Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dear Diaries, I've been given the Booker Award!

Dear Diaries,

Lily over at Lily's Notes in the Margins has so kindly given me The Booker Award. Thanks so much!

Rules of the award are:

This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing is okay)
Along with receiving this award, you must also share your top five favorite books you have ever read. (More than five is okay)
You must give this award to 5-10 other lucky book blogs you adore.

So for my top favorite books ever (could there be a more impossible question?) we have, not in any order:

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (more specifically Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows)
The Blood Confession by Alisa Libby
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I could literally go on forever...but I will spare you all the list of my personal library :P

Now to give this award to a few other lovely book bloggers:)
Isalys and Vanessa at Book Soulmates
Cat and Jamie at Addicted2Heroines
Kelley Lynn at Between the Bookends

Thanks again Lily! :)

In other news: I have officially watched every episode of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. My first reaction to finishing the show was something like this...


It has become quite the little obsession of mine- what am I supposed to do now that I've watched it all??

If you have never watched it, you simply must. The plot is among the best I have ever seen or read - which is really saying something. Plus I have a huge crush on all of the following:
                            Edward Elric the Fullmetal Alchemist

Greed/Lin Yao (Greed 2.0 as I like to call him)

And, of course, the biggest badass of them all:

Colonel Roy Mustang the Flame Alchemist
He's about as boss as they come.
Now I suppose the healthy thing to do would be to say "wow that was an amazing show!" and move on with my life. But....instead I have started watching the original Fullmetal Alchemist because the story lines are completely different and it means I get more of my favorite people! Except Greed 2.0 - he will not be making an appearance :(

There's a little peak into what I've been doing with my life in recent days; exciting right? But, I assure you, totally worth it!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Guest Post: Andrew Chamberlain!

For this week's thoughts on writing we have a lovely guest post from writer Andrew Chamberlain! He has some thoughts on how to get your work noticed when it comes to querying. Everyone say thank you, Andrew!

Give the editor what they want.
If you want to get your material published, your challenge is to get an editor excited about your work. Not just mildly curious, or vaguely interested, but really, properly, excited!
To help you do that, here are ten questions that an editor will be asking themselves as they look at your work; make sure you know the answers to these questions for your manuscript before you send it off!
1.     Does it fit with the list?
You need to research. What genre is your work? What publishers work in this area? Look in the library; look in the bookshop, and online; who is publishing the kind of thing you’ve written? Don’t send a SF work to a Romance publisher; and don’t send a historical fiction novel to a publisher who works on big photo based picture books. Find a publisher whose list fits your material.
2.     Is there a market for the book?
Unfortunately it doesn’t matter how good your book is, they won’t publish it if there isn’t a market, if it won’t sell. Don’t go to the publishers with something like “Taxidermy amongst the Inuit tribes” if you think the publisher is looking for 50k print run minimum. Find out what’s selling – not because you are going to imitate these books but because you need to see what the current trends are.
3.     What is the hook, what is the elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is the outline of the story you could tell to intrigue someone in about 30-50 seconds (the time you might spend in an elevator with someone).
The hook must be:

  • Specific
  • Feel compelling and intriguing
  • Right for the genre – no elvish weapons in your period drama!
  • Contain the potential to drive the narrative

For example, think about what the elevator pitch might have been for The Hunger Games; how was that presented?

4.     Does the manuscript comply with the submission guidelines?

This one is in your control so you should really get it right! Don’t send them manuscripts in handwritten green biro! If they want a 300 word synopsis give them a 300 word synopsis. If they want two chapters give them two chapters. This is one of those occasions where you don’t want to make it easy for the editor to reject your work simply because you didn’t present it properly.

5.     Is the basic writing sound?

This is mostly in your control as well. Is the grammar correct, what about the spelling? Are the sentences balanced and concise? Get these basics right, read and re-read your submission, it’s hard work but you need to do it. Get someone to help you by looking through your material before you submit it, a second pair of eyes can often spot something that you just can’t see yourself.

6.     Is it clear and concise?

Don’t be pretentious! Kill off those redundant adverbs and adjectives. Look at the example of George Orwell, especially his essay or writing. Keep your narrative style clear and concise.

7.     Is there a strong narrative drive and structure?

Does the story keep moving? Is there a pace and momentum to the thing or does it all grind to a halt half way through? Plotting and planning can help here. Ensure you do your planning for the story; know where you are going and what the waypoints are. Keep the whole thing tight.

8.     Do you care about your characters

If you don’t care enough about your characters, especially your principle protagonist(s) then the story will not engage the editor. You need to believe in your characters, and present them as consistent, whole, people.

9.     Have you got the voice and Point of View (PoV) and tenses right?

Keep the PoV consistent. Don’t start in with “I did this” and suddenly change to “he or she did that”. Similarly, keep the tense consistent. If you start in the present tense don’t change to the past, or future, unless there’s a very clear reason and indication for it.
10.  Is the voice consistent?

The voice doesn’t have to be original but it needs to be consistent, don’t start with Dickens, continue with Joyce, and finish with Hemmingway. Find the voice for the book and stick to it, think about the suitability of the voice for the genre of your work.

Good luck!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Writer in You Blog Hop #3!

