Anthropology Senior Thesis

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(The picture above is my 29 year-old Down’s Syndrome brother, Joshua, preparing a piece for an art show)

So I have to do a senior thesis. It has to involve anthropology. It should involve field work of some sort. I want to do something that interests me, and something that I haven’t done before. And honestly, I don’t think I can do another semester of this :

The Failure of Non-Intervention during British Colonial Rule in India

That was the title of my massive project last semester. It wasn’t that bad, but, I mean, not the most stimulating topic I could’ve chosen. I want to work with teens doing creative things that they’re passionate about and using their environment to enhance their work. Street artists come to mind. I’ve known some and have worked with artistic teens before, but I want to do something even more different.

I want people who take their art of out of the studio, abandon traditional conventions and mediums, and those who have a new vision of art. I want to work with off-the-wall ideas and real creative, intelligent, driven individuals. I want to move away from the mainstream.  I want to examine their work and culture from a cultural anthropological perspective. One of the hardest things I would have to deal with is focusing on one topic. There are so many perspectives from which to examine their work .

Now I have to find them, smooth out some details, and get approval.

I’m pretty excited about this. But I’m looking for a certain kind of teen and artist. I would like a few of them, and not just “graffiti” artists. I want photographers, musicians, whatever, show me what you have, why you’re passionate about it, and how you manipulate your surroundings to add to your artistic expression. I would like to turn this into something longer, possibly a non-fiction book. Maybe. Let’ s see how the initial research pans out.

Hey, if you think you might be someone I’ve listed above, leave a comment with your info/website. They have to be moderated, so the whole world won’t see your comment.

WriteOnCon

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I’m cheating here. I’m taking the info off their website so you’ll know WHY you need to check this event out.

WriteOnCon is an Online Children’s Writers Conference (rated MC-18, for Main Characters under 18 only) created by writers, for writers.

Where: http://www.writeoncon.com

Cost: Free!

*SchedulePlease click that link. Agents, authors, and editors will be on board to give much-needed advice, critiques, time, and forums to all us waiting to be published writers.

Who: That’s the best part—it’s for EVERYONE!

Attendees don’t need to take time off work, travel, or spend a truckload of money. They can enjoy the conference from the convenience of their own homes, for free—and the schedule is designed around working hours. (Transcripts are also available of the entire conference, should anyone have to miss part of it.) And everything for the conference takes place within this website, which means everyone with basic Internet access will be able to participate in all aspects of the conference—no additional software or technology required.

During the conference, keynote addresses, agent panels, and lectures are presented as blogs, vlogs, moderated chats, webinars, podcasts, and livestreaming. There is also a critique forum, where participants can post query letters and writing samples to receive helpful feedback and comments from their peers and industry professionals. And, as if that weren’t exciting enough, there are also daily contests, giving random winners everything from books to personalized critiques from agents.

The Value in Social Media

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When I started writing again, the first thing I did was, well, start writing. But the second thing I did was try and figure out how to get myself noticed. That’s when I discovered Twitter.

Alright, so I’ve had Twitter for a while now, but I was never a regular user. I would be MIA for months at a time, but I discovered something.

Agents, and publishers, and editors, and oh my, EVERYONE Tweets! Besides being normal people, which yes, they are, they also talk business. For instance:

John Cusick, agent with Greenhouse Literary, Tweeted on July 31st:

“Hey folks, y’know I loves mah sci-fi, but I’m craving some contemp. realistic y.a. in the vein of Laurie Halse Anderson / Jay Asher.”

Helpful? Uh yeah. What else? Hashtags. If you, like me, have been living in a cave, hashtags are these things “#” They start something like a thread. Some grand hastags to start you off:

#askagent– as the name implies, ask agents things, agents answer.

#MSWL– Manuscript Wishlist- what agents want to drag out of the slush

#yalitchat– YA writers chattin’ it up about the industry

#mglitchat– read above, insert MG

#amwriting– are you writing? And Tweeting? Are you looking to connect with others who are, well, writing and tweeting? Nuff’ said

#amediting– read above, insert editing

#tenqueries– agents will pick ten queries they’re received and tell you why they’re requesting, or why they’re rejecting

And for August? Have a writing goal you’re having a hard time sticking with? #wipmarathon. Get inspired.

