Hipsters and Obsession


Last Saturday, I went to Williamsburg for a friend’s birthday. For those of you who aren’t from New York, Williamsburg, in the Brooklyn borough of NYC, is the hipster capitol of the world. (See the Urban Dictionary definition of hipster if you don’t know what that is). I am not a hipster. I am a nerd. We are an entirely different breed of human.

I never feel like I fit in when I go to Williamsburg. I don’t own skinny jeans or ironic T-shirts or thick-framed eyeglasses without lenses. I can’t name obscure bands from the 80’s and no one has ever described me as effortlessly cool. 

Behold. The Hipster.
On Saturday, I made one concession to hipsterhood–I wore a vampy shade of red lipstick that is basically the uniform for Williamsburg female residents. But despite my efforts to blend in with the crowd, this weekend I felt even more like an anomaly. You see, something’s happened over the past few months. 

All of my friends are in relationships. In varying degrees of relationships, it’s true–some have been dating their boyfriends for years, others are just at the onset of a new relationship, and a few are somewhere in the middle. Regardless, on Saturday night I found myself at a table surrounded by couples. How the hell did this happen?

And in fact, my friend asked me, “So what’s been going on with you, Sally? Any updates in your love life?”

To which I had to respond, “Well, no.”

“Why?” she asked me, as though my answer were offensive. 

I said, rather defensively, “I’ve been too busy. I’ve been working on my book.”

I realized something in that moment, as soon as the words left my mouth. I do have a boyfriend. I have two. You may have met them–their names are Braeden and Tristan. They’re smokin’ hot.

Over the past few months, I have spent far more time with Braeden and Tristan–Sam, too–than I have my real, flesh-and-blood friends. I spent more time trying to describe the way Braeden looks with his shirt off than fantasizing about my hot Irish neighbor upstairs (don’t worry; he doesn’t read this) or my secret Wattpad lover (he does). I swear, I’ve dreamed about the characters in Paladin. They’re with me every second of the day.

I’m not trying to say that this is a good thing. It’s probably unhealthy, and it’s not something I think I can successfully explain to someone who doesn’t write. I don’t know if I can successfully explain it at all. Hell, maybe I am crazy.  

When I first started writing Paladin back in October 2011, writing was a hobby. I wrote on the weekends, an hour or two here and there during the week, because it felt good to write for pleasure again. I had never attempted to write a novel before and I didn’t know what the heck I was doing (still don’t). It was a time of experimentation and learning.

But then the story took on a life of its own, especially the last few months I was writing it. It was like I was possessed. Whenever I wasn’t at the office, I had to write. I didn’t care if it was 5:00 am in the morning and I had to be up for work at 8:00. The story of Paladin was trying to burst out of my skull and I couldn’t put it to paper fast enough. I wanted desperately to get to that happy ending that was playing like a movie on repeat inside my head.

I wonder if writing will always be like this for me–all consuming and compulsive. I wonder if I will always feel so attached to my stories–Paladin is like the result of a 15 month pregnancy. It is my beautiful baby (you should see the fathers). And I wonder if other writers, or artists, feel this obsession with their work. Does your story control you, or do you control the story? 

Paladin Exclusive: Revised Chapter 1

Many of my readers know that I really disliked the first chapter of Paladin. After all, I started writing Paladin 15 months ago, and my writing style has since changed and–hopefully–improved. I’m not a big fan of the prologue and first chapter that are up on Wattpad right now. To me, there’s one especially glaring issue–Millie and Sir Daniel are the stars of Chapter 1, but they don’t have a part in the rest of the story. Why should they be the characters who open the book?

Since I needed to provide Chapter 1 for the book contest I entered (more on that in a post later this week), I tried to rewrite it. I rewrote Chapter 1–just Chapter 1–six times. And each one was worse than the last.

The version below is the chapter I ended up submitting (attempt #7). Now, I expect some of you aren’t going to like it–it’s definitely very different from the first chapter I have on Wattpad now. But it does successfully get rid of Millie and Sir Daniel, who really are not at all integral to the story.

