Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Selling a romantic on a fantasy/romance novel

I'd been all kinds of up and down on my writer's blog. I don't think a lot of it is going to go on to its intended purpose, making me look bad instead of good.
This place was meant for self-promotion and all it tends to do is bring me down.

But I've got a twisted way to putting a twist on an attempt to get this story across to more people.

I have someone in mind that one day, I might send this pitch to, just to get her thoughts on the whole idea. I wrote this way back when during a time when I believed in love, wanted love and went out of my way to write about it coming true. I'd had my fair share of unrequited love in high school.

As far as Jonas is concerned, the only part of him that belonged to that unrequited love was his eyes. For maybe, let's see September to March, about 6-7 months, I sat lunch across from this guy I had the hugest crush on. He wasn't your typical guy that any girl would find herself attracted to. His kindness, I interpreted as being something else entirely. But again, in the words of Justin Long "if a guy wants a girl, he will make it happen."
"David" never made it happen. I thought there was a reason why he insisted he and his gang hung out at my lunch table. He didn't want to hurt my feelings, assuming I'd interpret them moving to another table as something to do with me. Instead, the bunch of them stuck around. I hardly got a word out, nor did I really want to. I was too preoccupied with the hilarity of boys being boys.
But with "David," his eyes stood out for me and for the longest time, they were all I could think about. I wrote dozens of poems about what I saw when I looked into them. They were a pale blue unlike anything I'd ever seen.

At the same time, I was trying to get a story together. I entertained the idea of this fantastic epic where elements like fire, lightning, wind and water had importance, where there was this ancient tale of good verus evil, where there were mystical creatures. I wanted to combine all of that into this story, but nothing quite came together.
A few elements started to make their mark on me. Things I was experiencing, things I saw. The good versus evil was something that Harry Potter was the final thing to start to impress on my head. A lot of fantasy-driven stories had that struggle because good vs. evil goes back to the very beginning of time.

Then there was the romance of it all. I didn't expect any of that to come about. I think what started to do it for me was the Miyazaki film "Spirited Away." Initially, I was pissed off that it won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture when I had seen and heard of every other nominees. I had to see what the fuss was about and perhaps wanted to disprove it was worthy of winning the prestigious award.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
That movie presented an entirely different world, something I scarcely imagine in my dizziest daydreams. A few things that hit home for me were the characters, how memorable a couple of them were. One of them turned out to be the finishing piece to the puzzle of my hero

So that afternoon after watching the movie, I wrote the prologue. An angel comes down from heaven to defeat this being of evil and the elements manifest in mythical creatures that reincarnate him into his next life. You always have to leave that pretense: in the even that evil should return.

I started to have a little something to go on after that, but I didn't plan any of it to come together the way it did. I was writing and it all happened the way that it did. Bits and pieces of details showed what was in my mind at that time. High school was a nature setting for a lot of it to take place. One of the characters, she was in my head from another show I was watching at the time. And the name Nina was just a name I loved. I didn't have much in my head except that she was the new girl, and she was blonde with brown eyes.

The last thing I thought I'd put in the story was a love story, or what would become a love story. I didn't know what Jonas was going to be like until I started writing. An undeniable impression I had in the movie was that the boy who befriends Chihiro is good, even though he has this reputation and a girl that takes her under her wing says he's bad news. I didn't doubt it for a second. Maybe it's because I'm a little too trusting of people or rely a lot on first impressions. He went out of his way to help Chihiro get into the bath house, how could he possibly be bad? As it turned out, Haku was under a spell made easier because he couldn't remember his name.

I started writing about love a year ago today. I'd been doing it ever since. Strange as it may seem, I've never been in love. Not actual love. I don't believe love is true unless it is returned and made equal between two people. When I was 13, I saw love a lot differently than I do now. A lot of other elements are in my head these days and the thing about finding a place in this world is among the biggest themes I'd worked with lately. No matter how tiring and pointless it is, it's the truth for me right now.

I drew on love from an unconventional source in a time of isolation. I was recovering from surgery and wouldn't return to school for a couple months. Not that I needed to be around people to thrive, that year I made a couple of good friends I got very close with. But the theme became that deep down, I wanted love and that love to be felt on both sides, so I wrote about having an imaginary boyfriend who loved in another world. Long story.

I used to think I needed love to feel complete, to just feel normal. If someone loved me for me, thought I was prettier than all the other girls, that justified that I was worth something to somebody. It's a complicated thing to explain when you don't have any experience with it in real life and without making it sound like you're living out a Greek tragedy. I always worry about saying the wrong thing and having someone interpret it to the point they look at me differently, as if there's something wrong with me or they don't want to provoke me.

I felt like there was something missing in my life that kept me from feeling whole. I thought that missing thing was love or having someone see me as more than I saw myself. It was often the case that the prettiest girls got the cute guys and popularity, both things that anyone would want in high school.

What began between Jonas and Nina was friendship. He chose to spend his days alone because he didn't want certain things about him becoming well known by his peers. It was easier to cut himself off from everyone else than to risk being cut off for being himself.
If whoever reads this wonders what Nina was like before Jonas... What were her hopes and dreams? What did she and her friends like to do together? I never gave full thought to putting her together as a character. She was just a person whose eyes we saw Jonas through. She saw him as being a good person that was misunderstood and there was more than meets the eye. She's good-natured and likes to believe the best in people. This is shown a little bit when she turns down a guy who expresses his interest in her because she's interested in someone else.

I didn't even imagine it becoming a love story. It was just a friendship Jonas really needed in his life. He might deny it, but for years, he'd wanted acceptence from at least one of his peers. As luck should have it, it was the new girl who could have a fresh opinion on him without being influenced by the gossip. She sticks by her convictions and beliefs. Even after hearing her new friends going on about why Jonas isn't normal, that doesn't deter her from wanting to get to know him. He did, after all, save her from a world of embarassment after she bumps into him, an incident that leaves her temporarily blind and uncoordinated.

When it comes to love, it's always going to be the thing I dream about having come true, something to strive for. But these days, I don't care whether or not I find it right away. I just don't want it to be in control of my life. I don't want to feel like I did in high school, that I needed a boyfriend's acceptence for me to be cool with myself.

The love that blossoms between Nina and Jonas is like this. He has been alone for a long time, never felt he needed anybody. But when he meets Nina, so much changes in him. He feels more confident with his peers, able to make friends and relate to people more than he ever had. With that confidence, he starts to rediscover his past life, a destiny he must fulfill later on in the story. Nina knows that Jonas is extraordinary and begins to discover why she got that vibe from him. In Nina, he finds acceptence, someone he considers his equal and someone he would give his life for. A little melodramatic for a 14-year old boy, but what the hell, it's a fantasy/romance... I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

But what does she get out of his friendship? It's hard to really say at this point. I never really thought about it. She gets the satisfication about helping someone overcome their hindrances, their fears. She knows he has a lot to offer and wants him to feel free to live the life he wants to.
In a twisted sort of way, his story is something like my own, but I didn't go to such extremes to avoid people the way he did. All it takes is the trust and friendship of another person and so many doors can open.

I'm not sure if this came out right, but that's somewhat of the angle I was going for.

As far as the idea of the relationship goes, my mind is dwelling on unknown territory these days, having more to do with what happens behind closed bedroom doors. It took me a long time, but my 25-year old mind started to get curious. I don't think I'd be comfortable with anyone seeing what I'd written about THAT yet, but it isn't super obscene or profane to that extreme, promise.
But with love, I see it as one person meeting another and they recognize a piece of themselves in that other person. They were a complete person before them, but after they meet, they can't imagine being apart, as if something inside clicked. As if you were put on this earth specifically for that other person. And certainly I don't believe love is something you need to have in your life to fill a hole within yourself. If you go into things with that in mind, you're going to end up getting hurt. You have love yourself first before you can let anyone else in.

My story kinda disproves that case, but whatever, my characters in high school, real-life details don't apply.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sparks fly whenever you smile, Taylor Swift

Last night was interesting to say the least. I went upstairs after watching the Giants beat the Cowboys in stunning fashion. Watched some animé and wrote 2 sentences for my story that I'll either call "Back to December" or "Blue Christmas." I've been adding a chapter every day this month until Saturday night when I was simply too tired (and then some thanks to a Christmas party we were at) I could have stayed up for ages working the next chapter when mentally, I wasn't up for it.

I like to believe sometimes that things happen for a reason and wouldn't break the same way if even the slightest detail changed.

I'm a big dreamer and that is also relevant to nighttime in dreamland. I write the more intriguing dreams down, the ones that beg for interpretation. But I have an entire document devoted to celebrity encounters. They got so frequent with specific individuals that they all have their own sections (roman numerals).
Although "encounters" might be too broad a denomination, I'm not always in these dreams.

The best of them come out of nowhere, are unexpected (well that's kinda the same thing really), and to the last detail, they are finite and so realistic that it felt like it was actually happening to me.

To the best of my knowledge, as it's been at least a good 2-3 hours since I woke up from the dream, this is a recollection of it. I figured it needed a blogger's touch and a lot more room to spin the yarn than just my Facebook status.

"Sparks fly whenever you smile, [Taylor Swift]."

I'm going with my mom and a couple relatives to a mall. They're holding auditions for The X-Factor and we wanted to come watch. We go into this large room. When you first enter, you see rows and rows of chairs for the people waiting. At the front of the these chairs is a table lined against the way with doors behind it, which I suspect go backstage or into individual dressing rooms. I believe I got wind that Taylor Swift was going to be there and that's why I came. No sign of her as of yet.
Little by little, rows of people are called a bit at a time to audition. I think the tables in the front are for registeration. After they're told to go, they go to the other end of the room, which is south-east from the waiting chairs (facing forward).

[already, I already kinda know that some things aren't exactly in order as they should be. First of all, who goes to X-factor auditions just to watch?]
I'm not sure why I was there, really. I was asked once or twice by people near me and my folks if I wanted to audition for the groups category. A bundle of nerves, I decide not to audition, but all the while, I keep telling myself, even demanding to myself that there's nothing to be nervous about, I don't need to be nervous.

