August Book of the Month: The Body

It’s felt like a month since I’ve posted a blog post, and at this point, probably has been a month instead of a couple of weeks. I think with my schedule now I’m going to post every other week. I’ll still have my book of the month series of blogs; however, I’m finding my Youtube ideas much more appealing to me than blog posts. (If you didn’t already know, I have a YouTube channel!)

For August I read The Body by Stephen King. It is the second book I can say I’ve ever finished after seeing the movie version beforehand. (The first was Alice in Wonderland, because really, who escapes Disney’s grip as a child in the 90’s?) Nonetheless, that means there will be a bit of comparison between the book and movie in here. I haven’t seen the movie in several years, but it was one of the classics I’d watch when I grew up.

It was a rather short book, which took me longer than I anticipated to read considering I finished it on the last day of the month. I read it between doctor’s appointments and a visit to the beach. When I got deeper into the story, it was easier to binge-read. The entire time I kept forgetting which character had which exclusive trait, mainly due to my stop and go reading in the beginning.

Gordie, our main character, looks back to the event of finding the body with his friends, Chris, Vern, and Teddy. That much I remembered from the movie, besides the leeches scene. I’ve never swum in any unidentifiable water because of that scene burning into my mind from a young age.

Something that the book included that I found was interesting was Gordie’s written stories. There were two: Stud City, and The Revenge of Lard-ass Hogan. They were included as if the character wrote them, and I found that stylistic choice a refreshing break of regular narrative form. I wasn’t entirely a fan of Stud City, and to be honest, I skimmed over it after the first few pages. Gordie didn’t like it either when he reflected on it, so it seemed to work (for me, at least) in a meta sort of way. Lard-ass’ story, one of the other sequences I remember from the movie, was highly entertaining to read. I love a good revenge story, and to a point, gross-out humor is funny to me.

Another scene left out of my memory (that I doubt was in the movie) was Gordie’s nightmare. The whole metaphorical weight of it paired with Chris’ speech to him was a chilling reminder of his future and the future of his friends. It was like the harsh reality that not everyone succeeds and not all childhood groups stay together forever.

I was invested in the characters, mainly Gordie and Chris, and when they came across the older brother and his friends, I was genuinely worried. Something the movie didn’t leave in my mind was Gordie’s entrancement from Ray Brower’s body. The absolute detail of the body and its state in nature was something hypnotizing, effectively drawing the reader in like how Gordie was drawn in.

Overall, I enjoyed The Body. It was a solid, short read. I’d give it 4/5 stars. I think if I hadn’t seen the movie years prior I would’ve liked it more, especially with the ability to have been surprised by the twists. September’s book of the month is Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I’ve come to terms with my inability to read between/before classes because I now know my classmates and like to talk to them, so now I read half an hour before bed. That blog post will adhere to the new every-other-week schedule.

AMM Connect Post

 

As my school term comes to a close, I thought I’d do a post about my next goal, applying to Author Mentor Match, and thus do a blog post to connect with other AMM hopefuls.

I’m Noelle M. Pierce, and I’m a Pennsylvania cryptid who is holding onto book ideas like a kangaroo with a grossly overstuffed pouch of joeys. I’m entering my senior year in my Dramatic Writing degree with a minor in Animation. Because my school didn’t have the exact major I wanted to switch to, I found some additional love for dramatic writing which has helped me structure stories and made a plotter out of a pantser. Currently, I’m looking into graduate schools with Writing and Publishing degrees with the hopes of becoming an editor.

(Because of my art background, I can draw my characters! So that’s fun. These two are unrelated to my WIP, but have their own stories.)

Regarding novels, I write in various parts of the Young Adult age range. I like to mix up what genres I write because I like challenging myself. However, most of my books tend to sway towards sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. I’ve already written three other books besides the one I’ve been working on for pursuing the querying process for my first time. If you follow me on this blog, you might have seen mention of it before when I was looking for beta readers. It’s What Darkness Does, a YA horror that involves a couple of kids, an albino deer, and a forest that is deceptively dangerous, just like the people around it.

img_1003

This isn’t a cover or anything, just something to give the vibe. Picture from pexel.com.

