Sailor Moon x Truthwitch = Moon Witch?

It’s no secret that I am in love with Sailor Moon and Truthwitch and Windwitch by Susan Dennard.  It’s also widely known that Susan also loves Sailor Moon, which is why I decided to cross the two and write this blog post.  The idea actually came to me when I posted these two Instagram photos for a book photo challenge.
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Musings of J.C. Davis

eternaldreamers

Adding Fanfiction to Your Writing Tool Belt
by J.C. Davis

Pick a fandom, any fandom, and there’s probably a community of fanfic writers and readers camped out there and having fun.  For those that haven’t heard the term before, fanfic is short for fan fiction and refers to written stories of any length inspired by books, movies, video games, television programs, music and/or celebrities. That’s a broad spectrum of fiction and the internet is riddled with it.

But why would an author writing original fiction want to consider reading and writing fanfiction as well?  Fanfic is actually a useful tool you can add to your arsenal. There are two broad areas where fanfic is useful: first as a creative catalyst and second as a research tool.

Fanfic And Creativity

Almost every writer has had moments when you hit a wall on your work-in-progress. Call it writer’s block, call it brain fog, call it a momentary blip in your creative genius. Either way – the words aren’t flowing the way you’d like them too. Fanfiction can be a great way to take a break, but still flex those writing muscles.

Pick a fandom you love, or even better, one your target readers also love, and write a flash fiction piece. Write a short story. Have fun! Indulge every ship, every pairing, every dramatic or romantic or ridiculous thought and potentiality that you like. Write until you’re smiling so big your cheeks hurt. Then take a step back and read over your work. What about it makes you happy? Yes there are characters and worlds that you love in there, but beyond that – what themes do you see? What situations? Would any of those work in your original writing?

You can use fanfic as just a break, a chance to blow off creative steam. Or you can use it to find what sparks might reignite your passion for your own work-in-progress. Either way, if you’re having fun, it’s worth every moment. Just make sure you do get back to that work-in-progress before too long!

Fanfic As Research

As of this article, An Archive of Our Own (one of the largest and most active fanfiction communities online) has close to 25,000 fandoms represented, over 115,000 users and over 300,000 works posted. More are added every day. That’s a lot of information in one place and if you know who your target readers are and fandoms that appeal to them, it’s a great way to get a peek inside what they’re passionate about!

Head over, pick any fandom you like, and sort the results by the most popular. Look for common themes. Go read the comments on a few of the most popular pieces – what are the readers saying? What are they most fired up about? What storylines seem to get the most interest? Why? What do you think makes those stories stand out (beyond good writing)? Read a few fanfic pieces and see if they spark any ideas for your own work.

Whether you use fanfic as a way to shake off the writing-blahs or as a jumping off point for your next big idea – it’s definitely worth having a look!


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About J.C.

A programmer by day, J. C. Davis writes Picture Books, MG & YA. Her debut novel, a YA Contemporary entitled CHEESUS WAS HERE, was released in April by Sky Pony Press. J. C. is an unrepentant book addict and always has a spare book tucked in her bag for emergencies. Her hobbies include photography, crafting, chasing her kids around the house and obsessing over her pet hedgehogs.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 


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Cheesus Was Here

Sixteen-year-old Delaney Delgado knows miracles aren’t real—if they were, her kid sister wouldn’t be dead. So when the image of baby Jesus appears on a Babybel cheese wheel, she’s not buying the idea that God’s got a dairy obsession. Soon, religious signs begin turning up all over Del’s hometown, tiny Clemency, Texas. Overnight, news vans fill the streets and religious pilgrims start searching for God in the discount aisle of the grocery store.

Hell-bent on proving the so-called miracles are fake, Del convinces her best friend, Gabe, to help her find the truth. While Gabe’s willing to play detective, as a preacher’s son he’s more interested in finding evidence that supports the miracles. But when the whole town becomes caught up in religious fervor and even the late night talk show hosts have stopped laughing and started to believe, finding the truth might cause more trouble than Del can handle. This novel is neither pro nor anti-religion, and will appeal to fans of contemporary YA novels that explore deep themes with an element of humor. The voice and characters are funny, strong, and full of heart. This is a book for anyone who loved the movie Saved!

