Saturday, September 27, 2014

I woke up this morning and went to work. Then Twitter happened.

On Fridays at my job it’s bagel day! Mmmm, bagellllls. I always look forward to Friday, not because it’s the end of the work week, but because there are fresh bagels waiting for us to slather with fresh cream cheese. It’s pure Friday morning bliss. On this fine Friday, with bagel in hand, I logged into my computer to get an early start on the workday. (No seriously, there was ZERO traffic this morning! I got to work in record time and was so early I had the first pick of the bagels.)

While checking my work email, I get a text from my friends about an article written by Billboard with their take on the Jon Stewart/One Direction drama. For those of you who aren’t up to date on such important things, here’s a quick synopsis.

On Tuesday night, The Daily Show aired the following segment:—-the-next-big-terrorist-threat

Pretty funny stuff, huh? I’m a fan of The Daily Show, I nod my head in agreement with Jon Stewart more often than not, and I really like Jessica Williams and a lot of her bits for the show. When I first saw this segment, I didn’t think much of it. My interpretation of it was that it was a cheap shot for a cheap laugh, putting together a super group with things that sounded like musical groups and including the biggest pop group around.

But other people didn’t find the joke so innocuous. There were fans of the group that were offended by the implication that since One Direction has a Muslim member (Zayn Malik), stating that one member of One Direction was joining a super terrorist group clearly meant that they were referring to Zayn, and in essence, calling him a terrorist.

Now a lot of people may think the fans are stretching to make that connection, that there is no way that Jon Stewart knew who was even in One Direction, much less that one of the members was Muslim. Also, that there is no way that any of the staff writers, interns, production crew or anyone involved with the production of this segment knew enough about One Direction to maybe casually mention this detail.

Maybe the fans are stretching, but what you probably don’t realize is that there is history here. The fans have been having to defend Zayn Malik since day one. As One Direction began to rise in popularity, Zayn was bombarded on Twitter with racist tweets. After being called a terrorist one too many times and having his family attacked online as well, Zayn ended up deleting his twitter account. There was even a song recorded by an American rapper titled “Zayn Did 9/11,” which was available for download on iTunes. Not surprisingly, upon One Direction’s first arrival to the US, Zayn was detained by authorities at LAX because of his name.

But the general public doesn't know these things, nor do they care, so for the most part, no one paid attention to the fans’ rants against The Daily Show.

Until today.

For some reason, today the media decided to pick up on this story and run with it. Maybe it’s because they know writing about One Direction gets them a lot of web hits, or maybe it was a slow news day in the music industry. For whatever reason, music site after music site started publishing an article about this drama, and I made the mistake of clicking on one.

The one that my friends had sent me was from Billboard. I clicked on it thinking, “I’m sure they have an interesting take on this. It’s Billboard after all. The well-respected music trade that just reports what’s happening in music. How bad can this be?”

Well the answer to that is — pretty bad.

The article written by Erin Strecker, started off well enough, but it then devolved into the kind of condescending tone that I would expect from an online celebrity blog, not a music trade.

This is when I became invested. Here is a sampling of headlines about this drama:

The Clueless homage courtesy of One Direction Fans Can’t Even With The Daily Show Right Now

The “we decide what’s ‘racist’ you don’t” quote-tastic title from Spin: One Direction Fans Are Boycotting ‘The Daily Show’ for ‘Racism’

The “Oh the irony” strategy of The Daily Beast: One Direction Fans Attack ‘The Daily Show’ Like Terrorists to Defend Zayn

And here we have The Washington Post not stereotyping the fan base at all: ‘The Daily Show’ made a joke about One Direction, and teenage girls are losing it

As I read more and more of these articles, what bothered me wasn’t the “controversy” (which as I stated above, I didn’t pay much attention to in the first place), but the tone of these articles against the One Direction fan base — A fan base that is primarily female, a fan base that is often looked down upon in the music industry as just a bunch of teenage girls who think their favorite band is cute, a fan base that is often told they don’t know anything about music.

How can they not think that, when they open up articles and read a sentence like this:

What are the chances the Daily Show staff—or really, anyone who isn’t a 14-year-old girl—actually knows or cares about One Direction?

