The Joys Of Learning A Language (And How You Can Do It Too)

I really love languages.

Vague, I know. But I end up saying it to myself and to other people a lot. I just really like languages. My own language, languages I’m learning, languages that I’m not, dead languages, languages that hardly anyone speaks anymore. I just…*clenches fist*.

While I know I’m not the only one (obviously), I still often feel like the only person who wants to at least try another language. Usually, people just find it to hard. Ok, I get that. Language is woven into every single part of your life and so, to understand a whole other language is to understand a whole other life, a society, a history and culture. But, usually, the rejection of other languages comes from ignorance and the desire for there to only be one language; English.

Yeah, we won’t get into that.

I wanted to talk a bit about my language learning experiences and how you, if you’re interested, can get into the wonderful world of language and how it’s not as hard as you think!

First, take it out of your mind that you have to be ‘gifted’ or have to be talented from a young age at language learning. Yes, there are going to be people who find it easier than you because they were brought up in a bilingual household or moved to another country and was forced to learn the language etc. If you want to learn, are ready to learn, and love the language you’re going to learn then you too can do it!

Next, choose your language! There are so many reasons why someone embarks on this journey; maybe your job needs a multi-lingual person? Maybe you’ve got plans to travel to multiple places and want to at least try when speaking to locals? Maybe you’re packing up and moving to a whole new country (lucky you)? Maybe there is a new part of the family who you want to get to know but they don’t know English? Or, like me, you’re a bit of a language nerd. Most of the time you won’t have a reason, and that means the pick of the litter. What language appeals to you the most? The easiest? The most challenging?

While I’m always trying to learn French and Spanish for practical reasons, the language I’m focusing on and having the most progress I’ve ever had with a language is Norwegian (Bokmal). The reasons why are actually quite simple, and I hope you can implement them into your language learning too!

memrise-appRookie mistake? Using Duolingo. I hear you all shouting ‘WHAT?’ at me while you have Duolingo open and ready. For many it is a treasure trove of language tips and tricks, but for me it’s just trying to remember weirdly worded sentences that you’ll never use. Multiple times I’ve had to translate ‘The dog is in the house’ or ‘I read while I cut oranges’ while I haven’t grasped how to ask for directions or introduce myself yet. If you’re going to use a language learning app, I’d recommend Memrise which was recommended to me by my travel buddy Anna whose Swedish is already coming along very well with the help of this app. Now, I know there’s a Duolingo app for your phone, but I always found it worked better on desktop which, to be honest, isn’t ideal. Memrise not only teaches you relevant things, it tests you over and over so that the translation comes naturally. You can use it anywhere too (hence the purpose of apps), meaning if you’ve got a few spare minutes on the bus or in the dentist waiting room, you can brush up on your vocab. There’s also an option to watch little videos of actual native speakers saying phrases normally, so you can get used to the speed and pronunciation of the sentences you’re learning.

Consuming the entertainment of another culture is also a fantastic and vital way to learn a language. The easiest way to learn a language is to surround yourself with it, and if literally moving to that country isn’t an option, the best way is to watch, listen, and read the language. For Norwegian, I’ve been soaking up the culture through television and music. Watching SKAM has opened me up to slang and with matching it with language apps and standard language learning, I’ve started to understand bits here and there without subtitles (it’s honestly a magical feeling when that happens). I’ve listened to popular radio channels too just to hear speed. I know that dialect changes depending on where you are in Norway which is normal in most languages (English in Newcastle and English in Somerset aren’t the same, for example), but I believe in Norway it’s even more so, and so I’m trying to just conquer the dialects in Oslo and the dialects used predominantly in the media. Music is great too; trying to decipher what the lyrics are is actually just as fun as singing along (and getting it royally wrong). Hearing the language constantly makes my accent and pronunciation more confident, and so I urge you to look for films in the language you’re learning, shows, youtubers from that country, podcasts, anything where you can hear and take it all in.

Learning a language by yourself begins to suck when you have no one to practice on. My dad, a language lover too, has no problems having small chats with me in French and Spanish, but completely shuts down when I talk in Norwegian. So what’s a girl to do?

Pets.

