Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First Day

That bimbo.

I narrow my eyes at her but she pays no heed. Of course not. She’s too busy – glowing, gloating, gleaming. Bright eyes dance as she laughs, the sort of cutsy laugh girls who laugh like me hate and envy. And I do hate it. The way her hair falls back into place, in that gorgeous-messy tousled manner I cannot achieve. Messy just looks… messy on me.

There she is, charming the boys. My boys! And it’s as if I don’t exist! I stand to the side while they make googly eyes at her.

“Kennedy didn’t tell me she knew so many guys!” she says, her voice a delighted giggle, all coy and feminine. “Nor did she warn me you’re so cute!”

While she flutters her lashes, I fear for my breakfast. If I hurl, I plan to do it on her. Just aim and blow, right on her toes. Even more disgusting is how they eat it up, like they’re starving. And I know they’re not, because Aislian isn’t the first girl to flirt with them. Gross. I’m almost ashamed of them.

I don’t think it can get worse.

“Had I know, I may have dolled up a bit!”

And then it does. Now, I’m really certain I’m going to vomit. Annoyed, I grab Aislain’s arm. There’s no time to waste and I need to get rid of her as quickly as I possibly can. No way do I want to hang around and listen to her fish for compliments, while my boys assure her that her hair is perfect (because it is) and she looks amazing (because she does) and that there’s nothing wrong with her (she’s practically flawless). I hate when girls do that – look good and know it and fish for compliments. Appalling.

“We have to go to the office.” My teeth are gritted. I don’t want to be late to Bio because someone can’t stop flirting long enough to get her damn schedule.”

Aislain opens her mouth to say something, but I give her arm a jerk. I ignore the boys as I drag her away. Their heckling calls of “No fair, mother hen!” and “You’re so overbearing!” cause a lush of heat in my face, but all I offer them is the bird.

How dare they. I’m not the one who was making a fool of myself, now am I?

“Nice friends,” Aislian purrs once we are out of ear shot. “I didn’t expect that from you.”

I don’t say anything. Instead, I square my shoulders, as if this will block out her presence. Tiny though she is, this attempt fails. I continue to drag her through the congested halls. People part ways, like the sea, as I march through. A feeling of satisfaction fills me as Aislain stumbles over herself to keep up. Still, I mull over what she said, in that chirpy voice of innocence and hot anger boils in my stomach. What in the world had she meant? She didn’t expect me to have friends? To have nice friends? To have a group of guys with whom I’m friends? Is this her passive-aggressive manner of calling me ugly? Of expressing surprise that a girl like me could be friends with a group of males?

Next to dainty Aislain, I feel massive and gangly and I remember why I don’t like to be near girls like her for long.

The office is contained within glass walls. We can see straight in, to the secretaries behind the counter. Beyond them are doorways and two hallways at either end. A few students mingle in the office, talking with the three secretaries. I recognize one, Kensie Ollivieri, a senior dating the rather cute office aid. Every morning, she hangs around with him until the last minute. She cannot see my roll my eyes at her back, but Ms. Teller, the kinder of the secretaries, does. A secretive smile forms on her face and she waves me over.

“Kennedy Way!” she greets, her tone enthusiastic. “What brings you in today? You weren’t absent yesterday… Oh! It’s your sister, isn’t it?” Realization has dawned on her and she seems to peer around me.

At once, I thrust Aislain forward while Ms. Teller shuffles through papers and folders in front of her. Aislain stumbles against the counter, pressing her palms to the counter to hold herself up. I fight a smirk.

“Ah, yes, there we are,” says Ms. Teller as she pulls a manila folder towards her. “You are… Ay…slan…?” She purses her lips, struggling to form the right pronunciation.

Aislain pulls herself a whopping, erect 5’2” and lifts her chin. “Aiz-len,” she corrects. “Like maze. Aislain Ward, thank-you.”

This is my cue. I don’t bother to say good-bye to Aislain, though Ms. Teller calls one to me as I push through the door.


The Bimbo can deal. Ms. Teller will sign her a guide, preferably one of the geekier ones, and we’ll be rid of her. She’ll no longer be my problem. Then, I can wander through the halls and pretend I don’t know Aislain and everything will be normal again. This is fantastic. Everything is working out.

Simon joins me en route to my locker, falling into stride with me, and I feel a rush of gratitude that he was missing earlier. It’s stupid to feel possessive but he’s my oldest friend and I can’t bear to see him fall under that girl’s spell. Sharing was never my strong suit.

“What’s up, Grumpy Gus,” he greets.

I snort. “Good morning to you, too.”

A bag of donuts is in his hands like every morning. He withdraws a simple glazed ring and passes it to me. Beneath the waxed paper, it’s still warm, the glaze gooey to the touch. Perfect. Simon never fails me.

“Any reason you look particularly murderous today?” He leans against the locker beside mien, a chocolate long john already in his mouth as he peers over at me.

I say nothing and instead shrug as I open my locker, comforted by our routine. Even though I say nothing, Simon hovers, watching me as he chews on his donut. Though I feel my earlier annoyance melting in his presence, I find myself now feeling uncomfortable. While life-long best friends has its merits, it also has a few drawbacks, in the form of nothing being a secret.

It is impossible to switch anything in or out of my locker, so I devour my donut instead, standing in the open door of my locker. As I do this, Simon nudges me out of the way and pulls my Bio text book from the locker. My gratitude is merely me lifting my brows, surprised by this act of chivalry. He pays me no heed.

“Now you can’t say I never did anything for you,” he teases.

It’s not that chivalry isn’t Simon’s way. He opens doors for people, waves other cars through four-way stops during his turn, opts to carry the heavier of bags for his sister when they bring in groceries. And it’s not that I’ve never been on the receiving end. In fact, I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that even prickled me, so I say nothing and just laugh at his joke. After all, I’m sure it’s what he expects.

And just like that, everything is good again. Aislain is at the very back of my mind, where she belongs, and Simon isn’t under her spell and soon the boys will forget. I’m counting on this. After all, most girls come and go. I wipe my sticky fingers on my jeans, then feign wiping them on Simon. He jerks away, bumps me with his hip and then slams my locker door closed in retaliation, and everything is right. We make our way to Biology together, a dark weight lifted.

Monday, October 11, 2010


A gentle breeze stirred through the limbs and the leaves rustled together, a soft whisper which stirred through her hair. It was absolutely perfect, she thought, and she adjusted herself on the limb which she sat on, her back against the tree trunk. Robin’s foot dangled just above and to the side as he lounged on a limb higher than she. With a wide smile on her face, she sighed, content.

“I love to come here,” Antigone confessed, as though Robin had no idea. They all but shared a mind, after all. “And it smells so fantastic!”

Sweet strawberry, heightened by a sharp citrus, prickled her nose in a rather ticklish manner as she took in a deep breath. Many scents wafted – the earthy smells from the nutty trees, and the various fruity scents and floral blossoms. All mingled in the air but up here, in the citberry tree, the fusion of strawberry and citrus was strongest and her chest swelled and filled with it. If it was possible to bottle and stopper this scent, she gladly would have.

“We should move up here,” said Robin, leaning over his limb to grin down at Antigone. He wore a toothy smile, reminiscent of the days when he was eight. “We can pack up our belongings and come up here. Maybe put together a pull and levy systems to get the big things up, like blankets and pillows.”

Antigone giggled, delightfully amused by his proposition, no matter how far-fetched it may be. It would be lovely, she mused, to fall asleep and wake every day to the sweet, tickling scent of the citberry tree. But it would so uncomfortable! Though she was perfectly content for now, she knew better than to think she could ever stay in the tree longer than a few hours. As if it sensed her thoughts, the pink leaves of the tree brushed across her cheek – a gentle, faintly tickling gesture to remind her how much she loved it up here.

“If only we could,” Antigone finally said, craning her head to catch a glimpse of Robin. He’d settled back against the trunk, one leg stretched out before him, the other propped up, arms folded simply in his lap. Robin’s sense of balance was far more developed than hers and she envied this about him. Adorned in dresses or heavy skirts, she could never simply rest the way he did and even if it wasn’t for such, she could sit perfectly still and yet feel as if she was about to lean off to one side or the other. Back pressed firm against the trunk, her fingers dug into the soft bark on either side of her to cling to the limb on which she rested. “Unfortunately, Robin, I dare point out we are not birds and thus, we nest in homes. Safe from the elements and in comfortable beds.”

Robin snorted. It wasn’t a derisive noise but one induced by humor. A scuffling above her alerted her attention to him and she watched with bated breath as he moved around, positioning himself forward on his belly, arms and legs dangling. Wide eyes watched for any sign of slippage, and when she realized he was stable, she released her breath and reached up towards his hand and slipped her fingers between his, entangled at the finger tips. A content sigh washed over her lips – this, she thought to herself, was simplistic perfection: the most tantalizing scent in the world, the best view in the kingdom, and one of her best friends in the universe.

Their following silence was comfortable. Above her, Robin’s rhythmic breathing stirred leaves together as the gentle breeze wove in through the branches and twigs. Loose tendrils of her hair danced around her face and she didn’t bother to bat them away but instead closed her eyes and listened. Birds sang in the distance and she wasn’t sure, but she thought she heard the faint chirping of a squirrel. Robin had a point, though. The location was perfect for sleep and, if it weren’t for the fear in the back of her mind, reminding her of falling to her doom, she could have easily dozed.

Fortunately, Robin broke the silence, and her sleepiness dissipated at once.

“Did you hear Bevony’s marriage has been scheduled?”

Antigone had not. Interest piqued, she looked upward at Robin’s sleepy face. His messy hair fell over the curve of his cheek and down the nape of his neck. He didn’t seem to mind, though, and paid it no heed as he swayed his arm, fingertips still gripping her own.

“Mmmhm. One month from now, yet another of our friends shall be wed.”

“But she is only fourteen!”

Antigone was aghast, despite the typical age range for marriage spanning from thirteen to sixteen. Often, once one was betrothed, hardly more than two years would pass before the two would be wed. The case, of course, exempted Robin and Antigone, both of whom had been betrothed since before their birth yet remained unwed at thirteen. Not that either of them complained, mind. As an unmarried girl, she was quite content to carry about with her lessons and running amuck through the Court with Robin and Ellie and Scooter. Once married, she’d not have such liberties and her job would to be stay home and cook and clean for her husband, and other horribly homey, horribly boring things she was not yet enticed by.

