In which I’m as Furious as a Bee

Okay, you know how I’m writing a book, right?

Well, today I broke through a minor case of writer’s block and wrote about four thousand words, or two chapters. It was awesome. There was a plot twist, followed by a pivotal scene where two POV characters meet for the first time. Then I left for work, and when I came back and opened up the document on Microsoft word, what do I find?

None of what I wrote was saved. Not a single word.

Sure, I’m 99% sure I had the auto-save option on, and even if I didn’t, the program would’ve asked me if I’d like to save my changes before exiting, but it’s not there. I looked everywhere and those four thousand words are nowhere to be found.

Now admittedly, worse things have happened to better people. After all, Paul Sheldon was forced to burn the only copy of his completed manuscript, and Edgar Allen Poe died of tuberculosis, probably. But I can’t help but feel like this is cruel and unfair. Sure, I could’ve just used Google Drive like a normal person, but I got a new computer that offered me a 30 day free trial with Microsoft, and I decided to give it a try. Was this a mistake? Yes. Will I continue to use Microsoft Word? Probably. I like the design.

After finding out the Writing Gods have spited me, I honestly considered going to my shed, grabbing an ax, and chopping away at the nearest tree. It’s a good way to your anger out, and get some exercise. But it was one o’clock at night, and that seemed weird.

Then I considered rewriting those lost words, but let’s just say, I was not in the mood. Those scenes took a lot of effort, and I was so happy to have them behind me. I was ready to move on with the whole story, and now I don’t even remember exactly where I left off. 

In the end I decided to write a post about it, because it’s been like, five days since my last one, and I’m trying to maintain a tiny bit of consistency. It also helped me get my anger out. Kind of. A little bit. Not really. 

(I’m still pissed, guys. I think I might chop that tree down for real.)

More Than I Can Chew: A Look Back

Image result for gum cartoon

For those who don’t know, two years ago I started writing an interactive blog story about two identical twins, one of whom had made a business out of selling gum to his fellow high school students. When one of his gum-selling employees decides to go rogue, a series of insane, potentially life-ruining events go down. No one is the same.

At the end of each chapter, there’d be poll that would allow the reader to decide which direction they wanted the story to go in. It was a good writing exercise: to write a cohesive story while staying true to the characters, despite having little to no control over the plot.

It had been a long time since I’d so much as thought about More Than I Can Chew, and what reading it over, a few things surprised me. So I decided to write a post about my thoughts on the project, almost two years after it ended, partly for nostalgic purposes but mostly for shameless self-promotion.

Click here if you want to read it!!!

1) Kathy is still cool.

I’m going to be honest: I had no intention of writing an older sister into the story for the first three chapters. The thought hadn’t even occurred to me until I realized that Wyatt was only 15, and he’d need someone to drive him around for this story to work. So I created Kathy, who was technically a plot device, but ended up being the heart of the story. (Or at least, I thought she was the heart of the story. Remember when she took the blame for something Wyatt did, even though she didn’t have to? That was sweet.)

2) A lot of the writing needed work.

There was a bit more telling than there should’ve been, and too many adverbs. I kind of want to go back to those posts and just revise everything, but I won’t. Because the past is the past, and it should stay that way. (Could I sell it as an ebook?)

3) Adrien wasn’t particularly likable in the beginning, was he?

He kept going on about how much he hated his brother, and I was like, “Damn, Adrien. Wyatt barely thinks about you at all. Move on. Get your own hobby.”

Adrien’s unlikeability can be boiled down to two problems:

  1. He was a big ol’ Mopey Gus in the beginning.
  2. He didn’t really do anything, at first. He just went to the bathroom, then got captured. I think Past Me realized this, because Past Me started giving him as much agency as the circumstances would allow, and I think it helped a lot.

4) Things went by a lot faster than I remembered.

