Games & Best Friends Featuring Anna Priemaza

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Priemaza, author of Kat and Meg Conquer the World releasing November 2017 from HarperTeen. This is a book I’ve been excited for and I was even more thrilled when Anna agreed to talk with me about the book. She raises some really strong points about friendship and identity.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Kat and Meg Conquer the World:

33877998Kat and Meg couldn’t be more different.

Kat’s anxiety makes it hard for her to talk to new people. The only place she feels safe is in front of her computer, playing her favorite video game.

Meg hates being alone, but her ADHD keeps pushing people away. Friends. Her boyfriend. Even the stepfather who raised her.

But when the two girls are thrown together for a year-long science project, they discover they do have one thing in common: their obsession with the online gaming star LumberLegs and his hilarious videos.

Meg’s pretty sure this is fate. Kat doesn’t know how to deal with someone who talks faster than she thinks. But if they can stick together and stay out of their heads, they might figure out how to help each other—and build the kind of friendship Kat never knew she wanted and Meg never believed she’d find.

Q1: Where did the idea for Kat and Meg Conquer the World come from?

Anna: When I’m brainstorming a book, I don’t think about plot, I think about people. My ideas notebook is full of characters and their relationship to each other. Kat and Meg Conquer the World stemmed from the concept of best friends who are opposites.


Q2: Did you grow up playing video games? If so, what did you love to play and on what gaming system?

Anna: I owe everything I am to the computer game Math Rabbit, which I played for hours and hours and hours when I was a kid. You don’t know joy until you’ve saved up enough e-tickets to buy the rollerskating poodle from the prize tent.

Also:

Gameboy – Super Mario Land, Kirby’s Dreamland, Yoshi, Rolan’s Curse, Tetris

N64 – MarioKart, Smash Brothers, Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Computer – Daggerfall, Heroes of Might and Magic, Jagged Alliance

We had only one computer and one console, so I spent a ton of time watching my sister play Zelda or my brother play some dungeon crawler game I can’t remember the name of. (How old do I sound? I swear I’m not that old. Technology changes quickly, kids!)


Q3: Do you share any traits with the characters you’ve created?

Anna: Well, like both of them, I’m a fangirling nerd and gamer who values friendship fiercely. I am also intimately acquainted with panic attacks and anxiety, like Kat, though some of the things that trigger my anxiety are different than hers.


Q4: What was it like getting into the headset of both Kat and Meg? Did you have an easier time with one character versus the other?

Anna: Kat came alive for me from the moment I set pen to the page. I have a vivid memory of writing the first few paragraphs of her first scene and thinking, “Oh! Hello, Kat! You’re here! It’s so nice to meet you!”

Meg took a bit longer to show herself, but once she did, I had a complete blast getting into her head. Meg is impulsive and gregarious and hilarious and although she is so very different from me, I adore her with my whole heart, and I love being in her head.


Q5: ADHD and anxiety are both important issues that need to be discussed in literature, but can also be complicated to write about given how they affect people differently. Did you do any research for these issues and what was that like?

Anna: Let me say first of all that I don’t consider Kat and Meg to be an “issue book.” It’s not a book about anxiety or about ADHD. It is a book about friendship, fandom, video games, and how people can be rocks for each other even when they themselves feel like quicksand.

I like to make this distinction because my own disabilities and mental health diagnoses feel similar to the fact that I have size 9 feet (okay, okay, size 9.5).

(Wait, what?

Bear with me, I have a point. You’ll see. I hope.)

The size of my feet is an unchangeable, defined part of me that impacts me in obvious (what shoes I can buy or wear) and not-as-obvious (how I walk or stand or balance) ways. I can’t wear the shoes of someone who has different sized feet than me–at least, I can’t wear them and be comfortable. My foot/shoe size impacts me on a day-to-day basis.