(If you don’t have a pet, skip this paragraph)

I talk to my dog, Barney, a lot. I didn’t realise how much I did until I said “Er du en godt gutte?” and he wagged his tail happily because yes, he is a good boy. I know dogs don’t respond to actual language; I know my dog doesn’t understand Norwegian, but to have someone actually reply to me in their own way that isn’t blank stares is actually really useful. So now, I just chat with him, make sure he’s good and happy, ask him if he wants a treat, and I try to make sure to do it all in Norwegian. So, if you chat to your pet (which I know you all do), see how comfortable you feel talking to them in the language you’re learning until you’re having full blown conversations about politics and the economy with them. Me and Barney haven’t got there yet, but I know he’s interested.

I never realised how much language learning had always been a large factor in why I love education in general. Maybe not the education system, but learning that through a language is a whole new world, culture, and people, living on the same polluted spec of a planet that we live on.

Let me know what languages you’re learning and how you do it if I’ve missed anything!

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On Feeling Successful (As Told Through A Trip To Copenhagen)

Two middle aged men sit across from me on the train home from Gatwick Airport.

“So what’s your youngest doing now?”
“He’s just been signed to a modelling agency! He’s only eighteen! What about your Sarah? She still at uni?”
“She graduated with a 1st, and now she’s a top marketing executive in London!”

It’s strange that this story starts at the end, when I’m tired and greasy and starving. The flight from Copenhagen to Gatwick was only 1 hour 40 minutes but adding on the waiting and the queuing and the scanning of tickets and passports I’d say it feels like an all day shindig. I rarely eavesdrop on people’s conversations, even if they’re sat so close on an empty train in the middle of the night, but the conversation between the two proud dads got to me.

As a young person who can find fault in everything I do, I find it difficult to feel like I’ve achieved something. I’m unemployed, living at home, with dreams and ambitions that can often seem out of reach. While these things aren’t things to be ashamed of, they certainly pale in comparison to others.

The feeling of success is subjective and ever changing. It can be measured in so many ways, so many little intricate threads that make you proud of the person you are. Success moves with time, and changes depending on the decades, years, months, minutes. I haven’t felt successful in a long time, but on the late night train journey back home from a few days in Copenhagen, overhearing a conversation about the large successes of others in my generation and younger did not stoke the fires of my insecurities, but allowed me to process what I had just been through, or for a better term, what I had achieved.

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Copenhagen was spontaneous. I’d been cooped up in my house, in the little bubble of my life for far too long. I wanted to leave, even just for a long weekend, to experience something else. My friends made excuses (but also valid reasons) as to why they could not come with me. While going to another country on my own is always an option, to me, that was a step too far. But Twitter wasn’t. I tweeted indirectly that I wanted to go somewhere but just had no-one to go with, and hoped someone, if anyone, would take the bait (preferably mutuals of course).

And it worked!

I’d found friends online who wanted to join me and even an old work colleague who heard about my trip. The dates were set, deposits were paid, the flights booked. And then, the anxiety kicked in. Having a ton of responsibility suddenly be hitched onto your shoulders takes a lot of getting used to, and as an impatient worrier such as myself, I found the only thing to calm myself down was to research city maps, how to get from one terminal to the next, what trains to take, where to visit and how long it will take to get there, and to research more into the hostel we were staying in (and try not to let my friend’s exclaims of ‘hostels are dangerous you’re gonna die!’ get to me).

When the morning of the flight came I was a wreck. However, when I’m that nervous, I sort of turn into a shouty army officer who wants things to be done quickly and efficiently without any mucking about. It was that morning that I realised I wouldn’t just be responsible for myself, but also for my work colleague who is younger, less experienced in travel, and just all around a bit dopey with no sense of urgency. Don’t worry, she agrees with all these things.

The feeling of pride and achievement didn’t really set in until we’d checked into our hostel and I lay on my bunk bed and took in a deep breath. I’d done it. I’d gone through the awful experience of airport security unscathed and I’d traveled to another country without any adults whilst also looking after another human. I’d gone on the metro, found the way to the hostel and walked through a city with luggage (a big fear of mine is getting mugged).

And then beyond that; I was able to find my way around a whole new city which was in a different language, tried new foods, met new people, slept in a room with strangers, made decisions for where to eat (because my friends can’t make decisions), and made sure my friend didn’t walk into the many bicycles around the city. I also counted her money for her, made sure she didn’t accidentally shop lift, checked her bag was closed, and got her to stop asking me permission to do something/go somewhere. I was an independent traveler and also a mum.

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I visited a beautiful city in a beautiful country, experienced something new, and looked after myself in a way I haven’t in a really long time. I felt strong, I felt independent, I felt capable. And that to me, is a success. So, while I may not have a top job in London, a fancy apartment, or a million followers on Instagram, I was able to sit on the night train back home and feel just as proud as the dads sat opposite me.