[also wanted to clarify... these are "X-Factor" auditions? They look like American Idol auditions where they are doing the pre-lims... you know, like how they weed out people to see who's good enough (or bad enough) to make the live shows... and with "X-Factor", auditions are in a huge arena with a stage & audience.]
Most likely, there are at least 4-5 stands/set-ups for people to sing to judges before they're allowed to continue with the auditon process.

I'm not sure how much time passes, but I believe it's 2-3 hours later.

Flash-foward, we're in the parking lot, heading back to the car. I say aloud that I didn't get a chance to see Taylor . Someone in our party then asks if I want to go back to see if I can catch a glimpse of her. I agree and we start to rush back

[again, I kinda wonder why Taylor was there in the first place. Was she a guest judge, was she performing or just around the area?]

We go back to first room. Everyone's packing it in, a lot of the chairs are gone and the only people around are the stage crew. I take a deep breath and head to the registeration table. I don't know what came over me. My mind thought that this was something that could work very well. It happens in all the movies, moments like these.

I go see the people by the table. They all look at me, maybe 2-3 people. Then I start singing in an almost flawless imitation of Taylor Swift's song "Sparks Fly" which I had actually recorded myself singing to post on YouTube. I go through the first verse, everyone's looking my way, almost in shock. I think they think I sound really good or a lot like her. [I think earlier on in the dream, I was thinking about maybe an audition song, should I ever get the guts to try out for the shows in real life... although I consider Maroon 5 and that I sing to blend in to the records, this is the song I ended up picking]

As the chorus starts to kick in, a door behind the tables open. Taylor Swift emerges with her hair straightened, in civvy-like clothes. They're sweats, definitely not what she would wear onstage for her concerts. She's holding a few items, books.
She turns my way as I start singing "cuz I see sparks fly whenever you smile." I point at her on "you" and make my hands form a heart the way she often does in her shows (something she frequently does along with writing 13 on her hand every night). I change the one lyric from "green eyes" to her "blue eyes."

She smiles back at me, almost overcome with happiness and before I can finish that line, she throws her arms around me and I have to stop singing.
I believe she said that she was really touched by what I sang to her.

[but seriously, it was like something out of a movie. I start singing and that gets her attention and she emerges out of nowhere just to hear me sing... and to think, this would have been like several dreams before this where I'm elsewhere and don't return to the scene to see the celebrity I know is hovering around my subconscious... this time, I turn back and it pays off BIG time]

I ask her to sign an autograph, but it takes a while to find a random piece of paper. Then I ask to have a few pictures. She poses, but for whatever reason, she's kinda goofing around a bit and they don't come out very still or very clear. I ask my mom to take a picture of the two of us and all of these mascots come out of nowhere (kinda similar to the mascots from the KIA commericals, she called them in) and I don't think any of the pictures come out.

I think this is definitely something I could write a short story about to really give this the extra oomph that it needs. But all I can just say is WOW...

and all those interested, here's the YouTube video of me singing that song that I posted a good 2-3 monthsa go. It isn't the greatest rendition, but whatever. It seemed like a good idea at the time

the funniest thing is that I had this dream that day before her birthday... which is December 13th. I didn't even realize/remember that right away until I looked on my Facebook newsfeed this morning

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I want to "marry the night"

To subsidize lyrics from Lady Gaga, one of my many mentors and influences,

I want to marry the night
don't wanna give up on my life

I want to marry the night
I don't wanna cry anymore
leave nothing on these streets to explore

In an recent interview, she told Katie Couric that her song (and subject of her latest music video) is about giving herself entirely to her music, making it the number 1 thing in her life.

I wish nothing more right now than to bring forth advice handed down to the troubled students of Room 203 by Erin Gruwell (played by Hilary Swank in "Freedom Writers")...

every voice that says that 'you can't' is silenced

I wish I could silence all the voices of doubt in my head and the seeds planted by the people whose opinions I heed most of all.

I didn't grow up in a troubled household, troubled neighborhood. I have a lot of things others don't have. Someone once misinterprted me when I said that stories/movies about teachers influencing their students are something I get warm & fuzzy about, that I relate to...
they said that I don't need to be inspired because I sent a little time painting myself as "the golden child" in my household

Fine, that was my mistake to undermine my situation. I've said that being the oldest and showing that I can do great things if I put my mind to it, there's more pressure on me than my younger sister. It infuriates me that she isn't pushed nearly as much as I am to succeed.
I spent the first couple years of my education in special ed. I progressed, found my way out of it, and since then, I'd been mainstreamed into regular classes with everyone else.

There's pressure on me because I succeeded in college and brought home a B.S. degree with a 3.76 grade point average.
I am only as good as my grades. School is where I thrive, but in the real world, I never had a clue as to what my goals were, my lot in life. These are all things that I'd doubted, thought about over this year long period of unemployment

It really sucks feeling like you don't belong anywhere because nobody wants to hire you, no position caters to your skill-set (which isn't much more than the fact I know a lot about a variety of subjects, I'm good at math and I can write exceedingly well).
Whatever is out there, I have no experience to get into much of anything. And anything that doesn't require experience, I don't have the skill-set for. I don't have great conversation skills, I don't want to have to be phony in showing how pleasureable I am because who wants a reserved person serving them in the real world. The fact I have a college degree has a lot of people turning me down without so much as a phone call to say I'm not what they're looking for.

Writing was the only thing I'd really wanted to do, that I felt I could excel in since I was maybe 17... whenever I started writing original stories.
But as much as my family is in my corner, supports what I do and appreciates what I do in my writing, when it comes to going beyond the walls of my bedroom, it's all about what I can't do. I know my limitations in the real world because, let's face it, I'm not a great conversationalist. When my parents talk about me and occasionally show me off to their friends 'my daughter the marine biologist, the college graduate,' it makes me sick because that's not all that I am.

Again and again, I have been oppressed into believing I can't do what I love to do. 'There's no money in it.' Now, given my position, living at home and all that, that's not the big issue at the moment... but right now, all I really need is just to be given a chance to succeed doing what I love.
I need to somehow start forming connections in the writers' community. People to look at what I've written over the years and tell me what works and what doesn't. A second opinion is something I never really got from anyone with any pull in that area. And I know it's competitive. All of the agents that have rejected me tell me that in their rejection letters "as you are probably aware, this industry is very competitive."

It makes me really want to pull off some obscene gesture to show my disgust and that's not my personality at all. I'm not very argumentative and I try to avoid confrontation when at at all possible. Unless I'm writing my statement, I can't argue my way out of a paper bag. I fall apart because I'm just so overwhelmed by the opposition.

I want nothing more than for those voices of 'I can't' to be silenced. I want nothing more than my family to support my writing and actually going out of their way to say that I like to write and I write very well. Enough of being introduced as the college graduate or the marine biologist. I was told that I had to go to college to give myself a chance in this crazy world.
I was told to major in a scientific displicine because that's where the money is, that's where job security is. I was literally disbarred from even considering a creative writing major. It'd be the equalivant of "throwing my life away" in my parents' eyes. I know that's what they think even though they haven't exactly said those words.

My greatest fear at the moment is that... even if someone I applied to takes notice and gives me a paycheck on a regular basis, that's not going to be enough for me. I'm never going to be happy unless I'm doing what I love.
It sounds like a cop-out or that I'm crying out for help by saying this... but today of all days, my mind is getting into a pretty dark place. It's not exactly to the point of Martin Riggs from "Lethal Weapon," but I'm getting highly doubtful about my ability to succeed in the real world. I visit this place once every couple months. Ironically, this might be as a result of the winter/Christmas blues... the feelings are more intense this time of year for a reason. What's keeping me relatively sane is immersing myself in non-reality, bits and pieces of pop culture.

It's even stranger saying that Robert Downey Jr., perhaps not the greatest role model in the world given his rocky past, is both the reason I'm keeping sane and why I've been confronting my doubts on a regular basis. He got honest about himself and reached out to the point where it allowed him to heal and become the rare Hollywood success story that he is now.
More and more, I've embraced Lady Gaga as a life coach, mentor and role model. Her "Born this way" album has a couple of songs that I could identity with where they speak of creeds I could live by.

I should be happy with myself because I was "born this way."
I just want to be free, I just want to be me... I don't wanna change, I don't wanna be ashamed ("Hair")

a lot of her songs on this album, she wrote for her little monsters, a little something to give them strength because their support has given her strength

I know what I am through my writing. My characters occasionally get the opportunity to showcase my insecurities, my doubts. In times of trial, they question if they have skill or the power to accomplish their goals, which often includes keeping a loved one safe. However cliché that might be, it works for me.

I would write about this, about my non-activity, my non-believing in myself, but I wouldn't even know where to start.

As hard as it might be to believe, it's true:

I'm straight, I'm white, I have a great family that is comfortable in the middle-class and a lot of their resources have gone into my education, I'm a college graduate.

Even though I have all of that going for me, I'm still unhappy with myself and my situation.
It is possible to have everything and nothing at the same time.

I don't have to write it down a million times for me to truly believe that what I want more this year for Christmas is self-confidence, self-assurance and support from more people who are in a position to help me achieve goals. If not that, then people who have my back and help me towards a brighter future.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What am I fit for... what's to become of me

Musical buffs will recognize the former as Eliza Doolittle's plea to Mr. Higgins the night after the Imperial Ball. "I sold flowers, I didn't sell myself. Now that you've made a lady out of me, I'm not fit to sell anything else."

I guess it's fair to say that this speech is something that I can very much relate to.
:sigh: as much as I hate to say it, I don't think my college education really taught me much of anything. Sure, I know how much I hate Physics, Calculus or pretty much any close where there isn't careful supervision so the students can actually absorb what they were learning. I was lucky to know what the heck was on the tests of Physics I... I mean the problems were nothing like the ones we were taught in class and a take-home exam more less became openbook... I mean, who the hell is going to know but you that you looked in the book for answers

Even then, the book wasn't very helpful. The principles were the same, but the application of them made me feel like my brain was being twisted into shapes it was not meant to.

