Sunday, September 1, 2013

Release Date, Donate!

I've finally finished Tailspin, but the work is far from over. Now it's time to edit, re-edit, and edit some more. Oh, and eventually publish.

Speaking of publishing, the release date is FRIDAYSEPTEMBER 13TH. (I did that on purpose, if you're wondering.)

On my other, more personal blog, I wrote a post for a friend/about a friend, who's going through a heartbreaking trial. If you'd like to read it, click here. The reason I am telling you this is because all of the proceeds in the first month (Sept. 13-Oct. 13) will be donated to this wonderful family.

Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis aren't things I know much about, and even though I don't know all there is to know, I do know that it won't be easy for Amber and her family; financially, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. I'm hoping that together we can lift some of the burden of their backs. 

I know that some of you may not know this family. Probably most of you. The way that I see it; this can happen to anyone. It could be you or your best friend or your sister or your brother... You get the idea. The book will be listed at 2.99, which means that two dollars will be donated from each one that sells. It may not be a lot, but 2x10 is 20 and 2x20 is 40 and 2x40 is 80.. Every little bit counts.  

Mark your calendars, keep a look out on Amazon, and don't forget to spread the word!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Progress

It's been a while since I've written here, and I'm so excited to say that I've made a lot of progress since my last post!

  1. I'm almost finished with Tailspin!! *happy dance* It's been such a crazy ride this time around. I know so much more about writing and the writing world than I did with Toxic, and I think that kind of played against me. You know that whole ignorance is bliss thing. With Toxic I just wrote and pushed the publish button- with Tailspin, there's writing and plotting and editing and blah blah blah.
  2. And then there's a cover. Toxic's cover was simple. I think I found it before I even started writing. I wanted something that was emotional, somewhat desperate and dark. Logan was a troubled girl and I wanted the cover to portray that. Nathan, though, is so complex and multi-faceted. He's supposed to be good, to represent good things, and I didn't want the cover to be dark like Toxic's. At the same time, he has a lot going on and not everything is in the light. Both he and Logan have secrets, and I wanted the cover to show the hidden parts of both of them. 
  3. While Toxic is still selling, it's not selling a lot. Which is fine- I was never in it for the money. I haven't really done any self-promoting or marketing, and I figured, why not? So this past week I've been reaching out to blogs and popular Goodreads reviewers and asking them to read and review Toxic. I don't know if it'll help get it more out there, but it'll be nice to have some more feedback either way. 


A few of the blogs that have reviewed Toxic are going to be hosting a cover reveal for Tailspin, on Friday August 16th. You can head over to Hook Me Up Book Blog, Three Chick and Their BooksBehind Closed Covers to be the first to see the cover and read a sneak peek from Tailspin.

I'm hoping to have the manuscript done in two weeks, and then I'll be getting it out to beta-readers. Speaking of, where can I find a few of those? I supposed I'll cross that bridge when I get to it...


Monday, July 1, 2013

Easy Breezy

Okay. The plan was to be done with Tailspin by the end of this month...as in June...as in it's not going to happen because I'm not even halfway through. I thought it would be easy breezy; it's basically Toxic from Nathan's POV.

But it's not.

It's so much more.

Nathan is such a complex character; he's a guy who's lost everything he's ever known, whose world is turned upside down in one single night. He's forced to change the way he thinks, the way he reacts to situations. A lot of the time I struggle with the would a guy really think this? thing, but he's not a normal guy. He's a twenty year old bachelor turned bar owner/parent. The responsibility of caring for his family, of providing for them falls solely on his shoulders.

"I don't know what I need...I want to comfort them. I want to leave them. I want to forget everything."

I'm definitely making progress, and I'm super happy with it. So many questions and hazy situations will be answered and cleared. Logan, through most of Toxic, was high and unable to understand what was going on around her. We're left wondering what happens between Nathan and Danny in Nathan's house. How does Logan end up in the hospital, and ultimately in rehab? Who finds her grandmother for her?

"This when I realize that, despite the fact that I've known her for all of two days and ignoring that she's a conflict of interest, Logan has gotten underneath my skin."

Nathan, while he is understanding and compassionate, struggles with making the right decision more often than not. Boundaries will be blurred; lines will be crossed, and at the end of the day, he will have to decide what is more important to him; saving Logan or saving himself.

"I want to be the one who puts the smile on her face and the peace in her heart. I want to be the one who lights up her whole f*cking world."

Even though this will be my second self-published book, I feel like I'm nowhere near prepared. Tailspin is still without a cover. I have to make the decision to either hire a editor or edit it myself (Toxic was self-edited.) Do I hire beta-readers? Do I enlist it in websites such as NetGalley? And if so, when? Do I fork over the money for adds on Goodreads? WHat kind of advertisement is worth it?

Every time I feel like I've made some progress, I remember how much road is left to travel. This is not easy breezy. But then again, nothing worth it ever is, right?

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Rocky Road

Lately, I've been craving something that I just can't put my finger on. And I'm not talking about food. There's been an ache in my soul for a certain kind of book, and while a few of the ones I have read lately were good, they just weren't it.

I don't know what it is I want.
And I'm finding that's the case with a lot of things in my life.

When will there be a number two? (when talking about babies)
Where should we buy a house?
Do you want to go back to work?
What will you do when you're finished writing (insert book name here)?

There aren't a lot of things that are certain in my life, except for my family and my writing, and I tend to cling to those things like white on rice. In a way, it provides a sense of risk. I don't make plans; I live each day as it comes, kinda like how we live paycheck to paycheck. It could be bad, it could be a negative aspect in my life, but I refuse to let it become a hindrance. Instead, I think of it as an adventure. A wild ride. A rocky road.

So when asked if I intend to write full time, I laugh. I don't intend to do anything. If it becomes something that can provide for my family, awesome. If not, well, I'll write anyways. Because it's what I like to do. And, because, I feel like I'm good at it and it makes me feel like I've accomplished something academically.

If you would have known me four years ago, in the peak of my senior year, you would have thought that I'd be the one graduating and going to some awesome college and getting some super useful degree. I was good at school, good at learning and doing and all that stuff. I was the one who got good grades without trying. I applied to three schools and got into all of them. And when I chose Nova Southeastern University, the school my father went to, I had high hopes for my future as en English major.

But it didn't happen.

I hated it. I hated being away from my family and friends, I hated living on campus and I hated the fact that it was nothing like in the movies/books. I ended up leaving after three weeks and then began my journey through state college and sucky ass jobs.

Life didn't turn out how I thought it would, and I always felt the need to prove people wrong.

They said I was too young to get married.
They said we were too young to have a baby.
They said I needed to go back to school.

