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Monday, 25 March 2013

Music Monday :)

I've been wondering all day what song to post for you guys. I mean, there are probably a gazillion possible post-worthy songs, but this is the first ever Music Monday! It has to be good, right?

And then I realised I've had the answer all along. I adore this song, it's been in my head literally ALL DAY, it has a cute melody and an even cuter message, and, as if that wasn't enough, it's by the awesome Lady Antebellum! What more could you want?

I think this has to be in my top 5 favourite songs ever. It is PERFECTION!

Happy listening guys :) This is also a very applicable song for where I am in my MS at the moment, so it's especially close to my heart. I hope you love it as much as I do!

Of other news, I met my potential-step-first-cousins-once-removed on Saturday, and we celebrated my Grandma's 90th birthday! Happy birthday, grandma! And a shout-out to Alex and Megan, who have no idea how happy I am to finally have someone my own age at family gatherings -- even though I doubt they'll ever see this since I  forgot to tell them about about my blog *face-palms self* silly me!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Book Talk - Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow

Well hello again, dear friends. So nice to see you back here ;) I'm posting later than usual, so I'm just gonna get on with it.

16-year-old Dru Anderson (don't ask her what that's short for -- she'll kick your ass to Mississippi) has lived a nomadic life with her father forever. Until the night in the Dakotas when he leaves home -- in search of... what? He almost always takes Dru with him. Unless he's going somewhere really dangerous... -- and returns as a hungry, decaying zombie that bursts through her back door pursuing her relentlessly until she puts a bullet in its head. So, like all women, in her moment of panic... she goes to the mall. Where she sees Graves, an equal-parts sweet and awkward half-asian from school (who hit on her earlier and smokes like Vesuvius) who offers her a place to spend the night. In a back room, in the mall, where he lives.

Then a burning dog that smells like sulphur and a werewolf crash the party, and poor, innocent Graves -- who has no idea what the inverted cross around his neck means and wants to be a physics professor when he grows up, aww, geeky -- gets bitten. As in, by a werewolf.

Now let me explain something about werewolf bites. You get bitten, you turn. You have twelve hours, maybe less, before you run around in a crazed wolf-induced rage and kill everything in sight. There is no cure.

But Dru can't shoot another person tonight, can she? He was just trying to help her! He bought her a burger! And if you could see the look in those electric green eyes... she can't bring herself to, even though that's what dad would have done. So, amazing hostess she is, she takes -- I'm sorry, I mean drags -- him home, ties him to a bed, holds a gun to his head and asks him all kinds of personal questions that I won't share here, to be considerate of Graves's feelings. Because Graves hasn't turned, and it's been twelve hours...

That all sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well it gets worse. Dru's mother has been dead since she was five, and in this new town with only a desperate, geeky goth kid who lives in a mall for company, Dru sets out, armed with the touch, to find whatever-it-was that killed and reanimated her father, meeting guy-number-2 along the way. Christophe Reynard, a djamphir. (if you don't know what that is, I suggest you check out my friend's blog, dedicated to this series, here: )

and the amazon page:

Books in the series:
Strange Angels

Okay guys, let's just get this out there -- I AM TEAM GRAVES!!! Always have been, always will be. If you are Team Christophe, well, that's a fundamental personality flaw, but I forgive you because I think people should be able to talk about their differences and embrace diversity. That said, if you are not already a part of the Graves-loving family, here are the reasons why you should be:

He's adorable

He's loyal

He has a tortured past -- and let's face it, we readers lap up the sob stories

He risks himself, more than once, for some nutcase he barely knows who treats him like dirt

He doesn't sleep around (hehehe...)

Sure, he has flaws, but they're not huge ones. He's just a little too moody at times. And has the signature loup-garou temper

HE'S GORGEOUS! (at least in my head)

He never gives in, no matter what either world (this one and the Real World) throws at him

He's Dru's best friend -- and he's ALWAYS there for her. Which is more than can be said about Chris

He has the patience of a saint

He's smart -- not just another pretty face

I love him. And you trust my judgement, don't you? Have I ever steered you wrong?

