Where have I been?

Hey guys,

So I haven’t posted in a while (as you probably know), but I promise I haven’t forgotten about you beautiful people. I’ve just had a busy few weeks.

The end of the school year is never a walk in the park. A week before finals I had four papers due (which I somehow managed to get finished on time) and two projects. Then, on top of that sports season was ending so we had closing ceremonies (goodbye ultimate frisbee, see ya next year). And of course I had to study and do projects for my six finals. 


So, you might be thinking something along the lines of “woah, that seems like a lot. I totally understand why you had NO TIME AT ALL to read or write a post.” But friends, that was not all. I also had to empty out my entire dorm room and pack and find places to store things because I could only take with me what I could carry. Why? Because to get home I had to travel alone on a bus (a ten hour trip with 2 hours in the Boston bus terminal) so I couldn’t really take that much. 


So yeah. That’s been my last two weeks.

I’m happy to report that I made it home safely, and besides having to learn how to turn the water on, it’s been pretty good. So now I can finally get back to reading and posting, and hopefully be more active in the blogiverse than I have been over the school year. In the words of Eminem:

People!! It feels so good to be back!

Yay summer 2017!!

 

Five Reasons YOU Should Compete in the Writer’s Games 2017

What are the Writer’s Games you ask? A chance for YOU to flex your creative mind for a chance to be PUBLISHED in a volume of 72 Hours of Insanity: Anthology of the Games. For the specifics on how it works, click here.

Why should you compete in these awesome challenges? This is why:

1. YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO BE PUBLISHED!!!!

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If you are anything like me, you have probably stopped reading at this point and are already signing up. If not, hopefully these other four reasons will convince you.

2. You have more than one chance to WIN

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Yup, you read that right. So let’s say your first story isn’t your best work and you don’t win. NO BIG DEAL!! You have plenty of other chances to get your writing in the anthology before the Writer’s Games are over!

3. You will get some great practice at hitting those deadlines

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As the title of the anthology hints, each story has to be written in 72 hours. While this is completely do-able, some people (read: me) tend to procrastinate and sometimes end up cutting it pretty close *ahem, me*. But the wonderful thing about the Writer’s Games is that you will have plenty of chances to practice hitting those 72 hour deadlines, and by the end of the Games, you will be a pro.

4. You can write poetry too

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So lets say that you read a prompt and say to yourself “Hmm, I have a wonderful idea for this but for some reason my mind is telling me to write it as a poem” (don’t laugh, it happens). WELL YOU CAN! As long as you meet the requirements of the given prompt, you can write however you want! How cool is that!?

5. I AM A GUEST JUDGE!!!

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Of course I saved the best for last. You should enter because I am a guest judge, and you all know (or at least should know) THAT I LOVE READING!!! AND I WANT TO READ YOUR WORK!!!!

Just FYI, registration for this AWESOME event doesn’t end until April 30, so you still have time to join! And, if you do sign up, you are not required to do every single event, so if you miss one its nbd.

If you want to sign up (which, duh, you do) then go ahead and click here to go to The Writer’s Workout webpage and register. Also, if you are super excited to learn about one of the amazing sponsors of the Games, visit the Pacemaker Planner website (a great writing resource btw) by clicking here.


Hopefully by now I have successfully convinced you to join (and to tell all of your friends and basically everyone you pass on the street to join). If you are as pumped as I am for this, let me know in the comments below! May the pen be always in your favor.

Books of the Past

I’ve been thinking a lot about books I read as a child recently. Before I had a blog to document my feelings and opinions on books, I just had my memory (and of course the occasional elementary school book report). I’ve began to wonder how many books I have actually read in my life, and decided that it is impossible to count. I simply can’t remember every single one I have read. So I’ve decided instead of trying to remember every single one, I’ll share a few books (or series) that I remember having a big impact on me, or that I enjoyed very much. I’m not putting these in any particular order, just however they pop into my head.


