Thoughts on The Good Doctor (so far) From Someone With Asperger’s

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The reactions from the autism community in regards to ABC’s latest hit series The Good Doctor are divisive at best. As someone who was diagnosed with Asperger’s, I want to give my own two cents on this show.

I don’t usually watch medical dramas. The only medical-themed show I ever watched was Scrubs and one episode of House. So no, I’m not gonna compare this show to House. Sorry, Hugh Laurie fans.

What I will say is that I think the character of Shaun is a great positive portrayal of someone on the autism spectrum. And while I understand that the character of Shaun Murphy might be better portrayed by someone who is actually on the autism spectrum, I have to give props to Freddie Highmore for all the work he does into making Shaun Murphy into a believable person and less like Rain Man. In the first episode, I immediately related to the last scene, when Shaun asked his colleague, Claire, about when exactly she was lying to him since her behavior towards him changed from not trusting him to trying to be his friend.

I think this show has a great supporting cast as well. Dr. Glassman is great as the well-meaning mentor and “father figure” to Shaun, but his approach is a bit too “helicopter parent.” Dr. Andrews is so far my least favorite character. His ambitions are clear, but he’s inconsiderate and unrealistic in the way he looks at Shaun, especially in the most recent episode. I’m not saying that Shaun should get any special treatment, but given that Shaun doesn’t drive and that recently, he had a very public mental breakdown, some leeway should be given for his frequent tardies and his recent absence.

Dr. Claire Brown reminds me a lot of Carla from Scrubs. Half the internet ships her with Shaun, but I see her as more of a sister-type, trying to understand Shaun without talking down to him. The reason I don’t ship Shaun with Claire is because Claire is already sleeping with Dr. Kalu and is attracted to Dr. Melendez. Speaking of, these two doctors are honestly the more realistic types of ally/antagonists compared to Dr. Andrews. Dr. Melendez is a jerk, but it’s mostly because he’s task-oriented and focused on getting the job done as best as he can. Dr. Kalu is the opportunist “renegade” who isn’t afraid to think outside the box, but he can be a bit too headstrong and he’s not always a good friend to Shaun.

One character who does turn out to be a good friend for Shaun is Lea, the girl next door. (Side note: Dear writers, do any of you own a gaming system? The meet cute could’ve worked if she was playing XBox and needed double As. Please keep that in mind, thank you very much.) Aside from Claire, Lea is the only major character who doesn’t talk down to Shaun or acts like a helicopter parent. Whether she’s the best influence is up for debate, given the most recent episode, but daredevil driving antics aside, I like her. She treats Shaun like any other normal human being, challenging him and actually listening to him, but in a way that he feels comfortable with.

Back to Shaun, though. I love that he is open to learning about social interaction. I love that he can handle himself when it comes to surgery and handling chaotic situations like an emergency room triage (see episode “Not Fake”). His best moments with patient interaction can be seen in “Point Three Percent,” “22 Steps,” and “Sacrifice.” The emotional meltdown he had in “Sacrifice” was also very realistic.

If you’re wondering, by the way, why Shaun can handle an emergency room triage, with all the sirens and voices talking over each other, but not handle trying to stand up to Glassman about going to therapy, it’s my personal theory that Shaun is INTP. He can compartmentalize stuff that happens to him, but it also includes not talking about what he wants outside of simple, material things. Granted, the meltdown is partially Glassman’s fault because instead of just trusting that Shaun handled the attempted robbbery, he keeps trying to find people who can take care of Shaun. It’s well-meant, but inconsiderate.

There are some things about Shaun that surprise me, however. I’m surprised that Shaun has never met someone with autism aside from himself. Granted, I had the privilege of going to a support group with other people on the autism spectrum.

What I can’t imagine, however, is that Shaun never really listened to music. It would be believable if he doesn’t like mainstream music, but I can’t imagine that Dr. Glassman didn’t look into the connection between music therapy and autism if he was really set on helping Shaun out. I do buy, however, that Shaun remembers things by smell. Sensory awareness is very much tied to having autism, especially tying memories to certain things. For me, I remember visual stuff: books I read, various movies/tv shows/web videos I watched. I’m glad that Lea introduced music into Shaun’s life.

