Thursday, November 17, 2016

Little did she know

Welcome to another new segment on Anna's Rambles called Prompt Day. Every Thursday, I will focus on a new prompt to keep my creative juices flowing.

This week, I've chosen to create a short story based on the phrase "little did she know". Please enjoy!
It's been a long and hard year for Michelle. Being the head cheerleader at her high school takes a lot of energy out of her already, but when you add all advanced placement classes, yearbook committee, and a boyfriend to the mix, well, things can get hectic. Little did she know, her life was about to change in a big way.

She expected the kitchen to be empty as it normally was on Saturday mornings. Her mother and father both worked for a large law firm and often had to work on the weekends. But as she walked down the stairs, she was hit with a waft of peppery bacon and burnt toast.

"Good morning, Michelle," her mother says as she enters the kitchen. Her father is sitting at the rarely used kitchen table reading a newspaper and drinking his morning cup of coffee. When he sees Michelle, he puts down the paper and clears his throat with a crisp "Ahem".

"Good morning, mum," Michelle responds. "What's going on?" She looks back and forth between her mother and father as a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast is placed before her. The eggs are runny, the bacon soft, and the toast is burnt but that isn't surprising considering her mom hasn't cooked for the family since she was four.

"Michelle, we need to have a serious conversation with you," her father states in his matter of fact way.

Michelle doesn't yet realize that something big is amiss, so she says "Can it wait until tonight? I'm supposed to meet Christina to plan out some new moves for competition next week."

"I'm afraid not, dear," her mother chimes in. "We have some big news."

Her father, ever the lawyer, gets right to the point. "Your mother and I have been working at the firm for many years and our service has finally paid off. We've both been promoted to partner. We are being transferred to the New York office starting Monday morning".

"That's awesome, guys! So when do you leave?" Michelle wonders.

"We leave today," her mom answers. "You should start packing your clothes now. Whatever you can't get done today we can come back for in a few weeks".

Michelle pauses mid bite. "Wait...mom what are you saying?"

"You're coming with us, of course. You start at Dalton on Monday."


I encourage each of you to create your own story based on little did she know. If you complete this, please comment below with the story or even a link to the blog post it is written on. I'm so excited to see what you guys can come up with.

If you have any ideas for a future prompt I should work on, let me know in the comments! If I choose your prompt, I will link to your blog when I post the prompt!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Swoon Reads Review 01 - Iron Curse by C.R. Termini

Swoon Reads Review 01

Welcome to a brand new installment on Anna’s Rambles, where I review books on Swoon Reads.  This site is a free site to join.  Swoon Reads publishes both new adult and young adult novels.  A writer can submit their completed (yet unpublished) manuscript to the site and it will become available to readers online.  Those readers can read those stories and rate and comment on them.  These comments and rating are super important to Swoon Reads because they help decide which stories to publish.  If they choose an author’s story, the author will receive a $10,000 advance and their book will be published in physical (print) form and as an e-book!  If you would like to sign up and read stories or submit a manuscript, go to www.swoonreads.com and create an account.  Remember, it’s completely free!

This month, I will be reviewing one of the very first books I read on Swoon Reads.  I initially chose it as a research assignment I gave myself for a project I’m working on.  But the book stuck with me and I hope you will find some enjoyment from this one as well.


Iron Curse
C.R. Termini


339 Pages ; 84,764 Words

Genre: Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Romance
Brief Summary:

When Jifanya’s aunt - the fae Queen - is murdered, life as Jifanya knows it is changed forever. She is sent off to a life of abuse under her cousin’s care and soon reaches her breaking point.  She uses her magical abilities to transport to a safer place, but soon realizes that she is also transported to a later time.  100 years into the future, to be exact.

Raoul has lived a cursed life, as did his parent and his grandparents before him.  Even though he is a King in the human world, he knows that no human can undo his curse.  Although his kingdom has been under the threat of war since the fae princess disappeared, he has been obsessed with reversing his curse.  The chances seem bleak until a girl named Anya shows up at his castle to undertake a scholar position.  Will she help him break the curse or will she only distract him from finding the solution?

