Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Most Lycra You've Ever Seen.

I never did get around to a comic con blog. I was so intent on getting the YALC blogs out there, that I just kept putting it off. But now it's time to delve into LFCC and my first glimpse into the world of the comic con.

Now this is something I had always thought would be fun to do, and have contemplated going to America for it, but I'm pretty glad I didn't. You're talking a massive room, which unfortunately on the Saturday was not air conditioned, seventy thousand people, possibly not all at the same time, but there's a freakin' Earl's Court load of 'em, and then Lycra. Friend to gym goers everywhere, marathon runners and members of the world of cosplay. Man there was a lot of lycra. (I imagine that sentence said by Cilla Black - apologies if you didn't grow up in 80s/90s UK and have the joy of Blind Date - A lorra lycra.)

So basically you set yourself up for queuing for anything and everything. Ah, the British way. You queue to get in. Once in, you queue to inevitably not get tickets to anything to do with Stan Lee. Then you queue for other people to get an autograph. There are queues for photos with the top celebs and of course queues for something to eat, mega queues for the Ladies toilets and so on and so forth. You need to bring your patience with you, possibly sunglasses and paracetamol, as a day under those lights can fuck you up. You are also likely to be parting with a vast amount of money, so I suggest saving up for a long time prior to the event, especially if you're not content with photos from afar, like I was.

 Walking Dead and more importantly, guy from Sons of Anarchy. Whoop!
 We remember him fondly as Aaron from 24, but he's in pretty much everything that requires some sort of military guy. We love him! (The royal we, me and A of course.)
Now, I don't mean to be sad, but this is freakin' SUPERGIRL! AHHHHH! Love this film. Me and my Bro watched it innumerable times as kids. And her name is Helen. 

So I was quite content with a passing shot because at the end of the day, I'm scared of adults I don't know, so I definitely don't think I should try and strike up conversation with any of them. Besides half the people I can only refer to as their character names, regardless of the massive signs with their real names on. What would I say to freakin' Giles from Buffy, other than I love Buffy, I love Giles and you were in Merlin which is shit but I also love it. Isn't that just what every one else says to them, for the whole day?

Incidentally here is Mr Head, forever known as Giles the librarian from Sunnydale. 

So I went for the cheap option, of catching sight of these people, maybe snapping a little photo and just wearing small chufty badges because I had seen Captain Adama and Apollo from Battlestar, both sat next to each other. Okay, I'll admit, that was a rather large chufty badge. But £20 each for them to sign a pic. No. Sorry. I'm a self-employed, unpublished writer. A free snap and a goggle is enough for me. You can't charge me for using my eyes, thankfully, otherwise I'd have been well skint.

Father and Son back together again. The lovely Jamie Bamber and Edward James Olmos, which weirdly I do know the real names of. My brain does what it feels like. Sometimes it only retains characters, some times it retains real life too. Bizarre. 

Obviously, I have big respect for the people that go all out and do pay for these signings and meetings. I mean that is die hard fandom that I really don't think I can have. I love shows and I love characters but I also have feck all money and lots of other interests too. I also think it is great that these actors and actresses give up their time to go to the comic cons, but then let's face it they are well compensated for the inconvenience. 

One great thing about the comic con, is the costumes, or the cosplay as we must call it. There were some genius ones and some that just looked plain uncomfortable for a whole day on your feet. Some of my favourites are below in the photographs:

 Mario Kart
 Spirited Away 
Hitchcock's The Birds. This was genius!

There were countless Spiderman and Superman cosplays. The men really do dig their all in one lycra suits. There were a few Hit Girl, Batman and Predator too. The Princess Leia wannabees, scared the bejeezus out of me. I just don't need to see that much of another woman's body, irrelevant of size or shape. I can almost see your noo nah. It's too much. 

The stalls were teeming with goodies and most of them quite reasonably priced. We almost went for the Merlin coasters, especially the one with Merlin and Arthur on it. Beautiful. What more could you want? But then decided against it. A wise choice I feel. You could buy any number of comics, t-shirts, bobble heads, custom made shoes - which I have to say were amazing - cakes in a jar (yes that is a real thing), jewellery, posters, pictures, books, and strange flying objects. We resisted, but I can understand those who didn't. 

