Good Bye, Complete Immersion

me with a cup of tea reading Paper Hearts

Hey guys,

I am reading Paper Hearts, Volume 1: Some Writing Advice by Beth Revis right now which you may have noticed because it is mentioned in my sidebar. Anyways, in her book, Beth talks about letting go of writing projects. She wrote ten novels before she was published and I have spent the last three years on one story. Hence, the title of this blog post.

I have decided to move on from the story I have been working on for so long. So, without further ado, good bye, Complete Immersion. I will miss you and your characters. I poured hours of my life into this story and it was worth it in the end because I learned new things about writing and about myself but mostly about writing. 😛

I had a lot of fun the last three years working on this story, but it’s reached the point that I just don’t even want to work on it anymore. I still want to write but I feel bad not working on Complete Immersion. It’s not even good enough to query and I’ve revamped the plot so many times that I’m not sure what’s going on half the time. On top of that, my work has been very stop and go which is confusing and frustrating, so I am shelving it. I may return to it some day when I have the strength to tackle it, but I may leave it on the shelf, too. It was good practice for future stories and that is what truly counts.

While working on Complete Immersion, I’ve been piling up ideas, and I am looking forward to moving on to a new one. While I was in London last May (check out my vlogs from that trip), I started Ahlam Warsi: Private Detective. It is the story of a young, English-Muslim woman moving to London for a new job as a private detective. The plot of the story itself focuses on her interactions with the human trafficking industry in and around London. I wrote the first two chapters and an outline for it last May. Now, I’m moving forward with the rest of the story and I’m super hype! I don’t feel guilty for not working on Complete Immersion because it has been shelved. I can move on with a clean slate.

On that note, you can look forward to future blog posts about my new project and I will stop complaining about Complete Immersion. Also, I changed the word count bar on the side to account for my new story, so you can watch that grow as well. 😀

Have you benched a project after working on it for a while? I’m curious, but also, I don’t want to be alone in this.

Anyways, thanks for reading

-Alora

A Weekend In Virginia Beach

Emma and I taking a selfie after we walked down to 7-eleven.

Hello my friends,

I spent the last weekend, from Friday till Tuesday, in Virginia Beach with Emma. I got to meet and hang out with her family and we went to the beach. I got to see the place where she grew up and spent most of her life, actually. For me, it was weird because I don’t have one place where I spent most of my life. I have some places in Lincoln. I have Knoxville, Atlanta, Nashville, and California. I’ve lived so many places and visited so many others that it is impossible for one place to sum up most of my life, but for Emma that is Virginia Beach. I am over simplifying for effect because she lived in northern Virginia for a time and some of her family lives out of state, but compared to me, I sometimes feel like her whole childhood can be summed up by Virginia Beach which is really different from my childhood.

While in Virginia Beach, we went to the beach, obviously.

Emma showed me around the park by her house which was cool because it is right on the water.

We also went to quintessential Virginia Beach/Norfolk things like Dumar’s restaurant which was actually where they invented the waffle cone. They are basically like Sonic, but better because they aren’t a chain. It was cool and also pretty yummy. Though be warned, Emma may kill me for not saying they were the best place ever. 😛

I had lots of fun this weekend hanging out, exploring a new area, and meeting new people. Also, Emma’s dogs are really freaking cute! That was a major plus. I got puppy snuggles!!

In other news, Mayterm has started, so I am going to be spending the next two weeks learning all about Queen Elizabeth I which is exciting. Except for the fact that I have miles of reading assigned for everyday that is due the next day because we have class every day. Urgh. I do plan on getting that schedule and goals stuff together like I mentioned in my last blog, but I had a busy weekend. I will get to that probably sometime tomorrow.

Well, thank you for listening. If you want to see more pictures from my trip, I made an album on the family shutterfly over here.

Talk to you later my dudes,

-Alora

School is Over. Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

My foot in the grass to remind people of summer. I took this picture at band practice last week.

Hello friends,

It’s Alora. I’m back! Now that I am nearly done with school, I have finished most of my projects and am super ready for summer. I’m also ready to get back into the swing of blogging and posting videos and just all around being more active online now that I have some actual free time. I’m also going to start working on that job hunt soon.

This week is my last finals week of undergrad and then I have a three week mini-semester before graduation!! I’m graduating from undergrad and then headed into the job market. The last three weeks have been really rough because I have had so much to do. This week, I took six finals along with a take-home final that I turned in about an hour ago. I only have one last class during the mini May semester and it is going to be all about Queen Elizabeth the First. I am very excited.

