Monday, December 30, 2013

End of the Year Wrap-Up

The end of 2013 is upon us! It's always bittersweet to say goodbye to a great year and take on a new one, but I'm planning on making 2014 just as great as 2013. Let's look back on the year.

Top 13 books

(In no particular order):

1. (and) 2. Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth
3. (and) 4. Eleanor & Park and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (New favorite author that I will be stalking in 2014. Eleanor & Park is the best book I've ever read after Harry Potter, and those who know me well should know that's high praise.)
5. How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler
6. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
7. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
8. Reality Boy by A.S. King
9. The Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong.
10. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
11. The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill
12. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
13. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

New blogging friends (limit to five)

Yeah, I had to give myself a limit, otherwise this post would've been loooooooooong.

1. The Notebooks Sisters! :D Cait and Mime are hilarious and quite possibly evil. They might be plotting your demise at this very moment. Actually, they're probably sleeping seeing as they're in Australia, but I'm sure they're plotting your demise in their dreams. Their minds are strange and scary things. I find myself bookmarking nearly every single one of their blog posts, because I know if I go back to them, I'll get a good laugh.
2. Karoline from "As a Teen Writer". In the short time I've known her, Karoline has really taken charge and taken off! We've been swapping blog posts (which, by the way, will start up again in January), she's been giving great advice on writing, and she's starting an online book club. Pretty sweet, huh?
3. The Book Chewers. I've had tons of fun with my fellow chewers over at TBC. Lydia, Cait, Charley, and Kristin have introduced me to tons of new books, as well as fun aspects of old books that I'd missed. We've laughed (and cried) over the same characters and fallen in love with the same thing: reading.
4. Bethy from "Rainbows and Penguins". There's really no other way to describe her blog other than fun. She's always mixing stuff up on her blog, whether it's the topic of her posts or the design, and she's always up for a conversation. I've really enjoyed everything she's written!
5. storytellergirlgrace from "StorytellerGirl". Not only is she a dedicated reader and commenter, but she also has a fantastic blog! She's had posts about everything from her favorite words, to her favorite music, to memories from her childhood. They're always deep and thoughtful, even with the simple things.


New obsessions

-"Gilmore Girls" (My new favorite TV show. My mom and I only have three more episodes to go. :( Sad and happy at the same time. I want to read Lauren Graham's book, Someday, Someday, Maybe).
-Rainbow Rowell (See above).
-Twitter (Way more fun than I could've expected)!
-Imagine Dragons
-Goodreads (Yeah, I've finally joined. I'm still getting the hang of it all, but I'm learning!)

Most played songs

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" -- Lorde
"Amsterdam" -- Imagine Dragons
"Demons" -- Imagine Dragons
"Radioactive" -- Imagine Dragons
"It's Time" -- Imagine Dragons (Told you I was obsessed).
"Brave" -- Sara Bareilles
"Bohemian Rhapsody" -- Queen
"Just Give Me a Reason" -- P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
"Cups" -- Anna Kendrick (I can do the motions, too. It drives my brother crazy, but once you learn how to do it, you have to do it any time the song comes on.)
"Change" -- Taylor Swift
"Jump Then Fall" -- Taylor Swift
"Sweeter Than Fiction" -- Taylor Swift
"We Remain" -- Christina Aguilera
"Atlas" -- Coldplay
"I'll Be There For You" -- The Rembrandts
"Same Love" -- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert
"In My Life" -- The Beatles
"Wonder" -- Natalie Merchant
"Walk Like An Egyptian" -- The Bangles
"The Night Santa Went Crazy" -- Weird Al Yankovic (My brother and I are strangely obsessed with this song).
"With Or Without You" -- U2
"Where the Streets Have No Name" -- U2
"Beautiful Day" -- U2
"Lil' Red Riding Hood" -- Amanda Seyfried
"It Will Rain" -- Bruno Mars
"A Thousand Years" -- Christina Perri
"Here Comes the Sun" -- The Beatles
"Fix You" -- Coldplay
"Roar" -- Katy Perry
"Volcano" -- Phillip Phillips
"Close Your Eyes" -- Michael Buble
"Place For Us" -- Mikky Ekko
"Falling" -- The Civil Wars
"Counting On You" -- Mikey Wax
"Safe and Sound" -- Taylor Swift
"Gone" -- Ioanna Gika
"Toxic" -- Melanie Martinez
"Gone, Gone, Gone" -- Phillip Phillips
"Skyfall" -- Adele
"Say Something" -- A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera

(Wow, that was a lot. At least I can say I have variety.) :P

Strangest Google search used to find my blog

"..the magic is in you ..expect the unexpected ..just breath 'til the time you'll understand it all" Yeah.

Five most popular blog posts

1. Strangely enough, number one is "A Lengthened Version of the Story In My Post Called 'Short Story'", which is a post from 2011. I really did not know how to write short blog post titles when I was 11.
2. "Quotes From Cosmo--Part 1"
3. "Writer's Camp--Day 3" (Holy crap, I didn't finish those yet?! Whoops.)
4. "30 Days of Gratitude--Days 11-15"
5. "An Interview With Katherine Fauccet and Kristen Willowfeather"

Three big things that happened in 2013

I got published (!!!).
I went to the Taylor Swift "Red" concert with my family and BFF.
I went to Writer's Camp.