Now that I've experienced a comic con, I am glad but not exactly raging to go back. Yes it was nice to catch a glimpse of the evil Cersei Lannister, snap a pic of Hodor and wander past the original Blue Power Ranger, but this is something people with money and that die hardness about them do so well, and something that doesn't really give me the hard on it probably should. Granted I was mainly there for the YALC and saw lots of panels and amazing authors, but having the YALC within LFCC was definitely interesting. Lots to see and lots to make you smile - except of course the Frozen cosplay which made me want to scream. 

I can't leave without posting the other pics I got, including the massive, Hodor, the exactly how you expected her to look, Drusila from Buffy, and Teabag from Prison Break, who I have to say looked like he was having a great time. 
 Teabag. Ooo, he's such a baddy. 

It was a nice bonus to be able to see some of these people from TV and Film during the weekend which was mainly a bookish one for me, and big respect to the organisers, who to be fair did a fairly terrible job on the Saturday but learnt from their mistakes pretty quickly on the Sunday. The pull of these events will never wane, as people need to see their favourite characters in real life and they need to have the autograph of their favourite author. But for me it was like oh there's Hodor, for about a second and then it was gone. He's an actor who does a job and yes we love him, but he's not actually Hodor. He's just a guy with a vaguely interesting job. And I think because I have that rationality of thought, I'll never be the die hard fan typical of the comic cons. Though come back to me on that after I see Kate Bush four times in August/September, because I will need sedatives. 

I leave you with a final image from LFCC: the vehicles from Transformers. When I was a kid watching Transformers and attempting to transform my brother's figures - which were nigh on impossible - I never imagined they would look anything like this. 

I'm Optimus Prime

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day 2 of YALC - Sex, Crossover and Heroines.

As Day Two of the Young Adult Literature Conference at Earl's Court Two comes to a close, I'm going to try and keep the spirit of the event alive, with this round up of today's events. We're talking, more panels, more authors, more books and the most mentions of 'sexy time' ever. Leave your judgements at the door and settle in.

Today's queue was, not surprisingly, much more organised and despite taking us to the back of beyond, it only took 28 minutes, not the 58 minutes of yesterday. I know this because my partner and I had a bet going for if we would get in before or after 9.30. I said after. I lost. The prize was pride. Oh......

The YALC section today was buzzing, even more so than yesterday. And I think after the success of day one, there was a hum of expectation on the air, a little fizz of wonder and enchantment, of what YALC would conjure up today.

The day kicked off with a completely rammed book area for 'How to get published' with Phil Earle, Sally Green and Ben Horslen. I did hear the latter stages of the talk, but having been to several conferences and literary festivals around this topic, I was happy to offer a seat to someone starting out in writing, so they could hear from the guys in the know.

Then the next three panels, back-to-back were what I had been waiting for, and believe me, none of them disappointed. Just so many great YA authors on one stage over the course of two and a half hours, and some amazing subject matter.

Panel: I'm too sexy for this book. 
With Cat Clarke, Non Pratt and Beth Reekles.
Chaired by Queen of teen himself, James Dawson.

This is about the third event where I have seen James speak and every time I end up giggling my ass off. This was no exception. 

The subject: Sex within YA. The authors: acclaimed and extremely talented. The tone: pretty much as low as you can go. The innuendos: flying about like a tennis ball at Wimbledon.

From left to right, James, Cat, Non and Beth

Starting off with the simplest question of: should you go there? There was of course an expected and resounding, yes, of course you should. 'Some teenagers have sex.' (Cat Clarke) 'I think you should always go there.' (Cat Clarke) But what was interesting was the completely different ways that sex was handled in each of their books. Non admitted that her sex scene was particularly graphic, whereas Beth knew that her readership was often 12 and under and went for a more 'fade to black sex scene', a more romantic approach. Cat talked of revenge sex in one of her books but also insisted that 'the character still liked it.'

