Summer Movies + TV: “Jurassic World,” “Sense8,” & More!

Hi, everyone! Today I’m talking about MOVIES. And TV. I loooove watching movies, and I love watching them in the movie theater – especially in the summer, when the darkness and cool temperatures of the theater are such a welcome change from the ANNOYING heat of Indiana summers. Ugh.

And as for TV? Well, I don’t watch very many shows (and when I do, I generally use the Internet and not the actual TV) but when I do get into a TV show, I get REALLY into it. There are maybe five or six TV shows I am passionate about and that’s it.

I think one of my issues with TV is that it takes a lot longer to watch an entire season of one show than it takes to watch a movie. And when I’m distracted or busy, I stop watching – so by the time I resume watching the show, I’ve usually forgotten the earlier bits! However, summer is nice because there’s bigger chunks of free time… which makes it easier to watch things!

So, anyway. Over the last few days I’ve talked about my bookish goals for this summer, which you can read here and here. Today, I’m talking about some of the things I’d like to watch this summer, organized according to the following list:

  • Movies I’d like to watch in the theater
  • Some movies I want to borrow from the library
  • Miscellaneous movie-watching ideas
  • Sense8, a new show that looks AWESOME
  • A few thoughts about some other shows

Enjoy!

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Jurassic World

Release date: June 12

The original movie was one of my favorites from childhood, and I’ve seen it so many times. And then when I was older, I read the book (by Michael Crichton) and LOVED it even more! I didn’t enjoy the second and third movies, though, and honestly never thought there’d ever be a fourth movie. But there is! Or rather, there will be! And I am SO EXCITED for it! DINOSAURS. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH OMG.

Side note: And when Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens comes out in December, I’m pretty much going to explode with happiness. I loooved both Jurassic Park and Star Wars when I was a little kid, but never thought there would be any more sequels. I am slightly miffed that John Williams isn’t composing for Jurassic World; instead, Michael Giacchino is. I mean… I like his work, too, but he’d BETTER include that lovely, breathtaking theme from the original movie!

Minions

Release date: July 10

I ADORE the Despicable Me movies! They’re just so funny and weird and cute! Who doesn’t love adorable animated kid’s movies?! Also, they’re about villains! I love villain-centric stories and just interesting villains in general – especially if they’re not portrayed as being PURE EVIL, but have a more human side to them as well.

So I am super-duper excited to see this movie! My mom and I are going to see it together – I’m going to flail fangirlishly over the minions and she’s probably going to laugh at me, because my love for the minions is RIDICULOUS.

Mr. Holmes

Release date: July 17

Sherlock Holmes and Ian McKellen? OOH YES PLEASE THOSE ARE TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS. I am basically just giddy with glee right now, all right? Because first there’s Elementary and then an upcoming new show called S(her)lock and now there’s THIS adaptation.

I’m also curious to see if Watson will even be in this movie – it’s about an older Holmes, and maybe Watson won’t be there anymore. I mean, Watson is listed in the credits, but there’s also supposed to be flashback scenes, so maybe he’ll be in those and not the main scenes? It would be really interesting to see how the film handles that, if it even goes that route.

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Finally, there are a few movies I plan to borrow from the library – it dawned on me that rather than complaining about how they’re not on Netflix / available to watch for free online, I should just get the DVDs from the library. DUH.

1. Interstellar

 This looks like an AMAZING science fiction movie, with an awesome score composed by Hans Zimmer (which I’ve already listened to)! My brother has expressed interest in it, as well – maybe we’ll watch it together!

2. Jupiter Ascending

I’ve heard that this was an exceptionally ridiculous sci fi story, but also a great deal of fun. Yay! Also, the costume design looks incredible.

3. Into the Wild

I read the book (by Jon Krakauer) this was based on last fall, and REALLY enjoyed it. I love listening to its soundtrack, too – YAY FOR EDDIE VEDDER. I’m interested in seeing the differences between the book and the movie, because Into the Wild is a true story and I wonder if the filmmakers changed any bits to make them more dramatic.

