Thursday, January 31, 2013

Use Your Genius to Feed the Hungry!! +FPP Reveal

It's been almost a year now that I've been participating in Foodie Pen Pals @TheLeanGreenBean.  I got this awesome box of goodies from Anna @AnnaDishes:

The dried mango and Justin's candy bar were my favorite things in the box.  Eva basically claimed the mango, and Garrett got a hold of the dark chocolate and cranberry bar-- so that was gone in minutes... but I did get to enjoy a bit of those two things!  (And by a bit, I mean a very, very small amount!)

Check out the box I sent to Katrice @HighHeelsandGoodMeals!

It got me thinking how *lucky* we are in America to just mail packages of food across the country to one another.  I mean, just look around us, there is food EVERYWHERE.  Granted, a lot of it is super-processed, fast-food, garbage... but, it's food nonetheless.  

Could you imagine living somewhere different?  Where free rice could mean the difference between a meal or going to bed hungry?  

I stumbled across -- it's a vocabulary game with a special reward-- for every answer you get right-- FreeRice donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme.

Taken from the site:

Freerice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme.Freerice has two goals:
  • Provide education to everyone for free.
  • Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

Online game to end hunger

I added the above button to my sidebar-- but I'm displaying it in this post for you as well.  Head on over and put your English vocab skills to use for an amazing cause!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Found A Manuscript!

Umm... so, I just stumbled across an interesting file on my computer...

It's only 25 pages-- but, it's a book I vaguely remember starting during my pregnancy with EVA.  She's 5 years old now...

I completely forgot about this manuscript!  It was saved in some obscure file and I accidentally clicked on it when I was looking for something totally different.

I even TITLED it, you guys!

I NEVER title anything.  I'm terrible with titles.  Dare I say, I loathe titles?

It's called The Price of Paramour... and, as you can suspect-- it's a romancey-for-the-chicks-NA.

For starting the manuscript at 21-22 years old... it's not THAT bad.  As I read, I definitely found myself feeling a bit embarrassed (ie- WHAT WAS I THINKING WITH THAT STUPID METAPHOR!?)  but-- it's really not bad.  I think I could easily finish this.

Yes, it is now *another* manuscript that I have floating around... and yes, it is kind of a trashy romance novel that I never write... but, that's kind of fun!

On a completely separate note-- The Strokes have a song available for free download on their website and it is TERRIBLE.  I want to cry.  Who listened to that song and told them, "Hey guys!  This sounds awesome!  This should totally be on your next album!"  I want to find that guy and tell him he's an asshole.

Anyhoots-- I hope my critique partners are honest enough with me to tell me if and when my writing sucks.

Honesty is a strong, admirable virtue....  And, I'll much appreciate you saving me from embarrassment!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Re-Introduce Myself

I'm participating in the:
click the photo to see other entries!
"Simply take a moment and tell us something interesting about yourself. Anything. It can be about writing. Or blogging. Or a hidden talent. Perhaps you’re in the Witness Protection Program."

We're told this doesn't have to be too long-- just a quick thaaaaang.  So, here it goes:
This is me-- Hello!
Hi!  My I'm Azia.  
I live in Southern MinneSNOWta.
It's really cold here right now and I kind of hate it.

I've been blessed to have met my soul-mate, Garrett.
We have two children.
We also have two cats.
We are currently in the process of donating and/or selling all of our belongings in order to live full time in an RV traveling across the US with our kids.

Life Rocks- I have no complaints!
isn't Garrett handsome!?
I've been blogging on this site since 2009-- but a few months ago I gutted over 500 posts and decided to use this space as a way to network with other writers.
(Basically, I was putting too much of myself "out there" for people-- and in turn being stalked.)
So, if you are wondering why there aren't too many posts on here, now you know the reason.

My good friend Sam and I are in the beginning stages of starting an online Lit-Journal/Site: I am excited to reveal it to you (and start receiving submissions from ya'll!) in the next couple of weeks!  You can find us on the Twitter: @DirtyChaiMag
We are *very* excited about this project!

Me and Sam's muddy feet.  Inspired my poem, "Yellow-painted toe nails..."
As for my personal writing attempts, I have quite a few unfinished manuscripts.  (I refuse to give an exact number, but somewhere between 10-15).  They range from YA dystopian, to NA, to mystery, and some memoir.  I've also been writing a ton of poetry lately.

My goal this year is to actually finish ONE of my books.  Send some prayers/positive vibes into the universe for me!?  Please and thank you.

Check out my About Me section for more random tidbits!

