Sunday, April 22, 2012

S is for: Siblings

S is for siblings, of which I have six.

As I mentioned in my D is for divorce post both of my parents remarried. Well, both of the people they married had kids of their own. I went from being the oldest of two to being the second youngest of six; admittedly that kind of sucked. No my siblings and I do not always get along, but I love them anyway :)

The only sibling I am blood related to is my little brother Peter; that kid is going to rule the world one day, I swear. You know how usually the younger sibling is stuck growing up in their older siblings shadow? It was the other way around in my family. He was a walking calculator at 5 years old and has turned out to be a ridiculous musical prodigy. Seriously, he will be writing scores for movies one day and those scores will be winning Academies. He has had the biggest impact me out of all of them for obvious reasons. Whenever I'm excited about a new story idea I'll excitedly rant about it to him on facebook and he never fails to make me ever more excited to write it, which is impressive considering he rarely reads (:P).

All of my siblings are great. Two of them, Ashleigh and Andrew, have beautiful kids (Andrew's son Connor looks just like the little kid from Meet the Robinsons, I swear). My oldest brother Josh is "married" to an amazing man and they deserve all the happiness in the world regardless of what any ridiculous law might say. Wes was the one who gave me the true "big brother" experience; he once through me in the snow across the street, sans shoes and coat, and locked me out of the house. But he's pretty cool anyway :P. And Tab..well Tab is just downright awesome.

Basically my siblings are cooler than yours, and you should all be jealous ;)

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for: Reading List

As you may have noticed I fell behind a tad in the A to Z challenge. My finals are next week so I have been really busy writing papers and studying and such. And so..I have decided to allow myself to cheat one day. I do realize that my reading list is already posted on the blog, but I need an R and it seems legit to me!

In my opinion nothing is more important to being a good writer than to be an avid reader. The more you read the more you learn and the more inspiration you will find. Even if you read a book and you hate it at least you learned something; you do not like that genre or that writer's style.  I also think that a writer's "To-Read" list says a lot about what type of writing they enjoy the most. As you can see, this topic is completely relevant to my theme:)

I will give credit to the loverly Krista over at The Jelly Beans of Writing because I stole the idea from her >:)

My "To-Read" list as of right now reads:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexander Dumas
Retribution - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Glass - Ellen Hopkins
Shine - Lauren Myracle
Brisingr - Christopher Paolini
Inheritance - Christopher Paolini
Labyrinth - Kate Mosse
The Future of Us - Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Gone - Michael Grant
Numbers - Rachel Ward
The Host - Stephanie Meyer
Born of Fire - Sherrilyn Kenyon
No Mercy - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Bad Moon Rising - Sherrilyn Kenyon
Unwind - Neal Shusterman
The Lost Gate - Orson Scott Card
Delirium - Lauren Oliver
Article 5 - Kristen Simmons
Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Human.4 - Mike Lancaster
Dark Inside - Jeyn Roberts
Scored - Lauren McLaughlin
The Declaration - Gemma Malley
Divergent - Veronica Roth
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
A Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
Blood Red Road - Moira Young
Revealers - Amanda Marrone
Graceling - Kristin Cashore
Snowflower and the Secret Fan - Lisa See
Shanghai Girls - Lisa See

What does this say about me as a writer? Well for one that I must add books to the list faster than I read them. And two, that I enjoy a wide variety of genres and stories, so you never know what I might come up with ;)

Q is for: Quill

No I do not have some awesome story about how a quill put me on the path towards writing. But I do have a quill. And it is awesome. :)

Isn't it cool? Handmade in Italy:)

As you may have noticed from my journal (erm..notebook) post I have a love for writing things out. I love my macbook and my loverly lime green dell and all, but there is something simply beautiful about writing things out by hand that typing cannot compare to. I eventually want to learn calligraphy and to make my writing all pretty, but for now I settle for my simple handwriting and my favorite pen or, in this case, quill:)

