where do words lead? (a rambling reflection)

I've been thinking about blogging. About reading. About writing. And most of all, words.

I've just realized that I've been blogging for a little over a half year now. Wow. (this both amazes and baffles me).

And I think it's time for a reflection--(if you're wondering: no, this post doesn't have a point, other to ramble. Be warned: spur-of-the-moment poetry and old writings lie ahead). And for the first time in a while I'll be mixing Writing Me with Reading Me on this blog. I made a decision a while ago to not really talk about my writing at all on In Which a Girl Reads. I think it was a sound one; I really like how this blog turned out--completely readercentric. But just for the purposes of this post, I'll include the writing. It's all tangled up with Reading Me and Blogging Me anyhow, and I don't quite have the strength to pick out the knots at the moment.

Yes, writing.

Some of you (*waves at writerly friends*) know that I *attempt* to write novels and poetry. Key word here is attempt. I make no claims to greatness; I'm just any other sixteen year old girl with dreams of publishing a novel someday. There are millions of Mes out there. My dream isn't anything original or special. I share it with a lot of people. Too many, in fact.--it seems like there are would-be writers in every nook and cranny of the interwebs. I don't begrudge them this; this hope to create something.

I'm feeling all poetic right now, so:

Hope and I,
we bend our heads
together into
a silhouette of shattered light.
Warm yellow,
like the
center of an egg yolk.

I have this hope too, and I'm not more entitled to writing a novel than anyone else. If anything, I'm less. But there's no criteria for a writer, other than a love of words. And determination.

Here we go (I can't stop now that I've started):

Let's try again:
the bluegreen horizon

waits so patiently.
The birds
kiss the waves
of the sultry afternoon
and the pages of a dusty yellow-stained book
flutter in the wind.

Ever since I started blogging--ever since this summer, I've fallen in love with words. I liked words before, enjoyed them, but never loved them as I do now. I was always an avid reader. I devoured books. I still do. The writing came later--I began my first novel at twelve, and just finished it this summer. I'm a slow writer, but this doesn't mean my first efforts sucked any less. (they really sucked, if you're wondering.) But all of a sudden I started to write more.

I've abandoned two unfinished novels since August. After sticking with one novel for three years, it feels almost shameful. Fifteen for me will always be the age, the year of abandoning novels. That's basically three in a year (+ a month, but we'll overlook this). But some things are necessary. And I started on a new one this week--and for once, I'm liking how it's going. Sixteen will be the year of finishing something better than I've ever written before. I can feel it.

I wrote my first poem--my first real poem--about a month or two ago. After years of thinking I could never write a poem. I was inspired by the first book of poetry I'd ever read. I've written about twenty poems since then.

Somewhere in between Then and Now, I've changed. Words have become Everything to me when before they were only Something. I blame it at least partly on blogging. I blame everything on the internet.

The internet is the reason I've finally connected with fellow writers. (btw I love you guys if you're reading this). The internet is the reason that I started this book blog gig and that I've finally connected with other readers and people as passionate about books as I am. (I love you guys).

And this book blog has led to several things
1. More reading than ever before
2. A more analytical view of my books; i.e., I think about them to review them.
3. Better reviewing skills.

This is just a simplification of everything this blog has done for me; I'm leaving out the amazing community I've met in the blogosphere, the fun I've had, the essence of blogging. But to view it most clinically, this blog has allowed me to read more, and to write more.

It motivated me to do that whole crazy Literature Week in December. It's an example. Becuase as a result, I've come out of it (slightly scathed) and completely changed. I'm reading as much adult literature as I do YA now. I came into this blog thinking I only liked light fantasies and escapism books; I've now come to realize how powerful literature can be. How ground-breaking, how amazing.

My horizons
have not just expanded,
they've exploded.
And afterwards the skyline
punched me in the face
for lasting impact.
It stings
It meant to bruise:
an infusion of
blackblueviolet colors
like dusk.

It's instilled in me a greater appreciation for authors than I've ever had. For the ones who create something unparalleled. I never used to get so impassioned about books: I loved them before, I was obsessed, I reread some books everyday for a month. But now I want to cry at the beauty in some of them. Now I feel something inside of me when I read a great book that I really think is my literary soul responding to them. That's why I call them Soul Books.

They sing
to my soul.

And I can't even begin to tell you what reading greatness has done to me.

I can feel
the changes
in me.

How can words, simple words, change a person?

I'm skeptical.

You're skeptical.

It's strange.

But I can't look back on the last couple months without seeing a divergence between me before and me now.

It's like a road
splitting down the side.
Framed by an avenue of molting
feather trees.

It's terrifying but wonderful.

Because it's all for the better.

I think maybe this is what passion is.

And what does it mean, to be passionate about something? To think this is something that is worth dedicating your time to? A whole big chunk of time? Your life?

Blogging is just the beginning. And I wonder if I'll still be blogging ten years from now. Blogging hasn't withstood a test of time; no one's been blogging for ten years straight. Blogging didn't even exist ten years ago.

Have I started
something that never ends?

What is it like to be published? To hold a job in the publishing industry? To inhale nothing but words from sunrise to sunset?

Maybe one day I'll have a chance to experience some of those things.

Is it
No. Yes.

I have the rest of my life to tango with words. That's a whole lot of time. I've realized now the only thing I can hope for as a writer is improvement. It takes time. It takes pain and sweat and tears. It's my writing philosophy: to always strive to improve. To be patient and wait until I'm ready--many years from now. It's also, I've realized, my life philosophy. To always be improving.

I don't know anything about the future, but it sure feels wonderful. Scary, almost.

I owe it to you guys.

I owe it to authors that pen beauty that has inspired me.

And the internet.

And to not doing my homework on time.

(Amen to that^)

I sit here not doing my calculus homework and writing this completely rambling (and most likely nonsensical post) at eleven at night. Midnight now.


The words.

And to mash several old writings together:

I write:
for the words tumbling down the rocky path of my throat,
tiptoeing across my roof like lemon drop rain.

For the words as unreachable as charcoal sketches against the milky horizon.

For the paragraphs where I have to dip a ladle into the world and scoop a part of it out. Out of me.

I write for the words that render paintings in the air. Watercolors of vistas, mountains, lakes, roaring together.

What can I say?

I hope this post doesn't weird any of you out. It's sudden. I think I'll revert back to the reading posts from now on. Today is special for some reason, it's an exception.

