Monday, February 28, 2011

And the Winner is . . .

First, I must congratulate Colin Firth for winning the Best Actor Award last night. I am really happy for him. He is such a great actor. Oh, and of course I must say that he makes a gorgeous Mr. Darcy. *swoon*
Now down to business. Last week I held a contest on my blog. I asked for people to send me a photograph of their bookshelf. I want to thank everyone who entered. It was way fun to get to know you and your bookshelves! I am happy to announce the winner.

And the winner of a $20 gift card is:

*Drum Roll*

Kristin Thetford -

She used every method stated in the rules to promote the contest. Way to go girl! Her bookshelf is well organized (way better than mine). I love the curvature of the design at the top. It shines out as a nice place to house her many books. Congratulations! I will email you with the details of getting your prize.

I would like to give props to Trisha Wolfe - for sending me a photo of her aesthetically pleasing bookshelf. Hers is the bookshelf I liked the most. I love how the writing station is situated at the center of her book collection. That would totally be an inspiring place to write. I have got to buy one like it soon.
Thanks everyone! Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Novel's Inspirational Song

Just a reminder: Don't forget to enter to win a $20 gift card. Just follow this link to get to the rules: Bookshelf Photo Contest Contest ends tomorrow.

A lot of authors these days have songs that remind them of their books or give them inspiration for their stories. I’ve come up with a few songs that a mesh well with my book. Over the next few Fridays, I’m gonna share them with you. It might give you a tiny, minuscule idea of what my book is about. I love the songs and hope you do, too.

While I was rough drafting, my friend introduced me to the first song I’m going to share with you. It's called “Go” by Hanson. Yes, Hanson as in Mmm Bop Hanson. Really, I’m not pulling your leg. Hanson really is producing music still, and the tunes are fantastic. I even saw them in concert last year. Great concert BTW. Pics posted, too! My little “crush” on Taylor Hanson still is there. Pricking at my heart even though I wasn't a huge fan in the MMMBop days. He is so blasted cute, but married with kids. Argh, all the cute ones are taken.

Alright, done with my tangent. Back to the musical business.

One night last year I was driving home from work, listening to "Go". Ok, I'll admit, I listened to it like 10 times in a row. The more I listened to it, the more it rang true to my book. Emotions mounted in my heart. Tears formed in my eyes. And a sweet smile clothed my face. "Go" strongly matches my book, or at least a part of it. I love it for what it is, but also for inspiring me to continue to write my story. I would like to share the music video with you now. Watch the video, focusing on the lyrics; they're beautiful.

Which songs have been inspirational in your writing? Or did you find a song along the way that screamed your book? Uh, not literally, though, I hope!  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What I’ve Learned Wednesday: Critiquing

Thanks to President’s Day I had the day off from work on Monday, giving me tons of time to commence another revision of my WIP. *Yippee* I got some great feedback and suggestions from Sarah and Robin. They edited my manuscript. Thank you girls! I have to admit that this revision is making me really nervous, but it will make my manuscript shine!

In the past, I’ve always been way apprehensive of people reading my work. I avoided it like the plague. This is a way bad idea, my peeps. You must share your work with others. Never feel afraid of the red pen. The problem is that you are so attached to your manuscript that you miss the flaws and/or plot holes. Some hard-core suggestions are the only way that you can get outside of your narrow, blinded box to make your story pop. I’ve worked a little bit with a critique partner, but not as much as I desire. That is a goal of mine—to utilize a critique partner more in the future.

With critiquing, you may get some feedback that is really tough to take—tears may form in my eyes, however, it was a kick in the bum to drive me to a higher level of writing. I grappled for a full two days with thoughts that I was a terrible writer. I was overwhelmed by what was ahead of me in order to make my story *sparkle*. Now I am ready to dive into the deep end of writing with some great direction. I have people supporting me, so I won’t be sailing alone in the vast and sometime scary sea of writing.

What are your experiences with having critiques done of your writing (the good, bad, and the ugly)? Do you use a critique partner? How has that helped your writing evolve?

PS: I have made some great headway revising my manuscript over the past two days. I feel it is going to be even more amazing. :D

PPS: Don't forget to enter to win a $20 gift card. Just follow this link to get to the rules: Bookshelf Photo Contest

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bookshelf Photo Contest!

