I've been diligently working away on my current WIP, a YA Sci-Fi tentatively titled, THE BONE HARVEST, and I'm happy to say I've nearly reached the halfway point! Sounds like a good time to share a little excerpt, don't you think? :)
I've been diligently working away on my current WIP, a YA Sci-Fi tentatively titled, THE BONE HARVEST, and I'm happy to say I've nearly reached the halfway point! Sounds like a good time to share a little excerpt, don't you think? :)
When I was twenty-five, my now-husband-then-boyfriend and I moved into our first apartment together. I'd moved before, of course, but only ever as a single person moving some of her own stuff (while the rest stayed at her parents' house), usually with the help of friends and family. This was different. This was two people combining all their stuff--pretty much everything we owned--into a 5th-floor apartment in a new city without any help.
I had no idea what we were in for.
It's in my nature to push myself. I often tackle things head on and do what I must to get the job done. Load boxes, unload boxes, stack them, move furniture, keep going. All day, I pushed and pushed and pushed. It had to get done. The plan was to return the U-haul truck that same night. But as the day wore on, and the sky got dark, my power-through-it attitude started to falter and my body started to fail. I felt weak and light-headed. We hadn't stopped to eat dinner. Unloading the truck was taking too long for us to take a break. But I wasn't moving quickly anymore; in fact, I really needed to sit down. I tried to convince myself it was mind over matter. I just needed to keep pushing. But I was wrong. What I needed was help.
We finally reached the last item in the truck--a massive, recliner couch full of heavy, metal parts. It was a beast I was in no condition to slay.
"I don't think I can do this," I said. But I knew it had to be done. So I tried to do it anyway.
I started crying. My end of the couch in hand, I had to stop every few feet, every muscle in my body on fire as tears streamed down my face. I was physically and mentally exhausted. But still, I had it in my head that I needed to carry on. We were moving into a large building in a busy area of the city. We could've flagged somebody down, offered them $20 to help. Hell, offered them $100. We could've left the couch in the truck and paid the extra money to keep it overnight. Try moving it in the morning. We could've even left the couch in the loading dock and chanced it. Honestly, if it was gone when we went to retrieve it the next day, I would've been fine with that. I didn't even like the damn thing in the first place.
We didn't do any of those things, though. It took a long time, but we got it from the truck, through the loading dock, down the hall to the elevator where we carefully maneuvered it inside, rode up, and then lugged it down the long hallway to our apartment. My head pounding, my knees shaking, I felt like I was going to die. After we got it inside, I headed straight to our new bathroom, used the last, remaining shreds of energy I had left to hang up the shower curtain, and took a long, hot shower, continuing to involuntarily weep, sitting in the tub with my back against the tile I'd ideally have cleaned first. I sat like that for a long time. My first night in our new apartment.
I felt a bit better after my shower and the pizza we ordered and devoured, but some part of me still felt broken. I'd pushed myself way too hard. I should've acknowledged I'd reached my limit. I should have asked for help.
The above story is mostly about physical pain, though my mental state was definitely also affected. When our bodies start to fail us, be it through illness or injury, it's never wise to push through the pain. That only makes it worse. Most people know this. Most people go to the hospital when something isn't working the way it should. And yet, we treat our mental health the way I treated my body that day, like it's some mind-over-matter thing we can overcome if we just keep pushing. But our brains are part of our bodies too. And like every other part of us, they need help sometimes. They need maintenance. They need time to heal. It's perfectly normal and human and we need to stop seeing it as anything otherwise. We need to stop seeing it as a weakness. Someone who's carrying a heavy box, then has more heavy boxes loaded on top should be able to say, "This is too much. I can't carry this alone." And the same is true for our brains. Sometimes it's too much. Sometimes we can't carry it alone. And when that happens, please don't be afraid to ask for help. It's the only way you can feel better. And you deserve to feel better.
I'm here. Let's talk.
