Since I’ve Been Gone

Hey guys!

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It’s been almost two months since I’ve had time to sit down and write a post. That’s way to long!!

Sadly I’m still super busy with school (and life in general), but I thought I’d check in and let you guys know what’s going on in my life… and what books I’ve had a chance to read in these past few months.

What’s been going on with me…

For those of you who don’t know, I am a senior in (a boarding) high school this year. That means A Lot of Stress™ and The College Process™

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Yay me.

Okay, in all honestly it’s not that bad. I’m getting really good grades, and I applied ED (early decision) to my top choice college. Now all I have to do is wait (which honestly is worse than anything else).

My school has trimesters, and the first trimester is ending tomorrow. I have my last final exam tomorrow morning (calculus… aaaahhhh), and then I have 10 days off for Thanksgiving break.

This fall I decided to play JV volleyball, and it was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I never played VB before, but it was so fun, and I’m so sad that it is over.

For the winter trimester I decided to try wresting. I had a couple practices this week and I am so sore that I can barely walk. But it is fun, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming season.

What I’ve been able to read…

Room by Emma Donoghue– What an emotional read! I watched the movie first, so I got all my crying (and there was considerable crying) out of the way, but the book still blew me away. I gave it four out of five hearts.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows– I was so excited to read this one because I’ve heard so many amazing things about it. Sadly, this was way over-hyped for me, and I ended up quitting at about 20%. This book just wasn’t for me.

180 Seconds by Jessica Park– Dammnnnnnnn. I didn’t really know what to expect from this one, but it definitely surprised me. There were some clichés that took away from the story IMO, but for the most part I really loved it. I gave this one four out of five hearts as well.

In 27 Days by Alison Gervais– This book was another one that was really good, but was very predictable. But it definitely was a great break to distract me from all of the school work. I also gave this one four out of five hearts.

Books I’m in the middle of now…

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab– I started this one on audiobook a while back. I really like it so far, and I think I’ll end up finishing it at some point… but I don’t know when that will be.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee– I just started this a couple days ago, and it is really good so far. I hope to tackle this huge book over Thanksgiving break!

The Breathless by Tara Goedjen– I started this book a few weeks before school started and honestly my motivation to read this book is pretty much non-existent at this point. The writing style is a little strange, and I think that’s what’s been throwing me off so much about this book so far. If I don’t pick it up again soon it’s probably going to be a DNF.

Looking forward…

Over Thanksgiving break I am going to stay with my best friend. I’m really excited to see her again! However, I have a lot of work to do over the break…

I hope to write reviews for the books I’ve read and do the tags that I have been tagged in.

I’m going to design some pages for the yearbook (I am an editor in chief this year!).

Do the homework I was assigned over the break (because apparently AP classes are allowed to do that).

Get some much needed sleep.

Eat some good food.

And then school starts up again on November 28th… which also happens to be my 18th birthday. So happy birthday to me…. 🙂

How have all of you been? What blog posts have I missed? What have you been reading? What has been going on in your lives? Let me know in the comments below!

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Author Q&A- Peyton Garver

It is been quite a while since I’ve posted an Q&A, but I am so excited to have had the opportunity to interview Peyton Garver and share it with you guys! Peyton Garver is a high school teacher and a YA author, and has recently published a book called Sublime Karma.


Author Q&A With Peyton Garver

Q:Hi! Peyton! Thank you so much for doing this Q&A! What is something you think everyone should know about you?

A: What I like most about teaching is making a difference in the lives of my students. I want to inspire them and give them the confidence to pursue their dreams.

Q: Tell me about your book, Sublime Karma. Where did the idea for this book come from?

mA: Sublime Karma is about a girl who transfers to a new high school as a senior and doesn’t quite fit in. But, there’s a reason why she is the way she is and Jake is intent on finding out her story. It is an emotional novel, but what I hope my readers get from it are the morals. I hope I did the job of promoting advocacy for self and others and to stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone. I tried to get the message across that you never know the story behind the mask.

The idea for Sublime Karma came from years of my experience teaching teens. I have been witness to challenges, heartaches, and triumphs. And, although bullying has been in the headlines these past few years, it’s not a new phenomenon. I have seen introverts become victims and unlikely students become advocates, standing up against the crowd. So in essence, the idea for Sublime Karma came from my students and thus my book is dedicated to them.

