Monday, June 29, 2015

Ready. Set. Write. Week 4

                Welcome to Week 4 of Ready. Set. Write.  Simple is the name of the game. 

How I did on last weeks goals: Well I missed last week given I was sleeping most of the day after returning from UtopYA super late/early.  But the last goals I had went pretty good.  I had a blast at UtopYA and did learn a ton, made tons of new contacts and friends, and had such an amazing time I can't even put into words.  I know some of you asked for details, to keep this short I made a brief post about it and filled it with tons of pictures and a swag giveaway open until Tuesday which you can see here!  I also haven't posted the lip sync videos anywhere but Facebook due to my lack of knowledge on uploading them and Blogger saying they are too large. 

I did not post a chapter in my Fanfic as I was so busy having fun there and honestly being home has just zapped me.  Apparently being out there and open when you're normally more of an introvert takes a lot out of you.  I did get about halfway through the chapter I want to post and I have the rest plotted out just have to get it rolling again.

I didn't work on my WIP at all thought.  But at UtopYA several people gave me an idea for another story and I have been writing down ideas and notes for that so I'll count it as a half win.

I also technically did my posts/reviews but it was also an extra week in there so I feel there should have been more but the signal in Nashville was kinda crappy for everyone so I honestly didn't even take my computer out of its case.  I was in my room to drop off books/swag, refuel, shower/change, and SLEEP.

My goals for this week: 
·         Work on a new short story that came to me Sunday and see if it could develop into more than a short story as I'm kind of unsure just yet but I don't want to lose it. 

·         Finish and post the new chapter in my Fanfic that I didn't do.

·         Again: Write at least one scene on my original WIP story so I don't lose momentum.

·         Finish the 2 books I'm reading along with a friend this week (The Darkest Minds & Shadow & Bone) as well as at least one of my TBR books I got at UtopYA.

·         Make a schedule for some upcoming events I want to host on my blog and do at least 2 reviews!

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:  What I have currently is just notes for a new story but the idea/project others mentioned was something I thought about previously.  A collection of short stories about the crazy and insane time as a 911 dispatcher for a small southern county.  Thoughts?

The biggest challenge I face this week:  Coming back from vacation and trying to readjust my schedule.  Also remembering all my work passwords (seriously I have like 8 different ones that have to be changed at different time frames which make it hard enough to remember on a good day let alone after a week of no use).

Something I love about my WIP:  That I have all these new ideas running through my head and so much determination to FINISH them.

That’s it for this week.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Since You've Been Gone: A fun summer read

                So as you may have noticed I’ve decided to take part in the summer writing intensive Ready. Set. Write. which has put me spending some of my normal reading and reviewing time into my own writing.  I’ve also been preparing for UtopYA which was last week and it’s been crazy to say the least. I was hoping to post before but there was so much to do!  I’m still adjusting to being back and unpacking and such, it’s a slow process.  For further on my trip and to enter to win a swag pack (tons of stuff) check it out here.  On to a much needed review. 
                I read Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson a couple weeks back with a friend of mine.  She does a great job of giving a completely spoiler-free review you can check out here.  I have a couple of her books but this is the first one I have picked up and it was mostly because of the great reviews I have seen/heard on it and the fun summer cover.  The inner jacket is even like a scrap book and just makes you feel nostalgic.  The basic premise is that of Emily who has been defined as ‘Sloane’s friend’ since they became friends a few years back.  She was okay with that.  She loved it actually.  Then one day her friend is just gone.  Right before what is supposed to be their epic summer. 

                Sloane is gone without a trace or word but she does send a to-do list much like the ones she’d sent Emily in the past on her short trips and Emily is convinced if she completes the list she will bring her best friend back.  The list seems harmless enough, apple picking at night, dancing until dawn, easy enough.  Kissing a stranger or go skinny dipping…a bit more of a challenge for Emily.

                 So overall I enjoyed the book.  I liked following along in Emily’s journey because, frankly, I connected to her.  I related to her shy nature and feeling more at ease when a friend is by your side to allow you to be more open and take the lead when you are unsure.  I’ve recently started working on that myself, UtopYA was a HUGE step for me and really put me out of my normal comfort zone but so worth it.  I really liked Emily even when she did things I didn’t really agree with.  One of those things being still holding Sloane up as such an amazing friend when from the start I wasn’t sure I liked her at all.  Leaving a friend high and dry without a word as to if you are okay or anything is not friend material to me.  However, I did like the flashes of their past together which showed different aspects of their past together.

                Now while I didn’t care much for the Sloane character I did enjoy getting to know new people in Emily’s life from Frank, Dawn, and Collins.  Watching as she comes out of her shell and learns to adapt to her life as it currently is and come out of the shadow of Sloane I wanted more.  I looked forward to watching each item on the list come up and be worked on crossing it off.  The way she went about the list so methodically as if doing it would bring her an answer and in the end it does though not the one she had been looking for.  The story for me was really about coming into your own and again it resonated with me and made me want to create my own to-do list of wild crazy things to cross off and put me into new situations that put me out there. 
Inside dust jacket!

                With memorable characters and self-discovery filling large parts of the story there was also a great deal of care put into the relationships.  Of course the here and gone aspect of the Emily and Sloane relationship but more than that.  The friendships she makes along the way even if she didn’t intend to do so.  She also has a good relationship with her family which was refreshing, specifically her brother. 

                I gave this book a solid 4 stars.  My only downside for the book was more personal than anything else.  I just never grasped the depth of the friendship between Emily and Sloane.  I understood Emily’s side but never the connection between them, though it was more of a personal issue than anything else.  I also wanted a bit more at the end, more closure and answers to a few questions I had about the resolution but I’m told they come up later in another book all being in the same world and such.  I still highly enjoyed the book and look forward to reading her other books in the future. 

Rating: 4 Stars


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

UtopYA 2015 Experience, Photos, and Swag Giveaway!

                This post will be super long but mostly full of photos!  I have a ton of things I need to post and work on but I got back from my first UtopYA experience yesterday morning.  I then proceeded to do nothing all day but sleep and relax after the exciting and tiring week.  Now today I'm doing much the same but also being semi-responsible and unpacking, laundry, updating etc.

                So for those of you who follow me on Facebook you're about to see a ton of photos I have already posted there.  I'm trying to also get them upload on my Twitter and Instagram accounts as well, Wi-Fi there was a bit spotty and I didn't want to use all my data.  Plus, honestly, I was busy having a good time. 

                I had such an amazing time.  I was able to totally fangirl but also just be myself.  Normally I'm a shy homebody who doesn't like large groups of people and feels uncomfortable without one person who knows me as my anchor.  So this was a new experience for me.  I went alone.  I had a roomie I found on the FB group I had been talking to for a few months and was sure wasn't a serial killer and I had been active on the FB group talking to people who would be there but that was in the safety of my apartment over the internet.  In real life is completely different and I had a strategy I had started to employ at the end of 2014 when I started going to signings here and there a few hours from my place, just go for it and make conversation.  Simple as it seems it can be hard.  But my theory was just as simple, they are here for the same reason as me so we already have something in common.  This had worked up to that point and I was a combination nervous and excited. 

                I should also say that it was an 7-8 hour drive and the AC in the car was not keeping up with the heat.  So I had been driving in some lounge shorts and a tank top and didn't look my best.  Normally I only see a couple best friends like this or family, never in public.  But here I was arriving at the hotel like this to meet people for the first time.  I was quite as I got in line for the check it, I ended up seeing a couple people in line with me who made me think they were there for the event as well so I started chatting.  Softly at first but they seemed just as disheveled as me and super nice. 

                Thankfully my room was ready early and I could check right in.  I took a cart and went to get my things from my car, basically it looked like I moved in.  I got to my room, my roomie hadn't arrived yet, I unloaded the cart and quickly took out what I planned to wear for the day and took a quick shower to refresh and cool down, then felt more like myself.  When I went back downstairs I checked in got my badge and I saw tons of others wearing the same badge/name tag so I was feeling more confident I could simply join in with any of them. 

                Between the panels and workshops, a couple of which I wanted to attend but completely missed because time had no meaning and I was enthralled in talking with everyone, to the keynote speeches, the exhibitor halls, awards show, and dance party there was constantly something to do.  And if there wasn't a specific event at the conference that you wanted to see there was always a group going out on the town to see new places and things.  I ate at a couple of amazing restaurants and even got to go tour Parthenon.  I wish I had more time to do more things but next year I'm planning on maybe having an extra day in there without event things to do just to see the city.