The random poetry is a result of the time at night (I write at night--but I'm not a sparkly vampire, I assure you). I'm sorry; I won't inflict any of you poor followers anymore.

I lack the better judgment to edit it out. To not post this.

Thanks for hanging in there and reading this :)


in my mailbox (15)

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

To the great dismay and horror surprise of my local librarians, I, the unrelenting Scourge of All Libraries, am now back in action! I've finally paid my massive, gigantic library fines* (why yes, it hurt very badly**). And I meant to check out a gazillion books in celebration but I thought about it and the pain was enough to limit me to fifteen. And here are the books I'm planning to review out of those:

1. Gone by Lisa McMann: Why hello, sentence fragments! I enjoyed both Wake and Fade, so I'm looking forward to reading this final book in the trilogy.

2.North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Hadley: Although this book has the same stock photo as one of my least favorite books, Evermore (review), I'm willing to give a try. It seems to be a good contemporary book with a great message.

3. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: I LOVE dystopian fiction. And this book has so much praise tacked onto it that it's mind-boggling. So, so excited.

4. After by Amy Efaw: The cover with all the white is pretty striking, and I've heard good things about this one as well.

5. Wish by Alexandra Bullen: This book has a cool, fun premise and I love how her dress disintegrates into stars. So pretty :)

*I love the library. I do. But it seems that I'm always either paying off fines of accumulating them. Gah.

** *waves goodbye to chunk of savings* But to tell the truth, if I'm going to have to pay fines for anything, I'm most happy to pay money to a library. At least my forgetfulness is leading to some good (more money for the library).


thoughts on some stylistic techniques in novels

So I was thinking* about just how much I love authors who are brave enough to experiment with stylistic aspects of their writing. And I thought I'd do a roundup** of some of the interesting things I've come across while reading, along with excerpts from works that incorporate them and my comments.

There's going to be a lot of generalizations in this post, but I'll just point out what I do and don't like. Keep in mind, this is just my (rather fickle) opinion :)



my thoughts: okay, so maybe I'm a *little* biased here. On principle, sentence fragments are perhaps my most favorite stylistic technique that an author can employ. There's always the risk that the prose will get choppy, but when done right, it just adds so much impact and beauty.

I think my favorite instance of it in literature is from The God of Small Things by Adrundhati Roy.

They ran along the bank calling out to her. But she was gone. Carried away on the muffled highway. Graygreen. With fish in it. With the sky and trees in it. And at night the broken yellow moon in it.

There was no storm music. No whirlpool spun up from the inky depths of the Meenachal. No shark supervised the tragedy.

Just a quiet handing-over ceremony. A boat spilling its cargo. A river accepting the offering. One small life. A brief sunbeam. With a silver thimble clenched for luck in its little fist.

And when it's applied to YA books, it can be absolutely fantastic.

Wake by Lisa McMann takes it to a whole new extreme, and I love it.


Oh baby," he whispers. Steps back. Out of the doorway. His face ashen. He walks slowly back to the kitchen. Leans over the counter. Puts his head in his hands. His hair falls over his fingers.

The bathroom door clicks shut.

She stays there for a long time.

He's pulling his hair out.
final verdict: EPIC WIN


my thoughts: I don't even like it when James Joyce does it. And in the instances I've seen it applied to young adult literature, it's been very jarring.

quote (from Ulysses by James Joyce)

--A woeful lunatic! Mulligan said. Were you in a funk?
--I was, Stephen said with growing energy and fear

Gah. What is wrong with simple quotation marks?

I didn't like it much in YA with Girl in the Arena either:

--Have you met with Uber? another reporter asks.
--No. Not yet.
--So you plan to?
--There are no plans at this time, I say.
The whole dashes instead of quotation marks might not appear to be a big nuisance in small snippets, but when it's consistent throughout a large book, it really throws me off. It jolts me out of the dialogue.

final verdict: FAIL


my thoughts: The instances I've come across have been brillamazing. I really like it as a stylistic technique--and the combined words only pop up every once in a while but they have extra impact.

Here's Cormac McCarthy in All the Pretty Horses:

The wind was much abated and it was very cold and the sun sat blood red and elliptic under the reefs of bloodred cloud before him.


And here's Toni Morrison in The Bluest Eye:

Hereisthehouseitisgreenandwhiteithasareddooritisverypretty itisveryprettyprettyprettyp

It might lose it's impact separated here, but as chapter titles and as the opening of the novel it's wonderful.

The closest thing to the whole making up new words/combining them technique I've found in YA is in Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, when a whole 2 pages in the middle of the book runs:

Must. Not. Eat. Must. Not. Eat. Must. Not. Eat.Must. Not. Eat.Must. Not. Eat.Must. Not. Eat.

It might not seem like much taken out of context here, but as it functions in the book, this shows the thought process of the main character and it just has so much impact.

The Verdict: WIN for Adult lit. Hopefully there will be some more in YA lit soon.


my thoughts: It's actually pretty cool, the two or three times I've read it in a book.

In This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I really liked it. That was one of my literature week books that I had to read in one day, and by the 2/3 point I was getting restless. So the dramatic form really broke it up for me in an interesting way.


CECILIA: Well, Rosalind has still to meet the man she can outdistance. Honestly, Alec, she treats men terribly. She abuses them and cuts them and breaks dates with them and yawns in their faces--and they come back for more.

ALEC: They love it.

CECILIA: They hate it. She's a sort of vampire--I think.


And Laurie Halse Anderson uses it both in Speak and Wintergirls.

quote (from Speak, Victim is the main character):

Mom: "...[l]ook at me when I'm talking to you."

[Victim mixes cottage cheese into applesauce. Dad snorts like a bull. Mom grasps knife.]

my thoughts: If it's done right, it can be awesome. There's so many different ways to experiment with plot structure and point of view and chapter divisions.

I love the headings in The Book Thief (and I love pretty much everything in that book) by Markus Zusak:

"When he turned the light on in the small, callous washroom that night, Liesel observed the the strangeness in her foster father's eyes. They were made of kindness, and silver. Like soft silver, melting. Liesel, upon seeing these eyes, understood that Hans Hubermann was worth a lot.


She was five feet, one inch tall and wore her
browny gray strands of elastic hair in a bun.
To supplement the Hubermann income, she did the washing
for the wealthier households in Molching.
Her cooking was atrocious.
She possessed the unique ability to aggravate almost anybody she ever met.
But she did love Liesel Meminger."


