Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Popularity Contest

Sorry guys! I have to do my posts late. :/ On the bright side, I found out today I got straight A's in my first semester of graduate school! :D I hope you enjoy my list! I decided I need to read a variety of books instead of latching onto series. I spent this year between classes reading all Iron Fey, Covenant, Lux series...so you'll see a pattern. lol.

Class Clown 
Uh, Puck (a.k.a. Robin Goodfellow). Duh. 
The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa

http://www.theironfey.com/TheCharacters.html  


Puck IS the ULTIMATE class clown. He revels in mischief. So much so, it's hard to take his love interest in Megan seriously. He's a red headed Summer Fey who's lived for centuries and he isn't afraid of anything. In fact, he welcomes trouble of all kinds.



Most Likely to Become a Rock Star 
Alex
Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout 

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=29141433096013
6&set=pb.285190961582473.-
2207520000.1355884302&type=3&theater












Alex just has the rockstar personality--she's hardcore, a go big or go home type of girl. She's fierce and ALWAYS ready for a fight. She can definitely hold her own. 





Biggest Flirt 
Daemon 
The Lux Series by Jennifer Armentrout 




Pretty sure the video above gives you an idea of what he's like. This is an ACTUALLY scene from the book. Man, I feel all blushy.




Fashion King and/or Queen 
Celaena 
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
You might not think so--but first of all, she wears really awesome dresses throughout the whole book and is an assassin. Pretty epic if you ask me. 

"It was not pure white, but rather a grayish offset, and its wide skirts and bodice were encrusted with thousands of minuscule crystals that reminded Celaena of the surface of the sea. Swirls of silk thread on the bodice made rose-like designs that could have passed for a work by any master painter. A border of ermine lined the neck and provided slender sleeves that only covered her shoulders. Tiny diamond droplets fell from her ears, and her hair was curled and swept up onto her head, strands of pearls woven in."  (Throne of Glass).





Girl You’d Most Want For Your BFF 
Daria from Gaia's Secret & The Keepers Flame
By Barbara Kloss 




















Daria is super awesome and super sweet. She does everything and anything for those she loves. She's thrown into the world of Gaia--full of magical and deadly things--as a human girl who has been sheltered all her life. In the end, all you want for her is to have a good friend. And Alex. Did I mention Alex...? lol.



Boy You Wish You’d Dated in High School 
Battle Round: Alex Del Conte vs. Ashallayn ' darkmyr Tallyn
Pandoran Novels by Barbara Kloss and The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa 

Description of Alex:  "Alex stood in the entryway, much taller than I remembered. His fitted, dark jeans revealed a lean, muscular build and the sleeves of his white button-up shirt were rolled to his elbows, exposing strong forearms. Not the scrawny boy I'd known all my life. He wore his hair longer, too. Dark strands now framed his face, sharpening the angels, and the green in his eyes was much greener. And more penetrating" (11, Gaia's Secret). 

Description of Ash: "The third was novel, walking behind them, was also dressed in black and silver. Like the other two, he carried a sword, resting comfortably on his hip, and his face bore teh fine lines of an aristocrat. But, unlike the others, he looked disinterested, almost bored, with the entire event. His eyes caught the moonlight and glittered like silver coins." (The Iron King). 

While Ash is super badass and all, Alex is just a sweetheart, and really--I cannot resist a sweetheart. lol. 




Quirkiest Character
Grimalkin 
The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa 


Grimalkin would say, "I am a cat" if you were to ask him why he's the quirkiest character. I supposed you'd have to read the books to find out. He's pretty infuriating. It's hard to tell what he's thinking, and he's always popping up at the right (and wrong times). Oh, the life of a cat. 




Villain You Love to Hate 
Blake 
Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout

I won't tell you why, but oh, will you HATE him. 


Favorite Parental Figure
The Del Contes
Pandoran Novels by Barbara Kloss

The Del Contes are Alex's parents and they took Daria in from the beginning. With her father always being gone, someone had to look after her. Daria is with them throughout Gaia's Secret and there through all the hardships of the Keeper's Flame. What more can you ask for but love and acceptance?



Coolest Nerd *Spoiler** 
Megan Chase 
The Fey Series by Julie Kagawa. 
http://www.theironfey.com/TheCharacters.html

It might just be because she's a techie, or that she becomes The Iron Queen, but really--Megan is the coolest nerd ever. When it comes down to it, she's incredibly loyal and she follows her heart. Like all great heroines, it lands her in hot water, but it's all worth it in the end...AND she gets cool technology along the way. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

YA Superlatives!



Jessica Love , Tracey Neithercott, Katy Upperman, and Alison Miller put together the YA Superlatives Blogfest!








I feel bad because I limit myself to reading a ton of fantasy...I cannot fill all the categories very well. I also have to read a ridiculous amount for school. So, I don't have very many books. :/


Favorite Science Fiction - Opal by Jennifer Armentrout




http://www.jenniferarmentrout.com/books/opal/ 


Oh, Katy and Daemon. They are THE couple. While Armentrout's dialogue always seems a little long-winded and off-topic, she can sure build tension! She makes you wait until you get what you want. She can also take your favorite characters and make them stab you in the heart.


Favorite Fantasy - The Iron King & The Lost Prince





http://www.juliekagawa.com/Folio.html 






http://www.juliekagawa.com/Folio.html 


I pretty much LOVE the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa, and I was SO excited to read The Lost Prince--partly because I wanted to see Megan, Ash, and Puck again, but because it meant I got to see the Nevernever again. The Iron Knight was from Ash's point-of-view and kept me on pins and needles until the end. I was never so glad to see Megan. I wondered if he had the willpower for most of the book. lol.



