Posted in Writing Stuff Down

Welp, November

Um….hey! Long time, no see?

For some reason it’s almost been a year since I last posted, and I’m pretty sure the last time I posted something I was declaring 2016 to be The Year I Post Every Day.

Yeah…that obviously didn’t happen.

But here we are on the first day of November, and suddenly I’m re-declaring that I will Post Something Every Day This Month because dammit it’s November and it’s the month when we’re all supposed to be thankful about something and dammit I’m thankful for writing.

Because, if you look at this blog, I used to write. A lot, even. And I enjoyed it. A lot, even.

But hey, things happen. 2016 happened. Alan Rickman and David Bowie died and suddenly I decided to stop writing, or something. Or suddenly the fate of our country became at stake because this 2016 Presidential Election is never-ending and soul consuming and writing seems not-so-important anymore.

But it is important. And I will get back into it, even if no one reads my writing. That’s cool…I’m not in it for profit or fame, it’s just something that makes me feel good. And after the year this country – this world – has had, I think everyone needs to do something that makes them feel good.

So sit back and enjoy November. It may not seem like it, but you’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

Posted in Catching TV, Living Life, Writing Stuff Down

Get the Funk Out

Reader, I’m in a funk.  You know that feeling where you want to do stuff but you just don’t want to?  Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m going through right now.  Granted things have been a little more stressful than normal, between my daughter’s kindergarten screenings (she’s a supershy introvert, so you can imagine how well those are going) and just everyday life, but I haven’t found the inspiration to do anything that I feel like I need to do, like blogging and reading.

lazy2This is more like it.

I’m currently reading L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon, which I chose because it falls under the “I’m slightly stressed and need comfort reading” books.  But I’m not getting very far into it – not because it’s not good, but because my mind keeps saying things like, “You should check Pinterest” or “Go see if your Ruzzle opponent has taken their turn yet” or “I wonder if Nathan Fillion has tweeted any words of wisdom lately.”  Distracted by useless technology?  You betcha.

212091463671018158_jiANUQiO_fHappens to the best of us.

I tell myself that I’m going to read that list of YA books I’ve been wanting to get to, but let me tell you, those Betsy-Tacy, Harry Potter, and Laura Ingalls Wilder books have been looking awfully tempting lately.  Comfort reading at its finest.

And you know how I’m trying to watch at least five new movies a month?  Well, it’s March 22 and I have yet to watch a new movie this month.  However, my reason isn’t as lame as you think it might be.  I’ve actually been cruising through a bunch of TV I’ve been wanting to watch, mainly because I haven’t wanted to commit myself to a two-hour movie.

Of course I have no problem with watching six straight hours of Downton Abbey, but whatever.

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In addition to catching up on season two of Downton Abbey (although I’m still a season behind), I caught up on Supernatural, Glee, Doctor Who and watched the first two seasons of Sherlock.

Side note:  I fracking love Sherlock.  Seriously.  Probably my favorite show of the year.  And I’m including the rest of the year in that statement, because I know I won’t see anything better (save maybe Doctor Who).  I have a “thing” for Benedict Cumberbatch, and when I say “thing” I mean HE JUST MAY BE THE BEST THING EVER.  And I just want to hug Martin Freeman and never let go.

b018ttwsI am _ _ _ _ locked.

Downton Abbey was my go-to when I was feeling super stressed out.  Why?  Maybe because it’s so far removed from my life that I was able to escape with no problem.  Or maybe it was just because I love hating Mary Crawley.  Seriously, when does that chick NOT have a stick up her skinny English bum?  She’s awesome in such a horrible way.  I must find a way to watch season 3 even though it’s no longer available on PBS.  Any suggestions?

downton-abbey-maryAll I do is sigh.

And even though things are starting to fall back into place life-wise, I still don’t have an urge to watch a movie.  Maybe it’s because our TV is broken (my lovely daughter innocently cracked the screen with a necklace, and now it’s dead) and watching a movie on the laptop isn’t the same.  Or maybe it’s because it’s been so long that I’ve been caught up on my TV watching that I’ve come to realize that I can start a brand new show, which is just as exciting as starting a new relationship.  So many shows to pick from!  Do I choose Mad MenRoswellAmerican Horror Story?

Well, since I’m not sure I want to commit myself to a show that already has five or more seasons under their belt, last night I started watching Twin Peaks, a show I’ve been wanting to watch for about 15 years now but never got around to it.  But since it’s on Netflix and only has two seasons, it’s the perfect show to get into.

David-Lynch-is-Said-to-Have-Met-With-NBC-to-Discuss-Reviving-‘Twin-Peaks’-01The Douglas Firs smell amazing.

