Thursday, October 3, 2013



Come on now, tell us your biggest fear.

Spill the beans, give us the goods, don't be... scared!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Recommend a Good Book

     Stephen King... is the arguably the most popular and influential author of modern times. Chances are, you have probably read one of his books or have at least seen a movie based on his work. (If you haven't, get a life already!)

*BTW fellow King fans* Dr. Sleep, Stephen King's sequel to his huge hit The Shining, is NOW AVAILABLE!!

     His books are always so original- just when you think that every plot idea has already been written about, Stephen King comes out with a new twist on subject that leaves you wondering where he comes up with all of these ideas!
     As a writer, I have often wondered  how he comes up with all of his uniquely creepy ideas...
     Does he sit in his bathtub at night with a bottle of whiskey and just daydream? Does he make a list of ideas? Does he bounce ideas off his wife, who is also a novelist? Does he write down his dreams (nightmares more likely in his case)?
     In 2000, he wrote On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, and in 2010,  he published a 10th Anniversary Edition.
      This is a great book to learn how the master author thinks about writing. It also reads like a novel (not dry at all) and talks about how he grew up and became interested in writing. I love this book and have read it several times; I highly recommend it!
     What books have you read lately that you would recommend?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Driving me CRAZY!!


So, you have to be toted around by your mom.  Ouch. Can you say, lame? And please don't tell me that you go on a dates with your mom as a chaueffer.

I remember those days! Boy it's hard to be cool and tough when you can't drive.

Getting a license is like growing wings; it enables you to get up and go! Suddenly it is fun to just DRIVE! 

"Where?" you ask.
Who cares! Let's just hit the road...
Ah, those were the days! I remember saving for two years to buy my first car. My boss was selling his SPITFIRE convertible... and I had saved enough cashola to buy it!

I wanted that car SO BADLY!! But my parents said, "NO!"
In fact, they told me I had to give the two thousand and some dollars (that I had washed dishes for 2 years to save) to them so they could buy me a SAFE car...
Of course, this, is what they bought me - with my own hard earned money!
Oh the Humanity!
A Station wagon? What were my parents thinking?
Well, I'm a parent now,  and I know exactly what they were thinking, "Dear Lord that boy is going to kill himself in that Spitfire!"
Maybe they were right- I probably would have driven too fast and who knows...
But a station wagon? Come on!!
A year or so later I bought a cool old '79 Ford 150- one of the chefs where I worked financed it for me. He even rebuilt the carborator for me (He put a few pieces in up-side-down, but I didn't hold it against him!).
I painted a skull in sunglasses smoking a cigarette on each door with smoke trailing down the side of the truck and turning into a screaming ghost!
I painted a skull and cross bones on all 4 hubcap covers...
Yes, it was hideous!
Hideously beautiful, that is!
I even wrote that truck into my novel, THE RIFT RIDERS!
Man I miss that old truck!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Roads? Where We're Going, We Don't Need Roads

I got my driver's license in high school because it was something I was supposed to do, a rite of passage. For some kids, I suppose learning to drive, earning your license, and getting your first car represented freedom, but it didn't really mean all that much to me -- there was no way I could afford to buy a car any time soon. But all my friends were getting their licenses, it was what you did when you turned 16, and it was just another test I could study for and pass. (I totally aced the written exam, by the way, because I was a complete nerd.)

My mother didn't have a driver's license, despite several attempts to pass the road test, so we didn't even have a car to practice with, or someone to teach me, and no hope of affording a car for me even if I had a license. But she didn't want me to be in the same situation as an adult (besides, being able to drive might come in handy in a zombie apocalypse, if you can find gas), so she paid for expensive driving lessons -- money we really couldn't spare.

Driving was scary, and I didn't like it. Not only was I nervous because I was responsible for not killing people with the deadly missile I was steering, but I also had to trust that no one else on the road was going to cause an accident. I'm not a very trusting sort. Driving just seemed a little too unpredictable for my taste, but I got over (most of) my fears and slowly learned how to drive.

In all honesty, I probably shouldn't have passed my road test, but the woman with the clipboard was nice, the kind you never see in the movies. And I lucked out on the parallel parking portion of the exam; it had recently snowed, so it was hard to see how far from the curb I was, or if I was even lined up with it. (Too far, and not exactly.) Good enough for government work, as they say.

So I got my license, but I had no car to drive, and I promptly went to college in New York City, where having a car is more of a burden than a benefit. I ended up living in the city for another 15 years, not driving. And anyway, even if I had access to a car, I prefer taking mass transit whenever possible, which lets me read or nap or play video games and is seemingly safer than being on the highway with other people who potentially hadn't been behind the wheel of a car since they got their license. My few attempts to drive in the past decade did not go well. (Don't worry, the only casualty was my pride.)

