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In honour of Firefly's 15th anniversary, I was planning on doing a special Firefly edition of the Friday5 last week, featuring five of my favourite moments from the show's all-too-brief run. But then I ran into two problems: 1) a bunch of freelance contracts came in and I had no time, and 2) it's basically impossible to choose only five favourite moments from Firefly. That show owns a piece of my heart, and choosing favourite moments is like choosing between children. My love belongs to all of it. That said, I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. So here are five of my favourite moments from Firefly, in no particular order, and not necessarily my top five (I was somewhat limited by what I could find online), because as much as I'd like to say I've done the impossible (and that makes us mighty), I have too much love for this show to make a favourite moments list that isn't hundreds of points long. I also left Serenity out of it because then the list would be even longer and I had a draw the line somewhere! 

So, without further ado, you can't take the sky from me...

1. Mal's alright, SHINDIG

So many good Mal moments. Far, far too many to have to choose from. This one makes me smile every time.

2. The Hero of Canton, JAYNESTOWN

Jayne is the perfect anti-hero. So bad, and yet, so damn good. This clip captures his essence pretty well.

3. Zoe chooses Wash, WAR STORIES

I love Zoe. I love Zoe and Wash. I love Zoe and Mal. I love the dynamic between the three of them. I had a really hard time finding a clip of this, one of my favourite Zoe scenes in the series, so here it is in the full episode of War Stories, marked to start at the scene in question.

4. Big damn heroes, SAFE

Not my favourite episode overall, but it featured some iconic scenes, including this one.

5. The crew and their ship, OUT OF GAS

My favourite episode of Firfely--also not an easy thing to say, but I think I'm confident enough to say it's true. There are so many awesome moments in this episode (the flashbacks!), but a lot of them are hard to find online, so I'll leave you with the warm and fuzzy reunion, and the first time Mal sees Serenity.

BONUS: Simon and Kaylee, SERENITY

Okay, I couldn't not include a clip from Serenity, so I'll keep it simple and leave you with this lovely moment of fanservice that finally happened on the big screen.


Tracey: When you can't run, you crawl, and when you can't crawl - when you can't do that...
Zoe: You find someone to carry you.

Thank you for everything, Firefly.

waiting is the hardest part

I don't know anybody who likes waiting. I mean, anticipation is one thing--anticipation can be lovely, especially in a steamy, deliciously slow-burning romance. But in general, waiting kinda sucks. Especially when you don't know how long you're gonna be waiting for.

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I'm currently in a big old state of waiting and I'm not quite sure what to do with myself, which is why I'm blogging. The server I need for work is down, and I don't know when it will be up again, so I'm trying to figure out that balance between finding something productive to do while I wait, and not getting myself so involved in something that I can't tear myself away when the server is back online.

I had my work for the week all planned out, taking deadlines, timelines, peak usage times for our rural internet, and my own typical energy levels into account. Suddenly having to wait on one thing kinda throws everything else into chaos, and it puts me in a position where I have to slow down long enough that I start thinking about something else I'm waiting on--my latest novel. The entire time I'm actively working away on new projects and freelance work, I'm also perpetually in a state of waiting because I've got a book on submission right now, and any author who's been on submission will tell you that's some of the hardest waiting in the world. Hopes and dreams are resting on that wait. Big ones. And it doesn't get any easier. Not with your 2nd book, and not with your 5th, 6th, or 7th. But there's also nothing you can do about it BUT wait. And distract yourself. And keep writing. And that's what I do. I work. I write. I distract. Until something else forces me to wait and the cumulative sensation of waiting starts to feel heavy. Maybe too heavy. But again, there's nothing I can do but wait.

And wait.

And wait...

we need to talk about joss

I didn't want to write this. Not because I don't have anything to say, nor because I think it would be wise to stay silent. Quite the opposite in fact. I think, given my history of public adoration of Joss Whedon, staying silent now would feel somewhat disingenuous, even if the argument can be made that this is none of our business. Our business or not, he is a public figure with a large following, and so we're allowed to have thoughts. And we should have thoughts. We've looked up to this man. We've followed him. We've trusted him. But I still feel weird about writing this. I don't feel equipped with the context I'd need to form a strong and fair opinion. But I do have some thoughts, and like I said, as a Joss fan, I think it would be weird not to say something, especially when so many other Joss fans are trying to figure out their own thoughts and feelings. So here goes.

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, Joss Whedon's ex-wife, Kai Cole, recently dropped a bombshell of an open letter over on The Wrap. I'm not going to spend any time analyzing the details of what Kai said. It's her letter. It was her decision to share it with the world. I don't think it's inaccurate to say Kai is going through some stuff right now, and I sincerely hope publishing this open letter has helped her on her journey to good mental health. If this has truly helped her to feel free, then I say, good for her. I'm glad she was able to lift this burden from her shoulders. I wish her nothing but the best. And in case you're wondering--I believe her. If she says Joss cheated on her, I believe he did.  

But here's the thing: I don't think that necessarily makes Joss a bad feminist. Nor does this revelation cause me to see Joss's work under a different light. Let me explain. 

We're raised on fairytales. Perfect love, perfect family, perfect career. But as we get older, it hits us like a ton of bricks: real life isn't a fairytale. The American dream is a sham. I'm not saying happiness isn't possible--I don't doubt for a moment that many people find happiness or at least enough happiness that they lead "happy lives", but a true fairytale life is an impossible pursuit. Life is too messy for that. Too complicated. The baggage we all carry only gets heavier. The decisions we face only carry more weight. It's not straightforward and it's never perfect. Marriage is hard. Family is hard. Career is hard. And as I understand it, fame and success are brutal on relationships. There are people who survive it, but let's be real; celebrities, even ones we look up to, aren't built stronger than the rest of us. They aren't wiser by default, or more honorable. If anything, they have less time and fewer resources to help them sort their shit out. So why are we still surprised when their flaws are revealed? People cheat. It happens. A LOT. And for a lot of different reasons. And you know what? It's not the end of the world. Teenager-me probably would have told you different. Her privilege kept her from understanding shades of gray. But adult-me kinda gets it. I don't have any personal experience with cheating, but the older I get, the more I observe of the world, the more I can see how it happens. Yes, some people cheat because they're douchebags, but sometimes, people are just going through something personal and cheating unfortunately ends up being part of it. It makes them shitty partners, and yeah, sometimes people who cheat actually are bad people, but it's not always so straightforward. And in this case, I don't have enough context to judge Joss with any certainty. So without more information, I'm not going to.

