Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Gendered Aspect of Religion in Musicals

Nonnberg Convent
Flickr Credit: Rhiannon Boyle
(The actual abbey from the musical and everything.)
My dad and I popped downtown on Saturday to see The Sound of Music! It was great. The music, the humor, and the spirituality were all a big draw for me—in the case of the last one, I really liked the portrayal of a female aspect of God.

Maria, the main character, begins her story as a nun-in-training. The musical opens on her life at the abbey and her relationship with the nuns, which lasts maybe half an hour into the show. To put it another way, it takes half an hour for the first male character to hit the stage.

I can think of musicals that open with just men and with both men and women, but it isn’t very often that it’s just women who open the show. That’s a cool way to start.

The nuns and the abbey matter beyond the opening. This is a musical about Maria’s ability to love others as a result of God’s presence in her life. Since the abbey is the source from which Maria “receives godliness,” or whatever you want to call it, God is presented in a very female way.

It starts with the Mother Abbess. Though Maria doesn’t quite fit in at the abbey, the Mother Abbess speaks to her as a person. She offers her support through beginning, middle, and end, not just as a religious leader but also a friend and mother. Even though Maria has no future as a nun, the Mother Abbess still wants the best possible life for her. There’s no doubt that Maria would not be the same person without that female guidance or holy authority in her life.

Though the other nuns are not characterized as much as the Mother Abbess, they also appear several times to support Maria. First, when Maria leaves the abbey, then when she returns, when she is married, and when she escapes Austria. There are always women of God around to build her up.

In contrast, the only male authority in the church appears when Maria and the Captain get married. A priest marries them and he says, like, two things and goes away. The true celebration is with the nuns, who are glad to see Maria spending her love in a family where she belongs.

Basically, the spiritual identity of the show is feminine by design. The greater masculine presence appears in the show’s other conflict: World War II. The Nazis who corral Maria’s husband towards serving the Third Reich are all men and have no religious association. Their aim is war, and so the Von Trapp family must choose between the heavily masculine entity of bloodshed and death against the heavily feminine presence of compassion and salvation. They choose God.

This fascinates me because I can’t think of many other musicals that make spirituality so feminine. There’s The Lion King, where all of the spirituality was conducted through Rafiki. There’s one scene where Sarabi, Nala, and Rafiki mourn together after Simba and Mufasa’s deaths—similarly giving the spiritual realm a more feminine identity. But, since the musical belongs to Simba, those moments don’t remain as constant a focus.

The Lion King is an exception. Though spirituality is an important theme in many musicals, most of the time they revolve around a male aspect of God. Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, Les Mis, Joseph—they’re spiritual dudefests, from the king’s appeal to Buddha to “Bring Him Home.” Spirituality is conducted by and through men.

Even in musicals with female main characters, if spirituality is a topic it is likewise under a masculine influence. Annie’s salvation comes in the form of a father figure. As does Christine’s in Phantom of the Opera. Dorothy has her Wizard. Eliza, Henry Higgins. Even if there isn’t any explicit religious message, many musicals are about how men (or masculine aspect spiritualities) empower women—or so they’d like you to think.

Maria’s story isn’t absent of men. She has her romance and even a love triangle. But as much as her story is about loving her family, it is also about being loved by a God of female aspect. It’s about rising to womanhood with the aid of mothers and sisters who leave something that will stick with her all the way to America.

I think that’s why Maria throws herself at the feet of the Mother Abbess at the end of the show. She is leaving so much behind, but she is also taking so much with her. And it is all thanks to those women—the Mother Abbess, the nuns, and God.

I love that.

Do you think a gendered presentation of religion in literature makes a difference? 


Monday, June 27, 2016

Don't Forget to Freewrite

Freedom
Flickr Credit: Moyan Brenn
Editing a novel can be depressing.

It isn’t always the fact that it takes a really long time, or that all the problems with your writing jump out, or that you hate your characters, or are getting really tired because it’s 11:49PM and you’re trying to hit your word count for the day. These all contribute to the daily dose of misery, of course, but they aren’t always everything.

