Worth 1000 Words #6: Leon

My first car was a navy blue ’02 Subaru Legacy, purchased with 148,000 miles on it. I was 17 years old and absolutely terrified of driving on the highway (still am, for the record), but regardless, I was ready to (slowly) hit the road.

And boy, I loved that car. I named him Leon, because all cars must have names. I actually got the name “Leon” from the main character of Final Fantasy VIII, Squall Leonhart, my favorite all-time FF character. Leon the Legacy was his full name, but I usually called him by his stage name – Leyonce. This post shall be an ode to Leon.

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Now, I did not get my learner’s permit or license until well after most of my friends had already acquired wheels and the means to use them. This is largely because I was terrified of driving. When I was still learning how to drive, I took my mom’s Ford Escape around our neighborhood at 15mph, constantly asking, “Am I going too fast? AM I?” I also cried during my driver’s test because the instructor yelled at me, and I’m like, 43% sure he only passed me because he felt bad.  That should give you some idea of what sort of driver I was at the start of my driving career.

But soon, I had Leon.

I did not have him an exceptionally long time, but Leon got me through a lot, helped me overcome some of my driving inhibitions, and was with me during my first forays into the world of adulthood. I only got a car because I needed one to go to college in a state six hours away from home, since I didn’t live on campus and needed a way to get to class and my part-time job – and Leon was the best first car I could have ever asked for.

I believe I suffer from some sort of driving dyslexia, because, while I am not a good driver in general, it’s mostly because I am not good at all with directions. Two months ago I had to use my GPS to get home from the same doctor’s office I’ve been going to for like, eight years. I don’t know what it is, but when I’m behind the wheel, I am utterly useless at finding my way anywhere. It’s a miracle I even make it to work.

Leon is the first car I braved the highway with. I have fond memories of driving on the Mass Pike by myself for the first time, eschewing a panic attack, and having to climb out of the car to get my ticket at the station because I couldn’t reach it through the window. A 20 minute trip turned into 2 hours; and that’s not including the return journey, which included trauma I won’t go into. But I had Leon; my navy blue security blanket with all-wheel drive. I made it safely home, despite my struggles, thanks to him.

Late night heart-to-hearts with friends, parked at a curb in our tiny PA town. Driving up to the highest residential point in the area to look out on the city below. Venturing home from work after a snowstorm and skidding straight through a red light at a four-way intersection, screaming bloody murder all the while. My first road trip, from PA to MA, where I didn’t have to trade the wheel off until CT, when I was fighting to ward off sleep. Crossing state lines to play laser-tag (medieval style) for my 20th birthday, and jamming out to the Backstreet Boys on our way back to campus.

Leon’s demise came in 2014, after two head gasket replacements in a one year span. The first one made my wallet weep, but I understood why it was necessary, as Leon was 12 and things were starting to get worn out. After the repair was finished, I assumed all was well for the time being. So, I was driving around for a while (as in, for months) before I started to smell something burning every time I drove. A mechanic told me it was my oil pan, so I shelled out money for a “used” oil pan, then when that didn’t fix the problem, they took another, closer look. I was told that I needed another head gasket, and that I shouldn’t have been driving with my car in such a condition, because it could have broken down at any moment. Apparently, the first one wasn’t installed properly, or whatever – which made me lose a lot of confidence in said mechanic. Needless to say, I got another new head gasket. For free.

Sadly, though he seemed to be mostly okay after the second repair, this incident basically showed me that Leon was now costing more to maintain than he was worth. Every time I took him in for an inspection, there was something wrong with him – and it was never something that was easy or inexpensive to fix. I was forking over hundreds of dollars for a car that experienced constant issues, so, in the late summer of 2014, I decided that it was time to let Leon go and get a new car.

I found a used Nissan that I liked, and it was time to say goodbye to Leon. Before I traded him in, I took the time to clean everything out. The frisbees in my trunk, which I kept because you never know when you’ll need a frisbee. My emergency bag, complete with emergency granola bars and emergency change of clothes and emergency toothbrush. Countless poptart wrappers (it’s an addiction, don’t judge me). A surplus of CD’s, chronicling my taste in music over the years; from J-Pop to film scores to Swedish metal. Approximately 47 half-filled water bottles.

