Finding Beta Readers: Some Advice

So as many of you know, I recently finished a book. It’s a book that can be accurately described as, “X-Men, but in a basement.” And because I wanted to know if it was good enough to publish, I started looking for beta readers. Since then, I’ve swapped manuscripts with two people and received three in-depth critiques so far, of which I am grateful for.

(Side note: I also sent out a manuscript to three other people, who have yet to even make a comment on the document. Which makes me wonder: did they not like the book? Or have they just not gotten around to finishing it? Either way, if you’re one of these people, and you still plan on critiquing said manuscript, please know that the document you’ve got is now out-of-date. I’ve already received three critiques, after all, and I’m already returning to the revision stage. If you’d like to read the updated version, let me know, but I should warn you, it may take a few weeks before you get it.)

So, yeah, I’m basically a professional beta reader now. Not a big deal.

And as someone who’s critiqued many people’s work in the past and has been critiqued several times myself, I’ve got some advice to share. This advice goes for people sharing entire manuscripts, or for those posting smaller bits of writing at places like Destructive Readers. Really, if you want anyone at all to read any piece of your writing, this advice is for you.)

1) For the love of God, proofread your work first.

Let me tell you about the first person I swapped critiques with. She sent me the document, and after reading the few paragraphs I thought to myself. “Oh dear. What have I got myself into?”

It wasn’t just that the story itself sucked. That would be understandable. The problem was the typos. So many typos. At least one in every paragraph, and she wrote short paragraphs. Now, I am no saint with typos, as my readers can attest, but had this person clicked the “spelling & grammar” option, at least half of these errors could’ve been fixed.

This guy knows how I felt

And the thing is, this writer did a great job critiquing my manuscript, so it wasn’t like she didn’t have have a proper grasp of the English language. Instead it seems like she busted out a first draft and sent it to me without a second glance.

Don’t do this. Don’t make your reader spend so much time fixing something you could easily fix yourself. Because now instead of focusing on the story, the characters, the world-building, etc., the reader’s going to get bogged down on the little details. Plus, it’s kind of rude. It’s like if you ordered something at a restaurant, and the chef came out and just threw all the individual ingredients at you.

(No, it’s not like that? Alright, I’ll work on my metaphors.)

2) Don’t get defensive.

This hasn’t happened to me personally, but I’ve seen other people on places like “Destructive Readers,” (or even worse: on actual Amazon reviews of a self-published book), where the author got defensive and lashed out at the negative reviewer. Don’t do this. No matter how misguided or mean-spirited you think the critique is, say thank-you and move on. Because critiquing is not a debate. You’re not going to change the readers’ mind by telling them they “just didn’t get it.” 

I get that writing is a personal experience for most, and it’s easy to take things personally. But I’ve critiqued a lot of really terrible, embarrassingly bad stories over the last year or so, and not once did I find myself judging the person who wrote it. Most people are able to separate the story from its author, and are not going to think less of you for writing a shitty book. (Unless the book is like, aggressively racist or whatever.) They will, however, think less of you for not being able to handle criticism.

3) Remember, you don’t actually have to follow anyone’s advice.

You should still follow point #2, of course, but that doesn’t mean you should listen to every little thing they have to say. Sure, if more than one person points something out, it’s almost definitely worth addressing, but there’s been times where I looked at a beta reader’s advice and thought, “nope!”

Because sometimes, beta readers are wrong. Sometimes they simply have different tastes or opinions that don’t match the audience you’re aiming for or the vision you have. And that’s okay. It doesn’t take any validity away from their other points, and it doesn’t make you an egotistical jerk for not listening to that one part of their critique.

And because I only wrote this post to rant about points one and two, here are a couple of minor bits of advice that I will elaborate very little on:

  • If you’re asking someone to critique your story, make sure to actually tell them what it’s about, and how long it is.
  • One person sent me a copy of her manuscript where it ended mid-sentence. And I emailed her and said, basically, “Is this a mistake, or are you trying to pull off a Sopranos, here?” Because if it were the latter, that would be a pretty ballsy move. Not even The Sopranos was able to pull off a Sopranos ending. She responded with, essentially, “oops, my bad. Here’s the real document,” and sent me a version of the manuscript that was slightly more polished, and came with an actual ending. And I was pissed because I just spent two weeks pushing myself through a typo-ridden manuscript only to find out I’d been given the rough draft by accident.
  • So, don’t do that last bullet-point.
  • (And yes. That person was the same writer from advice #1.)
  • Okay, enough giving you guys advice, I’m just gonna rant some more. How the hell do you accidentally send someone the older copy of your manuscript, and not realize it at all during the weeks he spent critiquing it? There’s carelessness, and then there’s that.
  • I wasted two weeks of my life, dammit.
  • Okay, more like around fifteen hours or so of total work put in, but still.
  • Excuse me while I go chop down a tree.

