Blog Tour: Madly, Deeply by Erica Crouch

Erica Banner (1)

Hey All! Today I’m hosting a blog tour for Erica Crouch’s Madly, Deeply. Inspired by Poe’s classic poem, “Annabel Lee,” this book looks like an awesome summer read!

You can find out more here: http://www.reviews.snarkybooks.com/2014/07/19/blog-tour-madly-deeply-erica-crouch/

Sounds good, huh? Bonus!: We have a giveaway! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s some info on Erica: Erica Crouch is a young adult and new adult author from the colorful city of Baltimore, Maryland. Her debut novel, Ignite, was published June 2013, and its e-novella sequel, Entice, was released Nov. 2013. The final book in the Ignite series, Incite, is expected 2014. A compilation of the series will be released winter 2014.

Her first new adult novel — Madly, Deeply, a paranormal romance based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Annabel Lee — arrives June 2014. She is working on a new adult science fiction series (Undying) due 2014, and a Robin Hood gender-swap retelling (Feathered series) due 2015.

Erica is the cofounder of Patchwork Press, an author-powered publisher of MG, YA, and NA titles. She is the head of editorial services and design, with more than ten projects to her name.

Currently, she is studying English and Creative Writing with a specialization in Fiction at Southern New Hampshire University. She is a vlogger for the YAWordNerds with over 500 subscribers. When Erica isn’t writing, she’s reading an overwhelming stack of books,
watching an obscene amount of Netflix, and procrastinating
Erica Crouch is a young adult and new adult author from the colorful city of Baltimore, Maryland. Her debut novel, Ignite, was published June 2013, and its e-novella sequel, Entice, was released Nov. 2013. The final book in the Ignite series, Incite, is expected 2014. A compilation of the series will be released winter 2014.

Her first new adult novel — Madly, Deeply, a paranormal romance based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Annabel Lee — arrives June 2014. She is working on a new adult science fiction series (Undying) due 2014, and a Robin Hood gender-swap retelling (Feathered series) due 2015.

Erica is the cofounder of Patchwork Press, an author-powered publisher of MG, YA, and NA titles. She is the head of editorial services and design, with more than ten projects to her name.

Currently, she is studying English and Creative Writing with a specialization in Fiction at Southern New Hampshire University. She is a vlogger for the YAWordNerds with over 500 subscribers. When Erica isn’t writing, she’s reading an overwhelming stack of books, watching an obscene amount of Netflix, and procrastinating.


And here’s some buy links so that you can buy this fabulous book! :
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Madly-Deeply-Erica-Crouch/dp/1927940052/ref=la_B00D7NONVE_1_2_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403017186&sr=1-2
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Madly-Deeply-Erica-Crouch-ebook/dp/B00KYBE75E/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1402673364&sr=8-4&keywords=erica+crouch
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/madly-deeply-erica-crouch/1119692106?ean=9781927940051
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/madly-deeply-erica-crouch/1119692106?ean=9781927940068&itm=1&usri=9781927940068
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/madly-deeply
Apple ibooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/madly-deeply/id886227632?mt=11
Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/book/230509086/Madly-Deeply
Inktera: http://www.inktera.com/store/title/43f96a5b-6431-475e-b6b3-ae14dd06ee4c

Enjoy!

Writing Tips: How to Finish Writing Your Novel

Hi All!

I’m not a really braggy, attention-seeking type of person (although my weight-loss posts may have been a little TMI for some!:)). So a lot of people are actually really surprised when they hear that I have written one entire novel, start to finish. Sometimes I get questions about how I accomplished this, or how I got enough ideas to make it work. So I thought I’d share some tips, especially since now that I’m working on novel #2, and am beginning to realize what really works for me, and what just doesn’t.

Now, keep in mind that these are not all necessarily my tips (I’m not that brilliant). Some I borrowed from various writing instructors from school (I’ll try to mention what I got from which instructor), and some are common knowledge-type tips that I really have found work for me, or that I’ve re-configured a bit. Also keep in mind that this is not a “how to get yourself published” guide. I’m not published, as of yet (although my first novel is still being considered), and it’s not that type of post anyways. Final thing to consider: do what works for you. This is what works for me, but everyone has their own way, and no way is right or wrong! :)

So here we go!