And don’t worry, there’ll be a guide to Copenhagen coming soon!

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The Four Star Crisis

I did not realise that the star rating system was something I used so much in my life.

I use it for books, films, restaurants, hotels, years (2016 got 0 stars obviously), nightclubs, makeup, I could go on. But recently I’ve been having trouble try to explain myself as to why I’ve given a book a certain number of stars.

Goodreads doesn’t exactly force you to use their star rating system, but enough people still complain about it, one of the biggest complaints being that there aren’t half star ratings. I get it; you’ve signed up to a website where you want better explain yourself as to why you loved/hated a book. You want to be a little more precise, and sometimes a star rating system doesn’t really do it justice.

And while I haven’t really had a problem using it before, I’ve noticed a trend in the books I’ve been rating.

I bloody love to use four stars.

A lot of people on their blogs have a set of guidelines as to what they mean when they give a book a certain amount of stars, but I’ve never done that. I didn’t want to be so rigid in my rating, but it now comes across as slightly confusing, especially to myself. The only star ratings that seem to explain enough are one star (fucking awful) and five stars (fucking incredible), and while I rarely use two stars because I might as well just knock it down to one and only use three if the book was average, I use four stars to the point where the books rated do not have the same opinion from me anymore.

Four stars, for me, has been the ‘could have been five stars, but wasn’t just quite there’, which is a good enough explanation. But recently, the lines have blurred. The books aren’t mediocre, but they’re probably not something I’d read again. Some are strong four stars and some are weak four stars, but does that mean I’m using four stars too liberally? Is a four star a watered down five star or a heavily concentrated three star?

Why must you torture me this way, four stars??

Am I being too nice? Too cruel? Looking at my Goodreads, there’s far too many four star books; some I read the sequels eagerly, and some I have given away almost instantly. I turned my back on those books.

Maybe it’s time for something different. Maybe the star rating system is not good enough to explain how I feel about a book. Not all the books I read can be four stars. Otherwise, what’s the point in rating them if they all have the same rating?

How do you go about rating books, if at all? What do you think about when deciding how many stars to give a book? What makes a book receive a half star, or even lose one? What’s your opinion on the dreaded four star dilemma?

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La La Land & The Way I’m Consuming Entertainment

There is really something about going to the cinema on your own.

There is no quarrel with what you’re going to see, nor what food you’re going to eat. You can choose exactly where you’re going to sit, and you are most definitely going to be on time. Everything works in your favor when going to see a film alone, with the only problem being that you can’t actually discuss the film with anyone afterwards. You’re left there, with your thoughts, until you go home and find someone to talk about it with, and this is probably someone who hasn’t seen the film anyway.

Seeing La La Land was my first experience seeing a film alone, and it wasn’t until half way through that I realised something was wrong.

I suffer from depression, and one of the main symptoms is lack of focus/interest. Sometimes I do struggle to watch a whole film or I take a long time to read a whole book, but in this scenario I was entirely focused; I had no other stimuli to distract me from what was on screen, and I nearly teared up right there in the cinema because I thought my mental health was destroying this lovely experience I was supposed to be having.

But, this is ridiculous! I’ve been to the cinema before, watched a film before, and been disappointed with the film. It wasn’t my lack of interest to blame, it was the film in those instances. So why was it different now?

I realised I knew exactly what it was, and I was a mixture of both grateful and sad.

La La Land should be a film that I fall in love with. Not only is it about artists who struggle to do what they love while understanding that ‘doing what you love’ doesn’t always pay the bills, it’s musical, colourful, and has stunning cinematography. I’m known to be a fan of this kind of film-making. Films like Moulin Rouge! Scott Pilgrim vs The World, and Her. Shows like Pushing Daisies, The Get Down, and Sherlock. Visually stunning media is my jam, and La La Land should have been a perfect addition.

It had a love story, music, dancing, heart-breaking moments. But this thing that I’d realised about the way I was now consuming media had upset me so much because I had thought it had ruined my enjoyment of the things I love. But it hadn’t. What it had actually done is brought me more awareness about the issues regarding who wins and who doesn’t when it comes to the film industry.

