Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Hop - What I'm working on



The lovely Nicole Evelina tagged me in her blog hop so here’s a little bit about what I’ve been up to.

1) What am I working on?
A MG fantasy about dragon changelings and my main character Sasha who wants nothing to do with her dragon form.

I’m also furious editing a YA sci fi thriller that I’m really excited about! Hopefully I’ll be pushing that out into the world soon.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Okay let’s talk about my MG WIP. And without spoiling too much since my WIP is fairly new, Sasha lives in a world where the dragons aligned into clans, but the clans don’t get along. In fact it’s traitorous to associate with dragon changelings outside of the clan they reside in. Sasha grew up outside the clans, which inherently puts her at risk. And she quickly learns there’s a secret all the changelings are hiding and it’s the very reason they don’t get along and have remained separated.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I absolutely love the question ‘What if?’ It’s how most of my ideas start and that lends itself very well to science fiction and fantasy. I also grew up on both genres, and am a huge sci fi/fantasy junkie. I love it and have a hard time saying no to it no matter the medium.

I’m also an aerospace engineer by day, so I love to take existing ideas and technology and stretching them just a little bit further. You might say I’ve been training to write science fiction and fantasy my whole life!

4) How does my writing process work?
After the initial idea, I start with an outline. Always. I need to know where I’m headed, even if I don’t 100% follow it. With the case of my current WIP, I’ve also spent a lot of time world building. Figuring out what each dragon clan was about and what makes them special. How they differ from the other clans. Usually though the world builds as I write so this vast initial world building is new for me. But I think it’s a necessary part of fantasy.

After that I write. I start at the beginning and I go and keep going until I reach the end. As I go my outline shapes and changes and sometimes I get snippets of scenes I’ll plug into my outline, but for the most part my writing process is very linear. Idea, outline, write start to finish. I think it’s my engineer side taking over. ;)

Thanks to Nicole for tagging me in her blog hop. See below for more information about her and for a link to her post about what she’s been up to.

Author bio:
Nicole Evelina is St. Louis-born historical fiction writer represented by Jen Karsbaek of Foreword Literary. She is the author of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, as well as a work of women’s fiction.  Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society, and Sirens, a group supporting female fantasy authors, as well as a member of the St. Louis Writer’s Guild and Women Fiction Writers Association.

She is one of only six authors who recently completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Her website/blog is http://nicoleevelina.com and she can be found on Twitter as @nicoleevelina as well as on Pinterest and Facebook.

Friday, April 11, 2014

St. Louis Comic Con 2014

If I had to use one word to describe St. Louis Comic Con 2014, I'd probably say surreal. Then I'd quickly follow it with amazing, exhausting, exciting, and awesome. Really I could go on and on and on with all the wonderful adjectives but suffice to say, I am one lucky girl. The weekend was downright fantastic.

Wizard World STL in 2014 was several times larger and definitely more badass than 2013. For starters the vendors and artist alley was held inside Edward Jones Dome instead of on the convention center floor which served as the entry to the con this year. From the moment I stepped onto the floor, I could feel the con energy. There's something about a nerd dressed in cosplay surrounded by her people. And while I was bouncing off the walls for at least a month prior to the con, when the day finally came I was calm cool and collected because I was finally in my element, finally home. It’s the best feeling in the world to be in the place where you know you belong.

Stargate Sg-1
After getting our wristbands and waiting in line for the con to officially start, the lines finally started to move. We wandered the vendors and artists alley for a bit, looking at geeky tshirts, toys (yeah I still REALLY want a lightsaber), and awesome art! I even ran into the awesome Heather Brewer who was signing books and giving away swag! It was also fun to check out all the people in cosplay. In general there’s tons to see and explore.
Ghostbusters cosplay
After that we went to a Doctor Who panel followed by a panel on the psychology of science fiction. Both were really interesting. And then it was time to head home and rest up for day 2!

