Friday, December 7, 2012

On Turning Twenty

Wow, it's been a long time since I last wrote a blog post. That's about three months of my life you guys will never hear about. How tragic for you.
Not that I haven't had lots of ideas, because I have. I forget most of them though so I'm going to have to start over. Honestly, my brain is not a very exciting place to be about 99% of the time. And these days, I'm either sleeping, eating, or studying. Which is what finals week of college does to you, to my readers who have never experienced this. I guess a few weeks of sleep deprivation and ten too many donuts will pay off when I have that diploma in my hand, right?
We'll see.
Yesterday was my birthday and although in the past, I tried to keep my age off this blog, I might as well spill since I think the majority of my readers come from my Facebook and already know how old I am. (I don't like telling my age as to avoid bias towards a younger writer, something that has come up in the past).
I have always taken being a teenager very seriously. I played the part of angsty, mouthy, misunderstood teen particularly well, especially if you ask my parents and siblings. Convinced that adults just didn't understand teenagers, I wrote up many an essay complaining about why exactly society looked down upon us and how much better the world would be if we had more say in things. I'm going to say this once. Only once.
I was wrong.
More than anything else I've learned recently (and this from the girl who just studied the execution of King Louis XVI for three months), it's that the more you grow, the more you become familiar with this beautiful thing called retrospect. I know now that I was wrong to believe that I knew everything there was to know the past four or five years. Just because I was feeling all these confusing emotions and having doubts about pretty much everything did not mean that I could relate to anything adults were talking about. I mean, some of it I could but You don't realize as a teenager how much you have to learn. And I don't know why that is. I suppose I could blame it on the hormones, or being locked in a building for a million hours a week with people that mostly couldn't care less about you (still a little bitter about high school). That's what other adults do.
Don't get me wrong; being a teenager had it's moments. I made some friends that I know will be in my life for a long time. I got to live in a beautiful place with lots of room for sledding and hikes and adventuring. I became well acquainted with the local movie theater as I firmly believe all teens should do if they live in a small town and have nothing to do on a Friday night. I played high school sports which taught me some incredibly values that even now I'm trying to figure out completely, but will probably end up in one of my books one day. Also, I got my first job which is an experience in itself and should probably be discovered when you're still a teen so you can use that as an excuse when your boss yells. Because you'll probably get yelled at.
Now though, I realize things are changing. Maybe not in huge, revelatory ways like in the books or  movies but in tiny ways. My interest in drama? Way down. I simply do not care who slept with who on what night of the week in whatever color car. Okay, well maybe I care a little bit. But not as much as I use to! The realization that my most coveted item in my apartment is my ten piece Pyrex set came tonight when I came close to dropping one on the ground and thought,
Oh no, this could end badly. I love my Pyrex.

I realize I have a long way to go in growing up but I wanted to document this totally strange period of life where you are in between who you used to be and who you are going to be. Because let's face it. You grownups are not the same people you used to be. Somewhere along the line, you started figuring things out, looking forward, and getting on with the rest of your life.
In fact, you're still doing it.
And I am happy to join you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fight Every Day

What happened on September 11th, 2001 has impacted my life in more ways I could have imagined since I was nine. There is something about the day and every day after that we have spent trying to recover and move on that has fascinated me. From a writer's point of view, you learn to stick fast to things that help you grow your words and 9/11 has always been one of those things for me. For whatever reason, it's easy for me to write about. Last year I wrote an essay commemorating the ten year anniversary of all those lives lost. But it doesn't have to be read at just ten years. So this year, eleven years later, I want to re-share that piece. If you're re-reading it, thank you and I hope it means as much to you as the first time. If this is your first reading, be sure that everything I say in it is 100% the truth. From my heart to yours....

