Nanowrimo 2017 – Week Two (09-15)

Good evening, welcome to week two of Nanowrimo.

Each week of Nanowrimo, I have been giving you updates on my progress, where my inspiration has been coming from, and my plans for the next week.

My plans for next week are; have my 50,000 words already completed. And it’s looking pretty good.

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I’ve been working so hard to keep up with my 2,250 word daily goal. but it’s a steep incline to what I’m used to. I feel so guilty when I don’t reach it, and usually add it to the next day, which usually causes more stress. But hey, I love adding unnecessary stress! I’m still on track to reach 50,000 by the end of this week, and today I should be able to reach 40,000, so I’m thinking about the positives.

Week two has also been the week of doubting myself, I barely slept last night wondering what was the point of even finishing the novel. But, it’s normal and have those anxious thoughts with almost every story I think of and begin; sometimes it kills the novel, sometimes it spurs me on. I’m hoping that this time it will be the latter.

Depending on the scene I’m writing, my music inspiration changes. This week, while also still listening to Stranger Things mashups, I’ve also been listening to a lot of fun, upbeat songs that I like to use during my fight scenes. Because come on, what a duo!

How are you doing? Writing-wise but also in life?

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MOVIE REVIEW: Call Me By Your Name (2017)

Welcome to my FIRST EVER MOVIE REVIEW ON HOLLIEBLOG.COM!

*double checks*

Ok, I’ve reviewed some TV shows but they don’t count.

A loooong time ago, I used to run a Tumblr called ‘Hollie Reviews’ (which is still there), where I posted a review of every film that I watched. Whether that was in the cinema or even just at home on Netflix. Nobody read them, and I left it like an abandoned theme park to work on my booklr and, eventually, this blog right here.

But today, while not making a habit of reviewing movies, I wanted to talk about a recent book to movie adaptation that has left me feeling a little…strange.

Strange because I never prefer a film to the book.

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I read Call Me By Your Name back in February, falling in and out of love with passages that were either beautiful, intimate and making me yearn for the summer, or so purple that I lost track of what was happening (a thing that happens to me a lot when reading text that’s too flowery). You can read the whole review on Goodreads, where I compete with the two sides of my brain; one side that wanted more of the book, and one side that thought the whole thing laughable.

But the film was different.

Firstly, this year I’ve started going to the cinema alone. At first it was to combat my monstrous anxiety that I was battling at the beginning of the year, where the thought of going outside was horrifying. I thought to myself if I can go to the cinema and then eat lunch, alone, with no one to distract me, I can do anything. I usually pick films that I want to go see that I don’t think anyone else would want to see with me; films that maybe only get a few showings and are screened in the smallest room in the multiplex. Call Me By Your Name wasn’t even in the multiplex, and I had to go to the local indie/arthouse theatre which I knew wouldn’t accept my 3 years out of date student card and would also be a lot more intimate.

But hey, intimacy is what Call Me By Your Name is all about, so the atmosphere was spot on.

So I sat there, in a plush red chair with only a smattering of people, most of them on their own too (this always helps). Turns out Friday at 1pm is not prime time indie film watching. I’d decided that I was going to be really excited for this film because, let’s be honest, a film adaptation of a queer book deserves money thrown at it. It needs success because through success brings more LGBT focused films. Plus I’d seen the trailer and it looked precious af. So, despite having mixed feelings about the book, I was sat there in a small cinema on a Friday afternoon with a bag of 80 calorie popcorn, and I was READY.

[MINOR SPOILER AHEAD]

I was actually surprised about how much I remembered the book, and was super disappointed about the scenes set in Rome not in the final cut of the film. Those were my favourite scenes from the book, but it felt like the adaptation was a lot more focused on the build up to their relationship, rather than the part where they were free from hiding from Elio’s parents and their friends and could just be themselves.

But, I liked how their dynamic was a little different from the book.