Q:Do you have any writing rituals? How do you find your inspiration?

hgA: I don’t have any rituals per se, but I get my inspiration from my students. My novel is purely fiction but the situations could be very real in any school. The issues that are present in Sublime Karma are not uncommon among adolescents.  Another form of inspiration is music. Sometimes I’ll hear a song on the radio and it inspires a whole scene. I’ve actually posted a playlist of songs that have been the inspiration for portions of Sublime Karma.

*The last song on the list is by the fictional band, Sublime Karma, in the novel.

Q:What is something you want the world to know?

If everyone followed the Golden Rule think about how much better our world would be. I love this Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Author Bio

imageWhen not writing, Peyton is a full time teacher. She has developed characters who resemble real world teens dealing with real issues: relationships, jealousy, bullying, and depression. Her newest novel, Sublime Karma, is a contemporary story filled with emotion, depth, wit, and suspense. Sublime Karma was published in the fall of 2016 as an ebook by Soulmate Publishing. The print copy was released in 2017.

When she’s not teaching or writing, Peyton enjoys traveling. The Caribbean Islands have become a favorite vacation getaway for Peyton and her husband. “Nothing is better than sitting on a beach, in front of the crystal sea, enveloped in the warmth of the tropical sun with a frosty piña colada and a good book that I just can’t put down.


Find Peyton Online

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I’d like to say a big thank you to Peyton for doing this interview, and to you for reading it!

Author Q&A- K. M. Weiland

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely K. M. Weiland. She is the award-winning and internationally published author of the bestselling Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. Read the interview below.

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: Stories have always been my mode of interpreting and communicating with the world around me. I made up characters and told myself stories from a very young age, but I didn’t start writing them down until I was about twelve. During high school, I edited and published a small newsletter that featured short stories and informative articles. From there, it was a natural progression to novels.

Stories are like breathing. Life without a story in my head is one-dimensional, stagnant, vapid. I love the life God has given me, but I think I love it better because I’m able to live out so many other lives on the page. I’m more content to be who I am because I’m not trapped in that identity. When I sit down at my computer and put my fingers on the keys, I can be anyone or anything, at any time in history. I write because it’s freedom.

 Q: You have written many fictional books as well as non-fiction books. Tell me a little bit about what it is like writing in these different genres.

 A: Most of my stories fall into under the headings of historical and speculative fiction (and sometimes a combination of the two), but, in general, I dislike pigeonholing myself in a particular genre. As a reader, I enjoy many different types of fiction. If it’s a good story, I’ll love it, regardless of genre. And that’s pretty much how I feel about my writing. I’d love to write something in every genre before I’m finished!

Q: Where do you get the inspiration for your books? Do you have a muse?

 A: I like to say that inspiration is everywhere—and it really is. I’ve picked ideas from such disparate places as the dust on my windowsill (I’m a terrible duster) to my pets to the grapefruit I had for breakfast. It’s really just a matter of being open to whatever you’re experiencing at the moment.

But I will say that most of my inspiration is usually the result of other people’s art. The three big ones are most definitely:

 

  1. Books
  2. Movies
  3. Musi

I feed off other people’s stories and glean little tidbits that inspire stories of my own. The characters and themes in books and movies and the half-answered questions in songs are endless sources of inspiration for me.

Q: What advice to you have for budding authors and bloggers?

 A: Write for the love of it, first and foremost. As Anne Lamott says, “Being published isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But writing is.” Write the stories of your heart, not the stories you think the market wants. Write the story you’d want to read if you were one of your own readers.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That sometimes starting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But it only takes five seconds of courage, and it only gets easier from there.

Find K. M Online:

K.M. Weiland’s Bio

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Author Q&A- Jonathan Moeller

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Moeller. He is an amazingly fast writer, and has written several awesome books for his various series! If you haven’t read his series, I suggest you get on it! Keep reading to see what Jonathan had to say in the Q&A.

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: My second year of high school. So, a real long time ago!

I started writing because I used to run RPG campaigns for my friends in high school, and eventually I realized I was much more interested in the storytelling aspects of it than the mechanics, the die rolls and the character sheets and so forth. I started writing short stories, and it sort of snowballed on from there.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: A combination of current events and historical events, mostly.

