Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Reviews 2015, Part Two

Hello! It's time for Part Two of my book reviews 2015 posts. The first one I did in March, here. As aforementioned in that post, my reading goal for this year is 36 books. Still depressingly behind on that goal, but I'm reading more than I would have otherwise, considering the lures of the Internet.

Because of school and laziness, I've read less these months. Two books in April, three in May, and so far one in June. :( The April books are books I read for a school project, technically, but I picked them out myself, and the project was about Indian YA books, and... I'm counting them because I don't have enough.

Get ready for some book reviews:

APRIL

8. Sita's Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar
This graphic novel retells the classic Indian epic of the Ramayana from the point of view of Rama's wife, Sita. I read this book in about two hours, so it was fairly short, but it was very good. Both feminist and intercultural cooperation themes made this version of the Ramayana stand out from others. The art was utterly striking. And the writing voice really gave life to Sita, one of my favorite characters from the original epic. All in all, I'd recommend this book for any middle-grade reader. (It was classed as YA when I was doing my research to find YA books for the project, but I think YA has a different meaning in India; MG books tend to be classed with YA more often).

9. Faces in the Water by Ranjit Lal
Another book for my project, I really loved this one. I put it off to the last minute, naturally, but once I got into it I couldn't stop reading it. This book tackles the issue of female infanticide, which you'd think would make the book weighed down with heavy dark undertones. On the contrary, it's a delightful read. I laughed out loud more than once while reading it and I loved the characters so much that I drew fan art of them instead of paying attention in class (OK, that's not much of a recommendation because I do that all the time. But you know). Despite the lighthearted feeling of the book, it didn't shy away from the depth of the issue it was discussing. The main character, Gurmi, discovers that his parents killed the sisters he never knew he had when they were newborns, for the sake of keeping up the "boys only" tradition. He meets the ghosts of his sisters and through his interactions with them and with his relatives, he develops a more complex view of women's role in society. This is another book I'd recommend to older middle-grade readers: it has dark themes, but it's written in such a way that you enjoy it and it makes you think about important subjects without giving long lectures.

MAY

10. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
Yes, another Fairyland book. My last book review post included two books from this series, and when the fourth book came out, naturally I had to read it. This one veers from my beloved protagonist September and her companions, and instead focuses on a troll named Hawthorn who becomes a changeling. He gets traded with a human boy in Chicago named Tom and thus loses all his memories of Fairyland, except for the fact that his personality is still that of a troll. So his childhood is crazy, since he's expecting to do magic stuff all the time, and his human parents think he's literally insane. His journey to self-discovery and the path back to Fairyland to switch back takes up most of the book. As always, Valente's writing is superb and the plot is wonderful. I did really miss the Fairyland-centric stories and I really missed September and her friends, who weren't in it much. But now I'm soooo excited for the last book which is coming out an eternity from now.

11. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Oh, this book was so good! Let's get one thing straight: this is totally a guilty-pleasure read. A romance that develops too fast, an Evil Villain, a futuristic world that doesn't make a lot of sense, a Cinderella story. I'm not saying it's great literature. But it's suuuuuch a good book. The worldbuilding, although not perfect, was creative: cyborgs and psychic moon people and traditional Chinese palaces filled with androids. The way the Cinderella story unfolds is a fun experience, although spoiler, there isn't really much in the way of a fairy godmother, which was a disappointment. I was hoping for some, like, robot fairy, I don't know. And the other, more intense stories about the plague and the Lunars and stuff, are all exciting to read. Soon enough I'll read the next books in the series. I definitely recommend it; it's a great read.