As I stated in my book review, Elio meets Oliver and that’s it, he straight up worships him, and while it’s harder to express so much thought in a film without having a voice-over (which honestly, can be awful), I definitely found that Elio was a lot more pissed off by Oliver. He was here, taking over his space, winning over his friends,  and talking over his parents like some ‘loud American’. I loved it a lot; they talked quickly, moved around each other but never collided until they did and WOW. WOW. I forgot I was alone in a cinema full of strangers because beauty? What is it? It’s this film.

So, better dynamic? CHECK!

Beautiful music (Sufjan Stevens baby!) CHECK!

Cinematography which makes me nostalgic for Italy and the 80s despite being born in 1993? CHECK!

There were definitely scenes that were a bit strange and made me cringe a little. And no, not the peach scene, but just some hammy scenes that I don’t know if they were improvisations from Timothée Chalamet (who plays Elio) or directions from the director but hey, it’s an arthouse/indie film, a little weirdness is expected.

If this film is showing near you, go see it! Have a little day to yourself, grab some food! Read a book, then go watch this!

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Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: March 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

1509457980918Welcome to Weep. 

I honestly loved this so much.

About a librarian who devours stories of adventure, Lazlo Strange is the puppy protagonist you always want to read about. He’s a humble hero, with dreams far beyond his life inside the library, carrying the dreams of others on his back. Instead, Lazlo dreams of the lost city of Weep, shrouded in mystery where no one remembers it’s name or it’s face.

I have Laini Taylor’s other trilogy, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, in hardback, maybe in not so pristine condition, and they just do not read as well as Strange the Dreamer does. I had trouble with the writing, and I could never remember what I had just read, or picture what was happening. But here I got the whole thing; I could easily imagine myself dropped right into the centre of Weep and see before me white buildings and blue tiles, with blue people living above me in a citadel that shielded the sun.

So, maybe not so picturesque, but still magical.

This feels a lot like a fantasy mixed with fairy tales and historical fiction, which I’m getting a kick out of at the moment. The magic was beautiful and delicate and particular, and I loved how Sarai struggled to deal with a gruesome past that her parents’ left her with while trying to deal with the people who hate her and her friends for it. It was definitely reminiscent of how people pass the burden onto younger generations in order to find a place to put their prejudice.

Beautiful, dreamy and a whole lotta strange.

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Nanowrimo 2017 – Week One (01-08)

Happy Nanowrimo writers!

So, we’re on our first update of the month, with one week already passing us by. How’s everyone’s writing going? Are those beginnings gripping? Are your characters introductions sparkling and intriguing? How’s your setting looking? All set up and explained? Your magic system air tight? Your governments villainous and mysterious? Your vampires sharpening their fangs? No?

Well, don’t worry, this is just a first draft.

I have had a pretty incredible first week of Nanowrimo 2017. Not that incredible because I was unwell for most of it, but also very incredible because it meant I was stuck in bed with my laptop, and I managed to write SO MUCH.

statsweek1

LOOK AT THOSE STATS.

While each year I’ve managed to reach 50,000 words (sometimes just barely), this year is feeling a lot more like a race to the 20th. According to Nanowrimo, I should be completely finished by the 19th which is amazing?? I would love to be finished before my work experience, but I still have no problem with writing just a little bit while I’m away. But if I’m too tired or busy, apathy will set in. So, if I do finish on the 19th, it will be a big relief.

The story won’t be over though, oh no.

This week I’ve also been working with other writers and doing word sprints over on Twitter. So if, in the evenings, you’re ever about for some sprints, just @ me and I’ll probably be up for them! I’m in timezone GMT so the evenings might be mornings for you so keep that in mind when tweeting me! I’m hoping to do a lot more of them because they’ve been helping me get 4-500 words each time. They’re quick, around 15-20 minutes at a time, and it’s great motivation.

