Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Wrap-Up/End of the Year Wrap-Up

As you can probably tell from my lack of posting, this month was a little nuts. Lots of homework for my classes, grandparents visiting for Thanksgiving, and trying to get as much writing in as I can. So good nuts, but still crazy! I hope you all had a more productive NaNoWriMo than I did. For the first time in eight years, I didn't finish my word goal. I got 20,000 words total written. It's not a total loss since I still wrote a bunch, and some of it might be worth salvaging, but it does feel weird not to be celebrating at this point in the month.

Books I Read

Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King


This was super surreal, just like any of A.S. King's books. They're never completely fantasy, but not completely contemporary, either. I liked the double timelines of the book best, though. Flashing back to ten-year-old Sarah and then going to the present put the story together in an interesting way. I also liked the quirky side characters and references to different artists. Sarah was a mystery to me for the longest time, but eventually you get to know her better toward the second half of the book.

Fan Phenomena: Supernatural by Lynn Zubernis


I bought this on a whim at the "Supernatural" convention, mostly because Misha Collins and Richard Speight Jr. both wrote an essay for the anthology. Theirs were hands down my favorites. I already knew their voices and loved them, and they came through 100% in the essays. Others were pretty interesting, too, but some aspects of the fandom the authors examined seemed dated. For example, there was a lot of focus on discussion boards that haven't really been in use since the first couple of seasons, but hardly any mention of Tumblr at all. Even non-Supernatural fans know that that's where the fandom hangs out. The book was written around the time of seasons 8 and 9, but that still wasn't too long ago. But like with a lot of anthologies, not every essay is going to blow you away.

Misery by Stephen King


As a writer, there were parts in this book that were probably extra devastating or creepy than other readers would find it. It was slow to start, but I couldn't put it down by the time I got to the second half. And I'm sure I would've finished it even sooner if it hadn't been for the pages upon pages of excerpts from the book within the book I had to read. I didn't feel like it added that much to the story. It just took away from the real excitement. And BOY can Stephen King write a twisted character. Annie was an absolute nightmare.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


So many people recommended this book to me ages ago, and I never got around to it. Now I'm totally kicking myself for not reading it sooner. This is such a beautiful book!!! I listened to the whole thing on audio because Lin-Manuel Miranda narrated it (and he did an excellent job, of course, because he's Lin-Manuel Miranda) and devoured it in less than 24 hours. I didn't know what I was getting into except that it was guaranteed to be gorgeous and addictive, and it really was. I loved the diversity, the presence of parents (two sets of them, no less!), and the relationship between Ari and Dante. I totally fell in love with their story. The characters were written so well. I'd work on shoving this book into everyone's hands ASAP, but I think I'm the only one in the book community who hadn't read it! :P

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo


This is such an important story. The sentiment was lovely, hopeful, and inspiring. It's a much-needed book for trans and cis people alike. There were lots of diverse characters (trans, bi, and lesbian characters mainly), which is refreshing from books that really don't have any. However, the story overall did seem easy. I'm not even talking about it being easy for someone who is trans (which I really don't have any business judging since I'm cis and have no clue what a true transitioning experience is like), it just seemed easy in general. Setting aside all issues of gender identity, Amanda seemed to get out of conflict with little to no difficulty. Conversations with her dad that should have happened didn't, or conversations with her friends, or her boyfriend. Any time she got in an argument, it blew over right away, with both parties involved forgiving the other. The tension was lost after a little while because I knew there was no threat of anything happening. But still, I really enjoyed Amanda and her story. I hope we continue to see books about trans people in every genre with all kinds of different plots and possibilities. This book is a great step in the right direction.

Doctor Who: The 12 Doctors of Christmas by various authors


I haven't read all of these stories yet, but the ones I have read are super cute. :) They may not be written all that well, but they're fun. The Doctors' voices are captured perfectly. And I loved seeing the behind-the-scenes of the red bicycle story with Nine and Rose. It's a great, fluffy book for Christmas!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


This is another book I read recently and couldn't believe I was only now reading it. This was so much fun! The first hundred pages or so were slow and kind of confusing (like who were all of these characters and what were their motives?), which is the only reason why it's not five stars, but I LOVE LOVE LOVED the rest. All of the ships involved had that perfect and infuriating combination where I can't decide if they're my adorable OTP or if they're an absolute garbage fire. Maybe a bit of both. But all of these characters were dysfunctional and absolutely lovable. Well-written imperfect characters are the BEST. And so are several of them that get grouped together to tackle a life-threatening mission. The tension and humor in it was great. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book.

(Also, random side note, but the fan art and videos created for this fandom is just really freaking amazing and you should totally google some to see what I mean.)