12. Harmless by Dana Reinhardt
Boring. I made that the first sentence of the review so that you imagine that someone's saying the title and I instantly blurt out "Boring" but not with an exclamation point, just an instant sigh of "Boring." God, it's so boring. It's about three teenage girls whose lives are already boring: one who's always been unpopular but now she wants to be cool, one who's sick of her boring friend, one who's kinda popular because she's "edgy." The high school version of edgy, which means she hangs out with seniors and has sipped beer in her life before. Anyway, they make up a lie to get away with going to a party with seniors, and the lie gets out of hand and their lives get kinda messed up. The message of the book seems to be "don't lie," but it's not done well, because if they had just been BETTER at lying they would have gotten away with it. There's some discussion of sexual assault which is done better than in most YA books on the subject, but that's about all I can say to recommend the book. It's really dull, it's written like a guidance counselor who thinks she knows what teenage girls' brains are like is writing it, and the plot is predictable and not interesting at all. Don't read it. The only reason to read it would be if you're an eighth grader who needs a book for a book report and you don't want something too crazy.

JUNE

13. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
This is a beautiful book. It's set in a fantasy version of Russia, which some online reviewers have pointed out is a bit cultural-appropriation-y because it's not very accurate, but for someone who's clueless about Russia, it's a nice change from your average Lord of the Rings fantasy world. It's about an orphan who discovers as a young adult that she's a Grisha, or a magic person. Grisha in this world have the ability to do one magic thing, usually bending some sort of element, although some can do stuff like changing people's faces or amplifying others' powers. The protagonist, Alina, gets sucked into the Grisha world because her power is extra special: she's a Sun Summoner, which means she could potentially summon enough light to destroy the Shadow Fold, this dark monster-infested swath of land that's been ruining their country. She gets extra attention from the mysterious and strangely attractive leader, the Darkling. I know what you're thinking: "kill me now, he's 'strangely attractive,' is he? Let me guess, she just can't stay away from him and they make out for no reason." I'm not going to spoil it but let me just say you may be pleasantly surprised. Trust me. Keep reading it. There's a patch in the middle that's a little slow and irritating, which is a downside, but if you keep reading, it gets much better. All in all, the world is beautiful, the characters are cool, and the plot is gripping. The writing is a little eh, but it's made up for by the plot in my opinion.

OK, so 13 books. I should be at 18. 5 behind, ugh. A few years ago adding 5 books to July would have been a treat. Now the Internet has ruined me. I can barely focus. I need to get into this other book I got, Code Name Verity. The beginning was great but I'm having trouble really getting into that book phase where you can't put it down. Even with Harmless I had that book phase because I wanted to finish it. And yet, here I am, still Tumblr-ing the night away instead of reading this obviously good book. What has become of me?

Hopefully my next book review post, which should be in September, will have more books. See you on Saturday for my new experience post! I should actually have one this week!
-Ariel

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Enjoyable Stuff I've Seen on the Internet Lately

Hi! So I'm not in the mood for a proper blog post so I'm just going to do one on the only thing I've really done this past... entire lifetime of mine, which is go on the Internet and find stupid stuff. This week, much like every week, the Internet has been filled with all sorts of ridiculous nonsense, but instead of focusing on that, I'm just going to pick out the enjoyable stuff and provide some links for you. (We can safely assume I got nearly all this stuff from Tumblr recommendations.) Here we go:

-There is at least one food-related holiday in America for every single day of the year. This website tells you almost all of them. So if you need an excuse to eat a food, just check what food day it is.

-Generate your own map on this website. Useful for making up fantasy worlds for books and stuff, or just for fun.

-Hang out on Google Street View at fun places like the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal with this list of direct links to those locations. (This is a link to when I reblogged the post on my Tumblr, since the original post has disappeared.)

-A set of calming gifs. Warning that the link has music that automatically plays when you click it.

-A photoset of animals in teacups!!!

-This little cartoon has food with a bunch of faces on it. When you hover over different things, they make noises and sing songs and stuff. It's super fun.

-Hank Green breaks down where all our college tuition is going. Pretty interesting.

-This is from more than a month ago (but so is a lot of this stuff haha) but I never got to share it and I like it so here it is: a Superwoman video I really like called "I'm Not Sorry."