Music is a massive inspiration for this year’s WIP, and I do have a playlist for it. But this week, in particular, I’ve been listening to mashups of the Stranger Things theme and pop songs. How it links to my story? Not at all. But it’s working.

 

Also, picture inspiration is usually just anything I come across while scrolling aimlessly on Tumblr. Anything with neon lights at night in somewhere that’s maybe abandoned is kind of perfect. This week it’s this:

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Here’s my introductory blog post on Nano this year, where I talk about my daily goals as well as a little bio about my WIP. Feel free to link me to any posts on your blog about your Nano updates as I’d love to read them, and let me know how you’re doing!

See you next week!

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WELCOME TO NANOWRIMO 2017!

Welcome, writers, to the best and most grueling month of the year.

National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) is upon us, and what better way to kick this off with a little post on my Nano-history, as well as introducing you to my story and what I’ll be talking about non-stop for the whole month.

I’m Hollie, I’m a book blogger, reader and writer, currently unemployed (for the 2nd November in a row) and will be starting work experience with Penguin Random House on the 20th November (AHHHH). I’ve taken part in Nanowrimo four times, and have won four times (no pressure eh?). I took part in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016, taking a break between 2011 and 2013 while I was at uni.

This year I’m gonna be writing a novel that I have actually already written. While other years I’ve used plots that I devised purely for Nano that year, this story has been rolling around in my head since around 2006. Yeah. It’s been crushed and morphed and moulded into something I hold dear to my heart, and actually wrote a 100,000 word draft of last year.

I came back to it. And I hate it.

I have since made a half-assed plan to re-write it; the setting, some of the characters and some of the plot is still there, but it’s no use going back through this draft and editing a ton; it needs a new start. And I’ve found that Nanowrimo has never done me dirty (as my four years shows). So! Here’s my working synopsis:

In a world where memories are traded, manipulated, and fabricated, one teenage girl is paranoid that a precious memory has been taken from her.

With the help of her best friend and his high school drop-out crush, she’s determined to break into the underworld of illegal memory manipulation to find the infamous ‘Storyteller’, a genius technician who’s work is notorious across the city, and who she believes is the only one who can make her life feel whole again.

But notoriety comes with enemies, including the son and heir to the company with the only legal ability to manipulate memories, who will stop at nothing to bring The Storyteller and the entire underground network to it’s knees.

Now, remember when I casually mentioned that on the 20th November, I’ll be starting a two week work experience with Penguin Random House that finishes on the 1st December? Yes. YES IT IS HAPPENING DURING NANOWRIMO. I’ve got a plan that might help me out or completely ruin me.

To get to 50,000 words by 30th November, I have to write 1,666 words a day. But because of my work experience, I’m going to have next to no free time. I’m going to be in the office or on a cramped train or sleeping. I’m going to be leaving the house at around 7am and getting in at 7pm. I don’t want to completely stop writing for my two weeks, especially while being IN the publishing industry and being surrounded by book lovers and writers. So, I’ve decided I want to, instead of reaching 33,333 on the day my w/e starts (20th), I’m planning on reaching 45,000 words. That means I should be a whole 7 days ahead of myself. I can write, but I would only have 5,000 words to achieve in 2 weeks.

I can manage that right?

So, my daily word count goal for the next 20 days? 2,250.

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I can do this. I can do this. *heavy sigh*

As usual, I’m going to be posting weekly updates on my progress, including music and picture inspiration, and my Nano profile is here. Let me know if you’re doing Nano and make sure to follow me on Twitter for live updates of me screaming into the abyss!

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Everless by Sara Holland

Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 2nd January 2018
Rating: ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

The novel, pitched as Red Queen meets Downtown Abbey, is set in a kingdom where time is a commodity that flows through the blood and is hoarded by the rich, and centers on a 17-year-old girl who becomes the next handmaiden at the Everless Estate only to find herself at the heart of a centuries-old rivalry over the secret to immortal life.