Goodreads | Amazon | Powells | Books-A-Million | B&N | Indiebound

 


A huge thank you to J.C. who was so patient, and was able to touch on a topic that is so quickly talked about, but never truly acknowledged! So many of us got our starts on reading or writing from fanfiction. There is definitely no denying that it can spark creativity and make you learn form your mistakes. =)

As always, a special thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature! Your words of advice are so much more appreciated than you will ever know.

We hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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Musings of Katie A. Nelson

eternaldreamers

There are no new stories: Taking a classic and making it my own
by Katie A. Nelson

I was sitting in the theater, watching an animated movie, when I had one of those mind-blowing experiences. It was the summer time and though I was a little older than most of the audience, I went to see The Lion King, excited for a couple of hours of mindless entertainment and a king sized box of Junior Mints.

About half way through the movie, around the time Rafiki found Simba and he had his vision of his father in the stars– it hit me. This was the story of Hamlet. Okay, so technically it was set in Africa and had some pretty catchy musical numbers as well, but the basic plot was the same: prince has to decide to avenge his father who was murdered by his uncle.

Once I’d made the connection, I began to see other parallels: seeing the ghost of the dead king, the childhood girlfriend (Ophelia/Nala), the former queen (Gertrude/Sarabi), the king’s advisor (Polonius/Zazu), even the hilarious Timon and Pumba had seeds in Hamlet, as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. By the time the ending credits rolled and Elton John sung his last note, I was totally convinced of my brilliance and dying to share my theory with everyone around me.

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We weren’t even out of the theater when I shared my theory with my boyfriend. His response: “Oh yeah. Cool.” Not exactly the reaction I had expected. Even then, I guess I was a little obsessed with stories.

What I later realized was that it didn’t matter if the story we were watching (or reading) had roots in another story. What mattered was the way it was told, and if the reader (or viewer in this case) had made a connection.  And we had. We both loved it, and have since watched the movie dozens of times with our kids (Yep! I married him!) and we even attended the Broadway show.

So if there are no new stories, how does a writer take a familiar story and make it their own? Or at least make it feel new and different and compelling enough that a reader will want to experience that story, even when they know and love the original? This is a question I’ve been asked several times, as my debut YA novel is a retelling of The Great Gatsby, which most people either love or hate, thanks to decades of high school English teachers and the phenomenal team of Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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For writers, the first step is to analyze the classic you want to retell, and distill it down to its basic elements. What is the basic plot? Who are the characters? Where is it set? What point of view is it told from? What are the important themes?

The next step is to start asking questions. What would happen if the main character were a princess instead of a prince? What if it was set in space instead of medieval times? What if it was told from the point of view of the villain? What if? What if?

Once one element of the story is changed, others naturally follow. If a story is moved from Prohibition era New York to modern day Silicon Valley, CA, how will it be different? Will the American dream be more attainable? What would a Gatsby-scale party look like, especially if the characters are in high school? How will the female characters be different? And so the story begins to become something new, something different, something that’s yours.

And who knows? Maybe someday, someone will be sitting in a movie theater, watching your story on the screen. In DFX. And Dolby sound. Maybe that person will connect your story to the original that inspired you. Maybe that person will just eat their popcorn and enjoy the show. Either way, if you make a connection with your reader (or viewer), that’s all that matters.


Katie Nelson headshot

About Katie

Katie Nelson has always loved words and stories. Formerly a high school English and Debate teacher, she now lives in Northern California with her husband, four children, and hyperactive dog.

 

Website | Twitter Instagram | Goodreads


The Duke of Bannerman Prep

The Duke of Bannerman Prep

Words are weapons. Facts can be manipulated. And nothing is absolute—especially right and wrong.

