children's writer

Quick Thoughts on The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Dec 11, 2013
I began reading The Book Thief sometime in October. I sped through the first few hundred pages and petered out when I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to deal with anything that had to to with words. After two months, I've finally finished. My eyes are probably a bit swollen and the tears, though dry, are still on my cheeks. I have a confession: I hate crying over books. I feel so silly when I do.

At one point, while I read the last few chapters, I asked, "Why are you doing this to me?" I will miss these characters. It sucks that they only exist in this book. I had to remind myself that Liesel Meminger isn't a real person. She felt so real. They felt so real. I hope I'll get to see the movie soon.

"She tore a page from the book and ripped it in half. 
Then a chapter. 
Soon, there was nothing but scraps of words littered between her legs and all around her. The words. Why did they have to exist? Without them, there wouldn't be any of this. Without words, the Fuhrer was nothing. There would be no limping prisoners, no need for consolation or wordly tricks to make us feel better.
What good were the words?"

A Month of Faves: October

Oct 30, 2013

I'm not so good at posts like these. It's mostly because I discover so many wonderful things on the web daily it's hard to keep track. This month, however, I made a conscious decision to take note of everything that my eyes lingered on for more than a few seconds. And here we are. These are a few things I enjoyed this month.

My love affair with The Lumineers is still pretty strong. I've listened to a few songs from their 2012 album. My newest favorite is Big Parade. It'll make a great road trip song.

My most recent favorite blog is Local Milk. I've been a follower for a little more than a month, but I just can't get over the stunning food photography and the creator Beth's way with words. I'm a sucker for beautiful photos and beautiful writing. I loved her Muscadine Rose Hand Pies post. Yum!

Beverage wise, I've mostly had ginger tea. This Warm Coconut Milk with Almonds recipe does look and sound delicious.

When it comes to beauty, I like to keep things simple. My go-to beauty blog is Into The Gloss. I've been a long time fanatic for their Top Shelf posts. I more than enjoyed Poppy King, Lipstick Queen's refreshing take on beauty and working with what you've been given. It's hands down my favorite Top Shelf ever.

Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo recently shared a super cute post called 9 Crazy Things About NYC. It comes with illustrations.

Speaking of Illustrations, I discovered a new blog yesterday called Kris Atomic. If you like backstage shots of fashion shows, street style, and illustrations, it might be a cool place to hang out. I'm looking forward to future posts.

I've recently acquired quite a taste for illustration and art in general. Christian Schloe's work is incredible.

James over at Bleubird Vintage has a keen sense of style. I loved how she styled the ace&jig Oxblood dress in Worn/09.

Some of my favorite posts on writing this month were Susan Dennard's posts on how she plans her books. You can read part 1. I also really enjoyed Taryn Albright's post on writing 50k in a day called #50kKillMeNow. It gives me some ideas.

I'll have to stay away from Netflix next month during NaNoWriMo. After marathoning Breaking Bad, I've become hooked on Orange is the New Black. To make things extra exciting, Wattpad is hosting a NaNo contest. There's a huge prize involved.

I'll still be reading The Book Thief through November, but I'll definitely be finished by the movie's release.

My favorite quote this month:

"I eat cake because it's somebody's birthday somewhere."

Photo: Deer Feeding

New Approach + A Cat

Oct 9, 2013

I spent this Monday and Tuesday watching Scandal, Breaking Bad, hanging out with Liesel from The Book Thief, and thinking about writing as usual. I would say this year has been my most successful year on my path to authorhood. My style has stayed more or less the same, but I think I've finally started to think more like the pros. I saw my mistakes for what they were--mistakes. I made a conscious decision to scrap those old habits. So far things are going well. I wrote some things on index cards and stuck them to my wall. I also read a few pages of Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schmidt.

This morning, while looking for things to photograph, I saw this guy lounging on the fence in our backyard. He didn't mind me taking his picture. He stared intently at me whenever I called to him. He was the perfect model. I wouldn't mind a furry companion.

A Dollar Per Book

Oct 7, 2013

Have you ever been to a one dollar book sale? It's a marvelous high. At 10 am this past Saturday my local library wheeled out carts filled with tons of books. The books were separated by age group, though there was a cart for paperbacks, movies, audio, and books in other languages. I arrived a little after ten and was a little upset I didn't get there sooner. There were so many people there, people pushing shopping carts filled to the top. Lucky me, I was able to get my hands on a few I actually want to read. 

From top to bottom:

1. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall - The selection of children's books wasn't as vast as I hoped it would be. The parents really took advantage of the sale. I was surprised to find The Penderwicks lodged in between two other books. I saw the spine and snatched it up right away. I kind of feel sorry for everyone who missed this gem. It'll be a lovely addition to my middle grade selection, which at the moment looks pitiful next to my young adult selection.

2. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly - When I first started blogging and became immersed in the online book lovers community, this was one of the books on my to-read list. Overtime, it moved further down my list. I'm glad I found it though, and I know I'll love it due to my renewed love for historical fiction.

3. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood - This will be my first Atwood book. It's dystopia, and I haven't read much dystopia. Someone mentioned it in one of their best book of the month posts a few months back. Since then I've wanted to read it.

4. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout  - I picked this one up mostly because it sounded familiar. I've wanted to venture out of my safe zone in literature for sometime now. So far, from reading the first line, I think Strouts' writing is the kind I'll be able to drink up. It takes place in Maine. I've heard Maine is a beautiful place.

5. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards - The title makes it sound promising, even my mother commented on how much she liked it. We'll see, we'll see. Originally I thought it had something to do with time travel. I did pick up a copy of The Time Traveler's Wife, but I've seen the movie way too many times.

6. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - The copy is rather good, though there was one cringe worthy dog ear. I flew through the sample on Amazon. I can't wait to sink into the pages once more. I have a copy of the Great Gatsby that needs to be read. Rules of Civility will be a great companion.

7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - It's on the favorites lists of almost everyone who reads YA. It's a gem. It's a classic. I'm thrilled.

8. Room by Emma Donoghue - It's all about the premise. I'm almost worried it might be a bit too dark for me. Still I'm curious enough to crack it open and peek in.

Eight books for eight dollars. There were two I'm sad I let go, like the movie tie-in of Hugo's Cabinet. It would have been pretty on a shelf. I also walked passed some Stephen King's. I could have had Water for Elephants, but I let it go. While I paid for the eight, someone said they'd be bringing out more children's books. I should have stuck around. This sale really spoiled me. I need more books.

National Writing Month & Goals for October

Oct 3, 2013

Sorry, October. November is the month I'm looking forward to the most. It'll be my third year participating in NaNoWriMo and hopefully my first year hitting 50k. Last years NaNoWriMo was almost a complete fail. The project I'd originally planned to write went nowhere, though I did flex my fingers a bit with another spur of the moment SNI. Though I only made it to 10k, my appetite for new words was satisfied.

Ivy of Our Hearts still begs to be written. It's one of those ideas that's been really hard to shake off. I've thought about it a lot this year, rearranging scenes in my head and adding new plot points. The story line is more or less the same. But with my new interest in fantasy and my imagination being led by my favorite old fairy tales, I think I've taken it to a new exciting level. I don't have a new synopsis yet. You can read the original synopsis here if you wish. Bridge to Terabithia and Snow White have been major inspirations.

50K is a long way off. I haven't even reached 10k for my current WIP--We Are Shining. In September I picked up a sparkly notebook called Diamond Starlight for plotting, doodling, and brainstorming. It reminded me of the stars. It's funny how something so simple can motivate you to keep going.

I doubt I'll finish it before NaNoWriMo, but if I can write at least half of it I'd be gleeful. The quote below reminds me of my MC Bryn whose once glittering eyes are now not so glittery.

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."  
- Roald Dahl

Goals for October
  1. Hit 25,000 words in We Are Shining
  2. Finish reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak in time for the movie
  3. Purchase a new notebook for Ivy of Our Hearts and write a new synopsis
  4. Blog 2x a week  
  5. Do more of what makes me happy without guilt or fear

It's officially fall. And fall means new beginnings.

On A Bookish Date: When You Reach Me

Oct 1, 2013
On A Bookish Date is a meme in which I share my love for books and cure my style cravings.

I recently finished reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. I'd heard so many good things about it from other writers I picked it up on one of my spur of the moment bookstore trips. I figured it would be a quick, light read. What I loved most about the writing was the way Rebecca Stead subtly wove in details. I honestly didn't figure things out until the very end. That made the book all the more special because one of my biggest pet peeves in fiction is being able to guess what happens next. The story line didn't feel rushed at all. Often last chapters read as if the author wrote them fairly quickly just to finish up the story. In When You Reach Me, the last few lines had an open-ended sort of feel to them. As if to say, this is only the beginning.

All of the characters, including the secondary characters, had major roles in the story. Even the characters whose roles appeared rather small at first. I loved the way issues of race and class were subtly woven in. They weren't all in your face, though my heart still broke. It continued to ache hours after I read the last line. When You Reach Me is a book everyone should read--young or old.

For our date I'd wear a mid-length wrap skirt, long cozy boots, and a puff hat. A Wrinkle in Time is my favorite book as well, like the main character Miranda's. 

Tools for Easy Writing

Sep 2, 2013

Last week's Top Ten Tuesday - hosted by The Broke and the Bookish - was so ingenious I had to do a writing version. These are ten things that make my writing life easier/better.