Favorite Quotes:

The pull toward the forest was only a faint whisper - Jifanya could hear its voice whistling through the trees, calling her back home.”

“He continued to stare, befuddled, his mouth suddenly hanging open like the fool he was turning out to be.”

“He had just enough time to worry about himself, try to break the curse, and maybe-maybe-be given a chance to end this conflict with the fae.”

“Kissing him made her feel the way she once felt when she would spend her evenings in the forest - alive.”

“She didn’t belong here, but she didn’t belong in Vrenhafna either.  Anya was a wandering soul with no real home-a hundred summers hadn’t changed that.”

The Review:

This book was a hard one to put down.  The way C.R. Termini crafts words makes it difficult to walk away from this story.  There are so many twists and turns that keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat and she introduces fae culture and powers in a unique way that is easy to understand.  The characters themselves are unique and I really felt like I got to know them by then end of the story.  Termini switches point of views between Jifanya and Raoul (and later Annabelle) and it is a treat to see how each character changes by the end of the book.  

The only negatives with this manuscript is that it is not yet completed.  The story is all there, but there are a few typos in the manuscript that might not bother some casual readers, but these are things I notice when reading.  I think a few rounds of editing will definitely fix this and shouldn't dissuade the publisher from accepting the manuscript.

Overall, I think this book is definitely one that Swoon Reads should publish.  It’s addicting and kept me on the edge of my toes throughout the whole book.  I read it in about 2 days originally.  I will definitely be pre-ordering this book when/if it is released.

Author interview:

What inspired you to write Iron Curse?
That's easy! It was inspired by Jane Eyre. I'd wanted to write a fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre for a long time, but I was always stuck on the execution.

Did you know the ending of the book before you starting writing or did it come to you as you wrote the book?
I knew the basic ending when I sat down to write. I didn't know exactly how it would happen, but since I wanted to be at least partially true to the original story, I knew it would be similar. I, however, cannot plan for my life. So it was mostly discovery as I drafted.

Are any of your characters based on people you know in real life?
Not in this novel. They are their own beings.

How long have you been writing novels? Do you have any more finished works or are you working on something new?
I began writing really bad poetry in highschool, and when I got to college I got more serious about poetry and short stories. I began my first novel in 2011. It was a really bad dystopian that makes me embarrassed when I read it. I have two fully finished novels currently, one that's deep in revision, a sequel that needs to be drafted, and my current NaNoWriMo project. I've also started ideas here and there and shoved them aside for something shinier. Gosh, I sound super busy.

I absolutely loved Annabelle and want to see how the council is doing in the aftermath of the novel. Can we expect some prequels or short stories in the future?
I hadn't planned on any, but it's certainly possible!

How did you find out about Swoon Reads?
I run a blog where I review books. I have reviewed many of their books over the past year. At first, I thought it was just another imprint of Macmillan. It was later when I visited the site that I realized just how unique it is.

Why did you choose Swoon Reads over traditional publishing?
Honestly, I was having a lot of trouble with my query. I had a decent one written, but due to the complexity of the story, it was just too long. I was struggling and struggling to cut it down. I did send out one query from a #PitMad request, but that was it. I have a lot more confidence in my query for a different project.

Do you have any favorite manuscripts on Swoon Reads that you recommend?
I haven't read a ton of manuscripts, but I did really enjoy The Glass Ribbon by Jazzy Reale. It's got some serious Cinderella vibes. Other than that, of the books they've published I am love with These Vicious Masks, Been Here All Along, and No Holding Back.

If you could meet any published author, who would you want to meet and why?
Definitely Jodi Meadows. She's one of my favorite authors, and she's always super sweet. I will be meeting her soon when she comes to town for the first time, so I'm excited!

If you would like to connect with C.R. Termini, you can follow her on TwitterGoodreads, and check out her blog.

Authors on this site depend on your ratings and comments to get their manuscripts noticed by the publisher.  I highly recommend taking the time to register and give Iron Curse a read.

