Monday, July 30, 2012

Book Recommendations

Any of you lingering in reading limbo, waiting for the next good read? Here's a list of books I really loved, so if you're itching for something new, check some of them out!

Adult Fantasy:

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

  • This is my favorite book of all time. Best magic system I've ever read.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

  • Real shocker, here.

Blackdog by K.V. Johansen

  • Absolutely beautiful writing, and, if I remember correctly, it's a Tibetan-based culture, so not your standard fantasy. Not crazy about the ending, but it's an amazing book.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

  • I think I talk about this book more than any other on this blog. It. Is. Amazing. Go read it.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneggar

  • Don't judge a book by its movie.

Young Adult:

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

  • Not your standard YA-read. Full fantasy with a heavy Asian culture, two-book series. Very well done.

Everneath by Brodi Ashton

  • This is a page turner! Part of the ending didn't work for me, but the overall book is really good, even if the cover drives me nuts.

I Am NOT A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

  • Horror/thriller, but not super scary. This is considered adult in the UK. VERY good read, amazing protagonist, but it does talk about corpses a lot.

Other Genres:

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

  • This is an amazing read. It's "historical" fiction, based on the idea of the U.S. government sending white brides to the Indians to civilize them. I loved this.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

  • Been a while since I read this, but it really stood out to me. So interesting! Historical fiction.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

  • I haven't seen the movie, but the book is great. Very insightful, and Gilbert has a great sense of humor. "When God closes a door, he opens a box of girl scout cookies."

Friday, July 27, 2012

FOLLOWED BY FROST Complete! (And Link Blitz)

Wednesday, July 25, I finished my sixth novel, FOLLOWED BY FROST. :)

This is my first Young Adult book, my first 1st-person POV novel, and the first thing I've ever written for a female audience (as opposed to both genders).

I also broke two personal records! Fastest draft and most words written in one day.

Previously, CITY OF TEETH had been my fastest draft at two months. I finished FOLLOWED BY FROST in 29 days.*

Previously, my highest word count for one day was 7,000. To finish FOLLOWED BY FROST, I wrote 9,000 words on Wednesday. Still not sure how I did that one. Hopefully the pacing in the last four chapters isn't horrid...

I didn't put together much of a soundtrack for this one, but I was inspired in part by this song:

So there you have it! I've shipped off my draft to alpha readers. If you read or write YA, and you wouldn't mind beta-reading for me (I'm a little out of my element), please drop me a note! :)

Onto the blitz!

Writer's Potpourri:

A Writer's Hierarchy of Needs by Cindy Keen Reynders

The Five Mistakes Killing Self-published Authors

Blogger Beware: You CAN Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog--My Story

Going Both Ways: Outlines for Plot, Pantser for Character

Other Babble:

Happy Mail Sign-up! (A great idea from Juliana L. Brandt if you want some extra encouragement in your writing!)

I Tried on Spanx and Almost Called 911

*Granted, FBF is also almost 20,000 words shorter...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Out of Space and Finishing a Draft

I have officially run out of places to staple my rejection letters.

And this is only one side of my cubicle...

Perhaps it's fortunate that I'll be moving in two weeks, and will then have a larger space to hang these...

In other news, I'm finishing my draft of FOLLOWED BY FROST this week! That means I finished a book in one month, which beats my past record of two. (Granted, this is a little shorter than CITY OF TEETH.)

Have you guys seen the cover for SHARDS & ASHES? I'm crazy about it because it totally matches my WIP:

So I pinned it to my inspiration board, an idea I got from Lisa Ann Chickos (and if you don't follow her, you should!)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Family Portrait

Ah, family.

We took this at my parents' house yesterday.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Link Blitz: Flu Edition

Have you ever played the game, "Never Never Have I Ever?"

It's a group game, where a person says something they've never done, and everyone who has done it either loses a point or must get up and switch seats with someone (kind of like Fruit Basket).

Three things I always got people out with were:

Never never have I ever owned high heels. (My husband is 5'6", so this worked out well.)
Never never have I ever dyed my hair.
Never never have I ever had the flu...

...until now.

Tuesday night and Wednesday I had a nasty sore throat that my Zicam just couldn't conquer. Add stuffy nose Wednesday evening. Then cue me screaming "Are you freaking kidding me?!" as I destroy my seven-year-no-puking streak by upchucking that apple I ate into my sink.*

24 years without the flu... I'm hoping I recover quickly because I have plans for this weekend! (EVERYONE FEEL BAD FOR ME THANKS)

Writer's Potpourri:

What Every Scene Needs

Ten Tips to Help Aspiring Writers Stretch Their Fiction

Writing What You Don't Know

The Ten Commandments for Writers

The Muse Online Writers Conference

Figuring Out Where Your Pacing Went Wrong

Other Babble:

10 of the Greatest YA Series of All Time

*TMI WARNING: I have this thing where I have to stand up to successfully vomit, so it's always sinks over toilets...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet Leigh Covington

Hi Charlie!!! Thanks for having me over!

