My Bloody Valentine: An Interview with Sonora Taylor

Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers! Today, I bring you a special treat to celebrate dark and deadly love, an interview with Sonora Taylor about her newly published novel, Without Condition.

I was a first reader of Without Condition, and I devoured it! The story is incredibly unique, unrelentingly dark, at times, sexy as hell, and just an altogether fun read.

Before we dive into the interview, a little about Without Condition:

Cara Vineyard lives a quiet life in rural North Carolina. She works for an emerging brewery, drives her truck late at night, and lives with her mother on a former pumpkin farm. Her mother is proud of her and keeps a wall displaying all of Cara’s accomplishments. Cara isn’t so much proud as she is bored. She’s revitalized when she meets Jackson Price, a pharmacist in Raleigh. Every day they spend together, she falls for him a little more — which in turn makes her life more complicated. When Cara goes on her late-night drives, she often picks up men. Those men tend to die. And when Cara comes back to the farm, she brings a memento for her mother to add to her wall of accomplishments. Cara’s mother loves her no matter what. But she doesn’t know if Jackson will feel the same — and she doesn’t want to find out.

Let’s get right to it. What inspired you to write a serial killer coming-of-age love story?

Something that had nothing to do with any of those things, ha ha. I was first inspired when I read an article about Tobias Forge, the lead singer of the band Ghost. Previously, Forge performed under an alias. He said one of the reasons he decided to come forward with his identity was because his mom wouldn’t stop bragging about him to her friends and neighbors. Forge typically performs in full Satanic priest costume, or in full skeleton makeup while wearing a suit. I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of this man’s proud mother walking around saying, “That’s my son!”

 

From there, I thought about what it’d be like if a mother was like that for a child who was actually doing bad things — nay, criminal things. I’m drawn to extremes, and thus thought about what that’d be like if the child was a killer. I went first to a son, but to change things up, I had the child be a daughter. I started thinking of how this mother-daughter dynamic could play out, but it wasn’t until I came up with the daughter meeting a man that the story really took off in my mind. It became less about the absurdity of one mother’s pride and more about testing the limits of unconditional love.

 

What is your writing process like? Was there anything particularly unique about the process of writing Without Condition (anything that surprised you, was funny, was brutal, etc.)?

 

I try to write once a day, and to carve out a little time each day. I usually do a section a day for a short story, and 1000 words a day for a novel. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more; but having a number to aim for helps give me a goal to meet, and thus makes it easier to complete the task each day.

 

Without Condition was unique in the context of working on this novel versus working on my first novel, Please Give. For the latter, it was very easy for me to sit down and write. I often surpassed my 1000 words a day goal, sometimes writing 2000 or even 3000 words in a sitting. I had lots of ideas and, while writing Please Give had plenty of challenges, sitting down to write it wasn’t one of them.

 

With Without Condition, while I wanted to sit down and write, I found it harder to sit down and do so for long stretches of time. Some scenes would flow like butter in a hot skillet, while others would spread like cold butter on bread — ie, either not at all or else with a lot of torn bread.

 

Still, I found that when I went back and read what I’d written so far in Without Condition, more often than not, I found myself reasonably satisfied with the first attempt. Not satisfied enough to leave it unchanged, of course; but with Please Give, I must’ve revised some passages several times over before I was even close to satisfied. With Without Condition, I always felt like I had something good, even when I knew I could have something better. That was a pleasant surprise I encountered with this one.

 

In my opinion, you’ve written a protagonist who, yes, is a serial killer, but the circumstances surrounding her are much more terrifying than her propensity to kill. You cover a lot of horrifying topics in this book, many that are freakishly mundane and a little too close to home. Tell us a little about the themes of Without Condition (without spoilers, of course!).

 

The biggest theme, as alluded to in the title, is the idea of unconditional love. We often tell our loved ones that we’ll always love them no matter what. But what does that mean when someone is doing something heinous or wrong? Does that still apply? I wanted to explore that, and at a deeper level than the absurdity of that level of unconditional love from an outsider’s perspective. I wanted to look at it from the perspective of a mother’s love and from romantic love, and I found it more gratifying to do so from the point of view of Cara, the subject of both of those types of love.

 

Another theme that cropped up was enabling, especially through inaction. Rather than confront notable problems that Cara displayed, she was often dismissed or ignored. I consider that just as bad as the active antagonism she faced as a child, especially from some of her teachers.