As for this blog and my YouTube channel we’ll see how that goes. In the next few days(ish) I am planning on creating my goal list for the future including short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals. I am also going to be setting up a regular schedule of blog posts and YouTube videos. My blog content is going to be similar to what it has been in the past, meaning lots of book reviews, video responses and hopefully some more stuff about writing. For both my blog and my videos, I have a backlog of ideas and thoughts that I would like to get out there, so I may post extra things outside of my schedule for a little while to get caught up. I really enjoy posting, so I hope to stay in the swing of it longer now that I am not going to be constantly distracted by school. Not that I am really complaining, college was great and I am going to miss it. However, I am looking forward to a little more free time to pursue my hobbies.

If you have any ideas for future blog posts or just want to chat you can hit me up in the comments or just tweet me @alorabora

Talk to you soon,

Alora :)

An Angry Post about Pearl from Steven Universe

Picture of Pearl originally posted by relatablepicturesofpearl

Hey guys

(FYI, this post is very passive aggressive and definitely about a very specific person from tumblr. I’m posting it here, so maybe that person won’t see it, but I can still get my opinions out there.)

So the show Steven Universe is one of many cartoons that I love to watch. It is also the show with some of the most queer representation I’ve ever seen. There is a character, Pearl, who is shown to have been in love with a women in the past and currently could be argued to be in love with multiple other female characters in the show. This of course means Pearl is super gay. I love the idea of Pearl being super gay. That’s totally fine.

However, it is totally okay to headcanon that Pearl is bi/pan. Pearl being bi/pan does not erase the fact that she likes girls. Personally, I think that Pearl is gay. However, some of the arguments I’ve seen online against Pearl being bi/pan are very biphobic and very against non-binary people. The argument is that Pearl has only been seen as attracted to female-coded characters. However, just because characters are female-coded does not mean that they actually are female. It is entirely likely that some of the people that Pearl has obviously been attracted to have been non-binary, in which case, we could easily say that Pearl is pan. We could also still say that Pearl is gay, but just because we’ve never seen Pearl attracted to anyone other than supposedly female characters does not mean she cannot be bi or pan. Her sexuality is not just defined by her actions. It is canon that Pearl likes girls, but that does not mean Pearl can’t like people that aren’t girls as well.

Also, having a headcanon that Pearl is pan is not lesbian erasure. Lesbians want to see Pearl as super super gay, which she is, but that doesn’t mean pan people can’t see her as pan. Pan people still like girls. Nothing in the show says anything about Pearl not being pan. How many pan characters have you seen in media? Everyone just wants to have someone they can identify with. Pan!Pearl does not hurt the queer representation of the show. If anything, it makes it better because there are usually so few pan people in the media. These two headcanons are not mutually exclusive.

gay!Pearl is definitely canon, but that does not exclude pan!Pearl from being possible. I understand there is hardly any good lesbian representation in the media. The bi/pan representation is even worse. In the end, Pearl is gay, but pan people headcanoning Pearl as pan is not the end of the world and it is not homophobic/lesphobic either.

I don’t like seeing people attacked online. Often those doing the attacking forget that they are attacking people. There is always a way to argue without attacking people and that is the best option.

That is all.

-Alora

(Image Source)

Some Thoughts on Yik Yak

Hello,

In the past few days there has been an uproar at my school about the anonymous social media app, Yik Yak. Some posts were made that were racist and I’ve heard hate crimes were threatened, but I can’t confirm that. These comments have created a huge uproar on the campus, which is reasonable, I guess. Yik Yak is by definition an anonymous app. Most people on campus use it for hooking up or complaining about classes. There is a downvote option and posts that have too many downvotes will be deleted. The only record of the racist comments are in screenshots because people did downvote the posts and other users can report the posts and hateful language to Yik Yak staff. Then they can take action against the user that posted the hateful words without compromising their anonymity.

Ignoring the hateful words, reporting the poster and downvoting the post are all great ways to deal with hate speech. However, Mary Baldwin College has decided to ban Yik Yak. The IT department can ban Yik Yak from the wifi, but, from what I have heard, without back up from law enforcement, MBC cannot get the app to stop its services in this area. This means students will still be able to use Yik Yak on their data plans. There was a senate vote today which is when the decision was made to ban Yik Yak. (UPDATE: This vote apparently was just a vote to introduce the motion to ban Yik Yak. The regulation itself has not passed yet.) I understand I should’ve spoken out then, but I could not attend the meeting. Instead, I am writing this blog post to get my ideas out there without accidentally making myself look like a racist asshole which still may happen. I will edit and revise this blog post to keep myself from looking like a fool, but it still may happen. So please, comment below with your opinion and share with your friends to get their opinions too.

