Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Underworld by Meg Cabot

Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape.

Have you ever had mixed feelings about a book - like I really love this book but I really am not sure why? Maybe I should think on this then blog. *Three days pass* yeah I really like the book I still don't know why. 

That this entire series. I re-read Abandoned by Meg Cabot (same feelings as described above) but when I was done I could not wait to burn through Underworld. I needed to know more about John and Pierce (FAVE NAME EVER for a girl), I want to know more about her grandmother. Was Pierce legit stuck in the underworld? Did John do that whole over-reacting thing that he does? Burning questions - but ask me why I like Pierce or John. John's easy - because I am a stereotypical YA reader - he's the hottie. I take that back - there is more to John, and even though he is a bit superhuman and all, he's a normal teenage guy who acts impulsively, and he gets jealous, and he's kind of selfish. Hey I could meet him on the street! 

Pierce - not your smartest heroine. I really think she should listen to John more. She doesn't gets herself into some trouble, gets other people into trouble, people end up dying. 

One character that I absolutely love in this book is Pierce's Uncle Chris. The guy who got the bad rep, did time, and now is trying to figure out his way in the world. He cares for his family. I really like him. 

I wasn't the biggest fan of the ending. It wrapped up to fast for me and I feel if John was "smarter" it all could have been avoided, but then there wouldn't be a third book and then I would be pissed. 

I am not sure if this post makes sense. 

But in the end, OMG can the third one PLEASE come out. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pumped for Unwholly!

I had to share this. All of you know the fan that I am of Neal Shusterman. I mean the man is a genius. I can also tell you about my excitement for his sequel to Unwind (click to see my review).  Here is the summary and cover of Unwholly. Can we talk about how eerily creepy that cover is. AMAZING.

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa — and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp — people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simultaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live

If you have no read Unwind, I HIGHLY suggest it to you. Besides, you have to read that before you can read Unwholly, which I am sure is going to be just as good.

Who is excited?
Did I hear movie?
What are your thoughts on these two books? Do tell!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?

Darkness threatens to claim the Shadowhunters in the harrowing fifth book of the Mortal Instruments series

City of Lost Souls was not my favorite. Hey - don't throw that at me. It's isn't nice. I have been noticing a trend with me, that all these anticipated books that I have been dying for have been good, great in fact, because lets be real Cassandra Clare and Veronica Roth are writing goddesses, but I haven't been blown away. My reason: I have been stressed out with my job and I think that has affected my "wow" factors.


That being said, City of Lost Souls did run the course I thought it would. I thought Jace would show up a few times more than he did before they couldn't be separated anymore. I also thought that Clary was too trusting (well she never trusted him - but her hatred for him wasn't as apparent throughout until the end) of Sebastian, way too fast. I love Clary for the reason that she goes on instinct and she's a fighter. I love her for never giving up on Jace, for knowing it wasn't "him", for not being able to resist him, for going with Jace when it was a completely ridiculous and stupid idea. I love her.

Jace - I can't really talk about - because I will full out spoil it, simply breaks my heart for two reasons: because of what he does to people and because of what happens to him. I mean come on! Cut the dude a break!

This book made me feel several angry thoughts - and if you know me - I like that. I don't love the happy endings. I like it when my heart breaks, when I gasp how cruel people can be, when the evil guy gets the upper hand. This book had this.

For starters - ALEC WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! I don't blame Magnus. I don't blame him at all and Alec deserved what he got. But I felt bad for Magnus. I still want to date him.
And Sebastian - what a rat b@stard he is. I love a good villain to hate. And I hate how manipulative he is. I hate the control he has on the people around him. I love how he has a master plan to take over the world, and it is totally plausible in the shadowhunter world. I hate (LOVE) him.

I did feel this book was setting up for book 6. I felt that all these pieces needed to be placed just so, so that book 6 can wrap it up for me.

Brother Zachariah? Who do you think he is? Let me know - I have an inkling.

Any word on the movie?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What's Your Take (6)

Week 6 of What's Your Take!

