Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sorry this post is a little late- but Happy Stuff-Your-Face-With-Tons-Of-Carbs Day! Also known as Thanksgiving. While most of us aren't pilgrims and indians sharing the crops and meat, we are still crazy relatives and friends fighting over that oh-so-succulent piece of turkey thigh. Or tofurkey depending on your taste.

When you all come out of your food induced coma or manic level of sleep deprivation in the name of Black Friday shopping keep an eye out on my blog here for a new post tomorrow! I promise it'll digest better than Gram-Gram's homemade mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Every now and then there's one dark day that pops up on your calendar. You know which one I'm talking about. The one where your inner critic jumps out from a corner and drags you into the dirt, the day where nothing you write sounds right, and all your fears and worries and insecurities come out to play.

We have a name for these dark days. Writer's Block.

But sometimes it isn't really writer's block. Some days it's just really really truly intense procrastination. I'm not too proud to say this, but I admit that I may be one of the hardest procrastinators you'll ever come to know. If I don't want to do something even just a little bit, pshaw, forget it. Not happening. Just ask my Mom: I've stalled off doing the dishes in the sink for almost three days before, and that was with the nagging and threatening to disable the internet!

They say if you break down the blocks in your way that you'll overcome your stalling or block. Like talking something out to find the truth in the words. I don't know, I'm not too good with the inner-mind thing, heck I barely understand those fortune cookie riddles. But thankfully I stand a better chance at figuring out my own head, which is how I came up with my levels of procrastination.

Level One:  Guilt
Most aren't guilty over their stalling right out of the gate, and that's usually because they're focusing on other things to occupy themselves. But I always feel guilty the instant I stall so much that I frequently cave and try to make up for even the smallest of seconds spent shuffling my feet. But every now and then I slip by and fall into level two...

Level Two: Bitter Resentment & Avoidance
All aboard the pity train on level two, all aboard! Once I filter past the guilt I jump right into self-hate mode. This is also the moment where all those super morbidly depressing text messages go out to all of my friends. By this point most of them give me a thirty minute grace period to calm down, or wait until I guzzle some sugar and balance out. However, sugar doesn't cure the fact that at this point I'm avoiding everything to do with my work. The mere mention of writing is frowned upon. And it only get worse.

Level Three: Different Distractions
Most of us are distracted at the first step, by accident or on purpose. This always comes later for me and it takes place in so many forms I still don't know how to pinpoint it yet. Sometimes it's three hours of Twitter trolling, others it's Facebook news feed refreshing. Really bad days it's seven straight hours of Sims 3 shenanigans where my poor little pixels are forced to have a dozen babies. Either way, my distractions at this point are purely intentional. I'm ashamed I got distracted to begin with, therefore I only make it worse? I know, backwards, but it isn't over yet.

Level Four: Bargaining
"I promise if I can just write a little bit more I'll remember to feed the cat/dog/fish next time!"
Yeah, little too late for that, me thinks.

Bargaining is one of the oldest tricks in the book. We tell ourselves that if we just finish one more thing in our day that we'll get the awesome reward like ten extra minutes under the hot water in the shower, or a doughnut, or in my case, more Sims 3 shenanigans. Sadly I can never come up with something really worth bargaining for except treadmill time. Which I never get to since by time I'm done with all of these levels I'm too tired to step on it.

Level Five: Admittance, Acceptance & Drive
The last step. After countless hours of catching up on chores I didn't need to catch up on, TV shows that had to be watched, random snacks that most definitely didn't have to be made (or eaten in mass quantities) I finally give in and admit that I've goofed and done wrong. Spilled the milk, so to speak. It's usually after this moment (and a good emotional outburst or two at some inanimate object) that all returns to normal and the writing resumes.

And when all else fails, I watch tons of Harry Potter fan videos, like this one, which is AMAZING and I'm IN LOVE with.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Inspiration, we find it everywhere these days! The back of a pick-up truck, vacation, poems, other stories, maybe even in the sour milk hiding in the back of your fridge (you might want to throw that out, by the way) inspiration hides in every nook and cranny of our lives, right down to the metaphorical fabric of life that holds everything in place.

I had one of these moments today. Go figure that it's a Friday so I'm working, but instead of working my typical day at the sports store and not-so-secretly staring at Chase Utley on the wall, I'm working a craft show for my Mom at a local menonite home. It's the one craft show I always volunteer to do for her just because I have so much fun (and because all the locals seem to remember and not hate my face, a huge bonus.)

I had intended to get through the day mostly selling the jewelry my Mom crafted and sneak in a bit of writing here and there when I had the chance. Until I saw the picture on the stand across from me. There, across the way, sat the most beautiful picture of a wintry road like the ones I was writing about in Illumine. Natalie Searl and her wicked winter photo just sort of, how do I put it, made my inside go all squiggly-wiggly. And just like that, words formed inside my head to the picture I impulsively bought with good reason, Essallie's voice leaping all around in my skull.

Where have you found inspiration? Was it in a place you least expected it?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

We're only in the second day of NaNoWriMo and already that word count should be as close to 3,334 as possible! And to think, it all starts with that first line...

Speaking of first lines. You know, the one that's supposed to automatically grab the reader. Make them say, "That's weird/cool/sweet/different! Let's read more." I'm sure you've all got at least that first line down in your documents or notepads, the beginning of something fresh and beautiful. Well here's your chance to make something of it! WriMos FTW is having a contest to submit your first line of your NaNo novel to be entered to win a prize! Here's the details:

Name: most gripping first sentence
1. Start Nov. 2 at 3:30 pm (EST)
2. Enter your sentence before Nov 5, 3:30 pm (EST)
3. Judges picks top 10 entries until Nov. 9, 3:30 pm (EST)
4. Poll goes up Nov. 9 and closes on Nov. 11 (EST)
5. Announcing winners: Nov. 12, 3:30 pm (EST)

The 3 Prizes are as follows:

1. Rochelle Melander (@WriteNowCoach) is giving the first place winner a print copy of her book Write-A-Thon, which is a great tool for jump-starting your writing career and writing your book for less than 30 days. I'd say it's a perfect fit for NaNo!
2. Roxanne Piskel (@roxisbrilliant) will give a complete critique of the second place winner's NaNo manuscript. In addition Roxanne is giving 20% discount to all entrants. 
3. Alivia Anders (@AliviaAnders) will make a pretty book cover for the third place winner. Woohoo!

Want in on the competition? Head on over to WriMos FTW and enter that first line!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

EDIT: The final cover of Illumine is posted right here!

Sorry to interrupt our first days of insanity-promoted-by-NaNoWriMo, but I think for the most part you'll all forgive me when you see this.

I'm really, really, REALLY pleased to show you what could very well be THE book cover for Illumine! It isn't official by any means, I have to double check a few things and I may want to play with the cover a little bit more, but it feels so right to me to see this that I think this will be the one.

Tell me- what do you think of the cover?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween everyone!

Mwahahahaha! Trick of treat! Candy, costumes and more galore!

It's here! We've finally made it to that day where the veil between the physical and the supernatural worlds is lifted, and all too often through the day we feel like maybe a little magic could happen. That is, if you believe in it. ;)

So what should you do on this day? Make a little magic yourself, of course! Tonight at the stroke of midnight NaNoWriMo participants all over will be feverishly typing away in their coffee-induced hazes, parties will ensue, and people will spend all day baking in preparation for friends or family or what have you. In light of my favorite holiday I did three things to make a little magic happen today.

One, I gave a little cash to a homeless man we came across inside McDonald's today. He was super-sweet, and I really hope he'll be okay.
Two, I found a super-cool photo of the cupcakes I'm going to try to make tonight before NaNo AND I'm judging for a NaNo contest! How cool is that?
Three, there's a few kick-butt-awesome FREE short stories over at the Halloween blog for you to get into the spirit of things! Who doesn't love a free story?!

And there you have it! A little of everything for a day crawling with mischief. Without further adieu, here's a picture of cupcakes! (hint hint, they're the ones I'm making.)

Hope you all have a wicked Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

That's right- I'm guest blogging again! It's kind of like a new fun-filled addiction for me, really. But anyway, I'm over at WriMos FTW today! The topic? Why and How music can really get you through that hard-to-write spot in your head (because it's all in our heads, right?)Click on the link below to read the guest post and feel free to leave a comment!

Music Always Holds The Key!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So maybe BLACK WINGS gave you a tingle on your skin. GAMES made you gasp. But I bet the newest story up there, THE MANDRAKE RUSE, will probably have the hairs standing on the back of your neck! Either way, they're all free to read on the Halloween blog!

Dark clouds are coming- was that a scream? The Mandrake Ruse is up to read!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What do Amazon, Goodreads, Apple, and tons of blogs all have in common?

