Saturday, August 31, 2013

Writer's Camp--Day 3

It's been a while since I've posted one of these, so let's move on to Day 3! :D

On Day 3 we did a lot of poetry and free writing. I'm pretty sure we did thirty minutes straight of free writing. We had a prompt, and for five minutes we weren't allowed to stop moving our pencil. Here's one I did from the prompt: What Does the Universe Taste Like?

The universe tastes like ice cream in the summer, cold, comforting, and sweet. In the fall it tastes like cinnamon, apples, and pumpkin pie. In the winter it tastes like cookies, hot chocolate, marshmallows, and gingerbread. In the spring it tastes like berries and fresh fruit.

But if you're floating out in space, the universe tastes like your imagination, whatever that may be. It tastes like your thoughts, feelings, and memories. It tastes like home, wherever that is. It tastes like love and friendship, hope and promise, happiness and excitement.

The truth is, the universe has no taste. It's flavorless and bland. That is, until you decide to cook something up.

After that, we moved on to poetry. We used the painting "Peasant Wedding" painted by Pieter Bruegel as inspiration. We were supposed to study the painting and choose one person (or animal) to use as the POV (Point of View) for the poem. I chose the man circled in red, the one staring at the servant.

Peasant Wedding

Guests come flooding in through the door,
Chatting with their neighbors and gossiping with their friends
Without a care in the world.
The bride sits smugly in her place of honor,
While the groom vomits his consumed liquor.
Drunkards yell, "huzzah!" after the musicians
Play their tune.
A sheep pokes his head out from under the table,
Hoping for a little food.
A child eats in the corner,
His punishment for breaking a jug.
But my eyes are not on him.
They are on another.
The woman is bent over,
Carrying a large tray of pies,
Sweet-smelling and delicious.
But not in my eyes.
Her back stays hunched over,
Even after she sets her heavy burden down.
Her limbs creak like the branches of a
Weathered tree.
She closes her eyes and groans,
Struggling to straighten.
The servant grabs a jug,
And she hobbles over to where I am sitting.
"Anything for you, sir?" she wheezes.
"Only hope," I reply. "I am not partial to drinking."

We did more poetry, this time on whatever topic we wanted:


The world is a blur of pink.
Shoes fly in all different directions as the
Little girls dance to the music.
The ballet was perfect in every way,
Feet barely making a muffled thump as they
Hit the floor and rose again.
The fairies danced around their queen,
Making flamboyant gestures with their hands.
All except one.
One fairy had danced off to the side,
Eyes closed and twirling.
She was clumsier than the rest,
Stumbling occasionally and dancing an unknown
Routine to
Silent music.
the fairies glared at the clumsy one,
Who was smiling,
Unlike the rest.
She had ruined their performance,
But it did not matter.
She was the most beautiful in the end.

Day 4 coming soon. :)

Challenge time! :D Write a poem from the POV of any person in the painting "Peasant Wedding." It can be a couplet, a haiku, a free verse, or anything else you can think of. Share in the comments! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

And the Winner Is . . .

The giveaway for the signed copy of Contaminated is over. And we have a winner!

(Drum roll please) . . .

Ashley T.! :D Congratulations, Ashley! I'll be sending you an e-mail to get your mailing address.

Sorry to everyone who didn't win, but thank you for the entries and support you showed Em and me! I hope to have more giveaways in the near future. (Any authors want to step up)?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Just a notice that the Rafflecopter Giveaway is ending today! If you haven't entered yet, now's your last chance to win a copy of Contaminated!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Proust's Questionnaire

What is Proust's Questionnaire? Well apparently it's a great list of questions to ask your characters! I'm joined today by two people. Give it up for Cosmo Moonshine and Celeste Smitherson!

Celeste: Why does Cosmo get introduced first?

Kate: Because she's the main character.

Celeste: In your opinion.

Kate: It's my opinion that counts. I'm the author.

Celeste: But--

Cosmo: Question number one please!

Kate: All right. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Cosmo: Freedom from worrying.

Celeste: A purple bunny.

Kate: Are you being serious?

Celeste: When am I ever serious? No, really my idea of perfect happiness is complete and total peace in the world.

Kate: What is your greatest fear?

Cosmo: That my mom and I are going to get evicted.

Celeste: Strange noises at night. I know, I know, it's stupid. But it really creeps the heck out of me!

Kate: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Cosmo: My low self-esteem.

Celeste: My inability to shut up.

Kate: What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Cosmo: Just plain meanness.

Celeste: Lack of empathy.

Kate: Which living person do you most admire?