But I didn't know what I wanted, and school didn't seem to be my dream any longer, and so I started to write, and in doing so, I'd like to think that I proved those people wrong, too. I like to think that I made something of myself, as a wife, a mother, and a writer. Those are the things that define me, and sometimes I like to add to that list.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be a painter. (doubt it, since I'm a really bad painter)
Maybe I'll pick up piano again, and become a pianist.
Maybe I'll join an adult soccer league, and become a soccer player.

I do know that I intend to live my life like a story. I intend to grab onto those ohshit handles and hang on while riding down this rocky road. Maybe I'll never really find the book to satisfy that craving, but I'll never stop searching, and I'll most likely never know what it's like to be a best-selling author, but it will never change the fact that I am a writer.

In the long run, it won't matter that I didn't know what I wanted, only that I never stopped searching for it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Updates

Today (or yesterday?) at midnight, the giveaway for Toxic ended...

And the results were fantastic! Over 900 people entered to win, with almost 700 of those people adding my book to their TBR lists. Yay for more traffic! And congratulations to the winners. You will be receiving your paperback copy soon!

So, this weekend was crazy busy, but I still managed to finish The Fault in Our Stars in, like, two nights. I could not put it down, even though I knew nothing good would come of it. The story, I mean. Suffice it to say that a book about teenagers with cancer is never going to be a happy book. But at the same time, it was a happy book. It made me laugh and it made me cry and to me, that's the most important thing; that it made me feel.

If you're interested, you can read my updates and full review here.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the giveaway! Keep checking back for more Toxic news and Tailspin updates.

It's Monday! Which means you probably want more sleep, an alcoholic beverage of some sort, or both, but at least it's only four more days until the weekend!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Take a Chance (On Me)

So, a few posts ago I talked about a book that I wrote last year that I'm trying to get traditionally published. I've sent it to at least fifteen different agencies, six of which I'm still waiting to hear from and about six of which gave me straight up no's. As for the other three? No response, which I guess is their way of saying no.

The thing about this whole process is that it's entirely subjective. Most agents won't pick up something they're not personally interested in because they feel like they won't be able to market it properly. That doesn't necessarily mean that nobody will be interested in it, particularly the would-be buyers. At this point, so early on in the game, it's easy to give up. It's easy to put it aside and forget about it (like I have done for the past few months.) It's not that the no's get to me on a personal level. They really don't, surprisingly. It's just that taking the time to put together queries and synopsis(es?) for each and every agent is a lot of work. More work than the actual writing the book part, believe it or not.

Its' times like this, when I'm obsessively checking my email, waiting for a subject line to read RE: Query: Originals, that I begin to wonder if I should just suck it up and self-publish again. If I should forget about the dream of seeing my name on a bookshelf in Barnes and Noble and get it out there sooner rather than later. What can I say? I'm impatient.

As of right now, I will continue to query agents in the hopes that one will take a chance on somebody like me; a beginner, a technical nobody, a barely college student with no degrees or certificates or hardly an life experience.

That's not the way I see myself, of course. In my eyes Originals is the best damn YA apocalyptic/sci-fi book to grace the face of the earth. I realize I'm a tad bit biased, of course, and try to take a realistic approach to the world of publishing. But really, who knows what could happen? Anything is possible, right? Right?

Toxic is continuing to do well, nothing really exploding on the sales end, but I didn't really expect it to. It's a slow trickle, the methodic drip-drop of water from the bathroom sink in the middle of the night. (I finally revised the contents and the cover, making it read and look more professional.)
Tailspin is in the middle of a major brick-wall. It's hard writing from the perspective of a guy when you're not actually a guy, so I've often times found myself highlighting and deleting until there's almost nothing left. It's frustrating, but at the same time, I know that I'm learning as I go. (Cover in the works...still...possibly forever. I hate stock photography with a burning passion.)

Even though it's Friday, I'll let you know what I'm reading since I'm always reading. Especially on rainy days like this. (What's up with this weather, anyways? Sunshine state my ass.)

Hardback read:

This book has received an insane amount of positive reviews, which makes me leery yet excited to read it. In my experience, books with high ratings doesn't necessarily mean high quality. I guess I'll find out for myself soon enough. 
 
Kindle read:
 
Not gunna lie, I picked this one up mostly for it's cover. Oh, and it was free. It's a YA sci-fi, which used to be all I read, so I'm definitely excited about it, despite the 3.5 out 5 stars rating.                         
 
Hope your weekend is exciting! And maybe not as rainy as mine is predicted to be. TGIF?
 


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Growing Words

The idea behind making this new blog, Along the Rocky Road, versus writing on my old blog, Rocky's Modern Life was that this one would be full of books news, more professional instead of family-oriented to keep from giving personal information to those who might not care to read it. And while I plan to stick to that, sometimes the lines get blurred. I write, I read, but I'm a mom, too. And as a mom, I read books for kids and sometimes I am compelled to write about those books on this blog, because, well, it's about books!

So you see my dilemma.

WARNING! 
I am about to get a bit emotional, here, with a story about my son and the book we read today. If you're not looking to read about another mom with another story, than stop right here. If you chose to continue, don't say I didn't warn you.

A few weeks ago, Aubrey had his second birthday- it's crazy, I know, how fast they grow. I didn't even mean to let it happen; one second he was brand new and so tiny, slipping slightly as his skin came into contact with mine for the very first time, from the outside, at least, and the next minute he was sitting at our dining room table, shy and apprehensive as twenty pairs of eyes stared and twenty mouths sang. He looked over at me, his eyes carefully assessing the situation and I nodded and smiled, the proverbial green light he was looking for. He blew out his candle, stuck his fingers in the icing, and the world was right again. For him, at least, in his two year old mind. And it was for me, too, despite the fact that he was growing up, growing away from me. Because in that one look he told a story; one of looking for acceptance and love instead of just expecting it as infants naturally do, and I tried to hold back the sorrow that came with him letting him grow; with nodding my head instead of rushing to his side to hold his hand and blowing out the candle for him.

The party came and went, and at the end of the day he was still my baby, if only slightly older. The reason I tell this story is because one of the gifts he got, from on my very best friends was Oh, the Places You'll Go! By Dr. Suess. We hadn't really had a chance to pick it up before today and read it. Sure, he flipped through the pages while I sat idly by and wrung my hands, hoping to heaven and back that he wouldn't tear them because I'm crazy like that, but we never actually read it. Today, we did. And my heart broke. And I cried. And I was humiliated, because, who cries over Dr. Suess?