And then there are books that experiment with lists, which are pretty cool as well.

For the books with different types of chapters (or none at all), I'm not exactly sure. I love the how scenes are divided up in Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, by time:

[ oo8.00]

The air at the gas station is heavy with diesel and the smell of rancid deep-fryer fat from the McDonald's next door.

However, books that go on for long blocks of pages without any chapters can get a little heavy, where I'm waiting for a place to leave off and there's no chapter ending to stop at.

And the extreme experiment in structure is a nonlinear plot form. I haven't yet read a YA book other than The Year of Secret Assignments with a nonlinear structure, but I'm trying to get my hands on one.

Final verdict: UNDECIDED, mostly due to the wide range of variation.

I'm pretty fascinated by the diversity of style and techniques that authors employ. Of course, it's a bit hard to generalize when I think a lot of it comes down to execution: some authors can make pretty much any technique work, and some can't.

I'd like to see more experimental techniques in YA literature; it really can add an extra dimension into a narrative.

And here's the big question: do you agree or disagree with me on my assessments? Do you have any favorite unique stylistic techniques or do particular techniques really bother you in a novel?

*Yes, I do do that on occasion. Even though my brain is fried from SCHOOL. *weep*

**Okay, so maybe this is a plot to showcase novels I (mostly) like with awesome quotes that will hook you so hard you'll be running to the bookstore to read the books mentioned here. Most of 'em, at least.


review: the absolutely true diary of a part-time indian

Book Description:

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

My Opinion:

I've been meaning to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for ages. It's been recommended to me right and left; brandished, paraded, and flourished in front of me. Every so often I'd see it around at a place of books and think, I have to read that soon. A few days ago, I finally picked it up and read it. And I should've read it sooner, I should've made time for it. Because The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is not the sort of book you should ignore. You got to take notice of it, you got to devour it, and you got to love it.

Junior, the main character, is just so plain lovable. His voice is distinct, funny, and wise. This book details his first year leaving his reservation in order to go to school at Rearden, whose students are all white and mostly well off. Junior on the other hand, is Indian and poor. Dirt poor. The kind of poor where he doesn't get enough to eat. The type of poor that breeds misfortune. And boy, does Junior go through misfortune. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian should by all rights be a tragedy, because Junior's life is a pretty much a tragedy.

Junior goes through some lows and some high points in his life. When you're reading this book, you'll be stringed on along with him. You'll be immersed in his world--full of alcoholic parents that still love him, a sister nicknamed Mary Runs Away who wants to write romance novels, and Rowdy, his violent and misunderstood best friend. There's a whole host of great characters in this book. Which just makes it even more heartbreaking when Junior and his family have to endure horrible calamities.

But don't get the wrong idea: this book isn't depressing by any means. Sure, it's poignant and uninhibited and might make you cry. But it'll also make you crack up, make you smile so much you get cheek cramps*. And it'll fill you with hope. Because above all, this book is a tale of hope, of never-giving-up, and an example of what you can do when you set your mind to it. Thinking of this novel, I just want to reach into the velvety crisp pages of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and give Junior a hug, and tell him he's amazing, because he is. I have a thing for the underdog, for the hero who has everything against him. I think this is part of the reason why with Junior, Alexie has created a character that I'll love forever.

And speaking of Alexie, he's also amazing. His writing is beautiful, masterful. Here's some of my favorite quotes:

"I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats."
"We Indians really should be better liars, considering how often we've been lied to."
"I didn't know what to say, so I just stood there red and mute like a stop sign."
"I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,' I said. 'By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn't true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not."
And scattered in between lines of lovely prose are cartoons (by Ellen Fogey). Junior wants to be a cartoonist, and I love the cartoons so, so, much. Here's one:

Maybe Junior's insights are a little too wise for a 14-year-old, but that's something I'm willing to overlook.

So this book is awesome story + wonderful characters + lovely cartoons + gorgeous prose. I'm not sure what that equals. Something jaw-dropping. Heart-stopping. Unparalleled.

Don't make the same mistake I did and put off reading this book. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a fairly short read, but the amount of pages has nothing to do with the amount of substance. In 200-something pages, Sherman Alexie pens genius. Pure, unadulterated genius. You know it's an amazing read when it makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. This book is full of laugh-out-loud humor and great tragedy; and the mixture of both makes for an absolutely unforgettable read.

My Rating: 9.5/10. If you don't go read this NOW I'll force you to, somehow. That's how much I recommend it.

*gah. Aren't those painful? Lol.


new magic under glass cover unveiled

I'm following up on the discussion post I did a while back about the Magic Under Glass controversy. Bloomsbury agreed to design a new cover, and recently unveiled it to the public.

(The old cover is on the left and the new cover is on the right)

I <3 the new cover. It's just so, so much more fitting for the character. And it's a lot more beautiful too--the design and the lighting are gorgeous. The font on the old cover really irked me for some reason, but I love the font on this one :) Definitely a huge improvement, and I'm looking forward to buying this one with the revised cover!


daily dose (5)

Daily Dose is a meme hosted by Good Golly Miss Holly. It showcases inspirational and beautiful pictures.

Before the fun begins, I just want to apologize for being AWOL for the last few days commenting-wise on everyone's blogs. School= crazy. And I think massive amounts of homework/tests was the cause of my sleep coma yesterday. (isn't it sort of strange/frightening when you sleep 20 hours straight without any warning?). Anyhow, I'll be back to commenting again now :)


teen writer interview: amna

Teen writer interviews are a new feature on my blog, where I'll be inviting some very talented teens who are seriously pursuing publication over for a spotlight. They're the authors of the future!

Name/Alias : Amna, but since I have discovered my geek powers, I now go by GEEKTASTIC.

Age: 17

Blog: Amna Writes

Tumblr: I’ve started this project, where I search for my writing inspiration through photography. I want to post a picture every day, and see by next year if I have once and for all defeated writer’s block. http://geeksrus.tumblr.com/

Summary of current work in progress:

MAX! The Not So Great

Sixteen-year-old Maximilian spends his life trying to live up to the greatness of his name. In an attempt to search for greatness, Max signs himself up for the American international exchange. He knows little of greatness, but one thing’s clear: he isn’t going to find it in Great Britain. However, his exchange partner Asif is more alienated in the land of dreams than he is. The only thing Max learns in San Diego is to close his eyes and hold his breath when his head is dunked into the toilet. Max soon realises that in Hoover High school, the sole path to greatness is pulling off the prank of the year.

