I am the Capitol


I just finished reading “Catching Fire,” the second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, for the first time. I have to say, it left me almost clinically depressed. Talk about a dystopian setting! It was fantastically plotted, though, and I thought the whole “clock” idea was inspired. I read it in less than 24 hours, just like I did with the first book.

After finishing the book, I found myself going on about my normal life, but getting depressed at the very thought of the awful way the book ends (and the things I’ve heard about the 3rd one, which I will read once I have recovered and actually have some free time). Every time the depressing thoughts would come, I would just shake them off. After all, my life isn’t that bad. I need to go get my hair cut. That will make me feel better.

Then it hit me. OH. EM. GEE.

I am the Capitol.

I, me, a girl who considers herself such a great person and so compassionate and caring and intelligent, am just like those brainless, worthless “Capitol” bimbos in Suzanne Collins’ novels. Vain. Selfish. Happy as long as all my needs are being met. Wanting to just shove reality and depressing thoughts away. Intrigued by all the suffering I see on TV instead of enraged by it.

I want to simply ignore the fact that there are starving, oppressed, trapped people all over the world, just like there are in the fictional (but not too far off) land of Panem. I want to just sit on my cozy couch day after day with my lovely, fat, black cat and my laptop and write the stories I want to write. I want to have riches, fame, and comfort instead of living my life for something that really matters.

That’s not to say that comfort, fame, riches, and writing the stories I want to write are all bad. But if that’s all I have, it’s nothing. I might as well be dead for all anyone else cares.

This realization brought me to tears. How wrong have I been? What have I been doing? What can I do?

Then I remembered there’s a volunteering opportunity with my school next month at a local food bank. I may not be able to save millions of lives or even make a DENT in the stratosphere of this world, but I can lend a helping hand.

Another thing I realized today while I was reading this incredible book is that I have an immense power right at my fingertips. I can write. I can entertain. I can get into people’s heads and hearts and make them think and feel.

I have an audience, and that is power in and of itself. AND SO DO YOU. Whoever you are, whatever you do, TODAY, this moment, you have an audience who needs to hear what you have to say.

So if you are reading this, my challenge to you is this: Donate, volunteer, speak, sing, paint, write, invent, fix, play, sign, give, love, pray–whatever you can do, do it. For the hungry, for the sick, for the addicted, for the enslaved. For anyone you know who is suffering–get off your arse and do something to help them.

You only have one life on this planet. Make it count.

~N.L.

Sneak Peek!


WHEW. I have been working like a mad woman on the second draft of Velaria. This novel is killing me slowly–I literally forget to eat and take my medicines, and I don’t get to sleep until 3 AM at times. It’s not very good for me, but I must do it. I MUST write when my muse inspires me.

I’m up to 13,713 words right now on this second draft, which is pretty good considering I just started it on Saturday. Some of it I pasted in from my original draft, but most of it is brand new storyline. I’m almost to the part where one of the characters realizes she’s pregnant… which, by the way, is going to throw a HUGE monkey wrench into things. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to work this. So far I’ve just got the bare bones of this plotline and the details are coming to me as I go (well, either they come to me or I ignore them for now and move on anyway).

I’m exhausted and have not gotten a good night sleep this entire frickin’ week, but it’s absolutely worth it. My future is getting closer and closer, I can feel it!

And now, for the moment I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this whole blog post. Here’s a chapter from the novel, the one where the foursome is changed into spirit form and Ardith’s jealousy causes a big problem. I realize this excerpt will leave you with a lot of questions, some of which I will be prepared to answer. I just basically wanted to give you all an idea of where I’m going with this work.

Enjoy! 🙂

~N.L.

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Change us!” I cried, practically shaking Liriba in my desperation. What was she waiting for? Could anything be more dangerous than that horrible beast?

She sighed, and said, “Alright.” And then with one wave of her hand, all of us changed.

Any sense of physical pain I had previously felt from hunger, exhaustion, or injuries was gone. The world around me looked so bright and vivid, like no danger or illness or famine or plague had ever touched it. The sky was such a vivid blue that it was almost glowing. I suddenly realized the monster that had just seconds before haunted the sky was nowhere to be seen.

