Thursday, March 30, 2017

Therapy and The Walking Dead

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me… You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” Psalm 23:4-5

Recently, I started catching up on The Walking Dead. I still have a little over a season to go, but I’m getting there. When I first started watching over a year ago, I quite enjoyed season 1, but then I got bogged down on season 2. While I’m not generally squeamish, the violence in the show bothered me more than it has in others (this probably has something to do with the fact that I don’t like the idea of getting eaten alive), but the curious thing is that lately, as I’ve been struggling with anorexia, I’ve found myself gravitating to TWD more and more. And it occured to me that there is a specific reason why I find comfort in the misadventures of Rick Grimes and his group. 

At its core, The Walking Dead is very much about food. Oh sure, it’s also about trying not to get torn apart by walkers or murdered by crazy people, but the group braves the most danger just in order to eat. On its own, starvation is a scary concept; compound that with facing a horrible fate just to prevent it, and you’ve got a fairly accurate picture of what’s going on in my head right now (although the fates Rick and I fear are different). 

I have found it easier to eat while watching TWD, because it’s helpful to pretend that the only anxiety that could exist about eating food would be the idea of becoming food yourself, which is not a struggle I have ever had to face in real life (nor do I ever hope to). So on one level, I can appreciate the comfort and safety I have in being able to observe fictional anxieties about eating while knowing I don’t have to share those fears. If the walkers aren’t real, then eating can be a pleasurable activity rather than a necessary evil. The separation between fictonal food fear and real life food fear is not complete, and The Walking Dead will not solve all of my problems. But little things like this have been assisting me in my attempts at recovery, and for that, I am extremely grateful. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? What are some ways that TV shows (or any form of entertainment) have helped you overcome various struggles? What are some other benefits to enjoying fiction? 

Monday, March 27, 2017

THE RAVEN BOYS // Bottled Virginia Magic

Five Stars—ajklsdflk (when words fail to describe how wonderful a book is)

When I picked up THE RAVEN BOYS, I did it more because several trusted friends had recommended it, and less because I was actually interested. Had I realized it was going to offer me a similar sort of moody realism to IMAGINARY GIRLS, I would have been much more excited. In the end, the biggest reason I decided to try THE RAVEN BOYS was because I was on an audiobook kick and there weren’t many options available at the library. Also, I had listened to THE SCORPIO RACES and enjoyed it, so I was grudgingly willing to read more by Maggie Stiefvater. (It’s weird how loving one book doesn’t necessarily translate to a desperate need to read more by the same author. Possibly I’m afraid of being disappointed by the rest of their work.) 

The Audiobook. 

Despite my minor obsession with them last year, I’m finding I'm not a huge fan of audiobooks. So often the narrator feels wrong for the story, and it taints my enjoyment. But Will Patton does a phenomenal, phenomenal job, I tell you. His voice is bottled Virginia magic. I prefer listening to it over reading the story with my eyes, as I did the second time through. 

The Characters. 

All of Stiefvater’s characters, however large or small of a role they play, don’t feel like portraits of humans, as so many characters do; they feel like actual humans. On that note, I’m convinced it would be worthwhile to base a writing program off Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle (and THE SCORPIO RACES). *takes notes* 

Blue // Blue is sensible but eccentric. While she is her own person, she is not the wild, reckless, wish-fulfillment type of character that has become prevelent in YA. She is sad and deep wihout being melodramatic. 

Gansey // Stiefvater is both cruel and brilliant to inform us, before we even officially meet him, that Gansey is going to die. I say brilliant, because I get the sense that Stiefvater's no push over, that she’s going to do what she’s been telling us she's going to do all along. I say cruel, because she then proceeds to write a character I can’t bear to lose. Gansey is studious, driven, thoughtful, kind, and yes, a bit arrogant and stupid about money and status, but he’s Gansey. I read about him and I hear his ghost saying “That’s all there is,” and my eyes get a little leaky. He doesn’t feel fictional; he feels real, like someone who ended a long time ago and needs to be remembered. 

Ronan // He is violent, predictable, and understandable. I simultaneously fear him and want him for a friend. His anger drives him, his pet raven humanizes him, and his secrets lend him depth. There’s so much to Ronan, so much I feel about him, and I can’t find a way to put any of it into words, because it’s more an indescribable swirl of color than a line of text. I can’t properly express how glad I am that he is getting his own trilogy. 

