Sunday, March 5, 2017

Interview with P. Anastasia, author of the Dark Diary

As many of you know, I'm working on writing a novel. It's a dark fantasy. Yesterday, the words just flowed out of me! It was wonderful! I've never had a more successful writing session. But sometimes, I feel overwhelmed, defeated and hopeless. I feel like I'll never hold my own book in my hands. So it's great that I have met some writers who have gone out in front of me and paved the way. They are all very approachable and willing to answer all of my crazy questions.

So I thought you might want to see a few questions I asked P. Anastasia recently and her brilliant answers!

Q. Are you the type that outlines?

A. I do not generally do outlines. Only periodically. I do research as I move forward (as needed), and to make effective use of your time, you simply have to write. 1 word or 1,000 words. It is better than nothing. To flesh out a story, I may write a thin draft of the scene with dialog, general ideas and actions and then on the second go-over/ first editing phase, I fill in the nitty-gritty details. Add more atmosphere, really let myself steep in the scene instead of rushing to just get it down. Imagine the place. The smells. The colors. Really let yourself be in that environment and try to convey the sights and sounds of the scene. If I find myself trapped at the end of a scene and unable to move forward, I back up a few pages and begin combing through the entire scene again --- this often helps trigger the mind to begin filling in the gaps. I’ve heard other writers tell me to never look back after I write something down until I am done with the entire piece. This NEVER works for me. I have to stop and rewind quite often to get my momentum back up. It works for ME.

Q: Can you tell me how to be effective in my writing time? Make the best use of the time I’m given?

A. Although I absolutely love writing, In general – I often have to force myself to sit down and actually do the work. As Neil Gaiman once said: “ You write on the good days; You write on the bad days.”
Sometimes you’ll write utter rubbish, but it will always be better than a blank page. Some days I wake up chomping at the bit to get to work, and other days I stare at a blank screen for HOURS, unable to stop fidgeting or thinking about the next meal I’ll be cooking or TV show I’ll be watching. I don’t outline full stories, but I do sometimes spend a day outlining certain events I know must happen and I put those parts into some logical order so I can flesh them out later.
Sometimes I skip forward to write an event and leave it for a bit as I’m not always inspired to write the tedious chapters that connect the more exciting ones. It’s OKAY if you want to write a fun bit and then get back to the less interesting stuff afterward. Write what you are called to write. Just do it. You can connect the dots later!
Setting an ultimatum for yourself every day will also help. I did this while completing my latest novel because I couldn’t get the drive together to do it. Basically, I told myself I had to write 2,000 words or I wasn’t allowed to do anything leisurely. After a few days/weeks of that, my brain kicked into create mode and I found writing the words each day easier and more efficient. Make sure you facilitate this by giving yourself a proper work environment. No distractions. Clean your desk of any and all things that get into your mental space. Use a specific computer or room for writing only and nothing more. This way, when you sit down, your body KNOWS you mean business.

"Don’t let anything get in the way. Think of it as solitary confinement for the sake of art! Stories can be shy beasties at times and need to be coaxed out of hiding."

Train yourself. Writing is like exercise. If you don’t do it for a while, you’ll get weak.

You’ll have to keep a set schedule to do this (if you can). Sometimes I end up going to bed at midnight even though I aim to be done with writing at 7 or 8PM, because the words ultimately choose when to come. Not everyone has this liberty -- so if you don’t, then simply give yourself a nice quiet hour each day to try. If nothing comes, so-be-it. If you do this over time, you’ll find your mind should begin ticking around the time you go to sit down. If it doesn’t, don’t be too hard on yourself. There will always be good writing days and bad. Don’t forget to take breaks so you don’t burn out, too.
That being said, you can EASILY go weeks and months without writing and when you get back into it, you’ll feel like a blob of can’t-write/how on earth did I ever write anything ? I’ve done this and I’ve promised myself from this point forward to never take more than a month hiatus from writing because 8 months off nearly murdered my newest novel.
Once in a while, I set a word count and stop right at the end of it, even if I’m in the middle of a rousing scene – that way, when I return the following day, I’m excited to jump in and get going on the rest of the action. Other days I’ll hit way over my quota and return the next day to a blank chapter heading and end up sitting there for an hour wondering what was going to come next.
The more you write, the better you will become. I also recommend working with an editor whenever you can. A professional editor – not a friend or friend who is a professional. Get someone who is unbiased of your work but who is interested in it. Work with them. It is worth the investment.
I’ve learned so much from my editors over the past few years that I’ve been able to catch most of the my mistakes now myself and fix them before they have to tell me to. (I still need my editors, though! EVERYONE does) My writing has become cleaner, more polished and less redundant the FIRST time around due to my experience.

