Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 2015 Reading Wrap Up

We've had some beautiful days this past month.
I thought it was pretty bad reading month, but I squeezed a few more in there last minute and I guess it's not too bad after all. Though I've hardly any reviews to show for it! Reviews for the two Ignite books coming up this week. And the Love, Lucas book will be coming up closer to its release date. So be sure and stay tuned!

Anyway, here's what I read this month:

Half Bad by Sally Green: This is a modern day witch story set in the UK about Nathan, who is half black witch and half white witch.... the question is, which one does he favor? This will determine everything!

Love, Lucas by Chantele Sedgwick: Oakley is spending a few months away from home to help her deal with the recent death of her brother Lucas. But what helps her the most are the letters he left behind, just for her.

Shutter by Courtney Alameda: A group of ghost hunting kids (most of them descended from the likes of Van Helsing or Bram Stoker) are infected by a deadly entity and must find the ghost that did it before it's too late.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: Georgie and Neil are having marriage issues and during this Christmas while they are separated, they reconnect by using magic landline phone that lets Georgie of the present talk to Neil from the past. 

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi: The final book in the Shatter Me trilogy where Juliette is forced to solve the Adam/Warner problem and come to terms with her own power so she can take down the bad guys.

Ignite by Sara B. Larson: Alexa is now guard to the king, who she loves, even if she's told him she doesn't. When his brother is kidnapped, she runs to his rescue and in the process she is forced to fess up to her true feelings.

Favorites of the month: Landline, Ignite Me and Love, Lucas. Half Bad wasn't half bad either. Ha. Sorry, I had to.

Plans for March:

  • read Winter's Tale for book club, though I'm starting to get worried about it given the reactions of others who have already started and are complaining!!
  • read some of the random library books I picked up the other day... The One is one. Ha. 
  • if Life After Life doesn't make it on our new book club schedule, I'm going to read it this month, once and for all!
  • there's a couple of random review books on my Kindle that I might manage to sneak in too.
  • I really have no specific goals for this month. How very strange. It will be interesting to see what ends up on my monthly wrap up a month from now!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Getting to Know You: Games

I hate to admit I'm not much of a game person. My problem? I hate waiting for my turn! It gets boring! So I like games that are fast paced and where you are constantly involved, no sitting around waiting and pondering and thinking. And I often enjoy word games, though people get mad at me if I do too well, which then makes me mad because isn't that the point of playing a game?

So some games I like are:

"Board" Games
Catch Phrase
Mad Gab

Card Games
Nertz (I'm gathering some people call this one Spit too?)
Crazy Eights
Spot It
and that game that I can't remember the name of where each round people have to switch seats according to how that round went and the seats are ranked and you don't want to be the loser in the bottom seat

Video Games
Um.... I don't do video games, unless you count Zumba! :) Once upon a time I liked Jill of the Jungle though! And Tetris! And the first Donkey Kong!

Running Around Games
Back in the old days as a kid, I loved to play Hide and Seek, Sardines, Red Rover, Steal the Sticks (or Flag,) No Bears Are Out Tonight, Red Light Green Light and Statues. These days, I refuse to play running around games. I'm too old.

I will play Settlers, Ticket to Ride and Dominion if talked into it though those games make me crazy. I never win and they get too long and boring after awhile.

Lately we've been enjoying Telestrations and Headbanz... both games are great for a big group and can have you laughing long loud and hard after awhile!

What games do you enjoy? Link up your favorites over at Jenni Elyse's blog! Do you have any suggestions for fast paced games for me to try?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Walking Dead Discussion: S5E11 The Distance (Spoilers!)

So, I've been feeling like the last few episodes have been a little sleepy, a little not-so-nail-biting. But this one had me on the edge my seat again.  Probably because everyone had to forget about all the sad stuff and get back on the defensive again.

We left off last time with a new guy, Aaron, suddenly appearing. He's full of stories about their wonderful place in Alexandria, and that they've been watching the group and have decided they want them to join up.

Of course, Rick is like, Yeah, right. He's so scary these days. So scary. So they question the crap out of this Aaron guy and after much talking they decide to take some of the group to go and see if it's for real.

On the way there, Michonne is asking him "the questions" (how many walkers have you killed, how many people have you killed, etc.) and he answers them "correctly." But something happened and everyone freaked out sayiing "they've been listening to us!" I didn't get that part. Anyone want to explain?

And then, suddenly a flare explodes from out of nowhere and just after that they start slamming into a zombie horde. Things got scary so fast! I didn't quite follow all that was happening, but I think that was on purpose. We as viewers got a feel for what they as characters were feeling... total chaos. And they got all separated killing walker after walker. In the end, they found each other again and untied the Aaron guy and pretty much decided to trust him. But I'm still not sure what was going on with that flare.

After regrouping, they went back to the barn where the other group had found Aaron's partner/friend who turned out to be his very much more than that person. Aaron freaks when he thinks this guy has been hurt... and I forgot what his name is already. Anyway, they have sweet reunion which was . . . interesting. And after much talking to, Rick decides to let them be together.

