, right? I'm not specifically a blog about the writing craft, or the fiction publishing world, or anything of importance. At the moment, I intend to focus in on a few specific things. They are:

- Film criticisms based on my own opinions and whatever is taught about in my latest film class
- literary criticisms of recently read books of mine (skills taken from literature courses and applied to contemporary fiction)
- continued posts of 100 Things to Write
- other random flash fiction I might decide to share with y'all
- current events in the publishing world
- my own writing process and my writing life

I maintain that I will not fix myself to a specific schedule. Goodness, I'm still in school and schedules bore the life out of me. Besides, it's not like I'm going to force some amazing criticisms from my brain on a regularly basis. Like creative thinking, critical thinking mustn't be forced. It must be coerced, and that always takes a few extra days beyond the deadline.

Regardless, this was a very productive trip and well worth going. If you ever get a chance to speak with someone within the publishing industry, of any sort, they'll be more than happy to answer your questions about building a following, getting from point A to point B, and really it's just nice to chat. And it doesn't matter if they don't have anything to do with creative writing (see MSI and Abraham Ritchie above), you can still learn from them.

This trip was mostly arranged by students with some help from the College of Letters and Science Career Services.

24 March 2011

100 Things to Write - Love

Once upon a time, there lived two trees at the edge of a forest. One was a boy tree, the other a girl tree. Whether they are both furs, or one maple and one ash, or both birches does not matter; these are small details compared to the only thing that does matter.
They were in love.
This is the kind of love that comes from conversation and a compatible sense of humor. Ever since they were young saplings, they joked and talked. As they grew, they hoped their braches would eventually grow into each other, and they could finally touch.

So the years passed, and they continued to reach.
Eventually, when the wind was strong enough, the ends of their branches would just skim the other. But this was only when the wind was very strong, and that was not very often. Sadly, they came accept the fact that their branches will never entwine.
Then one day, the forest caught on fire.
The details of how the fire started are irrelevant. Perhaps a camper lost track of the campfire. Or a strike of lightning was angry at the forest. Either way, the fire drove shivers up the star-crossed trees. They watched the smoke loom ever closer. And then they could see it, close enough to touch.

Then they were on fire.
This was a bittersweet moment for the trees. They were burning, but they could touch each other through the smoke they created. Not only that, but their smoke mixed with each other, and they could entwine their plumes like they wished they could entwine their branches.
So it was that the trees were truly happy in their final moments of life.

21 March 2011

100 Things to Write - Introduction

About three years ago, I found a list on DeviantArt featuring 100 things to draw. I recently rediscovered this list and thought it would be pretty awesome to change "draw" to "write", if only to get these stagnant blogging juices flowing. To see the complete list, check out this elegant and finely-crafted link. Otherwise, you can check out the link in the sidebar under the Goodreads information.

If this is something that interests you, feel free to join in! I'm not going to make this an official blogfest or anything, but it would be fun if this gets passed around, if only for small writing exercises.

1 - Introduction

Who are you? Why do you write?

Call me K. I write because I like to.
Because when I was in the fourth grade and spent my afternoons rollerblading across the neighborhood, I would dream of adventures. Sometimes I was the one adventuring, sometimes it was someone else. Often times the characters weren’t created by me, and that’s why I didn’t write them down at first. The idea of fan fiction didn’t jive with what I already knew about copyright infringement.
I write because whenever I walk into a library and never find a book interesting enough for me to check out, I go home to write the book I would read.
Because whenever I set foot in a new city, I would want to capture every moment of it just to prove that I was there and I wasn’t experiencing a very elaborate and detailed lucid dream.
My subconscious tells me stories in my dreams, and sometimes I remember them long enough to write them down. They often involve people in my life I want to get to know, never the ones already close to me. Their adventures are so much cooler than anything I think up on my own.
But mostly, I write because  I like it.
Really, I don’t care if I make a living from writing or not. I will continue to write, and I will share my stories with the smallest of audiences.
This is me, and this is what I write.

17 March 2011

Happy St. Patty's Day

Here's a drinking song you can sing with your friends. Make up your own verse. And if you ever make up one that involves a goat and Tehlu's cassock, please let me know. The verse was hinted at in Wise Man's Fear and I would LOVE to know what it looks like.

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles: Day One) is the debut novel by Patrick Rothfuss. A story about stories, it is the life of a young man has he grows to become a legend in his own time. In the first book, Kvothe meets his first teacher Ben, spends his early adolescence on the streets of Tarbean, and eventually struggles to maintain a steady income during his first year at the University.