What’s your name, and where are you from?
 My super-secret identity is Leigh Covington! Bahahaha! I am from a teeny-tiny town in northern Utah. We haven't had much here except farms and horse fields until about 10 years ago. Now we have a doctor’s office, pharmacy, and a few other things. It's crazy. I like living in a small town, but I also love to visit the "city." 

How long have you been writing?
 Oh gosh! I've really been writing since elementary school, just never realizing I might use it to be published one day. I loved English and I loved writing stories. As I got older people were always asking me to write poems for gifts, or plays or skits. It was always fun and one day I decided to start fooling around with picture books which eventually turned to YA Fantasy. And hopefully one day I'll have published copies that others can enjoy!

What genre(s) do you write?
 Right now I'm writing a YA Fantasy, but I'd like to fool around with YA contemporary as well. Even MG would be fun. Apparently I love everything!

What’s your current WIP? Can you tell us about it?
 Sure! My current WIP is a YA Fantasy called STAIN. Here's a little blurb...
When Skye escapes slavery on The Island, all she wants is to find her mom. Instead, she's finds herself thrown into a  war with an underground group that is trying to defeat the king. She soon learns that having freedom doesn't mean life is easy, especially when she might be the key to the kings downfall.

What’s your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing?
 Right now I am a stay-at-home mom, but I might be in the market for a job. We're trying to decide. Kids can be the ultimate inspiration, especially if you're writing in that age group. At the same time, I have a lot of responsibility managing three crazy children so my writing time isn't always interruption-free. In fact, I usually have to write when they go to sleep. Then I write until my eyes blur. That's when it's time for bed. Leaves me a little tired at times, but it's worth it!

Who is your favorite author?
 Impossible to pick just one... I loved reading Mary Higgins Clark in high school. I also love John Grisham and Dan Brown. From there it has escalated to J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Elana Johnson!

Favorite book?
 Hard questions!!! Definitely the Harry Potter series and the Hunger Games Trilogy!

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing?
 I think part of my problem is that I like SO MANY THINGS! I love to read (of course), I love to visit our farm and ride the horses, love hiking, sometimes baking, I do crafts and photography, love 4-wheeling and boating and camping. Hmmm, I know there's more, but that's a good start!

What is something unique about yourself?
 In school I always got the "most talkative" awards as well as "biggest flirt." Yeah, that tells you a little something about me. I tend to be completely inappropriate at all the wrong times. And I despise wearing dresses. I'm most comfortable in jeans and t-shirt. Dresses drive me crazy. I also tend to change my haircut and hair color quite often.

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Web site we can link to?
My blog:
Something to Write About on FB:

Thanks so much Charlie! This has been so much fun! I'm glad I had the opportunity to share! You're amazing!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Book Parodies, Spoofs, and Jokes, Oh My!

Sometimes the best part of a good (or, especially, bad) book is the way people make fun of it. I finally watched Ellen Degeneres's "reading" of 50 Shades of Grey, and it gave me the idea to share a few chuckle-worthy videos.

Please share any of your own in the comments below, I'd love to see them!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Charlie's Quick-n-Dirty Guide to Utah Cupcakes

I'm not the sort of gal who bakery hops. I'm that annoying person who, when the Web team at works announces they're going to Carl's Jr. to pick up lunch, I remind them that "Carl's Jr is bad for you."

But I have, on occasion, craved a cupcake, and happen to be a fan of Cupcake Wars, despite having only seen maybe three or four episodes since I don't have cable. There are a lot of bakeries around Utah, especially in the downtown area. In a mood for a cupcake? Here's my 411 on some of the popular bakeries:

So Cupcake is located at 3939 S. Highland Drive in Salt Lake City (more specifically, Holladay.) It shares the building with Cruzrs Saloon. It's a small but cozy shop.


The customer service isn't stellar, and neither are the cupcakes. "Utah's Best Cupcake"? I don't think so. If you're hankering for anything sweet, they'll satisfy, but I prefer more bang for my calorie.


The Sweet Tooth Fairy has several locations throughout the state--the one I visited was in the Family Center at Fort Union, 1140. Cute little shop, good service, though I think I might have unnerved the cashier with my "these better be awesome" attitude. But The Sweet Tooth Fairy has something extra to tout: they actually won Cupcake Wars. With flying colors, might I add.


Good cupcakes--even their cream cheese frosting was pretty good, and I'm not a fan. Better than So Cupcake, but I didn't think it lived up to the hype. I tried three different cupcakes, too, though their cake bites are pretty tasty.


The Cocoa Bean Cupcake Cafe is located in Provo on 1774 N University Parkway. They have a strict cupcake schedule, so if your favorite (the smores one, of course) is only served on a Friday, you'd better hope that sugar-hankering comes on a Friday. They're a cute little shop that also does lemonades and Italian sodas.


