Lyra Selene

Novelist, blogger: lyraselene.com. @lyraselene writes young adult urban fantasy. She is inspired by world mythology, brooding landscapes, and the alchemy of love.

THE MASKED SONGBIRD, by Emmie Mears!

THE MASKED SONGBIRD, by Emmie MearsTHE MASKED SONGBIRD,
by Emmie Mears

Sometimes, when you meet a random roommate on Craigslist and move in with them, they wind up stealing your food or refusing to take out the trash or throwing all-night ragers in your living room. And other times–if you’re reallllllyyy lucky–they become successful writers and bloggers who go on to found websites and publish books.

Emmie, as you may have guessed, is the latter kind of roommate. United by Craigslist, we bonded over our shared Celtic heritage, our love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and our aspirations to become writers. Although we no longer cohabitate, Emmie and I have kept in touch for years, and I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that her first book, The Masked Songbird, is being released by Harlequin in July! Set in Scotland on the eve of the Scottish Independence Referendum, the novel tells the story of Gwen Maule, a young woman who develops powers after she accidentally drinks a strange beverage.

Here’s Emmie to tell you a little bit more about herself, and her new book! Make sure to snag a copy of The Masked Songbird on July 1st–you can preorder it HERE!

1. Hello Emmie! Thanks for being here. I’m so excited to get my grubby paws on The Masked Songbird at last! Tell us a bit about the titular superhero, Gwen Maule. What is the quality you most admire in her, and what do you think is her biggest flaw?

Even at her worst, Gwen is nothing if not tenacious. I think that’s probably her best quality and one I try to emulate. She keeps trying even when things go wrong. Even when her life sucks, she keeps getting up in the morning. I think her biggest flaw is thinking she can do it all herself. In spite of her superpowers, she can’t be everywhere at once.

2. Aside from Gwen, who is your favorite all-time female superhero, and why?

I think I have to say Rogue. I sat quietly for a moment after reading this question, and her name popped into my head. She has to deal with some really overwhelming fear and obstacles, but she still pushes through. Even when she doubts herself, she manages to keep going. She’s spectacular.

3. The Masked Songbird is set in Scotland on the eve of the Scottish Independence Referendum. What made you choose this particular backdrop for the story?

I’ve always loved Scotland, and with the referendum coming up, it was constantly on my mind. I thought it could make an interesting external manifestation of the transition in Gwen’s life: the need to make decisions, to know yourself and what you want, to learn your own strengths and see where you can go.

4. Is travel important to you, as both a human and a writer? Where in the world would you visit, if you could go anywhere?

Travel is vitally important to me on both levels of humanity and writerdom. I wouldn’t be who I am without the stamps in my passport, and I’m still thankful that I was able to do that in spite of my rather poverty-stricken upbringing. If I could go anywhere right this second, it’d be Japan to visit my best friend Julia.

5. Finally, just for fun, pick any one fictional character to spend a day with. Who is it? Where would you go, and what would you do?

I just surprised myself, because Dean Winchester’s name popped into my head. I would happily spend the day with him fighting some monsters and capping it off with each eating our own pie. Blueberry. Because nom.

emmieEmmie Mear, in the flesh!

Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state promptly spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country. Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie’s childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor. Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they’re lions and tigers.

5 Favorite Literary Fathers

Being a father ain’t easy, and it’s nigh-on impossible to pin down the archetype of a great dad. But, literature has certainly tried.

As a follow-up to my Literary Mothers post, I thought I’d do a corresponding post about literary dads just in time for Father’s Day on Sunday. Literary fathers certainly run the gamut when it comes to character: they can be heroes or villains, role models or examples of how not to be, loving or distant, protective or abusive. But the men on my list all share one thing in common: they love their children, and want what’s best for them in this wild, complicated world.

And so, with no further ado (and in no particular order), here are my top 5 literary dads!

Joe GargeryGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens

Joe Gargery, played in a BBC miniseries by Shaun DooleyJoe Gargery, played in a BBC
miniseries by Shaun Dooley

Although technically Pip’s brother-in-law, Joe Gargery is the closest thing the boy has to a father.  Joe is passive, and often downtrodden by his overbearing wife, but he is also kind and loving and adores Pip as his own. He gives Pip much-needed affection, passes him extra food under the table, and when Mrs. Joe is on a rampage, he tries to protect Pip from her verbal and physical abuse. He loves and supports Pip unconditionally, even when Pip inherits a mysterious fortune, moves to London, and becomes an imperious, pretentious, unbearable ass. Now that’s what I call a good father!

