Monday, February 11, 2013

January Mini-Reviews

Once again, I'm attempting to read 52 books in a year. Last year I read 53. So I know it's possible, even if January was a rough start. Here's an overview of what I read last month.

Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend by Becca Ann. This is one of those books that I read in a single sitting. the voice was hilarious, the characters were strong, and romance was melt in your boots steamy. Just a precaution,  there is some swearing and a teen sex scene, but it was kept pretty low-key.

Seriously cute story and something that will stay with me for a long time. If you're looking for something cute and romantic for Valentines, this is your book.

Aura by Rebecca Lynn Talley. I was really excited to read this one, which is probably why I felt so disappointed after having done so. I LOVE the concept of this story. There were so many good themes in this book, and I felt like with a little more work, it could have been knock your socks off amazing. As it was, I really struggled to get through it. The main character kept waffling on what she wanted and I didn't feel the urgency I should have felt at the midpoint when something happened to her parents.  I wanted to love this book, and I'm sure there are some people who do, but it just wasn't my favorite.

 Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Beautiful prose. Haunting Story. Strong characters. Everything a book should be. Except.... I love this book, really, I did. I've heard so many good things about it and from the first page I just knew it was going to be amazing. It started off a little too smexy for me, but that died down pretty quick.

The major drawback to this story was back-story. Yes, it was essential to the story-line, but it could have been resolved in a single chapter. Instead it takes up almost the entire second half of the book. The author was trying to draw out the big reveal, but it lasted Waayyyyy too long. I will be reading the second book, but if she launches into back story again, I'm done. It was annoying and distracting.

If I rated this book on goodreads I'd still give it four stars for the excellent writing. That backstory was just not my cup of tea.

What was your favorite read last month?

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Cat and the Dreamer

Today I'd like to welcome Annalisa Crawford to my blog. She'll be talking about her writing journey since the release of her novella the cat and the dreamer last year. Take it away Annalisa!

It's been a year since my novella Cat and The Dreamer was published! There have been lots of changes in my own life in that time, and I started to wonder what else had changed...

Thank you Jennie for inviting me over today!

Today's topic: What I've been up to since last February!

I'd already started a new novel before February. It's currently in a folder on a shelf, waiting to be re-written. It's about a man who founds a cult and predicts the end of the world. But I'm not happy with the ending. So until I have that wake up with the perfect solution moment (which will happen, just not on my time-scale) it's staying on the shelf.

In April I took part in the Blogging from A - Z Challenge, which was an amazing experience, and I found lots of new bloggers, some of whom have become friends. A month of solid blogging was hard. Although I had the posts written and scheduled in advance, the sheer number of blogs to try to read and comment on, plus following up the comments on my posts and visiting those bloggers if I hadn't already, made writing impossible - an excuse which I unfortunately used for the following month too!

By June I was fully into the swing of not writing but marketing Cat and The Dreamer. You notice how marketing is in italics? That's because marketing meant lots of Facebook time, lots of reading online newspapers and trying to get to grips with Sudoku. It's very easy to get out of the swing of writing, but I was also thinking about my next project. The problem was I didn't have a title and I didn't have a first line - immediate problems that always mean I can't progress. Eventually I started writing...

So between August and October I wrote a ghost-ish story, it's currently 8500 words long, and needs a good revision, but the ending is written, and it has a title!

This year was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo... Boy, that's a scary thing isn't it? I'd been considering it, but didn't seriously think I would until a Twitter conversation with a fellow writer when we egged each other on and signed up. Even the novel I mentioned at the beginning of this post isn't 50,000 words and I spent a good six months writing that, so I started on the 1st with no expectation. It was a Friday - I worked. The next day I spent time with my kids, the day after I worked again... It was Day 5 before I sat down properly. I didn't have a story, just a title and first line and a vague idea. I started slowly, underachieving the word count each day, until one day I exceeded it. Suddenly, I got the hang of writing words even if they didn't make sense. In one scene my two characters started explaining how they had to waffle for 1000 words because it was important to the author!

I did it! 50,142 words of a novel which is also in a file and waiting to be rewritten. But this file is on the floor beside me as I type. This novel is my current project. It's about a hotel, an explosion and how it changes the lives of the people caught up in it. And if this one day gets published, you'll be able to say you read about it here first!

Did you take part in the A-Z Challenge or NaNoWriMo?
How did you find it? What else were you writing this year?

About Cat and The Dreamer
As a teenager, Julia survived a suicide pact, while her best friend Rachel died. Julia’s only escape from her guilt, and her mother’s over-protection, is her imagination. When Adam arrives in the office, Julia’s world takes a startling turn as she realises reality can be much more fun than fantasy. Finally she has someone who can help her make the most of her life. But can she allow herself to be truly happy?

Cat and The Dreamer is available on Kindle UK, Kindle US, Kobo, Nook, iTunes/iBooks, and via Vagabondage Press.