Day 2
When we arrived we waited in line to get in. Then we wandered the vendor floor again and I got my picture taken for the online cosplay contest. After that we headed over to the theater to wait for the awesome panels. As much as waiting in line sucks, I always ALWAYS meet the most awesome people. And day 2 was no exception. We met fellow whovians and other sci fi fans, and honestly when you put a bunch of nerds in a room together they will never fail to find something to talk about. We talked everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Doctor Who while we waited to get into the theater.

And then once again the line finally moved! We found our seats on the first balcony and waited for the first panel, Eliza Dushku. I loved her in Dollhouse and Bring it On but I honestly had no idea what to expect from her. She was surprisingly very funny. She talked about Buffy, Dollhouse, even Bring it On as well as the difference between working for James Cameron and Joss Whedon. She joked about how her hair was her superpower and her comfort zone (which call me crazy but I can totally relate too) and how Joss Whedon loved to take her out of her comfort zone by frequently putting her hair up in Dollhouse. She later got a tattoo on the back of her neck so that every time they’d want to do that they’d have to put her through 30 minutes of makeup. Check out a brief clip from her panel below.


Next up was the Sean Astin panel. He mostly talked Lord or the Rings but there was a a couple questions about Goonies, which was fun because someone asked about what he thought about the possibility of Goonies two and if he’d want to be involved. He responded “It’ll be sooner rather than later.” And sure enough 4 or so questions later, someone said they had announced online that Goonies two would happen. Astin’s response “What did I say before? Sooner rather than later.” In general Sean seemed very down to Earth and loved interacting with the fans. Check out a clip from his panel below.


And then it was time for the main event! Matt Smith’s panel. The theater filled to capacity and after a sonic salute, Matt took the stage. There was a lot of I love you’s and some awesome questions from the fans during this panel. Matt was a lot of fun and a great sport about all the crazy fan love. I recorded his whole panel so check it out below.


And then it was time to rush out of the theater and stand in line again. This time to meet Matt Smith. We tagged up with some friends and did a lot of people watching while we waited in line for his autograph. And finally FINALLY it was my turn.

Matt looked up at me and the first thing out of his mouth was “Are you an expendable?”

I laughed and said “No I'm an incredible”

He said, “Oh right, the Disney thing. Is expendable even a thing?”

I said “Yes.”

Although very different, close enough Matt I’ll give it to you. I said nice meeting you and we were off and back to wandering the vendors.

After another panel that shall remain nameless because it was badly organized and rather insulting, it was time for me to line up for the costume contest. Now let me pause here for a minute to explain a few things.

1) I hate HATE being the center of attention
2) I hate HATE being on stage
3) I’m a huge HUGE introvert
4) I could go on and on with reasons why this is out of my wheelhouse but I think you get the point.

So why I subjected myself to the costume contest I’ll never know. Maybe it was because I was super excited about my Violet Parr costume or because I felt like I was in my element. I’m not really sure, but when it came time to line up in my spot Lucky Number 2 (no not daunting at all!) I started to freak out. Especially since the people I was with filed into the theater and I was alone. Okay not really alone, I was surrounded by a couple hundred awesome cosplayers but not gonna lie I felt kind of alone. AND NERVOUS. But I quickly made friends with those around me. A girl dressed as Poison Ivy and a fantastic family dressed as Firefly. If it wasn’t for them I might have walked away in a ball of tears. Not only did they calm my nerves without even knowing it but they made the whole experience fun, no not just fun AWESOME. We had a mini dance party back stage while we waited to be announced and then I strutted my confident Incredible (pun intended) self onto the stage and struck my pose!

Me as Violet Parr in the Cosplay Contest
Then I exited stage right and joined my fellow cosplayers in the upper balcony. I sat next to the firefly clan and we had a massive dance party in the penthouse of the theater as we cheered on the rest of the cosplay contestants. It was a complete blast! I didn’t win anything but I’m so SO unbelievably glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and did this. It was 100% worth it.
The Firefly cosplayers
After the contest we jetted off for some food at Pi and ran into none other than Sean Patrick Flannery. I eyed him from across the room but gave the guy his space. He didn’t need some crazy fans interrupting his dinner. But as luck would have it, his group was exiting at the same time we were. I looked at him said I’m a huge fan and he said thank you and walked off back to the convention center. We followed and hung out with other con attendees at the after party in on of the boxes at the dome, then headed home thoroughly exhausted.

