Saturday, September 23, 2017

#IDareYou Book Tag

I stole this tag from Cait at "Paper Fury" (with her permission, of course). Feel free to take this for yourselves later, for your own blog or to do in the comments. Have fun!

1. What book has been on your shelves the longest?

If we're talking about a TBR shelf, probably something like Legend by Marie Lu. I bought it during my dystopian craze, but now that YA fiction is completely saturated with that genre, I'm waiting to read it until I gain interest again. I'm sure it's great, but I read so many dystopian books, I can't even think about reading another one right now.

2. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

Current read: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (I like it okay so far, but All the Bright Places is so much better.)

Last read: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (A little long, but oh-so-very good!)

Book I'll read next: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (A "Breakfast Club"-esque murder mystery? Yes please!)

3. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I won't say I hated these books, but I disliked them enough to either not finish or barely finish them: The Book Thief, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Catcher in the Rye, The Maze Runner, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.


4. What book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?

Demon Road by Derek Landy, but only because I CAN'T FIND IT ANYWHERE. Not a single bookstore nor library I've been to has carried it. Grrr.

5. Which book are you saving for retirement?

Why save any book for retirement when you can read it now?

6. Last page: Do you read it first or wait until the end?

What kind of monster reads the last page first???????????????

7. Acknowledgements: Are they a waste of paper and ink or interesting?

SO fascinating! I never used to read them, but I read them all the time now. I mostly scan them, but it's super fun seeing which authors are friends with each other, because it makes them seem like real people as opposed to a pair of disembodied hands at a keyboard. I also like to see which agent represents them if it's a book similar to one I'm shopping around, because I can query them.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?

Um, none of them. All of my favorite characters either end up dead, watch their friends and family die, or have to save the world and that is wayyy too much pressure.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life?

I have tons. I love how books evoke emotions so strong, I'm instantly able to recall where and when I read them and what was going on around me when I did. It's super fascinating.

I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone countless times on the stairs at night after my brother had gone to sleep. We used to share a room, so if I wanted light to read, I'd have to sneak out of my room and sit on the stairway. It was closed off from the downstairs, with a door leading to the living room, so sometimes I'd pause my reading and try to listen to what my parents were watching on TV.

Both Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli will always remind me of my birthday, because I read Simon on my sixteenth and Upside on my seventeenth.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver was read in the car on long rides to and from string orchestra when I was about eleven or twelve.

I read Starflight by Melissa Landers at a writer's camp. All of the kids there loved horror movies (I have no real interest in watching them), so at night when they camped out in somebody's room to watch, I'd hang out in my room and read until they were finished and we moved on to a different activity.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum was the exact fluffy read I needed when I was lying on the couch, super tired and very sick.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon were books I read on the train to New York City to see Broadway shows.

Cress by Marissa Meyer and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart were the only books not packed away in boxes when my family moved, so when I was in an empty house with no internet, I didn't have a hard time finding things to do. Both books were excellent.

Books I vividly remember reading over the years during my family's annual beach vacation: Paper Towns by John Green, The Krillitane Storm by Christopher Cooper, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, and Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia.

On the topic of beach vacations, we always made a trip to the indie bookstore on the boardwalk before leaving. I remember one year I bought a copy of Divergent by Veronica Roth and read at least half of it, if not more, on the car ride home. I was instantly sucked into that world and the trip flew by.

I read most of Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas when extended family came out to visit. It was a great way to snatch up a few minutes here and there of much-needed introverted recharging.

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash was read while the "Beauty and the Beast" soundtrack played in the background so I could memorize the songs for the show I was in.

I distinctly remember finishing The Catcher in the Rye one morning in bed, slamming the book shut with a groan, and tossing it across the room.

I read most of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken during slow shifts at work (I work at a movie theater and it is dead on school days).

My family went to Washington D.C. for the cherry blossom festival, and since there was so much traffic on the way home, I was able to read most of The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

I read The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong in every spare moment during a homeschool group trip to Colonial Williamsburg.

This past Halloween, I went out on the front porch with a bowl of candy to hand out to the neighbor kids while I read Misery by Stephen King while the sun went down. It was an excellent way to spend the holiday.

My brother and I volunteered to help out at our local library's book sale, but it was so slow, I ended up spending most of my time reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

10. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

Nothing comes to mind right now. My books come in pretty usual ways: gifts, bookstores, giveaways/contests, etc.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?

I buy my friends books I think they'd like for most birthdays and Christmases.

12. Which book has been with you the most places?

Definitely any of my Harry Potter copies. I used to take paperbacks with me on every long road trip.

13. Any "required reading" you hated in high school that wasn't so bad two years later?

Since I'm still in high school, I can't answer this question yet. But I have a feeling some of the classics I felt pretty "meh" about I'll end up liking once I'm older.

