In my bowl, I like adding a teaspoon of destruction, a dollop of magical elements, a sprinkle of made-up words, a scoop of comedic relief, and a heaping of plot twist. Stir it all up, and that’s my perfect meal. I’ve been binging on these types of books for a while now, so I’m going to go back to ones I’ve read a little while ago that have made an impact on my life. Newer books will be shared as well, considering that authors/publishing companies make more new recipes than I have time to try. Of course, I only sample the books that are more to my liking. Get ready for some YA that will make your taste buds explode!
Cait and Sky have this awesome link up called “Beautiful Books” where NaNoWriMo participants get to dish about their Nano projects. And I wanted to do this before Nano completely overwhelmed me and I drowned in words and paper. (This is my first time participating in Nano. I’m clearly nervous.) So, without further ado, time to answer some questions about my writing.
- What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
Disclaimer: I have already begun this book and I’m about 30K in, so this idea has already sprung to life.I originally got the idea in early January. And my boyfriend is the one who brought it to light. Here’s how it went down:
ME: The show* is coming on tomorrow! The one I’ve been telling you about!
BOYFRIEND: Oh, right…Stormcatchers?
ME: Umm. No…But that sounds like a good title for a book. I don’t know what it would be about, but I like it.
*That show was actually Shadowhunters.
- Describe what your novel is about!
I think my book would qualify as magical realism. After her mother’s death, Liya moves with her father to Florida into her grandmother’s house. And as she transitions into this new life, she also (unexpectedly for her) must transition into the life of a Stormcatcher, which she just learned about.
- What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
WEATHER & FOOD. But mostly weather.
- Introduce us to each of your characters!
Since I already started, I’ve got tooooo many characters to introduce. So I’ll stick with three.
Liya: My MC and your narrator. She’s got a lot to deal with, but you better believe she’s relatable. She cries and shouts and doubts herself, but she won’t just lie down and quit. She’s making the most of what’s going on around her.
Abuela: This is Liya’s grandmother, actually named Rosa. She is sweet and spunky. And she provides the food I mentioned before.
Chase: This is my humorous sidekick. He’s fun and sweet and handsome and good-spirited and optimistic and everything. I love him.
- How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
LOL. I’m a terrible preparer. I’m a pantster. I always have chocolate on hand, but I wish for cupcakes/cake, which I’d try to avoid eating since I’m trying to be healthier and not get scurvy*. I kind of do a mental outline because I know about my main conflict, but how I get there is up to my characters. And research usually just happens during the writing process.
*Too much Outlander/Poldark making me think I should’ve gotten scurvy a decade ago.
- What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
Finally getting to my main conflict. So far I’ve basically written what I consider the equivalent of a TV series pilot episode. I introduced the characters and the Stormcatcher world. Also, everything that Chase says. Because I love him. I seriously cannot wait for what comes out of his mouth. And, as Cait put it in her post: FINISHING. “Author” is a career goal, but I need the book to be done first before that can happen. It’s time to make that happen!
- List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Hot. Humid. Rainy. That’s Florida for you.
- What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
Happiness. My character truly wants to be happy, and she wants to make her family proud at the same time that she finds her happiness, which also means getting the Stormcatcher life down. Mostly, she stands in her own way, because she’s got some powerful feelings that bring her down.
- How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
She will definitely learn to be stronger and more in command of her feelings. And hopefully more changes, but my pantster self isn’t sure what else yet.
- What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
Finding your self; love in family and friends; internal strength. I want readers to come away with this feeling that they aren’t alone with their chaotic emotions, and that everyone has bad days. You just have to know that something better will come of it. And I want readers to feel happy, to know they are stronger than they seem.
As you may have noticed—or not, that’s fine—I’ve basically been in the midst of an unofficial book blogging hiatus. I mean, like, WHERE DID I GO?
I will tell you exactly where I went! I’ve been in limbo. I’m 23 and transitioning into adult life. (Adulting=blegh…usually.) “But didn’t you already have a job?” you ask. Yep. I was* subbing, but that meant the work day ended at 4pm and work days were sporadic, averaging 3 times a week. Now, I have a full-time job. 9-5 days, though usually longer. (Also, no official lunch break, because I work from home. I basically run to the kitchen to put something in the microwave, run back to my laptop, run back to the kitchen when I hear the beep, beep, beep of the microwave, and run back again to my laptop, eating while working.**) Lots of people (my parents *cough cough*) think that because I work from home, I’m free to do as I please, like go out for lunch or get a haircut or do nothing. Am I even working? Yes, I am working. And just like a commuter job, you wouldn’t ask that person to take off to pick up your great-uncle Walter from the airport (that hasn’t actually happened, nor do I have a great-uncle Walter, but you get my point).
*”was” being the keyword.
**Don’t get me wrong! I’m not complaining! I actually like that I’m getting that hour paid, I just wanted to paint the picture that my working day is literally comprised of those hours.
