Writing Update: Part 2

It’s high time for a writing update.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 #amwriting

I posted this photo and began writing my novel, The Grey Mansion.Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 1.07.21 PM

I completed the challenge, writing just over 50,000 words in 30 days. From December through the end of January 2015, I set the draft aside as recommended. In February, I started to sift through the first draft. I cut characters, fixed dialogue, crafted scenes I hadn’t had time to do justice during the 30 days. Then, the summer happened. And because of the busy schedule I held, I barely touched the story. But I knew in the back of my mind that it needed a lot of work.

As soon as the fall rolled around, I reopened the draft and started making drastic changes, starting with chopping off the first 10 chapters, and the last 6 or so. I had only the middle portion left to work with, and some basic outlines. Over the past several months, through my own research and also the help of the program AuthorLaunch, I have been rewriting and reworking The Grey Mansion, making major changes to characters, backstories, plot lines, and the magic system as a whole. I also had a friend go through about 80% of it, editing and watching for inconsistencies. I took her suggestions and implemented the vast majority of them. Then I kept writing. I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. I’ve started and stopped and let projects fall by the wayside when they lost their luster or I realized they just weren’t working. But I’ve never been able to do that with The Grey Mansion. I’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into this project.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 1.17.51 PMLast week, I posted this photo. At about 11:30 at night, and after agonizing over how to wrap things up for the past month, I finally typed “the end” on my manuscript. I actually feel confident enough in this story to call it a manuscript! And I’m really proud of it.

I want to get this book published. I’ve always been a reader and writer and storyteller, and I want so badly to get this story out there. To actually publish something, even if the only people who read it are my friends and family because I shove it in their faces and bug them about it until they do. Sorry in advance!

There’s still a long road until I can get this book published. Formatting and copyrighting and deciding on a medium and a cover and all the other details, but that’s why programs like AuthorLaunch are awesome, because they make the publishing process accessible and easier to navigate. #notsponsored

Writing is something I have always done, and hopefully will always do in one form or another. If you guys are new here then, Hi. My name is Micah and I am all about creativity. Creativity in all its forms and all its expressions. Reading and Writing and typically how I am creative, but I hope that through my novel and through this channel, I’m able to communicate just how much I believe in the power of creativity and doing something that you’re passionate about, whatever genre that might be in.

YouTube Channel
Micah’s Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram
Tumblr
Pinterest

“i’m not like other girls” Roundabout: We Need to Talk

Have you ever heard that line? In a book, in a movie, in real life?

“I’m not like other girls.”

I see it in posts like this one:

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 4.21.29 PM

As if they are somehow superior to those “other girls” simply because they’re not interested in what our world deems “typical” feminine ideals.

(Oops. It started with one, and then when I saw how quickly these posts were coming up… I think you get the idea. This is a popular meme.)

Ladies, this has to stop.

This video popped up on my youtube recommendations. I have never heard of this youtuber and I have not at this point watched any of her other videos. But this video hits on the head an issue that I have been struggling with a lot lately and she does it in a respectful, rational way. Watch it. It’s worth it.

As Savannah Brown so clearly says, this notion of the “other girls” is poisonous and it’s something that has been handed down through the generations. As females, we are taught through books, movies, and each other that Pretty = Shallow. Girly = weak. Dating around = slut. Makeup = wanting to hide something, or tragically insecure.  And all around us, just to enforce this idea, we see the women who embody femininity treated like dirt. So who’s surprised that if we want respect, we feel we have to separate ourselves from those “other girls?”

Those “other girls” who embrace femininity are the evil leading ladies in a terrifying majority of the stories they inhabit. (Hello Mean Girls, I’m looking at you. Also, Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Also Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” Do you see a trend here yet?) And in the end of those stories, they’re heroically brought down by the hipster/goth/country/nerdy/geeky/new/different girl who shuts down the mere idea of being feminine and condemns it as the weapon of the enemy.

Let me say this a little louder for the people in the back: FEMININITY IS NOT  A BAD THING AND IT DOES NOT EQUAL WEAKNESS OR SHALLOWNESS IN A CHARACTER OR PERSON.

Like she says, “Saying you just don’t get along with other girls is like saying you don’t get along with people with brown hair. It’s doesn’t make any sense.”

