Thursday, August 7, 2014

Is This Thing On?

Long boring story short:

Let's travel back in time. 
Allllll the way to February.
A time when I was young and naive and full of vinegar.
Or was I just bitter? 

Ang: Dearest MoveFather*, 
Why do you want me to pay three times the monies to host my website?
MoveFather: Because.
Ang: Then I shall leave you and go elsewhere!!!
What do you think about THAT?!
Ang: Dear aSheet*, I hear tell you are amazing.
Are you compatible with Blogger?
aSheet: YES!
Ang: YES!
Sign. Me. Up.
Why my site no work?
aSheet: Hmmm... 
Don't know.
Ang: How do we fix it?
aSheet: Try these things?
Ang: Things did not work.
aSheet: Interesting.
How about these things?
Ang: Still nothing.
aSheet: *insert elevator music*
Ang: Hello? Help?
aSheet: Hello.
Who are you?
Oh yeah.
Um... things?
Ang: Do you even care?

Annnnnd scene.
There ya have it, folks.
Roughly six months later, 
the problem remains and
I'm moving on.

For now, I'll be using my good ole Blogger address.
I'm going back to my roots.
Sort. Of. Perfect.

As the queen of typos, awkward sign-offs, pointless posts,
and logic that don't never make no sense, 
let's close this out with a song, shall we?!
See y'all on the flip-side!

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
**It's possible I've watched this video on repeat for hours at a time. This is a thing that might be happening right now. I regret nothing.
***I know it's vigor. Not vinegar. I'm funny. And clever. Ya dig? Or is it vinegar? Hm... Did I mention I'm clever?
bestie note: you're too nice. i wouldn't change their names cause they're stupid. ::coughiPagecoughGoDaddycough::

Monday, February 24, 2014

If J.K. Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Keep Doing It

This morning, I read an article. To say the article offended me is putting it lightly. It not only targeted me as a reader, writer, and parent, but embarrassed me as a professional. It is Ms. Shepherd's right to express her opinion and I respect that right. If she wanted to garner herself attention, she has done it. If she wanted to create a stir, she has succeed. Yet, a byproduct of this article is she has successfully dug a deeper hole for all us "desperate" writers she claims to care about.

I am nothing when compared to Ms. Shepherd. I am an untested writer. I am a Community College graduate with a two year degree in Creative Writing. I cannot boast that I'm a writer for a big name publication or add copyeditor to my byline. In fact, it's more than likely there will be a typo in this post. Furthermore, not only do I read young adult novels, but I'm a huge fan of the middle grade genre and I obsessively read comic books. Added to that, I write YA contemporary coming of age romance. You know, the genre even self-respecting young adult fans find too fluffy.

However, maybe these credentials make me better qualified to speak to the issues Ms. Shepherd raises in her article. Maybe as a nobody, who can't even imagine the joys of selling a mere 1,500 books let alone getting an agent to consider representing me, I have the right to raise my hand and humbly say, I completely and respectfully disagree. 

Here's why:

1. Nobody has the right to dictate what I can and cannot read.
For me, this is a no-brainer. Yet, time and time again, I've been told I should not read a novel because I'm an adult. I don't judge others for their reading habits. I read for enjoyment, not to impress others, not to show off how smart or well read I am. I read because I love to read. Anyone who has a problem with that, anyone who wants to judge me for that needs to evaluate why they feel so threatened by someone else's reading habits. 

2. I am not threatened by J.K. Rowling.
She is a person who wrote a series I heartily enjoyed. With all her money, with all her fame, I do not envy her. And I do not wish her to stop writing so I can get in on her action. In fact, I hope she continues to write. Her personal story is inspirational. Her generosity toward the community and her fans is noteworthy. I respect her as a fellow human being and wish her well. 

3. If I could, I'd buy all the books in the world.
The main point in the article seems to be: Go back to your Potter fiction, Ms. Rowling, so us real fiction writers can sell some books. 

To this I say, huh? 