Its definitely an adjustment writing with it, but I love it. I love the way my writing looks when I use it. Sometimes I use a little too much and the ink blurs my letters, sometimes ink drips onto a page. I know a lot of people who would hate that, but I love it. The journal I use it to write in, my personal writing journal which I use to document my own feelings about my writing and to keep myself motivated, is a beautiful mess. Joe laughs and says he can't read any of it (granted he can't read anything in cursive let alone cursive via quill) but who cares? I'm the only one who has to read it. And I love the little imperfections the quill leaves. Plus, you just feel cool when you write with a quill. :)

If you have never tried writing with a quill I definitely recommend it, even if it be just for fun. They are not all that expensive, unless you want a really good one of course. They take a bit of getting used to, but they are wonderful.

P is for: Parents

I've been a terrible A to Z'er. In my defense this upcoming week is exam week for me so I've been fairly busy with everything for my classes. But two days late and without further ado, P is for: parents!

In my B post I mentioned that I owe someone a very big thanks for giving me my love of reading. Well, that person would be my Dad. When I was little my Dad used to read to me all the time, and one of the things he read to me was The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. And that was it. That was the beginning of my reading addiction which eventually led to my passion for writing.

I was fairly young the first time my Dad read me The Hobbit, but I distinctly remember the part with gollum and his riddles was my favorite.

After my love of writing popped up my Mom encouraged it more than anyone. From the very beginning she has been saying I was meant to be a writer, it just took me awhile to realize she might be right. I remember one time she was doing something on our old computer and she found a bunch of half started stories I had written as a kid; she came downstairs half in tears and made me promise never to stop writing. And I do not intend to.

I'm terribly sorry that this post was late, but I really want to thank you both for everything you have done for me. <3

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for: Opinions

I'm going to keep this post pretty short because I have an exciting paper on Shinto to write. /sarcasm.

Opinions: I have a lot of them and I am not afraid to share them. I am very stubborn and it is very difficult to change my mind about things, and I am rather proud of that.

I also take pride in always being respectful of other people's opinions, even when I do not necessarily agree with them. I have gotten into plenty of debates in my life (I LOVE debates) and I know that whenever a person starts attacking my opinions or simply saying they are wrong without any real reason as to why I completely tune them out; nothing they say holds any ground because they are not discussing they are attacking. I firmly believe this happens because people are defending ideas simply because they have been taught to do so, because they did not arrive at the conclusion themselves but rather it was pushed into them.

I am not one to form opinions based on what anyone else thinks. When I make a decision about how I feel about something I know exactly why I feel that way, which is why it is so easy for me to discuss them with other people without simply shouting "you're wrong!" and feeling like I won; I know exactly why I disagree with them and I can, and happily will, explain it when I am asked or provoked.

I think the ability to form your own opinions is extremely important. I know plenty of people who share the same opinions of their parents simply because their parents say so. I know plenty of people who have opinions because they were told that was the correct view and that was that. I refuse to be one of those people.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for: Notebooks

Okay so by notebooks I really mean journals. But journal doesn't start with an "n" which is problematic. So lets just pretend, shall we?

I always joke that I am going to be the founder of journals anonymous. Seriously, I have a problem. I am currently in possession of, I believe, 10 different notebooks. I have this need to assign every notebook to a specific purpose and then that is all I will use it for. A few of my notebooks are still empty because I have yet to decide on their purpose, but I know something will come up at some point.

So lets look through the ones that have been assigned already:
One is for brainstorming for a specific series I plan on writing (currently in the process of writing book 1).
One is for writing down random little pieces of stories that might come to me during the day. Not complete story ideas, just small details that I can later put together to make a story.
One is for complete story ideas. Now by this I don't mean I have the entire plot figured out, merely that I know the basis of the story, like what you might read on the back of a book only not written as nicely.
One is for writing about anything that might on my mind. I've found that a major source of writers block for me personally is if something is weighing on my mind; being able to write it out helps clear my head and get me back on track.
One is purely for inspiration. I literally write jibberish in it and draw random horrible colorful illustrations to said jibberish. But every now and then something amazing comes out of it; this notebook is probably my favorite.

