How a banner in the sky is like excitement in your writing

 photo 763c7a71-2eb7-4601-848a-73b18155fd8c.jpgIt's funny (not funny haha; but funny, that's odd) how something you already knew about but never saw before IRL (in real life) can make you act like the biggest, most embarrassing tourist ever. When we were coming out of the parking lot, walking toward the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week (if you need to catch up, feel free to read my vacation post HERE), the OMG-get-a-picture-of-this-moment (not for us, but for some southern--obvious by the drawl--visitors) was seeing a humacious construction crane towering above a three-story building. We laughed, actually, because--I'm not kidding--one lady was jumping up and down, she was so excited about posing in front of that crane for a picture.

Our OMG-get-a-picture-of-this-moment happened the day we arrived in Long Beach. We'd unpacked, and decided to take a stroll to the beach; and as we stood on the sand, the neeeeeerrrrr (like my airplane sound?) of an airplane filled the air.  We looked up to see an airplane pulling a genuine advertisement banner behind it, and out. Came. The cameras.

I mean, it's an airplane!!!! Pulling a sign!!!! 

Me: They really do this!?!?! Not just in movies?!?!? HOLY CRAP guys, GRAB THE CAMERA!

Okay. I get that this doesn't seem like that big of a deal. But being as Lovemuffin is in construction, a *crane* wasn't that big of a deal, either, to us. Yet, those other tourists were grinning from ear to ear. See? It's different for everyone.

The feeling you get when you see something for the first time is so unique, isn't it? For one, it can never, ever be replicated again. For two, sometimes you look back and laugh at just how excited you got about it. 

This reaction is okay, however, because life without *squee* moments such as these would be very boring. We were created to have a full range of emotions, some of which are felt more often than others. And... my reason for sharing this? Well, the banner made me think about feelings and writing. Mainly, writing about first-time feelings. It's a hard thing to do--for me, at least--because descriptions of the visual variety aren't as difficult for me. But reactions? My stomach-did-this-and-I-felt-this-way as-he-opened-his-mouth-and-broke-my-heart descriptions? Totally different story. (Maybe that's why I like to talk my characters through what's going through their heads, instead of describing what's happening with their bodies. We all have aspects of things we aren't as strong at... and this is one area I'm wanting to expand.)

Anyway. Just wanted to share what one of the many things we experienced on our vacation taught me. It reminded me, as a writer, to stop and take notice of what I was feeling at certain moments. It also reminded me that sometimes you're so caught in the moment of things, you don't take account of the physical aspects of the situation. (This is important to remember.) That there's a fine line between describing a little, and telling so much that you actually pull the reader from the story. 

Last, it reminded me that overreacting about the little things is what makes us human, and those reactions are necessary to helping the reader identify with the characters. That's our job, as writers: to connect the letters and fonts on the page to the reader's heart and mind. 

A glimpse of Hollywood and a whole lot of other things

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Long Beach Selfie. This Seagull wouldn't stop giving me the eye for my sandwich, so I tricked it into posing for a photo by acting like I was taking a selfie.  Joke's on you, bird!

 This week, my family and I took our annual summer vacation. For the past, I don't know, six years or longer, we've always gone to Avila Beach (near Pismo), but this year, we decided to do something different, and even though it was crazy and chaotic at times (have I mentioned Lovemuffin thinks he's Speed Racer?) we packed a decent amount of stuff into just a few days and the trip really was a blessed one. But back to the decision process...

After some (very confusing) family "meetings", it was decided we'd try to go somewhere that still had a beach, but was also close to other places the girls had never been. And *that* decision lead us to... Long Beach. (Because it's near L.A., not too far from Valencia so the girls could go to Six Flags Magic Mountain, and also close to Hollywood--which of course is one of those towns you have to sightsee at least once.) Then, I went to VRBO (because this is now my favorite way to find vacation rentals) and after a bit of searching, found a nice-sized home in Long Beach. (That, my readers, is the short version of how things went, because in reality, the whole process of decisions and research and arguments--there *are* five of us, after all--took approximately a week.)

