Heading off to Pride…and a book rec.

So, here we are again. It’s June (almost) and that means Pride celebrations will be happening all over the place, including Edmonton, where I will be heading on Saturday with my daughter and some young friends from work who’ve never been to a Pride celebration but always wanted to.

First of all, for those people who’ve been asking Pride is celebrated in June as a tribute to the Stonewall Riots that took place on June 28, 1969 and started at the Stonewall Pub in New York. I could write a lot of things about Stonewall and the brave people there who took a stand, but I’m just going to leave you the link and let you all read it for yourself.

Ever since there, people have come together to celebrate and support the LGTBQ community in June. And that’s where I’m taking my daughter.

She’s been before, a couple of years ago.. I went the year before myself and even though I was alone, I enjoyed myself so much and couldn’t wait to take her the next year.

Why did I go? Because I wanted to show my support for a community that is often discriminated against for no good reason. Loving someone is not something that should even be used against you to cause you pain or suffering and for these people it so often is.

I also went to show support for the people I write about. I have met some of the most amazing and wonderful people since I started writing m/m novels and I want to express my love and adoration for those people who have been so kind to me. Plus, it was a lot of fun being around people who are so happy to be able to be themselves. That kind of joy is contagious and something that everyone should be able to feel.

Why did I take my daughter? Because I want her to live in a better world and it’s children like her who will make it better. I want to live in a world where my grandchildren will say “Really Nan? There was really a time when gay people couldn’t get married? That’s so weird!”

It’s already different for you. When I took her, I wrote a blog post about how it felt to watch her experience Pride for the first time. I kept waiting for that “aha” moment, when she looked around and realized that this was how things SHOULD be all the time. I was disappointed for a while when she just took it all in stride and then I had a little epiphany of my own. To her, this was how it was and there was no surprise for her, because this how I raised her.

To Meg, the parade was fun, because you know, they always are, and it was awesome walking around, exploring the booths and meeting new people, but for her. there was nothing out of the ordinary because I raised her to  live in the world I wanted it to be, not in world that still is in so many places.

She thinks discrimination of any kind is just stupid and she doesn’t understand why anyone would look down on anyone else because of race, religion or sexual orientation. She’s always saying “there’s so many real things in the world to worry about. Why do people care who other people love?”

I’m pretty damn proud of her.

So this year, I’m taking more people with me. A girl I work with has always wanted to go but was reluctant to go alone. I get that. For a lot of people, roaming around a bunch of strangers is a scary experience and when I told her she could go with us, she was thrilled to get the chance. Then her boyfriend asked to come and I said why not? The more the merrier, right?

I can’t wait. I think we are going to have a lot of fun. Hopefully we will meet new friends and run into some old ones. My kid will come home decked out in rainbows, tired and happy with lots of stories to tell and hopefully so will our friends.

And you never know what kind of interesting things can happen when you set out on an adventure. The parade has been moved to one of my favorite parts of town so there will be lots to explore, we will spend some time walking around the University of Alberta as well, and it’s a pretty cool place too.

I’ll let you all know if something interesting happens.

Ok, so for all you asking, I’m still working on Love Aggression. I have some edits in the works and then I will decide what to do with it, whether it means submitting to another publisher or self-publishing, I still love this book, so I’m determined that it will see the light of day.

I’ve also got a couple WIP’s on the go, so I’m keeping busy.

Now for my fic rec. I have two actually. The first one is Floodgates by Mary Calmes. It’s from Dreamspinner Press and I have to say, this author never lets me down. I always go into a Mary Calmes story knowing I’m going to finish it with a smile on my face.

Tracy is an amazing man who made me smile on the first page of the story. Smart, sexy and stubborn he stole my heart from the get-go. He loves fiercely, whether the person is  a friend, family or a lover and there’s nothing he won’t do for someone he cares about.

And Cord stole Tracy’s heart. He’s a big, gruff man who has love Tracy for a long time, but never gives in to his heart until Tracy lets him know that it’s all right to do it.

Check it out here at DSP. You won’t be sorry.

My second book is Otter Chaos by P. D. Singer. Lon and Corey are two of the most adorable characters I’ve ever read and ottershifter Lon is to cute for words. When the author gets inside Lon’s head when he’s an otter, I was absolutely entranced.

If you’re looking for a book that’s has a little sad, but then a whole lot of happy, this is the story for you. Find it here at Amazon.

Also, Dreamspinner has given their site an amazing update so go and check it out as well. You can find me here and I hope you like what you find.

Of course, I’m also on Amazon so look me up.

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Well, that didn’t go as expected….

So, for the last two and a half years, I’ve been talking about this story I was writing. I was madly in love with it (still am as a matter of fact) and couldn’t wait for it to be published.

Well, about that….

So I submitted it to my publisher and for the very first time, I wasn’t really worried. With every other story I fretted and worried and I was sure they were going to say no. But they never did and so I got a little cocky. But not for the first time, life had a little twist for me.

They didn’t take it.

They had their reasons and I’m trying really hard not to let it get me down, but it’s much easier said than done. I spent the first couple days crying whenever I thought about it. It broke my heart to be honest. It’s like being told that your child just isn’t good enough. I put my heart and soul into that story and I honestly still think it has the best characters I’ve ever written.

So now what? Every writer goes through this and in my head I know it’s not the end of the world. It’s not even the end of the story. I”ve got someone looking it over, and hopefully he can help me address the issues the publisher pointed out and I will re-submit. Not sure where yet. I’ll ask the publisher if they’d be willing to take another look once it’s been edited and if not, I’ll look for another one. I’m reluctant to do that because I love my publisher and working with them has been more amazing than I ever could have hoped when I started on this journey in 2011. But I still think my story is good and my pre-readers seem to agree with me, so I won’t give up.

But man, my hearts a little sore…and I’m a little  embarrassed. As the song goes, I’m an emotional girl and while I try hard to not to let the emotions get the best of me, well, I’m only human.

I have a good friend though, who’s helping me through it. He’s a writer too and knows how it feels and his support and encouragement mean a lot to me and keep me from falling too far into the doldrums. Thanks for that Ash.

So, while I’m waiting for the suggestions from the guy who’s going over it, I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I should be writing and I’m trying. I have a couple of story ideas, one that started as a short but I can tell is going to need a few more words than the 18,000 the publisher is looking for the anthology they are putting together. The other really is going to be a short story that I’ll hopefully get finished in time to submit.

And I’m terrified about the whole damn thing. I know rejection is the chance you take when you put yourself out there, no matter how you do it, but I’ll admit to spending a few days contemplating chucking the whole writer thing because I wasn’t sure it was worth the damage that it was doing to my self-esteem, which can be a little shaky at the best of time.

But I also know that writing is truly a part of who I am. The idea of not writing makes me feel like there would be a great big hole in the person I am, because I also remember that when I finally started it felt like a puzzle piece sliding into place. (Yeah mom, I know, you told me so. I should have listened to you sooner.)

So, I don’t really have any definite ideas of where I’m going or what I’m doing, but I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on. There’s always a plot bunny running around in my head and on the days I can, I’ll sit down and commit the words to paper and pen (or computer screen in my case) and on the days I can’t, I’ll probably berate myself for a while and then sit down to write anyway (although I may end up just reading on those days.)

Giving up just isn’t in my nature. I’m kinda stubborn and tend to do things even when they might not be the best thing for me. And in this case, I don’t really think I have a choice but to let my imagination run wild….I might explode if I try to keep it all in and that would be very, very messy.

So, thanks for sticking with me and I hope you’ll have patience. I will have something coming hopefully not too far in the future.

In the meantime…have you read my books? 😁 You can find them here at Dreamspinner Press or here at Amazon

 

Keep looking for the beauty in whatever you see. Like this full moon photo by my favorite photographer, Anthony Aceto.

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I can’t believe I finished! Now the fun begins…and a book rec

Wow, after two years, tons of angst and tears, I finally finished my WIP. Love Aggression has been a labour of love and it’s been a hell of a thing to write. I’m so glad it’s done.

After walking away from it for a couple of days, the time has come to start going over it and get it ready for submission. After all this, if my publisher doesn’t take it, I might just lose my freaking mind.