Next day they all go to the new place, driving in a huge RV. Rick had said to Michonne. "What did you hear when we found the Governor? Silence. What did you hear when we found Terminus? Silence."

When they pulled to the wall of this new place, right away we could hear the sounds of kids playing. Everyone looked at each other and... the episode ended.

But, do you think they've found a true sanctuary finally, once and for all? Somehow, I think not.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Horror vs. Paranormal


Discussing genre is always fun, right? Or is does it just make us crazy? Trying to pin down a story into a certain category?

As you may or may not know, I've been pondering the differences and the sameness-es of the horror and paranormal genre categories these past couple of weeks. After some other random discussions and looking it up here's what I'm understanding:

Paranormal is a story that includes something that can't be explained in our real life world. Something, you know. . .not normal. This could also be described as supernatural actually. I'm not sure there's a true difference between these two words either.

I was just reading something where people think that if you say paranormal that automatically makes people think romance. Really? Okay. If you say supernatural, you take the romance connotation out of it. Hmm. Something to think about there I guess.

Horror basically means a book that is trying to scare the readers, whether that's through intense suspense (oh, I like those two words together!) or the creep factor, or blood and guts and gore. But bottom line, it HAS to be scary.

So that being said, a paranormal book could be horror and a horror book could be paranormal, right? But you could have horror with normal everyday events, and paranormal without being scary.

But like the word paranormal, I think most people assume that something considered horror will have certain elements. Blood and guts and gore perhaps. Really creepy monsters maybe. Crazy insane people. Clowns. Doll faces.

Do you think that paranormal is a subset of horror? Or that horror is a subset of paranormal? Do you think paranormal ALWAYS has romance? What about supernatural? So would saying a book is a paranormal romance be redundant? And would saying a book is paranormal horror be a thing? Or is that redundant too?

And speaking of paranormal, are you all so turned off by that genre lately that you turn your nose up if something is described as such? And the big question of the day: Is horror "more cool?" Seriously. Genres have a reputation and if one's story gets labeled a certain way, it's a big deal!

I want to know what you think!

(Stay tuned for another genre discussion next week: historical vs. contemporary and at what time period does one become the other?)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Heroines

Today's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is all about our favorite heroines. I'm a little late getting my post up, but thought it would be fun to think of some newer-ish characters since I'm pretty sure I've done this one several times. (Too lazy to look it up and link.)
Karou fan art.
When are these books going to be movies? 

Top Five "Newish" Bookish Heroines
1. Kestrel from The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
2. Lia from The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson
3. Em from All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
4. Cassie from The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
5. Karou from Dreams of Gods and Monsters (and the others) by Laini Taylor

Felicity is my favorite!

Top Five "Newish" TV/Movie Heroines
1. Felicity from Arrow (I think she is SO MUCH more heroine-like than all the crazy fighting girls!)
2. Carol from The Walking Dead (thought we haven't seen much from her lately)
3. Amy Pond from Dr. Who
4. River Song also from Dr. Who
5. I want to think of a really good movie heroine right now and I'm completely blank. Sorta sad, yes?

And that should cover it for now!

Who's on your list?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Book: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: I have no idea... contemporary romance with a magical twist?
Rating: ★★★★☆
For: fun
From: the library

Short Synopsis: At the last minute, Georgie stays home from going to her inlaws with her family for Christmas. She has to work, so she sends her husband, Neil, and her two kids on their way. But she feels bad, so she calls them a lot. Except,  her cell phone is dying, so she uses the landline at her mom's house. And bam, suddenly she's talking to Neil from the past during the Christmas week they almost broke up fifteen years ago. When she calls the cell phone, she gets her kids, but her husband (in the present) is never available. This pretty much makes her crazy. She ends up not even really working after all and obsesses about talking to the Neil of the past with the hope that somehow it fixes the relationship she has currently with Neil of the present.

My Response: Awesome!!! What else could it be? I mean, this author can pretty much do no wrong. What I find the most fascinating about her books, this one included, is all the normal every day life detail she manages to include, all the day to day things that makes her characters so real and so relateable. She makes it seem so freaking easy! And before you know, you are totally invested! This is really a simple story with the little landline twist that makes our main character remember why and how she fell in love with this guy in the first place and it makes all of us who've been in long time relationships wish for such magic landline. Can you even imagine going back and talking to your significant other in the past. You are you NOW and he is him THEN? It's the coolest concept. It's almost creepy in a way, you know.  Oh my word. I love it.

But that aside, this is an awesome book that makes you look at your normal life and not take anything for granted. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the everyday moments. Enjoy what you have because when you don't have it, you'll miss it. It's a great message in the end.

Bottom Line: It's no surprise that this is an awesome story that really makes you think.

Let's Talk About: What about you? What would you think about going back in time to talk to your significant other before you were together? (Especially if that was quite a long time ago!) Good? Bad? Scary? Creepy?