To say Joss and his work have influenced the person I am today would be an understatement. He's perhaps one of the biggest creative influences in my life. He's one of the reasons I do what I do. One of the reasons I write the way I write. Does him cheating on his wife erase that? Does him projecting one message while (some would argue) living another make me question myself or the values I personally hold dear for even a moment? No, it doesn't. Because regardless of what was happening in his personal life, the art and messages he's put out into the world still are what they are. The influence they've had over me is real. And I don't think Buffy, or Angel, or Firefly, or Dollhouse, or Dr. Horrible have made me a bad person. I think their various influences have made me a stronger, smarter, funnier, more thoughtful person. If he'd been outright abusing his wife, or sexually assaulting women, we would be having a different conversation. And at this point in time, I don't see any evidence of that. But cheating? Struggling in his relationship? Struggling with his identity and perhaps mental health? I personally don't think that erases all the good he's done. I don't think it even taints it. I think it's natural and normal to feel at least a little betrayed when you find out someone you look up to isn't who you thought they were, but I also don't think fidelity is a requirement of feminism. And even if you can argue that it is, I don't think you have to be a perfect feminist to call yourself a feminist or promote feminist views. I don't think it necessarily makes him a hypocrite. I think he tries and fails like all of us. I think he's weak. I think he's flawed. I think he's human. And yeah, I still think he's more feminist than not.

Regardless of who he is behind the scenes, his work is still powerful. It's not perfect--it's never been perfect. But what's wrong with us that we keep expecting perfection? That we blame others for not achieving it when we damn-well know we can't manage it ourselves? That doesn't make any sense to me. And neither does shunning Joss's work. I can lose some respect for the man and still hold his creations in high regard.

My feelings about this aren't finite. New info might change them. New perspectives might too. Please feel free to share yours. 

 

celebrating it falls apart

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Hello, blog friends! I hope you are all enjoying your summer. Mine (so far) seems to have flown by in a blink. Thankfully, I have enough mom-ninja in me to sleep with one eye open so I figure that balances things out. Maybe. Kinda. Whatever. The point is, we're already halfway through August and how did that happen?!

I recently received my final score for RWA's Golden Heart contest, in which I entered my YA romance, IT FALLS APART. Though the book didn't final, I was pleased and proud of my 8.9 score. When you're an aspiring author, you have to take every small victory for what it's worth, and in a sea of rejection, it's worth A LOT. So let's celebrate, shall we? I had hoped to get this up right after I received my final score, but then we went away on vacation and, well, you know... 

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from prom night in IT FALLS APART as much as I enjoyed writing it:

I watched as my friends joined the already crowded dance floor, then was surprised to look up and see Luke standing beside me.

“Hey pretty girl, wanna dance?” He punctuated the question with a mischievous grin. “I know we’re not really supposed to, but I can’t look at you all night and not ask.”

“Believe me, the feeling is mutual.” I stood and slipped my arm through his. “In fact, I was just about to ask you.”

He led me to the center of the room, a small clearing in a forest of swaying couples. I expected him to put his hands on my hips, like most guys do when they’re dancing with someone for the first time, but he let them slide a bit further, toward my back, bringing me that much closer as I wrapped my hands around his neck.

“This is cozy,” I said as we too began to sway.

He leaned in and whispered in my ear, “And yet not cozy enough.”

A shiver ran up my spine, and I had to keep myself from pulling him even closer. Instead, I made small talk. “Are you having a good time?”

“For the most part.” He shrugged, briefly taking in the room around us. “The chicken was a little rubbery.”

I laughed. “It always is.”

“Are you having a good time?” he asked, his eyes back on me, causing my skin to warm.

I smiled. “I am now.”

He stared at me for a moment, the hint of a grin crossing his face, but then it wavered, his expression becoming more intense as his eyes roamed over my features carefully, eventually landing on my mouth. His fingers shifted on my back, settling a little lower, curling eagerly at the tips, struggling for restraint. Responsively, I let my thumbs brush against the nape of his neck, where soft hair met smooth skin. It was too subtle for anyone nearby to notice—they were probably too wrapped up in each other anyway—but it didn’t help with keeping things friendly. It felt like there was some unseen force pulling us together.

I breathed deeply, then glanced around the dance floor, looking for Meera. I spotted her at the edge, her head against Yuvin’s shoulder as they oscillated slowly.

“I don’t think I want to dance anymore,” Luke said, drawing my attention back to him.

Confused, I studied his face for a moment. Was he upset? Angry? No, his expression was fraught and hazy. I recognized it from every time he’d ever grabbed me and kissed the hell out of me.

“Okay,” I breathed. And without another word, he clutched the tips of my fingers in his and hastily led me from the dance floor.


pretty little reaction: the finAl reveAl

Photo credit: Freeform

Photo credit: Freeform

7.20 'TIL DEATH DO US PART

All is revealed as the ultimate endgame comes to light.

Photo credit: Freeform

Photo credit: Freeform

It occurred to me as I set out to write this that I can use my PLR template for this post instead of making a copy since THIS IS THE LAST EPISODE OF PLL EVER and there will be no more Pretty Little Recaps. Or at least, for now there won't be. Who knows with revivals these days. Anyway, it's been a week since the curtains closed on our dear liars, and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around everything we learned in this final installment. Needless to say, I have thoughts--a lot of thoughts. Let's share and discuss our ladies of Rosewood one last time, shall we? 

1. The dream at the beginning of this episode was weird. It felt fan-servicey, but not in an all-that-entertaining way.

2. It took me forever to realize Mona in presumably Radley is flashback and not her locked up somewhere currently. I mean, come on, I've come to love Mona, but she girl should be locked up.  

3. Why do the Emison twins look nothing like Emily? I know Ali is the one who birthed them, but it wasn't her genes. The dad had better have fair looks, assuming we meet him in this episode. 

4. Pam! Melissa! A backpacking Toby who thankfully lost the beard, but still has wtf hair! The gang's not exactly all here, but they're definitely packing them in.

5. I don't know much about Ezra and Aria's book, but I do know it probably shouldn't be taught to high schoolers. Just sayin.

6. Ali, remember, no threatening the students.

7. Jenna, remember, no threatening the students. 

8.  Rosewood High probably has a pretty low school ranking.

9. Haleb seem sad. This is not a good way to start the finale. I can see them housing Mona for a few nights, but is this supposed to be an indefinite arrangement? Cause, yeah, love ya Hans, but Team Hot Caleb on that one. 

10. This pre-wedding dinner party feels awkward. Like, I know the lairs are all grown up now, and would probably hang out like this, as twenty-somethings (though, usually older twenty-somethings) do), but they've always behaved so immaturely that it feels wrong. Oh well. 

11. Oh, Spencer and Toby playing Scrabble. 

12. Most dinner parties I've been to don't get cut off mid-meal for a sex-montage, which makes me wonder if I'm not getting invited to the right parties. Also, as much as I love Haleb and the idea of a baby Haleb, I don't buy that these two would go from snarky to sexy, even if it's followed by snarky again. How quickly after the sex did Hot Caleb throw his clothes on while his wife lies upsidedown trying to plant babies in her body?

