Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Spark Unseen Blog Hop, Day 2

I'm very excited to get the opportunity to share some behind-the-scenes information about the setting for Sharon Cameron's newest book, "A Spark Unseen," the sequel to her first novel, "The Dark Unwinding." For those of you who haven't heard about the sequel, here's a little teaser to whet your appetite:

"A Spark Unseen," the thrilling sequel to Sharon Cameron’s blockbuster gothic steampunk romance, "The Dark Unwinding," will captivate readers anew with mystery and intrigue aplenty.

When Katharine Tulman wakes in the middle of the night and accidentally foils a kidnapping attempt on her uncle, she realizes Stranwyne Keep is no longer safe for Uncle Tully and his genius inventions. She flees to Paris, where she hopes to remain undetected and also find the mysterious and handsome Lane, who is suspected to be dead.

But the search for Lane is not easy, and Katharine soon finds herself embroiled in a labyrinth of political intrigue. And with unexpected enemies and allies at every turn, Katharine will have to figure out whom she can trust–if anyone–to protect her uncle from danger once and for all.

Filled with deadly twists, whispering romance, and heart-stopping suspense, this sequel whisks readers off on another thrilling adventure.

I got a sneak peek at the novel through an advanced reader's copy and spent every evening wishing that I had more than just 30 minutes or so to read before bed because I very much wanted to find out how Katharine was going to protect her uncle. It took me way longer to finish that I wanted (that comes with having a 5-month-old baby sucking up all my free time), but loved it. I was particularly in love with the unique and true to life settings, such as the Paris Morgue. So, I am excited to be able to give some background on this creepy place that really did exist in France in the 1800s.

“The morgue is a sight within reach of everybody, and one to which passers-by, rich and poor alike, treat themselves… If the slabs have nothing on them, visitors leave the building disappointed, feeling as if they have been cheated, and murmuring between their teeth; but when they are fairly well occupied, people crowd in front of them and…they express horror, they joke, they applaud or whistle, as at the theatre, and withdraw satisfied, declaring the Morgue a success on that particular day."
-Harper’s Weekly Magazine, 1874

The Morgue

The Paris Morgue was an infamous place during the mid-1800s, visited by tourists, passing dignitaries, and even Charles Dickens, who wrote an amazingly detailed description of what he saw there. In some ways The Morgue was a modern innovation, helping the new police forces identify the missing and solve murders. It was also a ghastly form of entertainment, a public spectacle feeding the frenzy for tales of horror and gore. The dignity of the dead was not really a consideration.

Engraving of the Morgue, c. 1860

When an unidentified body was received at The Morgue it was brought to a special, tiled room, undressed, washed with hoses, then brought to the viewing room, a room with one wall made of glass. The clothing was displayed on ropes above, the bodies put on a tilted slab, one small screen placed before their “nether regions.” Then any person of any age could stroll into the Morgue and view the catch of the day.

An especially gruesome murder could cause a near riot to get to the viewing glass, something that Katharine Tulman, most unfortunately, discovers for herself in "A Spark Unseen."

Only known surviving photograph of The Paris Morgue, c. 1880.
Note the clothes on mannequins, rather than on ropes as they were in the earlier engraving.

That's some seriously morbid entertainment they had back in the 1800s. Can you imagine if morgues did this today?

To see how this creepy place fits into Katharine's flight to Paris and her quest to keep her genius uncle from being forced into making deadly weapons, make sure "A Spark Unseen" gets put on your list of books to pick up when it's released Sept. 24!

For more information about Sharon Cameron and her books,
visit sharoncameronbooks.com or follow her on Twitter at
@CameronSharonE or on Facebook.

Continue on the blog hop!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: A Spark Unseen

Ever since finishing Sharon Cameron's first book, "The Dark Unwinding," I've kept her on my mental list of authors that I definitely want to read again. So when I was offered a review copy of the sequel, "A Spark Unseen," I was pretty excited.

