What’s Up Wednesday

WUWRocketWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog. And in honor of What’s Up Wednesday for the fall, Jaime made some beautiful new buttons. I’ll feature them all over the next few weeks.

What I’m Reading

After I finished Crown of Midnight, I was hesitant to jump right into another book. For the next books sake. So, I waited a few days, in which time Crown of Midnight and The Bitter Kingdom both hit the New York Times Bestsellers list! This makes me happy as both a reader of YA fantasy, and a writer of it. I decided to pick up a book by trailblazer for females writing in Fantasy – both YA and Adult — Robin McKinley. I have already read a handful of her books, but had been putting off the book that started it her career. Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and the writing is…well…beautiful. Robin McKinley tells stories with meandering, dreamy narration, the kind many of us wish we could execute with even half the grace she manages to. It was the perfect book to follow up Crown of Midnight and celebrate two wonderful YA fantasy novels hitting the bestsellers list!

What I’m Writing

A lot. I’ve worked on the sequel to my novel (still querying…with some nice developments) and my WiP, alternating, this week. I’ll have a few days with one story screaming for attention, and then it quiets, and the other takes over. It has gotten very noisy in my brain, but the company of my characters is always welcome. I spent a good deal of time writing a brief history of the world my WiP is set in, and figuring out some major world-building questions. This resulted in the realization that I am now working on a much larger project than I meant to when I set out to write this novel. Which leads to…

I really had hoped my second project would be a) not fantasy b) not a series c) not complicated. Why? REDHUNT, my novel in query phase, is all of the above. I have failed my own goals miserably in my WiP because it is solidly all three, and I am hopeless to ever write anything that isn’t.

What Inspires Me

My Hawaiian Mama. I have mentioned my brother married a dazzling Hawaiian beauty. This last weekend some of her family visited, and I got to spend time with her Mama. Christine talked stories with me about the Hawaiian islands, helping me gain some perspective on the research I had already done, giving me more research to do, and enchanting me with knowledge only a true Kumu could. Here is a video from my time in Hawaii which features my new sis, her mother, and her younger sister. To train their voices, Hawaiian women stand beside the ocean, aiming to be heard above the roar of the waves.

 

On September 11th, hold near the ones you love and remember that time waits for no one. We are here and then gone. Be thankful for now.

Pilot Point, TX. Yesterday the director of our film, Cassie’s Cause, and I met with some local talent in Pilot Point to discuss filming a scene from our movie on the square. I’ll be doing a post about this on the film blog, but the characters and setting have already inspired more ideas in my mind than I can number.

What Else I’m Up To

I spent most of my day cleaning and reorganizing Sam’s bedroom yesterday. I had been meaning to get to it before his birthday. Then I meant to get to it once birthday presents destroyed all semblance of organization. Then I crossed over into full on neglect once we got another piece of furniture for the room. I finally got the courage to tackle it (my OCD makes these kinds of projects really daunting), just in time for my aunt to bring him a fabulous new chair.

"Reading" in his Batman chair.

“Reading” in his Batman chair.

Have a wonder-filled Wednesday! And I’d love to hear…what’s up with you?

Fire and Thorns Trilogy (Wherein, I make my feelings clear.)

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about Rae Carson’s PHENOMENAL Fire and Thorns trilogy since I finished reading an ARC of The Bitter Kingdom a couple weeks ago. Then I got sidetracked with my own writing dramas and nearly forgot.

Never fear, I am here now to talk about these books and why I think you should all pick them up pronto. No excuses.

Oh, the romance I have with these books! It’s been a little over a year since I first picked up The Girl of Fire and Thorns — on a whim due to a particularly glowing review from a fellow YA fiend — and I have salivated for each subsequent sequel since.

As series go, this one starts off at a wonderful place. Elisa — magic stone entrusted princess and role model for all girls who’ve glowered in the shadow of a gorgeous and slim sibling — is married off to the a rather handsome, but slightly weak spirited king, at sixteen. Her life quickly turns upside down and sideways as everything she ever knew about herself is brought into question. The first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, is an introduction to Elisa, the magic in her world, the stakes against her, and the beautiful tentativeness of first love.

