Tuesday, August 7, 2018



Sip of Hope is a coffee house in Logan Square that advocates for mental health. 
As stated on their website (https://sipofhope.com/),
     “Sip of Hope is the world’s first coffee shop where 100% of the proceeds support proactive suicide prevention and mental health education. Sip of Hope is the perfect space for breaking the silence around suicide and raising the visibility of mental health resources in our community.”

Started by a partnership between mental health awareness non-profit Hope for the Day and Dark Matter Coffee, Sip of Hope wants to start a conversation about mental illness. When walking in, one is immediately greeting with informational pamphlets about mental health and a number of postcards with resources to help those who struggle. All baristas double as mental health aids who encourage patrons to talk about their struggles. Their mantra, IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY, is plastered on their back wall.

Long story short, this place rules. 

Having all that said, I think it’s time to talk about my new project.


I’m making a game about anxiety, chumps. 
Socializing Simulator is part visual novel, part collect-a-thon rpg (in the same vein of pokemon) that’ll put you in the shoes of college freshman Robin Ackers as they survive their first semester of college. If you’ve had any contact with me in the past seven months, you know that 2018 has been a trying year for me. I got the anxiety, Jimmy. And it’s been taking me for a ride.

Hence, this game.

I’ve been spending the past few months ENTRENCHED in development for this project. I’ve been conceptualizing the plot, teaching myself to code, making assets, researching engines, so on and so forth. And I’m having a blast. But, more importantly, I’ve found a place to really explain my own personal experience with anxiety.

(This is why the blog has been silent, by the way.)
You play as Robin Ackers, a college freshman with a pension to over-think everything.

Right now I’m working on laying down a lot of the base code and BOY OH BOY CODING IS FUN. IT’S FUN GUYS. I SWEAR. SO MUCH FUN.
So there’s where I’m at. Hopefully there will be news on this to come. In the meantime…
‘Til next time nerds.

P.S. This is the bathroom. The bathroom.


Alright. For real. BRB. Going to New York.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

*uses comic and video game pictures despite only discussing the movie
Scott Pilgrim vs The World is about Scott Pilgrim a mild-mannered Canadian bassist who’s just looking for love in this crazy world. It’s also about Ramona Flowers, an American fem fatale with a shrouded past and at least seven evil ex-lovers (and those are just the ones out for blood). It’s about Styles, Kim, Young Neil, Wallace, and a whole cast of colorful characters. But, it’s also about one other person, one that I think we should have been paying a lot more attention too.

Knives KO. (Curse you, Internet, for only letting me underline that once.)

If you’re like me, the first time you watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, you were rooting for Scott because he’s adorkable or somethin’. You were also probably rooting for Ramona because she’s cool and mysterious and interesting. As such, you were inevitably rooting against Knives. You found her annoying because at first she seemed kinda dumb, then she started always operating at 110% and was way too enthusiastic about Scott’s cr*ppy band. She was always two steps behind everyone else, she had a habit of always getting in the way of Scott and Ramona with her love, and she seemed to exist only as a means to make Scott feel guilty for leaving her.

That’s how I felt.

But then I watched the movie again recently, and a found way more in it then I did when I was in high school. And I think the thing that struck me the most is that, this time around, I didn’t hate Knives. Worse, I think I liked her more than Scott and Ramona. But…no. That doesn’t make any sense. Clearly Scott is the hero of this story. Just look, he’s on the cover. His name’s in the title. Scott is the star, not Knives.

Like a good, God fearin’ Christian, I tried to keep shipping Scott and Ramona, because that’s what the movie wanted me to do. BUT THEN THE LAST THING KNIVES SAID IN THE MOVIE HIT ME LIKE A TON OF BRICKS. LIKE, WOW. KNIVES CHAU VS SCOTT AND RAMONA, THAT’S THE MOVIE I WANT.

Just. Just watch.
*Excuse the language




Did you catch it? “Ko.” That’s the last thing she says to Scott. That’s her last name. WE’VE BEEN PRONOUNCING IT WRONG THIS ENTIRE TIME GUYS. IT’S KO, NOT CHOW. SHE NEVER CORRECTED US. UNTIL NOW.

OOF.
CUT ME DEEP, KO. CUT ME DEEP.

Let me walk you through why this is a big deal.

