Monday, July 10, 2017

Encyclopedia of Me - T

1. Tennant, David

He wasn't my first Doctor, but he's my favorite. To me, he's a classic. He's got that perfect blend of pure curiosity, empathy, eccentric tendencies, humor, passion, pain, rage, and a love of adventure.  I love that he's a total goofball one second and can make me cry the next. A lot of Whovians see the TARDIS as a beacon of hope, but that feeling is multiplied when it's the tenth Doctor inside.

2. Toni

If you're confused as to why Dianna Agron is on the collage for the letter "T," let me clear that up. One of the characters in the "Supernatural" roleplay I'm in is named Toni, and Dianna Agron is her face claim. But the real Toni (the girl who plays her) is one of my best friends. Half the time I'm giggling into my phone, it's because she sent a hysterical text. She's got a great sense of sarcastic humor but also gives great advice and jumps right into action when one of her friends needs to be cheered up. She's a great friend to have.

3. These Broken Stars & Throne of Glass

I love both of these books for different reasons (although something they have in common is that they have freaking awesome covers omg).

These Broken Stars is a light sci-fi survival story that revolves around two characters who despise each other. They get into petty arguments and bicker all the way across a deserted planet. So, of course, they're totally ship-able (it's a word 'cause I just made it up. If Shakespeare can do it, so can I).

Throne of Glass is a more complicated plot with a lot more action, but also has great characters. It's very plot twisty and dramatic and rooted in an extremely well-crafted storyworld. It's like Game of Thrones for teens. It's very addictive.

4. Terrible Things/"Terrible Things"

A couple years ago, I got a request to write a "Supernatural" fan-fiction based on the Mayday Parade song "Terrible Things." Some of my favorite fan-fiction challenges have to do with tying a song into a story, and I had so much fun with this one. It ended up being a fan-fic series, also called Terrible Things, that's now over 20,000 words long, but I love it. I got to do a lot of character development with the reader and Dean, and I made a few fans cry, so that's always a plus. #FandomLife

5. 'Til the Last Star Dies

One of my favorite writing projects was 'Til the Last Star Dies, which is a YA paranormal romance that involves witches and demons and magic and curses and an impending apocalypse. Here's the short pitch for it:

An immortal firstborn witch, Lila, falls for a mortal witch hunter, Melody.  What starts as complicated ends up labyrinthine when the demon Angelique sets her eyes on Lila as the newest addition to her army. And Melody is the perfect bargaining chip.

And the book trailer, which took me hours to make, but was totally worth it.

6. "This Is Us"

This is one of my new favorite shows. Every episode has some sort of plot twist, and since it's told in a non-linear fashion, it makes for all kinds of interesting character developments. Sometimes you see a character in the present day and have no idea how they could possibly end up the way they did, and then you get a flashback to their childhood that explains it. It's super cool. And I love all the characters. I highly recommend it.

7. Tea

My go-to drink for when I'm settling in with a good book, a good TV show, or a good writing session. So pretty much any time of day, I could go for a cup of tea.

8. Time travel

One of my FAVORITE plot devices. It's in "Doctor Who," "Supernatural," "Timeless," "Back to the Future," Harry Potter, and countless other stories. It's especially fun to watch how each story takes it in a different direction in order to deal with all of the contradictions that come with time travel. Will meeting your past or future self affect your timeline? How much will history be changed if you mess with one tiny thing a hundred years ago? It hurts your brain, but in a good way.

9. Taylor Swift

She was my favorite musical artist for several years, and I still love tons of her music. Her later work is especially impressive (like "Safe and Sound," "Wildest Dreams," "You Are In Love," and "Begin Again," to give some examples), but the amount of success she had at a young age was really inspiring to me as a young artist. Every one of her albums is better than the last. I can't wait to see what she does next.

10. "Talking In Your Sleep" by The Civil Wars, "There She Goes" by Sixpence None the Richer, "Toxic" by Melanie Martinez

These are all very alternative songs that I recommend checking out (you can click on the hyperlinks of each song title to listen to them on YouTube). "Talking In Your Sleep" was the theme song for one of the parts of a fan-fiction series I was addicted to. "There She goes" is on the playlist for one of my ships in the "Supernatural" roleplay. I heard "Toxic" when my family first watched "The Voice" and totally fell in love with Melanie Martinez's voice.

