How do you decide which project to work on?
I always write the thing that I want to read most. Usually this is the project that I’ve thought out the most and at least somewhat outlined, but sometimes it’s a completely new project that I know very little about but already love.
How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
That depends on the project… I can usually do a short story in a month. Novels take about a year, (with three months of drafting and nine months of cleaning up the mess that I call a draft).
Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
I always diffuse peppermint oil when I’m writing because it helps me focus, and I usually listen to either my project playlist or nature sounds.
What time of day do you write best?
Either really late at night or really early in the morning… what is sleep?
Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
Ummm… no. My style is my own, just like every other author’s style is their own. I honestly think that you could give three different authors the same prompt and ask them to write a story, and they would come up with completely different stories because everybody’s brain works differently!
Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
I started writing because I loved reading and telling stories, and I just never stopped. It’s so much of a habit to write every day now that it feels weird to not write in a day! I’ll keep writing as long as I have stories to tell, and I’ll probably cry if I ever run out of stories!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
Definitely my Shaman Novel! The number one piece of advice that you’ll hear as a writer is, “Write what you know”. I personally think that this “rule” is idiotic and hardly ever follow it, but it does have a tiny bit of value. When I started writing my Shaman Novel, I stepped off a cliff into the deep blue unknown, and that was the most terrifying moment of my writerly life! It’s one thing to create a magic system, world, characters, plot, and fantastical creatures out of your imagination, but it’s a completely different thing to combine fantasy and psychology when you know absolutely nothing about the psychological disorders at hand! Speaking from hours of experience here… Google is a writer’s best friend!
Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
Nope! Now that I’ve written two drafts of my Shaman Novel, I can write anything!
What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?
Uhhhh… I’ll just skip this question! Just kidding… My main goal for 2017 was to have my Shaman Novel ready for beta readers by June, and clearly that did not happen! I have world building woes, ok?! Cut me some slack here! I still gotta name some fictional countries!
Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!
I absolutely positively despise gifs because gif + screen reader = BAD! So… here are my three words: messy, incoherent, somewhat insane. That turned into four words, but I’m calling it good!
“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.”
-Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows
Title: Six of Crows
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows #1
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Suspense
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Published: September 29th, 2015
Synopsis From Goodreads:
Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Six of Crows is very dark for a young adult novel, yet it still manages to be an easy and entertaining read. The character development is amazing, I loved the romantic tension, and it has some of the best world building I’ve seen since Harry Potter! The only major complaint I have is the plot. As far as I can tell, the first chapter is completely unnecessary, and the pacing seems kind of slow for the first quarter of the book. That being said, Six of Crows is easily one of my most favorite books ever because of the characters and world alone!
“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”
-Nicola Yoon, Everything, Everything
Synopsis From Goodreads:
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Everything, Everything is one of those books that you can read again and again and get something new from the story every time. It is a somewhat slower-paced story, but it still manages to catch your attention and hold it until the very end. The characters, plot, and setting are all very well developed. The only complaint I have is that the romance seemed very “instalovy”.
The characters in Everything, Everything each have their own backstory that contributes to the plot. Maddy, (the main character), has a severe immune disorder that prevents her from leaving her house. Olly, (Maddy’s love interest), hasn’t had the greatest family life. Maddy’s mother lost her husband and another child in a car accident, and now Maddy is all she has left. Each of these unique backstories contributes to the plot and character development in a way that makes Everything, Everything feel like more than the average teen romance.
Everything, Everything has a very interesting writing style. It is told in the first person narrative through Maddy, (the main character). The writing seemed a little… choppy at first, but after the first chapter or so it became much more fluid.
The plot of Everything, Everything is well-paced for the most part. I do think that some of the exposition could’ve been cut from the beginning, and the romance did feel a lot like instalove. I’m choosing to forgive the instalove in this instance, however, because of the unique situation. I believe that the instalove was made up for by the interesting backstory, strong character development, and bitter-sweet ending.
The ending of Everything, Everything was not what you usually see in young adult romance, but it was a welcome change in my opinion. Without spoiling everything about Everything, Everything, the ending brings a psychological twist into the story that ends everything on a bitter-sweet note.
