2012 - further up and further in

Saturday, December 22, 2012

happy birthday, because i’m irish!

Saturday, December 22, 2012 10
happy birthday, because i’m irish!
One year ago as of this month, my friend and I were having a conversation about why a certain Irish boy was so good-looking.

The answer was, of course, "because he's Irish."

And thus, Because I'm Irish was born.

As of December 20th, it is one year old.

I feel incredibly sappy about this. I suppose it's a little weird to be writing a blog post commemorating the birthday of ... my novel. But my dad said, "They all become your children, eventually."

It's so true. This book is my baby. More or less.

Time to celebrate. And just try your best to ignore the sap.

>> facts about the birthday book <<

- I never intended this to be a novel. Seriously. It was an inside joke that I intended to write a mere short story about. And then it turned out that one of the members of the boyband was evil. And involved in illegal activity. And he didn't want anyone to know about it, so he blackmailed people into joining the band...

It all went downhill from there.

- Fiona Bartulli is my main character, and her name happened by complete accident. I was typing, looked over at my dad and said, "I need a last name." He said, without missing a beat, "Bartulli."

It stuck.

- Fiona plays violin.

- The book is set partially in NYC. Other notable locations include Tennessee and Ireland.

- My favorite scene in the book takes place in Ireland, atop some gorgeous cliffs. I read over it a week ago, and I had tears in my eyes.

- On my characters' trip to Ireland, their car runs out of gas and they walk a few miles to a gas station, which caused me to have to ask my international friends about Irish gas stations. Never again, I hope.

- One of my characters surfs.

- I still don't know how it actually ends. I ended it with a devastating cliffhanger, and when I reread it last week, even I agree it's a rubbish ending. So it will be getting a happier one. I just don't know what it is yet.

- This is the second book I've finished and it's the one I'd like to pursue publication with.

- After finishing it in July, I started in on a round of edits, adding and beefing up scenes. Unfortunately, I didn't finish the edits before putting it back in the shadows for a bit. This is due to me not feeling competent at all to edit a first draft, and not wanting to mess anything up.

Because I stopped editing, this means I have tons of half-finished scenes. Such as a scene where my main guy character takes Fiona to meet his family, and his mom opens the door and says hello. End scene. I'm serious. I really need to fix that, which is my first step before sending it out to be beta-read, I suppose.

- This book is entirely filled up with guys. It's about a boyband, what do you expect? Aside from Fiona and the band's tour manager, there are no girls in the story. I had one character, Lark, who was a cellist in the band and sister to one of the members. She lasted about 500 words before being thrust into oblivion since I forgot all about her (and she was starting to annoy me... and Fiona). Oops.

- My friends and I are currently writing an alternate universe where our characters meet each other. Fiona's best friends with my friend Caroline's character, Beck. Their relationship is pure sass and she's nicknamed him Agent 007.

- Because I'm Irish fulfills my long time fascination for adventure and suspense.

- The reason I think I finished this book so quickly and with minimal effort was because of two reasons. 1, I really did not research before starting. Instead of getting hung up on what kind of guns my villains should use and what Ireland looks like in the summer, I just dove headfirst in. This is one of the most beneficial things in writing I have ever done. Now that the first draft is finished, I can spend time researching. In fact, I visited Ireland on Google Maps last night. It was lovely.

The second reason is that I took the advice of a famous writer: When in doubt, kill someone. Unfortunately, I can't remember who that famous writer is, or what the exact quote was. All I know is, it stuck with me.

Now, I didn't kill a character every time I got stuck, but what I did do was up the stakes. I'd do something drastic. Like introduce the possibility of death. Have my villain whip out a gun. That kept the pace moving so dang fast. I remember being bored only a few times while writing this book. And that was so wonderful. I wish all my novels could be like that.

>> meet fiona <<

“Irish accents apparently impair my thinking abilities. Who knew?”

“My eyes slowly slid open, even though they still felt like anvils were dragging them down. I wanted to sleep for a week. Or a month. Or maybe even a year. Yeah, a year sounded good.”

her favorite movie is The Princess Bride
she quotes it all the time.

she's sassy. very sassy.

she got kidnapped by the boyband while checking out at Wal-Mart.

during the writing of this book, she fell due to the fact that she was wearing ballet flats.
she nearly broke her nose.
at least, that's what she thinks.

oh, yes. and she's one of my favorite characters of all time.

Because I'm Irish, thank you for coming into my life when I needed you most. Thank you, God, for giving me a novel that would bring me through many rough times. Thank you for the smiles. Thank you for the laughs.

Thank you for the memories.

Now, let's go change the world.

hold on, we're gonna make it if it takes all night
hearts racing like a rocket at the speed of light
don't fight it, we've been running for far too long
we're going back where we belong
so hold on we got our wings and we're chasing the wind
farewell to all the places that we have been
and if it takes us all night long
we're going back where we belong 

- thriving ivory

(check out Because I'm Irish's Pinterest board for even more awesomeness.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

rose petals: nanowrimo 2012

Saturday, December 08, 2012 9
rose petals: nanowrimo 2012
So, NaNoWriMo has been over for a week now. I kind of left you all in the dust.

Oops. Hehe, sorry about that.

So basically, I meant to do a final vlog but everything has gotten away from me, especially when it comes to my health. When I'm not feeling well all the time, it was really hard to find some time to sit down and talk to a camera. Also, I was lacking confidence in my abilities as a video blogger, judging by how rambly and awful one of my vlogs turned out.

Anyway, yes. NaNo's over. Speaking of which, another reason I dropped off the face of the planet was because I was doing a lot of this:

That's right. Catchup.

Somewhere around Day 18, I stopped writing because my health flared so bad. I didn't write anything substantial for about a week. And then, on day 25, I decided I wanted to try to win this thing.

(a screencap from day 27. the way my stats spiked cracks me up.)

So I did. I had about 19,000 words to catch up on. And somehow, by writing exorbitant amounts, I caught up.

And I made it.

I won NaNoWriMo.

This makes my fourth year participating and my third year winning. And it just feels good, you know? To accomplish something. 

This novel saved my sanity this month. It gave me something to focus on when a lot of areas of my life were falling apart, physically and emotionally. It reminded me to write for myself, to just write for the sake of my own sanity. It made me remember how much writing has helped me emotionally in the pastIt became my escape again, and for that I am truly grateful.

Rane and Lynx are one of the most adorable couples I've ever written, just fyi. I find that I learn things with each NaNo that I do, and this year one thing that stands out to me is that I learned that I can write romance. This is kind of something weird to admit, but I never thought I could before. I was worried I'd write something too sappy, so all my romances were like very deep friendships. I love these kinds of relationships, but for this year's NaNo, I accidentally ended up writing something different. Last month, without me forcing it, Rane and Lynx's relationship became extremely deep, beyond any other couple I've written. They had extreme amounts of emotions and sadness and hope and they're so bittersweet. It was so lovely, actually. I wrote about rose petals and burn medicines and war wolves and all of these things will always be what defines Rane and Lynx. ♥

(Rane also has more fangirls than he did at the beginning of the month, which is something I didn't think was possible, but his fanbase has definitely grown. Good on ya, mate. You deserve it.)

