Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIP Day - Do You Hear the Muses Sing?

If you follow me on my Facebook page, you already have an idea of what I am about to talk about.  If not... Why aren't you following me?

You can pretty much tell when I am in editing mode.  My apartment is almost always clean, the laundry is always caught up, yummy food is always cooking.  And I am always on sites like Tumblr, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon.  I am a pro procrastinator, remember?

Well, the other day (when I was supposed to be editing), I found myself on Tumblr.  Oh Tumblr.  One of the beautiful banes of my existence.  I was scrolling through my feed, when a certain post caught my eyes.

Raise your hand if you have seen Les Miserables.
(I think most everyone has by now...)

I will be honest: Not the biggest fan of the show.  Don't get me wrong.  The music is gorgeous.  It is a classic.  I grew up in the theatre and hold tremendous respect for the classics.  Still, I can honestly tell you that Les Mis is far from ever becoming one of my favorites.  It holds a special place in my heart due to the fact that the first solo I ever sang in Middle School choir was "Castle on a Cloud" (which then became my staple solo all three years of middle school.  I wonder if there is a recording of twelve year old me out there somewhere...)  Halfway through the movie though... and I was ready to call it done.

Back to my original topic.
The set I saw posted on Tumblr was from the song "Do You Hear The People Sing?"  Love that song.  I do.  And the scene was great too, young men and women riding atop a horse drawn hearse.  Epic.  This gif set had the words written on it, and I sat there happily singing along.

Want to see the set?  Then click away.

About halfway through singing, something awesome happened.  That little muse of mine sang loud and clear.
I finished the singing, then sat back and forced myself to blink.  I think my eyes literally popped out of my head.  It is always amazing when the muse strikes, and I was far from expecting it at that moment.  Remember: I was busy procrastinating.

With that simple set of that amazing song, a scene popped into my head for LJ.  There has been that nagging feeling that something has been missing from my book and I have been struggling to put my thumb on it.  Then wham, there it was.  I heard those people sing, and before I knew it I was creating.

My hubby came home to find me sitting at my desk, staring at my wall where the note cards holding all the scenes of my book are tacked up.  He must have understood the look on my face, because he didn't call the nut house.  How sweet of him.

What does all this rambling mean?
It means I have another 1-3 chapters plotted to add to the book.  Chapters I am super excited about, and cannot wait to pluck out once I get to that stage of this round.  Hello fire under my butt, you burn again.


- On a total side-note:
My pair of glasses from Firmoo finally arrived!  I received a free pair, with the promise to post a fair and honest review of what I think of these spectacles.  That review should be up in a week or two, once I really try these bad boys out.  But, since I am in a good mood (and because I for once am not caring how ridiculous I might look), here is a quick shot of me, courtesy of my phone.
Rocking the geek!





Oh yeah, and have you noticed?  I changed up the look of the blog.  What do you think?

Happy Writing!



Monday, January 28, 2013

Young Adult Giveaway HOP


Welcome to the Young Adult Giveaway Hop!

It is no secret that I am a major fan of YA books.  Heck, that is the very genre I write!  I find it funny that as a young adult, I read epic fantasy and chapter books bigger than my head.  Now, as a full blown adult, I have taken sanctuary in the section supposedly reserved for teens.

The Young Adult genre isn't just for teens though, is it.  It is for every reader out there who wants to dive into a story about a young adult.  From Contemporary struggles to post-apocalyptic thrillers, the YA genre has it all.

Isn't it great?

For my giveaway stop, I decided to give the ONE winner a choice between two great YA reads.  One is part three of a gripping sci-fi adventure, the other a touching story about a boy who overcomes the loss of his voice.

Shades of Earth
By Beth Revis

(This is book three in the trilogy.  If you win and would prefer one of the other books, just let me know)
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

FUELED BY LIES.

RULED BY CHAOS.

ALMOST HOME.

OR


What I Didn't Say
By Keary Taylor

(Who knows, if you are State-side and win, I just may ship you a signed copy from the author!)
Getting drunk homecoming night your senior year is never a good idea, but Jake Hayes never expected it all to end with a car crash and a t-post embedded in his throat.

His biggest regret about it all? What he never said to Samantha Shay. He's been in love with her for years and never had the guts to tell her. Now it's too late. Because after that night, Jake will never be able to talk again.