Apparently, I do. But i just couldn't help it. And at that moment, in my teary eyed, thick voiced reading, I was struck by the magic that is Dr. Suess. The genius. What he's done and who he's affected and how he got to see some of the wake he created in the masses of the world. And to think he does that with so little words. We're always told that there's power in them, how they can warp and skew, enlighten or enrage. I read a quote the other day, something along the lines of, if the words we spoke were forever carved onto our bodies, would we be more careful about what was said? 

It's never struck so true before. And to think it took a Dr. Suess sized book to make it glaringly obvious.

I like to think that my books, this blog, my journal or anything else I've written is a part of me; my soul, my heart, the very thing that makes me alive. Like the little boy who was changed my life, forever my heart walking around outside of my body, these words have done the same thing. Maybe not so drastically, but nonetheless existing outside of me, for all to see, for all to criticize. But it was never a question to keep them to myself, just as Aubrey will surely leave the protection of my wings one day entirely too soon.

And if Dr. Suess is right about anything (and let's face it, he usually is)
Then...

There will be high's and there will be low's. 
There will be yes's, and there will be no's.
And, most assuredly so, 
Life will always be a tough road.

But it'll be worth it in the end, you see,
To look back upon all the things we've achieved
To see with smiling eyes the lives we've created,
The paths we've situated,
The people with which we've become infatuated.

The money won't matter-
The valuables, they shatter!
All that will be left is the happiness and the laughter,
The love and the happily ever after.


Monday, May 20, 2013

All That Jazz

I feel like I should be updating this thing more than once a week, but honestly, I totally forget to. And then I feel like I never know what to write! When it comes to writing books, I've got ideas for days. No, seriously. There's, like, a million story lines and plots and characters running through my head at any given moment. It's very hard to keep track of reality sometimes. Great, now I sound crazy.


I swear I'm not.
But it definitely feels like it.

Anywho, I had started working on Tailspin (Nathan's story) soon after publishing Toxic, but I wasn't feeling it, and if I'm not feeling something, I get writer's block, and if I get writer's block, I keep writing but the writing I do during writer's block just ain't any good. You get me?
So I put it aside and I didn't write for a while. I actually focused my efforts on sending out more queries to more agents about the book I first wrote back in October of last year (titled Originals.) While I did receive some positive feedback from a couple of said agents, it was still a no-go for that one. I intend to keep pursuing the traditional publishing route for Originals, but I can only do it in doses. So many no's gets to ya, you get me?
Then there's this one book I'm in the middle of, called Second Chance Love, and it's probably the one I'm most proud of, as far as the writing goes. I don't know, maybe I just think it's better than it really is because I'm putting the time and effort into it, but it's different than anything else I've written. The main character is twenty five and married and dealing with different issues than that of a just graduated eighteen year old. But we'll see how that goes and all that jazz.

The thing about writing is, I enjoy it. A lot. It's always what I've wanted to do, besides being a mom. And it's different than being a mom. Writing is my own. I create it, but it doesn't need me. I need it. In some ways, it nourishes me, replenishes my soul on days when I'm all tuckered out. Like today, when the baby is sick and the house is a mess and dying your sister's hair blue doesn't turn out quite right (blue fades to green...whudda thunk.)
But more than that, it settles this piece inside of me that is constantly moving. Sometimes I feel like I can't think straight until I get all of these words out. It rattles and jostles and pushes against all of the other parts of my brain until I set fingers to keyboard and let the words flow free. And then it calms. It tires of running and it lies still, if only for a moment.

Maybe I am crazy.

Either way, I don't think I'm ever going to stop. I know I'm not the best writer in the world. I know there will be people out there who read my books and think, is this a joke? But that's okay, cause I don't do it for them. I don't do it for the money or the glory or the fame. I do it because it's a piece of who I am.


And of course, I find time in between everything to read because I'm obsessed with it, and like everything else I'm obsessed with (rounded numbers, smells...) it kind of takes over sometimes. 

My hardcopy read is still Rebel Heart by Moira Young because it makes me anxious and tense and I can't read it all at once. Which, incase you were wondering, is a fantastic thing. I've learned to pace myself when reading to fully enjoy each and every word, instead of blasting through it like I used to do when I was an amateur reader. Now I'm a professional...duhhhhh.












This week's Kindle read is Sapphire Universe by Devon Herrera.
It was a free download, along with about six other books I found this week, which has been incredible for my bank account, let me tell ya.













I'll end this post with a few things I've learned this weekend.
1. Birthday parties are exhausting.
2. There is such a thing as too much sleep.
3. I can only watch movies with an insane amount of action or else I get very bored and very antsy and ultimately end up annoying every single person around me.

Ps.- Star Trek: Into Darkness has insane amounts of action and was awesome to see via giant movie screen. I can imagine that it would be even cooler via 3D. Too bad I hate those damn glasses.


Happy Monday, everyone! Get your freaky weeky on!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Classic

Last night, my sister and I took my mom to see The Great Gatsby, and the whole movie I was thinking, Why haven't I read this book? In fact, why haven't I read any of the classics?

If you don't believe me, it's true. I swear. The school I went to might have required us to read a few, but that's where Sparknotes came in. While I always loved reading, I hated reading when people told me to read. Rebellious nature, I guess? Either way, I've been moseying through life without having read such things as The Great Gatsby, A Tale of Two Cities, Wuthering Heights, and I'm starting to think that maybe I'm missing out on something.

The movie, if you were wondering, was great. Leo did an amazing job, as usual, and it was clear that it was from the producers of Moulin Rouge, with the same dramatic elements and modern music turned 1920's. I definitely recommend seeing it, but maybe spare the men in your life and take a few girlfriends. I'd classify it as a chick-flick, for sure.

Now for this week's reads!

I'm still reading Rebel Heart by Moira Young as my hardcopy. I'm not sure what's taking me so long, except that it's a bit harder to lug around a big book and therefore I don't bring it with me as often.



For this week's eBook/Kindle read, I've got Running On Empty by L.B. Simmons. It was a free pickup and has a lot of good reviews, so I'm excited about it!

 
 
Toxic is receiving more and more attention everyday and the positive support has been amazing. If anyone has any questions about Toxic, feel free to contact me. Also, if you haven't already done so, sign up to win a paperback copy of Toxic at the bottom of this page.
 
 
Any specific classic that you would recommend to kick off my old school challenge? We all know that a strong start is the best start!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ya Better Recognize

I have to say, I'm kind of proud of myself. I think I've almost got the hang of this internet thing.
Yeah, yeah, I know I'm late, but I just never realized how much it could do; how much it could offer! But now that I know, I think I might never be the same.

