Monday, 30 June 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #4

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! My co-hosts, Alison Miller, KatyUpperman, Jaime Morrow, and I hope you’re looking forward to another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, or planning like crazy, plus a way to keep each other accountable. We’ll be sharing our goals on Mondays and keeping our posts brief (2-3 lines per heading tops) in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and remember to hop around to encourage other participants. For more info on RSW and a link to our lovely stash of buttons, click here.

How I did on last week’s goals:

Everything checked off. I reread half of ENGRAVE, filled in plot gaps in ENLIGHTEN, sorted out my plot arc diagram, and organized a very detailed outline that includes all my notes. I did my research, which yielded unexpected results that added something huge to my story.

My goals for this week:

I’d like to reread the second half of ENGRAVE and fix a few minor issues I’ve come across. I also want to figure out some key aspects of the first scene in ENLIGHTEN and start drafting (EEK!).  Story intros are hard, so I’m only going to aim for 1000 words for starters.

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

He stands on the far side of the casket, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, pain chiseled into his features like an epitaph. Against the blanket of snow and the pallor of his skin, the welt brands his cheek, as red as the long-stemmed rose he holds.

The biggest challenge I faced this week :

Blah. Besides having dental surgery AGAIN (oh joy and bliss), I was slammed with some health issues this week that are putting a major kink in writing and life in general. Not fun.

Something I love about my WIP:

I’ve known how my trilogy was going to end since shortly after conceiving the premise for the entire series. Working on plotting book three this week has me in love with how everything is going to finally play out and wrap up. I’m both sad and happy to be at this point.


Friday, 27 June 2014

My Character Bloghop

I’ve been tagged by Cole in the My Character Bloghop, which means I get to share a few details about my main character with you. I’ve never really talked much about Naia on my blog, so it’s kind of exciting to introduce her. Thanks for tagging me, Cole!

I’ve mentioned many times that I’m currently writing sci-fi (with elements of cyberpunk), but while my trilogy (Envision, Engrave, and Enlighten) revolves around technology and I’ve tried to construct an intriguing plot, I’d have to say the characters are really the driving force in my story. Naia is the stubborn character that lodged herself in my head and refused to leave, which is why I’m getting ready to draft a third book about her in the next little while.

So here’s a bit about her…

1. Naia wants to be a photojournalist and to travel the world. While she loves photography and has an eye for spotting rare fragments of beauty in her urban surroundings, this is also a means of escaping her current life.

2. Since her mother’s death, her father has neglected her, devoting himself entirely to his work as a neurotechnologist and leaving Naia to cope on her own.

3. Like many people in 2043, Naia has a Port in her neck. Ports are implants that digitally enhance human minds, giving them all the capabilities and convenience of a computer. This is how she listens to music, watches TV, surfs the net, etc. Her dad is the scientist who invented the Ports.

4. After witnessing her dad’s murder, Naia ends up on the run and with a target on her back. Good thing she’s smart, feisty, and used to fending for herself.

5. She’s willing to sacrifice for those she loves and to make things right again, even if that means giving up her happiness or her life.

The song that best sums up my character would be Open Your Eyes by Snow Patrol, which is also quite possibly my favourite song ever. I've had the opportunity to see Snow Patrol perform it live, which was incredible:


It’s hard to sum Naia up in only five points, as it would be with most main characters, but that’s at least a little glimpse of who I spend hours of my time with lately. Hope you enjoyed making her acquaintance!

And now, I’m tagging my sister, Jaime. I know, big surprise, right? 


Thursday, 26 June 2014

It's the big day for ONE TWO THREE!


Today is the official debut of Elodie Nowodazkij's YA contemporary romance, One Two Three! I’m very excited to see Elodie sending her book out into the world and to be a part of her book blitz. Take a look below for info on Elodie and her novel, plus awesome giveaways!

If you’d like to win an ebook of One Two Three, leave a comment that indicates you’d like to be entered in the draw. For other awesome prizes—a signed paperback copy of One Two Three, a $50 gift card for either Amazon or B&N, and a $25 donation to the literacy project of your choice—enter on the rafflecopter.

When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love.

Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive.

But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career.

At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell.

But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?