Favorite Paranormal - Deity by Jennifer Armentrout





http://www.jenniferarmentrout.com/books/deity-book-3/ 



Did I mention Armentrout can hurt you? Cause after reading Deity, I want to hurt someone. There are characters I hate, characters I absolutely love and things that break my heart. Pretty sure I am skipping to the back of the fourth book (Apollyon) just so I can sleep at night.





Friday, December 14, 2012

THE HOBBIT

TODAY @ 10:15 -- IMAX THEATER! 
I GET TO VISIT MIDDLE EARTH AGAIN!! 


http://www.policymic.com/articles/19632/the-hobbit-movie-release-7-
reasons-why-this-film-will-be-better-than-lord-of-the-rings

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kelley Lynn: COVER REVEAL!


I am so happy to help Kelley Lynn over at Adventures Between the Bookends with her cover reveal! I've followed Kelly for quite sometime and I love her blog and I am sure going to LOVE her book FRACTION OF STONE! 

Wow. I can't believe the day is here! Time for the FRACTION OF STONE cover reveal.

Before we get into that, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me get this far. All the fine people who are helping with this cover reveal, my CPs/Betas, family and friends. And of course, thank you to Sapphire Star Publishing for helping make my dream a reality. (And also letting me have a huge say in how this cover looks.) I am so, so excited and feel so blessed.

To thank you all, there is a drawing for 2 ARCs of FRACTION OF STONE which you can enter to win at the bottom of this post! You can enter until December 14th at which point the winners will be chosen.

Okay, now that, that has been said. Here we go!

Book information:



Fraction of Stone by Kelley Lynn

Release Date: March 21st, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing


Genre: YA Fantasy


Book Description:

Wind tunnels, torrential rains and earthquakes tear apart Casden. The cause of the world’s imbalance is unknown, but the mounting occurrences suggest there’s little time before life ceases to exist.

Rydan Gale and Akara Nazreth are the only humans with the ability to wield magic. The tattoo on their necks and the discovery of an ancient book, dictate they are the key to the world’s survival.

But the greatest obstacle for saving mankind isn’t the bizarre creatures, extreme betrayals and magic-fearing men hunting them.

It’s that Akara doesn’t believe the world is worth saving. 



About the Author:

Eventually the day came when the voices in Kelley Lynn’s head were more insistent then her engineering professor’s. So instead of turning to her Thermodynamics book, Kelley brought up a blank page on her computer screen and wrote. Somewhere along the way she became a Young Adult author.

Kelley was born and raised a Midwestern girl. She’s not afraid to sweat and fills her free time with softball, soccer and volleyball. (Though you probably don’t want her on your volleyball team.) She occasionally makes guest appearances as a female vocalist for area bands.

You can find Kelley hanging out at her blog, Kelley Lynn: Adventures Between the Bookends
, as well as the group blog she shares with her fellow critique partners, Falling for Fiction. Kelley is a member of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.

Kelley Lynn's LinksBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



Rafflecopter Giveaway: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Saturday, December 1, 2012

Quote&Unquote


I decided to give writing advice in the form of quotes from writers. These are all things I have learned to be true. I'm not sure there is any instance where a true writer has learned differently. 

“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” 
― Mark Twain

I thought this was a great way to demonstrate how to stop using unnecessary words like "very" and "that." Aladdin's example was, "You did very well on that paper", "You did damn well on that paper!" or "You did well on that paper!" 

“If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” 
― Stephen King

We all should know, as writers, that we must read to be better writers. Through reading we learn what we hate, love, and what we want to be. I learned I wanted to create a world like Tolkien created--a place I could live in and love. 


“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It's a way of understanding it.” 
― Lloyd Alexander

I thought this was interesting because many times we say we write to escape reality, but I never considered fantasy in terms of understanding reality. Many times, I think, human nature is seen clearly in terms of fantasy than in non-fiction. 


“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” 
― Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau brings up an excellent point--how can you write when you haven't EXPERIENCED? It was easier for my places and descriptions to change once I had travelled and seen different places. It was easier for me to describe feelings of love when I had experienced it. I could go on and on about things I've experienced that make my writing better, but you get the picture. I was thinking in the car on the way home yesterday, "Where is the limit with writers? When will they say "No!" when it comes to being able to convey that perfect line?" For instance--what if your main character smokes weed…and you don't exactly know how to describe that feeling? Is it enough to interview someone? Or would you feel, as a writer, obligated to smoke weed?

This is where I draw my limit. Also, none of my characters smoke weed. But I only thought of this because I went to a Coheed and Cambria concert and was thrown around in a mosh pit…nasty body odor, vomit, and--would you believe it--weed were smells that made me what to gag…and I thought, of all things, "You need to write this, Ashley!" 

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.” 
― Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

This becomes truer and truer as e-books become popular--but I will not be unfair, because many e-books are way better than some traditionally published books. The market has become a master at pretty covers and terrible content--of course, all for sales. 


“You can make anything by writing.” 
― C.S. Lewis

I love this…because it is true. 

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It's that easy, and that hard.” 
― Neil Gaiman

And wouldn't you know--this is, too. 


**all quotes were taken from http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/writing


Friday, November 16, 2012

Oh, How I Miss You!