4. Pride

My friend Miriam Joy @ Miriam Joy Writes adores this movie and talks about it a LOT, so I’m looking forward to it! I want to watch it because LGBTQ+ history fascinates me, but I don’t know much about non-US-based LGBTQ+ history – this is based on the true story of a group of queer activists from the UK.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy

I can’t believe I still haven’t seen this movie! But I DEFINITELY want to see it this summer, because I’m slowly trying to read/watch more Marvel stories that aren’t just Captain America or the Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy looks really funny and awesome!

6. Big Hero 6

An adorable animated kid’s movie… based on a story from Marvel Comics! SQUEE.

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Also, I’d like to:

1. Watch a movie at the local drive-in theater

My town still has one of these! And even though the image quality is terrible and it’s kind of hard to hear the movie well, it’s… it’s the experience that matters, right?! It’s fun to watch a movie on a gigantic screen under the stars! My 4-H Junior Leader group is meeting up at the drive-in next month for our end-of-the-year celebration, and I can’t wait!

2. Watch some LGBTQ+ movies with online friends

Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words and I have been thinking about doing this for quite a while now, and I recently discussed the idea with Artgirl @ Alien Cows, too. And if anyone else is interested, let me know! We live waaaay too far away from one another to actually hang out in real life, but it’s still fun to do things “together”!

So I thought it might be fun to pick an LGBTQ+ movie (because I am SO EMOTIONALLY INVESTED IN FICTIONAL LESBIANS) and watch it at the same time and send FANGIRLY MESSAGES back and forth during and/or after the movie. I think Imagine You and Me might be a good movie to start with, but any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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The other day, my online friend Fanta sent me a SUPER FANGIRLY message about this new science fiction TV show, Sense8, and… yeah, there’s something else I’m looking forward to watching this summer! It’s about eight people who suddenly find themselves telepathically linked to one another, and have to figure out why/how that happened.

And FREEMA AGYEMAN will be in it. I’ve had a ginormous crush on her from the moment I began watching series three of Doctor Who, so clearly I NEED this show.

According to the creators, the show will explore subjects that the writers felt were often ignored by science fiction – such as sexual orientation, gender, and religion. OH MY GOD THIS IS EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED FROM SCI FI. Like, there’ll be a trans woman character, who’s actually being played by a trans woman actor? (This isn’t as common as you might think, unfortunately.) And Freema Agyeman will play her girlfriend?! OH MY GOD JUST GIVE IT TO ME ALREADY I NEED THIS SHOW WHERE HAS IT BEEN ALL MY LIFE.

The entire first season will premiere on Netflix streaming on June fifth. Yay!

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Oh, and then of course there’s Carmilla. SO EXCITED FOR BROODY GAY VAMPIRES AND THEIR TINY ADORKABLE GIRLFRIENDS. Season two airs on June second!

And if I have time towards the end of this summer, after I’ve watched all the thingies mentioned above, I might start watching either Orphan Black (science fiction with loads of women and queer characters) or Once Upon A Time (fairy tale retellings set in the modern world).

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What movies and/or TV shows would you like to watch this summer? Are they brand-new-coming-out-this-summer, or will you borrow DVDs and whatnot in order to watch them? And based on the movies and shows I’ve talked about in this post, do you have any recommendations for me?

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Summer Reading Goals, Part II

A few days ago, I talked about scaling back my goals to make them realistic, not idealistic. I discussed, for example, scaling back my bookish goals and not pressuring myself to read INCESSANTLY this summer.

Yesterday, I listed my three definite reading goals! And today, I’m talking about a few other reading goals – the flexible ones.

Basically, this is a list of books I’ve been meaning to read. In years past I probably would’ve included ALL OF THEM on my to-read-this-summer list. But this year I’m not doing that! Instead, I’m going to list all of them and then…

…YOU GET TO VOTE FOR WHICH BOOKS I SHOULD READ! I’ll explain the voting process at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, I’ve listed a bunch of series/books, their authors, and a few quick comments about those books.

