Month: December 2015

2016 Debut Author Challenge

Just…this. These 2016 YA debut novels look amazing.

If you’re curious to see the list, scroll down to the bottom of betwixt-the-pages‘ post and click on the link.

betwixt-the-pages

DAC2016S

See all things Challenge here!

Challenge Objectives:

  • To introduce readers to this year’s wonderful group of debut authors.
  • To challenge readers to read 12 or more (or less! It’s up to you!) middle grade, young adult, and new adult debuts this year.

Challenge Rules:

  • You must post your thoughts on each debut book you read in order for it to count towards the challenge. You can post anywhere: your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, YouTube, Tumblr, etc.
  • You can join the challenge whenever you want.
  • The debuts must have a publishing date in 2016 and must have been read between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017 (this extra month allows readers adequate time to read December debuts) in order to count.
  • Each review gives you an entry into the monthly prize pack drawings. Make sure you post the links to my monthly link-ups. I always post these link-ups on the first…

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How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Your Novel #amwriting #writerslife

As my adored and esteemed writing friend Tracy L. Jackson once wisely said, “Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint.” Good advice! Completing a marathon–just like completing a novel–takes endurance. And, despite our hard work and passion for writing, sometimes we lose our motivation. Why? What are the internal hurdles that get in our way?

The main hurdle is fear. I’ve never finished a book before–I mean, really finished, as in multiple drafts rewritten and polished to completion (notice I didn’t say “perfection.”). Over the past couple of years I’ve knocked out first, second, and thirdish drafts of three novels, and the process has taught me a lot, but now I’m working on a novel that I really want to take all the way to publication, and I want to do the story and characters justice.

That’s scary. Maybe there are some writers out there who write and write and rewrite and let nothing stand in their way until their novels are finished. Maybe I’m not that ballsy, but I am no less committed. For me, the process of writing (and finishing) novels includes figuring out how to get past the hurdles.

For example, I recently stood at the glorious precipice of two blissful weeks of winter break: no work to report to every day, pretty much all the free time I wanted, and yet I found myself stalling, stalling, stalling and finding a million reasons not to work on my novel. To get past this hurdle, here’s what I told myself:

Close Your Eyes
Breathe
Shift Perspective

Then. . .

Visualize Your Success

For me, visualizing success means seeing a row of my published novels sitting on a shelf. That simple, but it still wasn’t getting me working on my novel. There were FAR too many other, fun, easy ways to occupy my  vacation time: playing with the dogs, checking out my husband’s woodworking projects, blogging, finding out why the neighbors are moving, playing online word games. Everything except writing. So I asked myself:

Do You Want to Publish Novels?

Of course, my answer was a resounding yes. So . . .

Find a Way to Get Excited about the Novel

I reached into my bag of tricks and found something to get me excited about working on my novel–the kind of excitement and enthusiasm that supersedes fear.

In this case, I recalled how one of my dream agents told me that, even though she’s currently closed to queries, she will accept my mine. . . as long as I send it before the end of January 2016. (Yikes, that’s coming up soon). Remembering this got  me excited and served as a powerful motivator to work hard at finishing my novel.

Set Goals and Track Progress

Setting writing goals has helped me enormously over the past few years, so when I hit that “stall wall” at the beginning of winter break, I sat down and decided on a reasonable writing/editing goal of two hours day (including weekends). Then I did something I’ve never done before: I created an Excel spreadsheet to track the time I put in each day. “Clocking in” on that spreadsheet and seeing my writing time add up has been indispensable for keeping on track with my writing goals. Here’s a copy of my Writing Time spreadsheet in case you’d like to give it a try.

Reward Yourself

Most of us probably can’t afford to reward ourselves with new cars or spa days for achieving our writing goals, so what I did was pay a visit to OrientalTradingCompany.com and buy myself a set of stickers. Yep, that works for me because, in my world, no one is too old for stickers! And I’m not too proud to admit that I gleefully pore over that sheet of stickers and choose exactly the one I want to reward myself with when I complete my writing goal for the day.

Stickers - 50 United States rotated.jpg

Doing all of this helped me climbed the “stall wall” and, as always, the more I work on the novel, the more I fall in love with it, which makes me WANT to return to it each day.

