Archive for December, 2012

Today is the last day of 2012. Part of me is shocked – When did this happen? Where was I? Did I black out at any point in time? – and the other part is excited. A brand new year is upon us.

I actually remember quite vividly the beginning of 2012 and how hopeful and determined I was. I got a reality check fairly early on, but I never let that slow me down. This year has been – and I can say this without a doubt – the best year of my life. I accomplished so much and became a part of so many things that I value with all my heart. Not only that, but I finally cemented the idea in my head that yes, I am a writer, and yes, I will be published some day.

I feel so incredibly blessed.

The rest of this post is basically a list of everything I accomplished. I’m not doing this to brag or to show you how much I’ve gotten done. I’m sure the list isn’t nearly as inspiring or complete and yours would be. Feel free to not read it at all – it won’t bother me. This is for ME, because sometimes I feel like I haven’t done anything at all. I need these types of lists to remind me that although the steps I take may be small, they really do add up.

This is to remind me that at the beginning of 2012, I was literally standing at square one.

This is to remind me that at the end of 2012 I have become a completely different person, and in the best way possible.

This is to remind me that 2013 can and WILL be just as great as 2012 was.

~~~

Because I already do a round up post at the end of each ROW80 round, it was pretty easy to track down and grab all of my accomplishments. As a result, the list below is broken up into four parts – one for the four rounds of ROW80, each of which comprise of about three months. After the numbered points, I’ve written a few paragraphs describing my year overall. If you want to know what I did and are too lazy to read everything (:P), then just go read those!

My 2012 resolutions that I set up at the end of 2011 were pretty simple. I wanted to finish editing my completed novel (D1), start researching agents/publishers, finish writing my WIP (L1), lose 20 pounds, and read 25 new books.

I did all of this except lose 20 pounds (oops). I also didn’t get anywhere with researching agents and publishers, though I did find some great resources along the way (so I’m calling that a win anyway).

ROUND ONE:

  1. I finished editing my completed novel (D1), which was the first full-length project I ever finished.
  2. I finished my WIP (L1), which was the second full-length project I ever finished and by far the quickest written.
  3. I started writing D2, despite not being completely happy with everything I had in D1.
  4. I completed 50 blog posts, had 2,000 views, and 400 comments. I probably did a happy dance.
  5. I put D1 and D2 aside in order to focus on L1. This was the best decision I could’ve made in regards to my main projects. D1 is a dud (for now) and one of those things that needs to sit in a drawer and marinate for a while. L1 has so much more potential.
  6. I became a copyeditor for Hypable, which has been and continues to be such an incredible experience and opportunity for me.
  7. I decided to create my own Facebook page. This had been quite a scary thought at first (admitting to friends and family that I’m pursuing this whole “writer thing” seriously), but turned out to not only not be a big deal, but to remind me that my friends and family are super supportive of all of my decisions.

ROUND TWO:

  1. I wrote a short story called “The Necklace,” which is a modern twist on a Greek myth. It needs some work, but I plan on making a series out of this. Should be interesting.
  2. I wrote another short story – a twist on the Cinderella tale – for my best friend. She loved it, so I may write more for her.
  3. I finished writing “Trigger.” This is a short story that ended up in the final collection and actually became one of my favorites.
  4. I started writing Z1, the first out of 12 novellas I have planned for this series. I’m stuck on it right now, but it’s something I definitely want to pursue.
  5. I hit 100 posts on my blog. Probably did another dance.
  6. Finished writing “Found,” another short story. This one stayed in the collection as well – for now, at least.
  7. I got an iPhone, which has literally transformed my life. I can do everything 10 million times more efficiently now.
  8. I ate octopus, squid, and kimchi for the first time. Oddly enough, the cabbage was the one I hated.
  9. I saw Team StarKid in concert, which was definitely one of the highlights of my year.
  10. I joined Ladies Who Critique and found two critique partners that have helped me tremendously with edits for L1.

ROUND THREE:

  1. I wrote three short stories this round, and began editing the collection.
  2. Had both my collection and my novel critiqued by Beta readers.
  3. Started working with L.T. Ryan as his editor on his Jack Noble novels. I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate his enthusiasm and talent. I’m such a fan of his books and of him as a person, and I’m super grateful that our paths have crossed.
  4. I started writing columns for Hypable. I also started covering Teen Wolf and Percy Jackson news, and became a host on the new Once Upon a Time podcast on Hypable, called Onceable.
  5. I saw Karmin in concert – twice. It was a dream come true.
  6. I added an accomplishment page to my blog, which is a great way for me to keep tabs on everything that I’ve been doing.
  7. I passed 10,000 views on here.
  8. I won 6th place in the 81st Annual Writer’s Digest Genre Short Story competition with my horror short titled, “The Body.”

ROUND FOUR:

  1. Natalie and I started up Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast, a podcast dedicated to the show – you guessed it – Teen Wolf. This is my favorite project right now, and I’m so grateful that I am a part of it!
  2. Passed 15,000 views on the blog.
  3. I met and started working with C.G. Cooper on his book series Corps Justice.
  4. I started writing a new novel that I like to call The Watch Story. It’s just something to work on alongside all my edits, but it definitely has potential.
  5. I’ve continued editing L1, and it’s getting stronger and stronger.
  6. My short story collection is nearly complete.
  7. I’ve hit 200 posts.
  8. I had frog’s legs for the first time! Tasted like chicken.