14. Used or brand new?

Both! Brand new is nice and shiny, totally yours, and handy when you want to read a new book. Used copies are cheap and sometimes it's interesting wondering who underlined that quote or who wrote that message on the inside cover?

15. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

I'm reading The Da Vinci Code now.

16. Have you ever seen a movie that you liked more than the book?

If I have, I don't remember it. Most books are wayyy better.

17. A book that's made you hungry?

Anna and the French Kiss. I wanted so many crêpes! Also Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda for Oreos, The Upside of Unrequited for cookie dough (Becky Albertalli is on a mission to make me crave desserts), and The Inexplicable Logic of My Life for homemade tortillas.

18. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?

Cait, Lara Liz, and my mom.

19. Most read authors?

J.K. Rowling, Rainbow Rowell, Cassandra Clare, and A.S. King all come to mind.

20. Ship from two different books?

This is too hard to answer because most of my favorite characters who are extremely shippable I end up shipping with another character in the same book!

Tag, you're it! If you don't want to do the whole tag, you could always answer a couple questions I'm especially curious about in the comments: What are your answers for #9 and #20?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bookish Bucket List

1. Meet J.K. Rowling

Ha. Ha ha.


2. Attend a book conference

YALLFest looks pretty darn amazing. And Rainbow Rowell attends a lot of these. I would LOVE to meet her!

3. Be an extra in a movie adaptation

I could be somebody walking in the background, or pretending to talk in a restaurant while the real action happens. Then there's the chance that I could meet the actors playing my favorite characters. Or maybe even meet the author. I just about died of envy when I heard about Margot Wood being an extra in the Simon movie.


4. Be followed on Twitter by one of my favorite authors

Then again, no matter how thrilled I'd be by this, a little part of me would panic every time I sent a tweet. "Oh god they're following me what did I say was that tweet spelled correctly I need to edit that WAIT I CAN'T EDIT TWEETS I'LL JUST DELETE IT AND START OVER."


5. Write a book blurb for a back cover

You know, those blurbs that only go to people like John Green and Stephen King? It would be awesome to write one of those. Especially since I'd probably write it for something I absolutely adore, so I'd get to help endorse the book and shove it into people's hands.

6. Work in a bookstore and/or library

Getting paid real money to be around books all day and recommend them to people??? This is basically a dream job.


7. Adapt a book for a movie, TV show, or Broadway musical

How. Cool. Would. This. Be.

8. Complete my TBR list so I can read books as they come out

Again . . . ha. Ha ha.


9. Stay up all night reading

This hasn't happened (yet), but I've come pretty close. I think I could do it if I had plenty of caffeine and the absolute perfect book at my disposal.

10. Read the whole Harry Potter series to my kids

Or read along to the audio. These are some of my favorite childhood memories, so I'd love to provide the same experience to my kids someday.


What's on your bookish bucket list? Leave a comment!

Monday, September 4, 2017

August Wrap-Up

Books I Read

Half Bad by Sally Green 

3/5

I was so excited to read this, because it looked like a super unique fantasy trilogy that everyone was in love with. It did have an interesting premise, a strong start, and a promising plot, but . . . the plot wandered, the last half dragged on, and it couldn't keep my attention because I was bored. I couldn't connect with the protagonist, either. I felt sorry for him at first, but I was so disinterested by the end, I didn't care all that much what happened. This book wasn't really for me. I probably won't continue.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

4/5

Wow, this was a fascinating read! I'll get my couple negatives out of the way, because it was a good book and that should be the focus. 1. The story jumped around in time a lot in what seemed mostly like a random order. Sometimes that works, but I didn't think it did with this book. 2. There was a lot told through narration, which made me wonder if a novel would've worked better than a graphic novel? I'm just more used to speech bubbles when I'm reading a graphic novel. But, it was a super interesting memoir about a dysfunctional family (with most of the dysfunction coming from the father). I loved all the connections Alison Bechdel made to literature, because there were a ton of parallels when it came to her life and literary stories.