It's funny how things change your perspective. For example, the trip to Nashville really made me open my eyes to the actual song writers, instead of crediting the singers. I think we assume, Oh Kenny Chesney sings this, so he must have wrote it, too. But that's hardly ever the case. Had I not gone to Nashville and had the awesome experience at The Bluebird Café, I might still be living in that ignorance. But now I know, and I can't listen to a song without wondering who wrote it. It's a blessing and a curse, but I wouldn't change a thing.

The same thing goes for buying products, especially from websites like Etsy or Ebay. Those people need reviews and word of mouth hype. They crave it. And it wasn't until I published my book that I realized how true that was. No one will take your work seriously if there's no recommendations to go by.

Slowly but surely, Toxic is gaining recognition. Every time a new rating or review pops up, I do something like this:

 
 
It really is an awesome feeling. And so now every time I read a book, I make sure to leave a review. This time I'm taking it a step farther, because I was really, really, blown away by this book. Just as in Nasvhille, I find myself wondering, why aren't these people famous? Whether this author decided to self-publish for her own reasons, or because a traditional publishing house didn't pick it up, I'm not sure. All I know is that she deserves recognition, and you should check out her YA dystopian novel Tent City.
 


You can read my full review here:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/607909327

Well, that was supposed to be my eBook read for the week, but I finished it already so...

This weeks hardcopy read is:

 
 

Happy Monday everyone! The good news is; there's only one every week! ;)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Books for Thought

Before Kindles became popular, the only type of books I would read were sci-fi/fantasy, dystopian, paranormal, steampunk, etc., etc. I wasn't a fan of fluffy romances or angsty/drama filled stories. I wanted depth and plotting and thought provoking stuff. You know, the stuff that is so incredibly detailed and informative that you might have to re-read the book just to absorb it all.

But then something happened.

After swearing up and down that I would never own a Kindle, I caved. Well, that's not necessarily true. I actually don't own one, believe it or not. My mom got one for Christmas one year and I sneakily confiscated it. And for a while, my anti-mushy trend continued. And then I read one book that changed it all. I was craving something relatable, something with a character my age with problems like mine. I was just about to graduate high school and was facing decisions like choosing a college; stay or go, big or small, public or private, majors and loans and all that boloney. I picked up a book that caught my eye (which, let's face it, is almost every book) and I was hooked.


It's not like the story was amazing, or the writing flawless. But it was my first read like it, and so the story has stuck with me since then. And it opened a floodgate. I wanted more and for a time, it was all I read. Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, Jennifer Echols. Heck, even Nicholas Sparks and I had a thing. It's not like the content was riveting or thrilling or blood-rushing. It was just...enjoyable. Easy. Light. Fun.

But then I came across another problem; the characters were either too young or too old (no offense.) I didn't have anything in common with a sixteen year old just finding love, or a thirty five year old getting divorced, and so I strayed away from the romance and back to my old stomping grounds; back to the characters fighting for their lives and giving me a panic attack in the process.

Until now.

Now there's this whole new genre (well, I don't know how new it is) and they're calling it NA. The characters? Between the ages of 18-25 (usually.) Their problems? Whatever problems 18-25 year olds face! WAHOO! Needless to say, the genre has exploded, and almost every book I have read recently has fallen under that category. I am proud to say that even though I have caved and began using a Kindle, I only use it to read books that aren't traditionally published, or aren't originally offered in hard copy. I still buy books, and I still sniff the pages and refuse to crease the corners. Yeah, I'm that guy girl.

This weeks hardcopy read is: (drum roll please)

If you want to read something that will blow your mind and keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, read this series. Or better yet, don't. It will drive you mad with wonder.

And this week's Kindle read is:


*If you click on the pictures, they will lead you to the books Goodreads website. 

What are you currently reading? Is it on Kindle or hardcopy? And which do you prefer? 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring cleaning?

You know that things have gotten out of hand when you walk into your room and you can't see the ground. Like, literally cannot see where your feet are supposed to go. Granted, we have a king size bed and plenty of furniture to help with the unseeing ground issue, but really, that's a cop out.

I just didn't know where to start. There was sh*t everywhere. Clothes, suitcases (yes, from Tennessee. Don't judge me.) Books and pens and toys, oh my. I was overwhelmed.
















But instead of putting it off and grabbing a book like I usually do, I got to work. And I clean. I actually cleaned.
Many of you are probably thinking, what's the big deal? But if you knew me, than you'd know. I picked up and organized and folded and dusted and vacuumed and dusted and vacuumed again. I don't think I've ever picked up so many tags. Like, clothes tags. From the store. I like to rip them off and leave them on the floor. I probably could have gone back six months and told you how much every piece of clothing in my closet cost. Well, needless to say, fifty thousand sneezes and thirty-six million groans later, it was done.
Finished.
Complete.
Over.
And again, if you know me, you know how big of a deal that is.
I, Raquel Valldeperas/Wyckoff, finished something besides a book.

Now all that's left to do is finish the laundry I started.

In other news, the second book to Toxic is currently in the works and coming along pretty nicely. I've got a working title and the whole plot pretty much figured out (in my head.) The writing is flowing, the words flying from fingertips to keys to computer screen. It's an awesome feeling, thinking something and seeing it come to life. It's even more awesome when it actually works out.

What? What's that, you say?














You want a teaser? A little taste? Well, since you've asked so nicely, here it is! Get ready to have your mind blown. (Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit. Maybe it'll be more like a hiccup instead of an explosion.)

              They both nods their heads, look anywhere but into my eyes. "Let us know if there's anything we can do," cop number two says, handing me a card. 
             My hand reaches out for it, but it's not my hand. My voice tells them thank you, but it's not my voice. I am not me right now. I am no one and everyone and all Emily and Joshua have left. I am no longer Nathan Hawkins, star quarter back at UM, or Nathan Hawkins, eldest child of Sarah and Wesley Hawkins. In this moment, I am just a boy who falls to his knees and cries for the parents he loved, the parents that were taken from him too fucking early. For the little boy upstairs who will never get the chance to truly understand how much they loved him. For the just barely seventeen year old girl who will be forced to grow up too quickly and without a mom. I cry for the injustice of it all, but mostly I wish it was me instead.

I'm hoping to be done writing by the end of May, and have the final draft ready to be published by the end of  June. It'll be longer than the first one and will definitely provide a lot more information since Nathan won't have chunks of time missing like Lo. Updates will be made as I go along!

Now that I've gotten the once-a-year-spring-cleaning out of the way, it's back to writing and reading for me!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nashville Notes, Part 4



I'm not gunna lie, I've seen Hostel, the horror movie about- you guessed it- college kids at a hostel, who get kidnapped and brutally murdered. It was honestly the only thing running through my mind as we made the short walk from lunch to the hostel door. It faced the river, on the back of an industrial building surrounded by other similar buildings. With the sun on our shoulders and the crisp wind blowing our hair, we pulled open the double doors and walked through with our purses held tight to our sides and our heads held high.

