Tuesday, December 18, 2012

She's ALIVE!

See, I'm not dead. I'm very not dead.

Thesis stuff is just taking over my life and sorry, but the poor little blog falls between the cracks. I'm not the only one though. A bunch of my blog buddies (or at least 2...) have done the same thing and are revamping them.

I'm thinking that I'll try and blog more next year. I mean, hopefully things will shift and my time will be a bit more free...

Well, if you are following my plight, I'll give you an update on how the thesis is going.

Pretty damn well. I'm re-writing a lot of it from scratch, but I'm totally okay with that. I wrote the first 5 chapters or so in college and I think that they were very good for where I was at that time in my growth as a writer. But, I've come so far that they weren't doing my thesis justice.

You might think that I would be bitter at having to do all that hard work again. Well, I'm not. Seriously. I've fallen back in love with my characters. My thesis advisor is amazing and is giving me such great feedback - I write scenes now and think to myself, "Okay, I'm getting the action plot down right now. I'll need to go back and add the emotional plot later." Or "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? You are not showing, you're telling... don't need that right now."

So, I think each time I go back and rewrite scenes and add them, I'm not throwing away all that old work. It's saved in a nice little folder on my computer (and jump drive) and it's just the younger version version of this WIP. It's like a little kid that's eaten their veggies and is all grown-up into a teenager. It's still a little rough around the edges, but we're growing together and it's fun. I like seeing the novel that my idea is turning into, and I want it to be the best thing I can produce.

Anyway, that's my update and my little soapbox speech about how practice really makes you better...as do super awesome thesis advisors.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Right. So, this blog is a little bit about my life, a little bit about my writing/writing in general, and mostly about what it's like being a creative writing grad student out in the "real" world.

Recently, I've been posting about life and hardships and inspirations and whatnot. Now I'm coming full circle back to writing.

I know what you're thinking, "Ahhh - she's a writer. It's November. This is her National Novel Writing Month token post."

Well, you're wrong. I'm working on my thesis. I don't have any time to write another novel on top of this one.

This is a thesis writing post.


Today has been brought to you by the letter "P"


Who is under pressure here? *I raise my hand*

Why - you may ask.

Well, I'll tell you. So I rewrote chapter one. And it's pretty awesome as far as I'm concerned. My thesis advisor even said it was some of the cleanest writing she's ever seen from me. So naturally, I'm all like "woooooooo"

Then I sit down to write chapter 2. And the freaking cursor just sits there blinking on the damn page and no words are appearing.

Here's what's going through my head....

"What if I can't get back into that voice?"

"What if my characters feel forced?"

"What if chapter 2 is not nearly as good as chapter one?"

"What if I can't finish my thesis?"

"What if this is all I have in me?"

"What if this chapter is epically shorter than that last one?"


Yeah. It's awesome. 

And really, who the fuck cares about most of that? Page count? I mean, come on...

Then I close the computer and read or watch TV and think, "Alright. All I need is a break. I just need some space." 

ANNNNND then the cycle starts all over again. However this time it's accompanied by that David Bowie and Queen song, Under Pressure.

You know, this one...

Well, I know how to beat the cycle! I will open the document and pretend that I'm not writing for my thesis. My masters degree doesn't ride on this. No one else will see it. EVER. Just me. So really, all I need to do is have fun and write because it's fun. Get back to the basics as it were. 

That's what made chapter one so awesome. I was having FUN while writing it. 

This is a new plan of attack. We'll see how it pans out... updates will follow.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween all you ghosts and ghouls! 

When I'm not poor (border-line starving artist) I very much want to go get lots of books from thrift stores and pass them out at Halloween. Rock out All Hallows Read!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Right Words

A few posts ago (The Dangerous of Being True To Yourself) I mentioned how many inspirational quotes there are out there and that words can only go so far.

I don't admit this often, but I was wrong.

Let me start of with this awesome quote from Mark Twain:

I think this really applies to "inspirational" crap as well.

It's not about the words- it's about finding the right words to inspire you.

See the difference? 

What gets me inspired and pumped up to write and just be plain awesome might not be what gets other people'e juices flowing. 

Here's what gives me strength:

Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck
Some nights, I call it a draw
Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castle
Some nights, I wish they'd just fall off

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know anymore...
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa oh oh
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa oh oh

This is it, boys, this is war - what are we waiting for?
Why don't we break the rules already?
I was never one to believe the hype - save that for the black and white
I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style

And that's alright; I found a martyr in my bed tonight
She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am
Oh, who am I? mmm... mmm...

Well, some nights, I wish that this all would end
Cause I could use some friends for a change
And some nights, I'm scared you'll forget me again
Some nights, I always win, I always win...

But I still wake up, I still see your ghost
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for, oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don't know... (come on)

So this is it? I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of God for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?

(Come on)

No. When I see stars, when I see, when I see stars, that's all they are
When I hear songs, they sound like this one, so come on
Oh, come on. Oh, come on, OH COME ON!

Well, that is it guys, that is all - five minutes in and I'm bored again
Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands
This one is not for the folks at home; Sorry to leave, mom, I had to go
Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?