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

3/5

This was another one I'd heard nothing but good about and couldn't wait to read, but I was so disappointed. Very little kept me reading to the end, and that was because I'd 1. invested so much time already in this book and 2. was a little curious what happened because I did still like the characters. First of all, personal issue here, but I think using the third person for a YA contemporary romance is super odd. We hardly ever see anything but first person when reading YA contemporaries these days. Third person only works if you can still make me feel really connected to the characters, and I did not feel that way. Usually dialogue is able to make up for that, but the dialogue in this book was so unnatural. There were whole conversations that took place simply because it moved the plot forward, which is what dialogue is supposed to do, but it's also supposed to do that without the reader realizing it. Grr. I did love the diversity! It was really cool to read about Indian culture from two American-Indian teenagers with two very different perspectives! Buuuuut, it dealt with these issues in a really preachy, awkward way. I've talked with my teenage friends about social issues. We don't talk like that. The nerdiness was great and I loved the concept of a coding camp where everyone's in a competition to create an app, but for the whole six or so weeks they were at the camp they? Never?? Once??? Showed them???? In class????? Why. Why why why. That could've made things way more interesting and added a ton more tension (which was sorely lacking in the middle) rather than sending Dimple and Rishi to various restaurants for lunch every day. I love food, but food does not make up for a slow plot that wanders and repeats itself. One of the big saving graces to this book was that, however unrealistic several parts of it were, the romance was cute! Downright adorable! I totally shipped it. I mean, when a girl flings her iced coffee at a boy during their first meeting, it's all uphill from there. So, as you can see, I have a lot of feelings (mostly mixed) about this book, but it wasn't bad.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

4/5

Now this was a good book. It had a haunting plot, which was mostly creepy due to the fact that parts of it weren't far off from things that could happen today. It was gripping in a can't-take-your-eyes-away-from-this-trainwreck sort of sense. I loved the writing on a sentence level. Margaret Atwood had a beautiful descriptive style. The awkward and abrupt arrangement of scenes made it hard to reenter the book sometimes, but it's eventually explained why it's written that way. While it made sense, I can't decide if it made up for the fact that it wasn't enjoyable during the whole time I was trying to make sense of it. That, and the storyworld with a confusing hierarchy that's never quite explained. All in all, though, I'd definitely recommend reading it.

Movies I Watched

"Heathers"

3.5/5

I love "Heathers" the musical, so I was excited to watch the movie inspiration behind it, but, fitting in with the common theme of high expectations not being met, I was a little disappointed. It being billed as a dark comedy is a little misleading. The musical, definitely, is a dark comedy. The movie is mostly just dark. Everyone was cast really well and definitely fit their characters, but I didn't connect with them as well as I did in the musical. I also missed the friendship Veronica had with Martha. It wasn't really shown at all during the movie. The ending also fell flat for me. Maybe I would've liked it a lot better if I didn't have anything to compare it to, but while it was entertaining and still had that over-the-top premise that made it so unique, I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.

"Catch Me If You Can"

5/5

This was so fun!! And good!! I love heist films and sympathetic criminals and all that great gray area (or not-so-gray area) stuff. The fact that the whole story was based off of a true story made it that much better. What a crazy movie filled with tons of twists. I was hooked the entire time. Anything Tom Hanks is in is bound to be 1,000 times better than it would be if he wasn't in it. Definitely watch this movie if you haven't already.


Quotes I Wrote


            “The answer to all our problems!” Jezebelle gestured vaguely with her bottle. “We have got to visit the mermaids!”
            “Dear God, no, absolutely not.” Lincoln stood up, pulling Jezebelle off the table. “You can have a family reunion some other time, preferably when I’m far, far away.”
            “Oh, don’t be such greasy wig.” Rufus waved a hand in Lincoln’s direction. “I love your family, Jez. We ought to pay them a visit.”
            “We’ve got nowhere to be.” Zahira shrugged and leapt onto the table, taking Jezebelle’s place. “Why don’t we go to Starryedge?”
            Lincoln crossed his arms. “Because it’s filled with a bunch of superstitious fish people who try to tell me wearing black shortens my lifespan by ten years?”
            “They’ve got a point, mate. Black is not your color.” Rufus wiggled a finger at Lincoln’s current outfit: layers upon layers of dark clothing. “Makes you look pale.”

-Captain Zahira and Her Wayward Crew


Obsessions I Acquired

Brittain Ashford's voice - Not only is she fantastic in "Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812" as Sonya, but she also has a band, Prairie Empire! All of her music is so good. I love how unique her voice is. Two seconds into any song and you know immediately it's her singing. Here's her solo from the "Great Comet" that could totally stand on its own as a single from the musical.

 

Picture of the Month 

Charlie and Mikey came out to visit again and we had a blast, as always!
Scout: Why do we have to take a picture? Me:BECAUSEYOURESOFREAKINGCUTEYESYOUAREYESYOUAREWHOSAGOODGIRL
My dad took my brother and me to see "Great Comet" and it was SUCH A COOL EXPERIENCE.
With Balaga!
Brittain Ashford, who's just adorable.
Dave Malloy, who sounds exactly like he does when he's singing.
Dana and I went to Lititz and goofed off, as you can see.
How was your August?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

One Camp, Two Camps, Red Camp, Blue Camp

(This post features my sad attempt at a creative blog post title.)

This summer totally flew by, for a number of reasons, but part of why it was so busy was because I went to three different camps! Two writing camps and one non-writing camp. All of them were so cool in totally different ways, so I'm going to do what I do best when I'm excited about something and RAMBLE about them. I might even share some writing from the camps. Who knows? You'll have to read to find out.