This is week six for my new feature and I have to say everyone who has participated thus far has been awesome and really helped me define more about what this feature will be like and really it comes down to the title - What's Your Take. There are so many topics out there that all of you know about concerning the blogging network, publishing world, writing world, reading world. I love getting people's "takes," and so far I am learning a lot. Make sure to stop by every Thursday to see each week's feature and feel free to contact me to do a post! (Email Mf060784@gmail).

The importance of networking in person. Recently I have had the chance to really understand what it means to make real-life connections for promoting my book. I have worked for two years on building a blog following, surfing and cataloging information for promotion, and made a lot of super supportive friends - but mostly all on the internet. Now this is not a bad thing - I have reached people all the way in Australia. 

However recently, I have had three experiences where I got to self-promote in person. The first is I went to a banquet where I met Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed. Joe, Lia, and I talked books, trends, and most importantly writing. Joe and I both got some supportive feedback from Lia and made a friend with connection to the publishing world.  

Note 1: Go to conference, banquets, and meet and greets - it's not a joke - a few minutes with an author can open up some cracks in doors and windows for you. 

Next a very dear friend and favorite bartender Barb spoke to me about my book. Barb has bought my book in paperback, ebook, and bought one for her local library. She talked to me about her summer gift store she does here in the Chautauqua area. She talked to me about buying copies of my books and selling them for me at her store and doing a book signing. Now - I have no way of selling my book in a store - until now. It's a golden opportunity. Plus because of the frequent tourism to the area people who would not normally find my book - just might and take it back to their state, share it with a friend, who then shares it with a daughter, and WA BAM - Michelle Flick - household name! 

Note 2: Talk to people about your book - you never know how they can make that crack in the door or window bigger for you. 

Finally - another supportive friend of mine, Patti, is part of a book club. For the May meeting Patti bought all eight members a copy of my book to read. On top of that, these wonderful ladies invited me to join in on their May meeting. We talked for two hours about my book, the writing process, the publishing world, and shared stories. One of the ladies, Beth, stated that all of them would be firm supporters in my career. That is 7 more people, thanks to Patti, now know my name, my face, and have had personal interaction with me. These ladies were so wonderful. I was nervous and they put me at complete ease! 

Note 3: Book clubs - the untapped market. It's the same chain reaction. People who know the book, know you personally, will spread the word for you, making that crack slightly bigger. 

Anyone out there have a untapped resource they want to share with the rest of us? Want to add to Note 4? Believe me, I want to tap it :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sweet Evil and Wendy Higgins

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?

I fell in love with this book from the beginning. There was something about Anna - something not so "goody good" or "too pure" but normally good - if that doesn't make sense to anyone - I understand - but it did make sense in my head. Anna is part light angel and part fallen angel. And while Kaiden and her father, Belial, are protective of her, Anna has what no other Neph has - Patti. Her adoptive mother is a wonderfully supportive and loving mother. Patti I think is the real reason that Anna stays on the "right path.

The nephilim in this story have to "work" and what that means who ever their demonic father's vice is, they have to get human commit that sin. Kaiden (who shares the last name as my boyfriend) has lust - so he has to go out, sleep with people, and make it so they never forget him, ultimately ruining them. Anna's and Belial's vice is addictive substances. She has to get people to drink or do drugs - and give into it. While Anna is against all this - she is put in between the rock and the hard spot to make a decision.

Kaiden - swoon - lust - While I mentioned earlier that Kai has to sleep with women. This sets him up to never be able to love. How could you love someone and every night go out and sleep with him. And while I think I am a very secure person, over my cold dead body would my boyfriend/husband/ romantic love interest go and sleep with someone else.  But Kai is very lovable and you guessed it - Anna and him attract. TALK ABOUT SOME LUSTFUL SCENES!

Belial and Kai try and hide Anna from the other fallen angels and neph because of Anna's heritage. She is different from all neph and by the end we start to piece together how important Anna is to the fallen angel and angels of light battle that is coming.

It's the first five I have given in awhile. Go read it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature

As you all know, I am a HUGE fan of Divergent. I shove it every student that asks me: What's a good book to read? They all love it, just like me, and hounded me to finish Insurgent so that they could get their hands on it.