Day 3
Before we knew it we were back in line to get into the con. I met some other lovely con goers who just so happened to be big Arrow fans. So we talked about how awesome the series is and how worthless the Lance girls are (okay not worthless, but if you watch the show you can understand the dislike). And then it was time to enter the con for the final day.


We headed back to the autograph area and I jumped in line to meet Nathan Fillion. We weren’t sure if there would be time to meet him after all the VIPs but before his photo ops but we got really lucky and squeezed in at the end. The poor guy was nursing a cold but despite that he was really nice and appreciative of the fans.

Two people in front of us he stopped and said “Snot break.” Then ducked under the table with a tissue and proceeded to take care of his nose blowing. His manager/agent whoever she was stood waiting with the hand sanitizer. And then he went on to shake the next person’s hand in line and wiped a ton of the excess all over the guy shaking his hand and saying “Nice to meet you!” Definitely a really surreal moment. I know actors are people too, but this was proof that he’s just a regular guy. Then it was my turn, I shook his hand, said I was a big fan and that is was nice to meet him and we were on our way.

And it was back to the theater to wait in line again for more awesome panels! First up was another Doctor Who panel led by St. Louis’s Doctor Who fan club the CIA. No not that CIA, but the Celestial Intervention Agency. It’s a classic Who reference for those unfamiliar. I also learned that St. Louis has the longest continuous Doctor Who fan club in North America. Which is pretty cool. The answered questions from the crowd about classic and new who and what they thought about the newest doctor, Peter Capaldi.

After that Karen Gillan took the stage to talk about Doctor Who, Occulus, and Guardians of the Galaxy. She also seemed really down to Earth. She talked about working with Matt and their final filming and her appearance on Matt’s last episode. She said she really just wanted to be there for him. Cue the Awwww’s. Check out some clips from her Q&A below.

 
And then it was time for the panel I’d been waiting for all weekend. The Firefly panel. I knew it was going to be amazing! And it truly was! Unfortunately Summer Glau had to fly out early, so we were treated to a boys night with Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, and Alan Tudyk. You can tell these three are friends and they were having a lot of fun up there. They mostly answered questions about Firefly and talked about working on set. And Alan gave away free signed “shit” including butt wipes, which apparently are good for removing the bags under your eyes. Oh and Nathan Fillion may have dropped a hint about Guardians of the Galaxy… just maybe. But I could go on and on about how awesome this panel was. And in fact you can see how awesome it was in the video below!



And after the Firefly panel, it was sadly time to go home. Well not too sad because it was an amazing AMAZING weekend. Utterly exhausting, but full of so much awesome! And after all the excitement I went home and slept for a million years. Oh and I also blew up the internet… but that’s a story for another time ;).


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Day I Blew up the Internet

Okay, so I didn't really blow up the internet cause you're all here reading this, but things kind of did explode today. I honestly thought my next blog was going to be about the awesomeness that was St. Louis Comic Con. But something interesting happened to me in the last 24 hours and I wanted to talk about that instead. And it is indirectly related to comic con, so while I gather my thoughts on that, here's the story of how "blew up" the internet.

When I attended the Firefly panel with Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Alan Tudyk on Sunday, I knew I wanted to record it. I'd been told that Firefly panels are always fantastic and lets face it, these three are top notch. As a huge fan of the show, I knew I'd not only want to remember it but also want to be able to relive it over and over again. I knew it would be great, but I never expected it so be so downright hilarious. I also never expected Nathan Fillion to drop one of biggest, geekiest spoilers EVER.

Toward the end of the panel, a fan asked Nathan Fillion if because of his connection to James Gunn (a St. Louis native), if he was wanting a role in Guardians of the Galaxy.

"Wanting to get a part... or maybe did," was Fillion's reply. And at that moment the air got sucked out of the room as 1400 people collectively took a breath together. "I'm just saying maybe. Maybe you'll be surprised. Maybe. Check the credits after the movie when you watch it," Fillion finished.