Camp #1: Camp ArtWorks - Elizabethtown College

I had no clue what to expect with this camp since it was my first time going, and it looked like the camp was pretty new, but once I saw Daina Savage was teaching there, I knew I had to go. I had her as a teacher years ago at the Linden Hall writing day camp and loved her. It was so nice to see her again! I was surprised she actually recognized me after all these years, but from day one, she knew exactly who I was.

This was also my first time going away to a camp and not knowing who my roommate would be, so I was a little nervous, but she turned out to be great! We got along really well. And we were both night owls, so it worked out fabulously.

My roommate and me.
It was a really small camp, so everyone got to know each other. We all ate meals together, hung out and played games like Mafia and Truth or Dare during free times, and had impromptu open mic nights. Our RAs were so cool. We adopted them as our mom, dad, aunt, and uncle for the week. It was tons of fun hanging out with them and they loved to read and critique our writing.

Our dorm family.
The classes were all really diverse. We got a taste for flash-fiction, short stories, poetry, lyrical essays, and scripts, all in one day. Everyone liked some teachers better than others, but it was definitely the best camp I've been to in terms of how many different genres I got to try out. Some camps I'll write two or three pieces that I workshop like crazy until it's just right, but with this camp, I got to just generate a ton of work. Lots of it was garbage, but that's to be expected when you're trying to write twelve different pieces in a day.


Some extremely short flash-fiction I wrote when we were challenged to write stories in 25 words or less. Hopefully you can make out the text.

One of my favorite parts was writing a script together with my roommate. There was forty-five minutes between class and lunch, so we locked ourselves in our room and worked on it. We ended up having so much fun with it, we almost missed lunch. Our "dorm mom" had to knock on our door and make sure we knew what time it was.

All in all, it was a really great week.


Camp #2: Young Writers Workshop - Messiah College

This camp has always been my favorite. I look forward to it every summer, and this year was no different. I signed up to be roommates with two girls I'd met at that camp in past years (Sam and Dana), so we shared a triple together and had a blast. Of course, we didn't get any sleep with all of us hanging out in the same room together, but that was fine by me.The Messiah workshop usually has so many students, they completely fill three separate classes, but this year was tiny. We had maybe 20 kids. But this really gave me the chance to get to know students who had been there every year, but I'd never gotten to talk to.

Our epic squad.

My class had a great teacher who used some really meditative exercises each day to help us stretch our writing muscles and write in different genres or styles we may not always gravitate to on our own. She helped us form smaller critique groups within the class, and everyone was super supportive of each other. We felt like a little family, quirks and all. I wrote a lot of poetry this year, and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out.

A short love poem inspired by Luneville, the best headcanon ship to have ever come out of Harry Potter.
And, of course, the famous (or dare I say "infamous?") talent show. After Sam, Dana, and I did a hilarious and completely uncoordinated lip sync to "Farmer Refuted" last year, we'd become a sort of camp legend. The RAs made sure we were the ones to close the show this year, and boy, was it a hit. We did another lip sync, this time to "Gaston." We even got a new girl we'd made friends with that week to be part of it. It was tons of fun and we ended up winning first prize in the "Miscellaneous" category.


Camp #3: St. John's Summer Academy - St. John's

This camp was the one I was most nervous about, mostly because I wasn't sure what to expect from the campers. I had no clue what kind of people would be there and worried I wouldn't be "intellectual" enough to really find my people. It turned out to be okay! Most everyone there was really nice, even if they weren't the geeky/fangirly campers I was used to from my other camps.



The classes were cool. I loved the discussion style (for the most part), especially since the readings I had to read ahead of time were a mixed bag. Some of them I really enjoyed and totally understood (like most of the short stories, "Twelfth Night," and Pride and Prejudice), but others I was really confused by (like the science text and some of the essays) and needed to talk to the other teens and tutors in order to figure out what I'd read. The seminar style was a little tricky to navigate since sometimes it was hard to find a way into the discussion. One girl who was in all of my classes had a habit of monopolizing the conversation and never liked to admit she could be wrong, but she was quickly shut down by the other students as the week went on and everyone grew tired of her.

Annapolis is so cute and fun! It felt like a beach town without the beach. The girls on my floor in the dorms made daily excursions to get food, ice cream, visit shops, and go to old bookstores. In fact, we went out for ice cream so many times, we had debates on which shops had the best flavors and prices.


More daily activities were the workshops the various RAs hosted. We had a huge list of extracurriculars we could choose from (like poetry, flash philosophy, and fencing, all of which I tried), so I ended up going to theatre any time it was an option, which ended up being a good choice, not only because it was fun, but because I got to be a part of a talent show performance.

