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