This is not the full first chapter–I kept some stuff from the original that I’m not showing here, since you all have already read it. Basically the only things that are going away are the prologue and the bit with Sir Daniel and Millie. Everything else is unchanged.

So, enjoy this Paladin exclusive! Also, if you haven’t already, visit/like my Facebook author page.

Chapter 1

She fidgeted, waiting for her name to be announced. The name she gave them, not the name she was given.

“Sam of Haywood!”

When she didn’t move, someone shoved her to the front. She’d have to remember she was Sam now, not Samantha. It would take some getting used to.

“William of Gwent!”

Sam craned her neck, trying to catch a proper glimpse of her opponent. He was a big lad, with a girth that bordered on fat. His eyes were small and mean, and betrayed no sign of intelligence.

Sam stepped out into the arena, and a few of the boys guffawed. They elbowed William in the ribs and she heard one say, “This one’ll be easy.”

She scowled. Let them laugh. William of Gwent might be twice her size, but she would still defeat him. He lumbered across the grassy field with all the grace of a drunken elephant.

Five swords–not practice swords, but real metal blades of varying lengths and styles–had been laid out in the middle of the field for Sam and William to choose from. Sam tested the balance of each sword until she settled on one she liked, a wide blade with a cat’s head pommel. William chose the greatsword, a hefty, two-handed weapon that weighed nigh on two stone. She smirked. It was a powerful sword–if you knew how to use it.

The officiating Paladin called out from behind the low wooden barrier, “Swords at the ready!” Sam and William raised their blades to the on-guard position. “You know the rules by now. First to draw blood will be declared the winner. If you lose, you’re out. Go home. Better luck next year. Are we clear?”

Sam nodded. The rules were harsh but fair; outside of the training yard, there were no second chances. Demons didn’t care if you were having an off day or if you allowed yourself to be distracted; they would kill you regardless. Sam had encountered a demon once in her eighteen years, and she had nearly died for it. The Trials, in comparison, were lenient.

“Alright, lads,” said the Paladin. Sam would have to get used to that, too; no one would ever again call her Lady. “You may begin!”

Sam studied her opponent. He had a brutish strength–she could tell by the ease with which he carried the greatsword–but his form was poor. She would wait him out, let him attack her first, and then find the holes in his armor.

“Oi, pretty boy!” William heckled. Sam raised an eyebrow at the insult. That was a new one for her. He hawked a wad of spit onto the ground. “Let’s get this over with, pretty boy.”

“You flatter me, with all your talk of prettiness,” she said. She wasn’t pretty, never had been, but she made for a convincing boy. “I’m starting to think you like me.” His face went purple with rage, and Sam choked back a laugh. Sparring with words was almost as much fun as sparring with swords, and she’d had little opportunity to practice.

Incensed, William charged her, swinging his greatsword wildly. Sam sidestepped, and he sailed past her, plunging headfirst into the wooden barricade. He fell backwards onto his backside, and the arena burst into laughter.

Good gods, this was going to be easier than she had thought. “Paladin, does it count as my win if he’s bleeding of his own accord?”

 “I’m tempted to say yes,” the Paladin said through clenched teeth. “But no, finish it properly.”

William rose unsteadily to his feet, using his greatsword as an anchor. His face, red and round as it was, looked remarkably like a tomato. She felt a little sorry for him.

Not sorry enough to let him win. Sam wanted more than anything to be a Paladin. Their name was synonymous with bravery, and there were no better fighters. “My turn,” she said, feinting to the left, then circling under his sword.

Barely, William managed to parry her. He slashed at her torso, connecting with air as Sam danced out of the way. She rapped him on the knuckles with the flat of her blade, and the greatsword fell out of his grasp. Fighting a smile, she pressed her sword point into the underside of his chin.

“Win for Sam of Haywood!”

