sorry.

Tags

Dear You,

I’m sorry I said I’d write more and then didn’t follow through. I have so many posts drafted and half-heartedly cobbled together, but ultimately sitting unfinished, because I don’t feel like they’re worth anyone’s time, including mine.

It’s just that lately I’ve been feeling so much like a fraud, like everything I have going for me and everything that I’m successful at is only the result of luck and deception, like the few awards that I’ve won and the little applause that I’ve garnered only fell into my lap because I was up against weak competition or judges biased in my favor, and that if I actually had the balls to try for anything real, anything important, anything that means anything at all, I would fail so much more than I have in the past.

Sometimes I wish it was easier to step back and remind myself:

I am legitimately good at things.
I am legitimately good at things.
I am legitimately good at things.

Love,
Me

happy new year!

Tags

,

Dear You,

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. That pretty much sums up my 2012. In the past year, I have lived, loved, laughed, pushed myself to new limits, been peacefully content in the midst of chaos, and experienced more perfect drunken college nights than I can remember; I have also cried, lied, lashed out, let myself be violated, regretted too many decisions, and spent days, nights, weeks feeling terrifyingly dead inside. I have been forced to face harsh truths about myself and others, but I have also found unexpected beauty in the complicated intricacies of life that wrought those truths. I honestly don’t think I’ve been more conflicted during a single year than I have in this one.

So, naturally, it is with mixed feelings that I say goodbye to 2012 and greet 2013, but whether this year turns out to be more or less confusing than the last, there’s one thing I’ve learned: no matter which parts are good and which parts are bad, I’ll get through it all, because that’s what I do. That’s what I always do.

2012: A Year in Review

Milestones and Accomplishments

  • Finally got my driver’s license and have been driving regularly for five months without hitting anyone or anything.
  • Won 1st Place in the McKinney Contest again for my kinetic typography slam poem video, “Dream Man.”
  • Wrote and directed a short sci-fi film called “Refurbished” for my Electronic Media, Arts, and Communications thesis.
  • Graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute magna cum laude.
  • Started working as a software QA engineer at Harmonic.

Memorable Moments and Firsts

  • Broke my record of never having puked due to alcohol. Huzzah Mardi Gras! (And also that one night right before I moved home from Troy.)
  • Visited a strip club with a group of 10+ friends on my 22nd birthday. Once returning to Portland, also visited a combination steak house/strip club for the first time.
  • Participated in the 48 Hour Film Project, directing a horror short called “Guidance.” (For the love of everything, please don’t actually watch this. It’s terrible and I’m embarrassed. I couldn’t even remember what it was called just now when I was looking it up on YouTube; that’s how much I’ve blocked this experience from my mind.)
  • Discovered what a real panic attack feels like. Won’t go into that one too much, but it’s related to how much the 48 Hour Film Project sucked.
  • Lived with one of my high school friends; it was the 24/7 sleepover I always imagined it would be, though with more drinking than I anticipated in high school.
  • On the subject of high school, began mentoring a current St. Mary’s sophomore. Makes me miss being a teenager.
  • Adopted my very own sweetheart of a kitty and am learning what maternal instincts feel like. It’s very strange.

Realizations and Epiphanies

  • There are so many different kinds of love that can’t be encompassed in the one English word we have. I love you never means the same thing twice.
  • I love film and video, but it’s exhausting. Creating movies is an extrovert’s game, and the introvert I am can’t sustain it for long. I need to take breaks and recharge between projects.
  • Writing is still my one true love, and writers are still the people who truly understand me best. Words have always been there for me and will always continue to be there, even when I can’t stand anything else about the world.
  • I need alone time and privacy every day, or else I become grumpy and resentful. My own space—both physically and mentally—is more important to me than I ever realized before.
  • I am so incredibly lucky to have friends, family, and a fiancé that put up with me being crazy. There have been many days this year when I’ve been depressing at best and volatile at worst, and they’ve stuck by me through it all. I honestly don’t know what I’ve done to deserve their continued support. <3

2013: Looking Ahead

Hopes and Wishes

  • Now that I’m finally out of school and making money, with a predictable job and regular schedule, I want to use my newfound free time to pursue my hobbies. In particular, I feel like this year is going to be good for writing. I’m hoping to revive my fan fiction magazine, Fanhaven, as well as take a few classes at the Attic Institute to keep myself motivated. I’m also thinking about volunteering at my local public library and a community radio station in my spare time. (Gotta make sure not to lose my radio voice!)
  • I hope this is also the year that I get to go on a road trip. Lately, I’ve been dreaming incessantly about taking off for a couple weeks with only a vague idea of where I’m going, following the wind and highways where they lead me, stopping where I want to, staying as long as there’s something to stay for, and then continuing on to somewhere new and exciting. I should have a car and the funds by this summer, but it all depends on whether I can get the vacation time at work and if I end up having too many other plans to make it feasible this year.
  • Hopefully this year I’ll also start to figure my shit out, at least somewhat. Lack of direction has always been really hard on me and that, combined with my inability to handle life transitions in a functional manner, was what led to a lot of my Top 10 Worst Moments of 2012. If there’s one single thing I want out of 2013, it’s a path to be traveling down. It doesn’t have to be the right path, necessarily, or even a clear path, but some sort of temporary life purpose would sure be nice to have.

