National Novel Writing Month 2017

Hi. Hello. Salutations my friends. Happy Halloween the 12th.

Yeah, I’m being weirder than usual. Sorry about that.

Today’s post is brought to you by a caffeine headache, my favorite hockey team failing at hockey, and staring at a project I haven’t touched in a year for an hour without typing a single word. These should help explain my scrambling.

Today I want to talk about NaNoWriMo. I did a post about it last year as well, but some things have changed. For starters, I know how hard it is to write a novel in a month now. (Confession: after I hit the 50k word limit last year I put the project away and haven’t touched it since. It’s still only 2/3 of the way done, almost a year later.)

Writing 50k words in 30 days sounds daunting on its own. Once you try it? You realize it’s beyond daunting. It’s horrible. And I’m not talking about the experience. I’m talking about “I actually wrote this? These are words that actually came from my brain and I thought they made sense? I thought this was good???”

My NaNo draft from last year needs a lot of work. And I’m not talking about just being unfinished. NaNoWriMo is tough, and requires a TON of editing after the fact, just like any other first draft.

So, I know what you’re thinking. “This is the part where she tells us she’s not doing it this year. It’s too hard to finish. She can’t do it. That’s what’s changed.”

Well, you would be WRONG.

I announced my NaNo novel two nights ago, and I’m nervous and unsure if I can really manage it this year, but I fully plan on participating. You can read all about the story I plan on writing here. (Also–be my friend! I need more writing buddies!)

Now I’ve probably confused you. “If she’s participating, what’s changed?”

I am SO glad you asked! I have a few things to say, along with some advice to go along with them.

  1. I am actually writing with a full outline this year. Yeah. I don’t recommend being me last year, only using a partial outline and hoping for the best. Really, it’s not smart. If you don’t like outlines, hey more power to you. I’ve been bitten in the butt too many times without one. I now require one before starting to write. But please, if you’re going to outline (and I recommend it) use a good one. Detail it. Have a plan. Trust me, you will thank yourself when you sit down to write your 1,300 words for the day.
  2. I will be working around a full schedule. Unlike last year, when I was mostly working around school, I’ll be doing Actual Adult Things in November (but also school). Between major papers, presenting at a conference, and other important obligations, I’m getting a taste of what a deadline looks like with a busy life. Which, this will hopefully be what my life looks like after college. So, I’m looking forward to working like this. Nervous, but it’s practice for the real world, so looking forward to it.
  3. I’m working in my comfort zone. Last year I tackled a multi-POV contemporary suspense (is that a thing? I’m saying it’s a thing). I’ve worked in dual POV before, but never more than that. My novel last year alternated between SIX points of view. Not to mention I’d never so much as touched a suspense plot before. This year I’m working with one point of view, in a genre I’ve worked with before. I’m always one for pushing the comfort zone and making yourself into a better writer, but when you’re hitting so many words in so little time, sticking to your comfort zone is not necessarily a bad thing. If you think you can handle it, then absolutely push your limits. But don’t push so far that you end up leaving the project in a folder for a year, not because you don’t love the idea, but because it’s just so bad and pushing yourself caused that.

Honestly, I love the idea of giving my inner editor time to rest. She is so overworked. Giving her this project off is something I am very much looking forward to doing.

If you want information about National Novel Writing Month go to their website! I hope to see all of you in my writing buddies list very soon.

Enjoy the rest of your Halloween the 12th!

Kailey

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Daughter of the Burning City – Review!

Hey all! 

I feel like I always start these posts with “It’s been a while. That’s a theme I’m working on changing.” so I’m not doing that this time. I will tell you that I have some (super secret) plans, but for now you’ll have to accept this review as a start.

I have a few life things first I’d like to share with everyone. So I started my senior year of college(!) about a month ago. I’m doing some stuff to prepare for the final things I have to get done this semester and next. Working on some grad school applications. Prepping a paper to present at a conference in November. All the fun stuff, you know?

I haven’t been able to write much because of all this. Or read much, sadly. BUT two nights ago I FINALLY finished DOTBC and I’m so ready to tell you guys all about it!

Let’s do this.

From Amazon:

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires 

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show. 

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered. 

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca. Their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.”

Back in July I made a post with Amanda Foody about why you should read this book. Now that I HAVE read this book, I’m going to tell you guys again: you need to read this book.

