Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Write Sequels Years and Years Later

So late last week, I discovered that The Giver, one of my very favorite childhood books that introduced me (and probably a lot of my contemporaries) to distopia in fiction (and probably banned books), was not, as I previously thought, a stand-alone epic amazing book, but part one of a quartet. Yes, FOUR books, people.

Original cover art- this is the book I remember reading

I had read the follow-up, Gathering Blue, just after or during the end of college, and really liked it as what I thought then was a companion book. But it was a completely different setting, and while it had similar themes, the two would never work together to create a cohesive collection. OR SO I THOUGHT.

Y'all, Lois Lowry is a genius of YA fiction. She wrote two more books, Messenger and Son that tie abso-frickin-lutely everything together in a nice, tidy THING called a story/plotline/character arc. And holy flipping everything. Plus the cover art is really interesting.

Especially amazing given the Forest themes.  This is what you miss out on when you need the Kindle version RIGHT NOW.

Messenger is just stunning because it's clearly the sequel to Gathering Blue. So you're reading and you already recognize the main characters and you're thinking, "Nicely done, Lowry. This is cute." The she throws you the bone that everyone who ever read The Giver and also had a scrap of imagination ever has wondered about their entire childhood/adolescence/young adulthood. What the freak happened to Jonas? Found him, folks! Messenger also continues introducing sliiightly more adult themes. We all know Lois Lowry does YA fiction and that's what she does. But similar to everyone's favorite Harry Potter author, she had to have realized that her audience is a lot older now.

And then came Son. Holy everything. Hold the frickin' phone. The entire series backtracks to the original Giver story and starts over from an unexpected perspective. It's done really super well. It changes your entire perspective on The Giver. It makes you run back to reference The Giver. Multiple times. Shock. Awe. Awe of the story as well as the skills of the writer.

So thanks for the master class, Lowry. 'preciate it.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Most Magical Night of My Year

In true fashion of like attracting like, my writerly mind has forced me to get writerly friends over the years. These are people that I can debate the merits and disappointments of Gatsby, Shakespeare, trendy books, classics, Greek lit, and anything else over the gamut of the books that plop themselves in my path and refuse to move until I've turned every page.

But Shakespeare.

Hardly any people in my circles or experience have a very polarized reaction to Shakespeare. There are parties in the camps of either it's something "so flipping boring that it will never be worth the time" (I'll place equal blame on these people as high school students AND their teachers for that one) or it's "pure magic." But mostly when Shakespeare comes up, the answer is one big "Meh." No enthusiasm. Maybe one or two plays that are awesome reads (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth... anyone else coming up with Shakespeare they've sat down to read voluntarily?).

But there's a piece missing here.

Shakespeare is pure, unadulterated  magic. Period. One day every summer, I get an especially enchanting Shakespeare treat. It has never failed to be a perfect day. It starts with getting ready and being fancy- dresses, skirts, heels (never a great choice, later), curling or straightening or otherwise heat-torturing of hair, fun jewelry, too much make-up. It progresses to a short drive to meet someone whose brain, I swear, mirrors my own. The evening starts with sandwiches. The food never matters but to act as details that I can start the retelling of the night in my head later, details that let me stretch out the wonder that is yet to come. One more short drive. Then it begins to happen.

The drive is always made at dusk or just before. We know to get there early. We pass through iron gates and by a mansion. We smuggle unopened bottles of wine and large cups in our large purses through the gates, smiling sweetly as a plastic wristband grants us admittance. "Bags will be checked" we scoff (as I sweat bullets). We walk a short path. We turn a rounded corner past a glass house adorned with colored glass butterflies. "Those are new," we remark. Every year as we round that corner, my mouth drops open. It looks almost exactly the same every time, but that has not yet failed to elicit the exact same reaction from me. The grass and trees are green. The small pond is murky. The curved bridge over the pond is a brownish red. And small, twinkling lights highlight each of those colors, combine the various textures, and throw back an image powered by my childhood wishes. Glassy water, rough wood, springy grass, all making themselves known to me at a glance. "Fairy lights," we breathe. And just beyond that bridge? A stage. Green and charcoal chairs. We float across the bridge, take our programs from a smiling employee, and find front row seats.

