Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday 5/11 Update/Challenge | #BoutofBooks 13.0

Reading Update

I rapidly devoured the audiobook of Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer in the past 30 hours. I started it Sunday afternoon and continued listening throughout the day, picking up from the halfway point at the start of Bout of Books.

Surprisingly, I picked up My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga. I hadn't meant to start reading, but I found the writing quite addictive and flew threw all 300 pages in around four hours.

I also read a couple of pages of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and 15% of Ariel by Sylvia Plath.

Today's challenge is a bookish survey hosted by Writing is My Fairytale.

1. How do you organize your shelves?
I have an entire Bookshelf Tour where I go in-depth about the details of my organization. In short, it's organized by author's last name on every shelf dedicated to TBR, read, favorites, and ARCs.

2. What is one of your favorite book that’s not in one of your favorite genres?
I haven't read a good YA historical fiction novel in such a long time and this was a pleasant surprise, even if reading it felt like pulling teeth at some moments. In the end, it was al worth it and is now one of my favorite books of all time.

3. What is the last 5 star book you read?
While I didn't review this novel, I did my best to express all my feels related to My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I don't know want to go all fangirl on you, but it was incredibly thought provoking and well written.

4. What book are you most excited to read during the read-a-thon?
I finished listening to an audiobook of Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer which is a YA novel loosely based on the Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I downloaded Plath's last collection of poems because I am dying to read from the point of view of such an incredibly troubled, brilliant woman.

5. What book do you recommend the most?

This is the best fluffy contemporary romance I have read and I would most definitely recommend it for the upcoming summer.

#BoutofBooks 13.0 TBR/Updates

I was originally going to do update vlogs on my YouTube Channel and I may do a mid-week update, but I thought it would be simple and quick to do the challenges via blog post and to be honest, it will provide some fun content for Loving the Language of Literacy.


Read three books
Listen to one audiobook + start another


5/11. Monday
Pages Read ~ 455
Total Pages ~ 455
Total Books ~ 2
Books Read ~ Belzhar: Meg Wolitzer. Ariel: Sylvia Plath. My Heart and Other Black Holes: Jasmine Warga.

5/12. Tuesday
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5/13. Wednesday 
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5/14. Thursday 
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5/15. Friday 
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5/16. Saturday
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5/17. Sunday
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Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Evolution of Labels | What's Been Going On? (4)

Wow, I haven't sat down to write a discussion post in several months.... maybe I won't actually ramble as much as I usually do. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking. And the fact that I haven't discussed something on Loving the Language of Literacy in so long is what I will be discussing today. 

Across the interwebs, established bloggers who have been doing this gig for years now, often want to change up what they've been doing, branch off into new realms, and don't want to stay boxed in with the same content year after year. Ashley from Nose Graze frequently talks about not wanting to be penned in by a specific spectrum of the internet to talk about coding, designing, books, and her overall life.

I have to admit in the past couple of months, basically since the year started, I have been struggling with my own identity as a blogger. This problem has increased exponentially since I begun vlogging on my eponymous YouTube Channel Loving the Language of Literacy. A lot of the times, turning on the camera and letting myself ramble is the better option stylistically for discussions because I can edit down to exactly I wanna say and my passion about a topic is clear.

In the past year, a lot has changed in my life. I have had three different places to call "home" and have met a lot of people as well as experienced different types of environments from what I had been previously used to. Through my struggle as teenager attempting to deal with life and my mom passing away, my priorities, passions, and perspectives have evolved. On top of that, I've been in a bad reading slump for the past three months. The desire to read and the time to do so hasn't been so prevalent as I've been questioning my identity as a reader as well in terms of what subject-matter and genre interest me. As I've grown older, life has happened. I have school five days a week, Track practice afterwards, homework to think about, creative writing I want to pursue, and a boyfriend - something I didn't think I would experience for quite some time. Consequently, my attitude towards the entire bookish world has changed. I haven't found a book I really want to fangirl about since 2013 when I read the Legend Trilogy.

So I've decided that it's time for some change here on Loving the Language of Literacy. 

Although this pains me to say,  the fact is that I'm not the same girl I was last year who could produce 20+ posts a month full of passionate memes, discussions, and reviews. What I've also concluded in the past few months is that I'm okay with that. I promise to post as frequently as possible, but I also want to take a bit of a step back and write more in-depth discussion posts about literary or even current topics I feel passionately about. My post count per month isn't going to matter as much anymore as long as I feel proud of what I have written. I would also love to comment more and network because I've felt a bit out of touch with the community for quite some time. So while I am most certainly not going to stop posting reviews and memes entirely and my passion for books is not something that's going to go away for another hundred years, I'm now going to be calling myself a literary blogger because I sincerely want to delve more into creative writing as well as continue with the original series I started in the beginning of 2015.

