Sunday, September 29, 2013

No Post on Sundays

As of tomorrow, I will have posted on this blog every week for a whole year. Whoa! Part of me can’t believe that I’ve posted 52 times since last September. And it didn’t happen on purpose either. On the last day of September 2012, I posted about adult fiction authors who have recently ventured into YA. I posted the next Sunday, and the next. By NaNoWriMo time (November to all ye non-writers), I didn’t want to break the streak. Even though it was a tough month to keep it up, I’m glad I did, because now I’m celebrating this awesome anniversary!

Here’s how I did it:

Document Every Idea
I have a whole folder on my desktop dedicated to blog ideas. It’s full of half posts, post beginnings, headlines and general ideas, in dozens of different Word documents. Not all of these ideas are good. Actually, I would say that most of them are not good, but with some thought, work and writing, they could make worthy posts. Basically, I never want to be caught at the end of the week with an idea (or five), so I make sure I document every potential post idea.

Plan Ahead
I don’t sit down Sunday morning with a latte and start writing my post. Most Sundays I have something to do other than write, whether it’s working at the bookstore or spending time with my boyfriend. So I plan ahead to make sure I’m prepared to post on Sundays, by brainstorming and writing the post earlier in the week.  Plus, I like to have time to mull it over and edit as necessary, before letting it loose on the internet realm.

Also, I have an agenda dedicated to writing plans, where I mark if I’m planning a seasonal or annual post for a certain week, like last week’s Most Anticipated Teen Books: Fall 2013. And, if that isn’t enough, I have a reminders app that rings an alarm every Sunday at 10AM, just in case I forgot to post my blog.

No Excuses
There are very few exceptions to my “Post On Sundays” rule. It’s very possible that something unexpected might delay the post in the future. But so far work, boyfriend time, family time and even being away from home has not stopped me from posting on Sundays.

Why It’s Important
Because I’m developing my writing habit. Even if I don’t write anything else that week, I know that I’ve written at least 300 words on my blog and posted it to the world (or a couple dozen likable folks). In the past 52 posts, I’ve recognized growth in my writing, as well as my research techniques and selecting topics that are (hopefully) both relevant and interesting. Over the next year, I hope to keep up this weekly habit and continue to evolve as a blogger and writer.

As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Most Anticipated Teen Books: Fall 2013

Autumn is upon us! Leaves are falling and the breeze has turned cool, so grab your favorite pumpkin-flavored drink and curl up with these new YA releases!

October 1
Perfect Ruin –Lauren DeStefano
What it’s about: Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city in the clouds where she lives, can lead to madness. If she ever wonders about the ground and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend, Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry. Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city and Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, he is being blamed for the murder but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.
Why I’m excited: Because a floating city in the clouds makes me think of the Cloud City and all the awesome developments and devastation that took place there. The concept behind this new series is intriguing (even minus the Star Wars correlation): murder mystery in a floating city. Yeah, I’ll be reading this one, especially since DeStefano has already hooked me with her Chemical Garden trilogy and hilarious Twitter feed. 

October 8
Tandem –Anna Jarzab
What it’s about: Sixteen-year-old Sasha Lawson never believed her grandfather’s stories of parallel worlds—until she finds herself thrust into one against her will. To prevent imminent war, Sasha must slip into the life of an alternate version of herself, a princess who has vanished on the eve of her arranged marriage. If Sasha succeeds in fooling everyone, she will be returned home; if she fails, she'll be trapped in another girl's life forever. As time runs out, Sasha finds herself torn between two worlds, two lives and two young men vying for her love—one who knows her secret and one who believes she's someone she's not.
Why I’m excited: Because I adore Jarzab’s previous two novels, and consider her debut one of the best teen books of 2010. All Unquiet Things and The Opposite of Hallelujah were realistic fiction novels, so I am thrilled that this novel is fantasy. Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve already read the DRC, but I’m still excited for this book’s release, so I can grab my own copy and shout its greatness to the world!

October 10
Just One Year –Gayle Forman
What it’s about: After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem's story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson's own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.
Why I’m excited: Because Just One Day grabbed my heartstrings and pulled in all the right places. I devoured Allyson’s story and I’ve been waiting for Willem’s side ever since. I feel that these books are two parts of a whole, and this companion novel will help fill in all the missing pieces of their engrossing, relatable yet foreign love story.

