Fangirl

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FANGIRL is my third Rainbow Rowell book and so maybe my love of ELEANOR AND PARK and KINDRED SPIRITS should have been the clue that reading more of Rainbow’s stuff was a good idea. But if I’m being honest, I had this fear that I’d be let down. It happens sometimes. You build an author up in your head and then fall that much harder when they fail to meet such high expectations. Maybe ELANOR AND PARK was a fluke and when I read FANGIRL or any other book by Rainbow, I’d be disappointed. I couldn’t face being such a low after I’d fallen so hard for the other two books.

I wasn’t disappointed.

There are so many reasons to love FANGIRL. So many reasons to run screaming through the streets, praising this book. Beyond whatever I can say, what I love about this book is the way it stirs my heart and warms my soul. It’s like drinking a cup of something I didn’t know I was missing.

Cather is a Simon Snow fan. She’s also one of the most popular writers of Fanfiction online. Being a fan has been Cath’s whole life. It’s the one thing she’s really good at. She and her twin sister Wren have drifted apart. College has brought on some new challenges. Cath is on her own for the first time and far out of her comfort zone. Her English professor believes that fanfiction is the equivalent of plagiarism. Her roommate is moody with a charming boyfriend who is always around. Oh and the boy at the library who only wants to use her words. Does moving on mean she has to give up Simon too?

This was beautifully written. I’m liquid and in love. Watch me pretend like I wasn’t a big fan before… because yea, it’s official, I love Rainbow Rowell. Hard. I love her books so hard I want to force them down my friend’s throats until they have to like her too. That’s not weird is it?

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Bird By Bird

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By Anne Lamott

I read this book years ago after finding it on the back of the bathroom toilet. My roommate had left it there and so admittedly my first go around with Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD was that copy. It’s been six or seven years since I’ve read it but I can say it was just as good the second time as it was the first time around.

Anne Lamott talks about more than just writing in her book, she hits on all the reasons that people want to write. She talks about how life imitates art. About collecting nuts, as my friend Hazel says, from our life experiences and using it in our writing thus making us better storytellers.

Anne hits on a number of topics that new writers want to hear about, from publishing, agents, writer’s block, storytelling, and getting your first bad review. BIRD BY BIRD is a tell all no-holds bar look into one writer’s life. She shares her own experiences so that you might better from them.

If you have a few hours to spare, I’d recommend picking this one up and adding it your collection. It’s filled with timeless information and funny tidbits on writing. Much enjoyed.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print

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I’ve been on a bit of an editing kick after finishing the first draft of my second novel, MONA. I’ve read everything I can get my hands on. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print  by Browne and King has been one of the best finds of this year! I would highly recommend this book to every person who has written or wants to write a book. It is written in a way that keeps you interested, engaged, and learning all the while.

Even though I felt like I knew most of these rules, for lack of a better word, it was helpful to have them laid out in such a way. I attended the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference this past May and one of the courses I took was based on this book. It’s taken me this long to get around to reading it, but I’m thankful I did. It’s chock full of examples, mini-exercises, and do’s and don’ts of editing your own stuff.

A must read for every writer!

 

Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies

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By Kojo Steven Sakai Performed by Lauren Ezzo / Performed by Lauren Ezzo

I was scanning through Twitter like one does and came across an author friend of mine who said her book was up on Audiobook Boom! only I’d never heard of it till that moment. So of course being the book nerd that I am, I had to see what she was talking about.  I was surprised to see Audiobook Boom! was giving away free audio books to anyone who would simply write a review. I thought, why the hell not. I read them like candy anyways, so I might as well do one for an author who’s looking to move forward a bit. So in exchange for a free copy of the audio book, I’m writing this brutally honest review. And so without further ado, I present to you Romeo & Juliet vs. Zombies.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked ROMEO & JULIET VS. ZOMBIES as my book. I’d never heard of the author or the book before but I’m usually willing to give everything a go at least once. This was not what I’d expected at all. It wasn’t like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies which is sort of what I was expecting. Instead, it was a gender bent retelling. I enjoyed most of it for this reason alone. Romeo’s nickname was Princess and Juliet was a warrior. I loved the priest who secretly hated everyone and was trying to bring destruction instead of  peace.

That all being said, and keeping in mind I know nothing of this author, it felt like a debut book. There were times when the writing was a bit sloppy and the adverbs made me cringe. On a whole, I feel like the unique story made up for this. I can’t help but feel it would be a stronger book with maybe one more edit from fresh eyes. Someone who can cut out the telling and transform it to showing. On a whole though, it wasn’t half bad and I think I picked a decent title for my first Audiobook Boom! title. In the end, if you’re a fan of Shakespeare or Romeo and Juliet, I’d say give this a try. Zombies only ever spice things up a bit!

