I'm throwing my hat in the ring for NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo 2013. I guess third time's the charm, since the last two drafts are shelved.

The problem is that this will be my blindest NaNoWriMo yet. I wrote outlines for the last two ones, but this time, I just got bit and pieces. I don't even have names for all my main characters yet.

But I do know roughly how the first half unfold. It's pants time. Really, this NaNoWriMo is all about getting back into the writing groove without failing math class.

Here's my profile, if you want to friend me. To everyone doing NaNoWriMo, or anyone writing this November, I wish you good luck.

Now back to my music.

I'm On That HuffPo Again! Read My Review of Miley Cyrus' Bangerz

Hey, I'm back again to promote my second review in the Huffington Post!

Due to behind-the-scenes stuff, we couldn't get it up on Tuesday, but it's better late than never.

So read my piece: "Miley Cyrus' Bangerz Is Actually Pretty Good". While I'm critical of its lyrical content, believe me, it's not trash. Also, it's predicted to be #1 on the weekly album charts.

Another note.

It's not locked in, but I'm planning a writing/music post for next week. Watch for it! This might be the end of my Dogtown hiatus.

I Wrote a Review for the Huffington Post!

I'm still on hiatus when it comes to this blog (I'm having trouble with my own novel writing), but I wrote a guest post for the Huffington Post!

Go read it in the Huffington Post's Entertainment section. It's a track-by-track review of Lorde's Pure Heroine album from a lyrical viewpoint. Special thanks to Rock Genius, which I worked with to analyze the album.

And here's a song from Lorde that you probably don't know about--yet.

Why the Video for Lorde's "Royals" Is Awesome

Have you seen the music videos  for “Royals” by Lorde? On the surface, it seems counter-productive.

It lacks excitement, showing a constant stream of scenes centered around four teenage boys doing nothing particular. Lots of lulls also fill the video, and Lorde herself doesn't even appear that much beyond an opening and closing image and one scene during the bridge.

And it works. The music video for “Royals” is avant-garde and minimal, and successfully represents one mindset held by teenagers.

I'm Calling Yet Another Hiatus

My blogging for this has hit a wall. I feel like I'm not putting enough into this blog to yield good results. Also, since finals are approaching, I feel like I need to reshift my priorities. Blogging stands out as a less important priority.

I might review the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby or post the weekly round-up, but for now, I hope that you have a good weekend.

Sorry for ditching you, but perhaps a break will let me reassess things and perhaps let me put in what this blog deserves.

YA Lit Really Screws Over Parents

In YA literature, parents rarely get a lot of appreciation, especially if they're the protagonists'. In most cases, at least one of the MC's parents are:

  1. dead; or
  2. missing; or
  3. otherwise out of the picture

I thought about adding "incompetent", but that sort of stretching it. Let's focus on the "dead/missing" aspect for now.

Dogtown Weekly: Umm...John Green?

Welcome to the Weekly!

Unfortunately, I have nothing much to say except that it's a month before summer break, I'm on my second John Green book in a row, and I barely got any writing done last night. But it's progress.

So on John Green...he's a great author. So far, none of his stories really blown me away, but he sure is a crafty storyteller who know how to write his teenagers in a sweet balance between "realistic" and "larger-than-life".

I'm exactly halfway through The Fault in Our Stars, even though I just started it today. I have high expectations for the other half, since everyone else holds it toward such a position. All I know is that it's going to end tragically. In what way, I don't know. SPOILERIFIC PREDICTION: I have a feeling that Augustus is going to relapse and die on Hazel. It's a little too easy for Hazel to die, but hey, it can happen. In any case, someone will die, since John Green seems to have a reputation of killing main characters, with what little work he has.

If you haven't already read my article on fallacies, I suggest that you check it out!

Take the jump to see what articles I have to present this week!

Let's Have Fun With: Fallacies

All right, instead of working on that polyamory post I promised, I decided to pull out something waiting for its turn as a draft, finish it, and brush it off.

This is something not directly related to literature, but it's still interesting! I'll be relying on TV Tropes to convey some of the information, but I hope you learn something from this.

Let's get funky with fallacies!

Dogtown Weekly: Prayers To Those Affected By the Boston Marathon

Quote from Mr. Rogers: "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping."
Mr. Rogers' wisdom is still relevant today.
First, the serious subject of the week.

We all heard about the explosions during the Boston marathon, how people were hurt, and the resulting buzz. It's a tragedy. The bad guys have had the largest victory, and even if we catch them, we can't undo what they have done.

The bombings were unexpected, and that's one thing that makes the entire event so bitter. How many people knew that 9/11 would happen on that day in that way besides the perpetrators? How many people knew that the Newtown shooting would happen?

That's the thing. We didn't. We expected that it would just be like any other day. I did, until I sat in front of the computer when I should've been doing my homework, got on Twitter, saw that "Boston Marathon" was trending, knew something big happened, and then got into the tweets...

Like with the Newtown shooting, I hoped that no one died, but like the Newtown shooting people did died. Not as much as Newtown, but when you throw in the severe injuries (people lost their legs!) and the fact that it was in public and got caught on camera, you can't really rank it.

What's striking about the aftermath was how the Internet exploded. My Twitter feed turned into mostly Boston Marathon-related tweets, juxtapositioned with automated promotion (although I wasn't promoting my own stuff, I pushed back Buffer tweets to the next day). It further shows how the Internet has radically changed our society. It has changed what we do in the face of tragedy. We don't just gaze at the TV, waiting for updates. We try to contribute. We communicate news with others, we link to useful sites, and we cope.

If there's one silver lining in this entire event, it's that it showed that people helped. When the bombs went off, the most practical thing for most people who weren't medics would've been to get out of the area. However, some people ran to the site of the explosions to help those hurt. Some went to the blood bank. Some provided food and comfort. Businesses freely lent their services.

