Category Archives: Inexplicable positivity

A Thing

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zomg

So my partner in crime and I are busy zooming around the US of A on the ILLUMINAE tour, and in-between meeting awesome people and visiting amazing bookstores and exploring this incredible country, we don’t have much time for bloggery and other sorts of sillybuggery.

BUT, I figure I should take the time to commemorate the fact that ILLUMINAE is, holy fucking shit, #5 on The List this week, and, should I ever be stricken with an attack of utter wankerdom, I can now officially introduce myself as a New York Times Bestselling Author at all the swanky dinner parties I never get invited to.

Because, you know, it’s a Thing.

So, THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this absurd little dream of mine come true. All the bloggers, vloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers, Instagrammers and Tumblrers. All the booksellers and librarians. All the bookstore owners and sales reps. All the publicists and marketing crew, the designers and copy editors, the mail roomers and coffee makers. Everyone who has told a friend about this book, spoken online about this book, recommended this book. YOU made this happen, and both Amie and I owe you the world.

Right. back to the road.

If we’re headed to your town on tour, we’d love to see you!

 

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Launch Day

WE HAVE LIFTOFF BITCHESSo here we are.

Two and a half years is a long time. Two and half years is the blink of an eye.

In February 2013, I said “yes” to an idea I’d never really have considered if left to my own devices – try to write a book with someone else.

It wasn’t the way Things Were Done in my head. The suggestion was scary when I really thought about it, and as with all scary suggestions, my first instinct was to say “no”. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Maybe I had an inkling then of what I know now – that no matter what you create, art or music or film or interpretive mime, you have to challenge yourself as a creator every day. It’s in the scary places you find the cool stuff. It’s in the scary places you have the most fun.

I hope someone asks you a question as scary as the one Amie asked me two and a half years ago. I hope you at least consider saying yes, no matter how scary the thought. And I hope something amazing happens because of it.

Two and a half years of 2am rambles and crazy ideas and coolest creative partnership I’ve ever had. Two years of working with the most awesome crew authors could ask for. Two years of trying to come to grips with the idea that this book, as utterly insane as it was, might actually get put on a bookshelf one day.

And that day is today.

Happy birthday, ILLUMINAE, you insane little bookthing, you. I have no idea how we managed to pull you off, but I’m very glad we did.

Folks, you can find our bookthing here:

Amazon/Barnes&Noble/Indiebound/Powells/Book Depository

Of course, you can also buy it in your local store, and they’d love it if you did!

If you’re in the neighborhood, it’d be awesome to see you on tour.

If you’ve been cheerleading for us, helping to spread the word, blogging, vlogging, tweeting, screaming at random strangers in the street about our book – thank you. Amie and I know who you are. We see what you do. We appreciate your passion and you energy and your time. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. You are 100% awesome. If you see our bookthing out in the wild, say hello for us 🙂

I shall leave you with some choice words from some very cool peeps, some of our favorite lines from the book, and of course, big scary hugs.

marie

laini1 Kami Victoria  veronica scottbethPWkirkusshelf awarenesssherunsdontlookdeathbloomsnutsquarantinekittenslast staraidan


Drive

2015-09-07 15.47.18Inquiry: Who has two thumbs and two boxes full of ILLUMINAE author copies?

Conclusion: This little black duck. That’s who.

It’s a strange thing, to hold two and half years of your life in the palm of your hand. I look down at this thing with my name on the cover, next to the name of one of my dearest friends in the world, and it trips me out. I’ve done this four times now and the dissonance never goes away. Opening a box and finding a Thing you spent years of your life making. It’s like opening a time capsule, maybe. You can’t help but think about who you were when you started making it. How your life has changed.

No book I’ve ever written has changed my life the way ILLUMINAE has.

Amie and I started writing this book for fun. I’m not going to say we had no illusions about it actually getting published, because neither of us are the sort to spend months working on a project that has NO chance of flying. But we knew the odds were long. The ideas we were coming up with were too weird. The alt-format thing would be too scary for a publisher to pick up. But most of all, we kept getting told that “Editors don’t buy sci-fi“.