When asked how the authors get in the mood for writing a sexy scene, there were a variety of answers, but I think Non's excellently phrased, I just 'hammer it out,' won the prize for most direct. Cat mentioned that she had asked people on Twitter what songs got them in the mood and said she was creeped out by some of the tweets back, but that a 'sexy times play list' could help her to write those scenes.

Taboo was a word that came up a lot within the panel. But whether they were discussing why sex is still seen as taboo, or any subjects they as authors would avoid, the general consensus was that in YA no topic should be off the table. Anything that a YA reader is experiencing or may experience, should be out there for them to access in story form. Non marks 'fear' as one of the reasons sex is still a controversial subject in YA. And Cat raised an interesting point that sex in books seems to raise more eyebrows than sex on TV, as though 'books need to be good for you. Worthy.' Yet how many teens watch Game of Thrones?

All the authors gave a resounding NO to age ratings on books, and they all admitted they were lucky enough to not have anything strike a red flag with the gatekeepers, but that swearing and sex scenes can often cause problems when trying to publish overseas, especially in the American market. 

Finally they were asked if there was anywhere they wouldn't go, any topic they wouldn't write about?
Non and Beth agreed that religion would be difficult for them to broach as they weren't religious themselves and it was not the sort of book they would feel comfortable writing. Cat added that 'tortury stuff is a bit icky to me', but also said that was a personal preference, because she doesn't like those kinds of books or films herself.

James finished with the possibility that Asexuality could be the last taboo in sex? 

There were some good ones, but by far my favourite answer to: what fictional character would you go on a date with? was Cat Clarke's hysterical: 'Cersei Lannister because I went for a wee next to her in the green room.' Giggles galore. 
The term New Adult was discussed as basically being YA with added sexy time, and being more a marketing tool than anything useful. The authors gave some great recommendations for further reading within YA: Courtney Summers, Laurie Halse Anderson, Liz Banks, Leila Sales, Maureen Johnson and Dave Shelton. They discussed LGBT sex and whether there will be more coming through within YA. (Oh yes there will.) And finally they talked about violence and sex, where scenes that are graphically violent, often alarmingly so, are not even questioned, but a sex scene is met with controversy.

Lots to think about, and giggle about after this panel. But a really sensitive subject, handled beautifully within the hands of the Queen of teen, James Dawson. One thing's for sure, sex in YA is not going anywhere. And rightfully so. 

Panel: Crossover: not just for adults
With: Meg Rosoff, Matt Haig, Anthony McGowen. Nick Lake
Chaired by David Maybury

First of all I think it's safe to say David Maybury had no control over his panel, but with quick witted Meg often battling with bad cop, Anthony, he never had a chance. 

Left to right: Nick, Anthony, Meg, Matt and David

The great thing about this panel was that no one seemed to know what crossover is, or for that matter what YA is. It almost feels like it means something different to everyone, which I like. It feels like YA and crossover are just labels the book world uses to make it more convenient for themselves to place books and market them. Most of the authors agreed that, they write a book and some one else decides who is going to read that or who it is suitable for. Anthony on the other hand said he was quite sure that he wanted to be 'making sixteen year old teenagers laugh.' He had a very clear view of where his books were aimed. And Matt added that he had to make a decision when starting a new project because he has two publishers, one for YA and one for adult. 

Issues of book snobbery came about, and issues of swearing within YA, and a lot of losing track of the discussion and keeping bad cop Anthony silenced. 

Nick Lake made some interesting points about YA readers being more open minded, especially with regard to genre, whereas a lot of adults find themselves only reading crime, or only reading literary fiction. 

Meg Rosoff told us, 'good things happen when you blur boundaries.' She also outed Hamlet as a 'dithering teenager' and suggested that YA has an 'urgency', a fast pace that perhaps lends itself to appeal from wider audiences. 

A real clatter of personalities and again some big big laughs in this panel. Just amazing to see in the flesh, people I've been reading for years, people I follow on twitter and even amazingly that follow me back, and to hear them talk about their work. Well done to Meg for her attempts to reign Anthony in. 

Final Panel (for me): Sisters are doing it for themselves

With: Holly Smale, Tanya Byrne, Isobel Harrup and Julie Mayhew
Chaired by Sarra Manning

Yay! This was an all X chromosome panel, about heroines in YA, and it was fantabulous!

