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Day 4

Day 04:Your first stories/characters. 

Errrr...like, very first?  Back in childhood?  I'm not sure I can remember back that far...

I do recall that I liked to write about a lot of fairy-tale/fantasy type stuff.
There was a story called "The Crystal Heart" I wrote when I was about eleven, maybe? I don't recall the character's names but the girl was sent to England to stay with her uncle and ended up in a magical kingdom.  And somehow helped save the day, obviously.  For some reason my parents made a bunch of copies and mailed it to all my relatives.

Then there was a story I was developing when I was between 12-14 about a girl named Katrina who was raised as a tavern wench but dreamed of adventure, and was eventually whisked to a kingdom where her best friends were a mermaid named Shimmer, a dragon, and a Prince named Wesley.  And she didn't know it, but she was actually a fairy princess.

Wow, okay so that's really embarrassing to write down, but in my head it was this whole Disney-style story and I'd often draw pictures of scenes and characters.  I also ended up loosely basing Wesley on my first irl crush, so.  :P

I wish I could say that I wrote more sophisticated things, but alas.  Though I did write a short story in my science class when asked to speculate about what we thought was on the other side of black holes...


Day 3

Day 03: How do you come up with character names? 

Ooh, this is a good one.
So, I have a few different methods.  
The first is, I like to use the names of people I've known or read about.  For example, in the Dark Lightning Trilogy, I used a lot of my college friends' names kind of mishmashed together.  I think about the kind of people I've known with certain names; sometimes I just need to like how a name sounds.  
But I'm also a big believer in using a name dictionary.  Even if the name meaning has no bearing on the story, I think it's important to know what it is.  

Anna, for example, means "grace or favor."
Davin, incidentally, is listed as meaning "intelligent, shining  and beloved," depending on the country of origin.

Do they have a bearing on their characters?  You'll just have to read to find out...

Day 2

Day 02 :  How many char­ac­ters do you have? Do you pre­fer males or females? 

Hmm, how many characters?  I have no idea.  I mean...I'd say there's around 20 characters with names and dialogue just in Tall, Dark Streak of Lightning alone.  
As for my preference, I prefer to write from a female perspective (because hello, I am a female!  I can get into the mindset much more easily than a man's, obviously!).  But I do like the challenge of writing the opposite sex.  


30 Day Writer's Challenge

So I've decided to get back in the habit of using this blog by doing a 30 day questionnaire about my writing.
As a bonus, I get to pretend I'm participating in the world's longest interview. ;)

So anyway, on to question #1:

Day 01: Your favorite writ­ing project/universe that you've worked with. 

Though this is tough, I'm leaning towards The Dark Lightning Trilogy.  That could partly be because I've worked on it the most over a long period of time, and I've grown very attached to the characters.  It could also be because it's what I'm currently spending most of my mental energy on.

But the story that eventually became a trilogy (...and inspired a subsequent spin-off trilogy...) was the first one I ever felt a relentless desire to write.  Night after night I would sit typing at the computer or scribbling in notebooks.  It was the first story I "had" to tell.  A lot of ideas have come and gone, or are in various stages of revision on my external hard drive as I write this.  

The story of Davin and Anna, though not set in a different universe but a city I came to know and love, is one that I've grown very fond of.  I'm fond of all my stories and ideas in different ways, but I do feel a little like "Tall, Dark Streak of Lightning" is my baby.  Well, my first born of triplets, you might say. :)

I think what it comes down to is that I have a lot of deep, strong feeling about these two characters--to the point where sometimes they seem very real to me, and simply that Anna dropped by one day to tell me her life story, and I happened to write it down.  It's a pretty powerful feeling.


So I'm back on blogger now.
I admit, it's been a long while.

I was using a few other social networking sites to connect with people, but I think this is the best place to sort house all my more "authorly stuff."

But I'd just like to apologize for not updating my reading list in over a year.
I still don't know how often I'll be using this; I may try to start posting thoughts regularly again.  And maybe a bit more of my writing.

I guess it depends on whether anyone is actually reading this....


No Means Maybe No...