I love my other characters too, like Charlie, Enda, Clay, Anchor, Fritz, and Spice. Two of them, Charlie and Anchor, were actually in Silver Tears, but their characters deepened so much in this novel, as did Lynx's. I really feel like exploring the storyline of the outcasts was a good choice, because now I can revise it and make its cameo in Silver Tears even better. I have building blocks to work from now, and that makes me so happy.

Overall, I'm happy with the way my novel turned out, especially because I didn't have anything planned at the beginning of this year. I thought this novel would be an absolute disaster. I'm thrilled that Broken Wings proved me wrong.

On the writing front, I haven't written much at all since the clock stroke twelve on November 31st. Once I hit 50k, my motivation to write significantly dropped. I do want to finish this novel, and I promised myself I'd push myself to do so once November ended, but so far that hasn't happening. I actually think though that I need to take some time to recover. Writing the insane amount of words that I did really pushed me, especially because my body is in such a frail state already. So with that in mind, I don't feel so bad about taking a break.

I want to give some credit my NaNoWriMo support group for keeping me afloat this month. There have been several times where I'd wanted to give up, but these girls kept me going. We call ourselves the Tea-Spitters, and we've become a very close-knit group. I feel like I've found a cozy writing place to call my own. And it's truly lovely. Shout out to you, my fellow Tea-Spitters. Stay brave, stay strong, stay true. And remember: your choices will change the world.

That's a good note to close on, actually, as we end this chapter and transition into the next. Remember this, my world-changers, my friends with passion planted deep in their hearts. Remember this, fellow writers. Remember this, my starry-eyed dreamers.

Your choices will change the world.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

my paper heart

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8
my paper heart

So here's what's going on with me.

I've hit my very rock bottom. And it's kind of a good place to be.

Because sometimes, when you hit rock bottom, that's when you can come back up again. That's when you can heal.

I've sustained a lot of grief, wounds, and trauma in my lifetime. I've lost a lot of friends. I've felt abandoned and rejected more than once. When I was nine, two family friends lost their children in the same year. I also lost a friend in a very sudden and traumatic way this year, and it's all come to a breaking point.

And I'm realizing that I never fully dealt with that. All of it.

So here I am, at the age of sixteen, having all this pain and grief resurface. It's a pretty horrible place to be. I'm glad that I can start to heal now, but that doesn't mean it isn't pretty hellish in the meantime.

See, the way I am is that I don't want to hurt people. Trust me, that's the last thing I want. So somewhere along the line I decided that it would be better to hurt myself by keeping everything inside of me than by hurting other people by letting it out.

My heart is a house that's full of a bunch of trash.

And it's time to clean it out.

So this is my journey of hope, of life, of love. Of pain and tears and suffering.

And hopefully, of healing.

This is me. Broken paper heart and all.

I hope you can be gentle with me during this time. Treat me gently. Trust me, it will mean the world.

Because after all, dreams and people break so easily. So do hearts.

Please be careful with mine.

I wish I could cross my arms, and cross your mind
Cause I believe you'd unfold your paper heart and wear it on your sleeve
I wish I had covered all my tracks completely cause I'm so afraid
Is that the light at the far end of the tunnel or just the train?
Lift your arms only heaven knows, where the danger grows
And it's safe to say there's a bright light up ahead and help is on the way
I forget the last time I felt brave, I just recall insecurity
Cause it came down like a tidal wave, and sorrow swept over me
Then I was given grace and love, I was blind but now I can see
Cause I found a new hope from above, and courage swept over me
It hurts just to wake up, whenever you're wearing thin
Alone on the outside, so tired of looking in
The end is uncertain and I've never been so afraid
But I don't need a telescope to see that there's hope
And that makes me feel brave.

adventures in dictating

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9
adventures in dictating
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present--adventures in dictating.

(click to view larger.)

:: a few notes ::

1. The random NAZI is because I was trying to tell my cat to get off the table. True story.

2. This was when NaNoWriMo was still happening 
so that's why I wrote that I wasn't sure what was happening with it.
Trust me, I know what's happening with NaNo now. More on that later.

3. New blog design. Check it out.

4. I hope you're all doing well. 
Hopefully I'll feel up to posting on this dear old blog soon. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

the NaNo diaries: week two

Friday, November 16, 2012 1
the NaNo diaries: week two
a little motivation.
i have no idea who made this. if you did, let me know and i'll credit you!

I was going to do a vlog like last week but the past few days have been extraordinarily bad for me physically (more info on that here). I did end up recording a vlog but I haven’t decided whether I’ll post it or not considering I sound completely brain fried and ramble… a lot. So in lieu of a vlog, here’s my update for week two before time passes us by.

The main points:

I introduced Charlie Baldwin and his bald eagle, Pixie. I also realized some weird parallels—Charlie is a cross between Robin Hood and Peter Pan, and Ryll (the place for all the outcasts) completely fulfills my childhood dreams of living in the forest. Ironically enough, I named his eagle Pixie before I even realized the Peter Pan connection.

I also introduced Ryll and its inhabitants, including but not limited to Enda, Clay, Fritz, Spice, and Anchor. The first four all came to me at once one day, introducing themselves, showing me their appearances and personality almost instantly. (I’ve had to dig harder to discover more about some of them, but they’ve been very cooperative thus far. I haven’t been sorry. Oh, except for the fact that Clay hates Lynx and radiates hatred off of himself like an oven. What a jerk. Don’t worry, he’ll reform.)

Enda is birdlike, and she and Charlie are totally shippable. (Speaking of shipping, I’ll cover that later.) Fritz and Spice are the cutest kids in the world and completely inseparable. I love them already. And Anchor is a late arrival, even though he’s been around since last year’s NaNo. I came up with the idea for he and Lynx last year and they made a brief appearance in Silver Tears, but in that book Anchor just wasn’t gelling so he’s gotten a major age, appearance, and personality overhaul, and several secrets about him have come out that I didn’t expect. It’s kind of amazing.

One thing that’s been a subject of discussion amongst my NaNo support group is shipping. We all ship each others’ characters (canon or not canon…) and it’s overall been a lovely experience. After all, it’s not every day that someone ships your unpublished characters. Oh, and several keysmashes have been received. That was doubly lovely.

And now for the more somber edge of things: I’ve discovered that Rane and Lynx’s story is going to be a lot more heartbreaking than expected. Earlier this week I was writing an extremely emotional scene and my heart literally ached along with theirs. That’s one of the first times that’s happened to me. It was wonderful and awful and beautiful and horrible and one of the worst parts of writing and one of the best parts of writing all at the same time.

My plot is going interestingly. It’s been coming to me in chunks—I got the beginning chunk a bit before NaNo and then I got the middle chunk early in week two. And let me just say wow. Like I said—it’s going to be heartbreaking. I really don’t know how I’m going to write it, and that’s been part of the problem. I don’t know if I should write it, if this is the direction I should take my novel, or if I should try a different angle. This direction, should I choose to accept it, would be pretty devastating to Lynx and the people around her. Really devastating. But as long as there was some redemption in the end, I might be able to handle it. I’ve been kind of undecided about it all which is affecting the writing process. I’m lagging behind and really lacking inspiration. I have to wonder if this is because I’m not looking forward to what I have ahead of me to write. Any ideas on how to balance that out a bit? I have a feeling that I need to add things to my plot that I can look forward to, even amidst the bad.