Max and Asif have a plan. Steal their class wish box— containing everybody’s inner desires—publish the bully’s wishes for all to see and gain the schools admiration. It seems simple enough, until Max’s conscience starts to bug him. Max decides that a great thing would be to turn the wishes into reality.

Yes-girl needs to say no, twinkle toe jock wants to reveal his true identity and the caveman twins want to be able to graduate. But when Max and Asif’s wishes clash. Max has to decide what a great man would choose. His or his best friend’s happiness.

Can you share a few excerpts from MAX! The Not So Great?

“The silence was full of words unsaid. Heavy, it dripped from the air. Thick liquid, shoving itself down our throat. Forcing us to swallow the truth.”

“The sky was defeated, it sagged. Black and blue. Raining on Asif. It’s shocking, how long one takes to build up a dream and how quick it was for another to destroy it.”
“I jumped into bed and waited for sleep to come. To wrap me in her arms so we can drift of together. The sweetness of the night filled my taste buds, and the taste of hope was addicting. Pure—without artificial coloring or flavoring—hope.

Hope that I will find greatness tomorrow.

Hope that it will find me.

Hope that Asif will stop snoring.”
Choco: Beautiful!

If someone was writing a biography about the life of Amna the Amazing, what would they have scribbled down so far?

Amna the amazing—has a nice ring to it! These last seventeen years have been full of highs and lows. Have been full of moments I laughed so hard I snorted milk from my nose. There have been moments I cried myself to sleep. There are moments I was so embarrassed that I wanted to the ground to open up and swallow me whole. Then there are those moments you have butterflies in my stomach when I’m about to put myself out there: personal wise and professionally. I’ve lived in six different countries and I absolutely love traveling. I love meeting different people, learning about different cultures and ways of life. So in these seventeen years I’ve experienced hardships, triumphs, and made decisions that define who I am.

Unlike Max, I’m not searching for greatness because I realized that greatness is all around us!

These are some of the ‘great’ moments of my life:

1. First time I swam: When I was eight, I was pretty convinced that I would NEVER be able to swim. I was convinced it was IMPOSSIBLE. Then my dad helped me out, and slowly I started splattering around in the water. Then the armbands came off. Then I was doing full breast and backstrokes. THEN, I won my school’s swimming meet. I realized then that nothing is impossible.
2. Junior prom: It was that whole ‘Cinderella’ moment for me. By then, I definitely came into my own. I was comfortable in my own skin. And, I think it’s important that every girl/boy has there ‘Cinderella’ moment. It’s important everyone is comfortable in his or her own skin.
3. My short story in IMAGINE LITERARY MAGAZINE: I have no idea how to explain this one, but just seeing your work in print. In an actual literary magazine. It’s pretty damn awesome.
4. Rejections: being rejected by someone, and getting your work rejected by someone is all really hard to swallow. But it’s important to know that rejections are apart of life and this industry. You really need to suck it up, and hold your head up high. The only person that bring you down is you. And the only way to lose the ‘race’ is by taking yourself out of it.
5. Completing my first novel: There is just this warm feeling at the pit of your stomach, that rises and swarms your whole body. Again, pretty damn awesome. And yes, I did coo at my manuscript and call it my little baby. I’m a proud mama.

So, you live in the place of my dreams: England. What’s it like being in near proximity to moldering castles and grandiose museums, the Thames, and the layers of history thick around you? Do you drink tea a lot, what’s your favorite British turn of expression, and WHERE IS HOGWARTS?!

Well, I’m not going to lie to you Choco- IT IS PRETTY AWESOME. Out of all the countries I’ve lived in, England is by far my favorite. And I absolutely LOVE living in London. Like you said, I love being surrounded by amazing buildings, I love that there are literally thousands of different cultures intertwining together in this very city I call home. One of my favorite thing about London is the museums! Its so rich in history, culture and I just want to live there. Yes, I drink A LOT of tea. Like, I’m kind of addicted to the stuff. Every morning, the kettle must turn on and I need to sip some good tea while reading/or watching bad reality TV. And there are so many expressions to choose from!

1. Bloody hell!
2. We’ve been rumbled (we’ve been found out)
3. It’s a bit taters in here (It’s a bit cold)
4. He’s telling porkies (he’s telling lies)
5. Feast your mincers on this! (look at this)

They all make me laugh so hard!

And, I was VERY disappointed that I didn’t receive a letter from Hogwarts on my eleventh birthday. VERY DISAPPOINTED! I’ve had to accept I’m just a boring old Muggle. But, I have a plan to infiltrate Hogwarts head quarters, but the stupid workers at the train station keep giving me weird looks when I ask where platform 9 ¾ is.

What inspired you to begin writing in the first place? When did you get serious about it? And what keeps you sticking with it when writing starts to drive you nuts?

I used to do a lot of role play games when I was a kid, and I would force my siblings and cousins to take part! I would get really creative, and I just loved making characters. That’ what really attracted me to writing—the characters. I loved reading from a very young age, and my love of reading translated into writing seamlessly. I got serious about four years ago. So as you can imagine, my first attempt at writing a book pretty much sucked because my plotting was VERY BAD. And I slowly learned that a novel is more than the characters! It’s important to also focus on plot, voice, pacing and make sure your writing is STRONG. Creating characters is still my favorite aspect in writing a novel, and its them that makes me stick to it when everything else drives me nuts.

You’re one smart girl and I’ve heard you’ve been getting acceptances from some top universities! How do you plan to explore writing while in university? What are you majoring in?

It’s the awesome geek powers that have come through for me while I applied to university. How else have I been accepted everywhere I’ve applied? So ignore what your friends/co-workers say. Being a geek is AWESOME.

I’m majoring in Human Science. I want to study the relationship between the biological and social existence of human beings, between nature and culture. This major transcends the arbitrary division between the ‘arts’ and the ‘sciences’. I’m also minoring in English literature, because I love studying great literature—It so much more helpful for my writing then an actual creative writing class. I’m preparing myself for a large workload, but I hope to squeeze in my writing. I can’t imagine a world where I can’t write.

Since writers are known to have quirks, what are some of yours?

