Photo Prompt #1

Prompt #1 | Paperback Lover
Source: Ariel 2 – female stock by Dea-Vesta

Write what comes to mind. If a story doesn’t come to you, start by writing a description of what you see. Who is this person? Where are they going? What are they doing? How do you imagine they walk? Talk? Do they have a speech impediment? An accent? Where are they from? Are they local? A tourist? A time traveler?

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


On Graduate School

School started again. I wasn’t ready and I’m already woefully behind. It’s been three weeks. I blame this on two things: 1) The two months that have past were the longest break I have taken from classes in the past two years and I got a taste of life without assignments and grades. I had yet to remember how confusingly great and awful it is to not have any regulations on my free time. And 2) This is my last year before I graduate and, as I told a friend the other day, I’ve been hit with senioritis — hard.

I’m ready to be done with undergraduate work. I’m ready to be done with having to meet a requirement. I’m ready to study my heart out without having to worry about whether or not a class fits into my degree plan and I’m tired of that degree plan being so damned broad.

I’m in the process of applying to graduate school and I’m as terrified as I am exhilarated. I’m planning to apply to only one. The look that my professor gave me when I told her this after I asked her to write me a letter recommendation tells me that this is not something that I should do lightly. And I understand entirely. But in truth, I don’t want to get a degree in english with a concentration in creative writing. I want a degree in creative writing. And there aren’t many schools that offer this; two that I’ve found that actually grab me by the shoulders and shake me with rampant excitement.

One is in Vermont and is a low-residency program. This scares me. If there is anything that history has taught me it is that I have just about zero self-discipline. This is probably sign number one that writing isn’t the field that I should be pursuing, but what other options does one have when it is literally the only thing that they have to live for? People make me anxious and working under someone makes me claustrophobic. I actually cried when I accepted my last long-term/full-time job because my heart broke when it heard my mouth say “yes”. I become depressed if I go too long without writing. And I don’t mean down-in-the-dumps, singin-the-blues depressed either. I get to this point where the entire world just becomes grey and pointless, where I question everything and even the smallest of human interaction is entirely unbearable (I realize that’s horrifically cliche, but so is this idea of the broken artist, so we’re already hairline-deep in cliche land with this post).

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Vermont. See, low-residency means that I would stay here in Texas and only go up to Vermont for a ten day “conference” every semester. The rest of the semester I would be communicating with my advising professor online. The idea is that students can work and look after their families with out the disruption of classes and lectures. But I don’t have a nine-to-five job and I only have a cat to take care (and she’s pretty good at fending for herself). What I like about classes and lectures is that I have someone to report to. Someone to physically look me in the eye and keep me in check. Because, like I said, I have zero self-discipline.

So, that leaves the second school. University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Their creative writing program is a fine arts program. It’s not liberal arts. It’s not humanities. It’s not english with a concentration. It’s an art degree. Hell, it’s not even “creative writing”. It’s an MFA for poets and writers. I love that! It makes my heart race and my blood pump! I can’t tell you why, but it does. My heart is already set on going. I’ve even been researching living expenses to see what I should be financially prepared for. I’ve already begun looking around my apartment wondering what I would really be willing to pack up and lug across thirteen states with me. At the same time, I’ve been questioning whether or not I could really live so far away from my support system. If I could handle it emotionally. Which has made me start trying to really, truly eliminate habits from my life that only exacerbate the poor mental health that is my emotional base line (like staying up till the crack of dawn instead of sleeping. Which I totally am not doing as I type this).

As you can see, ever since I signed the application to graduate, my mind has been in graduate school mode. I’m ready to move on and I’m ready to be done with this stage in my life. I’m ready for everything that it will throw at me and everything that I will have to do to make it happen. Thanks to the independent study project that I did last semester, I already have a 25 page writing sample written, critiqued, and rewritten to include in my application. I have one professor on board to write a letter of recommendation and I need to email the second professor I want to ask. I need to request a copy of my transcript for both UTSA and SAC so I can mail them to UMass (because I don’t trust either school to get them there). And, finally, I need to write up my personal statement. Which I have been avoiding. Because when I’m nervous and terrified I avoid doing things. And, as I’ve said twice already, I have zero self-discipline.