Sam trudged back to where the rest of the trainee candidates stood waiting, while a shamefaced William exited himself from the premises. It was too early to celebrate–there must have been fifty boys remaining, and they were just the Eastern swordsmen. The Trials were also being held throughout the West, North and South of Thule; each regional Trial was separated by class of weapon.  Only a hundred new trainees would be accepted in total–less if the level of talent was found lacking.

Her new name was called half a dozen times more. Sam sliced and slashed–and on occasion–blocked her way to victory after victory. The guffaws that had greeted her first few bouts disappeared like a hazy memory.

They would never guess now that the loose tunic and ill-fitting breeches hid a girlish figure. The nose she hated, her father’s nose, saved her face from overt femininity. Lady Samantha was buried beneath three yards of binding fabric and the unflattering trainee topknot. But her best disguise was this: no man would admit, even to himself, that a woman had defeated him.­­­

Sam had visions of what would happen if, gods forbid, she was found out. “Off with her head!” seemed a bit farfetched; her head was worth far more attached. The Duke of Haywood would pay whatever sum to keep her alive–grooming another heir would take too much effort. No, more likely she would be returned to her father, the duke, and they would let him deal with her. He would consign her to a lifetime of needlepoint and embroidery and a marriage she didn’t want. Sam preferred the guillotine.

She was getting ahead of herself. She wasn’t a Paladin, not even a trainee, not yet. She could lose her next fight and go home to Haywood on the morrow.

“Sam of Haywood!”

Her name called again. Sam pushed to her feet, pacing to stave off the stiffness of aching muscles. She wasn’t accustomed to fighting for so many hours on end, and would suffer for it by nightfall. It would be a pleasant suffering, a physical reminder of her accomplishments.

Her new opponent, a tall, lanky boy, had a long reach and chose a longsword to lengthen it. He was a solid swordsman; his grip and stance seemed natural. She’d watched some of his fights, too. He wasn’t flashy, but he was more than passable. Sam was better.

The Paladin repeated the rules of the duel for the thousandth time, and then: “You may begin!”

Sam lashed out first, swiping at his shoulder. He blocked and parried, and then swung again. The reach of his sword was too long, and she had to duck underneath it. She regained her footing and slid her sword along the inside of his blade, narrowing the distance between them. Up close, like this, Sam’s shorter sword held the advantage.

A glint of gold caught the corner of her eye, and her head, involuntarily, turned toward it.

There he stood, just beyond the wooden barrier, like a ghost from the past. Paladin Tristan Lyons. He could ruin everything.

Sam faltered, and her opponent’s sword caught the sleeve of her shirt.

“Halt!” yelled the officiating Paladin.

Shite. Sam pushed back her sleeve. “The skin’s unbroken, Paladin. No blood.” Her heart beat like a humming bird’s. She’d almost lost. How could she have let herself get distracted? Gods, and in front of him, no less. Whether he recognized her or not, he’d think her a bumbling idiot.

“Swords at the ready!” Sam raised her sword. “Begin!”

She shifted on the balls of her feet, ready. Her opponent’s blade moved by the tiniest fraction, and Sam attacked, hitting the outer edge. She swung again, and again, battering his sword. She faked to the right then thrust to the left, scouring his side. More than the fabric ripped; red dribbled from a shallow gash.

“Win for Sam of Haywood!”

She’d won, thank the gods. Had Tristan Lyons seen it? She shaded her eyes with her hand, scanning the small crowd behind the barrier for a crop of golden hair.

He was gone, as if never there.


Thank you to everyone who voted on their top three favorite quotes! I would not have been able to make a decision without your help.

Without any further ado, the quotes I will be providing Wattpad for my featured spot are…

#5. I owe humanity a debt, for what I am and what I’ve done.

#12. Friends didn’t eat friends, even if they were a little deranged

#17. If this were a fairy tale, I’d be my own damned knight.

As a special thanks, I will be sharing the never-before-posted new first chapter of Paladin on the blog later today.

Your help needed!


