Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top Ten Fictional Characters I'd Want On a Deserted Island With Me

I'm participating in Top Ten Tuesday with "The Broke and the Bookish"! :) This week's prompt is: Which ten fictional characters would you want on a deserted island with you?

http://www.brokeandbookish.com/2014/07/top-ten-characters-id-want-on-deserted.html

1. Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games.

Cheating already! ;) But really, I wouldn't want just one or the other. Peeta fan or not, you can't deny that Katniss and Gale work extremely well together when they're hunting in the woods. Katniss can hunt, Gale can build snares. It's the perfect combination when you're in desperate need of food. Plus, Katniss has *SPOILER ALERT* survived two Hunger Games, so she's no stranger to danger or wild animals, even mutant ones *END SPOILERS*.

2. Hermione from Harry Potter.

Hermione has probably read every book in the library, and then some, so she's bound to have some information on poisonous foods, building a fire, and just surviving in general. She, Harry, and Ron had to camp out in the forest in the dead of winter for quite some time in the Deathly Hallows, and they survived. And if she has her wand with her, we could probably just transfigure a tree into a boat or something. Or disapparate off the island.

3. Tarver from These Broken Stars.

Tarver was a huge help to Lilac during their first few days together when they were stranded on a strange planet. It was the sci-fi version of a deserted island, and he was awesome! And he's a military guy, so if we were to come in contact with a wild animal, I know he'd have my back.

4. Jace from The Mortal Instruments.

Jace is probably the best shadowhunter there is in the series. He'd probably also know some rune that could help us out, too. Like with Tarver, he'd be great to have around if something decided to attack us. I'd be very well protected.

5. Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles.

He and Cress were actually stranded on a desert in Cress, so he has some experience with isolation and surviving in the heat. Plus, he's hilarious, so he'd be great for some comic relief. He's also an escaped criminal and hasn't been caught yet, so he can definitely survive on his own.

6. Cress from the Lunar Chronicles.

Though Cress may be small and not very strong, she's crazy good when it comes to technology. Hand her a port screen and she'd have a ship coming to save us in no time.

7. Ian from The Host.

Ian and the rest of the human community has managed to survive on their own in the desert for a long time, farming their own food and stealing supplies. He'd have no problem building us shelter and making sure we have something to eat and drink.

8. Flora and Ulysses from Flora & Ulysses.

Flora is super smart and resourceful for a ten-year-old, and she knows how to prevent all sorts of disasters from reading Terrible Things Can Happen to You! Plus, Ulysses is a superhero, so he'd find some way to get us out of this mess.

9. Four and Tris from Divergent.

They're from Dauntless and are constantly fighting for their lives. They know how to handle a gun and don't shy away from danger. Who knows what we'll find on this island?

10. Hedwig from Harry Potter.

And, if all else fails, Hedwig could always send somebody a message to come and rescue us. ;)

Who would you want with you on a deserted island? Leave a comment! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Alice In Zombieland (a Book Review)

Note From MV: This is a post by Skylar Finn, writer, blogger, and lover of books. She's going to be contributing to my blog regularly, so please give her a warm welcome!

Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter





Pages: 404

Amazon
Goodreads


She won’t rest until she’s sent every walking corpse back to its grave. Forever.

Had anyone told Alice Bell that her entire life would change course between one heartbeat and the next, she would have laughed. From blissful to tragic, innocent to ruined? Please. But that’s all it took. One heartbeat. A blink, a breath, a second, and everything she knew and loved was gone.

Her father was right. The monsters are real….

To avenge her family, Ali must learn to fight the undead. To survive, she must learn to trust the baddest of the bad boys, Cole Holland. But Cole has secrets of his own, and if Ali isn’t careful, those secrets might just prove to be more dangerous than the zombies….


When I picked up Alice in Zombieland, I had already read two books that had zombies as major parts of the story. Therefore, even though I didn’t consider myself an expert on all things zombie, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what was what. Ehh.

Consider everything you thought you knew about zombies wiped out. These zombies are nothing like that.

The zombies in this book are spectral, incorporeal things—ghosts. They are the spirits of the dead that were people who got eaten by other zombies and who didn’t fight the darkness well enough to go to heaven. That’s why everything about them is so much more terrifying and fascinating.

I’ve watched World War Z and the zombies in that movie were absolutely disgusting (and horrifying)., especially when they just drove forward in hordes.

Imagine that, but spiritual. SPIRITUAL.

Something you can’t see, can’t fight normally, and you might not even know it was there. Um, I don’t know about you, but that is the stuff of nightmares for me right there.

Not only that, but the weapons used to fight the zombies (remember, these are invisible zombies, at least to the regular human eye *shudders*) and the methods used to fight them were really amazing and had unique explanations for how they worked. I applaud the author so hard *madly claps* for coming up with this incredible paranormal contemporary fantasy world!

Alice Bell is our main character and she first sees these zombies when her family is in a car accident. She sees them eating her father. It’s kind of hard to describe how something spiritual can eat something physical, but you have to remember that humans are parts physical AND parts spiritual. And let’s just say....Alice wasn’t the same after that.

Her pain and regret are so palpable during the accident and after. You can feel her sorrow, because “sad” isn’t the right word to describe her feelings. She loved her sister, she was her world, and her mom so much. And even though her and her dad had a lot of rough patches, she loved him too. The emotions are just done so well, especially in the first few chapters.

Alice was awesome. She was so strong and scared of nothing. Add in a dash of sarcasm and some kick-butt fighting, and you have the ultimate main character. There’s also something special about Alice in relation to the zombies. *wink wink*

Alice got a best friend too. Enter Kat. Kat is the best friend ever. She’s the sass queen. She’s confident. She’s so good for Alice. They make up a power duo.

Okay...so....if not everyone (but Alice obviously is one of those who can) can see these totally terrifying intangible zombies, then who exactly is fighting against them?

*smirks* So glad you asked.

Meet the crew. Nine guys, two girls. This group of teenagers fights the zombies. Of course, I wouldn’t have accepted this so willingly if a good reason wasn’t supplied because I realize that even though it’s awesome, teenagers can’t fight all the battles all the time realistically. But there’s a reason. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but there is one.

OH. Something I forgot to mention earlier....these zombie fighters can all see the zombies and they fight them by LEAVING their physical bodies and battling them with their spirit forms.

How cool. Is that.

The plot moved well and while there weren’t any gigantic twists, there was a couple small ones that I didn’t see coming at all.

Villains? Check. Apparently some people want to stuff zombie spirits into human bodies to make unstoppable armies. Terrifying? I think yes.

