Friday, December 9, 2011

Potential vlogger here

I have been contemplating the idea of video-blogging, and why I should or should not give it a try.


1. I love to talk about things I love, as long as I have time to prepare what I'm going to say and as long as people are listening. While I am not the best speaker in "real life," that is usually because I get really nervous and over-analyze everything I'm trying to say. Video would prevent that and give me an outlet. I don't do a lot of talking in real life.

2. I love watching Youtube videos and want to be more of a participant.


1. I tend to be better at written communication than spoken. I like to use good grammar and vocabulary and sentence structure, and I think I do a decent job of this in writing, but when I am talking to someone, I am always afraid they will think I'm pretentious for using big words or placing my prepositions in the correct place in the sentence instead of leaving them dangling at the end. Plus, I feel pretentious, because I usually say one really great sentence and follow it up with something so unintelligible that the contrast is embarrassing; it makes it look like I don't actually know what I'm talking about, but I'm trying to sound smart.

2. I am terrified of rejection. 

Anyway, what I have been considering doing is making a video or a series of videos that attempt to explain punctuation rules in an interesting way. While I have been working as a tutor, I have come up with a couple of different ways of explaining things depending on the level of the person I am tutoring. They seem to work most of the time. I think making a video would help me refine my teaching methods and also give me helpful feedback on whether or not they work. What do you guys think?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

*A door creaks open*

Everyone has a world inside their head. Probably more than one. There are ways of getting from one world to another, but some of them are limited. You can take something from the physical world, for example, and use it to furnish the world in your head. The doors into your mind from the physical world are your senses... sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell.

You can even transport items or people from the world in your mind into someone else', whether through spoken word, fiction, sign language, poetry, television, etc. There are many doors between minds.

When you read a book, a door is opened wide between your mind and the author's. These doors are outside of time. You can have a direct connection to the mind of someone long dead.

The only door that either does not exist or simply can never be opened in this life is the door leading from your mind into the world. Once you have created something in the world in your mind, it is trapped. It can never enter the physical world. It can never make its own decisions. You have created a prisoner.

The only freedom available to your creations is access to the doors between minds. If you die without opening the doors, your creations will die with you. So don't be afraid to open the doors. Write books or songs or poetry or television, tell people your thoughts, and doors will be opened that may last forever.

As you have read this blog post, a door was opened between my mind and yours. This door transcends the bounds of time. I am writing these very words at 4:45 on Wednesday the 23rd. You are reading them at some point in the future. That is the power of language.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Great Book List--book reviews

This summer I posted a page called The Great Book List, which is a list of all the books I would like to have read by next year. Since then, I have read three of those books: Macbeth, The Great Gatsby, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Macbeth is dark. It is full of murder and horribly unhappy people. It is a Shakespearian tragedy that doesn't give you any characters to like and wish to have a happy ending. However, this darkness is part of what makes it a brilliant play. Unlike most stories, this play is about the villain. Macbeth, along with his wife, is a man who allows bitterness and greed and a lust for power to not only control him, but become him. He falls into temptation, and at first what he is doing horrifies him, but soon he accepts it and eventually it defines him. This is a powerful story. When something becomes part of your life, it becomes a piece of your definition of "normal." In this story, a pattern of destruction and death becomes Macbeth's "normal," and he reaps the consequences of that.

Macbeth may be dark, but it is beautifully written. Here are Macbeth's conclusions near the end of the novel, when the things he has done finally turn against him. 
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
 I don't believe this view of life, but I believe that Macbeth believes it, and that makes it important. Shakespeare gives us a door into this character's head and shows us exactly what it feels like to be completely lost.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby sort of danced by me in a whirlwind of color and noise, like one of Gatsby's parties. There is something important going on beneath the surface, but I forget to find it because I am distracted by the shiny things.

This book has been called a "love letter to the 1920s," but I think the author has already seen through the artifices of Gatsby's hopelessly nostalgic attitude and is trying to lead the reader to the same conclusion. Gatsby is trying to reinvent himself, to write a new past for himself in the present. He is so focused on becoming Gatsby and getting Daisy back, that he doesn't see what is going on beneath the surface. He doesn't see that he doesn't love Daisy, he loves the idea of Daisy with all her sparkle and a voice that "sounds like money."

The last sentence in the novel reflects this attitude of relentless nostalgia: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

While somewhat difficult to understand due to the phonetic dialect, the original unabridged version of this book is worth reading. After a chapter or two, you will get used to the writing style, and the story benefits from being written this way.

There is a lot that happens in this book that I don't fully understand yet, because I went through it so fast. What I do want to talk about is the ending. I had heard that Mark Twain got sick of writing this book and rushed the ending, and this may or may not be true. What the ending does do is make me hate Tom Sawyer. I am not sure what Twain intended by the way he wrote these last chapters, but it left me with an extreme dislike of Tom Sawyer, and a nagging shame for Huckleberry Finn for following him. I cannot decide if their pranks in the last chapter were supposed to seem funny, cruel, or both. I can't find anything funny about the pranks of two boys causing needless suffering for another person, and I think perhaps that was Twain's underhanded jab at other children's literature of the time.

What do you think about the last chapters of Huckleberry Finn?

Any thoughts on the other books I reviewed?


Monday, November 7, 2011

50 people, 500 words

One day in creative writing class, one of my class mates raised her hand and asked, "How many characters should you have in one piece? Are there any rules about that?"

And my teacher replied, "There aren't any rules--you can have as many characters as you want. Just be careful that the audience can keep track of them. Too many characters can become boring--for instance, you probably wouldn't want to squeeze 50 characters into... 500 words."

He was using hyperbole when he said this, because no writer was going to try to fit 50 different people into only 500 words.

I, however, chose to ignore the hyperbole.

I took his statement as a personal challenge to my skills.

So,without further ado, here are 500 words about 50 people in a restaurant eating Saturday brunch.