I think that’s about the best advice I can give you. Write what you are called to write no matter what. Don’t let others tell you what or how to write it. Take advice from your editor(s) with a grain of salt, and do listen. They can help you substantially, but some editors can hurt you, too. This is your work, not theirs, so remember that. Always.

Good luck in your journey! It will be a rough one. Some days the sun will shine and birds will sing. Other days there will be torrential downpours and ten feet of icy snow. You have to make it past the bad days to get to the good ones.

Nothing can replace the feeling you’ll experience when the last word of the story appears on the page.


P. Anastasia just released an all ages coloring book that I think looks like a lot of fun! It's available now on Amazon HERE

Saturday, January 14, 2017

One Year #bookstagram

A year ago today, I posted my first picture on Instagram with the hashtag, #bookstagram. I had been following a few bookish accounts and started thinking that this could be something fun to do. I made the mistake of just rolling my personal account into the new book dedicated one--it didn't dawn on me that I could have two different accounts. (Ah well)
I painstakingly removed all of my old photos (saved them to my Flickr account) and I think more than half of my friends and family deleted me after they realized I would be posting pictures of books all day, every day.
(Which still kind of bugs me, actually. Just because I'm not posting pictures of my family and my food and like a shit ton of sunset pictures or photos of my vacations, doesn't mean it's not still me. It's still ME. Whatever, I deleted all of them too. Ha!)
I decided to do a Top Ten list of my favorite things about #bookstagram right now. I love making Top Ten lists. I've made a lot over the years and I'm looking forward to this one. OKAY! Here we go:

#1. The people. My god, I have met the coolest people from all over the world in this community of book nerds and misfits. Some of you have impacted my life in very profound ways. I've learned things about myself; good things and bad things: if I'm honest. This community has forced me to be more introspective and intentional. It's a delicate thing, expressing yourself online. It's different than "real" life. Real face time. I've had to trip and fall on my face a few times so that I could navigate my way safely through this new territory. It's been a challenge and a blessing. I love it. I have met true friends here, people I would do battle with when the shit hits the fan and we find ourselves in some kind of awesome apocalypse! YEAH, Baby!

#2. The books. I never knew there were so many books out there I had to read and own. I could easily spend the rest of my life reading all the books you guys have turned me on to and still not be able to read them all! I have over 600 books on my Goodreads TBR list and I blame all of that you! You've taken my passion for reading and lit a fire!! Damn, it's HOT in here!

#3. The booktags and challenges. We have fun on bookstagram don't we? We play little games and join in on these daily photo challenges and it gives us this amazing sense of unity. But my book account will never just reflect a specific challenge (even though I created the Circle of Bookish Friends). I don't want my account to just be about that--nobody started a #bookstagram for the stupid challenges. Post what you want to post! Don't feel limited by the prompts-let's get back to us--who we are, why we do this weird shit. Rebel! Use the #circleofbookishfriends hashtag but don't let that hashtag USE you. Know what I mean, Jellybean? I think you do.

#4. The Nocturnal Reader's Box. I consider myself terribly lucky to have turned the heads of the powers that be over at the Nocturnal Reader's Box. I still pinch myself that I landed that rep position. What a fantastic company! I'm truly honored to be able to receive their product in exchange for an honest review of the service. Of course when my rep privileges run out, I'll be a customer too. I love it!!

#5. The writers. Through this community, I have met some seriously gifted writers: Professionals and Beginners. I have no idea where my passion for writing stories is going to take me in the future but I'm so glad I have met people that have already traveled pretty far down that road and are willing to show me the way when I'm ready. It's a very exciting time for me.

#6. The Buddy Reads. I've gotten to partner up with some pretty amazing individuals and share in the experience of reading a book together, even if they live on the complete opposite side of the world! That's a special thing. Seriously. We might be oceans apart--miles away, but we are connected through the words of an author in a book we each hold in our hands. Portable magic people, portable magic.