–Eve Messenger

Infinity Dreams Award #writerslife

wpid-infinity-award

Thank you to the ever-classy Caitlyn @ Rhodes of Reading for nominating me for this  Infinity of Dreams Award. Caitlyn is a teacher who adores YA fiction, so of course she’s one of my favorite peeps.

Rules:

1. Thank and follow the blog that nominated you
2. Tell us 11 facts about yourself
3. Answer the questions that were set for you to answer
4.  Nominate 11 bloggers and set questions for them

Eleven Facts About Me

  1. At major crossroads moments in my life, I’ve had a hummingbird fly out of seemingly nowhere and hover right in front of me, which I see as a sign that “everything is going to be alright.”
  2. As a kid I enjoyed scary stories. I’d save up to buy graphic novels about ghosts and hauntings then moved on to Edgar Allan Poe stories and Stephen King novels. Maybe it’s because of my overactive imagination, but now scary stories freak me out.
  3. I love riding my bicycle, especially through nature.
  4. I am calm in crisis situations. Afterward is when I get nervous and shaky.
  5. Because I’d love to be able to enter them all into Goodreads, I’m bummed I can’t remember all the books I’ve read, many of which were randomly grabbed off library shelves with barely a glance at the title.
  6. I enjoy collecting coffee mugs to commemorate trips I’ve taken.
  7. Before writing fact #6, I had to look up the difference between “coffee cup” and “coffee mug.” If you’re curious, too, here’s the link.
  8. My lucky number is five, so on all the athletic teams I played on growing up I liked having five as part of my jersey number.
  9. Whenever I take left-brain/right-brain tests, my results are always exactly in the middle.
  10. On the rare occasions that I feel overwhelmingly distraught, I drive to the parking lot of a nearby congregation/compound for nuns (though I’m not Catholic), and it makes me feel better.
  11. I love dogs and am like a little kid at the dog park.

Questions from Caitlyn

  1. If you had to choose, would you rather be a contestant on The Amazing Race or The Great British Bake-Off? (Or The Great British Baking Show…depending on where you’re from!) Sorry to say I’ve never seen either show, but I enjoy baking.
  2. If you were on a deserted island and only had one book with you, what book would it be? Moby-Dick because if it’s the only book I own, I might actually finish it.
  3. Cake or pie? Pie, definitely, blueberry or peach, please.
  4. How many different cities have you lived in? Seven.
  5. Hot chocolate or apple cider? Hot chocolate.
  6. What super power would you want to have? The ability to speak and understand all languages.
  7. Who’s the last person you texted? A friend.
  8. Do you buy DVDs or watch movies online? Online streaming all the way.
  9. Which 3 people, dead or alive, would you want to invite over for coffee? I’m curious about historical mysteries so, first, I’d invite my 5th great-grandfather for coffee and chat about why he assumed a new name at the turn of the 19th century, find out what his real name was and where he came from. Assuming we could understand each other’s languages, I’d also invite one of the last surviving Picts and inhabitants of Easter Island to ask what happened to their civilizations and find what all their cool stone structures were for.
  10. What’s your favorite accent to hear people speaking with? (British, American, Spanish, etc.) The sound of a Scottish brogue makes me pretty happy.
  11. Would you rather have a pet dragon or be a centaur? Both are pretty wonderful, but I’d go with the pet dragon since it can fly me places, which would come in quite handy during rush hour.

I nominate. . .

Mary Cathleen Clark
Abbielou @ Café Book Bean
Beth @ betwixt-these-pages
Madi Uram @ Writing Every Which Way
Sumaya @ Sue’s Reading Corner
Nate Philbrick @ You Write Fiction
Jennifer F. Santucci
Josie @ Josie’s Book Corner
Kelly Deeny
Melanie Noell Bernard
Lila @ The Bookkeeper’s Secrets
Jesalyn @ Life: Books, the Arts, and Nature

 Your Questions

  1. If you had two weeks and unlimited funds, what would be your dream vacation?
  2. What was one of your favorite books as a child?
  3. What was one of your favorite recent reads?
  4. What is your dream/life’s ambition?
  5. What three things would indicate you’ve achieved your dream?
  6. What is your favorite board/card/casino game?
  7. Would you prefer camping in nature or staying at fine hotel in the city?
  8. If you could write like any author, who would it be and why?
  9. If you could visit any historical time period, which would you choose and why?
  10. Romance or adventure?
  11. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Book Fangirling Blog Award #amreading

Book Fangirling Award

Sweet, smart, book-loving Sabrina @ SabrinaMarsiBooks nominated me for the Book Fangirling Blog Award. Thanks, Sabrina!

