Friday, June 27, 2014

Recent Writing Frustrations

As most of you know, I like to work on a lot of projects at once. And while I normally have seven or eight novels going at a time (on average) I usually have two that I focus on. Right now I'm working on editing a chapter book titled The Adventure That Started With Nuts about a talking squirrel and his best friend, who's a talking chipmunk. I'm also working on a YA contemporary, Beneath the Moon and Stars.

But lately, I've been feeling stuck. I've had a chronic case of writer's block whenever I sit down to work on BTMAS, and honestly, I'm bored by edits for my squirrel story. But while that's all extremely frustrating, the result of this writer's block/boredom is good material for a blog post. ;)

When I'm stuck, you can find me ranting to my BFF via text or e-mail chat about how my characters won't cooperate. For example, here's a snippet of our latest conversation:

Me: Blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. I'm so stuck with my story. :P I seriously went on a two page tangent about makeup because I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Anything inspiring? :P I'll take quotes, pictures, anything. (Or distractions? Funny sibling stories? What are you reading right now?)



Lane's stuck at his mother's stupid New Year's Eve party and REFUSES TO MOVE.

I hate it when my characters refuse to cooperate. -_-

And even worse, the thing that's going to happen RIGHT AFTER this party is so exciting!!! :P

Her: Right after? Oh man, you gotta get him to move.

Me: XD I'm trying.

I then sent her some pictures showing everything I'd done to get this character (Lane) to move, none of which were working:

Banging my head against the keyboard

Yelling at my characters

Yelling at my characters some more

When I'm bored, you can find me putting off the next chapter, the next scene, in the hopes that a grand idea will just pop into my head without trying. I often use the, "waiting for inspiration to strike" excuse so I don't feel guilty about playing video games, checking my e-mail/Twitter, or watching the next episode of "Sherlock."

With The Adventure That Started With Nuts, I sat down, fully intending to get at least three chapters edited, and ended up getting sidetracked:

So that's why I've been up to these past few days.

What are some of your biggest writing frustrations? Leave a comment! (And don't forget to check out the giveaway below!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Giveaway!

We recently went through all of our books with moving, and I happened to find a few duplicates. So I thought I'd give them away. :) There will be three prizes and three winners for those prizes. You have the chance to win either On Writing by Stephen King, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, OR Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. You have two weeks to enter. Sorry, US only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, "Of Spectacles and Books" is having a fantastic giveaway! Check it out here! :) 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writer's Camp 2014!

Yesterday was the last day of my second year at writer's camp in Lititz! :) I had so much fun. It was a great group this year. It was smaller, but all of the kids that came were really serious about their writing and really wanted to be better.

And the teachers are fantastic. Dr. Scouten and Ms. Savage are super nice and friendly, and they treat you like peers rather than teacher/student. They also have a knack for critiquing your work in an honest and helpful way. They don't sugarcoat anything, but you never feel like they're putting you down. They're very encouraging and never hesitate to challenge you in ways that help you to grow as a writer. I feel very lucky to have such great mentors.

I can't post everything I did over the week (that would be a really long post) but here are some of my favorite pieces:

(This is the first chapter of my YA contemporary, Beneath the Moon and Stars):