Movies I Watched



Having loved the soundtrack for the musical, I had to watch the movie. And it's exactly the same story, so it was fun coming across the scenes where specific songs were supposed to go in. I love Nathan Fillion is every role he's in (even if they're all to some extent the same), so that was a nice bonus, too. The whole feel of the movie is very simple and bittersweet. Without any spoilers, the ending is a bit abrupt and tied up with a bow, though.

"Mamma Mia"


Oh, this was so cheesy. Somehow with musicals, I don't find characters randomly bursting into song weird or awkward. The transition is smooth and totally normal, even if it shouldn't be. With this movie, however, I felt myself cringing the whole time they did it. It was just. so. awkward. And goofy. All-in-all, don't expect anything grand from the movie, just pure fluff and fun.



Eeeeeee, this was just as good as I expected it to be! I'm not a huge Disney fanatic or anything, but I love "Beauty and the Beast," "Tangled," and "Frozen" a lot, and "Moana" is definitely joining that list. The music was FANTASTIC (yay again for Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Moana is a great heroine. It was really cool and not at all weird to watch a Disney movie with exactly zero romance. Moana and Maui's reluctant friendship, Moana's relationship with her island and family, and the quirky animal companions were perfect.

"Ruby Sparks"


I loved everything about this. If you're a writer, you should definitely check it out. It's a great indie movie with a simple but compelling plot. I was glued to the screen the whole time. It also shows just how easy it can be for someone who seems like a decent person to get addicted to a certain kind of power and control. GREAT story.

"Christmas With the Kranks" 


Another "cheesy but fun" movie. It's goofy and has some pretty bad effects, but it does get you into the holiday spirit.

"Rogue One" 


My only complaint with this movie is that I didn't feel as connected to the characters as I did with every other Star Wars movie. With the others, I was totally a part of the story with the characters while with this one I felt like an observer. But still, it was fantastic. Lots of tension and lots of darkness. The last ten minutes, as you might have seen others talking about, is really, really good. I didn't see it coming at first, but there's a moment toward the end when you realize, "oh, this is happening." It's definitely worth watching.

"Love Actually" 


I loved this! British movies are the best. It was really hard keeping up with all of the characters at first, but once you get used to that aspect, you can just sit back and enjoy. It's hard to make a story enjoyable and interesting when you have that many people to write about, but it worked. My favorite storylines were Liam Neeson's, Hugh Grant's, and Colin Firth's. They're all just very sweet and funny.

"Tommy Boy"


Unlikely pairings of characters can either drive you crazy and make you love them, and in this case it did both. It's cheesy, but really funny. Sometimes totally outrageous plotlines work, and this did.



Whoa, it was almost scary just how much present day events seemed similar to these. In some ways it's both concerning and hopeful. I was totally wrapped up in the story and it was really artistic. Especially since I'm getting into screenwriting lately, I enjoyed getting an inside look at the process.

"When Harry Met Sally"


This felt both like an indie movie and a rom-com in some ways. It's hard to follow characters through such a long span of time, but it worked well here. I really liked the friendship between Harry and Sally (and their other friends as the years go on). There were a lot of stereotypes for both men and women within the story that had me looking at it through squinted eyes, but it was made a long time ago and I think most people have grown past that stage. It was fun and humorous.

"Field of Dreams"


This isn't like any other movie I've ever watched, really, but I liked it a lot. The surreal elements were intriguing and there were a bunch of plot twists I didn't see coming. It was also refreshing to see a character know they're doing something crazy and tell someone else about it who just goes right along with the crazy. All too often the protagonist keeps things to themselves because they don't think anyone else will understand them, so yay for avoiding clichés!

Quotes I Wrote

Today, in the new light barely breaking the horizon, Melody caught shadows on people’s faces. The shadows appeared in different ways. In Lizzie, it came with pictures, the ones that were faded and always carried with her in her pockets, the ones of her and her parents while they were alive. Her dimples and curly hair were even wilder when she was younger.
    In Jordan and Julie, it came in smiles never forced, but pained. It came in Jordan resting his hands on Julie’s stomach and feeling for a life that wouldn’t ever feel the sun on its face. It came in Julie putting her hands on the sides of his face.
    In Lila it came in a determination that was meant as a distraction to herself. It came in her flipping pages in a heavy book, muttering to herself, hair falling in front of her face. It came in the way she tilted her head toward the sun, toward new beginnings.
    In Melody it came in realizing that for every human, this life was a gift, their years were few, and the air they breathed was not a right but a privilege. It came in her realizing that for Lila, this life was a curse, her years were agonizingly long, and the air she breathed was not blessed but poisoned. It came in her realizing that this spell would provide Lila sweet relief. It would be the greatest sleep she’d ever taste.
    Melody never felt so far from her.
-'Til the Last Star Dies

The seven girls sit down at a table with trays of various breakfast foods. Sam’s is piled high with semi-burnt waffles. Peyton looks over her shoulder at a few R.A.s who are crowded around the coffee machine. They look like zombies from the bags under their eyes and the number of times they keep yawning.

