epic adventure: epcot


Hi! I know it’s been a while. It takes a lot to put one of these posts together, and I’ve been super busy with work. But today my brain is scattered in 23849 different directions, so I thought, why not catch up. Or try to, anyway?


Aidan and I went to Epcot twice while on our trip. The first day, it was the two of us, and we had a good time. There was adventuring and characters and rides! There was one part that sucked, though. We were in line to meet Donald Duck when my phone started going crazy, showing me all these fraudulent charges using my Capital One. Then we were next and Donald had to go eat a taco (It was the Mexico Donald Duck.) I’d been trying to get a Donald all trip and argh. The card stuff eventually got sorted, so it all worked out. And that evening? We ate at Garden Grill and had an amazing time. Seriously, that restaurant blows me away EVERY SINGLE TIME I go, and this was my 11th time there.


We got the HOOKUP for dessert, thanks to Sam, the amazing manager. Check this out:


Can you even believe? I still can’t.

We watched the fireworks with my friend Joey and he dropped us off at the hotel after which was so nice of him.

The 2nd day we went, it was our last day in a Disney park for our trip. So those days are always bittersweet. Aidan wanted a hat, but not any hat. THIS HAT:


I’d just gotten the official word that Humana wanted to hire me as a contractor, so I was happy to buy it for him from the China pavilion.

We did the Character Connection, which is always different every time we go!


Eventually, Aidan and I met up with Joey and his daughters (Bella and Victoria) that afternoon and ate pizza at Via Napoli. That pizza tasted FREAKING DELICIOUS. We rode Test Track and Mission: Space with them as well. Aidan wanted to ride Orange: More Intense and so did Bella. Joey didn’t want Bella to ride it at first; I just think he didn’t want her to go alone. When I told him that I was letting Aidan go, he let her go too. I love that I can let Aidan do that. I was never going to tell him “no.”

Victoria and I played the games in the Mission Control part while we waited, and when that ended, I got her some astronaut ice cream, which she’d never even heard of, let alone tried!

At some point during the day, this bird somehow got ahold of a mayo packet. There was a cast member standing under the tree trying to get him to drop it but this bird was like LOL.


That night, I had to pick up my rental car. Aidan and I were crashing out at Joey’s for a couple of nights before heading up the Florida coast. Joey made us dinner and let me do laundry, and we got to talk to Ricky Luna on video chat, and watch Wishes (the Magic Kingdom fireworks) from Joey’s window. Then we had to go to bed. It was LEGOland the next day!

epic adventure: hollywood studios

Hollywood Studios

Aidan and I spent one day at Hollywood Studios, and it was a great day. We skipped Toy Story Midway Mania and Tower of Terror (which gets a resounding HELL NO from Aidan), but I got to do Rock’N Rollercoaster (yay single rider!). We shopped and watched the Muppet show they have there, and met characters and ate and rode Star Tours a LOT. We also rode The Great Movie Ride, which has a super long line all the time now for some reason. Thank goodness we had Fastpasses. The ride has been redone a bit, maybe that was the draw. Anyway,

We met Baymax and Phineas & Ferb and Goofy! Doesn’t he look dapper?


We hung out and acted silly.


And we drew a picture of Mr. Frederickson from Up! Aidan’s looks professional. Mine is HUGE.


Hollywood Studios may as well been called Frozen Studios. It was All Frozen, All The Time. I don’t mind Frozen. Aidan is not a fan of it. At All.


There was a Frozen clavicle, where they stopped and sang Let It Go and skated around, wearing winter clothing in 90+ degree temperatures. There was also “snow.” It was so strange. We did the Frozen Sing-Along which was fantastic. The comedy bits were on point (there was even an Arrested Development joke!), and the singing was great. Let It Go again. Then there was the Frozen Dance Party, where there were remixed versions of Let It Go to dance to. I left all my stuff with Aidan and joined the dancers on the dance floor. It was super fun. Then, there were the Frozen Fireworks. Which were OMG beautiful.

After Frozen-time, we watched Fantasmic! which is always gorgeous. It was Aidan’s first time seeing it and he enjoyed it!


Hollywood Studios is usually a fun, easy park for me and Aidan. We don’t have rides we really need to hustle for if you go on the right day (and we did! the lines for Star Tours were never more than 10 minutes the whole day), and 50s Prime Time Cafe, where we had dinner, is always yummy and a good time. So many changes are coming to the park soon. I wonder what it’ll be like then?

overwhelmed, intimidated, and inspired.

