#ContinuousPractice: Day 1-31 - UPDATE #1!

Donnerstag, 31. März 2016

   Welcome to my first update!
   Thirty one days ago I posted my commitment to the #ContinuousPractice challenge (read here) and, surprisingly enough, I've actually been truly committing to it. So in this post I want to give you an overview of how I've been holding up word count wise and hour wise.

   In my original post I've stated that, each day I want to work on my current work in progress for at least one hour, be it by writing new chapters, editing already existing ones, or outlining those to come. I've written every day, except for three days which I've spent all day filming a YouTube project. On those three days I've outlines chapters and edited/revised the chapters I'd already written, meaning that I still filled the hour I committed to.

   To give you an idea on how writing has been going I can give you some stats:
   Average word count written per day: 2.202 words
   Total word count day 1-30*: 66.069 words
   * I've left out day 31 since that's today and I've not written anything today yet since I usually write in the evening/at night.

   So far I can tell you that this challenge has been doing wonders for me, as silly as that might sound. Every day I was reminded of the challenge, which meant that I felt this need to write every day for at least that hour (which usually expended more in to two or three hours) which, of course, had a very positive effect on my daily word count. The challenge definitely gave me the motivation I needed to make myself sit down and write so I could write a good update on my Instagram, show that I've been really putting in the work I said I would.
   Therefore, I can only recommend the challenge so far. If you're struggling with your daily motivation to write (or do whatever else you'd want to commit to) I'd give it a try. I was skeptical at first, because I'm really bad at committing to things like these types of challenges, so I was surprised at how well it works for me right now. I've definitely made big progress on my current work in progress at a much higher pace then I usually would, which is amazing and I'm very happy with it.

   I'm curious how the challenge will continue for me, hope that I'll be able to keep up the good work and my commitment to it. In April I'll be doing Camp NaNoWriMo which I am quite sure will, again, add extra motivation to my daily writing, so I hope I'll have a just as positive update as this one at the end of April.
   Tell me down below, or tweet me (@Alice_Reeds), how you've been doing, if you're also doing the challenge. Has it been working for you? Yes? No? Why? I'm curious!


Ask the Author: Lorie Langdon (Gilt Hollow)

Samstag, 26. März 2016

   For this weeks edition of Ask the Author I've reached out to Lorie Langdon, the co-author of Doon and author of Gilt Hollow. I'm very interested in the latter so of course I couldn't resist writing her to ask about an interview. Luckily, she agreed to do it!
   Here are her A's to my Q's:

Gilt Hollow by Lorie Langdon
Expected Publication: September 27th 2016 by Blink
Number of Pages: 304 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Willow Lamott’s best friend is a murderer, and no one in the small town of Gilt Hollow will let her forget it. For four long years, she’s tried to fade into the background—but none of that matters when Ashton Keller comes striding into school, fresh out of juvie and fueled by revenge. The moment their eyes meet, Willow no longer feels invisible. Drawn to the vulnerability behind Ashton’s mask of rage, she sinks deeper into his sinister world and begins to question whether he’s a villain, a savior, or both.
   Ashton thought he wanted vengeance, until Willow reminded him what he’d been missing. Now he longs to clear his name and become the person she sees in him. But the closer they get to uncovering the truth, the darker the secrets become, and Ashton fears his return to Gilt Hollow will destroy everyone he loves, especially the girl he left behind. (goodreads.com)

Interview with Lorie Langdon

   1 – Describe Gilt Hollow with a haiku or twitter pitch.
   Since poetry isn’t really my thing, I’ll give you the twitter pitch: A boy convicted of manslaughter returns home seeking revenge and the life he lost, including the girl he left behind.

   2 – In a genre like mystery/thriller, how hard is it to stand out? And in what way do you think does Gilt Hollow stand out and offer something that should make people want to read it even more?
   For any book to stand out, it needs a strong hook; a quick high-concept line that hooks the reader. It’s actually what hooked me on the idea of writing this story: Willow’s best friend is a murder, and no one in the small town of Gilt Hollow will let her forget it.
   Outside of that, as with any new book, strong writing, a compelling cover, and a good marketing budget helps. ☺

   3 – What was the most challenging thing about writing Gilt Hollow and which scene was the most fun to write?
   The most challenging aspect of writing Gilt Hollow was researching the legal side of the story, such as: Ashton’s requirements to his parole officer after his release from juvie, the details surrounding his conviction, and how local law enforcement would react to Ashton’s return and the crimes that seem to follow him.
   The most fun scene to write was the Sleepy Hollow Ball! It’s a tradition in Gilt Hollow that the mayor throws a huge costume party for everyone in town in the fall. It’s eerie and atmospheric, the perfect place to set up the chilling climax of the book!

