Valentine’s Day Writing Tag

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Once again, Jenna Moreci has participated in a holiday-related writing tag and once again, I decided to blog about it. Valentine’s Day may be over, but since all the candy is on sale for uber-cheap, I decided to keep up the spirit since I was a bit busy being penitential yesterday for Ash Wednesday.

The Valentine’s Day writing tag was created by AuthorTube vlogger Bree Barton, whose debut novel will be coming out this year.

RULES: Describe your WIP in three sentences or fewer. Then answer the following 10 questions.

For this tag, I want to use the characters from my chick lit novel, Love Notes. Love Notes centers on Allie, an aspiring professional pianist who becomes a contestant in a talent search reality show around the same time she begins a relationship with the bass player of a semi-famous rock band. Allie’s ability to be more sociable are constantly put to the test, as she is portrayed as the token “Ice Queen.” Will Allie be able to find her creative voice and become the musician she always wanted to be?

Well, that’s what you’ll have to find out.

Onto the questions!

1. Which character does something epic for another character on Valentine’s Day, only to have it go epically wrong?

This doesn’t happen in the novel, but Allie has tried a grand gesture for her ex-boyfriend back in her college days by singing karaoke in public for him and it went epically wrong because he verbally chastised her after she finished singing. Did I mention that her ex-boyfriend is a narcissistic jerk?

2. Nine million people buy their pets a gift for Valentine’s Day. Which of your characters does this, and what’s the gift?

Nobody in my novel owns any pets, but I can see Elena doing this. Elena is a dancer that Allie befriends on the show. Elena is sweet, nice, and would probably buy a cozy Valentine’s Day sweater for the most adorable kitten in the world.

3. Which character is celebrating Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D.) and how do they celebrate?

Allie’s sister, Stephanie. Stephanie is a college senior interning for a TV show and prefers to just casually date guys for the moment. However, she does want to have a serious relationship eventually, so she would celebrate the “S.A.D.” part of Single Awareness Day by watching Marilyn Monroe movies like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to boost her mood.

4. In 1537, King Henry the Eighth declared February 14th the official holiday of St. Valentine . . . the same King Henry who beheaded two of his six wives. Which character decides to murder someone on February 14th?

Spoiler alert: nobody dies or tries to kill anyone in Love Notes. It’s not that kind of novel! But if someone were inclined to kill someone, even on Valentine’s Day, it would be Regan. Regan is the main antagonist in Love Notes who acts like such a sweet girl on camera, but is actually a total diva in real life. If she could, Regan would murder the people she considers to be her biggest threats to winning the show. And she wouldn’t care if she did it on Valentine’s Day. But that’s not something she would say out loud!

5. Which character writes and performs a sappy love song for their crush?

Jethro, no contest. Jethro is Allie’s new boyfriend and the bass player of a rock band. He also writes songs along with the other members of his band. He actually wrote a sappy love song for her that they dance to in one of the chapters. It’s an adorable little scene!

6. Fill in the blanks: I saw ________ [character] give a box of __________ [noun] to __________ [other character], which made them wildly __________ [adjective/verb].

I saw Cassie give a box of baby clothes to her husband, Pete, which made him wildly ecstatic and sappy. Cassie and Pete are part of Jethro’s band, happily married, but they’re at a point in their lives when they want to have kids. This would probably be Cassie’s way of telling Pete that she was expecting.

7. Every February, the Italian city of Verona receives approximately 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet. Which character writes a love letter to someone who does not exist, and what does it say?

I’m gonna pick a minor character for this one and go with one of the Songbirds. The Songbirds are Regan’s cronies and they’re basically an a capella quartet, but you can’t really tell any of them apart aside from their hair color because they all act very similar. I can see any one of them writing a letter to their “Future Husband” in the Meghan Trainor style. Like “Dear Future Husband, I’m writing this cuz I want to let you know what I want out of a relationship…” You get the idea.

8. Which character breaks up with their significant other on Valentine’s Day by text message (or an equally awful way if there are no texts in your world)?

Eric. Remember that narcissistic jerk of an ex-boyfriend that I mentioned earlier? That’s him. Eric is the most entitled, presumptuous rake who thinks that he’s the smartest man in the universe and deserves the smartest, prettiest woman as his wife. He would dump a girl on Valentine’s Day via text message without a second thought if he finds someone else or just because he doesn’t see any value in her anymore.

9. In Finland, Valentine’s Day isn’t romantic—it’s called Ystävänpäivä, or “Friend’s Day.” Which character celebrates Friend’s Day by playing a massive prank?

