Broadening My Horizons

Hello August!

               I'm here to give myself new reading goals! Huzzah!

               I realize I just posted my Quarterly Goals, and in that post, I claimed I would only read two books per month. If you know me, then you know that’s a total crock of... well, I lied. Yes, I know it’s not polite to lie, my mama and daddy raised me right. I apologize.

               I feel bad changing the game halfway through the quarter, but I have a problem with my current goal. And here I am to rectify that problem. At first I felt bad about changing my goals because I’m a perfectionist and I freak out when I make mistakes. (Don’t judge me okay, I know I’m crazy.) I keep having to remember that I am constantly changing and growing and my goals need to move along with me!

                My problem is this, I read too much fiction. GASP! Say it isn’t so! I wish I could. But that would be more lies, and I promised to keep it honest here.

                I love fiction. I love to immerse myself into another world, climbing mountains, and riding dragons and conquering evil using the words the author has crafted together to build an amazing world filled with glorious ideas. Loosing myself in the pages of a good book is as cathartic to me as therapy is to others. Just as easily though, I begin to lose my touch on reality and productivity.

                This is a problem on the most basic level as a functioning member of society (I do desire to be one of those, one day), but also as a wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend.

                I have goals folks. In all walks of life. I want to be the kind of person that inspires others. But I don’t think that sitting on the couch is all that inspiring. Sure, it sounds nice after a long day, but I need to do things too.

                I’m talking big picture here. I want to accomplish things with my life. I want to be a help-mate and partner to my husband in our life together. I want to be a happy, loving mom. I want to be someone that people can rely on for love, support and good advice. I want to learn more about what I believe in. I also want to be a phenomenal writer. (Go big or go home, right?)

               Don't get me wrong, fiction will give a certain amount of wisdom, let me tell you. In my limited life experience, I have a lot more empathy and wisdom because I read. There is always a message, something to be gleaned, even from fiction.

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                Here’s the verbal eraser... but. But I need to learn more... differently? Broad, arms outspread, if you will. 

                I am addicted to learning. I love to learn new things, but I haven’t been pushing myself to learn anything new lately. I’ve been writing sure, and that in and of itself is practicing a behavior that develops into a skill. So, I suppose I can indeed pat myself on the back for that one.

                Otherwise I have not pushed myself outside of my comfort zone in a long while. Even in my fictional adventures I’ve not branched out far. I used to have a much wider reach in my literary selections. I’d like to get back to that.

               I want to be a writer. And not just any writer. I want to be a good one. A great one even. I may not hit the New York Times Best Sellers List…but I’ll be darned if I’m not going to shoot for the moon. If I’m going to be as good as I can be, I must be willing to be teachable. To learn.

                I want to read a wider range of books. Not just new fiction. (*Disclaimer: I do believe it is important to read a wide range of current authors as more diverse people are being published than in the past, but I don’t want to get stuck in the trap of reading only what everyone else is reading.)

                What does that look like for me?

  • More non-fiction. Biographies, histories, philosophy, religion.
  • More books about writing, becoming an author, publishing, and all that my new career entails.
  • More classics. The challenge that they bring mentally is a much needed one.
  • More indie authors (independently published). There are some awesome ones out there!
  • More unique and diverse authors.

                My new monthly reading goal, beginning now, is as follows:  One non-fiction or classic book. One Writing related book. One new fiction book. (By new, I mean published within the last 10-15 years.) That makes three books. I’ll probably read more, but who is sad about that? Not me!

                I will say, whatever I achieve above and beyond this goal, is a welcome bonus. My biggest challenge is going to be waiting to read more fiction until I’ve finished my non-fiction or classic. I believe it is important to challenge and stretch ourselves.

                What are your reading goals? What does your “to be read” pile look like? Any recommendations on books (new, old, educational, fun?) that I simply can’t wait to read? I’ll add them to my list!

Write What You Know?

   Everyone is stoked about the new season of Game of Thrones, including me. Though sadly I don’t get to watch it as soon as it airs. Why? I don’t have TV.

*crickets*

I have a TV… and movies, Netflix, Hulu… But we don’t pay for cable or Direct TV, etc.

While I could go into all the reasons why, I will not because this is not a post to discuss the evils of the mighty television companies and their exorbitant prices for crappy television and worse commercials. No, I promise I have another point entirely.

What I’m talking about today is twofold and Game of Thrones was just a conduit to this discussion.

My two points are as follows:

1)      I have to wait. This is anathema in today’s culture, especially amongst Millennials (though I begrudgingly admit that I belong to this group, but that’s another topic for another day). We want our cake, we want to eat it and we want it NOW. And it had better have chocolate, and come on a silver plate.

2)      Like Jon Snow, I know nothing. Though I think I know plenty. And it gets me in trouble.

 

You may find in reading on that you have a thing or two in common with me and perhaps with a few of your favorite GoT characters, as well as what to do with these somewhat unsettling self-discoveries.

 

The waiting game is hard. We’re all waiting for something. Be it as simple as waiting for the next episode of our favorite show, the next book in a series, a new music album… Or something a bit more complex and deep, dealing with life fulfillment (career breakthrough, love, life purpose, etc.)

                And we all suck at it. We want instant gratification. We discover something new and we want all of it, and if it doesn’t come fast enough, we lose heart, interest or both.

                Like Cersei Lannister, we might not care who or what gets in our way in our pursuit of our desires and goals. This causes us all too often, in the end, to have our darlings removed from us.

                Perhaps we are like Daenerys Targaryen. We have pride and swagger and we conquer our goals, but when faced with our own flaws we spiral into uncertainty and even depression (though we may only show it to the people closest to us).

                Like Arya Stark, we are young and naive and want things so desperately we are willing to throw ourselves fully into it, despite a phenomenal lack of preparation. This in turn leads to a much harder road to attain the discipline needed to achieve our goals. (quick note: I do not advocate assassination as a healthy means to attaining your goals…just sayin’.)

                My personal favorite is Tyrion Lannister, and unfortunately my downfall is similar to his. We are smart. (And humble. Just ask us, we’ll tell you.) We read, we plan, we organize and we calculate. But then we forget that we are smart and we run our mouths and get banished up shit creek without a paddle.

                And full circle to Jon Snow, we perhaps are so dedicated to our purposes that we often lack sight into the outside world, our own focus on a higher goal blinding us to what is going on in the bigger picture, though we are fighting for the bigger picture. This can cause much more heartache than entirely necessary and we end up fighting against our own goals by accident.

                Which brings me to my second point. I know nothing. We know nothing.

                In the age of instant gratification and the internet as a trove of knowledge, literally right at our fingertips… we quite often forget that we genuinely know so little.

                Even Einstein said, “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”

                This thought went back to Aristotle and my money is on the fact that it went back farther than that… “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

                This concept is not new. What is new is a widespread desire to appear as though we do know.

                And I am included in this. It’s so difficult for me to admit when I don’t know something. Especially when I can just whip my phone out and google it. Though we did not attain this vast abyss of knowledge for ourselves, we claim we knew it all along, or perhaps even imply that we know all there is after a single article on the subject.

                Or you aren’t in the category of thinking you know it all. You may be so aware that we are utterly and deeply lost in the fathoms of the sea that is knowledge that we can’t even bring ourselves to formulate words. This is a different kind of narcissism all its own, and one that I fall into the trap of just as often as the former.

                This all sounds rather depressing and what does this have to do with writing?

                (Bear with me! I have two takeaways from all this, and they’re encouraging, I swear!)

                If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’ve heard the advice, “Write what you know.”

                How do we do that, when we are in the same sinking boat as Jon Snow? (Even if we insist we aren’t. Cough. Cersei. Cough.)

                We are either so consumed by our own selves and our stunningly underwhelming education that we are terrified by the mere thought of putting pen to paper and disgracing the page and therefore ruining a notebook (or taking up space on a computer) with our trivial thoughts; or we are enveloped in our glittering selves, impressed by how far we’ve come and we think that we’ve got a lot to offer, people should be grateful to hear from us. Or we’re a bit of both, depending on what day you catch us on.

                None of the above is healthy, or productive. (Take it from me. I can show you lots of blank notebooks and self-images of rocking back and forth in panic over writing something awful. I can also show you my skinned nose from falling flat on my face after I boasted about how much I knew, only to trip on my own tongue.)

Why aren’t these things healthy? Because it’s all about us.

But it isn’t. We just think it is. But it can’t be. Or we would never talk to other people, or learn from other people, or interact with other people. We would live on a one-woman (or man) island and die alone. Without even Wilson to keep us company. And if we’re alone, then no one would be able to read our book (or listen to our music, or taste our delicious food….or… insert your particular creative contribution to society here.)

However we approach our lives, (and whoever our favorite Game of Thrones character is), we need to understand two things. (Probably way more than that, but I can’t mention all of them or this post would turn into a book… and it’s already longer than planned.)

1)      Waiting is not bad. It teaches patience and discipline…no success comes without both things. Overnight success story? It’s only overnight to those of us just learning of the story. It took these people years, and failure after failure…and what was the ticket to their success? Patience and perseverance and a team of people that they had helping them along the way.

2)      We know nothing. But that’s actually okay. If we’re willing to admit it and realize it’s also healthy to learn. It helps us understand the world we live in, it’s people, cultures, and all the amazing and beautiful things that fill it up.

 

Don’t let lack of knowledge scare you. Don’t let it keep you from doing amazing things.

 

Be patient. Be humble. Read. (Not just Wikipedia, okay guys?) Learn. Talk to real people about real things.

LISTEN.

(There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth.)

After all that, we’ll know something, even if it’s a small something.

And then?

 

Just Write.

(And then share it with someone.)

Summer Quarter Goals 2017

June-September

How is it already July? It’s like I don’t own a calendar or keep track of the dates…although surprisingly, I do.

I suppose that means it’s time to assess my goals yet again! Hooray for accountability! (That’s said with only a small measure of sarcasm…I swear.)