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one

The Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo

  • Midnight for Charlie Bone
  • Charlie Bone and the Time Twister
  • Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy
  • Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors
  • Charlie Bone and the Red King
  • Charlie Bone and the Beast
  • Charlie Bone and the Shadow
  • Charlie Bone and the Red Knight

Children’s fantasy! This looks lighthearted and fun.

The Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

  • City of Ashes
  • City of Glass
  • City of Fallen Angels
  • City of Lost Souls
  • City of Heavenly Fire
  • Clockwork Angel
  • Clockwork Prince
  • Clockwork Princess

Urban fantasy? That all my friends are raving about? (The first book, City of Bones, isn’t included here because I read it last summer.)

two

The Wolves of Mercy Falls series and the Books of Faerie series by Maggie Stiefvater

  • Shiver
  • Linger
  • Forever
  • Sinner
  • Lament
  • Ballad

Basically, all the Stiefvater books I haven’t yet read!

Modern Faerie Tales series and Curse Workers series by Holly Black

  • Tithe
  • Valiant
  • Ironside
  • White Cat
  • Red Glove
  • Black Heart

I LOVED Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and these look like really good urban fantasy novels! (Even if I don’t end up reading these two series, I do plan on listening to her story The Darkest Part of the Forest as an audiobook.)

three

Legend trilogy by Marie Lu

  • Legend
  • Prodigy
  • Champion

A YA dystopian trilogy WITH DIVERSE CHARACTERS?! Finally, a YA dystopian trilogy worth my time.

Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore

  • Graceling 
  • Fire
  • Bitterblue

My lovely (and cute!) friend Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words loves these books. OMG YA FANTASY.

four

Code Name Verity series by Elizabeth Wein

  • Code Name Verity
  • Rose Under Fire

Stories about WWII fascinate me! And I loooove historical fiction novels with teen girls as protagonists!

Assorted Middle-Earth books by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • The Silmarillion
  • The Children of Húrin

Because I miss Middle-earth, and I thought reading some more books about it might be a more productive use of my time than marathoning the movies.

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SO! The voting process is quite simple, really: Pick one choice from each category! As you can see, I’ve organized it so that a long series is paired with another long series, a short series is paired with a short series, and so on and so forth. So, for example, if I don’t end up reading [insert long series here] this summer, I’ll just… read the other option for a long series instead!

There are just sooooo many books I want to read that sometimes I have a hard time making decisions about what to read next! So your suggestions will be MUCH appreciated – tell me which books/series you think I should read! Which books did you enjoy? Which books do you think I might enjoy most, based on what you know about my taste in books / characters / plots / et cetera?

THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME! NOW VOTE VOTE VOTE!

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Oh, and… I might end up reading more books than what’s listed here? I plan to achieve my three definite reading goals (from yesterday’s post) and read four of the eight sets of books listed here. And after that? Maybe I’ll read the other sets of books that didn’t end up winning this little voting thingamajig.

Or maybe I’ll read something else entirely – after all, there are soooo many books in the world. I’d like to read a bunch of diverse books, basically, and possibly further explore the genre of classic sci fi / classic dystopian fiction? If I have enough time? And perhaps a little bit of contemporary YA, such as Sarah Dessen’s books? But like I said, that’s only if I have enough time/interest – my reading goals are really quite moderate this summer.

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Which books are you planning on reading this summer? And why did you choose those particular stories?! I’d love to know, so tell me in the comments – and don’t forget to vote, please and thank you!

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Summer Reading Goals, Part I

Hi, everyone! A few days ago I promised to talk about my summer 2015 goals, and this is the first of four posts about my plans for the upcoming season. Today (and tomorrow) I’m talking all about books. BOOOOOOOKS. Books!

And as mentioned previously, I’m trying to set more realistic goals this summer: As much as I may want to read EVERY SINGLE BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE, that’s just not going to happen. And I need to accept that. And one way I can begin to accept that is by developing a more relaxed attitude towards reading. If reading is supposed to be fun, why am I putting so much pressure on myself to read read read ALL THE TIME?!

So this summer, I’m scaling my reading goals waaaaay back. Only three of my goals are absolutely set in stone; the rest are far more flexible. Today I’m discussing those three definite goals – tomorrow I’ll list a bunch of other possible books/series and then you can vote for the ones you think I should read!

Anyway, I need a bit of help from my readers today as well! I need some ideas as to which books I should read as part of accomplishing my definite goals. So whenever you see the phrase “Engie needs some book recs,” that means… I need book recs! And I’m counting on you peoples to help me out!

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1. Reread Harry Potter (and read some related books)

I’ve been meaning to do this for the last few summers, and so far it hasn’t happened. But who knows? Maybe this year I’ll finally do it. I’m really curious to see how this particular rereading project will go, because Harry Potter was my EVERYTHING as a kid and now I’m not even in that fandom. I’m much more critical of stories now, so this should be an interesting experience… half nostalgic and half “[insert other fantasy book here] is way, way better.”

Additionally, Harry Potter and Philosophy and The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy have been sitting on my bookshelf for practically FOREVER, so I may try those books as well.

ENGIE NEEDS SOME BOOK RECS: I read Harry: A History by Melissa Anelli last summer and really enjoyed it; do you have any recommendations for similar nonfiction books about Harry Potter and/or J.K. Rowling?

2. Further explore the comic book genre

Squeeeeeee! I love comic books. I’m not picking any SPECIFIC comics to read, but I will list a few ideas. (Mostly for future!Engie to refer back to when she forgets which comics she wanted to try this summer.) I haven’t read anything about Black Widow or Thor yet, so I’d like to try some stuff. I want to read about Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel. I’d like to read some stories in which Scarlet Witch and/or Quicksilver are the main characters, because I adore those two but I’ve only read about them as side characters in someone else’s story. I might try the Civil War stories, and I might finish reading the death-of-Captain-America storyline.

I’m thinking about trying some X-Men comics as well, because I’ve been watching the movies lately and I really really enjoy them. I’d like to read some Deadpool comics. And of course, I want to expand my knowledge of characters from DC Comics – Batman, the Joker, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, et cetera.

ENGIE NEEDS SOME BOOK RECS: What are your favorite comics about the characters listed above?

3. Listen to audiobooks

I don’t often listen to audiobooks but whenever I do, I always think, “I should do this more often!” A few weeks ago my lovely friend Cait @ Paper Fury mentioned that she listened to A Game of Thrones on her iPod and… well, first, Cait, I have to commend you for BEING AWESOME and FINALLY READING THAT WONDERFUL BOOK. Anyway, I’d also like to thank her for planting the idea of audiobooks-via-iPod in my tiny fangirl brain.

I’ve transferred music from CDs to my iPod, so why not do the same thing with audiobook CDs?! It’s a much easier, more portable method of listening to audiobooks, rather than sitting right next to my CD player and not being able to, say, get up and talk a walk outside in the sunshine while I listen to a great story. So. Anyway. I borrowed a bunch of audiobooks from the library the other day! They include Where She Went by Gayle Forman, The Kill Order by James Dashner, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, Winger by Andrew Smith, and Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer.

ENGIE NEEDS SOME BOOK RECS: Which of the five audiobooks mentioned above should I start listening to first?!

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So, to recap what I talked about in the intro of this post: I have three definite reading goals this summer, but I could still use some help in choosing bits and pieces of those goals. I’d really appreciate it if you listed some recs in the comments section below, and… I’ll see you tomorrow! With more reading goals and more requests for recs!

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Realistic Goals Vs. Idealistic Goals

Setting goals is important. Setting realistic goals is even more important.