Ruby would probably do this. Ruby is an aspiring country rock singer from Memphis who wouldn’t mind playing a prank on the reality show favorites like Regan or the Songbirds as a nice set-down. Regan and her cronies usually get perceived as being the cool girls that everyone wants to be friends with, so a little on-camera prank would show the world what kind of people they really are.

10. One of your characters consumes too much chocolate and champagne and gets sick all over the love of their life. Which character is it?

Chad, the token “heartthrob” of the show, whose only talent is being the white guy with the acoustic guitar. Aside from Ted, Chad is a guy who can get carried away with himself and I can see him overindulging on all the Valentine’s Day related food and drink, only to puke all over Regan because he doesn’t actually have any game underneath his pretty boy demeanor. Chad is the epitome of “all style, no substance.”

Black Panther AKA The History of King T’Challa

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I didn’t have high expectations going into Black Panther and while a lot of people, including the critics are praising this movie to the skies, there are some people who are experiencing what is known as “hype backlash.” This review is just going to express my opinion. So yes, I did like Black Panther. A lot. Is it the best Marvel movie ever? No. But it’s still a great introduction to a hero who is probably not as well-known as the other Avengers. And, aside from Thor, this movie has the most Shakespearean themes, which is a major treat for me.

So here’s the question: How is this movie Shakepsearean?

Minor spoilers ahead.

I can’t compare this movie to any one Shakespeare play. Shakespeare fans may compare this movie to the historical plays, such as any of the ones with Henry in the title. Instead, Black Panther‘s theme is about the responsibility of kingship. Thor’s movies are essentially about the journey to becoming king while Black Panther is about how kingship is carried out in practice.

One thing this movie has in common with the best of Shakespeare is that the movie has a strong supporting cast. The female characters are especially memorable. Shuri is by far everyone’s favorite, being the sassy genius younger sister. In the first part of the film, she is the Q to T’Challa’s James Bond, giving him all sorts of gadgets to use for a mission in Korea. At the same time, she can also hold her own in a fight and she is always a delight in whatever scene she’s in. (Side note: Please don’t ship her with anyone. She’s 16 years old and doesn’t need to be in a romantic relationship. If she shows romantic interest in somebody, ship all you want, but as of now, she ain’t interested in any relationship.) T’Challa’s love interest, Nakia, is thankfully nothing like her comic book counterpart, who was basically a Woman Scorned. She is a spy, whose experience in doing worldwide missions, advocates the idea that Wakanda should be more involved in the world. her weapon being reminiscent of Xena’s chakrams.

And, like the most memorable of Shakespeare plays, the villain is not only memorable, but sympathetic and has a personal connection to the protagonist. Even though Erik Stevens AKA Killmonger has the same motivations of previous Marvel movies (distribute powerful weapons, burn the world, etc.), but Michael B. Jordan puts a personal touch to Killmonger’s motivations. As a child orphaned and abandoned, he becomes a product of his time. Like many of Shakespeare’s villains, he is bloodthirsty and short-sighted, which becomes his undoing.

My one nitpick with this movie is something towards the third act. plot is nothing new and the themes may not resonate with everyone, but I still think this movie is worth watching so that you can make your own call.

How To Survive Valentine’s Day When It’s Also Ash Wednesday

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It’s that time of year again. If you want proof that God has a sick and twisted sense of humor, look at your calendar. Not only does Ash Wednesday fall today, which is also Valentine’s Day, but Easter falls on April Fool’s Day.

For today, I want to focus on how you, fellow Catholics, can survive this day, whether you are single or in a relationship, because Valentine’s Day is hard enough as it is!

  1. If you’re in a relationship, be creative with what you cook for dinner tonight. If dinner is your “big meal,” try making a cheese pizza (no meat) or some nice salmon filets. Or make plans to eat out at a restaurant on Saturday and use today as an opportunity to practice patience!
  2. If you’re single, make breakfast your “big meal.” Having a healthy breakfast will help you have enough energy for the rest of the day.
  3. Drink plenty of liquids throughout the day: water, orange juice, vegetable juice, milk, or hot chocolate if you’re in the Valentine’s mood. Hot chocolate doesn’t count as a meal or a snack, at least not for me.
  4. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, spend time in Adoration today! Check if your local church has the Blessed Sacrament exposed or just spend time in prayer.
  5. Remember that all the Valentine’s Day candy will be very cheap tomorrow. But don’t be a glutton!
  6. Use today as an opportunity to practice charity, which is a higher form of love than just romantic love. Be kind to everyone you meet today, even the person who cuts you off in traffic.
  7. If you’re sick of the Fifty Shades hype, check out Fight The New Drug’s anti-abuse campaign!
  8. If you’re wondering what romantic-related show you should watch today, the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice is on Hulu, as well as Sense and Sensibility (mini-series, not the Ang Lee version). You can’t beat the classics!
  9. Enjoy these penitential Valentine cards from Jason Bach Cartoons!
  10. #MementoMori: Remember that death is inevitable, even on Valentine’s Day.

