Writing and Scrappy Little Nobody

Last week I participated in the NYC Midnight Short Story writing contest! It was intense, but I had the chance to expand my writing skills. The contest works like this: you are assigned a genre, subject, and character and then you have 8 days to produce a short story. I had horror, retirement, and a security guard. In case you were unaware, I don’t write or watch horror. Though, I read some classic horror, such as Edgar Allan Poe. So, I tried to channel my favorite story of his, The Cask of Amontillado. One of the reasons I love that story so much is that it isn’t necessarily scary, but does it make you feel wholly uncomfortable. The contest was a lot of fun! My best friend and fiancé went over some of the drafts with me to help with developing the characters and increasing the elements of suspense. I went through at least 4 different drafts before settling on one to send. I still feel that it is lacking, but I had a 2,500 word limit. I doubt I’ll formally publish it, so maybe after I get feedback from the contest judge, I’ll post it on here for y’all to read!

A photo by Aaron Burden. unsplash.com/photos/xG8IQMqMITM

I also finished listening to Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody (2016). Anna Kendrick is one of my favorite actresses. As she is not an author, I am using her book for the 26 book 2017 reading challenge for the category of “a book by someone who isn’t a writer.” One thing I do enjoy about these celebrity novels (I’ve also listened to/read Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please) is that they remind us how human celebrities are, amidst all the celebrity worship. They have fears, courage, love, joys, and sorrows just like every other human on this Earth. I prefer reading these autobiographies over magazines of interviews with them. I don’t need to know all the latest scoops about their personal lives, but I want to know what they think is important to know about them.

Anna Kendrick is a down to earth girl from Maine, who knew she wanted to be in theater since she was five or so. Her parents and brother were supportive and even helped her take theatre opportunities in New York. When she was seventeen she moved to LA, where she had no money, no car, and no friends. While it did not happen quickly, she eventually made friends and caught breaks in some big movies, such as Up in Air and Pitch Perfect. The first movie I noticed her in was Twilight, as Jessica. Her discussions of what happened in those movies were great. I love that she was only on set for two weeks of the final movie, which was nice for her because it was supposedly super cold. They filmed in Canada.

It was also nice to learn about some of Anna’s insecurities. She experiences impostor syndrome in that she feels fake in a world of glam. It was comforting to know that someone who has won and been nominated for so many awards still suffers the same insecurities I do. By admitting this, she challenges readers (me) to just go out and do it. Be who you are and the rest will fall into place. It will feel weird. It will feel uncomfortable, but that is how you grow as a person and as a professional. I am glad I took the opportunity to read/listen to this autobiography by Anna Kendrick.


Scarlet Spider

By Chris Yost


Consider this. First, you are a clone. Second, you are a failed experiment. Kaine lives with both realities. Kaine used to be an assassin and a supervillain to Peter Parker Spider-Man. The first volume was a tad confusing until the end of the volume where I read a bit about the history between Peter Parker, Ben Reilly, and Kaine. I could have done research beforehand, but I didn’t want to spoil any of the story. I also know my fiancé has told me the story of Kaine’s past, but I couldn’t remember all the little details.

In the first volume Kaine wants to move to Mexico and chill on the beach with a drink. However, he only makes it to Houston before he reluctantly helps saves a girl who is being smuggled across the border. After saving her from near death, he takes her in to keep her from being deported. Aracely can read people’s minds and can connect with other’s emotions, even evoking a sense of fear from her opponents. She eventually takes on the superhero identity of Hummingbird during a mission she goes on with the Scarlet Spider. Despite his best efforts to remain a loner, Kaine develops friendships with a cop and doctor couple, Officer Wally Layton and Dr. Donald Meland, and a woman at the hotel, Annabelle. He befriends them all fairly naturally, considering his constant inner dialog of being a monster and wanting to be alone.