Once all my things were cleared out, I handed the keys to the dealer, and my trusty Subaru either went off to auction or was sold to someone new. It was difficult to say goodbye, but no matter what I’m driving, I’ll always have fond memories of Leon.

The 3 Happy Things Journal

I have never been a “journal” person. Not because I don’t like to journal, but because I always tumble into the “I’ll do it later” mentality and fall off the routine. In an effort to be a more positive and appreciative person, I decided to give journaling another go at the start of 2016. But instead of daily entries detailing events or pondering my existence, I wrote down at least 3 “happy” things that happened over the course of the day.

I’ll admit, I slacked a bit during the holidays, so I ended up cramming a few days at a time toward the end, but on the whole, I managed to stay consistent in my journal efforts for the first time.

1/11/16 – CORN MUFFINS
1/26/16 – Orchard Skittles and reclining movie theater seats.
2/5/16 – Mac n’ cheese absolutely MURDERED my cramps.
2/18/16 – Went through a car wash without suffering a panic attack.
3/2/16 – MANUSCRIPT DONE AND SENT! AHHHHH!
3/10/16 -Made the cashier at a gas station laugh.
4/10/16 – Discovered Would I Lie To You? reruns on Youtube.
4/26/16 – Survived a day with no coffee.
5/5/16 – Captain America: Civil War was awesome, and the Winter Soldier is FINE.
5/27/16 – Two-story Barnes & Noble in NYC, A.K.A, heaven.
5/28/16 – Steve Martin playing the banjo at the intermission of Bright Star.
6/10/16 – Cereal. I just really love cereal.
6/20/16 – New shampoo smells great.
7/10/16 – Mom, Dad, and I driving around to all  Pokestops in the area.
7/20/16 – So cool to see the format of my book.
8/8/16 – Got to watch a beautiful sunrise.
8/26/16 – Stayed up until 2AM reading and finished two books in one day.
9/30/16 – MY BOOK WAS RELEASED ON AMAZON!!! AHHH!!!
10/1/16 – MY BOOK WAS RELEASED AT BN.COM!!! AHHH!!!
10/6/16 – First person told me they like my book!
11/9/16 – Solidarity, unity, and determination.
11/27/16 – Killed a fly with my ninja skills.
12/16/168 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown reruns. I AM ADDICTED.
12/25/16 – Held my baby cousin for the first time.
12/26/16 – Giveaway ended with 1,202 entries.
12/29/16 – Burritos with friends, catching up for 4 hours.

2016, on the whole, was not a great year, but looking back through my journal has reminded me that there was at least a little bit of good to be found in each day. A small bit of sun to part the dismal clouds. Sometimes (and by sometimes, I mean frequently) the “good things” were something as small as “Chinese food for dinner!” or “Had a great workout today.” There were multiple days where I wrote basically the same thing; some variation of “good workout, work was okay, got some editing/writing done.” It is also alarming how many times I wrote about coffee, pizza, starting a book, and getting to sleep on time. Mundane things, maybe, but I’ve found there’s nothing wrong with thinking the “boring” things are positive.

There were some not so good days in there, too. On June 7th, I only wrote one thing down: nothing. Implying that nothing good happened the entire day. But looking back on it now, I don’t remember what made that day so bad, so really, it must not have been as awful as I thought at the time. That’s not to say that bad things should be ignored, because they shouldn’t. Bad things are a part of life, and they must be acknowledged, but they should not conquer all else.

The year might not have been great, but despite the bad things that happened, there are tiny pinpricks of light that make the bad far less bleak, even if it’s something as small as “Corn muffins!” I only intended to keep this journal for a year, sort of as an experiment, but I’m going to keep going into 2017, and probably beyond. There are a lot of blank pages left in my Happy Things journal, and I look forward to filling them.

Worth 1000 Words #5: Our Little Life

In the late spring of 2014, I got to visit every English major’s dream locale; Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

I have actually been lucky enough to visit a few literature-based landmarks on my ventures across the pond, including the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens (Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie is one of my all-time favorite novels,) the infamous Platform 9 and 3/4 (though the ‘4’ had partially worn off when I went, so it was more like Platform 9 and 3/1… so Platform 12, I guess,) and the Jane Austen house in Bath. Stateside, I actually attended university in the same city where Dr. Seuss lived, and have seen many tributes to his works, including the famed Mulberry Street. The only place on my list I have left to visit is NZ (Hobbiton and such) and Tolkien’s grave in Oxford, which I did not have time to visit when I was there the last time.