This book was great! Buuut, there were some things I wasn’t as crazy about.

There’s a love interest (named Cole) who is the leader of the zombie fighters. I think he makes a great leader. He has his fighters’ loyalty, seriously awesomesauce fighting skills, and he has presence.

However, I wasn’t sure if he was right for Alice. It kind of seemed like, to me, he was all macho-
man and objectified Alice sometimes. I’m just not sure that he was the best guy for Alice. Of course, she could take him ;) and he really cared about her, but I felt like there was a chance that he could become too possessive.

Also, THERE WERE SO MANY NAMES TO REMEMBER. I am awful at remembering names.
And I’m supposed to remember all eleven zombie fighters plus other characters?? Uh. I’m going to need a notepad and pen to write these down. There’s no way I’m remembering ALL of them.

Overall this was a really great read and I recommend it to readers who enjoy paranormal, zombies, dark and mysterious guys (who have purple eyes), sassiness, and fighting for lives.




About Skylar Finn:

Skylar Finn is the pen name of a recent high school graduate (who never gets tired of saying she's graduated). Her real name is top secret because she's secretly a spy. That does spy stuff. Secretly. When she's not spying, she blogs about books, life, and chocolate at Life of a Random. Skylar loves talking with bookworms about everything, so don't be shy. She's probably weirder than you anyways.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Giveaway Winners

The giveaway has ended! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Winner of On Writing: nevillegirl

Winner of The Maze Runner: Rich

Winner of Divergent and Insurgent: Travis

Congratulations, guys! :) I'll be e-mailing you for your mailing addresses.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Six Years Ago Today . . .

I published the first post on this blog. I was eight, and I was so excited to have a blog after watching my mom and dad have so much fun on theirs. But never in a million years would I have imagined that The Magic Violinist could grow like this! And for that, I have to thank my readers--friends, family, old, and new--for sticking with me and helping to make TMV what it is now. :) I'm so glad to have met so many people through blogging!



I thought it'd be fun to celebrate TMV's anniversary with a game! I'll post six questions below that will test your knowledge about yours truly (hi!), and you can post your answers in a comment. The person who correctly answers all six gets virtual chocolate!

Are you ready? Go!

1. What is my favorite book series?
2. What is my real (full) name?
3. I regularly contribute to three blogs (besides my own). What are the names of those blogs?
4. What kind of pet do I have and what is her/her name?
5. Can you name at least three books/book series that would rank in my top ten favorite books list (besides the obvious one)?
6. And finally, I've cried while reading a lot of books, but I've sobbed with two. Which two books were they? (Bonus points if you can guess the top two TV shows that had episodes that did the same thing to me.)

Also, if you don't mind, comment and tell me what your top three favorite posts are from this past year! :) I always appreciate feedback, and this'll help me know what kinds of posts to do in the future.

Thanks again! :) I'm looking forward to the upcoming years!

WARNING: Several people have already put in their answers to the questions and I've responded telling them if they were right or not. If you want to play the game, don't look until after you've guessed!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Beautiful People Linkup--July

The "Notebook Sisters" are co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month they announce a new set of questions to answer about your character so you can learn more about them.

This month, I'll be interviewing Kya and Lane, the two protagonists of my YA contemporary romance Beneath the Moon and Stars. (I still feel a little weird writing a romance, but I wanted to branch out and do something I've never done before, and I'm actually having a lot of fun writing it!)


1. What’s their favourite food? (Bonus: favourite flavour of chocolate!)

Kya loves noodles of any kind. Lane is obsessed with peppermint ice cream. As for chocolate, Kya likes M&M's (but only out of a big bag--she swears they taste better that way) and Lane is a sucker for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

2. What do they absolutely hate?

Kya loathes her stepfather, Marcus. Lane can't stand spiders or, much to Kya's chagrin, reading books (though he'll read anything as long as it's on audio). It's just the actual act of reading words he doesn't like.

3. What do they enjoy learning about?

Kya loves music and Lane loves art, mostly painting. They're both very creative people.

4. Who is the most influential person in their life?

Kya would say her English teacher, Mr. Johnson, and Lane. Lane would say Kya and, though he doesn't like to admit it, his older sister, Becca.

5. What is their childhood fear?

Kya was, and is, afraid of Marcus, and Lane is still terrified of spiders. He's also constantly afraid that he'll lose Kya to Marcus, seeing as he has a temper (which is putting it lightly).

6. What is something they have always secretly dreamed of doing, but thought impossible?

Kya has always dreamed of running away and becoming a musician. But running away would just endanger herself and her mother, so there's no way she could actually do it.

Lane's dream is something so secret, he'd never share it with anyone. Not ever.

7. Are they a night owl or morning person?

Kya is a morning person, but Lane would say he's both.

8. Do they say everything that pops into their head, or leave a lot unsaid?

Kya tends to be very quiet, so that automatically gives her a filter of sorts, but when she does talk, she's very honest and often sarcastic and witty.

Lane, on the other hand, doesn't think before he says anything, so he constantly has a chronic case of foot-in-mouth.


9. What are their nervous habits?

They both mess with their hair. Lane spikes his up, Kya tucks hers behind her ears.

What are you waiting for? Go linkup! :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June Wrap-Up

Books I Read

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes coming-of-age stories, romance, and Catcher In the Rye (though this book was immensely more enjoyable than CITR).

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes quick reads, romance, and a good cry.

Four: The Transfer by Veronica Roth

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes Divergent, quick reads, and a chance to get into another character's head.

Doctor Who: Who-ology by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes "Doctor Who," both classic and new. This is a great book to pick up and read whenever you have a few minutes, whether you're waiting in line or stuck in traffic or waiting for the kitchen timer to beep, because you can skip around to different sections. You don't have to read it in order.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

4/5

Recommended to anyone who has dealt with depression (I haven't dealt with it personally, but people who have loved this book), likes quirky characters, and likes to laugh.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes quick reads, interesting formats (this book is told through the eyes of Clay, the main character, for half the time, and through audiotapes sent to him for the other half), and a good cry. Warning: While this book is fantastic, it's also extremely depressing, and should not be read right before or after books such as Allegiant, The Fault In Our Stars, or If I Stay.

Movies I Watched

"Spider-Man"

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled stories.

"Spider-Man 2"

3/5

Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled stories.

"Spider-Man 3"

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes and action-filled stories.

"Howl's Moving Castle"

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes anime, quirky characters, fantasy, and simple stories.