If I have a muse, I think it’s a combination of discipline and habit. When I’m working on something new, I like to get at least 3,000 words written a day, preferably more. Even if I would rather take the day off and play computer games, I still try to get a minimum of 3,000 words a day. I don’t always succeed, but I do hit my 3,000 words most of the time when working on a new book.

Q: You have written seven series of books, including The Ghost Series, The Frostborn Series, and The Cloak Games Series. Which has been the most fun to work on?

A: Each one has its own merits, I think, and its own enjoyable aspects to write.

For The Ghosts, Caina Amalas has evolved into a very interesting protagonist to write. One reviewer called her a mixture of Sherlock Holmes, Batman, and Valeria from RED NAILS, which I thought a good description of her character. I also like the rules I have for that world – sorcery as a badly understood form of science, no nonhumans except for spirits, and a world that’s kind of like the Western Roman Empire survived to the Renaissance.

For Frostborn, I wanted to write a big, long epic fantasy series (it’s going to be 15 books) that recreated the feel of a really good RPG campaign, one where the characters start out dealing with minor local events of no significance, and ends with them deciding the fates of kings and empires.

Cloak Games is fun because it’s the only series I write from a first-person perspective. Nadia is an interesting protagonist to write. I’ve said that the Cloak Games series would be about a bad guy very slowly and very much against her will learning to be a good guy, and that definitely applies to Nadia.

Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each book you write?

A: Not much, I would say. I used to unload trucks when I was younger, and THAT was definitely grunt work!

In terms of writing a book, I just write it until it’s done. I can usually do a 90,000-word rough draft in about twenty-five days or so.

Q: Which one of your characters do you identify most with?

A: Probably Laertes in GHOST EXILE. Every group needs someone competent to attend to the details, and in my real life that’s usually me. 🙂

Q: Which one of your characters would you want to meet the most?

A: None!

If they ever met me, they would (quite rightly) blame me for their various sufferings, and likely concoct some elaborate means of revenge.

Q: How did you come up with the ideas behind each of your series?

The Ghosts started when I wrote a short story about chivalrous romance that got rejected. So the next story I wrote was the exact opposite, about a cynical spy, and The Ghosts grew out of that.

Demonsouled came out of an Arthur Schopenhauer quote about the innate evil of man.

The Frostborn series began because I wanted to write a series that matched the feel of a good RPG game, and I wanted to write a series that was planned from the beginning, since both The Ghosts and Demonsouled happened pretty organically.

The idea for the Cloak Games series came when I read a really long and slightly boring article about how the mass media is frequently used to influence the public in favor of certain social and political positions. I wondered what that would be like in the hands of someone clever, and I came up with an idea where magic-using Elves from another world conquered Earth and used carefully managed propaganda to keep their hold on power, and the Cloak Games series started.

Q: What are your favorite books? What about them do you like?

A: My favorite books are the ones that adhere closely to the rules of storytelling – as a writer, you can see all the nuts and bolts of a story, so I suppose it’s like a builder visiting a house and admiring the craftsmanship of the construction.

So some of my favorite books are THE LORD OF THE RINGS by JRR Tolkien, KNIGHTS OF DARK RENOWN by David Gemmell, THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON by Robert E. Howard, THE ICARUS HUNT, THE THRAWN TRILOGY, and CLOAK by Timothy Zahn, THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by CS Lewis, THE BROKEN SWORD and THE HIGH CRUSADE by Poul Anderson, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND by John C Wright, THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and THE SIGN OF FOUR by Arthur Conan Doyle, IVANHOE by Sir Walter Scott, STEELHEART by Brandon Sanderson, CRYPTONOMICON by Neal Stephenson, and the entirety of the DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher.

Lately I’ve been reading THE EXPANSE series by James SA Corey and I like it.

For nonfiction, I think THE MIDDLE AGES by Morris Bishop is one of my favorite nonfiction books. I also like THE DAY OF THE BARBARIANS by Alessandro Barbero, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE by Peter Heather, BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM by James McPherson about the US Civil War, THE SECOND WORLD WAR by John Keegan, and Alison Weir’s books about the Tudor period.

