Tuesday, August 31, 2010

8/31 Tuesday Teaser

Hello again! I am very tired and must get up early tomorrow for my first day of senior year. Woohoo. Just one more year and then high school is over. Forever. Although a year is still a pretty long time. Anyway, since it's Tuesday I ought to post one of them Tuesday Teasers.

So here is a very short bit from Glass Flowers, a story that I probably will not get around to writing again for … well … a few months. I have a ton of things waiting in line to be written. Plus I need to finish editing Walking Shadow (again) because now three agents are waiting to read the 100,000-word version of it. Just 33,000 more words to cut. O_O Well anyway, here's Glass Flowers!

My father once told me that the sea always gives back what it takes. I remember how I used to run along the shoreline, bringing back treasures from the journey and dropping them into his hands. He would run his rough fingertips over the sea-smoothed stones and one time he told me, “You know, some of these rocks might have traveled across entire oceans to get here.”

I stared, disbelieving, at the white stone that sat like a tiny moon in the palm of his hand. “How?”

“Well, there's no telling exactly how it got here. Maybe one day, a long time ago, on some island far away, there was a little girl like you who threw this rock into the ocean. And the motion of the water tossed it around, carried it across the ocean floor all the way here, to where we are.”

I looked out across the tossing waves, squinting as I tried to find this imaginary island my father spoke of.

“The sea always gives back what it takes,” he said. “Maybe it takes hundreds or thousands of years, but sooner or later, each little stone finds its way back to shore.”

The words were forever imprinted on my mind. From then on, whenever I picked up the ocean's gifts from the sand, they felt heavier, as if I held the weight of the whole soft, glowing world in my hand. I imagined each round stone making its treacherous journey, tumbling over the ocean floor––then finally, at the end of a hundred years, finding a place to rest in the sand. The thought always made hope bloom inside my chest, like a flower opening and tasting sunshine for the first time.

The sea always gives back what it takes, I would tell myself.

But the sea never gave back my mother.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jealousy––Is it "healthy" for writers?

One of my fellow teen-writer/bloggers brought up a question in one of her recent posts that really got me thinking. (Here's a link to the post. Check it out!) In this post, she wrote:

"I am jealous of other writers. … My question to you is: Is jealousy healthy for a writer, or even justifiable in any case? As long as I am not angry with the person, could this strengthen my writing in some way?"

This is a question that I've asked myself many times, and now I see that it is on the minds of other writers as well. So, can envy towards other writers "healthy" and/or justifiable? It's a tricky subject, but I think it's also an important one that should be addressed.

My answer: Yes––I think that a certain kind of jealousy can be very healthy for a writer. There are some cases in which it would be bad. But I think that, if you understand how to channel that envy into productivity, it can make you a better writer.

Let's face it, jealousy is bound to happen. I've never met a writer who said, "I'm the best writer ever!" In fact, writers tend to be really down on themselves (myself included). If you're on any writing forums, it's inevitable that you'll see something along the lines of:

Writer A: Gosh, I suck. I wish I could write like you, Writer B!
Writer B: Noooo. I'M the one who sucks! I wish I could write like YOU, Writer A!

Fact of life is, no writers totally like themselves. We criticize ourselves constantly. We see the flaws in our own work and agonize over how to fix them. Trust me, I've hated my own work with a burning passion before. Then you might look at someone else's writing and say, "Dang, this is perfect! How does he/she do it?!" But the truth is, that writer is just as––if not more––critical of him/herself as you are of yourself.

Good writing takes a lot of self-discipline. Someone may seem to write effortlessly, but probably (unless the writer is some freak of nature) they have not always been great at writing. And they may have gone through tons of drafts before they produced what you're reading. Just like you, this writer has been envious of other writers. He/she has tried and failed and tried again.

So ask yourself … What do I envy so much about this writing? The style? The characters? The world? The dialogue? And then see if you can learn something from it. Set goals for yourself. Maybe you need to study your characters more. Maybe you need more dialogue. Maybe you need your writing to be more concise or more descriptive.

In short: if this jealousy you feel is a form of admiration rather than hostility––if you learn something from it––then it can be a positive thing.

Of course, jealousy can also be bad. It's not good if you say to yourself, "Gee, I'll never be as good as so-and-so! I GIVE UP." Or if you say, "Gosh, I'm so jealous! I'm just gonna steal this idea and then everyone will like me. Teehee. 'ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A GIRL NAMED STELLA AND HER VAMPIRE BOYFRIEND, FREDWARD …'"

In both of these cases, you're giving up on yourself due to jealousy. While other writing should inspire you, you have to remember that originality is important. This "so-and-so" writer isn't "better" than you, necessarily. He/she just has a different style from you, and you shouldn't see that as a bad thing and/or feel the need to steal ideas in order to be "good". You have your own, unique style too. Good writing should motivate you to find your own voice, not to hate it. Be patient. Developing a personal writing style takes time and practice.

So, I urge you to ask yourself which writers you envy. Maybe make a list, and then write down what it is you envy about them. Then decide how you can channel these skills into your own writing (without becoming a plagiarist, of course!).

Thanks for reading! STAY GREEN!