And guess what?  After just two episodes, I’m kind of addicted.  Actually I was addicted after about two minutes, but whatever.  It’s one of those shows that would never work in this day of television.  The premise would, but the style of filming is so different and odd and slow that people wouldn’t be able to wrap their brain around it.  Oh, and it’s David Lynch.  Lots of people are afraid of David Lynch.  Which is why it’s such an awesome show.  Can’t wait to go home and watch the rest.

twin_peaksMainly because of Kyle MacLachlan

As for my writing funk, well, I’m writing now, so I consider that to be an improvement.  I look for inspiration in everything, and it seems that whenever I go on the site Hello Giggles, I get inspired to blog my ass off.  Not only do I want to be one of their contributers – because let’s be honest, I WOULD FIT RIGHT IN – but I want to start my own site that’s just like theirs.

Unfortunately I’m not best friends with Zooey Deschanel, so it might be a tad bit more difficult for that to happen.

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Another place I find inspiration is Felicia Day’s The Flog (Felicia + blog = FLOG), which is her five minute (give or take) long YouTube show.  It’s basically just her talking about her top five random things.  Whenever I watch it I always think, “Now, that’s something I could totally do.  I want my own Flog.”  Of course I wouldn’t call it my Flog, and I wouldn’t even try to combine my name with the word “blog” (dlog?).  But I could come up with something loosely based on her model.

The-Flog

So last week I came up with a concept for a YouTube show called “Odds and Thens” which would focus on 80s and 90s nostalgia.  Find something relevant to a random year, like Rainbow Brite, or the banana clip, and introduce it to a brand new generation.  Each show would be a different topic:  movies, music, TV, toys, etc.  And then I thought I could do special section where I read random passages from my middle school and high school journals.  Because that’s some funny shiz.

Of course this is all just in the brainstorming phase, and of course I’m terrified to actually be on camera (do I have to do my hair?  Make-up?  Do I have to wear cute clothes?), so who knows if it’s actually going to happen.  I like to think that someday it will.

In the meantime, though, I’ll continue to find inspiration whether it’s from Hello Giggles, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, Instagram and on the rare occasion, Facebook, though I’ve been feeling quite uninspired from the ‘book as of late.  To be honest, peeps, the future of social networking is on the Path app, but since everyone I know is on FB, I pretty much just talk to myself the whole time.  Which is sometimes okay.

unnamedStill a better social network than FB.

By the way, another thing that really helps is a good support network of real people, not just the ones on the interwebs.  Bottom line?  I have some pretty awesome friends.  You peeps know who you are.

How do you get through your funks?  What inspires you to keep calm and carry on?

Posted in Writing Stuff Down

An Anniversary Worth Writing About

Without much ado, a small feat was accomplished on June 24, 2012.  When I remembered, I quietly congratulated myself and went on with my day, smiling as I remembered that June afternoon twenty years ago when I first picked up that purple marker and red Mead 3-subject notebook.

And I began writing.

That’s right – I became a writer twenty years ago on June 24, 1992.  To some it may seem like a silly date to remember.  But I’m good with dates – seriously, I remember the weirdest, most random dates – and this particular date has always been important to me.  The day I started writing was the day I became ME.

Now when I say that I became a writer, I’m not talking about “A Published Writer of Stories”.  Duh.  I was thirteen years old.  I had just finished seventh grade.  I was in love with Edward Furlong.  My best friends were Becky and Elizabeth.  I was taking tennis lessons.  Batman Returns had just opened in theaters.  That’s what was going on that summer.

But something made me reach for that red notebook and start writing.  To this day I don’t really know what it was.  But I just started writing about whatever was on my mind (at the time it was about Punky Brewster), and I never stopped.

Writing – or journaling – became the most important thing in my life after that.  I took that red notebook and marker (I would only use the skinny Crayola markers to write) everywhere with me.  I wrote in the car.  I wrote while I ate breakfast.  I wrote while hanging out at a friend’s house.  Like a true writer, I wrote whenever the hell I got the chance.  And when I finished that first red notebook, I went out and got another one.

A few months into eighth grade I became friends with Kate, who also began journaling.  I suddenly had a writing buddy, which is like the best thing to have when you’re a writer.  Suddenly you have someone who shares the same passion as you, and who understands what it means to love to write.

We would swap notebooks and read each other’s entries, because she was the only one I trusted to read my notebook.  We would even read our entries to each other over the phone.  And when our journaling advanced to actual story-writing (see this post here), we would critique each other’s stories, like we were each other’s editors.

That lasted pretty much through the end of high school, though we sort of stopped the whole reading each other’s notebooks towards the end because, well, we just grew up.  When I went off to college I continued writing, and I was writing more than ever, mostly during lecture classes that bore the hell out of me, and I needed a way to stay awake.

Which is probably why I didn’t do so hot in that Intro to Journalism class, but whatever.  I was probably better off than the guy next to me who slept the entire semester.

I was writing more stories, and they were becoming more advanced, aka better.  I was starting to find my voice in not only story-writing, but also journaling.  My entries were starting to be a little more exciting and thoughtful and more than just “I saw so-and-so today and he looked at me!!!”, which is basically what my high school journals were all about.