 Have you ever struggled with your blogging identity?
Have reading slumps made you question your validity? 
How do you prevent blogger burnout?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Poetry, Running, and Complaining About the Weather | April 2015 Wrap-Up

Image From This Month

April has been an absolutely insane month of weather in Upstate New York. It went from being sunny and 70 back down to 30 and snowing over the course of a few days. This photo is one from a mini-photoshoot I went on that is proof that there are things alive and growing in the world! 

What did I read this month?
[to come]

What was my favorite book?
[to come]

What Fun/Noteworthy Things Happened?

1. I Deserve an Award for Sappiest, Gushiest, Nerdiest Poet Alive - Last month, I ended my A Progression in Playwriting series with a bunch of gibberish-like praise about my 10 weeks of writing class and their impact on me as a person and a writer (yada yada yada.... you're probably yelling at me to shut up at this point). I am extremely happy to say that this will be continuing since I started Poetry and have already fallen in love with the genre, my extremely intelligent/eloquent/socially educated peers, and my teacher who is so awesome with what she does and pushing people just the right amount to get them to where they need to go as poets. I need say no more because there are more than 8 minutes of video to fill you in on my love for the class.

2. Why Does Anyone Choose to Live in Upstate New York? - So while the rest of the country has finally been defrosting, Upstate New York is still temperamental as ever. According to the locals it usually isn't even THIS dreary and miserable by the end of April. I had my first Track Scrimmage on the 27th and it was around 40 degrees of rainy torture. I run the 800 and 1500 which on a normal occasion, would have been a cakewalk. However, the cold, moist air did some serious damage to my muscles which refused to unfreeze and my lungs which refused to take in oxygen. Needless to say, I did not earn very good times, but I'm not letting it get the worst of me and there will be plenty of other (hopefully nicer) days in the future to break records.

3. Spring Break = Awesomeness - I had an entire week of blissful relaxation in the beginning of April which was extremely beneficial in rejuvenating me in all aspects of m life. I ended up getting a lot of good training runs in, read some good books, filmed a lot of videos, and spent a lot of time with my significant other.... which is always nice ;) 

4.  Another ELA Assignment to Take Over My Life - Does anyone find it completely unironic that your favorite teachers are usually the ones that give you the most work/most difficult assignments? Mr. Kline has assigned a Poetry Portfolio which wouldn't be that much of a commitment if I weren't a proud perfectionist. This one (thankfully) isn't as long-term as the World War Two Independent Study Project or the Career Research Project, but it's still been time-consuming. Luckily, it came right in time for me to use my newly acquired knowledge gained from Poetry Class, which may be a blessing and a curse since I am so much more aware of what kind of work I should be producing.

5. I Have SERIOUSLY Fallen Off the Blogging WagonOn that note, writing, specifically of the poetry variety (surprise, surprise *rolls eyes* not!) has been the partial reason I have been so bad with blogging this month. Don't get me wrong, I started off the month strong with plans to schedule a ton of posts and be a good, productive little blogger. Then I went back to school after Spring Break and was tossed into the vicious cycle of business that comes with having a life all over again. I just haven't had the motivation, or more specifically the inspiration to blog. Everything I had wanted to do/write about seemed old or stale conceptually. With that said, there will most definitely be changes in terms of content starting in May and I'll have a whole post about that soon.

What Am I Looking Forward to in May?

1. Torturing Myself and Questioning My Sanity by Running 10 Miles of Hills - As everyone who has ever attempted to get back into shape knows, having incentives/goals helps immensely. What I have been working towards for the past two months has been getting back into shape for the Mountain Goat which will be my first 10 miler in two and a half years and I am extremely nervous and psyched for it. There are apparently three killer hills that make everyone wonder why they ever signed up for the race but I (am going to regret saying this) am looking forward to them.

2. A Weekend in NORTHERN California - In the past four months, I've gone to SOUTHERN California three times, but I've actually only been to NoCal once before. One of my family friends son's is having his Bar Mitzvah so we're making the trip over Memorial Day Weekend. I'm looking forward to spending some time with them as well as visiting Sacramento which is a place I've never been.