The Positives & Negatives Of This Week

November has been tough on all of us. I don’t know there’s a single person, I know, who wouldn’t agree with this statement. As many of you know, I’m a substitute teacher. I subbed in a 6th-grade science class the morning after the election and was disheartened to break up a fight between two boys.

The first boy came into the classroom cheering “Trump! Trump! Trump!” He turned and looked at a Hispanic boy and said, “Finally my president is going to deport your ass.” Before I could even respond the other boy stands up and says, “Maybe, but your president will nuke this planet and then you’ll die.” Yay for middle school…. not.

If you’re wondering, yes, I put a stop to the negativity and made it clear that any more talk would result in a swift punishment with the principle. I absolutely have no tolerance for bigotry or hatred of any kind. More than that, it broke my heart that I had to have this conversation with 10 & 11-year-olds.

At this point, what’s done is done. Whoever you voted for, supported, happy or sad over – it’s done. However, what matters now is bridging this divide and setting an example for the younger generations. I know that these kids are only mimicking what they see at home, but it doesn’t make it okay.

I didn’t start this blog with the intentions of being political at all. I’ve managed to hold my tongue and stay off of social media. But I guess it comes out eventually. Life goes on. We still have to wake up every day and go to work, feed our families, pay our bills, and for me, I still have to write.

So in addition to this small bit of political word vomit, I wanted to share with you a short blog post I wrote for my writer’s group. I hope you enjoy it. If you feel like checking out some of the other writer’s posts, I encourage you to look us up here.

BETA READERS

By Miranda Boyer

Yesterday I finished the first round of edits on my new manuscript:

MOTHER NATURE MoNa.

beta-readers-wantedI’m over the moon about this but what’s next is always the terrifying part to me… beta readers. Putting my life into someone else’s hands. After all, a book is hours of my life that I can hold in the palm of my hands. Someone I know said that once and It’s stuck with me ever since. I’m putting my work into the palm of a stranger and waiting for them to judge me fit or send me back to start again.beta-reader-superhero

It’s terrifying.

But also, it’s the only way. The only way to learn, to grow, to give my story a voice of its own. To let it breathe life and take flight. It can never be anything more if I don’t actually put it out into the world with a little bit of trust. A bit of faith that it will come back none the weaker, instead, stronger for having more eyes look upon it.

In my experience, this is the part of the writer’s journey that is skimped on. Fear takes hold and prevents the writer from the ability to grow and learn from others. To take criticism and turn the ordinary into extraordinary. The fear that their single edit wasn’t perfect. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t. In fact, you need five or six or twenty more edits imagesbefore it’s perfect. Even then, you could probably go one more time. The reality is that you will never grow as a writer if you don’t put your book out there for others. I’m not talking about self-publishing. That’s a fine choice for some, but it doesn’t negate the fact you still need beta readers first.

So here I am. Waiting to be judged. Waiting to be told that it’s not good enough, hoping to be told it was funny, witty, emotional, anything other than my biggest fear – that I might not be cut out for this game. In the back of my mind, that little voice warns me not to even feed those fears. Because no good can come of keep-calm-and-start-revisingit. So instead, I’ll wait. With hope in my heart. I will push on and start something new. Distraction is good and I have many stories to tell.

 

 

North Sound Writers

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So I’ve been cheating on my blog with another blog… I know it’s a complicated and you might be wondering when will I even find time?!  But I am super excited about it and I wanted to share it with my devoted followers.

My writer’s group has been going through some big changes recently and one of them is officially parting from a different writing group and forming their own. It’s big, and it’s scary but more than that, it’s exciting. North Sound Writers is the official new writers group. We are open to anyone who considers themselves to live in the North Sound. It’s a wide area and we’re hoping that by opening our arms to anyone who wants to write, were able to grow our community and help more people accomplish their end goal – publication. We’re open to all ages and genres of writing. Even if you can’t make our monthly meetings or our co-writes on Thursdays, we encourage new authors and we’re excited to have you.

We have a couple of goals in mind with this new group, one of them is to manage a blog that produces new articles daily from North Sound voices. An article can be about nearly anything as long as it somehow ties back to writing. We’re open to short stories and poetry as well. My first article went up yesterday. I thought if any of you wanted to read it, I’d link it here for you. It’s called Actually Writing, is Half the Battle. As of right now, I’ve agreed to write one a week. I will do my best to overlap them here, keep up on my reading, and editing, and writing, oh and teaching. Cause several days I a week I do that as well!

