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I am Not Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl: my guilty pleasure.

Sung to the tune of I’m so Superman (theme song to Scrubs). I’m no Gossip Girl.

GGSomeone once questioned why we call it “guilty pleasure.” Why should one be guilty for enjoying something they love? They’re right.

Before I begin, I have to warn you that there are major spoilers ahead. I am going to reveal the ending.

*** SPOILER WARNING ***

Gossip Girl is about rich spoiled brats who scheme with and against their on/off friends and significant others and outsiders. The characters are terrible people, but they have depth, and the soap opera twists are good.

I started it in high school and just now finished it (my high school graduation was 2008). I loved the show then, and I love it now. Why am I writing my post about Gossip Girl? Because Dan Humphrey (a character who is a writer) and the stories around him inspired me to get back into writing, and I have delved in deeper than I had hoped into my potential story for NaNoWriMo 2017. That makes it about writing and thus, the post belongs here.

But this isn’t a review because I watch Gossip Girl for the pretty people. This is me appreciating how ingeniously twisted the whole thing was and wondering how I didn’t see it coming. Granted, I am not one to attempt to predict the endings, so I wouldn’t know if some subconscious part of me did see it coming. Although even up to the very last second of mystery, I thought it was someone else. And to be honest, I don’t think I ever cared who Gossip Girl was; I really was just watching pretty people plot revenge.

That all is just an excuse for me not foreseeing the ending. DUH! Dan’s a writer! And this post is an excuse for me to procrastinate without feeling guilty because I am technically still writing.

And it’s based on a book series which I don’t plan on reading because I’d rather watch pretty actors play petty than read about it petty teenage characters. Again, still relevant to this blog; it involves books.

***SPOILER: I am also going to SPOIL Bones ***

TV shows are good for my writing. For example Bones was a big inspiration for my 2013 NaNo novel. In 2015 I was still watching Bones, and one of the new characters became an inspiration for my NaNo 2015 character. And in between, watching Bones helped me get back into editing the 2013 novel.

While I’m reviewing TV shows, that last season of Bones was a let down. I love that show, and that last story line let me down. I really wanted Zack to be as convoluted as you thought he was going to be in the first episode of the last season.

One small story line from Smallville has inspired my upcoming 2017 novel. I’m not taking a whole story; just a premise that is probably not original to Smallville: memory wiping. I hope it will be grand in my novel.

My Hopes and Dreams

I want to collect art and throw parties and tell people about the painter. *Cue snobby rich person accent* “Sir Charlie Rosenburg. Did you know he’s an American? How did he get to be called ‘Sir’ you ask? Well he got one million likes on his post, and parliament had to knight him. And that was just one million followers from England alone. This painting is of his dog who he calls Sir Mumford. He knighted the dog himself.”

I want to donate to and foster homeless dogs.

How will I do that? Write one best selling novel after another. Or get discovered from this blog and do a million little writing projects for pay. Or keep dreaming.

I hope you’ll love me (my writing).

XOXO,
Gossip Girl (Not)

Random thought: Gossip Girl but with dogs.

Spotted, Reese the chocolate lab and Champ the stray mutt sniffing butts. Reese had his collar on, but where was his human?

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Unfinished YA Novels

Blue is for Nightmare series by Laurie Faria Stolarz is basically Gossip Girl with witchcraft and murder. I like Gossip Girl, the TV show, but it’s not something I want to read. Witchcraft and murder I want to read about.

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I finished the first and second book because for a long time I only had the second and third book. When I finally found the books I needed to complete the series, it seemed like such a waste not to read them all. I did not finish book three, and I don’t plan to finish the series.

Each book in the series is a cookie cutter of the last. She introduces a couple new characters, but they are the same stories with different symptoms of the same problem: figuring out who is going to kill who and how with witchcraft and home remedies she learned from her grandmother.

Even in one individual book, the character goes through the same thing over and over in different locations and it gets tiring to read.

