A Cover for a Story

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, instead of giving you all the gift of tryptophan-induced comas, I am giving the gift of a promo cover made by the spectacularly talented Stevie. (She streams online via Twitch and you can donate to support her art and commission her for lovely drawings as well! She wants to do more cover art for books, so if you’re a writer, get on it!)


Those graves are moving, like there are ZOMBIES UNDERNEATH THEM

Wouldn’t you pick this up and read the back?

I squeed for about thirty seconds straight. The dog barked a few times. I think I hit Mariah Carey high notes.

This makes it so real. SO REAL I CAN REACH OUT AND TOUCH IT. Hopefully it doesn’t sneeze on me.

Whaddya think?



After the fiasco of the first comic store I went to (recap: here), I found one in Boulder called Time Warp that is both a.) huge with a great selection of comics and trades, b.) very professional, and c.) the place where Adam and I got little figurines of Deadpool and Black Widow to be our cake toppers.

Everyone there is extremely knowledgeable, helpful, and not antagonistic toward those of a different gender / role-playing schtick.

Adam and I go there about once a week to peruse the selections. Neither of us are hard core comic nerds; mostly we just like to trade-wait for our favorites.


Given the popularity of top ten lists, I’m going to count down over the next few days my favorite comics. Some are done with their storylines, others are still running. Some are new, well, all of them are new, so let’s not worry about the fact that none are older than ten years and just skip on ahead.

I mean, we all know that Sandman, The Watchmen, Fables, Hellboy and Y: The Last Man are fantastic and they need to be read. (I have yet to come to a consensus about Preacher being in this list, but that’s another bloggy post.) I think this Top Ten list can do without that which goes without saying. Most of these are a little indie, in that they’re not DC and Marvel, but every good list needs some recognizable heroes, eh? Awards go to those with outstanding writing, great art, and interesting plot lines. (Listen up, Hollywood. WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT IS LADY LOKI well-written superheroes. The two need not be mutually exclusive.)

10.) Sweet Tooth (Vertigo) 2009-2013 — by Jeff Lemire. I have never heard of Jeff Lemire, but the synopsis of this one is just too good to pass up. It’s post-apocalyptic Nebraska and there are animal-human hybrids. Young Gus is just such a one, a boy with deer antlers and ears (and, surprisingly, not the only comic on this list dealing with people with horns!) and after the death of his father, he does the forbidden: he leaves his compound to explore the rather messed-up world where those like him are ostracized and hunted.

Where the fun comes in is with the wackiness. I hate statements that start with “it’s part…” and then go on to say, “…and part…” but it’s part The Road and part Homeward Bound, equal parts horrific depression and cutesy uplifting and all of it is fantastic. The great thing about a comic that is so unlike anything else is that it’s hard to predict what will happen. Not knowing how the universe works yet and why things are the way they are makes adds tension and suspense and is a favorite plot device of mine. The creativity to make something like this is borderline creepy, but it works so well given the meager dialogue and heart-breaking plot.

Also, comics are some of the most emotive forms of entertainment and this one hits me right in the feels, bro. The art is evocative, being fleshed-out enough to give a sense of world-building and letting the known — farms and crops, trees and the sparseness of that climate — but is just a little off-putting to dish out a big ol’ heaping of defamiliarization so as to continue to exude a sense of wrongness about the world. You begin to care so much for odd little Gus so that when bad things happen to him — I mean, it IS post-apocalyptic, so it can’t be too happy — you almost dare not read ahead.

My only dislike is it seems to meander, as if the author didn’t quite know where he was going, which is not uncommon for serialized comics. But, given that I’ve read only the first volume Out of the Woods (#1-5), and at a 40 issue run, there’s still plenty of time to pull the many strands together and create a phantasmagoric coming-of-age story. This one was recommended to me by serious comic nerds, so I don’t take their words lightly.

Also, Lemire does both the writing AND the drawing. That’s a talented dude, bro.


Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl by Gillian* Flynn is one of the New York Times Bestsellers that I sometimes read in order to connect with the average reader to see what the hullabaloo is all about. I’ve done this with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Time Traveler’s Wife, and even that Dan Brown monstrosity The Da Vinci Code and rarely am I left impressed.

This time was no exception either.

TL;DR version: interesting writing style and formatting that is squandered by unsympathetic characters and a drawn-out plot.

