Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I am moving!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I've got some pseudo-exciting news today...my website is relocating! I've been wanting to switch URLs and blog hosts for a little while now, and after a ton of procrastination, I have finally finished it. You can now find me at:

meghanbooks.wordpress.com

Easier to remember and spell than meghanjashinsky.blogspot.com, no? I'm pretty pleased with the setup over there so far--it should be easier to find things, easier to be linked to more of my work, and easier to get into contact with me.

I've got all of my posts from this blog relocated over there, and am currently working on making sure that this page itself redirects to the new site. So if things start to look a little wonky on this page, that is why! I'm working pretty much nonstop behind the scenes to try and make this transition as seamless as possible for you guys.

But yes! I am so excited! Check out the new site! And I'll see you again tomorrow with my next installment in "HOW THE HECK DO I FIX THIS?"! ALL the exclamation points!

Friday, August 14, 2015

HOW THE HECK DO I FIX THIS?: Making a Battle Plan

It's week two of my HOW THE HECK DO I FIX THIS? revision series, and today I'm talking about making a battle plan (i.e. figuring out how you're going to fix all of those problems you just wrote down). You can watch the video here:



In it, I talk about streamlining problems, and give lots of suggestions for ways to fix character, plot, and setting issues. This is the really fun part of revisions, so go crazy! TRY ANYTHING. In this stage, nothing is permanent. Write down a brief summary of your scenes and shuffle them around, take some out, kill that character you hate. See what your book would look like if you made big changes. I can guarantee you'll find something that will stick.

And, here are those links links! Hopefully with these you can learn as much as possible and--if my methods don't seem like a good fit for you--find some new revision ideas that will make your manuscript the best it can be.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

HOW THE HECK DO I FIX THIS?

I am so excited to be doing a four-part vlog series over the next month. It's called HOW THE HECK DO I FIX THIS?, and it'll be all about my revision process. Let me know what you do for revisions (or if you are revising along, let me know how it is going)! The schedule will be:

Sat. August 8th: What Have You Got?
Fri. August 14th: Making a Battle Plan
Thurs. August 20th: Fighting the War
Wed. August 26th: The Clean-Up


You can watch the first video in the installment here:


In it, I cover the first four steps in revising your manuscript: giving yourself some space, compilation of the pretty words, read-through for big picture issues (and nothing else!), and dance party because YOU JUST READ A BOOK THAT YOU WROTE AND YOU ARE GOING TO REVISE THE HELL OUT OF IT UNTIL IT IS A GLORIOUS MASTERPIECE.

And, as promised, I've compiled a TON of links for each installment so that you can hopefully learn as much as possible and--if my methods don't seem like a good fit for you--find some new revision ideas that will make your manuscript the best it can be.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

10k Tuesday

In case you missed it, Erin and I vlogged over on the NaNoWriMo channel:


We talked about writing when you don't want to, and at the end I mentioned that one of the things that really motivates me is telling people my word count goals. And I figured I should practice what I preach, so last week I set a goal. And then I told everyone on the internet and in my life that goal.

And then I spent a day or so wondering why I had done that.

Because I told them I would be doing a 10k Tuesday. I'd seen people talk about it on Twitter, and I had written 10k in a day one other time, so of course I could do it again.

So I sat down on Tuesday, and ran word sprints on the WordNerds twitter account for hours. Most of the time no one was actually there participating so that was a little weird... But it was so fun when there were people writing alongside me! And the writing was awesome too! I was at a point in my story where I could feel myself wanting to procrastinate, because I knew where the next few scenes were going, but beyond that I have no clue.

10k YAY
But pushing through and getting to the point I was afraid of reaching has helped, I think. Of course, I'm not completely sure what is going to happen next, but it seems less terrifying when I'm staring it down. I love all of the scenes I wrote during my 10k Tuesday, and so I know I'm not going to abandon these characters. There's no place to go now but forward!

How is your Camp NaNoWriMo going? I'm still a little behind, but I'm feeling good. :)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Eureka!

I have been in a major writing slump lately.

I think some of it was that querying is hard and occasionally discouraging. I expected a barrage of rejections and then--if I persevered long enough--a victory. I'm sure if it was like that, I still would have been surprised at the sting of rejection...but overall for me querying has been a lot of waiting. A couple of rejections, a couple of requests, and a lot of checking my sent mail to make sure I got the agents' email addresses correct.

I think because of that I have been afraid to take on a new story. Because what if this means no one will want the one I'm currently querying? What if the idea I have right now isn't good for querying in the future and I end up empty handed in a few months? WHAT IF I ACTUALLY SUCK AT WRITING AND SHOULD JUST GET GOOD AT MATH AND BE AN ENGINEER OR SOMETHING?

Ha. Let's be real here: job stability is overrated. Right? Riiiight.

