Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Picking up a new hobby

Over the past few months or so, I've realized something about myself: I don't have a lot of hobbies. Actually, if I'm really honest with myself, I don't have any.

When I was in school, writing was my hobby. I never thought it would be my career, so it was something I did for fun, or when there was nothing else to do. Now that I want it to be my career, both that and my day job have sort of taken over every waking moment. Well, except when I'm reading or watching TV. But reading is a part of my work, and TV can't really be considered a hobby. More like a...vegetation state?

Speaking of vegetables, I've decided I'm going to try my hand at gardening. I grew a few little things when I was a kid, including an attempt at growing a pumpkin, only to have the vine wither and die once summer came. But those attempts were sort of like throwing spaghetti at the wall: Toss it and see what sticks. This time, I'm going to do it right.

I talked to a guy I know who used to own a garden center, and he suggested I start with herbs, because they're easy to grow and you can use a pot. It was supposed to get cold this week, but the forecast says the temperatures during the day are only going to be in the 60's, so I might be able to plant some stuff pretty soon.

Hopefully in a couple of months, I'll have pictures of little sprouts to show everyone!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Playing the waiting game

When I was 12, I was madly in love with the Backstreet Boys. Well, as madly in love as a pre-teen can get with 5 men she's never met. I spent most of my free time listening to their music, writing fan fiction (or thinly veiled fan fiction that served as some of my first novel length works), and a small part of me thought that I might someday marry Nick Carter. Or, at the very least, his younger brother, Aaron, also a singer and, erm, a lot closer to my age.

But this was 2001, when my only access to the internet was via dial up on the clunky family computer. This was before I knew about online forums or Ticketmaster alerts, so seeing them in concert, much less meeting or marrying them, was pretty much out of the question.

In 2001, after the release of their third album, the band took a hiatus. Most people who weren't fans -- and even a lot who were -- assumed the break was permanent and went about their lives unaffected. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I just knew they would make a comeback.

And they did. In 2005, the year before I graduated from high school, the Backstreet Boys released another album. They weren't quite back at the level of fame that they had been when I was in junior high, but it was proof that my gut instinct was right. They released another album in 2007, and another in 2009. And in 2010, just before I turned 22, I finally got to live out my childhood dream of seeing them in concert. I've seen them again since, in 2001 in the famous NKOTBSB tour they did with New Kids on the Block.

I'm sure seeing the Backstreet Boys live would have been different at 12 than it was at 22. But even though it took a decade, I eventually got what I wanted so badly all those years ago, and it was worth the wait.

Aren't a lot of things in life like that? I'm thinking particularly about writing, since the publishing world is notoriously slow. You spend months or years writing and polishing a manuscript. You wait for feedback from beta readers and critiquers. You wait for responses from agents, responses from publishers and, when you finally get a book deal, you spend more months and years waiting for the book to actually appear on shelves. And yet I still get antsy because I've been trying to get published for 3 years and I'm still not there.

Then I remember that it took me 10 years to reach one goal, and somehow the wait doesn't seem so bad. And it makes me think that I might actually get there -- even if I have to wait longer than I initially planned.

By the way, I was 6th row and totally made hand babies with Brian. No big deal.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

My favorite creepypastas

I love creepypastas. A week or so ago, I went on a huge kick and started watching all these YouTube videos of users who would read stories out loud and upload them. It's so much easier to focus on them that way.
I talk a lot about horror and scary stories, but I wanted to share a few (okay, a lot) of creepypastas that I really enjoyed and struck a nerve with me. Whether they scared the life out of me or made me think about something, they might be a great starting point for someone who doesn't know much about creepypasta (or anything at all).

- Smile Dog: This is the story that introduced me to creepypasta, and the only one that still keeps me up at night sometimes. It's sort of a demented version of The Ring, except instead of a video, it's a photograph, and instead of killing you in a week, it can make you go crazy over a period of years, even decades.

- The Cigarette: This story is actually told in second person, which some people hate but I think is really effective here. This one also partially inspired my current WIP (the one that led me to the New Orleans cemeteries a few months ago).

- The Devil Game: This one's also told in second person and is extremely long, but well worth it and really creepy.

- Mr. Widemouth: Mr. Widemouth is extremely strange, telling the story of a little boy who makes friends with a mysterious furby-like creature who might not have his best interests in mind.

Lightning: This story is more disturbing than scary, and is one of the few creepypastas I've read with scenarios that could actually happen.

- The Blind Man's Favor: (Or The Last One) Okay, I guess this one could technically happen too. It's really short and to the point, so you can get a chill in less than a minute.

- The Piano: I found one similar to this awhile back that involved a brother/sister acting duo, but I can't seem to relocate it. But this one is just as good.

- White With Red: This one is sort of a creepypasta classic. Also pretty short, with a "holy crap" twist ending.

- Wake Up: Extremely short and very very disturbing.

- The Expressionless: The accompanying picture makes this one especially chilling, despite a few bits of cheesy imagery.

- The Woman in the Oven: Another very short one that leaves more questions than answers, but has prompted lots of discussion and theories.

- The Girl in the Photograph: Another relatively short one with a "holy crap" ending.

Anyone else have creepypastas they love and want to share?