"It's Kind of a Funny Story"

4/5

Recommended to anyone who has dealt with depression (again, I haven't dealt with it personally, but people who have loved this book), likes quirky characters, likes to laugh, and read and liked It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini.

Quotes I Wrote


Lane raised his eyebrows. "Wow. I—never would've guessed you were that young. You're very . . . mature. Well, I guess I'm a bad judge of that. When I was sixteen I still thought fart jokes were funny. But you're way more sophisticated than I ever was."
"Thanks?"

"I mean, every teenage boy still thinks fart jokes are funny, right? But girls, they tend to grow up faster, you know?"

"Actually, the teenage boys I know are very different."

Lane opened his mouth again, closed it, and shook his head, face burning up. "I'm gonna stop talking now."

"You do that."
--Beneath the Moon and Stars


I bit my lip to stop myself from beaming like an idiot. “What if Thorne invited Cress to his mother’s New Year’s Eve party, to make up for the earlier disaster?”
“I think Cress would accept that invitation.”
My lip escaped its prison and my face ached from smiling so wide. “Thorne is glad.”
“Okay, you can stop that now. It was cute at first, but now it’s weird.”
“Thorne still thinks it’s funny.”
“Seriously. It’s almost creepy.”
“Thorne finds it hard to stop speaking like this.”
Kya shook her head at me, though she was grinning. “See you soon, then.”
“Thorne will count down the—”
Kya punched my shoulder.
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

She [Kya's best friend, Dakota] wasn’t someone I could talk to or hang out with like I did with Lane. Sure, we could talk about silly stuff—boys, classmates, our teachers, even bands—but we couldn’t ever have a serious conversation. Not over the loud music or the incessant clickclickclick of her typing on her iPhone, even when I was right in the middle of telling her something.
--Beneath the Moon and Stars


I stuffed my hands in my pockets and walked away. The living room wasn’t very crowded yet, but it sounded like there were at least triple the amount of people, due to the fact that everyone spoke as if they were shouting across a football field. It was as if they were trying to prove that their story was funnier than the other person’s story because they SPOKE LIKE THIS.
“AND THEN I SAID, ISN’T HE A HOOT? AND THEY JUST ABOUT DIED LAUGHING.”
“THAT’S HYSTERICAL, MARLENE! AND THAT REMINDS ME OF THIS ONE TIME WHEN WENDY WAS AT THE DENTIST.”

--Beneath the Moon and Stars


Mom always did all the talking whenever the two of them were together. Dad would grunt every once in a while, but it was very clear who was in charge.
Their conversations always went something like this:
“Paul, what do you think of these flowers?”
“Hmm, I don’t think they really go with the rest of the room.”
“Really?” She’d make a tutting noise, then, “I like them.”
“Whatever you want, dear.”
Or:
“Paul, does this dress make me look fat?”
“No, it looks fine.”
“Really?” Tutting. “I think it makes me look fat.”
“You look gorgeous in anything, dear.”
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

Obsessions I Acquired

"Sherlock." I marathon watched all three seasons in less than a week. How have I missed this show for so long?!

"The Fault In Our Stars" movie soundtrack. :) Such great music. I have to restrain myself from overplaying it so I don't get sick of it.

Picture of the Month


One of my favorite quotes from "Sherlock."




How was your June?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Recent Writing Frustrations

As most of you know, I like to work on a lot of projects at once. And while I normally have seven or eight novels going at a time (on average) I usually have two that I focus on. Right now I'm working on editing a chapter book titled The Adventure That Started With Nuts about a talking squirrel and his best friend, who's a talking chipmunk. I'm also working on a YA contemporary, Beneath the Moon and Stars.

But lately, I've been feeling stuck. I've had a chronic case of writer's block whenever I sit down to work on BTMAS, and honestly, I'm bored by edits for my squirrel story. But while that's all extremely frustrating, the result of this writer's block/boredom is good material for a blog post. ;)

When I'm stuck, you can find me ranting to my BFF via text or e-mail chat about how my characters won't cooperate. For example, here's a snippet of our latest conversation:

Me: Blah. Blah blah blah blah blah. I'm so stuck with my story. :P I seriously went on a two page tangent about makeup because I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

Anything inspiring? :P I'll take quotes, pictures, anything. (Or distractions? Funny sibling stories? What are you reading right now?)

Her:


Me: LOL XD

Lane's stuck at his mother's stupid New Year's Eve party and REFUSES TO MOVE.

I hate it when my characters refuse to cooperate. -_-

And even worse, the thing that's going to happen RIGHT AFTER this party is so exciting!!! :P

Her: Right after? Oh man, you gotta get him to move.

Me: XD I'm trying.

I then sent her some pictures showing everything I'd done to get this character (Lane) to move, none of which were working:

Banging my head against the keyboard

Yelling at my characters

Yelling at my characters some more


When I'm bored, you can find me putting off the next chapter, the next scene, in the hopes that a grand idea will just pop into my head without trying. I often use the, "waiting for inspiration to strike" excuse so I don't feel guilty about playing video games, checking my e-mail/Twitter, or watching the next episode of "Sherlock."

With The Adventure That Started With Nuts, I sat down, fully intending to get at least three chapters edited, and ended up getting sidetracked:

So that's why I've been up to these past few days.

What are some of your biggest writing frustrations? Leave a comment! (And don't forget to check out the giveaway below!)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Giveaway!

We recently went through all of our books with moving, and I happened to find a few duplicates. So I thought I'd give them away. :) There will be three prizes and three winners for those prizes. You have the chance to win either On Writing by Stephen King, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, OR Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. You have two weeks to enter. Sorry, US only. Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, "Of Spectacles and Books" is having a fantastic giveaway! Check it out here! :) 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Writer's Camp 2014!

Yesterday was the last day of my second year at writer's camp in Lititz! :) I had so much fun. It was a great group this year. It was smaller, but all of the kids that came were really serious about their writing and really wanted to be better.

And the teachers are fantastic. Dr. Scouten and Ms. Savage are super nice and friendly, and they treat you like peers rather than teacher/student. They also have a knack for critiquing your work in an honest and helpful way. They don't sugarcoat anything, but you never feel like they're putting you down. They're very encouraging and never hesitate to challenge you in ways that help you to grow as a writer. I feel very lucky to have such great mentors.

