Ch-ch-ch-changes

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Cripes, I’ve been busy. Since the last time I’ve posted I feel like my life has gone from boring to stand-still to FULL THROTTLE. I can’t stop effusing about how happy I am and it’s such a great change, it feels so wonderful, that y’all are just going to have to deal with good-mood Molly.

Let’s see. I guess the last thing I mentioned about life changes was that I’d heard back from grad schools. I was fortunate to get in to every school that I applied to (all three of them), and I settled on Syracuse University where I am happily, besottedly studying Television, Radio, and Film. I’m half-way through the summer semester and head over heels in love with it.

Which means that since my lease in DC ended in May, I have moved twice. First was a short stint at my parents’ house back in Cleveland. It was nice to be home. I think being able to spend some quality time with my family and have some semblance of a summer vacation was the best thing I could have done for my mental health. Then, on the first of July, my Dad and I each packed up a car and I moved to Syracuse, the place that I’ll call home for the next year. My house is super cute, and I’m more than a little in love with the front porch. (I will admit to desperately missing air conditioning.)

Clocking in at eleven months, 160 pages, and 67,000 words, I finished the first draft of That Golf Story. Kate and Bailey kept convincing me to add more make-out scenes, but I am done! It feels great to have another manuscript under my belt and it’s given me a chance to really sit down and focus on editing Delia. I managed to shred the first half and really rebuild it. With 50 pages left to edit, I’ve already cut out 30,000 words. I’m hoping to get the rest done in time to send it to K & B by the end of the month for preliminary feedback.

Life is almost moving too quickly, but I’m loving every second of it. I’d managed to forget that productivity breeds productivity, so after having a quiet six weeks at my parents’ house, I’m getting an absurd amount of work done. Aside from my personal writing projects, I just revised a script that my production class and I will be turning into a short film over the next three weeks. I’ll also be starring in it!

I’ve never felt a closer kinship with my heroine Hermione Granger in my entire life. We’ve been sorted (into production teams), the class selection is so overwhelming I feel like I need a time-turner, my hand snaps into the air at every opportunity, and there’s even a castle-like building on (the surprisingly gorgeous) campus!

Also, I keep forgetting and then remembering that Aaron Sorkin went to school here, and I keep dying little happy deaths. I hope you, too, are having the best July of all time.

What’s Up, Wednesday? //5\\

Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY, which is hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

This weekend I resisted the urge to read fanfiction and knocked out the first 500 pages of Goblet of Fire and started my re-read of Unspoken in preparation for Unmade. This weekend I will be re-reading Raven Boys & Dream Thieves so I can finally sink my teeth into Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

SPEAKING OF, I saw BLLB at an indie in Louisville on Saturday and panicked. So hard. Like, waves of anxiety crashed down upon my mortal frame, and I was a’feared that I would drown. It wasn’t to be released for 3 days. (Happy Book Birthday, BLLB!) I already had an autographed, doodled-in copy on pre-order. Whatever was I to do? One friend suggested buying it and auctioning it, but I decided that was immoral. So instead – maybe proving once and for all that I am not a Gryffindor because I cannot talk to people about how they accidentally put a book on a shelf that shouldn’t have been shelved yet – I chose to simply be happy for whomever is lucky enough to stumble across it.

What I’m Writing

I have now worked on That Golf Story in 4 states, The District, and somewhere in the sky, possibly over Pennsylvania. I have successfully waved goodbye to the 1/3rd mark on this draft!

Even though I’ve been teasing Kate with it for weeks now, I have yet to make the protagonists make out. I have been diligently working towards setting that up, raising the general sexual tension, and introducing conflicts, so there’s that. The prospect of writing such a fun scene is really keeping me motivated, so there’s that.

What Works for Me

I’m constantly trying to find good sources of motivation. Sometimes that’s to stop writing right before a really fun scene so I have something to entice me to sit down and write again soon. Sometimes it’s making a tumblr and fan-casting my characters. At the moment, it is the prospect of Publication Tattoos.

