Monday, May 15, 2017

Character Coffeehouse - Luna

Welcome to the Character Coffeehouse! This is a little activity that I do when I need to dig a little deeper into one of my characters. I decided to begin sharing them with you on a semi-regular basis, and I want to invite you to do the same! Pick a character - of your own creation or otherwise - and drop them into the Coffeehouse. What do they order? Who do they see?
Comment your creation below or on my Facebook page, linked here.

As she breezed through the door of the shop, Luna Lephilia didn't even need to think about her order. Latte, double shot, large. It was meant to keep her awake through yet another shift at the Medical Center, so it needed to be strong, but when no one was looking, she knew she'd dump far too much sugar in. By now, it had become routine. 

When she reached the counter, the barista knew her by name, probably due to the fact that Luna had spent the majority of her pay here. Without Carolyn around to care for, there were very few uses for her money these days. 

It wasn't until after she paid for her steaming cup of coffee that Luna realized she had forgotten to eat again. The little voice in her head scolding her for doing this yet again sounded like Eroyn, the way her conscience always did. She guessed it was that way for everyone. You heard the person in your head who you cared for the most. Or maybe the one who cared most for you. 

In her case, it was both. 

She didn't have time to sit and sip the latte the way most people in the cafe were. She wished she could perch in front of the tall windows of the shop and just breathe for a second or two before returning to her hectic life, but that wasn't to be. She wouldn't have been able to stand it, anyway. 

If one thing could be said for a person like Luna, it was that life without stress was no life at all. From a young age she'd learned to equate being busy to being happy, and that stuck. She didn't actually know what she'd do with free time; the idea baffled her. 

So she did what she always did. She shouldered her way through the heavy door, careful not to spill a precious drop of her beverage, and she went to work.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The Problematic YA Fiction Relationship

Ahh, young love. The only thing better is fictional young love. I still remember reading about strapping young men with square jaws, mysterious dark sides, and the ability to say just the right thing.

Chances are, if you were an avid reader growing up, you also fantasized multiple times about fictional hotties. And I held those literary loves very close to my heart until very recently when I started to reread some books I used to love.

Instead of falling in love with my past book boyfriends all over again, I discovered 5 types of crappy relationships that we are normalizing in YA lit.

The I-Don't-Deserve-You Relationship
You're just too good for me; I am but a lowly peasant in comparison to your brilliance... Blah blahblah blahblah. Having been a teenager who believed that I was never good enough for the people I was interested in, this absolutely infuriates me.
Why do we glamorize self-doubt? When it is already so hard to love yourself, why do we make it seem attractive to believe yourself inferior?
Exhibit A: Twilight. Bella and Edward's entire relationship was continually in distress because each party truly believed that each didn't deserve the other. This is not love, people. This is infatuation paired with possible mental illness.

The He-Just-Gets-Mad-Sometimes Relationship
I could rant about 50 Shades of Grey here, but nobody wants to see me get that heated so I'll leave it at this: red flags that in real life would hint at a potential abusive relationship are not sexy. It is not attractive to watch your partner lose control of their temper on a regular basis. In reality, it's fear-inducing, not exhilarating. Passion is sexy. Even anger can be an intriguing character trait. Unbridled violence is not.

The Love Triangle.
I get it: people love watching the brave couple navigate the challenges of love. And the forbidden is just that much more thrilling. I love drama in books! But this trope is worn out. Please, please, stop, authors. Challenge your characters. Put them through hell. Make them appreciate their partner. But maybe do it in a different way for once?

The I-Will-Die-Without-You Relationship.
So, yes, we've all been there. There's that one person who took over your world, who - with one look - could knock the breath out of you. Maybe you're still with them. Maybe you're not. That power in a relationship is absolutely intoxicating, and that's the kind of love I want to read about.
When the protagonist suddenly becomes a parasite who is completely dependent on their lover, I lose interest.
Even without the person you love most in the big, wide world, you are still a whole person. You are enough on your own.
Self love is sexier than any obsessive relationship I've ever read. And that's what I want to get from books. Do I enjoy watching characters fall in love? Absolutely. But I want them fall in love with themselves, first and foremost.

 The She's-Just-Complicated Relationship.
I'm looking at you, John Green.
Let's be clear: I love reading characters who make me angry, characters who are an absolute train-wreck. But I don't love when characters fall in love with other characters simply because they are "complicated" and they waste time and effort trying to "fix" or change them.
It's even worse when it actually works and every problematic behavior magically disappears from the power of LOVE.
I have never once seen this actually work on a real relationship.

Long story short... I'm not looking to read picture-perfect relationships in YA lit. That would be mind-numbingly boring. But when I do read problematic relationships, it would be nice if they were portrayed as unhealthy instead of being normalized.
I'm no expert, but I certainly know what I don't want to be in any of the relationships above.

So here's where you come in. What did I miss? Comment any problematic relationships that you've noticed reading!

Until next time...