Monday, July 22, 2013

What I've been up to...

I feel sort of mischievous, lol.

I made a HUGE decision on Thursday last week which kept me from my lovely blog and all you lovely people.

I mean, I guess it's not HUGE...but huge.

I decided to quit my job as a Quality Assurance Manager.

Yep. Decided it was not right for me. Decided that, in order to be the writer I AM, I needed a change.

I gave my notice today, and I will have my last day August 23th.

I'm so excited for this new journey and you know what? I'm not scared. I'm so happy. A huge weight was just lifted off my shoulders at this decision.

I've read about other writers quitting their jobs. Sometimes, I think the stress zaps our creativity. Sometimes, you just really don't wanna have any other job but writing.

So I made a decision.

I chose writing. I choose to write.


Friday, July 19, 2013

In Response to my Previous Post...

I think this quote sums it up nicely:

“You have to write the book that wants to be
written. And if the book will be too difficult for
grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

― Madeleine L'Engle

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Giving Tree: Creepy or Cool?
I want to know what you guys think. As a child, I loved The Giving Tree. I thought it was an amazing book. I can't really tell you why. I'm pretty sure I registered that it was sad. I'm pretty sure I realized that the tree gave the little boy everything she had. I never considered this relationship to be unhealthy, however. 

Recently, I have read arguments about how the tree is so co-dependant upon the boy, and how this is so unhealthy to teach a child. I've read that this is not a children's book--though to me, it is a children's book because I grew up with it presented to me as such. I've read that people considered this book is just down right creepy and terrible.

But how is it really terrible? 
What makes a book terrible--if a book is well-written and well-illustrated, how can it be terrible?
Aren't books supposed to teach lessons? 

What is the lesson of the giving tree? Is it co-dependence? unconditional love? Is it supposed to be sad? Is it satire? 

You know, Swift's A Modest Proposal was about eating children and people took it seriously. He was criticized. He was also joking...he was teaching lessons with his writing through his satire. 

I'm not saying The Giving Tree is satire. Do we know what Shel Silverstein was thinking when he was writing his books? No. But, he felt it was good--and though it was his bestseller, it also wasn't his favorite book. I think Silverstein believed in the simplicity of his book--he also believed that, as a creative person, he shouldn't worry how people receive his books. 

"People who say they create only for themselves and don't care if they are published... I hate to hear talk like that. If it's good, it's too good not to share. That's the way I feel about my work. So I'll keep on communicating, but only my way." (source)

I like Silverstein's lesson--as a writer, I want to communicate in my own way. I don't want to be censored. If the libraries censor me (and they didn't censor Shel Silverstein when I was a kid), that's cool--my books are still teaching a lesson somewhere. 

Thing is, The Giving Tree, to me, isn't just for kids. It's for adults. Kids, Adults--whatever--you're all gonna take away what you want from the book. If you see unconditional love, you'll see it. If you see a whole lot of creepiness and co-dependance, that's what you'll see. It's all about perspective. 

Me, I love The Giving Tree, and I sure will read it to my kids in the very far future. 

So, tell me--what do you think? Controversy around books cannot be avoided, but just as the banned-book debate, do you think this controversy is silly? Do you think it has substance? Does it matter? Do you agree with Silverstein? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Things that make my Monday hard...

Hey guys! Sorry I was MIA a little bit last week. Work has gone crazy. The reason it has gotten crazy is the topic of this blog--

The topic is a woman. She's actually my Best Friend Forever. Her name is Emily.

Emily (left) and me!
Emily was the Finance Director at our place of employment, and the 5th was her last day. I don't think it's really sunk in that she has left yet. It's just like she's on vacation or something. The 9th was my official 'one year' at our place of employment--and marked a whole year of knowing Emily. 

When I first met her, she came up and shook my hand and she said, "Oh my gosh! I've been so excited to meet you! Garza (our boss) came to me and said "The girl I just hired reminds me of you!"

Garza couldn't have been more right. Emily and I are two peas in a pod. lol. We call each other our sister from another mother. We refer to each other as "my twin" and just recently celebrated something we like to call our "Twiniversary." It was an amazing day filled with...


The movie "Beaches":

And a whole lot of positive thinking and best friend stuff. The point is, it's gonna be hard to be at work without my bestest friend in the whole wide world. I rely on her for almost everything and I miss her a lot when she's not at work. Now I have to text her to get answers to all my questions or just to hear her encouragement--and though I am thankful I can still text her, there's just something comforting about being in the same building as your best friend. 