The other big thing we’re doing is planning a writer’s conference for 2018. It’s still very much in the works, but we’re learning new stuff daily. I’ve been in contact with folks who put on the Las Vagas Writer’s Conference and taking notes feverishly.

North Sound aside, I’ve been furiously working on MoNa. I’m hoping to have the first round of edits done by the end of the month so that I can get her out to Beta readers. I have the next book (something completely new) all planned out in my head, lots of notes written by my writing partner and an outline nearly finished. I can’t wait to start writing 2k every day again. But for now, I am taking pleasure in making the ordinary extraordinary.  Yesterday I was on a roll, cracking myself up — I only hope that flows over to the reader.

Wish me luck! I’ll do my best to keep y’all abreast of the new information.

Cheers!

Stephen King is My Writer Hero

I melt in the sun. I am a puddle of goo with no brain. My synapses won’t fire and the whole day goes by without me having accomplished a single thing. I’ve pulled out a fan, I’m cracking a red bull, and I’m damned determined to not let this heat beat me into submission. Although submission is looking more appealing with every passing moment.

Last month my writing critique partner and I decided to push ourselves by really focusing on submissions. We had a bet going, whoever got the most rejections in the month of July would hold bragging rights, and had to buy the first round of drinks on the wine train adventure we have planed for when one or both of our books sell.

It wasn’t about the rejections so much as it was about the act of putting ourselves out there. If you never submit to agents or publishers, then you never have a chance at getting a yes. 10 submissions will never cut it. Add a zero and double that number. If there was one thing that stuck with me from conferences this past year it’s this: Its a NO game, not a YES game. Agents and publishers get hundreds of submissions a month. They aren’t looking for reasons to say yes to your work. They are looking for reasons to say no. So not only does it mean that you’ve got to REALLY put yourself out there, but you can’t be afraid to edit and grow along the way.

So drum roll please….. We tied!

For the month of August and September we have embarked on a whole new challenge. Keep in mind that we both have relatively young scripts we’re working on. We’re both fans of some fairly accomplished authors. And while keeping up with those who’ve been in the industry since before my birth is probably foolish, we have spunk. So we’ve committed to writing 2,000 words of pros every day. Crazy right?!

Here’s the real crazy thing. We’ve been doing this, an average of 6 days a week each, and guess what?! Our script length has more then doubled, the story is flowing without struggle, I feel more accomplished, and fucking damn proud of myself. The thing is, there were weeks where I’d be lucky to pull in 2000 words, and now I’m writing at least 12,000 a week. The best part? It doesn’t feel like crap. It feels good. Plus, even if it is crap, that’s what the editing process is for.

Historically I’m an edit as I write author. Which has it’s benefits and drawback. The biggest draw back is that I’ll spend entire days editing and never move forward on the manuscript. If it’s never finished, then what’s the point? So I’m pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone and trying something new. Something, so far, I can’t complain about.

Besides, if it works for Stephen King, why can’t it work for me? Clearly he’s learned a thing or two, and I’m not afraid to try and follow in his foot steps. Besides, if it works, I’ll have my rough draft done by the first of September! Pretty cool if you ask me.

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Alejandro, Alejandro, Ale-ale-jandro

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Anyone who knows me well, can testify that I am endlessly amused by the little things in life. I was working on a query for THE 5 6 RULES TO SURVIVING AN ALIEN ATTACK ON MY SIX YEAR OLD SELF (new title is pretty amazing right?!) When I got a text message. “Alejandro” was all it read. Of course my brain goes to Lady Ga Ga (Yep, I hope it’s stuck in your head too, as I can’t get it out of mine now).

Well the photo above ensued, as well as two short calls, and a little more messaging. With any luck, this good sport will be reading my blog soon enough. I know what you’re thinking, grabbing new readers any chance you can eh? Yes. Yes I do. Besides, he messaged me first.

So speaking of, how are those queries going you ask? Well they are coming along grand I say. I had two more partial requests this week. We’re crossing fingers over here at camp writes-a-lot. I’d be curious to take a survey of writers who use music to write with. I wrote The 6 Rules primarily with non-lyrical music. Anything from classical, to Pop via Piano Guys or Vitamin String Quartet, Latin specifically good Salsa, Dubstep like Skrillex. Crazy right? Well with MoNa I feel like I suddenly crave lyrical music. It’s the oddest experience. Anyone else out there find themselves stuck in musical limbo?

