Sunday, December 2, 2012

On tea and not writing.

Hi friends!

Smaug's Dream Tea @ Adagio
I think, by this point, it's pretty safe to say that 2012 has been a traumatizing, magical, amazing, difficult year. I don't want to go into much detail now, maybe save that for the end-of-the-year post, but I just want to say that I haven't been writing, but I think about, dream about writing every, single day.

Every day.

But I'm not writing.

I'm reading. Blending teas. Drinking tea. Creating art. Not writing.

Earlier this year, and for a year, I fought a with a book I thought I could win, and it didn't work out. It wasn't writing a book. It was unknowingly fitting all of the horrible, personal things that have happened into one text and then reliving them all over every time I read it, every time I edited it, every time I thought about it.

I grew to hate it. Fear it.

I honestly believed it was just one of those writer-things, you know? "Oh gawd, I hate revising. Revising is the devil."

And trust me, it was that too.

And I did learn a lot--I grew tremendously as a writer.

But as I edited and revised and fought and fought and fought, I broke myself apart. Every time I did anything, I would revisit my father's funeral. His death. I would remember all of the things I failed at and all of the things that I've dreamed of and lost.

It was a good story.

Not a great story.

It wasn't a good book.

It broke me in half.

I know as writers, we are supposed to write from within ourselves. We're supposed to take our experiences and put them on paper and make the writing truly authentic.

And I will, again. When I stop thinking and obsessing over writing and actually write. I have a million stories inside of me, and I'm now equipped to write them fearlessly.

Until then, I've been reading books. I'm reading all of the books. And drinking all of the tea. Making all of the art.

It'll happen soon. I can feel it. You can only hold yourself back from doing something you desperately love for so long.

Thank goodness.


That was the end of my blog, but, quickly, my tea! It's Tolkien-inspired and you can buy it at Adagio Teas! Here is a link to the tea, the art, and the links to buy: TEA

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Peek: Lantern Collection

Hi friends!

It's been a while since I've posted a blog, and instead of updating with all of the things going on in my life--which would probably be boring and MAYBE a bit of a downer--I want to jump back in with my non-writing related blog posts of photos.

NaNoWriMo is starting up soon, so I'm plotting out my new book now, and I can't wait to get back to writing. I can't remember the last time I said that I A) missed writing and B) was excited to write.

These are good things, friends.


I began collecting lanterns a few years ago. I really loved the idea of having a bunch of them, different ones, so I could eventually scatter them around a garden of a house I would buy. I'm still collecting them, even though I'm still in a small apartment in Hollywood, but. Light. You know, it's a good thing. ;)

These lanterns came from Goodwill, Ross, and Ikea. :D

Sunday, August 19, 2012

All of the Things

Hi friends!

Long time no see, yes? I had so many blogs posted, and then all of a sudden BAM things happened. Things like SDCC, where I went and worked the booth for, and LeakyCon, where I got my Harry Potter geek on.

San Diego Comic Con was particularly amazing this year because of all of the amazing people I had the opportunity to meet, and all of the AUTHORS I got to see in person! I watched a panel moderated by Nathan Bransford, which had all stars like Leigh Bardugo, Kami Garcia, James Dashner, Tahereh Mafi, Scott Westerfeld. dfjksdhfjdsgfsd.

I also finally got to meet Victoria Schwab of THE NEAR WITCH and upcoming THE ARCHIVED, and Kiersten White of the PARANORMALCY series as well as the upcoming MIND GAMES. They were both so much awesome.

While I was in line, I heard someone talking about their book coming out soon, and it was Shannon Messenger! :D She gave me signed bookmarks, and I gave her Fancy Narwhal stickers.

After recovering for a couple of weeks, LeakyCon arrived.

It was only a week ago. It marked a lot of growth in my life from a lot of firsts. Flying alone (yep, almost missed my flight), wandering the streets of Chicago, sitting through so many amazing Lit panels with authors and agents who gave the most wonderful advice.

Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Stephanie Perkins offered me so much advice about the writing situation I'm going through, and I don't think I've ever felt so relieved to have people understand what I'm going through. It's something else going along for a while thinking you're in the dark and then boom, someone hands you a lantern. Not only are you NOT in the dark, you're also surrounded by people who are going through or have gone through the same thing.