When Jake returns to his small island home, population 5,000, he'll have to learn how to deal with being mute. He also finds that his family isn't limited to his six brothers and sisters, that sometimes an entire island is watching out for you. And when he gets the chance to spend more time with Samantha, she'll help him learn that not being able to talk isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Maybe, if she'll let him, Jake will finally tell her what he didn't say before, even if he can't actually say it.

OR

$10 Amazon Giftcard

RULES:

  • I am not requiring you to be a follower to enter this time.  Just enter via the Rafflecopter below!
  • If you would like extra chances to win, choose the following options listed.  I love my followers!
  • Giveaway will run until February 4th.  The winner will be announced February 5th.
  • There will be ONE winner.
  • This giveaway is International.  Winner must live where The Book Depository ships.
  • The Winner will have 48 hours to respond.  If you win and I don't hear from you, I will redraw!


Make sure to check out all the other blog stops too! -> HERE 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review - Paranormalcy

Paranormalcy
by Kiersten White

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Evie's always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours.

But Evie's about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.


Why I Picked this Book:  I have seen this book around for some time and heard great things about.  Not to mention I identically bought book two a year ago, and finally decided it was time to give in and get book one and start in on it.


My Thoughts:
The cover is just gorgeous, the overall plot intriguing, and the opening sentence promises humor and a light-hearted read.  (A vampire stuttering and confused due to the protagonist yawning as he attacks.)

While I was pulled into the story and did overall enjoy it, I have to admit it was not what I was hoping for.  It is a well spun story about a girl who has been raised in an underground paranormal tagging facility.  Since Evie was little, she worked for IPCA, due to her special ability to see through glamours.  But now a teen, she is yearning for one thing: normal life.

Then the paranormals start to die.
One by one they are hunted down.  And Evie just might be the connection between the hunter and their deaths.

Like I said, the story was very gripping.  But the main character, along with other aspects,
I had a very hard time connecting with Evie.  She was raised hunting down paranormals to tag (aka keep track of), yet she barely knows how to fight.  She solely relies on her little stun gun she lovingly named "Tasey."  All she seems to care about is herself, how she doesn't go to public school, how much she loves her teenage soap opera she watches daily... She is very self-centered and honestly, annoying.  Pretty much: An a-typical teenage girl.

As the plot progressed, it became hard for me to tell who the actual bad guy was.  Reth, the creepy faerie who seems intent on making Evie his.  The mysterious fire woman who is killing paranormal after paranormal.  All of the above?  Maybe?  Both were intimidating in their own ways, leaving me to wish I had gotten the chance to know more about their evil selves.

Regardless, I kept reading.  I was intrigued with Lend, the boy who breaks into the facility in hopes of finding a way to stop the murders and instead finds Evie.  Yes, there is a love story in here.  And I would easily fall for Lend.  He is a paranormal in his own way, and watching his character develop and grow was awesome.  I just wonder why he fell for Evie...

I have been battling about what to rate this book.  I finally settled on 3 stars because yes, I did enjoy it.  A younger reading audience would most likely thoroughly enjoy this read.  Regardless of the things that bugged me, it was very well written.  I laughed.  I kept reading.  And I do plan to read the rest of the series.  I am hoping Evie gets over herself a bit more, and for goodness sake learns how to fight and throws that Tasey away!

My Rating:
(3 out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIP Day - Round Two Begins

Ding ding ding!
Round One: DONE!

That's right.  This last week I got my bum in gear and finished round one of LJ's edit.  Then I sat back, took a deep breath, and dove into Round Two.  No breaks for me.

I have had some questions on how I am going about editing this thing.  Like I have told some of you, every author approaches editing their MS in a different way.  My own editing style is still evolving and changing with every book.  Still, I thought it would be fun to let you know about the rounds I have done so far, in this crazy thing I call book editing.

Round One:  The Read-Thru
I  let my MS sit for at least a month.  I have tried to not think about it (too much) and have eaten lots and lots of chocolate.  This round then consists of reading through the entire story.  I don't edit (unless I see something that just bugs me so much that I cannot handle it.)  Instead, I take notes of each chapter.  I write down what happens, thoughts to remember, moments to change.  Everything gets written down, with good old pen and paper.


