Posted in For Fellow Writers, Uncategorized

Writer High

I don’t normally write random posts like this. Most of the time, my blog posts have some sort of announcement, update, story, etc. But this time, I just wanted to write about a moment I had a few days ago. An ordinary, every day moment for anyone else, but a big moment for me, a writer.

Who knows, there might already be a word for this or a better phrase than the one I’m using, but the phrase that came to mind once I experienced this feeling was: writer high. Maybe joy, success, inspiration, hype or a number of other words fit better, but…nah. For those of you who go to church, you’ve probably heard of the term “spiritual high”. Often times, we’ll hear people talk of having them during a church camp, retreat or mission trip. It’s sort of this feeling of being on “fire for God”, you could say. All of a sudden, all you want to do is live for God’s glory. That’s the sort of feeling I got on Saturday, but for  writers.

While waiting for my editor to look over The Whistler Daughters, I’m busying myself with finishing my NaNo 2015 novel, Bridget’s Journey the Sequel–which yes, has yet to be properly titled. Over the past week and a half I’ve been reading over what I’ve already written and making notes of how to fill certain plot holes that will come up later in the novel. Besides the obvious remembering what conversations and milestones have already been reached, I was mainly reading what I’d written to get that inspiration back. Because I’d lost it. Spring of this year I had a lot of schoolwork, spent time with friends, had a lot of visitors and prepared for my high school graduation. Therefore, I wrote little. By the time summer started, I began my long list of vacations: graduation present trip to Texas, mission trip to Kenya, trip to see family in New York and Canada and lastly, our family vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia. In between all these vacations, whenever I sat down to write, I just couldn’t. In fact, by the time I got home from Kenya, I’d decided to move on from BJ2 and just work on starting the editing process for The Whistler Daughters. Once I’d finished that, though, I knew I had to go back to BJ2, and I wanted to. I want to finish it before NaNoWriMo, so I can start a new story.

The truth is, I hadn’t written a scene in BJ2 since late May or early June by the time I finally picked it back up last week. I think I was getting too close, maybe, and needed some time to take a step back and reassess the novel. While I liked the last two scenes I’d written for the break, something about it didn’t feel right anymore. I felt like I was getting off track and losing the point, where I was trying to go with Bridget and Cynthia and their plotlines. I just didn’t have any inspiration left. It wasn’t a writer’s block, really, since I had the next several scenes mapped out. It just wasn’t flowing the way it had in the beginning when I was writing during NaNoWriMo.

So, when I began reading it over last week, most of which I hadn’t looked at since November or December, I started to rebuild up all that inspiration I’d lost over the spring and summer. I remembered what my end goal was and re-fell in love with my characters. By the time I’d read everything I’d written, I was ready, so ready, to start writing again.

Then on Saturday I read a scene that I hadn’t liked from the moment I wrote it. I knew it was dumb and unlikely, but I told myself I just had to keep going, had to keep writing. But I couldn’t move on until I’d fixed it, no matter how insignificant it may have seemed in the long run. So I scrapped it and completely re-wrote it. I’ll admit, it’s only a three page scene and it doesn’t have anything directly to do with Bridget. But when I fixed it and made it not just better, but the best, I was just filled with, yes, a writer high.

I’d done it. I made a so-so scene into a great scene. It made more sense, it flowed better and the reaction from the character was more in tune with who that character really is. Definitely one of my writing pet peeves is when I write a scene where my character does or says something out of character. It’s no one’s fault but my own. Sometimes when you’re in the midst of writing, you just have to start over. So after re-writing this scene, I ran and jumped around the house, feeling all giddy and excited inside.

I’d done it. I’d gotten that inspiration back.

To me, the writing life is always about these moments, these little victories. These moments are what keep me going and push me through the future lows of writing, the doubts and the writer’s blocks. In these moments, you remember why you’re writing this story and why it’s so important to finish it.

So now it’s time for me to finish it.

