Monday, September 30, 2013

This is it...I'm Getting Married this week!!

I'm Getting Married!!!

Hello Mrs. Hancock!!!
This coming Saturday I'm going to be getting married!!! I'm so excited! We are leaving on Wed to go up to Chicago and then flying to Las Vegas Thursday morning!! I can't even put into words how excited for this trip we are!! If you want to see and hear stuff about my travels and wedding follow me on twitter! I plan to
Our wedding bands
try to tweet some of the cool stuff I see!!

No worries though! Next week I will post (at some point!) a few pictures from our trip!

This will be my first time going to Vegas so I'm stoked! I'm sure my neck will hurt from looking around so much! It's been so rainy here in Kentucky lately so some desert sun will be refreshing!!

I'm so excited that it's hard to keep myself from packing already! It's really bringing out the girly side of me. I got my nails done with my mom (super fun!!!) so now I feel like a movie star. I also want to try on each outfit I plan to bring to make sure it's fabulous! Not that I bought new clothes but I plan to pack some of my going-out clothes and my one pair of heels (I'm 5'11" so that should be interesting!).

I didn't leave this little blog hanging though! Author Susan Sloate will be sharing a guest post as well as an interview! I also have a review ready to go on her book Stealing Fire! She has been a pleasure to work with so I'm sure you will enjoy everything!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Art of Translation: Guest post by Cecilee Linke!

The Art of Translation

by Cecilee Linke

There I was standing in a tiny bookstore on a sunny and breezy March afternoon in the city of Tours, France. I only had a few weeks left before I would be returning home to the United States after a three-month stay and I was on the hunt for some easy-to-read French-language literature.

In my search, a book title caught my eye. Just one word: Dominique. Underneath was a name that I had not heard before. Eugène Fromentin. I picked the book off the shelf and began reading the first page. I must have stood there reading the rest of the chapter for about five minutes before I became so engrossed in the story that I needed to have this book. For only five euros, why not?

The more I read in this story, the more I wanted to know about this book. First I asked my French host family if they had ever heard of this novel. The answer was no. Then a Google search gave me some results on Eugène Fromentin as a painter, but not much about him as a writer. Then I found out that Dominique had only ever been translated once into English and that translation was done in the 1940s by a Sir Edward Marsh.

So I had unknowingly stumbled into a piece of obscure French literature. It made me sad indeed because despite its literary flaws such as the unreliable narrator and his very strange state of mind, the writing was absolutely beautiful and unless this book were brought to the attention of more people, Dominique would forever be an obscure relic of 19th-century literature. So once I finished the story almost a year later, I set myself a huge task: translating this 1862 novel into English. 

I am by no means a professional translator and what I do know is from trial and error. The experience of translating Dominique was eye-opening. Not only did this endeavor help to deepen my knowledge of the French language, but also I felt extremely accomplished with every chapter that I completed. Before I decided to translate this novel, I had only ever translated short stories or French-language pop songs for my friends. Translating an 80,000+ word novel is a different beast indeed! It took me two years of work to take Fromentin’s words and writing style and convey them in a cohesive way in English.

Looking back on those two years that I spent translating this novel, I can tell you now that translating a written work into another language is not as easy as you might think it is. It is not as simple as putting text into Google Translate and watching the result pop up two seconds later. Language is a human development full of nuances that machines can and will never get completely right. There really is an art to it. You are putting another person’s words into your mouth so that someone who does not speak the original language of that work can understand the story. In the end, it becomes a rewarding experience because you have introduced a reader to a previously unknown work that would have otherwise remained obscure due to language barriers. 

However, it takes some practice to really get it right, like any other writing. I cannot tell you how many drafts I completed while translating this book. Fromentin used such rich vocabulary that it took me a half hour to come up with a clear and concise way of saying a short paragraph in English. I could understand exactly what Fromentin was trying to say in the original French, but putting it in a comprehensible way in English took some time. I had to read the passage aloud to hear how it sounded and I constantly asked my husband whether a sentence I had translated sounded good to him. It really helps having someone else who can read your work and edit it, just like you would with your own writing.

In the end, I believe that the hardest part of translating is trying to convey the tone of the original work in a way that will make sense to the reader in a new language. French sentence structure like the kind that I encountered inDominique can come across as extremely formal when translated word for word into English. When reading some of Sir Edward Marsh’s 1940s English translation of Dominique, I was put off by the stiff way that he had translated the story. It was obvious that he was sticking very close to the formality of the original text. So not much of his writing sounded very good to my modern ears. 

When translating this work, I wanted the language to be formal but also easier to read for modern readers. I wanted the reader to get a sense of the formality of the time but in a way that they could more easily comprehend. I wanted to use fewer big words that most people would not know and I also broke up the three-page-long paragraphs that littered the original French text.