One of the book series I am currently reading (correction: waiting desperately for the next one to come out) is the Throne of Glass series. I think Savannah Brown would love this main character- Celeana Sardothian. Because she is strong. She’s an assassin, the most famous in all the land. She’s a fighter. She’s incredible in a battle. She’s also vain. She’s such a flirt. She gets her period while on a mission and is extra grumpy because of it. She loves dancing, especially if it’s with a handsome man. She loves rich clothing and fine dresses and spends hours in front of a mirror because she (or rather the author, Sarah J. Maas) recognizes that femininity is a strength, even sometimes the best weapon in our arsenal, and should never ever be automatically categorized as a weakness.

If you want someone real life who embodies so much of this, Estee Lalonde on youtube. This girl is so unapologetically herself in every way and it’s inspiring. Or Emma Blackery if you’re ok with some language and lots of snark.

Women are diverse and complicated and never one sided. (Yes, even that popular girl you thought was awful in high school.) And enjoying those things that are traditionally feminine (dresses, makeup, hair styles, high heels, wanting to stay at home instead of working, wearing lots of pink and sparkles, flirting, enjoying the girly cocktails…. I could keep going but I think you get the picture) is NEVER  an invitation for you to assume ANYTHING about that girl’s personality or life. Doing so only shows more about who you are then who she might be.

Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 3.37.27 PM

My two younger sister and I  are blessed to have the mom that we do. And my younger brother for that matter- yes, gentlemen, this stuff affects your lives as well as the lives of your sisters/mothers/aunts/grandmothers/girlfriends/wives. It affects the way you view women all around you.

My mom never tolerated us being scared of bugs just because that’s what was expected of us. We learned to smack them with our shoes after we stopped screaming. My parents took us hiking and we knew that there were more important things than worrying about our chipped nails. At the same time, there was no shame holding us back from going and getting them done after we got home. We love football and we played outside relentlessly as little kids. We also knew/know how to behave in a dress and walk in high heels. I prefer country music and for a long time wore my dusty boots around everywhere. That didn’t stop me and my sisters from jamming out to pop music as we drove around together. My best friend spends her college days in some variation of a barn (you go, Erin!) We also looked like absolute princesses for our high school Proms and like to do photo shoots with our photo-talented friends. Our go-to break up plan was Captain America and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and talk about hot guys.

Do you see how many of these things would never be incorporated into the same character in our books/films today? Why is that? Why in 2016 are we still uncomfortable with females who don’t fit nicely into our ready-made stereotypes?

Ladies: It is ok to spend your entire saturday watching obscure indie movies you enjoy, and go out for a mani/pedi the next day to talk about boys. It is permissible to enjoy football and fancy dresses, even at the same time. Watch Marvel movies and read sappy romance books if that’s what you enjoy. Take lots of selfies. Show of your confidence. Cosplay one day and wear pink lipstick the next. Require respect and require it in pink. Do not be afraid.

Do not let anyone make you afraid of embracing every piece of you, every beautiful contradiction inside you. Because it’s not a contradiction at all when it’s all wrapped up in making you, you.

 

The Passenger Book Challenge & Review!

Hello there all! So I know it’s not Sunday but I’ve decided I’m going to start posting just some of the reviews I do here on the blog as well for people to read. Hope you enjoy them! First one up is Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, released January 5th of this year. Also check out the Passenger Book Challenge video and let me know where/when in the world you’d like to travel to.

Passenger Book Challenge

Passenger Review

Well this book was an insanely wild ride from beginning to end. Romance and pirates and time travel. Conspiracy and old families and corruption. And oh so much wanderlust. Anyone feel like visiting Damascus with me?

So, first, the time travel system in this book is like nothing I have ever seen or read before. I am extremely impressed by Alexandra Bracken and all of the intricacies she was able to weave into this system that help to drive the plot forward. Also, loved how she continued to weave in musical language throughout the book without being out of place as that’s a huge part of Etta’s character and a very unique sensory detail that I don’t see used very often. Bravo.

Second, the characters. Etta (the main character) in particular is so well-written. She’s realistic in that she’s full of contradictions like real people are, but she’s also complete and strong in her own personality. She’s funny and stubborn and loving and a brilliant violinist and so entertaining. Nicholas is also a wonderful character. He’s one of those ones you love to read about because he’s so twisted up inside and every page you find out something new about his past… also hello Alexandra Bracken hitting the topic of systematic racism like wow. Just weaving that into the story all over the place.

I am also very glad that this is going to be a duology as I feel that at the end of this book I’ve just gotten a good grip on the world and now because of those last HEARTBREAKING pages we have a whole new arc to follow that ties into the grander plot.

Would highly recommend this book if any of the above sounds interesting to you.

Now… how long do we have to wait for the second one????