Many people refused to be apathetic bystanders. Many people saved lives and helped others cope with the emotional shock that came with the incident. This shows that again and again, people help each other in the face of tragedy, and that's one reason why humanity has hope.

Now that's out of the way...

Look Out For These Music Tracks Soon! [yMusic]

Since I have a post going up this week on YA Confidential, I thought that I should bring back the old yMusic feature to showcase a few songs I think you might be hearing more in the future.

To keep it simple, I'll just put up the YouTube videos for each one of these, along with my thoughts on how it will do.

Ready? Embed time!

Note: Lately, I've been obsessed with the Billboard Hot 100. Every time I refer to the Top 40 or #10 or something like that, I'll be using that as reference.

Dogtown Weekly: And Now Until Next Week

Okay, I'm officially horrible at keeping promises. Bad, bad, ba, ba, black sheep. I'm not finished with my wool, and I don't want to jinx it saying that I'll have it done by Monday.

I'm not sure what exactly happened this week, except for the orchestra concert last night. I guess that put me in a different mindset. But at least I stayed on top of my homework, and I'm back focusing on my sleep habits, after failing a little while ago.

...Okay, I'll promise to have a post up on Monday.

Take the jump to see links to and commentary on great articles you might've missed this week!

Today's Post is Delayed Until Wednesday or So

Sorry, guys. I'm falling through with last Monday's promise.

You see, I'm still writing the blog post intended for today, but I find that I went in a completely different direction, straight into a minefield.

As in, I wrote myself into a sensitive topic. One wrongly worded sentence, and my whole intention becomes muddled and I accidentally offend someone.

I doubt many people are going to read it, but I'm going to edit the article further to make sure I didn't make a Critical Research Failure.

It's not about rape. I don't really have much to say on the topic right now besides what I said in the most recent YA Confidential chat.

It's about polyamory in YA, a topic I have recent interest but cursory knowledge in.

Email me if you want to help beta read the post. I'll have the article up by Wednesday or Thursday.

For now, enjoy this recent trailer for the upcoming The Great Gatsby movie. For bonus points, state all four artists in the background music without looking anything up.

Dogtown Weekly: Does Your Story Have a Vision?

J.K. Growlings listening to his iPod Shuffle.
This was a rejected photoshoot photo.
It didn't have the required sunglasses.
Welcome to the Dogtown Weekly! Time to catch up with some writing articles.

Before I present the ever-growing list of links with commentary, let me direct you to a few one-site posts and one off-site post.

First of all, I need advice for how to cultivate a Google+ community.  Rome wasn't built in a day, but I a direction to walk toward.

Second of all, I'm now a blogger/operative at YA Confidential. I'm on board with an article ready to be put up soon, and I hope this will be a great thing for all parties involved. You should also enter the ten-prize giveaway. It ends tonight.

One more note: I need to create a graphic for the Dogtown Weekly. In this age, pictures are important, and I don't want my social links to look bare when this gets shared. Maybe I'll use J.K. Growlings again and have him read the Wall Street Journal for another photoshoot.

For now, enjoy the photo of J.K. Growlings with my trusty iPod Shuffle.

Now take the jump and enjoy the articles!

I'm Going Operative Mode

J.K. Growlings in sunglasses.
Here's a hint.
Okay, it's time to make the announcement I promised on Friday.

I held off composing this post until last night just to make sure I didn't jump the gun, but since all the arrangements have been made, I say it's safe to let the cat out of the bag.

Did you see the giveaway I was promoting in a lot of my promoting outlets? There was a good reason behind it.


I Need YOUR Help! Taking Suggestions From the Crowd on Community

As you can see, there isn't much of a community here. Sure, you guys comment often, and I appreciate that, but there's no unity. All attempts to force it failed.

For example, there's this embarrassing post. Not only I failed to sustain the discussion question's reach, my first giveaway only had 41 entries. Not 41 people entering, but 41 entries.

But today, I'm not soliciting advice for this blog. Rather, I'm asking about the Google+ community I created, Young Adult Lit and Writing.

Dogtown Weekly: Are Print Books Going Niche?

Welcome to the Weekly!

As I continue experimenting with Feedly this week, I found myself categorizing a ton of articles, so I'm going to test out another way categorization method. This is apart of an ongoing and wide-spanning effort of mine to increase productivity in my day and write more and better.

Yes, I am working on Manifestation Files. It's slow but steady progress.

By the way, I have a great announcement to make very soon, but I'm going to wait until the news break. I'll post on my blog when it's time.

Enjoy the articles, and don't forget to share them with other writers!

Is Conflict Really Necessary for Fiction?

With almost every story, there are a few basic elements. There must be a beginning, a middle, and a end. You must have a setting, and you must have at least one character. You must have a theme, you must have a point-of-view, and you must have conflict.

But what if you take one of those elements away?

Specifically, conflict. Is it possible to write a good story without conflict?

Some story experts say that even if the rest of the story is composed of half-baked elements, great conflict can redeem the story. However, defying one of the most fundamental requirements for fiction is quite the act of rebellion, so let's consider it.

Dogtown Weekly: Is NA Overflowing with Romance?

Welcome to the Weekly, guys!

Before we start with the usual weekly round-up, I'll just like to say that if you're using Google Reader, you should probably find another way to follow your feeds.

With this blog, you can either:

  1. Switch to another RSS reader. Right now, I'm using Feedly, and it's working out for me. I used it to gather the below links and share them through Buffer, a usual social scheduling tool.
  2. Subscribe via email! Hey, you might like it better. Also, as I already informed my email list, I'm improving the experience there.

Now, back to your scheduled round-up, right after the jump.