The gentleman in an outdated suit rants politics at the girl who smiles, all except her eyes. The biker scowls at the girl as he leaves. He ran away from home and drunken wife.
The mother of five is reading Stephen King. Her oldest boy plots to startle her. Her five year old refuses to speak to the brunette cheerleader with a blinding smile.
A librarian who secretly loves parkour enters primly next to a skater-boy who claims he never reads.
His sisters trail behind; twins, hand in hand. One hates being a twin but will never tell. The other silently guesses this.
The crazy cat lady, all alone, doesn’t actually own cats. The freshman, one table over, knows this but taunts her anyway.
His friend, the sophomore, is cruel because his mother is drunk because her husband ran away.
The jock hides behind teasing and wishes she knew, but the blonde isn’t flirting, she’s being polite.
Two scrabble-players deliberate in icy silence.
A tomboy scorns the blonde for flirting and scorns herself for not knowing how. Her boyfriend is thinking but doesn’t say how glad he is to have her.
The cat lady’s grandson comes to her defense. She didn’t want him to.
Pink hair covers one book-lover’s eyes. She wants to talk to the mother of five but doesn’t.
A skinny girl meets her sister. She is self-conscious. Her sister is chubby and okay with it and happy. Their brother enters, covered in tattoos. The librarian leaves before he can recognize her.
A schoolmate sees the twins, but can’t tell them apart so doesn’t acknowledge them. His father reads the paper. His mother sits sighing, vying for attention.
A group of friends laugh from the corner. A boy who likes his sister’s best friend is trying too hard. The sister and the other boy share a glance. Everyone knows but the one who should.
The overworked waiter is about their age. They ignore him. His coworker sees and decides to misplace their food. She smiles at him but he is tired.
The manager tries to calm the political man as he raves.
The cat lady’s boyfriend comes to get her in a jeep. Pink hair brushes past him. No one sees her leave.
One of the scrabble players is cheating.
A person at a middle table scribbles notes on a napkin. A bearded man nearby wonders what but never asks. His mom finally shows up, half an hour late on his birthday. She forgot. He worries.
The hostess’ smile is empty. She wonders how long she can hide her pregnancy. The busboy with a crush sees her fear. He spills on an elderly woman no one noticed until now.
Three cooks are shouting over misplaced food.
A toddler presses his face against the glass partition. The twelve year old on the other side who always wanted a brother does the same and gets yelled at by his flustered single father.  His soul mate walks in. He doesn’t notice.

I didn't intend for this to be so depressing when I took the challenge, but it occurred to me that people tend to focus on themselves and ignore the people around them. There are people you encounter every day who have things going on in their lives right now--good things or bad things, and you never stop to think about what those things are or the little ways you can help them.

When I was in Florida, (I went to Florida to stay with my Aunt for two weeks and did all kinds of Flordian things by myself and forgot to tell you people anything about it. Oops.) I went to an Ihop by myself to get lunch and met a waitress who told me she had stopped at the dollar store the night before and someone had mugged her in the parking lot and stolen her purse. She was really freaked out about this and unsure of what she was going to do about her credit cards and everything, but she also told me that her daughter had shown up unexpectedly for a visit that morning. She hadn't seen her in months because they lived in separate states and couldn't afford to travel much. She was so upset by one event and so thrilled by the other, that she couldn't help but share them with me, a perfect stranger, and my life was made more rich by finding out about her life. I saw through someone else's eyes for a moment. I felt the excitement and joy with her of a perfectly timed visit from someone she loves, right when life seemed like it was out to get her.

There is a point to this. We need to be aware of the people around us, even the ones with whom we feel we have nothing in common. They have hopes and loves and hates and horrors going on in their lives as you do in yours. Life is about finding the connections.


Thursday, November 3, 2011


Basically, that is how my novel is coming along.

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo! (Beautiful People)

Georgie Penn is doing a special NaNoWriMo edition of her "beautiful people" tag,* so I thought I would participate. I would have done it sooner, but I literally did not know what I was writing about until just now. Yes, I am aware that NaNoWriMo begins in three hours. I am not a very plan-y person.

*I would link the awesome "beautiful people" badge, but A: I am lazy, and B: I have two and a half hours to plan a novel.

1. Sum up your novel in five words, or less.

Misguided steampunk knight gets lost.

2. Novel title?

Prophecies are Sometimes Wrong*

*Not really, but I haven't named it yet so this will be the working title.

3. Sum up your main character(s) in one word.

I don't know yet.

4. Advice for newbies in three words?


*I use a short term reward system because I am impatient... every paragraph or so I get another M&M or Skittle.
**I recommend writing 2,000 words a day instead of 1,667, both because it is easier to remember and because you will love the extra words around the end of week two.

5. Tell us about your secondary characters, how do they affect the story?

Well, I haven't exactly fleshed them out yet. I know the main character will team up with at least two or three other people who may or may not be insane, and some of whom have their own enemies to deal with.

6. Do you plan on staying up till midnight on the 31st?


7. How many years have you done NaNo?

This will be my fourth year. I won the first two and didn't finish last year. Hopefully this one will be more successful.

8. What came first, characters, or plot idea?

Let me show you the first thing I jotted in my notebook about ten minutes ago. These are pretty much my first thoughts, word-for-word.

Maybe a story of someone who is proficied to be "the one" who is completely not the one. Gets lost on his way to the battlefront to save the day; has adventures along the way while constantly hearing news of battles being won without him. Ends up finding a different quest and meeting lots of friends. Maybe one of the friends has an enemy?

**written sideways next to this** Set in kinda a steampunk King Arthur's world.

Okay, truthfully, this is all I have written down.

9. How much prep do you do before November?


10. Now be honest, how do you really feel about NaNo?

Today, as I was thinking about the fact that it starts tonight, I said to myself, out loud, "Are you insane?!"

And yet I am still attempting it.

In my opinion...