Fight Every Day

There’s a shelf in the archives of American History that is dedicated for the most horrific, the most painful events we’ve ever endured. On this shelf sits the Civil War, Pearl Harbor and, of course, September 11, 2001. These events, along with many more, have tested our country’s strength, courage and ability to get back on our feet after being knocked down.
I’m a 9/11 kid, a member of the generation that grew up alongside terrorist threats, Anthrax scares and x-ray machines at the airport. The headlines of the magazines from my childhood read ‘World War 3?’ and ‘Death Tolls Rise Overseas’.  Osama Bin Laden became as well known a name as Scooby-Doo.
I was nine years old when the towers fell. The pictures and details from that week are as scattered as the ashes from the wreckage. Details like: I was eating crackers when my mom told me and: our TV screen had too much dust on it to see the footage properly. I wasn’t sure what was happening but I knew it wasn’t good.
When I was fourteen, I wrote an essay called the Day the Two Towers Fell, which won first place in a national competition. I’ve written poems about that day, I’ve read books by survivors. Yet, I’m eighteen years old and to some, I’m still too young to understand. But I understand this:
I understand life is when someone is living and death is when someone has died. I understand that on that day, hundreds of people entered those pearly gates before their time. I’ve seen the tears running down the faces and I’ve heard the screams of those who’ve lost too much. Any child who has watched dozens of people commit suicide out of a burning building understands that the world is not a perfect place. I may not have known the details but sometimes it’s not the details that count. Sometimes, all you need is the big picture to recognize a tragedy.
All those lives we’ve lost, we can’t get them back. There’s no way to bring back the dead; the line between life and death is a one-way street. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. But it’s also okay to feel strong and proud.
It’s okay to fight.
Fight with what you have. Fight with words, paintings and music. Fight with business maneuvers, lawsuits and midnight surgeries. Fight with patience and prayer.
Fight with your heart.
Because every moment we fight for what we believe is one more second we spend making a difference. There’s not many in this world that can make a big enough change to affect everyone. We can’t all be celebrities, professional athletes, the president. But if all of us make one difference, even one in our entire lifetime, it will add up to this little thing called change. And change is what keeps us moving forward.
So when I fight tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, I fight for those who died ten years ago. I’ll be fighting for the heroes who risked their lives, for the pilots, for the innocent bystanders on the street. You know what? I’ll even fight for the terrorists because in my mind, everyone deserves to be fought over. I’m not saying I forgive them, I’m not saying what they did was okay or even that I don’t hate them. Because there is a part of me that hates them and that’s okay too.
When you remember September 11th, fight for those who died but never give up on those still living because we’re the ones who are going to make things right.

~M.T. Rossi

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On Waterfalls, Writing, and Wishing for a Cure

So I owe you guys a blogpost. I'm finally settled into my new apartment, which almost didn't happen but that's another blogpost. All I'm saying is thank goodness for my current roommate who moved in at the last minute and who is definitely awesome. If she chose to live with me, all the power to her, right?
Even though I have a couple topics in mind for posts, I think I'll make this a personal post and save those for a another time.
Last weekend, I drove to Letchworth State Park to meet my Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, Grandma and her boyfriend for a picnic lunch. It was absolutely fabulous. If any of you live in Upstate New York and haven't been yet, you're missing out. Take your little butt there during these last few weeks of warm weather! After lunch, we hiked a short but steep path (So. Many. Stairs.) and got a pretty incredible view of a giant waterfall. I drove the whole way in my cute little new (new to me) car.

Pretty cool, huh?

That was Saturday and I spent the rest of the weekend at my aunt and uncles house, just hanging out with my cousin. If you guys remember, I am co-writing a novel with her (Check out her blog here!). It's pretty cool to be writing a novel with your best friend. 
Wish I could say that's the craziest thing we do when we're together but um....then we wouldn't be very exciting, would we? The two of us usually come up with some pretty wacky ideas for fun and though I'm not going to tell you exactly what we did last weekend (I don't have her permission to post that online), let's say we got a little carried away playing dress up.

Yeah, that's a graveyard. And real roses. And we're wearing black veils. No, it's not as morbid as you're thinking. 

News from my writing world: I've been working on a novel for about seven months and this week I made the executive decision to put it aside. I always have two or three projects going on at the same time and there was one I decided needed most of my attention. I've already written the ending and though it's just the first draft, it was the most heart-wrenching and poignant thing I've ever created. I'm pretty excited about it. Hopefully, in the coming months I can share more details with you but for now, that's all you get ;)
One more thing before I wrap this up. I know you guys know how much I adore Taylor Swift and her music. Most of you also have probably heard that she has a new album coming out in October. Or maybe you didn't know that but now you do. No matter. I'm not here to promote that album but a certain song Taylor sang on TV last night. It's called Ronan and it's about a true-life little boy who died of Neuroblastoma (cancer) when he was just four years old. It's an absolutely heart breaking song and the lyrics (which Taylor wrote) are stunning. Even if you're not a parent, you'll probably cry listening to it. If you so fancy, go buy the song on iTunes; 100% OF THE PROCEEDS go to a cancer charity. A lot of you don't like Taylor Swift but please give this song a chance. In memory of a little boy who was taken from this world way too soon.