From left to right: Sarra, Julie, Tanya, Isobel and Holly

Again the emphasis was on variety. All these writers are women, they all write YA, but they all write very different YA and of course very different heroines. We heard about their favourite and most influential heroines from when they were younger, again very varied, and how if they influence their writing now. Answers ranged from Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume, to Stephen King, Anne of Green Gable and Jacqueline Wilson. Chair, Sarra Manning admitted that she always liked reading books about 'gobby' girls and now enjoys writing about 'gobby, mad girls.'

We then delved into how the authors get into their teenage stride - not much of a problem for 19 year old panellist, Isobel - but some interesting comments from the ladies. 

  • Julie said that no matter how hard you try not to, 'you always start with yourself.' She talked about writing for YA as 'working out something that you never quite solved,' almost as if she had some unfinished business with her fifteen year old self. 
  • Holly openly admitted that 'there's a huge part of Harriet that is me at that age', and that she essentially still feels like a fifteen year old inside. 

There is also an element of writing to a younger version of yourself, or even just something you would have liked to have read when you were that age, but it wasn't around or those issues weren't being addressed. 

  • Isabel said that her book came from a sense of 'real girl honesty' as well as being 'slightly fictionalised', but also that it wasn't too difficult to get back into the frame of mind of a fifteen/sixteen year old version of herself due to technology that has recorded her feelings at the time, so she can go back and read them and delve back into her younger self.
  • Tanya felt that her writing age was more about the seventeen mark, and she insisted that, 'I don't write for teenagers, I write about teenagers.'

Then we got onto the nitty gritty. What makes a heroine and can it be just one singular thing? Are heroes given as much criticism as heroines? Do you have to be physically strong or attractive to be a good heroine? 

  • Holly kicked us off with her take on bravery and how it doesn't have to manifest itself as the ability to wield a bow, have physical strength, or save the world, but that it can be 'brave in a different way.' She said it is 'scary to do something you find hard', no matter what that may be, and that is something she explored within her heroine Harriet.
  • Julie backed this up by saying a story should contain 'small victories [for the reader] to identify with', and that she also wanted her heroines to 'provoke a reaction.' She doesn't want to create heroines that are perfect. 
  • Tanya further supported these points when raising the notion, of a teenage girl not being one thing. She said it was the 'shades of grey' that make a character interesting. The 'mistakes and decisions' that make that character real and allow the YA audience to relate to them. Tanya also added in that she very rarely adds in physical descriptions within her books and tries not to use words such as 'beautiful' and 'attractive'. She wants her readers to conjure up their own image of the character and quite often their appearance is irrelevant to the story. 
  • Isobel aptly noted that male heroes are very rarely analysed in this way, but that it seems like female protagonists are often given grief.
  •  Holly agreed that 'qualities that are not particularly attractive need to be shown too.' She talked about character weaknesses and strengths and that is okay to be you, even if you are anxious and perhaps even self-destructive. We all have many sides to us and these should be explored. 

Final thoughts and comments from the panel:

Holly is 'happy to be underestimated. Always!'
Julie feels that within her publishing house she is 'taken very seriously,' as a woman, but that 'crossover can be a little sexist.'
Isobel hinted that branding can sometimes be a little sexist and there are definite areas of improvement for women within the literary world, especially YA. 
Tanya said that often men get the best, or just more choice of cover art, and that is actually a really important selling point. 
Sarra finished by saying she thinks women are 'taken far less seriously.'

So as you can see, lots of talking points to be continued beyond these panels and explored within YA, but the resounding messages to come from this YALC, are:

  • YA is not one thing. It is not rigid. There is room for expansion, exploration, and nothing should be taboo. 

  • No one knows quite what crossover is but we like it. 

  • YA writers, write for the story and the characters, not necessarily the age group. 

  • YA encompass a wide variety of styles and genres within it, meaning there really is something for everyone. 

  • A heroine doesn't need to save the world in order to be a heroine. It's the imperfections and idiosyncrasies that make a character memorable, as well as their dazzling good points, if in fact they have any at all.

  • YA is brilliant!