#7. BOOK MAIL. Man, I have gotten some fun stuff in the mail. Books, candy, presents, pillows, coffee mugs, LOVE, tea, stickers...!! So much LOVE! I like to give more than I receive, but lawd, is it ever fun to open the mailbox and see a goodie from one of you guys in there! Instant elation!

#8. The Laughs. You guys are hilarious, you know that, right? I love the way you make me laugh, coffee shops or libraries or wherever else I happen to be where people turn to look at the weirdo laughing at stuff on her phone.

#9. The Constant Readers. You guys know who you are. I know who you are too. King lovers. We rule the world.

#10. The Distraction. Sometimes life is just a bit too much. It's too loud. It's annoying. It's disappointing. It's lackluster. It's boring. It's depressing. It sucks. It hurts. It's scary. Sometimes.

But bookstagram is a happy little place I can go and get away from it for awhile. So thanks for that. Thanks to all of you. I love our weird little corner of the internet where we get to squirrel away from the world and play with our nuts. you didn't expect me to say that.

Here's to 2017 and whole year of #bookstagram
Love you,

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Book Review: The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig

The CormorantThe Cormorant by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"It is what it is."
This book was *almost* a four star rating as compared to Blackbirds and Mockingbird but then, WHAM, BAM, thank you, Ma'am! The ending just sucker-punched me and earned itself that fifth star.
I was concerned at first. I missed my Louis. I didn't like the beginning. I was disappointed Ashley Gains was back. I thought maybe the plot line was becoming formulaic or predictable.
Shit got real. Really, real and I loved this side of Miriam. I don't want to give *any* spoilers so I'm just going to say, Miriam evolves yet again. She is constantly growing, learning and with this painful process, her gift/curse adapts and changes too.
I love the new characters we got to meet: Gabby, Jerry & Corie, (not the FBI agents, I didn't care for their personalities at all) and Sugar. I liked Sugar a lot and it proved that Wendig is good at making very distinct, unique voices for his characters--none of them blend in together or sound the same like in so many other books with a strong protagonist. Sugar was light and ethereal and refreshing--like a drink of crisp, clean water when you've been slopping around in the gutter.
I loved this third installment of the series and I'm excited for where the story is going. Thunderbirds, is going to be BAD ASS!

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Blog Party: The Nocturnal Reader's Box Unboxing!

Welcome to my blog party! Please settle in, make yourself at home *pours you a glass of wine or a drink of your choice--coffee for me, it's early* I'm excited to reveal to you the contents of the box that I have been eagerly awaiting. The theme for January is "From Beyond the Grave". I love that the makers of this subscription box have tailored a box specifically for lovers of horror,  science fiction and dark fantasy; the dark and twisted. The box arrived on my doorstep, safe and sound. The contents were carefully packed and protected.
Take a gander of all the goodies that conjure images of death...

My favorite part of this box is the 3D skull double shot glass. Fill it up and see the detailed, wicked skull grinning back at you!
I love this collection of stories called, Five Stories High. Tagline: One House, Five Terrifying Stories
The makers of this box created a key chain from Stephen King's Everything is Eventual collection, 1408. How rad is that?! It's already on my set of keys.
I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have a Peter James novel in my collection now! I have heard great things from my friend, Abbie! What a treat! Also, a NerdWicks candle that smells delicious called "The Hideous Heart"
Another favorite is this Edgar Allen Poe tote! How cool is THAT?! A classic storyteller in the genre of death and the macabre. I can't wait to bring it to the library with me!
Lastly, The postcard and bookmark. I LOVE collecting bookmarks. I love the quote on the postcard too. Very cool.
I am so pleased with this box! It already convinced me that I need a subscription for the rest of the year for my birthday! *hint hint* to the hubby. Thanks for coming to my unboxing blog party! Stick around and have some snacks.If you're interested in buying February's box, the theme is Paranoia  and here is the link to TheNocturnalReader'sBox.Com you can save 10% by giving them your email, or you can save 15% when you use my code: SADIEREADS15

Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Review: Mockingbird

Mockingbird (Miriam Black, #2)Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mockingbird is the second book in the Miriam Black series. The first book was about introductions. Wendig introduced us to Miriam Black, her crazy past, her uncertain future and most importantly, the paranormal gift/curse she carries with her. I fell in love with her--she has this wild disposition and she's crude and takes every opportunity to challenge people and push boundaries (especially when we don't think she should)
In Mockingbird, the introductions are over. Miriam Black is who she is and she isn't going to change. Her love interest, Louis from the previous book is surprisingly still around (YAY! Because we *love* Louis). Instead of using her curse to exploit people, Miriam is given the opportunity to use her gift to help people. This opportunity takes Miriam further than she thought she would go and puts her life in danger (again).
This being the second book, I felt like Wendig is more at home with his protagonist. She became more fleshed out--complicated. I began to feel the layers and layers of emotional intensity she brings to the story. As the reader, I become even more invested in her which created risk. This book felt dangerous and unpredictable.
I loved every minute of it.
We also got to see Wendig's skill in setting and plot development. Wendig's wheelhouse is dialog--we get huge doses of that in book one.
So it's exciting to see a more elaborate plot this time around with a tangible setting.
(I'm clearly talking circles around the plot because I think it's more fun to go into a book without knowing the details)
My favorite part of this book is Miriam Black. She's a scene stealer. Her biting wit, sarcasm, inappropriate humor, will to survive, fierce spirit and this compulsive need to protect people is the real propelling force of the story. I just like to see what happens to her--I'd read any book with her in it because she fascinates me. The pace of these two books is fast--faster than any books I've ever read and Wendig never wastes words--everything that happens is moving the story forward. Every chapter break ends with a hook for the next and I literally cannot stop reading sometimes. I have to force myself to sleep or eat or pay attention to the family.
Ha! I don't own the third book yet, so that's going on the Christmas list. Well done, Wendig. You have given me a new favorite series and a new favorite female.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Book Review: Blackbirds-Chuck Wendig

BlackbirdsBlackbirds by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Damn. I was *not* expecting this. Where to even start?
I loved this book.
We'll start there. Perhaps by the warnings I pass on, you'll hear the reasons why I love this book too?
The main character, Miriam Black, is disgusting, rude, immoral and has *the* foulest mouth in all of literature but damn if I don't love this girl.
This book is told in parts. Like a 3 act play.
We have several literary devices: The main story, interludes, dreams and personal accounts. All of those serving to further the story and give us dimensional layering and character development without big, awkward info dumps. Super smart storytelling techniques on Wendig's part. I loved that.
The "bad guys" in this story were so great--I could almost read an entire spin-off series on just Harriet or Ingersoll.
(just an aside: my favorite part was when we saw glimpses into Ingersoll's past or Harriet's and then got Miriam's reaction to the story)
Everything is just so clever! Even the chapter headings made me snicker.
Okay but I would feel bad if I didn't give you guys some warnings, just because I have to give honest reviews.
It's graphic. It's violent. It's raw and uncut. It does not spare details. It's FULL of cussing and uncomfortable terminology.
But it's a story and the these are the author's characters and this is who they are in the context of this crazy (beautiful) story. And I loved it.
You know, I would also be doing you a disservice if I didn't also tell you that this book has heart. In all the gore and immorality and craziness, there is so much to be said for Wendig's ability to find a place for us to fall in love with these broken people. Especially Miriam and unforgettably, my favorite character Louis. Man, he's just the best from the moment he enters the story.
I approve this book with two thumbs up and I'm so excited this is a series! There's MORE! Yay!

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Book Review: Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

Fevre DreamFevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the whole Song of Ice & Fire series and LOVING it and after reading Martin's A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and loving that too, I saw Fevre Dream at a Friends of the Library Sale and pounced on it!
Martin writes vampires.
That's all I really knew about this book going into it and I want to keep it that way for everyone else.
Basically, this is Martin's expert character development and story crafting set in New Orleans/the Mississippi River-with Steamboats and slavery and that whole time period. (people who are sensitive to the 'n' word and slavery and derogatory/demeaning language should consider this a trigger warning)
We follow a few main characters, Abner March being my favorite and who reminds me a lot of George R.R. Martin, actually.
We have a slew of vampires, some that are a bit cliche and some with a pretty unique story-so Martin does introduce something new to the genre which I think makes this book worth the time spent reading it--which wouldn't take anyone much time since it's on the smaller side and it reads pretty quickly! Overall, I found this to be an entertaining, interesting story that vampire fans should enjoy. I docked it one star for the climax/ending. It felt a little ridiculous. Like when you're enjoying a thrilling movie the whole time and then it just starts downward spiraling into unbelievably? It did that a little bit for me towards the ending.

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