YA, Podcasts and Dollar Stores oh my!

Today we will be discussing YA, Series, Podcasts and some more fun music so buckle up!

First things first, I promised you a YA series and another series I just finished up. The Chronos Files series is by Rysa Walker and I fell upon these for free as part of Kindle Unlimited’s offerings. Loved them! Book one, Timebound introduces us to Kate, a normal 16yr old (or so she thought) and her time-travelling historian grandmother. Who doesn’t love time-travel, cults (though it feels more like scientology-esque), love and adventure? A really interesting aspect of this story is that Walker isn’t afraid for her characters to meet themselves or people who know them in different timelines. That can be super tricky to pull off but she does a fabulous job. Kate’s grandmother is sick and has basically recruited her to chase down a rogue ‘historian’ who has joined a whole group of people intentionally changing history. I devoured these as audiobooks (also free on KU) and love the voice actor. Great news that she will also be reading Walker’s new series The Delphi Effect. This one just came out about government conspiracies and paranormal abilities. Again, what is not to love? So on my temp scale, these are hot commodities so give them a listen or read and you won’t be disappointed.

Which brings us to 8 bodies is Enough by Stephanie Bond from the body movers series. I have waited forevvvver on this book it seems. You have Carlotta, whose parents left her as a child (as in disappeared one day amid allegations her dad stole a TON of money) and her younger brother Wes (who is always in trouble), a semi-disgraced coroner Cooper, smoldering detective Jack and a whole host of other characters who come and go. The main story arc is searching for her parents and the truth about the money as well as her mixed up love life. These are shorter books so you can read them in an afternoon if you want. I sped through the first few and the how much I liked them has been up and down. They’re kind of like watching your guilty pleasure tv show on Bravo. HOWEVER, I am so disappointed in this last installment. It has taken a long time to get to the real truth (we are on book 8 after all) but it was basically ok, here’s what happened and we’re bringing the real ‘monsters’ down in about 2 pages. Every question is wrapped up and answered but it felt like a conclusion dump and was just unsatisfying. I won’t even go into why her final love choice seems out of left field. I’m glad that she didn’t leave anything hanging but this just felt like an Epilogue that was made to be book length. Just lukewarm for me.

I have really been getting into Podcasts lately as I think I’ve mentioned. There are a couple on NPR I follow but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few others I’ve come to love. If you’re a bookworm and haven’t discovered BookRiot, you need to get out from under your rock! Not only do they have some great articles and cool clothes (Poe-ka dot socks anyone?), but can I be Liberty Hardy when I grow up? I noticed that every book from the Book of the Month Club I used to get turned out to be her picks and so looked into who she was. Enter BookRiot goodness. She and Jessica from BookRiot do a super fun podcast called All the Books about new releases and books they love. Get Booked is a great podcast they also do where you can ask for book recommendations and they actually answer you with 2 or more choices. (I was irrationally happy when they recommended Rules of Civility by Amor Towles the other day. LOVE That book). So yeah. Check out BookRiot and thank me later. There is so much book loving goodness you may never leave! Another great bookish option is “Book Club Appetizer”. It is about 30 mins with a book club suggestion and then an interview with the author. There aren’t as many episodes of this one but it’s good.

If you’re currently writing anything, you need to also check out a few podcasts like “Writing Excuses” by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Daniel Wells. 15mins of writing techniques that are so helpful! “Creative Writing Career” by Stephan Bugaj (formerly from Pixar), Justin Sloan (videogame writer) and Kevin Tumlinson (author) has great writing advice with special guests in a 40ish minute format.

SHEW! That was a long one today so thanks for waiting for it! I’ll leave you with a fun new artist this week. With great songs like “Halloween”, “Beckett”, and “Lela’s Stars”, Walker Hayes made me laugh with “You Broke up with Me” and “Dollar Store”

 

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Seeing double: 2 reads and 2 listens

I promise I’ve been reading a lot lately. (Hence the radio silence) Well, listening mostly, but audiobooks count. Right? There are a lot of free audiobooks out there. There are also a lot of free for a reason audiobooks out there too. If you see my Goodreads history, don’t judge me, haha. I ran out of music so I went through a free audiobook stretch with some suspect selections. My eye muscles are getting so much exercise because I can’t refrain from rolling them, but hey, I’m still ‘reading’ so I’ll take it. I did read one really lovely book for Book Babes (my monthly book club) called A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I will be totally honest and say I wasn’t thrilled with this selection initially. Yes. I judged it by its Oscar nom. Something about it just really turned me off, but guys, I WAS SO WRONG. I mean it. This story was truly lovely! It’s about a man who has lost his wife and his job to early retirement and decides there’s nothing really left in life for him. Life, of course, has other plans. Gruff or not, I found the story to be so touching and once I decided to focus on reading it, I got lost in it and was so sad for it to be over. It wasn’t anything particularly thrilling or mind-blowing, but it was just such an enjoyable read. Simple as that. A huge thumbs up for this one and a ‘go read this. Seriously.’

On the other hand, there was Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. It was suggested as a modern quirky love story. I think the story device the author used by having part of the characters introduced almost exclusively through emails being read out of context was interesting. But. Yes, this is a big BUT. Something about it was still so off for me. He’s creeping on her emails and falls in love with her? Ok, I’m a Hallmark junkie so this is right up my alley, except: Her emails aren’t that exciting. There’s nothing there for him to actually fall for. He’s caught up on high school love so long and suddenly here’s this person that speaks her mind and he’s never met her but he loves her, basically stalks her a little in the name of his job and then chickens out in the end and won’t meet her. But of course, that’s all going to just be ok. Because he’s gorgeous. Right. I love quirky and cheesy love stories but this made me feel a little icky and fell flat for me. Ice cold on this one guys.

Sneak preview for the next post: I’ll dive into 2 series; 1 by a YA author who wrote a series I really enjoyed, and another that wraps up a series I fell into but left me feeling flat. It’s the wrap-ups that get you in the end.

I did find music that really picked me up: Ed Sheeran’s new album “Divide” and Shawn Mendes “Illuminate”.  Go check them out. Sheeran has a fun Irish vibe in some and the song from Ghana makes me so happy. Mendes is catchy as ever.

WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER

I start today by saying goodbye to a very dear icon of Elon University, Dr. James Earl Danieley. Former President of the University, beloved professor and instilled in the hearts of all who have passed through Elon for 70 incredible years, Dr. Danieley’s charisma, presence and passion will be missed but will continue to live on. Between violence back home, Dr. Danieley’s passing today, and the raging fires in Gatlinburg, TN (also near home) there has been so much sadness this week alone, much less for all of 2016. At some point there has to be a silver lining. A bright light in all of the darkness. Like we talked about before, sometimes it’s the Little Victories that get us through.

I have an announcement: I did it! I really did it. Don’t believe me?  Take a gander here:

nanowrimo_2016_webbanner_winner_congrats

That my friends is what pops up when you copy in your story and it validates that elusive 50,000 word count (You better believe I am buying that t-shirt). I was so worried I wouldn’t make it with only 2 days left but I put on the new Shawn Mendes album after “Treat you better” got stuck in my head and I hit my stride.

It was hard. It was rough. I didn’t think I’d make it. I still can’t believe I did. It literally took me 4 years to finish the last story I started during NaNoWriMo but I was determined to do it this time. My story is actually far from over but I’m to a really exciting part where I feel like  the story is finally moving somewhere. Now I can really take my time to develop it and make something out of it.

Since you stuck it out with me, I will treat you to part of the story tomorrow. Maybe in association with #1lineWed (the theme is Door so we’ll see what I can work with there).

All I know is I’m grinning so wide, my face hurts and I almost cried in triumph. In fact, I danced a little jig in this computer chair. With that my friends, loyal readers and fellow authors, I am going to bed finally. I don’t know about ya’ll but I’m exhausted.

Your Average Per Day
1,734
Words Written Today
3,373
Target Word Count
50,000
Target Average Words Per Day
1,667
Total Words Written
50,311 WINNER!
Words Remaining
0
Current Day
29
Days Remaining
2
Goal Achieved On
November 29, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
0

 

And then there were 3…

Today has not been an easy day. I found out a very sweet, talented lady from my hometown was killed tragically last night by a senseless act of violence. I only met her once but my heart has broken over and over today seeing all the tributes to her sweet spirit and smile and her three children who must try and make sense of this world without the strength she has provided them. It made me hug my littles even tighter tonight. This whole year has just seen so much tragedy that sometimes it feels hard to put into words that hold any real meaning. That’s one thing I enjoy about NaNoWriMo. It’s a chance to block out all the ‘stuff’ that is going on around us, the hurt and the stress and uncertainty, and create this world full of strong men and women who stand up to and overcome adversity. Who have struggles and fears but who band together and find a way to continue on.