1. Set Aside a Writing Time/Quota (and don’t feel compelled to stick to it!):
This is one of the most popular tips that instructors, authors, and just about anyone will give you for writing. The reason: it works. I usually try to stick to a set amount of time or words per day. Although it may vary slightly (some days you write five chapters, some days you write one), and I don’t torture myself over sticking with it, having some sense of how long I should write for per day on average gives me an idea of how long a first draft may take.

The trick is to let it nurture your inner discipline, without making you crazy. While the word count quota allows you to monitor your progress and estimate an end-date, setting a time allotment is often more reasonable, and doesn’t drive you as crazy if you don’t meet it. Two ideas to remedy this: 1. This one comes from Winnipeg writer and one of my profs. at U of Winn., Jonathan Ball (http://www.jonathanball.com/). He advises counting only time spent writing as writing time. Not research, not reading, not the time you spend doing a little correcting here and there. This makes sense, as a little bit of “research time” can often seriously cut into writing time as we get lured into the trap of the internet. 2. This is my idea. Spend an hour or half an hour free-writing. Don’t stop, don’t get tea, don’t log into Facebook, don’t re-read anything, just write. Then check your word count. The word count you get is probably what is reasonable for you to accomplish per writing session.

Another two ideas come from Anita Daher (http://www.anitadaher.com/), who is a teen book editor at Great Plains Fiction, a children’s and young adult author, and writing instructor who instructed me in a writing intensive at the University of Winnipeg. She says that even if it isn’t feasible to do a lot of writing per day, if you can write a page a day, then in a year you can write 365 pages, give or take a few. Even if that isn’t working for you, she suggests staying in touch with your novel all the same. Every day, open your file, write a sentence or two, then put it away. It will get you somewhere, and will prevent writer’s block and disillusionment with your novel :)

2. Free-write: I’ve been doing this for this novel, and it helps you get the words down so much faster. While you need to pay attention to things like word choice, flowing style, chemistry between characters, etc. that can come in the second draft. Just sit down and get to it. Which brings me to…

3. Do Drop Everything and Write Days: Is anyone here the right age to remember Drop Everything and Read? We waste so much time doing stupid things like Googling old acquaintances from nursery school and reading about how Zac Efron got caught kissing somebody. So the next time you have fifteen, twenty minutes to kill, don’t waste them. Just drop everything, pull up your manuscript, and write non-stop for the whole time. Free-writing is important. Don’t re-read anything that you’ve written until time is up.

4. Write Out of Order: When I wrote my first novel, I wrote in linear order, start to finish, beginning to end. While it did sort of work for my story in the end, as I gained more insight into my characters’ journeys, it took a long time, especially when I got writer’s block. This time I’m still writing linearly, but anytime I get really stuck or I feel particularly inspired by a certain scene, I’ll skip ahead and write a future scene, saving it to a another file. This helps me to test out how I feel about certain ideas or story elements before I frame my entire story around them. It also gives me momentum to keep moving ahead.

5. Write a Story Treatment: Story treatments are basically a detailed summary of events in a story. They are commonly used in screenwriting. I did one for a course, and found the entire practice to be very helpful in developing a storyline. By the end of my treatment, I felt as though I knew my characters well, and that their chemistry and dialogue was solidified. Even if you’re not a plotter, using the story treatment during writing can help you to write through tough spots in your story, and using it after can help you to notice where there are problems or holes in your story.

So there we are! If I remember some more ideas, I will post them. Also, feel free to leave me a comment below if you have any ideas of your own. Happy writing and good luck!!! :) x Em

Why Marriage Matters to Teen Readers

You all know how much I love Kiera Cass’s The Selection Series. Well, the final book came out this spring, and I recently got to read it after scooping it up from the Express Bestseller section (it was a never-read-before copy!!!). And, oh, it was bliss. The royalty theme, the romance, the SPOILER ALERT, EVEN THOUTH WE ALL SAW IT COMING wedding at the end END OF SPOILER. I just loved it.

