October 2012 - further up and further in

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.