Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Seeking Shallow Advice about Short Hair

In the next couple weeks, I am making a "drastic" change. It's not very serious, but I'm freaking out a bit. See, I'm cutting off most of my hair, down to something that might be called "boy short". (Is there a technical term? I don't know!)

Currently, my hair hangs a foot past my earlobes - when I let it hang. It's rather curly and very thick, so my typical hair routine involved a ponytail for running, and a twisted bun for everyday life. I very occasionally comb it.

Maybe my laziness stems from the fact that as a kid, I had perfectly straight blond hair, no fuss to take care of. It grew more brown as I got older, and then in grade 5 it turned into a bush. Puberty apparently decided I ought to have my paternal aunt's hair instead of my mom's. *shakes head*

<- me at about 10 (the blur is my little sister)

I was definitely pissed when my hair changed, but I've had plenty of time now to get used to it and to figure out what works (ponytails, bobby pins and for the love of god never take a normal brush to it when dry).

Now, taking care of my hair is EASY and I LIKE my hair. I'm not interested in a new hairstyle that requires work or effort, because I have zero to spare in the morning.

That's what it comes down to: while I'm very excited for this new-and-possibly-amazing thing, I'm worried I'll be unhappy with it, that it will be a hassle, or that it will just plain bug me. (And then I'll be stuck with it as it grows out).

But it's been on my imaginary bucket list for a while to try short hair, and it's something I want to try sooner rather than later in case I love it. If not now - while I'm 19 and in school - then when?

So I ask: Have you done this before? Do you have suggestions for EASY to care for short hairstyles? Or tips for how not to freak out if this ends badly?

I'll check back in after the cut is done and we can celebrate/commiserate together.

P.S. The foot or so of hair that I cut off in a ponytail will be donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. I've cut off 8 inches before with intent to donate, but this time it's just a nice side effect.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Library: My Home Away from Home

If I was writing a speech about first year, Oscar-thank-you-style (because, well, it feels like making it through has been a pretty big accomplishment), there would be a section where I'd thank the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. It would be a long section, because KFPL was something of a rock for me in a year full of changes.

Before I even moved to here in September, I looked up how to get a library card as a non-local university student. Thankfully, it was free and easy. So after classes ended on the first day of school, I headed off the library.

When I walked into the building, immediately this sense of belonging descended on me. I've always felt at home in libraries, but this one was special - it was going to be my new home library. When I finally had my card in hand, I couldn't keep the grin off my face. 

The first book I ever checked out of KFPL was a old favourite, The Queen of Attolia. I walked back to residence unable to close it, flipping through to my favourite parts, laughing to myself at Eugenides' antics. I kept QoA with me for most of that first week, and it grounded me during a time where everything else was new and different.

I smuggled Mercedes Lackey's Home from the Sea into my first midterm so I could return it afterwards without detouring back to residence. That was the first time I walked to the library in the dark - but hardly the last. By now I know every step by heart.

But I didn't just walk to the library. Without a bike or access to a car this year, I got into the habit of literally running my errands, which more often than not included a trip to drop off or pick up books. (yes, even in the middle of winter with ice on the ground - I wouldn't let a little thing like that get between me and a good read!)

I had just acquired Dodger when I had my first ski race weekend, so naturally I brought it along. It's a Terry Pratchett book, which for me means semi-regular outbursts of laughter. I knew I'd been accepted on the team when I burst out laughing in the middle of a quiet room and everyone just shrugged knowingly.

Now I have an email saying my membership expires on May 1st. I want so badly to rush over there and renew it, but I don't have proof of address for my new apartment yet. KFPL will have to wait until June, when I'm back in town (and living entirely on my own for ten weeks!)

Until then, I'll enjoy being home, seeing my family, relaxing - and using the local library I practically grew up in.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: Ever, by Jessa Russo

(This is part of the review blog tour for EVER, and my first ever [get it?] book review on this blog. Enjoy!)

Seventeen-year-old Ever’s love life has been on hold for the past two years. She’s secretly in love with her best friend Frankie, and he’s completely oblivious.

Of course, it doesn't help that he’s dead, and waking up to his ghost every day has made moving on nearly impossible.

Frustrated and desperate for something real, Ever finds herself falling for her hot new neighbor Toby. His relaxed confidence is irresistible, and not just Ever knows it. But falling for Toby comes with a price that throws Ever’s life into a whirlwind of chaos and drama. More than hearts are on the line, and more than Ever will suffer.

Some girls lose their hearts to love.

Some girls lose their minds.

Ever Van Ruysdael could lose her soul.


Cover: Gorgeous (and relevant!)