Image from this year

I. LOVE. THIS.


Favorite quote from a book

“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.” -- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (I think most writers identify with this while they're "in the zone").

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”-- The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

“You are the noblest, purest creature I've ever met. The universe will be a darker place without you.” -- The Host by Stephenie Meyer

“Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other.”-- Allegiant by Veronica Roth

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” -- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” -- The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

“Becoming fearless isn't the point. It's learning to control your fear, and how to be free from it.” -- Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Favorite quote

YES


This year in one word

Unique

Goals for 2014

Get an agent. (Dreaming big here, but if I don't try, how will I ever succeed)?
Finish edits on The Sorceress.
Finish writing Flightless Birds and Cosmo.
Work on not procrastinating.
Stop using so many emoticons. Seriously, it's getting ridiculous.

Goals for 2013 that I've accomplished

My handwriting has improved profoundly.
I finished writing The Sorceress.
I got published.

Goals for 2013 that I didn't accomplish

Because it's good to recognize your failures, too.

I still procrastinate. A lot. But I'll work on that . . . at some point . . . (Seriously, though, 2014 I'm cracking the whip)!
I still bite my nails some, though I've improved. They're definitely longer and healthier. So not a complete failure, I guess.

See ya' later, 2013! Bring on 2014!

What are your goals for 2014? Anything big happen in 2013? Leave a comment! :D

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

And a happy New Year. :)

Credit goes to my BFF and her awesome photo editing skills

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Am a Published Author

Remember this post?

Today, at 12:33 PM, the Kindle version of the Fauxpocalypse went up on Amazon. That's right. I'm now a published author!!!

I wasn't really sure how to act. Jump up and down? Open my window and shout, "I'M A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!" at passing cars? Eat a gigantic bowl of ice cream?

Then I figured I'd come post on my blog. This is where I started, after all. My entire online presence started here. (Thanks, Mom!)

(I still can't believe this is happening)!

So if you want to share this post, or tell your friends all about the Fauxpocalypse, or buy it yourself, it'd be much appreciated. :)

Thanks so much for your support!
MV

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet (a Book Review)--"SHE MENTIONED GILMORE GIRLS!!!"

WARNING: Post contains spoilers. This book is the sequel to The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet, another fantastic read. :)

The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill

 

Released: November 7, 2013
Publisher: Novel Teen Press 
Pages: 346

For once, Ellie Sweet has it all together. Her hair now curls instead of fuzzes, she’s tamed the former bad-boy, Chase Cervantes (she has, right?), and her debut novel will hit shelves in less than a year. Even her ex-friends are leaving her alone. Well, except for Palmer Davis, but it can’t be helped that he works at her grandmother’s nursing home. Life should feel perfect. And yet, it’s not that easy. Ellie’s editor loves her, but the rest of the publishing biz? Not so much. And they’re not shy about sharing their distrust over Ellie’s unlikely debut. Ellie has always been able to escape reality in the pages of her novel, but with the stress of major edits and rocky relationships, her words dry up. In fiction, everything always comes together, but in real life, it seems to Ellie that hard work isn’t always enough, the people you love can’t always be trusted…and the dream-come-true of publishing her book could be the biggest mistake she’s made yet. 

This book was perfect in every way! The plot was realistic and well-balanced when it came to showing both Ellie's writing life and her social life, I could easily relate to Ellie as a teen writer, and I found myself highlighting entire chapters in my Kindle because they were just so. Good.

Let start with the plot.

Like I said before, the plot was realistic and well-balanced. Ellie's writing journey wasn't a perfect, lollipop-lined, road of success. She had ups and downs just like any writer, and that's what made her so human. The plot twists were perfect in the sense that they alluded to them, but you didn't really see it happening until it happened. You really saw through Ellie's eyes, felt what Ellie felt, hoped for what Ellie hoped for.

Which brings us to characters.

I loved Ellie. She could be me in four years, except I probably won't have won the Great Debut Contest (and not only because it's fictional). I was able to relate to her as a fellow teen writer trying to make it in the world, but even if you aren't a writer, she definitely goes through normal teenage girl things. (Breakups, fussy relatives, friendships that don't always work out, etc.)

I loved Ellie so much, that I felt everything as she felt it, figured everything out as she figured it out. I saw through her eyes, and I thought that was awesome. When Ellie was swooning over Chase, I thought he was the greatest guy ever. When he frustrated her, I was frustrated. When he broke up with her, I was sad on her behalf (although I did recover more quickly than she did). The only thing I disagreed with her about was Palmer. Well, Palmer during her relationship with Chase. I thought Chase was too protective of Ellie. Palmer was right. When Ellie was dating him, being friends with Chase was a given, but when Ellie was dating Chase, Palmer was excluded. I didn't think that was cool at all.