 

One final theme I enjoyed exploring was the inability to let go, be it voluntary or not. I think especially of Cara hearing the insults of her classmates over and over in her mind, and well into adulthood. Some of that is involuntary, but other times, it’s a deliberate undertaking on her part to feel anger — a way to keep herself company that, in turn, ensures she’s often alone. It’s also dangerous company, both for herself and for the people around her.

 

I feel like the setting of Without Condition is very important for both the plot and the characters. Are you drawing from environments that you know well, or did you create the setting purely to support the story?

 

Leslie is a fictional town in North Carolina (as are Pinesboro and Egret’s Bay), but I drew on actual places I lived for inspiration. I lived in North Carolina for eight years. My family lived in Chapel Hill, I went to school in Durham, and I went to college at NC State in Raleigh. While none of the places I lived were as small as Leslie, the towns I lived in were a hop, skip, and a jump from more rural areas. I spent a lot of time visiting places with lots of farmland and forests, and I based the look and feel of Leslie on the time I spent in those places.

 

One tidbit I’d love to share here, if you don’t mind: Leslie was originally a placeholder name for Cara’s hometown. I named the town after Bill Leslie, a reporter in Raleigh who also has a career as a New Age musician. The name stuck as I kept writing. So, thank you, Bill Leslie, for the inspiration!

 

Without giving too much away, I will say that there are some very sexy scenes in this book. To you, what are the most important things to consider when writing sex scenes?

 

To me, sex scenes are at their best when they’re focusing on the sensations and feelings — some feelings of deeper emotion, like if someone’s happy or nervous; but more so feelings of lust and desire. Many romance novels focus on the longing, then end the scene before any sex happens; while a lot of erotica or straight sex scenes focus mostly on the actions. I prefer sex scenes that infuse both. I also like implications as opposed to direct references to certain body parts. Not dorky euphemisms, mind you; but not clinical terms either. It’s not that I mind seeing the word “penis,” it just seems to throw off the sexiness when I’m reading or writing a good sex scene.

 

I’m also not a big fan of sex scenes that refer to a vagina as a pussy. I’d sooner say “entered her” or something like that — I think most readers will know what that means, and can fill it in themselves (heh). But I think focusing on sexual emotions first, and then how the characters act on those feelings and desires directly after, is most important; letting each move and flow in rhythm like … well …

 

I’m definitely getting some Mommy Dearest vibes from this book. Are you a fan? Are there other works that have directly inspired either Without Condition or your writing in general?

 

I am a fan! “Tina! Bring me the axe!” But funny enough, I wasn’t really thinking of Mommy Dearest when I wrote this. I can see where those vibes would come from, though. Both feature overbearing mothers, as well as mothers who scar their children with their own fears and traumas.

 

I’m inspired equally by dark humor and mundane takes on things that are dark. One of my favorite authors is Augusten Burroughs. His humor is so biting, and he talks about some horrific things in his life with both humor and … like, he knows it was awful and traumatizing, but he also presents it as just so, because it was his life (and a large part of his life). He doesn’t hammer his readers over the head with what was shocking, bad, or wrong. He just shows it through talking about it and letting the events speak for themselves. I think that’s a rare gift.

 

In fiction, I’m similarly inspired by Flannery O’Connor. The way she tells a story about murder in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is horrifying because of how casually she tells it. It’s just something that’s happening. I like horror that’s unsettling. It stays in my bones longer than a quick jump scare.

 

If there was a movie poster created for Without Condition, what would its slogan be?

 

She’s hidden the bodies. Hiding her heart is a little bit harder. (I love cheesy taglines)

 

Okay, this is a fun one for horror writers. We write horror, in part, to terrify others, but what are you afraid of?

 

My top 5: enclosed spaces, being bound or trapped, upsetting people (especially people I care about), slipping on ice, and the Extra-Terror-estrial ride at Magic Kingdom (it’s now closed. Good riddance).

 

I love that you published Without Condition so close to Valentine’s Day and during Women in Horror Month! What are your thoughts on being a woman writing in the horror genre – and also, what are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?

 

I’ve always been drawn to dark fiction and horror in the stories I read and write. While I read a variety of genres, the darker stories hold a soft spot in my heart. My favorites tend to be less about monsters, the supernatural, and gore; and more about the darkness of people and their minds. This is the type of horror I like to write, and also the type of stories I like to write, period; be they straight horror, slice-of-life, romance, or other genres.