Okay, obviously you don’t need to do anything. But I highly recommend you read this book. Here’s some reasons why:

1. The plot will keep you guessing.
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know my absolute adoration for a good plot twist. Don’t give me obvious ones. Don’t do it. I will hate it. I did not hate these.
Sorina’s investigations into the murders of her family is one that has a lot of potential suspects. The way she goes about identifying people, and the lengths she’s willing to go to to protect them are unsurprising. She has a lot of love for her illusions, her family, and there’s not much she isn’t willing to give up to keep them safe. 

2. The characters are my loves. Again, if you’ve read my previous reviews, you know I want my characters layered. I love a good, complex character who doesn’t always fit with what we would consider the norm.
Sorina is The Girl Who Can See Without Eyes. She can be selfish and stubborn, indecisive and frustrating, and will do anything to protect her family, even when “anything” isn’t always the best course of action. So, naturally, I think she’s amazing. She’s also bisexual. But that’s a later point.
Her illusions are all complicated individuals as well. Despite being created by Sorina for her company, they all have distinct personalities and don’t necessarily mesh well with her. They’re vividly described and each have their own lives. When it comes to characters that aren’t exactly “real” this can be difficult to convey, because you’re trying to balance the idea of a “real” person with that of an “imaginary” one. Lines can become blurry and authors might slip into language that clearly shows “these are not real people don’t forget that” (not that all authors do this. Most don’t. But it’s very easy to slip into that language unconsciously). We never really forget that Sorina’s family were created, not born, but we don’t care about that. They appeal to us as people because they are just as lively as the “real” humans are. Sometimes even more so.

I will not say anything about Luca other than he is very special to me, as he reminds me a bit of a close friend of mine. Luca must be protected at all times. Unless you want to slap him for being an ass, which he can be. Then by all means please slap him.

3. It’s set in a traveling circus. The coolest one too. It’s a pretty badass place to grow up and, honestly, I would’ve loved to see more of it. We’re given pretty good descriptions of a few different places in the Gomorrah Festival, but one thing I wish we could’ve gotten some more of was the darker part of the city. I want to be transported there when I read–and for the most part I was–but I would’ve liked just a little more. Still, it’s a setting I loved and I think most readers will adore as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of it in the future . . .

4. The diversity is EVERYTHING. We get characters of different racial backgrounds, diversity in appearance and ability, and so much LGBTQIA+ rep my heart was full.

Take Sorina, for example. She’s a Down-Mountainer by birth and was a slave as a child. She’s described as having distinguishing features (no not just her lack of eyes) and isn’t looked down upon by her fellow performers because of it. The festival is full of people from all backgrounds. It’s the Up-Mountainers you’ve got to look out for.

You’ve also got your lovely, lovely LGBTQIA+ rep. Sorina is bisexual. Nicoleta is a lesbian. Luca is, from my reading, demi-sexual and demi-romantic, putting him in the Ace spectrum. Villiam, again from my reading, is aromantic and asexual. Let’s just take a second to appreciate this, okay? Let’s just take one moment to take a deep breath and enjoy this rep.

Did you do it? I did.

5. The overall role of religion. This. Was. Fantastic. I don’t want to get into too much detail here because this is something I think you guys should read for yourselves. But it’s worth mentioning because it plays a HUGE role in the background of the world. Religion and religious fanatics are painted in a way that a lot of us can recognize. It’ll be familiar territory for some, and eye-opening for others. But I think the choice to have it be so prominent in this world Foody has created is ultimately a well-done and slightly twisted (in the best way) one.

So basically what I’m trying to say here is that I really loved this book. I think it was well-written, full of diverse characters, and a fantastic debut. I gave it a 5/5 on Goodreads and I’m fully recommending you guys get this book. From your library, from a bookstore, from a friend, whatever you want! But I really think this is worth the read.

I have free time for the next few days, so I’m off to do a little more reading. Hope this was helpful!

Kailey

Island Of Exiles

HI WORLD HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Did you guys appreciate my excitement and all caps? You really should have. Excitement is a beautiful thing.

So it’s currently 10:57 as I type this I am on spring break and life is good but here’s the thing: I DON’T CARE BECAUSE I FINISHED ISLAND OF EXILES AND IT WAS BLOODY BRILLIANT! (I hope that’s a thing people say)(I’m sorry I’m such a dork).

I’m going to get right into this because I have so much to say about this book. It was truly fantastic.

SO. Island Of Exiles.

First off, let me just say that Erica Cameron is one talented writer. I had the opportunity to read the first few chapters on Wattpad before I could get my hands on the book itself. This was good, as it kept me happy until I was actually able to get to a bookstore (thanks mom).

WOW. Writing = phenomenal. Plot = fantastic. Premise = brand new.

