Paper Valentine

I have a story for ya’ll. It goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (Which was really just last summer on the plaid couch in my living room) I discovered this website. It was called the Merry Fates, and it was run by three authors. On Mondays, they posted a short story and on the last Monday of every month the story was from a Guest Blogger (I read this as: Foreign Knight from the Land of YA). Sometimes there was a common theme. Sometimes there wasn’t.

Well, around this time my parents started spending a lot of time away from the house. I was alone a lot, sitting on the plaid couch with my laptop, from when I dragged myself out of bed until I was coaxed up to bed (unless I had rehearsal, which in the context of my story, should be read as BATTLE TRAINING!!!!). I was homeschooled, and a trip to the library meant talking my parents into driving me. I burned through books like they were water and I was the parched desert ground. It was really, really hard to always have something interesting to read.

And then I discovered the aforementioned (I love, love, love that word) Merry Fates site. I think I read through years worth of short stories in a few months. I had to create a new folder to hold all of my bookmarks. Every Monday, I stalked the webpage until the new story appeared. Earlier this year, the website stopped because the authors were too busy. They have an anthology coming out in September, the Curiosities, and you should read it.

But this isn’t about that. It’s about when I realized that these wonderful authors actually have real books. Out. In Barnes and Noble. Sometimes in my little town library.

The Amazing Brenna Yovanoff, whose book The Replacement may not have about ten-thousand sticky notes in it right now, is coming out with a new book. This is it’s cover:

I think I might have drooled a little. It’s so beautiful and creepy.

The Amazing Brenna Yovanoff (who only might be some kind of sorceress in this story I’m telling) is holding a contest for Advanced Reader Copies of this book. You can see the details of the contest here: http://brennayovanoff.com/2012/08/21/paper-valentine-arc-contest/

And they all lived Happily-Ever-After, and only a few of the Trusty Knights of the Slightly Chipped Kitchen Table (hey, it’s not my fault. The bird did it) were eaten by the killer rabbit.

Love,
Sarah (who may or may not be King Arthur in this story. Because hey, her story, her rules. And she’d look pretty good in a crown :) )

Doing Hard Things

Over on the NaNoWriMo forums, someone posted in the Teens Age Group that people seem to think kids these days are lazy, and watch TV and play video games all days. That we don’t take risks, do crazy things. Inspired by a book* about teens doing hard things to defy expectations, they created this thread. People posted lists of things that they’ve done recently that are hard, and things they want to do. And I think that is excellent. So I took my list, and I’m giving it to you guys.

(This book, Doing Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, is specific to Christians, and doing hard things for God. I’m not linking to it because to me, it’s better to do hard things for yourself, for your own joy in it. This is just my opinion, but its also my blog, so I assume you kind of want to be subjected to my opinion)

I am Sarah, I’m fourteen years old.
Some of the hardest things I’ve done in the past year-ish:
-Started at a tiny private school where there are 42 other kids in my entire grade, who’ve been together for years. Two months into the school year. And I’ve been homechooled for six years.
-Started auditioning at two professional theaters, for the first time instead of my little community theater. I only have gotten into shows at one, but I’m determined to get into the other.
-Volunteered at my local library, and at a soup kitchen.
-”Buddied” with two third grade girls in a public school, one from Puerto Rico and one from Saudi Arabia, neither of them speaking much English.
- Went to a writers conference, two thousand miles away from home, knowing no one there. The average age of participants seemed to be around sixty-five. I was the youngest.
-Standing up in front of those said wiser writers (not to mention two editors, five agents, and various authors) and reading my own work. I am a short person. It took them about five minutes to move the microphone down low enough.
-Written 50k in a month. But that’s easy now for all us NaNo Kids :D

Hard Things I Want To Do:
-Learn to play the piano
-Learn to draw
-Write 50k in a month during school (actual school). With a forty-five minutes commute and three hour play practice
-Find a writing buddy
-Put effort into making friends. People my age, in large group, terrify me. They already have friends and people to hang out with, and I’m this strange, tiny girl who writes on her hands and is constantly singing. What if they don’t like me?
-Figure out how to buy nice clothes. This is an art form, and I have yet to master it.
-Sprint for long distances. Recently, I learned that endurance for dancing for long periods of time is totally different from endurance for running for long periods of time. I can dance, hard, for more than an hour. I can’t sprint a mile.

What hard things have you done?

YA Highway 3rd Anniversary Giveaway!

YA Highway, a pretty awesome website that I follow, blogs about writing, books, and publishing. Today is their third birthday, and they are hosting a huge giveaway. And I mean, HUGE. The grand prize is a Nook Simple Touch or a Kindle Touch, and three free ebooks. They are also giving away 51 books/ARC (advanced reader copies of books that aren’t out yet). Yeah. 51!

And for all you writers, the great people of YA Highway are giving away several 3-page manuscript critiques. By authors. Like Kody Keplinger and Kristin Hubbard.

You have to follow their blog to enter, but I think it’s worth it :)

Here is a link: http://www.yahighway.com/2012/07/ya-highways-3rd-annual-anniversary.html
Go crazy.