My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she call "love"
When I look into my nephew's eyes...
Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from...
Some terrible lies...ahhh...

Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa, oh oh
Oh whoa, oh whoa, oh whoa, oh oh

The other night, you wouldn't believe the dream I just had about you and me
I called you up, but we'd both agree
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...
It's for the best you didn't listen
It's for the best we get our distance... oh...

Or, you know, if you want to hear the song if you haven't already check out the video:

To me, this is a song about being an underdog. It's about doubt. It's about figuring out who you are and what it might cost you to be true to yourself. It's about weather or not it is worth doing what you do if you feel like no one understands. To me, it pretty much sums up my Dangers of Being True To Yourself post. 

When I need a kick in the pants or when I need to feel like "YES! I may be super nerdy! I may want something that isn't easy (a life where I can be a writer and just write) but NO! I will not give up!" I listen to this song.

Also, sometimes just one or two lines - like the hook or part of the chorus of a song - really empower me. So this one from Imagine Dragons' song "It's Time" is one I shout at the top of my lungs in my car when I need some reassurance. 

I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am!

Then - I also have this lovely picture hanging in my bathroom. Every morning when I brush my teeth I see it. Every night when I get ready for bed, I take it in.

It's "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

Some days that road is hard and bumpy. But I am better for it I think, "And that has made all the difference."

I'll wrap this up now - but I do want to share that I made an iMix on iTunes that I think you can search for and download. It's called "Music For Writers" but I really think it can be for anyone who might need a bit of inspiration. Just incase, here's the track list:

  1. Die Vampire, Die - [title of show] 
  2. Some Nights - fun.
  3. Through Heavens Eyes - The Prince of Egypt soundtrack
  4. Defying Gravity - I like the Glee version and the original so whatever floats your boat
  5. Just Dance - Lady Gaga
  6. I Want It All - Queen
  7. Eye of the Tiger - Rocky Soundtrack
  8. Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
  9. It's Time - Imagine Dragons
  10. Paperback Writer - The Beatles
  11. Open Book - Cake

What songs empower you? What words? Share them here or just find them and hold on to them. The right words make all the difference. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wherein I Feel Like A Rock Star and English Saves A Life

Well, enough of me talking about the downsides to being a writer and whatnot. I'm sure we'll come back to it at some point, but today, I want to touch on two things:

  1. When/how being an English Person makes me feel like a rockstar 
  2. What the world  would be like if everything depended on English 
So- as some of you may know, Husband is in nursing school. He's brilliant when it comes to scientific things and numbers. All the things that completely confound me. He also knows grammar very well. But papers (while he's good at them, he hates them) are his Achilles' Heel.

Yesterday morning the alarm buzzes far too early for me, and he hops out of bed to get a jump start on the mountain of homework he has to have done before he goes into the hospital after lunch. Well, I just roll over and go back to sleep for a little while. Then, once it's a reasonable hour for me to get up on an off day, I walk out of the bedroom bleary eyed into the kitchen where he's set up shop.

Picture this:

I walk out of the bedroom. The sun, a bit too bright for my still sleepy eyes causing me the squint and rub them. My sock-footed feet shuffle on the hardwood floor to the kitchen. Half way through a yawn HUSBAND looks up at me. His face brightens.

HUSBAND: Will you proof read this for me? And maybe help with the citations? He shoves a handful of papers into my hand. 

I look down at them and the wheels in my brain start to move. I need to answer him. I glance back up.

ME: Yes, but only if you make me eggs and an english muffin

HUSBAND: Agreed! You rock baby!

And here's how I feel:

Awesome. Simply awesome. 

I love it when my talents as an English major kick in. It's times like this, and when I can help my mother solve literary questions on her crossword puzzle, that I feel like a total rockstar. 

This is what the world kinda looks like when I'm all pumped up on feeling awesome:

It's a great view.

So, this brings me to point two. If the world depended on English.

Right, so there are days when I come home from work, particularly grumpy over having to make what feels like a million salads while helping horrible customers. I walk into the house and see Husband, sitting on the couch totally deflated. This is about the time when he tells me that one of the patients he was working with died, or had major complications, or is just in a horrible situation with terrible injuries and no insurance.

As you can imagine my day gets put into perspective. And really, there are some days where I totally beat myself up about this. Even if I get my dream job as a kick-ass writer, it's still not like I'll be saving lives. My career won't be anything like what Husband will have to deal with. But after I think really long and hard about it, I'm okay with that. I'm okay with being a part-time English rockstar. 

Here's why....

DOCTOR: Quick! This man is dying! There's no pulse! We need some literature! FAST!
ME: What? What kind?
DOCTOR: Anything you silly girl. Just recite something!
ME: (floundering for something and watching the medical people scurry around the poor man that's dying on the bed in front of me.) 'To be, or not to be -- that is the question...'
DOCTOR: Good! Keep going!
(There's a slight beep on the heart monitor and then it flat lines again)
ME: 'Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles...' 
(The heart monitor starts producing a steady beeping sound and a smile breaks out across the Doctor's face.)
DOCTOR: You did it! Thank God, he has a pulse once again. 
ME: (shaking and horribly glad I didn't have to recite the entire thing. Because let's face it, I couldn't really remember any more than that) Yeah, any time. 
(And then I run like hell away from the hospital and hide under my bed for the rest of my life)

Yes, I'm very glad we don't live in a world where life and death matters are solved by english instead of sensible things, like medicine. *shivers* I don't think I could handle the pressure.