“No Means Maybe No: Rape Culture as a Result of What We Teach Our Children”

On the road to destroying rape culture, I’ve seen & read a lot of good ideas.  I do believe we need to change the mindset of the majority, and while I concur that it means not telling girls “don’t get raped” but teaching boys “don’t rape” I think we can agree that this is an issue deeper than gender.  The responsibility is not on women to not get raped, but the responsibility is on ALL of us to change the way we treat each other, and the way we educate younger generations.

While the Stubenville trial and the fallout from it unfolded, I couldn’t help but notice some basic parallels between the boy who were charged and their defenses, and the kinds of behavior I see on a daily basis. 
I work with young children—at an elementary school—and I have for about a decade.  While each child is unique and individual, as a group, they tend to fit into certain behavioral patterns and developmental stages.  If you have kids, work with them, plan to work with them, or even just have a kid somewhere in your family, this is relevant to you.  This isn’t just about what moms and dads and teachers should be teaching kids.  This is about all of us.  And I can share three things that I see contributing to the perpetuation of rape culture.

1.      Children need to learn to treat EVERYONE with respect.  Kids learn very early on how to categorize people into sup groups and draw subtle lines dividing themselves from Others.  This is an easy stepping stone to behaviors like dehumanizing and vilifying another person for being different, not agreeing with you, or not letting you have what you want.  There is an eerie parallel between a child who hurts another child, blames the other person, and says he or she deserves it, and a case like the Stubenville rapes.  If a child learns that every human is worthy of respect and basic human decency, they are more able to empathize instead of vilify.  If children understand that people are other humans just like them, with the same feelings, needs, and desires, then they are less likely to feel entitled to belittle their existence, and take from them.  This has applications far beyond gender issues and rape; this can change how other races and religions and cultures are viewed.  

2.      We need to stop the entitlement culture.  This is not a political statement; this is an observation.  The next time you are around a child, even if it’s just a kid down the aisle from you at the grocery store, I want you to watch carefully what happens when they are denied something they want (but do not need).  Chances are you will see wailing, tantrums, and the absolute breakdown of what minutes ago may have seemed like a normal, well-adjusted child.  Even in older children, who have mostly learned to control themselves, you are likely to witness eye rolling, huffy sighs, foot stamping, negativity, complaining, and whining.  (These are all things I deal with on a daily basis.) 

I am not sure how it happened, but kids today to not expect to be denied anything.  If they want something, whether it is an object or an action they wish to carry out, they feel entitled to it.  The parallels now grow even clearer: a rapist is a person who has never learned that “no means no.”  Most children today learn from an early age that “no” is negotiable.  It is a temporary obstacle, and they have an artillery of tactics to get past it.  A caregiver may grow weary of the battle and give in, reinforcing the idea that “no means maybe.” 

3.      There need to be consequences.  I am in no way an advocate of harsh punishments for children.  I don’t want to bring paddling back to schools, however effective it might have been in the past.  However, I don’t feel our current level of follow-through is getting the job done, either.  I fully understand how challenging it is to enforce a negative consequence.  As I said above, denying a child something they want brings on a barrage of manipulation.  I have seen children spiral into tears over the simplest things, and lose control when asked to sit quietly for a few moments.  This is what they do.  They will test the boundaries.  They will make their caregivers feel like horrible humans for even the smallest of consequences.  They will be hostile and defensive when they are held responsible for their actions.  There will be lies and denials even in the face of evidence.  This is the very moment caregivers must be at their most firm.  A caregiver can be calm and firm yet still compassionate when carrying out a consequence, and they must remind themselves that this is absolutely necessary.  A child MUST learn this.  Otherwise, you end up with two teenage boys crying in a courtroom because they are being punished for a horrible crime. 

I would never want to give the impression that I am holding current and past generations of parents responsible for the rap culture we currently live in.  (Or even that I am pointing fingers of blame at the parents of the two boys in the Stubenville trial).  I am simply pointing out some issues I have seen, which, if unchecked, will likely only perpetuate rape culture in the future (as well as other issues, I’m sure). 

I love children and it is a privilege to work with them (most of the time).  They are funny and creative and brilliant, but they need guidance.  They don’t know that they have a long way to go and a lot to learn.  They often think that they know better than adults (something which is reinforced by the media—but that is another rant for another time).  As adults, we may feel too broken and confused about life to properly guide a child.  But it is the responsibility of all of us to work together to nurture a different outlook on the world, so that future generations do not have to grow up as scared as we often are.