After I finished though, I felt a sense of loss. Part of what I loved about the series, part of what really appealed to me from the beginning, was the princess theme. More than that, I loved the concept of two unlikely people growing together. But let’s go back to the princess part.

There aren’t a lot of really girly princess YA books out there. Maybe there’s just a lot of feminist authors in YA, maybe it’s just the popular preference to kickin’ it heroines. Either way, they’re hard to find. So I Googled. “Princess themed YA books.” There weren’t a lot of my so-desired girly princess books, but there were a few strong contenders. Currently I’m reading a girly princess pick, Heather Dixon’s Entwined a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses,which I absolutely love. Another pick, this one less girly, was Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Because I’m an aspiring writer myself, I like to Google authors. The reason is that I like hearing about people’s various backgrounds and just get a picture of them, and whatever. Anyway, I checked out Kristin’s website, and was looking through her FAQ, when I noticed that one FAQ was whether two characters end up getting married or not. Kristin posed the question: does two characters not getting together make their love any less valid?

Although I agree that getting married doesn’t make feelings
any less valid, I personally love when characters in novels get married (only when they actually should get married, but we’ll talk about that soon). But this got me wondering; why do teen readers like to see characters get married. Here’s some theories:

1. Marriage Symbolizes Stability: A lot of people may argue with this one, but I think that even if it doesn’t always pan out as stable, marriage definitely symbolizes the hope of stability for many people. Considering that divorce rates are fairly high, and that many people in their teens and early twenties are coming out of an era in which divorce rates were really high, it makes sense that they like the idea of stability.

Speaking of stability, look at adolescence itself. It’s a time of flux, when everything is changing, and nothing stays the same. In real life, people go though unrequited crushes and bad breakups. In books, readers like to see couples who may or may not be perfect, but who are trying to make it work.

2. Marriage is an Intentional Act that Suggests that Love is Requited: Who hasn’t spent time California dreaming about someone, only to never have their affections returned (L.P. and E.S., I’m looking at you.) Worse, there are many people who have been in relationships where they’ve loved someone more than that someone has loved them. While love can be a feeling, that is certainly valid whether or not you get married, or whether or not the other person feels the same way, getting married shows a sort of intention that love is returned.

3. Marriage is Grown Up: This is where I talk about when couples in books *should* get married. I like the whole marriage concept in teen novels only in certain circumstances. They are: In a dystopian society, in a fantasy, and in contemporary novels in which characters have gone through challenges, tests, and grown in a mature understanding of one another. I also like it in an epilogue, like in Mockingjay.

I have read some books where the concept just didn’t work out, but I think the reason that they are still published with that element, is that it’s popular. And I think that the popularity comes from a desire for readers to kind of “read up.” I mean, let’s face it; in many states and provinces, minors need to ask their parents permission before doing certain things. However, if they’re married, then they don’t. Likewise, marriage makes fictional couples seem more mature, and gives teen readers a glimpse into a world that they may enter within a few years.

4. It Just Ties Things up Nicely: This is one of my reasons for liking marriages in YA books. Obviously writers can’t write a whole saga about one character’s life (and probably wouldn’t want to), and doing that would kind of disqualify it as a YA book anyways. But readers still want to know what happens to their favourite characters.

Personally, once characters get married, it sort of solidifies their relationship. Even if the author never gives me an extra glimpse of their lives, I can envision what their lives are like in the future. it’s like tucking them in, and making sure they are OK. And maybe I can even chalk it up to not enough imagination, on my part. To me, the author is the creator of the story and the characters, and as such, if they’ve written something in, it’s true. So basically it isn’t even so much *marriage* that makes characters’ love seem valid, but the author reassurance that the characters are on solid ground.

So that’s some ideas. if you have any of your own, please leave a comment below!

The New Hunger Games Wedding: HG Weddings 2014

Book trends are like fashion trends. Some come, some go. People make a big out of some of them for a while, only to bash them later. But like fashion trends, some book trends grow past the trend stage to become classics. One of those book trends, is the Hunger Games trend.

Just as the novel is still an enduring classic, the trends it has spawned are also classics. For example, Katniss’s classy yet edgy take on the Dutch braid, or the Hunger Games fashion styles of heavy leather boots and hand-knit sweaters. Another trend that’s clearly here to stay is the Hunger Games wedding.