The title Love Aggression comes from a conversation I had with a friend of mine. We were talking about his dog, a pit bull that was a rescue animal. The dog had issues because he had been abused and starved so he was so terrified of his meal being taken away that it made him very aggressive at feeding time. This friend had another dog as well and so both animals had to be fed in separate rooms or the rescue dog would attack the other one if she came even close to his food. This behaviour is called food aggression and is common in animals who have survived being starved.

I was writing this book at the time and in my mind I wondered, what would you do if you’d never had a family, never felt like you’d been loved by anyone and then you found everything you’d been looking for but never expected to have. How far would you go to protect and keep that love in your life if someone bad was threatening to take it away from you, especially when you’re a wolf shifter whose animal instincts tend to have more influence over your personality as a whole.

So, the name got in my head and it sort of became a driving force behind the story, figuring out how my main character dealt with the threat to the family he’d put together.

Now, I know some of you reading this are wondering what a wolf-shifter is. The best I can come up with is that they are sort of like a werewolf, without all the “grrrrr kill and eat people” that seems to come with the full moon in all the movies. It’s probably my favorite genre for books at the moment and I really can’t get enough of reading them.

So, as for the fun part that’s just starting? Going over the damn thing, looking for spelling, grammar and continuity mistakes and knowing full well that if the publisher takes it, their editors will find a few hundred more mistakes that I’m going to miss. I have to check the formatting and make sure it’s ready to be submitted.

And I have to write a synopsis, which is basically me, trying to sum up two years of blood, sweat and tears into a paragraph or two and entice my publisher into taking it. It’s an impossible task that drives me out of what’s left of my mind.

Once it’s been sent off in a hopefully email, there’s two or three months of nail-biting and hand-wringing as I wait and see if all my hopes and dreams are going to be crushed.

I know, it all sounds very dramatic but that’s how it honestly feels to me. Imagine if someone told you that “it’s a really great attempt, but your child just doesn’t make the cut, so throw it out and try something else.” As my friend keeps telling me, I kind of over think everything….it’s truly a curse, lol.

So, what do I do while I’m waiting? Reading…cause I never stop that. Reviewing, because that let’s me read more, and of course, writing. There’s always another little plot bunny running around in my head, and I have at least two other WIP started and abandoned in favour of getting Love Aggression finished.

And there’s life stuff, what with working and housecleaning and everything else. I’ll have friends and family to keep me distracted and some, like Ash and Dani and Louse who will prop me up and keep me from worrying too much. And smack me (virtually) when I moan about not being good enough and how I know it’s going to be rejected. They’re good friends.

And speaking of reading and shifter stories, I just read a fantastic one.

Otter Chaos by P.D. Singer is a wonderful story that just pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. I love how the author portrays both the human version of Lon and the otter version. She gets inside his head and makes us fall in love with him.

Corey is the most understanding of boyfriends and completely enraptured by Lon.

It’s been a while since I loved a book so much, so I highly recommend Otter Chaos and it included the short that got the story started, Tail Slide.

You can find it here at Amazon.

And of course, you can find all my stuff at Amazon.com here and here at Dreamspinner Press.

This photo by Anthony Aceto seems like a good example of where wolves might like to run!

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It’s World AIDS Day Once Again.

So, I looked back on my post from last year on this day. Not much has changed, I’m even working on the same story, although its almost done now.

I tried to explain to someone today why I feel the need to write about this issue and I had a hard time finding the words. I think back to the 80’s when the epidemic seemed to sweep through the western world like a brush fire. It was everywhere, on the news, in the papers but the first time I heard of it, it was being called “gay cancer”. I was horrified by the term and something told me that it wasn’t right, but I was too young and foolish to go looking for the proper answers.

I was stupid back then. I wasn’t always safe. I was convinced in my early 20’s that no one I knew or could possibly meet would ever be infected. I didn’t hang out with IV drug users and to my knowledge, I’d never actually met anyone who was gay. I was living with a false sense of security that makes me cringe with embarrassment when I think about it. I was on the pill so I didn’t need to worry about being pregnant, right? Sigh, like I said, stupid.

