blog

Amparo Ortiz

So I have a website.

You can check it out here.

I'll still keep this blog around, but I'll be putting up more content on the new site more often. *pets new site* *blows kisses*

Happy Friday!


now KISS!!!

So. There's this book called Pride and Prejudice, right? I'm sure you've read it. Multiple times. Because it's fantastic.

I've never read it.

I've started it, gotten halfway through it, but life happened and I put it aside and I haven't forgiven myself since.

Which is why I have two reading goals for 2016.


Goal #1

Read 50 books (and have the majority of those books be YA novels).


Goal #2

Finish Pride and Prejudice


This is the year, folks. I'm finally reading the whole thing because holy smoke bombs it's about time. As soon as I finish the book, I'm watching the film adaptation with Keira Knightley, since a few of my friends are obsessed with it. 

*cracks knuckles* 

Let's do this, Austen!! 

So. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. The last day of 2015.

Confession: 2015 was the best year of my life. Hands down. Yes, I've had some amazing things happen to me in previous years, but as a whole, this one takes the crown. 

I presented at my first academic conference.



Mad Max: Fury Road became my new favorite movie ever.




I traveled alone for the first time. Destination: Washington, D.C. 




I went to my first Supernatural fan convention.



Me. In a hotel bathroom. Wearing my con badge. 

I MET JENSEN ACKLES. AND I HUGGED HIM.

The rest of the cast was A+++, of course, BUT JENSEN ACKLES Y'ALL.


In case you've forgotten what he looks like.
Which, by the way, is punishable by exile to a world without pizza. 


I recorded episodes for two of my friends' podcasts. Friend 1: The Walking Dead episode. Friend 2: Archie comics episode. 




Mockingjay Pt. 2 closed the series in spectacular (and emotional) fashion.

I signed with my agent!!!!

The spark I was missing to fix my manuscript is back in full force. 

Lastly, I celebrated my 29th birthday by returning to Las Vegas. 

Where I met One Direction.



Okay, okay. I met Wax One Direction. 

That still counts.

With Wax Niall.
*cuddles*

So here's the deal. 2016 is right around the corner. I'm not totally ready to say goodbye to the best year of my life, but I'm ready to welcome better things. I'm ready to fight for my happiness again. Because that's what 2015 taught me. If I want something bad enough, I have to work for it, and if I work for it, sometimes, maybe, I can get it. 

2016, you don't stand a chance against me, kid.


Happy New Year!! 🙂 



So. I've already discussed my querying timeline and writing a one-line pitch for my manuscript. 

Now let's talk about The Call. 

November 2015: Even though Linda emailed me on Thanksgiving Day, I didn't see her email until three days later. THREE DAYS. *face palm* I quickly wrote back saying that, indeed, I'd love to schedule a chat with her. We agreed on a date. I tried not to get too excited, seeing as my manuscript wasn't complete. Well, the old version was, but I'd started a brand new one. No chance I'd get offered representation with a manuscript in such a state.

December 2, 2015: Linda calls me to discuss revisions. We talked about my manuscript's new direction, our favorite books, diversity in YA fiction, my job as a college instructor, and life in Puerto Rico. I also pitched three other manuscript ideas I had. Linda sounded super enthusiastic about them (!!!). After an hour of awesome conversation, Linda told me she enjoyed speaking with me and hearing about my revision plan for the manuscript.

Then she said, "I would love to offer you representation."

COMMENCE THIRD AND FINAL FREAKOUT.

I can't remember how long my silence lasted, but Linda was gracious enough to carry on as I fainted on the inside. I proceeded to ask her some standard questions for when agents offer rep, as well as some questions of my own. To be honest, I don't even know why I interviewed her. My mind had already been made. So after Linda answered my questions, I accepted her offer of rep (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

And now we've reached the end of this tale, my friends. I'm super pumped about what's next, which is a loooooot of revisions. A lot. Did I mention a lot? Because a lot.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go finish a celebratory donut. It would be unwise to tell you how many I've eaten in the last month.


Happy holidays!
So. I've already shared a timeline and my query stats in Part I. Today I'm talking about The Pitch that saved my life. 

I ended my last post like this:

October 2015: Linda emails me out of the blue to ask how revisions are coming along.

I don't think there's an emoji that could accurately represent the sound that came from my lips. It was a happy noise of happiness. And panic. Panicked happiness. I was thrilled that she remembered my lil' old manuscript and that she wanted to see if I was still alive. I was also panicked because I hadn't done a thing to revise it. So I did some heavy brainstorming and light plotting.