*You can purchase One Two Three at these links: Amazon, B&N, iTunes, or kobo.

Here’s a bit about Elodie:

Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she'd never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master's degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn't seem to realize he's not human), and uses her commuting time to write the stories swirling in her head. She's also a serial smiley user.

Check out One Two Three on Goodreads or follow Elodie at these links:


Q&A with Elodie:

1. You’re French and live in Germany…but you write in English. How come?

I lived in the United States, in Maryland, for quite a few years, first as an “au pair” and then as a university student. I’m a proud Retriever and a proud Terps J, having received a BA from the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and my first Master’s from the University of Maryland at College Park. Writing in English just seems to be more “natural” for me. But maybe one day, I’ll write a novel in French too.

2. What was your inspiration for ONE, TWO, THREE?

I used to love dancing ballet as a kid, and I won a writing contest to go see the Opera de Paris. We saw the dancers train, it was magical. Those moments stayed with me.

Then, one day, I was talking about the movie Center Stage on Twitter and Natalya’s voice came into my head. At first, all I knew was that she was seventeen and an accident had killed her hope of becoming a professional ballerina...The accident turned into a car crash that also took her father’s life. Natalya’s voice was sad and broken, but full of want. From there on, it became her story.

3. The family from Natalya, the main character in your novel, originally comes from Russia. How did you do your research?

The name of my main character was actually inspired from my mother-in-law, who moved to Germany from Russia about 20 years ago. My husband, who was born in the Ukraine, still speaks Russian with her, and I learned a lot from them. His family is the one who taught me there’s a Russian proverb for every situation, and some of Natalya’s favorite food is also mine.

4. Can we expect more books to come with Natalya & Tonio?

Yes. But I’m not planning a sequel. There will be at least two companion novels to One, Two, Three. The first one will be published in November 2014. It will focus on Emilia, Nata’s friend at the School of Performing Arts. It’s entitled ALWAYS SECOND BEST, and you can already find it on Goodreads. The second companion novel will be focusing on Becca, Nata’s best friend. Publication will be in early 2015.

An excerpt from One Two Three:

The shortcut to the lake from our home is a dirt road that isn’t well lit, but I know the way by heart. I hurry down the path, tuning my iPod to Chopin’s happier music. But I can’t drown out Mama’s voice. It resonates in my head. It’s my fault! I know she’s wrong because she’s not the one who killed him. I did. If only I didn’t get into an argument with him in the car. If only I had warned him about the truck. I bite back a sob and rip off my knee brace to walk even faster. At first, my knee is stiff, but at least I can extend my leg much better now.
Seeing the lake calms me down, soothes me. This place is always crowded in the summer, but on this crisp September night, there’s no one. The lights surrounding the area flicker, the tall trees leave interesting shadows on the ground, and a discarded pink umbrella stands next to the bench by the grilling area. I turn up the volume of my iPod even more, settle on the bench, and search through my backpack. My pointes show the wear and tear of the last years, and no matter how much I scrub, there’s one smudge that doesn’t want to go away.

Memories flash back when I slip them on: my father handing me a bouquet of lilies after each of my recitals, the crew from the School of Performing Arts sneaking out to get ice cream, the summers I spent on the raft at the lake with Becca and my babushka, the hours at the barre.
Everything’s gone.
Dancing’s always been my escape from reality: from the fights my parents had more and more often, from my babushka passing away all alone at the hospital because no one told me she was sick, from my fears of letting anyone get really close.
Dancing’s always been my future.
Dancing’s always been who I am. So even if I can’t dance like I used to, even if I can’t put too much pressure on my knee, I’m convinced I’ll train my way back to the top, that I’ll show Dr. Gibson and the rest of them that they got it wrong, when they said it was very unlikely I would ever go back on stage. Juilliard postponed my audition and the director of the School of Performing Arts said he was holding a spot for me if I wanted to come back. If I could come back.
I use the bench as my own personal barre, slowly bend my knees, keeping them over my toes. Grounding my heels on the ground, I stretch down as much as I can, but I don’t make it past a demi-plié. I warm up for ten minutes, losing myself in the familiar movements. The stars reflect on the water; it could be the perfect backdrop for a production of Swan Lake. I wish I could position myself for a grand jeté, feel the wind surround me as I fly into the air, but I know better than to jeopardize the progress I’ve made. The last time I tried, my kneecap almost snapped again. Both my knees were smashed in the car crash, but my pivot leg suffered the most.
I angle my feet for some small pas de bourrée. I go faster and faster, until I bump into a rock. Fear steals my breath away. I avoid landing on my leg and instead fall on my ass.

