Friday, December 30, 2011

Books I Got For Christmas

If you're unaware for some reason, I really like books. HERE and HERE are some previous posts on books.

Now....For the big moment. The books I waited all of 2011 for. The books I'd find in Target, and sit in the aisle and read until people looked at me funny (Or, in some cases, books I'd see on Amazon, and never stop talking about):

From Top to Bottom:
Marya Hornbacher-Wasted (I'll get to meet her at AWP this year, hopefully)
The Pocket Muse; Writing prompts and things! SCORE!
Jennifer Brown-Hate List (This seems intense)
Daniel Quinn-If They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways
Gayle Forman-If I Stay (Finally!)
Lauren DeStefano-Whither (Finally!)
Gayle Forman-Where She Went (Yayy!!)

I am super excited about all of these books, but now I'm a little overwhelmed because I don't know where to start! But yay! I got books! Hope you guys got awesome stuff, too!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Change of Dialogue, New Paragraph

Okay, so I might be wrong about this. But, I also may not be.

I've been Beta Reading the last few weeks for about three people. Most have been stellar accounts, and small things to fix here and there, or me just adding suggestions or clever remarks like "Ohhh, I hope these two fall in love!" (Because I'm a nerdy romantic like that. And hey, a girl with commitment issues can still root for cute romances.)

But...the one that has come up in all three:

Change of dialogue, new paragraph.

What does this mean? (If you already know what this means, scroll down to the cute picture, because I haven't posted one recently.)

This means:
James said, "No, I don't want to date you. I'd rather vomit on your face." Change of dialogue, new paragraph. Sarah stepped back, "But James, I thought you loved me."

This is incorrect, my friends. Why? Because Sarah is not James. She is a different person.  So, this is how that should look:
James said, "No, I don't want to date you. I'd rather vomit on your face." 
Sarah stepped back, "But James, I thought you loved me." 

There are some instances where I'm not completely sure where the paragraph break is. In example, when one person talks, another reacts, but the first person continues talking. Most times, I still have that in the same paragraph. (It's one of those you have to be careful and gauge types of things. If all else fails, consult other writers/blogs, etc)  But as soon as the second person talks, new paragraph. Every time there is a new person talking, IT'S A NEW PARAGRAPH.


And a cute picture for you:
I went to go to sleep one night, and found this monster on my pillow. Adorable, no?

Friday, December 23, 2011


So...Sorry I haven't been updating too much, the real world has swallowed me again...and now I'm sick. So I'm just popping in to say:


Friday, December 16, 2011

Information Dumping

Before we get this going, I'd just like to tell you all that the only reason why I keep updating so regularly is because I've been getting sick of writing. Not actually, but...I like to space out. It's how I'm having a momentary lapse of ADD. Sorry.

Plus, this is how I'm usually writing..or his head is right in my lap. Right now, we're on the bed.

Anyways, so this is another round of advice from PNWA.

The Book Doctor talked about the Information Dump (Gahhh, run away screaming!!!!) which takes the reader out of the novel. Why does it take the reader away from the novel?

Jamie and Sarah are having a huge fight. Just as Jamie goes to ball her first and strike....
She thinks back to the time when she was five years old, and skinned her knee. Don't worry though...her mom came to put a band-aid on.
BAM. The fist hits Sarah.
(Get it? Don't give your characters ADD)

The information dump occurs when:
*We are too lazy to be creative
*We are too lazy to write another ten pages, strewn about the novel, and letting people in
*We decide to give back-story at the wrong time
*We're telling rather than showing

An example of the information dump (this is real life, by the way. This was actually in Igniting a Firestarter, in the first five pages nonetheless. No wonder it kept getting rejected!):

Typically Mirrors try to have minimal contact with Firestarters because we can char and burn right along with the flames they throw at us  We can feel their insides, we can absorb their fires. It hurts to be around them. The other down side about being a Mirror is that sometimes, rather than deflecting the attack, we reflect it. We are supposed to be healers. Sadly, most times Mirrors interact with Firestarters we harm them. It’s safer if we adhere to avoidance. Even a hand wave can have repercussions.
When you’re born you’re assigned to your legion. A tattoo is placed on your right foot and inside your left wrist bearing your symbol, your coven, if you will. Generally, your powers are determined by genetics, but sometimes bastards emerge. These complexities can arise from parents sleeping around or an anomaly, but either way, they exist.  Rather than showing you what happens, say...using an interaction between the two different types, I just dumped this on you.

So, now...I have to go through this entire effing novel and cut the heck out of it.

Give examples, friends. It's easier to show the first time around than go through 200+ pages and try to come up with ways to show people what you're talking about.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


If you're writing Young Adult novels...there are usually some guidelines to follow. Mainly the length guideline.

Most YA novels fall (from what I've read) between 60,000 words and 100,000 words. The good news is, if you're a little over, or a little under that's usually okay. But try to aim for those guidelines. I've heard that 40,000 is usually too short, and over 100,000 is usually way too long...but we're writers.

There are always exceptions to the rules.

Usually when I start writing, 60,000 is my end goal. Sometimes, I fall a little short of that, but that's okay...rough drafts (for me) are usually significantly shorter then the ending product. But it's nice to hit 30,000 words and say "I'm half way done! Wooo!"

So, as of today, I've finished My Sister's Memories (woo! Huray, my NaNoWriMo project is finished!), however, I'm at 54,338 words, approximately 200 pages. Which even to me, feels a little short. (There is one more scene I technically need to write in, but I'm really tired right now, and I can feel my creative juices dwindling). The good news is, a round of editing will probably give me about another 10,000 words.

Just wanted to pop in and tell you guys I finished, and throw some length guidelines out there for those of you who weren't aware of them.

Have an awesome night!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Character Christmas Party

Sarah Belliston was hosting a giveaway that involved blogging about what your characters would want for Christmas, and though I may be a little bit late for the contest (it had to be in by today, so I'm not sure if posting today means I have an entry, but I may as well try and harass her anyway), I thought it sounded like an awesome blog prompt...So....

