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26 Jun 2013

What's Up Wednesdays

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk.  Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading
I finished Leviathan! Yay! I wasn't hooked enough to rush and pick up the sequel.  Never say never but the second book definitely isn't the top of my reading priorities.  This is what I'm reading next:

2) What I'm Writing

Overall goal for Ready. Set. Write!: Complete July Camp NaNo to finish off the story I started in April's Camp NaNo and decided to put aside for a bit of a chill out.  Also complete the round of edits I'm doing for Beast Inside.  I'd like the 2nd and 3rd edits which I'm doing back to back to be finished by the end of summer.

Weekly goal for 26/06/2013: Chapter 22 for Beast Inside.

Done.  In the first draft it was quite a long chapter so I've had to chop it in half and the second part can be my Chapter 23.  

Weekly goal for 3/07/2013: Chapter 23 of Beast Inside and go over what I've written so far for Consequences so I know where I left of.  Start writing it again on 1st July for Camp NaNo.

3) What Else I've Been Up To

For research purposes (and fulfilling a dream, I'll admit) I've booked to go on an actual ghost hunt in August.  I get to use proper ghost hunting equipment and everything! I got to go to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park for the first time on a school trip today and decided I wanted a lemur. I'm not looking forward to waking up tomorrow and being unable to move a muscle after all the walking we did!

I had a training day last Friday and decided to take advantage of the playstation 3 and try out
Assassin's Creed II for the first time.  Seriously, I'm hooked.  And unable to look at buildings without thinking how I could climb up there.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

Music.  To get in the mood for my wannabe ghost hunter stories I've been listening to the playlists a lot.  These are my top two songs that fit Lapse and Consequences perfectly and get the inspiration going:

Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me

Lordi - Blood Red Sandman

25 Jun 2013

Book Haulin'

This weekend I had a bit of a book haul, flicking through kindle and getting a few books as well pre-ordering three books that I can not WAIT to get my claws on when they come out.

My haul:

Two sisters walk through a snowy wood, collecting pinecones for Christmas decorations. Something has frightened Marisa, and she’s about to explain it to Ryan, her younger sister, when she steps onto a patch of thin ice. Marisa plummets into the frigid water below, and though Ryan tries to save her, there’s nothing she can do. Even though the accident wasn’t her fault, Ryan is consumed by guilt. But guilt is not what she should be afraid of. Three weeks after Marisa’s death, Ryan sees her everywhere. At night she feels something following her, but when she turns around there’s nothing there. A creepy college friend of Marisa’s shows up at Ryan’s house, and her mother asks him to stay through Christmas. To free herself of guilt, Ryan must unlock Marisa’s terrible secret—before death takes her too.

Glanton House was Carolyn Baxter's new home, the haunted island retreat her widowed mother was determined to transform into an inn. As if in answer to her prayer, tall raven-haired Joss Whitcomb appeared at their door and offered to be the handyman in return for room and board. But Carolyn was wary. Joss was dark, compelling, dangerous. He was still a stranger, even after he saved her mother from a near-fatal accident. And now they were alone in the eerie house he seemed to know so well. He knew the legend of the jealous sea captain doomed to kill again and again. But did he hear the ghostly whispers echoing through the halls at night? Did he know the unseen eyes that followed her every move? Who was Joss? Why was he here? How could she trust this devastating drifter when she feared for her life . . .?

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

And my pre-orders:

Get ready for laughter to turn into screams in R.L. Stine's re-imagining of Shakespeare's classic romantic comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Everyone knows that Mayhem Manor is cursed. After production on the horror film was stopped due to a series of mysterious deaths, it became a Hollywood legend--which makes it perfect for Claire and her family. If they can successfully finish the film, it should be enough to save their ailing movie studio.

Sure, the old haunted house is creepy, and strange stuff has been happening, but this is Claire's chance. Her chance to become the movie star she's always dreamed and her chance to finally convince her friend Jake that she is girlfriend material. Of course, the fact that Jake thinks he's in love with her best friend, Delia, who is crushing hard on Jake's friend Shawn, who insists on following Claire around, could be a problem, but Claire is sure she can figure it out. After all, the course of true love never did run smooth.

But once shooting starts, "creepy and strange" morph into "bloody and deadly," as the lines between film and reality begin to blur.

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

 Old Gods never die…

Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.

Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.

These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.

Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.

Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.

The Goddess War is about to begin.

What new and exciting books have you hunted down recently? :)

19 Jun 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk.  Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading
I actually haven't been reading since Wednesday, using my time for writing instead.  But I think I'm going to start a second book to help me get back on track.  Maybe it'll push me to finish Leviathan.