 

I like being able to write horror, and I like how much the genre has opened up to women writers over the past several years, especially in the indie scene. There are still barriers, but it’s really great to see women’s contributions to the genre being recognized and appreciated. Like any genre, horror is at its best when we get a variety of voices telling the stories.

 

I actually love Valentine’s Day. Growing up, it was always a friendship and family holiday for me. My parents gave me candy and a card (they still send me a Valentine’s Day package each year), and my friends and classmates gave each other those cartoon cards. As such, I never found it overly mushy, or felt anything against it; even though I was always single on Valentine’s Day until I met my husband. I still like to get cards for my friends, and candy for myself. And yes, I did intentionally release Without Condition close to Valentine’s Day because of its dark romantic nature.

 

Who is your favorite character in Without Condition? What’s your favorite thing they say in the novel (no need for context!)?

 

I like pretty much everyone (except Amanda and Mr. Murphy), but if I had to pick a favorite, it’d probably be Jackson. My favorite thing he says — the gravity of which will make more sense in context — is, “You would?”

 

What is your favorite line in Without Condition?

 

“She couldn’t help but think of Jackson as a small boy feeding a bobcat in his backyard, trusting that this wild animal would always be his pet.”

 

What do you hope readers experience when they read this novel?

 

This is always kind of hard for me to answer, because I don’t want to guide people’s feelings when they read my work (beyond what I establish in things like the book description). That said, I hope people will consider the sources of darkness, of what horrifies them, and what’s unsettling them as they read. I consider the serial killer aspect to be the surface — it’s horrifying, but there are also more dark and terrible things below that surface, some of which we might be uncomfortably more familiar with.

 

What are you currently working on? What’s next for you?

 

Right now, I’m finishing some short stories that I’m including in my next short story collection, currently titled “Little Paranoias: Stories.” It will include my flash fiction, some longer pieces, and a little poetry. Once I send the manuscript to my editor, I’m going to take a crack at my third novel.

 

You can purchase your copy of Without Condition HERE

 

About Sonora:sonora-taylor-26771109472762677651.jpg

Sonora Taylor is the author of The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales, Please Give, and Wither and Other Stories. Her short story, “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,’” was included in Camden Park Press’ Quoth the Raven, an anthology of stories and poems that put a contemporary twist on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Her work has also been published in The Sirens Call and Mercurial Stories. “The Crow’s Gift” will be featured on the horror podcast “Tales to Terrify” later in 2019. Her second novel, Without Condition, is now available on Amazon. She lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband.

Find Sonora Online:

Website: https://sonorawrites.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sonorawrites
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sonorataylor/
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/sonorawrites/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17015434.Sonora_Taylor
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Sonora-Taylor/e/B075BR5Q7F/
Blog: sonorawrites.com/blog

Ian McEwan, Thanks for the Peanut Butter

On Chesil Beach

I’ve been doing really well with my personal commitment to read like a madwoman this year. So far, I’ve consumed 23 books, and I hope to end 2015 with a total of 30.

When I finish a book, I generally savor the last line and the feeling of accomplishment for a few minutes, and then I wander over to my bookshelf to pick out my next adventure.

I finished book #23 on Monday night, and I did not immediately go to my bookshelf. In fact, I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a new book until this morning. And even that action is largely due to the fact that I have to read King Lear by next Wednesday’s Juvenile Court Book Club meeting—not because I’m hankering for a new story.

I feel this way, because Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach has stuck with me the way peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth. I’ve had a hard time deciding how I feel about this book. I’ve had a hard time navigating my feels after finishing it.

On Chesil Beach begins with a telling first line, which sets the stage for the whole work: “They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible.” Instant tension, instant conflict, and oh my God, how intimate that we are about to join this couple on their wedding night!

I’ve admired Ian McEwan’s work for quite some time now. Atonement is a triumph—heartbreaking and beautiful. Amsterdam, which I read a couple months ago, is a darkly comic romp through ghosts and betrayal. McEwan has this uncanny ability to find the moments and experiences where vastly different personalities intersect in very interesting ways. He’s a master of those surreal emotions that can drive us to do the strangest things.

On Chesil Beach showcases McEwan’s abilities on a whole other level. You know from the very beginning, from that first line, that this couple’s first sexual experience is not going to be blissful—it’s going to be a disaster.