For me, everything is the fact that editing is nothing new. I begin editing by rewriting the manuscript four or five times (and I draft short, which is why this is also necessary). I just make my ideas longer. A first draft, “He was short” becomes “My brother was three inches shorter than me” becomes “Yogi had the misfortune to be named Yogi and be three inches shorter than his younger sister, me.”

But that’s a deceiving process. Even when I wrote that tiny first draft sentence, I already had the third draft idea rocking around in my head somewhere. Maybe I hadn’t vocalized it yet or didn’t know how to phrase it, but I had the concept down. My editing is not really “writing” in the sense of creating something—it’s more like broadening a concept until it makes sense to me and others.

I have never named one of my characters Yogi, by the way. Yogi is my neighbor’s dog.

Anyway, broadening concepts gets boring after a while. There’s only so long that I can bear to review the things I already have in my head. When that happens, I feel like I hate all writing. And writing was a struggle over this last week, when I’ve been trying to get my latest draft finished before the end of June. I learned these things:

a) just because it seems like you hate writing doesn’t mean you do
b) if it seems like you hate writing then it’s possible you just hate broadening concepts
c) one way to remind yourself that you like writing is to freewrite

Freewriting. I don’t date my work (the creative stuff, anyway) so I can’t give an exact time period, but I’ve made almost my entire writing life about editing for months. I didn’t freewrite. And it was terrible.

I like writing because it is fun to make new stuff. Among other things. I don’t really have any other thoughts on that—it just needs to be said. Editing is about making that stuff better, but is often less fun than the actual making. And focusing on the editing can be a little depressing sometimes.

For some reason I picked up a notebook and I freewrote. It was incredibly enjoyable. And I am making note of its enjoyable-ness, so I don’t forget again. Because it matters.

I encourage you to freewrite, too. I don’t care if you throw it away or turn it into a novel. Just remember that sometimes, writing is fun not because you make it better, but because you wrote out the crap in the first place. And you will love that crap because it is yours.

What could be better than that?

Do you make freewriting part of your writing routine?

Monday, June 20, 2016

I Declare a Vacation

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Sometimes you just need to declare a blogging vacation. I have no particular reason. I just feel like it.

In the meantime, I wish you many episodes of Bob's Burgers and attractive turtles to join you on your journeys.

See you next week!

Heather

Saturday, June 18, 2016

#RW Update 4 and Fantasy Pride Display

I am reading…
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
On the Edge of Gone by Corrine Duyvis
And the Bride Wore White by Dannah Gresh
23/30 books finished

Pride flag
Flickr Credit: Quinn Dombrowski
We’re coming up on a week since the Orlando shooting. It’s hard to find words to put voice to such a tragedy—not just because hate crimes like these cause such unspeakable pain, but because I am an outsider to the community victimized by this event. It’s hard to find words because my voice isn’t really the one that needs to be heard.

There are many LGBT+ voices responding to the Orlando shooting right now and they are without a doubt worth listening to. But if we—as outsiders, as a society, as anybody—only listen in the wake of tragedy… I’d want to use a word stronger than “contemptible” but that’s the one I’m going to use.

For things to get better, we have to listen, and listen every day. Since it’s LGBTQ+ Pride Month, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite voices that I’ve heard over the last few months. Like a library display of my favorite novels and other works with LGBTQ+ characters and voices. Except online, because I’m poor.

Some of these are #ownvoices (most best), some of these just have really entertaining queer characters, some of these have an LGBTQ+ author but it doesn’t always come up in the story (which I think is still valid).

Real Life Type Stuff

Honor Girl by Maggie Thresh
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

KidLit and YA

George by Alex Gino
Half Bad by Sally Green
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Beyond the Red by Ava Jae
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
On the Edge of Gone by Corrine Duyvis
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Adult

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Angels in America by Tony Kushner
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Wit by Margaret Edson

They’re Graphic Novels So They Kinda Work For All Age Groups I Think

Ares: Bringer of War by George O’Connor
Apollo: The Brilliant One by George O’Connor


Yup. Those are the books I would set out. I feel like if I were an amazing blogger I would tell you why I loved them or what exactly to look for in the books or something along those lines… But nah. In many ways I think these books speak for themselves. And if they don’t, they all have reviews on Goodreads.