2) What I'm Writing
I'm participating in Ready. Set. Write! so I have a few writing goals from now to August 28th:

Overall goal: Complete July Camp NaNo to finish off the story I started in April's Camp NaNo and decided to put aside for a bit of a chill out.  Also complete the round of edits I'm doing for Beast Inside.  I'd like the 2nd and 3rd edits which I'm doing back to back to be finished by the end of summer.

Weekly goal for 19/06/2013: Finish Chapter 21 in Beast Inside.  Do more planning on Consequences.

Didn't plan but I worked on Beast Inside, writing up the edits for Chapters 18 to 20 on my laptop which is my third draft and handwriting Chapter 21, my second draft.  I think it's a strange way to edit but writing the 2nd draft by hand and then writing up the 3rd edit on the laptop sort of back to back has helped me keep track of the improvements I need to make each time. 

Weekly goal for 26/06/2013: Chapter 22 for Beast Inside.

3) What Else I've Been Up To
Doing more work on Super Awesome Display at work, tried out a zumba class today - loved it and I'm going back next week - and bought a couple of things when I saw a huge sale sign at Paperchase. 

I got a travel wallet and this gorgeous notebook.  I'm supposed to be good but the cover was so pretty.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

I'm a huge superhero mood at the moment.  I'm slowly working my way through mine and Pete's Batman trilogy (Nolan's films) and I may have to have my weekly Avengers Assemble viewing at some point.  Superheroes will be a future writing project.  I need to write about superheroes in the near future. :)

To get me in the superhero mood this is a blast from my past.  I loved this cartoon when I was a child and the music gets me all nostalgic.

And this song from Poets of the Fall is an excellent superhero song.

17 Jun 2013

When Research Can Be Fun...

Sometimes reading isn't enough for me.  I have tons of books on the paranormal for research purposes but one of my dreams when I have a car is to travel around to these haunted areas for setting, atmosphere and experience.

If I have the opportunity I love to experience as part of my research.  To know what it feels like to walk the streets hoping there isn't a zombie around the corner.  To spend the night in a known haunted hotel.

In three weeks I'm getting chased by zombies again for 2.8 Hours Later and if you're wanting to write a zombie novel this is an awesome way to research.  You really get into survival mode.  While I knew this was all a game when we started walking from the starting area, away from the registration point and into a deserted area my heart couldn't stop pounding and we actually had to stop at one point because we were convinced we heard rustling in the bushes.  We were so sure a zombie was there, lurking.

Now I have an opportunity to act like my ghost hunting characters in Lapse and Consequences.

Haunted Happenings organises ghost hunts around some of the most haunted locations in the UK.  An experienced team of ghost hunters invites anyone who has interests in ghosts to come along and take part in their investigations.  You get to use their equipment and carry out your own vigils.  I've always wanted to go on a ghost hunt but since these two WiPs have focused on ghost hunting it's the perfect research not just to experience a ghost hunt and get into character but to learn more about the process and what people use to conduct investigations.  There's one coming up in August at a museum which is right near where I live so me and Pete are going to book and take part.  I can't wait to learn things for my two WiPs!

 Have you ever ventured out for research? Gone to the places that inspired your WiPs setting? Tried out a hobby your character likes to understand it? :)

12 Jun 2013

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly feature created by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk.  Perfect for readers and writers who want to share what they've been up to on a weekly basis and right now the place to share your goals and track your progress for Ready. Set. Write!

1) What I'm Reading
Leviathan... *le sigh* The action is finally coming and I'm 300 pages in now so I'll see how the end goes.  But overall it's just gone so slow and I haven't been hooked at all.

2) What I'm Writing
I'm participating in Ready. Set. Write! so I have a few writing goals from now to August 28th:

Overall goal: Complete July Camp NaNo to finish off the story I started in April's Camp NaNo and decided to put aside for a bit of a chill out.  Then I have a duology completed and ready to edit.  I really wanted Lapse and Consequences to be the start of a paranormal series but it doesn't feel right to extend it.  The story's going to end nicely in Consequences and I'm quite happy with that.

Also complete the round of edits I'm doing for Beast Inside.  I'd like the 2nd and 3rd edits which I'm doing back to back to be finished by the end of summer.

Weekly goal for 19/06/2013: Finish Chapter 21 in Beast Inside.  Do more planning on Consequences.

3) What Else I've Been Up To
Gym, super awesome display project at work, jotting down notes for other projects, driving lessons, and getting all the fiddly bits sorted out for Rome.