I used to keep track of how many pages I was writing, plus how many notebooks I had completed.  I remember reaching notebook #50 and thinking that was the greatest thing in the world.  Reaching 10,000pages was awesome and a feat that none of my friends at the time could wrap their heads around.*

*Note:  I stopped keeping track of page numbers a long time ago because I got so far behind.  If I had to guess, I’d say I’m around 50,000 right now, give or take a few thousand.  But that’s just a guess.
When I moved out to California after college, all my notebooks came with me, much to the despair of my parents who had to drive them all out for me.  But those notebooks were part of me, and I couldn’t just leave them behind.

You know, it’s funny…when I think about how I just packed up and moved to CA after I finished college and how I wasn’t even scared.  My friends were amazed that I was able to do it so easily, and I think back and realize that the reason why I was okay was because I had my notebook with me.  It was like a friend, watching over me when I moved.  And yes, I realize that sounds silly.  But if I felt scared or nervous or just out of place, I would just start writing in my notebook.  It was the only familiar thing I had with me, and I found comfort in that.

For the next seven years, I would continue writing pages and pages every day the way I had since I started back in 1992.  Writing was like brushing my teeth.  Just part of the routine that I didn’t even have to think about anymore.

And then I got pregnant.

Weird things happen to you when you get pregnant.  Not only does your appetite change (give me chicken fingers NOW), but things that you once found enjoyable suddenly seem, well, not so enjoyable.  For example, my taste in movies changed.  My taste in books changed.  Nothing I owned seemed acceptable to me, and all I wanted to watch was HGTV.

And I stopped writing.

It sounds horrible.  Being pregnant should be the most important time to be writing because you want to chronicle every thing  you’re going through.  The thought of writing made me nauseous (especially during the first two months, haha), and just seemed like a chore to me.

And when I finally had my daughter?  Forget about it.  Writing was the last thing on my mind.  And at that point I actually got used to not writing, which is something that I thought would never happen.  Once in a while I would see my notebook sitting there and I would think, “Hey, I should try write something”.  But then the thought of having to start up again after almost two years felt like such a burden that I wouldn’t do it.

But as my daughter got older and we got more of a routine down, I slowly began writing again.  But I wasn’t writing in notebooks.  I wasn’t journaling.  I was simply focused on story-writing on my laptop.  It felt good to be writing again.  But it wasn’t the same.

In July of 2011 I started this blog, which is the closest I got to journaling the way I used to, and that felt good.  It felt more like writing than the stories I was working on, and it slowly led me to finding my voice again, which sometimes got lost in my stories.

Fast forward a couple of years to February 2012.  We had moved to Minnesota after spending almost 11 years there.  I stopped working retail, which I think was partly to blame for my lack of journaling.  I had a normal job again – a job where I could bring my journal and have it at my desk and occasionally jot some thoughts and ideas into it.

Suddenly I was journaling again.  I was really writing again.  I was ME again.

So it’s now been twenty years, and I feel like I’m back to my old ways.  I journal when I need to.  I work on stories when I get into the mood.  And I blog when I feel like sharing things with the world.  Writing is still my favorite thing to do, and the most therapeutic part of my life (and it’s FREE!).  Writing is something I will always recommend to people, and it’s one of those things where it’s never too late to start.  There are some good resources online about getting started in writing, whether it’s journaling or blogging or story-writing.  Remember, it doesn’t matter what you’re write.  You’re writing, and that’s all that matters!

Here’s to another twenty years!

Posted in Learning Things, Writing Stuff Down

Copyright Laws and Why My Head May Explode

You may have noticed a slight change in my blog as of late. One look at it and it’s easy to ask oneself…

WHERE DID ALL THE PICTURES GO?

Well, I’ll explain that.

The other day I read a horrifying article about copyright infringement in blogs, ie, taking other people’s photos and posting them into my blog. Turns out I’m totally breaking that law (along with millions of other people) without even realizing it. The person who wrote the article had the unfortunate instance where a photographer actually contacted her and not only told her to take the picture down (which she did right away), but that she has to pay him an obscene amount of money for the previous use of his photo. She didn’t have the money, lawyers got involved, and it was a big ol’ mess. All because of a single photo that she innocently posted on her own blog despite the fact that she credited it.

So you may be thinking that the odds of this happening to you or me are slim. Very slim. But there’s proof that it definitely does happen. Larger companies actually hire people called “infringement trolls” to scope the web looking for photos used without permission. And really, all those infringement trolls have to do is go to Pinterest, because that site is about 99% copyright infringement. That’s the point of Pinterest. You find a picture you like and you “pin” it so you can show everyone else how cool it is.

But most of those pictures you find are copyrighted, and most of us don’t get permission from the original source to pin them. Because that would take all the fun out of Pinterest.*

*Here’s an interesting article regarding the legality of Pinterest, if you’re interested in more info: http://ddkportraits.com/2012/02/why-i-tearfully-deleted-my-pinterest-inspiration-boards/.

