Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hey, I'm alive

It's been said, on the college campus that I currently call my home, that Thanksgiving is the time in which couples break up. Where old habits are broken. Where things change. I would like to tell you that means I will remember to blog and break the habit in which I suck at life, but that's probably too optimistic. So, um, here, have a cat.
You're welcome.
Anyway. Hi. It's been literally months since I've posted on this, and I expect that the readers of this blog are far away. Someday they come back, though, so hi. Yeah. Anyway. Um. Updates?
College has begun for me, and that explains my blogging hiatus. I am attending a large, large university and I am caught up in the world of text books, papers, and until recently, politics. I have read Don Quixote, Faust, Frankenstein, The Book Thief, part of Casual Vacancy (more on that at another time), a book about gay men in suburban bars, a novel on the importance of yoga, a couple horrible philosophers, a lot about politics, a lot about North Korea, and spent way too little time sleeping. There have been countless amazing lectures, several very cool concerts, and, oh, right, no sleep. None. It's quite rude of college, and quite needy, and I'm ready to flick it on the nose and give it a talking to.
I guess it makes for a lot of stories, though, and the best part of college? It's fun and it's crazy and it's reminding me that I like to write, that writing keeps me calm and that it's able to fit in even in the most random moments. (Like, um, when I should be paying attention in Sociology.) (But really, there's not much need for that, right?)
I essentially just posted this to remind myself that I have a blog and should remember to write. I have a job set up next year as a writing tutor. I plan on applying for Alpha again this year, and I have a five week Christmas break that might as well be Nano-Wri-Mo for the bored college student.
Happy Giving of Thanks, dears!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Wonderful World of Made Up Worlds

I have such a talent for post titles. Truly. You should all bow down to my awesome skillz. Or not. Hi. You're pretty. I really like your nose. And your teeth. 
 I went out to lunch the other day with my wonderful librarian (Also known as Green Bean Teen Queen)  and Maggie. We talked about a bunch of things, many of them deliciously centered in the book world, and one of those things happened to be trends. Trends fascinate me. There is no new story; that's an old adage. Trends, however, take whatever new aspects we might see in a genre and push them into the market. Recently, we've seen the Twilight craze of Paranormal:
And even more recently, we've seen the Dystopian trend explode due to this wonderful book:
Most recently, though, a new trend has started. A new book is coming out that looks absolutely fantastic called A Throne of Glass, and it's not alone in the market. All of a sudden, fantasy novels are back in style. My guess? Game of Thrones has changed the game again. The book is now a hit show, and America -- and for that matter, a lot of the world -- is enthralled.
I'm amused. Fantasy has always been one of my favorite genres. I grew up on Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, and most of all, Tamora Pierce. Harry Potter was set in a fantasy world, and those aspects were always some of my favorites; Lord of the Rings is your classic fantasy novel, yet we haven't seen the trend too recently in YA. Still, there are some fantastic fantasy novels in the past five years, and if you're looking for something while waiting for the next George RR Martin, I suggest these:
General Winston's Daughter is fantastic. It is one of the most realistic worlds that I've ever encountered, with breathing characters and a beautifully crafted social structure. 
Enchanted and Entwined are both smart, well done fairy tale mashups set in fantasy worlds. They're both clever and bright reads, without being difficult worlds or random story lines to sift through.
There are these as well:
All of these are relatively recent fantasy novels, all intricately built and easy to read. If you're waiting for fantasy novels after finishing Game of Thrones, there are plenty of books out there to look to now. And if you haven't already, seriously, dude. Read Tamora Pierce.  (But of course you have. Why wouldn't you have? You're much too smart to have never read Tamora Pierce.)
Anyway. More later!