Novel being written, My Sister's Memories:
Sarah would want nothing more than for her sister (Allie) to get her memory back. Ideally, she'd like to reverse time and make it so the accident never happened and have everything normal again...but she's getting to the point she can accept the, the people have stopped staring in the hallways at school, so...
Now, she just wants her sister to remember her life. That's all.

Allie would want her memory back, too....but unlike her sister, she's starting to throw the towel in. So, rather than the intangible, she'd like anything that's neon colored, or shiny. The cool thing is, both descriptions can fit into a frisbee to play disc golf with. Or, if she can't have any of that...she'd like to at least start remembering that cute guy...shit..what was his name again?

Jordan would like both Allie and Sarah to just be happy. And maybe his sister, Melanie. She's already lost one friend this year and she still seems to be struggling with it....but Allie and Sarah were hit the hardest. If that's not a possibility, then he'd really like Sarah to attend his college next year. Like, he'd really...really like that. And then...if neither of those are possible....he'd like some video games for the next time Sarah gets drunk and beer tears at his apartment. (He's kidding, he's kidding....sort of....)

I'd write about my novel that's currently in the agent game, but it's in the agent hopefully ya'll will be able to read it and tell me what you think they'd like.  (By the way, wouldn't that be an awesome giveaway for when I get published? Tell me what you think these guys would like and get *Fill In The Blank* from me! Yay!!!)

Anyways, hope you guys are doing well! Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Reality Check III: My Generation

Note: Today is not a writerly blog. It's a personal "Here is what I think" blog. Read at your own risk.

I live in the Occupy Wallstreet generation. 

Today's world is terrifying; there is war, rape, murder, muggings, vandalism. The horrifying list just goes on. People blame my generation, all the time. They look at all of us like we're criminals already. They look at people like me, people with lip and eyebrow rings like we're filthy. (Okay, sometimes I forget to shower or don't want to...but for the most part, I'm pretty clean.) 

But really this is the type of person I am;
I hold the door for people. 
I tell people to have a good day.
I may forget to say please but I always try to say thank you.
I go up to strange dogs and pet them because they're cute. 
I put myself through college and obtained a degree in Medical Biology, even when everyone told me to quit because "You're not good at it".
I bought my own car, my first car, without a co-signer at the age of 22, because I left my mom's house when I was 16.
I am the type of person who doesn't usually lock their doors.
I will pick up hitchhikers if it's cold.
I have tattoos, and I have piercings.
I hate hate words, gay bashing, and judging people for what they cannot control.
I WILL defend the underdog (and have almost gotten my ass kicked for it). 

Yesterday while working at the mountain a guest got on my case about picking up hitchhikers because I'm a girl, and in today's society it's not safe. 

It's not safe because we make it not safe. Things happen to people; cars break down, people have to get from point A to point B. I pick up hitchhikers because I believe in the whole "Be the change you wish to see in the world" (~Gandhi). If I were to need to hitchhike, I'd like to think that people like me will be willing to pick me up. When I leave my car unlocked, I try not to panic, because I'd like to think that there are people like me who just walk from their car, into the store, without wanting to break in and steal a GPS. 

My generation is full of unrest. 
We're sick of people stomping on our dreams. We're sick of people telling us to live in reality because we aren't thinking straight. We're sick of hearing about child abusers in the churches and in the schools. We're sick of domestic abuse that goes unreported, because we grew up in those households; I grew up in that household. We're sick of hearing about rape, and murder. We're sick of being the victims of rape and abuse. We're sick of having to lock our doors. We're sick of being afraid to walk the streets at night.

But we don't know how to make this stop, how to make this change. So we camp out, and we protest because we don't know what to do anymore. 

We are the revolution. 
Get ready. Things will change. 

If you don't believe me here are some songs:
City High~City High Anthem
John Mayor~Waiting
Noah Gunersen-Jesus, Jesus
(I had more, but I can't seem to find them....either way, you get the idea)

"Reality's a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there" ~Owl City

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Skeleton Writing

When I write, I see the story in front of me. You know how when you read, you see the characters move and do what they're doing? It's like that for me when I write; I see the characters interact, what they do, where they go, what happens. I'm in the room with all of these people (which is probably why I fall in love with the guy characters and become really good friends with the girl characters). I'm seeing everything that happens as though I'm there with them. (It's probably why I have such a difficult time with telling rather than showing...).

So, as I write, I write the really basic skeleton. When I finish, there are really basic words, really simple sentences. Originally, Character Defects finished at 73,000 words or so. After a couple of rounds of editing, it's holding strong at 86,000 words. I write this way because it allows me to write fast, and crappily, but have my ideas fully written out on paper. I have each scene written, I know EXACTLY where the story went. Plus, because I know it's weak writing, I have no qualms with completely deleting sections........usually.

An example of skeleton writing:
"And then Jake throws a rock. And then Jake is angry because it hit the tree...rather than the car he was aiming for" etc.  (Note: I promise you the writing isn't this basic, nor does it usually contain that amount of 'and's.) But these lines are what the story is made up of...all of the bones that will help it stand up strong, but at the core, it's missing the meat, the emotional pull of a really good novel.

Usually, it's missing the heart, too.

After the bones are written, I go through and fill in the meaty sections; starting usually with the digestive tract, because let's face it, the second draft is usually poo, too. (This made me really happy to write by the way.  I hope it at least made you smile.)

Round three is where I become the characters, where I see what they see rather than what I see. They're no longer another person, they're a part of me. I have to step into their shoes, feel what they feel when the best friend steals the boyfriend, feel when their bones break.

I can't seem to find the quote I was looking for but it basically says something like; If you don't tear up when you write, your reader won't cry when reading. Feel your work, know your work. It's fun to be someone else for a day. (Until you know, the climax of the story...then...we might all dive in over our heads, but that's why it's crazy fun, right?)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Show And Tell

I have a lot of problems with telling rather than showing when I write. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I write in the first person a lot....but part of it is that my brain just doesn't think that way (especially in the way rough draft).
Plus, until about four months ago, I didn't know what the hell people meant when they said, "Show, don't tell."

The Book Doctor at PNWA, whose name is escaping me, gave a badass example of what showing verses telling is.

I'll share this life altering information with you, with an example I'm gonna make up here on the spot.