13. Okay, I had a feeling Melissa wasn't just creepin around--Mona in a HIGHLY SOPHISTICATED MELISSA MASK! But like, why Melissa? Why not just, a mask? Is there some reason Mona wants to throw Melissa under the bus?

14. I still don't think Mona is AD or is working for AD. Mona plays her own games now.

15. This Aria can't have kids storyline feels SUPER thrown in here for extra drama. Like, Aria, you're young. Chill. You'll figure shit out.

16. Fake Spencer! Fake Spencer! Oh baby, we've definitely got a Fake Spencer thing going on. I'm more convinced than ever!

17. Aria's Dad is so clueless about life. His opinions basically don't matter. How does he not fall down more?

18. The PLL moms are getting drunk and all is well with the world!

19. Where is Mike? Isn't this like, Aria's rehearsal dinner or something? Why is her loser brother nowhere to be seen? 

20. Maya's niece? Okaaaay... doesn't make me care about these kids.

21. Forced Ezria drama. Cause of course. Neither of you belong on a high horse.

22. Emison are engaged! Which is exciting for them--well, less so because they're already bound by kids, but still happy news. But they're still mostly boring.

23. I'm so suspicious of Spencer now--is she real? Is she a robot?

24. Hot damn! Mona knows how to land a punch!

25. Twin Spencer AKA Twincer is confirmed! It's not exactly my fav resolution to this whole thing, but I'm willing to let this play out. 

26. What. The. Hell. Is. That. Accent.

27. I'm trying to listen to the infodump backstory, but that accent is SO. DISTRACTING.

28. Man, Wren just loves girls who look like Spencer, huh?

29. Twincer's motivations are kinda messed up. This girl wants family so she terrorizes her twin sister and her friends. Okay, sure.

30. Poor Ezra. Always a victim, never a bride.

31. Aria's wedding dress is...really something.

32. WREN IS THE FATHER?? WHY ARE THOSE BABIES SO BLONDE?

33. Something about Spencer and Ezra being held captive together is highly entertaining to me. I bet if this wasn't the final episode, they'd have them eventually hook up, cause they never think they'll see the light of day again or something and then DRAMA cause yet again, Ezra is off screwing someone else when he's supposed to be with Aria. Also, Hanna would give Aria a knowing look and be like, "Yeah, Spencer does that."

34. SO MUCH INFODUMPING. I mean, I realize there's a lot to cover, but this is why some of this needed to be revealed over the course of the last several episodes.

35. The horse knows! I so called that as soon as I saw her walking up to it. I was like, that horse knows one bitch from another, Alex. Don't mess. 

36. Why are the liars not just assuming someone kidnapped Ezra? It's like the most likely answer to every problem these girls encounter. Why would other conclusions even be drawn?

37. Jenna knows too! I didn't see that one coming until she was talking to her, but yeah, makes sense. Team Jenna + Horse! They figured it out before Toby, who  was actually INSIDE HER. This is so Riley sleeping with Faith all over again.

38. I love how quickly the liars just accept this twin thing. Like, yeah, that must be it! Of course! They don't even think it through well-enough to be convinced. They just are. I guess the show was running short on time.

39. Not nearly enough Haleb in this episode. I love them making up and getting all sexy, but I feel kinda robbed.

40. If I've asked this before, but I've asked it a hundred times--where does A (who we now know is a poor orphan who grew up without the support of a loving family) get all her money? How did she build this elaborate underground bunker complete with a fake house and yard?

41. The classic which twin is which scenario. Toby is finally useful in some way. Kinda. It's almost romantic, but not enough that I wouldn't have preferred for Spencer to go through and have each liar share a memory with her. 

42. I feel satisfied for the most part, but also a little disappointed that I wasn't right about Paige being AD. That said, I'm glad Paige is nowhere to be seen. Complicated feelings, you guys. 

43. Is Aria wearing a completely different wedding dress? Whatever. I can't even be bothered at this point.

44. HALEB BABY ALERT! Feels like a bit of a throwaway, though--I want to see the lost scene where Hanna pees on a stick and shares the happy news with Hot Caleb! 

45. This final Mona scene is perfect--her boyfriend is the cop from Alex's layer! Oh snap. 

46. I love that she has Alex and Mary. It's perfectly twisted--just the right ending for Mona.

47. I can't even with these younger kids. Know when to end your finale. This scene is unnecessary.

48. I guess...that's it? PLL is over and I declare the following:

  • Mona is the winner. Like, in life.
  • Haleb are going to be fun parents, even if they are young to be so focussed on having a baby. That baby is gonna be hella cute.
  • Spencer is going to have the biggest therapy bills.
  • Ali and Emily were in this episode? Jk. Well, sort of. Maybe there will be a spinoff about their twins one day. Baby Haleb can be their sidekick.
  • And Aria. Stay you, girl. Stay you.

A few extras I wanted to share since this is the end of PLL as we know it. If you haven't checked it out already as your PLL withdrawal sets in, Hypable has rounded up some interesting fan theories that didn't pan out, but are entertaining nevertheless (Hot Caleb as AD? Not sure how I'd feel about that...might be enough to put me on the A-team!).

And in case you missed it last fall, the day after they wrapped shooting on the finale, our dear little liars (Mona included!) got tattoos on their shhh! fingers. How appropriate and adorable.

~PLR~

pretty little reaction: time's almost up

Photo credit: Freeform

Photo credit: Freeform

I can't believe there's only one episode of PLL left. It's almost time to say goodbye to our little liars forever (?), but first we have a few reactions to get through! I had hoped to get the post for episode 18 up on Monday or Tuesday before this week's episode aired, but now it's Thursday and I'm combining the two into one :)

7.18 CHOOSE OR LOSE

Our rogue PLL is finally outed by Mona.

  • How did it take the cops this long to finally issue some search warrants on the liars?
  • Tanner is back and she's not happy, gunning for the liars more than ever.  But why wasn't their kidnapping enough to change her mind about them? It's not like the kidnapped themselves--clearly something is going on here!
  • Oh Aria. We all know what you're up to.  It's time to drop the shady charade.
  • Ashley is the best PLL mom. She's makes the other PLL moms look like incompetent garbage people. Okay, Aria's mom is also...fine. But just fine. Also, where is she? Or the rest of Aria's family for that matter?
  • Mona has this ALL figured out. Because of course she does. She's Mona.
  • What is happening to Toby's face? Did the wilderness "get" him? Like, did a bear shave of its fur and glue it to Toby's face?
  • Oh no. Aria's motives are even LESS noble than I'd hoped. I know I shouldn't have given her so much credit. 
  • Spencer, please. Aria isn't responsible for your parents' divorce. Also, I love how Spence tells her she can find her own ride as if Aria didn't arrive there solo and therefore probably has her own car she'd need to drive anyway.
  • Aria may be bad, but her hair is on point in this episode.
  • Thank goodness she's finally telling Ezra what's going on--not that he's all that helpful...
  • Haleb marriage is happening! This is not a drill people! HALEB IS OFFICIAL ALWAYS AND FOREVER! You knew this moment would require all caps, right? My shipper heart is happy. The rest of the liars could all die in a fire and I'd still be like, "Good ending tho!"
  • Spencer doesn't know how to let a man grieve, apparently. Spencer, it's called letting his dead wife's body get cold before you jump him. 
  • PLL sex montage!  We never would have seen this back in season one. Which is probably a good thing. Oh and of course, wedding scenes thrown in to show how superior Haleb are to the rest of them.  
  • Team Hot Caleb and Ezra! We need Toby in the loop so the PLL men can activate their powers.
  • STILL not buying Mona as A.D. I'm just not. 
  • Aria and the body in the trunk. I kinda hope she Weekend at Bernie'ses this whole situation.  "Him? Oh, he's just taking it easy."