It wasn’t that she wished to never marry. That was Ellie, who refused the idea with contempt and disdain. She was proud to were pants like a man and to clop around in heavy boots. In fact, she climbed a tree much better than Antigone, whom had been taught by Robin while young. This was one of the reasons Antigone most loved Ellie. Ellie absolutely was her own person, spirited and liberated of any expectations of a “proper young lady”. In her own way, Antigone supposed, she, too, was. After all, soon, she and Ellie might be the remaining unwed females of their friends!

“I do not understand why you are so shocked,” murmured Robin, a grin in his voice. “After all, will that not be you and I soon enough?”

The girl scoffed.

“Why ought we rush it? We have so long ahead of us, haven’t we? Years and years and years. And already, we share our free minutes with each other. How different will it be after?”

A wicked grin on Robin’s face told Antigone what he wasn’t saying and a flush colored her cheeks a faint pink. Freeing her fingers from his, she swatted at his hands and he laughed, her favorite rumbly laugh. Nevertheless, warmth spread throughout her, a sort of current in her belly. They would have a future together. There was no reason to rush towards that just yet! Antigone was more than content to remain a child.

“What if something should happen to either of us? Before, I mean,” inquired Robin.

A chill doused Antigone and she froze, eyes on the boy above her. The look on his face was so serious – as it often was when Robin set his mind to thinking deeply – and it also rather terrified her. Whatever was going through his mind, she had no desire of knowing, because the way his brows knit and his lower lip jutted out told her his mind had run away.

Re-clasping their fingers, she gave them a squeeze and offered Robin a reassuring smile.

“Do not even think that way,” she scolded him, her stern voice gentle. “No harm shall come to either of us. Or Ellie, either! It shall be us three forever, I can promise you that.”

A wan smile tugged on the boy’s lip. “Oh, drat. Smelly Ellie shall be here forever?” The groan in his voice was fake and Antigone knew it. “But that is not a promise you can make and readily keep, Antigone. We are not in control of ourselves or our futures or what happens to us.”

“No, we are not. But our futures have been decided so far! I shall marry one of my best friends in the world! And we will be happy together and spend a long life with each other. Is that not what you think of when you ponder the future?”

Without warning, Robin swung down onto Antigone’s limb, prompting a shrill cry from her. He seemed unphased by it and lowered himself into a sitting position and straddled the limb precariously.

“That is the only future I will imagine,” he promised her, jaw set as his intense gaze met hers.

Then, before Antigone could react, he leaned forward, pressed his lips against her forehead and swung down from the limb. Playful laughter followed him and he called over his shoulder “Hurry up, slowpoke!”

Drabble Prompts

The REAL rules of Drabbles states that you write 100-words drabble based on the prompts given. This is why I call my longer pieces “one-shots” or “ficlets” - because they’re much longer than a conventional drabble. I’m thinking of doing a series of drabbles, as well, though. I’ll post them here and if any of you guys want to use them, feel free to.

(I totally stole some of these off of my friend Ama, hehehe! <3)

1. Complications | 2. Collapse | 3. Indifference | 4. Union | 5. Forgive |
6. Tingle | 7. Lottery |8. Memory | 9. Dream | 10. Touch | 11. Rain |
12. Snow | 13. Cave | 14. Tears | 15. Anger | 16. Love |17. Hate |
18. Funeral | 19. Child | 20. Beginnings | 21. Middle | 22. Ending |
23. Holiday | 24. Cooking |25. Sandbox | 26. Hello | 27. Goodbye |
28. Crackers | 29. Panda | 30. Tingle | 31. Skinny dipping | 32. Square |
33. Sunrise | 34. Sunset | 35. Broken | 36. Fixed | 37. Disease | 38. Read |
39. Treasure | 40. New Years | 41. Birthday | 42. Puddle | 43. Midnight |
44. Starry Sky | 45. Annoy | 46. Hope |47. Missing | 48. Hungry | 49. Queen |
50. King | 51. Heart | 52. Diamond | 53. Joker | 54. Water | 55. Flower |
56. Agony | 57. Birth | 58. Forever | 59. Bride | 60. Sometimes | 61. Sparkle |
62. School | 63. Beach | 64. Truth | 67. Lie | 68. Chocolate |
69. Quintessential | 70. Masquerade | 71. Awkward | 72. Insomnia | 73. Friends | 74. Enemies | 75. Lovers | 76. Stranger | 77. Good | 78. Bad | 79. Ugly
| 80. Beautiful | 81. Disenchanted | 82. Finally | 83. Spring | 84. Winter
| 85. Summer | 86. Autumn | 87. One Year | 88. Pickle | 89. Wind |
90. Danger | 91. Safety | 92. Lightning | 93. Lost | 94. Found | 95. Rebirth |
96. Writer’s Choice | 97. Writer’s Choice | 98. Writer’s Choice |
99. Writer’s Choice | 100. Writer’s Choice

Monday, October 4, 2010


“I don’t bake,” is how Crickette responded, her voice flat, brows furled.

I disregarded this, waving my hand as if to wave away such a nonsensical comment. “Everybody bakes,” I informed her, before I twirled away. My lunch break was up and for the past few days, I’d been late back to work after lunch. Needless to say, my boss was becoming less and less lenient about it. “I’ll see you after work!” I called to her in the sing-song voice I knew grated her nerves. As I pushed through the door, my last glance at her included a teasing Chance, laughing and jibing something I couldn’t hear.

Satisfied, I hummed and swung my arms as I crossed the street. The more I worked here, the more I had come to not only appreciate but to really love downtown. It felt like its own town in itself, with the old apartment buildings and the newer apartments and the cafes and the pizzeria and all the fantastic shops and the old buildings and the modern styled buildings and the people. Groups of people trickled down the sidewalk, sidestepping each other as one came in the way of another. Apparently, people came from all over the area – who would have thought it? Not surprisingly, today was gorgeous and therefore, the district bustled with people. Before I went back to Pomegranates, I watched two boys chase each other, weaving around light poles and groups of people, through little families, and I laughed to myself, reminded of a distant memory, of a distant friend existent only within my mind anymore.

I was more than okay with the busy, though. I know for a lot of people, it’s a big deal, because there’s less time for gossip and dancing to the same pop hits repeated over and over on the radio, but I didn’t mind. The more smoothies I made, the closer to home I was. Also helping was probably the fact that I continuously reminded myself that every minute counted towards a larger paycheck. Money is very motivating in itself.

By the time I’d mixed the last of the strawberry banana smoothies, I was the first to untie my apron, beating Mariette Miller to the punch clock for once. Either something was wrong with her brain or I was really on the ball for the day, because Mariette Miller made a point to making it to the punch clock first every shift she worked. But Mariette didn’t have a Crickette buddy more than willing to escape if she didn’t hurry, either.

Purse in hand, I darted across the street, out in front of traffic, shouting and more than likely unheard apology as I leapt over the curb and onto the sidewalk. An old lady with a bulging paper bag side-stepped me and I swung open the door to PWNd, a triumphant grin in place as my eyes found Crickette who was still behind the counter, talking quietly with Chance. When she looked up and spotted me, she sighed heavily, and I laughed.

“How did you get out so fast?” she groaned as Chance parted with her to greet a customer.

I merely grinned, the sort of cat-who-got-the-canary grin and sidled over toward the counter where she stood. “Guess I’m just really excited about cookies,” I told her.

I knew Crickette well enough to know baking cookies wasn’t exactly the sort of pastime she was regular at with Drima and Theo. I also knew well enough Drima was the sort who would refuse to bake cookies and Theo had never considered it. And while maybe Crickette was right and she didn’t bake, that could easily be remedied. Fear of doing something simply because you didn’t do said something was kind of silly, I rationalized, and I wouldn’t let her cop out with such an excuse. Baking itself wasn’t really fun without somebody else and I picked Crickette. She needed to get out and do more things, anyway.

Resigned, Crickette punched out and cast one last withering look towards Chance. He merely offered her a rueful grin and a thumbs up as he followed us out of the chilly store, into the heat of the street. Goosebumps rose on my skin and I ran my hands up and down my arms to attempt to warm them away. Once I was satisfied, I reached for Crickette’s wrist and enclosed it with my own fingers, giving her a tug.

“Tell your little friend good-bye, Beetle Bug, we’re on a mission!” I instructed, before I started across the street, dragging a flailing Crickette behind me.

She protested, squeaked, and stumbled her way with me, while Chance’s voice called after us. “Have fun, Lady Bird! Don’t be too mean, Karma!”

I laughed to myself.

Mean. Hah.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


This little ficlet comes from a future short story/novella/novel idea of mine, entitled Serendipity. It involves a wanderer who calls himself Maverick and drifts into a small beach town and meets Abbigail, a girl who suffers from the monotony of the town she's spent her whole life in. He meets her while she's working her shift at this little diner and leaves his number behind. When she doesn't call him, he shows up at the diner for a week. When she finally agrees to hang out with him, a friendship and eventual relationship blooms. Maverick spices up Abbigail's boring life with little adventures, introducing her to a side of life she's forgotten to sample.


His arms wound around her waist and before she could stop him, she was falling, rushing, senses distorting as up became sideways and she landed with a gasp of breath on the sandy beach. And even in that moment, the brief number of seconds it took to fall from here to there, she didn’t cry out, she didn’t squeak. Though her heart sped up, a sense of security was found in the cage of arms, even though she landed in the sand with no buffer.

She rolled onto her back and there he was, hovering over her, delight in his blue eyes. Above him, a canvas of purple blended into violent into pink into yellow on fire and he was all but a silhouette. Yet, his eyes seemed bright, and as happened often when caught off guard, she sucked in her breath when they made eye-contact. It was horribly corny, horribly cliché for someone to be so gorgeous they stole your breath, and Abbigail resented herself for being one of those people, but sometimes, it really was as if he sent jolts of electricity coursing through her.

“You could have killed me!” she admonished in jest, the right side of her mouth quirking upwards.

