30/06/15

Hi everyone!

Sorry I didn’t post on Monday; and this is an apology in advance because I won’t be posting all of this week. Why? Because I’m on my Duke of Edinburgh expedition and completely forgot to schedule any blog posts! Great blogger, me!

Anyway, I’m not too well at the moment (I think my boyfriend gave me a cold, whoo) but other than that I’ve only got one more week at college before the summer holidays, and lots of time to spend with the boyf, friends and family and, well, reading and writing. And blogging, of course. I wouldn’t leave you guys!

If you’ve been on my personal, you’ll have noticed that it’s gotten a new design. And it also looks like a kiddie’s site… I’ll change it soon.

I hope that if you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo you’re all (kind of) prepared! You’re not? Ah well, don’t worry – I’m not either, and with 2 hours, 10 minutes to go I probably should be looking to do something about it. (But na.)

Over the next few weeks I want to start guest blogs. Ideally, I’d like this to be for other writers/bloggers to get their blog noticed and out there (yeah, I’m not that influential in the WordPress-o-sphere (Oh wait, I’ll come onto that in a moment) but I think I can make a difference to some people!). So, if you’re interested, feel free to let me know! (And Jake is already on the list, but feel free to check him out anyway ;) )

I’ve been nominated for the “Blogger Recognition Award” by QuirkyMadsReads, so thank you very much for that! I’ll do the actual post when I’m back, so either Sunday or Monday. :)

Other than that, I’ve just written my first letter to a new penpal so that’s exciting, and although I’m dealing with some ~personal issues~ at the moment, I’m working on them. With help, obviously, but I’m working on them!

I hope you all have a lovely week and – oh wait!

WHAT ABOUT THE CHALLENGE?! Did you guys read a play last week? I read Tartuffe by Moliere, which my boyfriend, Jake (wow, he’s been mentioned a lot in this post), is studying for drama so I borrowed it from him. This week’s challenge… hmm. How about call/see a friend who you haven’t seen in a while? I saw an old school friend earlier today, so that’s my part of the challenge done! Comment and tell me what happened.

Anyway I just surpassed 394 words which is surprisingly long for which is what was meant to be a short note, so I’m going to sign off now, and wish you all well for the week to come!

Camp NaNoWriMo 2015 (JULY)

  

 CAMP NANOWRIMO IS AROUND THE CORNER! *screams with a mixture of delight and fear*

Camp NaNoWriMo is a branch of NaNoWriMo and takes place in April and July. I post about it every year, but this year I’m super excited because I’m doing something totally new.

I posted about this on my personal blog a while back, but I thought I’d bring it up again. I’m doing a series of short stories, not related, full of different genres to test out what I like, what I’m good at, and what I should just definitely stay away from.

Normally I blabber on a bit about why you should do NaNoWriMo and why NaNoWriMo is beneficial to you but I’m kind of hoping you can see this from my extreme enthusiasm.

So, although you might not want to, just do me a favour and at least check out the website, give it a try and make sure you join a cabin! (And, if you really don’t want to, try and write something in July, yeah?)

(Find me on NaNoWriMo – MidnightBeast1098!)

And my NaNoWriMo posts will be making a reappearance from the week after next too! :D

Book Discussion: Series Novels

bd; series novels

I LOVE series novels: Harry Potter, Fairytale Retellings series, House of Night, the Hunger Games, Percy Jackson… yeah, there are a lot out there.

I like series because they normally mean there’s going to be an epic plot, and that means lots of subplots (I love subplots). Perhaps there’s an underlying theme of romance, or all of the adventures lead up to one massive one in the final novel or there’s an underlying mystery and all of the ends are tied up in the final one… (Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?!)

Epic plots also mean epic characters and lots of them. A quick Google Search tells me that there are 772 characters in Harry Potter (I also got distracted for 20 minutes just now trying to name the top 200 (I got to 122)). LOADSA CHARACTERS! There’s probably not enough pages in a stand-alone novel for that many. Sure, you might lose track of them. But dude. Isn’t it pretty awesome?!

