Ch21Con Blog Tour: Interview with Ariel Kalati

Hi, reader peeps!

Today, we have a guest on the blog: Ariel Kalati, one of the team members of Ch21Con! Welcome to Spiral-Bound, Ariel!

So for this post, I will be interviewing Ariel, asking some questions about the conference, about writing, and a couple not so serious questions. So let’s jump right in! (I will be in bold and Ariel’s text will be standard.)

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I’m a current senior at Sarah Lawrence College (though I’ll have graduated by the time of this year’s conference- aah!) and I’m studying writing, literature, and social sciences. I want to be involved in education and community building, so Chapter One Events has always been kind of the best job. I’ve been writing since I was, like, six years old, and the written word is still my favorite thing.

That is awesome! Congratulations on your upcoming graduation!

Tell us about Ch1Events and how you got started with it.

I was one of the mythical original founders of Chapter One Events. Basically, when I was ten, I used to spend my time on a writing forum for kids, where I made some great friends. And then, one of those friends, Julia, had the idea for us to meet up and host a mini writing conference amongst ourselves. The first Ch1Con is still one of my best memories, because it made me realize how great it is to spend time with other like-minded young writers. Since then, the conference has been expanding, and now we’ve taken that goal of spending time with and educating other young writers, and turned it into a whole array of online events, a second conference (Ch21Con), and tons of cool things like contests and our mentorship program.

I’m really excited about the first Ch21Con. What are you most excited about for Ch21Con this year?

Oh wow, I don’t even know! I think I’m really excited about the speakers this year, although we always have cool speakers. Christine Herman’s Twitter account is super cool and her upcoming book sounds awesome, so I can’t wait to hear what she’s going to talk about. Karuna Riazi, who wrote THE GAUNTLET, which I love, spoke at Ch1Con 2015, and now she’s coming back, which I’m thrilled about! And our very own Allison Mulder has the best puns and gives the best publishing advice, so I’m ready for that, too. But honestly, the main event of any Chapter One Event is pizza, I think, so I guess my answer is the pizza.

Pizza is definitely one of the best parts of a Chapter One Event.

The Chapter One Events give teens and young adults a chance to learn from young authors. What is something that you learned from a Ch1Con speaker?

Honestly, I would probably have to make a giant list and analyze it in, like, a spreadsheet or something, to be able to pick the most important things I’ve learned from Ch1Con speakers, because they all are so inspiring. For me personally, hearing Susan Dennard talk about how she went from being a scientist to being a writer was really inspirational, and it taught me that having several interests doesn’t mean that your interest in writing is invalid. I also loved Kody Keplinger’s keynote address last year, where she told us that failure is okay, and that trying at something counts.

Both very good things to learn! Susan Dennard has been one of my favorite speakers.

Let’s step away from Ch1Con questions for a minute. So, what are you reading lately?

Well, lately it’s been chapters from my Human Rights Advocacy textbook, because I’ve got lots of schoolwork. I am very slowly listening to “Good Omens” as an audiobook though. Once I graduate, I’m going to try and put more reading into my schedule. Ideally. If the “real world” doesn’t kill me.

What do you like to do when you aren’t reading or writing or are busy with schoolwork?

Well, I’m a big fan of eating food. I also like watching TV shows, like Parks and Recreation or Steven Universe. I love art history, so going to art museums is fun. Pretty much just introvert nerd stuff like that.

Being an introvert nerd is fun.

What are your favorite and least favorite tropes?

Ooh, good question! My favorite tropes are definitely things like, fun upbeat messy person makes friends with/falls in love with/has to team up with cranky organized overachiever person. And I also love witches and woodland sprites and stuff. My least favorite tropes are pretty much mostly misogynistic tropes, like “girl is super shy and boy is mean to her but in a romantic way somehow” and stuff like that.

I love magic folklore-sy tropes like woodland sprites.

What is your favorite use of tomatoes? (I said there would be less than serious questions.)