On either side of her, his fingers dug in to the sand as he held his body over hers, though he lowered his face towards her. For a moment, a brief moment, she wondered if he would kiss her, even though she’d told him not to, and fire in the pit of her belly betrayed her. Hope doused quickly, though, because he merely nuzzled his nose against hers.

“You’re such a drama-queen, Abbigail,” he pointed out, before he pulled back on his haunches and crouched over her. He tipped his head to the side, eyes serious as he fixated his gaze upon her. Probably not even realizing it, he drew his long fingers through his curls and then he chuckled, a soft noise.

Brows lowered over her eyes, Abbigail surveyed him and a crease formed in her forehead. “Why are you laughing?” she demanded as a self-conscious smile curled on her lips.

Rather than answer right away, he moved to her side, laying on his side next to her in the sand. Propped up by his left hand, he used his free hand to reach over and very gently, touch the cleft in her chin with his index finger. Her breath hitched, caught in her throat, and all she could do was watch him while her stomach vibrated in a manner which may or may not have been pleasant. And even though she resented it about herself and any other girl who thought something so cliché, she couldn’t help but note how very beautiful he looked. In order to prevent herself from blushing, she tried to focus on the hemp bracelet he wore on his tiny wrist.

This focused distract didn’t last long, though. Suddenly, his face loomed near hers, his mouth hovered at her ear. Her toes curled and her breath released in an audible gasp. He responded to this with another dry chuckle and shivers cascaded over her body.

“What’s your favorite word?” he asked her, voice low.

Her brain buzzed, the sort of fizzle of all ideas and every sense of coherency evaporating. Laying perfectly still in the sand, she waited for her nerves to stop dancing, attempted to focus on his speech. A hollow feeling settled over her stomach. She’d expected something more. Something magical, something sweet, maybe romantic. This was Maverick, of the spontaneous ideas, the impulsive adventures, the headstrong ideas. And he wanted to know her favorite word, as if he’d become some sort of freaking philosopher?

It didn’t make sense to her.

Nothing came to her.

“I… I don’t think I have one. Maybe… I don’t know. Asshat?”

Whatever serene moment he’d built was broken and his laughter came out loud and effervescent, reminiscent of a child. It carried no sound of mockery; only pure delighted humor spilled through his loud laugh. Even still, she felt her cheeks flush, warm, aware this mustn’t be the sort of answer he was looking for. It was his fault, she maintained, though. He set the fail up, in the moment his mouth neared her ear and disrupted any sense of cognition she had.

Who tried to maintain a serious, intellectual conversation while trying to seduce someone?

He nuzzled her neck with his nose and shivers trickled along the path he drew.

“You seem flustered,” he murmured.

She felt like punching him.

“Do you know what my favorite word is?”

Avoiding contact with his eyes, Abbigail looked away and pushed herself into a sitting position, propped up on her elbows behind her. Where this conversation was going, she couldn’t tell. Then again, when it came to Maverick, she couldn’t figure most things out. He remained an enigma, like a ball of yarn so tightly tangled she didn’t know how to follow the path. His thoughts lead from one point to another with no clear path in between. To try and jump ahead of him, to follow his thought process, seemed impossible. It was silly to say he was unpredictable, but he certainly wasn’t easily figured out.

When Abbigail finally hazarded a glance his way, she found a serene smile on his face. No mocking smile, no teasing laughter. Just serious contemplation.

“I have no idea,” she finally told him, aware he was waiting on her response.

Again, he chuckled, then he expelled a loud sigh and stretched, his arms reaching for the stars dotting the sky above. With his arms, his shirt rose and the bared midriff seemed to taunt Abbigail. Before she had a chance to reach up and tickle him, though, his hands were back in his lap, shirt covering his stomach and he was talking.

“Serendipity. I bet you didn’t think that, did you? That’s the word.”

She blinked. “Serendpity.”

“You know. Luck. Good fortune.”

“I know what it means,” Abbigail stated, scrunching her nose as she eyed him out the corner of her eyes. “It’s more that… I guess you’re right. I wasn’t expecting that at all.”

Now his grin turned somewhat teasing, in that low-key sort of way, as though he was running a million taunting jibes through his mind, shared only with himself. Curious, she watched him, wondering what was going through his mind and why his eyes looked like they were dancing.

“It’s really dumb and I haven’t confessed this to many people, but I like to think I live my life fueled on serendipitous moments. It’s how I get around the country, meet the people I do, manage this lifestyle. And it was sort of serendipitous, wasn’t it, that I met you?”

Abbigail responded with a dismissive snort. “You ate a diner and you happened to think I was cute. That’s not serendipitous, that’s just… I don’t know. I mean, I didn’t even talk to you for like, a week.”

Maverick merely shrugged. “But that’s not the point of it. The point is. I chose that diner on a night you were working. You weren’t even the waitress. But I still got to meet you and I still wound up here. Serendipity. Good fortune.”

And even though she had told him not yet, even though she didn’t yet know what to make of him, even though she felt like a whirlwind around him, his arms were around her waist, his mouth pressed against hers, and somehow their bodies pressed together.

Despite it all, she didn’t pull away and her arms snaked around his neck as she held herself closer to him. Because she had told him not yet and she didn’t know what to make of him and he made her feel like a whirlwind and it was exhilarating and it felt right and her body seemed to burst into the most pleasant of fires. They melded together and their hearts raced each others’ as they lay in the sand and she kissed him hard and realized this was exactly what she was looking for.

And perhaps he was right. Perhaps it was serendipity.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Karma Whitticker (n) undefined

The first thing we need to establish is this: I’m not an elitist nor am I some sort of snob. I know that’s what some of them thought, in school. They looked at me, sitting at lunch with the Booksih Girls, and they saw the way I looked away and they thought She’s a snob. Or a bitch. I guess they could have thought that, and I guess I might have my moments, but I’m not, I promise. But sometimes, I just didn’t have the patience for them. I get it. I know the world judges. It’s what we do best, what we were raised doing; comparing and judging is a way of lives for us. But I hate it, and maybe I’m a hypocrite, because I guess I judged them, too, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say I hate it, okay?

Admittedly, I was different in school, but I have my reasons. Not necessarily great reasons, but I thought them good enough. When I showed up at school, I didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t want to be susceptible and I didn’t want them to find anything to pick at, which sounds horrible in retrospect, because why was I so afraid of being myself anyway? They’re just kids I went to school with, y’know? But that’s the thing. The kids you go to school with are sometimes the most terrifying people you know and I knew this. So I didn’t want to stand out and I was content to hang out with the Bookish Girls because they weren’t obnoxious or overly pretentious and we didn’t spend every lunch period gossiping. It’s not like we discussed great literature every time we hung out, because we had crushes on boys and we told each other about it, but it wasn’t like wandering over to some of the other tables where people were talking about each other.

Hanging out with the Bookish Girls made me feel… intellectual, I guess. Higher than a bubbly girl. And that’s the thing. When people first meet you, if you babble and you talk a lot and you laugh that obnoxious laugh, they’re going to think Gee, isn’t she a bubblehead and then they write you off and your opinion has no weight or matter and that’s all you are to them. Just some vapid blonde.

That semester was horrible and I’d never been so happy to get out of a school. As soon as my fingers clutched that diploma, I was free and nobody told me liberty felt so amazing. Like I could do anything and I could finally be who I’d always wanted to be. I didn’t have to pretend to be a Bookish Girl, because while they were fine and they seemed happy with their lives, maybe they weren’t. Maybe they felt stuffy and boring and that’s why they were Bookish Girls: because they were also afraid t be who they were or maybe they didn’t even know who they wanted to be.

So, the very next day, I woke up I bagged up my school clothes and I pulled on a vibrant orange t-shirt and I paired it with the sort of obnoxious yellow jeans that would have made people stare and I slipped in to purple flats and I went to the edgiest stylist I’d found in town and I told her to chop my hair off. Chop it off, make me look different, make me look raw. And after she hacked at my hair, after she cropped it so short in the back and left these long chunks in the front and tapered it up, we added dark pink peek-a-boo highlights, because I’d dreamt myself like that once.

And when I looked in the mirror and we studied myself, me with my pink streaked edgy hair and she in the faux-hawk sharing a reflection, I just knew. I wasn’t wary or anticipatory about my hair. I didn’t feel nervous and I didn’t even feel like I’d made a mistake. Never before had I been so certain about anything. Not even about my Nokia, even though everyone else around me swore on their Canon Rebels. And it wasn’t just the hair or the color. My certainty was of more than that.

It was that I liked who I was about to become. I liked the person inside me, who was ready to finally break free. The bubbly, babbly, intellectual, wise, foolish, silly, loud, obnoxious, nosy, brainy, witty, emotional, edgy, bold girl who had been begging, for so long, to break out.

I didn’t just like her. I loved her.

That was the day I went home and sent that e-mail to Crickette. And yes, I did choose Comic Sans on purpose. And yes, I realized I sounded vapid and ditzy and she would probably judge me. But, maybe it was the hair or a renewed faith in my sense of self, but I could handle it. And, maybe, if I could have my way, I would change her. Change her mind, change her opinion. Take her by surprise.

She could judge all she wanted, but I would prove this girl wrong. I was more than just a vapid bubblehead.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Omegle Dare

He told me it was fun.

“It’s full of hilarious, Crickette,” Chance promised.

I don’t know when I started taking peoples’ words for truth. It bothers me, to think about it, because it’s so unlike me. If somebody told me to jump off a bridge, I never would have said Oh, sure, let me go do that right now! But with Chance, and Karma because she deserved credit for this change in me, in my life, I realized anything the old Crickette might have said or done was invalid at this point. I wasn’t certain at which point it’d happened, but somewhere through this summer I had changed.

I’d shed part of my old skin, and I didn’t know how it felt.

This was a harmless dare, though. Sometimes, I hated the dares. Chance came up with things I’d never thought of – couldn’t imagine. Like the pudding fight. Who found fun in flinging pudding around? And the mess. Oh god, it’d been horrible. But he’d laughed so much and I just… I don’t know. The sound of his laugh, the way his eyes crinkled. Admitting it makes me feel silly, but yes, there were extents to which I’d go if it meant making Chance’s eyes crinkle like that.

But not jumping off bridges.