Now, no one can throw anything at me. I liked Divergent better. I did. NOT that Insurgent wasn't great. It was. It was completely different from the first book. There were a lot of great twists, a lot of things better explained, and I was generally happy with it. I mean I read it in two days while preparing for Prom and maintaining my full time job. I think I just fell in love with Divergent.

So what did I love about this book? Four. I am having a hard time calling him Tobias. Not sure why, but he definitely seems to want to be called Tobias in this book. Which is fine, my boyfriend is allowed to do that. He takes on a really strong leadership role in this book, and he kind of does it blindly, because of a certain somebody's influence (not Tris) and that surprised me. But then I remember he's like 18 and somewhere in that awesomeness of his character, he has to have a flaw.

I really hate Marcus. I mean, I hate him.

Tris, this time around, was the same, bull-headed, a little too fearless for those around her. I love it. She's my new Rose. She did have the fatal (OK not so fatal) flaw of being super insecure and reading into too much of her boyfriend's actions and ultimately letting it effect their relationship. IT'S sooooo annoying. Come on Tris. He's smart, hott, intelligent, brave, clearly loves you. So he's got baggage with his dad, wants him mommy, but in the end, she should know Four/Tobias is reliable. I did. He should date me.

The brother - GASP!

The ending, can someone email me about the ending. I don't get it. Either, I missed something or I don't get the "big" secret - or rather why it was so heavily guarded. Explanation needed from fellow bloggers!

In the end, go out and read this. If you haven't read Divergent - we are not friends until you do. It's that good.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's Your Take (5)

This is week five for my new feature and I have to say everyone who has participated thus far has been awesome and really helped me define more about what this feature will be like and really it comes down to the title - What's Your Take. There are so many topics out there that all of you know about concerning the blogging network, publishing world, writing world, reading world. I love getting people's "takes," and so far I am learning a lot. Make sure to stop by every Thursday to see each week's feature and feel free to contact me to do a post! (Email Mf060784@gmail).

I decided to participate in this week's What's Your Take. I am going to focus on reading trends in Young Adult. It wasn't until I became a Twilight/vampire junkee (though I have always been a vampire junkee) that I noticed that there were trends in Young Adult. I had always been, still am I suppose, a person who finds a book, picks it up because it looks good and goes with it, not typically because it's the trend. 

A review of trends:

The vampire trend - including Twilight, Blue Bloods, The Vampire Academies 

The werewolf trend - including The Linger Series, The Nightshade series. The Gathering

The everything other than vampire and werewolf supernatural trend - including The Mortal Instrument Series, The Hush Hush Series, Firelight

The Distopia trend -including Divergent, Article 5, Unwind, Withered

The spin on an old classic trend (and what seems to be the current trend) - including The Selection and The Goddess Hunt

Like I said,  I noticed trends with the vampire trend. I bought a bunch of different series, all vampires because my students were BURNING through them, and then they stopped, and one of my students brought in Linger, and they were all hooked. About four months later, I noticed some of my more avid readers, liking angel books and the non-typical supernatural creature books. This time I was ahead of the trend, but only because I was observant (finally) enough to realize it was happening. 

I have since been keeping a close watch on trends for my students. I still tend to be drawn to anything supernatural, yes especially vampires, but because of the trends, I get to find books like Divergent and The Goddess Hunt and get to share it with my students. 

But what is it about trends that? What is it about skinny jeans? What is it about Twitter? Trends - in general, what draws us to them, for whatever amount of time, and then why do we say, eh, that's enough. Next? 

I have an opinion, and am looking for other opinions. I think it's about the "new." There are so many things in life that do no change: job, friends, family, houses, etc. But trends allow to add a little spice into the mix. I can change my style of clothes. I can be in on the new social networking, until the next one. I can read about something new, to break up the every day life. 

Two questions: What do you think the next trend will be? AND What do you think it is about trends. 

Let me know if you want to participate in What's Your Take. It's a way to get your name out there and a chance to state your opinion on either reading or writing. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I did much better!