(haha, Get it? It's like "Stay gold!" but with "green" instead because … you know … "green with envy". Wow. Outsiders reference + bad joke = not funny. But I couldn't help myself. I love The Outsiders, btw, but that's off-topic. PEACE!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

8/24 Tuesday Teaser! (almost forgot, luckily Amy reminded me)

Hello there friends! I love you all … in a CREEPY way! Just kidding. Maybe.

So now, it's Tuesday. I almost forgot. Not that it's Tuesday, but that it's TEASER DAY! Luckily for you, my dear ninja-friend Amy reminded me. And also recommended (took me three tries to spell that right) that I post some of Rage.

Rage is my creepy fantasy-dystopia version of Beauty & the Beast. Enough said. Here is a snippet from it. ENJOY, AND THANKS FOR READING. :)

It was morning, but it was as dark as the dead of night outside.

I woke up to Caroline's voice, hissing my name. "Natasha. Natasha!"

I opened my eyes, which quickly adjusted to the dim light. My sister was shaking me, and I could see that her eyes were wide with terror. Right away, my heart started thudding. I heard the distant crackle of thunder, and my fear was confirmed. Like always, it was a feeling that came out of nowhere, a sensation that couldn't be defined. It was like a snake slowly coiling around my neck and choking me.

I couldn't breathe. "Today?" was all I could manage to croak out.

Caroline already had a shawl wrapped around herself. Her teeth chattered. She nodded.

I sat up, rubbing at my eyes, running my hands through my hair. My head reeled, trying to clutch at my own fluttering thoughts and pin them down.

Today. Today was the Sacrifice. Caroline and I were fifteen years old now, and that meant that, for the first time, we were in danger.

As I got out of bed, the chill of the early morning seemed to sweep around me in a cruel embrace. I noticed that our mother and Brandon were up, too. They were both standing at the cottage door, my mother crying and Brandon trying to comfort her.

I grabbed a simple blue dress from the closet. Caroline turned away, and I hastily got dressed, my fingers fumbling with the buttons. I could hear my own loud pulse in my ears, my breathing coming out thin and shaky.

I couldn't believe this was happening. Me? And Caroline? In danger of being Sacrificed? I wasn't sure whether to feel terrified or angry about it. Of course I feared being chosen, having to journey by myself into the unknown. But I was also furious. How dare that Monster demand this from us! And why did we obey? Why did we choose to do so without protest?

I hopped over to the door, still pulling on one of my shoes. Caroline handed me a shawl, which I draped over my shoulders.

I tried not to look at our mother, but I couldn't help it. One glance, and I could see how devastated she was. She had always been fragile and emotional, which probably had something to do with the death of our father; he had died when Caroline and I were babies, so neither of us could remember him. Lately, things had seemed to get worse for our mother. She kept getting paler, skinnier, until she almost looked like a child. Right now, tears were running from her dark eyes, streaking down her thin face.

“No, no,” she was sobbing, wild with fear. “Girls, you can't … I won't let them …”

Brandon had a hand on her shoulder. “Mother, don't worry. They'll be fine.” He gave me a pleading look, like he was begging me to say something. He probably didn't trust Caroline to comfort our mother; she was the kind of person who would only break down crying and make everything worse.

“We'll be fine,” I echoed my brother. I tried to force a reassuring smile onto my face. “Now, come on. We have to get to the Meeting House.”

Walking outside, I felt like I was experiencing the end of the world. Black clouds rolled across the sky, roaring with thunder, lightning branching down from them like electric blue veins. Rain lashed into my face right away, and I had to keep blinking in order to keep the water out of my eyes. In seconds, we were all soaked.

Meanwhile, the other Villagers were emerging from their cottages and scurrying towards the Meeting House with their hands over their heads, as if that would shield them from the downpour. Some people were shouting, crying out in fear. Others were murmuring to each other in anxious tones. I couldn't clearly see the expressions on anyone's faces; everyone kept their heads down to avoid the assault of the rain. The only comfort I felt was the brush of Caroline's shoulder against mine, as we walked side by side towards our unknown fates.

“Natasha.” My best friend, Michelle, came up behind me, out of breath. Her face was flushed; she had the type of fair skin that blushed easily. She brushed her dark brown hair, which was limp from the pouring rain, out of her face. She clutched at her wet shawl, pulling it tighter around herself. “I can't … can't believe this is happening.” Her voice was hoarse, almost a whisper.

“I know,” I answered in a mutter. I swallowed, feeling like I was going to be sick. “Neither can I.”

We didn't say anything else. The Meeting House had come into view. It was a simple, sturdy building built out of stones. It had small, round windows that didn't provide much light; on the inside it was always dark, giving the place a gloomy atmosphere. Especially on a day like this one, it didn't improve the mood.

Inside, everyone was crushed together, like every person was trying to get lost in the crowd. I held my breath, staying between my sister and my best friend. My mother and Brandon came in behind us. My mother was still crying, but more quietly now.

I searched the faces of the people around me, searching for the girls who were in danger. I saw parents trying to comfort hysteric daughters. Or, in some cases, the girls were trying in vain to console their parents. Everywhere, there were voices whispering that everything was going to be all right. Every girl seemed confident that she wouldn't be the Sacrifice. But it had to be someone, I wanted to scream at them. One of us has to go. One of us has to die.