As much as I love sitting down at my computer and typing out my stories there is just something about being able to physically write things out that I love; it seems much more personal and elegant somehow.

So my fellow writers, do you use notebooks in planning your work at all?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for: Music

Basically I love music. If you put my ipod on shuffle you could go from 3oh!3 to Marianas Trench to Howard Shore's score for Lord of the Rings.

As i mentioned in my H is for: High School post, pretty much everything I did in High School was music related. I played flute in marching band, symphonic orchestra, and pit orchestra, and alto saxophone in symphonic band. Needless to say I didn't have much of a life between rehearsals, but I loved it. Actually that's a lie, rehearsals sucked, but I loved playing and, more than anything, I loved performing.

Out of everything I did marching band was definitely the most time consuming, but it was also the most rewarding. I could not explain what it feels like to be out on the field in front of a huge crowd on a Friday night if I tried. My sophomore year I got to march Spartan Stadium at Michigan State University. If our football team had won that game I would have gotten to march Ford Field; but they didn't. That football game became the marching band's Fight Club: we don't talk about it.

The music program was what got me through high school. Its where I met all of my closest friends and made most of my good memories. Unfortunately I was unable to play in any of the GV bands this year but I really hope I get to at some point; I really miss it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for: Lord of the Rings

That's right, I'm a Tolkien nerd. But, honestly, how couldn't you be? The man was a genius.

The Lord of the Rings, along with its prequel, The Hobbit, were my first obsessions; and they have survived for many years. I have a leather bound collectors edition of The Lord of the Rings sitting happily on my bookshelf right this minute (my best find at the used book store by far!) I also own the extended edition of the movies, which I have spent a good many days of my life enjoying (I had them playing constantly, even just in the background, for about 2 weeks after I bought them).

Everything about The Lord of the Rings amazes me. The depth of the story, the history, the cultures, the languages, everything. It is what started my love of fantasy and made me want to write stories of my own. The only problem was that for a very long time everything I wrote was fantasy; I was so caught up in everything I loved about Tolkien's work that everything I tried to write screamed "Lord of the Rings wannabe". I was finally pulled out of this when I read the Hunger Games, my most recent obsession. My current WIP is the first to not contain elves or dwarves, and it is by far the best story I have ever come up with. Of course, I still love The Lord of the Rings, and I still love spending a day on my couch watching Aragorn be a badass (the fact that I am basically in love with Aragorn's character is completely irrelevant...but come on, how could you not be?)

Even though I have finally stopped trying to write like Tolkien, I still turn to his books (or the movies, or the movies' soundtracks...) when I find myself in need of inspiration. Something about going back to Middle Earth always leaves me wanting to write. Clearly the only logical thing for me to do is move to New Zealand where I can look out at Middle Earth in my own backyard. Maybe someday...(pretty please?)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for: Kortnee Henski

We are cooler than all of you. The end.

But really, this girl has probably had more impact on who I am than anyone. We have been friends since before either of our younger brothers were born, and since before either of us could talk. Until kindergarten she lived right next door, so most of the pictures of me from then have her right there next to me (usually making some ridiculous face).

If there had to be a negative to moving to Davison, it would be moving away from Korts. We went from 10 years of being completely inseparable to seeing each other only once or twice a year, which really is kind of ridiculous considering I only moved like 30 minutes away. We were only 10 years old when I moved; most kids that young would have drifted once they weren't seeing each other at school every day, but not us (like I said, we're cooler than all of you ;) ).

Nine years later and Kortnee is still the best friend I could ever, and will ever, have.  In fact, "best friends" is an insult to our relationship; we usually just tell people we're sisters and then laugh when people get confused and think we are actually related.