I looked at my companions and saw that all our physical flaws and imperfections had vanished… but that was not the only thing that had changed. With the exception of Liriba, all of us had different eye colors than our original. Julius’ eyes were a radiant turquoise blue, and Galen’s once-blue eyes were a fiery orange.

“Your eyes are the same color as Julius’,” Liriba said to me, and I was amazed at how crystal-clear her voice sounded.

“My ear!” Galen exclaimed. “I’ve always been deaf in my right ear, and now I can hear out of it!”

“That’s because in the spirit world, there is no imperfection. Your spirit cannot be damaged or destroyed by anyone except the spirit-lords,” she informed us.

“Who are the spirit-lords?” I asked.

“The people who rule this realm,” she said. “I’ve already said too much by mentioning them so I’m sorry, but I cannot speak further.”

I noticed some small groups of people walking on the road that I had not seen before. They looked perfect, like us. “Where are we?” I asked.

“We are in the same place we were when I changed us,” Liriba said, “only this time, you are seeing the unseen. These are souls who have been long dead. They walk on the same land you do every day.”

“You mean… they’re ghosts?” Julius asked.

Liriba chuckled. “I suppose that’s what you would call them, yes.”

“So they do exist,” Galen breathed, looking around at them in wonder.

“Of course they exist,” Liriba said. “You don’t cease to exist just because you lose your physical body. But we do not have time to discuss all this, we must get to safety and enter into our physical bodies again before the sun sets tonight.”

“What happens when the sun sets?” I asked.

“You will be trapped like this forever.”

She was right, we didn’t have time to sit around and chat. Getting trapped in this world would ruin my chances at saving Greylace. We had to keep moving.

As we walked, I realized the ground was moving past my feet a lot faster than it used to. “Liriba,” I asked, “are we moving faster, or is it just my imagination?”

“You are indeed moving faster than you would in the physical realm,” she confirmed. “In fact, at this rate, we will probably be able to camp just outside the castle walls tonight… that is, if nothing goes wrong.”

I heard birds singing from the trees and looked at all the beauty and harmony surrounding me and thought, What could go wrong?

A lot could go wrong, Ardith, Liriba warned… but her voice sounded different. I looked at her strangely. I’m talking to you with my mind, she said without moving her lips. I suddenly realized I was actually hearing her thoughts in my head.

I can hear you! I exclaimed in my mind, and when Liriba smiled I heard her laughing. You’re laughing… but you’re not laughing!

Yes, it is a little strange until you get used to it, she agreed.

We can speak without… speaking? It was Julius’ voice this time.

Indeed we can, Liriba said, and Julius caught up with Liriba and me and walked between us. I just knew it was her he wanted to talk to and not me. She was the beautiful one. She was the one that had the real power. I had no chance against her and never would.

Without warning, my jealousy began to rage out of control. It felt like fire was consuming my body from the inside out. The feeling was horrible, but I couldn’t stop it. I desperately tried to blank out my mind, thinking that’s where it came from, but it was more deeply implanted in me than I realized.

Shh, Liriba said, stopping us with her hand. I hear something.

I heard it, too. It was a strange sound… A deep gurgle, like one would expect from a pot of boiling water.

W-what is that? Galen asked nervously.

I feel something strange inside me, Liriba said. It’s almost like… there’s something eating me… And with that, a terrible, blackish-green substance began bubbling out of her mouth. I was petrified. Somehow I knew it was my fault, but I tried to resist that knowledge and pretended I didn’t know what was going on.

“Liriba!” I was so distressed that I yelled it out loud. “What is happening to you?!”

She collapsed to the ground and choked out, “My spirit, it’s being poisoned. One of you has something against me.”

I began breathing very heavily and feeling faint. The fire in my soul was growing hotter and hotter in addition to my growing sense of guilt.

IT’S ME!” I cried, hoping the admission would stop the poison. “It’s me. I’m the one who’s doing this.” The poison only got thicker and blacker. “But… I… I don’t know how to stop!”

“What’s wrong, Ardith?!” Julius asked, panicked. “What do you have against her?”

“I… I-I-I—“

“Tell him, Ardith!” Galen cried. “Tell him before something worse happens to her!”

“Julius, I…” I whimpered, turning to him. “I—I love you. Alright? That’s what it is. And I’ve seen the way you blush when Liriba talks to you and… Alright, I’m jealous. I admit it. But I never meant for this to happen, you have to believe that!” Tears were beginning to fall and I searched his face desperately for an answer.