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I talk a lot about debate on this blog. It's funny, and kind of random, because this blog was born out of my love for books. That love hasn't changed in the past four years, but something else did -- me. It isn't from writing, though, that I've become different. The part of me that loves books and words will always be there. The part that got good at using those words, though, came from debate.
That actually has very little to do with anything, but it makes me laugh.
I graduated high school in May. It wasn't a particularly stunning event, honestly. Nothing felt any different. I was sad to leave my friends, and it's odd to think about going to college and waking up on my own, working on my own, but none of those things are the most troubling aspects of leaving school. No -- for me, it was leaving the debate room.
Yep. I'm a nerd. It's not disputed. (But come on, dudes, this is a literary blog. Do you expect much different?)
That's me. Yep.
Here's the thing, though.
I started high school shy. No, seriously. I was relatively quiet. I was political, but didn't like voicing it. I was very, very insecure. I was, however, still incredibly competitive. I planned on only two years of debate, taken with the purpose of securing a good college. Funny thing was, by my junior year, my grades were often slipping, because I was too busy with this:
I filled binders with literally hundreds of pages of research each month. I learned how to speak. I choked on nerves. My sophomore year, I barely did anything in terms of debate at all -- I couldn't get past those stupid, idiotic nerves. And then, toward the end of the year, my coach did something totally and utterly horrendous. He made me get up in front of my class, in front of kids that honestly, kind of scared me, and I started a speech. I say started because seriously, that's what it is. I never finished that dang speech. Instead, I started it 22 times.
No. Seriously. 22 times. I was cut off with 'Speak slower' and 'Sound calmer' and 'Sam, chill out' 22 times. I left school basically in tears like the pathetic and emotional kid that I was and then I ranted a lot about my coach to my friends with calm vigor and newfound respect for my coach.
Or...I might have acted like this for several weeks toward him.
Then came Junior year. I've talked about that a lot on this blog. I don't really know why, except  for this: for me, Junior year was my turning point. It was when I attended Alpha. It was when I first experienced the hell of high school drama first hand, first went through that stupid melodramatic thing sad first heart break that everyone has to experience, and when I first won a varsity tournament. It was the first time I qualified to Nationals. It was when I became a National semi-finalist in a supplemental debate.
And then my senior year. 
There's not as much on this blog about my last year of high school. In large part, that's because it passed so quickly. I've been wanting to write this post for some time, but it needed to wait until now. I want to talk about winning.
I am incredibly competitive. I said that earlier. It's a problem. I don't have the grace to apply that to sports, but it does apply to academics, and with debate, I found something that I was good at. Beyond that, though, I found something that if I truly worked at, I could make myself better. And I did: I brought home a lot of first place trophies this year. It got to the point where I was incredibly cocky. Like, beyond words kind of cocky. The kind I was ashamed to admit to and yet didn't really understand just how bad it was.
And then I lost.
But I didn't lose something small. I lost Districts. I lost the bid to Nationals, and the bid to State. I was someone who was slated to very possibly win State in my event ...  and then I didn't qualify.
It was -- quite bad. I made Maggie  pick me up and deal with my emotional breakdown  calm confusion. It wasn't just that I had lost -- it was that I had lost something that I had poured my heart into, that I had built my world around, that I had assumed was mine already. 
Sound familiar?
A lot of writers, I think, feel that way. To finish a novel, you have to break off a piece of your soul and press it into the pages. When that still isn't enough, when you still can't get published, when people still don't take notice, it is heart breaking.
But that isn't the point of this never ending post.
I still qualified to Nationals. I qualified in something called Public Forum debate. Puf, as we call it. Puf has always been the event I liked more, but it was not the one I won as often. At semester, I switched debate partners and ended up debating with one of my close friends. We made it together to Nationals. Even so, it hurt so horribly to give up the event that had been my baby. The thing I had loved, that I had poured so much of myself into.
Debate Nationals for high school, 2012, this year came in the form of Indianapolis. I attended, along with about 250 other teams. The best teams in the country. Many of them were private school. Many of them had much, much more money and resources than us, and they were quite happy to tell us about that.
Right. Here's the thing, and finally, the elusive point.
Two weeks ago, I ended up coming home with one of these.