Story is simple: guy (Nick) meets girl (Amy). They get married. On their fifth wedding anniversary Amy goes missing and there’s talk about murder. Nick is the suspect because, duh, he’s the husband and the story unravels, revealing both Nick’s and Amy’s sides of the story chapter by chapter until the truth sets no one free.

I will say I was impressed by the format of the story — Nick’s events traveled further past the days Amy is “gone” and Amy’s are moving closer to her disappearance until they meet at the end of part one — because it allows for your sympathies as a reader to shift from one to the other as more and more information is revealed. First you side with Amy as she relates how her and Nick fell in love so many years ago. Then, to Nick as Amy’s strange and obsessive behavior is slowly revealed. Then again, back to Amy as more information about just what Nick has been up to stomps around the stage.

It’s not really a mystery, but there is some suspense around whodunit and if there even really was a crime. But that suspense slowly peters out and there isn’t much tension left behind after the big reveal, which is about two-thirds the way through the novel. After that, it’s just a boring third act that has to tie everything together before a flat ending.

I also found it difficult to connect to either Nick or Amy. Both are incredibly well fleshed out and Flynn has the amazing ability to write multiple points of view. Nick’s voice is drastically different from Amy, who has several voices of her own, so that I didn’t even need to see a title telling me who was narrating, the voices were so strong. But this doesn’t make up for the fact that they’re both despicable in their own ways and have little to no redeeming qualities.

Everyone loves a good villain. No one loves whinny, weak, and self-pitying fools who both get what they deserve in the end, which is neither satisfying nor cohesive. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth after finishing this novel — which took me six months because I kept reading other things at the same time.

Three stars out of five. The writing style is brilliant and refreshing; Flynn’s observations through the characters of Nick and Amy are amazing (ha!), but the plot and the ending were too flat and bogged everything down.

*My fiance and his twin think it’s hilarious that Mulder and Scully’s names can be reversed so they’re Sculder and Mully. Now I’m left not being able to remember which ones are the right ones.

The Terror by Dan Simmons

The Terror by Dan Simmons is a 2007 book about the Franklin Expedition, a doomed Northwest Passage endeavor that failed spectacularly when all of the men were never seen again after being trapped in the frozen ice for three years.

TL;DR Version: Very dry and slow beginning with lots of fruitless and repetitive details, but pays off at the end with an interesting interpretation of what really happened steeped in mythos and humanity.

I’ve read novels by Simmons before — most notably 2009’s Drood that was a pointless exercise in editorlessness — and was rather turned off. I like description and I like wordiness, but there comes a point when I just stop caring about what’s happening — even if what’s happening is super exciting, like ZOMG PEEPS IS DYING FROM EPHEMERAL POLAR BEARS — because of the repetition of lists of people’s names and where things are on the ship in specific, nautical detail, and even cycles of events.

Simmons tells a story well, but gets bogged down in minutiae, effectively stopping any terror or dread from creeping into the novel. The creepiest bits, as usually happens with horror novels — not that this is a ‘horror’ novel per se, it just has many a horror element in it — are in the beginning as each chapter shifts temporally until the past catches up with the present and the story moves fairly straightforward from there.

It starts with the men already frozen in ice for the second year in early 1848 around King William’s Island (which they thought to be a Land before realizing it wasn’t connected to the mainland of Canada) and bumbles back and forth between a giant, polar-bear like entity killing the men whilst they are trapped and the rough beginnings of the expedition that should never have taken off in the first place.

Simmons does his homework; everything is meticulously researched so that events play out as historically accurate as possible until the world lost all communication with the Franklin Expedition when they abandoned their ships to the ice in April of 1848 and decided to walk to open water so as to sail south toward the Back River. The accuracy lends atmosphere building and enriches the hopelessness of the world these 19th century Royal Naval sailors found themselves in, but some things are best left out so that the reader can either decide to fill in details, or so that the story isn’t weighed down with unnecessary lecturing.

And I understand how that can be difficult. There are times when I write an entire outline for the background of a story that’s ten pages long, only to use one paragraph from it. Not using the rest is frustrating, but necessary.

