Wednesday, 24 September 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

Please note that one of our WUW headings has changed. You can find further details on that here.

What I’m Reading:

I finished Phobic by Cortney Pearson and really enjoyed it. Phobic was a perfect spooky read for autumn. If you’d like to know more about it, you can check out this postNow I’m reading Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and beta reading a fun, unique urban fantasy ms.

What I’m Writing:

This week I wrote 5700 words. My mc is facing some big challenges right now, and that means big challenges for me in the writing department. This may sound crazy, but I actually like that. When I plan a story, I sometimes purposely work elements into the plot that I know will stretch my writing abilities. It keeps writing fresh for me.  I’m getting to the point in this ms when the plot is really going to kick into high gear, and I’m looking forward to that.

What Works for Me:

Writers often stress the importance of psychological triggers that put you in the mood to write. One of those items for me is my writing mug. Actually, I have two like this, which is a good thing seeing as one of them is usually clean then when I sit down to work. Why do I swear by this particular mug? Because it’s dark with a romantic flare, much like my WIP.  I often have a favourite writing tea as well. Right now, it’s wild cherry.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

This past Saturday, the hubby and I made a traditional Scottish dinner for Outlander night. I whipped up some homemade shortbread, decorated with my thistle stamp. The thistle is the national flower of Scotland, in case you were wondering. We also made haggis, clapshot (a potato and turnip dish), and oat bannocks with honey, all of which were quite tasty. Yes, we love haggis, although we made the quick version that only uses liver. Feel free to be grossed out. It’s definitely not for everyone. The husband also put together quite the selection of awesome Scottish craft beers for the occasion (we had Dark Island and Skull Splitter from the Orkney Brewery). Plus, I tried Scotch for the first time. Holy moly does that burn going down! I enjoyed it.

Other than that, we’ve been taking nice fall walks and “squooshing.” That’s what my family used to call running and crunching through the leaves when I was a kid. As you can see in my pics, the leaves here are mostly yellow now. Even though we’ve had summer temperatures during the day lately, it’s cold enough at night to turn the trees.

So how was your week?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Introducing PHOBIC by Cortney Pearson!

Hey, everyone! Today I’m super excited to be a part of the book blitz for Phobic by Cortney Pearson. As soon as I read the description for Phobic, I was itching to read it. A story about a haunted house that’s alive? Bring it on! As soon as autumn hits, I start gearing up for Halloween and all things spooky, and Phobic is the perfect creepy, mysterious read for this time of year.

I loved the main character, Piper, and how she handled the challenges thrown at her throughout the book—some normal and others down right freaky. The moment I read chapter one I was hooked. I had to know the history of Piper’s house and the explanation for its weirdness. I’ll also admit to staying up until 4:00 a.m. to get those answers.

One of my favourite things about Phobic was Cortney’s knack for unique metaphors and word choices. Many times I found myself saying, “Ooo, I like how she put that!” I also loved that while Piper’s struggles concerning her house were on the bizarre side (eek!), her teenage struggles were very real.

So if you’re looking for a spooky YA read for autumn or any other time of the year, I recommend snuggling up with Phobic! And don't forget to enter the rafflecopter below for the chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

Here's a better look at what Phobic is about:

Series: The Forbidden Doors #1
Release date: September 8th 2014
Purchase: Amazon

Fifteen-year-old Piper Crenshaw knows her house is strange. It’s never needed repairs since it was built in the 1800s, and the lights flicker in response to things she says. As if those things aren’t creepy enough, it’s also the place where her mother committed murder.

To prove she’s not afraid of where she lives, Piper opens a forbidden door, which hides a staircase that leads to the ceiling. That’s when the flashbacks of the original residents from 1875 start, including a love affair between two young servants. Each vision pulls Piper deeper into not only their story, but also her house. Piper confides in her best friend, Todd, whom she's gradually falling for, but even he doesn't believe her. At least, not until her house gets axed during a prank, and the act injures Piper instead, cutting a gash the size of Texas into her stomach.

Piper realizes her house isn’t haunted—it’s alive. To sever her link to it, she must unravel the clues in the flashbacks and uncover the truth about her mother’s crime, before she becomes part of her house for good.

And here's a bit about the author: 

Cortney Pearson is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates books for young adults. She lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.

If you'd like to follow Cortney, you can find her here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

If you missed last week’s post, please note that one of our WUW headings has changed. You can find further details on that here.

What I’m Reading:

I finished Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo and thought it was a satisfying end to a solid series. I’ve noticed some outraged and heartbroken reviews about this third book, but I have to say that I completely agree with the way the author chose to end her trilogy.

Now, I’m reading Phobic by Cortney Pearson and really enjoying it. Considering it’s more or less fall now, and I get Halloweenish this time of year, Phobic, in all its creepiness, is exactly what I’m in the mood for. A cup of Stormy Night tea from David’s and a book about a “haunted” house (yeah, it’s kind of alive and temperamental) makes for a perfectly spooky autumn evening!