Cosmo and Celeste (simultaneously): Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Kate: What is your greatest extravagance?

Cosmo: My computer, for sure. I'm surprised I'm even still allowed to keep it what with the situation we're in.

Celeste: My fancy artist's kit, complete with paints, stencils, paper, an easel, crayons, colored pencils, pastels, and more!

Kate: What is your current state of mind?

Cosmo: Relief.

Kate: Why is that?

Cosmo: Because Celeste is still my friend and Nana and Pop-Pop left after days of fighting with Mom.

Kate: And you, Celeste?

Celeste: Sadness.

Kate: Why is that?

Celeste: Because the bullies at school destroyed all of my best artwork.

Kate: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Cosmo: Piousness.

Celeste: Faith.

Kate: I sense a theme here.

Cosmo: We're not religious.

Kate: Ah. That explains it. On what occasion do you lie?

Cosmo: To avoid the truth.

Kate: Ha ha. But specifically?

Cosmo: To protect someone. To be able to "explain" where you were when you were actually getting someone a Christmas present.

Kate: Celeste?

Celeste: Ditto.

Kate: What do you most dislike about your appearance?

Cosmo: My fingernails. I can't stop biting them.

Celeste: My toes.

Cosmo: Your toes?

Celeste: They're kind of crooked.

Cosmo: When do you have time to examine your toes between this ridiculous amount of homework?

Celeste: I have sleeping issues. I look at my toes when I'm trying to fall asleep.

Kate: Ahem. Which living person do you most despise?

Cosmo (through gritted teeth): Samantha Waters.

Celeste: Same here.

Kate: What is the quality you most like in a man?

Cosmo: Um . . . confidence I guess? I like guys who aren't afraid to like art or cooking, something that's considered "girly." The guys who aren't confident with themselves resort to being walking stereotypes so they're accepted by the "cool kids."

Celeste: Patience. I have a lot of quirks to get used to. You know that, Cosmo.

Cosmo: Oh, boy do I.

Kate: What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Cosmo: I like take-charge women, like Rosa Parks and Katniss Everdeen--and don't worry, I know she's not real. Someone who can do things by themselves. It'd get tiring to have to rely on someone all the time, wouldn't it?

Celeste: Agreed.

Kate: Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Cosmo: Fine. Mostly when agreeing to do some absurd thing that Celeste suggests.

Celeste: Hey!

Cosmo: It's the truth.

Celeste: ... Yeah, you're right.

Kate: And you, Celeste?

Celeste: You don't know . . . ? What a blog is? Who Neil deGrasse Tyson is? What "Thrift Shop" is? Why Samantha Waters is determined to ruin our lives?

Kate: What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Cosmo: Polaris, my mom, and Muffins, who, sadly, isn't alive anymore.

Celeste: My parents.

Kate: When and where were you happiest?

Cosmo: Pennsylvania, where I first went camping with my parents. They were both happily married--I think--and if they weren't I was clueless. It was the first time I really saw the night sky and at the time we were one not-so-big happy family.

Celeste: Spanish class, Classroom C, the desk next to Cosmo. That was when I met my first true friend. It was either that or the table in the corner of the cafeteria on January 3rd when "the incident" came to be.

Cosmo: Oh, that was pretty awesome, too.

Kate: For the sake of our readers, what is "the incident?"

(Cosmo and Celeste exchange grins).

Celeste: They'll have to wait and see.

Kate: Which talent would you most like to have?

Cosmo (sighing): The ability to fly.

Celeste: Which talent? As in singular? God, it's like "Sophie's Choice!" Um . . . the ability to make my nose hair grow at will.

Cosmo: Eww, what?!

Celeste: Yeah! Because then I could freak people out so much that they're just staring at me and I can make a quick getaway from any sticky situation before they realize what happened!

Cosmo: You really are something.

Kate: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Cosmo: To rid myself of this curse that is being unpopular. Then Samantha wouldn't torture me.

Celeste: Absolutely nothing. I like myself the way I am.

Kate: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Cosmo: Um . . . when I . . . er . . . I got nothing.

Celeste: Come on, there's gotta be something.

Cosmo: Maybe the time I got an A plus on the pop quiz in math. You know, 'cause I suck at math.

Celeste: Apparently straight B's means that you suck at math.

Cosmo: All right, what's your big achievement?

Celeste: That time in the cafeteria where I quoted Shakespeare, made a speech, and most of the people clapped. Or maybe that time at the dance I made a short speech before a song and people cheered. Large groups of people rarely like me.

Kate: If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Cosmo: A beloved stuffed animal, because I would receive unconditional love.