The Movie-From Knives Point of View:
Knives is a 17 year old catholic schoolgirl who recently started dating this Cool Older Bassist(TM) that she met at a bus stop. She’s nervous because she’s never dated anyone before. She’s out of her element. So she’s taking things super slow. No kissing, no holding hands, she’s hesitant to even hug the guy. She wants to get to know him, she wants to wade in. You’d think this would be off-putting to most guys, but Scott’s all for it. Never pressuring her into anything she doesn’t want to do. You know. Because he’s so Cool(TM). 

She gets invited to sit in at band practice. Again, she’s out of her element because she doesn’t typically listen to good music. But she’s willing to try it because things are going so well with Scott. She’s really starting to get into him. After she hears them play, she’s sold. It’s the best thing she’s ever heard, her boyfriend is officially the Coolest(TM)(C). 

So she starts getting braver. She listens to the kind of music he’s into, becomes his band’s number one fan, starts hanging out with his friends. And, because she’s feeling so brave, she starts getting affectionate. She talks to him about what’s going on in her life, hugs him in public (scandalous as it may be), hangs out with him every second she can. Scott, on the other hand, starts getting a bit scatter brained, maybe even a bit distant, but that’s probably because he’s worried about the battle of the bands. There’s a record deal on the line, Knives understands. She’ll support him no matter what.
The more time passes, the more she’s sure of it. She’s in love with Scott. Because he’s just the Coolest Guy(TM)(C) 2018 Sex Bob-Omb All Rights Reserved. So she takes a big, scary step. She invites him over for dinner with her parents.

And then he dumps her.

At first, she doesn’t know what to do. She just lets it happen. All she can say is “oh”.

And then he’s gone.

For a couple of weeks, she’s trying to figure out what happened. Everything was going so good. She and Scott were supposed to last forever. She tries to reach out to him, maybe they just needed to talk things through. But he’s no where to be found. It’s almost like he’s avoiding her.

Then she sees him next to her. Ramona, that blue-hair fat-[CENSORED] hipster.

Automatically Knives knows, this is the one responsible for the way things ended with Scott. Ramona’s stolen Scott from her.

Knives knows she can’t compete. She only just discovered Scott’s world. Ramona was born into it. Everything Knives has to try at comes naturally to her. She’s so effortlessly hip, so perfect for Scott.

So, for a moment, Knives is defeated.
But then she fights.
She sets out to win Scott back.

She changes her look, she tries to make Scott jealous, she calls Ramona out. No matter what she does, though, Scott doesn’t seem to notice. He’s moved on. She hasn’t.

She doesn’t give up.

Flash forward to the last fight between Gideon and Scott. Knives has a plan. She’s going to swoop in and save the day. She’s going to show Scott she’s ten times the woman Ramona could ever be, and she’s going to save him in the process. She’s out to prove herself.

But before she can, Scott stops her and drops a bomb shell. He cheated on her. With Ramona. That’s why things ended.

That moment, right there. That’s where it clicks.

She was used by Scott.
Scott never cared about her the way that she cared about him.
She’s been spending months trying to get back something she never had to begin with.

And how does she respond?
SHE FREAKING ROLLS WITH IT. LIKE A BOSS.

Cause the fight’s still going down, and Gideon that sack of garbage just freaking sucker punched Ramona. RIGHT AWAY Knives empathizes with her, teams up with Scott, and LAYS A SMACK DOWN ON GIDEON. Together, they effortlessly win the fight. Here, she gets a taste of what she used to have with Scott. They make a good team.

After the dust settles, the last scene plays. We get a moment of comparison between Ramona and Knives. When Knives points out that Scott could stand to cut his hair (something she knows is a point of insecurity for him), we see that she genuinely has more insight to his character than Ramona ever did. And for a moment, we see Ramona looking at Knives with the jealously that Knives once held for her.

It seems like she and Scott might hook up again, which was her driving motivation for the majority of the film.

But Knives realizes two more things. One, that Scott doesn’t want her. And, two, she doesn’t want Scott. So she tells him to go after Ramona.

She started out as a mousy naive school girl and ended as the most self-actualized character in the cast, which is what we see when she corrects Scott about her last name. She’s no longer trying to win him over, no longer chasing him. She’s okay of correcting him because she’s no longer scared of losing him, she’s ready to let go.

She’s done trying to get on Scott’s level. She’s past it. It’s exactly like she says. “I’m to cool for you.”

*Me-when I was watching the last scene and all of this clicked for me: 
Oh.
OH.
OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH.