My Read Books
One of my Twitter friends posted a picture of her bookshelf the other day. I told her I would send her a picture of my messy bookshelf. As you can tell I totally need a bigger shelf to house my pretty books. Buying the books I read is one of my obsessions. If I read a book that I’ve purchased, it becomes a part of me. I feel accomplished looking at my books because I know I read them. They have my fingerprints on each page. It's delicious to me. My obsession with purchasing the books I read started with the Twilight series, and has only escalated since.

One day I would love to have a room in my future home with a library filled with all my books. I hope to encourage my children to love reading. By starting my own collection now, they will have it later. It’s a great investment. And not only that, but it helps support the authors, too.

Now for the contest details:

Its pretty simple, take a picture of your bookshelf and send it to me via my email  If you win, you’ll get a $20 gift card to help you buy more books for your bookshelf.


You will get points according to the following breakdown:
+1 point if you email me the photo
+1 point if you follow me on Twitter - @writingjewels
+1 point if you share this contest via Twitter or Facebook
+1 point if you share the contest on your blog
+1 point if you follow my blog - you must show up on my sidebar followers list
+1 point if your bookshelf photo is my favorite

Comment on this post tallying up your points. Make sure you include your Twitter name, email, blog link, and/or Facebook link telling about the contest. If you’re already following me, you automatically get that point. If you do not have a blog, you may email your friends with the contest info (I'm taking your word on this one). You’ll win if you have the most points.
My To-Be-Read Books
The contest ends on Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 10:00 p.m. MST. The winner will be announced on Monday, February 28, 2011 here on my blog. I will show off your bookshelf photo, too.

Happy Contesting!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Cover for Supernaturally Revealed

I'm exploding with squeals and giggles and everything above that would qualify as an extreme euphoric state. As I was updating my GoodReads this evening, I noticed that there was a cover for Supernaturally by Kiersten White. I almost died--literally--when I saw it. My heart almost stopped. Actually, it started racing so fast that I thought I was going to explode or implode, whichever came first. Luckily I didn't. Phew, that would have been terrible. I wouldn't have been able to read Supernaturally or the third book in the series.

I clap with ecstatic joy for Kiersten getting another BEAUTIFUL cover. Congratulations. Supernaturally will be released on August 30, 2011. I wait with great anticipation to read it in like a bleeping day. If you haven't read Paranormalcy, the first book in the trilogy, you must. Do it now or I will be extremely mad at you. Ok, I won't, but I was really tempted to be in such a state of anger toward you. Tehehe. Anyway, with all this excitement, I am going to step away from the computer and cool down.

Before I go, though, I will be announcing a contest on my blog tomorrow morning. You could be the proud winner of something to add more books to your bookshelf. More details to come tomorrow! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Treasure Island Book Review

During my journey to read 15 books for the Off the Shelf Challenge, I decided it would be wise to throw some classics in my list. One of them is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. During the first few chapters, I wasn’t as enthralled as I would be with modern literature. But after a few more chapters, I was hooked. If you haven’t read older literature, it may be difficult to get used to the old language style. It’s worth it, though, to invest your time in reading the classics.
My favorite character in Treasure Island turned out to be the one-legged, Long John Silver. He was by far the most dynamic character—stealing the show. I loved how Stevenson developed Long John’s voice. It made me giggle when Long John said things like, “Shiver me timbers” and “By gum.” He is elusive in where his loyalties lie, but regardless, he’s a fun character to get to know.
My favorite sentence in the entire book is, “I could hear hails coming and going between the old buccaneer and his comrades, and this sound of danger lent me wings.” The imagery I felt in this sentence is almost tangible. How it says, “lent me wings” is breath taking on so many levels. You can literally see in your mind how quick the character, Jim, is fleeing from danger.
I’m really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It turned out to be really fun to read a pirate book. The thrilling adventure made me unable to put it down. I hope that you have the same experience if you chose to read this scrumptious book.
Have you read it? What is your opinion of Treasure Island? And what are your favorite classics?  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What I've Learned Wednesday: Goals!

