40 Reasons Why I Write

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Relatively recently, Bryan Hutchinson issued a challenge on his blog, Positive Writer – list 40 reasons why you write. You can see his answers here. When it came about, I was in the throws of Camp NaNoWriMo. As that is now complete, and I’m taking a small break from the novel so I can attack it again in July’s edition of Nano, I needed this challenge. It’s been difficult to stay motivated, because the hits just keep coming in both my personal and professional life. So, I’m going to take some time to remind myself why I write. I hope you find my answers either interesting or inspirational. Also, I am so incredibly late to this challenge.

  1. Writing keeps my brain busy. With my ADHD, my brain is always spinning anyway, so this gives it something to work on in the background.
  2. Stories haunt me, and I have to get them out.
  3. I have had a lot of trauma and strange events in my life, and I need an outlet.
  4. Sometimes, I like to live vicariously through my characters.
  5. Sometimes, I like to bury myself in my characters so I can forget life.
  6. My son looks up to me for creating whole stories all by myself, and there’s no beating that.
  7. Writing is a strong bond I share with my husband, as he is also an author.
  8. Writing is a strong bond I share with my sister-in-law. She is also an author.
  9. Writing has helped me make amazing friendships, some that are sure to be lifelong.
  10. I like how writing makes me feel, like I am weaving worlds from my imagination.
  11. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I finally get something right is amazing.
  12. Rewriting has taught me all about perseverance. Frustration, but perseverance.
  13. I like to read things I love over and over again, so this was probably a fitting career choice.
  14. I love to paint with words.
  15. I love to listen to music, and music always inspires me to paint with my words.
  16. Clever dialogue is all around me. What would I do if I didn’t jot some of it down and use it for my own benefit?
  17. My best friend has yoga. I have writing.
  18. The creative people on my journey with me are the best people.
  19. My characters tend to be stronger than I am. Or at least, than I was. These days, I seem to be taking a page from my own book. Writing has encouraged me to be stronger.
  20. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I won’t get anywhere in this business, or something is wrong with the core of a particular story, etc. I intend to prove them very wrong.
  21. When my anxiety disorder, my depression, my PTSD rears up, writing helps me cope.
  22. Because, as a woman, and as a woman with physical and mental health issues, my voice and my individual experiences deserve to be heard.
  23. I love reading so much, and I know how it feels to really connect with a character. I would love to be able to provide that for someone else.
  24. I’ve always loved playing with voice and word choice, seeing how different an outcome I can create just by finding a more exact bit of syntax.
  25. Writing often helps me to put feelings I’m dealing with into words, to tell truths through my characters that I can’t articulate properly in reality.
  26. I honestly don’t know what I would do with all the spare time I’d get if I didn’t write or plan to write.
  27. When I’m writing I can temporarily put off other, more important chores. But not the most important ones, of course. 😉
  28. I still believe in magic, and sometimes, writing feels like magic. Like when something inexplicably comes together, and it feels like destiny, that feels like magic. That is the rare moment where I become a believer.
  29. How else can I justify talking to the people who live in my brain?
  30. I’m stubborn and I’ve said I’m going to do it, so damn it, I’m going to do it.
  31. Some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met write, so I hope some of that rubs off on me.
  32. Sometimes, I’m not all that adventurous, so I need an excuse to try new and interesting things. Research gives me that excuse.
  33. I was already a fact hoarder. This gives me a reason to hoard facts.
  34. I hate waste, and I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and random experiences that just kind of sit around in my brain and go to waste. I want to give them some use. Like my two years working at an ice cream shop. I’m using that in my latest book.
  35. There are tons of stories that I want to read, that I don’t find out there. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak. They say, if you want something done, do it yourself, right?
  36. I’m getting to a point where rejections mean almost nothing to me. I’m numb to rejection.
  37. Unless, they come with constructive criticism, at which point I am disappointed, but I have learned to love constructive criticism and view it as encouragement and help, rather than an insult. I think writing has helped to improve my personality in that way.
  38. I have also become able to tell the difference between constructive knowledgeable criticism and insults, being led astray, and jealous attacks designed to keep a person below them. That lesson has helped me in all areas of my life.
  39. I have a side gig as an editor, and I’ve always believed that, if you are going to manage people, you should be willing to get your hands dirty. If I won’t get my hands dirty with words, why should I tell other people to do so?
  40. I love to geek out. It’s my life’s mission to make other people geek out as much as I do.