Are you ready?
Here it is:

Baxter is the best dog, ever. (Of course I'd pick a Baxter reference.)

After we'd both undergone surgery, I went upstairs to take a nap. As per doctor's orders, Baxter stayed downstairs after taking some medication. Soon enough, I heard his paws clumsily making their way up the stairs. He staggered to the side of my bed. One paw at a time, he army-crawled onto my blankets, still careful not to be on me. Together we napped, him at my feet, me at my pillow.
When I woke up, blood started pooling out of my mouth. Though Baxter had just gotten his nuts chopped off, and was probably in pain himself, he saw (or smelled? You pick) the blood and started whimpering and nuzzling me until I pet him and told him I was okay.

Do you get the idea? I didn't just tell you Baxter is a ballin' dog, I showed you why. (This may be a kind of lame example, but it's a true one...and it may give you guys some insight as to why he appears so regularly on my blog :) ) The Book Doctor went through and explained examples of when it's appropriate to tell rather than show..but I don't remember when those times once I dig out those notes, I may post about that, too :)

Anyways, hope you guys have a great night. I'm gonna start falling behind on blogging again, I start my new job tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Trusting Yourself

I've gone through two days of hell. After day one, I woke up with what felt like a broken rib and realized that it was because I hadn't used those muscles in over a year. On day two, I panicked in front of my group. I had some votes of confidence, and I allowed myself to learn. The entire time I kept telling myself; I was made for this job, I was born to do this...because well, I am, I was.

This is actually a bad picture to use...I was really hurt in this picture...
After that, I took a day off so that my body could recover. I drank tea, I stayed in sweatpants all day, and I didn't shower. (I also finished my entire thing of mint Oreos, thanks for not judging :) .)

Today, I went back to the mountain, by myself, and snowboarded for two straight hours. And I did it hard. (And started singing some Ke$ha because of the line, "Tonight we're going hard...") While on the chair lift, I started thinking a lot about life, and the applications of snowboarding. I'm constantly terrified because I just had surgery. If I fall wrong, I'm not going to get back up...I'm afraid of turning wrong, of leaning too far...of everything.

The conclusion I came to then, is that writing is a lot like snowboarding. (For those of you who don't know, I've recently been employed as a snowboarding instructor, hence all of this mountain talk. If you're friends with me on facebook, it pretty much says that I like to snowboard and write. So...all of this is rather perfect.)

 There's a point where you stop being scared; where you turn your board out, and barrel down the hill.

After a point, you learn to trust your equipment, your legs (even if they still feel weak, even if you've just had surgery)...yourself. You trust that you know you well enough to know what you're doing. You trust that your board or your bindings won't just come apart. You trust the weather conditions, the mountains...the sport. And you go, because you're at the top of the mountain, and you need to get to the bottom.


No matter how good you are, how experienced you are, you never want to throw your body down a mountain. You learn what you're capable of doing and you do it. And you do it until you get bored, until you're ready to learn something new.

Yea, that's right, I work here. Be jealous :)

Writing is no different, my friends. 

You learn to write, and you do it until you realize something just isn't working, something isn't enough. Then you branch off; you start researching your art, you start calling it your art. You admit to being a writer, you're prideful of this fact. You make friends, establish yourself. You don't expect to be a rockstar, you stumble you fall, you get rejected. You don't throw yourself down the mountain (instead, you edit). You ease into it until you know what the hell you're doing.

And when everything falls together, until you can stand on any mountain and say "I own this," you continue along.

Writing isn't a race. Snowboarding isn't a race. Find your pace, and rock it. Maybe sing some Ke$ha if you're up to it. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Don't Be Afraid

Being human...well...kind of sucks. And here's why:

We have all of these emotions, all the time. There's never a time when you're not feeling something. Even if you're feeling blah, you're still feeling. But the worst thing (to me) is being afraid. (Now...start singing some Eminem, no, really, sometimes it helps.)

My sister and I thugging out. (I'm on the left, funny, no?)

Anyways, I hate learning new things. More-so, I hate admitting that I don't already know how to do something. Part of it, I think, is ridicule, "You don't know this?" like everyone on the planet already has this knowledge that somehow managed to elude me, that maybe I should have been born with it. Some of it is shame, like I should in fact already know these things... Some of it is just my typical anxiety. 

But, something I've learned over the last few months is to ASK for help. 

Don't be afraid. 

I got a Twitter account and had no idea how to use it. I thought it was like facebook, where you could like stuff and write on people's walls (profiles). Turns out, I was wrong. In the end, I asked one of my fellow employees how to use it. She gave me advice on how to post and get more followers, how to start conversations, what tags meant, etc. 

Once I was on twitter and rocking it, the entire universe expanded (although I still don't know how to schedule tweets...I'm still trying to learn that one..). 

I learned from Marilyn Almadovar, who I met on twitter, how to more efficiently utilize blogger. Did you know that you can schedule blog posts for the next day? Or a week later? Neither did I, so I asked and she taught me how to do this. (You go to post options, there's a little section that says "Schedule at:" I may or may not have been doing this all week.) 

From Janna Cawrse Esarey, I learned how to perfect my pitch which ended up getting me two agent partial requests. She hosted a panel at PNWA and stayed after, critiquing writer's pitches. But, in order to get help, I had to stop being afraid of her tearing me apart, and it turned out really well. (I made sure to find her by the end of the conference, buy her book, and thank her.)

A couple of months ago, I got an e-mail from a reader on the blog who saw that I'd written two novels in under 30 days, each. She asked if I had any tips on writing quickly, so my next blog post was about speed writing.  

Beyond that, if you just give a call out, "Hey I'm looking for a beta reader," sometimes people will respond. If not, what have you lost? Nothing, really.

Remember: It never hurts to ask, the worst a person can say is no. Most of us writers want to help out because we've all been there. (Just please, don't harass the agents or editors. It makes us all look bad...)

In other, unrelated news, I just finished an entire pack of Mint Oreo cookies in under 24 hours...more like 12 hours. Don't judge.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reality Check II: Do Your Research

In my last blog, I talked about the financial costs of conferences, which may lead to a follow up question: 

How the heck do we find conferences in the first place??

