8 Good Things in 2016

2016 hasn’t been easy by any means and I know people are worn down by the year as a whole. I also know some of us (me included) are concerned about the aftermath being carried into 2017. It’s hard not to feel cynical, but I’m an optimist at heart. Even if I join in on the 2016 meme, I don’t think this year was a complete waste. Let’s end it on a happier note and remember the good in 2016.

1.) Great Year for Movies

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Remember this is the year that brought us Deadpool, Captain America 3: Civil War, Rouge One, Shin Godzilla, and Doctor Strange. Those are only a few of the films that made a brighter weekend for many of us.

2.) Great year for Superheroes

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Aside from phenomenal blockbusters with our favorite Avengers, this year was also good for superheroes on the small screen. Netflix gave us season 2 of Daredevil (and introduced Punisher who was fantastic) and Luke Cage in beautiful looking and heart pounding first season. We also got a 4 night crossover event from all of the DC shows on the CW. On a personal note, I also started watching all of the DC shows this year and as someone who grew up reading DC comics and watching Teen Titans and Justice League, it was wonderful falling in love with all my old favorites again.

3.) Televised Live Shows

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I am a musical theater nerd. I can’t help it. Only I live 2 or more hours away from cities that put on big shows so besides that one amazing Chicago production of Wicked, I haven’t seen many theatrical productions. I love that some channels are now doing live productions for people to watch at home who may not be able to travel to the theater let alone afford the tickets. This year we were given Grease Live and Hairspray Live, which I adored and I can’t wait for more!

4.) Cubs Win!

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I’m not a baseball fan (or even a sports fan), but my hometown is 2 hours from Chicago and most of my family adores the Cubs. My dad and grandmother especially do and seeing them get excited over this historic win made me happy too. Also, how can I not feel proud of my home state?

5.) Hamilton Mixtape

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Some people may say Hamilton is overrated, but I don’t care. It’s wonderful, give it a listen.

6.) Dirk Gently

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2016 gave us some great movies, but also a great show. I love Douglas Adams and seeing a version of one of his novels come to life was a blast to watch. There are only 8 episodes in the first season, but if you haven’t watched it yet I recommend it! It’s ridiculous, heartfelt, and witty with A+ casting.

7.) Little Celebrations

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On a small note, just remember that someone met the love of their life this year. Someone traveled for the first time. Someone got married. Someone got a promotion. Someone adopted an animal. Someone graduated. Someone found good friends. Someone finished their novel. Someone found a sense of purpose. Someone binged a whole series on Netflix and lived with no regrets (this last one is me).

8.) My Personal Successes

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I haven’t accomplished great things, but I did have some personal successes this year. I finished 2 more semesters of grad school. I had 3 poems get accepted into the International Pop Culture Conference for 2017. I reconnected with some old friends. I had a bit more courage this year to chase after the things I wanted and to break out of my shell a little more. This year I want to be more courageous, kinder, and wiser. Yes, I did just ask for the end results of the Wizard of Oz.

 

Feel free to comment with your best memories this year. Sending out good vibes for 2017!

Hidden Serenity

2016 hasn’t been an easy year for most of us, but I want to focus on the good little things still out there. The simple, peaceful things we don’t always notice.

 

Hidden Serenity

Sleeping in on a rainy morning

The sound of coffee brewing

Afternoon tea

Cozy cafes

The first warm day of spring – no jackets needed

Fireflies & campfires

Small bookstores hidden in old cities

Catching up with friends over coffee

Long car rides with good music

Gourmet chocolates

Star Wars marathons

 

 

 

 

Christmas Reading

Ah, Christmas break. It’s arguably one of the best times of the year because A.) Good food and B.) Time off work. And time off work means catching up with that reading list I made over the summer that never got completed. Only during the holiday season I usually want some festive reading material. After all, tis the season of Christmas movies and specials so why not add in books?

The only problem with festive reading is that my break is never quite long enough to devour full length novels despite some Christmas classics out there that deserve attention. That’s why this year I’ve been turning to short stories and poetry because they satisfy my book craving and fit into my schedule. Right now I’m on the hunt for short Christmas stories, but I haven’t quite found what I’m looking for yet. That doesn’t mean the search isn’t fun though. The more I research poems and short stories, the more authors I’m introduced to who would have slipped under my radar.

I also discovered that some of my favorite authors have posted their own holiday special from series online. Maggie Steifvater wrote a Raven Cycle holiday short story, which is everything I ever wanted and more. I discovered it last year and I’ve found myself coming back to it already. The nice thing about short festive stories is that they can be easily read year after year to keep the tradition alive much like my favorite holiday films.

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I really want to throw this blog post out to you guys though. What holiday stories do you fall back on or have discovered this year? Also, if you know any good authors of short fiction or poets please recommend them in the comments!

October Reading

When the holidays roll around, most people plan themed movie marathons to match the season. When it’s Halloween, it’s time for film with ghosts, monsters, cemeteries, or costume parties. I’m definitely one of those people because I already have a stack of DVD’s I’m ready to watch over and over again. Do people do the same for reading though?

When I think of a good fall book, I think of Ray Bradbury. I read “Something Wicked This Way Comes” for the first time in October when I was a freshman in college. I also remember reading “The October Country” around the same time partly because I was discovering how amazing Bradbury was and partly because those books fit the spirit of autumn so well.