See, the thing that makes Knives so endearing is she’s the protagonist we originally think Scott is. Scott comes across as an awkward kid that’s trying to be cool enough to date his crush. But the further we get into the movie the more we realize that he’s actually broken a few hearts in the past. He’s not the stranger to relationships that he seems to be. He also seems to be a bit cocky when we get deep into it. We never see him insecure about his talent as a bassist, or even about his lack of a job and the fact that he freeloads off of his roommate. If anything, he has too much confidence.

But Knives, she’s the one who spends the movie out of her depth.

She doesn’t know what to do with herself around Scott. When they’re dating, she changes herself to fit his needs and never expects him to change for her. She never even corrects him about her last name because she doesn’t want to risk upsetting him. And when she loses him, she does everything she can to get him back.

She’s the one with the most character development in the movie, and because of it, she ends up the most mature out of the bunch.

You can also see her desire to be with Scott as her desire to be “cool”, making the end of her arc-her realization that being “cool” is knowing your self-worth, (something that she thought Scott and Ramona had but discover as the movie progresses that they don’t) oh-so-satisfying. Because now she’s just so Cool(TM)(C) 2018 Knives Ko She-Is-Literally-A-Ninja-At-The-End-Of-The-Movie All Rights Reserved.

KNIVES CHAU, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU HONEY. YOU’LL ALWAYS BE MY PROTAGONIST.


Monday, June 4, 2018


I didn’t see The Last Jedi until four months after the film came out, which I guess is a crime on my part because how can you be a geek and not see THE NEW STARS WARS NIKKI. LIKE FRICK MATE, WHAT’S NEXT? YOU GOING TO TELL ME YOU DIDN’T READ THE HARRY POTTER BOOKS, ONLY WATCHED THE MOVIES? FAKE. FRICKIN. FAN.

Calm down there hoss, let me speak.

So, I didn’t see The Last Jedi when it came out because, well, a lot of reasons. Biggest one was that I got a concussion on the day it premiered, preventing me from doing anything fun for a week. Then there was graduating college, leaving a job, starting a job, being swallowed up in existential terror of reality past present and future. Normal growing up stuff. By time I settled, the movie was out of theaters, and I didn’t have the money to get the blu-ray, and all copies were on hold at the library. Some say the copies on still on hold, to this very day.

A couple of times, my mom suggested we download a torrent of it on her Amazon Firestick. Every time I refused because I am “No Fun”. But, more importantly, piracy is wrong. Which is why I’ve gathered you all here today.

Guys. We need to stop pirating stuff. Seriously. It’s an unpopular stance, I know. Usually I’m the only one in the room that thinks it’s as big of a deal as it is. So know that I’m not saying this to condemn anyone. There are a lot of arguments out justifying piracy, some valid and some not. And I want to talk about it, because it’s better we all come out with solid reasoning behind what we choose to do outside of “it’s the right thing” or “it’s the convenient thing”.

Here, I present my side of the argument. And, ultimately, that argument boils down to this. Piracy harms everything. It harms the creator that made the piece being pirated. It harms the person pirating it. It harms the industry and the culture of creating media. It promotes the idea that entertainment, media, and culture is something we are entitled too, which cheapens its value. But here I am, getting ahead of myself.

Let’s break it down.

How to Pirate - Pro Tips from the Genius Telling You Not to Do It
In the most general sense, pirating is procuring a copy of media (whether it be music, movies, games, books, or anything else you can think of) without paying the price set by the owner of said intellectual property. This includes ripping the media from discs and selling it to others, torrenting it, downloading it from XxXSephy4evurXxX’s youtube channel, so on and so forth. Obviously there’s more to it then that, but this is not the place to get into the specifics of copyright law. (See the P.S. section for more if you’re so inclined.) If we’re looking at it for the purposes of this discussion, think of it as whenever the creator or team of creators that made the media aren’t being compensated for the work they’ve done as a result of illegal distribution. Having all that said…

