time travel

Interview with Brenda Drake, YA Author & #PitchWars Rock Star #amwriting #amreading

Brenda Drake is a rock star of the writing community. In addition to being a fabulous YA writer in her own right, Brenda is known by authors far and wide as the mastermind behind the Twitter writing contest phenomenon known as #pitchwars. This year saw the publication of Brenda’s YA novel, Thief of Lies, which has a concept book lovers everywhere will adore: characters who time-jump between the world’s most beautiful libraries. Brenda was kind enough to take a moment out of her busy schedule to answer questions about the new book.

Brenda Drake Author Photo1

Interview:

Brenda, you’ve interviewed MANY writers and other industry professionals as part of your involvement in the amazingly successful phenomenon known as Pitch Wars. As a writer who has just released her first book, how does it feel to be on the other side?

It feels great! It’s been such a long journey, but I’ve been distracted enough by the contests and celebrating other writers’ successes that it almost flew by. The community has been so wonderful to me, and I love giving back to writers. I’m humbled by the generosity of the mentors and the participants behind Pitch Wars. It’s been a great run!

What made you fall in love with your novel?

So many things made me fall in love with it. First, there’s the libraries and the ability to jump through pages and end up in another beautiful library anywhere in the world. Then there’s the characters, especially Gia. I’ve been in Gia’s head for so long, she feels real to me.

The publishing industry is a notoriously slow-moving machine. From writing to publication, how long was the “birthing” process of your book? What have some of the highlights been?

This story has taken a long journey. Full of mistakes that took me off the path and on detours before bringing me back to the right road. I started writing this book in 2009. It’s seen me through changing agents and publishers. There were heartbreaking moments and many highlights. I think going through editing and molding the story to what it is today was definitely a one highlight. And when a reader loves your work, that’s a wonderful feeling. I try to tune out the negative now, though it’s hard. I have to say, my journey is what it was supposed to be. It’s what molded me into who I am today. And I couldn’t be more thankful.

The best writers are also huge readers. What are some books you recently read that you
loved?

I’ve been reading many of the Pitch Wars mentors’ books lately. Everyone should try them. They are so good! If you want to try them, they’re listed on my website on the sidebar. You’d be happy you did. A book other than from my Pitch Wars friends? I finished Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Loved it! It was so amazing. You all should read it.

Having an online presence is a big deal for writers. How do you balance writing and social media?

Lately? Poorly. I’m sort of all over the place nowadays, and I just hop on social media during breaks. When I don’t have so much going on, I schedule my day. In the morning, I grab coffee and do social media while I’m waking up. Then I write, hop on social media during lunch, run errands, or clean if I have to. When I’m done, I write until dinner. I’ll usually hop on again at night if there’s nothing going on or haven’t passed out.

In the early days of crafting your novel, were you shy about sharing what you’d written with others?

I was terrified about sharing my work with others. I would take critique personally and want to give up. It was horrible. Then I grew up. Now, I tell my critique partners not to sugar coat their critiques of my work. I take it with a shot of whiskey and dive in.

Do you have a critique group and, if so, how did you find them?

I have a small group of critique partners. I found them online. I met one during NaNoWriMo and the others during my contests. I don’t meet with a group here where I live. It’s all online. I have met my critique partners in person at conferences. They are my writer soulmates and I feel like I’ve known them all my life.

Many writers have dark moments while working on their novels, times when they’re not sure they’ll ever finish. If you encountered hurdles like this, how did you overcome them?

I’ve been through many dark times. I can fall into a depression that will take me time to get out of, so I’m careful. I change my setting – go to a Barnes and Noble or Starbucks to write. If that doesn’t work, I reach out to my writing friends who understand what I’m going through. After I talk it out and get in a better mood, I can jump (pun intended) over those hurdles and plow through what I have to get finished.