After a quick prance into the surrounding woods to open our wine and check out the newest art installments, we make it back to our chairs just in time for the green show. If this post is a contest to see how many times I can use the word "magic," the green show is one to see how many times the word "Huzzah!" can be uttered or cheered. The answer is surprisingly many. We sip wine, sweat, and watch this transition to a Shakespearean show. Swordplay. Dancing. Ballads and bawdy songs. Gowns, breeches, and leather boots that I covet (even on the men). "Previews" of other Shakespeare plays- Hamlet done in a minute and a half, with Hamlet's father's ghost played by an actor in a white bedsheet. Romeo and Juliet told in ten minutes with West Side Story-style dancing in place of duels and a quiet "Mar-i-a" sung every time Juliet appears onstage. We laugh until our sides hurt, amused that someone else finds this funny. The audience laughs behind us. And then, there is just one more announcement about "non-Shakespearean devices" and the play begins.

There is something to be said for Shakespeare done well. When someone is on a stage in front of me dressed in knee-high leather boots, velvet breeches, and a tunic yelling "I bite my thumb at you, sir!", I am hanging in suspense to hear the retort. When Prospero brandishes his knife in preparation to remove a pound of Antonio's flesh, I notice that I am sitting as far forward in my seat as possible so as not to miss a moment. I look around and notice the same from my companions in the audience. When Portia is mocking and yelling as Bassanio about THE RING, I am laughing so hard I gasp for breath.

As much as I feel like a snob for talking about Shakespeare "done well," there is a monumental difference in watching a performance where actors stutter through the lines and place no emphasis or inflection to help the audience understand what is important or funny. That is hard, painful, and at its worst, boring. Watching a group of impassioned actors who really understand the content of the play perform it in a way that is accessible helps me to understand (all over again every year) that Shakespeare is viable and important, and still relevant in this day.

I laugh and gasp and am immersed in a story much more complex than my brain could devise. I fall in love with characters. On the drive home, we will murmur to each other, "Why can't men really talk like that? I want to hear why I'm like the moon." And that's the best part of Shakespeare for me. For a short time, I can hear men tell women why they're like the moon, and remember what romance was like long before I ever decided I desired it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Puppy Dog Tears

So here I am, approximately one month later and still on day... 6 of my book challenge. The funny thing is that I have known what this post would be about for a very long time. I will keep at this at my own pace and see how frequently I blog.

My book challenge asks me for a book that makes me cry. When thinking about the books that inevitably make me tear up (no matter how many times I read them), I noticed a pattern. Let's see if you do, too.

The Walking Chaos series is young adult fiction. And every now and then (or sometimes obsessively for a month), that's all I want and need to read. I find them to be imaginative and easy to understand. They are, in fact, a relief sometimes. I especially love distopias- The Hunger Games, the Divergent trilogy, The Uglies, Percy Jackson and the Olympians. My Kindle is chock full of them. The best part is that because YA lit is intended for younger audiences, the pace is consistently fast, and the worlds are broken down to be easily understood. 

They have several things in common. Factions. Districts. Pretties. All of these books divide the population somehow into labels that are more or less tangible and easy to understand. All of them have some critique on society today that you don't have to go hunting very hard to find thematically. All of them also pack the punch of themes that teens honestly must be getting sick of by now. Be Yourself. Be a good friend.  Stand up for yourself. Accept your body.

By taking the reader out of today's actual world and plopping them into District 12 of Panem, the values that make a good person are no different than here. But they can seem to be. It's all part of the mystique.

So YA books are a good way to unwind, enjoy some coming-of-age adventure, G-rated romance, and good old accept-yourself themes. Sounds relaxing, right?

Wrong. Every once in awhile, one of these books throws in a heart-wrenching or extremely violent scene. It actually surprises me that they get away with it. But usually there is some restraint shown. A girl is terrifyingly attacked, but gets away. Children die, but the object of the game is to kill each other, so everyone's dying. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go got me. It sneaked up on me with a threatening situation that had the potential to be violent. He's such a good dog, I thought. He'll get away. Nope. It broke me. It profoundly shook me up to the point that after reading the entire scene and being shocked, reading it again for clarity, I had to close the book and do something else for a time because I was so upset. Visibly upset. Crying. Books don't really do that to me, guys.

It made me most remember one of the first books that made me love reading. I read it in fourth grade with my AT class, and I remember reading ahead because I was so invested. I remember our teacher reading it to us. I remember how sad I was when Old Dan and Little Ann died.