Banning Yik Yak is stupid. That’s it. The way to deal with hate speech and the people making it is not to create a huge stink about a few comments and banning a widely used app. This gives the original poster power over us. As I said above, Yik Yak can take actions against the poster and other users can downvote and report the post to have it removed. Talking about the posts and letting everyone know that this type of speech is not okay it important, but banning Yik Yak is just trying to put a stopper into people’s mouths. The free speech argument is often used by assholes to explain why they are being horrible to others, but in this case, I am not advocating for letting people post hate speech on Yik Yak. I am advocating for teaching people that posting hate speech is not okay and will not be tolerated. Some may think banning Yik Yak is the best way to show people that hate speech will not be tolerated, but there are other ways. Reporting the post to Yik Yak works and openly talking about the horrible posts works too.

The comments in these posts were specifically racist which is why they caused a huge stink. However, last year there were hateful comments about LGBT people on Yik Yak and the college did nothing. The students talked about it and said “That’s not okay.” The posts were downvoted and they disappeared. We did not ask the college to ban Yik Yak. We did not give that power to the original poster of the hate speech.

I do not want to make a very long post. I just wanted to offer up my opinions on the matter. Banning Yik Yak is not the best way to deal with this. People who want to make hateful comments will just find another place to do it and banning Yik Yak will only annoy the students who don’t have large data plans. Everyone else will still use it with their 3G. Students will not stop using Yik Yak and the hate speech will not stop if Yik Yak is banned. Instead, we should promote diversity and inclusion by spreading love and not giving power to hateful people.

That is all. Enjoy your day and enjoy using Yik Yak before the college tries to silence us.

Much Love,

Alora

EDIT: P.S. I stand behind removing hateful comments and posts from social media because they are attacking others. I do not stand behind the banning of an app that promotes free speech.

ROAD TRIP!

Pic of me looking fly with my new green hair.

Hey!

I am leaving for a two week road trip in half an hour. We are going to have lots of crazy adventures but little to no internet. I will try to blog when I can, but don’t expect too much.

I hope you’re having a great summer!

-Alora

On Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino

Picture of me holding a rainbow that I drew for the occasion.

Hello all,

I recently checked out Speak Now: Marraige Equality on Trial by Kenji Yoshino from my local library. The book details the trial Hollingsworth v. Perry that legalized gay marriage in California for good. The book has three parts: before the trial, during the trial, and after the trial. Each section provides an interesting narrative on the progression of the case and information on Yoshino’s own life and marriage to his husband. As the reader, learns about the monumental trial, they also learn about Yoshino’s two kids and how the trial affected him and his husband. The book is also studded with information Yoshino got from interviews with the trial participants. Speak Now is an exhaustive look at Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it was never boring to read. Yoshino keeps it interesting and I loved learning more about LGBTQIA history.

Yoshino makes a law proceeding that would probably be boring for most people to read, interesting and suspenseful. The book shines with his love of law and it is impossible not to be a little infected by his passion for the subject. I started the book on the day gay marriage was finally legalized in the US. woOT! I was and still am very happy that there is a bit more equality in this world and it was very interesting to read Speak Now and learn about the legal side of the campaign for marriage equality. I’ve been following and participating in the more social side of the movement, but I knew almost nothing about the legal part of it. I’m glad I picked this book up because it may have focused on Hollingsworth v. Perry, but it provided enough background information that I didn’t feel lost in my ignorance.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in marriage equality and how far we have gone to achieve it. It was a very in depth and at times technical book. It took me about a week to read the whole thing, but it is not entirely indigestible by a lay person like me. It just takes a bit more time to get through each page.

I am glad that I’ve decided to read more non-fiction books this summer. The non-fiction books I have read so far have been wonderful and very interesting. I did not realize how much I was missing by sticking to fiction for so long. I don’t think I will ever manage to read almost entirely non-fiction like my dad does, but I definitely want to continue to incorporate more into my reading diet.

I’m going to the pool with my siblings right now, but you, my friend, should go read a book, and then draw a rainbow because we have succeeded in securing marriage equality and it didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. Hooray!

What non-fiction books have you been reading lately, if any? What new knowledge did they give you?

-Alora

P.S. I don’t have a picture of the book for this blog because I already returned it to the library. Sorry. Enjoy my rainbow instead.

Week One Report from Camp NaNoWriMo

Me looked confused at the notes I've made on this mess of a novel.

Heya,

So Camp NaNoWriMo has been going pretty well. I haven’t written anything today, but I’m only 2,000 words behind. I can easily catch up and finish by the end of the month. My only worry right now, is the impending road trip….