This really sucks for bloggers like me. I happen to think that certain photos add a lot to blogs and make them more readable. And like Alice once said, “How can one possibly pay attention to a book with no pictures in it?”*

*Damn, I’d better source that quote. Um…Lewis Carroll wrote the book…but the quote is from the Disney movie…so…um…I don’t f***ing know. Sorry.

But after reading this article and doing loads of brain-numbing research since then, the fear set in. I felt the same fear ten years ago when I got my first iPod and discovered how to get free songs from the internet (that quickly stopped after I heard about the first lawsuit).

Which brings me to another tangent…when does music fall into Fair Use or copyright infringement? Remember back in the day when you’d make mixed tapes (or CDS, whatever) for your friends? Those things were my go-tos for awesome birthday presents. They were free (except for the cost of the blank tape or CD), they were personal, and everyone loved them. But they can apparently also throw your ass in jail. All because you wanted to share your love of music with others.

I’m not making these tapes or CDs to sell on the black market. All my friend is going to do is listen to the CD in her car on her way to work. So where’s the harm?

What if I post a video of myself dancing to a Rihanna song (which I would never do…that’s something you never want to see…)? Can I be sued for using her song and publishing it without permission? I’m not commenting or reviewing it, but is it still Fair Use?

Where do we draw the line?

Anyway, last night I spent three hours going through this blog, all 104 posts, and removed any image that could get my ass in trouble.

Needless to say, my blog is fairly boring now.

I didn’t take everything out. I left in pictures I took myself (which aren’t very many), and I left in book covers and movie posters. According to the many articles I read, book covers and movie posters should be covered by the Fair Use Act, which means you can use a picture of something if it’s used for commentary or criticism. For example, many people like to write reviews for books and movies in their blogs. And the natural thing to want to do is post a picture of that book or movie to accompany the review. Apparently that’s okay.*

*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer so don’t take any of this seriously without consulting a real one.

I understand if you’re an artist or photographer and you put your stuff out there and then someone tries to claim it as their own. Yeah, that would piss me off. But according to the law, that would only be plagiarism. There’s a different between plagiarism and copyright infringement, one being protected by the law, and one not. But if you post a photo of something you like, even go so far as to credit and link to the original source, how is that a bad thing? You’re not gaining anything from it, and I don’t think (re: I’m totally not sure) the artist is losing anything from it. If anything you’re helping promote their art, right?

Am I totally in the wrong here? Maybe I need to talk to actual photographers and artists about this. I’m sure they look at it from a completely different point of view, since that’s how they make their living. But in all honestly, bloggers and reviewers like me only have good intentions when we post something that “belongs” to someone else. I’m not trying to post a picture of Ryan Gosling on my site and saying, “Hey, look at this awesome picture I took!” Trust me, if I was able to take a picture of a half-naked Ryan Gosling with my own camera, YOU WOULD KNOW.

I talk a lot about books and movies in my blog posts, and I love to show the covers of things. Since I’m writing about them as commentary, that should be fair use.

But all the screen caps, all the pictures of celebrities and cute boys…GONE. Everything I love…GONE.

TOTALLY SUCKS.

This isn’t to say that you can’t put any pictures on your blog. Obviously you can upload pictures you’ve taken yourself, which means that I’m going to have to start taking more pictures (I’m very lacking in that department). I still don’t have an iPhone (can I use that word? Is it copyrighted???????), so I don’t have the means to easily take pictures and upload them. I have an iPad (COPYRIGHT????), but people tend to make fun of other people who take pictures with their iPad. And it’s not the most convenient way to do it anyway.

There are also FREE pictures to use online from sites like Creative Commons, Flickr (though you have to check on Flickr to see if it’s copyrighted), and Morgue File, and you can also pay a small fee more access to thousands of stock (re: boring) photos.

It’s not the same, but in this day and age where people like to sue for anything, it’s the only safe way to do things. I still don’t know how the government and their little trolls are going to combat billions of people from doing this because EVERYONE does this without even knowing it – just look at Facebook. Those pictures you took the other night at the U2 concert? Totally illegal. It seems impossible to control, especially given how fast the internet has grown over the past ten years, but apparently they’re trying.

AND THEY’RE OUT TO GET YOU.*

*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer so don’t take any of this seriously without consulting a real one.**

**But they’re still probably watching what you’re doing RIGHT NOW.

Posted in Reading Books, Writing Stuff Down

What’s Wrong with Fan Fiction?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with fan fiction.

Nothing.

Ever since fan fiction started to gain popularity in the late 90s (re: the dawn of the internet), it’s earned a bad reputation.  “It’s not real writing.”  “It’s not original.”  “It’s plagiarism.”  “It’s a waste of time.”  But to someone who loves to write and is a fan of a lot of things, I stand here today to defend the writers of fan fiction, aka “fanfic” and to reassure them that what they’re doing should be appreciated and respected.