While contemplating the existence of my current novel, I've been keeping busy with The Fancy Narwhal which took the LeakyCon Craft Fair by storm with all of it's fanciness. Next week, we'll be at Meltdown Comics for the Super*Market. If you're in the Hollywood area, you should stop by. <3 p="p">
On a story related note, I'm working on a comic project called Estari with one of my best friends. You can watch the progress here:


Sorry about the brain dump. You know. All of that *motions above* that information I just unloaded.  Hopefully I can get back to a regular posting schedule soon.

In the meantime, how has your summer been?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hunger (Or 'Things to Remember When You're Feeling Sorry for Yourself')

Sherlock illustrating 'Monday Comes Too Soon.'
This week was like many weeks I've had--like we've all had. You know, Monday comes too soon. Feeling under the weather. Can't seem to find the right stride, wonder what the shit is going on, and then throw hands up in the air (or flip a table) and call it a week.

I grumbled for a lot of the week. I complained and found I was making myself miserable. I had a ridiculous headache, and I whined about it to anyone who (never had a chance) asked me how I was doing.

It's so easy to get caught up in the drama--even the mini-drama.

Thursday, I went out to lunch with my fiance, and we found ourselves with half-eaten plates of delicious Mediterranean food. We considered throwing it away, and then considered getting to-go boxes which would sit in the refrigerator until we threw it away, all while we were lamenting about the week and how unfair (I hate this word) it all was.

Hollywood is full of homeless people. It's kind of a fact. You can't go far without finding someone curled up in a sheltered corner or walking past an outstretched hand. After a while, these things just become a part of the scene. A part of something that we all are accustomed to, which is a sad, sad thing--to be accustomed to suffering.

In the middle of our decision making, we noticed a lank man with a large black trashbag in one hand--presumably filled with bottles and cans for recycling--angrily shaking the nearby trashcan. He pulled out a plate of half-eaten Mongolian noodles and started kicking things and slamming the trashcan around.

"Do you think he's hungry?" I asked, still unsure what was happening.

George turned to look and called to him. "Hey, are you hungry?" George gestured to our plates of virtually untouched food, and the man turned around and his entire demeanor changed. His body went slack; the relief crossed his face.

After we gave him the food he looked at us, took a bite of chicken, and said, "Thank you so much. I'm so hungry." It was interesting to me--he didn't say 'I was hungry' but 'I'm so hungry.'

"I am so hungry."

He quickly disappeared from wherever he came with his plate piled high with chicken, potatoes, beef, and pita bread.

We were utterly humbled and reminded in mere moments how far we had come in our life and how much we had--how much we could take for granted. There were times when we weren't sure where our next meal would come from. There were time when we weren't sure if we'd have a place to live.

The uncertainty of everything was enough to drive us crazy.

But here we are with everything we have, and it's so important to remember how things could be and how immeasurably lucky we are even when we think things aren't going our way. It's really tough sometimes to remember these things, especially when it's all relative to the current situation. What is important and worrying now isn't what was important and worrying last month.  Last year.

When you're feeling down, yeah, okay. Remember those who are unfortunate, remember those who are actually, truly hungry, but also remember everything that's good in your life and celebrate all of the tiny victories you have every single day.

Remember all of the tiny things that make you happy that fold together into your complex and layered life. Things will feel less overwhelming... things will be put into perspective, and you'll be a lot happier for it.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Let's play a game! (v2)

Hi everyone!

Still catching up from sickness and travel and work and school. Do you ever stop and think, "How the hell did I get myself into all of this?"

Yeah. That's me right now.

I have to get back to finishing this draft of my book, but I wanted to revisit something that I did in February of last year. Simple, easy, and weird until I can post a blog with substance. ;)


The internet is a world of distractions, and I can waste a day away clicking from one thing to the next. I also have the unfortunate habit of opening a bunch of windows/tabs at once, and I get lost in my own browser.

If you have multiple tabs open:
What are they? (you don't have to be super specific)

If you have one window open:
What are the last three websites you've visited? (again, you don't have to be super specific.)

Do you have any weird browsing habits or a routine you follow?

Let's go!


8 Firefox Tabs open:

1st tab: Rachel Morgan's latest blogpost
2nd tab: The blog entry window
3rd tab:
4th tab:
5th tab:
6th tab: Query Shark: #133
7th tab: Query Shark: #179
8th tab: Twitter.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Giveaway Winner!


