Friday, December 30, 2016

With Dreams So Powerful

I woke up this morning from a dream not with a yawn or a stretch, but with tears running down my face. The dream made me angry, sad, hurt, and confused. When you have dreams as powerful as that, there's no way to avoid your emotions.

Last night, I struggled to actually sleep. I tossed and turned, awoken every hour due to pain. A customer jokingly said to me yesterday that he didn't want to live beyond forty, that it's all downhill from there. I didn't want to tell him that I haven't reached thirty yet, and my last year of my twenties has been awful health wise. This is probably why you should never joke about their being an age where things start to go wrong, because on the surface level, I look healthy. I feel healthy, mentally. That's saying something, because I battled anxiety and depression for a long time.

The dream I had right before I woke up for what felt like the tenth time was one where I was struggling to walk. All of the muscles in my back had tightened again, leaving me helpless. It was the same pain I had that made me go to the hospital, and here I was, reliving it again in a dream. I was walking on the road, determined to make it to the doctor's office, when I collapsed. It was so icy that I slid into a snowbank, freezing, cold, and angry. I started to cry as people stopped and tried to help me.

Those tears followed me into real life, along with some tension pain in my back.

I believe this is a dream about my pent up feelings. I've been putting on a show, much like Michael C. Hall's character in the first episode of Six Feet Under, which I just started watching. I've been frustrated and angry with my body, but I've also been frustrated with not being able to get proper care. I haven't voiced it. I haven't gotten angry. I've been calm and said, "Oh, you know, I'm in pain. It's cool." I've been playing it of like it's no big deal, but really, I'm screaming inside.

When I went to the ER in so much pain that I couldn't stand or sit without assistance, I was given pain killers, a shot of ibuprofen, and sat around for six hours. It's not the hospital's fault that I was one of many people who needed care that day. But I ended up leaving, getting discharged without seeing a doctor or getting X-rays. For all I know, there could still be something wrong with my spine.

Since my primary care doctor recently left my network and my health insurance is switching to a new network on January 1, there was no point in seeing a primary care doctor now to have the X-ray ordered, to bring to a new PCP in January. So I've been waiting.

And waiting on a health issue because of this sucks. We should have never privatized the healthcare system.

So yeah, I'm screaming on the inside.

I say, however, that I am mentally healthy, because I'm also keeping it together better than I did when I was younger. I'm trying to smile despite the pain. I've either been socially trained to have more poise, or I just gained it over time.

Instead of wallowing, I've been making a bullet journal, planning for the future, and getting excited about next year. I have publishing plans, I have blogging plans, I have long-term goals I'm working toward. There's plenty of awesome things on the horizon. I just need to get through a few more days, and then I can get everything properly evaluated.

While I might be screaming on the inside, I'm transferring that anger and aggression into something good. I'm creating a planner for things to come. I'm being as creative as I can be while taking my health into consideration. And at this particular moment, Munster is sitting in my lap keeping my warm. I can't possibly complain about that.

YA Gets Real: Don't Go Inside the House

The lone house loomed at the end of the street, dark and foreboding. Night crept around the car's headlights, trying to shut off what little light illuminated the front of the building. As Trevor cut the engine, a crow cawed in the distance.

"This doesn't look anything like the brochure." Katie held up the bed and breakfast pamphlet, one that promised pampering and relaxation. She glanced between the brochure and the house. The sign that hung on rusted nails came loose at that moment, and half of it fell in a pendulum arc, swaying back and forth to the breeze.

"Yeah," Trevor said, holding his gaze steady on the house. He wouldn't claim to be afraid of whatever was inside, not in front of the girl he was trying to impress, but he also didn't want to step foot inside the house.

The wooden paneling was a gray, faded from the bright white that the pictures of it reflected in its glory days. The paint was chipped and peeled, flaking off in the least bit of wind. Each window was smeared and tarnished with years of grime, unknown in origin. The porch held a single rocking chair, one that eerily tilted with the wind, creaking all the way.

"Maybe ..." Katie let her voice trail off as she stuffed the brochure back in the glove compartment. "Maybe we shouldn't go inside?" She rubbed her arms, trying to stop the goosebumps from forming on her skin.