Sometimes I realize that my opinions are not the solid ground I thought I was standing on, but are closer akin to childhood toys: played with, rejected, loved, discarded, changed to have snazzy asymmetrical haircuts and crookedly home fashioned clothes, or kept, in the original box, with the original accessories, gathering dust as though I were still a child of ten who is obsessed with Babysitter Barbie’s lime green blow-up plastic babysitting chair.

And this terrifies me.

Sometimes I realize that I am holding an opinion the way I would realize that I am standing in the middle of the street holding someone else’s wombat—there is no logical reason for it, I’m not entirely sure where it came from and it could kill me, not out of malice, but simply because of its basic nature.

Sometimes I realize I am holding an opinion on one hand, and holding an opposite opinion on the other hand, as if I have eaten my cake and yet still possess it—something I acknowledge I am doing while at the same time asserting it to be impossible, creating a logical paradox that I could never possibly understand while holding a wombat.

And sometimes I realize that when I analyze my opinions, I begin to liken them to dolls and small furry creatures and baked goods to try to fathom what it is I am doing with them. But these analogies are not enough. An opinion is something that is driving my actions and controlling where I go, whether I am aware or not—something large and full of explosives. That is why the closest I can come to describing the danger of holding opinions is being a Babysitter Barbie lime green blow-up plastic babysitting chair obsessed ten year old holding a wombat in one hand and eating cake with the other, blissfully unaware of the fact that she is in sole control of a battle tank on full throttle.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Be a ninja

Okay, I was recently convicted about the fact that I believe in certain things but I wasn't doing anything about those beliefs. I realized that part of the problem is that in order to do anything big, it helps to have a network of other Christians.

Then I thought, we are living in a world where everything is connected via the internet. Why aren't Christians using the internet more fully to organize and fellowship and just be connected to one another?

So I started a website specifically for that purpose. Please join and read the "about" page and add stuff and let me know what you think could be better.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life vs. the Internet

I spent the past week without the internet. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

See, sometimes I start spending more and more time on the internet, doing things that just waste my time. I have active accounts on Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Protagonize, Pinterest and Polyvore. Just checking them is a time eater, and once you are on they suck you in and you end up spending hours.

Sometimes it begins to feel like your online identity is who you really are, that the internet is real life, and everything else you do is just what you're doing when you're not on the internet.

I decided last week that I don't want my life to revolve around computers, I want the internet to be something I use occasionally when I'm not out living my life. 

Here's some stuff I learned this week:

My life doesn't require the internet. I did hop on maybe twice for school assignments, but I didn't look at any of my favorite websites. I didn't even really miss it. It was almost a relief to have more time for other things without feeling like I could be on Facebook and was missing out.

Life is fantastic all on its own. There is plenty to do without getting on the computer. I read about three books this week. I haven't been doing much reading lately and it was nice to get back into it. I forgot how much I adore books. 

My family won't leave me in the dark about important things. I didn't miss out as much as I thought I would. One of my biggest reasons (excuses) to get on Facebook and Twitter every day was to see what all my friends and family are up to. I got back on today and I honestly hadn't missed very much. There was only one or two things I really needed to know right away and my family told me about them when they happened.

There is nothing prettier than a ripe cornfield, russet-gold against a blue sky. I have a new habit of taking the back roads whenever I can, because I can. It may take a few minutes longer, but I had extra time this week that I wasn't spending in front of the computer.

I found myself noticing things for their own sake, not as a potential status update, tweet or blog post. I used to think, "that was funny, I should remember that for when I get on Twitter later." It's more fun to be able to laugh enthusiastically and relax, with no pressure to remember what was so funny so you can share it with your world.

Anyway, I just thought I would share my revelations with you. I will be on the internet now, but I am still going to try not to make a habit of it. I want to make a habit of living a real life.


Monday, September 12, 2011

There's always today

I love the idea of today.

Most people love the idea of tomorrow, the promise of the future with all of its sparkle and shiny things, and they say that "there's always tomorrow," "the sun'll come out tomorrow," you can believe in tomorrow. I prefer to believe in today.

Because, when you think about it, tomorrow doesn't happen without today. What we do today changes tomorrow, and today would have been completely different if people had made different choices yesterday.

That idea sounds daunting at first, and extremely intimidating. It makes you stop and think about what you're doing, because anything can make a difference.

Today, as I was walking out of class, one of the other students made eye contact, smiled at me, and continued with her life. It may not have seemed like a big deal, but sometimes it takes one smile to make you realize how few smiles are exchanged at eight o'clock on a Monday morning. It made my morning better and I made a conscious effort to smile at other students on my way out.  If my smile inspired each of them to smile at others, then that one girl who decided to smile at someone on a Monday morning potentially made it a better Monday morning for dozens of people. Little gestures like that tend to have a ripple effect.

See what I mean about the actions of one person making a difference?

Now, there are two conflicting ideas about how today affects tomorrow. The first idea is what I've been saying, that everything we do today makes the future better or worse. The other idea is "don't sweat the small stuff." You have to take the long view and stop worrying about the little things because in twenty years it won't make a difference in your life. This theory comes in handy when you are having a bad hair day, or when you do something particularly stupid. It's nice to think that with time, everyone will forget about you tripping down the stairs or having something stuck in your teeth.

The beauty of it, and the reason that I really love the idea of today, is that both of these theories work. Smiling at someone will definitely brighten up their day, and may lead to them brightening up other people's days, which may lead to the whole world being just a little brighter, but chances are that the original smile will eventually be forgotten, along with the things you want people to forget. The person who received the smile may not even remember why their morning suddenly got better.

This should not be a discouraging thought. It just means that we get to live in a world where you can do stupid things and no one will hold them against you, and if you choose to make the most of your todays, you get to live in the tomorrow you helped create. Even if no one remembers your smile brightening their day, you will know that when someone smiles at you the next day, it could be part of the ripple effect you put in motion.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I've come to a point where I'm just mature enough to realize that I am still immature in many, many ways. For example, I have always tended to think that whatever I'm interested in at that very moment must be the coolest thing to be interested in. I've been really into Doctor Who (British science fiction show) lately, and now when I meet someone who has never heard of it I am inevitably surprised by the fact. There is no reason for everyone in the world to suddenly know about this TV show just because I really like it. In fact, a few months ago, I had never heard of it.

