I didn't choose the Princess life. Princess life chose me.


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Inkshares Geek & Sundry Fantasy competition

I've done it. I've started the process to publish, something that when I first began NaNoWriMo I said I would never do. I believe I even said it several years in.
But things change. The main character in this novel has pushed me in ways I didn't expect. He really does have his own voice and he can be very, very convincing. It doesn't help that I keep having dreams that flesh out this story more and more.
So here is the challenge: I have 90 days (88 remaining) to sell as many pre-orders as possible. The more sales, the better the publishing deal I can win. I've entered the book in a contest on Inkshares, a crowdfunding publishing platform, but I can't do this alone. Likes are great, shares even better, but I need SALES. And when it comes down to it it's all about the number of buyers of the book (i.e. you buying three copies is cool, but you, your mom, and your brother buying one copy each is how I win).  Please support me by buying a copy of the book! An e-book version costs less than two drinks at Starbucks and makes a huge, indescribable difference to me. And here's how you can help make this dream a reality: www.sarapolk.com 

28 looks odd from this angle

Tomorrow's my 28th birthday, and I must say that every time another year passes it just seems that the numbers make less and less sense.
Hear me out. All along the first 2.5 decades there are real, solid milestones: you turn 16 you get to drive; you turn 18 you are now responsible for your own welfare; you turn 21 and you can drink; and you turn 26 you get a discount on your car insurance (hey, I was really excited for that one).
But now it seems there aren't hard and fast reasons for the age. Sure, the "big ones" or decade numbers make you feel like they are important but if we are all honest with ourselves 30 is a lot like 29 or 31. It's still a wishy-washy year. The next solid and real external milestone is what? Retirement? Even that is fluid. Social Security? Likely won't exist by the time I get there.
So I've decided that from now on each year I will set one solid goal for my next rotation around the sun. I'm not sure what 29 will be, but I have set my sights on 28.
I am going to publish my novel. I've been setting faux deadlines and contemplating for too long. I'm actually going to do it. Delicate Art of Soul Ripping will finally stop being a wish-washy thing and finally be a solid thing.
First, I need to finish it. Then I need to market it/get the publishing "deal," hopefully through Inkshares since they seem to make sense. Then actually finish the rest of the process. I can totally do this.


If only I had any artistic abilty...

If I had an artistic or visually oriented bone in my body, I could make some awesome stuff. I can visual how I want things to look, but then in practice what I produce winds up being worse than any pinterest fail you've ever seen.
Then there is my brother who can just say "I want to make this new form of art" and bam! His stuff looks amazing. Case in point:

I can't even take a picture of his awesome artwork without it being not straight and slightly blurred. Jason sucked up all the artistic ability in from the womb before I was even a twinkle in my dad's eye. 

TBT poetry

When I was at Knox, I had to take an art class. After determining that I was not cut out for the standard studio art class due to my complete lack of artistic ability (I can't even color inside the lines) I decided it would be best to pursue an art credit that would still challenge me a bit while still being reasonably accomplished.

 Enter "Introduction to Poetry." Every week, we wrote a different type of poem. Every week, we workshopped the previous week's poem. It was both fun and painful at times, mostly more fun than painful. I was recently reminded of one of the poems I wrote and worked on quite extensively and have decided to share it here because I really, really liked it. Who knows, maybe in the midst of this regularly blogging thing I will post an old poem every once in a while Throw-Back-Thursday style. 

So here it is! The first of possibly, but maybe not, many! This is an ekphrastic poem based on the piece of art by Ben Shahn titled Concerto for Clarinets and Tinhorn. The image can be found here. I got to bring my love of the clarinet into my poetry with lots and lots of research into different kinds of clarinets, its history, etc., so it wound up being a lot of fun to write.


That tin does not, can not, stand up to the beauty of the clarinet.
How dare it sit there, among those real instruments?
A bad doppelganger, not worthy of standing in that line.

Altissimo. A member of the wide clarinet family, not to be lost,
but celebrated, that clarinet knows his place. He can play you
the highest note, C7, but he only does so when he knows
it to be necessary. Bringing that high-pitched note in to pierce
even the darkest of spaces. He has purpose with his pitches,
unlike that excuse for an instrument a tin horn.

Clarino. The reed is set, ready to fill the space of the hall with bright,
happy notes. Ready to blend with the rest of the clarinets,
harmonizing, five voices ascending. She can feel the breath
passing through her, fingers licking her silver keys.
And she is a clarinet, B, warm with her tones.
Not harsh, like a tin horn.

And see that clarinet? Bechet. He burns with disobedience,
He’s jazz and funk, bouncing from note to note
with such grace that you think they are all one.
But he sticks to no rules, changes rhythm and meter,
so you know where he stands. A tin horn would bend over
at the idea of playing such an fiery line.

Chalumeau. That clarinet stands tall, carefully built of wood.
The sweet, low timbre she expels through her bell sends
chills up and down your spine. It’s as if you know
that clarinet has a song for you, to smooth away
your concerns, and relax your muscles with her
soothing pitches. She doesn’t make your hair stand
on end, like that tin horn does.

Romanesca. That one, there on the end, plays Greensleeves
in perfect pitch. Sorrowful at the loss of love,
that clarinet can bring you to tears with his melody.
And the keys glide with the finger tips against that black wood,
trills and slurs, to tell its story. But a tin horn can’t tell
a story beyond its squeak for attention.