Other Reviews:

I think Rowell is just outstanding at crafting dialogue that is fast-paced and wickedly funny but yet still realistic. Her insight into relationships is excellent as well. From Rhapsody in Books

I love how much attention Landline gives to the process of making your life fit with another person’s; of choosing to make things works day after day. From Things Mean A Lot

Overall, I liked this one better than Fangirl but not as much as Eleanor & Park. It has its moments but like I said, it’s a quick, fun read and a perfect way to spend a pleasant afternoon. From Book Chatter

I love how Rowell is able to, seamlessly, take us through the course of a marriage and the emotions she inspires are so raw; they demand to be felt. From Ivy Book Bindings

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Let Me Tell You About the Book I'm Writing

I've been on a bit of a writing high since the conference got over last weekend. As part of that high, I've been pondering writing more about writing here on the blog. Not sure what that means, but in my head I'd think of it as another place to be accountable. Maybe get a little feedback, maybe just vent the frustrations and/or excitement. Maybe share the journey more, talk about what I'm working on, what I'm learning as a I go through the process and etc.

What do you think? Interesting? Boring? Whatever?

Well, I'll try it for awhile and see how it goes. Deal?

So this week, trying to ride that high I talked about, I've managed to add anther few thousand words to my story.  This is the story I wrote for my first Nano experience in 2013. It's a YA contemporary romance with a touch of paranormal. Except now after LTUE I want to call it instead, with a touch of horror. Right now I'm at almost 74,000 words, but I'm feeling like it needs to be at least 80,000 for a "normal" YA length. But it's still very very rough and I have ideas on things that need to be added, so I'm hoping it will be easy to get to that number.

Plus I haven't actually finished it yet... the last few chapters have yet to be conceived! But I'm very distracted because I'm dying to go back, and edit from the beginning, and to start going through my long list of notes I've been jotting down. And I have actually started doing that because I've been taking my first chapters to the library critique group and such. Also, I'll be doing book camp at Storymakers for my first chapter too. So the beginning is a lot on my mind, even more than the ending.

But I should probably actually finish the story at some point, don't you think? :)

In the writing help book I'm reading right now, Save the Cat, one of his points is to be able to sum up your book (in his case it's movies) in one sentence. Here's the one I've finally come up with for my story:

Sixteen year old Mandy longs for adventure and romance when she comes to spend the summer on her grandparents farm, however, what she finds instead is an old diary belonging to her great great grandma that tells a sinister tale of love and betrayal laced and woven with Native American Indian lore, a tale that seems to be circling around and catching Mandy right in the middle of it.

What do you think? Too wordy? Does it tell you what you might want to know about the book?  Did you at least get these details:

  • YA
  • summer away from home
  • romance
  • a diary that will whisk readers to the past
  • Native American myth/legends
  • ties to the past
  • small town life
  • cowboys/farm boys
  • grandparent/grandkid relationship
  • a little bit scary
Anyway. So that's what I'm working on. My goal for the next few months is to actually finish it, then go back through it all, revising again, adding some back story and detail and additional scenes.  Then, after that, I'm hoping it will be ready for some beta readers! Because bottom line, I really want to know. . .  is the story worth pursing farther than that. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Book: Shutter by Courtney Alameda
Genre: YA Horror
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For: Review and Support Local Authors
From: Received for free from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. I also bought a copy at the book launch! :)

Short Synopsis: Micheline and her crew of ghost hunters are all (well, almost all) descended from a long line of hunters... the Van Helsings, the Stokers and the Drakes. One night, they have to face an entity that gets the better of them, and if they don't figure out how to stop it, their own lives will be over. This story takes place in a week's time while they figure out how to track down and get rid of this particularly troublesome ghost. Meanwhile, it forces Micheline to have to deal with some pretty crappy stuff in her past.

My Response: I loved the characters. Strong, tough, smart and vulnerable. I enjoyed the story, creepy and crazy. But, I must say, I had issues with the technical talk and the descriptions of how this ghost hunting thing was actually going down. There were many spots were I totally could not visualize what these kids were doing! Something with cameras and mirrors! Oh, and guns. There were guns too! I'm told that if I were more into video games, I would have totally gotten it. So, I guess if you are a video gamer, you'll have no problem! So I struggled through the middle but then it got to a certain point where it totally took off and I couldn't put it down until the end. It's filled with lots of crazy creatures, ghosts and otherwise. For those who tend to be queasy, it gets pretty gory in parts and the things that Micheline has to deal with (past family events) are pretty disturbing. 

Bottom Line: Despite the struggle I had with the techno talk,  I did enjoy it for its uniqueness and crazy story telling.

Let's Talk About: I'm going talk about horror in more depth in a future post, but I thought I'd bring it up here too. What does horror mean to you? This book covers the genre really well, using lots of suspense and creepiness, plus scary monsters. I tend to be much more scared by the suspense over the monsters. Suspense and the IDEA of something scary is much more scary than the actual thing. Know what I mean? And I'm fascinated with authors who have the ability to write that. It's amazing. What do you think?