What makes this one different than the others? For starters, I wrote the first draft in about a month, so there’s no voice changes / visible skill changes throughout it like two of the other books that I wrote the first draft to across multiple years. Secondly, it’s the first I’ve put active planning into. Beforehand, I was a pantser. That was fun and all, but even more fun was having a guide plan for what I wanted to do so I could finish it in a timely manner. It’s been interesting teaching myself how to edit, and I’ve done about 4 passes at it.

I’d make a great mentee because I reflect the energy that I get from my collaborators. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my college career, it’s that giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of growing both as a person and a writer. I love hearing suggestions on how to improve things; while not every suggestion is incorporated, I’m the type of person that gets excited about new twists and other potential directions the book can go in when it aligns with the spirit of the book.

I’m excited to connect with other writers and submit to AMM once the next round opens!

Sims Writing Challenge

Writer’s block is tough to break through. Sometimes you just have to ride it out, especially if it’s from being burned out. Other times, you can find a way around it. When I’m stuck and also lucky, I manage to find a way to do something else that triggers an idea or a surge of energy to do something. Lately, I’ve been super burnt out, so I’ve been doodling and designing sticker sets on my laptop. Another thing I do is people watch. When I was using my school’s transportation, I would watch people out the window of the bus. Now, I go to my favorite café, grab a window seat, and it’s like lunch/dinner and a movie. I was able to find a way to fill the gap between one event and the climax of one book this way. Then it hit me.

What if I watched people, but through the Sims? Sims is one of my fallbacks for when I’m burnt out. I can easily lose hours just making the sim themselves, not to mention their house, family, and life. I have Sims 3 and 4, but I’ve been playing around with 4 since I’m still actively buying game packs and expansions for it. The autonomous function is always interesting to watch, or at least, look back to after a small break while letting it run. With my love of Sims and writing, I decided to make a writing challenge.

At the end of this blog post I will have the rules and potential lists to use for your own use. The point is to randomize everything as much as possible, and have very little control. One of my downloaded items glitched out so I had to randomize an actually usable sim to do so, but it’d be interesting if I had used that character. However, I worried if it would crash the game. I’d say getting a job is optional, but it can give you more of an idea of their personality and some flair for the character too.

peytoncronin

The first character I generated was a girl by the name of Peyton Cronin. She had long pink hair like some sort of anime character and had an interesting set of outfits. Her main set was a pink shirt (that miraculously didn’t clash), some jeans, and some tan boots. Her aspiration in life was to be a city native and have the best turf to own. She was a painter, which could explain the artsy choice of pink hair. Her traits consisted of being a goofball, hating children, and being erratic. The erratic trait used to be the “insane” trait, so likewise the sim will talk to themselves, change outfits randomly, and be unstable. She was a great first character and would be an interesting main character for a book maybe. Noted.

tiaramasters

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to have a second character or not, but I added one and I fell in love with her design immediately. Her name was Tiara Masters, and she had short black cropped hair and matching black cat ears. Alright, anime town it was. Tiara’s outfits made more sense than Peyton’s for the most part. She aspired to be a mansion baron, which goes almost hand-in-hand with Peyton’s. Tiara’s traits were that she was jealous, ambitious, and a bookworm, generally normal traits. She wound up being a detective, which I wonder if she’d be able to hide her ears with the hat.

Randomizing relations, they became a married couple, and they wound up living in Brindleton Bay, a nice little town that was from the pet expansion. For the main event, however, they wound up going to Skye Fitness in San Myshuno, a city which is inspired by modern cities like New York, San Francisco, and even Tokyo. The gym itself is connected to a patch of land outside of it, which provided some more leeway for interactions, albeit not too many.

As an observer, the first idea I got was from Peyton and Tiara watching a female street performer for hours. They never tipped her or anything, they just stood and watched. They didn’t even talk. The performer eventually left. It was odd how they didn’t interact, even though they were doing the action together. The oddness could provide a way to try to explain such a thing via storytelling. It wasn’t my speed, so let’s move on.

The second idea was from Peyton and Tiara playing basketball together, alone on the rooftop. They were talking together privately until this male gym trainer came up. Tiara left, and perhaps because of her jealousy trait, but otherwise I could apply that as the reasoning and use her trait in that way for inspiration. Tiara went downstairs to go use an exercise machine that I believe is just a weight machine. In this case, Tiara would be the main character of that story.

The third idea was from Tiara and Peyton having a conversation. They’re sleepy and hungry but were otherwise doing okay. Peyton is feeling flirty, and Tiara leaves to take a shower. Peyton goes to use a weight machine and Don Lothario waltzes over, having a flirty conversation with Peyton that goes well. He did this another time before this specific instance. This could be dramatic; is Peyton cheating on Tiara? Or was Don a past fling? Or was she just being polite since this guy is clearly a musclehead bro who could probably bench press her.

The fourth, and last idea was when Peyton was having an erratic moment and was arguing with herself in the corner while three other people in the area were exercising. Initially, I didn’t think much of this until I was reviewing my game footage. How weird would it be if someone was just having a dramatic conversation with only themselves in the middle of this rich area’s gym? That’d be wild! Two people were on the treadmill, and one guy was boxing right next to her.

Overall, the last two ideas intrigued me, but I’m almost leaning towards the fourth more. Now the hard part is writing it, or rather, finding time to focus and write it. It definitely helped me generate ideas, which was the ultimate goal of this challenge, besides producing something. I plan on writing one of the ideas, however, I’m not going to upload it because if it turns out well enough, I might try to shop it around the short story ring of submittable.

Let me know if this challenge helped you generate any ideas of your own! I’d love to hear how it turned out.

Rules

-Must Randomize at least one sim.
-Sims must be autonomous.
-Completely random choices, use https://www.random.org/lists/ and
 https://www.random.org/integers/ with the lists to determine details.
-If it comes down to a 1 or 2 option, or yes or no answer, 1 is yes, 2 is no. Modify the integer list as accordingly.
-Randomize relationships in this fashion, also depends on how many characters you’re using.
-You can choose where they live within a randomized town, but try to restrict yourself to their amount of money if you want to add anything to the house. (I say try because TV’s and computers are expensive, and realistically they would be in a house. Sims could wind up in the house as well and watching tv is a normal action, which is why I mention this.)
-EXTRA CHALLENGE: Number your ideas. Randomize which one you go with.

Here are the base lists I made below, and I added +’s to everything I had as an expansion pack or game pack.

Aspirations

Athletic
Creativity
Deviance
Family
Food
Fortune
Knowledge
Love
Nature
Popularity
+Animal
+Location

Traits

Active
Cheerful
Creative
Genius
Gloomy
Goofball
Hot-headed
Romantic
Self-assured
Unflirty
Art Lover
Bookworm
Foodie
Geek
Music Lover
Perfectionist
Ambitious
Childish
Clumsy
Erratic
Glutton
Kleptomaniac
Lazy
Loves Outdoors
Materialistic
Neat
Slob
Snob
Vegetarian
Bro
Evil
Family-Oriented
Good
Hates Children
Jealous
Loner
Mean
Noncommittal
Outgoing
+Cat Lover
+Dog Lover

Locations

1. Sim’s Home
Oasis Springs
2. Burners & Builders (Gym)
3. Desert Bloom (Park)
4. The Futures Past (Museum)
5. Rattlesnake Juice (Bar)
6. The Solar Flare (Lounge)
Willow Creek
7. The Blue Velvet (Nightclub)
8. Magnolia Blossom (Park)
9. Movers & Shakers (Gym)
10. Municipal Muses (Museum)
11. Willow Creek Archives (Library)
+San Myshuno
12. Mysuno Meadows (Park)
13. Waterside Warble (Karaoke Bar)
14. Casbah Gallery (Arts Center)
15. Planet Honey Pop! (Karaoke Bar)
16. Stargazer Lounge (Lounge)
17. Skye Fitness (Gym)
+Brindleton Bay
18. Brindleton Pawspital (Vet Clinic)
19. Club Calico (Lounge)
20. Deadgrass Discoveries (Museum)
21. Pupperstone Park (Park)
22. Salty Paws Saloon (Bar)
+Magnolia Promenade
23. Paddywhack’s Emporium
24. JF&S Clothiers
25. The Roadstead

Career

+Detective
+Doctor
+Scientist
Astronaut
Athlete
Business
Criminal
Critic
Culinary
Entertainer
Painter
Politician
Secret Agent
Social Media
Tech Guru

Failing Camp NaNoWriMo and Book of the Month

If you’re someone who follows my blog, by now you may have noticed my blog posting schedule has been off kilter. Reflectively, this past month has been one of my most difficult in a while, even compared to both semesters I had 4 classes (20 credit hours) at once. My classes have been almost entirely group projects, which anyone who’s had to participate in them knows the hell that is working with several people at once, especially creative ones who often lack strength in areas besides creativity.

Organizing a film and getting it done is crazy, and for people who work in that industry I cannot begin to understand the patience they have, and that I have none of. Due to all of these school shenanigans and mental health episodes triggered by them, I was unable to finish both main goals I had for the month.

Camp NaNoWriMo, as always, started off great. I was ahead of the minimum for a while, until I decided to change the midpoint. Why did I change the midpoint right when I was getting to the midpoint? I honestly don’t know why it took me that long to realize it didn’t work, but if I hadn’t changed it, I probably would’ve been able to continue at the rate I was going at. I wound up stopping at page 45. I need to finish it, but I think I’ll wait for a little while before I do. I still need to reconstruct the outline.

For July’s Book of the Month, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, I am also about halfway through it, at 164 pages of 369 pages. This is the first time where I haven’t been able to finish a book in the month yet still want to read it. So for that, I plan on binge reading as much as I can in the next couple of days to get it done and perhaps make a delayed post about that. It’s a different type of book than I usually read, but I’m enjoying it. That factor just makes it a little slower of a read, but still an enjoyable one.

I can’t speak for August’s Book of the Month yet, but it’s going to be a shorter one. Is that cheating? I wouldn’t say so. I still get to read a book in a month, at least. I’m thinking of one of my new Stephen King books.

Graduate School Epiphanies

While I’m currently earning a degree in Dramatic Writing, it’s not what I want to do as a job. (I switched from Animation to Dramatic Writing about a year ago, because transferring would’ve put me in more debt as I’d have to almost restart my education. I’m still learning story techniques, and it’s been a great deal more beneficial.) I would love to write books for a living, but until I can get to that point (or if I ever), I want to be an editor. Thus, I decided a while back that I wanted to look at graduate schools. There are certain stipulations I have in mind when looking at schools, and are as follows:

  1. Located in the Northeast
  2. Full scholarship potential
  3. Writing/Publishing electives

 

A funny thing happened while I was going over the schools I was thinking about for this blog post. I realized three of the five schools weren’t for me. Yikes. I won’t say which ones I took off, but the two that were left were Emerson and Baltimore University. I really want to have a combination of writing and publishing in my degree, and I realized the majority of the schools (that I took off my list) didn’t even have publishing electives. Considering I want to focus on both the craft of writing novels and also learn about the publishing world while focusing on editing, those schools just weren’t going to work out.

For my undergrad degree, I never had to try that hard to get into my current college. While that sounds a bit pretentious, my SAT scores were higher than the average accepted students for the school, I had about a 3.8 GPA, and this school didn’t require a portfolio. (The latter should’ve alerted me to the money grabbing nature of the school as a business first and foremost.) So I didn’t have to worry about getting in or not; my advisor essentially told me I was guaranteed to get in, and I got in. I had visited the school beforehand, and in that trip, I found the Savannah at its friendliest. I have never seen it that friendly since.

I don’t want to fall into the hole and make the same mistake just because I think a city would be interesting to live in, especially if I haven’t seen it. In another case, I didn’t want to go just on rank alone. While my current school is ranked highly for my prior Animation major, the department itself was understaffed and hiring unqualified people to teach to try to accommodate the overflowing amount of students that were automatically accepted. I didn’t want a place like that for my graduate degree.

While I was having a mini life crisis, I did some more digging and found another college that had previously gone off my radar. Why? Because it wasn’t on the typical ranks for the “best” college programs for Writing and Publishing, and originally I had been searching the lists for guaranteed full funding or a potential for a fully funded scholarship.

This college also turned out to be around the area I grew up in and would allow me to do a dual MFA for Creative Writing and MA for Publishing. Rosemont College made it quickly onto my radar, and I delved deep into researching the program, classes, teachers, and area around the college to the point I was up for three hours lost in trying to find out all I could. I’ve already spent the time on the other programs I was looking into, so I needed to catch up. Because I have a Pennsylvania address where I primarily reside when I’m not in school, it would be in-state tuition, something that good old Uncle Sam would just have to give me more help on instead of cutting it for the distance. 60 credit hours sounds like a lot, but from the perspective of my current degree being 180 credit hours for four years, to me, it doesn’t seem like too much to handle. The classes are relevant to what I want to learn, and I really like how some of the publishing classes include business classes. While I can’t tell if it’s possible to get full funding, I totally plan on applying.

One of the other schools I’ve been planning to apply to is Emerson. I visited the school last year and really enjoyed the experience. A grad student (although for nonfiction, which was weird since I’d be for fiction) gave my Mom and I a tour. I’m stuck between two different degrees, the Creative Writing – Fiction MFA, and the Publishing and Writing MA. Emerson has some great classes in publishing that also include a few design elements. While I don’t see myself becoming a book designer, as an elective, it’d be interesting to learn more about considering I can draw as well and illustrate. Both degrees allow room for departmental electives, which would mean I could use some of the classes from the other degree. There’s potential for a full, partial, or different types of scholarships that are important to me. The only real downside is that Boston itself is an expensive city to live in and around, but I’ve been scouting and planning ways to make it work. I also really like the idea of working on campus and maybe even teaching a class or helping out with one.

The other school I’ve been planning to apply to is Baltimore University with their MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts. I did a pre-college program in the summer of 2014 at MICA, so I have a solid sampling of what it’s like to live in Baltimore and get around. I really like the idea of potentially taking book design classes along with the departmental elective choices between design, publishing, and literature. They offer different work-study programs and TA positions, along with the ability to teach a class or two, so the opportunities to fund me besides their scholarships are great. However, I’m not too excited about a foundations class. At my current college, we had several we had to take, and while some of them helped, I still feel as though if we are accepted into the program, we should probably have the foundations understood already. It’s only one class though, so I don’t mind. It looks fun, anyways.

Overall, I feel confident in going forward with my choices of schools to apply to. I send my thanks to a blog post from AWP’s free membership weekend for reminding me of the mistakes not to make for the second time around. I don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to recognize that three of the schools I was applying to weren’t good fits, but I’m glad I recognized that now instead of when I’m applying, or after I’ve already written my statement of purpose letters. Those are next on my task list, now that I’m certain of the schools.

The Ignition of My Passion for Storytelling

I can pluck it from one event in my life. Certain memories of mine stand solidly in my mind while in other cases, I can’t remember much from a span of years. In one of those gaps, third grade, one of the hardest years of my academic and personal life, my grades slipped. Not drastically, I still had A’s and B’s, but for one solid year I got consistent, heavy C’s in English.

I can’t remember if English was my favorite subject or not at that point, it was probably art, but I do remember one specific project. We were tasked with recounting a time in our life and retelling it as a short story. We used odd yellow paper that was larger than the usual size and had an uncomfortable texture to it without being flat. The lead hardly showed up on it unless the tip was ready to carve through the page.

I wrote about the most recent Thanksgiving and considering it was the first after my parents divorced, it was just my mom and me. She was making the turkey and getting the table ready when our dogs, allured by the scent of savory meat, were crowding her feet. I can’t remember if our one dog, Buddy, an old Yorkshire Terrier, had passed away at the time, as I remember he passed away in third grade as well. Either way, she fed the dogs as I likely stood uselessly waiting for food. Maybe I was good and set the table, something that was a simple task for me to do just for two.

After dinner when she was cleaning up, she happened to come across a miscellaneous dripping of sauce on the counter. She wiped it up with her finger and popped it in her mouth. What she thought had been turkey juice or gravy was actually juice from the dog food. Her face twisted in bitter disgust and I remember us both laughing at the grievous error. Check that off the “never have I ever” list.

The moment, although brief and enough to gain a small laugh and carry on, meant everything to me in a time where it was hard to smile. Besides the divorce, my best friend had moved away that year as well, and I my little world had shaken so hard it knocked me down for a bit. Although most people at first glance likely wouldn’t suspect that sort of depth from a third grader who still can’t use proper grammar and spell common words correctly. (I still suck with grammar; I wish I could remember the years we actively studied it.)

My teacher didn’t find the story entertaining either, and wrote something to the effect of “this isn’t funny” or “this isn’t interesting.” To her defense, it was likely neither to an adult, especially a teacher reading about thirty of those papers. However, as a child, I took great offense. I believed it to be funny, and if she couldn’t see that— well, I’d just have to write more and get better to prove I could write a good story.

In third grade, I was still playing pretend at recess with the friends I had left, and when that friend group disintegrated around fifth grade, I started writing my ideas of worlds and villains instead of acting them out. Although I moved them onto a backup drive to save space, I wrote a little more than a hundred stories. I hardly finished any of them, but I had so many ideas I wanted to write I just had to get them down somewhere. It wasn’t until sixth grade when I finally wrote a “book” (about 30 pages in size 18 font) that had a narrative arc to it. The rewritten version of this book was the first I ever finished at about 260 pages. I planned four books for the series but only ever had three of the books on a “first draft” basis (all less than 30 pages, if I’m honest).

I’ll never forget what it felt like to finish writing that book. I realized that I actually could. The first hurdle I needed to jump through to become a writer I had vaulted over: I could complete a manuscript. Of course, it took years and shows the clear progression of improvement as it goes on and thus needs many more drafts, but I had done it.

I still have that paper. The decaying pages from almost a decade ago. It sits in a bin at my mom’s house, I think inside of a plastic bag for some form of preservation. (When I return to my Mom’s house I’ll take a picture of it and attach it to this post.) It taught me how to take feedback. While I wasn’t pleased with it, I took it into consideration, and I went to work. It was one of the hardest lessons to learn, but an absolutely necessary one, and I’m glad I learned it early on. I am forever thankful to this teacher in particular, among many others that I couldn’t have grown without the aide of. She was the one that ignited the flame to my passion that’s glowing brighter with time.

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018

In hindsight, I recall in my prior 2018 NaNoWriMo post for April how I was confused about it being so early. I still don’t know why there are two, but the more, the merrier! The only things that have changed since April’s camp NaNoWriMo are that instead of being in four classes, I’m now in three for this summer semester, and additionally, I won’t be working on the novel that I have been for the past two NaNoWriMo’s.

To get into my Senior Development class for the winter quarter, we have to submit a portfolio of at least two works during midterms of fall quarter. Fall quarter is when I’m set up for the first half of writing a feature film, and most other people in my graduation year have already taken this awhile ago. So, I have to make up for lost time and write a feature film over the summer, so I have something to graduate with.

Therefore, my July 2018 Camp NaNoWriMo goal is to write 110 pages of a feature script for this action-packed suspense/thriller I’m writing, Double Bind. One assassination goes wrong when the targets have fled the country and have instead placed their estranged daughter in their home. To make matters worse, a different assassin is hired to kill them both. They have to work together to survive this ordeal and find out who’s behind all of this.

I’m already at a full 17 pages in three days, so things are going pretty well. I worry about how I’ll do during the second act, but I’m sure I’ll be able to fix any issues that arise. And in regards to my previous NaNoWriMo novel, I wasn’t able to finish it last month, and I’m not entirely sure when I will, but I’ve got some time in the next few months that I’m sure I can hunker down for the last few chapters. If you’re doing Camp NaNoWriMo, I hope your progress is going smoothly, and if it isn’t, it’s only day four, so don’t lose hope on catching up!

June Book of the Month

June’s book of the month was Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Blake has become a substantial author in young adult fiction, especially with her current series Three Dark Crowns. I was surprised to see the range of genres from horror to fantasy, and also comforted by the fact authors can reign free and not necessarily get locked into one, and still be successful. Anna Dressed in Blood was her debut novel, and it was encouraging to see that ghost stories are still popular, and popular enough to get picked up as someone’s debut. I love ghosts, probably a little too much, but at least not as much as Cas. I gave this book a full five out of five stars.

Anna Dressed in Blood is about Cas Lowood, a fresh, young ghost hunter who picked up his father’s ghost-killing athame after his father was killed by a vicious spirit. He moves from town to town with his Mom to get rid of local haunts. He moves to Thunder Bay to hunt down a notorious ghost, who has gained the title “Anna Dressed In Blood.” In his pursuits of hunting her, he befriends a local mind-reading witch Thomas, along with the most popular kids in school: Carmel, the queen bee who is actually a decent person, Mike, her dumb jock ex-boyfriend, and Will, the jock’s sidekick who’s got just as much intelligence as he has kick in him.

The characters were easily my favorite part of the book. Each one seemed like someone I would’ve met in high school, and even though Cas stereotyped them in the beginning, they each became more than just a character type. Even Anna, dead and from another time, showed significant wit and character beyond just being a dead girl. At certain points different characters went against their own personalities, usually for superficial reasons, but at no point did any of it feel fake. Kendare Blake knows her audience well, and has a strong grip on the voice of teenagers. I found myself laughing out loud from Cas’ remarks throughout the book, like his constant insistence that he’s not one of the Ghostbusters and rejecting the idea of teaming up to become a ghost fighting group. Even the adults were entertaining and well fleshed out despite their limited appearances.

The plot of the story was tightly woven, and where there were some gaps of knowledge, I’m certain they’ll be answered in the second book. How do I know that? Passing details that didn’t seem significant wound up being monstrously important throughout the ending, and everything that Cas set out to do was solved but left with different cliffhangers. Naturally, he can’t accomplish everything the way he had planned, but even the cliffhangers were tight and gave a solid idea of where the series would head afterward. Every piece of information given was used and transformed as the story went on. Even the hitchhiker from chapter one is referred to later.

Overall, this is one of my favorite books. I’m glad I accidentally bought the sequel first; if I had it with me for the start of July, I’d easily make Girl of Nightmares my July book of the month. Unfortunately, I could only haul so many books with me when moving, so it’ll be on its way when my mom comes to visit about halfway through the month. So in the meantime, the sequel will have to wait another month before I can get to it. Instead, July’s book of the month will be The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I haven’t read a historical fiction book yet, and I’m interested to see how I enjoy it.

2018 Goals – Halfway Check-in!

Wow, this year has felt like it’s flown by. Maybe it’s due to my overpacked spring schedule, moving, and focusing on getting things done. Either way, I’m holding myself accountable for my goals and theoretically by the end of June, I should be halfway done. How am I standing?

For my weekly goals, excluding week 25 (this week), I have only missed three tasks that range from three different weeks. My focus for the week is between going to the gym at least once, posting one YouTube video, and one blog post to my blog. I have missed going to the gym twice, which is nothing I regret not doing. Next year I think I’m going to up this goal to at least twice a week. The other task I missed was posting a blog a few weeks ago, which was hard to accept, but schoolwork comes first.

For my monthly goals, excluding June as a whole, I’ve only missed one of the three tasks in only one month. I was unable to finish one leisurely book in February, which was Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I made a blog post about that and why I felt like I couldn’t complete it, so if you’re more interested you can check it out. Otherwise, I haven’t completed any of my June goals quite yet. I’m almost halfway through my book, Anna Dressed in Blood, so look for my book of the month blog post about that.

For my yearly goals, I wanted to write two books, one feature film, have my work-in-progress novel ready for querying, and write two pilot episodes. My Dramatic Writing major denotes that I should be writing in more script form, so I wanted to be able to write a couple of things outside of classes. I managed to write both pilot episodes, one of which I pitched for the school’s selection of student shows. While I didn’t get picked, I still managed to get it done within about a month’s notice which I consider a win. I managed to finish one book I’ve been working on, and I aim by the end of June to finish another book I’ve been working on since NaNoWriMo back in November, and Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I’m about a couple chapters away from finishing it, so I think I can finish it by the end of this month. In July for (previously unbeknownst to me) Camp NaNoWriMo (round two for the summer) I plan on writing the feature film. Regarding my work-in-progress, I have my third and fourth drafts done and have opened the gates for beta readers. So if you want to be a beta reader, check my other post for more information! Otherwise, I have about two planned drafts left, and probably another draft for line edits after those two.

Percentage-wise, I’m about 44% through my weekly goals, 39% through my monthly goals, and 54% through my major goals. I’m confident I can have about 90% done of each, if not 100% by the end of the year!

Beta Reader Announcement

I’ve done it; I’ve completed my next draft of my work in progress novel, and I’m ready for beta readers! I’ve done everything I can on my own end, and now I’m looking for some kind book lovers to help me out. What Darkness Does is a young adult horror novel sitting at about 80,000 words. It’s like Twin Peaks meets It.

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This isn’t a cover or anything, just something to give the vibe. Picture from pexel.com.

To make this easier for everyone, I made Google forms for each chapter to clarify my concerns and show what kind of feedback I’m looking for. Most forms have between 7-10 questions, some being yes or no with areas to expand if necessary. I’ve got a page of links to each so you can go at your own pace, although keep in mind that I plan on editing the next draft in September, so I hope by the end of August to have gathered the responses.

So here is the theoretical book blurb as it stands:

Imo thought moving to the Poconos would bring a relaxing summer filled with air conditioning and the occasional mosquito bite.

That thought was destroyed when her dad almost flattens a protected albino deer with their moving truck. After celebrating the fourth of July with her new neighbors, Jack and Trey, along with their friend Chrissy, Imogen encounters something in the middle of the night looming outside her window. In her daze of sleep, she can’t decide if what she saw was the albino deer—or something sinister.

Imo must balance trying to make genuine friends while not pushing them too hard to open up about the creature they’re reluctant to speak about. The balance is thrown when one of them goes missing, along with one of their family’s shotguns. The creature consumes the rest of Imo’s summer, along with anything that tries to stand in its way.

If you’re interested in helping out, fill out this form so I can learn more about you and see if you’re a good fit, which is just about anyone who likes horror and YA as a bare minimum.