Ok drumroll: One of the bests reasons that you, as a writer, have to sign up for Twitter (besides building a platform) CONTESTS AND INTERNSHIPS!

Who hates querying? *Emphatic hand raising/ waving/ cries of terror at the thought* Me too. So pitching on Twitter helps get requests during events like Pitchmas and Pitch Madness. Also, writers routinely host pitch contests on their blogs.

Other times, groups of writers will get together and host event. For instance Like a Virgin. (See my blog hop) You posted a query and your first 250 words to win critiques and requests from participating agents.

Ok so your reward for reading through this post?

Events Below:

August 13-14 WriteOnCon A free online conference over the course of two days for PB, MG, YA, and NA writers.

August 16WriteOnCon/Reading Room Aspiring Writers’ Competition A first 500 (first page) MG/YA/NA words contest. First Place wins $1000, Second Place wins $500, Third Place wins $250 AND an author profile page on TheReadingRoom.com. Check the link for more details.

August 24– Speak of the devil. Pitch Madness Check Brenda Lee Drake’s blog by clicking the link. She’ll be posting details as the event draws nearer.

Why I write for young adults

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My high school reunion is July 27th. My birthday is July 28th. Needless to say, I’ve been feeling a whole lot of old attacking me this month. I’m also suffering from a strange early onset mid-life crises. And I think my eyes are going. I’ve considered casket shopping. I’m jumping the gun, but damn if I don’t feel way too old!

So how does this tie in with my reasons for writing young adult? Because being a young adult was awesome! Obviously.

I remember being 14 and saying, “16 is going to be awesome!” Then at 16 saying, “I can’t wait until I turn 18!” And when I was 18 I said, “I can’t wait until I turn 21!”

Where was I rushing to? Who knows, but I bet I did at that age. Being a teenager is an amazing and emotionally exhausting time. You can be a self-assured know-it-all one moment, then go right back to being an insecure high schooler with a hopeless crush the next. But that’s where the beauty comes in. I wish I still felt that way, but I’m just a boring adult now. I know that tomorrow I’ll go to work and come home and make dinner….But when the family goes to sleep, I get to be young again. How great is that, right?

Now that’s not the only reason, but I love that reason. I love the idea of creating a character that feels the way a teenager feels, the way I felt at one point, and hopefully the way they still feel today. Then there’s the escape of it. Not just in the writing, but in the reading.

When I read a young adult novel I expect to be entertained, but I also want to get emotionally involved. I want to experience the ups and downs, the heartaches, the triumphs, but most of all I want to care like that again. Like a pissing in the wind teenager that could go anywhere tomorrow and finish the day anywhere right now. It feels right to get involved in the lives of these characters and I really want to care about them.

Is that what I hope to create for my readers? Uh, hell yes and I hope I can provide an escape for someone else.

What Buffy the Vampire Slayer Taught Me About Tension

Whedonites unite!

I am a huge fan of the genius that is Joss Whedon, especially his TV shows, and most especially, BTVS.  You don’t have to be a Buffy fan to agree that tension is what keeps a reader turning the pages. Believe me when I say that BTVS had tension.

Now I’m sure we all know that tension comes in a variety forms, but Buffy had a couple standards that appeared time and again. I love these because they work, and having one or two make a surprise appearance in a manuscript only helps. Now on to my favorite form of tension.

1. Who’s up for a Taboo Tryst? OR Off-the-wall improbable couples we root for.

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Let me reiterate by saying this is my favorite sort of tension. Who doesn’t love some good old-fashioned sexual heat? Taboo liaison anyone? Love-triangle [I know, I know, but still]? There are so many ways to spin it. Let’s look to Buffy for examples.

I’ll get this over with first: it’s Spuffy. All day.

Now on to the other stuff.