Other Reviews:

It was intense from beginning to end. The characters hardly had any time to rest and I only did because I had to put the book down to sleep! From Jenni Elyse

The strange and dangerous monsters in Shutter are some of the most inventive, dangerous, and seriously creepy creatures that I’ve ever read. From Bewitched Bookworms

The story struck a very good balance between the action-packed fights and the personal struggles of Micheline and her partners. From Ex Libris

There is a bit of forbidden romance, dealing with the guilt of the death of family, the friendship and hierarchy when someone in the group is higher ranking, and dealing with emotions when it is absolutely terrifying to let someone in and let that guard down. From Such a Novel Idea

Friday, February 20, 2015

Movie Review: Jupiter Ascending

Movie: Jupiter Ascending
Genre: Science Fiction
Starring: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth, Sean Bean
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: One thumb up (oh what the heck... make that two!)

Well, wow. What an interesting movie! We found ourselves here last week for a spur of the moment Valentines Date. I may have said this before but there are some movies that just need to be seen on the big screen and I knew this was one. (We did not do 3D this time... OR Imax though. Oh, well.) So we picked it over, say, The Imitation Game which I still want to see, but that's much less a big screen one, know what I mean?

Anyway. I pretty much have no idea what the plot was for this movie. It was more about all the special effects and such. But you know, special effects are cool!

But... if I had to guess I'd say it was about a family who owns and runs the solar system (universe maybe even?) Three siblings are in charge and they are each ruthless and mean and over the top awful! When they find out that Jupiter, a girl living on Earth helping her mom clean houses, has the DNA that matches.... something... they all start fighting to get control of her.

One of them hires a renegade ex-soldier type dude to snatch her up. So he comes and snatches her up, but quickly falls in love with her. Though he's never going to to admit that!

Yep. You can see it happening right here!

So she ends up meeting these three siblings, each at their own realm. I'm not sure if they all live in the big storm on Jupiter, or if only the one does. But anyway. Stuff happens and it's all peril and craziness and the soldier dude saves the day every time.... though Jupiter is a pretty strong character too and does some of her own saving also!

I think if we HAD seen this at the Imax in 3D, it would have been AWESOME. Also, quite overwhelming to the senses. Wow. The music is crazy. The special affects are crazy. The characters are crazy. All over the top and exaggerated.

But awesome!

Sheesh. I have no idea how to review this movie. It was terrible in a fun way. One of those kind. Know what I mean?

Most people go to see it for Channing Tatum. I went for Eddie Redmayne. Channing was pretty swoony as expected. And Eddie was magnificently creepy. Oh. My. Word. He totally grates on your bones in a perfectly disgusting way!
Swoony Channing.

Creepy Eddie.
But I actually kinda ended up swooning over this guy!
Even though... SLIMY! 
Sean Bean (aka. Boromir) was also really awesome.


I don't know. I'll just say. . .if you love over the top science fiction, you've gotta see this one. If you can't stand that sort of stuff . . .it's definitely not for you!

The trailer:

Getting to Know You: Did Someone Say Candy?

This week's Getting to Know You post brought
to you by Jenni Elyse is all about candy.
What do I like?
Hmm, let me see.

Ah, who am I kidding? 
To be honest, I pretty much love all candy.
Especially if it has chocolate. I'm in. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Walking Dead Discussion S5E10: Them (Spoilers!)

This is that episode where you aren't sure if everyone won't just lay down and give up. Our people are dying of hunger and thirst! And they are walking walking walking so slow! And later Rick gives a pep talk and he says "we are the walking dead." Did that hit you like it hit me? It was awesome! Didn't it make you look at the title of this show in a whole new way? Who REALLY is the walking dead? (Probably I'm just really slow thinking about it this way, but you know. At least I finally got there.)

But it was cool to see everyone all together again. Like... EVERYONE! Except the ones that have died. Which makes everyone together kinda sad too.

Anyway, this episode was mostly about examining the inner demons of all our sad people. Maggie and Daryl, both of them trying to come to terms with Beth dying. If such a thing is possible. Daryl crying. Oh. My. Word. Doesn't that just rip your heart out? And Sasha, coming to terms with both Bob and Tyreese dying. She and Maggie have a good talk at the end. They aren't sure they can do it. But they have to.

Some dogs come. They kill them and eat them. Gabrielle burns his collar. They find some water but are scared to drink it. Eugene will sacrifice himself, but no.... Abraham of all people smacks it from his mouth.

Then it finally rains. And then the storm gets really scary, but they find a barn. And then the walkers start pounding the door down and they all, ALL, keep them out by sheer strength. Although I almost thought that event was a dream. Anyone? What did you think? Was that real or not real? Except the zombie were all there the next day, impaled by trees from the storm. So there's that.

And then Rick's pep talk... "We are the Walking Dead." Chills. But wait, what did Daryl say right after that? "We ain't them?" I think so, given the title of this episode. "We ain't them!"

And then... and then.. right in the middle of Maggie and Sasha's pep talk to each other this nice looking, clean looking, refreshed looking, guy suddenly shows up and says, "hey!"