PROFESSIONAL GOALS:

1)      Write 500 Words Per Day. I failed this one. Sort of. I crushed it during April, May and early June…but then my productivity fell off the map after June 10th…because I FINISHED MY MANUSCRIPT ROUGH DRAFT! GASP! But I’ll talk about that more later…. (pssst I’m going to tell you a little bit about it so keep reading!) Overall, I’m going to claim a win on this one, because here, I make the rules.

2)      Edit Manuscript by September. I need to get through my first round of edits, which I have been procrastinating on due to large plot holes. However, I’m reading lots of amazing books that are helping intensely with that.

3)      Research Editors. While I will be doing the first couple rounds of edits myself, I still need to find a professional. Because having someone who does this for a living look at your manuscript is crucial to publishing a book without typos and grammatical errors…because finding those errors in published works gives me so. much. rage. Anyways…moving on…

4)      Blog post 2x per month. I failed this one too. Sigh. Though I did post a few times, adding to my Velik story. (Which you can read here.) I will do better over the next few months. Promise.

5)      Read 2 books per month. This has been working well for me and while I do usually exceed it, I’m not going to change it because my focus needs to be pushed towards my writing/editing.

6)      Organize office. Oh, the beast that is organization. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Love to have things tidy, hate to actually do the tidying…can’t I have a house elf? I promise I would treat them nice.

7)      Participate in Camp NaNo- Achieved! I will not be participating in another event again until NaNoWriMo (you can learn more about National Novel Writing Month here) in November, when I will be working on a fresh story to give me a break from my current manuscript.

AND THE BIG ONES:

8)      Rough draft completed by June. VICTORY!!! I finished the rough draft of my manuscript on June 10th!!! Which is a HUGE deal for me because I never finish ANYTHING! Pat on the back and high-fives all around! AND NOW, what you’ve been waiting for…

9)      SHARE MORE DETAILS ABOUT MY NOVEL. This is difficult because I want to share all the things with you. But so much is still a work in progress. I will say this much…

My novel is a fantasy adventure, complete with a mythological world where the Norse Gods rule and a great evil is lurking, waiting to destroy the realms of the gods and mankind alike. Torn between these realms is a fallen warrior Einar, who must overcome the betrayal of his people to rally forces to fight this darkness.

 

PERSONAL GOALS:

1)      Eat healthier- Doing my best to keep this going. I accidentally ate some dairy the other day because I didn’t check my salad for cheese and wound up SUPER sick so that’s a major setback for me, but I’m feeling better now and will start being a lot more careful.

2)      Go to Dentist- …welllll… I’ll get right on that, I swear. Gotta get the kids in first though.

3)      Finish Unpacking- I’ve been working on it but I’m still not done. There are a handful of boxes just lingering in the garage.

4)      Minimize social media. Mission accomplished! The main reason I accomplished this goal is because I QUIT FACEBOOK. After I quit, I realized how much it depressed and consumed me. I am so glad I’m not on it anymore. It forces me to be much more intentional with my relationships, which I feel like is a dying art in today’s technological world. This goal will be shifted into an effort to socialize with people in a more tangible and old-fashioned way…in person. (Over the phone for the ones I live far from.)

5)      Make friends. Haha. Okay, okay.

6)      Date my husband- We have been SO busy with travel for family functions and overtime for my husband so we can fly to his brother’s wedding next week so we haven't been out much just us. We have more scheduled for this next quarter to have time alone together...which will require finding a babysitter, but that is a challenge we are ready to accept!

7)      Find a church. We’re enjoying the church we’ve found but haven’t been going that frequently so the jury is still out on this one.

Velk- Hunter of Stars- Part 4

Missed the beginning of the story?

     The smell in the cave was so strong I could taste it. Damp mineral earth, fungi and something rotting. I wanted to puke.

                “Stop gagging Vel, or you’re going to make me hurl.” Zo nudged me in the dark.

                “I can’t help it. The smell is disgusting.”

                “I hadn’t noticed.”

                “Haha.” I wasn’t amused by Zo’s sarcasm but I was happy that she had recovered from our fall into the river. We had lost the horrible ape-cat creatures downstream but the sun had set much more quickly than we had expected. Either we spent a lot longer drifting down the river than we thought, or this planet’s rotation was much faster than Jango’s. I thought the latter more likely, as I was pretty good with tracking time no matter what planet I was on. It came in handy when chasing my marks. As a bounty hunter, I learned quickly that it was wise to know where they were and what they were doing and how long they had been doing it to best surprise them.

                Being good with time aside, I felt like I had lost track of it a bit during our time in the suffocating cave we had found. By my count, we had spent far too long in here, but that wasn’t saying much since even a minute in here was a minute too long. Zo agreed.

                I had tried multiple times to check my navigation watch, but it greeted me with the same black screen each time. It didn’t stop me from checking again. Was it wishful thinking, or did it seem like the glow was beginning to come back? I was probably imagining things.

                Zo reached out a hand to still my bouncing leg that I hadn’t realized was in motion. I couldn’t wait to get out, but we needed to be certain we had daylight so we wouldn’t get lost. And if those ape-cat things prowled in the daytime, I didn’t want to see what came out at night.

                We had piled rocks from the riverbed at the cave’s small entrance to block it off, under no delusions that it would keep anything out; but we couldn’t help hoping that if they, whoever or whatever they might be, couldn’t see in, the rotting fish smell would ward them off.

                After a few hours of sleeplessness despite my exhaustion, my mind began to wander to Zo’s ship, or Zo’s father’s ship more like, the Stealthstar. Zo’s father wasn’t one to be into old school sci-fi television, so I was certain that Zo had re-named the ship or she had somehow convinced her father to name it that for her. Either way, I wanted nothing more in my life than to be back aboard that ship, recycled air and all. I began to laugh, feeling a bit manic in the close, dank dark.

                “What’s so funny?”

                “I was claustrophobic on the ship.”

                “I know. That’s funny?”

                “I’ll never complain about recycled air conditioning again.”

                Zo chuckled. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll be happily complaining again by the end of the day tomorrow.”

                My laughter died in my throat with a horrible thought. “If we make it out of here.”

                “Stop that, of course we will.”

                “Yeah, of course.” I tried to sound more confident, but I failed to convince myself.

                 I was confident, perhaps even a bit cocky if I was being honest, while hunting marks. But every last one I had hunted had been in a city, a few in small towns. One guy had hidden in the “wild” forest-like park of a large metropolitan city that made Old Central Park look like a kiddy playground. But it was ridiculous that I found myself so undone by the real wild. I felt pathetic to be reduced to huddling in a cave, hiding like I was the mark and the ape-cats were my bounty hunters. We had to get out of here.

                “I think it’s time to check outside.” I stood suddenly, dislodging a sleepy Zo from my shoulder.

                Zo jumped up, eager as I to get out of the cave that seemed to get darker and more stifling by the second.

                The humidity on this planet had ensured we were both still damp when we emerged from the cave, the pink light of dawn emerging over the tops of the trees. At least it was warmer out here than it was in the cave. And it smelled fresh, almost magical, out in the open. We both sucked in deep breaths of glorious, crisp morning air.

                “Okay, which way?” Zo asked.

                I oriented myself with the rising sun and the river. I pointed, “that way.”

                Zo licked her dry lips, which made me remember we hadn’t had any fresh water to drink and no food since yesterday. It wasn’t lost on either of us that we’d have to find a way to scale the cliff we had gone down, or find a way around, and on empty stomachs.

                “No point wasting anymore time then," I said. "Let's go."

                We set off, knowing that any delay could put us on this planet another night and we might not be so lucky as to find another cave. As awful as the night had been, hiding in the putrid dark was far better than being hunted through the woods.

                Walking in silence along the river found us a modicum of comfort, seeing that it had frightened the beasts away yesterday, but the sound of rushing water made us infinitely thirstier. Unsticking my dry tongue from the roof of my mouth, I wondered if it would make it worse if I drank the salt water. It probably would.

                The sun was high in the sky before we could see where we had tumbled down the cliffside. It was hopeless to climb anywhere nearby, as the cliff was undercut by the river. Zo and I looked around, but we couldn’t see past the tall, abnormally green trees that grew near the waterline. I volunteered to swim into the river to see if I could get a better view.

                Zo was skeptical, whether to be left alone on the shore, or because she didn’t like the idea of anyone being in the water, even if it wasn’t her. I assured her it was fine as I handed her my still-blank nav watch. The stupid thing was supposed to be waterproof, but clearly the street vendor had lied.

                “You should just chuck the stupid thing. I told you not to buy it.” Zo took it unwillingly.

                I sighed, “I know, but it looks cool.”

                “How you ever save money is beyond me, Velik.” She scolded me, but her tone was playful. She knew I had a weakness for the street markets in the big cities. “You buy whatever worthless piece of junk is shoved at you.”

                “Hey, I got you some of the coolest comics you have that way, and rare I might add.”

                Zo sighed and smiled. “You’re right. Now quit chatting and get out there.”

                The water was cold but refreshing. I tried hard to keep my face out of the water, I didn’t think my eyes could take any more brine in them. When I reached the center, I turned, treading water. My heart sank. The ground rose high, cliff-like for a few miles in each direction. Where it began to drop enough to be feasible to hike, it went through what looked like the thickest part of the vibrant forest.

                There was nothing else for it, we had to go. The Stealthstar was up the cliff and we had no rope for climbing. So, through the forest we went. We chatted off and on to make the time pass, but our mouths were getting dry so we found ourselves in silence more often than not. The trees were close, the light tinged our skin a pale green and was dappled by the thousands of leaves above us fluttering in the breeze. The breeze that couldn’t reach to the stifling forest floor. It was still humid and the shade did nothing to relieve the heat of the afternoon. We were sticky and sweaty and getting cranky by the time we stumbled into a clearing.