Week one 4,200 words!
Week two 2,322 words!

Week three zero

Week four zero 
Week five 4,223 words

And I organized the first 16 pages of the manuscript so its not just a bunch of scenes on my mac. I am a panster by nature. The actual assembling and filling in gaps (gaps that actually mean something and are not just filler) is hard for me. I know my characters get there - it's really clear in my head - but my head doesn't account for the details - like the same class schedule or  chit chat that people have with their friends or consistency in outfits - you know the stuff that makes you a detailed writer. I stink at that. :) But overall, it was a super productive week. 

I did some more brainstorming for the contemporary novel that is trying to push my current WIP out of the picture. 

I went running once again this week. I still don't like it. I do think I have the breathing under control. 

How did you do this week? Are you a panster or a plotter? How do you make your novel come together? Anyone want to do a guest post on this?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What's Your Take (4)

This is week four for my new feature and I have to say everyone who has participated thus far has been awesome and really helped me define more about what this feature will be like and really it comes down to the title - What's Your Take. There are so many topics out there that all of you know about concerning the blogging network, publishing world, writing world, reading world. I love getting people's "takes," and so far I am learning a lot. Make sure to stop by every Thursday to see each week's feature and feel free to contact me to do a post! (Email Mf060784@gmail).

This week I am featuring a blogging friend AND a real life friend. Joe is just starting up his blog, is working on completeing his first manuscript, and is an avid, detailed reader. Today, he is going to be talking about editing, the first draft, in particular, MINE!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure how to begin a guest post for a friend’s blog mostly because I’ve never guest posted before and, also, because I’m so new to blogging. I’ve decided to just post as if I was telling a story as part of a larger conversation. So here goes . . .

I was truly flattered when Michelle asked me to guest post on a topic of my choice from a list she created regarding the writing experience. My first challenge: what topic to pick? The list was replete with great topics to choose from, but what could I write about that would be interesting and possible for me to write about with some level of gravitas? I feel the list instantly became a short one, a very short one, with one topic standing out above the others. At this point in my writing life, I’m not exactly comfortable writing about my writing process in any way, shape, or form. However, I do feel really at ease writing about the editing process, more specifically, editing a friend’s work. I was fortunate enough to have experience doing just that for Michelle.

To say I was honored that Michelle trusted me to edit her novel is an understatement of colossal proportions. As a writer, I know how hard it is to let someone edit, let alone read, your work, so to be asked by a writer shows that he or she has trust in you. Trust that you will respect the work. Trust that you will offer constructive criticism. Trust that you will move the work forward. Trust that you will keep your yap shut and not spoil the novel for future readers. Trust that you won’t hijack the work as your own. Trust, I believe, is a large part of the editing process.

Okay, covered the trust aspect. What’s next? Oh yeah, the actual editing process.

My first step in editing is to always read the story first. I don’t look for spelling issues. I don’t look for grammatical snafus. I don’t even look for proper punctuation. I want to experience the story. I want to hear the narration in my noggin.  I want to meet characters and let them speak to me. In other words, I just want to be a reader.

My second step in editing is to ask myself some questions: How was the story? Did the narrative have flow? Were there any major plot holes? Did I fully understand character actions or inactions? Was there conflict? (Because every story needs conflict in some form.) If there was conflict, did I buy it? If there wasn’t conflict, how did the story move forward? Once I’ve asked myself these questions and many others, I usually jot down my answers as informal notes. Notes I will use as I read the work again.

As I’m sure you’ve figured, my third step is to read the story for the second time with my notes very, very close at hand. On my second read, I pay attention for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. making notations in the manuscript (Yeah, like a lot of editor/readers, I need a hardcopy) wherever I find an issue. However, I still keep the reader in me very active. I still want the experience of the story, I still want to hear the narration in my noggin, and I want to meet the characters again because I don’t want the editor in me to ruin what the reader enjoyed the first time through.

My fourth step is to read through the story one more time. This time through, I offer suggestions to the writer that said writer is free to take or ignore. What suggestions do I offer? Clarifications, possible names for characters, continuity corrections, additions to descriptions, and the list goes on, but I only have one guest post. I also make a point of letting the author know what I have enjoyed during my reading of his/her story. Writers need positive reinforcement as much as anyone else.