Yup. Dogs. When they die in books, I completely lose it. It's one of my literary achilles heels. I don't think anything can unravel me faster. I think especially in YA books, pets are either the main character's only friends or best friends. It's a very effective tool because it draws on a relationship that people can identify with. Much of iconic American culture pictures people with their pets. Man's best friend. The nuclear family. Always happy to see you. Loves you even when you're bad to them or too busy for them. Loyal to the death. Saves Timmy from falling down the well. Saint Bernards rescuing people in avalanches. DOgs swimming (because aww). Puppies.

I own a dog myself and know the many qualities that must be SO EASY, the low-hanging fruit, for authors to grab onto and pour into these books. When I see how much my two-year old lab/shepherd/question mark dog ADORES my husband, I want to write it myself. The smiling eyes, parking themselves RIGHT in front of their "person" or "master." I could go on.

But it does beg the question. In the Walking Chaos series, and many other books and series, people die. I don't bat an eye. I keep right on reading. I may even chuckle to myself or feel a sense of justice and excitement. I mean, Hunger Games, people. I loved it. I'll be the first to admit it. But by writing a book that glorifies children killing each other via a reality tv show, and then watching that book be consumed just as greedily as the fictional Capitol citizens watch the show. It asks for a moment of (slightly meta or inceptive) reflection. 

I mean honestly, I know I'm not just as bloodthirsty as the fictional bad guys, because I know what I'm reading is fiction. But what if it was real? Would I watch? Before I say no, I have to take a hard look at myself and realize that shows like Hell's Kitchen, Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, The Choice... they're very popular. And they thrive on what comes close to verbal, emotional abuse. There's even an episode of the very popular Game of Thrones that has been said to be a trigger for some because it displays some very brutal physical violence and physical abuse.

Where's the humanity?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Neurotic Nation

I was not a Prozac Nation college student, but the "culture of silence" described here is SPOT-on. Pressure on students now begins as early as preschool in our ever-more-competitive society.

This has many gains, but I think it's garnering more problems as well. If we have the ability to have the best of everything because of competition, but are too stressed and anxious to enjoy it (because of competition), do the two cancel each other out?

I'd almost prefer not knowing there's lead in the paint!

The thing is, there were times in college (and after college, and last year, and so on) that it might have been a good idea for me to be taking some sort of anti-anxiety medication or at least an anti-depressant. But due to this crushing (really) pressure that I impose upon myself, I never gave it much thought. It was a possibility that got tossed around in my head. But there was never a moment when I thought, "Yes. I need to pull the trigger here because I REALLY need help, and I don't think I should have to suffer."

It's not only the self-denial/independent streak in me that won't/wouldn't accept help, it's the thought too, that because everyone I know has a perfect life, and I am pretending to have a perfect life (those things can't be related), that I a) have no concrete example of what it means to be "sick enough" to need to get help and b) don't want to give up the illusion (to myself more than anyone, I think) that I am ok.

Now, this was designed to be a blog about reading and writing. And we'll get back to that (I have PLENTY more books to talk about!). But I believe that the more good content you consume, the better informed you are. And when articles like this strike a chord in me, I'm going to share. Because as long as this article is (I knowww), it's worth reading if you have had an inkling that hey, all this talking in my head that I do? All this self-doubt? All those days when I honestly didn't think I could get out of bed and wasn't sure why? That time I cried myself to sleep because I dropped my books down the stairs? One of those might be your warning indicator that you "qualify," that you are "allowed" to get yourself help. There's no reason to suffer.

In the article, another reference is made. "Julia Lurie described her college as a place in which emotional problems were both ubiquitous and unmentionable. She wrote of working hard to make herself resemble the Yale ideal, someone academically top-notch but also popular, socially engaged, worldly, ambitious, involved in unique extracurriculars—and most important of all, appearing to fill these roles without effort. Outwardly, she had succeeded. But how surprised her classmates would be, she wrote, if they could see her private self, the girl who "takes her Zoloft and a sleeping pill" each night, then "writhes in hot, silent tears, white-knuckled, feeling like she could scream." 

This is a real thing. This is something of importance, that even though we are a highly-functioning society, full of people who will claw their own eyes out to get ahead, we are also an extremely neurotic society. And we hide it. We hide it very, very well. Anything less than perfectly stable mental health is seen as a stigma, something to be hidden from friends, family, employers, and strangers on the street. What if we treated cancer this way? What if we treated migraines and the flu, and food poisoning, and every other random-ass sickness as something to be shameful of and hidden?