That line was from Complex magazine’s otherwise on-point article about the incident. And that’s just bothersome. The rest of the article isn’t saying anything that isn’t true, so why the dig in that line?

Or how about this one from Vulture:

The problem is One Direction has a Muslim member, Zayn Malik, and One Direction fans believe in their heart of hearts that the Daily Show writer who wrote that joke knows this and is not an adult who spends all his time watching the news and not listening to teenager music.

Right. Because One Direction’s music isn’t real music. It’s just teenager music. And no one with actual musical taste listens to teenager music. (Is this the right time to talk about how Grammy Award-darling Ed Sheeran defied his record company to contribute new music to One Direction’s upcoming album, Four, because he knew they’d do the songs justice? No? I’ll save that for another time then.)

And how about the article that started it all for me from Billboard?

Hopefully Jessica Williams wasn’t planning on going through Tiger Beat for cute pictures of Harry Styles at the local middle school, because she is totally not invited now.

What was the point of this condescending joke? The rest of the article would’ve been fine if this little dig at the fan base hadn’t been present. Oh, I’m sure it made people snicker, but what exactly are they snickering at? A stereotypical representation of a young female? Yeah, young girls are so funny aren’t they? Their behavior is the perfect punchline isn’t it?

But do you know what the biggest issue I had with all of this was? The majority of these articles were written by women. Let me repeat that. The majority of these articles were written by women.

Why do women in this position choose to throw passive aggressive jabs at a female fan base? Primarily one where a lot of the fan base is made up of young women at exactly the age where their confidence begins to be broken down by unattainable societal expectations? What do these female “journalists” (I’m using quotes because the tone of their articles is more in line with that of over-glorified bloggers.) get out of demeaning, not just teenagers, but any woman or man that is a fan of this group. (Because newsflash, adult women, as well as men of all ages, are also fans of One Direction.)

In short, why do we think it’s okay to belittle these fans for liking and being inspired by music that you may not like? Music is such an integral part of who we are. When we’re happy and want to dance around, we put on something fast and with a beat, when we’re sad and feeling down, we maybe opt for a more emotional song that captures our feelings and mood. Various music genres exist for various reasons, and they all serve a purpose. The song that I put on to jam to during my morning commute, is probably not the same song you jam to during your morning commute. And it shouldn’t be. Your songs are an extension of you, what you’ve been through, the memories you associate with them, the feelings they give you, who you used to be, who you are now. This is why music is so important.

And yet, here we are, with articles bashing a large group of women for their musical tastes. I think the most telling thing to me in all of this was the amount of comments I received on Twitter thanking me for saying something to a couple of these journalists. It’s sad that so many young girls feel that they don’t have a voice, and that no one is trying to see their points of view. Sadly, that’s exactly the case. To be fair, the One Direction fandom as a whole doesn’t do themselves any favors by becoming rabid whenever they feel the band is being slighted in any way, but perhaps that pack mentality is a defense mechanism against the larger issue — that no one was going to take them seriously in the first place.

I finished off my Twittering with some final thoughts for The Daily Show in hopes that they wouldn’t use this whole drama to belittle the fan base further. I tweeted:

@TheDailyShow Before you continue to miss the point, please do some research as to why this is such a hot button issue for the fanbase.

@TheDailyShow Instead of continuing the trend of condescending these fans perhaps now would be a good time to educate on why they’re upset.

And then I left them with a tidbit about Zayn to get them started.

I’m not expecting them to do anything of the sort, but I figured it was worth a shot, because ultimately, this whole issue comes down to misinterpretation and lack of respect. The fans who were upset didn’t get the joke, The Daily Show doesn’t get why the fans would be upset, the fans are being rude to The Daily Show because they feel slighted, the Daily Show is mocking the fans for it.

Personally, I think the media blew this up to what it became and turned it into a larger issue than it was. But what’s done is done. At least one journalist did manage to write a fact-based article about the incident while throwing in some jokes that weren’t condescending to the fans and then letting people decide for themselves what to make of the story. Huh, funny, that sounds like what journalism is supposed to be.