So we wrote it for fun. Because it was so much fun to write. Every draft we sent back and forth was titled with a pun on the word “ILL”. License to ILL. Scott ILLgrim vs the World. ILL your darlings. No idea was too outlandish. There was no budget, no brief, no constraints. Just pedal to the metal, headlights off, drive motherfucker, drive.

Let’s see where this road takes us.

We wrote it on our lunchbreaks and in stolen minutes on weekends and at 1 and 2am. We wrote it for ourselves, because we thought no house would buy it. We wrote it trying to break the idea of what a book could be. Destroying and creating. Because fuck it, no one will ever see it. And a part of my mind was whispering the whole time “Wouldn’t it be cool if it actually did get made? Because jesus, this feels like it could be awesome” but no, shut up Jay. It’s never gonna get made because “Editors don’t buy sci-fi“.

We sent 130 pages out on submission in late October, 2013. We had four major houses sniffing within a week. By the end of that week, the trilogy had been pre-empted by Random House in a major deal. They pulled their entire crew in over the weekend to get the ducks in a row. Fairy tale stuff. Like winning the lottery. My whole life changed that weekend. I think I slept about three hours total.

So many people worked so hard on this book. So many hours, so much faith and sweat invested in this thing we wrote in stolen minutes thinking no-one would ever read it, headlights off, drive, motherfucker, drive. We’ve been so incredibly lucky to land with an editor and house that believes in us so whole-heartedly. Hundreds, thousands of hours work. Everyone firing on all cylinders. Bringing their A-game, nose to the stone, balls to the wall. All of it just amazing fun. I remember working on artwork with our designer as my wife and I booted around Europe on our 10th wedding anniversary trip. Sitting on a boat watching the Mediterranean ocean float past, trying to figure out the best way to make our readers turn the book 360 degrees during a space dogfight sequence, or illustrating a nuclear explosion at an atomic level, all the while thinking “Fuck, how did this become my life?“.

How did this become my life?

Because this is two and half years of it, sitting here in the palm of my hand. This book my friend and I wrote, because we chose not to listen to the people who told us we shouldn’t. And I’m so fucking proud of it. It’s like no book I’ve ever read. We’ve done things in these pages nobody’s ever done. Because we wrote it like no one was watching. Because “Editors don’t buy sci-fi“.

Until they do.

This life is full of people who will tell you can’t. That you won’t. That you shouldn’t even try. Doubt it not, my friends, these people are your enemies. They are the death of your hope and creativity. They are walking misery, seeking your company. Don’t spare them a second, or a breath. Leave them to their “can’t'” and “won’t'” and “shouldn’t'”. Leave them choking in your dust. Standing still as you speed at your horizon.

Pedal to the metal.

Headlights off.

Just drive, motherfucker.

Drive.


Sydney/Perth Supanova

dooom

Psst. Altaire. Turn around, dude.

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I have returned from the goliath of nerdfests that is Supanova with hide intact, and only a mild case of con-flu. Gather ye ’round children, and I shall speak of my first tiny steps into the kinda awesome, kinda scary world of “fandom’.

Until Manifest last year, I’d never actually been to a con on this scale – local SF/F shindigs do not have the gravitas that walking into a room full of 20,000 nerds does. I had only the vaguest ideas these things existed, having cut my nerd teeth in a time before cons ever came to the tiny crust of concrete on the Indian ocean I was spawned in. I’m amazed at the size of these things, and the energy and creativity and passion on display. I recall the tiny basement in which I used to buy my copies of Dungeons and Dragons rulesbooks and the mouth-breathing neckbeards that used to dwell therein, and look around a place like Supanova and think “Truly friends, tis a fine time to be a nerd.”

I attended Melbourne and Goldcoast Supanova earlier in the year as a guest of Dymocks, but Perth was the first time I’d actually be a guest of the SHOW, with my name on the website all fancy and shit. They gave me a VIP badge with magical powerz -I could flash it at (awesome) Supanova staffers to grant me access to the free hooch at the Saturday night cocktail party and ingress to the mythical “Green Roooooooom” in which Very Important People (and me) would gather when they weren’t signing cleavage and doings rails of blow and whatever else famous people do (I saw no cleavage signed, and no blow blown in all my time at Supanova, I just presume this sort of debauchery goes on when I’m not around, mostly because I always presume people are having metric fucktonnes of fun when I’m out of the room). It was kinda awesome. And it turned me into something of a gibbering fanboy.

