Empire of Storms

Hey all! So I know it’s been a while but school and life have been mega crazy lately.

So recently I finished the new Sarah J Maas novel Empire of Storms and I’m. In. Love. 

A bit of background on this for me: I’ve been reading Sarah’s books for about a year now but I read everything that she had published in a little over a month. Her writing is fabulous and her world building makes me swoon. So do her characters.

EOS was no different. This isn’t a review per say but I do want to talk a little bit about it (no spoilers don’t worry!). 

First of all I want to talk about the perfection of details that SJM puts in her books. She brought back things that I hadn’t thought about in a very long time. Her reintroduction of these small (but significant) bits of information was done near flawlessly. Something minor we dismissed in say Queen of Shadows turned out to be instrumental to EOS. I’d love to go into a gushing tangent about her skill in this regard (reminded me a lot of Cassandra Clare’s talent with it to tell you the truth) but if I did that it would be a very, very long post and I don’t think I want to do that to anyone who might be awesome enough to read this. So I’ll leave it at that and move on.

Next I want to discuss the storyline. Holy plot twists Batman. Did I see that coming? Nope, never, not at all. But that’s the mark of a talented writer. The mark of an even better one is when they pull it off seamlessly. Without spoilers it’s hard to talk about the plot in more than vague terms but I’ll give it a shot. 

Essentially the story picked up a short time after Queen of Shadows left off. Not much time had passed but enough that we weren’t in the exact same moment. Days to weeks at most between times. I thought this was well done because books that pick up at the exact moment the previous one ended for me always feel rushed. Giving the characters time to react and digest the previous ending always makes for a more interesting beginning. But that’s just my opinion.

We do pick up the story in Terrasen but one thing I will tell you all is we don’t get to see much of this beloved country. The story follows Aelin and her court closest obviously but we see quite a bit on Manon Elide as well. Their stories are just as essential as our court’s even if they are all in different places (or are they . . .).

So I guess that’s a good segue into characters! We saw a lot of semi-familiar faces throughout the book and they all served their purpose to further the story. I don’t think there was a single person in this story who I felt could’ve been left out. Each person’s story was intertwined well with the overall plot. We got a little bit of Lysandra’s POV but that’s one thing I wish we could’ve seen more of. We got some great Aedion moments and I won’t spoil anything but Aedion is now a character with a very special place in my heart.

So now that I’ve given a bunch of vague teasers and gushed my way through the basics, let’s get down to the fun parts.

Things I loved about EOS:

  • The language! I am a super picky reader. Not to say I don’t have about 7 billion books I love but there’s a difference between loving a book for the plot and loving a book because it grips your soul. For me all soul-gripping books have fabulous language. And EOS did not disappoint in that regard. SJM is one author who knows how to wield words like the weapons they are. I could feel how each and every word was chosen carefully in order to reach the novel’s full potential. Now there were a few points where I thought the phrasing could have been done better but they were few and far between and overall didn’t detract from the beauty of the story in any way. 10/10 on the language she used.
  • The settings! Okay so I told you before we don’t get to see a lot of Terrasen BUT we do get a few fabulous new places to see. I loved the introduction of new settings into this story. She built these places strongly and vividly. One thing I was disappointed on here though was that at one point we see ruins, and these ruins are supposed to be this creepy, chilling place. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that when I read about them. I felt a little too much distance. But I know other people HAVE felt that creeped out feeling when they were reading that part, so I’m going to chalk this one up to personal issues and leave it be. Plus she makes up for that (in my opinion at least) when she writes about other places Aelin and her court visit. It felt like I was there with them nearly every step of the way. That was how good the settings were done. I give it a 9/10 on this aspect of the novel.
  • The plot twists! I said it earlier and I’ll say it again–HOLY PLOT TWISTS BATMAN! Now these weren’t as shocking as say a “you’re brother and sister” kind of thing (any Cassie Clare fans out there? Any at all? Please?) but they were substantial enough that they warrant talking about. For example, Aelin will always be Aelin. We can see how she’s growing and learning but she will always have something up her sleeve that we did not see coming. That’s part of the fun I think. Knowing that she’s got to have some trick up her sleeve and wondering what it is or when she’s going to reveal it. But she’s not the only one. Lets just say we didn’t see the last of Maeve in Wendlyn. Which is really just too bad. We get more than a few confirmations of things we’ve all been waiting for as well. Plus a few bombs dropped we probably would have rather not found out. So many twists and turns to this novel. Gods and monsters and plots, oh my! 10/10 on this (but really more like 50000/10 because wow). 