Overall, Everything, Everything is a great read if you’re up for a cute teen romance with a psychological twist!
Snippet Sunday is a writing meme created by Samantha @ Reed’s Reads & Reviews in which you share a snippet of your writing. This snippet is from my Shaman Novel.
So much blood has been spilled upon this floor that I can’t believe the marble is white instead of scarlet.
Top Ten Tuesday is a book meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “books from X genre that you’ve recently added to your TBR list”. I am choosing to list my top ten most anticipated fantasy books because fantasy is basically all I read…
- Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
- Ink and Bone by Lisa Unger
- Heartless by Marissa Meyer
- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
- Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
- Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
- The Midnight Sea by Kat Ross
- The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
- The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
“We all have responsibilities from our circumstances,
even if we didn’t ask for them.”
― Karen Ann Hopkins, Embers
Synopsis From Goodreads:
There are descendants of angels walking among us. Ember is one of them.
Embers is an epic paranormal adventure/romance about a seventeen year old girl who discovers that she’s immune to fire and any other injury when she’s in a horrific car crash that kills her parents. Following a violent episode with her aunt’s boyfriend, Ember flees Ohio to live with an old relative in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Ember’s exuberance at escaping a bad home life soon turns to trepidation when she learns that she’s a Watcher, a descendant of angels.
While Ember is instructed about her heritage and the powers that go along with it, she strikes up friendships with two teenagers who live in a frightening walled compound in the forest. Inexplicitly drawn to one of the young men in particular, an impossible romance develops. But it’s cut short when Ember discovers that her new friends are fighting on the opposite side of a war that’s been raging between two factions of Watchers for thousands of years. When the compound’s inhabitants threaten the townspeople, Ember takes action, sealing her fate in the ancient battle of good versus evil, and the grayness in between. Ember is up to the challenge, until she realizes that she isn’t only fighting for the lives of the locals and the souls of her new friends. She may be one of the few champions willing to make a stand for all of mankind as the rapture approaches and the end of days begin.
My Rating: ☆☆
Embers is one of those books that has a lot of wasted potential. The premise is great, but the follow-through just isn’t there.
The plot of Embers is interesting enough to hold your attention, but the story starts earlier than it should. For starters, the prologue is entirely unnecessary! By unnecessary, I mean its only purpose is to make you wonder what’s behind the creepy wall in the woods. The writing of the prologue isn’t that amazing either… It’s in third person; the rest of the book is in first person. Also, it is very gorry and almost made me put the book down. Maybe it’s just me, but heads should not come off in the first twenty pages unless the book is a horror story or somebody super important is being murdered, (neither of which is the case here)! The first three chapters are also just a bunch of unnecessary set-up. The story doesn’t start until the main character gets to her aunt’s house, but for some reason we’re given explicit details about how she got there in the form of three extra chapters. That being said, Embers tells a pretty good story once the plot actually kicks off. It isn’t the kind of thing you read for brilliant writing or a message that’ll stick with you, but it makes good mindless entertainment!
The characters are… flat. The main character, Ember, is basically a puppet who does whatever has to be done to move the plot along. There was a lot of potential for her to go through some major development, but it was not fulfilled. I mean… The girl watched her parents burn to death in a fire and discovered that fire couldn’t hurt her in the process. She should be traumatized to the point of needing therapy, but instead she just comes across as a winy teenage girl who is quite honestly super annoying. Her love interest is slightly more developed. He’s a demon who doesn’t want to be a demon and has actually considered suicide to escape his demonicness, but again some great potential is wasted. The romance was also major instalove, and the love triangle that was introduced about two-thirds into the book was obviously just there for the sake of having a love triangle. Seriously… Who is going to believe that there is actually a possibility that the descendent of an angel is going to fall in love with a human guy when she basically threw herself at a demon the first time she saw him???
Embers is an excellent example of a book that should not have been written in first person. It would’ve been better if the characters weren’t so flat, but because neither of the two narrators was developed enough to have a strong narrative voice, the first person narrative was just really awkward sounding. Maybe I’m just an up-tight writerly snob, but I wanted to scream and rewrite the entire book in third person the whole time I was reading it. The only thing that got me to read through the writing was the plot. It kept me turning pages to see what happened even though I predicted every single twist from the midpoint onward. Overall, Embers is a pretty good read if you’re into plot driven stories with the “mindless entertainment factor”, but you should probably avoid it if you’re going to be irritated by cardboard characters and not so fantastic writing.