The problem? The draft Linda read didn't speak to me anymore. I wanted to write a different story with the same characters and world. The new version hit me hard. It wouldn't let me go. So I sat down and worked on a one-line pitch.

Confession: I love writing one-line pitches. This one poured out of me, even though I was still unsure of sending it to Linda. She did contact me because of the previous version. I had no guarantee that pitching a different story was going to be a sound decision. I did it anyway. After polishing the one-line pitch, I wrote back to Linda.

She gave me the thumbs-up.

She told me to revise to my heart's content and keep her updated on how revisions were coming along. The plan was to send her the new manuscript once it was ready.

So I started revising. That one-line pitch served as my inspiration to go full force on this story. I wrote five chapters and had started a sixth.

November 2015: (Thanksgiving Day, to be precise) Linda emails me to schedule a chat.

COMMENCE SECOND FREAKOUT.

On my next and final post, I'll talk about The Call and signing with my agent. *flails*


Happy weekend!

So. Earlier this week, I threw an agent announcement party with y'all. Today I'm sharing the story of how I got my agent. Mind you, I didn't spend a ton of time querying, and I'll explain why below. But first, let's begin with some stats:

From first draft to query-ready draft: 3 years

First query sent: April 2015
Total queries sent: 12
Full requests: 4
Full rejections: 4
Full rejections w/feedback: 2
Stopped querying to revise: July 2015

Out of the two agents who sent me super helpful feedback, Linda was one of them. I (shyly) asked if she'd be interested in reading the revised manuscript once it was ready. To my surprise and excitement, she said yes.

The only problem? I didn't revise at all. I got sucked into a vortex of self-doubt and panic. I felt like my manuscript's premise wasn't innovative or original enough. Yes, the writing was good, but not great. There was too much backstory. I had characters with motivations left to clarify. There was just nothing that screamed SNATCH ME UP too loudly.

So I put off revisions and went on with my life. I did brainstorm from time to time, but never sat down to actually work on those new ideas.

October 2015: Linda emails me out of the blue to ask how revisions are coming along.

COMMENCE FREAKOUT. 

So. On my next post, I'll write about what happened after that super awesome email. It will contain lots of exclamation points and Caps Lock. Because obviously.


Have a lovely day!!



So. I'm here today to make an announcement. 

What announcement, you ask? 

I HAVE AN AGENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*flails*

I'm now represented by the super awesome Linda Camacho of Prospect Agency

*flails even harder*

I'll totally share my querying (and signing with Linda!!) story at a later time, but for now, REJOICE. You get to eat cyber pizza, ice cream, and cake with me! Not as good as the real thing, but no worries. I'll eat all of it on your behalf. 🙂   

Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to flailing. I don't think I've done enough of that. 

*flails forever*

Dear MOCKINGJAY PART 2,


I saw you yesterday. The theater was packed, of course. Lots of early risers ready for some closure. You lasted a bit, but I didn't feel like you were taking your time in vain. Every second counted. Every second mattered. Just like your literary counterpart, you were hard to swallow at times. I know a lot of people hated reading those pages. They hated the whole thing, even. You were a disappointment on the page for them, and so, many think you will be a disappointment on the screen.

I'm not disappointed.

This is what I believe: there's nothing tragic about surviving. Yes, unspeakable horrors happen in war. Win or lose, we're all losers anyway. We lose people. We lose parts of our hearts, ourselves. 

Katniss Everdeen loses a lot. Still, the reason why I respect her, the reason why I love you, MOCKINGJAY PART 2, is because she loses and fights on anyway. It's so hard for Katniss. Impossible at times, even. But she keeps. Pushing. Forward. She has to acknowledge everything is not okay in order to have the slightest chance at ever believing it can be okay again. 

I strive to be as strong as her every single day. I wasn't born in District 12. I don't know how to hunt.  Braiding my hair on a daily basis? Nope. Not for me. I'm not Katniss Everdeen, but she's shown me how important it is to survive. To fight for what matters. Then, and only then, can I truly live. 

So thanks, MOCKINGJAY PART 2. You weren't perfect, but you were everything I wanted.



Love,

A Grateful Fan
So. Books. I read them.

Or, I should say, try to read them. My Goodreads challenge has been politely reminding me that I still have a lot of catching up to do this year. "Fret not," I tell myself. "You'll get there!"

On the way there (there: 40 books), I've discovered something. My reading comfort zone is YA literature. It has been for a long time. However, this year has brought me a slew of books outside of YA that I've fallen head over heels for. Some of them are graphic novels. Others are nonfiction books. And a few are books written by actors I admire. 

