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Showing posts from September, 2013

New Releases: Where the Stars Still Shine; All the Truth That's In Me; Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer

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Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She's never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love--even with someone who seems an improbable choice--is more than just a possibility.
 All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored b…

What's Up Wednesday

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I thought I might try something new on Wednesdays. What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to help writers stay in touch.

What I'm Reading
It's a complicated mixture right now. My main focus is on The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien for a class (on Tolkien). I have about two weeks to read it so that's taking a good amount of my time. Also on my shelf with bookmarks in them are Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (a reread I started before the movie came out, to give you an idea of how long I've been at it) and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

What I'm Writing
The occasional short story that strikes my fancy mostly. I'm neck-deep in revisions for Cursed Kind. Some of the changes are relatively major so I need to be sure that they're making sense and fit with what's already there. Mostly clarifying motivations and upping the stakes. 

What Inspires Me
My friends, in more ways than one. I have the three be…

Heroes and Why I Can't Stop Watching It

I know I'm late to the Heroes party (given that it was cancelled four years ago) but I'm addicted. Like genuinely "can't stop watching, thinking about it all the time, curled up in bed for hours watching episode after episode, seriously considering staying up all night" addicted. It's one of those shows that I probably should have saved for Christmas or summer break because I would easily finish it in less than two weeks.

If you've never seen it, Heroes is about a group of people with special powers trying to save the world. It reminds me of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (which starts today and I'm SO EXCITED) and X-Men, but it's also it's own show.

I started watching it on Tuesday and I finished up the first season on Sunday, despite the fact that I have Actual Things to do (like go to class. Once I get started, it's really hard to stop. I expect to finish the second season tomorrow, if not today. 

My favorite thing about the show is th…

College: 5 Tips for Reducing Procrastionation and Getting Stuff Done

In an attempt to organize my life and make sure I'm staying on top of things for once, I've started a new routine. It seems to be working so far, though we'll see if I can stick with it as the year goes on.

1. Move to a different area 
I'm used to doing my homework sitting in bed or on the couch, but I find doing work in a place where I would normally relax makes it difficult for me to concentrate. So I cleaned off and organized my desk and set up shop there. It helps to put me into a focusing mindset and cut down on distractions. For especially long study sessions, a trip to the library can be big for motivation.

2. Turn off the Internet 
Shut down any open tabs that aren't related to your homework. It'll keep you from being tempted to click over to Facebook or Tumblr "just for a few minutes." If you give yourself short breaks, don't use websites that are known time sucks. I tried to use Tumblr for homework breaks, but I would give myself five m…

Flash Fiction: Kiss in the Rain

This is a bit of a sequel to last week's piece “The Umbrella.” I thought of it while I was sitting in stats class for some reason. I just really love "kiss in the rain" stories.

It’s sunny when Jake texts me. We’ve talked every day since the time we shared the umbrella. Turns out we went to rival high schools and are both obsessed with old cartoons. It gives us a lot to talk about.

Walk with me to the lake? 

Meet me in ten. 

It’s a nice day, probably one of the last few for a long time, so I pull on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Jake’s waiting for me outside the building, dressed in a muscle shirt and cargo shorts. He pulls it off strangely well.

It’s only a fifteen minute walk down to the beach from campus. My hand brushes against Jake’s several times before he finally catches it and twines his fingers with mine.

When we get to the beach, there are clouds rolling in from across the water. “You don’t think it’s going to rain, do you?” I ask.

He shrugs. “You know anythin…

New Releases - Frozen, The Burning Sky, Tumble & Fall

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Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston Heart of Dread #1  Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and de…

RTW -- To Boldly Go...

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

  This week’s topic:  This month's Bookmobile selection, STARGLASS by Phoebe North, takes place on a generation starship. But the characters wouldn't be there if their ancestors hadn't left Earth with the hope of their descendants one day colonizing elsewhere. Would you go on a generation starship, if given the opportunity? Why or why not? At the time of writing this, I'm watching Star Trek: Into Darkness for the second time in three days. While I would prefer to be the person born on the ship so that I could have a chance of seeing new wo…

College: Tips for Cold Season Reprint

This is a partial reprint of my post from last September. It's cold season once more. I was sick two weekends ago and the cough is sticking around. At the same time, most of my roommates got sick along with half of campus. Here are some tips on how to get through it as quickly as possible.

Drink plenty of fluids
The biggest thing when you're sick is to stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water or your favorite drink in your bag when you're running around campus. I also recommend tea, especially green tea. Peppermint is my personal favorite for when I'm sick, especially if there's a sore throat involved.

