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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

YA Book Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles Series.  Find Jesse's review to the first book, Cinder, here.

- -
“Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.”

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Scarlet  is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series. The story continues right where the first book leaves off and introduces some new characters and points of views. Cinder has to break out of prison with some help from a new friend, mean while Scarlet does everything in her power to find her grandmother who she believes has been kidnapped.

I found Scarlet to be a lot more tolerable then Cinder was and I was impressed with the progression of the story. It's slowly starting to grow on me bit by bit. Meyer was able to reinvent a old fairy tale and make it new again. This time take Little Red Riding Hood and integrating it into her unfolding story.

This time around the plot was a bit more intriguing with excellent world building. In Cinder, Meyer was able to recreate a futuristic Beijing and for Scarlet she did the same for Paris. With cool writing techniques and funny dialogues between characters made for an interesting read.

As for the characters some of them were a hit and miss for me. My favorite would have to be Captain Thorne, and my least favorite this time around would be Scarlet. For Thorne I thought he was extremely entertaining with his demeanor and cheeky dialogues. I got a Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean vibe off him, and who doesn't like a little Johnny Depp once and a while. Unfortunately for Scarlet, it was just a disappointment. I didn't find her unique or interesting, her relationship with Wolf was odd, and there just wasn't anything I could connect with her on.

In conclusion Scarlet by Marissa Meyer was a step up from Cinder and I'm still intrigued to see where this story goes in the next installment. Let me know your thoughts on the book below and stay tuned for future reviews coming your way soon!

See ya next time,

Photo credit here.

Monday, June 29, 2015

MY RANT AGAINST WORD

At the very beginning of my #amwriting life, I used Word to write.  Fortunatly I have a Macbook, which has the function on word to use a notebook style of writing, so that helped me keep up with my chapters / scenes, etc.
Welcome to Scrivener.

Photo credit
And then I discovered the WONDERFUL WORLD OF SCRIVENER and my Word docs for my novels went in the archives (to be looked at my researchers a hundred years from now and they will comment, "ohh, so that's what writers used to use).  I love love love love Scrivener.  And I cannot express my joy of the birth of Keith Blount, who hated using Word to write his book almost as much as every other author out there, and decided to program something different.
Now, this may be a very unpopular statement, and maybe even I'll lose some friends over this, but I think that any author that (has the financial ability to buy Scrivener and) is using Word over Scrivener is just plain lazy.  Scrivener has a free 30 day trial.  That's not a month trial, that's 30 days of actual use trial.  So you get to spend 30 days figuring out if you like it.
Let me say this: in this day and age, so many people are used to apps, that we've become lazy.  What??  I actually have to spend time learning how to use a program?  I can't just whisper to it, and it will do everything my heart's desire?  People, everything isn't Google.  And I've heard so many authors that say they've tried Scriver and just didn't get it.
Yes, it's not an app.  You actually have to learn how to use it.  Guess what?? We live in the age of the internet people.  There are tons, and I mean a ton, of websites and youtube videos explaining how to use Scrivener.  Plus they have their own tutorials and guides.
But, I guess maybe those lazy authors get what they deserve because they are stuck with using freaking Word to write their novels.

OKay, anyway (that was an off tangent rant -- sorry Barbara if you're reading this.  You know I <3 you!)...
As I was saying...
I've been fortunate to be able to avoid using Word until.....
I realized that I would HAVE TO WALK INTO HELL TO UPLOAD MY FILE TO SMASHWORDS.
That's right.  You heard me.  I have to freaking format my books in Word.
Welcome to Hell

Photo credit


So, let me take you on my journey so far...

(And I'm sorry if that dude playing the drums is giving you a headache.  I know he's givin me one!)
I downloaded the Style Guide that gives your a step by step guide how to format in word for Smashwords specifications.

Let me take a step back.  Why do I want to use Smashwords?

What even is Smashwords you ask??  