And it is painfully uncomfortable wading into the storm. Unlike the experience of reading some of McEwan’s other works, I felt like a true voyeur while reading On Chesil Beach. I felt like I was right next to Edward and Florence from the moment they met to the moment they wed. McEwan takes us uncompromisingly close to the young lovers—into their heads, under a skirt, within a touch or a gaze. And “being there,” unable to do anything about it—ugh, my heart!

Through McEwan’s descriptions, I re-experienced all the awkward, terrible encounters I’ve had with lovers over the years. I felt like I was watching a horror film. I wanted to call out to the young couple and warn them of what was ahead, what I could see coming but they certainly couldn’t. It was like watching an impending train crash—one that takes 130 pages to happen.

There were passages that were incredibly hard to read—a few that were uncomfortably anatomical and many that were emotionally exhausting. There was so much pressure to live up to a single moment and so many things at stake.

I wanted these two to beat the odds, to have an awesome first experience, for love (because they are most definitely in love!) to soften all the edges of the awkwardness that is first-time lovemaking.

But again, that first line.

Undoubtedly, those first 130 pages or so unnerved me. A lot. I considered putting the book down a few times.

But I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I pushed through, because the brilliance of this book occurs in the aftermath of this one pivotal moment in time. McEwan handles the emotional upheaval of young Edward and Florence with such grace and honesty. As a reader, I understood both sides of this difficult life episode to such a great degree that I didn’t find myself siding with either one of them. I simply felt everything and wilted and wanted to scream for them both.

And the final line of the book—the final page, really—left an imprint on my brain and my heart, something muddy and imperfect. When I closed the book, I couldn’t really move for a few minutes. I let the waves of Chesil Beach wash over me, and I knew I wouldn’t pick up a new book for a couple days.

For that, I say thank you, Ian McEwan. For putting me in the hotel room with Edward and Florence on that life-changing night. For weaving me into their love story as an observer. For making me deeply, deeply uncomfortable as a reader—a veritable skill. For that sticky feeling of peanut butter in my mouth, something that made me pause and absorb what I’d just experienced before scurrying to find another story to devour. And for true dedication to your characters and their complex emotions, something I will always admire in your work.

Fahrenheit 451 (AKA USA 911)

Photo by flickr user ".sarahwynne."

Photo by flickr user “.sarahwynne.”

A few nights ago, I turned the final page of Ray Bradbury’s seminal work Fahrenheit 451—and found myself wondering how and where Bradbury gained his awe-inspiring prescience, because the dystopian world he created in 1953 is a little too close to the real world of 2015.

If, like me, you were never assigned this classic to read in school, it’s a dystopian work that Bradbury wrote when the U.S. was ensconced in the Cold War and the television was a brand new invention. Bradbury essentially asks in Fahrenheit, “What would happen if society became morbidly obsessed with TV, discarding the emotional resonance and knowledge in books for frivolous, digital entertainment?”

Well, the world of Fahrenheit 451 happens, a world where firemen don’t put out fires, they start them—for the sole purpose of burning books, which have been outlawed. If you’re found to have books, the firemen come to burn them and you’re arrested. If you run, mechanical hounds sniff out fugitives and kill them.

But Fahrenheit citizens aren’t angry or fearful. Rather, they go with the status quo. Reading and writing aren’t taught in schools. Concepts like love and happiness don’t exist. Citizens are anesthetized with TV screens the size of walls, “seashells” in their ears that transmit constant noise, pills, and monotony. Suicides are frequent, but emotionless. And despite frequent flyovers by military jets, no one seems concerned that a war or destruction could be looming.

In Fahrenheit, we follow Guy Montag, a fireman by trade who is married to Mildred and working hard to get her a fourth TV screen for their living room. One night, while walking home, Montag meets Clarisse, a young girl who simply strolls around town at night (unheard of in this society) and doesn’t own a TV, instead choosing to spend time talking to her flesh-and-blood family (also unheard of). Montag is immediately fascinated by Clarisse and at one point, calls her a “mirror.” Something is awakened in Montag and his emotional stirring hurtles him into a dangerous awakening.

When Montag starts to wonder about the taste of rain and the impending war and the words on the pages of books, he begins to set himself apart—and in doing so, makes himself a target for his neighbors, employer, and even the government. Will Montag be able to break the shackles of this oppressive society? And if can, then what?

While the story of Guy Montag and the society of Fahrenheit is fictional, the parallels to modern society are uncanny. We’re living in a world where books are fading into the background and TV reigns supreme. Even the format of books is changing. Everything is going digital, impersonal, intangible. Pretty soon, I fear the firemen of Fahrenheit 451 wouldn’t have anything to burn in our world. Perhaps they’d consider that an accomplishment.