That's all for this week. I know it's not a very exciting blog to read about but sometime in the near future, I'll actually post about some interesting points. As for now, the end of Apollo 13 is on. Excuse me while I go watch Tom Hanks kick some ass in a spaceship.

~M. T. Rossi

Friday, August 24, 2012

And it's Hard to Say Goodbye

Hello my beautiful blog readers. Tonight is the eve of my return to CollegeLand. Today is also the day that I had to drop my little brother off at the airport. He's going to spend nine months in Italy. By himself.
My dear readers, that was very difficult.
Out of my three brothers, he's the one I haven't really connected with yet. In fact, we spent quite a few of our high school years hating each other. Well, I never really hated him and I don't think he actually hated me, but we acted that way. We haven't had more than a simple conversation in months. Every time we get together, my parents warn us not to fight, to "be pleasant" with each other.
But I still cried.
I honestly didn't think I would. I thought it would be exciting to drop him off, wave goodbye, be the big sister sending him off on an adventure. Instead, I bit my lip as he turned his back for the final time and walked away. Then I lowered my sunglasses (inside the airport) so my parents wouldn't see me tear up.
So why? Why did all this emotion suddenly hit me when I'm usually a rather stoic person?
Being the writer that I am, I'm betting it's the symbolism. (Did you hear that, English teachers everywhere?)
It struck me as I walked out of that airport, I wasn't only saying goodbye to my brother, but to the end of something I've been a part of for nineteen years. It's the end of being a kid, a child or whatever you want to call us. We're adults now, all four of us and there's nothing I can do about it. Yes, I grew up a whole lot when I went away to school last year but one thing that remained constant was my brother was still in high school. Behind me, following in my footsteps, just as I followed (somewhat) in the footsteps of my older brothers. Now I don't know where he is. I can't call him when I have a weird question or ask him about kids from school. And this to me, is something new.
Growing up and moving on. It's not easy. It's weird. Sometimes it hurts more than you think it will. But it will happen, regardless of how much I wish I was still building with blocks in the hallway while my parents cooked dinner in the next room.
So this post is a shout out to my brother. I don't pray often but I pray right now for this: keep him safe and bring him home again. Make sure he stumbles then pick him up again to show him that it's okay to fall. Let him have the time of his life but please God, don't let him grow up too fast.
Goodbyes are hard. But it will make our next hello that much sweeter :)

(Circa 1995)

(Circa 1996)

(Summer 2012)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Dog Days are Here

I can't believe the number of blogs starting to pop up all over the place recently, including several by friends of mine. Everyone seems to have one now! But that's okay because it keeps me motivated to update mine.
You know what else I can't believe?
There are only 11 days left of summer. Eleven. The last time I checked, I had three and a half months to spend lazing around the pool, taking long walks and finishing a novel or two. While I did spend a sufficient amount of time by the pool and even managed to fit in a few walks, that stubborn novel is not finished. Not even close. I even set a deadline but you know, those don't really seem to work. They just kind of skid by while waving as they round the corner and disappear. Lovely things, aren't they?
However, I can't say this summer has been a complete bust. I've got to do a lot of cool things including going to BookExpoAmerica, vacation in the Adirondacks for not one, not two, but THREE weeks (I'm a lucky gal!), and going to a huge family wedding just last weekend. I really am quite happy with the life I have.
In other news, I just purchased my first set of pots and pans which is also very exciting. I also now own my own cookie sheet, chef knife, and cheese grater, among other household items. Guys, I think this means I'm growing up.
No, really.
I move into my very first apartment in ten days which is just absolutely crazy. Just the other day, I was graduating from crib to a big kid bed (just kidding, I don't remember that at all). But seriously, I can't believe how fast time is flying by. For example, today I realized that I've known my oldest best friend for fourteen years. That's like, a really long time.
So what else is so thrilling that I must give you all a blogpost on this fine Tuesday night?