My RA ran the theatre workshop, so she worked with a couple classmates and me to put on the sleepwalking scene from "Macbeth" with a bunch of really cool choreography. There were three of us who played Lady Macbeth, and two other classmates who jumped in last minute to play the doctor and the gentlewoman. The video is dark, but you can still see the choreography pretty well. I'm the one on the very right in the red dress.

video


But everyone's favorite part was the swing dancing party. Each day, there were two groups of campers who alternated between playing croquet and taking swing dancing lessons. These lessons built on one another in order for us to be prepared for the swing party at the end of the week. It lasted several hours and our feet ached by the end of it, but nobody cared, because we were too busy dancing the whole time to notice. It was the perfect way to end the camp.


What was your favorite summer camp or camp activity you participated in? Leave a comment!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse

In celebration of today's eclipse (which was super cool, by the way--so much fun to go out with my family to see about 80% of the sun covered), I thought I'd share an old short story of mine, literally titled Eclipse. What better timing than now to post it? It's about the sun and moon falling in love. The story won a Scholastic silver key last year in the science fiction & fantasy category. Enjoy! :)


Eclipse

          Once there was a painter. An artist so whimsical and filled to the brim with raw talent, she could spread her arms wide to welcome the world and paint stars across the universe. The night was her canvas, a silky black that unfolded from the dying light of the brilliant orb that shone as she slept.
          But as the lazy summer faded into crisp cold and the painter grew restless, something caught her eye. It was the same blaze that burned on day after day, sinking deep into the array of twinkling lights the painter had displayed that night. Puzzled, she took a closer look as the golden rays slipped into slumber.
          Hello? The painter called out, reaching with swirls of silver, sweeping the brush across the miles for the dazzling orb to see.
          Is someone there? Came the response, and the painter gasped at the voice, so beautiful, harmonious, that it sent chills through her. A song worthy of a siren, she enchanted the artist.
          Who are you? The painter inquired, her words twisting in confusion.
          Even with the vast distance between them, she could see the singer's smile. It lit up her every feature, flaring for the briefest of seconds before fading again.
          I am the bringer of light, the one who sings of days and wonder.
          The painter stared for a good long time, watching as the singer continued to dim and slip away. She couldn't tell if the growing gap was due to the singer's fall or her own rise.
          But what shall I call you? The painter finally spoke, stretching even further now for her words to carry to a place where the singer can see.
          The beings below call me 'sun,' but out here in the quiet you may use the name Clara.
          Clara, the painter tested the word, watching as the letters flowed and curled together, and feeling her own lips tug into a smile. She liked the way the sun's name looked before her.
          And what may I call you, queen of the night?
          This surprised the painter. Never before had she even considered the concept of a name for herself. I don't know, she replied. The beings below are fast asleep by the time I stretch my limbs. I'm not even sure what they name me.
          They speak of 'moon,'  Clara hummed, her words soft and sleepy, a lullaby. But you are not confined to the choices of others. You are allowed to forge your own path.
          So the painter pondered, hesitantly brushed the wide range of silvers and blues and the other colors of sleep on her canvas until she found a collection of whimsical letters she liked.
          Lunette, the painter said. That is my name.
          Well, Lunette, I will bid you goodnight for now. Clara's voice broke on a yawn, the once seamlessly connected notes shattering as the night stole her from Lunette, before she could even lift her brush for just one more word.
          Lunette was restless as the night stretched on. Clara spoke about the beings as if they were lively creatures, which they were, the painter supposed, once the singer rose high into the sky for another day. But now in the quiet of the black and silver, the canvas acted as a warm blanket, a protection against the cold. No one stirred. The painter brought wild, mesmerizing dreams to all she could reach in the hours she surveyed the earth below. But once the first sliver of light was visible, Lunette caught the eye of her fellow artist, so similar yet so far away.
          Clara! She shouted into the early morning, desperately trying to cling to the sky, to share it with her newfound friend. But the universe was already dragging her down, her tight grip slipping as only her fingertips hung from the blood red of dawn. Clara, wait!
          The singer looked down at the painter, features brightening even more when she saw her, the red of the sky softening to a delicate pink. Good morning, Lunette.
          Lunette's eyes were slipping closed, blinking blearily at the sun. Her shimmer on the verge of blinding now. But artists are a determined bunch, and she was no different. She managed to muster up the energy for a few more lazy scribbles, barely legible enough for Clara to read. Why must you wake when I'm so tired?
          It is the way of the world, night bringer. It is how it's always been.
          But I don't like it! Lunette protested, her words worthy of a petulant five-year-old's angry crayon drawing. She fought sleep like it was her attacker rather than her savior giving her a gift. I want to hear you sing. I only catch snatches. And the nights are so long and lonely now. Why is that? They used to be short.