Remember to indicate in the comments if you’d like to win an ebook of One Two Three and on the rafflecopter for other great prizes! And now I’m off to relax and read some One Two Three myself!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!


No post from me this week, seeing as I have minor surgery today. The ongoing saga of dental work continues. Hope all of you are having a lovely week filled with lots of great writing!


Monday, 23 June 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #3

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! My co-hosts, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Jaime Morrow, and I hope you’re looking forward to another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, or planning like crazy, plus a way to keep each other accountable. We’ll be sharing our goals on Mondays and keeping our posts brief (2-3 lines per heading tops) in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of our host blogs each week, and remember to hop around to encourage other participants. For more info on RSW and a link to our lovely stash of buttons, click here.

How I did on last week’s goals:

I want to finish my list of fiddly details, research some Romantic era poetry, divide my ms (ENGRAVE) into chapters, rewrite the start of one scene, finish gathering my notes for book 3 (ENLIGHTEN), and start a plot arc diagram. Whew! It was tough to squeeze it all in, but I managed to get everything done.

My goals for this week:

I plan to reread at least half of ENGRAVE, continue to plot ENLIGHTEN and have a tentative outline and plot arc diagram in place. I also want to do some research that will determine a major aspect of the plot.

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised: 

The thick blanket of clouds has dissipated, and the snow glows a pure, radiant white, mimicking the stars that crust the obsidian sky like a spray of ice chips. If only all revelations were so beautiful once the veil was torn away.

The biggest challenge I faced this week :

This week I was so busy and exhausted I was running on adrenaline fumes. At one point, I was so fried I actually tried using my laptop mouse to move the cursor on my phone while texting Jaime. Major brainfart. In hindsight, I probably should’ve set a few less goals and gotten a few more hours of sleep.

Something I love about my WIP:

My characters. I got to explore the entire spectrum of emotions with them in this ms. They make mistakes, but they also grow a lot, and I’d like to think they’re pretty kickass. I’m dreading saying goodbye to them once I’m done this trilogy.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

What I’m Reading:

I just finished The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle and had mixed feelings on it. I enjoyed aspects of the romance but felt like the story focused for too long on the physical relationship between the characters, rather than fleshing out some other parts of the story that could have been more interesting.  Weirdly, seeing as I write sci-fi, there were a couple specific details and one big scene that were similar to my book. The setting and the characters' whole philosophical conversation in that scene were very, very close. I'm always disappointed when that happens, but I also feel a certain affinity with authors whose thoughts run in the same direction as mine.

Now I'm a few chapters into More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs and wishing I could read it straight through in one sitting!

What I’m Writing:

I’ve still been up to my eyeballs in fiddly tasks like correcting little inconsistencies, adding in some final details, and switching out overused gestures and words in my WIP, Engrave. Pretty mind numbing stuff for the most part, but it’s going well. I’ve also been compiling notes for Enlighten, the third book in my trilogy. I’ve been jotting down plot ideas and snippets of dialogue and scenes for over two years now, so you can imagine how many notes I have. Yep. I’m an obsessive planner. Big time. As I’ve been sifting through my notes, I’m realizing that what I put my characters through in Envision and Engrave is nothing compared to what they’re about to face in Enlighten. It’s going to a very bumpy ride.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

In the spirit of celebrating YA literature, Jaime and I both decided to use this section over the next while to share what inspires us most about our favourite teen-oriented books.