This sounds so obvious, right? But it’s taken me FOREVER to realize this. Honestly, I only realized this, like… a few weeks ago? Sometime in April, maybe? It dawned on me that I could actually achieve more of my goals if I set realistic goals, not idealistic goals.

This idea – realistic goals versus idealistic goals – has been on my mind a lot lately because each May, I like to write a post (or two) describing my goals for the upcoming summer. I’ve been doing this since 2012, I believe, and it’s a lot of fun. Also, it helps me to remember what my goals actually are – writing things down always helps to cement facts in my mind.

But those goal-themed posts also create a lot of stress for me, EVERY FREAKING SUMMER. Because I tend to include everything on my list of goals. Waaaaay too many things.

I want to do it all, and I need to realize that I can’t.

For example, each and every summer I make a ginormous list of books I want to read, and then I… end up reading less than half of them. And feeling HORRIBLE about it.

When making goals, I need to begin considering the following thingies:

  • How much time can I realistically devote to [insert goal here]?
  • Am I prioritizing the things I want to do over the things I have to do?
  • Will I have enough time to accomplish [insert goal here] and the things I need to do?
  • Have I lost my enthusiasm for [insert goal here], thereby turning something that was originally fun into a chore?

So this summer, one of my goals is to become better at setting realistic goals. I have a HUGE problem when it comes to turning fun activities into a chore, for example. I have, like, goal-setting overkill or something.

I mean, I love reading, but setting ridiculous goals last year basically killed my love of books for a while, and sent me into a reading slump that I’m still struggling to escape. Reading should be FUN, but when I set unrealistic, ridiculously high goals like “read seventy-five books this summer,” it’s just… not fun anymore.

I need to set realistic bookish goals (and realistic goals in general), such as twenty or twenty-five books. I need to realize that I mostly likely won’t have time to read everything I want to read. I need to realize that changing my goals slightly is OK, too: Maybe at the beginning of the summer I’ll want to read [insert science fiction novel here], but later on I’ll swap it out for another sci fi novel. Or maybe I’ll read something from a completely different genre instead. Or maybe I’ll use that time to do something that’s NOT reading.

Anyway. You’ll see several goal-related posts within the next few weeks as we get closer and closer to summer, and hopefully this time around I’ll be more realistic. I want to do ALL THE THINGS but that just isn’t possible for anyone who’s not Superwoman. And I am not Superwoman. I am Tiny Dorky Girl. And I need to set realistic goals, and not add everything in the world to my to-do lists.

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LGBTQ+ Stories Should Not Gloss Over Real LGBTQ+ Experiences

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, & Biphobia.

Today, I’d like to talk to you about homophobia and… you guessed it, books. I’M SO PREDICTABLE THAT WAY. This post was inspired not only by this occasion, but also by a lovely post on Barnes & Noble’s teen blog that I read a few days ago.

I’m not going to go into a HUGE amount of detail about that post because A) you should go read it and see for yourself how awesome it is and B) there is enough awesomeness in that post that I might very well talk about its ideas some MORE in another blog post of my own.

simon vs. the homo sapiens agendaThe post was written by Becky Albertalli, who recently published the YA LGBTQ+ novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – which sounds AWESOME, by the way. I’ve heard so many good things about it and can’t wait to find a copy at my library!

Anyway, the post in question is about how readers (…mostly straight ones, in my experience) want – demand – no more stories about coming out. (“We’ve had enough!”) And more characters who “just happen” to be queer.

And then Ms. Albertalli goes on to say how much she disagrees with that attitude, and OMG I ADORE HER FOR STEPPING UP AND PROTESTING AGAINST THAT ATTITUDE. Because it makes me super uncomfortable as well, and I’m tired of seeing it, and she gave a very eloquent rebuttal of the “don’t make your gay stories too gay” argument.