The ending, however, is where this book really saved itself. I was going to dismiss it as another slightly creepy yet still rather uninteresting Simmons novel, until the last 150 pages (it’s a good 650) that detail, much like The Walking Dead, how the survivors of such horror — the elements, scurvy, starvation, food poisoning, evil polar bears — turn on each other and become their own destroyers. Once the book becomes more human and less of a historical report, Simmon’s excellent character development drives the story and it becomes unstoppable. I finished the last third of the book in one night, wanting to know how the remaining survivors deal with the horrible consequences set in motion against them.

It’s not surprising that AMC has decided to make The Terror into a television series, since it shares so many themes with one of the best character-driven shows in the last five years.

Four stars out of five. My own conceptions about the novel were turned around by the end, but that still doesn’t even out the repetitive nature of the beginning.

Reading Aloud

After finishing The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman a few weeks ago, I read the acknowledgements wherein he says that Amanda, his wife (AND MY PERSONAL HERO), was really the first reader/critic/editor because he read the chapters out loud to her before they went to bed. This, in turn, helped shape the novel, turning it into the heartbreaking and melancholic work of brilliance that it is.

I talked to my fiance (soon to be husband) Adam and told him that same story and asked if he wanted me to do the same thing for him. Since I’m always in need of people to bounce ideas off of and want to hear feedback, I thought it an exceptional opportunity to get almost immediate criticism which would, hopefully, allow my works to become breath-taking tales of nostalgia and childhood trauma, until I realized that I’m, at my core, a horror writer. I may dress it up in sci-fi, in fantasy, in speculation, but everything is always a little dark, a little horrific and a little disturbing. My dialogue goes on for pages. My descriptions can sometimes — without someone to help me reign them in — get a little Nathaniel Hawthorne-y. I use really big words that I’m not even sure how to pronounce.

I read horror novels — here’s lookin’ at chu, The Terror — IN ORDER TO GO TO SLEEP. Not everyone does, I realize.

Adam, wisely, declined.

Plus, have you heard that guy read? Sugar. No wonder people want to hear his novels before bedtime.


I got into Shearwater by listening to other folk/indie rock bands like Other Lives, The Boxer Rebellion, and Okkervill River. Incidentally enough, some of Shearwater’s members originally met from Okkervill River, which, incidentally enough, gets its name from the eponymous short story by Tatyana Tolstaya.

(Which means that everything can be related to Russian Literature! Tatyana Tolstaya is the grandaughter of the famous Tolstoi — not the War and Peace one, but rather, the Aelita one — and her novel The Slynx is on my very long and extensive to-read list. She’s considered a great contemporary Russian novelist, alongside Viktor Pelevin (The Sacred Book of the Werewolf), Boris Akunin (the Erast Fandorin series), Sergei Lukanyenko (author of the Night Watch novels that got turned into the rather fantastic movies directed by Timur Bekmambetov and starring the heart-throbby and talented Konstantin Khabensky) and I’ll personally add Svetlana Martynchik, who writes under the pseudonym Max Frei (The Labyrinth of Echo series), to that list as well. Basically this is a long side-note to tell you to read more Russian lit. Not all of it is depressing stuff from the 19th and 20th centuries!)

“Insolence,” is my favorite off of their album Animal Joy released 2012 by Sub Pop.

I like the sweetness of the main singer’s voice and the clarity in his tone. The simplicity of the acoustic guitars and piano often belie the creeping complexity that forceful percussion and quiet strings lend to the latter parts of the songs. Most start out subtle and become progressively more and more layered. It’s a beautiful album, but still a little weak in terms of memorability. I look forward to listening to more from them. Their second should be coming out this fall.

Also, they say the word chrysalis in my favorite song listed above. I have a short story *cough cough* published by Devilfish Review named the same thing. Huh.

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

TL:DR version: If you like actual sci-fi, you’re a woman, or you dislike meta books, avoid this.

I was super excited to read this book. The back promised me time travel and Dracula and genre-bending madness!

Well, two out of three were wrong. And two outta three…ain’t…bad?

I blame my dislike of this book on three reasons:

1.) Marketing

It was marketed to make it more exciting. So is everything else. I understand this. What I don’t understand, however, is how a nice novel like The Map of Time ends up with a completely misleading and trashy false blurb in a place like the back of the book. I’ve come to expect this from movie trailers, and I always take the back of a book with a grain of salt, but if they had just marketed it as it was: a Victorian thriller true to the time in both style and plot, I would have enjoyed it so much more. But instead they made it seem steeped in science fiction and fantasy and that doesn’t really come into play for more than two thirds of the novel.