YA Lit 2015

This past weekend was the Anderson’s Bookshop 2015 YA Literature Conference. I’d had such a great time last year that I had to go again this year, especially when I saw that Huntley Fitzpatrick was going to be there. I didn’t want to be driving back and forth to Naperville, especially with the conference starting so early on Saturday, so I booked a hotel room at the same hotel the conference was being held. This was a Very Good Decision. Friday night I arrived, and I saw people hanging out at the bar, but I was too tired and sick to be social. I went straight to my room, turned on America’s Next Top Model, and eventually fell asleep. I was up bright and early for the conference Saturday morning, and snagged a seat at the front and center table. This never happens. Usually I attend these things with Adam so I feel kind of obligated to sit with him, but this time I was *free*. Ha. The tables were numbered, so we had no idea which author we were getting. We ended up with Ally Carter!

Anderson's YA Literature Conference 2015

I will spare you the details of the conference, but I will tell you that it was wonderful and worth the $109 price tag. There were panels, keynote speeches, breakfast and lunch, and plenty of time to get books autographed and photographs with the authors. The most value for me came after when I got to hang out with the authors, where I learned remembered what I love so much about the YA Lit community.

  1. I’m still pre-published, so I don’t consider myself an author (yet). It didn’t matter. These people took me in and treated me as one of their own. I got to hang out with some authors who are a big deal (James Dashner, Michael Grant, Marie Lu, just to name a few) and none of that mattered. It was, at its core, a bunch of people who love telling stories hanging out and having a good time together.
  2. The YA lit community is like a family. These people have each other’s backs completely. The encouragement they gave each other, the affection they showed for each other, the friendships they have run deep, and run long.
  3. I want to be part of that successful, published community. I want it so badly I can taste it. In a way, I am a part, but I want to be *official*. I think other pre-published authors will get what I’m saying. Being around the level of success I was exposed to Saturday and Sunday was inspiring and fulfilling. Why not me too, right?

Someday. I know it.

While there, I made friends, especially with two amazing women, Dawn Kurtagich and Jenny Moyer. Sometimes you just hit it off with people, and that happened with them. I’m so glad to have found my writing “tribe” that I’m kinda over the moon about it.

<Anderson's YA Literature Conference 2015

Jenny, Dawn, and Me

A couple of other things I learned:

  • James Dashner is the nicest, coolest guy I have ever met. (Well, 2nd to my son, anyway.) He is funny, kind, and genuine. I’m so grateful that I got to hang out with him.
  • Michael Grant is a well-known and best-selling author, and after talking with him for hours, it’s easy to see why. The man is a master storyteller. Talking with him is easy and fascinating.
  • New York Times Best-selling authors still worry that they’re not good enough.
  • Some authors take serious charge of their careers, and it’s fascinating to see how far they’ve come because of it.

Anderson's YA Literature Conference 2015
James Dashner and Me

I was on a high over this conference for days, but as always, the self-doubt kicks in. And it’s kicking in now. I was listening to a lot of these people describe their work. The books they have published, the books that are coming out, the books they have yet to write. And I wonder if I will ever measure up. I don’t write epic adventures with huge plot twists and extensive worlds. I write love stories. Simple and straightforward. I start to doubt my writing—is it any good? Will anyone believe in it enough to put it out there in the world?

Will I ever realize my dreams?

And…I get quiet. Discouraged. And intimidated as hell from being surrounded by so much sheer talent, while I wonder if I’ll ever measure up.

I know I’m not supposed to compare myself, my path, my work to others. But it’s going to happen. I am human. So I sit here processing all of this, trying to figure out where I belong anywhere in this world.

So that’s where I am now. I’m writing, still writing. Still grateful that I reclaimed that joy back in 2013 and that I haven’t lost it again. Still chasing dreams. Still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I think I know. I say “think” because I’ve been down this road before, and I got so discouraged that I quit for many years. But I’ve come back to it. That has to mean something. 1

  1. Plus, every time I attend an event like this, at least one person asks if I’m one of *the* authors. I always answer “not yet.” Universe, you heard me. Do your thing! I’m ready, even if I sometimes try to convince myself that I am not.
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