Month: January 2015

Literary Paraphernalia: Literary Tights

I’m not a girly-girl, but I am a book girl, and when I stumbled upon these literary tights, I got really excited. Tights are great to wear under dresses during cool weather, and what could make tights better than poetry and book quotes and pictures from our favorite stories? Nothing, that’s what. These tights are absolutely fabulous and perfect.

Alice in Wonderland Tights

One must be well dressed for a beheading.

Jane Austen Quotes Tights

“Those are awesome tights.” – Mr. Darcy. He might not have actually said that in the book.

Emily Dickinson Poem Tights – I Gave Myself to Him

This poem will have to be rewritten as “he gave himself to me” after he sees these tights.

Where the Wild Things Are Tights

For the bad girl in you that gets sent to bed with no dinner.

Romeo and Juliet Tights

That which we call a nylon by any other name would be as sweet.

I Loved You by Alexander Pushkin

It’s not everyday you see famous Russian poetry on tights.

Winnie The Pooh Tights

No one will mistake you for a little black rain cloud with these bright and vibrant tights.

Harry Potter Dobby Tights

It’s not a sock, but it’s close.

The Naming of Cats by T.S. Eliot Tights

The Naming of Cats is an awesome T.S. Eliot poem that doesn’t get enough attention.

Emily Dickinson – Hope is a Thing with Feathers Tights

Another of my favorite poems. Sorest is the storm that would keep one away from these tights!

And, if you like what you see but want a different quote or poem, ColineDesign does custom orders!

Why I Thought Middle School Was a Nefarious Ploy to Abandon Children in the Wild

I read a lot as a kid. As I was entering junior high school, I had already finished all of the Goosebumps series of books and moved onto R.L. Stine’s Fear Street novels.

Beyond the watered-down horror, I had also finished all of the Choose Your Own Adventure books (reading through every adventure option, of course) at my local library, along with a handful of classics like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, James and the Giant Peach, Charlotte’s Web, Black Beauty, and a whole slew of other books.

I read, and I read a lot, and I read for fun. When I entered junior high, the horror, fantasy, adventure, and whimsy all made way for a series of books about children stranded on islands and having to survive without adults.

Sounds fun, right?

Except, why now? I would ask myself. Why would we have to read three novels in a row with survival without adults as the central theme?

Story Shots: Resolutions

Story_Shots

I have a very negative view of resolutions. I see them as promises we make ourselves that never work out. We make these promises because of cultural pressures to be better, or different, or new, but really, we are what we are, aren’t we? And if we want to change, a resolution isn’t going to be the motivating factor that does it. This is just my personal perspective, though. Our writer’s have other opinions.


It was the end of a particular nasty year, crammed with failure, transition, and plain bad luck. If I ever needed a year of salvation, this shiny 2011 was it. Farewell procrastination and debt—welcome gym and flossing! Tonight was my conversion to the real new Missy. I celebrated by buying another goldfish.

I have an affection for goldfish despite their lidless eyes, floating strings, and general refusal to stay alive. My room was never complete without that shimmering drop of gold. Each unlucky fish, however, became the next white belly tossed about by the bubbles from my air filter within two weeks. The day I flounced home with Ivan floating grumpily in his bag, I was resolute: This one was staying alive, damnit.

When two weeks came and went, my future with Ivan seemed promising. Although he wobbled his fat body away from my every friendly gesture and seemed bored as hell, Ivan was healthy. I fed him, cleaned his tank, and infused his water with oxygen and the best of intentions. Then one day before the three-week mark, my fish was suddenly a chunk of orange floating upside down, his magnificent fantail wilted.

Frraaaaaackkk!

I accepted defeat. I sanitized my one-fish-tank for good, zip-locked the purple rocks, bid all my wasted fish names goodbye, and locked the mess in the attic, weary. I had wanted to check each goal from my list; I had wanted to enjoy a happy life with Ivan; I had wanted to be a proud, accomplished, content version of myself. Trust a goldfish to put you in your place.

I don’t know why I saved that fish gear. Maybe I’m just secretly afraid I will never try again and this time succeed.

– Missy Lacock


She was just a girl in my class in summer school. I guess we were friends. I didn’t really like her all that much, but she was dating one of my friends from school so I had always been nice to her.

She was at my house. We didn’t have any plans. It was a slumber party with just two people. It was December 31st, 1999. Y2K was the great fear of the day, and we spent the night listening to rock music on KROQ and DJ’s crack jokes about the end of the digital world.

We were 16 years old and in my parent’s house, so there was no alcohol to speak of. We were eating chips and drinking Coke. My house had always been a Coke house, despite my personal like of Sprite and Pepsi. I wasn’t in command or control, so Coke it was.

“Sean isn’t very big,” she started to comment. Sean was my friend. I really didn’t want to hear about his dick size.

“Did you want to watch a movie or something?” I awkwardly tried to change the subject.

“And he’s about this thick,” she continued, holding up two of her small fingers.

Can You Rewrite Your Inner Monologue?

Recently the New York Times ran an article titled, “Writing Your Way to Happiness,” which looked at:

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

Who doesn't want happiness?
Who doesn’t want happiness?

