Monthly Archives: November 2016

Gilmore Girls Tag

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Lorelai: A character who’s the rebel

Isis: My favorite rebel without a cause is Zane Garrett from the Cut and Run series. He was a rebel through and through. He had many addictions and vices and he did whatever he wanted and he dressed however he wanted.

Nicole: Sirius Black will always be my favorite rebel.

Rory: A perfectionist

Isis: I would say Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice. I get the feeling that Mr. Darcy needs to have everything in a certain sensical order or else he’ll lose his mind. He seems pretty stuck on his ways. He did have character development at the end but I’m pretty sure he’s a perfectionist. You know, Mr. Darcy and Rory would probably get along really well if they knew each other.

Nicole: I think Victor from Vicious would fit.

Luke: a kindhearted character who never fails to surprise you

Isis: Dante Quintana from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. There is no one kinder than Dante. Everything he did just made me like him more. He was beautiful in every way. Must protect at all costs.

Nicole: Auggie Pullman from Wonder is the sweetest kid.

Paris- a character who loves to be in charge

Isis: Raffe from the Angelfall trilogy loved giving orders all around since he was a big bad angel. But come on, he was ridiculous at times. I really liked seeing how much he tried to control Penryn and then completely fail. It was great.

Nicole: Peter Pan always loves to be in charge. He has to lead everyone in going to the island to their games and their battles.

Sookie and Jackson- A couple that seems natural together

Isis: Marko and Alana from Saga

Nicole: Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games series. After everything they experienced together how could they not end up together?

Lane- a character you think would always have your back

Isis: I know I could always count on Ron Weasley. He would be the perfect friend to have on any occasion. I would trust Ron with my life because he would defend and protect me without a doubt. My hero.

Nicole: Kim from If I Stay. I think she would do everything she can for her friends even if she has to try to get along with people she doesn’t like to do it.

Emily- a character who struggles with relaying their emotions effectively

Isis: Aristotle Mendoza from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. There is probably no better character for this answer. Ari is a pro at hiding his feelings. He even hides them from himself.

Nicole: Zach from Last Night I Sang to the Monster repressed every memory that would make him feel something so much that he struggled with identifying all his emotions. Even the happy ones.

Paula Anka- Favorite fictional pet

Isis: Lying Cat from Saga. I realize it’s an insult to call him a pet, but he’s amazing. I love the way he calls out everyone on their lies. I wish I had a cat like him.

Nicole: In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Ari adopts a stray dog he names Legs. I mean he’s just a dog. He doesn’t do anything special, but I love dogs.

Babette- A character that can talk too much

Isis: Hermione Granger. But I liked that about her. She always had important, intellectual things to say. I really liked the way she rambled most of the time.

Nicole: Danny from the Dragonbreath series never shuts up, but it’s funny instead of annoying.

Miss Patty- A character that always seems to know everything

Isis: I do not regret picking Hermione already. I have someone better. Colin from An Abundance of Katherines. Since Colin was a prodigy, he was pretty smart. He knew all the facts, and I actually found him incredibly endearing. I loved that aspect about him the most.

Nicole: Artemis from the Artemis Fowl series is a genius. I don’t know how his brain works.

Michel- favorite sassy character

Isis: I’ll have to go with Baz from Carry On. Granted, I was not a huge Baz fan, but he had a few sassy lines here and there. My real answer is Lucifer from the TV show Lucifer, but I thought I’d stick to books. Seriously though, no one sassier than Lucifer.

Nicole: Magnus Chase is full of sass no matter the situation he gets into.

Kirk: favorite oddball character

Isis: Skylar from the Gives Light series is such an endearing oddball. He’s usually an outsider, or at least he thinks so. He’s the main character but he always comes across that way. And I love him for it.

Nicole: Eleanor from Eleanor & Park. She doesn’t fit in, she dresses different, and she’s one of my favorites. 
Christopher- An unreliable narrator

Isis: Cadence from We Were Liars is probably THE most unreliable narrator I’ve ever read. I really liked her though. I think that’s always hard to pull off, but it worked for me.

Nicole: Melinda from Speak is unreliable because her anger blinds her into making a lot of generalizations about other people that we can’t trust.

Dean- a character you liked at first before you figured out what a douche they were

Isis: Ah, well I’m going to go with an oldie. Good old Edward Cullen. Hear me out. When I was fifteen and naive, I loved Edward. I never really saw him as anything less than perfect. But recently I reread Twilight and I hated Edward with a passion. He was frightening, sadistic, and completely obnoxious. A total douchebag, to say the least.