So they were both in school, then Adrien gets kidnapped, now Wyatt and Kathy are driving to a park to pick him up. Now Adrien’s in the ER, Wyatt’s smashing furniture, and now Kathy’s managing to drive home, to the hospital, to the furniture store, and back home in record time. The whole story would’ve been about sixty pages long in book form, which is crazy considering just how much went down.

I’m not sure if this was a problem for anyone else, or if it only felt this way because I was reading it in on my phone, but things definitely felt like they were going by way too fast. Maybe that’s just my old age speaking. *shrugs*

5) The ending wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

It was a little abrupt, but not gonna lie, I think I’d be okay with this ending if I were just an unknowing reader. However, I’m a fan of ambiguous endings and most people aren’t, so I understand why some people may have been frustrated, and asking me questions like, “What happened to Diesel?” or “Was the money really counterfeit?” and “Is anyone going to jail? I feel someone should be thrown in jail.”

To which, I finally answer those questions, for those of you who are still around.

  1. Diesel was lying about his name the whole time. When he met Wyatt outside that hockey game back in ninth grade, he told him his name was Diesel because he wanted to see if Wyatt was dumb enough to believe it. Wyatt was. For several weeks prior to the start of this story, Diesel was quietly scheming his way to get the $10,000.
    • You may remember how, at the end, the characters decided to blame everything on Diesel? Well, the police were never able to find a Diesel, because no one in that high school had that name.
      • Basically, Diesel got away with everything.
  2. The money was not counterfeit. That was just Diesel being a criminal mastermind. It worked.
  3. Chances are, Fiona and Conner are going to have to do some community service. Fiona’s probably getting expelled, what with the whole, “organizing a kidnapping on school grounds” thing. I think James might be going to jail, because in order for Adrien not to get in trouble for almost killing him, he’d have to press charges on him for assault, and maybe kidnapping. The American legal system’s tricky, y’all.

All in all, I’m glad I wrote it; I just wish I had finished it within a reasonable amount of time. But hey, that’s my biggest flaw as a writer. I can’t finish. Even when I have the ending planned out, I end up losing interest and moving on to another project. Which, yeah, is a bad idea.

So I’ll end this post with some advice to all those beginner writers out there: finish your damn manuscripts. I don’t care how bad your first draft is, or if you just came up with a better story and you want to write that instead. Get it doneor you will be a failure, and you will die sad and alone in a tiny house in New Hampshire while everyone you ever loved will have nothing but contempt for you. Or your writing just won’t improve. Whichever’s worse.

A Slightly Belated Valentine’s Day Post

I’m back, bitches!

Sorry for the profanity. I just felt like adding “bitches” to the sentence would add more punch to it, so to speak. Anywho, I was recently nominated for two valentine’s day-themed awards, and while admittedly it’s no longer Valentine’s day, it’s still never too late to talk about the romance. (Ladies?)

So thank you, Engie, for nominating me. Oh, and thank you for that eCard thingy you sent me a few weeks back, which I will not reveal to the readers for sole purpose of being coy. You have no idea how happy that made me.

To start off with the first award, the Be My Valentine Book Tag:

Who is your favorite couple in a book?

Gregor and Luxa from the Underland Chronicles. They were adorable, in a slightly painful-to-watch sort of way.

Which book character would you take to dinner if you could?

As in, a date? Because I ain’t paying no check. And I’d feel bad if she had to pay for the whole thing, so I’d have to pick a character willing to dine and dash. Therefore, I pick Cameron Post, because she’s not likely to be fussy about taking things without paying.

Of course, it’s very, very unlikely that Cam (can I call her Cam?) would be interested in me. (Read the book, people!) So instead I’ll go with Blue Sargent, from The Raven Cycle. I feel like the two of us would get along well. We both similar senses of humor, sort of.

Villains deserve a little love, too. Which villain would you give a box of chocolates to?

Hm, could I pick Fiona from my own story, More Than I Can Chew? Because sure, she sort of ruined everything for everyone, but she still had one hell of a rough day.