At the same time, though, if someone painted a picture of me, and it turned out all they painted was my feet… that’d be upsetting (not to mention creepy). I am more than my feet. I am more than my handicapped arm. I am more than my anxiety. I am more than my dermatillomania. I am more than my sensory processing disorder. (Though these things are all still a core part of me and impact me every day.)

Kat has severe anxiety, and that impacts everything she does throughout the whole book. But so does the fact that she is clever and thoughtful and ambitious and witty and completely badass at video games.

Meg has ADHD, and that impacts everything she does throughout the whole book. But so does the fact that she is fearless and brimming with ideas and passionate and hilarious.

All of this is to say that yes, I did a crap-ton of research for the aspects of Kat’s and Meg’s lives that are outside of my own experience–from reading through forums to watching YouTube videos to asking friends hundreds of questions to having numerous sensitivity readers. But my research did not define who they are, it just helped me paint various parts of their portraits with a bit more precision.


Q6: Describe Kat and Meg Conquer the World in three words.

Anna: Gamer girl BFFs


Q7: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Anna: Friendship is badass and just as swoon-worthy as romance.


Q8: What is something you nerd out about?

Anna: I fangirl over YouTube gamers so much that I dressed as one for Halloween. I own at least 20 articles of Doctor Who-related clothing. At home, I live in my Hufflepuff hoodie. My husband and I own over 200 board games. I am…oh, wait, you said just one.


Q9:  Do you have plans for future books and if so, will they be a genre similar to Kat and Meg or a new one all together?

Anna: I’m currently working on my first round of edits for book two, which will come out from HarperTeen a year or so after Kat and Meg. It’s also a contemporary YA, about a girl who travels across Canada to search for her missing sister, accompanied by her sister’s best friend and the cultist accused of her murder.

As you can probably tell from that description, it’s a lot darker than Kat and Meg, but it still has a lot in common with my debut. It’s about relationships–friendship and family–and is still woven with nerd references and humour.

One thing you can expect from all my books is a primary focus on non-romantic relationships. Romance is great, but it’s only one of the thousands of ties that bind us to the people around us. We can have our heart broken by a friend, be supported by a rival, learn something from a younger sibling, be betrayed by a celebrity, be profoundly impacted by a stranger…*trails off, picks up ideas notebook, and starts writing frantically*


Author Bio: 

_DSC5200 v3 webAnna Priemaza is a contemporary young adult author and a practicing family and immigration lawyer in Edmonton, Alberta, where she lives with her husband. She can never quite remember how old she is, as she knits like an old lady, practices law like an adult, fangirls over YouTubers like a teen, and dreams like a child.

 

If you’d like to follow Anna and her work, which I highly recommend, see all these lovely links:

Website: http://annapriemaza.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33877998-kat-and-meg-conquer-the-world

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annab311a

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annapriemaza/

Amazon (US): http://a.co/3Egl2G7

Amazon (CA): http://a.co/7XifUqO

Once again, a big thank you to Anna for joining me today.  Be sure to preorder/pick up a copy of Kat and Meg Conquer the World. I sure will be. To see more book related posts on my end, keep an eye on the blog.

Xx

Megan

 

Queens of Geek: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Last night I finished Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde and all I can say is this book is both adorable and powerful.

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Taken from my instagram: Written-Infinities.

It follows three friends who go to SupaCon, which is a big gathering of movie, YouTube, and television stars. These friends are moving on to college within a couple of months and this is their way of treating themselves for making it through their education. Not to mention it has been something they wanted to do for a long time as a group. Many events happen at SupaCon, leading to self-discovery, love, and beating back some demons each of them have been holding onto.

This is a dual POV book following the characters Charlie and Taylor. Charlie is a famous YouTube star who had a terrible breakup from her co-star of a recent film, Reese. She is long since over him, but she spent the last few months piecing herself back together and finding out what it means to not be tied together with her ex in the public limelight. She has to deal with fans who want to see her back together with her ex and her entertainment company that wants her to be nice to Reese for publicity. She also identifies as bisexual and there is a fantastic scene in the book where she challenges her ex about sexuality. He asks a question bisexuals get too often: how can you be bisexual when you’re dating a guy?