Rules:

  • Create a post to accept your award.
  • Add the blog award button into your post and put it on the side of your blog as a widget. Visit fangirling for the award button.
  • Answer the questions I have below.
  • Nominate between 5-10 book bloggers who you think also deserve this award.
  • Come up with your own 5 questions for your nominees.

* * *

  1. What is the most overrated author/book in your opinion?
    Oh, I’m going to get into trouble with this one. John Green is genuinely talented, so I wouldn’t call him overrated, but maybe ‘overhyped’ is the word. There are so many brilliant YA authors and books being published that it seems out of balance for John Green’s novels to take up, depending on the month,  40%-60% of YA bestseller lists. Then again, not every author has a Hank Green.
  2. What book are you currently reading/what are you going to read next?  
    Right now I’m reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Next up is either Magonia or The Diviners.  
  3. Favorite place to read?
    I love cuddling up with a book and reading in bed . Marilyn Monroe reading in bed.jpg
  4. Book character you would like to be best friends with?
    Calaena from Throne of Glass, for sure, because she’s adventurous, funny, and loyal toward those she trusts. Her friendship with Princess Nehemia is one of my all-time faves.

    the_assassin_and_the_princess_by_meabhdeloughry-d93n08e

    The Assassin and the Princess by meabhdeloughry

  5. Book you’re most embarrassed to have never read?
    I’ve never read the Twilight series. Should I?

Twilight poster.jpg

I nominate. . .

Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand Stories
Valerie @ Pajama Reader
Elena Johnson
Kerry @ Comfy Reading
Rae @ Bookmark Chronicles

Your Questions

  1. What’s your favorite book genre and why?
  2. What’s your least favorite book genre and why?
  3. If, as yourself, you could jump into any fictional world for a day, which would you choose and why?
  4. What are your three favorite bookalicious Internet sites (blogs, Goodreads, Twitter accounts, Tumblr feeds, #bookstagram, etc.)?
  5. How do you decide which books to add to your TBR?

What Were Your Favorite Writerly Gifts This Year? #writinglife #amwriting

Writerly Christmas Haul 2015 copy

Writerly Christmas Haul 2015 – Eve Messenger

Ho, ho, ho! ‘Tis the season for displaying, flipping through, hooking up, playing with, and just all-round jump around with glee about our favorite “writerly” and “readerly” Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa gifts. Here were my favorites this year:

  • Stephen King’s On Writingthe only craft book I wanted to own. I was so happy to find it under the tree.
  • New speakers handcrafted from curly maple wood by my talented husband. Now I can listen to music in style.
  • Bananagrams, a fun, fast-paced anagram/crossword game that I adore. Now I just have to find people brave enough to play me. . .
  • A Barnes & Noble gift card (yessssss).

And. . . wait for it . . .

  • A Kindle Paperwhite with graphics so similar to real paper that when I first opened it I kept trying to peel the label off. Except it wasn’t a label–it was the graphic that appears on the screen when it’s shut off, haha.  I doubt I’ll ever fully give up the familiar, tactile joy of reading real books, but it’s great to have a close electronic equivalent plus all the conveniences of being able to read in any kind of light, access more books at lower prices, and contend with fewer stacks of read books.

Oh, and I can’t believe I almost forgot. I got a new printer! It’s exactly the kind of black-ink-only workhorse I wanted for printing manuscripts. We haven’t had a working printer in our home for so long, and then I went and broke my classroom computer by printing out too many novel manuscripts (sorry, boss).

Here he is: Brother HL-L2380DW.  Isn’t he handsome?

Fantastic Winter Break Binge-Watch : Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

Holy female badass, Netflix’s Jessica Jones is Marvel-ous. Great casting, acting, music, writing, and cinematography aside, Jessica Jones (played by Ann Hathaway lookalike Krysten Ritter) is a character you’d want to watch even if she didn’t possess superpowers. (J.J. Abrams and Disney would do well to take note of how this show does it–characters with depth are infinitely more watchable.)

