April 16, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Total Eclipse of the Moon Edition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to help 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.

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

WHAT I'M READING
WHAT I'M WRITING

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

Welcome, and thank you for joining us!




WHAT I'M READING
Still plugging away at THE ORENDA (for book club) and making attempts to read a bit of WAR AND PEACE here and there (for my Chapter A Day Classics personal challenge). I've been reading DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor for the better part of a week and I wish I could say I'm finding it unputdownable. Alas, it's been way too easy to put down or not pick up at all. The prose is beautiful--no surprises there--but it could really use some tightening up. Things that could and probably should be said in a single sentence go on for pages. I'm finding this a little frustrating. That said, I'm eager to see how this series wraps up.

WHAT I'M WRITING
I'm starting to feel like a broken record, but I didn't write as much as I would have liked to this week. I managed to revise a couple of chapters and make some changes to a few things elsewhere in the story. As always, I'm constantly brainstorming and mulling over issues in my story while doing other things. Now just to transfer these ideas to actual revisions. Taking it bird by bird. Still. 

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
The total lunar eclipse and Mars close approach that took place extremely early Tuesday morning. My YA sci-fi WiP has to do with Mars, so needless to say, this was pretty exciting for me. When the clouds started rolling in, I was worried we'd miss this somewhat rare event. Thankfully, the cloud cover was intermittent, allowing us to catch most of the eclipse as it was happening and the spectacular "blood moon" that was the result. Our camera is less than stellar, so sadly we weren't able to capture it in photo form. Toward the end, the clouds won and we couldn't see much anymore. What we did catch was, in a word, AWESOME. Anything space-related simultaneously fascinates and frightens me, but it was so inspiring and wonderful to witness this event.



I've had "Total Eclipse of the Heart" stuck in my head ever since. So, you know, that's fantastic. #not

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
I took my first ever substitute teaching shift in a grade 6 French immersion classroom this past Friday. Given the fact that it was my first time back in the classroom in five years, their second day with a sub, and a Friday to boot, I think it went rather well. It was so nice breaking my teaching dry spell with a great experience. I'm looking forward to subbing again soon and, if I'm lucky, finding a full-time teaching gig for the 2014/2015 school year. I thought I was done with teaching, but maybe I'm not after all. 

And...to increase my appeal as a job-hunting teacher, I'm brushing the dust off my French skills and taking university-level courses at a distance (as part of a French language certificate program) starting May. I've missed being a student, so I'm thrilled about this. Anything to help me reach fluency once and for all. Plus, it'll be handy when we're in France + Belgium this summer.

And we bought a new car! Todd and I have never owned a brand new vehicle, so we're both super psyched. We bought a 2014 Ford Escape in "Deep Impact Blue"* and we're both over the moon in love with it. You know what this means, right? I no longer have an excuse not to get my license. To which I say: BRING IT. (Maybe if I act like it doesn't totally freak me out, it won't. Hmm.)




Well, that's it for me.
SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU, FRIENDS?


*  I sincerely hope this won't make it a target for comets or asteroids. That would be so not cool. Or hail. Hail sucks big time.


April 9, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by me and my sister, Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you'd like to join us, we encourage you to visit a few 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.

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'm partway through PRODIGY by Marie Lu, the second book in her trilogy. It's definitely good, but I'm itching to read something a bit different right now. I'm also slowly working my way through this month's book club read, THE ORENDA by Joseph Boyden. I wish I could say I'm into it, but it's not something I would ever pick up myself. I've learned a lot about the Wendat (Huron) and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) peoples, and a smattering of info about the Anishnaabe (Odawa, Ojibwe, and Algonquin) by reading it, so that's a plus. This latter group is of particular interest to me as Erin and I can trace a small part of our heritage back to the Anishnaabe people in Qu├ębec. So while I probably wouldn't have picked this one off the shelf, at least I'm learning from it, right?

WHAT I'M WRITING
Let's just say it feels like a textbook case of 'one step forward, two steps back'. It honestly feels like I'm making so little actual progress on this WiP, and it's slowly driving me crazy. I haven't found that revision groove just yet, which is partly to blame. Plus, there's that whole thing where you undo (or snip) one thread and the whole story starts to unravel. But I'm still pushing on, trying my best to resolve these issues as they crop up. Like a neverending, not-so-fun game of Whack-a-Mole. At some seedy carnival. With creepy Stephen King's IT-like clowns. Anyhoo. I'm bird by birding the heck out of this story, hoping it'll eventually pay off.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
[See BIRD BY BIRD quote above.]

