Rejuvenating Your Creativity — Why It’s Okay to Take a Break

keep-calm-and-take-a-break-43As of today, I’m taking a break from writing. Not from blogging, or academic writing (when classes start I’ll be doing more than enough of that), but from working on my stories.*

As writers, especially when we “get serious” about writing and realize it’s not just a hobby, I think we feel like we have to produce good great content 24/7. At least I do. The crazy thing about this decision is that I’ve been thinking about it for over a month, but it’s like this fear of getting behind, whatever that means, keep creeping up on me and convincing me to keep going even though my body was yelling, STOP!

This is a really hard decision for me. First, because I love writing. I adore it. I’m biased, but I’m pretty darn good at it. However, the spark is gone. I have pushed myself to my limits and beyond, and I need to stop. Not forever. That’s not possible. Sure, I pretty much stopped writing fiction throughout high school, but those were different times. I don’t see this break lasting past the holidays because I don’t just love writing, it’s what I do, it’s a part of me, it’s what makes me wake up in the mornings with a silly grin on my face. The second reason why this is hard is because I feel like I’m letting my characters down (and myself). I have six AMAZING story ideas. Just amazing. They fill me with all sorts of emotions, but the thing is I haven’t been able to work on one. I’ll work on one for a couple days and then I’ll switch to the other and then another. At first I thought I just needed to pick one and shove the other plot bunnies under my dusty enough bed (it’s like a death trap under there). But, when that didn’t work, when I got stuck on every one of those stories I knew the truth: my heart wasn’t  in any of them. I was, I am a restless writing and that does no one, especially myself, any good.

I’m actually tearing up as I read this because, again, this is a hard decision. But I’d rather have my heart AND my head in my writing, not just my head. I mean I love my brain, it’s great at logical stuff and keeping me alive, ya know, but my heart keeps me alive too, and as someone who pretty much freewrites books, without much plot outlining during the first draft, I need my heart without it I’m like the Tin Man (yeah, I’m that cheesy).

To be honest, well, technically I’ve been pretty honest while writing this entire post, but anywho…I know this is the right decision. My brain needs a break. My heart needs a break. And I’m really looking forward to spending more time reading some amazing books. Like seriously, I cannot take all these books back to college with me. I almost broke my back picking up my suitcase full of books on the way here and my body is already complete shit (thanks, sports…love you, too!). Anyway, the point of sharing this with you, other than the fact that it’s 12:56 AM and I can’t go to sleep, is that I want you to know if you’re in the same situation. If you feel tired or irritated doing something that once gave you immense pleasure and satisfaction, it’s okay to take a break. In fact I challenge you to take one not for the team but for yourself. I get it writing can be hard. However, writing should still drive you, you shouldn’t have to drive it, force the words to come out.

You won’t regret it (at least I’m pretty sure you won’t). I already feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of why we starting doing this in the first place. I’m hoping this break is just that. (*Just to clarify, I’ll be taking a break from creating new content, I haven’t had a problem with working on my revisions.)

Have any of you taken a writing break? If so, how did it go? Any tips?

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Book Gush: POINTE by Brandy Colbert

Blurbpointecover

Theo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

My thoughts

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I know. But, it’s the truth. You know how some books just speak to you? How from the moment you open them you know this book is going to change your life. It was like that for me when I read Jessica Verdi’s THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME, and I’ve been championing that book and POINTE all year.

Pointe was love at first sight and after reading the entire book. I was excited just to read it because it was written by a black author and had a black protagonist who did ballet. So cool, right? You have to understand I didn’t have books like this growing up. I didn’t often see myself in books like this where diversity was there, but it wasn’t THE issue. And scenes like where Theo reminiscences back to times being the only black girl, or one of a couple black students, in a class when it’s time to talk about slavery, Jim Crow, or whatever rang all too real for me. Oh, and I should mention I really liked the fact that there were scenes where the characters smoked weed and it wasn’t like OMG the world is going to end. (I mean, yeah it’s a (mostly) illegal drug, but if you’re going to write a book about teens, be honest…some teens drink and do drugs and don’t die/end up with their life ruined. It happens.)

But, I also loved this book because it was a book about doing the hard, right thing even when you know it could wreck you and set you back from all the progress in healing you’ve made. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to do something like that but it is the hardest thing to do. Theo is so strong yet not always outwardly so, it’s through her thoughts that we really see how much this girl has had to contend with. It’s a gripping thriller, but not so much with action scene after action scene, but high emotional drama. I cried for Theo and I cheered for her. It’s one of those books where you can’t help feeling what the protagonist is feeling and you can’t help be proud for her when she overcomes the many obstacles she has to overcome. I love how real she is. She reminds me of friends. She reminds me of myself. And the writing is beautiful.

