Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Political Rant, Because, Hell, I'm Angry.

A few minutes ago, my grandfather, who I often choose not to speak to for a plethora of reasons, sent a group text to myself, my sister, cousins, and aunts and uncles.  We're all democrats.  He worships Trump, a fact that he loves to flaunt. The group text told us all to calm down about Trump because he is making the right decisions for our country that other leaders could not accomplish.  He said to relax. He said Trump is making our country more safe and more productive.  No one had texted him. He started a group message out of the blue just to let us all know that he thinks we're wrong. The first response was from my cousin, who said, "Who is this?"  Many of us do not have his phone number because frankly, he's an ass. You always hear "respect your elders," but why should I respect someone who has no respect for me, or the people that I love, and who never showed me that he cared for me or many of my other family members.  My grandfather's actions are a symbol of many of the other actions being carried out in our country.  A lack of respect for others, a lack of perspective, and a lack of understanding. Don't tell me my opinions are wrong.  Don't tell me not to be concerned, because I am concerned.  Don't tell me to calm down and relax, because the last thing anyone should be is calm or relaxed.  What is going on is not okay, and telling someone their opinions aren't valid in this challenging time for many, is simply inexcusable.

And on that note, here is a list of things that make me happy:

1.  When my cat snores and snorts.  My cat is quite the character.  We think he might have some nasal problems because when he breathes in deeply, he does a cute little snort like a pig.

2.  Coffee.

3.  The kids I teach musical theatre to. This week during improv, a little boy crawled across the floor and shouted, "Leapin' Lizards!"

4.  Books.  Not just reading books, but just being in the presence of books makes me feel better.

5.  Traveling.  There's nothing quite like being somewhere new for the first time.

6.  Long drives with good music.

7.  My other cat.  He's really fluffy.

8.  Harry Potter.  If it got me through middle school, it can get me through anything.

9.  Sweaters fresh from the dryer.

10.  Writing.  Writing can do amazing things.  It can help you escape.  It can open doors to brand new worlds. It can help you process things.  I have never felt happier than I have while writing.  Even if writing ultimately does not end up being where I have success, I know that I will always have it for my own personal outlet and enjoyment.  And that's not something anyone can take away or try to invalidate. (I'm looking at you grandpa).

Experiment #4

        Lydia ran as fast as her legs would take her.  She could hear her heart beating in her ears.  Ten minutes.  The grass of the hillside flattened with every stomp of her foot.  She had to reach it in time.  She couldn’t get stuck here.  Not today.  She stopped for a moment, breathing hard.  She had to be sure she was going the right way.  There was no time to spare.
And that’s when she heard footsteps quickly getting louder and louder from behind her.  “No.” She groaned.  She thought she had lost them back at the castle.  How long had they been following her?  She threw herself into the bushes, hoping they could conceal her enough for the guards to pass by without noticing her.
They ran into Lydia’s view, but they didn’t seem to notice her.  There were at least ten of them.  They looked around for a moment and mumbled orders to each other.  Then they pointed and headed east.  Lydia let out a sigh she hadn’t realized she was holding in.  She pulled herself out of the bushes and tried to think of where to go.
She was headed towards the abandoned bridge, but her route went east, the way the guards went.  She ran towards the forest, she would just have to go east as well, but stay as hidden as she could. Lydia dodged branches and leaped over exposed tree roots.  The sun was setting faster than Lydia could run.  Five minutes.
She reached the edge of the forest and paused.  She looked to her left.  There it was, the bridge, her way back home.  And scattered across and in front of the bridge were the guards that had been following her.  She looked at the sun again.  It was now or never.  She had to get to the bridge.
Lydia brushed back her blonde curls and pulled her sword from her belt.  She charged the guards, hoping somehow, this wouldn’t be her end.  Filled with doubt, rage, and desperation, Lydia fought with all of her strength.  She dirtied her blade with the blood of the men who had thought her weak.  Four remained.  Her training had paid off.  The sun sunk more and more each second.  There was no time.  She pulled out her locket and opened it, releasing the force that it held and knocking the remaining guards to the ground.  Ten, nine, eight…
She jumped over the bodies of those she had slain and raced to the edge of the bridge.  Seven, six, five…
She threw herself over the edge into what should have been water, and felt a bolt of energy as she ripped through the fabric of time. Four, three, two…
Lydia landed hard, feeling the air escape from her lungs.  She looked up dizzily. The faces of her friends looked down at her.  Logan extended a hand to her, “Well? Did you get it?”