What happened to them? They look more tired than we are.
Dana immediately looks nervous.

They might have heard us playing Monopoly.
And also listening to “I Love You Like a Table.”
I may or may not have tried to make my Broadway debut as Ogie.
I was her Dawn.
It was quite the night.

                       I can still hear the music now . . .

-"Writer's Camp"

Obsessions I Acquired

"Moana" soundtrack - "We Know the Way" has been on replay for a while now, but really the whole album is just great.

Picture of the Month 

Yes, yes that is Michael Luwoye liking my tweet of the picture of Max and me with him.
My friend Maya and I tried to take a selfie with Scout. It didn't quite work.
Scout couldn't wait to open presents this year.
Dana and I both accidentally wore our Hufflepuff t-shirts on the same day.

Sam and Sarah joined in on the house pride fun (Hufflepuff and Slytherin, respectively).

How was your December?

End of the Year Wrap-Up

Goodbye 2016, and hello 2017! Before we move on to next year, I always like to look back on the past year.

Top 16 books

Wow, this year's been so crazy busy, I'd forgotten some of these I read this year and not a year or two ago! Here they are (in no particular order):

1. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
2. Winter by Marissa Meyer
3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
4. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
5. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
6. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
7. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
8. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
11. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
12. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
13. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash
14. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
15. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
16. Starflight by Melissa Landers

Special blogging friends from 2016

As always, a thousand thank yous to anyone who has ever e-mailed me/tweeted at me/left me a comment on my blog. That sort of interaction is why I blog! :) I love getting to know all of you and talking about everything from books to music to social issues to movies to Netflix binges. So thank you and keep being awesome people. Now I'd like to give a special shout out to a couple of bloggers I really got to know this past year.

Lara Liz @ "Another Teen Reader"

For someone who started a blog on a whim to procrastinate homework, Lara really went all in. Her blog is so neat and professional and every post is interesting. She's great at paying attention to diversity and social issues (especially when it comes to disabilities) and she's hysterical to boot. Both of us interviewed each other this year on our blogs and it was a great experience. So go say hi already!

Rain @ "Ivyclad Ideas"

I subscribed to Rain's blog as soon as I saw how creatively she was writing it. Rain blogs with her inner editor, Ivy, making for hilarious banter between the two in every post, whether it's a book review or a blog meme or something else entirely. It's super entertaining. Go check them out!

New obsessions

1. Broadway musicals (particularly "Hamilton," "Les Misérables," "Waitress," "Something Rotten," "In the Heights," "Rent," "Spring Awakening," and "Wicked.")
2. Spotify (while the constant ads are super annoying--especially since it's like the same three ads for Spotify Premium that always play--it's a really handy way to make playlists for the soundtracks of the aforementioned musicals. It's well over 600 songs now.)
3. "The Good Place"
4. "This Is Us"
5. "Stranger Things"
6. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"
7. "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."
8. "Hamilton" and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Both have been my greatest creative inspirations this year. He's just an amazingly talented and cool guy.)
9. Twitter (As a rediscovery. I got off for a while because I was busy, but cleaned up and reorganized the list of people I was following when I realized Lin-Manuel Miranda was a big Twitter fan and tweeted lots. Now I follow even more authors and readers and I've learned about several new books that way!)
10. Screenwriting (I got a really great screenwriting program called Final Draft for Christmas that's been helpful for the scripts I'm writing. :) )

Most played songs

For the past like six months I've listened to little else but "Hamilton" and other Broadway musical soundtracks. But other music that ought to be mentioned (and I know I'm probably missing a bunch):

-"Hamilton Mixtape"
-"Another Love" by Tom Odell
-"Can't Pretend" by Tom Odell
-"In Your Arms" by Chef'Special
-"Eden" by Chef'Special
-"Peculiar" by Chef'Special
-"On Shoulders" by Chef'Special
-"I Was Made For Loving You" by Tori Kelly feat. Ed Sheeran
-"I Just Want You" by Robert Duncan
-"Whistle Theme" by Robert Duncan
-"Back Out on the Road Again" by Holy Shemp feat. Jon Huertas
-"Fare Thee Well (Dink's Song)" by Rob Benedict
-"Electric Love" by BØRNS
-"Love Make the World Go Round" by Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda
-"Taylor the Latte Boy" by Kristen Chenoweth
-"Lost Boy" by Ruth B
-"Moana" soundtrack

Strangest/Coolest Google search used to find my blog

"harry potter hufflepuff meme" Yessss, Hufflepuff pride! *high-fives* (Even though I'm totally a Ravenclaw, this house is majorly underrepresented. I'm so glad Newt Scamander exists.)

