Celebrating Books with a Giveaway

Within These Lines release today! Therefore, we’re going to celebrate by chatting about the book and having a giveaway, because what’s more fun than a bookish giveaway? This post is going to contain my official review for the book, but it’s not going to be a normal review because this author is beyond that. I’m so thankful the author sent me an ARC copy of this book so I could share the joy with y’all!

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First off, let me tell you about the author. Stephanie Morrill started a fantastic blog for teen writers called Go Teen Writers. If you’re interested in writing at all – no matter how old you are – you should check it out. It’s full of honest, encouraging, practical, and ever-so-relevant writing advice. She’s also the author of a number of Young Adult books, ranging over several genres – contemporary, historical fiction, and even nonfiction. I also consider her my unofficial writing mentor, although I’m not sure she knows that since we’ve never met in person or even communicated in any way other than email. Pretty much she’s just an all-around amazing person with fantastic writing.

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And now, about the book. Within These Lines is about Evalina, an Italian-American, and Taichi, the son of Japanese immigrants. Life as they know it is disrupted when America enters WW2 and anti-Japanese feelings sweep across the country. Taichi and his family are forced to move to a Japanese-American internment camp where life is anything but a bed of roses. (Okay, maybe it’s a bed of roses, just the thorns part.)

This book is fantastically well-researched and superbly written as the author tackles the often untalked about subject of what America did with Japanese during the war. I remember the first time I was introduced to the subject of American internment camps I was horrified. This book does an amazing job of making the camps and situation come to life and wraps you up in the story until you feel like you’re right there in the drafty, crowded shacks with Taichi. Although it’s a very sad and unfair part of our country’s history, I think it’s important that we don’t bury and forget it, because history has a tendency to repeat itself.

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This book is real and gritty and sad without being hopeless – the author somehow hit a great balance with making the book exceedingly real while still being interesting and giving the readers the hope that better things are in store.

The characters are well-crafted and even though I didn’t like the way the handled certain things, they stayed very consistent to their character/personality. It was interesting to see how different cultures handled the various issues and troubles they faced. The author did an amazing job at creating a truly American/Japanese character in Taichi, vs. simply slapping a Japanese name onto an American character.

I gave Within These Lines four out of five stars and like it (and Miss Stephanie’s other books) so much that I wanted to share them with y’all. Sadly, I can’t actually host a giveaway with all of her books, but the winner will get to choose their choice of any of Miss Stephanie’s books. (A physical book for an address in the states, an ebook for international.)

A list of Miss Stephanie’s books:

Me, Just Different
Out With the In Crowd  
So Over It 
The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet
The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet 
Go Teen Writers
The Lost Girl of Astor Street 
Within These Lines

Enter the Giveaway Here 

That’s it for today, folks! I hope your Tuesday is going delightfully well!

Six Internet Tools for a Writer

The internet today is a wealth of information that makes an author’s life so much better. There are so many tools available and most of the time they’re readily available, free, and exactly what’s needed to help craft a winning story.

Here’s a list of Six Internet Tools for a Writer that I’ve found to be immeasurably helpful:

Pinterest

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If you have a hard time keeping physical settings to stay the same, or randomly have your character be blonde-haired and blue-eyed one day and dark-skinned with curly black hair the next… Well, then creating a board that reminds you exactly what everyone and everything looks like can be extremely helpful.

I personally skim over far too many details when I read, and therefore I don’t generally add enough setting and people-y details to my stories. Therefore, I’ve been working at figuring out exactly what everyone and everything looks like, and then sticking to it with pictures to keep me on track.

Note: Be careful what you search for especially when trying to find characters, to ensure you don’t come up with inappropriate pictures.

Grammarly

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My mom told me for months I should get Grammarly before I finally did the smart thing, paid attention to what she was saying, and downloaded the free version of Grammarly. The free version of Grammarly checks everything I write online, and among other things showed me how many typos and mistakes were slipping through my proofreading and into my blog posts. Y’all put up with a lot from me.

I have yet to check a whole book with Grammarly, and will probably buy the pro version before I do that, but I do check scenes, blog posts, emails, and many other little day-to-day writing-ish things. It’s fairly mindblowing to me how much Grammarly provides for free.

Go Teen Writers

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Yes. I’m really talking about this site again because I can’t hype it enough. It doesn’t matter what age you are if you want a website that’s clean, encouraging, helpful, and honest? Well, you don’t have to look any further.