When I think of things like this, and that quote about fish and flying, then I am very glad that I am an English person. No, I may not ever drill a hole in someone's leg in order for the to be able to walk again one day. And no, I may never have to incubate anyone. But I really REALLY glad of that. 

The way I look at it is, maybe I can't save their lives in a hospital  but I can save them on a different level. I can create stories and characters that make them feel happy, or not so alone in the world, or even just connected to an idea that's bigger than themselves. I can entertain them. I can't attend to their physical needs, but maybe to their emotional needs.

And that will make all the difference.   

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Dangers of Being True to Yourself

There's all this emphasis on being true to yourself. Google "being true to yourself quotes" and you get like a million hits of a million pages all full of inspirational quotes.

Well, words will only get you so far.

I'm not sure how many of you watch The Big Bang Theory but at our home if one of the few channels we get has it on, we're watching it.

If you're not familiar, I have a clip.

So, a lot of days I feel like the guy in the blue shirt. "It's not that I think you are worthless. Just what you do (or let's substitute in the word "like") is."

Yep. That's how I feel most days.

I am someone who...

  • loves Star Wars - so much so my license plate reflects this love. Also, there is an R2-D2 action figured super glued to my dashboard
  • is falling in love with Star Trek. I didn't want to really, but it happened. 
  • watches Dr. Who
  • reads like a meth-head smokes
  • loves children's and young adult literature
  • enjoys discussions on how the Disney princesses reflect various views of women/ why Sleeping Beauty sucks/ how Disney himself sticks to the tradition of fairy tales much like the Grimm brothers
  • enjoys debates on the psychological undertones of Harry Potter
  • loves animated movies - I can't wait to see Hotel Transylvania 
  • is getting a Masters degree in not only creative writing, but in Children's Literature
 None of these are horrible traits. However, when they're all combined ...well, let's just say I tend to feel like a minority. I know that there are other people like me out there. That's why I love my program. I can totally walk around in this shirt ...

... and people get it. I can have serious discussions about Disney princesses and not get ogled like I've just grown a second and third head. 

I would like to pause and mention that none of this comes from anyone in my family. They tend to share a lot (but not really all) of the things listed above, and support me none-the-less. Granted, on more than one occasion a few of my loved ones have exclaimed upon meeting my grad school friends, "Oh look! There are more people like you!" I know that's supposed to be encouraging but what I'm hearing is "Oh honey, you aren't as big of a freak as I thought." Is that what my loved one means? Hell no! They just are excited that I have people I can relate with.


Okay, here I am getting to the real meat of my post. I am who I am and that's not going to change. I'm damn stubborn enough to like what I like and march on. But the thing is, I just get so freaking tired some days.

Here's how I want some days to go at work:
(PS - I work at a catering/ cafe/ bakery place)

Me: Hello there, can I help you with anything today? 
Customer: I think I'd like a few frozen casseroles.
Me: Well, I can help you with that [INSERT CASSEROLE SPEIL HERE]
Customer: (while I'm ringing them up) So, are you a student?
Me: Yes I am.
Customer: Oh, that's nice. What are you studying?
Me: Well, I'm getting a Masters in Creative Writing with a focus on Children's Literature.


Customer: (while I'm ringing them up) So, are you a student?
Me: Yes I am.
Customer: Oh, that's nice. What are you studying?
Me: Well, I'm getting a Masters in Creative Writing with a focus on Children's Literature.
Customer: Oh, well, so what ...uh... what do you want to do with that?
Me: Well, write. And maybe teach. 
Customer: That's sweet.
Awkward silence
Me: *sigh* well, my husband is going to be a nurse. He's finishing up his degree.
Customer: Oh thank God! Well, at least you'll have him and won't have to starve. 

Yes, I am so thankful for my husband. 

But come on. I mean, upon reading those two different scenes to him out loud just now he laughed and said, "Oh dear, that's horrible."

I know. I live it.

So like I was saying, sometimes I just get so tired of being unique. I mean, I know that there are more people like me. I see them when I go to other places in the US. But if there are any near me (and no, the creepy comicbook store guys don't count - why?  Because the main adjetive there is "creepy.") I sure can't find them.

What do I do? I mean really, how do you just keep on going all the time when people ask you what you like/ what you want to do and you get that same damn blank stare over and over again? 

Really, I see two choices:
  1. Suck it up and just keep going. You will find people who understand you and when you do, you should really develop those relationships and get fulfillment there and from yourself.
  2. Give up
I don't like choice number two. I don't want to force myself to like TV shows I hate just so I can relate to the general public.

I guess what I'm saying here is yes, it's exhausting staying true to oneself when you seem to be in the nerd minority. But what other choice do you have?

If you are reading this and are like, "Holy shit that's me!" Awesome. You are not alone. Keep it up. Keep doing what you do and loving what you love. 