Happy Friday, dear readers! Man oh man, what a week it’s been. I survived my first full week at my new job, I discovered my new regular bar (karaoke, check! hot Irish bartenders, check!), I found Nemo…

No, not that Nemo. This Nemo:

Richard Perry/The New York Times

I’m sorry, fellow New Yorkers, I am underwhelmed. There’s barely enough snow for a snowball fight.

But I haven’t sunken so low in my new blogging career (har, career. Like I make money doing this) that I’m going to devote an entire post to the weather, unless we get another Frankenstorm. No, today I need your guys’ help on something.

So most of you probably don’t know that Paladin has been selected to be a “Featured” story on Wattpad. As background for the one person who reads this blog who isn’t from Wattpad and isn’t also my mother, featured stories are hand-selected by the Wattpad editorial staff. According to Wattpad, “To be considered for featured placement, the story must be complete and full-length (30 pages). Other factors taken into consideration: should have a strong and unique plot, no major spelling and grammatical errors, and should be well written.”

I’m pretty excited about it–I know there are readers who only read from the featured list, and in general it’s great visibility since Wattpad promotes featured stories through their various social channels–and I’m rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation of the new readers and reads Paladin will get. Mwahahaha.

Here’s what I need you for, Paladin fansthe powers that be at Wattpad have asked me for two things: 1) a 100-character–yes character, not word–teaser/description of the story and 2) three quotes from the story. I’ll figure out the first part–eventually–but I would love your input on the quotes.

They didn’t give me a specific character limit on the quotes, but they did say they the shorter the better. I’m trying to keep them to under 200 characters, in case Wattpad wants to use them for social media purposes. Which is too bad, because I tend to write in long sentences vs. short ones, which makes finding good quotes tricky!

I’ve pulled, with the assistance of Mommy Slater (my secret editor, consultant and #1 fan), some quotes from the manuscript that I’m thinking about including. Which three of the below do you like best? Remember, I can only give Wattpad three! And if there’s a quote that you like better than these, by all means suggest it!

  1. It’s strange, thinking your life is going to turn out one way, then finding yourself headed in an entirely different direction.
  2. Braeden began contemplating death, and he couldn’t be sure if their demise or his own was preferable.
  3. Braeden dragged his dagger along the length of his forearm, drawing a thin line of blood.
  4. What blood runs through your veins doesn’t matter to me.
  5. I owe humanity a debt, for what I am and what I’ve done.
  6. I don’t feel I should have to ask for permission to follow my heart, though I find myself begging for yours.
  7. Your father slept with women who couldn’t say no to him any more than they could say no to paying their taxes.
  8. Hunger makes thieves out of most men.
  9. His hand twitched at his side, his fingers curling into claws, eager to rip away the flesh that contained his inner monster.
  10. The demons fell on them in droves, colliding with one another for a chance to taste human flesh.
  11. I can handle myself. Go find your own demons to kill.
  12. Friends didn’t eat friends, even if they were a little deranged.
  13. “You should have killed me.” He brushed his thumb against her cheek. “But I’m glad that you didn’t.”
  14. This — thing — between them didn’t smolder; it burned like fallen leaves set aflame.
  15. I would rather bleed until my body is dry and empty than draw a single drop of your blood.
  16. Love is a fickle thing, but fear will never desert you.
  17. If this were a fairy tale, I’d be my own damned knight.
  18. He was beautiful to watch, a whirlwind of man and sword, blood spraying in a never-ending spiral as he moved.

Freakin’ Out


So the title of this blog post is a reflection of what I’m doing right now: I’m freakin’ out. Not in an omg-I-just-effed-up kinda way, but in a holy-!@#$-this-is-awesome kinda way*. It’s an important distinction.

As to the source of my freak out–last night I got home from welcome drinks with my new coworkers (I just started a new job last Wednesday) to a private message in my Wattpad inbox:

Hi Sally, I work for a company that books panelists for the Digital Hollywood conference. Our next one is March 5-6 and we wanted to see if you would be on a panel about modern book publishing and reaching your audience. As you can see we are currently booking the panel (we have a few TBDs to fill....)