And, I suppose, even though I couldn’t put these onto an actual display, since we’re here there are a few more links to click on:

Rosaline is an adorable little fairy tale with a lesbian romance and also the heroine is not useless at all. In case you need a smile in the next five minutes.

Engie over at Musings from Neville’s Navel wrote a really important response post to the Pulse Shooting and came up with a nifty resource list, too. Although ‘nifty’ is probably too cheery a word, on second thought.

Finally, Topaz over at Six Impossible Things released a totally free eBook of poetry, and I think this tweet pretty much sums up everything I want to say right now, except go download it.


My heart goes out to the victims of the Pulse shooting and their families. They remain in my prayers, and they remain a reason for many, many others to keep speaking, and for people like me to keep listening. We just gotta.


Are you reading anything in honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month?


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursentary: Let's Talk! What Are You Reading?

Untitled
Flickr Credit: Chiara Cremaschi
After relaxing with an episode of Sherlock and then getting interested in the filibuster I didn’t really think about what I was going to post today. I mean, I could write something about Sherlock Holmes or Cruel Beauty, because I’ve been meaning to—but hey. It isn’t every day that a filibuster happens and you get to watch. (Just look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.)

I’m gonna keep it simple today.

Between work and volunteering at my church all week as an A/V tech, I’ve had hours and hours to read, which is why I have finished so many books. (And, like I said, the last time I devoured books with such vigor and lack of discrimination was eighth grade, I think—which was actually the summer I discovered my favorite series.)

Anyway, I thought I’d share what I’ve been reading over the last few days and then get some thoughts on what you’re reading, too!
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
  • Click Here (To Find Out How I Survived Seventh Grade) by Denise Vega [review]
  • Shadows of Asphodel by Karen Kincy [review]
  • Stung by Bethany Wiggins
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  • Say Cheese, Medusa! by Kate McMullen

My favorites were The Outsiders and Stars Above (although only the former broke my heart), but these are actually all quite good. Stung and Shadows of Asphodel are the most problematic, for entirely different reasons I shan’t explain this instant. But despite all those troubles, I feel quite sure here that that these are all beautiful books and I regret reading 0% of them.

They were all just nice. *sighs with happiness and joy*


Enough about me, though—tell me about you! What books have you read this week, and which ones were your favorites?


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

CarRecs: Yes, It's a Pun

You can’t tell me that there isn’t something magical about cars.

I know they’re just transportation. People put their political opinions on the back of them, and they are the biggest cause of death for most people my age. They live in the background. But even though I can’t change my oil and I’m screwed if the check engine light comes on, there’s something great about cars. They matter—especially when they show up in books and on TV. That’s why today I’m giving you some CarRecs.

That’s right. I recommend you stuff based on the fact that there are cars in them. I’m a genius, I know.

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Books

Holes by Louis Sachar | The water truck carries the only drink for miles at Camp Green Lake. That truck becomes the source of life for Stanley Yelnats as he works in the hot, hot sun—and the source he tries to abscond with when his friend Zero runs away.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton | The blue Mustang belongs to Ponyboy’s enemies: the Socs. It is by that car that Ponyboy recognizes his attackers and their wealth. In this way, the Socs ride a chariot heralding their most abrasive difference: class.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer | Bella’s truck reflects her relationships with her friends and family. Her dad bought it for her and even changed the bald tires because he cares. He loves her. It also ties Bella to Jacob since he built the car, especially since she goes on to visit him in it. And Edward mostly sees it as a death trap—but that matters too. In her steadfast adherence to her truck, Bella also holds onto her independence and right to choose where she travels. Even unto death.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz | Ari’s truck is also a symbol of independence and freedom. This is especially interesting because another car comes to represent sacrifice, suffering, and a loss of freedom. Each car functions differently to draw him to a new truth.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater | Though he’s rich, Gansey has an old orange camero called “The Pig.” He wouldn’t have it any other way because that’s how he expresses himself. Or, at least, presents himself. And it’s about freedom when Adam jacks the Pig later on.

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Movies and TV

Supernatural | I can’t speak for the whole series just yet (I’m stuck waiting for season three), but a few things matter about the Impala: it was a gift from Dean’s father, it is their home on the road, and, above all, it is Dean’s. It’s a friggin’ awesome car, but it matters because it ties him to his family and hunting—the only life he’s ever known. Also, Dean is afraid of flying.