   4 – What do you like most and least about your main character, Willow?
   Willow was an interesting character to write. When she refuses to stop defending Ashton’s innocence, even after his conviction, she’s alternately bullied and ostracized by her classmates and even some of the townspeople. As a result, her type-A personality becomes her worst enemy and manifests in the form of panic attacks. In the beginning of the book, we see her retreating and not standing up for herself, but when Ashton comes back, he awakens something fierce inside of her. I loved writing her as she emerged from her shell and took control of her life.

   5 - In retrospective, is there anything that you’d change about the story or are you happy with the way it turned out in the end?
   I love this story as it is! If I had to change something, it would be to add a little more about Ashton’s friend and roommate in juvie, Toryn.

   6 - How did you feel when you first realized that this story you had written would soon be read by thousands of people and how do you feel now, years later, before your next book will be released?
   Did the feeling change or is it still the same? Well, Gilt Hollow will be my fifth published novel. But the first time I realized my book DOON would be read by thousands of people, I first felt disbelief, shortly followed by terror (what if they hate it?), and then a wondrous kind of joy in knowing that my dreams of sharing my stories with the world were coming true. I still sometimes feel this way when I get fan mail or hear from readers across the globe.

   7 – What do you think about the cover? Is it anything like you imagined it being?
   The Gilt Hollow cover is beautiful and a bit creepy, just like this story. I love the trepidations look on the model’s face playing Willow and the boy lurking in the forest. It’s perfect!

   8 – Seeing as you’re a YA author I’m sure you also read YA, so I wondered, what were the last three books you’ve read and what did you think of them?
   The White Rose by Amy Ewing: a good sequel to The Jewel. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
   Lois Lane, Fallout by Gwenda Bond: a fresh take on one of my childhood role models.
   An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: My absolute favorite read of the year!

   9 – Book adaptations – movie or TV series?
   TV series…if it’s done right.

   10 – What advice could you give aspiring authors?
   Write every day until it becomes a habit. Also, learn as much as you can about creative writing and the publishing industry. The biggest step I took towards becoming a published author was joining a local writer’s organization. The national society of children’s book writers and illustrators (www.scbwi.org/) has local chapters all over the country. It’s inspiring to connect with other writers and the monthly workshops these groups provide are a great way to learn.

   11 – If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
   The power to heal. I have Crohn’s disease and I’ve passed it along to both of my sons. It’s a chronic illness that effects the digestive system and there is no cure. Healing others from illness is the most amazing superpower I can imagine!

   This was fun! Thanks so much for having me on your blog!

About the Author

   Lorie Langdon is co-author of DOON, a YA reimagining of the musical Brigadoon, available now from Blink/Harper Collins! www.doonseries.com
   A few years ago, she left her thriving corporate career to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word.

Readers can find her online at:
Twitter : https://twitter.com/LorieLangdon
Instagram : https://instagram.com/lorielangdon_doonseries
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLorieLangdon
GILT HOLLOW on Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25041551-gilt-hollow

Waiting on Wednesday: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Mittwoch, 16. März 2016

   Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine in which we discuss our most anticipated upcoming releases.

   The book:

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Expected Publication: May 17th 2016 by HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Maguire knows she’s bad luck. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. But then on her way out of her therapist’s office, she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star, who wants to help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away, but staying away may be harder than she thought. (goodreads.com)

   My thoughts:

   This book sounds amazing, and truly intriguing. I cannot wait for May to come around so I can go buy and read it. Also I love the orange/red cover along with the font. It really catches your eyes well so props to the cover designer for this one.

   Let me know in the comments below or via twitter (@Alice_Reeds) which books you're waiting for this Wednesday!
Shade Me by Jennifer Brown Cover

Ask the Author: Meredith Russo (If I Was Your Girl)

Samstag, 12. März 2016

   For this edition of Ask the Author I decided to contact the amazing Meredith Russo, author of If I Was Your Girl, to ask if she'd be interested in doing an interview with me. She was. I sent her my Q's and received amazing A's from her, which you can all find below. I cannot wait to get my hands in If I Was Your Girl, even more after having the chance to talk to Meredeith, and discovering that she feels the same way about the My Chemical Romance breakup as I do, so can May please hurry up a little?
   Anyways, here is her book and her wonderful A's to my Q's:

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Expected Publication: May 3rd 2016 by Flatiron Books
Number of Pages: 272 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.
   Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone.
   But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.
   Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that she used to be Andrew.
   Will the truth cost Amanda her new life--and her new love?
   If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different--and a love story that everyone will root for. (goodreads.com)

Interview with Meredith Russo

   1 - Describe If I Was Your Girl with a haiku.
   A girl with a past
   Who wants to have a future
   Gives it her best shot

   2 - What inspired you to write a story about a transgender girl?
   There aren’t very many stories about trans women or trans girls, and the novels that do exist, at least the ones written by cis people, aren’t necessarily very comforting to trans kids who might read them, so I wanted to write something for a trans teen who’s looking for themselves in what they read, something that tells them they can maybe be happy and have a future that, while complicated, won’t necessarily be tragic.