If you guessed bad book reviews, you're right.

When you're a constant book lover and devourer you're always in the search for new books. Some of us wander into our local indie or B&N, find our section and typically pick up one that catches our eye and has an intriguing jacket description. Others like myself, we read reviews online. Reading reviews online is typically like sticking your hand into an alligator's mouth. Catch him on the wrong day and you could pull back a stump.

Readers today have a power stronger than any advertising could possibly offer, and that's reviewing or blogging about a recent book they've read and how they felt about it. And when we find a book we love, we can't shut up about it. Which is great and all, but what happens when the book isn't something everyone likes?

Of course I'm not saying any book or every book out there can be enjoyed by everyone. There will always be someone who will find the book you're obsessed with less than enjoyable. Hell, they may even hate it. When most of us find a book we don't like, we put it down and move on. But there are those who wont just stop at putting the book down. Instead, they try to put your book in an early grave.

Some people can't look past a book when it holds some kind of negative value to it within the story. Elle over at The Book Memoirs showed us a current iconic example by citing Twilight. While there are tons of us on one side of the coin objecting to the bad image imposed upon teenage-angst-romance, the other coin has people swearing their love to it because of the simple theme of 'Love Trumping All.'

After reading her post, she shed a piece of light on something I wasn't all too keen to admit. I was book bashing, too. Me, playing Negative Nancy. If my life were played on a board game of Clue, it would be me in the Kitchen with the candlestick. As Elle so blatantly points out, who are we to tell them what is good and bad? Sure, some of the stuff within the book (Edward watching Isabella while she slept... before she knew, obsessively denying her visiting rights to her friend Jacob) isn't exactly all sunshine-and-rainbows, but to some, they hold a love for it like a martyr for the cause. Thinking about it now, I can't say anything bad about them: I'd do the same for any Harry Potter book you try to abuse.

We don't have the right to tell someone off because we don't like what's inside the pages. No matter how justified our point is, no matter how driven, it's just not our place. Just because we don't like one book doesn't mean someone else won't. Maybe they'll love it and start a fan club. Maybe they'll love it and petition for it to be made into a film. Regardless of what's inside those pages, you can't tell them the book sucks when they love it. Because the only thing you're doing is looking like a jerk who forgot your morning coffee.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Have you been keeping up with the Halloween blog? A new short story was just posted, and trust me, the twist at the end will really leave a mark on your neck!

Take a peek- Games awaits, if you're willing to play!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can." - Elsa Maxwell

It's a tough crowd out there, ladies and gents. In our tiny 24-hour window of a day we're given an insane amount of things to do- homework, chores, seeing friends and family, sports, the list just extends and extends and keeps on extending. Oh, and here's the real kicker. You have to do it all perfectly. Not a hair can be out of place, and every project presented for you to complete has to be done with 100% precision. No big deal, right?

With that kind of tall order given, it's no surprise we've all got our super-serious face masks on, hiding that wonderful grin just beneath the surface. You know which one I'm talking about, the one that laughs when you spill juice all over yourself, or relaxes enough to breathe. That thing you do with your teeth and lips when you show 'em all off and mean it, not just because there's a delicious looking cupcake in front of you to be eaten. Unless you're a snake, then you don't really do that, you just kind of swallow everything whole, but I'm running off from my topic.

As crazy-robot-like humans in today's world, we never take enough time to stop and smell the roses. Crack a joke. Laugh a little! Ever see those segments in movies where two parents watch their kid get a kick out of bubbles or ripping paper and wish they could laugh like that? Umm, they can! And so can you.

We try to hide our flaws and insecurities so hard, it's like a second job. Trust me, I've been there and done that. High School was the biggest joke of my life. I must have pretended to like anything to get anyone to stop for a second and agree with me. And anything embarrassing from my past? Oh hell, I covered that up so bad. One of my worst moments was the first time I wrote my first PG-13+ moment with a close friend. When we read it back, it sounded more like my character was leaving to go to a bakery and get a muffin, not do, ahem, unsavory things with his partner. I was teased about this for years. And instead of laughing it off, I let it eat me alive. Looking back now, I can laugh it off and just say it was a mistake, but in that moment, I was petrified.

I tend to look at things like this these days. I could sit down and stress all day that I'm 20 and haven't published, that I opted to not go to college, that those last few pounds aren't coming off as easily as I'd want them to, the list could go on. Instead, I take a moment and tell myself I'm going to do all in my power and take it one day at a time. Books weren't written overnight, college will still be there if I decide to go later, and those last few pounds will only be better when they come off with hard work and patience.

If that doesn't work, I look up this video.

So wherever you are, whatever you're doing, take a second. Breathe! The world honestly isn't going to end tomorrow. Make the best of whatever you've got going on in your life and give the glass a look at it being half-full, not half-empty. And if you're feeling really gutsy, laugh off that embarrassing moment.

So let's hear it! What's one of your embarrassing moments? (That you're willing to share!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

it's up and live!

I'm very pleased to present to you guys that silly thing I've been mentioning all week- the Halloween short story blog! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

So if you've been following my Twitter the past few days, you may have noticed a few messages I've been posting. You know, the ones asking for the short and spooky stories? Well, if you've been sitting and staring at your screen wondering just what the heck I'm talking about, you'll only have to wait a few more days to get a really wicked treat mixed in with all those tricks leading up to Halloween!

Staring Monday, October 17th and leading up to the big night of Halloween I will be releasing a blog featuring, you guessed it, those short stories I've been asking for! What's better than getting to read tons of free short stories from your friends and fellow writers? Well, candy is, but I don't recommend trying to eat your monitor for the sugar rush you'll get reading these shorts! Double bonus; now when your Mom, friends, family, and younger cousin keep asking to read your work, you can easily direct them to your story on the blog and keep them distracted- hopefully long enough to write more of your big WIP or give you enough time to prep some more for NaNoWriMo!

There's only a few days left to submit your piece to be featured on the Halloween-tales blog, so don't dawdle! You can go right here for additional details!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Calling all the monsters! And ghouls, ghosts, banshees, goblins, witches, wizards, demons, fae... you get my point.

I'm giving my first shot at letting of spreading a little love and shedding a little light on some fellow writers! How, may you ask (preferably in an awkward false-British accent?) By hosting a little gathering of words and minds alike in the name of Halloween! If you'll see at the top of my blog, there's a neat new little tab called Collaborations! which will hold the information for this spooky little festivities!

Read all the details here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

you should be reading right now! yes, now.

Sometimes as writers, we tend to get ahead of ourselves. And by ahead of ourselves, I mean we hide in a cubbyhole somewhere in the middle of a dark library and say, "I will write this. N reading, no socializing, no anything until this blog post/short story/novel/random piece is done!"

This is a bad example, guys and gals. Like, number one bad example.

Let's pause here and think for a moment. When was the first time you wrote something? Sure, it may have been for your English class and yes it may have been in that annoying paper that had all those lines on it and you had to do cursive or you'd fail and you get my point. It probably wasn't for sport. But what, pray tell, did you write about? Did you make up something? Was it a fictional version of your favorite story staring you, or an alternate reality piece?

Chances are the first thing you wrote came from something you read or heard or saw. The first time I wrote a short story in 5th grade, it had some kind of malevolent candy land backdrop and a plot so pointlessly weird I don't even remember it. It wasn't until after I thought about it that, lo and behold, I had been reading some book with candy in it (I think it was about that kid who touched anything turned it into chocolate...) and my story came to life. To prove my point even further, I didn't start really writing until after reading most of the Harry Potter series! I fell in love with the story so much I HAD to make my own Hogwarts and make my own people to run through the halls wreaking havoc. My first three heartfelt characters, Ryoko, Lilix, and Kelly Jasper, all were born from a desire to write in the centerfold of Harry Potter.

I guess what I'm trying to say here in too many words is that if you think hiding in that hole is going to make you an awesome writer, it really isn't. In order to find where you fit and how you work and how to improve, you have to read. And read more. And keep reading until your eyeballs fall out. So for any writer, be it a NaNo enthusiast or just a person aching to finish your novel, go read! Pick up a book, fall in love with the characters and setting and mood, and understand why. Then apply it to yourself and your writing, your characters, your mood.

What about you? Where and when did you start writing? What sparked the itch to put words on the page?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I have two great pieces of news for you guys and gals today! Well, okay, one is really cool and the other is just flat out awesome.

Really cool: I'm updating the NaNoWriMo Project tab tomorrow to include a little something special- a little more surrounding the story I'll be grinding my nose into during November.