The second book, Wise Man's Fear, is out now.

09 March 2011

An Evening with Patrick Rothfuss

Wise Man's Fear continues the story of Kvothe introduced in The Name of the Wind. Expelled from the University, Kvothe travels into Vintas where his reputation as a hero grows bigger than before.

As some of you may already know, Patrick Rothfuss is touring the nation promoting his new book Wise Man's Fear. Last Tuesday, my city had the pleasure of hosting him for a night. We also got to see little Oot open the show and not want to leave his dada. Pat attempted to get him to say something into the microphone, but Oot was too shy.

Oot didn't want to leave Daddy either.
For the record, Oot is not his baby's real name, which is for the time being safeguarded by his friends and family until Oot is old enough to decide if he wants an Internet presence or not. Until then, he shall forevermore be referred to as Oot (online and in appearances like this at least).

Of course, having attended this event, I got to have my picture taken with Pat himself. Needless to say, I should have made googly eyes at him too.

Really, I was too star-struck to do anything beyond look pretty.
And this is what he signed for The Name of the Wind.

Signed for Wise Man's Fear:

When the third one comes out, I shall have him say something akin to "Even more love, forever from Pat." And if he asks, I shall show him the others -- I don't expect him to remember my specific circumstance.

Needless to saw, Pat is pretty awesome. He was worried about not getting to sign everyone's book before the event, so he started signing before the reading. Then he got up, answered questions, read the Wise Man's Fear prologue, answered more questions, read a Humor Column from college (the guinea pig story for those who might know it), more questions, then book signings. He stayed until past 11pm, which is about when I left with my friends. 

The woman running the endeavor was really nice as well. Around 10p, we told her our last bus was at 11:15p and we didn't want to miss it. Although she said we would have plenty of time, she still ushered us along to the front of the line as 10:50p rolled around. The people in line were gracious enough to let us pass as soon as they knew we were students and didn't have a car. Pat got cupcakes from one of my friends, in which he signed her book "You are AWESOME" to her glee. Then we left.

Well worth asking off for work, methinks. A very nice break from midterm studying. And now I really really want to read.

07 March 2011

Microfiction Monday (6)

Microfiction Monday is hosted by Susan on Stony River. The goal is to write a story in less than 140 characters (or one tweet) based upon the picture given each week. The second goal is to prove that I really do exist and on occasion pop into the blogosphere to misspell "occasion" on my first try.

"Lord Jensen has supposedly been missing for five years. I know where he is, but I won't tell you unless you do something for me."

Weekly News:
- finished writing the rough draft of a story I started out of the blue at the library. I wrote the entire thing on Google Docs, which I found helpful because I didn't obsess over how many pages it was. The next goal is finding a title for it.
- mentioned to friend (super secret) codename Herb that Google Docs would be a wonderful tool to collaborate on. She agreed and started a something, added me as an editor, and then we let our friend (super secret) codename Autumn in on it as well. Just for fun at the moment, and the concept Herb started is really interesting. Herb's ability to think this stuff up, Autumn's ability to play with fairy tale conventions, and my own  . . . contribution I guess, should add up to something fun to both write and read. 
- this is the last week before Spring Break. I have a midterm in American film, Emily Dickinson's poems to read, the usual load for creative writing, and must start filming a light journal on Monday. Not as bad as last week, but I can haz spring brek now plz?
- Have you heard about the YA Mafia? Holly Black, John Scalzi, and Beth Revis all talked about and defunct the whole concept. No, you cannot get you career ruined by some YA Mafia. John Scalzi's post has a very funny conversation.
- Katy Perry's new song sounds like a YA paranormal romance. (now that I retrieved that link, I'm going to have that song my head all night.) 
- Two more points and I make it into the magical number *7* (ooooooo)
- Phones don't die in Britain; they go "flat". I learned this upon my return to the States. It would have been so much more helpful knowing this over there. People always gave me strange looks when I said "My phone is dying."

01 March 2011

(belated) Microfiction Monday (5)

Microfiction Monday is hosted by Suson over on Stony River. The point is to write a story in 140 characters or less based upon the picture of the week. This week's picture is:

Cary the Fairy hid her secret treasure in an ugly shoe. What kind of person wears ugly shoes? 
My excuse for the delay: it's midterm season. Ugh.