Celeste: A dog. Dogs always get spoiled and pampered.

Kate: Where would you most like to live?

Cosmo: Anywhere that isn't here.

Celeste: Paris, France. Food, people speaking French, and Cafe's? I'm there!

Kate: What is your most treasured possession?

Cosmo: Ugh, it's a tie between my my teddy bear, my computer, and my very worn copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Celeste: A button.

Kate: A button? What makes this button so special?

Celeste: My grandmother had this ginormous button collection. She had a shoebox overflowing with them, buttons of all shapes, sizes, and colors. She'd collect them from old coats and shirts, she'd buy some of them, she'd find some of them on the ground. Any time she'd find a button, she'd keep it. She said each button had a story, like every person had a story. And she knew the stories of some of her favorite buttons, the ones she'd put on display. One of her favorite buttons belonged to Paul McCartney. It popped off of his shirt during a concert right in front of her--she was in the front row--and she grabbed it. Well, she got diagnosed with breast cancer and the last day I saw her, she gave me the Paul McCartney button. I still have it--under lock and key, of course--and it reminds me of her.

Kate: Aww, that's so sweet!

(Cosmo punches Celeste on the arm).

Celeste: Ow! What was that for?

Cosmo: We played truth or dare, you picked truth, and I asked you if you owned anything that belonged to your parents or grandparents and you said no.

Celeste: Well, I never knew my blood relatives! I'm adopted, remember?

Cosmo: Then why didn't you tell me the button story?

Celeste: It must've slipped my mind.

Kate: Next question! What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Cosmo: Losing someone you love forever.

Celeste: The realization afterwards when you realize you'll never see them again.

Kate: What is your favorite occupation?

Cosmo: I can't be sure, since I've never worked, but I think an author.

Celeste: Dessert sampler. I do it all the time at home.

Kate: What is your most marked characteristic?

Cosmo: Um . . . I guess my nerdiness.

Celeste: I am so obviously quirky, you'd have to be blind and deaf not to realize it.

Kate: What do you most value in your friends?

Cosmo: Loyalty. I could have a hundred friends who come and go, but the only person I'd care about is the one who stays by me forever.

Celeste: I can't agree more.

Kate: Who are your favorite writers?

Cosmo and Celeste (simultaneously): L. Frank Baum.

Cosmo: Ooh, and J.K. Rowling. She's a recent discovery.

Celeste: Thanks to moi.

Kate: Who is your hero of fiction?

Cosmo: Hermione Granger. She's smart and witty, but she's generally not made fun of for it. She's one of the cool kids who gets to hang out with Harry Potter and take down evil. It's nice to know that those kinds of people can be considered cool instead of freakish.

Celeste: Luna Lovegood. She's my twin sister, minus the spaciness.

Cosmo: And the Crumple Horned Snorkaks.

Celeste: What?! You mean those don't exist?!

Kate: Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Cosmo: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Celeste: Ha! That's what I was going to say!

Kate: Who are your heroes in real life?

Cosmo: Again . . .

Celeste: Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Cosmo: Definitely. And my mom, for not giving up no matter how hard things got.

Celeste: Aw, that's sweet. My parents, too.

Cosmo: Copycat!

Celeste: My hero is you, Kate!

Kate: I am not letting you go first.

(Celeste sticks her tongue out at me).

Celeste: You're no fun.

Kate: What are your favorite names?

Cosmo: Besides my own? I like unique names that aren't too weird. Names that are used, but not often. Like Lena, Indie, or Mika.

Celeste: Cactus!

Kate: Excuse me?

Celeste: Cactus! That's my favorite name. I'm gonna try and convince my parents to let me get a middle name. If they say yes, that's what it's going to be.

Kate: Okay . . . Next question! What is it that you most dislike?

Cosmo: Mean people.

Celeste: Samantha Waters.

Cosmo: Giant spiders.

Celeste: Not being able to stay up late.

Cosmo: Having to live next door to a guy who makes pot.

Celeste: Getting up early.

Kate: What is your greatest regret?

Cosmo: That I went on a camping trip to Pennsylvania for school. I wasn't able to say goodbye to Muffins.

Celeste: That I didn't forgive Cosmo sooner.

Kate: How would you like to die?

Cosmo: Peacefully, in my bed, surrounded by the people I love, of old age.

Celeste: Me, too.

Kate: What is your motto?

Cosmo: "Keep your friends close."

Celeste: "Eat cheese."

Kate: Really?

Celeste: Sorry, that's my other motto. My main motto is, "Shrug it off."

Kate: That concludes our interview. Thanks for coming, you guys!