Flat out awesome: I'm a guest blogger today at WriMos FTW! blog! My post over there contains brand-new details surrounding the NaNo project, so you don't want to miss giving it a read. I promise you it's not a million pages long, and I double-promise that reading it is most definitely worth it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yes, you read that title right! It may only be days from October, but the seasoned and slightly insane NaNo participants this year are already plotting and preparing for a writing year like no other, myself included!

One of my tabs up top on the blog has been sitting there for only a few days. If you click it, you really only get to see a big envelope with the words TOP SECRET stamped across the front. I'm beyond proud and crazy excited to finally say I can sort-of tell you just what kind of project I'm working on.

For weeks I've been secretly posting day-by-day on a private blog, working out kinks and formatting little things here and there, in preparation for this November. When my friend and fellow Twitter-partner-in-crime Lyn Midnight posted a message asking for stories about NaNo, I thought to myself, "This must be some weird dance of fate to unveil what I've been doing!" So we talked a little bit, and came to a conclusion that I can guest blog during NaNo about my project, details, research, as long as I stay in the dreaded 700 word count per post. (Which is virtually impossible, but I will succeed!)

This year I'm going to tackle something a little more real than my typical game of vampires and angels. My project is going to focus on a fictional tale of a young girl who develops an ED, and the struggles that come with having that kind of pain wrapped around your every waking moment. As I explained to my boyfriend today over lunch, this has been something that, while not having affected me personally, I've seen firsthand and read enough to know the problems that surface with every situation surrounding food, family, friends, and life. Stories like this, fiction or non, aren't to be messed with and just whipped out of thin air, and I hope with the completion of this that I'll have done right by victims and those who have recovered by it. To me, it's always felt like this is a story I have to tell.

While I can't give out all of the details surrounding the story yet, I do plan to explain a TON more tomorrow at Lyn's blog, whose link is both to the left of the page and in this post above. My guest post will mention how/when I came up with the idea, what I plan to do with it, and the charity I do plan on donating to afterwards. Don't forget to stop by and leave a comment behind!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy (belated) Fall everyone! Except for the occasional person still hiding on the Bahamas right now, we're all feeling the beginning of a winter chill in the air, the dreaded scent of pumpkin coffee and pumpkin everything EVERYWHERE, and the internal panic that Christmas will be here before we know it.

But weird tasting coffee aside, my post isn't to rant about why Wawa should never make a pumpkin spiced beverage ever again, but rather a little special treat I found on Twitter the other day after going through a few links and RTs. Amber West's 'A Day Without Sushi' blog had an interesting Friday post that piqued my interest. The idea was to give up something for a month and in exchange to donate to a charity of your choosing.

Let me first start off by saying this: It is TOO hard to pick just one charity. I have this uncanny habit of wanting to donate to every charity I see, hear, or think about. Case and point? Those tin containers the Salvation Army puts in mall at Christmas? Half of the tin is just from me spending twenty minutes yanking out every penny from the bottom of my bag.

And this is why I think it's okay to get a $5 cup of coffee from moderation.

So naturally, I asked everyone I knew for what charity to donate to, spazzing that the Gods of Charitable Acts was going to smite me if I didn't pick something soon. Thankfully, Wawa stopped me in the midst of my mental rant of boycotting their pastry-gag-worthy coffee to ask if I wanted to donate to Juvenile Diabetes, which I accepted with glee. In exchange, I'm not allowed to touch any type of ice cream (a very delicious treat I happen to go nuts for, especially Mochi balls) for the next month. Part of me feels like I need to write an epic tale about my trials and tribulations on overcoming my sweet tooth, hah!

Inspired? I included above a link to her blog post, so feel free to join in on the grouping! Even if you're not a blogger and you have a Twitter (use #gowithout to join in on the chat) or Facebook you can post on what charity you're donating to, along with what you're giving up for the month. It's really that easy! One person may not be able to fund a cure for diabetes or feed every hungry child, but when each person donates, even a little, it all adds up to make a HUGE difference.

Friday, September 23, 2011

We have tons of things in common as humans. Most of us desire to make something big of ourselves, sleep in for 'just a couple more minutes', love cake or pie, and procrastinate to the point of saying, "Why bother?"

If you are anything like me and every other dreamer, our road to our dreams have a good dose of roadblocks, unfinished paving, the occasional bridge missing across a raging river, just your normal everyday stuff. But like all humans, we expect instant results just for getting on the road, or we get frustrated when we get past that first roadblock only to see that the rest of the road didn't turn into a magically perfectly paved road wheeling us to our goal with no effort. Kind of like a horse turning into a unicorn. You gotta mate with a couple thousand narwhals before the gene passes through (this is why a unicorn has not been created yet.)

Does that mean it's time for you to throw in the towel and sulk in the corner as you contemplate your life-long job of fast food chains and shoveling non-unicorn horse dung? Absolutely not. Take it from the queen of procrastination and avoidance when I say that it ain't over 'til it's over, Johnny. If you're stuck on that pile of muck, I've provided a few tips below that typically work for me, and who knows? Maybe they'll work for you too!

-Breathe. If you're looking at your project as, "OMG I HAVE TO WRITE AT LEAST NINE PAGES TO PASS MY SENIOR PROJECT I'M DOOMED WHERE'S CAKE?!" nothing, yes NOTHING, will get done. In my family I'm infamously known as the only child who could stay up three hours before school and whip out an A- project behind my back like flowers from a magician. But I didn't do it by having mini-heart-attacks. I breathed. A lot. Then I broke down the project into smaller, less scary chunks. Finish one page, ten minutes of random dancing to save my numb butt. Finish a second page, eat a handful of delicious goldfish, etc.

-Do it all in one night? How about no. Even I couldn't complete some things in one night flat and expect them to be amazing (or remotely completed.) If what you're working on is huge, you have to take it day-by-day. Example; I'm a Harry Potter fanatic, and for the opening of DH1 in theaters, I decided to make my own Ravenclaw robe identical to the movie versions. From scratch. No previous sewing knowledge, no idea how to read patterns. The chances of me successfully breeding a new species of mold in my room was much more likely to happen. After following the first tip for a few hours between reading up on sewing online, I pushed myself to buy the fabric, measure, cut, and sew on some machine from the mid-70s every day for two months. The end result? A fully finished robe cheaper than anywhere online!

-Balance, balance, balance. You can't just say, "I'm gonna go do _______ now, see you guys in a few months!" The downside of being creative is that we have lives, you know, that things that involves family, friends, Facebook, Twitter, forums and more? As much as we'd all love to crawl into a hole for a few months and emerge victorious, we can't. But that doesn't mean you can't do it! Find time (preferably also your 'sweet spot') to perfect your project at hand. Mine is a cross between breaks at work and anywhere from 11pm-3am. For you it might be when the kids nap or right after an episode of Friends you HAVE to see everyday to feel complete.

What about you? Do you have any tips to share or an experience with a big project that almost made you 'throw in the towel'? Share with us in the comment box below!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ever notice how both the need to finish something and the time left to complete it shrink exponentially until, wham-bam, it's here? We've all been there, done that, staring at the nine-page essay for English the next morning we haven't even started, let alone thought of. Thankfully, I've been out of school for two years now, and even though I miss some of my teachers (Mrs. Kern! I'm still sending you a copy of my books each time I publish them) I definitely don't miss the homework that came with it.

Instead, I had set out to finish the first portion of my little Boot Camp challenge I've taken on both in the writing department and physically (in case you didn't see my begin proclamation to my untimely demise of an experiment, see it here!) Following both the Yoga cards and the Cardio from Self, I can already tell you two things. One, running is definitely my strength, since out of each day I chose rather to get on the treadmill for 20 minutes instead of doing something new. Two, you know you're out of shape when you're feeling it the next day and two aspirin can't help you. Anyone got novocaine?

Writing wise, I figured for this post, I'd post the first portion of Dimitri's piece from Illumine. I had every intent of posting the synopsis I'd crafted, but either the ghost of my paper-losing past has it or I'll find it hours after posting this and start swearing and kicking myself all over the place. So, I guess you can call this a bit of a Teaser Tuesday piece, too!