We don’t often say this as readers, but there are those books we read and love but soon forget and then there are those books that we love and become a part of us. We “can’t get them out of our head.” Some recent books I read where the latter happened with were The Summer I Wasn’t Me, TFIOS, and We Were Liars. However, Pointe is also that kind of book. It creeps up on you like how a vine might cover an old mansion (I’ve been thinking a lot about vines & old mansions, blame my last writing project) and it takes hold of you. You don’t really realize it has until the final pages, where you’re a mess of tears of happiness and sadness. I’m so grateful to Colbert for bringing a book like this into my life. speak and point diversify

Also, the graphic to the right is is very true. I adored SPEAK (read it years ago and have loved it and everything Laurie Hale Anderson has written ever since. I look forward to loving Colbert’s next book(s)).

Add POINTE to your Goodreads To-Reads!

Buy Links (you won’t regret buying it):

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

*This is a 100& honest review. I received an ARC from the publisher (Thanks, Brandy!!)**

About the Author

BrandyWeb

Brandy Colbert grew up in Springfield, Missouri, and has worked as an editor for several national magazines. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Pointe is her first novel. Also, she stopped by the blog to recommend some great books, check them out!

Twitter | Website | Tumblr | Goodreads

Guest Post: Brandy Colbert (Author of POINTE) on the Books You (& Everyone You Know) Need to Read

Good Afternoon, Readers!pointecover

Today I have uber talented Brandy Colbert over to talk about four books she really wants you to read… take it away, Brandy!

My Book Recommendations for You

by Brandy Colbert

I read a lot, but at the same time, I consider myself quite a slow reader. Sometimes it’s just life pulling me away—writing, copyediting, or social obligations—but sometimes it’s because I really like to savor a book. Reread passages as I’m going. Turning back several pages to see, How did the author do that? And when I love a book, I can get downright evangelical about it. You need to read it, but so does your mother/brother/sister/cousin/boyfriend/ girlfriend/spouse/cat . . . you get the idea. The following books? You (and everyone you know!) need to read them.

charm and strangeCharm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn.

I didn’t quite know what this book was about when I picked it up, but Stephanie was a friend (and now, my critique partner!) and I was excited to dive into her debut. Fast forward to me devouring the last quarter of the book, having to put it down because it was almost too much for me to handle, emotionally, but then going right back to it because I just had to know what happened next. Charm & Strange is a beautifully written novel about mental illness, family secrets, and the effects of internalizing trauma. It’s not a happy book, but it is one that will stick with you for a long time and remind you of the importance of empathy.

 

dirty wingsDirty Wings by Sarah McCarry.

Last year, I fell in absolute love with All Our Pretty Songs, the first novel in a series of companion books by McCarry. So, naturally I was thrilled when I read that the follow-up, Dirty Wings, would chronicle the teenage friendship of the mothers of the two best friends in All Our Pretty Songs. And then I fell even harder for Dirty Wings. This is a road trip book. It is a book about girls. It is about fighting expectations and following your heart and altering your life to make room for a person you love. I felt a bit like I was in a dream while reading this book. It doesn’t hurt hat parts of it were set in my beloved state of California, but I was absolutely enamored with McCarry’s gorgeous prose and her honest, vivid portrayal of an intoxicating female friendship.

 

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick.nothing like you

I admire many aspects of Strasnick’s writing, but perhaps the part that sticks with me the most is her expert use of spare language to tell an engrossing, rich narrative. Nothing Like You is the story of a girl still grieving over her mother’s death while navigating the often complicated friendships and relationships of adolescence. It is sometimes sad, sometimes sexy, and always honest in its portrayal of a teen girl learning that a seemingly simple choice can send everything in your life spiraling out of control. (Also, there is a good chance it will make you want to move to/hang out in/go hiking in Topanga Canyon.)

 

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers.this is not a test

As a longtime fan of Summers’ gritty, realistic novels, I was a little surprised when I learned her fourth book was about the zombie apocalypse. But I am nothing if not loyal to my favorite authors, so I preordered my copy and nervously awaited this story. And am I ever glad I stepped out of my comfort zone, because this book quickly became one of my favorites by Summers. This Is Not a Test may technically be classified as a zombie novel, but at its core, it is a brilliant character study of an abused, suicidal girl who is forced to decide if she wants to surrender to the zombies or fight for her life with a random assortment of her remaining classmates. This novel is horrifying, suspenseful, and heartbreaking, all pulled together by Summers’ beautiful, evocative writing and refusal to go easy on her characters.

