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PitchWars Mentee Bio–Jessica Lynn

 

So I’m hopping on the “Mentee Bio” train! Here’s some little tidbits you probably never thought you’d want to know about me.

1. I’m a mother to a 7 year old boy and a 5 year old girl.

2. I teach high school photography to mostly 17 year olds, which is fairly insane on some days, but gives me lots of writerly ideas. On most days I don’t feel that much older than them.

3. I have 2 dogs–both Labrador Retrievers. One is white, the other brown. The brown one is overweight, and looks a little like a seal. I’ve tried putting her on diets and excessive walking…now, I embrace her waddle walk.

4. I’ve written three books, not counting the last one that has been vastly rewritten several times. Each time, I get a little faster at finishing.

5. I love all things supernatural and paranormal. I read and write to escape…why would I read about real life? (I do. Just not extensively. I’m currently reading “Reconstructing Amelia,” by Kimberly McCreight and loving it.) But seriously, my favorite shows are Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Supernatural, and most recently Reign. Back in the day, I was a huge Buffy and Angel fan. I still have all the DVD’s and whenever I get sick, I pop them in the player and watch them in order.

6. My favorite coffee drink of all time is a Caramel Brulee Latte from Starbucks. It’s very sad that they only offer it for a few months a year.

7. I often have strange food cravings. When I was pregnant, I ate a hot dog every single day for 2 months. It’s disgusting, I know!

8. I chose ghosts for my paranormal world because of a song. “She Talks to Angels,” by the Black Crowes got me thinking about a girl who could see more than everyone else.

9. When I’m in a bad mood or have had an awful day, my husband puts on old episodes of Friends. Once I’m laughing all the bad stuff melts away.

10. I’m allergic to chocolate. I found out when I was 17ish and ate a candy bar. I had hives for two weeks. Last year, I felt the urge to test out my allergy a second time–you know, just in case I grew out of it. Nope, I’m still allergic. Not fun!

11. I can’t stand lying. If someone asks me a question, I will answer it. Sometimes I’ll warn the person first, but usually I will straight out tell them the truth. Everyone I know is good with this now and often comes to me when they want the truth.

12. I’m a Photoshopping wizard. Well, sort of. I do take hold of all the outgoing holiday photos and pretty them up before sending them out. My sister-in-laws love me for this.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Happy PitchWars!!

Interested in seeing more bios. Go here.

The Contest Junkie

Like I said before: it’s writing contest time!

First, there is Baker’s Dozen over at Miss Snarks’s First Victim which is too late to enter, but the real fun is just about to get started. Authoress has meticulously gone through all the entries and chosen 60 to go onto the Agent Round. They are already posted, so if you feel like having a read and maybe offering some helpful feedback to all of the writers, you should head over. Go Misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com

Second, there is Pitch Wars at Brenda Drake’s blog which begins on Monday, December 2. What do you do to enter? Well, you need to go to the link and check out all of the mentors. Then, you have to choose 4 of them to pitch your manuscript. You write a personalized query letter to each of the 4 and attach your first 5 pages. If one of them chooses to work with you, they will go through your entire manuscript and polish it up for the Agent round. The greatest part about this one is that almost all of them will offer you some feedback on the query and the 5 pages you send to them. It’s almost a win-win.

Third, there is a First 5 pages Workshop over at Adventures in YA Publishing. The workshop sounds pretty intense so be prepared to work your butt off.

Book and Movie Review–The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Synopsis: It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Let me preface this by saying that this isn’t generally my type of book. I don’t mean that I don’t read books like this. I do. Sometimes. I love historical fiction! But usually when I scour the YA shelves, I’m looking for fast-paced with a smidgen of romance sprinkled in there.  This book isn’t any of that. And yet, I LOVED IT!

There was a unique narrator–it’s told from the perspective of Death. He (I think he’s a he) offers enough comedy and lightheartedness to not drag the book into a depressing litany. He oversees many areas of the time, but focuses mostly on Liesel’s story. I started the book on a Sunday and got about half way through when my mother-in-law deemed it the perfect time to see it in the theatre. Now, I hate seeing a movie before I’ve read the book, but I went anyway. The movie was phenomenal. I loved the actors in it, especially the little girl who played Liesel. She was just beautiful. And the setting–don’t even get me started. Perfectly magical in the right way and desolate too. 