Remember my post on it last year (if not, read it here: http://iluvhg.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/hunger-games-themed-wedding/ ). Well there’s been a lot of brand new, even better wedding ideas since then, some that I like even better than before! Part of the enduring appeal of this brand of wedding is that it’s versatile. You can make it the ultimate fan wedding, complete with fun, funky book references, or you can take inspiration from the more vintage, rustic elements to make a subtle statement, perfect for an autumn wedding.

Let’s take a look at some of the new ideas for the Hunger Games wedding:

I love the kiss-pic on image #1! It captures the sweetness, passion, and desperation of Katniss and Peeta’s relationship, which, in my opinion, is how all relationships should be (minus the desperation, maybe).

Image #2 is actually a Game of Thrones inspired wedding, but its edgy, rustic, fantasy-like style is perfect for The Hunger Games. The dress is simple, but unique, and just couture enough for the Capitol. Add the flower crown (remember when Peeta makes a daisy crown for Katniss in Catching Fire?) and the elegant, yet unpretentious bouquet, and you’ve a got a look that’s pure Katniss!

So long, gag-worthy HG food ideas (the hunter-scavenger thing is so 2013)! The yummy tomato soup (just like katniss might buy from the Hob) in image #3 is perfect for a fall wedding, but you could make it a cold soup for a summer wedding. If Catching Fire was your favourite book, you could even stretch you imagination and say that the soup resembles fire, and the purple-black bits floating inside of it (I don’t know what they are, exactly. Maybe purple cabbage?) resemble coal, which is also the main industry of District 12. Other menu items include berries, bread, and salad, making this meal not only theme-appropriate and economical, but also very family-friendly.

Hunger Games Workout Final Week (for now…)

Hey All,

Thanks for bearing with me these past few weeks while I’ve talked (at unevenly spaced intervals) about working out, my emotional-eating problem, and how I’m finally (literally) whipping my body back into shape.

I know it’s been a few weeks since my last post on this. But much exercising leaves little time to write. I haven’t been doing this exercise exclusively, but I have been trying to do it at least once a week, and it seems to have been helping. I also have been going on a lot of walks with my mom, plus doing some yoga. In addition, my mom and I made like chicks with flicks a couple of weeks back and painted an entire lattice by ourselves. Not impressed? Well, This lattice is super high, and stretches the entire length of one side of our deck. It also has teeny, tiny little nooks and crannies in it that I had to paint in with a paintbrush (like the type kids paint paint-by-numbers with). Add to the fact that we painted from morning until ten o’clock at night, with the mosquitos biting, and the sun deciding to be the hottest that it has been all year (I actually got the beginnings of heat stroke), and it all starts to seem rather brave of us.

My point of the whole lattice thing is this: My legs killed me for nearly three days afterwards. Just the constant bending down to get every last corner of lattice was probably the most grueling workout I’ve done in ages. That said, The Hunger Games Workout is comparable. When you first start to do it, it hurts. After you get into a routine, and with proper stretching beforehand, less so. Take recently for example. I’ve been going for lots of outside-exercise, so I haven’t been doing HGW everyday. I didn’t do it for nearly a week, and then ohmygosh. A little sore???

What I do like about it is that it combines “yogalates” moves (lunges, squatting, etc.) with more aerobic moves (jumping jacks, etc.) for a workout that lengthens, stretches, and gets your heart pumping. The best part, is that, with practice, it can be done in less than ten minutes!

So how do I feel after all of it? Healthy and strong, like a true tribute! Although I’ve been eating healthily and working out in other ways, I’ve enjoyed having it as part of my routine, and am enjoying the results. Lean and toned with less of a stretched-out looking stomach? Definitely worth it!

Anyway, this is my last post on the Hunger Games workout for now, but I’ll try to update now and then. And you guys can do the same if you’d like!

Love and blessings!

Em x

Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg Review

 

Hi All!

For anyone wondering where the heck my update on my Hunger Games Workout is, don’t worry, it’s coming. I’ve been slacking just a little bit, because yesterday I spent all day reading Elizabeth Eulberg’s Prom and Prejudice. Even though it isn’t dystopian, it’s a super -cute YA read (or a read for anyone. My mom read it as well, and she really liked it).

Prom and Prejudice is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Even if you haven’t read it, you’ve probably heard the story (probably from a die-hard fan, who has been in love with Mr. Darcy from adolescence). For those who have been denied that particular pleasure, here’s a quick recap: Elizabeth Bennet, a middle-class young woman with one older sister, Jane, three younger sisters, and an over-bearing mother, meets the crabby and aristocratic Mr. Darcy at a ball, where Jane meets the love of her life, Mr. Bingley, who is Darcy’s friend. Elizabeth hears Darcy make a rude comment regarding her, and she becomes determined not to offer him a second chance. They go through a number of things together, and SPOILER ALERT eventually realize that they both have been proud and prejudiced towards each other. They eventually fall in love and get married. END OF SPOILER.

Prom and Prejudice follows this pattern in a modern, prep-school environment. Lizzie Bennet is a talented pianist and (one of only two) scholarship student at Longbourn Academy, a prep school for girls where money dictates social standing, and prom is legendary. After enduring a fall term full of taunts and bullying by her classmates, Lizzie returns to for winter term only to find her best friend and roommate, Jane, dying to take her to a school function with the boys from Pemberley Academy, a prep school for boys. At the function, Lizzie meets the good-natured object of Jane’s affections, Charles Bingley, and his best friend Will Darcy. However, after hearing Darcy make an uncharitable comment about her status as a scholarship student, Lizzie becomes determined to dislike Darcy, especially since he’s just a rich snob anyways.

This is absolutely one of my favourite Pride and Prejudice retellings. Although it follows the story of Pride and Prejudice closely, it has enough original (and funny!) elements to keep it fresh and exciting. I loved Eulberg’s version of Darcy. He manages to be brooding and quirky without becoming too irredeemably stand-offish, and is sweet in an understated way. Lizzie is pretty quirky and cute herself. Even though she can get pretty intense in her desire to avoid Darcy at all costs, I completely understood her motives, and liked that she was able to grow and to admit to her flaws. Which brings me to one of my favourite parts…

I loved how the author used the opportunity of  first-person narration and a modern setting to directly say what the original novel implied. For example, when Lizzie visits Darcy’s New York home (the equivalent of the original novel’s Pemberley) with her mother, she begins to see Darcy in a different light. Afterwards, her mother asks her why she’s never mentioned Darcy, and Lizzie lies ho her, saying that she didn’t know him very well before, but does now. However, Lizzie later reflects that “It was only later, as I sat with that thought, that I realized that it wasn’t really a lie, after all. It was the absolute truth.” I loved these moments, as it helps to sort-of humanize teenagers, and acknowledge them as being capable of adult reflection and feelings.

To me, Elizabeth Eulberg is just about one of my favourite new YA authors. This novel (along with her others) captures the intensity of adolescent emotions without trivializing them, but doesn’t make adolescents out to be unreasonably angsty. Instead, she manages to  also capture the beauty, lightness, and hopefulness that comes with youth. I also love how sweet this book is: no bad language, no turning Darcy into an oogle-object (let’s not forget the wet-shirt scene in the 1996 version of P&P), no making out. Ultimately, this book is one of the sweetest, funniest summer novels for teens, perfect for both classic book fans, and readers who simply want a snappy, sassy read.

 

My New Book….

Hey All!

I’m writing a new novel. I finished my first one last summer (an inspirational romance), but this time, I’m writing YA. It’s not a dystopian book, per se, but if you like high fantasy, royalty themes (Selection…..), and gothic-inspired lit, you’ll probably like this one.

Right now I’m at the point where I’ve written enough that I know that I’m writing it to the end, and that I know where it’s going, but I’m still in my first draft, so info is constantly changing and limited.

here’s some quick facts that I know of for sure:

1. I’m either writing one looong book, or a duology. I could stretch it to a trilogy, but I can’t really see it going there.

2. It’ll have elements from a classic novel, but it won’t be a retelling.

3. There will be a big house, princesses, royal politics, and romance.

More soon!!!

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