To say the room went bat-shit crazy is the understatement of the century.

I of course took the news to Twitter and Facebook. My friends all replied with "HE BETTER NOT BE KIDDING" and "THIS BETTER BE TRUE" and "OMG THIS IS AWESOME" and other such all caps excitement. And I said I'm pretty sure it is true, but I couldn't put into words the feeling that occurred in that theater as Nathan Fillion answered the question. I couldn't explain why I felt in my very gut that this awesomeness would come to pass. But I did have 40 plus minutes of video including this very announcement.

I wanted fans, truly diehard fans, to share in the news. Sci fi nerds, while on the rise in popularity, still frequently get a bad wrap. So we nerds and geeks have to stick together. We have to look out for each other. We also LOVE to speculate. And this is the perfect thing to speculate about. I wanted everyone to have that opportunity.

So I decided to take the news to one of the biggest sites for geeks, nerds, and fans, Hypable. I wrote up my story and I included the proof. And then I waited to see if it would get approved. An hour later it was on the site and then posted to Facebook.

But a short time after I had a tweet from one of Hypable's site managers, Andrew Sims.
hey! Q for you. Thanks for writing the Nathan Fillion article. Did you happen to find it at ?

My first reaction was to get a little defensive. I'd seen their article, but not until an hour after mine had gone up on Hypable. Apparently they were concerned that I'd stole the story from them. I was being accused of plagiarism. That couldn't be true. I was the one that had been plagiarized before. I never would even dream of doing that to anyone else. It sucks, and I'd never wish that 8th circle of hell on anyone or want to cause them that kind of pain. It was just a crazy coincidence that we both posted the same story with Nathan's quote. It happens a lot, both in the news world and also in the writing world.

I can only liken the feeling to when you start to read someone's book synopsis that just sold and your heart skips a beat thinking they've stolen your idea. But you keep reading on in fear and find out PHEW it's vastly different. It's a tough thing to experience, but it happens. A LOT! And it's equally as bad when it happens with big news you think you've scooped. You can't and probably wont ever be the first person to think of something. But that's okay. The only thing you can do is be true to yourself and your story. Each person brings a different perspective to the situation and/or story and it's important to remember that when writing. And it was a good lesson for me to learn. But that's not where the lessons stopped for me. In fact it's only where it started.

At any rate, I popped in on the story periodically throughout the day yesterday to see if people were enjoying it. I want my fellow nerds to be happy. For the most part people were. (yeah, LESSON #2 is you can't please everyone!) People were excited, chatting about it, and liking the post. The video had a couple hundred views. I'd done my job... or so I'd thought.

This morning I woke up to about 1200 views on the video. Cool. People were REALLY enjoying it. I was a happy nerd. By lunch time I had a post on my facebook wall from a fellow friend who attended the con. The video was popping up all over the internet. And it had over 5,000 views. FIVE THOUSAND! I couldn't believe it.

YEAH THIS FACE!

AND THIS!
SAY WHAT?

I started searching and my video was on many news sites. Sometimes my original story was referenced, but often times the video was there and no credit was given at all. NONE. In this case, I honestly didn't care. I'd shot some crappy, shaky video and happened to capture an awesome moment that I shared online. But I quickly realized that this happens ALL THE TIME. People don't give credit where it's due. They steal ideas, images, videos, stories, and on and on and on and don't credit the source. And there's not a whole lot you can do about it. LESSON #3 your shit's going to get stolen. You often aren't going to get credit for it. It sucks, but it happens.

But even more interesting, there were sites that had done their homework, not only credited me by my truncated youtube name, but some had even gone as far to find my full name and give me credit that way. Which leads me to LESSON #4 some people truly are wonderful. They will give credit where it's due. Your job is to say thank you and take it as the credit you didn't get in the past. Enjoy the moment.

And that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm laughing with friends, finding all the new places the video keeps popping up, and watching the views tick up and up and up. Which brings me to my final lesson, LESSON #5, you never know what might explode on the internet. You just can't predict it. I never expected this to happen in a million years. So to that end, be yourself online, and don't be an asshole. I REPEAT DON'T BE AN ASS! Then you wont be disappointed when the thing you least expected goes viral. You'll be proud. You'll be able to laugh about it and truly enjoying the crazy. All 7600 views of crazy and still climbing!