First fanboy moment was on Friday night, when I was gathered in the lobby with the exceptionally swish Kylie Chan and Trudi Canavan, who were singularly cool to my n00b ass all weekend. We were just chatting and this older American gent came up and joined in and I’m all “daaaaaamn, this guy looks familiar…” 

“Hey, I’m Jay,” I say, extending my hand.

“Hi, I’m Chris,” he says, shaking my paw.

“Not . . . ” blink, blink “. . . not Chris CLAREMONT?”

“Yeah,” he says.

“OMFGORGP)WI$HT)(W$G)INSRIPNEBGFHBAL A:EGH{IR]mpdv….” I say.

See, Chris Claremont wrote the first comic book I ever bought (Uncanny X-Men 251). He wrote X-Men for 17 years. He wrote the “Days of Future Past” series the new X-films are going to be based on. He wrote the Wolverine limited series the new Wolvie film is based on. He’s the REASON you know the name X-Men. The dude is a legend, and for a comic nerd like me, getting to meet him was seventeen boner city. (I did not pop seventeen boners, this is anatomically unpossible). I have his entire run of X-Men comics at home. Guess how many I remembered to bring for him to sign?

. . . Yeah. 😦

Then, we split on the bus to the show for the VIP meet and greet. I had nfi what I was doing, I just followed the crowd and tried to hide behind other more famous people, but I was the tallest person in the fucking room, so no dice. Up in the Green Rooooom, I tried for a little while to find out where all the blow was hidden, but everyone looked at me strangely so I gave up. Instead, I contented myself with saying “hello, I really like your books” to Raymond motherfucking Feist. Raymond was quite indulging of my fangirl antics, and even signed my 20 year old copy of Magician before excusing himself to wipe my dribble off. We got to chat a few times over the weekend – the guy is a straight up scholar and gentleman.

Chris & Ray & Jay

Chris & Ray & Jay

I hung out a little bit with the Weasley Twins. They have brown hair IRL, which just threw me.

weasley

Brown hair. Heartbreaking.

We then got asked up on stage in front of hundreds of people, and asked a couple of questions about who we were. I was just waiting for someone in the audience to stand up and point out my n00b ass most certainly did not belong there, but instead, I was made to feel wonderfully welcome, which was super cool. Then it was off to the bus and bed.

Saturday began with muffins in the green room and introductions to Karl Urban, who just looks furious all the fucking time – he eats his snacks like he wants to kill them. Then it was off to panels and signings and all that jazz. I made a rookie mistake at my first panel – sat at the end of the row instead of in the middle, and sure enough, the first question at my first SN panel and who does the MC ask to answer first? So yeah – sit in the middle people, this is my advice to thee.

Alan just told a hilarious joke. Karl is smiling REALLY hard

Alan just told a hilarious joke. This is Karl looking amused

Saturday night was free hooch night. I met Carrie Fisher. She was nice. I also met the Hoff again. When there is free hooch, the Irishman in me comes out to play, and I tend to hang off the bar like some 6’7 limpet, but sadly, the other authors were responsible types and left at a responsible time, so we never quite reached the critical mass of hard liquor required for me to start breakdancing (I did show Chris Claremont my “robot” – he nodded politely and swiftly excused himself). We did get this group photo, which is my favorite of the weekend (me, Kylie Chan, Trudi Canavan and Jana Oliver). I am on my knees here. Yes. I am that fucking tall.

party

Kylie Chan may be short, but I still wouldn’t mess with her.

Sunday morning began with me asking Alan Tudyk to sign my dinosaur (this is not a euphemism) but my dinosaur was too small (NOT A EUPHEMISM) so the sig is all blurry and stuff. Still, Alan fucking Tudyk signed my dinosaur. You can see it below. The silver smudge is his sig. I know it looks like a silver smudge but HONEST.

2013-07-16 20.43.54

Smudgy sig 😦

I sold a lot of books. Like, a LOT of books. I wish I had’ve taken a photo of the mountain of books waiting for me at the White Dwarf (our awesome hosts) stand Saturday morning, but I was too busy thinking “that is a metric fucktonne of books, there is no WAY I’m going to sell all those” and trying not to hyperventilate. I dunno what it was about Perth – maybe the homeground advantage thing – but we plowed through them all. Which was AWESOME, and combined with the phenomenal amount of Red Bull I drank over the weekend, sent me into some kind of dizzying high in which I started hugging people when it was time to leave. Traditionally, I’m not very huggy. I was absent the day they handed out the hugging gene.

