Ya’ll, I’m a writer.

I got some really epic news today: I’m getting a book published.

It’s not the traditional way, but I have 100% agency over it, and I’m 100% okay with that.

It’s a book I’ve been through the gauntlet with: I sent query letters out to 75 agents in the span of 9 months and got nothing back (besides a few well meaning rejections). It was my very first NaNoWriMo novel, and I’ve been rather attached to it. I put it aside for a time and have been editing it, working through all the things I messed up.

And when you take a leap of faith, sometimes you’re rewarded in some amazing ways.

So I’ll be on Channillo, a place where writers write and readers read. I have a more political thought essay collection there too, called Coffee and Criticisms, which you’re more than welcome to also check out!

So about this book!

The Queen of Souls

It’s called The Queen of Souls (which makes me giddy every time I look at the document). It’s YA lit, with some upper YA themes. And well, here’s the snapshot I have for it:

Katerina Alkaev has only ever known how to be one thing: an outcast. With no real memories of her past, no family and no prospects of a future, she’s stuck in a spiral of bad luck, non-committing foster homes and an extreme lack of self-worth which bring her to the little town of New Hollow. She struggles to find her place in the world, not sure she’d recognize her destiny if it slapped her across the face, which was nothing new to her. When a fight with her abusive boyfriend Michael leaves her broken and bruised, Katerina discovers a world that she might just belong to, provided she can stay alive long enough to find out. With the help of her best friend Isobel, Katerina begins to unravel the past, creating allies and enemies that all seem to stem from an ancestral act of love and sacrifice. As Katerina begins to accept her fate, she discovers an ages old prophesy that demands she side with the darkness or die. With love and life at stake, one thing is absolutely clear: if she wants to survive, she’ll have to transform.

This book is based loosely on the mythology of Psyche, the goddess of souls with a touch of modernity. Set in the fictional world of New Hollow, it features coffee shops (obviously), a small town on hard times, mystery, rebellion and love. Apart from that, well, I guess you’ll just have to read it and find out!

It will be published in parts, so it’s perfect for a little bit of light reading every now and again. I’m working on more books (both the traditional and self-pub way, so if a subscription service isn’t your style, stay tuned-there’s more good things to come!) and I’d say that’s a pretty swell ending to a pretty swell day.

Advertisements

Alrighty. One Hour Left.

So I was in a timed exam, and I got done a little early, with no option but to wait out the clock. So I decided I’d set free the little creative bug in me and just have some fun. This is the result of that little window of time, and I must say, it’s rather delightful.

Some background: I had a song stuck in my head at the time, and I was watching the clock. That much is probably evident, but if you’re looking for which song-it’s Goodnight Moon by Go Radio. I chose specifically to not use gender. I also just went a little whimsy with the spoken words-I made up the language as I went. It’s not copied from anything that I am consciously aware.

*******************************************************************************

Image result for moon free clip art

“So goodnight moon, and goodnight you.”

There they sat, waiting for the final tick of the clock. The batteries had been wearing out slowly and the time had come. Each second took slightly longer than the one before and it was time to say goodbye.

But that was the problem with letting go, wasn’t it? Even something as juvenile and unemotional as a watch battery could find, that in its last moments, care was expressed on its behalf. And what then, could be said for the rest of…stop.

The tarnished plating on the watched seemed to fade. The watch face, once illustriously lilac (or so they had been told), now sat dusty and apparently unimportant, its hands frozen at 3:17. What a time to die.

It was all that remained of their family-this little piece of costume jewelry. Much like those it had belonged to, its importance was solely in the eye of the beholder. The engraving in the band suggested a fascination with darkness, and knowing of the original owner, it wasn’t an unreasonable assumption. However, they were just words to a song, long since forgotten. A relic, not unlike the time piece. What times must have been like then, with music and the importance of knowing your position in the light spectrum. They’d approached each experience as fleeting, but holding on to the sentimental value for far longer than reasonable. Thus the watch.