"I mean, it doesn't look anything like the advertisement." Playing it cool, Trevor tapped his fingers on the wheel. "If you want, I mean, we could ..." He shifted his gaze to Katie, hoping she would tell him to get out of there.

Katie took another look at the house. The roof hanging over the porch seemed ready to collapse on itself. Curiosity had run through her, but she didn't like the looks of those steps. If something happened to her already sprained ankle, she could be looking at sitting out the rest of field hockey season.

Just then, a small flicker of a light danced in one of the upper rooms. The couple blinked and leaned forward, trying to get a better look, but the house offered no answers. The yellow glow eased in and out of existence, almost like it wasn't real.

"We probably shouldn't go investigate," Trevor said. To heck with trying to appear cool, he had no desire to die at this old house.

"No, you're right. This place gives me the creeps." Katie squeezed Trevor's arm. "Hey, look." She held her phone up to him, and he was momentarily blinded by the blue glow. "I found a place with better reviews. Want to go?"

"Sure," Trevor said, turning the car around.

For the seventh time this month, the spirit was annoyed that social media existed. The ghost sighed. Someday, maybe, someone's phone would fail and leave them with no other option than to go inside.

- - -

These posts are silly, parody posts of some scenes that can be found in YA tropes intended to make you smile for your weekend. I adore YA books, as a reader and a writer. These stories are fiction, but provide a possible alternative to scenes from stories we love.

Titles I enjoyed where the MC does investigate (linked images):

Monday, December 26, 2016

Managing Mischief

I think about when I was younger and how, for the most part, I was a fairly well behaved kid. It wasn't because my parents were huge disciplinarians, but because of self-regulation. I felt a tremendous amount of guilt whenever I did anything relatively "bad" or "destructive." The guilt was crippling. A tingling feeling would invade the base of my neck and travel up to my brain, numbing me from the inside out with a painful coldness. Nausea would flood my stomach. I'd be paralyzed, my mind a record repeating the one thing I did wrong over and over.

It was the same feeling I had during the beginnings of a panic attack. Needless to say, young me avoided this feeling like the plague.

I wonder, however, how I came to admire the kinds of characters that I did. I fell in love with Dallas from The Outsiders, thinking of him as a tragic hero. I adored Harry Potter, who wouldn't listen to the rules so long as it meant keeping his friends safe. He was a hero in more ways than one.

Most of the heroes that I read in YA literature have some sort of rebellious nature. What makes them a hero? Doing something heroic, sticking to their guns no matter what? None of them deal with getting caught or the guilt that comes thereafter. If they do get captured, the last thing they are thinking is I should feel guilty about this. No, they do what they have to do.

Though, these heroes are generally not dealing with the mundane, but with tyrants, corrupt governments, and supernatural creatures.

There wasn't a tyrannical government when I was growing up, and there certainly wasn't magic (or maybe I just never received an owl letter). The friends I did have, we had to carve out our own lives. I think self-regulation through guilt forced me into finding different ways to enjoy life. Instead of combating evil, I read. I snowboarded. I wrote. I played games. I drank tea. For a while, I knitted.

I won't get into all the times I spent bored out of my mind or staring vacantly into the distance like a cinematic overly dramatized moment of a slightly depressed teenager (but that happened too).

Because there were not a lot of heroic deeds I could do (at least not the kind we read about), I became the kind of girl who went to parties. But because I wasn't the "party-type," I would grab a single drink and nurse it while having one intense conversation with someone in the corner. I was the kind of girl who wanted to be surrounded by people, be a part of a community, but was terrified to actually get involved (What if they don't like me? What if I'm not cool enough? What if I say the wrong thing?).

Today, I still avoid mischief. Instead, I live out mischief and drama through my writing. Sometimes, the scenes my characters live through are more real than my own memories. Perhaps that's because we change our memories every time we access them, but that's for a different blog post.

So today, I'll sit down and create more mischief. My characters in The Mundane List are almost at the end of their journeys. I always stall with a few thousand words left, because I don't like letting go of them. Once I finish writing the story, I'm onto the first step of publishing, and perhaps, the first step of not having my work be successful (or perhaps, which potentially terrifies me more, it's the biggest hit of my life and I can never, ever live up to that expectation again).