"I want to keep meeting new people, enlarging my circle of friends. I have great friends now... really good people. But I'm always ready for what comes next." -Paula Danzinger

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thrift Store

I dedicate this song to all my fellow thrift shoppers:: This is for you!

They be like “Oh that Gucci, that’s hella tight”
I’m like “Yo, that’s fifty dollars for a t-shirt”
Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition
Fifty dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant bitch shit
I call that getting swindled and pimped, shit
I call that getting tricked by business

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Insurgent by Veronica Roth-- it got better....

Welp, I did it!  I finished book two in the trilogy (book 3 is due out sometime this year) by Veronica Roth.  If you recall, I was let down by Divergent ... I left Insurgent feeling a little less bored and a bit more invested in the story.  (This post will contain spoilers and/or a few things that fans of the books might find offensive.  It is not my goal to come off that way, but I would proceed with caution.)

One major thing I disliked about this novel, and Divergent as well, is that Roth will have us go through an entire scene with Tris and then she will see someone afterwards (like Tobias) and reiterate through dialogue what we just read.  It drove me crazy!  Do not do this-- please. I felt like I had already read a couple hundred pages, yet had read nothing-- it was THAT mundane.  I yawned.  I skimmed.  I questioned my choice to continue reading.  I "tweeted" complaints.  You get the point-- I was hating every second of it.


Well, Tobias and Tris CONSTANTLY bicker.  It's nonstop.  It's typical, high school arguments that have no real place in the story.  It's distracting!  I mean, there is a civil war going on and their insecurities with one another seems so, how should I phrase this?  It seemed so... generic/unnecessary.  I was unable to form an attachment to these characters and root for them because of it.  The types of things that they both worried about and the way they talked to one another made them both seem very shallow and unlikeable.  Immature is also another word I'd like to throw into the mix.  These are not good attributes for a hero/heroine.  I am honestly hoping one of them dies pretty quickly in the last book so I never have to read an interaction between the two of them again.  (But, crap-- I can only imagine how annoying Tris would become-- full of guilt that Tobias died-- and referring to it constantly-- so, maybe that's not the best idea either.)


Luckily, most of the time during the second half of the book, Tris and Tobias are separated from one another.  Tris becomes a bit more endearing... and the plot isn't taken up by the insecurities of their budding romance and we learn more about why things are happening the way they are *and* there is a lot more action.  The plot thickens, people are exposed, overall-- it's much better than the the first half.

The last 3 or 4 pages of the novel is where the writing is the strongest.  Pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and some issues I had with the first book (ie- why are there factions?  What happened to the rest of the country?) are finally answered.  If it weren't for these final pages, I probably wouldn't read the final book when it's released.  But, now I will.


I hope that this final book of Roth's is her best one yet.  I'm hoping that this book will focus more on the factions and less on the romance between Tris and Tobias.  I know that it's a trend to have a love-interest in YA novels... but I really wish this novel did not have that.

Here's to hoping!

Monday, January 21, 2013


So-- since a few of you asked to see my do-it-yourself hair chop-- 
Here's a selfie for you! 

It rests on my shoulders. 
(I think the way I'm posing makes it look a bit longer than it actually is.)

I tried to find a picture to show you guys just how long it was before I hacked it off-- but every photo I found-- my hair was up.  (Big surprise.)

Anyway-- I thought I'd leave you with this:


Friday, January 18, 2013

Chopped It: Atl-J : Insurgent

So, I did this to myself:

My hair was down to my bum-- and everyday I'd swoop it into a sock bun or messy bun and plop it on top of my head.  It was heavy and in my way.  I was getting headaches.  And not styling it.  I hated it.

I was brushing it before the shower last week and had a "fuck this" moment-- put it into 2 pigtails and snipped it off.

It was very empowering!  Plus, I don't think I'll ever pay to get my haired cut/styled again.  So--- that's awesome!

We also cannot stop listening to Alt-J in our house:

I'm on the second book, Insurgent (Divergent) by Veronica Roth.  It's terrible thus far.  No lies.  It's like constant bickering between the 2 main characters-- monotonous!  I can't believe how something so violent can be so typical- high school/boring.  Not to mention-- Roth will put one of the characters in a scene and later, when they see another character, she uses dialogue the ENTIRE TIME to sum up what the reader JUST READ.   It's ridiculous.  And I find myself skimming over huge chunks of this book.  I'm tempted to just skip to the final chapter to figure out how this book ends.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Take This Waltz

You know the movies and/or stories that make you reflect quietly on life in general?  The ones that you love but can't help but feel a little sad once it's over?

Take This Waltz is that kind of story.

