WIPpet Wednesday: Cannonball (The Journal Pt. 2)

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Happy Hump Day!

WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP (Work in Progress). The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. For example, today I have 8 paragraphs, for the month of August (can you tell that I’m tired?)

Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

My current WIP is titled Together We Will Live Forever (extremely tentative). Olivia is a neuroscience grad student and an aspiring artist. Matt works at the art gallery and lives with his daughter, Zelda.

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This scene follows shortly after last week‘s: While babysitting Zelda, Olivia finds Matt’s journal in his closet. Because he is a private person, and Olivia doesn’t know how to ask him about his past, she convinces herself to take a peek. Matt catches her redhanded. They argue and say some hurtful stuff. This is the last bit of their argument:

There is that point in the middle of the argument when you have to make a decision. You are a cannonball shooting into the sky, and the smart thing to do is to quit while you’re ahead, concede victory, apologize. And it’s hard because when you’re a cannonball trying to turn yourself around in mid-air, you got to defy the laws of physics to slow yourself down.

But you don’t do that, because it’s damn hard to defy physics. You want to keep going, because of all that pent-up energy, all that momentum, all that hurt that you want to fling back at the other person. Even when you know that if you keep going, it’s going to crash and decimate everything you’ve ever built.

Olivia knows that she should shut her trap and walk out of the room, she knows she needs to take the words and stuff them back into her big fat mouth, because heck, it’s probably not even half true anyway.

But those words, they slide so easy off her tongue.

You see, when you are a cannonball, you don’t stop.

“You know your problem, Matt?” She says. “You don’t trust people. How can you have meaningful relationships with anyone-”

No,” He says. It’s the first time that his voice rises. The silence that follows can cut string.

“I just don’t trust you.” He says.

*Mike drop*

OK guys, confession time: This scene is kinda/semi inspired by true experience. Back in the high school days, I had a secret blog that my friend stumbled upon. To give her credit, my blog WAS a public blog, it’s just that no one was reading it, so I thought that it was “secret” and treated it like a diary. (Lesson learned there.) Anyway, when I found out that she read it, I flipped out on her, she moved to a different lunch table, and we didn’t talk that summer.

To give this story a happy-ish ending: It was super awkward at first but we did go back to being friends. We never talked about that blog again.

Have you ever stumbled upon someone else’s journal or diary? What would you do if you did?

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Let’s Chat! Audiobooks

Hello everyone!

HAPPY SOLAR ECLIPSE DAY to those of you who are in North America!!! Did you see it!?

I didn’t, because I was trapped away in a windowless box (ie. work), but I got to see it on a small corner of my coworker’s computer screen while he was streaming it online, which counts, right?! RIGHT?! (Okay, all right, it probably doesn’t.)

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ANYWAY… Smooth not-so-smooth segue to the conversation topic for today:

Remember, back in the days, I was confessing to you guys about not reading actual, physical books for a long, long, long time?

Well, turns out that kinda is snowballing into another confession.

And this one I really, REALLY am deeply regretful about. Seriously. Please please please don’t unfollow me and leave me forever?!

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Okay. All right.

*Deep breath*

The truth is… I haven’t been reading for a while.

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… Yeah… You know, life has been so busy, with the blog and writing and work and, you know, that thing where people drag you out of your house ’cause they want you to talk to them. (Oh wait, that’s called socializing.)

So, I’ve been listening to books.

AND that is PRECISELY what we are going to be talking about today…

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Audiobooks

What I absolutely love about audiobooks:

You can listen to it while doing a bunch of other stuff. Driving, walking, cleaning, and crafting are my top picks, AND, if you can multi-task better than I can, grocery shopping, pilates, and [insert slightly mindful activity here]. No longer do you gotta choose between a clean apartment AND catching up on your reading goals… YOU CAN HAVE BOTH!!

It makes doing boring stuff way more fun. Let’s face it, I’m not a morning person. I dread the sound of the alarm in the morning (ugh… snooze for 5 more minutes?? Please??) BUT, now I put on an audiobook in the background while I walk my dog, cook, eat, and get dressed for the day. And if I am in the middle of a real good audiobook, I’ll be leaping up out of bed in the morning to continue listening to it. Maybe you don’t like walking, or driving, or [insert boring activity here], BUT if you put on a good audiobook, it’ll be LOADS more fun 🙂

You know that friend who doesn’t like reading? They MIGHT just like audiobooks! (My fiancé is a case in point.) Everyone processes information differently, so we each have our own preferred medium 🙂

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What I don’t like so much about audiobooks:

When the narrator doesn’t jive with you, then it will suck. I’ve had books where the performance was subpar, or I just didn’t like the narrator’s voice. And every single minute is horrible. How to avoid this?