Wow, so this post quickly veered off track. I’d like to end this post by saying good luck to all you writers out there, and I’d like to say thank you to those who critiqued my manuscript. You’re the best.

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My Search for Beta Readers Begins

So, good news, everyone. I finished that book I was writing. Here are some obligatory celebration gifs:

cheer hooray happy excited celebration

excited seinfeld happy dance exciting celebrate

FOX International Channels reaction dancing happy simpsons

celebration will ferrell paul rudd steve carell anchorman

Alright. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. What’s the book about, you ask? Well here’s a synopsis I wrote in ninety seconds:


Fifteen year old Rosie is dead, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. She lives in an underground facility with the rest of the discovered mutants. It’s not so bad. She’s made herself a favorite of the man in charge, and hopes to take his place when he retires. Then she’ll be free to come and go whenever she pleases.

Nick Slater’s never heard of mutants. He’s just coasting by in a world with constant surveillance and a strict national curfew. He has no friends or self-confidence or any real aspirations, until a fight with another schoolmate opens up some unexpected opportunities.

Charles Nolan is a killer. A kidnapper, really, but in his case there’s not much of a difference. He gives each of his victims to his boss, and none of them ever make it out alive. When Nick ends up on his list of targets, the lives of these three strangers begin to intertwine. The results are world-changing.


(I’m really trying to figure out another way to end that summary besides, “The results are world-changing.” I almost went with catastrophic, but that doesn’t quite apply.)

A few other things about the book:

  • The Anomalies,” is the current title.
  • It’s the beginning of a trilogy, and I’m afraid it feels like too much of a “part one.” I know you’re generally supposed to pitch a book like this as “a stand-alone with series potential,” but that sounds like a lie in my case. We’ll see how it goes.
  • I’m never really sure what genre to label it as. It’s Young Adult, sure, but I don’t know if it’s Sci-fi or Fantasy, or Urban Fantasy, or a combination of them both. Or if it would be classified as Dystopian. I don’t know. I’ll figure it out some time soon.
  • Of course, I should probably make sure the book’s actually, y’know, good, before I start worrying about trying to get published.
  • It’s currently clocked in at at 81,000 words, which would be about 324 pages in paperback form. 
  • I’m also concerned that my characters aren’t interesting enough. think they’re interesting, but I’m biased. 
  • There is a lesbian character in this novel who wasn’t quite important enough to be mentioned in that synopsis above, but is nevertheless very important. (And only gets more important in the next two books.) So if there’s any LGBTQ+ beta readers out there who’d like to help make sure I don’t mess anything up, that would be great.
  • Edit: in retrospect, I should warn that the level of violence and profanity is kinda pushing it a bit for the YA genre. It’s never gratuitous, (IMO, at least) but yeah, it is there.

As you may have noticed, I’m a bit nervous to start sending a whole manuscript out to people, even though I shouldn’t be. After all, I sent the first three chapters of this out to Destructive Readers, a subreddit designed to mercilessly critique samples of your writing. These people did not hold back, and not once were my feelings hurt or my dreams crushed. I know I can handle criticism. I’ve just never had to deal with it on this large of a scale.

Anyway, I’m looking for beta readers. I’ll plan on looking at other sites for them too, but I figured I’d start here. And if anyone wants to send me their own manuscript, I’d be willing to swap critiques with them, too. (As long as it’s a reasonable length.) If you’re interested, please either comment below, or message me at mboyle988@gmail.com.

(Also, what’s the deal with Wattpad?)

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.)

Goals for Summer 2017

Intros are stupid. Lets get down to business:

1) Get a quality tan.