A brief stretch and up they rose, catching the smell of the pending storm. It was inevitable, as all things were. Drifting to the bank of the river, they looked once more at the cheap metal, hand carved engravings and faded colors. It was an accurate representation of the world they knew-lifeless, soulless and oppressed. But that was coming to an end.

They had no training in music, an art long since banned and forgotten, but a small rectangular object, lodged safely in a pocket was the key to the change oncoming. Remembering-just barely-how to operate it, they keyed up the appropriate symbols of a dying language and hesitated slightly. A dull rhythm behind them.

“Osha na heimawei?” Are you sure this is a good idea? An old friend emerged from the path. No threat, just curiosity-although both responses were illegal.

“Amsu.” Yes, they thought. “Ji esto na heikawa. Esko pa ti antewa.” The world killed itself long ago. I must revive it. “Ni ma toankeishelo.” My destiny must revive the life long lost. The friend extended a hand, which they grasped.

“Shei nakem.” Together then. They pressed the three-tipped button and dialed up a side meter.

“Shestako meinahopaneita. Weitcha hakeifato.” This is how apathy ends. This is how the humanity is exhumed.

“And when our hearts are heavy burdens, we shouldn’t have to bear alone.” They tossed the watch into the river and increased the volume until it reached a deafening level. Light began to emit from the depths of the water, where the metal left ripples.

It was as though the sun rose over the world for the first time in ages. Colors burst forth from each thing the light touched, and it was then that they finally understood the beauty of having open eyes. Instead of the grey and black scale, there existed sights that there were no longer words for.

Their family passed down stories of time before the darkness-when freedom and individuality weren’t oppressed for uniformity. A time when this light reached everywhere and everyone, when sounds were crisp and emotional. Although the language’s nuances were slightly lost on them, the meaning of the song that still filled the air swelled within, like some higher purpose.

Within a couple breaths, enforcement surrounded them and it was then that they understood: neither they nor their friend would see the finale to this new chapter.

“Katek. Meitanopatchema. Katenchezna.” Stand down. Await containment for final processing of crimes committed. Surrender or pass beyond. 

A fleeting look at their actions. It was enough to overwhelm them. Their friend squeezed their hand one last time.

“Techakana hielo.” I will follow you to the end. 

“You cannot take freedom from those who would see it shared to all. Our lives may be brief, but our meaning will never be lost. Welcome to morning. May the darkness be fleeting and oppression end.”

“3:21. What a time to die.” Their friend spoke.

“Fa. Meistopashei.” No. What a time to live.

And humanity was exhumed, bringing with it an understanding and a hunger for all things diverse and beautiful.

“Like a passage from goodnight moon.”

*****************************************************************************

69 Days

We’re in the countdown stages now, folks. Ben and I are moving across the country in just 69 days. And I’m starting to wonder what I was thinking. Not in the “reconsidering everything” way, but rather in the “is that even enough time to redo everything” way. FOr better or worse, our lease is up in 70 days and we’ve already filled out the “intent to vacate” form. So where does that leave us?

Well, in a time of great transition, apparently. Both of us have a very busy summer ahead, and it’s all for the sake of making our move smoother. We’ll be traveling nearly 800 miles to relocate in yet another college town (albeit, one that’s 6 times smaller than the one we live in now). I’ve used Google StreetView enough to realize that it’s nothing like I’ve been expecting-and that that’s okay. I knew when I applied to places that I wanted a change, and that’s precisely what I got.

Anyway, I’ve also begun reaching out to people to ask if they’d like to meet up one last time. And I’m making a couple journeys to my hometown for similar reasons, but on the whole, it’s time to break away.

When I was in high school, I told everyone that I’d leave Ohio and I’d never ever come back. I was so full of hostility towards the state that I couldn’t see ever staying here. And yet, 6 years later, I’m only just preparing to leave. And that’s okay. My intentions, although not at all as furious as before, have not changed. My parents are both from this area, but they met out in the west. Ben and I met here and we’re off to the west as well. Not because I feel a sense of destiny to our pending location, but because I need to go.