I can't post everything I did over the week (that would be a really long post) but here are some of my favorite pieces:

(This is the first chapter of my YA contemporary, Beneath the Moon and Stars):

Five dollars and twenty-five cents. That’s all that was in my pocket. That and some fuzz. I stared at the frozen foods section for a long time before deciding that Mom would prefer not to use the microwave anyway. Microwaves give off radiation, you know. And Lord knows we could do without any extra hospital bills.
Finally landing on a slightly dented box of instant Mac and Cheese (“Add hot water and enjoy!”) and a package of strawberry Pop Tarts, I proceeded to the checkout line. The line was fairly long, especially for a self-checkout line, so I picked up an over-priced tabloid and flipped through the glossy pages to discover what other see-through fabric Miley Cyrus had passed off as clothing. I was so engrossed--or grossed out--by the article that I didn't notice when somebody walked up to me.
I jumped and blinked up at the teenage boy standing next to me. He grinned from ear to ear, blinding me with his pearly-whites.
He gestured to the tabloid. “Miley Cyrus. Are you a fan?”
I blinked a couple more times. Small talk made me nervous.
“Oh! No. No, I’m not a fan.” I replaced the magazine on the rack. “Just trying to—pass the time.”
The boy nodded wisely. “Time passes too quickly, if you know what I mean. Glad you’re not a fan. I can’t stand people who like her, and you seem like likeable material. Friend potential, even. You know what they put in those? You’re up, by the way.”
My head spun as I stepped up to the checkout counter. He spoke so quickly.
“Put in what?” I asked, once I was able to get my thoughts straight.
“That.” The boy pointed to the box of Pop Tarts. “Disgusting food, if it even counts as food. The glands of a beaver’s backside are used as flavoring for the strawberry ones, and who knows what else? Who’s to say whoever came up with the ludicrous idea didn’t say, ‘What the hell, how about we inject the S’mores ones with the anal substance, too?’ I’m Harry, by the way. Harry Potter.”
He extended his hand. I took it.
“You're kidding.”
“Totally. My parents aren’t that mean. No, I’m Lane.”
“Kya. Kya Williams.”
“Nice to meet you, Kya, Kya Williams.” He winked. He was so smooth while my hands just shook with awkwardness.
I pressed a button on the screen and watched my receipt slide out as the machine chirped, “Have a nice day!”
“Still going with the Pop Tarts, huh?”
I shrugged, not looking at Lane, though I could see out of my peripheral vision that he was smiling.
“They're on sale.”
Lane flipped his carton of peppermint ice cream in the air and placed it on the counter.
“See you around, Kya!” he called, holding his hand up in goodbye.
I gave him a small wave back. “Yeah. Maybe.”

(This is a poem I wrote for a writing prompt we used. We had to take two books from the library--I chose Legend by Marie Lu and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare--and use different words and sentences from the two books to combine them into a poem.):

No news is good news, right?
But that, she knew was a lie.
It's not the best, but maybe if I wander among the guests,
Lost and aimless,
Responding to the sense that her bones were melting and
Breaking inside her.
Eyes immediately shift toward her.
Let me take your hand, and I will give you mine.
I'm going to raise the angel, and I remember the first few.
They went flying.
At that,
The light in his eyes,
Already bright,
Went to such a blaze that the
Sparks that painted the clouds overheard as they fell,
One by one,
In streaking lines of golden fire,
Were like angels falling from the sky.

(Another poem):

Haven

A sign too worn to read rests among the ivy.
It held words once,
But now only the memory of bumps and jagged edges,
A reminder of what once was
Letters and poetry.

Scrawlings and scratches,
The familiar sound of ideas emerging
And words materializing,
Like magic,
Onto the paper.

Here: free from distractions-
beeping and tweeting and pings-
A cacophony of reminders to Check Your Device,
And see who has updated their Facebook page, Twitter feed.
Consumed by the vortex of the online world.

Here it is silent,
Save for the rustle of leaves,
And the gentle rippling of water
As a duck swims around and around and around,
Stuck in an endless loop.

I sit in this haven,
This little tucked away world
And think.
And write.
And dream.

Highlights from the week:

-Meeting a girl named Peyton who loves to read and write fantasy, just like me. We exchanged e-mail addresses and are keeping in touch.
-Scoring over thirty points in "Balderdash" (my highest score yet).
-Getting to hear A.S. King speak, and having her recognize me as soon as she entered the room. She walked in and started introducing herself, but got sidetracked when she saw me and said, "Hey, I know you!" (That was pretty cool.)
-Dr. Scouten saying that my writing reminded him of John Green.
-Ms. Savage saying that I have a great voice and how she,"--doesn't want anybody to mess with it" and that she expects my first internationally known novel to be published by the time I'm 20. (I started crying a little when she said that.)
-Seeing signed copies of Fauxpocalypse on display at Aaron's Books. (We went to the bookstore almost every day before we went home.)
-My "extended family" getting to see me present a couple pieces I wrote during the past week on the last day of camp.

Pictures:

Fauxpocalypse!

Peyton and me
Dr. Scouten and me
Ms. Savage and me
My "extended family" came to cheer me on

This is the highlight of my summer, and I think it's safe to say that I'll be back each year until I'm too old to attend anymore. ;)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Aaron's Books

So I did something exciting yesterday. I went down to Lititz with four paperback copies of Fauxpocalypse and went to Aaron's Books. I'd already e-mailed them a couple months ago, and they agreed to carry a few copies of Fauxpocalypse in their store and advertise it with the "Local Authors" books. I went in, talked to Todd (the owner of the store), signed some papers, signed the books (which means that the books are now labeled as autographed copies), and voila! My book is in an actual bookstore.

And while I was there, signing the consignment contracts, the phone rang. It was someone asking for Todd. Bud--the person who had answered the phone--said, "Oh, I'm sorry, he's working with an author right now."

I was the author!!! (It's still so surreal.)

And, since Fauxpocalypse will be displayed with other books by local authors, that means that I'll be next to A.S. King's books! (Author of Reality Boy, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and many others.)

And everyone at Aaron's is so nice. Unlike Wal-Mart or some other big corporation, the employees actually know their stuff. They talk to you, give you recommendations based on other books you've read, remember your names, and they love to support their local authors, just like their local authors support them. They were so welcoming to me when I went in to talk to them. If you've ever seen "You've Got Mail," they're like the Little Shop Around the Corner, except Aaron's is going to be around for a loooong time, I just know it.

So, if you want to support Indie bookstores plus get a signed copy of Fauxpocalypse, you can always come on down to Lititz, PA and check out Aaron's Books. ;)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year





Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog meme hosted by "The Broke and the Bookish."