~~~

So, what does this all mean?

Well, I elected to put away my first completed novel (my “baby” in a sense) in order to work on something that had more potential. I started several new projects that I have yet to finish, but they’re still words on a page and, therefore, a win for me. I also finished my short story collection and feel quite good about it actually being nearly complete. Winning that award didn’t hurt either.

The blog has been growing steadily, and some days I just look at the numbers and think, “People actually read what I write?” It’s a humbling experience, for sure, and something I never actually imagined happening, despite the fact that this blog is obviously a public forum. And I can’t even tell you the number of people I’ve met and befriended because of this platform. You’re all incredibly amazing, and I’ll never forget the support you all have shown me. Over a year of blogging, more than 17,000 views, over 200 posts, and 1750 comments. Is this real life?

I said it once, but I’ll say it again: joining Hypable has been an incredible experience and a wonderful opportunity for me. Not only have they allowed me to be an editor, but to spread my wings and write news articles, columns, and even become a podcaster. I feel my foot inching further and further in the door every day. And although that’s a wonderful thing, I can’t help but put an even larger emphasis on the people that I’ve met and become friends with. They live all around the world – much like you do, dear readers – which can be both enlightening and a little sad. How is it that some of the people that understand me the most, that I have the most in common with, live across the country or halfway around the world? It’s not fair. I’ve learned so much about people, different cultures, fandom, and the Internet because of them. I quite literally wouldn’t trade it for the world. (What would I do with an entire planet anyway? I can’t even remember to water the plants.)

Outside of writing, I’ve been having a good year as well. I saw two of my newest and favorite artists, Karmin and StarKid, live and in concert. Both were amazing experiences. I dove straight into eating Chinese food with a passion that my younger self wouldn’t have believed. I’ve tried so many new things and loved every second of it – even when I’ve had to spit out some of the more disgusting foods. Not to mention all I’ve learned since joining up with my local mycological society.

But none of that compares to how I’ve grown as a writer and as a person. At the beginning of 2012 I was naïve, shy, and a little scared. I’m still all of those things, but less so. And that’s a step in the right direction. I had high hopes, and even though I didn’t accomplish all of them, I started walking down the right path. This is partially – maybe even mostly – due to the blog post by Kristen Lamb called “Aspiring is for Pansies.” Yeah, that’s all it took. One blog post. Maybe I’m just really easy to persuade. Or maybe Kristen just really knows what she’s talking about. (Let’s go with the latter, shall we?)

I realized that all I want to do is become a writer. Maybe it isn’t the smartest choice. Maybe I won’t make a lot of money. Maybe I’ll constantly be fighting with those around me, trying to prove that writing is both a serious and important career choice for me. All I know is that I’m not going to give up, no matter how bumpy the road becomes. I can be an anxious person, full of indecisiveness and doubt. But this is the one thing that I’ve never, ever doubted. And it’s the one thing that I will never, ever give up on. I was meant to be a writer. And I will be.

Watching Jeff Dunham around Christmastime is a tradition in my house. Mom and I love him and his suitcase full of crazy puppets. I suppose Achmed’s rendition of “Jingle Bombs” is what made it a Christmas thing, but really…we’ll use any excuse to pull out one of the many Jeff Dunham DVDs we own and pop it in the DVD player.

I originally found him on YouTube and fell in love with the comedy, despite never really having any interest in ventriloquism acts before. I showed him to Mom, who has become just as head over heels as I have. We’ve got three of his DVDs now and have seen him live twice. Walter is her favorite, and Peanut is mine.

