Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dear Diaries Blogfest

Hey everyone! So as I mentioned in my last post I have decided to host a blogfest in celebration of reaching 100 followers! For the blogfest all participants will turn their blog into a diary for a day by posting 100 random facts about themselves. The idea is to let readers know more about the writers and to make some new friends via similar quirks and favorites. Hope you'll join us!

Okay 100 things ready go!

1. My full name is Katie Elizabeth Conigliaro.
2. My favorite color is limegreen.
3. I love disney movies: Winnie the Pooh and Mulan are my favorite<3
4. Out of my 3 best friends from Grand Valley, I met 2 of them via mutual Doctor Who obsessions.
5. No matter how amazing the next Doctors may be, I will always miss David Tennant.
6. I love Sherlock.
7. I am both a feminist and gay rights activist. I feel very strongly about both.
8. I can quote every single line in Mulan and How to Train Your Dragon.
9. I have an amazing boyfriend named Joe who I have been with for 2 and a half years.
10. I have a beta fish named Capfin Jack. He got his name because Joe and I had a Pirates marathon the day I got him.
11. I will never turn down a slurpee. Ever.
12. I love converse. As soon as one pair wears out I buy a new one; I'm going on year 3 with my current pair.
13. I am absolutely terrified of snakes; needless to say I had multiple heart attacks watching the final Harry Potter movies.
14. My absolute best friend is Kortnee Henski. We've been friends since I was like a year old.
15. I absolutely adore Jennifer Lawrence; I'm pretty sure she's a perfect human being.

16. Kortnee is petrified of owls because of a scary story I told her when we were little.
17. I do not identify with any religion nor do I identify as an Atheist.
18. I am addicted to anime and I'm not afraid to admit it.
19. I absolutely love Fullmetal Alchemist - both original and Brotherhood.
20. If I could do anything in the world without money being an issue it would be to travel. I want to see everything<3
21. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time pretty much sums up my childhood.
22. I am only roughly 16 cards away from owning all 151 original pokemon cards.
23. I'm studying Japanese.
24. My favorite musical of all time is Chicago.
25. I've never left the country. :(
26. I love boots. So much. Last summer Mom gave me the choice between a gorgeous pair of leather boots and a new comforter for college. I took the shoes.
27. I'm dual majoring in Creative Writing and English Language and Literature.
28. I'm planning to minor in Women and Gender Studies
29. For my study abroad I want to go to India next summer and volunteer for the Women Empowerment Program
30. After I graduate I want to take a gap year to travel and volunteer all around the world. I then want to write a book about the entire experience.
31. I'm 5'2 and quite proud of it.
32. Kortnee and I are planning to get matching Pooh Bear tattoos this summer.
33. I'm also pretty sure Tom Hiddleston is a perfect human being.
34. I can be a tad impulsive.
35. I can't draw to save my life but I can color in the lines like a pro.
36. I'm currently working on my first ever contemporary story.
37. I LOVE Mackinac Island Fudge Ice Cream.
38. I'm very sad that spell-check tried to change that to Mackinaw.
39. I love sushi and I'm a boss with chopsticks.
40. Much to Joe's dismay, I remember everything. Always.
41. Severus Snape and Aragorn are my favorite characters of all time.
42. I think everyone should be required to read Thirteen Reasons Why in high school.
43. I know every word to the Candy Mountain song from the first Charlie the Unicorn video...