Tanner McKay is at Bannerman Prep for one reason: to win. The elite school recruited him after he argued his public school’s debate team to victory last year, and now Bannerman wants that championship trophy. Debate is Tanner’s life—his ticket out of scrimping and saving and family drama, straight to a scholarship to Stanford and a new, better future. When he’s paired with the prep school playboy everyone calls the Duke, Tanner’s straightforward plans seem as if they’re going off the rails. The Duke is Bannerman royalty, beloved for his laissez-faire attitude, crazy parties, and the strings he so easily pulls. And a total no-show when it comes to putting in the work to win.

As Tanner gets sucked into the Duke’s flashy world, the thrill of the high life and the adrenaline of the edge become addictive. A small favor here and there seems like nothing in exchange for getting everything he ever dreamed of.

But the Duke’s castle is built on shady, shaky secrets, and the walls are about to topple.

A contemporary retelling of The Great Gatsby, Katie A. Nelson’s taut debut is perfect for anyone who’s struggled to survive the cut-throat world of competitive high school.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound


Thank you so much to Katie for writing this post. I know there are quite a few authors who are rejoicing and learning right now, reading your words and understanding your story. You’re all not alone, and your ideas have to come from somewhere! Just make sure to make it your own, and your story will find it’s place. =)

As always, a huge thanks to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words never fall on unappreciated eyes, and we always look forward to the next piece of advice and story you’re willing to share.

We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

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#ReadADessen: Lock & Key + Giveaway

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It’s Week 4 of the #ReadADessen campaign! We are counting down to the release of Sarah Dessen’s newest book Once and For All releasing June 6, 2017, which is my favorite so far! However that could change. Last week I covered This Lullaby, where I came up with a few songs that fit the characters.  This week I am featuring the book Lock & Key.

unnamed.jpg About the Book

Ruby, where is your mother?

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


In the book, for Ruby’s English project, she must discover what Family means to her and to other people.  If you think about all of Sarah Dessen’s books, the families featured aren’t your picture perfect “All-American family” living in the cute house with a white picket fence.  The idea of a “nuclear family” household has been challenged time and time again. Not all families are created equal and they aren’t without flaws.

The definition of “family” has changed so much and means different things to different people, that I thought it would be fun to recreate Ruby’s assignment. I asked fellow friends and bloggers to share their thoughts.  And before you ask I agree with all things said.

What is Family?

blamethebooksBlame It On the Books

bookwitchjen
Library of a Book Witch

byelliem
By Ellie M

enervated
Book Munchies

rstrolle
Rec-it Rachel

areaderunderthesea
A Reader Under the Sea


About Sarahsarahdessenjpg

Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


9780425290330

Once and For All

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Sarah Dessen Giveaway!


Thank you so much to Chelsea Fought and Penguin Random House for letting me participate in #ReadADessen this year and sending me Lock & Key! Major thank you to all my lovely friends who sent in their thoughts about family! I love you guys so much!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Family or thoughts about Lock & Key! Let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out the other blogs posting this week!

JUST LISTEN
May 8 – YA Bibliophile
May 9 – Xingsings
May 10Paper Trail YA
May 11 – Dazzled by Books
May 12 – Dark Faerie Tales
LOCK AND KEY
May 8 – Bookmark Lit
May 8 – Dazzled by Books
May 10 – Peace Love Books
May 10Paper Trail YA
May 10 – Live Love Read
May 11 – Arctic Books
May 12 – Reader’s Candy

 

#ReadADessen: This Lullaby

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I am so excited to be participating #ReadADessen campaign!! I’m a relatively new Sarah Dessen fan as of this year! I’ve always known Sarah’s been queen of contemporary, but I hadn’t been an avid contemporary romance reader until last year; starting with Jenny Han, Emery Lord, Morgan Matson, and Kasie West.

My curiosity about Sarah’s writing began with receiving the gorgeous ARC for Once and for All plus swag goodies at the book store I work at, Blue Bunny Books.  The plan was to take it home and give it to my friend and co-worker Kim, but I decided I’d give it a quick read. Well you could say I instantly fell in love with Sarah’s book!  I was then told I was “doing it all wrong” and I had to start from the beginning. Anyway long story short, reading Once and For All led me to requesting to participate in this campaign! I was ecstatic to receive This Lullaby, which I’ve been repeatedly told by several people is one of the best Dessen novels. I absolutely adored this novel!! Anyway you can always message me if you want to gush about this book!

