Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Dog Ate My Homework."

I was brave and emailed this to one of my English Ed professors -- a female -- explaining my absence today. I don't have the chutzpa to send it to my male English Ed professor, whose class I also missed. So, due to my cowardess, I will post it on the World Wide Web for all to see:

Dear Dr. Dean,

Since I am not in class right now as I should be, I thought I'd write something tragic and comical to explain my absence.

I am on my period right now, and like any responsible female with a menstrual cycle, I carry around a small supply of tampons with me at all times. Today, I felt even more responsible since I remembered to pack a nutritious lunch of yogurt, soup, and an orange. "Wow, I am a competent, happy adult," I thought to myself.

It was going to be a great day. Or so I thought.

Pretty early in the morning, at work, I knew something was wrong because of some serious cramping. Perhaps it was not going to be a great day, but since I was prepared for the worst my period could throw at me, I did not fear.

By the time Engl 420 with Dr. Crowe was about to start, I knew I needed to go to the bathroom to change my tampon. My flow had been heavy today, and it would be my second trip before noon to take care of things. Imagine my horror when I reached down into the depths of my backpack, only to discover that my tampons -- conveniently paper wrapped, with a cardboard applicator, all so wonderfully absorbent and eager for moisture -- were soaking wet. In chicken broth. With parsley flakes clinging to them. In my backpack. On a very heavy period day. And that the chicken broth had also leaked onto homework. Books. A leather keychain from Uruguay. Post-it notes. My work notebook.

I do thank my lucky stars that my backpack is inversely waterproof, because the broth formed a small lake in the bottom of my backpack, prohibiting even one drop from escaping. No, everything sat in a lovely chicken broth marinade for probably an hour or more. Lucky me.

I improvised for Dr. Crowe's class, thinking I might make it and that miraculously I wouldn't smell too strongly of chicken soup as I held all my books and papers outside my backpack, piling my other smaller personal items in an upper, external pocket away from the chicken broth sea in my bag, with lumpy chunks of sodden paper towel frantically absorbing the mess. The mess was contained, but beyond that I still stunk of chicken, my things were getting more ruined by the minute, and I still needed a tampon desperately. So, I'm sorry to report that I fled for the confines of my tiny home south of campus.

And that is why, Dr. Dean, I was not in class today. I'll contact a classmate to get notes for the day, but would you please send me any handouts from today? If it is more convenient, I can pass by your office tomorrow, too.



PS - This story is 100% true. Devastatingly, horribly, wonderfully true.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

You've Come a Long Way, Baby

This made me guffaw. Happy Wednesday!

In other news, NaNoWriMo is hard! 1,667 words is a lot of words to write in one day, and when you're inexperienced like me, well, sometimes I feel like someone's asking me to do 20 cartwheels per day when really I can't even do one. Anyway.

It is nice to have your no. 1 responsibility be to write and not necessarily to craft. So it's just pouring out the words and worrying about all the details later. Yay novels!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

TBF @ PCL 2010 with Scott Westerfeld


(Photos taken on my new phone. The era of the flip phone has ended. Good riddance.)

Okay, with that overly simplistic statement out of the way, the first Teen Book Fest at the Provo City Library was an enormous success in this girl's humble opinion. Several hundred people turned out for Scott Westerfeld's keynote address, and many more people came for three hours of book giveaways, signings, and readings by Westerfeld and 15 Utah authors, including Chris Crowe (my YA Lit professor), Brandon Mull of Fablehaven fame, the prolific Brandon Sanderson, up-and-coming novelist Ally Condie, and two of my personal favorites, Ann Dee Ellis and Carol Lynch Williams. Other festivities included DIY Specials tattoo face painting, steampunk jewelry making, Smash Brother Brawl on the Wii-ing (sorry, I just really wanted you all to say Wii-ing in your heads), Literary Jeopardy, and much general merry-making.

Sigh, my heart is full.

And you gotta love a dozen or so librarians dressed in steampunk garb. Not sure what steampunk is? Talk to Wikipedia. There's also an interesting article about steampunk costuming with great pictures here.