No, Matt. You can’t choose your own character, you obnoxious egomaniac.

Fine then. I choose Daenerys Targaryen, who could be considered a villain, depending on who you ask. She’d probably be all, “What’s this?” And I’d say, “It’s chocolate,” and she’d say, “What in the seven hells is chocolate?” And then I’d have to explain the whole concept and manage to convince her it’s not poison. Hopefully she’d find the chocolate so delicious that she decides to stop pursuing the iron throne to start a chocolate milk factory, giving her army and dragons to me instead.

Be a Matchmaker; pick two characters from two different stories and pair them up.

Samantha Black Crow (American Gods) with an adult Cameron Post (Miseducation of Cameron Post). I just figured, they’re both really cool characters, so if they get together they’d be twice as cool.

What book setting would you like to visit while on a date?

Dorne, from A Song of Ice and Fire. As of the latest book, it’s easily the most peaceful and most tolerant of the seven kingdoms. Not to mention, with winter coming, I’d want to be as far south as possible. Those white walkers, am I right?

It’s not all about romance. What’s your favorite non-romantic relationship in a novel?

Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes. (I feel like I’m going about this question the wrong way . . .)

Venturing out of the book sphere for a bit: What song makes you feel loved?

“I Got You Babe,” by Etta James. This song wouldn’t be nearly as great if I didn’t connect it with this scene from The Last of Us:

Who is your favorite couple in a movie/TV show?

Frank and Claire Underwood from House of Cards. They’re both terrible people, but as a couple they are very unique, not to mention powerful. And neither of them seem to have any qualms about a spontaneous three-way with their security guard, which is pretty cool.

Now for the most important question of all: What is your favorite shade of red?

Blue. Because fuck you, that’s why.

(Just so you all know, I’ve spent the last few days finishing the final season of The Wire, which may cause an increase in colorful language.)

And now for the second tag:

Favorite couple ever? You want to have their relationship.

Eleanor and Park, because they fit together, like milk and cookies, or handstands and foot rubs.

Relationship that never happened? You wanted them to get together, but they never did.

Two certain characters from The Book Thief. I will not say more for spoilers’ sake, and because after three years I still find it a bit tough to talk about. #brokenheartsstaybroken.

Your bookish crush?

Hmm… I’m a huge fan of post-AGOT Sansa Stark, and am a huge fan of her from ASOS on.

Favorite “feel good” romance?

By this, do you mean a romance book with a happy ending? Because all the love stories I read tend to be tragedies. I guess I’d have to go with Paper Towns, where the romance was probably the least “feel good” part of the novel. Margo was sort of kind of a little bit of a terrible, terrible person, and Quentin was unhealthily obsessed with her. But hey, they were adorable as kids together.

(I think I’m going to write a “In Defense of Paper Towns” post one day, because lately I’ve been seeing a lot of criticisms of that book. And while everyone’s entitled to their opinions and whatnot, I do feel like some people are kind of… missing the point. Will discuss later. Possibly.)

Favorite genre to add romance to?

I don’t know. Urban fantasy? I say this because The Raven Cycle is the only urban fantasy series I think I’ve read, and the romance was great, and no one can say otherwise.

And that is all for questions. I refuse to nominate anyone because Valentine’s Day has come and past. Also, Valentine’s is a pretty stupid holiday anyway, essentially a Scam created by Evil Corporations so we’d Spend Money, or at least that’s I hear from a couple billion or so people each year.

To end this post, here’s a picture of two giraffes in love.

More Than I Can Chew: Chapter 16

So, for the last twelve hours of so I’ve found myself wondering, “Why has no one liked Chapter 16?” I mean, I didn’t expect to see a whole lot of responses, considering the five month break in between chapters, but I expected at least one like, or something. After investigating to see what the problem was I figured it out: I never actually posted it. I scheduled it for the twenty-eighth instead of the twenty-seventh. I guess I’m just not that good at this whole “math” thing.

Sorry about that. Here is chapter 16. Enjoy.