But, because they wanted to add some spice, they lost me. I kept on expecting things to jump out at me and wave their wordy fingers and say, “Ooh, look, I’m Dracula popping into a book otherwise about H. G. Wells and look how much I bend genres!” like the wonderful Jasper Fforde Thursday Next novels. Instead, I got a bogged down, “Oh, hey. Yeah, I’m Bram Stoker, the dude who wrote Dracula . I barely fit into this novel at all. All I can bend are my fingers. To type things. Because I’m Mr. Stoker. NOT MY FICTIONAL CHARACTER WHICH DOESN’T EVEN MAKE AN APPEARANCE AND WAS ONLY TALKED ABOUT ON THE BACK OF THE NOVEL TO SPECIFICALLY INTEREST MELISSA.”

Because I like vampires, okay?

It was like expecting to drink some water and getting a mouthful of vodka instead. They’re as different as an elephant and an elephant seal, m’kay?

And I’m totally fine with the Victorianess of it and the lengthy wordiness of it and even the unreliable narrator-y-ness of it too. I love those things. I write those things. But don’t tell me it’s going to be something completely different — DOCTOR WHO MIXED WITH DICKENS is what the back basically said to me — because then I won’t like those things. Those things will just piss me off. Give me the truth. The truth sets everyone free. Just not Tom Cruise in real life A Few Good Men.

2.) Feminist hackles.

Look. I understand that most novels are written by dudes and for dudes — wait, what? That’s comic books? The majority of readers are women? Well, THEN YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES.

The only main lady character (not that I need all of my characters to be ladies) tells me how non-matronly she is. How she doesn’t want to get married and have children solely because that is what she is supposed to do and that she feels as confined and restricted as the very corset wrapped around her body (ooh, symbolism!). Cool! I like this! Defying stereotypes and being more than just what others expect of her. I respect this!

But oh, a man from the future! Wow! She hasn’t even seen his face and she falls in love with him. Because he must — he simply must! — be different than the cads around her. And *spoiler alert* HE MANIPULATES HER INTO SLEEPING WITH HIM. And, another alert, he continues to manipulate her because otherwise, she will commit suicide because of his brutish actions.

I just…I can’t…

NO ONE ACTS LIKE THIS. Yes, it’s a Victorian setting, and I have a different viewpoint about women and their roles in society than say, H. G. Wells and Stoker do, but that doesn’t mean that Palma has to continue this legacy either. I’ve read plenty of Victorian novels involving women and NONE OF THEM ACT LIKE THIS EITHER. Even Lucy in Dracula is stronger than her husband in many ways and when she stops getting his letters (because he’s skrawnking some vampire chicks and stuff) she doesn’t just off herself because she can’t survive without a man. This is unrealistic and insulting.

I don’t demand that things appeal to my sense of how women should act. There is no right way to portray women because all women are different. JUST DO NOT ACTIVELY OFFEND ME AND WE’LL BE OKAY.

The idea that a woman would commit suicide simply because someone she’s barely met doesn’t reply to her letters is outlandish at best and rather offensive to those with any sense of self-respect. It’s not just plot holes and bad (or lack of) editing at this point, it’s just plain lazy writing. A lack of talent in the field of character development is no excuse for a poorly conceived and executed second half and cannot be made up for by Palma’s otherwise intricate and well-designed plots and graceful way with words. Write your women the same way you do your men — with a well-rounded psyches, with realistic expectations and desires, with a sense of independence that doesn’t rely upon a man — and leave your stereotypes at the door.

3.) Meta-ness.

I enjoy a bit of the ol’ genre-savviness meself. I really do. But there is a point when it becomes too much.

The next paragraph will spoil the ending, so don’t read it if you want to keep the surprise, but do know that the ending is so self-referential, I almost stopped to check if it was written by the same guys who write Supernatural.

H.G. Wells gets a letter from his future self saying that if he gives his unpublished manuscript of The Invisible Man to a time-traveler who wants purportedly to help him, the (actually) evil time-traveler will attempt to kill him and the stress of almost being killed will reveal his previously unknown powers of mind time travel. (The only way people can ACTUALLY time travel in the novel is with their minds, a la The Time Traveler’s Wife. In fact, that’s not the only thing that is lifted directly from the Niffenegger [spell that five times fast] novel, but that’s another quip for later.) The letter goes on to explain that he has a choice: go through events and become the very man writing him that letter (meaning he will disappear from history only after his second novel) or change history and make things different (or what we known to be true in this timeline, i.e. he goes on to write many more novels like The War of the Worlds and so forth.)