It’s probably worth reiterating that when I’m not moonlighting as a wannabe author, I work in public relations. Part of my job is vetting speaking opportunities for my clients, so of course when I receive a speaking opportunity myself the first thing I think to do is vet the event. I conveniently forgot that a) I’m not the CEO of a company and b) I’m not a renowned expert on anything. I don’t need to be vetting opportunities.

But while I was still pretending to be this vastly important person who gets asked to be a guest on panels all the time (I also conveniently forgot that the last time I was asked to be a panelist was, oh, never), I did some research on the Digital Hollywood conference…

Holy shit (shite? should I just make that my permanent staple?). This event is LEGIT.

I was looking through some of the previous guests they’ve had attend this thing, and they’ve had some seriously big names. People like the founder of Wikipedia, the EVP of Sales of Photobucket, the president of Scholastic Media…and you can see the March 5-6 conference’s impressive lineup in this link.

So this leaves me scratching my head. How the heck do I fit into this event? I mean, I know me. I hang out with myself everyday and I can tell you that I’m really very normal (well, normal in the sense that I’m not Mark Zuckerberg. Otherwise I’m arguably very weird). It’s not like you hear the name “Sally Slater” and you’re immediately filled with recognition (although let’s be real, my parents gave me a bad ass name). I feel like I just won the lotto, and you know how those stories always end.

But I’m no dummy–this is a great opportunity and there’s no way I’m passing it up. The conference and the panel itself are sure to be filled with folks in the publishing industry and I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of interesting people. Besides, I’m a total ham: I love talking to people. Stage fright shmage fright. This will be fun.

I did ask the event organizer why he chose little ol’ me to be on this panel, because in all seriousness I’m beyond flattered and am super excited, and I’m also a little shocked. He explained to me that my success on Wattpad with Paladin is an interesting and relevant addition to the conversation on modern book publishing. I can kind of see that–I recently attended a panel on book publishing myself, and while the panelists provided a lot of insight on the differences between traditional and self publishing, writers’ communities like Wattpad, Figment, Authonomy, etc., didn’t come up at all.

And sites like Wattpad are increasingly relevant, I think. According to their blog, Wattpad surpassed 10 million uploaded stories in 2012. I think Amazon Kindle–and don’t quote me on this–only has around 2 million e-books. Although as a caveat to those numbers, not all 10 million (and probably not even half) uploads on Wattpad are completed stories. 

But what does success on Wattpad really mean? I’d like to think that the traction I’ve gotten is a result of Paladin being a good story. Certainly, publishing houses are paying more attention to the website–all of you on Wattpad have probably seen the advertisements for Simon & Schuster’s What the Spell?, which originated as a Wattpad story. Most of the books that do get traditionally published have upwards of 10 million reads (meanwhile I’m stuck around 1.2 million). And I hate to say it, but some of the books that have millions upon millions of reads are not good books. I think Wattpad can be about good stories, but it’s also somewhat of a popularity contest. Which is funny, because I’ve never been the popular kid before. I was always the popular kids’ nerdy friend, or alternatively, the loser. I doubt I’ve changed my stripes.

I’ll have to give some thought over the coming weeks as to what I’m going to talk about on this panel, especially as it relates to publishing. Would you consider having a completed book on Wattpad “being published”? Up until now, I haven’t, but now I’m not so sure.

*I really love portraying swear words as numbers and symbols. I have no objection to using actual swears, but I’m obsessed with !@#$. Well, that and the word “shite”.

Recommended Reads


I am a book addict. There, I said it.

I got in the habit of reading on a daily basis two decades ago. My parents forbade me from watching TV except when I was sick, so books were my refuge. Twenty years later, I live on my own so I can watch TV (woohoo!), but I still read daily. I usually read a book every day. Sleep is sacrificed in the name of getting to the end of a particularly enthralling novel.