Shark Week is this week! Just this very minute I am watching a special called, "How JAWS Changed the World". Maybe I'm crazy but I find sharks fascinating. You know, as long as I'm far, far away from the real ones.

On Friday, I'm going to Monmouth Race Track (horse-racing). It's super cheap, lots of fun and something different that the whole family can find interesting. Plus, there is the added bonus of gambling! Even though I don't ride horses anymore, I deeply respect these animals and Thoroughbred racing has always been on of my favorite horse sports to watch.

And finally (and perhaps most exciting), Taylor Swift released her new single last night, called "We're Never Ever Getting Back Together". It's very fun, very poppy and not very country but I really love it. Even if you're not a Taylor and/or Country fan, give it a listen. You never know; you might like it!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Gold, Silver, Bronze and Everyone Else

Unless you've literally been living under a rock for the past four days, you can't help but notice that the 2012 Summer Olympics are happening in London, England. Like a large population right now, I'm all but glued to the TV for a couple hours each night. I've always been an athletic person; growing up I played soccer, basketball, volleyball, danced and rode horses. At one point, I did all that at once. And yet, I cannot imagine my body being capable of doing any of what I've seen on the TV. These athletes work for years, hours each day for a chance to compete against fellow world champions.
My personal favorites to watch are the gymnastics (men and women's alike):

I'm also a sucker for the Equestrian Games which are rarely televised but really interesting to watch and fun to watch. Most olympic events are in control of the athlete's mind and body but in the equestrian events, the athletes are working with thousand pound animals underneath them. 

As fun as watching and following the Olympics is, it can also be a bit disconcerting for some. Most of us are not at the top of our physical game. We don't work out every day or even every week. We don't make healthy choices every chance we get. But we are not Olympic athletes. We are not fighting for a shiny gold medal and the honor of our country.
And that's okay.
Everyone fights for something. Perhaps it is their love of music or words or art. Maybe they love to solve math equations or peer into microscopes. Or maybe your fight doesn't have to do with yourself. Millions fight to put dinner on the table for their family every night; to buy new shoes and clothes for their young children. Fireman and police officers and the great men and women in the military who fight every day to save lives.
The point is: every fight is a noble one. Even the ones that aren't televised. 

~M.T. Rossi

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sorry Not Sorry

This poor, poor blog. It's just as neglected as that plant my uncle gave me freshman year of college that I successfully killed within a week, despite putting it in the sunlight (Yes, I know now water is kinda important in keeping things alive). It's not that I haven't come up with any blog ideas, I have. Want to hear them?
Well, there was the one where I was going to write about my hopes and dreams as a child and how they got me to where I am today. Except where I am is sitting in bed trying not to think about the chocolate downstairs. If I had known my hopes and dreams would come to this, I think I would have done it a smidge differently.
After that idea, I went with writing a blog about BookExpoAmerica (BEA) which I got to go to this year thanks to an awesome friend who runs this business for writers: Astral Road Media. Which some of you might be interested in and some of you may not. BEA was one of the best days of my life. Literally. There are no words to explain the emotions that took over when I stepped into that convention hall. One specific reason why is the minute I walked in (within the very minute) I spotted John Green standing in front of me, chatting casually with some guy with a camcorder. So I took this:

Later, I got to meet and speak with Mr. Green and we took this:

I was shaking so badly, I look like I'm about to faint, I know. That or I've recently been drugged. I also got to help with an interview concerning Libba Bray and she signed my advance copy of her new book The Diviners which also had my heart going into fangirl spasms. Chris Colfer made an appearance and although I did not wait in the three hour line to meet him, I casually walked by his booth many times and noticed that while he is famous, his hair is very badly highlighted.
But that's really all there is to say about BEA unless you'd like to hear of my million mile walk from BEA to subway to Apartment to subway to Port Authority carrying forty books. If you so desire to hear this tale, you can email me because I would not subject anyone else to that rant.
Then I was going to write about my recent vacation which was one of the most incredible things in my life (which, isn't really saying anything since incredible is the most overused word in my vocabulary and so you probably wouldn't find it that interesting). But, if by chance you are for some reason interested in how I spent my last week without a phone, internet or TV, go here: Every Writer's Dream Vacation (Just a Nice Lake). This is me water-skiing (Usually I"m on one ski but medical issues kept me on two this year. Just as thrilling though!):