          Clara's smile was small, the words of her song stretched out in long, haunting notes. It made Lunette sad even before the meaning of the lyrics registered in her foggy mind. Just the sound of it, so clear and bittersweet, made her want to cry. I'm dying, sweet painter. Soon my song must end, and quiet will fall again as winter's white blanket settles around the earth.
          It took Lunette an age to trace what she was aching to say, feeling heavier than ever, and pained. You can't die. It's not right.
          I can, and I will. But summer will come again and I will stretch and unfurl and fill the sky with joyous sounds.
          Exactly! Your singing is so beautiful. How will the world survive without it?
          Not all art will be lost, Clara insisted, her voice like a comforting hug, wrapping around Lunette to keep her warm and safe. They will have you.
          Me? Lunette scoffed, the bitter edge to her words stretching out in smoky tendrils. You bring warmth and happiness. With me comes the dark and cold. The beings below don't even open their eyes to look upon the paintings I so carefully create. Few each moonrise glance up. What do I bring?
           Rest. Clara's lyrics were both an answer and a command, her voice still in that lullaby-like quality. Peace and comfort. The beings below can't truly appreciate either of our masterpieces without the sleep you bring.
          Our masterpieces? Lunette wasn't sure if she'd heard the singer right. I'm not sure anyone looks at mine.
          Do you not see the ones peeking from behind their curtains? They're quiet, but they are there. The stargazers, the dreamers, they all look with wide-eyed wonder as you unfold your inky canvas dotted with light. Then, after a beat's hesitation, Clara flickered. The painter recognized it as a bashful action, voice even quieter now. I look.
          The heaviness became more manageable now, lighter and easier for Lunette to widen her eyes in surprise. You do?
          Yes. Each sunset, each sunrise. Glimpses of it, but all the same, they leave me in awe. So delicate, so beautiful. They are truly amazing, Lunette. You should be proud to possess such a noble ability.
          And Lunette fell into the deep blue, calmer than ever before, her dreams sweet and crystalline.
          Each day and night, dawn and dusk, the painter and the singer exchanged brief words before one of them lost their hold on the waking world. And inevitably, once the painter had put the finishing touches on her work of art, she was left alone again. But it was worth the loneliness just to make Clara smile when she woke.
          Do you ever find that you have no more ideas? Nothing more to create? Clara asked one crisp morning.
          Lunette smirked. Once in a blue moon.
          Her laugh tinkled like wind chimes, filling Lunette with more warmth and life than she'd ever felt before. But the singer's voice was tired, hoarse from use.
          How much time do you have left? Lunette whispered into the sunrise.
          Days. The solstice is upon us.
          And what will happen when it comes?
          I will burn one last time, for the final song, before stepping out of the spotlight. And then you, my glowing angel, will bring the world an unsung harmony.
          But you will return?
          Yes.
          When?
          In the morning, like any other day.
          Lunette was perplexed by this. But if you will return like any other day, how come you say that you're dying?
          Clara smiled again, but Lunette found that she did not like the way this smile looked upon her golden face. It did not light up her features, but rather make them look grayer, sadder. This smile was used to mask pain. There is a reason they call it morning, Lunette.
          And why is that?
          The song I sing the following dawn is one sung at a funeral. I will return a different person, a different sun. Clara will die, and from the ashes, like a phoenix, another will rise.
          No! Lunette shouted, striking her paintbrush through the canvas as she slipped away from the singer. I won't allow it! You have to fight!
          I will not fight. It is inevitable.
          Then what of me? Why is it that I must live to watch you die?
          Lunette, Clara whispered, reaching out with her warm touch, though her gentle fingers never reached Lunette's face. The moon and sun, painter and singer, were just close enough to see and speak but too far away to touch. It made Lunette feel as if she were a palette only of gray. There is more than one solstice.
          What do you mean?
          Summer is the time when I shine brightest.
          I don't understand.
          The moon was shocked and saddened to see a tear drip down the singer's cheeks, glowing like embers now, a fire long gone. I watched you rise that night. I saw the first painting you ever created, the most wondrous display of stars the world has ever seen.
          Why didn't we speak then? How come we only know each other now?
          Sometimes you just need to see someone in the right light, Clara explained, brushing her hand against a stray star fighting its hardest not to be washed away. The painting you brushed onto the canvas that night for whatever reason caused you to notice my song.
          Lunette hadn't realized she was crying until now, when she felt an unfamiliar heat drip onto her hand still clutching the brush. There were tears all down her face. With a shaking grip, she delicately dipped into the most brilliant silver she had to paint the only thing she felt mattered. All of her work, all of the stars, every constellation that ever was and ever would be, would never compare to what she had to say now.
          I love you.
          The last thing Lunette saw was another tear slide from Clara's eye onto the canvas, the star melting away into nothingness.