I have other best friends, and I love them dearly, but there's something about Emily--I know we were meant to meet. I know that there's something special about how she believes in me and how I believe in her. Just last night she said, "Ashley, I've never had a best friend who believed in me like you do" and I could say the same about her. In the end, it feels like I've known her all my life. 

Who is your best friend? What do you guys do together to celebrate your BFF? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Reading to Become a Better Writer

We have all heard that we should all read to become better writers. Read your genre. Read. Read. Read.

I agree. 

But rather than read a ton of books in your genre, or just a ton of books in general, you should also read books on craft. 

Now, if you're like me, this might seem insulting a little at first. You might think, "I'm a good writer, I don't need that!" but really, you do and we all do. 

See, not all books out there are necessarily well-written, and maybe while you're reading, you pick up some of those incorrect writing ticks like dialogues tags or using too many adjectives. Maybe you don't actually understand how a book is crafted as a writer, you just understand it as a reader (this was me). 

Honestly, it was a hard decision to begin reading about my craft because I felt like a failure (I don't even know why!), but I am so happy I did. 

The first book I read, as I have told you all is John Truby's Anatomy of Story: 

Link to Amazon
I have the beautiful Barbara Kloss to thank for this introductory!

Recently, I've ordered more books on writing and they include: 

Link to Amazon

Link to Amazon

Link to Amazon
While I don't write Romance, I do have romance in my books, so I figure I'd benefit from this read! I found these on A.G. Howard's Website . I wanted something to read and I remembered she had an awesome library I could pick from. 

What kind of books do you read to develop your craft? 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Music Monday: Ed Sheeran

Okay, I'm sure you've all heard of Ed Sheeran by now. If you didn't know, he pulled a fast one in his video Lego House. I thought it was hilarious (and sorta creepy). Tell me what you think:

Anyone else keep going " that Ron Weasley? can't be...I thought this was an Ed Sheeran video!"

Friday, July 5, 2013

Flavorful Fridays: Quinoa Stirfry

Do you like fried rice? 
I sure do.
But it's not necessarily healthy, so I found this awesome recipe I absolutely LOVE. It's called Quinoa Stirfry. 

First, if you don't know what quinoa is, it's nothing to be afraid of! It's like a seed and it's high in fiber and good in almost anything. Sometimes, I cook 3 dishes in a week with quinoa. 

You can find the recipie HERE

This is what the ingredients look like: 

1 cup pre-rinsed quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth, optional chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1 cup finely diced carrots
1/2 cup minced green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas (thawed)
2 eggs, beaten (omit for vegetarian)
Kosher or sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons lite soy sauce

I use shredded carrots and I also don't like using soy sauce, so I left that out...and on this particular occasion, I wanted some shrimp in this dish as well. This recipe is AMAZING. It tastes just like fried rice without the icky feeling you get in the pit of your stomach after you've eaten a bowl of real fried rice.

Have you tired Quinoa? Do you like it? Or does this just freak you out? 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Author Interview: Micalea Smeltzer

Today I am interviewing Micalea Smelzer, author of the Outsider Series and most recently, the Second Chances Series

What inspired you to write?

I’ve been making up stories since before I could write. I would draw scribbles on a piece of paper and then tell whoever would listen, the story in my head. So, I really don’t know what inspired me. Writing has always been a part of my life.

2. Why did you decide to self-publish? Tell us about your journey, were you nervous? How did you find an artist for your covers? (which are all so gorgeous, btw)!

I made the leap to self-publish after I got really sick and nearly died. (I’m fine now! I promise!) Before I got sick I was pursuing traditional publishing and had never thought about self-publishing. When I was in the hospital I was completely distraught by the fact that I was dying and I was never going to live my dream. Once I got better, my dad suggested self-publishing and I basically told him to take a hike, lol. But that planted the seed, I started researching (I mean, A LOT of researching) what self-publishing was all about and decided to take the leap. I haven’t looked back and it’s been the greatest experience of my life. I have no regrets with self-publishing. I was definitely nervous in the beginning, and I still get nervous with each new book released, but I love the freedom I have with self-publishing. For example, I get to pick my covers. ;)

I stumbled across Regina Wamba of Mae I Design last August. I had designed my previous covers and so Regina was the first cover designer I ever contacted. I had no idea what to expect. She replied back and I immediately knew she was the perfect cover artist for me. She’s kind and extremely talented. Plus, she wants to make sure you get the cover you want and she won’t settle for less.