Five most popular blog posts

1. "7 'Facts' About YA Novels that are as Accurate as Ron Weasley's Divination Predictions" (I really, really love this post.)
2. "October Wrap-Up"
3. "June Wrap-Up"
4. "30 Day SuperWhoLock Challenge - Day 2"
5. "A Sense-ational Blog Tag"

Big things that happened in 2016

I wrote about this recently, so you can check out the extensive list here! :)

Image from this year

I honestly can't pick one, so I'll say again, check out the post above to see!

Favorite quotes from the #1. best book read this year

Nope, can't pick one, it's just not happening. (Are you really surprised I'm breaking my own rules?)

“A kiss from the Captain would probably melt my central processor.”
Thorne winked at her. “Oh trust me. It would.”
-Winter by Marissa Meyer

“Thorne scoffed. “Careful is my middle name. Right after Suave and Daring.”
“Do you even know what you're saying half the time?” asked Cinder.”
-Winter by Marissa Meyer

“Words were different when they lived inside of you.”
-Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“I bet you could sometimes find all the mysteries of the universe in someone's hand.”
-Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.”
-Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“I wanted to tell them that I'd never had a friend, not ever, not a real one. Until Dante. I wanted to tell them that I never knew that people like Dante existed in the world, people who looked at the stars, and knew the mysteries of water, and knew enough to know that birds belonged to the heavens and weren't meant to be shot down from their graceful flights by mean and stupid boys. I wanted to tell them that he had changed my life and that I would never be the same, not ever. And that somehow it felt like it was Dante who had saved my life and not the other way around. I wanted to tell them that he was the first human being aside from my mother who had ever made me want to talk about the things that scared me. I wanted to tell them so many things and yet I didn't have the words. So I just stupidly repeated myself. "Dante's my friend.”
-Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

“You were the sun, and I was crashing into you. I'd wake up every morning and think, 'This will end in flames.'”
-Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

“What's a dementor?"
I mean, I can't even. "Nora, you are no longer my sister."
"So it's some Harry Potter thing," she says.”
-Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“The way I feel about him is like a heartbeat -- soft and persistent, underlying everything.”
-Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

“Meeting your soul mate is like walking into a house you've been in before - you will recognize the furniture, the pictures on the wall, the books on the shelves, the contents of drawers: You could find your way around in the dark if you had to.”
-I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

“I didn’t know you could get buried in your own silence.”
-I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

“Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.”
-I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Favorite quotes

These quotes have stuck with me throughout most of 2016.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's entire sonnet.

2016 in one word

Busy (the good kind).

Goals for 2017


1. Finish "Writer's Camp." (This short movie that's almost 100% accurate to actual events at my writer's camp has been super fun to write, and even if I have no clue what I'll do with it once it's done, I want to finish it up and let my friends from camp read it.)

2. Do more screenwriting. (I got an awesome screenwriting program for Christmas called Final Draft that automatically formats your script and allows for some super cool organization within the document, so I want to write something with it that has the possibility of going somewhere. I don't know if it'll be a play, movie, or TV pilot, but I want to do something.)

3. Finish editing Beneath the Moon and Stars. (This was a goal for last year, but it ended up being out of my control since I had to wait for critiques from other people. Next year it should be all on me to finish it up, though.)

4. Finish Terrible Things. (I have a pretty lengthy fan-fiction series I've been working on for over a year now and it's almost finished, so I really ought to just type up the last two chapters so it's one less thing to work on. And if I still like it by the time it's done, I might be able to rework it with some original characters to turn it into an actual novella.)

5. Do the first round of edits for Ms. Holmes. (I got my Createspace proof a few months ago and started marking up my copy. If I can make it through once with some basic notes and edits, I'll be well on my way to polishing it up.)


1. Don't buy any new books. (*gasps* A book buying ban?! The horror! But seriously, my TBR shelves are out of control. And yes, it's shelves as in plural. I need to finish up as many as I can next year before I buy anything else. I won't deny myself the occasional novel--for example, if Rainbow Rowell publishes anything new, I'm going to buy it, no questions asked. And my family always goes to the launch parties of A.S. King's new books.--but only rarely. If I really want to read something new, I'm going to the library.)

