writing

Is it just me…

disney hair twilight matcheddivergent

…or has the idea of love and romance been completely leveled by YA novels that everyone is delving into?

Not to say that I don’t appreciate, and in some cases LOVE them, but I think we need to take a minute to discuss the impact that these books might be having the delicate psyche of our pre-teens, teens, and young adults.

Much like the theory/meme about Disney and how it creates unrealistic hair expectations, I think most YA novels these days are showing young people who find “the one” or who find love at a very young age (Young compared to the average age of marriage in today’s society, which is in the late-20s for men and women in the US), which isn’t realistic. These characters are being handed a serious romantic encounter when they are in their mid-to-late teens (RE: Twilight, Divergent, Matched, City of Bones, The Fault in Our Stars, Shiver, Delirium, The Selection). And while it can be said that the majority of them handle it well (and in most cases have absentee or brainwashed parents that can’t or don’t complain), isn’t that sending a message worth discussing to the readers of these novels?

Has this idea of serious young love become popular because it is a lovely fairy tale that we wish would be true in the real world? That everyone could find their perfect mate and live happily ever after (and not have a sky-rocketing divorce rate). Or is it because YA authors are trying to become so far removed from the societal norm and change the views on love and romance? Or that normal societal rules don’t exist in a post-apocalyptic world? (I’ll be discussing love triangles in a later post.)

And what is the effect on the youth of today? While teen pregnancy rates have declined consistently in the last 20 years, how are young people viewing sex, love, and marriage? How is the media, not just television and movies but also books, impacting these ideas? Why do popular songs talk about women like objects and movies show a couple tripping into a relationship? Has romance gone the way of the handwritten letter and the cassette tape? An idealized notion that few partake in anymore. Are guys being told that they no longer have to try to woo a woman because there is always another waiting to take her place or they are somehow interchangeable? Are girls being told that they have to dress, act, look, think a certain way in order to keep a man? In these books, there is often a little romance, a lot of love, and heaps of “accepting the person for who they are”, but what does that really translate into when we take it out of the context of danger and death? I think that the medium of books goes a long way into trying to present the ideas of love and romance in a better light than many other parts of society, but still leaves something to be desired.

As a writer myself, these thoughts have called into question several plot lines, including my own, that I now have to re-read in a new context. I don’t think it’s a good idea to portray young people in such serious relationships that last for the duration of their lives. After all, isn’t one of the benefits of being young that you can date a bunch or even a few different people before deciding what type of person would be best suited to you? I know that I definitely enjoyed dating around when I was younger, and if I find the time to continue doing so then I certainly will. But as an adult, I know who I am and what I stand for, what I want and a general idea of where I’m headed with my life. Something that I definitely didn’t have figured out when I was 16, despite the protests that I probably gave to the contrary. And okay, most of these characters live in an alternate reality or desperate time or are portrayed as being more adult or grown up than their peers. But didn’t we all think we were more mature that we actually were at one point?

So here’s my advice for all the young people: stay a kid as long as you can. As someone who has recently entered the real world, i.e. paying for everything with my own money, working a 9-5 job, and constantly being exhausted, enjoy your youth. Have fun! Go on an adventure! Be with your friends (real or imaginary) and don’t be so focused on love, sports, video games, grades, or even bullies. Tell yourself every day that you are awesome. And better yet, mean it. Be a person that you would like to be friends with. And be the best version of yourself that you can. Because who are you are today is most likely who you will grow up to become and we need people who know their worth and help others to find theirs. You don’t have to have life figured out when you are 15 or even 19, and trust me, you probably don’t. High school and college are the times to discover who you are and what you are interested in; don’t waste those years, embrace them.

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Song of Myself

tbc

I too watched “The Breakfast Club” last night on ABCFamily and as always, some new thought strikes me while I view. I cringe and laugh in equal measure and even cry alongside the characters, re: Johnson asking about what happens on Monday.

This time, it made me reflect back on my own formative high school years and how often I judge the generation that is now in those shoes. What stories and secrets are hiding behind the smiles and the cell phones? How has the world changed in terms of how people relate since I was in high school less than a decade ago?

