Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Signing - Joy Hensley's Rites of Passage

I'm lucky to live in Philadelphia where signings aren't hard to find--and going to NYC for them is always a quick jump in the car. I've been trying to go to more signings to learn more about that public part of promoting a book and interacting with readers.

So when writer friend and all-around awesome person, Joy Hensley was celebrating the launch of her book Rites of Passage, I trekked down to Virginia. Not only did I get to crash on Jodi Meadows' couch, but I got to attend one of the coolest, most unique signings ever!

Because Rites of Passage is based on Joy's own experiences attending a military school, the signing was held at the Staunton Military Academy (SMA) and Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership museum. Joy did the usual reading and taking questions--but then the women who were attending the school presented her with a really nice jacket and showed us some of their drills.

The turnout was amazing, with a lot of Joy's family in attendance as well as her former students (she taught 8th grade), former colleagues and military school friends. She talked about her experience at military school--some of which made it into her book! She advised anyone who is considering military college or an ROTC program that, "It will suck. But it will be worth it in the end."

Plus, she had cool swag and cupcakes!

I loved Rites of Passage. It was full of chilling suspense and gave me a huge appreciation for those who pursue military careers. Add Joy's book on GoodReads here.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

For Your TBR Pile - Wildlife

By Fiona Wood
Published: September 16,  Little, Brown (Poppy)

From GoodReads: During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating.

New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal unfolding around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can't help but be drawn back into the land of the living.

Thank you LBKids for the eARC!

My Thoughts:

Some of my favorite stories have come from Australian writers (Kirsty Eagar, Cath Crowley, Melina Marchetta), and I am so happy to include this one on that list. Told in duel POV, Sib and Lou tell their stories from an outdoor education camp. Popular Sib is still adjusting to her newfound popularity while new girl Lou tries to find her footing in starting over with a broken heart.

I loved getting Sib's POV from her first person narrative, while Lou's was written like journal entries. In the beginning, Lou's chapters come across as distant and a bit confusing at times, but she warms up. Sib also comes across as excitable and jumpy--a bit hard to grasp onto at first, but as the drama at school unfolds, she shows her depth.

I really liked the questions this book tackled about friendship and first love. And I felt like this book examined boundaries very well--How far do we let someone push us before they cross a line, especially if that person is someone we trusted? Who do we let into the most private areas of our lives?

As a picky thing: I had a hard time with some of the Australian words, only because I'm not familiar, but it didn't pull me out of the story too much.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hayley's Story

Two years ago, my best friend got sick. What started as a hospital stay for some strange symptoms became a two year battle for an answer. Hayley was diagnosed with vasculitis, a rare disease that has few treatment options and little recognition (not even when a former GhostBuster died from it earlier this year). I'll let her explain in her own words.

What do you do when your friend gets sick? With half a country between us, there wasn't a lot I could do from Philadelphia while Hayley suffered in Alabama. I couldn't rush to her side or sit in the hospital to keep her company or help her at home. I tried my best: I mailed books and presents, sent balloons, checked in as much as I could. It could never, ever be enough.

My friendship with Hayley has taught me a lot about faith. Faith that life truly won't give you more than you can handle. Faith that a simple prayer can make the biggest difference. Faith that true friends won't leave you in your time of need.

I can't do much for Hayley. I can't find a cure or alleviate any of her pain, but I can help share her story and donate to the fund set up to help her in this time of need. If you feel it in your heart, please help my friend.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently Reading - September 2014

Holy smokes, where did summer go?? I've been seriously slacking on updating my Currently Reading posts, but I've been reading like crazy this year. I surpassed my GoodReads Reading Challenge goal in July and it looks like I might hit 100 by the end of the year (which is insane because I never thought I could read that much! Like, ever).

Anyway, here are a few great books I read this month and wanted to share.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe came highly recommended by a friend. I absolutely adored this book! No wonder it won a bajillion awards last year. Check it out here.

Kiss Kill Vanish was an ARC given to me by Harper and it was amazing. I love Jessica Martinez's work. This is by far my favorite of her books, and I can't wait for it to come out next month. My review is here and her GoodReads page is there.