I’ve also been lucky enough to read early drafts of books that are not yet released, so be on the lookout next year for:

  •  Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu
  • Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
  • All the Rage by Courtney Summers

I can’t wait to talk more about these when they’re closer to publication—you will absolutely be blown away by these stories. I guarantee it.

Thanks so much for having me, Patrice!

Thanks for stopping by, Brandy! I love hearing about the books people love.  Aren’t these some amazing book recs? I foresee a trip to the bookstore in my future *grins*

About POINTE by Brandy Colbert*

Theo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.

*Yes. This book is as good as it sounds (better!). Stop by tomorrow for my gushing session about POINTE! 

About the Author

BrandyWeb

Brandy Colbert grew up in Springfield, Missouri, and has worked as an editor for several national magazines. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Pointe is her first novel.

Twitter | Website | Tumblr | Goodreads

Write What You Love, <3!

book heart

Hey Readers! This post is a part of my (Teen) Writers’ Grimoire ongoing, dare I say infinite, blog series. Visit the About page for more information.

Writing can be hard work, but often we, writers, make it harder than it has to be.

A couple weeks ago I was having a hard time and my writing was blocked. I’d completed my previous manuscript a while back and had begun querying it to agents (FYI: literary agents represent authors and sell their books to editors) and so I wanted something new to work on to take my mind off the stress of querying. However I couldn’t commit to writing anything even though I had quite a few story ideas.

You see, I was afraid.

The novel I was is a YA Paranormal Mystery and Paranormal is very crowded genre right now. Many of the authors who are doing well, selling well, they’ve been writing paranormal or urban fantasy for a few years now, if not more and they have solid fanbases. I was having a hard time because I’d just gotten one of the worst rejection letters a writer can get:

I love your writing, your main character’s voice is hilarious, this book has many elements I love, but Paranormal is a hard sell right now. Please keep me in mind for future projects.

This isn’t the exact letter, it’s a combination of about five similar ones I received that week. Those agents hadn’t asked to see the full manuscript, they had only looked at the first few chapters I’d attached as sample pages. And even though I’d also received requests from other agents asking me to send them the full, saying I know Paranormal is crowded, but I think this one will stand out, it hurt to get those rejections. So much so that my mind had created a mental block, my fear of failure was stopping me from doing what I love…writing.

To tell you a bit about my writing, I often write books that happen to hit the end of a trend. The same thing happened to me with a sci-fi manuscript I queried last year, and it sucked to hear agents say they loved it but didn’t want to consider it because they didn’t think they could sell it. I understood, I really did, publishing is a business, but that doesn’t lessen the hurt.

And now I’m writing a YA Dystopian with time travel elements, go ahead, laugh. I don’t care. It’s my (newest) book baby, and I adore it. And you know what?

That’s what’s most important. Love.

I know many published authors and they all say that the publication process is a long road and because of all the revising you have to do (e.g. by yourself, with your agent, with your editor) you have to read your book over and over and over again. You HAVE to love it.

I don’t follow the trends. I read a ton and so I know when something has been done before. I always work to make my books unique, but I can’t change the genre of a book. And trust me I thought about it after a couple agents said love the story, but I prefer my mysteries without paranormal elements, however I couldn’t do it. I write the stories I love. I put my heart into my writing, my characters, and the worlds I create. That’s what’s most important.

I believe love and dedication attracts love and dedication. One day, hopefully soon, I’ll find the agent, editor, and readers who love my stories as much as I do.

So, put your heart into your writing. Write the story of your heart. If you can’t figure out what story that it, try setting a timer for 10, 15, or 30 minutes and freewrite, let the words flow, don’t force them to come out. Who knows, you just might find the story your heart has been aching to tell.

I believe in you. Don’t give up. Now get back to writing.

-Patrice

P.S. If you have any questions about writing, publishing, etc…ask away. I’d love to hear your suggestions on content you’d like to see.

Also, sign up for The (Teen) Writers’ Grimoire monthly newsletter! It’ll have exclusive giveaways and a collection of my favorite posts from the previous month.