So when I saw this post by Slightly Chic, I thought it would be a good time to evaluate who I think I am and who I thought I would become back in high school.

If you had asked my high school freshman self where I thought I would be in 10 years (holy crap, has it really been that long?!), I probably would have said something about living in California, maybe in med school, maybe living in a house on the ocean.

If you had asked my high school senior self where I thought I would in 2014, I would probably have said that I would be married and working at a well-paying job and own a house probably on the east coast but not in my home state. I may or may not have mentioned kids but animals would definitely have been present.


So what’s the reality? Who am I today?

  • I have a Bachelor of Science in Management from a top business school
  • I am currently re-enrolled in school, after a 3 year break, to get my Master of Library Science
  • I do not have a high-paying job but am currently a GA which pays my tuition plus a stipend (perks!)
  • I am not married
  • Nor do I have any kids yet
  • My cat died this past December, a fact that I am still not over, so no pets at the moment
  • I am a blogger
  • I am striving to be a role model to young women
  • I have written (and edited at least 7 times) my first novel
  • I am seeking a literary agent to help me get published
  • I am an avid reader
  • I am addicted to CWTV, in particular Supernatural and The Originals (I miss Smallville!)
  • I seem to keep moving further from my home state
  • I have no idea where I want my first house to be
  • I am once again living with family (living with children gives you an interesting perspective on life)
  • I have an amazing support system of family and friends
  • According to Jung, I am now an introvert, although I used to be an extrovert
  • I know I want to teach college courses later in life
  • I might go on to get my PhD

So what does all of this actually add up to? Well I’m not sure. But I think it means that I’m simply human. And in fact, I’m very happy with my life. Being in school is a great opportunity for me and if I could get paid to go forever, then I would. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to leave a mark, I want to be heard. I’ve realized that there are plenty of types of love that can fulfill you, not just romantic love and that true friends are always there for you.

There is no right or wrong answer to who you are, because you are who you are. You can change that and become who you want to be if you work hard enough (but most people don’t put in the effort). Labels are only powerful if we let them be. Example: I was watching the Disney channel (hey, I live with a 10 yr old girl now) and a great Friends for Change commercial came on with Raini Rodriguez (from Austin & Ally, in case you are wondering) who talked about a leadership camp she attended and how their discussions on bullying and labeling really impacted her.

I love that so many young people are getting involved and trying to make a difference in the world. And I hope that it continues to be that way. And that I get a chance to do the same. This blog (and my twitter: kataweb416) are my start.

So who am I?

I’m Katherine (Kat) Webber, author, poet, dreamer, introvert, friend, caregiver, sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, student, woman, nerd, reader, blogger, writer, foodie, traveler, planner, and enjoyer of life.

Who are you? Who do you want to be?

(PS – I stole the title from one of my favorite Walt Whitman poems  of the same name.)

Is it just me…

…or is there something sincerely broken in society today?

We have pictures in magazines and on billboards that don’t even represent real people. We have make-up to cover up any flaws and make us look like a completely different person. And if just that doesn’t work, we also have photoshop!

The people in all of these pictures don’t even look like that in real life and yet we idolize and try to become those images to fit in. And don’t even get me started on when guys see their girls without make-up for the first time. It’s a total shock to men that most women don’t look that perfect 24/7.

I will give props to Melissa Murphy, in that her work is flawlessly amazing. What she can do with a make-up brush and some bobby pins is fantastic. It really is an art form.

However, I don’t think that men or women coated in layers of synthetic products should be our standard of beauty. Some of those women in the above article are just as pretty without make-up as they are with. Perhaps not in a magazine way but in a more wholesome way.

Not that there is anything wrong with make-up but people who can’t leave the house without it or feel “ugly” constantly without it, yes, there is definitely something wrong with that. Make-up shouldn’t be used to feel beautiful, it should be used to enhance your natural beauty and boost your self-confidence, not create it.

Sometimes I wonder if the Puritans were right. Wearing make-up is a deliberate deception to distract others from seeing your true self.

Liebster Award Nomination

liebsteraward

I am absolutely floored right now. I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by my new friend Real Girl, No Name! I recently discovered this talented girl and her 365 days of poetry which I am loving. Thank you so much for choosing me!

