Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season...or is having a wonderful season. Whichever way you want to spin it. My holiday season is hardly over. Sure, Christmas has come and gone. But that was only Christmas #1 for me. Christmas #2 falls on New Year's Eve this year. Christmas #2 is when my mom's side of the family gets together for their holiday celebrations. We exchange gifts. We eat rich food. It's all very fancy (sometimes, when EVERYONE is present for the Dudley Family Christmas Party, we'll take a large family picture. The last one was taken two years ago, because that was the last time my cousins were able to make it from Chicago).

And then I have Christmas #3. Sort of. That's also on New Year's Eve, but that one is ALWAYS on New Year's Eve. That's my Christmas party with my friends. Sort of. Because we also combine it with New Year's Eve stuff, it's only Christmas-related for all of an hour (which is when we get bored with unwrapping shiny things and return to our on-going game of Apples to Apples). That party is a Secret Santa one. I bought my person's gift several weeks ago. Since then it's pretty much been gathering dust in my room. Eventually I'll wrap it.

I'll let you know for sure, once all the gift-giving stuff is over, but this year is turning into something of a re-creation of a Christmas I had about ten years ago. That was when I had just fallen in love with Harry Potter. I have a picture from that with all my Harry Potter stuff. A t-shirt, a magnet, a trivia game...some other things too that I can't currently remember. I need to find that picture again, because I might need to re-create it. So far I've gotten the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, ultimate edition DVD of Sorcerer's Stone, and a Deathly Hallows wall calendar. My nerdliness makes me very happy.

It's also a Christmas of YA novels. So far I've gotten The Hollow and The Haunted by Jessica Verday, as well as Looking for Alaska by John Green. I'm stocking up on some favorite books, essentially, because when I finally move out I want to have my own little library in my room. I don't have room for it now, because I refuse to buy another huge bookcase until I know what kind of living situation I'll be going to.

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday season. Have a safe and happy New Year, in case I don't post again before that!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Being Inspired...

Apparently, my mind needed a bit of a writing vacation. I think that's why I've been in a slump for the weeks since NaNo ended.

I mean, it's kind of understandable.

In October, I was desperately trying to finish Call to Action before NaNo began. I succeeded. I finished the first draft mere hours before ringing in November. I celebrated by getting some Menchie's Frozen Yogurt. And then I returned home to count down to midnight.

Midnight hit. I started writing again. Frantically. I was desperate to win NaNo a second year in a row. I succeeded.

And then I started editing Call to Action.

Frankly, I think my brain was screaming at me to JUST STOP IT, ALREADY!

This past week, I was a little concerned as to why I haven't been able to sit down and start working on Book 2 of Care's saga. The sequel to Call to Action. My first attempt at what might possibly be a trilogy. I was worried that I'd burned myself out. I was worried that I was too scared. I was worried that I would forget something significant that happened at the end of Call to Action, since I'm still trying to read through that mess.

In truth, I'm realizing now that I think I just needed a break. I needed a couple weeks of NOT writing in order to get writing again. I needed a short time to just focus on making Call to Action less of a disaster. I needed to get some pleasure reading done and step away from the writing marathon that my life has been over the last two months. I think the break worked. Over the last couple days, I've felt excited about starting a new story. I've felt ready to begin work on the continuation of Care's story.

At work for the last few days, I've been listening to my Book 2 playlist on shuffle on my iPod. One song in particular has been inspirational for me to get in the right mindset. It's a song that I didn't have when I was working on Call to Action, but I wish I had. It's from Scott Alan's newest CD (it's the hidden track), which wasn't released until I was already done writing that first draft.

I wanted to share it with you, since it's been on my mind. Hopefully, this inspiration will stick around for a while longer and I'll actually get down to writing within the next couple days.


Monday, December 6, 2010

A new vlog post...about my vampires

Ever heard of the musical [title of show]? If not...shame on you. It's wonderful. You need to get on that. If you're a creative person at all, you would probably love it. It's all about the creative process and the problems that come with it.

So for this week's Wo-Town Writers vlog post...since it's free week and we're getting to do whatever we want...I decided to talk about how I relate to the [title of show] song "Die Vampire, Die." It's kind of my theme song, especially when I'm starting new projects or editing finished ones.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNo Reflections

Here we are. November is over. Another National Novel Writing Month has come and gone. Somehow, I survived. Even more than that--I won for my second year in a row!

It feels good. It feels incredibly surprising as well. If I'm going to be honest, I wasn't entirely sure I would be able to pull off 50k in 30 days this year. Sure, I was psyched. And of course I was going to try. But...the thing is...this is the first year I've held a full-time job at the same time as attempting NaNoWriMo. The five years I participated while being a full-time student, I managed to fail every year. NaNo 2009 was something of a luxury in my eyes--while it sucked that I didn't have a job, I could focus all my energy on that 50k finish line. My confidence was a little down at the beginning of November this year, because I could only think about those five years when I was a full-time student and failed miserably because I didn't have the time and the energy to put into such intense writing.

Color me surprised when it turned out to be a little easier than I originally thought it would.

The first important thing I learned--just focus on that 1667 words per day quota. Yeah, I knew this from other years. It's preached around every corner in the weeks leading up to NaNo and throughout the month as well. Anyone who's participated can rattle of that you just need 1667 words a day in order to reach the 50k at the end of thirty days. Hell, even I've rattled off that information. I had three mentees this year and I told them this about a thousand times before November started. Still, it was something I needed to remind myself several times. If I could just get those 1667 words a day, then I was fine. If I happened to get more than that, then I was golden.

The second important thing--it's okay to fail. I'm not even talking about the general sucktitude of the story itself (and my novel from this November has a pretty grand level of suck). I even embrace the sucktitude of the NaNo novel first draft. It's part of the fun...just shutting up that stupid inner editor that is perpetually running its mouth in my head and writing whatever happens to come to mind. No, I'm talking about the failers of the actually daily word counts. The fancy stats page on each user's profile on the NaNo site this year showed more info than usual. At the beginning of the month, I somehow managed to convince myself that I would have the perfect November, where I would be at least on quota every day. I never wanted to see those stats fall below the set goals on my page.

This, my friends, was just stupid.

It's okay to fail. I realized this by about week 2, when the struggles started. When the Harry Potter movie came out and one of my best friends from college came into town for the midnight release and I didn't get any writing done for three days, that's when it really mattered. It was okay that I didn't have the "perfect" November stats-wise. The end goal was the important thing, and I accomplished that two days ahead of schedule.

The third important thing--family drama is a great time to write. A story: I went to Hamburg, NY for Thanksgiving. Stayed with the grandparents. Ate at the aunt and uncle's. Spent six hours both ways in the car with my parents and sister. I love my family. I do. But we're really good at the drama. With the exception of my step-grandmother, I'm the only liberal democrat in the entire family. My step-grandmother is far more left-wing and vocal than I am (which might seem impossible, but it's true). Some of my other relations are incredibly far right-wing. When the drama started or the politics were brought up, that in particular was when I opened my laptop. Ignored my family. As soon as all that started, it was time to write.

I got a lot written over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Now it's back to the real world. I have a first draft of a project I finished in October (but started writing mid-summer) that I'm about to do my first round of edits and revisions on before begging friends to read through it too. I have another novel to start--the sequel to the one I'm about to start editing, actually. I'm getting back on the agent query train for the one I started sending out earlier this year. The novel I wrote this November is going to be put in its little drawer, along with all my other NaNo novels, both completed and otherwise. Maybe someday I'll take it back out to make it look less pitiful, but for now we need some distance from each other. It was fun, but now my energy needs to go elsewhere.

Farewell, NaNoWriMo. I'll see you next year.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010...Week 1

Well, folks. Here we are. The end of the first week of National Novel Writing Month 2010. So far, I've managed to keep on track. I've gotten into the habit of not allowing myself to go to bed until I have my daily quota--which has, unfortunately, resulted in some sleep deprivation throughout the week days. Ah, well...that is NaNo.

At this point in the month, I'm at the confusing love-hate, don't-really-know-where-this-is-going, I-feel-rambly juncture in my novel. I've discovered my main character thinks more than she talks, which is an interesting new challenge, because normally I feel like I'm heavy on the dialogue. I'm not at all surprised that one of my MC's siblings came out as the uncensored, mouthy personality within the first three sentences--it seems like all my MCs in all my various novels have at least one sibling with this type of personality.

My current challenge, story-wise, is that I've never written a novel that's split into different parts. I don't know how long I want each part to be. I feel like the first part is going to be too short, but at the same time, I'm worried the first part will be too rambly.

This afternoon, I plan to get ahead on my word count, so I don't have to stress about it so much in Week 2, which is a notoriously painful week for NaNo participants. I'm going to the Columbus region write-in at Panera today. A good three or four hours of focus will help me a lot.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

6 days until NaNoWriMo 2010 usual...I have failed on an epic scale with posting my thoughts this October. I fully intended to. I wanted to show, step-by-step, my pre-NaNo planning. I wanted to ramble about how the finishing-the-first-draft-of-the-current-project was going. I wanted to do all of this.

Ah, well. The best laid plans and all that.