3. Undeniable is the second book in the Second Chances Series, with Unraveling being the first. What inspired you to write this series?

I got the idea for Unraveling, last spring/summer (2012). I kept thinking about a girl, who had been through something tragic, and didn’t like to be touched, and began to wonder, how would she fall in love? It took off from there. I didn’t have the time to write Unraveling until February of this year, but it has been one of my favorite books to write.

Originally, Unraveling was meant to be a standalone. But Regina posted the picture that is now the Undeniable cover, to her facebook page, and I thought it looked so similar to the Unraveling cover that it got me thinking. From there, Karlie was born, because Jared didn’t have a sister at first, and I knew it would be her story.

I think my favorite thing about writing this series has been the theme of: Even though you’re broken, it doesn’t mean you’re irreparable.

4. Unraveling and Undeniable are New Adult books. Did you intentionally write New Adult, or did it just happen? And while we’re on that topic, gives us an idea of why you think New Adult is an important category in literature.

I would say it just happened that way. Back when I got the idea for Unraveling, “New Adult”, hadn’t even been coined yet.

I think New Adult is an important category because it bridges the gap between the YA and Adult genre. I’m college-aged and while I still read YA books sometimes, I occasionally want some extra steaminess, but I don’t want to read about people that are my parent’s age, lol. I want to read about characters MY age that are going through the same things that I am.

5. What’s your next project?

My next project is another New Adult Contemporary Romance titled Finding Olivia. I am SOOOOOO excited about this book. I love all my books, but this one is my favorite (so far). Here’s the blurb:

How far would you go to find yourself?

That’s the question that’s been haunting Olivia Owens for years.

All Olivia has ever wanted to do is live and make mistakes, but her preacher father has made that impossible. She believes that her years at college will be her ticket into the real world and her chance to be wild and spontaneous.

But she’s never been able to do it on her own.

At the start of her sophomore year, she only has four things crossed off her Live List, but that’s all about to change thanks to a chance encounter with Trace Wentworth. She’s about to learn that there’s more to this reformed bad boy than just his looks and panty dropping smile.

Trace can’t explain what it is that draws him to Olivia.

All he knows is that he wants to get to know the girl with the sad smile but sparkle in her eyes.

When she tells him about her list, he knows that this is his chance to get to know Olivia Owens. Trace is determined to show Olivia that she can do all the things she’s ever wanted to do. So, he begins to help her cross things off her list, even the more outlandish requests.

What happens along the way is more than what Olivia or Trace ever expected.

Love, laughs, and a list.

That’s the name of the game when you’re Finding Olivia.

Not-so serious questions:

1. Were you good at English in school?

English was one of my best subjects, even if I did hate writing essays. ;)

2. Do you buy books based on their covers?

I would say that I pick up books based on their covers, but I don’t buy them based on that. If a book has an awesome cover, but doesn’t sound like something I’d be interested in, I won’t buy it.

3. What was your favorite childhood book?

My favorite childhood book was Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen. I read it in middle school and it cemented my love for reading.

4. Tell us about your puppies! (Had to, I love shih tzus!)

I have three hairy, four-legged, children named Benvolio (Bennie), Balthazar (Zar), and Tucker. All three are shih tzus and I love them to death. They’re the best.

Order Undeniable!

Want to keep up with Micalea? 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Look what I made Monday!

I have a ton of wine bottles. I also have a lot of wine (I bought like three bottles that are sorta not to my tastes, and some when I was in Italy)...but that's all besides the point. Anyways,  Aladdin and I have already made wine bottle lamps, and those are really neat, but I decided to make something else out of them after I saw the coolest thing on Pinterest!

....yarn wrapped wine bottles!! They are adorable!

Okay, so you need....

Wine Bottles


You'll use Modge Podge and paint a strip on as your wrap the yarn around the wine bottles. Don't pull too tightly, or you won't get an even wrap! I also found it easier to tape the top of the yarn inside the mouth of the bottle before I began.

This is the finished result: 


I loved these so much, I wrapped my pencil holder, too!

Then, I had a few corks I didn't know what to do with, so I put them in an old wineglass:

Pretty cute cork holder!

Okay, needless to say, I had a craft weekend. Do you like crafts? What's the coolest craft you've done?