One of the things I love about YA is the emphasis on “firsts.” There’s something so inspirational in reading about new experiences, reaching milestones, a fresh outlook, venturing into unfamiliar territory. Sometimes those firsts are wonderful and exciting, and other times they’re harrowing and painful. Either way, they’re a great reminder to approach life with courage and a sense of adventure, to never stop pursuing those momentous occasions, embarking on new journeys, and cherishing what you learn along the way. No matter what age you are.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

Strawberry Lemon Yogurt Cake &
Pomegranate Rosehip iced tea
Making different flavours of iced tea in the new David’s iced tea carafe my husband surprised me with, baking strawberry lemon yogurt cake (never comes out of the pan great but always tastes delicious), watching The Edge of Tomorrow at the theatre on Father’s Day (loved it!), organizing and creating curriculum for my son, Skyping with Jaime, going for walks and getting pooped on by a bird with very good aim, participating in Elizabeth Briggs’s book blitz for More Than Music. If you missed my post on More Than Music yesterday, you can read it and enter one of two awesome giveaways here.

Hope all of you are enjoying your week! And remember, if any of you are looking for some incentive to write this summer, it's not too late to join us for Ready. Set. WRITE!


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Book Release: MORE THAN MUSIC by Elizabeth Briggs


Hey people! Today is the official release date for More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs, and I’m super psyched to help kick off her book blitz! Keep reading for an author interview, a peak at her awesome playlist, and a juicy excerpt from this first book in her contemporary NA Chasing the Dream series!

In celebration of More Than Music’s release, there are prizes! Name your favourite band in the comments section, and I’ll put you in a draw for an ebook of More Than Music. (FYI mine is Snow Patrol)

You can also enter on the rafflecopter below to win a signed paperback of More Than Music with bookmarks or a paperback copy of Fifty FirstTimes: A New Adult Anthology. Both contests are open internationally and the deadline for entering is June 24, 2014.


Music major Maddie Taylor seems to have her life all figured out. She’s just finished her junior year of college, has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, and plans to go to grad school to write movie scores. Only her roommates know she practices guitar every night and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don’t get to be rock stars.

Tattooed singer Jared Cross has a new girl every week, but when he catches Maddie playing one of his songs, she attracts his attention in an unexpected way. His band needs a fourth member for The Sound, a reality TV show competition—and he wants her. Though Maddie refuses to be another notch on Jared’s bedpost, she agrees to risk everything for the chance to be a rock star.

Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared behind his flirty smile, and with each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore. When the show pressures Jared to flaunt his player image, they’re forced to keep their relationship secret, but Maddie can’t help but want something real.


As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.



*You can purchase More Than Music on Amazon or Barnes & Noble at these links.



A quick author intro:

Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.

You can find More Than Music on Goodreads.com and follow the author at these links:



Q&A with Elizabeth Briggs:

Where did you get the idea for More Than Music?

I went to high school for a short time with Adam Levine and Maroon 5, back when they were called Kara’s Flowers. They played at our school dances and I sat behind them in class and was completely in love with them. Of course, they had no idea I existed! Many years later I saw Adam Levine on The Voice, and had the idea of a geeky girl joining an up-and-coming rock band at her school and going on a show like The Voice, and the book grew from that.

What kind of research did you do for More Than Music?

Most of the research I did was on the music in the book, because I really wanted to get that right. I play the guitar but I’m not great at it because I don’t have time to practice regularly. Still, I tried to learn many of the songs that Maddie performs so I could describe the way it feels when you’re actually playing them. I studied a lot of guitar tutorials, live performances by the original bands, and covers by other bands. I also watched documentaries on what it’s like to be in a band, especially in high stress situations. And of course, I watched many episodes of The Voice!

How did you pick the songs in More Than Music?

I tried to pick songs that are well-known because I wanted anyone who is a fan of rock music to recognize most of them by name (especially since I couldn’t include lyrics due to copyright issues). I also chose songs that reflect what the characters are experiencing in the book, so that each song is like background music for what Maddie and Jared are going through.

The show in More Than Music is obviously based on The Voice, but were any of the characters based on particular celebrities?

None of the characters were based on any particular celebrity, but many characters were loosely inspired by them. The most obvious one is Jared, who was named after Jared Leto, the singer of Thirty Seconds To Mars. Both Jareds are flirty, talented, and hard-working, but also pretty down-to-earth – and both have brothers in their bands, too. And the mentors on the show were inspired by lots of different musicians all rolled into one. For example, Dan was loosely based on Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and Chris Cornell, but also had a little Adam Levine and Blake Shelton in him, too.