A surprising number of people knew who I was. I had peeps bring me US edition hardbacks to sign (a sign of the truly hardcore devotee). My KINSLAYER ARCs disappeared in a blink. I had one girl tell me SD was the best book she’d ever read. And I dunno if that’s just con talk or whatever, but it still felt awesome. People – whatever you’re a fan of, whatever you’re into, if you’re ever given the opportunity to speak to the creator of it, please do it. There’s is no cooler feeling in the world than learning another human being liked your stuff. It’s honestly food for the artist’s soul – we will love you for it. So to everyone who came out to say “hey”, THANK YOU.

Awesome folks and an awesome time. Can’t wait for SN in Brisbane and Adelaide. Check below or on my FB page for the highlight reel.

so many

So many jokes you could make here . . .

loki

Black widow hates Loki’s nipples. Apparently.

yep

Best. EVER.

dalek

Dalek infiltrator in the hizzzouse

itsameee

It’s a meeeeeeee

not the blade

NOT BY THE BLADE OH GOOOOOODDDDDDD


After the Prom

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I’m still in the edit cave on Stormdancer 2 atm, but it’s been weeks since I posted anything bloggish, and up with this slackness I will not put.

So. I’m going to tell you a secret today, my friends, which for some reason is often spoken about in author circles but seldom mentioned publicly. Maybe because everyone who gets published feels lucky as this penguin to be here, and nobody wants to be seen talking about anything that could be perceived as less than awesome stuff. But fuck that noise. We (in the royal sense) are nothing if not Real® here. Gather ye ‘round and lend me thine ears.

Launching a book is a lot like getting high.

Sherlockians among you may deduce from this statement that I have, at some point in my life, been under the effects of consciousness-evolving substances. While I’ve not done anything as flaky as necking a bottle of cobra juice, yes, I did once spend nearly two hours in a 7-11 telepathically communing with the hot dog machine (he was a nice chap). Admitting this fact probably drastically limits my chances of ever being elected PM of my country, but when I take this joint, it’ll be at the controls of a 70 foot tall death-spewing robot dinosaur with flames painted up the sides, not a poll booth. Consider yourselves all on notice, bitches.

But yes, launching a book is kinda like being on drugs. It starts with an initial spike of excitement, a rush in that moment when you realize this is actually happening –  that this Book Thing you’ve been sweatshopping on like some pantsless organ grinder monkey for the past two years is actually going to hit shelves soon. It will be real. People will be able to pick it up and read it and love it and holy shiiiiiit that’s more exciting than being Kate Beckinsale’s thong.

Then, if you’ve done your PR right, or if you’re lucky enough to have a PR crew working for you, awesome will be raining from the sky like all the confetti I threw when I discovered JJ Abrams would not be fucking up the new Star Wars film. You’ll have about a thousand interviews to do – radio shows, and podcasts and blogs and vlogs and guest appearances at hoedowns and baptisms. Your days will filled to the tonsils with it – every waking minute will be spent in the company of people who want to know all about you and this Book Thing you did. You’ll take photos with babies and make ringing endorsements of battery operated marital aids. Your book launch will be this huge party with signings and all your friends and All The Booze and yes Damien, it’s all for youuuuu. The President of the United States will be photographed reading your book, people you haven’t heard from in years will call you up and be all like “duuuuuuuuuuude, you wrote a booooooook, I’ve got this awesome bottle of cobra juice, you wanna come over and drink some” and your parents will finally admit that yes, you are their favorite and your other siblings a mere shadows in the cornea-frying light of your awesome.

It’s exhausting and intoxicating and relentless.

And then? It all kinda… stops.