  • If possible, listen to a sample before purchasing. If you are using Audible (who are not paying me :P), they offer a short segment which gives you a taste of what the narrator sounds like.
  • Check out the performance rating beforehand. Audible will show you the overall rating, as well as separate ratings for performance and story.

If you are as wishy-washy and day-dreamy as I am, you might just zone out during the boring parts. I might start thinking about what’s for dinner or my next blog post, and before I know it, an indeterminate amount of time has passed. Then I gotta do that awkward/time-consuming thing where I figure out how much I missed.

Truth be told, if I could choose, I would still prefer reading over listening. I’m a visual learner. I like seeing words on a page and setting the reading pace for myself: I tend to skim through boring parts and read each and every word during dramatic scenes. I like to backtrack when I feel like I missed something. And even more so, I like imagining what the character would sound like and how they would say something. Having someone read it out loud to me takes the fun out of that part.

SO… Let’s turn the table to you guys now:

How do you feel about audiobooks? Do you have any favourite audiobooks? What do you like to do while listening? Which audiobook provider do you use?

Thank you to Annie @ Annie Likes Words and Birdie @ Birdie Book Worm who wrote about audiobooks a while back! While commenting on their posts, I realized I have a lot to say on the matter, SO… I decided to write my own blog post (It’s been simmering in the back of my head for a while 🙂 )

Review: The Upside of Unrequited

9780141356112“I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back. A perfect alignment of feelings and circumstances. It’s almost unfathomable that it happens as often as it does.” 
― Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. And then there is Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Young Adult / Contemporary / 336 pages

This is such a cute love story that had me smiling from beginning to end. Note that I did listen to the audiobook (which is amazingly narrated), which means that I was walking on the street with my earphones in, smiling from ear to ear like a crazy person. It’s all good 🙂

I absolutely love the diversity in this book. Molly isn’t your typical skinny heroine who is beautiful without knowing it. She is… well, kind of fat. There aren’t that many books out there that feature fat characters, and there should be, because people come in all shapes and sizes, and everyone is worthy of a love story. Molly’s twin sister Cassie is gay, and her Korean-American girlfriend is pansexual. And Molly and Cassie have two Moms, which means that they are sperm donor babies. How awesome is that?

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Molly is such a relatable character, and I love listening to her internal dialogue. She is a shy and quiet person who thinks twice (and sometimes three or four times) before speaking. While being quiet on the outside, she is a storm of emotions on the inside, which she holds back from expressing to others. She is convinced that she will never be loved because of her appearance, and because of this, she never really put herself out there. Despite her twenty-some crushes, she never told anyone how she felt. Molly’s internal dialogue is written so convincingly that she sounds like a real person, rather than a character from a book. (Did I mention that Molly thinks and talks SO much like me?)

I love the supporting characters, who each have distinct personalities. Cassie is the opposite from Molly. She is conventionally beautiful, loud, outgoing and has plenty of “flings”. Will is that noncommittal and flirtatious guy, and Reid is dorky and adorable. However, there is more to each character than what meets the eye. They have lives of their own.

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I also love the relationship between Molly and Cassie, and their parents: Patty and Nadine parents are open-minded and genuinely cool people. They are the sort of parents who would sit you down and discuss birth control options. Still, being teenagers, Cassie and Molly can’t help but keep secrets from their parents. Patty and Nadine also have their own struggles as well. Being gay, they face stigma from the world around them, and sometimes even from their own family members. I love that, as the parent figures in this book, Patty and Nadine are portrayed as being empathetic and having problems of their own.

The writing is humorous and witty. I also love how the dialogue flows and how the chemistry between Molly and her love interest (I won’t mention which) never feels forced. It’s such an adorable story and a fast read.

The audiobook is narrated superbly.

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Bottom Line:

The Upside of Unrequited is a light-hearted love story with the most adorable and relatable main character. If you love reading about characters of all sizes, sexual orientations, and skin tones, then give this one a try!

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(The lovely quote images are courtesy of Amazon.com)

Book Quote #10: “Two kinds of quiet people”

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I honestly think there are two kinds of quiet people. There’s the kind like me, who are secretly full of storms and spinning gears. And then there’s the kind like Olivia, who is the actual personification of an ocean on a sunny day. I don’t mean that she’s simple. There’s just something peaceful about her. There always has been.

– The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertalli

GUYS!!!

I think I’ve finally found my literary twin.

Seriously.

And that is Molly from The Upside of Unrequited. She is just so relatable. Her thoughts might as well be plucked from my brain.

Anyway, I absolutely love this quote from The Upside of Unrequited, because I feel like it is speaking about me. Well, half of it anyway. I am that person who appears to be quiet and polite and calm and NORMAL, but it really is a storm in my head. Really. My head never shuts up. When I am excited, it’s like this in my brain:

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Except on the outside, I’m just normal smiling.

I mean, I’m not trying to disguise my excitement. That’s just how I am.