If you feel like reading The Mundane List and seeing what adventures my characters get up to, the first nine chapters are available for free on Wattpad. It is, however, in the very first draft stages (as in, zero editing). I'm going to revamp it this January and hopefully get it published sometime next year.

Hope you all had wonderful holidays! Tell me what mischief you are getting up to this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

An Existential Existence

I haven't updated in a really long time, and perhaps I am now due to an existential crisis about what it means to truly exist and be conscious and simply "be" because I watched a marathon of Westworld. It made me think about life in a slightly different way, and I suppose I was already starting to do this, but it reinforced this idea of never winning. As it stands, there's a strange peace in knowing there is no such thing as winning. This life that we're given may in fact be the only one we are ever privy to and may be the only one we get (beliefs aside for a moment).

But in knowing there is no winning, then what is the point? As Ed Harris's character explores in Westworld, why do we keep going through the daily monotony if there is no actual way to get ahead. There's small battles that lead up to small wars and then what? More battles? More wars?

If life is a cycle, what makes it worth continuing?

I turn inward to my creative self, the self that wants to keep producing, keep making despite all the hardships and consequences of trying to achieve a creative life in today's time. Though, I wonder, where did this wondrous desire to write come from? Sure, I've been inspired numerous times in my life, by my peers, my teachers, random strangers, my family. But where did it all start? And more importantly, why did it start?

The first story I ever wrote was about a haircut. A girl who hesitantly entrusts her best friend to give her a haircut, even though he has no professional experience. Now, my best friend when I was nine was not about to give me a haircut. My sister, up until that point, had been my only hairstylist. Why that story? Why that idea? Why any of it?

When I take a step back, I come to realize that I write because of the why. There isn't any grandiose reason I chose to become a writer. There wasn't a single light bulb that turned on one day and made me realize "this is my way of being." I write because I need to explore. I write because I ask these questions, questions many of us never find the answers to. While that might seem sad or depressing, I'm actually okay with it. Maybe these questions weren't meant to be answered. Maybe they were meant to be explored again and again.

That's the interesting thing about existing and searching for answers you may never find. Once you become okay with the search, accepting that the search may indeed be endless and you may never find the treasure trove perfect answer (42), then life becomes much more enjoyable, because you can become more focused on living in the moment.

With all that being said, what prompted this mass exploration of myself and writing and what makes life worth it? Well, I spent the last week in a tremendous amount of pain, so much so that I had to swallow my pride and ask for help. I hate feeling reliant on other people, even my wonderful partner in crime, because I have this idea of me being strong and independent. Fact is, my body gave up. Something happened, or maybe many things happened, and my back could no longer support my weight, a result of massive sciatica. I could barely stand up or sit without assistance. I went to the emergency room and still don't have answers as to what exactly happened to me.

The pain made me question why I do the things I do, why I pursue the things that make my life so financially hard (and therefore, make acquiring healthcare hard). Ultimately, the answer remains that I do what I do because I'm in search of answers. And it's the search that makes life intense, unique, fun, and difficult. But if I could do it all over again, I wouldn't choose another life path. I will always choose to explore, however difficult that may be.

Here's hoping all of you have a wonderful, happy, and healthy holiday season. I am going to be more active on the blog going forward, because this is something I've been missing.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New Release: In a Blue Moon

Today, I am super excited to announce the release of In a Blue Moon (Blue Moon #1). This book has been in the making for quite some time. I got early feedback from readers telling me I should shop it prior to self-publishing. I've spent over two years querying agents and publishing houses.

At the end of the day, there are a lot of fairy tale retellings, and In a Blue Moon is hitting the market a bit too late for publishers to take interest. Therefore, it is hitting the shelves like all of my other books, independently.