It always surprises me how popular Jeff is. Standup comedy is one thing, but standup comedy with dolls is quite another. But it just works. You actually forget that those silly puppets aren’t real and aren’t actually thinking for themselves. Jeff isn’t the best ventriloquist in the world – sometimes he makes mistakes or his lips will move – but he’s a great comedian. And that’s really all you need for an act like this – some funny material and some stand out characters.

None of the characters stand out more than Walter, Peanut/José, and Achmed. I could forget the others without too much trouble, though Bubba J can be fun once in a while. Walter’s crass jokes and inability to be happy make him, oddly enough, more loveable and more endearing. Peanut is just straight up crazy, and his bizarre behavior, funny noises, and off the wall personality make him an instant classic. Couple him with the laid back and dry humor of José Jalapeño on a Stick, and you’ve got comedy genius. The best thing Jeff ever did was kick Sweet Daddy D to the curb and replace him with Achmed the Dead Terrorist. He walks the line between hilarious and offensive, and yet you can’t help but laugh at his jokes. Whoever thought a skeleton wearing a turban that shouts “I KEEL YOU!” at the audience could be that funny?

Jeff Dunham, apparently.

Jeff’s humor has taken a slight nose dive in my opinion. I’ve got a few theories as to why, but that’s his business, so I won’t go there. He’s always been a good act for the whole family, with a show that encompasses humor for both children and adults. There’s always been jokes that probably shouldn’t be made in front of the kids, but it’s all in good fun. Lately I feel like his humor is a little more crude and a little more real, and not in a good way. But it doesn’t matter. He’s still funny, and I still love him and the gang. I’ll be supporting him until he decides to hang up the dolls.

And that’ll be a sad day for the comedy world.

Here’s one of my favorite Peanut moments for you guys. (I can’t pick just one, but this is improv at its best, which I always enjoy, so I went with this one.)


 
Do you like Jeff Dunham? Who’s your favorite character? Which is your favorite joke?

ROW80LogocopyThat’s a wrap, folks! Round 4 of ROW80 is over, as is my first year doing this writing challenge. It was such a wonderful experience, and I know I’m going to be hooked from here on out. I can’t wait until the first round of 2013 to start it all over again!

I’m going to do an overall recap of this round like I usually do when we reach the final check-in, then I’m going to do a comprehensive post containing everything I’ve gone through and accomplished in the last year. 2012 was such a life-changing year for me that I can’t wait to look back and see everything that happened.

Until then, here’s my fourth round recap.

  1. I read six books this round: The Mark of Athena, Eona, The Shoe Box Project (this is actually a novel-length fan-fiction), The Casual Vacancy, On Fire, and Warm Bodies.
  2. I began what is now my favorite project with Hypable: Not Another Teen Wolf Podcast, where Natalie and I discuss the show Teen Wolf in great detail. We’re already seven episodes in!
  3. I continued writing news articles and columns for Hypable.
  4. I have continued working with L.T. Ryan on his books and also gained C.G. Cooper. I’m so excited to start working with him now too. Great people, great writers! (Go read their books!!)
  5. I began working on a new story that has a lot of potential. I’ve lovingly dubbed it The Watch Story. What the title lacks in creativity, it makes up for in conciseness. ;)
  6. I began editing my main novel, which is my number one project. I’m now on version four of this thing, and it keeps getting stronger every time.
  7. I’ve also been putting the final touches on my short story collection. I feel like it’s coming together, and everything I’m changing with it now includes just minor details.
  8. I’ve been blogging for over a year! I’ve also hit 200 posts!!
  9. I turned 24. :D
  10. Hypable is now getting close to 1.5 million unique visitors per month. This is so incredibly amazing for a site like ours, and I can’t even begin to express the pride I feel in being a part of the team.
  11. I had frog’s legs for the first time. Seriously tasted like chicken.
  12. I sent my press pass application in for the 2013 San Diego Comic Con. I should be finding out soon if it got accepted…
  13. I also got novacane in my mouth for the first time. Yes, this makes the list. Because it was awesome.

Not much in the way of writing, which is a little disappointing. However, I can’t deny that I’ve got a ton of great things going on outside of that, and that I’m very proud of what I did happen to accomplish in the last few months. Always gotta stay positive, and I think I did pretty well considering how busy I’ve been lately!

Hope you guys have had a great round too. And I hope to see you all next year with the first check-in!!

People like black and white. They like right and wrong. They like easy solutions that fix the problem with a snap of their fingers.

But those things don’t exist in the real world.