So as you can see from that list, I am like the one-girl Graves fan club. But it's not just me! My friend Ellie loves him too. And Holly. And Jenny.

So now I have to know. Tell me the truth. Are you Team Graves?

Or Team Christophe?


Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Friend and Her Novel-in-Progress

So as the title suggests, one of my friends and critique partners is writing a fantasy novel that I am proof-reading and editing. The trouble is, I'm doing so as she writes it. And she's one of those weirdos (haha just kidding guys) who doesn't write in chronological order. In other words, she started in the middle and is writing, in both directions, from there.

Now, I for one could never do that, because of two words: character development. I have to begin at the beginning (well that's what the beginning is for, right?) and write till the end, without skipping any parts, no matter who bad my writers block is, because if I do skip -- I never go back. I learnt this little fact about moi whilst writing my Strange Angels fan-fiction. (Which I may or may not share parts of here -- what do you guys think? Do you want to see how awfully cheesy my writing was last year? I think I will post some scenes at some point, after I do a Strange Angels Book Talk -- which is coming tomorrow.)

It's still not finished. I went away for three weeks, came back with an original novel idea (my current WIP) and never looked back. The fan-fiction was really just my coping-mechanism to fill the Strange Angels-shaped void Lili St Crow left in my life after Reckoning. That void disappeared after reading Anna Dressed in Blood and rereading Anastasia Forever ;)

Wow I went off on a tangent there -- sorry! My point is, if I tried to write like that, I'd get the character development ALL WRONG. I have to move gradually, progressively from MC's old-self to new-self. Plot would be okay, I could cope with plot. It's my characters that would suffer, and as characters are one of the things which can make or break a novel, they have to be good.

And another thing: she keeps hinting at things and posing huge questions to the reader -- all of which is great writing, but I'm tearing my hair out here trying to get her to write faster because SHE REFUSES TO TELL ME!!!

I swear, when she publishes this (God willing) I'm going to buy two copies just so I can throw one at her! I have to buy two because the other one has to stay beautiful, I have serious book OCD. Cracked spines make me want to cry -- and highlighting makes me want to FAINT! (Hence why I don't go to second-hand shops very often, haha. And the author doesn't get any money from a second-hand sale.) Oddly enough, books are the only thing I'm even remotely OCD about, as this conversation I had illustrates:

Jenny: You bought a paper copy of Girl of Nightmares? WHY? You have it on Kindle!
Me: I know, but it has to match Anna Dressed in Blood, or my shelf will look weird! It'll be LONELY!
Jenny: Your shelf?
Me: Yes, my shelf.
Jenny: Your shelf?
Me: *sigh* My floor.
(BTW, Anna Dressed in Blood is one of those coveted faves that does get a place on the shelf, but you see what I mean)
Jenny: So anyway, then why didn't you get a paper copy in the first place?
Me: I couldn't wait the three days it would be before I could go book-shopping
Jenny: *sigh* Obsessive...
Me: HEY! I waited six months! I couldn't wait any longer, okay?

Yes, that's a real conversation I had last week. And yes, my room is that messy. Too much to do and not enough time -- between reading, writing, baking, blogging, school, homework, studying, social life and sleep, there is no time left to organise my room. It's a wonder I get all of the above done, let alone more. If my mother wanted me to tidy my room that badly, she should hide a chihuahua there. Now that would get me organised. Or Lady Antebellum. But I think hiding three people in my teeny room would be more of a challenge for her... :/

I think this post has come to an end. So, goodbye, my pretties. I'll see you tomorrow for Book Talk: Strange Angels series by Lili St Crow.

Au revoir! xxx

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Writing Wednesday -- Present v. Past tense; First v. Third person

Hi everyone -- how's life been treating you? All good, I hope :)

This Wednesday I'm adding my two cents to a debate which has been going on since the beginning of time -- okay, maybe not quite that long --and one which we're never going to reach a conclusion on, because it's almost entirely down to personal preference.