This is my YAYWINNER .gif. Get used to it. ;)

Across the Universe by Beth Revis


A Million Suns by Beth Revis

goes to


Congratulations :D I'll be e-mailing you shortly!

<3 Thanks to everyone who entered,
and keep your eyes open for the next book giveaway!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Not dead.

Hi lovely reader-folk.

A quick blog to let you know that I AM STILL ALIVE.

Between a trip to Mexico and battling an epic cold, I haven't been able to do much but crawl to work every day. I'm on the mend, though, and should be back on the blogging wagon next week.

Hope you all are having a marvelous week. <3

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Ash-Born Boy (and other amazing things!)

Hi guys, I hope you're having a lovely week! <3

A while ago, I had a giveaway for a wonderful book--THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab. When I read it, I fell in love with the the words and the story; I had to share it with others. The way V weaves the words together is amazing. It's completely easy to fall into her story.

Well, today is May 15th, which equals a super important day in THE NEAR WITCH history!

Have a look....

Since it's May 15th, not only does THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab come out in paperback TODAY, but, to celebrate its release, "The Ash-Born Boy" is finally up over at Disney*Hyperion's website!

What IS "The Ash-Born Boy"?

It's a free story Victoria wrote as a thank-you to her fans, and she wrote it to answer ONE question: "Who was Cole before he came to Near?"

Now, if you've already read THE NEAR WITCH, "The Ash-Born Boy" is guaranteed to change the way you see Cole.

And if you haven't read THE NEAR WITCH yet, don't worry, "The Ash-Born Boy" won't spoil anything!

So basically, either way, you should go read Cole's story ;)

I had the opportunity to read it earlier, and it is haunting and beautiful--you really need to check it out. Another link drop in case you missed it.

But what if I want to read THE NEAR WITCH first?
Don't worry! Cole's story will stay up on Disney*Hyperion's website, and if it ever comes down, Victoria will carve out a space for it on her own site. It will always be available somewhere, and it will always be free.


Cole's story isn't the only goodie to go along with the paperback release. In the back of the paperback itself, you'll find the first chapter of Victoria's new book, THE ARCHIVED, which doesn't come out until January!

Help Victoria celebrate today by taking a look at "The Ash-Born Boy," and don't forget to buy/order/pick up your own paperback copy of THE NEAR WITCH :)


Saturday, May 5, 2012

LeakyCon and the Stories We'll Have

 Earlier in the year, I escaped. I ran away. The weight of the world absolutely crushed me, and all of the things that happened--good and bad--in 2011 came falling down around me like a blanket of snow. I was smothered.

I wasn't the greatest person to be around. I was a bitch (...not like I haven't been one in the past... sorry guys), and I would go to work and come home and go to work and come home and then just lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling wondering why I felt so restless.

So I pulled the trigger. With some inspiring talks with a couple of co-workers (one who is about to go off on his own adventures), I booked tickets to Costa Rica. Within three weeks, I was there, it was amazing--pressed the good ole reset button.

When I returned, everything was still upside down. Still dealing with my father's death, still reeling from the strange behavior I fell into for the holidays and new year... there was a lot of rebuilding to do. I jumped back into work, enrolled in online classes, and promptly made a billion projects for myself.

One of the things I imagined would've gone away after I traveled was the urge to travel more. I thought the wanderlust would disappear. A good friend sort of laughed at me and said, "It doesn't work that way."

I was finding this out.

Imagining new destinations, I was already planning my next trip in my head. I'd traveled to Costa Rica, now I could go anywhere. I could take that Alaskan Cruise I wanted. Or I could go to Greece! Greece!

The ideas piled up but that urgency from earlier was gone, so I just let them all simmer on a pot.

A close, best friend of mine--one of two amazing people who suffer through my writing--tackled me online one day. "LeakyCON," she said. "LEAKY. CON. JULI. WE HAVE TO GO. WOULDN'T IT BE FUN?!" (I'm not sure if she actually wrote in capslock, but that's how I FELT like she would've said it to me.)

Having met through a mutual love for Harry Potter, I knew that those two strange words were the key to one of the biggest Harry Potter conventions ever. And I had wanted a chance to--yeah okay, insert your giggles here--wear my Slytherin robes again. It was a dream though. Spend that money on airfare, hotel, and the convention in CHICAGO just to hang out with a bunch of Harry Potter nerds?

Yeah, I really, really wanted to.