So, there are my 40 reasons! Do you need to remind yourself why you love something? Share your reasons in the comments, and thank you for being one of the people I’ve encountered on this journey, the people I write for. Thank you for being one of my reasons. ❤

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Booktubing: Stranger Than Fanfiction by Chris Colfer

Some of you may know that I have a YouTube channel that I run with my family, called Geektastic. Well, sometimes I do book related things, and occasionally, I’ll cross-post them here, because I think my target audience may find them interesting.

So, below, please enjoy my booktubing premiere, and if you enjoy, please like it and subscribe to our channel. We’d love to have you!

The Elusive Nature of Inspiration

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“Where do you get your ideas?” is a question I often get when I’m discussing the nature of my latest story, usually with a person who does not write. Any writer knows that writers don’t know where their ideas come from. In his writing book/memoir “On Writing,” Stephen King said, “There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

It’s true. We have no idea. However, we often remember our line of thinking when we’ve come up with some of our ideas. So where have some of mine come from? How different are their origins? Do some story elements come from different places? Let’s talk.

I’ve had stories arise from concepts I wanted to explore. The Order of the Key was about me trying to create a strong female hero from a geek who has been raised loving superhero media. Lucy Dies in the End was really solely about that concept–I literally just thought about the title and how cool it would be if Lucy herself was the one to say it. I’ve always been drawn to Greek mythology and Aphrodite in particular, which led to Never Say Never. My interest in past lives played into my ideas for the mystery behind Living in the Past.

I’ve had stories arise from dreams. Often when I have these, they play out before me like movies. Legally Insane was about a dream I had about a hidden relationship in a workplace. The present day tale in Living in the Past comes from a very vivid dream I had about a woman strongly connecting with a man and coming home with him, only to stumble into a mystery involving his son.

I’ve had stories arise from mundane reality. Like the lead character in The Order of the Key and Legally Insane, I am a geek. Legally Insane is largely about work in a law firm, which happens to be my day job. The concept of Lucy as Lady Justice in Lucy Dies in the End came from staring at Lady Justice during various court case searches at my job. My parents’ divorce heavily inspires some of the debates on long term relationships in Never Say Never. Dating experiences of my friends helped inspire other portions. And the characters work in an ice cream shop. My first job was at a Carvel. Choosing to Stand Still was a sort of wish fulfillment, regarding a pair of best friends I knew that I thought belonged together–if you’ve read that one, writing it made me realized they were right never to pursue that route.

17760096_1325475264199099_8399109544035762431_nI’ve had stories arise from conversations. The backbone of Legally Insane involves the main character visualizing a character from her favorite television series prodding her to be strong in the face of a major life change. This came from a joke that was made when chatting with fandom friends about Jack O’Neill, a wise-cracking character from Stargate SG-1. My friend said, “I wish I could take him around in my pocket to smack some sense into me.” From there, the idea was born.

I’ve had stories arise from fears. Without spoilers, the fear of losing a child played into The Keys & Guardians series plan heavily. Things You Can Create arose from the fear of the kinds of torture I could carelessly visit upon my characters. It is, unsurprisingly, my first short story.

I’ve had stories that arise from past trauma. One Percent is an exploration of my descent into anxiety prior to spinal surgery. One Headlight was born of the death of a friend, one who died in a car accident on the way to college. Tunneling dealt with my experiences with dealing with alcoholics. The Peace of Completion and Release dealt with some wish fulfillment regarding the aftermath of my sexual assault. Blue Ice dealt with the issue of domestic violence, handled by a third party, looking in.

What does this tell you? Stories come from so many different places. Some of the things on this list were planned. Some were things that spilled out of me once I began to write. But all of it were things I drew upon to create stories that meant a lot to me.