Writing is a long process, however, can be further drawn out without having goals. I finished my rough draft in five months. I wish I could say I quickly arrived where I am now, but I would totally be lying. After completeing the rough draft, I dilly-dallied around, perhaps editing a couple times a week, if that. I wasn’t particularly driven to get my manuscript where I wanted it to be. I made it through an edit and started another. Same thing, I didn’t dive head first into the revision. Seven months after finishing my rough draft, I realized it was time to get really serious. I made a goal to get through another revision within three weeks, and I made the goal! *party time*

If there is one thing I regret about the past year’s writing, it would be my lack of goals. I can only imagine how much farther in the writing process I would be if I had been driven by goals. But. I can’t dwell on regrets; I can only press forward with goals to finish my manuscript.

When I start future projects, I will for sure set up a time-line in which I will follow, so I won’t elongate the already lengthy process. These goals will be helpful for the day when deadlines are imposed upon me by editors/publishers.

How I set goals: A visual representation helps me to be goal-driven. I make a calendar that specifies how long I will edit within a given day. I schedule out a certain amount of days and expect myself to be done within the given amount of time. I also write my progress on the calendar, too. The calendar is placed in an area of my house where I’ll see it multiple times during the day as a reminder to make my goal. Also, have someone you report to in the process.

Be careful not to push too hard in your goal setting, you don’t want to get discouraged. Take into consideration your other life responsibilities. IE: work, family, kids, etc.

What are your methods to reach your writing goals? If you are published, what advice would you give to the unpublished writer to gear up for deadlines?

Don't we all have a goal to be a purse when we grow up? I would rather be a published author, though, but that's just me. :)  This pic was way to cute not to put it on the post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Breathless Reads Tour Recap

The Breathless Reads Tour visited Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, February 12, 2011. I was blessed with the chance to attend and meet some absolutely GREAT authors.
From left to right: Ally Condie author of Matched; Beth Revis author of Across the Universe; Andrea Cremer author of Nightshade; Kirsten Miller author of The Eternal Ones; and Brenna Yovanoff author of The Replacement. 

For the first hour, the authors had the opportunity to answer questions prepared by the host of the event, King's English, as well as audience questions. The authors all had their own personality in which captivated me. Ally was professional and welcoming. Beth was enthusiastic and comical. Andrea was fun and exciting. Kirsten was confident and  well-humored. Brenna was endearing and proper. I enjoyed getting to know the authors better through a in-person setting. Thanks to the authors for taking the time to visit SLC. 
In which Julia meets Ally and Beth. They're holding my own personal copies of their books. Notice the cheesy smile upon my really excited face. I can't tell you how giddy with joy I was before I met them, and after too. I am totally a book-worm nerd. I like it though. My sister can attest to the nerdiness--she was there. I can't even imagine how I would act if I met Bono from U2 and the other band members.
I can't wait to read the other author's books. If you have read them, or any of the books, what did you think?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Across The Universe by Beth Revis Book Review

I lieu of attending the Breathless Reads Book tour tomorrow in Salt Lake City, Utah, I decided that it was a perfect time to review Across the Universe by Beth Revis. She along with a few other authors are headlining the Breathless Reads Book tour. I look forward to meeting Beth, especially since I devoured her debut novel so quickly. Also meeting Ally Condie, author of Matched, will be fabulous.

Across the Universe is the third book I chose to read for the Off the Shelf Challenge. Twelve more books to go and excited for the journey.

Speaking of journeys, Across the Universe, Beth’s YA sci-fi/dystopian/fantasy novel, unravels while a group of people from the future travel Across the Universe in a spaceship built to sustain life for a LONG time. Definitely, each chapter makes you want to read more.

Some of my favorite words in the book are as follows:

  • Whoosh
  • Click. Whoosh. Thud.
  • Beep, beep-beep
  • Aroo! Aroo!
  • Plop! Plop!
  • Moo-uh-eeee!
  • Whirr-churn-whirr 
Yep, they are sounds on the ship. Seriously, without those quirky words describing the sounds, it wouldn’t have been as good. I could distinctly hear what was happening. Well done Beth for the ingenious sounds you gave me—us.

The end was quite a punch in my stomach when I read it. Why? I failed to notice that this book is the first book in a series. Silly me! I thought it was over. And. It sure isn’t. I was thinking, well that’s an interesting way to end a book. Now that I realize it’s a series, I am well-pleased with the ending. It leaves you hanging—wanting more. Phew! Good thing I figured that out. I could have been confused for a long time—maybe long enough to travel Across the Universe. Beth please don't make fun of me for not realizing that. :) *feeling sheepish*

Thanks Beth for writing such a fantastic book—can’t wait for the next two.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Happy Friday! And have a GREAT weekend!