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About the Book

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

 

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


For this post, I am doing a playlist of sorts.  I really REALLY didn’t want to seem unoriginal with this idea, but there’s been a few songs I’ve come across on Google Play Music radio that reminded me of this book.  I’m going to do my best to choose a couple songs to match each character, however I am limiting myself to 5 characters so I don’t go too crazy.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!

(I give reasons why I chose these songs)

Dexter

Goodness I love this boy so much! It’s weird to say that he reminds me of Ambrose in Once and For All, because no one know who I am talking about!! Ha! So sorry! This is what I get for reading book 13 and going backwards. I don’t want to say too much.

The first song I choose for Dexter is “Say You’ll Love Me” by Jessie Ware. Jessie’s voice is just captivating. She reminds me so much of Adele, Lana Del Rey, and Lorde. I picked this song because it represents how he must have felt right when Remy breaks his heart.

If Keith Urban’s The Fighter existed when This Lullaby was written, this should’ve been the song Dexter should have sung on Remy to convince her to trust in their relationship.

Last song I’m choosing for Dexter is Ed Sheeran’s Photograph, which I think is pretty self explanatory

Lissa

I imagine that Lissa thought about her relationship with Adam would end up as a the the perfect married couple. The high school sweethearts like in Dan + Shay’s From the Ground Up

The song Fly by Maddie & Tae is the perfect song to help encourage a heartbroken Lissa, who needs to move on and start over in college.

Chloe

Poor Chloe got so much crap from the other girls about her B-cups that I had to give her The Black Eyed Peas My Humps for her “anthem”.

I think Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble sums up Chloe’s relationship with cheating college guys, but Ingrid Michaelson’s Girls Chase Boys also describes how she is now as she’s the only one who’s actively seeking a boyfriend.

Remy

Oh my goodness it took me so long to find the perfect song that encapsulates Remy as a person. She had always been wary of love and relationships, so she never allowed them to last for a long time, until Dexter.  Paramore’s The Only Exception fits her to a T.

Feist’s Bittersweet Melodies fits the moments when Remy can’t stop thinking about Dexter. But it could also fit for Dexter when he tries to be friends with Remy.

I love the acoustic version of I Choose You by Sara Barielles! It’s PERFECT for the end of the book!!

Jess

Jess was the hardest character to think of songs that fit her personality.  She’s the most responsible of all four girls plus she had to grow up faster to take care of her brothers. So finally I remembered I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman by Britney Spears.

Bonus songs for Remy + Chloe + Jess + Lissa:

Birdy’s Wings

The Ataris In This Diary


About Sarahsarahdessenjpg

Sarah Dessen is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen novels for teens, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews. Her books have been published in over thirty countries and have sold millions of copies worldwide. She is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American Library Association for outstanding contribution to young adult literature for her novels: Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth about Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and What Happened to Goodbye. Her newest novel, Once and for All, will be released in June 2017. An NC native, she currently lives in Chapel Hill with her family.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


9780425290330

Once and For All

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound


Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Sarah Dessen Giveaway!


Thank you so much to Chelsea Fought and Penguin Random House for letting me participate in #ReadADessen this year and sending me This Lullaby!

If you have read This Lullaby and have any suggestions for songs for characters I’ve mentioned or any other characters, let me know in the comments below!

Be sure to check out the other blogs posting this week!

THIS LULLABY
THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER

MelissaSig

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Musings of Misa Sugiura

eternaldreamers

 

Beyond the Spark: Building a Romance That Sticks
by Misa Sugiura

I’ve read romances where the main character wonders to themselves why they’re so drawn to this other person, and all I can think is, “Good question.” The love interest may have intense brown eyes, luscious lips, and a smokin’ hot body, but beyond that, I can’t figure out the attraction, either. The two may have met cute, shared a toe-curling kiss, been involuntarily pressed against each other in a small, confined space…and for some reason it still doesn’t work.