As an avid reader, who boasts a reading habit of no less than a hundred books a year, there has never been a moment when I've thought:

"Whelp, I'm booked out. No more book shopping for me!" 

In fact, normally I'll like an author, read all their books obsessively then seek out other books that are similar in nature. It's like a downward spiral into madness that bleeds my pockets dry and leaves me rocking in a corner, surrounded by books, while begging for mercy. 

Why bemoan that a popular, well-loved, respected author has decided to give your specific genre a whirl when you could embrace her in your community? 

4. I'm not writing to be famous and neither should you.
Call me naive. I. Don't. Care. If you are writing to be famous, if you're treating this like some sort of race, then you will end up writing bitter articles that not only alienate and offend readers, but pigeonhole you as a whiner who is jealous of those more successful than yourself. It works the same way when popular authors target untested writers as unimportant and make jokes about them on social media. Or published authors mock self-published authors and call them fake. Or, on the other hand, when self-published authors call agented authors sellouts. Or worse, when unpublished/un-agented writers send nasty tweets to authors. It's all disgusting. It all smacks of jealousy and discord. 

5. This is not a race. It's writing.
And there it is, the simplest truth of all. So, I'm going to say it one more time in bold:

This is not a race. It's writing. 

I'm going to be frank, when I started out two years ago as an innocent long time lover of books with a freshly minted associates in Creative Writing and a newly finished manuscript in my hot little hands, the cattiness within the writing community made me sick.

I've been a reader since I was a kid. Before Twitter and GoodReads and Facebook and widespread author signings and BEA and book blogs, I was in awe of writers. I wanted to be one. I wanted to connect with readers. I wanted to share in the conversation. I wanted to be apart of that magical world in which words were used to express a person's heart and soul. I never thought to hate a writer. I never thought to envy another person's words. 

It wasn't until I step out of my bubble that I realized there were some writers who felt this was a race. Writer who perceived the successes of others as a hinderance to their own career. Writers who only wrote to be famous. Writers who laughed and mocked others. Writers who felt better than their fellow writers. 

And there was a moment when I asked myself, do I really want to be apart of this? Do I really want to be apart of someone else's pointless race?

And that's when I decided not to play the game. That's when I decided to rejoice in the successes of others, embrace my journey as my own, and not be afraid of failure. But most importantly, to never compare myself to others.

See, when we point fingers, when we play the "I'm better than you card," we hurt our community. We alienate our readers. And we all become laughingstocks. 

Here's my plead to Ms. Shepherd:

I understand you believe you are helping all us little guys. I know you feel justified in asking a millionaire to step aside and stop hogging the limelight. I get that you feel adults who read young adult and middle grade novels aren't stimulating their mind and, by extension, are possibly dumber than adults who read more (in your opinion) challenging books. But what I don't think you understand is you don't have the right to judge me as a person based on what I read. You don't have the right to assume you know what's best for writers in general. You don't have the right to ask a writer, no matter how terrible you perceive their book to be, to step aside. And you should listen to your friends when they say, "that is a terrible idea." Because, as good as it feels to stick it to the man, you'll always end up with sour grapes all over your face. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Know Thyself

Listen. I'm not going to tell you how to write. There is plenty of amazing (and not so amazing) advice floating around the internet. Lots of fish in the preverbal sea handing out helpful tips and sage guidance on the do's and don'ts of writing.

If I was to give writerly tips, they would be:
a. Metaphors are seductive. Learn how to say no to them.
b. Look up the definitions of mumble and mutter.
c. For the love of God, use ... sparingly.
d. Readers are your friends. Listen to them.
c. Never take writing advice from me.

What I do have in my back pocket to share is a little word to the wise. Advice that just might help you leapfrog years upon years of grueling indecisiveness as a writer. Hell, possibly as a person. 

What's this wellspring of knowledge I'm bringing to the party?

Here it comes. 
It's a doozy. 
You ready for it?
I could stop right here because y'all are like,
Yep, totally get it, Ang.
Know thyself.
I'll get on it right about now-ish.