As if in a dark reminder, thunder rumbled through the sky, and it sounded like deep laughter.

At the front of the round room, there was a wide platform. An elderly woman in black robes stood on it, as still as stone. Her snow-white hair was pulled back in a tight bun. Even though we all knew that she was very old, there was still an unusual hint of youth in her face, a sparkle of wisdom and intelligence in her eyes that made her appear younger. She was the leader of the Village, the one who watched over us all. We all addressed her as Mother Dearest.

Mother Dearest raised her hands, her white palms outstretched towards us, to calm the unsettled crowd. The voices around me fell obediently. Caroline and Michelle both reached for my hands, and I squeezed their hands in return. Like everyone else, I turned my face up towards Mother Dearest to listen. I couldn't help but feel a burst of blind hope: she would make everything all right, just as she always did. I trusted her, and she wouldn't let anything happen to any of us.

But I knew, in my heart, that she was powerless against the Monster. As many times as she had saved us all, she could do nothing to prevent the Sacrifice from happening.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday Teaser (and it IS really Tuesday this time! I swear!)

OKAY. I WILL NOT FORGET THIS TIME. It is Tuesday, thus time for a Tuesday Teaser. Your teaser for today comes from my new story, Spill, which is about a girl who is bullied to death. That is, two girls torment her to the point where she kills herself. Mostly the idea came from the Phoebe Prince story, although that's not the only story about bullying and suicide that has horrified me. But what I wanted to explore was more about the bullies' point of view and how it might feel if you caused someone to kill herself/himself. Yeah, I know, not a very happy subject … but an important one that I think deserves some more attention. So, enjoy! **WARNING: Again, there are swears in this one!**

You can't kill someone with words. No matter how scathing they are, no matter how much hatred they contain, they're nothing more than a handful of syllables, a jumbled mess of letters.


Maybe they seem to lash out, like someone is slapping you across the face.


It's an explosion inside your head, a sensation that could almost be mistaken for pain.


Yeah, so maybe they can hurt. But a word is not a physical blow. It can't make you bleed. It doesn't hold up a gun to your head and pull the trigger. It doesn't wrap a noose around your neck and strangle the air from your lungs.

It's all words, words, words. Nonsense. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself. I have to believe it.

I have to believe that I didn't kill Claudia Anders.


Karina is sitting on my bed. I'm standing at the window. We're both completely still. I don't know what's running through her mind, but mine is replaying the message we heard over the intercom this morning.

Claudia is dead. She killed herself––went home after school and hung herself in a closet, just like that. I remember how in Health class last year, we learned about how afternoon is when most suicidal kids choose to do it. It's unexpected, your parents are at work and they don't get home until it's too late.

I also remember this retarded thing we did with a paper doll in Health class. We had to pass it around the room, and one by one we had to insult it and then fold up a little piece of it.

You're stupid.

You're ugly.

No one likes you

By the time the paper doll had made its way all around the room, it was crumpled into a ball. The teacher held it up for us to see, saying, “This is what happens when you throw insults at someone. Maybe you don't mean it, but it folds up a little piece of them. And they just keep folding and folding in on themselves until there's nothing left.”

Karina was in that class with me, and I remembered how she looked at me right then and rolled her eyes and how I rolled my eyes back at her like I always did––because Health was stupid, because we never learned a goddamned thing from it.

But there was something about that scrunched-up mess of a paper doll that secretly got to me. I tried to crush down the stirring of fear inside, that part of me that opened and exposed the secret part of my soul that I had always hated––the part of me that always split open when I saw the hurt deep in Claudia's eyes.

Now it's ripping its way through again, like an evil demon leering at me.

You did this. It's your fault. She's dead because of you.

I was one of the people who folded her up, who crumpled her. She wasn't strong enough to withstand it, the constant flow of words that tore her apart piece by piece, that wore her down like a stone eroded into dust by a rushing river.

Karina says, “It's not our fault.”

But I don't answer. I want more than anything just to nod, just to tell her she's right. But there's that demon still inside of me, grinning in my face and threatening to kill me if I lie.

Maybe you can't kill someone with words. But you could have the thickest muscles in the world, and no physical strength could protect you from the brutal slap of insults. One word could still make you collapse in tears.

“It would've happened anyway, you know? She was messed up. She would've done it anyway,” Karina says.

I look out the window, watch each car go by, watch my whole vision start to go blurry.

“Damn it, Hilary. Talk to me. You know we didn't do anything. It's not like we murdered her.”

Shut up, my mind snarls at her. Shut up, shut up, shut up.

“She just did it to get attention. She knew no one would care about her unless she was dead. She would just love it if it messed us up.”

My hands are curling into fists and I want to scream at her, words that I've always been too afraid to say to her. Words I still can't say now.

“You're not crying, are you?” She chokes, sniffs. “God damn it, Hilary. You better not be crying.”

But suddenly, I'm as calm as can be––floating over the world and feeling nothing.

The funny thing is, she's the one who's crying.