Thanks again to C.R. Termini for allowing me to review your manuscript and being gracious enough to allow me to interview you!  And thank you to Swoon Reads for allowing me to pull quotes from the book itself.

Have you submitted a manuscript to the site?  Or have you read an amazing book there that you feel deserves a chance in the spotlight?  Please comment below and let me know!



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Piper Morgan to the Rescue Release and GIVEAWAY!

Piper Morgan to the Rescue
By Stephanie Faris


What's it about?:

Piper helps some four-legged friends find the perfect home in the third book of the brand-new Piper Morgan series.

Piper is super excited to help out at Bark Street, a local animal shelter in town. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by adorable puppies and dogs all day? And when Piper sees Taffy, the cutest dog she has ever seen, Piper is determined to find a way to bring Taffy home. But it won’t be easy—especially when she finds out someone else wants to make Taffy a part of their family, too!


This book is best for ages 6-9 or 1st through 4th grade.  Buy it here just in time for the holidays!




Author Biography:

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, as well as the Piper Morganseries. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

Social Media / Connect with the Author:

Website Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram



Giveaway

If you are interested in getting a free signed copy of the book, enter the giveaway below!






a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Uppercase Book #1 - The Sun is Also A Star Review

Hello, yall.  I'm always on the lookout for new books to read and decided to sign up for the Uppercase Box Subscription.  Each month, I'll get a signed book and a few trinkets.  To subscribe to uppercase books, go here.

This month, November, was my very first month on the service and I have to say, I was super impressed with the loot. 

This months box included:

Harry Potter Cookie Cutters (made by Frosted Co)
A Greeting Card Set (made by 9th Letter Press)
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth Chapter Sample
Tattoo: Love Always Changes Everything
The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (Signed!!)

Hand written note from founder of the company, Lisa!


The Sun Is Also A Star

Summary:

What happens when the girl who doesn't believe in fate and the boy who can't help but romanticize chance encounters meet?  Natashas' family has been told they have twelve hours to leave the county and, in a last ditch effort, heads off to see an immigration lawyer to attempt to delay the departure.  Daniel, by chance, is headed in the same direction to follow his fathers' dream for him.  When they meet, Daniel is completely smitten for her.  Can he convince her to give love a chance or will her analytical mind stop her from accepting something beautiful?

My Thoughts:

I've gotta say, I didn't think I would enjoy this book.  I picked it up and immediately disliked it.  I felt like the back and forth between the male and female protagonists (Natasha and Daniel) were a little too short before switching characters.  I also didn't like that the author would break from the point of view changes to give a "history lesson" of sorts. One of these times, she went into a lesson on multi-verses that (at the time) I really didn't feel was necessary.

But then, I kept reading.  I allowed myself to have an open mind and fall for these characters.  And fall for them I did.  As a white woman, it was hard for me to accept the reality that some races might be treated differently.  To see the way Natasha (the black female protagonist) handled this in a shop and the way Daniel (the Korean male protagonist) handle forced paths based on stereotypes.... my mind was completely blown.  It was hard to see how hopeless one might feel after immigrating to America and then having to leave.  I also have to say that I loved the ending.  It was an unexpected but beautiful way to bring the story together.

For opening my eyes to these truths, I have to tip my hat to Nicola Yoon.  I will be forever grateful to you for showing me this part of our world.

Have you read any good books lately? Post them in the comments and let me know your thoughts.  I'm always up to read a new book!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

IWSG November 2016


This month is my first month participating in the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog post.  I have to say, I’ve very excited about this group overall.  Each month, each member will make a post on the first Wednesday of the month and then go visit some new blogs.  We hope to encourage one another and offer words of encouragement for people who are struggling.  If you’d like to join the group, just go here.

This month, we are given the question What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?  And I think this is an absolutely wonderful question to start off my IWSG posts! 

I absolutely love the feeling of sitting down (without distractions) and pattering away on my keyboard.  I can write whatever comes into my head and see how the story changes and evolves.  Most of the time, my writing is very personal and only for my eyes.  But I’m able to get down on screen what I’m not willing to say out loud.  It’s absolutely exhilarating!