Simply put, we need stories where being gay (or bi or trans or ace or anything else) IS a major factor in the story. Because like it or not, being LGBTQ+ does affect one’s life in many, many ways. I wish being a lesbian didn’t cause people to see and treat me differently, but you know what? It does. And ignoring that reality, pretending it’s Not A Thing, does absolutely freaking NOTHING to improve that situation. I would go so far as to say that all it does is breed ignorance about how one’s LGBTQ+ identity affects so many different aspects of one’s life.

Stories about coming out are still relevant. Stories about homophobia are still relevant. Characters who spend a lot of time thinking and talking about being queer are super super super important because that is something many queer teens do daily, especially if they’re struggling to determine their identity or trying to come to terms with who they are in a world that still sees/treats people differently for being queer.ash

THAT’S why I’m so frustrated with this attitude of “characters should ‘just happen’ to be queer.” This attitude of “I don’t want to read about LGBTQ+ characters dealing with situations that are relevant to LGBTQ+ people in real life.”

And Becky Albertalli understands that perfectly. I’ve heard that Oreos play a major role in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so here is a huge stack of Oreos for your insight, Ms. Albertalli.

I don’t mind if some LGBTQ+ stories (YA or otherwise) aren’t about coming and homophobia and stuff like that. I have a BIG problem with people saying they don’t want to read coming-out stories, or stories about homophobia, or any type of story in which being queer is an Issue.

I have only read one story where being queer was a non-issue.

The story in question is Ash by Malinda Lo, and it quickly became one of my favorite novels EVER (my overall favorite from last year, in fact!) for its high fantasy setting and gorgeous prose and a RIDICULOUSLY adorable girl/girl romance between Ash and a girl who works for the royal family. (Plus, it’s a retelling of “Cinderella”!)

In Ash’s world, there is no such thing as homophobia, and no one needs to come out: Being queer is accepted by all. (And none of the characters made assumptions about who Ash had a crush on, either! Whoo! Yay!) One of the fairy tales mentioned in this story featured a girl/girl romance, and there are references to women kissing. (In public!) OMG YAY!)

…it was really, really good escapism.

Escapism is good. We need escapism. I think a moderate dose of escapism is key, though, because sometimes you need to face reality. I ADORED Ash – heck, I stayed up all night reading it. It was just THAT good. I fell asleep that night dreaming about princesses and fairies and girls kissing girls in in fairy-tale-ish worlds.

And then a few weeks later I split up with a homophobic friend (now ex-friend) after a HORRIBLE fight that occurred when I came out to her, and had a nasty reminder that life is not all sunshine and roses and super-gay, super-sweet fairy tales. That homophobia does affect my life, and that I can’t ignore real life. That I can’t just pretend I live in Ash’s world, because that’s not how my world really is.

adaptationI struggle with my desire to have a bit of escapism in LGBTQ+ stories (books, movies, TV shows, et cetera), but not too much. Because I think us LGBTQ+ teens need a little cheering up, but we also want to see ourselves accurately reflected in stories. And one of the best ways to do this is by actually acknowledging that coming out and homophobia and Other Big Important Queer Issues make up a large part of our lives.

One way we can experience some of that escapism is by reading stories in which Big Important Queer Issues – such as homophobia – have no bearing on the plot.

But another way we can experience that – and what I consider the better way – is by requesting stories in which Big Important Queer Issues are prevalent, but are not allowed to make the story too sad/angsty/et cetera.

I spent like half this post talking about one of Malinda Lo’s books, and now I’m going to end by talking about two of her other books. Her science fiction duology, comprised of Adaptation and Inheritance, is about a bisexual girl named Reese who meets aliens and discovers government conspiracies and falls in love.

And she deals with biphobia. She deals with the awkwardness of coming out. I loved those two novels because they felt so REAL. I could relate: I’ve dealt with homophobia, and I’ve come out. The novels actually talked about Big Important Issues That Affect The Day-to-Day Lives of Queer Teens.inheritance

But they also talked about adventures. And great friendships. And cute romances with even cuter people. And intrigue. And ALIENS.