Joking aside, I write a lot of creative nonfiction based on my life and I draw a lot of inspiration for my poetry from past experiences too. So I don’t necessarily write as a therapeutic way of dealing with the past, but I do have some personal experience with writing narratives about the past that gave me insights I might not have found otherwise.

Is There Such A Thing As “The Great American Novel”?

I used to joke a lot about the “great American novel,” about how I’d like to write it. This was when I was younger and still thought such a thing existed.

Growing up, I read books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, and Catcher in the Rye without even fully understanding them, but for their greatness. The fact that we still read them at all was a testament to that. And later, in college, the reading lists in my American Lit courses grew even denser and long. I read Maya Angelou, Sandra Cisneros, Junot Diaz—a different sort of America I’d never seen up close.

How can one book represent all of those authors’ Americas? How can they represent my own?

Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, in a recent piece called “Why Are We Obsessed With the Great American Novel?”, wrote “America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power.” In Strayed’s opinion, the “great American novel” is a collection of stories and voices, not just one shining emblem.

Literary Paraphernalia: DIY Book Totes

Sometimes I have more books to carry than I have bags to carry them in. It’s a sad but true story. That’s what inspired this post of DIY totes. And, for those that can’t sew, I also have some cool DIY sew-free totes.

So, if you’re like me and need some extra totes to cart around your abundant book collection, look no further.

10 Minute T-Shirt Bag (No-Sew)

This could also be called a “Where’s Waldo” style t-shirt tote.

Easy Drawstring Tote

These are not only easy, but adorable.

The 20 Minute Tote

This is a great starter project if you’re just learning how to sew.

Fold-Up Tote

For those unexpected book-buying ventures. Just fold it up and stick it in your bag and you’re all ready to bring back an extra bag of books.

Grey and Yellow Tote

This super-sturdy tote takes more time, effort, and skill, but it’s so worth it.

Shaped Poetry

I wouldn’t call myself a poet, but I do write poetry and do pursue publication of my poems. One weakness I have for poetry is shaped poetry. I’ve tried my hand at it many times, but outside of one shaped poem I’ve completed, I haven’t really fell in love with any of my shaped poems.

John Hollander, a well known American poet, makes some fascinating shaped poetry. For example, his cat poetry:

I want to pet his words.

Exposition: The Good, The Bad, and The Unnecessary

Recently, Cracked.Com ran a great video rant on sloppy exposition in movies. In essence, using a fake news report to set up the exposition of a movie is not only sloppy, but boring and often unnecessary.

This too holds true for literature. There are good and bad ways of introducing the necessary background information of the world a story is set in for the story to make sense.

Just to be clear, when I talk about exposition, I’m referring to narrative exposition, or the insertion or presentation of important background information within a story; for example, information about the setting, characters’ back-stories, prior plot events, chronological context, and so on (Wikipedia).

I’ve always been a fan of the way science fiction does this, as a literary genre. In many science fiction stories, from The Time Machine to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there are characters that are in the dark to what is going on in the world. When The Narrator or Arthur Dent learn something new about this strange world they’re set in, so do the readers. This trick isn’t isolated to the genre of science fiction, but it does work extremely well in sci-fi because it allows a lot of exposition in a way that doesn’t feel strange or forced to the reader.

The Hobbit Movies: Adaptation Gone Mad or A Work of Art?

Part 3 of The Hobbit trilogy has finally come and practically gone, and I have to admit, I didn’t go and see it.

I’m a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, I’ve read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, his translation of Beowulf, and some of his criticisms, but I just didn’t have a strong desire to watch The Hobbit‘s final installment.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” One of the best opening lines to any children’s book.

While I’m not one that hates movie adaptations if they aren’t 100% true to the book, I feel that The Hobbit films suffered from overindulgence, or, that is to say, the movies really became more about Peter Jackson’s vision than the story itself.

I did see Part 1 and Part 2 of the trilogy, and I was underwhelmed. While the visual effects were fun, the story relied far too heavily on them and, at times, felt extremely long and drawn out for no other reason than to add more digital effects.

Missy Lacock, fellow writer in this blog, is more forgiving than I am of the adaptation of The Hobbit into three movies:

National Readathon Day January 24th, 2015

The National Book Foundation, Penguin Random House, Goodreads, and Mashable would like to invite you all to read. It’s as simple as that. This Saturday, January 24th, 2015, at noon, people are encouraged to pick up a book (or two) and read for four hours.

The goal is not just to read, but to raise the literacy levels of the nation. Teachers, librarians, bookshop owners, and bloggers (like us!) are encouraged to spread the word and get people reading. You can do your part by sharing this information with friends, family, and coworkers over social media, but there’s also more you can do to help literacy levels in America.

There is also a fundraising aspect of this readathon. The National Book Foundation has formed a page over at FirstGiving.com to help raise money to:

…expand the audience for literature in America. Through programs like BookUp, our afterschool reading program; 5 Under 35, our annual award celebrating young writers; the Innovations in Reading Prize, which recognizes programs and individuals doing remarkable work in ther service of literature; and the National Book Awards, we strive to ensure Americans of all ages and backgrounds can attain and engage with literature in a meaningful way.