7.19 FAREWELL, MY LOVELY

An A.D. suspect reveals info about Charlotte's death.

  • You can just shake trunks open now?!? What make and model of car is that? Is this something all cars can do? Between someone getting the body in there in the first place, and now the cop just jiggling the trunk open, Aria should probably invest in some kind of additional security latch or something. 
  • Ezra is the most likable he's ever been, telling the liars off for abandoning Aria when they've all done their fair share of dumb stuff.  
  • Oh no. Aria's finally losing it. I think I can get on board with Crazy Aria though. She's better than Bad Choices Aria
  • Hmmm. Now Mona's losing it too. 
  • Emily and Ali... I dunno. They do more couch-sitting. Is this really how this series is going to end for these two? Forever sitting on a couch? 
  • It's a little uncool that Hot Caleb won't let Hanna come on the underground mission, but will let Spencer.  Shouldn't he want everyone to stay safe? But I'll forgive him because he's Hot Caleb.
  • The flash forward was just a dream thing is hella lame.  Why do I have a feeling they just forgot to incorporate it when Archer was still alive and now they had to sandwich it in somewhere before the show ends?
  • To whom. Actually kind of a nice Spaleb moment. I like Spencer so much better when Hot Caleb is with Hanna.
  • Mona is REALLY losing it.  
  • I really hope she killed Charlotte. 
  • The liars' reasons for not turning Mona in are pretty weak. Just do what you always forget to do and FIND HER A LAWYER.
  • This is why you don't just bury bodies, kids.  You destroy them. But also, don't kill people.
  • Wow, Mary gets respect for taking the fall. I won't go so far as to say she's a good mom, but she's got the right instincts.  
  • Is Tanner really sending the girls home with a slap on the wrist? REALLY?
  • Poor Mona. I've really come to like her over the years. It's hard to see her crack like this, but I prefer her being involved this way over her begin neglected in the end.
  • So the game is done...but who's A.D.? Is next week's finale going to be a time jump? WE NEED TO KNOW WHO A.D. IS!
  • ...I mean, it has to be Paige, right? As we head into the finale, that's my final guess. I know it's not all that original, but she's been MIA just long enough to drop off people's radar. Plus, she fits. But I realize it's also very possible the brains behind PLL want me to think exactly this way and A.D. is actually going to be Spencer's dad, because let's face it, he's got a hand in everything these days.
  • Whew! A lot of new into to incorporate into our understanding of the PLL world. Now who can direct me toward a map of all the tangled connections in Rosewood so I can start making sense of the past seven seasons? 

Until next week... series finale time!

~PLR~

pretty little reaction: we're really in the homestretch now

So here's the deal: our internet is awful. It's super slow and unpredictable and we've been told it's going to get better, but right now, that's so not the case. Long story short, when you don't have cable or satellite, this can sometimes make watching TV in a timely manner a bit of a struggle. There are some shows I watch on Netflix and some I watch through iTunes, like PLL, which I fell behind on again because none of my downloads were actually downloading. Anyway, I won't bore you with the details. I'm once again all caught up, and I have it set up so that new episodes will always download during non-peak hours, which will hopefully result in them arriving quickly and I can stay on top of things. With only three episodes of PLL to go, I'd ideally like to recap each and every one. 

But that's moving forward. For now, we're stuck with another backlog to get through, and get through it, we shall--character breakdown style! Let's see what our little liars have been up to...

7.14 POWER PLAY
7.15 IN THE EYE ABIDES THE HEART
7.16 THE GLOVE THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE
7.17 DRIVING MISS CRAZY

Photo credit: Photo: Eric McCandless/Freeform

Photo credit: Photo: Eric McCandless/Freeform

ARIA

I almost can't even with this girl. Because I know she hasn't gone dark. I would actually LOVE it if she had. That would be the most thrilling thing Aria has done in ages, but alas, I'm pretty sure she's only being Dark!Aria long enough to get what she needs to keep Ezra out of prison (selfish) and to protect her friends, maybe (which doesn't make much sense since she's willing to terrorize her friends to protect them). I'd like to think the real motivation here is that Aria realizes if she doesn't play AD's game, AD will go after one of the other liars instead, and she prefers to be the one in control of the situation, or, and this seems unlikely considering Aria's skills, she has some super secret master plan to bring down AD and all that bad stuff she's been doing is just Aria's version of collateral damage. Honestly, I'm just glad we're not hearing the name Nicole as much these days, though I wish Aria'd pull Ezra into the mix. If only so he could stop stressing about dumb things like dance lessons. I'm fairly satisfied that at least Hot Caleb is involved with Liars' Lament now, but really, the liars are in peak form when they aren't lying to their SOs and are only lying to everyone else.

SPENCER

I considered doing Emily next, but no, I'm not ready to tackle that girl and her drama. So let's talk Spencer Hastings-Drake. Or Drake-Hastings. Whichever way you slice it, Spencer's dad is not a good person. But I don't want to focus on him. I've been loving Spencer's interactions with Hot Cop Marco, though anytime they stray from date to interrogation, I can't help but think, Spencer you're smarter than this. Don't reveal info to a cop without a lawyer present. I know there's a really good chance Spencer will somehow end up with Toby again before this season is over, but in my ideal world, she'll live to hook up with Hot Cop Marco another day, and then maybe if the finale features a time jump, it'll be all "Oh look, she's with Toby and she and Hot Cop Marco are co-parenting an adorable child together." It could happen. A few more notes about our dear Spencer: 1) As much as I didn't enjoy Spaleb, I'm glad they didn't just sweep it under the rug. I'm glad they're acknowledging it happened and that Spencer got the short end of Hot Caleb's stick. 2) This Mary Drake stuff. I dunno. I think it's supposed to be compelling, but I'm not really here for it. Is it wrong to wish she was so super crazy that she was causing mayhem all the time? Cause that I'd enjoy. If she's just a tragic figure, that's fine, but then I kinda hope she and Spencer manage to have some sort of relationship eventually. 3) I feel like Spencer is legit on the hook for quite a bit if stuff here, evidence or not. Is it possible the show might end with one of our liars behind bars, taking the fall for everyone?

