Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Couple Poems

Alas, my sister is demanding to get on the computer (the only one in our house with Internet capabilities), so I shall use pre-written materials. Let me know, as always, what you think!

*listening to: Merchant of Death from Iron Man soundtrack, which came out yesterday. Contains amazing guitars*

*is excited that Iron Man is coming out soon and has potential*

*is also excited that Speed Racer and Prince Caspian are coming out*

*is wondering if anyone else blogging likes action/adventure movies*

*is hoping lots of people will comment*

*is shamelessly borrowing Anilee's one-sentence posting tactics*

*is finding it lots of fun*

*is craving chocolate*

*is craving vanilla frappuccino from Starbucks more*

*is trying to work up the courage to post her query letter*

*is hoping people will either encourage or discourage it*

*is enjoying this*

*is being threatened with death if not off the computer soon*

*is begging for five minutes*

*is denied with fierce scowl*

*is skipping awful Alicia Keys song on iTunes in favor of Race Wars by BT (electronic)*

*is sighing, and saying hasta la vista*

*but not baby*


Just like a spark it comes and fires in my mind,
A single flame that falls from space and rests upon
My thoughts. It touches down and lights a flame, does start
A little burn. I stop right there and listen as
The flame begins to speak. Sometimes it talks of lands
That do not yet exist. And some days it will tell
Me of new people, kings and beggars, girls and boys,
Computer geeks and cops. Sometimes I sit and hear
This, fanning flames into a blaze, but oft I know
I do not have the time. So on those days I let
Real life extinguish the idea. But now and then
It speaks insistently; I hear and smile, and write it down.

Shallow Pots

So bloom! She said, Where you are planted for
If not you’ll wither quick. The novelty
Of being new will only shade you for
So long from sun of loneliness and sighs.

The soil is too hard, I whined, the ground
Unyielding still. The people do not see
Me; I am like a potted tree that is
Not flow’ring bright for bees to see and come.
I’ve been here for a year and yet I do
Not belong still. This place is not for me.

She looked askance at me, her shaking head
To tell me how she disapproved of that.
You answered it yourself, my dear, when said
That you’re a potted plant. Those trees, you see,
Have roots that do not grow. To be in life
And live and love and laugh, you must break out
Of shallow pots, and struggle through the rough
And rocky soil ‘til you find the soft
And tender ground that’s somewhere underneath.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thoughts on Writing, Authors, and Publishing

I read TIME Magazine at lunch - specifically, the article on Stephenie Meyer. Now I am reminding myself of Shannon Hale's advice (found on her website): don't envy other writers. I don't know that I envy her, necessarily. It has become one of my goals as a writer to someday be interviewed by Time. The writing, ninety-five percent of the time, is crisp, displays a sterling vocabulary, and dependent on author, a fair hint of snarkiness.

One of the things in the article I found interesting was the comparison between the Twilight series and the Harry Potter series - or rather, the writers' styles. J.K. Rowling 'pieces her story together detail by detail' (not the exact quote), while Stephenie Meyers lets hers gush out. She wrote Twilight in three months. I suppose that means there's hope for me - I wrote my second novel of three-hundred pages in five weeks, she wrote a five-hundred page book in three months. Hers started with a dream; so did mine. Except I waited a month to start writing it because I wasn't sure if the concept was too strange.

Speaking of books: Percy Jackson 4 comes out in a week!! Yes, the reading level isn't abnormally high, but these books are pure fun. Rick Riordan spins myths into modern-day legend in a way that can only be labeled genius. If you haven't read any of these books, get thee to a library. I wish I could be in Austin for the opening day (I know this is the wrong term but bear with me). My fam will be in Austin two weekends in a row. However, they are the two weekends after the release. *sigh*

Agents: my next topic. I've been investigating a host of agents, cruising their websites, checking out their clientele. Some of these author lists are downright intimidating. I mean, how'd you like to say, "Oh, yeah, my agent is also Stephenie Meyer's (Shannon Hale's, you pick the name) agent"? A little scary, but why not shoot high? I'm not getting my hopes too high, though. I don't doubt that I can be published someday, but I don't want to over-excite myself.

Related to agents: the query letter. For my first novel I wrote a long query (two pages) and a long synopsis (read: five pages of torture). Thankfully or not, most agencies want one-page query letters, and some want the first two (five, ten) pages of the manuscript. That is good, because I can't make myself grind out another five-page synopsis. I'm not superb at summarizing, and when I read my synopses, I don't know if I"d buy my book. Hooray for one-page query letters! I never thought I'd say that either.