The journey continues in The Crown of Embers. Elisa is now Queen Regent, her understanding of the power in her Godstone grows, just as her responsibility to her people in the terrible war against the Inviernos and their black-magic. In the midst of grappling with all this, Elisa is falling in love with someone she really can’t have, and we all suffer right along with her. Note: I have discussed this many times on my blog. The make-out scene in this novel is deserving of a re-read. Or ten. I read it again just now.

In the final chapter of this saga, The Bitter Kingdom, we follow Elisa to the gate of the enemy, as she wields a dangerous and volatile power with grave and unpredictable consequences, all to save her land and her love. It’s harrowing, certainly, but mixed with such heart and vibrancy I was invigorated until the wee hours of the night reading. I especially enjoyed the relationship she develops with a horse she wants to hate, as well as a slave girl she takes under her wing. It’s a satisfying end to a series I didn’t want to see end. There is also plenty of delicious romance to make your toes curl and your stomach flip-flop. Ya know, if you like that sort of thing.

Elisa is a heroine I love and admire. Her evolution over the series created an allegiance few have managed with me. In fact, her fierce loyalty and sense of duty is a quality I am drawn to in real life, and something I long to exhibit more accurately myself.

As a writer, I choose books for all sorts of reasons. Research. Swoony boys. World-building. But above all, a book must make me feel. It must take me out of my own world, and the ping of my pinball thoughts, long enough to stop picking my nails and start smiling again. If a book can do that, I will love it forever. I will carry it with me into conversations. I will push it into hands, and write about it on my blog.

Rae Carson managed that so beautifully with these books, that my conscience won’t allow me not to talk about it. And it’s why I’m threatening you (however emptily, because hello, this is the internet) to read them or else.

Read them. They can be found through Indiebound.org as well as most larger online retailers. Or go to your local bookstore. If they don’t have it at your local bookstore, demand why. I did this at mine, and the bookseller kindly explained they had sold out. OK, acceptable.

Write me when you get to that scene in The Crown of Embers. We’ll swoon together.

What’s up Wednesday July 31


whats up wednesday
What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s

What I’m Reading 

I finished The Bitter Kingdom ARC. It’s phenomenal. I will probably be putting a post together soon about the whole series. I have thoroughly enjoyed each Fire and Thorns book.

I am about halfway through OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. This book is a hard one for me. I’ve had to take it in small, manageable bites. It may not be this way for everyone, but for someone with OCD tendencies — leanings that were much more dominate in the throws of adolescent hormones —I relate to Bea in a way that makes me ache, for her and for the part of myself that could be this way and isn’t, that it becomes difficult to stay with her. However, as a read it’s equally funny, romantic and deeply quirky, all things I enjoy in contemporary YA. There will likely be a full blog post about this book as well. I have a feeling it’s one I’ll need to talk about.

What I’m Writing

Many things. I have been so productive lately that I’m actually in very real danger of patting myself on the back and bragging. That being said, a lot of my night time productivity is due to the Twitter support from other Ready. Set. Write ladies.

This week I have written 5000 words on the manuscript for my sequel. At this point it is just for me, and still who knows what is going to happen with this series, but I am firmly in love with it. I may be more in love with it after my break from it. I am in danger of loving it so much now that I began the sequel that everything else will be boring.

I also wrote about 500 words on a new story. I tend to have very specific, overwhelming dreams, and this new idea was spawned by one of them. It comes complete with some plot twists and world building. Writing about this new world, in this very different narrative voice, is completely fascinating. It is still in the discovery stage, but the spark is there to explore.

What Inspires Me

As I said, the Ready. Set. Write ladies on Twitter. My first night back working I spent also dialoging with some of them on Twitter. I was surprised by how it truly motivated me to stay focused, knowing they were all writing and knew I was supposed to be writing instead of shittin’ around on the internet. Odd how accountability can add to your discipline. I have never had a hard time staying motivated during my writing days, but the evening, when I’m drowsy and there’s House Hunters International marathons on (perfect TV to check out to), have never been my most productive time.