Round Two:  The Tear-Down
I start this round with something I love doing.  Remember those notes I took?  Well, I gather my index cards, and chapter by chapter I write out the scenes that take place.  Then I clear a space on my wall, and cover it with my book.  Being able to see my book spread out before me is amazing.  I can see the flow of the chapters, the balance (or unbalance), and it helps me as I progress further into editing.  Not to mention it is just so dang pretty.

After that, I eat more chocolate and force my bum in the chair.  This is the long round.  In this round, I go chapter by chapter and tear it apart.  I rewrite sections, add and subtract, bang my head on the desk and eat more chocolate.  This is where I really start to create the story.  And no doubt this may take the longest out of all the rounds.


That is where I am at right now.  
My notes are scribbled.  My wall is covered.  And LJ is waiting to be hacked away at.  I am excited.  And nervous.  And already exhausted.  But it is happening!  My goal is to be finished with this round by the end of February.  Sooner maybe, if I can keep my bum in gear.

And once I get it done, I will get to tell you about one of my favorite rounds.  Round Three.  Oh man.

See?  Isn't it just too pretty?


Are you editing?  Just writing?  Do share!

Happy Writing!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

WIP Day - My Newest Writing Fuel

I think I have found one of my ultimate editing fuels:
Italian Sodas

Let me explain.
A few years back, my hubby and I went through an Italian soda craze.  We went to the local Cash 'n Carry and stocked up on flavors and became pros at making those yummy drinks.  Then we moved apartments.  For some reason, after settling into our new place, we packed the syrups  into the back of a cupboard, hidden behind lids and plastic containers, and forgot about them.

Until this week.
While cleaning, I remembered the hidden syrups.  I pulled them out, fully intent on just tossing them out.  I have been big lately on dejunking, and was pretty excited to add something else to the stack of "this will go."

A friend who is visiting saw the syrups and stopped me.  After looking up info online (and yes, after subjecting each other to taste test as well) we found the syrups were still very much yummy.  So, when I was out and about to mail packages and pick up kiddos, I swung into the store for club soda and half & half.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Never let me pack those syrups away again.

My night: Italian soda, editing, then a reading reward
I made a raspberry one.  Then a peach one.  Once I got to that final drop of drink number two, I realized something.  I had also edited (remember, doing the initial read-thru at the moment) about 8 chapters, and found myself only 5 chapters away from finishing this round.  Keep in mind: Earlier this week I slacked major time and pretty much got no work done.  Nada.  It was bad.

I owe the progress all to the fizzy goodness.

(And might I add: I have been working hard on weening caffeine out of my must-have diet.  Suffering from the headaches has sucked, but I am looking at the long run.  I want soda to be a treat, not a life source.  So finding other treats that I equally love but that don't send me into caffeine overload mode is a major plus.)

So there you have it.  At this moment, I am sitting with a Pineapple Coconut Italian Soda in front of me.  My notes are out, and once this post is done I plan to finish the read through of LJ.  *sips drink and smiles*

What's next you ask?
After this read-thru, I begin the tear down.  I will go through each chapter and really get into it.  My thoughts are here scribbled.  My notecards are ready to be taped to the wall.  It will happen.  It is happening.

*sips drink again*


How about you?  Is your week going well?  Do share!

Happy Writing!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Review - Crewel

Crewel
by Gennifer Albin

Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
Enter a tangled world of secrets and intrigue where a girl is in charge of other’s destinies, but not her own.

Sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has always been special. When her parents discover her gift—the ability to weave the very fabric of reality—they train her to hide it. For good reason, they don’t want her to become a Spinster — one of the elite, beautiful, and deadly women who determine what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die.

Thrust into the opulent Western Coventry, Adelice will be tried, tested and tempted as she navigates the deadly politics at play behind its walls.  Now caught in a web of lies and forbidden romance, she must unravel the sinister truth behind her own unspeakable power.  Her world is hanging by a thread, and Adelice, alone, can decide to save it — or destroy it.

Why I Picked This Book:  Honestly, the cover was the first thing to draw me in.  Then I read the synopsis and instantly grabbed it.  Time weaving?  Oh yes.