Open Letter – To My Mother

I still remember when, back in high school, back in those days when the darkness was heavy like tar that stuck to our bones, we spent so many nights driving home from his office building. I still wonder how many other teens sat in waiting rooms, staring at walls and half-reading gossip magazines, before trading places with their mother on a therapist’s couch. I don’t begrudge you for that. You know I never will, right? It was your journey as much as it was mine. And in some ways I loved those car rides. Delilah on 101.9, the city closing up shop for the night, stars coming out through the haze of the city lights, constellations whose stories I had yet to learn by heart. I had, in those days, never felt closer to you than I did on those nights as we talked our way down the highway.

I still remember how upset you were when our shared therapist told you in confidence not to talk to me about conspiracies and religion, crystals and tarot readings. He believed such new age talks would screw me up and confuse me somehow, keep me from believing in anything, keep me from growing up to be a proper god-fearing individual. Thank you for telling me what he said and not chastising me when I responded by calling him an idiot, though I wanted to call him worse. Thank you for ignoring him and your initial fears that he may be right. Thank you for continuing to discuss the universe with me, to take me to new age shops filled with crystals and tarot cards, to nurture this curiosity that had no outlets other than restless nights on the internet, researching all the questions a southern, cradle catholic couldn’t ask out loud, books on witchcraft bought in secret, and late night car rides consumed with discussions about Hitler and the occult, Atlantis, and past lives.

Thank you for accepting with such outstanding grace and understanding when, as an adult, I proved him right and failed to grow up to be a proper god-fearing individual. Thank you for listening as I transitioned over the years from agnostic, to deist, to pagan. And thank you most of all for the day, once again in your car, you asked me what I was believing in these days. For adding, “No judgment” when you sensed my hesitation. For listening as I explained my beliefs in the nature, in the universe, in energies and karma, that the gods are nothing more than a way for us mortals to explain those energies, that the only word I felt summed up my beliefs was witch. Thank you especially for calling me a tree-hugger with pride and excitement when I explained to you how touching a tree alone in the middle of the woods filled me with all the unexplainable feelings everyone expected of me as I was, at thirteen and already doubting my beliefs in a Catholic god, being primed for confirmation.

But more than that, thank you for teaching me how to question the world around me and how to not take anything at face value, and at the same time not to take anything too seriously. The words you taught me, “even if it’s not true, it’s still fun to think about,” have become a mantra I find myself repeating when met with naysayers, a mantra I reconfigured as a teen to ward off accusations that my tastes weren’t “cool” enough, a mantra that has fueled my writing for all these years. Because what fun is fiction if all we write about is the truth, and what is the point of this gift if we can’t use it to dream up impossible possibilities? You taught me that. And no thanks to that therapist who, in some alternate reality, convinced you not to speak to me of such things, leaving me to be half the person I have become in this reality.

For that, I will thank you every chance I get.

With gratitude and love,

Your tree-hugging, ghost chasing, tarot reading, conspiracy theorist


Places to Find Inspiration – Conspiracy Theories & Mysteries

Finding inspiration can be the easiest yet hardest part of writing fiction. Easiest, because inspiration can be found everywhere. Hardest, because knowing where to start can be a daunting task.

Personally, I find conspiracy theories and unsolved mysteries get my creative juices flowing the fastest. My writing notebook is honestly filled with just about every conspiracy or mystery known to the internet (And I totally may or may not have recently spent actual money on a tabloid magazine that was entirely about Marilyn Monroe’s death…don’t judge me). These are great sources for inspiration because no one really knows the whole truth. Everything you read or hear is mostly just conjecture. And if you like puzzles (which I do), researching these theories can actually be pretty thrilling. Plus, like I already said, there is no actual answer. So, unlike working with the rest of history and true events, with conspiracies and mysteries, the truth is only limited to your imagination. You don’t have to tell the actual story and you don’t have to know every little detail of a case, all you need to know is that something happened and no one knows why. Your job as a writer is to figure out a possible solution, no matter how implausible it might be.