Five dollars and twenty-five cents. That’s all that was in my pocket. That and some fuzz. I stared at the frozen foods section for a long time before deciding that Mom would prefer not to use the microwave anyway. Microwaves give off radiation, you know. And Lord knows we could do without any extra hospital bills.
Finally landing on a slightly dented box of instant Mac and Cheese (“Add hot water and enjoy!”) and a package of strawberry Pop Tarts, I proceeded to the checkout line. The line was fairly long, especially for a self-checkout line, so I picked up an over-priced tabloid and flipped through the glossy pages to discover what other see-through fabric Miley Cyrus had passed off as clothing. I was so engrossed--or grossed out--by the article that I didn't notice when somebody walked up to me.
I jumped and blinked up at the teenage boy standing next to me. He grinned from ear to ear, blinding me with his pearly-whites.
He gestured to the tabloid. “Miley Cyrus. Are you a fan?”
I blinked a couple more times. Small talk made me nervous.
“Oh! No. No, I’m not a fan.” I replaced the magazine on the rack. “Just trying to—pass the time.”
The boy nodded wisely. “Time passes too quickly, if you know what I mean. Glad you’re not a fan. I can’t stand people who like her, and you seem like likeable material. Friend potential, even. You know what they put in those? You’re up, by the way.”
My head spun as I stepped up to the checkout counter. He spoke so quickly.
“Put in what?” I asked, once I was able to get my thoughts straight.
“That.” The boy pointed to the box of Pop Tarts. “Disgusting food, if it even counts as food. The glands of a beaver’s backside are used as flavoring for the strawberry ones, and who knows what else? Who’s to say whoever came up with the ludicrous idea didn’t say, ‘What the hell, how about we inject the S’mores ones with the anal substance, too?’ I’m Harry, by the way. Harry Potter.”
He extended his hand. I took it.
“You're kidding.”
“Totally. My parents aren’t that mean. No, I’m Lane.”
“Kya. Kya Williams.”
“Nice to meet you, Kya, Kya Williams.” He winked. He was so smooth while my hands just shook with awkwardness.
I pressed a button on the screen and watched my receipt slide out as the machine chirped, “Have a nice day!”
“Still going with the Pop Tarts, huh?”
I shrugged, not looking at Lane, though I could see out of my peripheral vision that he was smiling.
“They're on sale.”
Lane flipped his carton of peppermint ice cream in the air and placed it on the counter.
“See you around, Kya!” he called, holding his hand up in goodbye.
I gave him a small wave back. “Yeah. Maybe.”

(This is a poem I wrote for a writing prompt we used. We had to take two books from the library--I chose Legend by Marie Lu and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare--and use different words and sentences from the two books to combine them into a poem.):

No news is good news, right?
But that, she knew was a lie.
It's not the best, but maybe if I wander among the guests,
Lost and aimless,
Responding to the sense that her bones were melting and
Breaking inside her.
Eyes immediately shift toward her.
Let me take your hand, and I will give you mine.
I'm going to raise the angel, and I remember the first few.
They went flying.
At that,
The light in his eyes,
Already bright,
Went to such a blaze that the
Sparks that painted the clouds overheard as they fell,
One by one,
In streaking lines of golden fire,
Were like angels falling from the sky.

(Another poem):


A sign too worn to read rests among the ivy.
It held words once,
But now only the memory of bumps and jagged edges,
A reminder of what once was
Letters and poetry.

Scrawlings and scratches,
The familiar sound of ideas emerging
And words materializing,
Like magic,
Onto the paper.

Here: free from distractions-
beeping and tweeting and pings-
A cacophony of reminders to Check Your Device,
And see who has updated their Facebook page, Twitter feed.
Consumed by the vortex of the online world.

Here it is silent,
Save for the rustle of leaves,
And the gentle rippling of water
As a duck swims around and around and around,
Stuck in an endless loop.

I sit in this haven,
This little tucked away world
And think.
And write.
And dream.

Highlights from the week:

-Meeting a girl named Peyton who loves to read and write fantasy, just like me. We exchanged e-mail addresses and are keeping in touch.
-Scoring over thirty points in "Balderdash" (my highest score yet).
-Getting to hear A.S. King speak, and having her recognize me as soon as she entered the room. She walked in and started introducing herself, but got sidetracked when she saw me and said, "Hey, I know you!" (That was pretty cool.)
-Dr. Scouten saying that my writing reminded him of John Green.
-Ms. Savage saying that I have a great voice and how she,"--doesn't want anybody to mess with it" and that she expects my first internationally known novel to be published by the time I'm 20. (I started crying a little when she said that.)
-Seeing signed copies of Fauxpocalypse on display at Aaron's Books. (We went to the bookstore almost every day before we went home.)
-My "extended family" getting to see me present a couple pieces I wrote during the past week on the last day of camp.