Something else to keep in mind when translating a work is to not put too much of your own style into the writing. That can be a tricky balance. This is why it helps to have someone else read your work so they can tell you if you are making the work too much like something you yourself could have written. The most prominent example of this is the works of Jules Verne, the father of science fiction. The works of Jules Verne were so poorly translated into English by people who put their own political bents into his work or even excised whole passages that the translators did not like, that he is only now receiving the acclaim in the English-speaking world that he should have had during his lifetime.

Some people say that translations are only a shadow of the original work. In fact, there is a famous Italian proverb Traduttore, traditore. Translator, traitor. I do not agree. It all depends on who is translating. If it is someone who is doing their job, which is to properly convey a story in a new language while keeping the original style and making it easy to read for others, then I think that a translation can sit alongside the original just as well. It is a form of literature like anything else.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Interview with author Cecilee Linke!!!

I love doing interview with authors because learning more about their process and how they got started inspires me! Yesterday I reviewed Cecilee's book and tomorrow you can look for her guest post!! 

What inspired you to begin writing? 

I have always been a writer. Even when I was a child, I always had characters in my head that I wanted to write a story about. So when I wasn’t ready, I was always typing away on my computer. As long as my new computers had Ami Pro installed, I was a happy camper! However, I kept going with writing because of my third grade teacher who told me that I should be a writer. So that is why I continue to write!

As for what inspired me to begin writing this story, it was playing these characters in a game called The Sims 3. If you have never played that game before, I want you to imagine a virtual dollhouse. You make up families, populate a virtual town, and sit back and watch what happens. 

I had made up a random family consisting of Shannon (née Tyler), her sisters, and her father, Christian Tyler. I decided to focus on Shannon because she was turning into the more interesting character of all her sisters. When Shannon became a young adult, she traveled to France in my game using one of the game’s many expansion packs. She met a local named Francis, they fell in love, and I brought him back to my town. They married and had Elodie and Heloise! 

As Elodie and Heloise grew up in my game, I began making up a stories for them and playing them out in the game. After telling my husband all about my stories, he suggested that I novelize them. About 95% of what happens in this story happened in my game. The other 5% was condensing story lines or tweaking things.

(I've played the Sims 3 myself, way more than I should! I go through phases where I can't stop playing and then I don't even think about playing. That's to cool she wrote a book from her characters!) 

Which one of your characters do you feel is most like yourself?

In Elodie and Heloise, the character of Heloise was more like who I was in high school. Very introverted. Smart. Few close friends. Very insecure. Speaks French. :-) Other than having musical abilities, I am not at all like Elodie. Elodie was the distillation of every popular girl I knew in school and I was nowhere near that crowd!

Your characters are so talented! They speak French, cook, and play guitar. Are these all things  you knew how to do already or did you have to research them?

These are things that I already knew how to do, so not much research required! I did need to look up how to make ossobucco, since I only know about it by name and have never made it. But all the other dishes that Heloise and her dad make in the story, like ratatouille, blanquette de veau, and croque monsieur, I already knew how to make all of those. I knew some basic cooking before I began living on my own, but most of what I know of cooking, especially French cooking, is all from watching TV shows and reading books. 

And oui, je parle français! I began taking French classes when I was fourteen and have been learning it ever since. I am obsessed with pretty much anything French! And while I’m not a native French speaker, I can get by very well in an all French environment. :-)

And for playing guitar, I have always been very musical as well as a member of the school band and school choir. I did play guitar for a few years before I decided I preferred playing piano. When I want to get away from the computer for a while, I like to go upstairs and play some music to unwind for a while. Just like Elodie does. :-)

Do you have any plans for another book?

Oh yes! In fact, I am in the final stages of editing the first book in a historical fiction trilogy set in Wash Woods, Virginia, a little-known ghost town located in a remote area of False Cape State Park here in the Hampton Roads area. I plan to release that later this year as soon as I have outlined most of the second book.

I am also going to publish in one volume an English translation of a 19th century French novel. The novel had only been translated into English once and it frankly wasn’t very good. So I took it upon myself to translate this novel into English for a more modern translation. The book is called Dominique by the French painter Eugène Fromentin. That will be released later this year as well! :D

What was the hardest part of the publishing process? 

I think honestly it was all the formatting that I had to do on my book before putting it up on Amazon Kindle! The writing part was easy! But the formatting took some work. All the italicizing of the French passages and other little words like that. Fortunately, my husband helped me with that. 

Why did you decided to become an indie author?

I decided to go indie so that I could keep all the money for my sales and all my rights instead of having it go through a publisher before it trickles down to me. It is easier than ever to publish your own work and I wanted to be a part of that! :D

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review of Elodie and Heloise by Cecilee Linke

Today I'd like to review and talk about the book Elodie and Heloise by Cecilee Linke. 

First, here's a description of the book: 

Elodie is the Queen Bee of her high school and is the girl everyone wants to be.

Heloise is the quiet girl in the corner with few friends and a busy class schedule.

The only things that Elodie and Heloise have in common is their French heritage and identical looks. They were friends as children, but they haven’t spoken to each other civilly in years.

One thing they do have in common: neither of them is truly happy with their lives.