Leverage | Lucille is Hardison’s nerd van. This matters not so much because the car itself has a character but because Hardison characterizes his car. Hardison sees life and importance in technology, but as much as it matters to him, he always sacrifices his technology to save his people.

James Bond | Bond’s iconic car is an Aston Martin, and you can find pictures of Connery, Brosnan, and Craig with it. You watch the movies and see this car and think, “this is what a spy looks like.” Spies, for your information, look very cool.

The Dark Knight Rises | The Batmobile (or Tumbler, I guess, whatever) matters in this movie because while Batman used it for good, Bane and his legions use it to oppress people and hurt them. It isn’t about the car itself, but how it is used, that changes our perceptions of it.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | TEENS AND CARS AND FREEDOM I WILL STOP AFTER THIS. While most of the show is about using the car to live life at its fullest, its ultimate fate is actually a great source of empowerment to Cameron—he refuses to be ruled by fear any longer.

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Songs

“Cars” by Gary Numan | I think some of this song is meant to be ironic (as in, making fun of the world as it is) but it also feels like my life sometimes. Is that good or bad?

“Speed of Love” by Owl City | Adam Young has such a way with words. The imagery references driving while looking out at the sky (I think) and I think it is both romantic and poetic in the best of ways.

“Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers | The theology in this song is terrible, but it interests me that even though this song is from the 1960’s, fatal car crashes remain a contemporary concern for teenagers.

“Drive My Car” by The Beatles | This is one of those fun, boppy things that I don’t think makes a ton of sense. Maybe driving your boyfriend around is romantic? Oh, well.

“Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts | Cars bored me out of my mind as a movie but this is a catchy song.


And there you have it—fifteen CarRecs that aren’t going to threaten your life or cost a lot of money. Well, unless you die of emotions. I can’t help you there.

What books or movies do you like that have important cars? Why are they important? And—did you like this post? Do you want to see all the other forms of transportation I can talk about? Because I can.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Social Media Survey Results

Good day, mortal. You may remember that for a week and a half I nagged people to take a social media survey for my own devious purposes. The results are in! Special thanks to Katie Grace for suggesting I share the results because it didn’t occur to me that you would care.

Read that in a nice voice.

Anyway, here are the graphs of the results from the survey. Not all of the questions and responses are the verbatim of what was on the survey—that is just for the sake of space. They all convey the same point. Also, sorry for the fuzzy graphs.


It looks like most of the people in this blogging community have a blog. Whoda thunk. At any rate, I feel most compelled by the sites that over half of the fifteen respondents said they use, which includes Goodreads, Bloglovin’, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.


Hard to draw any real conclusions with a small survey base and varied answers, but perhaps it’s telling that the top three answers were 3-6 hours, 1-3 hours, and > 12 hours.

To give you some perspective, a couple people spend anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour on social media every day and the most number of people (six) spend between half an hour and fifty minutes on social media every day. And then there are the people who spend at least two hours on social media every day.

Shout out to those people.


It looks like most people are comfortable sharing non-personal writing on their social media, which makes sense. My audience is mostly book and writing bloggers. While talking about The Raven Cycle may be a deeply personal experience for some people, it is also not the kind of thing that can lead me to your house.

Along that train of thought, if many of my followers are also writers, then it makes sense that you’d be spending a lot of time building a rep outside of your normal friend group.

And then, I assume, are the Bookstagrammers and photography bloggers.


EVERYBODY LIKES BLOGGING I GET IT. (The graph is weird, by the way, because some people were more specific in their loving of blogs, so I was specific in my data-sharing. But the long bar is the grand total.)

After the blogging, Goodreads and Twitter are the top choices. This doesn’t surprise me, either. We all like to read here, and, well, Twitter is Twitter. And that’s why we love it, too.


Basically comment back and respond to tweets. The way to really milk social media is to be social. My favorite. Still, here are a few of my favorite thoughts in response to this question:

I really like any question that you can answer as a reader, whether that's on the end of a blog post or a tweet.
Chat with me!
Commenting on blogs is always good, but I think Twitter is the most interactive.