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Word Count Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!

What am I working on?

A while ago I had an idea for a novel.  It's basically a YA novel with fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction aspects. The book is called Mary, Queen of Scottsville Academy.  I don't want to give too much of the plot away because it's partly a mystery, and it's something I would eventually like to try to get published, so I'll try to briefly explain it.  Mary Stewart was sixteen years old when she first arrived at Scottsville Academy.  As if starting at a new school as a sophomore wasn't bad enough, it was her first time in America in ten years, and everyone was gossiping about her. Scottsville Academy was a school for the children of America's most elite politicians and leaders.  Elizabeth Todd, the current president's daughter, was the queen of the school, that is, until Mary challenged her for the throne.  Mary faces danger, mystery, and the trials and tribulations of high school. Mary knew she wasn't completely normal, but what she discovers about her true personality, and the events of her past, will change her life forever.  Long live Mary, Queen of Scottsville Academy.

The main character is based on Mary, Queen of Scots(which brings in the historical fiction aspect).  I might post some chapters later on.

Total word count: 5,900
I wrote 1,169 of the 5,900 on Monday.

How do I feel about the process?

I've had my characters and some of the plot and details solidly thought out  for a while, but I had been struggling for months to come up with the main conflict for the novel. On Monday I finally figured it out.  Once I figured that out, I was able to plot out the rest of the novel(I'm a plotter).  I feel like I need to do a little more research, but for the most part I feel like I'm ready to really get into writing it. I think I'll try to get a few chapters done a week.

What am I reading now?

I'm currently reading Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

and various history books about Mary Queen of Scotts and that time period.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Poorly Drawn Map, Thoroughly Thought Out Idea

So, this is my poorly drawn map. Even though my art work isn't the best, this experiment helped me envision the setting for a novel idea I've been working on for a while.  The characters in my novel go to a private academy for children of the politicians and leaders of America.

In the country side of the north of Vermont there is a gated piece of land surrounded by a clear blue lake.  If you were to turn off of the main road and onto the winding dirt road lined with trees, you would be on your way to the academy.  Just before the intricately designed iron gate, the trees thicken, hiding all of the gate and what lies past it, except for the entrance.  The gate opens only for the cars that have been cleared with security ahead of time.  Just behind the gate, there is a small building where all visitors and students must check in.  Once you have checked in, you are permitted to park in the paved drop off circle.  Only teachers can park in the lot near the academy (which I forgot to draw).  Parents or guardians dropping off students are only allowed to park in the drop off circle for a few moments, to avoid interrupting the learning experience.  There is a cobblestone path leading to both the academy and the Dormitory.  The academy is a grey stone building with ivy clinging to its walls.  There are two immense oak doors to the building.  Students can take the cobblestone path from the academy to the dorms.  The dorm building was built with the same grey stones, but its windows are lined with drapes of the colors of that floor's grade.  The first floor has sage colored drapes, the second has sapphire, the third has crimson and the fourth has amber.  There is a garden surrounded by hedges behind the dorms. The garden is used by students as a place to study in the spring and tended to by the environmental science class.  There is a bridge on the lake to a security base.  Students are often found lingering on the bridge on sunny days.  The security base is a small brick building on a wooden deck built on the lake.  Security guards survey the surrounding area from the base.  The land is green with grass and a sprinkling of trees. The edge of the land becomes rocky as it turns into a shore of the lake.  Swimming in the lake is not advised outside of swimming lessons.  The rowing team uses the lake for practice.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Confessions and Other Things I'd Like to Forget

When I was little, my mom would tell me and my sister crazy stories about her childhood.  I’ve heard countless other stories from more family members, so I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a book of short stories about the outrageous things that have happened in many of my relative’s lives.  I have about 17 interesting stories I want to write out so far and I decided to post some of them on my blog.  Since a lot of these stories occurred before I was born, I have to fictionalize them a little, but they are all based on real events.  Here’s the first one I decided to write.
This is a story about my Grandmother and my Mother.  I will be writing from the perspective of my mother.

