Sunday, March 18, 2012

Worrywart, or: This Story Has a Point, I Promise

When I was a child, I was terrified of sleep.

It is a widely-accepted fact that most kids are afraid of the 'monsters' that lurk underneath their bed or inside of their closets. There are whole movies based around this premise, around the cliche of the diligent father who goes to pains to show his child that are, in fact, no monsters. 

But it wasn't monsters that scared me--it was all of the scenarios my brain came up with while I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. Perhaps the downside of having a vivid imagination is that I can't turn it off, especially not during those agonizingly slow moments before sleep takes over. 

For a brief period, I was obsessed with the notion that I was going to die. It hit me harder than it probably did other children, the realization that my life was one day going to end. And from the moment I realized it, my brain has been making up reasons why it is going to happen now. So in those moments before sleep, all I could think about was how it could happen. I could have a heart attack. Someone could break through the window over my bed and kill me. I could spontaneously combust. I had cancer and no one realized it and it was just going to kill me, one day.

Obviously, none of those things happened, and eventually my brain got so tired of worrying about these scenarios that I learned to ignore that tiny voice inside of me long enough to go the fuck to sleep. 

I shared this anecdote because I have a confession. I am a chronic worrywart.

It started then and soon exploded to life with larger, more pressing issues: getting all of my homework done with as little effort as possible, trying to get the cute guy I like to notice me and embarrassing myself in the process, wondering whether or not I'd ever be able to escape my father or if there was not point, and always always always, am I a bad writer?

And now, in college, it's even worse. There's this small clenching that perpetually occupies my abdomen, a ball of worry whose apparent purpose is to ALWAYS STRESS ME OUT.

So, if you want to know a reason that I have not written in this blog in a while, it's because the idea of getting job and being professional and finishing college and being an adult is really bad without adding the stress of blog posts as well. My stomach clenches a little bit more just thinking about all the followers I had and how little I post anymore.

I guess: my life has gotten away from being about books.

Books were always a way for me to get away from myself, to go visit other worlds that I could almost make, because holy hell, I'm a writer too! But college has put me in the mind-set of NOW, of HERE, because there's so many things I feel I should be doing that I'm not. I'm not going to lie: I have time to have a blog.

But I also want a life.

So, this is not saying I'm quitting blogging or even going on a hiatus. This is saying that I'm going to post when I want, but I'm releasing myself of the responsibility of it. 

So, don't expect a lot of updates. And if there are updates, that might be more personal than about books.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Title: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Page Count: 318
Date Published: January 10th, 2012
Summary: Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Review: I've read two book this year. I've been lazy. But anyways:

I received TFiOS a few weeks ago, when it first came out, and promptly dropped everything to read it. I LOVE John Green--I am an avid Vlogbrothers fan and I adore his previous works. I had a slight problem in the beginning of the book, because I couldn't help reading it in his voice, but that stopped about halfway through. Still, it was weird.

I loved this book but that isn't to say I didn't find some things a bit... off. Sometimes the prose was sparse where it shouldn't have been or Green's overuse of the word 'this' instead of 'the'. And I agree with a review I just read: this was a John Green Book. And like Sarah Dessen Books, the formula of an incredibly smart/witty character + shitty life thing happening to them + typical John Green humor. No one really talks like his characters do, but it's still fun to entertain the notion.

On one hand, I don't like books to be formulaic like that. I want something new, something that is pushing the limits with writing. And I felt like TFiOS didn't push any limits. In fact, the writing was not as good as in any of his previous books, because it seems like his editor got lazy.

But none of this makes sense because I gave this book five stars.

I feel an obligation to any book that I have to put down because it has hit me so directly. I cried for the entire last third of TFiOS. And not just like, cute little quiet crying. I pretty much used half a tissue box.

And when I finished it, I felt like a piece of myself had been ripped out.