BONUS: Buried within the article links is a link to a free bestselling book! Consider it my bonus for you taking the time to read.

What Are Your Most Annoying Writing Tics?

Everyone who writes a lot develop some nasty habits that poison their work--or at least give them pimples. We fall back into them naturally because it's easier to just ignore them during the rough draft and exterminate them later.

On the other hand, We often forget to go back to reap them.

See that strike-outed transition? That's one of them.

One of my goals is to squash those writing tics.

An incomplete list of my "writing tics":

  1. Overusing some transitions: "On the other hand" is one of many of them, but the main culprits are "unfortunately" and "however". Don't believe me? Look back at the last five posts of my blog, and you'll find multiple instances of these little boogers. Unfortunately, the problem is how to moderate them without making my writing choppy.
  2. Overusing parenthesis: Again, look back at the last five posts.
  3. Overusing ellipses: This is the "tic" I have been most successful at reigning in, in the grand scheme of things. I notice that a year ago, I overused them in my fiction, and it gave the prose a dotted feel. I still use them a lot in my forum posts, but on my blog, I've been conserving them. It doesn't mean they're not a part of my style still, but it's something I've taken in account.

Those are just the tics I notice.

But they're easy to deal with.

There are two different ways to suppress those tics.

  1. Keep them in mind when writing. Don't get too hung up on them, but your subconscious can affect your writing.
  2. Edit them out after the draft. This is the easier route.

In the end, they're only harmful if you leave them in.

YOUR TURN: -point to title-. How do you deal with them? If you're not a writer, what are some examples of recurring elements that you've seen in a novel that were distracting?

PS: Today's post was short, but I'm planning something deeper next week.

Dogtown Weekly: 3/15/13

The Bookshelf Muse: Clarity In Writing & The Curse of Reader Assumption:
Jimmy Choos is not an Asian assassin! Yeezy taught me otherwise! /music reference

Readers never have the same kind of assumptions than the writer. No two humans have the same kind of assumptions. So clarity is important. So is a beta reader.

However, you should also avoid going too far into "viewers are morons" territory. In the book I'm currently reading, I stopped at one point because the author explained what a juvenile detention center" is. The explanation broke immersion because the context already made it clear what the detention center is. It was not even a full sentence, but put in the middle of a sentence.

At the same time, I thought back to the terms "small of the back" and "solar plexus", two terms that I've seen in multiple contexts and had to look up more than once. For reference, the small of the back is the lower back, and the solar plexus is where a lot of nerves meet on the upper stomach.

Nothing can make everyone happy.

The Character Therapist: A Therapist's Take on Silver Linings Playbook:
Yet again, Jeannie Campbell proves an interesting perspective to a work of fiction. The movie she writes about sounds interesting, and I might watch it in the future.

In summary, Silver Linings Playbook had both a realistic and a riveting take on mental disorders--except for one hitch.

YAtopia: What's okay for YA?:
By now, there's extremely little that you can't do in YA. By now, it's not about what subjects you can or can not do. Rather, it's how you approach them.

Now, it's interesting how the author and her editor and publisher decided to remove a f-bomb from the first page in order to avoid turning readers off, even if the rest of the novel is full of profanity. Sometimes, the commercial aspect of writing needs to be considered if you want to continue being a career novelist.

I really need to detail my opinion on the entire "commercial success vs. artistic integrity" debate in the future.

Roni Loren: The Faster I Write, the Better the Book?:
This seems like a paradox, but it does have some basis. Sean Platt has written about this before, saying that writing faster helps you find you true writing voice, but I think there's another reason.

Basically, when you keep up momentum instead of taking it slow, you spend less time fixating over every word. So when you spill everything out, if you plan everything correctly, the subconscious produces something more natural and less forced.

Writer Unboxed: Does Your Protagonist Have Amnesia?:
I thought this

Terribleminds: Writing Books and Fighting Cancer, By T.J. Brown:
Lastly, a touching story with its quirks. Just because you're on morphine for cancer treatment doesn't mean you can't write.

A Quick Note:

Spring Break for me starts today! I'll be using next week to do something...productive. Preferably fiction.

Have a nice weekend!

How Herding Characters Can Improve Your Cast

Written by Chihuahua Zero (@chihuahuazero)

Sometimes, when you can't keep track of all of your characters, herding them is the way to go.

Not literal herding, as in "cattle herding"! Figurative herding, of course!

Dogtown Weekly: 3/8/13

For now, I'm going to suspend personal updates and focus more on the weekly round-up. Notes will be at the end of this post.

Enjoy these links, and share this article with someone if you found it useful!

Disclosure: Before anyone can ask, yes, I removed a couple of links from the TV Tropes' Article Dumping thread from this lineup. I have done it before. Occasionally, I find that in retrospect, including a particular link wouldn't be useful.

Dogtown Weekly: 3/1/13

YAtopia: What is an "authentic" voice and how do you write it?:

Teenagers are different. There are definitely trends when it comes to "voice", but keep in mind that it's easily to fall into the stereotype of a teen's "authentic" voice.

Let's Get Digital: Amazon’s Recommendation Engine Trumps The Competition:

It's scary how effective Amazon is. It's the Google of online bookstores. I've read too many articles on how Barnes and Noble's site pales in comparison to Amazon. I can see why.

It's interesting seeing how Amazon advances as it further dominates the market. Hopefully, it won't become too drunk on power.

Mystery Writing is Murder: The Butler Did It?:

Have you ever wondered about "the butler did it" cliche? Here's a look into this cliche, which haven't really been played seriously.

The Other Side of the Story: Why Character Arcs (and Growth) Make Readers Care:

For me, I found most interesting about this article the comparison of Undercover and Miss Congeniality, two similar story, with only one being notable. It's a nice vehicle to convey how character depth means a lot.