One sentence review: EVER is cliche, but cute, with characters so real they practically breathe, and a fantastic cliffhanger ending.

This book is for you if:
  • You like your paranormal super real & modern.
  • You enjoy paranormal romance.
  • You want love triangles that don't have an immediately obvious "winner".

This book isn't for you if:
  • You don't want to see any sexytimes or hear any swearing (minor, and I didn't mind, but fair warning).
  • You would be triggered by slut-shaming and/or major character death (accidental).
  • You have had it with boys "trying to do what's best" for the main character but who keep her in the dark.

Full review:
I have to admit, the premise of this book kind of turned me off to begin with. Seriously tragic dead boy, hot mysterious older new neighbour - there are a lot of cliches. But Jessa wasn't afraid to poke fun at them, and she worked in a couple of very nice digs at Twilight to lighten the mood.

Still, the opening of EVER wasn't my favourite. Ever comes across as a lot older than her seventeen years - probably because she's moping around, weighed down by tragedy. I honestly didn't like her that much - she seemed to be a vessel full of longing and angst and not much else.

But when things picked up with a new love interest, I started to change my mind. Ever felt so real and so seventeen - it was an amazing about-face. Although there were moments where I wanted to yell advice at her, those were mostly followed by laughing at myself when I remembered all the silly ways I've reacted to boys and complicated feelings - even just in the last few months!

Throughout the whole book, Ever and her friends felt like they could be teenagers living next door to me (well, if I lived in LA). They forgot their cell phones, assumed google would know everything, and had far from picture perfect families.

At times, EVER seemed to go in circles, and occasionally it almost felt like the first half of a book. But the ending was priceless, and left me with high hopes for the sequel, EVADE (coming in May).

In the mean time, Jessa Russo is running a giveaway of EVER and EVADE on her website. Check it out!

Jessa Russo's website

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Setting my WIP Aside

Camp NaNoWriMo started yesterday, and with it a new 'era' in my writing. For almost three years, my main WIP has been a YA gladiator novel called We Who Are About To Die. But as of yesterday, I have set WWAATD aside.

It's a decision I'm not exactly happy about, but it's one I've been considering for a while. See, I've put a lot of time and effort into WWAATD (it's been majorly rewritten 3 times), and I've loved the story and the characters very dearly (it was my second novel). But.

It's a story centred around a few teenage gladiators, living under a king who sacrifices people in hopes of extending his own life. Teenagers... quasi-dystopia... killing... arenas - the market for that seems pretty glutted right now (and it will get worse before it gets better). I want to take WWAATD all the way - when it has a decent shot of not being dismissed outright.

Besides, WWAATD is far from ready. It needs a ton more time and effort, and I'm almost too in love with the ideal of what it could be to be able to get it there. I need to practice on something I love a little less first.

I'll miss WWAATD, and the pig-headed MC Renata, but neither will entirely disappear from my head. Ideas will percolate, and one day I will pick them back up. Having first seen the light of day during NaNoWriMo 2013, We Who Are About To Die now goes to sleep. In a few years, I hope to be able to wake it up and treat it as well as it deserves.

For now, for April's CampNaNoWriMo, I'm in love with a new story. This isn't SNI syndrome - I've been writing bits and pieces of it for a while, trying to figure out the plot and the characters and getting a feel for the world. The title keeps changing, but for now, it's TEETH AND CLAWS.

Sara was only three when her magic-mad great-uncle committed regicide. Her entire family fled into exile rather than be stripped of their magic as the new king demanded.

When she was 10, they invested all their hopes of revenge in her - giving her the power to shapeshift into a dragon.

After coming of of age last year, Sara started an trade embargo to force the king to let her family come home, but a few weeks ago, a lone knight stumbled upon her band.

Now Sara's busy falling in love, escaping from prison, solving royal murders and playing politics. Will she remember that the most important thing is bringing her family home?

And unless I screw it up royally, I'll be using this story for my first stab at serious novel revision/polishing/querying. Because I love a lot of things about TEETH & CLAWS:
  1. It's potentially sellable (aka I'm not writing into a glut - that's kind of a motivation suck).
  2. It has a dragon (seriously, who doesn't love dragons?), and a shapeshifter, and some magic but not too much. Plus politics, rebellion and angst.
  3. I've done much better about not falling into the fantasy trap of everyone being straight, white, male etc. I've tried to gender balance the world, not just the cast, and I have lesbian and gay characters. (I don't say that to get brownie points - I'm just happy to be remedying a deficit that existed in some of my earlier stuff, including WWAATD.)
Basically, TEETH AND CLAWS is a lot of things I wish WWAATD could have been, and maybe also the best parts of WWAATD.

So here's to April, and a solid 30k!