First, you need to figure out what you're looking for out of conferences.
*Finding new places to submit to?

I've found that there are conferences that are specific to what genre you're writing in, so that's kind of a jumping point. My sister is the one who got me into AWP. Before that, I didn't even know about writing conferences.

Some conferences actually give you time slots to meet with agents. This one was PNWA.

~I found out about PNWA through Vickie Motter's blog. For those of you not familiar with her, she's an agent who is on twitter and keeps an advice/review blog. On her blog, she posts the conferences she'll be attending which is helpful to writers like me who hope to meet her, and pitch to her.

~I found out about LeakyCon's Lit Day from Jennifer Laughran's blog.

Moral of the story is: find the agents you're interested in. Follow them; their blogs, their twitter accounts. They will usually say something about upcoming conferences, or some, like Ms. Motter, will have where she'll be for the next year. It's an easy way to find out about conferences you wouldn't have otherwise known about. (From there you can decide which ones are feasible, and which ones are out of the question.)

The coolest thing about conferences is that writing is infectious. Literally, I'll be sitting in a panel and have a million new thoughts to write about. The backs of my notebooks are FILLED with random stuff to start; poems, stories, ways to edit existing stuff. And then when there's a break, hit the bookshop to find other authors and literary magazines. It's a great place to talk to editors, authors, etc.

Kinda blurry, sorry. This is Kerry Cohen speaking. She's amazing.

Beyond that, TALK TO EVERYONE. Literally, every chance you get, introduce yourself. Sit next to people. Become the social butterfly you've always wanted to be. You don't know who you'll bump into. Seriously, from one of my conferences, I met a woman who offered to house me for a night because I'd been driving an hour each morning to the conference, and an hour each evening. She and I will be roommates at this year's AWP. At the same conference, I also met another person who housed me in Florida during Lit Day.

So, make a good impression and if you're serious about the game:

Everyone will ask, "What's your novel about."
Make sure you have an answer.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Reality Check

Being a writer is a costly endeavor. First, there's the computer, the software. After you get there, there's the hours you devote a day to writing a novel, a story, whatever. If you're one of the rarities (that I'm not sure really exist) that manage to get published in their first shot, then you don't really need to listen to my rant. But even if you are, you may want to. Because even after you get published, it's still about getting your name out there and spreading your fan base.

So let's take a reality check here. Here are some costs of writing conferences and memberships that help boost your bio section of the query letter, help you network, and let you meet agents and editors:

SCBWI Winter Conference:
(Registration is still open to those of you who can afford it!)
Early Registration:   Members- $360
Regular Registration:  Members- $385
SCBWI Membership:
1st Year: $85
Renewal Cost: $70

AWP Conference:
(This year it's in Chicago! See you there!)

Attendee CategoriesPre-registration
Nov. 1 - Jan. 23
On-site Registration
Feb. 29 - Mar. 3
Member +
1-Year AWP Membership

I love this conference because of their student price. This is one of the only conferences I've found that offer this option. It is the first conference I was ever able to go to, and the one I will go to probably the rest of my life.

LeakyCon Lit Day:
(Also in Chicago this year. Woot!)
Okay, If you want Leaky Con it's $200. They don't have the price up for just the lit day portion yet.

PNWA Membership:

  • $65 Regular Dues
  • $25 Full-time Student
I did not know that these guys offered a student discount. I will have to pass this information along. Either way, I belong to this program because, although I live across the country, I saved close to $100 by being a member. Plus, like I previously stated, it's a nice thing to add to your query bio.

PNWA Conference:
They're posting the information, but if I remember correctly, it was like $300-$400. This conference to me rocked my work, and somehow I was able to afford it. 

But look at these costs. I'm a recent college graduate. I own a dog. I work a minimum wage job. Even if I'm able to afford the conferences, if I don't have friends who reside in the cities these things take place, that's an additional $200ish/per night, as well as the cost to get there (depending on location $400+). 

So, another reality check:
*My rent is $425/month
*Car payment is $300ish (somewhat flexible)/month
*Two credit cards: $200/month
*Baxter (without Vet visit): ~$40/month
*Food: Too much, though I tend to stick with Beefaroni, Raeman, and RiceaRoni
Those costs alone make me kind of want to...curl in the fetal this:

In all fairness, this was taken after my first 2,000 ft tandem hang gliding flight

Bottom line: Money is a significantly limiting factor for me, what about you?

So some FREE advice because I like to ramble anyway:
Research the conferences. Find agents you would tear our your kidney and sell it on the black market for. Save up your money and go to those conferences. My college professor is the one who told me to go to AWP, and I am eternally thankful to her. Because of that conference, I started saving up money to go to more. I started writing again. 

If you have the money, they're so, so worth it. Not only for the agent-to-face time, but also for the panels, the authors, the networking, the free pens! 

It's a hard game. Money is just a piece we all play with, so play wisely.

Good luck!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Yay! Another Blog Award! for those of you who only know me virtually, not only am I an anxious person (see previous blog, float around through other posts...), I'm also really excitable.

Every time I get a new follower, I literally squeal and possibly jump up and down. It usually looks something like this:

God, these are terrifying pictures. I hope I didn't just scare you away...
So imagine when I get a manuscript request, or heck, even a free cookie. It's dangerous to be within a ten mile radius of my flapping arms.

Yesterday, I found that the lovely writer, Laura Barnes, gave me a blog award!!! Which resulted in the usual tackling of Baxter (who was resting peacefully beside me), and a giddy squeal (then I had to explain to my roommate who is like 60, possibly 70 years old what a blog award was).

So here's the award, and it's linked back to Ms. Barnes' blog:

If you're not aware  of how blog awards work, it's like this:
*You get one (Yay!). You can just take it, put up the pretty picture on your blog and do nothing else. That's up to you.
*You link the award back to the giver.
*You pick people to give it to.

She picked ten, so I'll do the same (in no specific order):

90% of these blogs are writing related. One I know in person, and I enjoy her blog because it's down to earth. Plus, I know her in real life, so that's fun, too :) Either way, these are the common blogs I try to pop in on at least once-twice a week...I hope you guys enjoy them, too.