 AndrewMatthew & Alex are hosting the "Oh, How I Miss You Blogfest!" 

Do you have a couple blogger buddies who aren’t posting as often? Those who’ve pulled back and seem absent from the blogging world? Do you have blogger buddies you are grateful they are still around and would miss if they vanished? Now is your chance to show your appreciation and spotlight them! List one to three bloggers you really miss and one to three bloggers you would miss if they stopped blogging. Then go leave a comment on those blogs.
This is an interesting blogfest for me to do since I've been absent off and on for a while, but I know I've missed some bloggers a lot! I had a hard time beginning my blog, not being able to figure out if what I wrote would be unique, or interesting, and seeing other bloggers out there writing what they wanted inspired me to keep on going. 

 List one blogger I really miss: 

K.V. Briar: TO THINK IN INK: 

I've followed K.V. for a while, and she was one of the first blogger buddies I had. K.V. has been on a blogging hiatus for a little while. She also got pretty far in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. She writers book reviews and awesome tips on writing. 

Here is Part 1 of a blog on names:http://kvbriar.blogspot.com/2011/04/whats-in-name-part-one.html

Here is Part 2 of a blog on names:http://kvbriar.blogspot.com/2011/04/whats-in-name-part-two-my-process.html

These were just a couple I really liked. Check out K.V.'s blog! :) 

The next two, I'd really hate to see leave the blogsphere. They're both super busy writers. 

Precy Larkins (a.k.a. Cherie) and A.G. Howard

You know what's awesome about these two? They're like a dynamic friend force. I followed them one day while I was blogging at school and they immediately followed me back AND commented on my blogs. They made me feel like I was a cool blogger. And they were SO kind and SO sweet! I wasn't surprised to see what a splash both Cherie and Anita had made in the blogsphere because they are truly awesome people and writers. 

You know what else is awesome not just about these bloggers, but everyone? Watching everyone achieve their dreams. I've noticed that writers I began blogging with over a year ago have agents now and on their way to being published. Isn't that awesome? So inspiring! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If I was an editor...

I wouldn't need one!

Luckily for me, I am lucky.  :D

I am lucky because a friend from my high school recently contacted me and offered to edit my book. Uh, of course I said YES!

So, for what it's worth, I am referring to her as my editor.

My editor has a degree in English and is an editor for Pearson's Publishing (educational publishing). She also has experience copy editing. She's using my book as a test run to see if she'd like to do freelance editing (I sure hope I make a good impression!).

To give you a taste of why I am SO excited, here is the e-mail she sent after I sent her my book:


Here are a couple of notes on how I'm planning on editing:
  • I'll track all my changes using Word's track changes function. This way, you are free to accept or reject each of my changes
  • I'll mostly limit myself to copyediting--checking grammar, spelling, clarity, repetitiveness, and consistency--but I'll also leave you content-related notes if I find something to be confusing or unclear. My job is not to rewrite, just to help make things clearer. You'll find I ask a lot of open-ended questions.
  • I'll use the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, and Merriam-Webster's dictionary as my main style references.
  • Since passive voice is such a common thing, I'll probably go ahead and delete unnecessary passive words; however, I'll highlight the instances of passive voice that require rephrasing in pink--that way you can see them all and adjust them as you see fit. Besides, passive voice isn't ALWAYS bad. :)
  • Likewise, if I notice a recurring issue, I'll make a note the first couple times, and then highlight that particular issue in one color through the rest of the book. That way you will still be in control, and the comments won't become overwhelming. 
  • I'll create a style sheet where I can keep track of all of the character names, locations, and their characteristics. I'll probably send this to you during my edit so you can verify the information is working out how you intended. Or, if you'd like to make a quick list of main characters/locations and what you see for those characters/locations, I'll make sure the book is achieving that end. 

I asked her if I could use this on my blog, she said sure, "Just keep in mind this is just a starting point! I'm constantly trying to evolve to make things better."

And that's why I find her so awesome.

I am BEYOND excited to have this opportunity to better my book!

Especially since I am not a good editor! :/ 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Okay, okay

Okay...I have a SERIOUS question for everyone.

Now, I have thought of several blog posts over the course of by weekdays while I am in procrastination mode. (it's bad). Very bad this time.  I FINALLY finished editing my book and I FINALLY found (or rather she found me) an AWESOME editor. So while I am adding all the finishing touches I can to my book, I was thinking about how awkward it is for me to write kissing scenes.

I mean...really?

I can read them. I can watch them. Writing them makes me blush...and it's JUST a kissing scene. Disney has kissing scenes!! Why am I all blushy and embarrassed? It's not like I don't kiss Aladdin (speaking of which, we had pics taken, look!!):



Anyways, I am one of those people who can't be in the same room when someone is reading anything that belongs to me. I run away or I make distracting noises.

Still.

Aladdin has read my books and I always feel really stupid when he gets to the kissy parts. I feel like a fifteen year old girl--all giggly and obsessed. Then I think of something Jennifer Armentrout said which was that YA is for people who like to remember all those firsts--like first kiss, first hate, first love. Maybe when I read my book this time, it was as the READER not the WRITER and all the embarrassment actually came from my characters.

Wishful thinking.

So...does anyone else have this problem? Or rather, what do you find embarrassing to write? And why?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Books I am looking forward to!