Edit: It was brought to my attention after this post was published that I somehow forgot to add TJ to my list! Color me Ashamed™, as he really should've been the most obvious addition. We've only been friends for a little over a year, but it feels like longer. It's been so much fun to geek out over musical theatre, books (I've basically shoved dozens of various YA books into his hands so he'd read them, and he's incredibly patient while I do this), superheroes, and more. He's invited me to two of his school dances, which has been great, because we can both be wallflowers and dorks together with the band kids instead of trying to look "cool" in the middle of the dance floor (trust me, we're having way more fun than anybody there). And I probably would've for real passed out before my theatre audition if he hadn't been both pumping me up and calming me down. All in all, one of my newest and best friends (even when he's talking about how great "The Emoji Movie" is going to be--are you happy, TJ? I mentioned "The Emoji Movie" on my blog and it wasn't over my dead body). Since I can't edit the collage above, here's a nice big picture of us that's one of my favorites.

TJ's right in the middle next to me. This was a great candid shot from my mom.

What would you list for the letter "T?" Leave a comment!

Friday, July 7, 2017

I'm Niiiiiiine!

Or my blog is, anyway. Every year, I struggle for new and interesting ways to celebrate, because even though this is my blog, I'd get bored talking about myself for too long. This year, I had no problem coming up with an idea. Even though it's a little over a week after the fact, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone celebrated its 20th anniversary, and since I was away at the time, I never got to add my two cents to that milestone. How better to celebrate my blog birthday than with Harry Potter's birthday?

20 of My Favorite Moments from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

1. "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."

Reading this line is like coming home after years of being away. It's so simple, and not even the greatest first sentence in the world, but it's familiar and welcoming and warm.

2. Dudley falling into the glass case at the zoo.

I've never read about a brattier kid than Dudley, and it was fun to see him get a little taste of his own medicine for a minute.

3. Uncle Vernon's descent into madness as he attempts to keep Harry from getting his Hogwarts letter.

Boarding up the mail slot, fleeing the house, and going across a stormy sea to a little shack, all to avoid getting letters? You won't find many people that determined to avoid anything, and it's the perfect way to show how utterly obsessed that family is with keeping up appearances.

4. Harry meeting Hagrid for the first time.

Hagrid's a giant teddy bear, and the first encounter Harry has with him is both strange and sweet. He gives him a birthday cake, insults the Dursleys, talks about wizards and Hogwarts and his parents, and gives Dudley a pig's tail with his magical umbrella. It doesn't get much better than that.

5. The Diagon Alley chapter.

Harry's wonderment at everything Diagon Alley, and the rest of the wizarding world, has to offer mirrors the reader's awe when they first read about it. It's pretty spectacular.

6. Meeting the Weasleys at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

This sums it up.

7. Harry buying a whole Halloween's worth of candy on the Hogwarts Express and sharing it with Ron.

The beginning to their friendship is just so pure and precious. Ron tells Harry stuff about the wizarding world, like chocolate frog cards and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, and the two of them trade stories about the more unfortunate parts of their childhoods. A perfect bonding moment.

8. The sorting ceremony.

What other school has an extraordinarily old hat sing a self-composed song to welcome students into the new school year before screaming what house they're going to be in for the rest of their education??? It's so quirky and cool.

9. Hagrid inviting Harry for tea.

Hagrid is the best.

10. Harry breaking rules during his first flying lesson to get back Neville's Remembrall and ending up joining the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

Because McGonagall is freaking awesome and secretly super competitive when it comes to the Gryffindor team winning the Quidditch cup. I love her.

11. Harry and Ron sneaking out to duel Malfoy.

These two, dear lord, were so young and innocent. How were they expecting to win a duel with like a week of school under their belts? But their midnight escapade provided lots of entertainment: poor Neville forgetting the password again, Filch and his unhealthy obsession with catching students out of bed, Peeves doing his thing, coming face-to-face with Fluffy for the first time, and let's not forget Hermione's classic "We could all have been killed--or worse, expelled."

12. The epic fight against the troll in the bathroom.

I couldn't believe it when Harry just straight up launched himself at the troll and clung to his neck. And then Ron ended up taking the thing out with Wingardium Leviosa after taking Hermione's lecturing to heart. But the best part was the beginning of the trio's friendship, like it says at the end of the chapter: "But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them."

13. The first Quidditch match.

I've never enjoyed sports more. Lee Jordan's commentary was more than amusing, too. Also, Hermione setting fire to Snape's robes!

14. Harry getting the invisibility cloak and discovering the Mirror of Erised and Dumbledore talking about wanting socks for Christmas.