Thanks for reading! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Teen Writing Does NOT Suck

Hi there, folks! I meant to post this earlier but I was on vacation all week and had no internet, so it was not possible. Quick update on my publishing life: Laura Langlie and Katherine Boyle both rejected my full manuscript. However, Ms. Boyle suggested that I cut my manuscript down from 147K to about 100K and she'd be willing to look at it again … so I'm working on that. I also got another full request from Helen Zimmerman and a partial request from Logan Garrison. Woohoo! Plus a bunch of form rejections but … eh, those aren't very interesting.

Anyway, on to today's topic!!!

So, I was randomly surfing around on the internet the other day, and I stumbled across this blog post by author John Scalzi called 10 Things Teenagers Should Know About Writing, the first point being #1: Right Now, Your Writing Sucks, in which he claimed that teenagers lack the grammar skills, knowledge, experience, etc. to produce good writing. Now, this post had a lot of good advice in it, but he made a note about how most kids reading the post automatically stopped after the first point and wrote him a long angry note in the comments section. He then wrote a second post called On Teens, and the Fact that Their Writing Sucks in which he basically shot down all the comments he received; this irked me more than the original post.

To be fair, I read the entirety of both these posts, and I understood what he was trying to say. Furthermore, I actually agreed with most of it. The thing is, he said it in a way that was angering teens instead of helping them, so they wouldn't listen to his good advice.

It's not fair to tell teenage writers that their writing "sucks". Inexperience does not equal suckageness. That's like telling some little kid on a tricycle, "Dude, you SUCK at riding a bicycle!" Then what's the kid going to do? Will he feel like riding a bicycle ever again? Or is he more likely to feel discouraged and offended? Hmmmm?

So, I thought I'd make this easier by explaining it teen-to-teen. None of that condescending crap. Yes, I am learning and growing as a writer, and I know what it's like to constantly be reminded of it as if I didn't know. Yes, teenagers lack life experience and possibly the basics of English grammar, but that does not mean that we "suck". We just need practice! In my opinion, the adolescent stage is one of the best times to be a writer, and I'll tell you why.


1. You don't have to worry too much about publishing, so it's a good time to practice, practice, practice. Yes, of course I support teens who are trying to get published––I'd be a total hypocrite if I didn't. But I know that many kids are just starting to experiment with writing at this age, and I completely support that too. If you're a teen writer, it's not like "OH CRAP, MY EDITOR NEEDS MY MANUSCRIPT IN TWO WEEKS!" There are no deadlines, so you can write whatever the heck you want. You can try out all different kinds of styles and genres, and there's no pressure to make it "good"––not that teens can't be critical of themselves. But if you are critical of yourself, you can also edit/rewrite as many times as you want to.

2. You have the time. Sure, you have school and homework––maybe some after-school sports or a job. But (hopefully) you don't have a bunch of kids to take care of or a full-time career. It's easier for kids to find time in their schedules to just sit down and write. Finding the time to write is the first step of becoming a good writer, and time is something that most teens have a lot of.

3. There are a lot of ways teens can get published nowadays. I'm not talking book-publishing necessarily, but there are great literary magazines where teenagers can get short stories and poetry published––such as Stone Soup, Cicada and Teen Ink, to name a few. There are also a lot of websites where writers can put up work and get feedback, like Mibba, WEbook, Goodreads, etc. It's a good idea to start small when it comes to publishing, because it's not too overwhelming but you still get a glimpse of what the publishing experience is like. I used to enter Cricket magazine story contests all the time; I got third place once for a lovely little story about singing mice. :) But Cricket also sent out little form-rejection postcards to the entries that didn't win, so I learned what that was like, too.

4. You're in your "prime suffering years". Okay, so one of my favorite movies of all time is "Little Miss Sunshine", and here is one of my favorite quotes from it:

Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap––high school and everything––just skip it.
: Do you know who Marcel Proust is?

: He's the guy you teach.

: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh... he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, those were the best years of his life, 'cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18... Ah, think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-–those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.

A little off-topic I guess, but the point is, you learn a lot from your suffering––and as teenagers, we suffer a lot. What's great about teens is that we are brimming with angst. Now you're probably wondering, "Why is it a great thing that I'm full of angst?" Well, when you are a teenager you become very questioning about life. You start to wonder what the point is and where you're going. It gets to the point where you're so confused and stressed out that you feel about ready to explode from it. And that's why a lot of teens write––to get out their ideas and questions and relieve all that stress. So yes, this may produce rambling and/or choppy prose, but it helps you to get out a lot of ideas. Maybe not all of these ideas will be useful to you now, but they may be inspiration to you when you're an adult. I know I get inspiration from my old writing all the time, and I'm predicting that my writing today will inspire me in the future.

5. There are teenage authors out there! Now, I suppose this point is kind of a cheat. Just because some teenagers have published books doesn't necessarily mean that they're "good". In fact, most published teens seem to have stories that go along the lines of, "My mom's neighbor's grandma's cousin's friend happens to be a literary agent and heard about my book and wanted to read it! What a crazy random happenstance!" But oh well, at least these teenagers had the integrity to write full novels in the first place, and some of them have talent. Teen authors include S.E. Hinton, Mary Shelley, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Isamu Fukui, Flavia Bujor, Nancy Yi Fan, Alexandra Adornetto … and I suppose I have to include Christopher Paolini but … ah, let's not talk about him. I'm sure there are lots of others that I don't even know about, but as you can see there are already quite a few that come to mind. And even if these teens haven't produced flawless books, they all write a lot better than a majority of adults. If they can do it, so can we!

