Imagery, Humanity, and Storytelling with Miyazaki

When I want to watch a movie on a random night, there’s a good chance I’m going to pick a movie by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Movies like Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle are some of my favorites, and I go back to Miyazaki’s work over and over. The storytelling is thoughtful and the art is fun and beautiful, and even in fantastical settings his characters feel so real.

I love this video that talks about why Miyazaki’s films are so successful, including his focus on precise character actions, clear character needs, and fostering human empathy on screen.


Basically, Miyazaki’s films are a masterclass in storytelling and character development. So when I watch them over and over, it’s totally for professional reasons.

New Podcast Project: Crossover Appeal!

CA-LogoI mostly talk about reading and writing here, but I’m also big into TV and movies and narrative pop culture in general. I mean, where my friends talk about how they only had like half an hour of TV a day, the TV was always on in our house, and I think I’m better for it. If only because it’s given me a lot of things to talk about for my new podcast, Crossover Appeal! The gist:

Crossover Appeal is a biweekly podcast about media, fandom, and who you’d ship. Hosts Annie Cardi & Walt McGough take two popular pieces of culture, analyze their thematic relationships, and then figure out how to mash ‘em up together.

Walt and I decided that we like geeking out about books and movies and TV already, so why not make it official and share our thoughts with the world? The first episode is now up most places you can listen to podcasts:

iTunes: Crossover Appeal
Soundcloud: Crossover Appeal
Stitcher: Crossover Appeal

In the debut episode, we’re talking about Gilmore Girls, Battlestar Galactica, awesome female characters, family drama, and my favorite gazebo.

So in case you feel like you need more of my thoughts on writing, reading, viewing, pop culture, and fandom, subscribe in your audio platform of choice! And until the next episode, please ship responsibly!

Links Galore

Lots of links I’ve been saving:

A Community of Artists

Once is a touching movie about musicians and art and connection. It’s now a stage musical, and recently the touring company invited amateur musicians in to sing “Falling Slowly” with them.

Walt shared the video with me this morning, and it got me kind of teary, seeing all these musicians of all ages and backgrounds and levels of professional status in the same space, sharing their art and making something wonderful together as a little community.

Writing and publishing as a career can be hard. But one thing I’m always grateful for–the people. I’m so grateful to be part of a community of writers and readers and librarians and educators and bloggers and fans. From across the world, from all kinds of backgrounds, from major bestselling authors to first draft-ers, from experienced bloggers to people who have just found YA, it’s uplifting and exciting to share our stories and our experiences, either in person or online.

So no matter where you are in your writing journey or your reading life, thank you for being part of this community. Your voice matters.

Awards and Hoverboards: Expectations of Your Writing Future

It’s October 21, 2015. Welcome to the future, everyone!

Okay, so no hoverboards for the masses yet, and our 80s-inspired clothes look a little different. But today’s Back to the Future festivities did get me thinking about the future and expectations.

As writers, it’s easy to build up expectations and ideas of success. You put a lot of time and effort into a given project, and you hope that time and effort will be rewarded by a agent offering representation, or a book deal, or an award, or a movie, or a place at the top of the best-seller list. You set deadlines for yourself–finish a draft by X date, query by Y, get an agent by Z. Surely in twenty years, you’ll be at ALA, accepting your Printz award from atop your hoverboard, right?

At last year’s retreat in Tennessee, someone (I think it was Tessa Gratton) mentioned that “at some point, everything in publishing will happen to you.” From getting a book deal to getting a book pushed back to getting a book cancelled; from rejections to sales at auctions; from tons of marketing support and movie deals to seeing a book just like yours make a huge splash while yours falls flat–the good and the bad all happens at some point. No matter what you do or how hard you work, you can’t control the whole process.

So what does that mean for the future of your writing career? Don’t focus on the hoverboard. Forget the movie deals, the sales at auction, the awards ceremonies. Focus on the part you can control–writing the best work you can. Even if you can’t predict the future, you’ll know that you made the very best book you could.

As Doc Brown said: “Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”

Links Galore

Lots of links to start your week:

Links Galore

A few good links to get you through the day: