Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Year’s Promises or New Year’s Lies?

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. They’re just excuses for people to pretend they’re going to make life changes when they know from the start they don’t plan on keeping them in a few weeks or months time. And why should we only think about changing ourselves one time out of the year when that year is ending? Improving ourselves or working towards goals should be a constant. It shouldn’t be something we go after heavily for the first few weeks of the New Year.

Some people only make resolutions they think they can stick to. They make them lesser so that they’re easier to follow. Instead of committing to a complete new diet they vow to stop eating one certain bad food. Instead of exercising daily they promise to at least do it once a week. And that’s fine. At least, they’re making an effort. But why make it all? Are we peer pressuring each other into new year’s resolutions? Are we competing to see who can follow theirs longer or more successfully? This is your life, not anyone else’s. So if you want to make a change, make it for yourself, not because some tradition or group of people influenced you to do so.

Me? I could vow to read more books, finish the ones I’ve started, stick to a stricter writing schedule, or promise to write X number of books by the year’s end. But these are things I tell myself all year long, anyway. Sometimes I do better. Some months I read way more than others, and some days I’m a more successful writer. But these are my goals and changes I want for myself at all times, and I work on them little by little throughout each year.

I understand the New Year promises a new start and that’s why some people look at it for making changes. But halfway through the year it isn’t new anymore. It’s just life again. So make sure you’re happy with how you’re living, and make each day a new resolution, a new goal, a possible change or hurdle to overcome. Because before you know it, that New Year will end and the next will start all over again. You can’t measure your life’s importance by how well you follow that resolution each New Year.

So don’t make excuses. Don’t go after the smaller goal because you know the bigger one will be too hard. Don’t compete with others or get roped into making changes just because it’s expected. Don’t put that extra pressure on yourself or let others put it on you.

Don’t make promises you can’t or aren’t willing to keep.

Love yourself. Love your life. Love your passions and your goals. Go out and make things happen at your own pace, in your own way, for your own reasons.

Just live.

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions? Post below, and have a safe and happy New Year celebration!

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Book Officially for Sale!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season and discovered new stories to tell through their celebrations and gatherings. I know watching my family interact definitely inspired some new character types!

*Announcement time*

The anthology I mentioned that I am a part of is now live on Amazon! It is $2.99 and can be bought for your Kindle device or downloaded to read through the Kindle app on your smartphones and tablets.

Again, this is a charity anthology. All profits received go directly to Sandy Hook Elementary. The theme and title of this book is Everyday Heroes.

My personal contribution is a short story about a teenage Reaper who interferes with the balance of life and death. His disruption with fate turns the world into chaos, and he sets out to make things right and save those he put in danger. It is called Reaper’s Redemption.

This is a pretty cool feeling to be a part of a book for sale. Typing in the title of the book brings up my name and typing in my name on Amazon brings up the title of the book. It makes me proud and thankful to be involved in this project and also hopeful for any future projects. I’m happy not only to get my name and work out there, but to be amongst such awesome fellow students and writers and give back in our own way to a worthy cause.

Thank you for following my journey with this, and I hope you will check out our book!

SHAnthology

http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Heroes-Patrick-Donovan-ebook/dp/B00HHLWI5U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1388100103&sr=8-1&keywords=danielle+thurby

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Jigsaw Post

I have so many things to talk about today I feel like I should make three separate posts.

First of all, I want to recognize and pay my respects to author Ned Vizzini who passed away. I kept seeing the news last night on Twitter and through Facebook where he was kind enough to accept my friend request years ago, that he had passed. I was completely shocked as he was so young and talented. He’s made wonderful books and contributed to television and film as well. It’s so sad to lose someone you admired or who helped and impacted so many people with his work. Here’s a link to some of his books if you feel driven to check them out. Ned, I hope you are at peace. Thank you for your books, and I am truly sorry to know you’re gone.