This is a blog hop for all you aspiring writers out there. It is a chance to meet other writers and share tips, writing, and experiences, all while gaining new followers for your loverly blog!

I host writing marathons on Saturdays on a Facebook group called Word Wars (today will be our first marathon as well as the first blog hop! Feel free to join us here anytime!). That is partially why I decided to begin The Writer in You Blog Hop; Saturdays are a great day to sit back and write. So what better way to start a Saturday writing session than with a question that makes you think about your writing? That exactly what this blog hop will be.

The Blog Hop!
Start by adding your name to the list of blogs at the bottom of this page. Then comment on this page letting me know you've joined us!
Then write a post of your own answering the question of that week and link it back to this page; we want as many people as possible to join!
Then: start hopping! Visit as many or as few blogs as you like and be sure to leave a comment on their posts letting them know you stopped by.

The Rules!
There are only 3 rules to this blog hop:
1. Follow me, your blog hop host! Then come back every Friday to find out what Saturday's question will be.
2. Be consistent: Don't forget to post your answer on Saturdays! It gives fellow WIY visitors something to comment on!
3. Grab the blog hop button below and post it on your blog; spread the word!

The Writer in You Blog Hop!

Q: When and where do you do most of your writing?
I tend to do most of my writing in bed - which is probably why I tend to not write as much as I need to. I'm working on trying to write more during the day but I have always leaned towards writing at night. I naturally stay up late- I've always been a bit of a night owl - so its easy for me to find time to write where there's nothing else going on around me to distract me. I would like to get into the habit of writing during the day too, though.

Join the fun! Sign up below!
If you're link doesn't appear right away, don't worry. It just takes the list a few minutes to update. 
**Note** Be sure to link to your blogs homepage rather than a specific post. The link list doesn't reset every week:)

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Pages: 471 (Paperback)
Publishing Date: September 7, 2009
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight- she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.
When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint how her life is about to change.
She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to lean a new truth about her own Grace- or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away...

First, can I just say how much I adore the name, Katsa? Because I'm in love with that name. Just saying.

This book is pure, beautiful fantasy right from the first page. It is rare that I come across a book that strikes me as so truly unique as Graceling did; as far as I can remember I have never read anything quite like it. Cashore has done a remarkable job of creating the Seven Kingdoms in which the story takes place and making them come alive to the reader- I will not be visiting the mountains between Sunder and Monsea anytime soon, as just reading about it made me cold. I would very much like to visit Lienid though; it sounds lovely.

I think the best part of this book is Katsa's character. She is strong and stubborn, and yet trapped under her uncle's control at the same time. She knows what she wants and she most certainly knows what she does not want, but she isn't always quite sure how to get around to doing what it is she wants. She knows how to survive in the most difficult of situations, but is unsure how to handle herself when something like friendship presents itself. The relationship between Katsa and Po is...particularly unique to say the least, and watching her try to figure out what to make of him and their friendship is almost comical because of how frustrating it is for her to understand at times.Watching Katsa learn to handle herself in the presence of people whose eyes do not instantly widen with fear at the sight of her's is as entertaining as her adventure itself.

The book is well balanced between the outer struggles of the world and the inner struggles Katsa is attempting to deal with, making a lovely mix of action and drama. I loved reading through Katsa's thoughts as she processes everything happening around her - her stubbornness combined with Po's humor alone makes this book worth reading. Plus, who doesn't love a badass girl who knows how to handle herself? I know I do! Dresses are overrated; daggers are the way to go these days.

Basically, read the book. It's a good'n. And I can almost guarantee it will have you smirking at something a character said about as often as it has you in suspense :P

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dear Diaries...I thought this was going to be a short post..

Dear Diaries,

I can't say that I have all too much to share this week. I imagine most of your reactions to the idea of me not having much to say might have been something like this:

Shocking, I know. But its true.
What's that? You think I just wanted an excuse to put the 10th Doctor in a blog post?
But really, the week has been rather hectic with me trying to figure out some life stuff so I neglected the literary world a tad...I apologize. It won't happen again. Swear!

I will say that I picked up some awesome books about writing this past week that I cannot wait to share with you! But I want to read the books completely first so I can accurately tell you why you should run out this very second to buy them:)

Sneak peak? The first one is On Writing by Stephen King. :)

Personally I can't read King's stuff - I'm too big of a wimp and not afraid to admit it!- but I still know that he is an excellent person to be listening to when it comes to living the life of a writer. So far I love it! More to come:)

Disinherited is coming along quite well. Slowly- but well. I am having so much fun writing it and hopefully someday some of you will have fun reading it! My new goal is to have the first draft finished by the end of June:) I won't be participating in the June session of Camp NaNo so to speak, because I will be working on Disinherited which I have obviously already started, but I will being using it as my motivation to write nonetheless:)

Lastly, this week I may be posting a review on Saturday. I had a review request that the author requested be posted by Friday, which I hadn't expected to be a problem initially. But I had a very super simple surgery done today (seriously simple, nothing to worry about) and the anesthetics made it rather difficult to read today so I'm not sure that I'll have it quite done on time for Friday reviews. Be sure that I am still going to try! But its not fair to make the author wait another week for the review because of unforeseen circumstances so one way or another the review will be up this weekend. In addition I will also be reviewing Graceling by Kristin Cashore:)

I think that's just about everything for today...