Ah, tomatoes… Tomatoes are excellent when simply pureed, spread over a flour dough, then add some olive oil and mozzarella and cook it in an oven. Basically I’m saying pizza. Pizza is the priority.

Pizza is absolutely a priority. I agree 100%.

Finally, because no Ch1Con interview would be complete without this question, what item from the Panera Bread menu are you? (Disclaimer: I have never eaten Panera Bread, but I’ve been assured that will be remedied at the conference this year.)

Oh, the most important question. I want to say that I’m the Kitchen Sink cookie, because I have a lot of different elements to my personality, but they add up to something sweet that is a little too much at times.

That is a very poetic description. Thank you so much for letting me interview you!

~~~~~

I hope guys enjoyed the interview. You can find Ariel on her Twitter here. And if you’re interested in either Ch1Con or Ch21Con, you can find out more here. The conference is August 4, so get signed up quick! We have awesome stuff planned for all.

Kate out.

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Storms and Trust

Hi, reader-peeps.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to get a post out that has been my current circumstances– what happened with Camp NaNo and the Minecraft streaming and what’s going on in my life. Life has been a bit stormy.

You will get a post about the Minecraft stuff, at least, and possibly an explanation of my lack of NaNo-ing.

As for the life stuff… as heartfelt as the two drafts I had were and as much as I needed to write them for a little catharsis, I don’t think I’m going to share them. They boil down to me trying and struggling to figure life out.

But in the last week, God has, by His Grace, guided me out of that. Do I have life completely figured out? No. Do I have some semblance of a plan that I hope is God’s plan too? Yeah. Yeah, I do.

So instead of a post that is no longer relevant and is probably over-dramatic, I want to link you guys to another blog post. It was written by a man who was my pastor when I was a kid. He has long since stepped down from pastor-ing, but he writes thoughtful and wonderful Bible commentary blog posts. His post today really reminded me of trusting God and His timing and grace.

The post is here.

So, go check it out and I’ll talk to you guys later.

Solo Christo,

Katie.

Crafting Plans

Hi, reader-peeps!

I’m going to start making Minecraft videos!

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This is an old Pocket Edition screenshot. I’ll be playing PC Edition for the videos.

I’m not sure when exactly this will start, but I’ve got the software downloaded and figured out and I have a new YouTube channel made. I’m really just trying to get a few more details figured out.

I’ve been running a few polls on Twitter about various specifics (my Twitter is here so you can vote too!) Here’s what I’m thinking at the moment:

I’m going to start with recording and uploading to Twitch and YouTube. We can move to streaming later, once we have basics down and my schedule better allows for live content.

I’m planning to record early in the morning, which is another strike against streaming.

The videos will be about 20 or 30 minutes long. 20 to 30 minutes is a more manageable chunk for me and I think shorter videos go over better than long ones.

Right now, I am not planning to edit the videos. Just record and upload. I may change my mind before the recording starts, though. (If anyone has any tips about how to edit, please share!)

I’m not sure how many times a week I will record. I’m planning on one minimum, so you will get at least one video a week.

Moving on from the technical stuff…

The game will be Vanilla Minecraft. No mods, no texture packs. I will eventually do mods, but we’re starting with Vanilla. It will be Survival (not Hardcore) and will either be in Easy or Normal mode.

I’m debating on whether I will create the world before the stream or during the stream. On the one hand, creating during stream is adventurous. On the other, creating before gives me the chance to make sure we have not started on a deserted island or any other horrible spawn points. I will probably not make this decision a poll.

Another thing I’m debating is whether or not I leave cheats on. I won’t just give myself diamonds and teleport everywhere, but I don’t think anyone wants to watch me unsuccessfully hunt for a desert for three streams if I need cacti. I may do a poll on this one.