In other news:

  •  A close family member was injured pretty badly and came to live with us for a few weeks so that turned my summer upside down (we all know how I am with change). 
  • I'm still working on two separate novels, one co-written with my wonderful co-author whose blog you should check out here: The Words Between the Lines. Said co-author might be coming to visit soon and I'm sure antics will ensue. Keep your police scanners at the ready. 
  • I'm working at a local deli which takes up some time but with what time is left, I like to sit by the pool and read and drink rum nice cool glasses of water. Happy Summer everyone!

So really, I'm sorry that this blog has been neglected for whoever is reading it but I'm also not sorry because I'm been busy living my life and enjoying being alive. And if there's one thing I've learned in my short lifetime, it's to catch the good moments while you can before they fly by. I hope that's what you all are doing also. Cheers.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

What I've Learned This Year At School

So, I haven't posted in six weeks. I'm really bad at this. And by this I mean time organization, blogging, singing when not in the shower and balancing a spoon on my nose. My excuse is that I have been insanely busy with the semester coming to a close which means lots of papers, tests and "fun" projects which aren't as much fun as they are a pain in the butt. Don't ask my roommate what I've been up to though because I have a feeling she'll say something absurd like, "Marie spends all her time watching The Office on Netflix. Now where would she  get an idea like that?
But here I am, alive and well, slightly stressed out and majorly in love with John Krasinski. And here I am today to share with you the wealth of information I have learned this year at college. Aren't you some lucky, lucky people?

1. If you are planning on or currently living with a roommate, you have no choice but to learn to compromise. I know, I know, not the easiest thing in the world. But unless you want your roommate to think you are a stuck up bitch (pardon the language), you have to learn to compromise. And that compromise might simply mean that you're going to have to learn to go to sleep with the light on (all college kids know how to do this) or you may not be able to have wild dance parties whenever you feel like it. Some things you just have to live with.

2. Fire alarms never go off at a convenient time. Never. In fact, most of them go off in the middle of the night when your floor decides to have a two in the morning snack for some strange reason. Here are some crucial steps you should remember: First, put on shoes. There's nothing like standing outside barefoot, especially in winter. Second, grab your keys for God sakes. Did you know it's the law mandate for public safety to lock your door after you leave? You didn't? Yeah, most of my dorm didn't either. But now you know.

3. The fire alarm leads nicely into my next point. Do not for one second take for granted your ability to use a microwave or a stove. It turns out about 50% of college freshman somehow never acquired this skill. I don't know how that happened to slip by them but it did. So please, if you see someone struggling to make Easy Mac or Ramen noodles and you, yourself, have the knowledge, help them out. It will probably cost you at least one two-in-the-morning fire alarm.

4. Ear plugs are God's gift to everyone. Before college, I never had any use for ear plugs except for swimming laps in the pool. But guess what? I owned a pair my second month in. Maybe sooner. I go to school in the middle of a city. There is no end to the wailing of sirens and car honks throughout all hours of the day and night. While I can promise that if you live here long enough, you'll become accustomed to these noises, the sounds of drunken partiers and public safety officers will usually be enough to rouse you from your slumber. At least, that's the way it is for me. Not to mention the goddamn vacuums the janitors use to clean the hallways EVERY SINGLE MORNING.

5. There will come a time when you think your life is over. Most likely this will happen sometime in early December or early May and you'll be sitting in the library surrounded by empty coffee cups and energy drink containers. They'll be a large red mark on your face where you fell asleep on your textbook and you'll be whimpering quietly, thinking to yourself, "I'm as stupid as my dog and the best thing I can hope for is to live the streets with the other hobos. My parents wasted all this money on me and now I'm going to have to tell them how dumb their offspring turned out to be." Do not fear. This happens to everyone. Go buy yourself another caffeinated drink and get back to work.