Fears and Worries

  • I worry that my job will make me miserable all year. Coupled with attempting too many side projects, this will lead to me burning out early, hating all people ever, and moving to a cabin in the woods to become a hermit.
  • I’m also afraid that I’m continue to lose touch with my friends. I’ve always been bad at maintaining long-distance relationships, and now that I don’t see my college friends every day, I don’t talk to many of them anymore. I don’t even spend a lot of time with my high school friends these days, even though most of us now live in the same city again.
  • Sometimes I feel like the internet is eating my soul and, especially on days when I already feel exhausted from work (read: most days), it’s so easy to lose myself in the wonderful world of silly fandom GIFs and cat videos. If I don’t figure out how to balance my time better, I’m afraid I’ll never get anything done and I’ll look back at the end of the year to see that my only accomplishment was absorbing a lot of useless trivia facts from my friends’ Facebook posts.

Resolutions and Goals:

  1. Be less of a grumpy bitch. Think before snapping. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. (Maybe. Not sure if that’s actually the best philosophy. It’ll be an experiment.)
  2. Cook dinner on weekends, rather than being lazy and eating frozen Trader Joe’s meals.
  3. Exercise for at least half an hour every weekday.
  4. Consistently brush/floss twice a day. Falling asleep in front of the TV is not an excuse, nor is drunkenly passing out.
  5. Read more, at least two books per month.
  6. Write a blog post, either here or in The Girl Who Waited, at least once a week, even if it’s short or dumb or a stolen quotation.
  7. Publish one piece in a literary magazine or journal.
  8. Finish the first draft of my latest novel, “Next Train to Somewhere.”
  9. Complete NaNoWriMo for the first time in five years.
  10. Suck less at taking a photo every day.
  11. Also suck less at practicing piano once a week. Learning guitar may be an acceptable substitute.
  12. Finish re-editing some of my older videos and submit them to contests and festivals.
  13. Become more proficient with After Effects, particularly in the areas of textual animation and motion graphics.
  14. Start using (or at least figuring out) all the social networks I’m actively avoiding, like Twitter and Tumblr. This may lead to getting sucked deeper into the internet, but it also seems like a necessary career move if I want to self-publish or freelance at anything in this day and age.
  15. Get with the times and pick up a smart phone.

Ambitious, perhaps, but I think that if I accomplish even one or two of these things by the end of this year, my life will be much improved. Shoot for the moon, land among the stars, right?

Happy New Year, and I’ll see you in the morning.

Love,
Me

top 10 less ridiculous holiday albums.

Tags

,

Dear You,

Yeah, so I’m a little late with this post. But some of these albums have songs for the new year and, technically, we’re still within the twelve days of Christmas. So I’m going to take this little bit of leeway while I can still rationalize it, and here I present you with ten of my favorite not-quite-as-ridiculous-as-those-in-the-last-post holiday albums!

Honorable mention: Love Actually Soundtrack - Various Artists

Love Actually is probably my favorite Christmas movie of all time, as well as one of my favorite romantic comedies in general. Who doesn’t enjoy great acting and well-told stories, all intertwined with British humor? I just wish the soundtrack had more actual Christmas songs on it, but “Christmas Is All Around” almost makes up for that all on its own.

 

10) A Very She & Him Christmas – She & Him

She & Him have a pretty sweet Christmas album here, if you’re into the indie acoustic meets oldies pop style. I, for one, am definitely into it, and I love Zooey Deschanel’s voice, how it’s dreamy, meandering and a bit reminiscent of the 1950s all at once. The songs on this album seem to be pretty hit-or-miss, though—some of them are absolutely fantastic, but others, not so much. Here’s a hit:

 

9) A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas – Kristin Chenoweth

I know some people have mixed feelings about Kristin Chenoweth, and I do too, on occasion. But I think her voice works really well in this album, and she has such a dynamic range that she can pull off both the hymnal songs and the more contemporary ones. “Sleigh Ride” is my favorite Christmas song of all time, and her version really encompasses all the fun and excitement of the song.

 

8) Snowed In – Hanson

To be honest, it was a hard choice between this Hanson album and ‘N Sync’s Home for Christmas. (Because what’s one of my music blog posts without at least one reference to a boy band?) But in the end, I went with Hanson because they are, in general, a lot more rock-ish and upbeat, whereas ‘N Sync tends towards croony and poppy, though they do have that lovely harmonizing thing going on in some of the songs. Snowed In is really just a great album to put on and have fun dancing to while decorating the tree.

 

7) Christmas Island – Jimmy Buffett

I love me some Jimmy Buffett, and sometimes I want nothing more than a tropical Christmas album when it’s cold, rainy, and grey outside. (Sadly, we don’t get much snow in Portland, even around the holidays.) This album is great at making me forget I’m not somewhere warm and cheering me up when I start to get gloomy about the state of the weather.

