You’re not the music 

You’re the headache when the high fades 

A shadow when the light strays

You’re not the music 

You’re the noise 

And I won’t trade my gold for toys 
You’re not the sun, you’re the burn 

A fool who never could wait his turn 

You’re not the rush

You’re the crash 

And I’ll never love cars that drive too fast 
You’re not the light 

But the pitch black memories l lose each night 

You’re not the buzz 

You’re the drink I crave when I’ve already had too much 

And it’s time I lick your taste away   


Calloused hands and dirty heels,

Chipping nails, my hair unclean.

This is how my journey feels.

Her feet bare,

A flower crown upon her hair.

Gypsy soul, she moves,

The crowd from still to stir.

Sheets a mess and I can’t sleep,

Empty notes beside by my bed.

This is how my journey feels.

Her voice hushed,

Their screams rushed.

Gypsy soul, she moves,

The crowd from still to stir.

Results are scarce,

My friends they ask but they don’t see.

This is how my journey feels.

Her words, they climb,

The crowd is still but comes to find,

This is how her journey felt.

Monthly Challenge!

If you are a writer, you will have heard these 3 phrases at least once in your life:

“If you aren’t writing, you should be reading.”

“You can’t be a great writer without reading.”

“ If you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have time write.”

These phrases probably ring a bell. And I hope they do! Because I am challenging everyone who sees this post to a reading challenge. As readers, and writers too, we tend to stick with what we like when it comes to genres. Let’s face it, we find a genre we love and once we do it’s hard to pry yourself away. We become secluded in this little bubble, missing out on so many other great things. So not only am I challenging myself to read four books a month but I am also challenging myself to read four different genres. It’s my hope to become familiar with new genres and to better myself as a writer.  I’ll post the titles of the books I’ve read each month and would love to hear back from those who are doing the same. If you want to take the challenge, post your very own list of books you plan to read within a month and hashtag #FourBooksFourWeeks. Below you’ll find my list from April. I’m a slow reader with a full time job and a book a week is totally doable… and still gives leaves me with time to write. The way I see it, reading is the “weight lifting” for writers. It only makes us stronger. I hope you take the challenge!

ON WRITING by Stephen King

SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler

RED QUEEN by Victoria Aveyard

A DISCOVERY OF WITHES by Deborah Harkness

#Amwriting #Amreading

Tickets to Dreamland

Night raids are mostly affiliated with war movies or robberies. But where I’m from they mean something a whole lot different. It’s said that if you got the money and pass all the tests you can be lucky enough to get night raided too. That’s what the website says anyways. Hell, the thought of someone creeping into your house when you’re asleep doesn’t appeal to everyone. But to me it sure does. “Hunter,” a low voice storms itself into the canals of my ears. The cool sheet of my bed set tangles around my wrist, tugging it in the wrong direction. “Who’s that?” I yell. The voice hides itself behind a black mask. Behind him are others; their figures tall and dark in the night. They pounce towards the direction of my bed. “Who’s there?” I say again, attempting to crawl backwards against the mattress. The men trample on me, their bodies too dense for me to battle with. A shiver climbs through the length of my spine when I feel the cold restraints clamp around my wrist. “You signed up for this man,” the same voice who whispered my name tells me. “I didn’t even get my test results! I didn’t even know if I was chosen!” I declare. “You applied, you paid, you passed. And I’m just collecting a pay check man,” the voice says again, suddenly no longer a threat to my safety. The men pull my body from the mattress, the blankets fall to the hardwood floor as I land on my feet. I feel the sleep crawl from my eyes as my they adjust to the darkness surrounding us. I count four men; two on each side, one in front, and one behind me. It isn’t long until I too wear a hooded mask. Except unlike theirs, my vision is stolen. “Hope you aint picky,” the man states. The sound of my dresser drawer slides open. The men assist each of my legs through a pair of pants. Once I’m dressed they usher me out of my bedroom and through the familiar hall way of my home, the ones my parents left me when they died. “Shoes,” the man says. Blindly, I slide my bare feet into the pair of sneakers I left on top of my door mat. The creak of the front door pierces my ears, the man’s hands tightly behind me. With one unsteady step, a chill creeps through the stiches of my plain white t-shirt; a chill only found in the empty hours of the night. The smell of exhaust tramples its way into my lungs. “Get in,” the man demands. The other men remain silent, although their presence only inches from me. I climb into the car. The smell of exhaust is quickly replaced by old cigarettes and too much cologne. “Can I take this damn thing off yet?” I yell. The only response that comes is the slamming of the car door. * “This’ll only hurt for a split second,” the man tells me. For some reason, I pictured the man in charge behind the wheel. But instead, his voice is much closer. He is seated next to me. I yank my arm from his grip. “Hey! I said it won’t hurt. It’ll only be a little pinch. Come on, that’s what they tell the kids at the doctor’s offices anyways.” “Except I ‘aint at a doctor’s office. I’m blindfolded in the back of some car,” I correct him. A tiny prick makes it way down the front side of my forearm. I grit my teeth, waiting for more pain to come, but it doesn’t. “See. Wasn’t so bad now,” the man says. A cool liquid swims through the veins of my arms, calming my entire body until I sit slumped. The car carries us along the ride, the smoothness of the road almost putting me to sleep. Suddenly I feel the car slam to a stop. All at once, gusts of cool air surround me. I hear the click of the seat belts unbuckle, the men jumping from the car. “Where you going?” I yell. “Hey! Where you going?” The doors of the car slam, leaving me stranded and alone. The cool liquid continues to march its way into my veins. I sit idle, somewhere between a night raid and Dreamland. * Moments later, I hear the doors reopen. This time, a woman’s voice screams obscenities; her voice drawing near. “Get off me, you prick! Get off!” the woman yells. “You people sign up for this crap,” the man scolds. I feel the woman’s body plop into the seat beside me. “You blind folded too?” I ask. “Who’s that?” she asks, her voice shaking. “Name’s Hunter and I’m willing to bet we’re in the same boat.” She doesn’t reply. Instead, I hear the man give her the same lecture he gave me moments before. “What comes next will only hurt a little. Just a pinch, darlin,” he says. The doors of the car shut once more. In seconds, the movement picks back up. The woman beside me lets out a squeal. “Just like a doctor’s office,” I mumble. The man tugs the piece of cloth covering my head until its free.  My eyes adjust; the sky outside of the car still dark. I turn to face the woman beside me. Like I was when I first entered the car, she wears a black cloth over her head. “Dreamland,” I announce, more to myself than to her. She sits slumped in her chair, a baggy sweat shirt almost falling off of her shoulder. I stare down at my arm, the tube still transporting liquid into my veins. This is what I signed up for. I was chosen. And so was she. The man in charge reaches back to remove the cloth from her face. When he does, the woman turns to face me. Her eyes look like a color of its own, like the green and blue stripes in the rainbow should have a space between them, a color all her own. “You good?” I ask, suddenly self-conscious of the uneven stubble growing alongside my face. She shakes her head back and forth. “You’re going too?” she asks. I lift my forearm in her direction. “Half way there,” I say, my words beginning to drag. “I just took my tests yesterday. I wasn’t expecting for it to happen so soon. I thought I’d have to sign something, have a chance to rethink it. I don’t know,” she rambles. “You signed the agreement when you signed up,” the man yells from the other seat. She rolls her eyes. “I think he’s right,” I add. “And when you made the $1,000 deposit. This will be the most expensive drug you ever buy,” the man says. I watch as he lights a cigarette. He brings it to his skinny lips, the only piece of skin showing from behind his mask. “It’s