Secondly, and on a lighter note there is another contest going on today through Twitter. The hashtag is #pitchmas and it is a pitch party for you to promote your manuscripts. Agents and editors watch the feed, and if they favorite your pitch that means they’re requesting to see more material. Here’s the link to the blog that created this wonderful party. Check out the details and guidelines and then head over to Twitter with your best pitches. Good luck!

Lastly, this is my final week of class for the English course that originally influenced the creation of this blog. As a summary of all we’ve done and learned about ourselves over the last 8 weeks, our final assignment is to describe who we think we are as writers and post it to an external audience. That’s you guys. So who am I as a writer?

I’m a dreamer.

Just like musicians imagine rocking out on stage or an actor sees his name in lights, I imagine my books sitting on the shelves of bookstores. I think about what it would be like to get fan mail from teenagers whose lives were somehow impacted by my books. I even think about what it would feel like to get hate mail. Maybe a teen writes to tell me I got it all wrong or a parent takes issue with my topics and content.

What writing means to me

I’ve said this before, but I need writing. I just don’t feel right when I’m not creating. It depresses me not to have a project going in my head or forming on the screen. I depend on writing to make me feel worthy some days.

What I write

I write YA or Young Adult. I’m not saying I can’t or won’t write anything else, but YA is my absolute love. When I go to bookstores I don’t even look at the other sections, and I can spend hours simply browsing the three rows of YA titles. I buy YA books faster than I read them because I can’t leave a book behind in a store if I think I might want to read it somewhere down the line. YA excites me. I love creating teen characters and hard situations or paths of discovery. If someone told me I couldn’t write YA anymore, I wouldn’t be the same writer. I probably wouldn’t have that same sense of worth and excitement because YA is such a big part of who I am as a writer. It’d be like telling someone they could only watch a certain genre of movie the rest of their life or never listen to their favorite band again. Those movies would never be what they really wanted, and they’d long for each band to be as good as their favorite. YA and I just go together.

So my goals from here are to keep writing. To keep trying to get published. I entered the world of querying this year and have participated in contests like #pitchwars and #pitchmas to try and get my work noticed. I want an agent. I want to go the traditional route. I want my books on shelves. I want to read love and hate mail, friend readers on social media, meet them at book signings. I want it all. Writing has been a journey and struggle, and the great thing about it is it’s never over. You keep growing and learning the more you do it. You have ups and downs; there’s just no way around that. It takes commitment, patience, hard work, hope, and undying love to be able to pursue this crazy dream. And I never want to give it up.

Thank you for reading. Who are YOU as a writer? Have you ever been saddened by the passing of an author you admired? Post below, and I hope to see all your pitches over on Twitter!

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Thank you! Yes, you!

I just wanted to write a quick thank you post to all of you and let you know I’m appreciative. I know this blog is still small, and 50 followers may not seem like much, but it is to me. It is way more than I thought I’d have when I started this thing back in October. I figured I’d be posting for only a handful of people, and that my followers would most likely just be my mom and husband or something.  So thank you for following me, reading what I have to say, liking, commenting, and reblogging. It’s really such an awesome thing. I know you don’t have to take the time to read my posts or follow up with comments so thanks for giving me your time. I will always comment back. I’ve also enjoyed following many of you in return and discovering some wonderful posts and people to connect with.

I started this blog because I knew my school English course was going to be on New Media & Publishing and building a writer’s platform, but I also really wanted to start meeting people in this crazy writing world. I live in a small town where you either become a nurse or a coal miner so saying you want to be an author isn’t exactly looked highly upon. It’s often followed up with comments telling me I should become a teacher so I have a real job to fall back on.

It’s been wonderful sharing my excitement for writing and reading with other aspiring writers and passionate readers. I know I’m still finding my way; my posting could be more consistent, and I could do a better job networking with all of you. But honestly this new media stuff is new to me, and I’m still learning it. I hope that in between going to school and writing new projects that I will start doing a better job with this blog and actually using my Twitter more. Eventually I might make one of those nifty “author” Facebook pages too.