 

6) A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi

Definitely a classic, definitely fantastic. I never really watched any of the Charlie Brown holiday specials as a kid, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the jazzy piano of this soundtrack. I even used “Linus and Lucy” in a stop motion video I made for class a couple years ago!

 

5) Holiday Music: Unplugged – Spirit

This gorgeous album by the vocal nonette Spirit makes me remember the power and diversity of the human voice every time I listen to it. Some of the songs are sung a capella, and some of them have simple accompaniments, but they’re all gorgeous. This has to be one of my favorite renditions of “Mary, Did You Know?”

 

Another a capella album that I really like is An Acapella Christmas by Glad, which features another of my favorite songs, “In the First Light”:

 

4) An Irish Christmas – Moya Brennan

Moya Brennan (Máire Brennan on some of her other albums) is Enya’s sister, and you can definitely hear the family resemblance in their voices. They share a beautiful, haunting, at times almost ethereal vocal style, which lends itself well to the more traditional Christmas carols. If Peter Jackson ever decided to make a Lord of the Rings holiday special (hopefully less cheesy than the Star Wars one), I imagine the soundtrack would sound something like this album.

 

Another Celtic album that’s worth mentioning is Winter Carols by Blackmore’s Night, which has a great folk-rock sound to it:

 

3) The Best of Christmas – Various Artists

There are many, many Christmas compilations out there, but this four-volume set is one of the most comprehensive collections of classic holiday songs that I’ve come across. (It also happens to be the one I grew up with.) Featuring the most famous versions of my favorite songs, like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

 

2) Noël – Josh Groban

It’s no secret that I think Josh Groban has one of the best voices of any man ever. In my opinion, this album is pretty much perfect—the selection of songs complements Josh’s voice and style, he outdoes himself on the vocals, and the accompanying orchestrations and chorus parts are beautiful.

 

1) Joy to the World – Pink Martini

Pink Martini’s album gets the top spot for including various world cultures and their holiday songs, rather than simply focusing on traditional Western celebrations. China Forbes has a fantastic voice that can easily adapt to any song in any language, and I think it really says something that her version of “Santa Baby” is the only I can stand. Here’s one of my favorites off the album, a Chinese New Year song in Mandarin:

 

 

So there you are. If I’m feeling ambitious later, I might do another post recapping my personal 2012 and my goals for 2013, but if not, it’ll come later this week. Hope you’re having a fabulous beginning to the new year, and I’ll see you soon!

Love,
Me

you can’t take the sky from me.

Tags

,

Dear You,

Well, as usual, I’m late to the party.

It’s Hobbit’s Eve and while I’m excited to see my friends, eat a huge hobbitty dinner, and nerd out at the midnight premiere, I’m nowhere near as excited as I feel I should be, especially considering how long Middle-Earth has been a part of my life. The Hobbit was one of the very first chapter books my dad read to me as a kid. My friends and I tried to recreate the Lord of the Rings films when we were in middle school, and we all wrote our fair share of Mary Sue fan fiction set in The Shire. I even have have one of those ridiculously overpriced One Ring replicas, for Christ’s sake.

But am I bouncing off the walls, like I was when the Lord of the Rings films first came out? Have I watched any interviews or production videos? Did I put any effort into constructing something that I could at least pretend was a costume for tonight?

No. And why?

Because I discovered Firefly last weekend, and I haven’t been able to think of anything else since.

‘Discovered’ perhaps isn’t the right word to use here. I’ve known about Firefly since high school, when I first saw the pilot at a birthday party sleepover. And I actually remember when Serenity came out in theaters because I debated going to see it, since several of my friends couldn’t shut up about it, but I eventually decided to wait until I’d seen the show.

And it took me a very, very long time to see the show. In fact, I don’t think there’s a single fandom that I’ve been subconsciously avoiding for as long as I avoided Firefly. (I was embarrassingly late to the Doctor Who party, too, but even that made it into my fangirl repertoire a couple years ago.)

The whole time I was watching Mal and his crew have heartbreaking, heartwarming, hilarious, and terrifying adventures, I was asking myself why it took me so long. Was it because I was afraid that I wouldn’t like the show? I do have a history of mixed feelings towards Joss Whedon’s work. (Never could get into Buffy, and you don’t want to know how many times I had to be forced to watch Dr. Horrible before I actually started enjoying it.)

Maybe I feared disliking a show that all my friends loved—or, more likely, feeling only a half-hearted meh towards it, which, in fandom, is generally just as bad as straight-up hating something. Maybe I was worried that my expectations about the show were so high that I would be disappointed, which has happened on numerous occasions. Or maybe I was just plain skeptical about the whole idea of a Western in space.

And then it was 2 AM on Monday morning and I had just finished Serenity even though I had to work in a few hours, and I finally realized why it had taken me so long:

I wasn’t afraid of hating the show. I was afraid of loving it.