And that piece of tin thinks he can ruin this scene.
A common piece of metal that just happens to make a noise
when blown through. That screeching, pathetic excuse
for an instrument.

What is this I see? Those arms are reaching past Oehler’s formulations
for that cheap piece of metal. How can this be? It has no range,
no real musicality!

That tin horn does not belong in a concerto
of clarinets. It barely belongs in a circus.
And I will be the one to make sure
that it does not cross its boundaries.

Top ten book list

I had a friend at work today ask me for my top ten books I have ever read. I really had to think about it, because there are different ways books are my favorites, but then there are others that I look at and say, “I loved this book…hated the writing, but loved the story…story was ‘meh’ but the writing was beautiful…” etc. I figured it would be fun to post it here along with explanations of how I came to them, what they are about, or what I loved about them.

10. The Shadow of the Wind (2005) by , translated by Lucia Graves. An epic mystery set in 1945 Barcelona that I randomly picked up in an airport bookstore when I forgot my reading material and it hooked me in a way that I really didn’t expect. I’m not normally into mysteries, but this one was great. Something about how it is written just had me, which is really saying something for a book that I expected to read half of and then potentially “forget” at my mom’s house before flying home.

9. The Mouse that Roared (1955) by Leonard Wibberly. It’s a classic about a small duchy that decides it is economically sound to declare war on the United States. I found an old copy of this at a used bookstore where you filled a paper bag with books for only $5, and it tugged at the international relations major in me.

8. The Art of Racing in the Rain (2006) by Garth Stein. A dog’s whole life told from his perspective and how his family changed over time. I read this after my old man puppy, Zero, was put down at age 16 and it was quite possibly the absolute best thing I could have read at the time.

7. The Tripods Collection (1967-1988) by John Christopher. It’s a series of four books about a young man who refuses to be enslaved by the alien race that at age 13 “caps” people making them the dutiful little servants humans should be. My fourth grade teacher read these to us and I searched for years to find old copies of them here and there until they republished them in the early 2000’s. It’s kind of a young adult scifi from before the young adult genre existed.

6. Stardust (1999) by Neil Gaiman. Amazing fairy tale with witches and spells and stars falling from the sky. A favorite book of mine by a favorite author. Oh, and the movie is also a personal favorite (on the top ten list for movies).

5. The comics that make up the Civil War series in the Marvel Universe. Okay, technically comic books, but they put what you need to get the story line together. Ironman vs. Captain America: should super humans register with the government? I am fully on Cap’s side of the superhuman civil war in arguing that they should be free to protect their identity as well as society. Yes, the movie is coming out but oh, the comics are soooooooo good. #teamcap

4. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America (2001) by Barbara Ehrenreich. A woman reports on what it is like to live on minimum wage. The first non-fiction book on my list and one of the reasons I decided to do Americorps as well as why I decided to become a social worker. Poverty sucks, yo.

3. Orange is the New Black (2010) by Piper Kerman. The book that inspired the Netflix series is about a woman’s experience in prison years after she had completely changed her life. I wrote a whole review of it here, something I rarely do. This book is another one of the major things that inspired me to go into social work and work with the population I chose to dedicate my professional life to (youth with substance use problems and juvenile justice involvement).

2. Ella Enchanted (1997) by Gail Carson Levine. Cinderella with a curse that she must obey everything. The world is well developed; it’s a light and fun fairy tale. I loved it so much that I stole the copy I have from the middle school library when I moved at age 10. I even took this book to college with me because it seems like no matter how I am feeling (sad, angry, elated, etc) re-reading this book always ends well for me. I think I pick it up every 2-3 years or so and read it again.  

1. The Stand (1978) by Stephen King. Completely engrossing story of a super flu wiping out 95% of the population and how people come together afterwards. Just don’t read it if you have the sniffles. Summer colds are the worst.  

Honorable mentions: Almost anything by Chuck Palahniuk, The Tortall Series by Tamora Pierce, The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, and The Kronos Series by Rysa Walker. All also great, possibly even considered to be life-changing. They just got edged out a little bit in how different books have impacted me over the years. (I am still completely an HP nerd. I swear.) 

When your blog calls you out... silently...

For some reason, I decided to see what was going on with my blog. Read that as "I decided to see when I blogged last" only to find that my blog was staring me in the face and saying "YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO JOURNAL EVERY DAY AND THEN ABANDONED ME FOR 1.5 YEARS." Yeah, I did. I really, really did. But as I have decided to pursue a lot of new and different things lately, I have also decided to revive my blog. And I mean it this time. No, guys, I REALLY mean it. Mostly because I am in the process of editing my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel for publication and blogs are darn useful for general interest, but also because I kind of miss having an outlet. Now that I am no longer dying the slow and painful death that is grad school I think I can actually do this again. No, really. I mean it! Everyone else look away right now for the next few lines. I need to have an aside with myself in the future. Ok, self. Are we alone? Good. Consider this Past Sara putting Future Sara on check. If you look at your blog at first glance 1.5 years from now and this is what you see, you are done. Finished. Blogging is not for you. And you are a jerk. Remember that Past Sara said that. EVERYONE CAN LOOK BACK NOW. I just needed to get that off my chest. But now that I am back to blogging, you know, that last bit will never be seen again. I am so bad at holding myself accountable.