And if you are looking for the Guardians of the Galaxy bit it's at around 38 minutes in.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Divergent Swag Giveaway

I have three swag packs with Divergent items to giveaway! If you want to win one, fill out the rafflecopter below. US only.

Swag Pack 1: Divergent movie poster, sunglasses, pin, chapstick, chapter sampler, pin, and temporary tattoos of the faction symbols

Swag Pack 2: Divergent Movie poster, pin, and temporary tattoos of the faction symbols

Swag Pack 3: Divergent movie poster and temporary tattoos of the faction symbols

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Art of Lainey Review

The Art of Lainey
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is used to getting what she wants, and when her boyfriend Jason breaks up with her for no reason, what she wants is to win him back before the start of their senior year. Lainey and her friend Bianca check the interwebz for tips and tricks, but the online dating advice is all pretty lame.

Then the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. Didn't someone once say that love is a battlefield? Jason isn't going to stand a chance once Lainey and Bee go all Zhou Dynasty on him...

Old school strategy and subterfuge meet modern-day dramarama in the story of a girl who sets out to win at all costs and ends up discovering what's really worth fighting for.*
*summary from goodreads.com  


**My Review:
Lainey Mitchell is a popular, star athlete with a killer wardrobe, and the perfect boyfriend. The kind of girl I hated in high school. So when her perfect boyfriend, Jason, marches into her parents coffee shop where she works and dumps her in front of everyone, I didn't really feel sorry for Lainey. In fact I cheered a bit. But I quickly found that there was more to Lainey than just the superficial girl who scored the game winning soccer goal at state. She felt like a real person with real feelings and someone who needed help dealing with her situation. And even though her perfect boyfriend had been perfectly awful to her, Lainey wanted him back. In that moment I was instantly transported back to the time I lost my first love and my heart went out to Lainey. I felt her pain because I'd been there. In fact most people have.

Lainey being the stubborn and determined girl that she is, takes things to the next step. With the help of her friend Bianca she devises a plan to win back her boyfriend using The Art of War. Lainey decides she's going to beat Jason at his own game, and make him come crawling back to her, win him over again. Using the strategy from The Art of War Lainey strikes a deal with her mohawked, misunderstood, "bad-boy",  co-worker Micah. They pretend to date in hopes that Lainey can win back Jason and at the same time Micah can get back together with his ex-girlfriend Amber.

But Micah and Lainey couldn't be more different then each other. Different tastes in music, favorite hangouts, clothes, the list goes on and on. In fact the only thing they seem to have in common is their quick wits and knack for insulting each other sarcastically. But once they start hanging out and really getting to know each other, Lainey finds out Micah isn't who she thought he was, and Micah discovers the same thing about Lainey. The both begin to change, and start to wonder if they don't want different things than what they originally thought.

Following Lainey in her transformation was quite the journey. She wasn't always perfect, but that's one of the things I loved about her. She was human. I loved watching her find out who she really was as a person and sometimes make mistakes. I often found myself grinning at the situations Lainey found herself in. They weren't always the same situations I'd gone through as a teen, but it was so easy to relate to her.

In all the time Lainey spends with Micah, he manages to bring out a new side of her. Micah opens her eyes to a world she never thought she might like and see that things aren't always as they seem. He is kind and patient with Lainey even when she sometimes doesn't deserve it. For this reason I think he is one of my favorite male love interests that I've read. He genuinely cares about the people that enter into his life, even when there are times he probably shouldn't. And watching Lainey not only learn to love others for all their differences, but also learn to love herself was a wonderful experience.

As a scifi/fantasy geek, I'm not one who normally jumps on contemporary novels, but The Art of Lainey definitely has a soft spot in my heart now. It's a fun lighthearted story that nearly anyone can enjoy and sympathize with. 5 out of 5 stars.

