Fangirling Over Fangirl

I just finished Rainbow Rowell's young adult novel, Fangirl, and I'm so sad it's over. Reading this book was like finding a piece of sea glass on the beach when you're not looking, like wishing on a fuzzy dandelion and having your wish come true. It was completely unexpected, but so rewarding in the end. Picking up this book, I knew it would be good; I'd already madly in love with Eleanor and Park when I read it back in January.

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There was something about Cath, Wren, Reagan, and Levi, which made them seem so real despite the fact that they are just characters in a book. They are flawed, imperfect, and speak their minds honestly. And for the short time I spent with them in this fictional world, they were like my best friends. I connected with Cath as a writer and lover of a fandom, which many people often snub. But luckily, like Cath, I've found friends who support my love of all things nerdy. I have family to supports me, too, and a love for the stories I've read, and the stories in my head. 

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I can't wait to go back and read this lovely piece of YA lit. again, but I'm also saddened because I'll never have the unknowingness the next time around. There is something so perfect and magical about reading a really good book for the first time. But there's also something wonderful about reading your favorite book again and again because you never read it the same way, even if the book doesn't change. You're the one who's changed. And because you've changed, there are certain lines you pay more attention to, which make you smile a little brighter, phrases to break your heart, and scenes that still make you cry. 

I think that's the beauty of all books. Having the ability to go back and spend time with some of your favorite people in worlds you enjoy is important to stay positive, to have faith in this world when bad things happen. And for me, it's even more important because it shows words and stories are still important, making me believe my words and my stories are important. too. And I can't wait to share them with the world. But until then, I think I'm going to fall into fictional place I love!

Waves. Words. Writing.

Leading up to leaving for Myrtle Beach a few days ago, I tried to get all of my work done so I wouldn't have anything to do while on vacation. I succeeded for the most part. And even though I finished my current submission for grad school, I felt words building within me today as I walked down the beach. It was beautiful; calm. The only sounds were the gulls and the waves lapping at the shore. Even with all of the white noise, my brain seemed loud. Not with worries, nor mindless prattle, but rather lines for stories and poems.

 

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I suppose Eugene Ionesco was right. I guess a writer never really has a vacation. And I know that even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. I guess that just makes me a writer.

It's so easy sometimes to get caught up in all of the stress and deadlines, which go along with writing in grad school. But then there are days when the words are just there, when the story is so deep it might as well be 20,000 leagues beneath the sea. And I understand why people talk about the mystery and vastness of the ocean sometimes. Looking at the tumbling topaz waves makes me believe in the possibility of life, in the possibility of things, which seem impossible in the world. I suppose that's what I'm trying to find in myself, and in my writing. So for right now, I'll enjoy these waves, the sound of words in my head, and the feeling that comes with filling a blank page with writing.

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Finding Strength and a Mighty Pen

It seems it's been more than a month since I've written here, which feels strange. I guess it's not that I didn't have anything to write about. If anything, I've had too many thoughts as of late, and I haven't been sure how to write them. So I kept those thoughts close, guarded like secrets.

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I guess I should start by saying that I completely massacred BOOK ONE, and brought it back to life. At first, it was scary. But then, it wasn't. Tearing apart my own world made it that much easier to rebuild. Maybe it wasn't so bad because I wanted to experiment. Or maybe it's because I've gotten good at rebuilding things. Either way, BOOK ONE is better than I ever could have imagined!

Want to know the best part?

I finally know what it's all about. And not just BOOK ONE. I know the theme for each book AND the series as a whole. When people ask (and they do ask) what it's all about, I can finally explain it without rambling and sounding like I don't actually know the answer. And this realization has helped me put the pieces of this book back together!

Looking back over the past two months, I'm not really sure how I got through them. I guess when we look back at the difficult things in our life we're not sure how we've made it. Maybe we're all stronger than we ever believed. And maybe, all you invisible readers out there don't know why you're so strong. But lucky for me, I do. Every day, I strive to be as strong as my maternal grandmother. She's amazing, which makes it hard to believe anything could ever break her. And I think that's what everyone in my family and community believed, too. And I think we all still believe that even though she's been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I kind of hate that word: cancer. It doesn't even sound good in my mouth. But I guess, if I've learned anything through this, it's that my grandmother IS breakable. We all are. But she has the strength to put herself back together again. I think that's astounding. And even with this diagnosis, she is still the same wonderful person. In trying to wrap my mind around all of this, of course I've been writing about it, even if I haven't been writing about it here. 

Writing is the only thing, which gets me through the ins and outs of life. And I suppose, unknowingly, I started this new, memoir-ish kind of project, but I'm not quite ready to write about that yet, either. I am, however, going to try to keep my updates more frequent, because I wouldn't want to forget any of the crazy, amazing, labor-intensive last months in my first semester at SNHU. I have just two more submissions, and then residency, which I can't wait for! But right now, I must go! I'm leaving for Myrtle Beach tomorrow and have nothing packed.

May my pen be mightier...

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Out of Creation

Today, looking back at all my old stories and poems, I got to thinking about how much I've changed. Not only as a writer, but as a person as well. And I guess the reason I really started thinking about this journey so much is because of John Green.