   3 - How much research did you do on transgender and the life transgender people face on a daily basis? And did you, at some point during research, feel discouraged or anxious in terms of writing about it, or rather incorporating it into your story?
   Not much really, at least not that aspect of the story. I am trans, so I already know what gender dysphoria, transitioning, and post-transition are like. I do live in a city though, and I didn’t have to go to high school in a small town like Amanda does in the story, so I interviewed some other trans people who went through that to make sure I was doing it right. Me being trans is another huge reason I wanted to write this novel: there are, so far as I’m aware, no mainstream YA novels about trans girls written by an actual trans woman, which is something I wanted to correct. So no, I never really had to deal with the feeling that I was getting anything wrong and the anxiety that comes from that.

   4 - As I’ve mentioned plenty of times already on my blog, I think books that tackle hard topics are immensely important, and seeing as you wrote a story that does so, I believe you think the same. How important do you think is it for authors to do it in YA literature and do you think it’s a good way to make young people think about these things and discuss them?
   I think books about diverse characters, whether the diversity is neurodivergence, race, gender, sexual orientation, whatever, are really important, but I think educating readers is a fringe benefit. More than raising awareness of these issues, I think these books are important for kids and adults going through the same issues because they help them feel less alone, help them contextualize their lives and their pain in a way that makes them feel less alone and maybe even gives them hope. The example I always come back to is Perks of Being a Wallflower which, while I’m sure it helped people become aware of things like mental illness, gay kids, sexual assault, and bullying, was so important for me and so many of my friends who were going through the issues dealt with in that book. So I think diversity is important for those reasons, but also because homogeneity is boring, and reading stories about nothing but white, straight, cis, largely neurotypical characters gets boring after a while.

   5 – What, besides the obvious, makes Amanda stand out in the sea of female contemporary main characters?
   She’s dealt with bullying. Mental illness has played as big a part in her life as being trans-- she has an anxiety disorder and she tried to kill herself a few years before the beginning of the novel. She’s a closet nerd, a holdover from the days when she didn’t want to live as a boy so she spent all her time in her room. If you’re curious, her favorite anime is Sailor Moon and her favorite video game is Final Fantasy 10.

   6 - How long did it take you from first thought until publishing deal? Out of curiosity, how many queries did you have to send until you found 'the one'?
   About a year and a half, I think. Take that with a grain of salt though, because my memory is the worst. I never actually wrote any query letters though! I work with a book packager, which kind of changes how the process works in a lot of ways.

   7 - How do you feel about the fact that in only a few more months thousands of readers will be able to hold and read your debut novel?
   Absolutely mortified. I have faith in my work, and the reviews from the advance copies have been really good, but writers are neurotic people and I can’t ever shake the idea that everybody is going to hate me, the trans community is going to reject me for representing us poorly, and the book will be a huge flop. Hopefully not though!

   8 - While writing the story did you ever imagine how a cover might look like and what do you think about the absolutely gorgeous final version?
   I had no idea! I told my publisher I wanted either a trans model or a trans artist because I wanted to keep trans people involved at every possible step, but I really wasn’t prepared for the absolutely stunningly gorgeous Kira Conley’s involvement. And then there’s the UK cover, which I only just saw: it’s art instead of a photograph, but I think it’s just wonderful as well.

   9 - Did you listen to any particular songs or artists while writing If I Was Your Girl? If so, could you give us an example?
   I listened to a lot of The Magnetic Fields, specifically All My Little Words and The Book of Love, which is technically a cover but I like their version better. I also listened My Chemical Romance (I’m still not over them breaking up!) with a focus on Danger Days, not because it’s my favorite album but because it’s the most energetic and it kept me up on the long nights. My favorite songs on that album are Na na na na (is that the correct number of na’s? I’m not sure), Party Poison, and Save Yourself, I’ll Hold Them Back
   I think my main inspiration was The Mountain Goats, because John Darnielle is maybe my favorite person in the world after my kids and my girlfriend. I listened to way too many of their songs to mention so I’ll just say my favorite albums are Tallahassee, All Eternals Deck, and Heretic Pride, and all three of those got a lot of play. Against Me! was another huge inspiration because of Transgender Dysphoria Blues (my faves are the eponymous track and True Trans Soul Rebel, but I can’t listen to it too much because it kind of hits too close to home). And, finally, I listened to People That Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World, which is one of my favorite albums of all time, and my favorite songs off it are Brave as a Noun and Survival Song. I just realized this is my longest answer of all, which should tell you a lot about my writing process.