I had a hard time explaining to Ben why it was that we needed to leave Ohio. I explained it poorly for the first several times. (He wasn’t opposed to the idea, he just didn’t know why I was so insistent on it.) I’ve never been out of Ohio for longer than a small family visit every now and then. I’ve made stops in the surrounding areas: WV, TN and I’ve even been to MI, NC and TX (we flew). But never more than just a few days, as I said. And when I proposed Seattle (not where we’re headed, however), Ben didn’t quite understand why I desperately needed to go to a place I’d never even seen. So I’m going to try and explain it to you. Thankfully, it’s more coherent that it was the first few times.

I’ll be honest, I feel a little lost. Like I don’t really belong here. I’ve felt that way for many years. Like being at a friend’s house and knowing you’re not home, but staying there for a long time. It’s warm and inviting, you never feel like an intrusion, but ultimately, you feel an increasing need to move on. One day, you finally can’t take it anymore, and you announce you’re ready to go home. But your home was burned down, and that’s why you’d been staying with them. You know that the place you belong is somewhere, but now you have no idea where it is. You just want to find it and be at peace.

That’s how it feels.

I struggle a lot with the idea of destiny. I flip between feeling worthless and feeling destined for greatness. Especially when reality sets in and I have to look at all the choices I’ve made as a pathway to where I am now. Surely, the amount of struggle means that I’m going to do something great, that I’m going to change the world, right? But in the end, that’s not a guarantee. I can work towards it, and I am, but it may not happen. So what then? Because I’ll be honest, some days it feels like I’m needlessly suffering if I can’t change everything.

ask-believe-receive_thumb

So in these next 69 days, I’m going to be working on my manifestation skills, honing them into reshaping the way I think. I will be big.

That’s what a friend and I’d been talking about lately. How we only ask the universe for the things that we desperately need and no more. But it’s never really working in our favor. Because we weren’t born to be timid and weak and hushed. We were born to be wild and courageous and loud. So I’m done asking for the bare minimum. I want the world. I want all of it-the good, the bad, the happy, the frustrating-all of it. Not because I am entitled to it, but because I am stardust and if I can make universes, surely I can be big enough to change my own destiny.

Single Digits

So if you follow me on instagram, I’ve been doing a daily photo with #HowIMetMyGraduation. I try to take pictures of things that sum up my day, mean something to me, or otherwise spark my interest. And Because I’m now officially just 9 days away from finishing my degree, I wanted to do something (probably hard) fun. I’m going to describe my undergrad degree using all 26 letters of the English alphabet. So uhm, here goes nothing.

A. Anthropology-my major. I focus on Cultural Anthropology, because I like to people watch.

B. Biology-This is what I spent two years of my degree majoring in. Because I was afraid of change.

C. Clergy-I am not only a wedding planner, I can officiate marriages too.

D. Diversity-I became Minister of Justice, Human Rights and Diversity for the micronation of Flandrensis

E. Education-which included the Calculus sequence, Chemistry, Psychology, Social Work and Political Science.

F. Fat-I gained some, but learned that my worth wasn’t a number.

G. GISHWHES-I learned how to cross the line between comfort and adventure.

H. Highway driving and conquering the fear.

I. Impair-we went through 4 (5?) cars in undergrad.

J. Journal-I started bullet journalling as a way to manage my symptoms.

K. Knick Knacks-I had to downsize 5 times since starting undergrad-for moving purposes.

L. Liberal-as in, I got liberally involved in politics.

M. Marriage-I got married in a classroom on campus just about 3 years ago.

N. Novels-I’ve started MANY, finished few.

O. Ohio State-this is where I’ve gotten my degree from.

P. Phlebotomy-I got my national certification by going to 2 colleges at once for a while.

Q. Queer-because I learned that it’s okay not to fit a gender binary-or even a standard array of sexuality.

R. Religion-I changed religions in college: from southern baptist/nondenominational Christian to earth worshipping pagan/hoodoo.

S. Subway-my first job. Followed by Rural King, Giant Eagle, and OSU.

T. Tattoo-I knew I wanted one, and for graduation, I finally got it.

U. Unhappy-I spent a long time being unhappy, because I lived in the shadow of the expectations of others before finding myself.