We are now under a week until November 1 and the start of National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo never ceases to bring me great excitement. This will be my seventh year, and I'm just as excited about doing it as I've been in previous years. One of my friends from dance class pointed out last night that I write a novel every month, so what's the deal?

Now, granted, she said this in jest. But it got me thinking.

First of all...I don't write a novel every month. I write every month, yes. I'm working on novels in an almost perpetual way. But I do not normally write one novel in one month. Typically, one first draft will take me a couple months (sometimes more, depending on life). So there's something exciting about challenging myself even further to sit my butt down in the chair and get that 1667-word quota for every day. There's something exciting about making the internal editor shut up for once and just write (my internal editor is a real pain most of the time).

But here's the other reason why NaNo still brings me great excitement: the community. Half of the fun is the community of Wrimos (the term for NaNo participants) from around the world. The NaNo message boards remain the one place on the internet where people post in complete, grammatically correct sentences. This community thrives off of jokes that make the rest of the world raise their eyebrows--plot bunnies, Traveling Shovel of Death, writing dares, and everything in between. As soon as October starts, this community jumps into action with amazing energy. Once November hits, this community becomes a place of comfort and procrastination and cheerleaders.

This is a community that encourages NaNo veterans to mentor Newbies. I have three Newbies this year who adopted me as their mentor. I am honored by this. I'm honored that these three Newbies chose me to help them through their first National Novel Writing Month.

This is a community that, when people meet in the real world, it's like we've known each other forever. I went to the Columbus Region's kick-off party last weekend. We all started throwing around inside jokes almost immediately. Everyone was welcoming. The energy was contagious.

This is what NaNoWriMo is to me. It's mostly about the writing, but that's not everything. I could do the 50k-in-30-days thing any time I want, but I choose to do it with the community. The writing is what makes the event, but the community is what makes it special.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week Five: Walk Dogs

This week for the Wo-Town Writers vlog, we're talking about how we got started writing. So listen to me ramble on for a while about my writerly history.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Let the countdown begin!

Friday was a very important day. It was October 1. That can only mean one thing...

We're officially under one month from National Novel Writing Month!

I love NaNoWriMo. It's my Christmas (and Christmas is my favorite holiday, so you KNOW I mean business when I say that). This will be my seventh year participating. Many of those years were such epic fails that it's humiliating, but last year I finally crossed that 50k finish line to win.

The first year I participated was 2004, the November of my senior year of high school. My first NaNo novel was a ridiculous piece of fiction about a bunch of kids in the marching band. All the characters were very solidly based off of my fellow band geeks. Everyone got really into it--everyone who had a character in the story bugged me about it for the whole month and beyond. It was great fun, but I didn't win. In fact, when I finally did finish the story, the whole thing only clocked in at about 25k. Fail.

Over the years, I've learned two important lessons to success. First of all, you have to be actually excited and invested in your story. It's been the years that I was actually interested in what I was writing that I made a decent dent. The years when I just didn't care that much, I would only write a couple thousand words for the whole month. The other thing I've learned is that you need to have a story that you can actually pull out to 50k.

That first attempt in November 2004 was clearly not a story I could stretch to 50k, seeing as how the finished product was half that. I have no idea if the other years I could have stretched, because most of the time, I wasn't fully excited about the story anyway.

Then, last year, I had a story I was psyched about and was pretty sure I could pull to 50k. Granted, I also had a lot of unemployment-induced free time and a diet that I needed to distract myself from, but those were just extra helps. And I won! And I was excited and ran around and scared people by my enthusiasm and I printed my certificate and bought a winner's shirt and stared at the pretty purple WINNER bar on my NaNo profile for a year.

This year is going to be interesting. I have a story I'm really excited for and looks like I can make into at least 50k. On the other hand, I also have a full-time job and limited free time when I'm not working (between working out and various appointments and my freelance job and my activities). Last year was a walk in the park with the free time. This year is going to be a real challenge.

I'm going to try to post updates on here. If I remember. And we all know how much I fail with that from time to time.

Yay NaNoWriMo!!! <3

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Meaningful Bookstore Chatting

I apologize for the epic fail that was my posting some entries throughout Banned Books Week. I had this whole thing thought out and I was going to be like "here's a's why it was why that's a stupid reason," but life got in the way. Stupid life. And now I'm tired.

However, I feel like I kind of made up for it last night with my friends. You see, a handful of us went to Border's last night and milled around there for TWO HOURS (we went because one of my friends' brothers just published HIS first book and was having a signing, so we were being supportive) and we ended up back in the YA area. If you watch the Wo-Town Writers vlog I post on Mondays, you'll know these people too--three of the other four girls who vlog with me throughout the week...Jessi (whose brother is now an UBER-FAMOUS author because I have a signed copy of his book and I say so), Janet, and Caitlin. So we geeked out for a while and threw book recommendations at each other like the Apocolypse will be here tomorrow and then things took a turn for the serious.

I don't remember what started it. We may have been talking about each other's videos from last week or the fact that our other friend and fellow vlogger, Emily, almost made us all cry with her video, or perhaps it was when Caitlin started weilding around YA books that have been banned for stupid reasons. Whatever it was, we started ranting and debating and meaningfully chatting with each other about banned books and why those who ban them suck.

Here's the consensus we came to: people ban these YA books for reasons like violence or drugs or sex or language. When you ban books for reasons like that, you're just hiding the problem. You're just pretending the problem doesn't exist. But it DOES. Hiding the problem doesn't go away. Because, here's the the real world, violence and drugs and sex and foul language are EVERYWHERE. Hell, you can't turn on the news without having all of these make an appearance at least once. Last week, a family from my church was the lead story on the news at least once (probably more, but that's the only night I happened to have the news on when it started)--the dad freaked out, shot his two sons, shot himself, left a suicide note, and then his wife found them when she came home. TRAUMA much? These types of things are everywhere and it's not happy and it's not pretty, but we can't hide from it. All the kids in my church who knew the two boys are having to face this reality and it sounds like their parents are doing everything to shield them from it--the mother from this family wanted the children's choir to sing at the boys' memorial service, but the parents freaked out. I guess I can understand, because it's a horrible situation, but you can't keep that veil down forever.

It's the same thing with book banning and challenging. Parents read five sentences from a book or the synopsis online or see the cover or whatever and then subsequently shit a brick. NO! I don't want my child to know that there is violence in the world! There's no murder or rape or domestic abuse! No one drops the f-bomb or says terrible things! The world is a pretty, shiny place full of rainbows and butterflies and that's all I want my children to know!

But then these kids grow up and realize that it's NOT all rainbows and butterflies. They learn that bad things happen, or perhaps, god forbid, something bad happens to them. And because you banned [insert banned book here], your child can't know how to cope with that. Because you took Speak off the reading list at school, now your teenager doesn't know how to feel about the emotional effects of rape. Because you insisted that Harry Potter be removed from your library because it promotes Satanism (which is just crap on so many levels), your child can't read about all those deep, underlying messages of love and friendship and fighting for what's right. Because you took away Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, your pubescent girl can't know that those thoughts are normal and those questions are normal and wondering about what on EARTH is going on to your body right now is normal.

I am so thankful that my parents never restricted what I read. Never once did my mom see I was reading something and tell me I had to wait until I was older. Not once did my dad storm into my school or my library and say that they couldn't have this book on display because I might somehow get my hands on it. I read Harry Potter many times, and while my parents rolled their eyes and wondered how many times I could possibly read this series before I grew bored (answer: I have no idea, because I'm still not bored with it yet), they never thought I was going to want to do witchcraft. I read The Lovely Bones many times as well, and while my mom said I was morbid and couldn't understand why I love this book so much, she never said that I was going to scar myself for life. They let me make my own mistakes with my reading. One time, while we were at the library when I was younger, I somehow got my hands on a book about the Black Plague and proceeded to read it before we left (it was just a short book...with the older kids' area). I scarred myself. I locked myself in my room when we got home and didn't come out, nor did I say anything was wrong when my mom asked. But that was my own mistake to make and my parents always let me make them (with reading, at least). That book was way too old for me and far too graphic and I was traumatized for a few days, but there we are. I didn't read the book again.

I'm sure that book is still in the library, though, because my parents never challenged it or said it should be on a higher shelf.

The moral of this very long story can't shield your kids from the world. You can't assume that they are too young to handle the tough stuff and the deep emotions. They need to learn how to cope with these things now, they need to learn that what they feel is normal, and they need to understand how the world truly is. You're just hurting them more by hiding them from the books that would teach them these things.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Silent Vlog

...which is kind of like a silent movie...but not.

In honor of Banned Books Week, for my week four video for Wo-Town Writers, I give censors the silent treatment.

I plan to post some blogs right here throughout the course of this week as well, about the banned books that had a particular meaning to me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

See where I write!

This is my week three video from the Wo-Town Writers vlog, but it's also a fun opportunity for all of YOU guys to see the places where I write. It's all very exciting.

Catching up on sharing my vlog videos...

Fail. I was going to post them here as I posted them on YouTube and Facebook, but lo and behold, I have yet to do that. Other than Week One. I just recorded my video for Week FOUR.