Back in (oh god) December of 2012, I promised myself that if I got my WIP-at-the-time published, I would get a tattoo commemorating it. I didn’t finish the draft until July of this year, but I have a sketch of the tattoo both floating around my head and on a scrap of paper in my apartment. Of all the tattoos I want, it’s the most thought-out. I know what it will be, and where it will be, and I am so, so excited for it. But I won’t get it until that story is published.

So now I’m working on a different WIP, and I’m dreaming up a new tattoo idea. I’m tempting myself. One day this book will be born and it will exist, not just in my mind, but in the world and on my skin. That’s pretty motivational.

Now I just have to think of a good way to make a golf story into a tattoo.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Oh my goodness, I’m surprised I wrote at all last weekend because I was too busy having the perfect day. My friend/roommate Amanda and I went to visit our friend/old roommate Anne who now lives in Louisville. From my inaugural trip to Waffle House, to seeing Blue Lily, Lily Blue in the wild, to knowing that Alabama shut-out Texas A&M to eating Blue Bell with my friends, to having the most amazing coffee ever, and seeing the Avett Brothers live, nothing could compare to being reunited with Anne.

I honestly can’t remember having a better weekend or being happier than the 60 hours I spent in Louisville, and I’m so, so glad I made that trip (and Anne) a priority.

What’s Up, Wednesday? // 3 \\

Well, hello! And let me just say Happy October! That seems to be a thing people are excited about.

Welcome back to WHAT’S UP WEDNESDAY, which is hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. To learn more about it, you should really visit their respective pages. I use it to keep me writing, to make myself think about writing, and to force myself to think positive and find things to look forward to.

What I’m Reading

Oh, boy. I’m in the middle of my Harry Potter re-read that I started at the beginning of the Hogwarts term. (For those Muggles out there – September 1st.) I’m currently in the middle of Prisoner of Azkaban which used to be my favorite of the series. I’m looking forward to finding out whether or not that’s still the case.

On my slate are a few big re-reads of the first two books in quite a few series:

  • The Untold trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan;
  • The Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin; and
  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

in preparation for the third books in each of those series being released. (Yes, I know that Unmade was released in September, but I haven’t had time yet. There’s no time!)

What I’m Writing

I am still steadily plugging along in That Golf Story. I’d say, as of now, I’m about 1/3 of the way in? Maybe? Hopefully. At this rate it will be the shortest ms I’ve ever put together. Which is not a bad thing. So I’ve got about 20k words down. As far as 60k in 60 Days goes, I’m on track. I’m so glad I didn’t pressure myself to do the 60 days consecutively. I’d say I’ve written about 17 days between August 8 – now. My goal is to be done with this draft by Christmas. As the story takes place during the high school golf season, I’ve just (literally just) decided to split the story into three manageable sections – August, September, October – which should help with pacing.

Anyway, I reblogged this excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer quote the other day and it’s been rattling around my head ever since. God, I love Spike. I love Spike the way that I love Jess Mariano, and Logan Echolls, and Damon Salvatore and all of those other bad boys you want to make out with [the heroine] even though he probably wouldn’t make a very good boyfriend IRL. But this quote, this is exactly what I want to evoke between my main character and her arch-nemesis-cum-love interest. It’s just a matter of making the words on the page reflect that feeling.

What Works for Me

Location, Location, Location

I’ve found that I’m at my least productive when I’m trying to write in my apartment. If I’m on the couch, I’ll be too tempted to turn the television on, and my desk chair is too uncomfortable to entice me to work in my room. If I work at the dining room table, I can be convinced to work, but the table’s rarely clean and we don’t have dining chairs, so it’s a whole production.

On the whole, I’m at my most productive when I can get away a little bit. So I pack up my laptop and go to the lobby of my apartment building, or the roof, depending on the weather. The internet is spotty enough that I’m not even tempted to try and connect and when I am there are enough other people milling about that I won’t pull up tumblr for fear of NSFW things on my dash. So I can unplug and write for a few hours before returning to my apartment for nightly TV.

Writing Music

I still (still!) haven’t put together a writing playlist for That Golf Story, but I have a few Songza stations that I listen to – In an LES Dive Bar, Guitars & PBRs, Art School All-Nighter, the Re-Birth of Alt Pop – that feature drums and rock and the kind of music my MC would play when she’s off the course and behind her drum set. Songs that I can zone out to, and nod my head to, and are perfect for me to get some work done.