Cosmo: No problem!

Celeste: Eat cheese!

Would anyone else like to ask Cosmo or Celeste a question? Leave a comment! :D

Also, be sure to check out the interview with Em Garner below! :D She's giving away a signed copy of Contaminated!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Interview With Em Garner + Giveaway

Ladies and gentlemen! The time has come to select one courageous young man and woman for the honor of representing District 12 in the 74th annual Hunger Games!

I'm only joking.

Get ready for an awesome interview with Em Garner! :D

Em Garner, Contaminated, The Magic Violinist, signed copy, giveaway,
Check out the awesome purple hair!
Em Garner writes books.
She began writing at a very young age, always preferring the stories about what goes bump in the night. An avid reader of horror, science-fiction and fantasy, she first turned her hand to short stories about the sorts of things that hide under the bed…and she kept right on going.
Now Em spends most of her time in front of her computer, writing away at all the ideas she has swirling around in her head and hoping she can get them into a story before she forgets them.
She loves zombies, unicorns, and rainbows, the color purple and the smell of roses. She hates the smell of lilies, the feeling of corduroy and biting sandpaper. (Well. Who doesn’t?)
She lives at the beach with her family, where she spends a lot of time reading and sticking her feet in the sand. She is afraid of sharks, but that doesn’t stop her from going in the water.

1. Who or what inspired you to write?

I've always told stories, and I've been writing since elementary school. When I was in sixth grade, I figured out that people write books for a living! As a job! And I decided then that's what I wanted to be when I grew up.

2. What are your top three favorite novels?

Imajica, Clive Barker. Boy's Life, Robert McCammon. Kushiel's Dart, Jacqueline Carey.

3. What is your favorite thing about writing?

Being able to tell stories and make stuff up. I love it!

4. Me, too! What inspired you to write Contaminated?

I was driving home from the beach and a line came to me "They keep them in cages. The unclaimed." I'd been tossing around an idea about contaminated protein water that made zombies, and I LOVE zombies, so it all fell into place. I wrote a few pages long hand and finished the rest of the book in a couple weeks.

5. A couple weeks! That's impressive! What is the hardest thing you've had to do in your writing?

Balance my time. I often work and work without taking a break, because it's so hard to finish anything.

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to teen writers who want to get published?

Write. And write. And write some more. Read what you like. Write what you want to read. Learn how to spell and use proper grammar, but also discover your voice -- that's what will set your writing apart from everyone else's. DREAM BIG.

7. Finally, what is your favorite thing to munch on (or sip) while writing?

Can't live without my Coke Zero!

If you'd like to win a signed copy of Contaminated, check out the Rafflecopter giveaway below! :D Thanks for doing this, Em!
Sorry, USA only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 19, 2013

On Achieving Goals and Interviewing Authors

Scroll down on my blog. You see Ivan? He's celebrating. Why? Oh, I don't know . . . Maybe because I--


(I'm a little excited).

Yes, I have officially written over 50,000 words of Cosmo. The first draft isn't finished yet--far from it, actually--but it still feels awesome to have completed my goal already.

Do you have goals set for yourself in writing? How do you meet those goals?

Here's how I met mine:

1. I pushed myself

Yeah, sure I got writer's block at times, sure there were times where I hated my characters, and of course there were times when I had thoughts like, I have no plot. This is so boring. I wouldn't even read this book. Maybe I'll just watch some pointless YouTube videos.

But when that happened I stopped, took a deep breath, and changed Ivan's picture so he started destroying his computer. I hated seeing him so angry, so I typed and typed and typed until I broke through my writer's block and Ivan could be happy again.

2. I took breaks

No one can write for hours on end without getting tired. And when you're tired, you get frustrated. And when you're frustrated, you can't write. And when you can't write, you end up wasting time on Facebook and staring at a blank page. After an hour to an hour and a half of writing--or when I started to slow down--I took a fifteen-minute (or so) break. Some great activities for these breaks include:

-Eating (Snacks filled with protein keep you going! Also sugar and anything minty, which science has proven to be good for thinking creatively).
-Reading (Something well-written and inspiring, preferably).
-Watching TV (No movies! Otherwise you'll lose track of time).
-Reading blogs (Writing blogs, blogs your friends write, food blogs, your pick)!
-Checking e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. (Do these things now so you don't do it while you're supposed to be writing)!
-Getting exercise (You've been sitting down at a computer for a while. Get moving so you don't feel so stiff when you're writing).
-Playing games (Something strategic so your brain doesn't fall asleep, but nothing too complicated, otherwise you'll get worn out)!
-Going to the bathroom (In case you're one of those ultra-intense writers that ignores this simple need. Trust me, I know some people like this).
-Listening to music (Again, something well-written and inspiring. Or maybe classical music so you can relax. But don't fall asleep)!
-Saying hi to your family (Is your dog giving you weird looks? Do your siblings/parents/kids look surprised that you've left your computer? Then you've been writing for too long).
-Taking a nap (Again, if you're one of those super intense writers that blows off sleep for a couple of days in order to get more writing done. Not a good idea. You don't write as well when you aren't rested).