Writing itself has been hard and laggy. Earlier in the week it was okay but in the past few days it’s been a little harder. Like molasses. I’m thinking this is probably because this week has been insanely hard for me physically. I did have a good writing day today, though—and I hit 30,000 words! WOOT.

But in the midst of all this sluggish molasses and plot uncertainties and physical pain, it’s been good. Really good. This NaNo has helped me remember once again how much I love writing.

Guys, I really love writing.

I want to do it for the rest of my life.

As a random side note, earlier this week I got inspired for Souvenirs. Yeah, guys, my two-year-trouble-child. I figured out a majorly troublesome character and everything just finally clicked.

The only problem? This inspiration decided to hit right in the middle of NaNo.

So it's faded a bit since then. I'm hoping the inspiration sticks around until after NaNo, until I can actually start the blasted thing.

Until then, I’ll be procrastinating, hanging out on Tumblr, and reblogging lovely photos on Pinterest. See y’all over there.

:: little snippets::

I'm keeping a snail's pace for NaNo this year. BUT AT LEAST I'M KEEPING A PACE.

I've had so much inspiration flowing out of me for my NaNo novel... and other novels that I want to write when I'm done pouring out my heart this November. I love being a writer; best thing there is.

i feel like i should take the day off of using capital letters just because
it feels like too much energy to hit the shift key.

- from my facebook

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

the NaNo diaries: week one

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 7
the NaNo diaries: week one

So I took some time to put together a "little" vlog for you guys and myself, as a recap of week one of NaNo. Here it is, in all its thirteen-minute glory.

And for those who have asked--YES. Absolutely add me on the NaNo site. My username is ScarlettGamgee. Though if you do add me I may have to ask you who you are if it isn't fairly obvious. :P


:: favorite NaNo memories ::

being nicknamed Gomer Pyle

going crazy in all caps

creating John, a secondary character for a friend. I wish he was real, guys. he's pretty much perfect.

having someone fangirl over Rane. that was pretty dang awesome.

having a good friend tell me she'll send me a box every time I finish a novel. 
whoa, really? that's pretty cool.

writing about rose petals today in one of the most heartbreaking scenes, ever. period. ♥

trying to brush my teeth while writing my novel. true story.

writing. writing. writing.

thinking of my novel. breathing my novel. living my novel. 
living in my own little world when the rest of my world can seem so dark.
using my writing to make sense of the world I live in.
remembering how much writing captures my soul.

it's pretty beautiful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

winner of The New Recruit giveaway

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 2
winner of The New Recruit giveaway
Thanks to everyone who entered The New Recruit giveaway on my blog! I’m here to announce who won. I tallied up all the entries and then, using random.org, discovered the winner…

*drumroll please*
Comment #22:
Ashley @ Cheery-O!

Congratulations, Ashley! Please email me at mountainfireflower [at] gmail [dot] com to claim your prize.

If you’d still like to obtain a copy of The New Recruit, check it out on Amazon! And don’t forget to thank the lovely Jill Williamson for offering to do this giveaway.

Thanks to all who entered! I enjoyed reading all your answers—and Jill Williamson did, too!

One last thing: If you’d like another chance to win, head on over to Go Teen Writers, where another copy is being given away.

{And may the odds be ever in your favor.}

Monday, November 5, 2012

brave down the open road

Monday, November 05, 2012 5
brave down the open road

“You never know what's around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you've climbed a mountain.” 
― Tom Hiddleston

It’s the first of November. I stand at the edge of an ink-stained road, right about to take my first step into something unimaginable. The toes of my black Converse are halfway-dipped into the pool of ink in front of me, and halfway firmly anchored on the ground. I’m pretty sure my head is in the clouds, though that’s a subject for another time. As for the rest of me, I’m hanging back with butterflies in my stomach. It’s November, and the month ahead of me promises late nights, laughter, an abundance of typos, and inspiration flowing through my veins.

But I hang back, because I am scared. Scared to write. Scared to fail. Scared to write something that’s less than perfect.

The clouds above me are dark shades of gray, and suddenly they open—dumping black ink onto my head, on my face, my clothes, my Converse. It has begun—the deluge, the storm. November has come. People around me are writing, accepting the ink, letting it come, but I’m scared to begin. The ink road ahead of me has turned into a blank white page, and I stare at it. I hesitate for hours before I write one word.

And that one word turns into many. A sentence.

That sentence plunges me into a novel.

The greatest adventure of all time.


So. NaNo. Up until recently I had no plot, as you learned in this vlog. In the five days before NaNo, I manage to come up with something. But it wasn’t much of something.

The day I took Georgie back to the airport, a novel idea occurred to me. No, literally. A novel idea. In Silver Tears, there was a place I invented that was a slight detour on my characters’ journey. It was Ryll, the place of outcasts, the place where people go when they are rejected by normal society. The place itself and its inhabitants were intriguing. But I didn’t think I could explore it fully in Silver Tears, and in actuality, I thought it needed its own novel.

So, this year’s novel is a prequel to Silver Tears. Its working title is Broken Wings. I had some thoughts on where I wanted to go with it. It’s Lynx’s story, the story of how she was pushed to the ground, rejected because she wasn’t normal. It’s also the story of how she finds a home: Ryll. It’s the story of how she rises again.

The only problem was, I didn’t know how to accomplish that. I still don’t. Not only that, but I kept comparing this year to the last. Last year’s NaNo was positively amazing, in contrast to the two years I’d done before that. Silver Tears is one of my favorite books. It needs work, yes, but it wasn’t an absolute mess like the other novels I’d written were. I wanted this NaNo experience to be the same, but it wasn’t turning out that way! I had no outline and this year’s plot seemed doomed to failure.

And so it was that I woke up on November 1st, absolutely terrified.

What on earth was I thinking?

Once I’d gotten up, instead of starting my novel immediately like I did last year, I logged onto Facebook. Chatted with some friends. Perused my list of writing buddies on the NaNo site and saw all the grand word counts people had acquired.

And I felt absolutely daunted.

I had to finish a writing assignment before I could begin NaNo. The whole time, I was getting more and more stressed. Finally, I just sent the writing assignment off and decided it was time to start Broken Wings.

I put the first words onto the page that came into my head and then I just kept going. I wrote some parts that gave me chills, and I introduced Rane and his pet wolf, whom I absolutely loved. By the end of the day I had a pretty good start to the month.

Even so, the first day was like pulling teeth. It felt like I was slogging through miles and miles of acorn butter. And I didn’t like that feeling. At all.

I woke up on the second day, absolutely discouraged. I didn’t feel like I could or even should go on with this. Why was it so hard? Maybe I wasn’t meant to do this. I was wondering if I should give up, if this year just wasn’t my year. But then something happened that was amazing. As I wrote to a handful of friends,

Oh my gosh, guys.