It was completely different than we expected.

There were people everywhere, of every race and language. It was bright and wide open, clean and inviting. There was a piano, a fuseball table, a TV, couches, even a beer fridge. That was definitely the selling point for us.

Just kidding.

The check-in process took forever, but man was it entertaining. You see, Rachelle and I have this thing where we get real sarcastic and witty, and we play off of each other like we're being paid to be funny. Maybe I'm giving us a little too much credit, but the check-in guy just did not know what to do with us. I mean, we had to sign a contract that said we wouldn't bring any ferrets into the room. Really? What did he expect? After laughing so hard our cheeks hurt, and being told that we were "really cool" we made our way out to the car to grab our very heavy bags and go back to our room.

The rest of the building was just as surprising as the foyer. The walls were plain cement, the halls cold and drafty. But the elevator was made of glass and therefore completely open. The fourth floor where our room was located was simply decorated, each room named after a famous country star. And wouldn't you know it, our room was Alabama. The soundtrack to our entire trip thus far. It felt like we were right where we were meant to be. And though the hostel was definitely our last resort, due to the fact that we couldn't afford/find any other hotels, we were slowly beginning to realize that it would be our best memory of the whole trip.

Our plans for that Thursday evening involved going to an album release party for Ashley Monroe, and just in case you don't know who she is, she's part of the band Pistol Annies with Miranda Lambert. Yeah, we were excited. Of course, the night was cold, so we dressed in our long sleeve shirts bought specifically for the trip, and coats that, despite having been worn almost every day, still felt like too much clothing, and walked out of the room to come face to face with our "neighbors" across the hall. We exchanged names, talked a bit about where we were from and where we were going, and went on our way.

Although the bar was far, and it was cold, we decided to walk. Bad idea. It wasn't too bad on the way there, with the sun just dipping below the buildings. But on the way back? It was freezing. So cold that our jaws hurt from clenching and our backs ached from tensing. So cold that we practically ran two miles back to Broadway street, which is probably more than any of us have ran at one time. We ducked into the first bar we came across and ordered our drinks extra strong just to get us warm. In no time, we were back to feeling our fingers and toes. And the music.

The bar hopping commenced and in the process we ran into Utah and a couple of other people we had met the previous night. Oh, and the guy who checked us in and thought we were really cool? Yeah, we saw him too. So after a round (or two) of shots at the very last stop at 3 in the morning, we decided to call it a night. Check-in guy (names will not be disclosed) walked with us back to the hostel, since that was where he lived, and to our surprise, the lounge was bumping with people. After dumping our purses (and apparently a bag of goldfish) in our room, we joined the fuseball-playing, karaoke-singing, PBR-drinking crowd in the lounge.

Before we knew it, it was five o'clock in the morning, and Rachelle was demanding food, and because she's a chef and was hungry, she decided to cook spaghetti. At five o'clock in the morning. With a guy we named Washington who walked around without shoes, even though it was at least 25 degrees outside. It was probably the best spaghetti I have ever had. Maybe because it was five o'clock in the morning.
With full bellies, we stumbled up to our room in the wee hours of the morning, crunching on goldfish and running into one of our very sleepy neighbors who was very confused as to why we were walking around so early in the morning. He only became more confused when he found out we were just going to sleep.

And then came Friday morning. We rolled out of bed sometime around 11, completely regretting the lack of sleep and the last shots of the night. We trudged downstairs and found our neighbors occupying the couches in the lounge, where we sat and chatted before deciding that our stomachs might eat themselves if we didn't feed them. But since I had woken with the *coughcough* flu *coughcough* I couldn't make it to the lunch escapade, and instead hung out with our Michigan friends. After Rachelle and Arielle returned, we walked around in the light of day, stopping to by milkshakes (those crazy Michigan guys and their cold drinks on that very cold day) and talking and joking about anything and everything. The evening arrived and we split ways, the guys to their hockey game and us to dinner. Afterwards, we met up downtown and followed them (and our Australian friends) to a dueling piano bar.

We weren't sure what to expect, having spent all of our time in Nashville in honkey tonk bars (like you're supposed to) but we were pleasantly surprised. Those guys were seriously awesome, playing any song thrown their way, not only on the piano, but on the drums, the guitar, and singing. Talk about talented, but who isn't in Nash Vegas? After going to a few more bars, we made our way back to the hostel where we disturbed the peace until four in the morning. Check-in guy had to tell us to keep it down (who was he to talk, anyways?), Arielle lost our room key, which landed us locked out of our room until the next morning, and in some very uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

On Saturday, we woke up with heavy eyes from lack of sleep and heavy hearts with the knowledge that we would be leaving Nashville in just a few hours time. We packed up our stuff in record time (we were used to it by then) and helped the messy Michigan boys pack theirs, and took off for breakfast. The Last Supper. A damn good meal, too. And even though we had only known them for two short days, the Michigan boys had become our friends. And even though Nashville had only been our home for a mere week, the farther away from it we got, the more misplaced we felt. The drive home was long but beautiful, serving only to remind us of the beauty we miss out on. Mountains and cliffs and waterfalls and miles and miles and miles of blue-tinged trees.

This is what happens after seven hours in a car.

We stopped in South Georgia for the night only to wake up and continue our drive home. Crossing the state line was like crossing into a different world. We went from barren and brown to alive and green. We began to see Florida in a different light. Is this what people see when they come here for the first time? we thought. Everything was just so green. Even the sky seemed bluer, the clouds crisper. When we stepped out of the car at Rachelle's house, we could literally smell the ocean in the air. And it smelled good. It smelled like home. It was hard to believe we were back, and even harder to believe it had only been ten days since we left. It felt like weeks had passed, and I was ready to go home.

Nashville left a mark on our hearts, put a dent in our souls. It opened our eyes, made us see how much bigger the world was. Even though at first it seemed like it was leaps and bounds better than crabby ol' West Palm Beach, I think it also made us realize just what we have. It made us realize that home is only as good as the people in it, and the people in our home are real good.

With all that said, CHEERS to Nash Vegas road trip 2014! Who's in?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Say What You Need to Say

So lately there has been a lot of hullabaloo going around about writing reviews. I guess the whole, if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all, adage is being taken pretty seriously. Not just in the kindergarten classroom, but on websites such as Goodreads and Amazon as well.

And, like, I guess I understand. You write a book, you spend hours and months and years putting all of this effort into these words that will be out there for the world to see, and then someone goes and bad mouths the crap out of you to their mom and their friends, who tell their hair stylists, who tell their daughters, who tell their friends- you get the idea.
It sucks. I get it.
But, honestly, it should  be expected. Not everyone is going to love you or your writing.