For The Love Of Macs

So I got a new computer over the weekend. I went in anticipating buying the older 2012 Macbook Pro and upgrading some of the features. Dropping $1800 on the retna 13.3 inch Macbook Pro was just a bit out of price range. Until I walked into best buy and found a perfect condition (minus a couple of EXTREMELY light scratches on the shell) open box for only $1300 of the exact dream computer that was out of grip. WHAT?! Fate? I think so.

So the last two days I’ve been transferring information and setting up all my applications, installing all my software and getting used to some of the new features that differ from my old 2010 model. So far, I have nothing but good things to say about it. I’ve been in love with Mac computers since I was in the fourth grade. My school received a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant, and (ironically enough) spent the money on a new computer lab filled with Macs. This was back in the early 90s and let me just say, it was love at first sight.

Computer lab day was every Wednesday after lunch and before reading (my other favorite part of school… are you surprised? Yea… didn’t think so). I’d sit at computer number 7, because that was my lucky number. I’d run my fingers over the keyboard and dream that some day I’d learn to type fanciful stories, clicking it’s keys until the whole page filled with words. I’m fairly confident that my love a good clicky keyboard was born in this room.

My longing would temporarily ease when I’d get to pick between Oregon Trail or Kid Pix. Sometimes the choice would be too much and 30 minutes would go by way too quickly, but I’d usually die of dysentery with just enough time to spell my name out with primary and neon colored blobs. Once in a while, I’d open a document and just press keys. I’d type out my name or something to the effect of, “Miranda is the best.” Slowly I’d fall into a rhythmic pattern clicking the keys, pressing enter at the end of each line, and filing the page letter after letter.

In some ways, my love for writing was born of daydreams at the hands of a Mac. In the back of my mind, as the years passed, I always associated owning one with making my dreams come true. It might sound stupid, but it is what it is. I know logically that I’ve known I wanted to be a writer, for an entire year more then I knew I loved Macs. Even more, that I wrote for years on a PC before owning one of my own.

But still. In my mind they will forever be intertwined.

And I’m okay with that.

 

Sex Criminals & Scott Pilgrim

 

I’m not really a comic book person. At the end of the day, there just are not enough words. I want more out of the story than I feel a comic or a graphic novel can provide me. My sister, Mel, however is an avid comic book nerd. She can school just about any dude we’ve encountered on the ins and outs of just about every superhero not to mention the hundreds of non-superhero comics available. Maybe not so ironically, she’s not a big reader.

Like a drug dealer, I push books on everyone I meet. I’m always recommending this book or that one, depending on the person’s tastes. It helps that I’ll read just about anything under the sun. I’m always trying to get Mel to read something new. Testing the waters with a new title as often as I catch her in the same room long enough. In recent years she’s tried to turn me to comics.

I’ve read a small handful of what she considers to be the best of the best. It pisses her off that I don’t even agree with her half the time, but once in a while she catches my attention with something new and fun.

Enter: comiXology

I downloaded this new app onto my tablet called comiXology. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s an app to read comics and graphic novels from. You can buy digital versions of basically anything and application has painted software that moves through each panel smoothly. They also have a free trial of their monthly subscription service where you can read a number of their “unlimited” titles. Now, I could give a rats ass if you choose to subscribe to them, I’m just telling you how I’m reading these titles. As someone who doesn’t really want to invest in graphic novels that I probably won’t like, $5.99 a month is a steal. That being said…

I decided to use my free trial to peruse some new titles. I left several after a few pages because blah. Either the story wasn’t catching me or the pictures weren’t. But then I came across Scott Pilgrim. Like most of the world, I’d heard of Scott Pilgrim, but unlike most of the world, I’d never read it. So why the heck not.

It was very catchy. I was surprised in a good way that the story moved with ease and mostly that I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Side note: I’ve also never watched the movie. But after reading the first graphic novel, I’m set on reading another and finding the movie.

Okay so one point Mel. Who knew that I’d find something I’d like all on my own.

So I’m pursuing the titles again and I come across: Sex Criminals. We both know that title caught your attention too, let’s not pretend it didn’t. The clincher was that Pat Rothfuss and Wil Wheaton both loved this book too when I looked it up. How could I go wrong?

I was not disappointed! Best Graphic Novel I’ve read probably ever. Not that I’ve read that many, but still. It had a crazy amazing story, the art was beautiful, and at the end of the day I just really enjoyed it. Providing that reading about two people who have the ability to stop time by having sex doesn’t bother you, than I’d highly recommend checking this book out!

Secret? I’d probably even buy the whole set to own in book format. Shocking I know. 2 points Mel. Now, if I can only find something that will grab her attention long enough to even the score.