Sunday, April 28, 2013

Destination YA: Chicago

When I think of Chicago, I think of deep-dish pizza, Lake Michigan, the Sears Tower and the bean. I think of Oprah, windy politicians and the chilly breeze that sweeps in from the lake. I think of the times I saw U2 at Soldier Field. And after (finally!) diving into Divergent last fall, I also think of the novelized version of the city (or in the case of Divergent, the dystopian version). Chicago is right up I65 for me—four hours to Lake Shore Drive, outrageous parking fees and general big city fun. For me it’s not a vacation destination or a dream destination (as I’ve been there many times) but a realistic, within-my-budget, weekend away destination. Here are some YA books that will take you there:

Divergent/Insurgent/Allegiant: Veronica Roth
In this series, Chicago is a torn-apart, worn-down city where Tris and Four live. Its shadow remains but the city itself is barely recognizable. Every now and then, Roth will provide a well-known visual of Chicago usually when Tris is outside her faction's boundaries, and the reader is reminded the truly unpredictable nature of the future. Even though the story itself could be based in any big city, I think setting it in Chicago added a sense of Midwestern reality, helping offset the futuristic feel with a down-to-earth sensibility. With the final book in the trilogy out this October and the Divergent movie coming next year (see Roth’s post on visiting the set here), I imagine we will only be hearing more about this amazing trilogy in the months to come.

Time Between Us: Tamara Ireland Stone
It’s 1995 in Chicago when Anna and Bennett meet in the snow and ice. On the outside, their romance seems simple and nostalgic, much like the version of Chicago that the reader sees in this story. Chicago is portrayed through Anna’s parents’ bookshop, their suburban-type home and her typical high school. It’s a wholesome Chicago, which only begins to break as the truth about Bennett’s time-traveling abilities is revealed. For Anna, Chicago is home, but it’s also a net under which she’s trapped. Will she have the courage to escape, or will she wait forever to see if Bennett manages to travel back to her windy city?

Will Grayson, Will Grayson: John Green & David Levithan
Chicago is a city of coincidence when Will Grayson meets Will Grayson on one snowy night downtown. Green and Levithan weave together the story of two teens, each with their own distinct voice, through an examination of relationships. The story has a suburban, could-happen-anywhere feel but it also highlights the quirkiness of Chicago when the Wills meet in an adult bookstore. Green and Levithan have many outstanding books to each of their respective names, but such an accomplishment as this co-authored novel only makes me wish they will someday meet again, maybe in Chicago.

A few more Chicago-centric adventures:
XVI: Julia Karr
Perfect Chemistry: Simone Elkeles
Cold Fury:  T.M. Goeglein

Hope the wind stays away!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Experiencing Re-Inspiration

This week has been rough. It’s been a tough one for Boston, Texas and many places and people around the country and world. Though mine was to a lesser degree, I am exhausted, un-caffeinated and blocked in a way which I refuse to define as writer’s block. Mainly because I’ve had one of my best writing weeks in a while, but the effort has seemingly taken it out of me.

The WIP I’ve been working with for years (the idea originally came to me in a dream in 2009) has changed, again. After numerous mutations and plot shifts, I wrote the entire first draft in NaNoWriMo 2012 (I’d just had bits and pieces until that point). The accomplishment of having one whole draft (no matter how much editing it needed) was a great one for me.

I intended to finish the draft by 2013, but the holidays got in the way (as they tend to). Then I resolved (on New Year’s, how conventional) to complete the draft by July. However, I became trapped in the ending; I couldn’t figure out what to do with it, I didn’t like any of my ideas, and I was overcome. The draft, my story was unintentionally set aside.

Then, one week ago, inspiration struck. I was at work and oddly enough, a sentence popped into my head. It must have jumped from one of the books I was surrounded by because surely it didn’t come from my own mind. I jotted notes furiously and by the time I got home that night, I was re-inspired to dive back in.

So dive I did. In a week, I re-wrote the plot (again), moved the scene that was the inciting incident to the climax (it works better this way, I promise) and created something new, with the same concept and cast of characters. I’m surprised by both how much I wrote in November that I will still be using, and how much will be backlogged, probably not to be re-visited for some time, if ever.

This week, I’ve been confused, excited and obsessive (my journal tends to go with me where I go, for when I’m thinking of cupcakes or owls or lacy things and inspiration strikes). I’ve been writing well and yet been over-worked (two jobs will take it out of you). And I’ve come to realize that my resolution of having a whole draft by mid-year is still possible, yet likely improbable.

But, that’s writing. Goals may go unfulfilled and deadlines may pass, but as long as I keep writing, someday they will be met. Someday I will accomplish what I strive for. (Someday soon, hopefully.)

So dear all ye who have also had a tough week, for whatever reason, to whatever degree: stay strong, keep calm and write on. Cheers.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

MORE Teen Books-to-Movies 2013 & Beyond

The quest to discover the next great teen book-to-movie blockbuster continues! Last October I discussed five movies, some which have since been released and some which are still months away from gracing the screen. But five movies is barely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to YA books that are being made into movies, especially if we consider those in development. However these five teen flicks are more of a sure thing and will be coming to a theater near you soon(ish)!   

