Happy Birthday Month, Blog!

My blogaversary is this Friday, May 4th (Otherwise known as Star Wars Day. Yes, I’m THAT nerdy). It’s been a really fun two years, and I have to admit that even though I haven’t been the most consistent blogger in the world, I’ve really enjoyed the side effect of blogging, namely, the accountability I have to make progress toward my goals (writing or otherwise).

I’ve enjoyed the blogging community, and have met a lot of lovely writers, readers, and delightful nerds (and in a few weeks, I will actually meet many of you in real life!) who have become some of my closest friends. Because I believe in sharing the love and “paying it forward,” I want to celebrate the month by hosting a little giveaway.

Usually, I would normally host a giveaway for a book or two, but since there are so. Many. Awesome. Books out this month, like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities or Veronica Roth’s Insurgent, I thought it would be better for you all to pick the book you want!

So, for my Blog Birthday, I’ll be giving away a $20 Amazon (or Barnes and Noble) e-giftcard! (Winner’s preference, of course!) All you have to do is be a subscriber/follower of this blog, and comment below, and you’ll be entered into the raffle!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations, Michele S!

 

Also, because I want you to know how much I appreciate you, any comment on any post this month, will count as extra entries!

So, tell me…Why do YOU blog? If you’re not a blogger, please feel free to share your goals for this year! If you’re a fellow writer, anything fun and shiny you’re working on?

Share the Love: A Need via Carolina Valdez Miller

My friend, Carol Miller, has volunteered to go on a Medical Mission to Haiti this January. As part of this mission, all serving are expected to raise funds for supplies and prescription medicine, and also bring as much over-the-counter medicine as they can carry.

Carol’s words are so much better than what I can express…

An excerpt:

“So what I’m asking of you is to search deep inside yourself and do only what you can. Of course, your emotional support is just as valuable to me as anything else, but if you can spare even a dollar, less than the cost of a cup of coffee, that’s a box of children’s vitamins from the dollar store–at minimum.”

…so please visit her blog if you are moved in any way to support this mission, even if it’s just to comment and lend emotional support; share the love in any way you can. Thank you.

Information about Carol’s trip in January

Locale: Medical clinic volunteers for Mission Haiti Medical will reside on the compound of L’Eglise De Dieu Reformee in Saintard, Haiti. Saintard is a small village in the Arcahaie region of Haiti, about 30 miles northwest of Port AuPrince, Haiti’s capital.

Accommodations: Accommodations are meager and volunteers are asked to share rooms with other volunteers. The sleeping quarters are open-air, but protected from rain by an overhead roof. Running water for the restroom and showers is used conservatively. Clean drinking water is provided at all times. Electricity and telephone services are unreliable and availability cannot be guaranteed.

Schedule: A Mission Haiti Medical work camp lasts 7-10 days. Three to five days are devoted to mobile clinics, in which the team travels to a rural area to provide a one-day clinic. These are full days and may involve driving through rough terrain and a few hours of mountain hiking. A mobile clinic requires medical professionals, but also relies on a team of persons to assist with procedures,
crowd control, and dispensing medications.
Language: The spoken language is Haitian Creole. Interpreters are used in the clinics.

 

Share The Love

Love Heart

Image by Pink Poppy Photography via Flickr

{This post is part of a continuing feature on my blog. It represents what I love most about Twitter: sharing great content, no matter the source. I love promoting good books I’ve discovered, passing along great advice I’ve heard, and recognizing awesome people I’ve met. So, I’ve translated that love to my blog, and simply called this feature “Share The Love.”}

I traveled around the blogosphere this past week and loved these posts:

I played on twitter and loved these tweets:

http://twitter.com/#!/feedmespeed/status/125057348304764928

http://twitter.com/#!/Zen_Moments/status/125364469953085440

http://twitter.com/#!/Mak_pk/status/126002948118552576

http://twitter.com/#!/emmofittipaldi/status/125704199261536256

(The news of Dan Wheldon’s death was heartbreaking. Prayers go out to his family.)

I borrowed these books from the library, and would love to read them before they’re due back:

  • The Death Cure, by James Dashner
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins
  • The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau
  • The People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau

Speaking of books, I’ve had two books on my to-read list for quite sometime: XVI by Julia Karr and The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell. Coincidentally, the two authors were speaking at a local library this past Monday.

Unfortunately, I was late driving in from my pay the bills job, so I didn’t catch ALL of what they said, BUT, the part that I caught was a fun and interactive Q&A filled with anecdotes about their books, publishing journey, and writing process.

Love the energetic hand gestures! I can't speak if my hands are still!

I really enjoyed the story about the cover model for XVI tweeting Julia and letting her know that the photo was a self-portrait she took when she was 16.