The answer that Charlie gives, my dear readers, is a good one. There doesn’t need to be proof of bisexuality through dating a woman. Rather, she knew she was bisexual the same way her ex knew he was straight. What I love that the author does is she constantly reinforces there is nothing wrong with being bisexual.  She has also made Charlie a strong character, not afraid of talking about her sexuality, showing her confidence, or noting her mixed race heritage.

The second character, Taylor has anxiety. Throughout this book, I constantly found myself nodding my head in agreement with the descriptions Jen gives about anxiety. Between the fears Taylor has and how she worries how other people will read her anxiety (as her being stuck up or bossy), I too have gone through similar experiences. The portrayal was honest and real and all I wanted was for Taylor to push past her anxiety and find the happiness she deserved. Taylor, an amazing well rounded character, does not only challenge stereotypes about anxiety, but also challenges fat-shaming and misconceptions about being on the spectrum. There is so much to love and learn from Taylor’s chapters as well as so much to connect with.

This isn’t a difficult or long read. It is very much fluff and friendship and feeling good after reading it. Most of the plots are predictable, but I didn’t mind. You have a solid friendship, romances to root for, and wonderful representation. From the second I picked up this book, I went yes, this is what I need to be reading.

Note: The references in the book to all things Geek are A+.

I’m giving it 5/5 SupaCon passes.

Xx

Megan

Writing The Hard Stories

In order for characters to grow, they have to face hardships, have things taken from them, lose their initial opinions. As writers, we plan how this happens and are tasked with the most difficult thing: capturing this development on paper.

Writing a story isn’t easy. It takes a lot of will power, imagination, and convincing yourself that your writing doesn’t suck. Once you’ve managed to move past these qualms, you may come up against another challenge. How do I handle writing a scene that is either extremely personal or possibly triggering?

I’m a firm believer in using writing as a way of dealing with life or even escaping it. For a long time, writing was the only comfort I had. I threw my emotions onto the page no matter how much it hurt or even if the words I was putting down made no sense.  Some of the short stories that came from these moods were emotionally charged and on the dark side.

To this day, I still like to write the heavier stories, ones that are both a challenge and a release. Sometimes, I need to step away from my WIP. Other times I get lost in the mindset of my characters or the events playing out before me until hours fly by and I have to snap myself out of it. This happened a few months ago when my MC sought revenge on a group of people who kidnapped his best friend. To put it lightly, the end result wasn’t pretty nor was the mentality of the character going into the ordeal. I remember saying to myself: “These thoughts are psychopathic.” However, I finished the chapter and emerged with new questions about my MC and my capabilities as a writer.

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There’s another scene in my story about death, which I took details from a personal event that happened in my life. The chapter was depressing to say the least and I found my mood descending with every word I wrote. The good news: it’s one of my favorite chapters. The bad news: I felt every ounce of my character’s pain.

It’s a double edged sword being a writer when our characters become like people we know and grew up with. Their suffering isn’t always something we can separate from our own. I choose to dive into these emotions, using it as a current of inspiration. How I come out of the experience once I’m done writing, I figure I’ll handle later.

This method does not work for everyone. Stories can get overwhelming, personal; hit a bit too close to home. But these are also the parts of the story that connect with our readers, that make us clutch books to our chests and weep at an ungodly hour of the night. Whenever you write scenes like these, here are some tips to remember:

  1. Do your research. You don’t want to offend anyone with what you’re writing, let alone come across as ignorant. There is no such thing as too much research.
  2. Take a break. There is no reason to harm yourself while writing. If it gets too much, you can save it for another day, take a breather, listen to music, or watch your favorite show or movie. You always come first.
  3. Make sure these scenes are not included for dramatic effect, but actually advance the story and the growth of your main character. Shock value is not the best reason for including a dark scene.
  4. Understand it’s okay if it is not right the first time. That’s what editing is for. Those scenes that don’t feel right will either be polished or cut.If you’re still having trouble, Beta Readers are a great resource to see if you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
  5. Don’t let anyone tell you not to write something. If it’s for the better of your story or even a way of dealing with what’s going on in your life, do it.
  6. Remember your readers. Writing a scene correctly and appropriately will connect you to your audience.