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
I took part in Elodie Nowodazkij's cover reveal of her debut novel ONE, TWO, THREE the other day. It's wonderful to see such a lovely person realize her dream. And just so you know, she's hosting an international giveaway of ARCs and other great stuff.

Clutter is an enemy to my creativity, this I know. For some time now, my home office has become a dumping ground for all manner of junk. It's not exactly somewhere I want to sit and work, mainly because I find the clutter distracting. So I finally did something about it: I found places for almost everything, framed then hung pictures and a bulletin board, purchased a storage bench (it's red, my favourite colour ), and so on. I keep walking into my office to admire the tidiness and all of the fun colours.


Clockwise from top left: Framed tea print from Hairbrained Schemes on Etsy; my red
storage bench (with cushion for kitties, obviously); I offloaded my hideous office chair
and I'm currently using a wood dining chair with a super cute Pier 1 seat cushion; another
Hairbrained Schemes print with a C. S. Lewis quote about books + tea ; a bulletin board
over my desk with WiP notes; lady bug push pins; and fun canvases with birds + flowers.

Well, that's my week in a (sort of large) nutshell. 
SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU, FRIENDS?



April 8, 2014

Cover Reveal: ONE, TWO, THREE by Elodie Nowodazkij

A couple years ago, back when I had first started writing and had what felt like a half-baked WiP on my hands, a lovely lady in Germany by way of France approached me about becoming critique partners. I didn't have to think about this for more than a minute or two before emailing Elodie back, accepting her 'proposal'. Fastforward two or so years and this same lovely lady has decided to self publish her YA contemporary story, to "choose [her] own magic", which I think is pretty darn fantastic! (And an equally fantastic way of putting it.) In that time, we've become not just critique partners but friends (she's easily the sweetest person I know), so it's great to be involved in getting the word out about Elodie's book and to be a part of her cover reveal today.

So without further ado, I give you ONE, TWO, THREE by Elodie Nowodazkij:

Publication Date: June 26, 2014
[ Add to Goodreads ]

Elodie's cover was designed by Derek Murphy at CreativIndie Covers and does a wonderful job reflecting the story tucked inside.


Here's what it's all about:
When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love. 
Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive. 
But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her one-time prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career. 
At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell. 
But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself. 
Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?

Sounds pretty great, right? As someone who has read Elodie's book, I can tell you that you'll fall in love with both Nata + Tonio.



More about Elodie Nowodazkij, author of ONE, TWO, THREE

THE SHORT STORY: Young adult author, Elodie Nowodazkij writes the stories swirling in her head during her commuting time.

THE LONG STORY: Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master’s degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn’t seem to realize he’s not human), and uses her commuting time to write the stories swirling in her head. She's also a serial smiley user. ONE, TWO, THREE is her first novel.

* Learn more about Elodie's upcoming releases by subscribing to her NEWSLETTER.*

WEBSITE  •  BLOG  •  TWITTER  •  GOODREADS


Giveaway

And because Elodie is as generous as she is sweet, she's giving away some pretty great stuff, including ARCs of her debut novel:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

[N. B. Giveaway is open internationally.]




* Special thanks to Giselle over at Xpresso Book Tours for setting this all up!

April 2, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop to help connect writers on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you'd like to join us, we encourage you to visit a few 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.

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 finished THE GIVER by Lois Lowry this week, and I really enjoyed it. It kind of surprised me that a few YA dystopians I've read in recent years were clearly heavily influenced by this work. I'm not sure how I feel about that, especially since some of these similarities were...pretty darn obvious. I have to say, I do  kind of wonder at what point a nod to an earlier work becomes something more.

Next, I reread LEGEND by Marie Lu (it's been more than two years since the first time) so I could continue on with the rest of the trilogy. Well, look at that! Two dystopians in one week. What would the publishing industry have to say about that?! (*snort*) 

WHAT I'M WRITING
I didn't spend as much time writing this week as I would have liked. Erin and I spent Thursday afternoon and evening working on our WiPs. I think I managed to get through revising one chapter, adding a bit more to another chapter, and tweaking some character details. The latter led to making a Venn diagram for the relationship between two of my characters and then a bullet list with info about two other characters. So, all in all, I guess I was productive. I hope to get way more revisions done this week.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
I think because Erin and her husband have gotten into Veronica Mars recently, and also thanks to watching the movie, I felt like watching the series again. (I have them on DVD.) The show does many things well (witty banter, character development, suspense...), but perhaps one of its strongest points is its ability to maintain a season-long story arc without dropping threads or abandoning it for several episodes at a time. I guess you could say it's great research for writing, especially if there is an element of mystery in your WiP.