Anyway, now I want to hear from you guys! Do you have a literary twin? Do you consider yourself to be a quiet person?

WIPpet Wednesday: The Journal

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Happy Hump Day everyone!

How’s the week going for you? Frankly, I am exhausted (when am I not exhausted?) Remember a while back, when I tired myself out because I had a gazillion things to do, stayed up late to get my word count in, caught the flu, and promised to never ever do it again?

Well…

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I did it again.

It just sucks that there are only 24 hours in a day. There really should be more. Or if we could have one of those time-travelling thingimajigies that Hermione had that allows you do to two (or three or four) different things at once.

Anyway! Rant over!

Today’s feature presentation is a snippet from my current WIP titled Together We Will Live Forever (extremely tentative – I am super indecisive about my titles). Olivia is a neuroscience grad student and an aspiring artist. Matt works at the art gallery and lives with his daughter, Zelda.

The thing is, Matt is a private person who doesn’t talk much about himself. And Olivia is curious about him but doesn’t know how to ask. One day, Olivia finds Matt’s journal in his closet. This is one of Matt’s journal entries from several years back:

Anyway, it started on Friday. It probably actually started a bit further back. Amelie’s been having these headaches for a while. I just thought that it’s stress. I get headaches all the time and it gets worse when I’m stressed. So I gave her some of my Tylenol and Advil. She was taking them by the handful. And then she started talking funny, she started using words that are out of place. Like, she’d walk into the bathroom and ask where the oysters are. I figured out that by oysters, she meant her shoes. Then I told her they were probably on the shoe rack. They weren’t, not the yellow heels she wanted to wear that day. So we looked all over the apartment for the pair of yellow shoes, and we had a fight about it because I didn’t see why she couldn’t just wear another pair of shoes. Eventually we found the shoes in the fruit bin in the fridge, and we had no idea how it got there. Except I had an inkling of suspicion that she probably put them there and forgot about them. She did that kind of thing these days. Then I kind of understood why she wanted so bad to look for those shoes. It wasn’t that she wanted to wear them. It was that she was frustrated that she couldn’t find them.

By the way, WIPpet Wednesdays is a blog hop where writers can share a snippet from their WIP (Work in Progress). The only stipulation is that the excerpt is somehow related to the date. For example, today I have one paragraph, which is 17 (from the year) minus 16 (the date). It really is a precise science 😉

Be sure to check out some of the other lovely WIPpet snippets here. Thank you Emily Wrayburn for hosting.

Now I want to hear from you! How do you balance life with writing? Do you struggle with finding THE perfect title for your novel?

Let’s Chat: A Different Kind of Instalove

Guys. You might know by now that I hate Instalove. Like, with a passion. I hate how Girl gazes into Boy’s eyes, which are a lovely hazel, how his hair flutters in the breeze, and how she knows, beyond a shred of doubt, that she is in love, and that just by virtue of looking at him, her soul floats in midair… and so on and so forth. It’s just not realistic, and it’s downright cheesy, and it’s not even fun to read about.

Seriously. Reading such things makes me want to do this:

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Except I don’t. Because I paid money for that book. And even if I didn’t, as a bookworm, it goes against my personal value and belief system to destroy books. So I swallow the urge to shred the pages. And I live with the existence of that book on my bookshelf.

Then I thought, hey, since I bash Instalove in my reviews/thoughts/real life conversations all the time, why don’t I make a blog post about it? GREAT IDEA!!

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Except, A) I would rant forever and go WAY my self-imposed word limit producing something that no one would read to its completion, and B) It will just be… too easy. And I’m that kinda person who wouldn’t feel satisfied unless I do something that is hard. I know, I’m weird.

So, today I will defend Instalove a bit: I want to convince you that there is an ounce of truth in Instalove, but that it needs to be portrayed differently in YA fiction.

By the way, you may have known/guessed that Instalove = Instant Love, where two people fall in love at first sight (think Romeo and Juliet).

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Some food for thought: Why is there so much Instalove in the books that we read? I mean, I’m assuming that authors and publishers who write/publish Instalove are intelligent human beings, and that they write/publish books that they expect to be popular. Therefore, Instalove must exist because it sells.

Why then, does Instalove sell? Instalove is a fantasy. We like to imagine that we fall in love with the beautiful Prince/Princess Charming, and he/she finds us beautiful and falls in love with us as well. Isn’t that so romantic? Isn’t that so much more romantic, than, say, an average-looking person meeting another average-looking person, both people learning to accept each other’s flaws and work through kinks in their relationship, and either become a successful couple or break up? Maybe we like this fantasy of falling in love at first sight, just like how we like the fantasy of happy endings, or the fantasy of a world with dragons and magic powers.

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The more I think about it, the more I wonder: Could it be true? Is it possible to fall in love at first sight?