What I’m Writing:

This past week, I wrote around 5000 words. I also drafted a scene that’s crucial to the overall plot of my series. It was tough to write because it was on the technical side, but it also needed to be suspenseful and emotional too. You know those scenes that need a bit of EVERYTHING in them? The kind where you feel like you’re juggling way too many elements at once? Yeah, this scene was like that. It was frustrating and draining to write, and I’m not entirely sure what I think of how it unfolded, but for now I got through it. Whew. 

What Works for Me:

Every once in a while I like to have a cleanup day. Creative clutter can eventually stop being creative and start to become a distraction. My work areas, writing tote box, and notebooks build up with stuff that snowballs and gets overwhelming: Cue writer’s block and frustration.

Sometimes it’s necessary to tackle all those Post-Its stuck everywhere, the notes that have piled up and need to be transferred to Scrivener, the fringe of tabs along the top of my notebooks that flag plot holes to deal with, the jumble of writing tools, the annoying crumbs on my keyboard, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It’s funny how dealing with the clutter can uncork my brain, get the creative juices flowing again, and make me ready to move ahead in a story.

Usually, I end up decluttering when I’m not feeling motivated to put words on the page or I’m stuck on a plot issue and still want to do something productive and story related. Then the next time I actually write, it’s a fresh start.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

It’s been busy lately, so I haven’t been up to anything out of the ordinary. My husband was away for work last week, and being the thoughtful guy that he is, he brought back a bunch of lovely notebooks for me to scribble story ideas in. They’re so pretty I almost don’t want to write in them (almost). My son and I watched Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet the other night seeing as we’re reading the play for school. Even after eighteen years it’s still a cool interpretation, and my son loved it. Major bonus in the homeschool department. There was also much pumpkin-y messing around in our kitchen. The hubby brewed his annual batch of pumpkin beer, which will hopefully be ready for Halloween, and I whipped up some pumpkin cookies to kick off fall. Oh yes, and we started watching The Mindy Project. Loving it so far.

So what’s up with you these days? 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

What's Up Wednesday Makeover!

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

Last week I mentioned that Jaime and I had a little makeover in store for WUW. You’ve probably already noticed the pretty new autumn buttons Jaime designed. Feel free to snag those if you like! We’ve also decided to change one of the headings just to freshen things up a bit. We’re scrapping What Inspires Me Right Now, and we’ll be including the new heading What Works for Me instead. This new section is for sharing different aspects of our writing habits and processes with one another, whether they’re ways to stay organized, inspired, or make your writing time fun. Something that works for you might work for someone else too, and you never know what tips might come in handy!

Here’s a list of ideas for what to post about under this heading:

details about your writing process: how you stay organized, what writing program you use and why, how you go about revising, etc.
 your writing habits: when or where you write, specifics of your routine, what you do to get in the mood for writing, what your writing space looks like, etc.
how you reward yourself
writing tips, helpful quotes, or links to articles
music on your playlist
how you balance writing with family, work, and other activities
what motivates or inspires you lately (see how that old heading still fits in?)
how you keep yourself disciplined and focused
how you brainstorm or organize new story ideas
how you deal with writer’s block, plot issues, etc.
tips for writing a query, synopsis, pitch line, or self-publishing
writing snacks or other fun essentials

You get the idea. There are tons of fun and useful things we can share in this new section! Basically What Works for Me is broader while putting the focus more on writing. Don’t feel like you have to stick to this list either—these are just some suggestions to get everyone started—but please remember to keep what you share writing-centred. Hopefully we’ll pick up some helpful tips from one another!

Now on to my post... 

What I’m Reading:

I’m about halfway through Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Anyone else notice how many good trilogies are ending this year?

I’m also reading Romeo and Juliet with my son, which is how we’re kicking off language arts for homeschooling this year. We’re using the Oxford Next Shakespeare Project, an awesome (and very inexpensive) online resource from Oxford University Press. Seriously, if you’re a teacher, a parent with a kid reading Shakespeare for school, or you want to dig into The Bard’s works yourself, I highly recommend it. Also check out for hilarious, teen friendly, thorough breakdowns of all aspects of Shakespeare’s plays.

What I’m Writing:

After a busy summer of writing non-stop and finishing Act 1 of Enlighten, I took a bit of a break. Instead of churning out words, I reread what I’ve written so far and boosted my inspiration by creating mood boards for my trilogy, which I’ve wanted to get around to for ages. I also did some research to prep for diving into my next big scene. I have now written part of said scene, and a particular snippet of dialogue from it might be one of my favourite bits ever.