You could be the juciest peach in the world, and there will still be someone who doesn't like peaches.

I just love that saying, because it's so frikkin' true. And when you put it like that- well, there's just not a damn thing you can do about it. This is my theory.
I wrote a book. I wrote a book that uses curse words, has drug use and underage drinking, has sexual situations- not everyone is going to like my book. I'm not going to expect my pastor's wife to pick up this book and be like, best book ever!
No.
Someone out there won't like the way I write. They'll hate my run-on sentences or the fact that I named my character Logan. They'll think it's so completely cliche and unrealistic. They'll write a review about it, tell all of their friends, post it on their Facebook page...











It's just not worth it to get mad. Will it change their minds? Will they all of the sudden like my book and take back their honest review?
No.
I know that when I spend my money and my time on a book with all of these wonferful reviews, and it turns out to be awful, I get mad.













I feel like I've been lied to, betrayed. It makes me want to throw my kindle against a wall, and anything that makes me want to cause bodily harm to one of my most prized possessions is worth my nasty review.
It's not like I'll give a bad review because I didn't like how it ended. I won't even give a bad review if I don't like the story. If the writing is terrible, the dialogue grotesquely boring/unrealistic, the grammar atrocious, then I'll give it a bad review.

Readability. It's not too much to ask for, is it?
I don't think so.
I say, that if you want to leave a negative review, than so be it. Take it as constructive criticism, have a good laugh, and call it a day. If anything, it gives me an excuse to eat some ice cream.





Sunday, April 7, 2013

Only You

Before I became involved with KDP Amazon (FB relationship status=it's complicated) I would see these free books and be like, Whaaaaat?! Why are these books free? Who would do that?

This girl would, apparently.

If you're like me and are wondering why anyone would spend months or even years writing a book, only to offer it for FREE, than let me give you a bit of insight.
Some people will tell you that you should write because you love it and not for the money. But let's face it; I love to write, and I would love if it made me money. Does that make me a bad person? I don't think so. For some people, simply having their work out there is payment enough.
For people like me, offering our books for free gives us the chance to get exposure. I mean, over 1,100 people now have my book on their reading devices. This afternoon, my book was listed on the same page as The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Really?! That might just be payment enough for me.

But in the long run, the number of downloads will hopefully boost my overall sales. Hopefully the people who have downloaded it and are reading it will leave reviews, which will also boost my rankings. The thing about this writing books thing is that it depends on YOU.

 
You buy it.
You read it.
You decide if you like it.
You decide to review it.
You decide to tell your friends about it.
Unless I'm prepared to go all spammy on everyone, there's only so much I can do. If there's anything that this past week has taught me, it's that there's a lot that I can do. I will never underestimate the job of marketing. Ever. Again.

In other news, I am in the process of preparing my book for paperback! My very own copy is on it's way to my front door as we speak (or as I write.) Hopefully it'll all work out and be up for sale by the end of the month. I will surely keep you all updated on that!

Infinite thank you's to everyone for taking the time to read my words, and for offering such positive feedback. It's an awesome feeling to be told that you're good at what you love to do.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nashville Notes, Part 3

So far on the trip, we had been getting up early enough every morning for the free breakfast. Well, Wednesday was not one of those days. Hotel rooms have this thing where they stay completely pitch black, and no matter how many alarms you set, you stay asleep. For hours. And hours. And, well, you get the idea.

We figured, what the hell, took our time getting ready (aka curled our hair, picked out cute/comfortable/warm outfits) and made our way back to the neon lights district to find a place for lunch...because by the time we left the room, it was already lunch time.

The whole trip we had been using this app on our handy-dandy smartphones called UrbanSpoon, and just as usual, it took us to the best lunch place in town. If you think a grilled cheese sandwich is boring, think again. 
This was gourmet meets eight dollar price tag. It was awesome. And, on top of that, we had the best server ever. She was spunky, she was sweet, she had a southern accent, and she had served Blake Shelton more than once. Yeah, we had stars in our eyes.
After talking to her for an undisclosed amount of time, we decided to go ahead with our kind of crazy plan of making the drive to The Bluebird Cafe. If any of you have watched the show Nashville, then you'll know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, then here we go..

The Bluebird Cafe is a place for songwriters to gather and showcase their original songs. Some of them have been bought and played on the radio so many times that you and I could sing the songs by heart. Others are just starting out, but not in any way inferior to the big name guys. To get a seat in this cafe, you usually have to reserve them weeks in advance. They do have a section that is saved for first-come-first-serve, but it's full as soon as the doors are open.

Arielle, Rachelle and I showed up ten minutes before 6 and snagged the last three seats in the house. We were told that that never happens. The lights dimmed, the songwriters were introduced, and we held our breaths in anticipation. Let me tell you, The Bluebird Cafe did not disappoint.
We heard songs sung by Kenney Chesney, Randy Travis, Blake Shelton, The Band Perry....
Even the songs that hadn't been bought yet were amazing. It was magical. An experience I will never, ever, forget.

Of course, The Bluebird Cafe was followed up by another night downtown, where we ran into Utah (a girl from the bar Losers the night before) and listened to some more awesome music. But this time, the music was different. It was better. Because these guys, the nobodies giving it their all on a random stage in the middle of Nashville, they deserve the recognition. They put in the work and they have the heart.


Thursday morning followed with grunts and groans. Not only did we actually hear our alarms that morning, but it was also check-out day. You see, the plan was to leave Nashville Thursday morning and make our merry way to Memphis. It wasn't happening. There was still so much we wanted to do in Nash Vegas and anyone who was anyone told us that Nasvhille was the place to be. So we listened and went downstairs with the intentions of booking two more nights at the hotel. Except it was full.

And when we sat down at lunch (at the same restaurant as the day before) and searched the web for available hotels in the area, we came up with nothing. Nada. Zilch.
We were screwed. 
And then genius Raquel over here (that's me, guys) came up with the idea to research hostels in the Nashville area. God must have been looking out for us, because there were three. And one of them was literally around the corner from where we were. We booked the room, told them we'd be checking in at 3 p.m., and then bit our nails, because, three girls alone in a hostel? Sounds like a bad movie.

**Tune in next time for the rest of this epic story...


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Admitting Defeat

I'm going to admit something here; self-publishing is not what I thought it would be. I mean, yeah, I knew it would be work. Writing a book was work. But this, this is completely different. Self-publishing ultimately involves self-marketing, and you would not believe the time some of these authors put behind that.
I'm overwhelmed.
I'm hearing about ads and websites and giveaways and promos and other words I've never even heard. I thought I was internet savvy. I thought I could find my way around a computer easy peasy. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. 