Nicole: This is a spoiler but Quentin from The Outliers. I was rooting for him, and he betrayed me.

Jesse- a character that you want to lovingly push into the lake

Isis: Diego from the novel Nicole and I are currently writing Summer Storms. Listen, I love Diego with all my heart, but he can do and say some things that just really get to me (even though I write them). I would really love to push him into a lake and see him almost drown since he can’t swim that well. I wouldn’t let him drown because, like I said, I do love him.

Nicole: Rose from The Vampire Academy. I love her, but she makes stupid decisions.


Logan- A cocky character with a soft side

Isis: I hate this but I’m choosing Warner from the Shatter Me trilogy. I don’t know how I feel about calling Warner cocky but he definitely puts on a facade that isn’t real. He’s a real softie underneath all those shitty layers. Or maybe he’s just shitty and it’s hard to see it cause he’s so pretty and angsty and smoldering.

Nicole: Draco Malfoy of course. He’s so arrogant, but he loves his family especially his mom.


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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz – Book Review

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“The summer was not meant for boys like me. Boys like me belonged to the rain.”

I have read this novel four times in its entirety. The audiobook narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the most beautiful things I own, and listening to it brings me a sort of indescribable peace. This is why it’s become so easy to keep revisiting this story over and over again.

I first read this novel in April 2014, and although I went in hesitant, I came out of it with one of the most wonderful discoveries of my life. This book means the world to me, and then some. This is the first book I read in which I truly saw myself in the characters.

A book starring Mexican-American characters is rare, but a book starring Mexican-American characters not stereotyped is magical. I adored that aspect the most. Being Mexican, it has always been difficult for me to see myself in any story. I never even considered the existence of novels like this, where Mexicans make up the majority of the characters in a story. And that just blew my mind.

Let me break it down for you. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe follows the story of Aristotle Mendoza, or Ari. He’s a teenage boy living in El Paso during the late 80’s. The summer arrives again, and Ari meets Dante at a community swimming pool. The two hit it off, despite Dante being a complete opposite of Ari, in his personality and looks. Their friendship becomes the focus of the novel, and their lives together and separately, closely showcase the most significant years of their adolescence. These two characters transform and develop throughout this beautiful, lyrical novel in ways unimaginable.

I loved the inclusion of the parents in this story. Ari and his mom share a sweet relationship that’s mostly composed of fun bickering, but it’s apparent how much they love each other. Dante and his dad are the same way, fighting over nothing and conspiring over everything. For years, my mom was one of my closest friend, and seeing similar relationships portrayed in this novel was fantastic. My mom actually read this book after much insistence. She read it just a few months before her passing. I remember the day she finished it. She looked at me in all seriousness and told me she loved it, and that she loved Dante the most. I cannot begin to explain how much that meant to me.

Sexuality is explored in this novel as well. Both of the main characters discuss their sexuality multiple times, in more ways than one. It is done in very realistic ways, especially during the time period it’s set in. Personally, I am open to loving any person, outside of their gender, so this resonated with me. It is incredibly important to shed light on the struggles that people who are not straight face nowadays, and have faced for years, and for that, this book is important. It teaches acceptance and love despite society’s cruelty. And it brings to life a love story like no other.

“The whole world seemed to be quiet and calm and I wanted to be the world and feel like that.”

So for these reasons, and many others, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is my favorite book. Simple as that. It still makes me laugh, cry, and remember. It is now something that constantly connects me to my mother, to my culture, to my younger self, and it is something I never want to let go.

I know this book isn’t perfect. Far from it. But there’s nothing I would change in it. I love the author, Benjamin Alire Saenz, to pieces, and I’m grateful that he wrote such an amazing, memorable story.

And every summer, especially when it’s raining, I’ll think of Ari and Dante. I’ll think of them and life will be just a little bit more bearable.

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Me, with my four copies of Ari & Dante. In English, German, Spanish, and audiobook.

Self-sabatoging your writing

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I’ve talked briefly before about having a lot of self doubt when writing, but I wanted to expand on that today. Self doubt is a normal part of the writing process. Every writer has it. Most can get pass it and continue on writing. I’m not like that.

