Beautiful People: Author Edition

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I’m back! I’m finally better, and doing the Beautiful People (Author’s Edition) linkup hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In.

How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’?
I’ve been writing little stories ever since I learned how to scrawl down words on a piece of lined paper. The first book I ever finished was called James and the Big Blue Crain. It was for my brother James on his fourth birthday. I wrote it when I was five and I’m seriously thinking about publishing it. So I started when I was five. Which would make it about seven years ago. And I’ve been writing short stories and novels ever since.
I didn’t actually allow myself to consider myself a real ‘writer’ until I finished my first novel Hazel the Dreamer. (But secretly I’ve been considering myself a writer since I was ten. Don’t tell myself I said that.)

How/why did you start writing?
I started because I’ve always loved to read. After James and the Big Blue Crain, I took a break of about two years. Then I picked up Nancy Drew and loved the series. Then I learned that regular people publish books all the time. So the first thing I wrote for the intention of publishing was Me, April. I didn’t finish it, but I went on to write a mystery about April called April and Amy: First Case. I think it all started with April. I remember her fondly, but will never EVER try to get her published.

What’s your favorite part of writing?
The beginning of the whole process, when I come up with this idea, daydream about it nonstop, scribble down what ifs, and am sure THIS is the one that is going to be published.
When a select group of people read the first chapter or two and beg to read more.
When I’m done with the whole first draft. I JUST WROTE A NOVEL!
When I’ve finished with editing. Does anyone really enjoy editing?

When I’m done with anything and everything in the writing process.

What’s your biggest writing struggle?
Just one?
Let’s see.
WRITING. As in the act of sitting down in a chair, turning on my laptop, calling up my writing software, and actually typing comprehensive words, sentences, and paragraphs.
Editing. Ugh. Writing is nothing compared to actually editing. It lowers my self-confidence a lot.
Making enough time to write and edit. I have a pretty busy schedule, what with school, music, blogging, and other activities. It’s really challenging to write, but I try to make the time.

Do you write best at night or day?
I used to be a total night owl, which annoyed my siblings to no end. Now I’m more of a morning person. My morning routine used to be I woke up at six every morning and wrote a thousand words in forty five minutes, then got ready for school. My schedule’s been a little messed up lately, but I’m trying to get back on track.

What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)
I can’t show pictures right now because
a) I’m on a car trip and my desk is far, far away, and
b) It’s a mess right now and it isn’t usually, so I’ll have to use my powers of description to give you an accurate picture.
My writing space is a big L shaped cherry stained desk. My writing side is the smaller part against the wall. It has a nice nook for my NEW laptop *squee*, a bunch of shelves cluttered with my notebooks and writing books, and cupboards above for whatever I feel like putting in there. The longer side of the L is used for school, since I’m homeschooled I work there a lot.

How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?
My last few have taken about three months, but my next two are probably going to take only a month each. (Fingers crossed!) But the one after that, a historical, should take a little longer, just because of research and such. So it really varies on what I’m writing.

How many projects do you work on at once?
I only write one first draft at a time, but I can be editing or outlining another project while I write another first draft. It really depends on what projects I have.

Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?
I like bittersweet endings. The main character has lost something important to gain what they were striving for. My next two novels are more sweet then bitter, but my historical novel is probably going to have the saddest ending I’ve ever written. But even that doesn’t compare to some of the endings in YA today.

10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey.
Caroline Keene (Nancy Drew) (Yes she’s not a real person, but so what?)
She was the first author that I read that when I read her, I had to read more. Okay, so now when I go back to read Nancy Drew I find it very cliché and all the good people good looking and talented, and all the bad people very ugly, and none of it is very believable. But I love Nancy Drew all the same. (And I also LOVED the Nancy Drew movie with Emma Roberts.)
Rick Riorden (Percy Jackson)
I think I was about ten when I discovered the magic of Percy Jackson. It was probably one of the first fantasies I read (up to that point I mostly read contemporaries and mysteries.) Percy Jackson introduced me to the wonderful world of fantasy, and from then on I started reading and writing a lot of fantasy.
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter)
This is probably the most cliché answer of all time, but it’s true. Not so much her genre or plot, but her way of writing, the way it hooks you and engages you in the story, along with her superb world building and her way of weaving it all into an amazing story.
Trenton Lee Stewart (The Mysterious Benedict Society)
This is one that I’m not sure how to put into words. It just touched me in a weird way, and I think it’s made my writing better.
Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)
THE BOOK THIEF! It is probably one of the best books ever (everyone should read it). I wrote a review of it if you want my full opinion. This was the first historical fiction book that truly engaged me, with characters and emotion. It moved me deeply. The Book Thief showed me that historical fiction can be just as entertaining as fantasy, or dystopian, or mysteries.