1. The Magic of Spider Woman by Lois Duncan, Shonto Begay (illustrator)244612

Despite my crippling fear of spiders, this book never failed to enchant me. It tells a Native American tale about a woman who learns the secret of weaving from spider woman. However, this secret comes with a warming. When the main character ignores the warning, she gets trapped within one of her own creations. I remember reading this book over and over. The story was so interesting and the pictures were stunning. Of all the children’s books I read, this is the one that sticks out most in my memory.


2. Junie B. Jones (series) by Barbra Park958277

Of course there weren’t quite as many Junie B. Jones books when I was in elementary school ( I think there are 28 now?) but I always loved Junie B.’s adventures and thought everything that happened was absolutely hilarious (which it probably still is). We had a box of the books and home and a bunch floating around our classroom at school, so I never had to worry about finding one to read, even if I had already read them all a million times already (of course that’s an exaggeration…. unless it isn’t?).


3. The Magic Treehouse (series) by Mary Pope Osbourne 824734

Much like the Junie B. books, I read this series over and over again (and also there weren’t quite so many out when I did). I travelled in time with these books, and there was a new world to discover every time I did. It also didn’t hurt that there was a bit of mythology and magic thrown in (which began to show up more in the later books). After finishing a book I would go find my older brother (who is even more of a book worm than I am) and pretend that I was Annie and he was Jack, and go on adventures of our own. That is until we found another book to read!


4. Little House in the Big Woods (series) by Laura Ingalls Wilder441602

These books were probably my favorite stories. I loved Laura and wanted nothing more in life than to be her. Her life to me was something of a fairy tale, and it sounded so fun and adventurous. I loved reading about her moving across the country in the wagon and all the obstacles they ran into. I loved reading about how Pa built the houses they lived in as they moved west. And I loved reading about how she grew up and made friends and became a teacher and fell in love. And now all I want to do is read them again.


I could probably make this list a hundred thousand books long, but I think I am going to stop at four. When I look back and think “What books made me fall in love with reading?”, it is these books. I do have some honorable mentions; books that I loved but that I don’t feel exactly belong on the list.

The Cam Jenson books– These books were another great series, but I didn’t enjoy them quite as much as some of the other series.
Captain Underpants books– hilarious (and I loved the flip-o-ramas) but I got tired of them after a while
Encyclopedia Brown books– fun, but I think I only had one or two, so I didn’t really get into them as much as the other series
Harry Potter books– Okay, so don’t hate me for putting these down here. I did love them, but I didn’t start reading them until I was a little older, so I don’t really consider them “childhood books” even though they are technically for children
Ballet Shoes– I remember reading this book over and over and over in my third grade classroom, but as much as I loved it I don’t remember it as well as the books on my list, so I don’t think it quite belongs.


There were of course a lot of books that I liked, and if you want me to think up some more I would be more than happy to. But how about you? What books did you love as a child? What books shaped your childhood? I’d love to hear what they were!!

My Most Anticipated Debuts of 2017

Every year new authors make their grand debut into the world of books. I love looking for new releases and seeing what these new authors are bringing to the table. This year (mostly because I have a blog) I’ve decided to put together a list of my top 10 most anticipated new releases of 2017.

Because it’s the beginning of the year, I’m only going to choose books that are being released by June 1017, and I’ll publish another post about my most anticipated debuts of months 7-12 when the time comes. So, without further ado, here I go!

  1. The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti25546710 (January 3)

    I’m not sure how fair it is to choose this one, considering I’ve already read it and have put it on my top three of 2016 list, but I am super excited to have a completely finished copy of this book in my hands (and of course read it again!!). The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is a beautiful and gripping story that I would definitely recommend for anyone looking for a quick fun read, or something to really get them thinking about life and what it means for people in all different types of situations.

  2. You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando (January 10)25876993

    Reagan is the ultimate spy. She can change identities overnight and lie without so much as blinking. She works for the Black Angels, the most powerful top secret agency in the world. However, on her new case she starts to fall in love. She begins to question the life she was born into, and whether she wants to stay a part of it. I’m a sucker for a good spy book (which you’ll see as the list goes on), and this one definitely gets me excited!! What’s better than a spy book? A spy book about a kickass girl who has to face who she really is.