If my daughter were to behave like that, I would beat her over the head with medical books until she realized the error of her ways. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hoping that she will learn from my mistakes. I showed her pictures of the AIDS Quilt Memorial today for the first time. She was shocked at how big it was and once she realized what it was, she got a little teary-eyed. She also love the idea of the quilt and thought it was an amazing way to remember someone you loved and lost to this terrible disease. If you’ve never seen it, check it out here!

I remember seeing the Ryan White story back in 1989 and thinking that if only the governments of the world had moved sooner and taken the precautions that were necessary, then maybe that little boy wouldn’t have gotten sick. So many people died because of the fear and arrogance of government officials who decided that a disease seemed to target gay men wasn’t something they needed to worry about. You can read more about Ryan’s story here.

I didn’t realize how bad it was until “And the Band Played On” came out in 1993. It was based on a book by Randy Shilts and as I watched it, I grew horrified at how the gay community had been treated and how all the trusted institutions allowed it to run rampant. People were scared…too scared to talk, so many gay men still in hiding from the discrimination they faced on a daily basis. So the disease kept spreading because it’s hard to help people who haven’t yet figure out how to help themselves. I recommend this movie to anyone who wasn’t around to see the way this whole thing unfolded. You can find the book here and the movie is available on Amazon as well.

The good thing about HIV now, is that it’s not the death sentence it used to be. First of all, it’s preventable. PReP is a medication that seems to be stopping the transmission of the disease and while it’s not a cure, it’s a great start. You can find more information about it here.

And there is Antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people who are already infected. By taking their meds and living a healthy lifestyle, people who are HIV positive are living almost normal life-spans. There are many who think that a cure is not only possible, but probable and coming a lot sooner than most people think. I hope they are right.

Unfortunately, the stigma that is attached to being HIV+ is still going strong and I’m amazed at the misinformation that people still have in this day and age. You can’t get infected by hugging or kissing or touching and I can promise you, that you’ve probably met someone who is HIV positive and you don’t even know it.

So, go and check out the World Aids Day site and get informed here. Because I’m Canadian, I’m spreading the word in my own country and so you crazy Canuks can check out this site.

And for everyone’s sake, get tested….knowing your status is the most important first move you can make. Something like 60 percent of the people in the world who are HIV positive have no idea. That means they aren’t getting the treatment they need and they are spreading the disease unknowingly. Scary thought isn’t it?

I guess I still didn’t find the words to explain WHY this is so important to me. I wish I knew. I just know that for a very long time, it’s something that caught my attention and I want to do anything I can to spread the word about HIV awareness and to help end the stigma attached to it. I’ve always been known for sticking my nose into things, so maybe this is a good way for me to use that “unique” skill set that I have.

And I guess I care because people are still dying and it’s something we all should care about.

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It’s Spirit Day…I’ve got my purple on.

First of all, what is Spirit Day? This is what it says on the website.

Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying. Following a string of high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.

Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday in October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and has become the most visible day of support for LGBT youth.

An amazing teenager, Brittany McMillan, wanted to remember those young people who lost their lives to suicide and to take a stand against bullying.

Now, for the hard part. Why do I care? I’m not gay, neither is my child. I don’t know anyone who has committed suicide over being bullied (that I know of anyway), so why does it strike such a chord in my heart? Why does it bother me so much?

Because it should bother all of us.

No child should ever be made to feel like dying is the only way to escape a terrifying, miserable situation. It doesn’t matter if you are being bullied by strangers, other kids at school or someone in your family, you should never be made to feel like you are facing it all alone.

I was bullied as a kid. I can still vividly remember what it felt like standing in the middle of that school playground, surrounded by kids, even some that I considered to be friends. I was taunted and called names and at some point, one of the kids knelt behind me and another pushed me backwards, causing me to fall. (Now I’m older, I realize they were kind of stupid. I fell hard on the kid behind me and elbowed him in the head.)