Book Gush: THE FIRE WISH by Amber Lough

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Hey, Readers! Happy Sunday. So, I recently read an amazing book, and I was like, I should review this. However, review didn’t sound quite right. I don’t want to rank this book, I want to shout how much I love it to the world. That got me thinking about how with my SHC client, Dahlia Adler’s book I wrote a post about the things I love most. It was a different format, but it enabled me to forget about rating a book (because when you’re in love with a novel 5 stars owls, don’t do it justice.) Hence, “the book gush,” which comes in any format I want, because the most important thing to me is getting others to read the books I love.

Book Blurb

A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . . 

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.

Two weeks ago I interviewed Amber Lough, the author of The Fire Wish. At that time I’d just finished reading the book, and I was head over heels in love. Amber Lough’s amazing, y’all. You really have to check out the interview. In it there’s a part where she talks about how she made the book dual POV, how, initially it was only Najwa’s side of things, and, at first, I was like, why didn’t you leave it that way? (*Listen you can love a book and not love a character. I’m the queen of loving unlikable characters and, compared to Najwa, Zayele did nothing for me.*) But, in the interview, she talks about how her CP wanted to know what happened to the princess and how it challenged her to recreated the story and make the book better. I was like, alright, and so I reread the book (which is why I’m just now posting this). And, I’m so glad I did, because now I want to reread it over and over again.

This is a fantasy that plunges you into the characters’ worlds. It’s gorgeously diverse, the kind of organic diversity that made me fall in love with Alaya Dawn Johnson’s YA Cyberpunk, The Summer Prince. And if you ever asked me for a book rec last year, you know how much I loved, I championed, I needed that book in my life.

A book about Jinnis, and not Aladdin-esque genies (although he’s based off original myths), but real freaking jinnis (!!!). You can bet when I first heard about this book I was like

justbreathbarrymor

But, I was already hyperventilating. And when I got a copy of the book, I was floored. Like, she did it. This is a story about a princess and jinni who switch places, like who even thinks about an idea like that?? (with The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday being two of my favorite movies, I was doubly sold)

harrywhoareyouYeah, young Harry understands (btw, isn’t he adorable).

You see, at first I thought Najwa was pretty awesome by herself, but the more you read, really read the book you see how each girl complements the other so well. It would’ve been weird to just forget about Zayele when she’s so fascinating and impulsive. Najwa is quieter. I suppose you could say she’s more “obedient,” of course if that was really true, there wouldn’t have been a story to begin with. Zayele is also fierce. I guess I was mad at her, at first, for wanting to escape from this marriage when the guy was her age and smart and not marrying him would bring dishonor to her family.

giphy

Come on, you were thinking it.

But, to be honest, she’s real. I say I would’ve gone along with it now, but I don’t know what I would do until I’m in that situation.

The writing is gorgeous yet brief, if that’s the write word. Lough is able to convey, masterfully, descriptions, emotions, etc…in this majestical way without dragging on for paragraph after paragraph, a trap that’s easy for fantasy authors to fall into.

You want romance, it’s there too. You get to watch two girls fall in love with the very people they should NOT be in love with, and boy is it totally worth it. Each chapter is a cliffhanger in and of itself. I found myself saying, this is the last chapter I’m reading, at 2am one morning when I had to be up by 8am.

oplz

You guessed it. I read the entire thing.

And just to add a little more to the mix, The Fire Wish has such a conniving, a-hole of a villain. I guessed who it would be from the character’s first moment on page. What a, UGH, forget it. If I could’ve hexed that character I would’ve.

Anyway, it’d be really nice if I could have that second book now. Please. Lough’s hint at the end of our interview really hasn’t made the wait any easier to bear.

kept waiting bellatrix

Here’s the link to the interview, in case you’re curious (which you totally are):

Oh, and be sure to add the book to your Goodreads to-reads.

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Random House

P.S.  If you’re still not convinced, the book was blurbed by Tamora Pierce. *drops mic*

*This is a 100% honest review (I don’t get any money from the author, retailers, etc…). I received a copy to read and review thanks to NetGalley & the publisher.*

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Interview with Amber Lough (Author of THE FIRE WISH)

Hello Readers :D Happy Saturday!! Today I have the talented Amber Lough for another amazing author interview!

amber_dawn_lough_color

Hello! I’m Amber, and I wrote THE FIRE WISH, a fantasy set in both Baghdad and a jinni cavern, in the 9th century.

You’ve created such a rich and magnificent world in THE FIRE WISH…the setting is basically a character. How did you come up with the idea for the world? What kinds of resources did you use to create the world?

