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Turtles All The Way Down is the Mental Illness Novel We’ve Been Waiting For

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“At the time I first realized I might be fictional, my weekends were spent at the publicly funded institution on the north side of Indianapolis called White River High School…”

And with that opening line, we are introduced to John Green’s long-awaited novel Turtles All The Way Down. This is Green’s fifth novel and the first he has written after a five-year break from writing after his widely popular novel The Fault in Our Stars. And with the mind-blowing success of his last novel, his new novel comes with certain expectations, mainly raising the question: “Will this book measure up?”

   The answer? Yes, but not in the ways you expect. Turtles All the Way Down is the story of 16-year-old Aza Holmes and her best friend, Daisy, hunting down the fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett for a hundred-thousand-dollar reward money. While on this caper, Aza is struggling to be “a good daughter, a good friend, and a good student,” with her mental illness.

   However, this is not your typical John Green novel or your typical YA novel; this is not a story of people falling in love or coping with death or learning the value of friendship. Though all three of these themes come up.

   The real plot is simple: this is a story about a girl in crisis.

   Good mental illness books are few and far between, especially in the YA world. They are either too over-dramatic, basing things on over-used stereotypes or cliches; making it very clear that the author has never suffered a mental illness. Or they make a mental illness a minor character “quirk” and nothing more. More importantly, we never actually see a character’s mental illness, we are just told about their mental illness.

   In this novel, we see exactly what’s going on inside Aza’s head as she talks in real time about each one of her “spirals,”.  She starts with one thought that quickly snowballs into more horrible, all-consuming thoughts that she cannot escape from. No matter how hard she tries to fight it.

   Very rarely do we see intrusive thoughts in media. It surely shook me to my core when I saw my own thought process on paper while reading this book.  It’s hard to articulate these thoughts to someone because saying them out loud makes you sound, for lack of a better word, “crazy,”. They just don’t make sense to anyone who has never had these thoughts. However,  seeing it on paper draws a powerful connection for any reader who suffers from anxiety and OCD.

   This is because John Green suffers from anxiety and OCD, the same things that Aza suffers from. Green takes his own experiences and thoughts,  putting them into the words that many people cannot say.  Going into a new depth of skill and reliability not seen in previous novels.

   As the book continues, the reader goes down their own spiral as we lose track of the plot and focus completely on Aza’s thoughts. The original plot takes a back seat, almost forgotten. This would be a huge problem in most novels, but here it works. Why? It’s a metaphor for how people with OCD become so involved with their intrusive thoughts that they cannot see past it. She is so wrapped up in her illness, she cannot see the plot.

   The hunt for the billionaire was only a red herring, the real antagonist is Azas’ anxiety and OCD.

   There are a few problems with the book, such as the climax resolving too quickly and many of the other characters do not have much development. (John Green if you’re reading this please make a Davis Pickett spin-off). However, the powerful prose, funny in some moments, Earth-shattering in others makes this novel. This novel reminds us all that John Green is the King of YA.

   The most powerful and touching part of the novel is the ending which follows no trope. It doesn’t follow the death of a character like in other John Green novels. Nor does it end with the main character getting 100% well like in most mental illness books. Instead, the ending is both powerful and painful because of the realness of it, breaking our hearts in a way Looking for Alaska or The Fault in Our Stars could not: it gave us an ending that was relatable.

Verdict: While this book did not outrank my two favorite John Green novels, The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, this book did have a profound impact on me that left me reeling for weeks after (and yes, I did cry). It was so moving to read something that connected so closely to my own thoughts.  It really helped me understand and recognize my own mental illness better (representation matters!).  This book is perfect for anyone who suffers from anxiety, OCD, or any other mental health issues. Or if you love someone with a mental health issue but don’t understand what they are going through. This is probably one of the best mental health novels out there.

If you like to order Turtles All The Way Down click here.

To learn more about the author John Green click here

Ranking 4.5/5 turtles 

 

Originally posted 2017-11-06 13:55:59.

Ellen Ricks is a word-for-hire, fashion blogger, and bibliophile living in upstate New York. She has a BFA in Creative Writing from SUNY Potsdam and has been published in a number of literary magazines, both in print and online. She runs the fashion blog Sarcasm in Heels.  When not writing, Ellen enjoys frolicking in fancy dresses, consuming pumpkin spice everything, and dismantling the patriarchy.

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Why We Loved “Lafayette” And What He Brought To True Blood

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Sadness wrapped around my entire being July 8 when I was tagged in a Facebook post by my daughter. She was sharing, that Juilliard studied Nelsan Ellis, the straight Black man who brought us True Blood’s (TB),  Lafayette had made his transition. My reply, “NO!”  I’d turned her on to TB and that post was special between us. Rolling Stone confirmed things in a beautifully written tribute. The news of his death traveled fast across social media with celebrities checking in on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We were all crushed.  

Heart Issues Were The Culprit

Complications from heart issues and a history of alcoholism and drugs took one of my favorite actors. Family members shared with Hollywood Insider that Ellis opted out of treatment where he’d tried several times, and elected to deal with his demons on his own.  My God. At 39, the Chicago-area native had accomplished so much. His credentials include father, actor, writer, director and producer. There was so much more he could have done. His early passing is a reminder to keep a reign on our health status. That’s a message for everyone.

The Realness of Lafayette

Lafayette gave me life. With his passing, I went back to Youtube and thankfully found several clips of Lafayette doing his thing. A don’t f*ck with me Butch-Queen who would read you up and down without missing a beat, as he side-eyed and clapped back on unfortunate souls silly enough to try and play him, or those he loved. Lafayette also had a sweet side, but you’d be reminded that he was not here for foolishness. His frequent drops of sage wisdom were keepers. The delivery was always on point.

Took Care To Address Social Issues and Homophobia

Without Lafayette’s  character, TB would have been just another vampire series. A social justice and human rights activist in his own right, a favorite scene is Lafayette putting homophobes returning a burger he’d made as a short order cook at Monroe’s where his huge presence practically owned the place. The scene has been named “AIDS Burger” on YouTube where the hits continue to increase. If we were to give a moniker for Lafayette standing up for himself and by extension the queer community, the winner would be’ #TipYoWaitress.

Put Some Respek’ On It – Everyone Has

I usually get comments when I post about queer issues, especially how they impact my community. Not one derogatory comment was made about Ellis. His reputation as a gifted actor and friend also shone through the remarks from Hollywood and those who worked and studied with him over the years.

Rest In Power Nelsan Ellis

Check out the extensive movie catalog Ellis compiled, as he shared his gifts with the world. Condolences to the Ellis family. Thank you to Ellis and HBO for bringing the character of Lafayette Reynolds and all of his Butch-Queen swag and realness, into our lives.

Originally posted 2017-07-14 20:15:33.

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Meet the Drapers: New Reality TV Series Where Viewers Can Invest in Startups.

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meet the drapers
Meet the Drapers: New Reality TV Series Where Viewers Can Invest in Startups.

First-Ever Crowdfunding TV Show “Meet the Drapers” Premieres on Sony Entertainment Television November 19th, 2017.

Ever watch your favorite investment show and wish you could get in on the action, too? Now you can! In the new reality series, “Meet the Drapers”, millions of viewers will be able to invest alongside the sharks — the Draper family, Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists.

Meet the Drapers, the first series of its kind, allows regular people to become investors — right from their couch, while watching the show. This unique angle is made possible by the recent SEC regulations that for the first time opened investment crowdfunding to the public.

Investments will take place through the equity crowdfunding platform Republic, which has announced it will be Meet the Drapers’ official investment platform.

“Republic’s partnership is instrumental for the show’s success,” says producer Sarika Batra. “No other platform out there makes investing as friendly and easy, which is critical for the – often first-time – investors watching the show.”

“Crowdfunding is removing barriers like never before,” says Republic CEO, Kendrick Nguyen. “What was once viewed as an industry for a selected few is now accessible to everyone. And we’re thrilled to be part of a TV show that promotes entrepreneurship and enables greater diversity among both founders and investors.”

“South Asians – the show’s core audience – are a vibrant part of the Silicon Valley startup culture,” says Jaideep Janakiram, Head of the Americas at Sony Pictures Networks. “We created this show to showcase these trailblazing entrepreneurs, VCs and angels, and to allow our viewers to participate in their ventures.

“Meet the Drapers” is produced by Sarika Batra and is airing in partnership with the Draper Family, Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and Republic and sponsored by ICO Investor.tv.

The series premieres Sunday, November 19 at 6PM ET on Sony Entertainment Television. SET is a paid channel on Dish network, Sling TV and major cable providers — please check your local listings.

About Republic:
Republic launched in 2016 with a mission to democratize investing. A leading equity crowdfunding platform and sister company of AngelList, Product Hunt and CoinList, Republic is part of one of the most prominent startup ecosystems in the world. On Republic, anyone can invest in breakout early-stage startups for as little as $10 in just a few minutes, using their credit card or bank account.

About Sony Entertainment Television:
Sony Entertainment Television (SET), one of India’s leading Hindi general entertainment television channels is a part of Sony Pictures Television (SPT) backed Sony Pictures Networks, which is India’sleading television network. Since its launch in October 1995, SET has created a unique space for itself in the Indian Television industry. Pioneering new waves in television programming, with blockbuster movie premieres, big format non-fiction shows and an impressive array of fiction shows like Sabse Bada Kalakar, Super Dancer, The Kapil Sharma Show, Indian Idol, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman, Beyhadh, Kuch Rangpyre Ke Aise Bhi, Bajirao Peshwa, CID, Crime Patrol Bade Acche Lagte Hain, Bharat Ka Veer Putra Maharana Pratap and Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyar. SET is known for its innovative concepts and exciting formats and is the most preferred family entertainment channel which has been providing strong platforms for more than 700 brands to reach over 93 million households in India. In addition, Sony Entertainment Television is also available in the US, UK, Africa, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji Islands and Seychelles. In total, SET influences over 332 million viewers in the Indian sub-continent, and the South Asian Diaspora worldwide.

About ICO Investor.tv:
ICO Investor.tv is the title sponsor of the show. They are a trusted source of information for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) enthusiasts and ICO investors. Their sister site, NextGen Crowdfunding will provide data for all campaigns on the show, and a live Crowdfunding Ticker will display updates on investor commitments for each campaign. Through the Meet the Drapers dashboard, viewers can “follow” and track the deals they are most interested in.

More information on the show please visit setasia.tv/meetthedrapers.
Show website: http://meetthedrapers.com/
Detailed information on participating startups can be found on republic.co/meet-the-drapers.

Originally posted 2017-11-19 04:37:43.


Also published on Medium.

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How To Complete NaNoWriMo Without Losing Your Sanity

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When most think of November, they conjure up images of turkey, cozy sweaters, and the seemingly endless preparations for the Holiday Season. However, if you’re in the writing community, November brings up images of frantic typing and the fear of a looming deadline.

That’s right folks, NaNoWriMo is here, and it’s getting cray.

  What’s NaNoWriMo you ask? It’s a fancy acronym for National Novel Writing Month. This month-long creative “holiday” was created by freelance writer Chris Baty in July of 1999 with 21 participants in the San Francisco Bay area. The next year, it was moved from July to November to “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.

The objective? Write a rough draft of a novel (about 50,000 words or more) in 30 days. Anyone else screaming yet?

This is a free event that anyone can do, just join their website and start writing in any format. Just as long as you get 50,000 words before the end of the month. Participants can submit their novel to be automatically verified for length and receive a printable certificate, an icon they can display on the web, and inclusion on the list of winners. Also, bragging rights.

 Hey there,  I’m Ellen, a Features Writer here at TravelPride and a writer by occupation. I have a BFA in Creative Writing and have written a novel already. I’ve always wanted to do NaNoWriMo and I thought this would be the perfect time to do it. Plus I want to take a break from writing my current memoir and do the fun interconnected short story collection I’ve been dying to write for years. I thought this was going to be so easy. I mean my senior thesis was 50,000 words. My novel manuscript is 96,000 words. 50,000 words will be a piece of cake.

Me, Writer and actual Fool.

I was wrong. It’s hard ya’ll.

       To complete NaNoWriMo on time you need to write 1,667 words per day, which is roughly 6 pages, double-spaced. That may not seem like a lot, but with everything you have to do in a day, plus find the creativity and energy to write 6 pages seems overwhelming.

   Then there’s something I call the “NaNo slump” which happens around the second or third week of November. The first week of NaNoWriMo you’re all excited and ready to write, cranking out 2,000+ words a day. Then you get busy, writer’s block or just plain fall behind and then quit because you think you can ever catch up.

   Well, stop write there (get it?). I’ve got some great tips for how to complete NaNoWriMo without losing your inspiration, hope, and sanity.

 

Write Everyday

The most important part of writing for NaNoWriMo or just being a writer is creating a writing schedule. One of the genius things about NaNoWriMo is that it allows you to become a better and more successful writer after this is over since it takes 30 days to create a habit. By writing every day in the month of November, you’re setting yourself up for writing all year long.

Carve a period of time out of your day and set it aside just for writing. It can be early in the morning, late at night, an hour, two, whatever you can and use that time to just write and only write. If your life is a little crazy and can’t form a schedule, write when you’re on the go. Carry your tablet with you, use the Notes app on your phone, or do the old-fashioned pen and paper and write whenever you get a free moment. Waiting for your flight? Write. Commuting to home or work? Write. On your lunch break? Write! You’ll be surprised how all those little moments of writing really add up. It’s just important to write every day. Just write it!

Prompts

   Oh, Writer’s block, the sworn enemy of a writer. That blank page causes so much anxiety and could lead you to giving up on your project because you’re “stuck.” A writing prompt could help you. NaNoWriMo’s website is awesome because they have a feature called “word sprints” which is a timed writing challenge. You set a timer, open up your draft, and race against the clock to add words to your novel. They have a cool “dare me” button that gives you little writing prompts such as “Write a scene that takes place in a house of mirrors.” or “Have one character have a sudden personality switch with another”. It’s a fun little way to get the juices going. You can also just google “writing prompts” to find some good ones. Have fun with it!

Buddy System

   Teamwork makes the dream work! NaNoWriMo has a cool feature where you can have a writing buddy with friends who are also doing NaNoWriMo, which is a fun way to help encourage each other or be a shoulder to cry on. One of my dear friends, Cassie, who’s also a writer has been doing NaNoWriMo for years and she’s been a great resource (she also made a book cover for me, because she’s the real MVP). My friend Kelsey is doing NaNoWriMo for the first time too. It’s just nice to not feel alone in my frustrations and have someone who is also going through this. NaNoWriMo also has forums where writers can talk to one another because, despite popular belief, writers are not solitary creatures, but communities.

Let Go and Have Fun

   I personally put so much pressure on myself, not only during NaNoWriMo but in my everyday professional life. When something I write isn’t perfect on the first try, or I don’t meet my word count, I beat myself up over it. You have to remember that NaNoWriMo is all about having fun. No one is reading your novel right now, no one is judging you but yourself. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words, it’s okay if you take a break or write something crappy. You can always write more words and it’s better to write something crappy and edit it later than to never write at all.

   For some more words of advice let’s talk to TravelPride’s own Editor and Weekly Columnist, Summer Kurtz. Summer has actually completed NaNoWriMo in the past. Here’s how she completed the writing challenge:

“I had to set a schedule/goal and really stick to it as closely as I could. I think I tried to do a certain number of words daily and if I didn’t quite hit that I had a weekly goal to try and meet or even exceed if possible. It really helped me to become a more disciplined writer but also learn not to beat myself up over not reaching every single goal. On days I got stuck I would write a couple hundred words on any other topic I felt like until my motivation returned.”

   Fantastic advice. How are doing in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments and follow my own NaNoWriMo journey here. Remember: we’re all in this together!

Happy Writing!

 

Originally posted 2017-11-15 18:30:10.

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