Peyton and me
Dr. Scouten and me
Ms. Savage and me
My "extended family" came to cheer me on

This is the highlight of my summer, and I think it's safe to say that I'll be back each year until I'm too old to attend anymore. ;)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Aaron's Books

So I did something exciting yesterday. I went down to Lititz with four paperback copies of Fauxpocalypse and went to Aaron's Books. I'd already e-mailed them a couple months ago, and they agreed to carry a few copies of Fauxpocalypse in their store and advertise it with the "Local Authors" books. I went in, talked to Todd (the owner of the store), signed some papers, signed the books (which means that the books are now labeled as autographed copies), and voila! My book is in an actual bookstore.

And while I was there, signing the consignment contracts, the phone rang. It was someone asking for Todd. Bud--the person who had answered the phone--said, "Oh, I'm sorry, he's working with an author right now."

I was the author!!! (It's still so surreal.)

And, since Fauxpocalypse will be displayed with other books by local authors, that means that I'll be next to A.S. King's books! (Author of Reality Boy, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and many others.)

And everyone at Aaron's is so nice. Unlike Wal-Mart or some other big corporation, the employees actually know their stuff. They talk to you, give you recommendations based on other books you've read, remember your names, and they love to support their local authors, just like their local authors support them. They were so welcoming to me when I went in to talk to them. If you've ever seen "You've Got Mail," they're like the Little Shop Around the Corner, except Aaron's is going to be around for a loooong time, I just know it.

So, if you want to support Indie bookstores plus get a signed copy of Fauxpocalypse, you can always come on down to Lititz, PA and check out Aaron's Books. ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by "The Broke and the Bookish."

(I'm only including books that I read for the first time, not rereads. Otherwise, books like The Fault In Our Stars and Divergent would be on here for sure!) :)

In no particular order . . .

1. Cress by Marissa Meyer

This is my all-time favorite book from 2014 (so far). I can't wait for Winter! :)

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This is a fantastic read. Such a great book. And the movie is awesome, too!

3. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

This book made me laugh and cry. I would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

4. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Oh. My. Gosh. I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this book!!! I admit, I had my doubts about it at first (sci-fi in general isn't--or I guess I should say wasn't, after the recent obsessions with the Lunar Chronicles and "Doctor Who"--really my thing). But after seeing so many of my blogger friends talking about it, I knew I had to read it. And I'm glad I did! :) You can read my review of it HERE.

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

This book took me longer to get into than the others, but it's still awesome. :) If you haven't read this series yet, please do! You won't regret it.

6. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

My first Nicholas Sparks book, and what a great one to start with! Thanks to my mom for the recommendation. :)

7. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

The best book in the series, in my opinion. Although, I haven't read City of Heavenly Fire (yet), and that seems to be everyone's favorite, based on the ecstatic texts from friends and reviews flooding my Goodreads page.

8. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

This book was so cute! :) It's a great one to read as a family, because all ages will enjoy it. You can read my review of it HERE.

9. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Though Eleanor & Park is by far my favorite Rainbow Rowell novel, Attachmentsis still fantastic. It has an interesting concept and a solid delivery. :)

10. Panic by Lauren Oliver

Despite what you may hear about this book, THIS IS NOT A DYSTOPIAN. It is nothing like The Hunger Games or any other dystopian novel. It is a great contemporary novel. It's a quick read with an intriguing concept. It's full of action that will leave you breathless and plot twists that will make you gasp out loud (I certainly did).

What are your favorite books of 2014? Leave a comment! :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beautiful People Linkup--June

The "Notebook Sisters" are co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month they announce a new set of questions to answer about your character so you can learn more about them. Should be fun! :)

I chose Raven as my character for this month. She is the protagonist of my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, a dystopian called Flightless Birds.

1. What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it?

She only has a first name, Raven, which was given to her by the Flock. They found her in the forest as a baby and have sort of raised her since then.

2. How old are they, and when were they born?

16, born on April 11, 2083.

3. Describe their physical appearance. 

Short, black-as-coal hair, brown eyes, tanned skin, heart-shaped birthmark on her right shoulder. She's forced to wear raggedy clothes that are several sizes too large.

Bonus questions:

1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity?

She never knew her parents, so she's not sure.

2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!