Fanfic is exactly what it sounds like:  fictional stories created by fans of a certain published work.  For example, there are thousands of fanfic stories that take place in the world of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Twilight, Lord of the Rings, and other such works.  Some writers stay within that world, and some do crossovers, for instance, having Frodo stumble upon Hogwarts on his way to Mordor.  Fanfic usually refers to written stories, but it also may apply to artwork.

Admittedly, a lot of fanfic is ridiculous (not to mention filled with spelling and grammatical errors).  I would probably never seek out fanfic devoted to Legolas erotica, nor would I want to read about “a very special relationship” between Batman and Superman.  But there’s some fanfic out there that I find truly interesting.  I follow a blogger who does mostly Harry Potter fanfic based on the backstories of the original Hogwarts founders.  To me that’s interesting because it’s something that no one knows about except for J.K. Rowling, because we can make up our own backstories to enrich the stories that much more.

And that’s basically what fanfic is.  It’s a way for us to either extend a world that we love so much that might have ended too soon, or it’s a way for us to insert parts we felt were missing from the story.  You wanted Aang to hook up with Toph in Avatar: The Last Airbender?  Write it yourself!  It’s like imagining “what could have been” and just having fun with it.

I’ve never really written true fanfic – I’ve never even dared writing a story that takes place at Hogwarts or that takes place where Firefly left off – not because I have no interest in it, but because it seems like such a daunting task.  Not only would I be meddling in something that’s already fantastic, but I would really have to know my shiz.  You can’t just start writing fanfic based on Lord of the Rings just because you liked the movies.  You have to know a TON about every character and the story just so what you’re writing actually makes sense.  And trust me, people who read fanfic on the internet will let you know after the first paragraph whether you’re half-assing it or not.

How I began writing twenty years ago, however, was taking certain actors that I liked at the time and writing about their personal life intertwining with my main character.  One example would be my character meeting Matt Damon before he became a big star and then they get together and he basically lives his real life, just alongside a fictional character that I created.  I wrote a similar story revolving around Orlando Bloom while he was in drama school before Lord of the Rings came around.  I guess you can say it was like “real life fanfic”.  Completely fictional based on real-life events.  Like Lifetime movies.  But still fanfic.

Fanfic writers will most likely never get published, though there are certain authors who absolutely do not allow anyone to write fanfic on websites like FanFiction.net, like Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire) and George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones).  Other authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, however, support the art of fanfic and seem to encourage it among their fans (though I wonder what Rowling thinks of all the Harry/Draco shippers out there).

So what are the most popular brands of fanfic that people are writing?  On Fanfiction.net, the number one fanfic work based on movies is Star Wars, followed by Pirates of the Caribbean and High School Musical.  The top three TV shows generating fanfic are GleeSupernatural, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  And when it comes to books themselves, the big three are Harry Potter, Twilightand Lord of the Rings.  No big surprises, though I’m a little shocked to see Newsies in the top ten.  Looks like I wasn’t the only one who knew its potential!

A lot of people don’t see fanfic as legitimate writing, which I think is crap.  So it’s usually not the best writing in the world.  But you know what?  Writing is writing.  I don’t care if you’re writing in your diary about your day, blogging about arts and crafts, or writing a story about Loki (like my co-worker is currently doing).  If you’re writing, your brain is working.  If you’re writing, you’re using your imagination.  If you’re writing, you’re creating.  And that’s what’s most important.

So don’t feel like you’re less than a writer if you like to write fanfic.  What do you think all those fairy tale retellings are?  They’re fanfic in its purest form.  If you like to write it, keep on writing and don’t stop.  Because sometimes a different point of view is all we need to fully understand and appreciate a story that we already love.

Happy reading and writing, fans!

Posted in Reading Books, Writing Stuff Down

A Balancing Act

I love to read (duh).  And I love to write (obvious).  But do you know what I hate to do?  Read and write at the same time.

I know it sounds silly.  How can one not read and write at the same time, when the two sort of go hand-in-hand?  Well, let me clarify. When I start reading a book, I don’t like to have any distractions.  I love the feeling of when I’m on a roll, going through a book every few days.  I feel like my mind has been expanded and enriched and all that other scientific study stuff.

I feel the same way when I’m writing whatever story I happen to be working on at that moment.  When I get on a roll with my writing, writing thirty pages a day, I feel awesome, like I actually accomplished something other than going to work and making dinner.

And here is where I run into trouble.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot do these two things I love at the same time.  I’m not talking about holding a pen in one hand and book in the other.  I’m saying that if I’m working on a story all night, I can’t pick up a book before I go to bed and transition into that world.  I end up looking little like this:

It doesn’t matter how good the book is, either.  If storylines and plots and dialogue are running through my head, I just can’t devote myself with someone else’s work.  I picked up the book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children from the library last week, thrilled that I had finally found it at a library, and read the first three chapters that night.  It was off to a great start, and I couldn’t wait to plow through it the next day.

Spooky!

And then I began writing a new story.  I started working on it on my lunch break at work, and then the words just flew out of my pen that night.  I wrote a ton of pages, and my story had taken over my brain.