Your thoughts on Stephenie Meyer/Rick Riordan/publishing? Besides to lambaste me for never actually reading any of the Twilight series? *cringes in expectation of reprisal*

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I'm not overwhelmed with an abundance of time (I've looked at my watch five times in the last half-hour), so I'll post a short story I wrote for an essay contest. I played around with present tense, something new for me. It was fun to write - let me know if it was fun to read!

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

I view mirrors like the wicked queen in Snow White did. Not only do they tell me I’m not the fairest in the land, they also point out each flaw. The build that makes Olive Oyl look downright curvy. The gumdrop-nose. The family of acne inhabiting my dreaded T-zone. The tooth-pick sized scar above my left eyebrow.

And the glass fiends do all this without speaking a word. I can only imagine what they’d say given voices. Did you stick your hair through a blender and add ketchup? Were you born with eyelashes, because I don’t see them! Doesn’t it suck to have a sibling that’s so gorgeous?
I turn away from the bathroom mirror, face hot as though I actually hear the mirror mocking me. How is it my fault my hair’s naturally the color of Heinz? Or that Mom refuses to take me to a hair salon, insisting she can cut my hair just as well for free?

My watch informs me I have ninety-four seconds to reach my next classroom. Geometry class equals David Carlisle, scourge of my life. I groan and shoulder my backpack, running for the stairs.

I slink through the door behind Brandon, who shields me from view. Soundlessly, I drop my backpack and slide into my back-row chair. David isn’t in his usual place. As I scan the room, I realize he isn’t here.

The too-loud voice sounds from the hallway. “Hannah! What up?”

I hoped too soon. I rest my arms on the desk and lay my head on the cushion they form.


Mrs. Hadley strides toward the door, cocking an eyebrow at David. The toes of his black Nike Shox sneakers are six inches from the doorway. “You’re late.”

His shoulders sag, and his chin tips up. His dark brown eyes melt into golden retriever mode. “Come on, I only would have been in like ten seconds late.”

“You’ve been ten seconds late a lot. Late is late. Go on to the office and get a tardy.”

David glares at me like I had something to do with it. I stare at the whiteboard, memorizing the assignment written in green marker, all caps.

Ten minutes later, David skulks around the back, plopping into the seat next to me. Guys as a rule cannot whisper, but David is an exception to most rules. “So, what color is your hair today? Fire Hydrant Red? Candy Apple?”

I can’t count the number of ‘red’ remarks he’s come up with over eight weeks. I look at my notebook as I pencil in the formula for 45-45-90 right triangles. Afterward I draw one, insert a value for the hypotenuse, and solve. Geometry comes naturally to me. It might be my penchant for drawing. I don’t think my doodles are that great, but they keep me occupied.

“Hey, Olive Oyl, have you eaten anything in like, the last month?”

I feel my jaw tightening.

“I mean, you make those trees out front look hefty.”

The trees mentioned were planted three weeks ago, and are as thick as my wrists. I begin sketching a Serpenski’s Triangle. At first it’s one large equilateral triangle. I draw another triangle dead center, forming four smaller equilaterals.

“Are you deaf, too?”

I continue sketching until dozens of tiny triangles fill the original. Mrs. Hadley calls on me. I regurgitate an answer from the textbook, and she moves on. David’s right. I’m ugly as original sin, but he doesn’t have to rub it into my face.

David quits for a moment to scrawl the equation on the board into his notes. As he bends over, Blake catches my eye. He sits on the other side of David. Brow furrowed, he glances at me, then at David, then back.

I half-smile and shrug, like David is just an annoyance.

Blake lifts an eyebrow but returns his gaze to the teacher.

Mrs. Hadley pauses mid-sentence, blinking. She plants one hand on the board, smearing the cosine angle of a triangle.

Rose pipes up from the front row. “Are you okay?”

An uneasy feeling squirms in my gut.

Mrs. Hadley nods, slowly. “Just dizzy for a minute.” She clears her throat. “As I was saying, the leg opposite…the…the ninety-degree angle is…” Moaning, she melts to the floor.

Rose shrieks in unison with half the class.

I stand, jolting my notebook off the desk. “Mrs. Hadley?”

She’s shaking now, uncontrollably, like every muscle in her body is cramping at once.
I’ve seen this happen before. It’s a grand mal seizure. I glance around. Almost everyone is freaking out. I run to Mrs. Hadley’s desk and grab the phone, punching 9-1-1. I look around for someone sane. “Jessica! You and Mark hold her still. Make sure she doesn’t hit her head on anything.”