-This short comic is vitally important.

-And finally: Have you ever wondered what cheese is perfect for your Zodiac sign? Wonder no more.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully next week I'll have a real post.
-Ariel

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Day Without Internet- What to Do?

This post is late, but it is posted nonetheless, which is exceeding expectations for me, I think. :)

So what was my new experience this past week? First off, a quick recap of my new experience from last week because it was fun. My best friend Rachel and I have decided we need to learn to cook, and my mom, being a great cook and a great teacher, decided to help us with this goal. She's giving us weekly cooking lessons, and the first one was last week. We learned how to make a dish inspired by one of my favorite Iranian dishes back from before I was a vegetarian, rice with choresh, that has a real name in Farsi but I don't know it. Anyway, my mom figured out a veg version of it that we call "lemony lentils" and we made it for the first lesson. (This week's lesson was pasta with broccoli. Super delicious.)

Anyway, this week I did something a little different. My mom suggested that I spend one day without Internet. You see, I spend waaaaaaaay too much time on the Internet. In fact, I had a dream last night that I was in a room full of people and a man was asking us all to tell a secret, and my secret was that I'm addicted to the Internet. It's gone a little far. I mean, I know I'm on the Internet now, but this is a blog I'm writing. It's one thing to check my email, listen to music, write my blog, and keep in touch with friends- it's another to scroll Tumblr for HOURS on end.

I corrupted my mother by introducing her to Buzzfeed a few years ago, and she realized that her Internet habits were beginning to get a little too close to mine. So, because she's actually responsible, she decided to spend one day a week without going on the computer. She chose Saturday, which lines up with Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. Technically, we're not supposed to use any technology, but our family's not that religious. Still, just abstaining from using the computer does make the day better.

So she asked me, this Saturday, to try and not use the computer for a whole day. I thought to myself, "yeah, OK, I won't let you see me use the computer for a whole day." In the morning, I checked my Skype and saw I had 380 messages, then I decided, you know what, I can try this no-Internet thing for one day. Just until the sun sets and Shabbat is technically over.

So I closed the computer after two minutes of looking at Skype, and then commenced my day without Internet. And here is what I did:
  • Tried on a great new flowy dress. It's one of those fancy kinds that has a really long flowy skirt. I'm bad at describing clothes. But it was fun to wear.
  • Looked at old photo albums. My parents have taken literally tens of thousands of photos of me and my sister, I'm pretty sure. And before we went digital, my mom would sort through the photos and pick the best ones to stick in old albums and put funny captions underneath. So I got to see cute baby me, cute toddler me, and cute baby Shir (my little sister, who photobombed half my nice photos). And my mom told me stories of me and my sister as kids.
  • Lay on my bed for a while and whined about not having Internet.
  • Finished a really good book, Shadow and Bone. (You're likely to hear about it in an upcoming post where I do Part 2 of my book review series.)
  • Went on a walk with my dad to a nearby park. I've been walking with my mom every day this summer so I'm a little more in shape than I was before, which isn't saying much, since I was in horrible shape before. Still fun, though. We went to the park and looked at the trees and talked and stuff. On the way there, my dad spotted what he thought was an edible mushroom attached to a tree. He took a photo of it and put it on his mushroom-lovers Facebook group. (Yes, this is a real thing.) On the way back, the group had responded that it looked like an edible mushroom called the Chicken of the Wood. So we Googled that mushroom and compared the two and then we concluded that it was probably safe and harvested some to take home. He later ate some of it. I did not, because I'm not that adventurous.
  • Watched the movie Big Fish. I've already seen it, but it's a fun movie. It's directed by Tim Burton but it's not, like, a Tim Burton movie. It's really good. It's about stories and things, and there's a crap-ton of good actors.
  • Made myself two good meals (besides the cold pizza I had for breakfast, the best meal of all): Triscuits with goat cheese and blackberries for lunch, and a sandwich for dinner consisting of avocado, tomatoes, red onions, spinach, feta, and honey mustard on homemade garlic-rosemary bread. Yum.
  • Made my family watch Parks and Recreation with me. My dad hates Season 1 so I said we could skip to Season 2. For those trying to convert their loved ones to the ways of Parks and Rec, this is usually the most efficient strategy. Season 1 is uphill work, but Season 2 is endearingly awkward.
After that, it was like 8 PM, and the sun hadn't set but I thought it was late enough, and I returned to the Internet. And naturally skipped my blog post, because I had a WHOLE DAY of doing nothing to catch up on! Still, it was great to not go on the Internet. I got to spend time with my family and do all that aforementioned stuff.  And I tend to be in a better mood when I'm not agitated the whole time wondering what Tumblr posts I'm missing out on that I need to get directly back to. So that's good.