          The singer's songs were always sad now, muffled by the clouds that accompanied her, barely a soul glancing up to see why the world had gone so quiet.
          Even Lunette's paintings looked more like haphazard doodles now, hurriedly drawn as if on a deadline she'd forgotten about. The zest she'd once had for it, the inspiration, was gone, lying in shattered remains along with her heart.
          You can't leave me, Lunette sobbed with trembling, jagged lines the night before the winter solstice.
          I have to. Clara's voice cracked on the last word, shaking almost as much as Lunette's hands were in an effort to keep herself together. You will find a way to carry on. You are so strong, Lunette.
          Not strong enough.
          You will be.
          I love you.
          I know.
          I thought love was supposed to be enough to get us through anything. All the songs you sing speak of it.
          Sometimes songs lie, Clara murmured, and her glow was so faded now, she was able to pluck one of the stars from the sky as easily as one might pull a berry from a bush, and cradle it in her arms like a newborn baby. And sometimes endings are not happily ever after.
          But how am I supposed to go on without you when you were my once upon a time?
          As you always do. You will paint.
          And so the sun slept for one more night. Lunette cried. Her tears were cold in the hush of winter's dusk, and she watched them float down into the earth, turned into snow. Something so beautiful should not be allowed when someone is so sad, Lunette thought. But that was the way it was, and so snow it did.
          Clara could not seem to bring herself to sing louder than a whisper on the dawn of the solstice. Her voice itself was sweet, but the words tragic, if anyone else bothered to listen. Lunette listened for as long as she could. If these were to be the sun's last moments, the moon would be her companion.
          But even the painter was not strong enough to resist sleep itself, and she rested for just a few hours before opening her eyes to the cold, cruel world. Clara was already beginning to slip.
          Don't go, Lunette begged her as she reached as close as she could, even though she knew it was pointless.
          I must. Clara's voice, once so gorgeous, was barely audible now.
          Lunette pushed, the ache in her broken heart propelling her nearer, wanting, needing to hold the one she loved before she was gone forever.
          Kind moon, Clara said, eyes only half open, her fire all but extinguished. Do not waste your energy on what you can't change. Channel those emotions into the most amazing painting the world will ever see. Do it for me.
          Though Lunette's tears still fell into snow, and her hands still trembled like earthquakes, and her paint was mostly untouched, she did not stop reaching. She would not stop reaching. And with a final shout of determination, an emphatic swish of silver against the navy blue canvas, Lunette surged forward. And she was in the arms of the one she loved most of all.
          The painter was too stunned to say anything. But the singer, always the crafter of words, smiled, sharing the warmth she had left with her beloved.
          You made it, she hummed.
          I had to, Lunette said. But how--
          They call it an eclipse. Clara gazed upon the earth, the beings below, bathed in pure white snow and shadow. It only happens when the sun and moon share a connection so strong, the laws of the universe itself can't keep the two apart.
          An eclipse, Lunette echoed, and she strung the words high above their heads for all to see, a silvery strand of loving cursive.
          Yes.
          And when the painter found herself using all of her strength to support the singer in her arms, trying to hold her, keep her in the sky for just a bit longer, she knew what she had to do.
          Rest, Clara, Lunette brushed the words with care across the sun's closed eyelids, snow falling harder than ever. I will paint you the most beautiful bed of stars anyone has ever seen.
          I do not doubt it. Clara pressed her cooling lips to Lunette's, holding her in one last embrace. Goodnight, Lunette. I love you.
          May the stars welcome you home.
          And Lunette let her go.
          That night, Lunette unfolded a fresh canvas, one of the deepest blues so dark, it appeared almost black. But with her set of paints at her side, the moon created a world of light from the darkness, one that caused all the beings below to gaze up and gasp in awe. It was by far her best masterpiece yet, one the suns who followed Clara's footsteps would sing about for ages.
          And just as promised, beauty rose from the ashes. Sleep beckoned Lunette closer, but she resisted. Not in the bursts of indignant energy she often used to avoid the rest, but a soft, pleading, Just a few minutes more.
          The new sun rose, bright and bold and beautiful, a different kind of glorious blaze than Clara's, but a dazzling one all the same.
          Hello? She called out, in a voice high-pitched and scared, but one filled with music just like the previous singer's. Is anyone there? Where am I?
          Hello, Lunette softly brushed in front of the new sun, rapidly rising into the dawn.
          There was a long pause, then she sang, Sun. Yes, the beings below call me sun. But who are you?
          I am the bringer of rest. I paint peace and harmony across the night sky. The beings below call me moon. Lunette hesitated for a moment, trying to recall what Clara had told her one night, that piece of wisdom the painter thought this new singer would need more than ever now. But you are not confined to the choices of others. You are allowed to forge your own path. My name is Lunette.
          You mean I'm allowed to pick my own name?
          You are allowed to do whatever you please.
          Just when Lunette thought that sleep would claim her at last, she heard a soft, tinkling voice chime, Aurora. My name is Aurora.

