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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - August 27

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch. This is the first WUW of the new school year and let me tell you it feels fantastic to be back.

Random question: If you use Blogger, do you have trouble inserting images from links? I feel like I have to put in the link and click the button about ten times before it'll actually work.


What I'm Reading: 
I pulled out an old favorite, Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce. It's been one of my favorite books for about ten years now so I'm hoping that it'll help me get back in the groove of actually reading. Seems to be working well so far. I only fall more in love with Numair the older I get.

What I'm Writing: 
On hold while I get settled in. I was going to start working on LP again today but then I took a look at my "to do" list and decided to make that tomorrow.  

What Inspires Me: 
Being back on campus. Settling into a set routine. Knowing that I could walk downtown any time I want. I just really love being back in school.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
Most of the weekend was spent moving back into my apartment. Yesterday I had my first classes and they went well. My schedule is pretty bare at the moment so I'm trying to enjoy it while it lasts. Won't be long and I'll be swamped with classes and homework and lab volunteering and hopefully a job.

Oh, and Doctor Who returned over the weekend! I'll keep this spoiler-free for those of you who haven't seen it. I must say I'm already very accepting of Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. It was a good episode, but I'm concerned over the last few minutes. I have a very bad feeling about where this season is going. 

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, August 25, 2014

College: First Day Tips Compiled

It's the first day of the semester for me, the last one of my undergrad years as I am now a senior. I was so busy packing and making sure everything's in order for my own first day that I didn't have time to think of a post for today. So here are my two "first day tips" posts compiled into one easy list. 

 #1: Dress to impress
Wear something simple but nice. The most important thing is wearing something that makes you feel confident. If you feel confident, you'll look confident. Don't wander into class on the first day wearing a hoodie and sweatpants. It's okay to walk around the dorms or your apartment like that, but it's important to be more professional in the classroom.

#2: Leave early 
This is especially important if  you aren't sure where your classes are. Don't worry about arriving early; there's nothing wrong with that. I typically give myself a half hour to find my classes for the first week or so. It's better that I arrive twenty minutes early than get lost and be late.

#3: Come to class prepared
Even if you think you'll only end up going over the syllabus, bring anything you think you might need. This might include paper, pencils, pens, your textbook, your laptop, highlighters, everything. It's better to bring it all and not need it, than to leave it in your dorm room and hope that your neighbor will lend you something. 

#4: Plan ahead
Check the times and locations of all your classes in advance. If you have no idea where they are, ask a friend or check the school's website to see if they have a map of campus. Plan ahead and decide when you're going to eat and, if you have large amounts of time between classes, how you're going to spend them. It's easier to keep up with the workload if you settle into a schedule early on in the semester. 

#5: Drop in the library
If you're anything like me, this one isn't going to be a problem. Take a few minutes and find the library. Wander around and just get a feel for where all the different sections are. This will be a big help when you have a paper that you have to research for or even if you just want to read for fun.

#6: Pay attention to the syllabus
I know it's boring and that, for the most part, they're all basically the same but it's still important. This is when you'll find out what the class entails and when major assignments are due.

#7: Know where you're going
Look up which classes you have when and what rooms they're in ahead of time. If you're like me and you're afraid you won't remember, write them down somewhere or put them into your phone.

#8: Arrive early 
Get to class early. I tend to be fifteen or twenty minutes early the first week, just so I know how long it takes me to get there and I know I won't be late. This is also a good time to meet your fellow classmates and sometimes the professor.

#9: Sit toward the front
Choose a chair toward the front of the room. Not only is it easier to see and hear, but you're less likely to get distracted. Plus the professor will be more likely to notice.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Writing About Other Sexualities

If you're thinking about writing characters with other sexualities besides heterosexual, there are many things to consider. Representation is very important but it can go badly. The most important thing when writing LGBT characters is that they're just like all your other characters. They have pasts, futures, hopes, dreams, motivations. They're playing a part in this story.