This is the Week Two video, in which I ramble for a long time about my favorite novels through the years. I like books. I have a lot to say when it comes to books. What can I do?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's a process

Today I had an interesting conversation with one of my best friends. "Interesting" in that it annoyed me more than usual. And by "conversation" I mean it was only a few lines of exchange and then we both quickly moved on, because my friend isn't stupid and if I had continued talking I might have slapped her.

Me: My goal in life is to be able to make a living off of just writing.
Friend: How's that going for you?
*awkward silence*
Friend: *smirk*
Me: It's a process.
Friend: *smirk*
Me: Stop smirking.
Friend: *smirk*

Okay, first of all, I know very well that this particular conversation was my own fault, because I opened my big mouth. But what you have to understand is that I've been having battles along these same lines with this same friend for at least six years. And it's very draining.

This is my friend who informed me constantly in high school when I was looking at Creative Writing programs, then constantly in college when I was majoring in Creative Writing, all the way to now (read: she still does it) that majoring in English/Creative Writing is "majoring in unemployment." She shut up about it for a while when she left school, and then again when I pointed out that at least I HAVE a job of some sort (she's the unemployed one currently), but it's started up again ever since she went back to college to major in Accounting.

Here's the deal--majoring in Creative Writing is NOT majoring in unemployment. Nor is majoring in any of the arts. It annoys the living daylights out of me when people tell me things like that, like I was stupid because I chose to study something I'm passionate about instead of studying something only because it would make me a ton of money. I wasn't going to be one of those people. I wanted to study something I love and I was lucky enough that my parents fully supported that.

What really, really got under my skin during today's conversation with my friend was the fact that she had the audacity to smirk at me when I said that, as though that dream is completely implausible. Sure, not every writer can make a living only off of their writing. I get that. I'm not saying that it would be an easy choice to make or road to take or anything. I'm saying that, should things work out, should I find myself capable of living only off my novels, then I want to try. No, I haven't sold a novel yet, but who cares? It's hard. It takes time. Like I told my friend, it's a process.

For now, I'm happy with living off my day job and writing on my off-hours. But I'm a dreamer and a writer and I'm not about to let the disbelief of anyone in my life keep me from trying to achieve those dreams. I'm going to keep standing up for what I studied in school. I'm sick of people, particularly this one friend, being holier-than-thou because they're doing something like accounting and all I want to do is write. I'm going to keep doing what I love. For me, writing makes life worth living.

"Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write." ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Open Letter to Dr. Wesley Scroggins

(This is a response to the article that can be found here.)

Dear Dr. Scroggins,

You recently shared a letter on a Missouri news site regarding the reading material of your local school district. And I have one very simple question for you...

Why on earth do you care?

The books that you targeted in your article are books that have been in school libraries and on reading lists for years. High schoolers are much more mature than you give them credit for. They can handle profanity, they can handle the concept of sex, and they can handle reading about the difficult issues. In fact, it's good for them to read about the difficult issues.

I've never read Slaughterhouse Five, but I have read Speak. I honestly wonder if you actually did. Speak is about so much more than you reduce it to in your article. You essentially reduced this beautiful book to a story about a dysfunctional family, an inaccurate view of high school, and rape. First of all, in regards to the family and high school opinions in the story--the whole novel is set as a diary. Tell me, what teenage girl doesn't see her parents as dysfunctional at one time or another? What high schooler doesn't see the people around them as losers or very stereotypical?

In regards to the rape, though--the scene itself is hardly prominent enough in the text to be of concern. The story isn't about the rape. It isn't centered on the rape. It's about a scared, lonely high school freshman girl who had a horrific moment during her summer vacation and she copes with it by staying silent. She chooses not speaking over speaking up.

Right now...I'm speaking up against you.

Censorship is wrong. Keeping adolescents from this kind of material shows that you do not have faith in their ability to handle and/or appreciate it. It shows your own insecurities, your own need for control, and your own attempt to silence someone else.

People don't like to be silenced.

Teenagers don't like to be told what they can't do.

I know this because I'm a writer--and I refuse to be silenced. I know this because I went through those teenage years--and I never appreciated being told not to do something, particularly if it involved something I should be able to do freely (like reading a book).

Have a little faith in America's youth, sir. They're stronger than you believe them to be. They can grasp difficult concepts, they can appreciate difficult themes, and they like knowing they're not alone in the world. Somewhere in your school district, there could be a girl who is a rape victim. She could be unsure of how she should cope or what she should feel. If you keep her from Speak, she may never know.

Do you want to have that blame on your shoulders?

Think before you set accusations. And please, Dr. the book in its entirety before you burn it at the stake.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vlogging fun!

Exciting news! Four of my wonderful writing friends (Caitlin, Emily, Janet, and Jessi) and I have decided to start our own writing vlog! Random? Perhaps.

Anyway, here's the first video. I'll be posting on Mondays. This is my intro video. :)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

WIP theme song #1

I wanted to share one of the songs that has kind of become one of my current project's theme songs. I have many, many songs on the playlist for this WIP...but this (along with a few other songs) is one that ALWAYS puts me in the mindset of the story. So, please, enjoy. :)

I might be sharing more of the "theme songs" for this WIP down the road.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Separation makes the heart grow fonder

Here's something I learned five years ago when I started college--even though my sister Laura and I have been at each other's throats a good 90% of the time since she was born in 1991, when we no longer have to live together, a miracle happens. Suddenly...we get along.

We learned this the first time when I was a college freshman. I moved to college and only came home for weekends up until Thanksgiving break. During those months, Laura and I talked on AIM...and we actually didn't fight. And then I came home for a week at Thanksgiving and, suddenly, we wanted to kill each other again.

Moral of the story...when we have to live together for more than two straight days, death is a possibility.

Flash forward to now. I'm currently living with my parents and have been since I graduated from ONU a year and a half ago. That means Laura and I just had a straight year and a half of having to deal with each other. Good times? Most of the time...not so much.

As I said in my last post, Laura moved to college this past weekend. She's surviving band camp currently and learning fun little things such as the concept that college boys will do stupid things like running down an all-girl hallway at 11:30 at night and slam into doors. College is fun, isn't it?

In the last three days, Laura and I have talked more (and in a more civilized, friendly manner) than we have in the last year and a half. It's kind of funny. The miracle of not living together lives on.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

College and Wicked

For starters, yesterday I helped move my little sister to college. She's going to my (and our parents') alma mater--Ohio Northern. She's going to be a freshman. All day yesterday, I couldn't help remembering what it was like the first day I moved in my freshman year at ONU.

I lived in Founders Hall my freshman year, and that first quarter I lived in what was quite possibly the smallest room on the whole floor. Which kind of sucked. It is truly an art trying to fit everything someone owns into a room of that size. Laura (my sister) had to start learning this art yesterday as she moved into a room that was probably a good deal larger than what I originally had my freshman year--AND she has air conditioning. I didn't have air conditioning when I was a freshman. I lived in a room that was so freaking hot that we had the window open and a fan going during a mid-winter snow storm and it was still too hot. Life isn't fair.

Anyway, so we got Laura all moved in and on her collegiate way. She has band camp this week for marching band and then classes start after Labor Day. She and her roommate seem to get along really well...and they have all the same stuff. Weird. It's like they were separated at birth or something. She's in for a great four years there, I'm sure!

And then...

DAY 3-- Saturday
Tracy and I went back down to the Ohio Theatre to lotto the evening show for Wicked. This is closing weekend. The tour leaves after tonight. We got down there a little later than usual, because I left ONU a little later than I'd planned. There were significantly less people than the other two times we went this week, so that was nice. We also ran into a friend of ours from high school--a fellow band alum. So we got to visit with her and her dad and just hang out. It only took 15 minutes for the entire line to get through and put in their entries. Then we all just stood around waiting for 6pm.

Nothing too exciting happened at this lotto. We didn't win. We're not going today, because I'm dead tired from the moving adventures of yesterday and I have two weeks' worth of laundry to do.

Today...I also plan to revise my query letter. Not having much success (read: not having any success) with my current one. After I fix's on to round two of sending out queries to agents.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wicked Lotto attempts 1 and 2

I have a confession to make. a nerd.

Now, for most of you, that probably didn't come as much of a shock. Actually, I hope that didn't come as a shock for ANY of you, because I don't really try to hide my nerdiness. I have my nose in a book most of the time, or I'm staring at my computer screen writing a novel. I do things like watch YouTube videos of authors and laugh at stupid jokes. I go to midnight releases of all things Harry Potter (in costume). I do these kinds of things.

I also love theatre.

Now, the very first musical I fell completely and totally in love with...the musical that opened the gate for my love of all things Broadway and musical theatre...that was Wicked. To date, I've seen it five times. Two of those times were over the course of the last four weeks.

Like I said...nerdy. But I embrace it.

To add to my nerdiness, my friend Tracy and I are trying our hands (desperately) at winning lotto tickets for Wicked before it ends its tour stop here in Columbus on Sunday. I've wanted to try Wicked Lotto for a long time, but I've never really gotten the chance or had someone to buddy with for it. Because that's the thing...for lotto, you really need a buddy, so your chances are twice as good to get the tickets.