As I thought it would be, it was difficult to get back into the book afterwards. I already know the outcome and that’s not always incentive to keep reading. I finished it because the writing is amazing. The voice of the novel will grab hold of you and keep you up into the wee hours of the night. 

Should you read it? Hell, yes! And then go see the movie too. 

The Year of Change

This year has brought a lot of changes in my life. They’ve been tough on a lot of levels. My brother moved away, then my mom moved away (but in the opposite direction), and now one of my closest friends is moving too. For each and every one of them it was the right decision and a positive step in their lives. Still, it is hard to remain in the one place I have never really left when everyone else is not. 

Normally, I love change. I embrace it fully. Change is exciting. It bring adventure. It brings new things to think about, to do, people to meet. Maybe I’ll write another book…

What do you do in the face of change?

Book Review– Inferno by Dan Brown

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Amazon’s description: In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.

You know what’s funny–I’ve been wrapped in a world of loglines and query writing for the last year and that description is just not that great. It tells us very little about the actual story line. Here’s the gist of it: Robert Langdon wakes up in hospital with no memory of how he got there and only a frightening recurring dream. It doesn’t take long for the person who put him the hospital to find him and attempt to finish the job. With the help of a doctor, he escapes and searches Florence and Venice for clues to a madman’s obsession–an idea that could change the world forever (vague, I know). Landon races against the clock and discovers that everything he thinks he knows is wrong.

True to Dan Brown’s style, this story makes you think. I enjoyed the architectural descriptions of all the different locales and now have a crazy itch to travel. It has a great twist at the end that makes the book difficult to put down.  My only caveat–it took a little while to get going. I read A LOT of YA. I mean A LOT. The style in this is much slower and there isn’t as much emphasis on character or relationships, which is one of the main reasons I read YA. I enjoy the relationships. This book didn’t have any of that. Instead it had information, lots of it.

Would I recommend it: Yes, I would.

5 Story Worlds I’d Love to Live In (for a little while)

Everyone who reads knows the stories they can’t get their heads out of. It could be a number of things that do it: an amazing character, setting that you can almost feel, a story line that never quits…whatever it is, you’re hooked and you hate for it to end.

Here are my top 5:

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This is the description from Amazon:
“My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini Giocondo, though to acquaintances, I am known simply as Madonna Lisa.  My story begins not with my birth but a murder, committed the year before I was born…”
Florence, April 1478: The handsome Giuliano de’ Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence’s magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa. More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths.  Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano’s nephew and namesake.  But when Guiliano, her love, meets a tragic end, Lisa must gather all her courage and cunning to untangle a sinister web of illicit love, treachery, and dangerous secrets that threatens her life. Set against the drama of 15th Century Florence, I, Mona Lisa is painted in many layers of fact and fiction, with each intricately drawn twist told through the captivating voice of Mona Lisa herself.
My two cents: I loved this book. I read it a few years ago and I still think about it. If you even kind of like historical fiction, I would recommend it.

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Amazon:In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
My two cents: I’ve read this book a handful of times and it hasn’t gotten old yet. And a bonus: they’re making it into a movie.
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Amazon: Clary Fray is seeing things: vampires in Brooklyn and werewolves in Manhattan. Irresistibly drawn to the Shadowhunters, a secret group of warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons, Clary encounters the dark side of New York City – and the dangers of forbidden love.
My two cents: Yeah, that description is not too good and it doesn’t say a whole lot, but trust me when I say the book is one thousand percent better than the movie version. It’s action packed with just the right amount of romance.
the-raven-boys-book-cover Amazon: “There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them–not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.
His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all–family money, good looks, devoted friends–but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
My two cents: Ah, what can I say about this book? I got lost in it from the first page. The world building, the characters, the story line. Every bit of it grabbed hold of me and held on to the end. And there are three other books in the series. The second one, The Dream Thieves, was recently released.