(La La Land spoilers ahead)

La La Land does not actually have a plot. Like many films that are just made to win awards, the film has a basic premise with the distractions of fun musical numbers and pretty colours. But, because of what I’d learned through listening to people discuss the racism in certain books, I could only see Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) obsess over Jazz and how it should be played/listened to while everyone else around him (the people in the band, in the jazz clubs) was black. Jazz is a genre of music derived from the black communities of New Orleans. It was played in speak-easies and in clubs and at parties and has grown into a whole genre that can be enjoyed and played by everyone. But it irked me so much that, this large part of black culture was so prevalent in this movie…and we still focused on the one white guy in the room. The only speaking role a black character had was John Legend’s character, and he was painted as a little bit like an antagonist who wanted to ‘ruin the jazz sound’. It was Sebastian who we were supposed to be rooting for; that one white guy who we’re supposed to consider a visionary when actually he’s just doing what all the black extras are doing, but also throwing hissy fits because things aren’t going his way.

I’ll watch things and the first thing I’ll notice is ‘everyone is white’, and you don’t realise how prevalent it is when you can do it with almost all films and shows. Sherlock is set in London, where 40% of the British Muslim population lives, but according to Sherlock’s London, they just do not exist. HBO’s Girls is set in Brooklyn, where half the population is POC, and all the main girls are white.

Race is not just the issue, but sexuality too. I can watch a show, a film, or read a book and the first thing I will notice is ‘everyone is straight’. Everyone. No matter how many couples you throw in there (I’m looking at you, Sarah J. Maas and Stephenie Meyer), every single one of those couples is straight, and it’s so frustrating because I’m disappointed. How can you thoughtfully write a book, a show, a film, and just completely disregard a whole group of people so easily?

I think, when you grow, and your tastes change, and what you look for in entertainment changes, you always get a little bit annoyed. If you re-read a book that you loved in the past but then realise it wasn’t what it was cracked up to be, or watch a film that looks right up your street but it’s just not the same, I think you do feel a sense of loss. But, to think that this awareness has ruined my taste is a very ignorant way to think. In fact, I want to see it positively, because it’s enlightening. I feel like the blinkers have finally come off, and I’m now seeing the screen in wider definition.

I am tired of seeing/reading the stories that are constantly being told about the same groups of people, written and created by the same groups of people. And this is from me, a cis, able-bodied white person where most of western entertainment is about me.  I cannot even imagine being a young child and consuming so much media and never seeing yourself represented, never seeing the black actress in the main role, never reading about a girl in a Hijab saving the world, or never watching a boy fall in love with another boy. Entertainment plays a large part in forming opinions and views of the outside world, and while the film industry is changing and progressing into something more inclusive, it baffles me that films with the same plots still take all the awards for being revolutionary.

La La Land has won a lot of awards, and I can definitely see why. While the storytelling is a little different and is definitely a homage to the golden age of cinema, it is still the same story being told. It is still two white, straight people falling in love. It is still a story of struggle where there is no struggle, just handouts and connections.

Go see La La Land. Go and enjoy yourself. Laugh and cry and sing a long with it; I am not saying it cannot be enjoyed (clearly, it can be), but for me, this film has definitely been a turning point in the way I am going to enjoy books and films and shows from now on.

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Hollie’s Favourite Shows 2016

I’m not much of a television watcher. With a withering attention span and a lack of liking things at the moment, I find it very hard to concentrate on something that is 40 minutes long. But sometimes there are shows that just pull you in and sink their teeth in, and this year, despite being awful, is no exception:

 

THE GET DOWN (Netflix, 2016-)

So this one was a no brainer. Baz Luhrmann is my favourite director, so anything written/produced/directed by him, I’m gunna watch. I was a little apprehensive to watch The Get Down, just because I wasn’t sure how Luhrmann, a director who lives for the epic, would be able to boil that down into episodes. But boy, he done good.

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The Get Down follows Ezekiel, a teenager from the Bronx during the 1970’s, where DJ’s were kings of their quarters and insurance companies were burning down buildings for profit. Ezekiel, along with his friends, join the rise of Hip Hop and try to find their place in a society that devalues their communities and would rather leave it to the flames.

First of all, The Get Down has fantastic rep. I think maybe there are one or two white people? And they’re side characters anyway. It is about the people and their music and their part of NYC that was known for it’s crime and it’s fires. Pretty much all of the cast aren’t well-known, and they do an amazing job of making themselves known.

And the music and the way it’s fucking filmed. In true Luhrmann fashion, The Get Down is musical, colourful, hilarious, sometimes outlandish, and beautifully filmed. It is a true gem that not enough people are watching.