Mr. MurryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

It’s pretty hard to not love a dad who nicknames his daughter, Meg, “Megaparsec.” Mr. Murry is absent for a large portion of the book, and the plot revolves around Meg’s drive to find her lost father, based on the certainty that he has not abandoned her and her family. Mr. Murry values Meg’s intelligence, strength, and inner beauty, and encourages his daughter to recognize those qualities within herself. Though his instinct is to protect her, he also recognizes that she’s smart and strong and has to figure some things out on her own.

Mr. Bennet, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Mr. Bennet is not the perfect father. He tends to be dismissive and passive aggressive towards his wife, often holes himself up in his study for long periods of time, and lets his younger daughters run wild. But he can also be tolerant, kind, generous, and supportive, and at the end of the day desires nothing more for his brood of daughters than to live happy, carefree lives. He visits Mr. Bingley, even when he originally said he wouldm’t. He gives Elizabeth permission to refuse Mr. Collins even when her mother tries to force her to marry him. And–perhaps most importantly–he admits his mistakes with regards to Lydia and Mr. Wickham, and does everything in his power to rectify them.

Señor Sempere, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Although something of a background character for most of the book, Daniel Sempere’s widowed father is integral to the story. He introduces his only son to the most important thing in their lives; books. Shortly after the tragic death of his wife, Sempere takes Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a labyrinthine homage to bibliophilia that shapes his son’s childhood and sets him on a very particular path through life. Señor Sempere may be quiet and mild-mannered, but he cares deeply for his only son, making whatever sacrifices necessary to improve Daniel’s life.

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Atticus Finch, famously played by Gregory PeckAtticus Finch, famously played
by Gregory Peck

This list would not be complete without Atticus Finch, hands down the most admired and beloved of literary fathers. A single father in a prejudiced, backwards Southern town, Atticus raises his two children, Scout and Jem, with integrity, honesty, bravery, and love. He teaches them, through example, that might does not make right; that morality is something that springs from a person’s own conscience; and that you can’t judge anyone until you’ve climbed into their skin and walked around in it. And on top of all that, he loves his children for who they are, and encourages them daily to be themselves without worrying what people think.

Happy Father’s day, to all the dads out there!

Do you have any favorite literary dads? Add yours to the list in the comment section below?

4 Fairy Tales I’d Rather See Adapted

Maleficent.  Image belongs to Disney.Angelina Jolie as Maleficent.
Image belongs to Disney.

Unless you’ve made yourself a nice, cozy home beneath a rock somewhere, you’ll know that the last few years have witnessed a veritable explosion of TV and film-based adaptations of classic fairy tales. ABC’s Once Upon a Time indiscriminately mashes together every fairy-tale character ever into one small town. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman both attempted to rejuvenate the Snow White story. Beauty and the Beast, on the CW, is a modern retelling of the classic “beauty is only skin deep” narrative.  And most recently, Maleficent seeks to rehabilitate the titular villain from Sleeping Beauty.

But for the most part, all of these shows start where the Disney versions left off. Well, I’ve got news for you, folks: Disney’s fairy tale mythology is pretty different than the original versions of most fairy tales. The collected folk stories of the Grimm brothers, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen often ended in misery, tragedy, and violence. So, in the spirit of contrarianism, I thought I’d put together a list of all the creep-tastic original versions of fairy tales that I’d rather see adapted to the big screen than yet another Disney-fied mush-fest.

Bluebeard

THOSE EYES, THOUGH.THOSE EYES, THOUGH.

Although no one knows what became of Bluebeard’s previous wives, he somehow entices a young woman to marry him. He gives her the keys to all the rooms in his castle, including one small room which he adamantly forbids her from ever entering for any reason (bad move). Predictably, the moment Mr. Bluebeard goes out of town his young wife heads straight for the forbidden room, only to find it awash in blood and the carcasses of Bluebeard’s former wives hanging from hooks in the ceiling.

The Hollywood adaptation of this classic boy-meets-girl boy-loses-girl romcom will star George Clooney as our wise-cracking anti-hero and Scarlett Johansson as his headstrong wife.

