Thursday, March 28, 2013

Progress, Goals and Happy Easter!

   I am going to be busy with my family and writing this weekend and will "try" to ignore my blog until A to Z April starts.  Between blogging, writing, homeschooling and traveling to a wedding, April is going to be a busy month.  I'm posting my March progress and April goals now while I have a minute!
     I haven't made all of my goals for March yet but I still have a few days.  I am so close to finishing the first draft of my book.  Its hard to make myself do anything else but write.  I want to reach that mile stone so much.  I expect to be done before April begins.  I only read one YA book this month but now that we are on spring break and I don't have any lessons to prepare I should be able to get that done as well.  I hope!   A relaxing book sounds perfect right now.  I ended up working on character development more than the outline of my next book.  I'm ok with that.  Its a vital step. So, in other words, if I work at it I should be able to achieve my goals but if I don't I am still pleased with my progress.
    April is going to be crazy.  Every time I blink, something else shows up on my calendar.  Its insane.  My only real goal for April is to do the A-Z challenge.  I am excited to be apart of it this year!  I would like to write a bit on my next project while the characters feel so fresh and alive in my head but I want to keep it light and easy this month, so I'm not setting a word count goal. 
    I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter.  I shared this Bible verse last year and I'm going to include it again this year. 

John 3:14-17 
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;  so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him

Its hard to stay focused on the real reason for the holiday and not get wrapped up in all of the hype.  I am trying to keep the meaning in Easter for my children this year in much the same way that I did last year.    The main difference is that we are a 39 hour drive from the people we usually celebrate with so I'm trying to keep my little ones busy enough that they don't get to sad about it.

Happy Easter and see you all next month!

Monday, March 25, 2013


  I know what I am doing for the A-Z blog hop!  My six year old has recently turned into a bookworm.  If it has words, he will read it.  I love that about him.  One problem is that he always wants to read over my shoulder when I am typing (and add hilarious commentaries on my word choices). Since I write YA I don't always want him reading my work.  Its just to mature for his age. I'm sharing all of this because it gave me an idea.  I am going to write a short children's story for each letter.  The letter will have something to do with the plot or setting.  My kids will love having a new story each day and I'm hoping that some other blogger has the kid over shoulder problem and will appreciate something they can share with eager young eyes and ears.
I can't wait to meet the rest of the A-Z bloggers in April!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My book has a name!

  So, I am always talking about the book I am writing and how it has no name.  Besides that, I say very little that would hint to its contents.  Today I'm going to share just a tiny bit to let everyone know more about what it is I am typing madly away at day after day.  This may or may not be included in the finished book but I think it gives you an idea of what its about.

     Screams echoed through the night followed by a deep, ominous silence.    Cazden felt as if he were frozen in place.  How could one spend a lifetime protecting someone and then just walk away, knowing that they were going to die?  A slight movement coming from the bundle in his arms snapped him back to focus.  This was who he had to protect now and protect he would, even if it cost him his own life.

As of today, this book is no longer nameless!  I am calling it "Awaken".  It will hopefully be the first in a trilogy which I've been calling the Guardian Legacies.  That could very well change but I think "Guardian" will be included in it somehow.  Now, back to typing...