Of course series do have downsides. For example, it costs a lot to buy them all, or you might only buy one and then by the time you get the next in the series, you’ve forgotten what happened in the first one. It’s a struggle when you read books during the series too or two series at the same time; these can get a bit confusing!

Still, series are pretty awesome and take a lot of work to do, so kudos to any authors out there who have written a series of novels.

What’s your opinion on series novels? Do you love them, hate them? Read them often? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

22/06/15

Hi guys!

So, how many of you tried the challenge I put up last week? Come on, be honest… ;)

I didn’t sit down and ruthlessly make myself draw every day, but I did do quite a bit, sometimes even without meaning to! Kinda proud.

Perhaps I should do a new challengey-thing each week? How about… read a play! There, that’s easy. ;) (Comment and tell me what you read!)

I hope you all had a nice week and are set up for the week to come!

Stay cool.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

TITLE: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
AUTHOR: Jesse Andrews
PUBLISHER: Allen & Unwin
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2015 (in the UK, orign. 2012)
NUMBER OF PAGES: 295
PRICE: £7.99
ISBN: 9781760290450
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from library
RATING: 4/5


Greg kind of hates everything: including himself. Earl is a Super Pissed sort-of friend who sometimes makes crappy movies with him. The dying girl got cancer during Greg’s senior year and his mum kinda sorta made them be friends. Which coincidentally kinda sorta ruined Greg’s life.

I read this book in the space of around 24 hours. I don’t normally read that fast (think about it: Pride and Prejudice took me 3 months and 6 days). That probably tells you there’s something special about this book.

When I was describing it to my friends, I called it, “a funnier version of The Fault in Our Stars,” but now I’d also like to add, “without the whole love thing in it.” Which, it turns out, is actually pretty great.

This isn’t a cancer book, but it’s about cancer. It’s not entirely happy but not entirely depressing. I’m not sure what the plot was – it seemed like a lot of subplots shoved together, which didn’t altogether go horrifically wrong like you would normally expect – but it was good.

The writing style was great and I think Andrews captured the persona of Greg perfectly. It was disgustingly hilarious, fast-paced and there were unnecessary, non-plot-forwarding detours about stupid stuff which somehow just made the book better. Some of it is told in a script format, too, which I kinda liked because I was reading it so fast that the script format just helped me to read it faster.

The persona of Greg: well, he was a bit of a twat, but perfect for narrating this novel. I found it a bit annoying how he constantly said that this novel was a piece of crap, but other than that, he was pretty good. Although… there was basically no character development. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing, yet, but it was something and I think in its own queer way, it added to the plot.

The other characters weren’t as fleshed out as Greg, but I don’t think that was a bad thing, as they didn’t need to be. There was enough of them in there to be realistic, and they were all so diverse (which is a good thing, by the way) as well.

This book isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it’s quite high up there and I really loved it. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but if you’re fairly open minded, not to bad with all the disgusting stuff and want a bit (okay, a lot) of a laugh, then I’d definitely recommend it.

The 8 Writing Apps I Have On My Phone

8 apps phone

Almost everyone has a smartphone these days, and my iPhone’d self is no different. I don’t always just use my phone for social media, though – sometimes I use it for writing stuff! So, today, I thought I’d share what writing apps I have on my phone and how I use them and hopefully inspire YOU to download some. (And you can check out my social media handles at the end, too. ;) )

IMG_8656

An actual image of my actual phone. With an actual dog in the actual background. I’m going to actual(ly) stop now.