Things I didn’t like as much:

  • The sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes in EOS. I was little surprised when I came across the first one (I hadn’t read any spoilers or hints at all about this book before diving in). I don’t think they detract from the book in any way. In fact they show significant moments and give us a lot of insight to what’s really happening in the characters’ heads. They were done very well and not at all overly long or cringe worthy. This is just a personal preference I have that I don’t much like sex scenes. That, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t expecting them, made me not as much a fan of seeing them there. But looking at it from SJM’s point of view I can understand why she added them in there. 
  • The way some characters were introduced. So I haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade yet. I discovered that I probably should have while reading EOS. A lot of characters who come into play throughout the story aren’t fully introduced because they had their own short stories with Aelin in The Assassin’s Blade. Well, if you haven’t read it yet (or you’re like me and didn’t know to read it beforehand) that can be a little annoying. I was able to fill in the gaps by clues and context, but I would have preferred to know full back stories. Moral here: read The Assassin’s Blade before EOS if you can.
  • The distribution of POVs. GIVE ME MORE LYSANDRA! I WANT MORE LYSANDRA! It was all fairly even distribution between characters except for her. So that was sort of disappointing. Personally I’d rather have had less Lorcan and more Lysandra. And more Aedion too if possible.

I know a lot of people took issue with the fact that Chaol wasn’t in this book but I think it makes perfect sense not to include him. Let him heal in the south and bring him back in the final novel. Overall not many things in this book that were problems. The issues I did have aren’t all big things and they didn’t take away at all from how much I loved this book. I would have devoured it in a day if I could have but I’ve been so busy with school and other things that I’ve barely had time to read. 

I highly recommend this or any Sarah J Maas book to anyone and everyone. She’s a fantastic writer and one of my favorites. It’s no secret that I want to be her when I grow up (no I’m not a grown up I’m just a college student shhh that doesn’t make me a grown up). One thing I will warn you about: you will cry. There is no way around it. Accept your fate. Tears will be shed because holy hell this book is emotionally stacked. That’s all the warnings I’m going to give though.

So I hope this made sense and wasn’t too bad of a review/reaction. Now I’m going to go crank out another 2k words on my WIP (almost halfway done!) so I’ll talk to you soon! 

GO READ EMPIRE OF STORMS!

Kailey

Rejection & Random Thoughts

So rejection sucks. Shocker I know.

But here’s the thing: rejection doesn’t mean you’re not good. It means you’re not the right fit for whoever it is that rejected you. 

So far in the past month I’ve been rejected by four agents and all of the mentors I submitted to for Pitch Wars. And one thing they’ve all been sure to stress to me is that just because I’m getting rejected does not mean I am not a good writer. It just means that they are not the right fit for me. I need to keep going and find someone who is. And that’s something I wanted to share with all of you.

Now onto the random thoughts portion of this blog. In the past week I’ve moved into an apartment and started classes as a college junior. Because of this I haven’t had any time to write (boo). However one of my classes is a screenwriting class (um just a teeny bit different from novels right?) and my professor has mandated that we write for a half hour a day.

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! Not only is it forcing me to write every day (which I should be doing anyway) but it’s forcing me to develop a routine. Writing schedules are super mega important!!! I don’t have one (even though I said I was going to for this year oops) and I know know know how much that kills so many of my ideas. 

GET ON A WRITING SCHEDULE PEOPLE!