At that point, I’d never felt more alone in my life, although my other memory of that day was my little sister booking it for home as fast as she could run, screaming at my tormentors over her shoulder to leave me the hell alone. (Thanks sis). I’m sure it wasn’t more than about 15 minutes that I was stuck there, unable to get away, sobbing my heart out because I couldn’t figure out what I’d don’t to deserve that kind of treatment. I was a fat kid and that was about where my sins ended. I was a good person and a good friend. I liked everyone and would do anything to help someone out. I took care of my brother and sister, did okay in school and loved my folks. But, none of that mattered more to those kids in that circle than the fact that I was fat. Even now when I say it out loud, it sounds stupid to me.

My mom came to my rescue that day. When that car screeched up to the curb and she came flying across the field (in her slippers) threatening to beat the living crap out of every one of those kids, I’d never been so glad to see her.

I was lucky that day. Unfortunately, not every child is and for members of LGBTQ community, the chance that they will end up being bullied is even greater.

It drives me a little insane to think that someone could be literally bullied to death because of who they love. Shouldn’t we all be more worried about who people hate than who they love?

In my house, there is only three words that are completely banned. Everyone knows that saying them in my presence will most likely get you smacked up the back of the head and the power of my disappointment is even worse.

In my house, the f-word isn’t what you think it is. I say fuck on a daily basis (I’m working on it, okay?) but say the word “fag” or “faggot” and I will most likely escort you out of my house and probably my life (unless you actually are talking about a cigarette in Britain or a burning bundle of sticks, but you’d better clarify quickly).

In case you’re curious, the other two words I can’t stand? Cunt and nigger. The first one will get you smacked across the fact, no matter who you are, and the second will get you a huge lecture and then the whole escort out of my house thing. Those three words are probably the most disrespectful words than can be said and are only ever said to hurt.

And in my house, no one says “that’s so gay” because they know I will give them shit. Gay is not a synonym for stupid or dumb and I make sure everyone knows it.

So, what does this all have to do with my participation in Spirit Day? Because I can relate. What I went through as a kid was really nothing compared to what some kids face every damn day and there were times that I felt like I didn’t actually want to survive.

I wear purple every Spirit Day along with my rainbow bracelet and my HRC pin (ok, I wear the last two most days) and when anyone asks, I tell them about Spirit Day and kids like Tyler Clementi, Blake Brockington, Jaime Hubley, Alexander McQueen, and Leelah Alcorn. I tell them about being lost and alone at a time when so much is happening in life and how I’m saddened that any life so bright can be snuffed out my bigotry, ignorance, cruelty and stupidity.

I tell people LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and that these same youth are 8 times more likely to try killing themselves if they have been rejected by their families.

I also tell them that both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at a higher risk of suicide than their peers and children who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk.

And I tell them if they know a youth who is a part of the LGBTQ community, whether a friend or family member or the kid down the street, they should always let them know they support them as they struggle their way toward adulthood. And you should remind them that eventually, things get better and they need to be around to see it.

I’m closing this out with this amazing video from Todrick Hall called “It Gets Better

I’m also adding one of the most beautiful renditions of “True Colors” I’ve ever heard. From the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

 

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14 years….and it still seems surreal.

So, 14 years ago, I was sitting on the couch with my daughter, who had turned 4 months old that day. I turned on the news as I usually did and was immediately horrified by what I was seeing in front of me.

I tuned in after the first plane hit the World Trade Centre but before the second and I watched with terrible fear as that plane hit. I’ll be honest, the first thing I did was call my dad. Why? Because a few months before we had both read a Tom Clancy novel about a plane being flown into the Capitol Building and I was in such shock. I said “Dad, someone was reading that damn book.”

I never moved from in front of my TV that day. When the news came in from Pennsylvania and the Pentagon, I looked at my girl and wondered exactly what kind of world I had brought her into. And I cried, a lot. My whole family was nervous and scared and we called my brother, who was on his honeymoon in Washington state to get his ass home.

Over the next few days, we all watched as they desperately searched for someone (please God anyone) to be found in the rubble, but in the end, there were very few survivors after the fall.

Driving past the airport over the next couple of days was eerie, with all those planes sitting there and nothing coming and going. It made me wonder if the end of the world was coming far sooner than I ever thought possible.