I used to be that way. I was writing pretty consistently. I finished my first book, finished a a first draft that I co-wrote with Isis, and started a second novel by myself. I had my doubts, but I was confident that with every word I was going to get better so I pushed through them. However, that has changed.

It started when writing my second novel. I loved the original idea of it and the characters, but when I had to develop more of the plot my enthusiasm waned. I still started writing it, but it wasn’t fun anymore. It started to feel akin to torture. So I stopped writing that. I got a new idea, so I developed the characters, but, again, I stopped when it came to the plot. Anything I thought of didn’t seem that interesting or original. I didn’t want my enthusiasm to wane with this idea too, so I stopped working on this idea. The same thing happened to my next idea.

It’s not just my problems with plot that have stopped my writing. I have tried to switch to short stories using prompts as a springboard, but I quit halfway through because I didn’t like my writing. I always think it is dull, and that no one will like it. I spend time looking at writing tips hoping those would help, but then I’m constantly thinking of those when writing and think that I am writing the wrong way.

I have been also writing some background stories for the novel I’m co-writing with Isis. The information is needed for us to move on with the actual novel, but I started thinking that it’s not good and I don’t want to mess up. Especially since it’s been so long that I’ve been working on it. I don’t want to hand it over and have the reaction to it be, “Really? You spent so much time on this trash?” So I haven’t worked on it in weeks.

I have tried to set deadlines for myself to force myself to write. But it’s a repeated cycle of aiming too high with not enough time to realistically finish it, and psyching myself out with excuses. One big excuse I use is research. I always think I don’t know enough about anything, and I want to portray people, places, and things accurately. So I have to do research. The problem is I am never satisfied that I have researched enough. I have to get everything exactly right, and that, in turn, stifles my creativity. The end result is always the same. No writing gets done.

I’m not sure how to fix this problem. Even writing this has taken me three days, and I have thought many times of simply scraping it and not having a post up for this week. Does anyone else have advice on this? Or simply have this problem too? Sometimes just relating to another person can help.

 

 

From Fiction to Non-Fiction

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This year, I’m taking my first non-fiction class ever. I’m currently on my senior year of college toward my English degree, and so when I had to pick between non-fiction and poetry to fill my creative writing requirement, I chose non-fiction. I was dreading that class simply because I thought I knew everything there was to know about non-fiction, and I didn’t want anything to do with it. Still, I figured it would be much easier to tackle than poetry. Regardless of my motivation, I’m so glad I discovered the beauty of non-fiction.

Most of my writing life has been dedicated to writing fiction stories. I started with fiction novels and slowly drifted to short stories. Both of these gave me so much satisfaction. I learned to craft my own stories, create my own characters, maintain consistencies, and manage plots. There are by far many fiction writing tools, and it’s been a long and winding road to try to learn them all. I thought the switch to non-fiction creative writing would be a disaster, but it has been an incredible learning experience so far.

The first assumption I had wrong when it came to non-fiction writing is that everything is strong hard facts, centered in the truth and nothing but the truth. I pictured journalism whenever I thought of non-fiction, and that’s just not my cup of tea. However, I’ve come to learn that there’s a thin line (highly debated) between what is essentially true in non-fiction, and what isn’t. I learned that many essayist do happen to alter details or slightly bend the truth when it’s most convenient on their essays/memoirs. And that was liberating.

This is not to say I’ve used this approach a lot. I tend to stick to the truth, as I remember it, of course. In the course of the semester, I’ve written two fiction stories, and about ten non-fiction essays. I’ve measured my improvement in the latter because of all the work I’ve done, and I’ve created pieces that I’m proud of. Although, I wouldn’t be willing to share many of my essays as easily as I share my short stories. That’s something I still have to work on. But through my journey in non-fiction, I’ve learned that I have more to offer when it comes to writing. I have written about so many things, people, experiences that I never would have written about had I not taken this class. Some of these essays have been difficult to write, but they ended up being some of my favorites.

I still adore fiction writing. It’s my first love. I will always want to write fiction because I have too many fictional characters living in my head that need to be written down. But I’m going to focus on essays as well, and maybe someday, a long memoir. The thing about non-fiction is that there aren’t that many rules. Sure, there are different forms and presentations and tools, same as with fiction, but it’s so interesting playing with my own reality, however twisted it has become over the years. Memories change, and I write them as I remember them. And every time I write them down, I can let go of them a little bit. Sometimes, that’s necessary.