The awesome still happens, of course. It’s not like you’ve pulled a Carrie White, all glittery and prom-queeny for a brief shining moment of pure happy and then OH MY GOD THE PIG’S BLOOD. If you’re lucky, you get folks mailing you stuff and making you stuff. You get strangers from countries you’ve never visited taking the time to tell you your book made them cry or that it was their favorite read of the year and that’s all still 100% Kate Beckinsale Thong territory, no mistake. But the intensity – that all-consuming, hundred-mile-an-hour high of the month before your launch isn’t there anymore. The bloggers who wanted to know all about you are now finding all about the next author. Your PR crew are working with the next gal/guy. Your book is OUT, and folks can go buy it. Much of the attention that was focused on you is now elsewhere. Things are quieter. You need to sleep. Your skin is itchy. You wonder if you really did stand on a table at your launch and proclaim yourself The Second Coming of Christ, or if you just imagined it. And did you have a two hour conversation with a hot dog machine?

You know this feeling. You’ve felt it before.

You. Are. Coming. Down.

This happens to everyone – like a Tom Baker vs David Tennant debate when more than four geeks find themselves in close proximity (Tennant, lol), it’s unavoidable. I’ve noticed a lot of folks in my 2012 debut author group are talking about the comedown recently. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it simply is. With luck, you’ll have plenty to occupy yourself in the post launch hangover (recuperating from the bar-tab tally induced cardiac arrest, apologizing to all the religious groups you offended during your messianic fit, or hey… writing your next book). But at the very least, as I told a few of my author buddies, you have the following knowledge to stave off the post-high crash:

You wrote a book. Not only that, but in a post-Amazon world of Penguin Houses and Schuster-Collins you got it published. You took an idea and a blank page and you made something you can hold in your hand, something that people can read and absorb and love. No matter what else this ride might throw at you, you did that.

And THAT, my friend, is pretty fucking cool.

The Comedown is natural. The Comedown is necessary. But when the Comedown passes – as it inevitably will – the book you made will remain. So cheer up. Your life is kinda awesome.

Righto, that’s it. Back to the edit cave.


3… 2… 1… LAUNCH

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Alright, this will probably be an epic length post, apologies in advance.

STORMDANCER has now officially launched in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia! Release was staggered over two weeks, which is why I’ve held off blogging for a while. That and the fact that I’ve been doing all kinds of cool stuff in other people’s houses (guest blogging and interviews, mind out of the gutter peoples).

I started writing this book in January 2010. Nearly two years of my life has gone into it, so it’s kinda incredible to think of it actually on shelves and in stranger’s hands now. I have to confess it still feel a little surreal – walking into a book store and seeing it out there next to Stephen King (!!!). So I want to officially thanks everyone, EVERYONE who’s helped promote the book – writing reviews or telling your friends or making art or whatever you’ve done. You are amazing and awesome and have helped make this experience absolutely unforgettable. Much love.

So we did a launch party at the Melbourne Dymocks store. Folks traveled from all over the country to be there, which was incredible. The whole night is something of a blur, and foolishly, we didn’t set anyone up on official cameraman duty, so we had to rely on other people to get shots of the night (thank you, thank you). I don’t remember much of it – not, as you might expect, due to hideous over consumption of alcohol, but more through an overabundance of adrenaline. There’s a really awesome photo montage/video compilation of the night here (many thanks to Braidos for putting it together) including my speech –  despite my nerves I didn’t fuck it up too badly, so that’s all good. There’s also some shots below. A special shout-out must go to my boys B-Money for sporting his awesome STORMDANCER T-shirt, and the Glouftiiiiiis, for being a man of his word and wearing the book on a gold chain around his neck for the entire night.

Other news:

Signed Bookmarks

The STORMDANCER book trailer has had 3k hits in two weeks, which was pretty amazing. I didn’t quite expect the amount of pimpage that I got, but it was well over a hundred pimps SO I need to figure out a way to give out these signed bookmarks.

SO, if you pimped the trailer on twitter or facebook shoot me an email at

stormdancergiveaway@gmail.com

Please note: you MUST include a physical mailing address to which I can post the bookmark!

I’ll collect emails until the 30th of September, which is a little under two weeks. I’m not going to make you go to the trouble of proving you pimped – if you want a free bookmark, I guess now is your chance 😛

Once the 30th rolls by, I’ll use a random number generator to pick the hundred winners. Apologies if sending a mail is a hassle, but my twitter feed has been bombarded with pimpage for various STORMDANCER giveaways and it’s impossible to keep track of everything.

So shoot me a mail with your addy, and pray to the Random Number Generator Gods.