  3. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson30037870 (January 24)

    This book follows a girl named Mary, who was convicted of killing a baby when she was just 9 years old. After spending years in “baby jail” she is released to a group home and gets pregnant. When the state threatens to take her unborn child, Mary must finally face the past and reveal the true events of what happened. This book sounds like such a moving story, with lots of grit and emotion. I am so excited to see how the story plays out and find out what really happened.

  4. Caraval by Stephanie Garber (January 31)27883214

    Caraval is definitely one of the most buzzed about new releases this year, and I can’t help but join in on the excitement!! This book promises magic, love, mysterious sailors, and of course caraval, a show that happens once a year where the audience is part of the show. The story follows Scarlett, who is invited to the show only to find out that to win the show, contestants have to find her sister, Tella, who was kidnapped. This book is most certainly high stakes, and I have a feeling that once I get my hands on a copy, I’m not going to be able to put it down.

  5. This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton (February 2)33135198

    When Amelie becomes internet famous overnight, it is for the completely wrong reason. A picture of her was taken backstage at a concert, and suddenly the world wants to know who she is. Amelie has her own ideas about music; her own taste and her own style. She wants to be able to share her music with the world, but needs to overcome her fears to play the music she dreams of. This book sounds like such an inspiring and heartfelt coming-of-age story. I can’t wait to see what happens to Amelie and how she deals with the sudden fame before she is ready for it.

  6. Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot (February 28)29102869

    This book follows Pea, a young girl with ADFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder). Not only does this affect how she eats, but also causes anxiety, depression, and bad thoughts. When she falls in love, things take a turn for the worse. I am really excited for this book because it tackles a subject that not many people are aware of nor understand. I hope that it will bring a deeper understanding of the mind of someone with a disorder like this, and hopefully help spread awareness.

  7. Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean (April 4)30649331

    Marin Hamilton is 17 when she is orphaned and sent to live with her grandmother in Scotland. Then she receives an encrypted notebook from her dead mother that changes her life. She discovers that her parents were working for a secret international organization that now wants her to work for them. This book sounds like some fast paced action mixed in with a whole lot of secrets, suspense, and, of course, some love. Also look at that cover. Is that not the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?

  8. The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (May 16) 31145148

    Teenage spies, fake love, and secret deep desires. What more can you ask for from a book? Caden and Dylan are in the outside world for the first time and they are each after the same girl. Only, while they are competing for her heart, they must fight the feelings they have for each other. See what I mean!!?? This book promises amazingness, and I literally can not wait to get my hands on a copy. The plot sounds so intriguing and original, and it is bound to be an awesome story.

  9. Grit by Gillian French (May 16)31706530

    No one trusts the town “slut”. Especially when her ex-best friend goes missing. Grit promises to be an unforgettable and mysterious thriller. Also, it’s recommended for lovers of E. Lockhart and Gale Forman (which I am). With dark secrets threatening to come to the surface, seventeen-year-old Darcy sleeps around, stays up late, and tells lies to cope. But now there is someone challenging her with a score to settle. I have a strange feeling that this book is going to keep me up at night… and I can’t wait.

  10. Follow Me Back by A. V. Geiger (June 1)32470611

    Obsessive fans and a murder. A girl terrified to go outside. Pop stars and stalkers. This book promises to be a killer. I mean, thriller… This book is told through tweets, police reports, and other interesting mediums. Honestly I’m sitting on the edge of my seat just thinking about the book! I am eager to see how the book plays out, and experience the strange mediums of story telling as the plot slowly unfolds before me.

What books are you excited for in the first half of 2017?

Artist Spotlights- Bad Carrot Studios and Day Light Full

Along with my undying love for books, I happen to love art. All kinds of art, from acting and dancing to painting and drawing. So I decided to shine whatever spotlight I have on some wonderful artists that combine my love of books to my love of art.