Wyatt

“So, do you think I could beat up James?” I asked. “I think I can. I mean, he’s like, real spooky and all, but he’s got no muscles whatsoever.”

“Nope,” said Kathy.

“Seriously? You’ve seen me in a sleeveless shirt before. I am a sight to behold.” This brought a smile from her, which I took as confirmation that I should keep going. “Did you know how I was kicked off the football team last year?”

“Because during the halftime you stole the opposing team’s school flag?”

That actually did happen. Except this was during the Varsity team’s game, so I wasn’t playing. This was at our rival school, however, (Diesel went there) and I was dared by my Senior friends to steal the schools’ flag during the game. Maybe it was because I was partially drunk at the time, but I decided what the hell. Kathy was still in her ultra-rebellious mode at this time, so she agreed to provide me a getaway car, and it worked out great. Sure, I got kicked off the football team and accidentally started a brawl, and I had to drop the flag because it couldn’t fit through the car door, but at this point the upperclassmen had started to know me not as Kathy’s little brother but as the Great Wyatt Mellonsky himself. Good times.

“Not just because of that. Turns out I was so intimidating that all the other players were afraid to go near me, and the coach had to let me go. It just wasn’t fair to the other teams.”

“Mhm.”

“True story.”

“Oh, I believe you.” Kathy kept on driving.

I took a deep breath, looking out the window as the silence swallowed everything. I tried looking ahead to find Diesel’s car, but I couldn’t see anything.

The group had split into two cars, with Kathy, Sean and I in one and Diesel and Adrien in the other. Kathy had reluctantly agreed to the whole thing, not before telling off the both of us first. “You two need to get your shit together, okay? No more complaining, no breaking things, no shooting people in the chest. The moment you start to get all emotional, or pull some spur-of-the-moment crap on me, I will call Mom and Dad and I will bring you straight home. Understand?” We had both understood.

Basically, the plan was: Diesel and Adrien would walk into Fiona’s house, and then Diesel would text me to come in at the right time. With me pointing a gun at them, Adrien would light the money on fire while they watched. Fiona didn’t know it was counterfeit, supposedly, so she’d be pissed.  This was all Adrien’s plan, and I was actually sort of impressed.

Sean and Kathy would wait in the car for back-up. If they didn’t hear from either of us in ten minutes, first Sean would call Fiona in the hopes of figuring out what was going on, and if that didn’t work the two of them would swoop in, SWAT team-style, and rescue us. But hopefully they wouldn’t have to resort to such methods.

Diesel turned right onto one street while Kathy turned right on the next one, where we stopped halfway down and pulled over to the side. “That’s her house.” I pointed at the back of a large white house with a porch and an in-ground pool in the backyard. I couldn’t see any movement inside.   

I held the BB gun in my hand (Sean had reluctantly given it back), waiting for Diesel’s text. We waited, and waited, until at least two minutes had gone by, and finally my phone vibrated.

Wyatt, I am not going to ask again, please answer back—

I deleted it without reading the rest. “Just mom,” I said, and everyone went back into waiting position. At least a minute went by before I got another message, this one from Diesel.

Now.

I opened the door and stepped out. “Wish me luck, guys.”

“Don’t die or anything,” said Kathy.

“I’ll try not to.” I was about to leave, but then I decided to add one more thing. “And Kathy?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you. For everything.”

She was a little taken back, which I expected, but she also smiled, for what might have been the first time since she picked me up from school that morning. “Give ‘em hell Wyatt.”

And with that I started running across one yard and jumped the fence into Fiona’s. I looked up at the windows for any signs of movement, and saw nothing.

Underneath Fiona’s back porch was an old door that led into the basement. I knew this because I’d had to sneak out of this door on more than one occasion, last summer.

I opened it, slowly pointing the gun ahead like I was some sort of secret agent. This was the storage room; the real basement was just outside the next door, some five feet away. I could see the light beneath the cracks on the other side. Knowing I’d be blinded once I opened the door, I went ahead and did it anyway, opening it quietly in case everyone was upstairs.