I've had to sign up for more sites than I have in the last five years combined. My email is blowing up. In fact, I had to make a new email just for the book. There's Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Blogger, Wordpress, Google+...I could go on. I don't even know how to use Twitter, much less remember to. 

If I'm being honest with myself, I have no idea what I'm doing. Last night I spent hours reading information on buying ads, and then reading contracts for said ads. Do I buy an ad with Google? Do I buy an add with Facebook? Where can I best reach my demographic? 
So. Confused.


If only I had known these things beforehand. Not that I wouldn't have self-published, because honestly, it's nice being in control, but I just wish I was more aware of the resources out there to help self-pub authors. Because there are so many. It's mind-boggling. 

I'm admitting defeat, but I'm not giving up.
Today commences day two of non-stop research for me and cartoons for Aubrey. Wish me luck. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Writing Process

In school, the writing process was a dreaded chart that we had to fill out with lame details about some lame paper we were writing. I hated that chart. Who's with me? Hopefully you remember what I'm talking about, or else I'm preaching to no one here.



Anyways...

I've found that, even as I got older and my writing has become more my own, I still don't use any sort of writing process. I just simply write. Outlines? What's that? I get an idea in my head, and I run with it. Sometimes the path I'm taking leads me straight into a brick wall and then I have to back track. Sometimes it leads me into an open field full of flowers and I get distracted (it happens easily.) Sometimes I'm not running at all and well, it takes a lot longer to get where I'm trying to go.
But sometimes the words come, the rhythm flows, and then bam.

The character in my novel Toxic came to me a long time ago and has been simmering in the back of my sub-conscious ever since. I met a lady one day, who told me she had a daughter named Logan. Immediately, I fell in love with the name. The lady went on to tell me about how raising Logan was a battle of wills, how she had to learn to pick her fights, and how she eventually became something more than a mother; a friend, an ally when the time was right. I began thinking about how some mothers choose to pick every battle, and how some leave their children to fight their own. And that was that. It wasn't until recently that I wanted to tell my own Logan's story.

When I was nine years old, my mother became sick and spent months in and out of the hospitals with nothing to show for it but questions and pill bottles prescribed to her. The doctors finally diagnosed her with MS and we thought things would get easier; we thought we had our answers. It wasn't until I was older when I began to understand the consequences of prescription drugs. The ups and the downs, the highs and the lows. The difference between needing and wanting.
My mom was able to pull herself out of that hole. She was able to differentiate between necessity and addiction and came out better than before on the other side. Not everyone is as lucky.

Logan's journey through life with an addicted mother, and a seemingly unavoidable similar life for herself, is something that I've wanted to write about for a long time. As I wrote, Logan came to life. She made decisions, jumped to conclusions, assumed and presumed and never asked what-if. Maybe if she had, things would have ended up differently. Maybe if she would have fought, picked her battles, life wouldn't have been so hard.
But then again, everything happens for a reason, right?

And so Toxic was born and grew into what is it today. And like so many fellow authors that I've spoken to, Logan came to life for me. I hope she does for you too.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Nashville Notes, Part 2

Despite the fact that we hadn't returned to our room until almost three in the morning the previous night, Rachelle, Arielle and I were up and downstairs for breakfast on Tuesday by 9 a.m. It was free food, after all. We couldn't pass it up. Especially because we were on a budget and determined to stick to it.

After eating and returning to the room to exchange our pajamas for society-acceptable clothes, we walked outside to find that not only was it absolutely freezing, but it was also raining. Cue the moans and groans. How were we going to walk around and explore when the weather was miserable? The answer to that was that we weren't. So we settled on doing something indoors; Country Music Hall of Fame.
We set off, excited with our plans and the fact that we would be inside, where it was warm and dry. But of course, it took us forever to find the place (construction and detours= a nightmare for tourists) and then when we did find it and somewhere to park, we had to walk half a mile in the freezing rain to get there.

With our heads held low and our teeth chattering, we walked into the foyer and shook off the cold, literally and mentally. We weren't about to let the weather dampen anything but our hair, unfortunately. United under one roof were the names that had invented and changed country music. From Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash to Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift. Decades of history, three stories of information. We were there for hours. And when we left, it was still cold, but not raining. It's the small things.

Lunch at a pub downtown followed, and then we were heading back to our room to prepare for the night ahead of us. Following the suggestion of our server from the night before, we ventured into locals territory, past the flashing neon lights of downtown and into the modest buildings of Midtown, where we were forced to chose between Losers and Winners. But not before we ran through the snow flurry that had decided to show off.
Losers won, but ended up losing because they didn't serve food. The next stop was Country Cafe, because of course a cafe would have food, right? But no, they didn't either. We left with promises to return, and ventured into Winner's territory, where it was indeed a win. Live music, friend pickles and two beers later, we were headed back to Country Cafe.

Where we were greeted as if we were long lost friends.
Where the manager officially dubbed us West Palm Beach and checked every five minutes to make sure we were still there.
Where we heard, hands down, the most talented artists and wondered, why aren't they famous?
Where we sat for hours, until the last number was done and the friends we'd made invited us back to Losers with them.

The live music continued, the friend making resumed, the beer drinking waged on. We were passed from one person to another, constantly explaining that we left the warmth and sunshine willingly and, why wouldn't we come to Nashville? The night ended with hugs all around, because Tennesseans don't shake hands, and a sober goodbye to the hole-in-the-wall bar that felt just a little like home.




Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Feature Presentation

It's official. I'm famous.


Okay, maybe famous is pushing it, but I am known. Somewhat. By, like, one person in Canada, and Spain, and a few in the UK. That's close to famous, right? That's almost worldwide recognition, right?
Just kidding. I'm still just little ol' me.
BUT...My book did reach over 120 adds and 10 reviews on goodreads. That's like, huge. People like me, they really like me! Actually, they like my book, which is kind of an extension of me, so it's the same thing, right?!

Right.

So, again, thank you to everyone who has supported me. I wonder if you'll ever get tired of hearing thank you?
A very special thanks to fellow blogger and author, +Alexandra Lanc for featuring my book on her blog. If you've got the time, then check it out! If you don't have the time, check it out anyways. For me! Because I'm famous! And everyone does what famous people tell them to do!

http://wordsoftheworlds.blogspot.com/


And just in case you haven't been outside yet (guilty) it's cold! Put on a sweater! If you own one...