I feel like one of these posts was needed. I have recently forced myself to read things I want instead of what I have to read for Graduate School. So, here are some books I am looking forward to:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lost-Prince-Iron-Fey/
dp/0373210574/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351383508
&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Lost+Prince

The Lost Prince is the second series in The Iron Fey Series. It is already out and it is on my kindle, I just haven't finished it yet. I loved the world of the Nevernever, so I am excited to dive into the world again with Megan's brother, Ethan. If you haven't read the Iron Fey Series, you should! They were great books. I really enjoyed them. 

http://www.amazon.com/Opal-Lux-Novel-Jennifer-Armentrout/dp
/1620610094/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351383757
&sr=1-1&keywords=Opal

Opal is the third book in the Lux Series by Jennifer Armentrout. While I have some criticism of this series, I still love the books and I would have already pre-ordered this had it let me! The release date is December 11th. If you like a fun, entertaining read then check out Shadows (prequel), Obsidian, and Onyx. Jennifer plans to have a fourth book out, too. 

http://www.amazon.com/Splintered-G-Howard/dp/1419704281/ref=sr_
1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351383911&sr=1-1&keywords=Splintered

The entire blogsphere knows to be ready for Splintered by A.G. Howard. I preordered this months ago and I CANNOT wait to dive in. Anita is such a talented writer--the words in this book are just as gorgeous as this cover. 

Okay, so the list isn't long--but these are all books I have (or had) to wait for and I was counting down the days! 

What books are you excited for? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Observations

Hey guys! I have not had a life for a week, and I am about to delve into the next week of having no life. It's the 9 week mark of school and that means mid-terms...well, for me it means a ton of papers and projects due at once! :( So, before all that happens, I want to tell you about an experience I had.

Amazon sends me e-mails recommending books, and while I usually don't pay attention to them, I have been trying to find anything else to do other than my homework, and I decided to check them out. I found a few books to download like this one:


I am a little obsessed right now. haha. I have to get through this trilogy AND focus on my homework. BAD time to begin a novel. ugh. 

Anyways. Since I am a Library Science and Information Studies student, I unconsciously reflected on my search for new books and found some interesting things I thought I'd share with you. You might already do these things, or know they have a purpose, but as a writer and a student, I liked my revelation. 

1. Book covers DO matter. 

We all know the whole "don't judge a book by its cover thing" might be true, but it really isn't practiced. Even as I scanned Amazon's lists of books to read, I ignored ones that didn't have a interesting cover. That isn't to say that they aren't good books...but I just won't read what they're about if I'm not enticed by the cover. I know...I am a bad reader and writer. :( 

2. Titles Matter. 

Yeah...so...titles are important, too. I've noticed that there is this new obsession with one word titles (perhaps I am wrong, and this really isn't happening), but it SEEMS that all titles are now one word. This if fine. If the word strikes me in some way. Also, if the title is too long, I am just going to be frustrated. 

3. That really cool option on Amazon "Click to Look Inside" is important. 

I was deciding between the book above and another and the determining factor? Reading the first few sentences of the chapter. Granted, the description is helpful in a lot of ways, but in the instance of the books I was choosing between: they both had great descriptions, but only one had words that drew me in immediately. 

4. REVIEWS ARE SO IMPORTANT!! 

It SERIOUSLY surprised me how constantly I overlooked books that didn't have reviews. I know this is bad. I mean, I could the book and give it a review....but really, that's not my thing. The books I was drawn too were ones that had reviews. 


So, tell me how you look for books? What is the deciding factor most of the time? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thank You!

I wanted to thank everyone for their AWESOME feedback on my query below. I got some great comments and e-mails, all with helpful suggestions, and let me say--I AGREE. I will begin working on my changes this weekened. Like I said, I took a week break from hardcore editing and query writing so I could look at everything with fresh eyes.

Now, for some updates!

I got a MAC!



:D I am so excited! I have had a PC for years now, and I just felt like it was finally time to buy a MAC. I haven't played with it much, and I still need to get all my writing stuff organized on my PC (I am a big fan of not being descriptive with word documents...and I have a TON). It's a little fruerateing at times because it's so new, but I am sure I will love it by the time I learn everything--I already do! The backlight keyboard is a lifesaver!

Next, I am going to LONDON and FRANCE in 2014!!

I am so excited! There is a whole tour planned out that involves seeing Churchills home, and Omaha Beach. We'll spend 8 days oversees and I couldn't be more excited (even if it is two years away). By then I will have graduated from my master's program so I am calling it my graduation gift.

Alright then,

That's all I have so far! I am going to buckle down and get homework out of the way so the weekend is clear for my book and query! As always, I'll keep everyone updated!


Lots of love!
<3

Ashley

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pirates and Elves and Magic, oh my!


Hey guys! I wanted to share my newest query with you. I have another revision of my novel, but before I do that, I need to print the book and maybe hold off on reading for about a weeks so I can approach with fresh eyes.

I have been reading QueryShark's blog for the past two days. I stayed up until 12:30 just to get through most of the archives. I do this because:

1.) Query Shark says to read the archives.

2.) I learned a TON just by reading the first page of query critiques.

3.) I am not going to submit my query to Query Shark, but I need all the help I can get. I am not submitting because I don't want my query critiqued, but because she states that 99% of the queries submitted don't get posted. So, I felt it's easier to let my bloggers have at it at the moment

From Query Shark, I took tips from her "how to add plot to your query." I'd post that here, but I feel like I would betray her "read through the archives" statement. So, if you'd like to read what I read, HERE is the link to Query Shark.