To make myself clear, I'm not saying that all teen writing is publishable. I have to agree with John Scalzi that a lot of young adults still have much to learn about grammar, about style, about originality, etc. That doesn't mean that they SUCK, but it means that they have to keep practicing. Write every day, get feedback and take it into consideration, and (as corny as it sounds) keep believing in yourself! Don't expect it to be perfect, but don't be too hard on yourself either. Polishing your writing and finding a voice is very important, so keep at it. ;)

** Now, to be completely off-topic, I would like to advertise one of my best-friend-ninja's blog since I promised her I would. So HERE IS SELLA'S BLOG in which she gives out "free advice on life and fiction". :) Sella is amazing, I love her, and she needs followers. So check it out! Thanks :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday Teaser! (heh heh)

Wow, I'm soooo stupid that for some reason I spent like all of yesterday thinking it was Monday. Or I didn't think it was Monday but I kept thinking "Tomorrow is Tuesday!" So naturally, I didn't post a Tuesday Teaser as I promised. So now I will cheat and post a Wednesday Teaser (even though that ruins everything because there's no alliteration).

Here is a snippet from Unraveling. Yes, it's supposed to confuse you, even if you've read the whole thing. Haha. But just to give you a little bit of context, Mia––the main character––is going back to her hometown to visit her ex-friend, Emily. Some mysterious thing happened that broke their friendship part, but the reader doesn't know what it is (yet). The whole thing is narrated as if Mia is speaking to Emily, just to clarify why a lot of it is in second person. CONTAINS SOME SWEARING (nothing too heavy though, just if you're uber-sensitive about that kind of thing, I thought I'd give you a little warning.)

Shannon stares at me like she expects me to disappear. I probably look like crap; it's a wonder she recognizes me. I run a hand through my hair, trying not to cringe at every snarl that my fingers encounter. “Hi,” I manage to say. My voice probably matches my appearance: worn down, exhausted, defeated.

“Wow. Oh, my God. Hi.” Her freaky blue eyes look about ready to burst from her head. Her mouth twitches, like she can't decide whether to smile or not. “This is … whoa. I can't believe you're here.”

“Neither can I.”

She bites her lip, pulls the strap of her purse up further onto her shoulder. “So, um. Mind if I sit down?”


“No. Yeah, it's fine.”

She shuffles over to the seat across from me, her flip-flops slapping against the tiled floor. She sits down, right in that chair where you always used to sit. I guess, if I was looking out of the corner of my eye, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. She has the same color hair as you, Emily, just a little lighter in shade. She doesn't have a single freckle on her face, though. And her eyes are too bright. But, you know, no one can be you. I know, because I tried.

Shannon immediately starts picking up sugar packets and fiddling with them, turning them over and over in her fingers. She puts her purse down on the table, picks it up again. “Uh, you know, I should go buy my coffee first. I'll be right back.”


She comes back a minute later, plastic cup of iced coffee in hand. I watch as she dumps about five packets of sugar into it and stirs it with her straw.

“So, you're on vacation now?” she asks.

“Yeah. It's the first day.”

“Cool. We got out on Wednesday.”

I don't look at her. I watch droplets of condensation bead up on the glossy surface of the plastic cup and run down its side, pooling on the tabletop.

“So. Are you okay?” Shannon says.

That's always the question these days. I started realizing there had to be something wrong with me, when people never asked me “How are you?” anymore. It's always “Are you okay?” now, like they don't even have to bother to inquire whether I'm in a good mood or not.

I shrug one shoulder, heat rising to my face.

“I'm sorry,” Shannon blurts. “I know, that was a dumb question.”

“It's okay.” I sit up a little straighter in my chair, clear my throat. “I've, uh, been getting better.”

“Good. Well … That's good.” Shannon picks up her coffee and takes a sip, before setting it down again. The silence stretches out like a fathomless ocean between us, dark and deep.

“You know, I––I'm really sorry,” Shannon says.

My eyes sting. I swallow. God, I'm just so … tired. And I'm sick of people apologizing. It's the only thing people seem to be able to do.

“Don't be.” I finally gather the courage to look up, and Shannon is staring back at me like she's afraid I'm going to slap her. She sits at the edge of her seat, and I almost expect her to get up and leave without another word.

Shannon looks down, stirring her coffee again. The ice cubes rattle against the plastic interior of the cup. “Mia––you shouldn't be mad at her.”

Something stirs in the pit of my stomach, and I don't know if it's just because I'm hungry. I still haven't taken a bite of my muffin, but I don't really feel like eating. I feel like you're standing behind me, Emily, waiting for me to speak.

“I know. I'm not,” I lie.

Shannon sits perfectly still, like it's too hard for her to think and stir coffee at the same time. “It wasn't her fault.”

I nod, and I hate myself for it. Your phantom-like presence is still standing behind me, smiling in triumph.