YAtopia: Breaking the law, breaking the law!:

Yes, YAtopia gets a second mention today. That's the nature of blogs in the weekly round-ups, the fact that they have periods where articles from them pop up often before dropping out. It depends on my enthusiasm.

But this is the top article in this particular round-up just because of the sheer comedy contained with this. I read this aloud to a friend before school. She cracked up twice. It's the audacity of this cliche storm that might not work among 700+ pages, but entertains with this particular excerpt.

Consider the cliches bought up within this. Think about why they don't work (seriously) here, and why they other writers get away with them again and again.


No personal updates this week. Let's say that I'm in between things, and I don't want to report on something that I end up abandoning the following week.

How Not to Advise in Absolutes: An Example

Last week James L. Rubart, on Novel Rocket, wrote an article that set me--and several other readers--off.

Headline? "You Can Only Write In One Genre. Period. End of Story."

Regardless of whatever you agree with this basic statement or not, I hope you see what I think is wrong with how the statement is worded. The rest of the post provides the perfect excuse on how not to be persuasive.

Dogtown Weekly: Ghosted Out

Weekly Round-up: 2/22/13

YAtopia: Amazing Advice from Some Amazing Authors:
First of all, here's a round-up of a lot of short yet useful writing advice from a variety of authors, including Heather Brewer. Pick and choose.

Livehacked: Learning to Spell At Fifty:
This is inspiring. It's the tale of a writer who struggled through school, and gotten into some shabby situations throughout the years, but eventually found his passion in writing.

YAvengers: Writing For Trends:
This is a new YA group blog (like YA Confidential, YA Indie, and YA Highway--see a pattern?). It comes with a twist: the blog authors assume the identity of a character from The Avengers movie. I can't see what they do with this concept.

Yet again, trends. What a polarizing topic. For me, I don't have a strong opinion. It's more about how they use them than the presence of them, most of the time.

The Write Practice: Do You Have a Purpose? The Absurd in Literature:
I'm including this because absurdist literature seems like an interesting type of fiction that you might want to at least dip into. Bring on the artistically pointless!

Pub Crawl: In Defense of Love Interests:
I would say this is an example of trends gone wrong, when people start shoving related yet different conventions into the same prominent box.

Love triangles and webs can be done in a chockload amount of ways, many unlike some of what is usually seen. For example, in The Sims 2 (yes, I switched games from last week; sue me), my teen Sim has dated at least five different Sims. I'm not sure if he will continue doing this in university, but he'll eventually settle done, for the sake of me being able to raise a Sim child.

But still, love triangles can be done in different ways. But know what I haven't seen yet? A true polygamous relationship between three teens. I want to see a book explore how it works, and the conflicts that sprout from it.

Feel free to steal that idea.

terribleminds: How to Push Past the Bullshit and Write That Goddamn Novel: A Very Simple No Fucker Writing Plan to get Shit Done:
I considered censoring this title, but it would've lessened the impact of the headline.

Finally, a challenge for you. I'll be following the spirit of it.


One more note: I was going to include another article that I severely disagreed with, but I had so much to say about it, and the topic served as a great vehicle to teach a few lessons, it'll be the center of Monday's post.

Let's say that by this point, I'm ready to receive some criticism from other blog writers.

Dogtown Weekly: Simming Out

Weekly Round-up: 2/15/13

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: How To Sell Ebooks:

Considering this is the guy who have sold one million ebooks, you should read through what he has to say.

While a lot of it is the typical yet never-get-old kind of advice, one of the points emphasized is how powerful word-of-mouth is. Recommendations have been proven to be one of the major reasons why people buy books. Remember this.

AndiLit: The Lie We Perpetuate about Writing, Drugs, and Mental Illness:

In most cases, drugs can take the toll to the human mind. In the few cases that it might've helped, they might result in a more miserable life.

Although in the TV Tropes' thread where I keep my writing article links before I bring them up here, troper JHM (an often insightful reader and fellow writer) brought up a good point: many writers who took drugs, were depressed, or drink chronically, like Hemingway, fell into such habits because of their experiences. The drugs and mental illnesses were often a way of diluting the inspiration that  made such storytellers fantastic writers.

But I'm curious about what studies are out there on the relationship between drugs and art.

The Writer's Voice: New Adult Books: Do They Have to be Graphic?:

The answer to this is really obvious: no. Of course not. Only erotica or other genres where sex is a central element is sex required, and considering that New Adult is a demographic, the point is moot.

This article is also a reflection of New Adult's melding image. It's new. People are still forming their perceptions of the trends and conventions of NA, like Young Adult fiction, and it will take a few years until people find what make stories sell.

Whatever this osmosis is good or bad is for a heated discussion

(JHM's opinion is that this is a branding problem, and that writers should worry about their image after they write, instead of before. However, I can't comment on whatever he's right or wrong.)

Nathan Bransford: Can Bookish Be a Game Changer?:

Bookish is yet another bookworm-centered social media network that is trending. I'm bringing this up here because this site's fate is still up in the air. Whatever it rises to Goodread's level or it just flounders, we will see.

Jeff Goins: The Secret of Success: Stop Trying to Be Famous:

This is one of many, many articles on the entire "fame vs. success" debate.

I'm sort of torn by this debate.

I don't want to be a total celebrity flocked by paparazzi and gossip magazines. I also don't want to die poor, alone, and a total drunk. It doesn't really help much to be like van Gogh and not be able to stay around to enjoy being an acclaimed influence. I want to know my legacy in my lifetime, and possibly let that legacy be historic.

Which celebrities of today will be remembered a century from now? Who knows? Let's just wait to see what's down the road.