Yes, I know. I said this before. But this time I’m serious. Remember that time I got a sunburn in the middle of the winter thanks to the light from my bedroom window? Well I’m already starting to use that to my advantage. Plus I’ve been vacuuming the pool on a near daily basis, and I’ll be visiting the beach next weekend. So mark my words: by the end of this summer, people are going to be mistaking me for a giant leather glove. I guarantee it.

2) Finish writing that book

I’m not going to tell you what it’s about until I finish it, but rest assured, it’s the Next Great American Novel. Or more accurately, it’s the Next Great YA Trilogy. 

I know what you’re thinking: do we really need another YA trilogy?

The answer is yes. We need exactly one more.

3) Confront my inner demons

This is a hard one, but a must. 

4) Watch all the TV shows and movies

There are so many good shows out there that I need to catch up on. Orange is the New Black, Veep, Game of Thrones, Curb your Enthusiasm, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Mr. Robot, Doctor Who. And then there’s upcoming movies like Dunkirk, Spiderman: Homecoming, and uh, that’s kind of it. I’m excited for Stephen King’s It, but that won’t be until September.

I don’t know if anyone’s gone out and said this definitively, but yeah: television is better than movies. A TV is like a novel and movies are short stories. And sure, short stories are cool and everything, but War and Peace would not have been the classic it is today if it were written at forty pages. This is airtight logic I’m using here, so don’t bother questioning it.

Image result for view from drop of doom great adventure

5) Go to some sort of amusement park

Did I ever tell you about my field trip in senior year of high school? The one where a hundred students in my class went to Six Flags in New Jersey, and they closed the place at eight o’clock so that it was only us and a couple other schools in the park?

Well it was awesome. We went on every single roller coaster in the park, and the lines ranged from short to nonexistent. There wasn’t even a line for Kingda Ka, and there’s always a line for Kingda Ka. The best was going on El Toro not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, not five times, but six times in a row, because there was nobody else in line. 

I understand that unless I have enough money to close out the whole park, the lines are never going to be this short again. I’m going to actually have to wait, like some sort of peasant. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I just to want to go on another ride that’s high enough for me to see the curve of the earth.

6) Read more often

Not gonna lie, I have not been reading as much as I should’ve lately. I blame TV and movies, for being more immersive while also requiring less imagination. No wonder people are reading less. Look what books have to compete with! (Don’t click on that.)

7) Be better with money

I have a tendency to waste money on food, and while yes, I do need food to live, there are a lot of more cost-efficient ways for me to go about this. Like I could get into the habit of cooking at home, or I could start mooching off my parents more. Whichever’s easier.

I also waste money on non-food items, like that $99 premium option for WordPress that has yet to pay off. Or those walkie talkies that I haven’t even used. (“Just use your phone!”) So I’ll try my best to stick to a budget.

8) Continue resisting the urge to shoplift every time I’m stuck in a long line.

The other day I was at a store called Leslie’s Pool Supplies, buying a pair of goggles. There was only one cashier in the store, and after ten minutes of waiting, the line had barely moved an inch. I look at the exit and see there’s no anti-theft scanners by the exit, and I think to myself: I could totally get away with stealing these goggles. After all, I don’t see any cameras, and none of the other employees are paying attention. Plus it’s just a pair of goggles, costs $8.99. It’s a victimless crime!

But I did not shoplift that day. Because as I recall, one of the ten commandments states the following:

THALL SHALL NOT STEAL GOGGLES FROM LESLIE’S POOL SUPPLIES

I’m paraphrasing of course, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it said. I’m almost positive, in fact, that those were the exact words.

I’ve had this urge before, but I never followed through, and I hope to continue not-following through for the rest of my days. Unless I decide to become a gritty antihero. In that case I’ll be stealing all the goggles I can get my hands on. 

9) Get beta readers

By the end of the summer, at least, I should be getting some of these. I was hoping to have a finished book to send to people last year, but I’ll settle for this August. Hopefully late July.

Let’s just say, I’m a little nervous. I’ve had people critique my work before, but only short stories or individual chapters. I’ve never had a whole book — especially one as important to me as this one — be critiqued before, and I am concerned. I’ll do it, sure, but it’s going to be a very stressful process.