Beautiful People is a writing link-up created by Cait @ Paper Fury in which you share a bit about your characters. This month’s topic is parental relationships! I’ll be answering the following questions for Niko Deverow, (The main character of my Shaman Novel.)
Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
Niko’s biological parents mysteriously disappeared when he was three years old. His Aunt Zelda and Uncle Quinn are his legal guardians, but they don’t really care what he does as long as it doesn’t ruin their chance at a spot on the royal counsel. The closest thing he has to a real parent is his shaman mentor, Archer Cross. She was like a sister to Niko’s mother, and now she’s made it her mission to save him from the royal lifestyle as his mother would’ve wanted.
Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence, and how has it affected their life?
I already answered the first part of this question above… Sophia and Gidian Deverow disappeared when Niko was only three, so he never got a chance to know them. Niko inherited his Mom’s shaman gift: the ability to see spirits and residual energetic imprints. For example, he could see the blurred image of a violent murder that played out 50 years in the past because of the energetic imprint it left behind. This made it super hard for him when his Aunt and Uncle got guardianship. His dad basically ruined the Deverow name when he married a shaman, and now Zelda and Quinn care about nothing beyond fixing their reputation and reclaiming their spot on the royal counsel. From a VERY young age, Niko has been taught to hide his abilities. He wears a flawless mask to keep up his royal pretence, but beneath it he is filled with scars and secrets that can never be revealed. Because he’s holding so much inside, he finds ways to numb the world. He becomes addicted to Bliss, (a made-up drug), and turns to self-injury as a form of release.
How did their parents meet?
Every year, the Counsel and the Shaman Court meet under a peace flag. Gidian Deverow and Sophia Murser met at one such meeting. Sophie saw that something was off in Gidian’s aura. He didn’t quite fit with the other royals, and that intrigued her. She struck up a conversation at the peace banquet, and after several months of secret meetings, Gidian made plans to desert the counsel which would throw his family name into exile.
How would they feel if they were told, “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
Niko would be overjoyed to get ANY kind of information about his parents! He’s spent most of his life trying to find out what happened to them, which is difficult because he has no access to shaman records, and the counsel doesn’t keep information on traitors. Even though he sees the spirits of the dead, he’s never seen his parents. He can’t decide if this makes him scared or happy because it either means they’re not dead, they’re in some kind of afterlife, or they’re alive and somewhere worse than death.
What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
Sophia was training to become a spy for ISA, (the International Shaman Alliance). Gidian was being groomed to carry on his family name and one day inherit the Deverow’s counsel seat.
Is there something they adamantly disagreed on?
Considering they never new each other, they didn’t have a chance to disagree on anything.
What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
It was very difficult for Sophie to find out that Niko had her abilities. Sight and Empathy are two of the most difficult shaman gifts to master, and when they’re combined, they usually result in madness.
What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
Niko has a vague memory of his mother singing him to sleep in a foreign language that sounds a lot like Hawaiian. However, he can’t decide if it really happened, or if he just made it up to feel some connection to his life before the counsel.
What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
Niko was a very quiet child. He was always watching, listing, and absorbing the world around him.
Why and how did the parent(s) choose your character’s name?
The name Niko means, “victory,” or, “warrior”. Gidian and Sophie named him Niko because they knew the world was a harsh place, and they wanted it to remind him that he was strong enough to fight and win.
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts
And started the apocalypse.”
-Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of smoke & Bone #3
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Published: April 8, 2014
Synopsis From Goodreads:
Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.
When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.
But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?
The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Dreams of Gods & Monsters opens by introducing a new character to the series. I would normally consider it a “writerly no-no” to add a main character so late in a series, but in this case, it works! Without the addition of a new key player, the plot couldn’t have ended as it did. The new character is also very well developed to have entered the story so late, and she undergoes a complete character arck by the end.