  1. GoodReads (free). Okay, so this isn’t strictly writing as it is reading, but GoodReads is a marvel. I’ve found ARCs on GoodReads, and I like having it on my phone because I can scan barcodes to add new stories to my shelves (and this is basically really cool anyway). If I’m bored, I tend to just scour it for new stuff to read. And sometimes I daydream of adding my own book to their enormous database… :’)
  2. Writing Journal (free, £2.29 to upgrade (which is what I did)). This is probably my favourite writing app I currently use. Basically, you add your “project” (you have to upgrade to add more than 2) and set your target word count. When you start writing, start the timer. When you stop writing, stop the timer and add in the amount of words you achieved. It tells you how many words you done in total over your project and also cool stuff like how long you’ve spent on that project. I’d recommend upgrading, if you can. (And this app is brilliant during NaNoWriMo.)
  3. Kindle (free, sometimes costs to buy books). Also a reading app. I don’t really use the Kindle app that often, and I originally downloaded it for when I was out, or to download free, extra reading books for college (eg the Jerilderie Letter when I was studying the Kelly Gang). Pretty neat app but obviously not everyone likes reading from a screen. (Also, you can download documents yourself (for free! Although you do need an Amazon account (but this is also free!)), so you can carry your WIP everywhere and make editing notes on the go.)
  4. Wattpad (free). On Wattpad, you can post your own stories and read others. It’s where a few young writers each year get discovered (and they’re generally hits). On the app as well as the website you can post and edit your own stories and it’s a pretty cute app when I just fancy a read out and about. Some of the stories are trashy but some aren’t too bad.
  5. Hants Library (free). I live in Hampshire, England, so this app is personalised for me but I thought I’d include it anyway. Basically it tells me when all of my library books are due. SO. USEFUL.
  6. My Stories… (webpage, Miss Literati, free). I am a member of the ML community, and you can add websites as “apps” on iPhones, so this is what I have. Although I don’t use it that often.
  7. Duolingo (free). I like languages. I might not be very good at them, but I like them. On Duolingo (you may have heard of it, it’s quite famous and also has a webpage) you can learn languages for freeeeeee! Fantastic, eh? I don’t use this as much as I used to, but I’d like to get back into it now that exams are over (for this year, at least (the exams, that is)).
  8. WordHippo (webpage, free). Okay, if you’re a writer I really hope you’ve heard of this webpage. It’s one of the best sites I’ve found for writing. Like the Miss Literati page, this is a webpage I’ve bookmarked on my home screen and it’s great. The mobile version isn’t as clean as the webpage, but guys, just use it. You can find rhyming words, what words mean, synonyms, antonyms… It’s awesome. I love it.
  9. Dictionary.com app (now deleted, free). Okay so I deleted this app because I needed the memory and sometimes the notifications annoyed me (you can turn them off, I just deleted it before then) but this is a pretty nifty app and so useful in my English class. It gives you pretty cool words of the day, too.

Other apps I use in relation to my writing:

  • Twitter. This is a great handle for finding other writers and keeping your small army of fans updated on your writing endeavours. (Handle: @MB1098)
  • Snapchat. This is more personal and for friends, but if you want them to leave you alone without engaging in conversation (and you can send them all the same picture) then just send them a quick snap! And you can update just as easily, whilst posting your epic word count for the world to see. (Ask me if you want to add me!)
  • Instagram. Like Snapchat, this is also more personal and, I find, more difficult to get “followers” than Twitter, which limits your audience (me: Twitter: 265, IG: 89). However, it’s cool to share pictures and I follow so many book bloggers who post beautiful photos: It’s great. (IG: MidnightBeast1098)
  • Pinterest. This isn’t for connecting to people personally, but I often find some great inspiration on Pinterest. Link.

So, guys, what writing apps do you use? (Perhaps I’ll do websites in another article.)

Also, I use the notes app. A lot. I have about 50 beginnings of books, about the same number of endings and again the same number of premises… .-.

Book Discussion: Kindle vs. Paperback

BD; kindles vs. paperbacks

A few years ago, I was bought a Kindle for a Christmas present by my parents. Since then, I’ve downloaded quite a few books onto it (notably free or ARC ones) and occasionally I’ll read something on it. Most recently, I took it to a camp because we were going to read ghost stories. (We didn’t, in the end, but the sentiment was there.)