And that debate is: which is favoured by readers -- first person or third person? And what about the tenses -- present or past?

Let's do first v. third first. I think most YA is written in first person, but there is still a significant amount of third bobbing on the sidelines. I personally prefer first, because it's easier to relate to the protagonist. You are living their story as told by them, not living their story as told by some other guy you don't care about.

However, I'm not one of those people who will solely read one or the other, and person doesn't sway me in any way when buying a book -- that's the blurb's job, and to some extent the cover. But only a teensy weensy bit -- you can actually distinguish a lot from the cover. If it looks like a cliché -- emphasis on that word, I'll read un-cliché -- vampire novel, I'll run away screaming. The spine, if you think about, is actually really important, because it's the part people tend to see when it's on a shelf at Barnes & Noble or Waterstones or wherever. Bet you never considered that!

Reading I'm pretty impartial -- or at least accepting -- but writing I almost always write in first. I'm not sure why; I just prefer it, I guess. And I think I'm better with first than with third.

Now for present v. past. My preference on this is based on whether the book we're talking about is first or third person. If first, I prefer to read and write in present. I can't remember who, but someone said/wrote that present tense is awkward to read -- I couldn't disagree more. Many of my favourite books (Anna series, Dreaming Anastasia series...) are written in present, as is my current work-in-progress (WIP). I agree with Ms. Blake (yes, of Anna Dressed in Blood) when she said that it "lends a sense of immediacy" to the story which you just don't get with past. Suspense always strengthens a good story. And you can still foreshadow and use circularity and all that stuff writers use to heighten our reading experience -- in fact, the only thing you can't do is say stuff like "little did I know..." at the actual time when it is "happening" for the reader. Does that make sense? I hope you know what I mean, it's tough to explain. Meg Cabot uses it in Underworld when Pierce (the protagonist) says:

I didn't regret my decision. Except the part where I didn't stay where it was safe, the way Henry had warned me too. And that I'd left my candlestick behind.

This would be fine in a present-tense story AS LONG AS the event (not staying where it's safe) has already happened in the story "real time". In Underworld, this is right before Pierce leaves the safety zone and leaves her candlestick behind. Since the story is written in past, this is not a problem. However, if Cabot had been writing in present, and this was kept in the same place, it would be. See?

So yes, my favourite reading experience is first person present tense, hence why I'm writing my current manuscript in that way. But first person past is a close second, and I have many other favourite books that are written in this way (The Mediator series, Strange Angels series, Abandon trilogy...) -- more so than first person present, but that's because there are more books out there in first past, so statistically I'm more likely to have more favourites in the past, blah blah blah. I'm not here to bore you with maths, so I'll shut up now, but you get the picture.

Third person is a whole different story -- here I think past tense is definitely the way to go. In third, present can sound awkward -- and I'm not telling you not to do it (I'd never do that), I'm just saying that if you must, be careful. Also, it sounds plain stalkerish. Take this sentence:

She opened the car door, collapsed in with a sigh, and slammed it shut before speeding away.

All good, yes? Not the most exciting of sentences, but there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it. Well, in present tense:

She opens the car door, collapses in with a sigh, and slams it shut before speeding away.

Can't you just picture the narrator watching her from a dark alleyway? I rest my case. It would be okay in the first person:

I open the car door, collapse in with a sigh, and slam it shut before speeding away.

You see? Maybe you want to sound stalkerish, or maybe you have another reason to use third person in the present tense -- in which case, go ahead. Knock yourself out. But don't say I didn't warn you. If I were you, I'd steer clear. (Car? Steer? Hahaha! XD)

And however you decide to write, beware of tense confusion. There is no other mistake that is simultaneously as easy to make and infuriating to read:

We walked side-by-side through the trees, dead leaves crunching under our feet. The darkness is suffocating, pressing down on our lungs and drawing all the air out. My friend was shivering beside me, cold air slithering under his thin coat.
There's a howl somewhere to my right.
"Did you hear that?" he asks, panic creeping into his voice like whatever creature prowled through the woods at night.
"Yes," I said. "A werewolf."