What Else I’ve Been Up To

Quite a few of my friends have celebrated birthdays recently, so I’ve been going out for drinks and generally helping to celebrate another year of them. I’ve been finalizing my grad school list and plotting to tackle the actual applications without actually doing so.

I’ve also been taking part in my new favorite hobby: shopping for British real estate. I know I can’t actually buy any of those places, but oh boy would it be neat to live in a castle in Scotland or a cozy flat in Brighton, or a renovated church in Sussex.

October is also full of trips and visits with friends and family and I’m so very excited about all of it. Friday morning will see me flying out to Memphis with a few friends, just because! I have no concrete plans while we’re there other than to eat my weight in barbecue and drown myself in booze. I have high hopes that the trip will feel rejuvenating because I really need to get out of town and away from work for a few days.

Fantasy Christmas List

It’s mid-December and I still don’t have a real Christmas list cobbled together, so I thought I’d give you a peek into my fantasy wish list. All of them would be pretty much guaranteed to improve my quality of life, albeit to varying degrees. I’m going to start from the most realistically do-able and move to the more farfetched and fantastical.

  1. The ability to save gifs as phone/computer backgrounds. It is 2013. This seems like the most reasonable request I could make. Soundhound/Grooveshark can exist but this can’t? I think not. I would really like to be able to have a folder of gifs consisting entirely of foxes and Dylan O’Brien that would constantly rotate. This would improve my mood by at least 66% every day, I’m sure. How could I not smile like a loon every time I checked my phone? It would be impossible.
  2. Implantable microchip medical records (e.g. allergies, pre-existing conditions, medications, etc.) Update via wifi or bluetooth or something. I’m sure science could make it happen. Doctors could just scan and go. This would be so overwhelmingly convenient and would save so many lives. It’s ridiculous. Getting hold of medical records in emergency situations can be entirely too difficult between incapacitated patients and frantic EMTs. Realistically, this would probably be mostly used in first world countries, but the global impact is too great to ignore.
  3. Closets like Cher Horowitz’s in Clueless. Seriously, I don’t have time to mix and match the perfect every day for work. It’d be pretty great if I could get a computer to do that for me. It’d be even better if the closet came pre-loaded with clothes I would be guaranteed to like that were also flattering, but that might be a bit of a stretch.
  4. Videoscreen showers. Not, like, a TV in your shower as I’m pretty sure those already exist. Even I think that’s excessive. More like tiles that display images/video. How cool would it be to be in your shower but be in a forest? Or a beach? I don’t know, whatever you find tranquil.
  5. Enchanted windows a la the Ministry of Magic. Imagine being able to set the weather to your mood. My office workspace is in a walled-in area with no natural light. It makes me kind of crazy. And there’s nothing I love more than watching rain/snow, so this should just be a thing already.
  6. Moving tattoos. Listen. I want a tattoo, but what I really want is a moving tattoo. I read an article about a guy with a gif tattoo, which sounds cool, in theory, but then you have to watch it on your phone and I think that kind of defeats the purpose, you know? I don’t want to have to use a phone to see my tattoo. I want it there, on my person. Moving. Preferably to my moods. Like, if I’m restless and I had a fox tattoo it would pace or stamp its foot. Or if I were sleepy it would curl up and take a nap. I just think this would be adorable and awesome.

Basically I just want magic to be real.

Epistolary, Minus the Novel

I cannot, in good conscious, call myself a ditz. I can, however, use many synonyms thereof: scatterbrained, silly, foolish, brainless, capricious, etc. Because I did a thing. Not quite bad enough to be called stupid or negligent, but kind of dumb. Let’s take it back to the beginning.

Maybe it started when I learned to communicate with the world. But that couldn’t be it because I was a painfully shy little girl. (Don’t worry, that didn’t last long. Though my disdain for strangers hasn’t at all diminished.) Or perhaps it was when I learned to read and write in 1995? No, it must have been much later. Surely, it was 2001 when my mother got a job at the local library. Maybe it was an on-going thing, my grandmother faithfully writing me letters throughout my childhood, fostering my love of correspondence. Which explains why, after I stopped writing to my friend sophomore year of college, I have ever since have wanted a new pen pal. Whatever it was, the result is this:

Kristen moved to Portland. One of my best friends moved 3000 miles away and while that was painful, I was happy for her. It was exciting! And I saw an opportunity. I finally had someone I could write letters to again! So a couple weeks ago, I started doing just that. I pestered her and pestered her until she gave me her new address and I started writing letters.