The Girl Without Hands

The Devil offers the miller vast wealth for whatever stands behind his mill. Unfortunately, it’s not the apple tree the miller assumed he meant; it’s the miller’s daughter. But the girl is too pure for the Devil to steal away, so he convinces the miller to chop off his own daughter’s hands. She is still too good and pure. Later, she marries a king and bears him a child while the king is off at war, but the Devil tampers with some letters and convinces the king through deceit to try and kill his own handless wife and their heir. All’s well that end’s well?

This animated family-friendly comedy of errors will feature the voices of Kristen Bell as the Girl Without Hands and Seth McFarland as the Devil.

The Wild Swans

They wore crowns so everyone would know  they were still princes, I guess.They wore crowns so everyone would know
they were still princes, I guess.

The King’s new wife turns out to be a witch (surprise!) and spitefully curses her eleven stepsons to turn into swans and forces them to fly away. The only way for their sister, the princess, to break the curse is for her to gather stinging nettles from graveyards and sew the nettles into shirts. Oh, and on top of perpetually blistered fingers, the princess also has to take a vow of silence while she works to break the curse. A King inevitably falls in love with the mute princess, and takes her to wife. But unfortunately, someone catches her gathering nettles in a graveyard and they try to have her burned at the stake as a witch.

This serious foreign film about familial devotion and strength under pressure will star Audrey Tatou as the princess and Gaspard Ulliel as all eleven swan brothers.

Allerleirauh

When the King’s wife dies, he declares he will only remarry someone who can match the late queen’s peerless beauty. Unfortunately, someone does; the King’s daughter. Understandably, the princess doesn’t want to marry dear-old-Dad, so she tries to forestall the wedding by requesting impossible gowns sewn for her: one silver as the moon, one as golden as the sun, one as dazzling as the stars, and one made out of donkey skin (?). The king has them made, however, so the princess is forced to escape the castle to a far off land, where she works as a scullery maid while refusing to ever remove her donkey costume.

Wes Anderson will direct this quirky indie comedy about coming-of-age and questionable fashion choices.

Do you have any favorite creepy fairy tales? Which fairy tale would you like to see adapted to the big screen? Leave you thoughts in the comment section below!

5 Favorite Literary Mothers

Oh, hello there! I just finished a classic novel featuring a pretty awesome mom character, so even though I’m a few days late for Mother’s Day, I thought I’d put together a list of the literary mothers who, in my opinion, embody great maternal instincts.

As James Joyce once wrote, “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.” And that is true for all of the women on this list: they love their children. Some of these women are kind and nurturing, some of these women are fierce and protective, and some of them are difficult and dramatic, but they all share one important role: when it comes right down to it, they’d do anything and everything for their children.

Margaret March aka Marmee, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

MarmeeMarmee, portrayed by Susan Sarandon

Although Marmee can come across as somewhat saccharine to a mature reader, to a young reader the March girls’ sweet mother embodies everything a mother ought to be. She nurtures and cares for her gaggle of girls while her husband is away fighting in the Civil War, with little money and few resources. She shapes her girls’ educations around her own strong moral code, and unlike some mothers on this list, never encourages them to marry for money. And all this without a frown or unkind word! Patience, thy name is Marmee.

Mrs Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Hazel doesn’t always have the kindest thoughts about her mom; Mrs Lancaster is kind of the definition of a helicopter parent. But can you blame her? Her only daughter is slowly dying of cancer. She has given up nearly everything else in her life to become a stay-at-home mom for Hazel, taking care of all the medical details while also acting as emotional and social support for her ailing daughter. Mrs Lancaster goes out of her way to make celebrations big, to encourage Hazel to make the most of each day, and to be unafraid when facing the short time she has left. Go Mrs L!

Mrs Bennet, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

“Moooom! You’re embarrassing me!”

Garrulous, self-absorbed and socially inept, Mrs Bennet wants nothing more than to see all five of her daughters married off to men with at least five thousands pounds a year. She spends a good portion of the book whinging, kvetching, and generally getting on everyone’s nerves, but beneath Austen’s humorous and somewhat insulting characterization is a mother deeply anxious for her children’s futures. If only she could realize that all her plotting is doing more harm than good!