I think that’s all for today. If you’re planning on heading out to a store to buy STORMDANCER, thanks very much. If you feel like taking a pic of the book on shelves and hitting me up with it on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll be eternally grateful.

Thanks all!


Inexplicable Positivity

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I’m going to do something a little different today and be positive. I know I’m all about the swearing and the pee-pee jokes and the corruption of the youth, all bringing about the end of days and the rise of the Anti-Oprah and whatnot. But this is my blog, and if I want to give the fetid puddle of afterbirth that is the internet a LITTLE hug now and then,  you can’t stop me goddammit.

As an aside, the rainbow-farty thing pictured above is supposed to be a unicorn. I typed “unicorn” and “rainbow” into google, and he popped up. I know he has no horn, but he’s probably already cripplingly self-conscious about it, so if you could refrain from calling attention to his deformity, that’d be aces.

So a few years ago, my life took something of a falcon punch to the baby-maker. I was cruising along pretty comfortably, my bride and I had bought a house, life was pretty good. And then I got retrenched from my job.

Now, let me tell you about this gig. I worked in an advertising agency, part of a huge, lumbering global network with multinational clients. When you’re a “creative” in an advertising agency, your life is a strange one. You’re given an extraordinary amount of illusory freedom. Not many people get to work a job where they’re allowed to wear jeans and a Decepticons t-shirt, pull down a lawyer’s salary and disappear to the pub for hours at a time in the name of “research”. But the price you pay for that “freedom” is a steep one.

I worked nights (sometimes all night). I worked weekends. I worked in a place where my ideas were literally for sale – people would come to the agency and slap a bunch of money down and tell us “Sell our widget – it has new doodads!”. All the energy you pour into your creations is at risk of falling victim to agency politics, or a bad meeting, or a client’s wife getting pissy because he didn’t buy her a BMW for her birthday this year. You are, in a very real way, a prostitute. But you’re not selling your lovemeats, you’re selling your ideas. Your energy. Your creativity. And the worst part? It’s to make people buy toilet paper. Or some obscene petrol-guzzling monstrosity. Or a particular brand of shoes. You’re not curing cancer or making the world a more awesome place to be, you’re trying to convince people to buy shit they don’t need with money they don’t have.

I did not like this job. In truth, I hated it so much it was turning me black inside. But those dollars, yo. That wonderful green and all the “freedom” it brings. Keeps you coming back, long after the love has died.

And then I got retrenched. It felt like a disaster. You can’t help but feel slighted in these situations. You can’t help but feel worthless. Even though I hated that job, the actual walk to the chopping block was hellish. But the strangest thing happened during the execution. As he was handing me my severance letter, the Person Formerly Known as My Boss said “Is there anything else you want to ask me for? Do you want to keep your computer maybe?”

And that was a strange question. He asked it in an odd way, and it’s stuck in my mind ever since – I can still see his expression as he spoke those words. And, dazed as I was, I had the presence of mind to agree, sure, I’ll keep my laptop, thanks fucker. And the strangest thing? That’s the exact same laptop I wrote my first novel on. It’s the laptop I received my first full request on. It’s the same laptop I wrote STORMDANCER on, after my first novel never got repped. It’s the same laptop I read my MacMillan contract on, I wrote my sequels on, that I talk to my editors and agent on. It’s the laptop I’m typing this post on, right now, as the clock ticks down to STORMDANCER’s release day and I’m busy writing book 3 of my first trilogy.

I’m not one who really believes in fate, but it’s funny how that day, that crushing moment of despair as I got handed my papers took my life in a direction I would never have expected, and has left me in a place cooler than I’ve ever been. How the machine upon which I used to pen scripts to hock breakfast condiments is now the same machine I write fucking NOVELS on – novels that the entire world will soon have the opportunity to read.

Life is a trip. Seriously.

So basically, what I’m saying is that awesome things can be born out of the suckiest situation. Unless the world is actually ending (it’s 2012, after all), whatever shit you’re going through isn’t the end of the world. Adversity makes you stronger, this thing we call life is just straight-up bizarre, and the hole you’re falling into could actually be a doorway to someplace fucking amazing. So hold tight and enjoy the ride. And remember that it is a ride.

Much love, peoples.