But visiting Stratford is a different experience – more definitive, more meaningful. Because this is Shakespeare, we’re talking about. The MAN. The LEGEND. The BARD.

There is, undoubtedly, a reason that Shakespeare stands virtually unparalleled as perhaps the greatest wordsmith in history. Someone might personally find his writing boring or dull, his poems too florid, his histories tedious, his tragedies overly dramatic. I am especially fond of Richard III, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Much Ado About Nothing, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see All’s Well That Ends Well at the Globe Theater in London, plus I adore all of his poetry that I’ve read, and his sonnets are brilliant. However, I would be lying if I said that I like all of his works.

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The OJ and scones at this place are the bomb, btw.

I am not a big
Richard II fan, for instance, and I’ve struggled with reading some of his works in the past, so I guess I’ll never earn a true membership to the Shakespeare fan club.
But regardless of personal opinion, it’s impossible to deny that his influence has left a lasting impression on the literary world. The man paved the way for future literary giants and created stories, characters, words, and plots that continue to color and impact the writing of others to this day, centuries later. His works, from his sonnets to his plays, are still taught because of how dynamic, malleable, and utterly powerful they are, and there are hundreds of adaptations and versions of his work out there for consumption, a testament to his genius. His legacy has endured, and will likely continue to endure, for as long as writers and readers find something resonant in his words, and I wholly believe literature would not be what it is today without him. Besides, we have good ol’ Willie to thank for the words “besmirched,” “dwindle,” and perhaps most importantly,”hobnob.”

Sadly, I was on a time limit when I visited the Shakespeare house in Stratford, but for the brief time I was there, I got to experience quite a bit. Some actors put on a passage of a play (I believe A Midsummer Night’s Dream) for us while we snacked on scones and champagne/OJ, then we got to free-roam around the garden outside and tour the actual house at our leisure, as long as we met at the designated meeting place on time. I also might have shoved a gaggle of rambunctious French schoolchildren out of the way for a photo of Shakespeare’s cradle, but hey, my options were limited. Pardonne moi wasn’t working, their teacher wasn’t wrangling them in, and I wasn’t about to let them stand in my way of that photo op. I also procured a book of sonnets from the gift shop to add to my shelf, right next to my mini-edition of Romeo and Juliet that I bought at the Globe.

Before our tour group departed Stratford, so we could then head off to Bath and Stonehenge by way of the Cotswolds, I got to take a photo (see above) outside of the house. My dad took the photo, and he did not know how to use the zoom on my camera, so that’s why it looks like it was taken from a distance. And I had to crop some obnoxious kids out of the frame. But looking at the photo now, and recalling my visit to the birthplace of the Bard, I have a new perspective.

Being there, and learning about Shakespeare’s life, writings, and his massive accomplishments… it made me feel quite small. Not in a bad way, though. It’s not like I had an existential crisis about my mortality and my writing ability, bemoaning that I’ll never be as talented or leave an untouchable legacy as influential as Shakespeare. Because let’s face it; no one’s ever gonna do that, and for good reason. But that doesn’t mean that such efforts are wasted; that attempts to create beauty are all for naught, when such great lofty heights are impossibly distant. Creativity comes in various forms – small, large, far-reaching, close to the heart.

In this universe, we are all small. But being small isn’t so terrible, especially in a world as immense as ours; in fact, one might say that this great world consists of small things and would not exist without them. Though we may be small, everyone is capable of greatness in some capacity. As the Bard would say,”All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” If we are all players, not everyone will have the same role to play in their life; the spotlight might shine on a deserving star, while someone else is more suited to a side role, or even relegated to the stage crew. But in your own life, your own little life, you have the main role – and the stage is yours. Your role is what you make of it and your path is yours to forge, in your own life and on the world’s stage.

ADDITIONAL NEWS:

I’m currently running a giveaway for my YA novel, I’m With You, on Goodreads! Enter HERE for your chance to win one of five print copies!