Writer's Update

Yeah, progress has still stalled, but only because I'm working on other stuff. For the most part, homework is cleared, violin and piano practice is doing better, and I think I'm doing well on my tests. Oh, and I'm going to slay the research paper for Social Studies.

This weekend, which is four days, I'll continue working on going to bed and rising early, and start being productive in the early morning. 

Now the question will The Sims 3 factor into this? 

I created the co-protagonists of Manifestation Files in-game and had them interact. I spent plenty of time messing with them, trying to translate how I imagine them in my mind onto the screen.

While Sim Finn is decent, Sim Bryan doesn't seem quite there. I find that The Sim 3's Create-a-Sim mode isn't quite flexible than its precessor. Also, I have no idea what his nose is like. Maybe I'll have to browse some half-Filipinos, find the model that's closest to what I imagine Bryan to be like, and use him.

Meanwhile though, I'm just having a little fun with the actual game play while wondering why there are so many vampire in-game.

YOUR TURN: Do you have a favorite video game? What is it?

4 Grammar Lessons That Need to be Hammered In

I think we've done the whole "its vs. it's" lesson to death, yet there're other errors done too often.

I'm not a Grammar Nazi (although I'm a...I'll get to it later), but I think learning about grammar is worth it. If we're publishing traditional, it saves our editors some headaches, and if we're going self pub, it'll make our pages more high quality.

So let's dig into the grab bag and implant a few rules to apply to our writing--although you don't have to, if you don't feel like learning grammar today, even if it's to your best interest.

Let's go from most covered to least cover, okay?

Dogtown Weekly: Submitted...To the School Newspaper

Weekly Round-up: 2/8/13

Kristen Lamb: How Eminem Makes Me a Better Writer:

I haven't listened to a lot of his music, but Eminem is a very...interesting artist. I only listened to a few songs from him, but let me just plug a related article from Copyblogger.

Adventures in YA & Children's Literature: Stop Trying to Fit Yourself into the Publishing Box by Brittany Geragotelis:

Wattpad. It has been called the YouTube of writing.

I intended to go to a Twitter chat (I think #indiechat) about Wattpad, with an actual staff member answering questions, but I forgot about it until there were ten minutes left. I should read over the transcript.

I already have an account. The question is whatever I should use it. Unfortunately, my writing has been...sterile, but I won't be addressing this today.

TalkToYoUniverse: 1000 Posts at TalkToYoUniverse!:

Talk To You Universe is a blog that again and again appear on the round-ups, due to its useful worldbuilding information. So here's Juliette's own collection of links over the year. I bet at least one of you readers will get lost in a tangent.

Writer's Updates: Hey, It's Something

Thursday morning, in between the period when I arrived at school and 1st period, I typed up three poems and emailed them to one of my friends--who is a staff member of the yearly art newsletter, an off-shoot of the school newspaper.

The odds of at least one poem being published is extremely high, but hey, it's something. After laying it off, I took the time to use some of the leftovers from the poetry unit for something useful.

Learning how to submit is a useful skill. Be sure to take the baby steps.

Next baby step...write something again.

I'm Adjusting My Blog Schedule

I'm going to test out blogging only every other Monday and every Friday and see how that affects my blog. Maybe the extra time will let me create higher quality articles.

Sorry for there being no blog post today. Homework is more important right now.

Dogtown Weekly: 5:40 AM

One month has passed! The other eleven will be better.

It's scary how fast they're going to go.

Guest Post: The Write Practice

It went up yesterday! I finished the first version of this back in November during my failed guest posting blitz, but it didn't went up then since I wrote it for The Write Practice and all slots were filled at the time. Until now.

I'm surprised that Joe Bunting let me do two guest posts, but since I already gained another follower, I can't complain.

(On a side note, I applied for the Story Cartel/The Write Practice program. One of the application questions was my biggest fear as a writer. I had trouble submitting that without being indirect, and even then, I hesitated at pressing "Send". At least that's a sign that it the answer was genuine.

You'll have to wait to read about my writing fear.)

Now for the weekly round-up.

The Ongoing List of Writing Round-ups

Out of a whim, I created this: a round-up of writing round-ups. 

Embrace this resource of resources, and pick and choose which ones you want to subscribe to.

At the moment though, it's far from done. Feel free to suggest in the comments or via emails other round-ups I forgot, and I'll credit you at the bottom of this post.

Suggestions must meet these guidelines:

  1. The link is to a blog...
  2. ...that have posts that are a collection of links to writing-related articles.

Now, just take the jump.

Dogtown Weekly: 1/25/12

I apologize in advance for the shorter list of links. I hope you still find these valuable.

Study Hacks: “Write Every Day” is Bad Advice: Hacking the Psychology of Big Projects:

Once again, this debate rears its head.

My opinion though, is that in the end, it depends on the writer. Some writers might need to work on their work every day. Some writers might have to take a day or two off a week. Some writers might work fine working without a fixed schedule, and picking up the pencil when they feel like it. 

Kristen Lamb's Blog: Enemies of the Art Part 1–Approval Addiction: 

I haven't encountered this problem on a family level, but I see it often with writers among other writers.

Don't get fixated over getting approval over one excerpt of your work from critiquers. Get the approval once, step away, and go write the rest. You will feel better when you can announce that you finished a draft, and then an entire project.

terribleminds: 25 Hard Truths About Writing and Publishing:

Read through this list, even if for review.

One point that I haven't seen any blog about though is #16. Yes, you might be upset over the fact that another seemly-airheaded celeb got a book deal, but besides the integrity of books (which is 

Jami Gold: Behave...The Internet Never Forgets:

Kristen Lamb has a related blog post about the entire ordeal. Read both of these.