My final step in the editing process is to write a letter to the author. The letter provides an overview of what I liked/loved about the work, what I did in the editing process, and how much I hope I have helped move the work forward.

Of course, I need to mention that even though a work is edited, errors still manage to slip by unnoticed. Just proves that no one is perfect. Our brains tend to “autocorrect” some errors because the brain is too busy making meaning of the text. I’m sure that anyone reading this post can think of one example from a published work that has some editing glitch. It happens. The upside here: editing can continue to happen – especially in the digital publishing age.

Well, I hope this post was useful and interesting. Thank you, Michelle, for having me as a guest blogger and for all the other ways you support me as a writer and educator.

Thanks Joe! Ladies and Gents, if you want someone to edit your work, he's thorough and supportive and lets face it, having someone editing your work is terribly frustrating, and I felt very comfortable with his feedback. Pop over and see his blog. He just posted a review for Cinder. 

Remember, if you have a take on something, let me know what it is. Some possible topics are: current fads in reading, traditional publishing, query letters, getting followers, hosting giveaways, different writing processes, how you do your reviews, or anything. If you have something you feel strong about, let me know!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blood Will Tell by Samantha Young

What would you do if you were born to be a predator? Would you fight your natural instincts or give in to your nature? 

Eden is a soul eater closing in on her awakening. Her family has convinced her that soon she will have to take a life in order to save her own. It’s a decision Eden doesn’t want to deal with even as her hunger for souls grows stronger every day.

To complicate her impossible position, new guy in school Noah Valois’ determination to befriend her puts Eden in touch with a humanity she’s never known. Addicted to his company, his friendship and affection, she becomes more and more terrified that giving into her hunger will mean losing him forever…

… But when she discovers that Noah is not what he seems, his betrayal forces her to face two choices. One will offer her revenge and the destruction of a boy she loved. The other may offer her a life of eternal redemption…

I am not sure what I thought this book was about. For the most part, I select books based on titles, covers, and a select few of my book blogging buddies (Komal, Melissa, Joe, Molli, and Diana). I picked this one because the title really intrigued me. I envisioned something about having to drain people for their blood (not in the vampire sense) but something a long the lines that a person's blood held secrets. And then I saw the cover and I thought old school centuries, maybe a costume dance? Nothing of things happened in the novel. The cover, though beautiful, doesn't really have anything to do with the book. Maybe it's a future reference?

The main character, Eden, has it tough. She really despises her sick and perverted father, her distant mother, her creppy cousin. She doesn't want to be a soul eater and has put off the "rite of passage" for awhile, with the help of her brother Stellan.

Stellan is a great character. He is the perfect, protective, loving brother. He was my favorite character in this book. He protected her from her cousin. He protected her from her father. He tried to make her rite of passage easy on her because he knew it was hard on her. He really wanted what was best for her.

Back to Eden. She has to deal with a lot of baggage, except for when she is with Noah. And like all the swoon worthy boys, Noah has a big secret. His people, hunt, her people. In fact in a battle scene it was a massacre. Noah was sent to Eden to gauge what she was like and see if she was worth saving. There is a secret that Noah's people have on Eden and it's a sad one (the making of it) and the outcome, at the end, is really sad. I felt bad for Eden. I hated her family. I hated Noah's people. I was pissed at Noah.

In the Eden's life is thrown all topsy turvy.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lia Habel!

I am part of the Chautauqua Reading Council and each year we have a banquet for the members. This year we were oh so lucky to get Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed, to be the speaker at this event. She is a local, successful author and do you know what her debut novel is about? Zombies. Yeah! Zombies! No sparkles for this author!

Lia was a wonderful speaker. She has an amazing sense of humor that is portrayed when she talks. I am pretty sure I smiled through the whole thing. OK. I am 100% sure I smiled through the whole thing. She gave a run down of her life in school, pre-publishing, and what she is working on now.