The dare haunted me all through work. Even though he didn’t work with me that day, it remained on my mind, sitting at the edge as if it was sure I’d return to it. I talked my way through the day, comparing and contrasting the differences between Halo and Call of Duty and which I preferred (Call of Duty, if you really want to know), explaining to a confused mother why her son’s ancient PlayStation wouldn’t play any PS2 games. But all day long, I heard his taunting voice in the back of my mind.

“I dare you,” he’d said.

I sat on my bed, laptop set up before me. An idle Firefox browser sat open, watching me. Waiting. Taunting. It knew. I don’t know how, but it knew.

Where the melodrama came from, I couldn’t even be certain, but I felt apprehensive as I typed the address in the bar. Omegele. Why was I even nervous?! They were people behind their own screens!

And so it began. A series of random, anonymous people. Twelve who started off with “asl” (five to whom I responded with “pdf?” and resulted in confusion). One person warned me against perverts (why did Chance throw me into pervert-ville?!). Three said nothing to me (two to whom I began “Are you there God? It’s me, Crickette”, which resulted in a few humorous moments, if you couldn’t guess).

I don’t know. Maybe Chance and I shared a different sort of humor, because as person after person disconnected, I wasn’t laughing. Drima would have encouraged me to troll, I’m sure, except I had no idea how to respond to people. Even with a screen in front of me, I found myself stalling for something to say. Words never were my forte. Photography, video games, eating pastries til I burst? Those were my talents. I left charisma to Karma, I left babbling to Drima.

If anything, it was humiliating. Even people who didn’t know me didn’t give a damn.

Scoffing at myself, I hit the “x” and closed the browser off. I crossed my arms and stared at the desktop, fuming. I don’t even know what I was fuming about – just… fuming. Maybe that’s what Chance was trying to prove to me. My… anti-social or whatever it was. My inability to understand people, to play along, to let down my guard.

But that wasn’t true, was it?

I had let down my guard – on numerous occasions! In fact, on a lot of occasions this summer. Even though Karma was the sort of person I would have turned away from, I’d befriended her. Even though Drima was one of my best friends, I’d pulled away from her and started to tell her the truth, inclusive of everything on my mind. I’d even been standing up to my mother!

And of course. Chance. Of course my guard had fallen. The entire night after the party would never have happened otherwise.

So what the hell was the point of this stupid Omegle experiment, anyway?

Then, I did something old Crickette never would have done. I pulled out my phone and, instead of going straight to messages, I hit the talk button. While I counted the rings, my fingers drummed against my knees, until I heard a click.

“Miss Crickette!” Chance greeted.

Take that Old!Crickette.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

November Or Bust!

I need to go to Wal-Mart tomorrow. Where do you find coloring books in Wal-Mart, though? Are they in the books section? Oh god, I hope not. Save for the stuff I need to buy for Nilly’s “package”, I can’t spend any more money for a couple weeks. All my petty spending is starting to add up, and my non-petty spending (like that recent 50 for books) isn’t helping at all. :/ At least I could pay for the books with tip money, but I ate out tonight so yeah. I’ve got to reign in the spending a bit. The only other money I’ll be dropping any time soon is to pre-order Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, because I can’t turn down David Levithan, especially with Rachel Cohn.

The closer to November we get, the more excited I find myself about NaNoWriMo. I wish I’d actually tried more last year but the truth was, I was more interested in working on Guardians than I was a new story. This year, though, a rewrite of Backwards Compatibility is exactly what I need. I’m not the only one doing a rewrite of sorts, though. Both Regina and Joana are, so I don’t feel cheap for taking and idea and reusing it. (To be fair, Backwards Compatibility never really developed so much, anyway, so really, I’m starting from scratch.)

I have my characters developed and worked out. I have a basic plot woven and a few ideas set up. While talking to Nella, I found the urge to create a scene with piñatas, which will actually fit in PERFECTLY! We did a bit of minor brainstorming and now I have this scene set up perfectly in my head and I just want to WRITE it! I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling the intense yearning for NaNoWriMo. All the others with ideas plotted out ungh ungh ungh. To hold me over, I’ve been working on drabbles and ideas, so I can play with the characters and get further in to their heads but keep myself from actually writing the novel like I want.

I’m pretty sure I like the direction this is going to go, though. In my first attempt at BC, Chance was only partially fleshed out, Karma became much larger than I’d anticipated and I lost base with Theo and Drima. Other friends I’d created were dropped, more or less, from the start. At least I know where I’m going, I have a cover I’m more or less satisfied with, and a cast of characters I can work with and utilize to their full potential. I’m glad I let Karma become something more, especially because I can never write a straight-up romance. There’s more to it than just the relationship between Crickette and Chance, which in itself is more complex than simple romance. They’re two kids who are struggling to find themselves. With high school over, Crickette is trying to become someone she wants to be, not someone she’s felt she’s supposed to have been all along. And this means changes for her. Changes in who she hangs out with, how she thinks, what she does.

While writing this will be semi-difficult for me, because I’m more of a happily ever after sort of fan, it’s not so much the issues with Chance and Crickette that are causing me difficulty as it is Drima and Crickette, hah. I like Drima as a character, I really do, but as a friend to Crickette, it’s time for her to wake up and smell the coffee.

Over the weekend I finally got back to some reading! It’s about time, now that my bookshelves are packed full and I have a good few still needing to be read. A while back, I bought The Summoning from Wal-Mart, on a whim, which is my curse. I have a horrible habit of going to the book section and grabbing anything that doesn’t sound TOO horrible (sometimes mistakes are made, such as with Beautiful Creatures. Ugh.) and making off with it. And it took me forever to get around to even reading it because the more I thought about it, the more I began to second-guess the book.

Did I really want to read more paranormal fiction? Did I really want to risk lame, boring girl falling in love with lame, boring, beautiful guy and losing whatever plot might’ve started?

Eventually, I caved and I started it. The beginning was much slower than I would have liked, but once I got about 100 pages in, it really picked up and went from interesting to INTERESTING. It turned out to be more than just a ghost book, as I’d been expecting, but it didn’t take paranormal too far, at least for me. In fact, it almost touches in to a Sci-Fi sort of realm. Almost, but not really. Anyway, that’s really rambly without telling much, I realize.

I don’t mind Chloe as a protagonist. I don’t think I particularly love or adore her, but I don’t really dislike her. She’s fifteen and young and she acts her age. She makes mistakes and doesn’t always use her brain but honestly, when I was fifteen, such was my life, too. I like the supporting cast, too. Derek and Simon both had me wary in the beginning, which I think was well-executed. Personally, I was a bit more fond of Simon but I don’t have any problems with Derek, which I love! You know from the start there will be a sense of a love triangle, but it’s not in your face, it’s not the gunning plot of the trilogy, it’s not even so large-scale, which I LOVED! But beyond the romantic interests, there’s Rae, who I guess is the least liked by me, Liz who I absolutely adore, and a nicely crafted antagonist in Tori who I first absolutely loathed but have come to admire.

After I finished The Summoning I rushed off to Wal-Mart after work the next day to buy The Awakening and The Reckoning. I’ve got The Reckoning left to finish and I hope it’s good. The second wasn’t quite as good as the first, but it’s not that it was really BAD, though. It just was different and I fully understand WHY I didn’t like it.

There are cutesy moments. I squealed a lot. I’ve read part of The Recknoning and through the three books I’ve already cried a bit. I wouldn’t call it an amazing series but it was really good. Much better than I expected at least.

I'll try to write a proper review of it sometime after I've finished the series.

Mmm. Tomorrow after work, I need to write letters. Yes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Dare You

“Today is your birthday?” Chance blinked, matching his inquisitive tone.

I shrugged and looked away from him. My gaze came to rest on Karma, who didn’t look so much surprised as she did upset. Narrowed eyes focused on me and her lips pursed with unspoken words. All but stumbling in haste, I moved towards the plate of sugar cookies Drima had set down, glancing instead at Theo. He seemed to share my awkward sentiments, judging by the way he squirmed in place. The tension in the air seemed to crackle.

“Didn’t you know?” Drima’s voice was triumphant, her smile smug. “Gee. I guess Crickette didn’t you’re important enough to tell?”

“Drima! God!” I snapped, annoyed.

Karma ignored Drima’s ribbing. “You should have told me. I don’t have anything for you.”

“I don’t care. I didn’t want anything,” I explained. In my peripheral vision, Drima continued her smug grin and hot anger filled my chest and head. “My birthday is no big. I don’t celebrate. It’s why I didn’t tell anyone.”

“You know I love to celebrate, though! Parties! Fun! Food!”

“And you know I hate attention.”

Something touched my wrist and I jolted, before I found Chance was somehow at my side. Annoyed, surprised, pleased, my stomach fluttered and my heart sped up. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I lectured myself and I tried to focus on something else, like Karma’s pout.

“C’mon, Crickette,” wheedled Drima, in her sugary voice. “I went through all this trouble for you. Just enjoy it!”

I took in a slow, deep breath through my nose.

“It’s just a birthday,” Chance murmured near my ear. “Just have some fun and humor them. They’re your friends.”

But I didn’t want to. Drima was being a brat, doing this not because she wanted to be a good friend, but to mark her territory. And I wasn’t territory to be marked! Never before had she been interested in throwing me a surprise party and had it not been for her alleged fear that Karma was stealing me, she probably wouldn’t have this year, either. Hot-headed, I narrowed my eyes on Drima, opened my mouth to tell her what I thought of this stupid party scheme, tell her I knew her real intentions, but fingers slipped between my own and I froze.

“I dare you,” Chance whispered.

And I swear, I felt lips on my ear.

Peppy Music

Lack of coordination be damned, I loved DDR. Despite my feet stumbling over the mat, my love for Dance Dance Revolution reached beyond and because of it, my mp3 player was filled with the music. I loved driving around, accompanied by happy, peppy, uplifting music. Most was completely nonsensical. Much wasn’t even in English. It was the perfect background music and I had a habit of finding myself seat dancing to it at red lights – a super guilty pleasure of mine that few knew of.

However, I’d forgotten about it this afternoon. The only people I gave rides to were Theo and Drima and they were more than used to my less than conventional driving music and the accompanying bad dancing. As Chance let himself into the passenger side of my car, I thought nothing of it as I turned the ignition. It was about five seconds after the upbeat, computer-generated music possessed my body in a series of shimmying wiggles in my seat that I realized what I was doing. Freezing, I ceased my bouncy dancing, horribly aware of Chance’s eyes on me.