1. Microsoft Word

I know a lot of writers swear by Scrivener, but when it comes to my writing I like to keep things as simple as possible. I'll open up a new document and maybe if I'm feeling fancy use one of my favorite fonts, either Georgia or Calibri Light. I write single spaced with an extra space in between paragraphs. And though I use chapter headings, I won't bother separating them until the draft is complete.

2. Written Kitten

When I first heard of this site I didn't think it would be for me. I didn't think a promised picture of a kitten would help me reach my word count goals. These days I think a picture of a kitten is just the cherry on top of a website that has sometimes helped my surpass my usual word count for the day.

3. Pinterest

When I need a dose of inspiration, Pinterest is my number one source. I love that I can create a board for one of my novels and throw a ton of images into to it. I can spend hours on it. For me, it's a way to relax and unwind. It makes me feel creative without lifting more than one finger.

4. Goodreads

It's a great website for finding comp titles and keeping up-to-date on new releases in my genre for the age group I'm writing for. I'll log on more than once a day to add new books to my to-read list, read reviews, and see if there have been any cover debuts for the books I'm pinning for.

5. Microsoft Excel

It's the perfect tool for keeping track of word counts and really comes in handy when I'm querying. I can't tell you how many times I've forgotten if I've queried someone or not. My Excel spreadsheets helps me keep track of the number of queries I've sent and to which agents.

6. Pocket

I could dedicate and entire blog post to this new app. I can't believe it didn't exist before. On those days when I don't have time to read all of the blog posts in my feed or watch those videos on YouTube, I'll add them to Pocket. During the WriteOnCon conference, Pocket really came in handy. There was so much to read and do, it helped me make sure I didn't miss anything. I love being able to read posts from my favorite writing and non-writing blogs on the go, whenever, wherever, without internet access.

7. My Kindle Fire 

I'm the owner of one of those huge, bulky laptops. When I'm on the go, throwing it into my bag won't do me or it any good. There's where my Kindle comes in. I can upload my manuscript to it, grab a notebook, and when I have a chance continue where I'd left off. I do love being able to see my manuscript in a different light so it's perfect for rereading before revising. It comes in handy when I'm beta reading as well.

8. Pandora

Sometimes music does help my writing. Film scores are my favorite for setting the right mood. Out of all the music sites out there, Pandora is my staple. It's convenient and simple, just the way I like them. The perfect scene can sometimes be inspired by the right track at the right time.

9. Google Keep

I've recently began using Google Keep to create to-do lists. I know almost everyone loves Evernote, but I do appreciate the simplicity of Google Keep. I love being able to cross things off as I complete them. Though I use Excel to keep track of my word counts, I use Google Keep to set my weekly writing goals. Whether I'm trying to get to 5,000 words or 10,000, Google Keep is a keeper.

10. Google Drive

I've heard other writers mention using Google Drive to store their manuscripts. And while I must admit keeping my writing online makes me nervous, you can make all of the documents private. You can send them straight to your drive without having to go to the website and it also allows you to create new documents. Between my flash drive, my email account, and Google Drive, I don't worry about losing my writing as much.

Bonus - Coffitivity I haven't used it much but I think it's great. It provides ambient noise that makes you feel as if you're in a coffee shop without leaving the house. A lot of writers love writing in cafes. The great thing about Coffitivity is it allows you to sync your own music so you can have the best creative experience.

What's in your writing toolkit?

Read the Classics (like they're going out of style)

Aug 23, 2013
I picked up my first real classic in the eighth grade. It was a paperback copy of Wuthering Heights. Another girl in class said she'd read Pride and Prejudice, so I was excited to dive into another classic from a popular author. It took a while to get into and every time I didn't understand something I'd rush up to my teacher and ask her to explain. It took even longer to finish the book, but I'm glad I did. It's a story that really stays with you and certainly encourages you to read more classics.

1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

It caught my eye after being recommended by a number of other bloggers. And I've been meaning to pick it up for ages now. I've read the first few pages on Amazon. What really captured my heart was the impeccable voice. So timeless. 

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Honestly I never paid much attention to it until it was reviewed by another blogger. The excerpt she posted sealed the deal. I rushed onto Amazon and finished the sample. It's another one of those books with a timeless voice. Now if only I could finally put down a newer book and purchase it. I've waked passed it so many times in the bookstore.

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

I first came across The Secret Garden in middle school. I must have picked it up and put it back down. It has a special place in the back of my mind, a place where books I know I should read but walk away from reside. Someday I will take that plunge.

4. The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald 

I bought this one recently during the Gatsby craze. I told myself I'd read it before seeing the movie and I will. I'm looking forward to meeting the main character, who looks quite interesting in the movie, and exploring the 1920s. It'll be a great read.

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Now I do own a copy, which I started years ago. I stopped reading at the end of Jane's childhood. I caught a glimpse of the movie not too long ago and one of my favorite book vloggers reviewed both the movie and the book. That inspired me to give it another chance. I liked what I saw in the 2011 film a lot.