As an ending, here’s my favorite song from the movie Across the Universe.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What I've Learned Wednesday: We've Got the Beat

Beets—I love beets. Webster’s dictionary defines beet as “a plant with a dark red fleshy root, used as food to produce sugar.” Yep, I love beets. Actually, I despise beets to the dark red fleshy root core. The kinds of beats I do love are writing beats. These beats could be dark red and fleshy if your character is chewing ravenously on a dark red and fleshy beet as he discusses the beets that are being ravenously eaten. Wow, that was a mouthful. I'm exhausted just from writing that. Tell me never to do that again. *Bad Sentence*
The writing beat describes a scene by providing imagery. The trick is to not overuse the beats. Make sure your reader can still use their own imagination while reading your story. You need not describe every little detail as depicted below:
        “She walked over to the pay phone, opened the door, shuffled into the small space, wiped off the receiver because it was disgusting, pressed it to her ear, and dialed one number at a time until she heard the familiar ringtone.” That is overkill on the beats.

You still want to use them to livin up your scenes—bringing reality to your story. Here’s a scene from my book. It sort of won’t make sense without having read the book, but I find the imagery pretty great and want to share it as a TEASER. Yep, I’m mean not to give you more. Background: The scene is a part of a conversation between two of my characters—Pierre Rousseaux (the hero) and his police partner Luc Broussard (the funny-man of the story). Catch the beats as you read.
        “Alright, but one thing Pierre.” Luc tripped, but steadied himself before he face planted it on the floor. “Oops,” he said in a deep voice, gazing sheepishly around the office. “Anyway, I’m not a professional at dating, but if I know one thing, it's that you are madly in love . . . Rousseaux, whatever happened between you two doesn’t matter.” Luc tripped again. “Damn it, can I even walk today. I might be the next lieutenant admitted to the hospital today. I can see it now, ‘The Embarrassment of the Department, Luc Broussard—Injured While on Duty—Cause, He Tripped.'” © Julia King 2011

The beats I used were short, hopefully illuminating your imagination to see the comical moment had during the conversation.

How do you like to use the beat or would you rather just eat beets?
Or do you love The Beets just as much as Doug from the Doug cartoon does? Watch the video below to find out more about some Killer Tofu.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Mortal Instruments Review

If you liked the video above then you’ll love The Mortal Instruments series. If anything, the video probably intrigued you to read the books. I hope.
For the Off the Shelf Challenge, I said I would read the last two books in The Immortal Instruments series, City of Ashes and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare. I previously read the first book, therefore, I will review the series as a whole.
It’s a twist on paranormal fiction including: warlocks, werewolves, vampires, faeries, and demons. The series was cool, especially because it referenced the 80’s flick, Say Anything. You’ll just have to read it to see where Clare placed the reference to the romantic, John Cusack film.  

The element to these books that I thought was the well done was Clare’s hooks. I don’t remember one; yes one, of the chapters that didn’t leave me salivating for more.  Reading for hours was a common theme to my journey to gobble up these books. 
A huge part of the books that I loved and hated was how Clare spread out a major plot element throughout the last two books. I cannot tell you what because that would definitely spoil the series. And I’m not a spoiler. This was another reason why I was hooked into the books.  I could not stop reading without knowing exactly what was going to happen.
I liked the characters, especially Jace. He is the series’ handsome-beyond-reality hunk of a hero. Plus, the villain, Valentine, was someone I would never want to be near. He’d probably sick demons on me just for breathing, or think I’m vampire because of my widow’s peak.
The fourth book comes out later this year, so it’s not over yet. Check out the countdown below. Pick up this series. You’ll enjoy it for sure! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pay It Forward

Shelli Johannes-Wells is doing this totally rad contest where the winner gets the chance to have their query letter passed on to her agent. That would be A-FREAKING-MAZING! Wish me luck guys!  
Note: Query Letter – An intense one page letter sent to literary agents – The way you introduce you and your book to agents – If they like it – You have an agent – Agent Query can take a long time – And you will receive A LOT of rejection letters – If you are lucky – You will get an agent
For more information about the contest and a synopsis of my book, please check out Pay It Forward Contest 
Anyway, along with the contest, I get to Pay It Forward to people who have helped me along the way.  I couldn’t pick just one person, so I’m going to recognize six peeps.