Roundabout: Talking & Reading About Writing

Hello there Internet! Hope you’re all having a fantastic day. Today I want to talk to you guys about something I love that is not reading- it’s writing! I know, shocker, right? If you’ve been around here for awhile then you’ve heard me talking about my writing before but I wanted to actually do a blog about this because it is such a big part of my life so without further ado, let’s get started!

I have been a writer for as long as I can remember.

The first big story that I ever wrote though, was called The Oak Tree and I was around 1st grade age when I wrote this. The story took place in Dublin, Ireland and the main character Maddie had a terrible stepmother and two stepsisters so it was very much a cinderella situation while her dad was away in Iraq because that was in the news a lot at the time. Maddie also had a secret world that she could access through a secret door in an oak tree in her front yard where there are talking animals and secret tunnels which connect to other tree-worlds that belong to her friends from school. But then the stepmother and stepsisters want to cut down the tree so Maddie has to save it and honestly I don’t actually remember how it ends but that was my first story!

Moving past that point I started and stopped different ideas for stories, novels, and even concepts for a series of books.

Then, in high school, I joined my school’s literary magazine team which became a central point in my life for those four years. Some of my best high school memories took place in that particular classroom during our late night meetings where I learned about writing, editing, graphic design, publishing, and leadership.

At this time I also was taking guitar lessons where I was doing a lot of songwriting. Mostly pop and folk tunes about my life and things that were happening. This is something that I still do, especially when I am confused or just need to sort out my thoughts. Picking up my guitar and singing whatever comes to mind is a great way to step back from a situation and be able to examine it in a different light.

It was during this time that I also discovered my new love for poetry.

I had been interested in poems before, but it was particularly during my time at lit mag when my poetry really grew, and eventually I even turned to slam poetry which I fell in love with during the annual Chicago Slam Poetry event, Louder Than a Bomb which is an amazing organization and is the largest youth poetry slam in the entire world. There was a documentary made about it and actually one of my poetry coaches Adam Gottlieb has a performance in the documentary which can be found on youtube. During this time I listened to a lot of Taylor Mali, Sarah Kay, and Button Poetry. I have notebooks filled with poems and I even placed in my high school’s spring poetry slam which was the Spring of my senior year and I used that event really as a way to clear the air of some pains and drama that had happened in high school, and to heal and finally step out of my high school identity and give myself permission to move on. And then I stopped. My poems fell to the wayside save for a few lines here and there and I traded it in for a return ticket to the land of fiction.

As some of you may know, I started off my Freshman year of college participating in the National Novel Writing Month in November of 2014. It was through this event that I wrote my very first draft of The Grey Mansion, which is the historical fantasy story that I am still working on today.

I have been blessed in my life to have some wonderful influences on my writing life from my parents who have always read or listened to every word (when I let them) to my wonderful high school mentor, second mother, Creative Writing teacher and Literary Magazine fearless leader, Mrs. Peters, to the wonderful creative communities I found through Louder Than a Bomb and the Teen Writers and Artists Project, as well as through NaNoWriMo and AuthorLaunch and the Internet in general. If you are interested in any of these programs, if you’re a writer of any age or caliber or genre looking for encouragement and community I will leave links to each of these organizations on their names.

And of course, I couldn’t make this video without talking about the fantastic books I have read on the subject of writing as well as fiction books that inspired me to write and create and some of those are:

Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert) and also her TedTalk on creativity

Yes Please (Amy Poehler)

Book Launch Blueprint (Tim Grahl)

I know this post has gotten very long already so I’ll go ahead and wrap it up here but what it all comes down to is that writing and creating is who I am, what I breathe, and how I live. It is essential to my identity and I believe that no matter where you believe your talent lies, we all have the God-given ability to create in our own way and it is essential for my life that I continue to create in whatever medium is at hand, as long as I am exploring what it means to be creative.

22 Thoughts I Had for Agent Carter Season 2 Premiere

If you’re a Marvel fan at all then no doubt you’ve heard of their show Agent Carter, which is aired in between seasons of Agents of Shield. The show is led by the fantastic Haley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter of the SSR and follows her life after the disappearance of Captain Steve Rogers. Peggy Carter is the leading lady we waited for. She’s incredibly smart, funny, gorgeous, and will kick your butt while wearing high heels and red lipstick. She is the perfect example of women being heroes of their own stories, and not being forced to give up their femininity. This is the first episode of Season 2, though the first two episodes were aired for the premiere. So without further ado, here are 22 Thoughts I Had for Agent Carter Season 2 Premiere

  1. So excited so excited so excited!!!

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.39.28 PM2. “We are the SSR!” Heck yes you are. Oh how I’ve missed these characters.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.42.47 PM3. Four minutes in and already my pulse is racing thanks to that fight scene in the bank

4. Oohhhh frozen lake- this is some Agents of Shield stuff right here. I think it’s really cool that Agent Carter is diving into some more Science-Fiction storylines. I’m even happier that they do it while still carrying on with their 1940’s flair

5. “Miss Carter.” “Mr. Jarvis.” These two are my favorite team ever. Original Avengers much?