What’s next in the Chasing the Dream series?

First up is Kyle’s prequel novella, MORE THAN EXES, set at the Battle of the Bands that leads to the gig at the beginning of MORE THAN MUSIC. Next will be Hector’s novella, set a week after MORE THAN MUSIC at Comic-Con. After that, I’ll be writing books about Maddie’s best friends Julie and Carla, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for info on those, sorry!

Check out an excerpt:

Jared’s guitar was beautiful, with a smooth white faceplate, gleaming struts, and a shiny fingerboard. My fingers itched to touch the silvery strings, to form a chord and let it ring out through the amp, to hear what it sounded like without all the other instruments accompanying it. And if I was honest, I wanted to close my eyes and pretend I was on stage, playing for a crowd, hearing them scream for me. The longing I felt every time I went to a concert stirred up in me again. It wouldn’t hurt if I played one chord, right? That was it. One chord, and I’d put it back. No one would ever know.

Before I could stop myself, I picked up the guitar and threw the strap over my head. It settled against my shoulder, and with one hand on the fret board and the other on the strings, I was home. I closed my eyes, picturing Jared when he was on stage and how his talented fingers had moved across the guitar. I imagined him singing my favorite song of theirs, “Behind the Mask,” and the words and notes melted together in my head. I strummed the guitar, the sound ringing from the amp, the vibrations traveling up the ground and into my feet. God, I loved this guitar. It sounded just as good as my own, if not better.

Now that I had the guitar in my hands, the compulsion to play was irresistible. What was one more chord, right? I was alone and the room was soundproof. The door had locked behind me. Kyle was dealing with Becca, and he’d given me permission to come in here anyway.

I knew it was a bad idea. I knew I should put the guitar down and walk out of the room. But I started strumming anyway.

I was hesitant at first, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. My hands found the chords automatically, and the words flowed out of me with the music. Exhilaration swept through me with each note, and I closed my eyes and let the song take me away. Soon I was belting out the words, shredding the guitar like I was on stage playing for a massive crowd. I’d never do this in front of anyone else, but here, alone with this guitar, I could pretend. I could let myself go.

And then I opened my eyes and wanted to die.

Jared stood in front of me, his eyes wide and mouth open slightly. He must have come in while I was playing. How much did he hear? Or worse, see?

My fingers slipped off the strings with a screech, and I nearly dropped the guitar. Thank god for the strap. “I’m so sorry. Kyle gave me the key and I was just—”

There was no way to explain what was going on, so I shut up. I’d been singing his lyrics, playing the song he’d written. Not to mention, I’d been using his guitar. That was like wearing someone else’s underwear. You didn’t just play another person’s guitar without their permission.

I yanked the guitar off and tried to put it back, but knocked the stand over instead. Hands shaking, it took me two tries to right it again, all while Jared stood there, gaping at me. Why didn’t he say anything? Was he so angry he couldn’t speak? I set the guitar down carefully, then backed away like it was on fire—and ran straight into the drum set. Cymbals crashed as I fell against it, knocking the equipment all over the floor. Great, now he must think I’m a stalker and a complete klutz. I jumped up too fast, and my legs were so unsteady I started to topple over toward the table. Jared caught me before we had another disaster, his hands gripping my arms to balance me.

“You okay?” he asked, his blue eyes holding mine and making my heart pound even faster. If I stared into those eyes too long, I’d fall into them completely.

Have a listen to More Than Music's playlist:


Youtube:

Don't forget to leave a comment including your favourite band for a chance to win a More Than Music ebook, and be sure to enter on the rafflecopter below for other great prizes!

*Book Blitz organized by Giselle Cormier of Xpresso Book Tours and Xpresso Reads.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #2

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! We hope you’re looking forward to another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, or planning like crazy, plus a way to keep each other accountable. We’ll be sharing our goals on Mondays and keeping our posts brief (2-3 lines per heading tops) in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and remember to hop around to encourage other participants. For more info on RSW and a link to our lovely stash of buttons, click here.