The real question is:

Why bring up something so simple, something so cliche it's on every Hallmark card from here to Timbuktu (and I would know because I'm an ex-Hallmark employee)?

As simple as this may seem, as ridiculous as it might feel to bring it up, until a few months ago, I did not know myself as a writer. I didn't really know what it was I wanted out of this crazy joyride. I did not know what my expectations were or even my goals. I sort of adopted the status quo's mantra and got caught up in the whirlwind of social media.

It wasn't until I woke up from a serious bout of depression that I started asking myself what the hell I was even doing. This question helped me realize some important facts about myself.

1. I work at a slower pace than most writers.

Why? Well, it could be due to the five year old who, at this exact moment, is examining my ear for Purple Cauliflower People who are trying to eat my brain. Or maybe it's because I'm slightly OCD. And while I write at a neck breaking speed when inspiration smacks me in the face, for the most part, I'm slowly going the way of the buffalo. And you know what? That's okay. This isn't a race. It's writing. Oddly enough, there is a difference.

2. I really don't want to be popular.

Hey. I saw that eye roll. I know what you're thinking, everyone says that. But, I swear, it's the truth. The thought of doing an author signing gives me the heebie-jeebies. The whole time I would be wondering a. why people would want me to deface their books and b. which of these crazy bastards is going to eat my soul. Ladies and gents, I like my house. It's safe. It's climate controlled. And I can wear my pajama pants all day long without being judged. Why would I want to leave it?

3. I want to be patient as I seek publication.

I'm not just looking to be published. I'm not just looking for a quick ride to fame and fortune. I'm one of those ridiculous people who has something to say and wants to share it because they are oh. so. important. and everyone needs to listen to them. I'm a reader. I love books. I love connecting with characters. As a writer, I want to connect with my readers through my characters and make them cry and laugh and swoon. That is more important to me than money or fame or people wanting to rush off to see a movie based on my book. And OhMyGOSH, please understand, there is nothing wrong with fame and money and books to movies. I fully support it on a daily basis as I fangirl like a freak, throwing my money away on books and swag and midnight showings. I just don't care if it happens to me. Would I turn my nose at money and fame and all the jazz? I don't know. But I highly doubt I'll ever be faced with the decision so why focus on something that truly isn't important to me? Which leads to--

4. I'm not interested in money or popularity or fame and I've got plenty of time to strengthen my skillz of a writer, so why am I freaking out so much?

5. I just want to write a book worth publishing.

Plain and simple. If that's my goal, why worry about when it happens and instead work toward making it happen.

And just like that, I know myself.
I know who I am.
What I'm working toward.
I can throw out all the unnecessary pressure I've placed on myself.
I can focus on improving as a writer,
while taking steps toward publication at my own pace.
I can be happy for those around me who are finding success
and find hope and joy in their milestones verses stress and envy.
I realize this is not a race or a contest.
This is my job.

As a writer, I am guilty of looking to others to set my pace and goals. As a writer, I am guilty of feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to race toward a finish line I can't even see. As a writer, I have not taken the time to establish my own personal goals. As a writer, I have not known myself and this has hurt me. 

Know yourself, my friends. If you want to be a popular author who makes the big bucks, know that, embrace that, and tailor your goals to fit that desire accordingly. If you want to see your name on a book cover at all cost, know that about yourself and make it happen. Don't feel bad or shy or fearful or envious. Be honest. Be frank. Be fearless. 

In the words of Buddha:
The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.
Be true to yourself, my friends. Trust me on this. Life is too short to be dishonest with yourself.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Ang Reads: The January Edition

January is over, folks.
Just. Like. That.
Every year, I attempt to write an end of the year bookish review.
Yet, every December, I can't remember what the heck I even read.
Too many books.
Not enough brain cells.
Thus, THE PLAN was formed.
(But really, what's life without PLANS.)
Each month I'll post what I've read.
Tell you what I loved the most.
And by the end of the year,
 I *might* actually be able
to pick a favorite.
Ideals of grandeur?
Ain't no doubt,
but let's roll with it.
Without further ado, I give you, my January reads.
(a * denotes it's a reread)
6. The Fault in Our Stars
(click here for a review)

Ain't they purdy?

