The Beautiful Books: NaNoWriMo 2017 – Part 2

Image Description: a tinted-blue close-up picture of a type-writer's keypad.
Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
I had planned to write a first draft of Orion – Volume II of my Pushing Boundaries series, but I just couldn’t. Every time I sat down at my laptop my mind went blank and I had no motivation to write, despite the fact that I’ve been working on a novel outline for months now. I also feel incredibly tired and drained whenever I try to sit down and write something, which is why I haven’t written anything for the first week of NaNoWriMo. My mental state is… frustrating. I’m so tired all the time, even when I’ve had a good night’s sleep and lots of water. My partner suspects I’ve been having some problems with sleep apnea, so I’ll be looking into a sleep study to see if that’s the source of the problems. So, I figured I’d stop working on Orion for the time being and work on something else.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
My “novel project” isn’t really a novel project, it’s more like a series of Thought-Dump style journal entries, because of the personal nature of these entries, I don’t plan on publishing them, however, this is the first paragraph of one of the entries:

“I have a long habit of hyper-focusing on songs, usually specific songs, I play them over and over again, and it’s taken me longer than it should have to note the patterns of my musical obsessions. While I have the tendency to gravitate towards specific genres, when I obsess over specific songs, there is a not-so-subtle correspondence to the emotional state I was experiencing at the time.”

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
My novel project is more like a diary, with myself as the only character, but I don’t particularly like me as a main character, I don’t think I’m interesting enough, but as no one’s going to read this particular project, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

What do you love about your novel so far?
At this stage, I think “love” is too strong a word for my novel project, I think the difference between this novel project and Orion – Volume II is that I feel motivated to write. I can ramble on and on, at this stage it doesn’t need to be perfect or make sense, but with Orion – Volume II, I just feel stuck and I can’t move forward.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
It’s mostly me wandering off topic into tangents and then saying, “What was I talking about again? I’m sure there was a point to be made here; now what was it again?”. Although, I will acknowledge that as editing isn’t my strong suit, so there’s probably typos everywhere.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
My favourite parts of my novel to write is banter in general, but especially unintentional-flirty banter between two subjects of romantic interest.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
I’m not very good at developing a writing habit, and I’m not consistent with timing (I tend to write all over the place), however, I have noticed I tend to have my better ideas or stronger motivation to write at night.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
Batman-style, I find sounds and noises to be ultra distracting, so if I’m working in a group situation, I must have my mp3 player in order to block out noise. Kim has also given me some great instrumental music, but I’ve only just started using it, so I’m not sure if it’s productive or not.

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
I find this element of writing to be the hardest, it’s easy for me to become demotivated and lose focus on a project, I rarely finish my projects. As I’m an over-writer, I don’t think reaching the 50 000 word mark means you’re finished, if I’m lucky it’s the mid-point of the novel. A work of fiction should have a distinctive beginning, middle and end. With my projects I have managed to finish, I’ve noticed that I’m more inclined to get the work done if there’s a fixed deadline and I have good momentum with a novel. Anxiety about getting the project finished can sometimes work, but it can also be a double-edged sword.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
01. Don’t keep doing something just because everyone else is doing it, if you’re struggling with something, pay attention to it. Don’t try to force it. There’s more than one way of doing things. If it’s not working for you, acknowledge it, and change it. Also, reward yourself when you get it right, you deserve it.

02. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve often found that it’s so much easier to help someone else with their WIP novel then fix my own, however, in saying that, sometimes all you need to do listen to them talk about their current WIP and occasionally they will come up with the solution on their own. If you don’t have someone to talk to about your WIP novel, try doing a thought dumping exercise and see if that helps. There’s also heaps of online resources available for Writer problems.

03. Try not to compare yourself to other writers. “Comparison is the Thief of Joy” and writing should be a joy (although it will not always be the case), and it doesn’t matter if that writer is “further ahead” than you are. There’s only one you and no one else can do what you do (possible Dr Seuss Quote? IDK).

The Beautiful Books – NaNoWriMo 2017

Image Description: a tinted-blue close-up picture of a type-writer's keypad.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I’ve been working on the Pushing Boundaries project for two years now.

Describe what your novel is about!
I have a blurb for it:
Operation Nightshade is about to commence, the undercover operatives are moving into position and the target contact, Cassandra Acker, has been acquired. John
Smith’s undercover agent is struggling to establish contact, while John just thinks it’s bad timing, however, James thinks it’s more sinister, especially when he discovers Cassie’s phone number on a piece of paper in Beth’s bedroom.

Beth has absolutely no desire to go undercover, yet is torn between two powerful factions: Uncle John and Justine, fighting for the justice a dead journalist deserves, versus Cassie, a nineteen-year-old woman who is just trying to get out a bad family situation—a situation with which Beth is uncomfortably familiar with.

James feels that Beth is sabotaging Operation Nightshade from within. The more time Beth spends with Cassie, though, the more Beth comes to agree with him. Is it possible for her to help both John Smith and Cassie Acker? Beth doesn’t have all the answers, but she’s going to find out.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Image Description: a picture of the English countryside. The background has stonewall fences outlining green fields with sheep. The foreground contains a stone walking path that bridges across a small creek.


Image Description: a white stone cottage with an open teal-grey door, with a large bushel of red roses growing by the doorway.


Image Description: a leafy path with green leafy trees overhanging the path, a stonewall fence in the middle of the photograph with an open iron gate.

Introduce us to each of your characters!
Beth (Australian University student), James (computer programmer and University teacher/lecturer) and Justine (Private Investigator) are the main characters of the series.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I attempt to outline, flail about, and stock up on snacks. I attempt to plan out meals for November, that way I don’t have to stop writing for long, however, I’m generally only good at this type of organisation for a couple of weeks.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I think I’m going to enjoy writing chapters where Beth is getting caught up in Cassie’s Drug Selling Drama and is torn between the two different factions, especially the chapters from James’s perspective (who is super suspicious and kinda jealous of Beth’s growing involvement).

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Kirkby Stephen is a small country town in the UK, it’s well-known for its national parks and walking trails, it’s very green and super scenic, however, it’s also isolated (even by Australian standards). The nearest town with a supermarket is half an hour away by car and the public transport system isn’t very accessible (or at least Google Maps doesn’t seem to think so).

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
~Beth: Beth’s goal is have a “normal” tourist/student experience in the UK and I suppose Cassie, her Uncle John, and James are the ones who are going to interfere with that.
~James: James’ goal is to bring down the Acker Family and reveal them for what they really are. James thinks Beth is interfering with this goal.
~Justine: Justine’s goal is get justice for a journalist that was killed, she thinks Cassie may be in the way of that, but it isn’t correct.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
~Beth: Right now, Beth doesn’t really know what she wants, hopefully by the end of the trilogy, she will know what she wants and will be more confident about herself and her choices.
~James: James is a bit of a dark place at the moment, it’s difficult to mentally heal when you’re in a toxic environment, so hopefully by the end of the series James is in a better place (emotionally and financially) and has more confident in himself and his abilities.
~Justine: Justine is currently dealing with her own issues (Anxiety + PTSD + Other stuff), so I’m hoping that Justine’s mental state becomes a more manageable and she resolves her issues with her ex-girlfriend.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
I feel that this kind of question is for the Reader of the Book, rather than the Writer of the Book, stuff like symbolism and themes aren’t always intentional decisions on the Author’s behalf, however, one of the big ideas I hope to put forward is that Disability doesn’t have an age barrier. Neurological disabilities like Autism and ADHD are for life and they don’t magically disappear just because a person is now legally an adult. I also want to put forward that Ableism, a lack of accessibility (whether that’s accommodations or diagnostic services), and a lack of support (from family and government services) can really hurt people and have far-reaching consequences.

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid

Image Description: book-cover of the Auido-book format of The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid. The title text and the author text (in white) take up most of the cover, the cover has a yellow sepia-tint to it, but I think it's a picture of farm-yard or pasture with a delapidated brick building in it.
Title: The Mermaids Singing (Book #1 of the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Series)
Author: Val McDermid
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About The Author:
Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies. She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. She writes full-time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

About The Book:
You always remember the first time. Isn’t that what they say about sex? How much more true it is of murder…Up till now, the only serial killers Tony Hill had encountered were safely behind bars. This one’s different – this one’s on the loose.Four men have been found mutilated and tortured. As fear grips the city, the police turn to clinical psychologist Tony Hill for a profile of the killer. But soon Tony becomes the unsuspecting target in a battle of wits and wills where he has to use every ounce of his professional nerve to survive.A tense, beautifully written psychological thriller, The Mermaids Singing explores the tormented mind of a serial killer unlike any the world of fiction has ever seen.

General Observations:
~The Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: The novel actually manages to have a great mixture of Plot and Character, although, I personal feel it does fall towards the Character end of the spectrum. Due to the nature of Dr Tony Hill’s work, the reader does spend a lot of time inside psychologist’s head. but I found this interesting and engaging.

I really enjoyed the dual perspective of Dr Tony Hill and Inspector Carol Jordan, they work well together and bounce off each others strengths and weaknesses, however, I wish the novel didn’t dwell so much on the Unresolved Sexual Tension between them. I hope the 2nd book doesn’t focus on this as much, but I suspect this will be a long-standing feature of the series.

~Time Marches On: Most of the book centers around moving towards new methods or technology like computers and psychological profiles, and away from old problematic methods the police force have become accustomed to using, however, this book was published in 1995, and I found it rather jarring to read about “cutting edge technology” that involved CD-ROM drives and saving documents to floppy disks. In fact, it made me laugh a little bit, okay fine, I laughed a lot.

~Problematic Elements: The book gave me the impression that labels such as transgender and transsexual either mean the same thing or are interchangeable, but from the small amount of research I’ve done, these labels are not interchangeable (for more information on labels, here’s a link). This could just be a combination of language changing over time and me looking too much into it, however, I feel it’s better to mention this kind of stuff up front, that way it doesn’t creep up on people unexpectedly.

While I don’t want to spoil the ending, I’m also unsure about the Villain in question, there are parts me that think it’s great. There’s clearly been a lot of thought put into it and it’s a great plot twist, but there’s also a part of me that finds it questionable. If you’ve read the book, let me know in the comments section below what you think.

In conclusion, a good first book into a series, engaging female main-character, and the plot is gripping and interesting, however, I recommend the paperback format over the audio-book, the voice-actor was okay, but I suspect the voice actor might not work for everyone.

Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Stim Toy Review: Galaxy Apple


Image Description: a clear plastic-bag with a red-outline around the bag. Up the top of the bag are Japanese hiragana, the word ringo (which translates to apple), underneath the hiragana symbols is the English word “APPLE”. Inside the plastic bag, a large apple with a spectrum of colour, it ranges from dark-blue at the bottom, blue and light-blue in the middle. There are specs of white dotted randomly across the surface of the apple.


Image Description: a large apple with a spectrum of colour, it ranges from dark-blue at the top, blue and light-blue in the middle, with purple down the bottom. There are specs of white dotted randomly across the surface of the apple.


Image Description: a large apple with a spectrum of colour, it ranges from dark-blue at the bottom, blue and light-blue in the middle, with purple up the top with black squishable stem. There are specs of white dotted randomly across the surface of the apple.

Item: Areedy Galaxy Apple

Category: Review/Feedback

Cost: US $7.45 (Approx. AU $9.49) each (Shipping Fees: AU $0.00)

Date of Purchase: 17/09/2017

Date of Delivery: 27/09/2017

Store: eBay

Store Location: China

Review:
Kim was researching for a replacement Apple Squishy, combined with the popularity of Galaxy-themed stim toys, they recommended this one to me. Naturally, I had to add it to my own personal collection but I decided I should also add this to the stim toy giveaway I plan on hosting for Pushing Boundaries series.

The Galaxy Apple is 10cm, it belongs on the larger end of the scale of my Squishy Collection, I’ve included a picture of my favourite pale-pink strawberry squishy to act as a visual-guide for size-scale:

Image Description: a pale-pink squishable strawberry sitting next to a large apple with a spectrum of colour, it ranges from dark-blue at the bottom, blue and light-blue in the middle, with purple up the top with black squishable stem. There are specs of white dotted randomly across the surface of the apple.

The Galaxy Apple is very soft and squishable, and when it’s squished, it’s slow rising. The skin is shinny and scented, but the scent isn’t particularly strong (or at least not by my standards). I have to hold the apple up to my face to smell it. I’m certain that the scent will fade away when given the proper airing time. There’s a picture below of what the apple looks like when crushed inside a fist.

Image Description: a pale hand crushing a large apple with a spectrum of colour, it ranges from dark-blue at the bottom, blue and light-blue in the middle, with purple up the top with black squishable stem. There are specs of white dotted randomly across the surface of the apple.
I was concerned that the “shiny” paint might come off on my hand when I crushed it, but this was unfounded, no paint has come off or faded since I’ve obtained the apple and began playing with it.

In conclusion, while I do have penchant for large type of squishable stim toy, I really enjoy the Galaxy Apple. The colours are lovely, but I think it’s the softness of the apple that confirms it as an excellent choice (my squishable colossal peach is firmer by comparison).

Monthly Forecast: October 2017

Image Description: a picture of cherry-blossom tree. It's a close-up picture of the branches so that you can see numerous tiny bright-pink flowers blossoming all along the branches.

In the Southern Hemisphere, October is the time of Spring, hence the flowers (no, I am not bitter how purely American things such as pumpkin spice lattes are dominating social media, what makes you think that?). For this month, my October Reading List is more spooky themed than floral themed, however, I have made sure to include some Australian Women Writers in this list (I’m doing a terrible job on the AWWC this year, oh well *shrugs*).

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge:
Image Description: book cover of The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer. The background has a large stone cross and a graveyard. The foreground is a close-up picture of the back of a pale-skinned brunette woman wearing a black Victorian-style bodice dress, around her wrist is a latern with a skull inside it, the eyes of the skulls are green and glowing. There is a green tint across the cover.
~The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer (The Ministry of Curiousity #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book-cover of Paper Dolls by Anya Allyn. The cover image is colour scheme is dark-tinted, it features a pale-skinned young lady with blonde hair, she's wearing a black dress with white polka-dots, and she's sitting on a carousel-style blue horse.
~Paper Dolls by Anya Allyn (Dark Carousel #2)
Available for Purchase: Amazon

RMFAO Genre Challenge – Horror:
Image Description: book cover of Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. In the foreground, a pale-skinned brunette young lady is extending out her hand towards the viewer. In the background is a mountainous landscape with a break in the ground, just before the young lady's feet, from within the large crack in the landscape is lava and red spirits coming out of the crack.
~Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (Anna #2)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book cover of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The cover is in black and white and the main image is of a small pale-skinned girl wearing a fancy head-piece and a fancy party dress, she appears to be hovering above the ground.
~Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Diverse Books Reading Challenge – Intersection:
Image Description: book cover of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova. The cover has a purple tint across entire cover, in the background is a golden gate with a skulls design within the entrance doors of the gate. In front of the gate is the silhouette a female figure, the female figure is standing in front of the gate with her back to the viewer.
~Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book cover of Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. The cover image consists of a close-up shot of the back of someone's head, displaying cascading bright-pink hair with the title and author text displayed ontop of the hair.
~Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

I don’t have high hopes of reading most these books on the list, especially since October and November tend to be my busier months at work. I hoping to get some of these books knock-off my TBR pile via The Reading Quest, which was a great idea, but a massive failure on my part. In all honestly, I should have read most of these before now, so while I have my doubts, I’m going to give it a go anyway.

Image Description: a participation banner for NaNoWriMo 2017. The banner is turquoise-blue with white text, in the centre of the banner is two over-crossed pens and four stars surrounding the pens.
October is also the month of NaNoWriMo Preparation. I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I’ll be working on Orion – Volume II of the Pushing Boundaries, which means I’ll need to finish the Outline before the end of October, the Outline I’ve been trying to finish for months now. I have a special notebook put aside just for working on Pushing Boundaries stuff.
Image Description: a notebook with a light-blue and dark-blue colour-scheme. The cover consists of a start-chart of the Northern Hemisphere constellations with a black band of elastic around the edge of the notebook to keep it closed.

So yeah, what you’re reading and what you’re plans are for October? Are you thinking of getting involved with NaNoWriMo? What project are you going to work on? Let me know in the comments section down below :).

You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson


Image Description: book cover of You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson. The cover mostly consists of robin’s egg blue background, with title text and author text up the top of the book, in the foreground is a close-up head-shot of Phoebe Robinson with a serious expression on her face. Her hair is styled in a short-bob style two-toned afro that curls around her face.

Title: You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain
Author: Phoebe Robinson
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads
Publisher and Format: eBook from Plume
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

About the Author:
PHOEBE ROBINSON is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actress whom Vulture.com, Essence, and Esquire have named one of the top comedians to watch. She has appeared on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Call with Carson Daly; TBS’s Conan, Comedy Central’s Broad City, and @midnight with Chris Hardwick; as well recently landing a recurring role on the new Jill Soloway show for Amazon I Love Dick.
Robinson’s writing has been featured in The Village Voice, NY Mag, and on Glamour.com, TheDailyBeast.com, VanityFair.com, Vulture.com, and NYTimes.com. She was also a staff writer on MTV’s hit talking head show, Girl Code, as well as a consultant on season three of Broad City.
Most recently, she created and starred in Refinery29’s web series Woke Bae and, alongside Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show, she is the creator and costar of the hit WNYC podcast 2 Dope Queens as well as the host of the critically-acclaimed WNYC podcast Sooo Many White Guys. Robinson is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain, a collection of essays about race, gender, and pop culture. Robinson lives and performs stand-up in Brooklyn, NY, and is busy planning her upcoming nuptials to Michael Fassbender.

About the Book:
Being a black woman in America means contending with old prejudices and fresh absurdities every day. Comedian Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend,” as if she is somehow the authority on all things racial; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel (“isn’t that . . . white people music?”); she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.
Using her trademark wit alongside pop-culture references galore, Robinson explores everything from why Lisa Bonet is “Queen. Bae. Jesus,” to breaking down the terrible nature of casting calls, to giving her less-than-traditional advice to the future female president, and demanding that the NFL clean up its act, all told in the same conversational voice that launched her podcast, 2 Dope Queens, to the top spot on iTunes. As personal as it is political, You Can’t Touch My Hair examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases with humour and heart, announcing Robinson as a writer on the rise.

General Observation:
~Diverse Books Reading Challenge: While this novel does address a specific category of racism and microaggressions, the experiences of woman of colour who lives in New York and works as an actress/comedian, it is important that non-white people get the opportunity to share their experiences.
It’s also important for white people to recognise that racism and microaggressions can occur in multiple ways. It not always racial slurs, sometimes it’s white people pretending not to notice that you’ve been standing at the register for fifteen minutes or following you around the store to make sure you’re not shop-lifting.

~Exactly What It Says On The Tin: Phoebe Robinson explains thoroughly why you can’t touch her hair and other racial things people should know by now. Phoebe Robinson goes into detail the complicated relationship people of colour, and especially women of colour, have with their hair. That the choice to have natural hair could be a difficult decision with far reaching consequences.
While I was aware of the racial double-standards that can occur regarding people of colour and their hair, I hadn’t realised just how much time, money, and effort went into maintaining a “passable” or “acceptable” Level of hair presentation. I especially enjoyed the “The History of Hair” chapter.

~Let Me Entertain You: While the novel does dedicate a lot of space to racism in America, it’s not the only thing Phoebe Robinson talks about. My favourite chapters are the series of letters that Phoebe Robinson writes to her niece Olivia, which is kind of a funny coincidence as I also have a niece named Olivia, and I found some of the pearls of wisdom Phoebe Robinson wished to bestow upon her niece amusing and relatable.

In conclusion, due to the racial tensions currently occurring in the United States of America, I can’t help but feel that while this book is funny and engaging, it is also depressingly relevant. To be honest, a lot of the topics covered in the novel seemed obvious to me, but the fact that Phoebe Robinson felt the need to write an entire novel dedicated to these topics prove that it’s not obvious to everyone.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: a button image displaying text that reads RMFAO 2017 Genre Challenge

VidCon Australia 2017

Ticket Categories:
~Community
~Creator
~Industry

Cost: Community Ticket = AU $125.00
Duration: 08/09/2017 – 10/09/2017
Schedule: The Agenda

Community Events I’ve Attended:
Saturday 09/09/2017:
~Crafting a Community

Image Description: a large display screen with five circles featuring picture-icons, from left to right, Stephanie Patrick, Jake Bley, Matthew Patrick, Danielle Mansutti and Tyler Oakley

Crafting a Community

Image Description: a large display screen with five circles featuring picture-icons, from left to right: Stephanie Patrick, Jake Bley, Matthew Patrick, Danielle Mansutti and Tyler Oakley

Image Description: Matthew Patrick and Jake Bley sitting on a small black leather couch, Stephanie Patrick sitting in a single arm-chair

Crafting a Community

Image Description: from left to right, Matthew Patrick and Jake Bley sitting on a small black leather couch, a small white table, Stephanie Patrick sitting in a single arm-chair in the middle, another small white table, another small black leather couch with Tyler Oakley and Danielle Mansutti sitting on it.

What I Thought of the Event:
This panel was interesting and funny, however, having a group of people I’ve never heard from before giving me advice on how to build a community did feel a little weird, but I suppose it just highlighted how little I know about content creators on YouTube (definitely need to do some more research). For example: Tyler Oakley is super popular and has been involved with YouTube for about ten years now. As a result, Jake Bley and Matthew Patrick could play six degrees of separation with Tyler Oakley.

So while I don’t have an interest in Gaming, Journal Style YouTube Channels or Make-up Tutorials, I did get some advice on building a community (“It’s a conversation, not a one way street.” and “if you’re selling product, make it the best you can be, if you wouldn’t buy it, don’t sell it”), however, it didn’t feel like it was anything more than the generic advice I’d already heard. While Jake Bley and Danielle Mansutti were the only two Australians on the panel, it was good to see these two Australian YouTubers up there on equal footing with successful American YouTubers.

As a whole, I enjoyed the panel, and the panelists were all entertaining, however, I didn’t really connect with the panelists. Although, considering that nearly all the panelists have millions of subscribers, clearly they connect to other people (just not me) and I doubt they’re concerned.

~Hank, Grace & Mamrie Power Hour

Hank, Grace & Mamrie Power Hour

Image Description: a large display screen with the following text displayed: “What’s Next: 2:30 PM – Hank, Grace, and Mamrie Power Hour”. Beneath the text are three circles with pictures of (in order) Hank Green, Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart.

Hank, Grace & Mamrie Power Hour

Image Description: from left to right, Mamrie Hart sitting on a small black leather arm-chair, Hank Green sitting on a small black leather arm-chair (with his arm across his forehead to shield his eyes), and Grace Helbig sitting on a small black leather arm-chair.

What I Thought of the Event:
This event was super popular and I really enjoyed it. Hank, Mamrie, and Grace sat around and talked about their lives and answered questions and when Hank felt the crowd was getting too rowdy, he would unite us with the nationalistic chant of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie (Oi, Oi, Oi)”. Grace felt it got a little militaristic towards the end and, I must admit, she may have had a valid point there.

Hank seemed very confused at this, he was also confused by the fact that we all managed to stand up and sing the short version of our national anthem (seriously, that happened, not entirely sure why). But then again, this is the same gay who created songs such as I Fucking Love Science and Accio Deathly Hallows, so Hank really shouldn’t be that surprised that he has the capacity to inspire the audience to sing and chant upon request.

Grace and Mamrie were super funny together, I saw panels were they were separated and while they were good on their own, I felt that they were better together. I think the best kind of comedy is bouncing off people or people working as a team, although I’m sure other people will disagree. To be honest, I haven’t seen lot of My Drunk Kitchen, which is something I aim to rectify.

~Laugh It Up

Laugh It Up

Image Description: a large display screen with the following text displayed: “Laugh It Up” with five pictures in circles with names displayed beneath the corresponding picture. From left to right: Caris Bizzaca, Neel Kolhatkar, Tanya Hennessy, Ian Hecock, Grace Helbig.

What I Thought of the Event:
It was interesting to hear Tanya and Neel speak about how it was difficult to switch off, that nearly all social interactions were considered “I can use this for content”, however, it was a little depressing that both Tanya and Neel have to be involved in multiple projects (for example: Tanya has a show on Radio, she also does a separate podcast and does stuff on Facebook) in order to support themselves.

In saying that, I did find it interesting how Neel used a local pub as his feedback station/sounding board on which jokes worked or didn’t, regardless of the medium he used. On the other hand, Grace (while being very popular) said she had begun to feel less funny over time due to creative burn-out.

Unfortunately, Grace’s situation is becoming all too common in the creative arts community. It was a diverse group of people and they all brought something different to the table, so overall, while I wasn’t familiar with most of the panelist’s work, I enjoyed myself and took away some valuable advice.

Sunday 10/09/2017:
~Nerding Out

Nerding Out

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Nerding Out”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Pamela Horton, Lee Naimo, Jayden Rodrigues, Stephanie Hames (SasEffects), and Louna Maroun.

Nerding Out

Image Description: five people sitting down in orange chairs in from a plain black table, from left to right: Pamela Horton, Stephanie Hames (SasEffects), Louna Maroun (wearing black cat-ears), Lee Naimo, and Jayden Rodrigues (cosplaying as Son Goku from Dragonball Z).

What I Thought of the Event:
Unfortunately this was another panel where I didn’t know a lot about the panelists attending, however, I would like to point out that the room was mostly filled, so clearly I’m in the minority here. The panel had a strong focus on gaming and conventions (Jayden Rodrigues is very passionate about cosplay) and while I don’t have a strong interest in Gaming, this panel was entertaining and engaging.

As I’m a big fan of the Axis of Awesome, it was great to hear about Lee and Jordan’s new project Insert Coin, it sounds like Lee and Jordan are having a blast working on it, I had to struggle to contain my urge to yell out “Read A Book!” when Lee mentioned Axis of Awesome’s song Rage of Thrones.

Just as all of the panellists were united in their mutual interest of Gaming, there was some division of experience between Pamela, Stephanie, and Louna in comparison to Lee and Jayden. Pamela, Stephanie, and Louna often felt as though they constantly had to prove their “Nerd Credentials” and Expert Status in a way that their male colleagues never have to.

For example, Pamela was often interviewed (or interrogated) by gaming magazines, who asked questions about obscure video games. Pamela, as a well-informed expert in her field, could answer the questions, but it was obvious that she shouldn’t have had to answer them in the first place.

Stephanie, a special effects make-up artist specialising in Horror, was often questioned on the basis that as girl it was “unusual” for her to like horror at all, and was often asked what her favourite horror movie was. The problem with questions like “what’s you’re favourite horror movie?” is that there aren’t any right answers, so Stephanie felt she was always being set up to fail regardless of what movie she said she enjoyed.

I think it’s also important to point out that Lee and Jayden, while confessing that they didn’t have similar experiences, never dismissed the other ladies on the panel and they were quick to offer their support and sympathies for such unacceptable behaviour.

~How Do You EDU?

How Do You EDU?

Image Description: a large display screen with five circles featuring picture-icons, from left to right: Jessica Holdman (Study With Jess), Hank Green, Armando Hasudungan, Dagogo Altraide (Cold Fusion), and Kati Morton.

How Do You EDU?

Image Description: five people sitting in orange seats at a plain black table, from left to right: Jessica Holdman (Study With Jess), Kati Morton, Dagogo Altraide (Cold Fusion), Armando Hasudungan, and Hank Green.

What I Thought of the Event:
One of the few panels were I actually knew who the panelists were, as a result, I really enjoyed this panel, it was entertaining, and I found it helpful with regards to helping me construct my next big project (although it still has a long way to go). The great thing about this panel was hearing about how all the panelists were passionate about their subject of choice, and how they originally created their channels.

Kati Morton created her channel because there was a gap between Mental Health services that were provided at institutionalised clinics (like a rehab centre or an eating disorder clinic) and services available to the public outside the confines of these clinics.Kati created her videos to act a free resource for those who may not be able to afford access to Mental Health services in the USA, and she created videos specifically for parents so that they could have a better understanding of the struggles that people with mental illness face.

Jessica Holdman and Armando Hasudungan are similar in that both created their channels as a way of helping themselves to study and to remember important information regarding their area of expertise, however, these videos also ended up helping other people as well.

Hank Green and Dagogo Altraide are similar in that they both possess an interest in a subject (Dagogo is interested in learning about new technology, while Hank is more orientated towards learning about science-based subjects), they have the desire to research it, and then share it with the rest of us.

In all cases, there was a subject of interest, there was a gap in the access to knowledge on said interest, and these people figured out how to fill that gap. It’s super impressive to be honest, although, Hank was quick to point out that a big part of why projects like Crash Course has been so successful was because YouTube gave them the money and the opportunity to help them embark on this particular project. Unfortunately, money is one of many big factors that can stand in way of a creator making good content.

~Out Online

Out Online

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Out Online”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Rohan Salmond, Patrick Starrr, Damian Parker, Jake Bley, and AJ Clementine.

Out Online

Image Description: from left to right: Jake Bley and Patrick Starrr sitting on a small black couch, Rohan Salmond is sitting in a small black arm-chair in the middle, and AJ Clementine and Damian Parker sitting on a small black couch on the right.

What I Thought of the Event:
Yet another panel where I have no idea who the people are, with the exception of AJ Clementine because I researched them in connection to the Mental Health panel, however, I’m glad I attended. Patrick Starrr gave excellent advice for people wanting to be media creators, “Everybody says just be yourself, and that’s great but, you also need to make some friends, make some connections.”.

Even though I don’t have an interest in YouTube Channels that focuses on make-up (like Patrick’s does), I enjoyed his advice (“Be gentle, Be kind, Make friends”), I also admired how confident he was, and how he encouraged the audience to work with their strengths when it came to content creating (“are you a writer or a talker? I’m a talker.”).

Unlike with other panels, most of the panelists were Australian, it was great to see Australian representation, a result of this was that a large portion of the session was dedicated to talking about Marriage Equality debate in Australia and how to handle it with family members.

Jake was also passionate about how the LGBTQIA+ community needs to come together to support themselves and to protect themselves from outside forces. That we all need to be paying attention and become more active with regards to civil rights movement and civil rights protest-marches (if possible). Jake Bley was very passionate about the civil rights movement and civil rights protests, he encouraged audience members to go out and vote and to get involved.

I liked how AJ Clementine encouraged people to take their time to get to know themselves and that the only one had the right to label you, was you. In fact, AJ was very much against labels, unless they were helpful for your journey and growth.

~Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Let’s Talk About Mental Health”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Kati Morton, Nathan ZedJessica Holdman (Study With Jess), AJ Clementine, Dodie, and Annika Victoria

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Image Description: From left to right: Annika Victoria and Jessica Holdman (Study With Jess) sitting on small black couch,  Kati Morton and Dodie sitting on a small black couch in the middle, and AJ Clementine and Nathan Zed sitting on a small black couch on the right.

What I Thought of the Event:
This was the event I have been looking forward to for months. I know it will sound strange but I was nervous, anxious and excited all at once. I mean, it was a huge room and I was a distance from the stage, but it was thrilling to see Kati Morton, a person I had only watched within the safe confines of my living room, talk about Mental Health issues with other people.

I know it will sound silly, but the undeniable proof that Kati is a real person and had come all the way to Australia talk about this super important topic, it was a little overwhelming. Which is why I found it difficult to take notes, and thus remember what happened in detail, but I’ll give it a go.

Nathan Zed, being a person of colour and a man, spoke of how he felt the stigma and pressure not to talk about Mental Health problems and how he did want to be seen as a racial ambassador for mental health or that mental health was the only thing he was able to talk about. But Nathan did mention that once he did start talking about his mental illness struggles with his family, it gave his father permission to speak of his own struggles with mental illness.

Dodie talked about her struggles with derealisation and depersonalisation, depression, and anxiety. Something that makes Dodie feel better or bring herself back to her body is comforting physical contact, which is why Kati was occasionally patting Dodie on the back through out the panel. Dodie spoke about her busy schedule and how going on tour and to so many public events like VidCon within the year had taken a big toll on her mental health. Self-care was super important as well as being able to recognise when she was falling back into her depressive cycles and her bad habit of over-sharing.

Annika Victoria, a vlogger with a primary focus on sewing and DIY sewing projects, spoke about her chronic illness and the consequential mental health issues that arose from her chronic illness. Originally, Annika didn’t want to talk about her chronic illness and mental illness problems, she avoided talking about them on her YouTube channel until it was no longer possible to pretend the situation wasn’t occurring. Annika spoke of how important it was to take care of one’s mental health, alongside one’s physical health, and that talking to a therapist was not just a good idea but essential. Annika also spoke of the difficulties that people had with displaying empathy with regards to mental health and invisible disabilities.

AJ Clementine and Jessica Holdman spoke of their issues regarding anxiety, but, in all honesty, I can’t remember much. AJ spoke about how they felt mental illness wasn’t taken seriously enough and how people struggled display empathy and accept the situation. I vaguely remember that Jessica hesitantly spoke of her issues with anxiety (at first) and used her videos of a way of explaining the problem to her friends and family without having to discuss the situation face-to-face. Jessica also spoke of how common mental illness was and that Jessica made the videos she wished she had been able watch when she was a student.

~Sisters Doin’ It for Themselves

Sisters Doin’ It for Themselves

Image Description: a large display screen displaying text reading “Sister’s Doin’ It For Themselves”, below the text is five circles featuring picture-icons with names, from left to right: Erin May Henry, Kiana Jones (FreakMo), Damielou Shavelle, Danielle Mansutti, and Mamrie Hart.

Sisters Doin’ It for Themselves

Image Description: five people sitting in orange chairs at a plain black table, from left to right: Erin May Henry, Damielou Shavelle, Kiana Jones (she is holding up a fake hand to display to the audience), Mamrie Hart, and Danielle Mansutti.

What I Thought of the Event: 
This was the last panel of VidCon, so the panel members were distracted and tired (which was understandable), and it resulted in an awkward pauses and short answers to questions. Mamrie Hart, as a more experienced and perhaps more successful vlogger (in comparison to the other ladies on the panel), took the lead on most of the questions and set the tone for the panel.

Mamrie Hart’s experience was that YouTube was a platform that allowed women to be on equal footing and she believed that she wasn’t treated worse because she was a woman online. Although Mamrie did acknowledge the presence of trolls and gross commentators, however, she did not dwell or expand on this. She truly felt that women may even have the advantage with regards to platforms such as YouTube. This felt rather contrary to what the Ladies on the “Nerding Out” panel had discussed, who felt they often had to prove themselves as “Real Nerds” to other men in order to be taken seriously.

The idea that gender might not be a big of a factor as I first thought sounded too good to be true. Just because sexism on YouTube (or harassment in general) doesn’t occur on one particular channel or a specific online community, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen at all.

Kiana Jones did speak of how within the industry, the special-effects make-up artists were mostly female, but the managers were mostly male or that men owned a lot of the special-effects companies. There were occasionally moments where female make-up artists were hired for dubious reasons, such as objectification purposes, rather than for their artistry skills.

Danielle Mansutti handled audience questions really well and, with Mamrie’s assistance, advised an audience member on how to not feel jealous or envious of other people’s success and how you should use those moments to inspire yourself to create better content. Danielle also recommended making the best videos you can make, but also acknowledged that the videos she was most passionate about (like her compilation video A Day With You) wouldn’t necessarily be popular with her audience.

All the ladies on the panel encouraged audience members to embrace their creativity, they encouraged the “Do it Today, Not Tomorrow” attitude, the only problem with this is that the “Just Do It” method is what I have been doing my entire life and it hasn’t been that successful thus far. If anything, VidCon had proven to me that I have a lot more research to do and a lot more planning to put in place.

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