Telling the story about the cover model

And, of course, I got to buy their books and get them signed! Here is Julia, signing my copy of XVI. Notice the ARC of Truth sitting next to her?? All the teens there feasted on the cover and back copy!

"Seek the Truth!"

Smile!

I LOVED this pretty gold marker that Saundra used to sign…

Shiny ink! me likey!

…AND, I loved jibber-jabbering with her all sugarnated (that’s a word)! 😀

Saundra: "Let's do duck faces!"

Thank you ladies for an entertaining end to a seemingly never-ending work day!

*hugs and (duck) kisses*

😀

So Tell Me: Do YOU have any LOVES to share from this past week?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Giveaway

Daughter of Smoke and BoneI captured my initial reaction to Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone on Good Reads, which I copied below:

“Holy. Crap.

This book was AMAZING!

I loved Every. Single. Word.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautiful example of what YA literature could be, and what I strive for in my own fiction. I wish books like these were available to me when I was a YA, but at least I can appreciate them and revel in them now!

Brava, Laini Taylor, for crafting such a remarkable story!”

Daughter of Smoke and Bone will launch on Tuesday, September 27, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC of it back in June, thanks to my dear friend and crit partner, Kayla (which I talk about HERE) and I remember gushing about it to my friend, Carol who was awesome enough to give me a signed ARC (which I talk about HERE.))

I plan on putting up a full review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone this week, because, DUDE, you all need to read this book. For reals, yo.

In fact, I believe this book is SO WORTH THE READ, that I will give away a finished copy to one lucky reader! (Besides, it’s my 8th wedding anniversary, so, I’m feeling generous!)

That’s right: I WILL GIVE AWAY ONE COPY of Daughter of Smoke and Bone because this book is ridiculously awesome! *confetti*

[Giveaway Entries Now Closed.]

This giveaway ENDED on the book’s release date, Tuesday, September 27.

(Again, all you really need to do is enter your info into that form, and you’re good to go! All the sharing stuff is for additional entries, and is completely optional!)

(Also, if you’ve already submitted entries and comments on my initial post, no need to do so again! You’re good to go!) 😉

(Don’t you love all these parentheses? It’s like we’re having a real conversation!) 😀

Congratulations to Sophia Chang, winner of this giveaway! 😀

Share the Love (this time with a giveaway!)

Cover of "The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)&...

Cover of The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)

I’ve read a lot of good books since my last Share the Love post. Let’s see, there’s…

  • The Iron Queen, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa
  • The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa
  • Darkest Mercy, by Melissa Marr
  • The Unwanteds, by Lisa McMann
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, by Rae Carson
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

I’ve actually read more than these books, but I list these specifically to showcase the inordinate amount of fantasy that  I’ve been reading lately. I wonder if that was a conscious decision on my part or not. I know I picked up Eon and Eona specifically to inspire me about an aspect of WIP2. And, I also picked up Ender’s Game (which I know is science fiction, but has fantasy elements I enjoy) and Among the Hidden for that reason, too. I know that somewhere in the recesses of my mind, my muses are tinkering with a post-apocalyptic fantasy, and I wonder if they’re hungry for more fantasy?

Maybe it’s a combination of the available e-galleys and ARCs that came my way, coupled with my need to read meatier works? After all, the fantasy genre does lend itself to intricate world-building, and often uses sociopolitical power dynamics to add conflict and tension to the narrative.

For example, take, The Girl of Fire and Thorns (newly released September 20). The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)This book is full of political intrigue, magic, and adventure. Set in a world reminiscent of medieval Spain, the story centers around Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza (aka Elisa), Orovalle’s second-born princess. Though she is royal, her privileged status comes less from her royal lineage, and more from being a Godstone-bearer.

Once a century, God chooses a bearer during a baby’s naming ceremony by placing a Godstone (a living jewel) on the baby’s navel. The Bearer is destined to perform an Act of Service, and the mythos surrounding the Bearer sets in motion harrowing challenges that Elisa must overcome.

What appeals to me the most is the sheer amount of terrain that Elisa covers throughout the story. I loved the big-ness of this world. I loved experiencing the lush climates of Orovalle; the seaside of Joya d’Arena; and the desert mountains of the rebel stronghold. I loved the concept that all these various countries and people groups are on the precipice of war. But, what I love most? Carson weaves these settings and power plays brilliantly through the narrative, making the countries so unique they were almost characters in themselves. (Interested in reading the full review? You can read it HERE.)

Honestly, though, now that I think about it, this year’s obsession with fantasy probably started after reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. My initial Good Reads reaction to it was…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone“Holy. Crap.

This book was AMAZING!

I loved Every. Single. Word.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a beautiful example of what YA literature could be, and what I strive for in my own fiction. I wish books like these were available to me when I was a YA, but at least I can appreciate them and revel in them now!