There you have it. You youngsters now know five things I did not before I entered the Great Land of Late Night Snacks and Sleeping In. And for everyone else....let me know what you think people should know about college!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Rules are Made to Be Broken

Low and behold, this blog will be about writing. I know, I know, two blogs about writing/books in a row? But remember, that this blog was created to be about writing in the first place. Then it turned on a crazy tilt and became about everything to do For two reasons really. One because I'm not exactly sure how reading about me writing is interesting. All the random stuff that happens in my life and in my head seems a lot more interesting than talking about character development and plot lines. Add on the fact that the only thing I know better than anything else in the world is myself so why not write about it (even though I don't deem myself interesting in the least). And two is that for the longest time (as in my whole life up until last year) my writing has been the most private thing about me. Which isn't a bad thing but it's not necessarily a good thing either because now I have this whole anxiety thing going on whenever anyone besides my best friend and mom get their hands on a piece of my work. Seriously, you do not want to see how stressed I get when an email goes out or I see my precious pieces of paper shoved into someone's bag...but that's another story.
Since practically forever, I've had trouble falling asleep. Once I'm out, it's a different ballgame, nothing can wake me. But beforehand...let's just say I've tried many many tricks to fall asleep. One I've found works particularly well is thinking about writing after the lights are out. Don't get me wrong, this can backfire and cause a sleepless night, but more often than not, it turns up interesting ideas and is enough to trick my brain into thinking it's tired. So the other night, I was naturally thinking about writing and my mind landed on the aspect of different genres. My two major WIP's right now are as different as cheerios and waffles. One is this odd combination piece of fantasy/paranormal/historical fiction and the other is strictly realistic fiction. Fantasy and paranormal - they are my safe haven. I love to write them and have never had a problem with ideas or writer's block or figuring out characters or anything at all. On the other hand, realistic fiction seems to be something of a conundrum to me. I cannot for the life of me figure it out. I know what you're thinking - then why are you writing a realistic fiction novel?
The answer to that is a long story that I will not/cannot tell you at this here time and place but mostly boils down to: 1. It was kind of an accident how it all began and 2. It's being co-authored so at least half of it won't be screwed up horribly (her part, not mine). Basically the whole thing is going to need many hours worth of editing to make it any degree of decent.
Why do I seem to have a stronger affinity for one than the other? I believe it has to do with rules. Never have I been to obey the rules, like, ever. How can I put it to you? If I was aware of a rule, I made sure to break it, even if the transgression was slight. And I'm not talking the law; don't mistake the two. Rules. That clearly translates to my writing. Don't you see how?
With fantasy/paranormal, you can make your own rules. It doesn't matter if your main character can't get to point A to point B because you can give them wings. Literally. You don't have to worry about the logistics of real life and I love it. As someone who views real life as rather plain, I relish in the fact I can make things up in my writing. Better yet I don't get in trouble for it. Let me give you an example.
In my head:
I love Taylor Swift.
I will always love Taylor Swift.
Whoever hates on Taylor Swift to me will no longer be allowed to eat chocolate or go to the movies.

See how easy that rule was to make up? In real life, the worst thing I can do is unfriend the Taylor Swift offender on Facebook.

My point is that these are two very different genres and each has their own set of limitations and rules within. I take nothing away from each of them. I know fantastic realistic fiction authors who have made me laugh, cry, want to marry a fictional character. But for me, writing has always been easier and more enjoyable when I can make my own rules. 
Then again, everything in life is easier when the only person you have to answer to is yourself ;)

~ M. T. Rossi

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Taylor Swift, Mashed Potatoes and the World's Greatest Book

So many excited things are happening right now! Taylor Swift just won two Grammy's (obviously there was no doubt she wouldn't win), there were mashed potatoes and pasta at the dining hall tonight (hello carbs!) and I managed to study for World Religions for two straight hours. I know, it's a big deal. But this all pales in comparison to what else I just accomplished. Today, at approximately 2:50 PM, I closed the back cover on possibly the greatest book I've ever read. The book in question?