Mom was in a bad place.  Well, I’m not sure I would really call it a bad place, but I wouldn’t call it a good one. 
Ten months had gone by since Dad and Mom got officially divorced.  Mom spent seven of those ten months dating Rob.  My mother ran a dance studio in the Valley and Rob was one of her students.  One day, I guess Rob just caught Mom’s attention.  Don’t get me wrong, he was cute and all, but there was just one thing between Mom and Rob that really made me cringe.  Mom was almost 50.  Rob was 23.  I was 20.  So you can see how this situation would make me feel a little strange.
            I mean, seriously, I could have been dating Rob and it would have made more sense.  I had just recently gotten out of a relationship myself that sent me from my dream situation living in New York to this nightmare that was my mother’s love life.  And to top it all off I was living with her, in the boring Valley where I grew up, . . . and with Rob.  
            “Lou,” mom calls me Lou, “Rob makes me happy.  I know you might not get it, but after Daddy, I just really need a nice guy who is going to treat me how I deserve to be treated.  But kindness aside,” she leaned in and lowered her voice to a whisper, “the sex is great!”
            Yeah.  Not exactly something you want to hear from your mom, but that was the kind of thing I heard even before Mom and Dad got divorced.  Where are our boundaries you ask? What boundaries? What does that word mean?  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it before. 
            And then Rob walked into the kitchen in his underwear.
            Rob and Mom’s relationship ended as quickly and as intensely as it had started.  Mom was a mess and my siblings and I had to pick up the pieces.  But before we could do that, we had to pick up mom’s stuff from Rob’s.
            A few weeks before the breakup, Mom found love letters that Rob had written, but they weren’t to her.  They were to another girl from the dance studio.  He wrote about how she danced, how the line of her leg reminded him of a warm summer’s day or some crap like that. 
            Mom and my siblings and I tried to figure out who the letters were for.  Rob had been dancing with a girl name Leah for the recital, so she seemed like the most likely choice for his love.  One thing seemed off, however.  Leah was only sixteen, which meant that she was seven years younger than Rob.  But Mom was convinced it was her.
            A couple days after their breakup, I went to Rob’s apartment to pick up some of Mom’s things.
            I parked my car in front of the pale grey walkway, feeling as uncomfortable as I usually did around Rob, but this time it was at his apartment.   I shut my car door with a slam and started towards the door.  I tapped on his door lightly, waiting for a response, but hoping for none. 
            Unfortunately, the door opened with a creak and revealed Rob’s floppy red hair and porcelain skin.  “Hey.”  I said awkwardly.
            “Hi Laura.”  He gave me a warm smile and I found it odd that he was so normal in such an awkward situation.  He led me through the door and I stepped into the living room timidly, hoping this would be quick so I could make it to a movie with my best friend Karen in a few hours.
            “So, how’ve you been, Laura?” he sat casually on a stool by his counter.
            “Uh, I’ve been fine, just, you know, cheering up Mom and everything.”  I shifted nervously, wishing this would be over soon.  I had hoped we could just skip the small talk and get to the boxes, but it seemed Rob had other intentions.  Maybe he was trying to get back with Mom, but I didn’t get why that meant he would need to chit chat with me.
            “So, Laura,” he started, I wondered why he kept saying my name, I knew what it is, “There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”
            This could not be weirder. “Um, okay, I have to get going soon though, I have something at two.”
           He ignored my excuse to leave and continued, “There’s another reason why your Mom and I broke up.  It was never right, but there’s another reason.”
            “I’m sure she would be interested to know what it is, you should give her a call.  Are these the boxes?”  I walked over to the few boxes lying on the ground and picked one up.
            “Your Mom doesn’t need to know.  Only you do.”  He took a step closer to me.
            “I’m not sure I get what you mean.”  I made an effort to avoid eye contact with him, looking to the boxes to make sure I didn’t miss anything. 
            “I’ve been writing these letters, love letters actually,” for the first time since I arrived, he looked away from me, down to his feet, but I didn’t feel any less uncomfortable, “I’ve been writing the letters to you, Laura.  I’m in love with you.”        
            Take a moment to vomit or scream if you need to, believe me, I will.
            So right about now you might be thinking, “That’s bullshit.  This has to be made up.  It sounds like a soap opera.”  But this is the cold, hard truth, as much as I wish it wasn’t.
            Naturally, I dropped the box onto the floor with all of its contents and dashed for the door, not paying him a second glance.  This was a man who had been involved with my mother!  Who had had sex with my mother!  And now he was in love with me? It doesn’t get much more twisted. 
            Rob called me a few times after that day, I never answered.  My brother and sister went back for the boxes.  I told Mom a few years later about Rob’s confession.  How we didn’t see it coming, I’m not sure, but I’ve tried to block out the whole thing as much as I could. 