V. Victim-or rather, how to become a survivor of sexual assault.

W. Washburn-this is where I’ll be going to get my JDMSW (Law Degree and Masters in Social Work) in a little over 100 days.

X. Xenial-by definition, accepting-especially of strangers and foreigners.

Y. Youth-I’ve been in college the entirety of my early-mid twenties, and will be there until I’m nearly 30.

Z. Zombies? Zodiac? Zenith-meaning the most important moment, which for me is coming quickly.

 

Well, that wasn’t so bad:)

We’ll speak soon.

M.

The List of Buckets

BL.jpg

(Image from Google, Karen Boyes. I don’t own it-it was just cute.)

I have a hundred things on my mind right now, but that means that the best thing I could do is write down my bucket list. Not only had I mentioned I would earlier, but I most of the stuff on my mind has to do with that, so why not!

Now, I’m not sure any of you need the definition of a bucket list, but for sanity’s sake-A bucket list is a list of things that the individual would like to accomplish before they “kick the bucket” (die). And here’s mine.

  1. Whale watching
  2. Cliff Diving
  3. Learn to ice skate
  4. Learn to surf
  5. Swim in a waterfall
  6. Slow dance in the rain
  7. Witness a miracle
  8. Visit Canada
  9. Save a life
  10. Visit Ireland
  11. Visit England
  12. Visit Scotland
  13. Help turtles hatch and reach the ocean
  14. Be the starfish girl
  15. Eat pasta in Italy
  16. Eat bread in France
  17. See the Great Barrier Reef
  18. See Stonehenge
  19. Venetian gondola ride
  20. Get published
  21. Learn guitar
  22. Stand in the Sistine Chapel
  23. See the Mona Lisa in person
  24. Have lunch with a famous person
  25. See the Northern Lights
  26. Stand in a phone booth
  27. See Platform 9 ¾
  28. Visit Forks, WA
  29. Ride in Hot Air Balloon
  30. Zorbing
  31. Kiss under Mistletoe
  32. Live by the ocean
  33. Learn to scuba
  34. Make the perfect cup of coffee
  35. Learn how to make latte art
  36. Be fearless
  37. Own a 1967 Chevy Impala
  38. Make epic, award worthy cosplay
  39. Perfect cat eye
  40. Go fire walking
  41. Read a book in something other than English
  42. Visit every museum and zoo in the state I live in
  43. Visit Cueva de los Manos
  44. Leave a note in Juliet’s Wall
  45. Make someone smile more often than cry
  46. Be invited to a PowWow
  47. Stop worrying
  48. Stop micromanaging
  49. New Orleans Mardi Gras
  50. Swim with dolphins
  51. See Heaven’s Trail
  52. Give Christmas to a children’s hospital
  53. Replace my wardrobe with clothes I actually like
  54. Repay all the kindnesses
  55. Change the world

I know there are more-I’m just not entirely sure I could remember anything else. (Clearly haven’t mastered that perfect coffee haha!) But I think this is a pretty solid list-and I’m going to get started on it right away.

I’ll let you in on a secret.

I’m tired of people telling me what I do and do not know, what I need to do to know things, how much I’m allowed to know. I’ve spent the last two decades being told I can never know everything, but being held accountable for everything regardless, only to find that every year or so, what I know is obsolete information. I may never meet the standards of knowing. But I’m ready for something else. If after 20 years knowing things doesn’t make me happy, I’ve got to change things. So these next twenty years aren’t going to be “knowing” years-they’re going to be “experience” years. I’m gonna do things, see things, live things. So that when I get to the next fork in the road, the only thing I’ll know is myself.

My GISHWHES Adventure

Hello everyone!

This morning at 2AM Ohio time, GISHWHES (The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen) came to an end. Which means I am officially allowed to show you all what we’ve been working on this week! It’s going to be an image-heavy post, there will be links to YouTube Videos and it’s going to be awesome. We find out who won in two months-ish.

First, you can find the complete list of items: GISHWHES 2016 List of Items. I invite you to take a peek around, read some of this massive to-do list. If you’re interested in what it is that we were doing this week, or if you might want to do it next year, this is a great place to start.