Ignoring the flush heating my face, I stared forward intently, lips pressed firmly together, and I put the car into drive. Resisting the music was difficult and my fingers yearned to drum the steering wheel but my face was burning and I couldn’t dance and I absolutely could not look at Chance and I was horrified and oh my god I had just danced around to DDR music in front of Chance!

I tried to ignore the sound of choking laughter. Mortified, my lips formed a firmer line.

More strangled giggles. A weird, chortling noise.

A snort.

“What?” I snapped, eyes still glued ahead, cheeks radiating more heat.

“That. Was. So. Cute!”

Character Sketches [Backwards Compatibility]

Crickette French: Protagonistic, POV. Socially awkward, nearly anti-social graduate working at PWNd. Doesn’t know how to deal with people, doesn’t connect well with others. Isn’t entirely certain she’s happy any more with who she is and is willing to take a chance with unfamiliar people and living an unfamiliar life to her. Realizing she wants to change and try to open up, she readily befriends Chance and Karma, which effects her relationship with Drima. A game of “dares” shared between she and Chance opens both to new experiences and Chance helps Crickette to catch up on what she missed out on doing in high school.

Chance Folly: Love interest. In school, Chance hardly knew Crickette. A former soccer player who isn’t entirely certain of who he is. After landing a job at PWNd, he strikes up a friendship with Crickette and Karma and is the one to introduce Crickette to everything she missed out on. During the summer, his family is going through a lot of problems, and though he likes Crickette, he finds trouble engaging in anything serious with her, and often appears wishy washy. To pass the time, he spends much of his available time with Crickette and her friends and the two share a game of “dares”.

Karmen “Karma” Whitticker: Bold, vibrant, and loud, Karma stands out where Crickette likes to blend in. Unfortunately for Crickette, Karma doesn’t take no for an answer and she seems utterly taken by Crickette. With her bright pink streaks, her reckless disregard for the opinion of others and her complacency in life, she unsettles Crickette, and intrigues her all the same. Without meaning to, Karma drives between Crickette and Drima, ultimately making Crickette start to reevaluate her relationships and where she stands in life.

Adrima “Drima” Edge: Long-time best friend of Crickette, Drima is pushy, wheedling, dramatic, whiney, but endearing to Crickette. She’s used to being the leader of their trio with Theo and often gets her way. When Karma shows up, Drima is threatened. Afraid Crickette will leave her, she tries to reign Criekette in closer, going as far as to offer an ultimatum which doesn’t end in a desirable note. Has control issues, low self-esteem. Guilt tripper.

Theodore “Theo” : Crickette’s first friend, Theo was the Knight in Shining Armor to her third grade jungle gym stunt. He’s been there for her every time she’s needed and even though she doesn’t always convey emotion very well, he does his best to help her out. A neutral player in the drama erupting in Crickette’s life, he just wants his friends to be happy. As a passive person, this works out for Theo, but only for so long. Even he has to make a choice, and he has to admit, he’s rather enraptured with bold, quirky Karma.

Tanner Sullivan: While Chance’s family goes into crisis mode, his cousin Tanner comes to stay with them with his aunt. Instantly pulled into the niche of the world created by Crickette and Chance. He is rather abrasive, a bit pretentious, and reminds Crickette of the inside of her mind. Offers her an awakening and helps to drive Chance to Crickette. Tanner has a superiority complex, like Crickette, thus struggles to connect with people. Like many, he is easily charmed by Karma, so while he’s initially unwanted by the group, he winds up spending a lot of his time with them.

Serenity Folly: The older sister to Chance, Serenity is the opposite of her name. Impulsive, open, and bossy, she likes Crickette at once, because she reminds her of her former self. Serenity helps Crickette to look at the world differently, to stop judging everyone and most importantly, to just be herself. She also tells Crickette to offer Chance the chance (hehehe pun) that he’s too afraid to take.

Bianca French: Crickette and her mother do not easily get along. Living a delusional life of grandeur illusions, Bianca has always wanted to live up to be something more. She’s a middle-class woman living the life of a wanna-be-socialite. She cares greatly about what other people think and urges others to, as well. With a nasty spending habit, her favorite hobby is keeping up with the Jones. Bianca is far more superficial than the rest of the family and butts heads with her tomboy-ish daughter. Though she doesn’t admit it, it is obvious Bianca always wished her daughter would have turned out a bit more feminine. Their tense relationship provides a faulty foundation for Crickette.

Geoffrey French: It is sometimes wondered how Bianca and Geoffrey married, when she so obviously seems destined for something more than the accountant he is. Goofy and soft-hearted, he is the parent Crickette gets along with best. He is often making jokes where Bianca finds inappropriate and is much more lax with his only daughter. Often, he tries to convince Bianca to lay off and to try to stop pushing her ideas on Crickette. While Bianca works from home most of the time, Geoffrey spends much of his time in an office. Now that Crickette is an adult and finally having a larger social life, he is often helping her sneak by her mother or covering up for her.

Lewis [needs last name]: (28) Owner and night manager of PWNd. Gangly, lanky. Curly brillopad hair. Glasses. Tall. Laid-back, he’s almost too chill about things, but knows when to be serious. Prefers to have fun and to create a comfortable work environment. While he’s perceptive, he sometime forgets to take things into consideration and easily embarrasses Crickette with little effort. Much like an older brother to her.

Charlie [needs last name]: (32) Best friend to Lewis, Charlie is the other main manager, works mostly during the day. Large, round man, balding. He’s very friendly, easy to get along with, and very chatty, but he can also be very anal retentive and has a certain way he likes things to be done. Very silly and goofy, though, described by Crickette as “the silly uncle you look forward to seeing.”

Veronica “Roni” [needs last name]: (27) The final head manager. Initially intimidating, Roni at first comes across as scene, or maybe goth, with her dark, choppy hair, her dark make-up, her often dark clothes, the dragon tattoo crossing from shoulder to shoulder, her face piercings (two lip studs, nose ring, eyebrow pierced, and pierced up ears). Even when you get to know her, she’s at first intimidating, especially if you type-cast her. Brusque, rash, blunt, completely honest, and with a mouth that would make a sailor blush, Roni holds nothing back and gives it to you straight. She’ll argue you into submission, is highly charismatic, and has the intelligence to back up everything she says. With a love for video games (duh), gorey movies, zombies, anime, and a steel stomach, she’s not exactly what one would expect, especially when she shows her feminine side or starts to gush like your typical girly girl. A great person to get advice from, because she’ll tell it to you straight. Very much like the older sister Crickette always wanted.

Brody [needs last name]: (22) A senior in college on the fast track to a five-year-Masters, Brody was Crickette’s first (and until recently, only) crush. Charming but geeky in a way that works well together, he has a smooth way of talking with his nose in a book or his thumbs mashing on a controller. Glasses, curly blonde hair, dark-puppy eyes and an admirable brain, he has easily become a great PWNd companion to Crickette.

Spencer [needs last name]: (21) Indie-boy Spencer loves music you’ve never heard of, movies that don’t make it to the big-screen and shooting up zombies. He’s quiet and more reserved than many of the other employees and for this reason, Crickette doesn’t know him well. His sense of humor is different from most peoples’ and what you find funny, he probably wouldn’t. Don’t try a Your Momma joke on him. Typically, he doesn’t spend a lot of time with the rest of the staff, simply because he never feels he belongs, but no one else knows that.

Tony [needs last name]: (25) Roni’s current squeeze is Tony, whom she has been with for the past three years now. He’s one of the shorter staffers with a keen love for photography and, like everyone else, video games. Like most of the staff, Tony is easy to get along with but has occasional anger outbursts. Also loves football (and most sports) and likes to play rugby.

Pamona Shore: (23) A former employee of PWNd, it is because of her leave that Chance was hired. With a very pregnant belly, she has left the video game store. Somewhat uptight, Pamona has to be in control of everything and makes lists all the time. Often, she takes on too much and struggles to make it all work, but she refuses to give in. Because of this, she’s always overworking herself, stressing to the point of breaking. However, she most likely will refuse your offers of help.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I Throw My Hands Up in the Air Sometimes

I remember once reading a journal entry my friend Anila wrote, about guilt pleasures and why we even call them such. One of the points she noted was that by calling something our guilty pleasure, we were, essentially, labeling ourselves ashamed of liking something. Music is a really prime example for guilty pleasures, though movies and television and reading often find themselves labeled as such. Lately, at work, I’ve found myself contemplating this matter, and always returning to Anila’s thoughts of the matter in my head.

My co-worker likes the Top 40 station. I’m not typically a huge radio fan, as it’s inevitable you’ll hear the same stuff repeated throughout the day. Radio plays what the people want because if you don’t, they’ll find something else. Recently, I’d taken to the local “hard rock” station (a label laughable as half of what they play could hardly be considered hard, but I digress upon that matter), but my co-worker favors the Top 40 station and when he comes into the back to take of his job, he’ll change the station to that.

At first, this annoyed me. I was back here first, I changed the station, I staked my claim! Mostly, I was just antagonistic about the matter because I had declared disdain for the Top 40 station. And I must point out, in this entry, I will not take back this assertion for I’ve not recently fallen in love out of nowhere with the station. I still find it to be annoyingly repetitious and this is what most grates me about it. But I have to admit that I cannot say I hate everything on the station, like I have for so long.

Recently, I’d begun to contemplate a few of my own “guilty pleasures”. More and more, I found some of the songs lingering in my head increasingly more and more catchy, to the point where I was beginning to enjoy hearing them. Yes, Enrique Igelsias, I’m talking about you. At first, I was ashamed of myself. “My music” tends to be oldies, rock, punk, power-pop, power-punk, adult contemporary, etc. Certainly, songs by bands I like would wind up on a top-40 station, but my scorn was directed more to the rap, the hip-hop, whatever you’d want to call all of that.

But there I was, throwing my hands in the air with my co-worker as Taio Cruz says AYO! Gotta let go! And I didn’t bother to hide it or fight it. Fergie blasted through my consciousness and I swallowed the urge to change the station. Katy Perry rasped through my mind and I sang along. Even Ke$ha, for all her terrible singing, played on and on in my mind, though this one very much to my chagrin.