10) Have at least one of my preferred political candidates win an election

Excuse me if I sound bitter, but every single election I’ve paid attention to thus far has gone in the exact opposite direction I’d hoped. In 2008 I wanted McCain to win. In 2012 I wanted Romney to win. I actually started paying attention to politics around 2015 and in 2016 I rooted for Bernie. He lost. Then for Hillary, who lost.

I’ve since been paying attention to the smaller, special elections going on, like the one in Montana, where the Republican candidate assaulted a reporter the day before. I thought, “the guy committed a violent crime, on tape. Surely that’s a deal-breaker for most voters.”

But Montana has a tradition of early voting, so a good portion of the population voted before that whole shebang took place. As for the rest of them? Well, partisanship is strong. And body-slamming is pretty cool. I mean, look at this shit:

 wrestling aamir khan dangal body slam mahavir singh phogat GIF

(no but seriously, that whole thing was very depressing.)

Today, there’s a special election going on in Georgia, between Jon Ossoff (D) and Karen Handel (R). By the time this is published, the results may be available, but as of now I’m still waiting for results, and I’m really hoping Ossoff wins. Mainly because 1. the attack ads against him have been all kinds of messed up, 2. the democrats could really use a win right now, 3. I like his policies, and 4. I’m not a fan of Karen’s.

I know this race doesn’t affect me directly, and there’s nothing I can do to change the results, but I’m including it as one of my goals anyway because it feels important. Plus, I needed to finish this list with something, and this was the only thing my brain could think up. Go Ossoff!

______________

So what are your goals for this summer? Or are you a normal person who doesn’t have goals for arbitrary periods of time? Either way, feel free to comment below. 

Things I Kind of Want to Do, but Not Really

I have a lot of goals for my life, and I rarely get to see them accomplished because, well, they’re not very good goals. Recognizing the good ideas and the bad ideas is an important things to do, but sometimes I wonder if that’s just an excuse I use to not follow my dreams. Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. To start off, I kind of want to …

1) Give up soda.

I feel like a good indicator of how bad my acne is gonna be tomorrow is by the amount of soda I’ve drank (drunk? drunken?) in the past twenty-four hours. If I stay clear and stick to water? Dolphin-smooth skin, motherfuckers. If I cave and end up chugging a two liter bottle of Dr. Pepper? Well rest in peace skin, it was nice knowing you.

Plus, soda messes up your teeth, it leads to diabetes, alzheimer’s, and cancer. I think it’s safe to say that I would be a lot better off if I gave up soda.

So why I am not going to?

Because soda tastes like, really good. Okay? It’s bubbly, it soothes the stomach. It makes you burp, and if you hold in the burp it’ll go out your nose, and you’ll feel the CO2 from the soda travel through your sinuses. Not sure if this is good for you or not, but it feels cool.

Also, I must address this whole “soda is bad for your health” complaint with a follow up question. You know what else is bad for your health?

  • Heroin.
  • Meth
  • Crystal meth.
  • Bungee jumping without a cord.
  • Watching TV.
  • Sitting down for too long.
  • Standing up for too long.
  • Sleeping too much.
  • Sleeping too little.
  • Doing one handed pushups without ever switching to your other hand, because then all the muscle will be in one of your arms, which will cause you to constantly lean towards that arm as you walk, which leads to scoliosis, followed by paralysis and then death.

Compared to all this, soda doesn’t seem too bad. Besides, by the time I get diabetes, which I am, genetically speaking, bound to get anyway, those hardworking scientists will have already found a cure. So I should be fine.

2) Start a political blog.

I don’t know how it happened, but I am now one of those people who always wants to talk about politics. I have a lot of rants going on in the back of my head right now that I want to shout out into the void, and it would be cool to have a place where I could say them unabashedly, and hey, maybe someone will even people me to write this shit. I mean, I’m completely unqualified, but that hasn’t stopped anyone before.

So why won’t I?

Because every time I write something political, I always end up regretting part of it. Like that time I compared the 2016 election to a black guy being falsely charged with rape. Yes, I actually did that. Sure, I called myself out for it ahead of time, but I feel like someone definitely should’ve commented on that post and said, “hey, Matt. Knock it off.”