Writing Techniques: Character Names

Minor/minimal spoilers ahead.

Like a lot of authors/writers, I prefer to give my characters unique names – and I often choose names with particular meanings. This is not the case for all names I choose, as some are just selected by random, but most of the names I pick have a specific meaning and purpose.

My main technique is to browse name websites. I have three sites that I use the most frequently, and they are:

Nameberry.com
Behindthename.com
20000-names.com

The last one is the one I use the most, but the other two sites are also incredibly helpful. Usually, I’ll try to filter through names by their meanings or by their origin, depending on which character I’m deciding a name for. Sometimes I just want a name that starts with a particular letter, or consists of only a particular amount of letters, and I narrow them down from there. It can be a tedious process, but it’s better to put the work in than to settle.

My other method is using Google Translate and indifferentlanguages.com. This can often be far more involved, but for this technique, I look up different words in various languages and either morph them into something that sounds like a name, or I fuse two/multiple words together. I’m currently working on a fantasy project and this method works for that kind of story, but might not work for a more “realistic” setting and purpose. For example, if you were creating a name for a character and wanted the name to mean “strong” and “fire,” you can take the Japanese word for “strong,” which is tsuyoi, and the Maltese word for “fire,” which is nar, and you get Tsunar. I prefer using this method to craft surnames as opposed to first names, and I also google the names I come up with just to make sure I haven’t accidentally “created” a swear word or offensive term, or inadvertently stolen an already well-known name.

In regards to the characters in I’m With You, there is only one name I wish I had changed prior to publication, and that is Ciarán. I wouldn’t actually change his name though; just the spelling. I would have gone with Kiran or Kieran, only because it’s easier to pronounce – I actually had to google the proper pronunciation of Ciarán when I decided on it, which should have been an indication that switching it might be wise. But regardless, I chose the name because it means “little dark one,” and Ciarán has dark hair – and it initially caught my eye after I saw the actor Ciarán Hinds in a movie. Simple enough.

Remiel is a modification of the name “Ramiel,” who is one of the seven archangels. I am admittedly not well educated in religious terminology, but some translations have the name meaning “thunder of God,” and I’ve also seen “mercy of God.” Ramiel is apparently described as both an angel of “hope” and is associated with another “divine” characteristic (don’t want to reveal too much), which I thought were fitting to Remiel’s character.

Ramus means “branch” and can also refer to a “portion of bone.” I came up with this name YEARS before the book was even written. He (and many of the other characters in I’m With You) were created back when IWY was a significantly different story, but when the plot changed to become what it is today, his name stuck. Because he is a character that provides support to many other characters, I thought “branch” was a solid meaning. Plus I liked the sound of it, and I wanted “Ram” as a nickname. He narrowly avoided being renamed “Ramsay,” but I didn’t think it suited him.

Valkyrie’s name is obviously chosen from the war goddesses featured in Norse mythology, and though it is traditionally a feminine name/term, I thought it fit him well. It is also derived from a word that means “chooser of the slain,” and though I often toyed with changing his name to something else, I could never come up with one that I felt happy with. I’m glad I kept it in the end.

Camilla’s name means “acolyte” or something similar, but can also mean “noble.” Her character underwent some changes in personality/demeanor as the plot of IWY shifted, and as such, her name doesn’t fit quite as well as I typically prefer, but I liked the name enough to keep it for her regardless. The Basshunter song “Camilla” might have played a part in this, as well, because I was a big fan of the song back when IWY was in early planning stages.

Kaz’s name (somewhat ironically) means “peacemaker.” To avoid potential spoilers, I won’t go into detail, but there is a specific reason for this choice which should be clear to those who have read the novel. Also, it’s a little tongue in cheek due to the fact that “making peace” is certainly not his priority when he makes his first appearance.

Mitzi is the name of a dog my mom owned during her childhood. I just like the name, to be honest. There was no deeper meaning, but the name apparently can mean either “Wished-for-child,” or “bitter/rebellion,” which is a pretty significant contrast, and thus fitting for Mitzi’s personality, so I suppose it worked out well.