I play scenes in my head like a film, and when a scene is upsetting, I frown or when a scene is funny, I tend to laugh. Only problem is these scenes run through my head while I’m in public, so I look like some psycho who is laughing by herself on the train or bus. And, I’m a crazy person who ‘talks to herself’ (well, according to my friends I am). They don’t understand that sometimes my character’s inner dialogue is running through my mind and I answer back to some of the things he/she thinks.

OH GOD. I am crazy.

I also love turning up the music on full volume and dancing like crazy. It pumps me up before I go to write. My brother wants to mention that I really can’t dance, and I agree.

Why YA? Do you have plans to branch out to any other genres?

Your teen years are full of first love, heart ache, angst (and mangst!), discovering ‘who you are’, dealing with ACNE (urgh), trying not to cringe when your parents give you ‘the talk’ and trying to be independent and your own person in this wacky world. With this and more, who doesn’t love YA?! I’m thinking of branching out to Literary novels, but my writing still needs to develop which will take years, but I’m willing to put the hard work in!

What’s your ultimate writing dream and where do you see yourself in ten years time writing-wise? Personally, I just want to have a book made out of chocolate :p


Ahem. I also want to be published, but I don’t want to be published to make money. I want to be able to touch people, like amazing writers have touched me. I want to be able to connect with my readers. My dream is to have a reader approach me and tell me the impact my novel has had on them. I would seriously die a happy person.

What’s your writing process? Do you adhere to the outline or do you just go with the flow?

When I started out, I was AGAINST outlining. I was sure it would cripple my creativity, but as you know I pretty much suck at plot, so it’s now important for me to do a vague outline of a plot. I stick to this plot arc: the normal, the rise, the fall and the evening out. I’m still working on getting that satisfying ending that makes you go, ahhhhh. Also, I now ask myself one simple question: WHY? Why is my character doing this? why is this happening to my character? It helps so much when it comes to editing. And you really get developed characters and plot.

Besides writing, what’s your favorite hobby?

I’m loving photography right now. I love capturing beauty in all its different forms. I also absolutely love the theatre! What I enjoy the most about the theatre is its spontaneity and the opportunity to lose oneself and become a different character.

What’s the most important thing in your writing? A gripping plot? Humor? Beautiful descriptions? Great dialogue? Great voice? Awesome characters? What do you strive to perfect?

Again, I really think characters can MAKE or BREAK a novel! I absolutely love quirky, funny, insightful and angsty characters. I especially love characters that I can relate to or are my ‘friend’ by the end of the novel. And, as I’ve slowly but surely moved into the literary YA section, I really do love beautiful writing. I love words that can make me stop, and fangirl squeal all over them. And, you can make your characters and plot so much better through the words. I absolute adore humorous novel, where situations or characters make me laugh. Great dialogue is a must, especially for YA ,I strive to make my dialogue authentic and honest to teens and adults. I need to improve my setting, because most of the time I’m so engrossed by making beautiful description and gripping characters that I forget to make a vivid setting.

What’s it like being a teen who’s trying to break into an industry that isn’t exactly teen-friendly?

With an industry like this, I truly believe that age doesn’t matter. One of the things I absolutely HATE is when a teen is told they write well, for their age. I’ve learned that my age really doesn’t come into it what so ever, so I usually NEVER mention it. This is why: When someone starts writing, a newbie writer, they are going to suck. Writing is a craft that really takes a lot of effort and TIME, so really its fine to suck. Now, a lot of people hold the notion that a teen writer is always a newbie writer. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Many teen writer have been working on their craft for a very long time. I don’t mention I’m a teen writer, because I don’t want people assuming I’m new to the game. Also, my novel/writing should really speak for itself, because in the end of the day that’s what really matters. When I throw my hat into the ring and try to get published, I know I’m against adult writers who are good. I have to be that good or even better. Many say that adult writers will always be better because they have more ‘experiences’ or they’ve lived longer. I’m going to tell you that’s full of crap. Adult writers tend to be better than teen writers because they have been working on their writing craft longer. So an adult writer who has been working on their craft for 6 years is probably going to be better than a teen who has been working on their craft for 3 years. For me it’s important to write well. To write great novels. Not write well for my age, but right well in this tough industry. Because there are no young writers, or old writers. We are all just writers.

Some Favorites:

Food: PIZZA!
Weather: Warm sunny days, with slight wind.
Movie: (this month, because it changes monthly) WHIP IT, SAVED! And 500 Days Of Summer

What authors have influenced you the most and why?


I absolute love his work! I love him so much I want to kidnap him and make him write me novels on demand (I joke, I don’t want to kidnap anyone). I absolutely adore THE BOOK THIEF, one of most beautifully written novel. And I love I AM THE MESSENGER. He is made of awesome and has influenced my writing so much. And who do I have to thank for showing me THE BOOK THIEF? CHOCO! ILY!


Seriously, has anyone written more awesome characters with a voice to boot? He is the god of YA for a reason. And plus, I am a nerd fighter!

Also Laurie Halse Anderson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alice Walker, Arundhati Roy , and SHAKESPEARE!

And lastly, the MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF YOUR LIFE: Quick! Friendly (and surprisingly English-literate) aliens have landed on earth, and they want books to read. What five of your favorite books would you give them to read and why?

First, I shall make the aliens dance for me!

Then I shall recommend these books. And I shall cheat by having more than five.

1. The Book Thief/ I Am The Messenger (Markus Zusak)
2. Looking For Alaska/ An Abundance Of Katherine (John Green)
3. The God Of Small Things (Arundhati Roy)
4. The Color Purple (Alice Walker)
5. Wintergirls (Laurie halse Anderson)
6. Hunger Game series (Suzanne Collins) – THIS SHIZ IS SO ADDICTING!

Choco: *loves all these books*

And in conclusion:

I also dream of getting my book reviewed by Choco. And, I REALLY want a book made from chocolate.

OMG. YOU HAVE TO SEND ME A SIGNED COPY WHEN IT'S PUBLISHED! And psst. I think I can hook you up with the chocolate books, if you let me in on the Zusak novels-on-demand plan! *loves Zusak*

Thanks Amna for letting me interview you. It was a honor, you're truly Amnamazing--your writing is beautiful, your photography is awesome, your taste in books is wonderful, and I <333 you!

And readers, don't forget to check out her also amazing blog Amna Writes!


dicussion: are some books lost in translation? + blog news

I noticed something a few years ago, after I put down Les Miserables three-fourths of the way through and never came back to it. After I couldn't get into Anna Karenina, never read past the 50th page of The Count of Monte Cristo, and quickly grew bored by Madame Bovary.