(I'm only including books that I read for the first time, not rereads. Otherwise, books like The Fault In Our Stars and Divergent would be on here for sure!) :)

In no particular order . . .

1. Cress by Marissa Meyer

This is my all-time favorite book from 2014 (so far). I can't wait for Winter! :)

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

This is a fantastic read. Such a great book. And the movie is awesome, too!

3. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

This book made me laugh and cry. I would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

4. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Oh. My. Gosh. I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this book!!! I admit, I had my doubts about it at first (sci-fi in general isn't--or I guess I should say wasn't, after the recent obsessions with the Lunar Chronicles and "Doctor Who"--really my thing). But after seeing so many of my blogger friends talking about it, I knew I had to read it. And I'm glad I did! :) You can read my review of it HERE.

5. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

This book took me longer to get into than the others, but it's still awesome. :) If you haven't read this series yet, please do! You won't regret it.

6. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

My first Nicholas Sparks book, and what a great one to start with! Thanks to my mom for the recommendation. :)

7. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

The best book in the series, in my opinion. Although, I haven't read City of Heavenly Fire (yet), and that seems to be everyone's favorite, based on the ecstatic texts from friends and reviews flooding my Goodreads page.

8. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

This book was so cute! :) It's a great one to read as a family, because all ages will enjoy it. You can read my review of it HERE.

9. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Though Eleanor & Park is by far my favorite Rainbow Rowell novel, Attachmentsis still fantastic. It has an interesting concept and a solid delivery. :)

10. Panic by Lauren Oliver

Despite what you may hear about this book, THIS IS NOT A DYSTOPIAN. It is nothing like The Hunger Games or any other dystopian novel. It is a great contemporary novel. It's a quick read with an intriguing concept. It's full of action that will leave you breathless and plot twists that will make you gasp out loud (I certainly did).

What are your favorite books of 2014? Leave a comment! :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beautiful People Linkup--June

The "Notebook Sisters" are co-hosting a linkup called "Beautiful People." Each month they announce a new set of questions to answer about your character so you can learn more about them. Should be fun! :)

I chose Raven as my character for this month. She is the protagonist of my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, a dystopian called Flightless Birds.



1. What is their full name and is there a story behind why they got it?

She only has a first name, Raven, which was given to her by the Flock. They found her in the forest as a baby and have sort of raised her since then.

2. How old are they, and when were they born?

16, born on April 11, 2083.

3. Describe their physical appearance. 

Short, black-as-coal hair, brown eyes, tanned skin, heart-shaped birthmark on her right shoulder. She's forced to wear raggedy clothes that are several sizes too large.

Bonus questions:

1. What is their race/nationality/ethnicity?

She never knew her parents, so she's not sure.

2. Do you have a picture of them? If so, include it!

I have three:

Erica Durance as Raven
This is the actress I "cast" as Raven, Erica Durance. Though she is much older than Raven--she's 35--she looks young enough to play her.




Raven, if she were a fantasy character.

Raven gone dark.
This is Raven when she's going through a dark spell.



3. Describe your character's personality first in one word, and then elaborate with a few sentences.

Loyal. Raven often puts the needs of others before her own and always sticks by her friends, no matter what. This is usually a good thing, but sometimes she lets her fierce need to protect her friends get so out of control that she ends up hurting herself in the process. This is where characters like Liam, Flynn, and Toby help her to stop being so "suicidal" and make her realize that sometimes you have to take care of yourself first.

5. What theme song(s) fit their personality and story arc?

"What You Wanted" by OneRepublic. Like I said above, Raven would do anything to save her friends, even if it means endangering herself.

"Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2. Never once has Raven had a real home. She's always running from place to place, barely surviving in the wilderness, sometimes not even knowing what state she's in.

6. If they were an element (fire, water, earth, air), which one would they be?

Fire. Raven is full of energy and love and deep, strong emotions. She's always on the move, always going somewhere, doing something, saving someone.

7. What is their favourite word?

She has a few: Blue, home, love, family.

8. Who’s one person they really miss? (It could be someone who’s passed away, or someone they’re not close to anymore, or someone who’s moved away.)

Blue, an eight-year-old girl who was a member of the Flock from the time she was a baby. She was like a sister to Raven, but she was killed by an Officer in the dead of night.

9. What sights, sounds, and smells remind them of that person?

The sky, blue waters, baby birds or giggling toddlers. Anything that's innocent and pure reminds Raven of her.

Feel free to answer the questions about your own characters! :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

May Wrap-Up

I thought you'd like to know that if you scroll way down and look on the right-hand side of my blog, you'll find my rating system, so you can see what I mean when I give a book/movie a certain rating.

Books I Read

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who has body image issues, likes simple stories, and quick reads.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

4.5/5

Recommended to anyone who read and liked Wonder by R.J. Palacio, likes simple, sweet, character-driven stories, and books that will make you cry.


Cress by Marissa Meyer

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes fairytale retellings, multiple perspectives, action-filled stories, quirky characters, epic romances, and a good long, series. This is my favorite book of the year so far! The Lunar Chronicles series is highly recommended to anyone and everyone.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

3/5

Recommended to anyone who likes an interesting concept, mystery, and light, "fluffy" reads. This is not a hard book to read and is a great remedy for a book hangover. In fact, I used this book to move on after finishing Cress.

Show Off Anthology by Joe Bunting

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes short stories, simple stories, quick reads, and anthologies.

Movies I Watched

"Star Wars: A New Hope" (re-watch)

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes sci-fi, space stories, and epic adventures.

"Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure"

3/5

Recommended to anyone who likes to laugh, light, "fluffy" stories, and goofy movies.

Quotes I Wrote

(I haven't written a whole lot this month, what with the move and all, but I started the sequel to The Sorceress and managed to get about forty pages done so far.)


Anya nodded again. "Of course. Extra protection never hurt anybody."

The king grinned. "Glad to hear it. Far too many generals let their pride get in the way of their safety."
"Better to be safe and have no pride than to be dead and have too much of it."
--The Sorceress #2.


He shifted in his seat, looking uncomfortable. "I have to admit, I had my doubts about you being the one to investigate the matter, what with you being--well . . . you're a girl, after all. But the popular opinion of you does seem to be very high, so I thought I'd give you a shot. Prove me wrong, eh?" 
"With all due respect, Your Majesty, I have yet to find a task I can't perform due to my lack of male parts."
--The Sorceress #2.
  

Obsessions I Acquired

DOTA 2, a video game that most of the teenagers in our homeschool group plays.

Our new house! :) My bedroom is painted bright yellow, and I got a big bookshelf that I've stuffed full of the books that were sitting under my chair before.

Picture of the Month


Our family is working on putting together a writer's room in our new house right now, so I've been thinking about what to put around in my space to motivate me to be productive. Someone on Figment mentioned how she has "writing police" all over her desk, and this picture was the first one she shared. Let's see how much it helps!



How was your May?

PS: My good blogger friend Karoline Kingley is starting up a summer book club! :) If you want to participate, check out her blog post HERE.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Alice In Wonderland Blog Meme

The Notebook Sisters turned 3!!! :) I decided to grab their tag and answer the Alice In Wonderland themed questions. Feel free to jump in!



1. Just Alice: What book cover(s) has made you super curious?

Ironically, the cover of Splintered by A.G. Howard always draws me in whenever I see it. I should really read it soon. :P

Splintered (Splintered, #1)

2. Mad Hatter: List the craziest character(s) you've ever read.

Luna Lovegood, probably (unless I'm just forgetting somebody). She's not necessarily crazy, though. Just a little odd. Sometimes I wonder if Luna is really the normal one and everyone else is crazy. ;)

3. Red Queen, Off With Your Head! What book have you felt like beheading?

Trash Can Days by Teddy Steinkellner. :P That and Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

4. White Rabbit: What books or series have been insanely popular but you've been "late" to pick them up?

The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. I need to read them!

5. Caterpillar: What's the most confusing book you've read?

Going Bovine by Libba Bray. (Actually, the craziest character I've ever read might be from that book!)

6. Dormouse: What was the last book that sent you to sleep?

Books never send me to sleep. ;) Not in the way you're implying, anyway. The lull of Jim Dale's voice on the Harry Potter audios is always a great thing to fall asleep to.

7. Cheshire Cat: Book that made you laugh and smile?

The Harry Potter series, though there are plenty more. :)

8. Knave of Hearts: Most recent character who stole your heart?

Carswell Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles, hands down. After Augustus Waters, he might be my biggest book crush.

9. Jabberwocky: Best villain you've read this year?

I haven't read any fantastic villains this year, aside from Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange, and Umbridge. Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles drives me crazy, though.

10. Down the Rabbit Hole: What's the latest book/series/author that's completely swallowed your interest?

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer!!! :) After finishing Cress, I've been obsessed! (Thank you, Notebook Sisters).

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art

(Yeah, I'm a day late. I forgot to post this when I finished it yesterday.)

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by "The Broke and the Bookish." This is my first time participating, so I'm really excited! :)

(These book covers are in no particular order.)



1. 


Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

(I have a feeling Winter's cover is going to be just as good!)

2.

Eleanor & Park
Fangirl

Attachments

Landline

3.

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

(This might be my all-time favorite book cover. It's gorgeous!)

4.


The Fault in Our Stars

5.


Wonder

6.



7.

Out of My Mind

8.

One (One Universe, #1)

9.

Alienated (Alienated, #1)

10.

Guy in Real Life 

What are your favorite covers?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Wrap-Up

I thought you'd like to know that if you scroll way down and look on the right-hand side of my blog, you'll find my rating system, so you can see what I mean when I give a book/movie a certain rating.

Books I Read

Markram Battles: Omens of Doom by M.C. Muhlenkamp

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes short stories, dystopian, and The Hunger Games. You can find my review of it HERE.

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes urban fantasy, romance, and a good, long series.


A Separate Peace by John Knowles

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes a simple plot and a character-driven stories. This is a great introduction to classics, because it's not difficult to read.

What is the What by Dave Eggers

2/5

Recommended to anyone who likes to learn about history through something that's more interesting than a textbook.

Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger

1/5

I loathed this book so much, I don't even know who to recommend it to. (But I know people like it, so go ahead and try it for yourself, if you want.)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes interesting layouts (the entire book is told through letters), simple stories, fantastic characters (including Charlie, the first protagonist I've loved in a very long time), and a surprising ending.

The Girl In the Arena by Lise Haines

3/5

Recommended to anyone who likes dystopian (thought not necessarily The Hunger Games, despite what the Goodreads book description may say--it's nothing like THG) and a long lead-up before finally reaching a big finale.

Cut by Patricia McCormick

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who has dealt with self-abuse (though I've never cut myself, reviews of people who have raved about it), likes character-driven stories, and quick reads.

Free Four: Tobias Tells the Story by Veronica Roth

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes Divergent, quick reads, and a chance to get into another character's head.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes middle-grade books (though this book will appeal to people of all ages, trust me), quick reads, and quirky characters. You can read my review of it HERE.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

4/5

Recommended to anyone who likes fairytale retellings, dual perspectives, action-filled stories, and a good long, series.

Movies I Watched

"The Day of the Doctor"

5/5

(This is a continuation of the TV show "Doctor Who.") Recommended to anyone who likes to laugh, likes science-fiction, action-filled stories, fantastic characters, and a good cry (which you will several times throughout the series).

"The Time of the Doctor"

5/5

(This is a continuation of the TV show "Doctor Who.") Recommended to anyone who likes to laugh, likes science-fiction, action-filled stories, fantastic characters, and a good cry (which you will several times throughout the series).

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes simple stories, fantastic characters (including Charlie, the first protagonist I've loved in a very long time), and a surprising ending. (I highly recommend reading the book first--with any book adaptation, but especially this one!)

"The Avengers"

3.5/5

Recommended to anyone who likes superheroes, action-filled stories, and likes to laugh.

Quotes I Wrote


I turn to him. "Where is he? Where are you keeping him?"
He chuckles. "Why should I tell you?"
I glare at him. "I will rip you--limb from limb--until you're nothing. Until all that's left of you is a head. And that head will tell me where he is."
--Flightless Birds


“Well, well,” he says, voice a little breathy. “What have we got here?”
I try to put as much hatred into this one glare as much as possible. “You’ve crossed the wrong person.”
--Flightless Birds

I don’t wait to hear the rest of Toby’s sentence, if there is even more to hear. It seems like I’m living in a world full of unfinished sentences these days.
--Flightless Birds


“I can take care of myself.”
“My dear, I have no doubt of that. But everyone needs a shoulder to cry on. Everyone needs a hand to hold.”
--Flightless Birds


The boy pointed to the box of Pop Tarts. “Disgusting food, if it even counts as food. The glands of a beaver’s backside are used as flavoring for the strawberry ones, and who knows what else? Who’s to say whoever came up with the ludicrous idea didn’t say, ‘What the hell, how about we inject the S’mores ones with the anal substance, too?’ I’m Harry, by the way. Harry Potter.”
He extended his hand. I took it.
“You’re kidding.”
“Totally. My parents aren’t that mean. No, I’m Lane.”
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