3. And finally, I gave myself rewards

If I met a short-term goal, I let myself take a break, eat some chocolate, watch some YouTube videos, or play some video games. I tried to not get into anything too involved, otherwise I'd lose track of time, but something like reading a chapter of a book or watching an episode of "Friends" was a great way to relax after typing furiously for an hour.

Now that I've bored you all with the details of my writing goals, I have a little announcement to make.

(Okay, maybe not so little).

(I'm actually pretty excited about this).

(Okay, a lot excited).

I'm going to interview Em Garner! :D

Yes, I just figured out the details a couple hours ago!

And if that's not exciting enough for you, listen to this: she's giving away a signed copy of her new book, Contaminated.

Oh, yes.

If you want to win this fabulous prize, please, follow my blog to learn about the juicy details. I'm hoping to have the interview/giveaway posted here later this week, but it all depends on Em's schedule.

I can't wait! :D

All the Feels

Yet another blog link-up from "The Book Chewers."

Prompt: It's all about the feels this week! Walk us through the books that have had a profound emotional impact on you. Use the list below as a guideline, but feel free to adjust it to suit your purposes.

Made you laugh

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, Going Bovine by Libba Bray, any of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, any books from the Darkness Rising trilogy and many others.

Made you cry

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, the later Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Rising by Kelley Armstrong, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, and How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler. That's just off the top of my head, but I cry easily when reading books. If they're really good, I cry during endings, because I'm just so sad that it's over.

Left you depressed

Ugh, The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. The Host by Stephenie Meyer got me in a serious reading funk (but that book isn't exactly peppy, unicorns and rainbows to begin with). The Rising by Kelley Armstrong had a sort of bittersweet ending, but that might've just been me, because I didn't want to say goodbye to the characters right away. The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester is pretty dark, too.

Stunned or shocked you

Oh my Gollum, Insurgent for sure. Who else had no idea that that ending was coming? *Raises hand*

Left you inspired

Requiem by Lauren Oliver, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill. After I read it I wanted to get up and write or get up and do something. But when I'm inspired after reading a book, the book that I start writing is pretty much exactly like the book I just read.

Mixed emotions

Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Host by Stephenie Meyer, and any of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. I laughed, I cried, and I cried some more.

Huh. A lot of these books crossed over into different categories. The Host, Harry Potter, and Wonder, especially.

How many of these books have you read? Do you agree with the categories I put them in? Leave a comment! :D

Sunday, August 18, 2013

My Favorite Teachers (Besides My Parents)

Authors! Yes, authors can be wise teachers as well as brilliant entertainers. I'm stealing this post idea from nevillegirl at "Musings From Neville's Navel" and Cait and Mime from "The Notebook Sisters."

J.K. Rowling taught me how to be a writer.

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl taught me that romance doesn't have to be mushy fluff, but it can be smart, complicated, and, above all, well-written.

Tamora Pierce taught me how to write strong, female protagonists.

The authors of the American Girl books taught me that you can't ever grow out of your old favorite books.

James Patterson taught me all about action and fight scenes and how to make them interesting.

Lauren Oliver taught me how to "tell" your readers about your story world by writing book excerpts at the beginning of each chapter.

Veronica Roth taught me that not every dystopian series has to feature a love triangle.

Gail Carson Levine taught me how to rewrite fairy tales.

Brandon Mull taught me how to make magical creatures comes to life.

Janet Gurtler taught me how to write a bittersweet ending.

Suzanne Collins taught me all about everything dystopian in a nutshell.

Lemony Snicket taught me how not to write a conclusion to a series. He also taught me all about dark humor.

Mary Pope Osborn taught me that history often holds the best stories.

Rick Riordan taught me that mythology is awesome and that an authors should never try and outdo themselves with the same old ideas.

Beverly Cleary and Rainbow Rowell taught me that simplicity is beautiful.

Bill Watterson taught me that the best of friends don't necessarily have to be real (or human).

Kelley Armstrong taught me how to write a story with a large cast of characters and still devote a whole personality to each one.