I almost can't believe that I managed to make a good connection to how I'm currently feeling. But that's definitely a good example about how I feel sometimes.

I've got the following problem of life in front of me:
I have a B.S. degree in Marine Science. When it comes to tests and schoolwork, I excel. I feel like that was where I really was in the zone... that was where I was meant to be. Because the learning is always a turn-on when you understand what's what... and not to be vain, that was one of the few times/places where I felt superior to a lot of other people because I got higher grades than most people I know.
The unfortunate thing is that even though a good friend of mine, who is going to graduate in a few weeks as a marine bio student on the 5-year plan (actually, I think he's been going to my school for 6 years. Fall 2006, nope, 5 years, I was right). I might have gotten better grades than him in all our classes in school, but he is going to be a greater success playing the game of life than I ever will.

For every flaw that he has, procrastination and tardyness, he has an attribute that I'd kill to have. The most crucial being the ability to meet a person and know their life's story within the first 10 minutes of meeting them. He has that effect on people that makes them feel at ease, with me in particular, but that started to dissolve as soon as my overcomplicating mind screwed things up... I dreamt about kissing him so I automatically assume that it means that we would end up together some odd year.
One too many dreams later, and except for that one, I never wrote any of the others down, I screwed things up where he called me out on it... told me to back off a bit and stop sharing so much, lol

He's a good spirited person so he didn't take it too personally. I only hope that he and his current girlfriend (who's part of the reason he put his nose to the grindstone and graduated at last) stay together a while and are very happy. If anyone deserves to be treated right in that regard, he does.

Next piece to the puzzle:
I'd been out of work for over a year. My degree got me a position in a microbiology lab. Roughly a year and three months into it, my character flaws caught up with me. Perfection was such a huge thing at that facility that there was no place for someone like me.

My degree was more or less to get me into the front door in the sciences industry. It has done very little to do that. A master's degree, however, would do so, but I'm nowhere near being able to try grad school. Sure, I'm great in the classroom and everything, but it's a lot more complicated than that.
Sure, there's the large thesis I have to write and defend... but what the hell am I going to study? I don't know what my interests are in that field and even if I did, they probably wouldn't be within my grasp. You try being a Marine Biology student who lives in Pennsylvania. Sure, we have a shorehouse, but even then, nobody on the east coast within distance wants anything to do with me because I'm lacking in experience.

My god, my insecurities are mounting right now. I have so many that I can barely count them. The economy has sucked for a while, but all that is available, aside from the science jobs I'm not qualified for, it's narrowed down a few categories, none of which I have a foot to stand on.
Construction, where I'm not physically fit, strong or good with my hands (other than typing and keyboards of course).
Secretary, which I've considered, but then there's the aspect of having GOOD communication skills.
Wait staff, where I'd have to have an A-type personality, be able to interact with people 24/7 (or however long my shift is)

My greatest faults lay in communciation. I am nowhere near close to being excellent in that area. The best way I can communicate what I want to say is by typing, which really does help compensate for my inability to think on my feet.
I'm also not good with projects with multiple steps that carry on for a couple of days... that's what got me into trouble at the lab a couple of times. But things got really complicated and I was asked to excel in way too many areas. Those people must be goddam robots to get through the workload without breaking a sweat.

I'm not a great people person. I don't bend that way at all. Every single position that's out there seems to require that I keep a good attitude, keep upbeat and more or less have a smile plastered on my face. My god, that's so phony. Holden Caulfield is probably the only person that agrees with me on that. My default personality is very cool, chill, not stirring anything up or calling attention to myself. I really do hate the idea of putting on an act for people just so they feel easier around me. I'm not about to change what my personality is just to suit everybody else's needs.
I'd seen this question a couple of times on your run-of-the-mill employment application questionaire: how do you rate yourself on talking to people you don't know... I even put down a 5 and they never called me back.

My god... why do people have to be such social creatures all the time? I get along by myself just fine and if I had to endure my entire life that way, I wouldn't mind it at at all. But seriously, I feel like I need to act for people all the time just so they don't think I'm not normal. I know I'm not normal and in most cases, I take pride in my differences.
People mistake my reserved nature for shyness so much that it "kills me" (another Caulfield-ism)... the way I am with people, I listen first and add my own 2 cents to the conversation later on. I don't like to interrupt a conversation in progress, a) because I'd gotten slighted in my family for speaking out of turn, and b) I'd hate to stop a person who was on a roll.
When I speak something that needs to be communicated, I keep talking until I run out of air so nobody else can get a word on... then I let them speak, and so on. When I'm really flustered about something, I shut down, blocking off all communication until I sort things out in my head. I was given criticism in what would be a last-chance meeting... all the main people at the lab telling me where I need to work on things, I said that I was starting to get things sorted out and the HR guy didn't quite believe me. They probably thought I didn't have any fight in me. I'd gone through this a million times in my head and other places. If I really got passionate about this or that, I wouldn't be able to control my emotions. Would they prefer I made a scene, crying my eyes out being unable to communciate anything, or that I be passive about it and swear to do better

Honest to god, I tried... but they asked me to take on way more than I could handle one fateful/fatal Saturday...

Teamwork is where I'm lacking a lot. I don't let people in on my mistakes until it's too late or way after the fact... or I just plain get caught. I guess my friend and I both have issue for procrastination, just in different areas. The worst of it was that I was told I wasn't a team player cuz whenever I finished my workload, I took on other tasks before helping anyone out.
And I did work on that a bit. I lent my assistance, but seriously, in most cases, they'd do a better job without me than with me hindering them with my speed, which had gotten better over the years. But really, c'mon... what was wrong with taking care of the other tasks because ultimately they were one less thing to do at the end of the day, what's the big deal about that

I'm not good with people, I'm not good with telephones. I'm pretty much raised on typing and email. I have trouble communicating my feelings to people or just about anything in general. That's why I took up typing so much. So I wouldn't have to annoy people with whatever it was I was talking about.
And really, I don't have much of anything to say in the first place. I don't need to add anything to a conversation I know nothing about.

Writing has been my saviour for the past year and a half... whenever I'm done and out about something, I write about it. Sometimes in periods of crisis, I write down my feelings on my blogs and working through them in my typing helps me feel better. I think I would have gone insane if not otherwise.

Yet sometimes I think that I'm so abnormal that I do need to change... but I've never been comfortable with change.
A couple of my friends have pushed me in a direction I'm not entirely cool with. Putting myself out there is a terrifying notion because I don't know what I have within me to instill in other people. Whatever I do have is either pop culture-related, which is something my MARS buddy isn't really knowledgeable on... I believe there are tons of people just like him in that respect... or they're my stories... where I can't really communicate a lot of the time what it's about. I'd had to be longwinded about something almost as much as I hate the idea that nobody will get me.
Everything that's left is the really difficult stuff... the political stuff... I'm just getting used to the idea of communicating my thoughts on gay rights. Ever since hearing about that "pray the gay away" program that Michelle Bachmann's husband stands behind and one particular case where the person considered suicide because the problem didn't work... I'd become very passionate in my own way about the LGBT crowd having as much right to the pursuit of happiness as any of us do.

I'm not very argumentative and sometimes I really wish I were... but when it comes to politics, religion or, hell, even football, I could not win an argument to save my life. There's no way in hell I'd be persuasive enough in my argument where the person would at least accept my position as a possibility. I don't ask them to change their mind because its rare I can manage that much... I just ask that they acknowledge I feel differently about them on a certain subject.

Writing is all that I'm really good at, all that really want to do, but it's a difficult business to break into from every possible angle. Sure, it'd be easier if I wasn't writing fiction. Non-fiction people get published all the time, but what would I have to write about aside from maybe more pop culture or about my college years.

I just feel that there aren't enough places in the world for people like me to make a life for themselves. People who aren't comfortable with one-on-one interactions with other people. People that aren't particularly gifted mechanically or with their hands (aside from the typing, again).
I have a brilliant mind, sure, but that's all I can really contribute to society. It has to be through my typing, the only way I know how to communicate much of anything.

Christmas is coming within 26 days and while I'm thinking that maybe this year I'll skip watching "A Christmas Story"... because seriously, it feels like I had just been to watch it a couple months ago... and it's been 365-25 days since the last time... for the past 6-7 years, I'd watched it every Christmas eve so I don't have to worry about missing it during Christmas day while with family...
...I'm also thinking about what I truly want for Christmas this year.  And I'm talking about the abstract here... if there was one thing I wanted from the magical spirit of Christmas, it would be... whoa, this is a tough one

Unconditional confidence in who I am and what I'm capable of.
I would like for people to really know me, that the person who manages to communicate so well through typed word is the same person they see every day... I'd like for people to know me as a writer and to refer to me as such instead of just a college graduate... so far, that degree has done nothing for me but keep me from being considered for a lot of basic positions, which I believe are the only things I think I'm capable of doing. The only door it got me through, that was all that it was for. My inexperience with personal interaction caught up with me.

I just hate the idea of people telling me I have to do this or that in order to achieve much of anything. How many people have written 6-7, maybe 10 stories from start to finish... very few people I know have been able to do anything like that. I'd like those skills to not go to waste and even better that they help me make money.
When it comes to putting myself out there, I'm not like a lot of other people. I have difficulty taking direction when it sounds like an order. I feel like I need a safety net, people not looking at me and thinking that I'm out of my mind because I think differently than most. Instead, I'd like to be told... how can you put a twist on "getting out there, out of your shell" into something that sounds positive...

God, that makes me sound so fragile and skin deep, I believe I am very fragile when it comes to situations I'm new to.