The first thing I saw was Adrien sitting down against the wall, barely moving. I thought he’d been in bad shape after the kidnapping, but this was so much worse. Both eyes were swollen and black, his nose was bleeding furiously, down his chin down his shirt to the floor. His upper lip was swollen and upon further inspection, at least one of his front teeth was missing. The sight made me sick to my stomach.

Fiona was kneeling next to him with a first aid kit, blabbering nonstop. “I am so sorry he did this to you, I never planned for any of this to happen, I just—”

“Fiona?”

She looked at me, and immediately stood up and backed against the wall. “Wyatt, please. This was all James and Diesel’s work. Okay? I didn’t want them to do this.”

Except she was lying, because Diesel obviously wouldn’t have done it; he just wanted to go home, like everyone else. I told her this, but Fiona just shook her head, confused.

“Diesel started this whole thing. He threw the first punch. No one asked him too.”

“Shut up.” I looked to the right, where the staircase was. “Where’s James?”

Someone kicked the door behind me, the one I just walked through, and it slammed shut. I spun around and shot the gun blindly in that direction. I either missed James or the BB just wasn’t painful enough to bother him.

He tackled me to the floor, my head landing on the side of the couch. If it had landed on the wooden floor I might’ve died. James took the gun away from me and smacked me across the face with it, all while Fiona was screaming at us to stop.

I kicked him in the stomach, then kept kicking until he backed off, then I somehow managed to get back to my feet.

The rest of the room was unfocused, unimportant. The only thing that mattered was James, that lying backstabbing piece of trash that I had somehow thought would make a good employee. He was still backing up uncertainty when I slammed his body against the wall, punching wildly. The gun fell somewhere, I didn’t care. I just wanted to give James a broken nose, two black eyes and a missing tooth. Maybe even a splinted shin while I was at it.

“WYATT!” Fiona’s shout was just loud enough to snap me out of it. I looked over to find her standing there, with the BB gun pointed at me. Her hands were shaking. “Walk slowly towards your brother and sit down.” Or I will shoot you, her eyes said.

“Just shoot him anyway!” said James. His face wasn’t nearly as messed up as it should’ve been.

“Shut up, James,” she said, keeping her eyes on me. She looked about five years older than she did this morning.

James, unfortunately, was one of those people who did not like to be told what to do.

“What did you just say to me?” In a tone that meant he knew perfectly well what she just said to him.

“Please, James, just go get Diesel.”

He looked like he was about to argue further, and despite my anger at Fiona I didn’t want to see that happen. “Yeah James,” I said between heavy breaths. “Scurry off.”

“Shut your mouth, Mellonsky, before I kick your ass again.” I had a really obvious comeback in mind, but I decided to hold it in. With that, James stormed up the stairs.

“So. . . what is Diesel doing, anyway?” I was trying to sound casual and perfectly calm here.

“He’s keeping a lookout upstairs, just in case you decided to come in through the other door.”

“How’d you know I was coming?”

She looked at me like I was crazy. “He told us.” Then she seemed to remember the circumstances, because she yelled at me to sit down next to Adrien. I looked over at him as I sat down, mostly just to make sure he wasn’t dead.

“You okay?”

Adrien just shrugged, looking straight ahead with an almost bored expression.

I turned back to Fiona. “So what exactly did Diesel say when he got here?”

“He said. . .” she hesitated, then went on. “That on the way over, he found out that you were following them, and that Adrien had no intention of actually letting this whole thing go. And then he punched Adrien in the face, knocked away his crutches, and James brought him down here and did the rest. I didn’t want either of them to do that, okay?”

“Okay.”

She nodded. “And then Diesel told us that Wyatt would probably be coming through the basement door any moment now.”

I sighed, banging my head back against the wall. “Diesel too.” Of course. He was willing to help them kidnap my brother; he wouldn’t just randomly switch sides after that. I am an idiot.