Blah, blah, blah, he chooses to make his own path, as scary and unknown it is and bam! H.G. Wells is saved and history as we known it is kept sacrosanct and the world is all right. But, if he could write a novel about his experiences, it would be a lot like a novel that I just read and it would start the same way that the very one I was reading would and oh, my, fracking God, are you serious? You are referencing the very novel you are writing!

That’s not clever, that’s egoism. And unacceptable. Any suspension of disbelief on my part was then puked upon and put back onto a shelf never to be read again and kind of to be looked at in pity as a couple of dollars wasted. Which no book should ever make me feel like I wasted money on it, and yet, the previous good yet feminist-hackle-raising 600 pages almost doesn’t make up for the last mind bogglingly vainglorious two.

Three stars out of five. Infuriating, but I couldn’t help but sense that with a better editor (and a real-life knowledge about women and how they act) it could have been spectacular.

Slap my hair in a bun, give me a pair of glasses and call me Giles Wesley

Wesley is just so much cuter. And less inclined to concussions from being head-bonked, though, surprisingly, more susceptible to gunshot wounds, slit throats, and eventual death. Also, he’s a rogue demon hunter.

So, as part of my non-New-Year’s-resolution — the learnin’ bit — I’ve decided to go to my local library, ask for the British librarian to check if I’m the Chosen One and get kicked out and get books on anything vaguely related to my non-vampire novel. This includes, but is not limited to: dreams, memory, death, Jungian archetypes, and motorcycle maintenance.

Much to my surprise, a vague perusal of the library gave me this: On Dreams and Death, a book about Jungian interpretations of death dreams with an Egyptian mythology chaser. Ha! Perfect! Take that, Internet! Good ol’ fashioned research once again proves to be the victor, playing the Germans in this re-enactment of WWII, Risk-style.

Hey. Get your manky paws off of my little plastic battalions, huh? I’m trying to symbolically show the reasons for the brutality of 20th century skirmishes by comparing it to the effects of the Industrial Revolution and the penalties of compartmentalization on the human psyche. Oh, that’s not how we play this game? God, I just thought it was so boring, that modernization and Jungian archetypes must somehow figure in.*

Sometimes I feel as though I’m growing stupid, so I have to learn things in order to combat this. This sentiment, coupled with years of indoctrination at the hands of IB/AP/Honors schooling, means that I’ve started taking notes on this book. Notes. Cornell style for no reason other than the fact that I want to pretend I’m still in school so that my boring life is less pathetic. And because I don’t want that nifty callus on my right middle finger to go away.

So, what have I learned? A little bit about Egyptian death ceremonies, the fact that people dream really weird shit right before they die and that the pun Forever Jung is still just as hilarious as it was to me before this little adventure.

*While playing the game of Life I took the little plastic men and women and made a four-car pile up with many, many victims. Look! Here’s a picture!

The only Russian phrase I understood when I saw a bootleg Day Watch back in 2006 was "Where's my mommy?" "Your mother's dead!"

*No real Life figurines were harmed in the making of this production. But they were scarred mentally.

Imagine the poor little children of these plastic people, the blue-and-pink strewn body parts, the polymer intestines! Oh, the horror! The humanity!

The Name Game

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m horrible at naming things. And apparently, elementary rhyming songs have left me woefully unprepared for the task at hand: namely (PUN INTENDED!) giving my opus a title.

I tend to overanalyze everything Notes from the Underground-style, and naming something that I’ve been working on for the past ten years is no exception. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: it’s the Mac Guffin Horcrux* crux of it all. I would even go so far as to say I’ve lost sleep over this decision. And I’m not even saying that just because I’m an incurable insomniac, either.

See, every title I come up with is put against a rigorous scale of 1.) how much it sounds like the name of a romance novel** and 2.) how catchy it is in relation to what I’m actually writing about. So while I want to avoid stuff like “Kiss of the Night,” I also don’t want to plaster “Dah Story of Gwennie” on the cover.

I’ve also noticed a recent trend in the naming of the books:

The So-and-So’s Somewhat Obscure Relation. See: The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and thus. I s’pose I could name it The Supposed Witch Who’s Really a Vampire’s Daughter, or The Tight Ass Loser’s Daughter, but those won’t sell well.