It's real, honest... and breaks your heart.

Michelle Williams character is a bit-- boring?  is that the right word?  for my taste-- but, then again, I think that is also the point.  She's 28 years old and doesn't have a very exciting life... she is grasping for more-- intimacy, newness... and dances with the devil known as "What if..."

The director, Sarah Polley, really knew what she was doing.  The shots in this movie are brilliant!

There is a bit (okay, quite a lot) of nudity in this film.  And, Sarah Silverman just kills it.  The entire cast is believable (even Seth Rogen).

For those of you with Netflix-- it's available and you have no excuse to not watch it.

Any of you seen this film?  I'd love to discuss it with you!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Confession : Divergent was "Meh"

Today I decided to participate in Alyx@Every Day is a New Adventure's Sunday confession!

I thought this would be the perfect time to come clean-- I am not a fan of Divergent by Veronica Roth. 
Why?  Well, I'm sure I won't make any friends by what I'm about to say and I'm warning you-- this does contain *spoilers* for those of you who haven't read the novel-- so proceed with caution. 
I've had quite a few different people recommend this series to me based on my love for HP, The Hunger Games, The Chronicles of Narnia, and my love/hate relationship with Twilight-- amongst all of the other YA novels that I love dearly.  

For some reason though, I kept putting it off.  That is, until Thursday when I noticed our library had a copy-- It was a sign, right?  I had to read it!  That night we had dinner plans with a family in town, and didn't get home until around 8:30-9:00 o'clock.  After Gar and I finally got everyone cleaned up and in bed, I pulled out the book.  I read about 80 pages or so before I called it a night.

I was not impressed.  

It was an easy read, and I knew I'd finish it.  (I'm not the type to start a book and not finish it, no matter how sucktastic it is.)  But, those first 80 pages were full of vague detail, tons of cliche's and a lot of plot holes.  

Friday night I did read the remaining 400 pages... but the entire time I couldn't wrap my head around why people were so in love with this book.  It makes absolutely no sense and has hardly any character development!   Not to mention-- the plot is insanely predictable.  I knew Four, for example, was Tobias, as soon as he was introduced.  I know this sounds a bit harsh and, maybe I had the novel built up in my head because I had heard how amazing it was-- but-- I felt more "meh" about it if anything.  I often found myself bored with the writing, skimming a lot of it in order to get to the more "juicy" parts.

The book takes place, for those of you who haven't read it, in a futuristic, dystopian Chicago that has been divided into 5 individual factions of society.  We are first introduced to Abnegation, the MC Beatrice (later known as 'Tris') is originally a member of this faction.  What I know about Abnegation- they wear grey, over sized clothes, aren't allowed to look in the mirror or ask question's to adults until they are over the age of 16, and they are the leaders of government because they are so incredibly selfless and plain.  

The next group is Dauntless- they are the tough guys of this society, the heavy.  Everyone dresses Gothic and has tattoos and hoops all over their face.  (Honestly, if I had to hear Tris talk about how her parents would "never believe all of these people with a hoop through their nose doing so and so" like normal people-- I could have very easily lost my shit.)  The members of this faction are fearless and like to trainhop as a means of transportation.  Naturally, they are the one's who are in charge of protecting the city.  (From what?  I have no idea.  That is never explained.)  They are also the only people with weapons.  Because that's smart.

The Erudite are another faction.  This group is for those who seek and appreciate knowledge.  They are in charge of creating serums that are very similar to an acid trip.  These help test the societies 16 year olds to see what faction they should become members of.  The evil that overtakes this society springs from the leaders of this faction-- because apparently those who seek knowledge, seek power and luxuries.  Also, the leader, Janene or however it's spelled, wears glasses because it makes her look smart.

Then there is Candor and Amity.  Candor's are human lie-detectors and walk around insulting everyone because honesty- in their opinion, is the most important part of life.  Amity-- they farm and play the banjo.  And drive trucks.

This book moves slow, you guys.  Tris, after cutting her hand open and bleeding into the "Dauntless Coals"- leaves her parents behind and begins the hazing initiation into Dauntless faction.  Tris, we are told, is a blond with plain features who, despite looking like a "child" is 16 years old.  She gets tattoos, wears  eye liner and black clothes, and gets the living crap beat out of her countless times.  Then, she  is given hallucinogenic drugs that show her greatest fears.  