Despite this, it should be a long time before I really give up on my Internet addict ways. I'm not exactly great at recovery. This was still a good experience, though.

Thanks for reading! See you on Wednesday for a post about my dad's weird new diet (he wants to promote it.)
-Ariel

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Beautiful Places I Want to Go (...for novel research)

Hello all! Official decree that when I inevitably skip Saturday posts, I will no longer mention it in the Wednesday post. We will just understand that I am bowing my head in shame.

So, I didn't know what to write about for today's post, but then I remembered what I've been doing sporadically throughout the day: working on The Wishmaker! For those of you who don't know, The Wishmaker (Italics? All caps? What's the proper formatting for WIPs?) is my novel-in-progress. I started writing it the winter of tenth grade, finished the first draft the winter of twelfth grade, and have been working on the second draft ever since. Yeah. I procrastinate a LOT.

Anyway, so in this book, my protagonists travel around a lot. (This is going to be kind of a spoiler warning, but not really, because I'm not giving away plot points, and the locations really don't tell you much about the plot, except that my characters wear winter coats for most of the book, haha.) So naturally, I have to research the locations that they go to. Not only that, I have to research the travel methods. It's a nightmare. It's almost worse than planning an actual vacation, because on an actual vacation, you don't have to seek out remote scenes for magical battles, nor do you have to hike into the middle of nowhere, nor do you have to... do a lot of stuff that real people don't do, and that travel websites do not consider. For example. I wanted to find out how long a flight from Valdez, Alaska to Iqaluit, Canada would take. Do you know how long it took me to find this information? Almost as long as it would take to take the actual flight. (5 hours, 12 minutes, by the way.) Every freaking website wanted to know what date I was taking the flight. I AM NOT TAKING A FLIGHT; MY CHARACTERS ARE GAAAAHHH. DON'T TELL ME NO FLIGHT IS AVAILABLE. IT IS A FICTIONAL FLIGHT!

OK. Breathe, Ariel.

The more enjoyable part of all this research is learning a lot about beautiful places and the things you can do there. I haven't learned too much about the culture or night life or whatever of any of these places, because my characters don't do any of that, they just gallivant out into the woods and do philosophical nonsense. But I have learned about how FREAKING PRETTY these places are! And all the hiking and fishing you can do there, blah blah blah, LOOOOK:

Valdez, Alaska
My characters don't get to check out much of Alaska, but they do head to this little port town surrounded by gorgeous mountains:

http://www.ci.valdez.ak.us/images/pages/N203/Valdez%20looking%20South.jpg 
Ugh. I love mountains. Especially mountains covered in snow looming over a small town. And there are excellent hiking paths leading out of the town, if you like hiking. You can do a bunch of sports there but I hate sports. People who go in the winter mostly go there to ski. But I'd probably just take the hiking trail that I spent an hour trying to navigate on Google Street View and have now forgotten the name of, and check out these views:

Joey Howell hikes the ridgeline under Little Matterhorn peak on Thompson Pass near Valdez, Alaska on April 2, 2014.  Howell and James Roh spent over three weeks exploring the Valdez portion of the Chugach Mountain Range.  