What is this honor you might ask? Well, it is an award to recognize new talented bloggers with less than 1,000 followers. And I’m humbled that someone thinks me fit to be nominated for this.

The rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the nominator and post a link to his/her blog
  2. Display the award on your blog
  3. Answer the eleven questions provided by the nominator
  4. Nominate 5-11 blogs which have less than 1,000 followers, and let them know they’ve been nominated
  5. Make up and post eleven questions for your nominees to answer
  6. Post these rules on your blog

 

Here are the 11 questions Real Girl, No Name would like me to answer.

If you had the chance to meet any real person (living or dead) who would it be?

This is always an interesting question and I think it changes every time I answer it. Today, that choice would probably be Edgar Allan Poe. I really want to ask him what that Raven was all about. Just kidding, but I would like to know how he died and convince him to tell me some stories around a campfire so I can be even more terrified to sleep in the secluded woods.

If you had the chance to meet any fictional person who would it be?

I would love to meet Acheron from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series. I think he is mysterious and fascinating and even after reading about his life, I still think I would enjoy a conversation…and perhaps a hug from this 6’7″ god.

What actor/actress would you want to star in a movie with you?

If I had to pick an actor that I got to kiss/do action scenes with, it would definitely be Jensen Ackles (For those of you not in the know, he is a star in the CW show “Supernatural”). If I had to pick an actor just to do a scene with, it would be Johnny Depp, because that man can basically play any part imaginable.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

I always struggle with this one. I’m a huge mint chocolate chip fan, but I’m currently on a maple walnut kick…which is very hard to find in the south.

What is one thing that you have never done and wished you could?

I have always wanted to go to an event celebrating a fandom, whether it’s ComiCon or a book signing or a movie premiere, I want to be a part of it for once.

What would your superhero name be?

Well if I could have a superpower, it would probably be teleportation. So I think something nerdy like the “Speed Reader” or “Lightning Librarian” might suit.

What is your catchphrase/ mantra/ “words to live by”?

It’s going to sound very weird, but my current mantra is “ain’t nobody got time for that”. And putting aside the grammatical issues with this phrase and the fact that it came from a Youtube sensation video, I actually think it has merit. Perhaps not in the way the original user intended, but I use it more as a “life is short, do what needs to be done now” type way. Sometimes, I put it to use ironically, but more often than not, I just say it because I need to get shit done and I can’t be bothered to waste time.

Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

According to Jung, I am an INFJ, which makes sense considering how much reading a good book can recharge me. And while most people mistake my outgoing personality for extroversion, it’s truly just because I care about people and want everyone to feel included and welcome into my life.

What is the worst advice that someone has ever given you?

I missed softball tryouts because I was in Florida with my family and was too timid as a freshman to ask the coach to be on JV. “Playing tennis this year will help you be more prepared for softball next year.” No, it didn’t. I actually hated it. And my coach couldn’t understand why I couldn’t master the game. (Truth: there is a level of control to swinging a tennis racket that there isn’t in softball and I didn’t want to learn it.)

What is the best advice that someone has ever given you?

In regards to studying abroad, it went something like this: “I know it’s far but if you don’t apply because of me, you might look back and regret it and I don’t want that to happen. If you apply and don’t get in then at least you know you tried, but of course you’ll get in. So when you do get in, you will decide to go and then you will be there and it will be amazing and you will look back and wonder why you ever thought this shouldn’t be a possibility.” When in doubt, always, always, always study abroad in college. Or at least apply. It will be an amazing experience that you will never forget. I went to Ireland for a semester and am so glad my now ex-boyfriend convinced me to apply at the time.

Is there any part of your life that you would do over again if you could?

Of course there are parts that I would consider doing over but the reality is that everything in life happens for a reason. Every decision, good or bad, every place I went, every person I talked to helped to shape me into who I am today and I really like the person I am. Another great lesson from my ex is that life shouldn’t be lived with regrets, regrets are meaningless and they hold you back. You can’t change the past but you can shape how it will affect your future. And that is infinitely more important.