What do all these books have in common?

1)All have been translated from their original language into an English version.
2) I've never finished reading any of them.

Which is pretty strange, since usually I'm an extremely determined reader. I rarely put down a book once I've started it. I mean, I finished Twilight while wanting to rip it to shreds the whole time. But in all honesty, all the classical literature I've enjoyed or loved--whether it's Great Expectations, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, or Dracula--were originally written in the English language. For the purposes of this post I'm only including the older tomes. I don't think modern literature* should apply here since what turns many people off from classical books is the relatively stifled language, dense writing, and sometimes archaic terms that are mostly gone from literature published from the 20th century onwards.

That is not to say that originally English books can't be dense or boring as well; that's not what I'm claiming at all. Or even that English-translated books are always dense or boring. It's just that this is a consistent trend that I've noticed in my reading for at least four years running. I can make it through pretty much any original classical English text, but can count on my five fingers how many books that have been translated that I actually read and enjoyed. And it bamboozles me. It really does.

At first, I thought this was the case for everyone. I remember asking my sister after realizing this, and was quite confused when she told me that she actually thought English-translated books made for easier reading. And my Mom, (who grew up in China) told me that the classics she read when she was younger that had been translated into Mandarin were wonderful.

So I'm left thinking I'm the odd one out. And I've since avoided most non-original English books. I try again every once in a while. The last classical non-English book I've read was Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. I got one edition from the library; it was pretty boring and took me a long time to read. Then I went to my local B&N, read the first ten pages of the book with a different version of translation, and was immediately spellbound. The voice shone through, and the dialogue was great. On the other hand, the library-borrowed version had been pretty dull. So now I'm thinking that a lot of the times the translation falls short of the true greatness of a book. That some of the originality of prose has been lost in translation.

So, what set off this post?

It was my very latest English-translation reading failure: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I so wanted to read this book, but I couldn't read past the first twenty pages since the prose just did not appeal to me and seemed stilted, in my opinion. And I find it hard to believe that Marquez's original Spanish version was not absolutely beautifully written; just the book I was reading seemed to lack the magic, the feeling. I got that all too familiar feeling that I get when reading an English-translated text and stopped reading. Maybe it was premature of me to give up on it**, but it happens to me so much it might as well be a law of my reading habits:

While choco loves literature, she doesn't love English-translated literature.

I hoped this would be something I would grow out of as I grew older. But this trend of mine hasn't changed in the least. Even now, when I read more literature than I do YA, after I've learned to love literature after the ordeal of Literature Week. And I'm not attempting to pigeonhole English-translated books--I'd love to be able to love them. It's just that I'm curious why this applies to me, or if it applies to you too.

I might be the wrong person to be writing this post--I've never read an English version of a book and then the untranslated version to compare since I don't read more than one language. This is where I'm hoping that some of you bilingual readers will put me in the wrong; will tell me that the English-translated version of a classic is a much better read than the original text. Or maybe I'll find some kindred souls out there?

So, valiant readers: have you noticed any difference in quality between books originally written in English and English-translated books? Do you prefer one or the other?

And now the blog news:

In accordance to survey results and my desire to interview some lovely people, I'll be holding a series of teen writer interviews starting this Friday. I'll be inviting some very talented teens that are seriously pursuing publication over for a spotlight. Make sure to tune in*** tomorrow for the first post!

*I'm not including children's books either--but I have to say Anthea Bell is AMAZING. If you've read Inkheart or The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, they were both translated from German to English by Bell and were still well-written with a lovely voice.

I don't know if I've entirely given up on it, I'm just not that eager to read it anymore.

***or maybe this should be read in? link in? Hehehe.


review: the year of secret assignments

Book Description:
The Ashbury-Brookfield pen pal program is designed to bring together the two rival schools in a spirit of harmony and "the Joy of the Envelope." But when Cassie, Lydia, and Emily send their first letters to Matthew, Charlie, and Sebastian, things don't go quite as planned. What starts out as a simple letter exchange soon leads to secret missions, false alarms, lock picking, mistaken identities, and an all-out war between the schools--not to mention some really excellent kissing.

My Opinion:

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jacklyn Moriarty is chock-full of hilarious jokes, great characters, and a unique story. It's 340 pages long, and I laughed on pretty much every single one of them--which means this book is nothing short of amazing. Although I do read my fair share of humorous books, it's a rare moment when I actually do crack up out loud--for the majority of the time, it's more of a unheard chuckle that rings on the inside. So I'm pretty endeared with this book after reading it--I've never laughed so much from reading, ever.

The novel centers on three girls named Cassie, Lydia, and Emily, who have been best friends for years, and also happen to be in the same 10th grade English class. When their English teacher starts up a pen pal program between their school, Ashbury, and neighboring Brookfield High School, it's to some reluctance. After all, Ashbury students and Brookfield students don't get along; Ashbury's a private school for rich kids, while Brookfield is home to drug dealers and criminals.

But it's through this pen pal program that the girls are paired up with with three boys: Matthew, Sebastian, and Charlie. And although that's six main characters to keep track of, all of them are strong, distinct, and quirky. Even though it's been a few weeks since I've read the book*, I can recall every bit of a each character. So now I'm thinking of Emily's love of chocolate and horses and her tendency to misuse words; cute Charlie's supersonic memory and knack with cars; bad-tempered Seb's talent with drawing and soccer; Matthew's all encompassing hate; bizarre Lydia, who dreams of becoming a writer but can't finish a book; and Cassie, who's struggling through her grief from her father's death last year. It's not often that I love characters so much that I want to dive into their world and be their friends. And I'd certainly love to meet the real-life characters from The Year of Secret Assignments.

The novel is structured in a fascinating way**; and flipping from one page to the next, I wasn't ever sure what I'd find next. The bulk of it consists of letters from the pen pal program, but the writing is also interspersed with diary and journal entries, pages from Lydia's how-to-writing-guide Notebook (TM), emails, flyers, and announcements. But what I really liked was the nonlinear form--so unconventional, but executed so fabulously. The story doesn't unfold in a normal manner; instead, it's separated by terms (fall, winter, etc.) that divide up the letter exchange for the two main characters that are paired up (i.e. Seb and Lydia). The story picks up and leaves off at different intervals, but at all the same, it's fairly easy to follow.