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nashville Notes, Part 1

 If people didn't already know we were tourists by the Florida license plate on Arielle's car, than they found out when we drove down Broadway for the first time, and Rachelle just had to stick her head out of the window and yell, NashVegas baby!
Oh, did I mention that it was below thirty degrees? And that she insisted on keeping the window down for at least fifteen seconds? It doesn't sound like very long, but it was. Florida girls=turn the heat on, full blast!

I must say, driving down that strip for the first time is something I will never forget. I mean, yeah, it's just bars and bars on deck, but it was honestly an amazing sight. Neon signs lighting up every inch of street, people from all parts of the world coming together and uniting under cowboy hats and boots, stray musicians every few feet. The three of us watched in awe, forgetting that we still had to find our hotel and were starving. 

We did find our hotel, by the way, and lucky for us, it was literally a hop and a skip away from Broadway (aka downtown.) Once again, our hotel was decent, the room was spacious, and we did not feel immediately threatened by our surroundings. After getting dressed and destroying the room, we took off for downtown. And man, those neon lights are even better when you're walking underneath them. When the people in cowboy hats are bumping into you and saying, pardon me, or holding doors open for you. And smiling. 

Our first stop of the night was at a recommended BBQ place called Rippey's. As soon as we walked in, live music and a completely full dining room greeted us. On a Monday night. It was then that we began to understand just what was in store for us. Awesomeness. 

The music was amazing. Outstanding. Beautiful. The food was simple, yet incredible. We couldn't help but eat every last bite. When we were sufficiently stuffed, we sat back, sipped our beers, and listened. I honestly don't know how long we were there, but by the end of the night, we had made friends with the son in the band, whose name was Klinton, and had invited him to go bar hopping with us. 

And bar hop, we did. I'm pretty sure we went to at least four bars just that night, and each one was more impressive than the next. We brought a little bit of West Palm Beach line dancing to each, and couldn't help but be surprised by all of the nice people. 

At the last bar, Honky Tonk Central (yes, it's called Honky Tonk Central. Awesome, right?) Arielle and I got offered jobs as accountants in Minnesota at 1:30 in the morning and we officially decided that we never wanted to leave downtown. Except that everything closes at 2, so we had to leave anyways. But it was okay, because our first night there was epic and we all decided that the only way to go from there was up.













Thanks for the pictures, Shell! :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kickin it in Knoxville

March 2nd

The drive from Athens to Knoxville was only five hours, which was infinitely better than eleven, but five hours in a car is still five hours in a car. It sucks.
We got there around 8, found a nice hotel not too far from downtown, and got ready to hit the town. Even though it was freezing. Like, ears falling off, frozen tears, freezing. But we weren't gunna let it keep us inside. We were on vacation, dammit!

Yeah, that enthusiasm didn't last long. After walking through downtown, taking pictures of the infamous Tennessee sign, and trying to decide where to eat, we were ready to just get inside.
I will never, ever, yell at another snowbird again. I now understand wanting to escape that horribleness they call winter.

Just as we were about to cross the street, into one of the places that looked more lively on that frozen Saturday night, we were stopped by a drunk college guy being herded into a car by his very sober friend. Unlike in South Florida, the guy was nice and funny, and totally not creepy. We didn't run the other way like our instincts told us to, and I'm sure glad we didn't. He was hilarious, told us we were the most beautiful girls he had ever seen, complimented Rachelle's red hair and Arielle's yellow jacket. We won't ever forget you, drunk college boy from Knoxville.

The next day consisted of exploring the town, finding apartment complexes and enjoying the rollings hills and the crisp air. Everything is just so different up there, from the people to the buildings, even the way the sun shines! (Or doesn't, lol)

That night we found an awesome brewery with the best pizza, drank my very first (and definitely not last) cider beer, played pool and darts like a bunch of boys and left Old City, Knoxville just a bit happier.

Monday was our last day there, and we decided to walk around the town while the stores were open and in doing so, we found a local radio station that played live music, for free, everyday of the week. We popped in, listened to some seriously talented artists and finally decided that West Palm Beach was just the wrong city for these music loving girls. But it was time to go. We could hear Nashville calling our names and little did we know that the best had yet to begun.




Sunday, March 3, 2013

Adventures in Athens

March 1st

The alarm clock goes off at 4:30 a.m.
You wanna know my first thought; is this what early morning looks like?

Arielle pulls in at 5 a.m. We pick up Rachelle by 5:30. Everything's going smoothly. We're right on time. Ten hours didn't seem so bad when we were two hours in, but ten hours is hell when there's only two hours left. Especially when there's stop and go traffic.
So we decide to pull into the closest hotel with the best rating. It's in the downtown Athens area, close to where we plan on spending our stay, but it's shady looking, rundown and not in that artsy vintage type of way.
The three of us walk in to pay ($62 a night; not bad, right?) and then we're on our way to our room. Except that there's no elevator, and each of us has a 50lb bag on us. But it's only on the second floor and we're not pansies, so we lug our stuff up and make it to our room in one piece, all the while hoping the room doesn't smell funny. And it doesn't, thank God. But it's gross. And there's no lock on the door.The bathroom is barely big enough to sit in and the shower is non-existant. But there's a large flat-screen TV so HALLELUJAH. Just kidding. We booked it outta there faster than you can say bless your heart. 
The lady gave us a refund without question, in fact looking relieved that we were leaving. That solidified our decision.
Until we drove down the road and stopped at a much nicer looking Holiday Inn, and the front desk receptionist proceeded to tell us that there were no rooms available at any hotel in Athens. "There's a school convention," she told us. Of course.
Finally, after honing my skills of persuasion, we managed to snag a room at a decent Days Inn.

The smell of a hundred wildflower fields hit us like a brick wall upon walking into our room.
"They're trying to hide something," Arielle said.
Hungry and desperate to walk around, we got back in the car and went downtown to find some food. But it was only 38 degrees outside, and these Florida girls were not prepared.
It gave us an excuse to walk into any open building, which led us to find some pretty cool places.
We ate at the best mexican restaurant ever. (How is it that Georgians do Mexican better than we do?)
Had classic lemon drop shots at the Georgia Bar. Played pool at the Boar's Head Lounge.
Made up fake names and fake occupations at Whiskey Bent.
It was a successful night in downtown Athens.

Back at the hotel, the smell of flowers is gone, replaced by a totally different kind of plant smell- marijuana. I swear we were getting second-hand high from our neighbors.
And to make matters worse, they decided to let us know how much they loved each other.
Nothing a little bit of banging on the wall on our part didn't fix.

The next day consisted of walking from the hotel back to downtown, finding some really cool shops and really nice people, and the best fried chicken and collard greens in the south.
We were back on the road by 3 p.m. and headed to Knoxville.

Despite the cold, Athens melted our hearts.