2. Read more diversely. (This is something I already do pretty well, but I can be better. And 2017 looks like THE YEAR for diverse and #OwnVoices books, which is freaking awesome and also timely. For example, all of these titles just look fantastic:

-The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
-You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
-Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
-It's Not Like It's a Secret by Misa Sigiura
-The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
-Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ornsbee
-When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
-The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
-How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake
-A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

So these are all ones I'm planning to read, along with the multitude of diverse books I still have on my shelves.)

3. Stay current on 2017 releases. (This goes along with #2., but often times I'm late to the party when it comes to new releases. I always end up reading the Goodreads Choice and Book Shimmy award winners years after they've already won, which makes voting in the current round super hard. Plus, I miss all the hype with my other blogger friends! I'm going to try to get my hands on as many of the 2017 books as I can, so I'm hoping my library gets them, too. *crosses fingers*)


1. Continue to journal about once a week. (I had so much fun journaling last year that I want to keep it up while I still have the momentum.)

2. Watch less TV. (Binge-watching is super fun, but with all the reading and writing I want to do, I can't add any new shows to the ones I'm already watching. I have a ton I enjoy that come on weekly, so I'll get my TV fix that way.)

3. Maybe give writing classes. (This is something I've thought about for a while, but I'm not totally sure if I could do it with everything else I'm doing. But if when summer comes around I'm not feeling stressed or overwhelmed with other activities, I think it could be really fun to lead some sort of peer-based writing group. I could give some simple classes with writing prompts and teach other tweens and teens how to give and receive critiques. Plus it'd be a good way to get a little extra money while doing something I love! So this is a tentative goal, but one I'd really like to do.)

4. Spend less time on social media. (This goes along with the watch less TV goal. I love Twitter and Tumblr, but anyone who uses it can know how much of a rabbit hole it is. I'm thinking if I give myself a couple times in the day when I'm allowed to check them--when I get up and before bed, maybe--I can still see all of the awesome things that are going on and not be distracted throughout the day.)

5. Study for the SATs. (With college right around the corner, this is something I have to really jump into all the way, no matter how much I'm dreading the math portion of it.)

Goals for 2016 that I've accomplished


1. Finish Ms. Holmes. (Done! Now to edit.)

2. Finish 'Til the Last Star Dies. (Finished! I did probably 50,000-60,000 words this year alone.)

3. Write more short stories to submit to contests. (Yep. Not a ton, but more than usual.)

4. Work on my handwriting. (It's so much better.)

5. Blog more. (I posted about once a week this year, so I'm counting that as a win.)


1. Read one book a week. (Done! I might even get 53 books in before 2017 comes.)

2. Finish Les Misérables. (Finished! Loved it!)

3. Finish A Game of Thrones. (Accomplished!)


1. Say "no" to more. (This was so hard to do, but I definitely scaled back with my activities and resisted the urge to add anything new to my schedule that would overwhelm me. After trying to balance two jobs where weekends are definitely the most important days to work, I decided I'm not going back to the Renaissance Faire next year and I'll just be working at the movie theater.)

2. Procrastinate less. (I feel like I reasonably was able to do this.)

3. Be on my phone less. (While I definitely was on it less more so at the beginning of the year, I can say I was on it way less than I was in 2015. And because of it I've been able to read, write, and blog more, which I'm super happy about.)

4. Exercise more. (Yep! Not as much as maybe I should have, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.)

5. Eat pesco vegetarian, or straight up vegetarian, as much as possible. (I ate very little meat this year.)

6. Eat less sugar. (Done.)

7. Journal once a week. (Once a week didn't quite happen, but once every couple weeks did, and it's way more than I've ever done, so I'm saying it's a win.)

8. Learn basic sign language. (I know lots of basic signs and conversational signs, so I'm happy.)

9. Learn basic French. (I could probably survive pretty well as a tourist in Paris with a little stumbling around the language.)

10. Take more pictures. (I took lots more than I usually do.)

Goals for 2016 that I didn't accomplish

Because it's good to recognize your failures, too.


1. Get an agent. (I didn't query one agent this year, but that's because the novel I thought would be ready in time to send out had so, so much more work to do.)

2. Finish editing Beneath the Moon and Stars. (I wasn't able to get to as many writer's group meetings as I'd hoped, so I wasn't able to get the critiques I needed to finish it up. But next year shouldn't be a problem!)


1. Dance more. (Not sure what happened here, but while I did exercise more, there was less "Just Dance" happening.)

Bye, 2016! Now for the next adventure.

What are your goals for 2017? Anything big happen in 2016? Leave a comment! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

16 Highlights of 2016

As the year wraps up, usually on New Year's Eve, I like to write this gigantic post that looks back on my favorite books and songs and various other categories. As a sort of warm up to that post, here's a list of my top ten highlights of 2016, plus six honorable mentions.

