August 29, 2013

5 Favorite Books

Neil Gaiman said that picking his five favorite books would be a lot like "picking the five body parts you'd most like not to lose." Well. I'm about to do that. So get ready. These are my five favorite books RIGHT NOW. Today. Because these books are not my favorite ones from yesterday, and they probably won't be my favorites tomorrow. But, that's the beauty of having read so many wonderful books - a lot of favorites come from the different moods we find ourselves in each day. 

1. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I love this book. Beautifully written and told and everything.

2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I'm currently reading this again and am loving it even more than the first time. So beautifully told - straight forward but detailed. There are different kinds of beauty here.

3. The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
A very lyrical and different book. I enjoyed it so much more than I thought I would, which I thought would be a lot. Unlike anything out there.

4. The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
Epic. Only Bray can make political statements while supporting everyone - have incredibly real characters while shooting down most stereotypes all while including a message. Awesome.

5. Ironside by Holly Black
I love dark stories and this story is DARK. And lyrically told. I loved it.

Be sure to check out more recs and reads on facebook HERE (giveaway soon).

August 22, 2013

Break The Rules

In terms of writing, I could not have said this better. I love the truth behind this quote so much. This is amazing writing and grammar advice. I used to think that the rules didn't apply at all - that a lot of writing came from just doing your own thing. And while that is true, the only way you can break the rules as a writer is to know what to break in the first place. Something I will always remember learning, back then and now daily. 

 Break writing and grammar and story rules.

 Break them often.

 Breaking them is how brilliance is crafted.

 But know what you're breaking - why and how.

August 21, 2013

The Perfect Paragraph

I've begun reading The Casual Vacancy, and in doing so I've realized a few things. 

1) The Casual Vacancy is a novel constructed by a story best read between the lines. Often, Rowling doesn't write what she means, rather what she doesn't. She hints, creates this puzzle for the reader to figure out, and I really enjoy that. Taking this approach at face value, it gives the reader freedom to process the novel in a thousand different ways. As a writer, it's wonderful to see an author have the skills to actually be in complete control of her words.

2) The Casual Vacancy is more of a character study than anything. The plot, for so many reasons, is the characters. And the characters are the plot. 

3) I went into this novel with the idea that I would be reading it for the gorgeous writing. Writing, in fact, was my one expectation. The rest was this: I wanted the story to find me, not the other way around. And that, for me, was the perfect approach because when I came across a paragraph on page 36 of The Casual Vacancy, my mind exploded and I smiled.

"Pagford was as lovely as ever this morning, and Howard knew a sublime moment of exultation in the existence, both of himself, and of the town to which he belonged, as he saw it, like a pulsing heart. He was here to drink it all in - the glossy black benches, the red and purple flowers, the sunlight gilding the top of the stone cross - and Barry Fairbrother was gone. It was difficult not to sense a greater design in this sudden rearrangement of what Howard saw as the battlefield across which he and Barry had faced each other for so long."

In this paragraph, Rowling has established the "main" plot of the story - the casual vacancy - and how it creates a kind of war zone for the town. She painted the town ideal and beautiful, while also conveying how the book itself is a black, dramatic comedy* of sorts. She tells the reader how most of the characters see the town, and how the reader should through their eyes - but she also underlines this idea that the town is not what it seems, and so the character should not be either. Also, she establishes the absurdity of this novel itself - the "greater design" - almost admitting that the design of the novel is there if you look for it like a promise, but not easy to spot - again, admitting that most of the plot is within the characters and setting. The town is perfect, but the characters are not. But then again, if the characters are the ones who see and make and create the town, can the town be perfect or is it just perception? Perhaps this is a novel of perception rather than plot. 

Anyway. I love this paragraph so much. I think it is damn near perfect, and conveys the scope of the story perfectly. I'm enjoying The Casual Vacancy, the writing. I have not read any actual reviews of this book, only looked at star ratings, so I'm not sure the specifics of the story - and I wanted it that way when I started this. From the clues Rowling has dropped, this character study seems to be a social commentary on many things, love included - and I'm curious to see how things like religion, state, and family play out. I'll be sure to keep my thoughts on the blog or on facebook.

* "comedy" here means, in my mind, a kind of overly dramatic tale of the extreme and absurd. Not exactly funny, just outlandish.

August 18, 2013

Character Interview from Light of the Moon

Check it out!