I cheered when Palmer showed up on Ellie's doorstep with her book and they talked about "Rafe" (*cough* Palmer *cough*) and they finally kissed. Like in all the good romance novels, the heroine does end up with her best friend.

I even loved the "smaller" characters, like Tori and Betsy Ann. Jayna, the teenage girl who shows up to Ellie's signing and has been stalking her online for ages now, could've been me.

But the small things I loved in this book really made everything count. I loved . . .

Ellie blog, "Sweet Scribbles"
The way she and Palmer finally got together, through her writing.
Bianca and Marie showing up to her signing to forgive her.
The way Palmer asked Ellie to prom.
The ending line (so perfect).
The way Chase called her Ellie Jane.
The plot twist with Bronte and the Barefaced Book Reviews (SO SO SO PERFECT!!!!).
The way Palmer called her Gabrielle.
When Stephanie Morrill mentioned "Gilmore Girls" . . . twice!!!
Karen's support towards Ellie.
The snippets of Invisibly Yours.
All of the behind-the-scenes shown about the publishing industry.
Palmer, Palmer, Palmer.
And everything. :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

5 Books That Have Helped Me as a Writer (Guest Post)


Note from MV: This guest post was written by my awesome blogging friend, storytellergirlgrace! :) You can visit her blog HERE. Please give her a warm welcome!

This post is probably not what you're thinking. I'm not going to list my favorite books about writing. Books about writing are good, but I believe that it's just as important for a writer to read plain good writing. A well-written story that inspires you is just as important as a grammar-and-syntax guide. So here is a list, in no particular order, of some of my favorite books that have helped me to be more passionate about my writing.

Wired that Way by Marita Littauer - This is a non-fiction book about personality types and how to get along with different sorts of people. It's not about putting people in little boxes of "this type of person, that type of person" - it is about how to understand people who might be very different from you, and learning how they think and why they act the way they act. Not only does this book help you to understand yourself and your loved ones better (and thus, maybe minimize relationship confusion and disagreements), but it can help you understand your readers. If you're writing for any kind of audience (as opposed to just writing a private journal or for your own amusement), then you will have readers who don't always think the way you think. Learning how to get along with people can really help you to not alienate all of your fans. Also, from a writing craft perspective, understanding different personalities can help you to develop characters. Just like every real person is different, your characters should all have some unique traits and quirky differences, too.


The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – Pretty much my favorite fantasy series ever. (And yes, it’s a series – but it still counts). My mom read these to me when I was little, and I've re-read them many times since. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe inspired one of the first novel-length stories I ever wrote and finished (okay, it was probably a novella - but I was in fifth grade). Fantasy stories - especially tales of ordinary people who find themselves involved with a fantasy world - has always been my favorite genre to read or to write.


Beatrix Potter's books - The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Tailor of Gloucester, etc, etc. These classic children's stories were read to me when I was little, then I continued to read them as I learned to read myself. Fuzzy animals, gorgeous artwork, a touch of fantasy - what's not to like? And recently I've been reading more about the author herself, and her love of nature and love of good storytelling. A writer needs a few heroes or role models, I think, and writer/artist/conservationist/businesswoman Beatrix Potter is one of mine.


The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson - This might be considered a "success" book or a "business" book. But if you're wanting any kind of career in writing (full-time author or otherwise), you need some business know-how. And who doesn't want to be a success at whatever they're doing? "Success" doesn't mean "money" or "status" - it means living up to your full potential and being happy with your pursuits and results. This books teaches on the basic principle of "doing a little bit every day" to succeed and achieve your goals. Great for writing, great for life.


The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - And The Silmarillion, and The Hobbit, and The Unfinished Tales... I haven't read everything Tolkien ever wrote about Middle-Earth, but I've read a lot. It's fantasy story-telling at its most epic, and heavily influenced by mythology. I was already a fan of ancient mythology in general when I first started reading Tolkien's stuff, and these books showed me that it was possible to channel that interest into my other love, writing. While Tolkien's writings are a tad verbose, and maybe even "old-fashioned" in certain ways, he did a masterful job of creating stories for a modern audience that still held all the mystery of those ancient myths.


What are some of your favorite books that have helped you to become a better writer? Leave a comment!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

Recently the hits on my blog have gone way up. They've nearly doubled. I'm also getting way more blog comments than usual and I've noticed that I have thirty-two e-mail subscribers. W-O-W.

I'm not blogging for the numbers. I'm not looking to make money off of advertisements or anything, because quite frankly, advertisements annoy me. So you won't have to worry about that from me. I blog because I like blogging. I like it much better than keeping a journal or anything like that. And of course it's fun to share what's going on in my life with my family and friends, but my blog has grown to be more than just a public journal for extended family and close friends. In fact, most of my readers are people that I've never met in real life. Pretty cool, huh?

I like networking and meeting awesome, nerdy, bookish, online friends. I like finding new blogs and adding them to my Feedly. The internet can be a mine full of crap, but finding awesome blogs like the ones I follow is like finding a gem in the middle of all the nonsense.

So though I am blogging just because I like it, it is kind of cool to be able to say you have thirty-two e-mail subscribers and almost fifty unique visits a day. And not to sound cheesy or anything, but I really couldn't have done any of that without you, my faithful readers.

Thanks for the comments,
TMV

Monday, December 9, 2013

Flightless Birds

(No, this post will not be about penguins or ostriches).

I completed NaNoWriMo!!! :D While my story isn't finished (far from it, actually), I hit the 50,000 mark on the 30th. Here are the ins and outs of my book, Flightless Birds.

Book cover:



Book Synopsis:

Raven doesn't know her last name. She doesn't know her first name, either, since Raven is just a nickname given to her by the Flock. Found hidden in the bushes as a baby next to her dead mother, the Flock took her in and raised her as her own. They're always on the run, the Flock, and now the members are starting to drop like flies. President Hunter's out to kill them all. If you're gay or if you're related to someone who is, you're dead. If you know, you're dead. If you know, and you spread the secret--
You're worse than dead.


First line:

My day started and ended with Blue.

Pinterest Board:

Click HERE to see it. Personally I like Willow Shields as Blue and Johnny Depp as Duke best, because they both really look like my characters.

Soundtrack:

"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons (An awesome song for the entire book. It really matches the theme and the mood of it.)

"Burn" by Ellie Goulding (The Flock's theme song).

"Gone" by Ionna Gika (This song would play right after Blue's death).

"My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light 'Em Up)" by Fall Out Boy (A really powerful, sort of angry song for one of Raven's fight songs).

"Girl On Fire" by Alicia Keys (Raven's theme song).

"Atlas" by Coldplay (This would play at the beginning of the book. It just really fits somehow.)

"We Remain" by Christina Aguilera (This would play at the end of the book. Not telling you who remains, though. ;) )

"Come & Get It" by Selena Gomez (This is really loud and intense, perfect for the lead up of the final battle scene between the main character and the villain).

"Not With Haste" by Mumford & Sons (A song that would play during the "credits" of the book. ;) )

"Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence (Another intense song. Maybe for another battle scene? I'm not really sure. Flashes of scenes from the book just played in my head when I heard it, so I added it in.)

"Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2 (This really describes the whole Flock's situation. They're always on the move, always trying to find a temporary home. Their streets have no name, since they're living in the wild.)

"The Ruler and the Killer" by Kid Cudi (The villain's theme song).

"I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran (Love this song. It's mellow, but powerful. I imagine a temporarily-defeated Raven walking through burning forests when this song plays.) 

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Lorde (This song is dark and haunting. It describes the villain perfectly. And her voice is awesome.)

"Place For Us" by Mikki Echo (This is one of my favorites from this soundtrack. It basically mirrors the dialogue of the main characters, asking if the horror will ever end, if there's a place for them where nothing bad ever happens.)

"Counting Stars" by OneRepublic (The perfect song to describe one of the character's inner thoughts--not telling you who)!

Favorite quotes:

My day started and ended with Blue.


“Raven, Are you up to hunting today? I know you’re Head, but Jackson can take over for you if you’d rather—”

Fighting back weakness, I said, “I’m fine. Really.”

“Are you sure? You look—”

“Bad night’s sleep,” I insisted. “I’m over it now. Where’s my bow?”

“Jackson’ll have it. I told him if you weren’t up to it he’d be in charge.”

I gritted my teeth, but forced a smile onto my face. “I’m sure he loved that.”

Toby rolled his hazel eyes and ran his hands through his brown hair, which was sort of ridiculous, seeing as it was extremely close-cut. “Yeah. I believe his exact words were, ‘What? You mean that Raven isn’t Queen of the World?’”
Whatever.


"I can't wait for things to get better." Blue sighed and leaned against the tree trunk. She looked past me at the sunset. I followed her gaze and focused on the brilliant reds, oranges, purples, and pinks in the sky. "They will get better, won't they, Raven? Raven?"

I looked over at her, at her hopeful face, her wide eyes, and perfect . . . everything.
"Yes," I said. "Things will get better."


"Come here." He puts his arm around me and I lean my head on his shoulder. "You can tell me."

I gulp. "It's like admitting that she's finally gone."
Toby doesn't deny it. He doesn't say, "But she is." He doesn't say that I'm kidding myself. He just sits in silence with me and we watch the sky until the sun rises.

Stay strong, stick together, and survive. The three S's of the Flock. The first two are a cinch. The third one, not so much.

"I hate having to explain this stuff to the kids. It's bad enough they're living in the woods with us, barely scraping by, but then we have to strip away what little innocence they have left during the peak of their childhood to explain why they don't have a mommy and a daddy, why they don't have a house, or why we don't have proper shoes. It's awful. It was worse with you. You just looked so sad and lost and--not like you when I told you. Like all the light had left the world."


“It’s not because of Liam,” I insist. “It’s because of the Flock. If it were just Jackson I’d go.”

“No you wouldn’t. You hate Jackson.”