The story picks back up in 1854 at Stranwyne Keep where Katharine and her loyal friend and maid Mary foil a kidnapping attempt on Katharine's genius uncle. In the last book he created a mechanical fish toy that could keep a steady depth under the water -- which turned out to be perfect for adapting to the invention of torpedoes to destroy iron-clad ships. Now both France and England are interested in this technology, and Katharine will have to use all of her wits to keep her uncle out of harm's way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel, and actually found myself liking it even better than the first. I think the reason is that in the first book, you pretty much know in the back of your mind that Katharine will decide to help her uncle and fight to keep him out of the lunatic asylum. In this book, it felt like there was a lot more tension because I had no idea where things were going to go next.

The plot was gripping, and I still adored the characters. I loved how strong and determined Katharine is. I particularly loved her no-nonsense personality in a scene at the end that I can't describe more for danger of spoilers. I also adored Uncle Tully. It's pretty much impossible not to love him and want to see him protected as much as Katharine does. I especially liked how well she has learned to communicate with her uncle -- who would most likely be considered highly autistic in this day and age -- in order to calm him down and help him through his anxieties.

Also interesting to me were the settings in Paris that Cameron takes us into. Many of the unusual places she takes us, like the morgue (which I'll get to reveal more about later as we continue the "A Spark Unseen" Blog Hop tomorrow), were real-life places, as strange as it seems.

So, the bottom line is, if you're looking for an exciting read with memorable characters and a unique setting, check out "A Spark Unseen" when it's released Sept. 24.

I give it 5/5 Parthenons!

Find out more about Sharon Cameron's books at her website.

Continue on the blog hop, or get more info. about the blog hop here.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

New Blog Design!

Just a quick post to squee about my new awesome blog design by Lori Lawson of Imagination Designs.

She did a fabulous job turning my vague "Greek ... blue and white ... books.." directions into a beautifully simple and sleek design.

Plus I have the cutest rating buttons EVER. Look at this!

LOVE! Anyway, look for several posts coming next week about Sharon Cameron's fabulous sequel to "The Dark Unwinding," which is called "A Spark Unseen."

In the meantime, take a look at Imagination Designs if you're in the market for some awesome blog design.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: "The Dark Unwinding"

I picked up Sharon Cameron's, "The Dark Unwinding" after hearing her speak on a panel at Southern Festival of Books in Nashville last year.

Set in England in 1852, the story focuses on teenage Katharine, who is sent to her uncle's estate to have him committed to a lunatic asylum so the rest of the family can have control of his finances. She finds her uncle is more eccentric than lunatic, and that by building his amazing clockwork inventions, he is giving jobs to hundreds of families that would be destitute without them. While struggling with the choice of protecting her own future or that of an entire community, Katharine starts seeing things that has her doubting her own sanity.

When I started the story, I had no doubts that the prim and proper heroine would come to care for her uncle and his community more than her own inheritance (And I'd even worked out why she was seemingly going crazy long before it was revealed -- though I didn't predict who was responsible), however the journey to get there was still full of fun, lovable characters and other surprises that make this book definitely worth reading.

I was most interested to learn that the fictional setting of the book, Stranwyne Keep, is based on the real Welbeck Abbey, located in Nottinghamshire, England. The massive building had miles of underground tunnels, iron and glass stable and marble-tiled cow sheds, an underground ballroom and more. Like Katherine's uncle, the Duke who built the keep also employed more than a thousand people to make his building projects possible.

Also historically accurate are the automatons that Katharine's uncle makes out of clockwork parts. In fact, Cameron says on her website that The Writer, an automaton made by Pierre Jacquet-Droz in the early 18th century, was able to be programed to write any message and is considered as some to be the world's first computer. (Check out the author's website for some interesting - and slightly creepy - videos of these lifelike humanoid machines in action.)

Fascinating historical facts and lovable characters combined to make this a fun, fast read. I'm excited to dive into the upcoming second book in the series, "A Spark Unseen" that furthers Katherine's adventures as she tries to figure out how to keep one of her uncle's inventions from becoming a weapon for Napoleon III, emperor of France, and Victoria, Queen of England.

If you haven't yet read "The Dark Unwinding," the paperback version releases later this month, and the sequel, "A Spark Unseen" releases Sept. 24. (I, for one, can't wait to read it!)