But I couldn't justify it. I had just gone to Costa Rica...

... time passed. Slowly. Or too fast. Or where it feels slowly but then you look back and say, "What the shit, time, where did you go?"

And I finally made a decision. BAM. Convention tickets bought. BAM. Airplane tickets bought.


Hello, Chicago!

I'm heading to Chicago in August to partake in LeakyCon, but also the LeakyCon Lit portion of the convention. Guys... guys... these people!


It's been kind of a crazy year.

And I don't anticipate it getting any less crazy,

But I'm finally learning to embrace it and realize that these days, weeks, months, years are the moments we crave for the stories we'll one day tell.


What adventures are you having/planning?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Peek: Donut Apocalypse

Hi everyone!

My co-workers and I have been talking about donuts for weeks, and I've just had this massive craving for them... so I finally gave in a couple weeks ago and, well, took pictures of the madness. I'm presenting to you the first of my 'Peek' series where I upload a bunch of pictures--usually food related--to satisfy my own photography craving. Enjoy! <3

Monday, April 30, 2012

Random Monday: Libraries, Otters, Agents & GIVEAWAY

 Random Mondays
Libraries, otters, agents, I give you books.

Copyright Simon Brown


I always fall in love with photos of libraries and piles of books. I've posted my own little reading nook before, but what I really would love to have is a room full of books--my own library complete with a hidden door. Preferably leading to another room with more books.

I find a lot of my favorite images on tumblr, but I recently happened upon a pintrest board that had a lot.

Enjoy the library porn, folks:

See handholding in action


My friend, Toby, loves otters, and recently I've been
happening upon the cutest images and videos of them.
I kind of want some tiny ones. <3


Yesterday, I posted a blog to giveaway a copy of Across the Universe and A Million Suns by Beth Revis! Go there! Leave a comment! Go FORTH AND WIN!

Monday informative link:

Happy Monday everyone! <3 Have a great week!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Across the Universe Book Giveaway!

Across the Universe Book Giveaway!

Friends! It is that time again! That time when I give away delightful books that I've read and loved this year.  Earlier, I gave away copies of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone to two lucky, lovely people. What's up for grabs now?


Why are there two book covers if I'm giving away a single book?


Across the Universe by Beth Revis


A Million Suns by Beth Revis

 These are the first two books in the trilogy, and I'm offering the hardcover for both! 

Admittedly, I'm super lucky I held off on reading the first one, because the second one came out nearly right after I finished reading (it was a good thing because I was hooked.)

I'm absolutely dying for the last (Shades of Earth) which isn't released until January 2013. Woe.

Enter to win by leaving a comment! You can tell me how much you'd love to have these books! You can tell me what you had for dinner! You can leave me a recipe for for favorite cookie.

Just leave a comment.

Giveaway closes on May 25th @ 11:59pm Eastern Time!

EDIT: MAY 26th @ 9:00pm EST! (I've been sick guys D: Have more time!) 

... and GO!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Table flipping (and thank you)

Happy Friday, everyone!

I had originally planned a post on LeakyCon, but instead, I'm going to say "Happy Friday" to you all.

Have you ever had one of those weeks, you know, the ones where you're running a marathon to finish everything? And you're doing well! I mean, you're tired... but you're making it? And then you get to the last leg (which happens to be downhill), and you trip and just roll down to the finish line?

No? Well. Ffff.

 That was this week! Amazingly productive, amazingly tiring, and then rolling down the hill through prickly weeds at the end.

That's where the table flip comes in. What is a table flip, you ask. It's exactly what it sounds like.


Thank you, Alan Rickman, for this glorious table flip.

I'll let the next series of images speak for themselves.

And so. Friday. Yes. Wonderful, glorious Friday. It's been a great day, despite all the table flipping moments, and I just wanted to let you all know how grateful I am that you read this, and I hope you all have an amazing weekend! This blog goes back to its regular programming on Monday with the 'Random Monday' blog. <3

Also, if you want to help me flip tables, I created an Amazon wishlist with commentary on each table. People who have seen the Hunger Games movies will be amused ;)

Please excuse me while I put the table back.

┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Random Mondays: Eggs & Bacon, Squid & Critiques

Random Mondays <3

1st edition: Eggs & Bacon, Squid & Critiques.

Happy Monday, friends! 