Top 10:

1. Our family hosted long-time online friends of mine in April.

Best birthday present ever. To celebrate my turning sixteen this year, my parents, my aunt, and four super close friends of mine that I met through a "Supernatural" roleplay group on Tumblr surprised me with a visit that lasted several days but felt like just a few hours. I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as I did when they came. It was so much fun. And Charlie and Mikey came back in July for another visit! It felt equally as short but was just as fun.

At the airport! From left to right: Amy, me, Sammy, Sarah (though everyone calls her Mikey because of her roleplay character), and Morgan (even though everyone calls her Charlie). What isn't shown in this picture is the fact that several of us got knocked over in the rush for hugs.
My mom and all four of them made me wear a tiara and feather boa for my birthday when we spent the day in town.
All of us making moose antlers as we play "Curses."
And because we're basically children when we're together, Charlie and I had to steal Mikey's phone and take ridiculous selfies.
2. I turned sixteen and got my learner's permit in April.

Driving is way harder than it looks once you get behind the wheel. Those first few days in the parking lot consisted of a lot of jerking forward, crawling to stops, making turns that were way too wide, and then jerking forward again. It was also fun trying to navigate all of that with not only a parent in the passenger's seat giving me instructions on what to do, but a little brother in the back saying, "Did you use a turn signal just now?! You're five over the speed limit!"

But it's still exciting! I drive to and from work with little to no difficulty and have gotten a lot more practice on main roads.

3. I went to writer's camp in July.

Some of my best friends have been made through this writer's camp, and my second year there was no different! There were seven of us who regularly got up to shenanigans, laughed hysterically into the early morning, slept in each other's dorm rooms (I think the RAs gave up early on when it came to getting all of us to sleep in our own beds), and wrote like the wind. The teachers were awesome and the week flew by. In fact, it was so fun filled, that I'm even writing a screenplay that's not-so-loosely based on our adventures there. 90% of the events depicted actually happened. I posted a bit here, but I'll share a little more down below.
First night! From left to right: Sam, me, Peyton, Dana, Anna Marie, Kat, and Sarah.

The original writer's camp squad. #2015 Peyton and I were roommates across the hall from Dana and Anna Marie. Every day was like an episode of "Friends."
I don't even remember what was happening here, but it was glorious.

Awkward family photo time.
Our attempt at an Indie album cover. This was Peyton's idea. I'm pretty sure a few of us still have it as the background on our phones.
Dana turned criminal for a few minutes and stole four rolls from the cafeteria. This is me trying to look like I know nothing about what's happening. As you can see, I have a terrible poker face.

The girls are in Dana and Anna Marie's dorm room again. Anna Marie and Peyton sit on one bed and Sam, Sarah, and Kate sit on the other. Dana is standing at the desk, searching for something on her laptop. Kat is nowhere to be found.
Guys, I found it!
Found what?
The most terrible fan-fiction ever to inhabit this earth.
I bet I've read worse. OneDirection fics aren't something you just recover from.
Dana all but stumbles over to Sarah in her haste to grip her shoulders intensely.
Oh no, my friend. This is no OneDirection fan-fiction. This is a work of art. And by art I mean trash. And by trash I mean flaming piles of garbage. And by flaming piles of garbage I mean--
I think she gets it.
This, this, is a Draco Malfoy fan-fiction. In which he's paired up with a vampire named Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way. I kid you not.
I wish you were kidding. Do we have to put ourselves through this torture again?
I think we must. Consider it Initiation Part Two. For the newbies.
Should I be scared?
Where's Kat? Shouldn't she hear this, too?
As if on cue--and it's quite possible she was waiting for this exact cue--Kat bursts out of the large closet at the end of the room, arms thrown to the sky.
I'm here, I'm queer, and I'm ready to party!
Oh my.
I think we're ready to hear this flaming pile of garbage.
Dana gives Sam a sympathetic look.
You will never be ready.
Dana clears her throat, then reads from the laptop in the most over-the-top dramatic voice known to humankind.
"Hi my name is Ebony Darkness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that's how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don't know who she is get da hell out of here!). I'm not related to Gerard way but I wish I was because he is an effing hottie!" I KID YOU NOT. Anyways, skipping ahead . . . "It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was happy about. A lot of preps stare at me. I put up my middle finger at them."
Do you feel like you're dying a little yet?
I think I've already died.
Every time I read this frickin' thing.
I'm weeping on the inside.
This is fabulous. I hate it so much. I want to punch it.
Now look what you've done, Dana. You've turned Kat to violence!
Honestly, no offense, Kat, but I get the feeling you were already turned to violence before you even got here.
I'll spare you the rest.
4. My mom took me to see my first Broadway show ("Les Misérables") in August.