So kudos to you Meredith Blake for writing this article for the LA Times: One Direction fans outraged at ‘The Daily Show’ for terrorism joke

And on that note, I’ll wrap this up. I could obviously talk more on this subject, but I really hope I don’t have to. I’m not sure why this bothered me today. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered this in blogs and articles. Usually, I roll my eyes and click out of the site, but something about the smugness with which how all these articles were written today just rubbed me the wrong way.

Maybe it’s because as a young girl, I asked my mom to get me subscriptions to Billboard, Spin, and AP magazines, and I’d read them from front cover to back cover like they were holding all the magical secrets to my deep love of everything related to music. (I never cared for Rolling Stone because they focused too much on general pop culture and not enough on music!) Maybe it’s because the whole reason I moved to LA for college in the first place was because I wanted to work in the music industry. Maybe it’s because no matter how many times I will debate thatOK Computer is the best album of our time, and that I literally had a spiritual experience seeing Spiritualized perform live, or that yes I did fly to London for my birthday so I could see The Verve live one last time because I had a feeling they were going to break up again, no matter if I can have a legitimate conversation about music that is deemed “acceptable” by music snobs, I still have to deal with being made fun of for going to a Backstreet Boys concert and having my entire musical taste written off by others because I like them too.

And maybe I carry that frustration around, and maybe today was the day when I just got annoyed enough by it that I had to say something. The one thing I will say is that I’ve always had this idea that I needed to start a female-run music magazine. Men control the music industry, so somehow they think they have some sort of reign over it, like it’s their thing. Well, men, just remember who made The Beatles happen.

As an addendum, there is, believe it or not, a lot of great debate happening on tumblr about the issue that set this whole thing off. People have strong opinions about why they felt The Daily Show’s joke was racist, and they make some interesting points. I don’t have time to get people’s permission to post links here, but do a search. Seek and you shall find, or something…

Addendum 2: Also, I see in the comments of these articles a lot of people saying that 1D fans don’t understand satire and they didn’t comprehend the joke. This could very well be true for some of the fans, especially the younger ones, but something else to keep in mind is that 1D are a GLOBAL phenomena. Not everyone in the world knows who Jon Stewart is or what kind of show The Daily Show is, humor is different in other countries, plus there’s that whole language barrier thing….

Addendum 3: I just created this addendum to point out that apparently all my addenda need to end with ellipses…

Addendum 4: Feel free to leave comments, whether you agree or disagree. I just felt that with all these “journalists” putting their two cents in, that maybe another side needed to be written. Hopefully this all made sense…

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I Love Instagram, Now What Do I Do With It?

So I'm obsessed with Instagram.  In the world of social media, and more importantly, social media tools most beneficial to authors, I'm not quite sure Instagram would rank highly, but it is definitely the one I love best.  It makes me wonder though, how best can I utilize Instagram as a writer? I follow a few authors (i.e. John Green, Jay Asher), and aside from the occasional writer conference or school visit, there isn't anything specifically "writer" that they take pictures of.  Which is probably for the best.  Imagine an Instagram with just shots of of the words you've written, or your view out the window as you daydream about the story you want to write, but can't find the energy to actually work on. 

As someone who's been taking a picture a day for many years, I find that I try and utilize Instagram for capturing moments of my daily life.  I think ultimately, it's day-to-day life that brings about the biggest inspiration, so something that captures my interest that day, or seeing something new for the first time is picture-worthy, and maybe, down-the-line, in some distant book that I haven't dreamed up yet, that moment will worm its way in.  Who knows? 

Judging from my obscene amount of food pics (I don't really cook, so this means a lot of eating out), in the future I'll probably end up writing some crazy novel set in a restaurant or two.  Hm, maybe I can have a lead character who's a food critic, and runs a food blog, and is very unhappy because she's a picky eater and the real reason she eats in different places and tries different things is because she's just trying to like something or anything at all.

I'll leave you guys with some of my best food shots from my Instagram:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Unlimited Always Sounds Good

Sometimes you get so caught up in life and writing that you forget about silly little things like blogging.  But alas, here I am, and the first thing I thought I'd mention is this pretty big news from Amazon.

