Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thunder, Lightning, Rainstorms! Oh, My!

I've always loved the roaring sound of thunder, the electrifying clash of lightning in the sky, and the splash of rain on the ground. 

I got it all, and more, on Saturday night.

While I was at a zombie-themed dance party, the rain started pelting down. A bunch of us ended up going to the back of the club to dance in the rain. After only ten minutes, I was soaked, no longer fashioning my ratted out zombie hair.

On my way home, I witnessed one of two of the best lightning storms I've ever seen in my life. The first was when I lived in Taiwan. During the typhoon season, I saw lightning striking throughout the entire night's sky. It's still burned into my eyes. Amazing!

But Saturday night, sheesh, it was like watching the coolest firework show known to man. Almost every thirty seconds, fire-like branches of light slashed through the sky accompanied by booming surges of thunder. By the time I neared my house, the rain was flowing down like a waterfall. My driveway turned into a pond of water.

This was such a fun evening of wicked-awesome dancing and a storm I won't ever forget.

The following list includes some books that are like these storms: They're unforgettable to me.
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
  • These is My  Words by Nancy E. Turner
  • My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
  • The Plant That Ate the Dirty Socks by Nancy McArthur (yep, you read it right. Love these books)
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Alchmist by Paulo Coelho
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
I have high hopes that one day my book(s) will be unforgettable to YOU.

Which books fall into this category for you?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Now What?

I’ve finished my first book, Félicité Found.

Now what?

Should I step off the writing train? Should I place all my focus on sending out query letters? Should I become a hermit-like mole, gobbling up other author’s words?

This has been an odd time for me. I took a wee break, then had to whip out a synopsis letter super quick. After that, I really didn’t want to write or read anything. I pretty much felt like I was in blah-blah-land, like I had barely graduated from college with my whole future wide open. I felt aimless, needed something to do.

A wise person told me: once I started querying my completed first manuscript, I should start writing my next—hop right into the next idea. On Tuesday night, I took her advice. Now I’ve got the first chapter of Julia King’s next hot seller done. It was liberating to formulate my new idea into words, especially because it’s been nagging at me for months.

And my WIP is completely different than my first book. The voice sings to me, making butterflies flutter their way through my veins. I love the voice of Félicité Found, too. It’s just different, combining a pinch of solemnity and a splash of darkness.

Writing another book (the first in a trilogy), has opened up my creative mind again. Funny enough, having gone through Félicité Found so many times has definitely earned me the right to start something new.

I’m not putting Félicité Found on the shelf, never to look at it again. I will be querying her out until my diligence gains me an agent, then a publisher. But for now, all I can do is progress forward, crafting another story.

Being an author is certainly difficult, but super fun when the creative juices are being pumped onto the page.

What would you suggest doing after you’ve finished your first, second, or twenty-eighth novels?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pump Us Up Time

Recently, I’ve listened to some of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. There’s one thing that struck me: the main character Edmond Dantès has been trapped in prison for many years. He comes in contact with the prisoner in the cell next to him, Abbé Faria. Dantès sees all the ingenious inventions the abbé has created, so he could write, light his cell at night, dig into the wall, among many others.

The book says:

“What are you thinking about?” the abbé asked with a smile, imagining that Dantès’ silence must indicate a very high degree of admiration.
“Firstly, I am thinking of one thing, which is the vast knowledge that you must have expended to attain the point that you have reached. What might you not have done, had you been free?”
“Perhaps nothing: the overflowing of my brain might have evaporated in the mere futilities. Misfortune is needed to plumb certain mysterious depths in the understanding of men; pressure is needed to explode the charge. My captivity concentrated all my faculties on a single point. They had previously been dispersed, now they clashed in a narrow space; and, as you know, the clash of clouds produces electricity, electricity produces lightning and lightning gives light.”

As I listened to this, I couldn’t help but think about writing. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. There are a lot of ups and downs when it comes to this industry. I’ve felt my fair share of them, and I know I will feel many more.

I quoted that part of The Count of Monte Cristo because the abbé was in a situation that forced him to use his mind in ways he couldn’t have done otherwise—on the outside world.

As a writer, there are many pressures that force us to overcome intense obstacles; they make us work harder. These might include crafting the story into what you’ve envisioned in your mind, coping with difficult critiques of your book, or the necessity to do a full revision of your manuscript.

Another example, that I’m dealing with right now, is the querying process. No matter how much I’ve tried to prepare myself for rejection emails, it’s still difficult. Although, in some kind of a masochistic way, I like to receive the rejections; it makes me feel special because an agent actually reviewed my work and took the time to respond.

