Birthoween Has Arrived!

Hey there, pumpkin heads,

Itís officially spooky season! We will attribute this 48-hour late blog to my excitement that Jack Skellington will be coming down my chimney in a birthday hat soon. October is the month of Halloween, rainy weather, the sweet smell of overripe squash, and my birthday! It couldnít be a better combination. Letís get blogging!

The Personal Stuff

In the last month, some exciting things have happened, though I wouldnít exactly call them monumental or life-changing. Not on a grand scale anyway. My middle nephew Evan celebrated his third birthday with a Paw Patrol themed party (God help us allÖ), so I did a ton of scratch-made baking for that. Heís mostly out of the terrible twoís now. And his language has exploded! We can have conversations about Mickey Mouse now, and everything is ďwhyĒ this and ďwhyĒ that. I love it. My cousin Olivia, the one I now babysit for regular income, was baptized into our faith the week after that. Congratulations, Ladybug! She has been a joy to watch. Her smiles are enough to make you melt, I swear. And sheís so smart. This child will be singing her ABCís before sheís a year old at the rate sheís going.

The family also attended a Matchbox Twenty concert with Counting Crows, and that was pretty exciting. Iíve been listening to them since I was a little kid, and the last three or four years theyíve toured, I havenít been able to attend either because of the flu, or school, or other obligations. This was also the month my sister decided to pick up a new boyfriend! Itís strange watching your baby sister start to do these things, let me tell you: driving, dating, graduating, working two jobs. But heís nice and funny, and highly intelligent. I think weíll get along fine. As far as siblings go, we also threw a baby shower for my middle brotherís fiancť. She received a ton of cool gifts, including personalized onesies with the baby's name on them in glittery purple font. Vera Lyn will be here sometime toward the end of November.

Finally, as the monthís last hurrah, I celebrated my nine year anniversary with my middle school sweetheart. We kept it simple; a date to IHOP and a brief mall-crawl. He surprised me with a trip to Barnes and Noble and offered to buy me two books of my choice, in addition to buying me flowers and arranging them himself. With spooky time on the way, I picked out IT by Stephen King and Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco. I also took the liberty of buying myself a complete collection of Jane Austenís novels, which made me way more excited than it should have. The English major in me is thrilled. As for my gifts, I bought him seasons one and two of Rick and Morty and ordered him a shirt with a quote from the show on it. Iím quite the romantic, arenít I?

The Professional Stuff

Most of the professional work Iíve been doing this month has been in my head. Iíve finished the first chapter of part three, but my brain is still wrapped around the first two thirds of the novel. I think I may have accidentally intentionally given myself writerís block. How does one do this?

Well, first, thereís what I call Fear-to-Finish. This means when the writer is almost finished with a cherished piece of work, they panic. What if it doesnít sell? What if I did it wrong? What will I do when Iím finished with it? What if I canít write book two? What will I do when this book is over and this story isnít the focus of my every waking moment anymore? Oh God! Then the brain subconsciously turns the creative drive off. You donít have to ponder any of this if the book never gets done. Iíve got a little bit of that going on, but Iím working through it.

Second, Iím stuck on some vital plot questions that are preventing me from continuing until I solve them. By now Iím sure most of you know Iím a raging perfectionist, which isnít a good thing when youíre writing novels for a living. Novels will never be as perfect as you envisioned them, of course. Itíll always be better in your head. However, this doesnít stop me from trying to get it to that point. My primary concern is this: my novel is described as a war novel; war is the basis of the entire story. It is the central conflict. But my book is primarily focused on character development/plot lines with the war as the backdrop. I believe this happened because my favorite book series in the world, The Black Dagger Brotherhood, is written this way. J.R. Ward focuses on the characters and inserts the war for a handful of chapters in every book to keep it fresh. I spend a lot of time reading this series, so naturally I wrote my book this way. Is that the correct way to write my novel, though? Should it be more war based, or more character based? What is going to sell better? More importantly, what do I prefer? My gut says character, but my brain says war. And sure, I can write it how I want, and the rest of the world can shove it. ButÖ I donít know. It is a confusing issue. What do you guys think? What would you rather read? Please donít say ďit dependsĒ because I might have to murder you if you doÖ Iíve been getting a lot of that response. Tell me your preferences!