Amazon Makes Kindle Unlimited Official

Reading through a lot of user comments, it seems like this has been unveiled to very mixed reviews.  My favorite comments involve those of people stating, "They have this for free.  It's called a library."  Others are excited because it gives them access to books their libraries may not have.  Regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, the good news is that Vizcaya is included in the program so if you decided to be a subscriber, then go download it and read it!

Click here to download Vizcaya for your Kindle!

I've been doing a ton of writing as of late, but nothing that's quite ready to be shared with the world.  I will say, however, that I've been beating myself up mentally about Winter Lakes for a very long period of time, and I think I came to peace with it recently.  I've decided it doesn't have to be perfect.  That's always been the struggle between I and my beloved ghost story.  I want it to be as perfect as possible, because I feel the story deserved that, but now I'm thinking what the story needs more than perfection is to just be told.  So... I'm going to revisit it one more time, give it my blessing, and get it out there.

Hopefully Winter Lakes will be a reality by year's end, and hopefully I'll be better at blogging.  It's the same issue really.  I freak out about what I should be saying instead of just saying something.  Sigh.  So here's to me saying more something even if it's about nothing!  Or something...

I'll save my Ode to Instagram for the next update!  See, this blogging thing is going to work great from here on out.  I'm already pre-planning!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Obsessing Over Word Counts

A fellow writer friend asked me the other day how many words I average an hour when writing.  I had never really thought about it before.  I don't usually focus on my word counts until I feel a story is dragging on and I need to check myself.  But ever since she asked me the question, I've been paying more attention and ending my writing sessions with a tweet about how many words I managed during that time.

I think there are pros and cons to keeping track of your daily word counts.  On the pros side, it's great to keep a record of your progress and quantify just how much you accomplished.  Yesterday I felt I had an unproductive writing night because I was having a tough time with a scene, but when I checked my word count at the end of it, I had ended up writing 1,000 words.  Not so unproductive after all.

On the flip side, a writer should focus on quality over quantity, so instead of trying to just reach a goal of writing a lot of words, it's more important to just choose the right words and make sure you're conveying your story correctly.  Not to mention, that research is as much of the writing process as writing itself, so if you spent an hour of your allotted writing time looking up baseball terminology or the holidays on a Pagan calendar, your word count will be lower that day, but your story will be richer for it.  (Admit it, now you want to write a story of a baseball player who observes Pagan holidays thinking it'll help his stats.  Go for it!)

In truth, once inspiration kicks in, you'll be less inclined to worry about word count because you'll be too busy typing as fast as your thoughts are coming to you. Before you know it, you'll have written more than you realize.  So ultimately, go ahead and keep track, even setting some daily or weekly word count goals for yourself if you like, but don't freak out if you don't hit them.  Just write every day and use those writer block moments to do research for your story!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writing Clothes

Yesterday I accompanied my friend to a cute clothing store down in El Segundo.  She needed a dress for a last minute club invite, and I was more than happy to get out of the office for a lunch adventure.  The entire time I was in there, all I kept thinking was, "Which one of my characters would wear these adorable clothes?!"  There were so many cute dresses, fun patterns, and sassy accessories that I knew at least one of my girls in Winter Lakes would have had a field day in there.

But then I think about the struggle of describing a character's attire when writing.  I remember in my fan fiction days receiving a comment from a reader who complained that she hated when writers described what characters wore.  This seems to be a common sentiment, even in critique groups where other writers shake their heads when people spend too much time talking about how their protagonist wore a leather jacket with his faded Levi's and steel-tipped motorcycle boots.  I've always thought the old adage of "the clothes make the man" rang true, especially in fiction where what someone wears could tell you just about everything you need to know about them. But apparently this isn't the case, and usually the description feels trivial and ends up making the reader disinterested.

During a crit group meeting, I was given a great suggestion on intertwining clothing into a scene so that it revealed mood and action.  So I went from a sentence like this:

He stood behind the country club in his black T-shirt.
To this:

He tugged the bottom of his black T-shirt that had become stuck to his skin from the humidity. 