Shannon seems to lose interest in her coffee. She leans back in her chair and gazes out the window. She laughs, but not happily. “Shit, Mia. I don't know … Maybe you don't believe it, but it wasn't just her. It wasn't the things she said or did, or what you did. It wasn't your fault, either.” She lets out a shaking breath, rubbing her hands over her bare knees. “It wasn't just the two of you. It was the whole damn school. It was all of us. You know?”

“I guess.”

Shannon shakes her head. “I'm just saying. You know how people get. They just want to, like, fit in. And then there's that whole 'mob mentality' kind of thing. They go along with everyone else, just because they don't want to be outcasts or whatever. And, you know, it's not like anyone tried to help you. No one stood up for you. But I'm saying, that doesn't mean they believed everything she said.”

You'd be happy to know, Emily, that I doubt that. I think they all believed it. You've always had that ability to turn everyone in your presence into a helpless little puppy dog, looking up to you for guidance. All you have to do is say the word, and they hang off of every syllable like it's sacred. All you have to do is widen your pretty blue eyes and the world bows at your feet.

“I'm not saying that people don't talk about it,” Shannon goes on. She reaches for her coffee again, drinks some more, swirls the cup around absently. “They still say things. But, you know, don't take it personally. I've just always felt bad about it. I would've stuck up for you, except I was just as scared as anyone else was. But Emily … she lied. I know that, and I think everyone knows.”

It's the first time I've heard someone say your name out loud like that in a long time. It shocks me back to reality. I haven't seen you in such a long time, sometimes I forget that you're a real person. I forget that you're still on the face of the planet. And I'm not sure whether remembering makes it better or worse. It feels like a pound of ice cubes are sitting at the bottom of my stomach.

Shannon lets out a long sigh, before she continues. “Hell, it's been––what? Two years by now? That's the sad thing, you know. People don't realize how stupid they were being until afterwards. I don't know about everyone else, but I think the whole thing was so dumb. And I'm sorry I went along with it.”

“Well, thanks.”

Shannon makes another attempt at a smile. “I'm sorry. Am I being totally weird?”

“A little.”

“I know. Sorry. It's just, you know, I figured I might as well say something before you go off and disappear again.” She picks up her coffee and examines it like she's never seen it before. “So, what are you doing here, anyway?”

I shrug again. “Nothing. I just thought I'd come back. I haven't been here in so long.”

“Yeah.” She takes another drink of coffee. “It's like you totally disappeared from the face of the earth. Where have you been?”

“I moved.”

Shannon rolls her eyes. “Well, obviously. But you also, like, cut off all contact from the rest of the world.”

“Yeah, well. I kind of wanted to just get away from it. Away from … this town. From everything.” From you, Emily.

“Right,” Shannon says. “Makes sense. I mean, I see where you're coming from. I would've done the same thing.”

I always hate when people say that. Would have. Could have. Should have. I could make a list about ten miles long of everything that could have happened, of everything I should have said and done. And what's the use in thinking about something that didn't happen and never will? When it's too late to turn back, the only thing you can do is let go. But we're so stubborn that way, holding onto things that could have been. It's one of those things that makes life so unbearable.

Besides, it's not like Shannon knows me. She can't put herself in my shoes. She can't imagine what I went through. She was just one of the people standing on the outside, watching from the sidelines. Now that everything is over, of course it's easy for her to step forward and say that she's sorry, say that she sympathizes with me and understands what I did. But that's because she's a coward.
I don't mean that as an insult. Not really. I mean, everyone is like that. Everyone wants to fit in, to be a part of the majority, to follow everyone else and stand in line. Like Shannon just said, it's that mob mentality. When someone lays the blame down, you point in the same direction as everyone else, because it's the only way to protect yourself, because people fear what they disagree with and what they can't understand. And fear is the origin of hatred.

So, I'm not saying that it's wrong of her. It's just typical, almost clichéd.

“Anyway,” Shannon says. “How long are you staying around here?”

That's a good question, one I haven't really thought about yet. “Until I feel like going home, I guess,” I answer. “Or I mean, after … I really only came here to …”

“Emily,” Shannon says.

I cringe on the inside. There's that name again. Her name. I mean, your name.

I take a deep breath. “Yeah. I just want to … talk to her first, you know?”

I expect to get an incredulous look in response: one of those “Mia-are-you-out-of-your-freaking-mind?” looks. But Shannon just nods, likes she thinks she understands.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Artworky stuff

Hello there. I have nothing to write about today so I thought I'd share some of my gorgeous artwork, since I've never shared any of it (besides the Walking Shadow covers). Here goes.

This is a comic strip I drew for Illustration class. It's backwards because my computer takes pictures backwards, and I'm too lazy to edit it right now. So. Haha. If you can't read it, it says "Baby Monster by Brigid Gorry-Hines", then on the TV it says "Godzilla", and in the last two panels one monster says "What are you looking at?" and the other one answers, "My future!" (That was the "script" we had to work with.)

Butterflyyy. And a river and a tree and grass and the skyyy!!! I also drew this for Illustration class. And you can see my beautiful hands too.

Pretty pen drawing, also for Illustration. It was based on the quote "My childhood and my dog share a grave in my backyard." I don't know where my teacher got the quote though. :P meh heh.