I'm writing. It's clicking. I think I know where I'm going with this, I think I understand my MC Lynx. I think I get her now. To some degree, anyway.

See, normally I need to have a period of time to get into my character's head and figure out what they feel and think. But because of all the learning I've been doing on the craft of writing, I figured you should show your character's life externally rather than have long monologues about how they're feeling. So the way I was writing was really impersonal, barely taking the time to delve into my character's thoughts. I was merely guessing at what she was feeling. Shooting in the dark.

I actually took some time just now to write a scene exploring how she feels. Once this novel is finished, I can go through and figure out how to show her emotions externally, without having to have an internal monologue. But unless I have the internal monologue exploring how she feels, I won't even know how to show how she feels because I'm just guessing. I'm realizing, this first draft is for ME. It's for me to figure out how to write this story. Then, when I'm done, I can focus on making it better. You can't edit unless you have something written, something to go on.

Yeah, I know this is the basic focus of NaNo, and it's really not all that brilliant and you may already know all this. But it was kind of a light bulb moment for me just now. I think maybe this NaNo could get a lot easier if I remember that this first draft is for me to explore the story and it doesn't have to be perfect yet.

After that, the words came much more easily. Surprise, surprise.

On the third day, I had barely slept the night before and was feeling awful physically, so I didn’t get a lot done. I’m learning that even though I have a chronic illness, that doesn’t mean doing things like NaNo are impossible. However, they can be really hard. I just have to learn how to make it manageable for me.

Day four, I generally wasn’t feeling well either, even though I’d slept. I ended up writing 2k, though. Slowly. Steadily. (Even if half the words were written when I was supposed to be off the computer. :P) And like the first day, I wrote parts that took my breath away and shocked even me. I still wonder, Did I even write this?

It’s day five now, and I have a headache, so I haven’t written much. I absolutely love my characters (especially Rane! ♥) and I’m a little more willing to let them take the reins now. Their stories are becoming apparent, layer by layer. The absolutely terrified feeling has dissipated a little, but it’s still there, lurking beneath the surface. I’m a bit more confident in myself, but not much, and I’m still afraid that what I write will be total junk. I’m just a little bit more willing to let the junk come out than I was at the start.

And so here I am, relearning many lessons. I can’t believe that I’m still here, still completely unsure of myself, after three years of NaNoWriMo under my belt. And if I’m completely honest, it baffles me that I nearly always stress out with every novel I begin. It makes me wonder if I will ever truly feel like a real writer. This morning, though, I read this post by Dandi Daley Mackall which was greatly encouraging to me. She has written over 450 books and yet she still doesn’t feel like a real writer. And that makes me wonder, will we ever?

I don't think we will, sadly. I think it’s funny (and slightly ridiculous) how we never really arrive in our writing. Unfortunately, even when we are published, we will always have doubts. We will always be scared to death to tell the stories trapped in our bones. Each time I finish a novel I think, maybe this is it. Maybe I'll feel like a real writer now. And then I start the next story, and I’m quaking in my leather boots, feeling my inner editor screaming at me every step of the way. I wonder, is this the story that will make me famous? Or will it ruin me?

But we keep trudging on through the acorn butter anyway, because our stories matter to us, and they need to be told. And we keep relearning lessons, even the ones we thought we understood.

And this lesson is one I just have to keep learning over and over and over…

Just write.

The rest will come.

And one day you’ll look back… and you’ll have a novel.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

one thing you’ve learned about writing

Saturday, October 27, 2012 4
one thing you’ve learned about writing

I got some lovely comments on my vlog from yesterday (thank you!) so I decided to do another—a shorter one this time, heh.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I still don't have a NaNo plot. It's coming together though. Verrry slowly.

In case you didn't watch the vlog, the question for this entry is: what's one thing you've learned about writing that has been the most valuable to you? (Or two things, or three. Whatevs.)

It's very hard to see the bracelet. Sorry. I forgot to mention what it actually is. I'm that tired, people.  One amazing week with a friend can do that to you. 

It's a feather bracelet though. It's got a silver feather on it and a leather cord, and it's awesome. I love it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

oh look, a vlog!

Friday, October 26, 2012 4
oh look, a vlog!
So, as some of you know, Georgie Penn came to visit me for a week. She leaves tomorrow, but we've had a great time and today we decided to record a vlog for you guys. We took some time to talk about NaNoWriMo--mostly about how we don't have a plot, but also about our NaNo experiences in previous years. It's 12 minutes long, just fyi. But it's 12 minutes of awesomeness, people.

Aaaand here is the update about Beautiful People you've all been waiting for...

One final announcement: I forgot to specify how long The New Recruit giveaway lasts. It'll end on November 1st, the same day NaNo starts, so if you haven't entered yet, go and do so now.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The New Recruit + Giveaway

Saturday, October 20, 2012 14
The New Recruit + Giveaway

God has called. You have answered.
Welcome to the Mission League.

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.

Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

» my thoughts «

I could talk about this book all day.

It was that good.

When I first heard about the premise—a sarcastic jock being recruited into a Christian spy organization—I fell in love immediately. I knew this was a character and book I’d most likely adore, and I hoped I wasn’t disappointed.

I wasn’t.

The New Recruit exceeded my expectations and more. When I first picked it up, I was thrown into the action from the very first page. It took me a little while to get my bearings, and I was a bit confused, but it wasn’t in a bad way. I figured it out and within no time I adored this story about a kid named Spencer.

From the very first page, Spencer’s voice drew me in. He is one of the best-written male characters I’ve ever read, if not the best. I connected with him in a very deep way, and I loved his sarcastic, straightforward viewpoint. What amazed me was Jill Williamson’s ability to write a male character with such accuracy. It was so cool for me to be inside the head of a fifteen-year-old boy, and it opened my mind in many ways to what a teenage boy might be thinking and feeling.

Another thing I very much appreciated about Spencer’s perspective was his outsider’s view of the Christian world. This is always something I’ve always wished was explored more, since Christians look pretty weird to those who aren’t in the “secret club.” I even feel out of place a lot of the time, and I’ve been raised knowing Jesus my whole life. I connected to Spencer so much on that level, and I appreciate the way Jill Williamson handled that issue.

And now the part you’re probably most curious about: the Christian spy organization. This was seriously right up my alley. I absolutely love writing weird things like that—being kidnapped by a boyband, anyone? The only thing I’m surprised about was that I didn’t come up with this idea. I loved the concept, the members of the spy organization, and Spencer’s skepticism to the whole deal. As Rachelle Rea said in her review, when Spencer started to believe, so did I. I felt like I was in Spencer’s shoes, actually living out the book. It was amazing.

The only con I can think to mention is that there were a few grammatical errors—which were fine, but jarred me out of the story just a bit. Other than that, there wasn’t much else that I found to complain about, which is pretty impressive.

The book kept me hooked all the way through, which isn’t accomplished very often as I have a short reader’s attention span. I’d been pretty disenchanted with reading at that time, since all the books I’d been trying to read didn’t hold my attention, so The New Recruit was extremely refreshing. I will admit that during the middle of the book I set it down for a few days. The action had lulled a bit, yes, but even then was still exciting and the reason I put it down had to do with life circumstances more than anything else. I kept thinking about it during my break, and when I picked it up again I blew through the last chunk of pages.