Piracy is stealing, and stealing is wrong. 
Let’s start with the good old fashion truth. If you decide to procure a copy of any form of media through illegitimate means, that is stealing. It is not compensating anyone who had a hand in creating that work. Now, most say that money doesn’t matter that much when it comes to the bigger productions (this reason is given most often in regards to big-budget movies and pop stars). What’s the $7 ticket fee going to hurt Disney, after all?
For starters, I don’t care how much of the cash moneys they have. They still are entitled to their cut of that ticket fee. Let’s say you work at Denny’s for a sec. Do you want people to stiff you the check because Denny’s “have enough money as it is?” No. You waited their table. You change their order so many times that the cooks started throwing spatulas at you ever time you walked in the kitchen. You earned that money.
But let’s take it at a different angle and say that, sure, the A-Listers don’t need that pocket change. Let me tell you who’s actually being cheated in this situation.
Adrian Blake-Thomas, the star of that new sitcom you like (20 Somethings Living in the City, Tuesday nights on NBC), isn’t feeling that sting. He’s hopping in his vintage batmobile and taking a road trip with his A-List pals for funsies. But Stew Somebody, who worked on the lighting, will not be getting his Hanukkah bonus. He was planning to use that bonus for his daughter’s birthday party, now he can’t. SUE SOMEBODY IS GOING TO BE A VERY SAD BIRTHDAY GIRL BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T WANT TO PAY.
Or, to put it in a way that effects you, 20 Somethings Living in the City isn’t getting renewed for a third season because ratings show that exactly 5 people are watching it.
“But how can this be?” You ask. “This site I’m downloading #20SomLivCit has, like, a billion downloads, and that’s just from the portal where half of the show clips. Does NBC not know that that the world is watching? They make me so frickin’ mad. NBC is DUMB. BOYCOTT NBC. DON’T SUPPORT THEM, THEY’RE FASCISTS. #NBCFACIST”
Here’s the thing. you can’t boycott them if you never gave them ratings to begin with. Also, your hashtag game is weak. But, hey, thanks for giving me a lead into my next point.

Priacy is not a form of civil protest. Boycotting is a form of civil protest. 
The biggest argument I hear in favor of piracy is some variation of The creator(s) and/or beneficiaries of [insert media] do not need and/or do not deserve my monetary compensation, so I will not give it. Or, in a more condensed format They do not deserve my support.
Cool. Then don’t give them your support. That’s how you actually hit them hard. By continuing to consume their content, you are still supporting them by perpetuating their reputation. Just because you withdraw your monetary support, doesn’t mean you’re not still helping them out. After all, all press is good press. Want to really hit them? Forget them. Let them fade into oblivion. Nothing will hurt them more.
So, that takes care of the problem of sticking it to those rich 1% Sons of Guns. We’re done here, right?

”Hang on now, things aren’t that simple,” I hear the gaming community cry. “Well,” I respond, “Maybe they are.”
Listen, I get that things aren’t as black and white as I’m making them out to be. There’s a surprisingly big gray area regarding piracy (looking at you, gaming community). Sometimes, there’s media that you cannot get your hands on even if you have the money. If you want to experience that media, pirating is the only option. Still, you understand that piracy hurts the industry and you want to support the people that worked on it, so you at least try to find some sort of middle ground. However, if you do that, even through honest intentions, you end up doing more harm than good.
For instance, take Mother 3, a Gameboy Advance game only released in Japan. It was the sequel to Earthbound, a Super Nintendo game with sales that tanked upon it’s initial release in the west but eventually gained a cult following that would throw themselves upon their own swords to get an official English Translation of Mother 3. A group of fans where so desperate that they translated the game themselves and sent that translation to Nintendo, saying they’d give it to them free of charge if they’d just port the game to the US. Nintendo refused, and they ended up putting the translation up on their site, allowing anyone with a torrent to download it.
Guys, I think that’s ultimately what killed it’s official release. Nintendo might have reconsidered in years to come, especially with the game’s rise in popularity. But now that there’s a way to get the game for free (one well known to the demographic that Nintendo would market the game too) why on earth would they put in all the work to port it and cross their fingers hoping that everyone will just up and pay for it now. I have no doubt that the people in the Earthbound fandom would throw their money at Nintendo if they gave Mother 3 an official release, but I’m not Nintendo, and they’ve got to do what’s best for their company.
With all technical semantics out of the way, let’s dive into the heart of things. Why do we think it’s okay to pirate? Because we feel like entertainment wants to be shared. In the information age, media isn’t just easily accessible, it’s viewed as a basic human right. However…