Topaz, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Although technically a stepmother to Cassandra, Rose, and Thomas, Topaz is artistic and kind and competent and hard-working and a little bit mad. Her favorite pastime may be communing with nature while wearing nothing but a pair of wellies, but she also goes to bat for the Mortmain girls time and again, counting pennies and sewing crinolines and dyeing old tea-gowns so that they might have a shot at a better future. And all this while putting up with Mr. Mortmain at his most ineffectual and Rose at her most noxious, in a crumbling, dripping ruin of a castle! Phew! Go Topaz!

Molly WeasleyHarry Potter series by J K Rowling

“Not my daughter, you bitch!”

Molly Weasley ought to be sainted: she raised seven children in a rambling, magical house with barely any money and no help from her absent-minded dolt of a husband. And when she meets orphan Harry on Platform 9 3/4, she wastes no time in taking him under her already extended wing. When she discovers Harry won’t receive any gifts at the holidays, Molly knits Harry one of her famous sweaters, and continues to send one every year afterward. But aside from being a generous surrogate mom to Harry, Molly is also a staunch defender of good, a fearsome opponent in battle, and a furious protector of all her children.

Who are your favorite literary moms? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

emmiemears:

wilwheaton:

spiritual-realm:

queennubian:

note-a-bear:

missbananafish:

gingerish—gal:

Baby Elephants!

-high pitch screaming-

probably my favorite part of elephants is the fact that you’re literally seeing one of few species that not only is probably on par with human sentience/intelligence, but also ages, matures and has proven itself to have a fairly similar growing up process as humans.

So like, we see this largeish gamboling elephant baby, but you’re basically looking at a giant toddler.

the babies!!!! OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!

Elephants are the greatest

I love elephants so much. I really wish the world would get together and make a global law that they can never be trapped and forced to perform in circuses again.

ALWAYS REBLOG BABY ELEPHANTS.

(Source: venera9)

Literary Love Triangles

Bestill my heart...Bestill my heart…

Whether I’m reading, writing, or watching, I love a good romance. The angst, the anticipation, the passion; the alchemy of love is both mystery and motivation.

That being said, when romance is the only focus of a book or movie, it doesn’t do much for me. I need my romance to be solidly couched in a quality plot involving well-rounded characters with believable motivations. So when I read through the last few chapters of my manuscript today and realized with a jolt that I’d accidentally written the beginnings of a love triangle (oops!) I got a little nervous. I love a good love triangle as much as the next girl, but they can be tricky to pull off, especially since they can seem a little old hat if you’re not careful.

So, I thought I’d turn to my favorite literary love triangles and think about what aspects make them work…and which aspects I might want to avoid. (Mild spoilers follow, but I promise not to ruin any endings.)

Wickham, Lizzy, Darcy, from Pride & Prejudice, by Jane Austen

And then this happened.

Elizabeth Bennett usually has a sensible head on her shoulders, but when handsome, rakish, and charming George Wickham saunters into her life, she believes every lying word that comes out of his mouth. The caddish Wickham worms his way into her affections by telling tall tales about Mr. Darcy, which Lizzy is quick to believe because of her pre-formed prejudices about the snobbish aristocrat. Although the triangle is resolved fairly quickly, it generates the perfect amount of mayhem and hand-wringing in the characters’ lives.

Kathy, Tommy, Ruth, from Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The complicated love triangle begins when these children, doomed from birth, are young students at the idyllic Hailsham school. Kathy and Tommy’s intimate and potent connection cannot be denied, yet it’s Ruth who winds up in the tumultuous long-term relationship with Tommy. Later, she regrets keeping her friends apart, but love may not be enough to save Kath and Tommy from their looming fates.

Snape, Lily, James, from Harry Potter, by J K Rowling

*sob*

We finally get the full story of suspicious Potions professor Snape’s ill-fated love story in The Deathly Hallows, when Snape gives Harry his dying memories after being bitten by Voldemort’s pet snake. Although mistrusted by Harry and his friends throughout their years at Hogwarts, the revelation of Snape’s true motivations was poignant and heartbreaking. He loved Lily Evans so strongly and deeply that upon learning of her and his rival James’ murder at the hand of Voldemort he dedicated his life to protecting their only son.

He tried to do the right thing, all for a love that he would never have. Oh god, and his Patronus was a doe. I’m actually crying right now just thinking about it.

Rhett, Scarlett, Ashley, from Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Beautiful, vivacious and petulant Scarlett O’Hara is infatuated with dapper antebellum gentleman Ashley Wilkes in this famous civil-war epic, but Ashley is in love with kind, gentle Melanie. When  bad-boy Rhett Butler sweeps Scarlett off her feet, the two seem made for each other. But Scarlett just can’t let Ashley go, and soon Rhett just “doesn’t give a damn.”