If there was something Buffy was always rife with [besides vampire butt-kicking and witty dialogue] it was sexual tension. Whether she was pining over Angel or panting reluctantly over Spike, Buffy wanted a guy, and usually one she couldn’t have.

The taboo relationship seems like a tried and true trope, but there are ways of  putting a spin on old standards. It doesn’t just apply to the vampire/slayer variety. There were a lot of  couples on Buffy’s seven seasons. Let’s look to a few for inspiration.

First things first, Buffy and Angel. She’s the new girl in town trying to get it right, he’s the bad boy gone straight. Together they make the dramatic couple that’s sure to fall apart. Everyone knows that the reformed bad boy [or bad girl] is going to mess up. Or will they? I don’t know, surprise me.

Buffy and Spike. We know who she is, but he’s the bad guy! Not the bad boy, but the villain. But, but, how can he love her with no soul? I don’t know, author, how can he? This is probably the most improbable couple, and also the one I think is the most exciting. There is a lot of reluctant passion here, so there’s no need to explain where the sexual tension is coming from, but when we throw the hero and the villain together its either love or hate. People will want to know how badly or how awesome this will end.

It is just me, or did Xander get loads of play on Buffy?

Cordelia and Xander. Together they make the unlikely couple. She’s the popular snob, he’s the loveable, slacker goofball.  Now consider the tension this brings with it. You have two entirely different  individuals that find themselves attracted to each other much to the disgust/chagrin/dismay *pick your word* of their pals. Nice set up for tension as it is, but do they handle it? They resist: sexual tension-slash-longing. They sneak around: sexual tension-slash-covert operations. They make it happen: sexual tension-slash-possible ostracism.

Willow and Xander. She’s the girl he never thought about like ‘that’, he’s the boy she always thought about like ‘that’. Together they make the ‘what if?’ or always wondered about couple. When that always wondered about feeling starts to surface, along comes the sexual tension. Now being in that person’s presence is like a noir film copper questioning: you’re sweating and nervous about saying the wrong thing to a person you’re sure is judging you, and boy is that light in your eyes suddenly very bright. Who doesn’t love that moment when characters realize they should give it a try? We were all thinking it, weren’t we? But whoa! Hold on! What about Cordelia?

2. Let’s Insert a helpless/random character into an already stressful life/situation! OR Who the hell is Dawn and where did she come from?

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Alright, so mystery insertion of Dawn aside, adding a third wheel to an already stressful scene builds tension. For instance, we’ve got a fighting couple in the street, so let’s add random wants-to-be-a-hero bystander, now we’ve got double the tension. On the other hand, we can also use a secondary character, someone who is already a staple in the main character’s life. Let’s use an end of first date scene. Two awkward nervous teens doing the ‘should we kiss’ dance, one grows a pair, leans in, puckers up…the porch light goes on. Now Dad’s in the scene wearing a robe and boxers. Hello additional tension. Same with Dawn. Buffy’s busy defending the hell mouth, now we have a little sis who’s actually a ball of energy key created by monks inserted into the Summers’ life through false memories. Do all third wheels need to be so dramatic? Nah, but the more annoying and dramatic, the better. By inserting Dawn-like characters we give the protagonist something to fight for, something to defend, or someone who comes in at the most inopportune moments to muck everything up.

3. You Were supposed to be my ally. OR Faith and her sayings that I had to lookup to understand.

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There’s a new slayer on the scene. What’s better than one, right? Wrong. Faith is a wild-child, a loose cannon, and she likes the draw of the dark side. Are we feeling the ominous foreboding yet? Were we surprised when she went wrong? Probably not, but Buffy was. At least a little. Nothing adds tension like a betrayal. The more shocking, the more heartbreaking it is to the character, the more tension we add. Remember when she set out to kill Angel? She may have been bad, but let’s make that betrayal go for the gold. If you want to set up a betrayal make it big. Set the stakes high. Let’s look at another betrayal. Anyone remember when Angel lost his soul? Boy, did that add chapters of tension, especially because she still loved him. That is just another side to betrayal, the fact that the main character may not want to accept it. When Angel killed Jenny [Giles woman, remember her?] wasn’t Giles so mad at Buffy? Take that betrayal and turn it on everyone. Not only has that back stabber trampled on your now very vulnerable main character, but now they’re messing with everyone they love too. Who’s going to take that? Better not be your protagonist.