Did you watch the eclipse? How much of it did you see? Leave a comment!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I Use GIFs to Describe My Writing Process (and to describe a lot of other things)

I'm a month late, but Cait's Beautiful People questions for July looked like so much fun to answer, I knew I had to do them eventually. Plus, gifs were involved, and I can never resist that.

1. How do you decide which project to work on?


Decisions? Yeah, no, not great at that when it comes to writing. If I ever try to make a logical decision, I end up opening fourteen documents, scanning through them to see what I'd written before, spending the next half hour weighing the pros and cons of working on the different projects, and ultimately not working on any of them.

That being said, it's usually best if I have a deadline set for something. The pressure of a piece having to be done by a certain date helps me work faster. And if I'm really excited about something, I'll drop everything else to work on that right away while I still have the inspiration.
2. How long does it usually take you to finish a project?


A long time. A really long time. I'm great at starting things; the first 5,000 words of any novel is the easiest thing I will ever right. But actually finishing something? Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha.

It also depends on whether or not "finishing a project" means finishing the first draft or polishing a draft to perfection. A first draft of a novel for me might take a few months to a year, but edits take forever, mostly because I hate editing with a passion. Almost as much as Lorelai Gilmore hates decaf coffee.
3. Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

I feel like I don't have an exact routine for anything. Whatever works for me in the moment is the best way to go about it, especially since my schedule changes so often, I hardly ever write at the same time each day. But something that does tend to stay the same is my need for the right amount of noise. Sometimes I like total silence, sometimes I want a certain playlist, sometimes I need something more along the lines of ambient noise. Once I have that down, I can get started.
4. What time of day do you write best?

See my answer to the above question. I'm not sure I notice a huge difference when I write, but I do tend to like the way my brain works really late at night and soon after I wake up in the morning. 

5. Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

I'd like to think my dialogue is similar to Rainbow Rowell's, and lately my first person narrative seems to sound like Becky Albertalli's, but I admire the both of them so much, it could just be wish fulfillment.
6. Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?


I honestly can't remember when or why I started writing. I just really liked it. It was fun and once I found out people did it for a living, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I haven't stopped. Sometimes there are short stretches when I don't feel like writing or everything I write seems like garbage, but it doesn't last long, because if I stop writing for too long, I start to get a little twitchy.

7. What is the hardest thing you've written?


It's funny how in the moment, some things seem so difficult, and then when I try to look back and remember what was the hardest, nothing comes to mind. The middle of any project is when the temptation to give up is the strongest. Endings are also really hard because I want to get it just right, and I never want to say goodbye to my characters. Also, anytime you get nervous about someone reading something you've written, it tends to be some of the best stuff you've written.
    8. Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

    Adult fiction? Mostly cause, duh, I'm not an adult. Maybe memoir stuff, too. I keep a pretty regular journal, but to write good non-fiction pieces, I think it's probably best to get some distance from the memories. Then you can see what still sticks out and focus on that, the most important and memorable bits. And you can connect those memories with your older and wiser interpretation of them.

    9. What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?



    I couldn't be happier with how productive I've been in this sense. Not even halfway through the year, I completed all of my writing-related 2017 goals.


    -Finish "Writer's Camp." Check! It's a full-length movie script that will probably just collect figurative dust in my documents, but I'm still happy I wrote it. It was tons of fun and helped me learn a lot about screenwriting

    -Do more screenwriting. Done, and I loved every second of it. I wrote two spec scripts, one for "Castle" and one for "New Girl," as part of an application to a Warner Bros. internship experience. I knew there was like a 1% chance of me actually getting it, especially since it was geared for adults, but I still wanted to try. I did not get in, but writing the scripts was fun.

    -Finish editing Beneath the Moon and Stars. Finally. I started writing this book toward the end of 2013 and I think I've finished up the final touches as of last month or so. Now I just have to find an agent for it.

    -Finish Terrible Things. Finished! It's by far the longest fan-fiction series I've ever written. The story stands on its own enough that I could probably make a few changes so it reads as a normal fiction piece, too.

    -Do the first round of edits for Ms. Holmes. This one was only difficult in the sense that I cringed with every page I turned. Oh how young and deluded I was. It still needs a ton of work to even be legible.

    10. Describe your writing process in 3 words or gifs!

    (You know me. I have no respect for rules when it comes to things such as limiting my gif usage. There will be more than three. A lot more. But they're all in order and make for a pretty entertaining representation of how writing a novel usually goes for me.)

     

     


    What authors do you think you're similar to? What's the hardest thing you've ever written? Leave a comment!