Anyway, I don’t really have an action plan for what I want to do with this just yet—but I’m putting it out here so that you know and I know and everybody knows about what happened when I made a survey. Ta-da.


What do you think of the results? Do any of the numbers surprise you? Is there any social media advice you think is worth adding to the mix?


Friday, June 10, 2016

WBI: Bartok

ANASTASIA FANDOM. ARISE AND FULFILL YOUR DARK PURPOSE!

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In 1916, Rasputin’s plans to kill the entire royal family fell through ice. Ten years later, Bartok the Bat sees the return of the lost duchess Anastasia and the reanimation of his master’s cursed relic—thus reunited with Rasputin to seal the fate of the Romanov family at last.

WBI Profile

Classification :: Θ347
Role :: Henchman (Rasputin’s servant)
Motivation :: Psychology (loyalty), Insubordination (employee), Personal/Material Gain (an end to Rasputin’s plots)

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His Significance To…

Rasputin—Bartok is Rasputin’s friend. He offers to teach him to dance and is always there for moral support, but he doesn’t actually assist in the murdering.

Anastasia—despite being Rasputin’s friend, Bartok spends a good deal of his time trying to convince the guy not to kill Anastasia. Go get a life, he says, let’s go dancing, he says. Forget the girl.

the movie—and, at the end of all things, Bartok doesn’t really do anything significant. His actions do not set anything important in motion; his main role is comic relief.

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Notable Actions

remaining loyal—it is a special person who will hang onto your stuff for ten years, join you in limbo, replace your mislaid eyeballs and thumbs, and then come along for the ride when you assassinate a lost noble.

defending Anastasia—again, Bartok doesn’t really want to kill Anastasia. He’s a bat. He eats fruit and likes girl bats. He’s with Rasputin out of loyalty, not because he believes in the cause.

leaving Rasputin—finally, when Rasputin really is in a position to kill Anastasia, Bartok backs out: “You’re on your own, sir! This can only end in tears!”

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Big Idea

comic relief—if the GIFs haven’t clued you in, this guy is hilarious. He has some of the best one-liners in the movie (and, considering how many one-liners there are in this movie, that is quite the compliment). In this way, Bartok relieves some of the darkness of the story. Rasputin—in the movie and in real life—was a shady dude. This way, it’s a little more palatable for a family movie.

the face of cute (I mean, evil)—let’s be honest. Bartok is not really evil. HE IS ADORABLE. He has funny lines and a little bat face and bat wings and he’s white and sweet. Rasputin is, truly, scum. Dirty, evil, corrupted, awful. And yet his partner is the face of innocence. More on that in a sec.

voice of conscience—lest you think that Bartok is unimportant, let me remind you there’s more to him than humor. His thoughts supplant his lack of action; he tries to dissuade Rasputin from killing Anastasia. Bartok is the voice of morality. He encourages his master to not do the bad thing and do something good and fun instead. Rasputin, of course, never listens, but he is never immune to the voice of goodness pushing back on his plans.

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It is, in fact, Bartok’s morality that makes him an interesting henchman because he is a) good and b) imaginary.

His character might be imaginary, anyway. Followed by a little white bat, I argue that Rasputin superimposes the personification of his moral compass upon the little guy. Anastasia’s animals don’t talk unless part of Rasputin’s perspective, as with Bartok and the bugs in “In the Dark of the Night.” Bartok doesn’t interact with any other humans. And, again, Bartok’s main contribution is trying to do the right thing and spare Anastasia.

If this is true, then we also get an idea of how Rasputin characterizes his morality—as a foil to himself. Bartok is small, pure white, and in good shape. This contrasts Rasputin’s looming, dark figure, which is both morally corrupt and in the process of physical decay. Bartok can fly free; Rasputin sold his soul and faces imprisonment in the afterlife. Bartok suggests alternatives to evil; Rasputin remains hell-bent on the destiny decided a decade ago. But there’s more: Bartok always refers to Rasputin as “sir.” In this way, Rasputin is always the master of morality. He is never in a position where he must compromise; there is never a time when he doesn’t have the power to choose.

What does that say about Bartok, I wonder? Rasputin was never forced to be good, but he wasn’t forced to be evil, either. He chose—and with such a moral character following him around, could he have chosen to be good in the end, too?