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 4.51.05 PM6. Oh my gosh the flamingo… now I want to know how long it’s around and if Tony has any memories of his father’s ridiculous pet flamingo

7. The British-ness of this back and forth is absolutely wonderful

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 11.15.15 AM

8. Awwww red headed lady knows what’s up 😉 Sousa & Peggy

9. All. Of. The Sass.

10. Wait who is this guy? I don’t trust him.

11. EW no stop please

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 11.04.09 AM

12. We finally get to see Mrs. Jarvis!

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 5.08.37 PM13. Oh my goodness…. This woman is everything. I can’t pin her accent though. Anyone?

14. Mr. Edwin “Charm” Jarvis

15. Ok that cough is making me suspicious

16. It’s spreeeaaadddiinnngggg

17. I KNEW IT

18. Yikes Thompson you are not up for this lady… Doddie (Dottie?) is Black Widow but blonde and evil

19. Cooooollll scene (See what I did there?)

20. nooooooooooo :(((((((((( Sadness so much sadness. Sousa why.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 11.03.45 AM21. Wait is that…. Oh my gosh…. From Agents of Shield???

22. Alright so we have our set up for investigation. We have our new character’s relationships and I am so in already. Please don’t break my heart, writers. Please? I’m very interested to see how this new weapon/substance might tie into what’s been happening on the last season of Agents of Shield. (Update: Watched Episode 2. Pretty much positive it has to be the same matter. They basically laid that out for us. What shall the connection be though?) Let’s go, Season 2. This is gonna be fun

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 6.02.22 PM

New Bookish Videos, Update!

Hello there internet!

So tonight a new video went up and I also realized that it’s been awhile since I posted the videos here, so here you go! Enjoy and make sure to like, comment, and subscribe! New blog post coming on Sunday 🙂

The Bookish Friends Tag

Books & Tea Best Pairings

Most Anticipated 2016 Book Releases

Roundabout: 2016 Resolutions

2016 Resolutions, thoughts on 2015, and hopes for the year ahead.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 11.06.24 PM

For me, 2015 was a year of figuring out what I love, what I enjoy, what I’m passionate about. And I discovered some things along the way. I discovered I’m actually good at this YouTube thing, and that I love making these videos. I discovered an appreciation for brightly colored hair and lipstick. I worked by far the hardest summer job I have ever had in my life. I met the love of my life. I read new books and picked out clothes a younger me wouldn’t have been confident enough to wear. I am (still) writing a novel. I learned to not apologize for being me. To embrace all of my personality exactly as I am. I am getting better at accepting compliments and even believing them.

In terms of 2016 resolutions, I have just a few.

  1. Get back into yoga- I started this awhile ago and then things got busy. I don’t care about losing weight/gaining muscle. I want to do more yoga because it gives me an energy boost and I enjoy doing it!
  2. Read the Bible in a year! A daunting task it may seem, but I have a plan! I recently got my hands on a One Year Chronological Bible with sections for each day. I’ve found more and more that when I make time to spend with God, my entire outlook on life is better. I am full of peace and I am anchored in Christ when I spend time with him daily. I know, shocking right? Anyway. Let’s do this.
  3. Read 100 Books! At least that’s my Goodreads goal. We shall see! There are so many great books coming out this year and I am super excited to get my eyes on all of them!
  4. Continue making videos that I’m proud of
  5. Smile often. Laugh often. Kiss often. Love more. Give more grace to myself and others.

Whether you’ve made formal resolutions or not, let’s strive to each be a little better to ourselves and others this year. Happy New Year everyone, and good luck.

Best Books 2015! Welcome 2016!

Taking a gander back at the Best Books 2015

Happy New Year! It’s the final day of 2015! 2016 is less that 24 hours away. Looking back, this has been a busy year for the world, and for me personally. It has been a year of adventure and changes and excitement. I can’t wait to see what 2016 holds!

And what better way to wrap up a year of reading with the ultimate wrap-up video! Check out my Best Books 2015!

And in case you didn’t catch the oh-so-Christmas-y ‘Tis the Season Book Tag video, here’s that one too.