4) What Inspires Me Right Now

Ghost hunting shows.  They can be super fake and OTT acting but it gets me in the mood for Consequences which involves the death of a ghost hunting reality show in my wannabe ghost investigators' hometown.

This theme tune:

And these photos of Apocalypse Britain

10 Jun 2013

Ready and Set! Writing with Others...

On Elodie's blog I caught this post on the summer writing intensive Ready. Set. Write! created by Elodie, Katy Upperman, Erin L. Funk, Alison Miller, and Jaime Morrow.  For two months starting on June 11th you can set up your own writing goals, weekly or monthly for first drafts, revisions, editing, anything to do with writing.  You can also join in What's Up Wednesdays to put up your weekly achievements and what you've been up to writing wise as a way of tracking your progress and seeing how everyone else is getting on.

I quite liked the idea of this summer writing session because you have freedom on what you're working on.  The first stages of editing or revising can seem like a lonely project.  It's only you who knows how the editing is going and sometimes you need a few people around wanting to achieve the same thing.  Work and motivate each other.  So I went for it.  It sounds like a great, fun opportunity.

If you're interested you can sign up tomorrow June 11th and post up your targets and goals on Wednesday.  :)

7 Jun 2013

Book Review - Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...

You can always expect an honest exploration of teenage sexuality in Keplinger's books, mainly for females and I do appreciate that bravery and honesty.  In Shut Out Keplinger deals with the idea of what's 'normal' in female sexuality, that's it's fine to have had sex and not to have sex.  YA books can be criticised for including sexuality.  People will always protest the idea of teens having sex so I like to see a book that shows how girls feel about their sexual experiences or lack of.  Teens will have sex so maybe the idea isn't to try and force abstinence down their throats but show how they can have these experiences responsibly.  If they want to have sex, talk to them and teach them responsibilities and if they don't, let them know that their choice is perfectly fine.

I respect Keplinger's message but I don't think we this message came through in the book very well and the author did fall into creating double standards.  See we have our main character Lissa who is tired of being ignored and abandoned so her boyfriend can have fights with and prank their school's soccer team.  Sometimes they're in the middle of foreplay and she's dropped within seconds because of this football vs soccer rivalry.  So she's sick of it.  I appreciate a heroine who will not be shoved around so when she gathers all the girlfriends of both sport teams to talk about their problems and sort something out I'm cheering.  But I don't think I like the way it was handled. 

I understand the story was inspired by Lysistrata but when this sex strike ends up as a rivalry between girls and boys and they start to tease each other I honestly don't think it's the best message to be sending out.  Be a tease to make a point.  The book made it out that it was fine for the girls to tease but not when the boys did.  Personally I don't think either gender should be teases.  And the way the girls agree that a sex strike would really make the boys listen is only implying to me that all men are sex obsessed.  The boys in this book have sex, fight, and play immature pranks on each other.  That's all they seem to do so while Keplinger's promoting female empowerment she does end up showing a bit of sexism towards males.  I have plenty of male friends in high school.  Some were a bit sex obsessed but some weren't.  It does make me want to see some YA books that explore a teenage boy's sexuality because they go through the same crap females do and unfortunately I think the boys tend to be overlooked.  I've known boys who have been terribly insecure and I'd like to see them have access to books that go through their problems.

There's always a neat little ending to Keplinger's books.  The girl gets the guy and the romance she wanted.  I would like to see a Keplinger book where the FMC is quite happy being on her own.  It's just as powerful to show a female character who can accept being single for the time being.  Not every girl has a boyfriend or doesn't want a boyfriend so I think we need to show those girls in books just as much.

It's an easy book to get through.  Light and quick.  But the messages are a little muddled which meant I had to give it three stars in the end.

5 Jun 2013

RTW - Best book of the month

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic. 

This Week's Topic: What was the best book you read in May?

Last month I started The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington at the beginning of May and then moved onto Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld which has been a slow one for me.  So the best book has to go to...

The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington 

 It was a quick book to get through with a fast enough pace. I did like the focus was always on the
mystery and didn't have any chapters or scenes that was just waffle. It suited Jade's situation. She was living in a haunted house with a very angry ghost who threatened to harm her family if Jade didn't find the murderer. Poor Jade was on a bit of a timer.

For people who don't like horror I would still say this would be a good read. The paranormal/horror elements aren't as frequent as you would expect from a haunted house story. It's really more about the mystery: Who murdered Kayla Sloane?