And as I recalled Anila’s statement on guilty pleasures, I had to pause to contemplate: why was I so ashamed? Just because Enrique wasn’t a part of my daily course of listening didn’t mean I shouldn’t listen to him, especially if his song made me want to dance around and sing at the top of my lungs. Is it the best thing in the world I’ve ever heard? Hardly. But that’s the beauty of music. It’s not always about a fantastic song but what moves you, what you feel.

On InkPop one night, in the Insomniacs thread, music was a topic discussion. I remember Megan talking about her favorite music – stuff more obscure to me and my limited music knowledge, though I recognized artist names. This boy tried to say that he didn’t know any of her music and told us that his favorite artist was Lady Gaga, continuing on that most people don’t really listen to the lyrics of the music they love and he tried to claim we only listen to music for background noise, etc. etc. Essentially, he tried to state we don’t understand the music we like and we like it because we think we’re supposed to like it.

I remember I “got into it” with him (and I use this phrase loosely as I tried to come off mature and not as if I was trying to pick a fight – because I wasn’t) about how people like the music FOR a reason. They like the instrumentals, the lyrics, the voice singing it, the message, etc. He seemed to think we only liked music for a superficial reason and, even if that IS a reason, at least they’re listening to what they like, right?

For the record, no, I still do not care for Lady Gaga. I still find that she seems overly hyped than what she really is, that her “feministic ideal” is still skewed. Embracing your sexuality as a female does not count as being a strong feminist. Regardless, I’ll go ahead and take Enrique Igelesias off my “guilty pleasure” list and just embrace and admit my like for his song. Because, I, too, Enrique, “Like It”.

If it makes work all the more bearable, why not?

So, those who still lurk this blog. What are some of YOUR “guilty pleasures”, and why do you consider them such?

- Lady Ashlie

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Continuing Ramblings of a Rising Dawn

I’m not much of a television person, and I cannot give you a reason why. Growing up, my mother never watched what everyone else did and, never having had a television of my own until I was much older, I suppose this was a strong foundation. Instead, I opted for reading and writing. Angie is a television fiend – I have no idea how she keeps up with everything she does. And, in being surrounded by television people, I’ve picked up a few shows. And, just for my own amusement, I figured a list of what I DO watch/have watched is harmless.

Plus, it’s 5:46 a.m. and I’ve been awake all night with a head still buzzing with ideas and thoughts and nothing in particular.

If I look out my window, peek up under the blinds, I can see a dim glow of daylight just beyond the trees and house across the street. It’s not so much gold as just a dim glow of daylight – almost dusty.

Television and Ashlie of 2010

The Big Bang Theory
How I Met Your Mother
Two and a Half Men
Accidentally on Purpose
The Vampire Diaries
Dead Like Me

…I honestly think this might be the entire list, save for whatever I find on The-N or Nick at Nite for background noise. And even then, I’m hardly keeping up with any of it, as I wind up, like I am now, playing my music with a pair of headphones over whatever happens to be on the screen – at the moment, it’s Full House. When did The-N even start playing Full House…?

Clearly, I am not a television person.

- Lady Ashlie

Another 5 a.m. Night

I haven’t done anything with this blog in ages and I honest to God have no real reason – it’s not a lack of ideas, because trust that I spend my pointless days doing nothing but thinking and musing over ideas. Unfortunately, I find myself in phases where I’m without motivation. Unfortunately, I seem to have a bad relationship with my only true passion. I write when the motivation comes to me and sometimes I can go weeks, months without producing anything. Blogs/journals are the hardest for me to keep, because I tell myself I can put it off until later and soon it becomes too far later and ideas and thoughts and memories and moments are gone – lost, fleeting.

It’s no wonder I’ve never finished a novel. Beyond the clear and silly fact that I am afraid to finish one (a fear which is absolutely asinine and I am working hard on overcoming), I find I hit these stretches and then, as if I’m sprinting, I become winded and have to slow and take care of that stitch in my side. Ugh. The worst part is when I have everything planned out and I know where I want to go and how I want to get there and write out but the head to pen/keys just falters.

Just the other day I discussed this with Regina; it’s a perfectionism aspect, I fear, in which I don’t want to write it out and have it come out badly and later have to edit and refine it. I want it right the first time! Facing a chapter which intimidates me is a strong put off, because I don’t want to write something and have it be awful. I just… I can’t. I don’t like it. And obviously, this is something I need to work on. As a writer, I recognize everything needs to be refined and edited and can go through numerous drafts. At the same time, as perfectionist of writing, I don’t want it to be awful the first time. :/

By the end of 2010, though, I WILL have finished False Awakening. Maybe I’ll even write those last four chapters of Guardians, too. Because, dammit, I need to complete these! I cannot just let them sit there, on my harddrive, waiting. :/ The ideas float in my head and the characters come back to me and I miss them. I really do! At work, I’ll muse about Georgie and Dempsey or think of Annie and Ellie and I get these URGES to write. Most unfortunately, I find I have the most ideas, the most desire, the most motivation for writing, when I’m at work. And obviously, I cannot do anything about that. Ugh.

No matter, I WILL find my motivation and I will return to False Awakening and Guardians and I’ll rewrite Backwards Compatibility. I’ve contemplated this short story idea I have and fleshing into a novel. In the act I do that, I’ll have to get in touch with my Writing Buddies and see if we can brainstorm it into something more – it could be fun; I’m already fond of the character of Maverick. This is the worst part of it all – there’s all these other ideas in my head I’ve already come up with ideas for, stashed away on the backburner. And I can’t get to them if I don’t finish what I already have and then I have all these characters in my head! So many characters in my head, all begging to have a voice, for a fleshed out story.

On the bright side – at least I HAVE ideas. I remember years in which I never came up with anything or formed it into anything more. And I would much rather have too many ideas than not enough. An arsenal of ideas and big enough dreams will get me where I need to be. :]

- Lady Ashlie

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Could Lose Myself to You

This doodle is a scene that probably will never be in Shadow Guardians, though I wouldn’t mind finding a way to work it in. :] Eeeek. I… love it. :] FLUFFEH! Like, so sweet it gives you cavities fluffeh.


When one knew eternity stretched so far ahead, it was easy to spend much time simply sharing company. Back then, time was limited – forever was infinitely shorter. People scrambled, grappled. They fought to find the other half and often settled out of desperation. Finite time caused for such mistakes.

In the Shadow Realm, no such rush plagued. When one had eternity, there was no reason not to savor every moment. Georgie couldn’t be certain if she would always be at Noah’s side. Such an existence was as unpredictable as one spent alive. Certainly, though, she knew she’d quite like to.

Fingers entwined, Noah ushered her into the observatory and closed the door behind them. When she moved towards the window, though, he tightened his grip and tugged her back to him. Stumbling, she fell back against him and from this position, she felt, rather than heard, the rumble of his laughter in his chest.

“So controlled by routine,” her murmured, his voice low, his laugh loud.

Georgie blinked as she straightened and eyed him. “Are we breaking the habit?”

At her question, a smile formed, slow, upon his face. His eyes were intense as they found hers. She shivered when his free hand brushed aside a lock of her hair from her cheek.

“We could do to shake up the routine.”

His low voice caressed her heart and left a trail of ghostly finger tips along her chest. Sucking in her breath, Georgie watched Noah’s face. They had forever, but this moment… The tension grew palpable, anxiety danced in her toes. Again, Noah’s thumb stroked her cheek, the motion slower, deliberated. Fire leapt in her stomach.

“I’m not sure what it is about you,” he whispered, the sound barely a breath of air. “It’s… It’s not like I was never attracted to anyone else but… you… You… twist me around.”

Georgie knew it was irrational for jealousy to clutch her chest, but logic did nothing against its tight grip. Of course she was not the first. There had been Becca, of course. And before her, probably others. For that matter, maybe there had been others before her, here in the Shadow Realm. Yet, something so petty in matter swelled her heart in pain unjustified. Foolish, she chastised. All that matters is now.

“I want you to… I want you to be the last, Gee.” His murmur burst into urgency, the look in his face no longer gentle but stricken.

Her heart stirred and her body tingled. She knew this well – he tried to so hard to play cool, but emotion sized him, got the better of him and spilled forth in an outburst. At this, she smiled. His loss of composure comforted her jealous heart. Such a tell-tale sign.

“Don’t jump so far ahead,” whispered Georgie. “We… we’ve got forever. Literally. Forever.”

Panic. Confusion. She watched the flicker of his face, all the while she wore a tender smile. Did he not understand? Her lips parted, but she was given no chance to explain. His hand released hers and fumbled for her waist. The motion was jerky and he simultaneously stepped back against the door and tugged her close.

“What’s forever if I can’t fully enjoy it?” he asked, his whisper haggard.

The wrench in her heart took Georgie by surprise, but it was probably the look in his eyes which turned her to ice. Was he scared? Sad? Hurt? She couldn’t stand that. Even still – he spoke of such intimacy, of something so serious. There was no reason to rush. No cause for headstrong, recklessness. What was so wrong with just enjoying time, just taking comfort in each other’s presence. With all of forever before them, why did they have to scramble, to fumble, to rush something so beautiful, when they could take time and savor every moment?

“Can’t you enjoy forever now?” She didn’t expect her voice to crack. “Isn’t this good enough for you? Us… this…”

His laughter was hollow, but Georgie’s focus was on the way Noah held her chin, cradled in his thumb and forefinger.

“You’ve got no idea. Of course! God, of course. But… God, Gee. My… my patience… and us. Tension… Sometimes I just… I want to…”

Breath held, Georgie watched Noah search for the words. He looked so helpless, so frustrated, with his forehead wrinkled like that, his nose scrunched, his lips set in that pout. Again, fire swallowed her stomach, engulfed her whole. A tremble shook her finger as she lift it and Noah’s search ceased. The tip of her finger tingled, whether an effect of his mouth or boldness, she didn’t know. In their silence, her eyes fell shut, lashes fluttered against her cheeks, as she gently traced his pillowy lips. Like his caress, her motions were slow, deliberated, as her finger followed the gentle curves and dips of his mouth.

Georgie imagined the building pressure within her might be leaning towards combustion.

When his lips formed around her finger tip, she gasped, a sharp exhale. Even with her eyes closed, she sensed his chuckle around the kiss.