The book takes place in a fictional suburb of St. Louis, kind of a mix of Hazelwood and Bridgeton where Paula grew up. She'll be stopping by the blog later this spring to talk about the specific St. Louis places that inspired her and give one lucky reader a signed copy of The Art of Lainey.
**Review based off an advanced copy generously provided by the author.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Con Fever - I Haz it

Over the last few months I've had this raging excitement growing inside me. On the outside I probably look like this:
But my insides are really doing this:
But seriously... I'm just going crazy with excitement! Why do you ask?

Well for one thing our local con is less that a month away! (And we wont even talk about the awesome that will transcend in August at Dragon Con) And the closer it gets closer to con season, more and more announcements crop up. And with the increased announcements, the more crazy awesome the con becomes. I mean I'll probably get to meet this guy:
And his buddies:













And even:
I'm going to take a minute here to catch my breath....
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Are you still with me?

**BREATHES INTO PAPER BAG**

And even better, every day the list seems to get even more awesome. But that's enough name dropping because I might explode (or implode) from all the AMAZING!

Because I really want to focus on what I'm missing most about comic con and what really has me itching to go back!

The atmosphere:

I mean the minute you see that banner you can't help but get completely giddy!

The costumes:



And the people:

I mean the whole thing is just so infectious! And I've caught it CON FEVER!

So BRING IT ON! I'M READY!

and please excuse the flailing, I really can't control myself at this point.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Celebrating 32 and so much more!

Today I turn 32. It’s not really a birthday milestone by any of the normal standards, but for me it is quite a milestone. It’s taken me thirty two years, but I’ve finally learned some important things. Many are as a result of one big thing, I’ve learned to become confident in my own skin and not worry about what other people think.

You might say big deal, but for me this really is a big deal, and let me explain why.

Growing up, I quickly learned that people can hurt you for the things they think they know about you. Whether that be something you said, did, or even something they came to their own conclusion on. So my method of dealing with this was keeping my mouth shut as much as possible. Letting things roll off. Letting people say horrible things about me and just letting it happen. I was a bystander pretending like none of this affected me. Let me tell you, even though I pretended and probably wasn’t very good at it, this all affected me very deeply.

So good, bad, or ugly, I rarely talked about myself, the things I was interested in, what was going on in my life. I hid pretty much anything other than superficial crap, because I was afraid of what people might think of me. Even worse I was afraid of what they might say and/or do to me.

I spent the better part of thirty years walking around afraid to do or say anything. Not knowing what might set people off, what might make people hate me, what might make them say nasty and horrible things to me and about me. And one day I looked up and realized I was completely miserable with my life. And the worst part, no one knew how miserable. They knew I wasn’t happy but not to what extent. No one knew that I had bottled up everything wonderful about myself, buried it in a trunk, locked it up, and threw away the key. I couldn’t be myself because what if people didn’t like me? What if what I said left me with no one? I couldn’t take that kind of rejection.

And you know what? I didn’t get any rejection, because I’d completely taken myself out of the game of life. I was getting worse than rejection from others, I was rejecting myself. And one day I looked up and wondered how I got to where I was and it seemed like an utter mystery.

And yet I had no idea how to fix it, or any idea if I even wanted to. I was perfectly content hiding from the world, and I wasn’t, all at the same time. I was a mess.

And then I started burying myself in books. Finding magical worlds I could hide in. And somewhere in that span of time, I found others who enjoyed those magical worlds too. I talked to those people, and they didn’t think I was crazy. I slowly started to open up. Let little bits of myself sneak out, but never so much that it might come back to haunt me. And never in real life, only online, with the protection of a computer screen and a million miles between me and the people inside that crazy place called the interwebs.

But this was just the beginning of my transformation. As I started to throw little bits of my real self out online, I still was very much closed off to the real world. I wasn’t ready to test it out in public. What if it backfired? I wouldn’t be able to hide what it did to me. My shell was much too thin. It would break far too easily.

With so much bottled inside, I still didn’t have an outlet for my feelings. I was buried in the pages of imaginary worlds, and between the pages of internet forums where I could only leak little pieces of myself.