Yes, physical attraction is the thing that readers glom onto. It’s sexy, literally. It jumps off the page and is the easiest and most fun thing to write (for me, anyway). But it’s just kindling. It lights up quickly and burns brightly, but it’s useless if you don’t have anything more substantial to feed the flame.

An obvious and easy way to do this is to give your pair a common interest. They both like music (Eleanor and Park). They both like Oreos (Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda). They’re both computer geeks (When Dimple Met Rishi). You can go a bit deeper with a common trauma or a common goal (The Empress of a Thousand Skies). But you can’t stop there. It’s like adding sticks to your kindling—it’s better, but not enough. “Things-in-Common” works with these romances because they all have something more.

To build an authentic connection that goes beyond the initial spark-and-catch, each character has to offer something the other admires, and something the other needs and is willing to pursue. They need to be flawed—perhaps even drawn/propelled toward each other because of their flaws as well as their strengths. They need to complement each other and bring out the best in each other.

One popular and lovely example of this is in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Simon and Blue’s relationship is non-physical for most of the book—and yet they still have amazing chemistry. Yes, they both love Oreos. Yes, they both love Harry Potter. But as their wonderful emails illustrate, they stimulate each other intellectually, they make each other laugh, and they provide for each other an empathetic listener—they become partners who talk honestly about themselves, their fears, and their desires. That is what makes them fall for each other without ever laying eyes on each other. Without a single stuck-in-a-tight-space-together moment.

In order for the characters to be attracted to each other on that level—in order for them to be able to show off their strengths and discover their intellectual and personal compatibility, to confess their deepest desires and fears—they each need to have those things. They need to be fully human, multi-layered, interesting characters without the other. Otherwise, why bother?

So unless the theme of your story is mad hookups (which, hey—that’s cool, too), the eyes, hair, the abs, and the smoldering looks should be just the kindling (or the…uh…tinder, if you will). In the best romances, the author shows us not just the attraction between two bodies, but the attraction between two souls—not just how the characters are hot for each other, but also why they are good for each other.

For a romance that sticks with your readers, you need sturdier stuff like commonalities and parity, and substantial emotional, intellectual, psychological, and/or spiritual strengths and weaknesses. Which is to say, finally, if you want to get your lovebirds to fall in for each other in a way that sticks with your readers, you need to put in the hard work of crafting carefully constructed characters with emotional depth and real stakes. (Though don’t forget the kissing.)


static1.squarespace.comAbout Misa

Misa Sugiura is the author of It’s Not Like It’s A Secret (HarperTeen, May 2017). She was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, but now lives under a giant oak tree in Silicon Valley.

 

 

 

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


INLIAScoverHCCatalog.jpegIt’s Not Like It’s A Secret

Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to their parties. Some are big, like the fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely admit to herself–the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, that part is easy…what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository


Thank you so much to Misa for your amazing words of advice! Building a romance can be so difficult, even in reality. We all struggle with building relationships so it’s hard to write in a perfectly imperfect one in our manuscripts. I’m sure your advice will stick with so many people!

A huge thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words do wonders for those of us who are stumbling through writing everyday. Thank you.

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Mr. Men/Little Miss: Doctor Who Review

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If you hadn’t heard already, BBC teamed up with Penguin Random House to bring us a series of Doctor Who picture books in the style of Mr. Men/Little Miss originally by Roger Hargreaves.  This particular series will not only feature our favorite doctors, but also villains and companions we are all familiar with.  The stories and illustrations will be done by Mr. Hargreaves’ son, Adam Hargreaves.

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Up first is Dr. First of course! This picture book follows the story of the first Doctor and his granddaughter, Susan.  I’ve never watched the original series, but I did see William Hartnell in the tenth anniversary episodes with Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee. However William was ill so his appearance was very short.

With that being said I don’t know if the First Doctor is always grumpy, but overall it is an adorable book which demonstrates who much he loves his grandaughter, even if he doesn’t show it.

Reading with Haylee: I decided to read each book with my 3 year old niece because she loves the Little Miss Fickle book her other aunt has.  Plus it’s never too early to turn her into a Whovian. Unfortunately we got to this book last before my sister came to pick her up and I have not had a chance to read it to her since.  However, keep reading to find out her thoughts about the other three books!