If you own a blog and would like to help spread the word about this great series, visit The Book Vortex to take part in hosting the A Spark Unseen Blog Hop. (And come back here Sept. 10, when the author will reveal some behind-the-scenes information about the setting of her second book!)

For a chance at winning one of five advanced reader copies of "A Spark Unseen," enter with the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

All for a Signature

A couple years ago my friend Shalena (of Writer Quirk) gave me my very first book signed by an author for my birthday — the author’s name was scribbled in loopy handwriting, and above that was my name and a birthday greeting.Ever since then, I’ve been addicted to getting books signed. I’ve gone to book signings in Nashville, a book fair in Kentucky and even local self-published authors. So, when I heard world-famous author Neil Gaiman was coming to Nashville, I got up early just so I could be online the exact second when the tickets went on sale months before the event.

Last week Shalena and I made the journey to Nashville, battling thunderstorms and my bad sense of direction to finally make it to the sold out event. Once all the 1,600 or so guests were seated, Gaiman told us about his new book, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” which he originally started writing as a short story for his wife while she was away making a record in Australia for several months.

“I started writing and I kept writing and I kept writing, and I thought, ‘Ok, it’s not a short story. Its a novella,’” he said. “And then I thought, ‘It’s a very long novella.’ And then I finished it and I typed it up and did my word count. Then I sent a somewhat baffled and embarrassed email to my editor saying, ‘I appear to have written a novel. I know you weren’t expecting it. I’m very sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Part of the inspiration from the story came from the time when he learned that the property at the end of his street of his family home in England was listed in a document by William the Conqueror in 1066.

“I thought, ‘Wow, one of the farms down the lane is 1,000 years old.’ It didn’t occur to me that 1,000 years ago it would have been a peasant hovel. I just figured this nice, brick building had been there for 1,000 years,” he said. “And I thought, ‘I wonder if the people who live there have been there for 1,000 years, too?’”

This kicked off the reading of a portion from the spooky novel, complete with natural sound effects from the thunderstorm going on outside the War Memorial Auditorium. After that, he answered questions from the audience. Some silly, like “How do you take your tea?”, to which he answered “Orally,” or the question, “A hypothetical: If you drove two hours to get here and sat down only to realize you’re not sure where you parked, how would you go about finding your car?” Gaiman’s answer? “I’m really fortunate because I came here in a giant bus. … You’re screwed.”

Other questions were more serious, like how it felt to hear that one of his books had changed someone’s life.

“For my first decade or so as a writer, I thought ‘It has nothing to do with me. … I just wrote it because I wrote it, and you cannot be responsible for people’s reactions to it out in the world.’ Then my dad died,” Gaiman said.

He was numb until several months later when he was reading over a script for a friend.

“In the middle of the script, a fictional character died. And suddenly I was sobbing,” he said. “All of the unwept tears from my dad, all of that stuff just came out. I thought, ‘You know. That’s amazing. It’s a wonderful, cleansing thing — getting to cry for somebody who didn’t exist, in a story — and I should not downplay it.’”

He also revealed a writing ritual: he writes his stories longhand, using different colored pens each day so he can see how much work he has done daily. The reason he writes longhand? To minimize distractions, he said.

“Even if people are not emailing me, I can realize that I’m not quite sure how many P’s and L’s are actually in (the word) ‘appallingly,’ so I should check. And 90 minutes later find myself on Ebay buying something I don’t want.”

He also joked about the treatment of his characters in his books.

“I still worry that all the characters that I’ve been mean to or I’ve killed in my stories will at some point turn up at my backdoor. I will open the door, and I’ll see them, and they’ll be going, ‘Why were we born to suffer and die?’ And I will say ‘For the entertainment. But also perhaps you taught people some valuable lessons.’ And they’ll go, ‘It still hurt.’ And I’ll say, ‘Sorry.’ Then they’ll go away. That’s probably how God feels. Maybe. You never know,” he said with a smile.