I lied! I do have some exciting news! Thank you Jennifer!
The Diaries will be participating in a few upcoming blog tours, the first of which being the:

YAY! I will be hosting on June 29th with a review and I believe a t-shirt giveaway! So be sure to be looking for that and for the other blogs participating in the tour:)

I will also be participating in a tour for The Orphan, The Soulcathcer, and The Black Blizzard by Kimberlee Ann Bastian - I believe I am hosting on June 25th with a guest post from the author:) But I do not have a button for that one yet.

I have also signed up for one in August for a book entitled Red Leaves and the Living Token. This tour is not until August, though, so I have very few ( details as of yet. Stay tuned!

That is actually all I have today. Hope everyone is having a lovely week!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Critique: Run, Clarissa, Run

Todays critique is a book blurb for a novel entitled Run, Clarissa, Run. Thanks Rachel for sending it in:)

Life in a small town can be tough when you're a little different, but for a fifteen year old transgender kid it can truly be hell. Good catch-something most people would understand/agree with Clark is harassed daily at school for his effeminate behavior and appearance. He has no friends and a brother that is as likely to be in on the teasing as to prevent it. At night he is haunted by a nightmare of being shoved in bank vault. This seems a bit random. If this is important, which I'm assuming it is, give it more direction. This sounds like the part that should really catch someone's interest.

Across town, Shelley Pirella seems to have it all. She has a great job, two wonderful girls and a handsome husband, Tony, who does computer security work for a major corporation. Is that important information? Why? Again I feel like this is supposed to be part of the catch but I can't figure out where its going.  Tony Pirellais a little too handsome, though; Shelley has had problems more than once with the babysitters, teenage girls mostly, developing crushes on her husband, and he is a little too willing to play the role of love interest.

Shelley attempts to thwart her husband by hiring the effeminate 'gay boy' Clark. The arrangement works out surprisingly well, for a time. The girls love their new boy/girl babysitter. Clark and Tony share a common interest in computers and hacking that leads to an unexpected friendship.

However as Tony becomes aware of Clark's transsexuality and Clark's growing female alter ego, Clarissa, things start to unravel. Will Tony be Clarissa's salvation or her undoing?  

I think this is a lovely start to a book blurb:) What I'm having the most trouble with is seeing things connect: why is Clark's nightmare important enough to be included on the blurb? Same with Tony's job - I can sense that its suppose to lead into something important that would really catch a readers attention, but right now it all seems a bit random.
I think it might also help to introduce Clarissa sooner - I missed it at the end and had to re-read it. 
I would also like a bit of a sneak peek into why Tony is a threat to Clarissa. Is he worried he'll lose Clark because of her? Does he become attracted to her? This is your tension - the basic element of the book's plot- give me an idea of what I'm going to be reading.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments! And thanks again Rachel for letting me take a look at it!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Featured Author: Nancy Richardson Fischer!

Today is our first author interview at the Diaries! I'm really very excited. Nancy Richardson Fischer is the author of Pandora's Key, book one in the Key Trilogy. Personally I just adored the book so you should all check it out! You can find my full review to the book here!

On to the interview!

What made you decide you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a little kid, I wrote short stories and bad jokes. In high school I felt like writing was the only thing I did well. After college, my first job was as a writer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. I wrote stories about the performers and animals and even though they weren't my personal stories I loved writing them! As soon as I had the nerve, I quit my day job writing and began to write freelance. I never looked back and ultimately my career evolved into writing what I loved instead of writing just for the pay check.

Pandora's Key is quite a bit different from the other books you have written. What inspired you to stray from the Junior Jedi Knight books?

As a writer it takes awhile to get established enough that you have the freedom to write what you love. I always loved mythology, fantasy, science fiction and horror. Once I had the opportunity to write what I wanted, I just let my imagination wander and it led me to a story that was a combination of mythology and urban fantasy.

What has your experience with self-publishing been like? Do you have any advice for anyone considering self-publishing?

Pandora's Key is my first experience with self-pub and it has been really challenging. The positive aspects include a total control over my story, the ability to release it whenever I choose, and a direct connection to my reader (which has been incredible). The negatives include the fact that there's no marketing team, your book isn't carried in a mainstream bookstores, and you are totally responsible for your book's success or failure.

As for advice... if you believe in your story and want to get it to readers, and you feel like traditional publishing is in flux and that you can do a better job for yourself, then self-publishing allows you to do that. However, the process is like slowly building a snowball. And you just have to hope that it gets big enough to roll on its own!

You've listed authors such as Stephen King, Suzanne Collins, and George R.R. Martin as influences. Is there anything about Pandora's Key, or anything else you've written, that was inspired by any of their works?

I am incredibly inspired by those authors. They are insanely creative, prolific, and unbelievably talented in the realm of world-building. While not specifically inspired to create Pandora's Key from those authors' books, I am inspired to be as great a writer as I can be because of their example.

Book 2 of the Key Trilogy, Key to Tartarus, takes Evangeline down to the Underworld. Is it safe to assume that Key to Tartarus is going to be a bit darker than Pandora's Key?

YES! In Book One Evangeline learned who she was and had a taste of her supernatural powers. In Book Two her journey is not only dark because of where to travels (the Underworld) and who she meets along the way, but because she now has to figure out how to live with her new identity. [Cut for spoilers. :)]

Is there anything else you can share about the second book in the Key Trilogy, Key to Tartarus? ;)

Sure:-) I'll say that The Key to Tartarus is definitely a much scarier ride. If you like a twisted plot with plenty of surprises this book is perfect for you. And if you're hoping for Evangeline and Raphe to take their relationship to a more romantic level... well, I'll try not to disappoint;-)!

Thanks again Nancy!

I cannot say this enough: if you haven't read Pandora's Key, do it! Its available on every ebook platform via smashwords and can also be found on and Amazon! Plus the ebook version is only 99 cents. That is a dollar for an amazing book, people, and more than worth every cent.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award!!

I've received my first ever blog award! Yay! Thank you very much to the lovely Krista at The Jelly Beans of Writing for giving it to me. I very much appreciate it! And for those of you who don't know Krista, go check her out, she's awesome!:)

Award rules: I have to answer 10 questions about myself and then share 10 random facts. Let's do it!

1. What is your favorite song? So by that you obviously mean my favorite song today, right? You can't honestly expect me to pick just one. I'm rather biased towards Soul Sister by Train because it's Joe's song to me and can always make me smile<3 And I always have a theme song or two for the summer and right now that would be Young Forever by The Ready Set; no one you can listen to that song and not dance! But these are just two of the many that I love.

2. What is your favorite desert? Cannolis<3 YUM!

3. What ticks you off? Am I allowed to just say people? :P Joe always laughs at me because I constantly start sentences with: "you know what irritates me?" Lets see: people who shove their religion down my throat/think it is an excuse for discrimination, arrogance, people who judge without understanding, the list goes on and on. 

4. When you're upset what do you do? I'll be the first to admit that I can get a bit snappy when I'm upset - but I'm always aware of it and constantly apologizing between snaps. As girly of an answer as it is, talking really does help for me, mostly because sometimes I don't even know what's really bothering me until it starts coming out lol.

5. What is your favorite pet? I'm a dog person:) I want a husky so bad!

6. Which do you prefer, black or white? Sepia!

7. What is your biggest fear? Losing the people I love. And mirrors...and snakes; especially snakes...don't judge me..

8. What is your attitude? Is Divergent an appropriate answer? It tends to vary depending on the situation..but I think I'm a fairly optimistic happy person:) I'm still just a kid, really.

9. What is perfection? Finding beauty in imperfection.

10. What is your guilty pleasure? Its not really a guilty pleasure anymore because I don't care if people know, but I absolutely love Inuyasha. Its a badass manga/anime that I got hooked on when I was like 13. Really, anime in general I guess is a guilty pleasure, or was. Loved it but wouldn't admit it for the longest time.

Ten Random Fact About Me!
1. I LOVE Winnie the Pooh.
2. I can quote Mulan and How to Train Your Dragon in their entirety- Mulan I can do without watching the movie. How jealous are you?
3. I'm obsessed with Lord of the Rings and absolutely in love with Aragorn.
4. I'm 3rd generation Sicilian on my Dad's side.
5. I'm a proud gamer-girl; Zelda was my childhood
6. I didn't read the Harry Potter books until the summer after I graduated high school.
7. My favorite color is limegreen.
8. I own and adore all 10 seasons of Friends.
9. 日本ごをはなします。"Nihongo o hanashimasu" or "I speak Japanese". A whole semesters worth.
10. I think I am incapable of wearing a skirt unless I have shorts or legging on underneath. Dresses are fine; skirts, not so much.

Lastly I shall pass the award on to 7 other kreativ bloggers! I follow so many amazing blogs so it was really hard to pick, but here they are:)

1. The lovely ladies over at Falling for Fiction
2. Taylor at Perfectly Sensible Nonsense
3. Keely at Realms of an Open Mind
4. Ellyn at Writing Passion
5. Michelle Krys at...Michelle-Krys haha
6. Brigid at My Life as a Teenage Novelist
7. Lily at Notes in the Margins

So there it is! Thanks again Krista!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Writer in You Blog Hop #2

This is a blog hop for all you aspiring writers out there. It is a chance to meet other writers and share tips, writing, and experiences, all while gaining new followers for your loverly blog!

I host writing marathons on Saturdays on a Facebook group called Word Wars (today will be our first marathon as well as the first blog hop! Feel free to join us here anytime!). That is partially why I decided to begin The Writer in You Blog Hop; Saturdays are a great day to sit back and write. So what better way to start a Saturday writing session than with a question that makes you think about your writing? That exactly what this blog hop will be.

The Blog Hop!
Start by adding your name to the list of blogs at the bottom of this page. Then comment on this page letting me know you've joined us!
Then write a post of your own answering the question of that week and link it back to this page; we want as many people as possible to join!
Then: start hopping! Visit as many or as few blogs as you like and be sure to leave a comment on their posts letting them know you stopped by.