                I need to say this again and again: UtopYA was amazing!  It was beyond amazing!  I had such an amazing time.  I was able to meet and talk with so many wonderful people both authors I already knew of and new ones I have discovered.  I was even more stoked to see people there who I wasn't expecting but I knew their books and was able to have that fun surprise of seeing them.  I got so many new books there it's insane!  I have tons of reading material and I can't wait to start of it.  I also have a ton of bookmarks and pins and such, way more bookmarks than I could ever use just myself and as I want to spread the word on some of these amazing authors I'm going to host a small giveaway.  I've divided the swag into two and I'm going to pick two random winners.  US only, sorry but shipping and customs are somewhat of a downer.  I'll post the giveaway at the bottom below all the photos.

                      Sorry for the image quality of some of them.  Excited hands shake.  Also I was only using my cell phone as I had not decided which camera I wanted to move up to before leaving.  I'm still stuck between two then finding the best price of course.  It was a blast and I can't wait for next year.  What do you say?  Have you thought about going?  If you have any questions about the event feel free to ask me, if I don't know the answer I can direct you to someone who will!  Until next time…

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ready. Set. Write. Week 2

                Welcome to Week 2 of Ready. Set. Write.  Simple is the name of the game. Last weeks post can be found here.

 How I did on last weeks goals: I finished re-reading all my typed parts, my notes, everything.  YAY!  I also wrote 3 scenes.  Fell a little short there but I had more written than I had anticipated but I'm happy with what I've written.

My goals for this week:  I loved how everyone posted not just writing goals but life goals last time.  I'm leaving Wednesday for UtopYA in Nashville so I'll be gone all week and with all the people to meet and things to do I don't think I'll get much done. 

·         To learn as much as I can, meet new people, and have a ton of fun! 

·         Post a new chapter in my Fanfic that I have been neglecting (hopefully before I leave).

·         Write at least one scene on my story so I don't lose momentum.

·         Write up at least two blog posts/book reviews.

A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised: My main character's first day at a new school pissed off the queen bee / mean girl.  Her way of telling someone about just made me laugh.

                Giving a dramatic sigh Lexi leaned her elbows against the counter placing her head in her hands, “She’s a snobby self entitled bitch who thinks the world should bow down to her.  I didn’t bow before her.”

The biggest challenge I face this week: Finding time with packing and final planning for my trip and having a few other life things happening at the same time.

Something I love about my WIP:  I am working very hard to make my female lead impulsive but also pretty smart so her reactions/decisions make sense. 

That’s it for this week.  Let's see how I do.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ready. Set. Write. Week 1: Goals

Ready. Set. Write.

                Hello everyone.  So I’m trying something new.  Something a bit different than my usual reviews and fun.  In case any of you didn’t know already I’m also an aspiring author.  I have been writing for fun for a long while but I have yet to finally finish any of my projects for one reason or another.  I have not done anything like this before, the closest would be NaNoWriMo.  Which is also the last time I worked on my current project.  That being said I’m going to participate in Ready. Set. Write. this summer and push myself to work on my writing.  But don’t worry I will still be reading and reviewing!

                 Ready. Set. Write is a summer writing intensive that provides an opportunity for everyone to cheer each other on wherever we are in our writing stage.  This year the RSW hosts are Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, Elodie Nowodazki, and Jamie Morrow.  Each Monday everyone will post a few quick lines under the headlines then spend a few minutes visiting and spreading the love and encouragement to other participants then get back to those WIP.  Sounds like a plan. 

                Today is day 1 so we only post our goals for the week.  Here goes.

Week 1 goals: 

  • It’s been too long since I worked on my project so I need to read everything I have written at this point, all 52K words of it; plus my notes, scene cards, character cards, the works and find the heart of my story again. 
  • Once I have the heart and soul of the story back at the forefront of my mind, goal two is to write at least FOUR FULL separate scenes.  Lengths depend on the particular scene but I figure finishing scenes over word count might work better for me.

               That’s it. I’m starting off small but better than nothing! 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Crown of Smoke. A strong debut novel that leaves you wanting more

Prettiness available at Amazon
                Today I am happy to discuss with you the release of a new book I had the pleasure of reading by a debut author; and that is Crownof Smoke by Snowa Fox. This is the first book in The Angel Marked Series.  I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC to provide my ever honest review and let me say how much I enjoyed it.  Crown of Smoke came out June 2nd so you can check it out now.