Don't be the plagiarist described in these articles unless you want a uphill battle toward publication. On the other level, remember that with multiple archive sites around, it's hard to not leave evidence of your cyber deeds unless you lurk on the uncharted side of the Internet...but who knows how long that will stay in the dark.

Hmm...what dirt have I left under the Chihuahua Zero handle?

Writing Update: It's complicated.

Manifestation Files has halted, again.

I'm focusing on the other elements of my daily life first before tending to my writing. I'm trying to improve my sleeping "early to bed, early to rise" style, making better use of my time after school, fitting both violin and piano into my schedule, and in general become more efficient while preventing bad stress.

Good news though, is that the yearly art edition of my school's newspaper is open for submission.

Not only I have some poems from my Comm Arts class, but the number of submissions are low. My chances of making the final edition is extremely high.

In the grand scheme of things, it's small, but I can't pass it up.

All I need to do is to type them up...

This probably deserves its own post in the future, but I'll let it out now.

I'm not sure about my position on college. Should I be open toward the Ivy League, or disregard the recommended credits, put myself out of the running, and shift my priorities as school continues on? 

Choosing classes for next year weren't that hard, but I'm not sure if I want to spend one more year on science/math/possibly French than I need to.

Besides, at the end of the day, if I want to be a full-time writer, the degree itself isn't as useful to me, only the experience. Plenty of successful and breadwinning authors never went to college.

Doesn't mean I don't want to go to college. I want the experience. The question is to what level. I have no plans to go beyond four years, but I'm uncertain about whatever I want to go to a really prestigious college or not, just in case my aspirations as a novelist fall through since maybe a smaller insituation might be better suited to my artistic leanings.

YOUR TURN: So, college. Anyone going there? Anyone not? Advice?

Also, are any of you fellow writers submitting anything at the moment? Take the mic!

Why a Book Under a Bowl Isn't an Abomination

[Don't forget to read the bottom of the post!]

Often, closemindness and snobbery are dangerous traits to have, especially if it's combined with overreaction

This happened on both The Passive Voice and The Huffington Post, on an article about using books as decor. A few of the commentors reacted poorly to the idea:

Books are NOT decor.

Maybe that's fine for Hipsters, or the pseudo-literarati, but books are more for reading.

When owning books becomes more about the decor than being read, you know civilisation is in trouble.

Oh, yuck! How shallow! Books should be readily available for reading and study, not as a decoration or to show off someone's learning.

Using books to make a plinth for a tacky little porcelain bowl, in particular, is an abomination.

"Abomination"? That's a strong word for something harmless.

The problem with these kinds of comments is that they're dipping into the "no true Scotsman" mindset. That's a dangerous mindset to have.

So, what are the problems?

Here are the presumptions being made:

  1. Books aren't not meant to be used as decor.
  2. Using a book for another purpose besides reading and not reading it is bad.

The second statement is a definite philosophical issue, but the first statement, I think, is wrong.

Dogtown Weekly: 1/18/13

What Happens Next: PSA: Your Default Narrative Settings Are Not Apolitical

This is an older post, but it presents a mindblowing point: Woman had more impact on history than we think—because a lot of their work have been destroyed and they're often brushed over.

Adventures in YA & Children's Literature: This Week for Writers 1/5/13 - 1/11/13:

If you haven't already, you should look through this other round-up from last week. It's a revival of the blog series I based these weekly round-ups on. Already, I added at least one other blog onto my blogroll.

(And on a totally unrelated note, "Roundup" is a weed killer. One other reason why to use "round-up" instead.)

Annie Neugebauer: Why Some Novels Say “A Novel” on the Cover, and If Yours Should Too

A fun piece. Want another history listen? Dive in!

The Character Therapist: YA/New Adult "Good Girl Saves Bad Boy" Myth Problematic

I'm not a fan of the "bad boy" character, nor the concept of the protagonist female "saving" him. It's along the same vein than the Madonna Whore Complex.

While this article doesn't explore the concept from a strong, psychological concept, it's worth pointing out that other scenarios should have a try in YA.

Thinking about it...does Twilight go into this scenario?

Cross-Up: How to Make a Good 50-Foot Woman Movie

Thinking up hypothetical stories are fun! This particular exploration gets really detailed into the process, especially with the "order vs. chaos" theme.

Oasis for YA: Writer Wednesday: The Middle Book Syndrome:

I agree with both the premise of the post and many of the causes of the "middle book syndrome". Like the sagging middle, the second book in the trilogy can sometimes be done wrong.

Also, A Million Suns did avoid decay, in my opinion. I think it's because it manages to escalate while maintaining the same framework from the first book. Whatever that'll carry to Book Three, I'm not sure, but look where they sent the book!

Yeah, I think "The Tangent", as described in the article, is the prime reason why second books fail.

Jody Hedlund: Are We Turning Into A Culture of Picky Readers?:

All right, I'll confess. I've been suffering a bout of pickiness when it comes to ebooks. It doesn't help that by getting a book for free, it can influence my obligation to read it.

Maybe I'll jump into one at random to see what happens.

How Well Do We Handle Multiracial Characters in YA?

As with other traits such as gender, orientation, nationality, class, and ability, race is often debated over its prevalence in young adult literature. Whitewashing is a common accusation with book covers, especially with that one incident a few years back.

On the other hand, I notice that there's a good biracial (or multiracial, or polyracial) presence in YA, but it doesn't come without its hitches.

Issue books.

For example, I've read at least three YA books over the years that have biracial diversity as a main theme. Although the other two titles elude me, the one I recall is called The Latte Rebellion. Along with racial themes, it also deals with the pressure of college in an effective way.

On the other hand, compared with more ethnic books, biraciality gets swept under the covers as an issue. As with any other discrimination, it's out there, but compared with the big ones, it doesn't come up as often. It helps that it seems many celebrities are of mixed race, and with a spectrum of ethnicities involved, sometimes someone who is practically Caucasian versus someone biracial can look like siblings.