Why the steampunk? Westerfeld, probably best known for the Uglies series, has just released book 2 of the Leviathan triology, a steampunk take on WWI (what would happen if the Archduke were murdered... and you were his kid? And the world had its high tech revolution 100 years ago?). I confess that I have not read Leviathan, or the second book, Behemoth, but after yesterday's cultural immersion, I am fascinated and have both books waiting for my indulgence. Trick is, I have to finish Tenderness by Robert Cormier first. Shudder. I'm not sure how much more I can take inside the mind of an 18-year-old psychopathic serial killer. It's taxing, let's put it that way.

Anyway, back to Westerfeld. He was a fantastic lecturer, talking primarily on the experience of collaborating with illustrator Keith Thompson. FASCINATING. It all began when he received the Japanese edition of Uglies, complete with illustrations. Westerfeld posted one of the illustrations on his blog - Tally and Shay on their hoverboards - and mayhem ensued on the internet.

English-language fans were outraged - where were their illustrations??

Westerfeld said a wise 12-year-old Japanese Manga reader explained that in Japan, about 90% of what is published includes illustrations throughout. It's part of their reading experience. It would be weird NOT to have illustrations, even in a novel for an adult audience.

So Westerfeld thought that was pretty awesome, and because he was cool and famous enough to boss around his editors (I assume), he was able to write an illustrated novel. Hello Leviathan. Westerfeld describes the artwork in the books as "Victorian Manga". Westerfeld said that after the first 5 or 6 chapters, Thompson caught up to him in the illustration process. Thompson was like, "Hello, I need more chapters to do my job!" So Westerfeld said he should move forward with a few illustrations, and he would write them in. And so they procdeded, Westerfeld and Thompson co-developing some of the wild steampunk inventions that feature in the novel.

Pretty sweet.

Westerfeld was a great storyteller. I know Provo Channel 17 taped everything. I'll post when/if I ever find it rebroadcast. The whole thing was quite tasty. Can't wait for next year's Book Fest.

(Will I even be here??)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Without Question, I Have a Problem

I like to read. A lot.

We're talking possibly unhealthy amounts of love for the act of reading.

In the last 6 weeks, I've read 24 books.

I read books at red lights.

I read books while I'm walking places.

Once, a boy I know who's pretty cute and nice and funny saw me reading a book in the Subway line here on campus. He was waiting in the Teriyaki Stix line. I really liked the book I was reading. He invited me to eat lunch with him. Tempting. But the book was better. I lied. I said I had to get right back to work, that I had things to do at the office during lunch. It wasn't true. I just wanted to keep reading my book in the precious 52 minutes remaining of my lunch hour.

I read every night in bed before I go to sleep.

I read books while watching movies.

I read books instead of doing homework.

I read instead of answering the phone.

I currently have 13 books checked out from the BYU library. I also have 11 books checked out from the Provo public library.

I need help.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Instead of Doing Homework

Simini and I have been brainstorming. She's a great illustrator. I like to write. So we feel pretty qualified to organize a collaborative work with some of the best in the business. I ask you now, general public, to consider the following plan of utter and shocking brilliance:

First, contact Danielle Steel.
Kindly ask her for the rights to re-illustrate her children's book masterpiece, Freddie's Accident.
Intrigued? You should be. Check out the manuscript. Favorite excerpts include -

One afternoon, when his sisters and some of their friends were playing in the backyard, Freddie decided he had had enough of girls. I'm not going to analyze this one too deeply.

Suddenly, Freddie kicked the ball right out into the street. Without looking left or right to check for traffic, he ran into the street to get the ball. He knew John would be mad if he lost it. Freddie ran right after the ball without ever looking to see if there were any cars coming, and suddenly, there was a terrible screech. Someone was shouting at him, he could hear a car horn right near his ears, and just as he heard it, he felt something very big knock him down and hit him very hard on the shoulder. Who knew getting hit by a car could be so excrutiatingly extended and bland?