So, for your nerdy reading pleasure (because I know most of you are probably nerds too, if you read my blog) first two experiences with Wicked Lotto:

DAY 1 -- Tuesday
I beat Tracy to the lotto line, which was kind of impressive, seeing as how I had to swing by Borders first to buy Mockingjay. So...for a good twenty minutes I stood in line, reading Mockingjay, and eavesdropping on the conversations of my fellow lotto-ers. One girl standing near me had tried lotto all last week and never one. Most of the other people around me were thoroughly confused by the whole process. Some news anchor that I don't know from some news station I probably don't watch was the guest celebrity invited to pull lotto tickets. It saddens me just a little when a "celebrity" from Columbus consists of some obscure news dude. Whatever.

Tracy arrived just in time to join me in line (otherwise, she would have had to go to the end), we went into the lobby, filled out our entry forms, put them in the tumbler, got our hands stamped, and went back outside to mill with the other hopefuls. By the time 6pm rolled around, there were a good 100 people there. At least. At exactly 6pm, they pulled the table with the tumbler out onto the steps and started pulling names. The crowd applauded for the first few winners. We all stopped after that. There were 20 tickets to give away and most people had come with a buddy, so were asking for two tickets. That meant that only about 10 people were going to be pulled out of the tumbler.

When they were down to two tickets left, they announced that anyone who didn't win had the option to go to the box office, show their stamped hand, and get a random open seat for tonight's show for only $40, regardless of where in the theatre said seat may be located. Pretty good deal. People either got very antsy or very pessimistic, because half the crowd rushed to the box office door. Their mistake, because there were at least three people in that crowd whose names actually got called about five minutes after that. Sucks to be them.

We didn't win, so Tracy and I went home.

DAY 2-- Wednesday
I beat Tracy again, which was once again impressive since I came straight from a check-up at the doctor. Again, I stood in line reading Mockingjay. Again, there was an obscure celebrity to pull the names and read the instructions (an afternoon DJ from Sunny 95, which was at least mildly familiar to me...I know the radio station well...still have no idea who that woman was, though). Unlike Tuesday, though, all thoughts of decorum were lost. On Tuesday, there was a line. On Wednesday, there was a pushy-shovey blob. I love when 100 adults act like a bunch of pre-schoolers who all want to be the first one on the Merry-Go-Round. Classy.

Tracy and I actually got through the line (er...blob) faster than yesterday. We separated from the crowd (too claustrophobic), leaned against a nearby pillar, and read our respective the epic nerds we are. Again, 6pm came...the table and tumbler got pulled out, the names got read. This time, though, people were smarter and stuck around before fighting for the box office, so we didn't have to go through a bunch of extra names.

We didn't win again.

We're going to try again on Saturday.

Yay nerds!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The best Sunday ever!

I've been stressed out lately. I got really behind on sleep last week and felt like I could pass out at any moment all day at work on Friday (which was, you know, fun times...). The impending Dublin Irish Festival has been looming over me for the last few weeks (it's this weekend and consists of two public dance FIRST very PUBLIC dance well as my first shot at a dance competition). I'm back on the dreaded doctor-monitored liquid diet to get down to my GOAL WEIGHT (if I could make that in shiny gold letters, I totally would). I've been writing, but even the new novel can't always distract me from that knot in my stomach that always comes on when I think of either the Festival or my diet. Fun times.

So I feel like I deserved some serious escape time on Sunday.

Back story: Starting at my lunch break on Friday and through Saturday night, I read The Hunger Games. I'm behind the curve, apparently, because it took me this long to get around to it. I couldn't put it down. When I finished it late on Saturday night, I immediately was like "OMG I need to get Catching Fire NOW!" was midnight on Saturday night and most bookstores are kind of closed around that time. Bummer.

This is how I ended up with my escape on Sunday. Around noon I threw a load of laundry in the washer and dashed over to Borders. Milled around for a bit, because that's what I always have to do when I go in a bookstore. It doesn't take much for me to get distracted in the presence of so many books, so...bookstores...libraries...I can go in one of those and not leave for HOURS if I really wanted. But I was on a mission, so half an hour later I had Catching Fire in my hands.

As soon as I got home, I switched out the laundry, drank one of my diet shakes, and read the first few pages of the book. Love. For the next...oh...ten hours...I only emerged from my room to a) do laundry, b) get another shake, c) get some water, d) spontaneously check Facebook/email because god forbid I miss something important. For the most part, Catching Fire went with me on all of these adventures around the house. I finished the book late Sunday night. I forgot to vacuum. The parents displayed disappointment in my forgetfulness. I returned to my book (don't worry...I vacuumed this afternoon instead. We're good now).

Here's a little history lesson for you. The last time I finished a book that fast...that would be the first time I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and even that took me a good twenty-four hours (to be fair, though, Deathly Hallows is about five times longer than Catching Fire). It takes a special book for me to devote a whole day to it and finish it the same day I start it. Maybe it also takes me being a little overwhelmed with life to pull that off. Maybe it's a combination of both. Who knows? All I know is that Catching Fire was amazing. I need to read it again. I can't WAIT for the third book in that trilogy to come out later this month. I'm obsessed.

This week, I will be buying another book I'm very excited for--Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink...the second book of the Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy. That's another book I'll probably devour quickly. It's good that I have a ridiculous stack of to-be-read books in my room, thanks to a recent shopping spree at Half Priced Books, otherwise I don't know what I'd do after I finish all this amazingness.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My latest inspiration...

A few weeks ago, I was taking a walk. A nice long walk. In the ridiculous heat and humidity that Ohio's been experiencing lately (so I was using this walk not only as exercise, but to get used to being out in the heat and humidity for Dublin Irish Festival). As I usually do, I took my iPod along with me and I was listening to Smart Mouths, a podcast I've gotten rather obsessed with over the last few months. It makes me laugh and think and it's great to listen to while I'm at work.


I was listening to an old episode of Smart Mouths, because I was still trying to get caught up. They were talking about the earthquake in Haiti and what everyone was doing to help, how our generation is so into activism and isn't that great.

Then...bang. That one bit, just as I was turning the corner to go down another street...I got an idea. Really, the idea was kind of unrelated to Haiti (actually, ENTIRELY unrelated to Haiti), but fully related to the activism of my generation. Idea. Really exciting idea. As I normally do when I get really excited about a story idea, which hasn't happened in quite a while now, I started talking myself through narrative. A character popped into my head, a story, an attitude. By the time I got home...I was psyched. And anyone who had probably passed me during that last part of my walk probably thought I was insane, because I'm pretty sure I was actually mumbling to myself...lips moving and all.

Since then, I've written a good 6k of this new idea, most of that just over the last week or so (it took me a little while to get the ideas sorted out in a notebook). I'm REALLY excited about this idea. I haven't been this excited about a novel idea since I was writing Nor the Battle's sequel. I don't know why, but I couldn't really find that buzz again. I have now.

And, just for your listening pleasure, here's a bit of what Smart Mouths is like. There's probably a smidgen of language in this clip, because there almost always is, but I can't remember. This is from their YouTube account.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TDTL Day 30: Your Reflection in the Mirror

Well, look at that. Day 30. I can't believe this is the last letter. It's been quite the experience. I'm really glad I did this. It got me writing something on a daily basis. It got me thinking. And it got me posting on here regularly, which I'd been kind of failing at before.

So, without further ado...the final letter (it's kind of short...sorry).


Dear Reflection,

Look how far you've come since a year ago. I can't believe that just a year ago, there were 100 extra pounds on you. And in just a couple of months, you'll look even better. I'm so amazed when I look back at pictures of how you used to be.

Don't stop dreaming. Don't stop trying to reach your goals. If you can lose 100 pounds in a year, you can do anything. You can be happy with how you look. You can be the person you want to be. You can have the courage to put yourself out there. You can find love.

It's just a matter of time. Just you wait and see.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TDTL Day 29: The Person You Want to Tell Everything To, But Are Too Afraid To

Dear Person I Want to Tell Everything To,

There's something to be said for fear. Fear means hesitance. I think we're all afraid to say what we really think, because we don't want to hurt you (or, perhaps, we don't want to hurt ourselves, as the case may be). The sad thing is that you really don't notice anything. In all of this, you're pretty much blissfully unaware.

This makes it particularly difficult. Maybe if you truly noticed something, then I could really talk to you about it, because I wouldn't be so afraid of hurting you. I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to be the one who tells you the truth, the one who breaks the illusion. But out of all of us, I'm one of the ones most likely to want to clue you in. Which is quite the burden to bear.

Maybe someday down the road, I'll tell you. But for now, I like you best when you're unaware of all this. There's slightly less drama.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TDTL Day 28: Someone That Changed Your Life

Dear Brittney,

When I was in eighth grade, I had the honor of being chosen as part of the West Central Team. I knew it was going to be the experience of a lifetime. I knew it was going to change my life and my view of the world.

What I didn't fully expect was how attached I would grow to you. I knew I would be very fond of my buddy, but you were quite something else. You taught me more in that one year than I ever could have anticipated. Your smile brightened my day more than anyone else's ever could.