The Rules!
There are only 3 rules to this blog hop:
1. Follow me, your blog hop host! Then come back every Friday to find out what Saturday's question will be.
2. Be consistent: Don't forget to post your answer on Saturdays! It gives fellow WIY visitors something to comment on!
3. Grab the blog hop button below and post it on your blog; spread the word!

The Writer in You Blog Hop!

Q: What is your favorite thing about your current WIP?

Definitely how in-depth the story is. There are numerous twists that I am incredibly proud of, I think I have finally 3-dementionalized (my favorite not a word, word of the day) my villain and his motives, and Anadilyn's backstory is something I think is honestly completely unique.  She has no idea what she's in for ;)

How about you?

Join the fun! Sign up below!
If you're link doesn't appear right away, don't worry. It just takes the list a few minutes to update. 
**Note** Be sure to link to your blogs homepage rather than a specific post. The link list doesn't reset every week:)

Friday Feature & Follow #2

The Friday Feature & Follow is brought to you by: Alison Can Read and Parajunkee.

Q: Summer Break is upon us! What would be the perfect vacation spot for you to catch up on your reading & relax?
A: I'm I burning your eyes out with my lovely color choices yet?
I would love to go on a cruise somewhere warm and sit on the deck all day and read. That sounds just loverly! 
I would like to say New Zealand, because what better place to read than Middle Earth, right? But reading would be the last place on my mind between the Middle Earth Tour and the rock climbing and the everything else.

Book Review: Pandora's Key by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Title: Pandora's Key
Author: Nancy Richardson Fischer
Pages: 220 (NookBook)
Publishing Date: November 18, 2011
Reason for Reading: Received copy from author 
When everything you believed about yourself is a lie, how do you unlock the truth?
Evangeline Theopolis has nightmares about the violent deaths of women she has never met. Her single mother, Olivia, suffers delusions she can't hide. And Malledy, a brilliant young man, may have a disease that will leave him paralyzed and insane. Their lives are about to collide.
On Evangeline's 16th birthday her mother gives her a necklace with an antique key charm--a family heirloom, though no one knows what the key unlocks. Everything changes. Her mom is hospitalized. Her godmother attempts murder. An ancient Order tries to kill Evangeline, and a lethal sect to kidnap her.
Nothing makes sense--especially Evangeline's own face, which has morphed from geeky to eerily stunning; the ancient key that feels strangely alive against her skin; and the magical abilities she begins to possess.
Evangeline must use her wits and supernatural powers to fight her deadly adversaries and discover her true identity. But can she accept who she really is and save the world?

The only thing stopping me from saying this is the best experience with an Indie book that I have ever had is that it is my first experience with an Indie book. And it has set the bar pretty high for future Indies, because I absolutely ADORED this book!

I admit I was slightly concerned at the beginning, because everything gets started really quickly: strange things begin happening from page one without time to indicate what normal life was like. 

Then I read a few more pages and I didn't care anymore; I just wanted to know what happened next.

The book head-jumps between a few different story lines that eventually collide in a way I had never expected. Now, anyone who knows me can tell you that it is very, very difficult for a plot twist to catch me off guard. Joe and I will be watching a movie and 10 minutes in I'll have figured out the catch - I've been told its rather infuriating. The point is I am not one to be caught off guard easily, but this book did just that. I sat in bed staring at the page with my mouth hanging open in awe of the fact that, finally, someone had beat me. I actually messaged the author on Goodread's just to share my excitement at how perfectly she had set the whole thing up. It is essentially a lesser version of when Snape's background is revealed in The Deathly Hallows; everything you know is a lie. Except..ya know..this one only lies to you for one book instead of seven.

The book is a quick read both because it is relatively short and very compelling. The more you read the more you want to know what is going on and you'll be damned if you stop reading before you do. And once you do finish it I am willing to bet you will be just as excited to get book 2 in the trilogy as I am now.

Keeping this key around my neck, just like Evangeline ;)

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent
Author: Veronica Roth
Pages: 487 (Paperback)
Publishing Date: May 3, 2011
Reason for Reading: Have you seen the cover?
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Everyone knows there is a lot of hype surrounding this book. Obviously I was a bit late on the pick up with this one, but I just had to know what all the fuss is about! Now, having read it, I totally get it. Because this book, my friends, is amazing.

Firstly I absolutely love dystopian novels. I love seeing what authors turn our society into, and this is one of my favorites. The concept of Chicago dividing into factions based on what they value most was fascinating and keeps you wondering the whole time where you would have ended up if you lived in this Chicago.

The one thing that can make or break a book is having a believable main character, and it was even more important to this book because it is written in first person. Personally, I felt like I knew Beatrice, or Tris as she renames herself. I could curl up with this book and imagine I was standing next to her and going through the initiation myself - which is a bit terrifying, but also a hell of a rush. Tris isn't perfect- she doubts herself, she struggles, she gives in to weak moments- but she is also very strong willed; she was an imperfect character and that's what I loved about her.