Competition. It's great. But I think it's driving us insane.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Smashed and Loose

So Day 5 of the Book Challenge asks me to share a non-fiction book that I "actually enjoyed." Don't make me laugh, challenge. After graduation, I read almost exclusively memoirs, all but one of which I enjoyed immensely. Most of them were grit, based on things that are not usually nice to talk about. Similar to the reason I love Chuck Palahniuk, things that seem dark, disgusting, or irreputable take on a different sheen and cast when spoken of well. The right words shine light on the bits of motivation and intention on things that seem unimaginable and incomprehensible.

The kick-off to these memoirs for me was one written by a very favorite professor of mine, but he will have his own post and his own day. But after having him as a professor, and then reading his book, I finally understood the notion of the author reading to me- I could hear him telling me his stories. Memoirs took on a new fascination for me when I realized that if I was an attentive enough reader, I could pick out the voices of any author from the pages of what I was reading. I just had to try very hard, or stop trying too hard, and sink into the words.

The memoirs I read right after graduating college negate what I said about happy childhoods. They were mostly about girls who had an addiction or disorder: anorexia; alcoholism; the choices were endless. Some were screwed up by their parents, while others did it all on their own. All of them had one thing in common- they pulled themselves up to overcome, or at least battle what ailed them, and in doing so found strength enough to write about it. I admired these girls, these women. I admired them for being bold enough to write the deepest secrets of their hearts, something I played at in college, but never truly touched.

One such memoir for me was Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood. This book is incredible. The voice is compelling. The story is heartbreaking. Is there more that needs to be said?

Another favorite was Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity. Are you getting the picture? These books,these stories of girls completely out of control gave me some sort of control over my own life, which felt like it was in turmoil. I wanted to be out of control; I was afraid I was out of control. I discovered that in comparison, of course, I was not. I still don't know if that was a disappointment. I haven't had the heart to do the soul-searching required to discover that.

These stories can be seen as toeing a thin line between exploitation and self-truth. Because, as we know, nothing draws an audience like a trainwreck. These are our tabloids, our 72-hour celebrity marriages and our realistic zombie apocalypse theories.  The rubber-neckers of the literary world are dying to read these stories. But does that give them less merit? We love to watch other people fall apart, because it means we in comparison are living safe, sane lives. We have self-control because we aren't out binge-drinking every night of the week and showing up at work hammered, if we show up at all. We aren't living lives of quiet desperation because we have 401ks or 403bs or IRAs that we put money into so we don't end up homeless living in our cars. We would never do something as stupid and foolish as these girls did, because we aren't anything alike.

But one thing always hits home with me when I read these memoirs. I identify with them. Sometimes almost completely.I understand their vulnerabilities and their fears because I have them, too. One wrote such an amazing description of a panic attack that I almost burst into tears because that's exactly what my senior  year of college felt like. I've felt like them. And therein is the crux. I have been these girls to a lesser extent. I have been almost as out of control, as neurotic, as jealous, as scared, as anxious, as bat-shit crazy. But I haven't run my own life as perilously close to running off the rails. Yet. So is it just a waiting game?

Memoirs have power over me, because if I read patiently and carefully enough, if I wait and let the words all sink into my soul one by one like pasta softening in boiling water, I can immerse myself into the story. And escape. And see the warning signs. And laugh because otherwise I'd cry.

So read a memoir. Learn something new about yourself by looking into that literary funhouse mirror.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Challenge: Day 4

A book that reminds me of home? That is really, really hard. The small town I come from is fairly conservative, and a combination of town kids and wilderness kids. But no one every cared about that. My friends came from all walks of life even then. We'd either set a bunch of wooden pallets on fire (which boys would inevitably try to walk on- oh, high school), or get coffee at the mall, depending on who I chose to spend my weekend with.

BUT. I do remember a book from my childhood (amazon says 1998) about a girl who was so shy that she retreated into the walls of her family home and lived there, reading and sewing, distancing herself from the outside world.

The premise was always VERY appealing to me, and I remember thinking of ways to slip behind the walls of the century home I grew up in as a child, finding a squishy armchair and a lamp to make a little hidey-hole for me to sit and read and write in peace.

Instead I had a little brother and a VERY hands-on mom, so we crafted, and baked things that tasted SO good, and got glitter on everything sometimes if we weren't careful, and climbed trees outside, and built snowmen, and played dress-up, and caught fireflies, and dug holes in the backyard where Dad said we could, and made friends with the neighbors, and forgot to close the gate in the backyard if we were in a hurry, and played the "don't touch the floor because it's lava" game in the living room, and used our imaginations that way. Until bedtime, when I could read some more.

I had a magical childhood.