But here I am, living in a more suburban area of Philadelphia where a car is more necessary, but I still don't feel comfortable behind the wheel -- and I'm starting to feel kind of embarrassed about that. So I've been practicing a bit when I can, and I'm planning to take an adult driver refresher course so my license to drive doesn't become a license to kill. But for the moment, as it has been for many years, that little plastic card is just a handy form of government-issued identification.

I know plenty of people my age who don't have a driver's license, or are in the process of learning to drive, so I wonder just how important it really is to most teens. I bet it depends on where you live and whether you have the luxury of learning how to drive and owning a car. Is this rite of passage really as universal as it appears in movies and television, or are many people happy with bicycles, trains, and buses? (Strangely enough, I also didn't have a bike as a kid and didn't learn to ride until my 20s. And I can't quite swim. Really, how have I gotten by for all this time?)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Theme: License to Drive

By Julie Cross

This month, the amazing teamTEENauthor members are telling stories relating to our constitutional right to operate motor vehicles, which may vary considerably depending on the home country of the author. I'm a US resident and lived in Illinois at the time I reached driving eligible age and here it's 16. Though I turned 17 before I was able to complete my driver's ed course requirements and own a vehicle that the DMV was willing to get inside and go for a ride in.

Okay, so I'm journeying back in time....all the way back to 1997 when I got my drivers license. I had purchased (with my own money from nearly 2 years of working) a 1986 Oldsmobile for a whopping $2000. After scoring a perfect score on my road test and receiving my license, which, let me tell you, is an amazing feeling, I said goodbye to my nice friend who had driven my car to the test and I was on the road alone for the first time in my life.

Realizing I only had a quarter of a tank of gas, I pulled into the gas station and it was already dark because December in Illinois means darkness at 4:30pm. I felt like a rock star, pumping my own gas, going inside to pay, and then pulling out of the station. Well, the lights over the gas station were so bright that I forgot it was dark and turned onto a busy road will my headlines off. I literally drove about fifty feet before seeing blue and red lights flashing in my rear view mirror.

So yeah. Less than two miles into my first solo journey as a licensed driver and I was getting pulled over by a cop. My hands were shaking, I fumbled around for proof of insurance, then he knocked on the window and said, "Did you know your headlights are off and it's illegal to drive in the dark without headlights...blah, blah, blah..."

I remember slapping a palm to my face and then switching the lights on. Of course that didn't stop him from asking for my proof of insurance and license. He looked at the driver's license and then at me and said, "You just got this today?"

And I was like, "Yeah, like thirty minutes ago."

He gave me this look that said, "I can already tell you're going to be in for a lot of tickets in the future." But luckily he didn't give me a ticket, just handed back my license and told me to keep my lights on.

That's my story and I don't think I ever told my mom or any of my friends because I was so humiliated, knowing that I'd nearly gotten a ticket within an hour of exercising my right to operate a motor vehicle.

Anyone else got a good license to drive story to share in the comments section?  

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Undecided Is Okay

As soon as people find out you're going to college, they're going to ask you what your major is. Your counselor, your great-aunt, your roommate...they all want to know your plan. Maybe you do know -- and that's great. It's good to have a direction, to know exactly what you want out of life, to start off on the path to your future.

But if you don't know? The weight of that decision can paralyze you. It can suck the joy and adventure right out of what should be the biggest adventure of your life thus far.

Don't let it.

Take your time.

You'll figure it out, but first you need to figure yourself out. And the person you are when you arrive on campus as a freshman is not the person you'll be when you leave four (or five) (or six) years later.

So take your core classes. Make an effort to meet people you don't know -- on your floor, in the cafeteria, at the fitness center, at the student union or the coffeehouse or after Bio lab. Join the clubs that pique your interest even a little bit. Do whatever you can to expand your worldview, and when it comes time to register for next semester, think about what you love, and try to find classes that relate to it somehow.

I was an English major in college, but my emphasis was in secondary education. I took precisely one creative writing class the entire time. And yet...I didn't love teaching, once I had a classroom of my own. Four years after I started teaching, I quit, and I've never looked back. Teaching was practical, but it was really the stories that I loved.  In retrospect, I wish I'd been less practical -- learned another language, read more books, taken art history classes, taken that trip to England.

Time spent pursuing what you love is never wasted. The path you take to your degree and the career you're working toward might twist and turn and meander, but you'll get there eventually, and be happier for it.

There's plenty of time to decide where you want to go. Just make sure to enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

College: What is It Good For?

Eugene, circa 1999, filming the Blair Witch parody
"The Lerner Hall Project" with the Columbia
University Science Fiction Society.
Let me preface this by saying that I started college as a pre-med student and graduated with a concentration in visual arts (not even a major). I now work as a professional writer (I have a writing day job in addition to my fiction), and that visual arts degree from an Ivy League university really hasn't done me much good in my career. And twelve years out, I'm still paying those student loans...