Rest
This is the best thing for getting better. If you have the chance to take a nap, do it. If not, try to relax and get as much sleep as possible. If you're sick, I don't recommend running around outside, especially if it's cold. The more running around you do, the more likely it's going to take longer for you to get better.

Skip class only if yo…

Flash Fiction: Umbrella

It's raining and gloomy outside right now (and has been off and on for the past few days). I was staring out the window when this little fic popped into my head.


Rain poured down when I stepped out of class. I reached into my backpack, but the only things in there were my books and my paper.

I took out my umbrella the day before, to give myself more room. Right.

Nothing to do for it now. I had to cross campus in order to get back to the dorms. I stuffed my hands into my hoodie pocket, scrunched up my shoulders, and stepped out.

Within a few steps, the rain was running down my face.

A few more and I could feel it soaking through my hoodie and my jeans rasped against my legs.
I pulled the hood up over my head, but it did little to protect me from the driving rain. I hunched over as a cold wind blew out of the north and blasted straight into my face.

I should have stayed in bed.

I was only about a quarter of the way across campus when a boy’s voice caught my attention. “Umbrella?” h…

New Releases: Fangirl, Antigoddess, Living with Jackie Chan

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile an…

RTW -- Quarterly Check-In

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

  This week’s topic: Quarterly check-in: we did one in March and one in July. Now that we're 3/4 of the way through the year, how are you doing on your goals? What? No. Not possible. We can't be three-quarters of the way through 2013 already, right??Wow. Goals-wise, I'm back in school, which means I'm back to settling into my usual routine.  My reading goal for this year was 100 and, once again, I won't be meeting it. I'm up to 23 right now. I'd be higher, but I'm currently reading three books at the same time (one classic, o…

Rose Under Fire is HERE

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Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY. IT'S HERE. I hesitantly read Code Name Verity last year after weeks of hearing glowing recommendations and praise. I'm cautious about reading books that I've only heard good things about, because my expectations can end up being far too high. 
My expectations were extremely high going in...and absolutely blown away. It was a gorgeously written book that shattered my heart and contained one of the most amazing plot twists I've read. 
I'm so excited to get my hands on this book!

College: Getting Involved on Campus

Classes are starting and students are heading back to school. College isn't all classes and homework and partying. There are lots of clubs and events that students can get involved in.

Start looking into your options early. If there's a club fair, go wander around and find out more about anything that catches your attention. Most clubs have interest meetings that you can attend without committing. Here you can find out more about the club and what they do. I recommend attending these meetings widely and then cherry-picking the ones that you're really interested in.

Consider getting involved within student government. This can be a great opportunity for leadership experience, planning events, meeting people, and getting your voice heard.

Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Pick one or two clubs to begin with, keeping track of the time commitment involved. Some clubs require more time than others, especially those that put on a lot of events. Clubs typically …

Flash Fiction: Don't Stay Out After Dark

This fic was inspired by this Tumblr post containing the writing prompt "Use some or all of these in a story or poem: A vampire, a stolen debit card, and a coconut."

Everyone knows the streets aren’t safe after dark. Sometimes, if I can’t sleep, I’ll tug back the curtains and peek out the windows.

Outside, the world is dark and silent. It seems that even the stars are afraid to come out. The trees rustle. Garbage tumbles through the streets. An occasional stray cat or dog will dash down the alleyway.

If I look closely, I can catch a flash of movement in the darkest shadows, the predators of the night hunting for anyone foolish enough to get caught outside after dark.

Anyone like me.

I pull my coat up closer around my body, trying to block out the cold winter wind that is cutting through my layers. I wouldn’t be out here if it wasn’t for my stupid debit card. I’m sure it was in my pocket when I left the grocery store, but when I got home and checked, it was gone.

Really…

New Releases: The 100, Conjured, Starry Nights

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The 100 by Kass Morgan In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst Eve has a new home, a new face, and a new name—but no memories of her past. She’s been told that she's in a witness protection program. That she escaped a dangerous magic…

Tracking Productivity

When you're working on a WIP, sometimes it can be useful to keep track of how much you are progressing. This is especially true when setting word count goals. There are a number of different ways to track progress when drafting.

The easiest is to write down what the word count on your document is before starting a period of drafting and then again at the end. This can be difficult to remember to do, however, especially if you're anxious to get started on a scene.

When I used Word for writing, I would change the text color to red at the start of a writing session and then, to see what my word count for that day was, I would just select the red text. This works well if you remember to change text color before you start writing and then remember to change it back to black before you start another session.

Some programs have functions that keep track of session word count on their own. Scrivener does this and allows you to set goals that it lets you know when they are met.

Once …