Oh well. I think I’ll only get political on this blog if it’s really important to me and I feel like no one else is talking about it. Or to unabashedly support Tammy Duckworth for president. (Hey, DNC chairpeople, you reading this? Do you want to get veterans to vote democrat? Because Tammy is your way to do that. She lost both her legs fighting for our country, while Trump weaseled out of Vietnam thanks to a stubbed toe. Think about the campaign ads you can make from that! They write themselves.)

3) Become an editor.

I’m talking about becoming the person who reads manuscripts and approves or disapproves them for a publishing company. (Is that called an editor? I’m gonna look into this more.) The way I see it, I’m literally being paid to read books for a living, which at the moment sounds like my ideal job.

So why won’t I?

To be honest, I may actually try to do this. I just got to look into it a little more, because I assume getting this job is a lot more difficult than I’m making it out to be. Plus, a lot of the manuscripts are going to be terrible. Though I suppose I could just stop reading if that’s the case. But what if there’s too many good ones, and I can’t accept all of them? And what if I end up rejecting the next Harry Potter and have to live with that lost opportunity for the rest of my life?

I suppose that’s a risk I’d have to take.


Now I’m sure if I were to think extra hard, I could come up with a fourth option to put on this post, but hey, good things come in threes. A post with four bullet points would be unbalanced and therefore, irresponsible. I suppose I could add a fifth point but I’m not exactly Einstein over here.

So if you know anything about becoming an editor, let me know. And if you want to pay me money to write about politics, let me know as well. And if you know of an alternative to soda that’s still bubbly and delicious, I would also be interested.

A Day in the Life of a College Freshman

Yeah, so I’ve done a few posts like this in the past, one in my junior year of high school and one in my senior, and I got to say, I think this is the most interesting one I’ve done yet. Mainly because it has foreshadowing in it, and also some seemingly unrelated events that come together in the end. Plus something happens to me that feels like it was taken straight out an episode of Seinfeld, so I hope you all enjoy.

(I also just want to clarify that a couple parts of this post (you’ll know it when you see it) are not things that happen to me regularly. So keep that in mind.)

7:30 AM 

I can’t keep hitting the snooze button these days because it annoys my roommate, so I get out of bed and make my way to the bathroom. I watch my step, just in case my alcoholic suitemate vomited on the floor again. He did not, which is a good omen. (“Today will be a good day!”)

7:45 AM

After brushing my teeth and taking a shower and getting dressed, I make the fifteen minute walk to my first class of the day. I would eat breakfast first, but the dining halls don’t open until eight o’clock, which is the same time my class starts. This seems like a rather large flaw in the dining hall system, but there’s not much I can do. Luckily my mom sent me a care package recently that included snack sized bags of trail mix, so I ate that on the way.

7:55 AM

I notice that my phone is only at around fifty percent battery, which is weird, because I could’ve sworn I’d left it plugged in at night. It’s still enough to get me through the most of the day, though, so I don’t think much of it.

8:00-9:30 AM

Differential Calculus. It’s a tough class, but someone’s gotta do it. It’s taught by a TA, who is always nervous, which is uncalled for because he’s teaching a subject that no one cares about. I try my best not to fall asleep.

9:40 AM

Sociology discussion class. I have to give a presentation today about the evolving workforce into today’s society, or something like that. (I kinda winged it.) The presentation was based around three questions that were supposed to be discussed amongst the class. But because it’s a Friday morning and no one actually seems to read the required text, not much discussion is had. That is, until the final one.

The final question I asked was “Is it okay for a company to breach a customer’s privacy, even if doing so will benefit both parties?” It was referencing the Amazon Echo, a device that may or may not be listening in on your conversations in order to sell you stuff. (It totally is.)

What followed was a surprisingly heated discussion between two/three guys who were complete pro privacy, against one girl who was like, “it’s not a big deal, guys. Relax.” I was mostly on the girl’s side until she started talking about how companies can’t invade your privacy unless you agree to the terms of service, because come on. Nobody reads the terms of service. Nobody. Anyone who claims to is a backstabbing liar.

10:40 AM 

I finally get to eat a proper breakfast. Pancakes, and scrambled eggs, and bacon! Nothing quite like bacon to put you in a good mood. Now, my next class is at 2:20, so I have two choices:

  1. I could go back to my dorm and get some sleep.
  2. I could go to the library and attempt to get shit done.

I choose #2, which would usually be the smart choice, the one my parents would approve of. But in this case it ends up screwing me over in a way that will be revealed soon.