I ended my high school career walking off the National stage with a very large trophy and a significant scholarship. I ended up placing very, very high, higher than I ever could have imagined and higher than anyone from my school ever has. My coach ends his career with that behind him, and my new coach, the assistant that I loved all year, saw his first Nationals end with my partner and I walking off that stage. Someone on my team had also done exponentially well, and as such, our little public school did better than anyone could have imagined. 
I spent my last four years enveloped in debate. I learned to speak. I learned to research. I learned to be part of a team. I learned to dress, walk, and talk as if I have confidence, even when I don't. And even though I lost -- I lost so badly, even as recently as this year -- I ended up winning more than I ever, ever could have hoped for. I walked off stage with someone that I love and trust, I left a team that I honestly think I might have helped make better, and I left better. I left different.
So. Back to writing.
Sometimes you lose.
Not even that. Often, you will lose. Ask anyone that writes. Hell, ask me: I entered my last year of high school pleased and confident after leaving Alpha, and ending up often hating writing for reasons that have nothing to do with recreational habits and everything to do with some poor choices in a class room. 
You can win. You will win. Sometimes, when it seems as if everything is done, it really hasn't even started yet. Just keep working. Yeah, I know. None of this is shocking or new. But it is something I have always believed in, and I am so, so glad to have seen it proven to myself not just once or twice in the past years, but time and time again. My life has bled high lighter ink and statistics and quotes, and it's hard as anything I've ever done to leave it all behind. But moving on is moving forward. Debate is over, but I still have writing, and I still have everything I learned. That is priceless.

More later. Someday, maybe I'll even go back to putting up legit book stuff, like reviews! (Or more likely, a spiel about Game of Thrones.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Zombies Are Coming

Look, guys! Two posts in one week! I'm so awesome. Obviously. (Don't leave! No, come back!)
All right, fine. I'm not. Two posts in one month. I'm beating my record. Remember when I used to post like, ten times a month? Yeah. Me either.
Originally, this post was written last month, but I never published it, because I was writing it at school and the computer hated me. However, I like Zombies. So. I am posting this now. Ignore the time discrepancies and enjoy the creepy dead things loveliness that is my Zombie-tastic musings.
And if that isn't enough...
Here. Have a Zac Efron. No charge.
Anyway again.
I'm in the final days of senior year, now, which means that school consists of basically nothing. No, seriously. I read a 500 page book between yesterday and today without ever opening it outside of the school building. We watched a movie in one class. Oh, and my debate partner cracked his head open on the ceiling trying to jump off a chair. 
...No. I'm not kidding. Ten staples and two stitches in his head. Lots of blood. There also may or may not be ten or twelve posts on Facebook about how I threw a tomahawk at him and that's how he ended up in the hospital.

Yeah, baby, we're going to Nationals.
Anyway. We're currently living in a world of boredom, and that does very bad things when combined with a bunch of hyperactive teenagers. For me, I play on tumblr a lot spend the time contemplating the known universe and everything within it. My friends, though, have found something even more interesting.
They've found the zombie apocalypse.
No, I'm not kidding. The entire debate team has, in the past week, discussed the coming zombie doom more than we've discussed anything that actually has to do with, you know, debate. Maggie starts quite a bit of it, and is assisting in writing a screen play.
...No, again, I'm not kidding. Why do you keep laughing at me? It's quite rude of you. 
The Zombies are coming, apparently, and none of us are getting out alive. Normally, I would be pertrubed. In the team of Zombies versus Unicorns, I am totally on the sides of the sparkles. But, that said, I'm fascinated. A fantastical element of society, implemented into common conversation? Me gusta. It's like we nerds are taking over the world.
One thing that the writing world is quite interesting in comes in the form of nerd power. Being intelligent -- being showy about being geeky -- isn't really something that's embraced in high school. Shocking, right? But in the writing world? At Alpha? Random knowledge is something to be proud of. It's something that is hard won, and eventually, something that makes life interesting. For years, I've collected random bits of information. We all do. For me, I know about 17th century navies and pirates, and Norse mythology, and the history of redheads, and a lot of random political theory. For Maggie, there is a multitude of things -- music, philosophy of dreams -- but specifically, a lot of random strangeness about zombies. And it's cool to me to watch a group of friends reveal their secret geekiness in something as strange as creepy dead things  unique as zombies. It's like the writing world come to life.
Random knowledge, yo. Do you have any that you'd like to share? Feel free to speak. Or type. I mean, you can speak too, but that might be weird. And I probably won't hear you. By all means, though, go right ahead. I'll be off avoiding my friends, their tomahawks, and their elaborate plans for my zombie-tastic death.
More later.
Unless I'm undead.
Then probably not, because my fingers shall not be able to type.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

All Grown Up, and Nowhere To Go?