When I was in the last quarter of the book, I stayed up till one o’clock reading it. Then I woke up at eleven the next morning and stayed in bed for two hours reading it. I would have stayed longer, but I was pulled out of bed for my orthodontist appointment. (Because I was so caught up in the book, we were running a bit late. I don't think I’ve ever eaten lunch so fast before.) I got my braces on that day, and thinking about The New Recruit helped keep me distracted from the discomfort. I literally feel like these book’s characters were my friends, and it was a very bittersweet feeling when I finished. The story came alive in my mind.

Good books are the ones that stick in your head long after, and The New Recruit is one such book. This book has quickly rocketed to my favorites list. It has a place of honor on my bookshelf’s first shelf (which is reserved for only very special books, so you know it’s gotta be amazing). I loved everything about it, and it won’t be long until I go back and read it a second time. Thank you so much, Jill Williamson, for writing a book that made me fall in love with reading all over again.

As part of my review, I had the chance to sit down with Spencer Garmond, the star of The New Recruit, and ask him a few questions. Hopefully you enjoy meeting him as much as I did.

» interview «

Hey Spencer! Thanks for being with us today.
Hey. Sure, whatever.

What’s up?
Nothing. Waiting for Kip to get online to play some PoP. Don't know what's taking him so long. Probably texting Megan.

What’s your favorite color?
Lakers purple, baby. Pantone 526.

Uh... Because it's awesome.

If there’s one thing you want everyone to know about you, what would it be?
Yeah... I don't know. That I clean up at basketball.

You play basketball? When did you start? 
Sheesh. I don't even remember. My dad used to play, Grandma said, and she has a picture of me in my crib with a ball that my dad put in there, so... yeah. Some kids had a stuffed animal. I had a basketball.

Why do you enjoy it so much?
Yeah, I don't know. 'Cause I'm good at it, I guess. And it's fun.

Tell me about this… Christian spy organization… thing.
Oh, it's a... wait. Uh... What? I mean... Uh... Do you like red? 'Cause if you know the right answer, you know I can't answer that for the Internet. Come on.

Okay, last question, and it’s a big one: You have two options. You can live in a cave and never have contact with any human ever again. Or you have to live in a crowded neighborhood in New York City and never be alone for any second of any day, ever. What’s your choice?
That's easy. Party in the city. It would suck to live in a cave, man.

Thanks for your time, Spencer! 
Yeah, sure thing.

As you probably already know, you’re awesome.
*laughs* Awesome is my middle name. Jason Bourne learned his awesomeness from me, you know.

» giveaway «

And perhaps the best part of all is that Jill Williamson has offered to give away a copy of The New Recruit to one lucky winner of a giveaway on my blog. You can enter to win by commenting below and answering these two questions (which will earn you two entries).

What would be awesome about being a secret agent? 
What would be the drawbacks?

For more info, visit Jill Williamson's website & Facebook page
or find out more about the book by clicking here.

I was given this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

spill the beans :: new blog launch

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 2
spill the beans :: new blog launch

Last night, I spilled the beans.

No, literally. I had a plate of beans in my hand. And then, suddenly, I didn’t. It flipped off my hand and faceplanted onto the counter. The plate shattered. Beans died. It was a mournful, mournful day.

All kidding aside, I’ve finally done something that’s been two years in the making. Ever since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I’ve been searching for a site for teens with chronic pain.

There aren’t many.

I’ve wanted to start one for years. I’ve even started one which swiftly died. I’ve been waiting for inspiration, for an idea. And finally, last night, I got it.

Spill the Beans. It’s a blog for any teen with any chronic illness. Because I have fibromyalgia and chronic pain, it’s going to focus on that specifically. But really? It’s for anyone young with an illness that’s a challenge. Anyone fighting a battle that they can’t face alone. Anyone with pain, anyone with a condition that makes them feel older than they really are.

This is for you.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the the blog and the Facebook page.

And don't worry! I'll still be keeping this blog for personal posts 
about writing and life and everything in between!
 I love this dear old space too much to leave. :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

author, in search of plot

Friday, October 12, 2012 1
author, in search of plot

Starry-eyed writer who loves to write things a little offbeat searching for a novel to write this November. Any kind, but preferably one chock-full of adventure and sarcasm. Must have a good balance of seriousness and quirkiness. 

Also searching for a cast of characters to fill this novel. Must be okay with rambles and longwinded passages, also must have a good sense of humor and be good at witty comebacks. Must be willing to cooperate with any and all farfetched schemes I come up with. Subject to awkward moments, random cliches, and copious amounts of sarcasm.

 Auditions will be held all throughout the entirety of October. If interested, drop a note in my mental mailbox and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Also, feel free to bring a few canisters of Inspiration, as I am running low. Thanks!

From the NaNo Facebook page: Friday's writing challenge: write a personal ad to catch your novel's eye. Describe yourself and the kind of novel or characters you're hoping to fall in love with! "Melodramatic fantasy writer seeks plucky heroine to star in a soon-to-be-best-selling novel. Must love overly long descriptions, excessive use of adverbs, and plot holes. No dragons."

Maybe you'd like to try your hand at it, in the comments?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

dreams don’t turn to dust

Sunday, October 07, 2012 18
dreams don’t turn to dust
Splash down in the silver screen 
Into a deep dramatic scene 
I swim through the theater 
Or maybe I'm just a dreamer 
Like a kite in the bright midday 
Wonder stole my breath away 
Shy sonata for Mercury 
The stars always sing so pretty

One day early in March I added an item to my bucket list.

Go to an Owl City concert.

Later that day I found an email in my inbox that was truly full of magic. This missive in my inbox told me that Owl City would be coming to Denver on July 15th, 2012.

I was able to go. I went with my friend Tess, and most of my family. My dad was there (who is also an Owl City fan) and my sister and mom were too (who were reluctant attendees but became Owl City fans by the end of the show).

It's still so surreal. I saw Owl City live. I came, I saw, I conquered.

It moved me, Bob.

My dear friend Tess | The illustrious Bluebird theater | Owl City's luggage! *squee*

It took us so much effort to get there. Between car mishaps, the long, hot, sticky, harried trip to Denver, and the long walk to Bluebird theater, I was exhausted. On top of that, they nearly confiscated my water bottle at the front door (not good when it's over 90 degrees and you have some health issues). By the time I got inside, I collapsed into a folding chair as the opening act was in progress. The music was so loud. The lights were so bright. Tears welled up in my eyes. I was so tired. I didn't think it would be worth it.

But then the opening chords began. And the lights came up. And Adam came onto the stage. I forgot my pain, I forgot my tears. It was beautiful.

I didn't think dreams could come true until that night. Everything about it defies description. I don't even know what to say.