Below is a list of youtube channels that are great for both conspiracy theories and mysteries. Most work with the simple list format, but some go a little bit deeper into various theories. At the very least, these are awesome places to start. I tend to just watch them a handful at a time with my notebook open and scribble down which ones catch my interest before doing more research on my own later.

So, use the weird, dark recesses of the internet to your advantage and get inspired.

1. Danger Dolan
2. Rob Dyke’s Seriously Strange
3. Dark 5
4. Alltime 10s
4a. Alltime Conspiracies
5. The Rishest
6. Hybrid Librarian



Top 10 (Tuesday) Favorite Book Cover Trends/Elements

Top10-BookCovers

Follow along with this meme over at The Broke and the Bookish

I LOVE book cover design and have been totally guilty of buying a book purely due to the loveliness of a cover. I’ve been known to stand at tables at yard sales and flea style markets that are piled with boxes upon boxes of books, digging through each one with excruciating fervor and walking away with a stack of books that I can’t really tell you the plot of but that each has a gorgeous cover so screw it! Take my money! Sadly, despite this fact I could only come up with five styles that I really love. Well, six but I couldn’t find a good example for the sixth. Either way, here they are:

1. Embroidered designs
When I was younger than elementary school age my grandmother, who is an exquisite crafter herself, gave me an embroidery hoop and my first pack of iron on embroidery patterns and taught me how to embroider as a way to keep me busy on the nights she babysat. I fell in love and still find the art so amazingly relaxing. I absolutely admire the intricate designs people come up with and all the clever ideas floating around the internet. So, needless to say, when Penguin came out with their embroidered cover designs, I was floored with the amazingly, gorgeous designs that came out of the series. I would love to see this become a standard in cover design (even if it is economically unrealistic).

2. Typographic designs
Being a writer, reader, lover of words, and descendant of a long line of artsy people, I adore typography in all forms and when the title of a book is made into art work itself I get extremely excited!

3. Underwater photography
Little known fact about myself, I originally started college as a Photography major. My father is a photography hobbyist and I grew up playing with his cameras and learning by watching. In high school I carried around an old film camera and I can still hear my mother fussing at me, saying, “a dollar per picture” reminding me how much it cost to develop film and to be mindful of what I was wasting each frame on. One of the photography styles I have always admired is underwater photography and have always wanted to have a go at it myself, so when I first saw the cover for Michelle Hodkin’s The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer I was excited (and not just because my favorite Photography professor’s name was Dyer). Though (and thankfully) underwater photography has yet to take cover design by storm, I still get excited when I happen upon one.

4. Illustration/Watercolor
I love love love illustration and especially watercolor! The two are such fun art forms to explore and experiment with. Some of my favorite artists are more technically illustrators (though, I hate that art snobs insist so hardheadedly on separating the two) and the ones I admire the most utilize watercolors. There’s just a sense of other-worldliness and innocence with watercolor that you can’t really get with other mediums, which is why I really love it when it is incorporated with more adult themes such as the Lolita example above.

5. Paper cutting
Paper cutting is pretty much a dead art but the results are so beautiful it makes me sad that more people don’t try to preserve it. Hans Christian Andersen was known for sometimes creating paper cuttings while telling his stories. Though Kara Walker has described her art to be more closely related to “cut-paper silhouette”, I like to see it more as paper cuttings seeing as her silhouettes are utilized to tell a story much like Hans Christian Andersen. Sadly, most of the paper cuttings you see in book designs are typically done using computer software and not actually scissors to paper, but either way I still love the look the designs create.

And because I really do love this style, even if I can’t come up with any good examples, I’ll include it anyways:

6. Designs that continue to the back of the book
I really love when a cover designer doesn’t limit themselves to the front of a book and wraps the image around the spine and onto the back. I especially love when an image is cut off the front and wrapped around to the back to reveal the full image and sometimes even the full story the image is trying to create. It’s like a hidden secret that only those curious enough to pick up the book are privy to.