3. My Significant Other's Birthday - Sadly, I'll be out of town for his actual birthday, but the two of us are planning on an all-day wandering escapade which is something we have wanted to do for a long time because scheduling has always restricted us spending that much time together, but his birthday is an exception and I think I am more excited than him about it.

What posts/videos am I proud of?

This is my 2nd video with Francesca in it and I am quite proud of how it turned out as I wanted to give my viewers/readers an update on how all my New Years Resolutions were going in a creative manner and I feel I succeeded with this.

I got the chance to research the career of a content editor as well as interview New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer Nielsen and debut author Sara Raasch because of it and learned some invaluable information I wanted to share with you.

This is the exact type of sketch video I set out to make when I resolved to be more creative in 2015. The purpose of the video was to serve as a static visual for my presentation but it was so self-deprecating and (at least in my opinion) an accurate representation of fangirl. 

My other passion and medium of expression is film, so Screenplay writing just blends the two worlds. I worked my butt off on my Code Name Verity Screenplay and knew people would want
to see the process and work behind it.

What was my favorite quote?

Of course, My Sister's Keeper ended up being one of the most thought-provoking books I have ever read and it was inevitable that my favorite quote would be from the novel. I wouldn't say that it's the most prolific of all time, but I most definitely think it's inspiring and encouraging. 

Are there stupid questions?
We're going a little deeper with April's question of the month because I really want to know your opinion. The cliche first day of school opener is - there are no stupid questions, just stupid people. If you had asked me this in the beginning of April, I most definitely would have told you that there were both stupid questions and stupid people but my opinion on that changed when my significant other told me another variation of the quote he heard from one of his teachers. "There are no stupid questions, just questions that make people feel stupid." And this quote had so much resonance with me because as a student, I have both observed and asked questions that are met with not-so-positive response, whether in seriousness or a joking manner. To the person that is ridiculed or made to feel like an idiot for asking what may have been genuine curiosity, it's one of the worst feelings in the world. So now I want to know your opinion :) 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

{BookTalk} I Was Here: Gayle Forman

Rating: 70%
Series: None
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction, 
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: January 28, 2015
Page Count: 270
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Goodreads Synopsis: Cody and Meg were inseparable.
Two peas in a pod.
Until . . . they weren’t anymore.

When her best friend Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, who broke Meg’s heart. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.

I Was Here is Gayle Forman at her finest, a taut, emotional, and ultimately redemptive story about redefining the meaning of family and finding a way to move forward even in the face of unspeakable loss.

Disclaimer: On Loving the Language of Literacy, BookTalks mean that there is a spoiler-free section and  then I make viewers/readers aware about before I started spoiling.

Interview With Jennifer A. Nielsen ~ Author of The Ascendance Trilogy | Content Editing (3)

I received the amazing opportunity to interview Sara Raasch and Jennifer A. Nielsen in conjunction with a career research project as well as share my knowledge surrounding the career of Content Editing.

Jennifer A. Nielsen ~ Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Jennifer lives at the base of a very tall mountain in Northern Utah with her husband, three children, and a naughty puppy. She loves the smell of rainy days, hot chocolate, and old books, preferably all at once. She is a former speech teacher, theater director, and enjoyed a brief but disastrous career as a door-to-door pollster. In her spare time, Jennifer tends to panic, wondering what she has forgotten to do that has allowed her any spare time.

Mark of the Thief ~ Goodreads | B & N | Amazon | Book Depository 

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for.

Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.

In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.

The False Prince  ~ Goodreads | B & N | Amazon | Book Depository

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

1. What college/university did you attend and what did you major in? Did you choose this major because you wanted to write professionally or figure out what career you wanted to pursue while you were in college?

I graduated in 1993 from Weber State University, a smaller state college, with a double major in Theater Arts and Communication Education, and a minor in history. During college, I had no intention of becoming an author - I still didn’t understand that was a career possibility for a “regular” person. Instead, I wanted to be a teacher, and I enjoyed teaching for several years before I turned to writing.

2. What is the most enjoyable part of putting a novel together, from the beginning stages of outlining, the tedious editing everyone seems to despise, or seeing your novel out in the universe for readers to enjoy?

For me, a plot is like a jigsaw puzzle. I love the moment when I’ve been struggling with a plot point and then I get it worked out. Like I’m thinking, hmm, how will my character ever get out of this one? And then suddenly, I know how. It’s the same feeling as when I’m searching the 1000 piece puzzle for the one piece that fits and then find it. Working out a difficult plot point is a great feeling, every single time!