Was anything he said true? James having creepy romantic feelings towards Fiona? The counterfeit money? I wasn’t sure how to feel if the money turned out to be legitimate after all. Proud that my ten thousand dollar gum business was real or upset that I’d probably never get it back? I’d have time to ponder that later.

A loud noise, the sound of furniture being knocked over, came from upstairs, startling the both of us. James came running downstairs, his face furious.

“Diesel’s car is gone,” he said.

“What?” Fiona and I said at the same time. Fiona gave me a look, then kept talking. “Why would he do that?”

Instead of answering, James punched the wall, which struck me as a very pointless gesture. Finally he managed to regain some semblance of composure. “He took all the money with him too.”

My Christmas Gift to You

First off, I’d like to apologize to all the readers of my More Than I Can Chew series. The last post was over five months ago, and there’s been no real explanation why, even though I know that at least four of you were huge fans of it. And there is no great explanation, other than a severe case of writer’s block, which I don’t feel like is good enough.

To make it up for you, there will be five back-to-back MTICC posts in a row, from Christmas day to December 29th. (They have already been written and scheduled.) You will be once again be reunited with Wyatt and Adrien and Kathy and all the other characters you may have come to love or hate. There will be a few twists, a few turns, a few surprising moments of happiness, and a bittersweet ending that I you’ll hopefully find satisfying..

What provoked me to finish this story so suddenly, you ask? Well, I was giving up hope on a novel I was working on, (the story is about mutants, and it’s groovy) and I came to the shocking realization that I haven’t completed a single thing I set out to do this year. While 2013 was year of success (I won NaNoWriMo, won NaBloPoMo, and was Freshly Pressed), 2014 has so far been a year of failure. And with just a small number of days left in the year, I want to put a change to that.

And so I jotted down ideas, paced around a bit, banged my head against three separate walls, and finally came up with a semi-decent idea. After writing roughly five hundred words, I was struck with an even better idea, and ended up writing three chapters in one day. For the first time in months I felt those creative juices flowing. I felt like how Paul Sheldon did in Misery (while he was writing Misery Returns, not when he was having various body parts hacked off.)

So, for all those reading this who’re thinking “What’s More Than I Can Chew?”, feel free to click here, and get yourself caught up. And for those who have read the series up till the last one but whose memory of it is a little hazy, I’m going to write a quick(ish) summary of everything that has happened in the last thirteen chapters. You are welcome.

___

So, the first chapter features Adrien being angsty and the second features Wyatt about to be suspended, but the story doesn’t really start to kick off until Adrien is kidnapped by James and two other unnamed people in the boys’ bathroom at school. During this whole bizarre escapade, Adrien is beaten up badly, knocked out unconscious (with conveniently few health effects), and has a thirty minute long staring contest with Diesel in the back of a van. Meanwhile, Wyatt and his sister Kathy find out about the kidnapping, and make their way to a park near Jame’s neighborhood in order to rescue him.

Wyatt fools the three kidnappers by pretending to call the cops, (it’s actually Kathy on the line), and after a bit of arguing, they decide to drop off Adrien at the Urgent Care Center, where he is visited by 1: Detective Roy Thompson, who will probably be important later, 2:His principal, who is more concerned about a lawsuit than anything else, and 3: Everyone in his immediate family except for Wyatt. As it turns out, his parents aren’t very good at this whole parenting thing, especially where Kathy’s concerned. Meanwhile, Wyatt comes home to realize that someone has raided his home and stolen all his gum and money. (The plot really starts to thicken around this point.) So Wyatt calls up his friend Sean, takes his neighbor’s BB gun, and goes over to Connor’s house in order to interrogate him and whatnot. It doesn’t go well