*Once you've selected the fine bloggers, leave a comment on their blog and let them share in the giddy-ness. (I hope you guys get giddy, too)
*Some of the other blog awards have a series of questions so you can get to know the writer a little bit better...This one didn't come with any (yay!)...

But here are some fun facts about me anyway:

~I have the best dog in the world.
~I don't like to say that I own him, we're more like friends.
~I'm really caffeine intolerant, and it usually ends in a panic attack. But, after working at a coffee shop for a few months, I'm now also dependent.
~I'm a fast writer. I think. I'm not sure...people tell me I am. (If you go through my old posts, I have some tips on what I've dubbed speed writing.)
~I like cookies. A lot. Like...I eat a million a day.
~I like cold weather and snow..which works out since I just moved back to Maine.
~I really like Owl City's new album. Mainly because he has a song that says, "Reality is a lovely place, but I wouldn't want to live there"
~I hate TV
~I love music
~My car is a stick shift
~In the last month, I've been in two ditches (one ended up having to get towed out, the other pushed out)

That's all for now :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Practice Makes Perfect (Overcoming Anxiety)

If you're new to the blog, I'm going to direct you to these following posts to gain some background:

*Overcoming Anxiety    *Reading Out Loud      

As you'll see, I have a lot of anxiety. I'm constantly afraid of stepping wrong, saying something stupid, and then when I have an energy drink I all but freak out. (I should maybe consider stopping that, but it just tastes so good!)

New situations terrify me. I hate when I leave a job, because it means I'll have to get a new one, get re-trained, be ignorant for about a week until I get into the flow. I hate it...I like knowing what I'm doing, I like being good at everything I do. Any time I'm out of my element, I'm shaky, it's hard to breathe...and I want Baxter (who I may or may not be trying to train as an anxiety dog).

So just recently, I moved from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to the mountains of Maine. The move itself was making me anxious: will I have enough money? will we have a place to stay? will Baxter be okay? etc. It was relentless, but I kept pushing through it and kept going. And things worked out:

We got a house:

Yesterday, I had orientation in a room that looks like this:

If you've ever been to a conference, you'll recognize the set up.

So...I walk in eating some oreos. I drink too much coffee and start having a bit of an anxiety attack. The woman running orientation asks for four volunteers, and I find myself walking up. The entire time I was shaking, my heart was pounding so loud, I could barely hear her when she told me to read things out loud, but the bottom line is that it was practice. Maybe someday I'll host a panel, maybe even be in a panel. Maybe someday, I'll get to read my novel to a crowd the way I read stories at an open mic night.

When I finally got to sit down, I tried regaining my breath, but it took some time. But I'm proud of myself. Why? Because I did it. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone for about twenty minutes, in front of a bunch of people I didn't know. It's something I try to work on, pretty frequently.

As writer's we're going to be nervous, all the time. Querying agents, landing editors, getting our books published. And then the book tour, talking to fans, attending conferences...I'm preparing for this, all the time. Are you?

And as of tomorrow, I'm diving into being a snowboarding instructor. It's completely new to me. I don't know anyone, I'm not even sure my knee is ready for it, but this morning, I was able to kneel down for the first time since surgery. It was awesome. Painful, but awesome. It gave me the ray of hope I'd been looking for.

So, I'm going to keep pushing through, keep pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, all the time. And every once in awhile, I'll stop..

This is the view just down the street from us :)

and be reminded that even with anxiety, this is a really good life :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ending NaNoWriMo

So, today is the last day of November, how'd your NaNoWriMo projects turn out?

Me? Well, I started writing My Sister's Memories way late in the game. And I mean..wayyyy late in the game. I started this project on November 11 (I only know this because I just checked), rather than November 1st. As stated in previous blog posts, I've been rather busy...Yuck.

Over Thanksgiving I wrote a decent amount, which was really nice. While the Penet family was watching football, I was usually physically present in the room, but hanging out with my characters. Baxter for awhile was chilling on my lap, napping, and I was typing away. (Actually, as I write this, he's laying next to me..thankfully rather than ON me.) I easily wrote 10,000 words over Thanksgiving before having to take close to a week long break that involved leaving VA, going to MD, getting stuck in a horrific traffic jam in CT, stopping in MA, and finally arriving in ME.

Oh, also this month I managed to put my car in the ditch not once but TWICE, and run over something huge in the highway that managed to rip out my O2 censor (my check engine light is STILL on). Nonetheless, I press on.

Tonight is the first night I've been able to pick back up, and I've almost written 4,000 words. It's been difficult because my new roommate keeps trying to talk to me, and there's a basketball game on the TV, plus, I have just natural ADD...

With the end of the night coming in about 15 minutes, I'm hoping to wrap up my NaNoWriMo Project at 20,000 words, and then have it actually done sometime in December. So far, I'm really, really liking the story.

I'll keep ya'll posted on my progress.

Happy end of NaNoWriMo! :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


It was Thanksgiving and I had plenty to be thankful about this year. It is very rare that I am left completely speechless by the people I'm surrounded by, but this year, the people I've met have helped save me. I owe my life and sanity to a lot of them and there is no way to repay them except to keep pushing on, keep being better, keep healing.

With that said, I am now in Maine. Woodstock, Maine to be exact. It's in the middle of nowhere. Actually, that's kind of a lie. It's perfect

No one pronounces their 'R's. It's charming, I've missed it
It's away from civilization
There is plenty of room for Baxter
I can see the mountains all around me
There is snow
Baxter is with me
The house is constantly cold (I LOVE cold weather)
There is a lake and stream near me as well
It'll give me time to heal from surgery, from the tolls of the real world
I get to snowboard for a living

So, December is coming. And training for my job is coming up. I'm anxious about it, about how well my knee has healed, about the rest of me...

But before I let that swallow me. I'm going to think about right now, and right now...we're all moved in, and we're settling. I gotta remember to take one step at a time.

We'll get back to writerly blogs soon enough :)

Hope your turkey day rocked! Oh--How did your NaNo projects finish up? I'm just under 20,000 words, and I'm damn proud of it given the fact that I've moved twice, traveled to Maine twice, had surgery, recovered, etc...It's been a difficult month, but I can't wait to finish my novel!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What Now?