3. It is stereotypical that authors are introverts, would you say it is difficult to communicate/work with the various people involved in the publishing of a book?

Introvert authors is definitely a stereotype - I know many authors who are very social and crave time with others. That said, when I’m at a writer’s retreat, after a few hours together, most of us start looking for the door, just to get some time in our individual caves. However, one of the great things about working with others in the publishing world is it forces even the most introverted author out of their shell. When I first started touring or visiting schools for my book releases, I used to stress the personal time with an escort or lunches with the teachers and librarians, but I actually love them now. I’m not great at small talk, but I’m a hundred times better at it than I used to be!

4. In a situation where your content editor tells you that a certain element of your novel (character, plot, theme) isn’t cohesive/people won’t “get” it, do you choose to go with your gut or attempt to see things the way they do?

I’ve never had an experience with an editor where I’m told I must change a certain element of the book. The most common feeling seems to be that it’s my name on the book, so the content ought to be what makes me most comfortable. That said, I love the editor I work with now. Among other reasons for my loyalty to her are that I trust her as an editor. If she tells me there’s something that people won’t get, I usually take her suggestion. And the book is almost always stronger because of it.

Authors who guard their own work too sacredly need to remember that in most cases, it is difficult for the creator to see their own art - we’re just too close to it. I don’t believe that anyone can edit themselves with the same quality as another editor’s contribution.

5. Besides a love of reading/books, what is the most important quality you should possess in order to have a career in the literary world?

I think the most important quality for a career author is to have a thick skin. Every single author has a career full of ups and downs - there is never a point at which you are immune from it. There are good reviews, and bad. Good sales numbers, and bad. Lots of buzz, or silence. And while it’s easy to celebrate when things are great, the author with a thick skin, who can get past the times when things aren’t so great, is the author who’s going to have a long career!

6. What is something you would consider negative about your career?

One of the challenges about working anywhere in the arts is that there is no right answer. What appeals to one person just won’t work for someone else. For that reason, it can be really frustrating for a writer who watches their reviews too carefully. Ten or fifteen years ago, writers could work in more of a bubble, which was both good and bad. Now, writers can google their name or book title and read any number of opinions about their work. That can be a great thing, but it can also kill a writer’s creativity. Over time, I’ve learned it’s best just not to look.

7. What is one thing you did in high school and/or college that you regret?

From the perspective of a writing career, I regret not giving serious consideration to becoming an author any sooner. I could’ve saved myself years!

8. What does a typical day in the life of a professional author look like? I’ve been told it’s a lot more crying and eating chocolate at 2am in sweatpants while cursing the invention of the written word than breezing through your drafts.

One of the things I love about my career is there are no typical days. I wake up each morning with very little idea of what will actually happen. I’m always writing, editing, or plotting something (usually more than one), but in between all of that is unexpected emails from my editor, requests for interviews or visits, fan mail, or sometimes I just distract myself with a bright and shiny new idea. Then all bets for the day are off!

9. Is there any specific moment/reason you write Middle Grade? It’s in the middle of Young Adult and Children’s literature, as well as a genre that is generally underrated. Does it bother you if/ when people say literature written for younger people is “invalid” or shouldn’t be taken as seriously as the adult genre?

I think middle grade is just a good fit for my natural author’s voice. That said, I’d never close the door to writing for another age group - if the right story idea presented itself in another genre or for another age, I’d love to answer! And yes, it does bother me when children’s literature is relegated to a lower status, as if it’s easier to write or requires less skill. I think in fact, that the younger the reader, the more complicated the skill set. A great picture book does more in 300 words than many other authors can accomplish in 100,000.

Monday, April 13, 2015

So you want to be a Content Editor? | Content Editing (2)

I received the amazing opportunity to interview Sara Raasch and Jennifer A. Nielsen in conjunction with a career research project as well as share my knowledge surrounding the career of Content Editing.

“It was a dark and stormy night when the man entered the house. A flash of lightning lit up the room as he raised the knife that had been hidden in his jacket and stuck it into her heart.”

When one hears the word “editing,” one may immediately think about punctuation, spelling, or capitalization. Indeed, these are important elements of writing, yet there is more to consider if one is attempting to make their work “good.” This is demonstrated with the passage above. It contained cliche phrases, zero suspense, and a laughable excuse for horror meant to elicit reader’s reactions. To improve this, the author needs a content editor. It’s interesting to think how different one’s favorite book would be without the editor’s invaluable contribution.