Kia’s name is actually a play on the term K.I.A, which means Killed in Action, and it also means “season’s beginning” or “hill.” Kia and Kaz were originally intended to be twins (and both were meant to be villains) way back in the preliminary stages of planning, so that is why both of their names start with “K” and are the same amount of letters. Berach means “pointed” or “sharp,” which was meant to indicate that despite the fact that he’s big and silent and more likely to follow orders than to make his own plans, his skills are not to be underestimated. Dahlia is, of course, a reference to the flower. Markone is just an invented name, as far as I know – it might be a real name, but I did not intend for it to have  a specific meaning. Maverick, however, means “noncomformist” and “independent,” which certainly suited his character, even though he is mainly referred to by his surname.

As for the secondary characters, Dianna’s name is a reference to Roman goddess Diana, and it means “heavenly” or “divine.” If you’ve read the novel, I hope you will understand my choice there. Ernest means “serious; determined,” and Neima means “strong” or “pleasant.” Eliron means “My God is song.” Zoran means “dawn” or “daybreak” and Lunette is a reference to the moon, as their names are intended to complement one another. Cinderflynn’s name is probably the most unusual, and one of the exceptions to my self-imposed “names should have meanings” rule. I hate to shatter this grandiose illusion, but “Cinderflynn” is a combination of “Cinder,” as in Cinderella, and “Flynn,” which is a reference to… Kevin Flynn from Tron. What can I say? I love Tron.

And that covers most of it! If you have difficulty coming up with names for your characters and are looking for a new strategy, you could give one of these methods a try… it might work for you, too.

Let Go

The other night, while watching The Graham Norton Show, I decided to heat up a mug of milk in the microwave in order to make some hot cocoa. With marshmallows, of course; I’m not a savage.

As it turns out, the mug I was using – a BB8-themed Star Wars mug – doesn’t work like most of the other mugs in my collection. Typically, I don’t have to worry about the mug getting too hot because the handle doesn’t heat up in conjunction with the rest of the mug. Therefore, I can usually grab the mug with my bare hand and it won’t burn me, even after being in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. But I must be a novice when it comes to mug dynamics, because with this particular mug, the handle did, in fact, heat up.

Unaware of this fact, I grabbed the mug with my bare hand and lifted it out of the microwave. While the mug was clutched in my hand, suspended in midair, searing pain surged through my fingers. My first instinct was to tighten my hold on the handle, which only made the burning worse. By that point, I had two options. Either let the mug continue to burn me as I set it safely down on the counter-top, or drop it, likely break it, and save my poor hand from continued suffering.

In this particular instance, I chose to bite back an agonized squeal and set the mug carefully on the counter. Mercifully, I managed to get my hand under some cool water and there wasn’t a lasting, significant burn; it just stung for a bit afterward. The eventually finished cocoa did help soothe the pain, in that regard.

But sometimes, things don’t work the way they’re meant to. Hot cocoa cups get too hot to hold and fingers get hurt in the process. And sometimes, it’s okay to let go.

I mean, the whole mug situation aside, letting go isn’t always a bad thing. “Letting go” doesn’t have to equate with “giving up” – I mean sure, sometimes it does mean that, and people let go or give up for no good reason at all. However, there doesn’t have to be shame in recognizing when something just isn’t going to work, especially if, in the long term, it’s only going to cause harm or further difficulty. Letting go might result in shards of glass scattered on the floor or a puddle of hot milk at your feet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a proper solution if it’s done within reason, like to prevent something worse.

I am, generally, a proponent of honoring commitments, and following through on any sort of project or task that I’ve set out to do – and, often, it is best to see those obligations through. But there are a handful of times where things got tough, situations shifted, circumstances changed, and I would have been better off dropping something rather than seeing it through to the end. Take my high school AP Government class, for example; I took it because history is usually a strong subject for me, but it was insanely difficult, I didn’t understand a lot of it, I barely scraped a B, my stress levels skyrocketed, and I didn’t even bother taking the AP test at the end of the year because I knew I wouldn’t score high enough to earn credit. Pride be damned, I should have dropped down to a non-AP class and it would have saved me a lot of time and frustration.