We are pretty much the perfect example of yin and yang. She is the princess; her favorite color was pink for a very long time, she loves wearing dresses, etc. I am much more the geek of our relationship; always been a gamer, always hated pink, and you will rarely catch me in a dress or a skirt. We are completely opposite in so many ways, but we fit together perfectly (personally I think sarcasm and being obnoxious is the glue there).

No matter what is going on, no matter how upset I might be, she is the one person who can always get me laughing in a matter of seconds. Seriously, I could be bawling my eyes out and this girl could get me to laugh; it has been tested. She is always there to listen to me rant about whatever is going on, and is always more than happy to return the favor in the form of novel-length facebook messages about how the world is driving her crazy.

Kortnee Henski is my absolute best friend in the world. She is one of the few people who can handle how crazy I am, one of the even fewer people who are crazier than me, and the only person who really understands why I am the way that I am (mostly because its all her fault). I have no idea what I would have turned out like if I hadn't spent the vast majority of my childhood with her, but I know I would not be who I am. And, if she hadn't grown up with me, she probably wouldn't be terrified of owls; but that's a story for another time :P

Kortnee is the psycho to my crazy. I have no idea what I would do without her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for: Joseph Harris

Joe is my wonderful boyfriend. We have been together for almost two and a half years and I am ridiculously lucky to have him. I think the picture represents us and our relationship rather perfectly (we're probably the most obnoxiously silly couple you'll ever meet).

I could probably go on forever about how awesome this kid is, but I will spare you that. I will say how amazingly happy he makes me and that I am quite positive he makes me laugh harder than anyone else. He's a huge geek and I love him for it. I think he is the only person I know who is more easily amused than me; I firmly believe he is a 10 year old in a 22 year old's body. He makes me happy in so many ways for so many different reasons, but the most important is that he honestly loves me for exactly who I am.

All those lovely traits of mine I talked about in yesterday's post, this boy somehow finds endearing, or at least he claims to, which is still impressive. I can be as ridiculous as I want in front of him and he just smiles and laughs. He loves me for all my crazy; what more could I ask for?

Joe was the one who made me believe I could be a writing major. He is the one I talked to for hours about all my doubts and fears, but also about how badly I wanted to be a writer. If it weren't for him I'm not sure that I would have had the courage to declare myself a writing major, or at least not from the very beginning. I could never thank him enough for that.

Since the day started talking Joe has done nothing but encourage my dreams of being a writer. He was the first person outside my family who I let read a draft of a former WIP (which will now never see the light of day) and he has since become my go-to for first draft frustrations. More important than anything, though, Joe always believes in me even when I don't believe in myself. If I ever start doubting that I could actually do this, that I could actually be a real writer with real books, he is always there to pick me back up; I know he would never let me give up on my dreams anymore than I would let him give up on his.

Since he is my honorary topic of the day I think its only fair that I mention he is also participating in the A to Z Challenge. His loverly blog, where he is watching Netflix from A to Z, can be found right here:)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for: Imperfections

I firmly believe in the phrase "perfectly imperfect"; its our silly little imperfections that make us who we are. Where many people spend their lives trying to appear perfect, I do my very best to embrace my imperfections, though it is only fair to note that I don't always succeed.

So lets see, I'm a horrible procrastinator, but who isn't, right? I am extremely stubborn, which some people I know would definitely call a flaw of mine, though I do not necessarily agree (because I'm just so damn stubborn). I get frustrated fairly easily and I am prone to overreacting when it comes to things, or people, I care about (admittedly I'm working on that one). Sure all of these things frustrate some people, and they are certainly not all admirable traits, but they are a part of what makes me, me.

I am far from anyone's definition of perfect; but my imperfections make me perfectly me. Besides, everybody has things about them that other people can like and appreciate, but the people who love you for (can deal with) all of your imperfections are the people who really matter.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for: High School

I tried so very hard to come up with a different topic for H, but I couldn't think of anything. /sigh.