I guess the fact that I'm realizing that I do this is a good sign. I've been consciously trying not to think of myself as the center of everything now.

Another random thought... why do we think of time as being linear when almost everything else in nature is kinda circular? The water cycle is a circle: water evaporates and turns into clouds then turns into rain and fills the lakes and oceans and then evaporates and starts over. The seasons are circular as well. It is always the same pattern every year, with spring, summer, autumn and winter repeating themselves. If that is a pattern found throughout nature, could time have some circular elements as well?

Just speculating. Even though time travel is inherently paradoxical, it is fun to think about the possibilities.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011


I am getting on Polyvore quite a lot now. I have some fashion sets and a bunch of Doctor Who related sets, if you're interested in checking it out.

My style

Well, hello there

So, I kept thinking about posting on here, but I couldn't think of anything that I wanted to write about. And then the more I hesitated, the harder it became to break the cycle of thinking that led me to skip getting on here when I thought about it.

I even started to question whether I needed to keep this blog going at all.

But, you know what? I love to write. I can't survive long without writing down my thoughts somewhere or another, and my notebooks fill up too fast. Writing is part of me, and this blog is a good outlet for that, so it stays.

I can't promise consistent, interesting or even logical posts, but I will be posting.

So long, but not for too long,


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Tesla Project- part four

They arrived as the first light of dawn seeped over the edge of the world. Abby blinked awake at the crunch of wheels on sand. The car had pulled off the road among some ruins; Remnants of wooden and stone buildings in various states of collapse. They parked between two of these crumbling structures, somewhat concealed in the low morning shadow. 

“Where are we?” Abby asked, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. 

“Tempiute,” he said, “It’s an old mining town from the late 1800’s.”

He got out of the car and went to the trunk and Abby unbuckled and followed. He pulled out a folded sheet of textured desert camo and started to put over the car. Abby grabbed a corner to help him. 

“So what’s the plan?” 

He tossed the last corner over the car and brushed the dust from his hands. “One of those might be nice to have,” he smiled. “I know how to get inside, but past that it’s all pretty vague. We need to find out who is in charge of The Tesla Program and why they are suddenly in a hurry.”

“That sounds like a plan to me.”

“That’s an objective, not a plan.”

They walked up a little ways through the stone foundations of a long-gone town. The side of the slope was covered in loose rock and it slid and skittered as they climbed. Abby could see the mine entrance, a gaping black square against the next hill. A piece of the railroad was still there, leading into the mine. 

“I have to warn you,” he said. “It’s a long walk through a dark hallway.”

The instant they walked into the mine the air temperature dropped. It smelled like mold and rust. They went straight to the back wall of the room, which was covered in boards. The mine shaft curved sharply to the right, but Xander was looking at the wall. He ran his hands along the damp, rotting wood. 

CREAK. He slowly pulled open a door that was hidden in the wall and pulled out a flashlight he had stashed in his jacket. Abby peered in over his shoulder as he flashed the light down the long stone hallway. It was a perfect square, big enough for two people side by side, cut straight through the rock for miles. 

“Here it is,” he said. “The path of good intentions.” 

“It feels warmer in there.”

“That’s the air from the base,” he said. 

They stepped inside and he closed the rickety wooden door behind them. They started down the hallway, their footsteps hollow, echoing against the walls. The tunnel was warm and dry and silent. Sanctuary.
A few steps further, the illusion of sanctuary vanished. A siren bristled through the air, screaming at them. It echoed along the length of the tunnel until there were thousands of voices wailing. Xander grabbed Abby’s arm and whipped her around, pulling her back to the door. They burst through and sprinted for the car. Too late. 

A white SUV was parked just outside the mine entrance. Two bland-faced men with guns pointed, wearing desert camo. The faint pounding of an approaching helicopter. The distant sirens calling across the mountains.
They put their hands up. 

“That wasn’t there last time I came through.” Xander said.

Of course there would be security in the mine shaft. Maybe this guy was just delusional after all. 

“Yeah? When was that?” She challenged him. 



“Well, this is another way to get inside, I suppose,” he said.

She glared at him.

Ordinarily, a helicopter ride is a wonderful experience. Ordinarily, the headphones block out some of the noise and the view is incredible. 

Abby had no headphones. She covered her ears with her hands but the noise level was still intense. The only view she had was of three grim faces staring her down over three glinting gun barrels. She was also sitting in a tight space, leaning against Xander, whom she was not happy with at the moment. The trip felt much longer than the hour it was in reality. 

Before they touched down the men covered their heads with black hoods. Maybe to prevent them from seeing anything sensitive, maybe to rush them straight to their executions. When they touched ground there was a commotion and they were bundled out of the helicopter only to be handcuffed by more men, the helicopter blades still whirring. Abby was jerked away by one guard, at least two others walking by her side. They entered a building, then a small room. They stopped. A door slid shut. The floor shifted and her stomach flopped. It was an elevator. 

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Wherever they were now, it was silent. It felt empty and expansive, their footsteps echoing across the floor. Abby was shuffled into a room and pushed into a wooden chair. Her captors left and closed the door.

There is no way to know how long she waited in the dark. She thought she had been forgotten. Dark is a word indivisible by three. The hood was scratchy around the ears and it smelled like it had been left in a drawer for fifty years. Would she be left in this room for fifty years?

The door slammed open and Abby jumped. Someone stumbled into the room, crashing into something and falling to the floor. The door shut and the person immediately scrambled towards her from the floor. Her hood was pulled off and there was a gentle hand on the side of her head. Abby blinked rapidly, eyes acclimating to the light. 

Xander was kneeling next to her. He had a bruise on his cheekbone and a cut just above his eye. A rivulet of blood was dripping down the side of his pale face. No handcuffs on him. There was a black metal collar snapped around his neck. 