                Let’s start with the cover.  It’s simple and pops.  Sometimes sticking to simple colors that contrast just makes a statement and the hunk on the cover didn’t hurt either.  The story is about angels, demons, redemption, dreams, political intrigue, romance, and so much more.  It’s a multi-prospective POV focusing on our main characters, Dream Guardian Vaughn who is also the crown prince of the realm Lucidity who has a lot on his strong shoulders, and 22 year old archaeology student Lila who is unknown to her Angel Marked.  There are a couple other POV’s as well but they don’t pop up as frequently, including the mysterious Mistress and some of her minions/helpers.  When Lila discovers an artifact on a summer dig site her life takes a bit of a downward spiral as things of nightmare start to hunt her down and attack her in the flesh.  Vaughn protects her, a decision that has serious consequences for both Lila and her guardian.

                This story has a lot happening in it and it jumps right into the meat of the story.  We get to learn about this new world, Lucidity, where our Dream Guardian lives.  Crown of Smoke manages to teach you about the new realm and its people, society, structure, etc. in a way that builds slowly as you get deeper involved.  It manages to explain what the reader needs to know at the time and explains more when it is needed so as to space it out and not info dump it on you.  I like this technique the best.  Plus, as Lila is completely ignorant of Lucidity she has to be taught about it as well and we can learn about it with her.  She asked some of the questions I asked reading along with her but she spaced them out only able to process so much at a time, which I believe in 110%.  Slow and steady wins the race.  I liked the idea that Lucidity is similar to Earth as we know it but it doesn’t have technology, minus a few sparing items that are run on clean energy.  I wanted to visit.  Minus the attacking evil cat things…those I can do without thank you.  My cat spazing out on me on occasion is enough.

                Vaughn, aside from being Dream Guardian to Lila and Crown Prince of Lucidity, is also a handsome, strong male lead who has a soft side to him.  He’s a real dream boat, pun intended!  He isn’t just a pretty face though because Vaughn has some serious things weighing on his mind with many depending on him and not wanting to let anyone down.  Talk about stressful.  But we grow to know him and the conflicts he faces and the reader is able to see why he so great, sexiness aside.  Same goes for Lila, she has been through some traumatizing stuff and it doesn’t let up.  The combination of strength and weakness is balanced out well in her character.  She breaks down, sure who wouldn’t given the circumstances?  But she keeps picking herself up and wanting to learn more to grow stronger both in knowledge and body so she won’t be a burden or damsel.  I respect that.  She questions her sanity more than once and given someone telling you a whole other world of angels and demons exists I say that is spot on.  That is just the main characters and we have a plethora of side characters who only add to the amazingness of the story.  Some of them plain made me chuckle while others made me want to stab them in the eyeball and were the reason I had to set my phone (what I read it on) down so I didn’t throw it.  Only intriguing characters and story get you that worked up.

                Both our leads have such complexity alone when you add them together they just sizzle.  There is a complexity to them as they get to know one another in a stressed time dealing with a million other things, including staying alive.  While things move fast it never to me felt insta-lovey, there was always something more.  The bond and instant connection and feeling of safety allowed more to blossom naturally.  There was still a bit of leeriness of the unknown there and questioning of the feelings so quickly which to me helps ground it. 

                Crown of Smoke isn’t all about the fantasy romance either.  It has lots working for it including action, political intrigue, and a suspenseful mystery following the whole thing.  It also blends in a love of history and culture through Lila and learning about her Nona’s people.  I won’t ruin the surprise for you but it’s full of demon fighting, dagger wielding goodness.  Overall, I felt this was a strong start to a series and most important it left me wanting more.  I look forward to picking up the next book when it’s available and reading on, especially with where things are left. 

Rating: 5 Dream catchers

                Crown of Smoke came out this past Tuesday on June 2nd and is available on Amazon.  I loved it so much I was quick to snatch up a copy for my kindle and plan to get a physical copy this month as well.  Stay tuned for more reviews and fun.  I’m excited for UtopYA, it’s fast approaching and I look forward to sharing the fun with everyone!