Thank you for reading. Normal Rants will resume as and when they happen, and thank you to YALC and everyone involved. An incredible couple of days and hopefully the first of an annual conference for YA readers and writers. 

Tired now. 


Saturday, July 12, 2014

The First Ever Young Adult Literature Conference. YALC

Well, no guesses as to what this blog is about. Yes that's right, I've been at the YALC all day and now I'm going to tell you all about it.

It was my first time at a convention/conference type event in this set-up, i.e all in one space, and it was slightly unusual being an event within an event. (The YALC took place within the LFCC - London Film and Comic Con.) But that just meant that when you weren't bumping into your favourite authors, catching a panel, or taking a workshop, you were dodging countless Spidermen, admiring the more zany costumes on offer, and probably trying to take a picture of someone from Game of Thrones, or Giles from Buffy.

There was so much to do and see, and despite having to queue an hour to get in - Early Bird Ticket, my ass - and once entering there being no indication of where the Book Area was..........the organisers were definitely relying on chaos to see them through.....the whole thing ran ridiculously smoothly and most importantly, I got tickets for the panels I wanted. Muhahahahaha.

The YALC had its own beautiful area, strewn with books, books, books and more books. There was a book exchange where you could swap a book for another. There were places to purchase books from the many authors appearing at YALC and of course, loads of others. There were people promoting their own self-published books and graphic novels, and there were competitions to enter and free stuff to be had. The freebie stations were filled with badges, postcards, posters, bookmarks, pens, wristbands and chocolates, with something for everyone and lots of them themed to your favourite characters and series. A brightly coloured bean bag section gave the opportunity to chill with a book and just absorb the sheer enormity of the whole thing.

 I have to say I think the YALC section was very well organised and it was only when the super crazy popular authors were signing that it became a little tricky to manoeuvre the giddy crowds. But that's to be expected when you have such gems as Malorie Blackman - Children's Laureate -  Patrick Ness, Darran Shan and Amy McCulloh at the same event. And actually it was fabulous to see the lines and lines of people queuing with their books. The power of the written word is stronger than ever, especially in YA, and I think everyone out there today proved that.

 I just loved this display. So simple and yet so perfect.
 Loads of wonderful books in a huge range of styles and genres, all encapsulated within the grand title YA, and connected by rainbow strands showing a diverse set of writers, readers and stories, coming together.

Oooo. Freebie station.

There were lots of interesting exhibitors and self published authors there, which was interesting. Go and talk to them if you are attending tomorrow. They want to tell you about their books and they want to introduce themselves. Just getting their name out there and on the lips of the YA crowd is what they want, so take a card and tell your friends and check them out.

First Panel: The End of the World as we Know it: The Ongoing Appeal of Dystopia

Okay, so kicking off the YALC panels was the Children's Laureate herself: Malorie Blackman. But not in English. Oh no no no. In Klingon, and in costume. Genius! Just honoured to be in the same general area as her, let alone hearing her master the Klingon tongue and talk about Dystopia and YA.  Accompanying her were two fantastic authors which I have read a lot of: Sarah Crossan and Patrick Ness. No surprises this one was a sell out! What a trio. 

 Malorie just wants to have fun!
 The Klingon Address
Look at the little lovelies. All three of them. 

So we learnt a lot from our intrepid authors. We were taught about the hope of the Dystopia - the whole world's gone to shit, but maybe just maybe, we can make it slightly less shit.

They discussed the idea of a Utopian novel as BORING! And I think we'd all agree. No one wants a fictional world to be perfect. No one wants a character without conflict, or a plot with no ebb and flow, no conflict and resolution. Not only is it unrealistic, but it is giving the reader nothing to latch on to, very little to identify with and most people would be asleep by page fourteen....if they lasted that long.

They also treated us to a glimpse into the future of Dystopia, because yes, Dystopia has a future and a brutally dark one at that, with perhaps a smidge of hope. Yes!