I’m going to try to make this organized. I’ll post the ones I did, with captions of what they were, then my favorites from my team, then links to the video items. That way it’ll at least represent some linear pattern.

I had to find a constellation in freckles. (Thanks honey!)

This one was to dress up in a flower crown and then fastforward time to “age” both me and the crown. I love my scarf-it’s SPN inspired.

I was raising awareness for My Hope Chest, which provides reconstructive surgeries for women with breast cancer. Excuse the sweat, it was 100 degrees outside! And yes, I was required to post it to my Twitter account during the week.

This one was to personify a street sign. I thought it was genius.

A not-so-well-known social injustice. And you bet I definitely believe it. The caption (if you can’t read it) says “The real social injustice here is people drinking a decaffeinated caffeine beverage. It’s like going to a restaurant and asking for a glass of diet water to wash down the entire diet cake you just stuck in your mouth.”

This one was hard! I had to recreate an old childhood photo. I don’t care what you say, I was a cute kid lol And I did this without stretching so ha!

I had to paint Zachary Levi on a pair of Levi’s jeans.

I was the coupon fairy, leaving coupons at the items!

This one made me laugh so much. I think it’s great. Time will tell if it really is or not.

This one took me the longest. One of my teammates wrote a poem in binary and I had to create a pattern out of the poem. It took almost 5 hours. MC stands for MIsha Collins-who runs GISHWHES. The bottom right is a Boat.

I had to plant a tree-and I chose to plant maple keys.
Here are my favorites from my team:

The item was “Rainbow Teeth”

An icon made from candy.

Defending the panty aisle.

Visiting a nursing home (or Misha’s grandmother) dressed as a pirate.

Dining in a 50’s themed restaurant dressed as Jedis-bonus points for being served by a sith. My favorite thing about this video is the guy in the background eating and staring.
Here are the video links:

Sinscreen Commercial: Sinscreen

Human Transformer: Transformer

GISHWHES Jingle (I did this one): Jingle

Carry On My Wayward Son A Capella (I did this one): COMWS

Bob Ross Paint Along (I did this one, but will be redoing it for realsies later): Paint Along

THis isn’t a video, but it’s a link to the crowd rise for what I talk about next: CrowdRise

Along with all of this, we raised awareness for Breast Cancer, Strokes, Vanishing Habitats and raised (as a collective movement) $200K USD for FOUR refugee families. One of them was the family of a little girl (aged 12) who tried do kill herself so that her family would be better able to feed her siblings.

And the niftiest thing to happen to me? 


So as you can see, I’m now a dual-citizen AND I have my knighthood. That’s definitely going on my resume. 

Alrighty folks, this has been my week. I haven’t shared everything that we did, as there were over 100 items we completed! But the important take-aways from this are that I absolutely had a blast, I helped people, raised awareness, found a side of myself I hadn’t even known was there and discovered that I’m actually really competitive.

I have some pretty documented social anxiety, along with other stuff, and for this week, it wasn’t a problem almost at all. I mean, I went to a library AT MY COLLEGE-where people know me and work with me-and wore a bra on the outside of my shirt for crying out loud. If that isn’t doing something crazy, I don’t know what is. 

I sent a message to Misha Collins before GISHWHES started, telling him why I decided to sign up. Well, more like responded to one of his Facebook posts about why people might not be signing up for GISHWHES. And you know what? He responded to me.


I looked at that screenshot before I started GISHWHES last Saturday and I looked at it again when it ended. I’d love-LOVE to win the grand prize. I really, really would. But I can’t help but feel that I have won. I celebrated my 2 months free of self-harm during the hunt. And although I know I have a long journey ahead, I have the blessing of Misha Collins-who is one of my “heroes”. So when I say that GISHWHES has given me more than I gave it, I don’t think I’m exaggerating at all. I’m going to send him a thank you letter (snail mail) as soon as I recover from the week of all-nighters, paint and crafting.

Only 365 days until GISHWHES 2017. I can’t wait!