1:30 PM 

I get some homework done, but it’s a Friday and the week’s almost over, so I’m not in much of a rush. I watch YouTube videos in the library, then I head back to the dining hall for some lunch. Now, here’s when something weird happens.

As I’m waiting in line for food, one of the cafeteria workers need to walk past me, and so I back up to get out of the way. In doing so, I accidentally step on the foot of the girl right behind me. “Sorry,” I say to her, and usually that would be the end of it.

But after I apologize and turn back around, I find myself wondering if I said “sorry” too quietly. The place is very crowded after all, and loud too, and I may have come off as more of a jerk than I actually am. After a minute or so, I turn back around, hoping that this is all in my head and that the girl behind me has already forgotten about it.

Yeah, no.

Instead she’s giving me the death stare, with her arms crossed, her nostrils flaring. To borrow a photo from one of my other posts, she looks like this:

I have no idea what to do. In the end I just turn back around, feeling her eyes on the back of my neck. I figure it’s too late to fix anything and the damage has already been done, so I get my food and get out of there fast.

2:20 PM

Chemistry. Generally speaking, this is not a fun class either, but I am sitting next to this girl from my high school, (let’s call her Jess) who’s a lot of fun to hang out with. She asks if I want to go to a frat party with her friends tonight, and I one-up her by asking is she wants to bring her friends to pre-game at my suite before going to said frat party. She says yes.

An explanation:

Pregaming is when you drink alcohol before attending an event or social function, so you’re already loosened up before you get there, and you don’t have to spend too much money on drinks. I’m not sure if this is specifically an American thing, but I feel like we’d be the only country where the teens are stupid to do this.

Two of my suitemates usually set up a game of beer pong around 8:30 on weekends, and I’m free to invite anyone I want to them. The more, the better.

Therefore, in this scenario: beer pong = pregame.

3:30 PM:

Classes are done for the day, and I head over to the marketplace for what is basically a second lunch. (Don’t judge me.) I make extra sure not to step on anyone’s foot this time.

4:00 – 7:30 PM

I’m back in the library, working on my novel. Will it ever get finished? The world could only hope. I do get a lot done today though, so that’s nice.

I also watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. I’ve only watched four episodes so far and I must say, I really identify with this Larry David guy. It’s like we’re the same person.

8:40 PM

I get back to my suite, and sure enough, the pregame is on tonight. I text Jess to make sure she knows which dorm I’m in, and in fifteen minutes I go downstairs to let her and her friends inside. Once they’re inside I quickly drop into my room to plug in my phone, which is now at only 10% battery.

Now kids, the problem with beer pong is that if you’re playing it by the rules and are actually drinking the alcohol, it’s very hard to keep track of how much you’ve had. And then if you pour hard liquor into the middle cup, as we did, you may find yourself getting drunk much faster than intended. So keep that in mind as you follow me along for the rest of the night.

11:15 PM

We end up going to the frat party, but first I go back into my room to pick up my phone, and what do you know? It hasn’t charged at all. In fact, it’s actually gone down to 8%.

Turns out, the extension cord I plugged my phone into was no longer connected to outlet in my wall, which explains why my phone wasn’t at 100% this morning and why it hasn’t charged at all today.

This is unfortunate, but I’m not going to let it ruin my night, so I put the phone on power saving mode and go out anyway, figuring “hey, I’m with my friends, nothing bad could happen to me.”

11:45 PM

I’m at the party, where I manage to bump into seemingly every single person I’ve ever talked to at the university. I’m bumping into people I haven’t seen in months, people I pass by in the halls, people I only met during orientation. It’s like my life in college is a TV show and tonight’s the finale, so all the minor characters are popping up for their last hurrah.

I took exactly three shots over the next hour or so, and I did the math in my head:

3 shots + ? = ??? drinks in one night.

1:00 AM (ish)

Jess and her friends ask if I want to leave and go to a bar. I let her know I don’t have a fake ID. She says it’s cool, because she knows one that doesn’t check them.

We go to bar #1, which as it turns out, actually does check IDs, so we are not allowed in. So we walk to another one, and wait in a long line. For this bar, I only have to give the bouncer five bucks to get inside. I reach into my pocket, then check my other one, and oh shit I lost my wallet.