16123804The Baghdad setting was based on the real place, palace, and time period, but the jinni cavern was completely made up. I pulled in ideas from mythology, and included a Lake of Fire, tunnels, wells, and the like, but the idea for the gigantic geode cavern came from my love of crystals. (When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with crystals, and spent more money on them than on CDs.) When I began “building” the cavern, I visited caves, caverns, and museums as well as did a lot of research online regarding which crystals are best for certain things. I learned a lot about drywall, for example, that I didn’t know before—it’s mostly made up of crushed gypsum, which is fire-retardant. I took that idea when I came up with the selenite ball.

Wow. Sounds like you had a lot of fun worldbuilding! Many of my blog followers are writers, so I was wondering what is one thing you learned that has helped you along your journey to be a published author?

One of the best things I learned is to keep going. For me, it was a long, hard journey full of many soul-searching nights and days.

Great advice, Amber! Okay so, as a reader and a writer I’ve found Dual POV can be really tricky to nail down well, but you did it so well and I love how each character has her own romance (*swoon*), how did you balance of the story lines? Did you find it challenging at first or did both characters just come to you?

I’m glad you thought I did well with the dual POV! I had not wanted to write dual POV, actually. In the first draft, the story was solely from Najwa’s side, and I had left Zayele when she made the wish. It wasn’t until I was done with the first draft and my critique partner asked me, “So what happened to the princess?” when I had to face the hard truth: this book was going to be harder to write than I’d thought. It was very hard, at first, to keep Zayele’s voice from sounding too much like Najwa’s. I had to push their personalities a little harder just to keep them straight. There are times when they are similar, but I wanted there to be a crossover at a certain point, when they start to really take on the others’ life. And of course there would be similarities, but…I can’t say more than that now, can I? ;-)

That’s so interesting… I’ll talk more about this during my review (ahem, gushing session) of THE FIRE WISH tomorrow, but Najwa is hands down my favorite character although I think having Zayele’s POV adds A LOT to the story! Now for the (really) fun questions… What’s your patronous?

This is the coolest question I’ve been asked so far. A cat, for many, many reasons.

Hehe, great choice & thank you!! Speaking of cool settings, if there was any place you could travel to right now where would it be?

Iceland. Without a doubt.

Nice, I feel like everyone keeps talking about traveling to Iceland. I’ll have to make sure to add it to the bucket list… Okay. Fun Fact about yourself most people don’t know or wouldn’t expect?

You might not expect this because I’m not an avid blogger anymore, but I started blogging in 2001, and I blogged throughout my entire deployment to Iraq in 2004-2005.

That is AWESOME! I’ve only had this blog for a little over 2 years, but wow that’s dedication. Alright, next question: What was your favorite childhood book/author?

That is SUCH a hard question to answer, so I will go with who was my favorite when I was….12 (to pick a random age): Susan Cooper, for her DARK IS RISING series.

Haven’t read that one yet & I’ve heard so many great things about it (I know, I know, I’m getting there). Name a recently released book (or two as I know it can be hard to pick one) that you wish you could’ve written?

SERAPHINA, by Rachel Hartman

Another much talked about book I need to read… What other projects are you working on/any closing words about THE FIRE WISH, etc…?

Thank you for hosting me today and thank you so much for reading THE FIRE WISH! The next thing up is the sequel, THE BLIND WISH, which we be out next year. (It could also, possibly, be called RETURN OF THE BROTHERS, although that’s not the real title. Just a hint.)

Thank you, Amber. I enjoyed having you stop by! And, um, thanks for the hint, hehe, of course it’s only going to make the pain of waiting (until next year!!!) more unbearable ;)
Have a nice day!

What did y’all think? Isn’t Amber Lough awesome??? Below is a little more about Amber and be sure to check back for my review of THE FIRE WISH, you won’t want to miss it (I’ll be gushing!!!).

Amber_Dawn_Lough_ColorAmber Lough spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer, deployed for eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. She currently lives in Syracuse, NY with her husband, their two kids, and their cat, Popcorn. For a pronunciation guide, a cast of characters, and more, please visit amberlough.com. You can also follow Amber on Twitter @amberlough and Tumblr at amberlough.tumblr.

Add THE FIRE WISH to your Goodreads to-reads!

P.S. I’m currently reaching out to authors for interviews this Fall, if you’re interested please feel free to contact me!

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Are We There Yet?