Again, thank you for sticking with me. I’ll take this chance to ask you guys if there are any certain things you would like me to post about in the future. Did I touch on a subject you wanted more information on? Do you want to know anything more personal? Should I post more original work? What would you like to see on this blog? What advice do you have for me? Reply in the comments if you have a suggestion. I will gladly carry out your requests and link back to you in the corresponding post. Thanks for your support and feedback these last couple of months!

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Writing in 2013: A Look Back

This has been an exciting year for me with writing. At the beginning of the year I finished my second novel, a YA contemporary about a girl’s personal struggle with hating herself for being a follower instead of her own leader and how a new transfer student helps her change that. After I finished it I started researching literary agencies, how to query, what a synopsis should look like, and I began sending out letters seeking representation. Replies came back with plenty of rejections and one full manuscript request.

During the summer I began writing my third novel, a YA thriller centered around a kidnapping and the ensuing struggle for survival, to keep me busy while I waited on news from the queries. I finished it in only a few months and have just recently begun crafting and sending query letters for it. I’ve learned a lot this year about the writing industry, and I believe my work and I have both grown and improved. More than ever, I know this is something I need to keep pursuing.

Yesterday I answered questions about books I read this year for a blog link-up/e-book giveaway that this blog is running. Today, I promised to answer the writing questions. So here we are!

Check out yesterday’s post if you want to know what sort of books I read recently or if you need some new recommendations.

How many books did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us too!)

I’ve written two this year. I wrote my second novel in the first half of the year which is 105,000 words. I wrote my third novel in a couple months later in the year, and it is stands at 60,000.

Which was your favourite to write?

My second was a totally different route from my first book, and I really like how one small idea came together and grew into what the book became. I had no idea where I was taking the story initially. All I knew was I wanted to write about two teenagers who lived across the street from each other and were from totally different worlds.  Seeing where it ended up from that idea feels really rewarding. The characters just took over and told their stories.

Which was the hardest to write?

I’d say 2 was also the hardest. I planned Book 3 out more whereas Book 2 took a lot of discovery which was really frustrating and overwhelming some days. Writing a female perspective was tougher for me as well because I usually do male narrators. Some days I just didn’t want to tackle the task. Book 3 flowed easier when actually writing.

Tell us about you favourite Male Character you wrote this year!

Book 2 introduced my MC’s love interest, Cameron Dawson, a mysterious bad boy next door that completely shakes up everything for my female MC. He’s damaged, but doesn’t take crap from anyone. He’s brutally honest and strictly secretive at the same time. He’s romantic and sensitive but violent and hardened. I liked his layers. I like writing rebels and damaged heroes.

And how about your favourite Female Character?

My MC in Book 2, Maddie Carlisle. She went through a complete transformation. At points you can hate her and her actions as much as she hates herself, but you feel sorry for her too because of the hard situations she’s in. You root for her then want to smack her when she doesn’t step up. She’s very dependent on others, and by the end it’s interesting to see if that’s still the same case. She has plenty of adversaries, but really she’s her own worst enemy.

Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)?

In Book 3 my MC’s best friend Tyler Hammons starts out as a flirty, pompous tough guy, and we’ll just say he gets a new perspective. Also in that novel a guy named Jasper Riley is a character who juggles a lot of different roles and affects the main character in ways he didn’t expect. His sidekick status isn’t that he’s funny or laughable, but shown in the importance of how he changes others and furthers the development of the story.

Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn’t go together as expected?

I’m not going to ruin the romantic subplots! But I will say all characters were meant to be together.

Show us the full cast in pictures from one of your books.

Actor Ezra Miller as Jasper Riley

Actor Ezra Miller as Jasper Riley

Actor Jake Abel as Tyler Hammons

Actor Jake Abel as Tyler Hammons

Actor Penn Badgley as Ezra Winchester

Actor Penn Badgley as Ezra Winchester

Actress Denise Vasi as Sadie Atwood

Actress Denise Vasi as Sadie Atwood

Actress AnnaLynne McCord as Peyton Hammons

Actress AnnaLynne McCord as Peyton Hammons

Epic quote(s) you wrote?