The answer to our biggest problems is not just one, simple fix. The sooner everyone realizes that, the sooner we’ll be able to get to a solution. The sooner we stop fighting amongst ourselves, the sooner we’ll be able to work together and start making some changes.

Yes, this is in reference to the shootings that occurred last week at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

I’m not an emotional person. I don’t cry a lot. Things that should probably bother me usually don’t. I have an iron stomach and an analytical mind. I believe that things happen for a reason, that there’s a hierarchy to nature, that we live in a world that still runs on a survival-of-the-fittest attitude.

But this? None of that applies to this.

Maybe it was because it was a bunch of kids. Maybe it was because we still don’t know why he did it. Maybe it’s because it’s been one time too many for my abnormally high tolerance of crazy. Does it really matter? No.

I think this shooting is going to hit home harder than some of the others. Not that the others didn’t hit home hard enough, but they were thrown at us by the media and then swept away once the next disaster came along. But these were kids. Not just kids, but children who were just beginning their life. They didn’t even have a chance to experience anything that this sometimes crazy, sometimes wonderful world has to offer.

They won’t get a chance to go to high school. Or prom. Or college. They won’t have a first kiss or get married. Have kids. Start a career. Travel the world. Become grandparents.

They didn’t even have a chance to have Christmas this year.

Those toys underneath the tree will go unopened. The stockings untouched. All the good little kids that were excited to see what Santa brought them won’t ever find out. And those Christmas morning giggles have been silenced forever.

Yeah, I’m angry. Yeah, I’m upset. Yeah, I’m beginning to think this planet is getting a little too crazy for my liking.

But let’s think about this logically.

Do I think people have a right to bear arms? Yes.

Do I think we need stricter gun control laws? Yes.

Do we need to throw people in jail if they’re mentally unstable and have committed crimes? Yes.

Do we need to better understand mental health issues? Yes.

Do we need to help parents who have children like the shooter, so they can take better care of their kids with the right resources and training? Yes.

Do the media need to stop glorifying the shooters? Yes.

Do the media need to keep reporting on these disasters so people won’t forget that the world is going crazy? Yes.

See? There’s no easy solution here. There’s no quick fix. People say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Yeah, that’s true. But people kill people with guns. Others want us to have stricter gun laws, but can you take away something that we, as Americans, have had since our declaration as a country? The people of this country are spoiled, and they won’t settle for that – even if it means it’ll save lives.

There’s no easy solution here.

It’s like people who say video games cause violence. I don’t believe they do. Do they factor in to why a person may have suddenly gone on a shooting spree? Yeah, that’s definitely a possibility. But that’s just one single reason. You also have to think about genetics and whether or not they have a mental disease. How is their environment? Is it stable, or violent and disruptive? Do they have good parents, or are they neglected or abused? Are they bullied in school? Are they under a lot of pressure to perform well? Do they just want to prove they’re capable of entering a school with a gun and shooting down as many people as possible?

The reasons behind why these tragedies happen are never singular. There’s never one reason. It’s never JUST that he was troubled or JUST that he was bullied or JUST that he had low self-esteem.

So, why in the world would we think there was a singular solution to a problem like this?

Everyone with a voice on this matter, everyone who has a say in what happens in this country, needs to stop fighting with each other. We as people need to stop fighting with each other. Put aside our differences. Our solutions are both right and wrong, and they always will be until we learn to work together.

There is no black and white answer. We live in a grey world, and that’s how it has always been. Doing one thing or the other isn’t going to fix the problem. How many more people have to die until we figure that out?

How many more children?

Warm Bodies Book CoverI first heard about Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion when I saw the trailer for the movie. I watched it and was pleasantly surprised that it actually looked good, despite the kind of ridiculous sounding story line.

What’s the story line, you might ask? Well, it’s a zombie love story.

Yeah. A zombie love story.

And I’m not just talking about two people falling in love while zombies are on the loose. I’m not even talking about two zombies falling in love. I’m talking about a regular girl and a zombie falling in love.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Zombies are gross (true) and girls falling in love with dead supernatural beings has been done (also true).

But the cool thing about this book is that it’s different. It’s fast-paced and refreshing. It’s honest, raw, and unique. It’s a spin on zombies that I haven’t seen before, and it’s nice to see them (some of them at least) acting kind of human.

Even though I really enjoyed this book, I do have to say it read like an outline. I wanted a more fleshed out (ha ha) story. The different scenes sometimes bled into each and it got confusing. The premise lends itself to this sort of writing, but I’m not sure it always worked. I enjoyed the story so much that I wanted more of everything – more of R’s thoughts (he’s the zombie), more interaction with Julie, more confrontations, more backstories, more, more, more.