Letís Get SeriousÖ

One thing I didnít get to discuss because I was caught up in a rant was the death of Chester Bennington, from Linkin Park, back in July. That news tore me apart for days. Iím still a bit of a mess over it. I listen to Linkin Park as often as I did in middle school these days, and I canít help but think that maybe if the world had been a little nicer, maybe his story would have ended differently. Iíve heard lots of variations as to why he did what he did, but I donít want to talk about those because they may or may not be true. What I will say is this: Chester was a gift from God on this planet, regardless of how he chose to live his life in the beginning. His past was troubled, his present was hard, and his future was uncertain. Despite all of this, he dedicated his talents to helping other people. He wrote songs to help people like you and me get through some of the things he went through too. I donít think there is a single person on this planet that can't say Chester didnít soothe them at some point or another. He never failed us. But I think we failed him.

We didnít give him a chance to present his new album or let him explain why he wrote what he wrote. And it made me think, because I was pretty rough on the reviews of The Hunting Party. Maybe I shouldnít have been, even if it wasnít my thing. We donít stop and consider that these famous people are justÖpeople. People with feelings that can still be hurt and thoughts that matter. I just recently bought One More Light, which I didnít remember being released until after Chester died. I donít care what it sounds like now. I bought it because Chester and Linkin Park made it. And thatís what we all shouldíve been doing all along: supporting the band because we love them as people. Chester and the band wrote things because they liked to, and they loved what they put out. Fans can have opinions, but when you go to a concert strictly to boo a man off the stage for presenting his artÖ. Thatís wrong.

While I never would have done that, I would like to extend my extreme sympathies to Chesterís friends and family, and I would like to apologize for my reviews on The Hunting Party. It was wrong of me to lash out at another human being for writing something I didnít necessarily like. Chester wrote that music for him and to help others. He didnít write it for me. And it wasnít fair of me to write a negative review like that without considering what he might think of it. Though he probably never read it, and while I didnít personally attack him or the band and their choices in my statement, I would like to apologize for it anyway. Iíll never be able to look at that album without feeling guiltyÖ I hope Chester has found it in his heart to forgive the people who lashed out at him for doing what heís always done. And I hope heís found his peace.

Another artist that passed away over this short summer was Tom Petty, just last night. The story goes that he went into cardiac arrest and was taken to the hospital. From what I understand, he was on life support, but brain dead. And as of around eight thirty last night, he passed away. This hits home especially hard because I grew up listening to Tom Petty, probably almost as much as I listened to Linkin Park. Tom was one of my dadís favorite people in the entire world, so quite often he was playing on the television or over the stereo. Losing Tom Petty feels like losing an uncle I never met, but that I always knew would be around if I needed him. Iím still not quite sure I believe it, but I suppose this is real news, not fake news. Needless to say, my household isnít taking the news very well, and neither is the rest of the cultured world. Fly high, Tom Petty. We will miss you dearly.

With all of that being said, I would like to announce that my birthday is, in fact, on the 26th of this month. Gifts are being accepted, and if you see Jack Skellington, tell him I expect my house to be visited first on Halloween.

I hope you guys have a spook-tastic month. Listen to Linkin Park and Tom Petty while you pick out your less-than-spooky costumes and eat your sub-par candy. I will be dressing up as Morty and eating dark chocolate out of the head of a jack-o-lantern. Get on my level.

Happy scaring!

Best regards and a scoop of pumpkin guts,

Kat Jenning // Shade Shadows

**Song of the Month 1: One More Light by Linkin Park**

**Song of the Month 2: I Won't Back Down by Tom Petty**

**You cannot honestly say you didnít expect this. Click the links and cry with me.**
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