On those days when I feel the weight of the world on me. Like I'll never fit in. Like I'll always get those blank stares and that no one will understand me again, my amazing husband comes through. He reminds me of this quote... 


Ending thought: Stay true to yourself. Sure, we may be some fish among birds, but at least we can breath underwater! Kapow!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pondering on Growing-Up

Well, I've avoided it for as long as possible, but I think I have to admit something.

I'm not a kid anymore.

Am I an adult? I donno. I don't really feel like one. I feel like a kid playing dress up in my mother's clothes and then when I look at all the other kids (the real kids) I realize that I don't really fit in with them anymore.

I don't think it's a bad thing that I feel like this. But it does mix up some fears. 

Let me start at the beginning...

Husband and I just moved out of our one bedroom apartment into a two bedroom (but now one bedroom one "library") house. I love it. I adore it. We can breathe in it and not choke the other person with our recently exhaled breath.

Moving was stressful, yes. All moving is. But it was welcomed. Since 2006 I have lived in either a dorm or this one bedroom apartment. Yes, there were vacations where I spent time at my parents house, but my space was always ... on the smaller side. 

What does this have to do with growing up? Well, apart from the obvious (it's a house) I'm getting there.

So, I meet the neighbors that are two doors down. They're a super sweet couple. A bit older than me (maybe in their early 30's late 20's) but my age. With two little kids. 

Here's where I start to feel awkward. In my life I have always been friends with the "children" in a family unit. My college best friends don't have kids (yet - most are still single or getting married) and didn't have kids in college. It's not like I befriended Husband's parents and then met him and got married. I have always been in that kid role. Understand?

Now, I'm not. I'm relating to the parents and they are my peers. Not the other way around. 

And yes - still, I am okay with this.

But at the same time it kinda freaks me out.

And I feel it's not for the obvious reason of leaving childhood behind and facing my own mortality and all that hoopla. 

It's because I'm scared my writing will suffer. I feel like I'm finally growing into my skin as the writer I want to be. Having to rewrite Chapter 1 has been so much fun and given me a chance to enjoy the characters a little bit before I turn their lives to hell. 

But I write YA - YOUNG ADULT fiction. Will I be an adult that can still capture that voice, those feelings, everything that makes a young adult what they are once I'm totally through that phase? Will my work still be relatable or will readers pick up my stuff and toss it aside as crap because I can't tap into that teenager/early 20's side of me?

Honest to God, it freaks me the hell out. I don't have an answer on how to fix it either. Not even a game plan. 

Updates on this matter in the future. Because despite being scared, I'm also determined (or freakishly stubbon as many might call it) and I will keep writing and I will keep telling the stories that are in my head that need to be told.     

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Okay, so there are a few things I'll touch on this post. Hence the title, "update."

First off, I did my first guest stint as a blogger recently! I reviewed a movie (Trick 'r Treat) for my friend Cameron's blog. It was super fun. I have a link to his blog in my blog roll over here(ish) -----> 
And really, don't just check out my post, but his whole blog. Right now he's reviewing different Halloween movies (holiday themed - not the Halloween) for the entire month of October. He knows his movie stuff - like epically better than I do.   

Next, I think my whole vision for this blog has been a bit sporadic. I give out advice and book review. I plan on keeping that up. But really, I started this blog to be about the life of an English grad student and I think I want to head back in that direction.  So yes, there will still be blog posts that focus on the craft, advice, books... but there will be more about my struggles with my thesis. 

Lastly, I am so excited to be working on my thesis! I had my first video conference with my thesis advisor (Delia) and not only did I feel it went really well, but I kinda felt like I was in some awesome sci-fi movie. I mean, I'm not that old, but when we first got a computer, back when I was eight, I was stoked about being able to type. Now, I'm working face-to-face with my advisor who is like a thousand miles away. That's super cool.

So - at the moment I am rewriting Chapter One. Not from scratch really, but I've tucked that other first chapter away in a saved folder on my laptop. Now, I'm working on a whole new chapter one. Originally I thought it would be super frustrating, but no. It's been kind of fun. And I think I'll save that for the next post. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Book Review: The Raven Boys

 This is the first book I have ever read by Maggie Stiefvatier and I'm kind of beating myself up thinking, "Why? Why haven't you read anything from her before?" I have no answer to that...

But, this post is all about her newest book, The Raven Boys. (Click the link to go to the book's webpage)

Holy crap. I loved it.

Usually I gobble books up. I let myself get lost in them and the world could be ending around me, and I wouldn't notice. 

I didn't let that happen with this book. Like The Night Circus, I wanted to savor this book. But not just that. I didn't want it to end. I told my husband last night, "I'm so conflicted. I don't want to keep reading, because I don't want the book to end. BUT I DO want to keep reading because I want to know what happens next." To which he replied, "Well, you don't have to read anymore tonight. Let's watch a movie."