“They didn’t hurt you?” he asked, “You’re okay?”

Abby nodded. 

The door slowly opened, creaking in the silence. Footsteps approached, slow and deliberate, echoing in the large room outside the door. A man appeared, framed in the doorway, a man with strange, piercing brown eyes and a thin angular face. His hair was slicked down, parted to the side. He stared at Xander, hands crossed behind his back.

Xander stared back, his white face going even whiter. There was a silent moment before Xander recovered his composure. “So you accomplished your goal after all,” he spat at him. 

A bitter smile curled the edges of the man’s mouth. “We still have things in common, I see,” he spoke with a heavy accent, maybe German. “This life does not appeal to either one of us.”

“You did this to yourself. Live with it.”

The man laughed loudly, then stepped closer, eyeing Abby for the first time but still speaking to Xander. “I do not have to ‘live with it’ for any longer. I will reverse it, but I must find the right subject.”

Xander was shaking with anger. “You are killing the best minds in the country to correct a mistake, a mistake I warned you of. If you’re suffering because of it, you deserve it.”

The man stared Xander in the eye. “I’m not the only one suffering,” his voice was subdued. He contemplated Xander’s face. “No, you wish to die as much as I do.” Xander’s eyes faltered and he stared at his hands, streaks of blood from touching his head. The man observed his hesitancy. “Are you not willing to make some sacrifices to end this? This endless empty existence. Everything good requires sacrifice.”

Xander glanced up at Abby, his eyes dark. Eyes that had seen too much. “I can make any sacrifice needed of me. I can’t sacrifice other people. It isn’t my decision to make.”

The man smiled, cruel and cold. “I see that you do not understand quite yet. You made that decision for these people a long time ago. Alexander, your brain is the one I needed. You knew this, and yet you ran. I could have reversed it. No one else would have had to die.”

“You know why I ran.”

“I know that these people are dead because of your weakness.”

“Do it, then,” Xander stood. “Reverse it now. Let Abigail go and any others you haven’t murdered yet, and you can use me.”

“Oh, I will be using you, but no one is leaving just yet. What would I use as leverage if your sweetheart goes home safe? Pardon,” he addressed the guards outside the door, “Take the little girl to a holding cell in Deep Nine.”

A burly man in an ill-fitting suit entered, and the black hood was shoved back over her head. He jerked her to her feet and dragged her to the door. 

“Everything will be okay, I’ll find you,” Xander said just before she was pulled away.

Soon I will do a real post on here, I promise. For now, enjoy this section of The Tesla Project and check out if you haven't already!


Thursday, July 14, 2011


Hey, guess what?

Protagonize: featured author

I'm a featured author on Protagonize, a website that is awesomely fun. You can write solo stories or collaborate with other authors.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rain, rain, don't go away

There was a thunderstorm this morning. I love thunderstorms, especially during the day. Unfortunately, I've been sick, so I slept in. I still got to hear the thunderstorm, but my favorite thing is to sit on the kitchen couch by the window with a cup of coffee and watch the wind blow the pin oaks in the front yard. Or, to sit upstairs somewhere so I can hear the rain on the roof while I read a book.

Speaking (writing?) of books, you may have noticed a new button at the top of my blog. It is called "The Great Book List," and is a list of books that I feel like I ought to read before going to school for literature. These are books I will probably encounter in my classes, and I think a familiarity with them will save me time later. I am currently reading The Great Gatsby, and I must say it is a lot more entertaining than I would have expected, and the style is more modern than I thought.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Tesla Project- part three

Part one
The night was restless. Abby woke several times, and every time she looked Professor James was sitting up in the chair. He had a small light, and she heard the rustle of paper. Was he reading a book at 3:48 in the morning? 

The smell of coffee woke her. Abby sat up and rubbed her eyes. The clock said 9:16. There was a tray on the side table with scrambled eggs, bacon, an English muffin. A steaming cup of coffee was nearby with a tiny parade of creamer and sugar, ready for her choosing. 

Professor James was still sitting up. He was leaning his chair against the wall and eating breakfast. 

“Good morning,” He said. “That tray is for you if you’re hungry.” 

Abby was hungry, but she wasn’t sure she could eat. Her stomach clenched and rebelled. She started with the coffee to wake up, leaning back against the headboard. He sat slowly eating, giving her time to adjust.
Abby wondered if she had been kidnapped after all. 

“Who are you?”

He let the front feet of the chair come to rest on the ground and hopped up, placing his tray on the entertainment center. “And so the questions begin.” 

He sat at the foot of the bed, one leg tucked up underneath him. 

She put her coffee down and scrunched her legs up so he wouldn’t be close to her. “Who are you?”

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “My name is Alexander James. You can call me Xander if you want.” 

He offered a handshake. With his hair sticking up in all directions he looked young. Again Abby got the impression that he was not more than twenty. Then he met her eyes and the impression vanished. She shook his hand. 

“Abigail Norris, I’ve been trying to find you. You’re the last one.” he pulled a folded sheet out of his pocket and showed her a list of fifteen or twenty names, ending with her own. The others were crossed out.

“What is this?”

“This is every student who was accepted for a major scholarship this year. They sent your acceptance letter the day before yesterday.” 

“Why are their names crossed out?”

“They’ve all gone missing.”

To hear that you’ve been accepted into an important scholarship program is usually good news. Abby took two seconds to celebrate this before moving on to the fact that the others were missing and she was in danger of becoming so. “What happened to them?” 

His face fell and for a half second he looked like a sad little boy. The expression flashed from his face like something afraid and he composed himself. “The Tesla Project,” He said. “They take the brightest and the best and they all end up dead. I’ve been trying to stop it for years.” His eyes were clouded and faraway. “For too long.” 

“What is happening to them?” Abby asked, trying to steady her voice. “How do they die?”

Alexander James rubbed his ear and looked at the floor. “I- I don’t know what’s happening to them.”