Her petite frame was crunched within itself, lying sideways in a splatter of blood. The viscous liquid was already drying on the front of her clothes, a inkblot butterfly forming from the mess across her chest, skin so pale it looked translucent. No human could survive that kind of blood loss and live to tell the tell. Blood covered so much it was hard to tell where the girl's fire red hair began and where her life source ended. It was a pity her life had been ripped from her fragile form. Crouching down, I gave the girl a small nudge on the shoulder, using the back of my hand to brush away the hair off her creamy skin. Fingers came in contact with searing flesh, her pulse pounding in every inch of her skin.
With a groan, she rolled over.
And I felt myself die all over again.
Those eyes. Her eyes. Brown swirls with violet bursts dancing around her iris.
It became difficult to swallow. "There's no way you can still be alive." I breathed. "I saw you die."
For a moment, she looked at me, her eyes locking with mine. I felt myself get pulled back to the first time I saw her eyes, glowing with a new, eternal life under the light of a full moon. She'd danced as if she'd never danced before, twirled with a lack of self-control to rival a child. Only to watch her burst into flames, her eyes never leaving mine as she screamed for freedom.
The girl rolled back onto her side, breaking eye contact. She groaned and dry heaved, the veins in her arms pulsating with each contraction, the blue lines covering every inch of her as a subtle glow began to shimmer on her skin. My fangs cut into the insides of my lips, instinct pushing against reasoning. I picked up the girl, racing for my car before I could even think things through. Katrina would find the Nephilim and her Watcher on her own. I was going to make history right, finally.

Anyone else have some interesting Tuesday things going on, or maybe just something awesome that happened to befall this Tuesday?

Friday, September 2, 2011

I have a bit of a confession: I like to experiment. Ever since I was a child, I always got a bit of a kick figuring out just what would happen if I put the straightening iron too close to my forehead, or if I tossed those rocks at my neighbor's window in hopes of killing the imaginary killer clown living inside.

Realistically, I now know that putting that iron too close will give me a burn and probably make my head itch for several hours afterwards. And we all know there isn't a killer clown hiding in my neighbor's house for the most part. But I can't help wondering why I got such enjoyment from putting myself through these trials. I mean, Frankenstein obviously didn't like being toyed with (but those who really read that HS book will remember that he wasn't actually called Frankenstein (+1) and didn't have a name at all (+2) though sometimes called himself 'Adam' (that's +3 Mrs. Spritzer, see! I did read it) so why do I do it? Why do we do it?

My experiments took on a life of their own this week, though, when I picked up on a new favorite blog of mine and a new issue of Self. I'm constantly looking for ways to keep my favorite foods on my plate without having to go up a jean size, and new exercise moves to tone, trim, and get my heart pumping. The new issue of Self happened to have an article of a boot camp to follow, so what did I do? I said, "Hell, let's do this! But wait, I can make it twice as fun by also doing a writing boot camp the same time!"

Yep. Like I said, I experiment. Probably too much for my own good. So while I catalogue my little adventure doing squats, jogs, weights, dance, yoga, and all the other stuff on this 4-week challenge, I'm also going to take a heavy focus on dishing out some information on Illumine and a new little idea I've got brewing for NaNo this year.

I'll mark all my posts with my 4-week writing/exercising boot camp with the hashtag #writebootcamp, so don't forget to follow along with me!

But before I go, inquiring minds would like to know. Have any of you, bloggers or readers, ever used yourself as the 'experiment' for your own ideas? How did it pan out?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hey guys! Ready for something awesome?! How about guest blog post over at Lyn Midnight's blog-o-awesome!? How many times will I use the question mark and exclamation point together, I don't know!

Terrible grammar punctuation aside, if you haven't been stalking (or following from the shadows) my Twitter, here's the link to the post I did for my buddy and fellow friend, Lyn! Mucho thanks to her for letting me unleash a chaotic and slightly funny post on why break-ups can be wicked building blocks towards writing!

You can read about it here!

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's been a while, hasn't it? I'm sorry, guys (and gals) for abandoning my post, but before I begin my blog-worthy rant of why I ran away, I have some... Interesting news to let you all in on.

Concerning Illumine, (well, you'll hear all the details in my rant) it has been on the shelf for the past few weeks. I wouldn't exactly call it cold feet, just empty feeling. I'm not quite sure what you call it in terms of writing issues- Creeping Rot Disease, maybe? It's like, every time I pick it up, I get this feeling that since I stalled so long already, maybe it just wasn't meant to be done. But I know better. It's just Creeping Rot Disease, so I took a much-needed break for a bit, and now, it's time to return.

Second piece of interesting news is that I'm conducting a sort of experiment, if you will. I'm recording some pieces of thoughts and ideas for a possible book that, if I complete, will hopefully shine a curious light on something many girls face. I can't speak much of it, not wanting to ruin the surprise, but if I complete the 50 days of research, I'll have more than enough data to write the book.

So with that aside, I guess I should explain myself, eh?

I wish I could say that I fell into a magical hole somewhere and got lost in the caverns of time and space, exploring new dimensions and places where past, present, and future all tie into one. But tragically, it's more of the fact that things got a little too hot for me to handle, and very expectantly, I flew from the kitchen. Not just flew, but took the next jet to China to avoid it. A lot of it was personal, really. I felt bogged down by tons of things in life; my friends, family, boyfriend, writing, work, any little add on just had me spiraling further into the smallest corner of the black box of misery and woe. For the record, it sucks in there. You feel worthless, incapable of completing anything past breathing, and you spend more time trying to fix everyone's lives but your own, because it's so easy to help anyone else, but you? That's impossible.

Small, insignificant things like weight became a bit of a crazy focus, so I went on several quick crash diets, all of which failed. Then a few friends grew hostile with me, my boyfriend began to worry over rent payments, and my parents are all over the place. Failing to see any consistency in my life, I did a few dramatic moves, and I feel better for it. Better enough to step back up to the plate and say, "Let's finish this."

In the past two weeks or so, I took on Zumba classes with a fierceness, did the treadmill at home, and made the choice to eat right. Bam. Ten pounds gone. A temporary win, but I took it with pride. In the same momentous decision making, I cut out a few friends that chose not to support my decision to write. Bam. I instantly didn't feel like I was faking emotions for someone any more. This kept going from telling the boyfriend that we'd make it by, to not worry, and with that, I smiled. If in a few moves I could make myself feel better, then the same should apply to my writing. It might not happen overnight, but if I take it one step at a time, I shouldn't drown. The feeling that I could accomplish my dreams in just a little time, with a little patience and persistence, made me feel tons, TONS, better. So I started re-evaluating Illumine and it's small flaws, I began to sketch my cover for it, and I took charge. It won't happen overnight, but it'll happen if I keep at it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To continue with the #PotterChat Blog Tour, I feel like I'm about to open the weirdest, smelliest can of worms out of the bunch. After reading this, please don't chuck old bananas and Rebecca Black hard copies of Friday, please (however pastries, copies of Lucky magazine, or a free apartment in my local area I will totally take!)

So from the past few days we've had an exciting series of posts. Jami touched base on how Harry Potter inspired her to write, Ava hit her too favorite Harry Potter moments, Bekah talked about Harry as a hero and how he wormed his way into our hearts, and today Kiki is talking about the magic of Harry Potter, from the setting to objects and people! All of them are shining a light of perpetual happiness and general good humor on some of the best parts of the series J.K. Rowling has crafted for us, like the ever-hilarious message to Snape from the Marauder's Map, or how Dobby proudly proclaimed that, outside of his freedom, he now received a Galleon a week for working at Hogwarts, even if he was tending to a drunken Winky much of the time.

But me, ever being the weirdo, chose to dance with my hands in the fire and show everyone why, deep down, we still have a soft spot for the evil guys in the books. Yes, you read that right. How exactly can you even consider sympathizing with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?! What about Draco Malfoy? Or the most talked about villain-playing-double-sides Snape? In the words of the shrunken head from the PoA movie, "Fasten your safety belts, clench your buttocks! It's going to be a bumpy ride!"

Let's start chipping away at Voldemort. Being the biggest honcho of the bunch on the Villain Scale (I will craft this one day but for now it's going to exist in my head >_>) we all know he's capable of doing plenty of unspeakable things. Killing Myrtle, Harry's parents, and Snape just to name a few, he holds no remorse what so ever for his actions. In no way should we feel even the slightest pinch of feelings for this guy short of anger. But think about it. He didn't turn into Voldemort overnight on a whim. From birth, Tom Riddle has been shuffled, sideswept, and abandoned like a used candy wrapper. His father conceived him under the effects of a Love Potion, an automatic bad sign. As soon as his father came out from the haze, he fled, never caring about the child Merope was carrying. His mother died after giving birth to him, from grief or complications, or both. From there he spent time in an orphanage like Annie, only there was no Daddy Warbucks to come to his aid, unless you count Dumbledore. Even there, he was shunned and stepped aside, only looked at when things went wrong.

Had those circumstances happened to any other person in the series, we'd sob. We'd grab our sleeves of our hoodies and blow into them as we wished we could hug Tom and give him a lollipop. But instead, because we only see him in his current form, a phobic of death who's trying to kill an innocent boy, we dislike him. At least Draco Malfoy had a fighting chance for redemption throughout the series.