She read a chapter of Dearly, Departed and while I have read the book, hearing her inflection, changed my take on Bram's and Nora's first encounter. On top of being a good story-teller, Lia is a wonderful singer. She sang during her presentation and my student Ryleigh and I were super impressed by this.

And, don't be jealous, but she read part of the sequel. We were the first group, not part of her writing circle to hear it. Her reference to the black plague (won't go into any more detail that) was chilling.

Here is the summary:
The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses. 

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.

Also, here is a picture of Lia and me. Yeah, I'm a fan. In closing, if you have not picked up this debut novel, add it to your TBR and get reading folks. I promise you will feel joy, a lot of heartbreak, an enlightening about a new culture, sorrow, the "funnies", and overall love and appreciation for steam punk and zombies. 

Lia it was so wonderful to meet you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

ROW80 3/4

Yeah - OK - so I didn't blog last week about my writing success because I had none. I had a ton to do with prom, teaching, and softball.  So week 3 - ZERO. 
Week one 4,200 words!
Week two 2,322 words!

Week three zero

And this week 4! And what did I accomplish on week 4? Nothing ... OF MY GOAL. 

I actually did a lot of noting, organizing, and creative thinking for a new manuscript idea. I was listening to that song by Lady Antebellum - Dancing Away with my Heart and this story popped into my head. Since then, for a whole week I have been envisioning Jack and leading lady (don't have a name for her yet). And while I meant to work on my draft - I just couldn't get them out of my head. Has that ever happened to you? Where you get an overwhelming idea for a story and it's like a movie in your head? I see them. I know their personalities and picked to write down these thoughts before I lost them. Will I actually start writing this idea and forming it into a draft - not right now, but I can't lose the small things or big things because I know that I will be pissed when I go to write it and can't remember it. 

So week 4 - zero for writing. 

On a non-writing goal - I saw a lot of people do some personal goals on here so I am adding one - I have been slowly becoming a runner. I put on my awesome person costume (see here for a reference - ps -this girl is hilarious - what voice!) and went running this morning. I absolutely HATE running. Someone should be proud of me.  :)

This week's resolution! - I am going to write 3,000 words for the rest of ROW to make up for my giant amount of slackerness. (As a writer do you feel you can make up words? I call it wordsmithing! :) ) 

Besides a new novel idea, I got to meet the awesome Lia Habel at my Reading Council's banquet. A post about that will be up tomorrow if you want to stop back and here about this lovely lady!

Also, I am looking for people who want to guest post on my weekly feature = What's Your Take. You can write about anything you want. It can do with writing, reading, blogging, trends, anything! And it's a good way to spread your name around! Email me at mf060784 at gmail. 

How about you? What was your writing week like? 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What's Your Take (3)

This is week three for my new feature and I have to say everyone who has participated thus far has been awesome and really helped me define more about what this feature will be like and really it comes down to the title - What's Your Take. There are so many topics out there that all of you know about concerning the blogging network, publishing world, writing world, reading world. I love getting people's "takes," and so far I am learning a lot. Make sure to stop by every Thursday to see each week's feature and feel free to contact me to do a post!

Week three of What's Your Take is one that I learned a ton from. Steph from Word by Word did a huge post on critique groups. I have never been part of one, but a friend told me recently about a group of writers who get together at a local library. Her perspective has been super beneficial to me because I have an idea of what to expect when I walk in there and also I have some expectations. Thanks Steph!

Without further adieu, I give you steph!

I walked into the classroom on pins and needles. I had on my lucky writer gloves and a copy of my short story clutched to my chest.  I was about to watch my baby being slaughtered, and I was so not prepared.  I wanted to be.  Yes I wanted to get a few pats on the head, but I also wanted to know what I was doing wrong, so I could be a better writer. 

So the critique started, and I sat in my chair and tried to affect an expression of bland distance, nodding and looking critically at each person as they discussed my story.  Scribbling down notes, crossing out or circling parts of my story.  It took a few minutes for me to realize that I was being critiqued, and it really didn’t hurt that much.  Even better, I learned a ton that day about my writing style. 