This last category is a game changer for me. I've always been the kind of person who's learned a lot by watching other people's mistakes. Sure, I learn from my own, too. I still prefer it when others are teaching me how to fail. And, more importantly, how to get back up after failing. 

One recommendation? In case you haven't checked it out, Mindy Kaling's second book is titled Why Not Me?



I've also read Mindy's first book, which I loved to bits. Mindy's hilarious, yes, but she's this beacon of empowerment for me. Her advice to young girls and women is simple. Be yourself. Work hard for what you want. Embrace your numerous crushes on male celebrities (my personal favorite). 

This is me basically telling you that you need to fangirl over Mindy Kaling and her awesomeness. This is also me basically telling you to not limit yourself, even if you already know the kind of stories you enjoy. I never thought I'd devour a book written by a celebrity. Now I've devoured more than one and have learned from all of them. 

I'll go back to reading my beloved YA soon, but I'm not longer so judgmental about other options.




And I'm officially dead.

#achievementunlocked
So. Podcasts. 

I don't usually listen to them, which is something I'm slowly changing about myself. A friend of mine started one recently (a super geeky, pop culture heavy one), and it was the push I needed to start diving into the podcast waters for real. 

A few months ago, I'd heard about one that seemed perfect for me:

Folks, Sarah Enni is brilliant. If you haven't read her posts on YA Highway, you're missing out. That's how I learned of her awesomeness. Then I read that she was starting FIRST DRAFT, a podcast featuring authors of both YA and MG books. My mind pretty much exploded, but since I wasn't too committed to podcasts back then, I didn't check them out immediately. 

Present Me is all sorts of upset with Past Me. Sarah's interviews are both enlightening and inspiring. She sits down with the most remarkable artists anyone could ever encounter, then proceeds to let them school her audience in the art of resilience. Last week, I was so, so sick. It was the cold from Hades, I tell you. But once I pressed Play on an episode of FIRST DRAFT, boom. Instant remedy. I felt like stopping everything and writing until the wee hours of the morning. I felt like strapping on my boots and climbing as many mountains as I could. I felt like dancing and belting out party songs with my ridiculously terrible singing voice.

I felt like not giving up on my dreams.

Go ahead. If you haven't done it already, press Play. Now. Right now. 

Happy listening!




So. I'm a certified Nova Ren Suma fangirl. This is fact. 

This week, I finished reading her latest gem, THE WALLS AROUND US. In case you haven't heard of this brilliance of a book, here's the summary:
  
“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries . . .

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

Folks, this book is my new everything. IT IS MADE OF YES. I only wish I could've read it when I was thirteen years old, angry and aimless, wondering what to do with what I felt about myself and the world. This is the kind of story that would've pushed me to stay strong, to believe. 

I think it can bring a little magic into other people's lives, which is why I'm hosting this book giveaway. It's open internationally (wherever Book Depository ships to), and all you have to do is: 1) follow this blog, and 2) comment on this post. That's it.  

The giveaway will end next Saturday, April 18th, when I'll announce the (randomly chosen) winner!
So. The synopsis. 

*cracks knuckles* 

I've written synopses before, but they still intimidate me. Not as much as they used to, I'll admit. They just take me a while to get right. Aaaaaaa whiiiiileeeeeeee. I'd rather write a gazillion query letters than one synopsis. #fact

The very first time I had to write a synopsis, I scoured the interwebz for advice/moral support/pizza. I found plenty of great resources. There's even more of them now. Seeing as I'm not the only one freaking out over Death By Synopsis, I figured I'd collect my favorite posts on how to write a banging one. I hope they guide you into the mystical land of Ninja Synopsis Writerdom. Word on the street is they have chocolate cake. *packs everything*

Here's my list of faves:
 


Writing a Synopsis from the Ground Up by Dee-ann Latona Leblanc

In Short: Writing a Novel Synopsis That Rocks by H.L. Dyer on the QueryTracker blog

6 Steps For Writing A Book Synopsis by author Marissa Meyer

How To Write A 1-Page Synopsis by author Susan Dennard


Hope these help!! 🙂
So. It is officially Galentine's Day.

What's that? You don't know what Galentine's Day is?

*tries not to judge you*

Here. Let Leslie Knope explain:


Basically.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go shower all my lady friends with cyber hugs and chocolate.

Happy Galentine's Day! 😀
So. THE WALKING DEAD returns tonight.

