September 24, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to help writers connect. With that aim in mind, we encourage all participants to stop by other WUW blogs, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly encouragement around. But before you go, be sure to leave the link to your post in the widget at the end of this post. ***Also, please remember to link back to the host blogs and/or use a WUW button. We really appreciate it!*** Those of you who are new, here are the headings we're using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING

WHAT WORKS FOR ME

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO



No WUW post for me today, folks. My husband has been away for three weeks and just got home yesterday, so I'm going to spend the day with him. I will be back next week, hopefully with more writing- and reading-related stuff to share with you.

Hope you're having a happy Wednesday and a great week all around!

"Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
{William Cullen Bryant}



September 22, 2014

PHOBIC Book Blitz + Giveaway


First of all, I'd like to congratulate Cortney on the release of her debut novel PHOBIC. I'm so excited to get reading it! With Halloween just around the corner, I'm craving something spooky. So without further ado, here's what PHOBIC is all about:


(Add to Goodreads)
Fifteen-year-old Piper Crenshaw knows her house is strange. It’s never needed repairs since it was built in the 1800s, and the lights flicker in response to things she says. As if those things aren’t creepy enough, it’s also the place where her mother committed murder.

To prove she’s not afraid of where she lives, Piper opens a forbidden door, which hides a staircase that leads to the ceiling. That’s when the flashbacks of the original residents from 1875 start, including a love affair between two young servants. Each vision pulls Piper deeper into not only their story, but also her house. Piper confides in her best friend, Todd, whom she's gradually falling for, but even he doesn't believe her. At least, not until her house gets axed during a prank, and the act injures Piper instead, cutting a gash the size of Texas into her stomach.

Piper realizes her house isn’t haunted—it’s alive. To sever her link to it, she must unravel the clues in the flashbacks and uncover the truth about her mother’s crime, before she becomes part of her house for good.  



Release Date: Sept. 8th, 2014
Genre: YA Horror
Where you can purchase a copy of PHOBIC:
(in e-book or paperback formats at most of these sites)



Until you get your hands on a copy of PHOBIC, here's a creepy little teaser for you:


And the best part is PHOBIC is already out, so you don't have to wait to grab a copy!



PHOBIC Blitz-wide Giveaway:
(Open internationally and goes until September 26th)

• ONE $15 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway


About Cortney Pearson, author of PHOBIC:

Cortney Pearson is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates books for young adults. She lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.


Where you can find Cortney on the interwebz:

WebsiteTwitterFacebook




{Special thanks to Shane Morgan at Itching For Books for organizing Cortney's Book Blitz!}

September 17, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to help writers connect. With that aim in mind, we encourage all participants to stop by other WUW blogs, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly encouragement around. But before you go, be sure to leave the link to your post in the widget at the end of this post. ***Also, please remember to link back to the host blogs and/or use a WUW button. We really appreciate it!*** Those of you who are new, here are the headings we're using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO


WHAT I'M READING
Just finished...
THE FALCONER by Elizabeth May
This was a great mix of historical fiction, steampunk, and fantasy with enough swoon to keep romance fans happy. I love a good fae LI and a plucky heroine, so Kiaran and Aileana didn't disappoint. The Edinburgh setting was the icing on the cake.

THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski
I'm gobbling up all the YA fantasy I can get my hands on these days, and this first book in a new trilogy was exactly what I was looking for. It felt sort of similar to other fantasies I've read, but it was compelling and hard to put down nonetheless.

Just started...
CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein
I've had this one sitting on my shelf for ages, and I've heard a lot of buzz about it, so I figured it's time I actually read it. I'm plotting a story set during war times and with Remembrance Day (November 11th) approaching, it certainly feels fitting.

WHAT I'M WRITING
I've been brainstorming and doing some research for the story I'd like to write. I've narrowed down (and jotted down) some plot ideas and an exact location for where I want to set my story. Because there's a huge historical component, it's hard not to feel daunted by the sheer amount of research and fact-checking this will require, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about the challenge. I've always loved history, particularly the WWI and WWII years, so I definitely feel I'm up to the task.

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
Talking it out.
Whether I've got heaps of awesome ideas OR all the ideas I've got amount to a steaming pile, the best course of action I've discovered is to talk it out. There's nothing quite like a sounding board to help you separate the poop from the possibilities. For me, this is most often my sister, Erin. Through our many epic Skype sessions, I've been able to come at my WiPs with new ideas or renewed excitement over what I've written. I highly recommend finding an Erin if you don't already have one.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO


I've been canning again. The crabapple jelly I made last week didn't set as much as I would have liked, so I opened every jar, thickened it up a bit, then processed it all over again. I followed that up with some blackberry jam made from blackberries I picked up at our farmer's market. It turned out really tasty! Of course, to make this process a little less tedious, I listened to a HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS audiobook while I worked. (Narrated by Stephen Fry, who is fantastic!)