What does this mean for you? It means inspiration can come from anything. It can be a mix of many things. So collect writing prompts. Collect interesting factoids. File away tidbits about the people you meet. But most of all, experience. Live your life with a keen, attentive eye and look at all you see around you. Every bit of your life experience, even the bad things can be weaved into the fabric of a story.

So how do you find the elusive creature known as inspiration? The answer is simple. Live.

Buffy Turns 20: What BtVS and Joss Taught Me About Writing

 

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Just a portion of my Buffy Bookcase

Twenty years ago today, my then-boyfriend/now-husband Ismael tried to get me to watch the first episode of a new show premiering on= the struggling WB network called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I rolled my eyes at him. He had strange taste in television and, while I loved vampires, I had never felt compelled to see the movie. I just had no interest in it. Even after that day, Ismael kept pushing. No, the series was really good. It took him by surprise. It would take me until a year later to try an episode. That episode would be the two-parter, Surprise and Innocence, more popularly known as the episode where Buffy and Angel make love and Angel turns evil. I am not being hyperbolic–I wasn’t the same person after that. Buffy the Vampire Slayer changed my life, it changed how I saw myself and who I was as a person. It motivated me and informed who I am as an artist.

 

So, as a love letter to a series I can still recite the dialogue for, I’m going to discuss the top ways Buffy changed my writing and my life. Note – Spoilers ABOUND. If you haven’t watched…just watch the show. Seriously?

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  1. Lexicons Change…Muchly. The sarcasm. The snark. The strange turn of words. I still refer to people as bitca. I’ll add ish to turn verbs into adjectives and age to nouns to make them verbs. If there’s something to be said, I’ll ‘pop culture’ it up. I abbreviate words that don’t have abbreviation. I give emotions place names, like Waah Waah Land. I reorder words to sentences in odd ways. Pathetic much? Probably, but I started this show when I was fifteen and deciding who I was going to be. Was I intending to be Buffy and The Scooby Gang? Not so much. But it found its way in and I can’t help going for some serious quirkage when I’m feeling chattish. Don’t be afraid to play with language, as long as your audience can understand you.

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2. Risk-Taking Pays Off. When my boyfriend was busy bugging me about the series, he was very interested in the fact that the principal of the school was eaten in episode six. Seriously, it was his main selling point. I didn’t get it until they turned Buffy’s love interest evil in season 2…and kept him that way for the rest of the season. This show would do anything, and even when it hurt, I loved it. Joss Whedon, the series’ now well-known creator once said, “Don’t give people what they want, give them what they need.” And he did, solidly, for seven seasons. He disappointed us, but then he gave us great narrative reasons why our sadness was necessary. And Joss’ commitment to risk wasn’t just about risking his characters–it was about risking his reputation. He managed to craft and direct very risky episodes such as Hush, an episode with only 17 minutes of dialogue, The Body, an episode entirely about the strange and detached feeling of losing a loved one, and Once More, With Feeling, otherwise known as The Buffy Musical. All very risky, all paid off nicely. Taking creative risks with your work keeps it interesting.

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3. Happy Sadness is Okay. There are episodes of this series that make me laugh out loud and cry real tears. They make me worry for the characters, and they make me cringe in embarrassment. As a teenager, Buffy taught me that the confusion of my emotions was not strange. It was just life. Life can be twisty. As an artist, it taught me that genre isn’t a real thing in art. I mean, if you want to sell it, you need to know what genre it best fills. But when you’re writing it? Write the thing. Art is about portraying our journey in a way that makes sense to us. And our journeys aren’t romances or coming of age stories. They certainly aren’t comedies or dramas. They are all those things. Well, for some of us, they may not be a Western, but you get my point. Be free. Worry about labels later.

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4. Success Does Not Come Without Clunkers. The Puppet Show. Ted. Most of Season 7…Oops. Some of the series wasn’t spectacular. There were episodes that I can only barely stand to rewatch when I do my rewatches. Which is proof positive that not everything you do is going to land with an audience. And that’s okay. BtVS is still judged as a whole and your body of work will likely be, as well. That doesn’t mean they’re all bad. Some really good lines from the series come from The Puppet Show, Season 7 led up to a spectacular ending, and Ted…well…Ted had John Ritter! So, even your missteps can yield positive results.