Wheeee emo heart drawing! I like this one. I drew it on my Biology binder with Sharpie, then I took a picture of it and messed with it to make it look all pretty. Yay! ^_^




An evil-lookin' guy with a top hat!

Cover of a pop-up book I made!

Aaaaand …

THE INSIDE OF THE POP-UP BOOK!!! (You can't see it, but the rocket ship moves!!!)

Lastly … a picture of an angel-thing. YAYYYY.

As for writerly stuff: still haven't heard back from Katherine Boyle or Laura Langlie yet. I assume that means they are both thoroughly enjoying my novel. Or so I try to tell myself.

Also, since I started participating more in the Absolute Write forums, I found that a bunch of people have this "Tuesday teaser" thing on their blogs where, every Tuesday, they show a snippet of something they're writing. So seeing as tomorrow is Tuesday, I think that tomorrow I will participate in this thing. Sooo teaser coming up tomorrow! SEE YA.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Brigid Interviews Herself

Hi, I'm bored and I like interviews. Now, there is no one to interview me so I thought I'd interview myself. That way I can ask myself all the quest
ions that other people usually ask me, plus the questions people never ask me that I want to answer anyway! By the way, I'm REALLLLY high on caffeine right now, which may have influenced this decision. So yeah, now I'm going to ask myself some questions, trying to mostly focus on Walking Shadow and writing. Although there will some random stuff thrown in there. ((Thanks to my Ninja friends for giving me some ideas for extra questions, btw))

Q: Hi there Brigid! How are you?

A: Great. I guess.

Q: Who's your favorite Teletubby?

A: What an odd first question. But anyway. My favorite Teletubby is Tinky Winky, because his name makes me giggle. Also he's gay and carries a purse, which is awesome.

Q: Where do you get ideas?

A: From your MOM. Just kidding. From the Idea Fairy. Psh. Unless your mom IS the Idea Fairy! O_O No, seriously. I don't know where I get my ideas. No writer does, as far as I know. That's the annoying thing about them. You just have to wait for them to come along. Usually they come from something totally random––like a snippet of conversation that I overhear, or a line from a song, or a picture I see, or a magazine article or something. And then it's like BAM! There are suddenly these weird images in front of me and voices talking in my ear. It's like a drug trip, mannnnn. Really, it's kind of a bizarre experience. I think all writers are a bit insane. Creativity is psychologically similar to schizophrenia, you know.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Walking Shadow?

A: The idea for Walking Shadow came from multiple things. It was one of those ideas where it actually started as two ideas, but it turned out that neither of them worked without the other so I put them together. If you're not familiar with the story, there are two main characters: Cassandra and Jason. Originally it was just about Cassandra, and I tried to write it and it failed––mostly because I had no idea who/what she was. I knew that she had weird visions and stuff; at first I thought it was a ghost story. But I knew it was missing something so I put it aside. Later on I had a glimmer of an idea about a boy who kills everything he touches, but I didn't know why. The two ideas merged when I was reading Macbeth in sophomore English class. I read the line "Life is a walking shadow …" and I was like "Oooh, now that would be a great book title!" And with all ideas, there was that inexplicable moment where the whole thing suddenly just worked. The two ideas clicked together and I was like *HAPPY DANCE*. So I wrote the idea down somewhere and I wrote it for NaNoWriMo '09––started it in November, finished in early January. No idea how I managed to write it so fast, it being Junior year and all …

Q: Do you have any wonderful covers you've created for this book?

A: BAHAHAHA. Yeah. Lemme show you. I've made some pretty kick-ass covers using images I don't own … so I guess I can't share those because then someone would find them and be like "OMG I'M SO OFFENDED" and then I'd have to take them down from my blog and burn them and stuff. So, I'll just show you the ones I drew myself. Basically I drew a pretty rose and then I used it to make pretty book covers like THESE:

Q: What authors inspire you?

A: Lots and LOTS of authors! But I'll try to narrow it down.

Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), Patrick Ness (CHAOS WALKING TRILOGY!!!! *I'm a little obsessed*), Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, Kane Chronicles series), Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments series), Neal Shusterman (Unwind, the Skinjacker trilogy, Downsiders, The Schwa was Here), Libba Bray (Gemma Doyle trilogy, Going Bovine), Maggie Stiefvater (Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Books of Faerie series) … And probably a bunch of others that I'm forgetting. Woohooo. :)

Q: What music inspires you?

A: *Takes deep breath*

Acceptance, Adele, Blue Foundation, Boys Like Girls, The Cab, Civil Twilight, Cobra Starship, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dashboard Confessional, Daughtry, Death Cab for Cutie, Dido, Elisa, Evanescence, Fall Out Boy, A Fine Frenzy, Five for Fighting, Florence + the Machine, The Fray, Glen Hansard, Goo Goo Dolls, Gratitude, Hey Monday, The Hush Sound, Imogen Heap, Jason Mraz, Kate Voegele, Kelly Clarkson, The Killers, Kings of Leon, KT Tunstall, Lifehouse, Lights, Linkin Park, Marina and the Diamonds, Matchbox 20, Meg & Dia, MGMT, Michelle Branch, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Nelly Furtado, Nickel Creek, Nickelback, Owl City, P!nk, Paramore, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sara Bareilles, The Script, Sia, Snow Patrol, Taking Back Sunday, Third Eye Blind, The Ting Tings, Tokio Hotel, Train, U2, Vanessa Carlton, We Are the Fallen, Within Temptation

*grins* :)

Q: What are you writing right now?