The current poll is how long we’re playing Minecraft, whether that’s to the end credits or doing everything possible or just until we get bored of Vanilla Survival. The first two appeal to me, because that puts some pressure on me to actually get to the end credits (which I have never done in straight up, no cheat survival) (yes, that’s right, I’ve never legitimately battled the Ender Dragon).

I would love to hear your thoughts and any tips or questions you have. Is there anything I haven’t really considered? Lemme know in the comments or on Twitter! And please vote in the polls! They help a lot.

Kate out.

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A Sparkly Encounter

Hi, reader-peeps.

Something really cool happened today.

I don’t talk about it a lot here, but I adore Minecraft. If you don’t know what that is, I highly recommend looking it up. In a nutshell, it’s a sandbox game where you can do pretty much whatever you want to– farming, building, survival, combat– in a world where everything is shaped like blocks. I’ve been playing Minecraft for about 2 years, under the name of SherwoodWriter.

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Currently sporting an adorable Twilight Sparkle skin.

I just bought the PC Edition a few weeks ago, after playing the Pocket Edition for so long. The cool thing about the PC Edition is that there are many more modifications and servers made for PC.

One of these servers is called Skybounds. It’s sort of a skyblock server, skyblock being a game where you have to survive on a tiny island in the sky with just a tree and a few other resources. Skybounds has mining and combat and challenges to complete. A few famous Minecraft YouTubers play Skybounds, one of them being CaptainSparklez.

CaptainSparklez (his real name is Jordan Maron) is a huge name in Minecraft and YouTube and I enjoy his videos quite a bit. He’s been playing Skybounds for a while with another YouTuber. When I bought Minecraft PC Edition, Skybounds was one of the first games I started playing.

Now, there are a lot of people who aren’t very kind or are just annoying when it comes to CaptainSparklez and other YouTubers. They want the famous person to notice them or they want give that person stuff or they want to take on that person in combat and slaughter them (big names on Skybounds also have big bounties on their heads as part of the game). For these reasons, some people use a nickname feature on Skybounds.

I don’t want to be the jerk who says “HI CAPTAINSPARKLEZ NOTICE ME”, literally or otherwise. And while I’d love to take Mr. Sparklez out in a bout of combat… my pvp skills aren’t that great. He’d more likely take me out.

Still, I had a hope that I could be annihilated by him or play a round of mining world at the same time he did or something. Of course, him being nicknamed 98% of the time meant I wouldn’t recognize him and I wouldn’t know that I had been there until I watched his video. The other problem with this grand scheme is that he always seems to be on the Skybounds server at a very late hour because of timezone differences.

Still, I hoped.

A few nights ago (Monday night, I think) I was on the server. I knew CaptainSparklez was on because the chat was going nuts and his bounty was displayed on the bounty board (doesn’t display when he isn’t on). I got hopeful. I looked around for him a bit. Didn’t see him.

Today, he uploaded a Skybounds video. And as I watched it, I caught sight of a Twilight Sparkle skin.

Screenshot (17)

Not just once, though.

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TWICE.

Oh. My. Holy. Plot. Bunnies. Ohmysweetholyplotbunnies.

This obviously doesn’t make me famous or anything. With thousands of people on that server, I can’t say I’m famous for being in the background of 5 seconds of a CaptainSparklez video.

It did make my day, though.

Kate out.

Thinking about Life

Hi, reader-peeps.

I’ve been thinking about life lately. It’s a bit thrilling, but a somewhat frightening thing to think about.

Things I’ve been thinking about jobs. And thinking about college. And thinking about things like earning enough money to buy a new laptop because mine is still a bit screwy and where do I want to live and what time do I want to be getting up in the mornings.

Right now, the biggest of these things is the job. I definitely need a source of income. I need a way to support myself. Making a stable income from writing takes years, if you ever actually get that far.

Second biggest thing is college. I was seriously considering it last year. I was planning to major in English with a concentration in Literature. I wanted to work in marketing for publishing. I had a plan and had figured out specific colleges and everything.