Basically, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book. Now that I have, and have attacked it with the appropriate amount of gusto (aka I read it in one sitting last weekend and only came up for air to hang with my dad for an hour because it was his birthday) I am SO ready to give you my review.

Obviously I hated it. Oh, wait, I spelled “loved” wrong. (I know, my jokes are bad. You’re still here though aren’t you?)

Getting down to the review portion of this post now. For real this time.

In my Windwitch review I mentioned how I loved that romantic love was not the focus. Yeah, Island is much the same way. Romance has a presence, but it is small and not nearly as important as the other relationships. Family carries a lot of weight for Khya and I loved seeing that in a genre that tends to dismiss familial reltionships at times. Khya’s reltionship with her brother Yorri was at the core of the novel and it shaped the story around it beautifullly.

While love might not be the most important thing, I saw a little bit of it here and there. Tessen, who is my new favorite character in the entire world, is the male love interest for Khya, but that doesn’t mean he’s got her running after him. Truly the opposite. The dynamic between these two is intense and left me wanting more more MORE of them on the page. But, even then, it is not romance that holds them together. It’s a complicated, electric dynamic that filled in the peripheral and central stories.

The landscape was also a character in itself. It had a very Australia feel, from what I know of the continent. I couldn’t picture this story set anywhere else, otherwise it would have been a very different plot altogether.

One more thing that fits into the world in a different, but just as important, way: LGBTQIA+ representation is spilling off the page. In Island, bisexuality is the norm and asexuality is accepted without blinking an eye. There are three genders, male, female and ebet. I don’t want to mess up an explanation about ebets so I’ll leave the explaining to Erica Cameron. But, simply put, ebets are intersex.

See what I mean about representation? And, trust me, it is necessary to the overall story. Cameron weaved this into her world-building seamlessly and made it essential to her story.

The way this book was written hooked me in. I love when language is put to use in a detailed and deliberate way. Overall this read quickly and I had trouble putting it down to do my actual, class-required reading.(plot twist: I didn’t. I finished the book first, then did my work. Don’t tell my profs guys). 110% recommend.

Sorry for getting this review up so late. It seems like a theme with my posts lately, sadly. I’m working on it.

Okay, I’m off to enjoy my spring break with-surprise-a book! Bye!!

Kailey

Most Anticipated Books of 2017

Happy new year!! A couple of days late, but the thought is still there. I hope everyone had a safe and happy new year. Since it’s only been two days, I don’t have much to say as far updates. I’ve gotten a little farther in outlining one of my stories? That’s about it. So, let’s get down to talking about books!

Alright so the title is a little bit misleading. Maybe these aren’t the “most” anticpated books of 2017. And I guess this isn’t an “official” list. But for my first post of the new year, I thought I’d share a few books that I’m looking forward to being released this year. So, without further ado, here’s my top ten books as of today that I’m looking forward to coming out this year:

