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 exceptions....like...you 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.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Positivity ; Pass It On

As promised months ago (okay, maybe A month ago)...More wisdom coming at you from PNWA:

Chances are that by this point in the conference I was exhausted; whether it was due to the fact I'd just flown across the country (Literally, North Carolina to Seattle), the fact I hadn't really been sleeping more than three hours, the fact that the conferences were so in depth that I couldn't focus....But I'm not sure.

Honestly, I can't remember the panel, or who I was surrounded by. I can't remember what I wore that day, or really, what day it was. But this day...my life kind of took off. (No, really, this was life changing advice for me, if it's not for you, then it's not for you and leave it at that :) ).

We're adults now. We can pick and choose who we associate with. Whomever was speaking at this moment told the crowd, "From here on out, only associate with people who will help propel your career, not bring it down."

Amazing advice, no?

Here's why I LOVED this.

There will ALWAYS be people wanting to latch on to you for what you can give them; if you work in retail, "Hey, can I use your discount?" If you work at a coffee shop, "Free drinks? Free coffee?" People are greedy, it's part of nature. I'm not going to lie, I'm greedy, I've used people in the past. But there are people who just take, and take, and never give back. Then...

There are those who take, and give. These are the people you want to find. These are the people willing to critique pages for you, if you do pages for them. They're willing to read your query, if you read for them. They don't want anything more or anything less. They want to offer help, and receive help.

Then there are those people already in the industry who can't critique for you, but they can offer advice. People like Janna Cawrse Esarey, a presenter (and author) at the conference who stayed well after her allotted time to help the newbies like me with their pitches. People like Kerry Cohen, Rebecca Rasmussen, Zu Vincent, and James Frey who tell you that you have something, and to just not give up. 

Branching out a little further, I've kind of taken this advice and put it toward a lot of what's been happening in my life. Within the last month or two, I was being treated poorly by a person who said they wanted to be my friend. After PNWA (literally, days later), I was talking on the phone and came to the realization that I was better than what I was receiving. I blatantly told the person, "Hey, I don't deserve to be treated like this. If you are going to change the way you're treating me, then I'd be happy to keep you in my life. If not...Well..It's not a real loss then, is it?" (I was then called a dumb bitch and hung up on. Point proven? I think so.)

Moral of the ramble is, you choose who you talk to. You choose the relationships you have to people. If they aren't nice, and they aren't supportive, you don't need them. (This is not just for writing, either). People should accept you the way you are, even if you want to some day find Atlantis, because dammit, if you set your dreams high enough, you'll reach em. (Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise). 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blog Award, And Other Fun Things!

It was awhile ago....It seems actually to be July to be exact...But the lovely J.A. Bennett gave me the Blog On Fire Award, and I haven't properly taken the time to redistribute, nor thank. So, Ms. Bennett, thank you for the award.

I honestly don't know how these things work....but it seems most people have posted the picture of the award or what not...so I guess I'll do that:

And then I hear that you're supposed to answer some random questions? I'm not sure, but it kinda seemed like fun and I don't have anything else to say today....so here I go:

1. Are you a HOT rutabaga? Describe yourself in two words:
Pet friendly? I don't know....I don't really have anything to say here, but I do love pets...

2. When was the last time you ate lion meat?
Umm....In a past life probably. But I'm not so sure sea turtles are into that kind of thing...I know they eat weird crap...but lion meat? Really? Maybe not in a past life....

3. Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile.

This was in 2007...my sisters, all of them and I took a trip in Michigan to the other side of the state. It was amazing. I love all of them.

4. What songs would be playing when you go back in time to beat the crap out of someone, and who, may I ask, would be this someone unfortunate enough to be in your time traveling dimensional line?
Probably something by Rise Against, or Silverstein. They're pretty angry. Or something like..really silly. If you've ever seen that part in Dirty Work, the G SEVEEEENNNNN! Dude, you just pushed G8 "If you like pina coloadas, and getting caught in the rain". Yea...I could see that happening to me.

5. Name one habit you want to change in yourself because it makes people plot your demise.
I have a bit of a temper.....(Shh...don't tell anyone)

6. How many goats, stacked atop one another like Yertle's Turtles, would it take to reach the moon?
I'd say fourteen. But I'd prefer that before we tested this theory...we asked the goats for their permission.

8. Where da muffin top at? 
Yea...no. I don't even get this one..

9. Do you have nicknames?
I have a million of them. The one I hear the most frequently is Knee-Cap. Thank you, Elizabeth. 