There is one more book I'd like to own, Anne of Green Gables. I totally forgot about it when I put this list together. You can't write about classics without including Anne. What's your favorite classic?

That Time I Dated Harry Potter

Aug 22, 2013

We met in the fifth grade after my mother told me about this book everyone couldn't put down. I was gleeful the day she handed it to me. I must admit, at ten my friends took up a lot of the space in my head and my journey to Hogwarts took longer than a few days. Up until that point, Harry's story had been the longest I'd ever started. Though once I did Harry became the coolest boy I'd ever met. He was ten. I was ten. It was a match made in heaven. Something happened the moment I put down the book, my English scores went up. And yes, I do credit that to the magic of HP.

Fast forward to the sixth grade, the year I devoured the second and third book and still wanted more. My English teacher happened to be a Harry Potter devotee. The standard school curriculum got thrown out and it's place sat Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The Chamber of Secrets and The Prisoner of Azkaban, when read out loud by my teacher, kept my entire sixth grade class in a trance. Even the kids who hated reading were entertained. When the bell rang for our second class we'd groan and beg Ms. C to at least finish the page. I did always look forward to my homeroom class. 

I kept up on my own, borrowing the fourth book from my cousin, and begging my mother to buy me the last two. The movies quenched my thirst between reads. But when it was over. It was over. Years later, on some August day, I decided to reread the entire series. I still have my first paperback copy of the Sorcerer's Stone, though the spine is being held together with tape and pages are falling loose left and right. It is quite different reading it now. While my ten-year-old self read it like someone looking over a thick encyclopedia, I'm breezing through it. Though the writing isn't challenging for me anymore, it isn't hard to see why I loved it so much.

It's whimsical and witty. There are spots in the book my ten-year-old self marked with a blue pen, so I wouldn't forget where I'd left off. And my name is written in red ink on the first pages. Being able to grow up alongside Harry Potter - Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger - made up for all of those horribly mundane moments of my childhood and I bet it will now too.

Look what I found the other day.

J.K. Rowling's drawing of Neville, Ron, Harry, Hermione, and "Gary" ... Apparently Dean's original name. 

Recapturing the Magic of Childhood

Aug 20, 2013

Most days I'd like to believe that I'm still young, hip, and cool. And while it may be true that I've just now become a twenty-something, it always surprises me how "out of tune" I can be at times. I had no idea who Carly Rae Jepsen was until a few months ago and even now I do not get the appeal of a certain popular pop star. I think it's safe to say that I have a few more years left before I become completely clueless. Though I am a bit nervous. How can I possibly write for kids when it seems with every year that passes my childhood fades a little more? I swear the next time I see my younger cousins I'll bring along a series of questions. The most important being, do you still believe in magic?

Here I am months later after professing that I only wanted to write stories for teens and just teens, trying my hand at middle grade once more. And you know what? I'm having a blast. I think even more than I had with my last novel. There are so many possibilities. Unlike with my contemporary stories, I find myself asking what if a lot more often. What if there was a girl who preferred to drink soup through straws, or took her toy ship to the beach one day and sailed off with only the sea to keep her company?

The truth is, there were very few magical moments in my childhood. Not to say that I had a bad childhood. I didn't, but most of my adventures came in the form of a book or Nickelodeon. I do try to go back, as far back as I can, in those moments when I need some real-life inspiration and a ten-year-old isn't at arms reach. I can remember falling in love with musicals after watching Annie, Dr. Dolittle, and The Sound of Music. I remember becoming obsessed with wishes after tossing a quarter into a wishing well on a class trip. I wished for a computer. I remember wishing I could talk to animals like Eliza Thornberry.

I knew how much I loved Matilda, Madeline, and Sara Crewe from A Little Princess. I'd be best friends with any of them given the chance. For a brief moment I wanted to be a member of the C.I.A. after seeing Agent Cody Banks. I loved all things creepy, which is why Rumpelstiltskin has always been my favorite. My first real crush was the kid from Rookie of the Year, though I did always think Casper was cute as a human and a ghost. I daydreamed about Jack from Titanic quite often - innocent daydreams of course. Jurassic Park and Home Alone were movie night favorites. At nine I really fell in love with reading after reading Fudge by Judy Blume. And in middle school, other than Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time became one of the most magical stories I'd ever read.

Okay, so The Thornberrys have been off the air for a few years now and Jurassic Park is practically a classic. Still I can't help but think there's some ten-year-old out there who still wants to talk to animals, or befriend the girl living in the attic. If not, well that's why pen and paper exist. There's a quote that I found and loved. I don't know who wrote it but the very last line is how I feel about writing middle grade.

"Everything, everything's magic."

