Over the last year and a bit since I started posting my scribbles a little more actively to the internets I’ve had several messages asking have I read Robin McKinley's book “Beauty- a retelling of the story of beauty and the beast” and up until yesterday the answer was no.  Well not any more.  I spotted it on amazon for under five quid while doing other Christmas shopping and finally gave in and oh my goodness it was so goddamn adorable!   Thank you all who recommended it!

Quick pencil sketches and SAI.

Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you. Listen to yourself. If you are excited by what you are writing, you have a much better chance of putting that excitement over to a reader.
—  Robin McKinley
One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer — I’ve said this from a slightly different angle in another answer — is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you’re going to manage to get down on paper. (And if you ever think otherwise, then you’ve turned into an arrogant self-satisfied prat, and should look for another job or another avocation or another weekend activity.) So you have to learn to live with the fact that you’re never going to write well enough. Of course that’s what keeps you trying — trying as hard as you can — which is a good thing. As I started off saying, writing takes practise.
—  Robin McKinley, on advice to those who would like to be writers

After Díaz wrote an essay criticizing MFA programs in the New Yorker, Salon got a look at his class syllabus

This is an incredible reading list.

World Building: Some things to consider always when taking on a new world: What are its primary features—spatial, cultural, biological, fantastic, cosmological? What is the world’s ethos (the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize the world)? What are the precise strategies that are used by its creator to convey the world to us and us to the world? How are our characters connected to the world? And how are we the viewer or reader or player connected to the world?

A Princess of Mars by ER Burroughs
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (Recommended)

Advanced Fiction: No sign of Alice Munro or Francine Prose here. As Díaz told Salon: “If race or gender (or any other important social force) are not part of your interpretive logic—if they’re not part of what you consider the real—then you’re leaving out most of what has made our world our world. This is a long way of saying that it’s not the books you teach, but how you teach them.”

Clara by Roberto Bolaño
Hitting Budapest by NoViolet Bulawayo
Whites by Julie Otsuka
Ghosts by Edwidge Danticat
My Good Man by Eric Gansworth
Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li
Bounty by George Saunders

What’s a princess to do when her subjects don’t trust her, her extended family ostracizes her, and her own father is forced to pass over her for inheritance of the crown, just because she is a girl and her mother was a mysterious foreign witch? Rather than try to fit in, Aerin decides to stand out. If she won’t be queen, or even a satisfactory princess, she’ll do something useful and become a dragonslayer! This is a fantastic book about a young woman working hard to forge her own path.

…Just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your energy, and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.
—  Robin McKinley

I’m so fucking sick of people complaining about YA novels with female protagonists getting movies and that Divergent ist just “another Hunger Games”. Um, no, it’s not. You would know if you’ve actually read the book. But even if it was - so what? Noone’s complaining about the 276489235th comic book movie about a straight white cis guy.

So shut the fuck up and let me enjoy Hunger Games and Divergent. And give me movie adaptions of other brilliant YA novels with female protagonists like all of the novels written by Kristin Chashore, Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley.