Last week I read Precise by Rebecca Berto and though that week was a veritable whirlwind of activity during which I barely had time to sleep, I really didn't want to put this book down!

Precise centers around a very creative but emotionally insecure young woman named Katie Anselin. In the opening chapter, we immediately pinpoint Katie's main reason for insecurity and deep-seated feelings of worthlessness as the result of the way she's been treated by her Mother, who seems incapable of treating Katie with the dignity (and even love) that she deserves.

So, when Katie finds out that she and her young husband are going to have a baby, she has good reason to worry about what kind of impact her overbearing and emotionally-abusive Mother is going to have on their child...

Precise is definitely an emotional roller coaster and as I adore roller coasters, it won me over in a heartbeat.

Here are two reasons why:

Katie Is Easy To Identify With
While reading Katie's story I went from feeling sorry to her, to being annoyed by her, to rooting for her ...to finally identifying with her.

Though I've never experienced the kind of abuse Katie went through as a child, on some level I can relate to her and, really,  I think we all can. Most of us know what it feels like to be pushed away by someone we love. When this happens, it takes an amazing amount of strength to not only wrap our bruised heart and get back on our feet, but to accept the fact that we are lovable and that we're not as worthless as this person made us feel. So, seeing some of the same thoughts that I've had run through my mind during my "Ack! Am I even lovable?!" moments written down as part of Katie's internal monologue drew me to her.

Katie's Story Is Interesting
Secondly, as mentioned above, there were moments when Katie's way of thinking annoyed me but what kept me hooked was the story. As simple as this may sound, there's nothing like a book with a good story. I admire the way Rebecca Berto builds tension, it's as if the story of Precise is a staircase and Berto uses each chapter as an individual step, bringing us closer and closer to our destination. At the end of each chapter I had to know what was going to happen next!

Precise is a great read and I will definitely be on the lookout for Rebecca Berto's next book!

For updates on Precise as well as on Rebecca Berto's other books, follow her on Twitter!

You know those days when you're stuck in traffic, and you're feeling, not terrible, but a bit in need of comfort and you start thinking, "Hmm...today would be a great day to re-watch my favorite movie."

Do you ever have moments like that?

I have a lot of them...I love movies because they bring together so many different avenues of storytelling.

First of all, the music tells a story. I love how composers use sounds the way writers use words- their music draws us into the main character's emotions by helping us to feel what they feel. Music, in itself, is a beautiful way of sharing a story.

The cinematography too uses lighting and camera angles to give us, not only a straight visual of the story's action, but clues into reoccurring themes and added insight into the character's emotions.

The actors too, are storytellers who after convincing us that they're the main character, sort of hold our hand through the story-telling process.

So, anyways blabbady blah aside, because I love escaping the utter yuckiness of reality, I like stories. Therefore, I love the the way the cinema brings together so many wonderful ways of sharing a story.

I've got a ton of favorite movies and most of them are Spielbergish (because I love his romantic optimism) but there are other movies that I like and I don't really know why...

These other movies may not be so great in the cinematography department and some of the actors may be the most convincing, but I've fallen in love and I can't get out.

So, I think my favorite movie is Anne of Green Gables, it trumps Hugo (which I love), The Tree of Life (sigh...so beautiful), Titanic (yeah, I'm a dork, I love that movie too), Spanglish (Adam Sandler at his best!), and even the 8 billion hour long version of Pride and Prejudice (which I absolutely adore).

It's old and some of it's a bit cheesy, but I will always love Anne of Green Gables.

What about you?

Your all time favorite movie that you can watch again and again is (...drum roll!...) ...?

Let me know what it is and what you love about it, maybe I can add it to my "need to watch list"!

So I entered the Pitch Wars writing contest and big surprise...I failed yet again.

That completely sucked.

If this had been the first contest that I'd failed, it wouldn't have hurt all that much but this is like...I don't even know...the tenth.

This makes me question whether or not my writing is any good and on a deeper level, if I even have any worth as a human being.

I know that sounds incredibly over-dramatic but when you splatter your heart across the pages of your novel and then someone (not just one person, but person after person after person...) reads it and shakes their head saying,
"Nah. It's just not for me."

Wow...that's like the ultimate rejection. The core of who you are has been dismissed as "not good enough".

A while ago, I watched an interview of George Lucas and he talked about how when he was a film student, one of his very first shorts won tons of Film Festivals. This is how he realized that he had innate talent, because other people saw his work and immediately fell in love with it.

When I heard Mr. Lucas say that, my heart sank.

I've never been that good at anything. Like, nothing. Not even...eating cheesecake. If there was an "Who Can Eat Cheesecake The Best?!!" contest- I'd totally fail and be in last place, even though I love eating cheesecake!

So, I'm watching George Lucas talk about how he did so well and was from then on able to achieve his dreams thinking, "This answers the question of my self-worth: I have no purpose and therefore no value as a human being, I might as well be a rock or a string of moss hanging from a tree, blah, blah..." and that's how I feel right now too BUT ...yes there is a Kardashian-sized BUT to this thought...

Later, I watched a documentary about how Star Wars was made (yep, I totally watched a two hour long documentary because I'm super-cool and not a nerd) and though Star Wars was a raving, super-unbelievable success...almost everyone who was anyone expected Star Wars to be a flop because very few people believed in George Lucas. There was footage of a young George Lucas wandering around the Star Wars set looking angry, depressed, ready to cry...a little bit psychotic even...and that made me feel so much better! There were even interviews with the Star Wars cast talking about how they didn't have much faith in George and they questioned whether or not the movie they'd gotten themselves into was a good idea.

But the thing that made it come together was that this young director who very few people believed in didn't give up.

He refused to allow other people's lack of confidence in him to set his standard, he set his own standard for the kind of movie he knew he had the ability to make- and he did it.

So, maybe some people read my work and find it to be the epitome of garbage.

Maybe, for this reason, I will never, ever win a writing contest.

Cool beans.

I know that I love to write and I know exactly what I want to continue writing about.

That's the beginning of my reality and the end of me allowing other people's lack of confidence in me to shape my reality.

I'm glad George Lucas didn't let other people's negative opinions set his standard for the stories he wanted to create.

If he had, we would live in Star Wars-less world that was chalk full of depressed nerds.

Well, it's official- I can no longer sit through an episode of 30 Rock.

Everyone has a right to their own opinion and I totally respect the fact that some people watch it and laugh hysterically at every joke- that's cool- we all enjoy different types of humor.

In fact, there have been plenty of past episodes that I've watched and nearly died laughing.
Good times...great fun...

BUT along came the moment when I felt like I'd been punched in the face by a large, foul-smelling, hairy guy named Are You Black? Then You Must Be Stupid.

It was soooo weird!

I was watching 30 Rock, laughing and enjoying whatever flavored yogurt I was eating and then from out of no where BAM,  Are You Black? Then You Must Be Stupid shows up and just punches me, knocking the wind out of me!

It happened as I watched a scene similar to this one:

Here's a general synopsis of what thoughts went through my mind as I watched this:

"Uh...I don't understand...what's happening? " to

"Okay, that was kinda funny, I shouldn't feel bad, I'm just being too sensitive..." to

"Yeah, that was super funny, it's okay I can laugh- ha ha!" to

"ha ha ha- WHOA." to

"This...is... painful."  to 

"Okay, I'm going to change the channel and watch something else until this scene is over."

This began happening at least once during every, single episode of 30 Rock.

Despite Are You Black? Then You Must Be Stupid's presence (and his punches), I continued to watch because:
(a) I admire Tina Fey's tenacity and (b) Alec Baldwin is super funny.

But then I realized that I was becoming that main character (usually a Nancy or a Lily) on your average Lifetime movie.
Nancy Lily, timid and just coming out of a bad relationship, decides to give love a chance when she agrees to go out with clean-cut Clive. Nancy Lily and Clive hit it off and eventually enjoy numerous chaste yet fun-filled dates during which Nancy Lily falls deeper and deeper in love until the day Mr. Perfect loses his cool and suddenly becomes Mr. Abusive.
Nancy Lily stares at her black eye in a mirror and wonders, "Am I being too sensitive about this? Maybe this isn't as big of a deal as it seems..." and so she doesn't tell any of her friends whats going on...

That's kind of how I felt.

I mean, I try really hard to be open-minded, and it made me feel so weak to admit that I'd allowed a few jokes about black people being uneducated and bumbling idiots to bother me. So, I tried to keep my "weak" thoughts to myself when I heard other people talking about how funny 30 Rock is.

Then, about two weeks ago, I watched maybe five minutes of 30 Rock, heard myself say "No, just NO." and then shut if off for good.

I'd had enough of Are You Black? Then You Must Be Stupid's mean punches to my face.

You know why?

Because getting punched hurts.

Real life often hurts, especially for a woman with dark skin who lives in the south.

I'm going to be honest... I, personally, like the color of my skin, I think it's kind of cool. But, I also feel incredibly insecure about the way other people view this skin I'm in.


Well, because I live in a culture where strangers will often look at my coloring and automatically assume they know exactly what kind of music I listen to, what my political views are, and what my educational background consists of...not to mention that these assumptions lead to my being held at arms length and being denied certain jobs/opportunities etc...

Being treated in this way often ='s numerous tears because it lets me know that when people look at me, they often don't see me- they only see the color of my skin.

That hurts.

I watch television to escape the realities of life.

But if I plop my bruised self in front of 30 Rock, I'm not able to escape the prejudice that I'm surrounded by in real life- instead I'm punched in the face with it.

Humor is a fascinating gift that, when used properly, can actually dull the sharp edges of painful subjects.

But we have a responsibility to ourselves and to others to be careful with the way we handle this gift.

Using humor to mock the illogical nature of racism is great, but using it to highlight victims of racism as the butt of prejudice jokes is a great way to contribute to the proliferation of prejudice and make a mockery of the gift of humor.

So, to put it simply... the jokes on 30 Rock totally hurt my feelings and I can't stand to watch them anymore.

Sorry 30 Rock, you guys lost a viewer.