May 16, 2012

"Waiting on" Wednesday: Protecting Truth

As you all know, Breaking the Spine hosts this here meme and I am soooo excited to participate for the very first time. That's right, lil ole me has her first "Waiting on" meme.

And what has drug me tooth and nail from the depths of non-bookish bore? Well, let me tell you...

If you have not had the pleasure, please let me introduce you to the lovely Michelle Warren!

She is the beautiful genius behind Wander Dust, the first installment to The Seraphina Parrish Trilogy. If you missed it, you can catch my rave and a half about Wander Dust here. I LOOOOOVED this book. To make things even sweeter, Michelle is quite possibly the coolest chica out there. Like Myra McEntire and Jeri Smith-Ready cool. Yeah, I know, that's a whole lot of cool.

This special meme day for me is to announce that the second installment is finally....FINALLY...coming to itchy fingers like mine very, very soon. So hold on to your hats y'all 'cause Protecting Truth, Book Two of The Seraphina Parrish Trilogy, is something worth 'waiting on.'

                             And check out this beautiful cover!!!!

           Yum. Did I mention Miss Michelle is a fantastic artist too? She is.

To make sure I bite my nails to nubs (kidding...sort of), Michelle has not released the summary for Protecting Truth, but I wouldn't need it. I am so on board anyway. Wander Dust was a fantastic read and the characters were fun and heartbreaking at the same time. I need to know what happens to Sera! I need to know more about Bishop! Okay, let me just have a moment here...Bishop...mmmm. Alright, I'm back. I need to know about the uber mysterious brother! Sera's mom! The Grungy Gang! The Academy! Oi, the list goes on!

To get you all caught up in time for the next awesomesauce installment, you can get Wander Dust over at our friends at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. If you order the super convenient e-book from Amazon by May 31st, you can get it for a STEAL of a price!

                        How much more awesome do you need?

Seriously, y'all, do yourself a favor and get your copy of Wander Dust now so you can get the delish dish before Protecting Truth's book birthday. If you love adventure, if you love magic, if you love hook-line-sinker plots of non-stop action, if you love courageous gals, if you love loyal guys (swoon!), you will want to be a Wanderer too!

To hook up with Michelle Warren directly, please check out the official website. You can also catch the lovely Michelle cruising the Twittersphere as well as Goodreads. Michelle is also an active Facebook-er so be sure to Like her page so you can get up-to-date info on releases, all things bookish, or just some juicy gossip. *grin*

As a farewell, I will leave you with the mouthwateringly awesome book trailer for Wander Dust. Enjoy!

May 10, 2012

Supportively Supportive Support

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about support. The kind of support that ‘creative’s,’ such as myself, need to keep plugging along when the evil voice of self-defacement buzzes in our brains. I don’t like that voice. And I’d be willing to bet that many others are in agreement with me.

Now, I’m not sure, as I’m far from an expert, but I think, generally speaking, creative’s constantly seek approval. They need justification, a nod of encouragement, high fives, or “atta boy” cheers to feel…good about what they do. But I think that’s just part of being a creative, whether your outlet is writing, painting, crafting, cooking, or any other activity where you ‘create.’ Since there’s no black or white with creative things, we have to rely on the opinion of others to know if it’s…good.

It sounds insecure, I know, but it’s the truth. You can be a bad ass cook, the kind the likes of Emeril Lagasse or Bobby Flay or Paula Deen bow down to, but if your bunt cake tastes like poo… Well, no one is going to think you’re a good cook. See where I’m going with this? Same with writing or painting or photography, etc. If no one likes it, then A) nobody will buy it and B) you will lack the street cred for anything in the future.

So we creative folk need a support system for those lonely nights (or days since you might be a day person) when that evil voice in our head tells us we are poo, we have nothing, we will be nothing, give it up kid! Those brave souls who stand in our corner with mighty fists of encouragement, who listen to every random rambling about your latest musing, who will give you their honest opinion and then take you for ice cream (because ice cream and chocolate heal wounded egos, for real) are heroes for the creative mind. We need you!

I got to thinking about my own support system. My own wee cheering section.

I started life as a closet artist. Throughout school, a sketch pad and pencil was my BFF. You know that quiet girl in class who sort of blended in with the classroom decor? Yeah, that was me. And I say closet artist because I was not that overly artsy kid either. Sure, my fingertips probably had more lead pencil stains than the average teen, but I wasn’t the obvious artsy kid (no green hair or splattered coveralls). And I was terribly insecure about my art.

My journal was another outlet. All through high school, I religiously documented the angst of my life. Somewhere around my freshman/sophomore year the poetry started. Several poems were born, pretty much all free form as I was not one to follow the rules (this caused trouble in art class too, my lack of rules). Rules shmoolz!

I never considered myself a writer, though. In fact, the thought sort of terrified me. At the end of my junior year, my English teacher, Mrs. Eubanks, asked me to apply for the AP English class. I declined and have come to regret that decision. Hindsight is 20/20…

But Mrs. Eubanks was my first nugget of a writing support system. My art support system consisted of family, but I always felt they were too biased for the job. My mother could draw stick figures with the best of them. My grandmother was a phenomenal painter, though I rarely saw her (more 20/20 hindsight stuff).

My early support system was far from huge. And now I understand why. I didn’t share.

Since putting on my first pair of “I’m a writer” panties, I have met so many people who are uber supportive. But that is only because I have learned to get out from behind my notepad and expose myself. Not that way, you goof, now stop. But you have to get your work out there to reap the benefits of a support system. And other writers are a great support system.