                The clearing itself isn’t what gave us pause. It was the large rock pillar in the center of it. And it wasn’t the rock pillar or even hunger that gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. It was the fact that on top of the rock pillar in the center of the clearing, was a skull. A human skull. I stopped dead in my tracks, but Zo took several steps forward.

                “Zo,” I hissed. “What in the name of Aquila are you doing?”

                She continued as if she hadn’t heard me. There was a rustling in the trees to my left. My eyes frantically searched the woods, hoping I would not see what I dreaded. There was nothing there, but I remembered the bright, mossy color of their bodies and my gut clenched hard as I scrutinized every stump, bush and tree.

                I glanced over to see Zo had reached the pillar.

                “Are you kidding me?” I started towards her.

                “Look at these runes,” she breathed, almost reverently as she reached a hand out to the carvings. I leapt for her, but not before her fingers brushed the rough stone.

                A high, sharp wail sounded. Like a siren on fire alert, though unlike a siren, this was not machine-like. It took me a moment to shake off the paralyzing, unearthly ringing in my ears. The sound continued. I looked up and realized it was coming from the open mouth of the human skull. It was like it was looking down on us, screaming of intruders on its sacred resting ground. I looked over Zo’s shoulder and saw something green dart from the tree line.

                I grabbed Zo’s hand and yanked her after me, certain I could hear crashing through the underbrush behind us as the banshee wail continued, pursuing us through the forest along with the monstrous ape-cats from yesterday.

Velik- Hunter of Stars- Part 3

Missed the beginning of the story?

The thing about Pops is that he was always so organized and prepared for things. I kept wondering why he never prepared for this. But how could he prepare for the eventuality that his grandson would have to go gallivanting off into space to search for him? That I would be sitting here, pouring over his journal filled with meaningless scribbles, trying to figure out a clue that could lead me to him.

                It sounds ridiculous when I put it like that. It seems like I’m on this grand adventure with an amazing story to tell. This is just my life. If I heard any of this from anyone else I suppose it would sound like a gripping, action packed story. But for me, I’m simply scared and confused. A guy, barely old enough to call himself an adult, sitting in a borrowed space ship leafing through a journal written by my grandpa, trying to figure out where in the universe he could be. The symbols danced across the pages, mocking me.

                Zo thought the scribbles were some sort of code. Shorthand, she called it. She’s read her fair share of books so I believed her. She said that shorthand had been out of date for centuries, long before voice dictation took over even. Of course it had, I thought with frustration. So how did we figure out what it meant? How did we figure any of this out?

                Why is it that so many television characters seem so confident? They may mess stuff up, but they seem pretty sure of themselves as they go. Maybe they were created that way because no one enjoys the feeling of being out of control, especially when it means you have no control over your own life. And that’s how I feel, spinning out of control like a ship without navigation in deep space.

                I’ve always been a pretty confident guy. Okay, okay, maybe there were those few years in school, back before I met Zo, when I was hardly confident enough to tie my own shoe laces. That was before they came out with autofitted jump boots, but I digress. All this drifting through space feeling is just bringing up my childhood. I spent plenty of time feeling lost and don’t care to feel that way as an adult.

                Back then, hardly a day went by where I didn’t come home dripping in toilet water, or on especially unfortunate days when the lads didn’t want to see me washed “clean” in a swirly, blood.

                I watched Zo walk around the cockpit, pacing, trying to figure out our dilemma. She knew what it was but we had no way of deciphering it. But if anyone could figure it out, it was Zo. An overwhelming feeling of gratitude washed over me that I had her. I may be feeling like I’m careening off into space unguided, but at least I’ve had Zo trying to right the ship.

                I still remember the first time I met her. She was a short, slightly heavy, bespectacled nerd and the goon squad made sure to point out each of those features in mocking tones. I had seen her around, but we had never talked. The halls between classes weren’t for socializing, our tutors pointed out harshly. Though all of them turned a blind eye when Haxley and his crew of thugs jeered and shoved their way through the halls. I thought it was unfair that they got special treatment, until I realized that Haxley’s parents were the Mayoral Couple of Jango. It still wasn’t fair, but it made sense and I stopped spending time stewing about it. Though Zo never quite let it go.

                While most of the thugs wouldn’t stoop to hitting a girl, mostly because they knew they would get a fine as well as detention, it didn’t stop them from verbally accosting her. The day I met her, that restraint was called into question. It had been a rough day. Our exams proctor had given a sample exam and I had failed it miserably. Our solar histories tutor caught me doodling when I should have been taking notes and took my pad away. To top it all off, I had forgotten my lunch at home and was so hungry it felt like my stomach had decided to snack on itself. As I was filing out of school with the masses, I realized I had forgotten my pad with my solar histories tutor. Once I got it, I was well behind the usual crowd I clung near in the hopes of making it home unscathed. By the time I made it to the school gates, my stomach ache had been trumped by the throbbing in my head upon realizing I would have to study all weekend for our fifth-year exams and hanging out with Pops at the docks was not going to be in the cards. "In the Stars," as Pops would say. Even at twelve I wasn’t much into Pops starry-eyed religiosity.

                I had never been good at school and was dreading my weekend spent with my nose glued to my pad doing nothing but reading and highlighting passages. The gates were padlocked using retina recognition and coded with voice analyzers. I did my customary personal code, “May the Force be with you.” And glanced up at the cameras so they could clearly scan my eyes. A locker sprung open that allowed me to collect my transportation home. Students were allowed a hover scooter or bike to ride to school. My locker was empty as it always was though it opened anyways. Pops didn’t have the extra cash for stuff like that. He said he walked to school uphill both ways, in the snow- whatever that was, and I could walk one mile on smooth-paved streets on my own. It was good for me, he’d said. I slammed the locker shut and the gates swung outward. I stepped out onto the street.

                I trotted down the grey street as quickly as I could. I had long legs and big feet for my age so I was rather ungainly. Though I am thankful now as it means I’m tall, back then it wasn’t exactly an advantage. Especially in moments where I needed a quick getaway. Just like I had called the trouble to me by thinking it, I heard a familiar shout from behind me.

                “Oy!” It was Haxley’s top minion Krute.

                I didn’t bother to turn around, I knew the sight of the jeering thugs that would greet my eyes. Looking back would only slow my escape. I ran, full out wishing desperately for a bike. It didn’t matter, Haxley had hidden out in the alley ahead of me and stepped into my path. I came to a crashing stop after colliding with his wide girth. He was four years older and already large for his age. Why it happened that bullies are always huge, and strong and impossible to get away from is beyond me. He could have beat someone up older than him; I never understood why he went after puny twelve-year-olds but I guess logic doesn’t factor into a bully’s decision-making process.

                Whatever the reason, he proceeded to shove me to the ground.

                “Hey twig, what’re you doing down there?” He chortled as he mocked me.

                His cronies who had caught up to us snickered as if he had said something incredibly clever.

                “You gonna cry?” He mocked.

                The fact was, I wanted to, but I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. I sucked it up. I had my fair share of beatings by the time I was twelve. I braced myself for a punch to the face, my palms and wrists smarting from my landing on the steel-grey road.

                “Hey! You kids!” I looked up, shocked at the interruption. The librarian wasn’t exactly an intimidating man, but he was a respected member of the community and could easily share news of Haxley bullying kids to his parents. The Mayoral Couple were all about reputation and they would not be pleased to hear their only child was roughing the other kids up. Though there were always rumors, Haxley seemed to manage, despite his thick skull, to keep his behavioral issues under the radar.

                Haxley was quick to pull me to my feet and brush me off, albeit a bit rougher than need be. “Oh, hello there, Mr. Wallace.”

                “What are you kids doing out here?”

                “Oh, we were just saying hi to our friend, Vel here. Isn’t that right?” He nudged me and I nearly stumbled with the force, but reluctantly nodded.

                “They were not!” Zo stepped out from behind Mr. Wallace, face furious. “I heard them planning to jump Velik on his way home.” The look on Haxley’s face was pure rage and his fists clenched. Had Mr. Wallace not been there I doubted very seriously that the bulky oaf would remember the law about hitting girls. He collected himself faster than I thought possible.

                “We would never do something like that! Velik here lost his balance and as you can see sir, I was just helping him up.” Haxley put on his greasiest smile, the one that got him out of trouble with all the tutors.

                Mr. Wallace looked back at Zo. He was caught in a tough position, Haxley being the Mayors’ kid and all. He was no fool though and trusted Zo, who was in his shop daily, I learned later. “I’m inclined to believe the young lady here. Why don’t you all clear out.”

                Mr. Wallace stuck around to make sure the thugs left. “Why don’t you scoot on home, kid.” He suggested. “Tell your Pops I said hi and he can keep that book as long as he likes. No one borrows real books these days anyways.”

                Zo walked home with me and we had been inseparable ever since. We weren’t always lucky to have someone like the librarian around to spook Haxley, Krute and the gang, but Zo had quite the tongue on her and she found she could lash them into embarrassment in front of a crowd of kids easily. They didn’t enjoy being laughed at, so they left us alone at school, but the retaliation was often swift and brutal afterwards. When Pops finally pointed me in the direction of some weights and taught me how to throw a few punches, I never looked back. I got big enough to protect me and Zo whenever nobody was around but Haxley’s thugs. They eventually stopped messing with us, but the instinct to protect one another stayed with us.

                The memory of the day washed over me as I sat in Zo’s parent’s ship. That book Mr. Wallace had mentioned, I remember seeing it. It went with Pops everywhere, except for the shop. He’d never let a book get grease on it. He never took it back to the library and Mr. Wallace never asked for it back. It finally clicked into place, I had seen it every day but never thought to commit it to memory so it hadn’t occurred to me before. It was a book on symbols in the stars and constellations. And it was sitting on Pops’ nightstand. I cursed myself for not thinking to grab it along with his journal.

                I looked back at the mess of scribbles on the pages. I knew they were symbols detailing some hidden meaning in the stars, but Pops’ shorthand was making those findings impossible to fathom. I sighed in frustration and Zo looked up. The look on her face was all I needed to know that she didn’t have the answer, but she said it anyways.