JAMES ROH
http://brandamp.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/IMG_2180.jpg
(yes those are people I am sorry to these people whose photos are now on my blog; legal people who read my blog, tell me if this is illegal)

Look at all those snowy mountains, stretching for what seems like forever. It would be so cool to go here.

Greenland

My characters get around in Greenland. So naturally, I got around all the Greenland tourism sites. There are quite a few. Let me first just say: Greenland is SO COOL. The history of Greenland is very interesting, but I won't get into it because I'm not really an expert and I don't want to embarrass myself. The culture is interesting. And the landscape is fantastic. Most of it is covered in uninhabitable ice basin, yet just today, I learned that Greenland is home to the world's largest national park, up in the Northeast, home to no one but a small group of researchers, and a vast variety of wildlife. There's stuff growing up there, not to mention the walruses, seals, polar bears, and more. Not only that, but Greenland has fantastic natural phenomena to observe, such as the Northern Lights and the midnight sun. Just... GREENLAND. I want to go to there.

Anyway, my characters' first stop is the capital, Nuuk:

http://m3.i.pbase.com/g1/09/761909/3/117999823.2s7osMiF.jpg 
Yes, those are really the buildings. When not coated in snow they look like this:
http://www.islands-tours.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/capital-of-greenland.jpg 

Nuuk is pretty cool, but next stop is Ittoqqortoormiitt, a name that I will take a while to get the hang of typing. It's next to the aforementioned national park, and it's the most isolated town in Greenland. With only 450 residents, it makes most of its income on hunting and tourism. The tourists are adventurers, scientists, and explorers, coming to see the far north. And it's a difficult journey, but it looks worth it to me:



http://www.greenland.com/media/1646/ittoqqortoormiit-04.jpg?width=1920&height=1280&mode=crop&format=jpg
And I cannot resist a glimpse at the wildlife of the national park:



I repeat: I want to go to there. I know that it's cold and a difficult journey and it'll probably be uncomfortable, but some things are worth discomfort.

Final stop in Greenland is the Peary Land. The northernmost settlement of the world, it was discovered by some guy named Peary, and it's depressingly desolate up there. That one's not so much on my bucket list.

(P.S. Look at this video of the northern lights in Greenland.)

Finland

Next we head on to Finland. Finland is a dazzling land of beautiful, wonderful culture that I love with all my heart and I want to go there someday, but my characters don't get too involved with that culture. Instead, they venture into the wilderness of the Lapland. The Lapland is the term for a large expanse of land that covers much of Northern Scandinavia, and is also the term for the northernmost region of Finland. It is an excellent place to go hiking, camping, or mushroom foraging in the summer. In the winter, you'd best only go there if you're an ultra-experienced hiker. I read one blog post by a guy who'd hiked like everywhere in the world, and a trip into Finnish Lapland in the winter sent him home early with his toes freezing off. This is the fate I have chosen for my characters, because I love them dearly and they need to be punished, naturally.

Despite the difficulties, Finnish Lapland in the winter is utterly, utterly beautiful. The fells, reindeer walking across them, covered in snow:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Nr1p0KuyF5M/TRowW_EJjEI/AAAAAAAAAOw/e5Q0WUuTFIs/s1600/41068__reindeers_and_fell_katka_in_the_morning_tones-680x510.jpg

The forests and lakes:

http://mw2.google.com/mw-panoramio/photos/medium/42809110.jpg
The heavy snowfall:

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/5472461.jpg

The woods at night:

http://www.gerald-zojer.com/blog/wp-content/flagallery/finnish-lapland-in-winter/lap_winter10_02.jpg

And the Northern Lights:

http://static01.nyt.com/images/2013/01/06/travel/06EXPLORER_SPAN/06EXPLORER_SPAN-articleLarge-v2.jpg

I'm beginning to realize this is dragging on, so I'll wrap it up. I just want to conclude by saying that I know there are people attached with all of these lands. People with real cultures who have made their homes in these places. They're not just vacation spots or daydreams; they are the places where people live and work every day. So I don't mean to romanticize these places as unattached from the people that live there. I just wanted to admire the beauty of the places I've been researching, but I acknowledge the people there as well.