Since you're forcing me to play favorites,
I'd have to pick:
 Oh. My. Gosh.
But really.
This book had me rolling on the floor
and swooning left and right
and overall I LOVED this book.
If you like yourself some chick lit,
don't walk, RUN to the store,
and pick up this wonderment.
You shall not regret this choice.
Pinky promise.

IF, however, chick lit ain't your thang then
*maybe* you're looking for a supernatural
adventure story with a creepy twist!
If so, look no further than:
Hollow City is the sequel to
Miss. Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.
I adored the first book.
In fact, back in 2011,
 I wrote the epic fangirl of fangirling reviews.
Let me put this out there,
I'm a standalone kind of gal.
I'm not very patient with on going series
that take five billion years to read.
Normally, it's tough to sell me on the positives of a second book.
I get ragey & cranky & start screaming
about the integrity of the story &
will they please stop trying to bleed me of all my money
& blah blah blah blah... boooooring.
Having said that,
Hollow City is not only an amazing book
but it is BETTER THAN it's predecessor in all aspect.
And it's got me so excited about the third book
I want to stab myself in the eyeball.

on that note,
ENOUGH about me.

What have you read so far this year?
And recommendations?
Did you read any of these books?
You know you wanna.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Of Wannabes & Real Deals

I'm a writer; I'm tired of defending this simple fact to myself and to others. I'm tired of tweets and blog posts and snark about how there are so-called legitimate writers and then the rest of us poor schmucks who aren't worthy of the title. I'm tired of clamming up every single time someone asks me what I do. The instant, overwhelming shame I feel as I choke on three seemingly simple words: I'm a writer.

To answer a few of your implied questions:

I do not have a swanky office.
I do not have an agent.
I do not have a degree from a prestigious college.
I do not get paid to write in any capacity.

Yet, still, I am a writer.

A writer isn't defined by money or deals or popularity. When you look up writer in the dictionary, it doesn't say a person whose written words are published. A writer is defined simply as one who writes.

I don't have to write in a fancy office or have an agent or be rich and popular to be a writer. I simply have to write. And, to boil it down even further, I don't even have to be good at writing.

My favorite definition goes a little something like: a writer is a person who writes.

It doesn't even say a person qualified to write or a person who went to a fancy college and got a degree that says they are allowed to write. It says a person who writes. Period.

There are no wannabe writers. You either write or you don't. Just like there are no wannabe singers or doctors or mechanics. You either do these things or you don't.

There are good writers and terrible writers and okay writers. There are writers who work tirelessly to hone their craft and others who don't. There are writers seeking publication and writers on the best sellers list and even more with secret novels hidden in their closet. We come in all shapes and sizes. Some writers make money and some garner fame and some carry on writing without any accolades.

Thus, a writer is a person who writes. A person with a passion for words and a desire to put them down on paper. It's the act of creating a story, building a world, immersing oneself in a reality that belongs to no one else but you.

Maybe, if we all stopped trying to define writers by money and fame and book deals, we could weed out a little of the jealousy and hate being flung around between wannabes and the real deals and get down to being a community of people who geek out over things made of words.

For those who feel I'm being obtuse, that I'm oversimplifying what a writer is, understand I do know the difference between an author (a writer with published works) and a writer (a person who writes). By definition these are two vastly different terms. One, I claim to be. One, I aspire to be.

Maybe the real issue is we all need to pull out our dictionaries and understand the subtle differences between these two words.

Better yet, maybe we all need to get over ourselves and realize no matter what stage of the game we happen to be in writing is hard, yo.

From fanfic to blogging, from published to self-published, and all those on the sidelines with big dreams, we writers are all just writers. For good or for bad, we've got to deal with this fact, show each other a little more grace and respect, and get on with writing and reading and dreaming.