For Draco Malfoy, things weren't the best in the beginning. He was a stuck up, snobbish boy whom Harry met and wished he could shove a pencil in his eye. For the first several books, it doesn't get much better. He constantly bullies Harry and sets him up for failure, picks on any person he can with the knowledge that his Daddy-dearest will cover his pale behind. But thankfully, by the end of the series, he seems to hold a touch of a human heart by being unwilling to kill Dumbledore and sparing Harry when he was caught and brought to Malfoy Manor. So why would we possibly like him? Just because of an ending? Why, or how could we feel for this cruel child?

Easy. His Daddy. Think about it. How would you behave if you had a Death Eater for a father breathing down your neck to be this perfect, snobby little brat and keep everyone else under your shoes? If his father had been out of the picture, Draco could have been so much more human, and realizing that, you have to feel a little bit for the boy. It was the biggest wild card in the series, Snape, that you had either the easiest time feeling for, or the hardest.

Serverus Snape was a man of many faces throughout the series. Instantly on Harry like white on rice, he left no room for the boy to breathe, least not without losing points from Gryffindor. If he wasn't subtracting points, he was demeaning Harry, constantly bringing him down for looking and behaving like his father. And then you have the big whopper of a moment: he killed Dumbledore in what looks like cold blood. Now, if he wasn't already blacklisted by most, having him kill Dumbledore certainly earned him a permanent mark on his record in the form of a large red smear. Yikes! No way could we feel any pity for this cold-hearted man. Right?

Wrong! Thanks to the lovely J.K. Rowling, we got to see a side of Snape we half-hoped for, and fueled sobbed for. While we gained insight into his tormented past and his unliked persona (very much like Voldemort, mind you) we also got to see him love, something no man who was heartless could ever do. We were granted the ability to see him hold a never-ending torch for Lily Potter, and his undying promise to protect the only remaining piece of her in the form of, you guessed it, Harry! In those few moments of his past, you probably felt the small black hole you had reserved in your heart just for him expand into a big red heart of gold, amazed that even after seventeen years, he was still carrying a torch for a woman he would never have. That, to me, earns every inch of sympathy I can feel.

That's it for today for me, but that doesn't mean the fun is over! Remember guys, this is a Scavenger Hunt, to keep your eyes peeled for those answers to the questions I posted earlier this week! They're on all the blogs and will pop up as the days go on, so keep 'em saved somewhere so when the times comes, you submit them and earn a prize! YAHOOOOO!

And with that, I leave a question for all of you readers! Have you ever had a character you hated so much, but still somewhere held a soft spot for them? Were they a bad guy or just a tragically misbehaving good guy? Leave your comments below!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I feel like I've been dying the past week. Not ebola-like dying, but just general mind-warping-into-the-carpet dying. While I'd like to blame it on my boyfriend who just moved up here, or my lack of focusing skills the past week on ANYTHING concrete and solid, it's just me and my insides and what's left of a life-long issue from a simple food poisoning event at a local eatery over a year ago. I'm plotting their demise still, don't worry.

But no more sad talk! Because regardless of my declining health, I HAVE GOOD NEWS! Delayed, but still good news.

A group of some ridiculously awesome people whom I have had the pleasure to meet on Twitter have yanked me into this wicked thing called a blog tour! (Remember when I mentioned that a few posts back? Well, it's here!) We officially started the #PotterChat Blog Tour on Monday, and it's running from the 18th until the 22nd with really wicked, crazy people jibber-jabbering about Harry Potter! So, if you haven't gotten enough of it between the movie release and the delay for the pre-opening to Pottermore on July 31st, here's your shot to get in on some of the magic! Oh, and if that wasn't incentive enough for some of you, did I mention there's a SCAVENGER HUNT with PRIZES included?! Yeah, you read that right! I've got all the deets below thanks to the lovely SP Sipal!

Each day, some of our lovely and extremely interesting bloggers will bring you a new post on Potter sure to help quench your craving for that golden Harry Polyjuice. Then, at special designated times on Twitter, join us for a #PotterChat, where you can discuss live with the bloggers and other fans all things Potter -- your review of the movie, your expectations for Pottermore, whatever.

But BEST OF ALL -- is the PotterChat Scavenger Hunt. Follow the clues from one blog to another, collect the Q&A answers and a nearby letter, then put each letter together to form one very special Potter word. When all answers and accompanying letter have been revealed, e-mail the unscrambled word to First correct entry gets first choice of prizes, second entry gets second choice, and so on.

Here are our fabulous Bloggers with links to their blog and Twitter:


---------> PotterChat Announcement!

Writability by Avalon Jaedra on Top Five Favorite Harry Potter Moments (9:30 a.m. Eastern)


Jami Gold, Paranormal Author by Jami Gold on Harry Potter and Beyond: What Inspires You to Write? (8:30 a.m. Eastern)

Bekah Snow's Blog by Bekah Snow on Heroes Worth the Read: Ways to Make Your Characters Jump into Readers' Hearts (7 a.m. Eastern)


Alivia Anders; Musings of a Microwaving Burrito Enthusiast by Alivia Anders on Why We Still Feel Sympathy for the Bad Guys

Kiki Hamilton, Author, by Kiki Hamilton on The Magic of Harry Potter: People, Places and Things (10 a.m. Eastern)


Paranormal Point of View by Lisa Gail Green on How To Leave 'Em Wanting More! The Wonderful World of Potter (7 a.m. Eastern)

Lyn Midnight Against the Odds, by Lyn Midnight on The Boy Who'll Live Forever... in Fan Fiction (9 a.m. Eastern)


HarryPotterforWriters by S.P. Sipal on Coming Home to Theme (9 a.m. Eastern)

 --------> Final Round-up and Prize Winners

Here's the schedule for our one-hour #PotterChats on Twitter each day. We've tried scheduling for various time zones. Simply follow the owl...I mean the hashtag!  :-)

Monday: 9 pm Eastern
Tuesday: 4 pm Eastern
Wednesday: 11 am Eastern
Thursday: 9 pm Eastern
Friday: 5 pm Eastern (where we'll reveal the prize winners!)

Scavenger Hunt Prizes:

A copy of The Faerie Ring when it releases Sept 27th from Kiki Hamilton
A first chapter critique by Lisa Gail Green
3 chapter Beta read swap from Bekah Snow
A first chapter (20 pages or less) critique from Alivia Anders
A query letter critique OR critique of your first 5 pages by Avalon Jaedra
Beta read up to 5K words by Jami Gold
A first chapter critique (up to 20 pages) by S.P. Sipal
A critique of your first two chapters OR a guest spot on my blog from Lyn Midnight
A PDF or Kindle copy of A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter by S.P. Sipal

Scavenger Hunt List of Clues:

Here are the clues that you will have to follow and find throughout the week. As in the Potterview Secret Streetview Quest, each of the answers will reveal a letter.  Once you have found ALL 8 clues with their accompanying letter, unscramble them and put together to form a very well known word from the series.  Then, e-mail your one word answer to

Please note: You cannot submit your entry until 9 a.m. Eastern on Friday, so hold onto your answers!
-In Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, when Professor McGonagall introduces Harry to Oliver Wood saying that she's found him a Seeker, she also notes that Harry caught the Remembrall in a dive that even who could not have done?
-In Chamber of Secrets, who helped get Harry out of trouble in Filch's office by persuading Peeves to crash the vanishing cabinet on the floor above?
-In Prisoner of Azkaban, what shape did Dean's Boggart take?
-In Goblet of Fire, what does Dobby reveal to be his pay per week for working at Hogwarts?
-In Order of the Phoenix, the Weasley twins planted this outside of Umbridge's office before leaving Hogwarts.
-In Half-Blood Prince, during Dumbledore's visit to Tom Riddle's orphanage, he instructs Tom to empty items out of his box in his wardrobe.  Name one of the three items mentioned.
-In Deathly Hallows, this gift was the end of Peter Pettigrew.
-In Deathly Hallows, on the radio show Potterwatch!, although he wanted to be called "Rapier," Lee Jordon initially introduced one of the Weasley twins as... (this name).

Thanks for visiting and for playing! We look forward to a wonderful week with lots of fun!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, women and children, wizards and witches alike, the final moment has arrived. Last night at 12:01 am EST, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released in the US, and I was one of the fortunate to have survived the mobs, piles of tissues, popcorn, butterbeer flavored cupcakes, Bertie Botts Beans, and enough soda to put people in diabetic comas. This is going to be as extensive of a review and thoughtful blog as I can manage on 4 hours of sleep, so Potterheads alike, please continue to read.