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What’s your favorite part of the movie Anastasia? And, tell me, what do you think of Bartok?


Hey, just one last thing, dear mortals. If you haven’t already filled in my social media survey, I would love to hear your voice!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Do You Read More Male or Female Authors?

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Flickr Credit: Plashing Vole

As I tell you every other Saturday, I am only reading books by women this summer. Hopefully thirty of them. I say hopefully because, man, this is harder than I thought.

It isn’t that I don’t have books to read, or that I’m not reading right now. I’m right on track in terms of the books I’ve already read. I have more than a few thoughts to share about the things I’ve noticed so far and curious to find out more about the trends I notice as I move forward in the challenge. It’s just… it would be nice to read a book by a guy right about now.

There’s no really great reason why. I suspect that some of it has to do with my love for rereading—I’m not reading many of my favorite books this summer because they were authored by men. And I suspect that, in some way, it might have to do with me and my habits.

Reading challenges aside, I tend to read more books by men than women.

I’ve asked before if anyone else felt like male voices dominated in their school reading. In the comments section of that post, many people said that whatever their school reading, their personal reading habits favored female authors. I thought I was the same, except I just went and tallied up the count.



I started keeping track of the books I read in August 2013, so this compares the ratios up to today. N/A refers to books that were written by three or more people or attributed to a publisher rather than a person. Books with both a male and female author each got the book counted in their stats. And since I did this all last night, I’m sure that there are a few errors, but consider it close enough.

So: I tend to read more books by guys.

At least, I’m pretty sure I used to. I didn’t last year and I might not this year, but it certainly looks that way to me. I’ve only read books by women since May, and I’ve still read more books by men this year! Without this challenge, you’d see more blue on that pie chart for sure.

Knowing that fact, it leaves me with the question: What does it mean? Does it say something about where I look for books? The kind of books I’m more willing to reread? Maybe even the kind of style I prefer? At the very least is says something about choice. Yes, I feel like I don’t read enough female perspectives at school, but I am the one who chose to binge-read series by Jim Toomey, George O’Connor, John Flanagan, and Mark Walden over the two and a half years.

But in the end, this is really more of a source of curiosity than a real issue for me. So what if I tend to enjoy and reread male authors more? Plenty of people do, and plenty of people don’t. Both are okay. I just want to know the right answer behind it all—even if, in a case like this, there’s no such thing.

Don't worry about me, really! I have Malinda Lo and Maya Angelou waiting for me, and they're gonna be totally awesome. It's just my darn hungry eyes...

Your turn! What about you? Do you find that you read works by more male authors in your personal reading? More female authors? Nonbinary authors? Why do you think that is?


Monday, June 6, 2016

The Power of Words Tag

I am stealing this tag from Alex McCarron of Third Star to the Right. Because I am a malicious being and I take whatever it is I want and MAKE IT MY OWN. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

WORDS
Flickr Credit: Pierre Metivier
Sa Mga Lagda:
  • thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog (thanks, me, your thieving skills are on point)
  • answer the original six text-themed questions
  • add a typography/word-related question of your own for those you tagged to answer
  • tag six or more bloggers and let them know
  • include these rules in your post

What is your favorite letter of the alphabet? Though I am tempted to say H, it is actually the letter Z! Which reminds me of a joke:

Me, joke-teller: What is a pirate’s favorite letter?
Them, my oh-so-clever audience: It’s R, like, you know, arrrrr!
Me, laughing in their moronic faces: Ah, you’d think it might be R, but it actually be the C!

I got that one from my tenth grade English teacher. Editorials by me.

What are three words you love? Dean, Doom, and Okie-Dokie

What are three words you hate? To Be Continued

If you were to create a word, what would it be, and what would it describe? Loincow, noun, a cow whose fate is to be skinned so that its leather can be turned into a loincloth.

What are your three favorite punctuation marks? Period. (Parentheses) M-Dash—pretty much.

What are your three favorite fonts? Calibri, Times New Roman, and Verdana, probably. I just write with them the most.

Bonus Question: If you could change the way one word sounded, which would it be and how would it sound? Wiper would sound like viper because of that other joke that is too long to tell you right now.