In the grand scheme of a book’s creation, the content editor is the person to see a manuscript after it has been accepted for publication. Their job is to question every aspect of it, from the sequence of events, to character development, to fact-checking, and believability.

The need to be independent, take initiative, and tolerate high levels of stress are some of the skills and personality traits that are seen as preferable for a content editor to have. As an author, one may consider their content editor as a well-meaning parent in charge of making responsible decisions and suggesting revisions to the text that will help the quality of the finalized project. Without a doubt, reading comprehension and conceptual thinking is valued so one possess the ability to recognize patterns, zero in on seemingly minute details, and evaluate problems. It is critical that they can visualize where the text should or should not go so the author is taken seriously when the finished product is seen by the public.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and that somewhere in this particular career would be as an intern or editorial assistant. The duties they carry out are the ones full-time editors consider tedious or mundane, such as answering queries from authors and literary agents or reading through the “slush pile,” which is comprised of the physical (or virtual in the 21st century) stacks of manuscript pitches. Once an editor proves that they are adequate for the position, they may be promoted with the task of negotiating book deals with authors or going to literary conferences.

The lifestyle of a content editor may not be one of a millionaire, but it comfortable with decent benefits. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary is $62,800 per year (NP). Content editors working for a publishing house work regular hours with the chance of health benefits, retirement funds, and vacation days to be negotiated.

The typical day of a content editor will vary greatly depending on a books stage of development. Directly after a publishing deal is negotiated, an editor will meet with the rest of the team to discuss the publication timeline, including turn-in dates for revisions, copy-edits, advanced reader’s copies releases, and the actual launch of the book. In the middle of this lengthy process, a content editor may be solely focused on the structure of a particular scene, dissecting word choice, the use of figurative language, and how the scene would play out in real life. When the publication date draws nearer, the editor may be suggesting titles, working with a graphic designer for the cover, or even going to literary events such as BEA (Book Exposition of America) to create hype for its release.

As it is inevitable with anything in life, a career in editing has several negative and positive elements that the researcher has thoroughly considered that are fitting or at least tolerable to her work style and personality. The largest benefit to this profession is the reason the researcher was drawn towards the career in the first place; content editors have the control over whether or not an author gets a manuscript they may have been working on for years out to the public. In addition, content editors undergo the pressure of having to be depended on to aid the author in the development of their work. A considerable drawback is the fact that the particular text has to be read and analyzed dozens of times before publication which can get tedious. Lastly, they must be prepared to cooperate and meet with all of the people involved in the making of the book such as the author, marketer, agent, publicist, etc. Even though many editorial skills may be independently acquired through repeated reading and writing, a Bachelor’s degree in English, Communications, or another field related to publishing, which is seen as preferable from potential employers.

Emerson is a private college in urban Boston, Massachusetts and the only college in the United States where one may obtain a degree in publishing. The medium-sized liberal arts college strives to incite and aid creativity as well as assist its students in becoming inspirational, ethical leaders. It is ranked as the 11th highest college in northern regional universities by the US News and World Report in Education (NP).

The environment and atmosphere at Emerson College is extremely accepting and welcoming of diversity. The ethnicities of students currently attending Emerson is two-thirds white and 10% hispanic (Big Future: Emerson College NP). This is important to this researcher because of her Asian heritage and may prove slightly advantageous when applying.The college is named as the third most-accepting college towards in the LGBT community by the Princeton Review (NP).

Emerson is a somewhat selective college that accepted 48% out of almost 9,000 applicants in 2014 (Big Future: Emerson College NP). When applying, one's academic GPA, application essay, standardized test scores, class rank, and recommendations are taken into account. The applicant’s geographic location, extracurriculars, and volunteer work may influence her admission. General SAT scores of 650 and above are the average expectations to be accepted.

According to Emerson College, annual tuition is $36,650 with an estimated $15,000 room and board cost per year. 65% of the student body receives financial aid from the college itself, for which this researcher would be eligible. Another option the college offers is an Honors Program scholarship to approximately 50 students per incoming class; they are required to write a short essay along with their application to receive half of their tuition for free for up to four years. There is also other scholarship money provided by private organizations this researcher may apply for offered by organizations such as New York Women in Communication, the Asian and Pacific Island Scholarship Fund, and even Burger King.