I'm sorry this took me so long. Most of this has been sitting in a note file on my phone for over a month. Some of it was written on that last day I held you. Some a week later. Some a week after that. It's been a process, a helpful one. It's lessened the fear I'll one day begin to forget you. But it's never really felt finished, or ready to be shared. Still doesn’t. But I owe you a tribute. I owe you more than that. So here goes.
I have all these thoughts, these memories, these feelings, and I don’t know what to do with them but write. You know this. You sat by me on many a day as I sat at my desk and wrote. You were my constant companion. My shadow. Your sister has taken on that role since you left us. I feared she'd withdraw with your loss, but instead, she's done the opposite. Sitting in all your old favourite spots, hanging out with me while I work (she's on my lap as I type this). I know people who don't live with pets won't fully grasp a pet-owner's grief when they lose one. That doesn't really bother me, though. They can't understand what we do. That the love you receive from a pet is like no other, though it comes at a very steep price. Or that losing a pet is more similar to losing a close family member than losing a plant you've kept alive for years. That's unfortunate; this is heart-wrenching.
I take comfort in the fact that you didn't suffer. That you didn't have some long, drawn-out illness. That we didn't have to make the difficult decision to end your life. But the unexpected manner in which we lost you was so abrupt. So unfair. Like somebody flicking off a light before I was ready for the darkness. I kept thinking, this can’t be real. This can’t be happening. Of all the many things I know about you, one of the biggest is that you’re supposed to be alive.
You're not the first animal I've had to say goodbye to. I lost family dogs growing up. I cried. I missed them. I wished I could have them back. But you--you were my baby. You and your sister were only eight weeks old when we brought you home, and after a decade together, you fully owned a piece of my heart. Still do. They say a cat will never love you like a dog does. But you did. You were my boy.
The pain of your loss lessens every day, though not for lack of missing you. I'll forever feel lucky for the time that we had, and the pure, unconditional love that we shared. I don't think we'll ever stop wishing we'd had more weeks, months, and years. But I'm learning to live with my grief. Learning to miss you without feeling broken. The process feels familiar, reminding me less of extended family I've lost, and more of the first time I had my heart broken. Of how impossible it feels--the devastation of having something tremendous torn from your life. Of how powerless I was to stop it.
But this isn't just about sadness and loss. It's about you. About what a huge personality and an awesome buddy you were. The house feels so much quieter without you. You were tirelessly aggressive in your affection, purring and snuggling, combing your paws through my hair while I napped, always sitting on me, or beside me, or in your favourite evening spot, behind me on the couch. Your constant purr sometimes drowned out whatever show we were watching, but it was such a comfort, knowing you were with me and you were happy.
From the day you curiously popped your fuzzy little head out of the crate we brought you home in, you always wanted to be involved in everything, from laundry to odd jobs around the house. I think you inserted yourself into the construction of every piece of furniture I've ever built. Every room I've painted. I have no doubt that some of your fur is even painted into the walls. And oh, how you'd play. You loved that green caterpillar toy so much. The way you'd pull it back and launch it across the room instead of just letting it dangle. You were so clever and so cute.
Even when our family began to grow, always a wild card with pets, you embraced the baby stuff as it appeared. You were interested in the babies when they appeared too, often keeping watch over them, recognizing they were an important part of our family. And as they grew, you were endlessly patient with them, always lingering as long as you could stand to indulge their desires to pet and squeeze you. It feels like fate that I showed them your namesake, Oliver and Company, that morning, mere hours before you left us. I'm glad we got to sit all together on the couch one last time, snuggling with our Oliver.
Explaining your loss to the kids has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I think Henry still doesn't get it. Emmeline had trouble falling asleep those first few nights. She drew pictures of you and asked questions I either didn't know how to answer or didn't want to have to. Why did he have to leave? Will anyone ever be able to fix him? Should I still put food in his bowl in the morning?