His name is Aaron and now what do they do? New people are so scary! We'll see next week what he's about!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Another LTUE Bites the Dust

I finally thought about it for longer than a second and actually counted... this was my 8th year going to this crazy fun writing conference. It's changed so much over those years! When I started, even though they'd been doing it a long time by then, it was still smallish in scope. But now,I'd say it's pretty huge. And they just keep getting better and better. The list of panels and classes is overwhelming, and that's not counting the banquet, and pitch sessions and filking and dealer's room and game room and zombie rock opera stuff!

Last year in my wrap up post I bullet listed the classes I attended, and then another list for some fun things I learned. Perhaps I'll do it that way again, as it's easy to read and I can dump it all on you quickly and smoothly. Good?

So here are the panels and classes I enjoyed:
  • The seven point story structure
  • On revision
  • All about science fiction
  • Writing better descriptions
  • Find your muse!
  • Genre mashups
  • Marketing YA
  • Education influences
  • Space travel
  • The relationship between character and plot
  • Character creation and management
  • Writing romance
  • Beginnings and Endings
  • Dealing with blockages
  • Making goals you can keep
  • Writing a dramatic scene
  • Writing queries
  • Using music in writing
  • TV shows!
  • Editors on common mistakes
  • Practice trumps talent
  • YA Protagonists
  • Keynote speech by Toni Weisskopf of Baen Publishing
  • What I wish I knew as  newbie
  • History and Alternate History
  • Horror
  • How to give and take critique
  • A history of chocolate
  • Classic Monsters
Whew! Doesn't that look awesome!? They were mostly all good, some better than others. I must say, some panelists need some coaching on how to be part of a panel. Yeah? Most of them get it but there're a few choice souls who think it's all about them and sometimes, they are so wrapped up in themselves they totally forget there's even audience. Which is weird since the whole point for them is to be the center of attention, right? But that was just a few of them, thankfully!

But what did I learn? I'll sum up:
  • I took four pages of notes in the story structure class and three in both the character classes. I can't sum up! Except to say that plot and character totally play off each other and that you can't have one without the other. They are BOTH important! 
  • Put your first draft away for a few months. Get beta readers! And pay it forward and read for others.
  • For most of the science fiction class I wrote down the plot idea I have for my next story, a science fiction one. I just need a better motivation idea. After going to the history of chocolate, I think that just might be it. . .
  • You don't just need to describe what something is, but what it isn't! (Example, the opening line of The Hobbit.)
  • You need description for pacing... to slow things down just a little. 
  • Use the five senses, but not necessarily all at once.
  • Telling the reader is getting them out of the work they need to be doing. Show them and let them come to their own judgement of what's going on... but make sure it's the conclusion you as the author want them to come to!
  • Description is about precision, not length or elaborateness.
  • There's no such thing as writer's block.. .maybe writer's laziness, or writer's fear, or writer's disconnect, or writer's burnout or writer's two year old, or even writer's World of Warcraft!
  • Make an appointment with yourself to write!
  • Genre is a marketing tool, most stories do not fit into one category
  • You can get away with more crazy mashups in YA. Adults are less forgiving.
  • It would destroy our culture if people stopped reading.
  • If you do things often they get easier, if you avoid them they get harder.
  • Traveling through space without warp drive is pretty much impossible because of time and cost.
  • At the speed of light it would take four hours to get to Pluto and four years to get to the next nearest star.
  • Tension and build up is what readers want in a romance, but make sure it's organic and not forced. Once the characters get together, there must still be conflict or people will stop reading.
  • You DO have time to create!
  • The act of creation has value even if no one but yourself sees it.
  • Nothing can replace the experience of creating your first draft.
  • If you write anything at all, you are a writer.
  • The voice that says you are doing writing wrong and that you aren't a real writer is lying!
  • Find allies in your life that will help you.
  • If writing dwells in your heart then stealing time for it will make you a better person at the end of the day.
  • You can record a scene by recording it on your phone! Say, if you're driving for instance!
  • The biggest thing about achieving goals is to be consistent.
  • Make sure your goal is measurable. And you must be accountable to someone!
  • A dramatic scene must include conflict and high stakes. Readers must be invested in the character too.
  • A query letter is about 250 words that tells who is the main character, what is she accomplishing, what stand in her way, and what are the consequences? Why is this story different and unique from what everyone else is doing?
  • Do show your personality and voice in a query letter. Make it match the book too.
  • Do your research when finding an agent, editor or publisher.
  • It's okay to use titles of music pieces, but not lyrics. Unless you write them yourself of course.
  • Best  scifi TV show? Orphan Black they say!
  • If you practice a lot and get no results, try something different even if it seems madness to do so.
  • The villain never thinks he's the villain and the hero never things he's the hero.
  • You can't necessary sell a novel with the first paragraph, but you can NOT sell it.. easy. Don't be that person!
  • Make a manuscript as good as you can get it. Editors look for reasons to reject things.
  • Horror doesn't not necessarily mean gore. It means suspense. 
  • Chocolate is amazing! :)
Here's a few pictures I took:

The mass author signing. In the foreground
is Kasie West, J.R. Johansson, Bree Despain
and Natalie Whipple.
About 100 authors total
J. Scott Savage about to unveil the
steampunk dragon!

Me and my friend Nicole posing
in costume, with the dragon

My view for three days straight.