I guess that’s both a good thing and a bad thing – I left feeling a little let down, a little empty inside. But I also wanted more. I enjoyed living in this world so much that I didn’t want to give it up. I heard he’s going to be writing a sequel, so maybe I’ll get what I want when that gets published.

I do recommend the book, though it seems to fall into a strange category. Those who like love stories a la Twilight might not be totally into this, but those who love zombies might not like this softer version of the genre. It’s good for people who like zombies well enough, but can’t really get into the blood-and-guts that usually come with it.

I’m highly anticipating this movie. Check out the trailer below:


 

It looks weird and creepy and funny and awesome all at once. It captures the essence of the book pretty well, and some of my favorite scenes from the book are in the trailer. I’m also hoping that the filmmakers are able to fill in some of the gaps that left us hanging in the book. The novel is only about 150 pages long, so it was probably fairly easy to adapt into a screenplay. Here’s to hoping that it’s a faithful adaption and that it’s a runaway success!

Have you read the book? Looking forward to the movie? If this isn’t usually your cup of tea, would you be willing to give it a shot?

P.S. Here’s a review of the movie from someone who got to see it early. It’s a little spoilery, so I’d avoid it until you’ve read the book!

ROW80Logocopy*sneaks in the back door*

Oh, yes. Hi! What was that? Late? Me!? Never! I’ve been here the whole time. *shifty eyes*

Main Goals:

The list is short and sweet, but it’s also mandatory. I’m keeping it easy, manageable, and attainable this round. I have to get back to what’s important for me as a writer.

  1. Write or edit every day. 2/7 I edited a bit last Sunday and then wrote a bit on the following Saturday. Haven’t had much time for this, which is sad because it really is my main goal. This week is proving to be one of my hardest in terms of trying to balance everything, so if I can just get through this, I should have more time to write soon.
  2. Read every day. 6/7 I’m about halfway through Divergent, and it’s a really exciting book. Haven’t had a whole lot of time to read the last few days, and it looks like that pattern might continue into this week. But I still hope to have this book at least mostly done by next weekend!

Bonus Points:

These are goals I hope to accomplish this week. They aren’t mandatory, but if I have time I should attempt them. They can be anything from exercising to finishing a certain story to organizing my desk. This week I’ve decided on these:

  1. Continue writing about the backstory of my MC’s parents. This is done. I think I’ve got it all sorted, and after writing this I came up with some more plot points that are very exciting. My next goal is flesh out the outline for book one.
  2. Finish updating chapter 3, and edit chapter 4 of Lifetimes. I finished updating chapter 3, but I still have to do chapter 4.
  3. Update my contests doc. Didn’t even touch it this week. Although, I did move all the e-mails into one folder in my inbox so they were easier to access. Baby steps!

List of Awesome:

This is the list of things I’ve accomplished that don’t really have anything to do with ROW80 or the goals above. It’ll probably be mostly about Hypable and the things I’ve done over there, but I like sharing pictures and random things that are happening in my life. (The people, not the presents. Although I like them too!) Everyone is always welcome to drop their own list of awesome in the comments below. I love reading them!

  1. This is my 200th post! Wahooo!
  2. I got some early Christmas presents from some of the people I’ve met because of Hypable, and they’re all amazing. I feel totally and completely blessed that they’re a part of my life. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly lucky I feel.
  3. I got all my Christmas shopping done in ONE DAY. I’m pretty sure that’s a new record.
  4. I got a new client whose books I’m going to be editing. Very much looking forward to working with him!
  5. My latest Teefury shirt came in the mail today. I now officially have a nerdy Harry Potter shirt to wear. Yes!

Points

I get 5 points for every main goal I complete, and 1 point for every bonus goal.

Week 1: 25
Week 2: 15
Week 3: 15
Week 4: 26
Week 5: 17
Week 6: 38
Week 7: 40
Week 8: 50
Week 9: 37
Week 10: 51
Week 11: 41

Down a bit, but still going strong. And it’s nearing the end too!

How’s your Holiday shopping going??

I’m just going to let the video speak for itself:


 

As someone who struggles to make a decent stick figure, this blows my mind. HOW DOES HE DO THAT? A better question would be: how does he do that with a couple of cans of spray paint, an old lid, and some magazine pages?

Astonishing.

I’ve seen a few of these in action, and they’re captivating to watch. Have you seen any done live?