The Q&A brought up the usual age boundaries questions which I can imagine most authors are sick to the back teeth of. But their collaborative response was very polite and along the lines of: Kids will read what they want to read. If you try to stop them, they will find a way and if they are not ready for something they will stop reading. Also they broached the idea of ageless books, which I heavily agree with, because some people need or want to read down, but might be too embarrassed to buy a book with a specific age on the back. It's really important that kids and teens are not put off when reading for pleasure, as it is something to be encouraged, not beaten out of them by fear of bullying or feeling stupid, or feeling less than what they are.

A fantastic panel to kick of YALC in style and class.

Just a couple of quotes from the authors:

Sarah Crossan on age and suitability. 'They buy the books they want to read.' And following on from that Sarah discussed how a huge variety of styles and genres is integral to YA and it's readers, and that it is important this variety remains available to all.

Patrick Ness on age, made his thoughts very clear, in that he is 'against ageing on books.' He interestingly added that no matter when your book is set, past, present or future, 'every book is about right now.'

Malorie Blackman on criticisms or complaints about her books. She answered: 'If someone is not criticising one of my YA books, then I've failed.'

The authors then further cast their magic by sitting and signing their books for hours, as well as taking part in more panels. Such dedication to fans and general niceness.

Workshop: Finishing Your Book

I was lucky enough to be picked to take part in the 'Finishing Your Book' workshop, with Kim Curran. (You sign up for the workshops on the day and then if they are oversubscribed they pick names at random. Whoop! I got in.)

Unfortunately, hearing our lovely speaker was difficult as she had to compete with a microphoned and amplified panel going on twenty metres away, when all she had was her voice. It was difficult to hear everything that was asked from other members of the group, but I did catch most of what Kim was saying. It was quite a nice quick up the backside for me, as I've written a series of novels, and am attempting - and failing - to get them represented by an agent, but am also trying to move on to something else. Having had so many years in that head space with those characters and that world, getting out of it and fully immersed in another, is proving difficult. But Kim steered me in the right direction, told it to us straight, and gave the verbal kick up the backside we all need every once and a while.

  • Kim talked about Road Blocks as opposed to the fictitious writer's block, which is boolocks and a nice excuse for slight laziness or periods of little productivity. These are essentially excuses we make, tunnels of despair, and the millions of distractions, not least of all that pesky internet. 
  • She talked about skipping sections that you're struggling with, especially if you know what happens later. Don't just sit and stare when you could be writing a scene for later in the book. 
  • She also told us to know our endings. You have to know the goal, the outcome of your story and what that means for the characters. 
  • Kim talked about making a satisfying ending for you the writer and to not just tack on a happy ending. The ending has to fit the story, and even if it is dark and filled with despair, try and shine the tiniest flame of hope. Or if a nice rounded, goodies beat the bad guys ending, and all is well, then try leaving a, but.....

Panel: Bring Me My Dragons: Writing Fantasy Today

Yay! This was a class panel, all about fantasy in YA, with a quite fantastical array of authors. Francis Hardinge, Jonathan Stroud, Amy McCulloh and Ruth Waburton. 

A beautifully articulate group with lots to say and plenty of laughs. 

Even within 'Fantasy' each author was so different in their ideas, plots and approaches, again highlighting that diversity within YA and the fact that boundaries are being pushed, or abolished, and there is always 'room to play' (Francis Hardinge). 

Despite their differences in style and genre, they agreed on a lot of things such as morality within their books, that they would never knowingly insert a manifesto and expect people to follow that, or try to shape their readers' views. They agreed that views and opinions can be thrown into the books in order to address the reader with something to thing about, but then the point is for them to make up their own mind. 

The panel discussed heroes and villains and how they can often come from the same place and it can be a matter of a few small decisions that send one on the path to Villainhood and one to Hero or Heroine status. They discussed what YA means to them and had a few questions from the audience. This panel over ran a few minutes but it was well worth it. 

And to finish here are some quotes from each of the authors of this session:

'Know as much as possible about the world' you are creating. (Amy McCulloh) On world creation.

Being 'suspicious of other people's ideology.' (Ruth Waburton) On morality messages.

'I have claimed Volcanoes against tax.' (Francis Hardinge) On the joys of research and where it might take you.

A book 'it's never finished. It's a continuity. It's a beginning not an end.' (Jonathan Stroud) On when do you know your book is ready?