                “Im sorry Vel, I don’t know. I just can’t figure it out.”

                I swung out of the chair and slammed my fist on the wall. Zo jumped. “I’m really sorry, Velik.”

                I ignored her apology. I wasn’t mad at her, but I couldn’t speak enough to convey that yet. I bowed my head, the vent above me cascading recycled air over my head and whispering through my hair. I wanted to gag on it. That smell of air that had been pumped through a filtration system over and over again made me want to pass out or hit something. I couldn’t take it anymore.

                “Land the ship.”

                “But we don’t know where we-”

                “Just do it, Zo!” I spoke more harshly than I meant to but I couldn’t let my anger go. Not yet. My Pops, that I spent years thinking was dead, was out there. Somewhere. Something had kept him from communicating with me for two years. Now we had all the tools in our hands to find him, but were still nowhere near being able to decipher anything. And all I could think about was the stupid air conditioning. I needed fresh air to think.

                Zo brought us down to a vibrant green planet, the computers assuring us that it had plenty of fresh oxygen. The moment the hatch opened, I barreled out. Heedless of taking anything with me. Oh, how I wished I would have remembered my water skin, some food, or maybe a blanket, but most of all, my blaster pistol.

Spring Quarter Goals 2017

April-June

Here I go, checking over what I accomplished (or didn’t), and make an updated list for the next few months.

I accomplished more goals than I usually do, but I didn’t accomplish as many as I would have liked. Incredibly specific, huh?

I did learn something important over these last few months…I don’t do well with ambiguity. Although I use ambiguous statements often. *scratches head* I’m a walking conundrum. I need more specific parameters, I suppose. I don’t really know what those are without some trial and error. So, I’m tweaking some things as I go. But aren’t we all? Unless you’ve got it all figured out, in which case…teach me!

If you want to see what my Winter Quarter goals were, click here.

If you just want to know my Spring Goals…. keep reading!

Professional Goals:

1)      Write 500 Words Per Day. 

Because 1 hour per day is not very motivational for me. Some days I write 300 words in an hour and others I can do 1500. It depends on my mood. If I’m feeling unmotivated I’ll write a paragraph or two and bail after my hour is up. 500 words pushes me past my laziness on those days but there is nothing saying I can’t crush these word count goals and go farther.

2)      Blog post 2x per month.

I liked this goal from last quarter so I’m keeping it going. I gave myself a win on this one even though I posted once in February because I CRUSHED my word count goals for my novel that month.

3)      Read 2 books per month.

I’m keeping this one as well because I almost succeeded on it. 2 in January. 0 in February (again focused on my novel that month) and 3 in March. This is a fluid goal for me. Whatever is working for my writing and more importantly my family life that month is what’s going to happen.

4)      Organize office.

I did some. Need to do more.

5)      Participate in Camp NaNo.

If you don't know what that is, click here. This is where I’m going to push myself past goal number one and do 1,000 wpd for the month of April.

And the big ones:

6)      Rough draft completed by June.

This is super nerve wracking for me. But I feel it necessary to give myself a specific deadline. So, June 1st I will have a finished first draft for my novel. Then I’m hoping to set it aside for a month or so before I attack it with editing.

7)      Share more details about my novel.

This one terrifies me, because what if my ideas are rubbish? Also, I change my mind a lot. What if I share something that I decide to change later? *Exasperated sigh.* I need to get over it and share. So look out for more details on my novel soon!

 

Personal Goals:

1)      Eat healthier.

I succeeded in eating dairy free for several months and I feel much better without it! Hooray for no stomach aches and clearer skin! This will be a continual goal for me.

2)      Go to Dentist.

Hahahahahahaha (okay, okay I’ll make an appointment…first thing Monday).

3)      Finish Unpacking.

It’s been an insane couple of months. With adjustments to our new environment and constant schedule changes. It’s time to finish getting settled. Perfect timing for some Spring cleaning!

4)      Minimize social media.

I did well with this one, but could do better. It’s a major time suck and it also depresses me to read about so much drama and heartache. So, I’m going to take my sister’s suggestion and schedule specific days and times I’m allowed to check my Facebook specifically. Instagram is much more of a helpful tool for me than a distraction so I’m not including that in my schedule, I’ll continue with what I’ve been doing with that.

5)      Make friends.

The ambivert conundrum. Want friends...but don't want to leave the house.

6)      Date my husband.

Hooray this one was successful! This will ALWAYS stay a goal. Healthy and happy relationship makes for a healthy and happy life everywhere else!

7)      Find a church.

Making progress on that front. I think I may have found us a place but I want to go a few more times to be sure.

Summons

The letter came earlier in the day than Niles had been expecting. He thought he would be able to rise, deal with his morning customers and perhaps even have lunch. He should have known better. Instead, the letter arrived before he’d barely had his coffee. The messenger delivered the letter quietly, no noise to prepare for the arrival of what would certainly be a life changing day. Merely a knock upon the door that caused Niles to spill his coffee down his shirt.

Although he had been expecting this auspicious summons, for it was indeed that, for some time now, he had hoped that he was being smart enough to keep what he was doing quiet for a while longer. He needed more time.

Naturally when he’d opened shop here, he knew he would get attention from many different people. His chocolates were divine, that was certain. Word spread like wildfire and he’d not had much rest since arriving two weeks ago to Drottningholm. He wanted this summons, but not yet.

Cursing at the hot beverage poured over his chest, he considered changing it before appearing at the door. Not particularly expecting the importance of the messenger awaiting him at the door, he merely shrugged and proceeded to answer it. In retrospect, he probably should have changed. Nothing to do about that now.

He knew it was just a matter of time before he would receive just such a letter as was laying on his kitchen work table. This letter changed it all. This letter reminded him why he was truly here. Niles had grown to love this town already but it wouldn’t be too difficult to start over somewhere else. Although he had invested so much here already. He must stay. He had plans that needed to be fulfilled. Leaving would not see those plans through.

He should have known better than to set up shop so near the palace anyways. His chocolates were well worth the time of anyone on earth who desired to try them. It wasn’t that he was cocky, just confident.

This craft, this living as a chocolatier had been passed on for generations. He held secrets that his grandmother’s grandfather had passed down from his grandmother before him. It was grueling work, yet vastly fulfilling. To see the looks on everyone’s faces when they first had a taste of the decadent substance that was usually only available to the royalty and vastly wealthy, it was what made Niles tick. He could be dead tired after staying up until the wee hours of morning, fashioning the most elaborate truffles and candies; until that one small child passed his window, the one that he knew could not afford one of his treasures. They would stand there for a moment, face pressed to the glass, marveling at the mouthwatering treats set out on display. When they would notice Niles watching them, they would jump, guiltily as if he knew their deepest secrets. He would just smile and beckon them inside. Ask them which they would like to try and sent them out the door, with a smudged face and a grin from ear to ear. He could never turn any of them away.

He charged enough for the boxes of decadence that the wealthy ladies and gentlemen came in to purchase to cover the stray goodies that sneaked their way out the door. Chocolate should not be hoarded he felt, but shared. It was part of his atonement.

The thought of atonement brought him back to the present. He should be frantic, trying to put together an order to fit the standing of his current client. He looked back at the letter. The letter he had laid out upon his well-worn work table, the one his grandmother had used to fashion her chocolates upon. The table he took great pains to cart with him from town to town, working his way ever closer to fulfilling his plan.

This letter, laying upon the worn table, bore the royal family crest. It could mean great things for most men. Most men would be shaking in their boots. Niles was not most men, although he had more to fear than they in an interview with the King.

 

By Appointment to

His Majesty
The King of Sweden
Niles Gunderson, chocolatier, is summoned to
Drottningholm Palace
to present his wares before
King Gustaf VII
and his royal court.
Please arrive at the appointed time below.
4th September, 1798
3:00 in the afternoon
 

Velik- Hunter of Stars- Part 2

Missed the beginning of the story?

“This was a terrible idea!” Zo shouted as we ran.

“Yeah,” I gasped out.

“Awful!”

“Yeah.”

“Catastrophic!”

“I know!” I shouted back.

Why couldn’t she leave it be? We both clearly understood that we were in some serious trouble right now, but she couldn’t shut her mouth. I was too busy trying to save what air I could to fill my lungs so I could continue existing. Which meant I needed to be running. I hated running.

She hated it as much as I did, I couldn’t understand how she found enough air to keep shouting obvious crap at me. But I thought this a lot. Strange that I should be thinking it now, while we were running for our lives.

What I should be thinking about was how we were going to outrun whatever the hell was chasing us. Zo’s ship was still out of sight. I checked the navigation in my watch system to make sure we were still headed in the right direction.

This simple action caused me to lose my footing just slightly, which made me bump into Zo, which caused her to reach out to catch her balance. This chain of events is what caused us to do some sort of awful slide-tumble down a rocky hillside.

My brain froze on the way down. Profanities cycled through my brain. A brief flash of what I guess was a AM I ABOUT TO DIE? moment. And then we fell off a very steep, nearly vertical incline and into a river.

Thank the Stars for water. Except salt water. Burning. Burning everything. My eyes, my throat and lungs, and the rock-rash newly imprinted on my body. Everything was on fire. I reached the surface, my eyes red, lungs screaming, mouth spluttering.

I squinted through miserable eyes, trying to spot Zo. There, her hands flailing, her fingertips barely reaching above the surface of the water. I pushed aside the grating irritation coursing through my body and pushed towards my best friend. She was terrified of water. I had to get to her, and now.

She never learned to swim, insisting that people didn’t belong in water, so why would she ever need the ability? That was something I admired about her. Not the lack of desire to learn, but the embracing who she felt she was part. She had learned as a child that she didn’t always belong, but rather than fighting it, she embraced it and became her own person. This was something I had yet to learn.  This fact made her appear fearless. And terrified most other people.