He sang The Real World, Deer in the Headlights, Plant Life. He sang Cave In and Tip of the Iceberg, which I was not expecting, but loved. He sang Gold—and let me tell you, he sang the "go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ld" part amazingly in person. He also sang Meteor Shower which was incredibly beautiful to hear sung live. I teared up. You could really feel the beauty of the moment, and feel the honor and worship Adam was giving to Jesus. There are few times that I have felt as close to God as I did then.

And then he sang Angels. Oh my gosh. There is absolutely nothing like screaming WAKE ME IF YOU'RE OUT THERE at the top of your lungs. That was quite possibly my favorite part. It was amazing and... breathtaking. Literally.

I'd rather waltz than just walk through the forest...

Adam himself was... amazing. I had worried beforehand that he wouldn't be as good live. Boy, was I blown away. He's just as good in person, and even better. I literally could not believe that he was in the flesh. I couldn't believe I was there. At some parts of the concert I just closed my eyes and listened, pretending that I was listening to the CD at home. It sounded just like it. It was that good.

About halfway through the concert, he sat down at the piano and sang Plant Life. I loved seeing him play the piano, and Tess really loves Plant Life, so that was definitely a highlight. It's also the only song in which I took a lot of pictures, since I had a moment to breathe. The rest of the time? I was screaming my head off and dancing and drinking in the wonder.

The lights were truly stunning, and definitely made the concert a beautiful experience. I will never forget it.

I'm wonderstruck, blushing all the way home...
photo credit: my dad.

One word to describe the night? Magic.

It was pure magic.

This picnic will soon depart 
Real life, I'm sad to see you go 
I'll miss you with all my heart 
But I'd rather be alone
 'Cause I couldn't live without 
Sunsets that dazzle in the dusk 
So I'll drag the anchor up 
And rest assured, 'cause dreams don't turn to dust

Dreams dont turn to dust.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

truth is, i am metalmouth

Saturday, October 06, 2012 18
truth is, i am metalmouth
I got braces (finally) on September 21st,and since then it's been two weeks full of major transition. Case in point:

  • I wish they made soft chips. True, it would defeat the purpose of having chips to crunch, but at least us poor braces-folk would have the ability to enjoy the flavor of chips without risking a bracket emergency.
  • An upper arch isn't fun, and a lot harder than I thought it would be. Especially when you get food stuck up there. Which happens often. Too often.
  • I look better with braces than I thought I would.
  • My orthodontist and the hygienists are the nicest people ever.
  • Despite being paid less, the ortho-hygienists do most of the work. It's nice to talk to them while they do. I even have a favorite now. (Hi, Megan!)
  • People with braces should have some kind of superhero status among the rest of the world. I have solved this problem by assuming my new superhero idenity: Metalmouth. Nice to meet you, folks.
  • Having a bunch of metal in your mouth isn't very cool. I wonder if I'll set off metal detectors at the airport now.
  • It's harder than you think, having braces (hence the whole superhero point I made above). You have to brush your teeth after every meal (something that I forgot to do today...oops) and you can't eat certain foods. Oh, joy.
  • But in the end, it will be worth it. My teeth are already much straighter now and I'm happy with this fact.
And on another completely different note, I'm pretty pleased with myself because I majorly worked on my room today. Cleaning, reorganizing, overhauling my bookshelves... see, I have a lot of books. And these books were eating my desk and my floor. And the thing with me is, I'm not a neat freak but eventually things drive me crazy.

This was the day where I finally snapped and said "OHMYGOSHIHAVETOCLEANTHISNOW."

So yeah. I cleaned off my bookshelves, reorganized them in order of which I liked best, moved some books downstairs, moved some books from my floor to my bookshelf, majorly diminished the pile of books on the floor, and realized just how many books I have. Oh, and I also drew with a Sharpie on my wall, finally writing over some quotes I had pencilled on my wall about a year ago. It's the little things in life.

P.S. - I reached my 6-year-anniversary of blogging yesterday. Yeah, I'm ancient. 
Thanks, guys, for making my blogging experience so awesome.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

ablaze with wondrous things

Wednesday, October 03, 2012 3
ablaze with wondrous things
I saw the autumn leaves
Peel up off the street
Take wing on the balmy breeze
And sweep you off your feet
And you blushed as they scooped you up
On sugar maple wings
And gazed down on the city below
Ablaze with wondrous things
Downy feathers kiss your face
And flutter everywhere
Reality is a lovely place
But I wouldn't want to live there. 

- The Real World, Owl City

Writing is the only way Ive been able to make sense of anything.

As you've probably been able to tell by some of my previous blog posts, I have been struggling; with circumstances, emotions, and life in general. But this struggling also extends to my writing life. I couldn't write. I couldn't come up with anything to write. I simply couldn't get any words out. 

Writing is what I use to process through the world around me, through what I'm going through. It helps me understand things in a way that I otherwise can't. It helps me view the world through a different lens, and it helps me remain cheerful in a world that can otherwise be so bleak.

However, I've been severely writer's blocked, so this outlet wasn't available to me. I didn't know what to write, and my internal editor was screaming at the top of its lungs. This isn't any good, it said. You shouldn't start a new story, it said. You should write your other ones first, the half-finished ones, but even if you do, those will stink too. Bwahahahaha. Aha. Aha.

Then, a spark struck.

On Sunday, I had the idea to do a Snow White retelling. Those who know me might think this is a little out of character. I'm not a huge fan of fairytales. I enjoy them, but I'm not in love with them like some people are. (Except for Tangled, but that's a different story.) Besides, I haven't even seen Snow White and have a minimal knowledge of what it's about.

But nonetheless, I wanted to do a Snow White retelling. This baffles even me.

This idea was turning over and over in my head. I knew I wanted to do sort of a modern twist, like what Once Upon a Time seems to be about, and yet not really. I wanted it to be my own, and I would forsake the legend and just write like my life depended on it. I'd already decided that Snow White's last name would be.... well, Snow. The search ensued for a name that meant White. I found a handful of names: Anwen, Gwendolen, and, um, Tarzan, of all names. But in the end, Gwendolen stood out the most. So it was that Gwendolen Snow was born.

As if this wasn't weird enough, yesterday, while I was showering, another plot twist occurred. The Eleventh Doctor popped into my head with pomp and ceremony and the first lines of my Snow White retelling. He showed up and basically said, "This is my story."

And that's how my Snow White retelling became a Doctor Who / Snow White crossover.

...Yeah. I know. I'm still extremely weirded out.

However, I wrote 1,400 words on Tuesday and I've got more ideas spinning in my head, waiting to be written. So apparently, this is the Doctor's story after all, and apparently, I'm meant to write it. I always do this, though, don't I? I start something completely ridiculous, which ends up being a story I love. It also manages to grow from an intended snippet into a comparatively mammoth-sized novels. (Yeah, this has happened twice.) My attempts at more "serious, publishable" stories are quite valiant and haven't failed me yet, but when it comes to finishing novels, I always end up writing the ridiculous ones first.

So I'm writing again, which is something I didn't expect, but something I'm extremely grateful for. My mood has improved significantly, all because I have inkstains on my fingers again. It's wonderful.