School Days - Favorite Teen Underdogs

Aug 19, 2013
I've always had a soft spot for underdogs. Whether they're dodging school bullies, walking around with their skirt tucked into their underwear, or just trying to blend into the crowd - they're just so dang-on relatable. As a salute to my high school years, when I was a bit of an underdog myself, these are my top five favorite teens everyone just loves to hate. I can't help but love them.

5. Jerry Mitchell

Three O'Clock High is a classic teen flick. And in my opinion the holy grail of teen movies. The protagonist, Jerry Mitchell, is a not so popular guy who unluckily gets paired up with the not so nice new guy Buddy Revell. Buddy is the classic leather jacket wearing, scowling bad boy who also happens to be a touch freak. What happens after Jerry gives him a friendly slap on the arm is both hilarious and ridiculous.

Buddy Revell: You and me, we're gonna have a fight. Today. After school. Three o'clock. In the parking lot. You try and run, I'm gonna track you down. You go to a teacher, it's only gonna get worse. You sneak home, I'm gonna be under your bed.

Poor Jerry! I guess what I really love about Jerry is that in the beginning he makes a lot of classic mistakes. The same mistakes I would have also made having been in his situation, like cowering in the corner instead of standing up to Buddy. For that I think Jerry is the kind of guy anyone who's ever been bullied can relate to.

4. Tina Belcher

I'm definitely new to the genius of Bob's Burgers. But since discovering it on Hulu, I'm glad to say it has replaced Family Guy as my top favorite adult cartoon. Tina Belcher is my second favorite character on the show after her younger sister Louise. She loves unicorns, writing erotica, and a boy band called Boyz 4 Now. She has stage fright, she's gullible, and of course has a crush on one the most popular guys in school. In a lot of ways, Tina reminds me of my thirteen-year-old self - minus the erotica bit.

One thing that I admire about her is that despite her awkwardness she always seems to get the guy. She's kissed more guys than I did in junior high. Even with her skirt tucked into her underwear, she's pretty cool.

3. Samwell Tarly

I couldn't finish up this list without mentioning at least one character from Game of Thrones. I think Sam won me over with his lack of ninja skills during his Night's Watch training. And then when he admitted he was also afraid of heights I thought he couldn't be any more perfect.

His story is pretty heartbreaking and I guess it's why he and Jon get along so well. They're both underdogs. I love Sam's love for reading, Gilly, and his loyalty to Jon - who is so far is only friend at The Wall. Sam is a nice guy who unfortunately lives in a world where being nice gets you killed. Don't worry, Sam. We're all rooting for you.

2. Tate Langdon

Who's the worlds most lovable psychopath? If you're thinking Tate Langdon from American Horror Story season one then you're right. I could go down the list of horrible things Tate has done - one of them being setting his mother's boyfriend on fire - yet still after all of that I can't help but like him.

He didn't have an easy childhood. He was pretty much neglected by his mother and to fill that void befriended the ghost of a woman who'd lost her baby. In retrospect, Tate shouldn't be attractive at all to anyone. He's toxic. He is the darkness. Though one thing we can't argue with is his love for the teenage girl who's family moved into the house he's haunting.

Tate always puzzled me. How can someone be so evil and have any room left for love? I guess he's just one of those guys you'd hate to fall in love with.

1. Simon Bellamy

I've bet you've heard of that cool UK show called Misfits. If you haven't, let me at least introduce you to the best underdog in the history of underdogs - who also happens to be a superhero - Simon Bellamy. Oh, Simon! They just don't know what they're missing.

Remember that kid no one wanted to sit with at lunch? The kid who had cooties or the cheese touch? Well Simon is that kid. He's soft-spoken, likes going on the internet, and making videos. He's a pretty friendly guy, yet everyone gives him crap. Simon is me in elementary school, middle school, high school, and dare I say even now. He's pretty misunderstood. All he wants is to be loved.

I guess the fact that he can turn invincible whenever he chooses makes up for all of that, and he also happens to be a pretty wicked dancer in my opinion. His best asset, a part from those big doleful eyes and his keen fashion sense, is that if you do give him a chance he'll be a very loyal companion. 

I'm not sure how old Simon is, but he's a great way to end the list.

Who's your favorite teen underdog?

Blog Tour: When the World Was Flat (and we were in love)

Aug 16, 2013

I was super excited when Ingrid asked me to be a participant in her blog tour. Not too long ago I'd blogged about her book after catching sight of it on Goodreads. Intrigued only partly defines how I felt. Who doesn't love a time travel romance? Today she's here with a lovely blog post about her writing process and a giveaway. So sit back, relax, and be prepared to fall in love.

Guest Post by Ingrid Jonach: How I Write

Stephen King said, “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” (Yes, I am quoting the supreme On Writing.)
Of course, when you do step back you might realize that you need to take an axe to half of the forest and then replant some saplings. You might even need to kill your darlings. The writing process is naught if not long and repetitive (but, oh, so exhilarating!).
Below I share my process for writing a story from go to whoa (with whoa being a book deal).

