Category Archives: Florida

Happy MLKJr Day!

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I hope everyone is having a safe and relaxing Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, filled with inspiration and peacefulness. 🙂 Happy wishes from Florida!

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Author interview tonight!

I’m excited to be a guest on tonight’s A Book and a Chat interview at 630 p.m! (That’s my Florida time — so please adjust if you don’t live on the east coast).

Please drop by to give a listen or share your thoughts and questions. I’m looking forward to chatting about From Light to Dark!

From Light to Dark

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry.

Last night I saw the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

There it was, the second half of the seventh book unfolding in front of me and then slipping away like a wisp of magic leaving a broken wand. With every event that happened on screen, I was that much closer to being done with Harry Potter forever.

Harry has been my friend for over ten years. I started reading his stories  in a Denny’s, where I would go to be alone during my lunch breaks. The real world just melted away as I snuggled up for a few chapters each afternoon. Once, a woman dashed over to my booth and tapped me on the shoulder, snapping me out of Hogwarts and back to the diner. Looking a little embarrassed, she asked, “Are you reading those, too? Aren’t they amazing?”

When the movies started, I loved sharing the fun with friends by dressing up and generally acting insane. Have you read John Scalzi’s blog about just how unique these films have been?

Yes, I'm a Hufflepuff.

To prepare for the theatrical release of one of the best of the series, my mom and I bought an audio version of Prisoner of Azkaban and listened to it together every day, remembering our favorite parts of that great story.

My brother accompanied me on a road trip to my grad school one summer, and in the hotel he hooked up a PlayStation and put in a Harry Potter game. I had fallen asleep critiquing manuscripts for class when he woke me up with a loud, “ALRIGHT!” My eyes flew open, and there he stood next to the television, one arm behind his back like a General instructing his troops, the game on pause. He pointed at the screen dramatically, tapping locations on the game map. “We have Prefects HERE, HERE, and HERE!”

Now that the books and movies are complete, we’re done. I look back on those years of joy that surrounded Harry Potter, and I know I’m really going to miss it. Of course we’ll have fun in other ways, but there’s nothing quite like sitting around with your friends and family late at night, adamantly defending Snape’s innocence to the one person who admits to being on the fence.

🙂  Oh, Snape. You’re so dreamy. Sirius, too.  /swoon

So, let me take this moment to make a desperate plea to JK Rowling:

Please write more! How about the story of Dumbledore vs. Grindelwald? Or seven books about the Marauders? We can’t really be expected to get by without any Wizarding World fiction ever again, can we? Can we???

Okay. We’ll see how that works.  🙂

In the meantime, though, what do we do? It’s easy enough to say, “Here’s a great book to read if you love Harry Potter!” but somehow I wonder whether anything can really touch the magic that Hogwarts brought to our lives.

The Wizarding World at Universal Orlando

Are you a fan who misses the Wizarding World? How are you coping? What are you reading now to get by?  🙂

Twenty Questions

Sitting in a car for hours or days on end with several other people can either be the perfect vacation or a painful exercise in maintaining composure. Sometimes it’s both.

As you may know, right now I’m on my way back from a super fun writer’s conference in Pennsylvania. The thing is, I live in Florida – and we drove.

Luckily for me, my car mates are two of my favorite people in the world, so most of the time we’re just enjoying each other’s company. However, there’s only so much we can chat about before the experience starts to seem pretty endless. When that happens, we play games!

Our favorite is 20 Questions.

Rules

Think of something. Announce whether it’s animal, mineral, or vegetable. Your friends may ask yes or no questions only. Twenty isn’t really the limit in our car; we just keep asking until we figure out what the other person is thinking of.

How to tell when you’re so tired it’s time to pull over

When you start to miss the obvious. Last night I was thinking of a pretty iconic spaceship. Keep in mind that we’re all Doctor Who fans. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: I’m a mineral.

Them: Are you in your natural state?

Me: No.