not a drug. I, I, I don’t do drugs. This is supposed to be a clean escape,” she says, her voice shaking with uncertainty. He points down at the tubes plunging into our forearms. “That right there. Drugs. Addictive? No. On the market? No. Drugs? Very much so,” he says. “Welcome to Dreamland,” one of the men announces. * My eyes study the darkness outside. The layers of night like sheets of ocean running for miles and miles. I tell my eyes to ignore the beautiful woman beside me, even though she is scared and alone like I am. The car jolts into a stop like before. Another passenger? I ask myself. But the men move in no hurry. They lack urgency, plus there are no seats left inside the van. I know we are here. We have reached dreamland. “This it?” I ask. But the men are already outside of the vehicle. “Are you scared?” the woman asks. “Only because I told you my name but you didn’t tell me yours,” I say. The man yanks her arm, pulling her from the car. “It’s Dani,” she tells me. I climb out of the car, my hands still restrained. Moments later, the man makes his way to the other side of the car where I stand. He undoes my wrists. Surrounding us is miles of dessert with no obvious end. The sun stays out of view, the moon placed perfectly in the sky. “Walk about a hundred yards that way. You’ll see a butt load of tents. The scariest part, night raid and all, is all over with. Dreamland really is a magical place. Time goes by quick though so I’d get to it,” the man says. He slings a hand onto his hip. “I don’t see a tent,” Dani announces, appearing at my side. I turn into the man’s direction to confirm the direction of the tents, but he is half way in the car. The door shuts behind him and the van kicks into drive. Gusts of sand spit up in our direction. I spit the ashy substance from my lips. “Come on,” I say, unsure. The cold sand climbs over my shoes with each uneven step. I pictured myself alone here, like most of my nights. But instead Dani walks behind me, silently denoting me as the leader. “Are you sure it’s this way?” she asks. “No.” She says nothing. I stop in my tracks, allowing her to catch up. “What made you sign up for this?” I ask. My mind begins to go fuzzy, not in the way where I’ve had too much whiskey, but warm, electric. “Curiosity, mostly,” she tells me. I nod. “That and because I have an obsession with dreams. The people I see in them, why I have them, everything. If I could, I would live inside of a dream. I guess this is the closest I could get,” she adds. “I can see that. Guess that’s why most people shell out the cash. Hope it’s worth it,” I say. Just before us is what seems to be a makeshift town. Instead of concrete buildings and structures, there are rows of high pitched tents. It is like they’ve grown from the sand itself and one day sprouted up like a forest. “What about you?” she asks. “I don’t care much for reality,” I answer quickly, my tongue feeling like its tripled in its size. “Why?” she asks, the pop up town of tents only a few feet ahead. “No family left. I don’t like who I am. I know I can never escape myself so escaping reality will just have to do.” “Why would you want to escape yourself?” Dani asks. If it wasn’t for the swirls of movement running through my body I would be irritated by her nosiness. But whatever those guys pumped into my veins is telling me not to care. Whatever those guys pumped into me is making Dani’s radiance grow by the second. “Parents died, sister’s gone too. It’s just not fair. Me being here and them not. Hate myself for it,” I say. She grabs my arm. My eyes squint in attempt to keep her features in focus. “Are you going to dreamland in hopes to see them?” she asks. “No.” “Then why?” “I’m going in hopes to not see myself, to escape myself. The miserable bastard lucky enough to be alive in place of his family. ‘Livin off their hard earned money. That’s all I want,” I say. I move my eyes from her, my vision slowed. Her questions make me want Dreamland more than ever. But they also make me want to keep talking. When I blink, I am among the tents now. I am here. * Nose to nose with the first tent, I push the cloth-like door to the side. In just a half of a step, I am inside. The ground is black, the walls too. Dani comes in behind me. She latches her cold hand onto mine. I know she’s scared, so I don’t push it away. I bring my eyes to the floor. Suddenly the ground begins to move. Not in a rumbling, earthquake kind of way. But in a way that feels like you’re on a water slide with no end and no light beneath. I lose my stomach. The feeling of free falling takes the wind from my lungs. My legs, still attached, feel like slabs of rubber. The speed in which I fall picks up. I lose Dani’s hand. The long hair on my head stands straight up. For a moment I am convinced I will fall forever. Yet I feel no fear. And then it ends. I stumble around the darkness, patting at the ground, unsure if the floor will drop again. I crawl towards the door. Dani is on her feet. I watch as she pulls the door open, her questionably fear replaced with full on terror. “What the hell did we sign up for?” I ask, falling from outside of the tent laughing. But when I feel the words leave my mouth, I hear nothing. Pressure pushes against my temples. Dani stumbles to her feet. Suddenly brave, I watch as she makes her way towards another tent. I follow her, the blonde streaks in her hair intensifying as I watch her. She disappears into the next tent. I follow her. I think I’d follow her anywhere. On the other side, this time the floor is not black. It is made of money. I lose my footing, the bills beneath the sole of my shoe slipping. I land on my back. Bills begin to fall from the sky like snowflakes amidst a midwinter storm. Piles are stacked on each side of me. I watch as Dani grabs at the money, stuffing the bills into her shirt. Her smile is one that can only exist in a dream. I stand beside her now. She takes a break from gathering money and stares up at me. I imagine she wonders why I am not grabbing at the bills. But the truth is I have enough already. I didn’t come here to feel rich, I came here to escape myself. Instead of joining I let the precipitation of cash fall around me, disappointment piling up where