It never mattered that you couldn't talk--you communicated in a way all your own. I loved spending those days at the school just sitting with you, helping with your therapy. The day I remember most of all, though, was your class trip to the pumpkin patch. You rode on my lap during the hayride. You gave me the most brilliant smile that day. It was a bittersweet afternoon, because that was the same day I learned you'd be switching classes. I was heartbroken when I thought we'd be separated. But I got to switch with you in the end.

You probably don't know how much you meant to me--and still mean to me. You taught me how to be happy with the very simplest things in life--singing silly songs and rollar skating in a rink. Laughs shared on a playground. Playing with blocks and taking a hayride though a pumpkin patch. A smile. Even if you don't remember me, know that I remember you and still think about you. I know I always will.

Monday, July 12, 2010

TDTL Day 27: The Friendliest Person You Knew for Only One Day

Dear Girl from the Homeless Family,

Your family stayed a few days at our church once a few years ago, during the church shelter cycle. You probably are all on your feet by now, living a great life somewhere. I hope you are.

Anyway, one of the nights you guys were staying at the church, I was part of the youth group that was helping out. There were a few of us there that got to help entertain all you kids. Somehow, you and I ended up doing arts and crafts together with a few of the others. Which was fine by me, because I love arts and crafts. You made me smile--you were so cheerful and liked talking a lot. I had a lot of fun that evening hanging out with you and everyone else.

You crocheted a chain for me while trying to teach me how to crochet with no hook. I didn't learn how to do that, but I still have the chain hanging out my bulletin board. It meant a lot to me coming from you. I'll never forget how content you were with a life most would imagine as hell. You were content with the minimum, grateful to have a safe haven for that week and movies to watch and yarn with which to crochet.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

TDTL Day 26: The Last Person You Made a Pinky Promise To

Dear Heather,

I don't know you're actually the last person I made a pinky promise to, but I'm willing to make an educated guess that you were. You were my best friend right around that time that we would have been growing out of that particular ritual.

We--the whole group of us girls from that time--were big fans of secrets and promises. Not a bad thing. It amused us all at the time. But I wonder if all that dependancy on each other for those few years is why we so willingly grew apart in high school. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but I do wonder why we grow apart so effectively. Remember that little secret "club" we formed for the group in seventh grade? That cause more drama than good. I doubt it really had to do with the "club" exactly, but it made things about fifty times worse during disagreements. Ah, drama. Our group was so good at it back then.

TDTL Day 25: The Person You Know Is Going Through the Worst of Times

I promise I wrote this last night. But after the spontaneous roadtrip I took with a couple friends yesterday, I pretty much only had enough energy to scratch this down in my notebook before passing out.


Dear J,

I don't know you really as well as I should, considering we worked together for as long as we did. You've always seemed so quiet and reserved. That doesn't change how sorry I am about your mom, though. I was pretty shocked when I found out last week. That's a terrible situation to be in and I wish there was more we all could do for you.

This is really short, but I honestly don't know what to say. Your mom, you, and your whole family are in my thoughts and prayers. I know that's probably cold comfort, but it's all I can do. I hope things get better for all of you and that you can at least cherish the time you have together.

Friday, July 9, 2010

TDTL Day 24: The Person That Gave You Your Favorite Memory

Dear Fellow WKHS Bandies of the '01-'02 Season,

I'm such a band geek that I would choose this as my favorite memory. I admit that. But, seriously, the memory of that Bloom-Carroll contest just really can't be beat. It was the perfect addition to that amazing season.

I can still remember the feeling of standing off to the side with all of you before and during the awards presentation. At attention. It was our last chance to qualify for States that year. I remember how loudly we cheered with the other bands before the ceremony started. And then we just had to wait. We on one trophy, then another. We knew we'd gotten 1st Place AA about thirty seconds before they announced it simply by process of elimination. We could hardly stand still right then and at the same time we could hardly dare to believe it. And that was great. But then we won Grand Champion, making WKHS marching band history. We couldn't stop screaming. I think the only thing that made us scream louder was getting that One rating. I remember that all pretense of order was lost at that moment and we rushed the directors. I seem to recall blowing out my voice that night.

That was one of the most exciting moments of my four years in that band. I don't think I'll ever forget the nerves turning to excitement, the feeling that nothing could go wrong. No matter how hard we tried to recreate that moment over the years, nothing else came close.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

TDTL Day 23: The Last Person You Kissed

Dear D,

You were my first kiss. You were also my last kiss (romantic, I mean. I can't really remember which family member or very close friend I last simply kissed on the cheek in greeting or farewell or congratulations or any of that). That sounds really lame, because we broke up so long ago. You were also my last boyfriend. It was after you broke up with me that things started going a little downhill for me health-wise, although I didn't realize it until just a couple years ago. I just kind of gave up. I don't really think I really had a broken heart. I feel like I got over the initial sting too fast for it to be a legitimately broken heart. Maybe just a slightly cracked heart. Whatever happened, I just seemed to give up after you. It would probably take some painful talking/writing/therapy to really figure out the why and it just doesn't seem to matter as much anymore.

Perhaps I lost my confidence. I was never a huge instigator in romantic or potentially romantic relationships. You kissed me first, not the other way around. I don't remember who instigated the last kiss, but it was probably you too. Don't get me wrong, I've wanted to kiss other guys since you. I just feel stupid starting it. Who knows? Maybe now that I'm getting control of my life again I'll find someone else. Maybe my confidence will grow and I'll instigate something in a relationship for once. Whatever happens, thanks for being my first kiss. I just hope you're not also my last for much longer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

TDTL Day 22: Someone You Want to Give a Second Chance to

Dear J,

You might not believe this, because I don't think I ever told you, but there was a time when I kind of avoided hanging out with you alone. It wasn't that you weren't a great friend (you were one of my best and I was very sad when you moved away). It wasn't that I didn't like hanging out with you at all. I did. It was just usually better if there were others around.

The reason why this was might seem stupid, so here goes. You always invited yourself over, which was annoying. We always had to play with the dollhouse, which felt silly. We were in middle school. I got tired of playing dollhouse pretty quickly, but you didn't. You always insisted. I don't know why, but you were very demanding about it. Sometimes it seemed like your way or the highway.

But you were a great friend overall, don't get me wrong. I loved having you as a friend. You watched out for me and kept a couple girls in our year from harrassing me. You made me laugh. I loved hanging out with you most of the time. We kept in touch for a while after you moved away. We got back in touch recently and I'm glad for that. I just wish those stupid feelings regarding the dollhouse and the you-inviting-yourself-over didn't always taint the fonder memories of the other times so much.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TDTL Day 21: Someone You Judged By First Impression

Dear Nate,

The very first day of freshman year, in BESS 1 class, I was forced to sit next to you. I didn't really want to at first, mostly because I had no idea who you were (I'd been sitting with someone I knew until her friend convinced me to trade places). And then you started talking to me. I had no idea what to do or say, because 1) again, I didn't know you at all, and 2) frankly, your stories were downright weird. First day of freshman year, third period, and I'm sitting next to this kid who tells me the same two stories over and over again (something about Mary Poppins and something about a skateboard and a truck, if I recall correctly). Honestly, I was a little weirded out. I couldn't wait for the BESS 1 block to end so I could make my escape.

But then, to my dismay, who should show up at our lunch table but the same kid. I didn't know what to do, so I think I smiled and nodded a lot (a gesture I've done around you for many years since). And then Spanish class. And English 1. Apparently I couldn't get away. Ever.

Who would have thought, on that first day of freshman year, that we'd be such great friends ten years later. Neither of us killed each other in high school (although, admittedly, we came close). We survived the BESS 1 trip to the zoo together, band trips and bus break-downs, birthday parties, class projects, many more first days of school. Graduation. You gave me a stupid nickname and convinced our Spanish teacher to call me that one day (Papita Frita...really?!). We went to prom in the same group. Our birthdays are only five days apart.

I guess we were destined to be friends. You certainly make life a little more interesting. I just wonder what all would be different had I managed to escape you that first day, if I'd kept that first impression as my truth. I'll tell you what--I would have missed out on a great friend.

Monday, July 5, 2010

TDTL Day 20: The One That Broke Your Heart the Hardest

Dear C and E,

It was a long time ago and it probably didn't seem that big of a deal to you guys at the time. It might even sound really petty. Even I have moved on--I got over what you did a long time ago (say, about two months after you did it). But at the time, I was devastated.

You knew I was vulnerable. You knew I counted on both of you for something at least resembling friendship. I was at my all-time emotional low and you two decided to knock me down a few more notches (well, you two and Anne, but I didn't expect much better from her).

It sucks that you didn't seem to think of me highly enough to realize I had feelings. I can't believe how little regard you had for me. I should have just let you guys go. I shouldn't have tried to be your friends again. No friends at all, even no not-really-friends friends, would have been better than the hurt you put me through. Those weeks when you ignored me may well have been the best of those years for me--had I not been so preoccupied by what you had done to deliberately hurt me.

TDTL Day 19: Someone That Pesters Your Mind (Good or Bad)

Happy 4th of July, all of you Americans! I hope everyone enjoyed spending some time with loved ones, cooking out, fireworks (I saw two different displays over the course of this weekend, so I count it a success), and all those other fun things that scream USA. I probably blew my diet a little. We'll see how bad the damage was come weigh-in on Tuesday, but I'm not holding out much hope...