After more questions and another reading from one of his children’s books, “Fortunately the Milk,” with accompaniment on the banjo by Béla Fleck, it was finally time for the signing. They announced they would randomly draw row numbers out of a bowl to join the line. I hoped that maybe we’d be ridiculously lucky and get picked first. Then I joked that most likely, with my luck, we’d be drawn dead last.

I was right.

It was 1 a.m. when Shalena and I finally reached Neil Gaiman in the signing line — five hours after the signing started. The poor man had only taken one short break the entire time. When I rounded the corner and saw his smiling but clearly exhausted face, I understood why he said this was his last signing tour. As he signed my two books I’d brought, I thanked him for staying so late for us, and he thanked us for not rioting in the streets after having to wait for five hours for a signature. (I was ready to say if his wrist was in excruciating pain, he could just use some lip gloss or something and kiss the page for me instead. At this point, I would have taken pretty much anything.)

As Shalena and I left, we giggled about the famous author having “spoken words to us!” (this might have been the sleep deprivation kicking in) and shuffled off into the night for the long drive home.

We carried with us the precious signature and the hope that one day our own books would touch people enough to make them want to stick around for five hours just for a few quick words, a smile and an autograph.

(Me, getting that long-awaited signature!)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Why YA?

Remember that time that I decided to be a responsible, regular blogger and then I had a baby and real life said, 'Haha, that's cute. She thinks she's going to get stuff done."? Yeah. Well, that's my excuse as to why I'm so late getting this post up.

The fabulous Hannah Courtney put together an awesome YA event at Edmondson Pike Branch of the Nasvhille Library at the end of June, and kindly invited me to attend. She lined up authors: Sharon Cameron of "The Dark Unwinding" and the upcoming "A Spark Unseen," Kristin Tubb of "The 13th Sign" and "Selling Hope," Courtney Stevens of the upcoming "Faking Normal," Heather L Reid of "Pretty Dark Nothing," and Amanda Havard of "The Survivor Series," including "The Survivors" and "Point of Origin."

I'd totally intended this event to be my big "comeback" for my blog, but unfortunately, I forgot my voice recorder at work. Once I got there and realized my error, I downloaded an app onto my phone, thinking that would solve my problem. But, not having had the chance to try it out before the event, I didn't realize until halfway through that this particular app only records 5 minutes at a time.

So! Instead of the fabulously detailed post of the event, I hope you will still enjoy some random photos and the only part of the interview I got to record properly: each of the author's responses to why they chose to write YA/Middle Grade:

Sharon Cameron: "It's something I feel really strongly about. First of all, I naturally started writing in that age group because I never really left it in my reading. I read adult stuff, but I never left the 'kid' portion of the library. I always wandered there first. But I think even as a teen and a 20-something, I realized that something that I think it absolutely true and that is the fact that young adult literature is where all the amazing storytelling is going down, I think. Not that there aren't wonderful adult books and wonderful middle grade books, but I think there is such a boom of creativity and just amazing storytelling, where we're really focused on amazing stories, amazing characters -- I think Young Adult is where that's going down, and that's where I want to be."

Amanda Havard: "It has a huge appeal to me because they're trying to navigate all that (new emotional territory) and they're making all the decisions that are going to start affecting the later decisions, good or bad. Not to say that you're going to make decisions that are going to ruin everything -- I'm not saying they're all that high stakes -- but it's the formative years, right? It's the formative moments and … you're really seeing them become something, so I've always been drawn to that age group."

Kristin Tubb: "I think that the readers in that particular age group … are really open minded, and I love the idea of trying to present new ideas and new possibilities that may be the first time they're seeing this idea or it's something that they're not jaded against yet, not biased against yet."

Heather L Reid: "I think it was just the voice that came from me. I remember high school so clearly: the sights and the smells and the friendships that I made there. I keep coming back to that and the lessons that I learned. … Like you were saying, it's such a formative time and the storytelling, the things you can say to this age group is so important. ... They're not as jaded by life and they have more of an ability to go on a journey, sometimes.They're not letting their adult selves keep them back."