“I don’t hate Jackson.” At this Toby smiles. “I hate Officers. I hate President Hunter. I don’t hate Jackson. Hate’s too strong a word to be given to Jackson.”

I get up, stumble, and continue running. My legs are well muscled and trained, but they are burning worse than ever. One quick glance tells me that the burning is because of a bullet lodged in my knee. Somehow I don't feel the full pain I should feel. Is adrenaline the reason or fear? Are the two connected? I have no time to think.

Thinking. I will add that to the list of things that are dead.

"Couldn't sleep?" Mara says.
"Oh, no," I sigh. "The problem was I couldn't wake up."


Mara hesitates, but turns and leaves. Once I'm sure she's gone, I walk to the creek where Mara and I had sat the day before.

It's so blue.

I stick my hand in the frigid water scoop out a handful of pebbles. Slowly, hands trembling, I arrange the pebbles into a single word: Blue.

It's so beautiful, so breathtaking, so peaceful, so Blue that I can almost feel her standing next to me, holding my hand and laughing at something I had said.
The perfect monument for a perfect child. Some of the weight lifts from my stomach, like a bird taking flight. I feel it fly away into the blood-red sky.


"But I'm your sister!" Kevin protests. "You can trust me!"
"I know I can trust you," Jamie says. "It's the rest of the world I can't trust."
"Hear, hear." Flynn holds up a flask of water and takes a long swig.


"Is it about that Liam guy?" he asks. "The one that got captured?"
I lift my head up and give a little laugh. "You're good."
Flynn grins, showing off his pearly-white teeth. "Call me Professor Charles Xavier." He pauses. "Actually, don't. That's quite a mouthful."
"How'd you know?"
Flynn cocks his head. "Well, I was kind of an X-men geek back--"
"No. About Liam."


"You two are morons. There's no way this is going to work."
"That's the spirit." I roll my eyes at Flynn. "And here I was thinking that you were going to be all pessimistic."


"If you're going to help me, you need to be honest. No lying, especially to guard people's feelings. Lying is just as effective as putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. Eventually you need to be blunt and pull the bullet out."


"All right. So Mara will keep watch?"
"Yes."
"And she won't give us away?"
"I'll eat my nonexistent hat if Mara tells anyone until after they confront her."

When I wake Mara in the dead of night, I know I must've gone crazy. She knows it, too, because she gives me a look like a child whose parents have said, "Try it. You'll like it."

I can feel it; the warm, happy energy that I always feel when he's around. My stomach flops around inside me and I get a bubbly, tingly feeling up and down every inch of my body, like one of those carbonated sodas Liam told me about. Root beer and Cola and Dr. Pepper.

As Toby would say, this is not The Hunger Games. We are not a rebellion. We are not District 13. No one is the Mockingjay. And the fence will always be on.


"I'll shoot you first," the Officer says smoothly. "I'll shoot you and then you'll be dead."
"Put two and two together, did ya'?" I taunt him. "Death usually follows a bullet to the head."

I say nothing. Instead I glare at him, imagine spirals of flames shooting from my eyes and burning him until he is nothing but ash.
But of course I can't shoot spirals of flames from my eyes, so I settle for spitting into his face.

There is a chance I will return, because I can now feel the water, feel my hair fly around me like a flock of birds taking off into the sky.

"Why doesn't he like me?" I ask, though I already know the answer.
"He's jealous of you being second-in-command," Liam answers without hesitation. Bingo.
"That's stupid," Flynn says. "Raven's the most likeable person I've met."
I roll my eyes. "Come on, your best friend is Jamie. How can I be more likable than her?"
Flynn grins. "Sure she's my best friend, but she's not so likeable."
I laugh.

"Are you guys coming, or what?" Jackson shouts from way ahead of us. It dark enough that I can't make out his facial expression from this far away, though I can imagine it vividly. Eyes blazing, nose wrinkled, with a slight sneer on his face to mask his pain.


"Hi," I say.
"Hey," he says back, in an almost dreamlike state, like he wasn't fully aware of what he was doing. He glances down at my arms and gestures towards them. "What happened to your arms?"
"Jumped through a window." I say this as if it's perfectly normal, and Toby doesn't question why.


"You have plenty of time to improve. I bet someday you'll shoot better than any of us. You'll be the best in the Flock."
I feel my eyes bug out of their sockets. "Really? Ya' think so?"
"I know so. And when you do, you'll be the Head of Hunting."
I frown and furrow my eyebrows. "But Anthony's Head of Hunting."
Toby shrugs, still grinning. "If you're better than him, you'll be Head. That's the way things go."
"But that's unfair! He was Head first!"
Toby sighs and lays a hand on my shoulder. "Life's unfair, kid. You'd better get used to it fast, because if you don't, you're in for a lot of hurt."


I climb the biggest tree that's within three feet of me and I don't stop until I reach the top. I stick my head up high, so I'm above the leaves, above the world, and in the sky.
This is as close to freedom as I will get. Up here, this high off the ground, the world feels endless. It's times like these when you marvel at how large the universe really is. When you take the universe and compare it to us, the human race, we must be no larger than a speck of dust, or a germ, or an atom. We are small. We are powerless and we are weak. We are insignificant, and to me, that is beautiful. We're a tiny percentage compared to the rest of everything that is. We are this big.