And while sometimes the “correct” solution is only made clear through hindsight, other times, it is obvious when something isn’t working, and it can’t be helped in the end. Sometimes, consistent hard work won’t earn the desired results. In those cases, what else can you do but let go, when continuing on will only make matters worse?  Letting go doesn’t have to mean giving up – and often, it can even take more courage to let go than it does to persevere.

Hoppy Halloween

During my childhood, my mother was a master at creating Halloween costumes for my sister and I to wear for our annual Halloween Party at school and trick-or-treating excursions.

My earliest recollection is having twin bunny costumes. I was a white bunny, and my sister was a pink bunny. We were, in a word, adorable. A couple of years later, my sister was Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I was a cow. In third grade, I was a zebra, and I loved the costume so much that I was a zebra again the next year. Fifth grade, I was a wolf. You might be sensing a theme with my costumes, which was broken in sixth grade, when I was Paul Revere, colonial hat and all. Long story. Most recently, I don my Batman mask whenever I participate in Halloween activities. I also have the proper pieces for a makeshift panda costume but so far, the opportunity hasn’t presented itself.

My costume from second grade, however, was the highlight of my repertoire. I told my mom what I wanted to be, then she made the pattern, got all the materials, and crafted a true masterpiece.

I was a kangaroo.

I’ll say this up front; no photographic evidence exists of this costume. At least, none that I’ve been able to scrounge up, and this was back in the olden days before cell phone cameras. But you’ll have to take my word for it; this costume was bomb. Besides, how many kids do you see walking around in kangaroo costumes during Halloween? These days, it’s mostly Marvel characters, Pokemon, and whatever Disney Princess is “in.” I think I counted twenty Elsas walking around my neighborhood last year.

Anyway, I was extremely pleased with the kangaroo costume. My mom did an amazing job. I couldn’t manage a satisfactory Australian accent, but whatever. I was seven.

I couldn’t wait to show off my costume at the Halloween Party at my elementary school. I was absolutely certain that, at the very least, I wouldn’t have to deal with a doppelganger situation, because I highly doubted that someone else in the K-3rd grade had the same costume idea. And I was correct – not only was I the only kangaroo, I was the only marsupial! Score!

The party proceeded like normal. I hung out with some friends, probably talked about Pokemon cards or Sailor Moon or whatever was cool back then (Tomogatchis, maybe? I think they were a thing in 2000? Was Yu-Gi-Oh around yet?) but I also spent a significant portion of the late afternoon (the older kids got to have an evening party held after ours) avoiding people in costumes that I thought were frightening. Someone in an alien costume kept following me around, so I had to pick up my tail and sprint away to avoid them. I found out later it was one of my friends who just wanted to tell me they thought my costume was cool, but my paralyzing fear of aliens wouldn’t permit me to return the sentiment. At this time in my life, I was also terrified of people in ‘Scream’ costumes, and there were a couple of them at the party, even though I doubt any of my classmates had even seen Scream because we were all under 10. It doesn’t affect me now, but back then, just seeing those masks freaked me out, and I was hyper-aware of them throughout the entire party.

Near the end of the party, the “DJ” hired for the event (it may have just been a parent volunteer, I’m not sure) got onstage to announce the winners of the “costume contest.” I didn’t even know there was a costume contest, so I wasn’t really paying attention. Knowing me, I was probably stuffing my face with M&M’s. They are my kryptonite.

However, I was sucked back to reality when the DJ announced that the winner of the contest was “The Kangaroo!” Everyone around me started clapping and ushering me toward the stage, but seven year old me didn’t quite comprehend what was happening, so I got up onstage looking completely perplexed, and I’m pretty sure I was holding my tail in one hand like a security blanket. The DJ said something to me, or maybe he asked me a question, the details are all a bit fuzzy. I was suffering from severe stage-fright and I don’t think I said anything back. I remember standing up there, staring out at a sea of monsters and fiends and Disney princesses, and the DJ presented me with a plastic pumpkin full of candy corn as my prize for winning the contest. I actually held onto the plastic pumpkin for a few years after that. It was an effective storage container.

I shuffled offstage to a burst of applause, and the party resumed. My friends all crowded around me and we shared the candy corn. I don’t even like candy corn all that much, but this memory is a fond one, regardless.