My first friends were my neighbors. I was incredibly fortunate to grow up sandwiched between two houses who had girls exactly my age, and a boy across the backyard and down the street a ways as well. The two girls who were my "backyard neighbors" were older, but were part of that circle. And the girls and boy my age had siblings, too. Older and younger. So there were boys and girls for me to look up to, built in best friends, and younger children to mentor (torment).

Most magical of all (to tell it now, anyway- then it was second nature and unremarkable), was the tiny creek that ran through my backyard right at the property line. We had a gate that latched, and separated my yard from my backyard neighbors' yard. Jewel weed grew back there, which we would rub on mosquito bites (although the jury is still our if it worked), along with mint leaves (spearmint?) that my mother showed me how to steep to make tea. But instead of crossing the creek, if you turned left after going through the gate, and walked along the bank of the creek for three or four houses, you came to a bridge. 

This is not even Terabithia nonsense (no harm meant, it was a great YA book. Bu this bridge was very real, and existed long before I knew of such places as Terabithia and Narnia). The bridge crossed the creek, and led to a neighbor's house. The boy was my age, with a younger sister and an older brother (who would later become a football star every girl in my grade idolized in high school), and if we weren't playing in my yard on a summer day, we were playing in theirs.

Baseball ("Mom!" my younger brother would announce upon coming home, "They let me be all-time catcher!"), football, all kinds of tag and hide and go seek. The yard was huge, with a red barn-like shed (red with white trim in a small X across the door) to hide behind and long-needled pine trees in the side yard to breathe in deeply when you wanted to think, and chives growing in the garden next to the flowers (once my neighbor's mother showed me you could eat them, my breath was never fresh again). In my own backyard, we'd play tagging bases (which I couldn't explain to you now if you wanted me to), more baseball, simple catch, and versions of Red Light, Green Light (something to do with a Mr. Fox, a game called Easter Eggs which seemed to have no object but to make my brother lose, other number-and-color-based games) in the front yard with the rough stone porch steps as "home base."

Often times, truly great writers have troubled childhoods: broken homes; adversity at school or in the community; illicit love affairs; sexual or emotional abuse as a small child. My childhood was magical, untouched by trouble beyond the fact that one of my neighbor friends wasn't allowed out to play, or the time someone's grandmother made us drink the ENTIRE glasses of chocolate milk that we had mixed ourselves, greedy with the sneaky freedom to use as much Nesquik (or maybe Ovaltine?) as we wished with no parents present (believe me... it was gross. Well beyond the saturation point of extra-chocolately chocolate milk).

My first friends occupy a very treasured and until now, secret, place in my heart. We truly had halcyon days of love and laughter, which I think is so rare, and a kind of magic. We recently had a meet-up to watch one of the older boy's bands perform locally. He is an immensely talented guitar player (which I do not say very often given my college experience), and the band is SO CLOSE to really making it big. It's another reason I have a lot of hometown pride (and boy, do I have a lot of reasons). But one thing I noticed, as we watched him perform, one of my first big brothers, was that we all acted reverently toward one another. It was immensely touching. 

My very first best friend, who grew up next door, whose mother made us matching outfits, who my mother used to babysit, whose brother was killing it onstage with his guitar and his band, moved to New Mexico after college. I hadn't seen her in probably six years. We saw each other across the room. We waved hello. We met halfway and hugged. Then, as I stepped back, I paused, to drink in everything about her physical appearance and spirit. It sounds so silly, but for a prolonged moment, we just stared at each other with silly grins on our faces. She was like my sister from the time we were toddlers, and something from that upbringing keeps the stuff we are made of similar enough that I believe we are always connected. It was much the same with the rest of the "kids from the block." 

I believe writers can come from all backgrounds, and that happy childhoods can make for good stories.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Challenge: Day 3

Day three, you ask? Here's the thing. Day 2 asked about my least favorite book. What's the point of blasting Twilight again and again? And books put breath into me; I dislike having to come up with reasons to dislike and discourage reading. I think there is enough of that. Furthermore, I think the Twilight series was addicting, much as I call it my least favorite. I just found absolutely no literary merit to it. Which is fine for people who want a teen romance. I half-heartedly expected more, and it didn't deliver.

Day Three of the challenge asked about a book that surprised me, good or bad. And here is where I feel I commit a cardinal literary sin. There's also a good chance I'll go to English Library American Literature Writer hell for this. I didn't like Gatsby. Cat's out of the bag.

It simply has never been a book that held such wonder for me as I know it has for many of my contemporaries.