Annalisa Crawford lives and writes in Cornwall with a good supply of beaches and moorland to keep her inspired. She finds endless possibilities in the relationships between people. Several new projects are on the cards for 2013.
Find her on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG: Pitches

I totally forgot until I went to Robin's blog, that it's the first Wednesday of the month *facepalm*. Luckily, I had something in mind to write for the insecure writer's support group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

As you may have guessed from the title, I'm going to talk pitches. The other day I signed up for the Pikes Peak writing conference in April. (If you're going, let me know so we can hang out!) I signed up for a pitch session and after emailing someone from the conference I was told that there was a strong possibility that I'll get the chance to pitch.

I've never done an oral pitch before, and I'm super nervous. I've heard people tell me that it's a conversation, so I should treat it like such, but I have a few questions.

1. Do I memorize my pitch, and how long should it be?
2. What kind of questions should I expect?
3. What's the one thing you wish you had known before you gave your first oral pitch?

Any and all advice would be extremly helpful. Thank you!

Also, here's a little video I found from Brandon Sanderson yesterday on pitches. Enjoy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Overcoming Adversity Blogfest

The amazing Nick Willford is hosting his first blogfest today! He's asked bloggers to write a short story for an anthology. These stories will be published and sold with proceeds going to a cause dear to his heart.

His step-son, Andrew, has cerebral palsy. He's graduating from and excellent Highschool, but doesn't have much choice when it comes to college. Because of the current way of running things, his step-son won't get an education that will devlop his career. He's asking us to help so that he can do something about it. I say that's a worthy cause if there ever was one!

Scattergun Scribblings

Here's my story -

Jenna Winter slouched against the white brick wall of the school. Other hopefuls in tight pink leotards and brand new toe shoes stretched around her. The lean girl next to her lifted a toe to her knee as she completed a perfect pirouette, her arms going from around her waist to above her head.

It made Jenna want to throw up. She wasn't good enough to be here. She knew it. No matter how many hours she stood in front of the mirror and practiced each movementfrom the placement of her head to arch of her footit never looked quite right.

"54, 68, 23, and 19. You're up."

Jenna's back went stiff. She smoothed the crinkled 68 that was pinned to her stomach and walked into the studio. Sweat dripped from her brow and the dancing hadn't even begun.  A panel of judges sat against the wall of mirrors, notebooks open and pens poised to write their findings.

After a deep breath, Jenna shuffled her feet to third position and held her rounded arms in the air, waiting for the music to begin.

The first note pierced the silence, transporting Jenna from the studio to another world. Her eyes focused above the judges heads, her mind transporting her to a world where nothing existed but movement and sound. Back curving, arms flying, head spinning, the music took her away.

Delicate fingers traced the sky as her toes came to rest on the ground once more. She had done it. A smiled transformed her face as she looked up at the judging panel. There was no way she was getting called back, but it didn't matter.

What did matter was that she did it. She came here and danced her best, even if she wasn't good enough. For that, she was proud.


Is there anything you wish you could overcome?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Imaginary Friends Bloghop

It's time for the Imaginary Friends Bloghop hosted by the awesome Annalisa Crawford and Kyra Lennon! It's time to share our childhood imaginary friends.

I didn't have any imaginary friends, but I did have a huge imagination. Mostly I'd make up stories about people and animals. (Who would have guessed, right?)

Here's what my imagination has come up with today - 

Calico twisted her forked tail in her paws as she waited in front the mirror. Once again, Paige was late today. It seemed like Paige’s visits were becoming less and less frequent.

“I thought I’d find you here,” Calico’s mother said, stepping into the room.

Calico sighed and stepped down from her stool, turning her back to the mirror. “How did you guess?”

A smile tugged at her mother’s lips. “You’re always consorting with that thing.”

“Mom, that thing is a human girl. She has a name.”

Calico’s mom shook her head. “You know how I feel about this. She’s going to abandon you.”

A lump formed in Calico’s throat. She took a tentative step forward. “I thought Paige was different, but now I’m starting to doubt.”

Her mother opened her arms wide, and calico ran across the shadowed room to be held like the child she was. “Perhaps,” her mother said, “you should leave first. It might hurt less.”

Calico rubbed her cheek on her mother’s shoulder. “Why do they do this to us, mom? When I first saw 
Paige in the mirror I thought we would be best friends forever.”

Gentle claws ran through Calico’s fur. “In their world, you aren’t real. Paige’s parents probably frown on her association with you. Now that she’s getting older, she's wondering if you’re something she made up.”

“But I am real,” Calico said, pulling away to look in her mother’s yellow, red, and brown face. “How could she not know that after all the time we spent together?”

“I’ll tell you what,” Her mother said, “I’ll talk to the council and we’ll see if they can find you a new friend.”

Calico nuzzled back into her mom's shoulder. “Thanks mom, but it’s probably best if I grow up too.”


What was your imagination like as a kid?