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5. POV is Important. The Zeppo follows sidekick Xander through a day in which he stumbles blindly through a relatively minor issue while his friends deal with some world ending cataclysm we know nothing about. You know why? Because we’re with Xander and, frankly, he has no time for this Hellmouth thing. Superstar throws you into a world where Jonathan, a relatively minor recurring character, is suddenly a star, right down to getting placement in the title credits. In the Season 5 episode Buffy vs. Dracula, Dawn, a little sister we have never met thus far, just pops up, and we’re expected to accept it. She’s been planted there and the memories of the world has been altered to include her, but we don’t find that out until later. For now, we’re just surfing through the story, trying to figure out what is going on, and it adds a sense of mystery and foreboding we wouldn’t get if we knew everything. Point of view can make or break your story. Use wisely for best results.

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6. People CHANGE. Sometimes they change slightly, sometimes they are affected by something that completely and irrevocably alters the fabric of who they are. But the most important thing is that people evolve. I’m not who I was when I started watching Buffy. Buffy was much more mature, but also more dark inside, when she finished the series. Willow was stronger and wiser. Xander was more sober and careful. Dawn was less whiny. Giles was less up tight. Anya learned to care. Tara became confident. Angel and Spike repented for their wrongs. Faith went from tragic headcase to true hero. Cordelia became a higher being and Oz became a werewolf zen master. Your characters have to be altered when they finish their journey, or else what is the point?

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7. Know When to Hold Back. Joss Whedon and the writing team didn’t know what they were scripting when they created Earshot. In Earshot, an encounter with a demon gives Buffy mind-reading abilities, which lead to her overhearing a plot to kill all the students in her high school. It was scheduled to air in April 1999. And then, a week before the episode was to air, the Columbine High School Massacre happened. A freak moment of accidental prescience. Whedon and the network hurriedly pulled it off the airwaves because escapism isn’t fun once it isn’t escapism anymore. In that vein, artistically we should pay attention to when our work may be insensitive or cruel and be sure to yank that back. Art should not be used as a sword to harm.

A more artistic example of knowing when to hold back is evident in The Body. While the series had always been for mixing laughter and tears, for this episode, there is no laughter to be had. It is forty minutes of grueling sadness because it is so truthful, in a way that art should be truthful. Examining the emotions of the main characters after Buffy returns home to find her mother dead, The Body soars as an episode that doesn’t have half of the well-known Buffy style, because it can’t. Even vampire slaying because a numb, necessary event happening despite the main focus. Despite its sense of humor, Buffy knew when to take itself seriously.

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8. Even People You Love Can Be Unlikeable. This one, I REALLY needed in my private life. The lesson was very strongly learned through the richness of characters in the Buffy Universe. I hated every character at some point. In Season 1, when Angel is all cryptic before disappearing, Batman-style, or when Cordelia doesn’t get that Buffy is cool, even when she saves her ass. In Season 2, when Xander decides it’s cool to make the entire female population of Sunnydale fall in love with him by magic and later doesn’t bother to tell Buffy that Willow is trying to re-ensoul Angel. In Season 3, when Willow and Xander cheat on Oz and Cordelia or when Buffy lets loose with Faith. In Season 4, when Buffy seems to forget about her friends or when Riley does ANYTHING. In Season 5, when Dawn whines incessantly or when Xander tries to convince Buffy to try to love Riley even though he betrayed her. In Season 6, when Willow gets addicted to magic and lies to Tara and when Buffy plays around with being a reckless idiot. In Season 7, when Buffy keeps screwing up, then making self-righteous speeches. Make your characters human. Make them flawed. We’ll love them all the more.