What art form does this? Fan art.

After looking through pages and pages of fan art on Etsy (which is pretty much my favorite online store at this point) I found two incredibly talented artists who agreed to do some art for me! For the purpose of this post, I sent the artists identical descriptions of some of the characters from my current work in progress (Candy Wrappers  ) to see what they came up with.


The first artist is Brittany from Bad Carrot Studios . Here is a little bit about her:

Brittany is an actor with a youthful and energetic voice. She has a background in singing and a Masters in Fine Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She majored in Sequential Art, and after graduating in 2008, she became the primary artist for the first eight chapters of the webcomic Snow by Night. Since then, she’s been working as a freelance artist through Etsy as Bad Carrot Studios.

Along with a talent for art, Brittany has had a passion for Acting and Voice Acting since she was young and has been working in the industry since 2012. She completed the full training course from Voice Coaches and continues to further her education at Nick Conti’s Professional Actor’s Studio for acting and with Deborah Richards Studio for voiceover.

Brittany is currently working as an actor in various productions around Atlanta, GA and doing commercial voice overs nationwide.

Brittany did two sketches for me: one of Malia Reed, who is my female main character, and one of Warren “Ren” Hartman, who is my male lead.

Brittany was able to draw the characters with only a brief description of them, and her full blown fandom art is unbelievable.

It was very interesting to watch the sketches go from first draft to finished. Each draft had a little bit more of the characters in them, and she worked tirelessly until they were perfect.

I love Brittany’s style of art because of how well proportioned they are. They look like they could walk right off the computer screen and flop down in the chair next to me.


 

The second artist I worked with is Whitney from DayLightFull. Here is a little on her:

I’m 21 years old and I’ve been drawing since I could hold a crayon. I’ve drawn all my life but only in the last 4-5 years have I been able to draw exactly what I see in my head. I have a tremors in my hands and an very dyslexic which make my two favorite things in life (art and writing) a challenge. The tremors in my hands make it very hard to draw smooth and precise lines but I never let that stop me! Even though the tremors get worse as I get older, I’ve worked hard and long enough to where you can hardly tell I have the disability in my art! So I’m always encouraging people to never give up on their passions because of a diagnosis. Art is my passion and I love making people smile with it!

Whitney’s art style is much different than Brittany’s, but unbelievably beautiful. She drew Malia and Ren, as well as a few other important characters in the plot line. Here is what she came up with:

I love Whitney’s art because of how much I can feel that characters personalities coming off the page. She did a wonderful job of capturing their attitudes and expressions.


I want to say a huge thank you to both of these talented artists for making these beautiful pieces of art for me. I encourage all the readers of this post to go look at their other work; you will be amazed!

Book Exchage!

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Hi everyone! So for those of you that follow me on Facebook (click here) or are a part of my FB group (Authors and Bloggers), you probably know by now that I am attempting* to set up a multi-way book exchange so that we can all get new books that we want and pass on our old books to people who will love them.

*It’s going to happen people! This is going to happen.

For those of you interested in taking part, here is how it’s going to work:

  1. Follow the FB event so you don’t miss any important Book Exchange updates. You can find the event here.
  2. Fill out this form
  3. I will then let the participants know where to send the books, and they have 1 week to get them in the post.

That sounds simple enough, right! I am very excited to organize this, and if it goes well I hope it can become a regular thing. There’s nothing better than sharing the love of books with others!

If you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment below! Don’t forget to tell anyone who would be interested in this! Lets make this Book Exchange great!

Things Indie Authors Do Wrong

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So before I start this post, I just want to make it very clear that this is a rant. I’m not talking specifically about any indie authors or books, and what I say does not apply to all of them. I am just going to talk about a lot of “mistakes”, or rather “turn-offs”, that I have noticed in independently published books.


1. Cover Design

So, obviously every book has a cover. I mean, how could it not? It is a book… right?

What I have noticed with indie books, is a lot of authors get pre-made templates to use or watch a few YouTube videos about graphic designing and decide to go ahead and make their own.