It's for the greater good. I promise.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars: A Review (of sorts)


Danger, Will Robinson!
This review (of sorts) is a rambling, depressing mess.
You. Have. Been. Warned.

link to GoodReads here

Sometimes I feel like a broken record when talking about my dad and his so-called battle with cancer. Most of the time, I feel like I'm stuck in this awkward silence wanting (yet not wanting) to share and having no clue how to begin.

Let's be frank, sharing with the internet your pain and suffering can come off as either a. look at me look at me, b. *emo in the corner,* or c. flippant, at best. Furthermore Susan, nobody really wants to hear about it. If they do, it's sorta okay to talk about it a little, but not too much. The line is extremely fine.

Yet, when you drop off the social media grid without preamble, how do you explain your sudden come back without mentioning the dreaded: Yeah, so, my dad died of cancer, and no, I don't want your pity, I just want to talk about it, cause it's sort of a big deal to me?

My struggles over the last two years with reading and writing and social media-ing have been directly related to the sudden loss of my father.

And somehow, the book The Fault in Our Stars got mixed up in my grieving process.

See, I'm a huge John Green fan. His writing is pristine. His sense of humor slays me. And when I read his books, I think "good Lord, I'd love to write a story even a tenth as good as this book." Needless to say that early in 2012, pre-ordering this book was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, it arrived on our doorstep the same day I got news my dad had a mass in his bladder and the doctor was saying it could be cancer. Not soon after, we had confirmation. Before we knew what was happening, he was in the ICU and we were learning his body was made of cancer.

Now, fast forward to April of 2012, when my dad was dead, and I was trying to get back into the swing of life, and this book mocked me from our bookshelf. Suddenly, cancer books made me angry and uncomfortable and I wasn't happy with Mr. Green for daring to write a cancer book.

Where did he get off? How dare he believe he could possibly understand. And why would he do this to his readers? Why make them suffer in ways no one should have to suffer? What joy could he possibly find in that?

It was sick. It was twisted. And I was pissed.

My negative feelings toward this book built up. Every time I looked at the book, I couldn't help but envision those last few moments we had with my father in the ICU as he took his final breath. And I wanted a direct phone line to Mr. Green so I could ask him how he felt qualified to define such a moment.

Which I know isn't fair, but feelings don't care about fairness.
They just feel.

Recently, I realized my anger toward this book wasn’t about Mr. Green or his rights (which, of course, he has the right to write any story he'd like), but it was about me and my pain and  my frustration. Somehow, I'd decided to attach to this novel my sorrow and rage over the loss of my father.

Misplaced? Yep.
Ridiculous? Heck, yeah.
Give me a little slack here. I’m a nerdy bookworm. Books are my lifeline.

So, now that I've read The Fault in Our Stars, every thing's better, right?
If only life was that simple.

I'll say this much:

This is a beautifully written book. A book about two people and their struggles with death and love and suffering and fairness and indignity and cancer. Cancer that tricky bastard who doesn't care about age or sex or good or bad or right or wrong. It doesn't think about tearing families apart, leaving young men fatherless and old men without their sons. It doesn't care about dignity or shame, love or pain. It just wants to live and grow and weed its way into the very fabric of our being. It leaves behind it a lasting legacy, one that just might outlast the human race.

For me, this is the cornerstone of Mr. Green's story. As I closed this book late last night and put it back on the shelf, I realized I felt both hopeful and destroyed. By reading this novel, I feel I've made some small progress. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to untangle my father's death from this book, but instead of fearing the association, I've found some peace in it.

Unknowingly, Mr. Green has given me a gift. It might not be a gift I wanted. It might not be a gift I understand. However, it is the gift I needed.

In the words of C.S. Lewis:

We read to know we are not alone.

After reading this book, I don't feel so alone.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Bookish Review of 2013

I stumbled upon this survey by means of one of my favorite bookish type friends
Miss Bonnie who runs the amazing book blog For The Love of Words.
You should check her out because she's all that and a bag of chips.
(Originally posted by Jamie of Perpetual Page Turner here.)