Basically, my nonfiction reading is all history and technical manuals. (I think MORE DOS FOR DUMMIES by Dan Gookin was perhaps the best technical book I ever read, but it is sadly out of date at this point, though many of the basics of DOS are still applicable to modern Windows.) I do think it is a good idea for a writer to read a great deal of history.

Q: What advice do you wish you received when you started writing?

A: Finish as many books as possible, because in 2011 you’ll discover this thing called the Kindle, and your unpublished manuscripts will suddenly become much more useful!

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: If you are a writer starting out, it is better to self-publish than to bother with traditional publishers. I think the best approach (as of February 2016) for a new writer is to write a novel series, and then eventually make the first book free, which will help slowly but surely build an audience.

If you’re a nonfiction writer, I think it is best to start your own website and publish regular articles with an eye towards turning them into a book eventually.

Find Jonathan Online:

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Author Q&A- Kendare Blake

Today I had the honor of interviewing one of my favorite authors; Kendare Blake! When she agreed to let me interview her, I screamed with excitement. My brothers thought I was crazy (just kidding, they love Kendare too). She is the author of several amazing books, including Anna Dressed in blood, which I must have read at least ten times. But in all honestly, everything she writes is amazing.

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: I’ve been writing with the hope of publication since I was about…twelve. I loved books so much, and really wanted to tell stories. The first book I wrote was about wild horses. Of course it was crap. I wrote several more crappy books after that before I found a good one.

 

Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse?

A: Different things inspire me with every story. I never know where inspiration is going to come from. There are things I’m intensely interested in that never spark-off anything original. And there are things that I only notice in passing that end up spinning into the next thing I work on.

 

Q: What was the first novel you wrote? What inspired it?

A: I already talked a little about those wild horses, so I’ll talk instead about the first novel that was published: Sleepwalk Society. It’s a coming-of-age college story about three best friends and how they and their relationship changes after high school. Since I wrote it when I was going through a similar time, I imagine that’s what inspired it. Lots of confusion about the future and the desire to work it out on paper.

 

Q: If you could give advice to yourself before you became a published author, what would it be?

A: Don’t be hasty. When you’re trying to “break in” everything feels like a race. Like someone will beat you and take your place but that’s not true. Do good, thoughtful work, and do not waste time on anything you do not want to be writing.

 

Q: What is your favorite book? Why?

A: Can’t possibly answer this. Too many favorites. My favorite coming out soon is April Genevieve Tucholke’s WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT. Favorite recent horror is Joe Hill’s NOS4A2. Favorite classic…. today I’ll say Jane Eyre. I just read The Sad and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton and that was great. Read I’m most looking forward to: The Festival of Insignificance by Milan Kundera.

 

Q: If you could spend one day inside one of your books, which one would it be?

A: None of them! They’re fairly brutal places, and I’d probably get insta-killed. Plus, I spend so much time in them already, on the page and in my head, I feel like I practically live there.

 

Q: You have written books in several genres, including horror, contemporary, and mythology. Which is your favorite to write? Which is the hardest?

A: Still can’t pick a favorite. I love them all. The only genres I don’t think I’ll ever write are hard sci-fi (too lazy for the research) and mystery (not tricksy enough). So far, my fantasy book has been the hardest, but I probably only think that because I’m working on it right now. Everything seems easy in hindsight.

 

Q: What are some of your favorite things outside of writing?

A: Animals. Food. I like going to museums and learning new things, learning about wine and beer at tastings, learning about cheese in cheese flight tasting, hiking, playing bad tennis, seeing films and of course reading, reading, reading.

 

Q: What bad habits do you have that you want to get rid of?

A: None, actually. I like my bad habits. I embrace my bad habits.

 

Q: What is one thing you want the world to know about you?

A: Not anything in particular. Just what they can learn by reading my fiction. The work is what matters.

You can find Kendare Blake online:

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Author Q&A- Lauren Saft

I had the honor of interviewing one of my favorite authors today; Lauren Saft! Her debut novel, Those Girls, is one of my all time favorite reads. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you get on that right away! Lauren is also an awesome person, and is definitely an author to watch!

 

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Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: I suppose I’ve been writing since high school, or possibly even before that. I have always taken to writing, and have written stories since I learned how to write. I was on my high school newspaper, and always enjoyed the creative writing aspects of high school English classes. I wrote for my college newspaper, and pursued creative writing workshops as an undergrad. I’m not sure I can articulate why I started, it’s just something that I was always naturally driven to do!