We are not entitled to be entertained freely-(although I can see how you’d think that.) 
I’m not kidding, I really do empathize with the notion that entertainment should be free because a lot of entertainment is free. There are many ways in which we are entertained at no monetary cost to ourselves. Storytelling, for one, makes up the majority of our common conversations. When you see your friends or your family for the first time in any stretch of absence, typically the first thing you want to do is catch up. You tell stories. When you witness or experience something out of the ordinary, you’re first inclination is to share that experience. And you do so without demanding any compensation, the simple joy of telling a good story being all you need.
However.
There is a difference between you telling your buddy about that time you were on the train and a man in a dragon costume suddenly boarded and started dancing in front of an older gentleman wearing a fedora and Catcher on the Rye.
As cynical as it sounds, good art of any kind is a commodity. It takes effort to produce and to pass on. Sometimes, it’s not an expensive commodity. Sometimes, it is. Either way, it’s the right of the the creator to decide whether they want to give it or sell it.
Think of it this way. Let’s say you cook a dish. Making that dish cost you, no matter which way you look at it. You paid for the ingredients. You expended effort to prepare the dish. You used your plates and utensils to serve it. Now it’s your right to decide whether or not you want to give it away or sell it for profit, not the right of the person you’re serving. Maybe you want to share it feel like you can afford to give it away freely. Maybe you’re a sous chef and you need the payment that meal will provide to continue cooking more dishes. Maybe you’re the worst host ever and are charging your house guest for the taco that was, let’s be honest, sub-par at best.
No matter how you put it, we are entitled to art as much as we’re entitled to anything else. Art is a gift, we ought to treat it as such.

Piracy promotes greed, exploitation, and all other things icky. 
You see what I’m getting at by this point, right? If you get nothing else from this post, take away the fact that Piracy undercuts the value of art. When you pirate, you are operating under the notion that the piece of media that you are taking is worth nothing.
Those actions have consequences. This lack of value and commitment to art will ultimately cause it to rot. You’ll see studios take less chances on new ideas, creators you love won’t be able to continue their work, more advertisements and product placements and all things commercial will worm their way into our favorite past times.
At the end of the day, our unwillingness to properly value art and provide the means for it to be made gives opportunities for cooperations to hijack these works and re-appropriate it for their purposes. If we want to change the quality of the works our generation puts out, if we want genuinely new and exciting concepts instead of tired formulaic blockbusters, this is where it starts.

And now, A word from an independent creator.
I want to share my work freely. I want to have all the resources in the world to provide distribution, pay for materials, and start throwing my books at random passersby on the street. That’s my fantasy. But that’s just it, it’s a fantasy. I’ve got to eat. The agent, editor, marketing team, printer, and everyone else on future team #Nikki4Overlord has gotta eat too. So when I see people so casually stealing from other creators, it terrifies me.
If I’m being honest, it hurts too. Books take a lot. Sometimes I come home from a nine hour shift and force myself to sit at my computer, read that reference, research that market, write that chapter. I bleed for these things. And the fact that all of that is worth so little to the public that they’ll just take it without a second thought, frick mate. Try sitting in my seat and see if you still feel the same way.

That’s it. That’s what I’ve got.

P.S. Here are some links. Click them. Do it. Go on. DO IT. 
Here I covered the barest of the basics. Piracy, Copyright, and all things having to do with intellectual property are slippery slopes. There’s a lot I didn’t explore here. What about modding? Memes? Remixing? What happens when a creator is using their copyright for evil (trying to sue a critic for quoting their work, over charging, etc.)? What if the media I like benefits a cooperate entity that has been mean to my favorite creator? Is there still a way to support them while not benefiting The Man, man?
Well, this here is just an itty bitty blog that I do in my spare time. I’d love to sit here and talk for ages about all that stuff, but it’s getting late and I’m opening the coffee shop tomorrow, so…
*pats the table, looking around
*sees a napkin
*pulls pen out of pocket and starts scribbling notes
Here…is a bonefide rabbit hole of places where you can learn more about exactly what copyright (and, in turn, piracy) is. If all this wasn’t enough, anyway. Seriously, look into this stuff. It’s kinda neat, actually.

Learning About Copyright
Crash Course Intellectual Property
U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index
Center for Media and Social Impact 

Stories about Copyright (And how they’ve affected their creators)
Young Adult Author Maggie Stiefvator Proves that Piracy Affects Sales of Book Series “The Raven Cycle” 
Youtube Channel Mother’s Basement Gets Plagiarized (Warning: Language)
This Story About Piracy and Shovel Knight is Surprisingly Heart-Warming 

Thursday, May 24, 2018



It’s 80 degrees in Chicago and I’ve got the day off. That can only mean one thing.
It’s time to take the top down. 
At 8 in the morning it’s still chilly outside, but that’s not a good enough excuse not to enjoy my youth.