   10 – What advice could you give aspiring authors?
   Write fanfiction, write a blog, write articles, write in a journal, write short stories, write essays, write as much of any idea for a novel as you can, because it doesn’t matter what you’re writing as long as you are writing. Also, and this is important, don’t turn down paying work, even if it’s not something you necessarily want to write. Patton Oswalt, one of my favorite comedians, speaks at length about how you do the paying work to give yourself room to do the work that inspires you, and I think that’s hugely important.

   11 – If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
   Invisibility, for a few reasons. The first is so I could commit lots of crimes and get away with it, because I’m honest with myself. The second is that I’ve always been kind of a wallflower, and being invisible would make it easier to just walk among people and see them as they really are when they’re not worried about being judged or observed. The third is that you don’t have to worry about passing when you’re invisible, though I guess I could have just gone with shapeshifting instead.

About the Author

   MEREDITH RUSSO was born, raised, and lives in Tennessee. She started living as her true self in late 2013 and never looked back. If I Was Your Girl was partially inspired by her experiences as a trans woman. Like Amanda, Meredith is a gigantic nerd who spends a lot of her time obsessing over video games and Star Wars.
   If I Was Your Girl is her debut novel, but definitely not her last. When she's not busy writing she can be found reblogging pictures of cats and babies, reading high literature (and definitely not fanfiction and fantasy novels), arguing with strangers about social justice, and, of course, raising her two amazing children, Vivian and Darwin.
   You definitely, absolutely should not be shy about contacting her, even if it's just to talk. She's always open to new opportunities and chances to speak with new people.

Check out her website and twitter, @Mer_Squared!

Waiting on Wednesday: Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

Mittwoch, 2. März 2016

   Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine in which we discuss our most anticipated upcoming releases.

   The book:

Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee
Expected Publication: July 26th 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 336 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   In a powerful and daring debut novel, Sonya Mukherjee shares the story of sisters Clara and Hailey, conjoined twins who are learning what it means to be truly extraordinary.
   Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins, Clara and Hailey, have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence and they’re slowly becoming more apparent. Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys. As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.
   Told in alternating perspectives, this unconventional coming-of-age tale shows how dreams can break your heart—but the love between sisters can mend it. (goodreads.com)

   My thoughts:

   The second I've laid eyes on this book and read it's blurb I knew I want this and I want it really, really badly. I've never read a book about conjoined twins, never even heard of one, so color me extremely intrigued. I cannot wait to see how the story will play out and just everything about it, the life these twins live and how life looks like through their eyes. 
   And also, that cover is absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to have it standing on my shelf!

* * *

   Let me know in the comments below or via twitter (@Alice_Reeds) which books you're waiting for this Wednesday!
Shade Me by Jennifer Brown Cover

#ContinuousPractice: A 100 Day Challenge

Dienstag, 1. März 2016

   Today while scrolling through my twitter feed I spotted a tweet posted by Kim Graff linking to her blog talking about #ContinuousPractice. I was intrigued so I clicked the link, read the post and decided that, since I'm always on the hunt for new ways to motivate myself into writing every day, I want to do it.

   So, I'm presenting you the 100 day #ContinuousPractice challenge.

   This challenge was originally started by Saundra Goldman, where you pick something you can practice every day, be it writing, editing, outlining, yoga, meditation, etc. and do it daily for a set amount of time, which you can decide for yourself.

   Here is what you need to do exactly as listed on her page:
   1) Select a practice. Writing practice, meditation, yoga. Something you can show up for every day.
   2) At the end of your session, snap a picture or make a note of where you are.
   3) Post the photograph or description of your practice and locale and to Facebook, Google+ or Instagram.
   4) Don’t forget to include the hashtag, #ContinuousPractice.
   5) If you’re on Facebook, ask to join our Forum.

My 100 day #ContinuousPractice commitment

   With this post I'm committing to participate starting as of today, March 1st 2016, and going for 100 days. I will write/edit/revise/outline for at least 1 hour a day, since that seems more then doable, and then, once I'm done each day, post a update picture on my Instagram. Through posting this on my blog I'll at least have the fact that I'm participating documented and thus no way to just stop doing it after two days.
   Fell free to join me with whatever you'd like to practice daily. If you decide to do it, post it below in the comments or tweet me, @Alice_Reeds. Let's see how this will go!