It’s funny how sometimes I feel like my relationships with fictional characters are stronger than my relationships with real people. I’m an introvert; I’m shy and awkward and it’s hard for me to talk to new people. (Sometimes I like to blame this social inability on the two years I was homeschooled, but I doubt that’s the entire cause.)

But from a young age—even during the times when I had no friends, or felt like the few friends I did have were too busy for me, or when I fell in silly unrequited teenage love with boys I never had the balls to talk to, or subsequently had my heart crushed from afar by those same boys—fictional characters were always there for me. They were the one constant that never changed. They were reliable, dependent, steadfast. They were perfect and wonderful, and I could relive them over and over.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had my heart broken by a real person. I don’t even worry about the possibility anymore, to be honest. I throw my heart around like it’s nothing these days, and it hasn’t worked out too badly so far.

But when a cast of fictional characters goes and leave me alone with fourteen episodes and a wealth of intoxicating, cancelled potential? That’s when I wind up crying in the bathroom at work and wishing it hadn’t ended.

Keep flying, and I’ll see you in the morning.

Love,
Me

top 10 ridiculous holiday albums.

Tags

,

Dear You,

It’s December! You know what that means? NaNoWriMo is over! I wasn’t able to hit 50,000 words this year, but I’m very happy with the 20,000 that I did write, and I’m looking forward to finishing the first draft of my novel in the next couple months.

Aside from having my life back, though, do you know what else December means? I get to listen to Christmas music! I absolutely adore Christmas music; I love hearing familiar songs in every different style and genre that exists, and I love the creativity of non-traditional songs that still try to connect listeners to the feelings of the holiday season.

So I’ve decided that every weekend until Christmas, I’ll be doing a post about my favorite holiday songs and albums. (And, yes, my Christmas music collection is large enough that I can write multiple posts about this.)

To start out with something fun, here are my top 10 ridiculous holiday albums! They’re mostly all sorts of terrible, but they’re all worth listening to once, if only for the lolz.

10) All Wrapped Up! – Various Artists

I might be the only one who finds this Disney Channel compilation (featuring Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and Demi Lovato, from back when they were a big deal) totally hilarious. It’s a bit of high school nostalgia for me. It does have this pretty sweet track by the Plain White T’s on it, though:

 

9) Bang Bang Baby Bang Bang Merry Christmas – Angry Johnny and the Killbillies

If you’ve always secretly wanted to hear redneck Christmas music, you should give this album a try. It includes such lovely songs as “Six Bullets for Chrismas,” “Daddy Won’t Be Coming Home for Christmas,” and “Slaughter in a Winter Wonderland.”

 

8) Jingle My Bells – Strip Mind

This EP consists mainly of four different versions of “O Tannenbaum/O Christmas Tree,” which in and of itself makes it a little ridiculous. But if you’ve ever wanted to hear a punk or sludge metal cover of the song, look no further.

 

7) A Rubber Band Christmas – A Rubber Band Christmas

Found this in my campus radio station a few years ago. It’s literally two guys with some rubber bands who got bored and started dicking around in a recording studio one day (according to the liner notes). The rubber bands are all out of tune, and this album is one of the worst things I’ve ever heard, but it’s great just for the WTF factor.

 

6) Christmas Turkey – The Arrogant Worms

For those who are a little cynical about the holiday season, The Arrogant Worms have a pretty great comedy album here, including such lovely songs as “Santa Got Arrested,” “Christmas Sucks,” and “Christmas Hangover.”

 

5) Christmas with the Chipmunks – Alvin & The Chipmunks

While “The Chipmunk Song” is cute and a classic, I’m not sure how I feel about an entire album of songs sung by chipmunks. It’s the kind of thing that’ll give you nightmares if you listen to it too long.

 

4) A Christmas Together – John Denver & The Muppets

I debated for a while whether this album should really go on this list, because it’s actually a pretty legit Chrismas album and everything else here is either silly or terrible (or both). But eventually I decided that, if you really think about it, John Denver and the Muppets together is actually a pretty ridiculous combination (ridiculously awesome, but ridiculous nonetheless). Also, I was running out of spots on the other list and needed to fill some space here.

 

3) Dr. Demento Presents the Greatest Christmas Novelty CD of All Time - Various Artists

True to its name, this is probably the best compilation of silly Christmas songs to ever exist. What collection is complete without The Singing Dogs’ version of “Jingle Bells” or the most annoying song ever, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”?

 

2) Christmas In the Stars: Star Wars Christmas Album - Various Artists

Yes, there is a Star Wars Christmas album. And yes, it is fabulous. I don’t think much more needs to be said here; this song will speak for itself.

 

1) Pokémon Christmas Bash - Various Artists

Apparently the Pokémon universe celebrates Christmas too! Who would’ve thought? And for those who can’t help but sing along to “I’m Giving Santa a Pikachu for Christmas,” the album comes with a couple karaoke tracks, too!

 

Stay tuned for next week’s list of legit Christmas albums, and I’ll see you in the morning!

Love,
Me

when the healing has begun.

Tags

, ,

Dear You,

I am exhausted.