In addition: tomorrow at 8 PM EST there will be a Ch1Con Chat about Road Trip Stories. If you're interested in stories full of traveling, like the one I've been rambling on about this whole blog post, you should come watch it!

Thanks for reading,
Ariel

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ten Things that Happen on Young Writers' Forums

Some of you might know that I used to be on a couple of websites for young writers. And even if you don't know, you might have been on some yourself. (And maybe you were never a young writer trying to get attention via the Internet, and so this post will not be relatable to you.) There are, and were, many popular ones: Figment, Wattpad, Quizilla, the late Inkpop, and of course, the one I spent half my life on, Scholastic's Write It (which was less popular, and super heavily moderated). In my opinion, which I've expressed before, a writing community is SO important for young writers. It provides support in a world that's often against you, it provides critique when your parents might just be impressed you're writing at all, it provides information about the writing world, it provides inspiration, and most importantly, it provides great friends with similar interests.

Then again, sometimes creating a community full of dramatic, moody artists (not to stereotype all writers, but let's be real, we're a dramatic bunch) in the midst of puberty, especially considering how competitive young writers can get... There are some crazy things that are bound to happen. I decided to reminisce about my old days on Write It and the others and make a list of ten things that happen on young writers' forums...

1. Endless self-promotion
When you write a book for the first time, you don't want to edit it, or even finish writing it, before you get people to read it. You want people to tell you how great it is RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately, everyone else on the forum also wants their stuff read and praised. And no one wants to do the reading. So there's constant "Read my story!" posts. And then "Why doesn't anyone read my story?" posts. And then "WHY DIDN'T ANYONE READ THE MAGIC OF THE ESIKRALMINOS!!! I'M SO MAD!!!" posts. If you're lucky, like I was when I posted that last one at age ten, the other writers will sympathize. If not, you'll get a barrage of comments telling you what an attention seeker you are.

2. "The mods are suppressing my artistic style!"
Young writers' forums are usually created by well-meaning adults trying to stimulate creativity among teens. They also want to make sure that the teenagers don't curse at each other, talk about inappropriate topics, or try to stalk each other. What they don't realize is that they are not dealing with teenagers. They are dealing with Artists. Artists who cannot be Censored by this Evil Dictatorship of the Mods. There will probably be an uprising, involving an email chain (guess what- they did stalk each other, and find each others' emails) with a group title like "Figmenters Against Censorship" or "Wattpadders Against The Fascist Mods" or something. Inevitably, they will fail, and be furious about this injustice for, like, a week.

3. The friend from school who also likes to write
It's not just the Internet where writers become friends. Sometimes, in middle school or high school, there'll be two friends who are both writers. Since writers tend to be incredibly competitive, jealous, and bitter, this usually only works when one of them is less serious than the other, so the more serious one can think, "Ah. Well for her, it's just a hobby, so it's not like she's really competition." (though not always- I have good IRL friends who can write really well. But like. I didn't accept that fact until maybe a year ago). Anyway. So every so often, one of the writers on the forums will bring their friend who likes to write to join the forum. There'll be a big introduction, everyone will say hello, the person will put up their crappy short story about an orphan who suffers from depression, and then two weeks later, they're never seen again.

4. The Alpha Writer
Young writers usually think they're the best writer ever, mostly because they've never been exposed to other serious writers their age. It's a surprise to find out there are other writers just as good as they are when they get on the Internet. And then. Along comes the writer who is not just as good as they are, but ten thousand times better. Everyone stews with secret jealousy and starry-eyed admiration. How did they get this good? They are your age! They have been on this earth as many years as you have! They usually become the Supreme Ruler of your group, because everyone worships them. Hopefully, they are a humble and benevolent ruler, and pretend like your writing is worth reading too.