Elodie has a secret that she can’t share with anyone else except her mother.

Though Heloise is most happy when she’s making ratatouille and blanquette de veau with her French father, she has wanted a job in physics since she was a child.

Only when tragedy strikes are the two girls brought closer together. By then, it’s too almost too late.

So, with that said, here's my review of the book. ( I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

This book transported me back to high school. Although I couldn't identify fully with either of the sisters, as I as a mix of both of them in high school, I could still appreciate both characters. The tension between the two is obvious and the author goes back and forth between the two as far as narration goes. Each sister has their own passion and love interests and these slowly develop as the book progresses. 

This book focus a lot on details. Much time was given describing what the characters were doing. Although this amount of detail isn't my style, I was still able to enjoy the story. I did find myself skimming over some detailed parts (one of the sisters loves to cook and her recipes are given) the story progressed fairly nicely. 

Overall I feel this book would be great for teen girls who are in high school as it deals with issues that relate mostly to them. As someone who's been out of high school for ten years though I was still able to enjoy this book. 

To read more about the book and author you can visit here

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sensory writing

As I've mentioned before in posts, I don't tend to write sensory scenes very well. Dialog is my strong suite and I've been trying to think of ways to help me be descriptive and use sensory. 

From Ch. 1

That's when I had an idea- I could draw the scenes I was having a hard time describing! I have a set of colored pencils so I began working!

I tried to focus on what colors I was using and what was going through my head while I was drawing and coloring my scene into existence. 

From Ch.3, the world Baske
those dots on the blue are flowers

I knew what these places looked like in my mind. They are vivid and full of life. All I have to do is find a way to translate it onto paper. 

Now obviously I'm not the best artist, but I enjoyed doing this project. I think I will continue to utilize drawing scenes to help me capture the images in my head and put them to paper. 

Have you ever tried anything like this to help with your writing? 

What descriptive words would you use to describe these to settings? 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dealing with Stress

Even though I'm not working this semester and just going to school (full time!) I seemed to be as stressed as ever! My mind is always thinking of what I need to be doing, what I want to be doing and what I should be doing. 
Laundry, homework, blog post, book review, wedding planning, looking up Oregon where we want to move too, bills, etc.

Everyone has things that stress them. This isn't new. I've always tried to be creative with how I deal with my stress, and while I probably could use some "happy" pill to help me stay calm, there are things I can do in the meantime. 

  • List making I find helpful. Having everything I want done listed out in clear view  helps me stay focused. I don't list them in any particular order myself.
  • Limiting how much I do a day. I don't have to get everything done. For my homework I list the due date, but otherwise everything is free game. When I've accomplished a few things on the list, I pat myself on the back and take some time to relax. 
  • Going for a walk or journaling helps me get my thoughts out and lowers my anxiety. 

What are some things you do to help relieve your stress? 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Keeping the Writing Train going!

Update on my rewrite

I now have two chapters finished!! I'm so proud and happy! Things are coming along. For a few days I didn't write at all, and it made me nervous that I might end up not working on this project anymore, like I've done in the past.

Not the case!! I was able to find some time to sit down and really work on things. I made an outline, added some things to chapter one and finished writing chapter two. Hopefully I will be able to begin on chapter three later today.

It's hard for me  not to compare my own writing to the books I'm reading. It makes me question my tone, and if I have too much dialog. I tend to write how I like to read. When I read I mainly just skim through the descriptions and thoughts of the character and search for "the good part" which is usually dialog. This isn't true for every book, but I would venture to say most I read this way.

My writing reflects this. Little details are not given, just basic ones, I let the reader fill in the rest with their imagination. The main focus is the dialog and what the protagonist will do next.

I already have a few people who have volunteered to read my story, chapter by chapter. My goal is to send out the next chapter at least once a week. I'm looking for feedback and ways to improve the story. If you'd like to read it feel free to email me at joydfanning at gmail dot com.

It starts off dark and is fast paced. I would classify it as a new adult science fiction/or fantasy. I also think it's a lot gritter than my first attempt of writing a novel.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Inspirational Person of the Week: Jawaad Saleem

Since I began joining communities on google+ I've gotten to know several other bloggers and aspiring authors like myself. Jawaad falls into both categories and he let me read what he was currently working on. You can read it as well on his blog-A Blog Without Answers. 

I loved the way he writes! It's very different from my own writing. His writing is deep and mental, and puts  you inside the mind of the character really well. My own, while still a work in progress, is mainly dialog. When I'm ready to start having people read my work Jawaad is first on my list!

He agreed to answer some questions for me to post. I liked the idea of learning from someone else who has the same goals as myself. 

1. How long have you been into writing? Has it always been apart of your life?

I began writing in the summer of 2009. That year was a great turning point in my life, a lot of things were changing and I had to let go of a lot of things, including friends, family and a relationship I had just gotten into! I took writing as a form of stress release, every time I wrote, it was a way of hiding everything I could not bear to think about in those pages I never really looked back on. Writing hadn't always been a part of my life but ever since I acknowledged writing, I’ve never left it. 