"Remember," the doctor said, "never run into the street after a ball. Never cross a street without looking, or without a grown-up. Never play in the street. And never, ever go anywhere with a stranger." Gee, thanks, doc!

Freddie's Mommy made him some soup that night. When he came into the kitchen, she told him to sit down at the kitchen table. And when Megan and Allison came in and started chasing each other around the room, she told them to sit down too. "It's very dangerous to run around in the kitchen. Stay away from the stove. There are hot pots here, and you could get burned if you touch them, or spill them." One trip to the hospital in one day was more than enough, she said, and Freddie agreed with her. He knew many of the other kitchen rules: Don't use sharp knives; don't play with kitchen equipment; and don't use any of the machines without a grown-up. And, of course, don't use the oven or the stove, and don't ever play with matches. And don't breathe. And never leave the house without your bubble suit! And be sure to bathe in Purell thrice daily!

Got a feel for it? Good.

Now, Simini suggested, and I concur, that Freddie's Accident might be better exploited, er, I mean, developed as a graphic novel chapter book for young readers. Each chapter could be a new accident:

Freddie and the Lawn Mower
Freddie Learns about Rabies
Freddie's Frozen Flagpole Debacle
Freddie: Watch out for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!

Thi$ idea i$ $ounding $uper $well...

Of course, for illustration, we'd have to go with none other than the feminine, delicate, sensitive artist, Allie Brosh.
Artistically bold and honest.

I think our next step is to set up a Twitter chat with our team. Feedback?

Friday, September 17, 2010

For You, Lurlene

I had to read a Lurlene McDaniel book for my Adolescent Lit class. We've got to survey the good, the bad, and the ugly, people.

As restitution for my suffering, I'd just like to take a moment to openly mock Lurlene McDaniel.

Actually, it's the easiest thing I will do today. I will reproduce here, verbatim, her "You'll Want to Read These Other Inspiring Novels by Lurlene McDaniel" list. The mockery will then be perfectly self-inflicted.


One Last Wish novels
Mourning Song
A Time to Die
Mother, Help Me Live
Someone Dies, Someone Lives
Sixteen and Dying
Let Him Live
The Legacy: Making Wishes Come True
Please Don't Die
She Died Too Young
All the Days of Her Life
A Season for Goodbye
Reach for Tomorrow

The Dawn Rochelle novels
I Want to Live
So Much to Live For
No Time to Cry
To Live Again

Other fiction by Lurlene McDaniel
Angel's in Pink: Kathleen's Story
The Time Capsule
Garden of Angels
A Rose for Melinda
Telling Christina Goodbye
How Do I Love Thee: Three Stories
Angel of Mercy
Angel of Hope
Starry, Starry Night: Three Holiday Stories
The Girl Death Left Behind
Angels Watching Over Me
Lifted Up by Angels
Until Angels Close My Eyes
Till Death Do Us Part
For Better, for Worse, Forever
I'll Be Seeing You
Saving Jessica
Don't Die, My Love
Too Young to Die (didn't we already have this one???)
Goodbye Doesn't Mean Forever
Somewhere Between Life and Death
Time to Let Go
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
When Happily Ever After Ends

and my all time favorite,

drum roll please...


Excerpts from Angels in Pink: Raina's Story forthcoming.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hilary's Rules for Completing Long Reading Assignments

First, the Qualifications for Long Reading Assignment Status:
1. Longer than 5 textbook pages OR longer than 2 academic publication pages, the latter of which intimidate me inexplicably.
2. Regardless of length, beastly philosophical approach OR intense word choice OR both.

Second, the Rules:
1. You must read the equivalent of one page from an academic publication before being rewarded.
2. You do not have to perfectly understand each page, but you must get the overall gist before being rewarded.
3. If you cheat, you have to read two horrible pages in a row. No exceptions.