And now...the letter!


Dear Characters,

Yeah, that means you. All of you. Chloe and Alethea; Jack, Kim, Clio, Ella, Gloria; Anna and Samantha and Katherine; Lela and Edmund; even those I haven't really interacted much with in a while (yes, that means you, Liz and Morgan and Jackie and Ruth). I know you all need and/or want my attention. I know you all have stories to tell. But you really all need to calm down. I can't concentrate when you're all screaming and carrying on and competing for attention. I'll get to you all. Promise.

Liz, Jackie, Morgan, and Ruth--thank you for being the calmest for the time being. I appreciate it. Thank you for understanding that I'm trying to get your stories out there. Now if you could just stop trying to convince me that another Children of the Rose story is necessary, that would be great. Let someone else have the limelight for a while, huh?

Anna, Samantha, and Katherine--I'm working on it. Thank you for being patient while I try to figure things out. I know you'll still be there when I'm ready and I love you for that. And thanks for reminding me of your presence on a frequent, but not quite irritating, basis. It's actually helpful. Reminds me that you're still there.

Jack, Clio, Kim, Gloria, and Ella--you all just need to chill out. You yell and scream and act like five-year-olds when I'm not giving you all of my attention. Share the spotlight and play nice with the other characters, I beg of you.

Lela and Edmund, thanks for realizing that I can't focus on you just yet. And thanks for gently reminding me you're there from time to time. I look forward to when I can actually spend time with you and your story.

Chloe and Alethea, thanks for coming back. Don't go away again. I need you both and I need you to keep talking. And if you could keep the others in line, that would be great.

Now, can we all play nice?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

TDTL Day 18: The Person You Wish You Could Be

Dear Person I Wish I Could Be,

Why do we spend ninety percent of our time wishing to be someone else? Or something more? Or just different? I'm guilty of it too, and I know this.

I wish I could be skinnier. I wish the thighs would shrink and the belly roll would disappear. Even though I don't like bikinis, I wish I had the option to wear one and not feel like an idiot. I wish losing weight was as easy for me as it seems to be for everyone else.

I wish I could finally get published. I wish to finally see my name on a book spine in a bookstore. I wish that I could know that people I've never met or seen or been introduced to or am connected to in any way were reading a story I'd written.

I wish I was braver. I wish I had the courage to do crazy things like go to NYC on a moment's notice and blow and entire paycheck and sit in the rain outside a ticket office all night to try to score tickets to a favorite musical. I wish I'd had enough confidence to apply for more than one out-of-state job. I wish I wish more comfortable breaking out of my bubble.

I wish I was more organized. My room is a mess. I should really do something about that.

TDTL Day 17: Somone From Your Childhood

Dear Victoria,

You were my first real best friend. I'd had good friends before--ones that I spent a lot of time with, or went to their birthday parties, or had sleepovers with--but you were the first friend that I think I counted as my BEST. We were attached at the hip. For the most part, people didn't see one of us without the other. I remember us only fighting once, and it was a doozy, but that was the only time. We hung out at each others' houses. Our sisters became best friends too.

My world fell apart when you moved away. That may sound melodramatic, and maybe it is, but that's how it felt. Third grade ended, you moved away, and my world ended. You see, everyone else in our grade had formed their little social cliques that year. I'd missed that completely (and didn't even realize I had until a few months later), because it had always been the two of us. So after you moved away and summer ended and fourth grade started, that was when my life started sucking. A lot. Those three years--fourth, fifth, and sixth grades--were the worst of my life, because I had no friends and I despised the only clique that would tolerate me. Sometimes I wonder how everything would have been different if you hadn't left.

I don't blame you. It's not like you had a choice. It's just something I've thought about. And I love the friends I've had since middle school, and the friends I have now. I wouldn't give them up for anything. I may not have had them if you'd stayed. I guess that's how things need to happen. You need to lose one loved thing to gain another.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

TDTL Day 16: Someone Not From Your State/Country

Dear A,

Here's the thing. I know you hate where you live. I know you find it boring and dull and too far away from anything (which isn't true, by the way, because you're probably about eight hours closer to NYC than I am). Seriously, everyone gets that. You never shut up about it. And you know I feel this way, because I've told you all this, but you just don't seem to get it.

Nearly everyone hates something about where they live and/or grew up. It's natural. It's what almost always happens. For example, I've lived in Ohio my whole life (and Columbus all the time I wasn't in college). I hate that the weather is so indecisive--one minute it can be 90 degrees and sunny without a cloud in the sky, the next it can be a torrential rainstorm. I hate that the only big event I ever seem to be near is OSU football games (this isn't really true either, since we do get some decent shows that come through here). It's boring here in Ohio too most of the time, you know. It's not just your state. We always have construction. The traffic sucks (partly because of the construction, partly because no one can drive).

Here's the thing--you can't just always whine. One, because the whining doesn't change anything. Two, because you annoy the crap out of everyone around you. You have two choices, really. You can stop complaining and just get away as soon as you can. Or you can stop complaining and come to terms with it. Either way, you have to stop complaining. I came to terms with Ohio, and found out I actually love it. You can do whatever you want--I really don't care either way. But, please, at the very least, stop making every word that comes out of your mouth a complaint about your home state.

I know you're not going to heed this advice. You never actually listen to any of us. But, still, I had to try.

TDTL Day 15: The Person You Miss the Most

This is my very first fail. I actually didn't write this letter yesterday. I kind of forgot. In my defense, however, yesterday was my birthday, so I was a little preoccupied. To make up for this, I wrote two letters today. So now I'm back on track.


Dear Kathleen,

It's so weird not seeing or talking to you every day. And, yeah, I gte that it's been over a year since we were last roomies, but it's still strange. For four years, I saw you almost everyday. We had fun as roomies. Our adventures were many. Remember the box wall at 3am during finals? Remember the Founders Hall murder game and the all-night finals week fire drill of Brookhart fame? Our numerous roadtrips to Cleveland for various theatrical events? Or how about when we filled the entire apartment with smoke when we failed epically at making sweet potato fries? Good times.

We've always joked that we have a very Elphaba-Galinda friendship and we were very much like them as roommates. And I've always realized how incredibly nerdy that sounds, but it's true. I guess at this point, then, we're at the post-Defying-Gravity bit of the story. We'll see each other again, but we're no longer seeing each other 24/7. We've said our goodbyes for now. (I'd say we were after the For Good bit, but neither one of us is about to, you know, melt. But whatever.)

I really miss you and we need to talk more. Our conversations have been so few and far between lately. We need to work on that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TDTL Day 14: Someone You've Drifted Away From

Dear Katie,

We may not have known each other terribly long, but I felt like it was a longer friendship than it was. I miss talking to you all the time, through texting and online and Skype. I always enjoyed our conversations. I liked trying to work on that musical with you and B. I wish that hadn't stopped. That was fun.

What happened? After the Louisville trip, it was like you retreated as fast as you could. I don't really know what happened in the fall-out between you and B after I left. All I know is that you seemed pressured to choose between groups of friends. You started pulling away after that weekend. And then you started school and I never heard from you after that. We haven't talked in a year and I don't know what happened. I hope everything's okay and I'm sorry if I did something to upset you. It hurts that we've lost touch. It hurts more that you didn't choose me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

TDTL Day 13: Someone You Wish Could Forgive You

Dear Person I Wish Could Forgive Me,

I don't know who you are. I can't place who you are. I can't see your face. I wish I could, because then I could address this directly to you.

For whatever I did to hurt you, I'm sorry. I'm pretty sure that whatever I did, I did it unintentionally. I don't like hurting people and I hate the feeling that I may have hurt someone accidentally and can't remember. This isn't an insult. This isn't saying that you're not worth remembering. This is saying that I'm human and make mistakes and I have a bad memory sometimes. I don't know who is holding resentment against me for something I did, but that doesn't make the transgression any less painful. Whatever I did.

I'm sorry for what I did and I'm sorry I can't remember. I hope you'll find it in your heart to forgive me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

TDTL Day 12: The Person You Hate the Most/Caused You the Most Pain

Dear Anne,

Don't think I've forgotten. I may not have seen you since fifth grade, but don't think I've forgotten the two years of being your "friend." I haven't forgotten the torment, the expectations, the fact that you were only truly kind when absolutely no one else was around or it benefited you the most. I haven't forgotten how you deliberately left me out of things. This may all sound petty, but to a kid with no friends to speak of, it hurt. I still remember that pain. I probably always will.

But, somehow, I should also thank you. If it wasn't for the way you treated me, I may not have come to love writing in the deep way I do today. Your leaving me out meant I spent my days alone writing. The pain you caused me fueled pain I could use to understand my characters. I can still call on that pain.

I don't know why you acted like that toward me. I can't imagine what thrill you got out of tormenting me. So thanks for my writing, but I don't understand. I'm not sorry you moved away. I'm not sorry I've never seen you since.

Don't think I forget.