The humor was definitely my absolute favorite part of this book. Some examples:

“I always think it’s funny when a teacher tries to be cool. I want to sit them down and say ‘It’s okay, you’re a grown-up, you’re allowed to be a nerd,’ and they will look up at me confused but also relieved and teary-eyed.”

"I will now conclude by saying that your mother has just tripped halfway down the stairs because she was wearing a single high-heeled shoe. It is a lesson in the danger of doing things by halves."

(Emilly with her malotropisms:)
""Also, I have seen on TV that you can get head transplants and it seems to me that it is a tragedy if you are bald and you don't get a head transplant."

It's hard to find quotes, because a lot of the humor is embedded throughout a scene--but this book truly is hilarious.

But as funny as this book is, it does have more serious undertones; in particular with Cassie, who pretty much broke my heart with her stubbornness and the way she was dealing with her deceased father. And the friendship between the three girls is just wonderful to behold; poignant, sweet, and even if it's a little-to-perfect, realistic. Above all, The Year of Secret Assignments has some pretty strong themes of love and friendship and loss, and the whole book is told in such an enjoyable way that it definitely ranks among my top reads in the past few months.

All in all, The Year of Secret Assignments is a lighthearted, fun read, and if you want to have a rollicking good time for a few hours of your day, or you just want a book to cheer you up, don't look any further. Make sure you have some time on your hands though-if you're like me, you won't be able to put this one down until you're finished.

I give it a 9.25-9.5***/10. One of the most entertaining books I've ever read, and like I said--I laughed continuously throughout the novel. Which earns a bunch of points and a you-must-read-it rec from me.

*okay, so I'm such a book-reviewing slacker. Lol.

**:::spazzes::: Am I the only one who loves it when I read books structured differently?

***Pathetic, I know. Hehe--I would put 9.4 but...eh.


daily dose (4)

Daily Dose is a meme hosted by Good Golly Miss Holly. It showcases inspirational and beautiful pictures.


review: some girls are

Book Description:

Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.

Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

My Opinion:

I'm beginning to think Courtney Summers is a genius. I read her debut novel, Cracked Up to Be a few months ago, fell deeply in love with it, and have raved about it ever since. So it was with a FANGIRL SQUEAL reverberating deep inside me that I picked up Some Girls Are. And I wasn't disappointed at all. More like shell shocked.

Not only is Some Girls Are well-written, the subject matter just hits the reader hard in the gut. In the space of one night, the main character Regina takes a fall from the school hierarchy and quickly hits rock bottom. She's been wrongfully accused of cheating with her best friend's boyfriend, and Regina's best friend is Anna Morrison: queen bee and meanie* extraordinaire.

The next day, Regina arrives at school to find that she's the target of a freeze-out. Which pretty much means her life is screwed. Or should be. Everyone is shunning her, and her friends go several steps further than that in order to ensure she suffers. But Regina decides that's she's going to do anything she can in order to win. So it happens that Some Girls Are kicks off with some epic backstabbing, lying, and conniving. And that's just the beginning. Vicious Rumors? Check. Violence? Check. Punching, kicking, pushing? Check. A personal campaign to ruin Regina Afton's life? Check. Just about everything short of torture? Check.

What unfolds in the next 200 pages is a disturbing rendering of high school and girl cliques; but the good kind of disturbing, if that even makes sense. What I mean is, reading Some Girls Are is like watching a train wreck--in the sense that the characters are thrown into some pretty awful situations. And as a reader, you just have to sit tight as Regina deals with pretty much every single imaginable thing that comes her way.

Because Some Girls are...mean. Very mean. And Summers bars nothing with this book; she doesn't hold back. I'd say this book is Mean Girls meets Mean Girls again plus ten times more harrowing, and with a punch in the stomach to go along with it. What's most remarkable about this book is that Summers makes every scene not only believable, but real. And I only have to say one thing: I'm glad that I don't go to Regina's high school. Because unlike her, I wouldn't survive a day.

But Regina, she's a whole another story. She's tough, she's strong, and she's one of the best main characters I've read in a while. She puts the simpering, whining, and weak female main characters so pervasive throughout YA to shame. And Regina Afton is an anti-heroine after my own heart. She's not good, she's not perfect, and in fact, she's pretty much despicable. She's just as bad as the girls that are making her life a living hell, and she doesn't trouble to hide it. But as with Cracked Up To Be, Summers manages to create a should-be unlikable character and portray them in such a way that they're completely likable and most of all, authentic: 100% real person and 0% unrealistic character.

Some Girls Are is a bit of a warning, a commentary on the extent to which some girls go in order to maintain their status in a clique. But it also holds a hopeful message: don't give up and don't let anyone treat you like crap.

And after reading this book, it gives me an excuse to declare my love for Courtney Summers. I love her because she's got this amazing writing style that is at once sparse in words but rich in meaning. Because she's got some of the most realistic dialogue I've ever read. Because her books are masterful and powerful and everything that contemporary YA should be.

If you want a great book that'll make you think, and that has a whole lotta cruelty against high school girls, Some Girls Are is your best bet.

My Rating: I give it a 9.25/10. Which means you need to get your hands on Some Girls Are pronto.

*Okay, a certain b-word would be ideal summation here. BUT THE CHILDREN! So, I'm keeping my language clean :)


in my mailbox (14) + whoah, 400 followers & nifty poll

Before your regularly scheduled IMM (hosted by The Story Siren):

See that puppy? Imagine that's what I'm like on the inside: Leaping for joy in the grass, tongue askew, and slightly crosseyed with joy. And hair streaming in the wind. YES, ME.


I JUST HIT 400 FOLLOWERS! *does happy dance*

*is in disbelief* I'm not sure how it happened but I am very, very happy which means CHOCOLATE FOR EVERYONE! You guys are amazing for following my crazy blog.

I'm not sure if I'll do a celebratory giveaway or not., which is why I have the poll located niftily at the right hand corner where you can vote 1) Yes, do a smaller international giveaway (most likely one book of your choice at the Book Depository) or 2) Hold off a bit and hold a BIG giveaway a bit later on.


And onto the real IMM post:

1) Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien: So, on the inside, there's a note from the editor that describes Birthmarked as "The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games." Which is about all I need to know in order to FANGIRL SQUEAL after it arrived on my doorstep.

2) Hamlet by Shakespeare: Oh Hamlet, how much I've heard about thou!