High school is tricky for me to write about for a few reasons, the main one being that all I did in high school was music based and I am planning to use music for M, so I don't want to write all about that now.

I had that group of friends in high school that I always hung out with, just like everyone else. The problem was that my group of friends had been a group of friends since like 3rd grade and I didn't show up until the 7th and 8th grade area, so they were always much closer to each other than I was with any of them. When I got to high school I became very good friends with a good number of people in the class above me, which was awesome until my senior year when they had all graduated (I know, how dare they!).

As I have mentioned before, I have always wanted to be a writer. The lovely thing about high school is that, when you tell people you want to be a writer, they say things like "That's great but what do you actually want to go to college for" or "Good for you, but you should consider picking a real job". So instead of writing all throughout high school like I should have been, and so desperately wish I would have, I went from one "real job" to another trying to find something that interested me. I went from marine biology (until I realized I dreaded all thing science), to graphic design, to computer science (I wanted to go into video game development, but as it turns out you have to be good at math to do that), back to graphic design. It was not until literally 2 weeks before my first semester at GVSU that I finally said "screw you" to all the people who had told me I should pick something else and declared myself a writing major.

High school did teach me one important thing (well okay it taught me a few important things, but this is particularly important); I am a beast in an english classroom. I cannot solve for x to save my life but I can analyze a literary passage like nobody's business. When I got to college I realized more and more how much I really enjoyed my english literature classes, and I have since decided that I might one day want to teach literature at a university (personally I think it would be awesome to teach a class on Tolkien, but maybe that's just me). All of that is what led me to decide to dual major in creative writing and english language and literature. And even if I never end up teaching, as a writer there is no such thing as reading too much, which is basically all my literature classes are.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for: Grand Valley State University

That's right, all two semesters I have spent there has had an impact on me.

GVSU is truly a great school. The campus is absolutely gorgeous and the writing program is just fantastic. I had been planning to attend GV since around my sophomore year in high school because my cousin went there and really loved it, and it was absolutely the right choice for me.

A lot of my friends opted for bigger schools. Personally I like having a 15 minute max walk to my classes- during the winter even that seems impossible. I will admit I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the clock tower. Its nice being able to tell what time it is and all, but the thing goes off every 15 minutes and it is deafening if you're unlucky enough to be standing under it when it goes off.

The picture isn't entirely accurate as at the moment there is a giant red crane to the left of the clock tower because GV is building a new library. Or at least they are calling it a library, but none of us know why because it seems like its going to be more social than study- the digital tour on youtube specifically says its not meant to be a quiet building. Either way I'm pretty excited for it to be done. My boyfriend and I refer to the crane as the Great Eye of Sauron because it always seems to be watching you, no matter where you are on campus.

In my short time at GV I have made some great new friends, gotten addicted to Doctor Who, and made some amazing friends who share said addiction. I have learned a lot about myself from living on my own. I've learned how to cook considerably more than I did before going off to college- my slow cooker is my best friend. I have become considerably more politically aware (or politically frustrated, whichever you prefer) just in time to be eligible to vote. Oh, and I've gone to classes and learned some cool stuff too.

I'm going to end this post with this awesome lib-dub the GV community made last year. I was a year too late to get to be a part of it, but its still really awesome!

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for: Fiction

I was struggling to come up with a topic for today and then just a little bit ago I was admiring my blog's new look (again...arrogant, I know, but I'm quite proud of it) and suddenly it just came to me as if it were plastered across the top of my screen. F for Fiction, duh.

I love fiction because it offers an escape. While the real world has all its rules and structures, fiction novels can say to hell with the laws of physics, who needs gravity anyway? In fiction your imagination is your only limit, and when you have an imagination like mine that leaves you with a lot to work with.