·       Mom and Dad – you encouraged me to keep writing. I remember this one day—about half way through the rough draft—I didn’t want to write anymore. I thought it was hopeless. They told me not give up, but to keep writing. I appreciate their constant support and, above all, their love. 
·       Pam for bleeding on my manuscript, it helped me to make it BETTER. If it weren’t for her, I would not have done a lot of research on how to improve my writing. Thank you Pam for wanting to have a little two-woman critique group!
·       Sarah, my good buddy, who helped me recognize a fatal flaw in my writing—repetition. I hope I’ve been cured of that terrible, habitual disease. She works full-time but still has offered to edit my manuscript.  She is one of my best friends and I love her dearly. Thanks Sarah!
·       Robin, my sister-in-law the super woman. She is a really good mom of four kids, wife, tutor for teenagers, marathon runner, coupon queen, sewer, and everything else under the sun, moon, and stars. And she is editing my manuscript regardless of her hectic schedule. She already has given me so much insight as to how I can make my book better. I love the girl so much and I’m happy she’s in my family.
·       Kiersten White for being my example to make my book become a reality. If it weren’t for some great advice she told me, I don’t think I would be where I am now in the writing process. Thank you so much.
Thank you everyone else who has pushed me along the way. 

Who are you going to Pay It Forward to?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Breathless Reads Tour

I know it is not a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday when I usually post, but this is absolutely IMPORTANT for me to let you know about, especially if you live in the states where this book tour is going.

I'm thrilled that this book tour is hitting up Salt Lake City. Why? Cause I live in Utah. And. I. Can. Go. Can't wait to meet Ally Condie author of Matched and Beth Revis author of Across the Universe. Great books btw. Read them. I haven't even finished Across the Universe and I'm recommending it.  Anyone in Utah should go to this event. I will be there so you'll be able to meet me too. Yeah, yeah, I'm not published yet, but you can say you met me before my book(s) graced the book shelves.  For more information, visit Breathless Reads

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you think of them, especially the ones I haven't read yet.  If you plan on attending the book tour in Salt Lake City, let me know via email: We can meet up and have a ball associating with great authors.

Have a great Thursday! 

PS: I will still be posting tomorrow even though I will be attending the auditions for So You Think You Can Dance in SLC! Yah! Yah! Yah! Note: I am not auditioning. Not a dancer. My friend got tickets to get in. Can't wait because I love that show. 
See you tomorrow my fabulous following friends. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What I've Learned Wednesday: The Essential Writing Hook

Honestly, months ago, the beginning of my book was blah, bland, boring. I described the setting more than anything else. Bad Idea. An absolute fiction writing no no. You can describe, but don’t make it your ONLY purpose for the beginning of your book. The beginning of my story was good, but lacked what would thoroughly entwine a reader into my story. I did some research on fiction writing back in December and realized that I had to jump right into the story, and I literally did do that. The first chapter in my book is called "Jump" and for good reason. On the first page, I left no room for doubt that this story is going to be a trip. It is going to be mysterious. It is going to make you ache to find out what's going to happen.

This brings me to hooks. Hooks leave the reader wanting more. They may bring a new element into the story. They may stop abruptly in the middle of something intense, therefore, your reader turns the page to the next chapter. Hook your reader into your story from the very beginning and, thereafter, keep hooking them in at the end of every chapter.

I just started reading “Across the Universe” by Beth Revis. Her first chapter left me with that ache to know what's going to happen. Each subsequent chapter left me with the same feeling. She utilizes the hook to press your nose farther into the book. Also, Cassandra Clare is brilliant with hooks to the point where all I could think about is what is going to happen to Clary or Jace or Simon. Her series “The Mortal Instruments” got me hook, line, and sinker (cliché, I know). They made me want to keep reading, even deep into the night.

Hooks are not just important, they’re CRUCIAL to keep the reader interested. No fictional writing should be done without hooks.

As I said before, a hook found in the first chapter is imperative. We all have read books where we stop reading it because it doesn’t catch or hook our attention. This may be because the hooks aren’t strong enough to make a reader want to invest their time in the book. Yep, reading is an investment, so write something that makes people want to invest their time in your book. Undoubtedly, hooks will force your reader to press forward with your story. Hook them so they will not leave your book behind—but will relish in every page—chapter after gripping chapter.