This pleases me.

This pleases me a lot.

Mostly because of him:

  
Sheriff Rick Grimes

And her:

Michonne

And them:

I will go down with this ship. Oh, yes, I will.



And also her (always her):

My precious Carol.

AND ALSO THEM:

DARYL AND CAROL. BECAUSE YES.



Oh, and can't forget about them:



So yeah. I'm pretty stoked. 🙂

Happy THE WALKING DEAD Day!!

So. 2014. 

Intense year, I must admit. 

Terrible things happened. To me. To friends.

Great things also happened. 

I graduated from my Master's program. 

I got a new job one month later. 

I rescued and adopted another stray puppy (my very first boy!). 

I rescued yet another stray puppy and found it a forever home on Thanksgiving Day (yep, a boy, too) (I think stray puppies are just texting each other about how kind I am to them, so now they're all like, HOUSE PARTY LET'S GO).

After months of struggling, I have fallen back in love with my WIP. It is a mad, consuming love. I vow to work my butt off even harder on this project. I must. 

So yeah. 2014 was both terrible and great. I made a lot of mistakes, but I have no regrets.

2015 might be terrible. It might be great. It might be terrible and great, too.

I just hope it's weird enough to remember, and that it comes with candy. 🙂 

Happy New Year, folks!!

So. The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
 
I had never gone to the WWOHP until last week.
 
Hogsmeade. Diagon Alley. I went to both of them.
 
AND I HAD A BLAST. OBVIOUSLY. BECAUSE YES.
 
I was also quite inspired by everything. Confession: I've been putting off WIP revisions for about a month now, but once I returned from my trip, I felt reenergized to work again. I've written a little, but I plan on writing more as the days roll on. My drive and focus? Back where they belong.
 
I owe a lot to the WWOHP. Not only did I fangirl squeal most of the time, I also felt this weight lifted off my shoulders. There I was, skipping along streets and barging into shops and eating food that existed in one woman's head for so long, and they were right where I could touch them. Right where I could enjoy them. I stopped thinking about stories as things I needed to perfect. Revisions are fun for me, but with this WIP, I've been struggling. The joy was sucked out of the writing experience. For the rest of my trip, though, my WIP and other stories became fangirl squeals. They were my source of joy, even if most of them aren't even worthy enough of full commitment. Even if they give me the hardest time of all hard times.
 
It's about time I enjoyed my imagination again.
 
So. WWOHP. Thank you for giving me back what was missing. Oh, and I'm definitely returning someday. Because this:
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
*swoons*
I think this post's title explains itself.

So.

Enjoy Benedict Cumberbatch at Comic-Con.


So. Laini Taylor. Lots of people have been telling me--no, no, INSISTING--that I read her books. All of them. Immediately. 

Well. This week, I finished her short story anthology, LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES. Holy amazeballs, Batman. Holy. Amazeballs.

First off, there's the (glorious) cover.


The eyes! The flames! THE LIPSTICK THAT MATCHES THE FLAMES!


Then there are the actual stories.

Goblin Fruit
In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today's savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses
A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling
Six days before Esme's fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?


Awesome, no? Well, I enjoyed all three stories, but my absolute FAVE was "Goblin Fruit." Like the talented Laini Taylor, I'm quite fond of Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market." I even chose to study it for my comprehensive exams in my M.A. program. Everything about "Goblin Fruit" rocked my world: the mythology, the dynamic between main character Kizzy and her friends, her BADASS grandma, the tempting suitor.

Which is why I've decided to highlight something particularly awesome about this story.

You see, there's a paragraph on page 41 that knocked me sideways with its brilliance. It deals with the many, many things Kizzy daydreams of having and doing. The paragraph is immediately followed by a single sentence:




I couldn't help but stop reading to stare at the wall in front of me. Not only was the writing gorgeous, it was also speaking of true things. Of things we can all relate to, whether or not we've been seduced by a goblin disguised as a pretty face. Publishing offers aspiring authors many things. But before we can attain any of them, we're left with the insatiable yearning. Some people advise against thinking of landing film deals and hitting the NYT Bestseller List and touring the world and having monuments built in your name. I say there's nothing wrong with wanting. It's okay to want.

The problem comes when we turn a blind eye to what's within our reach--writing--and only see what we would love to have. Or even worse, when we only see how others obtained what we want first. This helps no one. You should want as many things as you can, but you must fight for them. And even if you fight for the things you want, that doesn't guarantee you'll get them. That's why you should always put writing first. Regardless of what happens, you'll have put in the work toward your dreams instead of just dreaming all the time. You tried. Others might not make it past the first page, but you will. You want. That's the first step to having and doing.