44. I have a steam-punk necklace I bought at ren fest last summer (necklace in my picture up top) that I wear everywhere because it feels like a little piece of fantasy I can keep with me all the time.
45. Ham and pineapple pizza is delicious.
46. I have number 128 of 1000 signed collector's editions of Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
47. I put peanut butter on my waffles - its the only thing I'll eat peanut butter with.
48. I am in love with Edward Elric, Colonel Roy Mustang, and Greed/Ling from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
49. Almost all of my main characters seem to inherit one of my weird quirks unintentionally.
50. I buy books much faster than I can read them.
51. Cannoli are among the most amazing things ever created by man.
52. I prefer to write down ideas and story planning as opposed to typing them. It makes for a much more open creative process, I think.
53. I make a mean baked potato.
54. I just read Looking for Alaska (and can I just say I was so not prepared for the emotional trauma that book put me through) and now plan to buy every book John Green has ever and will ever write. It is an absolutely beautiful book.
55. It seems like every time I get a cool idea for one of my books I end up reading/seeing something remarkably similar to it right afterwards and then I get really sad.
56. I prefer reading and writing (and doing homework) outside which is my excuse for being so lazy in the winter.
57. I own all 10 seasons of Friends and I've seen every episode about 100 times.
58. I put salt on my watermelon - go ahead and judge.
59. I run another blog about how I view the world called A Dandelion Project.
60. My favorite gum flavor is the orange stride which no one seems to sell.
61. I hate Chinese food.
62. Except for wonton soup. That is delicious.
63. Don't tell me its weird that I hate Chinese food but love Japanese food. They are not the same.
64. I work as a writing consultant on campus.
65. I started writing in 3rd grade.
66. I am a journal addict and I will one day be the founder of journals anonymous.
67. For like the past week I've watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh while trying to fall asleep. Yes, I am 19. Why do you ask?
68. I love the kind of books that make you wish you could sit down and talk to the author.
69. The only time I'm awake at 7am is if I haven't fallen asleep from the day before yet.
70. I always take the tabs off my pop cans.
71. My wrists are ridiculously small.
72. My ears are almost slightly pointed so I always tell people I'm a descendent of Arwen.
73. I have a replica Ocarnia of Time that Joe's family got me for Christmas last year.
74. My Nook cover is designed to look like River Song's journal from Doctor Who.
75. I like sweat pants that I can fit 3 of me in.
76. It makes me laugh when people tell me I can't do anything with a double major in writing and English because I'm overwhelmed by all the directions I have to choose from after college.
77. I really love wearing knee-high socks with shorts.
78. Aside from knee-highs or fuzzy socks I rarely wear socks except in the winter when I have no choice.
79. I didn't realize just how much of a literature geek I was until I got to college.
80. If a movie came out before the 90s I probably haven't seen it.
81. I hated 2001: A Space Odyssey but I still often quote it: "I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."
82. I can speak quite fluently in movie quotes and Eddie Izzard lines.
83. Have I mentioned how much I adore Eddie Izzard? Because I do.
84. People used to always think I was younger than I am and now every one always thinks I'm older than I am. I have no idea why.
85. I prefer planning story ideas in pen to pencil because I prefer scratching out to erasing. Its still there, it was still important, its just not being used in that form anymore.
86. I am incapable of curling my hair.
87. I just love meeting and becoming friends with other writers like me. I've even gained a pen-pal with one:)
88. If I could play any part in any musical ever it would be Velma Kelly from Chicago without a second thought.
89. My second choice would be Maureen from Rent.
90. Ignorance is something I simply cannot tolerate.
91. When I hiccup I actually say hiccup and I almost always hiccup 3 times after I eat. Why? Who knows?
92. I love roller coasters but I get really anxious while waiting in line.
93. My sophomore year of high school our football team made it to the semi-finals so I got to march Spartan Stadium which, even though I'm a Michigan fan, was pretty cool.
94. I have a bit of a minecraft addiction.
95. Joe and I once (or twice...) watched all 3 of the extended edition Lord of the Rings movies all in one day...that was a really really long day..
96. I am in love with the chicken and pesto sandwiches at Fuel, a food place on campus.
97. I have about 20 different laughs and I have no idea where they all came from.
98. I would like to go to graduate school for like 3 different things.
99. Marvel is 100 times better than DC. Its just a fact.
100. More than anything I want my words to change the world.

That was a bit harder than I was expecting it to be! There we are, though. 100 random facts about me, myself, and I:) I hope you'll join the blogfest so we can all get to know each other a bit better! As hard as it was it was fun trying to think of things to list.

Want to join? Just post your list of 100 things (or as many as you were able to think of, haha) and add the link to the post in the list below! I know I said the fest would go through July but since I started it half way through the month and the posts take awhile to come up with I think I'll extend it through August. Hope you'll join!