The YA Protagonist panel in the cool room with desks!

And now, I just want to go write my story. BYE!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: My Bookish Problems

Oh gosh, woe is me, I have so many bookish problems. The Broke and the Bookish asked and now you, my readers, get to hear me vent about how hard life is when you're a book lover! Ready?

Top Ten Bookish Problems

1. Once upon a time I started a blog and created a Twitter and made an online presence. And I used my nickname, which has been fun and I've totally embraced it and it's weird enough to stick in people's heads, including authors. But now that I'm writing my own book, how do I market myself? Still with the nickname? I don't know why, but this is a problem that seems to be coming up lately and I'm not sure how I should solve it.

2. Another problem? Having ARC books in paper back or ebook and then getting the hardback for future books. Gah, what's a book fanatic to do?

3. And when I do get those books, where do I put them? There's only so much room in one house, am I right?

4. I have so many book signings and author events to go to, I just can't keep up. My family rolls their eyes and says, "What? Another one?" And I say, "Yes, it's hard thing, but someone has to do it!"  My life, it's all running from one signing, to a conference to another signing, one after another. I'm like a chicken with its head cut off!

5. And when I go to these signings, you know what that means, right? BUYING ANOTHER BOOK! I have so many books.. so so many books from signings that are sitting there unread. It's sad, it's pathetic, it's stressful. It's SUCH a problem. And do I have money to just throw away on. . . gasp. . . books? It looks like I must have.

6. Speaking of events and getting new books, it seems like I'll meet these new-to-me authors, then look them up on Amazon and what do you know but they have some free ebooks there! And of course, someone needs to read them and then review them and let the world know about even more of our local Utah authors. Why not me? Download, download, download. I just know I'm going to be able to fit them in!

7. You know when someone sends you a personal pitch? And they sound so nice? And so normal? And their book sounds fun? And like something you might actually like? So you say yes?  Download download download. Seriously, I can totally fit this in. I know it.

8. Wait! But first I need to read the book (and in some cases like this month... books plural) for book club! And if I've already read it, you know, I'll just go ahead and re-read it. Because most likely that book was read years ago and I can't remember a thing. I'm going to squeeze in these re-reads just before the ebooks and after the newly acquired books.

9. BAM! Slump. You know what. I don't really feel like reading ANY of these books after all.

10. Besides, how can I actually READ when I need to be blogging about reading, and writing my own book then blogging about that, and keeping up on all the TV shows, then blogging about that, and teaching a kid how to drive, and helping another kid with a huge French presentation and talking him through an anxiety attack, and going to work, and hosting a birthday dinner, attending a funeral, doing laundry, dejunking the house, figuring out a WEEK LONG Bloggiesta coming up soon, stressing about food always, oh wait, I should do some Zumba...every day! No, drop everything, I must chat on Twitter now! Oh, it's GNO night you say? PARTY! I'm out of here! But first, I must write this letter, as it's Letter Month you know. A letter a day and all. Wait, how many books did I say I needed to read? Okay, fine, I guess I just won't sleep. . . .

Alas, life is so hard when you're a book fanatic!!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review Discussion: Half Bad by Sally Green

Book: Half Bad by Sally Green
Genre: YA Paranormal/Horror
For: Review
From: Received for free from the publisher through Big Honcho Media. All opinions are my own. 

Short Synopsis: Nathan is half White witch and half Black witch. The White witch community appears to be in charge of things and they are determined to figure out which half of him is dominate. Meanwhile, they are watching him closely. He pretty much scares the crap out of them. His grandma takes care of him until he's about 15 or so and then one day, he is basically kidnapped and whisked away to be held by one of the White witch people while they watch him closer. What she does to him is... terrible. Really really terrible. And then he escapes and things get even crazier as he goes on a search for his Black witch dad to find out more about himself and to hopefully get the three gifts all witches get on their 17th birthday.

My Response: This book killed me. I mean. I really really loved it, but I had to take breaks in order to handle it. I loved the short sentence, simple, matter of fact style. But wow. There is some hard hard stuff in this book! Many of the hard parts are written in second person, because it's even too hard for the narrator (Nathan, the boy himself) to tell us the readers about. I loved that the author choose to do that. It was perfect. Such awesome writing all around.

Bottom Line:  I totally enjoyed it. I was randomly sent this book to review and it worked. The second book (Half Wild) comes out soon and I'm totally hooked. You go Nathan! You get 'em!

Let's Talk About: Here's the thing. Even as readers, we don't really know if Nathan is good or bad. I mean, we totally feel like he's good and we are on his side, but, BUT, he does some pretty bad things. He has a HUGE temper. His black side is volatile and we, all of us, aren't sure what that means. It's awesome. I love it so much. What do you think about this particular literature device,  to create a character that could be both the hero and the villain? The good guy and the bad guy? And which part of him would you root for? I love this mash up of things. Brilliant. (Speaking of, this book is also thoroughly British. So many British-isms that I totally ate up loved with all my heart.)