1. Inspiration.
I will not lift a pen (or open my laptop) to start a new story without a spark of inspiration (if it is an existing story I will push ahead with or without inspiration). Inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime. I have tried to keep an ideas journal, but end up scribbling notes on scraps of paper or typing them into the notes app on my iPhone. I will usually dwell on an idea for at least a couple of days or weeks so that I can work through the narrative in my mind, which brings me to…

2. Plotting.
I am a mix of a pantser (write by the seat of your pants) and a planner. I like to at least know where the story is headed so that I can guide my characters down that path. Of course, by the time we get to the end of the path I have taken them around the block a few times and on a couple of wrong turns.

3. Writing.
I try to bang out a first draft as fast as my fingers will fly, but nearly always get bogged down in editing before I am finished. This is an area I am trying to be stricter with myself on – not getting too caught up with editing before I get the story onto paper (or screen).

4. Researching.
I research as I write, but I generally do the most research between the first and second drafts. This means I can write the first draft without getting too bogged down in the details. I tend to undertake my research through a combination of the internet, non-fiction books and documentaries.

5. Rewriting.
This is when I rewrite the first draft based on my research. This can result in significant changes, including adding or deleting scenes or even changing the ending. I also tend to undertake some of the next stage at this point… editing.

6. Editing
This is both my most and least favorite part of the process! I spend a lot of time on this step, adding layers to the story like an artist layering paint on a canvas. This is usually the time when I get a bright spark and decide to take the story in another direction, requiring me to go back to Step 3.

7. Beta Reader
At this stage I get a friend or friends whose opinions I trust to read the manuscript. I find it is important to have a combination of cheerleaders and critics. If you end up with too many critics then you will sit on the story for another year, convinced it is destined for the recycle bin. But if you only have cheerleaders then you will never know why it is rejected over and over again by agents or publishers. Feedback from beta readers can mean going back to Steps 3 to 6 again (these are what I call the Rinse and Repeat Steps!).

8. Synopsis
I am no good at writing synopses (which I understand is a common problem with authors) and prefer to write blurbs or pitches instead (unfortunately this is not always an option). Usually, a synopsis will clarify a few things about the story for me and lead me to go back to Steps 3 to 6 (Rinse and Repeat). I think the trick with writing synopses is to keep them short (no more than two pages). This is not really an issue for me, as I tend to write very tightly.

9. Submission to Agent
This is the stage where I would start submitting to agents if I was unagented. But, now, it is the stage where I send the manuscript to my agent for her feedback (Rinse and Repeat). You might think I would be sick of the sight of the manuscript at this stage, but this is actually one of the most exciting (and nerve wracking) stages, because it is all about getting it ready for the next step…

10. Submission to Publisher
This is where my agent takes the reins and I move onto my next manuscript (which means going back to Step 1!). Of course, if the book is sold then I know I will be spending more time Rinsing and Repeating!

Book Details
When the World was Flat (and we were in love)
Author: Ingrid Jonach
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: 3 September 2013 in the US and Canada, and 5 September 2013 in the UK, as well as worldwide as ebook and audio.

Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.
When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.
But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.
When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again. 
An epic and deeply original sci-fi romance, taking inspiration from Albert Einstein’s theories and the world-bending wonder of true love itself.

Author Bio
Ingrid Jonach writes books for children and young adults, including the chapter books The Frank Frankie and Frankie goes to France published by Pan Macmillan, and When the World was Flat (and we were in love) published by Strange Chemistry.
Since graduating from university with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing (Hons) in 2005, Ingrid has worked as a journalist and in public relations, as well as for the Australian Government.
Ingrid loves to promote reading and writing, and has been a guest speaker at a number of schools and literary festivals across Australia, where she lives with her husband Craig and their pug dog Mooshi.
Despite her best efforts, neither Craig nor Mooshi read fiction.
Find out more at

Giveaway Details

Enter below for your chance to win one of two awesome prize packages as part of the Around the World in 80 Days Blog Tour for When the World was Flat (and we were in love) by Ingrid Jonach. 
There will be two winners worldwide. Each prize package includes:
  • a signed copy of When the World was Flat (and we were in love)
  • a pair of silver plated key-shaped earrings in a When the World was Flat (and we were in love) gift box
  • a When the World was Flat (and we were in love) bookmark.

The competition will run until 21 October 2013 and the winners will be announced on this page and via

Time for Cake & Books

Aug 15, 2013
September has always been my favorite month. It kicks off the beginning of a new school year and as a kid I always looked forward to picking out new school supplies. Labor Day was almost like New Years for me. It was the day I'd put out my back to school outfit, make sure my notebooks and pencils were organized accordingly, and daydream about how perfect the new school year would be.