In all seriousness, the movie left me feeling a little empty. And this isn't because it was the final 'hurrah' so to speak. I found that during the movie, I was so wrapped in it, I barely paid much attention to the forgotten bits that when I left the theater, I was still kind of wondering if I had actually just seen the movie, or if I had fallen asleep waiting for it. But that doesn't mean I didn't like it! Au contraire, I loved it. But I loved it more like you would love a separate item than put the book and movie together as one.

Take Harry and Ginny, for example. Nothing against you Hanny or Girry shippers out there, but I have always been a Harmony shipper (Harry/Hermione) and will continue to remain one until my dying breath. This falls more on J.K's shoulders than the directors of the movie, though. Even in the books the relationship felt forced. Harry and Ginny went from being Stalked and Stalker to Magical Couple That Looks Like A Young Lily and James Potter. I found their 'relationship' to be strained from the get-go. They had so little time in the movies playing cutesy-developing-couple as the books had. Heck, in fact, anyone who WASN'T Ron and Hermione had massive downplayed developing-romance time. If Ron and Hermione's underlying tension hadn't been played into every move they made on screen and in the books, maybe others like Tonks and Lupin would have had more time for explanations.

Speaking of Lupin and Tonks, how about how HEART-WRENCHING it was to see them dead, touching hands? I was already mourning over Fred on the floor and then BAM, here's Lupin and Tonks gone. To a well-read Potterhead, we all thought of Teddy Lupin, the new pretty baby these two just had. To the casual moviegoer though, they get the whopper of information later on, AFTER Lupin is dead and Harry uses the Resurrection Stone to see him, along with his parents and godfather Sirius one more time. I had always wondered why he didn't bring Dumbledore with him using the Stone before death, but figured that one out both later in the book and in the movie.

Dumbledore had been waiting for Harry all along in his pretty-in-white death scene. I will admit I was sitting there gritting my teeth when they never explained Dumbledore and his hellish past, but I guess they decided to drop it since it didn't tie into anything deep in the movies. Was anyone else creeped out by the bloody Voldemort baby thing lying on the floor? A friend of mine said someone compared it to a chicken wing. I'm thinking it needs a little more meat for that.

Freakish chicken-wing-Voldemort aside, we finally got see more than one side to Voldemort. We saw Creepy Smile Voldy, Cackling Like A Crack Den Owner Voldy, and the guy who randomly went, "NEEEE-AHHHHHHHHHH!" while pointing not-his-wand skyward and planning to kill Harry.

And then we get what I thought was the worst part of the whole movie; Harry and Voldemort's fight. In the book, it was epic. Everyone stood watch as Harry was laid dead on the ground, Voldemort did a weird prance and giggled over his win, Neville launched into Kill Bill mode and Harry snuck off under his cloak with everyone going, "HOLY MERLIN'S BEARD. WHERE DID THE CORPSE GO?!" Then the big talk unveiled where Harry declared he knew all about Voldemort after un-cloaking his badass self, and they did another wand connection which backfired on Voldemort and he died. What did we get instead? Harry grabbing Voldemort and flinging himself off a cliff and half-flying, half-disapparating all over Hogwarts, random chasing through the castle, and Voldemort's secret weapon; BANDY SLEEVES.

The whole night wasn't wasted on a decent movie, though. McGonagall opened a can of Mega Whoop Ass like she so deserved to. She was short-changed in her scenes with Harry for the diadem search in Ravenclaw common room, but I wasn't sweating that too much. Not with other characters coming to life.

Neville was one of them. We all knew he was stashing in the Room of Requirement for the majority of the final year, but some of the scenes he had was pure comedic and bravery gold. Killing Nagini, taunting the enemies on the bridge, and his random idea to find Luna and declare himself before he died was fantastic. In one movie HE got more airtime than Harry and Ginny's relationship (I'm still on their coupling case, sorry!).

Of course, we were all waiting for Molly Weasley's, "Not my daughter, you bitch!" moment and were greatly rewarded to see the fire in her eyes.

But the biggest, and I mean biggest, show stealer of them all was Alan Rickman as Snape. When I say this guy had better nab every award he is nominated for (and he better be nominated for everything possible) I mean it. The biggest payoff of the entire series on that premiere was unveiling all of him. We got to see, though his tears, just how much he really loved Lily. Cradling her dead body in his arms, sobbing, I couldn't hold back. If I think about it too long, I'm going to start crying all over again. It was hard enough watching him die in Harry's hands, but then we were subjected to pure torture by his memories. And it was beautiful. If Alan Rickman were to ever read this, I tip my hat to you. No one could have made Snape as memorable as he did.

Now, while I go sob over my lunch break as I recall those scenes, I say this; Harry Potter will never die. And if you chose to read this whole thing against the spoilers before seeing it, now you have to. I compel you. Snape compels you. Harry's aged face, Ron's beer gut, and Draco's receding hairline all compels you to go watch it again and again and again.

If you have seen it, what did you think of it? Was it not close enough to the book, or close enough movie-wise?

Friday, July 8, 2011

No, this is not a big sloppy wet kiss. And yes, the cake here is not a lie.

I felt like I had to blog after my explosion after the past few days. It all just went in this crazy, beautiful whirlwind of flying Tweets, comments, ideas and new friendships. And now I want to share all of it with YOU.

Illumine went up on Wednesday, July 6th. In two days, my blog got 116 hits. Small by most standards, but considering I was releasing a single chapter, and because I'm so new to the world, THIS WAS HUGE. I owe this to all, yes ALL, my friends on Twitter, Facebook, my cousin Alicia, and boyfriend Tim. Each and every one of you contribute in some way to those counts, and I have to thank you for that.

From all this commotion, or by straight up kismet, I was featured in an online paper called The YASaves Report. Again, it's small, but to me? FREAKING. HUGE. I actually took a screen shot to send to Tim because I was in disbelief.

Between a few new friends who turned out to be Harry Potter fanatics as well, I was invited to a blog tour. Me. In a blog tour. I screamed for that one. (We're still planning the TOP SECRET events of that, but look for the #PotterChat hashtag on Twitter soon! I promise to tell more as soon as the gag order is reversed. -wink-)

After the first day of Illumine's reveal, I received a few messages from close friends who gave me both criticism and told me what they loved about it. So, Katie W., Alicia, and Lily, thank you girls.

The icing on the cake? When I saw my friends jump and rise to the challenge of helping me hit my first 100 followers on Twitter. That marked my third and consecutive day of straight up happiness. And it's all because of each and every one of you. Seriously. I don't know what I would do without you guys. So, to keep my promise, I give you... DIGITAL CAKE!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Alright, guys and gals, I think I've been talking about the first bits of my soon to publish story for quite some time now (and in mystery format, no less) to safely say that, if you haven't already had the urge to strangle me, throw things at me, de-friend me on Facebook (please don't!) or more, you're probably still reading my blog and going, "Well, what are you waiting for, Alivia? Let's see this!"