10. What the fudge were you thinking as you were doing this?
That Hancock is playing in the background, and Will Smith is smokin hot? A little bit of that, and he (Hancock) has some clear anger problems...I like him.

And now I hear this is the fun part. Getting to tag people. I think Ms. Bennett chose four people, so I will, too:

1) Ms. Marilyn Almodóvar  @ Writing on the Sunny Side of the Street

2) Ms. Peggy Eddleman @ Will Write For Cookies

3) Ninja Girl @ Ninja Girl Reads

4) Ms. Becky Wallace @ What's Your Thought On That? 

So there you have it. My first blog award. 

Thanks again :) Sorry it took me so long to respond! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I believe in half-birthdays. What is a half birthday, you may ask? A half birthday is 6 months from your real birthday. In example, my birthday is in April. My half birthday is in October. Those who know me well, will usually take me out to dinner or buy me some small trinket (lip gloss, shampoo once...etc). It's a reason to celebrate being alive, to get together with people. It's one extra day to be happy about an otherwise average day. 

I believe in real birthdays. My sisters and I are pretty big on birthdays. We try to decorate, we try to surprise. The day you were born is pretty spectacular, no? Shouldn't the day you turn 10, 32, 86 be spectacular as well? We try to make it so people have good birthdays, memorable birthdays. My old roommate told me a year or so after we'd parted ways, "I wish I still lived with you. It was my birthday, and there were no decorations." Oh--this was also a boy calling to tell me this.

Outside of birthdays, what else to we have to celebrate? Holidays, family reunions (if you're into that kind of thing), births...The list isn't very long (feel free to chime in if you can think of anything else for this generic list). 
During PNWA, someone said something that stuck with me ever since (I'm putting it in my own words because I have a terrible memory):

Writing is hard work. We get rejected, a lot. We get told our work isn't good enough for someone. Then...people say things like "I don't like this line" or some other disheartening thing. Mean friends and family members tell us to give up. Not only that, but we have to deal with the stresses of real life; finances, kids (if you have them), pets (if you have them), relationships....etc. 

Life is hard. Tack on something where you're constantly told no, and our brains may explode.

So what do we do to counteract this negativity?


This is actually a picture from my birthday this year :)
Find some friends, find someone, anyone to celebrate with. If you don't have anyone, treat yourself to dinner, even if it's a fast food chain (which is what I did yesterday :) ). Go to a movie, a concert, something you wouldn't typically do, because you deserve it.

You just finished your first draft? Sweet, get a drink. Don't drink? Get a soda, puppy, toy. Get something to commemorate what you've done. Get a partial request? Sure, it may get rejected in a few days, but live in the moment. You just got a REQUEST! Get excited, it's okay! Wrote ten pages? Give yourself a friggin pat on the back. Be proud of yourself for those little steps you take along the way.

It's the small things that keep you, keep us, going. 

Go out, celebrate. This is your mission as a writer. And who knows? Maybe you'll find something else to write about during your adventure :)

(Also--sorry I haven't been updating too much this week. I slipped and fell on my porch last week and hurt my knee pretty badly. Haven't had a lot of time to think. Don't worry, I'm going to a specialist Monday! Wish me luck!)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Turning Titles Into Poetry

If you don't follow Janet Reid's blog, you should. Mainly, because she has THIS CONTEST going on until tomorrow. This is/was my submission:

The Disenchanting Truth

The Truth About Forever
Is that Bright And Shiny Morning(s)
Are for the Lucky One(s).

At Second Glance,
The Little Prince won't come
To The Rescue, 
Which means She's Come Undone. 

The Girl Who Played With Fire,
Was found Running With Scissors,
Saying, "Someday My Prince Will Come,"
Unaware of The Slow Vanishing.

She'd Fallen
And become a Loose Girl
Who live in The Glass Castle
Full of Disenchantments and Stolen Innocence. 

She was A Woman Betrayed.
She wasn't Lucky.

Counting The Hours,
She learned
Certain Girls aren't Those Who Save Us.

And That's How I Live Now.

Good luck to all those who enter!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Advice And Empowerment

A few years ago, I found myself in bed with Nicholas Sparks' Three Weeks With My Brother. At the time in my life, I was a sophomore in college at my aunt's house for Thanksgiving or Christmas break. I hadn't actively finished a novel, I'd had a poem or two published in my university's literary magazine...but I didn't consider myself a writer and at the time, I wasn't trying to write as my university didn't offer any creative writing courses...I just wrote when the bug hit me.