Book Review- A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

            A while back I reviewed Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund.  I loved it so much that I signed up to help promote her latest book "A Noble Groom".  This is the first book that I have ever read before it was officially released!   I receive review books all the time but somehow an advanced copy seemed extra exciting. 
             Annalisa has a love for fairy tales but her own life experiences squelched any hope that such stories could be true. When her husband died, he left her and her daughter nothing but bad memories and debt. The farm she lives on will only remain hers if she can manage to pay the loan on time.  Her family steps in to help in the only way that they know how.  They send for a relative from the Old country to marry her and care for the farm.  The man who arrives is not her relative but a man named Carl Richards, who claims to be a school teacher.   Annalisa accepts his help but keeps her distance, at least she tries to.  It is almost impossible to do when he is the first man who has ever treated her as the strong and capable individual she is.  Just when she is ready to let him in, disaster strikes and threatens to ruin everything.
           The story takes place in Michigan during 1880 and depicts some of the difficulties that faced German immigrants during this era. I think setting and the characters are the strongest elements of this book. Both of the main characters start out with major weaknesses that they overcome by the end of the story.  I enjoyed watching Annalisa find her voice and Carl let go of his past.  Carl is not a typical hero.  He is barely strong enough for farm work and he knows much more about science then manual labor, yet he is every bit a gentleman.  It was good to see a man portrayed as more than something brawny to look at.
           Overall, I enjoyed this book.  It was somewhat predictable but  still entertaining.  It is a good cozy afternoon type of book. 

To learn more check out the author's website.
It can be purchased here.
For anyone that enjoys writing I would recommend reading Jody Hedlund's blog.  I am always finding useful information there.
       I received an advance copy of this book from Bethany house publishing in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Review- Slammed by Colleen Hoover

  Up until this point I have only written reviews for Christian books.  Since I  am writing young adult fiction I am going to start including reviews in that genre as well.  In case anyone is like me and doesn't appreciate excess language, gore or sex I will include my rating of these topics at the end of the review.

   "Slammed" by Colleen Hoover begins with a quote from The Avett Brother's song "Salina"
"I'm as nowhere as I can be, Could you add some somewhere to me?"  This quote sets a perfect tone for the story of eighteen year old Layken, a girl who has just lost her father and is forced to move far away from everything she knows.   When she and her family arrive at their new home they are greeted by a boy that is the same age as her younger brother.  He isn't alone.  His older brother, Will, is close behind.  As one would expect he goes out of his way to make Lake feel at home.  Soon the two are on a first date and Lake finds herself falling for her handsome and sensitive neighbor until circumstances that neither one saw coming force them apart.  The only thread left between them is their mutual love for poetry.
   The basic story line isn't what sets this book apart. Its the characters themselves. I could feel their emotions as their worlds were being torn apart. Lake and Will's love for each other was deeper than just fate or physical attraction.  The devotion each of them had to their younger brothers and their love for words formed a strong bond that added so much depth to the relationship.  Will's passion for slam poetry made the story unique and added yet another way to delve into the emotions of the characters.
     I loved the characters in this book.  They seemed so raw and real.  The dedication that both Will and Lake showed to their families was refreshing.  The plot was a bit predictable but it was strong enough to be compelling.  The usage of poetry added so much emotional impact and lent a dream like quality to the writing.

  I think this book would be classified as New Adult, not Young Adult, but I'm not certain.  I thought it was more appropriate for older teens and up.   It did have a generous sprinkling of language but considering the context it wasn't out of place.  The main characters had a few emotionally charged romantic moments but nothing explicit. 

My friend and fellow blogger, Jocelyn Charette, chose this book to read and review.  Click on her name if you would like to read her review.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wandering Thoughts

    What an interesting day today was.  I am so glad that my children are tucked in bed and sound asleep.  I'm hoping they learned the valuable lessons that I was trying to instill in them.  Lessons such as:
  1. Dirty underwear make a terrible hat.  
  2. If you have to scale a pile of boxes to reach something, you probably don't need that item.
  3. If you have to try to lasso something with a jump rope in order to reach a different item, you probably don't need it either.
  4. While you are on top of the boxes, attempting to use a plastic hanger to zip line across the closet is also a bad idea.
  5. Sadly gummy worms are not high on the nutritional scale.
  6. Dancing and napping are not the same thing.
Yes, that pretty much sums up my day.  Now I am resting up before I attempt to put the house back together.  My ice cream maker is humming in the other room. A day like today calls for home made blackberry vanilla bean frozen yogurt. 

    Now that I've shared all of those amazing lessons with you I suppose I should get around to the main reason for this post, my writing!  So far setting monthly goals is  working beautifully for me.  I feel more relaxed and that keeps my writing fun, which is how I like it!  I am less than 10,000 words from where I want to be at the end of the month, I am over halfway through my reading goal and I have a start on my outline for my next project.  Now I need a name for my current work...  Why is finding the right title so hard?  Maybe the frozen yogurt will help.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

50,000 Words

   I am so happy that I just have to share.  My story is 50,000 words long!  I was so filled with doubts that I would never be able to write anything novel length but I am doing it! So far I am right on target for my March goals.  I will hopefully have a complete first draft very, very soon.  Now I'm going to go write an outline the old fashioned way.  My hands need a break from typing and sometimes a pen and paper is just plain soothing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Boiled Peanuts

      I have managed to live in Florida for several months without trying boiled peanuts but today I gave in.    I can't decide if like them or if I hate them.My kids were begging to taste some and the nice lady at the store let us have a sample.  The kids thought they were the best thing ever.  I thought they were....  I'm not sure what I thought, but the texture was much different then what I was expecting.  We do not boil peanuts where I come from. 
    What this has to do with anything, I really don't know but I had to share anyway.  I am loving all of the new experiences and subtle ( mostly subtle!) cultural differences between here and the other places I have lived.  The more of the world I see, the more resources I have to weave into stories and the more of the world I want to see.  For now I am content to explore the beautiful area I have landed in but part of me is ready for the next adventure.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Book Review- The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

       Combining elements from classics like "Jane Eyre" and "Pride and Prejudice", Julie Klassen weaves together an original yet somewhat familiar Regency era romance in her inspirational/historical  novel "The Tutor's Daughter".  The story is about Emma Smallwood, the daughter of a tutor in an all boy's school.  When her mother dies Emma finds herself worried not only about her father's health but for the family's dwindling income as well.  She is shocked when her father accepts a job as a private tutor at an estate by the sea.  Even though she is a person of routine she accompanies him and is reunited with two brothers that she knew from her youth.  One is dashing, well mannered and has had her eye for several years.   The other one used to tease her so horribly that she has trouble seeing past it enough to recognize the strong, levelheaded man he has become. She barely has a chance to set foot at the manor before she senses something is wrong.  Someone is hiding something.
      To be totally honest, I had trouble getting into this book.  I felt like I had read it before, it mirrored the classics so closely.  The over use of terms like "she wagged her eyebrows" irked me and I started picking apart the story and plot.  Once I pushed past the first quarter or so I began feel more sympathy for the characters and I enjoyed the similarities between Henry Weston and my childhood favorite, Mr. Darcy.  The storyline twisted in a way that made it unique and the mysterious secrets kept my mind turning over the possibilities.  The element of danger grew and the romance blossomed in a satisfying fashion.    I didn't really like Emma at the beginning of the book but as she grew in boldness and in faith I found her more agreeable.
    While this wasn't my favorite book I would recommend it to fans of Regency romance.  I think my problem was that I prefer the classics when it comes to this genre.  That and perhaps I couldn't relate to the neat and orderly Emma...

I received a free copy of this book to review from Bethany House Publishing.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March Writing Goals

          I learned something about myself in February.  Daily goals stress me out.  If I get a little behind I feel like a loser.  It doesn't matter if I did extra on a different day, I still feel like I failed.  This month I am going to set my goals for  for the entire month, not a goal for each day.
My goals are:
  • write 30,000 words on my novel
  • make a basic outline for my next book (I keep thinking about it, I may as well write it down!)
  • read two YA books
   I have a few other things I would like to accomplish but I am not going to set them as goals.  If I set to many I will stress myself out and probably not achieve any of them. I am slowly working through some books on writing and I will continue those.  I will also continue my book review books.
 Maybe I should write out monthly, not daily, house keeping goals too....  Its worth a try!