This fairy tale retelling begins with the apocalypse. It's fun, adventurous, and has enough action to keep you turning the page. I couldn't wait to share it with everyone, and today's finally the day!
When Effy stumbles down the rabbit hole, she discovers the wondrous fairy tale land of East Valley in chaos. Death and insanity reign after the release of the deadly blue moon curse. Teaming up with the only sane people left—Jack the giant killer, Hansel, and Cat from Cheshire—they traverse East Valley, desperately searching for an answer. 
They know Effy’s the key to unraveling the curse, but everyone who remembers how to break the curse is… well, cursed. The murderous mob has Effy in their crosshairs. With Snow, Red, Rapunzel, Gretel, and Pinocchio on the group’s trail, Effy isn’t sure any of them will make it out alive.
Excited? I sure as heck am. Effy's a strong female character who stays true to herself and her weird, quirky talents. Jack has an infectious sense of humor, and he grows on you.

Soon, Jack will have his own in between sequel, Greener on the Other Side (do you see the color idiom theme going on here?). The Blue Moon series will have numerous prequels with different character origin stories, so if you fall in love, chances are, you'll see their own book soon. One prequel and Jack's in between novella are currently in the works!

Pick up your copy today!

Paperback. ---  Kindle.  ---  Smashwords.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On Wattpad: The End Diary

I'm super excited to tell you guys about The End Diary being available on Wattpad. I'm updating it regularly, and already have five parts up for you to read and enjoy. I've been busy working behind the scenes, but it's only fair that my readers get something from me sooner rather than waiting any longer.

Here's a little Q&A I put together regarding why you should check out The End Diary.

What is The End Diary?
The story is told from Megan P. Whitford's perspective (don't ask her what the "P" stands for, she'll never tell). It's a coming-of-age story where she realizes the truth matters more than life and death itself. Told in a memoir-style, The End Diary is her last chance to get the truth out about her and Carly Jacobs. It is a LGBT story, but focuses largely on Megan's outlook on life, which may not be a healthy one.

What should readers take away from The End Diary?
In today's society, people are so polarized with social issues and the way society should be run/viewed/etc. We have a lot of hate, and most of it comes from a line in the sand where we see life as us versus them. Megan sees her life in this way--her against the world.

I hope readers see how detrimental this outlook can be to... well, everyone. The End Diary also explores the idea of truth and perspective, as we all perceive the world differently. Her story has a lot of lessons in it, and this explanation only scratches the surface.

Why call this book "The End Diary"?
While Megan has feelings for Carly and there is a small (echoed: small) romance in The End Diary, that is not the core of the story. The core of the story is much deeper, drearier, and darker than a romance and first love. As Megan says in the very first chapter of The End Diary:
But I should preface this with a warning: this story probably doesn’t have a happy ending. If it does, on some level, I’ve failed. There shouldn’t be a knight in shining armor swinging in at the last second—or riding in? Is that a better visual? Whatever. He won’t ride in at the end of the story and say, “Hey, Megan, guess what? I’m saving you.” And boom, story’s over.
It is called The End Diary because there is supposed to be a sense of finality and foreboding right from the get-go. Megan's character is strong enough to pull you into her story and life despite her accidental spoilers and hints (she chastises herself as a writer). She's unhappy and frustrated, but she is ready to let the world know the truth in her manifesto.

Be sure to check out The End Diary on Wattpad!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mad Max Fury Road: All Show No Tell

My characters tend to be emotional teens who are stuck inside their heads. When I was in high school, I had a hard time seeing the world outside of myself. I overthought and over-analyzed everything (probably still do). Because of this, when I write contemporary young adult novels, my characters tend to have the same self-reflection and existentialism.

Recently, I've been moving in another direction. While I still plan on making several contemporary, emotional YA books (A Criminal Heart, No Sugar Coating, and The End Diary), I am working on several fantasy and sci-fi titles. While these characters still have some introspection, the books revolve heavily around plot rather than internal turmoil.

So why Mad Max: Fury Road? Warning: Spoilers. Not only is the movie visually stunning, but there is virtually no "telling" at all. There are moments where the characters could explain a lot (through monologues and exposition), but they don't. Information is passed along quickly with characters interrupting each other as a natural ebb and flow of dialogue.

"The soil, we had to get out."
"We had no water."
"The water was filth."
"It was poison..."