(Note: From Book 3. This quote ties into the title and has a lot of meaning for the events in the plot.)

“Ezra, on the road of life you have two choices.  You either stare in the rearview and look at where you’ve been until you crash and burn, or you look out through the windshield and focus on where you’re headed.”

Last word from your manuscript(s)! Go!

Book  2: journey.

Book 3: most.

Show us your favourite funny scene!

(Note: This is from Book 2 when the new guy, Cameron, first comes to Maddie’s school. I always hated when teachers would make you introduce yourself and then ask the class to say hi back so maybe this was my way of finally saying what I wish I could have back then.)

             Mrs. Nelson, our homeroom monitor, stands up with her attendance book and a happy smile on her face.  Before she starts calling off all our names or passing out fliers though, she walks over to Cameron’s side of the room and addresses the class.

            “Everyone,” she says, “we have a new student joining us today.  All the way from sunny California!” she says with added pep.  “Let’s do our best to make him feel welcome here at North Hill.”  She turns to Cameron with her smile spreading from ear to ear and gestures a hand at him.  “Do you want to tell us a little about yourself, son?”

            He finally looks up and tilts his head at her.

            “Are you actually giving me the option or just presenting me with a really nice command?” he asks back without missing a beat.

            Mrs. Nelson looks like someone knocked the wind out of her.  Her smile slowly turns into a frown and her brows furrow.  She stands meekly, confused that the new guy doesn’t want to stand up and share in her excitement.  When she doesn’t respond he says, “Okay then, I’ll share.”

            He stands up and faces the majority of the class. They stare back, sizing him up and ogling over his busted up face, trying to figure him out for themselves.  He isn’t speaking very long before they get
it.  Loud and clear.

            “My name is Cameron Dawson,” he begins.  “And I don’t care.”  Everyone stiffens as one.  “I don’t care if you don’t like me.  Chances are I won’t like you.  I don’t care if I hurt your feelings.  I don’t care if you want to talk about me because of it.  I don’t care about this piss poor town or your stupid school.  I don’t care if I pass or fail or even graduate.  I don’t care about your problems or how you want me to be.  And I don’t care, Mrs. Nelson, if you or any other teacher wants to punish me for not caring.  So I guess that covers my introduction.  You can spare me from all of yours’ because, you guessed it, I don’t care who you are.”

            He sits back down casually to a shocked silence.  Everyone is glancing around the room at each other between staring back at him. Mrs. Nelson is the worst of us all.  She’s frozen in place with her brows raised high and her mouth hanging open.  The silence drags on until someone finally shouts, “Freak!” from the back of the room.  Cameron just nods, like he was expecting it.

             And still doesn’t care.

Show us a snippet of dialogue you’re proud of.

(Note: From Book 2. Cameron is switching from his persona of not caring to pretending to have feelings for Maddie’s queen bee Jen in order to be accepted into their circle. He sits with Maddie during Jen’s dance practice and acts like he loves watching even though he can’t stand Jen.)

            “You know you’re pretty good at faking,” I say.

            “Yeah, well, it’s easy enough to act how I’m expected. It’s just more fun not to.”

            We watch them grind and shake and flaunt their bodies for a few minutes.

            “You know I’m like those girls you said you don’t want. I dress the same way Jenny does and let all sorts of guys stare me up and down, only letting them dream of ever being with me. I’m just like Jen.”

            Cameron breaks his gaze on the girls.  He stares into my face, suddenly serious.

            “You’re nothing like, Jen. You just don’t realize it yet.”

Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you’ve had this year!

I had two characters whose names both began with J in Book 3: Jasper one of the kidnapped teens and Jimmy one of the abductors.  I mixed them up in an important scene because I was typing so fast. Not good.

What has writing taught you about yourself this year?

I really started believing in myself a lot more this year. I started taking writing more seriously than just a hobby I’d do here and there. I committed to it more. I’ve learned about rejections and taking risks when you put yourself out there. I’ve felt defeated, but learned to keep going forward. It’s a process based on hope and fear, love and hate, uncertainty and confidence. It’s a strange thing.

Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year?

Read. Best advice is always read. Whatever type book you want to write, read as many as you can. Just as you learn from doing, you learn writing by reading.

Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit?

Book 2 has been under consideration at an agency since the summer. Querying 3 is a definite next step. I also plan to edit Book 1 and make it presentable to query at some point.

Tell us a bit about a book you’re super excited to write in 2014!

I have so many ideas. One involves a guy with an eidetic memory who is thrown into a murder mystery. Another involves a comedic paranormal tale about a ghost, a necromancer, a reaper, and a psychic in which the MC’s girlfriend dies and comes back as a ghost, and the other characters are enlisted to bring her back to life again. I’d also like to do this modern Greek-myth fantasy, and I really want to write a book about gamers and videogames.

That’s it! Thanks for reading! Post any comments or questions below, and be sure to visit the original blog to enter the giveaway or answer these questions yourself!

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My 2013 Reading List: A Look Back

Okay so this post is related to this lovely blog. They’re awesome and have posted different questions (1 set relating to reading and 1 set relating to writing) as a way to look back on the books you read or wrote in 2013. It’s also part of a giveaway where the winner will pick from 4 e-books (The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, OR Unbreathable, OR Steel Lily OR Click to Subscribe) so go check that page out and enter to win! Today I’m going to answer the reading-related questions. I’ll post links to the books’ Amazon pages so you can find their descriptions and purchase them if you’re so inclined. 🙂 Here we go!

What was your overall favourite book this year? (Yes. Pick one.)

I can’t. You’ve asked the impossible.

Which books did you reread this year?

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith and Bottled Up by Jaye Murray.

Favourite cover(s) this year!

The Marbury Lens might be my favorite cover of all time.

marbury     passenger

Its sequel Passenger is just as good and when you put them on the shelf together, oh my god, even the books’ spines are awesome.

Lockdown, but actually all the books in this series have great covers, and I still need to read them all.

lockdown

Scowler, another one on my to-read list, but look at that cover. How could you not want to read it?

scowler

Worst cover(s)?

The Mortal Instruments City of Bones (movie tie-in version). This pisses me off to no end. It’s a complete rip off of The 10th Kingdom, a genius fantasy TV miniseries and novel from 2000.

mortal instruments          The 10th Kingdom

Which book(s) gave you a massive hangover?

The freaking Marbury Lens by Andrew freaking Smith. Every single time.

Best standalone you read?

Runner by Carl Deuker

Biggest book(s) you’ve read this year?

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes.

Most disappointing book(s) you read this year?

I hate calling books out. But Feedback, the sequel to Variant , really disappointed me with its ending. It could have been so much better. But it was still a great book. Until that point.

Favourite leading-female character?

Did I read a book with a leading-female character?

Favourite leading-male character?

Sam in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride.

Best romance(s)?

There’s this romance that gets flipped on its head in the book Variant by Robison Wells. I can’t even talk about it without giving away the twist.

What book(s) hit the DNF list? (Did not finish.)

I’m not going to say. A lot of times I start books and get 20-70 pages in and then stop because my mood changes and I want to read something else. But I usually go back to them. For example, I’ve been trying to finish one book since Xmas 2011. It’s going to happen.  I’m close.

What book(s) did you read out of your comfort-zone?

I read No Country for Old Men and The Great Gatsby for school. I liked both.

Which author did you read the most from?

Last year it would have been Andrew Smith. But this year it was Michael Harmon. I read Skate, The Chamber of Five, and The Last Exit to Normal, and I’m currently reading Under the Bridge. Also, Brutal is waiting for me on my shelf.

Top 5 books you’d recommend from all the books you’ve read this year?

Boot Camp by Todd Strasser. The topic this book covers really hits a nerve with me.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz. A beautifully sad and sweet novel. It’s one of the books that has made me cry.

You by Charles Benoit. I loved the approach to this book, and the ending I did not see coming.