Love,
Sarah

P.S. I’d love to hear from any of you winners out there in the comments!

Another Advice-y Question (I feel terribly popular)

From Adriana:
Awsome Sarah! Good luck with your writing, im a great fan! Haha, you know your last entry you posted? You didnt mention how to get followers and comments, please answer,
Bye!

I’ve been in Wyoming (which is pretty much miles and miles of blue sky and sage brush and mountains. If I could marry Wyoming, I would. But more on that later) and so the internet access hasn’t been great and it’s taken me a while to see this.

But to the question:

I really, really want to give a deep, profound answer to this. Something like: if you sacrifice a goldfish in the light of the full moon while drinking chocolate milk and standing on your head, you will wake up to millions of devoted followers leaving candy on your doorstep and so many comments you have to disable the ‘approve’ thing because you just don’t have time to moderate comments. You, instead, have to bask in your own awesomeness and blog.

Sadly, this is not the reality. There is not actually a formula for getting comments and followers (I’m not actually sure how to get followers on WordPress. If there’s a nice little button for it, I haven’t looked). What’s worked for me in terms of people commenting and reading, is to blog about things people find interesting and answer reader questions. People comment if they like something, or want to know more. I try to give you all content that you’ll like (hopefully, fingers crossed) and reliably answer questions. That’s worked for me.

If you have a lot of time on your hands, I suggest finding other blogs with similar content or themes to yours and commenting there (usually, your name will be a link back to your blog), or participating in blog carnivals or guest blogging (and hosting guest bloggers). The more you build a platform, the more people will be aware of your blog. And, hopefully, want to read it. And follow it. And comment on it.

I hope this helps!
Sarah

How I Sort of Am A Writer Now (Also, Chocolate)

Well, I am officially a writer. A few weeks ago I submitted a short story I wrote to the awesome YARN (an online literary magazine). I was pretty sure I was going to get a form rejection. I’ve never gotten a form rejection before, and I was kind of excited about it, because being rejected is part of being a writer. I am determined to fulfill all of the writing requirements.
Except, I didn’t get a form rejection.
I got an email from Kerri Majors, the founder and fiction editor of YARN, accepting my story for publication. Que much screaming and bouncing. Also, chocolate.
We did some edits (when I got my very first editorial document from someone not related to me, there was also a lot of screaming and bouncing). I sent a picture of myself and a bio. We had to sign a permission form. I was kind of thinking this was going to be a long process.
Then I get this email from Kerri Majors: I got the permission slip today and posted your story! http://yareview.net/2012/06/cornflower-blue/
I stared for a very long time at that sentence before I clicked on the link.

Some backstory: I wrote Cornflower Blue over March break. On the bus home from school before break (my bus ride is around 45 minutes long, and kind of awesome. The bus driver occasionally gives us chips and we talk about the meaning of life and the probability of demons and stuff) we were talking about how different people think. In images, in words, in numbers. I got to thinking about how I associate things with words and feelings, and (while staring at algebra homework) how some people might associate things with numbers. And if people associated things with numbers – because I couldn’t write a story about that – if people who paint a lot associate things with colors. And so Cornflower Blue was born.

In the real world:
I clicked on this link: http://yareview.net/2012/06/cornflower-blue/
And it was BEAUTIFUL.
MY story, all professional and nice looking on a website. With pictures. Very pretty pictures. There was much screaming, bouncing, and squeeing after this.
Not only that, but the support and excitement from my friends and family is kind of overwhelming. My heart is bursting with happiness :)

So, what I’m really trying to tell you is: even if your pretty sure you’re going to get a form rejection, try anyway. You might just be accepted (and get pretty pictures too).

Love,
Sarah

P.S. This is a cornflower. It is my favorite color in the whole entire world.

P.P.S I just ate a very good chocolate brownie granola bar. If you’ve put up with me this long, you deserve one.

Answering Questions (It Makes Me Feel Popular)

I got TWO questions from my last post. TWO. This makes me feel popular and also sort of love, so I have decided to be a good little blogger and actually answer them. I am insanely proud of myself for this :)

Questions #1:
Mel April 17, 2012 at 2:17 PM
Okay, this is my last question. How can I convince my mom that blogging is good?

Because blogging IS good. It’s a creative way to express yourself. It gives you a voice. Both of these things are basic Human Rights, or so says my Justice class. It also helps a lot with writing and grammar skills, which you kind of needs for high school and college. And it’s fun (as long as you don’t give people your phone number and address and stuff. Then it becomes un-good and you move to Mexico and change your name to Juanita, and all of those people who lecture you about Internet safety at school can give you major “I Told You So”s. There is only shame on this path.) So: blogging is a useful skill, if used only for good, much like a superpower.

Anonymous April 19, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Hi, I really liked that you answer your bloggers questions. I have a blog myself(I made mine on blogspot.com) and the only trouble I have is that the only followers I have are my family. How do I get more followers? Btw I followed your blog.