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Release Date: August 7, 2013                      Status: Post-Production
In order to restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece and to stop an ancient evil from rising.
Why I’m Excited:
Okay, so maybe excited isn’t the right word for my feelings toward this movie. Curious and intrigued would be better descriptions since I was underwhelmed with the movie version of Lightening Thief. Even though I’m surprised Sea of Monsters got the green light, I enjoyed the first one enough to continue on. Also, I adore that Nathan Fillion is playing Hermes!
*My Viewing Choice: Redbox

Catching Fire
Release Date: November 22, 2013            Status: Post-Production
Katniss and Peeta are dethroned from their respective victory riches and are put back into the arena for the most climatic and menacing of the Hunger Games, known as the Quarter Quell.
Why I’m Excited:
Because the first movie didn’t disappoint at all (for me). I’m thrilled/anxious/waiting impatiently for the sequel, and still wishing it wasn’t due out 7 months from now (20 months after Hunger Games was released!). I’m excited for the hype of the Quarter Quell, the beginnings of the revolution and more of the Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle. But seriously, the Harry Potter movies only got better as they progressed so I’m wishing/hoping/praying the same will be true for Hunger Games.
My Viewing Choice: 3D Theater

The Book Thief
Release Date: January 17, 2014                  Status: Filming
While subjected to the horrors of WWII Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refuge is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.
Why I’m Excited:
Because the book is narrated by Death, and I’m curious to see how that is translated to the big screen. It has the potential to be masterful, eerie yet intriguing. In my imagination, a movie version of this book would be a cross between Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and Scorsese’s Hugo, which I can only hope will be close to the truth. It should be timeless yet imaginative.
My Viewing Choice: Matinee or Budget Theater

Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters
Release Date: February 14, 2014               Status: Pre-production
Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, half human/vampire, guardians of the Moroi, peaceful, mortal vampires living discretely within our world. Her legacy is to protect the Moroi from bloodthirsty, immortal Vampires, the Strigoi. This is her story.
Why I’m Excited:
Because even though vampires may be passé, I’m anxious to see how they will be portrayed in this movie and who is willing to take the risk in the post-Twilight scene. This series is quite popular, and the movie version has potential depending on the trailer and marketing. It could be a cult classic, or it could fall by the wayside (like, say, Beautiful Creatures).
My Viewing Choice: Redbox

The Maze Runner
Release Date: February 14, 2014               Status: Pre-production
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, young Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape.
Why I’m Excited:
Because it’s a dystopian book that I devoured, and I’m glad to have discovered that it’s nearing production! Full of mystery, the book was unputdownable for me and I’m especially glad that the author James Dashner is one of the screenplay writers. However, I am curious in regards to its release date, which is just a month before another teen dystopian book-turned-movie, Divergent. There may be a showdown heading our way.
My Viewing Choice: Theater

*Even though I would love to see all of these in theaters, movie ticket prices don’t coincide with my budget. Therefore I’ve decided to add a section to give an easy describer of how important each movie is to me by how much I’m willing to spend to see it. (I should note these are the average prices I’ve come across in Indiana.)
3D Theater: $15                                        
Theater: $10
Matinee or Budget Theater: $5                                 
Redbox: $2

Please Note: The movie descriptions are courtesy of IMDB.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A YA-Inspired Adventure!

Yesterday morning I finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It’s a poignant, remarkable, cry-worthy novel to which I have already formed an attachment. The main character, Hazel Grace has miraculously lived through cancer and now has a lung/breathing problem from which she may never recover. Her plight (and the awesomeness of the book) reminded me to be grateful for my health and, I have to say, it inspired me to DO SOMETHING. I decided that this day, finally warmish albeit slightly overcast, would be spent outside somewhere in Indianapolis.

That’s right, I said Indianapolis, which just happens to be the same city where The Fault in Our Stars takes place. After wavering between the two possible outdoor activities, I chose to visit the Ruins, a piece of skyscraper which adorns Holliday Park in north central Indianapolis. Hazel Grace and her parents had a picnic at the Ruins in the book, and that’s what I wanted to do. After calling my boyfriend with the surprise and scrounging together some picnic grub, we were off down Meridian.

Somehow it was chillier and breezier a half an hour north into the city, but we still managed to enjoy our sandwiches in the shadow of the Ruins.

The sandwiches.
Then we were off exploring…

Up close and personal. These used to reside over NYC!

Perfect for pictures!

Just thinking in a tree.

Panorama time!

It may look like I'm talking to her but really I'm trying to figure out how to mimic her pose.

A great view of the Ruins as the clouds begin to open.

After walking around the sculptures and fixtures of the Ruins, we decided to grab a hiking map at the Nature Center and venture onto a trail. Unfortunately this is something Hazel Grace probably would not have been able to experience. There were just so many stairs!

Just some of the stairs.

At the bottom of the trail, along the White River, there are some awesome tree roots!

In all, it was a great day inspired by a great book!