So when I picked up Miss Peregrine later that night, I just couldn’t get into it.  It almost felt like I was cheating on my story.  I was afraid that if I started to read a completely different story, I would forget what my own was about.  I wouldn’t be able to think of clever dialogue while I was reading someone else’s dialogue.  So I put the book down…and haven’t picked it up since.

But there is one good thing in all this.  I’m writing like a crazy woman.  It would be really bad if I wasn’t reading OR writing and instead just sitting on the couch watching old episodes of Saved By the Bell.  And the great thing is that once I hit that big wall call Writer’s Block (don’t worry, it’ll happen), I know that I can turn to plenty of books for inspiration.

In fact, many books I’ve read have lead me back to stories I’ve started but never finished because they’ve inspired me in some ways.  And just in case that happens soon (even though I wrote another load of pages today), I picked up the following books from the library tonight:

Her book Delirium inspired me to go back to writing after a long drought, so I’m excited to get into this one.

I actually have the first one as an eBook, and got the second one tonight.  For some reason I always get inspired by dystopian teen novels, so I can’t wait to read these.

I’ve heard great things about this book, and the fact that the NY Times used words “dark”, “dangerous”, and “twisted”, I think it sounds like something that could inspire me.

So even though I’m fully invested in writing my story right now, I’m really going to try separate the two and finish Miss Peregrine even while I’m writing.  I know it’s possible to do.  How else do full-time authors read other people’s work?  For my fellow writers out there:  Any tips on how to accomplish this?

Because there’s nothing worse than a writer who doesn’t read.

Happy reading/writing (but not at the same time)!

Posted in Writing Stuff Down

First World Problems

We as a human race tend to complain about a lot about things.   That’s just part of our nature.  Something bothers us, we complain.  But in the grand scheme of things, none of these things are really valid things to complain about.  It’s not like we’re complaining about no clean water to drink, or no clean place to go to the bathroom.  No, it tends to be about things like no Starbucks nearby to get our daily caffeine jolt, or nothing to wear simply because we’re sick of all our clothes.

Well, here’s another pointless problem for you: the disk drive in our MacBook Pro laptop is broken, so we have to take it to the Apple store to have it get fixed, which means they’ll probably have to send it in, which means I’ll be without an actual computer for a few days.  Which means either I not blog, or I blog from my iPad.  Which I happen to be doing right now.

And let me tell you….IT SUCKS.  When I’m not dealing with auto-correct (which I’m turning off as soon as I finish this), I’m dealing with the tiny, flat keyboard and the fact that I don’t know if I’m inserting pictures correctly.  I’ve already lost one picture, and I don’t want to even try get it back.  Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to publish this thing.

So there you go.  I’m complaining about owning both a laptop and an iPad, which makes me sound like a total douche, given the fact that kids in some parts of the world have not and will never see either of those items.  So I apologize.  But if I go a few days without blogging, well, you know why.

Happy…er…um…oh, just go complain about something pointless.

Posted in Writing Stuff Down

2011 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Catching TV, Geeking Out, Listening to Music, Reading Books, Watching Movies, Writing Stuff Down

Giving Thanks

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to acknowledge all that I’m thankful for in this world.  Of course I’m thankful for my family and friends and the health of my loved ones, but I’d like to give thanks to the little things in my life, the little things that make my life just a little bit better everyday.  So a big THANK YOU to:

1.  The Rolling Hills Starbucks for always getting my drink right.

2.  Glee, for giving me a reason to watch TV on Tuesday nights.

3.  Britney Spears, for coming back better than ever.

4.  M&Ms, for being evil and amazing at the same time.

5.  My car, for understanding me.

6.  Meg Cabot, Suzanne Collins, Lauren Oliver, Lauren DeStefano, Carrie Ryan, Shannon Hale, and Cassandra Clare, for writing books that I LOVE.

7.  J.K. Rowling, for being determined to get Harry Potter published even though hundreds of publishers turned you down.

8.  Suri’s Burn Book, for making me laugh out loud every single time I read it.

9.  Team Umi Zoomi, for making my daughter obsessed with counting and measuring things.

10.  Apple, for creating the iPod ten years ago and letting me love music even more.

11.  Peter Jackson, for creating three movies that changed my life.

12.  Sweden, for being awesome.

13.  Facebook, not for being a huge time-waster, but for keeping me connected to friends across the miles.

14.  Christian Bale, for existing.

15.  The iPhone app Flower Garden, for giving me the excuse to say, “I need to water my flowers.”

16.  Nathan Fillion, for being Captain Mal, and for putting your hand on my shoulder.

17.  Disney, for keeping fairy tales alive.

18.  My daughter, for being just as much of a smart-ass as me.

19.  Bacon, for your wonderful smell.

20.  Angry Birds, for making me ANGRY.

21.  Kelly Clarkson, for belting it out.  Every.  Single.  Time.

22.  IKEA, for furnishing my entire apartment.

23.  Twitter, for turning me into a young adult lit author stalker.

24.  Doctor Who, for Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.

25.  Comic-Con, for the chance to be around 100,00 people just like me for five days.

26.  The clouds, for making it rain every now and then.

27.  Krista Huot, for creating some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen.

28.  Target, for always having what I need…even when I don’t need it.

29.  The Walking Dead, for making me hope that a zombie apocalypse will NEVER happen, no matter how entertaining it is to watch on TV.