As a caveat, the critiques I received that day were very gentle.  The story I submitted had little description, little character development and a plot that was more suited to a B-grade action movie script.  I’m not sure why they were so easy on me. It was a college class, and we were all at different levels, but perhaps they sensed that I was really inexperienced. 

I’ve since gotten critiques that were the slap in the face I’d been told to expect.  When you’re in the game, you will be dressed down at some point.  But I survived those to, and so will you.
If you ever have any hope of getting your work out and selling it, you will need to show it to someone you trust to be honest with you.  You will likely find that someone in a critique group, and I’m here to tell you how to go about finding a group that suits you.

These days, especially if you live in a moderately well populated area, finding a critique group is not difficult.  You can use websites like meetup.com, or talk to owners of local bookstores (yes they still exist) to find already established groups.  You can also start a group of your own, or use one of the many online critique groups available to you. 

Let’s start with face to face groups.  If you find established groups that are accepting members, you’ll have to determine if the group works for you.  The group should understand that, allow you to observe at least one meeting, and be respectful of the fact that you are still on the fence.  If they’re not, move on. 

Things to look for:
-What gets critiqued?  What genres are accepted, and what length of submission?  This is big.  If you write historical romance, don’t settle for the fantasy and science fiction critique group because it’s the only one you could find.  Talk to the group members and see if enough of them are fans of your genre that they would be able to help you.  And make sure you’re comfortable with what they write, so you can help them in turn.  There’s usually a limit to length, which will be stated to you.  There may also be a rule about whether novels are allowed (chapter by chapter) or if the group only does short stories. 
-When do they meet and how often?  Anywhere from once a week, to once a month is pretty normal.  You probably won’t find a group that’s perfect, but there will hopefully be one that fits your schedule.  They should also be flexible about missing a meeting.  Everyone gets sick, or has to work late, and you shouldn’t get booted because you missed one meeting.

How are the critiques scheduled:  Mileage may vary on this one, but I like a group with a set schedule.  Meaning, each person knows when they need to deliver a story and when that story will be critiqued.  Otherwise, one or two prolific group members will constantly be getting critiqued, and the shyer members will allow themselves to fade into the background.  A deadline is always a good thing, in my opinion. 

-What is the tone of the group?  How does the group interact?  Do one or two members monopolize the discussion?  Or does everybody chatter at once, so you can’t understand what’s going on?  There should be agreed upon rules to help guide the discussion, and give every member a chance to speak.  How are the critiques given?  Is it a free for all, where everyone openly states whatever ugly feelings they have about the writer’s work?  I hate that sort of thing, but some writers thrive on it.  Or are opinions stated as politely as possible?  Again, I prefer not to feel like I’m being attacked, but some writers get frustrated by the polite approach. 

Avoid any group that:

- Appears to be engaging in hero worship of one or two particular members, to the detriment of everyone else’s writing:  I.e. Everything Joe Blow and Susie Smith write is considered pure gold, and everyone else’s writing must be like theirs, or it stinks.

- Flat out states that only negative or only positive opinions be given:  Yes, there are groups that do this, and they are usually up front about it.  Only negative remarks gives you ego a solid beating, and few writers can take that week after week.  Meanwhile, only positives is like being showered with candy every week.  The sugar will rot your ego.  If I had to choose one over the other, I would go with only negative.   At least it will help you improve your writing. 

- Doesn’t actually do any critiquing.  No brainer, right.  This is a case where a group is good when you join, but flounders over time.  You are always free to leave.  There is no contract that states you will remain with the group for life.

Of course, if you can’t find a group that suits you, try to start one.  We live in the glorified days of internet, and getting in touch with people is easier than ever before.

Which brings us to online critique groups.  These are a slightly different animal than face to face, but very useful if you can’t find a group to join in your area, or afford the time to start one up. 
There are many online critique groups, but I can only comment on the three I’ve used.  Shop around at the others, test out trial periods and see what their members say. 