So I’m out to find a place to focus, cruising, living life, blasting some alternative rock trash whe-OH FRICK BASTILLE JUST CAME ON.



I’ve also not written a GOSH DANG THING for two weeks on account of me being busy turning 23, going to graduation, and all other forms of tom foolery. I could have written on Tuesday. I didn’t. Mother Dearest took me book shopping. “Get whatever you want,” she said. “You’ve made a mistake,” I replied.
The amount of money that was spent was shameful to say the least.
Also, I came across a printed volume containing the first two acts of Homestuck at the bookstore, and it confused me. It doesn’t make sense for Homestuck to exist anywhere other than on the internet, you understand. The world doesn’t work that way.
But there it was, staring at me. Daring me to get it. 
*So I did. Take that book.



Last time I read Homestuck was in middle school, that’s a good decade ago. Now it’s finshed, clocked in at around 8,000 pages. Back then I saw it as an edgy mess for prepubescent tryhards (because, of course, I knew everything and was disillusioned to the world). Now, having gained all the worldly knowledge 13-year-old Nikki did not have, I can appreciate how freaking ambitious this project was. Idea Channel once compared it to the modern day Ulysses, I don’t think they were far off. It’s a dumb comic, yes. But it’s also a brilliantly constructed multi-layered plot, a grounded coming of age story, an Alternative Reality Game, and a showcase of late 2000’s flash animation. And it’s so. Well. Written.
Now my life a battle between re-reading Homestuck and being productive. I’m surprised I’ve made it this far into the post without taking a break.

I’m going to go now. Peace.



P.S. Sweetie Pies is a treasure. The baker was super friendly and the sweets, they called to me. It’s a tragedy the place was as empty as it was. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Photography - Faith O'Leary
Prose - Nikki Macahon

The Dress
I used to think professionals wore dresses to compromise. They wrote to survive, they didn’t enjoy it. Professionals write articles, manuals, essays, and all other things that bored them to death. Their work was taken from them and rewritten by someone else who didn’t respect them or their vision. Professionals were artists that sold out.
Now I know better.
This dress is a challenge, it’s daring me to try new things. It wants to be taken seriously. It’s a commitment. It will do things it doesn’t think it’ll enjoy, if at least to say that it gave it a shot. It welcomes critique. It knows how to meet in the middle and still love what it’s doing.
This dress is saying that while I’m more comfortable in jeans and a tee, if the occasion rises I will do what I need to do. I will put on that dress. I will walk across that stage. And you’re never going to be able to tell I’m out of my element.



The Shoes

The path I’ve walked is the reason why I’m here. I came to this spot because of the things I turned to in the darkest moments of my life. I needed to create because I had something to say, but no one to say it too. I wrote because I needed stories when I was alone. I read comics and played video games because I wanted to escape.
All the things I used to tolerate life eventually became the foundations of what life would become for me. God used my passions, my interests, my crutches, to teach me that there was more to the world then what I saw.
It’s because I created that people listened to me. It’s because I wrote that I found friends. It’s because I read comics and played video games that I found a place to belong.
So I remain what I’ve always been. My shoes are scruffy, dirty, and worn. My apartment is messy. If you need me, I’ll be sitting here, in the corner, with a book. Many things will change, these will not.



The Necklace
God made me a writer to better understand Him. Because of the way I care for the characters I create and the worlds that I construct for them, I have no doubt in my mind that my creator is loving crafting a story perfectly suited for me.
God put me in a family that was different from me so that I would learn how to be comfortable in my individuality. He let me be alone in my childhood so that I would learn to empathize with the people I would someday write for. He allowed me to give too much to my friends so that I would learn that real love needs to be a little selfish if it wants to survive. He put people in my life to disagree with so that I would know how to respect everyone.
He gave me a passion for writing so that I could apply everything He’s taught me.
God is the one who pushes me to write. He provides the means for me to do so. I am who I am so that I may tell those who are like me about His love.
It has not been an easy road. He never claimed it would be. But when I look back on what He’s done so far, I can’t say that my way has ever been better than His. Even now, He teaches me to surrender my plans to Him. Because no matter what happens, it’ll make a great story.
Make no mistake, I am not a self made woman. Left to my own devices, I would have quit a long time ago.