Though my days of free schooling are over, I always look forward to a slice of birthday cake come September. This year I'm thinking vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles. I'm also thinking that I could use a few more books among other things.


Rump by Liesl Shurtliff

I've been in the mood for fairytales lately and these two have been on my wishlist for some time. 


The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke


Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Need I say more? 


The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I've made it a point to read more adult fiction. Why not start with a Neil Gaiman book.

Of course there are others. I started rereading Harry Potter this week and since I don't own all of the books I would love a box set. Thanks for reading and be sure to tune in at 9 am tomorrow for a special post by Ingrid Jonach author of When the World was Flat (and we were in love). It's another on my wishlist.

A Month of Faves: July, July, July

Jul 17, 2013
Inspired My Writing - A day or two ago I finally sat down and cranked out 1,000 words after weeks of not writing anything. And you know what? It felt pretty darn good.

"How Do You Do Great Things?
You Do Them!"
                            - The Fresh Exchange

One of the most inspiring bloggers shared the above quote recently. And as of now, I'm looking forward to many more new words in August.

The Dress  - I'm a girl who lives in jeans, so I think it's fair to say that my pin-board is the closest I'll ever get to my dream wardrobe. This dress from The Whitepepper caught my eye. I love the way it was styled.

An Oldie but Goodie - We all have those books that we come back to for a dose of inspiration. For me that book has always been Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I've talked about it many times here. On those days when I need a pep talk I always find myself flipping through the pages.

Inspiration for my WiP - Some of us use images to help visualize the scene that we're writing. For me the image below helped sparked the idea for the scene where my main characters first meet.

A Sweet Tune - Music has become such a big part of my daily writing ritual. In the past, listening to music while I wrote was just a big distraction. These days, I love being able to add a new song to my list of favorites. Stubborn Love by The Lumineers is my latest favorite. By the end of the video I'm almost always on the verge of tears.

I thought I'd get a head start on August by sharing a few things that inspired me this month. 

Where There's Blogging There is Writing

Jul 7, 2013
It's a fact, the best way to beat your blogging blues is to start fresh with a new design. While I'll admit it isn't the fanciest look, with my design skills I've learned to take it or leave it. I'd love to say that I spent my time away from blogging writing but where there's blogging there is writing. I think my slump was more writing related. I spent June writing a few hundred words here and there, reading here and there, discovering somewhat new TV shows, and pinning like crazy.

I also attempted to cook for once. Yeah guys, I can't cook for the most part. I attempted a ten minute mac and cheese recipe, but I guess my nerves got in the way because it turned out nothing like the photo. Someday soon I hope to get over my fear of chopping off a finger or being stung by hot oil. For now, I'll be sticking to the basics.

I did, however, become a little less music challenged after discovering Lennon and Maisy Stella--real life singers, sisters, and actresses on the hit TV show Nashville.

Their cover of Ho Hey makes me want to pick up a guitar and sing Ho Hey.

Think Big or Bigger

May 8, 2013
The main reason I love blog contests so much is that they give me the opportunity to take a peek inside the minds of fellow writers. I know a lot of writers aren't comfortable talking about their projects on their blogs, so I tend to feel like a kid on Christmas morning when contests like The Writer's Voice come along.

I'll usually go though every entry and bookmark the ones I like most. I must admit, I sometimes revisit those entries months after the contest has ended for inspiration. So if you notice someone checking out your old posts it's probably me. I'm probably still wondering how in the world you managed to come up with something so awesome in the first place.

A few weeks ago I had a major reality check when an agent politely stated that my concept just wasn't unique enough. All things considered, subjectivity, personal taste and so on, my request rate hasn't been so great--less than 10%. In truth, while my writing has improved over the years, my tastes haven't.

If someone where to ask what do I look for in a good book I'd say voice and character. While that's true, if I were to pick a book off my shelves, though it would be brimming with both voice and character, I'd probably be able to point out something about it that made it different from every other book on my shelf.

One of my favorite books Never Let Me Go is a perfect example of this. In retrospect it's a book about a young woman looking back on her childhood years, her friends, and the school she attended which she considered home. But would her story have been just as interesting to me if she were an average human being--if this school had been St. Margaret's Boarding School and not a home for clones, such as Kathy H.

Probably not.

So lately I've been writing down my ideas, whenever I get a new idea I'll type up a few sentences about it in a Word document and move on. It's definitely helped me see that some ideas that seem really awesome at first probably won't be a week or a month later. I do believe that the best ideas are timeless. There are some stories that I'm still itching to write even after many failed attempts. 

Those are the money beets stories. 


Apr 13, 2013
Good morning everyone!  I haven't done a currently post in a while, so I thought I might as well. They're always fun to write.

This song is pretty old. I'm sure almost everyone has heard it, but since rediscovering it a few weeks ago I've thought about it a lot. I really love the lyrics. Especially when he says "I think I'll go to Boston...I think I'll start a new life, I think I'll start it over, where no one knows my name..."