We arrived a few hours later than planned when our car decided to up and DIE days before we were set to leave. The problem was thought to be fixed, but the stupid suburban still had warning lights all over the dash the morning of our departure (I love computers, but computers and cars DO NOT MIX) so Lovemuffin wanted to get that all cleared up before we left. Note: This worked out well, actually, because I still had not been able to dog proof the fence to my liking (our Doxie is the most obnoxious dog you will ever meet, but nothing compares to how psycho the German Shorthair mix is if she's left outside when she's convinced you've made a mistake--read: In her mind, this is ALWAYS the case). 

To show you how psycho 2 of our 3 dogs are, here's a quick example. In preparation of being gone for seven days, we purchased automatic dog feeders and tried to get the doggies on a schedule. This was the biggest joke in the WORLD. 

FOOD! My dogs said. 






TURN FAT AS PIGS! (Not kidding. They looked like pot-bellied idiots and looked just as comfortable as them, too. Dogs with blobs of stomachs, tongues lolling. I guarantee they regretted their pig out status. Until the feeders were re-filled, that is.)

The very fancy, expensive, battery-operated feeders had lids that would not, no matter what you did, STAY SECURE. Definitely not made for a German Shepherd and German Shorthair mix's big paws to whack at. (They knocked them over and the lids flopped right off, spilling 3 feeders, each full of ten pounds of dog food all over the place. TWICE. Methinks this isn't the best design, automatic dog food feeder peeps. I beg of you to take note.) 

Hence my tweets last week about this issue, not to mention, my very proud subsequent Instagram photo of the dog-proofed auto feeders, shown above. (This took four of us way too many hours whilst watching--read: being distracted by--Disney's Teen Beach Movie. Not to mention, many battle scars, because chicken wire is not. Nice.) You probably can't tell, but I even drilled screws at each side of the feeder, so I could anchor them with wiring to the wood, so they couldn't be tipped over. Le sigh. 

Now on to Long Beach: I could bore you with a list of neat and unique features about the rental home, but I'll share my most favorite feature, instead: photo 5f800847-d38b-48df-9f68-dc32af358d23.jpg   An enclosed patio in the front of the house, surrounded by a beautiful, approximately 8 foot wrought iron gate and lively, overgrown plants throughout. Alas, it was the best reading and writing area EVAR. And of course, by the end of the first day's stay I was already scheming on how I could get Lovemuffin to make me one at home (*insert imagination going wild here*). Plus, unlike where we live (ahem--triple digit heat--ahem), the weather was perfect; slightly windy, but not too hot or too cold, and therefore, the perfect formula for an outdoor, shaded patio.

On to what *I* did while we were gone that technically wasn't "vacation-y": 

I read The Maze Runner (coming out in theaters 2/2014, I believe)

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)

and Stupid Fast.
Stupid Fast

(Pardon my random lineup here--sports pun not intended.) Stupid Fast is totally in my rein of humor, and I loved it. Love Geoff now, too. (In fact, we're going to be BFFs--watch out, Geoff!) Then I couldn't decide *what* to read after that as I have quite a few books on the iPad, so I didn't read at all. (#bookloveproblems)
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See the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

Anyway. Without delving into too much more info (if any of you are still reading, here's some virtual cookies and of course, coffee, for sticking with me--sadly I cannot share in the cookies with you, as I ate way too much chocolate and other strange desserts on this trip and now look like the pot-bellied dogs even though I climbed more stairs the past few days than I have since high school--more on that later), I wanted to give an idea of what this week was about so you'd know why next week's posts will be chalk-full of pictures and stories about random things such as a plane pulling an actual advertisement banner through the sky over the beach (this is a BIG deal to small towners such as myself), to amazing local Greek food, to Starbucks lines (hello, Santa Monica and Hollywood Blvd!)  and a nice tour guy talking about our "eyeballs". Oh, and did I mention we got to be ON THE SET of The Mentalist? And my oldest daughter had an actual *squee* (meaning, completely awestruck, blush-filled, there-are-no-words, fangirl moment) when someone from Pretty Little Liars cruised right by us (a mere few feet away, I am not kidding) on a golf cart while we were on the Warner Brothers tour? 