The Gown

Compared to what I want, it’s meager. It feels like nothing. Four years for a flimsy gown and an itchy cap. Graduation was never the goal, only the means to the real end game.
But the gown isn’t just the school work, it’s also what I took to get there. It’s the comic I drew in fourth grade with all of my friends. It’s the last sentence I wrote in my first finished novel-”Next stop, London.”  It’s the first rejection I received from an agent. It’s the first writing conference I went too where I told everyone I was a sophomore in college even though I was only 16. It was the acceptance box I got from the only college I applied too, the one that came with stickers and a sketchbook. It was the first story I got published. It was turning a guaranteed F on one of my finals to an A. It was the school conference where I stood up in front of a full panel of agents and pitched my book.
It’s what I overcame when I decided to commit to this. Writing. For God. For people. For me.


The Horizon
The day of my graduation, when Faith and I were going to take these photos, I wanted sunny weather. That was the plan. To have a metaphor about how the future would be bright, adventurous, open, something to explore and have fun.
But when it turned out cloudy instead, somehow I knew that this was better.
The future is fog. It’s gray. It won’t show you how your story will pan out, or even if it will be happy or sad.
When I was in high school I was sure that the first novel I wrote would be the one I would make my name with. In 2016 I was positive my most recently finished work would have an offer by the end of 2017. Five months ago I was confident I’d have a stable job and be able to afford rent. Three weeks ago I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to sell a story to anyone.
God keeps trying to teach me the same lesson over and over. Maybe one day I’ll learn.
You really never know what tomorrow will bring.


 

P. S. Faith O'Leary took these photos. She's a photography extraordinaire, she's obsessed with the Chicago Cubs, and she has the right opinion on Scott Pilgrim v. The World. That's a real life Good Person(TM) right there. Also, like, hot dang. Look at those photos. Wow! Art! 

Check her out-

Monday, May 7, 2018



You know, sometimes, you just have those weeks. 

You know the ones. When anything that comes out of your mouth is an awkward stutter. When you break a shadow box at work and need to spend the money you were saving for a book shopping spree to replace it. When it rains so hard that there’s a puddle of water in your car that you have to mop up. When you’re on your way to chill at a cafe while you work you straight up step in cement, and the lady waiting to turn left at the stop sign judges you while you use the wet grass around you to try to save your favorite pair of chuckies. When it’s only Thursday, you’ve already filled your adventure quota, you’re still grieving after watching Infinity War, and you still have half the week left to live.



So you take a breath.

You realize that, realistically, most of the people you serve at your job have already forgotten your face by time they walk out the door. Shadow boxes come and go, but books will always be there. You need to fix the leak in your car, dummy. Your favorite chuckies were breathing their last before they got caked in sidewalk pudding. And, worry not, there will be an Infinity War II.




Besides, 

You’ve sold a story. That’s pretty baller. And you’re prepping to take The Monster Mystery to the Writer’s Digest conference in New York come August. You got back on the treadmill this week, and ya did pretty good kid. You’re going to pass out food to the homeless tonight and spend sometime with your squad at Navy Pier. Also, frick mate, this roasted almond tea tastes pretty good. Roasted Almond. What a concept.
You could do better, sure. But you could also do a heck of a lot worse. 

‘Til next time, nerds.




P.S. The Glenview Grind is charming as frick. People here are actually nice. The guy that sat to my left offered to move his stuff and unplug his laptop. The one to my right trusted me to watch his stuff. What a world.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018



*cracks knuckles*
Let’s do this. 

As an aspiring writer with a following that is still a work in progress get off my baCK ‘KAY HERMONO? I’M WORKING ON IT, I do not have a lot going on in the writing sense. Outside of my part time job, the projects I’m pounding out are barely anything compared to the work load of a profession. But it warrants exploring what kind of time and effort that takes. So I’m going to break it down by the most exciting metric I can think of. Numbers. 
*Skip to the last few paragraphs for The Point (TM). 

THE MONSTER MYSTERY
THE BOOK CURRENTLY OUT FOR SUBMISSION
As the title suggests, the active narrative work on this sucker is done for now. It is awaiting an offer, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise. So right now the focus is on market research and submission. We’re in Query Land folks, the least successful amusement park since 63% of Wisconsin. (Not just the water parks, mind you. Wisconsin as a whole.) This project took 2 years to get to in submittable-shape, most of that period spent splitting my focus between it and school work. 