Yep, it’s gone. Where did it go? Well it somehow ended up on the floor at the frat house, getting stepped on repeatedly, long into the night. It was returned to me the next day with everything still in it, but as far as I know, it’s gone forever.

But no worries, Jess agree to lend me five bucks, and we’re allowed in.

1:20 AM

Gotta say, bars suck. I thought the frat party was loud and crowded, but in this bar you literally can’t move an inch without bumping into someone. People buy fake IDs and risk getting arrested for this? Makes zero sense. I get separated from the group, and after getting suffocated for at least fifteen minutes, I decide I’ve had enough and I make my way outside.

The journey back outside is a long and arduous one. I don’t know what “arduous” means but it sounds like an appropriate word in this context. I’m moving about five feet per minute because there are just so many people in the way. When I get out I take a deep breath of the cool, crisp air. Thank God I’m out of there.

I take out my phone to text Jess and let her know where I went, only to find out that that eight percent battery has gone down much faster than expected.

So now I have a dead phone, and no wallet, and I’m drunker than the average man. I’m also in the middle of a city I don’t really know, and it’s the middle of the night. Most of the people walking past me are college kids travelling in packs, but I see one girl by herself and I ask her if I could use her phone. I’m quickly explaining my situation to her, but I stop in my tracks once I get a closer look.

She recognizes me just as I recognize her. “Wait a minute,” she says. “Aren’t you the guy who stomped on my foot this morning?”

Gotta say, this is surprising. There’s at least thirteen thousand students at my school so I’d honestly never expected to see this girl again, and certainly not this soon. My gut reaction was to go on the defensive, which may not have the best decision. “Well I didn’t exactly stomp on it. It was an accident.”

Bruised Foot Girl, however, was not having any of this. “Do you have any idea how painful that was? I could barely walk afterwards!”

“Oh, come on.”

“Would you like to see the bruises?” She bends over, threatening to take off her shoe for me. “You basically squashed all the toes on my right foot.”

At this point, we’re both raising our voices at each other and making a scene; I’m getting all angry and flustered. “Look, I didn’t mean to, alright? I did apologize —”

“Oh yeah, thanks for saying sorry, it really helped with the healing.”

“Well what do you what me to do about it? It was a crowded room, you were standing right behind me—”

“Oh, so it was my fault?”

“What? No. It wasn’t—”

“I’m so sorry for standing in line behind you, sir. It won’t happen again.”

“Okay look,” I say, calming myself down. “I’m sorry I stepped on you, I felt bad about it and I didn’t know what to do at the time. I lost my wallet and my phone’s dead, so I could really use some help right now.”

Unfortunately, the girl is not in a charitable mood. As she storms away down the street she yells at me, “Maybe watch your step next time, asshole!”

1:45 AM

Yeah, so that happened. I end up asking someone else for their phone, and they’re a lot nicer about it.

After about ten minutes of sitting outside, Jess and friends get out of the bar, and we take a cab back to campus. I decide not to mention my run-in with the Bruised Foot Girl, because I’m not sure which of us was the jerk in that situation. (Was it me? I feel like it was me.)

2:05 AM

We’re dropped off near one of the dining halls, the one that’s open til 4 AM on the weekends. I don’t have my wallet, of course, so I just get a cup of water, chugging two cups in less than a minute. Turns out, I was a lot more dehydrated than I thought.

2:25 AM

I call it a night. I’ve already lost my wallet and gotten yelled at, and I feel like if I keep going, only worse things will happen.

2:35 AM

I am back in bed. It’s nice and cozy.


If there’s a lesson to this post, it’s that bars aren’t fun and people hold grudges. Also, if you plug your phone into an extension cord, make sure said extension cord is properly plugged into the wall, before you leave it unattended for over an hour.

It’s been a long weekend, guys. Thanks for reading.

Young Adult Tropes I’m Actually Okay With

People like to bash on the YA genre, and for good reason. I mean, have you read Twilight? I haven’t, but I heard it’s awful.

There’s been a lot of criticisms of the genre that I agree with — the overemphasis on love triangles, the dark and brooding love interests, the Chosen One prophesies — but there are a couple common complaints that I can’t help but feel aren’t actually bad ideas. Such as:

Image result for why you little

1) The Bad/Absentee Parents Trope

“Why can’t we have good, normal, loving parents for once?” people say. “Parents who aren’t dead or abusive or mysteriously disappeared?”