Query Shark (Janet Reid) said that the age of your character isn't necessarily important to add to the query, but in mine, I am not sure if it works. She said she is always looking for VOICE. I noticed the queries she really liked were dominated by voice. Also, reading Query Shark made me realize how IMPORTANT it is that your query is polished and tight because agents will look for indicators that tell them what your book might be like--for instance, if you have unnecessary words, or long sentences. Also, no address at the top of the letter!

What I don't want in my query is "character soup" as Query Shark says. I don't want the readers to feel overwhelmed by characters. I also (as I said) need to take a break from both the novel and the query so I can return with an objective eye.

So, without anymore rambling, here is my query...please, critique away!

Dear Mr/Ms. Agent:

Eighteen year old pirate Barren Reed remembers one thing from his childhood—his father's murder at the hands of his older brother, William. Since then, he stakes out the coast of Maris, attacking any and all ships that pass through The Cliffs in an attempt to lure his brother into a fight to the death. When he learns his brother is to marry soon, Barren decides to set his attention on the fiancĂ©e. Kidnapping Larkin proves far more difficult than he ever thought--she's the most defiant and stubborn woman he's ever met, and to top it all off, she's handy with a sword.

Larkin is just one of Barren’s problems—especially when his attraction toward her grows. His brother is making plans to overthrow their uncle, King Tetherion. Turns out, Teth knows exactly what Will is looking for—a bloodstone that will give him power over dark magic. Tetherion will charge Barren with the task of locating the stone, though Barren isn’t sure he wants something so dangerous in Tetherion’s hands—especially since its existence is the reason he doesn’t remember his childhood.

Barren will face condemnation by his uncle if he chooses to destroy the bloodstone, and at worst, death, but the secrets he’s unraveled on his adventure tell him not to hand it over.

I am pleased to submit for your consideration my young adult novel, CUTLASS, complete at 90,000 words. I have a BA in English Writing and I am pursuing a Masters in Library Science and Information Studies.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely
Ashley Nixon

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

General Anxiety Disorder

Hey guys!
I know the topic of my blog is a little weird, huh? Well, not for me recently. I was diagnosed a few weeks ago with General Anxiety Disorder (yeah, it means exactly what you think, I am GENERALLY anxious). I guess you get diagnosed when your anxiety is affecting your daily life.

So, initially I thought I was stupid. I felt like, "Man, Ashley, this is something YOU can control. You are making yourself this anxious. Stop!"

Well, the problem is, I don't know HOW to stop myself. I have no coping mechanism for when I get really stressed out.

I take that back--my only coping mechanism is writing, but when I get so busy with school, work, and whatever else is happening in my life, I cannot always write. So, when that is taken away from me, I am left with a struggle between my thoughts and my body. My stress weighs so heavily upon my chest, I can FEEL the pressure. All I do is suffer through it.

An example is that I put so much pressure on myself to be absolutely great at everything. Everything I do has no other option other than you either do this or you fail (this is like when you are in the driver's seat, and you only look straight ahead, but as a passenger, you can see everything on either side of you)...I can't ever BE the passenger. I know exactly where I got this mentality, too--from my childhood. I had this whole, "Well, if you don't get a job, you can have what you need or want" so you better get a job. Then it was "Well, you need a car or you can't get to work, so you have to save for a car, and you have to work 30 hours a week" then it was "Now you have to pay for that car, so work more, more, more" Then it was "You need to work REALLY hard for this scholarship or you can't go to OU."

See my options? I gave myself NO leeway even if there was room. This has carried over into my adult life, and frankly I am tired of it. I want to cope with this anxiety and SEE the other options out there. I don't want to feel overwhelmed anymore by my own doing. Why am I telling you this?

Well, I think it's very important to realize when you have a problem. Me--well, my professor told me as a freshman I probably needed therapy because I stressed out SO much and it took me four years to listen. So, here I am--my first counseling appointment down and I am hopeful that I will be mentally healthy soon.

This step is all a part of an overall goal I set for myself in May: I wanted to be healthy in body and in my mind. So, I began working out (more on a routine this time), and I started eating healthy (completely, cutting out soda and coffee), and now I am getting help with my anxiety.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Blogfest: What's Your Chocolate?


Today I am participating in the What's Your Chocolate?" Blogfest hosted by the wonderful people you see listed on this picture above. lol.

Laura Eno
M Pax
Brinda Berry
Ciara Knight

Check out their wonderful blogs (and books!).

Okay, so for this blogfest, we are supposed to:

Post about your favorite chocolate – what it means to you, where and when you indulge, a favorite memory – anything chocolate-related."

So...

1. My favorite Chocolate:

Hershey's Dark Chocolate.


Many people don't like dark chocolate, but I swear when I eat it, I feel loads better! AND diabetics can eat it! I am not a diabetic, but my Daddy is and I tell him as a treat, he can have a square of dark chocolate now and then to satisfy his sweet tooth. Because of this, eating dark chocolate doesn't make me feel like I cheated on my healthiness. Yay antioxidants! lol. 

Now, I don't eat chocolate often, but when I do, I probably had a particularly off-day, or maybe I don't feel good. My favorite thing to do is freeze and entire bar and then break pieces off and eat them like that--for some reason, it's just better! I definitely remember days during my undergrad where I'd be studying and just stop, sigh and say, "I need some dark chocolate." Aladdin would run to the gas station near us and get a bar, and he'd get something like a Dr. Pepper (his caffeine) and it definitely made studying easier--it must have magical focusing abilities or something. :) 

What's your favorite chocolate? Or do you even like chocolate? lol. 