There’s a pro to the big con. Stolarz writes a mean drum roll (reference I took from How I Met Your Mother’s Victoria) to a kiss: the anticipation, the teenage tension.

Hero by Perry Moore gave me a chapter and a half, and I was done. According to the book jacket, the main character is the son of a disgraced superhero and is invited to join a league of superheroes but must keep the fact that he has powers from his dad.

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The first couple of pages were interesting enough. Why does everyone avoid his dad? Ooh, he has a power, and he’s using it. Interesting stuff and then the opposing basketball team calls the character out for being gay. It’s not that the character is gay that I have a problem with but how heavy handed the prose was. The more I read, the more I could feel an agenda being pushed.

It reminded me of the episodes of Glee that focused on Kurt Hummel and his father not being able to accept that he was gay. Heart wrenching stuff, and I like Glee.

I don’t like that it felt forced into the story of Hero.

As much as I love cheap books, maybe they’re on the sales carts for a reason…

Comment on Young Adult Novels:

I think as a teenager, I may have enjoyed reading the books I mentioned above as they are categorized as “young adult.” Does that make my older adult judgement unfair?

Good writing should appeal to everyone. For example, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a series I loved in the fourth grade and have recently reread them and still love to this day. Another example is Harry Potter, a young adult series loved by ALL.

Current Projects:

I am currently reading a book that is tougher to read on the go.

And around this time of year, everything gets jumbled up into one big ball of projects in my head: Halloween, NaNoWriMo, AND Christmas ornament painting!

Recent Addiction & Projects

Titus

I had a temporary addiction to autobiographies/memoirs written by celebrities like:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  • The Only Pirate at the Party by Lindsey Stirling
  • The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
  • Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
  • Scrappy Little Nobody Anna Kendrick
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

I don’t know if they’re technically supposed to be called memoirs or autobiographies, but I couldn’t stop reading them. It’s almost like hanging out with them. But I also have to question whether they actually wrote it or if a ghost did it for them. That’s a writing joke: ghost writer. Get it?

Anyway, I usually pick up the ones I “know,” as in, I’m familiar with a lot of their work i.e. I love everything they appear in. It started with Bossypants by Tina Fey because I think she started this trend, and a friend from film club raved about it, and he was right to.

My most recent readings have been Mindy Kaling’s two books. I like her and many of the celebrities I’ve chosen to read because I have confidence that they wrote their own books because they are writers of their shows or material (i.e. Lindsey Stirling and her music composition).

My latest obsession: The Mindy Project which is the reason I picked up Mindy Kaling’s books, and I regret nothing! I loved them. She is my spirit celebrity (like spirit animal). Basically her new famous take on life is pretty much how I would respond to being famous. How I wish McDonald’s would gift me with their gift cards themselves!

My Own Projects

Speaking of memoirs, lets talk about mine! Just kidding! but I would like to take some time to talk a little about my current projects.

I opened up a document from Jamie and Ryan, my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel the other day, and I wrote about a sentence and a half. Since reading about military dogs and gaining a job working with service dogs, I have added a service dog to that story.

A few days later, I remapped some of the story scenes, but the story is changing for the umpteenth time. I’ve even played with the idea of using this new version for NaNo this year, but I want to work on it now, so I will still need to find a new NaNo.

Excuses for my Lack of Progress 

  • New job to prove myself worthy in
  • Still working old TV job
  • Watching Smallville and other shows via Netflix AND Hulu
  • The new season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I didn’t think I would have the time for a while, but I’ve picked up a fiction book again. I finally found the first book to a series where I only owned the middle two our of the four. They’re not clearly marked, and I bought them from a Borders’s closing sale.

I can’t promise I’ll be able to keep to my biweekly routine, but I sure will try.

Chairs Are Where the People Go

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Written by Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti. Heti basically wrote things Glouberman said. And Glouberman sounds like a shy person’s worst nightmare but could also be the best thing to happen to that person. He’s like the camp counselor that makes everyone participate, and if you don’t volunteer, you’ll get called on.