The most recent episode, by the way, was awesome as it was crazy. The impulsive road trip, along with the bit of reckless driving and subsequent drinking, would probably scare any parent, but resonates with anyone who just wanted to get away from it all during a bad time. I know I’ve had that desire in the past to just go somewhere after something bad happened. I’ll admit that the driving part was definitely dangerous, but I’m just glad nobody got hurt. Mostly, I’m glad that Shaun finally found someone he could love. Lea might be a bit of the “manic pixie dream girl,” but she’s encouraging Shaun to live for himself.

I will give my overall thoughts of The Good Doctor once the first season ends. For now, I really, really like this show and can’t wait to see what happens next!

The Complexity of Forgiveness in “The Crown”

the-crown

Season 2 of the hit Netflix original series The Crown centers on the many changes that Elizabeth experiences as she continues her reign. There’s a new Prime Minister, a new love interest for Princess Margaret, and the promise of more children for Elizabeth and Philip.

Amidst all the change, though, one episode caught my interest. “Vergangenheit” centers on the Duke of Windsor as he hopes to gain some kind of diplomatic/liaison position as he has grown tired of endless parties. However, information in regards to the former King Edward’s Nazi sympathies has also surfaced.

One interesting subplot from this particular episode is Elizabeth’s curious fascination with televangelist Billy Graham and actually seeks his advice in regards to forgiveness. Elizabeth examines her conscience as both head of state and head of the Church of England. She needed spiritual direction to figure out how to handle the situation with her uncle. It was utterly absurd to see the Queen of England seek spiritual advice from an American televangelist, but she stated that since she’s the head of the Church in England, there is nobody above her other than God Himself.

In the end, Queen Elizabeth decided that her uncle was still exiled as part of the agreement in his abdication. What was once rumors and hearsay became cold hard facts when she learned about how close England was to becoming a Nazi state. The Duke of Windsor claimed that he just wanted peace. The photographs that were shown at the end of the episode, however, showed that he was really being a coward. As much as he claimed to hold onto his individualism, he wanted to do so at the cost of millions of lives, casting all familial loyalty and love for his people aside. Although the Duke of Windsor initially denied his Nazi sympathies, claiming that he had no idea what kind of person Hitler would become. However, photographs from history show otherwise. If Hitler won the war, Edward and Wallis would’ve been instated as puppets for the Nazi regime.

The reason this particular episode fascinated me is because of how complicated the nature of forgiveness was for Elizabeth. She did the right thing by not allowing her uncle to have any of the positions he aspired to. He couldn’t be trusted with any sort of job that represents England given how he was willing to just lie down and let Hitler walk all over him. However, Elizabeth couldn’t forgive him on a personal level, either and it’s that inability to forgive that weighs down upon her at the end of the episode. Her husband, of course, assures her that she did the right thing and they share a moment of happily married bliss. And all is well for the British monarchy.

I don’t blame Elizabeth for not being able to forgive her uncle on a personal level. As the queen, she has a love for her subjects and was deeply affected by the war on a personal level. However, while she did the right thing in denying her uncle any liaison or diplomatic positions, she should have learned something about forgiveness: It doesn’t mean forgetting what has been done. It means letting go of her anger and wishing the best good for him. I don’t think she would’ve been able to let go after finding out the information, but forgiveness is a process, especially since the Duke of Windsor himself refused to apologize.

There are many actions people deem as unforgivable. “Being a Nazi” tops most people’s lists. Do you think that you can let go of the anger towards people who are fascist and racist? I’ll just leave this video from Bishop Robert Barron where he explains that the reason we forgive is because mercy challenges us to become saints. And I think forgiveness is part of that.

The Naughty List Writing Tag

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This writing tag came from Jenna Moreci. Don’t worry, readers. This little game is Safe For Work.

THE RULES:

1) Provide a brief description of your novel before beginning. NO MORE THAN 5 SENTENCES.

My Ex is a Vampire is a YA/urban fantasy/paranormal novel that centers on Jane and Andy, two seemingly average teenagers who are gifted with the power to fight and kill vampires. Jane is a class rep with a stellar reputation and Andy is a delinquent, but the fight against evil compels them to work together. The fight becomes more personal when their exes become vampires. Will they take them down or figure out a way to save their exes from becoming complete monsters?