  1. Windwitch by Susan Dennard. The sequel to Truthwitch, one of my top five favorite books of all time (I’m not exaggerating)(when I read this I devoured it)(I told the author and she gave me a hug). I’m looking forward to the continued adventures of Safi and Iseult, plus all of the other beloved characters that sucked me into their world last summer. I know how hard the author worked on this (all authors work hard but if you follow her you’ll know she worked herself into creative exhaustion for this novel). I can’t wait to see how that pays off. Take me back to the world of the Witchlands! Genre: YA Fantasy. Release Date: January 10th. Purchase: Amazon B&N
  2. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody. Carnivals, and illusions, and murder, oh my! This debut author caught my eye back when I was applying to Pitch Wars. She has woven a tale of murder and romance all set in a travelling circus that has me drooling in anticipation. And her novel aesthetics? Swoon. Genre: YA Fantasy. Release Date: July 25th. Putchase: Amazon B&N
  3. Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta. Yet another author I found through Pitch Wars. While working on revising I got to talk to Demitria a bit and she was kind enough to critique my query letter. The description of this particular book grabbed my attention when I was researching her and I’m excited and intrigued to see if it lives up to my expectations (here’s a hint: it will). A bit of mystery? That takes place in Scotland? Sign me up! Genre: YA Fantasy. Release Date: March 14th. Purchase: Amazon B&N
  4. 27 Hours by Tristina Wright. LGBTQIA+ main characters? Deaf main character? Themes of friendship and romance and a story that is positively bursting with conflict? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes PLEASE!! This is a story I stumbled upon accidentally but that I quickly became excited to read. One of my goals for the year was to read more diverse books, and with these characters, this book may just top that list. Genre: YA Sci-Fi. Release Date: October 3rd. Purchase: Amazon
  5. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. If you’re like me, you love love love all things Shadowhunters (well, maybe not the tv show as much)(I’ve only seen a few episodes though. Still going to give it a chance). The Shadowhunters world is one of my favorites. Cassandra Clare is my favorite author. This next installment in the Dark Artifices series is highly anticipated, not just by me, but by all of those who love the characters and the stories, new and old. The continued conflict with the faeries and forbidden romance will make for another late night reading adventure that I cannot wait for. Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal Fantasy. Release Date: May 23rd. Purchase: Amazon B&N
  6. Once and for All by Sarah Dessen. So, Sarah Dessen is the reason I learned to love reading. She’s the reason I decided I want to be a writer. I’ve read everything she’s ever written, and I actually screamed aloud when she announced this book. The classic romance and lessons in learning to love and grow as people call to me with her books. I may or may not have a countdown set for it. If you like teenage romance and lessons in growing up, pick this up. Genre: YA Contemporary. Release Date: June 6th. Purchase: Amazon B&N
  7. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. If you know me at all, you know that SJM is one of my biggest writing influences. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want to be her when I grow up (no 21 is not grown up shhhh). Her work ethic and writing style leaves me in awe. The worlds she creates and the characters she imagines are close to my heart. I have a particular (very deep) love for Feyre and her sisters (both blood and not blood)(Amren and Mor are killer don’t you dare fight me on this), and I have been waiting on the edge of my seat for ACOWAR since last year when A Court of Mist and Fury came out. (I’m serious. I bought ACOMAF the day it came out and finished it that night. Then I turned to my mom and said I want the next book). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this comes out the day finals finish at my school (okay maybe it is but shh don’t ruin this for me). Reward for studying maybe? Genre: YA Fantasy. Release Date: May 2nd. Purchase: Amazon B&N
  8. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. Remember that book from earlier with the queer characters? Remember my excitement? You don’t? WELL GUESS WHAT THIS BOOK HAS LGBTQIA+ REPRESENTATION TOO! I AM VERY EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK TOO! (How about now? Remember that energy yet? Thought so.) But, in addition to this beautiful thing called representation, it deals with very serious issues such as tragic death and mental illness. Mental illness especially is something I think needs more visibility in YA. It’s an issue close to my own heart and I want to see how it’s laid out here. Plus, I am a sucker for a love story gone wrong. I found this book, once again, by accident. Accidents might just be getting me some great new books this year. Genre: YA Contemporary. Release Date: January 17th. Purchase: Amazon B&N
  9. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. I have a minor (*cough* major *cough*) love for superhero movies (let me be clear here: I have never read a comic book. And I don’t care if I ever do. To me it’s all about the movies and novels). And I have a really major love for female superheros. You’ve gotta love women in positions of power being unashamedly badass. Plus, this novel holds basis in greek mythology which makes me go heart eyes (yes I know I’m a geek. Sue me). *Grabby hands* Can I buy it yet? Genre: YA Fantasy. Release Date: August 29th. Purchase: Amazon B&N
  10. One Blood Ruby by Melissa Marr. Let me just say something about this author. She knows how to write faeries. Her Wicked Lovely series was a favorite of mine a while back, and I still pick up the first book sometimes. If you want a faerie book go buy hers. I’m serious. Go buy her books, read her books, and fall in love with her books. It’s that simple. Seven Black Diamonds roped me into her world of faeries and spellbinding love stories. I am more than a little excited to attack the sequel and get back into the adventures of these complex and addicting characters. Genre: YA Fantasy. Release Date: February 28th. Purchase: Amazon B&N

Wow, those descriptions got long. I hope they tempted you to read some of these books though!

Keep in mind, these books were in no particular order (except for Windwitch)(because, I mean, come on. Truthwitch is in my overall top five)(Windwitch is clearly my number one anticipated). Also, all release dates are according to Goodreads, so I’m sorry if they are off. And, yes, there is a pattern of genres I like. Hint: it rhymes with Rung Madult Schmantasy. So there isn’t too much of a range of genres here, and I will be the first one to admit I need to broaden my reading horizons a bit. I’m working on it.

The reason I made sure to put that this is a list at the moment is because I’m always looking for new books. And there is always a good chance I might find a book I want to read more than one of these that comes out this year. There are numerous books being released this year and I can’t be aware of all of them right this moment. I’m looking forward to discovering them. Let me know some of your most anticipated releases below! Or talk to me on twitter! I’m always down to talk books.

Okay, I must get back to writing. I haven’t hit today’s word count yet, and I don’t want to develop bad habits so soon. Go read a book! Or buy one! Or write one! Just, go do something with books, okay?

Kailey