Beneath Jessica Jones’ ability to throw 300-lb. guys through walls is an aching fragility. She is conflicted, pissed, boozy, shit-talking, embraces her own sexuality, thinks fast on her feet, and is devoted to what she does. Jessica’s bordering-on-con-artist skills as a private detective are especially entertaining.

More than any other series except Orange is the New Black, Jessica Jones brims with a perfect cast of strong, interesting female characters, notably Carrie-Ann Moss of Matrix/Trinity fame and Australian actress Rachael Taylor (who at first I could have sworn was Elisha Cuthbert all grown up) .

In case you haven’t watched Jennifer Jones yet, I’ll hold back from revealing which actor was chosen to play the sociopathic, mind-controlling supervillain, but I’ll say this: it was a genius casting decision.

–Eve Messenger (who occasionally takes time away from writing and reading to watch TV shows and movies, especially during a blissful event called three-week winter break.)

What if You’re Not a Natural Born Storyteller? #amwriting

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Thankfully, one of the many great things about writing novels is that there are unlimited opportunities to revise and rewrite until we get our stories right—to make them great, even. Writers who are natural storytellers (those lucky devils) might have an easier time coming up with great plot ideas, but those of us who aren’t necessarily born storytellers have more work to do. We are readers and lovers of novels, so we know when a story is good. It just might take more time for us to get our own stories to that point.

Seasons of Book Blogging, a Book for Every Month #amreading

“THE SEASONS OF BOOK BLOGGING” TAG

RULES:
Thank the creator and the person who tagged you.
Begin with the month in which you were tagged and move forward from there!
State the best gift you’ve ever been given after you answer the question for your birthday month.
Tag whomever you like when you’re finished… or else you’ll be ‘it’ forever.
Have fun, of course!
The Seasons of Book Blogging Tag was created by Jordyn @ J. Bookish. I really enjoyed this book tag and would like to thank the one and only Beth @ betwixt-these-pages for tagging me. If you’re looking for edgy, well-written, off-the-beaten-path books to read, be sure to check out her blog.

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December is a time when friends and families come together and celebrate. Name one book you would give as a gift.

Lightning by Dean Koontz. I love this story so much. I mean, seriously, just check out this blurb:

In the midst of a raging blizzard, lightning struck on the night Laura Shane was born. And a mysterious blond-haired stranger showed up just in time to save her from dying.

Years later, in the wake of another storm, Laura will be saved again. For someone is watching over her. But just as lightning illuminates, darkness always follows close behind.

lightning by dean koontz

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January begins a new year. Name a resolution you made this year and if you’ve kept it or not!

My resolution this year was to write more novels and to read more books. I did both. 😀

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February is the month for relationships. Name your favorite book relationship: romantic, platonic, or familial, your choice!

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons is so “charmingly” written. I loved the relationships between the three generations of “passionate, willful Southern women.”

Birthday Bonus: The best gift I’ve ever been given was. . . This is a little embarrassing but when I was a little girl I really liked baby dolls. One Christmas I got exactly the one I’d been wishing for and toted her all around with me after that.

baby doll

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March is the month for luck and new beginnings. Name a book or series that you would like to re-experience as if you’d never read it.

 You know how sometimes a book–or, in this case, a series of books– comes along when you’re in exactly the right frame of mind for it? That’s how Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was for me. Those books brought me so much joy that, after reading them, I went on to listen to the BBC radio broadcast, and that was really entertaining, too (definitely better than the movie).

Hitchhiker's Guide.jpg

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April is a spectacularly ordinary month. Name a book that was so over-hyped that it just could not live up to your expectations.
Well, I had high hopes for 17 & Gone, but I’m sorry to say it didn’t live up to my expectations.

17 & gone copy.jpg

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May is the month when the flowers start to bloom. Name a book that was a pleasant surprise to you.

I’ve never really jumped at stories about dragons, but Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina presented dragons in such an interesting, unique way that by the end I thought they were pretty glorious. It didn’t hurt that the story was really well written with an element of music running through it.

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June is the time to take a break. Name a book or genre that you like to read when you just need to check out.