But I knew better. I knew that underneath all her tough exterior and snappy wit, was a girl who had some intense fears. And at the top of that list, water. I knew she was panicking under there, and she needed me. And I couldn’t get to her fast enough.

Why did I insist we stop on this stupid planet? Because I was starting to get cabin fever and this was the first planet we had come across in a while that had enough oxygen to walk around without feeling like I was breathing air that I had already breathed, and been recycled, and rebreathed again and again. I hadn’t shut up about it, so Zo finally caved and landed us here.

I reached out, and my fingertips just barely grazed hers. I tried grabbing, but she went under again. Inhaling deep, I dove down again. Steeling myself for the burn, I opened my eyes.

It hurt more this time, maybe because I was thinking about it. But I couldn’t stop. She was right there, I could see her but couldn’t reach her. Her eyes were red, wide in panic. Her mouth, wisely shut. That’s rare, the thought spiked through my brain. I kept reaching. But Zo just stared at me. It was like she wasn’t really seeing me, but looking through me.

I kicked out, hard and made contact with something. I hoped it was a rock and pushed off it to get me closer. Finally, I reached her and grabbed around her torso. As if the physical contact was what she needed to snap out of her panic, she grabbed around my neck. The riverbed was below us, just out of reach. I needed to use it to push off and get her above water. The air in my lungs was running out, which meant hers might already be. Stop thinking. Just go. Now, Velik.

I found the floor and then closed my eyes to help stop the burning. It abated, but only slightly. And I kicked again, launching us both upwards as fast as I could.

We broke the surface, gasping for air. The very air we had both been craving for weeks, it burned after getting so much saline water in them, but it was glorious at the same time. We pulled back from each other, smiling. Or I was smiling. The look on her face was still panicked.

“Zo, I’m so sorry. Let’s get out of the water.”

She simply shook her head, water streaming down her face. Or were those tears? And she pointed behind me.

I turned to look back at the shore and the wind left my lungs as quickly as if we had hit the cold water all over again. Standing along the shoreline, were enormous beasts. Apparently, the things that had been following us. They were giant, apelike creatures. Yet somehow, they also looked feline, something about their arched, glowing eyes.

They were greenish, moss-like, perfect to camouflage with the surrounding forest. No wonder we hadn’t seen them, only heard them. They were panting and pacing the shoreline, carefully avoiding touching the watery edges. Clearly the only thing that had kept them from catching us was the insanely salty water we were now floating in, slowly moving downstream.

“We’re royally screwed.” Zo had finally caught her breath.

5 Things I've Learned About Writing

Holy Toledo, Batman! I’ve been writing for a whole year now!

While a year may not seem like much to many people, it’s something pretty big for me. See, I quit a lot. The fact that I’ve stuck with one thing for this long, says a LOT to me. I may not be a New York Times best-selling author, or even a published author… yet. I’m far from having it all figured out. But I have learned a thing or two about writing. I thought I should share them because they’re pretty good, if I do say so myself.

1)       We’re never going to get it perfect, or perfectly original.

And that’s okay. No, seriously. Think about it. Are you perfect? I know I’m not. So why on God’s good green Earth would you think that you can get your writing perfect? There are no original ideas, just perhaps the way that you choose to write it. Because what you are is original. Which brings me to my next point.

2)      Just start.

Don’t over think it. The more you think about it, the more terrifying it becomes. It’s like jumping off that gigantic rock into the lake. You know the one, all the brave kids leap off it. You gotta take a running start and then leap off. Don’t walk to the edge, look down, and wonder if you might hit a rock at the bottom and die a horrible death. (Obviously, only jump off if you know there’s plenty of water down there. Be smart guys.)

But you know what I’m talking about. You stand there, toes curled over the edge and think Can I do it? Don’t. Nike the crap outta that jump. I’m right there with you. (This is coming from a girl terrified of heights.)

3)      Show up and write every day.

You want to actually pursue this thing? Make it a career? Then treat it like one. Yeah it may be something you love, but if you don’t put it as a priority it will continue to be a hobby.

 I realize this presents a different challenge for each person depending on what your life looks like. You have a day job? Write on your breaks. You have tiny kids who interrupt you every five seconds? Write at 5 am while it’s still dark out and the adorable little devils are sleeping. (That’s why I drink an energy potion every day made of magic beans.)

If you want it, make time for it.

 

4)     Keep writing.

Even when you didn’t write yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that. Because life happened. And even when what you’re writing is rotting, smelly garbage. That garbage will decay and act as fertilizer to fuel future words to turn out as incredible as a flower that came out of manure. (Thank you, Natalie Goldberg for imparting that wisdom.)

Write, write, write. With pen and paper, on a napkin, use a laptop (even one that is crappy and ancient), use the notes app on your phone. Anything. Use anything, and just write.

5)      It is never too late to pursue a new dream.

I know I’m not as old as some, but I’m older than others. And for years I felt like a failure for never being able to make up my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up. So, at 27…nearly 28, more grown up than I once was but not as mature as I will be someday, I decided to be a writer.

And while I have days where I’m literally banging my head on the table in frustration (which I don’t recommend…it doesn’t produce good ideas, just a bad headache) I also have many days where I am filled with excitement and purpose. Because I’m finally giving voice to my ridiculous fantasies and passions that before always left me feeling aimless.

Because…when you’re a writer you can be a teacher, a historian, a logophile, a bibliophile, a philosopher, an editor, an ancient warrior, a brilliant scientist, a super hero, a storyteller… and most importantly, 100% yourself.

 

So, if I can impart anything to you, I hope it’s the desire to keep fighting. Even when you fail. Even when you want to quit. Keep pursuing your dream. You’ll get there, if you push yourself. Remember, even the people you think are incredible, weren’t always where they are today. But they kept showing up, time and time again.

Beginnings

She lay there wondering how it had happened this way. What could she have done differently? Nothing? Everything?

Any tiny thing at all that could make her go back to when this wasn’t her reality. To see her life, flashing before her eyes. Knowing she was done for. That she would never beat It.

It would win. And she wasn’t the only one losing. Her family would lose. Her friends. People she hadn’t even met yet. All because she wasn’t strong enough. How was this fair?

And then it hit her. Life is not fair. Not for anyone. Least of all for those called to Rise. To Rise to meet the challenge It threw in her face.

She would not be overcome by this.

So she opened her eyes, brushed back her hair from her tear-stained face and looked at It. She smiled into the horrifying face of everything she feared, all the potential for failure looming before her.

And she laughed. So hard and so long, that she probably should be unnerved.

She squared her shoulders and took a deep breath, calming herself to face It head on like the warrior she felt she was. She scolded herself for utterly overreacting. All she had to do was get out of bed.

So she did.

Velik - Hunter of Stars

Writing Prompt- Complete the Story I looked up at the night sky and thought of the stories he used to tell about the stars, the constellations, and it seemed sad that I couldn’t remember a single one of them. There’s a string of stars called Orion’s Belt, and I think Orion is known as a hunter, but I’m not sure of what. It’s funny to think that, because in a way I’m a hunter too, only I hunt…

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I looked up at the night sky and thought of the stories he used to tell about the stars, the constellations, and it seemed sad that I couldn’t remember a single one of them. There’s a string of stars called Orion’s Belt, and I think Orion is known as a hunter, but I’m not sure of what. It’s funny to think that, because in a way I’m a hunter too, only I hunt people.

Now that sounds creepy when you say it out loud. I suppose I should clarify. It’s not like I’m some psychopath or cannibal. I chase people for money. I’m a bounty hunter. Like Boba Fett.

Except clones aren’t real and I don’t have an awesome spaceship. I can’t afford one, although I keep saving. One day I’ll have enough. I do have a pretty sweet car though. All the good bounty hunters do. It’s a necessity for keeping up with our marks. If you have a slow vehicle, you don’t get your guy. “No mark, no money,” Pops would say.

The car is one of the few perks of the job. It was handed down to me from my grandfather, who got it from his grandfather, kinda like this job. It all runs in the family.

Pops used to tell me stories about the universe, and all the constellations while we worked on the car together. He never talked about the job at night. Only the stars and the car. Boy, how he loved her. Maxine was his only love, he told me repeatedly. Not really sure how I came into the picture, or my dad, if he never loved anyone but a car. But we never talked about my dad.

I learned from a young age to stick to three topics with Pops. Stars, cars and hunting marks. That’s what he lived for. To be fair, there wasn’t much else on this planet to occupy one’s time. It was pretty small and the landscape wasn’t anything to write home about. Not that there was anyone to write. This is home. And I never had anyone else, it’s always been me and Pops.

Jango, where I live, is really a small moon. Named by the first settler here, Ran Harding, as a joke. Harding decided bounty hunters should have a common meeting ground where we could all live and relax between jobs. It also functions as a base of operations for larger missions. Ones where multiple hunters take on Objectives where larger, more dangerous marks and needed to team up to bag ’em. Kind of like the one that my Pops went on two years ago. The one he never returned from.

Pops was not just my grandfather. He was my mentor. I often felt like he rambled a lot. Mostly about the stars. He claimed they were important to our lives. In a way that people had long forgotten. He thought if we could just study them, learn more about them they would change us. He knew every constellation out there. In multiple galaxies. It was pretty impressive when I think about it now. But I didn’t listen enough. I thought it was all mystical mumbo jumbo. I didn’t have time for ultra-spiritual nonsense. Stars were too bright and hot to host people, so marks didn’t go there. I only needed to know about what would bag me a mark. I ate up everything he had to say about the job and cars, but the star stuff fell on deaf ears.

Boy, do I wish I could change that now. As I’m standing here, in the cockpit of my best friend’s ship and we’re staring at a map of the stars, trying to figure out where to go next. Somewhere that won’t nearly kill us, like the last planet we went to. Maybe I’ll tell about that later. Right now, I have to focus on finding Pops.