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In his TED talk, Green explained:

 "I believe that what we map changes the life we lead…that while maps don't show you where you will go in your life, they show you where you might go."

And this really stuck with me, because I look at these different stories and I see how they've mapped my life as a writer, and a person who wasn't always very happy. I think I can honestly say that I am happy with how my life has turned out now. I'm happy with the person I've become, with the things I've accomplished, and with this thing that fills me up every day with the need to write. That is what makes me happy, and I love it.

I think part of this thing, whatever it may be, has something to do with the characters who inhabit not only the Falling series, but my head, my heart, and my life. Though they comes from cities I'll never see, though they, as John Green puts it, "are people I've never met," they still feel real, and I love them for that. I love the people I know they are and the people I know they will be when this series ends.

There is something so beautiful and poetic about creating people, who eventually create you. And that's what these characters have done. They have created me into this writer I always dreamed of being. They saved me. Their words and their stories saved me. And when people bring you back to life, there's only one thing to call them. And that's why they're my saviors. 

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Book Love

Today, I wanted to give some much deserved book love to Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

I absolutely loved this book! It was refreshing to see Cinderella be more than someone scrubbing floors and wearing pretty dresses; Cinder is a bad ass female! The way Meyer twists the traditional fairytale, breathes new life into Cinderella, while all at once delivering nostalgic gems hidden within the text.

There is a beautiful moment in the story: 

 "If there was one thing she knew from years as a mechanic, it was that some stains never come out." 

Though simple, this seems to encapsulate everything, which later happens within this delightful retelling. It's exciting to see that other people are just as enthralled with fairytales as I am. I can't wait to read Scarlet and Cress, the next books in the wonderfully eerie Lunar Chronicles.

A Letter To Those Who Wish To Ban Books

Dear You,

You, who try to stamp out these books, which have not grown to harm our children, but rather, have sprouted from the hands and the souls of writers who were once children, who now wish to spark a flame in the mind, and to heal a wounded heart. You who try to say these books are not important, that stories are not important,  have you ever had someone say your story is not important to this world? 

How can you say that children should not see and hear the things that are happening around them? How can you say they should keep their noses out of books, and instead, pressed to the glass of school bus windows where children sit and talk with mouths full of words we'd rather they not speak? How can you say we shouldn't talk about the things, which hurt our children, and torture our children, that come up to our children with a plastic cup filled with beer or whiskey or whatever they can find to drown out the pain? Why would you rather they taste the booze between those sweet lips instead of tasting it through a voracious literary appetite? 

Why should we let girls struggle with weight and rape and the utter pain of a broken heart, alone? Why should we let boys treat girls like they don't matter? Why should we categorize and stereotype the experiences of these young adults? And for that matter, why should we call them young adults if we do not let them behave like adults who are young? 

Why would you take away a hunger for words trailed across the page like spaghetti, wound around the mind like pasta around the tines of a fork? Why would you discourage a belief in books, in magic, in wonderful words, which broaden the mind and make the world beautiful, and true? 

You see, I just don't understand. I am a believer in books. In words. I stories. But you see, I am a writer. And I am a reader. And I was a girl who walked through school hallways with bullies and wounds that could not be bandaged over. But you see, I did not become like those girls on the news. I did not become a statistic. Books rescued me. And that's why I can't understand why you'd take a book from the hands of our children and instead replace it with a smart phone. I can't understand why you'd let these things poison them from the inside out when words could heal them.

 I guess I'll never understand because I believe in books.

Just Another Drop In the Ocean

Yesterday, I briefly touched on my views of book banning, but figured I'd wait and do an entire post about this controversial topic today. Let me preface this post by saying I believe in books, and intend to fight for them as long as there is a fight to be had. As a voracious reader, and a writer who would like to be published someday, book censorship is a topic close to my heart.

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Recently, I found that a number of books, including Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, were being challenged at my former high school. At first, I felt outraged, but then, I just felt saddened. Much of my writing grows from these more intense emotions, and this time was no different.

You can find my response to this news in a letter I wrote here. I've thought and stewed and simmered about this since the beginning of January, but I've finally done something about it. I sent a letter to the superintendent of my former high school, and included information to help her understand why no book should ever be banned. And I included why I thought The Bluest Eye held literary and personal importance for students. Then I added a wonderful article and manifesto from 2010 about the dangers of book banning, which you can find here. This is a beautiful and powerful manifesto written by one of my favorite YA authors, Ellen Hopkins. She has certainly seen her fair share of her own books being banned because of the tough topics covered therein. But I've always thought that was what made her books so uniquely important to young adults. 

Of course, I understand why books are being challenged. Books are the most dangerous weapons we have at our disposal; all at once having the power to broaden the mind and connect people, which, can be dangerous. And of course, I understand why canonical texts are used, why they're important, and how the Common Core is changing education. But still, I don't think censoring literature is the answer. 

Why am I talking about this here?