Writing my novel has been taking its toll on me—not so much physically or mentally, as I can pull almost 2,000 words in an hour and I’ve gotten a lot better at spewing words without too much thought or effort on my brain’s part, but emotionally.

This is the first serious novel that I’ve written, and the romance between the two main characters is based heavily on several of my own relationships, both past and present. I find myself struggling to write for long periods of time because, while I can type steadily for half an hour without getting too distracted, I feel an immense sadness every time I stop to take a break. (It probably doesn’t help that I spend my writing sessions listening to both of the Once soundtracks, as well as everything else by Glen Hansard/Markéta Irglová/The Swell Season. It’s fantastic music to cry to.)

I’m pouring so much of myself into this story, my own personal feelings and memories, and it’s difficult. Even though the characters and situations are fictional, the emotions are real, and in many instances, things I haven’t completely dealt with yet. I’m struggling with how to write honestly when I’m at a point where I’m still too close to what’s happening inside my heart, where I can only see one side of the whole, complex story. Writing this novel is a step forward in figuring myself out, but damn, the process is taxing.

So, if you’re wondering how the novel is going, that’s about how. Happy Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you in the morning.

Love,
Me

P.S. Here’s an excerpt:

I don’t remember much about the first night it happened, if only because it has gotten lost in all the other times it happened. They blur together in the fog of memory, becoming a jumble of sad sweat and silence. I remember moments, of course, but not the sequence in which they occurred, not which days contained which moments or which moments were tied to others or which moments were perhaps repeated.

I don’t remember it being awkward and clumsy, though it must have been. It must have been full of half-smile laughs and apologies, bumps and falls, too hard or too fast or too much in the wrong spot, as it always is the first time with someone new. I don’t remember what he was wearing, or what I was wearing, which sheets were on the bed or which positions our bodies ended up in. I don’t remember how long it lasted or how many times we each came before we were too exhausted to continue on beneath the bright moon of the uncurtained window.

What I do remember about that night is lying on the tiny mattress as he snored lightly beside me, tucked up against the wall, and thinking that this didn’t really change anything—though perhaps it should’ve.

why i cut my hair.

Tags

,

Dear You,

I used to love having long hair. When I was a kid, there was nothing I wanted more than to have hair down to my waist, my knees, my feet. Every female character I made up had long hair, usually in a braid, and I spent several Halloweens as Rapunzel, just so I could wear this three-foot long, coarse, ratty hair extension. My hair grew too slowly and I hated getting my split ends trimmed because I felt like those scissors were taking away bits and pieces of my grand dream.

I loved my hair so much that once, in fifth grade, my mother took me into the bathroom and chopped my ponytail off as punishment for lying to her.

I was devastated. I can only remember a few other times when I’ve cried harder than I did that night. I wish I could go back in time and tell myself not to worry about it so much, to stop crying and stop caring, because things would all be different in ten years—that not only would I not mind haircuts, but that I would willingly cut a majority of my own hair off and feel satisfied rather than sad.

Yesterday afternoon, when I announced I was going to cut my hair and got up to find a pair of scissors, my fiancé asked why I couldn’t just wait for an appointment with a hair salon.
“You don’t need your hair cut that badly, do you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Why?”
Because.”

I was frustrated and irritable at the time, and I wish I could’ve explained myself better. Sometimes, usually when I start to feel like my life isn’t really going the way I want it to, I’ll get a relentless urge, an unexplainable absolute driving need to cut my hair. And it can’t wait. It can’t wait a couple hours, or a couple days, and it can’t wait for an appointment, even if I’m planning on cutting my hair shorter than I ever have before. It’s not about beauty, and it certainly isn’t about taking care of my hair or maintaining my style or whatever. It’s about control.

In the past few years, cutting my own hair has become a way of calming restlessness and wanderlust, of proving to myself that there are certain parts of my life I will always have the final say in, even when the rest of my life doesn’t feel that way. It’s about knowing that I have the power to change myself if I get tired of being the person everyone else wants to see, that there are still areas in which I can do whatever the hell I want, no matter what my friends or parents or fiancé say, no matter what’s popular or fashionable or “looks good.” Every hair on my head belongs to me, and whether each one stays or goes is only determined by my hands. And, sometimes, I just need to be able to remember that.

I’ll see you in the morning.

Love,
Me

“Since the disintegration of her parents’ marriage, she’d only loved two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off, and feel nothing.”
- (500) Days of Summer

nanowrimo’s eve.

Tags

,

Dear You,

Well, so much for that “I’m going to write more this month” statement. But I’m on it now!

Most people think of October 31 as Halloween. I, however, think of it as the last day before November, the eve of NaNoWriMo. So in honor of the impending mad dash frenzy towards the starting line, I decided to relive the ghost of novels past and save the talk of my current novel for later, since I’m sure in the coming month you’ll hear more lamenting about my characters and nonexistent plot than you’d ever want.