Last October was filled with cool breezes and walks outside and loads of plotting while my head was in the clouds. I was hoping this feeling would return, and yesterday it did. The NaNoWriMo site relaunched and when I logged on I had a burst of excitement and nostalgia. Last year's NaNo was one of my best writing experiences. It was loaded with inspiration and giddy highs and wonderful words. Words, words, words. I want to repeat that experience again this year. I'm not totally sure whether I will do NaNo this year, due to not knowing what my life will hold at that time, but I really, really want to. That said, whether I do NaNo or not, I will be writing. Because it's fall, and you know what that means.

It’s writing time.

P.S. - Also on the subject of fall and writing, the dynamic writing duo, sisters Jennifer Freitag and Abigail Hartman, would like to cordially invite you to join their upcoming blog event. This blog event will celebrate the two-year anniversary of their respective novels getting published. Click the invites below to read more, and don't forget to visit their blogs: The Penslayer and Scribbles and Ink Stains.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

shot in the dark

Wednesday, September 19, 2012 7
shot in the dark
there was a shot in the dark
i was caught by surprise
there was a hole in my heart
there were tears in your eyes
and there was nothing to say
'cuz you'd made up your mind
and so i guess what you meant
when you left was goodbye.
-- Take It All Away, Owl City

Earlier this year, as summer dawned and sunshine filtered through the trees, I lost one of my closest friends.

She was my mentor, my encourager, my friend. She came alongside me during one of the hardest times of my life (read: the teenage years) and supported me. She was beautiful, an inspiration. I loved her so much, not only for what she did for me, but because of who she was.
And then suddenly, without any warning, she was gone.

She cut off all contact. Not a word. Not only that, but she did so because of reasons that were later proved to be unfounded. There was a sting of betrayal with her departure. And I found myself with a broken heart, in tattered shreds, trying to pick up the pieces.

I don't even know what to say. I could try to generalize about how generally relationships like these hurt... but the truth is, that's not even close to what I feel about it. My heart was kicked to the curb. Raw, bleeding, broken.

It's been a few months since then. I'm still not over it. Yes, there is healing. Eventually. I don't know if I'm there yet.

Reconciliation would be wonderful, but sometimes it's not possible. In this situation, it seems that way. As I mentioned, she's cut off all contact. I've thought of writing her a letter, but I don't know if she'd even read it or respond if I tried.

I recently experienced reconciliation with another fractured relationship of mine, and let me tell you this: it was beautiful. God made a way when there seemed to be none. Suddenly months and months of unresolved issues and pain seemed so much less significant, not so crushing. And all I want is to have the same thing here, with this friend. To hear from her, even if it's just one last time. To know that she doesn't hate me. To have her apologize, to tell me she still cares. So that I can move on. So that I can heal.

What does one do in a situation like this?

I have absolutely no idea.

I'm praying because God is having to heal my heart and hers, reconciliation or not. And I'm hoping, praying, that someday, she'll choose to contact me again.

Could she? Yes.

Will she? I don't know.

It's times like today where my heart aches to have what we once had. Painful reminders crop up of what we once shared, but what is now suddenly just memories on a page. This friendship is no longer living, breathing, alive. It is over.

And that is what hurts the most about it.

Because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

A dull ache fills my heart now as I type this, because no matter how you slice it, it's over, she's gone, and I have to move on with my life. But try as I might, the pain is still there. So is the hope that she'll contact me, that we'll run into each other again. All I want is to hug her, to know that everything is okay, and to maybe rebuild what we once had.

But I don't have that. I can't see her, hug her, talk to her. Not anymore. And it stings.

Being a teenager sucks. (Sorry to whip you around and suddenly change topics like that. But I'm sure you can agree.) It's so hard. My dad validated me in that this evening--saying, "Your mom and I know how hard this is. We want to support you."

That meant the world to me, because I am struggling. So much. But that's what teenagerdom is about. It's what growing's about. I'm pushing through the soil like a bright green plant. Growing, reaching. Restless. I'm growing so dang much through all of this. So much is changing. Life has handed me a ton of lemons.

Time to make some lemonade, I suppose?

So life as a teenager is a shot in the dark. Because we have no idea where we're going or what we're doing half the time. And sometimes you get shot in the dark, wounded out of nowhere, by those who love you most.

It hurts so much. But we're going to get through this. I'm going to get through this. There are better days ahead. (Hopefully in that magical time of life that starts with a 2 and ends with a 0.)

Seriously. I can't wait for it to get better. And I wonder when it will. I can't wait till it does. Come on, God. Bring me to a better place here.

And until then, I'll watch the summer stars to lead me home.

i'm a silhouette 
asking every now and then
is it over yet? 
will I ever love again? 
i'm a silhouette 
chasing rainbows on my own 
but the more I try to move on 
the more I feel alone 
so I watch the summer stars to lead me home.
--Silhouette, Owl City

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

painted in monotone

Tuesday, September 18, 2012 21
painted in monotone
Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home.
-- Phillip Phillips, Home

Worldbuilding. It's something that I've always thought is a neat abstract concept, but it doesn't come very easily to me.

This was made especially clear earlier when I was trying to make some Polyvore sets earlier for a project of mine, Kaysie's novel. (You met Kaysie in Character Letters here.) I stared at the screen, trying to figure out what my characters would wear, but I couldn't pick out any clothes... at all. Because I didn't know what people in my world wore. I had literally no idea. And then I realized the larger problem: I didn't know much about my world at all.

I wish I knew more about world-building. Some people seem to have an innate talent for it. One example: my Pip. You all know her as the immensely talented Georgie Penn. She has about a million novels, and the majority of them all take place in the same universe and they almost always connect to each other in some way. Seriously, it's crazy how she makes connections between her various projects, but it always works. Always. I wish I could do that, but as of yet I haven't had more than one novel that takes place in the same universe, much less the same world. (Aside from my contemporary projects which, obviously take place in the current real world that you and I live in.)

Even my fantasy worlds are not that fleshed out. Silver Tears takes place in your typical medieval fantasy world. I've wanted it to have contemporary elements as well, but I haven't gotten to that yet. (It's a first draft, what can I say?) However, one novel of mine that is very fleshed out in the worldbuilding aspect is Souvenirs. Each locale has a distinct setting, based on pictures I've found on Tumblr. My locations for Souvenirs happen to be one of my proudest accomplishments in my writing. (Hey, might as well be honest.) From idyllic mountain towns to sandy beaches, Souvenirs has it all. (And now I just sound like I'm writing an infomercial. I'll stop now.)

So, this is something on my mind. I think it would really help me if I could expand Kaysie's world and figure out exactly what it is I'm dealing with here. ;) So how do you world build? How do you make your characters a home? Tell me how; I'm all ears.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

baby, do you like my sweater?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 9
baby, do you like my sweater?

cause when it's colder 
i feel much better 
when i cry on my own shoulder 
i'll just throw on a sweater and go 
 and i'll go to undergo a change of heart, 
a change of clothes 
and when i'm home, 
i think i'll go eat cereal 
and stare out the window.
Jefferson Aeroplane, Relient K

It hasn't felt like fall yet. Not until this morning, when I woke up and I could tell before even opening my eyes that it was raining. The gray light leaked in through my blinds and I sat up and peeled the blinds away from my window, only to see my window mottled with raindrops and condensation. I went downstairs and felt that familiar chill on my skin, that chill that says, Fall is here.