But she had this look about her, like she was a pile of stone waiting to be chiseled into something beautiful. 
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

She flung herself back against the seat. “God, I’m such a mess today. I got a D in English, I broke down in a grocery store, I shoplifted, and now I’m in—” Her eyes widened a little. “A total stranger’s car, and he’s taking me who knows where. Oh, God.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m just taking you to my house.”
She didn’t look remotely comforted by this fact. I didn’t blame her.
Kya shook her head and stared back out the window. “You could be a murderer, or a rapist, and I just got in your car?” She phrased it like a question, like she was asking herself how she could be so stupid.
“We all do stupid things when we’re upset,” I said, trying to be comforting, but also trying to convince her that I wasn’t a psychopath. How do you convince a person that you’re not a psychopath?
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

Becca stared, open-mouthed, and pointed to Kya.
"Who is this? Where did she come from?"
"I told you I was going to Jake’s [the grocery story]," I said. I poured the cocoa into two mugs.
Becca looked incredulous. "So you bought a person?"
I shrugged. "She was on sale."
--Beneath the Moon and Stars

Obsessions I Acquired

A video game called Terraria, which my brother Max and my friends, Rich and Brennan, introduced to me.

Tea! Okay, it's not an obsession (most of the things on here are just new things I've discovered and liked), but I've been trying tea--different flavors with different sweeteners--for a while now, and I've finally found a kind I like. It's a tea flavored with orange rind and sweet spices, cooled with milk, with some chocolate/coffee ground-up goodness sprinkled on top (thank you, Trader Joe's).

Picture of the Month


This is a picture of Raven from Flightless Birds, if she were a fantasy character.



How was your April?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Query Letter Question

(Wow, I haven't posted for a while. How did that happen? Anyway.)

Hello, again! I'm back, at least for a little while. I'm going to be pretty busy this next week with packing so our family can get ready to move into our new house next week (!!!). I feel like we're getting ready for this fantastic journey, when in reality we're moving two minutes down the road. But hey, a new house, however far away it is, is still an adventure! (I think my brother is most excited about the intercom system.)

But I'm getting distracted. I have a question for anybody out there that has advice for me. It's about query letters. When writing a query letter for a picture book, should you tell the agent everything that happens in the book, ending and all, or not? For example, should I write:

Casper is a ghost. He’s also hungry. He wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but there’s a slight problem. He’s out of peanut butter.

Or:

Casper is a ghost. He’s also hungry. He wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but there’s a slight problem. He’s out of peanut butter. Casper is willing to try anything he can think of to fix this, and he does. Once he’s able to get his hands on some peanut butter, though, he discovers a new problem. He used up all the jelly.

I've never queried a picture book before, so I'm not sure what to do. I'm open to suggestions, so please comment away!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Another Liebster!

Thank you, Laure! :)

Laure's Questions

1. Fiction authors: How do you use your blog?

All sorts of ways. I write book review, I blog about writing, I do memes, I share tidbits about what's going on in my life. I blog about everything you can imagine, and then some.


2. Do you have a master plan for accumulating hundreds of thousands of fans?

Not really. Just by networking naturally, I pick up readers and find a few gems myself. There's no grand plan involved, just doing what I love best.


3. What is the easiest part of writing for you?

The first draft, by far! Creating characters and whole new worlds is my favorite part. The very beginnings of the story is the most exciting for me. There are hundreds of pages just waiting to be written, and I get to decide what goes on them. It's amazing.

4. What is the hardest part?

Editing. :P My books are all little parts of myself, and it pains me to cut and change all my hard work, however necessary.

5. How much are you bothered by typos or misplaced words in other people’s stories?

We're all human, and humans make mistakes sometimes. I don't gasp and point fingers and tut at every extra letter or missing apostrophe. I do get annoyed, though, when I try to read a blog post or article about something I'm genuinely interested in, and instead of relaxing and letting my eyes roll over the words, I have to decipher the meaning of everything the writer says. I'm trying to read a blog post, not crack a code! And by now, everyone should know the difference between its/it's, their/they're/there, and your/you're. Those drive me crazy.


6. What is the best technique you’ve found for hunting down such problems in your own manuscripts?

I try not to do everything at once. When I start editing, I do a quick spell check, then work slowly, chapter by chapter. My critique partners are great at catching misplaced commas and semicolons, and my mom never hesitates to point out mistakes she catches! I always appreciate it when someone tells me I've misspelled a word or forgot a period.

7. Do you fully form your characters before beginning a story?

It depends on the story. Sometimes all I have is a name, and other times I know exactly what happened during her seventh birthday party. But I've never once created a character that I've completely stuck with throughout the entire story. I always end up changing at least one thing about my characters, even minor things.

8. If so, does the story ever end up needing those characters to be majorly different?

Again, it all depends on the story. Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

9. How do you generally perk up a bit that has turned out kind of boring?

Through editing. I never try to change boring bits or parts that don't make sense in the first draft. I always focus on pushing past it until I do revisions. Usually I end up cutting boring bits all together, or adding a bit of dialogue. I struggle with description, so sometimes when I try to make an effort, I end up over explaining and boring myself.

10. Describe yourself in three words.

Bookish, empathetic, kind.

My Questions

1. Fantasy or sci-fi?
2. Male or female protagonists?
3. Epic adventures or simple, small-town life? (This can apply to books and real life.)
4. What book would somebody have to pay you to read?
5. What book have you reread the most?
6. Do you buy used books? Why or why not?
7. What genre would be wildly out of your comfort zone to write/read?
8. First drafts or edits?

9. What is your biggest source of inspiration?
10. Do you write stories based on real life experiences? Why or why not?

Nominees 

At this point, I've lost track of who I've already nominated and who I haven't. Anyone who would like to participate, jump in! :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"Bohemian Rhapsody Stuffed Animal Music Video"

My brother Maxim, my friends Rich and Brennan, and I all worked together for a total of four and a half hours to create this music video. It stars our stuffed animals, who danced and acted to the lyrics of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Enjoy! :)


Monday, April 7, 2014

Winner of the Fauxpocalypse Giveaway

And the winner of the Fauxpocalypse giveaway is . . .

Robyn LaRue! :)

Congrats, Robyn! I've just sent you an e-mail. Thank you for entering, everyone!

Be sure to check out my post below!

