So... guess what? One of my favorite bloggers and Internet acquaintances, MorningTime4 of The Ups and Downs of My Not-So-Average Life, is hosting a blog party to celebrate her birthday. And to show my appreciation for her as a person and blogger for her special day (I don't even regret using that horrendous phrase), I'm joining in!

I had so much fun answering her fun blog party questions, too. (I love interview-format things of any kind, so thank you to Morning for hosting this and feeding my obsession.)

(Psst. If you've got a blog yourself, perhaps you should consider participating! Morning is such a sweet and fun person, and her blog is truly high-five-worthy. If you can't join in, please feel free to drop in and tell her happy birthday. I'm sure she'll appreciate it.)

1. What do you love about the fall season? 

Pretty much everything. Autumn is my favorite season (not least because of the fact that it has two names). Falling leaves, cold clear cut-glass mornings, warm tea, blue-toned rain, whispering between trees. That feeling of settling down to rest. I really, really love fall.

2. If you walked in a mall and saw a guacamole chip hat, would you wear one or eat it?

I would probably stay very, very far away from it. You see, I am a coward.

3. What is one of the most frustrating or aggravating things in the blogging world?

Hands down, it's plagiarism. Honestly, I don't understand why anyone would do it - everyone feels terrible, and it's a crime of ideas. Ideas are supposed to be the purest forms of things, and stealing those is the most horrible thing I can think of. The fact that it happens on the Internet, and often, makes me feel sad and slimy inside. 

4. Would you rather build a snowman or sing in the rain? (See what I did there?)

Sing in the rain. It rains enough where I live that I could pretty much pick any day to do it, as opposed to snow, which attempts to happen but really doesn't. Also, I like singing. Also, I've never successfully built a snowman. (Sad, I know.)

(I also totally saw what you did there, and I applaud you.)

5. If you had to chose how you were a part of a theater or movie production, would you be: an actor, props designer, set designer, light/technical director, audio coordinator, costume director, music director, dance coordinator, stage manager, or a part of the audience?

I would totally be a part of the audience, because all of these require some semblance of social and/or teamwork skills and those are mysterious things that I do not have. I would still really enjoy it, though. 

6. List your blogging inspirations (blogs and people).

Oh gosh. SO many. Morning herself is one, of course! But also:

Kim. Adelyn. Rose. Rona. Alyssa. Samantha. Lydia. E. R. Cait. Emily. Kara. Paola. AnQi. Ava. Kristianna. And many more.

7. Do you think you could commit yourself to a Halloween costume made of lint, or a Halloween costume made of bubble wrap?

Both of those would be very... revealing.

I'd probably go with the bubble wrap, though, because I could just paint over it and it would cover me up pretty well. Plus, I could make strange popping noises while I walked, and then I could pop the remainder of the bubbles the next day.

8. Do you tend to photo bomb people's photos, or divert from them?


9. What is one word you constantly have to keep looking up the definition to?

Right now, it's probably the word "garrulous". It's a rather odd-looking word that means "excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters" - rather like Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet (he just automatically comes to mind whenever I read that word's definition).

10. If you wrote an autobiography about yourself, what would you call it (if you couldn't place your name in the title) and why?

I would most definitely call it Awkward Silence. Either that or Gatsby Puns. Or The Perpetual WIP. (I obviously have issues.)

Anyway, that's it from me! Happy almost-birthday, Morning!

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(EDIT: This is apparently my 150th post! How exciting and strangely fitting.)

(This is my second time doing a Fiction Friday on a Saturday, because I have the most terrible timing.)

I have some crazy amazing news for you all (but mostly for me). Some of you heard it on Twitter this week:
(The link in the tweet leads to the official winner announcement made by the Freshman Fifteens themselves. The info there sounds much more coherent and logical and nicely laid out, so head there if you're interested in a formal rundown of what's happening. If you'd like my disorganized version, stick with me.)

So, what does this "winner" thing mean?

It means I'll be part of a frighteningly cool group of teen writers who will be mentored by the Freshman Fifteens, a group of 2015 debut YA authors who have so generously extended this opportunity to us.

It means I specifically will be mentored by the amazing Kim Liggett, whose debut novel Blood and Salt will be out in 2015 from Putnam. I will even get to read said debut. (Psst. Add it to your TBR because it sounds so, so great. Seriously. GIVE ME ALL THE WITCHCRAFT. *cackles*)

It means my short story "Destinata" will be included in a collection of short stories by the aforementioned amazing teen writers and published as a whole on Wattpad.

Wait, how did this happen?

Back in July, I heard about this almost too-good-to-be-true contest opportunity for teen writers ages 13-19. I remembered a little belatedly that I was age 13-19. I messed around on a Google Doc, trying to get an idea for a short story. I dug up an old flash fiction contest entry that I wrote for Figment and then took down a few months ago. I tried to extend it. For a very, very long time, I failed.