The emergency operator picks up. “Yes, where are you and what is your emergency?”

“I’m at Stony Park High School, and my teacher just went into a seizure.”

“Alright, what room?”

“1423,” I say. “Go past the check-in desk and take a right at the second hallway.”

She asks for the teacher’s name and other form questions, like if Mrs. Hadley has a pulse (yes), is breathing normally (no), if she’s still shaking (a little). A few minutes later, she assures me help is coming, and to call immediately if anything changes. I hang up, an odd glass wall of serenity surrounding me.

Blake has posted himself by one of the doors to keep panicked kids from running out. He smiles at me. “Quick thinking.”

I nod absently, peeling off my long brown coat. “Jessica, put this under her head and just keep telling her she’ll be alright.” I head for the door.

“Where are you going?” says Blake.

“Out front.”

The ambulance arrives a few minutes later, and I guide the paramedics to the classroom. The principal is now present along with the secretary. I slip into my usual veil of seclusion and grab my backpack as the bell rings.

David tails me. “Hey, nice going, Oyl.”

My contentment vanishes. I feel rage rising to a boil.

“So, how is it that Sarah looks so different than you? I mean, she looks like she’s sixteen. Are you adopted or something?”

I spin, feeling tears pool in my eyes. “You know what? I am adopted. My real parents left me at an orphanage when I was three and told the director they didn’t want me because I was too expensive and too ugly.” My throat starts clogging. “Because I was so skinny and red-headed and not the poster American child.” I feel tears dripping from my chin. “I get it, I’m ugly and my adopted sister’s perfect. So just leave me alone, okay?”

David’s face blanks. With horror, I realize Blake is standing behind him, gaze fixed on my face. I turn and hurry off, pushing toward the bathroom even as Blake calls my name.

I avoid speaking until I’m walking toward the locker room, so I can change for swim practice. I’d rather curl into my sofa and tune out with my MP3 Player.

Blake steps in front of me. “Hey.”

“Hi,” I mutter.

“Are you okay?”

I shrug.

His eyes narrow. “Look, David’s just a jerk. Just ignore him.”

“I can’t! He sits there and blathers on and on about how hideous I am, and it’s true!”

“No, it isn’t! Since when did your face put a value on you as a person?”

I stiffen. “Because that’s what everyone looks at.”

“Not everyone. For crying out loud, you just helped Mrs. Hadley get help because you stayed calm when everyone else was freaking out. Do you think she’d rather you be a beautiful bubblehead?”

“That’s different. She’s a teacher.”

“I don’t care what you look like. I mean, you’re a genius with math, you can draw amazing stuff, and you’re compassionate.”

I gawk, wondering if I’m hallucinating.

“Besides, you’re a Christian, right?”

I nod slowly. “Yeah?”

“Remember that one verse? Man looks at the outside appearance, but God looks at the heart.
You’re God’s child.”

I am? I am! The implied meaning begins to emerge.

Blake smiles. It’s a cute little smile. “So that’s where your value comes from. Not from eyelashes or makeup or whatever else you think.”

“Wow,” I say. “Just…I don’t know. Still, doesn’t outside appearance mean something? I mean, that’s what all these girls look at.”

The smile vanishes. “Yeah, it is. Ruth went into the hospital yesterday because of it.”

I frown. “What? Why?” His sister possibly fits the ‘beautiful bubblehead’ label.

His face becomes somber. “Yeah. We found out she was OD’ing on laxatives and diet pills
because she thought she wasn’t pretty enough or thin enough.”

I know girls who threw up regularly to be Ruth’s size. “That’s crazy! She’s already practically perfect.”

“That’s my point. So your best features aren’t looks. Big deal. You’re talented, and that’s a lot more than I can say for a lot of girls in this school.” He flushes a little. “Besides, you have nice eyes.”

I feel my face heat, but in a nice way. “Really?”

He nods, stepping back. “Yeah. Well, I gotta go.”

“Yeah, see you later.” As he walks off, I reach up and touch the corner of my right eye. Is it possible?

The next day, I’m in the bathroom again. My hair’s still red and cut at weird angles, and my complexion hasn’t cleared. The mirror starts talking. You think Blake likes you? Get a grip. You’re so ugly it’s –

I square my shoulders and look the mirror – at myself – dead in the eyes.

Man looks at the outside appearance.
God looks at the heart.

I narrow my eyes at the mirror. “Shut up.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Sorry for the serpentine sound of the title. You might have guessed, I'm juiced. Why?