Trees. As a girl, trees were sanctuaries. I grew up on acreage surrounded by old, massive oaks that I lived in and named and told secrets to. My home now is nestled into a hill with a thick tree fence of protection. From my office, I look out over the tops. Trees are all I see. I’m reminded of a particular quote from Anne of Green Gables, said to Matthew:

I had made up my mind that if you didn’t come for me tonight I’d go down the track to that big wild cherry-tree at the bend, and climb up into it to stay all night. I wouldn’t be a bit afraid, and it would be lovely to sleep in a wild cherry-tree all white with bloom in the moonshine, don’t you think? You could imagine you were dwelling in marble halls, couldn’t you?

Trees are also a thing in this new story I’m working on.

What Else I’m Up To

Today I begin filming on the web series I’ve written with the teens from my acting/writing workshop. We have been rehearsing and planning and throwing things together, and now we shoot. I am thrilled with their enthusiasm and creativity. Their talent and energy. Very exciting day.

I finally got a reading chair for my office. It’s whimsical and quirky. I feel like Snow White or Beatrix Potter or someone equally feminine and nature-loving.

Pictures of empty furniture are odd.

Pictures of empty furniture are odd.

Working out. I have been getting back in the swing of working out. I unintentionally took a break after Hawaii, but started back last Monday. This Monday, my brother trained his new wife (who is a Hawaiian dancer) and me. Walking is a challenge now. Stairs make me want to cry. My thighs will be gorgeous.

So…what’s up with you?

 

What’s up Wednesday, July 24

whats up wednesdayWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s post. We really hope you will take part!

I have missed a couple weeks, but I’m back to tell you guys what’s up. It’s been a hectic and strained couple of weeks. Emotional. Exhilarating. Sleepy. I’m glad to be back.

What I’m Reading

Finished all my betaing. I loved reading my friends as-yet-to-be published books. Reading for critique is so different than reading for pleasure, though, because you know there is a need to be more thorough, more critical. My favorite moments while betaing were when I was so lost in there story that my writer brain shut off and my reader brain turned on. I am nearly finished with an ARC of The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson. You GUYS! It’s amazingness. I want to kiss this book. ( *clears throat* Hector) Rae Carson can certainly write an epic ending. 

What I’m Writing

Scripts. I had a writing session with the teens from my workshop where we plotted out the three episodes in our web-series, which we begin filming next Wednesday. I had way too much fun. I took their plotting, which contained detailed dialog and description, and put scripts together for them to edit and tweak.

I’m also working on a new book that I just love, as well as the sequel to my novel, and my own short film idea that I hope to begin pre-production work on this fall. Lots of very intense writing projects happening right now, but I’m loving it. I’m breathing it.

What Inspires Me

Still hugely inspired by the teens in my workshop. These kids are brilliant. They also totally get my fixation with Power Rangers and fangirling. It’s good to be understood and appreciated.

My sister-in-laws. I have six (two on my husband’s side, four on mine), and they all bring something vibrant and different to our family. Those married to my brothers could almost be qualified as saints. And they love me, support me, make me laugh so hard my stomach hurts. This distinction is more important than you can understand if you have never been an ONLY.

Conversations with Sam, my son:

Sam: Momma, I’m ready to go to the superpower store.

Me: (driving) Where is that?

Sam: Metropolis.

Me: How do you pay for things at the superpower store?

Sam: Your credit card.

Me: (shocked, mock disapproval) I’m not made of money.

Sam: You could be if we went to the superpower store.

Faced.

This picture from the lovely Sara Biren.

Sara's pic. Brainerd Lakes.

Sara’s pic. Brainerd Lakes.

What Else I’m Up To

couch

We finally got our furniture. I literally never want to move from that couch. Life in our home has digressed into the artful game of who gets the chaise.

Figuring out my next step in this publishing game. Things have shifted, and even though I can’t fully disclose all of it, know I am at a weird and exciting place. I am thankful to you lovely Ready. Set. Write. ladies and my blog readers. It’s good to know you’re not in this alone.

My brother and his wife, who live in Jerusalem, Israel, just welcomed a baby boy. Big sis Lily is proud, and they are all awesome. It’s such a blessing to all of us. So proud of them for doing what they do over there.

elijah

Happy Wednesday!