Courtney Stevens: "I came from a youth ministry, so I spent all my time invested in this age group. This is the age group I love and I love them for a million reasons. They have so many questions. They haven't fallen in love yet, and so when you get it, you get it for the first time. Or they haven't been in that kind of pain yet, so they really have no idea what to do with it. I needed books when I was that age, and so I think I find it a real gift to be able to give back to that age."

I also wanted to point out Courtney's awesome shirt from the back:

I had a fantastic time and can't wait for Hannah's next event -- and I promise to do my very best to actually be prepared next time! ^_^

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Back in action!

I'm back! Well, sort-of.

I've been away from the writing world for several months, dealing with pregnancy aches and pains, but in April I traded all of that in for this:

So now instead of being unable to write because of crazy hormones, exhaustion and basically feeling like a beached whale, NOW I'm unable to write because I'm sleep-deprived and caring for the needs of a now three-month old child. I'm still trying to find my groove in this massive change in my life, and so haven't quite gotten back into the habit of writing/editing every day. (If I'm not at work, I'm feeding, changing or playing with above munchkin, or trying to eat or sleep myself.)

So, even though the posts might not come very frequently, I just wanted to leave a little note saying I am more-or-less still alive and hoping to get back into the writing groove soon!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Taking Care of Yourself

I apologize for the long interval between my last post and now. One of my New Year's resolutions was to update my blog more often, but I've discovered that this isn't going to be possible right now.

Which brings me to the topic of this, my last post for a while: knowing your limits and taking care of yourself.

For the last two plus years, I've been pushing myself with writing my novel, tearing it apart and re-writing it, editing it, tearing it apart again -- working on it for hours each night after coming home from a job that also involves writing all day long. I've been active on Twitter, participated in writing contests, joined writing groups and worked hard at learning more about the craft of writing novels.

Then I got pregnant in the middle of last year and had to set my novel aside during my severe 24/7 morning sickness. Things eased up in my second trimester and I was able to make some major overhauls to my novel and rewrite my final four chapters.

I've just recently finished another draft, but looking at it, it's still not quite where I want it to be. The edits I still need are minor. I'm closer than ever to being as done as I can be. But I'm finding myself completely burnt out -- on writing my own novel and participating in most writing communities in general. At this point I don't want to even look at my novel any more. And seeing all the authors on Twitter and such with new book deals is making me increasingly prone to beating myself up about why I can't get my act together and finish MY book.

I've got about 8 weeks left to go in my pregnancy. My original plan was to finish this novel before my baby came, because I know that I'm not going to have free time for a very long time after he is born. But I've decided today that this is not a realistic goal any more. These days I have to push myself so hard just to finish my work for my day job, that I come home exhausted and in pain -- any attempt to work on my novel lately has just ended in tears and frustration (likely aided by pregnancy hormones, I'm sure.)

So, I've made the very hard decision to go on a hiatus. I'm going to put my novel aside for now, and stop stressing myself out about finishing it. I probably won't be around much on Twitter or other writing groups for a while either.

I've been making myself miserable and increasingly more depressed at a time in my life that should be exciting and filled with joy. I need to take care of myself and get through this huge transition in my life. And hopefully, in the not too distant future, I'll feel ready to pick up where I left off and get this novel in it's final version.

Hope to see you on the other side!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mythology Abridged: Humans Return ... with slightly more hard-headedness

In our next installment of Mythology Abridged, we learn how the ancient Greeks believed the earth was re-populated after the epic flood

(Again, unless otherwise noted, I read these original stories in "The Metamorphoses" by Ovid. It's awesome. Go read it if this stuff interests you!)


So, Ovid tells us that the earth was completely covered by water -- not a single strip of land still dry. But then apparently changes his mind because he later says that any humans who survived the flood eventually starved to death after they found refuge on the mountaintops. (This is why Ovid needed a beta-reader or a good writer's critique group. They catch continuity errors like this.)

But he backtracks again and says that two people actually did survive: Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha. Apparently they were always godly people and so when they prayed to Themis (a Titan and daughter of Gaia), she and Zeus took pity on them and saved their lives. Zeus did away with the flood, but there was still the issue of repopulating the earth (Deucalion and Pyrrha don't seem too thrilled at the idea of doing this the old-fashioned way.)