And so I've been enjoying this rainy day, and I just got dressed into a sweater and fingerless gloves, because this is the kind of weather that deserves such a thing. No, I'm not completely happy. Life has been hard for me lately... really hard. But this rainy day, ironically enough, has cheered me up a little bit.

And so I'll sit here and try to ignore my headache, and let these words flow. I haven't been able to write lately, so this is glorious. It feels like me again.

Last night I was having a hard night. Mom and I were standing in the kitchen, and she opened the kitchen window and beckoned me to smell the rain. I love the smell of rain. Then she took me by the hand and dragged me outside, the joy sparking the air between us, and we stood on the front porch and drank the air in. Then my brother came outside and dared me to run down the steps into the front yard, which I did, and we ran around the dew-soaked grass and I felt the mud slightly squish beneath my toes and I loved it even though I'd just taken a shower. "Tag, you're it," my brother said and darted off and I chased him like I haven't been able to in a long time, forgetting for a little while the pain in my hips and in my head. And for once I actually tagged him, but whether this was because he was sore from football or was humoring me remains to be seen. It made my night.

After we'd skittered around the lawn for a bit, the energy in the air faded. I stood there looking up at the purplish night sky and thinking about the stars, and looking at the black outline of the tree branches above me. I remembered something my mom  had read me from the book Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge—about how sometimes we're closest to experiencing Jesus when we're in nature than we ever are by using words to understand or describe him. I held my hands out to the sky and just let that thought wash over me for a second, feeling close to Jesus again.

I looked down the street at a lonely streetlight that has always captivated me, and I debated whether I wanted to walk down there. Just in front of it, I saw a square of moonlight on the sidewalk, and I got it in my head that I wanted to stand in that light. So I took off across the lawn and our broken-up concrete, walking with my bare feet and all, until I was standing in the moonlight. It didn't feel any different, and sadly the moonlight looked prettier from a distance. However, down the sidewalk there's a tree, next to the streetlight. I've always loved that streetlight and its tree, for reasons I can't describe. The golden light filters through its branches and it's one of those things that seems like it's so much more than just a streetlight. I don't know how to describe it. I wish you could see it and feel the things I do.

So I just stared at it, thinking about how much I wanted to bottle this moment, this moment of adventure, of spontaneity, and how much I wanted to write about this feeling... whatever it was. The wind howled around me with its whistling chill, and I couldn't help but feel so, so small. I still don't know what happened in that moment, or what it is that I felt. But I felt like I was experiencing all the things I read about, all the things I hope to capture in my writing. What is that feeling called? Beauty? Hope? Adventure? All of the above? I don't know, but regardless, that moment was beautiful. It's one of those moments that make life seem worth living, and remind me that life is so, so much more than what it seems.

I have these moments a lot more than you'd think—the ones I can't describe, the ones that make me feel like a dreamer more than ever. Do you have them too?

I went inside, with mud caked on my feet and a new hope in my heart, and I felt much better. No, my problems didn't go away. Yes, I am still dealing with grief and sadness and pain. But I have hope. And that makes me feel brave.

This morning I'm not feeling totally amazing, but that hope is still slightly there, with the presence of my sweater and this rainy day. There's nothing better.

Oh, and do you like my sweater?

(The title of this post is from Sadie Hawkins Dance by Relient K. If you haven't heard it, go and do so. Now.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

the magic of books.

Saturday, August 25, 2012 3
the magic of books.
I'm guest posting today over at Muse, a blog by fellow teen writer Seth Skoegerboe. I'd love it if you'd stop by and check it out.

sneak peek:
“Books are a uniquely portable kind of magic.” –Stephen King 
I’m a reader, and I’m a writer. Sometimes I wonder if those things aren’t intertwined. I started reading when I was three years-old and I’ve had an irrevocable love of words ever since. I wrote my first “book” when I was very young, after being steeped in the classics like Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

It’s funny how words work and how potent stories are. It’s funny how they seep into our subconscious and remain with us forever. It’s funny how, by reading stories, we are inspired to write our own.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Character Letters: Kaysie & Cy

Saturday, August 11, 2012 5
Character Letters: Kaysie & Cy
It's been a while since I last participated in the Character Letters meme hosted by Rosamund Gregory, but I saw the new edition up and thought I'd give it a try again. This is a blog meme much like Beautiful People except it's dedicated to first-person character development. It's just as it sounds; you write a letter from the perspective of your character.

Last time, Elleri was my victim of choice. This time it's Kaysie, the main character of a futuristic semi-dystopic novel that I started on a whim. It's nameless and plotless and I love watching it take shape beneath my fingertips.

This letter is self-explanatory (I hope) but it's basically Kaysie reacting to the current events that are taking place in the plot. Lots of stuff going on, guys, and I don't know the half of it. This letter really did help me flesh out the depth of Kaysie's feelings for Cy and her feelings about the event that's currently happening. I really liked getting a chance to get inside Kaysie's head and act her out for a little bit. It was good to really feel what she was feeling and figure out what she's been thinking.

I typed this in an incredibly delicate font, a font that I personally like (the font is called Miss, for those who wonder). Upon further consideration, I can't decide if that's the way Kaysie actually writes or not. In actuality though, I feel like she'd write with a bold, practical font that has a slight edge of femininity to it, but not too much. (That actually sums up Kaysie in a nutshell, guys.)

She'd write the letter on plain paper, though, at any rate. And probably hide it under her mattress once it was completed.


Dear Cy,

You’ll probably never read this. Just know that… well, I know. I know about you and her. I know how you feel about her, because I see it in your eyes. I can’t say that I like it… but… what can I do? It’s love. It’s tricky like that. And yeah… I’m happy for you. But in a weird way, I’m not. Because you’re in love with the girl that tried to kill me. And somehow that just doesn’t settle well.

Yes, I know she didn’t mean to. Or so you say. But I’m just not convinced. We live amongst warriors, Cy. We’re trained to be evil, to destroy, to turn against each other in an instant. We’re cunning people, we’re spies, assassins, warriors—because we’re trained to be. How can I know if she’s really my friend? How can I know that you’re really my friend, for that matter? You think it’s silly, these notions of mine… but think about it. Any one of us could turn on each other in an instant. Why? Because that’s what we’re trained to do, Cy. It’s what we’ve been raised to do. Betrayal is all we know.

And it scares me, you and her. Both of you do. Because you’re getting tangled up in her web. And yes, you both are my friends, but for how much longer? I’m afraid she’ll ruin you, Cy. And if there’s one person I can’t live without, it’s you. I didn’t even know it till now, but you’re my solid rock, the one person I can count on. And now that you love her… I’m afraid that will change.

I never wanted to be the jealous best friend; I’m sorry. I wish I didn’t feel like this. For what it’s worth, you have my congratulations on your newfound love. I hope it lasts, for your sake. And mine. Because… yeah, I love you. And I just don’t want to see you get hurt, no matter what happens.