I got really into musicals this past year, and before discovering "Hamilton," "Les Mis" was by far my favorite. So it was especially cool that it was the first one I got to see performed on Broadway. My mom and I took a train into New York, caught a Ham4Ham show with Rory O'Malley (yay for going on a Wednesday! It was one of the last shows they did, too), got sushi for lunch, and saw the show. It was amazing. The talent alone was fantastic, but for a pretty sparse set overall, the special effects they did for certain scenes were really cool. I loved it. And I got an autograph from Madame Thénardier after the show.

5. I took my first college classes at my local community college starting in August.

I was really nervous at first to get started at college, seeing as I was only a Junior in high school and hadn't ever taken a regular class in person before. But it was really fun! I started off with General Psychology and added in a late start English Comp 101 class. Both were already interesting to me and both, while challenging, were completely doable. I got As for nearly every assignment and made some great friends in the process. Both of my teachers were funny and engaging, too. Next semester I'll be doubling up my classes and taking some tougher subjects (like biology and public speaking *shudders*).

My school supplies.
First day of class.
6. I went to my first school dance in October.

My good friend TJ asked me to Homecoming, and while I'd only seen the cliché versions of school dances (usually ending in someone vomiting, relationship drama, or the Prom Queen getting pig's blood dumped on her), I had a ton of fun. We hung out with the band and theater kids and awkwardly danced toward the side of the room. And I really loved my dress.

7. My dad and I went to our first "Supernatural" convention in November.

After spending the past two years watching every video from every convention I could get my hands on, my dad got us tickets to go to one in New Jersey maybe seven or eight months ahead of time. I used that time to create a list of episode highlights from all eleven and a quarter seasons that we could watch before we went so he would get all the same references the fans got.We barely made it through, but we finished the list all the same. It was SO MUCH FUN. Just being around that many fans in one crowded space was cool. The fandom is so supportive and the actors were just as hysterical and amazing as I'd expected. I got to see a panel with Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, and Osric Chau first. They're all very positive and full of good energy. Mark Sheppard was, of course, nothing but dry wit and deep messages. He spent most of the panel wandering through the crowd instead of staying on the stage, because he can do whatever he wants. Matt Cohen, Rob Benedict, and Richard Speight Jr. are like fully grown toddlers. The energy and the joking around never. stops. And then Misha Collins closed the show, and he is WONDERFUL. He's extremely thoughtful with his fans and always speaks directly to them when he's answering their questions. He has conversations with them just like he's talking to an old friend. Plus there was the added bonus of my name getting drawn in the lottery to ask him a question! I was freaking out so much I forgot the first few minutes of the panel as I was waiting in line to talk to him, but it was WORTH IT.

Click HERE to see the video of the panel (cued up to my question). I'd like to think I was mostly composed in the presence of a celebrity I've admired for two years. I probably wasn't as composed as I'd like. Pretty sure I came close to crying before and after. During is a blur.

It was hard to get clear pictures from where we were sitting, but this is Louden Swain playing as Richard Speight Jr. opened up the convention.

Mark Sheppard walked RIGHT BY ME.
I spotted Misha in the hallway on my way to the bathroom.
Matt Cohen, Richard Speight Jr., and Rob Benedict getting ready for a crazy panel.
8. My grandparents visited for Thanksgiving and took our family to see "Something Rotten" on Broadway in November.

So this year was apparently the year of musicals. "Something Rotten" was, even though the title suggests otherwise, absolutely hilarious. If you're a fan of musical theater and/or Shakespeare, you'll love this. They have an entire showstopper where the entire purpose is to make fun of musicals. It's brilliant.

After the show, Max and I got an autograph from Shakespeare, who was being played by none other than the one and only ADAM FREAKING PASCAL. That's right, the original Roger from "Rent." I fangirled more than a little.

There's Adam Pascal signing my Playbill!
9. Our family saw "Hamilton" in December.

We miraculously spotted a Facebook post from the official "Hamilton" page announcing another batch of ticket sales and nabbed seats all the way in the back, in the balcony, up against the wall. But we could see everything from up there and it was beyond incredible to be there live. It's not an exaggeration to say I'd listened to the entire soundtrack hundreds of times this year. I knew every single word before going to see it, and it was still like the whole thing was brand new. The choreography, lighting, and stage effects with their double turntables was spellbinding. We were a little disappointed not to see all of the original cast (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Daveed Diggs, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, and several others were already gone when we went), but holy crap the whole cast was so talented. Javier Muñoz perfectly embodied Hamilton like we'd seen with Lin, but he totally made him his own. We saw two understudies, Michael Luwoye as Burr (who is also the alternate for Hamilton, the first actor to play both parts!) and Syndee Winters as Eliza. They did not disappoint! And Mandy Gonzalez was everything I'd hoped she'd be as Angelica. But Rory O'Malley totally stole the show as King George III. Hysterical. He was perfect for the role. I started crying as soon as the first notes started and didn't stop until the end of "My Shot," but the whole time I was trying to blink my tears away so I could see everything that was happening! I laughed and cried through the whole thing. It lived up to every expectation.