These scenes will always be part of our jobs as writers, but it’s how you go about them and handle yourself in the process that really matters.

Xx

Megan

When The Moon Was Ours: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I decided quite recently that I would start doing book reviews on my blog. The first will be dedicated to When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. This review will be spoiler free so if you haven’t read it yet, there is no need to click away.

I chose this book because it was the first book I read in 2017 that really hooked me. I nearly forgot to get off the train.

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Taken from my instagram, Written Infinites.

My biggest disclaimer about the book is it may not be for everyone. Anna-Marie McLemore has a unique style of prose, one that feels like poetry and fairytale wrapped into one. There is a lot of description dedicated to nature, colors, and spices. Instead of prose that is
straight to the point, she guides the reader through beautiful images. I found myself unable to put the book down. I was in a trance, seeing picture after picture in mind. It brought me to life, almost like a story ripped from a painting. She connects a lot of emotions to nature and different shades of color. You will feel everything, not just in your heart, but through your senses.

The story follows best friends Miel and Sam. A water tower collapses in a small town and Miel comes out of it. At first the town is horrified; they see Miel as a feral creature that has breached the safety of their town. Sam, who is a child equally as young as Miel, approaches her and tells her that it will be okay. From there, the two grow into teenagers and that is when the majority of the story takes place.

This book is rather odd, keep that in mind. It is rooted in fantasy. Miel has the ability to grow roses from her wrists. She has secrets that she has yet to tell and face herself. Sam creates and draws moon in order to comfort Miel. He too is hiding something, that Miel and his mother know, but it takes a personal journey to truly come to terms with it. Aracely, who is Miel’s guardian, is able to cast lovesickness away from broken hearts. The Bonner sisters, a well known family in this town, are able to make boys fall in love with them as they please. They don’t know what the word ‘no’ means. There is also the antagonism that comes from small town setting. Everyone knows everyone so gossip runs wild as to prejudices.

Anna-Marie McLemore takes you far away from reality, which I loved, but also keeps bits and pieces of reality too. She captures intimate feelings of love, self-identity, family, revenge, friendship, and bravery. From the Author’s Note she leaves in the book, you learn she has a close relationship with one of the main plots in the book. I will not say what, but read the Author’s Note, and learn her closeness to some of the characters she created. Me, as a reader, I felt the sincerity. I felt the rawness. I felt what it’s like to not be what you want to be or struggle with who you are. Anna-Marie McLemore does not shy away from diving into the depths of her characters – a brutal honesty that I admire and I believe other readers will as well.

If you want to try something different, leave normalcy behind, read this book. It entrances you. The characters are beautifully diverse and strong. You will root for Miel and Sam through every page.

Let me know, if you have read this book, your thoughts below. I would love to discuss this book further. If not, consider picking it up.

It gets 5/5 roses from me. 7279c94b53437c1ecb78f56d7fe4bf2b

Xx

Megan

Queries, Pitches and YouTube – Oh My !

Hello Everyone,

This post is sudden, but one I’ve been waiting to write for a little over two months now. With a new year comes new projects, particularly in the writing department. For those of you who don’t know, my brother (Ismael) and his wife (Justine) are writers. You can find them here and here.  These are the two people I bounce most of my ideas off of as well as scream at when my characters give me feelings.

I realize how weird that last sentence sounds if you’re not a writer. Getting involved with books and fandoms makes you do a lot of odd things in order to hold tight/express inspiration. I’ll save that for another post.inkwell2_5

What I want to tell you all is that my brother, his wife, and I have created The Inkwell Council.