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9. Make Things Relatable. So, you’re fighting a war against a hellmouth full of demons? Make it feel more like high school, so your audience can relate, since most of us…MOST of us…have never went to war against a hellmouth full of demons. Even with the craziest twists our stories take, we should never leave them out of our audience’s reach. Ground them to reality and make them that much more powerful. And speaking of powerful…

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10. Who Run The World? WEIRDOS. Nothing showed me how to let my geeker flag fly like Buffy did. As I watched the characters in the series grow more powerful, and also as I watched Joss Whedon, a self-proclaimed geek, become more successful, I truly understood that the things that kept me from fitting in are also the things that make me interesting, that make my work unique. Embrace the weirdness. You’ll be stronger for it.

Finally, I want to thank Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the cast, the crew, the writers, and Joss Whedon for creating a show that taught me so much and guided who I would become. And also, thank you to my husband, whose incessant nagging (I say this lovingly) led me to become an even bigger fan than he was. If you’re a writer and you haven’t watched this series, you need to check it out. As silly as it sounds on the surface, it truly is a television masterpiece.

My Take: Team Urban or Team Epic?

 

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Hi all,

Today is the final day of Entangled Teen’s Team Urban vs. Team Epic Fantasy Promotion, and in honor of the conversations of this week, I would like to elaborate on a statement.

Earlier this week, I clearly declared what side I was on. Now I’m going to tell you why.

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I have always loved fantasy novels of any kind. A popular theme here on the blog is that I like weird stuff. I like to read it, I like to watch it, I like to write it. So I enjoy most stories in which something out of the ordinary occurs. Fantasy was a natural interest for a person like me.

There is nothing wrong with epic fantasy. There is a beauty to the pure inventiveness, the creations of entirely new worlds, languages, people. For the early part of my childhood, I was raised on fairy tales, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. My father even had a Tolkien calendar. My favorite video game was The Legend of Zelda, and if that isn’t an epic fantasy loving gamer’s dream, no game is.

But at some point, things shifted. As I grew up, I became exposed to television series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it touched me in a way no other series, or anything else for that matter, ever had. I was absorbed, completely moved. I fell in love with these characters, saw myself in them, saw myself in their weekly trials. I tried to decide which one I was more like. It didn’t matter if they were dealing with real life troubles, the monster of the week or some deep seated evil that spanned seasons. They felt more real to me.

The reason for that is that they were grounded in my reality. I could see myself going to school and having to deal with my principal as I snuck out to fight a demon. I could see myself sacrificing my social life to devote my life to something bigger. And somehow, those metaphors for life that were present in every fantasy novel struck a chord within me. Suddenly, I saw the challenges in my world as monsters to be defeated, the lessons to be learned as my spell book.

And ever since then, I found myself leaning towards Urban Fantasy, because if Buffy was a book, that’s exactly what it would be. I still love Epic Fantasy, but not with the ferocity with which I devour stories about real people dealing with their supernatural problems in concert with real world troubles. Killing monsters while dodging police. Hiding magical abilities from their parents. Having nobody believe them about who they are. Coming to terms with the strange in such a normal society.

I’d take a thousand magical societies hidden in plain sight over a dragon flying over head any day.


Thank you for hanging out with me for Entangled Teen’s Team Urban vs. Team Epic Promotional Event! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway and check out all of the books we discussed this week!

I’ll be back next week to discuss the difference between outlining a short story and a novel. See you then!

 

Surviving Social Media Series Part 1: Boundaries and Anonymity

social-1206612_960_720.pngSocial media. We all use it, and chances are, if you’re reading this blog post, you found it on some form of social media. But everyone finds little things about social media annoying. And if other people find it annoying, chances are you’re doing something that sticks in someone’s craw. In an attempt to make all parties a little more comfortable with their time on the good ole’ world wide web, I decided it was time for a survival series about social media.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a call on social media (ironic, I know), to find out the most annoying things about social media! And boy did I get a lot of answers. So I’m going to start here.


Topic 1: Boundaries and Anonymity

A lot of people had big problems with the lack of boundaries on the internet, and some for different reasons.