Why I loved this book:
  • First and foremost, the characters. They just feel so real. So, easy to relate to. One of the things I love most about John Green is his ability to write characters that I feel I could be friends with. Maggie has done the same thing in this book. I think one of the hallmarks of a fantastic writer is that the characters in the books become more than imagined people, they become your friends in a weird way. 
  • The magic. The magic in this book comes to the reader slowly. It isn't like "BAM!" There are little hints and then more and more come until it's totally okay if otherworldly things start happening. I mean, the characters still react believably, but Maggie does an awesome job at suspending the disbelief of the reader. 
There are so many more reasons why I loved this book (and can't wait for the next in the cycle - there's supposed to be four books total), but I can't tell you any of them without spoiling the book for you. Therefore, you must read.

Things I didn't like about the book:
  • Every so often (and this happens with every writer) I come across a bit of dialogue that I don't understand. I sit there and reread it. Reread the paragraph and try and puzzle it out. Now, that doesn't happen very often in this book. Really, to me it was just the last line of the book. I'm not sure what was meant by it and felt a tiny bit cheated.
  • Also, when the main characters discover something of importance regarding one of their teachers at school (I don't think this is a spoiler...) they seem to accept it a bit too easily for me. Just saying.
But that's it. I kinda adore this book and would seriously start rereading it right now if there wasn't a small colony of unread books on my bookshelf. 

I highly recommend this book. And if you want to purchase a hard copy of it go here. It's an independent bookstore that works closely with Maggie. So much so that you can order signed copies of her books for the same price that you would pay at Barnes and Nobel or Amazon. SIGNED COPY! And, you'd be supporting an independent bookstore. So, why would you not get it from there?

Lastly, here is the book trailer that Maggie made herself. That's right. She did the art. She did the music. She pretty much did it all. She's pretty much some kind of writing superhero... Anyway, to finish up this post, I'm going to go on record and say that she has now filled out my TOP FIVE FAVORITE AUTHORS - and I plan on reading everything she's ever written.


Monday, October 1, 2012

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

Well, I have been working on my thesis. If you follow my blog at all, you know this. I thought I'd post an update on how things were going, but then I had a better idea.

I'll let the pictures do the talking....

Feel free to take the pictures and post them on your own blog if you want to. Just leave me a comment with a link so I can check them out!

Sometimes it make me feel frustrated other times it makes me feel SUPER AWESOME -Take the picture how you will

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

My friend LHughes practically forced me to read this book she loved it so much. Not that I wouldn't have read it on my own (eventually), but she sped the process up. While we were at school, she drove me to the bookstore, marched me in, and bought the paperback version of Daughter of Smoke and Bone before shoving it into my hands.

It wasn't that I didn't want to read it right away, I did, but I was in the middle of The Night Circus and couldn't put that down.

Well, I finally read this book.

And I am so glad that I did! It was so beautifully written. Her description is so vivid and unique. I almost wanted to go through as I was reading and take notes on the way she described things in new ways so that I could use it in my own writing. Not like, copy and paste what she said, but hopefully be influenced by it.

The novel takes place, mostly, in Prague. And while it's an amazing setting and Taylor uses it well, it's not overwhelming. I am lucky enough to have spent some time in Prague (just a few days) and I think that she does a fantastic job of setting the piece in a foreign city, but not making the reader feel left out if they've never been there themselves.

Okay, so what is it about? I can't tell you too much without spoiling the entire book, but I will tell you what I can. Karou is the main character of the novel. She is a mystery even to her self. She has been raised by a (for lack of a better phrase) family of monsters, but has no real knowledge of where she comes from. Who her parents are. Or where she got these unique eye tattoos on the palm of her hands. She exists between two words, the word of her monsters shop where they trade wishes for teeth, and the human world of Prague. Suddenly, black handprints are burned into doors all over the world, and Karou's family is threatened.

Taylor does an amazing job of world building here. Not only does she make the places in the human world so real and vibrant I'm convinced that she's spent many a vacation in both Prague and Morocco (a place where she runs errands for Brimstone, her foster father/ Wishmonger) AND this "Elsewhere" she's created.

So there was only two things that bothered me.

  1.  And this would totally ruin everything for you so I'll be vague, is when you discover who Karou really is. I felt it was just a bit easy at first. Not the discovery, but who she is. 
  2.  Sometimes Taylor's sentence structure bothered me. I'm not usually one that pay attention to that sort of thing, but after about 2/3s of the book it was really popping out at me. She has this habit of doing this: Original thought, side note on something that pertains to the first part of the sentence but goes on for a bit, return to original thought. The only reason this bothered me was that I found myself forgetting how the sentence started and had to go back and reread the first half to figure out what the last bit what saying. 
Now, here's the fun part. The sequel, Days of Blood and Starlight, comes out November 6th. So you totally have time to get out there and buy Daughter of Smoke and Bone and read it. Which you should do. Don't trust me? Check out LHughes' review here.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Children and Thesis Writing



I don't have any, but that doesn't stop people from asking me (whenever I feel tired) "Oh, do you think your pregnant?" I suppose that question is fair game now that I'm married. 

However the answer is always, "No."

But that doesn't mean I don't have a child... of sorts. 

I have a thesis. 

I've seen posts and things where people compare writing a novel to a bad relationship. I'm sure I've even done it myself.

But right now, I think my thesis writing (which IS writing a novel) is a bit more like having a baby. Disclaimer: I've never had a baby therefore my comparison is biased/uninformed. But here we go anyway.