Bonus Question: Do you know of a word that looks better than it sounds? Murder. Because it just seems so nice and then you say it out loud and people start to edge away from you during your chemistry lab.

WORD UP.

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Because, y’know, this is the nineties. Anyway, I am picking six lucky folks to be tagged, and they are named Sunny, Shanti, Liz, Imogen, Ally, and Opal! My question for you is this: What are three words you mispronounced when you first said them aloud because you’d only ever read them before? (Aphrodite, Korea, insomnia)

TELL ME YOUR WORDY SECRETS. Pick a couple questions and tell me what your answers would be!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

#RW Update 3 and May Report Card

I am reading…
Ash by Malinda Lo
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
La Casa de Los Espíritus by Isabel Allende
11/30 books finished

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Flickr Credit: Brent Leimenstoll
What is life without grades? Meaningless, hahahahahaha. Just kidding. But, because it is now June, it is time for a status update regarding my #ReadWomen summer and a few of my favorite reads.

1. Read 30 books by women—11/30 complete! So far, so good.
2. Read ONLY books by women.—also so far so good. Although Buzzfeed is a different story.
3. Read 2 plays—0/2 complete. Note to self: find some plays.
4. Read 3 autobiographies—3/3 maybe? I need to research the difference between a memoir and an autobiography. But I’ve read some memoirs.
5. Read 1 graphic novel—0/1 complete. Not yet. Must find.
6. Read 1 book of poetry—2/1 complete. But they were like novel-ish-things told through poetry. Which counts.
7. Read 1 book in another language—0/1 complete. I am ALMOST done with Allende’s novel. I will be done by the end of next week!
8. Listen to 2 books on audiobook (preferably #ownvoices)—0/2 complete. Gotta find something to read. Gotta.
9. Read 15 diverse books—7/15 complete. I’m ahead of schedule, here.
10. Read at least 10 new books (that is, books I haven’t read before)—9/10 complete. WHICH IS IMPRESSIVE. I hate reading new things! But I have read them. Go me.
11. Read 10 eBooks—2/10 complete. Yeah. Still need to work on this one.
12. Read 10 books from the TBR list—4/10 complete. Right on track, for now. Plenty of room for random books, too.
13. Review at least 5 of these books on Goodreads—1/5 complete. The problem is that I only feel compelled to review if I dislike a book and no one else has disliked it. So, we’ll see how that goes.

Overall, I think my goals are right on track. BUT, you ask, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING? Let me tell you.

via Amazon
Best book this month? It is a tie between Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar or else The Color Purple by Alice Walker. They’re very different, but they are both so powerful I must adore them.

Worst book this month? Elsie's Life Lessons: Walking in the Fruit of the Spirit by Elizabeth DeBeasi. It suggested that resisting abusive behavior is unchristian. Also standing up for yourself. Which is bad.

Book that got you out of your comfort zone? The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson. Big picture, this is a woman’s account of building a family with her gender fluid partner. But the hard part is that she often brings up academic ideas (she works at a university) and it was difficult to process everything she was getting at in one go.

Most surprising book this month? The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan delighted me—I don’t read too much MG anymore. Even though it’s MG-level, it deals with really profound ideas like diversity, food deserts, and death.

Most disappointing book this month? Dear Ellen Bee by Mary E. Lyons and Muriel M. Branch. I liked it as a kid, but I felt like it emphasized the “white savior” trope by making you feel like the freed slave girl was always in the wrong compared to her white ex-owner.

Book from this month you’d recommend to anybody? Probably The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It’s an adult novel with a YA feel since there is not adult content in there. I can’t say that for most of the other books I read this month.


It was a good reading month, I’ll say!

Your turn, mortals! What was your favorite book you read this book? And what book surprised you?


Friday, June 3, 2016

What Social Media Do You Use?

I have been telling myself that I need to be better at social media for a long time. Facebook reminds me that it has been about three months since I posted on the Sometimes I'm a Story Facebook page, and I've sort of stopped tweeting anything blog related.

And it isn't that I don't like social media, because I go on it all the time. I just don't like talking about me on my social media. Or maybe not me specifically but definitely not what I write about. Which is bad, because being in a blogging community sort of requires talking about writing, your own and that of others, because blogging involves writing. Whoda thunk.

