Monday, February 18, 2013

HECK YES The Liebster Award!

Guys I got this cool badge! Out of the blue! It was given to me by the fantastic Michaele Stoughton (@MLStoughton), apparently for my sidebar-writing skills. Yesssssss.

On her blog, she states that the Liebster Award is for "blogs with fewer than 200 followers" and apparently has a running theme of 11.

The rules? Answer Michaele's 11 questions, nominate 11 bloggers, and then write up 11 new questions for those 11 nominees to answer on their blog. Like a pyramid scheme except wait no not like that at all.

(Go check out Michaele's answers to her 11 questions - they are great. And they're pretty much guaranteed to be more well-put and insightful than mine, eheheh.)

So onto answering Michaele's 11 questions!

1. What inspired you to start writing?

Tough question because I honestly don't know. Like, in kindergarten, we were supposed to write about our spring break, and then our stories would be published by the in-school "Publishing Shop" (meaning, our pages would be bound with plastic or cardboard covers. I wrote so much that I had to make 2 books. I was also an illustrator back then, haha.

I guess it's easier to say why I wanted to keep writing.

The Publishing Shop must have been a lot of it. There was something I loved about seeing my work bound more officially than by staples along the side, probably because I always loved reading, so seeing my work be closer to real books was inspiring. In third grade, I wrote my first book with chapters, and I received positive feedback from my classmates. Even then, I felt like I was bursting with ideas. This was encouraged when I figured out how to use my dad's typewriter.

My cousin Allie was also an adversary in gradeschool writing-like-mad-but-mostly-in-secret, so it was neat to have someone to talk to about it. She was even more prolific, and she showed me some of her techniques that I still use to this day (like writing by hand in composition books and how to notate passages you want to insert when using that method).

So I guess I was inspired by reading, and then encouraged by a lot of different things.

Oh gosh that was long. My other answers will be shorter, sorry.

2. What are your all-time favorite books?

Single books: The Sound and the Fury, Paper Towns, As I Lay Dying, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Book series: The Harry Potter series, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and The Hunger Games. I should also mention The Bailey School Kids because I first became an avid reader because of them.

3. What would be the best thing about being published?

It's not guaranteed for any published work, but if a fandom came out of my work, that would be the best thing. Like, fanart, fan theories, fan interactions and just... knowing that I make people happy and give them a sense of community. I've seen fandoms save lives and that's so awesome. That's what I love about this era. It's never been easier to find connections over common interests.

But besides that, I guess just knowing that my work can make others happy, or at the very least, escape.

4. What is your greatest achievement in life so far, and why?

I feel like I've climbed a lot of hills but not a lot of mountains. Nothing stands out as a "greatest achievment." Nothing concrete, anyway. Maybe "maintaining a stable support system of family and friends" but that's more like "Okay so far so good" as opposed to something I've overcome or stretched to get when there was a deep lack. Erm. Sorry.

I'm pretty proud of my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, though.

5. Tell me about an embarrassing moment.

Freshman year of college, I auditioned for a musical theatre workshop, and we had to audition in front of our peers. I watched a bunch of excellent singers audition to great applause. When I sang, the director cut me off before I was done with my audition selection, which not only made it very clear that I was not going to be in, but it meant I'd just been pretty bad in front of a lot of cool students.

6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I really love where I grew up, which is in suburban Ohio. I don't know where my career will carry me, but I could see myself back there for good someday.

7. What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

Last summer, my cousins and siblings and I took a limo to Chuck E. Cheese's. I've done other stuff that maybe should be more exciting but that's still something that makes me think, "Wow. That happened."

Oh and a year ago, my college's independent theatre association produced the musical I wrote. Whoops, maybe that should have been my first thing. But I mean... limo. Chuck E. Cheese.

8. Who would you be most excited to meet in person?

(I took this to mean "still alive.") Ah ha, I'm a dork. Andrew Hussie, Barack Obama, and JK Rowling top my list.

They say never meet your heroes, but whatever. I'd be happy to just shake their hands and thank them. Besides, AWOLNATION wrote a really great song about how disillusionment can set you free. At least, I think that's what it's about.