To my utter shock, I heard him chuckle a little… and even through my tears, I could not miss his smile. “You thought I loved her? A woman I’ve known for less than an hour? Instead of my dearest friend?” His arms went around me and both of us forgot everything else existed for a moment. “I’ve been such a fool not to tell you I love you. I do, and I have…. ever since that day 8 years ago at the pond, when those kids from school—“

“Dared us to kiss,” we both said at the same time, smiles bursting across our faces.

He loved me. And not only that, we had fallen in love on the same day! A pleasant feeling, like cool breeze in spring, washed through my spirit and the fire faded away.

I suddenly heard Liriba coughing and sputtering again and realized she didn’t have much time. I reluctantly broke the embrace and knelt next to her on the ground, fresh tears burning my eyes. “Liriba,” I called her name brokenly, my voice catching in my throat. “I… I’m so sorry.” I laid a hand on her body and allowed myself to let go of every drop of resentment I had ever felt for her. Nothing happened at first, but then we all watched in amazement as the healing touch of my apology cured the effects of the poison. She stopped vomiting after a few seconds and then the gurgling sound ceased.

Galen came over to us and both of us helped Liriba stand up. She was obviously weakened and miserable, but much to my surprise and relief, her eyes held nothing but forgiveness. “You didn’t know that would happen,” she said. “You wouldn’t hurt me on purpose… would you?”

“No,” I assured her ardently. “Never. You’ve been so kind, and…” I sighed in anguish. “So far, all I’ve done is hate you. I’m so desperately sorry.”

“Then all is forgiven,” Liriba said, with a feeble, yet genuine smile.

I embraced her, and she returned the hug with more strength than I expected. “Do you feel alright?” I asked.

“Not to worry, Ardith. Your apology cured me and your acceptance of me is strengthening me as we speak.”

“I feel so terrible—“ I began, but Liriba stopped me by pulling back to look me in the eyes.

“Please don’t. I’m so glad you two finally settled that. From what I hear, it’s been a long time in coming.” She winked, and then gave Julius a very significant look.

I turned to Julius in surprise. “Is that what you two were talking about back there on the road?”

“That, among other things,” he said, his grin stretching from ear to ear.

I gave him a quizzical look, but he just shook his head and continued to smile that suspicious smile at me. Then he drew me close, wrapped his arms tightly around my waist, and kissed me so hard that every worry disappeared.

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P.S.–Everyone but Liriba will think all of this was a dream later on in the book, when they’re changed back into physical form. So basically, every victory they achieve in the spirit world will have to be re-achieved in the physical world. It will be quite interesting, so please stay tuned 🙂

The Characters Rule


I am only 4,000 words into this darn book and already I’m switching up the storyline right and left. However, having a storyline for Velaria in the first place is definitely helping now that things are getting off the ground and starting to fly. I can always edit a storyline, but it’s kind of hard to write a book when you have no outline whatsoever to go on.

One magical thing that has happened so far in this long, agonizing process is this: I am falling MADLY in love with my characters. The following picture is a testament to my insanity–

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(notice neither of those initials is mine)

I’m kinda hoping that millions of teenage girls will be doing this once the book is published (and again when the blockbuster movie is released. Hey, one can dream).

But seriously, any good book should make you feel this way about the characters. So drawn in by their joys and sorrows, dreams and failures, and most importantly, their stories, that you feel like they’re real and bring little bits of them into the real world. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Creating something new?

That is why I am challenging every writer I know and who reads this blog to DO YOUR CHARACTER SKETCHES. Seriously. If you’re half-way through the book already and haven’t done this crucial step yet, I say shame on you.

Get to know your people! What is their age and station in life? What do they look like? Where are they from? What’s their backstory? What you’re doing when you write is, in a sense, creating your own world and creating new people. So for heaven’s sake, give them nicknames. Families. A past. A future.

The characters ARE your story. I know this is a dumb example, because it’s a game and not a book, but think about Angry Birds. If you strip it down to its bare bones it’s a pretty stupid game, to be honest. A bird flies into a very poorly built “house” and smashes into a pig and *POOF!* it evaporates. This process repeats. Over. And over. And over.

Why do we love this darn game so much anyway?