How my thesis is like a baby...
  • It keeps me up at night
  • I have to check on it every few hours to make sure it's okay
  • I don't like leaving the house without it. What if it needs me while I'm gone?
  • It needs to be looked after, and worked on, ALL THE TIME
  • I can't really think of anything else
  • Mostly, it's the only thing people ask me about anymore
  • I love it
  • And kind-a wish I could give it to a baby(thesis)sitter for just a few hours so I could relax and just not worry about it
  • It keeps me from my housework 
  • I tend to forget why I walked into a certain room because I'm too busy pondering what the thesis may need next
  • I've put so much of myself into it
  • Once you start it your life will NEVER be the same
  • You really don't just have any "me time" anymore
  • It needs to be nurtured to grow
  • Really, it's the most ADORABLE thesis you've ever seen
  • It has a personality all of its own
  • Sometimes it does what it wants and just gets itself into trouble
  • Lastly, it consumes so much of my time/life/mind that I might be a little crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thesis writing has been WHY I've been so MIA for the past...forever. And will be, until this spring. I hope. That is my goal. 

So, until then expect sporadic and random updates. Many of which may focus around my thesis, because really, it's my life now.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review: The Night Circus

I fell in love with this book. If you are looking for something to read go out and buy this book. Right now.

Okay, maybe not right now, finish reading my blog post and then go and get it. Or download it.

I found this book to be such a delight. There are some books, The Hunger Games series comes to mind, where you can't put the book down. You gobble the books up one after another. You would rather read than sleep. It consumes you. Some people think that that talent of making the reader turn the page again and again is a quality of a great writer. And it is. As a writer you want the reader to keep going. But I don't think that that makes a good book. You want the readers to savor the book as well.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a book worth savoring. Morgenstern has created a world that is so real and vibrant that you just want the circus to be real. If you are of the Harry Potter persuasion, it's like that desire to open your mailbox one day and find your letter from Hogwarts. You want to wander through the black and white striped tents and experience it all.

I would recommend this book for older YA, adult readers, and adult readers that enjoy YA. The main characters are in their upper teens and early twenties. The romance is intense and tastefully done. Yes, there is a sex scene, but if you ask me Breaking Dawn is more pornographic than this.

One thing that I didn't really like about this book was how each chapter started with a date and a place. Usually I don't mind these place markers in books, and they are needed  in this book as well, but it got me too focused on the year and how old the characters are. So, if you do go read this book (which you need to) just be aware of the two different timelines. There is the one with Marco and Celia and then there is Bailey and his plot line. Just be aware to keep those two plot lines straight and the other dates don't really matter.

So all in all. This is a MUST READ! Highly recommend! So, why are you just sitting there? Go! BUY IT NOW! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Revision is a New Form of Hell...

Well, my plan has been to work on writing the last few chapters of the novel and revise the earlier chapters at the same time. You know, one day writing, one day revision, and so on. 


That plan didn't really work out. I am making progress, however; it is not as quick as I would like for it to be. 

Writing the climax of my novel is really intimidating. It's like, it's been in my head for so long, it's what I've been working toward, and what if it doesn't come across as well on paper? What if I fail at delivering? It's what the readers has invested their time in reading the novel for. 

So there's that lovely little rain cloud hanging over my head.

Then, there's the revision.

Yes, I have revised things before. How can I be in a writing program and not have done it. However, this time it seems different. Reading Chapter One and getting ready to revise it was just depressing. I looked at it and was like, "Shit, I'm going to have to rewrite the whole damn thing." This is such crap! 

Then I took a break and literally stared at the hard-copy pages I printed out. I thought about things. About revision, about how to crawl inside of something and make it all better but not waste all the words and work you've already put into it.

After that, I put my little bird on my computer screen and went to work.

It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It really was like I could climb into the chapter and fix it. I cut pages and saved paragraphs. I shuffled things around and rewrote big chunks. What I found was, it was fun. I have a better handle on my characters now than I did when I started this years ago. I know who they are, how they talk, and how they react to thing. Even better, I know how to fold description into the story and eliminate huge paragraphs that are all telling and no showing. I know the weight of one perfect word over half a page of the almost right words. 

It is a slow process. In a way it's daunting and hellish, I wonder if I'll ever get it done

But, I just have to keep going. One page of revision at a time and writing one sentence at a time. 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Back to Reality

Yes, I lied.

I said that I would post (not regularly, but post none-the-less) this summer. Well, I didn't. Sure, I posted a bit, but not enough to count.

I was super busy! This was my last summer to be on campus during my program and I wanted to make it count. And did I ever. I made tons of new friends, got lots of writing done, fell back in love with my novel/WIP/thesis, AND came to terms with the fact that I am a good writer.

For such a long time I felt like I wasn't good enough. That the words that I put done on the page were just awful and that I'd never get a book deal. 

Well, I don't feel that now. I reread a lot of my older stuff, stuff I typed up three months ago and with each key stroke would think, "This is shit. This is total and complete shit, but just get it on the page and then you can revise." I don't think that anymore. 