Them: Are you a specific one?

Me: Yes.

Them: Are you fictional?

Me: Yes.

Them: Are you from a book?

Me: Not originally.

Them: Film?

Me: Not originally.

Them: TV show?

Me: Yes.

Them: Are you a tool?

Me: In a way.

Them: Are you a transportation device?

Me: Yes.

Them: Do you fly?

Me: Yes.

Them: *sleepy pause* Are there real-life versions of you in use outside of the show?

Me: No.

Them: *longer sleepy pause* Are you a spaceship?

Me: Yes.

Them: *even longer, sleepier pause* Are you from Star Trek?

Me: You guys must be super tired.

Any guesses what I actually was?  🙂  They did get it a few minutes later, and then we pulled over for some much-needed rest.

Beautiful Colleges

I just graduated with my master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction — for the second time!  🙂

January, 2011                                             June, 2004

In 2002, I entered the Writing Popular Fiction distance-learning program at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. So began two years of pretty much constant writing, critiquing, writing, reading, and writing. I traveled to Greensburg twice a year for intensive residencies where I sat through classes on writing and fiction, and I participated in workshops on my and other classmates’ writing.

Then, in 2004, I taught at our June residency, defended my thesis (a middle grade fantasy novel), and walked down the graduation aisle to get my MA.

*wipes hands* All done.

Or was I?

In 2010, I went back. They’ve opened up the program to be an MFA, and they’re allowing those of us who missed out on a letter to return to get “F”ed, as we call it.  🙂  So that’s what I did!

This meant more intensive reading and writing — much more than the first time around. The new classes are meant to be spread out over the entire experience, not over one year as I did them, which means that 2010 was pretty insane for me. I was on a super fast track, tearing through literature faster than I can rip open a box of cookies.  🙂

It was fun — but exhausting.

Everything became worth it, though, when I defended yet another novel in front of my professors and peers, and I walked for a second time down the same graduation aisle.

In 2004, I graduated in June, when fireflies blink like little fairies around Seton Hill’s green trees. This time, I graduated in January, when snowflakes and ice cover the world outside the window.

For a Florida girl, it’s pretty exciting to visit Pennsylvania during the seasons. We don’t see snow or even many fireflies where I come from. The scenery was just another benefit of the whole thing.

Now, of course, I miss it.  🙂  I miss the classes, the structure, the people, and the beautiful place where we gathered to share stories.

Did you have a memorable college experience? What was it like?

*all photos stolen from my mother

Bragging

Today I’m going to brag about my super cool husband.  🙂

Rob played Dog in a show called “Good Dog” by William Roeder at the first annual John Goring Memorial One Act Festival. The festival ended yesterday with an awards ceremony for the best plays, performances, direction, tech, etc.

Not only did “Good Dog” take many of the awards including Best Show, but Rob won Best Actor!  🙂  He did a fantastic job, and I was so glad to see him be recognized for it.

 

Photo taken by "Good Dog" director, Bob Lipka

 

The judging must have been tough because each show had a lot to offer. These were local writers, actors, directors, and tech, all overflowing with talent and passion for homegrown theatre. My favorite kind of people.  🙂  Every show in the festival was the result of hard work, and it absolutely showed.

I can’t wait for the next productions by Playwrights’ Round Table. If you are in Central Florida, be sure to check them out! Their support for local theatre is fantastic.

Into the Woods

The Pistolsniffers went to the woods this past weekend. Check out our awesome campfire!

It was a great bonding experience for us all – when do smores fail? – but also, of course, it was a working trip for the team. More on that when the time comes.  🙂

Apart from battling insects and a bear (well, we didn’t do battle so much as cower when we heard the bear wandering around near our chairs), we also encountered one massive and artistically talented spider.

Photo taken by Rob Cunha

Welcome to Florida’s forests.

It’s pretty invigorating to be outside in the fresh air. Perfect place to get some great ideas.

Where do you go for inspiration?