The feeeeeeelllllllllsssssssss.

15. Neville finally standing up to Draco.

"I'm worth twelve of you, Malfoy." HECK YEAH, NEVILLE, YOU TELL HIM.

 16. Norbert.

Hagrid being all motherly to his little baby dragon. "Bless him, look, he knows his mummy!" Plus Hermione actually agreed to breaking school rules to go help Harry get rid of Norbert so Hagrid wouldn't get in trouble, which is an "aww" moment if I ever saw one.

17. "Mars is bright tonight."

The centaurs cracked me up the first time I read the chapter where they go in the Forbidden Forest for detention. They'd drive me so crazy if I actually had to deal with them, but watching Hagrid get progressively more annoyed by them is great.

18. Every challenge the trio had to conquer under the trapdoor.

Like the Devil's Snare when Ron shouts, "HAVE YOU GONE MAD? ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?"and Hermione remembers that she can use magic and doesn't in fact need wood to light a fire. Or Ron getting a chance to shine on the chessboard. Or Harry utilizing his seeker skills to catch the winged key. Or Hermione using her "books and cleverness" to beat Snape's potion riddle.

19. Harry facing off against Quirrell and Voldemort.

That whole scene was epic. All the tension and creepiness and then Harry just clawing at Quirrell's face because Quirrell couldn't touch him without burning himself. What a climactic moment!

20. Dumbledore dishing out extra points.

But especially him giving Neville the final ten points that wins Gryffindor the house cup. "There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom." What a confidence boost that must've been to a kid like Neville who didn't think he had enough bravery to belong in Gryffindor. And it's the perfect celebration to have at the end of the book.

What are your favorite Sorcerer's Stone moments? Leave a comment!

Monday, July 3, 2017

June Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell


As usual, Rainbow Rowell's characters and dialogues kept me hooked pretty much the whole way through. It was a bit of a slow start and the ending was a little disappointing, but it's short and easy to read and the middle was great!

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash


I had higher hopes for this one since I LOVED Honor Girl, but the only thing this book had was plot. I didn't like any of the characters, and a lot of them were very two-dimensional. It's the first book in a series, but I don't think I'll be reading the rest. The mystery was compelling, but that's not enough to make me love a book.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


WOW WOW WOW. So many of my blogger friends had raved about this book and the hype was worth it. If it weren't for the very slow start (I almost quit a hundred pages in, but then Lara urged me to keep going), I would have given this five stars. It was MIND-BENDING. So many plot twists! So many great characters! Who knew you could make a psychotic artificial intelligence computer thing a well-developed character? The format was super unique and made a gigantic book seem like a couple hundred pages. I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel.

Movies I Watched



Quirky as heck, but super fun. I felt very relaxed and optimistic after I watched it, if that made any sense. Simple story, character driven, just how I liked it. Be ready for strangeness when you watch it, though.

"Jeff, Who Lives at Home"


Funny and well-cast, but it had a sort of gray tone the entire time I watched it. You don't exactly feel uplifted at the end. It's dark and melancholy.

"Wonder Woman"


I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. I've seen it twice already, and I'll probably see it a third time this weekend. Gah, where to begin??? First of all, something that's bugged me recently with superhero movies is that the good guys who used to truly care about saving the civilians are too self-absorbed to notice that hey, maybe we shouldn't destroy these buildings and tear apart the city to fight each other. Even people like Captain America have strayed away from this more and more. But Diana really did care. She frequently stopped whatever she was doing to duck down and help a mother and her child, or anyone who needed help. She helped those who couldn't help themselves, just like she said she wanted to. And the movie was funny! Diana and Steve had fantastic chemistry, and I think Steve not only viewed her as his equal, but as his superior. Diana was in a man's world the moment she stepped into London, but she was surrounded by men who lifted her up (quite literally). The Amazons in general were warriors and never once were objectified in their own world. They wore armor instead of spandex for fighting because, duh, it's realistic. I was dreading the moment when Diana would inevitably flirt her way past a situation, but that moment never came! She used her cleverness, empathy, strength, and training to fight her battles. Steve did try to flirt his way out of a situation once, which was a welcome change and pretty humorous. The whole movie had great themes and messages and role models, and I'm so glad that little girls and boys get to grow up with Wonder Woman as a major superhero showing that girls have an equal place on the playing field.