11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?
Yes. It depends though. Sometimes I use it for bribery, as in I let my little sister read the next chapter in my dystopian and she does something for me. Other times I want people’s opinions. It really does just depend.

12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream?
I have a few
1. Become published
2. My novel becoming a best seller
3. Get my book blurbed by Suzanne Collins
The list goes on and on. (But truthfully? I’d be extremely happy if only the first comes true.)

13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do?
WRITE. I’d rebel. And write. But I would still book blog (Is that a job?), and possibly become a librarian or bookstore owner.

14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet?
A mystery novel. Mysteries shaped part of my childhood, and I think it would be cool to write one. I have tried, and even completed a MG mystery. (I had a BLAST writing it!) But I don’t think I’m ready to work on a full length mystery novel. If you all want me to post my short story here, just comment below.

15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go?
Three at the moment. A dystopian, a steampunk, and a historical. They’re all drastically different, but I love them all because of the characters and plots. And the ending for my historical is going to make me cry when I write it. (Note to self: don’t wear mascara while writing the last few chapters of Sun.)

That was so much fun to answer! Now I’m super curious: How did you all get interested in writing? If you did Beautiful People: Author Edition, I would LOVE to read it, so feel free to put the link in your comment. And don’t forget to let me know if you want to read my MG short mystery. (I checked and it’s almost two thousand words.)
Elizabeth

What We Can Learn: Music

Hi everybody! I say this tentatively…but this might be the last post in this series. We’ll see. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

One of my favorite things to do is to connect songs with characters from books, movies, and TV shows I like. I enjoy having context for a song, and finding the perfect one for a character. You could try doing this with your own characters. Listen to some music, and look up the lyrics if you need too. Music adds a whole other dimension to writing and characters, and it can really make you feel more for the people you are writing about.

You could also do it the other way around. Find an interesting song, and see if you can make up a character for it. Try to be specific. For example, one character from a Rick Riordan book fits well with the chorus of “Try” by Pink (Where there is desire there is gonna be a flame, where there is a flame someone’s bound to get burned, but just because you’re burned doesn’t mean you’re gonna die, you’ve gotta get up and try, try, try). This connection works because the character is “fireproof” so to speak; he can produce fire and it won’t hurt him. He’s had a hard childhood too, so some fans of the book imagine his mom singing this to him, encouraging him to keep going. See what I mean? The song doesn’t have to mean a literal flame, but it can be interpreted that way as an interesting trait for a character. See if you can use things like that, single words or phrases, to create a unique character.

Some songs may even suggest a plot. I like songs that seem to tell a story through the lyrics, or that have “characters” of sorts. An example would be “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman. This song is also a good example of one that evokes emotion.

I also know that some people have specific music they listen to while writing, for inspiration or background noise. I’ve never done this, but I know some people work better with music. I believe Elizabeth did a post here once about her novel’s playlist. I think this would be interesting to try, getting songs that match the themes or plot of the story.

What about you? Do you match songs to characters? Has a song ever inspired you?

Top Ten Tuesday and a Request

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesdays, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Todays’ s topic is Top Ten Most Anticipated Novels of 2015!
Okay, I really hate to admit this, but I have very little knowledge for what novels are coming out this year, so if you all could give me some recommendations in the comments that would be great.

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Okay, this sounds like and AWESOME book! Not only have I read so many rave reviews about it, I LOVE the cover and the premise. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a Faerie lord? YES PLEASE!

2. The Untitled Fourth Book in the Keeper of the Lost Cities Series by Shannon Messenger
I’ve read the first three in the series and I AM HOOKED. This is my favorite series, ever. Like seriously. THE BEST. And it left off on a cliffhanger.

Kind of. It’s hard to explain without ruining the whole series. But yeah. Definitely want to read that one.
3. The Sword Of Summer by Rick Riordan
RICK RIORDAN. Cue the freaking out of the fangirls and boys.

Yeah. Norse gods, trolls, giants, RICK RIORDAN. Enough said.
4. The Penderwicks in Spring
I love The Penderwicks series and I can’t wait for the next one. I’ve been reading them since I was younger, and I’m hooked.
Now comes the request part. These are all of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2015. I NEED MORE!
Please comment below with book recommendations for books that are coming out this year, and books that are already out. You can check my Book Review Requests to find out what I can and can’t read.
I REALLY need more books. My Goodreads goal is to read 101 books this year, but idealisticly, I would like to read ten new books a month. I’m a super quick reader. I read The Book Thief in one evening. In like three hours. But guess how many books I’ve read so far this year? ONE.