Truth of the matter, I know that deep down I have what they call the strength from within... It worms its way into my stories all the time, but if there were a way to bring that to the table in real life situations... that would be something I'd love to be able to succeed in accomplishing

and for once, I start writing an entry on this blog and manage to carry it all the way through so I can click "publish post"... at least that's something I've accomplished

Right now, I know of one thing that I've become accomplished at doing... when it comes to my favorite music, sometimes favorite albums, I get visual and even cinematic at points. So far I'd begun to piece together a conceptual video for Taylor Swift's "Enchanted," a few storyline ideas to put together somewhat of a musical out of Maroon 5's music over three albums (to be titled "Songs about Jane"), and I'd just about come to the end to a sequel I wrote to my Prince-inspired story... which was initally started from a trip into fantasyland after hearing one song from his Planet Earth album

Monday, November 21, 2011

Open forum for "weekend" discussion

I swear, I had been SO bad with not keeping up to date with this blog. Even worse, not keeping up with editing. I've been stuck in the midst of it for ages. Chapter 3 took a really long time because a lot goes down. Later on, it might possibly get chopped up into a couple pieces because it runs long.

It starts with a journal entry, Nina explaining what happened that day and of course my leading man is the only thing on her mind. I made a note of writing that she's awestruck that the cheerleading crowd took her in right away, plus the fact she hadn't tried for cheerleading before. Well, it is the start of high school and cheerleading isn't exactly huge in grades 6 through 9.
I didn't really hash out her character too much because, being a little biased, I wanted to develop my leading man a lot more. Plus it makes it a little more convenient for my target audience to think of her as them and they could make her into anything they want. There's the little crux of being stuck between working to make sure any "Twi-haters" read it and put her in the same category as Bella Swan and just not worrying about that at all.

That's what that one writer's digest articles said: don't worry about what the people say, just work on the writing part of it and the rest will fall into place. Some will fall in love, some won't, it's the way of things. Plus if I make too many assumptions, that's where people are going to go automatically and say "well now that you mention it, there is a lot of similarities... blah blah... you totally copied"

Chapter 3 is broken down into a couple different scenes that I'll mark with bullet points:
  • Nina's journal: what happened on Thursday, September 13th
  • popular girls ask Nina about Jonas and what happened between them the other day
  • Nina and Jonas talk at lunch
  • Jonas meets Nina at her house after school
  • Nina's parents ask her about Jonas and insist she invite him and his family over for dinner
I could just as easily split the chapter in half... the first half being at school and the second half being at her house, two different settings/scenes.

Nina and Jonas spend the entire weekend in each other's company. It serves a few purposes and sure, a few people might not be interested in me hashing out my characters here.

Here are the things I've established so far, excluding the whole origin story. Unfortunately, I've got this sinking feeling that my future editor will tell me to just limit the prologue to a paragraph or two since it detracts from the rest of the story. Plus there's the fact that maybe someone will read it, not know its an origin story or they'll be disappointed that the following chapters aren't anything like what I illustrated initially.
  1. Nina arrives in rural North Carolina with her parents
  2. A voice in the wind warns her of an incoming thunderstorm and she obeys, though very curious about it
  3. A group of future cheerleaders welcome Nina into their group immediately, all very welcoming and Nina is awestruck by their generosity... though its established early on that Mai has a "gossip girl" mentality, knows everything about everyone 
  4. Nina runs into Jonas, rendering her nearly blind & helpless. There's a chemistry between them that she can't quite explain
  5. Mai tells Nina that Jonas is extremely mysterious, keeps to himself and whatever she learns, she reports to anyone who will listen.
  6. Nina sees Jonas alone, and they establish that they'd like to be friends
  7. Jonas reveals to Nina why he spends so much time alone, why he's so different
  8. Nina's parents want to meet Jonas and his family as they're their only neighbors
One day I ought to make a sketch of the area in which they all live and put it in one of my blog posts... it's a very isolated set-up I have, which assists Jonas in his loneliness a great deal.

I highlight Nina's parents a tiny bit in the first couple chapters. Her dad is a meteorlogist, a little scientific, but otherwise easy-going. Her mom is a bit of a worrier, I'd written a couple passages where she sees Nina off before she walks to school and that she isn't sure whether she's set to go the following day... after the whole lunch room incident.

I never really took the time to highlight Mai's friends before. They're just kind of there to assert her place and popularity, but I never really gave them personality before. Plus after a while when Jonas & Nina get more serious and they decide to clue Mai (and her future boyfriend Corey) in on a few things, they kind of disappear. They don't serve nearly as great a purpose later on, although I might be able to work something in later on.
In the latest draft, I labeled Marcie as "second in command," giving her more dialogue. She's the most awestruck about Jonas because she's turned on by his mysterious persona. She has dark hair that's shoulder length with stunningly dark blue eyes (similar to Eric's, in fact) that sparkle when she's intrigued/interested. When it came to Rachel, (by the way, all three girls names were completely random, the first ones that popped into my head), recently I was thinking about the character "Rocket" that Jena Malone plays in "Suckerpunch"... that whole look with the short pixie cut and her disposition is just as sugary sweet. Maybe I ought to give her more lines. Bonnie has platinum blonde hair that is a little longer than Rachel's and otherwise I haven't fully given her a personality yet... just that she falls in line with Rachel and Marcie, on the same wavelength if you will.

Mai was more than slightly influenced by Mai Valentine of "Yu-Gi-Oh!" fame... that was a big huge animé series for me at the given time. She rubbed off very much so on the project, but she fit in perfectly into the high school I created. She has an affinity for the color and otherwise they have the same appearance. Just as Mai Valentine softened over the course of the first season of the series, my character did the same and she actually plays an integral role later on.
Actually, with Mai, her physical appearance is almost a deliberate steal from the show, but as a character, she serves the purpose that Lin does in "Spirited Away" (the final puzzle piece to the creation of this story in the first place, a crucial missing element to Jonas's characterization... huh, I really ought to be thinking more about rewatching this movie if I want to get back on track with this, but I'd been putting that off for quite a while).. Lin doesn't like Haku much at all because he's the main hunchman of the witch that runs the bath house. Also says that he disappears sometimes, which became a key element to Jonas. Although his absences weren't expliciably noticeable as Edward Cullen in my story... the entire time, if he's missing out from school, Nina knows exactly where he is and she's a nervous wreck about it

Jonas is established as a character in a multitude of ways, but with the majority of the story being from how Nina sees things, minus the 1st person POV. At first, it's just how he takes care of her in an accident where he places more of the blame on himself even though she caused it. Then it's heresay between Nina and her new group of friends, which separates it into two schools of thought. Mai, who cannot understand him and is dying to answer so many unanswered questions, and everyone else who just swoons whenever she talks about him. "They tend to romanticize his isolation more than I do."

According to one of my creative writing texts, characters are set up by four different methods. What they do, how they think of themselves, how the narrator talks about them, and how other characters talk about them. Some methods are deemed more reliable than others. All characters have biases, especially when it comes to themselves.
Jonas is somewhat flawed (as some mysterious male protagonists are) in the fact he doesn't see himself very clearly. There is more there than he is willing to admit.

Like I kinda expressed earlier, like a few entries earlier, I may have put the nail in the coffin by sending conflicting messages. Is Jonas cool with himself or not? He's wary of Mai getting a hold of any new, juicy gossip, but in another draft earlier on, he says not to let Mai dictate your opinion about him...
Can he be wary of her getting something she can use against him or is he to the point where he could care less... it's more or less a game to him that she assumes this or that and is completely wrong (which I have dictated in dialogue), but the back of my mind worries if he's a little too much like Edward in that fashion... he makes assumptions all the time because he can read minds, thinks that Nina's human friends are mad at him for stealng her away, etc. etc.

I don't think he really notices or cares what the human race thinks of him in general... but how much does Jonas care what others think of him... I have yet to fully figure that out. I don't believe he cares either way, but I'm not positive.
Sheesh, this is embarassing. I created him and I still don't know the answer to that question.

A few more things I'm not entirely positive about. Some in part might be due to the fact I'm experiencing a temporary high regarding a few "casting" choices...
Zooey Deschanel seems to fit my physical description of Marcie as far as the eyes and hair color goes. Her stunning blue eyes are very dreamy in their expression, though I don't think Marcie is entirely as quirky as Jess is (via the FOX comedy "New Girl")

I've been trying to figure out for years what actress or celebrity I thought Nina liked like. I have one sketch that did several Christmases ago, maybe a year or two after her initial creation.
But the more I started to think about it and consider my options... I decided in the beginning, going YEARS upon years back, that if I saw someone that fit the descrption, I would know right away. I would like to dismiss this on the fact I simply cannot get enough of Taylor Swift today, but I thought of her in Nina's place, saying her lines. Omg, with shorter, strengthed hair and bangs, Taylor would be absolutely perfect to play the role.

She's a romantic at heart so she'd probably understand the story from that position extremely well. And I am just starting to work out what I see whenever I hear the song "Enchanted." In the long run after hashing out the initial set up, the "screenplay" of it, I could rewrite the 9th grade dance scene to this song instead of what I'd had in mind for years. It just would make a whole lot more sense than Madonna's conceivably racy (for 9th grade anyway) "Dress you up"
the choreography for that is still very fresh in my mind, even after 8 years.

I think the only stipulation is that Taylor has beautiful blue eyes and Nina has hazel eyes. But then again, I could always overlook that one detail. If there's one detail that cannot be worked around, it's Jonas's eyes. They are an essentially key element to who he is... after all, the guy that I was extremely into at the time had thosek the only stipulation is that Taylor has beautiful blue eyes and Nina has hazel eyes. But then again, I could always overlook that one detail. If there's one detail that cannot be worked around, it's Jonas's eyes. They are an essentially key element to who he is... after all, the guy that I was extremely into at the time had those same eyes that I could disappear into for several minutes.