The plot of Dreams of Gods & Monsters is tight and well paced. While Days of Blood & Starlight seemed slow in places, Dreams of Gods & Monsters flows quickly and holds your attention until the very last page.
The writing style is very smooth and almost captivating in some places, but as with the first two books, the narrator switches were not handled as well as they could’ve been. There were several instances where a narrator swap occurred in the middle of a chapter, and it got super hard to follow! The fact that there were so many characters didn’t help matters either… Honestly, the whole problem could’ve been remedied if the narrator changes had happened at chapter breaks, but because they didn’t, it became “borderline head-hopping.”
The ending of the series was carried out beautifully! I did NOT see the plot twist coming, but I love how everything was wrapped up! The worlds were saved, everyone who mattered got their happy ever after, and the only thing I could find fault with was the head-hopping problem!
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.
And its snap split the world in two.”
― Laini Taylor, Days of Blood & Starlight
Title: Days of Blood & Starlight
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2, (click here for my review of book 1)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: November 6th, 2012
Synopsis From Goodreads:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Days of Blood & Starlight is a pretty good follow-up to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. The plot picks up basically where the first book ended, but introduces an entirely new setting and conflict. The overall plot was excellent, but the pacing did seem a little slow to me. It wasn’t the torturous kind of slow progression that makes you want to skip ahead, but it definitely could’ve gotten off to a faster start!
The character development was amazing! The book was definitely more plot driven than character driven, but all of the main characters began some kind of transformation that was obvious through their actions and the ways in which they interacted with each other. Each of the character arcs unfolded alongside plot events, and the changes they experienced were caused by the plot, which created a nice balance. By the end of the story, all of the key players were placed at a point where they had to make a decision for better or worse. At that point in the story, they had all progressed enough to understand the right choice, and therefore the story reached a form of closure while still leaving room for the next book.
The writing style of Days of Blood & Starlight is very unique. It has a melodic flow that is beautiful and interesting, yet hard to follow sometimes. Part of the confusion also came from the fact that there were multiple narrators. I think I counted three main narrators and a couple chapters from others. I normally don’t have a problem with multiple narrators, but this got super hard to keep up with! I definitely understand why there were so many narrators, and they were all necessary for the story to unfold, but I think it could’ve been written a little more distinctly. Thankfully it was written in third person, otherwise I don’t think I could’ve gotten through all the head-hopping!
This most definitely is not the kind of book you read for mindless entertainment! Coming from someone who can usually listen to audio books while doing a multitude of other tasks simultaneously without missing a thing in the book, this was not an easy read! I mean… I actually had to dedicate time to curl into a small ball on my bed with only a blanket and coffee to read this thing instead of just throwing on my headphones while being a responsible student! That being said, it told a very unique and amazing story, and I have already started the next book because I am totally hooked on this plot!
It has been forever since I’ve posted a monthly recap, (mostly because I always forget them), but here is the recap for April!
What I Posted:
■Snippet Sunday–in which one of my characters figuratively drowns.
■Top Ten Tuesday–things that make me instantly want to read a book.
■Snippet Sunday–in which one of my characters makes a sarcastic statement.
■Camp NaNoWriMo Tips–staying inspired.
■Snippet Sunday–my Shaman Novel synopsis.
■Writing Up Wednesday–the craft of writing.
■Book Review–Fear the Drowning Deep
■Camp NaNoWriMo Tips[[having the best experience.
My Writerly Achievements:
I somehow managed to score another CampNaNo win! My goal was to spend thirty hours editing my Shaman Novel, and I hit that and worked five hours over! It doesn’t look like I really did much though because I ended up writing in another subplot in order to fill a plot whole, which means that I now have to write those scenes. I’m still hoping to have this thing ready for beta readers by the first of June, but I already have a crazy buisy Summer planned, so we’ll see! My Shaman Novel also has a working title now: Flawless Scars. I love it, and it fits the story and main character really well, but you guys please let me know what you think of it in the comments! Would you be drawn to pick up a young adult fantasy book with this title?
Upcoming in May:
■Book Review–Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor.
■Book Review–Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor.
■Book Review–Embers by Karen Ann Hopkins.
■The Why I Love Me Tag–late as usual.