One complaint came from a fellow fangirl. People don’t seem to respect the boundaries of celebrities they have contact with on the internet. I have seen this phenomenon happen myself. Now that celebrities and content creators have twitter accounts and have become increasingly available to fans, fans have started going crazy. There was even just an article about the increasing entitlement of fandom as well as this spot on rebuttal

Most fans are able to contain themselves and show the general level of excitement and fun that is reasonable when you are able to chat up an actor or musician that you respect. And then there are the bad eggs. The ones that demand contact. We’ve all seen them. “Blanky McAuthor never wrote me back. He’s such an asshole.” No. NOPE. You are not any more deserving of anyone’s time than the ridiculous number of other people talking to them. When you tweet at an author, you have to keep in mind that there is a large chance you are talking to yourself.

But it’s not just that. People do that all the time. It’s the new era of everyone being available to you. At the risk of sounding like the old lady shouting at the kids to get off her lawn, I still remember the days when you had to leave a message on my answering machine and I’d get back to you when I got home. Now, we can be reached EVERYWHERE. And that means people believe we should be.

Take that feeling and multiply it by a thousand for celebrities. Once a fangirl/boy goes off the rails, demanding attention, it has the potential to go to the other creepy place. You have fangirls talking about how much they’d love to have a guy like that actor at home…to the actor. Or worse, his wife! You have this douchenugget who scared the hell out of Amy Schumer by coming up to her in the street, demanding she take a photo with him because “it’s America and we paid for you”. 

This is a symptom of a larger problem. ANONYMITY. Online, we get to hide behind a persona. Even if we are relatively close facsimiles of ourselves, we’re not bound to talk about that one time we hormonally freaked out because the pizza store was out of our favorite rolls, or the time you screeched like a banshee because someone spoiled the season finale of a television show. We’re all cooler versions of ourselves on the web. Because we have that internet device between us, keeping us safe from having to face many of the people we’re talking to.

This leads to internet bullying. Being safe behind a computer gives people the boldness to call someone a bad mother, gives them the ability to tell someone to f**k off and die, kill themselves, or more of the terrible things I’ve seen in comment sections on articles. It also gives people with social anxiety the ability to reach out to people they never could have reached out to in person. See? There’s a good side to everything.

So the moral of this story? If you’re using social media for making friends, if you’re using it for promotion, if you’re using it to gain insight into celebrity lives, or if you’re just using it because you’re bored out of your mind, please remember that the people on the other side of the mobile device are people too. They have their own lives, their own schedules, their own insecurities. They aren’t cool computer game characters you can mess with. They are people, and they are affected by what you do.

Always remember that we don’t know what is going through another person’s mind at any given time, and we don’t know what anybody is dealing with. Always give people the space to handle things in a way they can live with, and always be kind.

If you’re confronted by an internet bully impressed by their own anonymity (and probably pretty uncool in the real world), apply the block button liberally. And if someone thinks they’re entitled to an inordinate amount of your time? Dump them. Your life will run smoother that way.

I’ll leave you with that. Stay tuned for next week when I dive into what people think your social media types say about you, and why we share SO. DAMN. MUCH. See you then.

 

Thanksgiving

Note to my readers: This blog is a little late.  That would be because I was suffering my last month with a computer that quit on me.  But I’m back now, with a working model, and a blog that was more timely two weeks ago.  Ah well…consider it the obligatory holiday post.

It’s that time of year!  The time where families try to put aside petty grievances to eat dinner together (and usually fail), the time where we forget our diets, forget how long that drive to _________’s house is and do it anyway, the time where we kiss the behinds of everyone who’s behinds we should have been kissing all year, but forgot to in the shuffle of things (and the above-mentioned petty grievances, which usually are far outweighed by the good things).

So here I go, telling you the things I give thanks for.  Be prepared.  One day there will be an acknowledgements page in the back of a novel that looks something like this, but as that hasn’t happened yet, I figured I’d give it a whirl now.

There are plenty of people to thank, after all. So, to the following, I would like to say thank you:

– My husband, Ismael – I’m pretty regularly vocal about how awesome my husband is and that’s a pretty good place to start.  Ismael deserves a pat on the back simply for putting up with me at my worst, which he does with grace and strength, but also for being my co-writer.  I almost feel guilty signing off on anything as purely my work when every single idea goes through an Ismael screener session.  If life was a romantic comedy with me as the lead, you would be my perfectly imperfect love interest and hero.