money should be. For a moment I think Dani will never leave the second tent. To my surprise, she does. And like the first room, I follow on her heels. She falls to her knees, rows of tents running alongside us. She peers up at me, happiness stretched across her soft white skin. I watch as she pats the bills down in place, a few getting away and straying from the mound of money. “Come on,” I say, regaining my position as the leader. She leaves the pile of cash, looking back at it as we move on. This time, I pull the door of the tent back. I squint my eyes as I stare into a blue horizon. I step further into the light, feeling the floor escape from me. This time, I do not fall. Instead I am flying. I dodge trees, my speed increasing as I sore through the blue sky. My body slices through clouds as I pass them. Beneath me, where the blue floor was is now a sea of tree tops. This is the Dreamland I’ve dreamt of. I turn to find Dani but I cannot see her. At the rate at which my body flies I can barely move my neck. The air presses against me, my cheeks flying back. I know Dani is flying too, somewhere in this room. All at once the room goes black. I am on my back, my breaths choppy like the ocean before a storm. “Oh my god,” I gasp, turning on my side to find Dani. “Screw the money,” Dani says. Through the darkness, I watch her smile grow. The door to the next tent is the same as the first few. Although I know what lies behind it will be a different adventure. Nerves climb through me, so much so that even the liquid drug mixing with my blood cannot silence them. A part of me aches that the next tent will not compare to the last. But a bigger part cannot wait. I step through the door. The room is black. Dani follows. I wait ten seconds, waiting for the room to change. But it does not. The stillness and the blackness remain. I walk around the room, using my hands to guide me through the pitch black. I hear a muffled yell. It is Dani. Her voice sounds like her head is ten feet underwater. She grabs at her mouth. Before I can get to her, I too am grabbing at mine. I feel my front tooth begin to crumble. I make a small attempt to press it back into its spot, but the bone crumbles at the touch. The sensation is nerve racking, the fluttering in my stomach picking up with force. I feel another tooth fall from my mouth. And then another. There is nothing I can do. I want out of this room. I know Dani does too. I push myself from the door. Dani runs out behind me. “Dreamland,” she declares. “That was a freaking nightmare.” I continue to grab at my mouth, making sure my teeth are indeed still there. “I’ve had that dream before,” I tell her. “Except I could never feel it. That time, I felt it.” Dani stares at me, wiggling each tooth to make sure it’s safely in it’s spot. “I felt it and I hated it. But I felt. I haven’t felt a damn thing since my family died,” I add. We both laugh, moving towards our next tent. We travel through several more. We fell, we ran, we swam, we floated, we died, we were buried. The dreams seemed endless. But that man that dropped us off was right. The time in Dreamland goes by too fast. “Last one,” she says. We stand before the last white tent. The sun begins to peak up in the corner of the sky. I feel the liquids in my arm fading. “We should hurry,” I say. This time, instead of waiting for her to grab my hand, I take hers. Maybe I won’t be able to escape myself but Dreamland has led me to her. And maybe when I wake up from Dreamland and plunge back into reality, I won’t have to be as lonely as I was before. She pushes through the door of the last tent. I follow behind her. To no surprise, the room is a deep black. Right away, I feel her hands against my face. She kisses me. I wait for the surroundings to change, for the floor to drop, the air to be replaced with salty ocean water. But it doesn’t. We just stand there, kissing. I wrap my hands around her and hope she doesn’t take her lips from mine. The seconds move like minutes, making the time fly and stand still at the same time. I felt like myself when I was flying, when I was falling. But now, in the last tent, kissing here, I have forgotten who I was altogether. I got what I came for here in Dreamland. She drags me in the direction of the door, knowing that it is time to leave our final stop. I push myself from the door until I am back in the median. Dani is behind me, her cheeks crisp and red. Instead of making our way back down to where the van dropped us, we lay together in the sand. I watch as the sky strips itself from the darkness. The drug in my veins fade with the night. Dani lays on my chest, her consciousness gone but her breathing strong and heavy. I let her sleep, watching as her chest moves up and down until mine takes the same path. I fall asleep in Dreamland with Danie on my chest, unsure of who I am or where I am. * When I awake, I am back inside the van which carried me through the night across the sand dunes and into Dreamland.  Outside the night sky has vanished. The sun bursts against the khaki colored sand. I reach across the seat for Dani’s hand, wishing we were still on the outskirts of Dreamland. But she is not there. The men from the night occupy the car, their masks still in place. Dani is missing. “Where’s Dani?” I ask. I lean back to see if she’s hidden somewhere, even though it is obvious that there’s no obvious spot for her to be hiding. The man behind the wheel steers the van across the dunes. A cigarette dangles from his lips like on the ride in. I pat my forearm, a small scratch where the UV of liquid was just. “Where is she?” I ask again. The man looks at me through the rearview window, his face stern. “What in the hell you talkin’ ‘bout?” he asks. “The girl, Dani. You can’t leave her!” I yell, slamming my fist against the window. For a moment I think about lunging towards him. Before I can react I feel the hands of the other men pinning me to my seat. “There is no girl,” he yells. I sink into my seat, finally understanding that he’s right. I ask once more. “The girl. You picked her up right after me and you brought us to Dreamland,” I say, my words dragging. “Oh, you mean your dream girl? Boy, don’t you know she only lives in Dreamland.”