I think so many can relate to that feeling. It also does spark ideas for a new contemporary YA.

Last week I started reading Splintered by A.G. Howard. It's an Alice in Wonderland retelling, and I'm really looking forward to the later chapters. So far Alyssa has entered the rabbit hole. There's a certain someone I'm looking forward to meeting.

Since The Walking Dead has had its season finale there's no other show competing for my attention come Sunday night. Of course I've been watching Game of Thrones and loving every second of it. I've also been watching a lot of horror movies. The novel I'm working on has elements of horror. The latest one I saw was Sinister. I definitely recommend seeing it.

Thinking About...
I've been thinking about my writing of course. I'm working on two novels right now, one YA and one MG. I haven't written as much as I wanted to, but I think they're coming along nicely.

I would really love to complete a new novel soon. I'm looking forward to writing The End.

I'm wishing that wonderful things are waiting around the corner for all of us.

Making Me Happy...
It's finally spring. The weather has been great for the most part. It really doesn't seem like winter happened at all.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Going Camping in April

Mar 30, 2013
Judging by the title of this post you probably already know what it's about--Camp NaNoWriMo.

Yes, I'm buying repellent and packing my bags for Camp NaNoWriMo in April--the month where dozens of writers sign up to write a novel in a month. This year they're doing things a little differently by allowing us to choose our own word count goal. After some thought, I've decided to give myself a word count goal of 15,000 words. By the end of spring, hopefully, I expect to have a finished novel.

I had plans to finish up a project I'd already started, but you know how that goes. I think I might start calling myself the queen of unfinished novels. I'm actually challenging myself a bit this year. I have about 1,000 words written of two projects that I want to finish.

The first: a complete rewrite of my YA contemporary, which includes another title change, lots more blood, and secrets. So far the rewrite is going well.

The second: an MG novel about a very sad girl named Bryn and the fallen star that comes to her aide. I kind of have an obsession with stars. When I see one I can't help but wish on it.

This year I solemnly swear that I will win NaNoWriMo. Also, I'd like to give a big thanks to everyone who commented on my top ten movies post and my last Thursday's Children post. I've been terrible at responding and visiting other blogs.

Are any of you doing Camp NaNoWriMo this year?

Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest

Mar 18, 2013
Alex J. Cavanaugh is hosting the Top Ten Movie Countdown Blogfest today. We get to list our top ten favorite movies.

My top ten movies:

1. An Education: I've seen this movie way too many times. It's a coming of age film that takes place in the 1960s. It's about a young girl named Jenny who becomes enamored with an older man and gets caught up in his "glamorous" lifestyle. I love it because it's the kind of story I'd love to tell.

2. Never Let Me Go: I read the book before seeing the movie and both took my breath away. It helped that three of my favorite actors starred in the film, Andrew, Carey, and Keira. If you haven't heard of it, it's from the point of view of a girl named Kathy H. Kathy isn't like other girls because she is a clone and so are the other children at her school and later the cottages. Kathy only exists for one reason: to donate her organs and then complete. It's a wonderful film.

3. The Awakening: It's one of the best horror movies I've seen in a long time. It's so good I'm afraid I won't be able to explain it well. I'll give it a go anyway. A woman who doesn't believe in ghosts is invited to a boys boarding school that is supposedly haunted. While on her mission to prove that the school isn't haunted,  she begins to recall some astonishing truths about herself and one of the students there. There's a romance. It takes place in England in the 1920s. Fans of The Others will love it.

4. My Neighbor Totoro: One of the best animated movies I've seen hands down. It's on the quieter side with is why I love it. It explores two of my favorite themes, family and love.

5. Spirited Away: Spirited Away is one of the reasons I love Animes. It's a movie filled with magic and love. It doesn't get any better than that.

6. Alice in Wonderland (2010): You guys are already familiar with this story line I bet. I will never get tired of it. Johnny Depp is phenomenal in his role as the Mad Hatter. Off with their heads.

7. 500 Days of Summer:  Okay so I'm not the biggest romantic comedy fan but this one is so good. It's not so typical. Yes, boy meets girl. Boy loves girl, except girl doesn't love boy so much. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the main character and he's always nice to look at.

8. My Girl: I couldn't finish this list without including my favorite childhood movies. My Girl is my favorite childhood movie. It's another coming of age. It's probably the first movie that made me cry. It's a great movie to watch if you're writing for children even though it is older. The subject matter is always very timely.

9. Edward Scissorhands: This is the reason why Johnny Depp is one of my favorite actors. You can't get any better than this. Thinking about this movie really makes me miss my childhood.

10. Beetlejuice: I will always love Beetlejuice and the Banana Boat Song.

Thanks for hosting, Alex. And thanks for stopping by.