Noah // Noah is soft and sad and shadowy, and he breaks my heart. I want to keep him safe in my pocket wherever I go; I want to be his best friend. I can’t go into much detail about him without entering spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that, of all the character storylines in THE RAVEN BOYS, Noah’s is my favorite. 

Adam // I relate to Adam, and I pity him. I get a little angry, too, because he makes all his pain and anger worse by driving his friends away at crucial moments. I wish he would be willing to take help, wish he wouldn’t villify Gansey for offering it. That said, I understand why he feels the need to pull himself up by his bootstraps, though I worry that if he doesn’t learn to manage his desperate need for dignity, he could end up more like his father than is good for anyone. 

Henrietta // Although Henrietta is a town, it’s a character too. It fills the book, every corner, every nook and cranny of it. I love the sense of place. I love that I, too, live in Virginia. I love walking my landlord’s dog and pretending I’m in Henrietta, that I can hear the hum of the ley line, that when I round the corner, I could stumble across Blue and the Raven boys. 

The Atmosphere. 

The atmosphere in this story is so strong, I can taste it, smell it, touch it. I want it to replace my atoms. It’s like drinking straight nostalgia from a favorite mug. 

In Conclusion. 

I have read this book twice, and I already want to reread it. Rest assured, I will shove it in your face like I shoved IMAGINARY GIRLS in your face, and you will not hear the end of it until you cave and read it. Now I’m off to finish rereading BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE so I can maybe finally work up the courage to read THE RAVEN KING and see what happens. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? Have you read THE RAVEN BOYS? Have you read anything else by Maggie Stiefvater?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

DRACONIAN // In which Liz gets sappy

DRACONIAN has been the work of almost eight years, the driving force behind the majority of my writing journey thus far. Of course I’ve worked on other projects as well, including TIME IN A BOTTLE, which I went on to polish and pitch to agents and, ultimately, trunk. Since the idea first came to me, DRACONIAN has demanded to be told. In all its many iterations, it has spanned multiple computers (five) and homes (four). It began as a short story I wrote for literature class when I was twelve, became the 60K word rough draft I completed as a part of my schoolwork, survived my purple-prose-loving phase, and grew through my depression after receiving extremely negative feedback from a beta reader on one side and dozens of agent rejections on the other, before finally arriving at this stage, completed and ready for the query trenches. I can honestly say that as much as I hoped, and as much as I dreamed, I never quite expected to make it here. 

I look at it, and I see the bones from the very first draft. I also see the years of desire and doubt that followed. It has seen me through the stages where I struggled to sleep at night because I wanted, wanted, wanted till I was sick to my stomach to hold that book, published, in my hands, to have the validation that would make people’s judgement less bitter, less painful, less justified. I can’t count the times I let myself see my manuscript through another’s eyes, to the point where I wanted to burn it and move on because I wasn’t big enough or smart enough. It waited patiently while I listened to others who said my dream wasn’t worth sacrificing for, while my guilt and anxiety got the best of me and made me forget that I’m a writer to my core. 

When I decided to write a fresh rough draft of DRACONIAN during NaNoWriMo 2014, I expected to be finished by November 2015, because that was how things worked the year before. I can’t adequately express how sick I felt when November 2016 came and went and I still wasn’t done. I was stuck. I wanted to work on other projects. I was beyond tired. But I had to, had to, I say I had to finish. 

Even after this November, even mere strides from the finish line compared to the legwork I had already completed, I was not sure I had it in me to sprint down the homestretch. But I knew I had to try regardless. Because if there’s anything running cross country has taught me, it’s that you always have more in you than you realize. 

I've lost track of the amount of drafts I had to go through with this problem child—far more than I needed with TIME IN A BOTTLE. The vast majority of those drafts felt like hate drafts. I’ve lost track of the hours I spent filling in plot holes, wrestling awkward sentences, and crying over world-building, but I’m sure the 900 plus hours I spent on TIME IN A BOTTLE pale in comparison. Where TIB was a cakewalk, DRACONIAN was a marathon through Death Valley. The biggest redeeming quality of this experience is realizing that while it is possible to fall out of love with a novel, to see only its faults and none of its beauty, it is equally possible to fall back in love. 

So yes, I am moving on the next stage—the query trenches. While I am excited and nervous to be here for round two, with more faith in myself and more understanding that I am not the sure bestseller I thought I was, and while the thought of getting published is both nerve-wracking and difficult to imagine, I am pleased. I am happy. Even if this book never gets an agent, never makes it to the shelves, I will still have this: Against all odds, I finished. I proved my doubts wrong. Regardless of where this book ends up—your home or my trunk—I will still have succeeded. And that, my coffee beans, is more than sufficient. 

Last but not least, I need to wander into the realm of cheese and mushiness, because you all deserve a big thank you. Were it not for your support and encouragement, your excitement over my snippets and your faith in me, I wouldn’t have found the energy to finish this. I really hope I get to share DRACONIAN with you some day. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? What are some writing successes of yours that you’d like to celebrate?

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Court of Mist and Fury // My Conundrum

Three Stars—Good

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES

Unlike with ACOTAR, I drafted this review the same day I finished reading A COURT OF MIST AND FURY. I think this calls for a celebratory coffee. 

The Rating and a Content Warning.

I wanted to cover this bit first because I think giving it three stars is a tad misleading. I was tempted to give it two stars; I was also tempted to give it four. Or five. Or one. (Okay, not one.) *headdesk* Let it be known, I enoyed ACOMAF, and part of the reason I took so long reading it (several months) was because I wanted to suffer from a book hangover for as short a time as possible (since A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN comes out in May). However, the biggest, BIGGEST reason why I docked two stars was the sexual content. I was warned that there would be some, but there was a good deal more than some. And I do not like sexy times in books. They make me uncomfortable, they gross me out, and they make me sad because I don’t feel super okay recommending books with this level of sexual content, even if I liked all the other parts. (I know I probably include this disclaimer a lot, but rest assured, if you loved, loved, loved this book, I’m not judging you. I’m just saying that stuff is not for me.) 

So, a word to the wise. 

Moving on. 

PTSD, Depression, Food, and Art. 

At the end of ACOTAR, after an extremely traumatizing ordeal Under the Mountain, Feyre is killed and then brought back to life as a High Fae (that was a lot of capitalization). Naturally, this has a lasting impact on her mental health. She finds herself unable to keep food down, unable to paint, unable to feel much of anything. I kind of felt her pain here, given some of the struggles I’ve been going through recently. It helped to have some perspective. 

Because I’m prejudiced against Romance (as a genre) in general, I hadn’t expected such an honest, nuanced representation of mental trauma. In this case, I wasn’t just surprised, I was moved. Even if this book had no other redeeming qualities, I would love it simply for how it shows Feyre’s emotional journey. 


I can’t go into much detail here without risking spoilers, so let me just say: I was intrigued by Feyre’s relationship with both Tamlin and Rhysand. Coming into the series, I had expected something a little different with regards to these three characters, but Maas ended up surprising me. Though I think I already know what’s going to happen now, I’m ohmygosh so excited to see how this trilogy ends. (And she’s writing three more books in the ACOTAR universe!?! WANT.) 

Small issues.

There are thick books, like THE HOST, where I genuinely believe that removing any detail (or word, or scene, etc.) would take away from the story, but there are more commonly cases with thick books, like ACOMAF, where I have to wonder if the book could have benefited with more tightening. That being said, I admire Sarah and her work ethic to the moon and back (and then to the moon again). Of all the writers I have stalked researched, I find her to be one of the most inspiring. It takes crazy amounts of time and effort to publish two thick books a year and not end up stabbing yourself in the eye with a pair of tweezers. So yeah, props to her. I just think she needed a bit more time. 

In Conclusion.

While there were some stylistic aspects I wasn't as much of a fan of, and while I don’t feel comfortable recommending this book, given how broad my blog audience is, I did enjoy the overall experience of the story and am excited to read A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? Have you read ACOMAF? What are some elements in stories that make you uncomfortable? What are some reasons why you might not recommend a book you enjoyed?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Guest Post // Danielle Hines

Hello everyone! My name is Danielle ~ Liz and I are old writing friends who experienced some of our first Nanowrimos together, and one of my favorite things is getting together with her to book shop and talk writing. Liz (in her usual manner of awesomeness) has allowed me a guest post on her blog! Hope you enjoy! 

The Hero’s Journey
A brief overview of a classic structure, and thoughts on the planning vs. pantsing dilemma. 

The Hero’s journey is a narrative pattern originated by Joseph Campbell. It is born from the Monomyth theory which states that all classic stories carry the same basic traits and formulas when broken down systematically.

Now, as a fiction writer myself, this certainly catches my eye. You mean there’s a formula that I can follow that will magically produce a work of classic literature? Sign me up! Alas and alack, writing is rarely this straight-forward and simple (so few things are). 

That being said, this theory and the studying of it does have its merits for a writer. For one, the close study of other stories is a fantastic idea. It is my firm opinion that reading is the greatest apprenticeship available to us as writers. Secondly, if you are a planner, it can be nice to have a few guidelines that you can turn to when you get stuck. Thirdly… has this ever happened to anyone? You’ve been plugging along on your manuscript, then horror of horrors! About forty-thousand words in, you have no idea what to write next. And you have no idea how to figure it out.

Well, this just might help.

The Hero’s Journey follows the Hero (protagonist) through twelve stages that shape the story. I will be using masculine pronouns in the descriptions for simplicity, but don’t freak out! A hero can just as easily be a woman as it can be a man. 

The 12 stages:

1) THE ORDINARY WORLD. The hero is unveiled to the audience in their own world and environment. Often they are introduced in such a way that we can automatically sympathize with them, and thus our attention has been won for this story. Also, the hero usually has tension in his life causing him to wish to pull away from his norm.

2) THE CALL TO ADVENTURE. Something happens that changes things, either external or internal, and the hero must face the beginnings of change. 

3) REFUSAL OF THE CALL. The hero dreads this plunge into the unknown and tries to turn back, however short-lived this turning back may be. Optionally, a friend or other character can express this dread of the dangers that now lie before the hero.

4) MEETING WITH THE MENTOR. The hero meets a wise traveler who imparts training, equipment, or advice that will aid the journey.

5) CROSSING THE THRESHOLD. This, the end of Act 1, is when the hero fully commits to leaving his Ordinary World and plunging into the Unknown World (mental or physical) which contains unknown rules, codes, and dangers. 

6) TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES. The hero is tested and begins to accumulate allies and enemies in the Unknown World.

7) APPROACH. The hero and his new allies prepare for the central challenge in the Unknown World.

8) THE BELLY OF THE WHALE. This point comes towards the middle of the story, and in it the hero confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. From the moment of death, new life must spring. 

9) THE REWARD. The hero wins the treasure won by facing death. The treasure can be something physical (a healing elixir) or mental (the key piece of knowledge that will end world hunger) There may be celebration, but there is still danger of losing the treasure again.

10) THE ROAD BACK. This is about the three-quarter mark in the book, and in it, the hero is driven to finish the adventure, leaving the Unknown World and bringing the treasure back home. There may be a chase scene or reminder of the state of the homeland that signals the immediacy of the adventure’s outcome.

11) THE RESURRECTION. At the climax, the hero is severely tested once more on the threshold of his return. He is cleansed by a last sacrifice (another moment of death and rebirth) this time to a higher scale. The results of winning this final trial are that the tension that the hero felt in the beginning are, at last, resolved.

12) RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR. The hero then returns home or continues his journey. He now carries some element of the treasure that has the power to transform his known world just as the hero himself has been transformed.

Got all that? I know, it’s a lot to take in. Here is an example to help you apply all this. (Okay, let’s be honest, this part is mostly for my own nerdy enjoyment.) A classic story converted into a Hero’s Journey:

Frodo’s Hero’s Journey (for The Fellowship of the Ring):

1) THE ORDINARY WORLD: The shire and Bilbo’s birthday party.

2) THE CALL TO ADVENTURE: The ring is bequeathed to Frodo and Gandalf presents him with the need to get the ring out of the Shire.

3) REFUSAL OF THE CALL: Gandalf and Samwise express concern over Frodo’s quest.

4) MEETING WITH THE MENTOR: This could be meeting Aragorn at the tavern (since he provides advice and aid) though Gandalf is also a primary mentor.

5) CROSSING THE THRESHOLD: Travelling to Rivendell, Weathertop is a signature “unknown world” experience.

6) TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES: The forming of the fellowship!

7) APPROACH: Entering the Mines of Moria.

8) THE BELLY OF THE WHALE: Gandalf’s death.

9) THE REWARD: Their escape from the Mines, Galadriel’s gifts, and Frodo’s newfound determination to do whatever must be done to save middle earth.

10) THE ROAD BACK: Traveling with the fellowship from Lothlorien to Amon Hen.

11) THE RESSURECTION: Frodo faces Boromir over the ring.

12) RETURN WITH THE ELIXER: Frodo leaves the fellowship with Samwise. He now carries more skills and knowledge than at the start of his tale, and he continues his ultimate quest of saving Middle Earth.

If you haven’t read or watched The Lord of the Rings, now you have homework!

This presentation only scratches the surface of everything involved with the Hero’s Journey. Archetypes are explored, the stages are mixed and matched to demonstrate other structures available, and much more. For more info on and application of the hero’s journey, I would recommend Google and “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler. 

Lastly, a few quick thoughts on planning and pantsing. (For those of you who might be new to the game, “pantsing” is sort of a shortened version of “flying by the seat of your pants.” Put more simply, pantsing = not planning.) 

To plan or not to plan, that is the question. I’ve heard a lot of compelling arguments for each of these schools of thought. On the one hand, if you don’t plan, your story can end up a meandering and chaotic mess. Then again, most first drafts end up this way anyways. On the other hand, if you do plan, everything you type can end up stiff and predictable. Then again, refer to my notes on the dreaded first draft.

So what’s the answer? 

The answer to this is not simple (seeing a trend?). It really depends on your own unique writing style, and I think most writers use a mix of both. Some writers plunge ahead with blind abandon on their first draft, then start reshaping things during the editing process. Others begin with the kernel of the idea, then plot as they go, once the themes of the story and the overall shape begin to emerge. Whatever you choose, always remember that writing is rewriting and your story is worth it.

I hope this post has been informative and (perhaps) even a little entertaining. A gigantic thank you to the lovely word-slayer Liz Brooks for the honor of guest posting on her fantastic blog. Happy writing, coffee beans!

Was this post helpful? What are your experiences with planning and pantsing? Share in the comments below!

Also, here’s a link to my blog. If you happen to live in Maine and enjoy a good adventure of your own, this might be for you: Adventures Beneath Katahdin Skies

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Court of Thorns and Roses // An Overdue Review

Four Stars—Great

I had meant to post my review of Sarah J Maas’ A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES sometime during Valentine’s week. I’d also intended to review A COURT OF MIST AND FURY and CRUEL BEAUTY during that same week so I could tie them all together with a neat little bow, which obviously didn’t happen. I finished ACOMAF on the last day of February and, as of writing this post, still have yet to read CB. 

Le sigh. 

When I do get around to reading CB (and since my Kindle reading habits have been sporadic and spastic of late, who knows when that will be?), I still hope to do a post comparing and contrasting ACOTAR and CB. I also plan to buy A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN when it comes out, and I might even read and review it in a reasonable amount of time. We’ll see. 

For now, let’s talk about ACOTAR. 

The Set-Up.

While ACOTAR is primarily a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling (yay!), it also inlcudes elements of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” (a story that has haunted me for years) and “Tam Lin” (which I was less familiar with). When it comes to retellings, it can be difficult to process and repackage a popular, oft-retold story and still produce something fresh, which is why I think the combination of these three fairy tale storylines is one of ACOTAR’s greatest strengths. 


For whatever reason, I came into the story not expecting to relate to or appreciate Feyre all that much. I think this partially had to do with the fact that I knew ACOTAR is a romance (and if you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know that romance is usually a miss for me). But Feyre’s combination of tough and soft won me over. 

She sacrifices so much of her time and energy to support her family, which did remind me an awful lot of Katniss from THE HUNGER GAMES. Despite the similarities, though, Feyre is still her own character. She is practical, yet artistic, and she somehow finds a way to balance these two aspects of her personality. It can be so easy to see art as non-essential, the first thing to go when life gets hard, and I loved that it doesn’t get displaced in the face of Feyre’s abject poverty—that it’s recognized as a part of who she is. Also, I love that her relationship with painting mirrors her emotional state throughout ACOTAR and ACOMAF. 

Confession time.

Every time a book description mentions fairies/the fae, I find myself losing interest, even though I love books like THE PECULIAR and THRONE OF GLASS. I’m not really sure why this happens, it just does, and I almost skipped out on ACOTAR because it’s a) a romance and b) a book that heavily features the fae. However, I ended ACOTAR feeling more favorable to books of it’s ilk. I consider that a win. 

Content warning.

There is some sexual content, and I am squeamish, so that accounts for the dropped star. 

In Conclusion. 

I’m sad that I didn’t review this book right after reading it because, now that a fair amount of time has passed, my memory has gotten a bit vague on some of the nuances I wanted to discuss. The busier I get with writing, the more I find myself forgetting small details, like my name, or a book’s storyline, so I can’t give you as well-informed a recommendation as I had hoped. But I do remember that I very much enjoyed ACOTAR (especially the ending), and I will eventually want to reread it. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? Have you read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES? Will I ever spell “thorns” correctly on the first try? (No. Because I always type “throns.” Don’t ask me why.) What are some of your favorite fairytale retellings? Have you read CRUEL BEAUTY/do you recommend it?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Inspire Me Tag

Back in January, my lovely friend Karyssa @ No Coffee, No Can Do nominated me for The Inspire Me Tag (which was created by Hannah @ Ink Blots and Coffee Stains). Thank you, Karyssa! Before you get too excited, though, be advised that this post is a discussion of what inspires me, not, in fact, an exploration of how I manage to be such an inspiring (and wonderful and amazing and humble) person. I know you’re disappointed, but please don’t cry. 

The rules are thus and such: 

1) Include these rules in your fabulously-written post. 

2) Smile and twirl in a circle and look at your favorite inspiring thing (while trying not to fall over because now you’re dizzy) as you prepare yourself for the wisdom I’m about to impart to you. 

3) Thank your gorgeous, lovely tagger. 

4) Tag however many bloggers you please. 

5) Have fun, be honest (we’ll know if you’re not), and answer all the questions (feel free to add some of your own!). 

1. What is one of the most inspiring things for you? 


Bet you never saw that answer coming. 

Naturally, I’ve already discussed this multiple times, but you can never talk about coffee too much. 

The long and short of it is this: caffeine doesn’t make me feel more awake, but it does focus my mind. The biggest reason I drink coffee is the flavor—a comforting mixture of nostalgia and possibilities—that gets me right into the writing mood. Sometimes, when I get an especially good coffee (or when I get any sort of coffee after craving it long enough), I will almost start crying because it’s so beautiful. #sorrynotsorry. 

2. Where do you look for inspiration? 

I refer you to the above. 

Beyond the magic that is coffee, I also find inspiration in all sorts of places. Sometimes when I’m reading, I have to keep putting my book down so I can take notes, because even the smallest thing will get my mind going. Graveyards and rainy days and all things macabre and morbid catch my fancy as well. I like bog boardwalks and early mornings and velvety nights. History and science also give me ideas. Abandoned buildings, damaged street signs, cracked sidewalks, lonely porch swings—the list goes on. 

3. When and where does inspiration tend to hit you? 

Anywhere, anytime. Inspiration comes most often when I am calm, quiet, and slightly melencholic—I call this my writing mood and it’s more common early in the morning and late at night. Other times, it comes to me when I’m washing dishes or working my custodial job or showering or doing any other ask where it’s difficult/impossible to take notes. Usually, though, I have to hunt down inspiration and drag it back kicking and screaming. 

4. What’s the first thing you do when inspiration strikes? 

If I’m in a position where I can write down my thoughts, I’ll take the time to flesh them out a little. If not, I’ll chant the idea over and over in my head until I have, hopefully, memorized it. (This works about 75% of the time.) 

5. What’s the most inspiring book/song/website/etc. you’ve found? 

I’m going to cheat here and say anything by Ray Bradbury. 

6. What’s one piece of advice you would give to people struggling for inspiration? 

Cue cynical Liz time. 

Inspiration isn’t the silver bullet that will make your book a success or even just a finished product. Sometimes the stuff you write under the influence of inspiration isn’t even as good as the stuff you have to struggle to get down. It can be tempting to rely on inspiration and forget that writing is, first and foremost, work, and no amount of inspiration will do your work for you. I say this, not to rain on your parade, but because I really wish I had had this hammered into my head when I was a younger writer. I wasted so much time assuming writing was going to be an easy journey, and when inspiration failed to visit me, I thought it meant I had hit a dead end and needed to start over rather than power through. 

That being said, there is nothing wrong with inspiration, and if you really need a little extra oomph (because who doesn’t want that?), remember that it typically comes when you least expect it and when you’re not actively looking for it. Try exercising or doing some mundane, mindless task. Flip through your favorite novels and remind yourself of the small things that made you like them. Go somewhere with the kind of atmopshere you hope to recreate in your writing. Dive into nostalgia (for me, that primarily means brewing coffee). And then remember that sometimes you have to dig in and get word goop up to your elbows before inspiration decides to visit (that whole “if you build it, he will come” idea). 

I hereby tag Aimee, Ashley, CaitKatieVictoria, and Victoria

What about you, my little coffee beans? What are some of your main sources of inspiration?

Monday, March 6, 2017


I beta read THE COLOR PROJECT for Sierra Abrams a while ago, and it was amazing. Amazing, I tell you. Since then, Sierra has decided to publish it non-traditionally (*cue incoherent screaming*). On Saturday, she posted the cover reveal, and oh my goodness, I’m trying not to drool. 

Without any further ado, here it is: 

*attempts to regain composure* 

Here’s the Goodreads description: 

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn't want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee's summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

For fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, THE COLOR PROJECT is a story about the three great loves of life—family, friendship, and romance—and the bonds that withstand tragedy.

As of right now, the publication date is set for July 18, 2017, and Sierra hopes to have a pre-order link up soon. In the meantime, you can add it on Goodreads, stare at the pretty cover, and try to figure out ways to time travel. 

Lastly, in case you don’t have money to throw at books right and left, now’s your chance to win a pre-order of THE COLOR PROJECT

What about you, my little coffee beans? Have you heard of THE COLOR PROJECT? Are you planning to read it? What are some non-traditionally published projects you've enjoyed? 

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Confession time. I am a good deal busier than I had planned to be, though I should have seen this coming. I have never tried to edit three projects simultaneously in the past, much less while on a tight (although self-imposed) deadline, much less while trying to keep up with blogging and other activities on the side (like my custoidal job, and socializing, and oh, also trying to make myself eat food, among other things). 

That’s not to say I’m discontent or floundering or whatever. And I’m not going on hiatus, because I have taken enough breaks already and I’m itching—itching, I tell you—to get back to a twice-weekly blogging schedule, if I can possibly manage it. I am loving this—I am loving learning to deal with heavy workloads and tight deadlines in a controlled environment (since I don’t have the teeth of an acutal publishing deadline). I’ve found that I am more productive by far if I have a fire lit under my butt, because if I don’t, I tend not to prioritize writing. Which is lame, because I love writing. 

That being said, I think I am currently behind on all fronts, but I am also doing far more writing/editing work each day than I was before I set my crazy deadlines, so even if I don’t make a single one of them, I will still come out ahead. I should at least be able to finish the final draft of DRACONIAN on time. Contrary to my fears, I have not been hating working on it. In fact, I’m loving this draft so much I’ve been working overtime and, consequently, slacking off on reading. I have hit a roadblock on BMT, but that always happens at least three times in the second draft stage, so I just need to be a big girl and power through it. And I am making a little bit of headway on my novella sideproject. You can sort of track my progress here, but I’m finding I’m kind of terrible at remembering to update my word counts, so most of the time it will probably only be accurate for DRACONIAN. 

But back to blogging. I am hoping, hoping, hoping to be able to, as soon as possible, reach a state of equilibirum where I can post reviews on Mondays and regular posts on Thursdays (reviews being the first to go if I get too busy). I had meant to start that schedule last week, but I’m in a weird rut where I’ve been coming up with ideas and drafting them like crazy, only to lose myself in other edits and forget to finish getting anything ready to post. So I have the material, I just have to prioritize it a bit more. One thing I have done to maybe help myself out a little on the blogging front is organization (Yay! Scrivener index cards! Color-coding! Scrivenings!). 

In summary, I am busy, busy, busy, and I'm having lots of fun, but I need to ease up on the throttle a little so I can get more reading done, which will help with my anxiety. 

Before I go, can I just say? This music video is weirdly inspiring and I love it probably more than I should. That is all. 

What about you, my little coffee beans? What projects have you been working on lately (writing or otherwise)? What are some ways you deal with stress? Do you struggle with balance? What are some weirdly inspiring things you’ve stumbled across recently?