2) If your cast is fewer than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than twice. If your cast is larger than 15 characters, you can’t use the same name more than once.

My novel has more than 15 characters total, so I’ll use my minor characters for some of the answers here.

THE QUESTIONS:

#1 Which character is SO into the holidays, they nearly cause a street-wide power outage from all their Christmas lights?

Jane’s sister, Gabrielle. If there’s one thing that Jane and Gabrielle have in common aside from their love for all things sweet, it’s their love for the holidays. However, while Jane prefers making holiday treats, Gabrielle loves decorating and especially loves Christmas lights. She would be the one watching ABC’s Holiday Light Fight and taking notes on how to use that for her house.

 

#2 Which character attends the office new years party with ONE date…and goes home with someone else?

Leticia. She is the queen of the “popular” clique in Saint Marcellus Catholic School. Given that she’s 17, she’s not super-serious about relationships and she is willing to trade up for the most superficial reasons.

 

#3 Which character is more than happy to steal Hanukkah gelt from poor, unsuspecting children? [Note: Hanukkah gelt = chocolate coins]

Conner. Jane’s jerk of a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. Conner starts out the novel being a selfish jerk who likes to throw his weight around. He even bullies his little sister, so I can see him cheating at dreidel just to make sure he gets the most chocolate.

 

#4 Fill in the blanks: I saw ____[character]____ doing a whole lot more than ____[verb]____-ing Santa Claus. They were full on ____[action]____.

I saw Jane doing a whole lot more than eating cookies with Santa Claus. They were full on baking reindeer treats.

Jane is a warm, loving person and she loves to bake when she’s not hunting vampires. Not only would she make cookies for Santa, she would also make something for the reindeer as well.

 

#5 One of your characters decides to pregame before church and passes out in the middle of the Christmas service. Which character is it?

Donovan’s uncle, Pete. Pete is a sports reporter and he loves to tailgate, alcohol included. So if he winds up falling asleep during a homily, it’s probably because he came back from a tailgating party.

 

#6 Which character hasn’t been seen since winter began because they refuse to deal with the snow?

Principal Mallory. While nobody in the novel has much experience with snow, given that it’s set in Texas, Principal Mallory absolutely hates the cold and can be a serious grinch around the holiday season. She gets better, though, but never likes winter.

 

#7 Which character completely forgot about the holidays and ends up regifting to everyone?

Tamara is the most likely candidate for this, mostly because she celebrates Hanukkah and her parents never really give her what she really wants. So she regifts anything she gets for Hanukkah, but tries to make sure that the person actually likes what they get.

 

#8 Which character has such crappy luck, they only discover their potato allergy after pigging out on latkes?

Donovan, for sure. While Donovan is the life of the party and a great brother, he also has problems with handling his romantic relationships, so if he has an allergic reaction to latkes, Tamara is probably the one behind it.

 

#9 The Krampus has arrived to punish your very bad characters. Which character is kinda into it?

Desdemona, my villain. Desdemona has a lot of experience with sadomasochism. She would probably make the Krampus her pet.

 

#10 One of your characters should be on the naughty list, but has convinced Santa to clear their name. Which character is it, and what was their means of persuasion?

Andy. Andy, Andy, Andy. Andy may get in a lot of trouble at school and has committed more than a few acts of petty theft, but Andy is also loyal to those he loves and he would convince Santa that he should be on the nice list because his good actions outweigh all the trouble he caused.

NaNoWriMo Log: Always Starting Over

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There are a lot of things I learned this month. Although I had fun this month, I didn’t really win. So I decided to write about three fundamental truths that I learned from this whole experience.

Lesson number 1: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Back up everything. If you’re using Scrivener, learn how to export your stuff properly and save everything under a new file. Don’t replace old stuff. And don’t throw anything away. You might find some good stuff in your old stories.

Lesson 2: Take your time.

I still stand by what I said about how outlines are basically guidelines, but this NaNoWriMo I learned that I can’t write by the seat of my pants the way I used to. This may not apply to everyone, but I definitely realize that I needed to dedicate more time in prepping this novel. I needed time to create detailed outlines, character profiles, and worldbuilding notes. Even if you’re a pantser, you still need to take some time to develop everything that’s in your head and give it some structure.

