Sunday, December 30, 2012

Day #8895 - Movie Magic

Had a ton of fun making this video with my dad about some of the movies we saw in 2012.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Day #8890 - Hark! The Herald Angels Sang

To all those of you who celebrate, a very Merry Christmas. And to those with other beliefs, here's still wishing you much happiness this season.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day #8882 - Project for Awesome

Every year on YouTube, the Project for Awesome takes place in which people make videos to raise awareness about charities and causes they feel are important. This is my first time participating as a vlogger, and if you could take the time to watch, I'd really appreciate it. As much as I love books, I love music just as much and being in music programs has shaped much of my life, which is why for this year's video, I talk about VH1's Save the Music Foundation.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Day #8877 - Until Next Century...

Today's date is too awesome to not post, plus it has been quite the day indeed.

Queryland has brought me potentially awesome news. Can't and won't say anything more than that for now, let's just say that my confidence is going up which is an awesome feeling.

Plus there were other things that happened today that were out of the ordinary, which was also cool.

In other news, I'm currently reading the ARC of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, the second book in her Lunar Chronicles series and I am so in love!

And that's about it. Happy 12/12/12, everyone! A date like this won't happen again in our lifetimes - next time will be 01/01/2101 - eek!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day #8876 - December Doings

Looking back at my last few posts, I've realized that's it's not exactly fair to call this my writing and life blog if I'm only posting YouTube videos...

And so, a real blog post!

What's been going on with me is both a lot and a whole lot of nothing if that makes any sense at all. Work is busy, but mostly in a good way. That being said, I'll be super happy when winter break finally comes at the end of next week because I want to get caught up on reading, plus I want to get back into writing. I must confess, I haven't written much of anything since NaNoWriMo ended, but my brain needed time to recharge. I won't be going back to that story right away, though. I'm planning on revisiting Summer Project - we've had enough time apart where I think I can get back into it with a better sense or perspective, and my process will be pretty much the exact opposite of NaNo. While I hope to get back into writing every day, I plan to take my sweet, sweet time.

And then there's Queryland. Nothing much to report on that front except to say that I've recently jumped back in the game. I have a new draft of my query letter which I think is eons better than the last one, so hopefully the responses will be more favorable (aka not just form rejections). Keep your fingers crossed for me! I know at some point I'll have to think long and hard about if this is a book which simply will not be published, but I'm not ready to give up on it - I still believe in it very much.

I really wish I had something juicer for you all, but those are actually the high lights (without getting too personal because, you know, it's the Internet and we've got to have boundaries to keep up the illusion that I'm actually incredibly interesting). I mean, I've been going to the gym more. Christmas decorations are up and fabulous. And here in Chicagoland we set a new record for the most consecutive days without snow (281 in case you were wondering), but none of that is exactly thrilling. I think that pretty much covers it for now.

So...yeah. Bye!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day #8866 - November Favorites

I genuinely cannot believe that it's already December 1st, but that doesn't mean it's not true. So without further ado, here are a few of my favorite things from November.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day #8862 - I'm a Winner!

In which I discuss doing my civic duty and writing a LOT of words in a short amount of time.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day #8850 - The Sweetest Thing

In which I was awake way too early on a Sunday morning and running (which I'm not exactly a fan of), all in the name of chocolate!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day #8847 - NaNoWriMo Update

In which I talk about some of the ups and downs I'm feeling during my second year of participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day #8835 - An Update on The Writing Things!

While I've posted quite a few videos lately, I haven't said much on the blog in a while about the whole writing thing. Which, you know, is problematic when I claim that this is supposed to be a blog dedicated to my writing and life and things.

And so, time for an update!

Due to the total lack of response from my earlier post when I gave the Internet the POWER to tell me what to write, I've had to think for myself and am going with option number three: the story that started as a title and now I'm figuring it out. I've never had an idea come to me this way before, but hey, I'll take it. I've got my composition notebook with me, filling with summaries, scenes, characters, and the ever-important playlists, so hopefully awesome writing will be happening in the upcoming month.

Now, as some of you may know, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I actually did a post on it over at my other blog here. The short version is this: yes I signed up, no I don't actually think I'll get a 50,000 word first draft written over the next 30 days, yes I'm okay with that because even if I don't "win" at NaNoWriMo, it's okay because I know my writing and it just doesn't work like that. All that being said, I'm just hoping to use this month as a push to get me back into writing regularly. All the rejections (and rejections via no response) that I got this summer in Queryland got me down more than I like to admit. It's especially hard when I'm on and seeing people who 'first started sending queries on Monday and now four days later I already have an offer for representation!' - it hasn't been an easy road for me, but I still have hope and ideas so I have to believe some day, it will be my turn.

Which leads me to my final bit of news: I've returned to Queryland. I refuse to let this keep me down. Someone, somewhere will want my story. I just have to take the time to find them. Good things come to those who wait, right? Keep your fingers crossed for me, and if anyone out there knows of literary agents who are currently accepting submissions and particularly like contemporary YA, PLEASE TELL ME! =)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day #8822 - Like vs. Love and Tell Me What to Write!

If I had to pick a Facebook relationship status for life with me and my writing ideas right now, it would be "It's Complicated."

And I hate that phrase. Because is it really so complicated? Yes, but no. Let's look at it in it's simplest form: I haven't written anything creatively for a while now. I'm stuck. I have had ideas, sure, but the three main ones dancing around in my head don't feel good enough. I like them, but I don't love them. With the first book I wrote, I LOVED it right from the very beginning. Even through the edits and rewrites and query process and rejections, I still LOVE that book. And though I'm still agentless (though I'm going to restart my search once I can find someone to help me with my query AGAIN even though it got really good responses from other writers during WriteOnCon) and that book only exists as a file on my computer and not as a book on the shelves at a library near you (yet!), I still love that book. The few I've let read it have generally liked it. I can't wait to have agents and editors and Publishing People go through it and potentially tear it apart because I love it, and I want it to be the best book it can be.

But then I think, I also loved my second manuscript. At least, I thought I did during the idea stage, and for a lot of the writing stage, too. But it didn't exactly last - it was NaNoWriMo and sprinting out a first draft like that is taxing and I knew it was hardly my best writing going on. I wanted to try the experience, but in the end, one month and 61,000 words later, I had a first draft that I hit "save" and have not looked at since December of last year.

So it makes me think, is loving it really necessary? Or does it just blind you to the fact that maybe it's not such a great idea after all? Does my love for my book cloud my ability to see that it's perhaps not so awesome, as shown by the fact that every rejection but one was a form rejection and I only got one request for a full which also ended in a form rejection? I say no, because that one request gave me hope.

But it still leaves me with time to write and fear that my ideas suck and are not worthy.

So here's my proposition: I'm leaving it up to the Internet. Below are three incredibly vague descriptions of the ideas floating around in my head and you guys tell me which one to work on. And whichever one gets the most, I'll start with that and we'll see how it goes. Ready? Ok!

-science-fiction/dystopian-ish idea in a The Giver or Never Let Me Go sort of way
-contemporary YA/new adult centering around two characters, a guy and a girl, who share a gender-neutral first name
-What I think would be a cute title in my head and other than that, I really don't have anything but I do know the protagonist likes swimming

So yeah. There they are. Let me know what you think! =)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day #8804 - Thoughts from Places

In which I offer up some footage and random thoughts from my town's annual Labor Day parade earlier this month.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day #8796 - Falling Into Place

Happy Autumnal Equinox, Internet! It is the first official day of fall and I know I've been neglecting this blog lately, so what better reason for me to come back and give you an update than the semi-annual occasion of me balancing an egg on its end?

First off, a recap of the last few weeks. Not a whole lot to say, actually. The new school year is in full swing and there have been a whole bunch of changes going on in the school library where I work. Mostly good things, but a lot of adjusting! I love the students and staff at my school, and it's really shaping up to be a good year. The fall play is also under way, so every night I'm at rehearsals for that which is a joy to get to see these fantastic young adults I work with in a different light.

As for my writing lately, well, there hasn't been a whole lot of that going on. Part of it is due to lack of time, and part of it is I'm trying to find my rhythm, too. The writers who have succeed and gotten published say to try and try again, and I know they're right and that this was never going to be an easy road, but I also need to recharge. I never want to resent writing, so while I do write everyday, I have no new stories to report on as of late. Though I still encourage you to check out the story I did for the Defy the Dark contest - I'm particularly proud of it.

Life has just been a lot of busy lately, in a really great way. Since I'm finally done with grad school, in a lot of ways it feels I'm getting to know myself in my twenties just now. I'm more social at work. I'm reading more lately. I'm trying to step out of my shell, and so far, pretty darn good.

So it's been a decent September and I'm hoping this trend keeps going. And now, for your viewing pleasure, the traditional standing an egg on its end!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day #8782 - Have Hope

Well readers, now that some of that excitement I had mentioned in my last post has come and gone, I now feel free to tell you exactly what it was because I no longer have to fear jinxing anything.

I haven't been sending out new query letters for a while now. My story didn't get an overwhelming response by any means in my posts during WriteOnCon and while I have sent many many many queries, I've been stuck in the land of form rejections. Every. Single. Time. Despite multiple drafts of that letter and trying different approaches, maybe the big problem is that my pitch is bad because no one was interested.

Until 12 days ago.

Twelve days ago I finally got what I referred to as a "not a rejection letter" when I called my mother to tell her about. An agent who I had queried nearly two months before finally replied with a request for a full! There was much happy dancing at this news. Finally, someone was at least willing to give my story, my baby, this manuscript I have loved with every ounce of myself for two years, a second look. I didn't get my hopes up, but it still felt great.

Now yesterday, I got the ending that is most common in this business and on this rocky road: another form rejection, though very politely written, from this agent saying this just wasn't for her. And that's okay. Am I bummed? Of course. Especially when I also got two other form rejections from other agents I'd sent initial queries to a few months ago at the same time.

But as the great Meg Cabot has said, "You're not a hundred dollar bill. Not everyone is going to like you."

Still, my 12 days of having a chance were great, and at least I had that. It's 12 more days than I had before, and maybe it'll happen again. In the meantime, I've taken a break from sending more queries for a variety of reasons, and I still write every single day. Maybe some day this particular dream of mine will come true, but if not, there are still many other ways I'm blessed and there's always room for hope.

So that's where my writing journey currently stands. I'd still love for you guys to check out my first ever short story, Exposed, which is published over on and is/was my entry for the Defy the Dark contest.

Until next time....

Friday, August 31, 2012

Day #8774 - Sharing a Story

I claim that this blog is all about my writing life, though I never really have much to report on. Well, that's about to change. But only slightly.

On the one hand, I'll say that I haven't been doing much in the way of querying lately. I was feeling a little beaten down about the lack of movement there, so I decided a break might not be a terrible thing. Then earlier this week, Queryland became less dreadful, but I'm being superstitious and don't want to jinx things, so I can't say more than that quite yet.

Something I am more comfortable with sharing here is a story I just finished! I entered the Defy the Dark short story contest - the winner will have their story included in the upcoming Defy the Dark YA anthology. While it'd be awesome to get there, for me writing a short story was such a fun experience that I really enjoyed just giving it a shot. My entry (and all the others) can be read over at, but here's a handy dandy link for you: =) I can tell you this story isn't quite like anything I've ever written before, and it was a great challenge to try something new. So yay!

That's it for me and my writing life this time. My other life as a librarian and employee at a high school is also in full gear now that the kids are back from their summer vacations. I can honestly say I missed them and it's good to be back. Never a dull moment, that's for sure!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day #8769 - August Favorite Things

In which I talk about a few of my favorite things from the month of August.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day #8764 - 23 Things

This Thursday is my birthday, marking the end of my life as a 23 year old 23rd year and the start of my time as 24. It's been a very, very long year to be sure. You know how Blink 182 famously sings "nobody likes you when you're 23"? Well, it feels like they sure hit the nail on the head with that one. It wasn't exactly a year I'll look back on with extreme fondness, but it was an undeniably eventful time. And so it is time for me to look back, search for the silver lining of it all, and come up with 23 things I did while I was 23.

  1. Finished graduate school
  2. Got my first "grown-up" job
  3. Made new friends at said job, young and young at heart
  4. Sent a manuscript out into the world for the first time
  5. Kept writing even though that manuscript didn't get the response I'd hoped it would
  6. Became a book blogger
  7. Met other incredibly awesome book bloggers, aspiring writers, and published authors
  8. Went to South Carolina for the first time, checking another state off my list
  9. Started making YouTube videos
  10. Joined a gym
  11. Chaperoned two high school dances and lived to tell about it
  12. Visited the Art Institute of Chicago for the first time
  13. Went on exactly one date...I think...I'm pretty sure it counted as a date?
  14. Joined the American Library Association and the Young Adult Library Services Association
  15. Took my Anglophilia to a whole new level when I started watching Doctor Who and Sherlock
  16. Helped direct two plays at the school where I work
  17. Saw my favorite musician in concert for the first time
  18. Went to two Chicago Blackhawks games (and they won both times!)
  19. Smiled on as several people I know got engaged and/or married
  20. Taught lots of lessons and did lots of book talks
  21. Went on adventures of various sizes in a variety of places
  22. Spent many hours amused by my dog
  23. Made it to 24
So those are all good things that happened this year, and thinking about the positives helps make the harder times a bit more bearable. Even still, let's all keep our fingers crossed that being 24 goes a bit better, shall we? =)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day #8749 - Citius, Altius, Fotius

When it comes to the Olympic Games, viewers seem to be divided into two camps: you either love them, or you're indifferent.

For those of you who fall into the second category, you'll be put out of your misery tomorrow when the games of the 30th Olympiad come to a close.

I, however, definitely fall into the first category. I don't really know how it happened - I've never been particularly athletic and the only sport I follow regularly is hockey - but I'm glad that it did. Every two years, I'm completely consumed by the Games. Athletes who have worked oftentimes for years to be able to compete on this, the most public and elite stage of them all. The pride that comes with representing their countries. The joys of victory and dreams coming true combined with the agony of defeat when sometimes it all comes down to hundredths of a second. Getting to learn about sports that often don't get a whole lot of attention, and getting insight into the culture of the host nation. I LOVE IT!

It's true that it all the coverage on can easily be a bit overwhelming. It also doesn't help when NBC continually plays 'background' pieces that by the end of the Games we've all seen a dozen times rather than show less popular sports or athletes from other countries. But at least in the digital age if you want to look into those things (like when my father was disappointed that they weren't televising the hammer-throw), you can usually find them online instead.

All in all, I've always found the Olympics and those who most of the participants to be admirable. I'm not saying I'm necessarily a fan of everyone there, but you cannot deny that to be an Olympian has required a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifices that those who don't share that same path could ever imagine. And the reactions the athletes have to the results speak volumes, too. Of course winning the gold medal is the ultimate prize, but Tuesday night I watched a women's track race where the girls who each won the silver and bronze medals were just as excited, jumping up and down, clapping with smiles from ear to ear and flags draped around their shoulders. No matter if a participant walks away from those games with a medal, they can go home and for the rest of their lives state that they are Olympians, which is an incredible accomplishment in and of itself.

Citius, Altius, Fotius. Faster, Higher, Stronger. These three words make up the Olympic motto. They are good words to keep in mind whether or not you are an athlete. They serve as motivation to keep going, keep pushing, keep trying. Words that we may not hear for another two years until the Winter Games take place in Sochi in 2014, but that doesn't mean their impact should lie dormant for that long.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day #8751 - Short and Sweet

It's been a trying summer as far as my writing is concerned, readers. My agent search and time in Queryland continues to drudge on. At least on that front I seem to be developing quite a thick skin - form rejections aren't any more welcome in my inbox, but I'll still take them over the more uncertain policy that some agents take with a general 'no response means no' policy. 

Also, earlier this week I read a blog post by one agent (who yes, rejected me) who said that she is much less likely to request pages or sign new clients in the summer because her attention span is shorter and she'd rather be outside. Unless she is totally and completely wowed while the sun is shining and the weather is warm, it's an automatic form rejection. So naturally, I started to freak out. I've put a lot of time and hard work into my manuscript and the many, many drafts of my query letter and now I find out that I'm doing this at the wrong time of year? Not exactly the best feeling in the world.

My current WIP wasn't exactly a place of solace and escape from this defeated feeling, either. It's hard to write well when it feels like everyone and their assistant is telling you that you actually totally and completely suck. (Okay, none of them have actually said anything remotely close to that, but it can feel that way when they respond with indifference and tell you 'no thanks, not for me, but good luck!'.) Add that to the fact that I'm incredibly hard on myself with my writing in the first place and this is a first draft so of course it's really rough, and there was a lot of negativity in the room. If I were a cartoon, I'd be walking around with a little thought bubble declaring DOUBT over my head, pannel after pannel.

What I needed was a change. Something completely different. I get ideas for novels, but I find myself lately getting caught up in the little points that keep me from moving forward even though I try so hard to remember to just focus on the bigger picture the first draft around. So right now, I've turned to short stories.

Now I haven't written a short story in years. We're talking not since maybe junior high, and even that may be a generous estimation. I certainly haven't read any short stories since then, and those were usually more canonical ones. But I think it's well past time to reintroduce myself to this form of storytelling, starting shorter with the bare bones and still writing an effective piece and build myself up to longer word counts to build my confidence back up. After all, writing is like any other skill you want to master in this life - practice, practice, practice. I'm currently reading the YA story collection Up All Night featuring authors such as Libba Bray and David Levithan, and I'm hoping this will help me warm back up to this medium.

So that's my writing life as of late. If anyone out there knows of good (YA) short story anthologies or good websites where people can post stories and get feedback, please let me know in comments! I'd greatly appreciate it. Until then, back to work...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Day #8737 - 50 Hours as a Red Head

A video explaining how the other day I was looking to make a change and I ended up getting a little more than I bargained for. By the time my appearance is back to normal, I'll have spent 50 hours as a red head.

And here's a picture because the lighting in the video doesn't quite do it justice:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day #8735 - The Write Spot

Location is just as important in reality as it is in your writing. It can be the thing that inspires long passages of incredible prose, bringing out thoughts and feelings that you can't even believe have been hiding within yourself this whole time, spilling words onto the page like a welcome rain storm.

Or it can be the very thing that cripples your efforts.

I'm finding that I need different things with each story I write. With my first manuscript, the one that I'm still agent searching for (no luck yet, but you'll hear it here first if that should ever change - keep your fingers crossed for me!), my writing spot was my bed. I have one of those sit-up pillows with arms, I perched myself on my bed by the window, and my story was born. For my second manuscript during NaNoWriMo last year, my spot was everywhere. I had a notebook that I made insane outlines in during my lunch breaks at work (or anywhere else when I found myself with a spare five minutes to think), and then I would come home and turn those notes into a story at my desk, 2000 words a night without fail.

But this time it's different. This time, when I sit on my bed or at my desk, my thoughts and those wonderful words I've been daydreaming about flee faster than a speeding bullet. And to put it plainly, it sucks. I want to write. I want to get this first draft of this WIP out of me so bad so I can go back and start revisions and tearing it apart again. But writing from home isn't working for me this time, so this afternoon, I grabbed my laptop and my notebook and I tried something else.

I found myself at the library of my earliest years. In a table in the back of the adult section, right next to a wall of windows and an electrical outlet, I was able to write more in two hours than I think I've been able to write in two weeks. It certainly wasn't Shakespeare by any stretch of the imagination, but it was progress nonetheless and so I welcome it just the same.

And this past weekend, I had some luck toying around with a sci-fi story idea that I've been kicking around since last fall but have putting off because I've been trying to work on other projects first. I was out at a park with my family and I started writing a background scene on my iPod touch, thoughts I've had for ages that I was finally able to get out without hesitation. And let me tell you, having two good writing days so close together feels Awesome.

So what's the moral of my story? Well, it's nothing revolutionary that you haven't heard before: if something's not working with your writing, don't be afraid of changing things up. No two stories or writers are alike - they may all require something different. And that's okay. Apparently for the time being, I can only write when I have outdoorsy things in sight that are not near my house. And maybe for the next book, I'll have to go some place else. We'll see.

And that, dear readers, are my thoughts today. To any fellow writers out there, I hope your WIPs and adventures in Queryland are going well. Let's stick together, friends. Someday, our words, agents, book deals, and publishing dates will come, but until then, keep on trying =)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day #8717 - A New Approach

It's been a while since I've written here, so I thought I'd fill the Internet in on how my writing and all that sort of fun stuff has been going lately. In short, there's nothing to report on looking for an agent for my completed manuscript - believe me, if that changes, you'll probably be able to hear me cheering from the rooftops!

In the mean time, I have my current work in progress (or WIP for those of you who like to use the lingo) and I'm finding that I've had to go with a new approach for this story than I've had to for any of my others. It's this funny little thing called "research" - you've heard of it before. While all of my stories in the last few years, this one included, would definitely fall in the "contemporary YA", this one requires me to roll up my sleeves and dig into a little bit of history. I'm putting my skills as a librarian to use, searching for what isn't exactly obvious information. I've even had to go to a few public libraries and check out actual books to find what I'm looking for.

It can be tedious and tiresome and I absolutely love it! Taking the time to do my homework with this story gives it something extra. It has been helping me make the world I'm building and the situation my characters are in that much stronger. So this is something my previous stories didn't necessarily need, but this WIP does and already feel like it's better for it.

I hope that you're all keeping out of this crazy insane heat and enjoying your summers! Take care!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day #8705 - Our Stories' Songs

While I have always loved books and the written word, I am also completely in love with music. I think the two actually go hand in hand. It's a different kind of writing to be sure, but both forms can move me in incredible ways and make me think. My appreciation for both also grew exponentially once I tried to learn it myself. I played the clarinet from 5th grade thru my senior year of college and I also play guitar (very slowly and with much room for improvement).

Music says the things I often don't know how to say, but that's why I try to use it as a tool to help me when I'm learning to write (because even if I do ever get published, I'm convinced that you never really stop learning how to do this). It should come as no surprise that I'm a huge fan of authors who let readers know what their "playlist" was - it's like a bonus feature, a companion to the story I've just gotten to experience, and it helps give me insight to a scene or the feeling an author was working to instill.

Plus, it oftentimes lets me know about great artists I may not have otherwise heard of. And I LOVE that. I especially love finding out about a musician and falling in love with their music before they're popular - it's one of those rare times when I feel like the trend setter =)

I've been finding that my playlists come together with my stories before, during, and after drafting. I may hear a song that sparks the idea for a story. I may be writing and want to capture that chord progression's feeling into the tone I'm trying to set. I may be editing and realize I want the dialogue exchange to bounce along the way that chorus does in a song I heard. Most recently, I added a song to my list because even though one story of mine is "done," I had to laugh because the lyrics perfectly fit with a situation my characters are in.

So sometimes songs tell us stories, but just as often I feel like our stories come from songs.

A few nights ago, I got to finally see my favorite musician, Eric Hutchinson, in concert, and it stirred up my very strong feelings on this topic. It was one of those shows where I kept pinching myself that I was actually there and singing and dancing along. His songs about situations that suck even make you smile, and that's something I love (and also hope my stories do something similar). And so today I thought I'd share the "playlist" for the manuscript I'm trying to find an agent for now. Maybe someday if I ever find representation and it gets sold and published and all that fun stuff, I'll share the reasons behind these picks (or maybe you'll see where they fit in when you read it!), but for now, just enjoy!

1. I'm Only Me When I'm With You - Taylor Swift
2. You Lie - The Band Perry
3. Over My Head - The Fray
4. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - Kelly Clarkson
5. Irrational Anthem - Plain White T's
6. It's Only Life - Kate Voegele
7. Sound of Your Voice - Barenaked Ladies
8. Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
9. Rock & Roll - Eric Hutchinson
10. Annie Waits - Ben Folds
*Bonus!* Watching You Watch Him - Eric Hutchinson

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day #8697 - Four Times the Fun

Last night I had the opportunity to go to a stop on the Fierce Reads tour at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois (my favorite independent bookstore which I declare my love for many, many times on my book review blog and Twitter). These events are really fun to me for a number of reasons, but I can tell that this one will stick with me for a few special reasons.

With Jenn and Leigh
I got to town a few hours before the event, meeting up with three other fantastic book bloggers, Heidi, Erica, and Lynn. We all grabbed dinner together and the conversation never stopped. There are no people quite like book people - our enthusiasm for stories and all that comes with them is boundless. It was the kind of discussion that other people may find crazy, but I couldn't have felt more at home or like I was among "my people."

With Emmy and Anna
And the good times just kept on coming. The event itself was a blast, featuring four authors: Anna Banks (Of Poseidon), Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), Jennifer Bosworth (Struck), and Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14). The event itself was a blast too. Even though it is the Fierce Reads Tour and many of these books have a bit of a dark side or edge to them, there were a lot of smiles to be had and laughter in the room. One aspect of it all that I found to be particularly fantastic is that all four of these incredible writers are debut novelists. As an aspiring writer myself who is currently building up quite the collection of rejection letters, it was great to see people who were once in the same position I'm in, and not so long ago. They still vividly remember how this part feels, and now their hard work has paid off. They're on their first ever book tour, answering questions, taking pictures, and signing stock. Their stories are finally out in the world and I can't wait to explore each and every one of them. We made jokes about the crazy road to publication and they even gave me hugs and words of encouragement to keep trying and querying and most importantly writing. I left with such a good feeling that even though I woke up this morning with another rejection letter sitting in my inbox, I was just able to shake that one off and get back to my story.

Then afterwards, I went out with some bloggers for ice cream. Talk about a perfect summer evening!

So thanks so much to the Fierce Reads Tour, to Anderson's for hosting an amazing event as always, to the bloggers who have welcomed me into their online community with open arms, and to the authors for sharing your stories with us, coming to visit, and just being completely kind and awesome. You all rock.

Bloggers Mentioned:
Heidi (YA Bibliophile) - Blog - Twitter
Erica (The Book Cellar) - Blog - Twitter
Lynn (Bringing the Epic) - Blog - Twitter

Authors Mentioned:
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon) - Website - Twitter
Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone) - Website - Twitter
Jennifer Bosworth (Struck) - Website - Twitter
Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14) - Website - Twitter

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 38692 - The Metaphorical Drawer

Sometimes people are lucky enough to get blessed with a story idea that is intricate and interesting and really has the potential to be something amazing. It could start out small and then grow in beautiful ways or maybe the idea comes to you full blown and you're more like a recorder, translating it from the movie screen in your head to the page in front of you.

And other times you get a story that's really good and you love the characters and the setting is something you really enjoy and the situation is interesting, but even though all the individual parts have amazing potential, when you try to put them all together, something's just not working and try as you might, you can't figure out where exactly it went weird or what you need to do to get things back on track.

Then, perhaps, the time has come to stick the project in the metaphorical drawer for a while.

This is the case I now find myself in. For the last several months I have been working on a story that I still believe has great potential, but for one reason or another, it's just not coming out right. I can see it in my head, but things are just off. So, it's drawer time for this one. I'm not giving up on it, or deleting it, or throwing it out and sulking about how much time I've wasted because that's just not true. It wasn't a waste, it was practice, and maybe someday I'll look at it again with fresh eyes and be able to breathe new life into that particular idea.

Sometimes, that's just the way it goes. In the meantime, I have a story that's been working its way up to the front of my head, demanding to be heard. I've spent a lot of time already "on the side" from my other story world building and getting to know the characters, and now they will have their chance to make the page and make themselves known to me. I'm excited, and hopefully this one will be a good experience too.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day #8685 - Dear 17 Year Old Me

With today being graduation day for the seniors at the high school I work at, I got to thinking about my own high school graduation and what I would tell my seventeen year old self if I could.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Day #8679 - Ode to Being an Amateur

In her commencement address to the University of Illinois graduating class of 2012, Cokie Roberts made the outstanding point that when people go around boasting that they are not professionals, it's actually doing a disservice to and diminishing the profession. Her examples were good ones - you certainly want a professional doctor helping you when you're sick, and if you're on a plane, you want a professional pilot flying it.

But there are some situations where I think there is a little something to be said for being an amateur. At least, there's no need to freak out or be weary if you are "just an amateur writer."

In the face of a growing number of rejection letters, uncertainty about the summer to come, and rising doubts about my writing and how to make my current story project perk up, I turned to one of my favorite books of all time, The Element by Sir Ken Robinson (click on the link to read the review I did of it on my book blog which continues to be my most popular post I have ever written). In short, the book is all about the importance of finding something you are passionate about, encouraging creativity, and how our current education system in the US stifles that which cannot be measured on standardized tests. Anyway, I was flipping through and rereading the portions I'd highlighted when I blissfully saw this passage:

The word amateur derives from the Latin word amator, which means lover, devoted friend, or someone who is in avid pursuit of an objective. In the original sense, an amateur is someone who does something for the love of it. Amateurs do what they do because they have a passion for it, not because it pays the bills. -The Element, pg. 210

I LOVE this sentiment, I do, and I could not have read it at a better time.

Would finding an agent and getting the manuscript I've worked so hard on for so long and completely believe in be awesome? Yes.

Would it be an amazing thrill for it to get published someday? Of course.

Is that the point of it all? Well, no. It's not. Not really. And that's the great part of me being an amateur. I write my stories because I love to do it, no other reason. I write because there are these fantastic characters bumbling around in my head and I want to get them down on paper so others can know them too. Am I the best at it? No, because I'm an amateur. I'm practicing, I'm trying, and every day that I at least sit down at the computer or with a pen and paper is a step in the right direction, no matter how small. I'm not saying the rejection is fun or that the current massive cases of writers block (really more like writers doubt) I've been pushing through have been easy, but I keep on trying without the pressure of deadlines or the expectations of trying to avoid the sophomore slump. Those come later and are self-imposed, but it all comes down to doing what I love simply because I love to do it, and for now, I'm good with that.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Day #8668 - Cause for Celebration

Two weeks ago today, I had my final graduate school class for my master's degree in library and information science, and this past weekend I went down to Champaign-Urbana for the ceremonies celebrating that fact.

I can understand why a lot of people choose not to go or have a dislike for the pomp and circumstance. They can run long or the speakers can be dull and the hats and gowns are expensive to rent (plus, let's be honest, they look a bit silly), but I am so glad that I made the trip and that I had my family by my side to celebrate with me. In the week between my last class and commencement, it didn't feel real or like anything had changed. I was still me. I woke up the next day and went to my job like I always do, but there's just something about standing up when they call on you, walking across that stage, and moving that tassel from the right side of your hat to the left that finally made the whole thing tangible - I dedicated myself to something, I accomplished this goal of mine, and I've even managed to make my family proud of me along the way.

My rejection letters from various agents continue to hang on the same wall that my diploma for my B.A. in English hangs, and once my new diploma for my M.S. arrives, it will join them. All of these pieces of paper represent similar things to me; they are evidence that I have tried. With all do respect to Yoda, sometimes all you can do is try. I worked my hardest, put my best self and my best work out there, and sometimes you get a rejection letter, but other times, you get a diploma which shows that hard work does pay off, and to me they are all things to be proud of.

I wish I had something more wise or profound to say than that, but I feel like my relief at not having homework for the first time in 18 years has robbed me of my vocabulary temporarily (which I need for my WIP!). Also, my commencement speaker Cokie Roberts said it all so well with a mixture of humor and grace that with our degrees, we now have no excuse for not contributing to the greater picture and giving back to the people and world that give us so much. I couldn't agree with her sentiments more.

I cannot emphasize enough though how NONE of this could have happened without the support of my family and friends. It's not everyday that a daughter springs on her parents that she wants to go to get her English degree/go to library school/be a writer/put them on the internet/explore a bunch of things and ideas they're less familiar with, but I'm so lucky that my parents have been nothing but supportive through it all. It means everything to me that they have stood by me no matter what, and I was so happy to be able to share my special day with them, my grandparents, my big brother, and my soon-to-be sister. I couldn't have asked for better company.

And so, I hope you enjoy the videos below chronicling my graduation weekend. Thank you so much to those who take the time to read this blog and to the family and friends who encourage me in my many (often crazy-seeming) endeavors - none of this would have happened were it not for you!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day #8654 - Another Chapter Ends

At 8pm tonight, I will be done with my master's degree in library and information science. The fact completely blows my mind. It means that my undergraduate graduation was already two years ago. It doesn't feel like all that long ago I was wrapping up a semester of student teaching at a high school in the suburbs of Chicago, wondering what the heck I could possibly do with the B.A. in English I had completed, and was still waiting to hear back from U of I to find out if I had gotten into the library school or not.

But I did. And there have been a lot of ups and downs during that time. I've gotten to explore this time-honored institution we all know as the library and I can more strongly appreciate the intricacies that build them into such awe-inspiring centers of knowledge and power. After taking cataloging, I'll never again take the complexities of assigning a Dewey Decimal Number and subject headings to a non-fiction book for granted. And thanks to taking such amazing classes like children's lit, YA lit, and adult lit, I finally started doing my own writing and have fallen in love with the incredible literature that is out there for teens right now.

My final course for all of this is LIS418LE - Community Engagement. Over the past 16 weeks, we've discussed what makes a community, what engagement entails, and each student in the class has given the opportunity to pick the topic of discussion for our final projects - a 30 minute presentation on a community or engagement initiative we are particularly interested in or passionate about.

Last week, I gave my talk entitled Teen Virtual Communities, the Positive Impact They Have on Adolescent Development, and How Libraries Can Help Support Them. I gave background and definitions and an explanation about how this fit into our class topics, and then I gave examples. Now not everyone in this particular class is on the school library track or involved in the YA world, but they were all blown away by the Vlogbrothers duo of John and Hank Green, particularly the various avenues of social media they utilize and the outreach that Nerdfighteria is so passionate about such as the Project for Awesome and the Foundation to Decrease World Suck. They laughed when I told them about Maureen Johnson and were impressed by the enthusiasm she expresses every day in her tweets and in her Ask Auntie MJ posts during NaNoWriMo 2011. They were also touched by Heather Brewer's devotion to bullying prevention and how she doesn't just write about it in her books, but also plans to host her own anti-bullying conference and is always there to support the Minion Horde.

The biggest compliment I got from my peers was that my enthusiasm was obvious, but I don't even feel like I can take credit for that. In library school, being a nerd is pretty much mandatory, and with such inspiring people like those I mentioned in my presentation and beyond (there are so many more I wanted to include, but darn those time limits!), how could I not be excited? I got very high marks on my research and presentation, and so thanks to the power of the nerd/YA/awesome community, I'll be finishing grad school on a high note. (Well, finishing my master's anyway. Who knows if a doctorate could be in store for me? hehe)

So starting tomorrow, I'll be a Librarian (in education if not in job title) and I can't believe it's finally here. There were a lot of days where I thought this would never happen, and I've never been quite so happy to be wrong. And none of it would have been possible without the generous support of my family, friends, and classmates. And also thank you to people who inspire me day after day to do more, try something new, dare to suck, be different, and to never, ever forget to be awesome.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day #8648 - What Comes Next

You know how I just wrote here yesterday about how I hadn't gotten a response to my first query yet? It turns out that I almost spoke too soon. This afternoon during my lunch break at work, I checked my email to see a response from the first agent I've ever sent a query to ever.

Dear Monica,
You call this a novel? Do the world a favor and just stop now. Please. 

Okay, so that didn't really happen, but I did get a rejection. It was just a standard form letter. "Dear Author, thanks but no thanks" kind of a feel to it. Very straightforward and polite enough. So I printed it out, it's now taped up on my wall, and then I went on to teach a class of juniors how to do geneaology research.

Seriously. That was it. I just moved on with the rest of my day, and now I'm at home figuring out my weekend plans.

You see, rejection and I go a long way back. It's like how The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is narrated by Death itself - the protagonist may not always be aware of it or like to think about it, but she and Death actually have quite a long and complicated history. And I know rejection very, very well.

Option number one is to take it personally, to cry and be hurt and get the jar of Nutella out of my desk and eat it out with a spoon while I let the self doubts take over because this thing which I care so much about isn't enough in the eyes of this one person. This is the option I would go to a lot when I liked a guy who didn't like me back when I was in high school and college. It's what I did when I auditioned for drum major of the marching band for my senior year of high school and out of four people going for three spots, I was the one who got cut.

Or there's option number two, which is to let it roll off my back and keep moving forward. To say that yes I tried and while it sucks that it didn't work out this time, who says it never will in the future? I just have to keep on trying, keep on writing, and keep on believing that good things come to those who wait. This is the option I go to when things at work make me feel completely defeated. It's my attitude when I go on a fantastic first date, but then never hear back from the guy for a second one.

Rejection isn't pleasant, but it doesn't have to be the end of the world either, and so I'm using this as a learning experience. When you get to the querying stage, you have to remember that you're making a transition from this being a hobby to this thing we do being a business. So I can't take it personally. I'm bummed, of course, but who knows what the future holds for me, right?

Thank you, though, so much to the people who have been continually supportive of me and my writing throughout this journey. To my family and my friends old and new, I couldn't do any of this without you. =)

Now I'm going to listen to this song, then get back to my new manuscript. Sounds like a solid plan, don't you think?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day #8647 - Progress Report

Well, blog, it's certainly been a while, hasn't it? Just thought I'd take a few minutes here and fill you in on what's been going on with me in the last few weeks since I posted anything here.

No news yet about my query, but I'm not surprised at all. Agents are busy people, sometimes getting a couple hundred queries a week. I just sent mine off at the beginning of the month. These things take time, and like I've said before, I don't have any grandiose ideas about what could be coming my way. On this front, I know that hard work, practice, and many years of dedication must be put in before the payoff, and even that's not guaranteed. But I'm good with that.

In the meantime, I have my new story. To be honest, it could be going better. To be really honest, I haven't been giving it the time it needs. You know I've said before that I thought Meg Cabot's advice to try to write a page a day (it doesn't necessarily have to be a good page, either, just as long as you're writing something) was brilliant and I was doing that? Well while that was true with my first two endeavors in novel writing, this time around I've let that get away from me. Work got a bit crazy there, and I'm now exactly one week away from being done with my master's degree. Since I will no longer have homework to do, that means more time on weekends and in the evenings for me to write.

And let me tell you, I am determined. Even if nothing ever happens with my stories, even if they end up being nothing more than really large files on my computer forever and ever, that's okay. I write because I have stories I need to write. The publishing would just be a really great bonus.

That, dear readers, is really the long and the short of it. Hopefully I'll have a more exciting post coming your way soon, but until then, here's hoping that life is treating you all well.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day #8623 - Here Goes Nothing...

Just sent a query letter to a literary agent for the first time!!! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day #8621 - Life Under Construction

I believe I am experiencing what the experts like to refer to as a "rebuilding phase" in a variety of areas of my life at the moment, but there's been a special amount movement in my writing life in particular.

For one, look at this blog. I'm playing around with my limited Photoshop skills to make a new banner that I don't hate. This one, while clearly off center and kind of ridiculous, is at least a step in the right direction. Construction is rarely pretty while it's going on, but as with writing, I'm just remembering that when it's all finished, it will be worth it. Trial and error is sometimes exactly what is needed.

But more about the writing life! Words cannot express how grateful I am that I finally seem to have found a critique partner that things will work out with. I wish I could fully express what a big deal it is. Sharing my manuscript with people is a big deal for me, and trying to find someone who can give me honest feedback on my work and allow me to return the favor with theirs is huge. The notes I've gotten have been hugely helpful and have helped me look over my story again with fresh eyes.

It has also boosted my confidence quite a bit. While life often hands us things we weren't expecting and it's easy to get downtrodden, I've decided that enough is enough. I could easily keep playing around with the intricacies of my manuscript for a very very  long time. It's not perfect yet. Even if it does end up published and on bookshelves around the country someday, chances are that it still won't be quite perfect. But I'm finally able to look at it and say that I'm ready to try the next step: querying for an agent.

I know I've been saying that for a while now, but trust me when I say that due to other events that have been taking place in my life as of late, I'm adopting a carpe diem attitude. The worst thing that happens is getting rejection letters, and I've reached a point where I can accept that they can (and, let's be honest, the probably will) come. Because it won't deter me from trying to make this the best story I can. And it won't stop me from working on my next Story Idea (nickname to be determined) and the idea after that and the idea after that. So I'll let you all know here when I dot my i's, cross my t's, and finally send out the incredibly terrifying First Query Letter EVER.

I hope you hang in there with me, readers. Hopefully this will be the start of a very big adventure. =)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day #8607 - Happy Unniversary

First off, Happy Saint Patrick's Day! My Irish ancestors would be remissed if I didn't start right off the back with that. I'm sporting green and my pale skin with pride today. Corned beef will be coming later.

Anyway, I've actually been looking forward to today for another reason. March 17th in my mind has been a date one year in the making. It was, to me, the date that I could start calling myself a writer because it was the day I started writing in my journal and have written an entry every day since.

Now this was not my first time in my life trying to keep a journal. I have quite a nice collection of carefully selected notebooks that, if all goes to plan, NO ONE WILL EVER READ.

My first ever journal is not among these. It was from junior high and upon reading it a few years later in high school, I was so mortified by my former self that I ripped all the pages out and threw them away. Not to say that some of the thoughts in the ones I've kept are gems either. The earliest on the far left has sporadic entries from my freshman year of high school, then the pink one has random acts of high school and college. Next, the brown one was specifically for my summer studying abroad in Italy. Then the green one, a college graduation gift from my aunt, was one the one that got me in the habit of writing at least once a week again. That is, until March 17, 2011 when I then managed to start writing every single day, even if just a sentence proclaiming that I'm not dead yet.

So today was supposed to be my anniversary and a cause for celebration. Except for one tiny detail.

Upon double checking, I learned it was actually March 7th, not the 17th.  Oops!

Honestly, I'm a little bummed I missed it, but at the same I think it's a good thing that I did. I think it shows that writing has become such a part of me that it goes without saying, that it is as much a part of me as eating and breathing and all those other things we need to do to live. And now I really feel like a writer because I have done A LOT of writing in the past year in a lot of ways and forms, and my only wish is that I'd found this wonderful thing sooner.

In other writing news, I think Summer Project from last year is finally in a position where I'm comfortable with sending out query letters about it to agents and whatnot. So if you happen to be reading this, keep your fingers crossed for me, eh?

So there's a lot to be thinking about on this sunny Saturday in March. Happy Saint Patrick's Day, Happy Unniversary, and just think happy thoughts!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day #8590 - Taking a Leap of Faith

Hey there, original blog of mine! Did you miss me? I know I've been incredibly neglectful as of late (and that's putting it lightly), so allow me to fill in some of the gaps as far as my writing adventures are concerned.

.... yeah....

It's been going that well. Or really, there's been that little time. I know, it's a poor excuse, but there it is. Between work, two grad school courses (one of which ends next week - hallelujah! My degree will be all done come May), and starting up my book review/ramblings blog last fall, I kept finding new reasons not to work on my own writing when I did manage to have a little time here and there.

In a word it comes down to one thing: fear.

Grappling with this manuscript of mine and all of my many hopes and dreams for it are the closest thing I know so far for what it must have been like when my parents sent me off to college. This story is my child, my baby, and I want nothing but good things for it. I've painstakingly worked it, given it to a few others I trust along the way to help me shape and mold it, and now it's time for me to find it a place where it can continue to thrive and become the best possible version of itself before going out officially into the world. I need to find an agent who loves it as much as I do and wants to see it succeed.

But then come the doubts. What if it's not ready? What if I'm not ready? What if I'm blinded by my love for it but it is actually a festering pile of crap that no one has had the courage to admit to my face because they know I've worked so long and tried so hard? These thoughts plague my mind as I work on query draft after query draft, trying to find the right words, but the thought that I should be focusing on is the one that always manages to get smaller and meeker: what if it's great?

To query and take that next step requires a tremendous leap of faith, not just in your story but in yourself. I'm not a glass half empty person, but I have accepted that there's a very real chance that I'll get nothing but rejections. It happens. In the meantime, I have started work on a new story in the last week that has been growing and growing in my mind and in the margins of my notebooks for quite a while now. And I also have my NaNoWriMo draft from last year that I could revisit if I so choose. There are plenty more stories to be told and to try my hand at; I just have to believe in myself and that things will work out in the way they are meant to.

So happy leap day, blog readers of mine. I hope your February 29th has been a memorable one and I can't wait to see what life is like the next time this mystical, wonderful date comes around again.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day #8551 - In the Still of the Night

Being a life-long resident of the midwest, I have a complicated relationship with snow. Now I love winter. I love getting to wear layers and hats and scarves, it's hockey season, and it's the one time of year where people don't give me funny looks for being cold (unlike in the summer when I usually wear jeans until temperatures get above 75). Yet I must admit there are things about the snow that I'm less than in love with, mostly automobile related. Nothing says "fun" quite like having a long day at work and then having to scrape off my car and driving five miles per hour to get home, knowing full well I'll be doing the same thing the next morning.

However, at this time of night, I just like to forget that part. The wind and snowfall have stopped, and as I look out my window onto my street, it's bathed in the yellow glow of the streetlights and several inches of powder. The only sounds are my fingers hitting the keys - there aren't any snowblowers or plows out right now and the sky is a beautiful color that my eyes can't get enough of. It's as if the night sky is a deep blue silk and someone has laid a sheer gray tule over it. Regal is the word that comes to mind. The tree out front has looked so sad and barren since it lost its leaves a few months ago, but the branches now feel like they have a purpose again as they are gently covered in a white dusting, bright against the bark.

I like to remember moments like this when I think I hate winter because I couldn't hate this part if I tried.

It gets the creative juices flowing, that's for sure. Summer Novel continues to be a project I love and I've been having fun working with the characters and story in a post-first draft way. Slightly more exciting though is that I spent time this afternoon sketching out a new idea that's been slowly growing in my brain for the last few months. I find that every story I write has come to me in a slightly different fashion. With Summer Novel, the first thing I knew was the setting but it was years before I knew who was in it. With my NaNoWriMo story from last year, I built it around a character who I already knew wasn't the protagonist, but had a huge impact on the protagonist. And now with this one, I've known the characters for quite some time, bits and pieces of information about them have been accumulating in my brain inspired by many different things, but I'm still learning how these people's lives intersect and what their story is. But for the first time, I was able to get a rough sense of where they're taking me, and it's an exciting feeling.

And so, I remember another perk of being overwhelmed by snow on the weekends. No work means no having to scrape my car, which means more time for playing and writing. Keep warm and best wishes!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day #8535 - My Other Life

Sometimes, being a writer makes me feel like I have multiple personalities or like I'm leading a double life, except that both of my lives are perfectly aware of the other, yet they still fight for my time and attention.

My days are like this: I wake up, go to work, come home, grad school it up, read, blog, write, sleep, repeat. By day, I'm a library teaching assistant, an "adult" in the eyes of the high school students I work with as I help them find books, figure out how to print things, and remind them that it's a library and not a gym. I love working with this age group and I really enjoy the amazing feeling that comes with talking to a teen about the amazing book they just read and seeing their eyes light up when they find something new on the shelves to enjoy.

Then when I come home, I'm the student as I'm about to enter my final semester of graduate school before completing my M.S. in library and information science this May. I have homework of my own. I also have a mile high stack of books I want to read for fun, the blogs I enjoy reading to find out what else is out there and what fellow bibliophiles like me are up to, and then, last but far from least, is my own writing.

I'll admit, Summer Novel (code name as such because I wrote it last summer) is in pretty good shape. I'm afraid of reopening November Novel for the time being, but I do have this brand new, shiny, fabulous idea that's been floating around in my head ever since last fall that I'm itching to start working out. Plus, on top of all of that, I really want to start making something happen with Summer Novel and putting it out into the world, even if it means the plethora of rejection letters that the blogs of published authors have warned me will probably come (but they warn me in the nicest possible way!) The only problem with this fabulous plan is that there aren't always are never enough hours in a day.

Long story short, it comes down to prioritizing and choices. I'm lucky that I've become pretty good at juggling these various personas, and I just remind myself that all of them are vitally important to making me, me. Grad school will end in May. I have nights and weekends. And even if nothing happens with Summer Novel or any of my other stories, it's okay. Despite the fact that I think it would be awesome, wanting to be published isn't the reason I write, nor should it be. I write because it's something I simply need to do, there's no other way to put it.

So to my peers out there, remember, whether or not we have an agent or a contract, we still ARE writers. I have to believe that if it's meant to be, with a lot of hard work and a whole lot of luck, our time will come.