Sunday, August 26, 2012

Schedule/Announcement/Editing :)


Hey guys! Sorry I haven't been around as often as I would like. I have a lot of news so bear with me. :D

1. I began graduate school this week. I am taking 3 online classes because I work 40 hours during the week. My masters will be in Library Science and Information Technology, and my focus is Young Adult and Middle Grade studies.

2. Because of this, I have myself on a strict schedule:



Basically, I will begin waking up at 5:00am to work out, working from 8-5, and from 5-9 I can work on homework, or what have you. From 9-10, I will ONLY work on my book.This way, I shove everything I need to do in each day.

3. I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY BOOK!


And I am almost finished with the first set of edits. I plan on finishing the remaning 76 pages today. I wanted to take you through my editing process this time because I am notoriously...bad at editing. I don't like it, I can't tell you how many times I turned in papers that weren't edited because I just didn't like it....(probably won't be doing that in Graduate School, especially since I came up with a way that I like to do editing).

First, I made a color coded charge of what my highlights meant:



Then, I searched "Things to look out for while editing" and chose what I felt were my top problems.

A. Passive versus active voice
B. Repetition of word use (this is something unexpected. As I was editing, I noticed that I really liked reusing words.
C. Cut the use of too many adverbs.

With these in mind, I began to edit. The first five chapters of my book are not as colorful (meaning highlighted), but the rest have been vibrant. Which isn't a bad thing, because I knew what I had edited most as I went along. Also, I am sticking to paper edits until I am finished with the entire book, then I am going to focus on my word processor edits.

This process has been really helpful for me, and I also made a page of changes (using colorful sticky notes) and today I transferred that to a new outline of the end of the book.

I have come to realize that PROCESSES are the best way to get things finished, and mine have worked for me. Another realization? You NEED to find things that made what you're doing more enjoyable. I'm not sure why highlighters and sticky notes make editing more fun for me, but I definitely like it more because of that.

Okay, so I am off to stick to my schedule. :) I hope everyone has a wonderful day! I will be blogging on Sundays from now on (PROMISE), and checking out blogs. I decided I would being using the RSS feed to make it easier to follow everyone and comment and read. (I have to use it for class as well).

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Swing of Things

Well, I did not make my August 1st deadline, however, I am not too surprised, as days really do go by fast, lol. So, my new deadline is the 20th. At least it's within the month, right?

Once I finish my draft, I'll be posting about my editing/beta reader adventures, then onto more query letter posts cause we all love those right?

I wanted to talk about this rewrite in depth. I know everyone probably knows how bitter-sweet it was to let go of my old draft. It was something I had nurtured and attempted to patch up for years, and then one night, I decided to let it go thanks to a very good and insightful friend. At that point, I wanted to burn everything with it. Everything.

But I didn't.

And it was good that I didn't. I respect myself more as a writer after having gone through such a bitter 'breakup' with my old draft.

What has happened so far in this new draft?

1. It is more focus.

A few months back I wrote about how I was confused about my genre. My characters were too old, but was my writing adult enough to be considered Adult Fantasy? Then there was word count--I had too much story.

Now that I am rewriting, I am conscious of all these things. The ages of my characters are appropriate, my writing is for a YA audience, and my word count won't get too high.

2. I stopped worrying about what people would like.

Yeah. I didn't realize I did this before, but I found that I was constantly thinking about how people would react to something in my book instead of thinking about my story.

Now, I'm not saying that thinking about how people will react to your book is bad, I'm saying that while writing your book, I think it is imperative that you think of the story first, and then the reception after. Basically, take it one step at a time.

3. ...Speaking of steps...

The MOST VALUABLE thing I have learned: outlines are your friend. And you don't have to stick to the original outline or anything, but having a direction for your characters to go and having a story for your characters to follow is very helpful.

And don't think of outlines as your enemies, or as cheating, because it's not cheating...it's just not. I'm not sure why I thought they were so bad.


Okay, as far as job news goes: I get to write the newsletter!! I didn't have a very cool one this month, but I'm hoping September is pretty epic. :D

I also bought some things for my desk:


Also, I get to decorate my desk with a very important piece! 


YAY DIPLOMA!!

Okay, I am off to finish my book!

<3
Ashley

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Book Review: The Keeper's Flame.

This has been long in its coming, and I apologize (Barbara)! Today I am going to review book two of Barbara Kloss's Pandoran Novel series, The Keeper's Flame. Barbara (you can get to know her a little better over at http://scribblesnjots.blogspot.com/) is a beautiful and talented woman. She has become a source of motivation for me, and a mentor (with or without her knowing it), and she has written two AMAZING BOOKS.

First and foremost, if you have not read Gaia's Secret, DO SO NOW!

Here is a link to the book:

Kindle Edition
Paperback



Now, for the sequel: The Keeper's Flame: (WARNING, if you have not read GAIA'S SECRET, you might not want to read on!).

Kindle Edition
Paperback


Now for those of you who have read Gaia's Secret, it is about a girl, Daria Jones, who sort of stumbles into a world of magic. All her life she was sheltered by her father, though he was always gone one 'business' trips. She found happiness and comfort in a family, The Andersons, who she thought would always be there for her, but as it turns out, her best friend, Alex, just sort of leaves one day and Daria is devastated, so she pushes them away.