This past Sunday was the Terry Fox Run, an annual cancer fundraiser in memory of the run's namesake. It was a gorgeous autumn day (photo on right), which was a huge relief considering we'd had snow and otherwise crummy weather all week. I did a walk/run combo for 5K then ended up offering to volunteer for next year's event. Hopefully, we can figure out a way to get more people out in support of this truly worthwhile cause, if for no other reason than to keep Terry's dream alive.

“Even if I don’t finish, we need others to continue. It’s got to keep going without me.” 
- Terry Fox -
(July 28, 1958 - June 28, 1981)

Other than that, I've been frantically trying to finish up my French course before the October 31st deadline. Wish me luck!

Well, that's pretty much it for me.
So, what's new with all of you?


P. S. I managed to snag a full-day sub shift for today, so I won't be around on the blogs until tonight or tomorrow.

September 10, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

All of the buttons are under the WUW tab above!
We've got new fall What's Up Wednesday buttons!!! It's still summer technically, but with school back in and the leaves turning it's sorta kinda fall, right? That said, it's been SNOWING here for two days, so it feels an awful lot like winter.* (Extreme emphasis on the awful.)

And my head is spinning faster than Linda Blair's in The Exorcist...

Whoa. I'm digressing wildly. Anyway...Erin and I were talking and we agreed that WUW could use a bit of a makeover. So, we've decided to scrap the WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW heading and start using WHAT WORKS FOR ME in its place. This new section is for sharing various aspects of our writing habits and processes, whether they're ways to stay organized, inspired, or simply to make our writing time more fun. Something that works well for you might also work for someone else, and you never know what tips might come in handy!



Here’s a list of ideas for what kinds of things to post under this heading:
  • your writing process: how you stay organized, what writing program you use and why, how you do revisions, etc.
  • your writing habits: when and where you write, specifics of your routine, how you get in the mood to write
  • what motivates or inspires you lately (See how that old heading still fits in?) 

  • what your writing space looks like 
  • how you reward yourself
  • writing tips, helpful quotes, or links to articles
  • music on your playlist
  • how you balance writing with family, work, and other activities
  • how you keep yourself disciplined and focused
  • how you brainstorm or organize new story ideas
  • how you deal with writers block, plot issues, etc.
  • tips for writing a query, synopsis, pitch line, or self-publishing
  • writing snacks or other fun essentials
You get the idea. There are tons of fun and useful things we can share in this new section! Basically WHAT WORKS FOR ME is broader while putting the focus more on writing. Don’t feel like you have to stick to this list either—these are just some suggestions to get everyone started—but please remember to keep what you share writing-centred. Hopefully we’ll pick up some helpful tips from one another! Sound good? 

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to connect writers on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you would like to join us, we encourage you to swing by other WUW blogs each week, get to know other writers taking part, and spread some writerly love! Don't forget to leave the link to your post in the widget at the end of this post. **Please remember to link back to the host blogs and/or use a WUW button. We really appreciate it!**

Those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we're using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

Welcome, and thank you for joining us! 


WHAT I'M READING
I finished THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson and loved it! If, like me, you're a fan of Rae Carson's THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS series, then you'll probably love Pearson's book just as much as I did. They definitely felt similar to me.
Next, I picked up and positively devoured Jennifer Donnelly's REVOLUTION. This book was so, so good! One of the best books I've read all year, and one of the best YA books I've read period. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves history (in this case, the French Revolution), music in its many forms, and all-around wonderfully written stories.

I'm about to start THE FALCONER by Elizabeth May next, which is a combo of YA fantasy, historical, and steampunk. Cool!

WHAT I'M WRITING
I'm not actually committing words to the page (screen?), but I have been brainstorming an idea inspired by the trip I just took to Europe. For me, it's impossible to walk away from an experience like this without finding inspiration in some form. It's hard to express just how profound an impact visiting the many Canadian war cemeteries and battlefields had on me, the way it felt to ride through the lovely French countryside and walk on the historically significant beaches of Normandy. It's difficult, but I'm going to try and pour all of this stuff in my head and my heart onto the page. We'll see how it goes...