I liked the MC. She was quite happy to move to a bigger house and bigger town. Her relationship with her stepmother was a little hostile but she never whined about it and always had her focus on more important things. She sort of blended into her new school, nervous but still quite happy being herself and not all worried about being in a clique and not purposely wanting to be an outsider.

There is romance but again that isn't the focus of the plot and when there might have been a time for romance the ghost happily lets Jade and the readers know this is neither the time nor the place for concentrating on boyfriends. Even with two male characters who are interested in her there is no love triangle. Jade makes it clear from the start that she isn't interested in Kane which is quite a relief to see. Most female characters these days lead the two male LIs along, switching from one to the other.

I would say the murderer was predictable but it was still entertaining to read. Everyone had their secrets that had some tiny part in the events leading up to Kayla's death and it was fun putting the pieces and the overall story together as the book went on.


3 Jun 2013

A Bit of Regeneration Can Help

Sad news in Doctor Who fandom as Matt Smith announces he'll be leaving the show.  And as usual speculation on who will be the next Doctor comes up immediately or angry readers shake their fists and claim never to watch the show again.

Photo credit
For 50 years Doctor Who has been famous for it's multiple actors who have all played the character
of The Doctor, an eccentric alien who travels through time and space and always ends up walking into trouble wherever he goes.  There are times when the Doctor is fatally wounded and he cheats death through regeneration.  Hence all the actors who play him.  I don't know how fans reacted in the old Doctor Who series but one thing I've noticed in the new series is that some fans don't necessarily like the change of actor.  I know when David Tennant left there was a huge uproar.  People claimed nobody else could ever be the Doctor.  David Tennant was THE Doctor and if he was leaving fans wouldn't be watching it anymore.

Regeneration is part of who the Doctor is and I don't mind it.  I've always seen regeneration as character development.  Again, I'd need some perspective on the old series but I've noticed that the Doctor does tend to regenerate whenever there's been a major change in his personality.  Christopher Eccleston's Doctor was fresh out of the Time War and a less eccentric version of the Doctor that older fans would have been used to seeing.  He was damaged and very guilt ridden.  By this point he has seen way too many people, including his own race, die so at the very beginning of the new series he does seem a bit anti-social.  He's used to bad things happening.  Yet towards the end of season one he saved many people and it gave him a sense of hope (see The Doctor Dances).  He softens up with a new companion and seeing people survive.  By the end of season one when he's starting to gain a sense of hope again he's taken in the time vortex to save Rose and sacrifice himself.  Cue regeneration number one of the season.  His personality has changed a lot since episode one and now he's physically changing.  Enter David Tennant's Doctor.

This tenth Doctor still had a darker side but he was definitely a bit more upbeat and had a whole new perspective on life.  He was very determined to save people, possibly to make up for past actions and thought it was still achievable.  Unfortunately his determination to save people becomes an obsession as he starts to save people who should have died, part of a fixed point in time.  As David Tennant's era went on his Doctor was once again seeing more people die, this time in his place.  He had lost one companion forever, one had her memory wiped in order to save her life, and another decided to return home after one season.  Loneliness was a huge part of the tenth Doctor's life and by the end of his era he was set on saving people and not seeing any more loss.  It was this change in personality where we learnt David Tennant was leaving and Matt Smith took his place as the eleventh Doctor.

Again, as soon as Matt Smith's Doctor appeared he was a completely different person.  Smith was this bubbly fresh of breath air.  It was a fresh start for this Doctor.  He was excitable, childish, and by this time every companion he has known, past and current has a special place in both his hearts.  Also by now, he has set himself as a saviour, a dangerous enemy, and a companion's hero.  He had a thousand names, a reputation and at one point being known like this had all his enemies work together in order to save the world from him.  That really shook him up a little.  Matt Smith's Doctor really explored who he was to the universe.  And then thanks to Oswin Oswald he was erased from the Dalek's memory base.  He also faked his death to remain hidden.  By what is now the end of Matt Smith's era as the Doctor, he has turned from a cheerful explorer to hiding in the shadows, not wanting to be known.  The mystery of who he is has never been focused on as much as is it now.  Darker sides of the Doctor are appearing more and there's this question of who John Hurt's Doctor may be.  All we know so far is if it is another incarnation it's one who broke everything the Doctor stands for.  Just in time for another regeneration and a new actor to step in and take the personality from there.  What will the twelfth (or thirteenth if rumours about Hurt being the ninth incarnation is true) be like in the wake of the eleventh Doctor's changes?

We'll always mourn the loss of a great Doctor but look forward to each regeneration.  It symbolises a pivotal stage in the Doctor's life. :)