So far, I hadn't been able to get to that actual discussion at hand.
Chapter 4 is Saturday, September 15th. We're left off with the following facts:
  1. Nina is astounded by Jonas
  2. Jonas is astounded by Nina, enough so that he feels free to reveal to her just the kind of person he is and why he keeps away from people.
  3. Jonas invites Nina to spend the day with him tomorrow
  4. Nina's parents suggest to her to suggest to him that they have dinner tomorrow night
Chapter 4, I've retitled as "Iguanas & Horses." The entire chapter revolves around that Saturday, while Chapter 5 is essentially the dinner in which Nina's parents get to meet Jonas and his guardian and vice versa

Several characters are introduced, starting with Jonas's "uncle" (for all intensive purposes) Peter Bronson. Strangely, "I am number four" comes to mind with that scenario, but it involves the most literal sense of a guardian. I had only seen the movie once. Alex Pettyfer plays "number four," one of 9 humanoid aliens that are the last of their race. Another race wants to destroy them as they are the only ones standing between them and universal destruction. There is a charm in place that the aliens must be killed in numerical order and we enter the story after Number 3 got killed. Each of the 9 were assigned a guardian and Timothy Olymphant (I believe that's his name, I might have it confused with someone else's) plays the guardian to Alex Pettyfer's character, but to all outsiders, he is known as his uncle.

Jonas puts on a brave face in school. Despite all the rumors floating around about him, he is self-conscious about very few things. Aside from not wanting it to get out that he is psychic (or else everyone else would be afraid of him and/or bullying could escalate beyond the regular rumors), he doesn't want it to leak out that he has no family and Peter agreed to play the part as his "uncle" to make things easier for him to endure.

Peter Bronson is about 55 years of age, maybe a little older. His face is full of facial hair, 'stache, beard and all, that's graying a bit, but otherwise a dark brown (not black, dark brown). He's the intellecutal type, a soon-to-be retiring biology teacher at one of the private schools. He wears spectacles. Not glasses, spectacles. He's not super strict, but his personal values, I guess I could say, are very British in nature, but without the accent.
Nina doesn't say it aloud, but she shows some concern that a lackluster upbringing might be the reason for Jonas isolating himself on purpose, in addition to the whole psychic thing. One of her intial questions, which I believe I deleted this past draft, is if his uncle is nice and treats him well.

I went back to the previous chapter in case there were a few things, details I wanted to change. I cut out some commentary from Jonas about Mai so I could leave the rest to the element of surprise... i.e. when Jonas tells Mai to stop telling rumors about him on Monday.

At school, he shows a little bit of nervousness regarding nobody over hearing their conversation. He's more capable of being himself, being open about his emotions when he's alone with Nina. He gets braver around everyone else as things progress. That's the best I can decide at the given time, but at least it's something.

Jonas acknowledges some other insecurities about his muddled past, specifically the non-existence/mystery of his parents and their disappearance. He's leery of it getting out that Peter isn't related to him, but he also doesn't want to take Peter's last name because they aren't related. i.e. he's self-conscious that he doesn't know what his last name is.

Jonas introduces Nina to his two iguanas, Sparky and Scorch and their different personalities. Scorch is the nastier of the two with somewhat of a biting history. Sparky is the opposite, although he does have a scar that he doesn't like to be touched. I haven't fully explained that or if it even has a purpose. I could take that detail out completely if I don't think of something.

Then there are his three horses, Windy, Rain and Thunder. Their physical appearances come first, but their personalities are filled in as time progresses. Rain and Thunder appear close as far as chemistry goes, subtle suggestion. Then with Windy, on Sunday when they go down to the lake, she throws Jonas off her back into Spring Lake as a joke. She's very exuberant, if not coy and flirtatous around Jonas. Think Artemis, but with Apollo's mindset... but on a monogamous setting. Or maybe that's just Aphrodite, but without the lustful/forbidden side of love she represents.

Nina makes her mom's suggestion and both parties agree to come over that very night for dinner. Jonas is equally cool with it. While he's off getting into his riding outfit, Peter tells Nina how pleased he is that Jonas made a friend. "He's a brilliant young man, but I sometimes think he's on his own too much." He shows some concern about his lack of social life, but because Jonas keeps up with his homework and everything, he doesn't have the heart to try to change his ways. All he can do is accept Jonas for who he is and accomodate him when accomadation is needed, particularly later on when Nina witnesses the reason Jonas misses school periodically during the rainy season. Peter more or less accepts the fact that Jonas is a target for lightning strikes and as it hadn't killed him in the 40 something incidents over the course of his life, he remains concerned but it's up in arms about the whole thing.

All of the parents in the following chapter, the dinner scene, exhibit equal concerns about Jonas. Particularly Nina's mom and Peter. Nina takes pity on Jonas and agrees to help him to a certain degree. She merely makes suggestions and as he trusts her a great deal, he takes her advice to heart. And in the case of Corey, it most definitely pays off.

Jonas spends most of Saturday talking about his horses and on Sunday, Nina talks a little about her friends, spending part of the day writing a letter to mail back to Youngstown, Ohio. It's a very short chapter or so it will be. I added little ish about a red-tailed hawk and Jonas discovers a bunch of dead squirrels in the forest, as if foreshadowing that the hawk wanted him to get to the apple trees before they did...
there really is no huge point to all that, so when I go over it, I'm going to take a lot away. The only really crucial detail, I think, is that Windy throws Jonas off his back (character development) and Nina writes the letter (giving a little information into her past, before the big move).

And for those who are curious, my imagining of Jonas looks a little something like this. Or so that's how he looks when he's in the form he took in his previous life, as Jonaseriah.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why is it so important for me to see Jonas's story published?

I suppose this is the question I might be asked a bunch of times in the upcoming years. I made this year THE year when I made the new year's resolution to get published... and so far, I have little to show for it except for an email folder full of rejections as well as queries I have yet to hear back about.

The most precise bit of criticism I got was my most recent response from a new agent. "It didn't hook me enough to want to read more." That is, of course, from my previous draft. I have been stuck in neutral going past chapter 3, which I had most recently finished. There are a couple reasons for it. Lack of interest and motivation for sure, that's always my greatest enemy. This year, I think I was emailing queries for a couple days solid the first week... let it go for a while... went to revise some more... started to email more a couple months later... still nothing... one or two rejections later, I kept going.
The most recent push I had was the news that "The Help" had gotten rejected 60 times. Which gives me a lot of hope. I think I am up to my 10th rejection, maybe 15th... it's hard to really say.

My family is wary of my future, as am I. As much as I hated the lab I worked at [some days], my termination over a year ago derailed somewhat of a life's plan I had. It was very tiny and open for change, obviously. I'd work there, no matter how much I hated it, for three years to at least establish my amount of experience. During that time, I could determine what I wanted to study in grad school.

I have yet to find the answer to that question. My biggest fear is my degree being completely wasted because the only thing it did was buy me time... time I needed to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm grown up (at least physically, mentally, not entirely yet) without a single clue. Every now and then, when I'm not busy wasting time elsewhere, I worry about that.

The other greatest brick wall I have yet to climb over ties in a bit to Jonas and why his story is so important for me to iron out the details so at least, I feel comfortable enough where I believe anyone would be interested in the story. All that I require is the chance to succeed.

One person who read my story inferred that I hide my true self from society the way Jonas had, that connection. I'm certainly not going to argue that point. It's the truth. I'm more myself when I'm writing than when I'm in conversation.

Jonas has a severe case of social anxiety, which makes my situation look like child's play. But because I am evaluating myself here, the horrible truth of it makes me feel a lot worse. Perhaps inherited from his previous life, Jonas has a few psychic abilities. The tamest, the easiest for him to control is his mind-reading capabilities, which only require direct contact with another being. But when he gets overwhelmed, either by crowd noise or as is the case later on with Eric, confrontation, he subconsciously uses his telekinetic ability. It forms a barrier to protect him and anyone within a foot of him is shoved away. I've yet to decide where the last ability will get its say or I'll just leave it in the cutting room; its another method of self-preservation-- Jonas is able to erase the memory of any unusual incident that was out of his control.

In the last case of that last, I could just as easily change it. It seems a little too convenient that Jonas had erase memories. To borrow from a psychological principle, those who are closest to Jonas when whatever happens (with a few exceptions: Johnny, who was directly involved, and Mai, who for whatever reason is more observant than everyone else... it's part of her gossip-loving personality) repress the incident because it was so terrifying. People involved in dramatic accidents like car crashes experience that all the time.

I'm very self-conscious a lot of the time of letting people know too much about me. I think that they're just not going to get me. I have a tendency to repeat myself a lot when it comes to things I'm passionate about and I want to cut down on that act of annoyance. "Socially conscious" is how I'm going to describe. When it comes to putting myself out there, interacting with people I don't know, I feel like I get panic attacks real easy. Once I get used to a situation or it goes away, I can relax, but beforehand, I have a very strong "fight/flight" instinct because of the adrenaline.
A couple of my friends, those whose opinions I really trust, have told me that I need to put myself out there more as if they're giving me a direct order. No fault on either of them, I completely agree. But I feel like I can't be told directly how to live my life... not so much that I need to be taken by the hand and escorted directly, but I don't go into situations thinking along the lines of most other people.

I'm 25 now and haven't lived a whole lot of life except for 4 years of college. My being socially conscious at this point is a problem. My mindset is in 90% of cases that the moment I try to put myself out there, I expect to be turned away, turned down or otherwise told that I can't. I'd encountered that problem throughout my schooling to the point I couldn't directly engage in group activities unless I was put in a group by the teacher or I happened to know those people really well. In most cases, I felt like a minority as in everyone else in the room was popular, had popular friends, that didn't associate with people like me.

People like me who don't know what their calling in life is. Writing is the closest thing I have to that. It certainly has helped me find a method of self-expression. It takes me a lot longer to think through what I say aloud whereas with typing, whatever I'm thinking is directly communicated to my fingertips. The fear of what I'm saying or wanting to say isn't interesting enough for the other people in the room prompts me to think through what I want to say and delegating opportunities for me to speak my mind. I listen first and bring my thoughts into conversation second. People often mistake that for shyness.
The true issue lies in the fact I'm not sure who I am in a lot of cases. I know my interests are highly associated with pop culture, sci-fi/paranormal/fantasy, music, football and a few other random things. But I'm not sure until the conversation starts going where I figure into things. So, in fear of sounding like a complete idiot for being completely random about a topic, I wait for my opportunity.

