Friday, October 30, 2015

Another Reason You Need to Join the Writer Twitterverse

Twitter has a mind of its own. It often gets political and gossipy and noisy and argumentative. But the best circle on Twitter, in my humble opinion, is the Writersphere. And this humble opinion was only solidified further after this past Monday.

People in the pitch contests will tell you, "Remember, this isn't about winning and getting an agent. This is about making new friends and becoming a better writer!" We all really know that we're in there for the winning and the agents, but you know what? The new friends part is really true!

Back during the last #PitchWars, I happened to be tossing some fun questions out into the hashtag feed for people to answer instead of chewing their nails while waiting for requests to trickle into their inboxes. The newest one happened to be, "If your book was a movie, who would direct it?"

And then this exchange happened:

So we followed each other, and interacted more throughout #PitchWars, when I got a direct message from my then-soon-to-be college roomie. "Hey, that's my high school English teacher!" 

As someone who is thrilled by the world's smallness, I got pretty excited. Well, I'm even more excited to say that, thanks to my room mate, I got to meet Mrs. Cupps this last Monday! 

She's absolutely lovely and though our visit was brief, it was so fun to talk in person about our work, when we're normally restricted to 140 characters! So if anything, I hope this encourages to join us and many other fantastic writers in the Twitterverse. You may not win contests, but you will definitely make new friends, I promise. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Star Trek and Sesame Street and Diversity

"When this movie first came out, there was thunderous applause because that officer there was the first woman on Star Trek to captain a starship."

So said my classmate, one of a few who are introducing this Star Wars nerd to the universe of Star Trek, while we were watching The Voyage Home. Now, before I continue, let me quick clarify that I'm not a Star Trek expert. I've only seen Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, Voyage Home, and a couple episodes of Next Generation. So when I refer to Star Trek, I'm referring to those.

I wasn't too surprised by his statement. But what struck me more while watching these classics for the first time was the amount of racial diversity. Perhaps the main characters were still mostly white, but it was still a lot more varied than Star Wars, where we have Lando and Mace Windu and that's about it. More unfortunately, it's a lot more varied than most entertainment in this diversity-hungry day and age. But worst of all, this show, several decades old, handled it way better than most diverse stories on the market.

It reminded me of Sesame Street. When I was little, the show took up a good chunk of my allotted television time, what with its hour-long spot. I never really noticed it at the time, but Sesame Street did a marvelous job at portraying diversity, both with race and special needs.

But why didn't I notice it at the time? Because I just accepted the diversity as normal. I was a kid. What I saw was a neighborhood of fun people doing fun things and force-feeding the alphabet and my numbers into me. And if I hadn't been trained as a writer to watch for diversity, I'd probably watch Star Trek and simply see humans in space on cool ships following fantastic plot lines. 

Here's the thing. Diversity is political. It just is. Especially nowadays. But it doesn't have to be for kidlit. As someone who went to a well-mixed kindergarten outside Philadelphia, has some Japanese and Cherokee heritage, and has a lot of international friends, I can tell you that as a child, I never noticed I was different from my playmates until people told me I was. 

This is probably why Maniac Magee is one of my favorite books. The main character finds himself in a similar situation to me, where as a kid, the concept of racism is thrown on him in the playground realm. There's this part where he looks in a mirror and wonders why people call him white and his friends black, when they aren't actually the solid colors black and white, and instead are many shades of color and many shades of personality. This resonated with me a lot when I first read it. 

Circumstances are circumstances, yes, but people will always be people. And in today's day in age, where diversity has become an American Ninja Warrior ropes course of do's and don'ts with your reputation at stake, I wish we'd go back to Star Trek and Sesame Street and promoting normality. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Where's Rachel Been?

What She Wrote?

This past month and a half, nothing.


Okay, in all seriousness, one of my past posts informed you all that I would be going to college and that I would still be blogging. Between then and now, only one of those facts was true. Time to change that.

It's fall break! Yay! So I'm writing as many posts as I possibly can while hanging at my roommate's house before going back to school. I WAS hoping to vlog, but genius absent-minded freshman that I am, I forgot my camera (along with my coat). In the meantime, here's a little update for all of you lovely readers.

Ah, Geneva. Our tiny campus is gorgeous. Our football team is okay. Our band is awesome. But I must be biased and say that our choir is the best. I'm singing soprano two but I'm so tall they stuck me in the bass section for concerts. That's okay. They're pretty awesome, too.

Middle, second row from the back, gray and pink striped sweater. Yup, that's me.

I also have two jobs, one in the dining hall where I run food to the buffet at lunch (I dread tater tot day, grease everywhere. But free ice cream is cool), and an internship with public relations where I take photos of people, usually when they aren't expecting it. Then they either pose or run away.

But I also started a Geneva-themed spinoff of HONY with my friend Hayley. Check us out HERE :D

My friends and I are also entering a film contest. I'm directing with a couple international student friends and co-starring with a friend from choir. The college has it every year and according to the student development guy, we have one of the biggest casts to ever participate. You'll get to see the movie in December, I promise!

Our cast and crew!

Still from the film 

So basically, I'm super busy and haven't got much writing done. Like, at all. But I've found fellow writers, some of whom have actually gone ahead and self-published! So I'm going to read their books sometime and fangirl over them on this blog. Also, my English professor (he draws scary cartoons, makes us suffer through Samuel Beckett plays, throws candy at us in class, and is generally awesome) has introduced me to people as "that student who wrote eight novels before coming here." He's actually reading some of my short stories now, which is cool. Part of our recent meeting to go over my paper involved talking about how bossy characters are. 

I haven't changed much otherwise. I've been added into the fandoms of Twenty-One Pilots and Star Trek. I've become better with a frisbee and am the official proofreader, hug-giver, and stink bug killer on my dorm floor. 

The one thing about Geneva is that its making me really, really want to write NA. NA is generally debauchery-clogged, which if you know anything about me or Geneva College or both, this doesn't really fit into that category, but I'd love to see NA jump out of its scum and villainy into better college-focused novels. Anyways, soapbox over, it's amazing how many story ideas come to mind while I'm here, and how few words I actually manage to get out. This is evident in how I've neglected you all so terribly. Thank you for bearing with my absence (unless you were glad of it, in which case thank you for bearing with this post.)

See you around the interwebs!