Because up until yesterday I thought he was dead. Yesterday I had just accepted a new contract. I was off to Lyra to hunt my mark. Then I got a message.

They’ve found you, Velik. Take a ship out of Jengo, tonight. Follow the stars. They will lead you to me. Don’t forget my love. -Pops

Winter Quarter Goals 2017

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Winter Quarter (January-March)

Well folks, it’s been a bit since my last post about goals. To be honest, I don’t really want to talk about how badly I may or may not have failed at my last list. (In all fairness, I did have a boatload of changes in the last 6-ish months).

Instead, I’m starting fresh with the new year! I’m trying to keep my goals more straightforward this time around. Accountability is key for me to accomplish anything, so here I am, sharing with you.

  • Write 1 hour per day. I need to do this in the early morning or it doesn’t happen at all. I have a writing buddy that’s an early riser too and we’ve got a new thing going where we text and/or Snapchat first thing in the morning for accountability to get our butts moving.
  • Exercise 3x per week. I will not have the energy to get up as early as needed to write if I don’t start working out again. (Especially since my almost 2-year-old has decided that he won’t be sleeping anymore since we decided to switch to a “big boy bed” like big brother’s. Oh joy.)
  • Eat healthier. Because it’s important. Also, I’ve been having dietary issues lately and I need to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.
  • Go to the dentist. On the topic of being healthier. Ugh.
  • Blog post 2x per month. Because I don’t think it’s realistic for me to post more frequently than that right now. We shall see.
  • Read 2 books per month. I read nearly a book a week last year, but it left me with less writing time so I’m trying to balance that out.
  • Organize office. Because it’s a mess and I’ll be happier and concentrate more if it looks good. There's a method to my madness but it's better if  it doesn't resemble actual madness.
  • Finish unpacking. We just moved and thanks to my super-duper mama and her goal crushing magic, we got very nearly set up. I do need to finish it out, though.
  • Minimize social media. (I’m looking at you, Facebook.) Not Instagram though, because that actually doesn’t consume me in a negative way, and it is a good promotional tool for my blog.
  • Get outside more. It rains a lot here so I need to take advantage of the sun while it’s out and take the kids out to play. Plus side of being here is that we now live only 5 minutes from a beautiful river and 15 minutes from the Ocean! No excuses!
  • Make friends. We just moved several hours from home and don’t know anyone here. I can be very anti-social. I know if I don’t make myself meet people…I won’t.
  • Date my husband. We have been incredibly busy since May of last year, with my husband's career change. He even needed to live in a different town for 6 months for job related training and while we're living as a family again, he is currently in even more training! It’ll be difficult to come by regular babysitters. (That whole not knowing anyone thing, again.) BUT, I firmly believe that a healthy marriage is the glue that holds a happy family together. Plus, I really like my husband a lot and want to spend more time with him. Even if it means we have a few dates at home. It just means getting creative!
  • Find a Church. Last but not least. Faith is very important to our family and my husband and I want to find a place somewhere here to call home.

Well there it is, my list for this quarter. I think it’s an attainable list, but also forces me to get moving and stay productive. This is crucial for me not spiraling into a pit of self-loathing and despair, which is really important in life I find. I'm sure you do too!

Here's to a New Year, with new goals to accomplish and dreams to reach!

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Do you set goals for yourself? How regularly? What are your methods for keeping yourself accountable? Feel free to share in the comments below!

5 Things I Learned While Losing NaNoWriMo

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Well hello there, I would like to begin by apologizing for my very long absence. Although, if you read my blog you are likely to be a family member or friend, in which case you probably have seen me around despite the lack of blogging. I could list all the reasons I stopped writing but I’ll keep it short and get the point across quickly. My husband was in training for a new job and I was with our kids most of the time by myself. Then we moved a few hundred miles away. At least we have moved ourselves and some clothes…our belongings are still back home, waiting for us to find a permanent place to live. We’re currently crashing in someone else’s home. Thank God for vacation rentals!

Despite all the chaos, I decided to take on my first ever professional editing gig. This backfired when I realized that I needed to pack boxes, clean and sell our house, find us a new place to live and then proceeded to get the flu in the midst of trying to move. However, I did end up completing the project, although at a slightly discounted price due to my lack of time to edit as thoroughly as needed. (Many life lessons learned there, but that is a story for another day.)

Being the crazy person I am, I still felt as though personal writing time could be squeezed in somewhere and decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (for those of you unfamiliar with this term it is the abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month).

NaNo (as it’s often called, because who doesn't like abbreviated abbreviations?) is a friendly competition that takes place every year in November. The goal is to write 50,000 words towards a novel beginning November 1st and ending on November 30th. It’s free to participate (although donations are encouraged, plus cool merch!) and the website has fun ways to track progress, talk with fellow writers and read motivational tidbits from experienced writers that like to pop in and cheer everyone up. It’s like they know how hard it is to silence the inner demon and just get something on paper, and then how discouraging it can be if you make the mistake of re-reading what you just wrote. (Don’t do that. Just. Don’t.)

I can’t chat with you about how I won NaNo, sadly. (If you want to read about the excitement of someone who did, you oughtta go check out my friend’s blog. She writes a bit about her experience of exceeding her goals last month in this post here.) I can however, talk about what I learned from participating.

          1) It’s fun. Friendly competition can be a very fun thing. Especially when you have a buddy or two. If you don’t have real life friends, you can pick some up on the NaNo website or on Facebook writing groups for your area. (That sounded weird. If you don’t have real life WRITER friends, is what I meant to say! Of course you have friends IRL. Duh.)

          2) Goals are motivating. Having a goal to work towards every day can push you to write just a few more words than you usually would have. This really helped show me where I had been failing to push myself in the past. Whenever I hit the end of a scene or when things would slow down thought process wise, I used to hit save and quit for the time being, always saying I would come back and finish later. When I came back to it, I would curse myself because I didn’t push past that part when the idea was fresh. Then I would have to start my writing session with something difficult to get out. During NaNo, whenever I was about to quit, I would look at my word count goal. (Scrivener is good for tracking that sort of thing, FYI.) Realizing I was still short, I would pull up my big girl panties and crank out a few hundred more. When I hit my goal, I wouldn’t realize it immediately because I was in the middle of a scene. When I finished the scene, I often exceeded the needed daily 1,667 words.

          3) Competition is a healthy thing. That is, if you have the right mindset. Going in with personal goals and working towards them as hard as you can, knowing that you’re simply competing against yourself and alongside other people who can get as discouraged as you, yet pick themselves up and keep going, makes NaNo a fantastic experience. Competing against other people is good as well, but it has its place and that is not in writing. When it comes to writing, it can wind up being detrimental. To yourself. No one ever benefits from comparing themselves to people who either have more time on their hands or who have had years more experience. If you are capable of being reminded that the best thing you can do is beat yourself at your own game, then you’ll wind up coming out the other end a stronger writer.

          4) Participating brings self-awareness. I learned a lot about myself as a writer last month. I’m still a newbie for sure, and maybe you know quite a bit about yourself already, but my bet is that each new writing experience, competition or whatnot will bring out something new in you. New stories and characters have a way of speaking to us in different ways and bringing to light our strengths as well as our weaknesses. Be conscious of how you’ve done things in the past and my bet is that you’ll come out the other side just a bit different than you were going in. If you’re aware of your struggles, it makes you able to attack it from a whole new angle next time! (Because there WILL be a next time! NaNo 2017, I’m coming for you!)

          5) Winning isn’t everything. What am I saying? Of course it is! No participation ribbons given            here! All joking aside, while winning is amazing and I fully believe in pushing yourself to complete your goals; sometimes you can learn just as much by not finishing. Oftentimes, we writers get extremely overwhelmed when things don’t look or sound exactly the way we pictured in our head, or we don’t reach our goals (amongst many other insecurities). To not finish can really put us through the ringer, but if we learned something from it and became a better writer at the end of the process, then it’s okay if your measly 24,225 words doesn’t look as nice next to someone else’s 50,000. (Yes, that’s how many words I completed last month.)

Well I hope this list was enlightening to you, or at the very least a tiny bit entertaining. If you didn’t finish this year, don’t cry. Maybe cry a bit, but wipe those tears off and get writing again! The only way we’re ever going to get better (or get to the end of that damn manuscript) is to keep going! So, get out there and write some more words! Life doesn’t end at the end of NaNo!

August Reading Recap

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It seems I’m always saying that the month flew by but seriously, August flew by! Could help that I read a crap-ton of books. Seriously though. I completed 9 books! I tried to make it an even 10 but to no avail! I’m not going to recap each and every one, as I read a couple of series (or parts of them). So I will give my overall impression of the series.

First set of books I read are a part of a series, The Squire’s Tales. The first four books are as follows: The Squire’s Tale, A Squire His Knight and His Lady, The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, and Parsifal’s Page. I had read the first two growing up and was absolutely obsessed. Having NO idea they were a part of a larger series. They are intended for young adult but I honestly believe they transcend age boundaries. If you love King Arthur and the Round table and all of that jazz, you will absolutely love these stories! They are fun, fast paced and full of magic. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Next I re-read/finished the Inheritance Cycle. I purchased Eragon for my brother for Christmas the year it was published and my siblings and I loved it. Then I read Eldest when it was released. For one reason or another, I didn’t pick Brisingr up immediately and when I did I couldn’t really remember all the details of the first two books so I set it aside. And never finished it. So I set myself the task of re-reading the first two books and finishing the series. I did not expect to find it incredibly tedious. This series is definitely worth reading once but it is not a re-read. I remembered just enough of the first two books to make reading them completely anticlimactic, which made them hard to pick up again. I stuck with it and was glad I did. I felt as though Brisingr and Inheritance were more well written.