Instead, it mostly manifests in the mainstream as "futuristic racial".

"Futuristic Racial" characters.

"Futuristic racial" is my personal term for characters who come from mixed or ambiguous racial heritage due to a futuristic setting.

This is plausible, and maybe even inevitable. With more and more couples crossing ethnic lines and having biracial and multiracial children, it's unlikely that modern categories will be around for long.

All it takes is one world-changing event, which happens quite often in fiction, for race to be a radically different concept.

I took the concept of "futuristic racial" characters in account when writing my NaNoWriMo project, Road. Most of the cast is described as having varying shades of skin, eye color, and hair color, with mixed facial features implied.

Examples of "futuristic characters" in YA

I think the most known example might be Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games, since they have olive skin and gray eyes. However, this isn't brushed on upon, so they're debatable cases. Still, this did spark some debate during casting for the movie.

A more clear-cut example is Elder, and everyone besides Amy, in Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Elder's explicitly described as having a mix of features, and it's used as a plot point and a sharp contrast against Amy's Caucasian features.

Another examples includes Day from Legend by Marie Lu (half-Mongolian), Ky from Matched by Ally Condie (described as having olive skin), Nailer from Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (dark skin, blue eyes), and so on.

Does this say anything about YA as a whole?

While Caucasian characters as both protagonists and love interests are still the majority--at the moment anyways--at least from my perspective, it seems like biracial or multiracial characters might have more representation in the mainstream than minority characters like African- or Asian-Americans.

This is far from a scientific representation, but the examples I brought up are good-sized players in the scene. I mean, there's Katniss, the main protagonist of The Hunger Games, with the next major non-white character being Jacob from Twilight, whose just the secondary love interest.

Now, who's the most popular African American character in YA? Or even an Asian character? Or Hispanic?

...In order to find one in prime protagonist status, we have to depart from the Big Three of YA and go into more subjective standards. But among the Big Three, it's definitely Rue.

Good old Rue, gone too soon.

And plus, it's the future, so she could be considered futuristic racial.

Maybe it's Leo from The Lost Hero, even though that spin-off series can be considered MG, and he's the non-primary co-protagonist.

My point is, I'm moving goalposts in order to fit this criteria.

My theory about this

It might be that, at least by market standards, biracial or ambiguously racial characters are considered more accepted with protagonist status than distinct minority characters.

This statement is easily disputed, but I stand with it for the moment. It's not as much of a problem than the more fundamental ones (like the "white pretty girl on the cover" norm), but it's worth pointing out.

Maybe it's because publishers prefer protagonists that don't carry racial baggage? Now, that presumption raises a lot of question, because the nature of fiction allows stories to zone out a character's heritage if it isn't relevant to the plot, and this has been done a million times. Also, Caucasians can also have very ethnic lives.

Maybe it's just the universal bias that affects American culture. I recall reading an article on Entertainment Weekly stating that at one time, the only non-white protagonist on Fox (or maybe even broadcast television) was Cleveland from The Cleveland Show. And he's animated. And voiced by a white actor.

On the other hand, biracial characters aren't as prevalent on television than in YA, so I suggest you throw in your two cents. Do you think there's a bias existing with biracial characters compared with other minorities?

Let's shift gears before it gets messy. 

Bryan Time

Throughout middle school, the majority of the protagonists I perceived in my mind were Caucasian boys. This is most reflected by Justin of my shameful fan fiction Kira is Justice and Kevin of the abandoned Ashwood Landing, both explicitly white and Hollywood homely (although Kevin is half-Irish, with the middle name Eoin).

Within the last year, that's changing. The protagonist of Road was race lifted from being white to being futuristic racial. 

Bryan of Manifestation Files turned from being a light-haired Caucasian to being half-Filipino.

The initial imaginings I had of him was that he was fiery, and his appearance reflected that. Over time though, my mental image of him shifted to someone tall, dark and snarky. Black hair, dark clothes, folded arms and a  frown.

He's from the dreamy boy or bad boy personas that many YA love interests are, since he's too slim, and he's more like the typical anime high schooler that isn't hot-headed. I want him to cast a different vibe. He's not brooding or swoonful. He's pragmatic, but stands for his ideals, and for others.

At this point, I played with the whole biracial aspect of him. I thought of him being half-Italian--and then not describing his race at all, as a way of teasing with the audience. More and more though, it became obvious I wouldn't be able to keep up that kind of ploy.

Come last Labor Day, I saw a Filipino teenager and thought "I wonder what it would be like if Bryan was half-Filipino?"

Boom. Now I'm telling it to you.

(On a side note, Bryan's mom and dad swapped races, but this was more for personal reasons. I'll talk about this more in detail once I'm more comfortable with the matter.)

Ironically, this means that he's more ethnic than co-protagonist Finn, a British exchange student. Although in general, Bryan doesn't have a sense of heritage, and I'm pushing his extended family into the background.

What was the point of that story?

Well, this is a post about biracial characters, and...

Point is, I'm writing one. Since I'm already writing a protagonist that's male, I might as well write him the way that feels most natural.

YOUR TURN: What do you think of biracial or multiracial characters in general? Are you writing one? What do you think of the "futuristic racial" concept?

Dogtown Weekly: Bring On The Commentary!

Hey guys, the weekly round-ups are a new form!

I'm not sure if I'll stick to this form for long, since I'm going to hybrid it with last year's format, but I'm trying out more of the Post of the Week layout that I attempted a few months ago--except I do it to more than one blog article.

I hope you enjoy the commentary.