On Perseverance & Patience

arewethereyetroad

My dad wrote an ahmazing post on patience and fitness. He’s a wellness coordinator, and his big motto is no gimmicks, only hard work and results (he’s tough but his clients appreciate it). In the post he says this,

If you have taken children on a road trip, you have probably heard them say “are we there yet.” I hear it a lot, not just from my children but also adults. Adults who are looking for quick results and don’t want to do the work.

He goes on to say:

“What’s your hurry…focus on enjoying the ride. Do the daily work; don’t worry about how long, because it will take as long as it takes.”

Now if that’s not advice that’s applicable to many areas of one’s life, I don’t know what is…

Yesterday, I read a post by the always hilarious Claire Legrand “On Creativity and Perseverance.” In it she has an analogy between being a writer and cooking that explains “all the feels” exactly. You’ll have to read the post, but here’s a snippet:

Meanwhile I grow hungrier and hungrier, and the people next door are chopping faster than I am, showing off their perfect golden-brown pie crusts when mine keep falling apart and I have to start over from scratch again and again…I’m happy for them, and yet I hurt too.

I did so much work last year, and so much of it is still cooking.

She goes on to say that it’s worth it. And, along with what my dad said, those are my messages to you (and myself).

It can take years to get where you want to. Beth Revis often speaks about how she wrote ten manuscripts, before she wrote the one that became a NYT Bestseller, Across the Universe. If you’re constantly asking yourself am I there yet, you’re not taking the time to work on your craft, to build yourself up as a writer. I once read a guest post by Tahereh Mafi in which she said each one of her trunked manuscripts taught her something about the writing process.

I hear all the time that once you’re published, you have less time to practice, to experiment with the art and craft of writing… people expect you to produce and not just your publisher but your readers. Best to learn how fast you can write a book, what you need to be happy as a writer, and so forth now. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, remember I’m still learning and working on getting published, but I try to remind myself (often) that it’s best to use this time to meet other writers, support them, learn from them, and challenge myself (instead of sulking about what I don’t have/can’t control).

We’re the one part of this crazy industry we control, so enjoy the ride! Before you know it your time will be here :)

Oh, and here are the links to the posts I mentioned:

“Are We There Yet?” – Jawanza Sankofa
“On Creativity and Perseverance” - Claire Legrand
“Don’t Give Up” – Beth Revis
“On Making Mistakes” – Tahereh Mafi

And if you still need more inspiration (heck, why not?) you can check out the Wrinspiration section of my “Writer Resources” page.

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Judging a Book by its Cover: My Favorite 2014 Covers (January-June)*

Middle Grade Madness

MGpt1bookcoversMGAction

I love each of these covers for different reasons. By the Grace of Todd‘s cover has a great contrast between the black & white and the color. I also like the sense of wonder you get as Todd looks down. With Caminar‘s cover it’s how different it is from most MG covers I see, which have kids on them, and the eyes plus the leaves that decorate the cover’s front. With Steering Toward Normal, it’s hands down the brother relationship you see…I can already tell it’s going to be hilarious (love the cow sticking out it’s tongue). I really like how the children, in Almost Super, are in the middle of these two, angry, opposing sides, and I like the urban feel of The Eighth Day, you don’t see that often on covers period, even though most kids live in cities. Last but not least there’s The Lost Planet, my favorite MG cover, I love all the scenes going on. It really conveys the fast-paced action of the book. The only thing I love more than this cover, it its sequel’s.

From Left to Right (& top-down): By the Grace of Todd | Caminar | Steering Toward Normal | Almost Super | The Eighth Day | The Lost Planet

Edit (7/21/14): The cover for The Inquisitor’s Mark (Eighth Day #2) is AMAZING!!! Thanks to the new follower who mentioned this to me (it’s out 1/27/15).

Pretty Fluffy 

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I love how both The One by Kiera Cass and All that Glows by Ryan Graudin have covers that have this fluffiness & prettiness to them. They both seem light, and the font adds to that effect. And though I haven’t read The One (or the one before it…I wanted to wait until The One was out), I loved The Selection and from what I’ve heard the entire Selection Trilogy and Graudin’s All That Glows (which I really liked) have a light air even though the books have dark undertones. I think their covers convey that well. And boy can these two authors write beautifully; I look forward to reading whatever they produce.

From Left to Right: The One | All that Glows

The (White) Girls with Flowing Hair

Okay, now this is a trend I don’t like (for various reasons that could take up a separate post, possibly a book), but as is the thing with, well, things you don’t like there are always exceptions. These are it:

black flowing hair purple flowing hair

I love the black background + white font with the blonde hair in Panic and Uninvited, and I love the purple tones (my favorite color) in Salt and Sing Sweet Nightingale (along with the hair)! I should add I’ve read all of these books, and they live up to their covers.