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I 9780515158472absolutely adored this story! It was very funny and cute. I haven’t seen any episodes featuring Tom Baker, but it seems pretty accurate. The companion for this novel is Sarah Jane, who we get to meet again in series 10.  I love how Adam takes the time give a brief explanation of the Daleks’ personality.

Reading with Haylee: She definitely enjoyed this one, but kept asking “Why”.  She didn’t understand why Dr. Fourth offers a jelly baby to a bird.  She’s at that phase where she keeps asking why until you give her an answer that satisfying.  I had to explain the what a jelly baby was and tell her the bird must have been hungry so it took it.

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I am totally in love with Matt Smith *swoons* (even though Tennant is more my Doctor) and was so excited to find out who the companion was for this book!  Dr. Eleventh was the best out of all four books. It was funny, had my favorite companion (though some argue she wasn’t a companion), plus the infamous red fez!

Reading with Haylee: She immediately went for this book when I gave her the four options to choose from.  I think the fact that Dr. Eleventh is blue was the reason why we read this book first.  She thought it was funny and enjoyed herself.

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I was kind of disappointed with this story.  I think they could have gone with a different story line and Missy was not my favorite in the show.  I would have been happier with Me or even Clara for that matter. The only thing I liked about this book was the fact Dr. Twelfth had the shades and goes back in time to have lunch.

Reading with Haylee: This was her second choice and I think she also liked that Dr Twelfth had the sunglasses, but I don’t think she enjoyed this one as much.  She have any reactions to this book as much as Dr. Fourth and Dr. Eleventh.

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Over all these books were adorable and I believe they’re a good introduction to the world of Doctor Who for any young reader.  They are all enjoyable and I think any Doctor Who fan would be able to appreciate them.  I look forward to reading the other books that will be releasing later.


Thank you to Chelsea Fought and Penguin Random House for sending me these books!

MelissaSig

Musings of Diana Gallagher

eternaldreamers

A Letter to My Teenage Self
by Diana Gallagher

Hey, you.

I see you, Teenage Self.

You’re on the verge of your Lord of the Rings phase (spoiler: you won’t ever fully grow out of it). You’re wildly unfashionable (spoiler: that won’t really change, either). Much of the time, you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. You’ve grown out your bangs, switched to contacts, and chopped off much of your unruly hair. Even so, you feel the tension between who you are and who you wish you could be.

It makes you write.

You have all of these emotions to wrestle with, and sometimes, they come out in short stories and poems and stream-of-consciousness bursts. Years later, you’ll hear Wordsworth’s line about the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings and recognize how apt it is. Right now, your words are the only map you have, one of your own creation, and you have no idea where it’s leading you.

Here’s what I want you to know: you’re on the right track.

At this point in the game, you already enjoy digging in and working hard. Much like LOTR and your somewhat questionable fashion sense, you won’t be leaving that work ethic behind. Good. You’re going to need it. You’re going to face rejection and wild circumstances beyond your control. You’ll question where you went wrong and what decisions could have steered you elsewhere. You’ll wish you’d been born with a passion for something straightforward, like accounting, as you sit alone in your car and cry. (Hey, at least you finally passed your road test!)

And then you’re going to keep moving, because that’s what you do.

Here’s what else I can tell you: surround yourself with people who make you laugh, who don’t bat an eye when you wear your track sweatshirt for the fifth day in a row (it’s comfortable okay?), who find your blog and tell you you’ve summed up exactly the way they feel, too. When you lean on your friends, everything is better. Promise.

Above all of this, keep telling your stories. Right now, you have no idea how publishing works or how books end up on the shelf. You just know that someday, you want one of them to be yours. Cherish how it feels while you’re being that rebellious teen sneaking downstairs after midnight to type on the family computer with the lights off, because that’s when writing feels like flying.

Because in those moments, you make magic.