 

Lesson 3: Cheaters never prosper.

While I’m glad that I have a lot of old stories in my archives, it never felt right just copying and pasting stuff from them to add to my word count. Each novel is its own unique universe and you have to treat it as such. If you find something in your old WIPs that might fit into your new book, you still have to rework it to fit with the new book.

 

I hope everyone had a great time with NaNoWriMo. My personal wish is that I do better next year. But I think we can all aspire to that. There’s always room for improvement and there’s no shame in starting over on a blank slate.

Taylor Swift’s reputation: Love It or Hate It?

reputation cover

I’m having a love/hate relationship with reputation era Taylor Swift. So lemme get all the “hate” out of the way first. I had no knowledge of her big scandal/feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. I trust Taylor Swift way more than Kanye and Kim. What I don’t trust Taylor Swift on right now is her love life. This album isn’t exactly “telling it like it is.” And I’m not gonna go into a tirade about how disappointed I am that Taylor is “not that innocent” anymore. Someone else did it for me.

That said, I still love Taylor Swift. In the end, I want her to be happy and I want to believe that once she properly deals with her issues instead of being insecure and drinking too much, she will finally find the happiness she has been looking for.

This blog post won’t be a moral tirade of how Taylor needs to change, though. Instead, I want to tell you whether this album is worth your money on a track-by-track basis. You can buy the individual tracks on Amazon or just listen to the promotional singles on YouTube, but it’s ultimately up to you whether this album is worth your money.

After listening to the album from beginning to end, only two out of the 15 tracks are ones that I can guarantee that everyone will love: “Call It What You Want” and “New Year’s Day.” The rest…well, read on and decide for yourself.

fifteen taylors

There’s also a theory that each of the fifteen Taylors from the end of the “Look What You Made Me Do” represents one of the tracks on this album. I’ll be guessing which Taylor the song might be about.