As big of a reader as I am I have only ever read one nonfiction book cover to cover; the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, which is an amazing book that everyone should read at least once, but that's besides the point. The point is I do not enjoy nonfiction. Nonfiction has all these rules is has to abide by, such as having actually happened for one. I prefer to read something where literally anything could happen at any moment. That is not to say that I do not enjoy realistic fiction. I read it considerably less often than I read science-fiction or fantasy, but there are a few I have absolutely loved; Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher would have to be my favorite. I also adore anything written by Ellen Hopkins.

I will admit I have an affinity for dark fiction. One of my absolute favorite books is The Blood Confession by Alisa Libby, a historical fiction novel loosely based on the life of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, aka the Blood Countess. I have also gained a slight (major) obsession with the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, which I read in less than a week. I even had a difficult time getting into the Harry Potter books until book 4 which is when they started getting considerably darker (books 6 and 7 are probably my favorite). I'm not sure exactly what it is that draws me to the darker books, there is just something about them that makes them impossible for me to resist.

As I have mentioned before, I fell in love with reading at a fairly young age. When I was little my Dad read me The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (aka the single most ingenius writer to have ever walked this earth) ,and after that the real world was simply not enough for me. I wanted more. I wanted magic. More than that, I demanded it. And the only place this desire has ever been satisfied is within the pages of a book.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for: Elementary Teachers

I spent all of my elementary years in Holly Area Schools, and during that time I had some of the best teachers I could have asked for.

I have to be honest; I don't remember a whole lot about my time in elementary school. I remember when they told us we had to learn cursive because every teacher we'd have after that would require everything be written in it (all lies). I remember taking timed math tests back when math only included numbers. I remember it was the last time I saw straight A's until my junior year of high school, because math suddenly used letters too. But aside from that I do not remember much.

I do remember the first time I realized I liked to write. More so, I remember the first person who ever encouraged my writing; my third grade teacher Mrs. Jan Wachowski. I don't remember what I wrote, or why I wrote it, but I remember her telling me I had a talent for it. Those words stuck, and that was the beginning of everything. After that I started to write, a lot. I started who knows how many stories. I wrote poems, or at least a third grader's version of poems, a few of which were published in young writers anthologies. Granted they were the type of anthologies where just about anything submitted got published, but that didn't matter.

Even at that age I had a love of reading that is probably unnatural for someone so young. Until Mrs. Wachowski, however, I don't think I had ever written a thing. I can't say that I would never have discovered my passion for writing if she hadn't first encouraged me, because I firmly believe I was born to be a writer, but who knows how much longer it would have taken if she hadn't.  Mrs. Wachowski was the first person to ever encourage me towards writing, and for that I will always be grateful to her. 

Mrs. Wachowski, I know at some point you are going to be reading this, so I wanted to say thank you so very much for everything you did. You were the first person to inspire me to be a writer and I will never forget that.

D is for: Divorce

Even though blogger is going to say that technically I did not post this on the right day, I have yet to go to sleep so as far as I am concerned tomorrow hasn't started yet.

I strongly considered making my "D" post about Doctor Who, but considering my theme is what has made me, me, I decided against it. Although watching the 10th Doctor (David Tennant) can make any day a good one.

I decided to post about my parent's divorce for two reasons: one, because it is obviously something that had an impact on my life, and two, because I want to take this opportunity to tell anyone who may be struggling with their parent's divorce that the impact is not always negative. Regardless of what anyone may say about it, divorce is not always a bad thing.

I can't say I can relate to what it is like to be experiencing your parents going through the divorce process. I was very young when my parents got divorced and I do not remember much of anything during the process or before it happened. I think that is one sign that my parents handled everything very well; I don't remember any yelling or fighting, though I'm sure it occurred. My brother and I were their main concern.