So, Themis tells them all they have to do is scatter their mother's bones. The couple is understandably horrified at this idea. But! Deucalion comes up with a brilliant solution. Mother Earth (aka Gaia) is their mother too, right? And, if they follow that reasoning, rocks are like the bones of Mother Earth. So, they collect some stones and throw them around.

Either this is what Themis had intended all along, or she is as amused with Deucalion's smart-assery as I was, because she makes the stones turn into people who then populate the earth.

So according to Ovid, we are descended from rocks.

(Are we related?)

(Photo source: Me! At a local park.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Novel Update!

Just a little update for friends and family who I know are thinking, "Meg, you've been saying you were writing a novel for more than two years now. AREN'T YOU DONE?" (*weeps*)
To those of you who don't particularly care about this, no worries - a "real" blog post should be forthcoming sometime this week. ^_^

Where I am in the writing process: 80,920 words/ 22 Chapters. I'm in the process of tearing apart and re-writing the epic battle scene to make it more epic-ish.
I just finished a rough rewrite of Chapter 20 tonight. I need to do a rough re-write of Chapter 21 to finish said epic battle scene, and then a rough re-write of my final Chapter 22, which wraps everything up. Then will have to go back through and see if my epic battle scene is, in fact, epic, or if it still sucks. I am hoping for non-suckage. Because I may lose my dang mind if I have to rip this novel apart again.

My current problem(s): I'm bad at writing fight scenes, let alone epic battle scenes, so I am a bit nervous about these last few chapters.
Also, there's the small pressing deadline of me, you know, giving birth around the first week of April, after which I will have NO free time/sanity until the squirt has a regular sleep schedule, which I'm told could take a billion years.

The good news: If I can keep myself from dropping from exhaustion every evening after work , I very well may have this novel in publishable condition (or at least as close as I can get it myself without professional input) by the end of January.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Mythology Abridged: Creation/Destruction of the World

I decided to try out a new series of posts I've had in the back of my mind for a while: Abridged Greek Mythology. Because while researching, I've come across some stories that are too interesting/hilarious/horrifying not to share.

So, without further ado, here's the first installment. Unless otherwise noted, I read these original stories in "The Metamorphoses" by Ovid. Check it out if you're interested in Greek myth!)


When I first dove into this book, I hadn't realized how alike the Greek creation story is with the Biblical creation story. A lot of the imagery of the creation of the world is very familiar and there is some really beautiful imagery throughout this section. One favorite example of mine is the description of precious gems in the ground described as “Jove's (Zeus') treasures ... locked in night.”

The descriptions are especially wonderful where humans are concerned: Yet world was not complete: It lacked a creature that had hints of heaven And hopes to rule the earth. So man was made.

And: While other beasts, heads bent, stared at wild earth, The new creation gazed into blue sky.

SO pretty!

Immediately following is a story eerily similar to the Tower of Babel story from the Bible. Giants (later described as “lizard-footed”, which makes me think of dinosaurs, which would be kind of awesome) pull up mountains and stack them on each other in order to reach Zeus' throne and are rewarded for their trouble with a giant thunderbolt that knocks the mountains back down to earth and kills the giants. From this “blood-wet clay” is created a new race of man, one that becomes pretty much completely evil.

Some time after, Zeus becomes fed up with humanity's crazy evilness and decides to just kill everybody with a flood. (Sound familiar?) He calls a council of the gods and basically tells them, “People are disgusting. This one guy cooked me human meat. HUMAN meat. Do they think we're barbarians?!" He has had enough with these crazy humans. He's going to kill them all.

However the other gods are sad because if they kill off all the humans, WHO is going to bring them PRESENTS? Did Zeus think the animals were going to up and sacrifice THEMSELVES? Jeeze, Zeus. Really.

So Zeus reassures his fellow drama queen immortals that he will make a better race of humans because this current race is gross. And then, though Zeus kills all mankind, he is doing it with some mighty lovely imagery if I do say so myself:

Isis, handmaiden of Juno (Hera),In rainbow dress drew water from earth's streams, Replenishing the clouds.