Abby sipped her coffee and studied him thoughtfully. This was the first time in the conversation he had deliberately looked away before telling her something. 

“What does this have to do with me?” she asked. 

He looked surprised. “You’re the brightest and the best.” He stood and stretched. “I think you will be safe if you wait here. I’ve paid for two weeks. I’ll be back before then.” 

“I can’t wait here. What if you die or something and never come back?”

He seemed amused by the idea, a smile hiding in the corner of his mouth and lurking in his eyes. “I’ll be back within twelve days.” 

“Professor James. I do not want to wait here alone.”

“I told you to call me Xander, and you’re safe here.”

A sense of danger flooded the room. A hissing. They both looked around. It took Abby a moment to realize she smelled the thick sharpness of gasoline. 

“Never mind. You should come with me.” Xander grabbed her hand and dashed to the door. 

There are those who claim that the number three has power. This belief may stem from the idea of the trinity, or perhaps from the threesome of sixes that make the sign of the devil. One superstition says the third time’s the charm. Another says that bad things always come in threes.

Three bad things were waiting for Xander and Abby in the lobby. They were muscular and tattooed and ordinary. One of them held a gun, the smooth silver metal shining in the artificial light. They blocked the way to the car. 

Xander James walked towards the man with the gun. He looked him directly in the eye for a few moments, and the man took a half step back. Xander pivoted, his leg swinging in a blur. WHACK. The silver gleamed as the gun flew from the man’s hand. He shouted and stumbled, his finger broken. Xander spun and his foot landed in the man’s chest, knocking him to the floor to wheeze and cough. 

The other two men advanced, pulling guns from tucked in their belts. Xander took Abby’s hand and stood in front of her. The man closest to them stopped several feet away. “Listen, man, we just wanna take the girl peacefully.”

“Peacefully with guns?” Xander raised his eyebrows and something flashed in his eyes that terrified the man. “Fine. Come and take her.” He squeezed her hand and let go. The man stepped forward, appropriately wary.

WHACK. Xander leapt into the air and switched legs, kicking straight up, the gun flying into the ceiling.
The third man ran out the door. As soon as they could pick themselves up, the other two followed. The woman who had checked them in the night before was cowering behind the front desk. She peeked out as the door slammed. 

“You may want to evacuate the building,” Xander said. “There’s a gas leak.” 

They left.

Death is only a word. A word with five letters. It is a well known fact that words that are indivisible by three are the most dreaded. Loss. Failure. Insensitivity. Antidisestablishmentarianism. 

Abby’s phone was still not connecting. She tried calling her sister again in the car and nothing happened. She was in the passenger’s seat, watching the world flow past outside the window and wondering where her comfortable existence had gone. It seemed like only yesterday… because it had been only yesterday.  Her phone simply would not connect.

She sighed, and Xander’s attention was caught. He looked alarmed by the cell phone in her hand.
“May I see that?” he asked. She handed it over and he scrutinized it while intermittently glancing back at the road. 

He rolled his window down. “I think this cell phone is our problem.” He tossed it, and Abby could hear it crack on the pavement even over the rush of the car. 

“Hey!” Abby turned in her seat and watched out the back window as the shards of broken plastic receded towards the horizon. Then she glared at him. 

“They had a track on your cell phone. That’s why I don’t carry one.” 

“You mean we’re entirely without communication right now? Wait—you don’t carry a cell phone because you think people will track it?” 

“A perfectly justifiable fear, given the circumstances. And it’s not my only reason.”

Silent. A word divisible by three. They remained silent for a long time, the morning slipping away and transforming into afternoon. 

Abby was silent because she had questions she wasn’t ready to ask. Questions like, “Where are we going?” and “When will I see my family again?” There was a void in her mind where the answers would fit, but she was strangely comfortable in the void. She relaxed, watching the telephone poles fly past without knowing where they were leading. 

There is no way to know why Xander was silent. 

At 3:18 the small black car pulled into the parking lot of a good old fashioned diner. This particular establishment demonstrated that “good” is a relative term and “old fashioned” sometimes just means old. The smell of stale onions and grease hit them as they walked through the door. The floor was black and white linoleum that had turned black and gray. They slid into a booth across from each other, the cracked vinyl protesting with a piteous squeak. 

An impossibly short woman with bags under her eyes walked up to the table. “What can I get for you?” she asked, brushing a stringy brown hair from her face. Standing next to where Xander was sitting, her head was barely higher than his. 

Xander smiled at her. “I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries. Abby?”

Abby shook her head. It had been a long day. The thought of food made her nauseous. 

The smile disappeared. A worry line appeared on his forehead and he studied her for a moment, his eyes looking into hers and reflecting the exhaustion they found there. 

The waitress cleared her throat. “Come on, honey, they ain’t payin’ me to stand here.”

“She wants a bowl of chicken soup if you have it. Also, could you bring us a pot of coffee?”

The waitress nodded and wandered away in the general direction of the kitchen, looking like she could use some coffee herself. 

“I really don’t want anything,” Abby said. 

“You need to eat. We’ve still got a long drive.” He was analyzing her face again and she looked away. “Are you okay?”

She shot him an incredulous look. “No,” she said. “I’ve been kidnapped, kidnapped again, threatened with a gun and now I’m on a road trip with a stranger going who-knows-where. You could be some kind of serial killer for all I know, and I—I just want to go home.” Tears filled her eyes and she leaned her face on her arm. Xander was silent. She fought a small battle with her emotions and decided against sobbing aloud in public. The fabric of her jacket smelled like gasoline fumes from earlier. 

“I’m sorry,” Xander said, his voice cracking. 

Abby believed him. 

She sat up and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. 

“Here,” Xander said quickly, “use this.” He pulled a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and handed it to her, then had the manners to look at anything but her while she wiped her eyes and nose. 

Their food arrived and Abby found that she could eat after all. Despite the atmosphere of the diner, the food was delicious. The salty smell of the soup made Abby think of Saturdays when it rained. Elaine always made chicken soup for lunch. 