So yeah. This week was full of stuff. Some I'm happy to share on here because I know I'll forget about them, some I won't bore you with (like the car ride to Long Beach where Lovemuffin was distracted by looking around and I yelled WOULD YOU PLEASE SLOW DOWN because we were about to rear-end the car in front of us, and then we had a *lovely*, *loud* discussion regarding whether or not I should have just yelled SLOW DOWN to save time and our LIVES). Either way, however, I'm tired, full, sore, and happy to be home. The girls start school in just a few weeks and I can really say I can't believe how fast this summer has flown by. 

Next Monday I'll see ya here with a few more pictures (and way shorter post--I promise). Until then, have a blessed weekend and happy reading and writing! :D

**Reminder: You only have 5 more days to enter my #ReadingRoadTrip The Forest of Hands and Teeth giveaway (link)! 

What makes a favorite?

Image source: Pinterest
Over the weekend, I made a new Goodreads shelf titled, "favorites". (Which means I now have like, four shelves. Yeah. I'm exciting like that.) Anyway, I realized that I didn't have to have even given them a five-star rating to love them, and it got me thinking: What makes a book a favorite?

Obviously no (or a very limited few) books are perfect. So what makes a book go from being just a book, to being one of those you gush over and are willing to read over and over?

As I went through my list, I realized there were a few particular reasons a book made it to my favorites list--they all had at least one (but usually more) of the below attributes:

1) The prose was beautiful.

2) Great storyline.

3) The book stuck with me and made me think about it long afterwards.

4) I fell in love with the characters.

5) The book gave me all THE FEELS.

6) I simply found the book entertaining.

What about you? What makes a book your favorite, and which ones are you currently in love with?

Reading Road Trip 2013: Unconsecrateds and South Carolina

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Carrie Ryan
Photo copyright Darren Cassese 
Hi, guys! I am so excited to be participating in this year's Reading Road Trip (hosted by Hafsah at IceyBooks and Britta at I Like These Books--if you'd like to read more about this feature, click here)! I'm a little out of my comfort zone as I'm a California girl and Cali was already taken by the time I signed up, but I am excited to share a few great tidbits about South Carolina, the state I chose because Carrie Ryan, the author I'm featuring, was born and raised there. :)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)Unconsecrateds are, to put in layman's terms, zombies. (If you've read any of Carrie Ryan's books, or heard of her, I'm sure you recognized the term!) When I first read The Forest of Hands and Teeth a couple of years ago, zombies weren't the craze in YA that they are now. A few book bloggers were talking about how good The Forest of Hands and Teeth was, and that was all it took for me to buy myself a copy. (I wasn't quite sure what I'd started, actually. I didn't even realize it was about zombies--which worked out well because I might not have picked it up if I had known, and that would have been a travesty!) By page 50, my heart was breaking for Mary. And I was sucked in. I love love loved it.

Here are a few historical facts about Carrie Ryan's home state: 

[Flag of South Carolina]
image credit Mario Fabretto, 2/24/1998

* South Carolina was the 8th state in the USA (established May 23, 1788) and is the 40th largest

* It has two mottos, one being (translated), While I breathe, I hope

* South Carolina grows more peaches than any other state but mine (California!)

* Before being known as the Palmetto State (see the palm tree in the state flag above?), South Carolina was known as the Iodine State.

* South Carolina was the first state to have a public library (November 16, 1700)

* The first battle of the Civil War took place at Fort Sumter, which is in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina

* Edward Rutledge, the youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence (he was 26), was from South Carolina 

* There are 187 miles of coastline along South Carolina

According to Ms. Ryan's bio, even though she was born and raised in South Carolina, she currently lives in North Carolina! (To take a mini-road trip to my sister state, North Carolina, at Lisa's (@Dizneeee) Dizneeee's World of Books, click HERE.)