I've never found myself fully engaged with the story for some reason. I revere it as a literary work because I feel it should be respected as a great American classic... but can't give myself any good reasons why it *is* an American classic.

I have a sneaking suspicion that part of this is because I was never required to read this in high school. I had fantastic teachers who made me love a lot of books that I might otherwise have skipped (hello, Lonesome Dove, Les Miserables, Once and Future King), but The Great Gatsby never made the list, so I've never attempted to read it while really looking for literary devices and themes, only for my own enjoyment.

I love the cover art, I love the 8 bit computer game, I love the idea of it, and I love the party scenes. I just could never sink into the story, either bit by bit or headfirst immersion(two main tacks when reading- the author either engrosses you a bit at a time, so you love a character's personality or sensibility, or actions and words, one after another like dominos some portion of the book wins you over until you realize you're thoroughly engrossed and in love; OR from the very first sentence, you are completely ready to buy into whatever the author tells you and absolutely in love and invested in the characters, world, and literary tone you are plunked down into). 

It always felt like a shortcoming, a failure to me as a reader and even as a writer, to admit this(even to myself). I have a very close friend who LOVES Gatsby, and I think a good portion of that is because she teaches it. When she speaks about it, I get insanely jealous. She has a handle on something I can't comprehend. She has a deep, passionate literary love for a book I can't get 50 pages into without losing the thread of the story and feeling lost.

Gatsby is a book where I feel downright DUMB as a reader because I never get the magic out of it that everyone else seems to. Part of me should relish that, challenge it, and overcome it. I've been reading at a college level since middle school. Books have been my life. 

In seventh grade, I would read at the lunch table, and the girls I sat with would pilfer pieces of my lunch from under the book I had my nose in to see if I'd notice. It became a party trick of mine, peripheral vision. I can still see the Ziploc baggie of carrots sliding out of my field of vision as I tried to concentrate on whatever Mary Higgins Clark's protagonist was figuring out in the murder of her husband. I will never forget the last few Chips Ahoy cookies from the package, still on the plastic sleeve of the container, slowly being helped from my brown lunch bag to the other side of the table while I tried to get a grasp on The Color Purple, which my librarian mother had to sign a permission slip to allow me to read. As if anyone could have stopped me.  

So while I have spent plenty of time feeling isolated from my peers socially, I have never felt an outsider in the classroom (unless you count calculus. Ugh). I have never failed to grasp the wonder that was either dangled in front of me or spoon-fed to me as a student or an independent reader. Until Gatsby. Only Gatsby. And I don't have a solution for this one. Unless my favorite high school English teachers who love Fitzgerald and Gatsby's world want to sit me down and spoon-feed me themes and give me homework until it clicks and I understand.

Talk about white whales...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Challenge: Day 1

I neglected blogging. Since SEPTEMBER. I need to remember that I started this to get back into writing and that I owe it to myself. 

I owe at least the act of sitting and writing  and doing nothing else but thinking and calming myself and feeding the writer who wants to evolve, feeding the narrator in my head who is begging to be let out and play. So here's my new plan. 

I unofficially stared posting a book a day on my facebook account, and I figured what better way to produce content for my blog? Ugh, a blogger talking about her blog. BORING. Books, please!

Day 1: Favorite book: This is hard for me. You see, books consume a LARGE portion of who I am. Reading is who I am. It's the one sure-fire proven, tried and true way to calm my jangled nerves and make me focus. I take a lunch break every day at work so I can go for a short walk and sit and read in the sunshine.

If I had to pick a favorite book of the moment (because I maybe read close to a hundred a year- I must start keeping track), it would probably be Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente. 

Here's the thing. Deathless is everything I loved in Candide and The Alchemist, but based on a Russian folktale, where the girls are always named Yelena, Death and Life are always in a war, and a girl named Marya Morevna, who sees men as birds before they change into men, will break tradition, live amongst fantastic creatures, experience love and loss in a changing Russia.

I am not good at summarizing, but reading Deathless- the love story within the complicated sentence structure and beautiful language, with Russian folklore folded in so carefully with a heavy hand- it reminded me of the great love stories of my own life. It awakened my own imagination, and was the most unique book that I read last year. Hands down.

So Deathless is my favorite book of the moment. It has everything I subconsciously look for in a modern classic, with a touch of the magic that my inner child is sure exists.

So a few days behind my Facebook journey, I will start my blog again. Because I am worth it. And I have to make myself believe it before anyone else will.