 

Whew. Okay and now here are my nominees, in no particular order of favorites:

1) The Super Organizer Universe (For sheer awesome talent when it comes to organization, seriously, this guy should have a PhD in it.)

2) 21st Century Library Blog (Just started following today but stumbled across a great article and now I’m addicted. Especially since I am a MLS student)

3) The Book That… (Really great raw talent and lots of books in common!)

4) Hey, Library Girl! (Her book reviews and weekend in pop culture posts are my favs.)

5) booksandopinions.com (Thoughts of the day, fun facts, books, libraries, LOVE!)

6) Snippets of a Librarian’s World (Because I like her philosophy even though she is just starting out.)

7) My Journey to the Acknowledgements (So. Many. Book. Postings!)

8) the writer girl’s diary (This girl has it all: movies, books, music.)


 

And the questions they must answer so that we can better know them!

  • What is your favorite food?
  • What 3 books are at the top of your to-be-read pile (physical or digital)?
  • What’s better a highlighter or a post-it note?
  • Blue ink or black?
  • What is your favorite art medium? (i.e poetry, paintings, prose)
  • What is your dream job?
  • If you could be anyone, living or dead, for one day, who would it be and why?
  • Would you rather be able to eat anything without gaining a pound or get paid a decent salary to do your favorite hobby?
  • Who is your favorite Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks villain and why?
  • Would you rather be able to fly or teleport?
  • If you could be immortal (and not have to live off blood), would you choose to be and why?

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday

The blog “The Broke and the Bookish” posted this topic as this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: top ten authors that we own the most books of. So I’m doing my own version.

16-Sherrilyn Kenyon I own all except for the newest Chronicles of Nick book and over half of the Dark-Hunter series (I have read all except for Styxx, which is next on my list)

9-Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series here, both of which are amazing. I can’t wait for the next Anna/Charles book to erupt onto the scene and I really need to buy the latest two Mercy books.

8-Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and the Olympians (all), Heroes of Olympus (first one but I’ve read the others), The Kane Chronicles (read the first, own the second too), love the mix of myth and reality.

7-C.S. Lewis All Chronicles of Narnia. Nuff said.

7-Anne Bishop If you haven’t read the Black Jewels trilogy, get off your computer and go buy it. Or at least log onto Amazon and download it. The realm is spectacular with BAMFs all over the place.

5-Heather Killough-Walden Sexy werewolves that give in to their nature (not just fight it like superficial d-bags? Uh, yes, please!

4-George R.R. Martin A Song of Fire and Ice, obviously. Have yet to buy the latest one, but I did read the library version!

4-Cinda Williams Chima The Seven Realms series is amazing. I think I read the entire thing in the span of a week, ordered them all from Amazon and devoured. If I ever have the chance to reread them, I will!

3-Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games series. One is paperback…it really bothers me.

3-Quinteria Ramey An interesting set called The Forever Trilogy, don’t really remember what it was about except that it sort of involved an angels/devils theme.

I’ve come to the sad realization that there are so many books that I don’t own but want to, mostly Harry Potter. Yea, I definitely need to buy my own set of Harry Potter books. And there are lots of series that are partially finished, I also need to fix that.

To Publish Or To Self-Publish, That Is The Question

A hot button topic for a lot of writers these days is whether the proper thing to do is to find an agent and/or publisher and have them edit (i.e. rewrite) and push your book into the market or to go it alone and self-publish.

There are many literary agents (possibly) out there and lots of publishers (outside the top 5) but there are also several options for self-publishing that are far easier and in some ways, much simpler to accomplish. And in light of the Amazon/Hachette debacle, it seems as though find a way to reach the masses on your own might be your best bet.

There are pros and cons to both sides, not the least of which is marketing (because, let’s face it, publishing firms are already set up to take your book to the public). And it’s actually one of the most stressful parts of being a writer. Writing the novel or series of short stories (on a good day) is easy in comparison to figuring out how to get people to actually read it.

It never ceases to amaze me how lost art can get in business. And make no bones about it, whether you are self-publishing or dealing with an agent, the bottom line is well, the bottom line. They might love your book but the reasons why might surprise you. Often times, books that will attract high levels of readership are the ones that get published, not necessarily the ones worth reading.