And now, for the giveaway. (YAY!) I'm giving away a paperback of The Forest of Hands and Teeth--isn't the new cover amazing? Feel free to come back and enter every day until the giveaway is over!
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What is your favorite young adult zombie book? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

** To learn more about Carrie Ryan and her books, check out her website, HERE, or find her on Goodreads.

*** Curious about the other states and their books? Check out the #ReadingRoadTrip hashtag on Twitter or follow along the stops HERE!

Giveaways, reviews and more--Monday update

Just wanted to keep everyone posted on what's currently going on!


1) MOTOCROSS ME (YA): Last week I participated in the INDIEpendence Day celebration--an annual feature where readers/authors spread the #indie (independently published authors) love--by featuring a giveaway of indie author, Cheyanne Young's, new book, MOTOCROSS ME (which I truly enjoyed). You still have time to enter to win a signed paperback, bookmark and dirt bike necklace: Go HERE to read the interview and enter the giveaway!

2) Zombie YA book (to be revealed on Wednesday): Another fun, annual feature I'm participating in this year is Reading Road Trip 2013. (To read more about this cool feature, go here.) Sadly, I signed up too late to get California, but South Carolina ended up having an author I enjoy, so come back Wednesday to visit and see what zombie book I have up for grabs and learn a few facts about The Palmetto state! 


I read a lot the past couple of weeks and reviewed 3 books, including my newest favorite, The Sea of Tranquility. For those of you who don't know much about it, here's the author, Katja's, very own story (link) about how it came to be (and went from a self-published to traditionally published book)! And here's my review (link).

Just for fun

Kaitlin at Reading is My Treasure recently reviewed Pity Isn't An Option and made this neat image quote:

And speaking of Pity Isn't An Option...

Final notice

After having the first 5 chapters of Pity Isn't An Option up for a while on Goodreads, it's time to take them down. If you're wanting to get a feel of the book this is the perfect, free way, to do so! Click HERE to be taken straight to the page before I remove them this evening. :)

Have a blessed week!

INDIE-pendence Day: MOTOCROSS ME Interview + Giveaway

Happy INDIE-pendence Day! When I first heard about this fun feature (click HERE to read more about it), I wasn't sure what book to choose until I remembered the premise of one indie book in particular I'd seen recently. I found the subject, motocross, intriguing. I mean, dirt bikes and racing and guys in a YA setting? Uh, yes please! Here's the blurb from Goodreads:
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When Hana Fisher moves to the small town of Mixon, Texas to live with her dad, she dreads having to work at the boring pile of dirt he fondly calls a motocross track. But when she gets there, she finds the rinky-dink dirt bike track from her childhood has grown into the most respected racing track in the state.

Now popular by association, Hana endures the pain and sweat of working in the summer heat in order to fit in with a sport she’s growing to love. She gets a real family, a best friend and not just one, but two of the fastest racers trying to win her heart.

When Hana abuses her status as the track owner’s daughter to help the gorgeous Ryan Russo cheat in the biggest race of the year, she risks more than just losing her job. Every good thing in her life is at stake now- her friends, her dad’s trust, and Ash Carter- the kind-hearted racer who may not be as alluring as Ryan, but is proof that nice guys don’t always finish last.
I actually first saw Cheyanne and MOTOCROSS ME (though I can't remember if that was the title back then) on a writerly site a few years ago. I remember thinking it sounded like something I'd like to read, and then things happened as things in life tend to do, and I ended up not going on that site anymore. A few years passed until, while perusing the internet recently, I came across Cheyanne's post about MM's upcoming release. Yay! And here we are! 

Before we get to the awesome giveaway Cheyanne and I have planned, I'd like to share my mini-interview with her. Enjoy!