October 15
Unsouled –Neal Shusterman
What it’s about: Connor and Lev are on the run after the destruction of the Graveyard. They’re running toward answers, in the form of a woman Proactive Citizenry has tried to erase from history itself. If they can find her, they may discover the key to bringing down unwinding forever. Cam, the rewound boy, knows that if he can bring Proactive Citizenry to its knees, it will show Risa how he truly feels about her. And without Risa, Cam is having trouble remembering what it feels like to be human. With the Juvenile Authority and vindictive parts pirates hunting them, the paths of Connor, Lev, Cam, and Risa will converge explosively—and everyone will be changed.
Why I’m excited: Because I had no idea this was coming so soon! I was expecting another many year wait (which was the case between Unwind and Unwholly.) So the fact that the final novel in this evoking trilogy is nearly within my grasp makes me want to dance down the teen aisle of my local bookstore! Don’t worry, I won’t… probably.

October 22
Allegiant—Veronica Roth
What it’s about: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties and painful memories. But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.
Why I’m excited: Because… well, do I really need to explain? The cliffhanger at the end of Insurgent made me want to throw the book across the room, in a good way. The possibilities for this trilogy-ender are outstanding, and I can’t wait to dive into what will surely be a thrilling, heart-wrenching, provoking novel.

November 26
Pawn—Aimee Carter
What it’s about: Kitty Doe can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country. If she says yes, Kitty will be surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous, adored and for the first time, she will matter. There's only one catch. She must stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered and the same one that got her killed. She must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game.
Why I’m excited: Because tough choices are what makes good books into great ones, and there are many such choices laid out for Kitty in this novel. Therefore, I’m expecting Pawn to be a nail-biting, edge-of-my-reading-chair, great story. I haven’t read Carter’s Goddess Test series, but I’ve heard wonderful things, so I imagine that her foray into dystopian fiction will be captivating in its own right.

December 3
Rebel Spring—Morgan Rhodes
What it’s about: Auranos has been conquered and the three kingdoms are now unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. Cleo is a prisoner in her own palace, forced to be an ambassador for Mytica as the evil King Gaius lies to her people. Magnus stands to inherit the new kingdom but is still obsessed with his feelings for his adopted sister, Lucia, while she is haunted by the deadly outcome of her magic that allowed her father to capture the kingdoms. Jonas watches at the palace gates, a troop of rebels behind him, planning to overtake King Gaius. When Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of cataclysmic events that will forever change the face of this land.
Why I’m excited: Because Falling Kingdoms was an epic tale of four teens poised to change their world, which was already on the brink of war and revolution. I loved flying across the kingdoms to the adventures of each Cleo, Magnus, Lucia and Jonas, and I’m anxious to see how their paths cross in this sequel.

Happy Fall!

*Book descriptions were adapted from those appearing on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Publication Inspiration: Sarah J. Maas in Cincinnati

Sometimes the “bad” role models are the best ones. Sarah J. Maas doesn’t consider herself the best role model, or at least that’s what she said during her event in Cincinnati Thursday for the release of Crown of Midnight, the second book in the Throne of Glass series. However, I think we were all there for a reason, whether because we love her books or because she’s such an inspiration with her great publication story, or both!