It takes just one agent to represent me and my book, and if I keep on trying I’ll eventually find the right one.

It’s only through these pressures, trials that make me who I am. They make me become a better writer.

I hope this post encourages you in whatever situations are particularly difficult for you.

Keep on writing. Keep on going, guys. It’s worth it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout Book Review

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to receive an ARC of Half-Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I was asked to write a review; a snippet of it is going to be on the praise page of the first edition. Whoa, that's cool! I get to post my review, now. Yippee! I rather enjoyed the book. I hope you do, too.

Goodreads: The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi-pure-bloods-have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals-well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.
Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1:
Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.
Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem--staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

Half-Blood will be released on October 18, 2011.

Julia's Review: Half-Blood is a grip-you-by-the-wrists rollercoaster ride. From the first word to the last, it’s not only cleverly entertaining, but deathly dark. Paced with precision, the story unfolds gradually to the perfect end, filled with unanswered questions and a desperate longing for the following books.

The highlight of this book is the main character, Alexandria: she is a multi-layered delight. She’s part spit-fire, filled with a little bit of sensitivity, and is a punch-you-in-the-face, attitude driven fighter. Alex will do what she wants, and then suffer the consequences later. Thanks to Jennifer L. Armentrout giving Alex such a kickin voice, it’s a rockin trip to be lost in her head. Overcoming some serious and tough situations, she pushes through conflict with a strength I haven’t seen in a female character for a while. It’s liberating, enjoyable.

Any good book, in my opinion, has to have the hot, swoon-worthy hunk. With reserved patience, Aiden rises to the occasion to fulfill every girl’s deep desire for companionship. He shines throughout the story, not only because of his rippling muscles, but his devotion to being a Daimon slayer. You’ll have to read the book to find out what a Daimon is—I assure you, they’re not pretty.

If you want some playful flirtation and spicy kissing scenes, then this book is for you! I assure you, it will drive you crazy. And. It’ll rip you to shreds.

Through a crescendo of conflict, Half-Blood places itself in the records of the Grecian gods as a paramount book—a must read. It cracks open a new realm of the paranormal—and a fun one at that. Take a front seat ride on this rollercoaster of extreme fighting, creepy creatures, and delicious men. Half-bloods, Pures, and Daimons: they will shake your world. Forever.

Some things to consider: The book swears a bit. This is my own personal opinion, though, it may not be yours. Also, there's one intense make-out scene. If that bothers you, consider yourself warned. I'd still recommend the book, however.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Shameless Plug. Not That It's Needed.

I attended a writing workshop last Saturday with a writing buddy (Morgan Shamy) who I met on Twitter. Basically we all critiqued the first 15 pages of each member of the group's manuscript. The writers were seated at separate tables according to genre and were headed by a local editor. I received some amazing feedback, and had an enjoyable time meeting new people and thriving off of their passion to write. 

As I talked with my group of writers, one of them wanted to become a part of a writing group or find people to critique her book. I commented that I found my close-knit group of critique buddies through social media--mainly Twitter. 

Without social networking, I know I wouldn't be where I am now. It's crazy to think that at this time last year I pretty much knew nothing about the writing industry, I had no critique partners, and I was a nameless writer in the midst of thousands of authors. 

Now I know so much more than I would have otherwise. I shamelessly plug Twitter for a moment; it's the reason for my success (at least the little bit I have so far). It's my little (well, humongous) writing forum. Twitter initiated me into the world of writing more than anything. Ever. And now I have a lot more writing buddies than I could ever have wished for, and, I'm sure, more to come. 

If you're not using Twitter or social networking, start now. It's a fine way to immerse yourself into a group of people who are supportive and friendly. You will learn so much from them and them from you. I love my writers! I love you all! 

What is your favorite social networking tool and why?

I'm pretty sure you all have seen the following social networking video, but I share it anyway. It's cool and gets my point across very well. Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

A New Zombie Initiate Announced... OK... Giveaway Winner

My blog post comes a bit late today. I had to play with my nephews and niece for a little while after work. They've been out of state for a couple months which resulted in me missing them a lot. Who could blame me for putting off writing a blog post in order to spend some time with my little lovelies. No one at all!

Well, it's time to announce the winner of a brand new copy of Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris. I let randompicker.com make the decision cuz I'm sort of am in love with it. 

Without further adieu, the winner is....


Woot Woot! Congrats, friend. I hope you enjoy this snark attack of a book that is now gonna be yours! Yes, I wrote snark. That wasn't a typo. I didn't really mean to write shark. haha. Silly me. Brittney, I will email you about getting the book. 

I hope you all have a zombirific weekend. Just don't get attacked by any flesh eating monsters. 