9. Fur, feathers, or scales. Pick one and tell me why.

Feathers. In middle school, I got really into bird-watching. There aren't many bird species in my old neighborhood, but it was still fun. I found out blue-jays like peanuts.

10. What are your biggest pet peeves?

Advertisements that use excessive or flat-out incorrect punctuation. It sets me on edge and makes me want to avoid their product.

Also, spitting. I am at my most mysophobic about saliva, including sneezing/coughing. It's not a fear of getting sick, it's just this thing about others' bodily fluids invading my personal space. Gross, right?

11. What are your hopes for 2013?

Oh man. Many, but I'll keep this one writing-focused. I really want to make progress on my WIP's stagnant condition. I've finally edited it to a point where I feel like I've worked out the kinks, but I'm so bad at queries and pitches. So even if I could steadily get requests for partials or fulls, that would be progress. 13 is my lucky number, so maybe this is even my year for an agent.

Woo, you made it through to the end of my answers, or managed to accurately scroll to this next section! Now, for my 11 nominees:

1. MJ Perry - MJ is one of my followers and has such an interesting blog that blends life + writing/book feedback and the writing style is smooth to read.

2. Cherstin - Self-proclaimed hipster and has laid down some cold hard facts about the point of Facebook. Takes guts, man.

3. Lisa McCourt Hollar - OK I'm shocked she's only at 174. She runs an awesome 55-Word-Challenge that everyone should check out. Plus, zombies.

4. Jeffrey Hollar - Runs the Monday Mixer challenges, which have, on multiple occasions, caused me to learn new vocabulary words. (For the record, that should encourage you to visit his site.)

5. Lily Tequila - Strong employer of imagery - and impressively consistent.

6. Jo - SHE NEEDS MORE FOLLOWERS because she runs an excellent blog. Seriously, I dunno how people like her aren't flooded with memberships. Also that thing she mentions about needing to come up with a written abbreviation for "usually"? YES WE NEED THAT thank you- I've wondered in the past about the same thing. (I think it'd be "uzh" but... yeah.)

7. Kai - Teen blogger and dedicated to the writing craft.

I've spent way too long looking up followers numbers and stuff so... I think I'm going to leave it at 7? Sorry! BUT oh yeah - I nominate anyone who follows this blog and meets the requirements! I couldn't find all of your blogsites (if you have them). But yeah please do this and send me the link to your response post!

Nominees, your questions!

1. What is the best piece of writing advice you've heard?

2. What is your most irrational fear?

3. Have you ever obsessed over some form of entertainment, like a book or a TV show? If so, what? (And how deep into the fandom did you go? If you drew fanart, I expect to see some fanart. :P)

4. What's your favorite way to beat writer's block?

5. Quick: pitch me a new TV show that's going to save my network!

6. The site had this neat contest where you had to write a 6-word autobiography. So, taking a leaf from their book, what's your micro-fic bio? (You can use 5-10 words.)

7. Name something peculiar or weird that you just don't understand.

8. What's your favorite genre to read? To write? (Are they different?)

9. What are you reading now, or what was the last thing you read?

10. Is there a project you're excited about/anticipating, whether yours or someone else's? Care to share a bit about it?

11. [INSERT SHAMELESS PLUG HERE!] <--Go on, now's your chance! Talk about your blog, your WIP, or just post your Twitter handle. Anything you want. It's promotion that you don't have to feel weird about!

And here's the badge again so you can stick it on your blog!

Awesome, thanks guys. I really hope all the nominees consider accepting, and thanks again to Michaele for nominating me!


Dirty Drinks

[This story was written for Monday Mixer, a weekly Flash Fiction contest.]

Let’s play Spot My Murderer.

Anyone in this taproom could have a knife in their garter or a gun on their hip. A sea of black fedoras and slick hair welcomes me. Some here know my business. Too many.

I sit with my back to the wall.

The bartender cocks a derisive eyebrow. I order a Scotch on the rocks; I’ve been watching the bottle. If the bartender poisoned me, he poisoned at least three other hard-knocks.

A microphone leans against the wall. It looks like a cosh. A bass case lies on the floor— a coffin. My hand shakes. I swig the scotch. My mouth burns but the liquor calms my nerves.