Anyway, I'd like to get better about reaching out to people on social media, for selfish reasons and some less selfish ones. If you have three minutes, I'd love to hear about your social media habits and how I can catch up with you online. Thanks for your thoughts, guys!

(If you can't see the form below for some reason, BEHOLD: the link.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Hamilton Book Tag

I don’t know who invented book tags but thank you. And now… HAMILTON BOOK TAG WHAAAAAT


Rules:
thank the person who tagged you and link back to their blog
link back to the original post
match each song listed with a book of your choice based on the criteria given
tag tag tag!
let people know that you’ve tagged them

via Goodreads

ALEXANDER HAMILTON :: a book with an underdog protagonist

If Celie is not an underdog in The Color Purple by Alice Walker, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s like her life is a sandwich of abuse and tragedy. But somehow it is beautiful.

(Side fact—this book is also a musical.)

MY SHOT :: a book that made you want to RISE UP and tell everyone about it

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which I did, as evidenced right here:
via Goodreads

THE SCHUYLER SISTERS :: a book with some kickass sisters

Blah, I need to find kickass sister books this summer because I haven’t read any yet! I’ll fall back on Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, in which the sisters are not only kickass, but crazy-ass, too. (Just sayin’.)

YOU’LL BE BACK :: a book you know you’ll read again

This is silly—I am a rereader in general. But still. I want to buy and reread The Host by Stephenie Meyer because it is one of two alien stories that I really, really like. Humanity through the eyes of another… it is… depressing, but good.

via Goodreads

HELPLESS :: a book you couldn’t help but buy

Thanks to Amazon’s kidlit eBook sale the other day, I am now the proud owner of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Because really, guys. How could you resist Sherman Alexie?


DEAR THEODOSIA :: a book that blew you away

Beloved by Toni Morrison. I promise that it is a necessary read—it will break you into dust before it blows you into the wind.

via Goodreads

NON-STOP :: a book you couldn’t stop reading

I read Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson yesterday. The poetry made it easy to keep going and going like the Energizer bunny. Also, I liked it. Also, I wanted an even ten books for May.

CABINET BATTLE #1 :: a book you would always defend in an argument

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, mostly because it’s the only book I’ve been reading that really needs me to defend it. Which I’ve been meaning to do this summer. Note to self.

via Goodreads

THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENS :: a book with a unique setting

Take a moment to think of setting not just as the physical spot in which a story is set, but also the cultures, norms, and identities that make that spot more than a patch of dirt. Okay? Okay. Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts got me going one day when I realized that the gender dynamics didn’t bother me.

I was at work washing a mirror and it occurred to me, “THERE ARE GIRL SUPERS AND BOY SUPERS AND IT ISN’T EVEN A BIG DEAL!”

Superhero stories are often guy-centric (hi Marvel, hi DC). But a girl narrates this story. She has friends who are girls. And she knows girls. There are girls. Good girls, bad girls. Moms. College girls. Grandma girls. But the grandma sold magic drugs, I think; she didn’t have powers.

IT’S QUIET UPTOWN :: a book that left you speechless (and/or emotionally devastated)

The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis was an emotional whirlwind that also was sad. And happy. And confusing. And just… being a teenager is hard, man.

via Goodreads

THE ELECTION OF 1800 :: a book revolving around a competition

I like this song because it includes women in the story of how Jefferson came to be president. Just because women didn’t vote doesn’t mean they didn’t pay attention to the elections, or even share some small voice in the matter.

I submit Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay because, in many ways, gender equality has been competition-ish-y for-basically-ever. Feminism advocates for women getting to compete with fair rules. But it’s also nice when women aren’t erased from history.

WHO LIVES, WHO DIES, WHO TELLS YOUR STORY :: a book with a memorable narrator

Finally, Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I don’t think she was memorable just because her own stories were hilarious and meaningful, but somehow, she managed to make them personal for me, too.

Also: Sir Patrick Stewart reads haikus about boobs and if that does not appeal to you then I officially give up.

via
TAGS! Tags for Alexa and Aimee because I know they like Hamilton.

Okay, first you must tell me your favorite Hamilton songs, and then tell me the books that go with them. Please.