4. Everyone you love will die. OR Joss Whedon takes the reins.

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As everyone knows, Joss Whedon will kill everyone you love. Buffy died. Twice. Angel died. Anya died. Jenny died. Joyce died. Spike died. Am I missing someone? Probably. Now kill someone. Someone has to die. What’s that? You don’t want to kill someone? Well, hopefully your readers don’t want you to either, that’s the point. Who will it be? I don’t know. If you can kill your main character, go for it. Otherwise, kill someone they love, someone they will be lost without. Not only are we building the tension, but we’re adding [hopefully] emotional impact. Let’s show everyone what that main character is made of. And for God’s sake, in true Whedon fashion, pick a character people like.

Ten things I’ve learned about writing

 

I’ve been writing for a while now. Just about twenty years, so that constitutes a while, right? But since actually saying to myself, “Alright self, let’s stop screwing around and make this official” I’ve learned quite a few things. I’m no expert, not at all, but I’m learning everyday. I’ll lead right into the first thing by saying I don’t promise PERFECT grammar, but I’ll try.

1. Grammar is HARD

I’ve never been much of grammar Nazi, but I’ve learned it’s essential. I’ve been out of the game for a bit, and since hopping back on the horse [and by horse, I mean uncomfortable desk chair] I realized my grammar is slipping. Luckily for me, there are these things called blogs which tell you everything you need to know about grammar. For instance, http://crimsonleague.com/ and http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar to name two. Both of these blogs are great, and give lots of helpful tips.

2. Writing is Easy

Misleading I know, but writing IS easy. However, writing well isn’t. Every time I sit down and 5000 words flies from my fingertips and onto my computer screen, I feel uber accomplished. The problem? Passive writing, tell and not show, redundancy, purple prose…a million other things. But the writing is easy. I’ve never had a real problem with ideas, but I don’t want to write ideas. I want to write people, and events, and I want them to come alive.

3.  You have a voice, let it show.

I love when I read something and I can say, “Oh, I know who this is” without reading the author’s name. That’s called voice. Without it, you’re writing words not a story. Writing doesn’t mean that you don’t have to speak. In fact, it means you have to speak a millions time better. You can’t argue with someone who didn’t get your idea, there’s no explaining the emotions of a character, there’s no going back to justify a joke that fell flat. Everything you want to say needs to be done on paper. It needs to do everything you intended it to without you there to back it up. So where does voice come in? It’s the way you put your words together, the way you describe and build a character, it’s a flow and process, and it’s hard to develop. Start practicing.

4. Your main character must be at least a little likeable

Seems like a given, right? Not for me. I love a good ol’ underdog story, the one with the lost puppy MC. I love the anti-hero. Perfect is boring. But after writing my first draft of ‘STRONGLY WORDED LETTERS’  and having betas tell me that my beloved MC was anything but, I cried a little inside. He came in at the wrong place, he needed a precursor to show why he was loveable. If someone doesn’t like the main character then they don’t care what happens. After re-writing my first chapter and writing it again, he became the guy I always knew he could be. This leads to number 5.

5. Your first chapter sucks!

It doesn’t do anything you want it to do. It falls flat, it’s talky, it starts too soon, it starts too late, there’s too much action, there’s not enough action…can we just start on Chapter 2? Prepare to re-write it. It will happen 90% of the time, everytime. Thank you Brian Fantana.