  1. ...Ready For It? : 6/10. I love the music video for this song more than the song itself. The lyrics are dangerous and provocative. Also, I so don’t believe the line “I’m so very tame now.” Not with the way you’re talking in this track, Taylor! I think the Taylor in the fishnet stockings fits this song because of how Taylor dressed when she performed it on SNL.
  2. End Game (featuring Ed Sheeran & Future): 7/10. This is a hip-hop/rap track that I have to admit is fun and catchy, but Future’s presence is honestly unnecessary. I kinda swoon over Ed Sheeran’s voice, though. I think the “Shake it Off” ballerina Taylor fits this song because it’s reminiscent of 1989’s sound. Best line: “I swear I don’t love the drama. It loves me.”
  3. I Did Something Bad: 3/10 because the bridge was the only part I liked. You know the Taylor in the velvet leotard with the word “rep” at the center? This one embodies her. A dark and twisted song with a chorus that basically embodies the nature of sin: It starts out feeling good, but you kinda resign yourself to it. “This is how the world works” is the most telling lyric. Also, they didn’t burn witches in the Salem Witch Trials.
  4. Don’t Blame Me: 1/10. This song is basically Blank Space 2.0, represented by the bank robber Taylor who’s wearing a sweater that says “Blinded by Love” and got compared to Harley Quinn. Comparing your love to a drug is too Ke$ha 2009. Can’t you be more like present-day Ke$ha who’s singing about praying?! The most telling lyric: “Baby for you, I would fall from grace.”
  5. Delicate: 6/10. This song is almost authentically vulnerable, which is why I think it corresponds with the sparkly dress Fearless-era Taylor. Meeting a new guy, being uncertain of whether this will work? Hoping that someone will love you for who you truly are? That I can relate to. Inviting him up to your room and saying “I don’t wanna share”? Not so much. Basically, I like the pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge more than the verses. “Is it too soon to do this?” Honey, I think it’s too late.
  6. Look What You Made Me Do: 3/10. There are many reasons why this song doesn’t work for Taylor. The biggest reason is that this is a villain song and even though she tried with the whole Snake Queen look, Taylor is not a villain. She’s just majorly flawed. That said, somebody made an AMV to this song using Death Note and it is perfect.
  7. So It Goes…: 1/10. I don’t like this track. It sounds good, but…let’s just say that the Taylor in the giant birdcage is a great indicator of the state of Taylor’s soul right now. (And yes, I know I said it before. It bears repeating.) This and a few other songs on here can easily fit on a 50 Shades soundtrack, with lyrics like “You know, I’m not a bad girl, but I do bad things with you” and “scratches down your back.” And that’s not a good thing.
  8. Gorgeous: 8/10. I loved this song when this came out, but upon listening to it more, it’s starting to sound like a mixed bag. The song is relatable because everyone has probably found someone attractive even though they were in a relationship with someone else. Acting on those feelings is another story. Best line: “Guess I’ll just stumble on home to my cats.” I think Met Gala Taylor represents this song cuz the dress is gorgeous.
  9. Getaway Car: 6/10. I’m pretty sure this song is about Calvin and Tom. The way that Taylor is telling the story, it paints Tom as being her “rebound guy” from Calvin and the relationship in this song sounds like it didn’t last long, doomed from the start. Biker Girl Taylor is the best candidate for the representative for this song as Taylor compares herself and the person in the song to “Bonnie and Clyde.”
  10. King of My Heart: 9/10. I love the song conceptually. The idea of finding real love after thinking you’re done with it, not to mention wanting a more simple life? More of this please! Just cut out the line “We rule the kingdom inside my room” and this song would basically be perfect. Also, the chorus of my song is MY LIFE! It takes me to Heaven and back! The “You Belong With Me” Taylor in the Junior Jewels shirt definitely fits this song!
  11. Dancing With Our Hands Tied: 5/10. I have no clue who this song is about. On the one hand, I want to pick the Out of the Woods zombie Taylor because the song is about uncertainty in the midst of a relationship, but a lot of Swifties compared this song to “Holy Ground,” which means it’s more like the Red Era Circus Ringmaster Taylor. I don’t like the title of this song, either, cuz…well, the image that comes to mind is very 50 Shades of Grey.
  12. Dress: 2/10. This song is the most 50 Shades aside from “Don’t Blame Me.” Give this song an R rating for explicit, provocative lyrics! (That was not a compliment.) My best friend thinks that it could work if you think that the dress is a wedding dress, but this song is far from being romantic, even if it sounds ethereal. This song isn’t “deep and tender,” as Taylor claims. It’s just one big “F#$& Me” song. Also, I have no clue which Taylor fits this song.
  13. This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: 5/10. The Taylor dressed in a cheetah print coat talking about “getting receipts” fits this song because this is a good-sounding, bitchy, condescending song that gives a big middle finger to Kanye and Kim. This is the song that comes to mind when I think of “complaining about being famous” songs. I really hope you forgive Kanye and Kim someday, Taylor, because forgiveness isn’t a “nice thing to do,” it’s a necessity if you really want to move on and be happy. That said, she should have made this her first single because it’s honestly clever.
  14. Call It What You Want: 9/10. This song is such a huge mood whiplash from the previous song. But I loved this song from the moment I heard it and still love it. The idea of having someone in your corner in the midst of all the hard times in life is something I love. But Taylor definitely seems happy in the lyric video for this song. Since the Taylor in the background is standing on a plane, I can’t help but hope that this is the song that represents the Real Taylor.
  15. New Year’s Day: 10/10. If there’s one song that I think everyone should buy, it’s this one. The lyrics are basically “relationship goals” in song form: spending time with the one you love and cleaning up after a party, planning for the future, promising forever, being with him/her for better or for worse. I love that Taylor plays the piano because it just sounds beautiful. This is the best sounding track, musically and lyrically.  This is also one I think represents the Real Taylor, the one standing in the back.

I hope Taylor’s next album will be one I can love with all my heart and sound more like the last two tracks. As it is, I’ll just live with the “Dark Taylor” and pray that this is just a phase.

Best Book Related Memories

my bookshelf

For a bit of #FlashbackFriday fun, I want to join in on the “Best Book Related Memories” tag. The rules of the game: list 3 of your favorite memories that relate to books, whether it means reading a book, writing a book, or just has anything to do with books in general.

Thanks to Jenna Moreci for tagging me (and all her other viewers).