Other Reviews:

There is something refreshing about the lack of definitive answers, unclear paths, and and hints at future reveals that diminishes the impact of any similarities and allows readers to focus on Nathan and Half Bad as a unique and exciting story in its own right. From That's What She Read

His “voice” as narration was brilliantly written, and his strength even in what can only be described as a bleak existence was admirable. He is a strong character yet at the same time is incredibly vulnerable and isn’t afraid of showing pain From Book Nerd Reviews

I loved Nathan’s character, and his will to survive (he personifies the phrase, “What does not kill you, makes you stronger!” From Bart's Bookshelf

Oh WOW. This book is SO GOOD! I was hooked instantly and had trouble putting this down. Nathan is just such a perfectly imperfect main character. From Sarah Reads Too Much

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Currently: Time to Slow Down

Listening: To the songs from my own blog post of this past week about my favorite bands because, you know, I really like those songs I posted!

Watching: Today I hope to find time to catch up on two Arrow episodes! How did I let myself get behind on this? Tragedy! Also, more Walking Dead and Downton Abbey later tonight. Woot! (LOL.. what a contrast in Sunday evening TV shows, eh?)

Reading: Well, so, I'm still working on Shutter. Having a hard time with that book. I finished Half Bad, which I'll write a review for right now and post tomorrow. Wow, that book. It killed me. And I started Love, Lucas written by Chantele Sedgwick,  a long time online friend who I finally met this past weekend at LTUE! Love that! 

Writing: Sigh. Writing. I loved LTUE this past weekend I will write a long exhaustive post about it it shortly to share this week. You'll love it I'm sure. Anyway, the biggest thing I got out of it... I AM A WRITER and... the story that I'm working on is probably in the horror genre, which was sort of surprising. But now I really want to play on that and ratchet up the scary. 

Making: Breadsticks and crockpot stew for dinner.  

Feeling: Normal. Good. Anxious. (Toto went on an overnight field trip and I haven't heard from her yet to say that they are on their way home and they really should be on their way by now so... what's up? Anxious.) 

Planning: To take it easy this week. Get ready for book club though I haven't even read the books. (Yes, we had two books this month.) Write a lot hoping to build off the fire from the conference, and that's about all I've planned for now.

Misc. Random Tidbits:
  • Since I did Random already this week I can't think of any tidbits!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Getting to Know You: Favorite Bands/Singers

Jenni Elyse's Getting to Know You question of the week is to list our favorite bands and/or singers. Such a hard question because I love so much music! But these are ten that seem to be at the top of my list currently, or have held that position for a long time running. And I don't think I can list them without sharing their music, so do click to hear them singing! (Hopefully these codes work for you and if they don't, just get Spotify. It's free and all. And easy. And worth it. And while you're at it, you might as well follow me there where we can REALLY share music. I think that's so much fun.)

Josh Groban, of course: Current Favorite Song: Hollow Talk

Muse: Current Favorite Song: Supremacy

 Maroon5: Current favorite song Maps

OneRepublic: Current favorite song: Love Runs Out

Enrique Iglesias: Current favorite song: Bailando

Yello: I have way too many favorites, but I'm sharing Tiger Dust for you!

Depeche Mode: Favorite Song: Shake the Disease

Silversun Pickups: Favorite song: Growing Old is Getting Old

The Canadian Tenors: Favorite Song:  I Only Know How to Love

Imagine Dragons: Current Favorite Song: Demons

Honorable Mention:
Lorde, Enya, Tiesto, MIKA, Michael Buble, Porcupine Tree, Rush, Beatles, Sting, Coldplay, Gotye. . . okay, I'll stop now.

Bands I loved in the past and still love now... subject for another post?

Who do you love? Link up over at Jenni's!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Walking Dead Discussion: S5E9 What Happened, and What's Going On? (SPOILERS!)

Wow, that was one weird episode, agreed?

So here's how I saw it. Everyone gets back after the whole Beth incident and they think, what's next. Noah suggests his place. A place that before he was captured by the hospital people, was secure and functioning. And besides, his family is there. So a small group goes to investigate and see whats up.

Sadly, when they get there, it's been overrun and no one is alive. Noah breaks down. Tyreese stays with him while the others forage. But Noah escapes and runs to his house. Tyreese follows.

And this is when the bad stuff happens. While Tyreese is distracted looking at pictures on the wall, he is attacked at bitten! CRAP! Noah runs for help. Meanwhile, Tyreese hallucinates and sees a bunch of dead people... Bob, that awful guy that almost killed Judith (Martin I think?), Beth, the two girls (Mika and what's her face) and finally, The Governor!

It's all a bit creepy! And strange and sort of cool too. They are all saying different things to him and already I've forgotten it all except the girls say, "It's better here" and the Governor is saying, "No, it's not!" And Beth is singing in that beautiful way she does.

All I could think was... why is it taken Noah so long to come back with help!? And before he does, another zombie comes and bites him (him meaning Tyreese) again! Then more hallucinations!

Finally, they come and hack of his arm. Oh. My. Word.

On the way back, it appears that maybe he'll make it but alas, he does not. And they bury him with Father Gabriel saying a piece over the grave.

And that's the end of Tyreese.