Ideally, the aspiring content editor would graduate from Emerson in four semesters or less with the 40 credits required to obtain both a Bachelor of Arts focused on Writing, Literature, and Publishing as well as a Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communications (Emerson College NP). A strong focus on publishing and communications is a good combination for the desired career in editing, especially if the researcher would like to progress in the publishing house to positions of more authority and possess some expertise on the marketing side of the publishing world as well. In the duration of time spent at Emerson, she might take courses such as “Principles of Management in Publishing,” “Social Media: Connectivity, Interaction, and Buzz,” “The Editor/Writer Relationship,” and “Visual Literacy.” In order to obtain an education from Emerson, the potential student must start working hard in high school to gain the needed academic and social skills.

[High School] is where the researcher will be educated for the majority of her time in high school. It is the ranked [#]th in the state of New York with less than 900 students attending as of February, 2015 (US News and World Report in Education NP). The high school requires a total of 22 credits and a score of 65% or above on all regents in order to graduate. This particular place of education has many courses, electives, and extracurriculars the researcher believes will be beneficial to her future career.

There are many honors, advanced placement, and even courses offered by the [Name] University Project Advance made available to her in all of the core subjects. In addition to this, there are a wide range of supplementary classes and electives to choose from that will make the researcher seem diverse as well as give her valuable academic experiences. The electives and extracurriculars offered at the high school that will specifically benefit the researcher creatively, educationally, and professionally for a future career in publishing are public speaking, journalism, creative writing, drama, and mock trial, just to name a few.

The researcher’s most prominent extracurricular is also a defining factor she believes will make herself desirable to colleges. Sofia Li is the sole content producer of both the blog and YouTube channel eponymously named Loving the Language of Literacy which provides in-depth reviews and discussions of books, from a wide variety of genres. She believes the experience gained by working closely with authors and publishers to spread the word about their upcoming releases as well as the skills gained by reading books critically will help her with her future career. Both the blog and YouTube channel, Loving the Language of Literacy have been active since 2014, when the researcher was in 7th grade, providing bloggers, readers, and authors alike with her opinion on 21st century literature.

Volunteer work and part-time jobs are also symbols of reliability throughout high school. To begin with, a plausible option for the researcher is volunteering at [Name] (a home for the aging) on a weekly basis. Secondly, there is the possibility of helping out with [Name] Library’s many events for children such as story time. Additionally, Wegmans Supermarket is also an option for part-time employment because they hire responsible adolescents as young as fifteen years old.

“The night was black as pitch, illuminated only by the sporadic flashes of lightning. The drip, drip of blood clashed with the uneven claps of thunder and rain. The man grinned maniacally as he slid the rusted blade into the woman’s chest, savoring the expression of fear that remained plastered on her face long after breath had left her body.”

Evidently, the contrast between the original phrase and the modified one speaks volumes about how much of a difference a content editor can make. The researcher has loved reading from a young age and has come to realize what tropes authors use that do and do not work and would like to help authors in the process of perfecting their own voices. To do this, she needs to excel in all core subjects as well as participate in diverse extracurricular activities to seem desirable to colleges. In particular, the researcher would like to attract the attention of Emerson College to gain invaluable knowledge about the publishing field. Eventually, she would like to get a full-time editorial job at one of the Big Five publishing houses (Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins) so that she can aid the bestselling authors of tomorrow. And perhaps by doing this, she will use the knowledge to become one herself.

***Personal information has been excluded in order to protect the author's privacy***

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Interview With Sara Raasch ~ Author of Snow Like Ashes | Content Editing (1)

I received the amazing opportunity to interview Sara Raasch and Jennifer A. Nielsen in conjunction with a career research project as well as share my knowledge surrounding the career of Content Editing.

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray, and the sequel, ICE LIKE FIRE, comes out October 13, 2015. Neither features her hand-drawn pictures.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter's magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter's defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians' general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she's scaling towers and fighting enemy soldiers just as she's always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn't go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

Sara Raasch's debut fantasy is a lightning-fast tale of loyalty, love, and finding one's destiny.

1. What college/university did you attend and what did you major in? Did you choose this major because you wanted to write professionally or figure out what career you wanted to pursue while you were in college?

I graduated from Wright State University with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership (basically how companies run in functional/successful manners). I chose this major because I wanted to have something to fall back on should being a writer not happen. Any artistic industry is wrought with uncertainty—weird payment schedules, small payments, and oftentimes it takes YEARS to sell anything at all—so I knew I needed something definite to keep me going in the meantime.