There was escapism… and frank discussion of some of the issues real-life LGBTQ+ teens face each day. AND I LOVED THIS. It was basically like, “Hey, sometimes being a queer kid sucks, but it’s not all bad – here are some fun adventures! And great friendships!”

LGBTQ+ novels need not be entirely about coming out, homophobia, et cetera, but I think they should acknowledge that such things vastly impact the lives of queer people. For every one LGBTQ+ novel that doesn’t make mention of Big Important Queer Issues we need, like, ten that do discuss these things, because that grounds those stories in reality and helps us find ourselves accurately reflected in stories.

And that’s why I disagree with wanting LOTS AND LOTS of stories with characters who “just happen” to be LGBTQ+, whose identities have no real bearing on the plot. I want to see a lot more LGBTQ+ stories being published in days to come, and I hope that many of those novels will devote at least a few pages to the discussion of things that actually affect the lives of queer teens – things that affect MY life.

I DO want to read books that talk about homophobia, even though it’s an unsavory topic. I DO want to read coming-out stories, even if they bore straight people. I DO want to read a lot of stories about heternormativity and transitioning and being closeted and a thousand other LGBTQ+ topics, because THIS THINGS ARE STILL A HUGE DEAL.

Until homophobia and coming out (and whatnot) cease to affect us, such topics will continue to be relevant in the stories about our lives.

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Am I A Weak Writer? Or A Strong Storyteller? – Teens Can Write, Too! May 2015 Blog Chain

tcwt-3[1]This month’s prompt is:

“What is your greatest weakness as a writer?
What’s your greatest strength?”

Ooh, nice. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this topic before, so this should be a fun post to write. I’ll think I’ll make some lists… because lists are awesome! But I’m going to flip the question around, and discuss my strengths first because then the “weaknesses” section will make more sense.

Engie’s Writing Strengths

1. Finding ideas. I have more ideas – for both stories and blog posts – than I know what to do with! I get at least one new idea, or a neat variation on a previous idea, per DAY. I find my ideas anywhere and everywhere: People, memories, music, stories written by other people. I never have to worry about running out of ideas.

2. Including diverse characters. 2011!Engie was not very good at this – all her characters were cis straight white people. UGHHHHHH SO BORING. But I’m better at writing diversity now. One of the most important developments in my whole remembering-to-write-diversely thing was when I deleted the male love interest from one of my fave stories and replaced him with a girl – until then, I’d been trying to write a guy/girl romance and I got SO BORED and couldn’t figure out why they had literally zero romantic tension in any of their scenes. Now like 98% of my characters are queer women…

Engie’s Writing Weaknesses

1. Actually writing up all those ideas. I HAVE SUCH A PROBLEM WITH THIS. In writer-y corners of the Internet, I’ve often seen some variation of the phrase, “Ideas are easy. Executing those ideas is hard.” And I COMPLETELY agree with it – I have a huuuuge problem when it comes to finishing any of my many, many projects. I become distracted and forget about my latest idea in favor of… another idea! I really need to work on this.

2. Writing good dialogue. I have a tendency to make my characters infodump in conversations. Or they spend pointlessly long periods of time introducing themselves / saying goodbye to each other / et cetera. Or I write fascinating stuff like, “What’s up?” “Nothing much.” GAHHHH.

3. Naming my characters. Oh, eventually I find the perfect names for all my characters. But in the first draft? Things are pretty rough. I have been known to give my characters generic names such as Bob because I just couldn’t think of the right name at the moment, and didn’t want to spend forever thinking of one. (Because then I get distracted, and heaven knows that’s the last thing I need!) So I’m very fond of using “place-holder names,” as I call them.

4. Procrastinating. I spend hours fervently wishing that I were sitting in front of my computer or holding a notebook and pencil in my hands, and then when I actually get a chance to write… I don’t. All of a sudden I remember all the other things I desperately “need” to do, like updating my Facebook status or watching videos of cute puppies and kittens. I’ll have you know that I procrastinated on finishing this blog post by A) watching a video of a bird laughing like a supervillain, B) googling “which Wolverine comics should I begin with,” and C) flailing with Orphu @ A Mirror Made of Words about gay stuff on Agent Carter. I AM THE PROCRASTINATION QUEEN.

