YA Christmas Recommendations



YA Christmas 

Recommendations

In the spirit of Christmas--it's early, but I know you're shopping like mad right now--I'm going to promote the YA books that I have read over the last two years that I loved and gave great reviews for (plugging the title in my blog's search box will pull up the review). Most of these authors are indie, meaning published by indie publishers or self-published.

Note: a lot of these books bend genres and I placed them in their foremost category. Most of them entail some level of romance or romantic plot or sub-plot. These are the kindle links but can be found in paperback and through other digital venues.

Dystopian

Check it out  Here


Check it out Here



Urban Fantasy

Check it out Here

Check it out Here


Check it out Here


Contemporary

Check it out Here


Check it out Here



Paranormal

Check it out Here


Check it out Here


 
Check it out Here


Happy holidays everyone, and be sure to check these out for any young adult or even adult reader.

NaNoWriMo2019: Check in



NaNoWriMo2019: 

Check-in


If you aren't sure what #NaNoWriMo is, please check out my previous post about it: here. Okay, time to check in fellow authors. Where are we on our NaNoWriMo goals? Yes, we're supposed to hit 50k, but most of us have jobs or children or both to take care of. Mentally, I prepared myself to get 35k done. At this point I should have 17,500 done. How has it gone, you ask?

I started writing the novel at 18k, but I will be excluding that from my NaNo count to follow the rules. It's a sequel, so when I finished the last book, I kept it going to flesh out a bit of my conflicts so that I was sure that I planted seeds in the previous book for them. It's part of my continuity method as I am not really a plotter. Outlines feel confining and are largely ignored by me. Aside from the general conflicts set up and the first few chapters down, I had an ending. My brain works off inspiration, not organization, so I never write in order or start to finish. I jump around where inspiration takes me. I had a great visualization of how I wanted the book to end.


Going into NaNo, I had no idea how the start would get to the end except for a few things I needed to happen strategically: my main characters would have to be divided up somehow for the end to come about. I would need to pull together all loose ends before the ending I wrote since it is book 3 of a trilogy. I would have 3 villains each dispatched by the end. These were things set up in my mind that built from the other two books. This is the extent of my plotting, as I'm a pantser at heart.

I started off extremely well. The first 6 days I logged in with 2,000 or more, having a great day of 6,500. Grading got in the way here and there, so there were days off. On Nov. 10th I had 22,000 in the bank, which was absolutely astounding and incredible. Considering I was grading 4/10 days and was sick, this was amazing. I logged in at the halfway point on November 15th with 32,089 words to be exact. Will I make it to my 35k? For sure. Will I make it to 50k by the 22nd? (my NaNoWriMo2019 ends early as I get research papers to grade). Only time will tell. No matter what, this experience every year is worth it just to get motivated and to write a big chunk of my book.

What are you word counts?


Critique Groups: First Experience





Critique Groups: 

First Experience 




A couple months ago, I decided to join a writers' group. I was wary. I was hesitant. I was not afraid of the criticism at all. I was afraid of not fitting in. Either they might be way more experienced than me and talk down to me or they would be all new aspiring writers who I would need to help and the relationship would stress me out rather than be reciprocal. I hope no one takes the latter as snobbery, but I have degrees in English, teach grammar, and am published, so it was a legitimate concern that I would be "grading" or editing for free, and I'm nice, so refusing to help would be difficult. As for the former--despite being confident--I still feel a bit inferior to authors who are able to sell well, who have fans, as I'm still starting out with a zero marketing budget, so things are trickling in slowly. I am a very busy person, so I thought this would be too much: special needs child, career as an English Lecturer, and slotted to publish 2 books a year.

When I contacted them, they were nice and were inviting. They did tell me writing was a hobby for most of them, but there were a few successfully self-published authors in the crew. When I arrived, I was the youngest in the room. I was nervous about that. Despite being close to 40, I'm short, and I look a decade younger (or more, according to some crazy, flattering people). What this usually means is I'm treated as inferior, ignorant, and naive--even if it is a topic of my expertise. This treatment drives me crazy and sets me off into rabid-chihuahua mode. 