See you all next week as usual on Tuesday and Friday!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Give Me a Break

When I was a little kid, my favorite candy bar was a KitKat. I still like them because of their chocolaty goodness. Num Num! Yet, they aren’t my most wanted treat these days, unless if it’s a break that I’m looking for.

I’m giving myself a writing break for a couple weeks. I’ve got to admit, I’m a little burned out. I’ve been working so hard, not only on my own book but critiquing other awesome author’s books, too!

As an author, occasionally a little siesta is needed. It clears my mind and helps me get ready for another round of edits, writing, or critiques. I don’t want to write something horrible because I’m exhausted, so I’m avoiding it (except for blog posts and a writing conference coming up this Saturday).

I’ve decided to read a few books, hang out with friends, watch TV and movies, go to the local water park, and maybe clean out my closet. Tonight, I’m going out with a friend. She going to teach me how to bargain shop for clothes. Gah! I’m excited. I love clothes. *claps hands like a little kid*

I want to be at my best before I start writing my next book—an Urban Fantasy. It’s gonna be fun to write. I’ve been stewing over it for a couple months now. You’re all in store for something pretty cool. Well, at least I think so.

I hope you are all enjoying writing. Or if you’re not an author, you’re having fun with whatever your passions may be. But if you are burned out, take a break for a bit to refresh your mind. Go to the store and buy a KitKat. Take a break! Get in some much needed R&R.

PS: Don't forget to enter to win a fabulous Zombie book called Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris. Follow this link to enter!

Friday, August 5, 2011

In Which Julia Becomes Obsessed

Today's post is gonna be short. Maybe my shortest one. Ever. But I share something funny with you. Well, at least I feel it's funny, although, somewhat annoying.

Ok, here it is: It's maddening what looking for a literary agent will do to you! I'm officially an obsessed email checker! I have to check it at least once every half hour or more to see if I've received one of those all important manuscript request emails! Or even just a rejection would suffice. I'm hopeless!

I hope I'll get used to the arduous suspenseful waiting. If not, I'll probably turn into a crazy dog lady (I like dogs more than cats).

Anyway, querying is fun, though. I'm enjoying researching agents and getting to know them through their bios.

Have a great Friday and wonderful weekend!

PS: Don't forget to enter to win a fabulous Zombie book called Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris. Follow this link to enter!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris: Living Dead Giveaway

For something like 9 months, I’ve been full-blown giddy with excitement to read the book Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris. On Sunday I was finally able to read the super fantastic book. I liked it so much that I’m gonna pimp it out with a review and a giveaway!


Someone's been a very bad zombie.
Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate!
She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town. . . and stay hormonally human.

Review Time:

Bad Taste in Boys attacks the writing world with gnawing humor, biting sarcasm, and chomping wit. Ok, forgive my zombie references. Harris’ playful story enthralled me to the point of madness as the bloodied plot thickened. I practically read it all in one sitting, wanting more and more. Just like a zombie craves eating more and . . . uh, I won’t be graphic.

I loved the main character, Kate Grable. She’s the darned cutest and geekiest little teenager. Ever. Her intellectual prowess comes in handy all the time! Fear is not in her vocabulary and neither is lipstick. She kicks some major zombie butt (that's if they have a butt left to kick). And she still has time to get all straight As. There is nothing she can't do.

Now to the flesh of this magnificent book: Carrie Harris has the most creative, unforgettable writing style I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. There’s no stopping her clever sense of humor or her ability to craft some wicked good, borderline eerie, scenes. And the best part is there can be some creeptastic part in the book but you’ll still find yourself giggling like a little girl. Or laughing so loud, you fear waking up the neighbors.

Reading Bad Taste in Boys will take you no time at all. You’ll be recommending it to all your friends just so they can chuckle at its hilarity or jump at a scary part. I assure you this is a brilliant read; one you won’t want to miss eating up like a zombie.

Giveaway Time:

If you want to win this living dead treasure, you should enter this giveaway right now. If you don’t, beware of flesh eating creatures or ninjas dressed up like trampolines. Bwahahahahaha Seriously, which of those is more terrifying?

To enter:

You must follow my blog (offer the name that appears on my sidebar follower list)

You must follow me on Twitter - @writingjewels1

You must tweet, blog, or Facebook about this contest and provide the link

Provide your email address so I can contact the winner

And tell me what you would say or do if a zombie walked up to you on the street

Open to U.S. Only

You must be 13 years or older

Contest ends on Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 1:47 P.M. MST

The soon-to-be zombified winner (well, once you’ve read it) will be announced on my blog on Friday, August 12, 2011.

Good luck!