There is nothing I hate more than when an overly perfect romance ruins a book. I hate that. So many authors seem to want to create the fantasy romance simply because they're writing a fantasy book - it doesn't work that way. The romance in this book was slow to really appear and, once it did, a bit awkward and unsure of itself- just like a realistic relationship should be. The guy is not Edward Cullen and that's what I loved about him :P. Seriously, I fell in love with him. I had an affair while reading this book. Shhhh, don't tell...

I could go on and on about everything right about this book. It was a breath of fresh air from the same-old "girl meets boy and discovers her mystical powers" story that has invaded the book stores lately. I will be running out tomorrow to buy Insurgent and I can hardly stand to wait til then.

Leave that key in the lock; I'll be coming back!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dear Diaries, Come to Camp with Me?

Dear Diaries,

I GOT A JOB!! It really is very exciting:)
I will be working as a writing consultant in the GVSU Writing Center and I could not be more excited! This is exactly the type of job I was made for, so I cannot wait to get started!
I'll be helping other students work through their papers for class, since apparently not everyone likes writing as much as I do - weird right?
I should mention that this will be my first job, ever, so that makes it about 10x as exciting:)

Deep breaths. Okay. Moving on!

I will be participating in both the June and August sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo (for those who may not know, that stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is in November, but this is summer camp!) Interested in going to Camp NaNoWriMo yourself? Do it!

If you direct your attention to the right of you screen you will find a lovely widget that will allow you to donate to my Camp NaNoWriMo sponsorship page. All donations will be going to the Office of Letters and Light which is the amazing program that runs and funds all NaNoWriMo events as well as countless other free writing programs for teens and adults. As an aspiring writer myself I can personally tell you that their programs are amazing as far as bringing writers from all around together and providing the inspiration that is often so elusive. These programs are very important to me and hundreds of thousands of other writers, so your support is greatly appreciated.

The bout of books read-a-thon is underway and I, of course, have fallen a tad behind. If I can finish Pandora's Key today (no problem) and either finish or read most of Glass today, then I should be back on track! 

I decided it would be easier just to post today's challenge in this post ya go!

Today's challenge is brought to you by: Books Devoured
She has challenged us to re-title a book based on its cover. I think this might be my favorite so far:)

I chose Shine by Lauren Myracle (which just so happens to be one my list for the week!).
Except I have decided to re-title it: First to Fall
Why? Dunno, just felt right :P

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Read-A-Thon Tuesday Challenge

Today's Bout of Books Read-A-Thon challenge is hosted by Nyx Book Reviews :)

Just a quick update: as of now I have finished Divergent by Veronica Roth (ANDOMGITWASSOGOOD!) and have started reading Pandora's Key by Nancy Richardson Fischer :)

And on to the challenge! I chose option two which was a lovely game of 'This or That'.

Physical book or eBook?
Physical Book
Paperback or Hardcover?
Reality or Make-believe?
Make-believe - I'm a writer, duh ;)
Adult or Young-Adult?
Dog ears or Bookmarks?
Bookmarks - you dog ear my book, you die
Breaking the spine or Barely open the book?
I guess barely opening. I don't make a point to break the spine but I don't make a point not to either.
Tea or Coffee?
Reading in bed or On the couch?
Series or Standalone?
Original or TV Adaptation?
Defy motion sickness or Audiobooks?
Haha, defy motion sickness all the way
Author crushes or Who-was-that-guy-again?
Definitely author crushes
Interview or Guest post?

That's it for my answers! How about you?

Monday, May 14, 2012

There Are No Shortcuts in Writing: A Writer's Organic Chemistry

Let me rephrase that: there are no shortcuts in good writing.

As much as we love to write, as fulfilling as it is to see our words appearing on the page, we all know that writing is often a love-hate relationship. We love the amazing stories we have in our heads, but hate how difficult it is to focus when it comes to writing them down. We love knowing we have found the perfect words to express something, but we hate how many almost perfect words we have to go through first. It is a very time consuming and frustrating process that I'm sure has left every single one of us looking like this at some point:

You know how in college they use classes like Organic Chemistry to weed out the people who aren't cut out to be Bio-Chem majors? Well this, my friends, is our Organic Chemistry. This infuriating process is what weeds out true writers from the wannabes, because only a true writer would take the time necessary to give a piece of work the time and effort it takes to make it great. 

In a post a few days ago (Disinherited is Born) I talked about how I had a realization about my WIP that meant, in order to make the book, and the series it belongs to, the best it can be I would basically have to start from scratch; that is after having written a little over 40 pages and roughly 13,000 words. You'd think that a realization like that would have devastated me to some extent, and of course I was a little sad, but I forced myself to focus on how much better the book would be if I went through with the changes. It is sad to know that most of those 40 pages will never again see the light of day, but I do not think of them as wasted time; it was what I needed to work through in order to get to where I am now. Needless to say the changes have set me back quite a bit, and I doubt that I will have my rough draft done by June 1st like I had hoped to, but I owe it to my MC to make her story the best it can possibly be, and so do you.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you that you have to have an outline to write a book; you don't. Sherrilyn Kenyon is an amazing author and, according to her, she never knows what is going to happen next until she sits down to write it, and if she ever starts to get bored while writing she just blows something up. I don't make actual outlines for my books, but I do sit down and figure out the major plot points before I start writing; if I didn't know anything about a book before I sat down to write it I would probably look like this:
...but that's just me.