To be honest, walking in late, I felt some tension. I listened the entire time since I hadn't read any of their works yet. I noticed a stern woman giving criticism in a tone some would say was harsh. Her advice was correct and she knew her stuff, but the delivery was a bit condescending. Another woman was pretty combative about any advice. Afterward, the one who tried to give advice asked to speak with me. After a conversation with her, I realized she was a former professor and had books published through publishers too. She said she joined the group wanting to help people, but they didn't want her help. I didn't know the group yet, so didn't know if this was true or if it was because her delivery was kind of old-school academia (treating "pupils" as lessers).




I knew I could not judge the group off the one day, so I went back. I figured if it went badly again, I'd quit and have a blog topic at the minimum. This time, both women were not there and others were there I hadn't met last time; I went through the meeting, knowing this would be my deciding factor. The meeting was great. There was no tension, no rough criticism--all told in constructive ways--and no one was angry about advice given. I was able to contribute what I knew. Unlike what the one woman had told me, I found people were eager to learn about how I was published and what I knew. But it was not in a way that made me feel exploited or used, but I felt useful. I love helping people if I can, so this made my day. I officially joined the group and jumped into critiquing and sending in a half completed book of mine that I was having trouble with.


Meetings from there on went well. Everyone gave advice about others' books and things were running smoothly. With my book, I got the positive feedback I needed--since this book is out of my normal genre, age category, and was personal--to go forward with it. They had great advice to help me get through my usually nonexistent writer's block. In the end, a few women shared their stories of their children or their own problems that related to my story. Some were in tears. It was a powerful and moving, and I knew then and there I made some friends. 


I sometimes have a difficult life. If it isn't difficult, it is busy. These people have given me a community, a friendship that was and is needed. A place where I don't talk about my problems, but my craft. A place where I don't talk about my job, but my passion. 


I was skeptical, but so glad I joined up with fellow writers. I feel happy helping and get so much back. I suggest anyone who feels alone as a writer, who seeks connection, to try to find a group out there near you. If it doesn't exist, create your own.

YA Book Review: Fate and Fortune




YA Book Review:

Fate and Fortune


I won Fate and Fortune, by Robin Daniels, at a book launch for a different author and was pleased with my bounty. It's an adorable contemporary romance with dynamic characters, realistic dialogue, and a touch of magic.

After Paige is dumped by her boyfriend of two years, she retreats from life until her brother and her best friend, Amy, force her to go to a county fair where she is pressured into seeing a psychic. To make matters worse, Paige runs into her ex and her friend Kennedy tries to make him jealous.  Kennedy tells everyone her brother, Bryce, is dating Paige. Meanwhile, Bryce, a lifelong friend who has loved Paige since he was six, also sees this psychic. After that night, Bryce is visited by a genie named Genie who will grant him wishes of her choosing, while Paige is given a magical message in a bottle that keeps disappearing and reappearing. Both these magical forces push the two into a fake relationship that might just become real if fate and magic can make it so.


I loved the plot and I loved how things seemed magical, but their tight-knit group of friends acted weird at times showing they were involved. The only drawback was we didn't get the explanation of how it was pulled off by everyone or whether there really was some magic. The good news is, there is a sequel that tells us just that (I'll be reviewing that in the future). The events are complex but that doesn't detract from the novel; the POV is only Paige and Bryce, so it's easy to follow. I can imagine the second book will be very interesting.

Another great attribute is the dialogue and characterization. They go hand in hand. They are a bunch of funny teens who are always teasing siblings and making fun of each other for a laugh. I teach college freshman, so know first-hand that these characters ring true. It's the kind of banter I hear daily. This helped character development. Bryce was serious and sweet, while Paige was your everyday girl who was wholesome and clever so any girl can relate. They were normal teens--not stereotypes or caricatures.

In all, an adorable read for any teen or even adults who like to reminisce in the days gone by and first loves. Available for purchase here.

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