My Thoughts:
Crewel took me on a ride, and dropped me off at a stop I now have to wait impatiently for the next pickup.  With the feel of being based off of Greek mythology (which is something I have been craving badly), Crewel presents the idea that everything, every little thing, has been woven around us.  Girls with the ability to see the threads are taken from their homes and turned into Spinsters.  From there, they have to devote the rest of their lives to weaving weather, food, births... and deaths.

Adelice tried to hide her talent.  She had no idea why, but her parents insisted that no one should know she could weave.  Of course, she slips.  And the Coventry comes for her.

Did I mention they have no say in whether they go or not? 
It is join the Coventry and become a Spinster... or be killed.

I have to admit, I had my ups and downs with this novel.  There were aspects that I almost rolled my eyes at, or groaned when reading.  There were many moments that did feel as if they dragged on and I was almost (almost) tempted to skim them.  But then a moment happened that completely trapped me, and I was pulled back into the story.

Adelice was a strong female protagonist.  Though I did have a hard time connecting with her, I still found myself rooting her on.  And at most times, saying something like: "Come on! Do *insert spoiler type idea here* right now!"

Yes, there is a slight love story involved.  Luckily, the entire novel doesn't seem to lean on that aspect though.  Adelice seems more worried about her family than this love, though it does become a driving force for her and all her actions.

Many things were guessable.  But I was okay with that.  It felt good to know things before the characters did, though some of the reveals could have been a bit more dramatic.  Still, I felt the story did flow well and was woven (ha, get it?) nicely.

Crewel is the controlling, "Do as I say" intensity of the Hunger Games, meets slight Greek Mythology, meets intense nunnery.  All in all, I enjoyed this read and look forward to book two.

My Rating:
(4 out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WIP Day - Diving In

I just have to start this post with:
It feels SO good to be able to write a WIP Update post again!

All of December was a break month for me.  I had finished the first rough draft of LJ.  I was almost caught up on my photography backlog.  And my mind had earned a rest.  So I closed Word and promised myself I would not even peek at LJ for the entire month.

And I can honestly say I did not peek.
(It think it helps that December also sported our car being totalled, holiday chaos, plus numerous other events that kept me nicely insane.)

Then came the new year, and with that the next stage of this bookish process.  Editing.
Yes, the dreaded editing.

Last week I opened the doc back up, grabbed some snackage and Mt. Dew, and started stage one of editing.  The initial read through.  I was more than dreading it.  I was expecting that I would open the document, start reading, find the complete nonsensical gibberish I had spewed out, and officially declare a complete bust.

Luckily, it hasn't been so.
I am now halfway down with the read through.  And I can honestly say: I am feeling it!  There are most definitely many spots that need attention, love, filling and fixing.  But then I find that gem that makes me sit back and think: "This is not crap" and I feel that surge once again of "I can do this!"

And doing this I am!
Are you excited?


Related but unrelated:
I just had to share this.  My friend Melissa, along with Kaeli and her awesome jewelry line (Love, Kaeli Cheyenne) totally conspired against me.  But in an awesome way.  As a (very) belated birthday present, this week I found a post on my Facebook wall showing off this gorgeous earring and necklace set.  Does it look familiar?  It should!  I have to admit I got maybe a smidge too giddy when I saw it.  I cannot wait to actually have this jewelry in hand so I can sport it around for all to see.  Thank you, ladies!


And one more thing:
I am prepping for a giveaway.  Once I have everything I need for it, I will let you all know.  If you follow me on my Facebook page, you might have a slight idea of what that something is.  Keep your eyes out!


How has your new year been so far?  Write much?  Do share!

Happy Writing!


Monday, January 7, 2013

Welcome 2013!

Hello blogging world!

I know it has been a long, dry spell of "where did the posts go?"  Life has been insane for me.  My photography took off in 2012.  Which is an awesome thing.  With over 30 sessions, including three weddings and a month long personal challenge, my days were filled with photo snapping and mass editing.

Sadly, this meant that my writing took a huge hit.  (AKA it pretty much didn't happen.)  The biggest hit: This blog.  By halfway through 2012 my blog posts were happening slim to never, and my attempted book edit for ITB died.  Though I did manage to participate and win NaNoWriMo yet again, that was the highlight of my writing year.