I am going to tell you that you cannot write one draft of a book and call it a manuscript. A manuscript is something you'd be willing to send out to agents, and I can almost guarantee you that nothing any writer has ever written has been ready for publishing right after it was finished. What you have is a rough draft and, if its anything like my rough drafts, it is probably something any agent in their right mind would laugh at. The story itself in the rough draft could be the most amazing thing in the world, but, unfortunately, the writing will not be. That is why all drafts must go on to stage two: revisions.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. - Mark Twain

For most people revising is infuriating. You have just spent months, maybe years, writing this draft and now you have to go back through it and pick it apart. The best thing you can do is set the draft aside for a couple of weeks before you try to start revising anything. If you try to begin revisions the second you are finished with it you won't be willing to change anything that needs to be changed; it is your baby and you can't bear to tear it apart, so wait until its not as fresh. Find critique partners who are willing to read through your draft and make notes as to what works and, more importantly, what doesn't. It will most likely take a few rounds of editing and rewrites to turn your draft into a manuscript; don't give up.

Before the Beginning of Great Brilliance, there must first be Chaos. - I Ching

Writing is not easy. Not everyone can be a writer because not everyone has enough crazy in them to do everything it takes to make a piece of writing great. Great writing is one of the few truly beautiful things that emerges only from chaos; as writers, we must be prepared to stay on the insanity bus up until the very last stop.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Very Happy Mother's Day!

I am going to break away from my normal posts to wish my amazing mom the very happiest of Mother Days.

I love this picture:)
I thought about taking this opportunity to upload the funniest picture of her I could find, as payback for all her ridiculous pictures of me on Facebook, but I decided against it :P

My mom is one of my biggest inspirations. She has never done anything but support (and even push towards) my wanting to be a writer and she is one of the biggest reason why I am so sure I can do it. She has been telling me I was meant to be a writer since I was in the 3rd grade, and now that I am seriously working towards being one, I remember that every day; every time I start to doubt what I'm working on or wonder if I could really do this, I remember that mom has been sure of it for years, and that gives me the drive to keep writing. Even when she doesn't know it, she reminds me every day that I can do this.

My mom has done so much more for me than I could ever possibly thank her for. She has put up with me and all of my crazy (I think probably since the crazy came from her) and is still always there for me whenever I need her, whatever I need her for.

Mom I could never even begin to thank you for everything you do for me, this barely scratches the surface, but I do want you to know that I do truly appreciate everything you do for me. I love you Mommy:) Happy Mother's Day<3

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Disinherited is born!

As some of you know I host writing marathons on Saturdays over at the Word Wars Facebook Group. Unfortunately most of my Saturday was dedicated to planning instead of writing.

A few nights a go I was sitting in bed trying to figure out what it was about my book that wasn't quite clicking. I had changed something major in the plot that day and, even though I knew I liked it much better the new way, I was having a hard time re-working things to make it fit.

Then it hit me.

I was trying to write book 2 before I'd written book 1. There was so much backstory required for my book to make sense that it didn't make sense to have it be the first; I needed to turn the backstory into a book of its own.

So for the past few days I have been occupied trying to figure out what exactly the first book will be. I changed a lot. A LOT. And those changes will greatly impact the second book which will lead to me basically having to start writing it from scratch when I get there. But the thing is, I don't care. I really don't mind. I am so excited at what I have discovered about my books and I know they will be even better for it. I cannot wait to start working on my new book 1, which I have decided to call Disinherited.

I have just finished writing a synopsis for Disinherited and I am so excited I just had to share it with you! So here it is:)

Disinherited (Artisan Chronicles #1)

Anadilyn Kairi is a dead girl walking.

As the Artisan Lord's niece she is the only heir to the Kairi throne and, until now, no one has doubted that she is the perfect choice. But after an accident leaves her terrified of the Fire Arts, her uncle, who was once her biggest fan, decides she is no longer worthy of the throne; Kairis are supposed to be strong and fearless masters of all four Elemental Arts, whereas Anadilyn, terrified of the Fire Arts, will only use three.

No longer a suitable heir to the Artisan Lord, Anadilyn finds herself in a dangerous situation; her uncle cannot name a new heir as long as she is alive, a problem he will not hesitate to resolve. 

Anadilyn does the only thing she can to survive; she runs.

Meanwhile, civil war looms over Antara as rebel uprisings become more frequent and more violent, and the list of safe places for a runaway Kairi grows thin.

The Order of the Kairi wants her dead.

The rebels want to use her to start their civil war.

All Anadilyn wants to do is survive

Isn't it beautiful? Admittedly I suppose I may be a bit bias. I'm just so excited!

That's all for me for today! I'm off to write :)

The Writer in You Blog Hop #1

Welcome to The Writer in You Blog Hop!

Since I just love blog hops oh so much, I decided to host one myself!

There will be no set end date to this blog hop, so whenever you find us feel free to sign up!

This is a blog hop for all you aspiring writers out there. It is a chance to meet other writers and share tips, writing, and experiences, all while gaining new followers for your loverly blog!