  1. My first real “short story.” For the longest time, ever since I had internet access, I wrote fanfiction. Really, really, really bad fanfiction. But then I decided to write what is called a “song fic” to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” because basically, everyone was doing it and created original characters to fit the story of the song. When I printed out the first version of this short story, I marveled at how many pages I wrote. This “short story,” dear friends, was what inspired me to want to write a novel. It eventually led to the creation of Jack, Lorelei, Kira, Travis, and Evelyn. You will be meeting them in my Tales of the Vocati series. It took me a long time to find the right story for these characters.
  2. How I got into Jane Austen. The way I got into Jane Austen wasn’t through watching Becoming Jane or reading one of her books, although when I was a kid, I saw episodes of Wishbone that adapted a few of her novels. No, it was through a biography: Emily Auerbach’s Searching For Jane Austen. It was in my high school library. It’s not an easy biography to find, but to me, it fascinated me that someone tried to understand a writer based on the works they wrote. It’s a modern way to figure out a person and it doesn’t always apply to every writer, but I liked the idea of Jane being more than just someone who wrote romantic stories. There was some real depth to them. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, I highly recommend reading this biography.
  3. Sci-fi Meets Classic Literature I don’t usually read sci-fi as a genre. I am tired of dystopias and stories of corrupt governments oppressing everyone. For me, fiction is about escapism and getting to know characters on a personal level. Then I read the Jane E trilogy by Erin McCole Cupp. Die-hard Jane Austen fans like myself will tell you that most of the time, fans of classic literature will either pick Austen or the Bronte Sisters for their favorite 19th Century female writer. That particular disagreement applies to me and my best friend. The ironic thing is that in spite of having Asperger’s Syndrome, I can understand the witty ironies and sarcasm in Jane Austen’s prose whereas my neurotypical best friend can’t. In contrast, my best friend doesn’t consider herself a romantic, but really loves Jane Eyre. I love the character of Jane Eyre, but hate Rochester with every fiber of my being. It took reading this trilogy for my best friend and me to find something we agree on in terms of Jane Eyre. The classic heroine is a lot more active in this version, Rochester is somewhat more sympathetic and likeable, and the themes of integrity ring truer here than in the original version.

Share your favorite book-related memories in the comments.

 

Nanowrimo Progress Report: The Halftime Edition

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This is going to be more of a listicle than an actual blog post, but since I have hit 25,000 words in the first draft of my novel My Ex is a Vampire. Here are some things I learned so far:

  1. I am not a pantser. This is the most pantsing that I’ve ever done for NaNoWriMo. I have an outline, but it wasn’t exactly detailed. I’m not saying that next time I draft this, I will have everything written down to the letter, but I should have a better idea of where things will go. Also, when I started writing out my characters, the unresolved romantic tension between my two lead characters started way earlier than expected. If you want to get an idea of Jane’s state of mind at the start of the book, listen to this song.
  2. The novel has started out in this funny, lighthearted way, but lately I’m writing more dramatic, heavy scenes. And while I know that things get more dramatic as the stakes get raised, I’m wondering how the heck I’m gonna balance all the humor with the more serious stuff.
  3. I tend to be more productive at night. I don’t exactly know why this happening, but I tend to write more when it’s nighttime. This may not apply to every writer, but I know a good number of writers who are night owls. The problem with that is that I still need my 8 hours of sleep.

So basically, this particular NaNoWriMo has been an interesting learning experience. I know that everyone says that first drafts are supposed to suck, but I can’t help but think I should write a better first draft. How crazy is that?

NaNoWriMo Progress Report: Week 1

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I love NaNoWriMo. It’s a great opportunity for me to work on something new.  I’m still planning on finishing up my edits for Love Notes, but right now, my energy is going into my lovely urban fantasy/paranormal/YA book My Ex is a Vampire, the first installment of a series that I’m calling The Tales of the Vocati.

The Vocati are ordinary humans who are gifted to fight vampires and other supernatural creatures. My Ex is a Vampire focuses on two high school students: Jane Miller, a class representative who’s practically perfect in every way, and Andy, a delinquent who loves causing trouble.

Something I learned from working on this so far is that the outline that I created has become more of a guideline. I have an idea of what my characters are doing, but my muse has enlightened me about how my characters interact with each other.