I hope you have an amazing Monday and a wonderful week! This is the first of many Random Monday posts where I collect some things I've liked to share with you all! It could be anything--a touch of silly, a touch of fun, delicious food, or writing advice.

 Bacon & Eggs

My hands are always cold. I have numerous pairs of gloves, but it's hard to type unless they are fingerless gloves or just generic handwarmers. I have a few sets, but this is my newest! Bacon & Eggs! You can grab your own here: 

The Dainty Squid

A friend of mine was looking at hair color and happened upon this amazing blogger, Kaylah, of The Dainty Squid. 

She's all about really neat, eclectic fashion, fun things like nail art and always has some sort of beautiful hair color. If you want a pop of something happy in your day, take a peek at her blog--you're sure to find something interesting. 
Visit the Dainty Squid:

Crits for Water

There's a lot going on at Crits for Water in an effort to raise money for charity: water. It's been amazing to watch the outpouring of support from the donators but also the agents, editors, and authors who are donating their time to make auctions worthwhile for writers (aside from the knowledge that they are contributing towards something huge).

A FULL manuscript critique AND a 30 minute follow-up phone call! Crazy! If you have the money to donate to this charity, jump on in to help out and maybe have the opportunity to hand your manuscript over and get great feedback!

That's it for Random Mondays! Have a good one <3 :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Blogging Adventure Ahead.

I've spent a long time staring at my blog. A very long time. Months. Trying to find my place in the whole community of writing blogs--or blogs by writers.

At one point, I told another blogger, E.J. Wesley, that I just felt I didn't have anything to offer. It feels like everything has been said, it feels like everything has been done, and I don't feel qualified to give advice on anything.

What good does that make my slice of space on the internet?

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been searching for an identity, searching for a way to make this place more exciting for everyone who visits but also for me. Half of the challenge of blogging is just not being compelled or thrilled to post anything.

So here I am. I'm not sure if you've noticed the changes, but I'm getting more involved and blogging about things I love. And giving away things. I love giving away books. And things.

I've updated the look of my blog, and I've been blogging almost regularly (depending on what regularly means, I'm pretending it means more than once a month).

What else can you expect?

- More book giveaways
- More thing giveaways
- Posts on writing
- Posts about how I should be writing
- Posts about how I can't write anymore because my fingers hurt and my eyes are bleeding.
- Posts about all of the things that distract me from writing: Cats. Kittens. Reading. Buying books. Art. Things I collect. Food. I love food. Donuts. Cupcakes. Delicious steaks. (Okay this list could be endless.)

I have a few things planned, so... just you hang in there. I'll make this a place you won't want to leave.

Yeah. I just challenged myself.

Oh wait... wait a second. Guys. What is this? Oh.

Click here for source and recipe: Here. Click me

BAM. That was the sound of you suddenly deciding that it's okay if you want to hang out on my blog. Because, well. Brownies.

(sometimes I cheat.)


Sunday, April 15, 2012


The two winners of Laini Taylor's




Congratulations! <3

Send me a note on dA or e-mail aunjuli at gmail dot com
with your address!

Thank you to everyone who participated, and if you didn't win, have no fear--
a new book giveaway will be announced soon!


Saturday, April 14, 2012

On dyeing your hair pink. (A weekly recap)

I wanted to do a fun weekly recap every Friday, but I was exhausted yesterday.  Eventually, I'd like to include great posts I've read, videos I've seen, things I've heard... I just need to start keeping a log. Unfortunately, this post will be a little me-centric.

Without further delay, here are some fun things from last week:

I pinked my hair! Last year, I made the move from brown hair to black and red hair, and I finally got tired of it and went for pink.

I painted a picture of my friend's cat, Scamp! It's watercolor and acrylic on illustration board.

I launched my new FLIGHT collection at The Fancy Narwhal!  This is one of the sticker sheets :D

The company that makes beanie babies, Ty, came out with these new toys called Monstaz. My George bought me the pink one (it matches my hair now!) and my co-worker bought the purple one for herself (she has purple hair too ;) ) and then my other co-worker got the mini-green one. They all make annoyingly cute noises that, when played in unison, destroys the productivity of the office. ;)

Still taking entries for this contest until I pull the winners tomorrow morning! Enter to win a copy of this awesome book!

That's pretty much it! Well. Except this:

Lannister is on the right, Sherlock is on the left.

I'll end this post with kitties ;) Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Friends and writing.