Yes and no. I don’t believe that we fall in love with a person’s appearance. I also don’t believe that love can be instant. We can be attracted to someone who is beautiful or handsome, and maybe we feel awkward and tongue-twisted in their presence. (Unless you are one of those savvy creatures who are super smooth, in which case I am SO jelly.) But attraction isn’t love.

Love takes time. It means that we know the person’s strengths and their weaknesses, and that we love them for both. It means that we’ve had fights, we know each other’s trigger points, and we know how to deal with future disagreements. How can this be achieved with just one glance? Appearance can attract us to a person, and this may develop into love in the long term, but it can hardly be called love at first sight.

I believe that we don’t fall in love with a person’s appearance, we fall in love with their personality, with how they speak, with how they think.

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However, I do believe that there is such a thing as instant connection. You know when we first talk to a stranger, on the subway, or in the elevator, or a friend of a friend, or a new classmate, and it just clicks? Maybe it’s because we have similar hobbies or ideas, maybe we see the world in a similar way. Or maybe we are both just interested in learning about each others’ worlds. For some reason, it is so easy to talk to them. Often this feeling is platonic, and we make a new friend. Sometimes, it may grow into something more.

And you know what? It has nothing to do with appearance.

So I don’t believe in instant love, but I do believe that we connect with some people better than others.

We need to start thinking differently about Instalove. Young Adult fiction needs to focus less on love at first “sight”, and more on the idea of developing a connection through conversation. Love takes time, and it’s really what is on the inside that counts.

Let’s Chat!

How do you feel about Instalove?

 

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi (Audiobook)

28458598“Seriously? That’s what you think I should be relegating my brain space to? Looking nice? Like, if I don’t make the effort to look beautiful, my entire existence is nullified? Nothing else matters-not my intellect, not my personality or my accomplishments; my hopes and dreams mean nothing if I’m not wearing eyeliner?” – Dimple

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” She is excited that her family finally lets her sign up for a summer program in app design.

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Young Adult / Contemporary / Romance / 380 pages

We all know When Dimple Met Rishi. It’s been circulating in the blogosphere for quite a while. I was very excited to read this book because of all the positive reviews, though I’ve been warned about the cheesiness. In the end, I liked this book. It gives me a warm and happy feeling. But booooy is it cheesy.

I absolutely love that this novel features diverse main characters. Dimple and Rishi are both from Indian families who hold traditional values, yet Dimple and Rishi themselves are very different. Dimple is a strong-headed and independent girl, she is ambitious and she wants more than anything to aim for the career of her dreams. She could care less about having the Ideal Indian Husband, and she cringes at the notion of the obedient housewife who caters to her husband’s every single whim, with no room to pursue dreams of her own. Meanwhile, Rishi is proud of his heritage. As the older son, he feels the obligation to abide by tradition and be the perfect son and role model. He is a hopeless romantic who admires the loving relationship between his mom and dad, and he has faith in the institution of arranged marriage that it will take him there too. Through Dimple and Rishi, and their heartwarming, hilarious, families, I learned more about the Indian culture, which fascinates me.

The characters are well thought out, from Dimple and Rishi to the supporting cast. At first glance, Dimple is that sharp-tongued and sharp-witted girl who is driven by ambition. But we learn that she has a soft side and she is a romantic at heart. Rishi is determined to uphold his traditional Indian values, and he wants to be the Ideal Indian Husband. He is set to start MIT in the fall, because he is determined to graduate with a respectable degree and get a well-paying job to support his future family. However, he tries to deny his true passion, which is art. The supporting characters have lives and personalities of their own: from Rishi’s brother to Dimple’s roommate. It is amazing to watch their stories unravel before our eyes, and to see their relationships strength and change throughout the novel.

The writing is witty and made me laugh at just the right moments. The first few chapters drew me in completely, because both Dimple and Rishi are just so adorable and hilarious. I loved that they each have a distinct voice and it is fascinating to see the world from each of their points of views.

However, as the story progresses, I felt that both Dimple and Rishi lose their uniqueness and they become your typical lovestruck teenagers. And it just gets cheesy. The heart pounding and the butterflies in the stomach and so on and so forth. It gave me goosebumps and chills down the spine. That’s how cheesy it was.

I am conflicted about the POV switching in this novel. In general, I am not against POV switching. I’ve enjoyed many novels that are written this way. But is there a point when the POV switching happens too often? In When Dimple Met Rishi, there are often moments when a scene is broken into many parts, alternating between Dimple and Rishi’s points of views. To be honest, I am not quite sure what I make of it.

I loved the performance in the audiobook.

The Bottom Line:

Despite the cheesiness and predictability, When Dimple Met Rishi is a light read that warmed up my heart and made me smile. If you are interested in learning about the Indian culture, and in a mood for a good romance, you may want to give this a try.

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Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? How do you feel about dual POV books in general?