This month’s nonfiction read is a fascinating account of going undercover in the secretive and oppressive dictatorship of North Korea. Suki Kim is a Korean-American journalist who infiltrated a North Korean university as a teacher, during the reign of Kim Jong-il in 2011. Here is some info I found the most interesting in her book:
Today is my birthday!! Woooo! “Growing up” is lame and I refuse to do it, but birthdays are awesome. To celebrate turning the big three-oh, I decided to write 30 one-line stories. Because… challenge? Novelty? Masochism?? It was a lot harder than expected. But also fun. Some are silly and some are serious. Some have only a few words and some make abundant use of commas. I hereby present: Noel’s Thirty for Thirty~
I don’t like the term “Strong Female Character.”
That does not mean I prefer weak female characters. This is not a black and white world in which you either swing swords with swagger or cower in a corner. There’s a vast spectrum in between.
The reason I can’t stand the term “strong female characters” is because women described that way are usually one-dimensional, monotone cutouts of what the writer thinks a strong woman is. Often she’s a woman who can shoot a gun or throw a punch, and that’s enough. She never cries or feels uncertain or has any internal struggle whatsoever, unless of course it’s just for a minute to get the plot going and then she knows exactly how to deal with it. (Probably by shooting a gun.)
Pretty much the second my post about waiting for agent responses hit your screens last month, rejections hit my inbox. You know that saying, “It’s raining cats and dogs?” For me, it was raining No’s and Also No’s.
I took it hard – harder than I should have for someone who’s been through this before with another novel. The reason is something I’m going to confess to you even though it casts me in an unflattering light, because… I don’t know, there’s just something about you, random internet stranger, that makes me feel like I can open up to you.
Reading, right? It’s crazy!! The psychic delivery of entire worlds from one head to another, via squiggly little marks? Ri-donk-ulous. Since most of you visiting this blog are writers, and thus readers as well, I decided to make this month’s nonfiction book about something we all relate to.
Ironically, I listened to this on audiobook instead of reading it, because sometimes I like to break the rules. Excuse me while I don some cool sunglasses and jump into a moving helicopter.
… I’m back. Anyway, I’ll be citing the following tidbits with time-markers instead of pages. Alright, let’s read about reading!
1. The first and best choice is to hide. A potted plant is a good choice. Use the plant as coverage while you sneak to a secure area. If the person looks at you, freeze. This tactic has been proven successful by many cartoons.
2. If the person has already spotted you, make loud noises and wave your arms. This will make you appear threatening. This will also work if the person is a bobcat.
3. If the person does not run away and instead asks you annoying questions like, “Why are you yelling and waving your arms,” then play dead. Cover your head to protect against annoying questions about why you are on the floor. This will also work if the person is a bear.
4. Should the person continue speaking to you, grab your nearest emergency pole vault and leap over them. Make sure your emergency pole vault is always handy. That point cannot be stressed enough.
5. If you have irresponsibly left your pole vault at home, stay silent as they talk to you but do not break eye contact. DO NOT BREAK EYE CONTACT. This will unnerve them to the point of leaving.
When performed correctly, the above tactics will free you of everyone you have never wanted to talk to. Best of luck, fellow hermits!
This is a tough subject. A meaty subject. A big ol’ gristly steak of a subject that takes a lot of chewing and will not be thoroughly digested within a single blog post, but let’s dig our teeth in, shall we?
As writers, our characters probably look, act, and live like people we’re used to. If you’re white and straight, your characters are probably white and straight, because that’s what you know, and writing someone black or gay or Muslim or in a wheelchair takes some extra thought.
But here’s a really cool thing: the world is a far more interesting place than just white and straight (and male, and Christian, and able-bodied, etc etc), and there should be stories to reflect that. Because all stories deserve to be told. As citizens of the earth we have a duty to represent more than just our limited bubbles.
Still playing the query waiting game. My thumbs have become quite good at twiddling. I could be a competitive thumb-twiddling champion.
Six weeks have passed since I sent this book’s first query. Alas, no word yet. I’m used to this from when I queried my previous novel, so I know it’s normal, but I’m extra-excited about this book, and that first agent in particular who was my tippyest-top choice. Unfortunately, I may have to consider that one a rejection. Agencies with a “no reply = no” policy are tough for authors when you can’t help wondering if your query got buried in their inbox, or worse, if it got eaten by email gremlins before it even arrived. A reply of any kind is a relief. But after six weeks, I’ve decided it’s time to send out another batch.
Several months ago I broached the topic of OCD with a nonfiction read about hoarding. Because OCD is such a personal subject to me, I decided to devote this month’s nonfiction more fully to the illness with a read of David Adam’s “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought.”
For the average, non-ill person, it’s normal to obsess now and then. It’s normal to have a senseless fear (clown in the closet?), a sudden and unsettling urge that does not fit with who we are (swerve into traffic, perhaps?) or a good-luck practice not founded on reality (certainly no one believes that knocking on wood actually works, but… just in case.) It’s normal to be picky about your books lining up straight or to lose sleep one night as a worry goes round and round in your head like a circling predator. This is not OCD.
I just need to make it through this party. I just need to make it through this party and then I can cry.
Alright. I can do this. Just fix a smile on my face and no one will ever know. Say cheese! Now hold it. Hoooold it. Damn, the corners are twitching. My cheeks hurt. I probably look like I’m snarling. As though I’m about to eat someone just to get out of here.