So, Anonymous, thanks for following me :) Sadly, I’m not really sure how to get followers. People just post comments on my blogs and I’m like, “Wow. Another persons knows I exist. Cool” and then I go back to listening to Paramore and reading short stories. But I’ll tell you how I find other people’s blogs. First, I usually look for interesting things. You’re blog is “The world through the eyes of an 11 year old nerd”, so if I was looking for that I would Google “11 year old nerd blog”. You’re page comes up second, which is good. If people were looking they could find you. But I suggest looking for followers. Comment on other blogs and forums with a similar audience to get people to know you. Participate in contests or blog carnivals. And update a lot, because no one likes a blog no one ever updates. Good?

Thanks for your questions. Here is a picture of a cute bunny to reward you for putting up with my rambling:

How I Made My Blog

So, today I noticed this pending comment from Mel:
How did you create this blog? I really want to make one! :)
I’ve gotten this question a few times, usually form other kids who like the idea and want to make their own blogs. Blogging is good :)
There are three ways to make a blog that I know of. One is an Easy Way, one is a Mostly Easy Way and one is a Very Hard Way. I made mine the Very Hard Way. My Dad has a network of websites where he blogs about sports. I was a bored homeschooler who talked too much when he was trying to get his work done, so we came to the general conclusion that I should have a blog to widen my ranting audience :) So we went to GoDaddy.com and bought the domain name BlogsByKids.com. You have to have an account to buy a domain name, and it costs actual money. After a period of time the domain expires and you can renew it or someone else can buy it. Once you have a domain name, you have to download WordPress onto the domain (otherwise it’s just an empty url with advertisements). This is where I get a little unsure, because my Dad mostly set this up. But I’m pretty sure you have to pay for WordPress too and it takes FOREVER to download. Then you have to set up an account and make a tagline and categories and actually write (which is a lot harder then it sounds). And update. It’s hard to remember to update.
That, my friends, is the Very Hard Way

The Easy Way is going over to Blogger. Blogger is a tool on Google, so you have to have a Google account (and, you know, use the browser) to use it. You sign in. You pick a design. There are instructions. You start writing. Really, really easy.

The Mostly Easy Way is on LiveJournal. It’s really easy to make an account (as long as you’re thirteen or older). Actually figuring out how to make a blog is harder, once you’re on there. The instructions can be confusing and I have a hard time changing designs, but its free, attached to a community and generally pretty simple if you don’t mind spending time figuring it out.
Capiche?
Love,
Sarah

Wanderlove Giveaway

So, over on YA Highway there is a HUGE giveaway for the release of Kristin Hubbard’s Wanderlove. Wanderlove is about Bria, a girl who goes to Central Europe to re-discover who she really is. It’s about relationships and love and art. By entering the form at the bottom of the post (not this one, the one on YA Highway) you have the chance to win one of 26 great prizes.
They are:
“10 signed prints of WANDERLOVE illustrations
(if you have a copy of the book, you can choose your favorite drawing! or, I can choose for you)
PLUS
A handmade Mayan string bracelet from Guatemala
PLUS
Signed Wanderlove & Like Mandarin bookmarks.

3 handmade Central American pocket sketchbooks
(I will draw a butterfly and leave a note for you inside)
PLUS
A Mayan bracelet
PLUS
Signed Wanderlove & Like Mandarin bookmarks.

3 signed paperbacks of LIKE MANDARIN
PLUS
Signed Wanderlove & Like Mandarin bookmarks.

10 Mayan bracelets
PLUS
Signed Wanderlove & Like Mandarin bookmarks.”

Awesome, right? So you can sign up here if you’re interested. And even if you’re not, Wanderlove is worth a look on Amazon or your local bookstore, anyway. Best of luck!
Love,
Sarah

Sarah’s List of Awesome Books 2011

Behold, these are the books that may or may not have come out this year that I love. Read them. Hate them. Hate me for loving them. Love me for loving them. I don’t care.

1. Reckless by Cornelia Funke. Dark fairy tales and a boy whose name is Jacob. Oooh la la. Here the link to it’s Amazon page, where you can read reviews and an excerpt: http://www.amazon.com/Reckless-Cornelia-Funke/dp/0316056073/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322850887&sr=1-1
2. The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy (Shiver, Linger, Forever) by Maggie Stiefvater. The best bittersweet love story I have ever read. I love Same so much :) Amazon page is here for the first book, you can easily find the others from there: http://www.amazon.com/Shiver-Wolves-Mercy-Maggie-Stiefvater/dp/0545123275/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322852806&sr=1-1
3. Divergent by Veronica Roth. Mmm. Great, strong heroine and awesome dystopian setting. I can’t wait for Insurgent. Amazon page is here: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_5?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=divergent&sprefix=diver
4. The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff. I didn’t know this existed until I found the Merry Fate short stories. Half-angel/demon love story. Awesome beginning, alright middle, and pretty awesome ending (though I mostly ignore the epilogue). Amazon page here: http://www.amazon.com/Space-Between-Brenna-Yovanoff/dp/1595143394/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322853291&sr=1-1
5. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. It’s a classic. I love it to pieces.
6. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Because it’s just awesome.
7. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Much buzz about this because of the upcoming movie. Can’t wait for it! Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Games-Suzanne-Collins/dp/0439023521/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322853010&sr=1-1

Love and much reading,
Sarah