Over all, these are a good read. Not my favorite, but worth the time. Once over. For his age Christopher Paolini accomplished something pretty amazing. However, his age was also a deterrent. Eragon is angsty and juvenile pretty much throughout. Due to his age as well as the age of the writer. Paolini is incredibly wordy. I am not against an 800-page novel (Game of Thrones dudes) but make it interesting. He uses 10 words where 5 would do. Honestly I can’t fault him too much for this as I have the same issue. It was a good lesson for me at what my novel could end up looking like if I don’t edit properly. There were a few other issues that honestly are pretty minor comparatively so I won’t mention them specifically. Other than these issues the story was well crafted and I would love to see if, as he is older now, he could write a spin off series as to what Alagaesia is like now.

After all of this nostalgic re-reading and YA at that, I felt the need to read something with more depth to it. I was given a huge stack of books and amongst those was The Great Gatsby which I am completely ashamed to admit I had never read until now. GASP! Well I righted that wrong and... wow. I almost have no words. Haha, almost. I never have no words.

As I somehow managed to go this entire time having NO knowledge as to the plot I loved the surprise of it! My obnoxiousness paid off. (Seriously, if someone is about to say something about a book I haven’t read, I plug my ears and LALALA!) I am so glad I didn’t know what to expect, it made it that much better!

I never watched the movie because…. I refuse. My first impression of a story will NOT be the movie. (Although I do have plans to watch it soon!) Especially one with such high acclaim as this. Fitzgerald is a genius with words. I was so drawn into the world I could vividly picture everything. It could help that I love the “roaring twenties” and if it weren’t for the rampant racism and sexism in that era I would time travel and live there for a while in a heartbeat.

I don't want to give anything away, so I’m going to stop. Although almost everyone has probably read this book WAY before me. This is what happens when you’re homeschooled and your parents let you choose your classics list. Somehow books that are a given for everyone else slip through the cracks. But then again, sometimes it means you’ve read things that no one else has.

Well guys, that’s a wrap for this month. I’m pretty excited about several books I have lined up to read next. Also hoping there will be more writing so there will probably (maybe) be less books read. That’s alright, balance!

July Reading Recap

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I only read two books last month. Two. (Hangs head in shame.) Well I can’t do anything about it now, it was a crazy month and I just couldn’t really get into anything I picked up. This sad state of affairs is also reflected in my writing as well, which is why this blog post is a couple weeks late. So let’s get started. First off, I read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. While I usually don’t go for YA (although I seem to keep picking them up lately-what’s with that?), I actually really enjoyed this one. I honestly feel like it’s the first YA book I’ve read since The Hunger Games that I really enjoyed. I love the alternate world that she created for her Heroine and Hero. I enjoy the structure and history she’s given the world, it was intense and harsh and very intriguing. I’m very curious to learn more about it. (It wasn't a futuristic dystopia! Thank God.) I did also really enjoy her characters but I do have one beef with her on them. She writes in first person, and jumps between the two characters. To be honest, there were some chapters that I wasn’t certain who I was reading about and had to go back and check. Their voices were not as uniquely developed as I would have liked. Otherwise, I give this book a thumbs up. My enjoyment was enough to get me to pre-order the sequel A Torch Against the Night, which is coming out at the end of this month.

Secondly, I read Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Again, definitely liked the book. But I honestly didn’t know what to expect so I was caught a little off guard that it was kind of a middle grade read. I don’t discriminate on the age group of books that I read because you never know what kind of story you’re going to love (Harry Potter, duh). My hesitation with this book could be due to the fact that I kept thinking about how much I would have liked to read it when I was 12 (but it didn’t exist until I was 15…even then I missed it somehow). Whatever the case, I think the story was fun and a neat spin on sprites and leprechauns and all of the inner workings of magical society. I’m going to go ahead and say that I liked it enough that it will be a book I give to my kids to read when they get to be that age (which is a long way away haha). I will also continue reading the series to give it a fair chance.

I can promise that I will have a LOT more in my August recap as I have already read 7 books! Before you get all impressed, four of them were super short and some were re-reads. I’m still 4 books behind schedule for my goal of reading 52 books this year…but I’m flying through them this month!

Hope you all have enjoyed your summer, since I hear it’s basically over now, what with school starting this week (insanity if you ask me). I refuse to acknowledge it being over until the end of August. That’s how it was when I was growing up and that’s the way it’s going to stay! (Picture me standing all Peter Pan-like when he’s all “I don’t wanna grow up.”) Yeah, okay...Well, that's all folks!

What was your favorite read for the month of July?

Flash of Inspiration #2

Keeping it simple today because I have a lot to do this week. That and I procrastinated yesterday instead of working on something more complex. I do think I was clever in using page 101 with my book backdrop of 101 Fairy Tales. (Pat myself on the back for that one!) I'm intrigued by my starter sentence. I think it will lead to an interesting story. The goal is to write it this week. When I do, I'll share it in the comments! Feel free to share yours in the comments as well! Happy Writing!

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5 Steps to Creating Believable Characters

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Initially I struggled with creating characters for my novel so much I was convinced that I would be terrible at it forever. Then I forced myself to sit down and attack the problem because I was tired of hating everyone but my villain. He is simply brilliant.

Yeah I know, I love my villain. Call me crazy but my favorite characters are usually the bad guys; Darth Vader, Hans Gruber, Harley Quinn (had to squeeze her in to prove I loved her before the movie comes out), Terminator, Snape (it can be argued that he wasn’t a villain, but I loved him before anyone knew he was actually good. And yes, I did put two Alan Rickman characters down. He’s amazing okay?). I could go on and on about villains but that is a post for another day.

I decided to tackle the problem of boring characters head on (after months of procrastinating of course). There was a lot of trial and error, but I finally came up with a process that rescued my characters from dull and lifeless to exciting and entertaining!

Step 1) Pinterest pictures.

One day I was banging my head against the desk after my main character pissed me off again (for being whiny and annoying and dumb). So I did the natural thing, I gave up and skipped over to Pinterest. While I was there I stumbled upon the best picture. It was an actor from a popular TV show and it was my villain! Sure the hair and eye color weren’t quite right but otherwise it was exactly what I had been imagining him to be like. I got so excited, I started searching for images for my other characters, and before I knew it, I had a picture or two for all of them!

I would highly recommend finding a handful of images to show who your characters are to you. It may be a celebrity or someone you know, or a total stranger from the interwebs. If the person doesn’t match exactly, find another one and make notes about what you like about each of them. This will help you later when you’re describing your characters.

Create a board for all of your characters or a board for each of them, whatever suits your fancy. If you’re like me and don’t like to share too much about your characters before you’re farther along, you can make the boards private.

Step 2) Take the Meyers-Briggs Test for your characters.

If you’ve never taken the test, you should do so for yourself immediately.  You can do that here. Then read about the personality type the test comes up with on that site as well as this one.

Based on my experience with myself, my friends and family, it’s very accurate (as long as you are very honest with your answers) and really intriguing to see them work out your personality with your strengths and weaknesses and what this means for different areas of your life. Obviously not all of it is going to be a 100% fit to you because you are a unique individual. But if they get it right more often than not, you’ve taken the test right.

Next, or first if you already know your personality type (ENTP for the win!), start taking the test for your characters. Have a notebook handy so you can write down each personality type for your character, that way you can go back and read more about it later. Try to visualize each character answering these questions. Answer them how your character would, even if you would NEVER answer like that yourself.

Once you have the personalities written down and a general idea of what each of them is like, head on to the next step.

Step 3) Fill out a Character Profile Worksheet

What is this you ask? Basically it’s a fact sheet of all of the boring details about your character. Height, hair color, face shape (this is where the Pinterest images come in handy, you can visualize them and find words to describe them more easily). Also family size, occupation, educational background.

Why is this step third? Because there are also some deeper questions you should also ask such as: How does this character deal with anger? Sadness? What does the character want out of life? If you answer these before you’ve taken the personality test you may struggle a bit. (I know I did.)

You could use this worksheet. Or this one. Or you could mix them together and add other things you think of to create something of your own, like I did.

Step 4) Interview Your Character.

This one may seem very similar to the previous step but I find these are specific questions that require a more in depth answer. It helps you develop your character’s voice, how they actually talk or explain things.

Ask your characters questions like you would a friend. What is your greatest fear? Who is your hero? I love this questionnaire from French author Marcel Proust. Back in the day questions like these were a party game, sort of like truth or dare. But more like truth or truth.

Step 5) Write a short story about each character.

You could combine a couple of the characters into one story, maybe to describe how they met, but I would challenge you to try to write one where each of them is the main focus of the story. It will help you to solidify who your character is as an individual. This story may not even make it into your novel, but it will help your characters really come off of the page and make readers fall in love with them. Or even hate them! (This is equally important if you ask me.)

My recommendation: Complete this process for each character that is going to play a crucial role in your story. Obviously I’m not telling you to make a character profile for the random blacksmith or fishmonger that your main character meets once and talks to for five minutes. I’m talking about the people that are around for a longer period of time.

In my humble opinion, in depth development of all characters is something a lot of authors fail to do. They put a lot of work into the main character and then half-ass everyone else. Develop everyone. The villain, the sidekick, the secondary characters that come in and out of the story, even if you’re going to kill them off. If they move your story forward in an important way, they need to be developed. Nothing worse than a flat character who dies and nobody remembers or cares. (Okay so there are things a lot worse, but this is a big peeve of mine.)

I hope this process will do for you what it did for me! Now I am excited about ALL of my characters. I can’t wait to watch each of them make an impact on my story!

What is your process for creating characters? Is your process similar to mine or different in some way? Please share in the comments!

10 Famous People Who Failed Repeatedly Before Succeeding

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            I chant that saying over and over to myself in my head, regularly. As human beings, we value achievement. Our desire is for results. Usually immediately. When we don’t see them, it is easier to chalk ourselves up as failures and give up. Often we procrastinate until action is imperative. Giving the excuse, “I want it to be perfect.”

While there is nothing wrong with desiring quality, it often stands in the way of action. At least, that’s the case for me.

What we often forget is that the day to day drudgery of “trying” (and failing) is a part of success. It can even be argued that it is crucial to success.