But the slump is over! Hallelujah! I talked a little bit about the character who inspired me to keep moving forward in my WordNerds video this week, and how difficult she was being. But I've embraced her villainy and it is SO FUN to write someone unapologetically evil. And then to have a second POV from her foil... I can't get enough of it. It's hard to tell which character I hate more!

Actually I do know...the bad guy is my favorite. Are you surprised? ;)



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

STORY TIME (on sacrifices)

I don't talk about this too often because it's not glamorous, and doesn't seem to be directly related to books...but MAN have I had a time dealing with people lately, and so please excuse me for the word vomit.

I am moving soon. 2500 miles away. I will be taking a moving truck piled high with all of my belongings, my husband, and my dog. To make it even more adventurous, we will be doing all of that driving over three days.

So here I am about a week ago, living it up at this fancy party full of people much, much more financially stable than me, and I mention to one of my husband's colleagues that we will be making this trip in that amount of time. He laughs politely, and tells me that there is no way we are going to do it that fast. That the fastest he's ever been able to make a cross country trip was five days.

Now if you know me at all, you know that I don't like when people tell me what I can't do. So I make a joke about how we were going to beat his record, and hope he'll drop it there.

Long story short: he doesn't drop it. He tells us that we are missing out on an opportunity. That we should really see the United States as we are driving through it--stop at some landmarks, go camping in the national parks, take our tiiiime and have a fulfilling expeeeerience. I point out that we are very poor and that doing those things might not be practical (because I am oh so adult and will not put on my sassy pants at this fancy party). He says, "Well, it might cost a few hundred extra dollars, but it would be so worth it for the experience. You have to do it."

Cue the mental sassy pants. Because oh, did I want to tell him off. But I didn't. BECAUSE I AM AN ADULT.

Fast forward a couple of hours. Someone else at that same party finds out that we don't have a car, and have never had a car throughout any part of our relationship because we can't afford one. This guy tells a story about how he lived in Australia once for a month or two and it was so freeing to not have a car. He loved walking places and not having to worry about "the old ball and chain." I resisted the urge to tell him exactly how free I felt while I was carrying fifty pounds of groceries on my back to my home two miles away. Again, BECAUSE I AM VERY MATURE AND THE MOST ADULTY ADULT WHO HAS EVER ADULTED.

If you have ever told someone that their life is probably easier because they are too poor for something, or if you've ever pushed someone to do something after they've told you they can't afford it, APOLOGIZE RIGHT NOW. Because if you don't, when I am a ghost I will find out and I will haunt you.

My husband and I have made a lot of sacrifices right now so that we can have the careers that we want in the future. I work part time, so that I can write and hone my craft for the rest of the time. My husband went to a Master's program that didn't give us much financial help so that he could get into a PhD program that would pay for him and help him get the job he's passionate about. I wouldn't take it back for anything, because my writing has gotten so much better during this time, and struggling through all of these things has helped us grow much closer as a couple.

I love the sacrifices I am making because I have faith that they will help me with my writing career. But don't let all of the books in the background of my vlogs fool you.

I am poor right now.

Even so, I am privileged because my parents are well off enough that I know they can help out if I ever really need it. They are the ones who buy books for me because they know I love books and can't buy them often. They are the ones who stepped in and helped when my computer broke and I was sobbing because how was I going to do my from-home animation job without a computer?

I'm privileged because we live in a state that provides great health insurance even when you can't afford it. I'm privileged because I know people who would come to my house in the middle of the night and take me to the hospital if I needed it. I'm privileged because I am educated, and because though I'm poorer than anyone else I know, I can still afford to only work a paying job part time. I'm privileged because I was born into a stable, loving family that taught me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it.

No, it's not fun being this poor, and I'm very much looking forward to a couple of months from now when my husband will start getting a living stipend for working in a PhD program. But I love writing, and I am glad that I am privileged enough to have been able to make these sacrifices.

But SERIOUSLY. Tell me how easy my life is because I can't afford something, and I will open up a can of whoop-sass on you. (ha ha...see what I did there? BECAUSE I AM SASSY. And so punny. ha. ha. ha.)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

DELICATE MONSTERS Review

I was CRAZY excited to receive a NetGalley ARC of DELICATE MONSTERS by Stephanie Kuehn. I adored CHARM & STRANGE, and she has such a great and personable online presence. She also did an interview on First Draft Podcast with Sarah Enni that I adored. Here's the Goodreads synopsis:

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

When I read that for the first time I was all *GRABBY HANDS* and then the cover was released and OMG. SO PRETTY.

It's hard to explain my feelings about this book, because you can't really say you enjoyed it. It went places. Places that most books don't go. 

I love dark stories, with questionable characters. I love reading from the perspective of people who are just antagonists, who know what they are doing is wrong and yet can't stop themselves. Kuehn understands the human mind so well, and because of how twisty/twisted CHARM & STRANGE was, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

I didn't.