EMILY & ALI

I thought about separating these two out, but their stories are so linked they kinda have to be together. Besides, I feel like I barely have anything to say about Emily. It's not like she isn't drowning in drama, but she lost some of my sympathy when she basically told Ali she wants her to have the baby. I know it's Emily's egg all sunny-side-up in there, but she gave up her rights to that egg when she donated it. This decision needed to be Ali's. I'm cool with Emily saying, "Hey, I think we could do this. I think we could be parents.", though newsflash, Emily, you shouldn't be in a position to take care of another human being, but I digress. For me, she took things a bit too far with her tone, impatience, and what felt like insistence. I know time is of the essence when deciding whether or not to have a baby, but something about it rubbed me the wrong way--something other than the general violations that took place for this baby to exist. All that aside, I really enjoyed Emily and Ali finally making it official-ish. And I enjoyed Emily and Mona at the doctor's office, posing as a fake couple, even more. Those two actually work really well together. Sadly, with so few episodes left, I have a feeling that's the end of the Emily and Mona show. As for Paige? I still hate Paige.  

Photo credit: Eric McCandless/Freeform

Photo credit: Eric McCandless/Freeform

HANNA

Though I'm not much like Hanna, I always find I relate to her the most. I think it's the fact that she has herself convinced she's somewhat incapable, but when it comes down to it, she always does what needs to be done. And that's often my approach to problems too--I'm not sure if I can do this, but I'm not going to let that stop me from doing it. In that respect, Hanna is killing it. She's pissed at the Liars' Lament boardgame, super pissed at AD for hurting Hot Caleb, and she's not going to stand back and be a victim anymore. But she also doesn't know where to start. So she does what she can, and is loyal to her friends, another thing about her I can relate to and respect. She knows she owes Spencer and she does what she must to make it up to her. Plus, her scenes with Mona are always fun. Now, let's get to why we're really all here: HALEB IS ENGAGED! At least, I think. I mean, yeah, they are, but they did it in such an unconventional way that it's only 99% clear. But I kinda love that. And the whole scene in the tent, harkening back to their first night together, was perfect, paper cigar rings and all. It's easy to see Hanna as high-maintenance because of her love of fashion, etc, but deep down, exchanging paper rings in a tent in the woods IS Hanna. Hot Caleb has always brought out the best in her, and that's on full display in this scene. Her last engagement ring from what's-his-face was big and flashy (and so was he, really), but again, that's not really Hanna. Hot Caleb gets that. He gets her. Which is perfect. I'm super happy to see my OTP get engaged. They are #endgame for me, no matter what else happens on this show. HALEB always and foreva!

Also: “I would marry you right this second if we could find a bear that was licensed.”

Does it get more romantic than that? Probably, cause bears are scary, y'all. But still. Cute.

Lingering concerns:

  • Airport Spencer wasn't Spencer, you guys. I'm fully on team Spencer has a twin and that was totally her that Ezra ran into at the airport. Twencer is real and the Spencer Hanna encountered when she was kidnapped last season totally wasn't a dream--it was Twencer! Has it been Twencer at other times? Maybe, but I don't have time to rewatch everything...
  • Does anybody actually think Mona is AD? Cause no, she's not. I'll eat all of my hats if she is. Her secret liar lair is 100% about protecting the girls, cause Mona is a BAMF and they all need to recognize.
  • I used to find Lucas interesting. Now I'm just like, dude, move on with your life. This is sad times. You know Hanna is banging Hot Caleb in your condo, right? Find a Hanna replacement and move on.
  • Right now, my money is on Paige for AD. Reasons: I've never liked her, she's never liked Ali, and that disguised Aria face/vocie that has been directing Dark!Aria around town looks/sounds enough like Paige that I'm semi-convinced. On the other hand, that almost seems too easy. And I don't trust easy when it comes to PLL. So we'll see...
Photo credit: Eric McCandless/Freeform

Photo credit: Eric McCandless/Freeform

home for a rest excerpt II

To celebrate being in the revision stage (yes, revisions should be celebrated!), here's an excerpt from HOME FOR A REST, my adult contemporary romance.

"But Kate, you already shared an excerpt wth us here!!" 

First off, whoa, calm down, guys. The second exclamation mark really wasn't needed. And second, yes, I did already share an excerpt, but this book is new and exciting territory for me, so you get more! If you plan to read both excerpts in a row, read the one I've linked to above first, because the below selection is from later in that same chapter. Enjoy!

Jamie kicked off her boots and hung her coat on a hook by the door, the same one she’d been hanging it on since she first befriended Ryan back in high school. But a lot had changed since then. A lot had changed since earlier that evening.

Ryan flicked on a few lights as they moved through the house toward the kitchen.

“It’s been a while since I was last here,” Jamie commented. If she’d been nervous before, it was nothing compared to what she was feeling now.

Ryan glanced back at her as he flicked on the coffee maker. “Yeah, I suppose it has. BBQ?”

“Christmas party.”

Recognition washed over his face. “Ah yes, I remember. Josh brought that guy who openly complained about everything.”

Jamie nodded. “That was the one.” That guy had been a dick.

She suddenly found herself doubting all of it. Ryan's motivation for bringing her here, the possibility of what might happen, the fact that he’d said anything about kissing her in the first place. And even if she wasn’t misreading the situation, she wasn’t sure this was even something she wanted. Sure, there was a big part of her—a huge part of her—that really, really wanted it, had wanted it for years, but how did that fit in with the person she’d become over the past few months? Was this her moving on? Was she even ready for that? Because nothing about this felt like the casual fun her sister had insisted she needed. Besides, Ryan had said he was done with one night stands. And that was the last thing Jamie ever wanted to be to him anyway.

“You’ve got your pick of desserts.” Ryan turned around from the fridge, his strong arms loaded down with trays of squares, cookies, and entire pies.

“Holy crap,” Jamie said as he lay them out on the kitchen table. “You weren’t kidding about the food.”

He grabbed two plates and two forks. “I never kid about food.”

Her eyes roamed over the options, happy to focus on something other than their current situation for a moment. “Can I have a little bit of each?”

She hadn’t really meant it as a serious question, but Ryan smiled and nodded, his eyes locking with hers. “You’re welcome to have anything you want, James.”

And with that, it was game back on. God, the way he looked at her. So transfixed. He’d always managed to make her feel like she was the only girl in the room, even when she wasn’t. He excelled at focussing on people, addressing their needs. It was part of his undeniable charm—and probably why he was so good at his job. He’d probably made dozens and dozens of girls feel that way. But even knowing that, he still somehow made Jamie feel exceptional. Maybe it wasn’t real, but it still felt so damn good. And right now, that was what she wanted to focus on. Not what she should be feeling, but what she wanted to be feeling. And as Ryan stared at her from across the table with a wicked grin spread across his lips, she knew exactly what she wanted to be feeling. 