I host writing marathons on Saturdays on a Facebook group called Word Wars (today will be our first marathon as well as the first blog hop! Feel free to join us here anytime!). That is partially why I decided to begin The Writer in You Blog Hop; Saturdays are a great day to sit back and write. So what better way to start a Saturday writing session than by thinking about your writing and reading about others? That exactly what this blog hop will be.

The Blog Hop!
Start by adding your name to the list of blogs at the bottom of this page. Then comment on this page letting me know you've joined us!
Then write a post of your own answering the question of that week and link it back to this page; we want as many people as possible to join!
Then: start hopping! Visit as many or as few blogs as you like and be sure to leave a comment on their posts letting them know you stopped by.

The Rules!
There are only 3 rules to this blog hop:
1. Follow me, your blog hop host! Then come back every Friday to find out what Saturday's question will be.
2. Be consistent: Don't forget to post your answer on Saturdays! It gives fellow WIY visitors something to comment on!
3. Grab the blog hop button below and post it on your blog; spread the word!

The Writer in You Blog Hop!

Q: Which author(s) has been your greatest inspiration?

My greatest inspiration, without a doubt, is J.R.R. Tolkien. That's not to say that I try to write like him, I finally broke that nasty habit a few months ago, but The Lord of the Rings remain my go-to whenever I hit a road block. Whether it be watching the movies or reading an excerpt or two, Tolkien's work never fails to remind me why it is I decided to become a writer to begin with: to pull readers into a world of my creation and have them believe it to be real while they are reading.

How about you?

Join the fun! 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Review: Gone by Michael Grant

First Friday Book Review, yay!

Title: Gone
Author: Michael Grant
Pages: 558 Paperback
Publishing Date: April 28, 2009 by HarperTeen
Reason for Reading: Just for fun!
In the blink of an eye. Everyone disappears. Gone.
Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.
It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.

I had wanted to read this book for quite awhile. The only reason I didn't read it until now is I accidentally read the synopsis for Lies (book 3) not knowing it was a part of a series so I had to wait until I forgot about what that ruined for me (I think it had something to do with someone dying but I can't remember, shhhh!)

Overall I have to say I was pretty disappointed, even more so because of how long this book had been on my to-read list. Don't get me wrong, the book was okay, it just was not as gripping as I had hoped it would be.

The book took a really long time to really pull me in. Like 380 pages. That's not to say I wasn't interested throughout the rest of the book, but I didn't have that burning need to read it and find out what happens. I was curious to know, but not desperate.

I think the biggest issue I had with the book was how many characters there were to keep track of. I'm a Tolkien fan so I am no stranger to head-jumping in novels, but it was a little overwhelming in this book. Head-jumping can be a great way to tell a story, getting all the different viewpoints and knowing what's going on with everyone can be a good way to pull a reader in, but first you have to make your reader care about all the characters you are focusing on. If I can't form a connection with a character then I'm not going to care about what's going on with them, I'm just going to push through their chapters hoping the book switches back to someone more interesting. With Gone there were so many characters it was impossible to get close enough to all of them for the head-jumping to be effective. It just became a lot to follow, especially when what was happening to all the characters didn't connect for 200 some pages.

I will say that there were a few scenes, mostly towards the end, that had me hooked; I could not put the book down for the last few scenes, hence why I finished it at 3am. I just would have liked more of the book to have that effect on me.

To wrap up, I'm not going to rush out and buy the next book; I simply do not have that burning need to know what happens next. I do, however, plan on adding the next book to my list of books to-read.

If this book is on your to-read list or the synopsis sounds interesting to you, I would definitely recommend you try it for yourself. The story concept itself is really interesting, the way it was executed just didn't quite work for me. There are tons of people on Goodreads who disagree with me and absolutely loved it; I think this is just a book you either love or you don't.

I probably won't be unlocking this book again anytime soon.

Another Blog Hop! Friday Follow/Feature #1

Well I'm just full of bonus posts this week aren't I?

First I will update that I just finished Gone last night (or Thursday morning..whatever you call 3am) and my review will be up sometime this afternoon. I am going to (attempt) to make a point to post my reviews fairly early on Fridays - it'll give anyone interested enough time to run out and buy the book to read over the weekend ;)

Secondly, my addiction for blog hops has led me to sign up for yet another one!

I'm hoping they don't disqualify me for books only being one thing I blog about...shhhh:)
Although, technically, all I write about is books; the majority of them just aren't published yet :P

Anywho...on to this weeks blog hop question!

Q: This Sunday in the U.S. is Mother’s Day, in celebration, what are some of your favorite books with strong mother/child relationships?

Yikes! That is a tricky question. Oddly enough most books I read don't have much of a relationship between the character and their mother - for some reason authors I read have a tendency to kill off parents. How original, right? (I say the day after I post about writing the scene in which my MC relives her mother's death in a was necessary...:P)
Hmm..goodness I can't even think of one..

I think Harry Potter should count. Lily may have died when Harry was only a baby, but she died protecting him and that sacrifice continued to protect him for 17 years. I'd call that a pretty strong relationship! And then she appears again in book 7 to comfort him as he walks knowingly to his own death.

She gave her life to save him, and then walked with him to his own death.
Even death couldn't separate her from her son forever.
And that, my friends, is dedication.