The Noun and the Other Noun. See: The Sound and the Fury, Crime and Punishment, Sense and Sensibility. I like how this one sounds and since I’m a sucker for alliterations, it’ll probably end up being one of these.

The High-Brow Poetry Line. A la: Her Fearful Symmetry (damn, Ms. Niffenegger, you need to get off this list, and actually The Sound and the Fury should belong on this list too), Things Fall Apart, For Whom the Bell Tolls and the like. This is actually my favorite category and my next post will discuss all of the poems I’m in love with and want to name my novel after.

Participle Following Noun. See: Breaking Dawn (ptooey!). Um, I really can’t find anymore, but I just really wanted to work in a Twilight joke.

Or simply: The Blah-Blah-Blah in order to be cryptic. See: The Passage (I hated this book. I might have liked it had I not read a lot of reviews that said this book was going to be awesome and that it was well-written and subverted many vampire tropes and was scary. It fell into two out of three main Stephen King no-nos — I hate Stephen King and this is a post in and of itself — and I now use it as a hand weight for when I work out.) The Confession, The Pillars of the Earth, The Last Song*** and so forth. This is a staple for hack writers. (John Grisham Nora Roberts James Patterson Stephenie Meyer, however, has miraculously avoided this.)

So, what do I have?

Sunlight and Silver. Category II, which rates on a 5-6 scale where the first number is how much it sounds like a romance novel — 10 being, of course, FABIO’S MOUSTACHE RIDE — and the second being how relevant/catchy it is.

(My novel may be split into two or even three parts. If so, the second is Coffins and Teeth [Category II, 3-4] and Shrouds and Skeletons [Category II, 4-7]. I don’t really much like any of these for novels names, but for blogs they’re great! Psst. My blog’s a little sensitive, so I had to write that.)

When Darkness Comes. Uncategorizable, 7-4. This was its title for many, many years, but as I’ve grown older, I realize that it’s just not good. Just like my pen name used to be Crimson Destiny, but I don’t want to talk about it.

Blood Will Tell. Sorta Category IV, 8-8. Kind of awesome, but in a Rocky Horror Picture Show Way. Or a made-for-TV movie way. Starring Valerie Bertinelli and Melissa Gilbert.

Until the Moss Had Reached Our Lips. Category III, 2-5. I really, really like this one, as it comes from an Emily Dickenson poem, but it’s a little wordy for a novel. As my novel is really wordy, this makes sense, but I doubt it’s marketable.

The Spirit and the Dust. Category III, 2-7. This is eerily accurate when it comes to the themes of my novel, but it just doesn’t have a certain ring that makes me jump up and go, “Ooh, ooh, mommy, mommy, a naked American man stole my balloons I want to read that.”

To Be With You in Hell. Category III, 2-5. Again, something I really like but is kind of wordy. Reminiscent of a Sam Raimi movie, which maybe isn’t the vibe I’m going for.

Two Moons of Black. A rewording of a poem, so still Category III, 5-5. Sylvia Plath FTW and FTD (for the depression), but it reminds me of a book I read in elementary school called Walk Two Moons. And if my novel is anything, it’s not a Newberry Nominee.

I’m still waiting for a set of words to magically appear to me and punch me in the stomach so that I think, “Yes, this is my novel’s title. How could I have stupidly thought of anything else?” Alas, I also think that I will meet the man of my dreams and do the whole love-at-first-sight thing. Neither are probably going to happen, so I guess I’ll just be content with a lackluster title name that grows on me and a loveless marriage.

*I’ve thought about what I would make into a Horcrux if I could. The winners are: the eighth volume of Hellsing, my soon-to-be steampunk goggles, and –wait, I’m not going to tell you. I don’t want any Harry Potter look-a-likes coming after me.

**My mother: “Melissa, why don’t you write romance novels? I heard it’s a good way to break into the business. And then you can write whatever you want after that.” She has said this about: screenplay writing, soap-opera writing, and sitcom writing.

***After that little moment, Ryan says, “It’s a good thing he’s not a Nicholas Sparks fan.” I can’t find it, but it’s hilarious! BAZZINGA! That’s twice, Mr. Sparks. And, PPS: I just saw a picture of you and you look like a douche-canoe mixed with a skeezy high-school principal.