And: “Open your locks and dykes, your streaming walls, and springs, Unleash the horses riding in foam through waterfalls and waves.” (Which I took to be a metaphor for the rolling waves, not actual dying horses falling over waterfalls, which would be horrifying and not lovely imagery at all.)

Oh! And also: Mermaids drifting with new-opened eyes, Gazed into cities that were walked by men.

So, you know, the world ended. But at least it happened poetically.

(Earth photo source:EveryStockPhoto)
(Zeus photo source: Me! At the Nashville Parthenon.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Not just your story

It's no secret that I am completely horrible at video games. I stress myself out trying to remember what button I'm supposed to push and more often than not I end up wildly smashing my fist against the controls. Not to mention, if all I'm doing is fighting, if I'm not moving the story along fast enough, I get bored easily and tend to turn off the game to do other things.

In all these years, there's really only one game that's ever held my attention (and not stressed me out) long enough for me to finish it: Final Fantasy X. I think I've actually played AND beaten the game three or four times since I was first convinced to pick it up when I was in my early 20s.

Even today I still think the cut scene graphics are beautiful, the characters are interesting and unique, and the storyline is entertaining. (Also, I may or may not have a fictional character crush on Auron.)

*pets him*

As much as I love this game, one line the protagonist, Tidus, says toward the end has struck me as wrong since I first heard it. (Actually, in Googling it to make sure I wasn't remembering this wrong, it seems like he says it, or a variation of it, several times.)

He claims that this is HIS story.

Yes, technically he is the main character of this video game. But that still seemed awfully shallow of him to say. Through the whole game we'd been shown that every single one of his companions had a history, a series of events that made them who they were. Their main goal in life was not to be Tidus' support group. They weren't there just to make him look good. They had their own lives.

It's been something that's stuck in the back of my mind as I've written my own stories. I want my "sidekicks" to feel like real people - like if my main character suddenly disappeared, they wouldn't just wind down like clockwork dolls, their source of power gone. I don't want them to just be background objects to fill in the holes of my main character's life.

Because I don't think that's realistic at all. Nobody wants to think of themselves as supporting cast to somebody else. We all have dreams and nightmares, hopes and fears.

This is everybody's story.

The interesting part is seeing what happens when those stories collide.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bring YA Authors to Your Town!

Have you ever wished that a big YA book tour would make a stop in your hometown? Well, here's your chance for that wish to come true! YA2U is a program that features five award-winning and best-selling authors who are holding a contest to see what city they should visit in an exclusive tour stop!

The authors are collecting votes from January 1 to February 15, and any city in the continental US or any Canadian city that has an international airport can win an exclusive visit from all five authors, including an author panel and book signing! Entering is super easy--and if you help spread the word about the contest, you can also enter win a signed copy of all of their books (TEN signed books in total!)--and the book contest is open internationally!

The authors in the program are:

And they want to have an event in your home town! To participate, just got to the YA2U website and let them know what city you want them to come to. And while you're there, help spread the word about the contest and you can be entered to win all of their books--TEN signed books in total! 

Here's why the YA2U Team should come to MY hometown! 

Because Cookeville, Tenn., is awesome.

Traffic is not as crazy as Nashville, so there's no stressful driving. It's a college town, so there's plenty of young folks around to appreciate a YA book signing. We have a library with a nice big conference room — that is also right next to a beautiful park. In addition to Books-A-Million, we also have several indie bookstores like FoxLeaf Books (which has an adorable dog mascot that comes to work with the owner each day), and Books and More.

Plus, we have like a MILLION restaurants, people. All on one street. It's called Restaurant Row. You do not have to drive the whole city looking for food - just drive down this one street, and you are set, my friend.

Also, our town has a Quidditch team. Enough said.

Why should the YA2U Team come to your hometown? Why not join in the fun today and share with others about this program and your hometown. The more votes your town gets, the closer you are to having your very own personal tour stop! Vote for YOUR town here!

And if you help spread the word, you can also participate in the book giveaway. Tell them that you learned about YA2U from me and we both get extra entries in the contest! 
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