At the fire hall in town the flag flew at half mast and the American Flag was up in the window for months afterward in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the US, and it brought tears to my eyes every time I saw it.

Did I mention that I’m Canadian? I live in the middle of the prairies. I couldn’t be much farther from New York City and still be on the same continent. But for a few months after September 11th, the whole world was brought closer as we reached out to help in any way that we could. As the flights landed and planes were grounded, stranded people were welcomed by small towns and big cities. Folks opened their homes and their hearts and their wallets and we all did our best in a situation that never occurred to us we could be in. Everyone thought that something so terrible could never happen in the United States. It was a false sense of security for so many people who not only live in the US but who depend on it’s seeming strength for reassurance.

I bought the People Magazine that came out a few weeks later and I still have it. My daughter took it to school a few years ago when they were discussing what happened in class. The photos seem like movies stills and the kids who look at them really can’t understand the scope of what happened and what was lost that day. So many lives were snuffed out for no reason that will ever make sense. We also lost our innocence that day. We believed that here in the western world that we were safe and protected here but if it can happen in NY it can happen anywhere.

Anyway, this post is just my thoughts and memories about what happened that day. I will never forget those people who died. The ones in the buildings and the planes. The ones who ran from danger and escaped and the police and firefighters who ran into danger and didn’t.

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Where in the hell have I been???? And yes, I have a book rec!

So, life has been a little busy. To say the very least.

I quit my dayhome after 12 years and took a job as a cashier at a local grocery store and after 6 months, some foolish person made me the Front End Manager (sorry boss, you’re awesome) and it feels like I’ve been running in circles ever since.

However, today I sat down and wrote 2000 words for the first time in forever and it felt damn good. My shifter WIP is finally going again and I can’t wait to get it done. I’m so proud of it and I hope you guys are all gonna like it.

And so much has happened in the world of equality.

In the United States, everyone is entitled to get married to the person they love. And isn’t that just the grandest thing?

The law says so, no matter what small-minded county clerks in Kentucky think and by the way, Kim Davis you should be ashamed of yourself. You are not someone who should be trying to represent “marital purity”  with your background and it’s sad that they didn’t just fire you for not doing your damn job. This circus you’ve created to grab your 15 minutes of fame is shameful and unnecessary and I’m betting that there are a lot of Christians out there who are ashamed of your bigotry.

Okay, there’s my rant for the day. I refuse to give this woman one more minute of attention.

So, what else is new? My girl is starting grade 9 this week and I keep looking at her and wondering how in the hell that happened. She’s so smart and funny and sarcastic and beautiful and every single time I look at her, I’m so proud to be her mother. I mean, she’s 14 years old and is taking World History as one of her optional classes! She could be taking foods, or woodworking or something but no, she’s basically taking Social Studies on purpose! God I love her!

My sister got married to the man of her dreams and it was a beautiful wedding. It was about as country as you can get and everyone had a blast and I’m so happy for her and her kids and the new family she’s building with this amazing man who makes her smile.

On the writing side of things, I’m waiting for the release of my first audiobook. That’s right, Wrapped Up in Chains is coming soon as an audiobook and I admit that I might have squealed a little when I heard about it.

I also have an idea for a sequel to Wrapped but I refuse to start anything until Love Aggression is finished. I am done being distracted away from this story.

So yeah, that’s a pretty boring update I guess. I’ve been working so damn much that there really hasn’t been time for much of anything else, but I promise that I’m going to try to do better with these blog updates, okay Aunty LeAnn?

I do have a rec for you as well. The College Rose Romances by Ashavan Doyon are a perfect set of stories for those of you who like their stories to feel a little more real. Loving Aidan, Steven’s Heart and Andrew’s Prayer are not fluffy. There is pain and angst and so much heart in this wonderful series and I encourage you all to check them out. You can find Ashavan on Amazon here.

And of course, you can find me on Amazon as well here.

And for your viewing pleasure, a gorgeous photograph by Anthony Aceto. He’s amazing with a camera.

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Filed under I'm so excited!, Things I'm Thankful For, Writing and thinking.