I think truly, what drove (drives) me to write was the fact that I love to talk, and writing was a way for me to get out everything I had to say without interruption 🙂

Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse?

A: Oh man, the world inspires me! My friends, my family, funny things I see on the street or at work, trends I notice, the plethora of social habits that make me angry, and the few that bring me joy. I don’t have one particular muse, but if I’ve ever met you, loved you, seen you at a Starbucks, odds are something of you will make its way into my writing.

Q: What was the original idea behind your book Those Girls?

A: Those Girls was originally (and largely still is) a spoof about me and my best friends 18249315and what we were like in high school. The story is 100% fiction, but much of it is a sort of satirical account our experience at an all-girls school in a bougie suburb.

The three perspective structure of Those Girls was meant to be a commentary on what seems to be a pervading culture of self-absorption and narcissism. I’ve always been extremely amused by the fact that so many people only seem to see the world through their own eyes, only feel what happens directly to them, and have little to no concept of (or interest in) how their actions impact others. I think high school is a particularly apt breeding ground for this way of thinking, so I wanted to initiate a conversation on the subject of self-involvement and how destructive it can be.

Q: Which one of the girls in Those Girls are you most like, Alex, Mollie, or Veronica?

A: I am definitely the most like Alex (especially outwardly), but Mollie and Veronica are definitely within me as well. I am all of them, all of them are me, and at the same time — none of them are me or any one person — they are characters I invented; so while there are aspects of me in all of them, they are fictional amalgamations of traits necessary to move my plot forward.

Q: What is one thing visitors don’t know about your home town of Philadelphia?

A: That it’s totally awesome! That it’s got everything New York’s got, but it’s cheaper, prettier, cleaner, the people are nicer, and the cheesesteaks are for tourists.

Q: Tell me about the time you met the Olsen Twins! What was that like? Are you a big fan?

A: Oh my god, I am THE BIGGEST FAN. I have been intrigued and enamored with them since their Full House days; they’re like a real life “Truman Show” (do you even know what that is or are you too young?!) They were basically Hollywood’s children, have been in the spotlight since before they were old enough to conceive of having a choice. They were told what to eat, what to wear, what to say, what movies to be in, had not even one minute of their childhood that was not curated, controlled, and observed, and now they’re like these amazing tiny little billionaire style icons, and I just am fascinated by their evolution.

Anyway, oh yeah — when I met them: I was working at Penguin when they did a book with them, and I literally had a phone-tree set up to let me know when they were in the building. One day, I got the call, and I sprinted from my desk to the conference room with a copy of their coffee table book in hand, and, sweating, I got them both to sign it.

Ashley smiled at me. Mary-Kate did not.

Q: Are you currently working on a writing project? If so, can you tell me about it?

A: I am! Unfortunately, it’s taking me a lot longer than I’d like to finish it, but it’s another YA novel, about two seventeen-year-old aspiring artists who spend a summer in New York in search of experience, inspiration, and the stylish creative mystique of Andy Warhol and his Superstars.

It will hopefully be on shelves in Spring 2018.

Q: You have worked in many different areas such as retail, childcare, and TV production. What has been your favorite job so far and why?

A: I suppose TV production, which is what I do now when I’m not writing books, has been my favorite. I’d been weened weaving stories together with words, and it’s been an interesting challenge to combine my training in aural story telling with the task of visual storytelling. When I think about a scene for a show I’m producing, I think about the things I’d describe to establish a sense of place if I were writing a chapter in a book, but instead of writing the words, I shoot (or choose) the images.

Waitressing had its fun moments too. Retail was by far the worst.

Q: If you could give advice to high-school you, what would you say?

A: DON’T CARE SO MUCH WHAT PEOPLE THINK. Focus more on developing a skill, gaining useful knowledge (like how taxes and insurance work), and less on what your friends are doing and thinking.

Also, you’re not fat.

Q: What is something that you want the world to know about you?

A: That I’m here! That I write books that are meant to be funny and true and make you uncomfortable and make you laugh and make you cringe, and make you feel not ashamed by your most shameful moments. I want the world to know that if you’re into imperfect people being imperfect in an imperfect world — my books are here for you.

You can find Lauren Saft online:

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Amazon