I’m not a Halloween person, these days — and, admittedly, I haven’t put much effort in over the past few years. This year I’m not celebrating in any fashion, and don’t even have an opportunity to don a costume. But thinking back to that amazing kangaroo costume makes me smile. I’m sure many people have memories like that, of a costume that was particularly special, or one massive haul of the best kind of candy, or a trip to a haunted house/ themed attraction that was super terrifying.

Even if some Halloweens turn out to be a dud (like Charlie Brown and his infamous “I got a rock” trick-or-treat excursion) I’ll always have one special, hoppy Halloween.

 

 

Font Snob

WARNING: If you are easily offended by the unfavorable discussion of various fonts, and would prefer not to see insults slung about different types of fonts, please be mindful that no actual offense is intentional on my part, and this post is purely my opinion.

When the person in charge of formatting my novel asked me to choose which font I wanted to use for the final version, I came to a realization.

I am a font snob.

Now, when it comes to handwriting, I have absolutely zero room to criticize. My handwriting looks like the scrawl of a child using their non-dominant hand. In fact, I don’t think my handwriting has changed significantly since I was in kindergarten; it just got smaller. If my handwriting were to become a font, known as the Frosty font (no, I’ve never once thought this out, I assure you…) it would be near illegible and extremely hideous. However, I don’t mess around with fonts.

Thankfully, when it came to my novel, I was presented with two choices; garamond and caslon. Both excellent fonts, if you ask me. Classy, smooth, readable, pleasing to the eye. I went with caslon, but only after conducting a facebook poll to see which one my friends/family preferred, because really, is there any other way to make a decision these days?

Honestly, I think there are a few fonts that most folks can universally agree are pretty vile. Comic sans is only okay when used ironically. Wingdings (versions 1-3) is complete nonsense. I can think of literally no occasion where papyrus is appropriate unless you are actually scribbling a message on a papyrus scroll to send to a pharaoh or whatever. Jokerman? It’s a joke, man.

But my gripes exceed the typical. First of all, do not even get me started on calibri. I am anti all default fonts; it’s the first thing I change when I open up a fresh document. I don’t even like Times New Roman, THERE I SAID IT. Arial is awful to look at, as are any and all perma-bold fonts, like Impact. I think any font meant to emulate the appearance of handwriting or cursive, like freestyle or mistral, can burn in eternal fire.

Essentially, I can narrow down my favorite fonts to a select few. The true elites. The fonts that combine all the requirements necessary for a good reading and writing experience; readability, pleasing aesthetic, smoothness, among others.

Georgia is a good, solid font, as is Verdana. They are reliable — the fonts you can call when your car breaks down on the highway and no matter what time, day or night, they will come and assist you. Or they’ll call AAA, whichever. Century is underrated, but another fine choice — it’s kind of basic, like a default font, but it has a little bit of a flair to it, which makes it distinct. Sylfaen is much the same. It’s kind of a unicorn font; not common, a bit mystical, and a visual stunner. Tahoma is a borderline font and I go back and forth with it, but I know it would serve as an effective lifeboat on a sea of comic sans and papyrus.

Now, my personal favorite, the font of all fonts, is Book Antiqua. I used to type all homework assignments and still type all of my drafts in Book Antiqua, then swap it to TNR when I send them off. To me, it is the god of fonts. The chosen font. The Neo of fonts.

I know, I know. Book Antiqua looks boring. And maybe it is. But when it comes to fonts, you really don’t want flashy, loud, or distracting, except in specific cases where the font is mean to look a certain way. Writing is supposed to be about the content of the writing, not what the words look like. Imagine if Hemingway had written The Old Man and the Sea in pristina. You’d barely be able to read it! You’d never know if he catches the fish or not!

Choosing a font is difficult because there are so many factors to consider, but really, it all boils down to what should be the most important thing; the writing itself. A lot of fonts may look cool and edgy, but that’s not what the focus should be on. So maybe I’m a little old-fashioned and overly picky (seriously, keep arial AWAY FROM ME) but honestly, I pick my fonts based on what I believe looks good and flows well across a page.

Though I do wonder if anyone else feels the way I do about fonts… or maybe it’s just me?Maybe I’ll even type my next draft in Jokerman. Who knows? (Spoiler: I won’t)