This book is on my Literary Disco reading list, and it is not a novel but more of a philosophical self-help book. It contains the philosophies of Misha Glouberman and some of his takes on how to approach different social situations in a big city.

I would not have normally picked out this book, but it reads a lot like some of the books I’ve read written by celebrities like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and I loved those. It’s like the author is talking to you, and you’re enjoying the conversation. Even though I have no idea who Glouberman is, I enjoyed the conversation.

Some of it anyway. As someone who is not a big fan of socializing with strangers, Glouberman lost my interest, and I stopped reading. I felt like he was saying the same thing but in different situations. It was all about getting involved in social things and talking to people. This book put a new perspective on things for me. It’s a good argument for being social and networking, but not enough for me to change my personal life.

There was an interesting chapter about how artists like him that might be known in their towns and in the town paper are not actually making as much money as everyone thinks they are just because they’re known. He makes a good point. The cheap tickets to see a certain artist are good for us but not the artist, and if you want to support them, you got to spend money on their expensive merchandise. Interesting dilemma, huh?

Besides that, I didn’t get a lot out of the book besides being able to feel like I’m in the Literary Disco book club.

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss

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Number one of a series by Max Wirestone. It made me laugh and surprised me, but I’m not in love with it.

The word “unfortunate” caught my eye because I walked into Half Price Books looking to complete my “unfortunate” series. And then I saw the D20 die. That’s when I picked it up and found the back of the book to be pretty funny, and it was all too relate-able.

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“Salary Desired: Desperately, yes.”

You read the back of the book in the photo above. It’s a quirky mystery novel. Dahlia Moss has an in-game mystery and a real-life mystery to solve. It immediately reminded me of The Guild with Felicia Day (on Netflix, for now- go watch it!).

This is an easy on-the-go book. I don’t know the genre of this book because I found it on display surrounded by other Mother’s Day themed books and goodies, but it reads a lot like a young adult novel (probably mature young adult; the F bomb is dropped and sex is implied).

I have mixed feelings about this novel. My overall judgement is that I enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn’t necessarily say, “You absolutely have to read this!” I enjoyed it because I have a lot of gamer friends, so I got a lot of the jokes and references she made, and they made me laugh. On the downside, if you know nothing about gaming in any form, it can go over your head, and there’s a lot of it.

The character, Dahlia Moss was not as relate-able as I would have liked. Yes, she’s broke, but she’s lucky enough to have a friend to let her live with her rent-free who also knows people who have thousands of dollars to hand out to strangers? Okay, so having a generous friend is not that unlikely, but this roommate is also swimming in money and blowing it on schemes that characters on Disney Channel would pull. Dahlia Moss gets unrealistically lucky. Her generous roommate is also made to be too out there to relate. She’s a funny character and I liked her, but it was too much for me to believe. There wasn’t much back story as to why these two were the way they were or how they clicked so well as friends. I wish there was more to it.

I spotted more than a few typos (is editing a job anymore?), specifically missing words like “the” or “a,” so I filled in the blanks and moved on. This isn’t anything against the author because I can understand being your own editor; that’s why I wonder if Mr. Wirestone had an editor or if editors even exist anymore.

The story took a crazy turn though, and my ears perked up like my chihuahua mix when she hears the rustling of plastic. Good crazy stuff. The motivation, to me, was a little shaky though.

Half way through the book, I joined Goodreads and found that it is #1 of a trilogy. See what I mean when I say I get myself trapped in series a lot (see homepage)? After having finished this book, I’m thinking it’s not a sequential trilogy but more of a “same character, same universe, different story.” I can’t decide if I want to put in the work to look for it and then wait for another one to come out. I don’t have to read the rest of the series now, but half of me is curious enough to want to eventually get a hold of the rest.

This one, The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss could stand alone though. It ended without a cliffhanger, and it didn’t have the pages in the end that suggested I continue and “read the next book.”