Bio:

Brenda Drake is the author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers Book 1) and Touching Fate (Fated Series Book1) both available now from Entangled Teen. She grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Links:

brenda-drake.com
Twitter: @brendadrake
Instagram: @brendadrakeauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrendaLeeDrake
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7012713.Brenda_Drake

 

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February Wrap-Up & Flash Reviews

Hello, fellow book junkies! In February I’m happy to report I was able to shorten my tower of owned books by four, and I read seven books in all (. . . sort of–see below). My “Rock My TBR Challenge” is looking good so far.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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This book takes the reader deep into what it must have been like to grow up poor in Brooklyn in the early 20th century. I definitely felt like I was there, and learned a lot about cultural history. There were also some great observations about human nature and family relationships. I’m glad I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, though I didn’t love it.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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A heavyset teen girl bucks the system and signs up for her small-town beauty pageant run by her mother, a former beauty queen. Good concept. I expected the main character, Willowdean (a.k.a. Dumplin’) to be a big girl who’s comfortable in her own skin, but she isn’t. . . or is she? The theme is frustratingly unclear. There’s a cute jock who loves Willowdean, but we never get any insight into the nuances of their relationship. The writing is good, and there are cute moments with lots of potential, but overall a disappointment.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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A Darker Shade of Magic was the  highlight of my month. I loved the writing, the darkness, the imaginative world-building, the memorable characters, and whoah does Victoria/V.E. Schwab know how to write villains. Her writing is so good that reading it feels as if it´s making me a better writer. Coincidentally, within a week of reading this, my first, V.E. Schwab book, the author tweeted she would be doing a book signing less than 15 miles from my house. Do not pass go, do not collect $200–I had to meet her! In a later post, I’ll share more about what it was like to attend my first book signing event.

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

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The title and concept grabbed me–something about a cult, a girl surviving the bizarre disappearance of her mother and father, and the apparent end of the world. This book veered hard into preachy agenda territory, but overall it turned out to be a good, solid read.

Angelfall by Susan Ee

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This plot grabbed me and did not let go until the epic ending. Excellent world-building, and a plot that new exactly where it wanted to go, like a bullet. The only thing I had a hard time with was that a 17-year-old human girl and a 2000-year-old archangel might have a romantic attraction. He’s gorgeous and doesn’t look like an old man, but he is. The angel also had the unfortunate nickname Raffe (pronounced Raffi), which solidly planted in my head an image of an affable guy strumming guitar while singing Baby Beluga to a bunch of kids. That’s just me, folks. The book was really good.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

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A girl finds out she has inherited the ability to time travel. Sign me up, I thought, but as I read Ruby Red, I kept wishing more would happen. This book turned out to have good staying power, however, because a few days after finishing, I found myself wanting to  return to this imaginary world. I definitely plan to read the next book in the trilogy, Sapphire Blue. I was surprised to learn that the Ruby Red trilogy was originally written in German, which definitely added interest for a linguistics nerd like me. Translators deserve more credit! Sure, they’re translating someone else’s words, but they’re also WRITING A BOOK, so, kudos to Anthea Bell for doing a great job on the translation–not that I read German (I wish I did so I could read my favorite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, in his original language), but the story read well.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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I just want to start by saying I love author Jenny Han, her personality, her openness, her humor, just everything about her. But wait a minute. Hold up. Cue screech of a needle across record album. I could not finish this book. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before ended up being a DNF. The main character was sweet, the concept was intriguing (letters Laura Jean privately penned to all the boys she’s loved end up mistakenly being mailed to them), but as hard as I tried, I could not get through this book. I may have to face that saccharine,  very-young adult books might not be my cup of tea.

I’m sorry to end on a DNF note, especially re: a book that so many people adore but, all in all, it was a really enjoyable month of reading. I hope you’re getting to read lots of good books, too. 😀

–Eve Messenger

January Wrap-Up Plus Random Author Facts #amreading

Here I was thinking I’d read eight books a month throughout 2016–and then started with four books in January. Ah, well c’est la vie (or however you spell that). They were all fun to read.

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The Diviners by Libba Bray

With The Diviners, I got to completely immerse myself in a different era and thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven’t read much historical fiction, but I plan to now. The Roaring ’20s was an AWESOME setting for a book about “diviners” (kids with supernatural abilities) chasing down an occult bad guy. Deftly told from multiple points of view, I fell in love with the characters Memphis Campbell and Theta Knight (though Evie was actually the central character). Libba Bray has an excellent writing style, and I look forward to checking out the next book in the series, Lair of Dreams, as well as another Bray book I’ve heard good things about, A Great and Terrible Beauty.