DG author photo About Diana

Though Diana Gallagher be but little, she is fierce. She’s also a gymnastics coach and judge, former collegiate gymnast, and writing professor. Her work has appeared in The Southampton Review, International GymnastThe Couch Gymnast, The Gymternet, and on a candy cigarette box for SmokeLong Quarterly. She holds an MFA from Stony Brook University and is represented by Tina Wexler of ICM Partners. Her contemporary YA novel, Lessons in Falling, released in February 2017

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Lessons in Falling

Lessons in Falling

LESSON ONE: Playing it safe beats taking chances.

After an injury ends Savannah’s dream of a college gymnastics scholarship, she quits despite her parents’ protests. She won’t risk breaking her body—and heart—again.

LESSON TWO: Catch your best friend when she falls—or regret it forever.

Rules are meant to be broken, according to Savannah’s best friend, Cassie—and it’s more fun to break them together. But when Cassie attempts suicide, Savannah’s left wondering how well she really knows her.

LESSON THREE: Leaping forward, not knowing where you’ll land, is the hardest of all.

Falling for Marcos wasn’t part of the plan. Not only did he save Cassie’s life, he also believes Savannah can still achieve her dreams. Except Cassie thinks Marcos and gymnastics will only break Savannah’s heart.

As Savannah tumbles and twists through toxic friendships and crushing parental expectations, she realizes you never know who will be there when you fall.

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Thank you so much, Diana, for writing this beautiful letter to your teenage self about never giving up hope and striving for your dreams. We’ve all been that teenager who doesn’t quite know how to achieve our dreams, doesn’t quite know when to give up, but keeps going anyways, and this is exactly who we really are: survivors, stumblers, and chance-takers. We live by stumbling, finding hope, and continuing our path to greatness.

A huge thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words do wonders for those of us who are stumbling through writing everyday. Thank you.

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Musings of Shaila Patel

eternaldreamers

How Do You Organize?
by Shaila Patel

I’m probably the most disorganized Type A personality you’ll ever meet, but as messy and chaotic as every single one of my work areas are (day job included), I take heart in the meme that states having such a desk is a sign of genius.

(It’s on a meme, so it must be true.)

Like most of you, my story ideas come to me regardless of where I am, what time it is, or what I’m doing, and keeping track of all those thoughts and ideas is just one more job I don’t need weighing me down. No matter how many newfangled apps, digital pens, snazzy software, or digital recorders that I’ve downloaded or bought, I can’t seem to use any one of these items as a catch-all system that would revolutionize my organizational skills. I’ve even gone lo-tech with fancy blank journals, sticky notes, and colored index cards, but nothing has grabbed me enough to want to hoard coupons for my local office supply store.

My intentions are good, but in the end, the way I organize depends on where I am and/or what I’m doing.

If you look at my current work-spot du jour at my house, you’ll see it covered in sticky notes with random thoughts for editing my current work-in-progress (WIP), ideas for new scenes, and lists of things to remember to add to the story. These notes can be for a WIP or a future story that’s just a wee baby idea in my head. If I happen to be driving or not near my sticky note collection, I usually open my ColorNote app on my phone—I dictate into it if I’m driving—and add my ideas into a current note that’s usually titled by book or, for future stories, by the hero and heroine’s name since I write romance.

If that was all I did, it wouldn’t be much of an organizational strategy and there wouldn’t be much point in you reading this, would there? Luckily, there’s more to my strategy, and if you are reading this, you’re probably unsatisfied enough with your own process to be on the lookout for new ideas. You might even be suffering from the notion that other authors have some secret way of doing things that will magically make your life easier, but let me assure you—it probably won’t.

That was a lesson I learned when my Type A side was telling me I was “doing it wrong” or that there was a “better way” to be more organized and more productive. The added pressure kept me from actually being productive because I spent more time and money trying to copy everyone else’s organizational style that didn’t work for me rather than fine-tuning my own process—and accepting it.

Groundbreaking revelation, isn’t it?

So this is what I do with all those sticky notes … and notes in my app … and blank notebooks piling up on my shelves … and index cards cluttering up my drawers … and, well, you get the idea. To help illustrate, I’ve broken down my organizational strategy into three areas: pre-story, pre-writing, and writing/editing.