Smashwords is a website where you can buy books.  Plus they will send your books out to Nook, Apple, GoogleBooks, Sony.  They use their magic fingers, plus their magic contracts, to get your books into their online stores.  So all you have to do is upload your file (yes, you got it, your freaking Word file) and they'll do all the distribution work for you.
Lots of authors only use Amazon.  Not only are they missing out on potential customers, but the ebook world outside of the United States is about to EXPLODE and guess what??? Amazon is NOT the most popular book downloading site outside of the US.  So if you want to be placed and ready for that explosion, you'd better be on other sites.
If that isn't enough reason to use Smashwords, I'll give you another great reason.  Currently, Amazon only allows you to give your book away for Free for 5 days every 90 days.  Plus you have to stay exclusive to Amazon in order to do this.  However, the loophole to this is that if you have your book Free on any other websites, they will put your book for Free on their website also.
Now, I love Amazon.  They're always very patient with the dumb side of me and willing to hold my hand to explain things.  But I don't ever want to be in a position where they own me.  I want my own readers, my own fans.  Not just Amazon's readers, Amazon's fans.  (It's not like I have to make a choice between the two.  I'll take both.  For reals.)
And guess what?? Smashwords let's you price your book for free.  Yaaay!! Hallelujah for book readers everywhere.  It's free right now.  See?  I've had it upload for just a couple of days and it's already been downloaded 119 times.  And I didn't even do any marketing.  That's pretty great for a newbie author like me.  Right now -- not free on Amazon.  Tell them to get a clue will ya?  (Seriously.  Tell them it's free on Barnes and Noble.  Just go to my page and click on 'tell us about a lower price.'  If enough people tell them, they will change it)

Can I get any more distracted??
Okay, back to my original rant!!!
So I did every little baby thing that Smashwords told me to do.  Plus I did all the things that other websites told me to do.  I took out all my formatting, blah blah blah blah blah.  I'm not going to go into all that stuff because it's the most boringest thing ever.  One hard part was actually the emotional part -- letting go of all the good stuff that Scrivener does for you and realizing that I can manually put it all back in.
Anyhow, I did everything, and uploaded it.
And wow!  Was I excited because their automated program said that I was good to go!  Alright!!  All that sweat was for something.
(Yes, can you tell that that's not the end of this story??)
And then.. oh.  I got a message.  Okay, let me click on this link...  Oh, phew!  It just says that it doesn't want me to capitalize my book series name.  Okay, that's not hard to fix and wow!  Was I even more ecstatic that that's all the comments that they are going to give me?? Well, let me pat myself on the back here!!  I'm super awesome!!  I totally rock!!

Oh wait... what's this?  Another link to click?  You mean they don't tell you everything at once?  They only tell you One Thing at a Time???  Well, that doesn't seem very efficient.

And the blade falls... Let me show you what they said:
For those of you who can't read that, it says I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING ALL OVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All those hours spent formatting my book -- to Smashword's exact specifications-- were for naught!!
And I love their suggestions.  Guess what guys?? I did that already.  And apparently your eyes are different than mine cuz I don't see nothin wrong with my 'font size's.

And so.. I'm back to struggling with the HATED WORD.  And I'm being so meticulous that I keep messing myself up.   You pretty much have to go over every single damn line a million times to make sure that it's done right.  Okay, not really, but that's how I feel about it right now.  Word puts in formatting even when you don't want it to.  You have to manually tell them -no thanks- and even when you do that, it still thinks it's smarter than you and adds it's own formatting.  You have to check every line and make sure you don't have a two spaces and a return between paragraphs, because that might be interpreted as a big old huge page break if it's placed in a magic spot.  I had to take out all my italics -- so every single thought that my main character thought had to be taken back out and put back in (thank heavens for people on the internet who tell you how to do that in mass so you don't have to do it line by line).  All these little tiny things that you wish there were tiny elves who could read all the lines and do the work for you.