It’s incredibly sad. So please, just go to my Book Review Request page, see what I like to read, and comment here on what books you think I might enjoy.
Thank you so much, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Katie’s fabulous what we can learn post.
Elizabeth

Middle Grade or Young Adult?

Some people wonder about the age group definitions for middle grade and young adult. Do some teens read MG? What about eleven year olds and YA? And what is this new tween category that people are talking about?
The general age groups for middle grade is for eight (sometimes nine) to twelve-year olds, and young adult is twelve to sixteen (sometimes eighteen).
There is also a new category in the works called “tween”. Some publishing houses even have a tween imprint. What are the age groups for the tween category? It is for the higher level of MG readers.
Do some teens read middle grade? Some do, for different reasons. Certain teens might not like particularly gritty books that populate the YA shelves. Others might find that there are books in middle grade that could be shelved as YA. It really depends on the person.

Same goes for eleven year olds. As YA books like The Hunger Games and Divergent are gaining popularity, more and more eleven year olds, and even ten-year olds are reading YA. Kids usually like to read about a MC a year or two older than them.

So how do you choose what the age group is for your book? If your book has a MC that is eight to fourteen, it could be in MG or the tween categories. If your book has a main character thirteen to nineteen, it would be in YA.
That’s one way to figure it out. Another way is to look at the violence and romance in your book. In MG, there is little to none of that stuff, and if there is any, it isn’t extremely graphic. But in YA, it’s more acceptable.
What age group do you prefer writing for and why?
Elizabeth
(Coming up tomorrow: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books of 2015.)

This Week’s Blog Schedule


Monday: Writing Book Review: 2015 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators Market by Writer’s Digest
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday Most Anticipated Novels of 2015
Wednesday: What We Can Learn

Thursday: Historical Book Review: The Agency by Y.S. Lee
Friday: Ways to Organize (or Unorganized) Bookshelves

I can’t wait for this next week and the posts ahead. Thank you all so much for all of your support!
Elizabeth

My (Sort Of) Review of The Book Thief

Happy New Year! I’m so excited for 2015 and all it brings.
The Book Thief… Where do I begin? It’s probably my favorite historical fiction novel I’ve read yet. This won’t be like many other book reviews I do. This is more of a “Why You Should Read This”, type of book review. (Kind of like a recommendation, with a touch of reviewing.)
It begins when Liesel Meminger is eight years old and riding on a train to her new foster parents. She doesn’t understand why her mother can’t take care of her anymore. Then, her brother dies. She steals a book at his funeral. And that’s where it all starts.
First of all, it’s narrated by Death. How cool is that?!?! Death isn’t this cold, heartless person either. He can be very sympathetic and caring. Just don’t ask him to be nice. Here are few of my favorite quotes from Death:
“Here is a small fact: You are going to die.”
“It kills me sometimes, how people die.”
“I am haunted by humans.”
I love Death’s voice. And Liesel interested him so much, he learned her story.
As for the story itself, it’s pretty much about a girl in Germany who takes books from wherever she can get them: book burnings, grave diggers, and the mayor’s wife. Her foster parents take in a Jew, and her whole perspective on life changes. I can’t say much more without spoilers. So just go read it. Like now.
As for the characters themselves, they’re so vivid I feel like I know them personally.
Liesel, the book thief, is probably one of the strongest girl I’ll ever read about.

She’s so innocent and naïve at the beginning, and at the ends she’s seen so many people die. I love her simplicity, loyalty and caring, and her fellow bookwormish tendencies.
Max, the Jew they take in, is a tough, strong fist fighter who is afraid of being caught. He can be quite poetic sometimes and loves words almost as much as Liesel. I love their special bond.

Rudy is Liesel’s best friend. Oh my gosh I ship them so hard. He’s incredibly loyal to Liesel, and it’s obvious to everyone except Liesel that he likes her. He would do pretty much anything for her.

And then there’s Liesel’s foster parents, who she calls Mamma and Papa.

Her momma is gruff, but you know that she loves Liesel. Her papa is an accordion player who teaches Liesel how to read. They have a really special relationship.

And the ending… No spoilers, but it actually made me tear up, which is super hard for me to do in a book. I looked kinda like this:

I give The Book Thief five out of five stars.
So there’s my (kind of) review of The Book Thief. Go read it. Like right now.
Have you read The Book Thief yet? If so, what did you think of it? And what other historical fiction novels do you think I should read and review?
Elizabeth