Sorry. Ranting. Back to the point. After work, there’s other stuff. Reading*, writing, different freelancing work, chores, etc. SO MAJOR PROPS TO BLOGGERS WITH FULL PLATES. Seriously, teach me your ways. I just can’t seem to find the time. I love blogging, it’s fun for me. But that’s where my problem is. It’s something for fun, so I put other pressing things first. Like showering and eating. I know, I’m a monster, right?
*You know, for writing research? Okay, I’m trying to make sure I hit my Goodreads challenge. And catch up with the publishing world
Unfortunately, this post is not leading up to me coming out of hiding. On the contrary, I’m here to say that the hiatus continues.
I signed up for a 6-week Hans Christian Anderson course and I’m doing NanoWriMo. So, that doesn’t leave me with quite enough time for blogging. Luckily, I’m a Nano cheat because I technically don’t need to write 50K. I’m just aiming for 30K to wrap up my current WIP. BUT I’m what you’d call a pantster, not a plotter, so that’s not as easy as it seems! We’ll see how that goes. And on top of all of that, I’m going to Yallfest again this year *cue screams of excitement* and the Miami Book Fair. But, let’s be honest, I will not be writing for Nano those weekends.
Did I forget to breathe while writing all that? It appears so. As you can see, I’m overwhelmed as it is, and I really need to lighten the load I’m carrying. I’m thinking I might peek in a couple of times during the midst of Nano, especially to let you know about the book festivals. (Just don’t hold me to that, because who knows with me.)
I’m going to aim for the hiatus to be over come December, but worst case being the new year.
I do want to get back to blogging, so it will happen again! This is NOT goodbye, just see you later.
I just had this sudden surge in my heart in which I absolutely missed posting on my blog. Life has been crazy, amid all the (constant) quarter-life crises, but feeling more manageable as of late. So—hopefully to get me back into the sing of posting again—I thought I’d share my TBR. With a little twist: broken down into categories.
I probably won’t get to all of these, but I’ll do my best!
Current read, but have a long way to go:
Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
I’m almost halfway through, but this book is a heavy read and requires lots of breaks.
Continuing a series:
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
The length is really daunting. But in light of Empire of Storms being released VERY SOON, I think it’s time to catch up. Don’t you?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I’ve renewed this book like three times already. It’s too monstrous for even the YA Book Monster to handle! But, really, it is a little nerve wracking to begin.
I’m going to stop here because—who am I kidding?—I won’t be able to read more than these. I’ve somehow managed to need to read books that are bigger than my head. Wish me luck! What’s on your TBR?
First off: Happy birthday, Harry Potter!
As you all know, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released today at midnight. In honor of this momentous occasion,
I attended my library’s launch party. And I decided last minute that I would live tweet. It was glorious and packed and more than met my expectations. Here are some snapshots from my Twitter feed:
There was a lot going on. I didn’t even get to participate in everything because I was so busy or the lines were too long. I couldn’t document it all, but I will not soon forget the candles that hung from the ceiling, the Goblet of Fire at the entrance, or the magical feeling of coming together with a bunch of Potterheads.
I started reading when I got home and almost finished in the one sitting. But, to spare my sleeping schedule, I had to finish the rest tonight. Which I did! I’m super lucky the “Goblet of Fire” picked my name (along with 299 others) to check out a copy from the library that night. SO MUCH NOSTALGIA. MY HEART ❤️. It was adorable. If you’re part of the Harry Potter Fandom, I’d get a copy in your hands ASAP before any spoilers leak.
Welcome, one and all, to this week’s Writing Wednesday! This is going to be a very brief post compared to last week.
Speaking of last week, do you remember how my character, Ryder, took over, which led me to writer’s block? (In case you don’t/didn’t see it, Ryder told me to come up with some major back story to the magic in the form of legends.) WELL, I managed to come up with a pretty darn good legend, if I do say so myself. I’m so proud of my brain for coming up with it. I had trouble coming up with something, so I LITERALLY just started writing “Once upon a time…” and let the words flow. I do so well when I don’t plan things! Care for a quick sneak peek from the WIP?
Once upon a time, there had been another world—Ripple. It was earth, but it wasn’t the earth we know it as, not yet anyway. There were no plants, animals, or humans, just weather.
Writer’s block cured with some fun, yet completely relevant, free writing.
On another note, the rejections are still gradually rolling in. (This brings my total rejections to date to 9.) I didn’t send my queries out all on the same day, so I should be hearing back from people for another month. I had researched agents, tried to write my first sentence specifically for them, and then sent a letter. Researched, rewrote, sent. That was the cycle. But today’s rejection was different, more positive. The agent said I should query again with another MS if the current one doesn’t work out. 😀 So I’m going to float on that encouragement through the process. Still a rejection, but better than the others so far.
That’s all for this week. Happy reading/writing to you, and hopefully I’ll be back to blather about writing life next week!
HAPPY WRITING WEDNESDAY! (Clearly, I’m excited about it this week.) I have a few things to share. Characters taking over. Querying. Organization. Research.
Characters taking over
In writing, sometimes characters have a mind of their own. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a step back.