Pre-Story

Before delving into the planning of a story, I jot down whatever ideas come to me. It might be several months later before I decide the story has merit and deserves a shot. To me, it’s like I’m gathering the seeds that’ll eventually grow into my finished product, if I choose to nurture it. These notes—written on anything in front of me—are not fleshed out ideas, but little tidbits to help me remember how to shape my story later. More than likely, it’ll involve sticky notes and the ColorNote app on my phone for when I can’t write something down.

All my barely legible ideas on colorful sticky notes of all sizes, backs of envelopes, random scraps of paper, or even backs of receipts, end up in a “dedicated” pile on my desk. As time permits (i.e., when I’m in the mood) I add the scribbled thoughts from paper into a specific note in my app labeled for the hero/heroine of that particular story.

At this stage, I don’t transfer the ideas into one of my ‘purty’ notebooks because I know from experience that I’ll be too lazy to go through all the pages to find what I need when the time comes. And probably most important, I don’t like dedicating a notebook to something that’s still not quite a fully formed story yet—that’s just me.

Pre-writing

Once I know it’s time to start planning out and writing the new story, I whip out my collection of colored index cards and start transferring my notes from my app and the latest sticky notes that haven’t made it into my phone yet. If there are ideas that now sound ridiculous, then they never make it onto an index card.

The hero and heroine each get a specific color, and once written out, those cards become a character sketch that I can reference. Plot points, scene ideas, and even dialogue snippets, all get written on their own colored cards where they can be shuffled around into different acts and scenes as the outline and story evolves. As the story gets more fleshed out in my head, I insert new cards wherever they need to go in my story’s timeline without messing anything up.

I then rubber band them together and bring them with me wherever I go.

Writing/Editing

While I use the index cards to corral all my gems, once I start writing and then editing, I use one of the journals or notebooks I’ve collected over the years to write a more specific outline of the next scene or chapter, jot down ideas I need to look into, or scribble changes I need to make because of comments by critique partners or beta readers. And I dedicate the entire notebook to that particular story.

For Book 1 of my debut, Soulmated, that notebook became a sort of series bible for all the things I need to remember for the rest of the series. Handy, right? Once the story is ready for final edits, I transfer my Word file into Scrivener, where I take full advantage of its organizational features to write myself notes for specific chapters, notes for future books in the series, or even to flag things to help me tighten the story.

And that, folks, is how I keep my head on straight.

This whole process wasn’t a conscious attempt at organization but an evolution of what I tried and failed to do while balancing my need to be in control with my natural tendency to be disorganized and spontaneous. The more I tried to be organized (driven by my pesky Type A side), the more I wasted time.

Bottom line:

  1. Work your attempts at organizing your ideas around how you normally are—not the idealized image of you as an author.
  2. Find ways that are easy, handy, and don’t make you feel guilty for not being like this author or that author.
  3. Revel in the creative process and don’t let your left-brain (the organized, logical side) tell your right-brain (the creative side) how to do things.
  4. Do what works for your life, your chaos, your personality.
  5. Be happy with however you decide to do things. It’s the best way to move forward and actually be productive and not just plan to be.

I’d love to hear what you do to organize. Let me know in the comments below! And meanwhile, be very, very wary of coupons from office supply stores. Just saying. 😉


Shaila_Patel_3x4.5

About Shaila

As an unabashed lover of all things happily-ever-after, Shaila Patel’s younger self would finish reading her copy of Cinderella and fling it across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Soulmated is her debut novel and the winner of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. She loves books, craft beer, tea, and cozy window seats—but she’ll read anywhere. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or online gushing about her favorite books.

Represented by: Agent Amanda Leuck of Spencerhill Associates

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Soulmated (Joining of Souls, #1)

Soulmated

Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

Publisher Information: Month 9 Books

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Thank you so much Shaila for your amazing organizing ideas, and for acknowledging that we’re all individuals with different needs. We all organize differently and have to find what works for each of us! Your organizational method is something I will definitely try, though! =)

As always, a huge thanks to everyone who has participated in this feature! Your words of advice never fall upon ungrateful minds. Thank you. ❤

We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

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