Saturday, May 26, 2012

NYC Libraries: Book Ninjas!

I don't know what you've heard about the NYC libraries, but according to this article I came across, they are facing huge budget cuts that will close libraries and cut hours in others (surprise, surprise). The writer of the article says something really interesting that I couldn't agree with more:

"Google has not killed the library and ebooks won't do it either. The biggest threat to the public library in American culture is limited hours. "

I find that libraries are doing a remarkable job of forming to the communities needs now that we have more and more online and other resources for our researching/reading needs. For example, the library I work at has an extensive collection of entertainment DVDs that are a) free and b) don't have to buffer.


Anyways, NYC libraries are fighting this budget cut by leaving random books all over NYC with little stickers that say "Take me" and "When libraries close, this could be your only access to free books". The abandoned books have info about signing a petition to stop the laws. What are the book distributors called? Book Ninjas.


Here are some of the pics that were included with the article:

I know what I'll be suggesting if our library ever takes a hit!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Inspiration, Again

I don't know if we've got an So You Think You Can Dance fans out there, but I love the show. Last night was the season premiere and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The reason why it's coming up over here a SOI is because I really believe that dance has an incredible power to make the audience feel something which as I writer I am always trying to do. I don't know about you but I feel so inspired after watching so many people pour out emotions into an art. I just wanted to share one of the dances from last night that really inspired me. Excuse all his creepy exorcist stuff at the beginning (in the words of Nigel, "You're starting to scare me a little bit now") and just enjoy the dancing (it starts at 0:42). It's amazing how art can inspire us to be better writers.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Inspiration from History (and art!)

This past week I went to the opening night of an exhibit at an art gallery. The work from my history class was on display. I know that sounds really strange, a HISTORY class displayed in an ART GALLERY? Well, we were exploring our personal connections to the course subject matter (The Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide) through art. I found that it really helped me connect emotionally to this history, verses reading out of a text book. Anyways...

The reason why I'm posting it here on SOI is a two fold. The first because history is made up of stories. And stories are what we're about here. It's well worth an author's time to look into history. There is so much material, and I find the whole experience of learning history inspiring. Learning about the political coups, the scheming and all that jazz that actually happened is just asking for ideas. It also gives you an interesting insight into people's motivations.

The other reason why I decided to post about the art show was that seeing other people's passion poured into their work is inspiring. Seeing people love what they're doing is like a breath of fresh air.

And because visuals are always nice, here's a few pictures from the show.

This is the art that I did (and my shoulder and some of my hair, haha)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dystopian: Good or Bad?

EDIT: I've rewritten this piece and done a post on it's revision here.

This week was my week to write an editorial for the local paper, so I thought I'd post it up here. It's on dystopian fiction. What do you think? Do we have any Hunger Games fans out there? What's your favourite dystopian book? So without further adieu, here it is:

First we had wizards, then we had vampires and now the growing tread in fiction for the younger populace of readers is the dystopian genre. Until this past year I had no idea how to pronounce “dystopian”, let alone know what the genre was. Since then, I’ve been educated. Dystopian fiction is very generally classified as a story that takes place in a hypothetical society where the living conditions are extremely poor. Often these conditions are due to corrupted government and are set in a futuristic time, usually post-apocalypse. Like me, you may have thought that this genre has just popped up over the past few years, but in truth it’s been around since the late 1800s with some older dystopias that are still popular today being George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954).
Needless to say, this genre is still going strong especially in books for younger readers. Ever since the 2008 release of Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games, the first in the dystopian trilogy, and the release of the movie earlier this year, this genre has taken off. A few prime examples of this are books being published like Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (2011) and Blood Red Road by Moira Young (2011). The growing number of books in the dystopian genre means the growing number of young people reading the “doom and gloom” fiction and this is raising some questions among parents. The most common of these questions among parents is whether or not it’s healthy for their children to be reading these kinds of books that often include violence and are centered on a dysfunctional society.
Like most issues there isn’t a straight answer to this question. Dystopian stories have great potential to have many positive effects, and those effects are what I’ve personally experienced with these types of books. They are cautionary tales with the power to jolt someone out of their apathy and force them to think about the choices we are making today and how they will determine the future. Reading about a futuristic society that is clearly an awful place to live and seeing the parallels to our own society can have a warning effect. Our future could be like it is these books. That realization might even induce some action from the reader. It might just be turning the light off when you leave a room, or maybe taking an interest in voting for the coming years. Although it’s not earth shattering action, dystopian books get the reader thinking about their future which is an extremely positive effect in my books. Aside from the more intellectual results, current dystopian fiction often features strong heroines which are always nice to see in comparison to the classic damsel in distress, and are books that are just plain exciting to read.
All that being said, there are still those nagging thoughts of the potentially desensitising violence and inaccurate portrayals that are often found in dystopian fiction. Those are the reasons that give parents pause in allowing their children to read this genre and those are two very good reasons. As much as I see value in dystopian books, they are only effective when the reader has grounding in the fact that the story is fiction and hypothetical. When we have children reading books like this we get into problems with them taking fictional representation of our possible future as the truth of how it currently is. Truly though, the main complaint is the violence, especially between young people in the books. However I do not find it desensitising at all, but the opposite. Reading about it makes me more aware of how awful the violence is. The presence of violence is not what will cause problems, but how the violence is portrayed. I’ve yet to read a dystopian novel (and I’ve read many) that glorifies violence and makes me want to be a part of it. As a teenager, I know that dystopian books are fiction and I know that violence exists. I have the tools to take away the subtle lessons that make the dystopian genre what it is, but as a young child it can be too much to deal with when they are still relativity unexposed to the world.
Does this mean that parents should condemn this genre all together? Of course not, but it is important that they work with their children to decide when they are mature enough to handle dystopian. When they are ready for dystopian, parents should help them realise the lessons to be taken away from the book and the misconceptions that may be found. If parents give their children a good foundation in this area they won’t have to fear for their child’s worldview and can sit back and let their children learn to love the written word (and maybe learn a few things at the same time!) through the exciting books that are part of the dystopian genre.
So there it is. I'm afraid I went horribly over the word limit for the editorial, but we'll see what happens.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Book Spine Poetry

I'll be the first to tell you that I am NOT a poet. My poetry comes out sounding ridiculously cliche and melodramatic, so when I saw this form of poetry I loved it! Super easy and creative. It may not be up to Edgar Allen Poe's standards but it's cute and funky.

I came across Book Spine Poetry a couple of weeks ago during one of my endless hours on the internet. Basically, you put a bunch of books on top of each other to create a phrase of poetry. Here's a couple of examples that I found online and some of my own creations.

Haha, I love that one!
Here's a few of my own. They aren't quite as clever as those ones, but it was good fun coming up with them. Harder than I thought though.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! If you want to do some of your own book spine poetry feel free to leave a link in the comments (shameless self promotion, go ahead). I'd love to see some other creations.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Limitless Blogging

Lately I've been thinking about the limits that I've put on myself. I've been thinking about saying absolute things like "I only read x genre","I only write y genre" or "I only listen to z music" and how limiting that can be. There's so much more to enjoy when you don't create limits like that. The particular limit I've been thinking about that spurred this post on is the limits of a niche.

On this blog, I've said that I will write writing advice from a teen perspective. That's my niche. Niches are good, don't get me wrong, but sometimes niches can get in the way. I've been beginning to realize that my blog could be better if I didn't limit myself to posting about writing tips. There's so much potential in other book related things that I could be tapping into if I didn't limit myself to my current niche. So that's what I've decided to do.

From now on, in addition to my usual posts about writing I will be posting about other book related things. A Splash of Ink won't just be writing advice. It will be all things inky! That may not be the best slogan, but I'll work on it, haha.

So maybe this is your time to expand your niche and try something new. It could lead to something pretty amazing
or it could crash and burn, but I'll try not to be a pessimist!

All the best in your changes (?) and wish me luck with mine!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Insecure Writer's Group

For the last month, April, I've been totally caught up with the April Blogging Challenge and have neglected this blog. Well, today a bunch of the Insecure Writers Group posts were popping up in my little following blogs box thingy on my dashboard and I was initially like "Crap! I have to do that". Then I frantically tried to think of something to say that I hadn't said before (and that wasn't me complaining about my lack of writing. No one wants to read that!). So I just decided I start a new post and start working. Here's the insecurity I came up with.

Mid-Story Crisis

This, my friend, is when you get to the middle of a story and think I've got a better idea. No, not an improving idea, a completely new idea. When I want to quietly close that document that I've been fussing over for months now and move onto the new shiny idea that's begging for my attention. I'm a firm advocate of keeping on keeping on, in fact I wrote a post about it here, but is there a point when I'm beating a dead horse? Is better to struggle to finish a story or get excited and jump into a new story. I suppose that new story would eventually reach this stage as well, so I should probably listen to my own preaching (see linked post). I don't know. I'm insecure.
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