I have two of the best friends and the best readers ever.

[4/12/12 2:10:59 AM] Joanna: Okay.
[4/12/12 2:11:03 AM] Joanna: You're not here right now.
[4/12/12 2:11:04 AM] Joanna: But.
[4/12/12 2:11:07 AM] Joanna: FWIW
[4/12/12 2:11:22 AM] Joanna: I think you've finally reached the challenge Juli.
[4/12/12 2:11:27 AM] Joanna: I think THIS RIGHT HERE is the hard part.
[4/12/12 2:11:39 AM] Joanna: You're past the first flush of OMG I have a story to tell
[4/12/12 2:12:09 AM] Joanna: and when you finish, then you'll have to do query letters and stuff and I know if it were me, some small part of me would be scared of rejection at that stage
[4/12/12 2:12:33 AM] Joanna: So I think that it's THIS part that is the hard part. Pushing through the edits until you have something on the other side.
[4/12/12 2:12:54 AM] Joanna: And I know I prefer to sleep a lot! And play games and not do flute practice and just spend time spending time
[4/12/12 2:13:07 AM] Joanna: but this is the bit that sets you apart
[4/12/12 2:14:08 AM] Joanna: I think this is the second hurdle that people fall at.
[4/12/12 2:14:16 AM] Joanna: The first is actually finishing something in the first place.
[4/12/12 2:14:25 AM] Joanna: You've passed that with flying colours
[4/12/12 2:14:49 AM] Joanna: So if you want, I can be the bully and make you feel like crap until you get this done XD
[4/12/12 2:15:11 AM] Joanna: Then Kelly will take you out for tea in Chicago :)
[4/12/12 10:11:55 AM] Kelly: Joanna, how do you life. You always say the perfect thing.

I love them. So much.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You. Yes. You. Who are you?

I just want to take a moment to recognize two things:

1. Even though I don't blog often, I want to.

2. I hardly know you at all.

If you have a moment, just a single moment, please tell me something about yourself.  Anything. Favorite book. Nicknames. Favorite moment in your life. Your greatest fear. You can also ask me a question, and I'll answer it.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Moments of Utter Joy

I'm knee-deep in my current novel. It feels like the edits are endless, and sometimes I revise myself into pretty interesting situations. It's my first go at editing a novel, and I'm racking up experience points and brain bruises pretty quickly.

Sometimes, when it's disheartening, I take a step away.

And another step.

And then I slam my head on the wall.

And then I run to my readers and complain. And weep.

They comfort me.

And then I turn around and face everything I've ever known and ever loved--the books I cling to when I need a story. When I need a new world. When I need hope. Those same books which pushed me towards writing to begin with. And I sit there with them. With the characters.

I fall into the story and experience all of the love and sadness and pain right along with them.

While I was working one day, I thought to myself, "Why am I so drawn to this story? Why is my heart so attached? Why do I cry during this part... and why do I want to BE there for that part?"

And then I scribbled on a post-it note. It's those moments. Each of them separately and each of them paired together.

Moments of utter joy.
Moments of triumph.
Moments of despair.

Not glimpses of happiness or an underlying feeling of goodness throughout. The sharp points a reader doesn't expect but so desperately wants.

The spectrum is huge. I only wrote three, but there are so many more. But what I'm drawn to--what I cling to--are these three things. In any order. And repeated.

I went back to my own novel and realized it was pretty... muted. Like the flat horizon line on the ocean. The feelings were happy, cheerful, sad, distraught... everything we feel but everything that isn't particularly memorable. My story didn't have that punch. My character didn't have her moment of utter joy. And this character? She needs it. She needs it like I need it.

 I'm still working on editing this book. In fact, it's what I should be doing right now...

It'll get there. I'll add that punch.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Giveaway

<3 Hi everyone!

In an effort to combat my lazy blogging habits, I decided it would be exciting to get things started with a giveaway!

When I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, it transported me to another world entirely. The language drew me in, and the movements and colors and ideas and shapes kept me tucked away safely watching the story unfold. It's an amazing read, and I really REALLY want to share the love and excitement with someone else.

I'm giving away TWO new copies of Daughter of Smoke and Bone!

To enter:

Leave a comment with the title of the last book that you fell in love with! You can elaborate if you want (in fact, I encourage it!) ... or you can just say 'I want this book.' Or you can tell me how the weather is. Just comment ;)

Please share on twitter and wherever else you'd like!