And, oh, isn't it handy that are are people who are so willing to help me?  Sure, just hand over $50 per book (which if this doesn't work, then I just might have to) and we'll make it all better.
We're here to help the small guy.
Which, by the way, the whole Scrivener program costs less that that and you get to keep it forever!!  and it formats alllll the books -- except for Smashwords.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Peace

Stepping out
Looking to find
Is everything OK am I really here?
Remembering the past
Ghosts that flint through my mind
Like cold winds that chill my bone
Certain things
That trigger them:
An angry face, harsh words
the sound of a belt whipping through the air
Send my mind
And emotions
Reeling to the past

It breaks open the ice I have been storing it in

Those feelings,
They are longer needed
I make who I am
I acknowledge them
And move on
I have safety here. And love.

And my child will never feel the torment


  Of violent and unspoken love.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Peroxide Love

I thought I could live in a vacuum
     Guessnot, ohwell.

And here we are.
                    Again.
Ready to discuss my hospitalization.
                So what's your diagnosis? 
      :Cancer of the soul?
      :Did my heart not heal right?
      :Am I allergic to love or
does my indifference show that bad now?

Your silence
     is understood
           and thicker than blood.


Two centuries passed us in the absence of talk
      while my rage paged
                up
                and
                down
                   the waiting room.
     Selfishness is a suit I wear to impress and
caress the undressed (Imakeyounakedeverywhere.)

Revolvers and white chalk lines
Surprised to be an outline?
Love pays the price
for my killing spree
and kindness, goodwill, happy family moments.

I don't get life and you don't get me.

A thousand billion thoughts have filled your silence.
Why are you still hereHaven't you discovered I hate youFriends 
are better as ornamentsIf you love them you leave themMemories never hurt as bad.

Desperation?
Can you hear it screaming behind my voicebox?

iwishyoudgoiwishyoudgoiwishyoudgoiwishyoudgoiwishyoudgoiwishyoudgo
staystaystay                           stay.

Are you talking now?
                        Is it over?
Goodbye.  (really?)  See ya.

The phone slides from my hand
  and
I watch it
like a stunned snake
expecting it to come to life.
But the venom was never the snake's.

I made it myself                  and I drink it
                                                  dose
                                                       by
                                                  dose.
                                                                                    
             Little
   Nurses
like you
           always
want to fix
            Little
Addicts
like us.

                           I hate being fixed
                           and I hate nurses who make home visits.

                   Antibiotic Friends
and Peroxide Love
                   Will
suit me just fine.



Today's guest post is by James Best, ex-boyfriend and writer extraordinaire.  This poem has not been used by permission, so if you know his current contact info, please ask him to contact me.  :D

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Worn

A shoe.
The picture whipped by me
and a million memories came rushing down through my brain,
dripping into my heart.
It was just a shoe.
But it was the only shoe.
The only shoe that could be found within thousands of miles like THAT shoe.

It had been worn
Through the end of the store
Out to the parking lot
And onto rough sands of the Hawaiian shore

The waters were so clear
So beautiful
So clean
So fresh
And alive.

It walked away from true love
To serving others
To finding true love again
And over and over as children came

It walked over sand, pavement, carpets and dirty trails.
Over clear creeks and muddy lakes
Over the sands of Arizona
The parchments of Utah
The beaches of California
The grass of Colorado
The fine sands of Florida

Their soles worn and sighing
But never giving up
The Shoe,
Like her heart.
THAT shoe



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas


She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Heir of Fire is the third book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I picked up all three books in the series a few of months ago and I couldn't wait to start reading! It started out a bit rough in the first book, got a bit better in the second, and then the third book blew my mind!!

The series follows the main character Celaena as she fights her way through life as she discovers who she really is and and what her future holds now that her new identity is revealed. Now exploring a new land and meeting new characters, Celaena must prepare to protect her people from a brewing war on the horizon.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, hence why I gave it a 5 stars. There were so many amazing elements of the book that I didn't want to put it down! 