The Chamber of Five by Michael Harmon. I just love this author. He has a gift for voice. This novel has a way of making you feel uncomfortable because it’s so believable, and you don’t want to think the things within could happen.

Stick by Andrew Smith. Smith could write instructional manuals for furniture assembly, and I would buy them. But this book is much more honest and beautiful than those evil, rage-inducing things.

 How many books did you read this year all up?

Come on. I like reading not counting.

What’s a book you’re hugely excited for coming out in 2014?!

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Yes. Please. Give it to me now.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. I love her books, and I’m thrilled to have a new one to get my hands on.

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I’ve been waiting for this sequel! I’m so excited! The first one was such a pleasant surprise. I didn’t want it to end. I was ecstatic when it was left open for continuation. This will be a release day buy for sure.

That’s it! Have you read any of these titles too? Are you going to read any of them now? What does your 2013 reading list look like? Post below!

Be sure to visit the original blog to enter the giveaway and answer these questions yourself!

And stop by tomorrow for answers to the writing related questions!

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A Day of Disappointment and Excitement

It’s been an up and down day on the writing front. Well maybe a couple of days. Do I give you the good news or bad news first? Well, technically there doesn’t have to be any bad news. It’s all in how you choose to look at it. I’m working on that.

So there was this contest I spoke of briefly called #PitchWars. Basically writers submitted a query and five pages to four possible mentor picks. They were notable authors and people in the writing industry. If chosen they would then mentor you for a few weeks and then in January, with your polished MS and query letter, you submit to a wonderful array of known agents for the agent round. The mentors work with you and your novel to give you the best chance for scoring an agent. Basically the grand prize could be requests for your work and possible representation leading to a publishing contract.

Unfortunately, I was not chosen in the mentor round. I was prepared for that. So many wonderfully talented people entered the competition, and only so many can be picked. It was fun following the feed on Twitter and meeting new people. It was encouraging to put myself out there like that. All four of the mentors I submitted to gave me personalized feedback on why they passed, and I’m grateful for that.

So how am I taking the news?

*I’m disappointed, of course, but not discouraged; I’ll keep trying.

*I’m kicking myself for not changing a few things in my initial query/sample pages. I think I could have had a better shot. But this is how we learn. We can’t always know what’s right, and being given feedback from respected authors is a priceless tool in improving and moving forward.

*I’m sad none of my mentor picks requested more pages before deciding like they did with other authors. Maybe if they’d read just one page more their minds could have been changed or their connection grown stronger. But that falls on me for not making sure my first few pages accomplished just that. Remember that post I wrote on the importance of first pages? I could stand to listen to my own advice.

Overall, the people who were chosen deserve it; they are talented writers and the mentors really championed for them. I’m happy to say I was a part of this community and learned the things I did. Rejection always hurts. But we grow and we move on. It’s actually made me want to dive into writing again, and that’s always a good side effect.

The good news this week?

I placed second in a small short story competition between other writers at my university. There was no prize other than bragging rights, so here. I’ve bragged. Seriously though, I haven’t done many writing competitions, and it was cool to place and know my story was received well among the judges.

The even better news?

All the authors involved in the charity anthology got a sneak peek of the finished product today. It looks amazing. Seeing the table of contents with all the author names and story titles was really satisfying. Then the stories themselves and the author bios at the end made me proud to be among these people for this awesome cause. There are some great stories in there, and we are all excited to share them with you and give back to those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. It goes on sale on Amazon on December 23rd.

So yeah there were some good and bad moments lately, but really they were mostly good. One rejection doesn’t mean I’ll never be accepted. One contest isn’t my only option out there. I learned a lot and was included in something special. If writers quit and gave in after receiving one rejection then no one would be an author. It’s part of it. And even though you’re reading a response that says you aren’t being pursued further and you know that’s disappointing, there is good amongst that rejection too. It tells you how to improve. It gives you reason to persevere. It gives you hope that maybe the next one will be a yes. So don’t give up. I haven’t yet. Writing means too much to me to let it go.

Have you experienced rejection in the writing world? How did you react? Reply below!

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