These are the best cupcakes--the best CAKE, period--I've ever had. Ever. Better, even, than PF Chang's Great Wall of Chocolate. Six-out-of-five-stars good. Even if you're not in the mood for dessert, you will be. I recommend The Cocoa Bean with every sweet-craving taste bud I have.

Think you know a cupcake that can compete? Please tell me about it in the comments below!

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Favorite Tip for Writing Romance

I've been doing some reading on writing romance as of late, since my current work-in-progress has a strong romantic sub-genre (I don't know if I'd actually call it romantic fantasy, though. My alpha readers will have to tell me.) After much blog-hopping and library checking-outing, however, one tip has stood out to me more than the rest:

Exaggerated Awareness.

It's the idea that every glance and every touch is exaggerated in writing. Brushing shoulders with a stranger is hardly noticed, whereas brushing shoulders with that someone sends lightning bolts through your body. Each half of the potential couple is extremely aware of the other person. Not only does exaggerated awareness really get across to the reader that something is going on, but it's completely true in real life as well, which, I think, makes it hit home.

Do you have any tips for writing romance, or ever struggled with it? Please share! I would love to hear everyone's thoughts.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Someday Stars: Meet Rachel Oaks

What’s your name, and where aremyse you from?
My name is Rachel Oaks and I'm from Orem, Utah.

How long have you been writing?
I became dedicated to writing in junior high, which was when I first had an audience of my peers. Even though writing is something I do crouched over a computer or notebook, I'm not a terribly introverted person, so I thrive off of lots of immediate feedback.

What genre(s) do you write?
I'm most interested in magical realism. Day-to-day life can be absurd and fantastic, and I like see that stretched a little bit further. I also write a great deal of fantasy, but I prefer to collaborate on those projects for many reasons, the chief being I'm not a very dedicated world builder.

What’s your current WIP? Can you tell us about it?
I'm the co-creator and scriptwriter for a webcomic called Children of Eldar. It's a fantasy about three young friends who are thrown into a war-worn world on the brink of annihilation. They band together in the face of xenophobia, captivity, and a demon army set on devouring every living body on the planet. As they become familiar with the people and cultures of their new world, they find things worth fighting for. The artist, my fellow creator, is the remarkably innovative Jemma Young, and the comic will be online in March 2013.

What’s your current day job? How does it help or hinder your writing?
I'm an English teacher in Japan. The experience is stocking my arsenal with good material, but the hours and workload are not highly conducive to writing as such.

Who is your favorite author?
I enjoy Aimee Bender, because she writes simple and lovely stories about sad and lonely characters.

Favorite book?
My favorite books are the ones that help me understand my own current situation better, and I read Bender's An Invisible Sign of My Own at exactly the time I needed to. 

What other hobbies or activities do you do outside of writing?
I like to travel, and I try to take a trip every month or so. The train system here makes with really easy to get places, even though I don't have a car. My most recent trip in Japan was to Mount Koya, which is the headquarters for a Shingon sect of Buddism. I stayed at a temple, ate tofu, tried their outdoor bath, and sat so still for their morning ceremony my legs fell asleep. I couldn't even stand on my own afterward!

What is something unique about yourself?
My belly button. It's sort of an inny that wants to be an outie.

Do you have a blog, Twitter, and/or Web site we can link to?
My tumblr is Sunny in Seto.

You can see a pretty teaser picture of Children of Eldar at Eldar Chronicles  until March of next year. After that, it will be replaced by a comic that will rock your world, probably.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

God Bless America!

Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Americans! Hope your festivities go without hitch, and without fire. (There are nine wildfires currently consuming Utah... makes the sunset look a little creepy.)

In celebration of our country's 236th birthday, here's a patriotic clip from last year's America's Got Talent that I really, really loved.

Tomorrow is another Someday Stars interview! Please pop by and offer our fellow aspiring writer some encouragement. ;)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dora the Explorer and Charlie Thinks Outside the Box

So I was going to post pictures from the Lehi Days parade today, but I left my camera at my friend's and thusly do not have access to said pictures. So, instead, here's an awesome "movie" trailer from College Humor:

CollegeHumor’s Favorite Funny Videos

In writing news, I've suddenly changed directions. Whilst taking a stair lap at work, the prologue to FOLLOWED BY FROST (FBF), a story idea I had jotted down but lost interest in, suddenly came to me, and now I've put THE SONG OF SAGRIN on hold and have completed the FBF's first chapter, which is in FIRST PERSON, of all things. Anyone who's read any of my crap knows I'm a strict third-person-limited kind of gal. Not only that, but this story may very be categorized as Young Adult. 

What is the world coming to???

But I'm really excited about this project right now, and looking at it, I think it's a better fit for the current market than my usual epic fantasy. Never hurts to think outside the box (though let's face it, I'm still cuddled up to it fairly closely).

At this rate I should be able to finish the first draft in a couple months, so fingers crossed!