Life happens and I’ll be honest, it’s been a struggle to close this out. After today, there are two days remaining and I’m almost to the 50,000 words goal (you better believe I’m buying that t-shirt). There is so much story left to be told and frankly, a bunch of junk in there that needs to be scrapped, but it’s amazing to me that we’ve all come this far. To my fellow writers, YOU’VE GOT THIS! Power through. We’re almost there. The rest of the world can have you on Thursday, but until then, immerse yourself and get. it. done. And if you need the little extra boost, here ya go!

Your Average Per Day
1,676
Words Written Today
2,815
Total Words Written
46,938
Words Remaining
3,062
Current Day
28
Days Remaining
3
At This Rate You Will Finish On
November 30, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
1,021

Shut up and dance with me!

It’s day 22 ya’ll and I will admit I wrote 0 words yesterday. Zilch. Nada. None. Ok, I take that back. I typed 0 words for my story. I actually wrote words. A lot of words. On birthday invitations. Yeah, yeah. I know there were easier ways to do invites but these were going in kindergarten backpacks and they were free from the space holding the party so handwritten it is!

Since I  was a bit ahead, I knew I could catch up this week but I threw on some music to jam to and busted. it. out. Yes my friends and avid readers. I am caught up! AND With 45 words to spare. Thea saw some serious time in a practice room getting to know her gifts, Avery (mr. schmarm himself) got put in his place, we finally met my favorite character we’ll all love to hate and started a little intrigue. I don’t know about you but that wore me out! I love that when I finally decided to stop and check the word count a final time, “Shut Up and Dance” was playing. I’m terrible at lyrics so as I read those beautiful numbers that confirmed I had made it for the night, I heard  “This moment is my destiny! Oh, Oh Oh, Shut up and Dance with me”. (I’ve since figured out it says this women is my destiny but equally true. My main character is a girl. So there!)

Power music tonight was some amazing acapella. Started out with some Pentatonix (to which I really wanted to belt along with “If I ever Fall in Love” but alas, two sick kids so I just mimed it in my chair) before finishing out with Straight No Chaser’s “The New Old Fasioned” album. Some really good stuff there and even some laughs from “All About That Bass (No Tenors)” Count down to Friday when I switch to all Christmas, all the time. Hubby loves it. Just ask him.

And on that note I’m off to bed. Family arrives tomorrow for turkey day and loads to do still.

Your Average Per Day
1,669
Words Written Today
2,776
Total Words Written
36,719
Words Remaining
13,281
Current Day
22
Days Remaining
9
At This Rate You Will Finish On
November 30, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
1,476

Livin’ on a prayer

Woah! We’re halfway there. You can’t tell me that you can say halfway there without inwardly singing Bon Jovi. Ok so we’re over halfway now. I have been writing. Promise. Problem is little dude has been sick and I’ve had meetings to run so I managed to eke out enough words to keep on track, but I have fallen asleep before updating here.  So here we are, days 15 and 16. I’ll admit that last night is not my best work ever but the word count is there. So there’s that. Let’s get to the matter at hand: the story preview. I was going to use a bit towards the middle, a scene I particularly like, but apparently some people weren’t keen on that idea. Apparently it’s better to start with the beginning scene to figure out who the character is before we jump into the middle. Well, I hate to break it to you, joke’s on you buddy, it’s still a mystery. (disregard any needed edits at this stage, writing is the key remember? revise later)
Chapter One
“She could hear feet shuffling nearby and instinctively gathered her knees into her chest. Something wasn’t right. Even the smells were all wrong. The hairs on her arms were standing at attention and it was taking every ounce of strength she had to open her eyes. There was a roaring in her ears and when she finally forced her eyelids open there was only darkness. No, not quite darkness. There was something on the edges, fighting its way into her field of vision. It was as if a mist in front of her was slowly dissipating and she could almost make out figures moving past her. Pain started in her forehead, and soon she had to let go of her knees and press on her temples in a feeble attempt to combat the pressure. Noises began assaulting her ears and it was all she could do not to cry out and draw attention to herself. Panic began to rise in her chest. She strained to look through the fog, desperate to get her bearings on where she was and terrified of what that answer might be.