I'm also happy to announce that my blogger hiatus is officially over and I will be returning to the Diaries, however I will be making some changes, but that is for another post :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dear Diaries Blogfest and an Important Announcement!

I am so late with this post! /smacks wrist Bad, bad Katie.

After only 7 months of blogging (only?) I have reached the 100 follower mark! Thank you so much to all of you who have chosen to support and follow me on this journey. I truly appreciate your support and interest more than you could know.

This blog has come a long way in a mere 7 months. It is certainly no where near where it started, but I love the turns it has taken and what it has turned into. I have already met some amazing people through blogging and I am sure there are more new friends waiting out there; I look forward to meeting you all!

I think my favorite part about the experience so far has been meeting so many people and learning who they are. It's kind of crazy if you think about it. We all follow so many people and read so many of their posts, but we don't really know all that much about most of them. And so, in order to celebrate, I have decided to try something that I hope will be kinda fun.

Introducing the first Dear Diary Blogfest! Everyone who chooses to participate in this blogfest will turn their own blog into a diary for one post by sharing 100 random facts about themselves. The idea is to let everyone get to know the person behind the blogs they follow a bit better and I'm hoping it will lead to new friendships being made over similar quirks and interests. After all...
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”  - C.S. Lewis
 Since I think it will probably take some thought to come up with 100 random facts (I'm hoping I can come up with that many!) this blogfest will span the month of July. That should give plenty of time for anyone who wants to participate to get a post up and for people to blog hop around and make some new friends along the way:)

If you're interested in participating in this lovely blogfest simply post up your 100 random facts and then add the link to your post in the linky list below! I'll be adding a page to the Diaries for the month so people can add their links and find new blogs to check easily.

As for that important announcement. If you have been following me lately I'm sure you have noticed that I haven't been the most consistent little blogger. There has been a lot going on in my head lately that has been distracting me from this and, really, from writing in general. As a result I have decided to take a short blogging hiatus. It won't be anything extreme, hopefully I'll only be gone a week or two, just long enough for me to get some things straightened out. My heart simply has not been in my posts lately because my head is so focused else where, and both the Diaries and my beautiful followers deserve better than that.

I will still be stopping by every single blog who joins in the blogfest and I'm hoping to have my own blogfest post up sometime this week; I am really very excited about it. And I'll still be hopping around to my favorite blogs and reading and commenting as usual. I just won't be posting according to the Diary schedule until I can give it the attention it deserves.

That's all for me today. I really hope many of you will decide to join in on the blogfest; I really think it will be a great way to meet new people and make new friends out there in the crazy blogger community.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bridegroom: An American Love Story

I know I have been a bit inconsistent blogging wise lately and I apologize for that. I'm slowly getting some things worked out so hopefully soon things will be back on track and getting better!

On Fridays I usually post a book review, when I have one to post. Today however I am talking about something quite different and much more important.

I have always firmly believed that love has no restrictions. Love is love. Love is the most beautiful thing one can hope to find in the world and no one should be told that their love is wrong. Because love is beautiful regardless of who it is between, be it and man and a woman or two men. Unfortunately, that is something many people do not understand. There are many people out there who seek to deny people the right to be with who they love merely because they do not approve. It saddens me deeply that we live in a world where people are given the power to dictate the rights of others simply because they disagree. You don't see atheists rising up to make Christianity illegal simply because they disagree with it, and yet for some reason people in this country believe they have the right to control another person based on their personal beliefs, regardless of what the other person's might be. And our society not only allows it, but encourages it.

The world desperately needs someone to shed some light on the truth, someone to show people that love is beautiful and pure regardless of sexual orientation. A man has stepped forward to share his amazing story with the world, but he needs our help to do it.

When Shane's partner, Tom, died in a tragic accident, Shane was left alone and devastated. As if losing the love of his life was not enough, Tom's family threatened to attack him if he came to the funeral, and, of course, because their relationship was not legally recognized he was not given the same legal protections that straight couples receive.

Their's is a story that needs to be told. The world needs its eyes opened and we need to show people that love can and will overcome their ignorant hate.