Anyways. My novel is officially up to 58K! Fifty-eight thousand words. How crazy is that? It’s the longest thing I’ve ever written and I’ve deleted and rewritten over half of it. It’s utterly unbelievable. After the initially slow word counts, I managed to pick it up. I wrote over two thousand words yesterday. Below is a graph of my daily word counts for this past week. As you can see, day one and today are very sad looking. I haven’t written anything today because I wanted to update y’all before I started in on the grueling task.

bar graph of my daily word counts

My total Camp NaNoWriMo word count graph looks a bit better. The dotted line shows the trend that meeting your daily word count would take you along. I’m not that insanely far below it.

My graph of Camp NaNoWriMo total word count taken from the Camp NaNo website

I’m pretty proud of how Camp NaNoWriMo is going so far and I have a great cabin of other writers I can talk to. I’ve decided that, as a present to myself, if I win Camp NaNoWriMo, I am going to purchase, Scrivener, a fancy processor and writing tool. I’ve used it before, but I didn’t buy it last time. If I win I get 50% off, so I can get it for cheap. Also, as an added bonus, once I finish this draft, which may or may not occur when I win Camp NaNoWriMo, I’m buying myself a Mayday Parade shirt. They are one of my favorite bands and that is all I listen to while I write, so I thought I’d commemorate that with a T-shirt. I can always use a new T-shirt.

Also, I complete reorganized my note system on Sunday. I was home alone for most of the morning and I printed a bunch of my typed up notes and created a bunch more pages in my binder (pictured above). It’s where I store all of my written data on Complete Immersion. I did so much world building on Sunday, I had to almost completely reorganize my binder. And, if anyone ever wants to make this thing into a movie, I have literally mapped out three quarters of the scenes. Whenever I feel lost about where everyone is, I just draw a picture and slap some names on it. Drawing a picture always helps. Listen to your teachers, kids.

I’ve been using my little brother’s room for the past week because it has my desk in it, but he’s back from the beach now, so I no longer have an empty room that I can lock myself in. I need to figure that out. There is a card table in my room that Mom set up for me. I can use that, but I don’t really want to. I like my desk. It’s a nice desk, and it’s what I wrote the first draft of this novel on, so I’m used to writing while I sit here. Oh well, I’ll figure something out.

For now, I must go. I need to work on my novel and I have two book reviews to write. I finished Speak Now yesterday, and then immediately started Trial by Fire which I raced through before I got a chance to update my Currently reading. Oops.

Good luck fellow Wrimos! We can both do this! How did your first weeks of camp go?

-Alora

Day One of Camp NaNoWriMo 2015!

Pic of me with my story binder

Today was the first day of Camp NaNoWriMo! I have decided on a goal of 40,000 words which puts me around 1300 new words on my novel per day. I am going to be revising my novel Complete Immersion which currently has 51,306 words. Hopefully, by the end of the month, that will be up past 90,000. I should be able to finish my current draft this month and then in August I can keep this crazy momentum going and start a new draft to pare everything down. If I get through this month, I should be on track with my goal of finish Complete Immersion by the end of the year. I tend to talk big, but I hope I’ll be able to follow through.

Sadly, because of Camp, I will probably have less time to blog, so these daily blogs have been a bit of a treat and I probably won’t be able to keep that up. I will keep you all updated on my progress, but it’s not going to be daily, unless I have crazy amounts of energy. I encourage you to try out Camp NaNoWriMo too. Unlike actual NaNoWriMo, you can choose whatever word count you want and you don’t even have to work on a new novel. You can always work on revisions like me.

The first day hasn’t gone so well. I’ve written a grand total of nine words. I found a brand new procrastination site where you can help actual scientists analyze their data (Link here). It was a productive day science wise, and I studied for the GRE, but I didn’t get much writing in. I’m not going to stay up super late and write either. I am going to go to bed at a reasonable time and then wake up early tomorrow and get started. It was an unproductive day one, but I will have a great day two.

I’ve decided to not stay up because of the WordNerds’ video on the Camp NaNo survival kit which requires sleep. I write better in the morning too. I’ve decided to take advantage of Maxwell’s absence and use his room for writing. I’m going into hiding for the next month. Revising 40K on top of an already 51K novel is going to be much harder than writing the original 50K was. This is kind of terrifying and I haven’t even really started yet since this was the least productive first day of camp ever. I have lots of words to catch up on tomorrow and a five hour shift making pizzas in the middle of the day.

