Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Resolutions for 2015

The Broke and the Bookish host a weekly meme of Top Ten Lists.

This week's question is:

Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015 -- bookish, blogging or otherwise!

Write more consistent blog posts: I have not been very good at writing in the past couple of months because of NaNoWriMo, work, and just normal life stuff. But I love blogging and interacting with the blog community and I am making a resolution to write more consistent blog posts.

Finish one of my W.I.P. books: I started two books this year and I want to finish at least one (if not both).

Read in genres I don't normally read: This includes historical fiction, horror, and thrillers.

Write more review posts: I love the blogging memes (like Top Ten, Waiting on Wednesday, and Feature Friday) but I also love the original posts I write. The main ones are reviews. I'm thinking of reviewing other things (like TV Shows, or K-Dramas, or movies. What do you guys think?)

Get a new apartment so I have space for more books: Seriously, getting a new apartment will largely be based on storage space for my millions of books. I moved recently and I did not realize that half of my worldly possessions were just books, they were super heavy and hard to pack up #worthit

Take the next step with my writing: I am lucky enough to have met awesome people with great advice on how to get work published, but I think that it's time that I just put myself out there and just see if I can get anything published.

Be More Active: A lot of my favorite activities involve sitting (reading, writing). So I think I should make a bigger effort to be active. I bought a Jawbone UP and I kind of love it, but I also hate it because it tells me how unhealthy I am. Whomp whomp.

Travel more: I was super lucky to go to New Zealand this year (and I got to see Hobbiton!) And I want to travel even more in 2015.

Play More Music: Music is seriously super calming and therapeutic. And I used to play a lot of instruments. At this point I'm probably only confident in playing piano, but I think that if I took time to just sit down and play every once in a while it would make me happier.

Learn another language: I kiiiind of know the beginnings of a couple of other languages, but I never put enough effort into really learning one, so this year I am going to. (This might help my traveling resolution).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Musings: Why we should be a little more grateful for Midlist Authors

You ever think about the authors who are writing the books you read? 

Not like the big-list J.K Rowlings and Suzanne Collinses. But the books that you discovered after clicking on the "recommendations" tabs a few times on Amazon. Or the random "Barnes and Noble Employees suggestion" shelves. 

I like thinking about them. But maybe that's because I want to be them one day. As an avid reader who is also an avid writer, I often think about the day that I might have one of my books sold alongside my favorite authors. However, I am also a realist. I know that not every book is a Hunger Games or a Harry Potter.

Last year, Wendy Higgins, a paranormal YA author, wrote a post about the myth that authors are rich. (Disclaimer: her original post about this was a little controversial. Another Disclaimer: this post is more for budding authors, but it could be interesting for readers to get to know the industry that publishes our beloved books). The biggest message here: some authors do not sell enough books to survive on that income alone. So sometimes when we expect lots of freebies from them, they have to say "no." And it is as hard for them to say "no" as it is for us to hear it. That made me super sad inside because I hate the idea that they have to look like a bad guy when it's not their fault at all.

There is a bit of good news for current midlist authors. There is a grant from SCBWI:
Critically acclaimed children’s book author Jane Yolen created this grant to honor the contribution of mid-list authors. The grant awards $3,000 to mid-list authors and aims to help raise awareness about their current works in progress. Jane was the first SCBWI Regional Advisor and currently sits on the SCBWI Board of Advisors.
Recently, Natalie Whipple (a Fantasy YA author) wrote about "Life on the Midlist."

I found her post both inspiring and terrifying. Inspiring because she loves writing despite the hardships, not because of the rewards. And terrifying because this is legitimately what I would want to do with my life (write) and I don't know where that dream might take me.
"When it comes down to it, no, I don't think I get as much from writing as I put into it. Yet I want to keep writing and I can't imagine doing anything else."
But this blog, while about writing, is also about reading. And Mrs. Whipple really did give me some food for thought as a reader. I really love that authors like her are still writing, because if it were only blockbusters then there is no way that there would be enough books to fill my shelves. 