Below is the video from the project's page on Kickstarter. Please take 5 minutes to listen to his story and, if you are able, please, please consider donating to the project. I would not ask you to do something I would not - I myself have donated $25 to the project- every dollar counts.

Their story has already inspired people not just in the United States but around the world. The world needs this movie. 

If you are interested in becoming a backer to the project please go to its Kickstarter page to make a donation.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Critique: Cornerstone

My critiquing inbox is empty! I really love this segment so I hope you'll keep sending your work in! thefictiondiaries[at]gmail[dot]com!

Now then, onto today's critique. Thank you to Kelly for sending it in!

Mostly, she didn't want to see, but, even knowing what was about to happen, she couldn't help looking through the worn floorboards above.

Crouched in the small space below the kitchens, Mairi held the children tightly in the folds of her dress. “Quiet,” she mouthed at them. Silently, she prayed they would understand. She tried to cover their faces, to bury them in her dirty linen apron so they wouldn't see their mother above. If she was right, no child should see this. Her own daughter clung tightly to her side.

Desperate words came from above. “No, please... No!” The last word came out as a strangled scream. Trembling, the children stayed quiet.

There were two men upstairs. Men who clearly didn't belong here. What about them makes it so clear they do not belong? They had ridden over the hill with the morning sun. Two small dots moving purposefully closer, closer still. An eerie stillness had come over Lady Valencia I love her name! as she waited quietly for their arrival. Mairi was almost positive her mistress not only knew who they were, but why they came. As the men closed the distance to the house, any doubts Mairi might have had about their purpose faded.

The heavy brown cloaks draped securely around their shoulders wore the dust of many days travel. Their sun darkened faces were set, steeled against the task before them. Deftly leaping off his horse, the taller of the men strode toward Lady Valencia. The first rays of sunlight mingled in her hair as she stood on the steps.


Such an ambiguous question, but she didn't ask what he was referring to. There could be only one reason he was here. Loathing boiled unfettered just bellow the surface of his shrewd eyes. And fear, there was definitely fear. She could see it easily on the second man. It all but radiated off him.

“It was the only way,” she said sadly.

“Check inside, make sure there are no others. It ends here,” the tall man said over his shoulder. His partner was still sitting uneasily on his small bay mare. At the barked command he slowly slid to the ground.

The tall one turned back to Lady Valencia. “You would risk all of us, for what? This?” Is he supposed to be gesturing at something here? I understand you are being intentionally vague but this becomes a bit confusing. We can't see what's happening unless you show us. Anger made his voice hard (anger hardened his voice - shows us, don't tell us (cliche, I know) ) as he grabbed her by her hair, dragging her inside. She followed best she could, half standing, half stumbling. Releasing her, he shoved her to the floor near the ancient hearth. He looked up as his partner's footsteps echoed up the stone steps and into the front hall.

“She's alone.” He wouldn't meet her eyes. “The others must have gone with Oren.”

Hearing his name, a small sob escaped from her lips. Whose lips? Mairi or Valencia?

“I think I saw stables out back, check them. We'll need fresh horses. I'll be along” His cold eyes bore into hers while the other man made his way out. “Did they tell you what would happen if you came?” Came where? Doesn't she live there? He pulled a small steel dagger from a fold in his cloak. Good suspenseful ending.

This is an interesting way to start a book. It leaves you with questions which leads you to want to keep reading. You should be careful not to be too vague, though. When you don't explain anything suspense is lost to confusion which isn't nearly as strong a driving force for a book. You don't want to give everything away, but give enough away to keep it interesting.

The only other big suggestion I have is to try to make it more clear who something is referring to. It can get a little confusing between Mairi and Valencia at times.

Whelp, that's it for me. What do you all think? Feel free to share thoughts in the comments! And thanks again Kelly for sharing and good luck with Cornerstone!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Featured Authors: Jack D. Albrecht Jr and Ashley Delay!

As you all know I was fortunate enough to be a part of the blog tour for Osric's Wand: The Wand-Maker's Debate. If you didn't know that then you should hop on over to my review of the wonderful, and I do mean wonderful, book.