Third, the Rewards:
1. Paint two finger nails (one coat limit, please).
2. Watch one episode of Vlogbrothers.
3. Go to the bathroom and read one chapter of Elsewhere. To prevent cheating, the bathroom is conveniently claustrophobic and dank.
4. Go upstairs and say hello to Simini. 5 minute limit.
5. Only one reward per page read.

In an Emergency:

It's going to be a long semester. Photo credits: Simini.

The End.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I spent all day Saturday with my mom and her family in Beaver, Minersville, and Adamsville, Utah, learning more about my Gillins line (maternal grandfathers family. I photographed over 100 grave sites to put on findagrave.com, but I also caught some neat shots of my early family's Adamsville stomping grounds. Some photos for your enlightenment:

The old family own. My fifth-great grandfather built this home after immigrating from England, living in Philadelphia for several years, and then crossing the plains to join the saints in Utah. This home is amazing, there are four large rooms on the main floor, each with a fireplace. I was so impressed with the beautiful brick, the simple layout. It was a very large home for the 19th century. Heck, it's still a big home! Wish I had a good chunk of cash, I'd pay to move this house and restore it...

Friday, June 25, 2010

What. The. ...

I stole this from Cakewrecks, but it was just too horrifying to not share with all y'all... all.

An iPad wedding.

Eck, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

Darn you, iPad! Imma take you down, foo!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sometimes a girl needs a little work done...

Okay, I disagree intensely with this post title. However, the blog was a little blah. Thank you Simini for addicting me even more deeply to the internet.

So, will be door 1, 2, 3, or 4?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two Nice Thoughts from Daddy-Long-Legs

I finished Daddy-Long-Legs today. It's a super-quick read, but... I only ever managed to read it during class, and thus was limited to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 AM to 2 PM, whilst attempting to look attentive and studious during lectures.

Anyway, the book is written by Jean Webster. Check out this genealogy: obviously, the famous Webster family; her mother, Annie Clemens, was Mark Twain's niece; her father, Charles Luther Webster, was a member of Mark Twain's publishing firm; also in her family tree were the notable Daniel Boone and Eli Whitney. Awesome!

Ironically, no one really took her seriously in the beginning. She was also a terrible speller.

Anyway, her very likable protagonist Judy (Jerusha) has two killer quotes. I know they'll seem ridiculous, but they struck a chord with me.

1. "I don't agree with the theory that adversity and sorrow and disappointment develop moral strength. The happy people are the ones who are bubbling over with kindness. I have no faith in misanthropes."

2. "It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones - I've discovered the true secret of happiness, Daddy, and that is to live in the now. Not to be forever regretting the past, or anticipating the future, but to get the most that you can out of this very instant."

Nice, huh?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bonus Thumbs Up

Best lyrics of this "Single Ladies" cover are when Nataly Dawn sings, "Don't make me sing this part of the song, the lyrics are so bad, so we're going to skip ahead to the single ladies part instead!"

Props. Make sure you watch the video because their music is very much a visual experience. Bought their CD Tribute to Famous People and the 3 More Songs Woot! dealio.

Thumbs up. Thumbs down.

Thumbs up: 500 Days of Summer
Cool cinematography, nonlinear storyline, KILLER wardrobe. Scarily accurate representation of certain aspects of my life. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thumbs down: Letters to Juliet
Wow, so terrible. So painful. Terrible script, worse acting. Good thing Italy is beautiful. That saved the movie. Vanessa Redgrave was the strongest actor; sort of gave one the impression that she was intimidated into doing the movie. Did someone have a gun to her back? Probably. The Taylor Swift song was the highlight of the movie. The highlight. People, that's just sad.

Thumbs up: Pretzel M&Ms and Lindt's A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate
Ok, I didn't like my first bite of pretzel M&Ms, but after a handful, I was hooked. So scrumptious! I mean, just a chocolate covered pretzel with a hard shell. And if you were to take the pretzel part away, you'd have Lindt's A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. Oh. My. Gosh. It's amazing. I know, I was skeptical as well. But it's that addictive sweet and salty element... minus the carbs of a pretzel! Yay.