-insert the oooooooh gif from Toy Story here-

The purpose of this website is to provide free critiques for a description of your entire project and the first three chapters of your manuscript. When it comes to querying, we know the first three chapters can make or break the decision as to whether a publisher/agent will request more of your story. We know how stressful and hard this process can be. Lastly, we also know that getting critiques for your story can be expensive. The idea for this service sprouted as we asked ourselves: what can we do to help out the writing community  with NaNoWriMo underway and a various amount of pitching events happening on Twitter? This, my writing friends, is the answer.

We will be reading each submission with the following in mind:

1) What might get you accepted or rejected by an agent/publisher and how you might increase your chances.

2) How to strengthen your prose and tighten your story, without losing your voice and what makes your tale unique.

3) The pace and feeling of your story – is it a page turner? Does it drag? Are our hearts already racing? Did we get your jokes?

Each of us involved with Inkwell will be assigned to one of the following questions. To find out more about Inkwell, whether for curiosity, to learn more about us, or to submit your manuscript (which we really hope you do), check out our website. Note that we will be picking one manuscript out of the bunch per month to critique, but this may change as Inkwell progresses. The best way to stay in the know is to visit The Inkwell Council.

Phew, one announcement done, one to go. Another project that has been kept secret is the same folks who made The Inkwell Council are also making a YouTube Channel! I will say that I have wanted to make a YouTube channel for a while, but never felt like I would be able to maintain it. Then one day, my sister in law mentioned that she was thinking of doing it because of her son and here we are.

I present to you Geektastic!

There are no videos as of yet, but they will be themed around all things nerdy and geeky as my family has both of those traits running in their veins. We will be doing reviews of books, movies, toys, and anything else we deem fit. The best part about this channel is it will be family friendly, so there will be no need to slam your laptop shut if a child comes running in. Also, you will be meeting my nephew who is adorable and full of all the energy in the world.

I will be covering the book section of the channel because I read books at the speed of light and my shelf is becoming overrun with them. Might as well put my love for books to use and hopefully entertain some readers in the process. I hope you stay tuned and check out the videos as they come.

Okay, I think that is everything I had to announce in this post. Not saying anything for so long has kept me bubbling with excitement and hope that they will turn out well. With no more secrets, (as far as I know), I’ll see you all in my next post.

Xx

Megan

 

Writing Stereotypes

Hello Everyone,

How the heck are we halfway into November? I am asking myself that as I write this post – something that should have been done a while ago. But it has been a hectic few weeks, and I am now settled enough to write without my brain dissolving into a pile of mush.

The topic I thought I would tackle today is writing stereotypes, which any writer probably
knows about and has faced at some point in their lives. If you haven’t, you are lucky and this post can act as a warning for what may come in the future.

#1 – Make It Rain

I am titling this stereotype as such because it is the first thing that comes to a lot of people’s minds when you say you are writing a book. It is quite a grueling process to write, to make sure your plot aligns, your characters are well rounded, your grammar is polished. It is also a task to get through publication: between finding an agent, signing with a publishing house, edits, production, and press. As nice as it would be to write a book, immediately get it published, and have money rolling in shortly thereafter, it often doesn’t work that way.

How can that be, Megan? What about J.K. Rowling, John Green, James Dashner and so on and so forth.

My answer is they were lucky. Someone recognized their talent, signed them on, and their books were a hit with millions of people. They have earned their success and each of them are on my list of favorite authors. I would love to join them in the future, as I’m sure many other writers would too.

#2 – Writing Can’t Be Hard

Wrong. So wrong. Wrong to the power of infinity and beyond.

There is so much going on within a writer’s brain, so many things that need to happen writing-1317009in order to create a coherent story that makes writing difficult. Combine that with muse and real life and a book is barely a walk in the park. I started writing my novel earlier this year, around April, and am still making progress with it till this day. Other authors I know have been working on their books for years, scrapping it, redoing it, leaving it for months and then coming back to it.