Fantastic speakers, fantastic panel topic and unfortunately my last event of the day, due to feeling terribly unwell beneath those lights in Earl's Court. The heat and light was oppressive and causing me all sorts of headaches and stuff, and so I had to pass on the final panel, which would have been Heroes of Horror. Gutted! But I did however, manage to give my tickets to some lovely girls that hadn't got any and I made their day. 

The other panels and workshops included:

Superfans Unite, Going Graphic and Re-imagining Famous Characters. 

Other workshops included:

Planning and writing a kick-ass YA novel, Starting to write, writing historical fiction, the art of blogging, and getting started with graphic novels. 

All events were full to bursting and I'm sure all involved will scream of their success. Thank you to all the organisers, volunteers, support and tech staff that kept it all ticking along nicely. Thank you to the authors, of course, for giving up their time to talk about their craft and to share the joys of YA. 

I'll be returning tomorrow, for more panels, more authors and books books books galore. 

Thanks for reading. I know it's not my usual rant-a-long, but really there wasn't much to rant about today. So many positives and so much amazing exposure for YA and it's authors.

Good night


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Most Annoying Things From This Week.........

It's been a particularly annoying week, for all manner of reasons, so without further ado, here they are:

Losing my voice after the Wimbledon Final when the person I'd been screaming for the entire time, didn't even win. You saying I lost my voice for nothing?

Okay. Fair dos to the guy, it was an outstanding match and the fact that Federer even pushed it to a fifth set still makes me go, what? And perhaps I shouldn 't have got quite so involved in a match where I had no clear affiliations, but still, to lose your voice on a Sunday night and have a sore throat and the beginnings of a cold........Not great. Not when I had classes to teach, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Ah, the Summer cold. 

Who else suffers from this shit? And I don't mean hayfever. I mean radioactive waste streaming from your nose. I mean every time you eat something having to endure a two minute coughing fit. I mean looking like a pale imitation of yourself - who is usually pale anyway - and generally feeling blurgh! 

Yay! It's the Summer cold. The most ridiculous and annoying cold ever. It ain't cold outside. I ain't cold, but my body is shutting down and craving hot Vimto. No! It's too hot for hot Vimto. But I want it. It's so confusing, and drawn out. It's Friday and if possible, I'm feeling more poo every day. Yay! Just in time for London Film and Comic Con and the Young Adult Literature Conference which kicks off tonight and runs all weekend. Ah well. I'll be taking my germs with me!

Not sleeping. 

Fairly explanatory, but no less annoying. For the past 10 days I have been waking several times in the night and often when it's 05.30 I can't get back to sleep and essentially just toss and turn for 2 hours before giving up. This is not helping the above, Summer cold, to disperse and is leaving me fuzzy and grumpy and unproductive. URGH!

World Cup

The one game I decided not to watch, in favour of a film, turns out to be the most incredible with 8 goals in the whole match. AHHHHHH! Mistake! So then I curl up on the couch the next day, to watch the other semi-final and am forced to read the guide book for Wisconsin - a part of our US trip for later in the year - in order to stop from falling asleep. Damn it!

Scooters and timing

So when I teach at 11.00-11.30 every Wednesday in your classroom and you never have the kids ready, which means I'm always late starting and finishing, because I have to get them out of the garden, and half of them don't want to come because of course it's sunny and they want to play outside; that's bad enough. But when you purposefully allow three members of the class to go and get their scooters out, complete with helmets and reflective vests at 11.00, so that I at first can't even find them, and then secondly have to cajole them into joining the class; you really are slapping me right in the face!

I then had to spend most of the lesson, keeping two of the children inside, like music class was some sort of punishment, instead of the fun packed wonder it is. Argh! Why can't they just have the kids ready for me the stupid arse cracks?!

Shifting the blame

And then even better, on the same day, I go to my afternoon school, and by some unfortunate coincidence I've arrived 25 minutes early. So I sit in reception and start to read. 

"Oh. The preschool are on a trip to the Science Museum, did (name of room leader) not tell you?"
Well no, but let's face it, you're the manager, you could have emailed. They'd probably had this trip planned for weeks. 