6. You will query too soon

You’ve finished. You’ve edited. You’ve made a list of super hero agents that will help you make millions. Now it’s time you query them. When you get a request for a full or a partial,  you start spending your imaginary advances and planning your book tour. Then you wait. For months. You get one rejection, and then another. You wonder what went wrong. After sitting that manuscript on the shelf for six months, you decide to dust it off. Lo and behold, you realize, “Well hell, I should’ve seen that mistake”, or “Whoa! Huge plot issue,” or “Why does my dialogue sound like an episode of Dawson’s Creek?” Let that book marinate before you ship it off. I learned that after I wrote my first manuscript. I still have it, and I will re-write it again. Speaking of Dawson’s Creek….

7. Dialogue is important

Ok, so this is something I already knew, but after being a beta for others I want to touch on it. Dialogue is a huge part of character development and should sound like something a character would say. If you have a ten year old girl living in Wisconsin who sounds like Craw Dad Man [the alter ego of Paul Sheer on The League] you’ve got a problem. It’s got to make sense and sound like something that somebody, somewhere, would actually say.

“Hi, Bob. How was your day?” Jane asked, inquiringly.

“Fine Jane, just fine. And how was yours, Jane?” Bob asked, inquisitively.

“Just wonderful, Bob. As you know, little Billy took first in the spelling bee!” Jane said, proudly.

“I do remember that, Jane….”

You get the idea. As you know, Bob’s, ‘said’ after every line of dialogue, or too many adverbs kills it and slows down the pace. And unless we’re dealing with some sort of every other second amnesiac, we don’t need name dropping in every sentence.

8. You need a beta. And don’t call your mom

Mom’s are great. I love my mom, but I know, I KNOW, she isn’t telling me everything I need to hear. Someone needs to read that book, someone who doesn’t mind crapping on your little writer heart. Find someone who will tell you the truth about your writing. You don’t want to be the only person to ever read your manuscript. If you’re the only person who ever sees that masterpiece before an agent does, you could be in for a shock. And an agent? They’re not your mother.

9. Join a forum, or a critique group, but join something!

There’s a lot of websites for writers out there, and they are incredibly helpful. Writing is a lot of sitting solo and developing secretary ass, so it helps to connect with others that feel the pain. Whether you actually want to make life-long buddies, or just get advice and feedback, you should join something. And participate. No one hates it more than when someone posts up half their manuscript for critiquing as their first post. Read other people’s posts and comment. It doesn’t have to be a mind-blowing insight into the human condition, but give something to other people. It helps you in more than one way. You get to learn what other people are thinking when they look at your work, and you get the help you need from the people you help. A good place to start? http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

10. To grow as a writer, you have to write… and READ

Everyday.  Sometimes, when you’re busy writing the next life altering bestseller, you forget to read what’s already floating around. Read in your genre, read what’s popular, but don’t forget to read what you love.

Stand your Ground: License to Kill or Affirmative Defense?

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Justified killing, reasonable violence, warranted deadly force. These terms sound like oxymora, but they are real and valid ways of looking at self-defense as the right of a defendant. Not to say that these terms have become run of the mill occurrences or readily accepted ideals in the minds of most individuals, but they are, and should be an affirmative defense under law. In most cases and states, deadly force may be used only if there is a reasonable belief that the attacker means to kill or cause grave bodily harm. However, recent amendments in some states have all but removed the duty-to-retreat from self-defense, and broadened the areas of stand-your-ground and Castle Doctrine. Allowing the use of deadly force without adequate provocation is a contentious legislative decision, but it has happened. It seems that many unjustified killers have slipped through the legal cracks by claiming the right to stand their ground. When applied as intended, this is a good law, but by loosely applying self-defense in the killing of unarmed and fleeing assailants- real or perceived- this right has become abused and overused, helping to free aggressors eager to claim the lives of others over the most minor of slights.

Invoking stand-your-ground laws grants a person the ability to justifiably use force in self-defense, when there is a reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first. Expanding on this idea, one could also address Castle Doctrine. Arising from English common law, this doctrine also removes the duty-to-retreat from self-defense when an intruder threatens an individual in their own home. In some states, the requirement of being in the home has been extended to any space an individual has a legal right to occupy. Major questions to address are the reasons behind expanding Castle Doctrine, creating the so-called Super Castle Doctrine, and the need to remove the duty-to-retreat.