Ok that’s all. My project list is currently three ideas deep and I’m on an internal deadline of October 9th for a first draft of one so I gotta get back to work.

Go soak in some good words or something else that sounds weird and smart. Or don’t, you know, whichever.

Kailey

Balancing Act

Hi there! So I’m heading back to school tomorrow (boo) and start classes on Wednesday (yikes). And since I am still waiting to hear about Pitch Wars (even though I have a pretty solid idea where I stand there) I’m not editing my MS. Instead, I’m working on two new projects that I am in love with.

It’s pretty weird working in an entirely different world than the one from my first book. One of my projects is set in two separate universes and another is set in our world like my first MS. Except this time it’s without the magic added in. 

I’ve been working pretty steadily on those two projects, switching off and trying to reach my desired word count for the week on each one. So far I’ve made a decent dent in both.

Now that I start school though things are about to change. This past month I’ve been able to sit down and spend as much time writing as possible since I worked from home. Now I’ll be balancing writing with classes and assignments. This is something I’ve done poorly in the first two years I’ve been in college and for this year I’m planning to do things differently. This year I have a plan of attack.

So in order to meet my internal deadlines and make wc goals each week I’ve decided to set aside a time to write every day. I’ve also put a set wc goal on my writing and I intend to meet that goal (if not exceed it) every day. Other people I know have done similar things and it’s worked very well. I’m an extremely chaotic person so I have no idea if working under a schedule will help me or not, but I thought it would be a place to start at least.

Anyway that’s the update on my life. I hope you guys are good. Go read a good book. Or if you want go write one!

Kailey 

Book ABCs

Hi all! So I want to apologize for not posting in the past couple of weeks. I did say I don’t have a set posting schedule though! So I mean I warned you right? (Okay I know it’s a poor excuse. Sorry!)

Anyway, I entered Pitch Wars! Currently I’m waiting to hear from mentors and oh my GOSH is it nervewracking! But I’m working on distracting myself. I have a new work in progress (actually two but that’s a whole other story) and I’m doing my best to get a decent word count on it before the 25th when I find out if I got chosen or not as a mentee.

So one of the distractions I chose for today was this. I was bored and couldn’t focus so I decided to do a fun little thing. Here are my favorite books I own from A-Z.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Born at Midnight – C. C. Hunter

City of Heavenly Fire – Cassandra Clare

Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover – Ally Carter

Emerge – Tobie Easton

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Grave Dance – Kalayna Price

Huntress – L. J. Smith

Iron Queen – Julie Kagawa

Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

Killer Instinct – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Last Sacrifice – Richelle Mead

My Soul to Steal – Rachel Vincent

Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale – Christine Warren

Oh. My. Gods. – Tera Lynn Childs

Paper Towns – John Green

Queen of Shadows – Sarah J Maas

Red Queen – Victoria Aveyard

Sword of Summer – Rick Riordan

Truthwitch – Susan Dennard

Unhinged – A. G. Howard

V

Wicked Lovely – Melissa Marr

X

Y

Zombie Queen of Newbury High – Amanda Ashby

I did my best not to repeat authors. Some of the letters were hard to find among my books. As you can see I couldn’t find anything at all on my bookshelf for a few letters. But I 100% recommend all of these books and authors!

Honorable Mentions: Cress by Marissa Meyer, Forget you by Jennifer Echols, Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas, Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep & The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

What are some of your favorite books?

Kailey

#PitchWars

Hello all!

So last week I was messagingĀ Tobie Easton about her fabulous book Emerge (finished it recently and it was fantastic). I asked her for advice when you’re querying and she suggested I enter the #PitchWars contest. I told her thank you and that I’d probably enter it.

Well, at the time, I had no idea what that was.

Looking it up I was able to get a good understanding of what this contest is about. Basically, this is a contest where, if you have a full manuscript, you can submit it to four mentors. Those mentors will then choose from the pile of submissions who they want to be a mentor to. If your manuscript is chosen then you work with your mentor for about two months to edit and improve it. Once you’re done with that it goes up for the agent round. Agents sift through the queries and manuscripts and, if you’re lucky, might decide to offer you representation.