Now go out there and write, folks.

Also, if you haven't already, please devour Laini Taylor's LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES. I insist.


Guess what, y'all? It's announcement time! With the help of Random.org, I can finally choose a winner for my DEADWOOD book giveaway. Without further ado, let's get to it.

*drumroll*

The winner of DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews is:


LORI ALEXANDER


Congrats, Lori!! Please email me your home address at amparoortiz (dot) author (at) gmail (dot) com so I can send your copy of DEADWOOD!

This giveaway showed me how much I missed doing giveaways, so hopefully there will be more where this one came from. 🙂

Happy Tuesday!
So. There's a book coming out today. Well, there's more than one book coming out today, BUT I'm focusing on one of them. Because it's awesome and you should read it.

Which book, you ask?



There’s something evil in Deadwood Park.

Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed — and so is he. It’s not just any tree. It’s the Spirit Tree, the ancient beech the high school football team carves to commemorate the home opener. And every year they lose.

But the curse is no game, and it gets worse. Businesses fail. Trees topple like dominos. Sinkholes open up in the streets, swallowing cars and buildings. Even people begin to fade, drained of life.

Martin teams up with know-it-all soccer star Hannah Vaughan. Together they must heal the tree, or be stuck in Deadwood Park at the mercy of the psycho who cursed it.


And since I think you should read it, I'm giving away a copy on le blog!!! All you have to do is comment to enter the giveaway. That's it. If you want to blog/Tweet/Facebook/Tumbl/whatever about the giveaway, that's great! It won't get you any points, but it will get you my infinite gratitude. 😀 The deadline is next Tuesday, July 1st. So go forth and comment! 

Best of luck to all who enter!

So. My friend Kell Andrews tagged me for this writing blog hop that's been going around. Thank you, Kell!!

Now. Here's a little about her:


We first met as members of the Operation Awesome critique group. Later on, we became CPs and co-bloggers! Kell writes nonfiction for adults and fiction for children. A little bit of "magic" helps with both. DEADWOOD, her middle-grade contemporary fantasy comes out from Spencer Hill Middle Grade in June 2014! (YOU SHOULD READ IT!).

Growing up, she spent a lot of time reading, writing, drawing, and looking for treasure in the woods and on the beach. She still does. Kell holds a humanities degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master of liberal arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania. A lifelong Philadelphian, she lives with her husband and two daughters in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, right next to a park a lot like the one in Deadwood. Kell is represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

You can find Kell  at kellandrews.com, on Twitter, Tumblrand the Operation Awesome blog.


Okay. Let's answer some questions!!

*cracks knuckles*


1.  What am I working on?
Two things. I'm currently trying to write a synopsis for my WIP, which is a YA high fantasy I've previously written about. To sum it up, the story follows a seventeen-year-old girl who rebels against a magic-wielding tyrant bent on conquering her homeland. You know. Happy-go-lucky stuff. 🙂 Synopses are not my friends, let me tell you. BUT I do love my manuscript and my main character and everything else, so I'm keeping the faith. I think.

The other thing I'm "working on" (as in, brainstorming a lot) is my next WIP, which is yet another fantasy, but set in contemporary times. It involves a girl and a boy and the magic keeping them apart. That's all I can share for now. 🙂 I've been having WAY too much fun brainstorming this one. It must be a keeper. *crosses fingers*

2.  How does my work differ from others of this genre?
My main character is a POC, which doesn't usually take center stage in YA high fantasy. The manuscript features a large cast of mostly female characters with different hopes and dreams and they get along. Sometimes. 🙂 Also, my manuscript deals with identity through gender, race, politics, religion, blood ties, and romantic love in ways that I *hope* are complex and layered. Of course other novels do this in better ways, but I think my little story has something to add in those departments.

3.  Why do I write what I do?
I write two kinds of books: books of my heart and books of my dreams. The former are stories that resonate with me because they're about a personal truth. The latter are stories that resonate with me because they're about someone else's personal truth that I wish to see on bookshelves. They're stories I'm dying to read, but haven't been written yet. So I write them. I have no power over when and where and how these stories come to me, though. They just do.

4.  How does my writing process work?
Depends on the book. Sometimes I can sit down and write and write and write. This is super rare, though. Most of the time? I sit down to write, listen to music, then write a page or less. I get up, away from the computer for about an hour or two, then come back to write some more. Rinse and repeat throughout the day.  