BLACK MIRROR (Netflix, 2016)

I wrote a whole review on this season of Black Mirror, but I’ll talk about it here too.

I’ve always been a fan of Black Mirror ever since it began. I rarely watch British television nowadays, and despite this season not being on Channel 4 anymore, I still consider it British. Black Mirror is similar to The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected, whereby each episode is a different setting, cast, and plot. It is speculative, and is usually a modern setting painted with the technologies of tomorrow, usually a lot more sinister than we may think.

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I’m a wimp, and so everything scares me. I hate being scared, but Black Mirror is the type that stays with you so long as you question the morality of humanity. I cannot stress enough to not watch it on your own, especially since it makes for great discussion afterwards. I go into detail on each episode in the review, and you don’t have to watch them in any order. That includes the previous seasons as well.

 

YURI ON ICE (Crunchyroll, 2016-)

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be talking about anime. I rarely watch it, and only stumbled upon Yuri on Ice because of Twitter. I watched one episode and was HOOKED.

This groundbreaking sports anime is about Yuri Katsuki, a failed figure skater and his progression back to being the best skater in the world, with thanks to his newly appointed coach, skating superstar Victor Nikiforov.

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Not only is this anime so unlike others I’ve watched, it’s taken the idea of rampant queerbaiting that anime seems to enjoy, and blown it out of the water. There is a canon same sex relationship in this show, and while there are censors that forbid it to be outright, the writers and creators of this show have all stated they’ve tried to get as much passed the censors as possible to portray this happy gay couple.

It’s hilarious, beautiful, and the skating is very accurate. The plot is fantastic and detailed, and you will laugh at other anime that has to resort to queerbaiting to get views.

SKAM (NRK3, 2015 – )

And now, saving the best til’ last, is SKAM (Shame), a Norwegian drama that follows a bunch of high school students in Oslo. Each season follows a different teen as they tackle topics such as misogyny, bullying, homophobia, mental health, rape culture, and everything else that gets shat on teenagers.

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This show is one of the most realistic shows I’ve ever come across. And, while I’m not a teenager or Norwegian, I find the characters and the content very relatable. Julie Andem, the show’s creator, spent a year travelling around Norway and interviewed thousands of teenagers to help form the realistic portrayal of her characters. All the actors (at the time of filming) are teenagers, and continually help the writers if they think something their character would say is unrealistic or unlike teenagers.

Not only that, but the show is heavily interactive, and has a blog that continually updates in real time when something happens in the show. Whether it be a clip, an instagram, or a text conversation, you never know when it’s going to update. It means you get to follow the main characters life like reality television. It’s beautiful and horrific at the same time.

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SKAM has recently gotten popular internationally due to Tumblr, and the show has become the most watched show in Norway. Season three is just coming to an end, following the life of second year Isak Valtersen, who is coming to terms with his sexuality and falling in love with third year, Even Bech Næshiem. I think a lot of people have watched and will only watch season three, and I made a post a while ago as to possible problematic reasons as to why it’s Isak’s season specifically that has gotten so popular. I think the majority, however, are just celebrating realistic and beautiful LGBT representation. But honestly, watching seasons one and two are an experience in themselves, and focus on Eva (S1) and Noora (S2), two girls a part of a group that you don’t really see in season three, so it’s worth the watch.

This show, from the actors to the soundtrack to the editing to the interactivity is just phenomenal. Please, go watch it. (We’re hoping Netflix will buy it and slap on English subtitles).

What shows have you been loving this year? I know at least one of you will mention Gilmore Girls.

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Fetishisation & LGBT Representation

So a television show has taken over my life. It’s not the first time it’s happened.

I recently started watching a Norwegian show called SKAM, which feels like a tamer version of Skins where I actually like all the characters and the plot lines aren’t juvenile. Skam is currently in it’s third season, and each season focuses on a specific character who all attend this one high school in Oslo. It’s a small time show, and has not garnered much attention until season three; where the main character is teenage boy, Isak, who is coming to terms with the possibility that he might not be straight and falls in love with another boy.

This sudden surge has got a lot of people questioning just why it is suddenly popular, but I think it would be stupid to not assume it’s because this show has two cute boys kissing in it. And the original fans of SKAM have noticed this too.

This does not apply to SKAM alone; shows, films, and books have all gained attention if there is a couple you can ship, and while seeing queer canon couples in media is hard evidence of progress, it can also pose many problems.