Me:  It was pretty obvious the further I got into MM that you have had a lot of personal experience on the track. (That's one of the things I loved most about it, by the way--getting to learn how things work and the terminology and whatnot.) I assume you've met plenty of Ryans in your experience, but how about personalities like Ash? Was his quiet, not-so-talkative personality completely invented, or was it based on someone/s you've known/met over the years at the track?

Chey: Ash is 90% made up, and 10% inspired from a really good friend I once had. This friend had the same struggles as Ash, particularly in growing up without money and working really hard to be the best rider he could be. I haven't seen that guy in a decade or so, but I still think about him and his sister a lot. The world needs more people like them. As far as Ryan... I know a lot of what he does and says may seem absurd, but I stole most of those things from real life. :/

Me: A lot of times, a writer's MC is either a *lot* like them, or quite the opposite. In what ways would you say you and Hana are the same? In what ways would you say you are different?

Chey: Hm.... my gut says to pretend Hana isn't like me AT ALL, but that's not really true. We are both incredibly insecure and that insecurity leads us to doing and saying things that make us look really stupid in public. Plus I've made a ton of wrong choices when it comes to dating. Luckily, for Hana and me, things work out well in the end. :) We differ when it comes to coffee. As much as I wanted her to love coffee, she just refused. Hopefully I never have to write a coffee-hating character again.

Me: I'm going to list my three favorite quotes from MM. Pick one and tell me something about it.  (FYI, gave her three to choose from. The one she chose is below.)

I wipe my forehead and press the talk button on my walkie-talkie.

"Molly, tell Shelby her brother is a dork. Over."

Chey: I'm gonna pick this last one because it always makes me smile. This was the exact moment that Hana realizes she has a mega crush on Ash, so of course, she's gonna insult him 5-year-old style. Plus it just shows her having fun at her new job with her new step-mom and friend. It's where she really learns to fit in with these people.

Me: Near the end of the book, something happens that I didn't see coming. Without giving away the choice Hana made, can you explain why you had her do what she did? 

Chey: She did this for two reasons... First, because she felt rejected by you-know-who and wasn't in her right state of mind. The girl is too preoccupied with wanting to be liked, so it's hard for her when she thinks she's unliked. Secondly, you-know-who (the other guy) was incredibly good at getting her to do what he wanted...he had a silver tongue and she was in the right (or wrong) state of mind to do precisely what she did. I really think she knew it was wrong to do it, but she couldn't help herself.

Me: This last question isn't really a question, but more an interesting fact. Our family business is actually in construction, with dirt work being our specialty. At one point in Motocross Me, Hana narrates that with the track being watered down, you'd think it would turn to mud, but it doesn't. Curious, I asked my husband if there was a more technical way to explain what happens, and here's what he said:

Because the tires break the dirt down and peel it up, the moisture evaporates from the dirt very quickly. It doesn't turn to mud when it's watered down again because the dirt particles are loose from all of that wear, so the water goes down in between the particles, and the dirt sucks it up like a sponge. 

Chey: I LOVE this! Excellent explanation. I wasn't exactly sure how that happened but I do know that the track is never muddy in the summer, no matter how often they water it. And I'm glad you found this's little things like this about motocross that I tried to incorporate into the book as a way to show my love for the sport and to educate readers on how great motocross is, when they might never have heard about it otherwise.


Cheyanne was gracious enough to donate a signed paperback of MOTOCROSS ME, bookmarks, and a cool dirt bike necklace! Isn't that great? Enter below for your chance to win!

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You can check out a few other posts about MOTOCROSS ME (including Cheyanne's cast list, playlist, and more) here. Thanks for the fun interview, Cheyanne! :)

About Cheyanne

Blog Authors

Cheyanne is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, nail polish and paid holidays. She lives near the beach with her daughter, one spoiled rotten puppy and a cat who is most likely plotting to take over the world.

She is the author of MOTOCROSS ME, debuting in June 2013, and the Powered series, a trilogy about a teenage superhero. 

Add MOTOCROSS ME to Goodreads 

Connect with Cheyanne on Facebook, Twitter, or her website