John Green taught me how to grab readers from page one and to keep them reading to the very end. He also taught me how to make readers cry.

Kathryn Stockett taught me how to write with multiple perspectives.

Stephenie Meyer taught me that even if one book (or many books) suck, there's always the next book.

Brian Selznick taught me that a picture's worth a thousand words.

Frances O'Roark Dowell taught me how to write about best friends.

Marissa Meyer taught me that strange isn't necessarily bad.

Ally Condie taught me how to write believable love triangles.

Trenton Lee Stewart taught me all about smart writing and quirky characters.

Norton Juster taught me about witty puns.

Stephanie Morrill taught me that writing a novel can be the sweetest revenge.

R.J. Palacio taught me to never judge a book by its cover.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Paper Towns Book Review

by Karoline Kingley

Paper Towns by John Green, published in 2005 won the Edgar Award for the best Young Adult Mystery. This is the second book by Green I have read, and this book heightened my respect
for his intellect, and admiration for his beautiful penchant. When it comes to a John Green
book, you always end up learning a deeper lesson than you bargained for. In this regard I was
not disappointed when reading Paper Towns for he exemplified a theme rarely addressed: all
humans are corrupted beings, and no amount of idolizing can change that.

The Magic Violinist, Karoline Kingley, book review, Paper Towns, John Green,

18 year-old Q Jacobsen has loved his neighbor, (latch onto your seats for this name), Margo Roth
Spieglman since his childhood. But of course, everything about Margo is out of his reach. She’s
witty, adventurous and not to mention gorgeous. They’ve barely spoken to one another for the
past few years until one night, Margo arrives at Q’s window, dressed like a ninja, beckoning
him to join her. This is when Q makes his first of many mistakes. Blinded by affection, he joins
Margo without thinking, and even as their ludicrous stunt ensues, he continues to cater to her
whims. Margo has brought along Q in order to play a series of sometimes cruel pranks on all
those who have wronged her; it all makes sense however, when Margo is reported ‘missing’ the
next day.

But nobody is surprised. Attention-seeking Margo Roth Spiegleman has runaway before, always
to return…except this time. With every passing day Q is haunted by her beautiful memory, and
he eventually seeks to recover her. As he further investigates the matter with his friends Ben and
Radar, they discover she has left a trail of clues, largely pertaining to the Walt Whitman poem,
Song of Myself.

Q ends up going to rash measures in attempt to recover her, such as missing his own high school
graduation. This sort of foolish desperation leads us to realize that Q really doesn’t know Margo.
But the more he can discard his glorified opinion of her, the more Q realizes she is not the person
he thought she was.

Green thoroughly explains the truth that when we idolize something or somebody too much,
their true identity becomes blurred and we set ourselves up for disappointment. The book was
well-written, fast-paced and thought provoking, only I was slightly disappointed by the ending.
It was almost as though the author had taunted me with a tantalizing trail of treats, leaving me
to discover a bland moral lesson at the end. However, I enjoyed it more than The Fault in Our
Stars, his ever popular and most recent novel.

I would give Paper Towns a 4/5.

About Karoline Kingley:

Karoline Ott's profile photo I'm a 16 year old who enjoys writing, reading and blogging if course! I blog at "As a Teen Writer."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

ABC Book Challenge

Another prompt from "The Book Chewers."
The Book Chewers

Prompt: Have you read a book starting with every. single. letter from the alphabet?! Make a list of books you've read, from A to Z! (Bonus points to those who've read those tricky letters, like X and Z). Also, you can bypass "the" or "a" in titles, if you need to.

Here goes nothing . . .

A - All Men of Genius by Lev A.C. Rosen
B - Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
C - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
D - Delirium by Lauren Oliver
E - Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
F - The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
G - The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong
H - How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
I - Insurgent by Veronica Roth
J - Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli
K - Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
L - The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.
M - Matched by Ally Condie
N - Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
O -  One For the Murphys by Lynda Hunt
P - The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Q -  Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling
R - The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill.
S - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
T - The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
U - Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
V - The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
W - Wonder by R.J. Palacio
X - 
Y - You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins
Z -

Well, 24 out of 26 isn't bad, right? ;) But I was so close. (Does anyone know any good books that start with "X" or "Z")?

Be sure to check out my interview with authors Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson down below! :D

Monday, August 12, 2013

Interview With "Go Teen Writers" Authors, Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson

(I'm so excited about this)!

Please welcome Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson, the lovely ladies who run the blog "Go Teen Writers!" They are also the authors of Go Teen Writers: How To Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book  (which I can personally say is excellent). I asked them both a few questions about writing (and reading). I think you'll all really enjoy what they had to say!