So I figure I’ve probably read somewhere around 7,000 books by this point, and of course I don’t remember each and every single one of them. But there are some books that have made me laugh, made me cry, and touched me in ways that have stuck with me beyond a single reading.

I’ll probably do more of these posts as I find new loves, but here are a few of my favorites:

Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness” series (and also her Immortals series) is an all-time favorite, and obviously a huge influence on my own writing. Both “Song of the Lioness” and “Immortals” are set in the medieval-esque world of Tortall and feature strong, believable female heroines with unique gifts. In “Song of the Lioness”, we get to know Alanna, a pert redhead who trades places with her twin brother for a chance at becoming a knight. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the series introduced me to my first love triangle, featuring George, the King of Thieves, and Prince Jonathan of Tortall. It’s funny — when I first read the books, Jonathan was my favorite, but now I find George the far more compelling character.

Dealing with Dragons, and the entire Enchanted Forest chronicles, is an oldie but a goodie. In most fairy tales, the dragon steals away the princess, and then it’s up to some bumbling knight or prince to rescue her. Not so in Dealing with Dragons – Princess Cerise, our heroine, runs away from home and offers herself up to the dragon. Much hilarity and adventures ensue, as well as some romance once you get to the second book in the series. Princess Cerise is a pretty cool princess, and her dragon, Kazul, is even cooler.

Love, love, love this book. Too bad the movie was awful. Ella Enchanted is the best Cinderella retelling out there. At birth, Ella is given the gift of obedience at birth from the fairy Lucille — except the gift turns out to be more of a curse. She has to obey everything — if someone told her to jump off the bridge, she would.

But for the ultimate obedient girl, Ella is pretty feisty, and finds loopholes in her curse. Of course, her life gets complicated when her father remarries, and she’s stuck with an evil stepmama and eviler stepsisters.

And then there’s Char…one of my first literary crushes. Obviously Char is short for Prince Charming, and he is that, but in a totally appealing, non-slimy way. But Ella is really the hero of this tale, and it’s she who always saves the day.

We’re into the world of adult fantasy now. Ilona Andrews — who is actually the duo team of Ilona and her husband — is my current favorite author. It’s very hard for me to talk about Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series without squeeing like a fangirl. 

The story is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic Atlanta. The world alternates between waves of magic and tech – when tech is up, electricity and cars function, and magic loses its potency. When magic is up, anything that requires technology fails, and crazy monsters rise up from out of nowhere. 

There are vampires – but not like any vampires you’ve ever seen before. They don’t sparkle; they’re vile, mindless creatures that are piloted by necromancers known as The People. And there are shapeshifters, too – were animals who can shift between animal and man and somewhere in between.

Kate is a bad ass mercenary fighter who is a lot more bad ass than she lets on — but she has her reasons for hiding the extent of her abilities. She is a funny, sarcastic, and incredibly strong woman who is also somehow vulnerable. I have a total girl crush on her. But my crush on Curran, the Beast Lord (basically the head honcho of the shapeshifters in Atlanta), is much bigger. He’s my #1 book boyfriend.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is a relatively recent discovery. I just had to look at the amazing cover to know that I’d love it.

Ismae is a sister in the convent of St. Mortain, serving the god of Death. She must carry out the will of her god, killing those who bear his mark. In other words, she’s a holy assassin. 

One of her missions takes her to the high court of Brittany, and she finds herself embroiled in court politics that are pretty deadly. Of course, romance unfolds, or I wouldn’t like this book :) 

The ultimate! No recommended reads list would be complete without a mention of Harry Potter. I worship the ground J.K. Rowling walks on (let’s just pretend that adult book she wrote where she described a condom as a gossamer cocoon never happened).

I actually saw her once, right around the time that the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, came out. I was in Edinburgh Castle, in Scotland (which looks a great deal like Hogwarts), looking at all the cool weapons in the armory, when children appeared dressed in wizard’s robes. Yes, wizard’s robes. So I asked the kids, “Where are you going?”
They laughed and replied, “To Hogwarts, of course!”