WHAT WORKS FOR ME
How I get into the zone → Every single time I sit down to write, I pull up what I last worked on and give it a read through. Contrary to popular writing advice (I'm looking at you and your poopy first drafts, Anne Lamott), I make changes here and there, tweak what I wrote, basically do a light revision. I've found that this is the best possible way to ease myself into the zone. Kind of like doing warm-up stretches before breaking into a jog and sometimes even a sprint. As an added bonus, by the time I get to the revision stage my draft is usually in decent condition, making the process that much less daunting.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
Besides looking out the window at the snow coming down in freaking September and quelling the urge to sob? Not much, really. I've been puttering away at canning and ended up making ten jars of dill pickles and two jars of pickled carrots over the weekend. Yesterday, while the sky was spewing snow, I went outside and picked crabapples from one of our trees with the intention of doing more canning. Now I have a sink full of crabapples, but have yet to turn them into jelly. Tomorrow, hopefully. I've been doing a lot of reading, binge-watching Friends from the very beginning, and drinking tea. On Sunday, I went to a matinée of IF I STAY and really enjoyed it! I still haven't read WHERE SHE WENT, so it's definitely getting bumped up my TBR pile.



Well, that's about it for my week.
SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?


* This is not normal for September here, in case you're thinking this is par for the course for Canadian weather. Nope.

September 3, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to connect writers on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you'd like to join us, we encourage you to visit other WUW blogs each week, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly love! Don't forget to leave the link to your post in the widget at the end of this post. ***And please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons provided. We really appreciate it!***

For those of you who are new to WUW, here are the headings we are using:

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO

Welcome, and thank you for joining us! 


WHAT I'M READING
I just finished reading THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN by Holly Black. I'm still not 100% sure what I think of it. The writing was pretty darn great, but story-wise, I was only so-so. I'm not super into overly descriptive/gory vampire stories (which is why I liked TWILIGHT and its sparkly, "veggie" vamps back in the day), so it wasn't really my cup of tea, but the quality of writing made it worth the read. This time of year I tend to crave anything fantastical or paranormal in the lead-up to Halloween, so it certainly fit that bill nicely. Bonus Points: It's what you might call a fresh take on vampires.

I picked up THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson next, and I'm super excited about reading it. I've heard nothing but good things about this book. And, not gonna lie, I can't help pre-judging this YA fantasy by its totally gorgeous cover.

WHAT I'M WRITING
Nothing at present, but I hope plan to get back into the swing of things this week. BICHOK, baby.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
The start of another school year, even if I'm not actively part of the school scene. (Though, depending on the number of sub shifts I'm able to snag this year, that might not be accurate.) There's something about it that just feels like turning a new page, more so than the actual January 1st New Year ever does. New notebooks, new pencils, new binders...new. So, I'm hoping to embrace this feeling and use it to my advantage both as a writer and as a gal who (yet again) feels like she needs some (drastic-ish) change in her life. We'll see how that all plays out, but I anticipate increased productivity!

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
Reacquainting myself with my everyday life. I set up camp in the post-vacation Pits of Despair for some time after our Europe trip, but I think I've mostly clawed my way back out again. Honestly, I blame the autumn weather we've been having for reminding me daily that not only is our trip done, but apparently so is summer. Don't get me wrong, I love autumn so, so much—Tea! Scarves! Fall fashion! Pumpkin-y treats!—but I could have used just a teensy bit more summer.

Uploading, labelling, and tagging over 400 trip photos on my Facebook page. It was wonderful to revisit everything we saw and did in photo form. I hope to one day return to most of these places in person as well. I've been racking my brain for some kind of story idea in all of these awesome and unforgettable experiences, but so far nothing has emerged. (Yet!) For now, here are some more photos. (I promise these are the last ones I'm posting here on my blog. Cross my heart.):

Ladurée macarons on the Champs-Élysées. (My first ever macarons. No big surprise, they were AMAZING!)
The golden gates of the Chateâu de Versailles. (The extreme opulence here was almost overwhelming.)
Beautiful cliffs and the equally beautiful English Channel off the coast of Dieppe, France.
(If you ever get the opportunity to visit the Normandy region, seize it with both hands!)
Gorgeous sculptures atop the pylons of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial (WWI) in France.
(This memorial and the battle at Vimy Ridge are such a huge part of Canada's national identity.) 
Our pipe band at St. Juliaan Canadian Memorial in Belgium. (I messed around with photo-editing software...) 

So that was then, this is now → Write. Exercise. Read. Eat better. Breathe. Etc. Etc. Etc. Onward and upward, right?


So, tell me...
WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?