Pitch Competitions

I never thought I’d be someone who entered competitions to get my novel out there, but a couple weeks ago, that’s exactly what I did. I entered Pitch Madness, a competition where you submit a 35 word pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. Of the more than 900 submissions, only 68 were chosen to be shown to agents. I didn’t make the cut, but it was so much fun to enter!

There’s another competition tomorrow called PitMad. This one takes place on Twitter and you have 140 characters to pitch your novel. If an agent likes it, you can query them. Another long-shot (but what querying isn’t?), but it’ll be entertaining at the very least!

I guess that’s the thing with competitions. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

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Book Challenge February Roundup

With all the preparations for my big move two days ago, I haven’t had much time to read this February. I managed to sneak in a short book, though, so here is my spoiler-free review!

What are you reading right now?

9781401312855_p0_v1_s260x420A book that made you cry: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

This novel is stunning. It’s about the creation of time by a human man and the consequences his discovery has for future generations. There are three plot lines that weave together beautifully in the end and left me crying from their poignancy. Every once in a while, it’s good to be reminded to make each day you have on this earth count and that it’s never too late to be better. There are gentle religious overtones, but the writing is never preachy. I highly recommend this novel.

Book Challenge–January Roundup 2

Here are some more spoiler-free reviews of the books I’m reading for the 2015 Book Challenge! What books are you reading right now?

warm bodiesA book turned into a movie: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
A zombie love story? Yes, please. This novel follows a zombie named R as he falls in love with a human named Julie and they change the world. Marion somehow manages to make his debut novel gruesome and romantic at the same time. I loved this quirky romance with its exploration of what makes us human. Awesome read.

gone girlA thriller: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
This novel follows the story of a man whose wife goes missing and the hell he endures as he’s accused of her murder. I never connected with any of the characters but I finished the book because I needed to know what happened. The ending was anticlimactic and I was left feeling very creeped out and unsatisfied. I appreciate the skill that went into weaving this story, but overall I didn’t like the book.

hellblazerA book based on or turned into a tv show: Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano and John Ridgeway (Illustrator)
I read this compilation of Hellblazer comics because I love the new show ‘Constantine.’ The comic follows John Constantine, a demon hunter and magician, as he finds himself in the middle of supernatural events and tries to restore the balance between heaven and hell. Although the characterization of John Constantine is significantly different between the comics and the show (and I prefer the more altruistic version of him in the show), I appreciate both incarnations. I’ll definitely be reading more of the comic book compilations and am looking forward to seeing more of the show! Highly recommend.

HVZAA graphic novel: Hudson Valley Zombie Apocalypse by Linda Zimmermann, Don E Smith (Editor), Nick Mockoviak (Illustrator)
I got this out of the library thinking it would be a novel. To my surprise, it turned out to be the companion comic to the novel (which I will be reading as soon as I track down a copy!) I liked this comic book, but felt a bit lost sometimes. The comics offer short vignettes about minor characters in the book as they deal with the zombie apocalypse overtaking the Hudson Valley (and beyond). There were a couple story lines that were incredibly poignant and I enjoyed those the most. I thought they were a beautiful departure from the usual gore in zombie stories.

2015 Reading Challenge Reviews–January Roundup 1

I’ve been reading a lot more than I expected to, so this month I’ll be breaking up my reviews into several posts. If you want to participate in the challenge, you can find my original post here!

9781455527076_p0_v1_s260x420A Memoir: Pastrix: the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I found this memoir to be incredibly powerful. As someone who thinks a lot about the future of organized religion in our country, I loved reading about Nadia’s story. She’s a heavily tattooed, foul-mouthed Lutheran minister who founded a holy space, the Church for All Sinners and Saints where everyone can feel accepted for who they are. This is a must-read for anyone questioning whether religion is for them or are simply struggling to find God’s meaning in our world.

9780486112886_p0_v2_s260x420A play: Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen

I couldn’t get past the blatant sexism rampant in the play to even begin to determine its merits. It just made me really angry with the remarks about tainted women and the men interrupting the women because men’s thoughts are more important. And the self-righteousness of the priest who, in my opinion is wrong in his beliefs. Terrible play. I don’t recommend it to anyone.

9780802734310_p0_v3_s260x420A book with one word in the title: Fracture by Megan Miranda

This started out as a usual accident/recovery story when Delaney Maxwell falls through the ice covering a lake in her neighborhood. She should have died, but instead she wakes up with a fully functioning brain and the ability to sense when people are going to die. Instead of the heart-rending recovering story I thought this was going to be, it becomes a thriller when Delaney meets a boy with the same ability she has, but he’s not as innocent as he seems. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this book in one sitting. Amazing writing, wonderfully real characters, and a plot that leaves you guessing all the way to the end. I recommend this without reservation.

2940045956437_p0_v2_s260x420A book with non-human characters: Xoe by Sara C. Roethle

Step aside, Bella Swan, there’s a new player in town. Set in the small town of Shelby, Oregon, this short book follows the story of Xoe Meyers as her best friend is turned into a werewolf, her new boyfriend turns out to be a vampire, and she discovers the secret to her own ancestry. Although similarities to Twilight are evident, they don’t detract from Roethle’s originality and skill. There are some typos, grammatical errors, and some stylistic decisions that I didn’t enjoy, but Roethle’s skill at weaving an engaging story overshadowed all of that. The characters are believable and unique, the relationships between them are healthy, and the plot is interesting. I even bought the sequel immediately after finishing the first book because I couldn’t bear to not know what happened next! I enjoyed this book and fans of Twilight and other supernatural stories should check it out!

9780547844169_p0_v1_s260x420A Non-fiction Book: The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev

I don’t usually read historical non-fiction books, but my friend told me about Caterina Sforza and recommended her biography to me. I love my friend, so I persevered through a book I normally wouldn’t have picked up. Elizabeth Lev’s ability to bring historical events to life is evident on each page as she skillfully weaves Caterina’s colorful life history together with the backdrop of intrigue that plagued 15th century Italy and affected her life. The only thing that detracted from my enjoyment of the book was that the names of the numerous historical players were difficult to follow at times. Although this kind of book is not my go-to genre, I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the oft-forgotten medieval history of women.

What books have you read this January? I would love any and all suggestions you’d like to leave in the comments!

You know what they say about assumptions

I tend to assume a lot of things about people, books, things, places. And usually I’m right in my assumptions, which has prevented me from forsaking this bad habit of mine. Sometimes, though, I am very, very wrong.

In high school, my friend sat in front of me in one of my classes. She would turn around and talk to me before the bell rang and a boy sitting next to me would jump into our conversations. I thought he was lonely and annoying, but I was too polite to do anything but accept his awkward conversation. He would eventually become one of my best friends for years. I’ve always been grateful that my assumptions about him didn’t become the only thing I ever thought about him.

I’ve recently had this same problem with The Hunger Games books. After hearing a synopsis of what they were about, I assumed they were a knock-off of Battle Royale and I spent a couple years refusing to read them. Last summer, I finally broke down and read all three over the course of several days. I loved them. I am still kicking myself for waiting so long to read them. In my haste to judge, I assumed they would never be as good as I found Battle Royale to be. I am so glad I was wrong.

So, I guess this post is a reminder to myself that it’s never good to assume. It’s better to accept and experience before judging.

What are some things you’ve made wrong assumptions about?

2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Book Challenge

This reading challenge list was posted over on popsugar. I am always up for a challenge, so I’ve decided to tackle this list! Every month I will be posting updates on the ones I’ve read so far.

If you decide to participate in the challenge, I’d love to hear what you’re reading!

What were your favorite books of 2014? What books are you looking forward to reading this year?