Start with doing your research. Don't rely on stereotypes or misconceptions. Not all gay men are interested in fashion. Lesbians do not hate men. Bisexuals are not incapable of having monogamous relationships. Don't perpetuate myths and remember that everyone is different. LGBT people also experience different environments depending on the area in which they live, their family, and their friends. Some are only out to certain people, some are out to everyone, and some aren't out at all.

Your characters don't have to have a label. Sexuality can be fluid and not everyone wants to put a label on it. Some people might have preferences outside of their orientation, like a pansexual with a preference for women or a bisexual with a preference for men. A bisexual woman dating another woman isn't a lesbian; neither is she straight if she's in a relationship with a man. That doesn't change their orientation.

Sexuality is merely a part of a character. Don't let it be their defining feature. Make it feel natural, like heterosexuality does to most characters. Don't shoe-horn queer characters in just so they're included. Write LGBT characters because that's who they are.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: August 20

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading: 
Beta reading for a friend at the moment and that's it. Most of the books I want to read are currently packed away in preparation to take them with me back to school. Hopefully something will catch my attention once I'm there.

What I'm Writing: 
This is the worst writing month I've had all year, but I'm still making some progress on LP. I'm at a major turning point in the story so once I get through this rough patch, it should be easier from there. I tend to write quickly when I reach climactic points and I'm really excited about this one.

What Inspires Me: 
I'm feeling pretty uninspired at the moment.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
I took the GRE last week and just got my official scores today. I didn't do as well as I hoped and that's got me worried, but there isn't much I can do about that now. Time to focus on packing up all of my stuff so I can move back to uni. It's amazing how much stuff gets spread around the house after four months. Can't believe this is going to be my last year! 

Have a great week everyone! And if anyone else is headed back to school in the next couple of weeks, good luck!

Monday, August 18, 2014

College: School Supply Shopping

Shopping for back-to-school supplies was much easier in grade school. There was usually a list detailing everything you needed, or at least a general expectation. Pencils, pens, notebooks, binders, folders, sometimes a calculator or a ruler. In college it's a lot trickier because what you need is determined by you.

I prefer taking handwritten notes because I find that it helps me remember things better than typing or not taking notes at all. I've tried using a single notebook and keeping separate sections for each class;  writing all the notes into the notebook, coding them with the class name, and then tearing out the pages and putting them into individual binders; or leaving them in the notebook and typing the notes into individual documents. I haven't really found any of these methods to be very efficient. This year I think I'm going to just buy a notebook for each class.

The important thing is to find the method that works for you. If that's handwriting, buy notebooks. If that's typing, maybe buy just one in case a professor doesn't allow computers in class.

Pencils and pens are both important. I do the vast majority of my note-taking and classwork in pen, but every once in a while I run into a professor that wants an assignment done in pencil. Usually a Scantron exam.

If anything specific is needed for a class, this will usually be outlined in the syllabus. Pay special attention to those items. You might need them immediately or you might not need them until the end of the semester but they'll be good to have on hand.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Book Buying Tally 2014

Each year I keep a list of the books I buy or check out of the library and in August I post a list of the books organized into why I picked them up. Past tallies can be found here going back to 2010. 

My book buying has taken a hit over the past year. I've been so busy with class that I don't have much time to go to the library and, without a car, I have no way of getting the nearest bookstore when I'm on campus.

Let's start with some percentages. Last year's stats are in brackets for comparison.

Book in series: 37.5% [29%]
Author: 25% [29%]
Concept: 25% [N/A]
Word of mouth: 12.5% [18%]

I'm not surprised that book in series and author are so high. When I'm at school, I order books from B&N and it's a lot harder to say no when I'm already looking forward to a book and I know it's going to be good. I am surprised that concept is a category this year when it wasn't last year, but I shouldn't be because I spent so much time in the library last semester just picking up books that sounded interesting. I'm not surprised word of mouth went down either, because I've been spending a lot less time on Twitter recently and that's usually where I hear about books.

Now let's take a look at the break-down of categories. 