Then Adrien gets home from the hospital to find that Wyatt is gone, which wouldn’t have been a problem if not for the fact that Mr. and Mrs. Mellonsky are now completely aware of the fact that Wyatt has been suspended. Kathy gets an anonymous text telling him that Wyatt has gone to Connor’s house. And the two of them leave to go find him. Kathy texts Wyatt asking where he was, which accidentally blows his cover, and he and Sean end up running out of Connor’s house. Kathy chases after them, leaving Adrien alone. Adrien decides to use this precious alone time to attack Connor’s face with his crutches. He then discovers that Fiona was actually in charge of the whole kidnapping thing, but is then immediately kidnapped by Diesel, who tells Adrien that the ten thousand dollars Wyatt has worked so hard for was actually counterfeit this whole time. *gasp*

So, what will happen next? Will Wyatt get his revenge? Will Adrien get over his self-esteem issues? Will Kathy and her mother ever get along? Find out on Christmas Day. Sure, you won’t be able to watch The Interview, but you’ll at least be able to read this.

___

And now, to further hype you all up, I will give you vague information that will hopefully pique your interest.

  • That BB gun will become very important.
  • Shit will go down in chapter 16.
  • Somebody will lose a tooth.
  • Someone will say, “Well it looks like I bit off more than I can chew!”
  • Okay, that last part isn’t true, but admit it, you sort of wish it was.

In which I Answer a Couple Questions

yikes!

So the Legendary Miko nominated me for this award, and even said, “You better do this, mister haven’t-posted-that-much-since-summer-hit,” which made me think, “Eh, fair enough.” And here we are. Since I know no one’s really interested in Sunshine Awards (is it bad that the first thing I do is look to see if I got nominated?) I retitled the post and included a picture from Finding Nemo in order to draw y’all in.

So, now to answer the questions:

1) Someone’s hitchhiking on the road. Would you stop and give them a lift or keep driving?

It depends on several factors, such as A: The time, and B: the age of said hitchhiker.

See, if this took place at night (unlikely, since I only have a driver’s permit and am thus unable to drive after sunset), I would not pick any stranger up, because y’know, vampires. And if the hitchhiker was only, say, four years old, then yes I would definitely give him/her a lift, because four year olds should not be walking down roads at night without at least having parental supervision.

2) Would you rather have the ability to heal people or the ability to read minds?

Would I also be able to heal myself? Either way, I choose the former. If I could read minds, I wouldn’t be able to stop reading minds, and then I’ll learn things about certain people that I never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever  wanted to know.

3) In a fighting match between a chinchilla and a turtle, who would win and why?

The chinchilla, because everybody knows that turtles are pacifists. Although I suppose the turtle would have the moral high-ground, so in a way it would be the true winner.

4) Milkshake or Float?

Why not both?

5) Why do you blog?

I started blogging because I liked writing and I thought it would be fun, and I kept blogging because of all the great people I met with the same interests that I had. Do you have any idea how many Game of Thrones fans I talk to regularly in real life? Four. And one of those is me.

Now, time for my question: (Warning, I chose some deep ones.)

  1. Does nature shape our personalities more than nurture?
  2. Who decides what morality is?
  3. When does consciousness begin?
  4. What is time?
  5. What is true happiness?

Good luck answering those questions, nominees. I hereby nominate everyone who reads this blog.

Yes that includes you.

Yes you.

Good luck answering those questions.

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Writing (TCWT)

I always had a thing for reading and writing. At four years old I was wolfing down Dr. Seuss books like it was nobody’s business, and by first grade I could finish any one of those Captain Underpants novels in less than a day. No big deal. Inspired by George Beard and Harold Hutchins, I started writing my own mostly plagiarized comic books, which kick-started my ongoing writing career.

I’ve since retired from the comic book business, but I have yet to stop writing stories. Most of them have been science fiction, and centered around a main character (always around my age) with similar characteristics. Basically me, except perfect in every way, and everyone who opposed me was just evil, an idiot, or both. Which brings me to this month’s TCWT blog chain:

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started writing?