For one thing, I forgot how fickle teenagers can be. I really want to show the emotional complexity my main characters feel about the relationships that they’re in, but they’re teenagers. It’s only a matter of time before the relationships fizzle out and they find new people. But I guess that’s what I get for calling this book My Ex is a Vampire. I never thought leading up to the Ex part would be so hard.

Still, this has been the most fun I’ve had with writing in a while. I plan on blogging my progress every week.

Comment your NaNoWriMo progress. What are some things you’ve been learning so far?

All Hallow’s Tag: My Ex is A Vampire!

NaNoWriMo starts soon. By the time you’re reading this, it’s already Day 1. I decided that I want to start NaNoWriMo off by talking about my project. The best way to do that is to do the All Hallow’s Tag again!

The rules are:

#1 – Provide a BRIEF description of your novel before starting.

#2 – Don’t use the same character for more than 3 answers.

My project for NaNoWriMo is called My Ex is a Vampire, the first installment of a young adult urban fantasy/paranormal series called Tales of the Vocati. The Vocati are humans gifted by the fairies to fight and kill vampires and other evil creatures that lurk in the night. My Ex is a Vampire centers on Jane and Andy, two members of the Vocati. Jane is a student who’s practically perfect in every way. Andy is a delinquent who seems to be nothing but trouble. The only things they have in common? They love to fight vampires, they fight well together, and their exes have become vampires. How will they take their exes down? That’s what I’ll find out this NaNoWriMo.

Here we go.

  1. It’s Halloween night! What is your protagonist dressed up as?  There’s an actual chapter in My Ex is a Vampire that centers on Halloween. Jane dresses up as a girl from the Regency era and Andy dresses up as an aristocratic vampire, also wearing Regency clothes.
  2. Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume? Susanna, Andy’s fairy godmother, is one of the few characters who chose not to dress up for Halloween. Susanna seems like your typical housekeeper and she has a very demure look, but she had a very harsh life, growing up during the Marcos era in the Philippines. It’s hard for Susanna to have fun.
  3. Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be? At the moment, I’m picturing Donovan, one of Jane’s best friends, dressed up as a clown. He wouldn’t be a scary clown, a la Pennywise or Joker, but more of the typical fun circusy clown. Donovan is very outgoing with a great sense of humor and his senior superlative will be “Class Clown,” so the costume totally fits.
  4. On Halloween, werewolves, vampires, and zombies are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into?  Zombies don’t exist in My Ex is a Vampire, but vampires and werewolves do. Jane’s boyfriend, Conner, and Andy’s girlfriend, Katherine, both get turned into vampires in this novel. Hence the title.
  5. Who wins the contest for best costume? Although there’s not a costume contest in my novel, I think Leticia would definitely win this. Even though Leticia is introduced as your typical high school cheerleader mean girl, she is also Mexican, so she would dress up with a sugar skull painted on her face and a beautiful traditional Mexican folk costume a la Coco. Leticia sees this as honoring the culture she comes from, especially since she also celebrates Dia de los Muertos.
  6. Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick and treaters? Principal Mallory, without a doubt. Principal Mallory is the beleagured principal who tries to keep a handle of the craziness that goes on in North Austin High School, where my characters all go. (The story takes place in Austin, TX.) Principal Mallory is all about order and discipline, so she would hand out toothbrushes to remind everyone to take care of their teeth.
  7. Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an angel/devil costume together? As surprising as this may sound, Jane’s parents choose to dress up as this for Halloween. Jane’s mom, Bethany, chooses to dress as an angel because it’s an easy costume to wear and she’s a very warm, friendly person. Jane’s stepfather, George, would dress like the devil because he has a very mischievous, deviant past. It also contrasts to his usual bookish, introverted personality.
  8. Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it? The most likely candidate for that is Tamara, Jane’s other best friend. Although Tamara usually hangs out with Donovan and Jane, she comes from a very traditional Jewish family and they don’t celebrate Halloween. She’s scared of her parents’ disapproval. 
  9.  Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick? Jane’s younger sister, Gabrielle. Although Gabrielle is a dancer, she also has a sweet tooth that’s the size of Texas. She loves chocolate, sugar cookies, and any and all sorts of candy. She really acts like a kid on Halloween and will probably wake up with a stomachache the next morning.
  10. Which character is most likely to place a curse/hex on someone and who would they curse? Desdemona without a doubt, given that she is the main villain of the novel. Desdemona is a vampire from the Regency era who has spent the last couple centuries trying to regain what she lost: her lover, her old lifestyle as the owner of a successful brothel, and her vampire family. If she was able to place a curse on the Vocati who killed her lover, she totally would have.