To which I respond: “Now how is that interesting?”

When Harry Potter was battling dementors in The Order of Phoenix, not once did I think to myself, “Man, I really wish his parents were here to sort this all out for him.” Not once throughout Eleanor and Park did I think, “this would be so much more exciting if Eleanor’s stepdad was not an abusive, misogynist jerk.” And yes, I am simplifying the argument for the sake of comedy, but hear me out:

I don’t want to read about normal parents, especially in a fantasy/sci-fi novel. I mean, have you met most parents? They nag. They worry. When I tell them I’m going out in the middle of the night to investigate the nearby haunted house where that one girl was found murdered by a mysterious unnamed entity, they’re never okay with it. Whenever I read a story with normal parents, I always find those scenes — you know, the scenes where’s there’s that inevitable conflict between the parents’ concerns and what the main character knows is right — to be such a drag on the story. I just want to skip over it and get to the good stuff.

And there’s a reason this trope is so popular to begin with. Teenagers don’t like their parents. Sure, they love them, but only because they have to, and they certainly don’t want to spend more time with them than absolutely necessary. (Note: cases may vary.) And whether wrongly or not, by the time a kid gets into their teen years, they start to see their parents more as obstacles to get around, rather than the larger-than-life role models they used to be. When I was a young, angsty fifteen year old, (as opposed to the strong, knowledgeable eighteen year old I am now), I identified with stories where the parents were antagonists, because that’s how I saw myself.

2) Insta-Love

“Sup girl,” said Devin Devinsky, sitting on his totally bitchin’ leather motorcycle. “Wanna make out?”
Lisa felt a flutter in her chest. Was this love?

I used to hate this trope, but then it happened to me in real life, so now I’m more forgiving. The heart wants what it wants, people, and sometimes it wants a douchey guy on a motorcycle.

The key, in my humble-as-fuck opinion, is that the Insta-Love has to be forbidden in some way or another. Like if one of them is engaged to someone else, of if it’s an LGBT relationship in a non-LGBT+ friendly environment, or why not both?

Lisa was engaged to that douchey guy on the motorcycle when she met Ruth, a douchey girl on a motorcycle. “Sup,” said Ruth.

Lisa felt a flutter in her chest. Was this love? But … she had never felt that way about a girl before, and yet this was stronger and more passionate than anything she had felt for her fiance. But her wedding was next month! Did I mention this takes place in the 1950s? Plus she had a bomb strapped to her chest that would explode if she left Devin, so that’s another source of conflict right there.

I’d read this story. Presumably it ends with Lisa and Ruth shooting their way out of a courthouse and stabbing Devin Devinsky with the American flag, like this. (Just replace Mel Gibson with Lisa and Homer with Ruth, and it’ll be a perfect representation of how I imagine this story to end.)

3) School is Seemingly Nonexistent.

I feel like every time there’s a YA book set during the school year, people complain that none of the main characters ever have to study or deal with homework. This complaint has never resonated with me, for a few reasons:

First off, this complaint always seems to be made by straight A students, students who take AP classes and actually open the textbooks to study. And good for them and all, but this does not represent the majority of students, or at least those in the U.S. public school system. You know how many times I studied in high school for more than twenty minutes, outside of finals? Literally not once, and I was one of the good students. I was taking the hard classes. The normal students taking the normal classes always seemed to have free time, and they never seemed to be doing any work outside of school. And when I think back to my high school years, I rarely think about all the assignments I had to do, because those aren’t interesting. One of the big rules of writing is to skip the boring stuff, and Rosey Evergreen’s trigonometry homework is included in that category.

And secondly, if my love interest died in a car accident, or if I discovered I was the chosen one in a world that I never knew existed, I would immediately stop caring about high school. Compared to fighting the Dark Lord, or stopping a vampire from killing all your friends, or any of the other crazy plots from so many YA novels, high school does not matter

(But seriously, stay in school, kids.)


And that’s all for me. I could only think of three things, because my noggin’s been a bit wobbly as of late. If you agree, feel free to comment below, and if you disagree: get lost, you filthy commie!

But for real, comment below. I’d appreciate it.