3 Things to Avoid While Writing

Music that makes you want to bust a move. Okay, maybe this is obvious to everyone else except me but when I first began writing, I went to great lengths to prepare the most well pressed arrangement of songs to accompany my pencil strokes. Ranging from Kings of Leon to the song I just shazamed in the movie theatre last week. Before I knew it, my writing was null and I found myself screaming “heyyyyyyyy, your sex is on fire,” over my headphones instead of actually writing. So you know what else was on fire? This project that is going nowhere because I am distracted by the mesmerizing voices of Caleb Followill.

My fix: I think playlists have the potential to be great. It is just a matter of what you stack them with. Find music that tunes out your surroundings enough but not too much that makes you want to sing along. Maybe pick an artist you like but don’t necessarily love or songs without any lyircs at all. My preference is Radiohead. Mainly because I like their sound but can never understand a word they say, so the desire to sing along or get lost in the words isn’t there.

Caffeine overload. Another rookie mistake on my part. This can be a challenge, especially because I do most of my writing in cafes or places that specialize in well, caffeine induced beverages. Sometimes I am not in the mood to write. Plain and simple. I used to think the fix is to load up on coffee. And then a few cups in, my vision is bouncing from wall, computer screen, back to the wall. There is a fine line between grabbing a coffee while you write and binging. You’ll know you’ve crossed the line when it begins to blur, and your eyes can’t even focus on it.

My fix: Say it with me now. Decaf. Call me crazy but I think a cup of coffee (or tea) alongside a writer can be used for pure comfort. For me, it completely is. Maybe you need that steaming cup o’ joe to set your ambiance, or maybe it’s all in your head. Either way, too much caffeine is a bad thing.

Taking breaks in the same spot you write. Deadly. This makes it hard to tell the difference between “work mode” and “play mode.” In this day in age, it’s easy to “step away” from writing without actually even taking a step at all. Say you are sitting at your computer and decide it’s time for a break. To free yourself it really only requires you to minimize your document and open up Safari. Or grab your phone and escape in another way.

My fix: Separate your work space from your break space, even if it means going into another room or stepping outside to browse the internet from your computer. Breaks are needed. What isn’t needed is taking them in the same exact spot that you write. Employers have break rooms for a reason. And writing is work.

Categorizing your novel

This is the way I see it:

See this brownie? The one I just baked in the kitchen and pulled from the oven? Describe this brownie. To me, it is delicious, fresh, warm, homemade, fatty, brown, gooey, moist. But no. This brownie can only be one of those things.

So if I had to pick just one word to describe it. I’ll say this brownie is warm. Yes, definitely warm. But it’s also delicious, oh yes, very delicious. Okay, so maybe it is warm with a heavy influence of deliciousness. Yes that works. But crap. It’s also very bad for me. MY POINT (because I do have one) is this: How can my novel just be one thing? Much like trying to categorize your novel, although much less tasty, I find this process tiring. Should your genre be determined BEFORE writing your novel? Or is this typically something that is determined once your novel is complete? Determining a genre beforehand might help keep you on a certain track, but I really don’t think you know what your novel is until its complete. Is there an answer to this?

Currently I am writing a young adult fiction novel that I would classify as a romance novel. But I am not happy with that. The genre, to me, is more than just romance, not to mention does not exactly fit into the category like a glove. It is a thriller with touches of science fiction. So when writing a query letter, the description “my romance, thriller, YA fiction novel” doesn’t really work. Of course I am exaggerating but as a first time writer, I want to know, is having a problem classifying your book a GOOD thing, BAD thing, or completely irrelevant? Is there some secret trick to help categorize a novel that doesn’t perfectly fit?

I have been going back and forth, flip flopping between genres. Also, I’m really craving brownies.