Self-defense, by definition, addresses the need to defend ones person and property against the unlawful and reasonably perceived aggression of another. By adding duty-to-retreat as a requirement before administering deadly force, the law attempted to safe guard individuals against increased harm. In heated altercations, it is reasonable to assume a person may feel threatened at some point, but in many cases they are not facing a real imminent danger of death or grave bodily harm. If there is a safe and reasonable moment where an individual is able to walk away, it should be taken. Individuals brandishing weapons, threatening a person with death followed by a validating action, or armed and hostile groups giving chase and cornering a single individual, are reasonable assertions at death and grave bodily harm. Other examples can most assuredly be added to that list, but are heated verbal exchanges, a shove by a single teenager, or refusal to listen to a request at a gas station reasons to gun a person down?  Is ending a life a person’s only means of defense against “mouthy” individuals or self-assured rebellious adolescence? Apparently, in some states that answer is yes. The defendant does not have to make any reasonable attempt to remove themselves from the situation. They may not be held responsible for their actions, or required to exhaust better judgment. Any imagined wrong, and in some cases, a normal exchange of words can give a person the legal right to kill another, and later be granted immunity from civil and criminal prosecution. Is there reason to believe that the United States has become so desensitized to brutal fury and righteous self-motivated slayings, that moral thought is no longer a requirement of humanity? I would say no, but I am not a politician dealing with the weight of an upcoming election, the burden of campaign funding, lobbyists and interest groups. I would represent one citizen in a sea of many who would oppose my views.

Using Florida as an example, the statistics would show that since 2005, seventy percent of people who claimed stand-your-ground have gone free (Hundley, Understanding Stand your Ground).  Instances where Florida individuals have benefited from stand-your-ground include the killing of two unarmed people, shooting a man on the ground, and shooting others in the back. Was stand-your-ground and self-defense meant to aid drug dealers in gun chases through the streets? Firing on someone while chasing them through a city seems far from the legal definition of self-defense, yet defendants who take part in such actions have been able to walk free. Stand-your-ground seems to have done little to protect the law-abiding citizen, and much to do with emboldening aggressive individuals, making it easier for them to engage in violent acts against others.

For those who doubt the emboldening effect, one could read about Michael Dunn who invoked stand-your-ground after firing on a group of black teenagers at a gas station for playing music too loud. During the altercation, Dunn killed a 17 year-old boy. Dunn was described as being surprised at his arrest, claiming that he had a right to self-defense. He claimed to have seen one of the boys ‘reach down to grab a shotgun’. Considering Mr. Dunn was parked in a Volkswagen Jetta while the boys sat in a Dodge Durango, it is hard to believe that he ‘saw’ anyone reach down for anything, let alone being able to make out a shotgun on the floor of an SUV while sitting in a sedan. Short of having x-ray vision, Mr. Dunn’s account seems unlikely, especially when eyewitnesses saw Dunn firing on the vehicle as the boys drove off. No fire was returned.

Situations such as this, paint a clear picture of the effect that lax laws have on the minds of aggressive individuals. This man knew he could fire on a car of boys for playing music too loud, and if he could claim self-defense, he would go unpunished. Stand-your-ground has paved the way for increased gun violence in Florida, while decreasing the ability to punish the guilty. It is fair to reason that if these laws were to spread to other states, similar effects would be seen.

I do not doubt the validity of stand-your-ground or self-defense, in the traditional sense of the law. However, as current trends show there has been a movement away from the reasonableness and legal bearing of the traditional meaning. For these laws to remain valid and lawful there needs to be a check in place. Duty-to-retreat, though not perfect, serves this purpose. Society ultimately benefits from requiring people to hold themselves accountable for their actions. The risk of prosecution and jail time does deter individuals from taking advantage of the legal system. Most reasonable law abiding people are reluctant to take a life, and only in the most extreme cases can they be forced to act on instinct or beyond their normal self-control. However, to say that this group of people alone makes up society would be an egregious error. There are those with such little regard for others that taking a life would not weigh on them in the least. Whether for personal gain or self-satisfaction, certain individuals will use a law such as stand-your-ground, as an argument against their imprisonment. This is where the legal system will fail. If the attorney is able to make a compelling enough argument for their defense, they can go free.