For weeks she had been having strange dreams. There were sounds she couldn’t identify and feelings of total detachment from herself as she floated above streets she didn’t recognize. She would be walking home from school and suddenly her ears would ring and her vision would blur for a split second. Sometimes she could swear she heard someone call her name, but this was different. This didn’t feel like a dream. It was more than a phantom calling. Squinting now into the light, she could see that she was in an alleyway but none that she had ever seen. The road beneath her feet was some kind of stone, not the pavement to which she was accustomed. Looking up, she saw a sign swinging in the wind. I’m dreaming, she thought as she pinched her upper arm in an attempt to wake up and stop the ache in her head. As she looked around again, she realized the roaring had stopped and now there was silence. The street was empty but the sign swung back and forth as if someone was gently pushing it to and fro. Its wood was battered from years of being out in the weather. The paint was badly faded, but the symbol was clear: an eagle clutching a book in its claws.

“You’ve finally arrived,” a voice broke through the silence, sending her into total terror. She scrambled to her feet, spinning around and stumbling away from the disembodied voice. As her eyes finally adjusted, she saw him standing behind where she had been crouching, picking up a book that lay on the ground and dusting off the cover.

“If you’ve quite finished with the transition, we’ve work to do,” he said as he brushed passed her with a flourish of his robe. The weathered red door swung open under the sign as he approached it, leaving her standing alone. Every cell in her body was on high alert, adrenaline coursing through her veins.

“You’ll never get anywhere standing in the middle of the street Thea,” he called over his shoulder and ducked through the door.

“Wait, how do you know my name” she managed to squeak out but he was already gone. The door swung shut before everything was black again.”

Stats from yesterday: 
Your Average Per Day
1,682
Words Written Today
1,537
Total Words Written
26,926
Words Remaining
23,074
Current Day
16
Days Remaining
15
At This Rate You Will Finish On
November 30, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
1,539

Little Victories!

So I’m sitting at work this morning feeling pretty confident after a call and getting stuff done when suddenly the hubby’s face pops up on my cellphone. Little man is throwing up so I pack it up and head home. The next several hours involve a lot of Star Wars:Clone Wars and Dinotrux in the background. (it’s exactly what it sounds like. Dinosaurs made out of machines. Look it up on Netflix if you’re ready to call DSS on Ryder’s parents and have the Paw Patrol taken care of somewhere far far away). Of course little dude thinks he’s totally fine now but pesky health regulations means he’s staying home from daycare tomorrow & I’m taking the day off to hang with him, because let’s be honest, he’ll be wide open all day. One very good thing about this is I will have loads of time to write tomorrow and can potentially go to bed at a decent hour finally! Yay for little victories. I can’t even say that without immediately hearing Matt Nathanson in my head. If you haven’t heard “Little Victories”, fix that. immediately. Here, I’ll even do the hard work for you ( Little Victories )

“This time I’ll be sailing
No more bailing boats for me
I’ll be out here on the sea
Just my confidence and me
And I’ll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I’ll learn to get by
On the little victories

This time I’ll have no fear
I’ll be standing strong and tall
Turn my back towards them all
And I’ll be awful sometimes
Weakened to my knees
But I’ll learn to get by
On the little victories

And if the world decides to catch up with me
It’s a little victory”

You’re welcome. Speaking of little victories, I finally broke through the wall on my story I think! I’ve been circling around the real meat of the story for awhile. It feels like we’re just dragging our feet, playing at a real story. I could feel it, I could almost see but it was somehow still out of grasp. But ya’ll. I think I did it. I went from feeling guilty about having to report I wrote less than the 1,667 goal, to deciding to tough it out and just dump until I got there. Before I knew it, there it was. Not only do I finally have a working world backstory, I finally have the how! I knew I wanted some kind of fantastical element to the story but I didn’t want it to be straight up witches and wands. I’ve been doing lots of ‘research’ lately, aka reading/listening to a whole bunch of different ways other authors have written about powers/magic/fantasy, etc. to get some ideas of what I can relate to and what I don’t like. That’s why my Goodreads shelf is jumping all over the place lately; you can conveniently follow it below in a box to the left, all the books in a box to the left. (Sorry Bey, I know. That was bad). That brings us to the hard facts from today:

Your Average Per Day
1,746
Words Written Today
2,137
Total Words Written
24,445
Words Remaining
25,555
Current Day
14
Days Remaining
17
At This Rate You Will Finish On
November 29, 2016
Words Per Day To Finish On Time
1,504