Bonus Videos! Just a couple of my favorite “Year in Review” style videos that have come out the past few weeks as 2015 draws to a close. Enjoy! (You should especially watch this first one- Youtube Rewind 2015!)

Micah’s Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram
Tumblr
Pinterest

New Videos! Booktube Tag Videos

Two new videos for you all, if you haven’t already seen them on the youtube channel or elsewhere on the Internet. Both were really fun to do.

Believe it or not, HE’S the one who wanted to do this video in the first place! Here’s the boyfriends does my makeup challenge video- classic youtube tag and such a fun video to do! Hope you guys enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed creating it 🙂

This video was so much fun to put together!
LINKS BELOW!!!
Booktube Net Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BookTubeNetMagazine/?fref=ts

BooktubeNet Magazine Website: http://booktubenetmagazine.wix.com/booktubenetmagazine

GuysRead

American Library Association

Micah’s Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram
Tumblr
Pinterest

Paris, Lebanon, Baghdad- The World Responding to Tragedy

The world has seen a a series of tragedies over the past couple of days.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.02.23 PMParis was attacked on Friday, in multiple locations all at roughly the same time. The latest news sources state that the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for these attacks. The most recent death toll reaches 123 deaths and over 300 injuries.

On Thursday the 12th dozens were killed in Beirut, Lebanon by a double suicide bombing.

Also on the 13th, close to twenty people were killed at a funeral in Baghdad by suicide bombers.

Thanks to social media, the whole of the world became suddenly aware of all of these tragedies as they were happening and news and reactions have spread quickly.

President Obama speaks on Paris attacks: “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond.  France is our oldest ally.  The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again.  And we want to be very clear that we stand together with them in the fight against terrorism and extremism….We are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberté and égalité and fraternité are not only values that the French people care so deeply about, but they are values that we share.  And those values are going to endure far beyond any act of terrorism or the hateful vision of those who perpetrated the crimes this evening.”

People are calling for a global time of mourning, for retaliation, and for world leaders to step up their actions against IS.

Last night, I heard about the attacks on Paris while I was at dinner. Throughout the rest of the night, I stayed up to date on the news coming from the attacks, and I was horrified to see how it expanded and grew and the death toll rose as the night went on.

I checked to see that one of my classmates currently studying abroad and spending the weekend in Berlin was safe. He is.

I sent messages to two foreign exchange students my family had hosted from France a couple summers ago- both are safe.

I went to bed. I got up and came to work this morning and have periodically been checking back to see if there have been any updates. I read stories on tumblr of users who are in Paris at the moment experiencing the crisis as it is happening and doing their best to use the Internet to let people know they are safe, to make sure their friends and families are still alive, and to let the rest of the world know what’s happening.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.32.14 PMTechnology has an amazing way of making the world feel so much smaller than it used to be. In an instant, we can be aware of events happening on the other side of the globe. In the course of a night, the Internet can become a storm of news reports and people offering condolences, shelter, and prayer in thousands of different languages all across the globe.

And yet it is still hard to remind myself that the events I’m hearing about are real. From my place on the other side of the globe I see only the ripples of such events. The tragedies seem incredibly distant, even as I hear about them more and more, especially those surrounding the IS.

Is is even right for me to say I mourn for those in Paris, in Baghdad, in Lebanon? Do I have any idea what an attack like that does to a person, to their homes, to their entire way of life? No, I know that I have no idea.

But I find that I cannot react any other way. I do not know the people involved in these events and I probably never will, but that doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to a loss of human life. Whether I knew them or not, the loss is still real and it will remain in my thoughts nonetheless.

The world must react, yes. ISIS and the other terrorist groups responsible for these attacks seem to be growing stronger every day, and the possibilities that go along with that are terrifying to say the least.

But I am no world leader. I have no power to change policies, to order armies, or to send millions of dollars to foreign governments in hopes that it will be used to provide aid to those who were hurt. And I refuse to be one of the people who uses the tragedies occurring all over the world to further my own opinions on political issues. (See this article from the New York Times on the subject).

And maybe that’s why this response by a tumblr account has connected with me so well. Read it. And Pray for not just Paris but all the places in the world where tragedy reigns on a daily basis. I know this is a downer of a post, but it didn’t feel right to talk about anything else until I addressed this properly. Thank you for listening. I’ll see you all on Thursday.Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.28.31 PM

(Written on Saturday 11/14- sorry if things have been updated since then and something in here is no longer correct, I’ll try to make sure it’s all still relevant before I post)