2. What inspired you to write the novel you're working on now? 

Well when I began blogging, I wrote an article called Going Home and when I finished writing it I had no clue what I was thinking during writing it. I felt curious in what that person had been through whom I wrote about in that article. It all started from there, I began taking aspects of my life and dreams that I once had of travelling a journey filled with progress, letting go and beginning anew. I guess my article ‘Going Home’ was my inspiration to write my novel.

3. What do you plan to do with your novel once it is complete? What made you decided this?

Honestly, that depends on how many people like the story. Because I publish chapter by chapter on my blog, I’m hoping that at the end of it all I’ll have enough of a following to publish my novel as an e-book. I can certainly tell you, the story that I have envisioned is not just a one book novel. The reason why I don’t want to just stop at writing the novel and publishing it just on my blog is because I believe in thinking really big. If I don’t get anywhere near what I had dreamt of, at least I would have tried. 

4. What would you want to say to others who are aspiring to be authors? 

 Anyone can write but authors who consistently write always have a reason behind it. A dream probably, a way to get closure on your thoughts, or even an experience that you want everyone to acknowledge. Whatever that reason is, hold on to it and no matter what happens don’t let anything or anyone put you down. Don’t stop writing! Trust me, you’re most probably a better writer than I am. I know for a fact Joy can write better dialogue than I could have ever dreamed of.

5. What's one thing you've learned about yourself since you began writing?

One thing I've learnt about myself is that I cannot leave a chapter half-finished and write again the next day. I have to be in that state of mind to finish off the chapter and I never really know what I’m going to write about until I sit down and write, it’s never planned. If by accident I do leave a chapter half way done, I’d have to re-write the whole chapter and it turns out to be completely different to what it was before.
Thanks for the interview! You’re awesome.

I love being able to connect with other aspiring authors. Writing a book let alone trying to publish it is hard work! Having someone along the way who is going through the same ups and downs makes all the difference.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Short Story Review: Reality is a Dream by Lisa Williamson

Reality is a Dream by Lisa Williamson

A few weeks ago I began seeking authors to review. I had several use the form here on this blog (look at the tab Request Review) and some come to me directly about their work, Lisa was one of those. She gave me three short stories to read, telling me to watch out because they were some of her odder stories. I wasn't sure what she meant at the time but now I do!

I loved all three of her stories. Yes, they are kind of odd but in a good way! I like how creative and imaginative they are! I decided to do a little review of Reality is a Dream simply because it was the longest of the three.
Another Short story

Here's a bit about the story: (in my words)

Aislinn was a lonely computer wiz who began working for one of the richest men in the world. He wanted to learn how to go into the dream world, and would stop at nothing to achieve this goal. Lander, the rich man, was able to track down Janus, a man who could travel between reality and the dream world. When Janus disappears before everyone's eyes, Aislinn is tasked to find him. Can Aislinn find Janus and save him from Lander?

My Review:

I liked this story a lot. I feel short stories are hard to write because you really have to limit what information you give the reader. You don't have the time or space to go into details why two characters are drawn to each other, you simply just have to state it and hope the reader goes along with it.
I feel Lisa did a great job at this. She was able to establish her characters in a limited amount of space. I was still able to feel for Aislinn even though I just began reading about her.

Although this story is odd, it is so creative and imaginative that I feel more drawn into it than turned off. As a science fiction fan I love the unknown, odd things. My own novel has this feel as well.

I would recommend Lisa's short stories. You can buy them very cheap and get a break from ordinary works!

Lisa has a blog as well, which can be found here.

Here is the link to her Kobo author page with all the stories she has for sale. I also read A Trap of Eyes and All That There Was.

Do you enjoy writing short stories? I do and I like the challenge of writing them as well.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Liebster Award!!

Marit over at Happy small things blog has nominated me for the Liebster Award!

I believe this award is meant to help new or smaller blogs to be noticed! I did a quick google search on the award and found this blog post that told of its origins. If anything, its fun and I'm all about fun!

Here are the rules:
1. Each nominee should answer the 11 questions by the tagger.
2. Choose five bloggers with under 200 followers to pass this award to and link them in your post.
3. Create 11 new questions for your chosen bloggers.
4. Go to their page and tell them about the nomination.
5. No tag backs.

So here are the questions Marit asked me to answer!

1. What was the main motivation for you to start blogging? 

The main motivation for me was because I wanted to be an author, and read somewhere that literary agents and editors tend to take on potential authors who already have an online presence. So I began blogging and started a twitter account! That was four years ago!

2. What blog post are you especially proud of?

This is a hard one! Usually it's the post I had just written! So far though, I'm really proud of my first author interview. I was nervous to do it, but it turned out great and she inspired me to keep writing. 