Then one day, all of that changes and she is pushed into Gaia in search of her father, accompanied by the Del Contes (formally, the Andersons), and Alex himself. Daria enters an amazing and beautiful world of magic and frightening creatures. It's a world where Daria doesn't really feel that she belongs--in fact, the connection she has to Gaia is so strong, the reader can feel it! It is also a world in which she HAS to belong. She has no choice--it is where her family is, where her mother died, and where secrets remained buried deep.

**Spoilers Ahead**

Now, if you didn't finish Gaia's Secret (AND I don't know how you couldn't!), you wouldn't know this, but Daria is a Princess, and The Keeper's Flame is sort of centered around Daria's inner struggle of trying to be a Princess with no magic in a Kingdom where you really are a nobody without magic. Instead, Daria trains with her brother Stephan in secret, determined to undermine her grandfather's oppressive rule. Daria is a very strong character. Not only is she independent, but she is also intuitive, having a distinct sense of right and wrong, she is very geared toward justice.

Barbara contrasts Daria well with Stephan, her brother and the heir to the thrown by demonstrating how cowardice he can be in situations, and how he is unwilling to stand up for himself or what he believes in. He sort of just goes with the flow and Daria calls him out on it. Unlike Daria, he is also not willing to take risks. You see this change slowly as Stephan realizes he cannot always be so passive.

New and old characters surface--those you will hate and those you actually (surprisingly grow to love). I won't tell you about man of them, but I'll talk about Alex. Alex appears at random throughout The Keeper's Flame, and his personality is like a spark. He is a character you automatically love and want to see more of, and it will be interesting to see how much he is developed through the other books, considering his presence will (hopefully) increase.

Now, The Keeper's Flame takes place mainly in the castle. At first I wasn't sure how this would work out. Literally, 3/4 of the book are behind walls, but let me tell you, there was no lack of action or interest! I'm not sure how Barbara managed it, but I was thoroughly entranced the whole time. Between balls and magic, and creepiness, it was a mixture of suspense and surprise. The main source of suspense comes from The Games, a tournament different territories fight in in hopes of gaining the Unity Stone, and the rumor that the Dark Rider has returned for it and Daria.

Without magic, however, Daria doesn't understand how she can be of use to the Dark Rider, and her only hope is saving Fleck, a Dalorian child who could prove to be very dangerous as he comes into his powers.

This book has so many well-crafted and well-kept secrets, you'll be turning pages to figure out who is on the right side! I can't tell you anymore, I don't want to give it away, but hopefully you'll read both books and hold your breath for the third! I am!


Monday, July 9, 2012

Snippet! :D

Hi, everyone!

I am so excited to finally begin getting into a schedule that feels right! Mind you, today was my first day at my new job, and while my brain has been packed full of new information and it will continue that way for a while, it was a wonderful first day! Now, I still have my goal set to have my first draft finished by August 1st.

See my note in my planner:


You think that's enough motivation? That face does look pretty mean!

So, there's that. Also, I wanted to share a snippet of what I've been working on...so, without any further rambling, here is a piece of CUTLASS!


Barren glared at the Elf. “Don’t tell me you expected her! How could she ever agree to marry my brother?”
Leaf shrugged, a smirk crossed his lips. “Ask her.”
Barren froze. He watched her again. She was happy; he could hear her laughter—full of love, of affection for life. His stomach flipped and a knot formed in his throat. He shook his head.
“I’ll wait,” he said.
Leaf rolled his eyes. “We’ll be here forever.”
“Well you didn’t expect me to just walk in and take her, did you?”
“Yes, actually—you’re Barren Reed, you do stupid things all the time and it somehow always works.”
Barren laughed, but said nothing. He was still watching Larkin. He wondered if she would ever be alone tonight—surely she would tire of so many people gawking at her. Barren watched the men around her. Though they had ladies on their arms, they still cast her yearning, hopeful looks. The women, though smiling and enthusiastic kept a jealous glint in their gaze, always checking their hair against hers, their dress, even the way they spoke. Did she know she had no friends among those she kept?
In that moment, she turned her head and her eyes met Barren’s. Her face captivated him—her features, though happy and joyous, did not reflect the same in her eyes. No, her eyes were filled with confusion and worry. As she stared, her smile faded, but Barren tilted his head to the side as he held her gaze and smirked. She seemed lost in that moment, unaware of what she was doing. Someone touched her arm and she broke her gaze. Barren looked away before he could tell who had disturbed her.
He turned around. “Come on, Leaf,” he said and retreated though the crowd of people and into the shadows of the courtyard. 

lol. Okay. I hope you enjoyed that! :) Tell me what you think. Do you like Leaf? I think it sounds more YA, which was my goal. 

Love, 

Ashley

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day!

Happy Birthday to America! :) I am going to my dad's house soon to celebrate! I have been working on my book furiously, trying to edit at the moment. I kinda hit a wall as to how I wanted a scene to go, so I figured I'd read and edit up until that chapter, and by then I will have figured something out. LOL.

I am hoping to give you all a little snippet soon! Also, my new job begins Monday! I am very excited to begin! I also hope to see you all more as a result! Have a wonderful day and happy 4th!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

YAY!!

Well...

I GOT THE JOB!

I'm soooo excited! I really don't think my exclamations points do enough! I am now the Quality Assurance Assistant for Oak Tree Counseling Services! I am beyond....well, excited! Guess what the determining factor was? The Lord of the Rings! How perfect is that? My new boss called up and said, "I was looking at your blog and saw your favorite book was The Lord of the Rings. That's my favorite book!"