And then I learned that publishing is a very difficult job to break into. That broke my carefully laid plans. It broke my motivation. I haven’t really considered college since.

Until now.

The past few days, I’ve been considering computer science. Coding and programming and all that sounds kinda cool. I’ve been considering English again, even though I’m not sure what I’d actually do with it.

I have to know why I’m doing what I’m doing. I have to know what the end goal is. I’m reluctant to go to college just for the sake of a piece of paper that says I have this knowledge. That’s an expensive piece of paper.

But at the same time, a lot of jobs, ones I could do from home, require a degree. You want to be a Social Media person for a company? Get a degree in marketing. Want to write for our prestigious online magazine? Better have an English or Journalism degree. Want to work for Google, Pinterest, Amazon? Computer Science. And you had probably better live in LA.

What kind of job do I want? Honestly, a creative one. I want to write. I want to create. I want to make YouTube videos. I want to write a bestselling book or 50. I want to make a podcast. I want a blog with a million views a day. I want to write for Disney. I want to write a television show. I want to create.

The problem with a creative pursuit is that there is no promise of secure salary. With most of the things I just mentioned, there’s not even a guarantee of payment. There’s a guarantee of blood, sweat, tears, and way too much Diet Coke. There’s guarantee of very hard work with possibly no payoff. (I also know that Disney is one of those places that is difficult to get into… and you probably better live in LA.)

I could start a Ko-Fi or Patreon account. I don’t feel like I’ve earned that yet, though. And Patreon is a strange thing. You give extra stuff to your patrons. I don’t have extra stuff, though, or even ideas for that. And for Ko-Fi, it’s like a tip jar. Having worked in a pizza place, tips usually aren’t much to begin with. I really don’t feel like I’ve earned Ko-Fi or Patreon just yet anyway.

There are other supportive accounts, but I still don’t feel like I’m ready to do that. It feels selfish and lazy right now because I haven’t really done anything worthy of either.

Back to the point.

A job. College. Both? Job no matter what but is college in that time frame? I think about this every few months. Maybe I should just go to college so I’ll quit thinking about it. Not without a plan, though. Not without knowing what I want.

I still have no idea exactly what I want, though.

Kate out.

P.S. — I have no problem with living in LA or around there. But that is awfully far from Indiana and they don’t have fireflies in California.

Plot Bunnies Everywhere

On my computer, inside of One Note, I have a folder called “Sock Drawer”.

Within this Sock Drawer, I have ideas. Tiny plot bunnies that show up and demand attention but can’t be given enough attention to be written at the moment. They are good ideas, but not full grown ones. Or maybe it’s that they might be close enough to full grown, but I can’t write them because I have other projects.

Bunny trails.

Putting them into a folder gives me peace from their needy selves while also giving me a chance to come back to them later.

Would you like to see some of those ideas?

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Most of it is a mess. There are also a lot of Tweet links (someone Tweets an idea or something that inspires me and I copy the link). Some of the ideas are plots, some are just concepts.

:)

As I look at this page in this folder, I remember that I’m actually writing one of these.

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This idea, specifically. 

At least, that’s where my current story idea started.

Further, I realize that I could add or have added several other ideas in this folder to my WIP.

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Ideas come from anywhere, anytime. If you think it’s a good idea, but you can’t get to it now, don’t throw it out. Put it in a plot bunny field, where it can be free-range, music fed, and grow up big and strong so that when you find a place for it, you can use it.

Especially in recent months...

Kate out.

Figuring Things Out

Hi, reader-peeps.

So, you may have noticed that the 21 Sunrises Challenge posts stopped.

Well, I got to Day 4. I got up, recorded a mini-vlog, read my Bible… and then fell asleep. I was absolutely exhausted. I hadn’t gotten my bedtime early enough to be justifying waking up early.