How I did on last week’s goals:

My goal was to work through half my list of missing details, minor inconsistencies, overused words/gestures, etc. I probably did about 2/3. I also wanted to start compiling my notes on the third book in my trilogy, and I got a nice chunk of that done. Week 1 goals successfully met!

My goals for this week:

I want to finish my list of fiddly details, research some Romantic era poetry, divide my ms (ENGRAVE) into chapters, rewrite the start of one scene, finish gathering my notes for book 3 (ENLIGHTEN), and start a plot arc diagram. As you can see, I’m in transition between WIPs.

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:

Bittersweet

The biggest challenge I faced this week :

Maintaining my concentration on the more monotonous aspects of revising/editing.

Something I love about my WIP:

The theme of Romanticism versus technology.



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

What's Up Wednesday


In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

What I’m Reading:

I finished If I Stay by Gayle Forman the other night and liked it a lot. The characters were fleshed out so well, and I enjoyed the way the story flipped between the present tragedy and flashbacks. Now I can’t wait for the movie! Tell me that trailer doesn’t look amazing? I’m now reading The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle.



What I’m Writing:

I completed my second round of revisions, and now I’m working on nitpicky stuff like trimming overused words, making gestures more creative, sprucing up some description details, and smoothing out any little inconsistencies. I find this stage tedious, but I know it’s a necessary part of polishing.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

The way the YA community spoke out against Ruth Graham’s criticism of young adult literature in her article for Slate.com. There were so many things I wanted to say on this issue, but I just haven’t had the time. I will add a couple thoughts though, starting with this: It is NOT okay to undervalue teenagers by claiming books about them are somehow lesser and that adults who appreciate those books are stunted in some way. What’s lesser is being close-minded and thinking you can dictate what others should or should not read.

Kat Kinsman of CNN had this to say about reading YA: “It made me feel things and do things, and for the life of me, I can’t understand [why] that’s inferior to knowing things.” That made me want to cheer. Contrary to what Ms. Graham suggested, YA doesn’t always wrap up with a neat little bow, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to hang on to the hopefulness and idealism characterized by the teen years. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people did that.

I plan on sharing more things that inspire me about YA over the next few weeks, so please feel free to use this heading the same way if you like!

The other thing that’s inspiring me is the super response we had to RSW on Monday! It’s not too late to join us for a summer of writing. Interested? You can check out the details here.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:



My son finished reading The Fault in Our Stars this week, so on Saturday the two of us went to see the movie. Guys, it was a 3 Kleenex movie for me. I cried so much I had to put the hood up on my sweatshirt to hide my face. Not that it mattered because just about everyone else was bawling too. My son enjoys reading and movies but is usually fairly stoic in his reactions to them. After TFIOS was done and I was sitting there sniffling, he hugged me and said “That was so good. Oh man!” Clearly John Green left an impression on my kid and I’m thankful he did. This was a great bonding experience for my son and me. I’ve read to him since he was a baby, and I love that we’re at the point where we can share and discuss YA. And I won’t let the YA naysayers tarnish that, because they don’t know what they’re talking about, and they don’t know what they’re missing.

We were also lucky enough to watch another fascinating performance. At our local children’s festival, my son and I saw The Intergalactic Nemesis, a LIVE ACTION GRAPHIC NOVEL. If you think that sounds cool, you’d be right! It was done in the style of a 1930s radio show, complete with all the melodrama. The frames for the graphic novel were flashed on a screen, while three actors voiced all the parts at microphones. A Foley artist (sound expert) used all kinds of objects on the stage to create sound effects, and a pianist accompanied the story with music. It was phenomenal! There was so much going on at any given time, I wasn’t sure who to watch. The kids were encouraged to get into the show by booing and cheering too, so it had an interactive element. The story was sort of an adventure sci-fi with aliens and a hypnotic villain named Mysterion. Seriously, this was one of the most unique and creative performances I’ve ever seen. Apparently, they performed on Broadway and they’ve also been on Conan. If you’re curious, you can check out the trailer on their official site here.

Other than that, I’ve been enjoying walks in our neighbourhood now that everything is blooming. I also made chocolate covered strawberries, which were quite tasty.

So how was your week?

Monday, 9 June 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE!