This conversation takes a minute, but they (along with the viewers) come to the horrible realization together: there is no green place. Furiosa screams into the desert, heart-wrenched. We know how she's feeling, and it's done visually. No existential internal narration needed.

We never receive an explanation of the war boys, but we collect knowledge of this universe through context and dialogue. "At the end of his half-life" and the tumors growing on the side of Nick Hoult's neck. We know how hard it is to have a non-deformed child because the stillborn baby was "perfect in every way" (a grand announcement), and every single ruler has something physically wrong. This makes extra narration unnecessary.

This is hard to do when most YA books feature a teen at the start of their journey. With In a Blue Moon, my MC Effy stumbles down a rabbit hole into absolute chaos. She needs to ask questions, but only has limited time due to her deadly situation. Information is revealed as new questions arrived to avoid any long-winded info-dumps.

The story I recently started, Ferals (working title), features Wren, a teen who has grown up in this universe. She knows and understands the world, thus she doesn't need to explain it to the reader. I am taking a page from Mad Max and trying to show this universe is instead of explaining how it came to be. In the first 5000 words, there are two paragraphs of exposition. Two. The rest of the world comes through descriptions and dialogue between the seven characters.

By having an MC who is aware of the world, more work is placed on the reader to fill in the blanks. Mad Max: Fury Road unfolds the universe without explanation, while still providing viewers with enough information to draw conclusions. A good writer should be able to do this. I should be able to do this.

While film does rely on the inherent visual aspect, books can and should lean that way as well. Sure, you don't want your MC to sound like a robot prattling off X happened then Y happened. You need some flavor. You need descriptors and emotions. Incorporate all the senses. If you are writing in first person, you can have some internal reflection (heck, you can have this in third person too).

Instead of: I stuck out my hand, and he shook it.
You can have: I stuck out my hand--a stupid move I wanted to take back--but he still shook it.

The second gets you into the character's head. The MC is self-conscious around this guy. It keeps the focus on the visual aspects, but provides insight into the MC's thought process without a long-winded diatribe (though, there can be a place for that as well).

If anyone wants a refresher on "how to create a universe where your MC is aware of how the world works, but the reader does not... and how to clue the reader in without over-saturating your book with exposition," watch Mad Max: Fury Road. Analyze how they show the world and how they accomplish bringing you into the universe. The script might give you some good ideas for writing your next novel. Reflecting on this movie has helped me.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Success: The New Approach Works!

As you guys know, I'm approaching my goals a different way this year. By creating a chore and create box, I've forced myself to have concrete deadlines for my goals every day. I have 24 hours finish two items: one is a chore, one is creative.

We're 22 days into January, and right on time, I finished all the chores in my chore box. Time to rinse and repeat, but since I'm trying to be more creative in all aspects of my life, I decided to do a quick photoshoot. The idea was to have a portrait with my head in the middle of an arch of things I've accomplished thus far.

Of course, Gerty had other plans. He said, "This looks like a good place to flop." Flop. Stretch. Roll. Lick paw. Look at the camera with a "What?" face.

I feel proud of myself for sticking to my plan and accomplishing a lot more than in previous months. I take one day at a time, and I do a little bit every day. This year has been a lesson in consistency, and so far, so good.

A photo posted by R. A. Desilets (@radesilets) on
I'm 15% through editing The End Diary (read the first two chapters for free), I've started writing two new books (Ferals and Shrinking Violet (In a Blue Moon #.01)), and I've read four novels. I have a long way to go, but two of my books are in the last round of querying. This means, results of querying pending, I should have at least two more books out this year. The End Diary should be published this year as well. Lots to do, but I'm working every single day!

Monday, January 11, 2016

YA Gets Real: Invisibility

No one could see me. I was standing in the middle of the crowd at the park, and no one bothered to look my way. I finally did it. I found a way to become invisible, and this moment was the most glorious of my life!

I threw my arms out and tilted my head back, indulging my face with the warmth of the sun. The breeze blew around me, making the fine hairs on my body tremble. I needed something more; I needed to push the limits.

Glancing around, I did a little jig, something someone would have to acknowledge if they could see me. I thrust my hips around in a wide circle, jumped up and down, and did what few swing steps I knew. Still, no one spared me a glance. Everyone was on their way to work, busying themselves on their phones. Everyone was blind to me.