I get to a point when I'm writing that I see the end (sort of) and something in the middle (sort of) but I've just written myself into a hole. Literally, I'll be writing and thinking "Yea, I got this, look at how fast I'm writing," and before I know it, I'll sit there at the screen and think, "Shit, what now?"

Sometimes I'm able to just play on facebook or twitter for a bit and get myself and my characters out of it, but sometimes the hole swallows me and it takes a little bit more to get out.

It's usually at that point I just keep asking "What now? What happens next?" It's also usually here that the crappy, quick, incoherent writing comes out so I can get back to the good stuff. But I'm okay with that. I'm okay with writing poorly. When I was at PNWA one of the panelists said something along the lines of, "Most everything you write is going to be crap. And that's okay." That's kind of the mindset I have. It's understood, you have to write crap to be able to write well. Me? My first draft is ALWAYS crap. Second draft is like mixed soft serve ice cream. Some of it's good, some of it's bad. final draft is what I start sending to agents.

But before all of that, before the draft is even finished, how do you go from being stuck in a hole, to crawling out? For me, I take time away. It's why for the more shallow holes I can go just play on some other media source. Sometimes that'll trigger something, or just allow my brain to slow down and stop getting frustrated. If that doesn't work, I step away from it. I go out with friends, take Baxter for a walk.

As you'll see, sometimes he just really wants to go...

If when I come back, I'm still stuck...I know I have to start writing again. (It happens sometimes, that I take too much time away from the work, don't think about it enough...etc. Oops!) The biggest thing that helps me is going back, sometimes only a couple of pages, sometimes all the way to the beginning and re-reading, getting re-acquainted with the roots of the story. I always find something I can add or take out. Once I catch up to the last line I'd written, I remember where I was, plus, I just added in that whole section (holy crap! 2,000 words! Yes!). Seriously, that happens sometimes.

This is why I'm not a plotter. Because as I write the story, it evolves, and I'm able to go back and make it stand for itself. Sure, sure, I have an idea when I start the story, I have situations I know I'll want to write in.'s connecting the dots and just going with the flow where the real writing (for me) comes in.

Happy NaNoWriMo!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why We Love Characters

I fell in love with Bella Swan (shh don't tell anyone) because she had flaws. She has low self esteem. She trips over crap all the time. She's plain. Those are things I took away from the Twilight Series. 


Because -I- have low self esteem. Because I trip over crap, all the time. Literally, plus, now that I'm off crutches (YAY!!) I step wrong, and scream out in pain. To the point a boy this last weekend linked his arm through mine and escorted me inside (which was wonderful). I love Bella because I'm plain. I too wouldn't think I would deserve Edward Cullen. 

So think about it. Why do you watch the shows you watch? Why do you fall in love with characters in books?

At PNWA, I did my pitch. I would see editor's and agent's eyes light up when I talked about a 17 year old girl who was abused by her parents, who was stand-offish...who moves out of her parents house with no direction. But--she is sure to take her teddy bear with her. 

It's the quirks we fall in love with. The ordinary, the comical problems that they have, that we can relate to. The flaws that they hide from the rest of the world, but they expose to us.

How's your character development coming? Why would people love your character? Why do -you- love your characters?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taking Things For Granted

I drove to Maine last weekend, and during one of the training segments, the wonderful people at Sunday River had us draw random things to coach the group on. Things like:

How to brush your teeth
How to shower
How to put on a pair of pants/snowboarding boot/ski boot
How to tie a shoe
Doing Jumping Jacks

It gave me the moment to think about how once we learn something we just go on auto pilot and don't consider how much effort goes into routine things.

So now, I had surgery on Wednesday. I've been on crutches ever since. Today is my first day without them, and I have a severe limp. I have to concentrate on the exact placement of my footing because if I step wrong I usually scream out a curse word and stop motion for a solid five minutes. This week I've learned that I take things like; walking, being able to carry a plate, bowl, cup, take my dog down stairs, etc for granted. I've never given much thought to what I physically am able to do, or how much effort I put into daily life until now.

Tie this all into writing now. Writing a poem or short story is like learning to tie your shoes, brush your teeth. There's something that needs to be said, and you say it. Then tackling a novel is like learning to walk. You have to go from point A (the beginning) to point B (the end). Every time I've written a novel I take these steps for granted and expect the story to carry itself. I think it's why now I'm grateful to have gone to PNWA, AWP, and LitDay where they spoke about the ability to show and not tell. It's like coming off crutches, something that carries the story until the story can carry itself.

So, good luck and keep writing, keep walking :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


So...let's be honest here....I still haven't started my NaNoWriMo project. I have ideas rolling around in my head, I have a semblance of a plot in there, but I haven't opened a word document in a long, long time. Why?

In the last month, my entire world has fallen apart. Then, I've had two surgeries (one was actually today). I'm recovering from both (no worries, they were quick, expecting a full recovery from both). I've traveled from North Carolina to Maine...about 1,000 miles. I had a job interview, put my car in a ditch...etc. I'm trying to find a place to live up there. I'm stressed out...which means...

A lot of vegitating on the couch and rediscovering the show 24 on my friend's Netflix. Also--I'm homeless in North Carolina...which is terrifying. None of this is conducive to wanting to take on a project of another novel. Will I write another? YES. Do I have time for it now? Maybe.

The goal is to start tomorrow. But I'm going to give myself some leeway. Why? Because this is real life and it's not as neat as I'd prefer it to be.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

14 Hours Later

I drove from North Carolina to Maine yesterday. The 12ish hour trip turned into a 14ish hour trip due to a two hour long traffic jam in the middle of Connecticut...

At midnight.

Needless to say, when I arrived in Biddeford, I was exhausted...and passed right out. Since I woke up, it's been constant motion, which is also exhausting.

However, some good came from this long drive. The first thing was the cementing of my NaNoWriMo project, which in my head is being called My Sister's Memory. I haven't started it yet, but I had 14 hours to come up with the plan and I've told a couple of people about it and they said go, so I think I will. I have the drive home (tomorrow) to give it further thought. Maybe then I'll start writing...and speed writing at that.