Kaine confronts this monster inside him in volume 2, when he nearly dies from an attack by a Wolf gang who are after Aracely. This scene seemed to be a defining moment in Kaine’s acceptance of himself. He is trying to be a new man in a new city trying to get away from all his evil deeds of the past. However, the monster is still inside of him and it will always be. Accepting that came at a price, but he was not without another savior. One thing that makes this series great is Yost’s way of maintaining Kaine’s constant struggle between good and evil. He never seems to become fully evil, yet at the same time, he can’t feel truly good.

I enjoyed many aspects of this series. I loved the fact it took place in Houston, Texas. Texas is a fantastic state (I am biased). I was amused that they included a rodeo issue in the series to allow for some “traditional” Texas elements. I was also pleased to see that Houston accepted their new superhero with open arms. They praised him and indicated they were happy he was there to be their personal superhero. Their acceptance was probably one of the reasons that Kaine found a home among these Houstonians. I also enjoyed seeing the Rangers featured for a few issues in volume 2. The Rangers are a team of superheroes (like the Avengers) that help out areas located in the Southwest United States.

Scarlet Spider is my “a book you can finish in a day” book/series for the 26 book 2017 reading challenge. I knew I wanted to do a comic for that category, but it would be too easy to just read a single graphic novel, so I decided to read a short series. This comic is 25 issues with a one issue special (12.1) for a total of 26 issues in four trade paperback editions. I completed them all in one day to accomplish the task. This series is one my fiancé has been trying to get me to read for over a year now. I am glad I finally got around to reading it! It was well worth it.

Bridge to Terabithia

By Katherine Paterson

Warning: This ramble will include spoilers.

I am participating in a the 26 book 2017 reading challenge I found on a post circulating Facebook, it originates from Hannah Braime’s website though. The Bridge to Terabithia is the novel I selected as “a book from your childhood.” I am glad I did!

My mom recommended this book to me when I was a kid. The first time I read it I was probably around 10 years old, give or take a year or two. It was one of the first chapter books that really impacted me. I still remember the feeling of sadness and happiness waft over me together like a wave. Looking back, and after listening to the audiobook as a woman in my mid-twenties, I realize that was the first time I really understood God and Death.

Jesse is an artist and Leslie is a tomboy with a knack for writing (clearly inherited from her parents). To kick things off, I feel an instant connection with these characters as I love art and writing. Jess is stuck in a rut, feels unappreciated, and wants a friend to cherish. He finds that with Leslie. Friends are the best thing for a person to have. The number of friends is irrelevant, as Leslie firmly declares she has one and a half friends, but we all need at least one other human being to share our lives with. “No man is an island…” (John Donne).

Imagination is at the center of the novel. Terabithia is a made-up land ruled by a king and queen, Jesse and Leslie. They fight trolls and wander through their kingdom that is all their own. Nothing can touch them there. They can conquer all their troubles through play. By acting out their insecurities and problems they are able to better deal with real life situations, such as Leslie facing and later sort of befriending the school bully, Janice, after she was betrayed by those she considered friends.

A few chapters before Leslie’s death, the author has the Aaronses go to their yearly church service, Easter. Leslie asks to go because she had never been and she is all about experiencing new adventures. When it was over she said it was fascinating. Jess laughed and exclaimed how boring it was. Then, Leslie responds with, “You have to believe it, and you hate it. I don’t have to believe it, and I think it’s beautiful.” Leslie is able to find the beauty in it because it is something she went to on her own volition. She wants to experience life as it is presently and church just happens to be another stop along her short journey. When I heard that quote again, I remembered reading it as a child on my bed with my back resting against the wall. From an early age, it affected what I believed about Christianity, God, and Salvation. I learned God is beautiful and He is always present with us. No matter what happens in life, God will continue to walk along side us. Did the little girl die in the novel still? Yes. Was she too young? I’d say yes. Why would that happen? Because Leslie made a choice to swing over the river in the rain. We all have choices and consequences, good or bad, for our decisions. In this case, the consequence was death. I cry and cry every time I read it, but you know what came out of this story? New life. The imagination was not stifled. Instead, a bridge was built to allow a new queen into Terabithia, for a new queen to explore and imagine the world as only a child can. This novel teaches kids that death happens and we will mourn, but we will also continue to live and love to honor the memories of those we have lost.