 

 

meet jamie and ryan

Finally (I normally do this earlier in the process), a WIP pitch for my current WIP, which is happily in revisions! Excerpt coming soon too--stay tuned!

HOME FOR A REST | adult contemporary romance

It’s been three months since Jamie Elmslie came home to the idyllic lakeside town of Port Ophelia, having lost her fiancé, Owen, in a tragic car accident. With no job and no direction, Jamie feels like she’s been sleepwalking for months, but the wake-up call she’s been waiting for finally arrives when long-time crush, Ryan Maher, returns home for his father’s funeral and the two reconnect over their grief. Jamie hasn’t seen Ryan for years, but the long-buried feelings he rouses are as welcome as they are swift. Simply being around him makes Jamie feel like herself again; he makes everything that’s broken inside her feel less damaged.

Ryan initially has no plans to stay in town despite his mother’s wish for him to take over the family business, but one look at Jamie, the only girl who ever got away—the only one who ever mattered—has him strongly reconsidering. Then Jamie discovers Owen had been cheating on her prior to his death, sending her slowly healing world into a tailspin. She can’t deny the feelings she has for Ryan are real, but how can they possibly have a future when she’s unable to escape the ghosts of her past?

pretty little reaction: catching up and counting down

I am still catching up on many things, but with the fourth episode of only ten (!) in PLL's final run set to air tonight, we have some serious catching up to do! So let's dive in with some reactions to the first three episodes!

7.11 PLAYTIME

  • This board game is everything I want in a final season arc--mysterious, a bit frightening, and full of potential. Please don't mess this up, PLL.

  • Oh, Yvonne, just die already. Yes, you're a perfectly lovely person, but this is Rosewood, and you've served your purpose.
  • I can't even with all these parental affairs. Does somebody have it all written out in a chart? I need a chart. 

  • I'm also getting close to not being able to even with Emily, Alison, and Paige. I know we need drama, but it doesn't need to be high school drama, even if they work at a high school. Ditto for Aria's shenanigans. Get it together, Aria. You're engaged. You need to communicate with your man.

  • Okay, let's talk Haleb. This is exactly what I wanted--happy Haleb for a good stretch of episodes before the series ends. If this show had waited until the very last episode to have these two be happy, I would have been very disappointed, but this, this is good. 

  • A lot to process in this one. I might need to rewatch...

7.12 THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR STALKING

  • Is it just me, or was this episode kinda boring? I think I was supposed to draw parallels between Addison's character and old-school Ali, but really, it just made me with old-school Ali had always remained as old-school Ali. I mean, sure, they all have to grow up sometime, but I miss her sass. She's getting better, but the spark just isn't there. I guess sacrifices must be made if we want Emily and Ali to have a HEA. Can't have that with Ali scheming too much. 

  • Okay, both Yvonne and Nicole clearly just need to die at this point. You're holding up the story, ladies.

  • I'm kinda over Hanna being captured. I mean, yeah, I love anything that gives us good Haleb scenes, but it's time to mix it up a bit.

  • Seriously, doesn't it feel like there should be more to this episode given how few we have left?

  • Even Mona is boring me right now. Let's move on....

7.13 HOLD YOUR PIECE

  • I'm sure we're supposed to be rooting for Spencer and Toby at this point, and yeah, I kinda am, but Spencer and Hot Cop are definitely cute together. 

  • And speaking of hot duos, hello Aria and Emily! I forgot how fun these two can be together. Aria makes Emily so much more interesting!

  • Haleb. Haleb. Haleb. So much Haleb and I am loooooving it.

  • Not a fan of Hot Caleb being gassed, obvs, but I also knew he'd survive. I mean, it's Hot Caleb, you guys. He's endgame. 

  • Also hooray for Caleb and Spencer actually being friends here! Way to be mature, you two! I hope this friendship stems from a deep understanding that you never really loved each other in the first place. 

  • RIP Yvonne. What took you so long, girl? I'm surprised, but not really, that they went through with having Toby marry her first. Gotta draw out that drama, I guess.

  • Clearly, something freaky is going on with Nicole. I thought I wanted her dead, but this could be interesting. This episode was a lot more thrilling than the last one. Let's hope it only gets crazier from here. Game on, AD. 

~PLR~

friday5 for April 21, 2017

1. So close.

12k words. That's all I have left (well, approximately) on the first draft of my current WIP. That's either 2-3 good writing days, or 5-6 bad ones. Either way, I'm very close to finished, which is exciting because I'm feeling ready to do edits. I find it very hard to write and not edit as I go, but I've been pushing myself to do that more and more so I can get the first draft out. Everything I write needs more polishing later, whether I edit as I go or not, so I might as well just save the changes until the whole thing has taken shape. I have a very tight outline I'm following for these last few chapters, which will hopefully make the process a more streamlined. By this time next week, maybe I'll be finished? If I am, we can celebrate with an excerpt and maybe even a quick plot synopsis. Let's reconvene then, okay? :)

2. There are only nine episodes of PLL to go.

Confession: I haven't watched this week's PLL. I know. I know. But if you follow me on social media, you probably know I've had a rough week re-sleep-training a toddler and I've been devoting all my leftover energy (there isn't much) to that WIP I was just talking about. So no PLL as of yet, but I'm hoping to watch it this weekend and I'm planning to do a Pretty Little Reaction afterward. In the meantime, let's do some predictions for the final episodes of PLL, shall we? SPOILERS for anyone who isn't up to date on PLL (feel free to skip down to the next item):

  1. Haleb Always and Forever (did you really think this wouldn't make my list?) and while we're at it, I'm pretty sure all of the OG couples will be endgame (I'm looking at you, Spoby, Ezria, and Emison), but if any of them aren't endgame, I'm thinking it'll be Ezria, mostly because they already had their proposal moment in the sun. 
  2. I want Mona to be AD, but I don't think she will be. We've been down the Mona road before, so it's unlikely she'll be the ultimate villain. If it ends up being one of the girls (which would be very cool and I'd give all the props), I want it to be Aria. Because she's little and her wardrobe has always screamed "big bad". Otherwise, I'd love for it to be Mike or Jason, and definitely not someone we've never seen before. 
  3. There will be deaths. But nobody too important. It's possible one of the girls or their SOs could kick it in the finale, but it's unlikely. Family and friends on the other hand... I could see Lucas dying. I could see Jason dying. I could see Paige dying--in fact, I'm picturing Paige dying right now (j/k...sorta).
  4. I go back and forth on this one, but I predict Ali won't have her baby. Something is going to happen and she's gonna lose it (and yes, I think she's somehow pregnant with Emily's eggs even though that doesn't make much sense). Anyway, it'll be a bonding moment for Ali and Em, and maybe one day, they'll adopt a child instead. Or a puppy. Or something. I kinda hope the finale has a little flash forward at the end. 
  5. Okay, final prediction for now: not everything will be wrapped up with a little bow. PLL  is known for its cliffhangers, and obviously, with a series finale, you need to tie up a lot of things, but I'd love it if they'd give us one final cut scene at the end, something to indicate that maybe isn't all there is to the story. I know a lot of fans would find that frustrating, but I'd like it :)

I think I'll return to this list after everything is said and done and we can see how close--or far off--I am.