Top 10 Blogs for Writers 2012 – The Winners:

To my knowledge, this is the most authority-backed list in the entire writing craft niche, besides possibly the Writer's Digest list.

Only four winners are from last year: Jeff Goins, Writer; The Write PracticeThe Creative Penn; and Romance University. The first two are among my favorites (with The Write Practice being my nominee), and the latter two are also decent blogs that aren't surprising.

I had fun archive binging Jeff Goins' blog and The Write Practice. Either one of them might make next year's list if Jeff Goins and Joe Bunting keep writing at the level they're at...and beyond.

I'm unfamiliar with three of the blogs: Positive WriterMake a Living Writing, and The Writers [Inner] Journey. They're now on my RSS feed. Expect at least one or two articles from these sources to pop up in the round-ups in the next month.

The Renegade Writer is a more freelance-based blog, with a style similar to Write to Done. Its quality got it onto the top ten.

Now, I can't really say a lot about Live Write Thrive. I haven't read enough articles from it, so I have no idea of its general leanings and such, so for me, it's a surprise. Maybe I should keep a better eye on it.

But for me, the most surprising choice for me is Moody Writing. To be honest, I think I dropped it from my RSS feed at one point. I think it's because at one point, its style and content began feeling recycled. This happened to a favorite blog of mine, which I think got a few nominations but didn't make the final cut. However, I have read a few great articles, so I can't say the blogger doesn't deserve the honors. Maybe I'm wrong.

Now, it's time for me to start dreaming for next round. If I write awesome enough articles, maybe I'll be in the running.

YA Highway: Awareness Of Language:

I'll just talk about the second-to-last paragraph.

When a character uses causal or playful insults that can be interpreted as offensive, the author enters a zone where it's unclear whatever they're accepting or condemning such language.

For example, having characters throwing around homophobic phrases like "that's so gay", and even stronger.
I think context is key. If an antagonistic character is using such language, the author can easily get away with that, because the source of such dialogue is negative. On the other hand, if a more sympathetic character uses such language in a causal context, it gets iffier. Should the author try to comment on it through another character, and risk being all cheesy about it?

Yet, if the receiver of the insult or another character on the scene is visibly hurt, it becomes a subtle condemnation again.

Yet, this is all hypothetical. Can someone bring a concrete example onto the stage?

AndiLit: The Danger of the Incestuous Writing Community:

Let me just say that some of the blogs with devoutly Christian writers are interesting. Jeff Goin's blog, Novel Rocket, The Writer's Alley, and then AndiLit. They all bring a fresh perspective to the table, religiously influenced or not.

Andi's story in this post illustrates why it's important to be open minded. As a writer, you're going to be meeting a lot of different people, and writing a diversity of characters. No matter how deviant someone is (as long as they're not harming other people), it's important to acknowledge that people can have a variety of ways of living. You got to accept it.

Some of what is describe in the main post and in the comment shows why Christianity as a religion sometimes get a bad rap. Some people use it to be close minded, and this leads to a lot of pain.
So remember: don't box yourself into a group.

terribleminds: A Short Rant On The "You Can't Teach Writing" Meme:

I have little to say about this, since Chuck Wendig pretty much covered all the bases in his profanity-laden post. You can teach writing. Natural talent is useless without some craft.

But let me just point out one paragraph that you should take away, if you decide not to read this: writing teachers aren't the only source of lessons. You can learn from editors, fellow writers, beta readers, and a whole bunch of other people. You can also learn from books and real life.

That's the nature of writing. It's influenced by everything near you. Craft helps you refine all of that into effective art.

Writer's Update: Manifestation Files

I'm also resuming work on Manifestation Files. That is all.

Have a nice weekend!

Is YA Only a Sales Label?

At the writer's forum I'm at, YA tends to be a common topic of discussion. It's a polarizing topic, on different fronts, whatever it's of personal taste ("I generally don't like teenage protagonists") or on a more basic level ("I'm opposed to the division of fiction into demographics.").

The latter's worth discussing.

The context

The discussion started with the line: "It's less than an actual genre and more of a marketing ploy."

The first part I agree with. This was a similar topic brought up awhile back, but with New Adult. It's a category, not a genre. I was one of the people who made a racket when the administrator of TV Tropes attempted to tack the name "Genre" onto the "Shonen" page.

Well, there were two people who had a brief debate about whatever this is better or not.

One person argued that YA and NA as categories was a step forward. Instead of having books being classified based on certain rules (and therefore have the awkward situation of where to put "space elves" and other genre benders), using broad strokes allowed flexibility, and therefore less restriction than when you put a book into the Fantasy section.

The person who made the initial statement argued that those categories are a step backwards. Instead of classifying books as "what they are", it's classifying them by "who's supposed to be reading them".

They had a brief exchange which they verbalize their different opinions on which is better.

The point of this post

That argument isn't the main point.

The main point is whatever YA actually exists.

Chihuahua Zero's Resolutions for 2013

I used the Kindle Fire I got for Christmas to compose a long list of goals for 2013. A long list, indeed.

It's all in the name of ACCOUNTABILITY!

My conclusion in Tuesday's post is nothing to this bare-bones baby.

2012 was lacking compared to 2011, a year of milestones for me, but by pumping more motivation into my daily routine and constructing efficient systems, I will certainly achieve more than what I have gotten done in the previous two years.

I'll be revisiting in December. The end of the year might seem a long way off, but experience shows me that time can go by faster than expected.

Let's Take a Peek into the Literary Crystal Ball

Hello, fellow readers and writers, it's 2013. The world hasn't ended, and it won't. Not on our watch.

But what about literary predictions?

I'll take out the crystal ball. Be warned, all of the following is based on loose assumptions, and not all of them should come true--unless I'm really that good.

But I'm not an expert at predictions. Even the greatest economists get it wrong.