TDTL Day 11: A Deceased Person You Wish You Could Talk To

Dear Jennifer,

This may seem strange since you passed so long ago when I was so young. Fifteen years is a long time and seven-years-old was too young for me to understand. Ten-years-old was too young for you to go. That's about all I understood--you were gone and you were too young to do so. I couldn't really cry because you were the first person I knew who died so suddenly. And you were so close to my own age. I couldn't wrap my head around all that.

I'm sorry I didn't go to your funeral. I really wish I had, because that whole bit just feels like this giant open ending to me now. I can't really explain it. I just know that I regret not really getting to say goodbye.

You were one of the nicest people I ever knew. You would have made a great mother one day. You were always taking care of Amy, Laura, and me when the family was all together. You tried to teach me to boogie board once in Nags Head. That was the difficult since I didn't really know how to swim very well. So you tried to help teach me to swim. That didn't work so well either, but I appreciated to effort. It's so unfair that you never had the chance to grow up, that the world never got to fully experience you.

I'd always felt a little connected to you (more than the whole cousin thing, I mean) because we shared a middle name. That seemed special to me and I liked it. I still like it. My middle name is even more special to me now, because it still connects us. That might sound weird, but it's true. Speaking of connections, did you know that on the day you died I got in a playground accident? My mouth hit another kid's head. My gum started bleeding and I had to be rushed to the dentist. It was the only time I ever had to leave school because of an emergency like that. Weird, right?

I miss you. I love you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

TDTL Day 10: Someone you don't talk to as much as you'd like

Dear Amanda,

I can't believe how much we don't talk anymore. We used to be attached at the hip. We were close as could be from the time we were in seventh grade. I wish we could be close like that again. I wish we could go back to before we grew apart. I wish I could know why we grew apart.

It's like as soon as we hit senior year of college, we were traveling on two different halves of the same group of friends. I don't know how that happened, since we were all one group. We all got along. It wasn't like there was a fight or anything. I wish that weird divide had never happened. I miss our stupid adventures and laughs and conversations. I miss our time spent in marching band and just hanging out.

I wish you would join in with the group here more. I wish you were easier to get in touch with and a little less (probably only seemingly) antisocial. You only live about two seconds away, it shouldn't be this hard for us to stay in touch. I wish we could go back to the way things were before. I miss talking to you all the time.

Why did we have to not only grow up but also somehow grow apart?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

TDTL Day 9: Someone You Wish You Could Meet

Please don't judge my nerdiness.


Dear JKR,

This is going to sound unbelievably nerdy, but here it goes. I've very much admired you since I was about 13 years old and fell in love with your book and your own story. I don't mean to sound like yet another obnoxious fan, but it's true. Your story inspires me (and inspired me back when I first heard it at thirteen and was still trying to find my writing confidence) and Harry Potter moves me.

I have a confession--I never truly wanted to read your Harry Potter books. Sad, but true. I was annoyed into picking up the first one by my friends who just wouldn't shut up about the series. I started reading the first book expecting to hate it. I fully planned on getting halfway through it and giving up, proving my friends wrong. I had never liked fantasy and I told myself I never would. It just wasn't for me. Imaginary locations and unearthly magic and creatures that you'd never see in the "real world?" No, thanks. The only problem was...well...I couldn't quite put Sorcerer's Stone down. I breezed through the halfway mark and kept going. Next thing I knew, I was reading Chamber of Secrets. Within a month or so, I was finishing Goblet of Fire (at that time, only the first four books had come out). I was addicted. I was now joining my friends in book discussions and theorizing. I went to the midnight releases of the final three books. I saw all the movies within their first day (it would have been the midnight releases of all of those too, but pesky high school got in the way). I read Deathly Hallows in 24 hours. I've read the entire series, beginning to end, straight through, twice in one year. I get lost in the magic. I become emotionally invested and laugh out loud and cry.

I didn't want to read the books because my friends wouldn't shut up about them, but now I can't shut up about them either. Go figure.

So thanks. Thanks for creating this amazing world and then sharing it with all of us. Thanks for introducing me to the fantasy genre (I'm hooked now, by the way, and I probably wouldn't have ever tried it otherwise). Thanks for making me believe anything is possible, in the real world and the writing world. It's amazing what all you've done.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TDTL Day 8: Your Favorite Internet Friend

Before I share today's letter, I just want to explain that the fact that I address it to someone with a letter for her name doesn't mean I want her identity to be unknown, like it's been in letters past (and letters future, really, because this is the only person this would apply to). I literally call this person B. She calls me M. It's a joke because we have the same first name and confuse our mutual we started being referred to by our last initials. Just wanted to throw that out there for your own amusement/information.


Dear B,

What can I say? Way back when we started talking on IMMB (why did the twelve-year-olds with a serious lack of grammar skills have to take it over), who would have thought we'd still be this close, what, three years down the road? You're completely crazy, but I would have it no other way. You make me smile and your texts and Facebook comments frequently make my day.

I'm truly blessed to have you as a friend (and a brain twin). You sometimes understand me more than others (that whole "brain twin" thing again, you know). You're someone I can completely geek out about Broadway-ness and lament the collective difficulties of the "real world" with. Those few months we spent trying to write and compose a musical along with Katie were months that I keep close to my heart and smile when I think back on them. Sure, that ended in epic fail, but it was a fun time nonetheless. Chaotic Skype chats, anyone? I also enjoyed our short trip to Louisville to see Spring Awakening. I still have the bag you made me hanging in a place of honor in my closet (where a small collection of bags and such hang out). Someday, you'll actually get me to NYC to see Broadway and Times Square and all that first hand.

You're awesome. You're funny. You make me smile. You're a fellow ERIN, for crying out loud! I absolutely love having you as a friend!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TDTL Day 7: A Stranger

Here's my latest fail: day SIX was supposed to be a letter to a stranger and TODAY was supposed to be a letter to the ex-boyfriend/love/crush. I read a line down yesterday when I was getting ready to write yesterday's letter and, thus, skipping a day ahead in the prompts. So today I'm playing time machine and taking it back to what I was supposed to write about yesterday.


Dear Stranger,

I've passed you on the street or in an aisle at Walmart or in the office cafeteria. I may have seen you at the coffee shop or the bookstore or the library. I may even have honked at you if you were dawdling at an intersection (sorry about that, by the way, but my tolerance isn't always very high regarding my fellow drivers).

Regardless of who you are or where our paths crossed, I inevitably noticed you in some way. You may have been saying something I thought would make clever dialogue. Maybe your behaviors inspired me to create a new character. Perhaps you were just doing something really weird like wearing a pair of fairy wings and/or a tutu in a coffee shop that made me wonder why someone would actually go out in public on a day nowhere near Halloween wearing fairy wings and/or a tutu. My brain takes in your habits and your words and all those other bits you might think no passer-by would care to notice and stores it to break out in a moment's notice for a character or a scene or a whole story. I don't do this on purpose. Just don't be surprised if we have an encounter for all of thirty seconds and down the road you recognize a bit of yourself in one of my novels.

Monday, June 21, 2010

TDTL Day 6: Your Ex-Boyfriend/Love/Crush

Dear A,

You were my first boyfriend, as much as middle schoolers can have a girlfriend/boyfriend relationship. You danced with me once at a school dance because my friends asked you to and I have the feeling you felt sorry for me. That may even be why you asked me out in the first place--because you felt sorry for me. Whatever. Either way, I still consider you my first boyfriend.

Our relationship mostly consisted of leaving notes for each other in our mailboxes and hanging out with your friends in your backyard. Not very romantic, but I think I was so completely thrilled that someone could actually like me in "that way" that it didn't even matter that much. I looked forward to seeing you or to reading your notes. But my heart was never fully into it, I think, nor do I think yours was either. This was just a relationship between two kids in middle school. While it felt real at the time (mostly because I had nothing to which to compare it), in retrospect, it wasn't much. I think that's why when you broke up with me after only a couple months, I wasn't terribly upset. I was sad, of course, but I later learned it wasn't truly a broken heart. Broken hearts hurt for longer than I hurt for you.

I'm glad we became friends in high school. I still cherish the memories of the lunches we spent in the same group. We were always more friends material than dating material, and I think you probably knew that too.

Regardless, thanks for being my first boyfriend. I'm sure you're better at it now.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

TDTL Day 5: Your Dreams

Dear Dreams,

People have frequently told me that I have a large imagination, but the truth is most of that time it's been dreaming, in one way or another. For that I have to thank you, because you are the one thing that has always been completely present. You carried me through the years of friendless misery by giving me imaginary friends. You inspired me to work harder. You keep me awake at night, filling my head with story ideas. It's because of you that I know what I'm meant to do and am excited to do it. I can't thank you enough for all you've given me. You've given me hope when I felt I had none. You keep me going when I start to get discouraged. You amuse me when I'm bored. You give me things to look forward to and goals to achieve. Don't ever leave me.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

TDTL Day 4: Your Sibling

Dear Laura,

I know we don't always get along. In fact, there have been many times over the years that I've wanted nothing more than to give you a sharp kick to the shin (and I have a feeling the urge was mutual). The truth is, most of the time, I would do anything for you. That's what sisters are for.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that you're going to be off to college in the fall. It just doesn't feel like you should be old enough to do that yet. I think college is going to be good for you. It will challenge you far more than high school (or anything else, for that matter) was ever able to do. And here's my biggest suggestion to you: have fun. YOu sometimes get so incredibly wrapped up in being perfect (which is annoying as hell, by the way) that I think you sometimes forget to enjoy the whole ride. If I find out you're spending every free minute at ONU in a practice room, I might have to drive up there myself and beat you over the head with your own trumpet. I know you have to practice, but please, for all that's good in the world, spend at least a little time away from the trumpet. Join a club. Make new friends. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. And don't worry yourself into sickness if you find some classes in college are harder than what you did in high school. It happens. It's good for the humility. It's okay to struggle from time to time. It's okay to not be perfect all the time. You're going to need to grasp that concept sooner or later.