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley was a total random find. Edelweiss was giving out eARCs and I jumped at the opportunity to read. This was the first of Shaun David Hutchinson's work that I'd read and he won me over as a huge fan with this book. It comes out in January! Review here. GoodReads page there.

So here's what I have lined up for September (I am only reading books that start with the letter W, apparently). Have you read any of these? Do you have any recommendations?

How To Survive A Word Challenge

This morning I'm about 2K words away from the #10KbyLaborDay goal I set on Friday. I'm currently working on a first draft, which is the hardest for me. For me, first drafts are the most painful because I just need to get stuff down on the paper.

To be honest, I wasn't completely sure I was going to make it. But here are some tips I picked up along the way.

BICHOK! That is Butt In Chair. Hands On Keyboard. Really, make any excuse you want, but that's the only thing holding you back from writing 500 words or 10K words.

Find some friends to take the challenge with you and hold you accountable. Confession: Honestly, the only reason I got my butt in that chair Sunday was because I knew everyone on the hashtag was asking where I was. I was toying with the idea of skipping the whole day and just finishing up 4K on Monday. Nope! My #10KbyLaborDay-ers held me accountable. I wrote 2K Sunday night. Thank you, friends!

The writing challenge is not your whole life. No way! I still did laundry, went for walks, watched my favorite TV shows, went grocery shopping--and even cleaned out my fridge (which I made Jodi Meadows watch on FaceTime--hahaha!). I heard other people say they were in the car with their families, spending time with their kids, going to church, but they came back. If you try to chain yourself down to the challenge, you're going to burn yourself out. Set times to sit down as your writing time (usually for us it was an hour or two in the early afternoon and later at night). Live your life--but don't let your life make excuses for why you can't get some writing in!

Hit a tough spot? Skip it. Even though I outlined before, I kept hitting little rough spots where I wasn't sure how things would connect up or why someone was doing something. So I highlighted the parts I knew needed to be developed skipped around a lot. I wrote the dialogue I knew was solid and action I knew would definitely happen. And when it got really rough and I started to sputter out, I wrote the scene I just plain wanted to. Even if they were much, much later in the story.

Warm ups. What do you think this blog is? A warm up so I can write 2K (or maybe MORE) today. Taking breaks to write anything else--an email, a Facebook post, a letter to your ignored family members--can help you get your writing muscles warmed up for the challenge.

Block out all your distractions. Like my mother always said, a clear desk is a clear head. When I'm sitting down to write, no books, no iPads, no nail polish or cosmetics (I tend to get distracted by those most easily) are allowed in my working space.

Keep a notebook handy. Nothing interrupts the flow more than "Uggg! I forgot to add a dog to this scene!" (or whatever it is you forgot). Don't worry about it. Just keep going dogless. I keep a notebook handy and make a For 2nd Draft List. Anything I know needs to be layered back in but I need to develop later.

Set small goals. This entire time, I have not been worried about making 10K. For me, it's all about 1K more. 500 more. Set your goals small. I mean, look, if I have 1,500 words at the end of this weekend, I win because that's 1,500 I didn't have before. So anyone who wants to jump in late to a writing challenge, just do it. It will help you get further along than deciding not to and then watching Netflix all weekend (although, God, I wish I was watching Netflix this weekend).

Make it to the finish line. The other thing about small goals is that I noticed that when I realized I just needed 200 more words to hit goal, those would be the hardest 200 words to write EVER. I could've easily shrugged it off and said "close enough" and gone to bed. NO! Finish it. 200 words is a paragraph. And once I got that paragraph moving, I'd go over the goal I set anyway. I'm way happier starting off this morning with 8K and some change than I would've been 200 behind.

Take your eyes off the number. A watched pot never boils and a watched word count will not climb. The faster you stop  lose yourself in the scene, the more the numbers won't matter. Don't let anything interrupt that flow--not checking in on the hour on a hashtag, not a ringing phone, and especially not a number goal. Just write.

Hope this helps anyone out there writing today! 
Come join us on Twitter at #10KbyLaborDay!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...