Okay, so now I'd completely lost myself in my own issues where Jonas is the one I'd come here to talk about.

He's lucky because he has a destiny all laid out for him. It's just a matter of timing and discovering that he has the power to achieve what he needs to achieve. Looking back, I'd say that Jonas seems very comfortable living life the way he does, doesn't believe anything is wrong with being alone. At the same time, though, he feels free to discuss all of this with Nina, as if she's the one person who can understand. Her being his soul mate is the only way I can explain.
Would it be too much of a stress for Jonas to answer Nina's obvious question of "why tell me all this?" with: "I have this strong feeling that maybe we met before... in another life"
Not so much to make it sound like she isn't interested, she is in AWE of him. I would very much like to give little opportunity for anyone to believe he is picking her out specifically to spill his guts to for other reasons. And I'd very much like for it not to sound like he's creepy about it either. Supposing he was 25 and she was 14, then that'd be different
(although I do explore something like that in another story entirely... Tricia finds herself in a relationship with someone who had only visited her in the night... he is in fact the ghost of her boyfriend... the car accident that killed him drove her to amnesia so her long term memory is limited to the past 4 years of her life... doesn't remember life before, when he was part of it)

Now I'd just completely lost my train of thought...

I'm still waiting for my opportunity to succeed in life, professionally being the #1 priority. Not knowing what I want to do has left me in a crux I'd been unable to escape for over a year: I'm unqualified for or nowhere near anything my degree could get me into and I'm overqualified from the random retail positions that are the only things local and that I could possibly get into. I also came to the fact that I don't think I'm good for anything else but a cashier. People who know me would say that I have a greater skill level than that, but I seem to have developed this phobia of any position where I'm expected to take on several different tasks so the entire thing isn't routine. I have considered being slightest autistic because of this; but I prefer routine things, or else I have this blatant fear that if I leave the routine, at some point I am bound to fail for too many reasons to name.

I have been REALLY bad with run-on sentences today; my apologies.

Writing is everything to me, so why not make it my career? The pay isn't great, for starters, but at this point, I'll take any paycheck I can manage. That was the main reason my folks have tried to talk me out of it as a career for years; unless its non-fiction, there's no money in it. In other words, only the rare cases involve writers living comfortably because they were on numerous "best seller" lists.

The writing industry is pretty competitive, always has been. But those who are highly famous now have been where I have been... where people have said and will say that nobody is going to want to read whatever it is I'm writing.

I read a bit in my particular genre: sci-fi/fantasy, but as my blog's title implies, the romantasy genre is my niche (i.e. romantic fantasy... and depending on the case, could extend to paranormal romance). And I don't believe that anyone has hit where I've been hitting with my work. I talk of this one story in particular. Part of me, I guess, is also afraid to read any other stories about angels. I believe there are a couple books circulating about that. I don't want to get pulled in that direction, be tempted to write along the same lines as someone else. I also think my work will explicitly pale in comparison to what they had done.
I'm already up in arms enough about making sure that Jonas doesn't sound anything like Edward Cullen. As beloved as Twilight is by the Twi-hards (me being one of them), the genre is also loathed by as many people. Jonas won't get taken seriously if people for a minute believe he's anything like Edward.

Jonas is different in several ways. His destiny for starters: in his past life, he was an angel that could manipulate nature's elements and used them as allies to crush an evil sorcerer. He is blissfully unaware of his destiny in his current life. I don't believe reincarnation has been approached yet. His allies are pegasuses and dragons, also something that hasn't quite been done yet.

If Jonas's story gets published and established a decent following, I'm willing to bet that a lot of people like me, who feels like they aren't accepted, aren't appreciated by their peers, will be inspired by the story. They'll see that the shyest teenage boy imaginable can turn his world around simply by being given the opportunity succeed. And more importantly, finds the person who believes in them enough that in return, they feel that they're capable of more than they realized.

Aside from the prologue, which I believe has gotten really good story-wise and imagery-wise, it takes a while for people to appreciate what's going on in the story. I believe them not getting hooked right away is the greatest liability I have. But I simply can't have everything happening all at once. Jonas is established as being mysterious and otherwise, little is known about him by the people who's gone to school with him for years. Only when he's alone with Nina can he really shine, he can be open about himself.

I'm also under the impression that for a while, Jonas may fall into the pitfall of being "an inactive protagonist." For years, he has been very inactive in his life... it just passes him by with him in loneliness. Aside from when he's with his animal companions, he really isn't living at all. Meeting Nina starts to bring it out of him and I'm hoping that her being "active" for him will keep readers' interests for a while until Jonas can start coming into his own.

I'm half tempted to go on the writer's digest forum, which I occasionally frequent, and ask if my premise is interesting to ANYONE. I'm really afraid that nobody's going to get what I've written, or at least nobody that's in a position to elevate it to the next level... publication is what I'm looking for. I really don't care at the moment about it being a best seller on the NY Times or whatever the hell else they have as far as lists go.

I get a regular weekly newsletter from the magazine's website, which almost always has an interesting article that I keep in mind. The one I got yesterday, or rather last night, helped me put the brakes on that idea. It's called "Your job is to write, not worry," and it discussed not worrying about the naysayers or giving criticism to yourself. Then I read something I had forgotten in the past couple months: the idea is to find the one agent/publisher who gets it and they'll help take care of the rest. Because I don't know heads or tails about the publishing business, as in how books get published where they end up in bookstores, I need an agent to really get me there. Plus, all of the possible publishing houses that cater to my genre won't take anyone who isn't represented by someone in the business.

There are a lot of issues I have with forums, just as many as reasons why I like to use them. They get your thoughts out there for other people to read. That alone should be initiative enough. But its very democractic. I'm so wrapped up in my own little world, my writing, all about me. The only way you really get noticed is by giving feedback first... therefore people are more likely to respond to you. Writers, I believe in general to be very selfish creatures. I know I am one of them. My usual run-of-the-mill trip is that I put a topic or thread out there, it gets a few replies and it stops there. Everyone loses interest and keeps going on with their lives. For a person who is extremely reserved in reality, my greatest fault is that I'm very self-involved and heck with it... I hate having to compete with everyone else.

The HarperCollins Teen forum was very much like that. You have to give feedback for people to notice you. Then you have to hope people are reading your story, respond to it and supposedly only the top 5 get published evey month. There is a plethora of new books and new writers, so I could be on there for years and not get the essential reads.

The "giving in order to receieve" ground rule really does annoy me because I'm extremely impatient. I want to hear feedback right away, I want to hear people say they loved my work, but half the time, I don't get a lot of compliments. I consider myself lucky if anyone reads it all the way through. That's the greatest issue, and by romantasy standards, my works aren't even that long. The first Harry Potter book is about 300 pages and Twilight is about 500-600. Jonas has gotten as long as maybe 130 pages at some point, not nearly novel-length by most standards.

I shouldn't be worried that nobody will "get" Jonas, but that's what I do constantly. Everytime I send a query and don't hear back, I think that I'm not good enough for even a reply.
Another problem I end to have is that I'm always in the editing bay, always changing this or that because one person said it didn't work. The way I see it, I'm going to be stuck there forever.

Even more so, I worry that people are going to read it and not see the story the way I do. They're going to read it and not understand any of it. I label the first "chapter" (websites don't understand the world prologue) and I'd gotten the comment once or twice that it took someone a few pages to realize the first chapter was an origin story... because I open right into the present with Nina come Chapter 1.

I could discuss my story on the forums and in person all the time and I anticipiate get looks that literally say "WTF is this about"... it sounds like something out of a child's daydream.

My pitch needs a little finesse, I agree.
For the record, my folder has 7 rejections in it, out of 11 queries... and I believe I had receieved 3 others in another time, but at least I got rejection replies.

How does this sound, really:
"Eons ago, the elements of nature existed in harmony until an evil sorcerer arrived, taking control of fire and lightning, intent on shaping the world in his own image. Jonaseriah is an pure-hearted angel summoned to battle the sorcerer and defeat him. He triumphs, but the battle evitabley costs him his life.

Nina is a ordinary girl who arrives in a new place, anticipating a lot of new experiences. She's a city girl who's always dreamt about moving to the country with fresh air and wide-open spaces [or so that's become more of a part of her character to actually give her sufficient character]. She hears a voice in the wind that warns her of an incoming thunderstorm and she heeds his warning, all the while fascinated by the turn of events.
When she starts at a new school, she is immediately accepted into a small group of future cheerleaders, who believe she could be a great athlete for their cause. [why am I getting the "Bring it on" vibe here, lol]. Then she bumps into someone in such a sudden fashion that she's temporarily deprived of her sight and balance. Its revealed that his name is Jonas and he is notoriously the most quiet person in the school; nobody knows anything about him.
For a reason neither of them can explain, Jonas trust Nina more than any other person he'd come across in his life, so much so that he has no problem divulging his secrets to her. These secrets include his psychic abilities that have kept him away from people for years (which he fears will reveal him to be a freak), he lives alone with a man who poses as his uncle but they aren't even related (his parents disappeared as mysterious as he arrived on his guardian's doorstep) and his only companions are three horses and two iguanas. At the same time, Nina is inamered/fascinated by Jonas and can't quite figure out what it is about him that she's so drawn to.

As the school year goes on, Nina helps Jonas make friends and become more comfortable in his own skin. They even participate in a contest where Mai has to choose between two guys that are more than eager to go out with the soon-to-be head cheerleader of the junior variesty squad, but find themselves leaning towards one candidate in particular. Nina discovers that Jonas was the voice in the wind, Jonas discovers his past life and both of them realize that his horses were the pegasuses that served him in a previous life. His iguanas happen to be the two dragons, one of which is still loyal to his master, Jonaseriah's sworn enemy.