Do I hope all of you invisible readers out there will understand how important books are? Yes, of course. But I also want you to understand that you have the power to stand up for these books, for your ideas, and for your right to read. In my quest to begin a campaign against book censorship, I found a wonderful website, which reviews banned books and explains why they are important. You can find that website here.

I passed the website along to the superintendent as well, and then reached out to R. Wolf Baldassarro, the writer and publisher of that amazing website. I wanted to share my gratitude for his site, explaining how it helped me organize my thoughts around this campaign. He very graciously emailed me back yesterday, and thanked me! And then, he emailed me again with a link to his page where he not only thanked me, but said some very poignant and beautiful things about this cause. You can find his post here

In the post, he said something remarkable:

 "We are each of us a drop of water, but together we can wash away the fear and ignorance of the world."

So I suppose, though I am just a drop in this vast ocean of people fighting against book censorship, my drop makes that ocean bigger. His post ended by saying that "the ripples have begun. In time it shall become a tidal wave." I am hoping all of us, the readers and the writers of the world, can become that tidal wave.

A Very Merry Unbirthday

Although yesterday was Lewis Carroll's real birthday, I thought it would be more appropriate to wait until today to celebrate this amazing writer! After all, today is his unbirthday, a term coined by Carroll himself in Through the Looking Glass. Looking back, Disney's Alice in Wonderland is probably my favorite film from childhood. I used to watch it at my grandma's every time I was sick, and now, I'm just as enthralled with Wonderland. 

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I think it is Carroll's world, among others, that taught me it was okay to have an imagination, to dream, to create a world of my own, which, I now have done with my writing. I still think about the beautiful, mysterious, and dangerous world Lewis Carroll created, keeping that as one of my touchstones as I write fiction, and especially while I write the Falling series.

Despite any controversy that surrounds this story and its creator, I think it's fair to say that he deserves a shout out on his un-birthday for everything his books have given to me. I agree with Einstein who said:

 "if you want your children to be intelligent read them fairytales."

It seems today, so many people are afraid that fairytales and fantasy will rot children's brains, or worse, turn them into practitioners of black magic. And so, they ban these books, they hide them in locked cabinets. But what these people seem to have forgotten is that the heroes in fiction mirror our real life heroes, and so too do the villains.

Before I get too far off on my quest to end book banning, let me just say Happy Unbirthday to Lewis Carroll, and to all you invisible readers out there who are also celebrating your unbirthdays today! 

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I Spy a Writer

I organized all of my writing materials today, and seeing tangible reminders of all I've created proved writing is just as much a part of me as my fingers or toes. I started playing "I Spy," a game I so loved as a child. I guess I loved it because even then, I was a tiny observer; someone who loved searching, who loved questions, and clues. No one ever guessed mine because I always picked the most minuscule thing, finding it so beautiful.

Today I did the same thing! I played "I Spy," and discovering I am a person who has had the strength and dedication to finish writing a novel, to revise it, to believe in it, and to keep going with a vision I've had for almost five years now.

I realized I am someone who is a collector of sorts. I have envelopes stashing every note I've every taken for the Falling series, all of my files for character development, and copies of every manuscript I've worked on, showing just how far I've come as a writer. I have folders with first drafts, revisions, and feedback. And I have it all stored away so someday down the line, I can look at all those ideas.

I've learned I'm someone committed to the craft of writing. I have over nine books, which have to do with this craft. Sure, I've only read about half of them, but it is my dedication to being a better writer, which I unearthed among these books.

I also found that I take advice (well some of it anyway) very seriously. I have over eleven notebooks filled, or almost filled, and it's all because I read you should always keep a notebook handy. Now I have a notebook or journal for everything, and I love that I can tuck away notes and quotes and book ideas until I'm ready to see them again

Along the lines of being organized, I also realized that I am somewhat binder obsessed. I have seven binders right now, spilling over with too many pages. I have a binder labeled Writing, which houses everything I've ever written from a limerick about pickles written back in seventh grade, all the way up to the latest short story I've finished.

I have a Keep Calm and Write On binder, keeping all of the feedback I've gotten for BOOK ONE. I have one binder with general information, character sketches, notes, and even sections for every book I've planned in the Falling series. There is a binder for poems, short stories, and even other book ideas I'd like to pursue. I have a skinny binder with the pages of my first manuscript, one which shall not be named. And the behemoth of them all is my binder with the research I've done on publishing with practice query letters and feedback from my earliest BETA readers. Somehow, having all of that stored in brightly-colored binders assures me I'm organized, I'm passionate; I am a writer.

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In the Bubble

I can't believe it's taken me so long to write about my time in the "bubble." At the start of January, I began my first residency of graduate school. I traveled through Hercules to New Hampshire's White Mountains and stayed at the Mountain View Grand Resort! The whole experience was wonderful and beautiful and dream-like. I was only gone five days but they were a great way to start off this new year!

I must admit, I was rather nervous to begin, but once there, I found I had nothing to worry about. The low-residency MFA program, which SNHU has created, is more like a community and family of writers than anything else. I felt the love and support of like-minded people the entire time I was gone. I met some really amazing people, took great workshops, and received a wonderful mentor for the next semester. I can't even believe such a magnificent program exists, and that I get to be part of it. For the next few months I will be reworking BOOK ONE of the Falling series to use as my thesis project, reading ten brilliant YA novels, and writing some craft essays, which will help me become the writer I always wanted to be.