~Random Author Fact ~

Libba Bray is married to her agent, Barry Goldblatt.

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Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

I’ll be honest, the first few chapters of Magonia found me skimming a bit, but before long I was thrillingly engaged. What words can I use to describe the world-building? Extraordinary, striking, outlandish, whimsical, hallucinatory . . . and completely believable. It’s so hard to explain without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say I’m grateful to Beth @ betwixt-the-lines for making me read this book. If you’ve read it, too, I’d love to hear your take on it.

~Random Author Fact ~

In 2005, Maria Dahvana Headley wrote a very different kind of book, non-fiction actually, called The Year of Yes. When Shonda Rhimes (of Gray’s Anatomy fame) recently released a book with the same title, Dahvana Headley was, shall we say, miffed and wasn’t afraid to say so. Publicly. On Twitter.

Maria Dahvana Headley - pissed about copying The Year of Yes title

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The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Let’s see . . . what was my original reason for deciding to read this book? Right, I freaking love time slip stories! (If you have any to recommend, I am all ears–er, eyes?) It’s 1996, and Emma is one of the first kids on her block to get a home computer. Emma’s cute neighbor/former best friend Josh gives her a CD-ROM so she can load email onto her computer and, lo and behold, Emma magically gains access to her FUTURE Facebook account. The story is told through alternating chapters of Emma’s and Josh’s POVs, and I have to admit, the two voices were so similar I sometimes had to check the first page of the chapter to make sure whose POV I was reading. This is a complaint other readers have had, too, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying The Future of Us for what it was: a cute, entertaining, and a pleasantly quick read.

~Random Author Fact ~

The Future of Us came to be because a teen fan asked Carolyn Mackler (a panelist at a book event) what her dream writing project would be, and Mackler decided she really wanted to collaborate with Jay Asher.

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The Door that Led to Where by Sally Gardner

As I type this review for the last of my January reads, I realize I read all four book exactly in order of how much I ended up liking them. Coincidence. . . or not? Yes, pure coincidence. 🙂 The Door that Led to Where was well-written in terms of descriptions and similes and all that (I especially enjoyed Gardner’s fun anthropomorphisms). I definitely wanted to keep reading ’til the end, but The Door that Led to Where didn’t get in-depth enough into the story it sought to tell. Good-natured 17-year-old AJ Flynn discovers a secret door to the past, which reveals important information about his true identity and puts him on the trail (perhaps in the path) of a murderer. I loved the scenes set in the 1830s (hmm, more historical fiction–I sense a personal trend), but my biggest complaint is that I never felt like I really got to know the characters.

~Random Author Fact ~

Because of undiagnosed dyslexia, Sally Gardner did not learn to read and write until she was fourteen.

 

Upcoming Reads :

  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Buddy-reading with Beth @ betwixt-the-pages and Jess @ Gone with the Words.)
  • Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
  • Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (Buddy-reading with Sarah K. @ The YA Book Traveler.)
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
  • Angelfall by Susan Ee
  • The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

 

 

 

Time Travel Movies Ranked Best to Worst

Redemption, magic, nostalgia, revelation, danger – what’s not to love about time travel movies? If you’re a time travel movie buff like me, you’ll probably enjoy this list of 40+ time travel movies and maybe agree or strongly disagree with their rankings. Most of these films feature characters who slip through time on some sort of cosmic magic (rather than building their own Wellesian time machines), so a more accurate term for them would be “time slip” or “time loop” movie. Enjoy! And please let me know if there are any other great time travel movies I should add to the list. 

1. Groundhog Day – A masterpiece. Harold Ramis and Bill Murray achieve the perfect balance of comedy and drama.

2. 12 Monkeys – The concept, look, and acting are brilliant. In true Terry Gilliam fashion, this is a one-of-a-kind film. Also made into a 2015 Syfy series.

3. Terminator 1 – Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese might just have my vote for all-time favorite movie romance.

4. Donnie Darko – A masterfully dark film with brilliant acting. Real-life siblings Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal play siblings in the film.