Some people are planners, outlining every little single moment in their book, which is cool. I commend those people. In reality, I am the kind of person who likes to be two steps ahead. But in writing, I can’t really do that. I have a general outline of the bigger picture, but I have no idea what will happen in my next few chapters. I might be able to tell you what will happen in the upcoming chapter, if that.
My characters act, and events unfold. It’s like observing other people and then recording it. UNFORTUNATELY, sometimes my characters go places that my brain hasn’t been to yet (in places, plot, etc.). This has happened to me before, where a character takes the reins and leads the way. Usually I’m all in for adventuring with my characters into new territory. BUT other times, it screws me, the writer, over. MY CHARACTERS ARE OUT OF CONTROL.
I can compare my situation to walking a dog. The dog walker has the leash, they control the dog, even though the dog might walk ahead of them. In my case, the dog has decided to run, and I’m holding onto the leash for dear life as he’s dragging me across the ground. (This has actually happened to me FYI!)
I have a character. His name is Ryder. Ryder decides he’s going to sneakily lead me astray. I’m innocently following him along and, all of a sudden, BAM! He screws me over. As I mentioned last week, my book borders on magical realism/fantasy. So Ryder says, “Hey, let’s share the history of this magical stuff! Isn’t that a great idea?!” (His exact words were, “We’ll start with the legends.”) That is a fantastic idea…except I have no idea what the heck these legends are! Which means I am now stuck in a rut, trying to figure this out. (I should really have thought of this before starting my story, but, as I said, I am no planner.)
If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed my last couple of Tweets had something to do with querying.
Let’s review them, shall we?
— Shari L. (@butterflygrl126) July 18, 2016
Getting responses from agent querying like
— Shari L. (@butterflygrl126) July 19, 2016
I’m putting myself out there, and I just got my 6th rejection today! (That exclamation point is for excitement, not anger, just in case clarification is needed.) It’s sad, but I’ve known that I need to expect it, so I’m not crushed. It’s like dark chocolate: bitter sweet. I’m still hoping. 🙂
I even started writing my query for this next book, because I know I’ll get bogged down by the details later on.
12K words into my new book, and I’ve decided to create some character profiles (and some other little shortcuts for myself). EXCEL IS WONDERFUL. I’ve listed out some major characters and traits that might get lost as I get deeper into the story, like eye color. This actually gets annoying in consistency if I decide to change something later on, as I’ve learned with my finished MS.
It’s also fun. The “hobbies” column, for instance, gets me really thinking about my characters. What would they actually do in their free time? These characters are like my friends, so I better be the best BFF ever and really know how these characters tick.
Last, but not least, I’m super excited about going to do research for an upcoming chapter. My characters are taking a field trip to the Spanish Monastery! Which means I’m taking a field trip! Technically, they were supposed to go a few chapters ago, but they had other things in mind. (I’m not going alone, so it depends on my friend’s schedule, but hopefully it happens before the next Writing Wednesday.) I’ll be taking pictures to share!
Well, that was a mouthful for this week. I hope everyone else’s week has been wonderful and that you are experiencing wonderful writing (whether your own or someone else’s)!
After seeing all the hype about Ruta Sepetys’s book, I decided that I wanted to add Salt to the Sea to my TBR. It moved up in the list when I saw my friend’s Goodreads status in which she was reading it and enjoying it. I requested it from the library (due to my book-buying ban) and finished within a day of it being in my possession.
Summary: Based on the actual sinking of the German Wilhelm Gustloff ship during WWII, this story tells the tale from four different point of views of young adults as they prepare for the journey, a blessing in their eyes, their salvation. Unfortunately, they could not have predicted the disaster to come and struggle to survive in the chaos.
I was prepared for this book to feel like the Titanic. I did my research on this disaster a while back and knew it was worse than the Titanic, but I had forgotten how much worse it was. Prepare for a gut-wrenching story. The majority of the book is a “before” of the disaster, so Ruta really gets you wrapped into the characters’ life.
Each person is in such a different circumstance with unique backstory. My favorite was Joana; my least favorite was Alfred (UGH). Ruta wrote him as intentionally annoying. (He reminded me a lot of Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice.) And I understand he provided a lot of the important historical facts, but I could not stand his chapters. He’s just a doofus. Though not a main character (he did not have his own chapters), I have to say I enjoyed Poet very much.
Regarding history, it’s a shame this story doesn’t have as much recognition as Titanic because so many innocent people lost their lives, and they deserve to be remembered. Now, we can at least remember through the eyes of Alfred, Joana, Florian, and Emilia.
But don’t despair! This story dishes up some hope as well. And that hope, when you see it really shines through and makes this story unforgettable. As it should be. Because of this book, it made me really appreciate my life and feel lucky that I get to be safe, healthy, and happy. A book that has an impact on the reader cannot be described as less than fantastic. That’s why stories exist, in my opinion. To reach out to others; to make a difference. And this book does that.
Ruta gets 4.8 out of 5 stars for her incredible storytelling.