Two words. THE. CHARACTERS.

Those birds are the very definition of cute, and so are the pigs. Have you watched the cartoons on youtube? I swear those birds were modeled off a 3 month old kitten. Pure “awww” every second of the way.

Now there are other factors that definitely contribute to the success of Angry Birds, but there’s a reason why their little plush toys fly off the racks. In fact, I actually have an Angry Bird carabiner on my key ring. Why? CAUSE HE’S CUTE. (plus he’s big and red, so he helps me keep track of my keys. But mostly he’s cute)

So, my point is this. Make your characters super-cute, super-loveable, super-evil, super awesome, super-relatable… I don’t care what the heck you do, just make them something people will REMEMBER and WANT. Because in the end, the characters rule.

Enjoy your Tuesday peeps. And remember to always do your character sketches.

~N.L.

Storyline Complete!


The storyline for Velaria is officially laid out and I am ready to begin some serious writing. Oddly enough, I’m having a harder time getting started this time around than I did the time when I HADN’T storylined. (shut up Spell Check! I know that’s not a real word and I don’t give …)

It’s probably because this time I’m actually trying to do things RIGHT. I mean after all, isn’t doing things the right way always the hardest way? No good thing comes easy. It’s something I’m learning the hard way.

But hey, as usual, I am MEGA PSYCHED about where this story is going. It’s pretty much indescribable at this point, I’m still working out some kinks. Such as how to describe it. If I had to think of a one-sentence logline for this book right now I would be sunk.

In any case, as soon as I get a good excerpt to post from this new re-start I will definitely post it here first. My readers and writer pals are the backbone of my future career. I seriously couldn’t do without you guys. Thank you thank you, thank you thank you.

That’s all for tonight, I’m mentally exhausted from starting summer school today. Online. 13 credits. AND I plan to work AND write this summer too. Am I crazy?

ABSOLUTELY. But it doesn’t matter how many people thought you were crazy once you’ve won.

TTFN,

~N.L.

Thank You!!!!


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My blog  just passed 30 followers, so I just thought I’d give a little shout-out to you! Thank you for believing in me and following my journey! News coming soon about Velaria and some other cool stories I have percolating in my head so STAY TUNED!!! Love you all!

~N.L.

The Sunshine Award


I feel honored that someone thought I was uplifting and inspiring. Thanks Khaula Mahzar 🙂 http://khaulamazhar.wordpress.com/ (Sorry I’m just going to have to post the links after the names because I’m not that WordPress-savvy yet :P)

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Here goes nothing! I’m doing this in the form of 10 Random Facts instead of long, drawn-out Q&A (because I’m lazy… Plus no one’s actually going to read something tedious and drawn-out anyway, right??)

Soooo, 10 Random Facts about me–

1. My pseudonym was (partially) based on a typo that one of my friends made while texting.

2. I don’t like cherries, but I have an aunt named Cherry.

3. I like lame Disney sequels (sometimes).

4. I’m uncreative when it comes to EVERYTHING… except music and writing.

5. People have called me snobbish before, even though I am the least confident person I know. It’s because I walk fast as if I’m confident but I rarely initiate a conversation, so I’m a bit paradoxical.

6. Sometimes I start laughing like a maniac if I need relief from stress. It usually lasts for about 10 minutes and before it’s over everybody ends up laughing at ME.

7. I sleep in a power recliner instead of a bed. It’s very comfy but it’s sinking in because I’m in it so much.

8. I have the tiniest toenails you’ve ever seen. Sometimes when I cut them the little ones disappear.

9. I also have two toenails per toe on each of my little toes. Basically I just have strange feet in general.

10. I have a very sharp intuition and have had several prophetic dreams. These have strengthened my faith in God and my faith in the spiritual world in general.

Now for my nominations…

Sitting in Awkward Silence (http://dontbeagooeychocolatechipcookie.wordpress.com)

EmiHeart (http://adventuresinwordsmithing.wordpress.com)

HannahReadFilms (http://hannahreadfilms.wordpress.com)

LadyRomp (http://ladyromp.wordpress.com)

StellaMarr (http://www.secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com)

And, of course, the lovely lady who nominated me, Khaula Mazhar.

Hope you enjoyed my random facts and will check out my nominees! They’re awesome! 🙂

~N.L.