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
I'm turning into the little granny that could. I've always been into crafting--sewing, knitting, cross-stitch, a little crocheting--but haven't done a whole lot in recent years. Often times I'll start a project like knitting a sweater, get partway in, then set it aside. So, I think that's why smaller projects like the boot cuffs I made last week are appealing to me right now. And, hey, if the sky is going to continue to poop snow, I might as well do something that feels weather appropriate, right? This week's crafty project of choice: knitting socks.


Gorgeous sock wool I purchased yesterday (I spent WAY too much on yarn); the beginnings of a sock (it took AGES to knit
this much because the yarn and needles are so small); and my attempt at replicating the socks we wear in my pipe band.

Other than that, it's been a mostly uneventful week. But uneventful is just fine with me. SO, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU?


March 26, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop to help connect writers on this writing journey. With that aim in mind, if you'd like to join us, we encourage you to visit a few 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.

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 read Rosamund Hodge's CRUEL BEAUTY this week. As a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling, I wouldn't say it was my favourite.* There was a good deal of Greek mythology woven into the story, perhaps due to the "Cupid and Psyche" myth from which many of these stories supposedly spring. I could also spot hints of "Bluebeard" and "Rumpelstiltskin" tossed in there as well. I loved the romance and the gorgeous prose, but I was sometimes confused by the world building and certain plot points, particularly the ending. If you're looking for a dark twist on the "Beauty and the Beast" tale that is heavy on the Greek mythology, then you should really check it out! 

Next up:  THE GIVER by Lois Lowry, which I'm sort of embarrassed to admit I haven't yet read.

WHAT I'M WRITING
This was another reasonably productive week for me on the writing front. I can feel myself starting to fall back into a routine, which is fantastic. Erin and I did our Skype/Google Hangouts writing session twice this week, and during that time I managed to revise three chapters. One of these chapters was a total pain in the neck (tons of changes needed to be made), so I'm happy to have that all fixed. We're trying to make these writing sessions a regular thing, and I'm over the moon about it. The accountability works wonders for me.

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW
I stumbled across some great articles by authors this week, but my favourite was a guest post by Sarah Ockler on Stacked: Challenging the Expectation of YA Characters as "Role Models" For Girls. I felt like she did a great job of providing a balanced opinion on this topic, and it left me thinking about the subject long after I finished reading it. Definitely food for thought if you're trying to write authentic YA female characters, but also for those times when you sit down to write reviews of the YA books you read. You should check it out!

WHAT ELSE I'VE BEEN UP TO
Erin and I did our Roswell Challenge** again this week. I think I'm to the point now where I don't despise the notion of hopping on the treadmill for that brief chunk of time. (Well, once the hubs properly calibrated the thing so it would stop speeding up to near-lethal levels for no good reason.) I think this challenge should be more aptly named Operation See Ya Saddlebags or Buh Bye Bubble Butt. 

I decided I wanted a pair (or twenty) of boot cuffs. (Yes, we still have snow here. In fact, it's snowing like crazy as I'm typing this.) So I found some crochet patterns online and whipped up a pair yesterday. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. Someone at band pointed out that they're essentially 'boot dickeys' and now I feel like Howard Wolowitz with his dickey collection. Whatever. I like them.



The hubs and I did a theatre double feature on Saturday. First up was DIVERGENT, which we both enjoyed. (I didn't love INSURGENT and ALLEGIANT, so I wasn't sure I wanted to see this one in the theatre, despite loving the book on which it was based.) I thought they did a great job adapting it for the big screen, and I'm hoping maybe I'll actually like the sequels in movie form. Next up was 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, which I really kinda wish I'd skipped. All but one female character in the movie was featured in scenes of sexual assault, which I find highly disturbing. Badly done, Frank Miller. Between that and the excessive gore...well, that's a discussion for another day.

Not to make light of things, but the one real takeaway from this movie was further proof that Laura Linney screwed up royally in LOVE ACTUALLY when she chose not to jump Rodrigo Santoro (aka King Xerxes) when presented with the opportunity. I mean, look at him!


Looking good, Karl. Looking good.
(This movie had more six packs than a liquor store.)

SO, ON THAT AB-TASTIC NOTE, WHAT'S NEW WITH YOU, FRIENDS?


* I much preferred OF BEAST AND BEAUTY by Stacey Jay and EAST by Edith Patou (which is actually based on "East of the Sun, West of the Moon", but if you know your Aarne-Thompson classification system, they all fall under Type 425A.)

** Treadmill + Roswell = Almost Fun. Almost.