Royalties

I got my first round of royalties a few days ago from Fauxpocalypse! :) It was so cool to see the PayPal e-mail and to know that the reason I was getting it was because of an actual book my story was published in. All of the authors from the anthology have been pretty excited. I still can't believe that exactly one year ago today, my mom sent me an e-mail with only one thing in it: this link. The subject? "Interesting website that might interest you."

So glad it did!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Markram Battles: Omens of Doom (a Book Review) Plus an Interview With the Author!

Markram Battles: Omens of Doom by M.C. Muhlenkamp


Pages: 67

Earth is no longer Earth. The Markram Empire has transformed its once colorful cities into conglomerates of white concrete and glass where combatant divisions continue to thrive amid the eager demands of a bloodthirsty society.
 
Thirteen has already chosen to fight for her freedom as a warfare entertainer. But the fight for her survival is just beginning. Her unmistakable connection with her Unit Leader spawns their biggest challenge yet. Seven cannot control her, nor does he want to. Their bond has become a weakness. A flaw. A frailty that could prove their ultimate undoing.


I think I loved this book even more than I liked the first one. While the first Markram Battles book felt like set up--which is good, because it gave me a chance to get a feel for the characters--this one felt like action. I understand Seven and Thirteen better now, I like them more, I feel for them when they hurt. Though sometimes I got the characters mixed up--especially since everyone is named after a number--there weren't too many to keep track of. I like it better when stories have a small cast of characters rather than large ones.

The length of each short story was perfect. They were short enough that I didn't feel overwhelmed and wanted to keep reading, but long enough to deliver a good story. Hall of Monsters was my favorite. There was a nice mix of action and description throughout all three stories, and the writing was lovely. This quote, for example, is one of my favorites:

"Most people picture hell as a fiery inferno of darkness. But they are wrong. Hell is white, white as snow. Spotless. Stark. Incandescent. A sandy cage of crystal glass where strangers come to gloat at the monsters they have created."
Seven's voice comes out flat. "You are not a monster."

"Are you sure about that? We kill for a living. Thrust our blades into the souls of our rivals only to satiate the blood thirst of a crowd that wouldn't enjoy watching more than to see us die."
He lets out a grunt, barely loud enough for me to hear. "We fight to live."
"We fight to survive. This is no way to live." I drop my head and look at the metal floor before me.
"What are you saying?"
For a second I don't think I am strong enough to answer, but when I open my mouth, my words come out in a whisper. "I'm saying that maybe this isn't worth it."
Seven leans closer. "I think we are worth it."
My eyes snap back up, tears pooling at the edges of my vision. "I think we are damned."

And the ending was perfect! The cliffhanger on the last story is one of the best cliffhangers I've seen in a long time. I can't wait for the sequel!



(Actual rating: 4.5)

Amazon
Goodreads

Meet the author:







M.C. (Melissa Carolina) Muhlenkamp was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She is a lifelong reader, food lover, and slightly obsessive writer who loves nothing better than to lose herself in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. Whenever she isn't writing, you can find her on Pinterest, unleashing frustration on her vegetable garden, or most likely, chasing her kids around the house. She lives and writes in sunny California, but you can visit her online at www.mcmuhlenkamp.com.

Connect with M.C. Muhlenkamp

Twitter: @mcmuhlenkamp


Interview


1. Who or what inspired you to write?

I don't think I can pinpoint one specific event or person. Maybe it's because I can't remember a time when I didn't write something. Writing has always been there. Sharing my writing with others however, took place because I had to make a choice. I arrived at a point in my life where I knew I had to either do something with it, or just conform myself with writing and dreaming all by myself forever. I am not a conformist. Never have been. Never will be. So, I did the opposite. I plugged my nose and took the plunge. 

2. What are your top three favorite novels?

Really? Can you torture me any more with this question? Answering it has left me depressed and practically bleeding over a giant stack of books. I feel like a traitor just so you know. However, after much deliberation and personal struggle here are my top three.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

3. What is your favorite thing about writing? How about your least favorite?
My favorite thing is research. I love reading and I love reading with a purpose. Research is just an excuse to do just that. That's when the drafting part of a story comes alive in my head. Different aspects I have learned through research come to play and mingle with already existing ideas, and the result is pure magic. I get all giddy and excited and my creative wheels begin to spin. My least favorite thing is outlining. Some writers don't do it. I've found it indispensable, however tedious it may be. 

4. What inspired you to write Markram Battles?

A combination of things. I like to think of Markram Battles as a dream that went to play with the X-Men in ancient Rome. It merges three of my favorite interests into one project. Sleeping. X-Men. And history. It all started with Seven, one of the main characters. My dream with him was more like a nightmare, but it stuck with me enough to dig deeper. That led me to study the concept of the X gene, which is the mutant gene in X-Men, as a possible explanation for an evolved race of humans with supernatural powers. Ending with the speculation of gladiatorial games within that frame of work. Like I said, a dream that went to play with the X-Men in ancient Rome.

5. What is the hardest thing you've had to do in your writing?
I have to say editing. It is such a painful process, but, oh, so necessary. Slashing scenes, cutting sentences, digging deeper into subjects, killing characters all together is not fun. Especially when someone else is saying you have to do it. But the end product is always worth it.

6. What is your favorite writing snack/beverage?

Water. I can't write while I snack. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to take a break every once in a while and clear my head before diving in again.
7. What is the best way--in your opinion--to bust writer's block?
There is no secret formula. Just sit back down and continue typing. I know it hurts. I know you feel like your head will explode while your body remains glued in front of the computer dripping with blood. But there’s no way around it. You can take breaks, clear your mind with another project, spend the next few weeks or months reading while you procrastinate, and even spend hours trying all the little tricks and tips you read online, including that one about standing on your head while drinking a glass of water. But sooner or later you’ll have to come back. Sooner or later that same headache inducing feeling will come back, and you will just have to deal with it. Don’t think other things won’t help. I have certainly tried many things that have helped me spur a new wave of inspiration, but in the end the best thing for me has been to sit back down and continue typing.
8. What is the best piece of advice you could give to teen writers who want to get published?
Start now. Don't wait until later to get out there and explore. Share your writing, enter contests, meet other writers. Time's a waistin' when you already know what you love to do.

Lightning round!

Chocolate or peanut butter?

Chocolate

Cats or dogs?

Dogs. Cats don't like me.
First draft or edits?

Edits. They make all the hard work worth it

Melissa will be answering any questions you may have for her, so feel free to leave her a comment at the bottom of the post! :) Thanks for stopping by, Melissa!