Can you spot all the mistakes in that? It's annoying, isn't it? Stick to one or the other, unless it's a flashback/memory/describing an event that has taken place bt was not important enough for the reader to "live" with the MC. Then it's okay to suddenly go into past, so long as you make it clear that it's a flashback or whatever.

On that note, my pretties, I'm going to go revise for my impending physics test of doom. See you on Friday :)
Love you all xoxo

Oh -- and if you're walking through the woods at night and you hear a howl, don't worry, it's not a werewolf. Probably...

Sunday, 17 March 2013

"As Soon as Batteries Run Out, We're Back to the Stone Age"

As my father had the audacity to point out while complaining that everything is done on calculators nowadays, as if he didn't use them ;)

But it's true. I couldn't live without my laptop - I use Microsoft Word for EVERYTHING - and a week with no T.V. (long story) has been hard for the whole family. Now, don't give me that look. I'm not a T.V. junkie! I don't watch soaps! And I gave up Friends (the show, not the people) for Lent. But the house is too quiet, even for a reader. It means my sister feels the need to fill the blissful silence with Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber. Not my kind of music. AND I'M GOING TO MISS THE GOT TO DANCE FINAL!!! *bursts into tears*

Vote Lukas McFarlane, everyone! Please, for me? *bats eyelashes*

Anyway. I don't think I could imagine a day without my trusty iPhone either. How on earth would I follow all the wonderful blogs out there? And emails would go unread, texts unsent... shudder.

But the worst is yet to come. My Kindle. Sure, I have a myriad of paper books to read. But it's nice to know it's there. And, even though I prefer paper books (they smell amazing! Chanel should make a perfume called "Eau de Livres" - I'd buy it) I NEED my Kindle if I've been waiting six months for a book to release and it doesn't come out on a weekend. Like the Girl of Nightmares incident ;)

So yeah. Society has become entirely reliant on electricity for survival. I haven't even gone into stuff like heating, cooking, water, light etc. I'd hate to see what would happen to us if it suddenly all shut down. I wonder if that could happen? Sounds like an interesting book idea to me, but I doubt I'll ever get around to writing it. 34,000-words-and-counting of my current WIP (work-in-progress) has me very busy. I can kiss my social life goodbye if I'm ever going to get the first draft finished, let alone all the editing and refining. *sigh*

But it's worth it, because I love my protagonist, and she deserves to tell her story. But it's not Wednesday yet, my pretties, so I'll leave it at that. Until then, happy rest of the weekend xoxo

Friday, 15 March 2013

Book Talk - the Anna series by Kendare Blake

Hey guys! For the very first Book Talk ever, I think I'll talk about one of my favourite series.

The first book, Anna Dressed in Blood, is set for the most part in Thunder Bay, Canada, and the protagonist, Theseus Cassio Lowood (or Cas to most people) is a 16-year-old ghost hunter who "kills" - for lack of a more apt word - ghosts, living a nomadic existence with only his mother, a kitchen witch, for company.

Until he gets a note from Daisy, one of his contacts who finds new ghosts for him to wipe of the surface of the earth. This is when Cas's story really begins, an epic tale of love, loss, and of course, death.

(That sounds really dark, but it's really not that bad. It's the perfect balance.)

Along the way Cas meets Carmel Jones, school queen bee. What I absolutely love about Carmel's character is that she IS NOT your stereotypical, dumb-blonde, look-at-me-I'm-so-much-better-than-all-of-you-because-I'm-a-cheerleader-GOOOOOO-WILDCATS! queen bee that is usually found in fiction. She's smart, kind, and actually pretty damn brave.