What Works for Me:

Colour coding! Since I’m writing a trilogy, ideas for three books have been popping into my head for the last two years, and I always jot those down in a notebook right away (actually it’s a whole series of notebooks now). To keep that mishmash of ideas organized, I mark each with a different coloured dot in the margin: green for Envision, red for Engrave, and purple for Enlighten. Then, when I transfer a whole schwack of notes to Scrivener or go looking for something I scribbled down, it’s easy to sort out which notes are for which book. After that, I put an X through the coloured dot to indicate that idea has been transferred. If I hadn’t started this colour coding system back when I first began writing this trilogy I would’ve been overwhelmed and a lot of ideas would’ve been lost in the shuffle. I also tend to colour code when I draw plot arc diagrams and for any number of other tasks. It works really well if you’re visual like I am.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

The hubby and I have been watching Outlander, which is pretty much spoiling me for all
other TV shows. I wasn’t so sure about the casting at first, but I’m now convinced. And addicted.

I finally tackled sorting through our library to get rid of books that won’t get read again (or will never even get cracked open). I hate doing it, but it’s high time to whittle down our shelves. We donate our used books to our local symphony for their yearly book sale, so they go toward a good cause at least. 

And, as usual, I’ve been working my butt off on curriculum. I like to be organized about our school year (Okay, I admit it. We’re keeners) so that’s been a ton of work lately. It’s well worth it though, and I’m excited about the topics and resources we’ll be covering.

So what’s up with you?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

Seeing as things are crazy busy for me lately, I’m not posting today.  We just kicked off our homeschooling year, so I’m neck deep in lessons and trying to settle in to our new fall schedule. Oh, and just a heads up: WUW might be getting a little makeover soon, so stay tuned for more info on that! I hope you’re all having a fantastic week!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! Beta/CP Match-Up Post

Welcome to the RSW beta/CP match-up! If you missed the details on Monday, you can find them in the second half of my my post here. I hope all of you who participate find readers that fit well with your WIPs and that some great writing partnerships can be made today!

Now a bit about my WIP…

Book two of my trilogy, Engrave, is complete and in the hands of my lovely CP/sister Jaime. I need betas for Engrave, but that means anyone who volunteers would need to read book one, Envision, first. It’s been critiqued and beta read and polished to a shine, so if you’re up for that, you can check it out below. I’ll stick to sharing info about book one, seeing as I don’t want to give away any spoilers about book two.

Age category: Upper YA
Genre: light sci-fi with elements of cyberpunk
Warnings: swearing, some sexual content, drug use later in series, though not explicit and not promoted (Nothing super edgy, but I like to warn potential readers in case they're uncomfortable with these things.)
When I’ll be ready for betas: now for Envision, hopefully later this fall or winter for Engrave (once it’s been critiqued and polished)

Love list for Envision:

narrow escapes ■ slow burn romance ■ a motorcycle ■ an inappropriately funny tech guy ■ rainbow hair ■ digitally enhanced minds ■ broken stained glass ■ chases ■ energy pulse weapons ■ a drastic makeover ■ piggybacks ■ Keats ■ a cryptic wooden box ■ mean right hooks ■ keys ■ urban green spaces ■ books with real pages ■ books with no pages at all ■ secrets ■ glow-in-the-dark spray paint ■ egg rolls ■ unique cameras ■ fun with jiu-jitsu and krav maga ■ sink sprayers ■ imploding things ■ tunnels ■ connections ■ an asymmetrical chandelier ■ memories ■ rain ■ Jell-o breaks ■ biker jackets ■ long stretches of highway ■ the limbo between dreaming and waking ■ sparrows ■ autumn leaves ■ ideals this world has long since forgotten ■ torn up letters ■ Romanticism ■ introverts ■ first kisses ■ finders keepers ■ glow bracelets ■ taiko drums ■ photos ■ holograms ■ acrobats ■ a near future setting

My query description:

When eighteen-year-old Naia witnesses her dad's murder, she believes his death is revenge for inventing the Ports, implants that turn human minds into computers. She flees his killers, intending to seek help from EnvisiTech, the powerful company responsible for marketing Port technology.

Her escape is thwarted when she’s kidnapped by Evan, leader of the anti-Port extremist group known as the Retros. He insists it’s for her protection, but she doesn’t know whether to believe his claims that EnvisiTech is behind her dad’s murder or that the Ports cause devastating physical symptoms and are being used by the company to manipulate minds.

While struggling to come to terms with her dad's death and the possibility that he was involved in a twisted plot to control humanity, Naia must determine whom to trust. But it isn't as simple as choosing a side, especially when someone is targeting Port users with a deadly digital virus. She must find her place in the fight and face her growing feelings for Evan, whose real identity could be one of the greatest obstacles of all.