Abby watched Xander eat his hamburger and tried to guess his age. He looked like any college-aged person when eating. Maybe twenty-one. 

Having an outburst like that had made her feel better, but she didn’t mean it as much as she thought she did. She felt safe with this man. She found herself to have an illogical amount of trust for him. 

Xander held the last part of his cheeseburger and pushed the basket of fries over to her. The paper liner had the name of the diner printed all over it, grease making opaque blotches which clung to the wicker basket.
She popped a fry in her mouth. “So,” she said, “where are we going?”

He finished chewing the last bite before answering. “It’s, um,” He rubbed his ear. “It’s a military base next to Groom Lake, Nevada.”

There was an awkward pause. 

“You mean-- Area 51?”

He nodded.

Fifty-one is only a number. A number that is divisible by three. When you divide fifty-one by three you get seventeen, the age Abby had been when she wrote her first novel-length manuscript. Her writing had improved so much since then. You can change a lot in three years. 

“Just to be sure I’m following,” Abby said. “You’re saying that our destination is a secret military base rumored to hold extraterrestrial remains.”

“That’s only a rumor,” he said. “I wish that were all that was down there.” He poured two cups of coffee from the dull metal carafe and handed one to her.

She took the steaming mug and sipped, the warmth and bitterness sliding down her throat and soothing her.

“What is down there?”

“The Tesla Project,” he said. “Nikola Tesla was ignored by the public for most of his life, but the government was very interested in his inventions. The Tesla Project is just the continuation of his research.”

Abby poured cream into her mug and watched the cloud of white swirl through the rich brown coffee. “You said The Tesla Project was using the missing students. What for? What are they doing to them?” 

Xander had his fingers interlocked around the warm ceramic mug but he wasn’t drinking. “That school legend got one thing right.” He said, voice taut. “Tesla was fascinated with the human brain in the years before he died. His experiments were… intense.” His grip on the mug tightened, fingers white. “Too intense for the average person. If The Tesla Project is continuing that research, they should be snatching people with genius-level IQs.”

“I’m hardly a genius,” Abby said. “My IQ is just above average.”

“Exactly,” he said. “The Tesla Project is getting desperate.”

When they left the diner, the evening sun slanted golden over the fields of grass. They were leaving the last town for miles, and the small black car was alone on the highway. The only sound was the humming of the car and Abby felt her eyelids closing against her will. She thought it was odd that she was so tired. Her life felt more and more like a movie, and in movies people never slept. 

When she woke it was dark. They were still driving. She was curled on the seat, and Xander’s jacket was keeping her warm. He didn’t notice yet that she was awake, and she studied his profile, outlined against the moonlit sky. 

She shifted in her seat to glance at the clock. 2:18. “Don’t you ever sleep?” she mumbled, pushing the hair out of her face. 

He glanced at her. “We can stop if you would rather sleep in a hotel,” he said.

Abby adjusted her seat and tried to get comfortable again. “I’m fine,” she murmured, and they kept driving. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shakespeare, Summer and Sleeping Beauty

There are reasons I haven't been posting on here... none of them are very good, but I will tell you anyway.

First of all, I've been working on condensing Hamlet and re-writing it in modern English. I started it just for fun, (yes, I have a weird sense of fun) but it has been really interesting and enlightening. I've had to decide which parts to leave out and which are important to the central plot, and it's made me so much more aware of what a good storyteller Shakespeare was. Translating it into modern English is also really difficult because nearly everything Hamlet says has a double (or triple!) meaning.

To post it on here, or not to post it? That is the question. : ) Let me know in the comments.

Secondly, I just haven't had much to write about. I've been going to a class two nights a week, going to work the other two days, babysitting Wednesday nights, reading several books and condensing Hamlet.

I wish I could say that another reason is that I've been writing my story, but I haven't started yet. I think I'm afraid to actually start writing it since the idea has been with me for over a year. I've been planning it out and trying to develop a subplot before I start, but I think I might have an idea for that now. I thought of it in class this evening and immediately wrote it down. I'm planning on starting the actual writing tomorrow afternoon, so wish me luck.  


Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Tesla Project- part two

Read part one here.
The next class period arrived. At two minutes before the hour, every seat in the room was occupied. People had been talking. Students suddenly had deep insights to share in their philosophy classes, world culture classes, geography classes. There were historical discussions taking place over lunch. The other professors were noticing.

Several of them stood in the back of the room, serious in their black suits, waiting to see what this man had done to accomplish all this with one class period.

Three after. The door opened and Professor James walked to the front of the room, unfazed by the crowd. He acknowledged the back of the room with a nod, greeted the class with a smile, and began his lecture. 

Two hours and forty two minutes into the lecture, the room was still and silent except for Professor James’ voice. There was no restless fidgeting or secret texting. The students were listening with their whole beings to the story of the past.

Abby almost didn’t notice when her cell phone vibrated. She ignored it. A few minutes later it vibrated again. Professor James flicked his eyes in her direction, catching her gaze. She discretely pulled the phone from her coat pocket. He looked away. Two new text messages appeared on the screen.

From: Elaine Norris 
I need you, mom is sick, come right away

From: Elaine Norris 
At St Matthew’s hospital, doctor says it’s serious. I’m all alone

Abby grabbed her things and stood, her chair scraping loudly in the quiet room. Professor James kept talking as though he didn’t notice. All other eyes in the room turned toward her as she made her egress.

The door slammed behind her and Professor James kept talking in exactly the same tone of voice, but students on the front row noticed beads of sweat appearing on his brow and his hands shaking at his sides.

When he finished his lecture, the professors in the back of the room began to applaud, and it spread throughout the audience. To their surprise, he took off running, dashing past the students and teachers and out the door. It slammed behind him as it had behind Abby.