An added plus for if you are a teen: They have a fantastic Facebook group for writers. I joined it when I was a teen and am really not sure where I’d be on my writing journey today if it wasn’t for the connections, encouragement, and feedback I received there. Also, they have contests and that’s pretty epic.

Book Reviews

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I’m not sure how many hundreds of hours I’ve spent over the years reading book reviews of books I know I’m never going to read, but the count is probably high. Amazon, Goodreads, and I are great friends. Often times when I’m sick, tired, or just need a breather, instead of pulling up a book to read I hop onto Amazon or Goodreads and browse book reviews. (Review blogs are also a great place to do this.)

Why?

There’s nothing like reading someone’s feedback on a book to help me figure out what’s popular in today’s society. This is especially helpful when it comes to popular books I know I’ll never read because of content they contain. (Although, there are a lot of books that I don’t even read reviews for if the content is bad enough.)

I also enjoy knowing what people do and don’t like in stories and then pondering what they said and figuring out if I should apply it to my books somehow. For instance, one day years ago I read in a review how the reader really enjoyed the food references the author made because, ya know, food is helpful for staying alive. This made me realize that I didn’t hardly ever mention food in my stories and I should remedy that.

This is also a great way to see what people are tired of reading. It doesn’t help to read a few reviews, but when you read dozens and then hundreds of them, you begin to see a pattern about what’s trending.

Sample Chapters

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There are far more books out there then any of us will ever be able to read. Therefore, sometimes instead of reading a book, I’ll go on a kick where I read sample chapters on Amazon.

This is something I generally do when I’m either really tired, sick, or in need of a good book. I’ll get on Amazon and start browsing. Amazon has this nifty little feature where it recommends similar books to you, so find one good story and a dozen others will pop up.

Sample chapters are incredibly interesting for a multitude of reasons, the main ones being:
1) You can learn what to do and not do to grip the reader from the first page
2) You invest ten minutes to get to know a new author and decide if they’re worth pursuing by requesting their book at the library or buying a copy
3) You’ll read new ideas that you never even thought of, but since you don’t know how it plays out you don’t have to worry about plagiarizing
4) You’ll get a broader idea of what’s on the market today
5) You’ll learn how to write better and more interesting characters
6) You begin to see what types of books and genres are intriguing to you

Google

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And of course, Google. Where’s a better place to find all the answers to writers dilemmas like How do you spell sesquipedalian? What are the signs of Scarlet Fever? When were the five greatest floods in the history of Montana? And all that type of jazz.

So there you have it, folks, Six Internet Tools for a Writer.

One more pro tip that I’ve been realizing is ever so true when it comes to writing and the internet: Have Internet Times and Non-Internet Times. This is essential for staying focused, orderly, and productive. If you sprinkle Googling, Pintersting, and the like throughout your dedicated work time then you’ll lose precious time and efficiency. Instead, what you can do is separate your writing times, editing times, and plotting times.  It really does make a difference.

Currently
Setting: Walking on the treadmill (I walked almost two and a half miles while writing this)
Listening to: Spotify on shuffle 
Random Fact: As a kid, I had to write a book report every week – it was good practice to becoming a book reviewer
Question of the Day: Do you ever read book reviews for books you don’t want to read? 

Go Teen Writers Cover Reveal (And Something That Thrills My Writerly Heart)

Do you ever get really excited about a book? Like, so excited you want to dance around while randomly shouting about it and hugging everyone who happens to get in your path? Well, that’s pretty much how I feel about this book.

Go Teen Writers has benefited my life immensely. First of all, it was the blog. Then the Facebook group, and then five years ago they published a glorious book that became my best writing resource and made my writerly heart happy with its loveliness.

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But guess what! It gets even better than that. Recently Stephanie and Jill decided to update and revise and re-release the book and they asked me to help with the final proofreading! (Pretty much the biggest honor of my writing career.)

Today is the Cover Reveal day, and I had tons of fun filming a video about the book. Enjoy!

Back Cover:

You know your first draft has problems, but what’s the best way to fix them? How do you know where to start editing? Or for many writers the bigger question becomes, “How do I know when I’m done?”

Popular bloggers Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson have been where you are, and they want to help you understand, and even come to love—yes, love—the editing process.

In this revised and updated edition of Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel, you’ll learn:

·         Methods for efficiently editing your novel.

·         What problems to look for in your manuscript and how to solve them.

·         Where to start editing, and how to know when you’re done.

·         How to keep track of your story’s character, storyworld, and setting details.

·         How a critique group can help you.

·         The pros and cons of traditional and self-publishing.

·         An overview of pitching your novel and making writing your career.

·         And much more!

Teaching yourself how to edit a first draft can feel hard, discouraging, and isolating. But using this guide, you’ll feel as encouraged, empowered, and capable—as if you had a writing coach sitting alongside you.

***

Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson released the cover of Go Teen Writers: Edit Your Novel. This updated version of How to Turn a First Draft into a Published Book has the same great information on editing but includes new chapters on historical fiction and self-publishing. The revised book releases Nov. 2, 2018.

For details and to download the first three chapters visit: goteenwriters.com/edityournovel.

Book Blogging – An 841 Day Dream Come True

Ever since the first time I heard Stephanie Morrill (founder of the oft-refrecenced Go Teen Writers groupmention the new project she was working on, I’ve been looking forward to reading it.

I just did what was supposed to be a quick search on the Go Teen Writers blog to see if I could figure out when she first mentioned the book. The search ended up lasting ten or so minutes because the posts I was skimming through held so much good information. In an effort to blog on time I’ve put reading-through old posts on hold, but I did leave the tab up so I could go back to it. (Really, if you’re wanting to become a better writer that blog is practically gold and you should totally check it out.)

September 22nd, 2014 was the earliest mention I came up with that Stephanie made of her historical fiction novel, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. That means I’ve been waiting to read that book for 841 days. Which, in turn, probably explains some of the excitement I felt when I found out I had been approved to be one of the participants in the launch team to get the word out about the book.

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It wasn’t until yesterday that I was able to get much reading done on the book (life you know, plus a previous book-to-review I was in the middle of reading). Last night I fell into Piper’s world though, and so far have throughly enjoyed it.

The fact that the main character’s best friend is named Lydia is really cool, and slightly disconcerting, at the same time. Lydia is a rather unused name in most of the books I’ve read, although it does come up time to time in Historical Fiction. (Or, in Pride and Prejudiced, but that Lydia is basically the worst example of a Lydia ever.)

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In addition to the book being really interesting so far, I also think the cover is totally delightful. That means I’ll most likely be buying a copy of the book once it’s released, because I only have the e-version. (I suppose I must have a “thing” for blueish covers, because this cover is not only beautiful but looks so intriguing.)

I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet, but I look forward to hopefully reading more later on today. My permeant retainer broke recently, which means a trip to the orthodontist, which means waiting room time, which means reading time. So yay!

Thank you, Miss Stephanie, for letting me read Lost Girl of Astor Street. I’m delighted at the privilege!

Giveaway Winners Announced!

First of all, Happy Day After Thanksgiving!

I have out-of-state relatives visiting for the rest of the week, so our festivities are continuing. Thanksgiving day was wonderfully delightful with lots of memory-making expereinces. I have lots of little nieces and nephews and having them together is a happy, chaotic experience that is fantastic, albeit a bit crazy at times. (As you can see in the picture below, my one-year-old nephew was excited to try out one of the pumpkin pies before it was even cut….)

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So! The giveaway ended at midnight and I was excited to see who the winners were, so of course I had to have Rafflecopter choose them right away. How it works is that the first winner receives the first prize, the second winner receives the second prize, and so on.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the giveaway! It was fun hosting it for y’all. Also, a huge Thank you to everyone who sponsored it! And, without further ado, the winners are…

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And, for your convenience:

Cait is the winner of the $25 Amazon Giftcard, sponsored by Free Bible Music 

Olivia is the winner of the $10 Amazon Giftcard, sponsored by Noveltea 

Rachel is the winner of the $5 Amazon Giftcard, sponsored by Noveltea 

Hannah is the winner of the Go Teen Writers book, sponsored by Stephanie at Go Teen Writers 

Hosanna is the winner of The Sparrow Found a House sponsored by Elisha Press

Linda is the winner of her choice of one of Amanda Tero’s  e-books, sponsored by Amanda

Nicole is the winner of  her choice of one of Amanda Tero’s  e-books, sponsored by Amanda

Heidi is the winner of her choice of any one of the books on my 5-star shelf on Goodreads, sponsored by Noveltea

Kaitlyn is the winner of  The Best of Buddy Davis Music CD, sponsored by Buddy Davis 

Rebecca is the winner of a physical copy of the book, Martha’s Fun Summer, sponsored by Bekah O’Brien 

I hope to email all the winners today. Have a great rest of the day, everyone!