That's it from me, folks! A huge thank you to Kell for tagging me! 🙂 Now. Let me keep this chain going by tagging two more writers:




Natasha Heck is one of the Iron Keys, which is my critique group! I'm tagging her because she writes beautiful stories that make me want to punch myself for not being as talented/evocative/lyrical/imaginative as she is. *sigh* Natasha is  a native North Dakotan. She attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and graduated with a degree in English emphasis Creative Writing. She has touched Stonehenge, climbed the Glastonbury Tor, walked the Philosopher's Path, and kissed her true love on the Eiffel Tower. She's a fangirl, Jedi Knight, and Gryffindor whose love of unicorns led her to live in the land of geekdom and sunshine (San Diego, California) with her programmer husband Joey and their two kitties, Topher and Sophie.

Natasha is a member of two writing fabulous groups, Stone Circle and The Iron Keys. She writes a bi-weekly column for YA Interrobang. She attends various science fiction and fantasy conventions and served as a con chair for Fargo's Core Con for three years. She is currently working on her dream of writing when she's not wrangling cats.

You can find Natasha on her website, The Heroine's Domain, and on Twitter




Kaye M. is another member of the Iron Keys!! I bet you're sensing a pattern here. 🙂 Anyway, I'm tagging Kaye because I also hate myself for not being as talented/evocative/lyrical/imaginative as she is. AND she loves dragons. Kaye is a self-professed twenty-something Muslim girl who reads a lot of books, drinks a lot of tea, and wears a lot of (figurative) hats.

Currently, those hats include student aiming for a future MLS, YA and MG book blogger, staff writer for online YA magazine YA Interrobang, and fantabulous intern for Pooja Menon of Kimberly Cameron and Associates.
She's also the Once and Future Queen of the Iron Keys, which gives her life-long tiara rights.

When she's not reading, Kaye writes about dark worlds, high stakes and tough, wounded girls who carve out their own happily ever afters. 

You can find Kaye at her blog and on Twitter!


Stay tuned for what Natasha and Kaye have to say next Monday, June 2nd!

Happy weekend! 😀
So. After a week of the film hitting theaters, I finally saw Divergent. As a fan of the book series, I was expecting to enjoy it. I did. A lot.

My family went with me to the theater. 

Including my dad.

And he loved it.

Dad: "The movie was awesome. I loved it."

Me: 


Dad: "No, really. I loved it."

Me:



Dad: "For real."

Me:
 
Dad: *asks me questions about the plot* *seems genuinely interested in my answers*

Me:



So now you know. 



Some of you may know that this book has been the source of CONTROVERSY and FEELS. Not only is it the ending of a (hugely successful) trilogy, it's the ending's ending that got tongues wagging.

I managed to avoid spoilers before sitting down to read ALLEGIANT

I'm so thrilled I did. 

I was genuinely surprised by the ending.

I cried while reading it.

I cried after I finished the book.

And I feel a strong need to thank Veronica Roth for destroying me. 

I think this ending is going to haunt me forever, not just as a reader, but as a writer. Especially as a writer. Stories that resonate and linger and cling to my bones often have authors who do the unthinkable. In ALLEGIANT, a character tells another the following two words: "Be brave." It's a story for the story's sake, not its fans' sake. I wouldn't have it any other way. Veronica Roth's bravery, as well as that of the countless authors I admire, has taught me that I should never conform with whatever I can conjure. No. It's not enough to write. 

It's enough to write bravely.

Even if it destroys you. Even if it destroys those who trust you to pick them up and give them the happy ending they envisioned. Fiction isn't one thing. It doesn't provide the same answer over and over. Sometimes, it doesn't provide answers at all. I'm at peace with that. I think I always have been.

I'm going to try and write as bravely as I can. I hope you do the same.


So. Last year, I set a reading goal of 30 books.

I read 25.

Not only did I not meet my goal, I also didn't want to set that particular goal in the first place. I like to read more than 50 books a year. Unfortunately, I couldn't juggle my reading schedule with WIP revisions and thesis writing and work, so I settled for 30. I didn't even read that amount.

This year, things are going to be different.




Yes, I did set a specific amount of books to read: 35.

No, I won't limit myself to 35 if I find it possible to surpass it. Other authors fuel me to get better. Their stories dazzle me with their genius. I need that kind of magic in my life. I crave that kind of magic in my life.

So here's to 2014 and goals and books and magic. 

Oh, and Nutella. Can't forget about the Nutella.