In other news, day one of NaNoWriMo started yesterday and I didn’t get anything done.  I feel so ashamed, but my husband surprised me with gifts for our 6 months of being married and wanted to hang out before I ignore him all month.  I’ll just have to double up on writing this week to catch up.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I know this post is short but I’m attempting NaNoWriMo this year, so I suspect all my posts will be short this month. 

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this month?  How’s that going?  If you’re part of the IWSG, I’d love a link to your blog post for this month!  I hope all your writing is going well!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Behind the curve

Has anyone felt like they were behind the learning curve as an adult? It's easy to justify these things when you're a child. I can remember playing wall ball when I was in middle school. Or more accurately, watching wall ball from across the pavement. For those of you who don't know what wall ball is, someone throws a ball at the wall and everyone runs to to the wall and tries to touch it before the ball hits. If you don't make it, you're out.

So why was I watching from the sidelines? Let's just say I preferred reading to running as a kid. So I'd pretty much be out after the very first throw. While this isn't academically behind the curve, I clearly remember thinking that there was something wrong with me. No one else was out after the first throw after all. So, I practiced. I started running up and down my street. I never did get good at sprinting though. Instead, in high school, I started running cross country. And boy did I love it!

Sometimes, I think you're meant to be behind the curve. There's a reason you can't solve equations as quickly as your classmates or run as quickly as them. But sometimes the reason you're behind is on you.

I'm 24 years old, and I have to say that (yet again) I'm behind the learning curve. Why's this? Because at 24 I'm learning how to drive.

I actually starting learning how to drive right before I turned 18. For Christmas that year, my parents bought me and my sister driving classes. We attend class for 8 hours and need to complete driving and observation hours to pass. Most of the kids in the class have already been driving with their parents, but our parents hadn't taken us yet. So when I got in the car with the instructor and other student, I made sure to mention my lack of experience. Boy, should I not have done that!

I spent my hour of driving fumbling through things while listening to the kid in the back seat and my instructor making fun of me. It was stressful and I didn't do so well. I didn't run into the curb or anything but my turns were jerky and I drove in the middle of the road instead of in my lane. When it was the other kids turn, he was pretty perfect at it. It was a little infuriating. Even though I didn't do well, I was excited to give it another go. I called the driving school a few days later to schedule my next lesson. The lady put me on hold for a few minutes and when she came back, she said that she was looking for a new instructor for me. Apparently, I had driven so badly that the instructor requested I be scheduled with someone else. She asked me to call back in a few days. I was so discouraged that I just didn't.

I almost wish that I could say that was the end of the story, but unfortunately it's not. I went off to college and met a friend that was shocked  that I didn't know how to drive.  He offered to teach me himself. And I gotta say, he did a good job. We drove in neighborhoods during the day, practiced parking, and at night I'd drive on the freeway. I remember hitting 100 mph on the freeway when there were no other cars on the road.  It was exhilarating.

One day, we were driving down a road and we were about 300 feet from a stop. My friend said "Wow, I just want you to know that there's no one else I would trust driving my car."  And then,  I hit the back of the car in front of me. I had underestimated how much to slow down for the upcoming red light. By the time I stopped, it was too late. I got out of the car to assess the damage. I can clearly remember how in shock I was. The front of his car didn't look good, but the back of the other car had no visual damage. But that didn't stop the other driver from going crazy. You see, they had just repainted their car in anticipation for an upcoming vacation. I guess the tiny little scratch on the back of their car was going to make their friends judge them or something. So this hysterical lady is yelling at me and I start crying. The cop makes a show of giving me a ticket and they tow my friend's car. We find out later that his transmission is damaged so much that the car is totaled. It was rough. The only good thing to come of this is when the cop drives us in to work. He must have taken pity on me, because he rips up my ticket and tells me he is letting me off with a warning. But this is enough for me to not want to get behind the wheel again. And so I dont. For years.