5. 13 Going on 30 – Pure fun. Love the ‘80s references and the magic.

6. Somewhere in Time – Heartbreakingly lovely film score and perfect location: the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Before she got into selling heart necklaces, Jane Seymour was a stunning and talented actress, at her most exquisite in this film. I would have gone back in time for Elise McKenna, too.

7. Source Code – Exciting, surprising, with first-rate acting.

8. 9 Times – I’ll admit I cheated with this one since 9 Times is actually a Korean miniseries, but I love it so much I had to include it.

9. Butterfly Effect – Dark, intriguing, underrated. 113 minutes of screen time with Ashton Kutcher is never a bad thing.

10. Fetching Cody – Indie, quirky, loved it.

11. The Family Man – A lot of heart, excellent redemption movie.

12. Back to the Future – Classic fun.

13. About Time – Sweet, romantic, totally worth watching. Domhall Gleeson is the perfect everyman.

14. Idiocracy – Great commentary on reality TV society.

15. Looper – Big budget, compelling.  Some sci-fi purists are put off by how this movie breaks time travel rules, but I was happy to suspend disbelief, especially since I’m a big fan of Emily Blunt’s. Incidentally, three movies on this list star Emily Blunt — maybe she likes time travel movies, too.

16. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Well shot and romantic, but couldn’t live up to the beautiful book by Audrey Niffenegger.

17. The Edge of Tomorrow – An exciting film that would have been much better with a different actor in the lead role.

18. Peggy Sue Got Married – Cute, worth watching

19. It’s a Wonderful Life – A classic and the only black and white movie on this list.

20. Hot Tub Time Machine – I’m not too proud to say I like silly movies, especially when they involve time travel.

21. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – A classic romp and actually kind of educational.

21a. Happy Accidents. Marissa Tomei.

22. The Adjustment Bureau – Creative concept. Would have been better if Matt Damon and Emily Blunt had had better chemistry.

23. Safety Not Guaranteed – Total indie, mostly in a good way. Aubrey Plaza is hilarious in every role she plays.

24. Sliding Doors –Interesting ideas. Alternate realities were edited together well.

24a. Sound of My Voice – Compelling docu-style indie flick. Rough around the edges with something troublingly beautiful at its heart.

24b. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is another film on this list tied for 24th place. FAQATT stars Chris O’Dowd, who’s always fun to watch. The film has an overall goofy feel, but there are dark and shocking moments as well. Anna Faris was a refreshing surprise.

25. Twice Upon a Yesterday – Had an uneven tone but worth watching. Recognize the brunette on the right? Yep, that’s Lena Headey (aka, Game of Thrones’ Circe).

26. Millenium – Great concept based on a John Varley short story, but the 1989 movie looks out of date. This is a movie that must be remade.

27. Minority Report – Slick. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.

28. Time Bandits – This movie is not my cup of tea, but some people love it.

29. Heaven Can Wait – A classic that might feel slow-paced to modern moviegoers.

30. Shuffle – Indie, troubling in a good way, a little disjointed, but that happens sometimes in time travel movies.

31. The Philadelphia Experiment – Typical ‘80s dick flick. Some conspiracy theorists claim this film is based on a true story, as in an entire naval ship really did disappear.

32. Frequency – Some people really like this movie, but it didn’t really do it for me.

33. The Lake House – Interesting concept but didn’t have much life.

34. Heart and Souls – Unique and sustained my interest, but like many of early Robert Downey, Jr. movies there was something a bit off about it.

35. Primer – Indie, good concept, realistic, but maybe a little too much testosterone and technical stuff for me because I kept falling asleep.

36. Touchback – Sweet if not a little too simplistic.

37. From Time to Time – Good cast but slow.

38. A Kid in King Arthur’s Court – Cute.

39. Bedtime Stories – Adam Sandler is in it and there’s magic; that’s about it.

40. I’ll Follow You Down – I had high hopes for this one, especially since Gillian Anderson is in it (“Fall,” anyone?). The movie looks good, but it really disappointed in the time travel department.

More Time Travel Movies  to See:

Me Myself I with Rachel Griffiths

Erased, based on the Japanese manga