Abby Norris didn’t have a vehicle with her at the school. When she left class she ran out the front door of the building and down the street to the bus stop. She glanced at her watch. It was an odd time. The next bus wouldn’t be here for awhile. She sat on the bench and sank her head in her hands. Images flashed through her mind of her mother, bleeding, coughing, dying. Her little sister alone in the waiting room. The doctor approaching with that look on his face. They couldn’t go through this again.

A yellow cab pulled up in front of her. She jumped up and opened the door. “St. Matthew’s hospital.” She said. If her thoughts had been less distracted she would have realized how strange it was for a cab to approach someone at a bus stop.

Professor James was halfway down the street when he saw her get into the cab. “No!” he shouted, too late. He ran headlong, but barely reached the bus stop as the cab rounded the corner onto a main street. He collapsed onto the bench, gasping.

Abby re-read the texts from her sister and tried again to call. Her phone was out of range. Illness and injury cycled through her thoughts. She tried to calm herself, taking a deep breath and deliberately seeing her mother as she ought to be; jean shorts and a scarf over her head in the garden, laughing in the pool, singing along to the radio as she did the dishes. Mom is sick, hospital, serious, alone. Abby re-re-read the texts.

If she had been less distracted she would have realized that they were going the wrong direction. By the time she did realize, the cab was heading out of town on an empty highway.

“Hey!” she said. “We’re going the wrong way.”

The cab driver ignored her.

“Let me out!” She tried the door. It was locked. The ground was whizzing away too fast for a jump, anyway.

“Take me back right now.” She said, trying to think of a threat. “You’re going to lose your job. And also, you’ll probably go to prison.” As that was an incentive for him to not turn around, Abby decided to stop talking.

What was Elaine going to do if her mother was sick and her sister had been kidnapped? Abby imagined the doctor, grave, wearing a shining lab coat. He crept into the waiting room with a fake smile stuck to his face. Elaine was crying. “You’re mother is not going to make it, Miss Norris.” He said. “Also, your sister has been kidnapped. So sorry.”

A car passed them in the fast lane. Abby banged on the window and screamed. The man who was probably not a cab driver ignored her. The other driver also ignored her. There were no other cars nearby at this time in the afternoon.

Abby knew that if you were stuck in the trunk you were supposed to kick the tail lights out, but she wasn’t sure what protocol was for a back seat kidnapping. She wished momentarily that he had put her in the trunk then realized how stupid that wish was. She turned around and watched out the back window as the town grew smaller and the fields grew wider.

A tiny speck that seemed to be a car was coming from the direction of town but rapidly growing larger. Abby watched it. It looked odd for it to be increasing in size when the rest of the world was falling away. Abby measured the speck’s progress against the telephone poles next to the road.

Soon it was only five poles behind them. It was a small black car that looked like it shouldn’t be able to go so fast. Abby glanced over the man-who-was-not-a-cab-driver’s shoulder. The speedometer was hovering just above eighty. The black car behind them had to be going over a hundred.

Three poles behind, Abby could begin to see details of the person in the driver’s seat. It was a man. A young man with brown hair.

Two poles behind. It was a man with piercing dark eyes.

One pole behind. Professor James looked her right in the eye and motioned for her to stay silent. Abby continued to look out the back window, shifting to block the view of the small black car, in case the man-who-was-not-a-cab-driver turned to see what she was looking at.

The small black car pulled up next to them. Professor James picked up a black box, like a thin remote control, from the passenger seat and aimed it at the cab. Hold on, he mouthed to her.

Abby buckled and grabbed a hold of the plastic handle on the door. BOOM. A burst of smoke poured from the engine and smothered the front window. The car rocked and weaved, slamming Abby’s side into the door. She held her breath. “So sorry, Miss Norris,” the imaginary doctor said to her sister. “Your sister was killed in a deadly car crash while being kidnapped.”

The car slowed as the cursing man (who was not a cab driver but had the vocabulary of one) let up on the gas and let the car roll to a stop. They were engulfed in smoke. Abby unbuckled her seat belt and tried the door again. She looked out the back window. Smoke. The man opened his driver’s door and disappeared into it to look at the engine. A shout. CLANG. Something slammed against the hood of the car.

Professor James appeared at her window and opened the door. Smoke poured into the cab. He reached in and helped her out as she coughed and sputtered.

They emerged from the billowing cloud and climbed into his waiting car. Professor James slammed the car into drive and rapidly accelerated. Within seconds they were pushing ninety. Abby put her seatbelt on and wondered if she might die in a crash after all.

Professor James glanced in the rearview mirror. His eyes were steel. He gripped the wheel as though it would try to get away.

Abby shook, every muscle in her body moving with involuntary spasms. Her teeth chattered. She leaned back on the seat and took deep breaths.

Professor James glanced at her and his eyes softened. He reached into the back seat with one hand and found his jacket, tossing it over her. “You’re safe now.” He said. “Everything’s going to be ok.”

Abby wanted to ask what was happening but she couldn’t form the words through her chattering teeth.

“You got a text message saying that your family was in danger, right?”

Abby nodded. “M-my mom.”

“It’s a lie, your family is fine. Abigail, your family is just fine, nothing has happened. So don’t worry.”

They were still driving out of town. Abby observed this as her nerves began to calm and she breathed at a normal rate again. She was still shaking but she had control.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

He glanced at her and saw the worry in her eyes. “We can’t go back to the school just yet. You’re still in a little bit of danger.”

“You said everything would be ok.”

“And it will be.”

Several minutes later they pulled off at a small town exit and parked at the hotel. Abby had stopped shaking but her muscles were like jelly. Even her eyelids were exhausted. When he had turned the car off she found she could barely move. Professor James came around, opened her door and helped her out of the car. He supported her with a gentle arm around her shoulders and they made their way inside.

He spoke to the desk clerk. Abby’s vision was blurred and even sounds were muffled as if through a fog. Somehow they made it to the room and Abby sat on the edge of the bed.

“I’m going to sit up and keep watch. Go to sleep.” He pulled a chair over and sat in front of the door.
She pulled off her shoes and fell asleep the second her head was on the pillow.