We walk for an hour down the woods in silence. Though it's not quite sunset, the light is slowly starting to fade. Not once does Liam take his arm away from me. I don't mind. I like how he keeps me close against him, like I am his lifeline, his tether to this world.

I give Liam 'the look,' the one he calls the "Mrs. Weasley stare." I don't have the faintest idea who Mrs. Weasley is, or what her stare looks like, but mine is accusatory, suspicious.

I hear Liam and Flynn say, "Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!" They then both come over, Flynn carrying the blanket under his arm and Liam grinning at me.
I furrow my eyebrows and send him a silent message. What's so funny?
Liam glances over at Flynn, who's settling himself on the ground, and mouths, "I let him win."
He lays down on the ground so we're facing each other. I prop myself up on my elbow and, if I try really hard, I can imagine all of the sleeping Flock members around us while we stay up and chat about everything under the sun. It's almost like old times. Back when I had a home and a family.
I shake my head a little. This is my family now. Liam and Flynn are my family.
"His teeth were chattering the entire time," Liam whispers. "He had goosebumps up and down his arms, so I let him win."
I smother a laugh. "How do you let someone win at Rock, Paper, Scissors?"
"Like this." Liam holds up his fist.
I do the same. "Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!" Liam reveals his choice (scissors) shortly after I do (rock).
I grin at him, the kind where I show all of my teeth. "But you knew what I was going to choose. You know I always choose rock."
Liam shrugs, also smiling. "Well, I don't know what to say. Flynn chose paper and I chose rock."
I roll my eyes playfully. "A mere coincidence." I poke his arm hard enough so he rocks a little, thrown off balance. "I think you just don't want to admit that you lost at Rock, Paper, Scissors."
Liam makes a "pfft" sound. "What? Me? The Rock, Paper, Scissors champ? Never!"
I shrug. "If you say so."

I'd been so delirious with happiness that I'd forgotten all about a watch. My insides seem to sigh. A watch. I'll be safe. I won't half to resort to a half-sleep, the kind that feels like you're sleeping with one eye open.


I lie down next to him. "Doesn't the world seem endless when you look at the sky? All of those stars. There has to be trillions of them. It must be amazing to be out there, looking down at Earth and all of the other planets. I wish I were a star."
"You don't have to be a star to be out in space," Flynn says.
I snort. "All right. I wish I were a moon."
"No, I didn't mean it like that. I mean, people go out there all the time. For research and stuff. They even walk on the moon."
"Wow. Really? I had no idea."
Flynn nods, and looks over at me. "They're called astronauts. They have to go through all sorts of training and stuff, but once they've passed all the tests and whatever they climb into a rocket and take off."
"Wow. Wow."
Flynn laughs. "I can't believe you didn't know about them. I was sure Toby must've--" He breaks off, biting his lip. I pretend not to notice.
I stare at the moon, which is big and bright, though not quite full. I wonder if it's waning or waxing. "When things get better, if I'm still alive, I'm going to be an astronaut. I'm going to go to the moon and look down at Earth and wonder how in the world a planet that small could cause so much hurt."
"If you go, I'm going with you," Flynn says. "It could be lonely out in space."
I shake my head. "I don't know. All those stars and planets and moons and things? It'd be like having trillions of friends and family."
"Still. They can't exactly talk, can they?"
I smirk. "In a way, maybe they can. Deaf or mute people can't speak, but they still talk. With sign language or with their facial expressions. Maybe stars have their own sign language."
"Or Morse Code." Flynn grins. "You know, three short blinks means hi, three long ones means bye, two short and five long means where'd you put my sandwich."
I laugh.


I hear something rustle behind me and I glance back, but it's just a bird. A crow. No, a raven. I can tell because Toby taught me early on to make a difference between the two. It's bigger than a crow, his feathers slightly more ruffled. He's not so much sleek and shiny as he is black and bold. Black as night. Black as my hair.
"There's a big difference between a raven and a crow. One is a crow. One is your name."


Flynn nods slowly. "I think I get what you're trying to say."
I frown. "Words don't do her [Blue] justice. She's--more than that. She's beyond verbal explanation."
Flynn gives a little laugh. "Beyond verbal explanation. I like that."
"She was pure." I stare up at the cloudless, blue sky. "After everything she'd been through, she was pure." 


"You scared me half to death," I say, gasping for breath through the tears.
Flynn frowns. "Only half to death? Geez, I thought I'd scare you at least three quarters of the way to death."


"You are truly a miracle," Flynn mutters, gently tipping my head back. "That shot seems like it should've killed you."
I give him a small smile. "I guess I just really wanted to live."
Flynn leans back on his hands and shakes his head at me. "Again and again you've outrun death."
"Yeah, he must be pissed at me."