There are so many things to choose from, so I’m going to cheat and mention several of them. First off, I would’ve loved it if someone had let me in on this particular nugget: characters with flaws are infinitely more interesting than those without them.. Also, books where the main character is almost exactly like the author will never sell well, unless you’re John Green. For years I was writing characters who were idealized versions of myself, and surrounded them with characters who were just shallow versions of my real friends. And the villains were always real people I didn’t like, like my annoying older brother, who was always one-dimensionally evil and/or stupid.

(In my defense, my brother did (and still does) often act in a cartoonishly evil/stupid way. But that doesn’t mean he’d make a great character.)

Another helpful tidbit would’ve been: Your parents’ opinions are almost always useless. This may not apply for those of you who have parents with writing experience, or genuinely criticize your work instead of just “This is amazing! I’m going to put this on the fridge so I can read it every day,” but in my case (and most others) your parents probably laughed at your writing as a little kid; they just complemented it because they didn’t want to discourage you.

Of course, I don’t blame my parents for doing that. If I had shown my dad one of my stories as a little kid, and he replied with, “Don’t quit your day job, kiddo. This story sucks,” there’s a good chance I would’ve been discouraged from writing altogether, and this blog wouldn’t even exist.

Of course, the downside to this is that it gave me unrealistic expectations. I actually thought my work from five years ago actually had a chance of being published. (Heh heh.) And worst of all, I didn’t improve as much as I could have because I wasn’t aware of all the huge flaws in my writing, mostly because no one pointed them out. Which brings me to my next point.

Get people who aren’t your friends or family to read your writing. I wish I had known about beta readers. If you have a blog, you should post a few short stories or something, where people can criticize it for free. People on the internet are not exactly known for being too polite, after all, and they can be extremely helpful when it comes to critiquing your work, especially on WordPress. For my More Than I Can Chew interactive blog story, I have the delightful Plotwhisperer who isn’t afraid to say what she does and doesn’t like about each chapter, and it helps. A lot.

But the main thing I wish I knew from the very beginning is: Don’t censor yourself. Don’t stray from certain topics or themes just because you’re afraid you’ll offend someone. Write about what’s important to you and don’t hold back.* You don’t see this advice being used often on this blog, (it’s a humor/book blog. Topics like gun control and abortion would just be off-topic), but when I do write about potentially controversial subjects, they work out much better than I could possibly anticipate. I was Freshly Pressed from a post titled, “How to be a Young Writer Without Making Me Want to Punch You in the Face,” and I almost didn’t publish it because I was afraid it would upset some people. And it did upset some people. A few people politely disagreed with it, others impolitely disagreed with it, and one guy wrote an angry rant calling me an “arrogant fuck who doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” and continued to insult my blog and teen writers in general.

I can still remember large portions of that comment (he was a mean one, that guy), but I also remember the hundreds of other amazing comments from adults and teens alike. A bunch of teenagers were inspired by it, many adults were impressed and a high school English teacher even said she was going to show this article to all her students. For every angry commenter, they were fifty other nice and supportive ones. So I laughed to myself as I deleted that asshole’s comment and moved on with my life.

When you reach a wider audience, you’re bound to get a few mean critics, but if you’re afraid to speak your mind, you’ll never reach that audience to begin with.

Someone should quote me on that last sentence. That was deep.

*Of course, there’s a difference between speaking your mind and being a jerk. If you’re being racist/sexist/homophobic/prejudiced towards any group, don’t be surprised when you are either ignored or receive angry feedback. And I won’t feel bad for you.

(Sorry there’s no photo. I had to resort to using my phone to write the post, and I’m not sure how to add pictures.)

Check out the other participants here:

5th – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

6th – https://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

8th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

9th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/

10th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

11th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

12th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

13th – http://theweirdystation.blogspot.com/

14th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

15th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

16th – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

17th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

18th – http://novelexemplar.wordpress.com/

19th – http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

20th – https://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

21st – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

24th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ – The topic for August’s blog chain will be announced.