I think that made sense. I hope that made sense. Since I’m terrible at explaining these kinds of things I suggest you go check out this post from the creator of the contest Brenda Drake.

I know now that I’m entering the contest. Even if I don’t get chosen by a mentor it’s a great opportunity. Plus it’s FREE to enter (unless you want to donate and get to submit to two extra mentors!). A lot of stuff is not free and so I feel like taking advantage of free contests is really important. Especially when you’re a college student on a budget.

Maybe I’m the only person on the planet who didn’t know what #PitchWars was until last week. Maybe not. But I hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll at least look into the contest. It’s a great opportunity and I’d love for someone else to take advantage of it and maybe get the chance to work with a mentor. Submissions open on August 3rd so go check this out!

Alrighty well I’m off to work on my next project! LOOK AT THIS FABULOUS CONTEST!

Kailey

Save Me A Spark

Yesterday I spent the entire day at Vans Warped Tour. This was my second time at warped and I had an amazing day watching bands and meeting people. 

One of the things I got to do was go to a class with Kellin Quinn and Nick Martin of Sleeping With Sirens. In this class they talked about what inspired them and gave them their spark. Music.

It got me thinking about what my spark is. Writing. 

Basically the spark they talked about is what makes you feel good or like you’re contributing to your world. It’s what you’re passionate about and you love doing. For me that’s writing.

I’ve known since my freshman year of high school that I wanted to write books for a living. It’s something I love doing more than anything. A year after that I finished my very first novel. I wrote it by hand in a notebook that was supposed to be for my biology class. 

But writing led me to create so many things. It led me to want to draw, to sing, to take photos. Writing weirdly opened up an entire creative world to me. It led me to friends I never would’ve met otherwise. And it’s given me so much happiness. 

The way Kellin and Nick talked about their spark, I know that writing is mine. Writing is probably the spark for a lot of you, too. But I want to hear it anyway. Tell me: what is your spark?

Kailey

To Outline or Not to Outline . . .

That is the question.

Recently I was at a convention where I had the opportunity to talk to some amazing authors. I was even able to talk with Susan Dennard one-on-one for a while (she’s so sweet!). They were all very kind and had great advice.

One thing they talked about was outlining. The authors at the conference were pretty split on this issue. Some outline and some don’t. Personally, I didn’t outline my first novel. And now I’m in the middle of outlining my next one.

One thing I’ve learned about the process (from my own experience and from advice given by others) is that it IS helpful. I prefer to just write everything out and then go back and check on the details to make sure everything lines up and flows correctly. That’s what I like to do and that’s what worked on my first book.

Working on my second book, it was obvious there were too many details and small plot points to just write it all out. So now I’m working on the outline for book two and, as much as I absolutely loathe it, it’s going to help me in the long run I can tell.

Ultimately, I know it’s my choice whether I want to outline or not. And when you get down to it it’s about the same amount of time spent. Say I spend two days writing my outline. That’s about what it took me to go back through my first novel making sure I got everything correct. And the more detailed the book is, the more time I’ll spend going through to check it. Same with working on the outline.

Ultimately it’s your call if you want to outline a project. If you think you can do it without an outline go for it! It’s all about you being comfortable with your writing and molding your work into what you want it to be. If you think you can get there without an outline then more power to you!

I’m not sure if this was helpful or not. I’m not even sure it made much sense (I hope it did). If you found this helpful, great!

Just want to point out I will not be posting every day. At least, not once classes start back up. I don’t really think I’ll be posting on a regular basis. I only wanted to post this because I am currenly working on an outline and so the ideas are fresh in my mind. But I hope you don’t mind my weird as hell schedule once it starts up.

Okay that’s it! Back to outlining for me. Ugh šŸ˜¦ Bye!

Kailey