3. The X-Files has officially been renewed!

TEN(!) more episodes of The X-Files are on their way! This news was likely, but not confirmed until this week. And here's the thing: I know the six-episode season we got last year was a mixed bag, and I know it's easy to criticize because hello, how do you screw up six episodes? But I think because there'd been such a long gap between the original series ending and the return series, everyone was a little rusty and they'd been hanging onto ideas that had been brewing for a very long time, which isn't always a good thing (this time I'm looking at you, Gilmore Girls). This new season will give them a chance to strike back with fresh material, having already worked out the kinks. I'm choosing to be optimistic, especially since some of the episodes we got last year were fantastic (thanks, Darin Morgan!). So let's celebrate with this old-school pic of Mulder and Scully!

4. The Beguiled--yay or nay?

I love Sophia Coppola. Usually. I love her style, and for the most part, I've enjoyed all the stories she's chosen to tell in her films. So I was pretty excited when they released the trailer for The Beguiled, except...I'm not sure. Maybe it's the fact that I'm (second confession of the post) just not that into Nicole Kidman, but something about this trailer didn't quite capture me the way I'd hoped it would. What do you think? 

5. Noteworthy New YA: MISSING by Kelley Armstrong

The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve's End is that soon she'll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There's nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They're better off taking a chance elsewhere. 
What Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree. 
But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they're all missing? 

-Courtesy of Indiebound

 

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for March 31, 2017

I think I know what happened.

The Friday5 has gone through a few different incarnations over the years, and most recently, in an effort to focus my thought processes surrounding it, I introduced categories. But instead of making the Friday5 more streamlined, I think I actually just made it into another daunting weekly task, which is why I haven't done one in so long (well, that and, let's be realistic, my ongoing excuse that life is busy and stuff, guys. Like, hella busy.) Anyway, long story short, I'm gonna go back to basics, as in the freestyle Friday5 of yore, and hope it's something I can really get into again. Because while the Friday5 has never generated much discussion here on the site, I know you guys read it. I mean, you're reading this right now, aren't you? ;)

So, here we go! The freestyle Friday5, which definitely won't be weekly, but hopefully will be more frequent than it has been, and may contain anything from personal thoughts, to pop culture news, to memes, to book trailers, to funny videos, and of course, because it HAS been a longstanding staple of the Friday5--noteworthy new YA :)

1. How's the WIP coming along?

First off, thank you for asking. It's going well, but not as well as I'd hoped. And I don't mean that from a "this plot isn't working" standpoint, I mean it from an "I really hoped to be finished the first draft by now" standpoint. But I've recently launched a full-scale freelance editing business over at www.paperpoppyeditorial.com (check us out for all your editing and copywriting needs!) and that's taken time away from writing--paid time, I should add. You can't argue with that. 

But back to the WIP. I'm at the climax of the story. It's exciting and passionate and it features a major conflict that even has me wondering how my characters will overcome it. But I'm not wondering much because I already know how they will. I have it all mapped out in my outline. But it still breaks my heart to see them fighting. They're good people, my protagonists. They've been lovers for a short time, but friends for much longer. I think you'd like them. I'm going to help them sort out their differences, and then I hope you get to read their story one day ;)

2. Speaking of the WIP...

Having only written YA before now, diving into an adult contemporary romance has been quite the adventure, and sometimes challenge. But thankfully, my years spent working on the other side of the desk as an editor of romance fiction, have left me intimately familiar with the genre. At first, I was a bit intimidated to write the kind of romance I love to read--sweet, emotional, complex, and definitely sexy--far sexier than the comparably tame, mostly off-the-page (though, not always fully off-the-page...) sex scenes I've written in my YAs. But it's actually been a blast. Romance is fun. Hooking people up is fun, and while I don't want to share anything too explicit here on the blog, here's a little taste of Home for a Rest, in what I'm going to dub #foreplayfriday (Is that a thing? Cause it should be...):

3. Presented without comment

Okay, a little comment...BUFFY!!!! If you follow me on Facebook, you know I've been all about EW's Buffy reunion this week (limited edition covers, you guys!). But this. THIS. Making all my dreams come true. Only complaint? Needs more Giles and Faith. But I'll still take it.

THe SCOOBY GANG'S ALL HERE...for the most part

THe SCOOBY GANG'S ALL HERE...for the most part

4. Have you been listening to S-Town?

S-Town, the new podcast from the people who brought us the highly addictive Serial is definitely worth a listen. It's not true crime like Serial, but it is a fascinating story, well told by Brian Reed, and it might just break your heart. It definitely broke mine. And even if you aren't affected by the story's events the way I was, it's still a compelling look at how bizarre life can be, even when you live in a crappy, little town (and maybe even especially because of that). I think most of us can relate to that in one way or another. 

5. Noteworthy New YA: HEARTS & OTHER BODY PARTS by Ira Bloom

Sisters Esme, Katy, and Ronnie are smart, talented, and gorgeous, and better yet . . . all three are witches. They have high school wired until the arrival of two new students. The first is Norman, who is almost eight feet tall and appears to be constructed of bolts and mismatched body parts. Despite his intimidating looks, Esme finds herself strangely -- almost romantically -- drawn to both his oversized brain and oversized heart. 
The second new arrival is Zack, an impossibly handsome late transfer from the UK who has the girls at school instantly mesmerized. Soon even sensible Esme has forgotten Norman, and all three sisters are in a flat-out hex war to win Zack. But while the magic is flying, only Norman seems to notice that students who wander off alone with Zack end up with crushed bones and memory loss. Or worse, missing entirely. 

-Courtesy of Indiebound

 

Happy Weekend!

home for a rest

Sorry for the radio silence folks. I've been working hard to finish my current WIP, but of course, life and freelance work keep getting in the way, as they tend to do (and no, I'm not complaining!). Regardless, the WIP is coming along, and while I don't have a synopsis to share with you just yet (which is unusual for me as I'll often write the blurb first), I just offered to share an excerpt when my FB page hit 100 likes, which it did, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! So as promised, I've posted a little snippet HERE from the rough draft of my current WIP, Home for a Rest, a contemporary romance set in fictional Port Ophelia, Ontario (Canada represent!) featuring Jamie and Ryan, two old friends whose lifelong flirtation is poised to erupt into something much, much more.