Gale, Katniss, Peeta, from The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

“Wait, I have to pick?!?”

Baker vs. Hunter. Unflagging, unconditional love vs. Childhood flame. Memories of a shared horror vs. The promise of a vengeful future. Who will our steely-eyed heroine Katniss Everdeen choose? Peeta Mellarck, whose gentle demeanor belies his fierce love? Or angry Gale Hawthorne, who might choose a revolution over romance? No spoilers, but no lies: I was totally Team Peeta!

Naoko, Toru, Midori, from Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami

Quiet, serious university student Toru Watanabe is in love with emotionally fragile Naoko, who voluntarily commits herself to a mountain asylum after the suicides of her sister and boyfriend. But when Toru meets unusual and vivacious Midori, who runs a bookstore to support her dying father, the two develop feelings for each other. Toru doesn’t want to abandon troubled Naoko, but can he make a decision before he alienates and hurts both girls?

Will, Tessa, Jem, from The Infernal Devices, by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Love Triangle

I’ll be honest, this fantastical Victorian-era love triangle kept me up at night. When shapeshifter Tessa moves to London, she falls in with a group of demon-hunting Shadowhunters and quickly develops feelings for two handsome young men: fiery, caustic, and misunderstood Will, who insists on throwing himself in danger given the least provocation; and kind, artistic and sensitive Jem, who just happens to be dying of a slow and painful malady. Dying dying.Oh, and did I mention that the two boys are best friends and blood brothers, bound to protect and serve each other till death do them part? One of those love triangles where you feel guilty for picking a team…

Do you have a favorite literary love triangle? What did you love about it? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!

Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?

The shamrock.The shamrock.

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh! Happy St. Patrick’s day to you all!

I grew up in a family where we frequently and vocally celebrated our Irish heritage. My dad could often be seen sipping on a tall pint of thick, black Guinness, or tapping away on a bodhrán while singing a traditional Irish tune. My mom incorporated Celtic pagan traditions into our holiday celebrations and introduced us to Irish mythology. My younger siblings are named Shane and Siobhán. We even lived for a year in County Clare, just west of Lough Derg.

Because of this Irish-centric upbringing, I have mixed feelings about St. Patrick’s day. On the one hand, I’m happy that people want to celebrate the history of the Irish people and their impact on modern American culture. On the other hand, the whole kiss-me-I’m-Irish, dress-up-like-a-leprechaun, drink-green-beer-’til-I-puke thing is less than amusing, and some might argue even demeans the Irish heritage is claims to celebrate. So, to bring some sobering truth to an otherwise raucous holiday, I thought I’d share some facts about St. Patrick that you might not otherwise know!

1. St. Patrick wasn’t actually Irish.

An illuminated drawing of St. PatrickAn illuminated drawing of St. Patrick

Surprise! Patrick was born sometime in the 4th or 5th century AD in Roman Britain (various sources point to Cumbria, Scotland, and Wales as likely birth places for Patrick) to a family of Christian deacons and priests. He was kidnapped as a teenager by Irish pirates, and enslaved as a shepherd for a number of years until he was able to escape and return home to his family. Years later, he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary, presumably to convert the pirates (!) and slave-owners (!) he had become so familiar with.

2. His name probably wasn’t Patrick.

Sorry again. Most sources agree that Patrick was born Maewyn Succat, to parents Calpurnius and Conchessa. The name Patrick most likely arises from his time as a missionary in Ireland. Tírechán, a 7th century Irish bishop and biographer of St. Patrick, writes:

I found four names for Patrick written in the book of Ultán…: holy Magonus (that is, “famous”); Succetus (that is, the god of war); Patricius (that is, father of the citizens); Cothirtiacus (because he served four houses of druids).

So, the name Patrick likely derives from Patricius, meaning father of the citizens.

3. He’s not technically a Saint.

I know! For most of the first millennium of Christianity, sainthood was bestowed on a regional or diocesan level. Basically, when a holy person died, the local Church would affirm them to be liturgically celebrated as saints by the locals. This means that St. Patrick was never formally canonized by the Pope. That being said, many Christian churches accept him to be a Saint in Heaven, and he is widely venerated as such in Ireland and elsewhere.