The next time you consider not taking action, consider these famous people and just a few of the failures they experienced on the road to success.

1) Walt Disney

He was told he lacked imagination and drove his company to bankruptcy before his worldwide success.

2) Albert Einstein

He didn’t speak until age 4, couldn’t read until age 7 and flunked out of school.

3) J.K. Rowling

She had Harry Potter rejected repeatedly, while dealing with depression, divorce, poverty and single parenthood.

4) Theodore Geisel

More commonly known as Dr. Seuss. He had his first book rejected 27 times.

5) J.R.R. Tolkein

Publishers were extremely reluctant to publish The Lord of the Rings; they weren’t sure it would gain any popularity.

6) Lucille Ball

She was told by her drama instructors to find a new career. Remember I Love Lucy? Yeah, I thought so.

7) Winston Churchill

He was terrible at school and experienced years of political failure until he was elected Prime Minister in his sixties.

8) Michael Jordan

He was cut from his high school basketball team.

9) Stephen King

He had his first book rejected 30 times before he threw it in the trash. Good thing his wife rescued it and encouraged him to try again!

10) Elvis Presley

He was fired after only one show at the Grand Ole Opry and told he would fail and to go back to truck driving.

I've heard a lot of people comment about now successful people saying, "These people who rejected them are dumb, they just didn't know who [insert famous name here] was." No. No. No. A thousand times, no. There's a pretty popular meme circulating that I love about Oprah getting fired when she was young. The interviewer was shocked and gave a similar response. The person who fired her was obviously wrong to fire her. The interviewee (is that a word? I think it is.) Responded No. He probably wasn't. Because SHE WASN'T OPRAH YET. She became the powerhouse she is today, because of her FAILURES. Bam!  

We are shaped and molded based on our successes yes, but oftentimes in a much stronger way because of our failures. The humiliation and frustration that comes from failing or being told you aren't good enough is what eventually pushes people to a point where they flat out refuse to give up. Be that person. Don't let people knock you down. Learn from your mistakes and keep going. Try harder, think differently, approach it in a new way and with a new attitude. Maybe it'll take 27 more times. Eventually you'll get it right. It only takes doing it right once.

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June Reading Recap

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Well this year is absolutely flying by! I hope you are enjoying your summer, and with it your summer reading list! I’m so proud of myself, reading as many books as I did this month! (Yes, I am totally patting myself on the back right now.) I cheated because two of them I didn’t actually “read” as I had the audiobooks, but I am counting them. I don’t know if anyone else is weird about that. Technically I know the story, but I didn’t read it. I feel like a fraud. Sigh. Oh well.

First up, Better Than Life by Grant Naylor. So flipping good! Quirky and crazy, fast paced sci-fi. Everything I would want in a follow-up to Red Dwarf. So bizarre and so well written, they’ve made me fall in love with characters that I wouldn’t normally even like if they were in another story. Genius storytelling. I cannot wait to read the next installment! Adventures in time with nukes and reverse aging and all sorts of craziness with Cat. Gotta love the Cat.  (Also, fun fact…Grant Naylor is not one person. Did not know this until I finished this book. It’s two people, who wrote these stories together and then mashed their names together. Perfect.)

I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle next. I had read this as a child, I don’t remember what age. All I remember is that it was my first sci-fi book ever. I really liked it after re-reading it. What I imagine she was trying to accomplish must have been very difficult for her. She was trying to break out of a mold of traditional women roles and interweave some of her beliefs into young minds with an awesomely fantastical story. Considering the time in which she wrote it, and the audience she was directing her story towards, she did a pretty phenomenal job. (Another fun fact, this is a series. A fact I didn’t realize until I was reading the Goodreads reviews. Will definitely be finishing the series!)

The next “book” I read, was a comic book. In keeping with the idea of branching out, I decided to pick up one of the comic books I bought back in February. I read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change is Constant Vol. 1 by Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz and Dan Duncan. It was very different looking at so many pictures and reading so few words, as I have never read a comic book before. It was an interesting experience to translate pictures to words rather than the other way around. Ever since I was a kid I have been obsessed with Ninja Turtles, Superman and the like, but didn’t realize until I was older that they were comic books, not just movies and TV Shows. I didn’t grow up with parents as nerds. They did their best to allow me to be me, they just didn’t know about any of that comic book stuff so they didn’t know to tell me. (They let their 8-year-old daughter have a Ninja Turtle birthday party, complete with a Michelangelo cake. Yeah I know, they’re awesome.) So now that I’m all growed up, I decided it was up to me to make up for lost time and start reading some comics. I had no idea where to start to be honest so I just grabbed that one. I probably began all wrong but as there were literally thousands of comics lining the shelves, I knew I would never ever leave the comic book store if I didn’t just pick one. I have much to learn in this facet of the realm of nerd, but I’m excited to get into it!

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One of my reading adventures this month was a writerly adventure too. I read 250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig. This book was sort of set up similarly to Writing Down the Bones (which I talked about in my May Reading Recap). This book was full of advice to writers. Those two things are where the similarities ended. While Goldberg is very Zen about all of her experiences, Wendig is very blunt and a little angry. Maybe angry isn’t quite the right word. It’s not a bad thing, more of an asinine people piss me off kind of way. Which I respect and really enjoyed about his book. I love that I’ve read two very different approaches to the same idea of passing on wisdom from one writer to another. His witty word play, although undeniably bawdy is clever and sometimes just downright hilarious. If someone can give me sound advice, while being relatable that’s great. If they can do those things and make me snort milk through my nose because I’m laughing so hard that’s just downright awesome. Except milk coming out your nose hurts. My advice, don’t read this while drinking milk. Also, don’t read this if easily offended. His jokes are not for the faint of heart.

Then, Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson. I kept picking it up and putting it down throughout the month. Not that I didn’t love it. I absolutely did. I was trying to put my finger on what exactly made me hesitate with this book. I landed on two things. First, it was pretty dark with a great battle brewing between good and evil, ethereal demons and some pretty ominously sinister things lurking just at the edge of consciousness. I absolutely love these features in a book because I find them extremely compelling. However, I will admit I get nightmares easily. The other thing was the fact that I am not a physicist. I wish that my brain worked that way, it just simply does not. Any of the chapters where Wilson began discussing more in depth sciency things, even if some of them were of his own invention, I got hopelessly lost. I pushed forward in spite of it and like to think I understood enough to get the gist of what was going on. As far as I can tell, what he did was pretty freaking brilliant. So I’m sure anyone that could follow what he was talking about when he got into the science bit would really love this book.

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My last two books this month were both audiobooks. First was You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. Oh boy, fan girling so hard over her. I knew a little bit about her before reading (uh, listening to) this book. Mostly her work with The Guild which I absolutely loved and could definitely relate to as having gone through a several year obsession with World of Warcraft. (I still itch to start playing again, but I’m terrified I would turn into Clara.) Now that I’ve gotten a peek inside of her head, I love her even more. She is so encouraging and inspiring! In spite of crazy addictions to videogames, simply being just a little bit weirder even than most weird people understand because of being homeschooled (which I can especially relate to haha) and crippling anxiety she has chosen to rise above and accomplish her dreams. I adore her and want to meet her someday. So very badly.

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The other audiobook was After You by Jojo Moyes. The follow-up to the very popular Me Before You. *Spoiler Alert* If you haven’t read the first book, don’t read this or I will give things away! * I almost didn’t read this one, because again. Romance. Ew. Well I did, because I thought, if an author can take the typical outline for a romance story and completely screw you over like she did in Me Before You, she’s bound to write another good one. Well she did. Moyes has succeeded in writing a story about a woman’s life and dealing with grief more than writing a romance. Romance features into her story yes, but it was more than that. Over-all it was the story about a woman finding herself, learning to fear nothing and embrace her life in spite of the terrible things that happen to her. Loved it.

Well, as Porky Pig says. “That’s all folks!”

What did you read in June?

What is in your To Be Read pile for this summer?

Old House That I Am

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What is my story, you ask? Well you may not believe it, but I was young once. So full of life. I stand here a ruined skeleton of what I once was. Once, I was full of love and happiness. Once, I held so much joy within my walls that I nearly burst.           

My people built me from the ground up. They were young and happy, newly married. Excited for their future. I remember their joy and laughter. I sheltered them, and helped them start their life together. I never knew of such love, and never dreamed that love could grow to something more.

Then they had babies. Their laughter and happy shouts echoed through the hallways and carried on the wind around me. They played and learned and grew up in all my rooms. They felt happiness, frustration, love and heartbreak within these walls. They learned how to climb the trees around me and jumped from their branches to my roof. I always caught them.

Those babies grew up and left the house. My people were saddened by the emptiness around them, but still they were happy. So was I. They carried on with their lives together, reading by the firelight or sitting in quiet contemplation. Contented by the love that I surrounded them with and the love they had for one another.

One day, the oldest of their children came back, and brought a baby of her own. I shared in the happiness of my people when they saw that baby for the first time.  

As time went on, all the children came back, grown and having their own families. They never stayed long but when they were all together, joy filled up the heart of this house.

Eventually all those children grew up too. They came to visit, but not as often. My people grew older and older, until one day, they had both left me. I know that they left to be in a better place, they would have stayed if they could. But I am alone. Their children came to see me after they had gone but they simply shook their heads and walked away with tears in their eyes.

Now I stand here by myself whether rain or shine. I stand tall against the harsh sun and gusts of wind. I have no one to keep me company anymore except for the squirrel who keeps his winter store in my attic. I am happy to lend shelter to him.

Oh, but I miss the laughter of children and the contented sigh of my people after a long day’s work. Comfortable in their chairs, while I shielded them and kept them warm. Far away from the dangers of the night.

I know I look a mess, but I promise I would make a good and happy home for you and your family. I need ever so much help to look as I once did, old house that I am. But, if you should choose to love me and care for me, you can bet that I will be the best house you ever had.

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