And yet, when you look in my bedroom, there are books everywhere. Honestly. On my bookshelf (obviously), on my desk, under my desk, by my bed, in my wardrobe, on top of my wardrobe… everywhere. (I probably need to clear some out soon, but whatever.) I always have a book with me (my mum’s even taken to reassuring guests that me constantly reading is, in fact, normal, and I’m not just strange) and even though my shoulders ache from carrying so many I take one everywhere, even if I don’t read it whilst I’m out. (Perhaps it just reassures me? I don’t really know.) I’m always on GoodReads or Amazon or The Book Depository looking for new books. I don’t necessarily buy them, but I just like seeing what’s still out there to read that I haven’t gotten around to yet.

On a black and white screen, it’s quite different. Especially as it’s now quite slow…

So which do I prefer? Well, I like my Kindle because I can take it everywhere and, hello, FREE BOOKS! But I like paperbacks because, to me, they feel like actual books. Like, they smell bookish, and you can drop them in the bath and face the wrath of the librarian (actually, she was rather nice about it) and you can throw them at people and they don’t run out of batteries. Admittedly the torch you’re using to read them under the covers might, but the actual books don’t.

Yes, I’m raising a debate which is often talked about in recent years, but isn’t it a good debate?!

You know what I think, so now I want to know what you think. Kindles/tablets/e-readers, or paperbacks/hardbacks? Screens vs. books? Which do you prefer? 

15/06/15

Hi everyone!

Welcome to a new week. I’m feeling quite jolly because I’ve been out driving today. Yes, beware: I have started to go out on the roads in a (probably dangerous) car! *gasps* Anyhoo, I hope you’re all well.

I have a challenge for you: try doing a sketch of something – it doesn’t need to take longer than 5 minutes – per day, every day this week! And then try it for the next week (14) days. And then the next (21). Why? Well a) drawing is fun, b) it means you can draw your characters/artwork/basically just really call stuff related to writing and c) there’s probably some sort of brain benefit in there somewhere. And, did you know that if you do something for 21 days it becomes a habit? It didn’t work entirely well for me with chocolate (I’m trying to give it up again, I really am), but it’s worked with other stuff! Like my diary writing – I feel uncomfortable if I don’t write in it at the end of the day, and I’ve done that for a few years now.

Have a fun week everyone, and remember to stay tuned for Wednesday’s Book Discussion and Friday’s writing post!

I’m actually going away over the weekend to look at a University so I don’t know if there’ll be a book review – I’m planning on reading a lot (4 hours in a car, whoo) so there might be, but I also don’t know when I’ll be back on Sunday. So, we’ll find out, I guess!

– Hannah

hannahbanana98.wordpress.com
@MB1098

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and Me

TITLE: The Geography of You and Me
AUTHOR: Jennifer E. Smith
PUBLISHER: Headline
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2014
NUMBER OF PAGES: 337
PRICE: £7.99
ISBN: 978-1-4722-0630-5
GOODREADS
PERSONAL SOURCE: Borrowed from the library
RATING: 4/5 (-1 for the wordiness)


Lucy and Owen meet in a lift in New York during a city-wide blackout. They’ve seen each other around for a couple of weeks before hand, but being stuck together with no one else sparks something between them. They spend the night together, but soon they’re being torn apart across the globe: from the UK to San Francisco, Prague to Portland. They send postcards when they can’t travel themselves; and, in their own searches for a home, discover sometimes that it’s a person, not a place, that anchors you most in the world.

I picked up this novel in the library after I’d seen the title and cover and decided I wanted to read it. Yup, it was purely based on that.

The novel… well, it started out boring. I was bored for the first 80 pages or so until it finally started to pick up. Even then I wasn’t particularly entertained for a hundred or so more pages. HOWEVER, I did like the actual plot, even if it was so elongated by the time I realised I liked the plot I was kinda dead inside. If it were more compact, I would definitely love this book.

The characters. Well, Lucy seemed pretty resilient and cool, and I preferred her to Owen, who wasn’t the most joyous of characters… even if what he said was far more optimistic than his co-protagonist. I connected with their relationship and Lucy, but not for Owen and his father. Which is probably why I preferred Lucy, who’s a bit of a loner and has literally no friends in New York (although she doesn’t mind it that way). Owen seemed more like a bouncy growing puppy who can’t fit into an old cupboard he used to be able to and now tries to be bouncy but is to down to do anything about it.