Let's get something straight. I rarely do book reviews like this. Everyone has different tastes and interests when it comes to books and I'll be damned if I'm going to try and find one book that the majority of people like. From my experience, it just doesn't happen. Now, I have no problem at all suggesting titles for individuals. In fact, I rather enjoy it. But to offer up something as fragile and specific as a book to a thank you. Also, I cannot properly write a book review, having never learned the trade. I prefer to call this my book opinion but for all intents and purposes, I'm labeling it as a review. Anyway, on to the actual book.
As you can (hopefully) see, the book is entitled Mastiff by the very brilliant and under-acknowledged Tamora Pierce. It is the third book in a trilogy entitled the Beka Cooper trilogy. As it is the finale of the series, no spoilers will be posted here. I started this trilogy when I was 14 years old. I distinctly remember a science teacher of mine commenting on the book (only because I was ignoring his lecture to read) and when asked what it was about, I stammered, "U-um, I think it's like h-historical f-f-fiction." At the time, I hadn't quite been introduced to proper fantasy yet, which is the genre Ms. Pierce reigns over. Book nerds, argue with me if you will, but until you've read her books, I bet to differ.
All of Ms. Pierce's book have a spice to them that's unlike anything I've read before. Her characters are sharp, well-developed and brimming with attitude and charisma. The countries and cities she takes you to are detailed down to what the grit of the road tastes like or who the favorite pastry vendor is in a district. Every little thing is so well thought out I would have thought Ms. Pierce actually lives in these made up lands if the author bio had not informed me she resides in Syracuse. 
Let's see if I can do better than my above statement when it comes to describing the books. 
Beka Cooper lives in the year 247. She's a guard (Dog) for the Provost Guard. Which one can interpret as a loose meaning of a police figure in way of authority. She carries a wood/lead baton and rawhide cords instead of a gun and handcuffs. She works in the Lower City; the place with the most crime and highest poverty rate. The criminals she catches on a daily basis? Pickpockets, slave traders and colemongers (counterfeiters). By her side is a black cat with purple eyes named Pounce, a constellation that walks with the humans every few centuries or so. Beka's whole life is her job (although we do see some romance in the second and third books) and she's one of the best Dogs there is. Her ability to latch onto her prey and sniff them out has her held in very high esteem as the books progress. She's quick-witted, very dangerous and can run for hours at a time without slowing down.
In short, I want to be her.
I think the main thing that attracted me to this trilogy (as with all of Tamora Pierce's books) is the total solidarity of a female heroine. This girl is a total badass. As many books that are out there that center around females, there are few with a strong enough backbone to carry themselves throughout a series. 
Pierce's style is so close to perfect it makes me almost drool thinking about it. She nails dialogue, slang and word choice as if she's been around since the year 247. Her characters are complicated and thorough while her details of landscape and other imagery border on pure awesomeness. 
Perhaps this blogpost wasn't so much a review of the book as it was of the author. But truly people, take my word for it. I wouldn't be putting this out there if I didn't think it was absolutely worth reading. Not often do I finish a book and want to find the author so I can bow at her feet. Actually, come to think of it, that's never happened to me before. I promise the flavor of her writing will sit on her tongue long after the last pages are turned and if that's not incentive enough, you clearly have never read a great book. Do yourself a favor and read this series. And don't worry, you can thank me later.

Book One: Terrier
Book Two: Bloodhound
Book Three: Mastiff

~M.T. Rossi

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mastering the Art of Juggling