From Left to Right (& top-down): Panic | Uninvited | Salt | Sing Sweet Nightingale

Black, Red, & Mysterious

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I love how these covers have this ominous black background intermixed with a startling red font, the “Die” in Paige’s book especially draws me in. And having read Pointe, the darkness of the cover is spot on. This is not some “catty girl” ballet book, you will be blown away. Speaking of being blown away, I’ve heard Dorothy Must Die is equally amazing. I pretty much bought this book for its cover and title (yeah those are important too)… I mean who wouldn’t buy a book about Oz AND killing Dorothy? I knew there was something off about that girl, she was a little too sweet. Oh, and both of these women are authors who happen to be black. I mention their race as a side note because it is. It’s not what their books are about (and I don’t want to categorize them as “multicultural books or authors”). However, if you’re looking for some Diverse YA, here ya go. (I also have a bookshelf.)

From Left to Right: Dorothy Must Die | Pointe

Run, Forrest, Run

Ive Been Running

I LOVE thrillers, so when thrillers became the thing of 2014 (or tried to) I was like, hell yeah. These covers do a great job at conveying what the book is about (which is what a good cover should do). The wet hair plus the sweat on the upper lip of Nearly Gones cover model hints that the book is a thriller. And if there wasn’t a tagline, you might guess, from the “4″ in the title that it’s a thriller that has to do with numbers. As for Fake ID the black border seems to be eating up the bright, greenish yellow background, hinting at the grittiness of the book. Then there’s the guy running, again hinting at the thriller element, and, if that wasn’t enough to sell me, he looks, well, hot… I, um, have a thing for men with strong chins.

From Left to Right: Nearly Gone | Fake ID

Welcome to Dystopia

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Great Books. Amazing Covers. I love how all three of these books foreshadow what the book is about, what’s going to happen. And I really like the taglines they have. Aside from the fact that these authors are amazing, I pretty much bought these books because of their covers (technically I bought Dualed and Stung for their covers since they were the 1st books) and I was not disappointed.

From Left to Right: The Murder Complex | Divided | Cured

(Adult) Urban Fantasy Central

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I have a *bit* of an obsession with Urban Fantasy. I guess that’s what happens when you starting reading Anne Rice at age nine and Anita Blake at age thirteen (I understood nothing, but I fell in love). These covers are some of my favorites of the genre. And I arranged them in a special way, from Affliction, a “close up” cover to Slightly Spellbound (a series I just discovered), a full body, far away cover. They all look equally badass, although The Immortal Crown’s cover is slightly more contemplative, and, well, they’re awesome. (True confession: I like the cover of Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead (1st book in series) and the early Mercy Thompson covers better than the newer one(s) (but I do like how Night Broken seems to be returning to the style of the original covers rather than the more sexed up covers of the latter books).

From Left to Right: Affliction | The Immortal Crown | Skin Game | Night Broken | Slightly Spellbound

Bonus: Looking Backward and Forward

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The first three of these books were released in 2013, and the last three books will be released in the second half of 2014. I love them all, for the diversity and richness that’s displayed on the covers of The Summer Prince and Orleans, to the sense of mystery and wonder on the covers of The Archived and Ticker, to simplicity intermixed with the Physics formulas/map on the covers of Falling into Place and No Place to Fall. Also, I’ve read the first three and I HIGHLY recommend them. As for the last three I’m looking forward to reading my first steampunk book and some contemporary YA (I’m a big Sci-Fi/Fantasy gal).

From Left to Right: The Summer Prince | Orleans | The Archived | Ticker | Falling into Place | No Place to Fall

Do you judge books by their covers (be honest)? If so, which recent covers have you loved?

*P.S. This is just a smattering…there were so many I wanted to add and many I thought of as soon as I posted it. A cover isn’t everything, but sometimes it can be the deciding factor, especially since I get a lot of book recs from fellow writers.

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Exploring Austin — Finding New Places to Write!

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I have many places I like to write. The above picture is one of my favorite spots, on the porch of my dad’s house/farm. But of course there’s the heat. As as one of my characters, Bria, would say, Texas in July is no place for wusses. So, I like to change where I write. I write in my bed and I often write at the kitchen table or on the couch, like the picture + tweet below:

However I’m in Austin for the summer, so I figured when in Austin, do what the Austians do. Ya know? With the help of my BFF, Google, I found this nifty article, 5 Best Coffee Shops in Austin for Writing, via PR by the Book, an Austin based book PR firm, who I would totally hire if I needed a publicist (since I can’t hire myself, LOL).