Or… it should.

The burning spreads throughout my whole body, the shakes give way to convulsions. From the floor, I see the face of victory.

It was him after all. His weapon: a stash of tainted ice.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


WHY I PICKED IT UP: I requested this title through NetGalley because the description intrigued me. Also, though I usually read and review YA, I like to touch base with what's new and available for adults.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: First of all, it's been fun seeing what other sites have tried to say about this book in summary. Often the synopses are misleading, but I can sort of see why. So I'll do my best to put it in my own words - ones that are meant to paint an honest picture rather than a purposefully enticing one.

This is the story of Egon Loeser. It's the story of a man who conveniently escapes WWII-era Germany because he chases a woman around the world. It's the story of a man consumed by his need to get laid, who manages to lose dear possessions on a regular basis, who is so self-absorbed that he stumbles into others' games with each other until he stumbles out of them. It's the story of a man whose existence is like a prolonged sigh in a world that's always a little tilted to the side.

And then sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's about an ex-pat "confidence man" or a professor's life as a boy. The ties are still to Loeser, but the focus is elsewhere. The running thread through it all is the "Teleportation Device" by an artist named Lavicini, which is said to have killed a dozen people in a theatre accident.

Eventually -- as in, 57% of the way through the novel -- there are murders.


I can't break it down into these categories like I usually do. The author consistently uses devices that are interesting - some worked, some didn't, but most were both at the same time. His bizarre humor throughout? Worked. The sudden breaking away into characters that weren't Egon Loeser? Sort of worked. His first sentence? ... ... ...

I have much to say on the first sentence.

The first sentence of this novel is a rambling metaphor - or rather, a series of metaphors, acknowledged as metaphors. It hooked me. But it also established an air of pretentiousness that persisted like a smog. Suddenly the pages were inundated with characters, historical references, and so much telling going on that I couldn't get more than 2% through the novel. It felt like reading a 1930's hipster's journal as he observed these events, were a contemporary hipster to use the titular device to actual travel to that era.

But after I did get past that initial part, the other 98% flew by.

Sure, there were other rambling metaphors. There were philosophical tangents. Twice (before the ending, which breaks the book to pieces in an alternate way), the chapters suddenly become about some other minor, impossibly interesting character who crosses paths with Loeser, as though the author got bored with the dichotomous personality that is his quirky-yet-gloomy protagonist. But this book had me laughing out loud. It kept introducing fascinating, disparate characters -- one of my favorite being Colonel Gorge, whose hosting abilities are reminiscent of the Mad Hatter. I wouldn't want to befriend Loeser, but he was interesting and human enough that I liked following him around. And the writing style feels fresh, despite its historical placement.

It's the kind of novel where you're not sure what its trajectory is. There's a basic goal - find Adele, the subject of Loeser's lust - but he's so sidetracked ("derailed," more like) that this storyline becomes a mere subplot. But honestly, I enjoyed the novel most when it wasn't about Loeser's sex life.

Know what surprised me about this book? It wasn't romantic or moralistic but it managed to have some really touching, genuine moments. It made comments without being preachy and it showed an interesting perspective of World War II that was unsentimental yet tasteful -- until it takes a somber, quiet turn that arrives in the form of a nostalgic conversation, which was still woven into the story with grace.

And I must say, the very last paragraph still has me laughing. Which means the final sentence more than made up for the faults of the first.

OVERALL RATING: Well gosh. I want a hard copy of this book now and it comes out THIS MONTH on the 26th (my birthday, it so happens - coincidence? yes. yes it is). Its target audience is really 18+, but I strongly recommend this novel for anyone who likes a nice blend of quirky humor, mystery, and historical fiction-- as long as you can get past the minor segments of mechanical and redundant eroticism (or descriptions of the lack-thereof). But seriously, give it a shot. Just... make sure you read all of Part 1 before you give it up, if you're tempted to. I'm sure glad I stuck with it.

Review in Haiku
Sure: it's pretentious.
But it's complex and unique,
And it made me laugh.


Thank you to Ned Beauman, Bloomsbury Publishing, and the admins at NetGalley for lending this title to me for review.