Books in Series
  1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth - Last book in the Divergent trilogy 
  2. House of Hades by Rick Riordan - Fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series
  3. Son by Lois Lowry - Final book in The Giver series
Author
  1. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein - Because how could I pass up another book from the author of Code Name Verity 
  2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - Decided it was finally time for some Gaiman in my life as I'd never read any of his books
Concept
  1. Battle Dress by Amy Efaw - Concept sounded fantastic 
  2. Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney - Caught my attention when I was going through new releases   
 Word of Mouth
  1. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman - Heard amazing things about it initially but my girlfriend tipped the scales

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: August 6

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.


What I'm Reading: 
Nothing at the moment. The Horse Boy is a DNF. I did really want to see how it ended but it was dragging on a bit and my library books had to be returned whether I was done with them or not. Now I'm just doing a lot of reading of my GRE study book and grad school application information.

What I'm Writing: 
LP is progressing slowly. I'm up to a major turning point in the story and I'm still not quite sure how I'm going to pull it off. I'm also rough drafting my personal statement for applications. I can write 100k about a world completely of my own creation but when it comes to writing 1k about myself all of that just flies out the window.

What Inspires Me: 
Less than three weeks until classes start! I'm actually really excited. I love my friends and my professors and the routine of having a set schedule.

What Else I've Been Up To: 
Not much. I've been researching grad schools like crazy so I can decide on a final list of where I want to apply. Studying for the GRE. Cleaning because my girlfriend is staying at my house this weekend. There's just so much to do and so little time to do it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

College: Furnishing Your Dorm

"College" is a series of posts for college students, present and future. It's based entirely on my experience as a current college student and that of my friends. It's that time of year again and I figured that meant I should bring these back. 

If you're new to college and moving into the dorms this fall, you're probably trying to figure out what you need to bring. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking the furniture for your dorm.

Read housing regulations
Different dorms have different rules on what you can and cannot bring. Don't grab that George Foreman grill only to arrive and find out they're not allowed. I'm not allowed to have candles or clip-on lamps, because of the fire hazard, so some things would be obvious on what's okay and what isn't. Rules can even vary between halls on the same campus, so make sure that your hall doesn't have anything specific. For instance, on my campus, custom lofts are allowed only in certain residence halls.

There is a limited amount of space
Dorms are not large and you're probably going to be sharing them with one or more people. Maximize your space with better organization and don't buy anything that'll take up half the room by itself.

You have to take everything home or store it at the end of the year
All that stuff you're buying many not seem like a lot at the time, but at the end of the year when you're trying to balance studying for finals with packing it'll be a lot more than you think it is. Also, I've learned that stuff tends to accumulate over the year and that adds up.

Get together with your roommate(s) 
If your school gives you the contact information of your roommate before the semester starts, take advantage of it. If you're willing to share some furniture, that means more room. It's better to coordinate than for everyone to show up on move-in day only to find that you have two fridges, two TVs, but no microwave.

Make your dorm your own
You're going to be living there for several months so personalize your own space. Go traditional and populate your walls with lots of posters, or think outside the box.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July Check-In

And it's the first day of August which means here we are again. I had a fantastic July. I got my drivers' license, turned 21, and had a lot of fun. It was a very eventful month!

Writing: 
Word count: 19,688 words
I've been so busy the past few weeks that writing has fallen to the wayside. Doesn't help that I've been spending entire days away from the computer, but I still got a good bit done. LP is progressing nicely and I'm almost to halfway my target word count of 70k.

Reading:
Should be: 28
I'm not anywhere near there. I don't know why I can't finish anything these days. I might need to dig out one of my favorites and see if that helps.

Movies: 
Watched: 6
Total: 28
Should be: 28
I continued to feed my Marvel obsession with Daredevil and Spider-Man. No, I've never seen the original SM trilogy. Working on remedying that. Also The World's End which was shockingly good, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which was beautiful and bittersweet, and Cabin in the Woods which I still think about at random moments of the day because what.