- Critters.org:  This group used to be sci-fi, fantasy and horror only, but they have since branched out to every other genre.  You’ll get something like 5 to 30 critiques for any one story.  Longer stories, and later chapters of novels get fewer critiques, for obvious reasons.  There is also a really good system for getting full novels critiqued, so I highly recommend this one to novel authors.  Few online groups have a good option for getting novels critiqued.  Most of the critiques you receive will be good quality, little fluff, or deconstructive negativity.  You only have to critique one story a week to keep your membership active, and it remains to this day, a free site. 

Scribophile.com:  This is both a free and pay site.  Membership costs about $65 for a year, or $9 for monthly access, and you get all the bells and whistles, unlimited story postings, unlimited mailbox space and free contest entry.  Free membership means you can only post two stories at a time, you have limited mailbox space and you’ll be charged points for entering their monthly contests.  You earn points by critiquing posted stories, which allows you to post your own stories.  You’ll get more critiques the longer you’re a member because you will build relationships with other members, and trade critiques with them.  The point system is susceptible to abuse, with some critiques consisting of lots of fluff, but you can easily report that sort of thing.  There’s also a very active forum. 

Online Writing Workshop for sf, fantasy and horror:  Not the most inventive title, but it gets the point across.  This is a full pay site.  You get first month free, then, to remain a member, you have to pay $49 a year or $6 for monthly access.  I didn’t particularly care for this site.  You get very few critiques, and only about half of them were useful, in my experience.  There are a lot of stories posted, and generally the new or short ones get all the attention.  New stories offer extra points and critiques past a certain length offer nothing extra.  A lot of members will say they critique in return for critiques, but that’s hit or miss.  I found myself critiquing five people who claimed this, and maybe one would actually critique in return. 

Please feel free to ask any other questions you might have.  Being part of a critique group is a fun and rewarding experience if you go into it with an open mind, and find a group that fits you.    

I just want to thank Steph for this awesome post and giving me a ton to think about.

Hey bloggers, if you want to participate in What's Your Take, shoot me an email at mf060784 at gmail. I would love to hear your points of view on blogging, writing, trends, reading, YA, any topic goes. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Goddess Interrupted by Amiee Carter

Kate Winters has won immortality. But if she wants a life with Henry in the Underworld, she'll have to fight for it.

Becoming immortal wasn't supposed to be the easy part. Though Kate is about to be crowned Queen of the Underworld, she's as isolated as ever. And despite her growing love for Henry, ruler of the Underworld, he's becoming ever more distant and secretive. Then, in the midst of Kate's coronation, Henry is abducted by the only being powerful enough to kill him: the King of the Titans. As the other gods prepare for a war that could end them all, it is up to Kate to save Henry from the depths of Tartarus. But in order to navigate the endless caverns of the Underworld, Kate must enlist the help of the one person whom she would really rather not meet. Henry's first wife, Persephone.

Kate returns to Eden Manor and finds it empty - until James actually takes her to the Underworld. She immediately has a vision that takes her to a battle scene involving Henry. Calliope is causing trouble and releasing Cronus, yeah the guy who created the Gods. She simply could not handle Kate's punishment for killing her.

Henry returns, Theo heals him, and he remains aloof, and not just aloof, cold. Kate is having a crazy internal conflict throughout the entire novel because of how Henry treats her. She is very insecure of his love for Persephone. I mean, she's not dealing with the typical four year relationship, we are talking 1,000 years. But we know from 1.5 that Henry does care about her, but he's just not the shout it from the roof tops  type of guy.

When Calliope gets her way and the gods come to her, she imprisons them and it is left to Kate and Ava to get them out, but where are they? Only one person knows Persephone. And man is she selfish. I mean it. I don't like her. And all this is only half way through the novel!

There is one scene that I really wanted to go through my NOOK and just strangle Henry and Persephone. While Persephone may have been trying to help Kate, I felt my heart drop out of my chest and I was pissed at Henry, to the point where I wanted Kate to leave him. Yeah, that angry.

A really important I wanted to make, is about the ending. The ending was so good, I read it twice. I finished it at 12:30 Am and read it again at 8 AM. THAT GOOD.

AND HOLY CLIFFHANGER! Anyone else shocked?

Team Henry.