Let me just say, I’m not the best letter-writer. There are a combination of factors: I kind of insist on writing in cursive, I’m not very punctual, and, well, to be honest, there’s not much going on in my life worth writing about. But letters have a kind of magic to them – there’s a reason #4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrrey was filled with scores upon scores of letters instead of the Dursley’s house phone ringing off the hook. There’s something inherently personal about letter writing. They prove that more thought and care has been taken than any other form of communication I can think of. (Except perhaps semaphore. That takes some serious commitment.) Letters are tangible; they have a life to them. They are keepsakes and memories. And it’s a lot more fun to mail your friend weird cut-out news articles than it is to forward it to them via a bit.ly on twitter. Trust me.

[I once mailed my friend Anne a care package that included, among other things, a news clipping about a bear that, after sniffing peanut butter on the steering wheel of a car, got trapped in the drivers seat and rode the car into a ravine. A shallow ravine. More of a ditch, really. Or maybe it drove into a tree? Either way: the bear got into a car accident whilst in the car.]

So, when I have time to kill or when I have something to say, I sit down and write Kristen a letter. I did so a fortnight ago while waiting for a friend so that we could get dinner after work. I sat myself down in a Starbucks, pulled out a pilfered legal pad, and wrote. And when it was time to meet my friend, I absentmindedly tucked the letter into my purse and carried on with my night.

Which would have been fine. It would have been fine except for the fact that I tucked the letter beneath the cover of the book in my purse. The book that was already woefully overdue from the library.

See, here’s the thing. My mother works at the local library back home. Which is great for any number of reasons. For me, it means my library requests are delivered directly to me. It is a library where books can be renewed ad infinitum. And a library at which, for a beautiful decade, I never, ever had to worry about late fees. Which means that I absolutely got into the habit of not worrying about late fees.

So a fortnight ago I had Amanda drop me off at the library, for no other reason than we had possession of her mother’s car that day. I went inside with no other agenda than to return my woefully overdue books, pay my fine, and pick up whatever it was I had on the holdshelf. (A really good haul, actually: Season 1, volume 1 of Everwood; Mo’ Meta Blues by Questlove; The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.) And then I scurried home to hang out with friends. I put it out of my mind, content to watch the perfect double-feature of Bring It On and Pitch Perfect before muting the Bama vs. LSU game and watching a whopping 2.5 hours of Brotherhood 2.0 on my laptop.

Out of sight, out of mind I guess. Which is why it took a day for me to realize that, d’oh!, I had absolutely slipped Kristen’s letter into one of the books that I had returned to the library. But our library is closed on Sundays, so it was a waiting game. But then it was closed on Monday as well, for Veteran’s Day. I would have been bothered, except for the fact that the library being closed meant there was no way the book I had left the letter in had been checked out or shipped off to another patron or branch.

So, Tuesday after work I marched myself to the library and made a beeline to the stacks, intent on emerging victorious, Kristen’s letter safe in my clutches. But when I got to the shelf, the copy of the book (The Age of Miracles, which I didn’t get more than 20 pages into) I picked up didn’t have my letter. It did, however, have a reminder for some woman’s (I’m assuming it was a woman’s) OB/GYN appointment. I slipped it back on the shelf and went up to the circulation desk.

The guy working was the most helpful. Every other time I’ve been into the library I’ve had an elderly woman helping me, but this time it was a middle-aged dude. I explained my predicament, and told him how the book was from this branch but not currently on the shelf and he dug around in the back and FOUND IT. He returned with the letter. I thanked him profusely and may have done a happy dance. I left with a smile and a few more DVDs.

So today, at long last, Kristen’s letter was mailed. It’s already been through quite the adventure. I hope it has a good transcontinental journey as well.