A: Well, I could tell you. … But then I'd have to kill you.


Um, I'm writing four things at the moment. One is a short story sci-fi/dystopia/romance thing that I'm writing for a collection of Ninja-Writer stories. I'll post updates on that. Other than that … I'm writing Unraveling, which a realistic fic that is basically a teenage girl ranting about her hatred for her ex-best friend and remembering everything that led to them becoming ex-friends. I'm also writing Rage, which is a fantasy-dystopia retelling of Beauty & the Beast. And lastly I'm writing Sky-Fall, which is this epic sci-fi thing about people fighting each other with giant robots! I'm sorry, I'm terrible at describing my own stories. Heh heh.

Q: What book are you reading right now?

A: Runaway by Meg Cabot. :) heehee

Q: How do you choose character names?

A: Behindthename.com <-- best thing ever Anyway, answering the question. It varies. Sometimes I want them to mean something or be an allusion to something. Like Cassandra can see the future and the mythological Cassandra was a prophet. Sometimes I like the names to mean something in an ironic way; like how Jason means "healer" (or something to do with healing) and my character Jason kills everything he touches. A lot of the time I just choose names randomly though. The right name always "clicks", like it was meant to be. :)

Q: Who's your favorite character that you've created?

A: MAXWELL COLLINS. He's a superheroooo!!! (according to Acacia) He's the main character of Edge and Jump … and the third book, Crash, which I have not yet written. I, uh, don't know what much else to say about him. He has superpowers and he's adorable and he kicks ass.

Q: How do you get titles for your books?

A: Heh, I have no idea. The only one I really chose was the title for Walking Shadow, since I got it right out of the Macbeth quote. The rest of them were either really obvious or they just occurred to me and seemed to fit.

Q: What's the funniest typo you've ever made?

A: One time I was trying to write "I sense danger", and I had written "I sense d-" when my sister ran into the room and said "We're having doughnuts for breakfast!" And I looked down and saw that I had written "I sense doughnuts."

Q: What is your computer named?

A: Frederick the Second. He is descended from Frederick the First, who is a ninja.

Q: What do you think makes a good book?

A: It depends. Good and distinctive writing is a plus, characters that are both realistic and believable, unique world-building if it's a sci-fi/fantasy, showing instead of telling, etc. I like books that are either really original, or a book that takes a clichéd idea and makes it unique somehow. My favorite books are ones that can be terrifying and/or depressing in some parts and hilarious in others. Because life isn't just funny or just depressing, ya know?

Q: What is the purpose of Walking Shadow?

A: To be rejected by every literary agent known to mankind. Just kidding. Umm not exactly sure. I never sit down to write a book with a certain "purpose" in mind. Themes seem to write themselves into my books and I'm like "Okay … cool." I think the message in Walking Shadow is that it's hard to tell what's real and what's not. There's this whole thing where the Underworld is a state of mind, where believing in it is what gives it its power. It's like, is believing something what makes it real? I don't know how to explain it very well, but that's the basic idea.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

A: I always liked reading/writing. I used to make books with crayons when I was, like, five years old. I think I was about eight or nine when I first got the idea in my head of writing a novel, a book with CHAPTERS. OOH. Although I found that I could never get past page five or so, so I switched to short stories and kept writing those until I was about eleven. At that point my fourth grade teacher (who was pretty much the most awesome teacher ever) was putting together a writing club and I joined, since I had never shared my stories with anyone. I remember one of the first writing clubs I was reading one of my stories out loud and this other teacher walked in and was like, "What book are you reading?" And I was like, "Mine … ?" Heehee. That was when it first really occurred to be that I could be an AUTHOR, and I realized that, not only did I love writing, but I was purty good at it too. I started writing my first novel when I was twelve, and I've been writing novels ever since then.

Q: How do you react to negative reviews?

A: Psh. I don't get negative reviews. Just kidding. Well, they are pretty rare though. It depends. If there's actually something useful/constructive in the negativity, then I'll take it. Sometimes people point out things in my writing that I didn't notice before, so it's useful. If it's just like "I don't like this. I don't know why, I just don't." Then it's like … Alrighty then, that doesn't really help me so there's nothing I can do.

Q: Do you have a specific writing style?

A: I dunno. I think it changes, depending on what fits the story. I try to keep it concise, not a lot of description. But my characters think/analyze a lot, and there's a lot of dialogue. I love dialogue. Dialogue and inner monologue are my true loves. I try to be funny sometimes, although my humor's usually dark humor. Mostly my books are serious-ish.

Q: Have you ever been abducted by aliens?

A: Only twice.

Q: Will you survive the zombie apocalypse?

A: Unfortunately, no. I can't run very fast, my fighting skills are so-so, and my brain is extra-delicious because it's so rich with knowledge.

So yeah, I'm done here for now. Hopefully everyone learned something about me. Now I should get around to interviewing people besides myself. :)