A few hundred years ago my sister bought me a voice recorder that somehow disappeared within the last year (which sucks because I had a lot of ideas on it...). Because I no longer have it on hand, and it's not safe to write and drive, I will call my voicemail box and leave myself messages something like:

"Lynne, this is Lynne. Here's what you're thinking of for a story."

It sounds weird, but it helps when I wouldn't have another way of remembering.

The second good thing about the duration of the trip was how much music I got to just sing my little heart out to. Some of my favorites were: Adele, A Day To Remember, Taylor Swift, and Our Lady Peace. 

The third good thing about the trip was that I just had a lot of alone time with myself. It's nice sometimes to be trapped in a car, with you and only you, and give a lot of thought to what you're doing with your life/what you want to be doing. I feel like it's a re-centering of myself.

Needless to say, I enjoy long car rides :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Welcome, NaNoWriMo

A few weeks back, there was a YaLitChat about this, and I had no idea what they were talking I bailed out. Everyone was talking about it, but no one was explaining it.

It wasn't until I read Becky Wallace's blog post that I started understanding what the hell NaNoWriMo was. Basically it's National Novel Writing Month. Which means, as of yesterday tons of writers across the country (globe?) are participating. Which means, you have through the month of Novemeber to write a stellar story. I haven't been able to start quite yet due to things like:

A trip to Maine tomorrow

But I've been mulling over some thoughts and hopefully will be able to bust out another novel. (Even though some of the others still need work....shh..don't tell anyone).

Anyways, good luck writing this month!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nudging Agents

You know how when you apply for a new job, you wait about a week for the employers to look over your resume, your application, and then you call and ask for the manager, and call, and call, and harass and then get hired?

Landing an agent is NOT like that.

A writer friend of mine and I were chatting today and she has several partials out in the world that she's waiting to hear back from. It's been about three months, and we discussed what to do. Some people say "Never nudge the agent!" some say "A little nudging is okay". I agree with the ladder. But there are things to consider:

**On the agency website, they usually have a section where it says "Query response time: 2-4 weeks, Partial: 4-8" etc. Make sure they've had it for x-length of time before contacting them
**After you've deemed that they've had it for x-length of time and one day, contact them via e-mail. Phone attacking is usually a poor life decision and freaks out agents (or so I've read on their blogs... :) ).
**In said e-mail, be sure to include name of novel, the fact that you're nudging after the allotted response time, and what your novel was about (essentially re-sending the query letter so they know what you're talking about)
**Thank them

I've only ever nudged an agent once, it was a brief, "Hi. A few months ago you requested --Novel Name-- from me. Your agency guidelines say response time is X-LENGTH OF TIME and it's a little after that. My novel is about QUERY LETTER, and I was just checking in to see if you've had the chance to review it. Thank you again for your time."

I've read some agency blogs that say nudging is okay. I also understand that agents get busy and sometimes bogged down in the slush pile. Don't be overbearing. This isn't like trying to get a job at a Target, there is a lot of waiting involved, and professionalism. If you get antzy, start writing something new, get your mind off things.

But if you're asking how to handle editors who have partials....I have no idea. I'm still learning about how to handle those situations.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fear Journal

My sister last year got me Journalation, a book that has tips and things like that to keeping a journal. I still haven't gotten very far into it, but one of the things I picked up was when journaling to write a few things at the top of the page:

Date (I always write the date. If I don't, there's usually some significance why. I'm probably hiding something)
Location (Where are you? What are you doing? Are you with anyone? Why are you here? Music on?)
End writing time

And so, I kept my regular journal for a couple of months, daily lists of random crap I did through the day. Usually things of non-importance but I did like keeping track of who I interacted with through the day. (I have a really bad memory and these things would be lost otherwise.)

Then something happened and I started falling a little off kilter. I found a composition notebook that Laura had given me before I'd started college. I'd been saving it and bringing it along everywhere because I knew someday I'd need it. So, I started a Fear Journal. When I would start worrying about something, I'd write about it and specifically track what I was afraid of, possible outcomes, then probable outcomes. Entries are far between, usually once a month, maybe less. (I lost the journal in my trunk for a long while.)

Just recently, I've been writing just about every day. Today, I asked Laura if I could read her my entry from yesterday though it was a million pages long. She sat on the phone with me while I read. There's something nice about reading out loud, it allows you to detach if you just focus on the words and not the fact that something horrific has just happened to you. There was one point during the reading I almost cried, but I kept it together. Her response?

"That....was intense. I know someday you're going to write about this...."

Which I found funny, because hadn't I just written about it?

This is kind of my point. As a writer, we channel a lot of energy through our writing. I keep journals and write when things become too much because it's like releasing it. It can't eat me from the inside out if it's on paper. I try to write when wounds are fresh because it's much more honest and someday when I come back to it, I can face it again and turn it into a story of some sort. I don't have a lot of coping mechanisms, but writing is by far one of the strongest ones I have.

And so....when you're scared or overwhelmed, what do you do?

Bottom Line?
Fear. Nothing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

You And Your Characters

Do you ever learn from the plight of your characters? Do they ever shape you into a better person, like "Man, if he/she went through this, I can totally go do this!"?

My life is wigging me out a bit right now (sorry about the week long absence, I've been swallowed by something much bigger than's taking a lot to keep me sane right now). Either way, I've written things about my characters that I'd never experienced first hand...but I'd watched friends go through it. And suddenly, now it's happening to me, and I can't help but to feel:

*Bad for putting my characters through it
*Bad because I don't want to deal with it myself
*Weirded out that I had written about it, and now it's happening
*Like...this almost can't be real life, you know?

So...I'm kind of clinging to the strength I wrote for my character, I mean....-I- wrote the way she is, obviously I have some understanding of her strength or what this takes.

So what about you guys? Do you ever draw from your characters? Do they ever help make you more sane?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Writers put a lot of stock into their character's settings...but what about their own?

I used to watch the show October Road (which is terribly depressing, be warned if you get into it. Oh--and they cancelled it, like mid-second season. Jerks). the main character is a writer, and in the first episode, he goes back to a place he used to live and asks if he can take a look around. The woman at the door (pleased that he's an author) is all "Please, please come in. It's the place you were once happy, of course you have to visit it again." And he stands there for a second...considering, "Was this really where I was happy" and thus the show began...him actually going home, seeing the girl he abandoned after graduating high school, etc, etc, etc. you write when you're happy? Do you get writer's block when you're upset?