I have a rather large family because both of my parents remarried. Both of my step-parents are absolutely wonderful and I would not trade them for anything. I will admit that adjusting to having five older siblings , where previously I had been the oldest of two, was a bit difficult. But I love them all the same and am very blessed to have them. Both of my parents found people who they love and who make them happy, it just happens that it was not each other.

Now for the chain of events which had a direct effect on who, and where, I am today.

My Mom's parents got divorced and her Mom remarried. My Mom's step-dad (my Grandpa) had a son who introduced my Mom to a guy who became a very good friend of hers.
After my parents got divorced this very good friend introduced her to the man who later became my fantastic step-dad.
When I was about 11 years old my Mom moved my brother and I from Holly to Davison to move in with him and his kids.
If I had never moved to Davison I would probably never have joined marching band. I would never have met the amazing friends I made in Davison, my wonderful boyfriend included. I might not even be attending Grand Valley, as it was a Davison High School guidance councilor who first suggested I look into the school.

I am not trying to say that divorce is something that should be celebrated. However, it does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. Being a child of divorced parents does not mean you come from a broken family; I have a great relationship with both of my parents, and twice as many people who care about me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for: Conigliaro

Say it with me slowly: Co-nig-lee-aro

That beautiful piece of work is my last name. As you can probably imagine, going through grade school with that on all your papers could be rather interesting at times. I remember, when I was first learning to write, being afraid I might forget how to spell it.

I'm quite proud of my last name. I love the way it trips people up, though I don't understand why it does. Its pronounced exactly like its spelled. For some reason a vast majority of people want to say "Congliario." I will never understand why. I always loved the first day of school because I always looked forward to hearing how my new teachers would decide my name was pronounced. It got to the point that, even if there were six other Katies in the class, I could always tell they had reached my name by the pause that never failed to occur whenever someone saw my last name for the first time. I quickly came to go by Katie C or Conig. Unfortunately I couldn't very well be announced as Katie Conig at my graduation ceremony. I don't remember what our vice-principle came up with, but it was most certainly not my last name.

The one thing that always bothered me was that in every class that had more than one Katie I became Katie C. Now in order for you to understand why this bothered me you must first know this: my name is not short for anything. My name is not Kaitlyn or Katherine or Kathleen. My full and legal name is Katie Conigliaro. I have only met one or two other Katies whose full name is Katie, and none of them were in any of my classes. And yet somehow, even though I was the only real Katie in, I'm fairly certain my entire graduating class, the others always got to go by Katie while I became Katie C. That drove me crazy. To this day whenever I have to say my name is Katie C (namely whenever the buzzers are broken at Fuel and they have to call out finished orders) I instantly feel like I'm 12 years old.

I've discovered that my name does not confuse as many of my professors as it did my teachers, although now I am often asked if I have an Uncle Tony (if you too were wondering, no, I don't). However my last name makes an impression. Its rather difficult to forget a name like Conigliaro, which I have found to be an advantage. I intend to keep Conigliaro as my publishing name, even after I get married and change it. Especially considering my boyfriend's last name is Harris. Somehow I think Katie Conigliaro would stand out a bit more than Katie Harris. And it will look much cooler on the cover of a book.

B is for: My Bookshelf

I have insisted that I will have one of these whenever I have my own house. I am quite positive I would never leave. Ever.

When I first moved in to my on-campus apartment this past Fall I spent the first few hours alone in the apartment (my roommate hadn't gotten here yet) unpacking my things. I unpacked my clothes and stocked my closet and dresser. I got my TV and playstation set up and pulled out all my movies and games. It was not until I had unpacked my books, however, that the room began to feel like it belonged to me. It was my books that made this room home.

I brought considerably more books with me than I could ever have had time to read over the semester. In fact a good number of them I brought I had already read once, twice, five times, and had no intention of reading while I was here. I just needed to have them there. I needed to be able to see them and know that they were there if I ever needed them.