As a part of the blog tour we were all given the opportunity to interview the authors. I realize most people posted the interviews with their reviews but I decided to post them separately both because of my ocd requiring I stick to my blog schedule and because it is just one more day that the book gets a little extra attention. Without further ado, the interview!

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? How was the idea for Osric's Wand born? Did one of you have the idea and then bring the other into it, or were you together on it from the start?

Ashley:  The initial idea for the world of Archana is Jack’s.  I was lucky enough that he felt he couldn’t complete it without me, and I got to join him on this amazing adventure.  I will let him tell you about it.

Jack: Well, that is the gist of it.  I had some difficulty writing Bridgett, and I needed help with some other character issues.  I knew that Ashley and I had VERY similar taste in books so i did everything in my power to get her to join me.  I did have to recruit some mob members to help me, and I think she gave in right about the time they took the thumb screws out of the trunk.

Yikes! Well it's a good thing she did! What about the process? I know I've always wondered how people go about collaborating on something like this. How did you go about it? 

Ashley:  We could not have done it without the internet.  We both live very busy lives, between children, jobs, and school.  If we had to be in the same room to work on the book, it would take us ten years to put out a sequel.  We use document software with real-time interactions and a chat window, email, text, phone calls, and the occasional face-to-face brainstorming session while our girls get together to play.

Jack: I have also used food to bribe her to come over, so it isn’t always our girls playing together that allows us some time to discuss in person.  I have some skill in the kitchen, so I use it to get some face to face time as well.

Food is the best bribe ever. I'll show up just about anywhere for some good food! I've always thought I would have a really hard time collaborating with someone on something like this because I tend to know what direction I want to take something in and I get attached to that idea. Did you ever have disagreements about where to take the story?

Ashley: A few times along the way we had a difference of opinion, but most of our disagreements consisted of me thinking I had shared my ideas with Jack, when in fact he had no idea where I was headed with the story, or vice versa.  We always managed to catch up to each other eventually.  Truly though, the story changed so much as we wrote it that most of our plans evolved into something completely different by the time that part of the story arrived.

Jack: Yes, and we settle the disagreements the way any man and woman who disagree would do it; we discuss the issue, and then do what the woman wants!  In reality; we have both had to do some give and take, we have a great friendship and can both understand where the other is going, most times.  We don’t have a whole lot of disagreements about the direction of the story, it is the smaller details that we disagree on the most. 

Do either of you have favorite characters from the book? Anyone who was your favorite to write?

Ashley:  I really enjoyed writing Machai’s part, especially his speech.  Honestly though, the descriptions of the world of Archana were my favorite parts to write.

Jack: Gus is so much fun to write, I can honestly say that I have been caught off guard by some things that he says.  He won’t let me write it any different either!

I can see how Gus would be an interesting character to write. And he definitely seems like the type of character who would take control of how he was being written!

The end of the book just screams sequel. Can we assume there will be a new book to look forward to?

Ashley: You sure can!  The next book in the Osric’s Wand series will be released this fall.  Keep your eye out for The High-Wizard’s Hunt!

Lets learn a little more about the authors. Tell us a little bit about yourselves. 

Ashley:  Well, I am a single mom, I run a therapeutic massage practice and attend school full time for a degree in literature and philosophy, and I enjoy writing fiction as much as I enjoy reading it.  A fun fact...I am a total night owl.  There is absolutely nothing about 5 A.M. that I find enjoyable.

Jack: I am an amateur beekeeper, pharmacy technician, cook, classic car buff, gardener, reader, and father to the most beautiful little girl the world has ever met.  I am also a huge country music fan, and I am a sucker for any tv show with Gordon Ramsay in it!

I completely agree Ashley! The only way I ever see 5am is if I haven't fallen asleep yet!

I've noticed that my main character has acquired a few of my little habits. Did either of you notice anything about you slipping into the characters?

Ashley:  I don’t really feel like the characters in our book have acquired any of my traits, but I certainly feel that there is a lot of me in the world we write in.  An author can’t help but project into their work; I think that is true of any artist.

Jack: I agree; I don’t think any of the characters have any of my habits, but there is a bit of me throughout the book. 

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! And best of luck on your future writings!