Although I do have to add:
Prison Nation did amazing!  After I did my first free promo weekend in the spring of 2012, sales picked up and readers rolled in. The overwhelming support, love, and amazing reviews lifted me daily and helped remind me why I love what I do.  (I will make another more in-depth post on this later this month.)

While I am far from quitting my photography, I hate how much my writing got pushed to the back burner.  This just will not do.  And so, with 2013... things are changing back to how they should be!

Goal 1:  Edit!  My aim is to have LJ published by the end of the summer.  If all goes right, that is a very attainable goal.  I have already started the first edit round and I am so excited to get this done!
Goal 2:  Read!  Oh my, how I missed reading.  I have stacks upon stacks on my TBR shelves, and this year, I will hack away at that.  
Goal 3:  Blog!  Remember that three-day-a-week post schedule I used to be on?  Well, I am getting back on it.  WIP Updates, book reviews, giveaways, random thoughts and tips... It is all coming back.  Oh yes.

I am so excited for 2013.  I have the feeling it will be an awesome year.  Great things are in store, and we have the entire year ahead of us to see what happens.

Happy New Year to every single one of you.  May your goals be met, your resolutions remembered, and the pages of your stories filled.

Happy Writing!


Friday, January 4, 2013

Book Review - Origin

Origin
by Jessica Khoury

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.


Why I Picked This Book:  I saw it listed on Breathless Reads, and instantly knew I wanted to read it.

My Thoughts:
Pia was created to be perfect.  She has been told this since the moment she was born, and she will live forever.  Perfect.  Hidden in a little science camp in the Amazon, she is trained from birth to be a scientist, with one goal in mind: Create more like herself.  But what will happen when she discovers the secrets teeming under the surface of Little Cam?

Overall, I enjoyed this book.  Mankind has always been in the search for eternal life.  Holy Grails.  Fountains of youth.  You name it, we have looked for it.  The idea that, in Origin, they found it in a flower tucked away in the Amazon, and managed to create a perfect human being over generations, is awesome.

Pia, as the main character, was an interesting read.  She starts out the book very, very confident in herself. She knows she is perfect.  (Mostly due to the fact that every single person in Little Cam has told her that nonstop since she was born.)  She knows what she will do with her life.  (Work with the scientists to create others just like her.)  And she seems pretty happy with it all.

Then of course, life takes a twist.

In come a new scientist, who Pia instantly hates.  I was not sure if it was jealousy issues because this scientist was gorgeous and all the older men fawned all over her.  Or if it was because it was a new person, being as most people in Little Cam were born there.  Did I mention that Pia is the youngest there, by I am assuming at least eighteen years?  And very, very sheltered?

Next thing you know, Pia is sneaking off into the jungle.  Breaking rules.  And doubting almost everything she was raised to believe.

Her character does grow through the book.  She is very much a teenage girl, wanting to believe she is the best to ever exist, but coming to learn that she is just another human fighting to live.

Enter Eio.  The half-native boy who lives in the jungle and captures Pia's heart.  While I did enjoy this character, he also did tend to bug me.  He, like Pia, is very self-assured.  He is attractive, strong-willed, and obviously thinks highly of himself.  Is there something in the Amazon that causes too much self-confidence?

While I am not one to fight insta-love, this one did slightly bug me.  Talk about love at first sight.  Yes, they are both hotties.  And yes, Eio does give Pia something she has never had: Life beyond the fences.  I guess I would have liked to see at least one more day of "Hello, who are you?" before they were planning their fairy tale wedding and he was claiming her to be his forever.

Now, as for the scientists.  Though it does get old that most scientists are perceived as cold, work-devoted drones, I liked it in this novel.  These are scientists who have willingly devoted 30 years (or more) of their lives to this project.  Of course they would be drone-ish.  They hide away any evidence of life outside the fence, in hopes it will help keep Pia focused.  And of course, they hide away secret after secret about what they are truly doing.  I was intrigued with the scientists, and oddly felt myself rooting for them.

While parts of this book did get at me, I liked it.  Khoury created a world that I can say I would not want to be part of, but was intrigued to dive into.  I recommend this book to anyone looking for a light science fiction read.

My Rating:
(3 out of 5 stars)

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