The character of Mildred, Montag’s wife, is an extreme caricature of societal influence—and yet she doesn’t seem like such a stretch in today’s world. Mildred is always plugged in. Those “seashells” don’t leave her ears (can you say ear buds or Bluetooth devices?). Instead of spending time with her husband at night, Mildred goes into the living room to spend time with her “family,” the characters that talk to her through her TV (complete with name personalization, because that’s not creepy or anything). How many people watch the Kardashian family on TV instead of having dinner with theirs?

And, of course, Mildred takes handfuls of pills to “help her sleep,” and can’t remember when she overdoses. She shrugs off her brush with death and continues to live her life drugged and deluded. How often do we push pills instead of dealing with larger issues like depression, unhappiness, and restlessness organically? We often turn to anesthetization—a quick fix for a larger problem, because it seems simpler. But at what cost?

I finished Fahrenheit 451 a few days ago, but I think I’m finally getting around to digesting it today. It’s a hard pill to swallow. But also an important one.

Now I wonder—if Bradbury wrote another dystopian novel based upon the society of 2015, what would be next to burn?

 

Photo license.sarahwynne.

 

Read “Life Without Harry” Today – FOR FREE!

Cover by Katie Purcell.

Cover by Katie Purcell.

Fledgling writers stick together. We read and critique each other’s work. We bitch to each other about how hard it is to get published. We send each other writing prompts. We inspire each other.

And when one of us publishes something, we celebrate and make sure as many people as possible have access to said work!!!

So, today it’s my pleasure to inform you that my dear, dear friend Sara Dobie Bauer’s first novel, Life Without Harry, is now available to you all – FOR FREE!

No e-reader, no problem. The book is available in ePUB, MOBI, and PDF formats.

And let me tell you, it’s worth a download, especially if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, quirky romance, magical realism…and beautiful writing. Seriously, this girl inspires me. I want to read every word she ever writes. And to be brutally honest, I don’t support things unless I believe in them and I think they are quality work. So, you know, it’s really, really good.

Go over to her blog and request a copy. I promise you won’t regret it.

Into the Woods

woods

I have been having some funky dreams lately. They’ve been really weird. Like take Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and turn that on its head. Yeah, that’s about right.

Some have been terrifying…and some have been tons of fun.

In one, I was living in a society where those who were accused of crimes had to swordfight to the death. They would pit pairs against each other and most of the time, it was an unfair fight. I happened to be friends with a guy accused of…something…and he happened to be madly in love with me. I, sadly, was not in love with him, but he said the hope of us being together one day would protect him from the battle. I nodded stupidly. Of course, he didn’t win and I was distraight.

I clearly had The Hunger Games on the brain.

A week or so ago, there was a dream about a girl who was getting married to the wrong guy, but luckily an attractive woman singing a Melissa Etheridge song (“The Only One” – stereotypical, I know) swooped in (via helicopter, naturally) and whisked away the bride to be to this alternate world where you can travel by a single red balloon and aquatic flippers.

Photo by flicker user "james studiosushi."

Photo by flicker user “james studiosushi.”

Lord only knows where that one came from.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of, “This chick should lay off the cough medicine”?

I do feel drugged, but it’s not from cough medicine…or wine…or weed…or sugar. I’m high on creativity, because I’m spending a lot of time in the woods these days – metaphorical woods, not literal ones. And that is because I’ve finally decided to write a legitimate novel – and actually finish it this time around.

It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but much darker thanks to buckets of magic, love triangles, and some vicious plotting. My imagination has been working overtime and thus, my dreams are the crazy aftermath of spending my day in landscapes crafted by magical realism.

Photo by flickr user "andy castro."

Photo by flickr user “andy castro.”

(By the way, just coincidence that my dreams are all wonky while I’m writing a new version of Sleeping Beauty, the chick who slept forever? Yeah, I think not.)

Other symptoms of novel writing?

The feeling like there aren’t enough hours in a day. Professional novel writing is a full-time gig, but since this is my first and I have yet to grace the New York Times Bestsellers list, I have to balance my regular job with caring for my dog, and being a great girlfriend, and maintaining a social life, and cupcake orders and, oh yeah, sleeping. I took my laptop to get my oil changed last weekend. Lunch breaks? Writing time! It may be a far-fetched goal with my lifestyle, but I’d like to have a solid draft of this novel done by the end of June. Eek!