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Lately, I don’t have a lot of time to read for fun, which is why I’ve been turning to poetry and flash fiction. I want more short pieces that have something to do with either the autumn season or the spooky side of October. I recently read “October Coat” by Maggie Stiefvater and loved it. The first few paragraphs alone give this vivid and raw description of the essence of early October that I’ve been trying to capture in my own work.

I’ve noticed that a lot of poems I’ve written for class lately are about autumn because I’ve been craving that reading material. The novella I’m working on takes place in summer, but all I want to do is write about pumpkin patches, foggy mornings, chills in the air, and possibly a few haunted houses or abandoned carnivals. Although, taking a break from larger projects to play around with themes of the season can be wonderful writing practice and I have a problem with writing too much flash fiction in my spare time.

Do you have any favorite October readings and/or do you try to write for the season around this time of the year?

 

 

Perfect Writing Weather

If you’re someone who loves to write, you can write almost anywhere at anytime. It doesn’t matter what the world may look like outside your window – maybe the sun is setting or just beginning to creep up over the horizon for a nice hello. Maybe the ground is buried beneath a pale, chilling glitter or mosquitoes and other insects cling to the window screen as you go into chapter 5. I can write all year round, but there’s still a certain type of weather that inspires me to do more. When I wake up in October to a brisk air drifting through my rain spattered window under an overcast sky, I must write. It’s the perfect weather for writing and it would be a shame to waste it.

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I can’t explain what makes it so perfect, but I love it. There’s this cozy aspect of so it makes me want to stay curled up in my bed with the soft glow of my laptop. If this type of weather happens on a Sunday, even better because there’s nowhere I need to be. I’m free of obligations so I can immerse myself into typed stories. Sometimes I’ll even drive down to a coffee shop and grab a warm drink and a muffin to keep me going as I settle in for the morning. I feel a stronger connection to my characters and plot. Maybe it’s because I feel the most at peace during these rainy, October Sundays. They take my mind off anxieties and the news so I can place more focus on my passions. I can put more thought into the things that bring me joy.

Halloween Movie Marathon – Ghostbusters

I was going to wait until October to do this, but I’m in the Halloween spirit and it can’t be stopped. For the next seven weeks leading up to Halloween, I want to spend Wednesdays talking about my favorite movies to marathon during this spooky season. Not all of them are necessarily Halloween films, but they still capture that October nights essence for me. So who am I gonna call for #7? The 1984 hit, Ghostbusters!

Unlike most people my age, Ghostbusters wasn’t a part of my childhood. I didn’t see it until I was a junior in college, which was roughly four years ago. Still, I loved it when I first sat down to watch it on TV and after it was over I stayed on the couch to watch the sequel, which I also loved. The cast is a huge part in my admiration for the film given the immense talent they put together (Rick Moranis is a gift to the acting community). It’s difficult for me to watch this without being charmed by their characters in someway.

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Ghostbusters may not be a scary movie for the Halloween season, but I don’t pick those kind of movies based on a scare factor. I like the more lighthearted, ghoulish movies over gore and horror. Ghostbusters is goofy for sure and by no means a masterpiece, but it has humor and heart. It doesn’t ask the audience to think too deeply, but it also doesn’t feel like mindless TV. It’s a creative piece complete with unique folklore for the spirits. In fact, if I have one solid critique, it would be that the film doesn’t spend enough time on the folklore.

Ghostbusters: It’s silly, filled with ghosts, and ends with a marshmallow man destroying the city.What’s not to love with this favorite?

 

 

 

Write What You Know

Everyone knows that phrase uttered in every creative writing course. The famous, “write what you know.” This is solid advice for writers both new and experienced. My only problem is that people tend to take it at a face value. They assume they should only write about plots or settings that they know well. If that were the case, then fantasy and sci-fi wouldn’t exist. I doubt J. R.R. Tolkien truly experienced a trek to Mordor.

Writing what you know doesn’t always have to be a place. Sometimes putting qualities you see in yourself or those around you into your characters is writing what you know. Sometimes looking at the way people speak to one another or the way emotions are handled in times of stress or happiness is writing what you know. To create a character who breathes, it helps to be perceptive on the way real people think and act.

When I write, I tend to give my cast a few of my own flaws. This normally happens organically, but once I pick up on those characteristics I start to explore them. Since I know this trait firsthand, it becomes easier to write someone with the same faults or personality quirks.

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I have a character I’m writing now who is a “golden boy.” He feels a great deal of pressure to make something of himself and he’s terrified of what will happen if he amounts to nothing. Yet, no one else in his personal life has placed this stress on him. His friends and family don’t care if he becomes someone important or not. Fame doesn’t mean much to any of them because they’re content with just finding happiness even if that means living a simple life. The sad thing is, he sees this and he understands this, but that stress just gnaws at him. He’s created this pressure himself and now he’s stuck with it.

This is an aspect of me. This is something I’ve gone through my whole life and am still dealing with. I just hope people find that rawness to the classic golden boy character. I know that when I fall in love with characters, I fall for ones who have this underlining realness to them.

When you write, don’t assume you’re tied to one place because you want to draw from your own life. Think about yourself. Think about the people you see everyday. Look at those characteristics and write them. Let your characters breathe.

Write what you know.