            Usually having an older, attractive, and talented guy interested in you is a good thing.  Usually seeing a hot dude in his underwear in your kitchen is a good thing.  And usually having someone confess their love for you is a good thing.  But never when it’s your Mom’s rebound. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Children's Story

Penelope Jones - On the Case
  The Mystery of the Little Blue Room
Penelope Ann Jones was not your typical five-year-old.  She was a brilliant detective with two heroic sidekicks, Thunder and Lightning.  Thunder was a fluffy grey cat with the attitude of a moody teenager and the smarts of a grownup.  Lightning was a turtle.
For as long as Penelope Jones could remember, her father had read her stories about a clever detective who could solve any mystery, with a trench coat, hat, and magnifying glass to help him.  With each story, Penelope learned more and more about solving mysteries and even started to read on her own.  Now, at the wise age of five, she was about to solve one of her own mysteries.
About three months after Penelope’s fifth birthday, something strange began to happen around the house.  People would come and go, bringing her parents gifts and words of advice.  The gifts were always placed into the little blue room at the end of the hall that was always locked.  And what was this room for? Penelope did not know, but she was going to find out.
“Thunder, Lightning!  It’s time to investigate!”  Penelope threw on her best detective outfit, her blue raincoat, hat and boots.  She would have asked her parents what the room was for, but they were out and only her babysitter, Claire was here, watching something simple on T.V.  So she would have to solve this one on her own.
She grabbed her magnifying glass and notebook and dashed for her bedroom door, ready to solve the mystery of the little blue room. “We need to start with a clue!” Penelope thought aloud, “I know!  Everyone who has visited mom and dad left a note.  Let’s find one and maybe it will lead us to another clue!” 
So Penelope and her trusty sidekicks hurried to the counter to find a note.  Well, Penelope and Thunder hurried, Lightning, being the turtle that he was, took a little longer. And sadly, all of the notes were gone!  Thunder licked her paw with a frown, clearly very disappointed.  “I’ve got an idea!” Penelope exclaimed and ran from the counter.
And there, just where she guessed it would be, was a crumpled up note on the top of the trashcan.  “A clue!” Penelope shouted to Thunder and Lightning.  They looked at her and blinked to show their excitement.  “Let’s read it!” 
She began to read the note out loud, “Dear Henry and Lucy Jones, We have left you this new blanket and some cookies and wish you the best of luck! Love, Julie and John Peterson.”  Penelope wrinkled her brow, feeling very confused.  “A blanket and cookies! But why? And good luck with what?”  Penelope felt very lost, but she had one more idea.
“Maybe the cookies will give us a clue!”  She rushed to the cookie jar, but it was just out of her reach!  “Thunder, Lightning! This is your moment! I need your help.”  She lifted up her fluffy cat, who greeted her with a growl.  She placed the cat on the counter and then the turtle with a thump.  “Lightning! Push the jar towards me, and Thunder knock off the lid when it’s close enough to the edge and I’ll catch it.”
The cat sprang into action while the turtle went as fast as he could, which was not very fast.  Twenty minutes later, Lightning had the jar at the edge of the counter and Thunder knocked off the lid with a swish of her tail and a flick of her paw. The lid flew into the air, tumbling right towards Penelope!
She caught it just before it reached the ground.  “Good job!” She helped Lightning off the counter while Thunder jumped down.  Once her sidekicks were safely back on the floor, she reached her hand up to the jar and pulled out a cookie.
“It’s blue!”  She gasped, “The room is blue too!  What could it mean?” She placed the lid back on the jar and went to push it back into place, but just before she did, something next to the jar sparkled in the sunlight.  “What’s that?” said Penelope and she reached for the shiny mystery object.
She pulled it off the counter and it was cold in her hand.  She looked down at it and jumped with excitement, “A key!”  In her hand sat a little golden key and Penelope had a wonderful feeling that this key could unlock the answer to the mystery.  “Let’s see if it opens the door to the little blue room!”
But as she dashed towards the room, her babysitter stepped into the hall, blocking her path.  “And just what do you think you’re doing Little Penelope?”  Claire looked down at her with a smug face and Penelope knew her plan was ruined.