An excerpt:

Not being a Retro, there isn’t much for me to do around here, and I’m getting stir crazy. Mostly I sit around using my Port to pass the time, but mentally flipping through old magazines and watching reruns of TV shows on the backs of my eyelids gets boring pretty fast. At home I could inload new entertainment whenever I wanted. Here, that’s not an option. Brodie would never let me use his computers to access that sort of thing, and Evan, His High and Mightiness, would have a conniption. He’s already annoyed by the amount of time I spend using my Port.
This morning, I’m listening to music in what’s become my usual spot on the sofa when he slams a stack of books down on the coffee table so hard it makes me jump.
“Help yourself,” he says with a mocking smile. “I assume you know how to read.”
“Are you always such a condescending jerk?” I try not to scan the titles on the cracked spines even though I’m bored enough that the offer is tempting, and I’m curious what kind of literature the dark tempered leader of the Retros is into. “For your information, I have over two hundred books stored in my head.”
Unimpressed, he taps the pile and settles into a chair, crossing one booted foot over the other on the coffee table. He spends the next hour frowning into a battered volume of Longfellow’s poems, turning the pages with curt exaggeration as if to emphasize the superiority of his reading method over mine. As much as I’m itching to borrow one of the books, I refuse to award him the pleasure of seeing me give in.
He hasn’t made any attempts to continue our conversation from the night of the mission. I guess he realizes I need time and space to make sense of everything that’s happened. Either that or he’s given up trying to convince me I should be on their side. Not that he’s been around much. Lately he takes off for a couple days at a time. I have no idea where he goes, but before he leaves, he always takes two flash drives from the mysterious box behind the computer station, sits at the island with his back to everyone and inloads from them. I wish I knew what secrets are hidden on those drives, what secrets he carries in his head. Maybe then I’d know what to do about my situation.

Some additional thoughts on Envision:

Even though technology is central to Envision, it isn’t hard sci-fi. Imagine if that iPad or smart phone you tote around with you was in your head. That’s what this is about. I’m actually not a very techie person and the characters really are the heart of the story. It’s more about connections between people than computers.

I’m big on plot twists, characters with layers, slow burn romance and fast-paced plots, dark atmosphere, high stakes, a mix of tragedy and humour, suspense, urban sprawl versus nature, and contrasting Romanticism with science and technology.

One last thing: If you beta read for me, then I’m willing to beta read for you.

So…any takers?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

What I’m Reading:

I finished The Peculiars, but about halfway through it lost steam for me. Yes, that was a steampunk joke. Lame, I know.

Then, I read Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, which was well worth the wait. While I think Lola is still my favourite out of the three, Isla hit me in a way the other two didn’t, probably because I found myself relating more to Isla. In an interview I recently read, Stephanie Perkins said she’d crush on St. Claire, date Cricket, and marry Josh. I wasn’t so sure about that, but after reading, I think I might have to agree. I also remember Sperkins saying part of the reason Isla was delayed was because she wanted the book to have heart. Well, it has tons of heart—sometimes a broken heart, but it oozes heart nonetheless. Finally, I have to admit that I got all sniffly when I read Stephanie’s thank you to her husband in the acknowledgements. It was the epitome of sweet. So sad to be done this series.

What I’m Writing:

This week I passed the 45k mark on Enlighten, and right now I’m working on a string of small scenes meant to set up a whole lot of big things. Changes are just around the corner for my mc, and I’m both excited and nervous because those changes are going to be challenging to write. I hope I can pull it off the way I see it playing out in my imagination.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

After envying everyone that mentioned having fall weather last week, temperatures finally dipped and we’ve had a little taste of autumn here too. Crisp air, rain, and pumpkin chai tea are gearing me up for when my favourite season officially arrives, and that’s making me want to get all sorts of things accomplished. Bring on the pumpkins, wooly scarves, and colourful leaves! I’m ready!

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

We went to see The Giver the other day and left the theatre feeling very inspired. I thought they did a stellar job adapting it to the big screen, even though certain things were different than the book. There was something very powerful about watching Jonas, the main character, go through an awakening of sorts and seeing the memories the Giver passed on to him. It was one of those movies that reminds you what it means to be human, a theme that’s especially on my mind lately while I write. My son and I have both read the book, and now my husband plans to as well. (He cheated and watched the movie first, which is kind of against the rules in our house, but we forgive him.)

I also watched Dead Poets Society with my son yesterday. It was emotional watching it, especially considering Robin William’s passing, but exciting to share something so profound with my son. I’d been waiting a very long time for that, and I hope it has the same lasting impact on him that it did on me. In any case, he thoroughly enjoyed it.

Other than that, I haven’t been up to anything spectacularly out of the ordinary, although I’ve been busy. We jump back into homeschooling on Tuesday, so I’m getting everything in order for that, which is always a hefty task. I’m looking forward to it though. My son and I often sit across the table from one another and work together. I love that.

So what’s up with you this fine Wednesday?