5. Not wanting to do research. Not unless it involves watching dorky cat videos, apparently. I haaaaate doing most research, even when it’s for a story idea I particularly love. It just bores me, OK? Sometimes I just make stuff up because I can’t be bothered to check my notes, or even make notes at all, which probably isn’t the best/most ethical writerly decision I’ve ever made. Oops.

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Well, there they are: My writing strengths and weaknesses. I’m not proud of having more weaknesses than strengths, but oh well. (I can always try to fix them!) What are your writing strengths and weaknesses? Can you relate to any of my problems and/or successes?

And, most importantly: What do YOU consider my writing strengths and weaknesses? Don’t be shy – I’m curious to see what you think of my writing!

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:

5th — The Little Engine That Couldn’t

6th — Ariel Kalati, Writer

8th — Galloping Free

9th — Miriam Joy Writes

10th — The Ramblings of Aravis

13th — Light and Shadows

15th — Musings from Neville’s Navel

16th — The World of the Writer

19th — Butterflies of the Imagination

20th — Introspection Creative

22nd — Spellbound

24th — Unikke Lyfe

25th — The Long Life of a Lifelong Fangirl

27th — Against the Shadows

29th — Teens Can Write, Too (We’ll announce the topic for June’s chain!)

Posted in Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Teens Can Write Too!, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I Am Always Behind On My Reviews

I am behind on my reviews.

I am perpetually behind on my reviews.

I love writing reviews (of anything – books, movies, TV shows, and sometimes music) and posting them on this blog, but I never ever ever manage to check every item off my reviewing to-do list.

I still need to write a review of Agent Carter.

I saw The Imitation Game (which was AMAZING, by the way) in January and keep forgetting to write up a review post for it. (In fact, I’ve taken so long to even outline a few basic ideas for the review that I might as well wait a few more weeks and use it as a Pride post in June… LGBTQ+ history and all that.)

I have yet to review some books I during our family vacation way back in August.

After I finish watching Daredevil (which you should try! superheroes galore on Netflix!) and the X-Men movies, I want to write reviews of those too. And once I’ve read The Dying of the Light, a super-fangirly Skulduggery Pleasant-themed post is probably in order.

And then Carmilla season two is due to begin any day now (we don’t have a specific release date) and season five of Game of Thrones will end in a few weeks and OH MY GOD THE POTENTIAL FOR REVIEWS, THERE. REVIEWS THAT I WILL TAKE FOREVER TO WRITE and finally publish like five months after I really should.

I know why I’m always behind on my reviews: I get distracted. I read a story and LOVE IT and then see a fun-looking TV show and go, “OOH SHINY” and… get completely distracted from one fandom by another.

Which is kind of fun, because then I end up in all sorts of cool fandoms, but it also makes reviewing a little difficult.

Also, by the time I finally sit down in front of my laptop with a Tiny Person Who Is Determined To Review The Thing expression on my face, I’ve often forgotten some of the things I originally wanted to mention in my review. For example, I should probably rewatch at least a few episodes of Agent Carter, if not the entire first season, because I’m fairly certain there was SOMETHING I planned to include in my review – but now I don’t remember what it was. Quite possibly it was an accurate count of how many times Peggy Carter does something hella bisexual. 

So. Reviews. They always cause trouble for me, in one way or another. I loooove writing reviews, but I get distracted. Or forget things. And then post them months and months after I’d planned to.

Does anyone else have this problem? Are you perpetually behind on your reviews, too? Or do you write reviews of [insert STUFF YOU LIKE here] right away in order to stay caught up?! I’m curious to know what works for you…

…and by the way, don’t expect to see any review posts here until, like, at least late May. Or possibly even June.

Posted in Books and Reading!, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments