Changing as a Reader because of…

Technology. Let me explain.

One of the students that I work with is singing here, and seriously it’s among the top 10 best renditions of the Star Spangled Banner. After listening to more of her music, I got to thinking about all the talented souls out there. Most of which I can find by just tapping an app on my phone. Technology is moving so fast and we are changing with it. I know I’ve been affected, for sure. From the way I communicate to what I find entertaining. Is it still true that 55% of communication is through body language? Social media’s making me reevaluate this fact. But I’m just going to share how technology has changed me as a reader.

I saw Les Miserables last year and loved it so much I dragged my husband out to see it with me. I bribed him with the whole Hugh Jackman’s in it sells strategy. Anyway, I couldn’t wait to read the book; I knew it was good. The movie showed great promise for a remarkable read.

Well…so, I thought. Nothing against the novel, I don’t bash books or anyone’s work–ever. But reading Les Miserables taught me something about myself. By the time I got to page 20, I was done. Unless I’m reading a science fiction or fantasy book where I’m introduced to a world that I can’t Google, I have very little patience for overly descriptive writing. As a kid, I enjoyed this style, probably because I grew up in a small college town where anything different was amazing. But now, I just don’t want to take the time—even if the writing is exquisite. Time is something I value–because once it’s gone–that’s it–it’s gone.

I know I’m not alone—the proof is technology. Isn’t that the appeal? Technology has allowed us to connect easily, get to places faster, and find answers to just about anything. If I’m reading a contemporary novel I tend to bore easily if it’s too descriptive. I mean, what picture is the author creating that I haven’t seen? With the help of the internet there are very few images that are foreign to me (However with science fiction and fantasy, being overly descriptive is helpful).:)

As of late, I’ve considered the way technology has changed my taste as a reader. Being pulled into the story right away is what keeps me reading. It’s what all those literary agents talk about when they say, “hook.” It’s so true and I don’t always like that because there are probably wonderful books that aren’t given a chance because the reader wasn’t hooked by the first page. Trust me, I talk to college students all the time and they said that’s how they decided on a book. But who can blame them? With the little time everyone feels they have and all the options available when it comes to entertainment, why should they bother reading a book that doesn’t grab them immediately?

I wonder about the books that are classics. Ten years from now, will it stand out at all as technology advances? It reminds me of watching old movies, the ones that my grandmother loved. I find myself struggling to get through them now because it feels slow. I stare at the screen anxious for something to happen–a flash, a crash an explosion–something.  Maybe we’re past the times where writers can work on books for a decade. As technology evolves and the entertainment options increase, I fear that someone’s book can become irrelevant before publication. Oh boy! I hope not. No matter the technology, a good story will always be just that…a good story.

Has technology changed your reading interests?  With so many options for entertainment, how do you make sure that your work stands out?

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RA of the Month

RA of the month

Here’s the part of my blog where I recognize a really cool RA.The first RA of the month is Mandy Rae! Yay for Mandy!

mandy Rae

Mandy likes Harry Potter, Glee and the color yellow

She so graciously agreed to let me feature her on this post. After I finished the second draft of my book last year, I came across her tumblr: youknowyoureanrawhen, which made me smile and laugh. There was stuff on there about RAlife that I could really relate to, even though I haven’t been an RA in years. I find it comforting that the RA job hasn’t changed, proving that the Reslife culture is going strong. I snagged a few of the RA saying from her blog. Don’t fret; I’ll translate the RA lingo.

ykyramandypinkyouknowredyouknow

Duty—RAs have to walk around their building to make sure students are alright and not getting into trouble

Program—Planned events RAs provide for students

You can also find community on her blog–RAs trying to help each other. The job is pretty stressful: dealing with crisis situations and my goodness, the paperwork is like having three extra classes. So Mandy, providing a Dear Abby kind of section has been tremendously helpful for RAs everywhere. Like her tagline states, “A place where RA and (CAs) can share ideas and stories.”

Congratulations Mandy Rae on being RA of the Month!! Keep Shining!

If you’d like to recognize an RA let me know. I’d love to highlight  their awesomeness on my blog.;)

Self-Segregation in College…it happens

So, I came across this video while reading an interesting article here

I’m on campus almost every day—I work with college students. Meeting new people is one of the things I love about college life. Usually the person is with their friends doing some typical college thing, like studying, eating or socializing. After a while I started noticing how many students self-segregate. Constantly I’d find groups of students solely hanging out with others that looked like them. Sometimes the most diversity I’d see in a day would be among athletes. But then again, there’s a little segregation going on there too. Now this is just my observation. But I’m a fairly nosy girl so I started asking students if self-segregation occurs, and if they had opinions about it.

Not to turn this into a research paper, I’ll just summarize the outcome. Basically, the majority of them unintentionally, self-segregated, it happened naturally within the first few weeks of school. And I think I know why. There’s an overload of newness in college. In general, students leave home for the first time, new roommates, choosing a major, new classroom structure, finding a boyfriend/girlfriend. With everything around them being so different, possibly they’re looking for somewhere to belong. Relating to others create connection–we all know that. And even though it’s superficial, race is one of the first noticeable traits. It’s a commonality, a connection, which generates an immediate sense of belonging.

Another question surfaces as I thought about students need to belong. Are there other areas where this happens? Clinging to a certain group trying to fit in, so to say. Curiosity led me to ask them if their peers played into stereotypes that, we writers, avoid displaying in our characters. They laughed like I had asked a simple question. To them it was. Because they see their peers daily living out what others might call…stereotypical. And you know what, that’s totally fine. Everyone is an individual, yes, but I also believe that certain behaviors and interests are cultural. No one should be ridiculed or labeled as they pursue acceptance or identity.

The issue lies with the belief that stereotypical behavior is less, unimportant, or negative. However, it is horrible if someone assumes a person is a certain way just because of race, gender, sexuality or ability level.

What does this mean for contemporary fiction about college students? How can we include diversity when it’s not always happening in college? I think authors should write whatever they want, so maybe it means nothing. But take a stroll across campus and try writing about what you see.  It’ll only make for a better story! 🙂