Once Upon A Time

It was a slightly overcast day, but with enough sun to count as sunny. I woke up, smiled a bit, and headed to school and my then job as a tutor for the school. It was the end of April, and I was looking forward to the end of the semester. Ben, working in the same department, saw me as I walked in. I asked him what was on his mind, and we began to talk about the same topic that we’d been casually mentioning for ages: marriage. I thought we could just do a courthouse run when we went to get our marriage certificate, but the courthouse hadn’t offered them, and so we were still looking for a solution. I pulled the number up for the courthouse of the municipal we were in for classes (which was the next district over, and therefore a possibility). The judge DID perform marriages-by appointment only!

When would we like to be married?

I wanted May Day-a religious holiday about fertility and thusly good luck.

They only did Friday’s.

May second? Booked.

May ninth?

That was fine. We were scheduled for 9AM. Perfect.


The date was two weeks away, with plenty of time to break the news to our families that we were being completely serious (they’d known we would for about a year, but until we had something concrete it was always just up in the air.) We’d tried a December wedding, but it hadn’t panned out.

Fast forward to the Friday before our wedding-Friday, May 2 at 4:56PM. The Judge had been overbooked! And he wouldn’t even able to do our wedding!! No appointments available before our marriage certificate expired. Thank you.

It was the end of the business week before we were finished with our conversation. I could call no official until Monday, and that might be too late. So I began to try every minister, high priest, high priestess, pastor and anyone I had an email address for in the closest three counties. Most, as I had assumed, needed more notice. One had asked if we could drive forty miles to their Sabbat that same night, where they would love to do so, with less than an hour to get there-we passed, but I would have loved to!

Ben had been calling people with the same fervor, and emailing his professors (who are well known to be better connected than college students!) and lo and behold-one of his professors was ordained! Was he free on Friday the 9th? Yes! Would he be willing to do so? Yes! Perfect!

It wasa sunny Friday, the flowers were all blooming in the trees and it seemed like the perfect day for happiness. My parents and siblings, Ben’s dad, Ben’s best friend (and his parents) and a couple lost stragglers came to the classroom. My dad stopped off and bought pizza for everybody before we got there. In walked the professor, complete with a stole and robes, a brief case, and a guitar case. I’d never had Dr. Emens, but he seemed a nice enough fellow, and he was certainly doing us a kindness.

We had a traditional wedding, complete with prayers, vows that were based in a religion I had left, and the exchanging of rings. Then, at the very end, Dr. Evens sat down and asked if he could play a song for us. He chose “Good Riddance (Time of Our Lives)” by Green Day. We paid him, signed the things we needed to and then headed to our honeymoon-weekend (where we watched three seasons of Game of Thrones and the owner of the place we stayed picked wild flowers-which I dried (because they were my wedding bouquet).

It may not have been traditional, it may not have been the big and fancy wedding that everyone always thinks about, but it was unique, it was prophetic and it was the start of a wonderful marriage. And it was all completed at 4:30PM Friday, May 9, 2014.

Now, two years later, it is rainy (which I love!) and I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my huge cup of coffee, thinking about that day. I remember that I sat there thinking that I wasn’t nervous at all, that I knew I was making the decision that I’d made in my head a long time before.

There are some things you didn’t get with that version of the story.

I was 21 (and had been so for 5 months exactly). Ben was 20 (and had been so for a week under 5 months). I was asked within five minutes of getting married if I was going to have kids/when I was going to have kids/if I was already pregnant. 

Ben told my dad (and I later adopted the same reasoning for the people who asked why we got married so young:

I didn’t want to start our lives separately and have to make room for the other person. I want to start from absolutely nothing more than love and build a life together. I want to start out together poor and watch as our riches grow.

I’d always told people that when you know you love someone, you shouldn’t feel like age should stop you from spending your life together.

I chose to hyphenate my name because at the time I thought I wanted to go into academics and that way, if I published any papers, you’d know without a doubt it was me. I may not be directly going into academia, but I don’t regret splitting my name. Because it gives me an identity all my own. I use either name as I please, both for formal occasions and I am content.

So happy anniversary, my love. It’s been an interesting, epic, bizarrely perfect two years and I look forward to collecting more with you.