Though reluctant to invoke the virtues of natural law, there is a greater ideal and moral obligation by members of society to exercise restraint. Lives are not expendable, and it is not for the average citizen to take on the stance of vigilantism to right perceived wrongs done against them. If the standard consensus among society were to revert to this reasoning, law would become obsolete. Would man-kind degenerate to anarchy and chaotic renegade killings if law were to vanish? One would hope not, but by removing the barriers of societal moral obligations for the valuation of individual life, a great trust is being handed to the people, and not all are willing to live by the honor system. There are those that are certainly waiting to make a fool of a naïve legislature, and given the chance, the abuse of self-defense laws are sure to continue.

Like A Virgin Blog Hop

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So I’ve only just started blogging. Today. But I’ve entered this writing contest called Like A Virgin, and they’re doing something called a blog hop. So I am new to this, and have never participated in such a thing, but I’ll give it a go. I already feel like I’ve done something wrong. I was right, I did. I didn’t put my name in the link, so this is Sarita. Sorry!

So here are my firsts. I don’t promise that you’ll be entertained, but then again I don’t know you, so maybe.

  • How do you remember your first kiss?

Good question. Let me search the memory banks and see if I can pull it up.

I’m getting a lot of Truth or Dare but I refuse to count those, so I think I was fourteen when a real kiss happened.  OH MY GOD! I just remembered my first kiss! What a let down. I’ll never forgive you!

I was indeed fourteen and this 19 year-old Dominican boy was going door to door selling water coolers [this is already grand] and he happened upon my door. Now I always, as a rule, let strangers into my house, so I invited him in for the customary refreshments: Kool-Aid and crackers. He was obviously impressed. My mother was not interested in the water cooler, which by this point, neither was that boy. He scooped up those digits [this was the 90’s] and promised to call.

The next night we had this ‘date’ and I can’t for the life of me remember this guys name. He went all out in preparing, he bathed in his Joop! cologne, slipped on his pointy-toed red cowboy boots, and prepared to take me nowhere in particular. Not one for being cautious, I was up for just about anything. We ended up in a dark park in Providence RI, that at the time, had a reputation for being a drug and liquor haven for underage teens come nightfall. Naturally, that is where we wanted to end up. All he wanted to do was make out, I wasn’t really up for that, but I did kiss him.

His mouth tasted like soap and he was a sloppy kisser. Even as a first timer, I knew that the tongue wasn’t supposed to completely circle the mouth, but apparently he didn’t. My entire face felt like it had been misted in sour soap. I was too embarrassed for him to wipe it off, so I let it air dry. My face ended up stiff like was wearing a glue face mask.

  • What was your first favorite love song?

My first favorite love song was either Amel Larrieux ‘Make Me Whole’ or Rolling Stones ‘Wild Horses’. Both equally amazing in their own right.

  • What’s the first thing you do when you begin writing for the day?

I first read what I wrote the night before. I make any obvious edits and make sure that anything I start today melds with what I did yesterday.

  • Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

My memories of writing go so far back it’s hard to tell, but I think it would be Lois Lowry. When I read The Giver, I was like “Yeah, I wanna do this”.

  • Did the final revision of your first book have the same first chapter it started with?

Nope. Not at all.  I always end up changing the beginning. I usually end up adding a start and then re-writing the addition.

  • For your first book, which came first: major characters, plot or setting?

I always say “I want to write about someone that feels like ** and believes such and such, then this happens”. Books are very much about character for me, so I have a person in mind before I think of how I want to destroy them. I want to get to know how they would react when something comes along and changes them before I take it all away.

  • What’s the first word you want to roll off the tip of someone’s tongue when they think of your writing?

Passion would be good. Always. I never want it to feel like I’ve written something to write something. I don’t want it to feel like I’m looking at words I made up, but instead someone’s real life.