Her story goes a little something like this:
After being brought back to fantasy nerd-dom by a caring teacher and understanding parents, Sarah wrote fan fiction during high school until one day, while listening to the Cinderella soundtrack (the dark part after Cinderella flees the castle with guards in pursuit), she thought:
            What if Cinderella was an assassin who had just tried to kill the Prince?
This idea inspired Celeana, the main character of the Throne of Glass series and Sarah spent six years writing the first few books of the series. She posted Celeana’s story to throughout high school and college, and gained many fans along the way. But, the ultimate goal was publication, so in 2008 she made the tough decision to pull her stories from and spent months revising and rewriting the story.
From then on, it was continual revision, after Sarah got her agent in 2009 and after Bloomsbury bought the manuscript in 2010 then a lot of waiting until the publication of Throne of Glass in the fall of 2012. Fast forward one year, and Crown of Midnight is a NYT bestseller and Sarah’s about to jet off to the U.K. for a book tour. If that’s not an inspiring story of publication, I don’t know what is!
The story itself makes Sarah a great role model, because it’s all about focus, motivation, and never giving up. She may be a bit of a rebel, but who isn’t in the pursuit of their dreams? Here’s some advice from Sarah about being a writer:
·         Write as often as you can.
·         Write what you love, and don’t apologize for it.
·         If I had listened to the people who told me that writing wasn’t a viable career path, then I wouldn’t be where I am.
·         If it was easy, anyone could do it.
That last one sticks with me. If writing was an easy path, then wouldn’t everyone be sitting around crafting stories, playing with characters, writing love, intrigue and mystery? Okay, maybe not everyone... But if this path wasn’t difficult, then it wouldn’t be worth it in the end, right?
Even though Sarah may not consider herself the best role model, I look up to her as a writer, storyteller and inspiration in general, as I’m sure many of the people that came out for the event do, as well as many people throughout the country and world.
And, as I’m a better writer than I am speaker, I tried to tell her while she was signing my copies, but I’m not sure how intelligent/cohesive/sane I sounded. However, I know the message is in her possession, because I wrote it in the awesome copy of Throne of Glass that she has fans sign!
Great idea, right?
P.S. If you haven’t read this series, I recommend it highly. Action, intrigue, romance, plus the ending to Crown of Midnight is completely stellar. Usually I pick up on foreshadowing (just ask my boyfriend how many movies I’ve spoiled by whispering my guesses), but the ending floored/shocked/awed me. It was a complete surprise, which means it was immensely well done. Love love love!

DISCLAIMER: This post in an unofficial account of the event with Sarah J. Maas on September 12, 2013 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati, OH. The views that I present in this article are my interpretations of the event. They do not necessarily represent the opinions of Sarah J. Maas, Bloomsbury or any affiliates.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Embracing Change

Change will sometimes leave you reeling. I thought I was flexible, open-minded and even liberal. But something happened this week at one of my jobs from which I’m still trying to recover. It will take time, patience and a willingness to change to accept it. I’m afraid I can’t discuss… well, anything about it. But just know that it was big, shocking and I didn’t see it coming. Being prepared could have helped break the blow, but there are some things you just can’t prepare for. It’s a tough road ahead, but I'm going to attempt to embrace the change with these steps.

Focus on the Advantages
This might be difficult. Okay, let me revise: this will be difficult. Change is rarely easy to accept, but even in the unhappiest of events, there are advantages, however minute. If you get fired from a job, you’ll have more time with your significant other, children, family, friends, right? So, once you get past the end-of-my-career/life/world-is-nigh perspective, embrace the good that can come from this change. I’m sure it’s there, even if you have to search a little to find it.

Recognize the Disadvantages
It’s important to not shove the disadvantages under the rug. You can’t ignore the fact that change will occasionally (sometimes, usually—whichever) result in disadvantages. Things change for the worse as often as they change for the better. But the point is to recognize these disadvantages, deal with them if necessary and then move on.

Move On
There’s no point in dwelling. Whatever it was, it happened. It may be hard to accept, but coming to terms with it sooner rather than later will help in the long run. Humans are stubborn, but they are also adaptable, flexible and capable of evolving. Give yourself a little time, but then get back into the daily swing of things.

Let go, or be dragged.

Society doesn’t expect you to embrace change with open arms, but eventually you should be able to give it a hearty handshake and say: "Change, you gave me a hard time there for a bit, but I’ve come to accept you in my life." And at that point, the world will likely throw something else your way.

P.S. I realize I haven’t said ‘YA’ or ‘teen’ or ‘write’ once in this post. It’s weird, but sometimes life doesn’t have anything to do with books, writing and words. However odd that is, it’s a truth that I accept. Usually. Now, back to reading…

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Why I Love Twitter

So, Twitter is pretty cool. Not only can you follow Nathan Fillion, Emma Watson and John Green all in one place, but you can interact with them. (Or you can at least try.) Per my passion, I follow a couple hundred YA authors. I feel like I know them (but I understand I don't really) when I read their funny, enlightening, inspiring or random tweets. Sometimes, I will tweet them and if they respond, well, I become the giddiest girl in the neighborhood as I do my Chandler-esque happy dance.

But seriously, Twitter is awesome and here’s why:

Authors interacting with authors

Authors interacting with me

General spontaneity and greatness

Twitter is awesome.