1) Blue Suede Shoes (2005)

This was my very first NaNo novel, written during my sophomore year of high school. It was about a girl in her mid-twenties—basically, the girl I had imagined myself to be ten years in the future—who finds out one day that someone has published a book under her name and picture. She has to learn to deal with her newfound fame, while also trying to figure out who the mystery author is. It was a fun novel, full of cute romantic fluff, silly grown-up antics like getting drunk that I didn’t entirely understand at the time, and a random appearance by a group of shirtless German athletes in elevator. I also blatantly stole one of my favorite fictional characters, Nick Gautier from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series, and made him my main character’s boss. It was pretty swell.

And now it’s excerpt time!

Jane said goodbye to the Germans as she stepped out of the elevator, and they replied with a trio of auf wiedersehen’s.
She hoped that no one would decide to walk by right as she left, since a single woman leaving an elevator of smiling shirtless men might be the subject of idle gossip about the office.
Luck, however, was not with her, as at that exact moment, Nick happened to walk by, wearing a large cowboy hat. One of his eyebrows arched as he looked at her.
“How long have you had a harem, Jane?” he asked. “And why wasn’t I ever told? I’ve heard that it can be a very interesting experience.”
She laughed. “Like I would ever let you join my harem, if I had one. Those just happened to be a couple of German guys going to some meeting or something upstairs.”
“A couple of shirtless German guys,” he corrected.
She shrugged. “They’re athletes. I’m sure you take off your shirt when you work out.”
“Actually, I wear spandex.”

Ah, Nick. You were my favorite character to write, but alas, you were not mine.

2) Sixteen Going on Seventeen (2006)

My second novel was a tale of high school life for four friends at an all-girl’s high school. (Autobiographical, much?) This was actually the novel I think I enjoyed writing the least—I had too many characters all trying to talk in first-person, I couldn’t give any of them decent plotlines, and I actually spent a good portion of the novel writing another novel that one of the characters was writing (about thieves!). But somehow, for a novel I spent most of the month hating, it’s actually got some pretty hilarious parts, including an entire chapter where someone’s (clearly irresponsible) mother accidentally gives all the girls Ambien because I wanted to write a ridiculous dream sequence.

Dominique’s POV

I turned back to the emo kid, hoping that his match-flicking antics would at least provide a meager form of entertainment until my bus decided to show up, and caught him staring at me again.
“What are you looking at?” I snapped.
“Nothing,” he said. “I was just wondering if maybe you wanted to sit down. Your backpack looks heavy.”
“I’m fine,” I said shortly.
“Okay, just a suggestion,” he said, starting to look slightly irritated himself. A moment later, he pulled another match out of the box, lit it, and flicked it at the phone. It landed in the coin return.
After watching him for a few minutes, I realized he was pretty damn good at hitting the phone every time.
Finally, I asked, “Do you just sit here every day doing that?”
“Yep,” he said. “This is what I spend my entire day doing. I don’t have any hobbies and I don’t go to class. I’m hoping to win a match-flicking scholarship so I can get into Harvard.”

And a later scene…

“You put a what in our locker?!” Wendy practically yelled at Eliza.
“Shh,” Eliza said, looking around furtively, as if hoping no one had noticed them, which of course, was a completely unanswered prayer. Half the hallway had turned to look at our small group clustered in the small alcove the wall at the sound of Wendy’s high-pitched yell. Eliza gave them a quick smile and then glared at her lockermate.
“Keep it down,” she hissed. “I could probably get in a lot of trouble for this.”
“Then why did you do it?” Wendy said back, her voice lower, but not as quiet as Eliza’s.
Scarlett and I watched them, both of us slightly amused on Eliza’s part, but also sharing Wendy’s worry.
“Well, the student handbook doesn’t say anything specifically against keeping a hamster in your locker, so I just figured, you know, why not test the system?”

That hamster later escaped and wreaked havoc in a teacher’s hair. And no, I’m not sure why all my characters had super British names.

3) 8 Semi-Deadly Sins (2007)

This was another attempt at a novel based on my friends from high school. The title came from a discussion we’d had about how procrastination was one of the seven deadly sins of high school, and it was meant to be clever and cute, but as you can see, it mostly just ended up being stupid. By this point, I had actually worked the whole all-girl’s school concept into a series, so this was meant to be one of the sequels to my 2006 novel. It got drastically off-track somewhere in the middle and sort of turned into a self-insertation Jonas Brothers fan fiction (BECAUSE I WAS INTO THAT AT THE TIME OKAY), where we all ran off and had adventures in a tour bus, and, to be completely honest, I think the story actually got a lot better when I started going down that track. One of those examples of how much writing is influenced by the author’s passion for the subject, I guess.

Sadly, this excerpt takes places before the boy band appears.

Several hours later, the three teenagers were sitting around the kitchen table again, joined by Dominique, Aiden, and Eliza. The Life board was set up on the table, though not all the pieces that should have been on it were. Eliza was currently under the table, retrieving the red car that Claire had hurled at her in a fit of outrage over having to pay a speeding fine. Ariel, laughing hysterically, was latched onto Claire in an attempt to keep her in her chair so she couldn’t aim a kick at Eliza’s head.
“I was almost going to be the cop!” Claire complained as she finally stopped struggling and let her body flop in the chair. “This kind of thing always happens to me. I think I’m just cursed.”
“No,” Dominique reminded her, “there was that one time you won three games of Sorry in a row. At Wendy’s Christmas party, remember?”
Claire coughed. “I cheated…”
“How do you cheat at Sorry?!” Dominique asked incredulously.
“Sleight of hand?” Claire said.
“You did not stick cards up your sleeves!” Eliza said, looking appalled. “And while we were all admiring that shirt, too!”

4) Personal Improbability (2008)

The first novel I wrote in college was based off characters from an online role-play forum that I joined my senior year of high school. The group, called Blackstone, was created by several of my friends who I had met in middle school through the Newsies Mailing List (proof that I have always, always been a fangirl), and as much as I loved it, was really not much more than an X-men knockoff. The premise was a high school for kids with special powers, and my novel centered around three of the characters I had created: Gavin, Christian, and James Sway, brothers who could manipulate probability. Once again, my plot was lacking, but I loved writing this novel because I already knew all the characters so well.

Here’s a bit from a back-to-school dance:

“You’re beautiful! You’re beautiful! You’re beautiful, it’s true!”
“Seriously, Gav? Have you ever listened to the rest of the lyrics in this song?” Trace asked in disgust. “They’re so full of sap and shit about being in love with someone you can’t have. It sucks.”
Gavin frowned. “Really?”
“Yeah, it’s the stupidest—” Trace began, but he was cut off by Callie coming up to him with a shy smile on her face.
“Hey, Trace… do you want to dance? I love this song.”
“Oh, um… sure,” Trace said sheepishly, avoiding looking at Gavin and James who were now trying to hold back their own laughter.
Callie smiled happily. “I knew you were going to say that.”
Trace followed Callie to another corner of the room, one that was slightly less crowded, shooting the two Sway brothers an evil look over his shoulder as he left.

5) Nobody Man (2010)

Ah, 2010. The year I thought I was smart enough to write a con novel. (Hint: I wasn’t, and still am not.) After taking a break from NaNo in 2009 because of how stressful it had been trying to balance school and writing the previous year, I missed it too much by 2010 to let November slip by without even trying. And try I did, but this was actually the first year I didn’t win NaNo, petering out by a sad 20,000 words. It was fun anyway, and I ended up with a decent start to a story about a young con man, alias Jesse Ferrari, who’s forced to partner with a college girl who is obsessed with detectives and is studying to be a forensic psychologist. Also involved are her ex-stripper-now-bartender roommate and said roommate’s cougar grandma who had an evil iguana.

Jesse likes to swindle dumb rich kids, but he’s also the master of the small con:

His pancakes arrived, steaming hot and smelling delicious. It would be a shame to waste them, Jesse thought with a mental sigh, but sometimes you had to do what you had to do. He thanked the waitress and allowed himself a single bite of the pancakes to give her enough time to return to the kitchen where she wouldn’t see him.
Once she was gone, he surreptitiously pulled out a small pill bottle from his pocket. Opening it deftly with one hand under the table, he tipped it gently until he felt one of the dead flies fall into his palm, then closed the container and re-pocketed it.
After taking another casual glance around the diner to make sure no one was watching, he dropped the fly onto his plate and then poured some maple syrup over it. Then he sat back and waited.
The waitress reappeared in a few moments with a coffee pot, and he waved her over to the table, putting on a slight grimace and his most sincere tone of voice.
“I don’t want to cause a huge deal or anything, but it looks like there was a fly in the syrup pitcher.”
The waitress looked horrified at his words and even more disgusted when she saw the insect residing in the pool of syrup on his plate. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry about that! I don’t know how that could’ve happened. I’ll get you some more pancakes right away, and I’ll get rid of that syrup.”
“Thank you so much, sweetheart,” Jesse said, handing her the plate. She headed back toward the kitchen quickly, looking like she was about to give someone a very stern talking to, and Jesse sat back in his chair.
If all went as usual, she would return with another plate and offer not to charge him for it, a proposal which he would accept gratefully. A whole meal, all for the price of a small fly he had caught the day before… not bad, by most people’s standards.

This was also the first year I made a cover for my novel!

6) Odd Girl Out (2011)

Last year’s novel followed the trend of writing about my own life in a fictionalized and fantastical way. The story followed a girl in her senior year of college, trying to deal with school, love, her dad’s remarriage, and her freshman brother’s hard-partying tendencies. I basically wanted an excuse to write about the antics of my friends at the radio station before I graduated and slowly started to forget all the crazy shit we got into and what it felt like to be in college. This novel also got pathetically behind, and I finished the month with only 12,000 words, which is a little sad because my main character didn’t even get to meet her love interest. His name was Marius! It was going to be great!

But, unfortunately, Arwen spent most of the novel wrangling drinks from her brother and chasing down lost sandals. (And yes, you read that right. Her dad is a huge Lord of the Rings nerd. Like I said, kind of based in reality. Luckily, my dad backed off on that one.)