This book is easily one of the darkest I have ever read, and I found it so fascinating. I was engrossed. Like with CHARM AND STRANGE, I didn't put the book down until it was finished--and afterward I had to sit there and think about what the eff I just read.

This may not be a good fit for some people. I loved it in an I-see-what-you-did-there-and-it-makes-me-uncomfortable-but-I'm-in-awe-of-your-skill kind of way. It portrays mental illness, sex, and abuse in very graphic terms that are hands-down, undeniably hard to read.

I found it so compelling.

Kuehn has a writing style that I can't get enough of. She can portray dark characters in a way that makes me desperate to see how their stories end. In the case of DELICATE MONSTERS, I never saw that ending coming, but I adored it. It is pretty open-ended, so if that's not your thing, you have been warned. But I love a good open-ended conclusion, so...

READ THIS BOOK. LOVE THIS BOOK. I know I did.

Monday, June 1, 2015

POLARIS AWAKENING Feels

So I didn't get the chance to do a post on the actual release date, because last week was also my birthday and thus a week of craziness...but YOU GUYS. The actual best birthday present ever was getting to see this anthology released into the world.

I woke up on Tuesday and almost forgot what day it was, but once I realized that it was RELEASE DAY, I was a bundle of nerves and What if?'s. But after I told myself, "It doesn't matter what people think of it. You did your best and love the story," about a hundred times, there was just excitement.

But yes! POLARIS AWAKENING is out! And the paperback should be available sometime tonight or tomorrow!

In case you missed it, we announced over on the WordNerds POLARIS AWAKENING party/chat last night that there is a book two, coming out sometime during the late summer or fall of this year. It is called POLARIS RISING, and if you loved book 1, just wait. When asked about what people could look forward to in book two, the only thing us WordNerds could come up with was DESTRUCTION. These characters are going to be put through the ringer, and I think you'll love it.

I feel so privileged to have been able to work with such talented women on such a complex project. I loved every minute of meeting and planning and crafting this into a cohesive world and story, and I hope everyone else will love it too. I can't wait to hear what you think of Fay and Kane and all of their station-mates! I'm especially grateful that I was able to work a little more closely with the Scorpio story by Hannah Davies. Her writing is beautiful and her characters are fascinating and I learned so much from her and them.

So be sure to get your copy of POLARIS AWAKENING today! It is available in ebook format from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo--and I'll be sure to update my links as soon as the paperback is available.

The WordNerds are also doing a giveaway for a paperback copy of the book! You can enter that here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you want to watch the WordNerds talk all about the anthology and what we loved about the writing and the process (and if you want to see things get really weird...though you should expect that from our live chats by now, right?), then you can check it out here:


And if you do read it, pretty please leave a review on its Goodreads page! I will love you forever and maybe photoshop a picture of us together being besties.

Friday, May 8, 2015

How To Vlog Like A WordNerd

Super big post ahead! Wahoo!

The WordNerds got a couple of questions in our last Sunday Special live chat about how to join the WriteTube and BookTube community, and as such, we are going to be hosting a full live chat about building your platform and how to get involved on whatever social media accounts you think would fit you best. But as a little research/prep for that, I kept detailed notes about my last vlog, to share with anyone considering YouTube as a platform!

NOTE: the video I made this week took a little more effort than your typical sit-in-chair-just-talk vlog. I've tried to make notes of where the additional time came into play. But I love making the extra fun videos like this as often as possible, and they tend to do better view-wise than my standard talking videos too, so BONUS.

This is the final product:


The first thing I do for any WordNerds video is script. Sometimes I'll just write out some bullet points, but usually my script is full-on, everything I'm going to say (written in purple below), and actions/settings/how to say those things (written in pink). You can click the images to see them bigger.

                     

Sometimes things change as I'm filming, but in general I stick fairly close to the script. In the case of this vlog, I noticed that my webcam (which is two steps away from giving up the ghost) wasn't catching motion very well and was blurring out my face. So I adjusted the actions so that I wasn't running around quite as much, and kept the camera in as close to one setting as possible, rather than dragging it all over the house, just asking for more damage.

TIME TAKEN FOR SCRIPTING: 37 minutes

Next, I get myself ready. For this vlog that included props and costume (shockingly, I don't normally dress like that), as well as make-up. Prepping props and costume doesn't add a significant amount of time to the typical vlogging process, maybe an extra 5-10 minutes.

TIME TAKEN FOR PERSONAL PREP: 27 minutes

After that, I prep my stage. Most people have a standard background that is always ready (for me it's my bookshelves). You don't need any prep beyond that. But a little bit more can make your videos look a lot more professional, and since Jared and I are both YouTubers, we have those extras. I arrange the lighting so it's even (the lights are just two IKEA lamps with notebook paper taped to them to act as a filter), and I have a separate microphone that I set up (1. Because a separate mic makes your sound WAY WAY better, and doesn't catch your laptop fan roaring beneath you as you talk; and 2. Because my house is very open but doesn't have a lot of furniture or carpet, so it sounds like I'm in a cave without a nicer mic).