There's been one time my dad took me (at 23) and my 16 year old sister to go practice driving. I had a panic attack in the car. I felt like the world was caving in and that I was going to crash the car. He told me to knock it off, but I don't think he understood where I was coming from. No one does. I know it was a fender bender, but I have nightmares of this accident often and am terrified of it happening again.

But now, I've decided I'm trying again. My husband is a very patient man as I drive us down the road to the convenience store each morning. It's about a 5-10 minute drive at 35 miles an hour and I'm scared, but I'm trying to push through it. My parking job is fantastic, but I'm working on not riding the curb on the other side of the car. He also said that it seems like sometimes my driving is jerky. I had to explain that it's only because I'm having a mini panic attack each time I get behind the wheel. But I'm trying. And I'll get there. It just might take time.

Have you ever felt behind the curve? Let me know. Tell me I'm not alone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NaNoWriMo Progress | Planning, Planning, and more Planning

I've been working since about October 7th on my project for National Novel Writing Month.  And by working, I mean that I'm doing a whole lot of world building and planning.  Oh boy!

When I originally made the decision to participate (might I add for the first time) this year, I had huge plans on how to best organize and get stuff done.  Cue, The Snowflake Method (thanks Randy Ingermanson!).  If you're not familiar, you create your novel in steps that gradually make it more and more detailed.  The first step is creating your "pitch line" or one sentence summary of your book.

For the project I'm doing, my pitch line is: 
A young woman discovers that she has mysterious powers and must learn how to use them before she detonates and destroys her world.

You go on from there and develop that sentence into a paragraph. Mine is 5 sentences long and it does give away the ending.  From here, you'll develop a bit of your characters and then turn your one paragraph synopsis into a page long synopsis.  The idea is to keep getting more and more detailed into your story without outright righting it.  Step ten of this process is where is where you actually hammer out the draft.  Some people call this the first draft but, during NaNoWriMo, I consider this Draft Zero, as the purpose of this crazy and hectic month is to edit yourself as minimally as possible.

I even had a google spreadsheet set up to track my planning process.  I needed to reach step four by October 13th, just 6 days after I decided to start planning this novel.

However, when working on my story, which is a fantasy novel for young adults, I realized that the snowflake method doesn't lend a lot of help towards world building (particularly setting and planning different groups in the society I am to create).  So, I've branched out of that.

This week, I will be finishing my four page synopsis (only 1.5 pages left to go!) and working on building my knowledge of faeries and planning out the "good guys" and "bad guys".  Oh boy, do I wish I had another month to plan this out.  I'm really hoping I have enough time to plan out a scene map before November starts. I think that'll really help when it comes to writing, because if I'm not feeling a scene, I can pick out another one from the list and go out of order.

What are you doing to prep for NaNoWriMo?  How much do you have left to do?  Do you think you're ready or could you use another year just to plan your first draft?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Welcome & NaNoWriMo

Hello there, and welcome to my blog.  I always find it very odd when people say that upon opening a blog.  Especially me, considering that I have literally zero followers at present time, and the chance that someone will actually read past this sentence is slim to none.  But that's totally okay, because I'm writing this blog for me to reflect upon later.  I haven't journaled or blogged in months so it's a little nostalgic that I'm even doing this.  But more on that later (or never).

Small Disclaimer: I named the blog Anna's Rambles because I will, indeed, ramble.  This is the only disclaimer I'm going to post (today).  Apologies for the inconvenience.  

The main reason I'm writing this blog is to start participating in NaNoWriMo.  I've never participated before, so I'm really nervous I won't do well.  So, I thought if I put this out in the interwebs, I might find some better motivation to actually finish.  And, so far, it's working!  I've gotten a few writing buddies on NaNoWriMo.org and they've really helped me push to get some planning done in the month of October.  It's actually quite exciting!

In my follow up post, I'll talk a little bit about what I've planned out so far (without giving away my entire plot line because that would be bad) but today I'd love to follow some more writers out there.  If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this year and have a blog, please comment with it below.  I'd absolutely love to follow it and see how everyone is doing.   Good luck guys and happy planning.  Only 7 planning days left until the crazy begins!

Anna