Yet another symptom is fear. When you embark on a project this big and it’s so personal (as any writing is), you start to question yourself. Is my writing good enough? Will I actually be able to finish this thing? What happens if I love it, but no one else does – especially since this could very well be the first piece of writing with my name attached to it that I shop around to publishers? Is my story good enough? Are my characters compelling and likable? Is it too dark?

Of course, I choose to bat all of these questions to the side, because at the end of the day, I believe in myself and my writing, come what may. Finishing will be half the battle and I intend to crack open a very special bottle of wine when I do. What happens after that…well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, I have a story I want to tell and it’s time for me to tell it. That’s enough to keep me going.

I really want this. I really want this to be my moment.

And I want to continue to have weird ass dreams, because that means I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing – living in a fantasy world that someday I’ll share with all of you.

Resolving to Have FUN!

Photo by flickr user "Clay Carson."

Photo by flickr user “Clay Carson.”

Yes, it’s that time of year – the time where we all make resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking, quit swearing, or stop watching marathons of Smash on Hulu at 2am.

BOR-ING!

You wanna know why most people can’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions? It’s because resolutions are generally negative. Think about it – “I’ll quit,” “I’ll stop,” “I won’t,” “I promise not to.” Instead of promising ourselves we’ll embrace life and new adventures in 2013, we get so caught up in saying “no” to that weekly bear claw from Rainbow Donuts.

Photo by flickr user "smiteme."

Photo by flickr user “smiteme.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating the complete dismissal of healthy changes in 2013. But what I am doing is challenging you to challenge the status quo. Yes, set some resolutions that will make you a better person in 2013, but also indulge in some silly goals and resolve to have some fun so that you have something to look forward to. Otherwise, you know you’re just going to crave that bear claw like mad, right?

Gosh, I’m hungry now…

Anyway…drum roll, please. Here are my resolutions for 2013. I’m really looking forward to this year.

1. Slow your roll. I am all too often asked by my friends when I sleep. That’s because my planner is booked with dance classes, rehearsals, photo shoots, hot dates, concerts, and social events months in advance. I only know one speed – TURBO! I learned a couple of years ago how to say “yes” to opportunities and I have a hard time saying “no” (although I’m getting better at that). This year, I resolve to scale back substantially. I don’t need to be elbows deep in four projects at once. I’m going to focus on one thing at a time and really being present instead of worrying that I need to be somewhere in 30 minutes. This is going to be my year to relax. I plan to reintroduce yoga to my world, focus on my writing, and drink copious amounts of wine in my bathtub.

2. Host twelve 50 Shades of Chicken dinner parties. While Christmas shopping, I came across this gem, 50 Shades of Chicken. Part cookbook, part hilarious parody, it’s absolutely genius. So, I feel like it’s my duty to share this revelation to the world this year. Once a month, I’ll be hosting a 50 Shades of Chicken dinner party, during which I’ll do a reading from the book, I’ll serve one of the recipes, I’ll mix up some lasciviously-named cocktails, and maybe there will be a round of Cards Against Humanity.

50 Shades

3. Health and wealth. With my recent back injury, it’s time to focus on my health, which means a nice, clean diet, lots of stretching and yoga, and lots of core strengthening exercises. My goal is not to lose weight; I don’t need to do that. But I do need to get my body into better shape so that my back is properly supported. Fiscal health will be important this year, too. I’m resolving to cut back on social outings that are pricy and to start putting away a decent amount of money into savings.

4. Cupcake challenge. My boss got me this awesome cupcake calendar for Christmas since she knows I bake. These cupcakes are fun and spicy…and there are directions for how to make them all right on the calendar! So, there will be a cupcake of the month in my house. I’ll be chronicling these baking adventures here on this blog. God help me, because flavor is more of my forte, not decorating. This should be fun!

5. The write stuff. I’ve started a novel – a novel that I actually think I’m going to finish, which is a new and exciting concept for me. In the past, I’ve grown hyper-critical of myself and basically squashed writing projects before they’ve begun. In 2013, I’m following through. I’m going to finish this novel. I’m going to edit it. I’m going to love it. I’m going to shop it around. I’m going to start calling myself a “writer.” And I’m going to work on believing it. I’m going to be published.

What are your resolutions for 2013? Tell me the fun ones about strippers and rum cakes and travels around the world!

Licensing info for Clay Carson image.
Licensing info for smiteme image.