– My son, Logan – I couldn’t have created a more perfect comedic foil if I had tried.  Though you are only four years old, you already have the makings of an amazingly frustrating teenager and an amazingly lovely human being.  My little smart alec – I’m gonna enjoy every minute of raising you.  Love you!

– My parents, in good times and in bad times, thank you for teaching me to laugh at life and for making me exactly who I am today.  I like me, so that is very important.

– Mel and Jon aka big sis and bro – I could not have asked for a better pair of partners-in-crazy  than you two.  Thank you for taking me to a movie and to get ice cream on the days I decided I was running away from home.  Thank you Mel for planning fight scenes with me in all their ridiculousness and Jon for being my first critic – important lessons were learned.

– D and Kristy for not only being great significant others for my siblings, but for being great friends to me.

– Manny and Helen, Miriam and Luis – Ismael’s screwball family.  I was blessed with you guys.  Every one of you provide your own particular brand of inspiration.  You have no idea.

– Jeannie and Genaro (my sister-in-law and my nephew) – Your strength, determination and your ability to reinvent yourselves at a moments notice makes me realize what people can truly be capable of.  Genaro, even at 14, your physical tenacity is a sight to behold.  You keep chasing your dream like that, I’ll keep learning from you.

– My protege (and Ismael’s), Megan (aka little sis) – That’s right.  I’m going to call you my protege.  Feel free to argue against that, but I like to be dramatic, so that’s what I’m going to call you.  And despite the fact that you can probably kick my ass, I’m gonna keep it up.  (Yes, that IS a challenge.)

– My best friends, Joy and Allegra, who, each in their own way, provide me with support for all of my ills, a shoulder to cry on, someone to celebrate with, and generally act as my saviors in my daily life.  Without you and the boys I would be more of a mess than you think.  Really.

– My online crew.  Though you may rotate in and out of my life, and some of you were once real time friends, but we don’t get much time together anymore (Sean, I’m talkin’ to you!) but one thing remains consistent.  If you are someone who I share more than idle conversation with online, if we have discussed deeper topics, shared more about our families, about our lives, than you have impacted me and my writing world in ways you can not even begin to imagine.  I wish I could teleport to each of your houses and smish you all.  You know who you are.

– My actual work crew.  To Ulana and Karen, Lee and Heather, Carol and Gina, Kathleen, Nicole, and Stephen, to all of my bosses, and all of the people around the office who share with me and provide me with support each and every day.  I know it’s not perfect, but I have been blessed with a workplace where people care, really genuinely care, and that’s tough to come by.

– The rest of the Minners and Manzano families.  Though you are more distant, you guys are always providing me and my husband with love, support, and the occasional character studies. 😉

– Annamarie and Rino, who provide us with the house we live in.  Thanks for seriously being the best homeowners ever.  We owe a lot to you and we know it, and you provide us with a roof over our heads so we can continue doing all of the other stuff we love doing. Plus, your kids are adorable and awesome and you make pretty great friends too!

– Dawn, for taking flawless care of my pride and joy when we can’t be home with him.  You spend so much time with him and play such an important role in raising our son.  We couldn’t have done it without you.  Thank you so much, again, for everything you do, especially as we get him ready for school (GASP!) next year!

– Harvey for giving me my first chance, my first ever fiction publication.  Thank you for seeing the strengths in my story.

– Hannah and the Sucker team, for coaching me as a writer and for welcoming me to join the staff of Sucker Literary.  I love working for the magazine and look forward to next year’s promotion of Issue 3 (and the search for more stories for Issue 4, if you’ll have me).

– And finally, my readers, be it here, the people who retweet and favorite my Work In Progress Quotes on Twitter, the people who follow me on Facebook, the people who post feedback on my fanfiction, or anybody who has looked at my writing online.  You guys keep me doing what I love doing.

It’s been a tremendous year, with lots to appreciate and more than enough joys to be had.

Please pop by again next week for my mid-month post, where I discuss Bad Guys…and how to make them as important to your story as your Hero.

Until then, Happy Holidays!!!