I need to believe in myself, because if I don't then who the hell is going to? Yes, my super-amazing husband will always believe in me, and so will my family, but that is only enough when you believe in yourself. 

I'm stepping off of my soapbox now. 

Goals for this new "year." I say year because by this time next year I will (hopefully) have my thesis done and will be looking for agents/ editors. Well, let me rephrase... Goal for this year. Work on my thesis/novel (it's one in the same now) for AT LEAST one hour each day. I need to do that to get the last few chapter written and then begin the revision process before sending the revised chapters to my thesis advisor for notes and even more revision.

But it's so exciting! There is an end in sight! I will have this  novel done soon, and before you know it you will be seeing it on the bookshelves at bookstores. Mark my words. I will continue to make salads and whatnot to help my husband with the finances but also so that I can focus on my work.

From here on out, my real job is my novel. My hobby is going and making money. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ponderings on Magical Realism

Well, its been awhile.

School has just been blowing by so fast! Hence the lack of posting... 

Anyway, as promised, I thought I'd share what I've been learning in my classes. Today's subject is magical realism.

What is magical realism?

That's a very good question, and I've discovered that the answer kind of changes depending on who you ask. But, you've asked me. So here's what I've gathered my class focusing on the genre in Children's and YA literature. 

The term stared with the South American Writers, and they're also the ones that popularized it, but they didn't really begin the genre and it's not limited to them. 

A magical realism text is a book in which fantastic events are included in the text that otherwise maintains a realistic narrative. No one is surprised by these events/ fantastic elements and they are accepted without questions - maybe a bit of marveling. OKAY. In other-words, it mixes magic with the mundane. These magical events/ elements help the characters (and reader) examine the realistic elements of the story through a different lens. For example: (The Unicorn in the Garden by James Thurber) the appearance of a unicorn in a man's garden highlights the problems in his marriage and then the man and his wife get a divorce. Without the unicorn in the garden, the man might never have noticed the things that were wrong with his marriage. 

You might be saying, "Hey, this sounds a lot like fantasy. What's the difference?"

I'm so glad that you asked. Because I do have an answer to that.

In magical realism these fantastic elements are generally limited to one kind of magic or are somehow related. The magic tends to be localized - the entire world isn't magic, it's the regular mundane world and then there just happens to be a talking elephant. Or a unicorn. Or a yard gnome that's actually a Norse god. 

Also, in magical realism, the story is not littered with tons of magical objects or creatures. The woods aren't filled with pixies, elves, and there aren't any knights that wield magic swords and have enchanted shields. Lastly, the narrator is just a regular ole' human being. 

So here are some magical realism devices:

  • Multiple planes of reality: Things/ people can experience realistic events simultaneously in the same place but different times, or vice versa. Being in two places at the same time. Confused? Think about Cameron in Going Bovine and how he's both in the hospital and galavanting around the country 
  • Metafiction: Where a fictitious reader enters into a story within a story or where the textual world enters into our world. 
  • Inanimate objects may be "alive"
  • "Mythical" creatures may appear but not as a normal creature of the place. So - not Harry Potter where they roam the forest.       
Well, that's the best that I've got on the subject. I think that magical realism is this kind of thing where you can read a story and say "oh, yeah, this is magical realism" or "dear, God. This is sooo not it." But it tends to be harder to define. 

Granted, I can't take credit for all these notes. I got them from my class. Which, has turned out to be an amazingly fun class. Woo!

Now, hasn't this post been worth waiting for?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Update from Grad School


Things have been cray up here. I have been working hard on my WIP in my tutorial class and working on some short stories in my Magical Realism class....

I'm excited about tutorial today. It'll be the first time chapter 7 gets a good and intense critiquing. I've been going through and re-reading my WIP, getting chapters ready for class, and I've fallen back in love with this story again. Which is AWESOME! It's awful to fall out of love with your WIP... But sometimes I think that's just the nature of the writer/story relationship. We spend too much time together and get sick of one another (this happened to me and my best friend at camp quiet often) and then we start talking to one another again and realize why we enjoyed each other the first time around.

Let's see... Also, I am working on a presentation on how to make a believable antagonist. I'm kind of having a ton of fun with it. The teacher encouraged us to be as creative with these presentations as we want. So mine is involving a handout that looks like a recipe and bars of dark chocolate with quotes about villains on them. Kapow! I'm stoked. I present next week and will share my research here. 

In Magical Realism we've mostly been talking about the books we've read for the class and looking at how the writer does what they do within the story. You may be asking yourself, "What is magical realism?" Well, that is a whole different post entirely. I promise I will try and be better about posting while I am at school... 

I did write my first magical realism story and I'm debating if I'll post it here. I might post a bit to give you a taste. I will tell you it involves the Berlin Wall and I've been having a fun time researching life in East Germany. 

Not that I want to live in the former GDR, but it's cool to learn about a life so different from my own. I mean, they didn't have bananas. I don't even like bananas, but still. It was like they were super intense about the equality of all men that if everyone couldn't have bananas then NO ONE COULD. 