Excerpt from ILLUMINE

The fire was growing, spreading past the bands that held him in place. Tiny rivulets raced over his face and burned into his cheeks and hair. "It will kill you, you know," he hissed under the burn of the fire. "If you don't get help in time there will be nothing left. You'll burn from the inside out. Your own blood betraying you."
My grasp on the fire weakened, the flames flickering and receding. He was bluffing, he had to be. Kayden burst outward into black smoke, returning to his human shape across the hall, away from my grasp.
The fire crackled inside my palms, slowly dulling to nothing. As soon as the flames died my knees gave out. My entire body shook and I struggled to breathe. Sweat coated every inch of my skin, leaving me feel like I had just dipped into a bucket of ice water.
Kayden came closer but still hung back. His expression was guarded. "It's already burning you out. Don't you feel it? Like the air will never return to your lungs?"
Slowly I slid down the lockers until I was sitting against them, gasping for breath. The room was spinning into one giant pile of color. I shook my head and blinked, trying to re-set my eyes before I passed out, or worse, threw up from the spinning sensation. "I don't need your help."
Amidst the colors came a laugh. "Of course you don't."
"Just because I'm passing out on the floor doesn't mean I can't still detect sarcasm you twit."
My eyes started to re-focus, the blurry image of Kayden kneeling before me came into view first. "You need help. Before you lose control and hurt someone."
"Like you?" I snapped. I tried to stand but slipped back down to the floor from jelly legs. "I don't know what this, this thing is, but I'm not going to let it ruin my life. You've already done enough of that for me." Another attempt to stand failed and I found myself back on the floor shaking. With one final push I stood tall, staring down Kayden as he continued to kneel.
"Stay there, I like you better when you're bowing at my feet," I whispered as a throng of students came up into the hallway. Our teacher came down the hall and opened the door for class.
English was one of the few subjects I had no problem tuning into and focusing in. Kayden was seated out of my sight, Abigail right next to me, and anything the teacher liked to dish was relatively easy for me to handle, especially when I had already read all of Shakespeare's works in 6th grade out of sheer boredom.
"We're going to continue with our look into Othello today, so open your tombstones under your desks," the teacher muttered darkly. It was a never-ending joke with her class that she called the textbooks tombstones since they practically weighed as much as one.
As I reached underneath for my copy of the book I felt a stab in my stomach. Automatically I sat up straight and breathed, the hot-knife feeling only growing worse.
"You okay?" Abigail raised her eyebrows at me. I gave her a little nod and slowly reached back down for the book under my chair. Another stab sharper than the last hit my stomach again, the pain spreading into my chest with a burning sensation I'd never felt before. I doubled over and pressed my forehead to the cool desktop.
From the back of the classroom I heard Kayden. "Essallie doesn't look too good."
The teacher shot took one look at me and panicked. "Oh no no no, I am not having another kid get sick in my class. Abigail, take her down to the nurse, quickly."
An arm slipped around my shoulders and hoisted me out of my seat. It was all I could do to keep my lips pressed tight from screaming at the pain. "Get her things. She's on fire, I can feel the fever coming off of her in waves."
Wait, that was Kayden talking, not Abigail. Kayden was the one carrying me out of the classroom, and into the hall, and down to the nurse. I wanted to spit in his face, maybe even set him on fire in front of everyone for a little show. I was getting sick of him trying to play hero to my slips and falls.
Eyes closed, I felt him carry me out of the classroom and down the hallway, Abigail right by my side. "She was fine this morning," I heard her say. "Hell she was fine two minutes ago. What do you think happened?"
"My theory probably isn't the one you want to hear," Kayden replied truthfully. He lightly adjusted his arms to hold me up better. "She wouldn't like me to spread my ideas."
Too true. Letting everyone know I could potentially engulf them in flames if they looked at me crossways would probably put a damper on my mood. "What, do you think she brought something with her from New York? Like a Typhoid Mary of the modern era? Bad ass."
"Not quite, but sure, we can go with that," Kayden laughed.
"I'm right here, you know," I whispered through tight lips. Pain was driving down into my bones, stabbing like millions of scalded, jagged blades into my skin. He turned into the infirmary and followed the nurse's directions to set me down on a cot in the back room while Abigail explained everything in the other room.
"It's happening, you know," he whispered in a low tone.
"Nothing is happening," I managed to snap back at him. "It's just a reaction to lunch. I haven't been handling food well. Must be coming down with a bug."
He shook his head. "If she takes your temperature, it's going to show you should be dead. Your powers are coming in, like it or not. What happens next is how you handle it."
I raised my head off the pillow as much as I could manage. "How about I just set you on fire and get it over with?"
"I hope you're still this feisty when the fever wears off," Kayden said, the corners of his lips twitching.
"You haven't seen a fraction of it yet," I laughed despite myself and let my head back down onto the pillow. Sweat beaded and trickled over my skin, suctioning the pillow and flimsy sheets to me like glue.
The nurse stepped in with Abigail and immediately shooed Kayden away from me. Both hung back as she ran one of the new thermometers over my forehead and waited for the reading. When the results came up she shook her head and reset it before running it over my head again. But the results left her face just as ashen as it had the first time.
"Can't be right," she smacked the device in her hands a couple of times. "Let me try again before I get the old one."
"What did it say?" I asked in spite of myself.
She laughed, nervously almost. "This new technology is so temperamental. It said you have a fever of 120 degrees, but there's just no way that's possible. You'd be dead." The reading flashed at her again and she jammed it into her pocket. "Now it's saying 122 degrees. I'm getting the old one."
I felt my stomach drop, the pain flaring through my body again. She turned around and sent both Abigail and Kayden back to class but not before I had a chance to steal a look at Kayden. His eyes were shining like polished coal, his lips curved into a tight-lipped smile.
After seven different attempts with both the old and new thermometers the nurse finally called Jayson to pick me up and take me home for the day. She stressed that ice baths, ice packs and cool rags would surely bring the fever down and break it within the day. He led me up to my room and made sure to bring rags in every half hour soaked in borderline frozen water. Nothing was bringing the fever down.
Between hazes of the fever and pain that forced me into blackouts I had fitful dreams. Creatures of all shapes and sizes continued to reach out to me as I used the fire to burn them past my path. By the time I would wake up the fever would be spiking higher, the pain so intense I'd throw up.
At one point I managed to drag myself to the tub and turn on the faucets, shoving myself in with my clothes still on. The water felt worse than the stabbing pain inside me, and I screamed. Jayson had run upstairs to pull me from the water and back to my bed, but he said my fever seemed to have gone down from the bath.
I felt like I was dying. Nothing wanted to work, from my legs to my heart, it all moved like an animal on its last leg. Each breath felt like I was putting all of my energy into it. Giving in suddenly seemed easier, plausible.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July everyone! Here's to hoping you're all stuffing your faces with hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad and deviled eggs, and enough Coca Cola to pump a good sugar rush as you run around with sparklers or watch explosions of fireworks all night. Yeah, that was definitely a run-on sentence. But anyway, point is, have fun everyone! Here's a cake;

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I feel like I left the blog on a bad note from the other day with my depressing post. But I hadn't quite figured out the magical formula to write a good uphill post, so mainly I've just been spending the past few days working at my actual-paying job, coaching and cheering Tim to find a new one, and editing like the worst critic on Illumine for my first piece release this Wednesday. It kind of went something like this:

Work > Edit > Chug a Coke, Sweet Tea, and eat nachos > Work > Get no sleep > Sob > Edit

Or something like that. I'm not really so sure I worked that much, but I'd like to think I put in my best effort given my state of thought with the idea that if Tim stays jobless for too long things get dicey in the work field and then I started thinking of him on the street (which would never happen but I spaz about it nonetheless) and then I started hyperventilating and then I couldn't write so I got annoyed and, yeah.

So the past few days have been a little weird and all, and here I was thinking I was only going to post once this week about my big unveiling and all when Tim tells me he's never heard The Water Buffalo Song from Veggietales.


I felt so bad for him that I had to play the song over my ipad to him via Skype. Of course, he just sighs and goes, "What was that?" but I'm too busy laughing to death because I cannot listen to that song without cracking up. Or singing along. Sometimes both.

But, yeah. Adventure of the day was a Veggietales spam-a-thon via YouTube. Just wait until I get him to listen to My Lips. Hehehehehehe.

Oh! And in case I haven't spammed my blog posts and Twitter enough with my mentions, don't forget this Wednesday, July 6th, is the day I'm releasing the first few chapters of Illumine for preview, along with the pretty little jacket synopsis! I'm so nervous about it, honestly, it's got me kind of twisted in knots and drinking twice as much Coca Cola and energy drinks than my stomach can probably handle in ten years.

OH. And in case you are also in the same boat as Tim, aka, S.S. Veggietales What?, here is The Water Buffalo Song!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Today is not a good day. Not a sad day, or a mad day, or even a throw-my-tv-out-the-window day. Just not a good day.

I tried to give today the benefit of the doubt this morning when I woke up by ignoring the various problems that were awaiting me. My earache had manifested into a double ear infection/swimmer's ear, I was days behind on editing, and bunches of little things that I normally wouldn't let bother me were creating a full scale nuclear warhead in my brain. Then I got the most heartbreaking news of all day.

Tim lost his job.

It's depressing to say I felt the ground come out from underneath me, but I did. It's awkward to say I felt no air in my lungs, but I did. And for a moment, I felt myself crack under the surface. We had planned for months now that next year would be the year we'd move in together, a small nest egg preserved for hard times, my first book finished and published with more in the works. The six seconds it took me to read his text telling me of his job loss, and that picture vanished.

Now I'm not saying everything is destroyed. Against all odds, Tim will find another job, I just know it. I will still publish, come hell or high water. And when the time is right, we'll move in together, just not right now. I have to be strong.

Have you ever felt like you couldn't accomplish your goals? Like you were six feet under before you even started? I'd love to hear your triumphs over your struggles, if anything but to show me that I'm not alone and we, Tim and I, can pull through this together.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The title is just for you, Steph. <3

Hey everyone! Sorry I've been gone so long, I think I'm still suffering from a small case of brain lock from inhaling too much Hollister body spray and finding sand in places I thought I cleaned it out. Twice. But all is well, and I'm working to make everything stay on the timeline I'm dedicated to completing. Vacation was flat out AMAZING, and I think the best part (aside from getting some of the best cuddly sleep ever with my boy) was the fact that I put on next to nothing weight wise. Tim says it has to do with the fact that we walked a typical eight hours every day. Well, no wonder I slept so well. Too bad my couch here at home isn't the same.