It's been over three weeks since I've lost blogged. I have no excuse. None at all.
Well, actually, I have plenty of excuses, I am a teenage student after all, but none of them good enough to spew out to random readers. Somehow I don't think my dog ate my laptop flies anymore.
On the bright side, my dog did not eat my laptop. I have just been incredibly busy now that school has started up again. These last ten days back here have been one whirlwind after the other, no joke. Dealing with people-in-my-life drama, school, family and other things has already stretched me pretty thing and Week 2 isn't even over yet! I keep telling myself that it's only 16 more weeks until Summer Break, just 16 and then I will be free, free, FREE!
That sounds awful, doesn't it? It's January and I'm already counting down until summer. It's not that I'm a bad student, I'm not. It's more of the fact that at this moment in my life I have no idea what I want. I have dreams - these colossal things that eat away at all the day dreaming space in my brain - but I have no solid plan. I understand I don't necessarily need one, that it would even be a bad idea to tie myself down with overambitousness. But here's the thing.
Most of you know that I write. And if you don't, then let me tell you.
I write. A lot. As in pretty much all the time. I write during classes, sometimes during lunch, definitely in the middle of the night when I can't fall asleep. No, I'm not crazy. I've just got these feisty little things called ideas in my head that might cause me to spontaneously combust if I don't let them out.
Okay, maybe I'm a little bit crazy.
My point is this: trying to be a (decent) student and write at the same time is hard! Trying to do anything while trying to write is hard.
I'm sure other writers feel the same way. There's always just one more thing that needs to be done, just one little errand or chore or ridiculous set of Philosophy Logic homework problems to solve. My first whole month at school, I was trying to finish up a writing project and seemed to neglect my studies. Then, the rest of the semester, I chose to focus more on school (Ha! Yeah, well can pretend I did) but remember those ideas? The tried to poison me.
While I did come back to second semester with the same idea (school over writing), I'm afraid it isn't quite working out like that. I have two major WIP's going on and I'm afraid that if I don't get them written out now, I never will. So where does that leave me with my schoolwork?
It-gets-done-but-not-in-an-orderly-or-timely-way. That's where.
But I've decided recently (as in the last week) that I will no longer let one or the other dominate. I am a capable young woman - or so I like to think - and there is no reason why I can't take on two things at once. Yes there are deadlines for school, quizzes to study for, textbooks to read but that doesn't mean I need to neglect my love to write. I think the solution is being able to manage your time. What works for me is telling myself I will do a couple hours of schoolwork and then reward myself with an hour or certain number of words on the writing end. Telling myself that there is no need to write during class if I wake up an hour earlier and write then. Or that it probably isn't necessary to keep on top of every single TV show I like to watch (I say this as Dance Moms is open in another tab).
When it comes to apples and oranges and flaming swords, I am a truly terrible juggler. I'm apt to poke someone's eye out. Which is why I usually don't attempt it.
However, when it comes to textbooks and dialogue, late night classes and character development, I have a feeling practice makes perfect.
But for now I think I'll keep my distance from the flaming objects.

~M. T. Rossi

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Year in Photos

Well we made it to 2012. Sometimes over the course of this last year I had my doubts that 2011 was actually going to end but I suppose that was just a reminder that time doesn't really speed up or slow down at all. It just plods along at the same pace it always has, ushering in the good and saying goodbye to all the hard times. I've been thinking over the past few days about what I wanted to include in this blogpost because 2011 was a difficult year for me and for probably the first time in my life, I wasn't sad to see the year end. Me, the Queen of NonChange, who usually clings as tightly to the past as possible was more than happy to say farewell to this year. At first, looking back, not much exciting seemed to have happened to me but I think now, what I realized is my decisions and mistakes were over shadowing those happy details. So instead of highlighting my mistakes, I want to focus on the good and so I have chosen to do this blog post in pictures. Of the good times. Not all of them were easy to get through at the time but they were definitely worth it. And of course, they all helped to add up to who I am.

In February, I made the executive decision and picked THIS school as my home for the next four years. Still waiting to see how that decision will play out in the long run.

In March, my wonderful mother made my dream come true by taking me out of school to see the NYC Teen Author Festival where I got to meet one of my favorite authors EVER, the fantastic Libba Bray.

I graduated high school. This sounds like it should be a really big deal but looking back, it's not. For me, it was just expected and I worked for it and then it happened. Maybe, in the future, I'll feel differently but for right now it is what it is.

A lot actually happened over the summer.

I went to a Taylor Swift concert (which is kinda a really big, huge deal):
Finished my first-ever manuscript (even though it's awful, it was still a huge milestone for me):
(not my picture - credit to WriteANovelManuscript)

Said goodbye to way too many people including my friends from school:

And also to my amazing co-workers who hands-down changed my life as only fellow bagel makers could:

Then in August, summer was over and I went to school:
Where I met my crazy yet awesome best friend:

And finished my second manuscript (which was still not good but substantially less awful than the first attempt):

I also ran my first race and saw Adam Pascal on Broadway IN THE SAME WEEK.

And of course would have been absolutely lost throughout this whole time without my best friend but more aptly named, partner-in-crime, by my side.

There you have it. My year in pictures. Of course a lot more has happened but I think I did a pretty okay sum up, all things considered. This past year taught me how to dream big and wild and to never give up on those dreams. I am determined to make 2012 my year and I wish nothing but the best for you in all your hopes and dreams as well.

~M. T. Rossi