1507201345324So this was kind of…blah. And I hate saying that, because ‘blah’ isn’t a good review is it? But how can you describe a book that makes you feel nothing?

Everless is pretty much a textbook YA court fantasy story. I knew what would happen, and it felt horrible that I didn’t care. My mind began to automatically skip over sentences that weren’t dialogue until at one point I didn’t even know what was going on and had to force myself to go back over it. It still didn’t make sense.

There seems to be a half formed plot about Jules’ past that makes her obviously ‘special’, but what it is is half-assed and doesn’t make for much of a shocker moment. Yeah, of course she’s special, yeah of course she’s the only one who can save the kingdom. The rest of the characters? Kinda boring, a bit 2D. I only gave it 2.5 stars because the beginning didn’t at least drag and I kind of enjoyed the magical ‘blood-iron’ system that allowed people to pay in time.

Something very refreshing in this story however was the inclusion of LGBTQ characters within the world. While it was unfortunate that they were side characters, or extras just passing through, it really showed the kind of worlds that Holland will be writing in the future. Inclusive, diverse, and different. It’s so hard to find historical-esque fantasy that will include dragons but find non-straight people ‘unrealistic’, and so I am pleased that we’re finally building the blocks to a more well rounded genre.

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“Well, what CAN I write?”

I often hear that question in all book community circles. in replies of tweets or in Youtube and Instagram comments sections. I’ve heard it during panels at conventions, talks, and interviews.

Publishing is changing. The Young Adult community is growing and becoming more vocal, including the voices of marginalized groups such as POC and LGBTQ groups. Publishing thrives on readership and what people want to read. There’s a rise in vampire romance readership? More vampire romance novels gets printed. This is more or less the same in any publishing departments, but Young Adult communities in particular are thriving on the need for change. But, in all forms of it, there are some that don’t really understand the change; they may find it hostile or angry or even radical.

But questions like these, questions from white writers posed to POC readers and writers are important in our understanding or what it means to write diversely and how important it is.

I’m a white writer. As in, I’m white and a writer. Those two things do not usually correlate, but the more we talk about race and privilege, the more I and many others can see how these two things do affect one another. As a white person, I am more likely to identify and relate to a white character, maybe on a more subconscious level. I don’t exactly exclaim “Huh, she’s white. I like her.” I also see people like me in fiction; in movies, television and of course, in books. As a writer, I may find it automatic to write about white people (though definitely what I aim for). And hey, a white person writing about white people is fine, normal in fact.

But as publishing progresses, as writing and reading change, it is obvious that an all-white cast of characters, especially coming from a white person, is unrealistic. The world is not white people, it never was, but now that people are listening, now that POC writers are finally getting a chance to publish their work, it’s more important than ever for white writers to not get stuck in the old ways, to not see their worlds as all white people, to understand that white stories are not the only stories.

However, there is a difference between writing diversely and writing the stories that are not yours.

Ownvoices emerged as we began to celebrate the stories of gay teens by gay writers, about black teens and their struggles with racism written by black writers. Ownvoices was and still is a rejection of white stories being the only story. And yet, many white writers will have a POC protagonist with racist portrayals and dangerous depictions.

You see Twitter threads and blog posts and articles, explaining why an all-white cast won’t do, and how white writers writing ‘outside their lane’ won’t do too. And it’s where this question comes from ‘Well, what CAN I write?’, but this question is redundant.

Writers, ultimately, can write whatever they want. But it does not mean they are free from criticism. If you are getting annoyed that you cannot write an all-white cast but also cannot write a poorly researched, problematic depiction of a black, gay, disabled, mentally ill etc. protagonist, then should you really be writing at all?

I don’t think anyone has ‘the answer’ to what you can and cannot write. You’re going to mess up, and you’re going to have criticism. It’s normal and should be welcomed. Only you can decide what to write, but I think it’s important to understand that if you write a story about POC, as a white writer, you’re going to be picked to get published over a POC writer with a story about POC.

And is that right?

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