Also joining the gang is Thomas Sabin, awkward, geeky goth kid on the surface, witch and mind-reader underneath. Let's just get this out there: Thomas is CUTE!

And of course, book's namesake character, the infamous Anna Dressed in Blood.

"Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story"

Ok, you're sold already, aren't you? Great! If you want to know what has to say about this awesome (here I go again...) book, just click right here.

The sequel, Girl of Nightmares, is equally awesome, but I won't talk about it here because to do so I'd have to spoil the ending of book 1 for you all, which in my book (haha, geddit? I'm so punny) is bordering on sin.

Kendare Blake is an amazing author and a lovely person; I couldn't help myself -- just had to send her an email to tell her how IN LOVE I am with Cas -- and she was sweet enough to reply. I've found, to my half-surprise, that authors actually really enjoy receiving emails from crazy teens gushing about their awesomeness (well, now that I think about it, who wouldn't? I know I would, if I ever write anything gush-worthy) and so long as you don't ramble for tooooooo long, and say something smart that your english teacher would be proud of, fan mail is generally well-received. That's my experience anyway. I know if I ever published a book I'd LOVE to be emailed about it (hint hint...) and, narcissist I am, I'd save every single one :)

Rating: 5/5

Genre(s): Paranormal, Horror, YA, Supernatural

If anyone out there has read either of these and wants to talk about it, drop me a line:


One of my best friends is reading it, but she's not far enough in to talk about it without ruining stuff yet ;) And there's only so long that Kendare Blake will put up with me, haha.

So long, my pretties. Until next time! xoxoxo

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The good things - me, myself, and my favourite blog

Hello world. Let me introduce myself. My name is Hannah and I'm a teenage reader, (unpublished as of yet) writer, baker, dreamer, chihuahua-lover, Lady Antebellum fan, and now blogger.

Now that we're friends, on with the post :)

There are some good things in life that we want to keep selfishly all to ourselves... like chocolate. More for me, right?

But as Barney the Purple Dinosaur taught us at the ripe age of 4, sharing is good. It makes you friends. And there are other good things that get better when you share them! I don't know if you've ever tried to ride a see-saw by yourself (me? Of course I haven't...) but it's waaay more fun with a friend.

Well, my hands-down favourite blog falls into that second category. What's the fun of reading something if you can't then go rave about it with like-minded awesome people? And that, my pretties, is why I'm sharing this nugget of sheer awesomeness with you! Here you go:

The only writing blog you will ever need is run by the lovely Stephanie Morril, Jill Williamson, Roseanna White, Gillian Adams and teen author Rachel Coker. Everyone at Go Teen Writers (or just GTW) is amazingly talented, so sweet, and super helpful, but I think Rachel is particularly inspiring because she is only 16 years old and has had 2 books published! Yes, 16!

So now before you read every single post on aforementioned awesome (yeah, I like that word. You'll get used to it) blog, I'll let you know what my plans are:

I LOVE reading. So if you do too, come on down every Friday, and I'll do a short, informal review-type-thingy on either a book I've read recently, or one of my long-standing favourites.

Do you like writing too? Awesome! I'd love to see you here every other Wednesday, to chat, discuss, listen to me complain about my manuscript... nah, just joking. We'll have so much fun!

What - did you say you like baking too? Wow, you really are like me! I bet we're secret sisters or something. Interested in recipes and pictures, visit me on the last Sunday of every month - I wish I could bake more often but school etc gets in the way :(

Every other Monday, in the week that doesn't have Writing Wednesday, I'll post a link to some cool music that I think is good to write to. Sometimes it'll have lyrics, and other times it'll be Beethoven. Depending on my mood ;)

And just to keep it fresh, occasionally I'll do a fun "Top Ten" or otherwise random post so you can see just what I nutcase I really am... oops, pretend you didn't hear that! :D

So long, my pretties, and remember: "you gotta know when you got a good thing" :)

Told you I like Lady Antebellum xoxo