Don’t think that I don’t love writing. It is tied into my soul. It is one of the reasons I exist. It has saved me from many dark times. What I have learned from finally writing a book past childhood is that it requires patience and perseverance. Can’t fix a plot hole? Take a break. Think on it. Have a long shower. Your character isn’t working? Take on a new point of view. Cut them from the story entirely if you need to.

Writing is a series of difficult decisions, testing not only the characters in the story, but you as a person and you as someone developing a craft.

#3 – What’s Your Dayjob?

Opposite to stereotype number one is the disapproving glance of onlookers who believe writing is a pipe dream. I’ve had to deal with this one several times, the questions lingering in someone’s eyes as I tell them I want to write a book someday.

What do you really want to do with your life?

You couldn’t have chosen something else?

That’s not how you make money.

Oh. Okay. -moves onto next person-

When I first began writing, I found this discouraging. I battled within myself if this was really what I wanted to do. I could suck it up and go into graphic design or computer science, other fields I considered, but I ruled them out because I didn’t see them in my future. I didn’t turn to them as a comfort. Turns out, they turned into hobbies that died out as I grew older. Writing was still my passion and until success comes, if at all, I am happy with getting into the publishing industry as an editor.

My advice to anyone who has this negativity thrown their way, do not let it hurt you. Stories exists for several reasons: to entertain, inform, inspire. If there is a story within you, tell it because you never know who you are helping by doing so.

#4 – Mental Illness and Creativity

There are studies that say depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and so forth affect the creativity process, often in a positive way. I know writers who have some of these issues and I also know writers who are mentally healthy.

For someone who has dealt with mental illness, writing can alleviate the suffering.  However, mental illness is not a qualifying component necessary to write. If you write because it helps problems in your life or with your health, that is great. I’m glad you found a coping mechanism. If you write just because you love it, then I am equally as happy for you.

Writers come from all situations and backgrounds. To say that only the best craft comes from the dark side of the mind is an exaggeration. The inspiration to write can come from a variety of places and each should be recognized especially if they create a beautiful story in the end.

#5 Writers Are Internet Loving, Animal Hoarding, Caffeine Addicts 

Well…

Erm…

This one is kind of true.

Keep those laptops and puppies and kittens close my writer friends! Oh, don’t forget the coffee or tea too. Who knows where all the good books would go without any of those things.

Xx

Megan

Camp NaNoWriMo

Hello fellow writers,

It’s been a while since I’ve last updated, but I have the pleasure of saying I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this year. For those who don’t know what this is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every November, from the beginning of the month to the end, a challenge is set for authors to write a full length novel (50,000 words +). Due to school and other life related events, I’ve never participated. However, I have partaken in Camp NaNoWriMo which allows the writer to set a word count for themselves. I didn’t succeed last year, but I feel more confident this year with having a set plan of where I want my story to go. The goal I’ve set for myself is 25,000 words.

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I’ve been writing almost daily, on bus rides to school, late at night. The words have been adding up without warning which I’m happy about when it comes to reaching my goal. As opposed to roaming around for where I want to lead the story, it has been guiding me. It’s taken me through dual perspectives, flashbacks, and throwing my characters into the middle of conflict.

What I am curious about writers participating, or even writers who can’t participate but want to – how are you reaching for your goal? For me, I have been trying to write each and everyday. I haven’t tried to force my muse. I’ve allowed the words to flow on the page as they are, minus editing here and there. My chapters aren’t very long, but I feel as if chapters aren’t about length, rather the content and what it does in relation to the overall plot. I’ve left my book open to create itself and I feel like the freedom is really helping me write it.

I am determined to keep to a schedule and get to my 25,000 words, despite school, work and other engagements of mine. I feel as if committing to NaNoWriMo is partly mindset, sticking to what is set by you as a writer. For those who are participating, I wish you loads of luck. Let your imagination run wild and create the story stuck in your mind.

Leave your thoughts/tips/goals below!

Xx Megan