When I think back on college, I'm grateful I had the opportunity to receive a great liberal arts education (which has definitely made me a better writer), but it isn't my time in the classrooms that most shaped the person I am today. I fondly remember the late night hours editing in the campus TV studio, hanging out with my science fiction club, debating the morals and philosophy of science fiction, and meeting lifelong friends.

I remember the many different work-study jobs I held as an undergraduate in the dining hall, in campus security, providing technical support in the communications office, managing the website for an alumni office. The things that have stuck with me are the diverse skills I picked up in all those different roles and the people I encountered; I learned how to act professionally and interact with individuals with a multitude of different viewpoints, personalities, and backgrounds. And I also learned how to fail, and I realized that giving up on one dream for another didn't mean I was giving up on myself.

For me, college was an exercise in learning what I didn't want to do just as much as what I couldn't do. I was a good student for my entire academic career, but I struggled in science and math at college. I eventually decided that I probably would never do well at them because I wasn't passionate about a career in medicine anymore — I needed to care more to work that hard for it. Instead, I had finally found an outlet for my creativity at college and discovered new interests and talents, and I wanted to develop them. I wanted to make things that would entertain and inspire others.

College is where I became more outgoing and made more of an effort to meet new people and foster stronger friendships and varied interests. I've always been a geek, but through the friends I made, and especially my girlfriend at the time, I discovered a love for foreign cinema, theater, Yiddish short stories, new music, photography, filmmaking, art, and so much more that I probably can't even trace back to those days. It also was in college that I first found out about the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and met published science fiction writers and editors for the first time — and decided that I really wanted to be a part of that community one day.

Your mileage may vary, and I don't want to tell anyone that grades don't matter (however, no one has ever asked about my GPA, and apparently even Google says that they're "worthless"), but I do think it's important to have a social life and be open to new experiences and interests. It's a cliche, but it's a cliche for a reason: College is where you can discover who you are, become someone entirely new (every week, if you like), fall in love (every week, if you like), discover new interests, make mistakes, meet people you may be close to for the rest of your life, decide what's important to your life, and prepare for living in the "real" world. And I don't regret any of it. (Except for the student loans.)

So, if you've already been to college, what do you remember most? If you are planning to go to college, what are you expecting to get from it?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

College or Bust!!!!!

                                                    Adam N. Leonard : Author and Teacher
Crazy Roommates = Hell
So I had this  roommate whose nickname was "Booger." He was a trip. He used to stay up all night playing his drum set (which was next to my bed). It was a practice set which was not as loud as regular drums- but at 3:00 in the morning I still wanted to kill him. Then, he would tape blankets over the windows and sleep all day. I'd be at my desk doing my work with a flashlight at 3:00 in the afternoon! If I turned on the light he'd swear like a drunken sailor.

He had a beer bottle collection accumulating along the top of the wardrobe units in our dorm that completely covered 2 of the 4 walls. There must have been a hundred bottles or so. I thought nothing of it until one day i noticed that all the bottles were partially full of beer... I asked him about why he was keeping half full bottles of beer. He said, " That's not beer!" 

I was stumped... He chuckled at my obvious confusion. He continued, "I hate having to run all the way down the hall when I have to go to the bathroom, so...." 

You're probably thinking I'm making all this up- nope.

And perhaps his most bizarre quirk was that when he would drag himself home baked and drunk out of his mind- fubar to the extreme- then stumble down to the men's bathroom and take a shower- with his clothes on!! No fooling! I would come back to the dorm and he would be passed out on the floor or his bed completely soaked! He said his father had done the same in his college days and he was just carrying on the tradition!!
So- choose your dorm roommate wisely- or at least fill out the future roomate questionnaire  carefully!!
-Me in my dorm room-
Party Hardy! or Hardly Party?
College, college, college... oh the memories! Lots of fun. Too much fun perhaps.

No parents to tell you to get up in the morning. No parents to tell you to go to class. No parents to tell you to do your homework! Sounds awesome, huh?

Well, it kinda is- except a lot of kids don't get up in the morning, don't go to their classes, and guess what- don't do their homework. So all that freedom can be very cool- but only if you can handle it. I saw a lot of my friends drop out of college because they were having so much fun partying, taking road trips, and drinking that they forgot why they were there in the first place. It is easy to do.

So if I could give any advice to people heading to college or those there already it would be get your work done first and remember why you are there
All work and no play makes Johnny a very dull boy!
Well, I think even if you hated high school, you'll probably like college. It is a great time in your life. A time to be on your own. A time to do well and explore the career you will pursue. A time to meet all kinds of people from many different areas with different backgrounds. So make the most of it! Have some fun while you're there but also remember why you are there! Keep your grade point average high or what's the point? The job market is tough and you won't impress anyone with a "C" average. Try new things and start over in a way- no one knows you there (or not many) and you can have a fresh start!

Oh yeah, and bring lots of novels or download some on your kindle or whatever reader you have- nothing beats bouts of loneliness or home-sickness like a good book with cool characters to keep you company!