And while it may sound high and mighty of me to say that, I believe that lots of things in today’s society are done to the best benefit of the lowest common denominator. “Fifty Shades of Grey” for example is not very well written but the fact that it is societal accepted erotica and fan fiction in one makes for a very compelling sell. And even though it began life as a self-published work, James was picked up by a publisher and became a global phenomenon.

But the business model of self-publishing just makes sense for a lot of writers who simply want to be heard or see their name in print. Especially if the chances of getting caught between a rock and a hard place (like Amazon and Hachette) and having your work held hostage might be the price you pay for following the traditional route.

Mystery Ending

(From the Daily Post) Now, the “challenge” part of this challenge: every day for the next four days, open your draft and add to/edit what you’ve already written to fold in something new. Here’s your progression:

  • Day One: start your post.
  • Day Two: add a quote from a conversation you had with someone today (an email, instant message, or text conversation is fine, too).
  • Day Three: add something related to what your childhood self wanted to be when you grew up, or a dream you have for your future.
  • Day Four: add a reference to something currently in your refrigerator.
  • Day Five: add something inspired by a song you heard today. If you didn’t hear any music, use something you read (and turn on the radio!).

 

In a society that consistently pushes us to be better than the person next to us and define that gap a little more clearly, have we lost what it truly means to be great? When we celebrate participation and don’t keep score at sporting events, haven’t we really started to praise mediocrity? There are students who overwhelm themselves trying to be everything at once and others who simply can’t be bothered to try. Some schools hand out A’s like they are candy simply because having a C is now seen as not average but less in some way. Coursework has gotten easier in some ways and more difficult in others. And those who want to learn are often throw into a system that can’t properly cultivate that thirst for knowledge.

For example, I had a conversation today with a young woman who didn’t know what an amended tax return is, and I should probably mention that this student also happens to be a finance major at a prestigious business school. If our youth are so unprepared to meet the world that they don’t even know how to file their taxes, let alone amend them if need be, then what has all of that schooling really been preparing them for? Schools aren’t teaching lessons on how to be an adult and act in the real world but rather they are being sheltered from what they really need to know in order to survive. Something as simple as creating a budget or filing your taxes should be a class taught to our students rather than drones of meaningless facts and equations that they will probably never use again.

I had a variety of careers that I wanted as a kid, most notably, I wanted to be a doctor. But of course for me, I had a specific type in mind. I don’t remember which book gave me the idea, perhaps it was “Toxin” by Robin Cook, but I decided I wanted to be a cardiac-thoracic surgeon. That is until I heard the sound of a bone snap for the first time. Then that dream died. Now, I want to be a novelist. Well a writer, at least. Plus I want my writing to mean something, to influence people, specifically I want to inspire young women to embrace who they want to be. I want them to celebrate what they can accomplish in their lives and never have to give up on that dream.

And one of the most important parts of being a writer is obviously the snacks. And the tea but that’s a topic for another time. In the quest to make a difference, you have to treat your body well and to that end, I went to Trader Joe’s today. Boy, have I missed that store. I brought my 10 year old cousin with me and introduced her to the magical world of organic and all-natural. And we bought chicken pot-sticker dumplings. And damn are they good. Definitely worth keeping in my fridge, or rather in this case, my freezer.

As it is now Sunday, I can’t remember any song that I heard on the radio on Friday. But fortunately, I am reading a fascinating book by David Sedaris. His views on family and holidays are highly entertaining. “Holidays on Ice” is hysterical yet odd at times. I read a story called “Dinah – The Christmas Whore” and I had to try so hard not to snicker loudly late at night. No idea how this story might tie into the earlier ideas on society and mediocrity but I’m sure there is a lesson to be learned in there. I am very much enjoying Sedaris’ take on life, his humor, although sometimes dark, has the ability to make you think about life in different ways.

I’ve also decided that I’m not going to bother to go back and reread or edit any of my thoughts from the previous days. I’m simply going to post this and let the world see it for what it is. Love it or hate it, it is what it is: the product of whatever I was thinking and feeling on a given day. So have at it.