I love you dearly and hope the years ahead of you are filled with excitement and happiness and adventures. Make memories.

TDTL Day 3: Your Parents

Remember when I said one of the reasons I wouldn't be able to share a letter on here the night I wrote it might be because the power went out? Guess what happened last night, just as I was about to publish this post to my blog. Figures. But I swear I wrote this letter yesterday...


Dear Mom and Dad,

There are absolutely no words to explain how much you mean to me, but I'm going to try. I honestly believe you're the best parents someone could hope for...and that's not just because I'm more than a little biased.

Thank you for believing in me, even when I didn't always reach what may have been your expectations. Even when I wasn't a straight-A student in high school. Even when I struggled to regain--and keep--my college scholarship. You believed I could succeed and knew I would be happy with however I got there.

Thank you for encouraging me to dream. You've never once said a dream of mine was too big. You didn't smirk when I decided to study Creative Writing. You've always let me dream big and do what makes me happiest.

Thank you for letting me be my own person. I know our views on various issues differ, sometimes dramatically, but you've let me discover what I believe in, instead of trying to make me think only how and what you think. You don't judge me negatively because I chose to be the black sheep and follow more liberal views. You let me say what I think.

And, of course, thank you for reading me bedtime stories. Thank you for the hours spent at the library and for keeping me room stocked with books of all kinds. Thank you for letting my imagination run haywire and listening to my long-winded tales before I was old enough to write them down (and since then too, for that matter). Thank you for putting up with my writerly mood swings and slightly irrational behavior. Thank you for not judging me too much when I ask to see something like the medical dictionary for a scene I'm writing.

But most of all, thanks for loving me for me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

TDTL Day Two: Your Crush the case of some of these letters, I may not want to reveal to whom I'm actually writing. In this case, I'll just use first initials.


Dear J,

I've liked you for several years now, but I'm fairly sure you have absolutely no idea. I don't feel like I've been subtle. I've even stepped out of my comfort zone and asked you to events, but I still don't think you get it. I'm sorry for this and I'm sorry if I've only been obnoxious. I've never been good at expressing those particular feelings, because they make me feel nervous and stupid. And I'm painfully old-fashioned when it comes to relationships, meaning that I have an irrational fear of making the first move.

Here's the truth: You make me smile. You make me laugh. When we talk, I feel like the prettiest girl in the room. I always love seeing you. I adore your hugs. I crave your attention. If I know we'll be at the same place or event, I look forward to talking with you. You give me butterflies.

I'm nearly 23 years old, but I always feel like a giggly teenager when you're around.

Why do you do that to me?

I wish I had the courage to share my feelings with you. I wish you knew the truth. I wish I could be more than that girl you've known for so many years. I wish you could see me more than a sister or a friend or whatever it is you see me as.

I wish you could know how I feel about you.

Until then, or until I can move on, I'll just have to satisfy myself with hugs when we see each other and poke wars on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

TDTL Day One: Your Best Friend

First day of Thirty Days, Thirty Letters (or...TDTL as I'm abbreviating it on the post titles, since it would be too long of a title otherwise)! I want to preface this letter with saying that I have many best friends and I love them all dearly, but I didn't want to write ten or twelve different letters today. So I went with the best friend I've known the longest, the one with whom I have the most history. Please feel no offense if I didn't write to doesn't mean you're NOT one of my best just means you haven't known me for eighteen years (I know you're relieved).


Dear Tracy,

I've known you so long that I can't even recall the day we met. I know it was probably the very first day of kindergarten. Looking back across nearly, what, eighteen years, it amazes me how far we've come. We started out as classmates and acquaintances. We were soon fellow Girl Scouts in Troop 1203 (ah, good times), bonded together in the troop by our similar lack of popularity. From there we went to friends, to fellow bandies, to best friends, to nearly sisters. To inseparable.

The adventures we've had are many. The laughs we've had are innumerable. I truly don't know what my life would be like if you weren't in it. Girl Scouts was full of fond times and cherished memories--Indianapolis, COSI camp-ins, Thinking Days, day camps, camporees, and our many luxurious mid-winter mother/daughter lodge camping trips. Marching band was the same way--no busses to get to States, marching in a foot of mud, football games, contests, freezing rain, leadership retreat forts, Wendy's and Steak & Shake outings, screaming obnoxious cheers until we were hoarse.

You're the friend I've known the longest and who knows me best. You're the one who tolerates all aspects of my nerdiness and brings me back to Earth easiest. We laugh. We cry. We've fought. We don't always see eye-to-eye. But I know that, no matter what, you'll always be there, because you've always been there. I can ask for nothing greater.

You've changed me "for good."

Thank you for that.

Thirty Days, Thirty Letters Challenge

I originally heard about this over on Michelle Zink's blog, because one of my fellow regular participants in Thursday Night Write is doing this on her blog. Confused yet?

Here's how it works. Thirty days. Thirty letters. The prompts are already set (the full list can be seen on Michelle's blog, but I'll put it here too so you can follow along). The goal is to write one letter each day and not stray from the original prompts. Which, I'll admit, is going to be hard. But I'm going to try my best. If nothing else, this will give me a chance to explore my own relationships and my own demons and memories...all of which are important to the stories I'm trying to write right now.

Excited? Yeah, me too.

I'll post the letters here as I finish them. I'm actually handwriting them in a journal of mine, so even if I miss a day of posting here it doesn't mean the letter never got WRITTEN. More than likely I got distracted by something shiny before I got the chance to post it here at night. Or there was another storm and I had to turn off my computer. Those are the two most likely reasons why I might have to miss sharing a letter here one night. But, never fear, if I miss a night of sharing the letters here...I'll simply share two letters here the next day. And I'll be honest with you too. If a letter doesn't get shared on here because I'm a lazy bum and didn't write one that day...I'll let you know.

Here's the list of themes for each day, in case you want to follow along or participate too:

Day 1 — Your Best Friend
Day 2 — Your Crush
Day 3 — Your parents
Day 4 — Your sibling (or closest relative)
Day 5 — Your dreams
Day 6 — A stranger
Day 7 — Your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush
Day 8 — Your favourite internet friend
Day 9 — Someone you wish you could meet
Day 10 — Someone you don’t talk to as much as you’d like to
Day 11 — A Deceased person you wish you could talk to
Day 12 — The person you hate most/caused you a lot of pain
Day 13 — Someone you wish could forgive you
Day 14 — Someone you’ve drifted away from
Day 15 — The person you miss the most
Day 16 — Someone that’s not in your state/country
Day 17 — Someone from your childhood
Day 18 — The person that you wish you could be
Day 19 — Someone that pesters your mind—good or bad
Day 20 — The one that broke your heart the hardest
Day 21 — Someone you judged by their first impression
Day 22 — Someone you want to give a second chance to
Day 23 — The last person you kissed
Day 24 — The person that gave you your favorite memory
Day 25 — The person you know that is going through the worst of times
Day 26 — The last person you made a pinky promise to
Day 27 — The friendliest person you knew for only one day
Day 28 — Someone that changed your life
Day 29 — The person that you want tell everything to, but too afraid to
Day 30 — Your reflection in the mirror we go!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oh, the failure of posting here...

Again, I'm SO sorry I haven't updated in, well...over a month. I fail. I embrace it. I'm also very tired lately with the whole full time job thing dangling over my head. Who knew that staring at a computer and every so often entering a bunch of numbers could make you so tired (and then the geek in me thinks about LOST and all is right with the world).

Agent search. It's still going. I've sent out...50 queries now? I think? It's been going slower over the last couple months, because of work and my low energy level most days, but every so often I get a second wind. I've gotten something around 20 rejections. Great feelings involved in that. Thank god for ONU's English Department giving me a thick skin.

Novel writing. Also going. The Boxes of Pandora is currently at a pause, seeing as how my characters and I are in a stalemate. I'll win. I always do. But for now they're putting up quite the fight to NOT work well with me and this is causing me to spend much time staring at the last page in that manuscript going "for the love of all things good in the world, can we finish a chapter?!" Ship of Dreams is also at a stalemate but for a whole different reason involving research, comfort levels, and my extreme paranoia of getting something wrong. I'm working on it, though. It's constantly on my mind. Out of my projects, The Memory Game is going best. My characters are still in that happy place where they haven't quite started resenting me yet, so all is puffy clouds and rainbows right now.

Sorry that this was a really abbreviated, somewhat boring post. But now it's time for me to get OFF the internet and have another go at whipping my Pandora characters into submission.