“I was just going to investigate.  You see, I found this golden key on the counter and I think I know what it opens.”  Penelope said timidly, holding the key out for Claire to see.  “Oh, you do? Well that’s just great Little Penelope, but children should not have such small objects.  I’ll take that.” 
She swiped the key out of Penelope’s hand with a grin. “Now, why don’t you stop all of this silly investigating and go and play with some dolls.”  Claire whirled around and walked back into the living room to continue watching her show. 
“Play with some dolls?!” Penelope exclaimed to Thunder and Lightning, “What does she think I am? Four?” Penelope was very annoyed, but even more determined to solve the mystery.
Thunder let out a frustrated sigh and threw herself onto the floor. Lightning stared at the wall.  “I know, this does make things harder for us,” Penelope began, “but just because I’m a kid and you’re my pets doesn’t mean we can’t solve mysteries! Let’s go! I have another idea.” 
Penelope led her trusty sidekicks to her parent’s room.  They searched and searched through drawers and closets, trying to find something from one of the gifts to give them a clue. 
“Oh boy Thunder and Lightning, this room is a mess!” and Penelope was right, there were piles of clothes on the floor and drawers open all over the room. “We didn’t even find a clue!”  And just as Penelope said those words, Claire walked in. 
“I thought I told you to play with your dolls!” She bellowed, anger spilling off of her like milk spilling off of a counter, “Look what you’ve done! Clean all of this up and go to your room and don’t come back out until dinner!”  Claire slammed the door behind her, leaving Penelope and the pets to clean up the mess.
“Gee, teenagers sure are mean.  Give me a hand cleaning this up and then we’ll figure out a new plan in my room.”  Thunder hit things under the bed with her paws, Lightning used his teeth to put clothes back into drawers and Penelope picked up everything she could and shoved it into the closet.
Once they were back in her room, Penelope had a new idea.  “My dresser is right under my window.  Lightning, give me a boost and I’ll get on top of it and climb out, follow me!” So she stepped up on Lightning’s sturdy shell and climbed out her window and into the backyard, her sidekicks not far behind.
They walked along the yard, careful not to be in the view of any windows so Claire would not see them.  They stopped at a little window. “Now, give me a boost again Lightning, and I’ll look into the window of the little blue room and see once and for all what is inside.” 
She stepped on the turtle’s back once more and Thunder jumped onto the windowsill.  Penelope gasped with joy at what she saw!
“A crib!  Thunder! Lightning! Don’t you know what this means?!”  Thunder flicked her tail, waiting for an answer.  Lightning chewed on some grass.  “I solved the case! We’re getting a new baby boy!  And I know just what to do!”
They snuck back into her room and spread out papers and plates of paint and worked on a wonderful surprise for their new baby.  Thunder walked through the paint, leaving little rainbow paw prints on every piece of paper.  Lightning chewed on a blue piece and Penelope painted the letters.
“It’s done!  Let’s hang it up by the door! But we have to be quiet or Claire will be furious!”  They snuck into the hall and started to hang up their surprise banner.  Penelope heard footsteps in the hall! But it was too late to sneak back to her room!
“Little Penelope! What are you doing now?!” Claire looked down at Penelope with a scowl and she looked taller and more evil than anyone Penelope had ever seen. 
But just before she could tell Penelope to go back to her room, a key rustled in the lock of the front door.  The door flew open and Penelope beamed with glee.
Her parents and an adorable baby boy stood in the doorway.  They looked at her surprise and smiled, but quickly looked down at her with confused expressions. The sign she made said, “Welcome home baby boy” but they hadn’t told her about the baby. “Penelope!” said her father, “How did you know? We wanted to surprise you.”
Penelope winked at Thunder and Lightning.  Thunder brushed her head with her paw, giving Penelope a salute.  Lightning blinked.  “Penelope Jones, on the Case,” said Penelope triumphantly. 
And not only had she solved her very first mystery, she had gotten a baby brother to share the fun with.  “What do you say, Jack.  Want to be my assistant?”
     Jack gurgled in agreement.  Now she had sidekicks, an assistant, and two very proud parents.  And Penelope knew her detective career was just getting started.