"What'd I miss?" he asks, looking back and forth at Flynn then me.
"We were just discussing our imminent deaths," I answer.
Liam furrows his eyebrows. "Our--"
"Imminent deaths," Flynn finishes for him, nodding. "Yup."
"Why are our deaths imminent?"
"Because no one is going to come save us and we'll either die of old age or be publicly executed," I explain.
"Not if we escape."
"I don't think that's really possible."
Liam frowns at me. "Since when have you been a pessimist?"
"Not a pessimist," I say. "Just a realist."
"You've always been an idealist, though."
"It's time to face the facts. We're just not strong enough to take such a stable system over."
"Every system has a flaw."
"Maybe. But what's President Hunter's flaw?"


UPDATE:

A guy I met on the YWP forums just finished my anime-styled drawing of Raven! :D Here are the pictures. Isn't she awesome?!

Raven 

Raven Portrait

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I bet you can predict my answer . . . (TCWT Blog Chain)

Which fictional world would you most like to be a part of, and what role do you think you would fulfill within it?

 

Okay, the first part of the question is easy. I'd want to be at Hogwarts. ;) The second part's a little trickier. I'd be in my third year at Hogwarts, but which extracurricular activities would I be a part of? Which classes would I like to take? Which teacher would be my favorite?

I think I'd try to join the Quidditch team. The Ravenclaw one, of course, since that's what house I'd be in. I'd probably try out for Chaser, since I don't have the attention for detail required to be a Seeker, the aggressiveness to be a Beater, or the reflexes to be a Keeper. But I am pretty fast (though I'm not sure how that translates on a broomstick) and I do have good aim.

I'd also join the D.A. if Harry were still at Hogwarts. Everyone who joined really liked it, and hey, it's a chance to meet Harry Potter. ;) (And Ron and Hermione).

My favorite classes would probably be Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, and Potions (if Snape were nicer, because potions sounds like an interesting class). My favorite teachers would be Hagrid, of course, and Professor Flitwick, because he sounds like fun.

Your turn to answer the question! ;) Leave a comment!

4th December ~ http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/
5th December ~ http://deborahrocheleau.wordpress.com/
6th December ~ http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/
7th December ~ http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/
(You are here) 8th December ~ http://themagicviolinist.blogspot.com/
9th December ~ http://oyeahwrite.wordpress.com/
10th December ~ http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/
11th December ~ http://kirabudge.weebly.com/
12th December ~ http://www.brookeharrison.com/
13th December ~ http://nextpagebookreviews.blogspot.com/
14th December ~ http://susannahailenemartin.wordpress.com/
15th December ~ http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/
16th December ~ http://www.mirrormadeofwords.wordpress.com/
17th December ~ http://veewhoa.wordpress.com/
18th December ~ http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com/
19th December ~ http://wheatandwine.wordpress.com/
20th December ~ http://pleaseforgetmystory.wordpress.com/
21st December ~ http://anmksmeanderingmind.wordpress.com/
22nd December ~ http://missalexandrinabrant.wordpress.com/
23rd December ~ http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/
24th December ~ http://miriamjoywrites.com/


---------------------------------------
Updates From MV:

I'm thinking about doing a blog meme by answering the questions in the vlog. Thoughts? Tips? (I've never done one before--I should really be asking John Green on how best to do it).


I completed NaNoWriMo! :D On day 30 before noon (I set my alarm to get up early and finish it). I still have plenty of story to go, though. ;) Did you finish?

Loving this blog.


(If you have something you'd like me to share in "Updates From MV" please send me an e-mail at themagicviolinist(AT)gmail(DOT)com. Thank you! :D)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

You Need a Revealer to Read This Blog Post

(In case you were wondering, THIS is a Revealer. Yeah, I think I tried too hard to make this title cutesy.)

For those of you who read THIS post (and for those of you who haven't) here is another mistake I caught in the Harry Potter series:

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Winky claims to be saving a seat, "for her master" at the Quidditch World Cup (which we later found out was a seat that was being occupied by Barty Crouch Jr. under the invisibility cloak). But everyone at the Quidditch World Cup had bought tickets and had assigned seats. So why didn't anyone wonder why Winky was saving a seat that she didn't need to save? (It's possible that Ron and Harry didn't think anything of it, normally being a little slow on the uptake, but I find it strange that Hermione didn't notice anything).

And here's a link to a list of fun facts about the Harry Potter series. :) I especially like numbers 9 and 2.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Notebook Sisters Linkup

I'm linking up with the Notebook Sisters's "Book and Writing Insanity Linkup"! :D But instead of typing out the answers for the meme like I normally do, I answered the questions in a vlog. (My first EVER vlog, to be clear, so go easy on me. I'm not used to talking to a camera.) ;)





 

Questions I asked in the video that you may have forgotten by now: 

Which actor/actress do you think was the best fit for my characters? (Go to 10:17 to see them again).
Which quote was your favorite? (Go to 15:05 to listen to them again).
Which first line was your favorite? (Go to 18:27 to listen to them again).
Do you have any idea who Erica Durance is?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Interview With YA Author A.S. King

I'm so excited about this! :D (Especially since I've read her book and met her several times. She's awesome!) Please welcome A.S. King, author of Reality Boy (as well as several other novels, one of them a Printz Honor book)! You can find Amy at her blog, "Here's Me Using the Word Blog In a Sentence."