I think I'm still stuck in beach-mode. I keep looking for a boardwalk to pour quarters in to win red tickets to save for a new pair of headphones, and I keep expecting to find fried calamari at every food place I stop at (come on PA! I miss my fried seafood!). Don't even mention lobster to me unless you have a box of Kleenex nearby. Tim took me to this cute little place called Red's Losbster Pot not even ten minutes from where we were staying, and I got the most delicious pound and a half of steamed lobster. If I keep talking about it I'm going to ruin my keyboard with drool. Ew.

But the whole trip wasn't exactly sunshine and daisies. Tim's Dad had a huge habit of calling... every two hours. Asking for cigarettes. Really? Tim even bought him a pack when I showed up, and we had just checked in to the room when he called asking for another pack. I have nothing against people who want to smoke because my parents do it, but going through a 20-count pack in less than two hours is a smudge excessive and left me a little jaded.

Then there was the rain. No, I don't mean the cutesy drizzle you run out to kiss each other in just so you can brag to your girlfriends that you were smooched under showers. I mean hurricane worthy storms (actually, it wouldn't have surprised me if it had been a tropical storm that had passed through. That bad, guys, that bad) that made it impossible to see two feet in front of you or your car. We had been making our way to Six Flags on Wednesday when the sky just cracked, lit up, and opened a faucet on us. People were actually pulling over it was so nasty.

That umbrella wouldn't have lasted two seconds.

So Wednesday's plans were tossed out the window. Tim spun around and treated me to the small mall in Tom's River, where I picked up my Hollister splurge I'm still sniffing addictively every thirty seconds. Hint; if anyone at Lehigh Valley Mall wants to hire me for the Hollister store, ahem. Hai. I live in their clothing, right down to the sweatpants when PMS bloating kicks in.

Overall, though, the week was just mindblowingly amazing. I won so many ticket jackpots in the arcade that I really thought I would go home with a second iPad, until I realized I only had 50k points and the iPad was 1.2million.

But enough about my wildly mild vacation! I want to hear about your recent vacations, good or bad! Or maybe you share a Hollister addiction like me? Or even better; maybe you love lobster! Either way, I want to hear about it.

And if any of this post didn't get your blood pumping with a little excitement, I'll give you one last ultra-super piece of information. A really good friend of mine, Amanda, said she would love to design the cover of Illumine for me! I'll be posting the synopsis here on the blog under the Illumine tab on July 6th, and the faster I edit this baby, the sooner I'll start the awesome haul of ARCs and teasers. Now come on, doesn't that make you happy?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Okay so, I have a few things I realize I needed to remedy from before on one of my last blog posts, and then post more stuff that may or may not ever be read by anyone other than me, my boyfriend Tim (I know you creep my page, honey) and a few friends.

Remember how I said I had multiple things go talk about after the whole WSJ article? Well, I originally did.
I don't remember them now. Moving on! (In restrospect, this sounded funnier in my head than it is on here.)

But honestly, I do have a thing or to I wanted to write about. First, I'm crazy beyond excited to say that I'm going on vacation next week! Five days of beach and the boy, and I'm a lady melting into a puddle of water on the floor just thinking about it. We keep reminding each other every day as we count down to the big day. This Tuesday, we celebrate our year anniversary together. Is it weird that I never actually thought I would spend a year with someone without strangling myself or my cat? (I promise you my cat is still alive!) Either way, it's going to be great. He even promised me tons of foot rubs and back rubs while I finish Illumine so I can actually start posting teasers for everyone to find online! And tons of seafood (my kryptonite) and maybe Red Bull? Mmmm, Red Bull. So yeah, I can promise-promise-promise that I will post my big teaser of Illumine in early July! Are you as excited as I am?! /happy twitch

But because of the whole vacation thing, I probably won't be chatting up with everyone on Twitter or compulsively searching for new inspiration. I probably won't really post on here for those five days, either, unless I have the utmost awesome thing to show everyone (which I'm sure will happen. I'm at the beach where shiny things come into my sight all the time. Wh doesn't love shiny things?!)

Then there's this little idea I'm pondering about posting a strictly online story, just a short one, like novella sized, and making a blog just for that but linking to it here so others can read and comment/suggest what could happen next. I love this kinds of interactive things. I actually started a lot of my intensive writing after spending years on RPG boards creating people from thin air and embodying them. I even ended up dragging a few close friends into the mix during Middle School and High School. If I ever grow the courage to some of the old stuff I have in the many notebooks in my bedroom, I'll post them up so you can see the insanity we created between classes. sister's listening to the Glee version of Friday by Rebecca Black. /twitch

I'm gonna go find the power box and claim we ran out of power. Ahem.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The title sounds a little tragic, I know, but this was a spur of the moment post that just kind of snowballed into a post for the blog.

I've been feeling a little... 'eh' the past two days. By eh, I mean more or less that I'd rather watch paint dry in the middle of a root canal without anesthesia than write another word for Illumine. The love-hate relationship I have with my writing is very 80-20, 80 being pure hate and frustration and the lone 20 being this obsessive love compulsion about it.

But recently it's take a bigger dominance over everything. On an average day, I can ignore the eighty percent telling me that I should have gone to college to get a better job like all my friends are working towards and write pretty prose into my works. Bad days like today and suddenly that college application to my local community college starts mocking me in the corner of my room, saying something along the lines of, "Nah nah told you so!"

I typically call these days Writer's Block days to feed my inner troll and get him to leave me alone in a week or so. Today, the troll isn't just asking for a question to get over the bridge or all the coins in my pocket. He's asking for my firstborn, my baby story.

I'm wondering if this is happening because I haven't edited my first draft yet, or maybe if I had written it in order like some say to do this wouldn't have happened. Maybe if I had indulged a little more in me-time instead of forcing to pound out the words a little harder maybe I wouldn't be staring at my draft going, "Why did I even write this?" The funny thing? Even as I'm mulling about the house doing mindless activities like washing dishes and breathing, I'm figuring out some of my faults to the story; missing scene here, character development lacking there, etc. Hopefully I can write it all out before the troll comes over the bridge again.

Ugh. I hate frustration.

Monday, June 6, 2011

so many topics, so little time.

I think my brain's been trying to explode on me for the last few hours between the few things I wanted to cover in my next post on my blog, and it's really taken about two days for me to finally straighten it out and say, "Okay, I think I got this now. Quick, write it before it changes its mind."

The first thing I wanted to talk about was the whole post here from WSJ (@wsj via twitter). Being a little new to the whole Twitter network and blogging lifestyle as a whole, I turned on my iPad Sunday morning to find my newsfeed in the process of a nuclear warhead explosion. Some of my favorite writers were sounding of on the article. So what did I do? Well, I went and read it, and I have to tell you, it made perfect sense why every one of my favorite authors were frothing at the mouth over it. Saying that a YA book is 'too gruesome, scary, or destructive for children to read' made me want to start spamming my own little 160 character attacks right back at WSJ.

Did anyone ever stop to think what kind of world we live in today? Welcome to 2011, home of murder every day, robberies closer than you know, drug addictions around every corner, and abductions if a child isn't careful enough. If parents think that just because you can shun a child through some books that accurately tell close-to-home tales like a girl cutting herself or another one refusing to eat to stay in her comfort zone, people need to open their eyes. Kids are exposed to this way earlier than when a kid can pick up a book and read it front to back without using a dictionary or asking a friend what something means. School, the internet, and their own parents are just as destructive as a book can be to the hands of the wrong child.

Then you have to contend with the other part. You know, no one ever forces a kid to read Harry Potter or Twilight. The books on YA shelves weren't put there to complete a summer reading list or made a parent happy that they'll be ahead of their class by reading something advanced. They're there for a reason; it's what they want to read. And kids pick them up for a reason too; they want to read it. I'm not going to say that peers don't factor into it, because I know first-hand that they do, but it certainly isn't the whole iceberg.

Overall, it really boils down to an individual basis. Not all kids are going to digest Fallen the same way, just like not all kids are going to read the Blue Bloods series and not take the same thing away from it. Each child, teenager, young adult, adult or what have you, is different, and will read and interpret everything different too. So for WSJ to say that we need to watch out for those 'Darkness Too Visible' books, shame on them. I can't tell you how many books I read longing to feel like I held self-worth or value, or that it was normal to be weird and not fit in. Reading those fantasy and paranormal books that gave me a new world to dive into provided me with that escape that kept my sanity in check and left me feeling better than ever.

What about you? Sound off on the #YAsaves hashtag either on Twitter (you can follow me on the right side of the screen) or post something in the comments!