“ARWENNNN!” The back door burst open and my brother stumbled through it, laughing—more like cackling—and spilling a large splash of PBR out of his can. He knocked into the trash can as he turned around, almost tipping it over, and slammed the door behind him so hard that the rack of nonperishable foods shook menacingly.
“Dude, slow down,” I said, jumping out of my seat and abandoning my own drink to the table. “How many drinks are you on?”
“Dunno,” he said, his breath hot and smelling like weed and beer on my ear. “A big number.”
Somehow, that didn’t surprise me. I was pretty sure he’d already outnumbered me, party-wise, ten-to-one, and classes hadn’t even started yet. How depressing.

So, tomorrow (well, tonight at midnight—less than an hour!) I begin my seventh year of NaNo and hope that I will be able to break my losing streak and get back into the habit of winning. Maybe this’ll even be the novel that I end up finishing, revising, and publishing! (Optimism, kids. I’m a pro at it.)

Happy November, and I’ll see you in the morning!

Love,
Me

good morning, october!

Tags

,

Dear You,

As I woke up this morning to the warmth of a new comforter and a snuggly cat, I remembered that today was Monday, which meant I had to leave my bed to get dressed and go to work. Then I remembered that today was also the first of October and my morning instantly brightened.

Why? Because October is my favorite month, and I can’t wait to spend it in Portland for the first time in four years. Here are several reasons why I’m looking forward to this month:

5) The weather.
I love the crisp autumn air that only seems to stick around October, when the sun still shines through the changing leaves and the clouds haven’t yet made the sky their permanent home. I love fall fashion—boots, sweaters, scarves, tights and long socks. I love the way the rain smells and how the season brings apples and pumpkins and pears.

4) Wordstock.
I’ve only been to Wordstock once, and not since I was in high school, but ever since then I have longed to return to this magical Portland convention for writers and literature-lovers. Wordstock this year is October 11-14—less than two weeks away, and I’m super psyched. There will be workshops and readings and poetry slams and oh-so-many books. Sounds like heaven to me.

3) Halloween.
Halloween is probably my second favorite holiday, after Christmas. I love dressing up, nerding out, taking pictures with my friends. I love seeing kids trick-or-treating amongst cheesy decorations. Plus, my sweet tooth revels in the candy corn and caramel apples and punch bowls full of alcoholic butterbeer.

2) The anniversary of Crunktoberfest.
On October 24th, during my sophomore year at college, I attended a party called Crunktoberfest at a place called Crunkhouse. Yes, it was as ridiculous as you might imagine. At this party, one of my friends jokingly asked when I would find him a girlfriend. I told him he could go out with me, if he wanted. We kissed, and thus, the anniversary of Crunktoberfest this year also happens to be my three-year anniversary with my fiance. :)

1) NaNoWriMo planning!
For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, when crazy people all around the world attempt to write 50,000 words in 30 days. November itself tends to be stressful, full of agony and self-doubt. But October… October is the month for optimism and excitement. This is the month I re-read Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! as I have done every year before beginning my novel. This is when I cruise the forums, anxiously searching for ideas and a desktop background calendar for my laptop. This is when I start pulling characters out of the people I know and plot out of everyday situations, when I feel like my eyes open up to observe every minuscule detail in the world around me. This when I begin to create my own imaginary paradise, and I can’t wait to start living in it.

I’m also particularly excited for this October because Taylor Swift and William Beckett are both dropping new albums towards the end of the month, but that’s just a bonus on top of all the other reasons.

I’m going to try to write more this month, partially for my own sanity and partially as prep for NaNoWriMo. So, with that goal in mind, I’ll see you in the morning!

Love,
Me

first day.

Tags

Dear You,

TWO DAYS IN A ROW. Look at me not sucking at this!

In an attempt to avoid a very bland summary of my first day at work, and also to avoid excessively thinking about how I might have made the wrong decision, I am only going to list the positive points of my day.

  • The fully-stocked kitchen is, in fact, fully stocked. There is more food there than in my apartment. I could eat every meal at work every day for the rest of my life and not worry about going hungry. Also, the women’s bathroom is stocked with tampons and chocolate, and I really like office supply cabinets.
  • My cubicle has my name on it and I’m going to decorate it with awesome shit. And getting my desk and computer set up was relatively painless, which surprised me after my last summer at IBM, where it took several days to get everything working right.
  • After reading through a bunch of wiki pages, I actually feel like I sort of understand some things about how the automated tests work. Again, surprising after time spent at IBM.
  • I didn’t get to meet a lot of people, but the few I did talk to were helpful and pretty nice. And I met someone who asked if I was related to my dad, which was kind of weird and kind of cool.
  • I made a lot of money for basically being useless all day.

Well, I’m tired, so instead of neurotically cleaning my apartment to prove to myself that I still have control over my life, I am going to snuggle with my boy and my kitty and hope that tomorrow I’ll have more than barely-five positive things to write about.

See you in the morning.

Love,
Me

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.