Being a Writer… Or Not.

Whenever I get serious writer’s block, I always try to evaluate whether or not this means I just need to stop writing. I’m not trying to be a quitter by any means, but forcing something that God doesn’t have in your plan… doesn’t work well.

Maybe being a writer isn’t what I’m supposed to do, and you know, that’s okay. I used to treat writing as way more important than it actually is, and so whenever I get strong writer’s block I try to pay attention. I take breaks, I pray, I try to read more…

I’ve thought about this a lot, and while I (think, haha) I’m a writer, it really is only a small part of me. I am actually so many things. I’m a writer, but I’m also a reader. I’m a student. An employee. A sister. AN AUNT!!! (ahem. Sorry, that’s still kind of new, but let’s be honest, I’ll never not be excited). A friend (at least to my mom’s dog. 😉 )

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So, yes, even though I haven’t finished a project in a long time, and even though writing is like pulling teeth, I think I’m still a writer. I still understand writer quirks (and probably still do some of them). I still sort of have a grasp of grammar. 😉 I still think books are beautiful and I try to recognize the ton of hard work that goes into them (I don’t know if I can until I go through it myself.)

But I’m not just a writer and I think sometimes writers can be very exclusive. I’m a writer, but I’m a writer that takes breaks (if you don’t believe me, when was the last time I blogged??) I’m a writer but I don’t need just writer friends. I’m a writer, but my sister still pays attention and understands the writing side of me really well.

I guess just like you shouldn’t label other people, you shouldn’t label yourself either. Labels can be limiting, and as a writer who tries to stretch the imagination, shouldn’t limiting be something I’m trying not to be?

Whether I am a writer or not, the only label that really matters is what God labels me as. As long as I’m His nothing else matters. (and if I’m not writing for Him, I don’t need to be writing anyway right? 🙂 )

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The House on Foster Hill ~ A Book Review

The House on Foster Hill

About the book: 

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

My review:

Jaime Jo Wright told an interesting story. It was so suspenseful! But for some reason it just seemed to take awhile for me to get interested in it, and it was hard for me to stay interested… Maybe I wasn’t that attached in the characters and there was a lot of action?

So, while I did like some of the intense action and mystery scenes… it didn’t totally capture my attention. My attitude towards this book was more of something like, “oh, I guess I can read more now”… not exactly why my reaction usually is when I’m reading a gripping mystery or suspense novel– when I want to know what happens next and I want to know now!

All in all, it was an interesting read and, while she did not become one of my favorite authors, I wouldn’t mind giving her another try one day.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Interview with Taylor Bennett!

Today I’m interviewing super cool and talented author, Taylor Bennett!

Before we get started here is a little bit about her:

Taylor Bennett

Homeschooled since kindergarten, Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of Porch Swing Girl, which will be released by Mountain Brook Ink on May 1st. When she’s not reading or writing, Taylor can be found playing her violin or taking walks in the beautiful Oregon countryside. She loves to connect with readers via her author website, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (her favorite!), Pinterest, and Goodreads.

You can connect with her and/or buy her book at these links:

Website: http://taylor–bennett.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaylorBennettAuthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/writer__taylor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taylor.bennett.author/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/Taylor__Bennett/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/66039360-taylor-bennett

You can order her book on Amazon here!

Onto the questions! 😀

1. If Porch Swing Girl were to be made into a movie, who would you cast to be Olive, Brander, and Jazz? (If all three are too difficult, you can just pick one. 😊)
Honestly (probably because I don’t watch many movies…) I can’t think of any actors or actresses that would really fit my characters. Plus, I love the idea of giving opportunities to new, up-and-coming talent. For that reason, I would most likely hold open casting calls and pick up raw talent, hoping that they could get their start in Hollywood from Porch Swing Girl.
2. What was the hardest part of the writing journey in Porch Swing Girl?
The hardest part was definitely the editing process! I had no idea how difficult it was to actually write a cohesive, suspenseful story…but I sure did after I went through a few (out of six) rounds of content edits! Surprisingly, I’m actually more of a “plotter” than a “pantser,” which means that I prefer not to write by the seat of my pants. Now, as I’m writing the sequel to Porch Swing Girl, I have the entire story already written out as a rough list of scenes…much more convenient!!
3. If you had to choose, what are some books you would say are similar to Porch Swing Girl?
Hmmm…I’ve been told that it’s similar to The Fault in Our Stars, but I actually haven’t read that so I can’t say if that’s true or not 😊
It’s somewhat similar to This Quiet Sky, by the amazing Joanne Bischof, except Porch Swing Girl is longer and less sad.
Honestly, though, that’s a tough question because, while there is a romance thread in Porch Swing Girl, it’s not necessarily a romance book like most of the other YA novels on the market today. Does that make sense? Maybe?
4. While you were writing Porch Swing Girl is there a song that you associated as your book’s “theme song”? If so, what was it?
Oh my goodness!! Porch Swing Girl had so many theme songs. It actually got its own playlist. One of my favorites, though, is a song called “I’ll Think About You” by my favorite band, We Are Messengers. This song is poignant and touching and it perfectly sums up exactly how Olive is feeling at the start of the book.
5. What is one thing you hope a reader will take away from reading your book?
I really want readers to know that God has their back—what it says in the Bible is true: God will never leave you or forsake you, He has a plan for your life, and He will cause everything to work together for your good if you love Him and put your trust in Him. It can be so easy to lose heart, but I hope this book reminds readers that God will never abandon you—no matter who else does.
6. What was the most exciting part of Porch Swing Girl? (Writing? Editing? The contract?)
Aargh! What a tough question! Every part of this process has been sooo exciting. I’d probably have to say the most exciting part was when Miralee (my editor) first responded to my query and asked if I would be interested in writing a Porch Swing Girl-inspired trilogy. At that point, I hadn’t even written the whole first draft of Porch Swing Girl, but I already knew that I would love to have an excuse to spend more time with my amazing characters.
7. If you could live in a fictional place, where would you choose? Where would Olive choose?
Ooh, I would love to live in the Hundred Acre Wood. I’m a proud Winnie-the-Pooh nerd (if such a thing were to exist) and I love the idea of spending time playing Poohsticks and hunting honey with my favorite stuffed animals 😊
Olive definitely wouldn’t object to spending time in the Hundred Acre Wood either, but she’d also like to go to Neverland—where children don’t grow up, fairies flit from bush to bush, and everyone can fly with only faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust.
8. It’s a rainy day outside and the only thing to do is watch a movie… do you and Olive agree on what to watch or not? Which ones would you both choose and why?
We definitely agree! We’d both go for something touching and emotional, with a positive message throughout. Most likely, we’d watch Soul Surfer, especially because of its Hawaiian setting 😉
9. What is one way you and Olive are similar, and what is one way you are different?
Olive and I are both very determined—we have big goals and big dreams, and we don’t like it when others try to get in our way. Admittedly, this can be somewhat of a character flaw, and it’s definitely something that Olive learns to deal with throughout the story.
Olive and I are different because, while I have an adorable, lovable chocolate lab mix, Olive is positively terrified of dogs! She has a good reason, though, but that’s another story…
10. If Olive were a musical instrument what would she be?
Definitely a violin! Violins are notorious for being difficult to play and can sometimes sound a little “whiny.” Either people love them or hate them but, more often than not, they can learn to love the instrument after they listen to it for a while. Now, I’m not saying that Olive is whiny exactly, but she definitely has a unique personality—one that can come off as slightly abrasive to those who don’t know her. And, just like a violin, she can be very complex and difficult to understand 😊

Porch Swing Girl

Back cover:

What if friendship cost you everything?

 

Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.
With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.

 

But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged. Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted, Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket home. And time is running out.

I should be getting my paperback copy of Porch Swing Girl any day now, and I’m really excited to have it join other favorites on my book shelves. 😀 (and you can read my review of Porch Swing Girl here!)

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Porch Swing Girl~ book review!

I’ve recently had the pleasure of getting to the amazing Taylor Bennett… besides the fact that she’s super cool, funny, sweet, and smart, she is also an intelligent writer! She let me get an early copy of her book Porch Swing Girl and it’s time for me to give you my thoughts on it!

(And I realize I’ve used a lot of exclamation points, but she’s so cool, and her book is so cool, I couldn’t help it. 😉 )

Porch Swing Girl

About the book:

What if friendship cost you everything?

Stranded in Hawaii after the death of her mother, sixteen-year-old
Olive Galloway is desperate to escape. She has to get back to Boston
before her dad loses all common sense and sells the family house. But
plane tickets cost money—something Olive gravely lacks.

With the help of Brander, the fussy youth group worship leader, and
Jazz, a mysterious girl with a passion for all things Hawaiian, Olive
lands a summer job at the Shave Ice Shack and launches a scheme to buy
a plane ticket home before the end of the summer.

But when Jazz reveals a painful secret, Olive’s plans are challenged.
Jazz needs money. A lot of it. Olive and Brander are determined to
help their friend but, when their fundraising efforts are thwarted,
Olive is caught in the middle. To help Jazz means giving up her ticket
home. And time is running out.

My Review:

This book is so, so good! It swept me away, and I did not want to put it down for anything. Taylor makes her character’s so relatable and life-like, it’s crazy.

You feel the struggles Olive goes through, and you want to be her friend and have her as yours. I didn’t want this story to end!

Taylor paints Hawaii beautifully with her words, I felt like I could see it clearly. Not only did I feel like I knew these characters, I felt like I was there with them physically in Hawaii (and who wouldn’t want to be in Hawaii? XD)

Taylor Bennett weaves a story together with love, laughter, and faith, and I can’t wait to keep reading her writing!

(and I can’t wait to preorder her book and own it on my shelf and reread a million times….)

Also… there was a bonus chapter for her next book and I may have mentally screamed out of excitement.

She is very talented and I would recommend this book.

About Taylor Bennett:

Taylor Bennett is the seventeen-year-old author of contemporary YA fiction. Homeschooled since kindergarten, she is a proud homebody who suffers from the rare–yet always severe–case of wanderlust.

Although she dreams of traveling to many different places, her favorite destination thus far (aside from her charming hometown in Oregon) is Lahaina, Hawaii. Taylor was so enamored with this tropical town that she became determined to write about it, hence her debut novel, Porch Swing Girl, the first in a series of books set in Hawaii.

A lover of literature since birth, Taylor found her love of writing fueled under the instruction of Andrew Pudewa and the other teachers at the Institute for Excellence in Writing, where she now works as an editor for their magazine.

When she isn’t writing, Taylor enjoys cooking, drawing, and taking long walks in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

(Bonus fact about Taylor: She and I actually host monthly writer chats on twitter! The last Sunday of every month, follow #InklingChats to keep up. :D)

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Writer Wednesday: The Beginning

If you are a writer, then you have probably heard about how important it is to have a good beginning. A good first sentence/paragraph/chapter… the beginning is the chance you have to hook your reader… and you want to do that so they will read your whole book! Right? Right (ish). (A problem many writers struggle with, myself included, is not wanting others to read you book. *sigh* It’s a rough life, let me tell you. 😉 )

The first sentence can be tricky because I try to capture my main character’s personality, and the overall feeling of the story. So, it takes me approximately 50,000 words to write a novel (and that is just approximately) but I’m supposed to give my book a good first impression, capture the overall feeling of the story, and my main character’s personality? Without it being a run-on sentence?

Uuuggghhh.

Do you ever write and think, “This is really hard, why do I do this to myself?” But at the same time you think, “I LOVE WRITING”. That’s basically me every time I write…

For fun I figured I’d share some of my first lines. Not because I think I know everything, but because they are mine and maybe I’ll learn how I need to change them. 🙂

1. From my story Pieces of My Heart: Most of the time, I prefer to be alone, but every now and then I long to be with someone who truly cares about me.

In this story, Rindy has been hurt and is very shy. So I tried to convey that with the first line “prefers to be alone” and it’s not that she hates all people, but she wants to be with someone who cares about. Not someone that is just forced to care about her because they are family, but “truly cares”. She does also have a sarcastic and silly streak, but compared to being shy and lonely, those are lesser personality traits to her.

2. From This Very Moment: We had one photograph of my mother when I was growing up.

Marilyn, the main character, was raised by her grandparents and had no contact with her mother. That picture was the only connection she had to her mother, and it was important to her. I think it helped emphasize the gap in her life that a mother would have filled? I don’t know, I just write the story. The characters don’t ask my opinion of stuff. 😉

3. This next one is from an unfinished, and unnamed project about a girl who worked in a hotel that her parents owned:  Whichever way you turn it, it wasn’t exactly a glamorous life I led.

I kind of wanted to compare it to Cinderella’s life and how always cleaning doesn’t equal a happily ever after. She was a little disappointed in her life because her parents were busy and didn’t always understand what she was going through.

4. Okay this last one I’m sort of working on off and on, tentatively calling it The Voice for now. It’s about a girl who has supernatural abilities and can kind of read people’s mind. It’s not exactly mind reading, though, it’s just like if she gets close to someone she suddenly knows things about them (she explains it as ‘getting a feeling’ about someone). The better she knows a person, the better she can read them, but the only person she is really close to is her brother. Anyway. More info then you needed, but here is the first sentence:  I’ve always had feelings… or just plain talent.

In this first sentence I tried to convey that there was something different about my main character. She wasn’t a… normal person. She was special, and she had been her whole life, in an unexplainable way.

I’d love to hear some of your first sentences! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by on this week’s post of Writer Wednesday!

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Out of The Ordinary~ Book Review

About the Book: 

Miss Gertrude Cadwalader hoped her position as the paid companion to Mrs. Davenport would be easy. But as she becomes acquainted with her employer, she realizes the wealthy Mrs. Davenport has a strange tendency to be a bit light-fingered with other people’s trinkets. Gertrude is relieved when Mrs. Davenport decides to have a quiet summer away from the social scene–until the woman changes her mind in order to help a young socialite launch into society.

When Gertrude is caught in the act of trying to return one of the trinkets by Mrs. Sinclair, the mother of shipping magnate Harrison Sinclair, the woman jumps to an unfortunate conclusion. Harrison is determined to mend fences with Miss Cadwalader, but he’s unprepared for the escapades a friendship with her will entail.

Out of the Ordinary

 My Review: The book starts off well. Gertrude is frantically looking for her employer– an older woman who has a terrible habit of coming into possession of things that don’t belong to her…

At first I thought, “This book is going to be good…” There was a lot of potential for humor, and creative characters. But… as the story went on, that’s all I saw: Potential.

Which is great, this author has great potential! She sets up scenes that are amusing, but really the characters are what I don’t like. As weird as it may sound, her characters talked way too much. Instead of having things happen, they only talked about things happening. In really long paragraphs. It was disappointing. I want to be where the action is, not reading about the characters talking about the action. The whole book seemed to be this way.

There were, in my opinion, too many characters as well. It could be hard to keep track of them all, and some of them seemed a bit unnecessary. (This is a book in a series, so maybe if I had read and ‘knew’ the other characters it would be easier to keep up with them.) That’s actually another thing I didn’t like so much about this book, it felt like a lot had happened and I would have known the characters a lot better if I had read the other books. Maybe that’s my bad though.

All in all, the book seemed to be very slow. Instead of action there was talking… instead of resolving problems by taking initiative and doing something, they would instead have extremely drawn out conversations about said problem. Honestly it made me think of an author trying to get a word count down, instead of having the polished final draft…

But like I said, I could tell the author had a lot of potential to be a hilarious author with a good story, this just wasn’t the best thing she could create. I’m not trying to be mean, but be truthful and maybe encourage her… 🙂

I got this book for free from the publishing company.

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An Exciting Announcement!!!

Late last week, a writing friend of mine, Taylor Bennett (you can check out her website here!), and I were planning a (REALLY COOL) secret project. If you follow either of us on social media, you may have seen us talking about it…

And today… WE GET TO TELL YOU WHAT IT IS!

Inkling Chats photo

Inkling Chats! Once a month, on the last Sunday of every month, Taylor Bennett and I will be hosting a chat, for writers! We’ll be talking about things every writer faces, every month, for thirty minutes!

You can follow us, and the hashtag to keep up with what is going on. Any topics you want us to cover? Do you plan to join in? We look forward to having you!

Also, you should look on the super awesome Go Teen Writers Website… they may or may not be posting about this soon! 😀

So this isn’t what I had planned for Writer Wednesday (and I actually had a writer Wednesday post written and scheduled! Can you believe it?) but this is pretty important too. 🙂

I’m so happy that I just happened to open up a document on my computer, saw that it said, “Inkling Chats” and opened it to see what it was all about. I had completely forgotten about it! I’m so thankful that Taylor was so onboard and excited about this (she made the super cool graphic!!!!) and that we were able to set it up so quickly so we could get this thing going to kick off in January!

Keep following along and you’ll keep seeing updates!

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