Pretty Perfect Weekend

If you know anything about me, you will recognize that this weekend was maybe the most quintessential Molly weekend I could have had. Despite my plans for a Harry Potter movie marathon in a blanket fort with pizza aplenty falling through, I still had a pretty excellent weekend. Here’s what went down:

Friday: Y’all know my feelings about my job, so I was pretty excited to get home on Friday and just veg, especially after the mini freak-out on the Metro platform about leaving my Kindle at the office. So when I got home Amanda and I caught up on The Mindy Project before Megan came over and we watched Perks of Being a Wallflower. Full disclosure – I never finished the book. I had been reading it over a break from school, but I had to go back and the library loan was up, and I just never got around to finishing. And you know what? I’m not that broken-hearted over it because while I found the main character in the book to be almost unbearably naive, I thought the movie was really well done. The acting was fantastic, especially Ezra Miller, but Logan Lerman, as well. Not finishing the book meant that I was genuinely surprised about the plot-twist and ending of the movie, which I hadn’t predicted at all. I enjoyed it. After the movie I retreated to my room and hammered out a few more pages on my most recent WIP. Oh, and of note I recently passed the 50,000 word mark for the first time in any WIP. I’m pretty excited about it.

Saturday: I’ve lived in my new place for four months, so I figured it was about time to visit the library. It’s only a ten minute walk, door to door! The path includes cutting through a park! It was all very exciting. The local branch of the library looks kind of sad, both inside and out. Just, severely outdated, a weird floorplan, and a lot of different shades of beige. I did really enjoy the Nerdfighter poster in the YA section (but not so much the admin sign that read “this area is reserved for teens (and their guardians)”. Were they trying to intimate that I’m too old to be reading YA? Because you’re never too old to be reading YA). I ended up getting a lot of titles I hadn’t been able to download from the library’s e-catalog for my Kindle. I ended up walking home with 5 books (4 YA and one adult, just in case the circulation assistant made a fuss). When I got back to the apartment Amanda and Megan had already started the re-re-re-watch of Star Trek: Into Darkness. When that ended, I made a batch of cookies and settled in to watch the Bama / Texas A&M game (Roll Tide!). After that I ended up going on an impromptu, and pretty short, midnight monument tour. By pretty short I mean we basically went to the Lincoln and lounged in the back, where we spent an hour laying down, trying to figure out which of the 5 visible lights in the sky were stars, and which were airplanes. Round-trip was less than two hours.

Sunday: A lazy day. I slept in, made a giant egg sandwich for lunch, continued my Greek marathon before switching over to re-watch season one of The Vampire Diaries. I’ve seen most of Greek already, and all of TVD, so I kept busy by starting a new book (The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater). Reading was interrupted when a friend that happens to live in my apartment building called me from her sister’s phone and asked me to drive her into the city so that she could pick up her phone which she had left at a bar. Upon my return, I climbed back into my hammock and watched the Season 2 finale of The Newsroom, which resulted in a lot of Tina Belcher noises (see below). Then read until I fell asleep.

That was my weekend: baking, books, football, movies, television marathons, and weird road-trip-y favors for friends. It was a nice, low-key weekend before the craziness of this weekend which will feature out of town guests and FreeFest.

Now enjoy a song that was stuck in my head all weekend:

Blanket Fort Manifesto

On those hot, blustery days where the heat index tops out at 108 and you’re stuck in a dorm room, chilled to the bone thanks to the cranky thermostat you’re afraid to turn up in case you’ll never feel cool again, you need something to do. And it doesn’t matter that it’s Harry Potter Weekend, because that happens at least once a month and, besides, you can stream those movies online any damn time you want. What you can’t do any time is build a blanket fort. That requires a significant surplus of free time, an amenable roommate, and a damn good reason to not set foot outdoors for at least a few hours.