I'd better get back to writing now... Enjoy! 

maybe this year will be better than the last

And it's one more day up in the canyon
And it's one more night in Hollywood
It's been so long since I've seen the ocean
I guess I should

I've been humming this song on and off for over a month, especially that lyric up there in the header. Yeah, here we are in 2017, and maybe, just maybe, this year will be better than the last. I certainly hope so. But so far, it's been pretty bleak. Is it really February 1st? That song needs a follow-up called, A Super-Quick January. Maybe not as catchy. Or as sorrowful. But hey, you never know what's going to be popular these days.

This is really just an update post because I've been negligent in my blogging. Okay, not exactly negligent, more like way too busy with writing and editing and all things work-while-you-can-if-you-want-to-finish-this-book. It's coming along though. Really well, actually. And I'm excited to maybe share some of that with you soon--an excerpt from my first adult romance, and whoa, it's really adult! Okay, that makes is sound fifty shades of naughty, and it's not, though it's pretty sexy, and real, and raw, and fun, and full of all the things I personally love in a good romance. Sizzling attraction, long-burning friends to lovers, tough external conflict, and just enough darkness to make it feel not-too-sweet. I'm so happy with the characters, both main and secondary and I've already got ideas for three more books set in this town. This has definitely spun into the kind of thing where I'm noticing further stories that need to be told. Are practically screaming to be told. And I love it when that happens. 

I'm also psyched about some ideas I have for my next book, after this one is finished (and hopefully on submission somewhere it will be loved). I'm excited to keep chugging along, making 2017 count for something strong. For the first time ever, I've booked myself a little writing retreat, happening soon, a weekend away from interruptions, a chance to make some serious progress on this first draft as I push it toward the conclusion. I have a very good feeling about this, though I will be a little sad to be away from the kids. Of course, I'll also relish in the peace and quiet, the chance to fully lose myself in what I'm writing. I can't remember the last time I was able to do that. And I have a feeling that though this is the first time I'm doing a writing weekend like this, it almost definitely won't be the last. Sometimes we need that time, to breathe life into our creations in ways that require our full concentration. Also, a hotel bed all to myself and no alarm to wake me. Sounds pretty damn sweet. 

But until then, I have delightful freelance editing to attend to. And more plans with regards to that in 2017 as well. But that's for another post, another day. Happy February! As you clear snow of your car/face/whatever, just remember, we're slowly inching toward Spring! 

 

publishing journey reflections & goodbye 2016

I feel the need to preface this post with a cheerful holiday greeting. Because this is going to be reflective, and at times negative, but overall, it's the holiday season, and while things don't feel quite as merry and bright this year as they have in the past, my heart is easily infected by holiday cheer. And an affection for dancing snowmen. Those two things are in there along with everything else. But I'm also kinda ready for this year to be over.

I realize we still have a few weeks to go, and 2016 might still do something awful to further bring us down. But I'm ready to say goodbye to it anyway. It's been...an interesting year. I won't get into all the reasons 2016 has been challenging for the world--all somebody has to do is browse around online to see the news coverage, memes, and general complaints about what a hard year it's been. But I will say, it's been something of a rollercoaster for me. World issues aside, I'm ending this year feeling...tired. At least, that's one word for it. I've rolled a few options around in my brain and "discouraged" doesn't quite feel right, though I've had days when I definitely was. Still, it doesn't capture the feeling quite the way "tired" does. Or the way "worn down" does. It's been another year of balancing hope vs. disappointment until disappointment ultimately won out. And eventually, inevitably, that starts to grow roots.

It's been about seven years since I set out with the goal of being published. It's been four since I signed on with my agent, who continues to be amazing, and has patiently stood by me as I wrote book after book, to mostly positive reception, but not a single offer. The first year was hard--it saw what was arguably the biggest heartbreak as we got as close as you can get to receiving an offer only for it to not pan out. But I soldiered on because I was only a few months in at the time. I had a lot of hope. I still do, but year after year, it gets harder. I think that's only natural. Time wears things down. It wears people down. It makes old heartbreaks hurt less, but it also causes hope to fade year after year. I don't hope the same way I used to. I don't expect anything to happen. My best defense has always been to keep writing. As long as I'm looking ahead, I can't afford to spend much time looking back. But when you're on a journey, even if you keep your eyes forward, eventually your legs start to feel tired. That's where I am now. Still looking ahead, my eyes still on a goal I want as much as I ever did, but my muscles feel weary. I know stopping isn't an option if I want to reach my destination, but there's also a tiny voice in my head that's whispering, "You'll fail if you stop, but you might also be walking forever."

That's less likely if I keep trying. I know that. I know if I keep writing books, and keep working hard, and keep reaching, odds are, something will work out. But knowing the odds are probably in my favour--and knowing if all else fails, hell, I can just self-publish my books and at least people will be able to read them--doesn't stop me from feeling run down. It doesn't stop me from ending this year feeling like I failed on some level.

In reality, I've accomplished a lot this year. Freelancing and parenting aside, I finished a contemporary YA in the summer which I really enjoyed writing, and I think it's a compelling and quite lovely story. The adult romance I started for NaNoWriMo has been a refreshing experience--one I probably needed after writing several YAs that haven't gained traction. I'm excited to continue working on it into 2017. I'm excited to see if I have more luck with it than I've had with my YAs. In a way, I hope so, but YA is where my heart lies, so I still strive for success there too, even if it's a tough genre to break into. I'm enjoying writing the adult romance, but YA is what I want to write. It's where my voice feels strongest. And I have enough ideas to last me a long time yet. Which is another reason I know I'll keep going for a long time to come. I'll keep trying. I love writing. I love the time I spend doing it, and I love reading over what I've written, feeling like I've created something magical. I just hope that other aspect of it--the part where I get to share it with the world--comes along sooner than later. Because I do feel worn down. And I could really use a boost. 

It's arbitrary, the start of a new year. But I face it armed with the clean slate we all try to carry into January. The rejection of 2016 can't directly touch me there, even if it's left me battered. Whenever something doesn't happen one year, it might happen the next. It might. It also might not. But I can't know that. I can only try. So that's what I'll do.

I don't like being negative. I'm not a negative person by nature. But there's a line I wrote in my contemporary YA, IT FALLS APART, that says, "You can’t be optimistic until you’re finished being sad." Sometimes you just need to get it out of your system. And then you begin again.

If you've made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading--and thank you for visiting me here on the blog throughout the year. The site itself has gone through some changes as I've had to make adjustments since relaunching it almost a year ago. I'll be continuing to make more changes in 2017, and hope you'll keep me company as my writing and publishing journey continues. I hope your heart is full of joy and peace and kindness this holiday season. I hope you carry that with you into the new year--I think we're going to need it. And if you have a little optimism to spare, I'll gladly take it off your hands :)