I have three:

Erica Durance as Raven
This is the actress I "cast" as Raven, Erica Durance. Though she is much older than Raven--she's 35--she looks young enough to play her.

Raven, if she were a fantasy character.

Raven gone dark.
This is Raven when she's going through a dark spell.

3. Describe your character's personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences.

Loyal. Raven often puts the needs of others before her own and always sticks by her friends, no matter what. This is usually a good thing, but sometimes she lets her fierce need to protect her friends get so out of control that she ends up hurting herself in the process. This is where characters like Liam, Flynn, and Toby help her to stop being so "suicidal" and make her realize that sometimes you have to take care of yourself first.

5. What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?

"What You Wanted" by OneRepublic. Like I said above, Raven would do anything to save her friends, even if it means endangering herself.

"Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2. Never once has Raven had a real home. She's always running from place to place, barely surviving in the wilderness, sometimes not even knowing what state she's in.

6. If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?

Fire. Raven is full of energy and love and deep, strong emotions. She's always on the move, always going somewhere, doing something, saving someone.

7. What is their favourite word?

She has a few: Blue, home, love, family.

8. Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.)

Blue, an eight-year-old girl who was a member of the Flock from the time she was a baby. She was like a sister to Raven, but she was killed by an Officer in the dead of night.

9. What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?

The sky, blue waters, baby birds or giggling toddlers. Anything that's innocent and pure reminds Raven of her.

Feel free to answer the questions about your own characters! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Wrap-Up

I thought you'd like to know that if you scroll way down and look on the right-hand side of my blog, you'll find my rating system, so you can see what I mean when I give a book/movie a certain rating.

Books I Read

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler


Recommended to anyone who has body image issues, likes simple stories, and quick reads.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper


Recommended to anyone who read and liked Wonder by R.J. Palacio, likes simple, sweet, character-driven stories, and books that will make you cry.

Cress by Marissa Meyer


Recommended to anyone who likes fairytale retellings, multiple perspectives, action-filled stories, quirky characters, epic romances, and a good long, series. This is my favorite book of the year so far! The Lunar Chronicles series is highly recommended to anyone and everyone.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson


Recommended to anyone who likes an interesting concept, mystery, and light, "fluffy" reads. This is not a hard book to read and is a great remedy for a book hangover. In fact, I used this book to move on after finishing Cress.

Show Off Anthology by Joe Bunting


Recommended to anyone who likes short stories, simple stories, quick reads, and anthologies.

Movies I Watched

"Star Wars: A New Hope" (re-watch)


Recommended to anyone who likes sci-fi, space stories, and epic adventures.

"Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"


Recommended to anyone who likes to laugh, light, "fluffy" stories, and goofy movies.

Quotes I Wrote

(I haven't written a whole lot this month, what with the move and all, but I started the sequel to The Sorceress and managed to get about forty pages done so far.)

Anya nodded again. "Of course. Extra protection never hurt anybody."

The king grinned. "Glad to hear it. Far too many generals let their pride get in the way of their safety."
"Better to be safe and have no pride than to be dead and have too much of it."
--The Sorceress #2.

He shifted in his seat, looking uncomfortable. "I have to admit, I had my doubts about you being the one to investigate the matter, what with you being--well . . . you're a girl, after all. But the popular opinion of you does seem to be very high, so I thought I'd give you a shot. Prove me wrong, eh?" 
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, I have yet to find a task I can't perform due to my lack of male parts."
--The Sorceress #2.

Obsessions I Acquired

DOTA 2, a video game that most of the teenagers in our homeschool group plays.

Our new house! :) My bedroom is painted bright yellow, and I got a big bookshelf that I've stuffed full of the books that were sitting under my chair before.

Picture of the Month

Our family is working on putting together a writer's room in our new house right now, so I've been thinking about what to put around in my space to motivate me to be productive. Someone on Figment mentioned how she has "writing police" all over her desk, and this picture was the first one she shared. Let's see how much it helps!

How was your May?

PS: My good blogger friend Karoline Kingley is starting up a summer book club! :) If you want to participate, check out her blog post HERE.