The relationships, however, were presented brilliantly in this novel; I enjoyed all of them (aside from two, but you should be able to figure those out). I loved the development between Lucy and her parents, too, which was written perfectly.

The writing itself seemed to switch between perfect and then a grammar slip up. But overall, it’s not badly written and I did like a few chapters where they were just one line, because I thought it fit in really well with the story and what the author was trying to achieve.

Overall, I probably wouldn’t reread this again, or if I did I’d only read the ending (it was so cutesy gah I’m gonna cry!). It’s a light, summer read and probably good for the beach or back garden, if you read there. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who likes action or that type of stuff: this is purely about romance and relationships between people, although I would still keep it in the YA genre and out of chick-lit. (And also, the cover is bea-utiful.)

A Step-By-Step Guide to Take Criticism Well and Learn From It

taking & learning from criticismMost writers seek out critiques, reviews, beta-readers, even their mum or dad, sibling or spouse to help them improve on their work. Some people can take even the harshest criticisms (note: a criticism isn’t, “Hey, your writing sucks!” That’s just hate and pretty dang nasty), and some can’t even take, “Well, your grammar needs work…” And so, here’s my step-by-step guide of how to take criticism well and learn from it. (Can you tell I’ve had a lot of criticism in my time?)

  1. Take a deep breath. Whatever your about to hear will criticise your writing, your work and what you’ve spent so much time on – and probably negatively at that. So make sure you’re calm before opening it. Even if much of it is positive, take a deep breath anyway ’cause if you squeal in delight too quickly you’ll probably get hiccups.
  2. Read the criticism. Just the once. Work out your initial reaction. If you’re super upset, angry or frustrated, don’t do anything. Just have a cup of tea or coffee or whatever works for you and take yourself away from your work for a little while. Come back with a fresh, calm head. It’s ok to be upset if the criticism is very negative. Hell, have a cry if you want. But basically what I’m trying to say here is: don’t do anything rash which might damage you, your work and/or your reputation AND/OR, a friendship with someone (eg angrily emailing the person who gave you the critique and saying they’re a blithering idiot who shouldn’t even be allowed to read other people’s work). 
  3. Once you’re calm, read the criticism again, and then once more but slowly. It’ll help you to take it all in, and by the third time you’ve read it (make sure to read it slowly: by this time, you’ll know the text and can tend to skip over the words. Don’t. Read it properly) you’ll be calm and knowing what to do next as well as knowing the text well enough to be able to mull it over when you don’t have it in front of you.
  4. Thank the person who gave you the critique. Just a simple email, text or if you can see them face to face say “thanks” to them. A good critique takes a long time, so thank them for their time, even if it’s quite negative. And they might even help you out again! – And, they’ll probably be more likely to if you’re nice to them.
  5. Make a plan of what to do next. Did they continually pick up on your grammar/spelling/punctuation? Do they think the romance is too fake? Is the main character too perfect or too flawed to be believable? A step-by-step plan helps you in your organisation and it also means you won’t forget anything if you just tick it off.
  6. Work through your plan and implement it in your work and hopefully you’ll get a better piece of work from it! 
  7. Give yourself a pat on the back and do something enjoyable. You’ve done pretty well.

Remember that critiques are designed to help you, not hinder you. Just make sure that the person knows what they’re doing as much as possible. If you can, get more than one critique of your work and compare them before acting on them. If the critiquers are saying the same thing, then that’s probably something to work on. If only one is saying something (or, worse, if one says they hate something and the other loves it) it’s probably safe to use your own judgement here, or even seek a third opinion if you can find one.

Don’t take negative criticism as a, “Hey, you suck!” It might just mean a, “Hey, you know if you worked on this it would help you a lot…” And remember, as I say a lot, writing is meant to be enjoyable. So enjoy it. (As much as possible anyway; I mean, sometimes those characters can be right old codgers.)