In the end, my set looks like this:

Lights on the far left and right, tripod holding my webcam in the middle, and Blue Snowball brand microphone on the left corner of the cluttered desk. Also dog on the left, because SUPPORT.

TIME TAKEN FOR SET PREP: 14 minutes

Then I film! Fairly self explanatory. When I film a more intense video like this one, the recording time takes around 20-30 extra minutes because I do a lot of takes of each part to make sure I end up with exactly what I want.

TIME TAKEN TO FILM: 49 minutes

Editing! My favorite part of the vlogging process! I use Adobe Premiere for editing because I have a LOT more options that way (plus I'm already familiar with it because of my day job), but you can use whatever video editing software comes with your computer and be just fine.

Here I'm cutting out all of the blank space so that it's almost constant talking (silence should only be used intentionally in the vlogging process, in my opinion). Additionally, I add any special effects (like the intro where the image turns purple and the title pops up, or the outro page where I added some bloopers), as well as any background music or text. A more complicated video like this may add around an extra 30-40 minutes.

During the editing process I search for music as well. My favorite place to go is Incompetech, where you can find music that you're allowed to use on YouTube without getting flagged for copyright issues, so long as you attribute the source.

TIME TAKEN TO EDIT: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Rendering the video and uploading it to YouTube take a lot of time, as well, though I don't include those times until the final count because I usually do other stuff while that is happening. But I'm not done the second my video is saved and uploading. The WordNerds have custom thumbnails, and in the description of the video I like to add plenty of links and give viewers a way to find me on social media, as well as the other WordNerds social media accounts.

Final thumbnail for this vlog.

Finally, once the video is uploaded, I add annotations to the outro page, leading viewers to other videos by me, or the most recent Sunday Special live chat. You don't have to do these things, but they really do help to generate more traffic both to your channel (sharp, well-made thumbnail images will draw in a potential new viewer's attention much more than the ones YouTube automatically pulls) and to other videos on your channel if they like what they see.

TIME TAKEN FOR EXTRAS: 17 minutes

TOTAL TIME FROM START TO FINISH: 4 hours, 12 minutes (If you include rendering and upload time [and a 25 minute internet outage], the total time came out to just under 6 hours)

And there you have it! It's a lot of work being a consistent YouTuber, but it's definitely my favorite way to communicate with other writers and readers. It's so fun to know that people are seeing me (albeit a slightly more peppy version of normal, see-me-at-the-grocery-store, me), and that I can see other people who are also passionate about books and writing. For me, YouTube is my #1, the main platform-related thing I work on every week, and everything else (blog, Twitter, Tumblr) is just bonus stuff, an extra way to communicate with readers/writers.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE: It took a long time for me to get in a groove for filming (trust me, my first video was not nearly as put together as my stuff now). It felt awkward being in front of the camera, I didn't have any extra annotations or links, and my editing wasn't good because I had never done it before. It takes a while to really understand what you're doing, and that's okay!

Last side note, there is NO WRONG WAY TO VLOG. This is just how I do it, what works best for me and my schedule, and what makes me most comfortable!

If you want more info on how to manage the actual filming part of vlogging, check out this video by Hank Green. It's the one I watched while learning, and it's still super valuable advice. Also be on the lookout for my video coming up next Saturday over on the WordNerds account, where I'll be talking about what equipment you truly need to vlog, and how you can create things like good lighting without actually having to buy lamps and such.

If you're interested in vlogging, you should DEFINITELY give it a try! And put a link to your opening video in the comments, because I'd love to see it!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kellie Had A Book Release!

Wahoo!!! It's always a good day when one of my friends releases a book. Today I'm so excited to tell you about Kellie Sheridan's brand new release, REFILLING YOUR INKWELL: Getting Motivated, Finding Inspiration, and Conquering Your Writing Rut!

Rut, slump, funk—call it what you will, but when you’re trying to write, there are few things more frustrating. The longer you go without writing, the harder it is to jump back in. Days turn into weeks, and then weeks into months—do we even want to think about the possibility of years? And before you know it, frustration becomes doubt in both your work and yourself, building and building until you find every possible reason not to write.
No matter what stopped you from writing in the first place, giving up on your craft will never be an option. Refilling Your Inkwell offers inspiration, motivation, and tactics alike, all to help pull frustrated writers out of their ruts and get you back to the page.


This is the first official release from Kellie and Erica's new imprint, Weapenry, which will be focusing on the writing and indie publishing world.

I had the chance to beta read REFILLING YOUR INKWELL and oh man, is it amazing. It brought me right out of my own writing rut, and within a week after reading it, I had a plot and all of the characters for a new project. This book is full of inspiration, and provides a wealth of potential ways to get out of your writing rut. There's something for every writer in here--plotter or pantser, full time writer or the partest of part time writers, those who write at home and those who write at the coffee shop...and the list could go on forever. This book is great! Be sure to get yourself a copy ASAP!

You can purchase this book on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sometimes Breaks Are Okay

Oh man, y'all, has it been a year.

After all of the frantic panicking and last-minute revisions that came with Pitch Madness, there was a sudden onslaught of silence as I waited to hear whether or not anyone wanted my book (no major updates there as of yet). I revised my short story for the first Polaris anthology (which I am SO excited about!), but it didn't take up enough time to completely fill the silence.

I love the book that is out with agents now, and it was hard not to think that this was the end of the road, as far as my good ideas go. And I think because of that, I let fears get the best of me. Anytime I tried to come up with a new idea, it was based solely on what I thought was marketable. What would an agent want if no one wants the book I really love?

What a terrible way of thinking about it!

I spent weeks plotting a middle grade idea that I didn't care about, and then another few weeks trying to plot an idea that I didn't feel ready to plot. It got me nowhere, obviously.

Oftentimes we hear the advice, "To be a better writer, you need to write every day," and for the most part I believe that. The more you write, the better you will get. But at the same time, I think it's important to know your limits. It came to a point where I was dreading trying to plot these new ideas, which isn't how writing normally goes for me. I love plotting. The ideas are flowing and it's all fresh and new. It's amazing!

Maybe you just don't want to be a writer anymore, my super-awesome-brain would tell me. Maybe you got it out of your system. Maybe if you take a break, you'll never come back to writing again and you can be a girl with no passions. That would be cool, right? No passion, no talent, nothing, nada, ZIP.

If your brain is telling you that, I would recommend telling it to shut the eff up.

Ultimately, I needed a break. I took a step back, read some books for fun, and you know what? A couple of weeks later, I had an idea that I'm crazy about. I'm still a writer.

You're probably not surprised by that solution, but it took me way longer than it should have to recognize what my brain really needed. So know your limits. If you need a break, take one. It won't make you less of a writer. You do love it, so you'll get back to it. You just need a minute to recharge your batteries.

And if anyone tells you otherwise, well...


Friday, March 13, 2015

POLARIS AWAKENING Cover Reveal

Me again! Two days in a row whaaaaaat? But I've got something juicy and awesome today. It's the cover of the anthology one of my short stories is going to be appearing in!

Cover Reveal: Polaris AwakeningPolaris Awakening Series: Polaris Anthology #1
Published by Patchwork Press on May 26, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Goodreads Page 
Synopsis:
ZEUS PROTOCOL 000101: REBOOT, SCAN. DANGER DETECTED. THREAT LEVEL: UNKNOWN. RECOMMENDED ACTION: INCREASE MILITARY PRESENCE.

There’s trouble brewing on Polaris. Under the watchful eye of the space station’s supercomputer, Zeus, the lower classes are awakening to the corruption of their wealthy, privileged, and protected leaders. When the quiet voices of protest get louder and alliances form, change dawns on the horizon. But the small acts of resistance won’t be enough to subvert the system for long. Zeus is alert to the growing threat level, and he will do whatever’s necessary—including purging the lower levels of Polaris—to preserve stability for all.

Inspired by the mythology of the constellations hung around Polaris, the seven stories in Polaris Awakening reimagine the classic characters in a futuristic world where alien creatures are commonplace, combat arenas are used for entertaining foreign dignitaries, slaves and soldiers stand side by side, and music orchestrates a revolution. And their first acts of defiance are just the beginning. Polaris will never be the same.

ZEUS PROTOCOL 000099: ENGAGE THREAT.

---

Isn't it gorgeous??? There are some amazing authors who have been working tirelessly on this project: Kellie Sheridan, Erin Latimer, Erica Crouch, Janna Jennings, Terra Harmony, Hannah Davies, and Meghan Jashinsky.
  Polaris-Full 
The Polaris Anthology series is a young adult science fiction that retells some classic mythological stories about constellations in new and exciting ways! In the first installment, you are introduced to the space station of Polaris and the interesting characters aboard. You’ll see action, adventure, romance, and more.

Let us know what you think of the cover, and be sure to add the anthology — which comes out May 26th (new release date!)— on Goodreads

If you are interested in signing up for the blitz, click here. To participate in the blog tour, click here.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lord of the Rings Musings

STORY TIME.

So I LOVE Lord of the Rings. The books are classic, and the movies are hands down my favorite movies OF ALL TIME.

I watch it when I'm home alone for the weekend and need something to cover up the way my house creaks like an ax murderer is coming up the stairs. I watch it when I'm sick and bitter and just want to watch something get destroyed. And sometimes, like today, I just really feel like watching it because I miss the world and the characters. It makes me nostalgic.

I was a part of the young generation that got obsessed with Lord of the Rings. I was only about twelve years old when the first movie came out on DVD, and hadn't seen a PG-13 movie yet. I knew I wanted to see this one, but my mom told me I had to wait, that she wanted to screen it first to make sure it wouldn't be too much for me.

Then my mom left for a PTA convention.

And that night, on his way home from work, my dad stopped at Blockbuster and rented The Fellowship of the Ring.

Little Meghan, the approximate year
the obsession began.
I felt like the biggest rebel in the world when he pulled out that movie, and then felt like the most adulty adult who had ever adulted when we sat down and watched it together. And of course, because it's Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson killed it, I became obsessed with the movie.

I had all of the action figures (including a talking Treebeard!) and I dressed up for the next midnight premiere and immediately read all of the books. And, lest you think my mom isn't cool, she got us to the midnight premiere (back when midnight showings were actually at midnight) of Return of the King so early that they let us sneak into the theater and watch the movie that was showing before Return of the King. We had the best seats in the house come midnight.

Now anytime I turn on Fellowship of the Ring, I think of my dad and feeling rebellious and falling in love with a world that drastically affected the way I write today. It's funny how the books and movies we love end up with so many other memories attached to them.

What books or movies have attached themselves to some of your favorite memories?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

So This Is Weird

The exciting news keeps coming, people!

You've probably noticed me nonstop talking about Pitch Madness, if you've watched my last two WordNerds videos or seen me on almost any other social media platform. But if you haven't been following me that closely, I ENTERED PITCH MADNESS. And it was scary, but I had gone through my pitch and first 250 with my writing group a million times, and I really love this story idea. Probably more than any other idea I have had up to this point.

Serial killers and fate and a creepy jungle and a slightly unreliable narrator and sibling love and AHHH I have had such fun working on it.

And I was even more excited to find out that my entry made it through to the agent round of Pitch Madness! I'm on the red team, with Brenda Drake and Kimberly Chase. Everyone has done tons of work to make this contest great, and I am so thankful for it. This is a huge event, with so much that goes on behind the scenes!

If you want to read my entry, it's called FORSAKEN and you can find it here.

All of the entries are amazing, and I am so excited (and a little overwhelmed) to see my book next to such incredible stories.

So if you need me, I'll be frantically going over my entire book for the hundredth time. :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss, and was SO. EXCITED. when I saw the approval! I have been dying to read this book ever since I saw the cover (holy beautiful!) and read the description (holy fascinating!). Here's the bio from Goodreads, if you were wondering:

     Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
     She’s the executioner.
     As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
     But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
     However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?


This book was so great. The world building was incredible, and I loved the different rituals that were woven throughout the cultural narrative. It made my anthropological heart soar. :) The writing was strong and the character--while flawed--still felt very realistic and easy to relate to. And those villains! So creepy and skin-crawly. This book would appeal to fans of Rae Carson's GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS trilogy, and well as fans of Rosamund Hodge's CRUEL BEAUTY.

I loved the twists woven throughout the book, even the ones that I saw coming (Highlight for spoilers: Like Lief! I never trusted him for a second. It was way too convenient that he showed up right as the other guard got sick... Although I didn't predict  how he got there, and was honestly a little disappointed that he wasn't as evil as I gave him credit for.) I do wish that the major plot twists had been revealed a little differently though. As it was, it felt like they were pretty much just told to Twylla. I would have liked to see a little more discovery on her own, and the fallout that comes from people not just outright telling her. That would have helped with the amount of backstory throughout the novel, too.

I loved the way the fairy tale of The Sleeping Prince was woven in. It was reminiscent of Hodge's CRUEL BEAUTY in the best way, and by the end of the novel I was desperate to reread the fairy tale and catch everything that I missed.

Needless to say, I am so excited for book two. With such deliciously evil villains and protagonists that I love to root for (and sometimes yell at), THE SIN EATER'S DAUGHTER is a must read for 2015. You can buy a copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble--it comes out TOMORROW!

*I'll be posting a brief shoutout to this book with the WordNerds this Friday, as well, and will link to that when it's up*

Friday, February 20, 2015

i am doing A THING

So I haven't officially announced this yet...but here it is! You're going to be able to buy a book THAT I WROTE PART OF. I am so excited!

We've been pretty tight-lipped on the details, only revealing small facts like the theme -- CONSTELLATIONS! -- and the genre -- YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION! -- but everything else? A mystery. But no longer!

Today, we are revealing the title of the newest anthology put out by Patchwork Press, the authors involved, the constellations the stories are inspired by, and the mythology behind each star cluster. We'll begin with the title reveal. Drumroll please...

Polaris-Awakening

Polaris Awakening
is the title of the newest Patchwork Press anthology! Each of the seven stories in the anthology take place aboard the space station of Polaris. The station of Polaris is the brightest star in the galaxy, with it's shining technology and renowned space academy. But not everything on Polaris is perfect -- there's a tilt of balance in social classes, and those below are beginning to awaken to the injustice of their leaders. A rebellion is thrumming through the ship, and the characters of each story all play a part in the ripple of discontent.

There are seven stories contributing to the anthology. And our authors (in order of appearance) are: Kellie Sheridan, Erin Latimer, Erica Crouch, Janna Jennings, Hannah Davies, Terra Harmony, and Meghan Jashinsky.

Zeus

Kellie Sheridan's story will not only open the anthology, but it will be peppered throughout the anthology, interspersed between the other pieces. Kellie's story doesn't focus on one particular constellation or origin myth, but rather she is writing as the embodiment of Zeus (you know, Mr. Lightning Bolt, the Big Guy in the Sky). Zeus is personified as the supercomputer operating Polaris, and he's more aware than you'd expect, which could lead to some danger for our characters...

Ophiuchus

After Kellie Sheridan's introduction, we have our first full story from Erin Latimer. Erin's story centers around the constellation Ophiuchus. The constellation represents the god Apollo struggling with the huge snake that guards the Oracle of Delphi. After Apollo slew the snake, he was ordered by Zeus to host the Pythian Games as a form of penance.

Lyra

Next up is Erica Crouch with her story based on the constellation Lyra. In the original myth, Orpheus -- a musician with almost supernatural talent -- falls in love with Eurydice. But their love is doomed, and Eurydice dies, stolen away to the Underworld by Hades. When Hades hears Orpheus's mournful music, he strikes a bargain: Orpheus will be returned his love if he continues playing his music. Eurydice will follow him from the Underworld, but if Orpheus doesn't trust Hades and turns around to check that Eurydice is still with him, he will lose her forever. The deal is made, and Orpheus plays his lyre, but when he walks over pine needles and can no longer hear Eurydice's footsteps, he turns around and Eurydice fades away, gone forever.

Gemini

Following Erica's piece is Janna Jennings's story of the constellation Gemini. The Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, were both born from Leda, the Queen of Sparta. Their sister is Helen of Troy and there are several myths about them, including sailing with Jason and the Argonauts to find the golden fleece and fighting in the Trojan War to bring their sister Helen home. Castor is a renowned horseman, and Pollux is a great boxer.

Scorpio

Then we have Hannah Davies's story, inspired by the constellation Scorpio. Scorpio has a few different mythologies to chose from, but the one Hannah chose was a story about Orion and Artemis. Orion boasted that he was the greatest hunter in all the land and could kill any animal. Artemis -- Goddess of hunting and also protector of beasts -- sent a scorpion after Orion to defeat him. The scorpion stung Orion's ankle, killing him. Zeus was impressed by the scorpion, so he made a constellation for it. In the sky, the scorpion is at the opposite side of the horizon to Orion to keep them apart.

Virgo

Terra Harmony's story follows next, and she was inspired by the constellation Virgo. Persephone, beautiful daughter of Zeus and Demeter, is tricked by Hades who carries her off to the underworld to be his wife. Her mother was so upset by this, she completely neglected her duties as goddess of agriculture, and famine spread over the entire world. The solution was for Persephone should be with her mother for half the year, and go to the underworld with Hades for the other half of the year. When Persephone is gone, agriculture essentially dies until she returns again six months later.

Taurus

And finally, to close the anthology we have a story from Meghan Jashinsky, based on the constellation Taurus. From the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus to kill Gilgamesh because he spurned her. In the sky, this is why the constellation Taurus seems to be facing off with Orion (who is representative of Gilgamesh).


Patchwork Press's Polaris Awakening is going to be a whirlwind of a read! With so many spectacular myths interpreted into the science fiction world by an array of talented authors -- all with strong, unique voices -- we're readying for an epic read. You can expect the cover reveal in March, and trust us, you won't want to miss it! The release day is scheduled for April 28th, one day before Patchwork Press's second birthday! So let us know...

WHAT CONSTELLATION ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO READ?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Spoiler-Free Book Review: INCITE by Erica Crouch

I got a copy of INCITE (book two in the IGNITE trilogy) through NetGalley. Since I loved IGNITE (and in case you didn't know, I also love Erica Crouch, since we are fellow WordNerds!), I was so excited to get my hands on INCITE. I pretty much started reading it immediately. Here's the description from its Goodreads page, in case you are interested:

Earth is in ruins, and the war of Heaven and Hell has spilled over into the mortal world. In the frozen wasteland of the apocalypse, Azael and his band of cohorts search for Pen and Michael with orders to kill. Little does he know that his sister has incited a rebel army of her own. 

Angels and demons alike stand side by side, ready and willing to fight for a future they didn’t realize they could have. Change doesn't come easy, though. Pen is wary of joining New Genesis's revolution, but when Azael shows his hand and Pen learns all that he holds over them, she chooses to fight back, no matter the risk. She only has to survive, one hour at a time.


I loved this book! When I read IGNITE (book 1), it felt like the main focus was the romance, and Pen's development through that romance as she came to accept that maybe she didn't fit in Heaven or Hell. INCITE took a significantly darker turn, and we got to see the really twisted parts of both Heaven and Hell. This book is about Pen coming into her own, and deciding what side she will stand on in the war between Heaven and Hell--and that maybe that gray area she feels like she is in could become a lifestyle, not just something that keeps her running and hiding.

The darkness in this book was a pretty stark contrast to book one. IGNITE had some gritty elements, particularly in the beginning, but it was mostly overshadowed by the romance. In INCITE, the darkness is the driver. There are a few torture scenes that may be surprisingly grim for readers who were drawn predominantly to the romance in book one, but I personally loved it. Erica has such skill, and the way she wove in beautiful descriptions with the truly awful things going on left me wanting to read more long after I had finished the book.

Lastly, the characters. GOSH, the characters. We are introduced to several new ones, and the diversity of the series is dramatically increased. I love Kala and Ana, and can't wait for their novella! Everyone has beautiful character growth. I especially loved Azael and the inner conflict he had between desperately wanting power, while also desperately wanting Pen to want to be at his side as he succeeded. His point of view was the perfect addition to this series.

Basically, I can't wait to get my hands on the third book, INFINITE! If you haven't read IGNITE yet, you can purchase it on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo! If you have read IGNITE, then you can buy INCITE from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo, as well!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One THOUSAND Subscribers

Holy crap, y'all!

The WordNerds surpassed 1,000 subscribers today! This is so crazy to me-just  477 days ago, we dropped our promo video.


470 days ago our first official video was posted, and that Thursday my first video was uploaded. The time went by so fast!

I won't get too mushy on you, but this has seriously been one of the best things to ever happen to me. I've never been so grateful that I failed at something (auditioning for the YA Rebels). I've also never been so grateful that someone I didn't know messaged me on Twitter (Kellie, asking if I was interested in joining in on the creation of the WordNerds).

As an extra thank you for you WordNerds who also sometimes check out my blog, I wanted to show you a little insight into the beginning stages of creating the WordNerds:

First, Kellie invited me to join in on the fun (and of course I was SO IN).  (You can click on any of these images for a closer look.)

She filled me in on all of the big plans, and I was thrilled (obviously). One of the hardest things to do was come up with names for each of our days, so here's a sneak peek at all of the things we came up with before settling on what we have today!

(Parts of these emails have been erased for security reasons, and when you see the words "Word," "Nerd," and "WordNerds" highlighted in yellow, it's not for any special reason. It's just because I searched for this email, and I couldn't get it to remove the highlights. :) )

So we had a starting place:


And from there we started brainstorming!



                             








And there you have it! Our final stopping point, with Ink Slinging Monday, Reader's Nook Tuesday, Word Play Wednesday, The Circulation Desk Thursday, Inspiration Corner Friday, Vlogger's Choice Saturday, and The Sunday Special!

BONUS: When Calyn first agreed to join us! She completes us!


What's been your favorite WordNerd moment so far? And keep checking our page, in case of giveaways and celebrations! And if you aren't subscribed to us yet... Do it now! What are you waiting for? We loooooove fellow WordNerds!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What WERE Your New Year's Resolutions?

I knew a guy in college who, at the beginning of each year, would ask people what their New Year's resolutions were for the year before, rather than for the coming year. I think this is awesome, because how often do we even think about those in the blind optimism of the new year? I used to never think about it (if I even remembered my old resolutions), because what a downer, amirite?

But since then, I've made a point of only setting a few very thought-out goals at the start of the year. I even did a post about how I set goals, and I've seen a lot of success doing it this way. Last year, I only made one resolution: to begin querying agents in 2014.

To achieve that goal, I'd need to set other goals (like finishing up revisions and giving my MS to beta readers and drafting a query letter and and and...), but I really hoped I could do it.

It was December 26th when it all went down, but I was able to succeed in that resolution! I SENT OUT MY FIRST QUERY LETTER. And it was scary, but mostly it felt awesome. And I know there will be tons of hard times and rejections ahead of me in my publishing journey, but right now I am full of excitement for what is to come. :)

If you have set some resolutions for this new year, I'd encourage you to watch this great video by fellow WordNerd Emma, about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. It could make all the difference this time next year, when you are looking back at all the things you hoped to accomplish!