I am so thankful to this MFA family for accepting me and astounding me with their feedback, their passion, and most of all: their writing. To be surrounded by so many gifted writers and to hear their beautiful words is something I've always dreamed of finding. I think as writers we all just want to share our words and our stories, and my time in the MFA bubble has given me the opportunity to do just that with people who understand the triumphs and the trials of writing. 

I can't wait to return to the MVG this June, to see all my friends and fellow writers, and to be inspired and encouraged for seven glorious days. Until then, I suppose I'll just have to keep writing.

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The Most Memorable Books of 2013

Below are the thirteen most memorable books I read in 2013, in no particular order of course. There are still many more on my to read list but I guess those will just have to wait until 2014!

1. )Allegiant by Veronica Roth 

Though I have traveled with the characters of this series since it first came out, I'm not sure I could be any more devastated to finish this book. I, however, didn't love this book the way I'd hoped. And not for the reasons you might think. There were moments, which seemed to negate everything Roth worked so hard to build in her other two books. If you're looking for a book to make you feel brave or simply a world to get wrapped up in, I do suggest this series. Even though this is the final book in the trilogy, this doesn't mean Roth is done. Stay tuned for Four , her collection of short stories coming out in 2014, and the Divergent movie making it's big screen debut March 2014! 

2.) The Giver by Lois Lowry 

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Have you ever been asked what your favorite book is and had a difficult time answering? It seems like the typical college question, which I've encountered, and I always start thinking of my top five. Because my favorite is always changing, but the list of absolute favorites usually stays the same. And this is one of the books from that list. So why am I reviewing it under the 2013 books? Well, I reread it again this year, and fell in love with it all over again! Each time I read this book, I take away something new. I remember the first time I read this in eighth grade, thinking it was such a simple story, and yet, it is probably one of the most complicated books I've ever read. If you found your way to this book yet, you need to just that! And if you have, well I'm sure you know what I mean when I say it's amazing. Though this is an older book, they are making it into a film in the future with Jeff Bridges playing the Giver. I guess, until then, I'll just have to keep reminding myself that the book is always better so as not to be too disappointed when I actually see the movie.

3.) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I don't think I can properly assess this book just yet seeing as I'm not quite finished with it. But there's still a few more days in 2013 so it will happen. This is the third book by Gaiman that I've read this year and I've been just as pleased. In fact, I had one of those weird, geeky, my mind has just been blown moments while reading this book. There is a moment when Bod, the protagonist, meets the spirit of a witch named Liza Hempstock, which, if I'd read this first probably would have meant nothing. But because I read The Ocean At The End Of The Lane earlier this summer, I noticed the last name. You see, invisible reader, Gaiman's newest adult novel which debuted this summer is based around a group of witches named Hempstock. So you can see why my mind just couldn't take that connection. It made me start thinking about all of these irrational things about lineage and future stories and endless questions that really had nothing to do with my current reading of The Graveyard Book. Needless to say, I'm taking my time with this one. There is so much to find between these pages, which teaches you about life and love and imagination. It is worth your time to read!

4.) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling 

What can I say about what might be my favorite book series of all time? Certainly, if I don't say this is my favorite book, then I can say Jo Rowling is my favorite author. She gave me a childhood filled with magic and imagination and words and stories; she is the reason I still love words today. But as for this little boy with glasses and a lightning bolt scar, I just want to say thank you. This book and this series taught me about the importance of friendship and love and Harry Potter has been my best friend since third grade, and still is today. So why did this make the most memorable books of 2013? Well, invisible reader, I read this book every year during the holiday season, and every year it makes me feel like a kid again. Thus, I'm more able to enjoy the magic and innocence of Christmas. During this time of year it is easy to get lost in wrapping paper and shopping and the stress that always follows, but Harry always seems to make this season a little less stressful and for that, I'm always thankful.

5.) The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen 

Though this book ended much too soon, I absolutely fell in love! It was one of those books that I bought on a whim, which then sat on my shelf for far too long, and then completely consumed my life while I was reading it. Filled with magic, heartache, love, and loss, this book is one that is truly special to me. For anyone looking for a beautiful world to fall into, I would recommend this 110%. I look forward to reading more books by Allen and to falling madly in love all over again with her characters! There is something really special about an author and a story that can create magic like Allen and The Girl Who Chased The Moon. I can't wait to read this again in 2014!

6.) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman 

As previously mentioned, I loved this book! Gaiman is the master of creating haunting stories, which stay with you long after the book is finished. The Hempstock ladies in this book gave a great example of female power and the importance of family. I've recommended this book to so many of my friends now that I've started to lose count. It's just that good. This book taught me that magic and whimsy combined with darkness is just like real life, and that it's okay to use both when writing. In fact, it's more than okay, it's necessary! If you're craving a good scare or just a fantastical world to escape to, read Gaiman's newest book!