Brava, Laini Taylor, for crafting such a remarkable story!”

…and, since this book is holy-crap-amazing, I wonder if I just wanted to keep experiencing that awe, thus glutting myself on more fantasies. Hmm.

(BY THE WAY, Daughter of Smoke and Bone will launch on Tuesday, September 27, but I was lucky enough to read an ARC of it back in June, thanks to my dear friend and crit partner, Kayla (which I talk about HERE) and I remember gushing about it to my friend, Carol, that she was awesome enough to give me a signed ARC (which I talk about HERE.))

I plan on putting up a full review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone next week, because, DUDE, you all need to read this book. For reals, yo.

 SO, have YOU read any good books lately??

 

Work In Progress

Writer's Block

Image by thorinside via Flickr

Since my last Work In Progress post, I have cobbled together my re-envisioning of the story, including a semi-new beginning and tweaking what I wrote so far to create a semblance of cohesion. I also sketched out the next few chapters, and am honestly excited to see what happens next. It’s sort of thrilling to get to new territory, especially since I lived in the first part of WIP2 for a couple of months. I feel like I knew that terrain, and how my characters would react there. I like the familiarity of those older, more established scenes, and love being able to add details here and there with each read-through.

But, now that I’m moving toward this really new next part where MC will be facing new characters and settings and challenges, I’m feeling my “blank page” issues a little bit. No matter how often I feel like I’ve conquered that little anxiety (believe me, I’m set up with affirmations and action plans galore!), it’s still there, noodling around in the back of my mind.

I know that I’m not really facing a blank page, and that I have a lot of material to get out of my head and on to the page. I just wish that The Looming Doubts weren’t, I dunno, genetically hardwired to my Ideas of Awesome That Must Be Written.

Anyway, I read these posts this morning. In their own way, they lessened the Looming Doubts, and increased the Ideas of Awesome.

Share The Love

First off, I wanted to shout out Rachel Harrie’s Third Writers Platform-Building Campaign! I had a lot of fun participating in the last Campaign, and enjoyed meeting a lot of writer friends, and visiting other blogs! If you’re interested, act NOW! The list of Campaigners will close tomorrow, August 31.

Hope to see you around the blogosphere, and on Twitter via #writecampaign

Photo shared generously by Poppy Thomas-Hill

Ok, now to share more love!

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks here, so here are a few highlights from my last few weeks…

While roaming around the blogosphere, I LOVED these posts:

Laurie Halse Anderson: The Nuts and Bolts of Crafting a Creative Life

Carrie Ryan: Revisions, The Why and The How (courtesy of WriteOnCon)

Beth Revis: Don’t Give Up (courtesy of WriteOnCon)

I also twittered a little bit, and I LOVED these tweets:

http://twitter.com/#!/Committed_Jay/status/82263496196227072

http://twitter.com/#!/veertothewrite/status/106797419995475971

I also read a TON and LOVED these books (I wish I could review them ALL):

Eona: The Last Dragoneye (Eon, #2)Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Alison Goodman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think of Eon and Eona as one epic saga, like Lord of the Rings, versus being a book and its sequel. Goodman did such an amazing job weaving culture, language, magic, action that while I read, the words just disappeared and I was living the story.

Just to emphasize how gripping this tale is, I started reading this book around 9PM Wednesday night, thinking to read a few chapters before bed. Well, I HAD to keep reading, and got to The End around 5AM. I only had three hours to sleep before going to work, but the story was SO worth the lack of sleep. (Besides, that’s what coffee is for!)

Amazing work! I only hope that one day, I can develop my scifi/fantasy to this level of sophistication.

WitchlandersWitchlanders by Lena Coakley (released TODAY, August 30!)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Witchlanders is told through the perspectives of two boys, Ryder and Falpian. Ryder is a farm boy in the Witchlands, struggling to support his family after his father’s death. Falpian is a Baen prince from the Bitterlands, mourning the loss of his twin and his potential for magic. Born enemies, Ryder and Falpian discover they have a common destiny, and need to work together to uncover the mysteries behind the cultural assumptions that they’ve inherited.

Witchlanders delivers high fantasy without plodding backstory and cumbersome terms. Coakley beautifully weaves together cultural traditions, histories, and magic to create a rich, immersive reading experience. It has the scope of being an epic story, and the potential for companion tales. And, though I would read a sequel to this story (and I hope there is one considering how this story ended), I would REALLY be interested in reading a prequel.

*Note: I read Witchlander as an egalley, courtesy of Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab program.

View all my reviews

[I’ll be archiving any of my book reviews on my Book Love page (see menu) and of course, GoodReads.]

Those were some of the things I’ve loved these past few weeks…how about you?