First I want to talk about the fantasy portions. The first book dabbled in it, the second book was an appetizer, and Heir of Fire was the main attraction! In this book Celaena learns how to use and control her magic and how to use her magic to defeat her enemies. Then we have the witches with razor sharp teeth and claws who are learning to fly using these dragon type creatures for war. And finally we have Dorian back at the castle trying hard to suppress the magic within himself that just wants to unleash itself onto the world.

Heir of Fire also introduces some new characters into the mix and by far one of my favorite characters in the series until now. Rowan, the fae prince. With his tough and hard exterior he exudes strength, wisdom, and power. But when he gets to know Celaena, his exterior begins to crumble and we get to see the vulnerable side of him. I absolutely love when a character has many dimensions to themselves and we get to see them grow as the story progresses.

Sarah J. Maas is a brilliant writer and amazing storyteller. She has mastered the art of character dynamics and world building. Thus, she has created an astounding high fantasy series that I adore and to be honest, wish would never have to end. But I know as long as there is young adult readers, she will produce many more great stories for us to obsess over!

Let me know if you guys are all caught up in the series, or if I've at least piqued your interest in wanting to begin it. I'll be honest with you... you won't be disappointed!

See ya next time,

Jesse Nicholas






Jesse Nicholas, todays guest blogger, lives in Manitoba, Canada. He is an aspiring writer and one day wishes to have a novel published. Along with writing, Jesse enjoys music, travel, trashy TV, and is an avid reader of anything in the Young Adult genre. He currently posts reviews on the YA novels he reads on his blog, and spends hours upon hours coming up with ideas for a future novel.  You can read other book reviews on his blog.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Your name... a sigh on my lips

What an odd thing -- names.
It's not you
     but altogether becomes you.
Parents deciding labels
for such events
     as
          -front porch yelling
          -automobile registration
          -writing of checks
Some people nod
and say, "Oh, that name fits,"
or "i thought that would be your name."
These people are liars.

Names begin at birth
but don't end at death.
Well loved names get polished rocks
named after them.
And people drop cut flowers there
     so you and the flowers and the name-rock
can be worn away
     by time and worm and element.

Those especially known names are given
to large pieces of concrete and glass.

And your name?
Exhaled air, collected sounds.
Only a word, like a thousand billion other words.
This word that
feels as new
          as squid on my tongue;
feels as odd
          as mercury in my hand.

Your name sends blue racers
down my spine.

My mind has become a haunted house.
Your name being the flitting ghosts
I catch in the corner of my ear.

I pester the mailbox for your name.
My sigh sounds like your name.

But your name,
     has never beckoned you like a genie.
          Your name is not
                              your hand in mine.
Neither does forming it on my lips
                   bring the form of your lips
                                  to
                               press mine.

Still,
     I catch myself
tracing your name with my finger
on the table.


Today's guest post is by James Best, ex-boyfriend and writer extraordinaire.  This poem has not been used by permission, so if you know his current contact info, please ask him to contact me.  :D

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Need Me

The man stood with his hand on the phone, staring out
Emotions washed over him
Shock
Denial
What the hell did I just do?

The girl on the other side,
Crying.
Pushing away the pain.
Wishing she didn’t have to do it
Wishing that he would just get over it.
Why can’t he just admit it?

At the beginning
Their affair was fast
Slamming into her like a train
The 10 page letters, late night phone calls and passionate pleas of connection.
I want you, I need you
Always implied, but left unsaid.

Their relationship drew them in closer
No subject was untouched
Sex under the church pew
Late night skinny dipping
Exploring as a child
Seeing porn for the first time
Broken homes
Fathers missing
Fathers hitting
Hiding under the covers
Fear

Yet, the closer they grew
The further he flew
Faster, harder, wilder
This is too much for me, toomuchforme.

If I stay, I’ll crack open and you can See Inside.
Me.

Until it was too late
And she was gone
Desperate for the connection
But needing the contact

And so he said, “Screw it.”
I don’t need you, you are the one who needs me
I don’t need you, youneedme
need 
Me.


My name is Fleur.
And this is my blog.