7.) Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss

For the longest time, I'd never really read this entire book. It may seem childish, but I promise Dr. Seuss writes about some pretty life-changing things in this short book. And this year, between graduating and getting into graduate school, I think I needed to read this book. I bought this for my sister this summer as a high school graduation present, but ended up reading it three or four times before I gave it to her. Sometimes we don't need thick tomes about life to help us see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, all we need are a few rhyming words, some colorful pictures, and a guarantee that even when we can't see it, we'll be going places soon!

8.) No One is Here Except All of Us by Ramona Ausubel 

I borrowed this from the best friend, not really knowing what it was about. I started it the same way. But by the time I was done, I realized this was more than just a book. It was a testimony to the importance of words and stories and how they can carry us through even the worst moments of life. The book begins with a character who tells us about her story, but ends with a character who has had to change her story just to survive. It was beautiful and magical and devastating. If I had the chance to reread this, I would. In fact, I loved this book so much that I gave it to one of my own characters to read. And though that sounds crazy, it's not. I love the fact that this cover is not covered in disingenuous promises of greatness. It never boasts that it is wonderful and mesmerizing. It waits until you are waist deep in its words to whisper about how amazing it really is. If you are looking for a fantastic piece of fiction, this is one of them! I'm sure you've noticed that most of the books on this list are young adult fiction because the majority of the books I read are YA. But this book was so good I didn't even notice it wasn't YA.

9.) Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott 

I read this book to do a book "report" for my Writing for the Professions class and ended up loving it more than I thought I would. I've read quite a few books about writing. While those books have been informative, none were nearly as enjoyable as this one. The great thing about this book is that it doesn't simply profess all the things a writer should do. It gives wonderful anecdotes mixed with sage writing advice. And Lamott never says you should take her advice. She just puts it out there for you to take for yourself. There are several techniques I've used from this book that have worked quite well for my daily writing routine, and then there are others which didn't work for me. But that's the amazing thing about writing! It's a unique experience for everyone. So for any of you that are writers out there I recommend the book. And for those of you who aren't writers, this book is great regardless.

10.) Requiem by Lauren Oliver 

I am so sad that I had to give this three stars on Goodreads ( and even that's generous). But I promise it was necessary. The first book in this series, Delirium, was amazing. The second book, Pandemonium, wasn't spectacular but second books rarely are. But most often, the third book in a series is mesmerizing and beautiful and ties up all its loose ends. This, however, was nothing of the sort. I'm not sure if any of you have seen Silver Linings Playbook, specifically the scene where Bradley Cooper throws his book out the window. But that was the same reaction I had to the end of this book. Only I didn't throw it out the window. Instead I woke up the sleeping members of my family on our way home from Myrtle Beach. Though I wouldn't necessarily say you shouldn't read this series, I would caution you to begin the last book with care. It will most likely disappoint you. But for me, it gave an example of what not to do when I finish my series. So even though the end of this book was not amazing, it taught me that endings are just as important as beginnings.

11.) Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares 

Unlike Requiem, Sisterhood Everlasting was a great end to a beloved series. Though this book brought back some of my favorite characters, they were older, and so much had happened since I finished reading Forever in Blue (Book Four). This book was filled with an inescapable sadness, which left me weeping into the wee hours of morning. But that's life I suppose. And though these characters are flawed, they are more real to me than most people I know. If you haven't read The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants series yet, you should. And if you're scared to read the adult versions of your favorite characters you should be. But sometimes, even when we're most scared, life offers us the best experiences. This book was one of those great experiences.

12.) Crash by Lisa McMann 

I read this book pretty early into 2013, and can't wait to read the sequel, Bang, as soon as I have time. Plain and simple, this was a fun read. Lisa McMann is at her best when writing these supernatural books (I fell in love with her Wake series years before) with characters who are flawed, and often don't see themselves as special despite having unusual gifts. And yet, McMann creates characters for readers to care about. I read this book in one sitting, glued to the edge of my seat, and flipping furiously from page to page. If you're looking for a great, suspenseful read, look no further. As the first McMann book I've read since the Wake series finished, I was impressed!

13.) Smoke by Ellen Hopkins 

I have been waiting for this book since I finished it's companion in high school. And I must say, just like Burned, this did not disappoint. Ellen Hopkins has a way of writing about life, which feels real and gritty and flawed and beautiful, all while fitting into the constraints of poetic prose. The book brought me back to my first journey with Pattyn and I felt just as enthralled by this experience as the first time around. I don't think I could have asked for a better way to wrap up a story I have been thinking about for the past several years. Well done, Ellen Hopkins! Well done!

This concludes my reviews of the thirteen most memorable books from 2013! I hope you have found some great new books to discover. I hope you've looked back at the most memorable books you read this year. And if you're not a reader, I hope this post has made you interested in reading. It's truly one of the greatest things life has to offer. I firmly believe it only takes one book to make people life-long readers. And who knows, maybe one of those books is listed here for you!