And then, with a groan, Noah pushed her finger away and tugged her, again, to him. Before she had a chance to react, his hands cradled her face, fingers tangled back in her hair. Their ragged breath match each others’, mingled as he touched his forehead against hers. It shamed her to be so corny, but more than anything, Georgie loved how his whispered “Gee” reverberated in her heart and tickled her cheek.

She did want it. In that moment, more than anything, she wanted it.

His kiss lingered upon her forehead, his lips not budging, and her heart raced in her throat.

“Noah,” she breathed.

His arms, tight around her, were secure and promising as they crushed her against him. They had all of forever – eternity stretched before them.

But Georgie understood the race, the rush. Their hearts thrummed against each other and their fingers trembled with yearning. They fumbled their touch, their trace, their search. Noah’s arms around her filled her with promise, though

After all. They had all of forever.

Between You and Me

This is a Shadow Guardians based writing doodle. :] There may be spoilers, to those who aren't up-to-date with the writing. But. It's cute? And sort of bittersweet? But. I LIKE IT SO. Whatever. =D


Angelica would be so pissed if she found out. He was mostly certain she would not – and if hope wouldn’t work, he crossed his fingers inside the baggy pockets of his hoodie. Deep inside, a vague memory stirred, one yet unforgotten. Above him, a night sky as he crossed fingers and leant towards her. His stomach clenched as he reminisced, as he turned her face and his memory self brushed his lips against her cheek. Misfortune seemed their destiny from the start. This realization crumbled his heart. Carefully, he shook the memory from his mind; later, he would log it in his journal.

For now, more important matters begged for attention.

At first, he said nothing. In silence, he stood in the doorway. His weight shifted and his lanky form leant against the doorframe. Eyes steadfast, he watched her from behind, like he’d done so many times, so long ago. This was so natural to him, it could have been a scene from his life. Her slender fingers held the brush with such ease, an act natural to her, and the trail of blue followed her sweeping arc.

Not moving, he waited as she paused, her arm lowered, as she lay the brush down with such care, as she pivoted slowly.


No surprise colored her voice or her eyes. If anything, they both were gentle, if not rather empty.

He chose not to offer her a real response and only muttered a gruff “yeah”.

Persistent and unfazed as always, she was not deterred, and instead, offered him a serene smile. Her smokey eyes were half-lidded as she watched him and his stomach stirred again. Such a look on her face was so familiar, and he recalled nights shared together, tangled hair and swollen fingers. Adam bit back a groan and tore his eyes away.

“I’m not surprised, you know.” The serenity of her speech was most jarring – her husky voice sounded almost tender, almost understanding.

And that made him angry.

“About what?” he asked. To busy himself, he jammed his hands further into his pockets, tugged his hoodie away from his body in straining effort. Anything to keep him from meeting her face.

When she spoke again, her voice sounded nearer. “About everything. You. Me. The way you reacted. How you avoided me. That it took you so long.”

He flinched, as if it was the sound of her speech which most hurt. In a way, though, it was.

“Don’t sound so proud, Roni.” His attempt to spit these words was half-hearted and they instead tumbled, uncertain and hesitant, but he was still pleased with the way she started, if only subtly.

In her silence, he took a cursory study of her. During their first encounter, he had been too shocked, too appalled to really take her in. Now, he drank her in, his gaze thirsty. She was different. For some reason, this surprised him so much a nervous flutter tickled his stomach. Her once beautiful hair was mangy, a mess, unkempt. When he was alive, he’d loved her hair – it was so silky and soft when he wound the tresses round his fingers, or when they fell in damp waves fresh out of the shower. Thinking on this, his throat tightened, and he shifted his gaze, tried to move his thoughts onward. Instead, he took in her thin build. So thin, so fragile. Before his eyes, she appeared breakable, so easily breakable. With little force, he could snap her. Had she wasted away?

Swallowing around the lump in his throat was impossible. He merely sighed, the noise heavy.

“I realize you’re upset with me-“

Adam did not allow her to finish. “Upset does not begin to cover it!” His interruption exploded from him, too loud for his ears. “Upset. Angry. Pissed off! You… knew… you… I just don’t understand!”

Bitter laughter responded. “Of course you don’t,” said Roni, and again, Adam felt a swell of anger from her assurance. “I told you. You cannot understand it. Even still… even now you’re too good, too pure. But you’re also too selfish.”

He felt his brows twist and rounded upon the girl before him. Unlike his, which had found his shoes so curious, her eyes were intent upon him, equally gentle and sad. It broke his heart to see the mess she had become. To see her. Why did she not realize this? And why was he so masochistic as to come looking for her like this? Later, he told himself, he would yell at Rowan for not talking him out of this asinine idea.

“You never realized, Adam. All that time, I was suffering, alone, depressed, empty. And you never knew! Maybe I was too good an actress or maybe you didn’t know the real me, but whatever the case, when you left me, you left me and it hurt so much, Adam!”

Every time she spoke his name, his heart shattered further and his hands balled into his fists inside his pockets. How dare she speak to him like this. How dare she! Anger boiled in his veins, swam dizzy in his head. Was he swaying on the spot? He felt as if he was.

“If you’d just spoken to me… if you hadn’t acted so rashly, things would’ve been different. I wouldn’t have lost you. And your mother-“

This, he could not listen to. A hand went up in the air, flagging her for silence. Obedient, she fell quiet at once.

“I told you, Roni. I explained this already.”

He watched her swallow, her lips turn inward.

“Yes. You did. But. I’m confused. If you don’t want to discuss that… then why did you come to find me? I’m confused, Adam. Explain this for me.”

“I… don’t know.” The truth sounded so helpless when spoken out loud, but he couldn’t muster a lie for her. Never for her. Somehow, Roni effortlessly commanded and received his honesty and he hated it. Eyes on his feet, he felt, rather than saw, her move closer.

“I wish you could understand,” she whispered, her voice barely a breath of air in his ear. “I wish you could understand how sorry I am. How

Against his will, he shivered. There was no way to prevent the involuntary tremble, but he hated himself for it all the same. That his body reacted, still, to her. After all this time! It bothered him.

“That life… that… it’s over,” he croaked.

Her sad hum was melodic, but haunting. “I know, Adam. Can’t we start over?”

Slender fingers laced between his. Upon reflex, he gripped her hand in his. She must’ve taken this for an affirmation, for she moved near him. Adam was not sure how he felt about this.

This was a lie, actually. Adam knew very well how he felt about this. A very large, very massive sum of himself wanted her. He wanted to pull her back into his arms like he used to, and to feel her mouth on his again. More than anything, he missed the fingers tangled in hair and the warmth of skin upon skin. Raspy breathing was the only sound audible and he realized, it came from him.

It caused him physical pain to do so, but he pulled away from her, his fingers last to trail away from hers.

She took a shuddering breath, eyes on the floor.

“I’m sorry.”

Her apology shocked him and Adam felt that crushing weight in his chest. Against his better judgment, he gave in to his will. The two steps between them closed in a fraction of a second and he pulled her to him. Gangly arms tugged her to his chest, crossed over the back of his head. Erratic thoughts ran through his head, all about her, about them, about how this hurt, and he took a deep breath, before he lowered his mouth to the top of her head.

“We can start over,” he mumbled into her hair. “But. I won’t… we… I can’t make promises. You screwed up and you shouldn’t be here. We’ll start over. But we’ll be friends. We’ll… get to know each other again. The real us. Not a fake you or a fake me or people masquerading, okay? We’ll be honest and real and we’ll start over.”

Roni said nothing at first. When she moved her thing, wiry arms around him and held him back, though, he kissed the top of her head once more, bid good-bye to their past, and opened his arms.

There was no point to a grudge if he had forever. If anything, forever was an opportunity. Ever the optimist, Adam knew he had to be a fool to pass it over. And, while he knew he and Roni were too different, far different from who they used to be, a beam of hope shown, if only for their friendship. To spend eternity avoiding her was impossible. It was impossible before and even more so now.

Adam would always love her, and she him.

But now, he realized, he could learn who she really was, and maybe, perhaps, he could figure out how to love the real Roni, if only through friendship.

Happy Wizarding Independence Day

As today is May 2, I figured it only proper to write about Harry Potter. If I was not me, perhaps I would apologize for the nerdiness of this post, but honestly? As both an author and a massive fan of Harry Potter, there is nothing to apologize for.

Those who are on Facebook, fan or not of the series, probably know of the Wizarding Independence Day - a.k.a the Day Harry defeated Voldemort. It's hard not to know of it. Even those who don't read the fan have probably seen the statuses go up, the notices of their friend attending this event through their newsfeed. Facebook is notorious about telling you everything your friends are doing. 89,529 people are attending this event. How impressive, considering this is a fictional day of celebration.

If I was J.K. Rowling, I would feel not only immensely proud, but ever so impressed right now. Honestly, I would be beside myself with pleasure. This series was and is so important to everybody who ever fell in love with these books, and I feel a little shiver every time I see somebody's status go up with a Harry Potter quote or some variation of Happy Wizarding Independence Day. All Rowling did was wrote a series about a boy she came up with and look what it did.

Not many books find this sort of recognition. Not many books have such an amazing fandom. And it makes me proud. I am proud to have grown up with these characters. I remember receiving the first and second books for Christmas during fifth grade and I fell in love at once. There was no way not to. Those characters... I don't know, I cannot find appropriate words for it.

The best part, I think, was growing up with those characters, though. Most definitely. We all changed and grew up and matured with each other. I watched them go from awkward, gawky, nearly helpless children and blossom into these amazing adults, and save the world. That... goodness, I tear up writing that. It's beautiful, a dream for authors, to be able to have your audience so close to your characters, so immersed in your world and Rowling did it perfectly. As we grew, the books grew subtly more and more mature, complex, darker, and the writing progressed from simplistic, almost as if she had anticipated us growing with the series.

That makes me swell. Swell.

Today seems like a good day to begin re-reading the series, again. Such a fantastic series of stories, an epic tale of good vs. evil, a beautiful telling of a young boy who with an amazing destiny. Quite simply, Harry Potter is perfection.