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Posted in Words Upon Words

Light…

Last night, my sisters and I went to WAFFLE at my cousin’s house and spent time with other writers in the area. We talked about our individual projects, did a writing prompt together and spent some time at the end working on those said individual projects or talking about them. This was my second time going to WAFFLE, but it had been a long time since I went the first time. It was fun and so great to talk to Erin about my story and get her feedback on how The Whistler Daughters should end (or not end 😉 ), which I’ve missed so much this past summer. I look forward to many writing sessions together in the future to prepare for and during NaNoWriMo in November!

Needless to say, I have since yesterday finished my first of many edits for The Whistler Daughters and am now going to hand it over to my aunt for her thoughts. Until I hear back from her, I’m going to be re-reading the 50K I wrote for BJ2 and getting ready to finish writing that novel.

And just for fun, here is the prompt I wrote in 30 minutes last night, stemmed by two images Jeremy and Erin found on the internet. Keep in mind, I wrote it quickly without looking back on it, so there will definitely be a mistake or two in there! 🙂 Enjoy!

Light.

Not blinding light, or glowing light, or faint light, but real light like I’d never seen before. You know the rays that come down from the sun and shine over the earth? It’s always sort of yellow or orange depending on the time of day. This light wasn’t like that. It was as pure as light could get. It was white, as if it had it just been born.

It didn’t hurt, in fact, I hardly felt anything besides a slight tingle in my fingertips, but that might have just been me. After all, goosebumps were crawling up and down my body as I stared at the light coming from my hands. Tears were gathering in my eyes.

My fingers twitched and for a second I was afraid the light might disappear and I would be left standing alone in the coffee shop like I always was. Not that I was really alone. Other people worked there, too. Alone because the light would be gone.

But it stayed. It might have even shined brighter. A smile was forming on my face.

It wasn’t a dream after all.

I didn’t know how it had started or how to make it stop, but finally my day had come.

They couldn’t call me useless anymore. Finally, I had something and not only that, I had something no one else had had in years. Decades. It held the power of light in my hands.

“Anna?”

The light vanished. I jumped up in surprise as Matt stared back at me.

“Hello? Are you there?” He knocked lightly on my head. “Get back to work before boss returns. Do you think she’ll be happy to see you standing around like that?”

Normally I would have thumped his head back or at least stuck my tongue out at him, but I was too happy to care. I just smiled at him and said, “You’re right.”

I held my hands behind my back as I walked to the cash register and took a customer’s order. I bit my lip, trying to hold back my excitement.

All these years and my parents thought I would never amount to anything because I was born without a special ability. In a world where you can only make a difference or really matter at all if you have super powers, it’s really hard on those who just happen to be born without them. Actually, it’s really 50-50, I’d say. But every one of my five brothers and sisters and both of my parents had powers. It wasn’t common to have so many special abilities in one family…and still have one member without.

But everyone knew that some people inherited their powers late in their life. This was more of a 10% chance type of thing than anything else and if nothing happened by the time you were 20, you were done. You weren’t getting any powers. You’d live the rest of your life being less than ordinary. In a world where everyone is extraordinary, if you don’t have that extra, you don’t have anything.

Having the power of light, though? No one had heard of anyone controlling light since the 1970s. Since the best superhero that ever lived came on the scene. I hadn’t really ever understood why, but for whatever reason, having the power of light was the best power there was. Better than invisibility, strength, flight, time travel or even mind reading. I don’t think it was so much because of what you could do with it as much as that was what fascinated the public…and it was so rare.

I guess I was too naïve to figure it out. That having the power of light wasn’t all it was hyped up to be.

I guess I should have known better. But I was only 17 then. I just wanted to be like almost everyone in my community. I just wanted to be acknowledged, special.

Too bad for me.

 

Let’s just say, the next thing I knew there was a blackout. I looked around, trying to find a source of light from outside. For some reason, all the blinds were closed and so little light shone out the windows.

“Hey, Matt, what’s—”

A hand covered my mouth and a knee kicked me in the stomach. I half-shrieked and doubled over in pain. I tried to bite the hand that held my mouth or at least hit the guy in the face, but something grabbed my arm and was tying my hands behind my back. They threw me over some guy’s shoulders and I kicked and screamed.

“Matt! Matt! Matt!”

Someone punched me in the face and I was knocked out.

 

When I woke, it was already dark, so I must have been out for a few hours. I looked around me carefully, trying not to alert the man carrying me that I was awake. I was still hanging over his bulky shoulder. My eyes adjusted the darkness pretty quickly and I soon realized that I was at the forsaken railroad. Forsaken because of the accident that had happened back in the 1970s. The one that killed that superhero I was telling you about.

A train was sitting patiently on the tracks, one strong blue light shining from the front. As eerie as the train looked in the darkness, in the prairie that I knew was miles from home, what creeped me out more were the group of lantern holders. It was bright enough for me to tell there were many people waiting, but not bright enough for me to see their faces.

For all I knew, this was just some crazy nightmare. I had been knocked out after all.

If only. Because this was all too real.

I panicked and started kicking again, only then realizing that my legs were tied together like my hands and my mouth was covered. The motion, at least, was enough for my captor to loosen his grip in surprise. I rolled to the ground and tried my best to crawl away. Why did I even bother?

One of the men grabbed me by the back of my shirt and pulled me forward to the crowd. Someone pulled on my hair so that I looked up at the man holding the brightest lantern. I squirmed and squealed but to no avail.

The man above me smirked. “Is this her?” he asked my captors. I think there were only two. They must have answered positively because he smiled and looked down at me. The light from his lantern made peculiar shadows on his face. “I’m sure you’re a little unnerved at the moment, are you not?”

I tried to spit in his face, forgetting that my mouth was tied. Now I just felt embarrassed.

He laughed, which made my blood boil.

What was going on? If this wasn’t a dream, then why did these people want me? Why bring me here of all places? Where did they get that train?

“Don’t worry, everything will be revealed in time. Welcome, Anna. Welcome. We are the light hunters.”

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Fifth Five Books of 2015

Hello, readers!

I recently finished reading book 15 of the 40 I want to read this year. I don’t have much left of summer to catch up, so I might have to adjust my goal back down to 30 again. Only time will tell!

Here are books 21-25 that I read from July to September in 2015. To read about the other books I read in 2015, you can check out books 1-5 here, 6-10 here, 11-15 here and 16-20 here. After this one, there will be only ONE more blog post left before I’ve told you about all the books I read in 2015! Then I will be able to start telling you about what I read in 2016. 🙂

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

21. The Great Railroad Race by Kristiana Gregory – Part of the Dear America series, this book took place during the 1860s when the government hired workers to join both sides of the railroad to make one long railroad running across the United States. This was an educating and entertaining story with a twist I’ve never seen done before. I’m not saying that plot twists don’t usually surprise me, because most of the time they do, but this was a different kind of twist that changed the dynamic of the main character’s relationship with someone else. Overall, a very fun read.

22. * When Christmas Comes Again by Beth Seidel Levine – This book along with Willow Run was one of my favorite books that I read last year, so it really deserves two stars next to it! World War 1 is my favorite time period, so I always love any book I can get my hands on  that takes place during that time in history. This book is also part of the Dear America series and I absolutely loved every minute of it. I cared more for these characters than I had for any character in a Dear America book for a while. It was also different than your typical Dear America novel because the main character was 17 instead of the typical 12-14 age range. Being older myself, it was a nice change. I liked–no, loved!–this book so much, I wrote a review for it on Amazon. You can read it below:

I Will Read This One Again and Again

I am very fascinated with all things World War 1 right now and am hoping to write a novel of my own in this time period someday. Recently, I decided to find all Dear America books on this subject and read them for fun and for inspiration. This book did not disappoint in the least! I learned so many new things about World War 1 and what life was like in New England during the war. I learned about “hello girls” and how they played a major part in the victories on the Western Front. Simone Spencer was a delightful character who grew and learned at the same rate as me. Because I am French-Canadian myself, I loved all the French aspects thrown into this story.
Thank you, Mrs. Levine, for giving us this beautiful peek into the past!

23. A Country of Our Own by Karleen Bradford – This is a Dear Canada I bought for myself while visiting Montreal last summer and was the first brand new book in the series I had bought in Canada instead of getting used on Amazon. It’s about how Canada became an independent country from Great Britain (though still a British Commonwealth) in 1867. It was an interesting and fun read as well, giving a peek into what it was like when Ottawa became the country’s capital instead of the expected Montreal or Quebec City.

24. * Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington – We read this one for school with Mom. It’s an autobiography of Booker T. Washington’s life. When we started, we thought for some reason we were reading about George Washington Carver, the peanut guy, so we kept waiting for Booker T. Washington to talk about peanuts. 😉 Well, let’s just say he never talked about peanuts. But he did talk about slavery. Not only was Booker T. Washington freed after the end of the Civil War, but he went back home after going to college and educated the children from his hometown. He taught black people all over the United States throughout his life that just because they were now freed from slavery, didn’t mean they could right away have all the privileges the white people had. They first needed to educate themselves as they should have been years before in order to reach their full potential and gain respect. A quote from the book that accurately portrays the story’s theme is below:

“It is important and right that all privileges of the law be ours, but it is vastly more important that we be prepared for the exercise of those privileges.” -Booker T. Washington

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an African American’s perspective of what life was like after the Civil War and what his people need to do to mend the warped view white people had of black people in America.

25. Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff – Another of Patricia Reilly Giff’s books that takes place in World War II. I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Lily’s Crossing and Willow Run, so I didn’t write a review for it on Amazon. Though there wasn’t much to the story line, I always enjoy a good historical. There was a little bit of the ghost element, which was okay, but maybe could have played a bigger part in the plot itself. One of my main problems with it was that it ended too fast. I know I have a problem in terms of over describing in my books, but the last two or three chapters, the part of the book we’d been waiting 200 pages for, happened perfectly, but way too fast. I wanted to delve more into her thought process, her emotions as one event happened after the other, but the pacing was so fast, we didn’t have enough time to analyze each situation. So, that was too bad.

 

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in Book Reviews, For Fellow Writers

Fourth Five Books of 2015

I apologize for not posting in a while. To make up for it, I wrote a really long post! 🙂

Here are books 16-20 that I read in June of 2015. If you missed out on one of or all my first three posts, you can check out books 1-5 here, books 6-10 here and books 11-15 here.

Before I list these next five books, I’ll give you an update on my reading for 2016. So far I have read five books (two were on audio). By the end of this month I need to have read four to make up for only reading two last month. Luckily, I just finished two and am close to finishing one more already. I’m sure I will be caught up by March 1st!

Now, on with the books:

16. Cannons at Dawn by Kristiana Gregory – This book is part of the Dear America series. It centers around the lives of families following their husbands to the battle lines during the Revolutionary War. It is actually a sequel to the Dear America, The Winter of Red Snow. This book was really interesting because it showed me a different side to the Revolutionary War. For one, we don’t normally hear much after the Declaration of Independence (at least, I rarely did) and this one showed the end of the war (or the beginning of the end), which didn’t happen until the early 1780s. After they lost everything, the family decided to follow their father as he went off to become a soldier (normally a few days behind him in case a battle ensued) instead of waiting behind at home. Overall, an enjoyable read.

* 17. Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff – This book. Oh my goodness. One of my favorites I read last year. It is a companion to Lily’s Crossing which I mentioned reading in one of my earlier posts. Honestly, I don’t even remember when or where it happened, but all of a sudden, in the middle of reading it, something had changed. It went from being just a book I was reading, to a story that meant everything to me. After crossing that point, I couldn’t put it down! I liked this one even more than Lily’s Crossing, which doesn’t often happen! It did not have very many reviews on Amazon, so I gave it one shortly after finishing the book. I’ll share it here:

Beautiful Story of a Period in History We Won’t Soon Forget

This book is recommended for ages 8-12, and though I understand why, I myself am a teenager and I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
World War II is one of my favorite time periods, it is true, and this piece dedicated to that era gives a wonderful peek into what it was like to live during that time. The writing, as always, was very relate-able and the characters were endearing. I fell in love with Meggie and her family and greatly enjoyed her character development. Though this book is a companion, it works perfectly as a stand-alone as well.
*SPOILER* Although I was severely disappointed that it ended before we could find out what happened to Meggie’s brother Eddie, it just goes to show how much it meant to me to find out! I even went back to Lily’s Crossing to see if his fate had been mentioned there and I had just missed it!
I would recommend this book to anyone of any age. I commend the author, Patricia Reilly Giff, for writing a story that moved me so much. It doesn’t often happen. Thank you, Mrs. Giff, for this book.

18. Kit Saves the Day by Valerie Tripp – This is a continuation of listening to the Kit books in the car. One of my favorite children’s stories growing up! (I talked more about Kit’s books in earlier posts–links are above ^)

* 19. The Keeper by Erin Phillips – I have been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on this one! Erin Phillips is my cousin and fellow writing buddy here in North Carolina. She self-published her first novel, The Keeper, in 2015 and it is available for purchase as paperback or Kindle on CreateSpace and Amazon–check it out! For updates on special promotions for The Keeper and updates on her upcoming sequel, The Varken, check out her blog, One Word More, here.

Here is the review I put up on Amazon for her book:

“The Keeper” takes place in the fantastical world of Eviryia from the perspective of Kayleigh, the Keeper of Ailenor. After decades of trying to find the True King, distraught, Kayleigh locks herself up in Ailenor, giving up on attempting to bring a king back on the throne, thus bringing peace to the kingdom. And so begins Kayleigh’s journey as she renews her determination to save the kingdom and discovers the true meaning of her duty as Keeper of Eviryia.
This book had beautiful descriptions of the places Kayleigh visited outside of Ailenor and the character development was evident. I could hardly put it down, reading chapter after chapter, wanting to know what happens next. The ending was just right, like any good story, while still having a few twists! The endearing characters were relatable and believable, becoming your friends by the time you reached the last page, making you wish it kept going!
I hope Erin Phillips publishes a sequel! However, “The Keeper” is perfect as a stand alone. I am looking forward to reading more of her work!

20. Bridget’s Journey by Valerie Cotnoir – Heehee, yes, I read my own book. It took me a while, but after downloading Bridget’s Journey on Kindle, and after taking a break from looking at this story since I had already read it over and over a million times, I read it again and marked a few things here and there to change for future reference.

As a matter of fact, I updated these changes and published my second edition of Bridget’s Journey very recently! If you’re interested, I have two copies I’m selling for $7.00 each for those living in the Raleigh area. Otherwise, you can buy your paperback or Kindle copy on Amazon or CreateSpace! Or download it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Don’t forget to leave a review after you have finished reading!

To finish off, here are some reviews that other people have left for this book on Amazon:

This is a sweet story of a young girl whose world is turned upside down. After Bridget’s father dies, she goes to live in Prince Edward Island with her grandparents whom she has never met.
As Bridget struggles through a major move, and dealing with the pain of being an orphan, she slowly learns to depend on God to help get through life’s trials.
The scene where Bridget meets her grandmother for the first time brought me to tears.
I really enjoyed this book and plan to read it again.

Wonderful story to read with my two daughters. Heart-warming and well written for a first-time author. I hope she writes more soon.
Bridget’s Journey was a beautiful story about dealing with grief and friendship troubles. It captures the charm and beauty of Prince Edward Island, the main setting of the story, and the main characters were felt very real and lovable. Great story to read with kids but is very enjoyable for all ages! If you loved any of the Anne of Green Gables books, you will love this book too! I look forward to seeing what other books the author will come up with!

Only two more posts and I will be finished reviewing the books I read in 2015!

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in For Fellow Writers, Words Upon Words

Leave a Review

After you are done reading Bridget’s Journey or Everlasting, I hope you will consider leaving a review for me on Amazon and/or Goodreads. I love getting feedback from my readers and your reviews can help others who don’t know me personally be persuaded to get their own copy of Bridget’s or Azalea’s story.

Click here to leave a review on Amazon.

Click here to leave a review on Goodreads.

Thank you so much!