With the adjustment, not only have I told you what he's wearing, but I've also made the sentence active and gave you a sense of the atmosphere.  Now I'm going to try to do the same with the inspiration I got from the clothes at this store!

If you have any other great tips for writing clothes, share it in my comments!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Like Subway, But With Pizza!

Today was a fun food adventure day.  My friend and I headed to this new pizza place called Pizza Rev for lunch.  We didn't know what to expect, but it turns out the place is like Subway.  Only instead of a sandwich, you get a pizza!  You pick your sauce, then move down the line and start picking your toppings, and the best part is that all the pizzas are one price.  So if you want to get a pizza with pepperoni, meatball, sausage, bacon, peppers, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and buffalo chicken on it, it's the same price as your friend's who got a plain pizza with cheese and sauce.  I went with a plain red sauce, cheese, pepperoni, half Italian sausage, half sweet sausage, tomatoes, and garlic.  It. tasted. amazing!  And it looked good too.  Check it out!
Needless to say, I highly recommend.

Speaking of great food, over the weekend, the roomies and I hit up the LA County Fair.  We were greeted with booths upon booths of absolutely ridiculous food items that were either a) fried or b) wrapped in bacon.  We witnessed a man eating fried watermelon, a woman eating a fried Klondike bar, and a sign for such apparently delectable items as fried upside down pineapple cake and fried bacon wrapped shrimp.  The most amazing one I saw, however, was the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe.  No, I didn't try it, but our friend did try the Krispy Kreme Double Cheeseburger and gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.  I, however, stuck with my favorite food group...
It's like the fair knew I was coming and put this booth up just for me.  French fries = food of the gods.On the writing front, Winter Lakes book 2 is coming along swimmingly.  It's actually freaking me out how well it's coming along.  It's in a massive stream of consciousness state at the moment, but once it's done I can go through and edit it into a discernible story ready for reader consumption.  I feel bad that I haven't shared any of it yet, so I'll give you guys a random line I wrote last night.  I'll just close my eyes, point at the screen, and see where it lands:

They didn’t want to be here in this strange world, trapped against their will.

Intrigued?  You should be!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Contemplating POVs in the City of Angels

Guess who's back in LA?  In a whirlwind of events that occurred in the past three to four months, I've found myself back on the West Coast, and I couldn't be happier about it.  If you had asked me in July if I'd be back here and trying to make things happen, I would've laughed.  But life is funny and so here I am!  I don't know why, I don't know what's in store, but I know that I'm ready for this fun adventure.

The most important thing about this move is that it's helping me immensely with my Winter Lakes writing.  That's something else I never could've predicted.  I've been steadily writing and really seeing it move in the direction I wanted.  I haven't been this inspired in awhile so I'm running with it.  Winter Lakes!

Speaking of the Winter Lakes journey, I received great feedback from an agent on it!  She liked the first 15 pages I sent, but ultimately passed on it.  However, she did give me amazing and detailed feedback, which is a first.  Usually an agent just sends a form rejection back, so the fact that she took the time to really tell me what worked for her and what didn't is a huge deal.  I seriously can't thank her enough.  What she ultimately had a problem with is something that's a unique issue for this story.  As you guys who have been with the story since the beginning know, the story is told from multiple POVs.  This is something that is generally frowned upon or makes agents and editors roll their eyes.  Which makes me ask: Do multiple POVs really turn you off to a story?  And if so, how many POVs is too many?  I know what people "think" the right answer is because we've all been told to not do it, but in the practical sense, have you ever stopped reading a story because it was told from 3-4 people's points of view?

Also, is this a YA thing?  Because I feel that YA has so many more "rules" than general literary fiction, and I personally don't care for any of them.  I'm a fan of telling your story the way it needs to be told.  That certainly doesn't mean you just write something and throw it out there, but I think if you know, after revisiting and rewriting and reevaluating the story you're telling, that the way you've written it is the way the story works, then you should stand by it.  At least to a certain extent.

On that note, I'll leave you guys with a Vine of one of our first adventures in LA.  This is why you can't take me and my friends anywhere.