Hello, darlings!
Guess what? In the past two weeks, a lot of things have happened. Yes? Yes. I'm a horrible blogger this year, so let me update some. Now:
I am a high school graduate.
And I'm eighteen (and watching a ton of Disney.)
I've attended Senior Prom (and, um, left early to go camping with my friends.)
And I wore a (totally hideous) cap and gown.
I have a diploma (even though I wasn't technically supposed to get it until after I'm back from debate Nationals.)
And somehow...
I feel totally the same.
YA is interesting. Books are made out of moments. The sad ones, the happy ones, the ones that have you laughing until you can't breathe, or crying until your eyes ache. What we put into pages -- what we take out of pages -- comes from life. In the last two weeks, a lot of life, at least by societal standards, has been shoved into my lap. It's rather odd, actually.
I mean -- I never really doubted that, if possible by health and wealth, I would graduate high school. It's a luxury I've been allowed in my life to know that was a signpost I would obtain. It's something that I shouldn't take for granted, but definitely have. Through the stress and drama of high school, this was basically the mantra:
It was a basic one. An easy one. But when I look at books, and movies, and just stories in general, it feels like it should have been a bigger moment. It's the same with turning 18. I mean -- whoa. I'm an adult. (Haha. That's a joke. Right?) It doesn't feel any different. This is still one of my favorite movies. 
I still like sparkles on my nails. Nothing has changed.But now people automatically take you a little bit more seriously when you say your age. You get jobs easier. In some countries, you can drink. But that moment wasn't any different from any other birthday. Senior prom was just another dance. Wearing my graduation robe was kind of just like wearing a superman cape, and my diploma just seems like a sheet of paper.
I guess the moments we put into books really aren't moments at all. It's odd, and much too musing of me, but I think the interesting part comes from the culmination of time. Maybe graduation was meh, but high school? I was lucky; I enjoyed every year. I joined debate. I made friends. I did decently well in figuring out my goals in writing and making strides to someday achieving those goals. I became me: I talk too much, care too much about politics, take too many pictures, and wear too much sparkly nail polish, but that is, indeed, me. Someday, those parts of me will make my writing better. The paper that means a diploma doesn't represent a ceremony of graduation; it represents four years of laughing and changing and crying and becoming who I am. 
I don't know. I don't feel different; I'm not. Those moments didn't change anything about who I am, but they do represent the changes that have happened. It's growing up, I suppose. 
How marvelously strange, and how scarily interesting.
More later, with more substance. I just wanted to update. Also, post pictures of Disney. Because why not?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Characters: Those people things

I have a confession.
I'm weird.
Yeah, yeah. I know. Most of us are. Actually, we all are. We -- especially we book types -- come in odd forms. We like locking ourselves in rooms alone with dead trees and pretending the rest of the world doesn't exist. We sit at our computers and lose ourselves in worlds that only we can see. We collect intangible words and hold them close. It's a characteristic of people who love books. And why?
Every group of people has that. Has that set of things that makes them different. Some of us like words. Some of us enjoy cooking. Some freaks lovely individuals like spending their time getting sweaty and disgusting  working out. That's what makes life -- and books -- interesting. High lighting the differences.
Even better, though, is the weird stuff.
Some of it doesn't translate well to books because it's just too odd. I, for instance, live in the debate group. The mix consists of about fifty people -- seriously, our prom group numbers 30 -- but you can narrow it down to ten or fifteen of my particular 'people'. We go camping in back yards because we're too lazy to go further, but we like the out doors. We make a lot of mix cds and we go to a lot of movies and the boys play a lot of Frisbee. We're known in the school as the debate kids, and known by the characteristic of being snarky, cynical, and competitive.We spend too much time at the local Sonic, drinking way too much soda. (Except we gave soda up for prom. You don't know how much that hurt.) (I miss cranberry coke desperately.)
All of those things are part of our group. Those translate as our characters. But there are little things that probably wouldn't make much sense in a book. Time at tournaments has made us lose our personal space. It isn't uncommon for people to randomly bite someone else on the shoulder or wrist -- and by bite, I really do mean bite (I know, it really is weird). We joke to the point of meanness and get in trouble for talking a lot. (I am a senior, dangit, and still having my seat moved by my teachers. It's incredibly obnoxious.) (But then, I guess I am too.) Those things don't really translate as well. If I were writing a book and using us as characters, those little things wouldn't make sense to put in. 
It's interesting to me. I've been reading a lot lately -- I took a class called Appreciation of Literature this semester and all it consists of is reading and reviewing books -- and the difference between strong and weak characters comes in the details. I have the bad habit of looking at my friends and thinking of them in terms of a character. One of my best friends has bright hair and a bright laugh; another will either end up an incredibly successful engineer or a freaking crazy mob boss. It's fascinating to wonder about authors and their characters. Even if we don't mean to, I think we pull from our friends. Things that are said, jokes that are made. Nervous habits. I was reading something I wrote for Alpha last year and noticed just how many of my characters ran hands through their hair, or twisting their hair, or pulling at it, when they were upset or thinking or nervous. When I watch my friends, I see the same movement. It's a stress thing, I think, and in debate, that's one of the few nervous ticks you'll see demonstrated time and time again in hallways. 
The other most recent notice of good characters comes by Hunger Games. Even in the movie, the characters has things about them that make them breathe. When watching the movie, you can ignore everything else and realize just how freaking adorable Josh Hutcherson is see Peeta or Cinna or Rue or Haymitch and realize just how good Suzanne Collins' characters are.
I don't know. It's interesting to think about.
Anyway. More later. And for now, go watch Hunger Games.
(Seriously, now. Why haven't you already?)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

And So the Games Go

Hello, darlings!
Debate is officially done for the season, and my senior year is now winding down. I am a two time national qualifier, I am accepted into college, and I have now gone a month without drinking soda. And now that I have informed you of my recent (and obviously very impressive) accomplishments, I can move on to the more fascinating parts of life!

Have you seen it? (Why haven't you? Seriously. Go, now.) (Seriously. Look at this.)
I love the Hunger Games with a vaguely unhealthy passion. They are some of my favorite books, and Catching Fire is probably one of my top three. In an abnormal fashion, the movie ended up exceeding my expectations. 
(Granted, that might be in large part due to the fact that Josh Hutcherson is incredibly cute.)
Seriously, though. The special effects were really good. The script kept close to the book, and I found the filming style interesting. I really like Jennifer Lawrence and the soundtrack has a great song from Maroon Five. Plus, there's this:
For now, that's basically it. In the meanwhile, listen to this!

More later!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Alpha, guys. Get out your applications.

My love for Tamora Pierce is well documented. She's one of my idols; without her books, I never would have dove so vicariously into writing. Without her characters, I don't think I ever would have understood so much about feminism, friendship, or love. My freshman year of high school, I was able to exchange several messages with her via YA for Obama; it was a time when writing had gone to the wayside, and that correspondence brought me back to the world I loved. A year passed. Inkpop happened. I got into debate. I figured out my hair and learned how to give myself a really good manicure. Basically, life happened.
Then, late March of my sophomore year of high school, my mother came up to me and told me about a camp in which Tamora Pierce took part as a mentor. That camp was -- and is -- called Alpha. She'd seen mention of it on John Scalzi's blog. Immediately, I went to the site -- 
and they had already closed admissions.

It looked like heaven. It was a writing camp, a selective and international writing camp, that's held in Pittsburgh. It's based primarily on short stories, but the camp goes over everything. World building. Characters. Feminism, racism, religion. It's like heaven, except with much less sleep and way more junk food, and the wings we talked about were just as often made of metal or scales as they were of feathers. Ahem.

Life happened again. I bookmarked the page. Months passed. January of last year rolled around, and I realized that soon, I could apply to Alpha. I wrote a short story. I promptly deleted that short story. I wrote it again. I pulled out my hair, cried and ate ice cream maturely realized that it was horrible, that this was a normal growing experience, and so tarted anew. I was closing in on the deadline. I wrote yet another short story, frantically forced Maggie to edit and read it, and rewrote again. I'd never written short stories. It was jarring, weird, and unpleasant to force myself to do something new, but at the end, I had a decent twelve pages of -- ahem -- a story in which a genetically altered teenager ended up on an alien planet and then sided with the aliens. (Shut up. I like genetically altered rebels, okay?) (For those of you who don't get it, this was the story that won Inkpop:
...Yeah, yeah.)
But. I applied. I waited. And then I got in. In July of 2011, I attended Alpha.
I don't have words for how glad I am that I did.
The people are amazing. The help is divine. The mentors -- Tamora Pierce! -- are so, so helpful. It's funny and really, really worth it. I can't express in enough words what a great time it was. A published horror author -- Scott Johnson -- told us stories in a grave yard. We played Oregon Trail and discussed philosophy. We read really bad stories out loud, gossiped about authors, and made towers out of waffles and brownies. We sang Disney songs and waged paper airplane wars. There's writing advice and signed books and publication discussions. It's the most real writing has ever felt for me. I've always loved it, but being around people that loved it just as much was eye opening and truly wonderful.

The video before was made by the lovely Lale and shows just a little bit of Alpha as it was last year. (The man in the starting clip is Robert Sawyer,) (The chick with the messy and heavily chlorinated hair in the corner of the screen would be yours truly.)

Anyway. If you can, I suggest you apply. I plan on it. Check out the page. It's worth your time. If you have any questions, I'll gladly answer them.

It's worth it, guys. I have pictures with the person that made me want to write. I have friends from all over the country, and even from across the world. I learned about writing and so much more, and I suggest heavily that you check it out.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

In Which Sam Gets Deep

I started this blog when I was in sophomore year of high school. At that point in time, writing was my life -- and don't worry, it still is. I live, breathe, and sometimes dream of words. (When I'm not dreaming of Prince Charming, from Once Upon A Time.)

Seriously. How hot.
Anyway. Words. (That aren't -yummmm-)
I collect them, not just on my sagging bookshelf, but in a binder on my desk that drips my favorite quotes, and pasted on my bed room door, and even one that's framed in my bathroom. No matter what happens to me in the next year, or in the next five years, as long as I'm breathing, I'll be hunting for words, strung together in sentences, or sometimes just alone -- the cynical kind, the beautiful kind, the kind that make you think, or just the kind that make my twisted sense of humor happy.
For instance, this word. One of my favorites. 
But since sophomore year, a lot about my life has changed.
In March of 2010, I won with a story called Altered. I got an interview from editors that changed my life. Now, at 17, I can honestly say that. (Yeah, guys, I'm old and wise and junk. Yeppppp.) I wrote the essay for the Common App about Inkpop, and the validation that it gave me. Altered was and is my baby. I queried too fast after finishing it; by the time I figured out the patterns of plot and such, I'd already done too much. And so, I closed Altered off, and went about life -- still collecting words, still writing, still anxiously eyeing my sagging bookshelf and wondering how long it would be before it totally collapsed.
Then last year came, and something shifted. I ended up dating my best guy friend, and it ended in a catastrophic way that will someday be immortalized in a novel. I went through the typical signs of teenage drama, but somehow a little bit escalated; for instance, for reasons that I'd rather not go into, the entire grade-- or at least my entire English class, plus the entire debate team, and for that matter, the choir -- felt the need to get involved, or at least have a very, very vocal opinion. Suddenly, words were more than just pretty things I collected. They were my refuge.
This actually has very little to do with the post. I typed in refuge, and this came up, and I find it incredibly cool.
Writing took a hit, though, last year, for two reasons. The first was The Messy Mess of Boydom; all my writing was cathartic, therapeutic collections of memories that I refused to forget, or even let fade. (I'm weird that way.) The second was debate. November of my Junior year, something happened. I started winning. I started winning a lot, and as cocky I feel saying that (Like, OH LOOK AT MEEEEE, I GET THE SHINIES) it is actually true. I've always loved debate, but when I switched to varsity sophomore year, I got my butt kicked; winning, however, took more time and more work to keep up, and so writing went away as my collected words came from political philosophy and the New York Times. But, by the end of March, I had this:
and by the end of June, I was ranked as a National Semi-Finalist in Parliamentary debate. For that, I can blame my addictions to words. Reading and writing so much has taught me to speak well, even on the spot, and Parliament is fast -- you need to be able to think quickly and then be able to convey those thoughts in the span of two minutes. 
By July, writing came back, though. In July, I went to Alpha. It's a selective speculative writing camp held in Pittsburgh; I wanted to go because Tamora Pierce taught there, and Tamora Pierce is one of my idols. Alpha didn't just introduce to me to incredibly cool people -- such as Lale  or Gretchen -- but it reminded me of why I loved writing, and how much fun it can be to just sit and play around with stories. 
(I mentioned this to my mother the other day: my preferred way of spending time, when not with friends or working on debate, is to sit in the dark and mess with make-believe characters. This puts into a strange, strange perspective.) (But generally I'm burning nice smelling candles ... So it's okay, right?)
They're still the happy smells!
But anyway. Coming to the end of this heinously long post:
It's now my senior year of high school. Since Altered, I've started half a dozen stories, gotten about 30k in, and switched to something else. I'm finally playing with something new that I think will last longer, but at the same time, I'm learning to balance. I've applied to colleges -- several very selective, and one that already has offered scholarship and sent a Christmas card hand signed by the Dean of Admissions.(He has a pretty signature.) I've won five first place trophies this semester, and a couple of slightly less impressive ones -- but ones that would have thrilled me two years ago. I'll probably apply for Alpha again this year; I hold the title of Debate Mom on my team, even though the team is huge, as well as 'The scary redhead' from other schools that I compete against. (It's an oddly flattering nickname. Granted, others are not so nice.) (They're jealous of the Gingers.) (It started a long, long time ago.) (See?)
An original scary redhead. Mwahaha.

Life is balanced and happy, and I'm looking forward to 2012. I've read three books so far within this year -- if rereading Scorpio Races counts -- and still am managing everything else. Two years ago, when I started this blog, I don't know that I could have expected my life right now. It's a lot more full than it used to be -- but it's also a lot more fun. And someday, maybe even someday soon? The words I've collected will change into words that I've made.
I mean, that is assuming that the world doesn't end and everything next December.
But until then, high school is speeding up as it comes to an end. It isn't as scary as it used to be, either.
More later, guys. Promise, it won't be so much pontificating! 
Until then:

Go watch Once Upon A Time. Seriously. Get past the first episode of cheesiness. It's worth it. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And here comes the New Year

So, today is the first day of the New Year. In 2012, I graduate high school, and the world is supposed to end. I'm not sure which one scares me more. Currently, probably high school, because I've yet to settle on a college. BUT.
Let's evaluate 2011 first.
It was a year of books, man, and good books at that. For me, the tie for the favorite comes down to these three:
Divergent was fast, and beautifully written, and had a really, really cute guy -- minus a love triangle. I push this book on my friends at all cost; after I got an advanced copy from my lovely librarian and returned it, I asked for it as an early birthday present from my mother so that I could have my own copy to pet and whisper sweet things to tote around. It's that good.
Okay, so Myra McEntire is, without question, one of my favorite authors -- and she's only written one book. Why do I love her, then? She is funny. She is sweet, and she is nice, even to the creepy teenage kid aspiring author with a blog who accosted her for an interview. When Hourglass came out, I was wary -- I didn't want to dislike it, but I wanted to like it on the terms of the writing and not the person who wrote it. 
It didn't disappoint. It mixes A Wrinkle In Time with the best of modern paranormal, and it does it in a way that embraces the culture of the south and the mentality of modern teenagers -- which, ultimately, turned a good book into a great one.
and finally:
Holy monkeys, guys. This book is so different than anything else. It's eerie and creepy, and I love it so much. The characters are so real that they could step out of the pages. (Then they would stare in horror at Missouri and our lack of ocean, and promptly turn back around.) Parts of the book are so well written than I'm overwhelmed with an odd and overemotional desire to cry at the prettiness of it all. I love this book for so many reasons, and if I continue to gush anymore, you will run away and never come back, so I'm cutting it short there.
It also occurs to me that this was the last year of Harry Potter.

I'm not quite sure how to respond to that, except for lots and lots of movie marathons, and possibly sleeping with the final book next to my pillow.
For now, this is it, however. Happy New Year!