DRAFTING: 6 months
EDITING: 1.5 Years
DRAFTS: 3
SUBMITTING: Ongoing
SUBMITTED: 23
REJECTED: 7
IGNORED: 2 (probably. Who knows. This business is slow.)
FEELINGS HURT: Exactly 4

THE NIGHTMARE THRILLER
STILL IN PRE-PRODUCTION
I’m still in the process of putting all the pieces together. This includes a lot of reading, interviewing, journaling, conceptualizing, so on and so forth. Turns out, dreams are tricky. Trying to nail down exactly how to write them, along with figuring out how to handle the overflowing Controversial Material (TM) that keeps on popping up in the book is-hang on, let me check my notes-
*knocks down tower of papers on desk
*shuffles through mess on floor and plucks a single sheet of paper
*squints at paper
-hard.

RESEARCH & DRAFTING: 4 Months and still ongoing

THE SHORT STORIES
Here, at least, I can offer you lovely readers some conclusive data. Not all that much, however, because that’d just be too much fun. To give some context, writing and sending out short stories is like the lite version of sending out a novel. Doesn’t take as long to write them, you skip the middle man, don’t have to do as much research on your markets, and sometimes don’t have to wait as long for a reply. Yet, somehow, rejection still packs the same punch. 
ANYHOO. 

Mr. Pascal’s Funeral Parlor - 1 Month
WRITTEN: 1 week. Back in high school. 
DRAFTS: 1 
SUBMITTED: 1
ACCEPTED: 1
*don’t ask me how I did this. I don’t know how I did this. I haven’t been able to do this again.
The Great Oak of Hypothetical Nowhere - Submission Ongoing
WRITTEN: 1 month
DRAFTS: 3
SUBMITTING: On Hiatus. Like Twenty One Pilots
SUBMITTED: 9 
REJECTED: 9
PRIDE: HA. Itsfine. 
Siren - 3 Months
WRITTEN: 1 week
DRAFTS: 2
SUBMITTED: 4
REJECTED: 3
ACCEPTED: HECK YEAH BABY. NON-PAYING SCHOOL MAGAZINE STILL COUNTS. 
Jack vs. The Bloody Carpet - 2 Years
WRITTEN: 3 weeks
DRAFTS: 2.5
SUBMITTED: 19
REJECTED: 15
IGNORED: 1
ACCEPTED: FRICK. YES. 
Ann - 5 Months
WRITTEN: 1 month
DRAFTS: 6 
SUBMITTED: 4
REJECTED: 3
ACCEPTED:
 Image result for gif victory
Quesadillas of Questionable Origin - Submission Ongoing
WRITTEN: 1 afternoon
DRAFTS: 2
SUBMITTING: Ongoing 
SUBMITTED: 3
REJECTED: 3
PRIDE: Could be worse. I’m not dead. That counts for something, right?

ONGOING PROJECTS
Here’s a look into the workshop, all the things that could come to be. Clock them in at about 800-1800 words a piece, meaning they take a good afternoon to write if the juices are flowing. 

*Linda and the Chosen One’s Ring - Short Story - Submission Prep
*Dragon in the Hearth - Short Story - Draft 2
*A Change of Pace - Graphic Short - Draft 1
*God and the Process of Grief: A character study of A Monster Calls - Article - Pitched
*Piracy and Intellectual Property - Blog - Researching/Drafting
*Letting Your Writing Be Cheesy - Blog - Outlining
*Christianity’s Relationship with Art - Blog - Researching
*Improving Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s Ending - Video Essay - Written ALL THE WAY BACK IN 1965 WHEN MILK WAS A NICKEL, CHURCHES WERE FULL ON SUNDAY MORNIN’S, AND THE MOTOZOLA RAZOR WAS STILL A COOL PHONE.
Ahem. 
Videos are hard.

So there it is. That’s the stuff I have recorded. Not an exhaustive list by any means but it’s a start. Not counting the stuff I tried to send out before college or the comic I tried to self-publish once upon a time because that is another post altogether.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because you ought to know that even in the barest of efforts, even when you distill it down to just the numbers, writing takes. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes guts. It takes heart. Put all the mushy starving artist nobody-respects-ART-man sentiments in a drawer and you’ve got a career that demands you sacrifice your evenings, weekends, days off, whatever you have feed the machine. And it won’t sustain you until the planets align in your favor. It’s a crazy business, mate. You gotta be crazy to be in it.