1. Who or what inspired you to write?

Stephanie: My parents are both readers and read to me a lot, so I’m sure that inspired me. And then I attended an elementary school that really emphasized creative writing. In first grade we had writing
time everyday where we could write our own stories, and from then on I started saying I wanted to be a novelist.

Jill: I had recently quit working in the fashion industry—which was the career I’d gone to college for—and was trying to figure out what I was supposed to be when I grew up. Since I had a pretty interesting childhood/life story growing up in Alaska, I thought that maybe I could be a motivational speaker for teens. I discovered that sometimes, people hire speakers based on articles written by the speaker. So I looked into writing articles. I was shocked at how hard that was! Meanwhile, a new Harry Potter book came out (book four, I believe), and a new barrage of debates within the Christian community flared up as to whether or not Christians should read the books. The debate inspired me to write my own teen novel that everyone would love. Yep, I was TOTALLY naïve and have since learned that no one likes every book. But that’s how I got started writing fiction. And once I’d created Spencer, I was hooked. I left article writing in the dust and never looked back.

2. What are your top three favorite novels?

Stephanie: THREE? That’s impossible! Not nearly as bad as being asked to pick one, though. Currently my three favorite novels are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson, and This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. And the Harry Potter series. Oh, and Wuthering Heights. And…I’ll let Jill talk now.

I also can’t pick only three! I’ll try. But just know that every time I answer this question, it’s a different answer. I will also choose Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for the amazing dialogue, the Lord of the Rings for the wonderful story of good vs. evil, and the Harry Potter series for incredible storyworld and characters she built.

Stephanie: How funny that we write such different books but have similar favorites!

3. What is your favorite thing about writing?

Stephanie: Gosh, that might be more impossible than the book question. I’m in love with all of it, honestly. From brainstorming to writing to having a box of freshly printed books land on my doorstep. I love it all! Though if I had to pick one favorite, I would probably say the brainstorming. I often get exhausted or burned out during writing or edits, but I always deeply enjoy the brainstorming.

Jill: I love storyworld building. It’s my favorite part of the process. I love drawing maps, thinking about the people and where they live, creating a new culture and figuring out why the people are the way they are. Sometimes I wish I could stay there forever and not even write the book, but that would be silly!

4. What were your favorite things about writing Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book with each other? How about your least favorite things?

Stephanie: I loved getting to know Jill better during the process. We talk to each other a fair amount
anyway, but it was fun having a reason to talk so often. And it was great knowing that we were creating something that would be a helpful tool for teen writers. The hardest part? We were both on deadline for fiction projects, plus we were committed to keeping up the quality of the blog. It was hard to keep our energy level up, and that’s when it was really nice to be co-writing. We could help each other push through the fatigue.

Jill: It was fun getting to know Stephanie too. I wish we lived in the same town, or at least state. Also, I really enjoyed doing the typesetting for the book. That’s not something I get to do often, and I had a lot of fun creating clip arts in Photoshop that matched the cover. I likely wasted way too much time on that… I also agree with Stephanie on the least favorite thing. I never have enough time for anything, and squeezing out a quality nonfiction book wasn’t easy. I think we were both a little naïve about how long it would take us. But I know we’re both proud of the finished product.

Stephanie: Yeah, I agree with that. I think if we had known how much work we’d invest in it, we might never have started. We’re both perfectionist though, so neither of us were willing to publish something that we didn’t feel was our very best. And I was blown away by the amazing job Jill did on the typesetting. The girl’s got skills.

5. What is the hardest thing you've had to do in your writing?

Stephanie: Ooh, good question. *Sits and ponders for a long time.* Continue writing stories in the face of rejection, or criticism, or disappointing sales numbers. Normally, I have no problems sitting and writing - it’s where I want to be. But in those times, I definitely have to push through the pain to keep going.

Jill: I have to say writing and editing to very tight deadlines. This was another place I was totally naïve. I just wasn’t prepared to write that fast. There isn’t enough time to get the books to the level I want them to be at before they’re published. In fact, this is so difficult and frustrating for me that I don’t think I want to sell books off proposals anymore, just for my own sanity.

6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to teen writers who want to get published?

Stephanie: If I can do this, you can do this. I didn’t know a single person in the book industry - not even a bookstore employee - but I worked hard to develop my storytelling abilities, I learned how publishing worked, I networked, and I kept at it year after year.

Jill: Finish your novel all the way, then edit it, rewrite it, then write another book. Practice makes perfect, and only by writing and rewriting and learning will your writing be ready for publication. This is true for teen and adult writers. We’re all competing for the same publishing slots, and we all need to respect our dreams enough to put in the hard work of honing our craft.