2. What is something you would consider negative about your career?

Realizing that, despite the works I put out being artistically important to me, to this industry, it’s still a business, and everything I create is a product. But once I came to understand that distinction, it helped lessen the blows of criticism and rejection.

3. What is one thing you did in high school and/or college that you regret?

Thinking that high school and college were the best parts of my life. HELL to the no. Life gets infinitely, laughably, absurdly better.

4. What is the most enjoyable part of putting a novel together, from the beginning stages of outlining, the tedious editing everyone seems to despise, or seeing your novel out in the universe for readers to enjoy?

Meeting and interacting with readers. Writing is so much a solitary endeavor that getting to talk with readers (especially the excited, supportive readers I’ve been lucky enough to have) is a constant breath of fresh air!

5. It is stereotypical that authors are introverts, would you say it is difficult to communicate/work with the various people involved in the publishing of a book?

It was at first, simply because I was rather starstruck all the time, and the idea of having a published book at all was paralyzing. Now, though, it’s more of what I mentioned in #2—I’ve realized that it’s an industry like any other, and interacting with the various people I need to interact with is all part of the job.

6. In a situation where your content editor tells you that a certain element of your novel (character, plot, theme) isn’t cohesive/people won’t “get” it, do you choose to go with your gut or attempt to see things the way they do?

If my editor says that, it’s usually because I haven’t done my job in explaining things well, so I always try to reevaluate and see where I went wrong. Editors are wise people—it’s best to listen to them!

7. Besides a love of reading/books, what is the most important quality you should possess in order to have a career in the literary world?

Persistence. So much of this industry can take YEARS, so being able to push on through and keep at it is key.

8. What does a typical day in the life of a professional author look like? I’ve been told it’s a lot more crying and eating chocolate at 2am in sweatpants while cursing the invention of the written word than breezing through your drafts.

I can confirm this. Though for me, it’s crying and eating blueberries (dairy allergy, ugh) at 9AM (morning writer) in sweatpants while cursing the invention of the written word and having not at all insane conversations with my cat.

9. Is there any specific moment/reason you write Middle Grade? It’s in the middle of Young Adult and Children’s literature, as well as a genre that is generally underrated. Does it bother you if/ when people say literature written for younger people is “invalid” or shouldn’t be taken as seriously as the adult genre?

I don’t write Middle Grade—SNOW LIKE ASHES is strictly YA fantasy! I tend to veer toward darker themes, so I don’t think I could ever write a Middle Grade. Someone would invariably end up being tortured in far too grotesque ways.

As for literature people calling YA “invalid”—that’s ridiculous. There’s been a LOT of talk on the matter, but I see it as yet another debate. Most debates can’t be fixed with talking—they have to be proven wrong. So, in response to such absurdity, I’ll simply write more YA books.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Lights Have Gone Out | Code Name Verity Screenplay (7)

The entire week on Loving the Language of Literacy will be comprised of me sharing a scene and its backstory that I wrote for an Independent Study Project having to do with Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I formatted it as if it were a professional Screenplay (which is a lot harder than I thought it would be) and attempted to translate it for film the best I could. Sadly, the proper margins and spacing didn't transfer over well into Blogger. Warning - There are spoilers for the novel if you haven't read it. 
This is what an average screenplay sheet would look like.
Today's scene is the most lengthy of them all, taking up an entire fifth of the 25 page screenplay in word count. It's a mixture of flashbacks and present day between Fraulein Engel and Maddie as the wholes in Maddie's story are filled in. It's also a perspective-giving scene for Fraulein Engel to the audience because we see the humanity and compassion in her that Verity never described.

Cut In.

Ext. Ormaie Cafe/Streets/Place des Hirondelles - Mid-Afternoon

Maddie attempts to avoid passing by Fraulein Engel’s table.

Salut, Kathe.

Fraulein Engel pats the chair next to her, stubs out her own cigarette, lights two and gives one to Maddie.

Et ton amie, ca va? [How’s your friend?]

Maddie looks away, swallowing, the fake smile leaving her face. She takes a drag of the cigarette, and chokes. Fraulein Engel swears softly in French, then pauses.

Elle est morte? [Is she dead?]

Maddie nods.

Allons marcher avec moi, j’ai des choses a te dire. [Come on, walk with me, I have things to say to you]

Fraulein Engel & Maddie walk through the streets of France, arriving at the place Verity was caught by the Gestapo.

She was crossing the street, right here, and she looked the wrong way. What a stupid place to make a mistake like that, right in the middle of La Place des Hirondelles! There is always someone watching here, the town hall on one side and the Gestapo on the other.