4. There’s no way he actually banished all the snakes from Ireland.

It could be a metaphor...It could be a metaphor…

Sorry, but St. Patrick was neither a powerful wizard nor did he speak Parseltongue. As legend would have it, St. Patrick banished every last snake from the island after they attacked him during a 40-day fast on the top of a hill (I’d be grouchy too). However, experts agree that post-glacial Ireland never had snakes in the first place, so there wasn’t anything for Patrick to banish. It is more likely that the story metaphorically refers to Patrick bringing Christianity to the island and “driving out” the “devil” in the form of druidism, paganism, and other indigenous religious belief systems.

5. St. Patrick has become one of the most symbolically resonant figures in Irish history.

Despite all this, the tradition of Maewyn Succat a.k.a. Patricius a.k.a St. Patrick has been given new layers of meaning over time and now features solidly in the cultural and historical identity of Ireland. St. Patrick not only represents the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, but also the merging of indigenous religious and mythic traditions with Christianity in a broader framework of cultural hybridity. The date of his death, March 17th, has become both a holy Feast Day and a global holiday celebrating Irish culture. St. Patrick is a symbol of patriotism and cultural pride, along with the color green and the shamrock.

I’ll leave you with a traditional Irish blessing on this Feast Day/day of celebration:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Sláinte! Cheers to your health, and be safe!

The Winter Blues

I have a newsflash, people: S. A. D is real. (For those of you who don’t know, S. A. D. stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder obviously named by scientists who thought they were hilarious.) And, more importantly, I think I have it.

I’m a Florida girl. I’ve lived in other places, sure, but when we get down to brass tacks I really enjoy the presence of sunshine in my life. Winters are pretty smooth sailing Down South, even in North Florida, where I’m from. January temperatures occasionally drop down into the teens at night, but usually warm up to sunny, bright, light-jacket weather in the afternoon. And by the time late February rolls around, cold weather is nothing more than a distant memory.

Pretty much this.

Well, folks, I live Up North now, where winter is a sadistic, soulless entity bent on crushing everyone’s hopes and dreams under an impenetrable layer of ice and snow. Darkness falls mere hours after the sun has risen (not that you’re likely to actually see the sun behind the dense grey clouds shrouding the world). Don’t even bother to look good: no one will be able to tell under the eighteen layers of clothing you’re wearing, and the snow will ruin those cute shoes. Ruin them dead.

I don’t understand why this white bullshit keeps falling from the sky.

I like the beginning of winter just fine. November’s still sort of autumnal, and December is full of holiday cheer and good will towards man. January? No. Just, no. The Winter Blues have officially set in, with an attendant host of fabulous and enjoyable symptoms.

1. The Sleeping.

Imma just sleep until April, okay?

God, the sleeping. Don’t get me wrong, I love sleeping. Nothing beats a great night of restful sleep. But in the depths of winter, I seem to wake up groggy and grumpy after like 12 hours of sleep, and then want nothing more than to get back in bed. Last year I lost weight because I was sleeping so much I started missing meals. But not that much weight, because….

2. The Eating.

Beast mode, activated.

Good Lord, it’s like my body thinks it can hibernate (see above) but forgot to bulk up first. Better late than never, I guess? Come January I want to consume everything in sight, on sight. And not even good stuff, either. I have no desire to brave the frigid outdoors for real food, so I usually wind up stuffing my face with like stale crackers I found in the back of the pantry, or unseasoned lentils right out of the pot, or a whole thing of candy beans. And I don’t even like candy beans.

3. The Sadness.

“Fight the sadness, Artax! Nooo!”

I cry at everything, these days. I cried at a fashion ad the other day because the models were so beautiful. I cried at a video of corgi puppies playing in the snow. I’m actually crying right now. Seriously, though, I wept throughout the entire second half of a comedic film, terrifying the husband half to death. He kept saying “Lyra, they’re happy. They’re HAPPY!” as though that made any kind of difference. Psssshh. At this point in January, ‘happiness’ is just a myth, like ‘unicorns,’ ‘summertime’ and ‘sunshine.’

Ah well, I’m sure by the time April rolls around I’ll be peachy keen. And by June, I’ll be miserable by how hot and humid it is. Can’t. Freakin.’ Wait.

Do you get the Winter Blues? What are your worst symptoms? How do you cope? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!