Yeah. That actually happened. Anyway, turns out they were a group of specially selected kids who got to hang out with J.K. and listen to her read her new book. Super jealous. But I did catch a glimpse of her coming into the castle. 

So that’s all for now! I’ll likely post individual book reviews as I stumble across new goodies (although it’s been a while since I’ve read anything great).

What books stick out in your mind? Got any great recommendations that I absolutely have to check out?

*Here are some other favorites:

  • The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
  • The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
  • Firelight by Kristen Callihan
  • The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye
  • Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  • Polgara the Sorceress by David & Leigh Eddings
  • Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance
  • The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward (guilty pleasure!)
  • Unraveled by Courtney Milan (historical romance)

Bienvenue, Wilkomen!

*Scratches the microphone* Is anybody out there?

So I decided to join the 21st century and start a blog. Let’s face it — if I’m going to claim that I’m a writer, I have to have a blog, right? It’s practically a requirement. Writers, you know, write. All the time. To keep their metaphorical pencils sharp, or something.

I’m actually finding it quite freeing to write in a blog format. I don’t have to spend 30 minutes trying to come up with the perfect word or wondering why the English language doesn’t have a serviceable synonym for “eye”. I think my fifth grade English teacher called this style of writing “stream of consciousness.”

Speaking of English teachers, whenever I look at my completed manuscript for Paladin, I can’t help but think of two college professors who had a very significant impact on my writing “career”, although I doubt they know it.

One professor — who shall remain nameless — taught me creative fiction my junior year of college. Now, mind you, I was a Poly Sci major and just wanted to take the class for fun. I always thought I had a story in me, and here was the perfect chance to find out. Besides, all of my previous teachers had always praised my writing, and I was convinced it would be an easy A.

Wrong. I got the first B I have ever received on a writing assignment — a short story about a good girl named Sam (I really like the name Sam) who goes horribly bad. Now, you might be thinking, You’re whinging about a B? That’s not so bad. In fact, that’s pretty damn good. And had this been a math class, I’d fully agree with you. Heck, I’d be gloating about it. But I’m miserable at math, and writing has always been my thing. How the heck could the professor have given me a B?

So I asked her about it. She said things back to me like, “Uninspired” and “boring”, and finally: “Maybe you should stick to nonfiction.” 

Ouch. That pretty much squelched my dreams of becoming the next J.K. Rowling.

But then I had another professor my senior year, the very talented John Bresland, who taught my Creative Nonfiction class. I wrote an essay for him entitled “Leave it to the Slaters”, which essentially explained why I could never become a writer (you can read it here if you’re curious). In short, I lacked the tortured soul that is requisite of an artist. I should probably also mention that the previous story I submitted for that class was about going to the bathroom. The first line of that piece of brilliance was: “I think it was Aristotle who first said, ‘Girls don’t poop’.”

So after every assignment we completed for that class, we had a one-on-one meeting with the professor to talk about how we can improve our work. And the first thing he asked me was just about the last thing I expected: “What are your plans for the future?”
I just said, “Huh?” It was a sensitive subject; I was a senior in college, after all, and graduation was a couple months away.
“You want to be a writer, right?”
I literally laughed in his face. “Oh no, nothing like that. I’m thinking about going into the health field.”
“Oh”. It was a really surprised oh. Like he couldn’t believe it. And then he said something that I will never forget: “If you don’t have a career that lets you write, you’re going to be miserable for the rest of your life.”

That was a pretty big statement to make, and I took it to heart. My job — public relations — is truly a great career for a writer. I write every day – client emails, pitches, proposals, press releases, and if I’m lucky, I get to ghostwrite an article or speech. But never in a million years did I think I’d write — and complete — a novel. And I honestly don’t think I would have had the courage to try if Professor Bresland  hadn’t said what he said to me.

Whatever may come of Paladin, whether it gets published or just stays on Wattpad, I owe John Bresland thanks. So, thanks, Professor.