The Authoress, over at Miss Snark’s First Victim blog, had a wonderful post on this. And she’s right! I don’t know why writers are so supportive of each other, but they are. Trying to improve your craft? Yup, they will point you to one or two or fifty websites, blogs, books, forums, guides, fairy godmothers that will steer you in the right direction. Need exposure? Yup, they got that baby on lock too! Between book bloggers and Twitter and Facebook, Pinterest, or any other social platform, they help each other get the word out. How many times have you seen a published author feature another author as a ‘guest post’ on their blog/website? Yup, me too!

Point is, I am so very thankful for the folks I’ve met that have been supportive of my budding writer self. My family is great, my non-writer friends back me as best they can, and my crazy (in a fabulous way) Aunt M will wave the flag, light the fireworks, ring the bell, toss the confetti, and sucker-punch anyone who dares to bring me down. I’m only sort of kidding about the sucker-punch part… *wink*

Some of my writerly friends are already in the game, but they still send out words of encouragement. This is huge! Then others are in various stages of their own budding writer selves. Between the different meme’s, critique partners, and random blog posts or referrals, we all sort of band together. Writing contest? Secret Agent submission? Query Kick-a-rounds? Need a beta reader? Yup, we are all there to offer to read, to crit, to suggest, to commend, and to celebrate the victories (big and small) on the meandering road to publication.

I wouldn’t trade any of y’all for anything. Not for all the cookie dough ice cream and peanut butter cups I could eat. It would be tough, but I would abstain in honor of my support system. Cuz that’s how I roll y’all! I can only hope that for all the encouragement, high-fives (virtual and for-really-tho), constructive feedback, ‘go get ‘em, tiger’s you’ve bestowed upon me, that I have managed to do the same for you.

Now let’s go get some ice cream!

May 09, 2012

INSURGENT: Faction before blood...Wa-bam!

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

I have to admit, I got sort of caught up in the Insurgent madness. I had read Divergent, by the lovely and insanely talented Veronica Roth, and really loved the concept of the book. Insurgent was on my pre-order list and then the Twittersphere took off… I “Liked” the Divergent page on Facebook and did the little aptitude test to see what faction I would be in. Though I honestly think I would be Divergent (read possible ADHD or some-such), the dooflotchy told me I was Dauntless. Okay, I will take that. Dauntless fits, with a peppering of Amity and Erudite.

When Insurgent finally arrived, I was so super excited. I had to find out what Tris was going to do and how Four would help her. I had so many questions at the end of Divergent and now I would get some answers. And I did! Well, kind of.

Insurgent takes you deeper into the cluster-fudge that is known as Chicago (once upon a time). The factions are crumbling, whether they will admit it or not, and nobody is safe from anyone. Betrayal is the soup du jour sidled up next to that manipulation sandwich you’re eating. Friendships are not what they once were, family can (and will) be your worst enemy, trust is non-existent, loyalties are tested, and love will be a casualty of war if you’re not careful. In short…a rollercoaster of a book.

In the last several days, I have seen several reviews talking of large plot holes. Granted, I do have questions regarding some of the avenues taken in Insurgent, but I am patient enough to keep them to myself until the next book. There has been mention of Tris’ shoulder and how she never seemed to heal… Do you have any idea how long it takes for a gunshot wound to heal? A long freakin’ time. We are talking in months here people, so yeah, I bet Tris still has probs with a hole in her shoulder, possible cracked or shattered bone, torn muscle and tendons… A long time peeps. The pace of Insurgent suggests that a lot of the action happens over several days to a couple weeks and that is not enough time to heal from a GSW. Jus sayin.

Let’s get to the characters.

Tris. Our girl is having issues. Some reviewers had issues with her whining in Insurgent. Meh. I don’t really see it that way. Sure, she is kind of a broken record over the horrible things she has done, but she is not superwoman. She is Tris. Yeah, she chose Dauntless, but Tris is Tris. She is not Marlene or Lynn or even Tori! She is Tris, an Abnegation girl who has killed people who meant something to her. If you have a problem with her erratic sort of ‘woe is me’ demeanor, then I urge you to look up PTSD. Here, I will help you. Anything look familiar? But Tris is in hell, quite literally. She is hanging on by a thread through most of the book and is struggling with who she is, what she is becoming, and all the demons that haunt her thoughts.

Four. Our beloved Tobias. He’s not in much better shape than Tris. In Divergent, Four was this pillar of strength that was always riding Tris’ ass getting her to push harder. That part of Four is still there, kinda, but he has his own demons to keep at bay. You know those four fears he has? Yeah, those? Well, he has to face one in Insurgent. In real life, not the fear landscape, and to say it rocks his world is an understatement. Some have commented that Four has lost his edge, that he is not the same guy in Insurgent. True enough, but neither would you be if one of the four things you feared (and probably the most fearsome) became suddenly very real, very live and in color. It would change who you are. But he is coming into his own and I feel an even stronger Tobias in the making...

For me, Insurgent was very much like what a second book should be. It’s crazy, there are more questions, sometimes the pace is erratic, you can feel the build-up like being wrapped in a wool sweater during sweltering Tennessee summers, and by the end you are slightly breathless and exhausted. I like this…a lot. I tells me that Book 3 will be a great close for an already great series. The final act brings us all in and ties up all the craziness we get in Book 2.

I thoroughly enjoy the world that Veronica Roth has built with Divergent and now Insurgent. It’s gritty and messy and full of conflict. Now if I only have the patience to wait for Book 3 and not bite my nails to nubs. Slim at best…

Did Insurgent rock my world? Hells to the YEAH! 8.OH Baaaaby!