So none of those things really matter to me as a person. As a reader, sure. But I can ignore them because this book has taken a peice of me with it.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions:

It's almost that time again, folks. This year has gone by so quickly, way quicker than last year did--probably because I had more fun! My first year and a half of college, already over with. I honestly can't believe that. And so many cool things happened this year: I got to meet Meg Cabot and Maggie Stiefvater and Libba Bray, I finished The Shape that Breaks, I got on the Dean's list, I got (and quit/lost) two jobs, and I wrote almost 3 full novels. I didn't read quite as much this year, but that's okay. I'll get back on the bandwagon in 2012.

Anyway, I wanted to share some of my New Year's Resolutions! Not all of them have to do with writing or reading, but just things I want to get done this year.

  • Finish editing TSTB and get an agent! 
  • Read 100 books.
  • Write a fantasy novel (and finish it).
  • Don't eat any fried food. (This one is gonna be the toughest. It's a challenge!)
  • Run a whole heck of a lot, swim a whole heck of a lot, and basically be a super in-shape person.
  • Get straight A's both semesters.
  • Figure out if I'm going to NY this summer and if I am, make all the necessary arrangements for that.
  • Get a job! 
I think that's about it! Pretty lofty goals, but I can do it. I believe in myself. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Finishing a Novel

I'm gonna tell you all a little story.

When I was fourteen, I was absolutely obsessed with the idea that my first love would be my only and that he would come save me from my mundane life and take me on some epic adventure. I wrote because that was the only way I could get close to it while I waited. Until I really fell in love, that is. And it was beautiful and awesome and invigorating, but an adventure it was not.

During this period, I started working on a novel that I called 'Golden Eyes' about a girl who's abusive ex dumps her and she falls in love with a boy with golden eyes. The first incarnation of The Shape that Breaks is nothing like it ended up being and though I've finished drafts before this one, none of them were really where I wanted to take the story. The last draft I finished before my break-up with my ex and it didn't feel quite right, the ending. It wasn't what I'd been aiming at.

And then, last year, my ex and I broke up and I threw all of my energy into the newest incarnation of The Shape that Breaks, the one where the ending reflects every single action that happens in the book. And here I am, a year and a month later, done with this draft. The last written draft, I'm confident. I can feel it in me: this book is done. I need to edit and edit and edit, but all the tough stuff, the whole slog, is done.

When I finished, I felt so strange. I kept stopping myself and thinking that I should be writing and then realizing that I was DONE. Then I'd start to cry or hyperventilate a little bit. I've given this book five years of my life and it is such a part of me that being done feels like a betrayal. Like I'm leaving behind one of my friends.

What's really going to hit me is tomorrow, when I go pick up the bound draft at OfficeMax. I've never seen the entire novel printed out, words on a physical page. I'm probably going to cry in the middle of OfficeMax, like some kind of weirdo.

This was total word vomit. But I wanted to let the world know: I've finished The Shape that Breaks.

And as soon as I'm done editing, I'm going to start the querying process again. This is so exciting. I'm really confident in this draft.

Wish me luck, guys!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: The One that I Want by Jennifer Echols

It kind of bugs me that the guy doesn't look Japanese.
Title: The One That I Want
Author: Jennifer Echols
Page Count: 256 pages
Release Date: Dec. 6th, 2011
SummaryGemma can’t believe her luck when the star football player starts flirting with her. Max is totally swoon-worthy, and even gets her quirky sense of humor. So when he asks out her so-called best friend Addison, Gemma’s heartbroken. Then Addison pressures Gemma to join the date with one of Max’s friends. But the more time they all spend together, the harder Gemma falls for Max. She can’t help thinking that Max likes her back—it’s just too bad he’s already dating Addison. How can Gemma get the guy she wants without going after her best friend’s boyfriend?

My Thoughts: First things first, I may be a little biased because I have not read a Jennifer Echols book that I didn't like. There's something about the way she writes sexual tension that makes you feel that goosebumps and the butterflies. Any book of hers is a good escape from singledom, especially if you like your fictional men to be stubborn and domineering, but in the sexiest way possible.

When I read the summary for this book, though, I have to admit that I was hesitant. It felt kind of shallow and I wasn't sure if I would live it, especially the whole 'mix-up' plot that I hate so much in most books and movies. But once I started it, I kind of fell in love with the main characters, as is usually the case with Echols' books. Gemma is flawed and kind of a bitch to her 'best' friend, but she's also so determined and smart and witty--she is most definitely NOT a weak character at all. And her attraction to Max is so relatable it kind of hurts your heart to read about it.

Max: I was about in love with this guy. I need to meet a Max in real life, stat.

The kissing scenes were, as always, swoonworthy. And the resolution to the plot was awesomeawesomeawesome--everything happened just the way I wanted it to, plus there were a ton of moments where I had to book down to squeal.

I read this book in two sittings over two days (during finals week, when I should've been studying), and I absolutely loved it. I would recommend it to anyone else who has liked Jennifer Echols' books.

Overall Rating: 5/5 stars

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Lazy Life of a College Student on Winter Break

10pm: Fall asleep watching Psych on Netflix.
6am: Wake up confused and disoriented and realize you fell asleep at ten last night and that's why you're waking up when it's still dark out, like some crazy person who is motivated or something. Try to convince yourself to get out of bed and exercise or something, but instead go on your computer and find out that Kim Jong-Il is dead and browse Reddit reading about it.
6:45am: Decide that being awake this early is a lot lamer than you expected. Go back to sleep.
11:47am: Wake up again and finally get up to get coffee and cereal. Decide that the most productive thing you will do today is go to the pool.
2pm: Go to the pool. It's windy and in the 70s outside because you live in Florida, but it's still just warm enough to where swimming is nice. Do breaststroke for one lap and pretend that's a workout, then go into the hot tub and read a Jennifer Echols book on your Nook.
3pm: Go home. Go on Tumblr.
5pm: Realize how little you've gotten done. Decide to write for the rest of the night.
5:30pm: Write a blog post instead.

My first day of freedom and I feel as if I've botched it. I meant to wake up at a decent time and write, then maybe go running. I wrote one sentence of TSTB today. It's been super productive.

How's everyone else's break going so far?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Finals Week

College is awesome. It's the time when people are finding themselves and are constantly evolving, beginning to resemble their more mature, adult selves. And while I may go to a school known more for its parties than its programs, it was still super easy for me to find people that I connected with, even if I'm not into the whole 'party every single day of my life, you only live once, time to get black-out drunk' scene.

But there comes a time, at the end of the semester, where everyone starts to get a little crazy. People at the library are either on such a high dosage of Adderall that nothing but the apocalypse could tear them from their studying or they are browsing Facebook with their study guide open in the background, hoping to absorb the knowledge through some kind of Internet osmosis. Last year during this time, when it was cold and windy and gray and most of campus was running on less than three hours of sleep from a combination of papers and projects and finals, I got really sick. I got a scalp infection that did something to my brain, so I had a debilitating migraine for a week straight. I went to the emergency room three times, where they put me on higher and higher doses of painkillers, and still it didn't go away. My mom was so worried about me she demanded I come home, so I took the bus back for the entire 10 hour drive, sitting next to a newly-released prison inmate with his only belongings in a tiny mesh bag and snores so loud I couldn't fall asleep, even with all of the painkillers.

Because of that, I have not had to endure the Winter Final Fever until this year. And for once in my life, I'm actually on top of things. I've been studying for my Nutrition final since Friday morning (it's on Thursday at 7:30am, urgh), and I think I know most of the material. I have (unfortunately) completely stopped reading/writing until this is over, but I'm done on Thursday, so hurrah!

In the meantime, I'm kind of going insane from the amount of caffeine I've consumed today. My roommates and I stopped at Panera on the way home from this organic food store called New Leaf Market, so I'm halfway through my second cup of coffee. But I've studied a bunch, yay!

Other college students: how are you coping with finals/finals week?