Positive Thinking

Sometimes all it takes to make things happen is a little positive thinking! After tackling all the items on my list today, I was feeling like I needed to make a plan for my writing for the next two months. Here's the plan:

December--I would like to finish edits on BOOK ONE! I also plan on finishing the last five chapters of BOOK TWO before the New Year. I'm not sure if it's going to happen, but I'm going to try!

January--I plan on doing two read-throughs of BOOK TWO before I start revising. I've spaced the two read-throughs a few weeks apart so I can leave a little time to let everything simmer.

Also during the month of January, I'll be in New Hampshire for my graduate school residency, and other days will be reading days. I think as writers, it is important that we still read. And for myself, I know I need to read, because I love words and paper and ink and falling into the pages of a story.

Looking at what I've planned for the next few months makes me see how much work I still have to do in these books. But it also shows just how far I've come as a writer! Even if I don't meet these deadlines each day, I'm not going to stress. Life happens, and it's these great moments in life, which help me the most as a writer. I can't just ignore them. Lately, however, I've had a difficult time getting everything done. But with my undergrad completed, I feel like I finally have the time to devote to my book and I couldn't be happier!

There are days when it feels like the chapters will never be finished, and that maybe,  no one will ever want to read this book. But then there are days like today, when I know without a doubt that this book is going to be published. I suppose, sometimes, we need to listen to ourselves, and maybe J.M. Barrie, who said:  

"The moment you doubt you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it." 

I don't want to lose my ability to fly, or to write, or to dream. And I think, sometimes, all we need is faith and trust and pixie dust, or so says Peter Pan. Regardless, I'm going to wake up every day and tell myself that I will get published. And then I'm going to have a cup of coffee, sit down, and write.

To Step Foward

Yesterday, I had my last official class at Buffalo State College, and I must admit, leading up to that final class, I couldn't wait to be done! In fact, I just wanted the semester to end as quickly as possible. When I got to school, it had that weird finals week vibe where there is hardly anyone on campus, and those who are seem too preoccupied with finals to even act like human beings. Those of us who have had to endure finals week understand the kind of feral beast, which starts to emerge when papers pile up and final exams erupt left and right. But this semester, I didn't feel any of that. I was just excited to be done.

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I was thrilled when the clock hit 3:30 so I could leave Rockwell Hall, and leave behind my undergrad. Even packing up my bag for the final time felt like no big deal. It was't until I was out in the hall standing with my new fall friends, talking about next semester that I realized what was happening. Someone said, see you later, and I said, I'm graduating. And this sentence felt so weird in my mouth, and then everyone was hugging me, and congratulating me, and I realized I might never see these people again. Now of course we can talk on Facebook, but that doesn't mean we will, and I knew there was something so different about this last day and my last day of high school, but I couldn't figure it out. In fact, it took me until now to discover that difference.

You see, in high school, I'd known people most my life. They saw me go through my awkward phase, and they know every embarrassing thing that'd ever happened. But in college, my peers were people who loved the same things, who accepted the fact that I loved Harry Potter and books and words. To them, I was just a writer, not that weird person who writes. And I knew I would be leaving that behind. I would be leaving those people, but also leaving behind a piece of myself. I changed so much in college, and I knew I would be leaving the pieces of that changed person behind. I knew it as soon as I read the quote below:

"You get a strange feeling when you're about to leave a place, like you'll not only mis the people you love, but you'll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you'll never be this way again."-Azar nafisi

My freshman year of college, I was insecure, afraid to make friends, and unsure of the future. For too long, I'd hid behind books and good grades.

But now, I'm confident in my writing, knowing my words make me unique. My stories are worth telling. I'm not afraid of meeting people and making friends, because I've learned how great people can really be. Of course, I will always have the best friend from high school. He will always have my past and my future, but my college friends have a part of me that I will always cherish.

I'm still unsure of the future, but not in the same way. I'm not scared of it anymore. I just know it will take me where it wants, and I'm okay with that. I still love books, and I still get good grades, but I don't use them to hide.

Next month, I will be starting graduate school, and while I'm somewhat nervous, I know I'm ready. I can't wait to sit down and actually read, to write without the constant homework and papers and tests hanging over my head.

I'm ready to be a writer.

Because that's what I've always been, even when I didn't know it. In college, I was able to find my voice as a writer. I wrote a book and have almost finished the second one and I've written papers and poems and a plethora of short stories. In college, I was able to really call myself a writer, to accept that my words were important; they will always be important.

So now that I'm officially done, I realize how much I've changed, and I couldn't be happier nor, more excited for the future. But I know I will never be this person again. Things will change a second from now and a day from now, a month and a year from now, and I just hope I remember this person I am, because I think she's pretty great! I hope I remember how this little story started and how it's grown while I work toward getting published because I really want to share it with you, invisible reader. And I hope someday I can meet you and talk to you about books and the future and words and even what it's like to graduate.

All best,Kayla King.png

The Process of Revision

For the past three months, I have been revising and editing BOOK ONE with the two  amazing peers in room 309 of Ketchum Hall. Our time together is almost done, and so, too, are the changes I've made. Before this whole process, I thought my book was finished, but this experience has taught me the benefits of a writer community when it comes to both revision and editing.

You see, invisible reader, sometimes being a writer is solitary. Sometimes it's lonely, and somewhat painful. But it's also wonderful and exhilarating and rewarding and filled with   characters created from the writer's own imagination! But getting to work and revise with fellow writers is something, which makes this whole process of bettering a manuscript more enjoyable.

I'm sure you've noticed that updates about the progress of BOOK TWO have somewhat stalled for the last few months. But fear not. I haven't given up on this sequel! On the contrary, I've learned that trying to work on revisions for one book while writing the next installment at the same time is just too much.

So what's to come in this new year?

To begin, I will attend my first winter residency of graduate school where I will be able to share this book with another writing community, and hopefully I will be able to make this book the best it can be!

I think it's true when people say you shouldn't rush your first book. It needs time to be revised again and again and again. That's just part of the life of a writer. But even amidst these revisions, the future is bright and exiting! All that's left is to tell myself there is something divine found in the act of this process, and that no matter what, I have a story I believe in. After all, at the end of the day, that's the best a writer can hope for. 

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Oh, The Places I'll Go

After much debate, I've decided I needed to share my exciting news here since it is very much wrapped up in the future of my book. I recently received my acceptance letter to the MFA Fiction program through Southern New Hampshire University!

I will begin my first residency in New Hampshire this coming January, and I can't wait to continue my journey as a writer, and maybe share that experience here!

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This program caters to the development and publication of a writer's first manuscript, and I know taking the Falling series to the mountains of New Hampshire will take me to the life I've always imagined; I'm on my way to a place, which will help lead me toward my dream of publication. 

I can't wait to share my book with other writers and people in the literary world. I think as writers we continue to create work so that others can read our words and stories, our thoughts and ideas. And knowing there will be a place of like-minded people has this acceptance feeling even better! 

Help From a Little Genius

The following is the result of my discussion with my little genius. As previously mentioned, I am a visual learner, and as such, I figured it was about time to break in the new house and fill both of my closets with pictures and post-its. They are, after all, the perfect thing to get those creative juices flowing.

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Why on the inside of the closet? Well for starters I don't even have room for a desk, and second, my senior year of high school, I took AP Ceramics where I had a cupboard all to myself to store my projects, and I covered the inside with pictures, which inspired me. For some reason, I was thinking about that yesterday, and it seemed a good idea to try here.

The smaller closet door is covered in pictures from my trip to England back in 2010, including the Bridge of Sighs in Oxford, which I've been thinking about a great deal as of late (fun fact: it's pictured above!). I like the idea of bridges, and hope looking at this bridge every day will help me cross into more creativity. Among other things that happened yesterday, I also changed the course of the last five chapters of BOOK TWO, because I saw a great scene in my head while in the shower, which is where I usually get the best ideas. But I digress. I chose pictures from England because they are both beautiful, and they remind me of a time when I felt brave, and free, and inspired; all things needed to write.

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The larger closet door has the origin story behind this series, as well as maps, and the entire timeline from start to finish with dates and events spanning the frame of the door. Every time I open one of these doors it reminds me how much I love this series, how obsessed I am with creating this world, and how much I love writing. I think those are pretty great things to be reminded of every day.

Hopefully this will inspire me. And maybe this is just the motivation I need to finish BOOK TWO, and complete revisions for BOOK ONE. I guess it's true that a writer's work is never finished, because even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. This series is on my mind 24/7, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

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Eat. Pray. Write.

Yesterday I found myself unexpectedly out of my Literary Publishing class, and I watched Elizabeth Gilbert's Ted Talk. The wonderful author of Eat, Pray, Love, discussed writing, and instead of calling herself a genius, she talked about how we, as writers, can talk to an entity outside of ourselves, a little genius who shows up to help us write those words, which we may have a hard time writing.

The way she explained it, in order to stay sane, one must talk to their outer "Dobby," and ask for help. After watching this video, that is exactly what I did. I talked to Dobby, and asked for help. 30 minutes later, in the shower, I got a rush of ideas. I'm not sure whether or not I cleared my mind enough that way, or if a little genius heard my plea, and was sending great ideas my way. Ancient civilizations didn't think it was so crazy, and neither does Elizabeth Gilbert. So I think I'm just going to thank my "Dobby", my little genius, and ask for help more often.

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Conquering Writer's Block

Finally conquering what seems like the longest bout of writer's block has brought me here. I finished the long-awaited Chapter 22, a chapter I have been waiting to write since I got the idea almost two years ago. With this chapter done, I only have five more, plus the Epilogue before BOOK TWO in this series is completed. Notice I said completed and not finished. There will still be many rounds of revisions and edits before BOOK TWO is actually done. But for now, I'm thrilled that I finally finished this chapter!

How did I do it?

Well I stopped over thinking the chapter and the process of writing a chapter. I just sat down, and worked. I wrote word by word without thinking about how it was all going to come together. And almost miraculously, it did come together. I found this really great spot on the Buffalo State College campus and wrote any chance I got and a week later, the chapter was done!

Between finding this place beneath almost-autumnal leaves, and listening nonstop to The Civil Wars, I worked through whatever subconscious roadblock was keeping me from continuing down this road to the end of BOOK TWO. I think writer's block is as simple as tearing down the walls that you, yourself have built in order to keep moving forward. It's as simple as figuring out what tools help you. Tear down those walls. Work on those words. And write.

I mean that's how this whole thing started. It started because I loved to write, because I felt compelled to write this story. And now, all these years and drafts and characters later, I feel like I need to remember how it all started so I can keep heading towards the next part of my journey.

After all, if we're not moving forward, we're stuck. Because we can't go back, and I'm not sure I would want to go back; to the beginning, to a time when no one knew I was writing these books. Because I would lose these people who have given me more support than I ever dreamed. And it is through them that I find the courage to keep working on this series.

These books started for me, and they will end with me. But along the way, I hope to share this with the world, word by word, chapter by chapter, and book by book.

All best,Kayla King.png

Writer's Block

I didn't think I would ever have to utter those two horrible words here, but it seems I am suffering through a bout of writer's block. It's almost as painful to write those words as it is to think about them. I'm sure many of you disagree with this ailment considering I am writing these words here, which must mean I'm fine, right?

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But alas dear, invisible reader, it seems I have been able to write everything else as of late with the exception of Chapter 22 in BOOK TWO. I'm not sure why I am struggling so much.

You see, this chapter should be the easiest thing in the world for me to write. I have been waiting to write this scene since I planned it out a year and a half ago, but now that it's here I can't get past this big blank wall that seems to be standing in my way.

So how am I going to fix it?

Well, for starters, I'm writing here in hopes that I will get some creative juices flowing, or at least trick this blank wall in my head into disappearing for a little bit. I think I've been so busy planning these last few chapters lately that I haven't left room for any of the magic that happens when letters become words and words become sentences and sentences become paragraphs, which eventually become chapters in a story.

Instead, I've broken everything down so methodically that I don't think I've left room for this magic. This person I've become the last few weeks doesn't even feel like me anymore. Sure I usually plan and organize and think about what it is going to happen. But I also let my imagination take over and change things; making them better than I ever could've planned for. I think I've gotten myself into a case of trying too hard when I just need to let the words and ideas flow naturally. 


Since I've found the problem I think I am going to prescribe some Ben and Jerry's Phish Food ice cream, "Dust to Dust" by The Civil Wars on repeat, and some much needed time to let my creative stream flow without man-made prodding or interruption. I hope I can tear down the walls of my writer's block, and continue moving forward.

And in thinking about all of this, I can't help thinking about a book I just read, which deserves some mention here. I finally finished The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman, and I must say I am still thoroughly lost in the world he created. I remember Amy Hempel, a spectacular author, beginning her reading in NYC by sharing something she wished she'd written, and this new work Gaiman has given to the world is something  I wish I could've created. But alas, that story was not meant to find me. I was meant to find a different story, one which haunts me during the day and night, in the shower and the car and in class and at work. And this is the story I am determined to finish before summer. So I'll leave here with a quote from Neil Gaiman:
 

"Words save our lives, sometimes."

All best,Kayla King.png

Dear You

For the most part, the only writing I've ever talked about here has been about my Falling Series. While this consumes most of my writing energy, there are other projects I am working on simultaneously. This is one of them.

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I started this letter-writing project in October of 2010, and I just finished it. For now, it is something few have seen, and even fewer have heard me talk about.  It exists only between the covers of this journal, safely tucked away on my bookshelf.

In the beginning, I never thought I would show or tell anyone. But my family became curious, and soon I shared it with them. Then the best friend found out by accident, and I finally had enough gumption to tell my roommate in New York City when she saw me woking on it. I never thought I would actually finish these Dear You letters, but I have, and it feels amazing, and satisfying. But now, it seems like a part of me is missing. It's only been an hour since I wrote the last letter, and it already feels like I can never go back to those pages.

This is insane, because of course I can go back. Right now, however, it doesn't feel possible. Though this project is complete, I am hoping I can keep writing and working through this idea I got on a stormy fall night, and turn it into something that others will want to read.

I must admit, I have some qualms about ever really showing the things I've written here to the public. But I read somewhere recently that if the things you write embarrass you, or are things, which remain too close to your secret heart, then those are the things with the most impact.

Though I'm not entirely ready to say too much more about this burgeoning project with any of you invisible readers out there, I do want to preserve this feeling of loss that has eclipsed my joy over finishing this. Such is another part of being a writer that I never knew about. It seems I am discovering something new about myself and my writing with each project I work on, and that is something worth sharing.

So if you get to actually find this in a bookstore someday, and you've taken it between your hands to read, I know you might have many questions. Which is really great. Questions are things, which keep me up at night. Questions give me the stamina to continue writing when it seems I'm about to delete everything I've worked on.

And if you're reading these letters I've addressed as Dear You, and you're wondering, who me? I want you to know I started this for me, but finished it for my sister, and my mom, and the best friend, and you, my invisible reader. I hope these words find you some day, and I hope they give you the same strength they've given me the past three years.

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