On top of that I've been missing the Husband super much. It's like when you get your wisdom teeth removed. There's this big hole that is this dull pain kind-a all the time, and then you poke it and it's super tender and hurts even more. BUT! I think he's going to visit soon and that would rock soooo much! The only thing that keeps my graduate program from being paradise is that he's not here with me. 

So there's my update! I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post, but I'll make sure to do it once a week! Come back next time for thoughts on Magical Realism.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Return To Grad School

Well, today is the first "official" day back at school.

But really it's just orientation.

I all have of info for my classes and already I feel overwhelmed. 

In my tutorial class (the one where we work on our future thesis - and since we're creative writing people it's like novels or collections of picture books) we have to submit up to 20 pages a week! I think I knew this going into it, but chose to block it out of my mind. I mean, really that's like a chapter a week of my WIP... but still, seeing that number on the page is just intimidating. Then we'll also have these presentations on some aspect of the craft... I did one in my first tutorial (last fall) on when to show and when to tell. Check it out here. This one I'll be looking on what makes a realistic villain in fiction. So, keep you eyes peeled for that. 

I'm not sure how stressful the other class, my Magical Realism class, is going to be. But the thing is... This is the 3rd summer that I've come to this program. I remember it being hard but I always get through it. Then I get up here and realize (again) just how demanding it's going to be. However, having a support group of other writers, other students helps, and Husband (who is far to far away at this point) is what makes all the difference. 

Here is a conversation I had with my father my first summer:

"Dad, I want to come home. I don't think I can do this any more."

"Is it because you don't think it's your calling in life? Or is it just too hard?"


"It's too hard...."

"Then no. You're not allowed to come home."

And this is how I feel every summer. HOWEVER, it is totally worth it. I'm a better writer for it. 

Whoever thinks that writing is easy is a moron.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Whew! Well, sorry I've been all MIA as of recent. There's been a lot going on in the real world. I leave for my graduate program (6 week summer term) the day after tomorrow. I had my last day at work and have been trying to get things in order.

This is the way I wish my packing could go...

However.... That is not the case. 

Anyway, all of this being said, I will not be posting as regularly for the next few weeks. But never fear! I will be posting lots of fun, new, writing adventures, advice and fun.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Review! Black Heart

It's here. Black Heart. Well, it's been here actually, but I just finished reading it. The final book in the Curse Worker series by Holly Black (check out the series webpage by clicking the link). If you haven't read this series, but are familiair with Black's other work (the modern faerie tales and The Spiderwick Chronicles) this is in a different vein. Yes, there it magic. But there aren't any faeries.

This series is still dark and grungy, like the modern faerie tales (TitheValiant and Ironside) but this series focuses on crime families and how certain people are workers.

What's a worker? It's someone who is gifted with a different kind of magic. There are emotion, luck, physical, memory, dream, death and transformation workers. With a touch of a hand against bare skin one of these people can manipulate you in various ways.

Okay, I'm going to stop there with all the background information. I'm not trying to review the entire series, just the last book. However, I will give my feelings on the previous two books. White Cat, the first book, I loved it. It's a retelling of a not-so-well-known fairy tale by the same name. I thought that the retelling was so awesome and imaginative. Then Red Glove, the second book, kind of let me down. It was good, but I didn't love it. This last book however, made the series.

I remember starting this book thinking that there's no way that this book will have both a satisfactory ending and end happy. I won't give anything away, but I was wrong. Sure, there are some loose strings at the end of the book, but life never ties up in a happy little bow so why should a book?

I love the narrator, Cassel Sharpe. He is so kind, clever, and criminal. He's been raised in a family of criminals and con artists. He's such a strong character. He always wants to do the right thing, but that tends to be the illegal thing. He's stuck between choosing his family or the feds. His brother's have screwed him over time and time again, but they are family. Also, he's in love the the head of a crime family's daughter. What's a poor boy to do? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? In the course of this book Cassel discovers that life isn't as black and white as he thought it was. There's a lot more grey area. 

I also love all of the crime family stuff that Black has worked into this book. It's obvious that she did a lot of research (or you know, was raised in a crime family but I'm pretty sure it's just research). However, the great thing is that you don't get lots of info dumps. She weaves the research in so it really seems like its second nature.

One thing I didn't like about this book was that there was a secondary plot involving a student at Cassel's school and blackmail. It just seemed a bit unnecessary and while it didn't really take away from the overall plot, I felt that it didn't really enhance it.  

I feel as if this book got me to love this series again. If you like dark magic, love, cons, and moral dilemmas. I would totally recommend this book. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Inspirational Images

Here are some fun images that, will hopefully, inspire you to keep at it. I know whenever I hit a wall, I make one of these the background on my computer and bust on through... 

Sometimes I kinda wish I could have a video clip of Christian Bale in all his Batman glory saying this to me in his Batman voice. I think that could scare some creativity into me.

I found this (I forget where... I'm pretty sure from Chuck Wendig's blog) and I just love it. Granted I am the Queen of my story... Not king...

Love this image? Why not copy my html code and have it as a badge on your blog/ webpage?
I think you should :-)

I want this on a print, framed, and hanging above my desk...

Yeah, I want this on a print as well for above my desk....

However, my Husband and parents may tell you otherwise. Books are my crack.