But, oh no!  Tris knows that she's in a hallucination and can't be controlled, so she is considered Divergent-- and is in danger!  And, guess what?!  (Saw this one a mile away!)  Four is divergent too!  Another big surprise-- the super hunky/mysterious Four, who is older, comes from a troubled background and is all misunderstood and stuff falls for Tris despite her child-like appearance.  XOXO smooches.  Snore.
This is how a real badass dresses HA
The last 60 or so pages is where all the action takes place.  Tris becomes a skilled Ninja killing machine out of nowhere and saves the day!  Obviously.

Blah blah blah.

Will I probably finish the series?  Yes.  I'm in no rush to pick up Insurgent-- but I will at some point.  And, the last book is coming out soon from what I hear.

This book is overrated.  A lot of things are not explained in enough detail and the society isn't set up in a way that is easy for the reader to understand (ie- backstory is NONexistant.)  I still don't quite get the dynamic of the factions nor do I feel very invested in Tris&Four.  Maybe Insurgent will be better?
Any of you read this book yet?  What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beginnings Blogfest

L.G. Keltner is hosting:

What is it, you ask?  Taken from her blog:
Do you want to share the events that inspired you to start blogging?  Perhaps you'd like to recall that first awkward blog entry where you tried to introduce yourself to the blogging world.
Or maybe you'd like to write about what inspired you to embark on your career path.  When did the passion for this career choice begin, and how did you go about making it a reality?
You could even start at your real beginning and talk a little about where you were born and what the times were like.
Or, if you'd rather not talk about yourself, you can write about the origins of a favorite book, movie, artistic movement, or pretty much anything else.  After all, I'd feel bad asking you to adhere to any strict guidelines since I'm asking you to write something original.

I've decided to write about what made me want to be a writer and how I stumbled into blogging.

I grew up in an extremely nontraditional way.  I don't think today is the day to share my "I had a bad childhood so woe is me" story (HAHA). That being said-- things weren't always easy/stable (emotionally and physically speaking.)  I think that's why it's hard for me now to not come out swinging whenever I feel I'm (or someone I care about) is being attacked... I spent most of my life fighting battles.  

I was a very quiet child.  In elementary school, I was bullied pretty bad for both my name ("Asia's a continent!  Asia's a continent!") and for my academic ability.  Every year of school they asked my mother to move me ahead a grade, but she declined.  I was taken out of class a lot to do different assignments than the other children and I was also part of "G.A.T.E"-- Gifted And Talented Education.  I spent a lot of time reading and journaling alone in my room.  I was 5 years old when I started my first journal and I chronicled every day of my life since then.  

I am not a continent.  I am a person.
And it's spelled A-Z-I-A!
Books were the escape I longed for from both my unstable home life and the tormenting school days.  The characters in the stories I read became the friends I couldn't seem to make.  We moved a lot, so that made it even harder to make friends... which in turn, aided in my introvertism (I made that word up and it's staying!) and increased my social anxiety... which made me even more strange with the passing years.

While books allowed me to "travel" to other places, writing became my sanctuary, my outlet. 

I sent my first finished novel to Disney.  It was a story about a boy who shrinks in size and follows a squirrel into his nest and discovers an entire network underground of animals.  Unfortunately, Disney never got back to me (why I sent it to Disney, I have no idea) and, being that I was 11 years old, I didn't know that I should make more than one copy of my book and it is now gone forever.  *Note to Disney: If you're seeing this-- can you send me back my manuscript?  I'd like to get a good chuckle from it.  Please and thank you.

I started blogging via MySpace at 15 years old, that's just about 12 years ago.  It opened an entire world for me!  I was surprised by the sheer number of people whowere able to relate to the things I wrote about.  By the time I was 15, I was less awkward and had a lot more friends.  I still continued to feel different from most of my peers but I had found pot, which mellowed my mind and made me care less about what peope thought.  (No, I do not smoke pot now nor have I for many many years!)  I have also since discovered that everyone feels a little weird, some of us just have a harder time keeping our freak-flag at bay.

It's TOM!

I blogged on MySpace regularly until 2009 when I stumbled across my good friend Sarah's blog-- I joined the blogger community here and have loved every minute of it.

Around that time, I also started to realize that I wanted my love of literature to be what my career centered around.  I changed gears in college (I was studying to be a teacher) and began my path for a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in Political Science.  (I figured stuyding government would be helpful in writing dystopian style novels.)  I was overwhelmed with pleasure and knew writing was in my bones. 

I now maintain 2 blogs "professionally"- though they aren't a passion-- I write here for that.  I also run another blog, a weight loss blog, but I haven't been keeping up with that one as much.  I've  had a few minor things published and am in the midst of a slew of unfinished manuscripts that are in varying stages of completion.