I mean, this is the play where quotes like "To be or not to be, that is the question" and "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," come from. *swoons*

I bought it because it's been assigned for my English class. Which I'm pretty happy about. Because usually, my English class never has assigned reading. I've never read a whole play by Shakespeare; even Romeo and Juliet in 9th grade was deemed "too complicated" for our little freshmen minds to comprehend. Ouch. We watched a movie on it instead. [sarcasm] Gee, thanks, Freshman-English-Teacher-who-will-go-unnamed. [/sarcasm] And then in 10th grade we read a bit of Julius Caesar, the comic strip, and watched a movie instead of actually, you know, reading the whole darn thing.

Anyways, I'm glad I'm finally reading something by Shakespeare and will no longer be a complete Shakespeare ignoramus.

helene hegemann: a fascinating case of plagiarism

I was reading the newspaper today when I came across an article about Helene Hegemann, a 17-year old German author who recently released her debut novel, Axolotl Roadkill. Hegemann (pictured at right) has been garnering major acclaim, and her novel is selling extremely well, at No. 5 on Spiegel’s hardcover best-seller list. Only thing is, she's been accused of plagiarism.

My initial reaction went a bit like this:

1) Hooray! A successful teen author!

I have read very few books by a published teen author that are actually up to par. A lot of teens can write well for their age, but a very small percentage are actually writing at a level that merits publication. I'm lucky enough to know some of them, but truthfully--most books by teen authors aren't very good. I'm aware this is a generalization, but great teen authors are an exception to the rule. This is just my opinion, and feel free to disagree. But I do believe that teen authors that are actually ready for publication will be featured in bookstores in the years to come. This is why I was excited by Hegemann; she's written a book that people are praising.

2) Oh no, not again...

I was immediately reminded of the controversy surrounding Kaavya Viswanathan, a 19-year old debut novelist from Harvard who wrote a similarly acclaimed novel: How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life. Unfortunately, this book was plagiarized and the whole situation turned into a big, but very fascinating train wreck. In this situation, the accusations were spot-on: wikipedia has the instances of plagiarism clearly documented, and the publisher was forced to destroy all copies of the book and break off Viswanathan's publishing contract.

3) What the heck?

Unlike Viswanathan, Hegemann isn't trying to hide anything. Once the accusations that she plagiarized a whole page, phrases, and ideas from the little-known Strobo by Airen surfaced, Hememann owned up to it . Only, she didn't.

And this is the truly fascinating part...

According to her, she's remixing literature. Wow, Hegemann, you genius! You pioneer of remixing!

Hegemann is so clearly not plagiarizing when she's lifting whole pages from another book without without crediting the original author, and taking lines from blog posts on the internet without crediting the author. Of course this isn't plagiarism.

I haven't read the book, but excuse when when I say OH YES YOU DID in response to her OH NO I DIDN'T.

To me, this "literary remixing" thing sounds like the perfect excuse. Under this oh-so-handy idea, Hegemann isn't copying and pasting into her writing, it's what she intended to do. Hegemann herself said, “I myself don’t feel it is stealing, because I put all the material into a completely different and unique context and from the outset consistently promoted the fact that none of that is actually by me,” according to the daily Berliner Morgenpost.

I wouldn't call not crediting your sources "promoting the fact the none of it is actually by me." To be fair, Hegemann's whole premise rests on the idea of remixing; the story revolves around Berlin teens who see remixing art as a way of expression. It's not the concept of remixing that bothers me; it does sound different in a interesting way--sort of like how authors include quotes at the beginning of chapters, poems from poets, etc to reinforce their own writings. Remixing sounds like several steps further than that, and don't get me wrong--I'm all for experimental literature. The only thing is, when you try to pass off other people's work for your own, it's plagiarism, pure and simple. And even the cloak of innovation isn't enough to make up for it.

Hegemann, didn't really apologize, either. I don't think she really thinks this whole plagiarizing thing is a problem; regarding the alleged copying, she said: "There’s no such thing as originality anyway, there’s only authenticity." Which I think is a pretty cool statement, only this seems to be inspired by her inability to face what she's done. I might give her some benefit of the doubt, only The Local has this in their article.

"For the first edition, she had not “fully understood” the process for acknowledging borrowed material and this had been changed for the second edition."

Somehow, I find it hard to believe that a published author isn't fully acquainted with the nuances of plagiarism. Or how, when her book was picked up by publishers, Hegemann didn't at least mention that some parts of her book had been remixed. I don't buy it that she didn't "fully understand", either. I think it takes the space of about one minute to explain to someone what asking permission to use a source means.

I mean, I know what plagiarizing is. Me, the 16-year-old girl who is about as far away from publishing an acclaimed, bestselling novel as it gets. The adults who are angry here are dismissing Hegemann as part of a generation where "cut-and-paste" is normal and where we just don't understand that copying without crediting is no bueno. And with this quote, Hegemann is trying to say that her failure to credit is due to her youth--due to her different view where remixing isn't anything bad.

And I say, stop making excuses and own up to it. It's not a generation thing; teens my age know copying is wrong, that plagiarizing is wrong. This fault here lies with Hegemann and nobody else--and please don't say it's because adults just don't understand your youthful artistry. I'm sorry, but plagiarizing is not art in any way or form.

And The Irish Times pretty much nailed her in their article:

"The young author admitted having glanced at the “Strobo” blog but denied having read a published volume of the texts.

Yesterday the publisher of the book based on the blog claimed it had sold Hegemann’s father a copy of the book via the internet."

Which to me, furthers my sense that Hegemann is not really pioneering anything; she's excusing herself from something she's to afraid to admit to.

And perhaps the most fascinating thing of all...

Axolotl Roadkill is in the running for a $20,000 award at the Leipzig Book Fair. The judges knew about the plagiarism controversy, and still nominated the book. So apparently, to some literary critics, this whole case of remixing is not only acceptable but worthy of acclaim as well.

And the worst part:

She's giving teen authors a bad name. So now there's Viswanathan and Hegemann, both in the spotlight. And that's what makes me angry; people aren't going to take teen authors, or teens trying to break into an adult-dominated industry seriously when instances like these are widespread.

So, what happens next?

I'll be watching out for this one to see whether the publishing deal falls through or not; somehow, I think not. And I'm curious to see if they're are other instances of plagiarism in her book as well. Read more about this brouhaha at the New York Times.

Helena Hegemann: teen plagiarist or wunderkid pioneer of literary remixing? What do you think?