Meeting the Author: Soldier Dogs

In this post:

  1. A short review (spoiler: it’s about dogs – it’s a good one).
  2. How down-to-Earth and cool Goodavage is. I now understand the meaning of “down-to-Earth.”
  3. The story of how I almost missed out but didn’t. Thank you to a good friend Erika for texting me about it, and thank you to the boyfriend Jason for doing the research and finding that dogs were involved and for joining me on my adventure.
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Getting my book autographed by the author, Maria Goodavage, and chit chatting about guide dogs!

This was just going to be a small mention; I finally finished this book that I got a few years ago on sale! Obviously, it has to be an entire post since I MET THE AUTHOR! Shout out to the volunteer who let me in the line without having a receipt since I brought my book from home. Thank you kind one!

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This was the picture I was going to use in this small mention. Training and obedience: Soldier dogs vs. one of my dogs.

THE BOOK: SOLDIER DOGS

Fun fact that I’ve told everyone that would listen since I read about it at the beginning of this book: the first military dog was a stray pit bull smuggled on board by a soldier, and that pit bull (without former training) saved a lot of human lives.

The title says it all. This book is about dogs in the military. She starts off with some history of when the military started using dogs. Then it delves into the training of the dogs and the training of the dog handlers (the humans). This book also includes some of the handlers’ stories fighting wars with their soldier dogs. Read the book for details!

If you couldn’t already tell, I am a huge fan of dogs. I am not a fan of dogs not making it. Reading a book about dogs fighting wars: what was I thinking? But I like that it was not sugar coated. She is honest about the intense training these dogs have to go through as well as what they go through in deployment. She assures us positive reinforcement is used in training, but it’s also the military; they’re fighting a war alongside their human!

I have a new-found fascination with service animals. Soldier Dogs is an informative and interesting read, It can also be heart wrenching, so be prepared!

Until this event, I had no idea she had other books, and I have promptly added to them on my list despite being a non-fan of dogs losing their lives, but that is a part of life, and I am fascinated by the work they do. And Goodavage’s Soldier Dogs has proven to be well-researched and well-written, and my appreciation for her work has grown since I met her and seen for myself how genuine she is. You don’t get a lot of that in famous people.

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Now added to my list.

THE AUTHOR: MARIA GOODAVAGE

They say “Don’t meet your heroes.”

Quick tangent: I could be wrong, but I think “hero” in this saying is a Hollywood celebrity. I consider writers to be celebrities. Not that Goodavage couldn’t be my hero but because it doesn’t feel like the right word to use. That doesn’t mean I think of her as less than a hero; it’s just not a fitting word. I admire her work. I look up to her.

Anyway, if we ignore the misfitted word, 2/3 times I have found that that saying is sound advice. But this is the 1/3 time that my hero did not disappoint. She is an amazing lady. As I said in the beginning, she is the meaning of down-to-Earth, surprisingly so. I knew the expression before, but I have pin-pointed the meaning of that word now.

I say surprisingly so because if I had her level of security clearance, I would be so smug about it. I also do not have years of success behind me, so any bit of success would give me an ego like Kanye.

I hope to cross paths with her again in less fan-girl-like circumstances. Maybe we’re authors at the same event. Or she’s doing another book, and I happen to be a dog handler.

HOW I ALMOST MISSED OUT BUT DIDN’T

I was at work at 6 AM, and got home a little after 9 AM and climbed into bed after taking the pups out for their potty breaks. I work in news, and a book festival was mentioned on the show, so I took note of it. It would be going on until 5, so I thought, maybe I’ll check it out after my post-morning-shift nap. It was also Downtown, so half of me did not want to deal with the immense amount of people and car traffic on a Saturday afternoon.

I was all curled up and ready to nap when I got a text that I considered not looking at, but I had to because it’s in my nature to not leave things hanging in the air. It was bugging me, not knowing who it was, what it was about. This is the aforementioned text from Erika. Thank you!

This made me think about it more. She was right to think that this would interest me. This would also interest my boyfriend, so I told him about it and “suggested” he do some research to see if he’d like to go. Being that we’re perfect for each other, he was on the same boat in that we did not want to fight crowds Downtown.