My books are some of my best friends. I am the Doctor and they are my closest companions (anyone?). Over the years they have provided inspiration, freedom, and many much needed escapes. I cannot remember a time in my life when I didn't love getting lost within the pages of a book. I cannot explain the excitement I feel with the weight of a new book in my hands as I finger through its pages, eager to begin a new journey. From the time I learned to read to now my love of reading has only grown; it is an essential part of my life. From my love of reading a love of writing emerged and what started out as a simple hobby has turned into a passion and a lifestyle.

Currently my bookshelf is made up of three Sherrilyn Kenyon books, my Collectors Edition of The Lord of the Rings, The Children of Hurin, Eragon and Eldest, The Lovely Bones, all three books in the Hunger Games Trilogy, Shine, The Host, Shanghai Girls, Glass, Volume 1 of Sweep, For One More Day, Velocity, and one of my two copies of the Count of Monte Cristo. Of those books I have yet to read any of them aside from The Lord of the Rings, half of The Host, Eragon, Eldest, and The Hunger Games Trilogy. You see, there is an amazing used book store in Grand Blanc, where I bought a good number of the books I just listed. The only problem is because the store is so amazing I buy the books much faster than I can read them. I'm hoping I will have read most of them by the end of the summer.

The books I listed are only a small portion of my collection, namely the portion of it that would fit on my little bookshelf here at school. And even though I have yet to read the majority of books I brought with me, it is comforting to have them here just in case the opportunity arises.

I am a book-geek; it is that simple. And I am very grateful for that. I don't know what I would be doing with my life if I wasn't a writer, and if I had never developed a love of reading chances are I would never have developed my passion for writing either. I owe someone a very big thanks for that, but that is for another letter.

A is for: All About Moi

All About Moi. That counts as A right? 
I'm gonna say yes.

I swear this post is not as arrogant as it sounds; hear me out. 

I have decided that my theme for the A to Z Challenge will be self-reflection; I will be writing about everything that made me who I am today. So what better way to start off the challenge than by giving a little insight as to who it is I have become? The rest of the month will revolve around what made me, me. Today I'm going to tell you who me is. 

My name is Katie Conigliaro. I am 18 years old, but I will be turning 19 this Thursday, April 5. I am finishing up my first year at Grand Valley State University and I am dual majoring in creative writing and english language and literature.

I have big dreams and every intention of making them reality, no matter what it takes. I have always dreamed of being a writer with real books with real words in them. Every day I imagine what it would be like to hold a copy of my work and have it on my bookshelf; this image keeps me motivated whenever pesky doubts creep into my mind.

I love to read, watch movies, and play video games (Guild Wars anyone?). I am obsessed with The Lord of the Rings; one of my life goals is to read every book Tolkien ever wrote. I can quote How to Train your Dragon and Mulan in their entirety.

If I buy the first book of a series in hardcover then I have to own every other book in the series in hardcover too. Same goes for paperback. No exceptions.

I hate (most) chick flicks; I prefer watching stuff blow up as opposed to a sappy love story. 

I love summer, slurpees, and anything with the word BBQ in it. I despise the cold, hate Dr Pepper, and won't touch anything with tuna in it unless its sushi, which I also love.

I dream of traveling the world. I speak Spanish, not fluently but enough to survive if I ever mysteriously woke up in Spain. I am currently learning Japanese; I could probably survive in Japan so long as no one wanted to actually hold a conversation, but I like talking much too much for that to work. 

I have 3 dogs, Abby, Dakota, and Gizmo. I also have a beta fish named Capfin Jack, or whatever variation of that (Jackie, Jackleton, etc) I choose to call him that day.

I am extremely OCD about some things; cleaning is not one of them. I like to cook but I hate doing dishes. There is no chore I dread more than putting clothes away.

I play the flute and alto saxophone. I want to learn piano and violin.

I am loud. I am obnoxious. I am sarcastic. I am very easily amused. 

I am a proud unique individual. 

To put it simply; I am me.