Personally, I think I write better/more eloquently when I'm upset...more-so vengeful and pissed off. I once wrote a really intense murder scene after a fight with my sisters, because they were being buttheads. I don't think you need to be happy to write, but maybe...just maybe setting does have something to do with it.

Do you consider where your computer goes? Which light fixtures you use? Are you comfortable....

and once you are...

do you ever change it?

There's something strangely healing about stepping out of your comfort zone. Some day, when I live by myself again, I fully intend on locking Baxter in a room (sorry buddy, you don't need to see this) and trying to write naked. I mean, why not? I've heard of writers doing crazier things. This would be huge for me --I hate being naked....even stepping out of the shower--. But--could I write like this? I mean, isn't writing already exposing yourself quite a bit?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Glorious Book Sales

Where I live, twice a year (or so), they have these book sales. And I mean book. sales.

The last time I was able to go to one, they allowed me to fill up an entire paper bag of paperbacks for $5. Solid. Not $5/book, $5 flat for like...30 books. And then they discounted the hardcovers I got.

Today, the deals weren't as stellar, I ended up spending $30, but I still got some excellent books. Not nearly as many, but by the time I got out of work the pickings were slimming down. Nonetheless, I am very pleased.

So this is where I turn the tables over to you:

Where do you like to buy books? Hands down, these sales and day after Thanksgiving sales are where I go. Or, you know, used bookstores or thrift stores. What about you guys?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sink Or Swim is messy. You let people in, you get hurt (cue sound tech for debbie downer It's a viscous cycle. But you have two choices when the world gets you down:

(In all fairness, this isn't a real sinking picture. This is a heartwarming picture, my good friend Jen is a wee bit of a crier. This day, I had thanked her for being a good friend while she was housing me in Seattle.)

Or Swim
This is Murdock, my friend Stephanie's dog. She lives in Florida. My not a water dog.

There are times when it's okay to grieve and to hurt, and to be sad. It's okay to cry, to punch things... It's normal and acceptable to just lay in bed.

This is my water fearing baby, Baxter :) Just for you J.A. :)

But, if you're able to weather the storm, whatever it may be, you'll have a better tomorrow.

Jen and I after having a fantastic day and getting ready for an even better night
Something I've learned is that as writers, we feel...quite a bit. I think we may feel more than most people in the world, and that's okay. Give yourself time to function, to heal...and then get back to venting; writing. Life is what teaches you your stories.

Keep your head up, for any of you who are having bad days. Take care of yourself. Things take time, healing takes time.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Life, It Gets In The Way Sometimes

Hey guys,
Sorry I've been absent this week. Things went crazy (I went crazy). When things calm down I'll try to find something clever and witty to blog about. Or maybe a cute picture of Baxter or something, we'll see.

Sorry again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Banned Books Week: September 24-October 1

I'm not really a person for rules and regulations, or being told what to do. I don't like that one of my three jobs requires that I to wear my hair down to hide my eyebrow rings and then stud my lip ring. I also don't appreciate being told that I can't wear an actual RING for my lip at another place of employment. I try to veer away from jobs that mandate "No visible tattoos" (mine is easily covered by my watch, but it still bothers me) or that I have to "Look clean" (What does that even mean, anyway? What ever happened to no shower Fridays?). It makes me feel like they're forcing me be someone I'm not..It makes me unGodly uneasy. 

I like being able to make decisions for myself, be able to look the way I want to, do the things I want to. I don't think people should fit into certain molds that society creates, I don't like capital punishment or speed limits....I don't like things being off limits. It just kind of bugs me. One of the big ones that gets to me is banned books.

As Banned Books Week continues in full swing, I was kind of starting to wonder: 

Do you ever find the list, and read books off of it just to feel rebellious?

I did (maybe still do :) ). 

As a teen, I felt some form of vindication when I'd read the list and come find that a book that I'd loved was there, on the damn list. After that vindication, I'd feel anger. Overwhelming anger; who are these people trying to keep these amazing books out of kid's hands? More importantly, the question I kept falling back to was WHY? Why on earth are these pages so offensive to people that they wouldn't want them supplied in libraries, in schools? 

To this day, I still don't really understand why people ban books, or burn them. (Okay, some know, hate literature. I'd burn that quick.) But books, wonderful, character evolving books. Sure, at the start of the story, they can be racist, and there may be awful words....but what if at the end, the character learns that people really are equal, that hate doesn't solve anything? Why would we keep this from kids? Why would we keep these lessons from PEOPLE? Even if the character doesn't arc well enough to learn their lesson, as a parent, teacher, person...why not engage with the person reading the book;

Did you like it?
Do you agree with the way this character thinks?

Dig deep, give advice. Books give a great platform for launching conversations. Every time I see someone with a book, I ask what they're reading, if they like it, what it's about, if they're on GoodReads..etc. (It might just be because I'm a huge nerd....) 

But what if these stories help save someone? Why would we keep this hidden away?

Anyway, I pulled up the lists for the 90s HERE and the 00s HERE. Here are some of the books that either I've read or currently own and will read some day:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
The Giver, by Lois Lowry
My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous (My teacher, Mrs. Watchorn totally made me write up a permission slip for my mom to sign so I could read this book so she could have a clean conscious. It is an amazing book...)
Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (Side note, may have almost cried the day I found out he died. I loved this man)
The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline Cooney
Where’s Waldo?, by Martin Hanford
The Drowning of Stephen Jones, by Bette Greene

00s (Without the titles mentioned above)
His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman 
Snow Falling on Cedars, by David Guterson 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini 
Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Green 
Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold 
Cut, by Patricia McCormick 
Grendel, by John Gardner

Moral of the story is, I love books...Like I love them. When I get published, I'd like to some day make it on the banned books list, because I will then I feel like it'd cause me to write more, and more. I'd be on a stupid list with a lot of other amazing authors and best yet, PEOPLE. 

So, to those of you who read what's banned:

Keep reading strong.
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