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! We hope you’re looking forward to another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, or planning like crazy, plus a way to keep each other accountable. We’ll be sharing our goals on Mondays and keeping our posts brief (2-3 lines per heading tops) in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and remember to hop around to encourage other participants. For more info on RSW and a link to our lovely stash of buttons, click here.

My goals for this week: 
I’d like to work through at least half my notes on adding in missed details, smoothing out minor inconsistencies, and weeding out overused words/gestures. I also want to start compiling my notes for outlining the third book in my trilogy, which are scattered through seven notebooks.


Here’s the complete list of headings for NEXT WEEK:

How I did on last week’s goal(s)
My goal(s) for this week
A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised
The biggest challenge I faced this week
Something I love about my WIP


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

What I’m Reading:

For the time being, I put aside the book I was reading and picked up If I Stay by Gayle Forman instead. I figure I should probably read it before the movie comes out in August (the trailer looks amazing) and so far, I’m really liking it. I know, big shock, right? 



What I’m Writing:

This week I revised eight large scenes, so I’m pretty psyched about that, especially since I’m now only three scenes away from finishing round two of revisions. After that, it’s mostly nitpicky junk, and I’ll ship it off to Jaime to read. Eek! I also had a couple writing sessions via Skype and text with Jaime, which were productive and hugely encouraging.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

The other night, we had a doozy of a thunderstorm. While my husband was pumping water out of our flooded backyard (at 2:30 a.m.), he found a baby bird floating on our walkway, so I scooped the poor thing into a margarine container and brought it in the house. It's little heart was pumping a mile a minute and it was so waterlogged it hardly even looked like a bird. We put a warm buckwheat bag around the container and some straining mesh that my husband uses for brewing over the top, just in case it was suddenly able to fly.

I stayed up all night to keep an eye on it, because I didn’t want to risk releasing it while it was still dark and rainy out. Plus, we weren’t sure if it was injured or old enough to fly. The funny thing was that the bird got restless unless it could see me. As long as my face was over the container, it was calm and sat there watching  me with its little black eyes, tilting its head back and forth.

So why was this inspiring? Because while this was going on, I just happened to be revising a scene in which my mc wakes up and sees a little bird in the branches above her. This particular scene (and the next one) has a bird motif running through it, so it was very fitting to work on revisions with a bird in a margarine tub on my lap. How’s that for writing “bird by bird,” Anne Lamott?

After getting some helpful advice via Twitter from Kris Oliver (who, being a biologist, is quite knowledgeable about caring for little creatures), I took the bird outside to attempt releasing it. It flew straight to our lilac bush, then up into our pine tree, and went branch by branch toward the top, where another bird was calling. I’m wondering if it was the mother, because I could see a larger patch of yellow farther up the tree, and it stopped calling as soon as the little bird arrived. I’m sure the neighbors were wondering what the heck I was doing in the backyard in my pajamas and rubber boots at dawn.

Anyway, after searching the internet for prairie birds with bright yellow breast feathers, I suspect the little guy/gal might have been some kind of warbler. Seeing as we’re bird lovers in our family, we were happy that we could help this one survive the storm.


 What Else I’ve Been Up To:

My husband and I watched two YA movies this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed both. Continuing with the bird theme, we watched A Birder’s Guide to Everything, which was sad and sweet and funny. We also saw The Kings of Summer and laughed out loud many times. Moises Arias (Bonzo from Ender’s Game) played a character named Biaggio, who has to be one of the most adorably creepy characters I’ve ever encountered. Loved him in it. Both movies were about teen boys, and as the mother of a gangly fourteen-year-old, I got a huge kick out of them. (Warning: Each had incidents involving hunting, so if you’re sensitive to that--I am--then beware. Also, the humour and language in either might not suit everyone.)

There was also book shopping and library visiting this week. I got a copy of The Fault in Our Stars so my son can read it before the movie comes out—I originally read a library copy. We spent some time downtown yesterday, reading under the trees and slurping frappuccinos.

There was more to my week, but seeing as this is loooong, I’ll bump a bit to my next WUW post. So how was your week? Planning on joining us for Ready. Set. WRITE!? You can read more about that here.