And after the show, we shivered in the cold to wait and see who would come out for autographs. They were encouraging kids to get up front, so Max got one from Syndee Winters right away, and then we each got pictures and autographs from Nicholas Christopher (George Washington) and Michael Luwoye! They were super kind and patient with every fan. Michael Luwoye complimented my Gryffindor scarf, too, which only made him about a thousand times cooler than he already was.

All this to say, this was definitely a very memorable highlight from the year.

10. Our family went to two Cursed Child parties for the midnight release in July.

I was seven with the Deathly Hallows came out, so even though I remember lots from the party our local bookstore at the time hosted, I don't remember everything. I remember tons more from the midnight releases of the last two movies. So it was really fun to be able to enjoy the excitement from other Potter fans all over again this year. We went to a party with a bunch of our geeky friends to eat themed foods and play Harry Potter trivia (I got more than a little competitive), and then we headed over to our Indie bookstore for even more games and fun. I was second in line for a book and I devoured half of it before going to bed that night. I would've read the entire thing if it weren't for the fact that I had to work the next day and I needed to be semi-responsible with my sleep that night. But my mangers know me too well, because two of them asked if I'd finished reading the book yet when I went into work that day.

Top 6 honorable mentions:

1. I had a murder mystery party for my sixteenth birthday in April.

I'd been to a murder mystery dinner at the Renaissance Faire a couple years ago and loved it. With all the detective shows I watch, how could I not? So it was lots of fun putting together a murder mystery dinner of my own with my parents for my friends and me. It was a steampunk theme and most of us dressed up accordingly. The dinner was delicious and trying to figure out who'd committed the murder was both parts enjoyable and infuriating. After over an hour of careful clue gathering, we were all ready to cast our accusations. None of us were right, but we got pretty close.

2. Our family went to the beach in New Jersey in June and Delaware in September.

All of us love the beach. We go every year for day after day of eating seafood and relaxing by (or in) the ocean. I always take a few books with me to read on the beach and end up bringing at least half a dozen back with me from the bookstore on the boardwalk. We always leave happy and content.

3. Our family took NOH8 pictures in June.

The NOH8 campaign works to promote LGBTQ+ equality through these beautifully taken pictures of people with pieces of duct tape across their mouths, which represents the LGBTQ+ community's voices being silenced, and the NOH8 symbol on their cheek. The pictures are always really empowering and being in a room with that many people working for the same cause was almost spiritual. It was a really great  experience all around.

4. I got a job at Regal Theater in July.

After a couple of interviews, it was clear that Regal was where I was meant to be in the end. My interview was conducted by my geeky manger who's a huge Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel fan. We ended up talking about Captain America almost as much as we did my skills for the job. The flexibility the job offers is great, and all of my co-workers are really nice and hardworking. Everyone loves working there. Plus, you can see movies for free! And eat all the popcorn you want during your shift!

My friend Shavon and I snuck in a selfie during our shift.
5. I went to my first sleepover in August.

I've hosted a lot of sleepovers over the years, but this was the first time I went away to someone's house for a sleepover, and it was a huge hit. I went with a bunch of my friends from writer's camp and we spent the whole night making ridiculous music videos, eating way too much candy, and watching about half of a "Sherlock" episode before we all crashed. I'm not sure anyone ever ended up in their designated spots for sleeping. Dana and I were curled up on the couch. I used the armrest as a pillow. Anna Marie was on the other couch. Sam was on the floor, but I'm not sure she ever slept on the blankets.

It's kind of fuzzy, but these were the costumes involved when we made the music video.
6. Our family watched the "Gilmore Girls" revival in November.

It was an all-day event. We got lots of takeout, made coffee (of course), and other junk foods appropriate for the occasion. Pop Tarts and Mallomars were involved. We binged all four episodes in a row. I won't say too much about it for the sake of spoilers, but I really enjoyed most of it. And if you want to have a more in-depth discussion, you can always go to my "Connect With Me" page so we can have a conversation on the side. ;)

That's been my year! How was your 2016? I want to hear all about it. Leave a comment!