No, he doesn't need food anymore. I'd have to remove the matching blue food dish from beside Huntley's pink one, which now sits alone. She still makes room for you though. When she eats, she positions her body to the one side of the placemat, leaving a space. It's what she's always done, though I think she's come to realize you're not coming back. I can't imagine what it's like for her, to have had you by her side every day of her life, her brother and constant companion, and then suddenly, you're gone. I wish I could explain it to her. What I can do is cuddle her and comfort her. We're taking good care of her, as you always did.
Cooper has been taking good care of her too. He'll never replace you as her best animal pal, but he's been keeping an eye on her, sitting with her when she'll let him. Two days before you died, it seemed you were becoming friends with Cooper too, going so far as to rub up against him and let him lick you. Oh good, I'd thought at the time. They're starting to like each other. And then you were gone. I'm sorry you didn't have more time to get to know him. I'm sorrier he didn't have more time to get to know you.
There was a moment, maybe a month before you left us, when I went to feed all three of you, and you knew it was coming, as you always did, leading the charge with the other two in tow. I remember thinking, wow, there's three of them now. It felt like you were a herd, moving through the house with such excitement. It made my heart feel full. For years, it was just you and Huntley running along, and now it's only Huntley and Cooper. But even with Cooper's jangling collar, the two of them feel quieter than the two of you ever did. You were such a presence in our lives.
I think one of my favourite things about you was that you apparently adored Bill Paxton. Never one to watch TV, it was pretty unusual when you'd suddenly sit up and stare at the screen every time we watched Big Love. At first, we thought it might be a coincidence, but then it kept happening, even when he guested on Agents of Shield years later. You knew Bill's voice when you heard it, and you always came running.
It occurred to me, about a week after you passed--hey, didn't Bill Paxton pass away this year too? He did, back in February. Problems with his heart. Just like you. Kindred spirits, I suppose. I don’t know where you are, Oliver. I know in my heart that you’re still with me because I can feel the weight of carrying you. It’s one I’m happy to bear. But I hope you’re somehow also somewhere kickin’ it with your hero, Bill.
Taking out the Christmas stockings was hard, removing Huntley's from the tote and leaving yours behind. I didn't know I'd have to do that this year. Of course, nobody knows these things. They just happen. I still think I can hear you sometimes, moving through the house the way you did. Sometimes I get the sensation of your fur brushing up against me. I can still remember what it felt like to pick you up and hold you.
Whenever we'd return from a trip, you'd march into your crate and demand to go home, punishing us for all of five minutes before snuggling me, purring incessantly, begging me to never leave again. I wish I could've begged you to stay.
I feel like this hurts even more because I know how much you loved me. In a way, I feel like I let you down. But I take comfort in knowing you probably only loved me that much because you knew how much I loved you.
We are so lucky to have had you in our family, Oliver. Thank you for loving us.
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...
So many good Mal moments. Far, far too many to have to choose from. This one makes me smile every time.
Jayne is the perfect anti-hero. So bad, and yet, so damn good. This clip captures his essence pretty well.
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.
Not my favourite episode overall, but it featured some iconic scenes, including this one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All is revealed as the ultimate endgame comes to light.
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:
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.
A post shared by Lucy Hale (@lucyhale) on
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 :)
Our rogue PLL is finally outed by Mona.
An A.D. suspect reveals info about Charlotte's death.
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...
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.
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...
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....
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.
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? :)
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):
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.
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!
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?
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
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 :)
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 ;)
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...):
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.
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.
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
The official website for Young Adult Author, Kate Pawson Studer.
The Writer's Arsenal is a series of posts about writer's craft and this adventurous business we call publishing. The archive of past posts can be accessed by clicking the above image. If you have a question or suggestion for a related topic you'd like to see covered, please leave it in the comments, or use the contact form linked at the top of the page under "ABOUT". The Writer's Arsenal is cross-posted at Paper Poppy Editorial.