Can this work? Yes.

Does this work? Most of the time, sadly not. See, it’s not that the covers are horrible or ugly (I mean, in some cases they are, but that’s not the point), it’s more that the covers are boring or unoriginal. They don’t stand out in the crowd. Nothing about them screams “Pick me up and read me right now!”

I’m going to be totally honest here and tell you that when I buy books (like actually spend my own money to purchase a book), it is either because I 100% am in love with the author and I don’t even look at the cover, or because the cover is so beautiful I can’t leave the store without it.

What can I do to fix this problem?

Why, thank you for asking that totally relevant question.

I think the best thing to do is to stay away from designing your own cover. This is for the same reason we authors have beta-readers and editors: we can’t always see the flaws in our own work.

The challenge with this is having to pay someone to create a cover. It is a bit of a catch 22; you need money for a good cover and you need a good cover to make money. There’s no perfect solution to this, but after investing all that time in writing and editing and such, why not invest a little money into a stunning cover?

If you do decide to hire someone, make sure they are a good graphic designer and have done notable books in your genre before. Otherwise you may as well save your money and take your chances designing the cover on your own. Also don’t be afraid to tell the designer you don’t like the first cover they come up with… its important to be able to convey the feeling and emotions of the book through the cover. That is what makes them so great.


2. Bad Editing

Getting a really good editor can be hard and expensive. I get that. However, that is no excuse for some of the things I have seen in indie books. I mean, I have come across some pretty awful spelling and grammar mistakes (and I mean super noticeable ones… not just little “barely-there” mistakes).

I mean lets be real here: there is no excuse for an author to shift between third and second tense in the middle of a paragraph. That’s just not okay. NOT OKAY PEOPLE. Just had to get that out there. Stick to your tense.

Then of course there are those books where I’m not even sure if the author was sober when they released. There are forgotten characters and plot lines and it just makes me wonder if the book was just written and put out into the world without so much as a proof read.

What can I do to prevent such a horrendous mistake?

Thank you for yet another totally relevant question.

Bad editing is pretty easy to avoid…. as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort. I mean, you could always hire a professional editor (if you don’t mind the cost), which of course is never a bad idea. But if you don’t want to, you could do several other things.

You could:

  • Find a bunch of beta readers who are willing to give you pointers and suggestions (and who preferable have some kind of writing experience or who are avid readers and know their stuff).
  • Join a critiquing group (just remember that means you will most likely be critiquing other peoples work as they critique yours)
  • Let your finished manuscript sit in the back of a closet for a few months then re-read it with a set of fresh eyes
  • Stalk an editor on twitter until they finally agree to edit your book for free
  • Sell your soul to the devil in exchange for a perfectly edited book

Wow. That escalated quickly.


3. Awful Book Formatting

So you know when you open up a book and it just doesn’t look right? That is probably because it wasn’t formatted well. The whole book just feels amateur-ish. It throws the book off, if you know what I mean.

If there is one thing I appreciate most about traditionally published books it is the book formatting. I have to give it to the publishing houses… they have got the page design down to an exact science; it just gives books that extra special “pop”.

I feel like a lot of indie authors overlook how important page design is. A books interior design can make or break the entire reading experience.

Now, I’m not saying that every single indie author should have a design at the beginning of ever chapter or a special symbol between scene breaks, I’m just saying that more often than not the interior of the book just isn’t put together the right way.

Tell me how to make the inside of my book beautiful. I beg of thee!

How demanding of you! But okay, okay, I’ll do my best.

So, I’m obviously not a graphic/any kind of designer, but there are a lot of them out there. If you do decide to hire someone to make a cover, ask them about interior book design. More likely than not they will have experience with that as well and be able to make the pages of your book look beautiful and amazing (and the pages of your book will match the cover).


So there you have it. Rant over (I think). Feel free to share your opinions, and any other “turn-offs” you have noticed in indie books (or published books if you want). Have you ever noticed my book turn-offs?