Winners will be randomly drawn and will be announced on April 14th!

Choose Your Own Adventure Bloghop - Year of the Dragon

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon Choose Your Own Adventure Bloghop! Whee! This is not the beginning. If you wish to start the adventure, hop on over by clicking the image below. <3

Abandon Sensei to Help the Dragon

You’ve always trusted your sensei, but in the last few years, you noticed he was acting differently. A little less humble... a little more wild-eyed. You didn’t say anything because you knew he was going through a rough time, but all of these secrets he hid from you.

Why would he hide such a huge tale from his student? The one person he’s been entrusting his knowledge and secrets to for all of these years...

Your head hurts. You should free the sensei, but before you can make the decision, the dragon speaks again.

“We met a long time ago, the sensei and I. He’s a lot older than he looks, and he looks pretty old,” the dragon says. “He was young, foolish, but forthright. He knew of good and evil, and he knew about the balance that was needed between the two.”

“We fell out of contact until a few years ago, and when he found out that my eggs would hatch and there would be more dragons again in the world, he fought tooth and nail to keep me from them.”

“Because you’re a dragon. Dragons are dangerous,” you say. You’re still frightened, yet the tone of the lady dragon keeps you calm and relaxed. Perhaps you have the upper hand. “He can’t just let dragons out into the world.”

“I will take my hatchlings north, into hiding,” the dragon pleads. “If they hatch without me, they will consume each other. The dragons will cease to exist. There are only two left--my mate and I--and we are both nearing the end. The magic the dragons hold... beyond anything anyone could imagine.”

“Don’t listen to her!” The sensei yells, and it echoes terribly in the cavern. Your ears ring. “She’s fooling you!”

“I’m sorry I treated you so terribly,” The dragon says, huffing, swirls of smoke twisting from it’s nostrils. You are mesmerized by the red scales that seem to glitter even in the darkness. “Please, go back to the dojo with me to find the relic. Time is running out.”

You climb onto the dragon’s back near the edge of the cliff. The scales glint in the sparse moments of sun, and you look away to avoid being blinded. She lifts you into the air, and you feel the wind whistling by you. The trees from the mountain seem so far away, but the dragon sweeps down--as if she’s read your mind--into the treetops and weaves in and out. The cool air becomes cold, and you’re gasping. She pulls you back into the sky and slows her pace allowing you to see the beauty of your surroundings. This is one of those moments where you wish you had a camera.

Before long, she lands at the dojo, and you run inside to look for the relic. The dojo always felt somewhat empty, what with only you and your sensei, but it feels almost ghostly now that he’s not there. You run into his office and throw open the drawers and cabinets.

Rummaging through the drawers, you look for the jade toothpick, when the sense to look at the actual toothpick holder comes over you. It’s silly, right? But when you find it there, you shake your head. The sensei kept a most treasured possession in a toothpick holder.

You grab it, enclosing it in your hand gently, and run out of the dojo and towards the dragon.
“I have it.”

“Give it to me,” the dragon coaxes. She lowers her head to you and stares you down. You feel compelled to give it to her, as if she has some power over you. Blinking, you shake away the clouds in your mind. You look around you. The mundane. The every day life you live. You want more.

“No... no. I will hold it, and we will make an agreement. If you do not agree, I will shatter the relic into pieces,” you say. You have the upper hand now.

“ agreement?” The dragon says. Her eyes glisten at you, and she drops her head down to your level.

“I know, through dragon lore, that the promise of a dragon can never be broken and will be carried through the end of time, and that if the dragon breaks the promise, the dragon will turn to a mass of glittering gems.” When it leaves your lips, it sounds ridiculous, but you stick to it.

The dragon snorts and smoke curls out of her nostrils. “How do you know this?”

“You will make the promise to me that you will release my sensei, you will harm no human unless they harm you... and you will let me visit you. Unharmed. I want to learn the power of the dragon.”

“You ask three promises of me, not one.”

“You have four eggs to save. Not one,” you reply feeling the confidence growing inside of you.

The dragon urges you onto her back, “We haven’t the time to sit around. Jump on my back, and we’ll talk on the way there.” Warily, you jump on the dragon’s back.

The flight is short this time, but when you arrive, the dragon stands at attention to you.