And then one day I started writing. Not because it was an outlet, but because I was bored. I needed something to do, and writing worlds I could escape to seemed like a good idea. It was just messing around with names and symbolism at first, but it quickly transformed into ideas, lots of them. Crazy ones that would take over my brain and force me to put them on the page. And even though I never intended for writing to be an outlet, somehow it became exactly that. The emotions I couldn’t share with anyone else, came out in these characters that spilled onto the page.

And then something totally insane happened. I decided I needed to share my work, decided I needed to find out if I was wasting my time. See if I was onto something. And for some reason sharing my characters and their stories was a lot easier than sharing my own.

Honestly, I wanted someone to tell me I was awful, that I should give up and not even bother. That I was wasting my time. And at a time in my life when I tried more than anything to sabotage myself, I got the exact opposite. Okay well not the exact opposite, but I found a ton of encouragement. While many people in my life, my family and closest friends, had always been encouraging of what I did, this was the first time I’d gone into the world (or in this case the glorious interwebs) and gotten it from complete strangers. People didn’t jump down my throat and find things to make fun of, they built me up without even knowing it.

So I went back to the drawing board. I started to learn how to write. I took classes, I joined writing groups, and I worked toward finishing the book. I was all in. People saw my mood shifting. They saw how busy I was. They started asking what I was up to. Because I was on this new high, I told them. I’m writing a book. And the weirdest thing happened. People not only thought it was awesome, they supported me, they rooted me on. They took interest in me and started coming to me periodically to ask how things were going.

I slowly started to realize that maybe letting the world know who I really was, wasn’t such a bad thing after all. It wasn’t so bad, because not only were there people out there who cared, there were also people out there just like me. People who also enjoyed the same things I did. People that wore their nerdom proudly, like a badge of honor. And I wanted to be just like those people. So I pinned the nerd badge to my lapel and began to wear it proudly as well. And the more I did, the more people stood with me. The gravitated to my genuine sense of self.

Then this wonderful thing happened. Comic Con came to St. Louis last year. And I realized that there were proud geeks just like me that celebrated that out in public. That it was more than okay for me to do the same. I could not only be myself online, but I could be myself out in the real world. 

And even more amazing, last year at Less than Three, I found a similar experience. People just like me who were often afraid because they'd been beaten down as well. They'd been told they weren't cool and they'd shut themselves down too. And others had found ways to open back up. We all talked about how to stand up to people who beat others down, how to band together, not only to sympathize but to start making a difference. To start the seeds of change.

And in those two events I realized, I’d found my people. Found a world where it was okay to just be me. I’d arrived. And I’d found my confidence. The walls came crumbling down. I was finally me. I didn’t hold anything back. But beyond that, I stopped caring what other people thought because I knew there were people out there like me. There were people that liked me for me. And more importantly, for the first time in my life, I liked me as me.

But I didn’t stop there. Because there came a time when people started to challenge me. It was my childhood all over again. Just because I was an adult didn’t mean I was immune to bullying. It sucked. I was tired of being beat down. I was done keeping my mouth shut. Done letting things just roll off. I decided to let people know that what they were saying hurt, and it wasn’t okay. That the things they were saying did more than just hurt. They were detrimental because they were contributing to the stereotypes in the world. That what they said was preventing the world from changing and moving forward. Preventing the world from accepting others as they were. That there are infinite forms of wonderful in this world, and just because they are all different, doesn't mean one is any better or worse than another. And I wanted to help let the world know that.

Somewhere in learning to speak up for myself and others, the bad conversations began to end and the good, productive ones began. People started looking at what could change instead of who they could beat down. They stopped to think before they spoke. They wondered how the things they say might affect others. And that is a world I’m proud to live in, and a life I’m proud to have.

In all this, I’ve finally learned to be me and be happy with it. And I’m so much richer for it. So this birthday I celebrate all of that, the confidence, the ability to speak up, my nerdery, my writing, my life, and all the wonderful people in it that have been rooting me on along the way. I celebrate the person who finally found herself. Who finally came out of the shell and joined the world. I celebrate the emergence of me!