30.  Everyone who’s ever read this blog, because it’s nice to know someone is listening.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Posted in Writing Stuff Down

A Wanna-Be Writer of Stories

As some of you might have noticed, I like to blog.  But what a lot of you may not know is that I also write stories.  It’s true!  I’m an author.  An unpublished author who can’t seem to finish a story, but an author in my own right.  In fact, other than journaling, which I’ve been doing for almost 20 years, it’s what I do the most.  And okay…I’ll admit…I actually haven’t worked on any kind of story in six months.  But sometimes a writer just needs a break.  I was working really hard on it….I just got overwhelmed…and slightly lazy…and…oh yeah…this happened:

It’s a common ailment amongst us writers, and other writers will tell you that the only way to cure writer’s block is to JUST KEEP WRITING.  A bunch of crap might come out as a result, but at least you’re getting it out.  And hey…something good may just come out, too.

As for me…well, I just stop writing.

But today I came across the last story I was working on – a young adult novel about…well, it’s currently being changed for the 600th time, so I don’t really know what it’s about – and I totally got in the mood to work on it again.  It’s been six months – I think I can return to it with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.  So immediately following the publishing of this post, I will write at least one page of my soon-to-be-determined Great American Young Adult Novel.

But before that, let me tell you a little bit about my history of writing stories.  It’s somewhat hilarious, if I do say so myself, but aren’t all hobbies?

It all started back in 1993, back when I used things known as pen and paper.  I was 14 years old at the time, and my bestie and I were hardcore journalers with huge crushes on unattainable boys.  And then came the day when I decided, “Hey, instead of just daydreaming about meeting Christian Bale and having him fall head over heels in love with me, I’ll write a story about it!”  I’m serious…this is what went through my mind.  So I did what any other semi-normal 14-year-old would have done: I picked a name for the heroine of my amazing soon-to-written story.  I was watching the TV show “Salute Your Shorts” at the time, and one of the characters name was Dina.  So I stole that name, along with the last name of one of my arch enemies – actress Fay Masterson – and voila!  The name Dina Masterson was born.

Well, Dina had to have a best friend, of course, and the first name that popped into my head was Melanie.  I didn’t know a Melanie at the time, so this worked for me.  Her last name didn’t really matter to me, so I just picked Johnson because, well, I was 14 and I lived in Minnesota and there are a lot of Johnsons there.  Melanie was red-haired, and her fiery personality matched the color of her hair.  Of course.  Because cliches mean nothing to 14-year-olds.

Anyway, these names may not sound important to you, but guess what…I have used these names in every story I’ve written since then.  I’m serious!  Almost 20 years later and Dina Masterson and Melanie Johnson still exist.  The stories have fortunately evolved and gotten waaaaaaay better since the very first story I wrote…the one where Dina writes a letter to Christian Bale and tells him that she’s dying – dying!! – and that her only wish is to meet him.

Because that could totally happen.

Um, did I mention that Dina was lying???  Oh yeah, she totally pulled a Bobby Brady and pretended to have some fatal disease just so she could meet Christian Bale.  And here’s the second kicker – Mr. Bale wasn’t even upset!!!!  He had a good laugh over the whole thing and proceeded to fall in love with Dina.

Yes, I was a very talented 14-year-old author who was way ahead of her time.

Well, this started a whole series of weird stories that involved Dina meeting and falling in love with random famous people that my bestie and I were crushing on at the time.  Seriously, the list of boys that Dina has dated is astounding.  Check this out:

Christian Bale (see above)

Justin Timberlake (Dina was a childhood best friend and finally became more when he was an ‘N Syncer.)

Tony Lucca (I made him a typical college guy who loved frisbee or something…no mention of The Mickey Mouse Club.)

Ryan Gosling (MMC days…way before The Notebook...I think he and Dina were 14 or something when they dated.)

JC Chasez (He was on The Mickey Mouse Club as well – then again Dina and Melanie dated practically every guy on that show anyway…but in this story JC was a vampire.  Yes, I totally beat Stephenie Meyer with that one.)

The Mysterious High School Boy I Had a Crush On (For privacy reasons – and because it’s super embarrassing – I won’t say the name of this person that Dina dated.  But this character went on to play college basketball for the University of Michigan, with Dina being ever-supportive by his side.)

Matt Damon (This was the first guy Dina actually married…after he hit her with his car on his way home from an audition for…wait for it…Geronimo…right after he did School Ties.  She was with him all throughout the Good Will Hunting stuff…they got married in 2001).

Orlando Bloom (Dina met him at drama school in England, making this the first story that took place outside of the US.  This is still my longest story to date….over 600 pages…but still has no ending.  It’s morphed into a different story several times, with Orlando Bloom eventually becoming Jake Gyllenhaal…but I changed his name to Jeremy Radcliffe because he was Welsh and NOT Jake Gyllenhaal.  Confused?  So was I.  But I am proud to say that I did a HUGE amount of research for this story, research on London and Carlisle (Dina’s hometown) and all the different types of British dialects.  It also probably contained my most fleshed out characters at that time, which has only gotten better.)

Jake Gyllenhaal (Like I said above, his name in the story was Jeremy Radcliffe (he was only based on The Gyllenhaal), and after I changed him from being a Welsh drama student with Dina, he became a Welsh photographer and Dina was a librarian.  This also became a really long story that went absolutely nowhere.  I did, however, like the character of Jeremy, and used him again in a story where he was an American photographer, not Welsh, and Dina had just gotten jilted off a reality dating show.)

Zac Efron (This is embarrassing…being 32 years old and mentioning Zac Efron’s name…but again I was just using him as inspiration for my story, my first high school story I had written in a really long time.  He was the right age, and he had the right look for the character I created…once again named Jeremy Radcliffe because I can’t seem to get that name out of my head…but this guy was a total science nerd – a hot one!  This story is actually one of the two that I consider myself still writing.  I go back and forth.)

Chord Overstreet  (It didn’t start out being him, but I made the mistake of naming my guy character Sam, and since Chord Overstreet played a guy named Sam on the show Glee, my character just sort of turned into him.  This is my current current story – the one I will try to continue writing tonight…where Dina is a Swedish princess in hiding, and he’s her bodyguard.  All while trying to finish their senior year of high school.)

Dina has also had some pretty interesting careers herself, next to dating all these men:  elementary school teacher, sports journalist, British soap star, singer, librarian, retail manager…I even had her working in mortgage.  Because only I know how boring that job really is.

You’re probably laughing at my little summaries, and you have every right to.  These stories are ridiculous.  But they’re so much fun to write.  I love doing over-the-top amounts of research, mainly because I’m obsessed with details and making sure every fact is right.  And it makes me feel like I’m actually using my English degree.

I may write another 250 stories, and maybe I’ll finish one.  I probably won’t get one published, unless I’m able to quit my full-time job and devote all my time and energy to writing and finding an agent and an editor and all that crappy-sounding stuff.  And that’s totally cool.  Because I love writing, whether it’s a cheesy YA story with vampires or actors or science nerds, or a blog like this.  Writing is what I was born to do, and it doesn’t matter if don’t make a career out if it.  It’s just what I do.

Happy writing!

Posted in Writing Stuff Down

I’m a Part of Post-A-Day 2011

Alright, so WordPress decided to create this challenge called “Post-A-Day” (or “Post-A-Week” if you’re totally busy) where bloggers – like me – create a post every single day.  And normally I back down to challenges.  Why?  I don’t know, I guess I just don’t like competition or people challenging against me.  But this is different.  No one is challenging me to do anything.  I’m the one doing the challenge, which means I control everything.  So you know what I say to myself?

That’s right.  Bring it.

Now, I can’t promise you that every daily post will be about books or tea, or even about anything reasonably interesting.  Hell, all I may feel like or have time to post is what I had for breakfast that morning (in case you’re wondering, today I had a bowl of Puffins cereal).  But I will post something every single day for the next year.  It sounds totally intimidating, and I hope I don’t start viewing this whole blogging thing as homework, but I am going to try it.  Hell, I kept a journal for nearly twenty years (and unfortunately have gotten away from daily writing about six months ago) and hardly missed a single day.  In high school I woke up every single morning at 5 a.m. just to write in my journal.  I was that committed.  So I know I can do this.

But I am going to need some help from you guys, like people actually reading this blog.  Yeah, I’m doing this whole thing for myself and all that jazz, but it does help to have an audience.  In high school my friend Kate (check out her own blog of awesomeness, Riot and Frolic, here!) was my audience.  We both kept journals and wrote insanely weird teen romance stories and would swap them while we walked to school.  Yeah, we were probably a little weird.  But it helped that we had each other to keep us writing.

So now I need you guys to help me through.  Because I’m totally going to do this.

And I’m going to look this cool, too.

Happy reading! (of this blog)

Posted in Writing Stuff Down

And…take two

So, a year ago I set out to start a blog about all my adventures in writing.  Of course, that happened around the same time that I STOPPED writing, so unfortunately the blog never came to pass.  But what I have done – and obsessively do whenever my crazy family gives me a chance – is read.  And drink tea.  Preferably at the same time.  And what better thing to write about than the awesome books I find at the library and the awesome tea I consume? (don’t worry, I drink more than one kind).  And maybe – maybe – I’ll be inspired to write again and share some of my adventures as originally planned.  But at least in the meantime I’ll be able to fill this blog with something.  And probably with more than just tea and books.

Hot tea, hot books. Not for the faint at heart.