Jonas embraces his destiny without a second thought, but comes to realize how much he cares for Nina. In the end, she could be the one thing he cannot afford to lose, now that his past has returned to him. [Consequently, she is the reason he discovers and is able to embrace his destiny: she is his soulmate, which explains the initial attraction between them]"

hmm... maybe I should post that on the forum and see what the comments are... maybe people will ask what they're most curious to know. It couldn't hurt.

I think the worst part of the pitching process is that there's always a word limit... I HATE word limits, cannot even comprehend them. I'm likely I have an ample Twitter update every couple weeks, that's how bad I am with summarizing. There is simply so much to say that I hate to limit myself a number of words (or worse, characters).

That's also why its hard to explain my story in person. There is just too much to say/sum up to keep anyone attention for more than a minute or two.

What makes Jonas so special and important? I guess I could at least manage a short list about that:
  • How many angels do you read about, particularly those who are reincarnated?
  • The realm of his origin story has gotten quite fantastic, even though it's devestated by the time he arrives
  • His allys (allies?) are pegasues and dragons that represent the elements of nature
  • Coincidentally, Nina is as fascinated by Jonas as Jonas is comfortable with being himself around her, though neither of them can quite explain why. There's something deeper there than just the inital attraction (hopefully, my words will help reflect that)
  • It's not highlighted a great deal, but Jonas was really a victim of bullying. People talk behind his back about him, wondering why he spends so much time alone (nobody moreso than Mai, who clearly has a printing press in her basement, lol, or else she wouldn't get the facility funding to print gossip columns every once in a while... man, if I'm really to make an impact on this, I should attempt to at least cultivate a few example articles... although it might be best if that's in "deleted scenes," it'd take away from the flow of the story)... ultimately with the confidence he gains from spending a weekend with Nina, he is finally able to tell Mai to get off it and he's had enough (I could also spend time on this blog going into what that conversation would be like)
What I really ought to do, just to signify the differences, is show how Jonas is like with Nina, very comfortable with himself. But then when he's around other people, especially at school, he should be less sure, more nervous. He has the calm demeanor unless it comes to direct interaction, in which cases, he works to not hyperventilate... in the later chapters as I revise them in this new way (which hopefully I will pick up soon), that's something I should certainly make a note of attempting.

Maybe another great message of the story is how finding love and acceptence, even if its only with one person, can make a world of difference.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Defining character interaction [Jonas & Mai]

In the words of Sherlock Holmes, "there's nothing more elusive than an obvious fact."

As I mentioned in my previous post, it became glaringly obvious that I never quite defined the relationship between two of my characters, Mai & Jonas.

Him being the subject of all her rumors, most of which have no real truth to them. In a number of years, she still hadn't gotten close. Also the fact that she knows something about everyone in the school, being the gossip queen and all that, but she knows nothing about him. He defies convenient and anything normal.

Then on the other hand: Her being the only person that really pays attention to his actions.

The truth is that except for maybe initially, the entire student body really didn't care about what Mai says about him. The first time he was a subject of disparity in the school paper was the only time. Their amusement over that lasted only a day. I only addressed this in the sequel and wrote a little narrative that Jonas gives Ceceila about his life before Nina turned everything around.

“Yeah,” he shrugged, “middle school was a bit different. It was bigger with new faces, but I didn’t speak to anyone. I was afraid for anyone to find out about my psychic tendencies. I didn’t see Mai until later in my year of 8th grade. I don’t know what happened between then and the hug we shared at graduation, but she changed somehow. She got more confident as well as more popular. We’d exchange a few glances in the halls, so it was clear we were still kinda friends, although we never acknowledged our friendship publicly.
The last few months of that year were when things settled into the world I knew in freshman year of high school. Everyone seemed to be whispering about me and I didn’t know why. I went through those months dazed and confused, as my lightning attacks were becoming a monthly ordeal. Mai had been noticing my monthly absences as well. Towards the end of the school year, the last edition of the school newspaper was out and everyone was reading it. As I walked through the halls, everyone was reading the paper and sneaking looks at me. I didn’t know why, so I picked up an issue. She wrote a column all about me, or at least what she thought about me. She actually had the nerve to write that she thought that I ‘wasn’t human’ since I didn’t socialize with other people and she made up some story behind why I disappeared at sometime during the month. I didn’t get to confront her about it until the first day of freshman year in high school.”
“When did you meet Nina?”
“I met her the day after that. When Mai saw me, I just glared at her; clearly she got the message. Things took off for me when I met Nina and that ends that part of my life’s story.”
“My gosh, I can’t believe Mai would do something like that. How’d you two become friends in the first place?”
“Mostly because Nina and Mai became friends. She stood up for me, which made Mai apologize. Things happened that year that would change who was I as a person, but that’s a story for another day.” He smiled at her, but she just stared at him.
He clarified, “Cecelia, Mai and I hit our rough patches, but she really means well. After Nina got to her, she’s changed her ways and now, we’re pretty close. I mean, we’d have to be for her to be in my inner circle.”

It was all very vague, not really well defined.
I think in part because Mai always kinda knew something was off and different about Jonas, but not sure what. She has a vague recollection of the incident to set his isolation into motion, but she doesn't remember that he had that panic attack that resulted in a fit of telekinesis he couldn't control.

Only because they know her, the other three cheerleaders Nina befriends, Rachel, Bonnie and Marcie are among the few people that pay attention to Jonas. All of them romanticize the whole 'mysterious' persona he puts on and don't really care as much that he confounds their friend/leader.
A few characters I introduce later on are also somewhat aware of Jonas... Mai might have brought him up once or twice when she was going out with them. Corey and Eric, who along with 3 other guys, form a garage band called Fire-Proof. The backstory between the three of them goes that each of them had dated before, but afterwards, Mai decided she wasn't interested. She'd gone out with Corey in 8th grade and Eric at the 'start of the year' dance that year in 9th grade.

Well, actually, I backtracked just in case. It would seem that Mai went out with both guys at the beginning of the year. She took Corey to the dance and Eric might have asked her out either before or after, but was turned down.  A little side-story generates out of that.
Not only does Nina convince Mai to stop writing rumors about Jonas, but together, they convince her to give Eric & Corey another chance.

It's kind of strange: this feeling I got.
I've been all for making sure that Nina & Jonas have this wonderful love story behind them, but as I've come to find in the later drafts, I want to spend more time working on my other characters. My favorite couple is very well defined as a couple and as individuals... for the most part. I already discussed somewhat why Nina isn't entirely as defined as she could be. But in the most recent set of revisions, I wanted to make certain to note that she has somewhat of a life outside of Jonas and their relationship. Ala, Mai and her "boyfriend" problem... I wrote another chapter where Mai is unsure which guy to pick, during which Nina seems to be pushing her in Corey's direction.

She pegs him as a good judge of character and suggested that he and Jonas be friends because he could use a guy friend too. Opposed to Eric, who had tried to ask Nina out and came on too strong, seeing as Jonas was laid up at the time. She meets him the day after the latest incident where Jonas gets struck by lightning.

Then of course, I ended up pegging Eric as somewhat of a villian later on... I felt so guilty about having him be the bad guy that I gave him a 2nd life in the sequel... where he unwittingly falls for Jonas's twin sister. At the end of it, it's revealed that Eric was actually Jonas's friend Johnny... the one who was the receipent of the 2nd grade panic attack and transferred to get away from him.

And before anyone says anything, I came up with the names Corey & Eric by sheer coincidence. I didn't watch "Boy Meets World" until reruns, long after I had finished the story. In essence, the two guys are kind of like brothers until everything blows up in smoke. Mai having to pick one over the other.

I have those two well defined as well.
Right now, I really want nothing more than to work on the high school scenes and just leave the characterization of Jonas & Nina's relationship for another time.

I looked over the conversation briefly and I had a serious lapse in judgement. I was talking about cheerleading try-outs being in October. I've written that it's September... let's see... 17th, a Monday. I gotta fix something somewhere. I had written that Nina was invited to practice different moves with Mai & the others at the park, something she never got around to. Her first day bumping into Jonas and being in a coma for a couple hours... and the 2nd day when she goes back home and ends up meeting up with him at her place.

I'll have to length the conversation a little bit, but here, it becomes very clear that Jonas had had enough of the rumors about him. He's very cold and unfeeling about it.
I ought to have Nina taking note later of her having no idea how much he had been hurting over it. Then he can make a comeback like "I was putting on a brave face for you. I didn't want to turn you against your friend."

I gotta watch where I go with it, though, because I could very well turn it into being too much. Either with Nina coming off overprotective, Jonas being too composed about it. Gotta make sure I hit just the right groove. There's a delicate balance between maintaining truthfulness and overstating things.

I guess the disparity comes from me not wanting to define things too much where not much is left to the imagination.
But I'd also like people to read along the same lines that I do when it comes to this story.

Then again, if publishing it is what's at stake, I need to learn to let go just a little bit.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Character-Character relationship yet to be defined

You would think; 8 years spent getting the same story perfect, you'd have a handle on how certain characters relate to each other.

My central relationship: Nina & Jonas is easy.
She's somewhat enchanted by him, wants to know more about him.
He's somewhat enchanted by her, and for the first time in his life, wants to know more about someone else, lowering all his safeguards it makes getting him one step closer.

There's a magnetism between them that develops very early on. I have yet to address this in the story. There's one loose end that's always kind of been there... the two collide in the cafeteria, rendering Nina blind and otherwise incapacitated, unable to stand on her own two feet. I finally came up with a reason for this occurrence. It just simply happens and is never mentioned again, because obviously, Nina recovers quickly. The next time she wakes up, everything's back to normal.

It's very much implied that Jonas isn't your run-of-the-mill definition of normal. He has abilities that he either takes pride in or fears. I've defined his psychic powers being from two schools of thought. One is the mind-reading thing, but it requires direct contact with a person. Jonas comes in contact with Nina's forehead a couple of times, during which he intercepts one thought in her mind.
At the nurse's office, he just gets her name and generates an air of calm that eases her transition into unconsciousness, a place she was already heading when everything came down.
The second time is after they have a simple conversation at lunch where he doesn't give too much away about himself... being a little self-conscious about what could be overheard. Here, he intercepts her location, her house being on the other side of the forest where he happens to live. Ironically, I've had Nina mention a couple of times her desire to go into the forest, which definitely looks enchanted. I mean, there are fireflies that make it look like something out of a dream. Truth of the matter is that the enchanted entity is on the other side of the woods.