"What time do you teach them?"
Again, probably something you should know, as I've been coming here for 6 months now. 

"2-2.30pm and 2.30-3pm. then the Toddlers 3-3.30pm."

"Oh. Well you'll  have to do the Toddlers first and then maybe just forget the Preschool for today."

Are you freakin' kidding me? It's the last lesson in the term and for some of them, their last lesson with me before they head off to big school. You can feck off if you think I am not at least saying goodbye. 

Instead I reply, "Okay. But when do the Toddlers wake up?"
"Oh, well, anytime between 2 and 2.30pm."

So I wait for 45 minutes to teach the Toddler class which incidentally was wonderful. I was told the preschool would be back at 3pm and I said I would teach one big group so that none of them missed out. So at 2.50pm once I'd finished with the Toddlers, I set up for 11 preschool and did some paperwork and then 3.00 passed and 3.05 and 3.10, and I thought, fuck this, they've got five minutes and I'm leaving. 

Well lo and behold, they arrive at 3.15. and the teachers are like, "Oh have you been waiting for us?"
"Yes. I have. No one told me you were going to the museum." Then I said, "Can I take the music children now, for fifteen minutes?" You'd have thought I'd asked if I could urinate on the two of them. I backed it up with, "This is the last lesson in the term, so can I please take them for fifteen minutes?"

So I did and of course we had a lovely lesson, if somewhat short, but I was freakin' angry for the rest of the day. Not one of them apologised for the hour I'd been hanging around doing sod all. 

I hate being messed around and having my time wasted. 

Not being able to train

Again fairly self-explanatory. But I have one of my charity runs next week and I have now missed almost a week of training, due to the afore mentioned, Summer f-ing cold.  I'll probably get a shit time now. 

Crossing point etiquette

Don't you hate it when you're at a pedestrian crossing, and when you start to cross, the person on your left, tries to cut across you, as they are crossing and going off to the right? (or vice versa) I just think, stand to the right if you're going to the right. And also, rather than cut me off, just bow out behind me. Happens all the time. High on the annoyance factor. The amount of people that have almost tripped me up, or have in turn made me almost trip them up. Come on people, it's not difficult!

Unproductive Writer Status

Yes I have reached UWS - Unproductive Writer Status. It sucks. I can't seem to pick myself up after blatantly being told my plot won't sell. I was also told my writing was great, but when you've been writing and working on something for 5 years, you don't really want to hear that no one will ever buy it. 

Ah well. Maybe this weekend at the YALC - Young Adult Literature Conference - I'll get a little inspiration, or at least some renewed fervor or something. Come on successful authors, bestow your wisdom. 

On a happier note

As research for an existing book idea, that I have started writing, but needs a lot of work, I watched about 8 episodes from Series One of 'Round the Twist.'

Have you ever, ever felt like this?
Have strange things happened?
Are you going round the twist?

Ah, alas, I went round the twist years ago, but this did give me a little surge of youthful nostalgia, the best TV theme tune ever, and plenty of giggles. And yes, very loosely, it was research. Think light houses and beaches and slight craziness. 

No cereal

Damn it. No cereal for breakfast. I hate it when I forget to buy the damn stuff. Now I'll have to have toast and jam. Boo! 

Okay, I think that was the last annoyance, or the last one I'm going to rant to you guys about. Hopefully on Sunday, or early next week I'll be able to give you a nice run down of the London Film and Comic Con, and the Young Adult Literature Conference. I should be seeing some incredible Authors, as well as TV and Film personalities. Am so giddy. Captain Obama and his Son - Apollo - from Battlestar are going to be there, as well as Supergirl. Fook yeah! Me and my brother used to watch the old Superman and Supergirl films all the time, you know, taped of the tele. He he. Cersei Lannister is attending, as well as legend Stan Lee and hundreds of others. Not that we'll probably even see most of them. But I'll snap what I can and report back. 

Cheers for reading and sending the total Rants views over 12,000. You are all amazingly loyal to keep reading after over 180 blogs, and I can't quite thank you enough. Eww. Gone all soppy now. Enough. 
Bugger off.