We were on the same boat until he found a panel about dogs in the secret service. What made my ears perk up was the fact that puppies were going to be at this panel. What made me jump out of bed and run to the closet to change was the name of the woman doing the panel: Maria Goodavage! SHE WROTE SOLDIER DOGS! I JUST FINISHED THAT BOOK! I HAVE TO GO! I would have driven over road blocks and people to get there if my boyfriend had not decided that he loved me enough to drive me safely to the San Antonio Book Festival and stand by my side as I fight crowds to meet the woman who has my dream job.

The Adulting AP Test

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Remember those things that got us out of taking certain college courses if we got a decent score? Anyway, this is more of a discussion on Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown.

First, I highly recommend this book unless you have 100% of your shit together which I highly doubt is possible. Even if you have a good 80% of shit together, it still makes for a funny and entertaining read.

On with my thoughts on the book.

While some of the stuff is pretty common sense stuff and some things I’m just too lazy to care to do, it was still an amusing read. I love her financial zoo, which is a helpful section. I enjoyed the fact that she’s a hip hop fan and found lyrics for every occasion (that’s not to say there are hip hop lyrics on every page, but when they pop up, it makes me happy to be reading the book).

It’s entertaining and easy to read. Adulting made easy. Take it with you where ever you go, but I recommend reading this book at home because it is a good motivator. All I wanted to do was adult all day as I read this book.

I think I started with a decent score before starting this book, but I am older than twenty three, the age of which this book seems to assume the reader is. Here are things that make one an adult (according to the book) that I already do:

  • I budget and am financially aware despite still being as poor as I was when I first got out of college.
  • I maintain my car okay.
  • I don’t drink and party like an under-aged teenager.
  • I can cook enough to survive, but don’t ask me to cook for you; you’ll find it bland or over-salted (I never seem to get it right).

Since I wasn’t reading this book fresh out of college, some of it felt like, “Geeze, Mom, I know, I know!” Nonetheless, she’s a funny writer, and I quite enjoyed reading her words.

Not so fun fact: She was a twenty seven year old journalist when she wrote the book, and I was a twenty seven year old news production assistant when I read this book. Ahh! What am I doing with my life? 

There was one good piece of advice that I question. Does anyone ever get to check the apartment that they will actually be moving into before signing a lease for a complex? In my experience, I was never guaranteed the apartment they had me look at, and I didn’t get to see my apartment until I signed the lease. Then I would turn in the inventory sheet that tells them everything that’s wrong with the place, but I would still be legally stuck living in it. But if you can see the apartment beforehand, it is sound advice.

Besides the financial zoo, I enjoyed the “circle of concern vs. circle of action,” so I made my own. Basically, try not to stress too much about what you can’t control (circle of concern), and take action when it comes to things you can control (action).

Concern vs Action

The book is full of wise words like these, and I think everyone should read it. I learned a lot, and I feel more motivated to be an adult.

Some discussion questions she provided (quoted exactly) and my answers:

  • What is your biggest adult failure to date? Be honest. Did it involve coconut-flavored rum? It did, didn’t it? Oh, coconut rum.
    • A lot of failures involved alcohol, but no, I think even worse than any of that was not knowing at all what to do when one gets in a car accident regarding the person who hit me and the insurance companies. Minor detail now, but man was I so stupid then (does this count because I was still in college, but I was also pretending I was capable of adulthood?).
  • If you had a pet zebra, what would you name him? Here’s a few to get you started: Edwin Brewster, Senor Stripes, Karen, Pickles, Trotters.
    • ZZ Stripes
    • Striper Z
  • Name one thing you overlooked before you signed a lease for an apartment that you really, really wish you hadn’t?
    • It’s not so bad, but I tend to overestimate how big a square foot is, so this little studio space is a lot less than I thought.
  • Name some other things crazy people do, then write a one-act play that includes all of them.
    • I cannot think of anything currently, but I definitely want to get to this in another blog post.