I’ll just say right now that I am not a re-reader. However, a book that completely transported me to a different world was Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Knife of Never Letting Go copy.jpg

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July is the time to celebrate your independence! Name a book that made you see fireworks. (Figuratively. Please don’t light books on fire.)

In concept and execution, Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall is the perfect book for me. If Before I Fall were a person, I would marry it.

bookcover_home_before_i_fall

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August is the hottest month of the year. Pick an up-and-coming author that you think will be the next hottest thing.

I have a lot more 2015 debut YA authors’ books to read before I can decide who’s the hottest up-and-comer, but for now my guess is the talented and gorgeous Sabaa Tahir.

sabaa tahir copy.jpg

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September is time for students to go back to school! Pick a book you read for school that you actually enjoyed.

I found something to love about pretty much every book I read for school, but if I have to pick a favorite I’ll say Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (which has, in my humble opinion, the truest-to-the-book movie adaptation ever made.)

To Kill a Mockingbird copy.jpg

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October is time to celebrate Halloween! Pick one character that you would love to dress up as for Halloween.

Who wouldn’t love to dress as the baddest assassin in town, Calaena Sardothien from Sara J. Maas’ Throne of Glass?

Throne of Glass copy.jpg

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November is the month when we’re reminded of how much we have to be thankful for. Choose one book you’re grateful for having read and give a shout-out to the person who recommended it!

I am so glad I read Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda . I don’t remember how I stumbled across it, so I’m not sure who to thank, but Simon vs. the HSA was one of my favorite reads of 2015. I loved Simon’s voice and am puzzled by how this heartwarming book is not on more people’s favorites lists.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda cover

If this book tag is something you’d like to try, consider yourself tagged!

Writer Do Nots

This advice is so spot on that more writers deserve to see it.

Samurai Novelist

Take this advice to heart:

  1. Never write a novel to prove something.
    If you are going to be a novelist, then just do your job. Publishing a novel is not a way to prove something. The objective of a work of fiction is to transport the reader to another world created in print. It is not meant to impress people who have no intention of being transported and probably only will be looking for faults in your work anyway.
  2. If you write for your own therapy, it’s not for publishing.
    Every writer has a book that is not meant to be published. We might call them private journals, notes, fiction for my own consumption, whatever. If you write something for yourself, keep it to yourself. There is nothing shameful about writing something that cannot be published. And things that are written for your mental well being rarely accomplishes the objective…

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“How I Read” Book Tag #amreading

Thank you to Beth @ betwixt-the-pages for this tag AND for her fabulous book blog, which is an endless source of fantastic recommendations.

How do you find out about new books to read?

Most of the books I gleefully add to my TBR come from book blogs. I’m especially likely to try out a book that’s rated all over the place with five stars—case in point, the book I’m reading now: Throne of Glass. I’m only 50 pages in and already loving it.

https://ebmessenger.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/c9350-throneofglass.jpg?w=165&h=249

By the way, does anyone else think this depiction of Celaena looks a lot like author Sarah J. Maas?

https://i1.wp.com/www.mcmbuzz.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Capture1.jpg

How did you get into reading?

My dad and his parents were big readers, so I just remember always having books around. Growing up as an only child, books made excellent companions.

How have your tastes in books changed as you got older?

This may seem counterintuitive, but as I’ve grown older I’ve gotten more into young adult fiction. I went from the classics, to science fiction (because that’s what my dad’s shelves were filled with), to horror and suspense, to literary, upmarket, and women’s fiction, to YA.

How often do you buy books?

I buy books when they’re not available at my local library, maybe three times a month.

How did you get into reviewing books?

I’m not one to shy away from expressing my opinion. This is doubly true of books and movies.

How do you react when you don’t like the end of a book?

This is me when I don’t like the ending of a book because it’s badly written:

chris-rock-huh-wtf

This is me when I don’t like the ending of a book because it didn’t go the way I hoped it would:giphy

How often do you take a sneak peek at the ending to see if there is a happy ending?

Never, ever. The thrill of discovery is one of the most delicious things about reading a book. Not only will I never peek at the ending, I’ll even cover upcoming paragraphs with my hand if I sense something big is about to be revealed.

Your Turn!

It was kind of fun to think about how I read. If you’d like to do the same, please consider yourself tagged.