I am excited and optimistic about the future ...  It seems writing has always been a place of security for me.  I am thankful for that.

                                                                       Source: via Azia on Pinterest

Monday, January 7, 2013

I Need The Deep

Things have been a bit strange lately.  Not strange in the traditional sense, I think.  But, more of... a shifting from one way of things to another.  I feel myself retreating inwards... Not in some depressed, angry way.  In a soul-searching, quiet-seeking, peaceful way.  I've felt so restless with society.  The consumerism, the everlasting bouts into all things "surface"- image, interests, you name it.  Everything outside of my home, my family, and a small group of individuals is the only time I feel depth in conversation/existence.

I don't want to live in a town with a Wal-mart.  I don't want to be on Facebook with hundreds of "friends"that I never see in my real life.  I don't want to be exposed to the overused and completely ridiculous era of "YOLO" that is upon us-- when YOLO is being used as a reason to spend nights wasted and reckless, not doing a damn thing that means anything.

I find myself struggling with questions like, "Has it always been like this?"  This being-- so empty?  Society, that is.  Image being the driving force.. Are we in the age of "all talk?"  People are what their Facebook profiles say they are?  Nothing more?  Am I the lunch I posted on Instagram a few hours ago?  I'm very confused and... ready.  For more.

I live in a small town-- 13,000 or so.  The population hasn't changed in 15 or 20 years?  It's not small enough for me anymore.  I love it.  But, I want even less around me.... Less people and chain restaurants.  I want-- farmers markets and small locally owned grocery stores.  I want swap-meets.  I want it to take me 20 or 30 minutes to get to the these Applebees and Targets and Starbucks of the world.  I want a more organic, tangible life.

I feel bored by a lot of people and things.  I have no desire to go to bars or parties.  I want to sip on green tea, with a notebook and write about the way I feel watching the snow melt.  I want to meet people that feel the same way that I do-- that life isn't about the best paying job, the newest iPad, the brand of the clothes that you are wearing-- that life is about creating.  Creating relationships, and joy, and art, and peace.  People that believe that everything on this planet isn't ours for the taking.

I want to live simply.

And peacefully.

But, I don't want to exclude the world from my life.   But, society, man... it's killing me.  I need the deep.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG -- January

It's  the first Wednesday of the month!  Which means it's time for Alex J. Cavanaugh's project, the:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. 

Where to start?!  Maybe at that part where I still, STILL have yet to finish my NaNoWriMo novel and that it is now JANUARY OF 2013 and also, since NaNo ended, I have started TWO more stories? And have another one working itself out in my head? 

It seems I have no problem starting anything-- I just can't seem to finish.  (Sounds like a bit of a personal problem, no?  Eh?)

I've been doing some soul searching on this topic because I want to know WHY I cannot finish my current manuscripts-- ((it's very hard to not feel like a failure.))  Here is what I've speculated to be the core reasons behind my inability to procure something that would be considered finished:

1.)  I am unable to complete a WIP because when it's done I'll actually have to let people read it-- and then potentially find out that it's shit. 

2.)  I am unable to complete a WIP because I am not a good enough writer.  (Fuck, I hope this isn't the reason!)

3.)  I am unable to complete a WIP because the universe has decided that it's not the proper time for me to do so.

Okay, three is a little bit hippie-bullshit/incredibly unlikely... But, you never know!  There is a part of me that does somewhat buy into the whole "everything happens for a reason when it's supposed to blah blah blah" stuff.  I'm just really scared to find out that I'm not a writer.  Or, in any case, to find out I'm a shitty writer.  And, if that happens... I'll be devastated.  I feel like a writer.  Ever since I can remember, I've been writing...  I want to be a writer.  I haven't been able to picture my life any other way in many years.  But, what if I never write anything worth reading?  What if I NEVER finish a fucking manuscript?


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

For You, Mrs. One Day...

A blogger who was very kind, hilarious, inspirational and a talented writer, passed away on Christmas Eve of 2012.  It's interesting-- this writing community that we have here, isn't it?  Because, she was more than a blogger, she was a friend.  She was someone I would talk to on the computer that understood the joy of writing and the stirring of it inside your soul.  We talked of future plans and to meet, in "real" life.  I may not have known her physical presence, but I knew her, and I called her "friend" without a second thought.  I can only imagine how deeply her loved one's must be suffering in her absence.  I am sending my love to them.

Mrs. One Day @ One Day I'm Gonna, or better known as Misty Tamone -- was taken much too soon.  She was full of dreams and aspirations.... and I post this in her honor:

                                                            Source: via Azia on Pinterest