That’s my list! Hope you enjoyed it. If you wish to follow along with Top Ten Thursdays you can keep up with the weekly themes at The Broke and The Bookish.

Now it’s your turn, are there any particular designs that are absolutely snatch worthy for you? Or are you a better reader than I am and actually practice the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”?


On Feminisim

I am a feminist because decades before I was born women took a stand to better my future, not just as an American, but as a woman; because women throughout the world still think of themselves according to a man’s wants &”needs”; because I want my daughters to grow up with their heads held high knowing that their gender does not define them.

I am a feminist because I believe in a human race united by our shared makeup of bones, blood, & heart rather than our skin, gender, or culture. I believe that every human is created equal with the same human right to be happy, loved, & respected. I believe that their is no such thing as “gender binary”. Only people living their lives.

I am a feminist because, even though men & women are equal in vote, property, & money, the two are not equal in their right to live their own lives according to their own hearts & their own passions. Until we as a society can look at a man who is not “masculine” and a woman who is not “feminine” and see who they are rather than what they are not, a feminist’s work is not done. Until an act of sexual violence is seen not as the fault of the victim but the perpetrator, what ever the gender, a feminist’s work is not done. Until a woman’s sexuality is her own to be flaunted or hidden as she sees fit, a feminist’s work is not done. Until a man can stand up & take action against the abuse of his significant other without having to fear ridicule or questioning of his “masculinity”, a feminist’s work is not done.

I am a feminist not because I hate men or because I enjoy yelling into the wind, but because I believe a person is a person regardless of their gender and I believe every person deserves to be happy, loved, & respected, and until these things are no longer defined by gender, sexuality, or the ability to fit into some preconceived binary, my work is not done.


Flashfiction – Prompt 9

steampunk_girl_ii_by_lahmattea-d6gaabg-sm

Tell me about an adventure you would love to have – Prompt 9 from 365 Journal Writing Ideas

I am running down an alley way in the streets of London. I am chasing a man who is not far ahead of me. His black jacket whips in the air behind him as he runs. He shoves a stack of boxes to fall behind him as he continues down the alley. I leap over the obstruction without hesitation. He turns a corner and I follow to find myself face to face with a brick wall and the man no where in sight. I curse and study my surroundings.

Above me is an open window. I climb a nearby stack of crates and lower myself through the window. I jump down and land on a concrete floor in a relatively dark room. I hear a noise from the dark. I take a stun grenade from the small, leather satchel on my hip. The cobalt blue glass orb is the size of my palm and when I activate the trigger on the top it begins to glow. Slowly, I make my way toward the sound. I move step by step only slightly afraid of what might meet me in the dark.

I hear a loud crash somewhere to my left.

I turn and yell, “WHO’S THERE?”

Lights all around me flicker on loudly to reveal a room filled with Tesla coils and strange machines. A loud slow clapping rings through the air. I turn toward the sound to see a woman emerge from the shadows.

Photo by LahmatTea


Top 10 (Tuesday) Summer TBR

Follow along with this meme over at The Broke and the Bookish

Since I’m stuck in Shakespeare over the summer the required reading for the class is top of my list, unfortunately. We’ve already read As You Like It, which I really enjoyed, and Hamlet I skipped for now because Hamlet bores the ever loving hell out of me. I started Fellowship of the Ring back when I was at Easter Seals (which was a year ago already) and I had to hold off finishing it when I started classes. I’m hoping to get a chance to pick them back up when I start Tech. Writing in July. Anyways, here’s my Summer to be read list.

1. As You Like It

2. Hamlet

3. Troilus & Cressida

4. Othello

5. All’s Well That Ends Well

6. The Winter’s Tale

7. Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein

8. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein

9. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkein

P.S. I want to dye my hair so bad! I’ve been on a purple kick for a while, but this photo is starting to make me lean more towards blue. I’ve also started toying with the idea on an undercut. Though, I’m not entirely sure where the urge came from. I’ll most likely wait till Fall to decide on the undercut, it’s too hot to wear my hair down right now.