Now comes the learning and the processing of a ton of new information, but I am very willing and ready to do this. For those of you who are curious, I'll explain what Oak Tree is about. 

Oak Tree is focused on mental health and rehabilitation. They are focused on family and the individual receiving care. They are also focused on the community and involvement. Basically, it's about providing service that goes beyond all bounds of the imagination, extending to all aspects of life, so that we can change lives.

I am very excited about this. For a very long time, my goal has been to help people. I think, as writers, we can all agree that we hope our books inspire and change others lives. Right now, I'm slowly making progress toward that goal, and in the meantime, not just me, but an entire company of sixty people, get to help people on a daily basis feel comforted, acknowledged and a little more carefree.

Isn't that great?


Also, a wonderful new blogger friend gave me the fabulous blog award!



Isn't it wonderful?

Suzanne Furness  has a wonderful blog (it's purple, and purple is her favorite color!). She writes children's stories, and her two current projects are called Arrosay a YA fantasy and Birthstone Unicorns (they sounds so wonderful!). Make sure you check out Suzanne's blog! She has a bit of everything (including some fabulous pieces of writing!).


Here are the rules: 1. Post the rules on your blog.2. Name five of your most fabulous moments, either in real life or in the blogosphere.3. Name five things you love.4. Name five things you hate.5. Pass the ribbon on to five other bloggers. (Leave them a comment to notify them of their win.)

Okay...Five FABULOUS MOMENT!

Becoming a Gates Millennium Scholar 

Going to Ireland!

Graduating with my B.A. in English Writing

Going to Machu Picchu!

My first career!
Five Things I Love: 

My books!

The Lord of the Rings

Coffee 

My Daddy 

My Aladdin


Five Things I Hate: 

Stand-by :/ 

60-hour work weeks!

Not working on my book

Smelly things

Not being able to sleep! :(


FIVE WONDERFUL BLOGS TO CHECK OUT....NOW!

Susan Francino

Trisha

Rachel Schieffelbein



Check out these amazing blogs! I hope to be around the blog sphere more like I was earlier in the year! I do miss keeping up with all my wonderful followers and finding amazing new people to connect with! 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Truths of My Writing Life:



1). Well, life gets in the way of my writing life. 

Currently, I am working everyday (that's eight hour shifts everyday, except Friday, and that one is a twelve hour shift). Yes, it is exhausting, especially on the weekends and my brain just gives out. This makes me a slow writer and it makes me a sad writer. :/ But, Friday, I have an interview for another job (it's my second interview), I'm hoping if I get it, I can drop the two jobs I have and only work 40 hours a week. 

2). School messes with your writing...and sometimes not in a good way. 

School taught me to cut A TON of words. I mean, to the point where I sometimes feel like my descriptions are too sparse. Some, I think would agree and also disagree. In any case, I have been able to kind of train myself to write differently when it comes to my novels. It is easier now that it's Summer and I have a break. In August, I will go into my Masters program which is Library Science and Information Technology. I have one class and two online classes. I'm curious to see how they affect my writing (whether that be my actual writing ability or how much time I have to write). 

3). Well, I set goals. I don't accomplish them. 

If it's one thing I learned with writing, while I can focus on it better than anything else in my life, I CANNOT force it. If I set goals, it's like a deathwish. I just won't get anything accomplished. I had a goal set for 200 pages at the very end of May...(I don't set word count goals, except for the very end of my novel...anyway)...I didn't accomplish anything. I went to Peru, was in a different space, and it was as if my creativity was zapped! 

**Just as a disclaimer, I do set goals, they are just huge goals...like this:



I think we all experienced transitions in our life that kind of hinder our creative ability. First my was moving within my town, and the busy graduations season, then traveling, and now I'm at a good medium. However, I will HOPEFULLY be changing up jobs soon, and that MIGHT hinder my creativity again, but we'll have to see! I will say, one job is better than two! :) 


4). Word Counts...(explained)



So, sometimes I see that people can write maybe...5000 words everyday. I guess that's a goal or something. Well, I am now lucky if I get around 1000 or so because I pause after so long and look at my outline to figure out how to move things around, or maybe one of my characters surprised me and decided they wanted to take charge and reveal a secret when I didn't expect it. This sets me back a little because then I have to go back and rewrite so that my current chapter makes sense and can go in a good direction. I could look at this as progress, but I'm not so sure it is. I guess I'm writing, at least. lol.

5). I don't really like editing. 

Maybe I am lying, maybe I will enjoy this edit, but I can't tell. All I know is that I usually dislike it very much. I will turn in essays that I haven't edited just because I hate it that much. It used to be because I felt I wasn't good at it, now it's because I feel after so long, I don't really accomplish much just looking at the same thing over and over again because my eyes are too used to it. 

I will say, however, on this second edit, I've been very good about editing as I go. If something changes in chapter eighteen unexpectedly, I go and fix chapter eight so everything....uh..."flows" well. haha. 

There are some truths about my writing life. I know I haven't been as diligent of a blogger like I was earlier this year, and I APOLOGIZE so much!! Maybe now you kinda have an idea of my life, though. Blogging is almost a full-time job if you do it right, and I work 60 hours a week, so I'm a little exhausted on the full-time gig. haha. 

So, what is everyone else's writing life like? Do you set goals? Or do you just tackle scenes as they come?