There are a couple of things I learned from his book, and I'd actually recommend reading it if you haven't. As a writer, though, the biggest thing I learned was to:


Sparks wrote about his first experience writing a novel, and how it was grueling, and hard, and at some point you want to just quit because what's the point?...He admitted that when he finished it was complete shit. He, NICHOLAS FRIGGIN SPARKS, knew it was shit.

But that's not what mattered.

What mattered was the fact he was able to write a friggin novel. And if you're able to sit there, shell out a novel, even a crappy one...maybe you can shell out another, and another, and eventually find an agent, find a publisher, and start getting yourself out there. Or, even if you're taking the self publishing route, you still need a FINISHED product to be able to put out in the world.

After I read his book, I finished Confessions of an Immortal Heart...crappily. To this day it still needs editing and it's been solidly done for a few years now. I finished a novel that ended up being about 76,000 words. On days when I need a good laugh, I go back to the very first draft, because it's so poorly written there's nothing else to do. On days when I doubt my ability as a writer, I pull it up, and look at the page count because I did this, I accomplished this. If that's not enough, I pull up Igniting a Firestarter, or Character Defects, because I've written three novels. I have a very high word count...and if I start reading what I've written, I'll find lines that I really like, or the editor in me will come out and strengthen what is on the page. And then I know...I'm a writer.

I've written three novels because I finished one. If I hadn't finished one...I'd be living on a beach...with nothing to show for it...(Don't get me wrong, I'm still living on a beach :) )

Moral of the story is: Push through, work hard, and finish. Especially if this is your first novel, finish it. Once you have the confidence that you can finish.....

(I'm gonna be corny here, are you ready?)


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Music And Writing

I love music, a lot. One of my favorite parts of college was the section where we'd bring in song lyrics for my poetry class and analyze them. It's funny because I constantly forget that people who WRITE songs are WRITERS, too. It's a whole different ball game...but is it really?

Here are some bands/people that if you haven't heard of them, and you like really strong lyrics (maybe some alliteration and things like that) you may want to check out:

P.O.S.--He's a rapper. The sounds is off-beat, but he has really solid lyrics, and makes everything work together. I would recommend OPTOMIST or NEVER BETTER. These two songs sold me on his talent. From there, if you want to look up GET SMOKES on you're own, I'm too lazy to find it for you :)

Silverstein--I've mentioned these guys in a previous blog because I FINALLY got to meet Shane Told (lead singer. Amazing). These guys are Screamo, but they're friggin epic. Songs that got me into them: CALL IT KARMA, SMASHED INTO PIECES, ALREADY DEAD. These ones don't have heavy screaming in them. But one reason you may like them? The singer...is the screamer. Amazing, no?

Jack's Mannequin/Something Corporate--I listened to these guys a lot in high school and college. Their music speaks to my heart, you know?  KONSTANTINE, ME AND THE MOON for Something Corporate, if you can find the acoustic version to Punk Rock Princess, do it. It'll change your life (maybe :) ). Then from there just look up Jack's music. It's alsoooo super good. When I need a solid pick-me-up, I'll put on one of their CDs.

Eminem--I'll admit, I used to not like him...at all. And then his latest album came out, and he completely changed and rocked my world. I can now go back to his older stuff and appreciate it more. He is an amazing example of how we can all change and grow. I listen to his verse in AIRPLANES a lot when I need a push. You gotta remind yourself that you've only got you, and shit won't just fall in your lap. From there, I'd recommend I NEED A DOCTOR, and NOT AFRAID. Even The Way You Lie rocked my world.

Nicki Minaj--So she kinda hit me outta left field. I didn't think I'd get into her stuff because the beats are all old songs that I loved. But, when I listened, a lot of her stuff says things like "Haters you can kill yourselves" or "Shout out to my haters sorry that you couldn't phase me". Those are incredibly strong song lyrics, and so I started listening a little more and found myself really, really liking her music. So: CHECK IT OUT, MOMENT 4 LIFE, SUPER BASS.

Our Lady Peace--These guys shaped a lot of my music preference. Their Clumsy CD was one of the first CDs I've ever owned. I got it when I was in 5th grade, I think. I LOVE them. Twoish years ago, I finally got to see them in concert. Was front row...amazing.

I feel like this blog post made get a Round II, but those are my recommendations for the night. Hope you're all well!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


It's September, and if we're being honest here...I don't really have anything to say. Well....I have a lot of things to say....just....can't verbalize them.

But hey. It's September. Which is crazy.

I guess (for lack of anything better) I'll tell you some of my goals:
*Keep querying
*Figure out where I want to go/end up
*Don't get fired from my jobs
*Find somewhere to spend Thanksgiving
*Maybe, Maybe....clean my room

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