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Amazon: In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown. Now, Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write. But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth-the ultimate betrayal-that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her…
My two cents: I loved this book, but I know quite a few that just couldn’t get into it. There are two story lines going on at the same time–past and present. Some people like that, some don’t. I found that both stories were woven so well together that I was able to shift back and forth with no problem. I can still visualize the sheer cliff beside her home and feel the cool breeze…
I could easily list more, but these are my top choices. What about you? What story worlds could you live in?

Contest Season

It’s the end of September (finally) and contest season for writers is fast approaching. The big contest I’m doing this year is Miss Snark’s First Victim’s, The Bakers Dozen. It begins tomorrow with logline critiques. Tomorrow, from 9-5 EDT, you can submit your logline to her site for critiques prior to the start of the contest. There will be three weeks for critiques, so if you’re not ready, get them ready!

The holidays are fast approaching and with that means a very slow publishing world (or so I’ve been told). This is a nice way to keep submitting and maybe even catch some interest in the manuscript you’ve been working so hard on. Good luck to all who enter.

Why I hate September

Why, you ask, could anyone hate a month? Well, for lots of really obvious reasons… I go back to work, my kids go back to school, the weather begins to cool (I prefer the heat of summer), winter fruit is never very good, yada yada yada. All good reasons, I suppose. After the lull of summer with little to no schedules to follow, September thrusts me head first into a world of schedules and meetings, packed lunches and planned dinners, endless school supply lists, and a calendar with something written on every single day. Ugh! I’m pretty organized, or at least I like to think I am. I’ve got my calendar on my fridge, my phone is updated with my schedule. Then why, oh why, can’t I remember to be at my son’s school at 6pm for Back to School night. Why can’t I remember the parent meeting at 7am on Tuesday? Or that my friend’s baby shower is this Saturday at the same time as my other friend launches her clothing line and is having a big shindig at the store opening. Why do I always seem to be unbelievably broke in September? Every year, I throw up my hands in defeat. September, you got me again. 

Is it October yet?

Giving up Coffee

“What?!”

“Seriously?”

“Why?”

Those are the responses I get from people when I tell them I gave up coffee. It’s funny how much coffee, or the act of drinking coffee, has ingrained itself into our culture. More so than alcohol. It’s crazy. People don’t “give up” coffee. They’re forced from it with threats and stern voices. So, why then? Because a few months ago I decided to go CLEAN. There’s this book called, CLEAN, by Dr. Junger. It’s basically a 22 day cleanse, of which, no alcohol and no coffee. Let’s just say it kicked my butt. I got headaches, I was grouchy, mean–basically, I was no fun to be around. And then it happened…ahhhhh. It stopped being so bad. In fact, waking up is easier, I no longer need my mid-afternoon caffeine boost, and my craving for sweets went way down. So weird. 

Then I tried a cup. Just to try it. It still tasted good. Obviously. I noticed something though…it made me grouchy and tired by noon and I “felt” dehydrated. That’s when it got really easy. If it doesn’t make you feel good, why do it? Huh…

So, what do I drink instead? Mostly a steaming hot cup of water with a wedge of lemon squeezed into it. Sound gross? It’s not. And I actually look forward to it. If I do feel like I need a bit of a push in the morning or mid-afternoon, I go for Yerba Mate (pronounced mah-tay). If you haven’t tried that, you should. Drink it plain, add some honey, or lemon, or even some mint leaves. It is so good. 

Anyway, what have you given up?

Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

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I haven’t done a lot of book reviews lately, but I felt like this one deserved it. I read, on average, a book or two a week. If I’m not writing myself, I read even more. Two days ago, I finished Legend by Marie Lu and yesterday I finished it’s sequel, Prodigy. 

The general gist of the story: Dystopian Los Angeles is ran by a mostly militarized government called the Republic. June is the Republic’s golden girl/prodigy since she took the Trial (an exam that tests emotional, intelligence, and physical strengths when aged 16). She’s the only one with a perfect score. When her older brother is murdered by the Republic’s most notorious criminal, she goes on a manhunt to find him. What she finds is that her government isn’t as good as she thought.

 

That’s really vague. I know it’s vague. I hate giving away too much. Sometimes it’s better to just dive in and let your hair be blown back. Maybe that’s a little much for this book, but it is good. Really good. Here’s the amazon link if you’d like a little more information or you want to buy it. 

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