So that’s problem number 1. Problem 2 is it is snowing again and I have no desire to vlog in the snow. Not sunrises anyway.

While sunrises aren’t the point of the challenge, it does provide me a way to be accountable with the challenge. It gives me something to show you that says “hey, I got up early”. And while I am not doing this for you, having some accountability makes things easier.

I’m not giving up on the challenge. I just need to work out some of the bugs.

One thing I’d really like to do and could do more easily in the early morning is make Minecraft videos. I’m not quite at the point where I know how to do that (if anyone knows how to safely download mods/how to find where the heck my Minecraft screenshots and videos are stored on my computer, that’d be greatly appreciated).

I’m also wondering if anyone would be interested in a Minecraft series where you guys decide what happens next. Not in story line, necessarily, but you decide what things I do at the end of each video.

But we’re getting off track. We were talking about getting up early, not Minecraft.

So, what to do?

  1. Just start getting up early again.
  2. Make sure I’m getting to bed on time to do so.
  3. Find something to look forward to in the mornings to motivate me.

Sounds like a plan, yes?

Kate out.

An Intro, Part 2

Hi, reader-peeps! 

Welcome to part two of 50 facts about me. Due to the long hiatus, age of this blog, and new followers, I decided to start off my return to the blogosphere with an introduction. You can find Part 1 here

Here we go!

26. I am picky about music. You almost have to trick me into listening to new music, in fact. But, at the same time, there are very few music styles I don’t like at all. 

27. I love musicals. My current favorite is Hamilton, but I also love classics like The Sound of Music, Les Miserables, and several Disney movies. 

28. There are very few music artists I like and will listen to a lot of. The top three are Peter Hollens, Ed Sheeran, and Lin Manuel Miranda. 

29. In a similar vein, there are lots of authors I love as people but don’t want to read their books… if that makes sense.

30. I am the oldest of eight kids, seven girls and one boy. 

31. One of my sisters is married. 

32. I have never had a boyfriend. 

33. Except the fictional ones. 

34. I love coffee. My favorite coffee drinks are sweet and iced. 

35. I am picky about tea. I only like black tea, hot or iced, with sugar and maybe milk. 

36. I’m a night owl. I like being up in the morning, but I don’t like getting up in the morning. 

37. I like riding a bike or walking, as far as exercise goes. Swimming is awesome, but I don’t have a pool. I’d honestly like to take martial arts, at some point. 

38. I’m a cat person. Like I like cats, not that I am a cat, obviously… 

39. I’m not a cat, I’m clearly a dragon. 

40. I like dresses. Why did balls and ball gowns go out of style? Seriously. 

41. I’m a Jane Austen fan. 

42. I have the tendency to suddenly be “reading” four books at once and then I stress out because of it. 

43. I love biographies. If I’m not reading fiction, I’m probably reading a biography or a book on writing (and those are occasionally the same thing).

44. I prefer headphones over ear buds. 

45. I love origins. I love learning where words come from, how things are made, what someone’s ancestry looks like, how things got started, etc. 

46. I learn best by having some instruction, an example, and then doing. 

47. I am running out of facts. 

48. My favorite fruits are pears, mangoes, and plums. Apples and bananas are also lovely. 

49. I was born in Georgia.

50. I am trying to start a YouTube channel. Right now, it’s just vlogs but I’d like to branch out into other things, if I can figure out how to do that. 

And that’s 50! Tell me some awesome things about yourself in the comments! Thoughts on music? What kind of exercise do you like? Why did ballgowns and balls go out of style? 

Kate out. 

21 Sunrises Challenge, Day 3

Good morning, reader-peeps! 

It is Day 3 of my 21 Sunrises Challenge, in which I get up early for 21 days and then do mini vlogs of the sunrise. 

Today we got an actual sunrise!!!

Also a moonset:

I have a question for you. What do you want me to talk about while I’m vlogging the sunrise? Any specific questions or topics? They can be about me, about the challenge, really about anything. We do have 18 sunrises left; we could talk about anything. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments!

Kate out.