On March 12 I began a novel. My second one, in fact. Today, April 17, five weeks later, I finished it. Do you know that feeling when you finish something monuentous like that? The adrenaline buzzing in your veins? The desire to squeal, screech, or scream in happiness? (Wow, I'm on a roll with my S alliterations :-)

I'm also sad though. I LOVE these characters. They're just so real. Almost as if I didn't create them. Sometimes I think stories are more than they seem - that is to say, they're real in a way. Living. Occasionally, howling in my mind when I write it wrong. Is that just an instant of my weirdness, or is this a phenomenon all fiction writers experience?

Anyway, I can't believe I only have two weeks of school left from this Monday, and that the next time I'm in a college classroom, it'll be full-time, and I'll be living on campus. Wow. Deep breath. It's like standing on the edge of a forty-foot cliff, looking down at the water, readying myself to grab the rope swing and fly out. Except the effects will last a lifetime. (Come to think of it, if I landed wrong and broke my neck, that would last a lifetime too. But when I did this in real life, I didn't break my neck).

Oh yes, and Thursday night my university is hosting a dinner for the Honors College students. So I get to meet a lot of other HC students. It's exciting - we'll be the first class of Honors College graduates. Although, I have to say it'll be a little weird, being around a bunch of people who are roughly my age. It's never happened before, except at my sister's high school where I tutor...and that's another post.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I Have Returned!

Hola, my fellow bloggers! I'm back from D.C. I didn't finish the novel - but I couldn't have more than twenty pages left. (Yay!) Like Anilee commented, I would have loved to take my laptop and write on the National Mall (substitue Thomas Jefferson Memorial or similar location). However, I was traveling with my dad, and I'm not sure he would get it. Don't get me wrong - I love my dad, and we get along most of the times, but there are some more ethereal things I can't explain to him without sounding sentimental and/or stupid.


Tuesday was freezing - of course, this was the day we did a Segway tour. I didn't pack enough clothes. The evil breeze disregarded my fleece, and the clouds refused to budge. Nevertheless, zipping around on a Segway was worth it.

Wednesday: warmer and sunshine. I think we walked about five miles around town. Seriously. We ate at a Mexican restaurant called 'Rosa Mexicano' (any Spanish speakers out there who can explain why it's Rosa Mexicano instead of Mexicana? I can't figure it out). Despite the grammatical confusion, I had the best enchiladas suizas.

Oh yeah, did I mention I'm off wheat, dairy, and peanuts for the next month? Trying to eat around that on the trip didn't quite work. I tried. I really did. But sometimes there wasn't enough non-gluten, non-dairy food for fuel. When that happened, I tore into the forbidden food. I forgot how good bread tastes. But now I'm home, and back on the diet. *sighs*

I did note one thing: chocolate is not on my blacklist. Heh heh.

I read a great book on the trip that I haven't seen reviewed - I'll do that soon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Crazy Life

So. I noticed I haven't posted in a while. That may be due to several things:

1. Realizing in four months I will not be living with my family. Possibly ever again.

2. This is kind of exciting.

3. The wonderful Miss Erin whom we all know and love posted about novel goals. I'm not feeling up to finding the link, but a lot of you posted goals. Mine was to finish my second novel by June.

I almost have. The only thing is that it isn't the novel I was thinking of. The one I thought I'd finish was already 200 pages or so. Basically there. Then I made the mistake of starting another project. You know, just putting it on the computer so I wouldn't forget it.

That was March 12.

Today's April 7. I've written 50,000 words, 200 pages, and the thing that astounds me most - have not hit writer's block once.

Don't be jealous and leave nasty comments. Please. This has never happened before and I'm still reeling. I'm going to Washington DC this afternoon, with my laptop (my friend, my confidante), and will probably finish the book there. So cool. I LOVE DC. There's something special about being able to complete a novel there. Or is that just me?

I wrote it (am writing it?) in third-person, from two points of view. Usually I stick with first-person, but I needed another viewpoint, and I don't do first-person from a guy's POV so well. Oh, yeah, and I actually have a title. This is amazing, considering I have an overabundance of book ideas but stink at titles.

So that's my life right now. Oh, yeah, that and I've decided I hate stairs. I ran a 5K race this Saturday, and kicked it in hard. My calves hate me. They feel like rocks. Sookie would agree, being a fellow runner. That reminds me - at a track meet a couple weeks ago, I saw the Lumberjack team! (Please, tell me I remembered the mascot correctly. I know it was the same school). So, Sookie, should you go there and decide to run for their team, we might actually meet at a Houston-area track meet someday!