Wish me luck and join me if you want. No matter your word count, day two is not too late. You can still start and finish too. Good luck at camp. I’ll try to write soon.

-Alora

On The Martian by Andy Weir

Picture coming soon. The book is missing and it’s very late.

I always did like some fiction with my science. This book is a wonderful science fiction book. It is full of science and snark and lots of f-bombs. It’s amazing. The movie is coming out soon, and I can’t wait to watch it. The Martian by Andy Weir was a blast to read, lots of blasts actually. The book follows the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut that just got stranded on Mars with no way of getting home until four years from now. His mission was supposed to last 31 days. It’s a scientific thriller. Watney’s got a lot of stuff on his side, but not nearly enough. I would have surely died. Absolutely. The book is one broken thing, that will surely kill you if you can’t fix it, after another. The science is great. Andy Wier did a ton of research on how to survive on the surface of Mars. As the absolute nerd that he is, he actually wrote out software to chart orbital mechanics and he did a bunch of math just to make everything a bit better. WARNING: spoilers ahead.

The math is great and Mark Watney is a really likable main character. Most of the book is spent following his adventures on the Red Planet, but he keeps it from being boring, with a bit of help from failing equipment. The science is great and I loved the story, but I felt the writing was a bit lacking at points. Some of the dialogue felt weak. At the end, when we see him really conversing with his crew, everyone seems a bit too snarky. The levels of sass from everyone just threw me off a little. The rest of the writing seems childish at times, which can be expected from a debut novel, but Weir has published other fiction works online before. It was a wonderful book, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t jive with all of the writing.

Also, the inserts of third person omniscient on Mars, halfway through the book was weird. I was okay with the third person limited going on on Earth, but the third person on Mars was strange. The flash backs were okay. Their introduction was a bit of a jump, but I’m used to random flashbacks showing up. The random paragraphs following the life of that piece of canvas were weird and unexpected, but they did build tension. They did their job. They were just unexpected. The weirdest third person bits were the ones following Mark Watney himself. It was strange to see him from the outside and he was always referred to with strange nouns, like “the astronaut,” and such. It was a strange transition from his first person logs to the third person camera view. It didn’t help that the first view of Watney from this camera eye was about half way through the book. It took a while for this type of writing to show up which is what made it so weird. I’m not used to books that switch perspectives on characters. It would be like if the book suddenly transitioned to journal entries from the head of NASA. It would have been less weird if the switch in perspectives had been introduced earlier. I might’ve started the book in third person on Watney and showed the original MAV take-off in that perspective before switching to the log, but that would change the entire feel of the book, so maybe not the best idea. I really liked the book, the only criticisms I’m really able to make are writing wise, if that tells you anything.

It was a very interesting read and it reminded me a lot of a Michael Crichton novel. Lots of shit going wrong and nobody quite able to fix it for long. Also, all the guys at NASA reminded me of the control room guys from, like Jurassic Park, or the Andromeda Strain. There were lots of different personalities that grated against each other, but I mean that’s reasonable because they were trying to help an astronaut stranded on Mars. The book had its own feel, worry not. It just reminds me of Michael Crichton in retrospection. I finished the book like three days ago.

I don’t think I really connected with Watney they way I usually do with main characters. I’m not quite sure why. The story was compelling, just not riveting. I wasn’t as emotionally attached to him as I am to most characters. I enjoyed the book, and I’m very excited for the movie, but I definitely did not enjoy it as much as my dad did. It was great. I’m glad I read it. I just probably won’t read it again and recommend it to everyone I see.

That being said, you should go pick up a copy and read it. It’s got a lot of bad language and crazy science but that’s it. The Martian is a must read for science fiction lovers. It’s a phenomenon right now. The movie’s going to come out soon and I just know that everyone is going to be talking about it. So get the jump on them and read it now. You won’t regret it. The book is amazing, full of mad science and snarky comebacks to no one in particular, except freaking MArs for trying to kill Watney. Also, it has a wonderful cover. It’s so pretty. Scroll back up to the picture. Just look at how well organized and gorgeous that thing is. I just want to stroke it. (So,the picture doesn’t exist right now because I can’t find the book. I really need to get back in the habit of taking book selfies when I start reading a book, so I don’t have to search the house for it after I write the blog post on it. Oh well. Picture coming soon.)

Go get yourself a copy, read it and report back. If you’ve already read it, report on it below. Let’s talk science. We haven’t done that on here yet.

-Alora

(Not that we’ve talked anything on here, because no one actually comments on my posts, but spam websites. Please love me guys.) (Thank you to the courageous few that have commented in the past. I love you much.)