Thumbs down: Taco Time
Just gross. Enough said.

And to end on a positive note, thumbs up: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Daddy-Long-Legs

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lovin' the Garmin

It's so cool. It's so great. Got me to school when I was pretty late. Need proof? Just look at the time. I'm supposed to be in class in 4 minutes. Woops...
Yes, that is snow. In the end of May. Thank you, Utah.

Anyway, I want a Garmin! This is Tam's. I borrowed/stole it for the weekend. It did a great job, it took us to Disneyland and back. See?
Thank you, Garmin. Thank you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Finally back in the reading saddle.

Oh, rapture! I've been invited to join a book club. The Writers Reading Club. Ah, what zen.

Our first book is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer. I need a snazzier name if I'm ever going to write a novel.

That is all.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Just trying this out...


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why aren't these action dolls on the market?

About 75% of my readership (that is, 3 of the 4 of you) has already seen this video. But it deserves a second view. Enjoy.

For an extra laugh, go to the actual page and read the comments below the video. Hi-lar-i-ous.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Oh yeah, so I did have a birthday...

Here's my cute cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes:
If you try to count the candles, I may have to kill you.
Chocolate Chocolate Chip. With that inimitable cream-cheese-and-butter-divinity of a frosting. I love how they "fill" the hole in the Bundt with frosting. It's good to be decadent.

Can you tell I'm channeling Julie/Julia? I think it's one of my new favorite films. And now to scrounge up Mom's copy of Julia Child's book...

I also got some wonderful things for my birthday: a new cutting mat, fat quarters and squares of assorted blue, orange, and brown fabrics, some more pins and hand needles, and the books below.

I really like getting free stuff!

Yesterday, I got several things for free! Belated birthday prezzies!

First, I got an email from Goodreads that I had won the book First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart & a Third-World Adventure Changed My Life by Eve Brown-Waite. Can't wait to get it in my mailbox... for free!!... in a few weeks. I heart Goodreads. Go there. Be my friend.

Then, Simini dropped the happiness bomb on me last night by giving me a free month's pass to Netflix. THANK YOU!!! I knew that I'd get DVDs in my mailbox but I didn't know there were movies online, ripe for the plucking. I'm watching Julie & Julia right now. So charming. I want to whip up chocolate mousse and incredible pans of butter-seared fish! Ah, to be a hip, powerful woman and a domestic goddess as well. That is my life's ambition.

I also discovered MoneySavingMom.com. I think I have some tuna and some toothpaste coming in the mail. We'll see. Oh, the rapture of shiny packages of free stuff in the shadowy recesses of my mailbox!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More of the Roadtrip.

Some more rockin' pictures:
I must have this chair! It is so cool!
As is this great old record player.
Annie and I thought this how was pretty sweet.
Great front porch. I love that people restore old pioneer homes.
Anyone want a tuna hoagie?
Annie picked out some scrummy bread. Crumbs all over the car on the way home, I assure you.
Annie is shocked by local signage.
With good reason.
I hollered at Annie in a panic to snap a photo of this awesome restaurant. It involved frantically rolling down the window and leaning out, blindly snapping the photo. It turned out AWESOME. Annie titled it, "Accidentally Dynamic."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Open Road

Annie and I paid Grandma and Grandpa Gillins a visit this week. I'll let the photos do the talking.
Pickles for sale at the gas station in Scipio, Utah. We didn't buy one. But it's an excellent specimen of a linguistic aberration.
Annie worked on some origami. Of course.
And she picked out some gems from the swanky rock pile.
Which one, which one...
Some cool stuff.

These are "The Girls." Misty, arthritic old girl. I knew her in her more nimble days. Grayboy, who is neither gray nor a boy. She's a recent addition, just showed up and never left again. And then Daisy. Oh Daisy. The least hygenic feline on the planet. She craves affection, but no will touch her because she is dandruffy and her hair sheds like it's her job to shed. And she has a snaggle tooth. And she drools. Love you, Daisy.