I firmly believe that you’re never too old for a blanket fort. What is a better well of childhood nostalgia? The only thing better about building blanket forts at 21 instead of 8 is that now your juice boxes can be alcoholic. But of course a blanket fort, like every good compound, needs a set of rules to operate by. With no further ado, the Blanket Fort Manifesto:

1)    On Construction:

  1. Exterior

i.     Though called a blanket fort, the actual materials used to construct the fortress can include: blankets, comforters, sheets, quilts, and throws. Pillows are acceptable, but should be limited to increasing comfort of in-fort activities (see section 3). And remember, a successful fort is one that blocks most, but not necessarily all, ambient light from outside of your citadel.

ii.     Be smart when deciding on where to place your fort. If possible, it should be in the living room. However, if you are living in a dorm room, that might be impossible. If able, you should place your fort in the same room as a television. Then again, we live in the age of streaming video, so this isn’t really as necessary as it was a decade ago. You can just fire up your laptop and pull up your Netflix Instant. But don’t be that guy. You’re in it for the nostalgia, right? Hunker down with some of your favorite Disney movies. Your neck cramps won’t last forever.

iii.     A blanket fort need not be a free-standing structure. Acceptable supports include, but are not limited to: couches, beds, chairs, desks, and dressers.

iv.     Under no circumstances are you to use tape, glue, yarn, thread, clips, etc. to fasten blankets together. You’re better than that.

2.  Interior

i.     Comfort is the name of the game. Sleeping bags, couch cushions, and pillows can all be considered fair game.

ii.     Proper lighting is important. As you don’t want a lot of ambient light filtering through your blankets and into the interior of your fort (that would show shoddy craftsmanship), you may find yourself wanting to see once you’re inside. As good at setting an atmosphere as candles can be, they’re fire hazards. Act accordingly. Battery powered lanterns, strategically placed flashlights, or that Yule log youtube video are excellent alternatives.

3.  Location

i.     Blanket forts are most successful when built as an excuse to stay indoors. Periods of excessive heat or cold are perfect reasons. Doesn’t the thought of cozying up inside a blanket fort in the wake of a thunderstorm/blizzard/heat wave sound fantastic?

2)    On the admission policy

  1. Be exclusive. You want your fort to be the coolest place you’ve ever imagined. Those daydreams you had of tree houses way back in the sixth grade? Well unless you’re the coolest parent ever, you probably don’t have one waiting in your future. This is your chance, buddy! Go crazy. It should be a privilege, nay an honor, to be invited into your fort. Invite visitors accordingly.
  2. Listen, this is your fort, your sanctuary. It’s a given that it will have limited square-footage that will rival the studio apartment you’re barely able to afford. Ergo, you can be as picky as you want. No boys allowed? Fine. No girls allowed? Okay then. No redheads? I don’t know who in their right mind would make that call, but sure, if that’s how you feel.

3)    Acceptable In-Fort Activities

  1. Marathon movies and television shows. It’s absolutely a great idea.
  2. Cuddle. Admit it, a blanket fort is a small, cozy, dare I say intimate space. Chances are you can’t fit more than two people inside without resorting to close human contact regardless. It’s nice to cuddle with a good friend or significant other. But listen, you’re not a little kid anymore so if you want to make out in your blanket fort, go for it. Who’s going to stop you?
  3. Tell stories. Share your favorite misadventures, wait until 2am and make up scary ghost stories, reminisce about the recent past, and enrapture your friends with those wacky urban legends only people from your lost-on-the-map hometown have ever heard of.
  4. Play videogames. Scavenge your old Gameboy and pop in that Pokémon Blue you’ve been meaning to beat for a decade now. Set up the N64, crack a beer, and play Mario Kart. Let your boyfriend teach you how to play that first-person shooter you’ve never heard of before.
  5. Read. What a novel idea. Crack open a well-loved book or break the spine of a new one. Utilize your local library, or borrow a dog-eared, marked-up beater from a friend. Trudge your way through a classic or breeze through an easy-read. It doesn’t matter if you’re picking up a piece of literature you never actually got around to reading in high school English or that new Fug Girls book (which is great, btw), the point is you’re reading. I can’t endorse this activity enough.

4)    Deconstruction

  1. Set a time limit for your fort. Preferably no longer than 48. The fact that you only have so long to enjoy it makes your haven all the more magical. Nothing good lasts forever, right? Besides, if properly constructed, your fort is taking up a significant portion of your living space. You’ll probably be too tired come Monday morning to want to take precious time navigating your way around it while trying not to be late for work.