I’ve written many blog posts about books with LGBT representation, about why personally seek out LGBT fiction and also explain why all the stories I write include LGBT people in them. It is a subject close to my heart, and being queer myself, I think it’s very important to represent the diversity of sexuality in many ways, but especially on the subject of puberty and your teenage years.

It is why when I saw a gif of two male characters kissing, I sought out SKAM.

But there is a fine line between being desperate for LGBT representation that you’ll consume anything with it in, and fetishising queer relationships. It’s difficult, because fetishisation can very easily come across as support; having a whole army of viewers/readers/consumers enjoying a story that is predominantly about a queer couple/character and being full on vocal about it speaks volumes to writers, showrunners, producers, studios, and publishers. It is telling these gatekeepers that ‘this is the content we want to see, we want LGBT people in the stories we share, so please include them.’

However, at the same time, you have these same fans not enjoying content when there are no sexual scenes. At the moment in the SKAM story line (from when I drafted this post), Even, Isak’s love interest, has not been around for a few days (and is not replying to Isak’s texts). SKAM releases clips of the upcoming episode every day to create suspense, and it sometimes feels like I’m watching reality television. It leaves the viewer begging for more content where they will see Isak happy (he’s very stressed and sad at the moment) by us all chanting to bring Even back. But at the same time, are we wanting Even back so that Isak and Even can make out? If that’s the case, what is the point in the heart-wrenching story of Isak coming to terms with his sexuality? Of homophobia in his high school? Of his family situation?

These are not examples of being an LGBT ally, nor is it being supportive of LGBT relationships in fiction. This is fetishisation; when you do not want a story, when you could not care less about the struggles and the discrimination that LGBT people deal with on the daily, you just want to see two hot guys kiss. And it’s the same reason we look down on lesbian porn that is purely for the male gaze (and not actually for queer women).

I feel like this kind of viewership/readership is what creates queerbaiting. Queerbaiting is a downright stupid thing that is a result of consumers wanting to see ‘cute LGBT relationships’, and writers/producers/studios finding a way to gain that viewership without pissing off conservatives and the average viewer. Shippers will be able to identify subtle hints, while the rest of the nation can peacefully watch their shows without having to be confronted with ‘the gays’.

Examples of this include shows like Teen Wolf, that continually pointed out the possibility of Stiles being bisexual, including amping up shipping opportunities with another character, Derek Hale. However, if you completely disregard that idea, you can easily ignore it, as it is clearly not the case. And, as producers and writers have said in interviews, Stiles is straight. Yet they still include queerbaiting within their show to make sure they do not lose that viewership.

SKAM, like many shows, novels, and films (although less so), are front runners in the demand for more representation. They are unabashedly diverse, representative, and supportive of the LGBT community and their stories. I think if you love to ship (as we all do), I hope you are able to take a step back and consider why you are doing so. Of course, you want to see them together because you love them together, but it’s important to not boil down queer story lines to just their sex scenes. It is bad for representation as a whole and does no good in the long run.

And don’t get me started on real life shipping.

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NANOWRIMO 2016 IS A GO!

Welcome to November.

November, for many writers, is a time to get that story rolling around your brain onto the page. It turns out, deadlines are a great way for me to actually get shit done, and so every year I try my hand at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a competition that gets you to write 50,000 words in one month, with the reward being the first draft of a novel that YOU wrote.

I plan on chronicling my four weeks of writing with a little mini series where I wrap up the week. Kind of like my ‘Road to Publishing’ series, but on steroids. In this post, I just wanted to share the plot of my novel this year, as well as links and things where I talk about writing and where you can connect with me!

So far, my novel has the working title Royal Blood, which I wouldn’t mind keeping anyway. I don’t have a fancy, clean, worked out summary, so here’s a little ramble of ideas;

Set in a kingdom where winter dominates, a king is slowly dying. His two children, Marika and Gabriel Noskov, will never be ready for the throne. Gabriel, a soft-hearted, weak, and timid prince, prefers friendship with the servants and keeping his power of persuasion to himself. Marika, his younger sister, is soulless and uncaring, enjoying the presence of no one and reveling in the myth that she is a monster.

When other kingdoms hear of Gabriel Noskov’s inevitable rise to the throne, three princesses arrive to court with the determination to become his wife and Queen of Kamarov. But the positions of power are shifting, when Gabriel recognizes the power he holds, and Marika discovers her heart in one of the princesses.

Feel free to add me on Nanowrimo, and I’ll be tweeting a lot about writing and Nano-goodness over on Twitter. Happy writing!

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