Over on Michelle Nicole's blog you'll find a character interview with Calum Wade from Light of the Moon. In it, Calum confesses his love for Kate as well as his favorite thing about her. He also talks about what his biggest regret is and what he would like to do in this future. Also, favorite color.


MN: What are the top three qualities (physical or not) that you look for in a significant other? 

CW: In Kate, I love her courage, strength, and loyalty. I love how she makes me feel. And I know, more than anything, that Kate is a girl stronger than I am, and I love that about her.

Read the full interview HERE. And be sure to check out Michelle Nicole's blog next week for your chance to NAME A CHARACTER IN SHADOW OF THE SUN, the sequel to Light of the Moon.

August 16, 2013

"If we can’t write diversity into sci-fi, then what’s the point?"

"If we can’t write diversity into sci-fi, then what’s the point? You don’t create new worlds to give them all the same limits of the old ones."

Jared Padalecki and gummy bears

Apparently Jared Padalecki from Supernatural loves gummy bears (28:45) just as much or more than I do. I feel like I should challenge him to a contest of some kind. Yes?

August 12, 2013

Light of the Moon is on sale for a limited time! ‪#‎99cents‬

Light of the Moon, the first epic book in the Legend of the Dreamer series, is on sale for just 99cents for a very limited time! Check it out on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Get lost among the stars.

August 10, 2013

August 9, 2013

We're All a Little Cursed

When Calum opened his eyes, I saw galaxies. Millions of tiny stars shone in the blue; a vast sky filled with hope. He said, “I don’t want you to change who you are, but you can’t be afraid to open your heart a little.” 

“I’m not afraid,” I lied. “It’s just that there are things about me you don’t understand. I’m cursed. This thing that I am? It’s not going away anytime soon.” 

“We’re all a little cursed, I think, but we can still love as if we weren’t,” Calum said, a smile curving into his lips.

August 6, 2013

I don’t like rules, especially when it comes to writing.

I don’t like rules, especially when it comes to writing. 

In a lot of ways, I write characters instead of stories. Emotions instead of plot. At first, I didn’t think like this. Not at all. The countless times I tried to start and finish novels in the past were entirely focused on plot and action and the intensity in which things happened. But then I thought this: When I finish a book, a good book, I am left with a feeling at the end. Not a memory of plot or action. For me, finishing a book is very different than starting one, and that sense of emotional appreciation found only at the end of a wonderful read is the one I write for. 

Which brings me to rules. On writing, Maggie Stiefvater wrote this: “I was ready to write the book that only I could write. Because if it was about these things that were eating at me, it would have emotional truth, and no matter how great your plot or your hook or your legend is, if you don't have the emotional hook, it's just not going to mean anything to anybody else. It might be fun. But it will also be forgettable.” 

The wonderful thing about being an author is that there are no rules to writing a novel. Rather, there are very few you should actually listen to. Though you’ll find countless pieces of advice on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc, take it all in stride and find what works for you instead of what works for others. (Unless you’re querying. Then check some rules.) Honestly, no one knows it all. No author knows all the rules, unless they’re talking about the rules that work for them. When it comes to writing, the only rules you should ever follow are the ones that work for you. There will always be another who gets you, who loves what you love in the way of words and books. And even if it takes longer to find your way, rules and “must haves” and “should haves” and “if you don’t do it this way you fail” can only slow you down. Those types of rules don’t make things, they break things. 
So, I break rules. I don’t even bother with plot at the beginning. I don’t even think about it. My current WIP has a plot that has changed countless times, and it’s still not entirely worked out. My characters, however, are real to me. Alive. And I know what they do in the story will happen eventually. Plot always finds a way. When I write, I think about voice and character and background and who I want a character to be. I think a little about love, about life. What makes a character tick and breathe and love and hate. I try to write the books I can’t find, because no one else will ever be able to write those books. To write characters so vividly alive they seem to breathe, because if I don’t care about the characters, than why write it? I write emotions first, plot second. There is still story. Still action. Still intensity. But these are books about people, and that is and will always be my focus. 

That said, there are no rules. And in a lot of ways, my ideas here aren’t even about breaking the rules, but about finding ones that work for you. These are just ideas that work for me. What works for you?

August 5, 2013

Prologue and Discussion Questions

You can now read the complete prologue from Light of the Moon on the blog. You can also check out and download discussion question for Light of the Moon!

Both can be found in the Extras tab on the blog or HERE