 

Happy VaLENTine’s Day, everyone!

 

#Superbowlintheconvent AKA Nuns Being Awesome

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Out of all of my tweets during the Super Bowl last night, this tweet had the most likes and retweets. This is about as close as I’ll get to going viral.

For those of you hung over or were too busy paying attention to the game to check your Twitter feed, ChurchPop made an article highlighting the nuns who tweeted throughout the game. I’m honestly surprised that #SuperbowlintheConvent didn’t end up trending because LOTS of people were following that particular hashtag.

I stumbled onto this hashtag when I saw what is currently my favorite Super Bowl ad (apologies to Avengers and Han Solo)

Gotta love that interfaith! Pope Francis would totally love this. And note that nuns were part of this ad, too.

I already follow a lot of nuns on Twitter, so I just checked one and found the hashtag. It quickly became the best thing ever, topping the Justin Timberlake halftime show.

Highlights that ChurchPop didn’t include:

And some love from people who were following the hashtag and applauding all the nuns having fun:

I love being Catholic. That is all. Please pray for all the nuns who were watching the game from beginning to end because contrary to what that Mucinex commercial said, some people will actually show up for work today.

When Dimple Met Rishi-A Book Review

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When Dimple Met Rishi is about two soon-to-be college freshmen who attend a summer program for web development in San Francisco. Dimple is passionate about coding and creating an app that’s focused on healthcare. Rishi plans on going to MIT to study computer science and engineering. They are also in an arranged marriage by their parents. Wait, what?

I got introduced to this book through YouTube, specifically through a video from That Bookie. Thanks to my local library, I was able to check this book out. (Get it?) I devoured this book in a matter of hours and I did not want it to end. With Valentine’s Day coming around, this book is a wonderful read to get you in a romantic comedy mood. This could easily be made into a Bollywood rom-com.

Arranged marriages sound very weird to most young adults in the 21st century, but Rishi and Dimple both come from traditional Indian families and as such, their parents decide to have them meet at the summer web development program to see if they can hit it off. Like all romantic comedies, Rishi and Dimple don’t start off on the right foot. When they get partnered up as a team, however, they start to develop a friendship that slowly, but surely develops into an adorable romance.

Dimple is a thoroughly modern lady, geeky and sweet, but determined to not define herself by her looks or her relationships and the last thing she wants is to be married. On the other hand, Rishi is a romantic, very devout in his Hindu beliefs and passionate about something beyond a career in computers or engineering. They’re both hardworking people with way more integrity than the “Aberzombies” in the summer program who act as the main antagonists in this novel.

From a writing perspective, the storytelling is wonderful. It tells the romance from Dimple and Rishi’s viewpoints in a third person limited perspective. The voices are distinctive and I feel very close to both of the characters. Dimple may seem like your typical Tumblr Soapbox Sadie, but she loves her family and genuinely wants to use her passion to make a difference in the world. Rishi comes off as a sweet, classy gentleman, but his desire to be a dutiful son conflicts with his passion for making art and comic books.

My only nitpick with this particular novel is that there’s a small hookup scene. I hope that I don’t sound like a prude, but I would think that the more traditionally-minded Rishi would think to wait a little longer. The good news is that the hookup scene isn’t graphic. It’s a PG-13 hookup scene and it’s a sweet one. But if hookup scenes aren’t your thing, you can just skip over the pages without any issue.

What I love most about this particular novel is that Dimple and Rishi bring out the best in each other. Rishi learns that he can live for himself without disappointing his family while Dimple realizes that finding true love doesn’t mean conforming to the traditional idea of domesticity.

I wish there was an epilogue in this book. I can already see it, actually. Years later, after Dimple and Rishi finish college, they get married and everyone will laugh about how they fist met. Even though Rishi comes from a very wealthy family, Dimple will technically be making more money than him as an app developer while Rishi will go the route of Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman and publish his comic book series independently.

If you’re a hopeless romantic, I highly recommend this book. Some of the vocabulary will be lost in translation, but it’s a lighthearted, sweet read. And seriously, Bollywood, make this a movie!

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”

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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?

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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.