5. Stalking expeditions
Since, like I said, young writers' forums are usually pretty heavily moderated, it's difficult to share personal information. But once friendships develop, you want to talk with your writing friends off of the website, become Facebook friends, maybe even meet in real life. However, there's no way this is going to happen via the writing forum itself. So you have to get creative. You use the little personal information you have and scour the Internet, using your writerly researching skills. The smallest thing can lead you to a world of super personal information. One of my friends from Write It found out a lot of our home addresses. Luckily, she was not, as we all feared, a forty-year-old man. Such stalking expeditions led to Ch1Con, which you can still apply for! SHAMELESS PROMOTION!

6. "This sounds like a real book"
This comment appears so often on young writers' forums. I don't get it. What were they expecting? A fake book? I know, I know, they were expecting a badly written short story with no paragraph breaks. But still, it's funny to read.

7. Homemade awards ceremonies
This happened on several of the young writers' websites I was on. Once a community is formed, you want to do something fun to commemorate all the stuff you've been through together. But, in a way that pins you against each other, so you can still be competitive. Since the moderators will never in a million years admit that anyone is better than anyone else, the users themselves spend hours putting together elaborate award ceremonies. Best Overall Writer. Best Short Story. Funniest Book. Most Popular User. Most Romantic User. Etc. They're fun, until you realize those awards are never going to be taken seriously on query letters like you thought they would be.

8. Death threats about writing excerpts
It's easy to procrastinate on working on your book. But nothing gets you inspired to get writing like threats of death, assassins, rotten tomatoes, banana poisoning, murderous giant rodents, I think at some point there was a threat of Justin Bieber nail polish, though I'm not sure what that was supposed to do. Once you get an audience hooked on your terrible first draft, you realize that the fun of getting attention for your writing only lasts so long before they demand that you write more. Makes you kind of feel for those writers on deadlines that you get mad at. Still not forgiving Maggie Stiefvater for pushing back the release date for The Raven King though. She can get banana poisoning for all I care. (Just kidding, I understand the pressure. BUT STILL)

9. The Abandoned Collab Novel
With so many amazingly talented writers in one place, the idea is bound to come up. Obviously, you need to all write a novel together! It'll be about magic. No, a murder mystery! No, a boarding school! OK, but there has to be a romance. It'll be so good. Each person gets a chapter. For the first few chapters, it goes OK, though the constantly changing writing style is jarring- but editing will fix that. Then, the plot twists come in. Characters die- and then get resurrected by someone who disagreed about the death decision. New characters appear to fix problems. The promises of "what we said we're not going to do" get broken. After a while, someone skips their chapter, and then the next person does, and the next. A year later, someone brings it up. "Oh yeah, that collab? Ha ha- wasn't that terrible?" Such high hopes, crushed.

10. Your Writing From Seventh Grade is On the Internet Forever
Of all the embarrassing and crazy moments of young writers' forums, this has got to be the scariest. What if someone finds all that awful stuff you wrote? They'll see your cliche-ridden, terribly-paced, nightmare of a first novel! Then again, they'll see the fans who inexplicably loved it, as well. No matter how terrible of a writer you were, someone provided support for you. Every time I go back to Write It and cringe at "WHY ISN'T ANYONE READING THE MAGIC OF THE ESIKRALMINOS" I also smile at the comments reassuring me that I'll get better one day and people will love to read my work. It was mainly due to the very people in that comments section that I did get better as a writer.

Aw, why'd I have to ruin a perfectly good funny listicle with a sappy ending? Whatever. If you have any other quintessential writing-forums stories to share, write them in the comments! I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for reading, and see you on Saturday,
Ariel