If you're interested in checking out all the books I read this year
 you can clickity click here.

1. Best Book You Read In 2013?
I'm going with a list of five 
(which are in no particular order):
(for being strange & beautiful)
2. The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
(for making me long for mood changing wallpaper)
3. Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry 
(for being irresistibly silly) 
4. Night by Elie Wiesel
(for tearing my heart out)
5. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
(for being the first book I've ever kissed)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 
description here

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
description here

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013? 
Any book by Sarah Addison Allen
because they are loveliness.
Plain and simple.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
All right. 
I didn't *discover* this series this year
but I did FINALLY read the whole series 
and I DID discover that I adore them.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013? 
At the risk of sounding like a broken record:
Sarah Addison Allen.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? 
description here

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
description here

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
By design, I'm a rereader.
So, pretty much they're all up for grabs.
Even the books I didn't like,
because I'm all about second chances.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
 description here

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Will from Me Before You who I still think is THE MOST 
selfish, self-important, maddening character 
and honestly, I'm disgusted with myself for even caring 
the slightest bit about him.
Which I do.
End Ramble.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
description here

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
There wasn't just one book that impacted me this year 
but the whole kid lit genre reminded me why I love reading
and what inspired me to start writing and
in general, it just made my heart happy.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for nearly two decades
patiently awaiting me to read it.
I am clearly
Out. Of. Control.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
description here
“I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody."                                          J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: 79 pages
description here

Longest: 597 pages
description here

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? 
Oh. My. LAWD.
This and the Buffy comics have been messing with my head all year long!
And don't EVEN get me started on Superior Spiderman.
*brain splodes*

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Laugh, if you must,
but I wholeheartedly believe that everyone
is in desperate need of a friend like Charlotte. 

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously.
description here

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
We all have Carrie (aka OneBookishMom)
to thank for my new found obsession with all things 
Sarah Addison Allen.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
My top five shelves on GoodReads last year were
Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Classics, Comics, KidLit, & YA.

22. Best 2013 debut you read? 
description here

23. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
description here

24. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013? 
description here

25. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
I cried all the tears, my friends.
And I have NO SHAME.

26. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
That's a good question, survey.
To be to frank,
I don't have an answer.
There are SO MANY BOOKS.

Maybe a better question is:

What do my lovely readers think I've overlooked this year?!

Annnnnd on that note!
Happy Reading to all
and to all a book-tastic year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another Year, Another Review... Sorta

Once again, a year has passed. And once again, I'm not gonna pretend I could quantify or wax poetic in a blog post about my experiences over the last twelve months.

However, I am gonna try this year for a loose resolution, something I've always resisted in the past. It's plain. It's simple. It makes me smile. And it feels pretty damn achievable so I'm fairly pleased with myself.

Wanna hear it? Well, here it goes:

I will try to
read some,
write some,
not feel like a disappointment.

The biggie is that last one. And it's what I'm focusing on today. 

Starting today:

I will stop feeling like a disappointment as a writer because I enjoy reading more than writing (THERE, I said it).

I will stop feeling like a disappointment because I don't social media well due to my real world responsibilities and I'll accept my limitations as the mother of four.

I will stop feeling like a disappointment because at the ripe age of thirty-four I'm still awkward as hell and unsure what I'm doing with my life as a professional anything.

I will stop feeling like a disappointment when I'm around people who make me feel unimportant because screw them. I'm pretty freaking awesome.

I will stop feeling like a disappointment because it's totes a downer and making my life far more complicated than it needs to be.

And starting today, I'm gonna focus on things that bring me joy, like my family and my friends and reading and writing and Y-O-U.

And maybe, just maybe, when 2015 rolls around, I'll be able to write an actual year in review post. 

Okay. Now I'm getting cocky.

Happy New Year, my friends!
I pray your year is filled with
 laughter to carry you through the sorrows,
peace to ease your troubles,
and love
because without it life just sucks.