"High Fidelity"


I really enjoyed the format this movie took. It was clever and unique and funny, but I couldn't get past the fact that I wasn't rooting for any of the characters. Rob had a lot of issues he barely started to recognize in himself and change by the end of the movie, which was too late for me to seriously care about him.

"Sunshine Cleaning"


This movie was gross, but it was supposed to be. Despite the major flaws the main characters had, I enjoyed them and ultimately wanted them to succeed. It was an interesting plot with a lot of strange twists you don't expect.

"Definitely, Maybe"


Technically I think this is a rom-com, but it had a lot of Indie movie aspects to it. The "sit down kid and let me tell you my whole life story" plot can seem forced sometimes, but it worked here. I really enjoyed it, even if I saw some of it coming.

"Cars 3"


Pixar never fails to please. The Cars franchise isn't my favorite, but they still do a lot of clever things with it. My only qualms with it is that they seemed to reuse a lot of the same old plot lines, and there definitely wasn't enough of Mater in it. But the new characters were welcome additions, and it was a fun surprise to see Nathan Fillion voice someone. (Am I the only one who is strangely reassured by his voice, no matter what kind of character he plays?)

"So I Married an Axe Murderer"


This is an oh-so-painfully-goofy sort of movie, but it doesn't pretend like it's not. It embraces the goofiness in a way that makes it sort of charming. I liked the strangeness enough to be entertained.

Quotes I Wrote

I wrote a flash-fiction story about the four horsewomen of the apocalypse arguing over how best to destroy humanity and had way too much fun writing it.

            “Ladies.” Death’s cool murmur silenced the others. The black hood and robe she wore hid all but her lips, her pale and spidery hands. “It will do us no good to bicker while the Doomsday clock ticks ever closer to midnight. We have minutes to decide. Let us use them wisely.”

            “You’ve been awfully quiet,” Famine said. “What do you suggest?”

            “My ideas are of no importance. However we choose to end the humans, I will still have to play a role. The apocalypse can happen without starvation, bloodbath, and disease, but death is inevitable. It is best if I remain impartial.”

            Pestilence snorted. Her noise of impatience disturbed a fruit fly, which now buzzed about her frizzy hair. “You think yourself noble to remove yourself from the equation, but really you are afraid to make your opinion heard. Silence is cowardice, sister. Cast your vote.”

            “We haven’t taken anything to a vote yet!” Famine shouted, slamming her fists on the table. But she was so frail and thin, she barely even rattled it. “There are still more details to discuss.”

            “Oh, for the love of Lucifer.” War rolled her blazing eyes, swung her legs up onto the table to cross them lackadaisically. Her attention could not be held for longer than a moment if the matter at hand did not involve swords clashing and blood spraying. “You and your details. Sisters, if we talk and do not act for much longer, I fear I will die of boredom before the humans have even been destroyed.”

I went to a writer's camp this month, and in one of the classes, we talked about how you can write a complete story in twenty-five words or less and give it a punchy twist at the end, using the title as an extra sort of misleading clue. I tried to write a few, and I think they came out all right.


"Bon appetite!" The family resumes their lighthearted conversation, rubbing their protesting stomachs as he plucks a knife from the table and begins to carve you.


"Nice to meet you," I say. My wife shakes her hand. The woman smiles at me, as if we're strangers. But we've already met.


I almost grab marshmallows, but decide against it. This kindling makes for bad s'mores. Too much gasoline. I set the house ablaze.


My friends whisper, giggle, trying not to wake me. When they get louder, I open my eyes to the empty room. The voices are back.

Obsessions I Acquired

The music from "Aladdin" - Specifically the Broadway soundtrack because I LOVE "These Palace Walls." "Friend Like Me" is also fantastic because they add a bunch of other Disney references that remind me of Shakespeare quoting his own work in "Will Power" from "Something Rotten."

(The references start around 4:30.)

All things "Wonder Woman" - Most of my electronic backgrounds are of Gal Gadot right now. I also got myself a pretty awesome Wonder Woman t-shirt and chokers soon after seeing the movie. She's definitely my new favorite superhero.

Picture of the Month 

Pictures with castmates from "Beauty and the Beast!"
I took a photography class with 4-H and liked this picture in particular.
For some reason, the theater my friend Sam and I went to to see "Wonder Woman" didn't have a poster up, so we took a selfie near a creepy shark cutout instead.
I took my dad to see "Wonder Woman" a few days later.
I went to a writer's camp and loved everyone I met there! The classes were great and the RAs were super funny and talented and involved.

How was your June?