Quite obviously, Jonas is the voice in the wind that Nina heard her first day at her new home, but he isn't entirely aware of this power. He does it unconsciously a couple of times during storms, but has no recollection of anything afterwards. I think this power more or less comes from him being a reincarnated angel, but that's the only power that he really has that relates during to that fact.

As far as the collision goes (and by using the word "collided," I might have to listen to Howie Day's song called "Collide" to see if the lyrics have any relevence to this), it comes about like this.
Jonas is in the lunch line for whatever reason (I thought he was a brown-bag-it kind of guy but for some reason, he's there that day). Nina is rushing through the doors as soon as she sees her friends, wanting to join them as soon as she came. Sensing something like a disruption in the air, a new presence he hadn't felt anything like before. He slowly turns and sees her mere seconds before she bumps into him, landing on the ground while he's just a little shaken up. In the collision, I believe what happens is that his usual psychic defenses came about at the last second to react directly to this. Somewhat of a barrier surrounds him, causing her to bounce off him. In addition, when they come into direct contact (I entail later, as two halves of the same soul), an unknown entity they both have come into contact with one another and the sensation is so powerful that it rends her in the state she's in. Jonas, meanwhile, having had these powers his whole life isn't affected by it at all. He only knows that a) he has to help no matter what it takes, beliving her state is directly because his abilities got out of control again, and b) there is something about her that he has a good feeling about, feels a connection with her.

Aside from the rich blonde hair (shoulder length complete with bangs) and hazel eyes, I didn't really give much definition to Nina. She's very innocent, very pure of heart (well, duh... two halves of the same soul, meaning she has some of that sacred element "pure heart" that Jonas has possessed the entirety of his soul's existence). As curious as she is, she's respectful of others privacy, lets people be themselves and is determined to form her own opinions. This is why she waves off Mai's concerns about Jonas, not thinking that he's anything like what she says. But of course, part of that is due to chivarly, the fact Jonas took his time to help her even when she annotated the incident being her fault.
In essence, both parties are guilty: she wasn't watching where she was going and his abilities rendered her in the state she was in.

As the story goes on, Nina remains very accepting and accomodating of Jonas. Except for maybe one scene, which I may or may not see to erase... there isn't any major need for Jonas to encounter one more accident which results in temporary deafness. Although it does play a small part in bits and pieces later...
there's a scene where Nina is helping their friend Corey write a song and Jonas feels left out of the process because he can't hear what's going on... almost believing there's something going on between the two, which is somewhat ridiculous. As the song is for Mai, the dream girl who happens to be very popular

Nina and Jonas have a defined relationship that includes a sense of selflessness between the two.

Jonas and Mai, on the other hand, is something I have yet to really bring a solid definition to.
And primarily, the undefined factor that's driving me a little crazy is how Jonas feels about Mai. Does he resent her? Does he entertain her notions despite how wrong she is? I've contradicted myself a couple of times in the chapter I just finished.
When Jonas is talking to Nina, he is very wary of the people on the other side of the table. He believes they're going to get a piece of information about him that they're going to use in the wrong way. Anything little bit of information gathered about him, he knows is going to circulate among the student boy. For the longest time, though, there have been few rumors really addressed in the school paper.
Which kinda doesn't make sense in the first place. It has to be student-run or else the gossip columns Mai writes wouldn't make the paper. An academic advisor would veto it right away, saying it's either a violation of privacy or it's plain mean.

In the sequel I wrote of the story where Jonas finds out that he has a twin sister and is unknowingly ushering her around the school as part of a program with the homeless shelter where a group of teenagers integrate into the school system for a semester, living with host families and such. It's part of his senior project. One of the new friends he makes is a girl named Raquel, who he eventually feels comfortable enough around to allow her into his "inner circle." That's a term I use to describe the group of people Jonas trusts enough to let in on all of his secrets.
He tells Raquel and her sister (on that note, it's pretty ridiculous that he doesn't figure out until several chapters later that she is his sister... I guess my narrative needs to be ironed out a bit) about how he came to be the way he is. Here, I wrote a backstory for him that takes place after the groundbreaking incident.

The incident being that in 2nd grade, the only time in his life before Nina when he had a best friend, ongoing conversation overwhelmed him. In that instance, he erects a barrier around himself, forcing everyone within a foot of him away from him as a matter of self-defense, only he has no control over it. As a result, Johnny seeks to transfer to another school and ironically, Mai is the only person who remembers the incident. As a saving grace, I gave Jonas an additional ability to erase memories as if things didn't happen that gave him away.
Instead, I might consider doing away with that and in its place, I'll just say that the times he lost control were so frightening that through the convenience of repression, everyone who isn't a main character doesn't have any recollection of it. It's either instantaneous or after they sleep that night. This occurs on the last day of school as well, which gives ample time for everyone to forget that it had occured. But when it comes to Mai, for whatever reason, she remembers everything and if not, she knows deep down that Jonas isn't normal.
This goes on for a couple of years. Jonas refuses to seek consuel in his peers, doesn't talk to anyone, but all the while, Mai tries to get a word out of him. At first asking if he was proud of himself because Johnny transferred after the incident... they talk a couple of times throughout the year and by the end of grade school, they make peace.

Jonas doesn't see Mai again until 8th grade, after which she went through a drastic transformation. I assume part of it has to do with coming of age. She was always pretty, but overnight, she apparently became movie star beautiful. I don't really impress on this fact, but part of that is due to her now being a C or D-cup opposed to being nonexistence in that region. Popularity found her and maybe after prodding from her friends, she starts to generate her theories about him. This results in a couple of columns in the school newspaper. Afterwards, people are turning heads when he walks by and in finding out what Mai had done, he's very upset with her.

So really, Jonas should be very wary of Mai instead of what he does with Nina, dismissing her caressly, being amazed by her theories. In the length of time between the two incidents, it doesn't seem possible for Jonas to be so forgiving, so at ease with saying this or that about her. I wrote that in 8th grade, he found out she was generating the rumors and Nina arrives in 9th grade.

Is it really possible to be wary of a person and at the same time, dismissing their opinion matters to them?
I'll post a couple of examples of things the two have said about each other and if anyone feels like commenting, they can be the judge.

Mai on Jonas:

“Yeah, but I can’t help thinking there’s something… strange about him. I ask around all the time and report to my girls however little I find out. They tend to romanticize his isolation more than I do.”
“His actions yesterday weren’t his usual M.O. He usually goes out of his way to avoid being in contact with people…”

“He’s got a way of disappearing sometimes. During the rainy season, he will sometimes be gone for days at a time. Then he comes back and the teachers don’t ask about it. I think he’s hiding something and they’re all in on it.”

Jonas on Mai:

His eyes shifted towards the other end of the table for a millisecond. “I see you met Mai, our resident gossip queen. I assume she already told you a great deal about me.” He softly grinned. His tone was very casual.

As she spoke, his eyes flickered towards Mai again. He responded with a disbelieving chortle, “Would you mind if I explained myself later? I’d feel a more comfortable without all of these people watching us.”

[quick side-note: when they're alone, Jonas reveals to Nina that he has some psychic abilities. He is so at ease with her that he lets her in on this secret, but he had to show her rather than tell her. But it's important to note here that he only reveals it when they're alone because he doesn't want that detail to be overheard and taken the wrong way]

As if sensing the tension in the atmosphere, Jonas changed the subject. “Mai will be eating this up on Monday after you tell her all the details.”
            Nina couldn’t help noticing the grin he wore. She bit her lip. “I don’t have to discuss this with her if you don’t want me to.”
            “No, it’s fine. I know you have become really good friends with her and her group. I’d been meaning to set her straight about a few things.”
            “Doesn’t the fact I’m here suggest that maybe I don’t care about what she says about you?”
            “Yes, and I appreciate the support.” He braced Nina’s shoulders. “But the rumors need to stop. I’d been taking this for a few years and have just about had enough.” He quickly added, “It isn’t like she’s getting any closer to finding explanations for my stranger habits.”

“I’d never been so sure of anything in my life.” She paused, “well, until today when I was positive that you were a good person. Mai seemed pretty intent on convincing me otherwise.”
            “She’s always been that way. Being on the school paper inflated her ego. Apparently, she’s under the impression that people should listen to her.” He pondered, “As far as I know, she’s the only person who has some recollection of what happened to Johnny. He transferred to another school district as soon as he could, didn’t want much to do with me.”
            “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to go back there.”
            “No, it’s fine. I never discussed my past with anyone before, so it’ll get easier if I do it enough. You’re a good listener.”

Well... on the other hand, it sounds like he's very cool with talking about Mai the way he does. He dismisses the fact that her rumors matter to him, but if you read between the lines, perhaps there you can gather that he's putting on a brave front when he's a little bitter about the whole thing.
There's going to be a scene in a couple chapters (chapter 7, I believe... let's see... Chapter 4 is Saturday, Nina meets Jonas's animal companions, Chapter 5 is when Jonas & his "uncle"- for all intensive purposes, have dinner with Nina's family, Chapter 6 is Sunday where they go to Spring Lake- a small lake on Jonas's property... his "uncle" owns quite a few acres... and Chapter 7 is Monday, during which Jonas gives Mai what she's needed to hear for years)... that's when the true nature of the relationship is going to come out. Jonas will be as cold as he can get towards Mai, Nina has his back so he'll be more relaxed with giving her the bottom line... by the end he impresses that it'll take a while for him to forgive so long as the rumor stop

I'd given Mai's three other friends a little more to go on this time around. All three seem to romanticize Jonas being the loner, which makes him very mysterious. Marcie is particularly smitten by him, but in the end, as much as they are in awe of him, they respect the relationship unfolding between him and Nina.