Then, in the last two or three days before the deadline, I pounded out nearly three thousand words of story. And then I wrote a pitch on pure willpower. I even tweeted about it.
And then I uploaded "Destinata" and tried to push it out of my brain, because getting my hopes up wasn't going to be good for me. (Although I did do a little bit of tweet-gloating about the fact that I actually managed to get it in.)
But who am I kidding? I, along with many other teen Wattpadders, anxiously awaited the results of the contest.
And when I was contacted about being a winner, I did a not-so-little happy dance in my bedroom.

What's the story about, anyway?

"Destinata" is a contemporary fantasy about Evie Lancaster, a girl who has to fight off a pretty debilitating curse. Here's part of the pitch (the rest is over on Wattpad):
Sixteen-year-old Evie is a Lancaster girl, cursed by her lineage to drive herself mad and drown if she ever kisses her true love. Until now, she's obeyed her overprotective mother; she's never given herself the chance to meet this love, wherever he or she is. Until now, she's been uncatchable. But when Elliot Morgan - the boy she's been crushing on from afar for five years - asks her if she'd like to have dinner with him, Evie says yes before she can stop herself.
And how about the other winners? You seem to be talking an awful lot about yourself right now.

That's where the "Fiction Friday" part of this post comes in. I'd like to take a moment to highlight all of the other winning entries, because they all sound fabulous and so creative. I can't wait to read them when the collection is released in January, so I've included my favorite sentence from each of their entries.

"Soulless" by Rachel W., username Chandelier:
But I guess this is where the saying 'expect the unexpected' comes in, because I definitely did not anticipate the earth shattering catalyst in my life to be a roll of Charmin Ultra Strong. 
"Locked Out" by GracieWacie, username GracieWacie:
That wouldn't be too bad, if there wasn't a murderer on the loose.
"Violet" by Anne Lutz, username AnneLutz:
But there wasn't anything to say that would end his anger or Violet's pain.
"Mixed Messages" by Make Me Swoon, username MakeMeSwoon:
Alyssa Singh has never gotten over her first love; maybe it was because of how he simply smiled off her confession as his family drove away. 
"A Poisoned Pear" by Arminius, username Arminius:
When speaking of Johannes Skathi, the words lazy, worthless, and pay the damn rent get thrown around with alarming frequency. 
"The Married Tree" by Antara, username _coralsky_:
He was eternal and I was his bride. 
"Attachment" by Julia, username ceilingflower:
The wind stung like a warning on the tip of her tongue.
"Imagine" by Aisha, username Metaphorphosis:
But there's something about standing face to face with reality right in front of you that makes you think twice.
"Honestly" by Anne Brees, username AnneBrees:
Other people lie and steal for noble reasons: to feed their families or to keep warm at night.
"Leave the Light On" by Ashley, username ashjellison:
You have to find out who, or what is in your house, before it's too late. 
"The Voices in My Head" by Katie Spektor, username KatieSpektor:
And if everything is a lie, there is just one question: Is she really insane?
"Babysitting Grandma" by Coralie, username terryco:
What is it like to watch over someone who should be watching over you?
"A Thousand Stars" by Britton, username CutieFlutie:
"Someday," she would pause to smack her lips, "we'll all be dead, and if we were, at one point in time, star dust, then won't we all be star dust again at another point in time?"
"Library of an Old Ghost" by Shelly, username shellyzev:
Rachel knows that Jay is not the most trustworthy person but unable to resist his smug smiles, she agrees to help him on his adventure, if only to wipe that stupid smile off his face.
So, that wraps up this super long and happy and writerly post. I'd like to thank the Freshman Fifteens for this experience in advance, because I know it'll be awesome (literally awe-inspiring). I hope you all are excited to get into the Common Room, because I know I'm pumped to see how it looks when it's finished!
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I've been listening to a ton of music lately - after downloading the Spotify app, my life has never been quite the same. I've discovered a lot of amazing artists that I'll be sure to highlight in future Music Monday features.

This week's MM is kind of a cheat, since it's a fanmix that I made last week on 8tracks, but I'm ridiculously proud of it and it does have music that I want to share with my blog readers. (I've gotten way into 8tracks lately, and now I have fifteen or so in-progress mixes on there.)

The mix is based around the aesthetic and emotions of the "power couple". Here's the description I wrote up for the Tumblr post:
a mix for the power couple, the king and queen. two souls like ice, like steel, like rust, intoxicated with each other but so afraid to be. iron hands, iron hearts, clasped together, unbreakable. too similar to ever be perfectly harmonious, but certainly learning to love, to be vulnerable. maddened by each other and far too strong to bend. brought together in a crash of bright sparks by their arranged, merely political marriage. they haven’t stopped glowing since.
And here's the tracklist:

i. viva la vida (live) - coldplay / ii. anaesthetic - thomston / iii. winter - daughter / iv. born to die (two friends remix) - lana del rey / v. red - celia pavey / vi. to sleep apart - farao / vii. dance me to the end of love - the civil wars / viii. skyfall - adele

The original Tumblr post, which is here, has 115 notes so far - the most notes any Tumblr post of mine has ever gotten. So yes, I'm a tiny bit proud of it. 

So hit play this Monday, and I hope you enjoy this destructive, varied music mix that I put together!
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