Because I had succeeded.

Grinning, I pulled off my shirt, tossing it into the nearby fountain. Without me, my shirt would probably look odd, suddenly appearing out of thin air. But who cared? No one could blame me. No one would figure out who I was.

I unhooked my bra and tossed it into the fountain too. I spun in a circle, loving the caress of the outdoor air. Finally, I reached down to undo my jeans, but two hands clasped around my wrists, forcing my arms behind my back. I stifled a scream and blinked.

How could he see me? Did he have powers too?

The police officer pulled me towards his vehicle, growling something about protesters. He shoved me unceremoniously in the backseat, and I wanted to cry. My potion hadn't worked on this man, but why? No one else had looked at me, so why him? Why someone who could ruin my life?


I waited in the holding cell by myself, being the only minor there. They had given me a large sweatshirt to pull over my head. The spell had obviously worn off in the car ride over. I sighed. Showed what I knew about magic, and how long it could last.

"This has all been a misunderstanding." My ears perked up at the sound of Dad's voice.

"A misunderstanding? Your daughter was tearing her clothes off in the middle of Central--"

"I understand what she was doing, but you have to understand she's off her medication. She always thinks she's a wizard when..." he continued talking, but my blood boiled.

No, Dad. I don't think. I know, I thought bitterly.

"And why would a wizard get naked in public?" The cop sounded bored.

"She believes she can make potions that actually work, and if a wizard could become invisible..." Dad was probably shrugging, even though I couldn't see him. But whenever his voice trailed off like that, he shrugged, as if that would explain everything.

"Fill out these forms," the cop scoffed.

I shook my head back and forth. None of them understood. It had worked, albeit for a short time. No one had seen me. I could have done anything at all. The medication blocked my powers. Why couldn't they understand that? If they put me back on it, it was goodbye powers, hello mundane high school life.

I kicked my feet out, bouncing slightly on the spring-filled cot, anxiety pulsing through me.

"You crazy?" One of the women from across the way asked. Her gray eyes narrowed.

I shook my head, frowning. "Not crazy, just... powerful."

The woman nodded. "I was powerful too, once. But they always take it away."


These posts are silly, parody posts of some scenes that can be found in YA tropes intended to make you smile on your Monday morning. I adore YA books, as a reader and a writer. These stories are fiction, but provide a possible alternative to scenes from stories we love.

A few titles I enjoyed where the MC has a special ability (linked images):

 Adult title: 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Books, Cats, and a Giant TBR Pile

While I was doing my daily chore*, I had this horrible thought: how many of my books have I actually read? Stricken, I stared at my shelves and realized, "Oh... oh no."

The idea for this photo blossomed. I must have it. I must have this ridiculous photo in my possession to prove I have an awful book buying habit. Sure, I donate a lot of the books once I read them, but this TBR pile has been growing year after year while I still go to the library.


I've always been a deadline-oriented person. I procrastinate, but once the end is looming over me, I have to finish what I've started. Library books have deadlines; mine don't.

This is why I made the chore box*. It's also why I made a very specific "Create" box with the same concept as the chore box. I have to do one task a day before the day is over. It's a concrete, deadline-oriented task. I have one day, that's it.

Today, I pulled out "Blog." Today, I decided that wasn't enough and also did the photo project. Today, I'm also committing to 2000 words of editing. Why? Because completing one task makes me feel accomplished. It makes me want to do more. Seeing a list makes me panic and do less. But one task? Just one? Sure. Let's do it! It will go in the "Accomplished" box once I'm finished.

So, what am I going to do with all these books?

Read them, one at a time. My create box also has items for downtime, like reading, coloring, and journaling. Things that are necessary to continue being creative.

My goal for the end of the year is to make my TBR pile a little less intense. Expect another photo in a few months with an update on how the reading is going!

Feel free to add me on goodreads! I only rank books 4 or 5 stars -- 5 for favorites, 4 for highly recommended. So you can easily see the books I love. I read mostly YA, all genres.

* You can find more information about my awesome chore box on my Patreon page on a free post.