Thank-you, Rowling, for giving us Harry Potter and his amazing world. Thank-you for offering us a world to hide out in when we desperately need it. Thank-you for expanding our imagination. Thank-you for introducing so many kids to reading. And thank-you for giving us a series that will forever stay with us.


- Lady Ashlie

Saturday, May 1, 2010

15 Books That Will Stick With Me

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you. They should be the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag some friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose. (To do this, go to your Notes tab on your Profile page, paste rules in a new Note, cast your 15 picks, and tag people in the Note, upper right hand side.)

1. Harry Potter series [J.K. Rowling]
This is probably seen as a cop-out, using the series as a whole, but really, they ARE an entity of their own. What kid who grew up with Harry Potter will never keep that series in their hearts? The characters, the story; the whole thing is beautiful. Never have I been fonder of a friendship as that of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and all their friends, professors included. <3 Harry Potter changed my world of writing and reading. Of course it will stay with me.

2. Sarah Dessen books [Sarah Dessen]
I promise, this is the last cop-out. But Dessen has woven a world in which stories and characters cross back into each others’ lives. This continuity leads me to link their stories together. Most notably, this is inclusive of The Truth About Forever (auugh Wes, I LOVE YOU), This Lullaby (omg Dexter love you), Along for the Ride (I so admire Auden. And adored Eli), and Lock and Key (Ruby is probably the one character who changes the most.) Dessen completely changed the way I write, develop characters and construct the relationships between all my characters. Her voice is so authentic and unique to each character, they are all believable and realistic. From time to time, I find myself wondering about the characters, as I should with all good books.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird [Harper Lee]
Without a doubt, this book never ceases to make me cry. The movie, too, for that matter. The honesty and rawness of this book are painful, in a most beautiful way. I cannot describe the ache I felt from this story – one not only of racism, but so much else, most notably the harsh realities of growing up, the lapse of naiveté and the tender pains of leaving behind childhood.

4. The Outsiders [S. E. Hinton]
I’d seen the movie many times before I finally read the book, but the movie could not even prepare me. Obviously, they are different and things are changed/left out, but it’s probably just because I connect so well to books that I was so affected. Oh, Pony Boy. How your story broke my heart. And Johnny… I am sure this movie/book is the reason I am so incredibly in LOVE with the name Johnny. Everything about this book just ACHES : their hard lives, the gang fights, the way the freaking book ends. And despite having seen the movie, despite knowing what is coming, I still bawl when I read it. I remember the first time I read it, I had to close the book, hug it to myself, and just CRY for a good half hour. Raw, emotional, REAL. Of course this book stays with me – I came to think of those characters as family of my own!

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower [Stephen Chbosky]
This book found me at the absolute right time in my life. During a time when I was filled of self-doubt and inadequacy issues, Chbosky fed me all the right lines, all the perfect quotes to get me through my issues. Such quotes as: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be” , “Maybe it’s sad that these are now memories. And maybe it’s not sad” , “I don’t want to start thinking again. Not like I have this last week. I can’t think again. Not ever again” , “I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning” , while so very EMO sounding were exactly what I felt, what everyone, at one point in time, has felt. And this resonated SO STRONGLY within me. I remember crying so much when I read it – it was a painful read for me and the end shattered me, in a melancholy manner. But I love it dearly and continue to re-read it. Charlie is such an HONEST protagonist, and he holds nothing back – not the words we hide for ourselves, not the thoughts we’re too afraid to say, not the seemingly petty moments.

6. Feed [M. T. Anderson]
The first book I read by Anderson was Thirsty, and while it left an impression on me, it was nothing like Feed. This post-cyberpunk, dystopian story is set in a future where humans have become controlled by ads, to the point that they don’t even think for themselves. Feeds, connected to their brains at birth, feed them with advertisements, with a pop culture that not only grips, but controls them. Titus and his friends are perfectly content with their lives – they do not think, they do not read, they do not even write! Information is just at their fingertips (or rather, their brains) and life is EASY. When Titus meets Violet, though, she shows them the mess their lives are. While Titus never seems to understand this at first, it makes you THINK. I cannot say that for many young adult novels, but this book made you think. It wasn’t hard to understand the theme – our society is continually dumbing down, choosing convenience over work and intelligence. Like all the books on this list, I cried, and the ending, while bittersweet, was so honest. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for ages.

7. Looking for Alaska [John Green]
As with Feed, Looking for Alaska was not the first of this author’s I read. I was introduced to Green though the ever-so-witty An Abundance of Katherines and knew instantly I would love Looking for Alaska once I finally got to it, and I wasn’t let down. Yet again, another honest protagonist who tells his story through the mouth of a real teenage boy. His obsession with Alaska is one part amusing and alarming, one part tender and sweet. Green is a most amazing writer and while I recommend any of his works, this one, most certainly, has a place in my heart. His unveiling of the story of Alaska is a craft, a work of art, and it is done so well, I cannot help but reread it.

8. Peter Pan
I will confess now – I am a sucker for stories of childhood and innocence. Also, I am a sucker for Peter Pan – the book, the Disney movie, the live-action movie. Yes, like with all the books in this list, it makes me cry. In fact, I’m not entirely sure why I bawled when I finally read this book. Peter Pan represents an innocence that so many people give up, and I think I was most bothered with Wendy not only leaving him, but to become a boring adult. The very least they could have done is allowed her to grow up with a child’s heart! This, of course, was not the message, and I think it’s what made me feel saddest, emptiest. That this, supposedly, was to be our fate? To leave behind childhood, to grow up, and to remember the second star to the right, straight on to morning? What made me cry hardest, I recall, was knowing Peter would come back to visit, and always his friends would have grown older – and he would have given up on them! – and he would befriend the daughter, to continue this pattern forever. Bittersweet.

9. 13 Reasons Why [Jay Asher]
Asher created a most compelling tale here, complete with my silly tears. Clay tells the story of Hannah, who has recently committed suicide, through the use of a mysterious box shown up on his doorstep, containing cassettes. Each side of these tapes is intended for one of 13 people who contributed to her suicide in some way or form. Most haunting, I think, was their effect on her life, her decision to take her life, and the concept that people are so interlinked, whether we want to be or not. Of course, one of the sides of this tape is meant for Clay, who cannot imagine how he contributed to the suicide of a girl he was so fond of. Yes, I cried. Yes, I thought about this book for so long after. Dark, honest, raw, emotional. It was beautiful.

10. The Amber Spyglass [Philip Pullman]
I read the His Dark Materials series in middle school, and this one, the final of the series, stuck out most prominently. Don’t get me wrong – the whole series is fascinating, fantastic, well-crafted and well developed. What most makes this stick out in my mind, I think, is the ending, and the travel to the world of the dead. Both Lyra and Will change so indefinitely, so indescribably, and the ending tugged every string of my heart. Such an incredible tale most certainly sticks with me – the characters, those alive and dead, those who sacrificed and antagonized. Beautiful.

11. The Lovely Bones [Alice Sebold]
Within the third chapter, I believe, I was bawling. I remember talking to Angie while attempting to read this and encountering moments where I cried so hard I couldn’t see anything. I’m such a sucker for emotional aspects of stories. I cried when she told the story of being raped and murdered and I bawled through the aftermath of her family and their attempts to cope. Everything about this book is just DEVASTATING. Of course there is no REAL happy ending – the dirty deed is done and you know from the start. Haunting is an appropriate term for this. I can’t imagine how this wouldn’t stick with anyone after reading.

12. Elsewhere [Gabrielle Zevin]
I wasn’t entirely sure of what I was getting into when I read this book. I know Boo liked the book and it sounded appealing. I didn’t expect to ravish the book the way I did, though. Trucking through books is nothing out of the ordinary for me, but to ravish a book isn’t super common for me. To absolutely plow through it, eat it up, and hold it to myself. Elsewhere tells of a most fascinating after life – animals can talk, people are employed and, most curious, you age backwards from the age of your death, all the way back to infancy, when you are sent down the river, to be reborn. And, my goodness. I cried, so very much. It was beautiful! Told in simplistic writing, it was sweet, it was tender, and most of all, it was raw. And yeah, sort of depressing.

13. The Realm of Possibility [David Levithan]
This is not quite my favorite Levithan book, for my favorite is his collaboration with Rachel Cohn, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlits. However, this one does resonate far more strongly within me. This is a snapshot of the lives of numerous friends and acquaintances and how they are all interlinked, despite some who may have nothing to do with each other. Told through prose and free-form, poetry, song, etc, each character is unique, each character has a story. It was… a fabulous read. (P.S: I totally recommend his book, Boy Meets Boy, if you aren’t squeamish about boy love/anti-homosexuals. The book is not detailed in anything, but it tells a BEAUTIFUL story for a BEAUTIFUL world, where the football quarterback is also the head cheerleader, where gay hate is almost nonexistent and dance parties strike up in the self-help section of the book stores. It’s beautiful and hopeful.)

14. The Ruby Oliver Series [E. Lockhart]
I know, I know! Another cop out! But again, I cannot choose only one from this series. Lockhart changed my writing in so many ways. She writes a spunky, leper-slut who tries to do the right thing but screws up or gives into selfishness. Roo’s story is real – you don’t always get the boy, your feelings aren’t always reciprocated, and sometimes, high school – your friends included – really suck. Like I said, she changed a lot of my writing, my thinking, my development. Between Lockhart and the aforementioned Dessen, my writing has been greatly influenced.

15. Junebug [Ashley Poston]
What’s that? You’ve never heard of this one? Of course you haven’t! Written by a now-very dear friend of mine, this story is going to go places. Junebug tells the story of Junie Baltimore, who winds up running into her past by running into her recent past. Easily relatable, Junie has insecurities like any other girl, fears, inadequacy issues, etc. but her voice is so strong that, even though she is so like any of us, she is so very unique. Besides, I am a sucker for the story of two friends who SO belong together. I remember when I first started reading this – I was anxious, so anxious, to finish it and to find out how everything worked out. Poston brilliantly leaves the reader wondering if there will be a happy ending and if the happy ending is actually the right one. More so than many books I’ve read, I have honestly found myself thinking of Junie and Rob and Caspian and Mags, wondering what they’re all up to, how their lives have worked out. <3 Eghads. I suppose being friends with the author is a possible reason it sticks with me, but, really, I consider our friendship a benefit of this read.