“I promise I will release the sensei. I will not harm him nor another human lest he try to harm me first. I promise to take you to our land where you will learn the power of the dragon.”

“And you must promise that your hatchlings will also hold to this promise.”
“They will. I promise.”

You nod and follow the dragon down the tunnel and towards the curtain of mist that keeps the dragon from her eggs.

“You said that this relic will allow you to retrieve them?” you ask.

“Yes. I will be able to gather the hatchlings together, and finally be freed of this cavern.”

“How does it work?” you ask.

“Prick the mist with the sharp end of the relic.”

You hear clattering from down the tunnel. The sensei. Your heart beats.

“Okay. Here we go.”

Before you move to prick the mist, the cries of the baby dragons can be heard. You glance up, from the relic, and see that they are already starting to hatch.

“Hurry! I must feed them.”

Feed them what? You wonder. Your hands begin to shake. The tales, the lore. Is it true? What if it isn’t...

You look at the dragon and her babies and consider an exit strategy. You can run and crawl down a narrow tunnel you saw. They could fry you with their flames, but you’d be no good to them dead.

You prick the misty curtain. It dissipates, and you dive out of the way from the mother dragon. She is inside in a flash curling her neck around her babies--all twice the size of you. You freeze in your tracks. The air around the dragons glitters and shimmers. Your breath catches in your body--this is true magic.

“It’s time,” the dragon mother says. To her babies and to you. “Jump onto my back, brave one, and I’ll take you away from here. Once you’re on my back, I’ll unlock the door to the sensei’s prison. You must be far away from here when he comes out, you must be out of his reach. He will come for you.”

Running quickly, you jump onto the dragon’s back. The baby dragons peer at you with curiosity, but they don’t make a move to eat you. The troop of dragons makes its way to the edge of the cliff and the dragon roars. “His gate is now open. We will fly low enough, and you will see I tell the truth.”

Sure enough, your sensei comes running from the cavern and teeters on the edge of the cliff. You can’t hear what he’s saying, but his face is red with anger.

“We must go now,” the dragon calls into the wind. “Do you have the relic still?”

“Yes!” You call to her.

“Hold onto it. You will need it if you are to learn the power of the dragon. You will need it if your sensei finds you. For now, we will fly to Dragon Sky, and then decide the rest later.”

“Fly!” You say--the wind whistling around you and the feeling of magic rising within you--and she does.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Costa Rica & Running Away

After a promotion at work, my dad passing away, dealing with some family struggles, figuring out a tumultuous relationship, getting myself neck deep into an interesting, frustrating situation, and pining away for a land other than my own, I flew off to Costa Rica.

It was beautiful--it was everything I wanted. Volcanoes, waterfalls, adventures.

I returned even more exhausted than when I left, but it was a beautiful exhaustion. The one that says, "Yeah, I did ALL of that. I took every opportunity. And it was life-changing."

I'm back now, and I thought going to another country would quell the want to travel, but if anything, the wanderlust has quadrupled.

Have you ever run off in search of something and come back to find, even though the adventure was grand, you were really just running away?

Image was taken at the Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica

Monday, January 30, 2012

On being in a million places at once.

I always post with the best of intentions.

I'm going to post weekly, I tell myself. I'm going to keep up with what's going on around me, I say.

And then two months later, I realize that time has passed, and I haven't made any effort to post. I try to read blogs every couple of weeks, but I never comment or post. Mostly because I'm trying to cram so much into my day that I just don't have the time--or I just don't make the time for it.

Part of it is because my internet life is spread out across so many different networks.

deviantART, first, since this is my job. I love it--I spend 8 hours a day helpdesking there, and I try to keep my journals and submissions recent/relevant.

Twitter, second, since it's the quickest, easiest way for me to send and receive information, pictures, quotes, thoughts.

tumblr, third. The pictures are inspiring, and I often go there to share others stuff on one blog and then share my own on another.

This blog is last. After all of that. After facebook. Mostly because I'm all out of words by the end of the day. And then because I'm intimidated by all of you. All of you amazing readers and writers. Everyone has so many amazing stories, and I don't want to post things that I've recycled from elsewhere.

I'm going to make a concentrated effort to at least comment. Even if this blog looks stale, at least I'll be able to interact with you all.

<3 Thanks for hanging around. You guys are great.

How do you handle/balance social networking? How do you balance the writing you do in your regular life and the writing you do in your blogs and social networking?