Thank you guys so much for taking the time to do this! I really enjoyed reading your responses.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Taylor Swift "Red" Concert

Hi. Remember me? Of course you don't, because I haven't blogged in ten days. (Sorry about that). Our family's summer has been a little insane, considering we've been trying to scale back on the number of activities we do.

Anyway, let me tell you about something we did a few weeks ago.

We went to the Taylor Swift "Red" concert.

Oh, yes! After months and months of waiting, we finally went!


I promised you all a blog post about it, so here goes.

My BFF Kirsten came over to make T-Shirts for the concert. They were awesome. We were hoping that if we stood out enough, we'd get picked to go to the T-party (we didn't). But they were still awesome.

Kirsten (left) and me (right) making our T-shirts

Our awesome glow-in-the-dark "Swift" necklaces

The finished products

T-shirts: Kirsten's is on the left and mine is on the right

An up-close picture of my T-shirt

Eating a quick lunch on RED plates before leaving

Mommy getting ready to go

BFFs with matching outfits (including the red lipstick Taylor usually--er, always--wears).
The girls
Notice the red toenails?
Scout wanted to be in a picture

After a few hours of driving/waiting in traffic/showing off our beautiful homemade signs to other Taylor Swift concert-goers through the window, we arrived at the stadium. We missed one of the opening acts, but none of us really cared. The only people we wanted to see were Ed Sheeran and, of course, Taylor Swift.

At the arena

Waiting for Ed Sheeran

The boys

Yes, this is actually how close we were!


We had awesome seats

Ed on the screen

The schedule
Almost time!
Impersonating Taylor Swift's shocked expression when she comes out on stage.

Two minutes after Taylor Swift was scheduled to come on, an announcement was made. "Ladies and gentlemen," was blared through the speakers and everyone screamed, only to realize that they were announcing a thunderstorm coming our way. 50,000 people left their seats and went to take cover under the concourse until the storm passed. While we were under there, little kids were crying because they were scared of the storm. Others were crying and saying, "I want Taylor!"

Anxiously waiting.

Feeling a little worried (and claustrophobic).

Forcing smiles onto our faces, because we were all scared it was going to get cancelled. (Someone photo-bombed us, but we didn't realize it until we uploaded the pictures onto our computers).

Pouring rain

STILL waiting
Almost two hours later . . .

Eventually it stopped raining and everyone was rushed back to their seats, which were soaking wet, but I don't think a single person complained. Taylor was two hours late, but by that time everyone was just happy that she was performing at all.


This was how she opened. She started by singing "State of Grace."


Performing "Red."

There was a big screen behind us so we could see what was happening up close.

I'm pretty sure most of the crowd was crying by this point.

Performing "22" on a smaller stage closer to the back of the crowd. Closer to US.

Singing some of her older songs. I'm pretty sure she saw our glow-in-the-dark sign, because she looked over at us and smiled.

"You Belong With Me."

Singing along to "You Belong With Me."

I don't think I stopped smiling once. Or singing. Or screaming.

Even Maxim enjoyed it. And he usually rolls his eyes when I play Taylor Swift songs.

Taylor and Ed performing "Everything Has Changed."


Up above the crowd.

The crowd with their phones in the air.

Waving our hands in the air.

Screaming. (Kirsten informed me later that the people in front of us moved because we were, "screaming too loud.")

Everyone was singing along.

Singing some more.

Tired, but still going strong!

Ending with "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." (Which was OFF THE HOOK, by the way).

Fireworks! :D

Screaming ourselves hoarse and crossing our fingers for an encore.

A few minutes later and still screaming.

Taylor's not coming back apparently, so we'll keep screaming. Just for kicks.

Cleaning up.

When they started to clean up the stage, we got up to leave, still beaming. Some people behind us were still screaming, but we're pretty sure they were drunk. And there were a few empty beer cups under their seats.

The ride home was verrrrrry long due to poorly-directed concert traffic (ahem, did I say poorly-directed? I meant we weren't being directed at all). Everyone was chattering about the concert when we got in the car, but Kirsten, Maxim, and I all fell asleep a few minutes later, after our adrenaline crashed. We stopped to use the bathroom and get some food at three in the morning and got home around four thirty. We didn't actually fall asleep until five in the morning, so we all slept in until noon. If I remember right, we started talking about the concert as soon as we woke up.

The concert was amazing, and Kirsten told me later that it was the best night of her entire life. Thank you, Jim, for the tickets! :D