Fraulein Engel pauses to let the information soak in.

(speaks as if reminiscing with great admiration)
She put up a hell of a fight, your friend. She bit a policeman. They got me to come and chloroform her, to knock her out, you know? There were four officers holding her down by the time I came running across the square, and she was still struggling. She tried to bite me, too. When the fumes finally overwhelmed her it was like watching a light out out—-

(as if she’s about to get choked up again)
I know. I know.

Fraulein Engel & Maddie make their way out of the square and look at each other at the same moment as Fraulein Engel confesses.

We’ve turned this place into a real shit hole. There were roses in that square when I was first sent here. Now it’s noting but mud and trucks. I think of her every single time I cross those cobbles, three times a day. I hate it. We can walk along the riverfront for about half a kilometer. Have you been?


It’s one of the few things that’s still pretty.

Fraulein Engel lights another cigarette.

I’ve chloroformed people before, but I’ve never despised myself so much as I did that day -she was so small and-

Fraulein Engel stumbles over her words and Maddie has to bite her cheeks to prevent the tears.

So fierce, so beautiful. It was like breaking a hawk’s wings, stopping up a clear spring with bricks, digging up roses to make a space to park your tank. Pointless and ugly. She was just - blazing with life and defiance one moment, the next, she was nothing but a senseless shell lying on her face in the gutter.

I know.

Fraulein Engel looks at Maddie curiously, frowns, then sweeps her face with her pale eyes.

Do you so?

(through gritted teeth)
She was my best friend.

Here’s the river

Fraulein Engel and Maddie cross the street and stand at the river bank, looking out over at the elm stumps that have been cut for firewood. Fraulein Engel inhales deeply.

Cut Out.
Cut In.

Ext. Place des Hirondelles Square - Mid-Afternoon

Fraulein Engel chloroforms Verity, turns her over, checks for arms, finds the silk scarf balled up in her fist.

I wasn’t supposed to search her, that was someone else’s job, but I wondered what she had been protecting so doggedly.

Fraulein Engel discovers the smear of ink on Verity’s palm and the reversed imprint of it, spits on the scarf, wads it into a ball, then rubs it against her palm to blot out the numbers and closes Verity’s fingers around it.

On her palm was a smear of ink. On the scarf was the perfectly reversed imprint of an Ormaie Town Hall archive reference number that she’d written on her palm and tried to rub out with the scarf.

Fraulein Engel pauses, she and Maddie observe a flock of pigeons circle hopefully, a few of them landing on the cobblestones.

Cut Out.
Cut In.

Ext. Ormaie Riverbank - Mid-Afternoon

How did you know what she wanted the number for?

She told me. At the end, after she’d finished writing. It was nonsense by then.

Cut Out.
Cut In.

Int. Chateau de Bordeaux; Verity’s Prison Cell - Day

Fraulein Engel takes hold of Verity’s pen and she let go without a fight as Verity’s head sinks down onto the desk in front of her.

So I took hold of the pen to stop her. She let for without a fight. She was so tired. She looked up at me without hope. It was supposed to be secret, but we all knew where Von Linden would send her. In the palm of my own hand, I wrote - 72 B4 CdB.

Fraulein Engel shows Verity the number, smears them illegibly, then shuffles them together.

That’s mine.

What use is it to you?

None. Not anymore, but if I could…

What would you do with it? What should I do with it?

Verity narrows her eyes.

Set fire to it and blow this place to blazes. That would be the best thing to do with it.

Fraulein Engel holds the stack of Verity’s papers against her chest. Verity looks at her challengingly/accusingly.

(Verity laughs hysterically)
Anna the Avenging Angel. Well it’s your problem now.

Cut Out.
Cut In.

Ext. Ormaie Riverbank - Mid-Afternoon

You should go home, Kathe.

Fraulein Engel presses her hand over Maddie, giving her a key.

I think you have everything you need now.

Maddie squeezes Fraulein Engel’s hand

Danke, Anna.

Take care, Kathe.

Guten Tag, Fräulein Engel.

Fraulein Engel drops her cigarette, crushes it with her foot, straightens her posture/coat collar. Maddie drops her cigarette too. Von Linden holds out a hand to Verity and she shakes it in return.

Cut Out.

This brings us to the end of the Code Name Verity Screenplay Scenes. I had so much fun sharing all my hard work with you and if you want to see more like this, don't hesitate to leave a comment :)

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