 

http://www.as-king.info/


1. What inspired you to write Reality Boy?

So many things, but I will limit myself to three main ideas that sparked the book, in order. 1. If one in three or four teenagers are dealing with trauma or abuse in real life, then does this same statistic carry over into our television shows--more specifically, reality TV shows where children are not trained actors, but participants due to their parents' decisions? And if we are entertained by children who are dealing with trauma, what does it say about us? 2. Why do we ignore and blow off the emotions of teenagers? Especially anger or sadness? 3. When people watch reality TV, are they aware that it is not real? And on a wider level, what can we believe anymore on TV?


2. What are your top three favorite novels?


This is a cruel question! But I will say Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut (or all Kurt Vonnegut for that matter), Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, and The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.

3. What is your favorite thing about writing?


I love everything about the actual writing. I write by the seat of my pants, so every day is exciting. Okay, sometimes in the middle of a novel it isn't so exciting, but most of the time, it's just so much fun writing a book. Even the revision is fun. Sometimes revision is the most fun because that's where certain themes really polish up and become solid parts of a book (like the ants in Everybody Sees the Ants.)

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

I think the hardest thing I had to do was getting here. It took me 15 years to get published. By that time I'd written 8 novels. It was frustrating and soul-sucking sometimes. In my actual writing, I guess one of the hardest things I've done is rewrite the last third of Ask the Passengers twice.

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


Being a writer means you write as much as you can. It also means you read as much as you can. Avoid making any professional decisions out of desperation. It's hard to get into the business, but your real business as a writer is to write the best books you can, so what really matters is that you are always writing and reading. When you move into the business side of it, remember: If you're not getting rejected, then you're not working.

Buy Reality Boy on Amazon.
Buy Reality Boy on IndieBound.

Edit: Amy will be answering questions and comments! Leave one below, if you wish!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Eleanor Is Beautiful

I recently read a really good post on Rainbow Rowell's blog about Eleanor being fat. That combined with seeing readers online saying, "I think it's awesome that Park loved Eleanor despite her being fat." got me thinking about Eleanor.

Several people have asked Rainbow Rowell, "Eleanor isn't really fat, is she?" and Rainbow Rowell has responded that, yes, she is. Eleanor is fat. Eleanor thinks she's fat and Eleanor is fat. But why is everyone so obsessed about this?

Most people think about what they look like somewhat. Most people want to look nice. Why else would we buy makeup or wear clothes that match or glance at ourselves in the mirror? Because we want to look nice.

But why? I suppose it feels good to look nice, but I think us wanting to look nice is more for other people's benefits than it is for our own. Why? Because we judge. Consciously or unconsciously, we judge people based on their outward appearances.

I suppose that's natural. The outward appearance is the first thing we see, the first thing we think about. Do you know somebody's personality before you talk to them? No. But we see what people look like before we talk about them. And unfortunately, I think that we dismiss spending the time to get to know people based on their appearance.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio is a wonderful example of that. August is a sweet, kind, thoughtful boy who just so happens to have a disfigured face. And a lot of people dismiss him for that, make fun of him even. The few that take the time to know him, though, like him and look past what's on the outside.

I recently learned a new word. Kalon. It means beauty that is more than skin deep. And I think that's an excellent word to describe August, Eleanor, and many other people, including Park who loved Eleanor because Eleanor was truly beautiful. Beauty is not about how we look. It's about who we are. Beauty is who we are and the choices we make. And I think that's much more important than what color hair we have or how thin we are.

People say that they think Park's great because he loved Eleanor despite her looks. I think he loved her even more because of her looks. Her looks made up the person she was. Nobody else in the world looked like Eleanor, and that is beautiful.

I love this quote from Eleanor & Park:

“Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

And that pretty much sums it all up. Eleanor is fat. And Eleanor is beautiful.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 Days of Gratitude--Days 27-30

Today I'm grateful for . . . surprises. (Good surprises, just to be clear). There are few things I love better than doing something fun that's completely unexpected, like a surprise visit from a friend or a just-because gift from my bestie. When people ask what I want for Christmas or my birthday, I answer, "surprises." Because that's the truth. If they continue with follow-up questions, like, "Well, what kind of surprises?" I answer, "You know what I like." ;)

Today I'm grateful for . . . words. I'm a writer. Enough said.

Today I'm grateful for . . . laughter. With so much crap in the world, laughter is the best sound. Especially a baby's laugh. I love it when they laugh so hard they squint their eyes shut and their faces turn pink.

Today I'm grateful for . . . finishing. It felt so good to finish NaNoWriMo (even though it was a bittersweet kind of good--I'm still sad it's over) and now I've finally finished my 30 days of gratitude (a day late, but better late than never, right?).

What are you grateful for? Leave a comment! :D