I asked my Cousin Axie, who writes Books Are Bread, what her thoughts were on how she chooses her books. She wrote back with an essay (j/k, I love you Axie!)
"As a reader, I'm not usually influenced by national lists or national awards, except for the Hugo & Nebula, and sometimes the Newbury. But that's because I don't read as widely in those genres (Adult SFF & Juvenile Literature). As for YA, I mostly read according to genre & comparative titles, like if a book is Fantasy & compared with Laini Taylor, I'll be more interested in reading it. And as for The New York Times, I understand it's influence over how much exposure a book has (if it reaches top 100 on NYT, it will be placed in bookstores nation-wide & also chain stores like Target & Costco), but I don't believe I'm as influenced. Disclaimer: I am avid reader (and book blogger), so I actively look for books that might appeal to me, which are usually not commercial--my tastes run towards Fantasy & Romance with literary sensibilities. Think Melina Marchetta, Juliet Marillier & Franny Billingsley. Are these authors midlist? I'm not sure. Do I want them to place on the NYT? Absolutely. Not because I think the NYT is telling of "quality", but it definitely adds to "quantity" sold, and without quantity, there's a chance these quality writers won't be able to afford writing as their career (not specifically the authors I named, but midlist authors in general)."
I think I have read just as many midlist author books as well-known author books. So I owe a lot of my happy time to these authors who create these wonderful worlds for me to fall into.

One of the great things is that these authors are often on social media! So I think we should get on our blogs and Twitter and Instagrams and give a big old shout out to these awesome writers who shared their stories with us. Not only because some of us want to be them some day, but also because they have shared something awesome with us. And that's worth a thanks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors in 2014

The Broke and the Bookish host a weekly meme of Top Ten Lists.

This week's question is:

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

These authors didn't all debut or release their books in 2014, but they were new to me when I read them this year.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...
Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has been told that is her name. She has just awoken from a coma, they tell her, and she is still recovering from a terrible accident in which she was involved a year ago. But what happened before that? Jenna doesn't remember her life. Or does she? And are the memories really hers?

Bremy St James, daughter of billionaire Atticus St James, has been cut off from the family fortune and is struggling to survive in a world that no longer holds its breath every time she buys a new outfit. To make matters worse, her twin sister is keeping secrets, loan sharks are circling, and the man of her dreams — a newspaper reporter — is on assignment to bring down everyone with the last name St James.
Things are certainly looking bleak for the down-and-out socialite until a good deed throws her into the path of the city’s top crime-fighter, Dark Ryder. Suddenly, Bremy has a new goal: apprentice to a superhero, and start her own crime-fighting career.
Ryder has no need for a sidekick, but it turns out the city needs Bremy’s help. Atticus St James is planning the crime of the century, and Bremy may be the only one able to get close enough to her father to stop him.
Now all she needs to do is figure out this superhero thing in less than a month, keep her identity secret from the man who could very well be The One, and save the city from total annihilation.
Well, no one ever said being a superhero would be easy...

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.'

Greetings, Puny Humans:
In your hands, you are holding a tome of staggeringly evil genius. It is not for the faint of heart or for the whining masses. It is for those willing to serve as my devoted minions while I plan my greatest feat yet: surviving life as a human boy and returning to my rightful place as the ruler of the Dark Lands. Before I can exact my revenge, I must infiltrate this world and learn its ways.
How, you might ask, is it possible that I, the Dark Lord, the Master of the Legions of Dread and Sorcerer Supreme, could be reduced to human form? And how is it possible that the Lord of darkness could be forced to attend school and befriend such pitiful life forms?
Only by reading my tale will you learn the truth behind the cataclysmic defeat that left me stranded on this accursed planet, Earth. But make no mistake, revenge will be mine... as soon as I finish my homework. Mwah, hah, ha!
Yours insincerely,Dirk Lloyd(aka the Dark Lord)

It all starts with a school essay.
When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?
In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.
Fully illustrated with “photos,” drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent. the planet from a really big catastrophe.

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?
Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Musings: NaNoWriMo Victory is Mine!


Birds are singing! Bells are ringing! NaNoWriMo victory is MINE!

You guys, I cannot tell you what it feels like when you have accomplished something that seemed so ridiculously difficult. It's like when people run a marathon, except no running and no physical exertion, just a lot of mental instability coupled with the thought that I am the worst writer who has ever been born on this planet and how-can-I-ever-finish-this-book-NaNoWriMo-was-invented-just-to-make-me-feel-bad-about-myself!

Aaaanyway, I did it. I finished writing 50,000 words. Full disclaimer. They're not all for the same book. Another disclaimer, they're all crap. HOWEVER, I still finished. And it feels awesome. You guys, I would recommend doing this for any writer (and yes, we are all writers. If you've written something that you love then you are a writer). Even if the book you work on is not something you want to publish. It's great, the community is great, the inspiration is great, the feeling at the end of the rainbow is great. I would tell people to make their own personal NaNo and just make a goal for yourself. And track yourself. And post about it on your blog if you have one. I promise that if you link it in the comments of this post, you will have at least one reader following along with you (that's me if that message wasn't clear).

That is all. You can now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

(Also, Happy December! Time for Holiday decorations!)