3. What blog post are you now almost a little embarrassed having posted? 

This is easy! I'm not going to give any links to them either! lol When I first started blogging I was married to my first husband. It wasn't a healthy relationship for me and sometimes I see in my "you might like this" link after a post to other posts of mine, one about my third wedding anniversary with that husband. It has a picture and I hate looking at it! I've half a mind to delete that photo from that post, but it's apart of my history so I haven't. Also, my views on a lot of things have changed since I've began blogging, mainly religious views, so having posts from the beginning that reflect how I used to think are a little embarrassing for me now.

4. What do you serve the first time you invite your date for dinner at your place? 

I've gone a quite a few dates in my time. When I was dating that first husband I mentioned I made lasagna and it turned out to taste fine, but I did the layers all wrong so it looked horrible! I've since stuck to my strengths! For my fiance now (less than a month till he's my husband!) I believe I made chicken parasman or stuffed chicken. I have a horrible memory but I believe it was one of those and it turned out great!

5. Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate hands down. 

6. Do you remember what was the first book you bought for your own money? And why did you choose that book?

No I don't remember. As I said before my memory is a piece of crap! I do remember asking for the Laura Ingalls Wilder books for Christmas one year. My mema got them for me. The fact that my mema got them for me made them all the more special as she died several years later. I loved those books! I made special care to take care of them and I still have them on my shelf. I thought Laura was amazing because she could spell well (a trait I do no possess) and would stand up for herself. Sometimes I would imagine her time traveling to my time and I would explain to her in my mind (it was like she was my imaginary friend) about how a tv works and such since she didn't have those things when she lived. 

7.What's your favorite holiday?

Christmas has always been one of my favorites, probably followed by Thanksgiving. I love all the lights, the merry feeling and cold air during Christmas. Plus all the music and cheesy tv shows/movies. Being around family is a plus for both of those holidays. I like Thanksgiving because it's in the fall, my favorite season. I love all the colors and smells. Plus I love turkey and hate ham so the odds of getting to eat turkey are in my favor on that holiday.

8. Describe how a blog post is usually written by you (I want to know the whole process).

It starts as an idea about one to two days before I make the post. It's usually triggered by something I'm reading or saw. I play around with the idea in my mind, and write it out in my head to see if it sounds good or not. If I feel it does, I end up writing it up in a post. They never turn out as well as they do in my head when I write them, but whatever. While writing I look up everything I want to link in that post, as well as find a picture to use (If I want a picture). 

9. Your favorite color? 

Red! My favorite color changes over the years. I know when I was really young it was pink and purple. As a teen I hated pink and purple and was obsessed with yellow. I even had some yellow shoes! It changed to red a few years ago.

10. What beauty product can't you live without?

My Burts Bees chapstick. If it runs our or I loose it I have to buy more that instant. I'm addicted to it. I refuse to use any other chapstick. One time I was at a gas station and this guy was looking at chapsticks and asked me which one was best. I was so torn because none of them were, in my opinion because my Burts wasn't an option. I sadly told him Carmax. 

11. Describe yourself with 3 words. 

Happy, loving and silly.

Here's my 11 questions!
1. What was the book that got you into reading? Or, if your not a reader, what book turned you off to reading?
2. What was it that made you decide to start a blog of your own?
3. What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting a blog?
4. What is a project you started but didn't end up finishing? Why?
5. Have you changed a lot since high school?
6. If you were to get a tattoo, what would it be of?
7. What do you do if you have no ideas for a post on your blog?
8. What's your favorite animal?
9. Do you like socks?
10. What is one place you'd love to travel to?
11. Which one of these questions was your favorite question? 

Here are my nominees!
Emily at EmilyJanesWorld
Linda at Linda says...

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Characters Heritage


We all come from somewhere, and no, I don't just mean our parents. Lately I've been thinking about not only my own ancestry, but that of my countries and also my characters.

One of the classes I'm taking this semester is American Ethnic and Minority Literature. With the main focus being on African American and Native American literature. I just got done reading about 100 pages of a Native American explaining how he was treated in the 1800's. Needless to say it is shameful and quite sad how he was treated, and those before him.
I realized, even though I have just a tiny bit of Cherokee in me, it's part of my past. This person I was reading about was from another tribe even, but it still had an effect on me. It made me wonder how my great great great grandmother who was a full blood Cherokee was treated. Did she have to walk the Trail of Tears? Did the people in her community shun her for marrying a white man?

map of the trail of tears
taken from wikipedia 
This brought me to thinking about my characters. How much should their background influence them? As an American I know I'm a "mutt," that I have multiple nationalities in my bloodline and probably more I don't even know about. I would venture to say that most American's come from multiple backgrounds, it's one of the most proud things about our country- the melting pot of the world. But lets go back to characters, when writing them, I feel you should have an idea of where they come from.

For example, as I mentioned, I have Native American in me. I have dark brown hair and darker skin than my mother, who comes from a all European background. It's small details like this that help bring a character to life. I'm still working on developing my own characters, but I want to make sure I know where they come from so that can be shown in who they are.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writing and music

Do you listen to music while writing? 

I have always been a huge music fan. My tastes have changed and morphed over the years but one thing remains the same- I play music while I'm writing. I have it playing softly while writing because although I may not be activity listening when hashing away at the keyboard, I know if I become blocked the music steps in and keeps me calm. I can just dive into the words, sing along, dance a little and be refreshed. Music is inspiring in and of itself so it's not long before I'm back to my writing.

Recently I have been listening to the Bastille radio on Spotify. I love this type of music and get so energized by it! Here's a sample!

What about you? Do you find music helpful when writing or distracting? Also, and this is more for myself, what do you think the message of this song is?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review: Render Novel Publicity Whirlwind Blog Tour

Yay for my first experience with a blog tour. I'm signed up for several more so if they are all like this I will be really happy!

So, first lets start with what this book is about! Here's a excerpt from the book.

I spin around and pull her to me, sighing as her arms lock around my neck. I lower my face to her hair, turning it into the curve of her neck to breathe her in.
Her body molds to mine, lithe and boneless, and my arms swallow her as I tighten my hold. It softens all the hard points, the tension I’d been holding onto, smoothing the muscles in my shoulders and back.
“You have great problem-solving skills, by the way,” I tell her softly in her ear.
Keeping her arms around me, she leans back against the wall to look at me, a baffled expression on her face, whether in relation to the compliment or the unexpected direction in conversation, I don’t know.
“Do I?” Her voice lifts in a flirtatious pitch.
“Mmm. It’s why I asked you out,” I tease. “You solved most of my problems just by agreeing.” Looking back, I realize just how true this is, though I doubt she’ll take me seriously.
Her lips curl in an obliging smile, and her eyes say it all, disbelieving in their beauty, corroborating what I already knew. But she’s still smiling, and I alone am responsible for that.
She curls her hand around the side of my neck, and I feel her thumb glide over the scar behind my earlobe, one I incurred at fourteen, when Lukas slammed my head into the bathroom mirror. Then I broke his collarbone. Both of us ended up in the emergency room that morning, an incident that resulted in our father leaving for work a half hour later. It’s always quieter when our father is home.
“How are you doing?” she asks, looking up to search my eyes.
I slide my hands from the small of her back to her waist, as my gaze sweeps from shoulder to shoulder. I can already feel the ground of normalcy beneath me, her presence holding the pieces of my life together, when it seems everything can come apart at any moment. “Good now that you’re here.”
This seems to make her both happy and sad. A look of gloom passes over her face even as a small smile touches her lips. Then her eyes trail down the front of my body, taking in my suit jacket and pants. “You look like a lawyer,” she comments. “Straight from the courtroom.”
I can’t remember a time when she’s ever seen me in a suit. The closest is the tux I wore to her senior prom two months ago, which is not much different than what I wear now.
“It suits you.”
I raise my eyebrows in doubt. “What? Looking like a lawyer?”
“Not just a lawyer. You look…professional.” Then, with a full smile, she adds, “I like it.”
“Ah,” I say, mirroring her smile as I grasp her meaning. “I like that you’re my biggest fan.”
Her teeth shine bright against her tan skin. She drops her arms to her sides, and I lace my fingers through hers. She smells of honeysuckle, vanilla, and lavender all at once, with soft underlying notes I can’t name, a scent that swirls inside me, tantalizing every cell in my body.
I lean forward, canting my head slightly to fit my lips to hers. I have to fight to keep the rhythm slow, to savor every second. But when her mouth opens, urgency builds within me, and I press farther. Too soon, though, she’s pulling away, leaving my blood pumping in a hot stream and my heart pounding against my chest. I place a hand on the wall behind her and lean forward, closing the narrow space she’s put between us.
“I wasn’t finished,” I say.
I’m already tilting my head to kiss her again when she stops me with one word. “Wait.”
“Wait?” I mutter against her lips.
I feel her palms on my chest, easing me back. It’s hard to concentrate on anything but touching her, but I slowly resign myself to the conversation that is apparently inevitable, when my only instinct is to kiss her. I straighten and meet her eyes, which does nothing to tame my thoughts.
“I got your note,” she says.
When I started mowing Mrs. Whitney’s lawn, Elizabeth gave me a key, so I could let myself in when they weren’t home. In the beginning, I would leave Raya notes on her dresser, not knowing at the time that she’d actually keep them. When she showed me every note I’d ever written her, my first instinct was to laugh, because it seemed senseless. But then I saw how impressed she was and felt empowered that I could make her so happy. She probably has a shoebox full of notes by now.
I back her against the wall until we’re touching from hips to shoulders. Her eyes, as warm and green as summer leaves, meet mine. She’s looking at me as if I did something amazing, but just in case, I ask, “Is that all?  Or is there something else you want to add, because I’d really like to kiss you right now?”
Her eyes dip momentarily to my mouth. “I was going to thank you for the note, but you distracted me.”
“You don’t need words for that.”

My Review:

*Was given a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review*
So with the above except you can get a feel for the story. You can also go here to get all sorts of information about the book! 
I wasn't really sure what this book was about when I began reading it. In the beginning this book was a little hard for me to get into, I'm not exactly sure why, but I think maybe just the style it was written in took me some time to get used too. 
This book reminded me of like a jr James Bond story. Granted, there were no spies, or martini's, but exotic places, a love interest-those were present. The main character, Koldan is thrown into a world he didn't know he was apart of. Conspiracy, deception and his life as well as those he loves all hang on him accepting what was decided for him at his birth. 
I liked how each character knew different bits of information as they tried to piece together why these Russian soldiers were after them. When they finally meet up (after several mishaps)  you want to yell, "Finally!" 
This book has a love story, which ends up having a few wrenches thrown in for good measure, but the lovebirds are able to fight the odds. I wasn't able to feel for them as I would have wanted too. This for me was because Raya, the female lead, although claims to love Koldan she spends a lot of time with his brother and it makes me feel like maybe there is a triangle going on. 
On thing's for certain, you won't be able to predict what is going to happen in this book. I love this because as comforting as predictable stories are, it's nice to not be able to figure it out. Keeps you on your toes! 
Currently this book is only 99 cents on amazon! So I feel it's worth giving it a look! 
Since this is part of a blog tour, it means there are a lot of contest and giveaways! Did you know you could win a gift card just for commenting on this post!?! Freaking cool right? So if you like free money I'd leave a comment, couldn't hurt. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Inspirational Person of the Week

I've decided to start a new series on my blog about people who inspire me.

Yesterday my aunt Sally messaged me on facebook telling me how my writing and pursuing my dreams gave her to courage to write a short story for a contest one of her favorite authors was hosting. She has also mentioned to before that she hopes to start her own blog. It's an awesome feeling when you know you've helped inspire someone and give them the courage to do something. Sometimes I feel we don't realize how much influence our actions have on others.

From left to right:aunt Sally, Mary (my mom!) and my aunt Susan
All of whom were very supportive of my writing
My aunt has inspired me as well! When I first began writing, having no idea what I was doing, she faithful read each new chapter I wrote. At that time in my life I was so depressed and down and fearful to tell others what was happening to me ( I was in the beginning stages of my divorce) that to have my family support me in my efforts meant the world to me.  Not everyone around me was supportive of my writing but there were some that were, my aunt being included.

I was so grateful she shared her story with me I wanted to share it with you! This is her story in her own words.

On a brisk, chilly January morning in 2011, I received an email from the public school nurse, Dana Bartkoski, asking for extra prayers that particular day. Before getting ready to teach my second graders, I quickly jotted down a message that said, “May God be your hands, feet, and eyes today for His glory.” Little did I know three hours later, God would use Dana’s hands to help save my life.

It was an ordinary cold winter day in the small rural town of Wheaton, Mo.  I had sent my students down to the cafeteria for lunch and picked up my tray as well. I joined my colleagues in my classroom for lunch as we had been accustomed to for several years. Before taking a bite of meatloaf, the room started spinning out of control. I collapsed to the floor. My three colleagues immediately sprang into action with not a spoken word. Dana entered my classroom and immediately started CPR and silently prayed God would spare my life. The other nurse (Karen) had been located and she ran to the school gym to get the AED. Together, they brought me back to life. My doctor later told me I died and if one thing had went one mili-second different I wouldn’t have made it. Nurse Dana came to my rescue and knew how to administer CPR and use an AED. I’m forever grateful. Now I am certified in CPR/AED. To God Be the Glory!

I know my family is forever grateful to the nurses that day who saved my aunt's life. I think it's wonderful she is sharing her story because it is so moving and inspiring. Love you aunt Sally!! 

( This link is the author my aunt submitted her story too. I love how on the page the author claims she is a hug expert. I love hugs!!!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let the Rewrites Begin!!

So I've mentioned on here and several places that I'm beginning to do the rewrite of the novel I wrote four years ago. This is something I've wanted to do for about two years now, but haven't either had the motivation or the time. 

Now I do!

Working with and reading indie authors now has given me more hope about becoming an author. I still don't know which path I will choose first- traditional or just going straight to being an indie author, but the outcome is the same-I will be published.

Today I wrote 1,500 words. About five pages in MS Word. I think that is a fair start! 

I set a timer on my phone for an hour. I only left my Word document up on my screen, so I wouldn't be distracted. I also turned my phone on silent. 

It was just me, my idea, computer and a notebook. 

My goal is to do this everyday and write at least 1,000 words. If I do this the first draft should be done in a few months. 

I love the main idea of the novel I wrote four years ago. I've accepted that it's fine to rewrite it, and continue to use this story. I don't know why before I felt like I needed to only write new stories, because that was how you got better. Now I know different. I'm totally fine reusing my original idea and shaping it into what I see now. 

(Also, you should check out the post below this one. It's a video of the book I'm currently reading. It's all apart of the blog tour I'm doing this week. I also made a tab for the giveaway!)

Render by Stephanie Fleshman Book Trailer

Friday, September 6, 2013

Potty Mouth

Do you have a potty mouth?

As I come up with more ideas for revamping my novel, I've come to a crossroads about if I should add cursing to my characters vocabulary.

I haven't always had a potty mouth myself. My parents rarely cussed when I was growing up. I can still remember feeling devious with a friend in third grade because we finally knew all the cuss words. We would say them quietly in the lunch line and laugh at how bad we were!

Does this belong in your mouth?
For me cursing didn't become apart of my vocabulary until I had the most stressful job possible...except maybe the job of being president. I managed to stay for a year there, left due to a concussion. I worked with teen girls who were wards of the state and had been abused in every way possible. Very sad stuff. As you can imagine, they had issues. Besides breaking up fights and getting hurt myself, I had to keep these girls on task and calm, if possible.

Sometimes I would become so stressed I would just have to go in a closet and say the f-word over and over to help release my tension. All the stuff cussed as well as the clients. Cussing became a way of expressing the wide range of emotions that job caused us to have.

The cussing stuck with me even when I left the job. I can turn it "off" when I need to, but I like being able to express myself fully.

When I read other novels I find a wide array of characters who cuss and books with none at all. So I guess that leaves me with, what kind of book do I want my story to be? One that's gritty and "real," or one that keeps everything PG?

Do you have a potty mouth? Do you think it helps express yourself? How does reading a book with characters who curse make you feel?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Wild Wild West or the New Frontier? I say Both!!!

I can still remember when Facebook was the new thing. I was in college, and it was all the rave. Everyone joined it and used it. Goodbye myspace there's a new guy in town!!

It's been about ten years now ( I know right?) since facebook came around. Been a movie about it and now grandparents are on it. I would even go as far to say that sometimes you don't feel like something is "official" in a relationship till it's been confirmed on facebook. (This is a sad, but yet true topic but we will save it for another day.)

Don't get me wrong, I made a facebook page for my blog yesterday. Please check it out! The link is on the left. I mainly just use facebook though to talk to family and friends and be nosey.

Then came Twitter. This social media format has only been around for about seven years! It took facebook to another level. It made it acceptable to tell anyone who would be willing to read it- what you're doing. I have a Twitter account as well. Once I got over 100 followers (I'm only at 132 as of now) I began tweeting more. Honestly though, I never quite know what to tweet about!

Thus, I now come to the newcomer- Google+. This new way of social media has only been around since January! (Found that on wikipedia)

I feel like google+ is the place to be. It's the "happening" place. Here is how I would describe it:

It's the new frontier of social media..and it's so hot and new anything can happen-just like the wild wild west.  Basically it's one of the best kept secrets out there....except it's not a secret!

I have had a gmail account for goodness knows how long! Several years for sure. I noticed at some point that just by having a gmail account, I had a google profile. Well...if you have gmail you still have a google profile! It's a google+ one. So you very well could be on this awesome social networking site and not even know it! Crazy!!

When you click on your profile (here's mine)  if you go to the right side of your screen, you will see a red box with a white g, scroll over it and a drop menu opens up. Move to the little green circle that says communities and prepare to begin  your travels west.

This is where you will find me, and probably thousands of others who share your interests. There is a community for everything just about. If you don't see what you want- create your own! That's what I did! This isn't something limited to bloggers either. Grandma's can post cat pictures there as well, even start a community where people just posts pictures of cats! It's all there just waiting for you to go explore, make new friends from all over the globe, and be awesome.

New Blog Title!!!

First off, thanks everyone who voted on the new name for my blog!!

As you can see from my new header, Aspiring Joy won!!!

Aspiring Joy tied with Blogging for Joy...but I made an executive decision and went with Aspiring Joy.
I love how positive it is and how it brings up the question, "aspiring to what?" (At least for me because I view the word joy as my name and not what it means.)

I have many aspirations, as do most people I would assume. My main goal for myself is to become a published author. Still not sure what route that will be, but I know I am going to make it happen!!!

I often find myself with ideas for a new book or ways to make my old one better. I get excited, make a post about how my writing mojo is back, and then proceed to play video games and read books and not work on the thing I said I wanted to write.'s happened again. Or, almost. I have been having some amazing ideas to revamp my novel. I put my novel on my Kindle so I could read it on the go. As I'm reading it, I take notes about the changes I want to make. So good! I'm almost halfway done! I really feel excited about these new ideas I have going for the story...I don't want silly o'l Joy to get in the way and stop this wonderful progress!

So..if you see me lurking (that sounds creepy..but you know what I mean) around online, such as facebook or google+, ask me how I am doing with this writing project. Get a straight answer from me and help me stay on track!! I don't want to get excited about writing and then end up doing nothing.  So any help is appreciated!!

Do you have a goal that you need encouragement for? Tell me! I don't mind doing the same for you!!!

Also, my birthday was amazing and I'm so glad I got to spend it with the family I don't get to see very often!