And so one free afternoon, well, let’s just say one afternoon where I wasn’t doing what I should’ve been doing and had some free time…I picked one of the cafes (the first one of course) and went to it. It’s this super-awesome cafe called Mozart’s Coffee Roasters. Here are a few of the pictures I took:

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I found a table near the railing. Not pictured is the bird that joined me, by my feet. I said it was my writing companion…probably just wanted me to drop some crumbs though, haha.

Gorgeous, right? Truthfully I can write anywhere, but the more breathtaking the view the better. All artists had their ways of gettting inspiration, and being close to the beauty of nature is mine. I didn’t get much writing done (it was sweltering hot), but it was totally worth it…a very calming experience.

I look forward to going back sometime and sitting in the half-indoor, half-outdoor portion (which is not pictured and was to my right), where I still get the great view, minus the heat. Oh, and, it should probably be on an afternoon when I’m actually free ;)

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As Tigger likes to say, T-T-F-N: ta-ta for now!

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

P.S. I’d love to hear some cool places you like to write. Ya know, in case I’m ever in town :D

Confessions & Changes: On Doing What You Love to Do

Do what you love Love what you do - art - art poster - philosophy - quote via pinterest

 

I have a confession to make.

…I no longer love blogging.

However that confession isn’t the true (or full) story.

The truth is this: When I started this blog, 2 years ago, I knew, in my heart of hearts, I had begun something special. I am, or I was, what they call a serial hobbier. Meaning, I pick up hobbies like a fashionista collects shoes. And like that fashonista, I when the shoes are out of season (or hobbies in my case) I drop them like it’s hot. But I’ve had this blog for TWO years. And I’ve been calling myself a writer for almost the same amount of time. It has been a whirlwind, absolutely amazing, a dream. But like all dreams, some things must come to an end. You’re probably thinking this is when I’m going to tell you I’m done with blogging. Well…think again.

You see, it’s not that I don’t love blogging. That’s an oversimplification. I don’t like blogging the way I’ve been doing, I’ve been approaching it this past year. I used to blog about EVERYTHING. Fashion. Politics. Movies. Books. Baking. Whatever suited my mood at the time. But, I guess, over time I thought I had to write a certain way. I thought I had to make my blog fit into a niche, if you will. And by structuring my book reviews like other book blogger’s reviews, and by writing more about writing and writing less (the irony is not lost on me), I took the life from my blog…sucked it dry like how Edward wanted to suck Bella dry when he first met her (#horriblesimiles).

And so blogging became a chore. I mean look at my recent posts, there barely are any. I had to set reminders about posts. Like what? If you can remember, if there’s no nagging sensation that’s probably a sign it’s something you don’t enjoy and don’t want to remember.

But…today, when I should’ve been listening to my Art History Prof talk about whether some Renaissance painting had Byzantine influences or not (Dear Lord, save me from this summer class) but was on Twitter, I was inspired to make a change (cue Michael Jackson).

Thank you, Tahereh Mafi for the wakeup call.

From here on out, I’ll be going back to the old Whimsically Yours. Not sure what that means? Watch and find out ;)

I just wanna have fun with this again. I miss all the interviews I used to do (so if you’re an author or writer reading this (who I haven’t interviewed), feel free to contact me…  I want to get back to talking about real shit, forgive my french. I want to gush about books I love, F*** structure, I want rant about I’m sick and tired of whitewashing, I want this to be MY blog again. I write the books I want to read knowing fully well that it might be a challenge to get the published (*cough, cough Urban Fantasy…*writer tears*). It’s about time I started applying that to my blogging.

I share all of this, because I want to, and because there is no better time than now, with the market (especially for YA books) being more crowded than ever, with more people blogging than ever, etc…to say, you HAVE to do what you LOVE doing. Don’t bother doing if you don’t. One day (or v. boring afternoon in class) you’ll wake up and realize, you’re living a lie. And that, my friends, hurts.

Follow your passions. That’s how I’ve met so many amazing writers and readers. I look forward to connecting with even more fantabulous people with Whimsically Yours 3.0: taking from the past & moving forward (how cheesy, right? don’t worry it’s not my actual title).

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Time to get down to business…yes, I’m a cheeseball.