Goodbye Tyreese! I really liked you!

Meanwhile, Glenn has talked Rick into thinking about going to DC after all. So... maybe they will?

Anyway, it felt like a particularly violent episode this time. And that's saying a lot. And also a cool one too see a few past characters. Except for the creepy baby killing Gareth follower dude!

And Rick? He's looking particularly gnarly these days, don't you think? Wow.

So, what did you think? What do you think is in store for our characters during this next installment? 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Random Thoughts on Nothing Much

Normally I'd be posting a book review today, but since it appears I haven't finished a book in more than two weeks, I've nothing to review! Hate it when that happens.

So I've been flipping through old blog posts as one does, and laughing at my random posts of the past, my stupid silliness and fearless way with letting it all hang out. And so I thought, why not inflict a random post on everyone today?

Yeah, why not?

I'm mean I HAVE done those "currently" posts now and then, but they leave something to be desired with the whole truly random thing, you know. And they rarely get comments which makes me think they are boring as all heck.

First of all, let me just say I'm blasting that Uptown Funk song. You know the one? If a person is in a bad mood or a slump of sorts, this song will pick you up instantly. I love songs that have that special ability! "Don't believe me? Just watch!" (That IS what he's saying, am I right?)

Tomorrow starts the LTUE writers conference that I've gone to for years. I'm very excited. I hope it sparks some fire to get me going again on the writing thing, because that's not happening lately either. Dang, what is it about the past few weeks around here??? Make it stop! Anyway, if you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, I'll be posting stuff as long as my dumb phone holds out. So be warned, or aware, or something. (Speaking of my phone, my data came back today! This past month was the first time I hit my limit so I've been without date for the past week and a half. Here's hoping I don't mess up and use it all up too fast again this month!)

Speaking of phones and such, this week we cancelled our land line and our extended cable (including HD service.)  The land line thing is a strange thing... I've been attached to that number for 30 freaking years! And I just let go like that with no fanfare or nothing? As for the cable... first world problems, eh? I feel pretty weird complaining about that, but we truly never watched it... only AMC now and then, and bam, it appears we still have that one! And I guess I'l live without HD for now. Life is so hard sometimes.

Speaking of hard, what I really need to be doing right now is the laundry and maybe even vacuum. I know. Surprising.

Speaking of surprising, did you hear about our weather? Instead of crazy snow like some of you are getting, we are having weather in the 70s... during FEBRUARY! I'm wearing shorts right now. And I go out without even a jacket... just my customary tshirt. And I roll all the windows down and let the wind blow! I feel nervous about this weather. I think it means we will have winter when it's supposed to be spring.

Speaking of.... never mind....I've been helping my son with a French presentation on Jean de La Fontaine. Anyone know of him? He wrote fables. He sounds like quite the character.

Speaking of French, (ha!) here's my new French song to share with you (my son keeps finding these fun gems.) It's called Alors On Danse. This guy did it all in his basement, the released it and then became famous (well relatively speaking as it's my guess you've never heard of him until just now! If you have let me know!) He even did a TED talk on how he made it. How cool is that? Explaining it all in a mixture of French/English which is such fun! (And besides, look how cute he is!)

Anyway, here's the official video, because I know you want to blast it about now:

It's about how when life's problems get you down, then JUST DANCE!! :) Agree? This video makes me laugh too... and I'm pretty sure it's funny even to those who don't understand a word of French!

Sheesh, Enough of that! What a sidetrack I just took!

Well, I suppose I should get to that laundry. And maybe I'll try to finish a book one of these days and get back to reviewing something! Oh, and I really really really need to write if I'm ever going to call myself a freaking writer!!

Happy Wednesday to you all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Likes

Wow, I guess we are fast approaching Valentines Day! Which means today's prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is romance related, specifically, what we like (or don't like as the case may be) with regard to romance in books.  I should have something to say on that, right?

Top Ten Things I Like In Romance Stories

1. Boy next door stories. I love them. When they are first friends, and then discover that they are now completely and totally in love....ah, it kills me every time.

2. An intense build up to the kiss. I hate it when the kiss happens early on. Tension tension tension! It's the best ever.

3. I like it when the bedroom door gets closed and what happens behind it is left up to our imagination. (Speaking of,  I like it when teenagers don't do it but are savvy enough to wait.)

4. I like romance stories when the two parties are from vastly different backgrounds or situations. (Like Branson and Sybil in Downton Abbey for instance.)

5. I'm old school and I like lots of chivalry demonstrated by the guy. Sweetness, gentlemanliness, and just plain being nice. It's huge.

6. Forbidden love is always fun.

7. Villains that fall in love are also a lot of fun.

8. Lots of banter... lots and lots of banter please!

9. Bad boys that fall in love and show their soft side. That's good too.

10. Another thing I love... lots of swagger. Swagger done right is the swooniest thing ever.

What do you enjoy in your romance stories? What did I forget?

(Basically this post reminded me of the swoony guest post I wrote last year. Remember that? Yeah, that was fun! Anyway, read that post and you'll totally see all the things I love in a romance!)


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