I hope this has intrigued you about my NaNoWriMo project. Feel free to add me as a buddy by clicking on the link here.

“…Ready for It?” No, I Was NOT!

ready for it

I was really worried that I wouldn’t like Taylor Swift after all the anger she unleashed in her first music video “Look What You Made Me Do.” When I listened to her second single, “…Ready For It?” I still had doubts because it’s her most mature song, implying erotic dreams and having this dark bass beat. I felt a little better when listening to “Gorgeous” because it had actual music on the track, not just synthetic beats, but I wasn’t sure if I could love all of “reputation.”

Then Taylor dropped a teaser of a music video for “…Ready For It?” And I screamed like I just won Hamilton tickets. And when the music video dropped last night, I couldn’t sleep. I watched it multiple times.

There is no way that I could analyze this video completely. I can’t read the Chinese characters in the background. But I’ll do my best to give my own take on this.

The video begins with Taylor with electric blue eyes, wearing a black cape/hoodie, walking through a dark alley surrounded by robots. She pushes some buttons on a keypad and opens up a large room that has another Taylor, looking like a mix of Tron and Ghost in the Shell, trapped in some kind of glass box.

The first thing Swifties on Tumblr have pointed out is that Dark Taylor, the one in the hood, is her reputation in the media. The Dark Taylor is who everyone thinks Taylor is.  The Taylor in the glass box is the Real Taylor.

In the second verse, the Dark Taylor sings to Real Taylor while dressing her up as a cyber-warrior, with black armor.  Real Taylor calls Dark Taylor her “jailer.” This particular moment reminds me of the birdcage scene in “Look What You Made Me Do.” When I saw Taylor in the giant birdcage, I felt like I was looking at the state of her soul, trapped by everything that she’s been experiencing. Dark Taylor also personifies temptation, talking to Real Taylor about how boys are “Burton to this Taylor,” how “you’ll never be alone,” and “no one has to know.”

Another note: The different images that Real Taylor tries on in this video remind me of her music videos from 1989. The armored robot? Totally “Bad Blood.” Then in the 2nd pre-chorus, she’s on a white horse, reminding people of “Blank Space.” In the 2nd chorus, Taylor is holding a blue orb and then she’s surrounded by tiny blue lights, floating in midair, reminiscent of “Out of the Woods.”

As the song goes into the bridge, Real Taylor starts to channel lightning, as if she was a futuristic version of Frankenstein’s monster. I can’t help but think that it’s also a shout out to when she co-wrote Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s “This Is What You Came For,” since there’s a line about how “lightning strikes every time she moves.”\

My favorite part of this video, though, is when Real Taylor and Dark Taylor stand face to face. As the song goes into the third chorus, Real Taylor screams and breaks the glass. The shards cut into Dark Taylor’s skin, revealing her to be a robot. Towards the end of the video, Real Taylor walks up a stairway while Dark Taylor stands on another stairway, being struck by lightning as other robots run towards her. According to Tumblr Swifties, this represents Taylor taking back the narrative, killing off everything that the media has said about her. The video ends with Real Taylor smiling at the death of her reputation and then staring into the camera and asking the audience “Are you ready for it?” as her eyes glow that electric blue one last time.

I was basically waiting for this video. It blows “Look What You Made Me Do” out of the water.

There are some parts of the video that scare me, such as when Real Taylor is covered in snakes (I think) for half a second in the first pre-chorus. And the part where she channels lightning is almost demonic and I didn’t like the phrase on the stairway that Dark Taylor stands on that says “They’re burning all the witches!” I guess it’s supposed to mean that Taylor’s reputation became a witch hunt, but with the term “witch” becoming a badge of honor in liberal feminist circles, I don’t want Taylor embracing the idea of being a witch.

Nevertheless, there’s something in this video that “Look What You Made Me Do” didn’t have: Hope. This video is giving me hope that Taylor is starting this new era with love and happiness and not a desire for revenge and retribution.

Crush the heads of those snakes, Taylor. Grace will be coming for you.