Month: October 2015

Happy Halloween 2015!

Posted October 31, 2015 by Jana in Personal / 3 Comments


Happy Halloween to you! I hope you have tons of fun dressing up, eating candy, and spending time with friends and family! I’m going to be watching a scary movie tonight (although, scary for me is not the usual scary… I might be able to handle Gaslight or Midnight Lace with Doris Day. Maybe a Munsters marathon?)

What’s your favorite Halloween candy? Do you have any plans for tonight?

Creatures of the Night Book Tag

Posted October 26, 2015 by Jana in Book Tag / 3 Comments

Happy Halloween week!!! Katytastic came up with a pretty fun book tag last year that I thought I would resurrect on this cold and blustery day. The jist is simple. Come up with a book that matches the creature! If you decide to do this tag, post a link in the comments and I’ll come visit!

1. Vampire
Edward Cullen from The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. Sorry, but Edward will always be my favorite vampire… Although Michael Tyler from Nocturne by Syrie James is basically tied for first. BOY is her a manly vampire.

2. Werewolf
Sam Roth from The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater. He’s pretty swoony and oh, so sweet.

3. Zombie
I actually have never read a zombie book before. Well wait. I take that back. I tried to read The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, but couldn’t finish it because it was DISGUSTING. I’m intrigued by The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Bryan, though, so this goes here. Any zombie book recommendations?

4. Ghost
I’m stretching a little on this one. Clio from Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney lives in a painting, and falls in love with an art-loving boy named Julien.

5. Witch/Warlock/Spellcaster
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling! Really.

6. Fairy/Fae
Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Hands down. He’s a perfect blend of loyalty, protectiveness, chivalry, bravery, nobility, angst, and fierceness. Oh, and the mask he wears that has been permanently affixed to his face by magic makes him super mysterious. I can just picture his piercing eyes. He gets me all fluttery in my chest.

7. Demon
I love the small little gargoyle demon named Xemerius from the Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier. He is very excited that someone can finally see and hear him after so many years of being invisible. He is quite funny, and adds a lot to the story. I looked forward to having him show up.

8. Angel
Akiva from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. He’s strong and mysterious and beautiful.

9. Alien
Evan Walker from The 5th Wave. He is mysterious and kind and caring. He’s a very dynamic character, and he’s constantly being torn in two directions.

10. Superpowered human
Alina from The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. I mean really. She can summon the power of the sun. Is it possible to ever have a more kick-a character than Alina? Probably not. She’s positively magical.

NaNo Prep: A Shameless Excess of Plotting by Amy Bai | Author Guest Post

Posted October 23, 2015 by Jana in Guest Post / 3 Comments

Ah, it’s that time of year again: when frost coats your windshield in the morning, the trees all get naked, kiddies get dressed up and demand candy from their neighbors… and writers everywhere go batshiz crazy trying to get in 1,666.7 words per day come hell, high water, or the Blue Screen of Death.

On November 1st we’re all chipper and ready to go: Twitter is crowded with motivational quotes and READY-SETs. A few weeks later those who’ve met their goals are justifiably crowing– and the rest of us are, well, still determined, and cancelling dinner-dates catch up. By the end of the month there will be an amazing number of sick days taken, sleepless nights endured, meals skipped, wine bottles emptied, social engagements forgotten, keyboards broken, and (no doubt) carpal tunnel cases reported. I once made it to 42K in week three. I also drove to the grocery store in my fluffy pajamas and a pair of mortifyingly gross slippers. Thank god for friends who stop you at the automatic doors, or I would probably have wandered the aisles filling my cart with nothing but pistachios and Riesling and tried to pay with my driver’s license.

I admit it: I’ve never made it to 50K in a month–or, at least, not during November. I am determined to pull it off this time, and not just because I’ve got deadlines to meet. (Though I cannot deny, those are pretty motivating.) My evil plan to make this happen is to bury myself in such an elaborate map of my novel that I have no plausible excuse for a lack of forward momentum. It’s worked for me before. So for this year’s attempt, I’ve beefed up my usual level of crazy. There are plenty of great plotting methods out there, from the Snowflake to the Beat Sheet to the Tent Poles, and I’ve tried quite a few of them, with varying degrees of success (and failure). After all this experimenting I’ve come up with my own, which you can see below. Fair warning: it’s weird and numbers-oriented, kind of like me. If you don’t like numbers, or Excel, or weirdness, feel free to run away screaming and have yourself a mai tai now. J

Step 1: I write a back jacket blurb. This is basically a three paragraph hooky-bit that outlines your story in the most general way possible. I do this only because it helps me pin down the main conflict right away–not because I have any hope that I’ll be using it later on.

Step 2: I write an event sheet— a list of events that have to happen in the story. I do this in Excel. Each event gets no more than a few sentences of description. I list the projected number of scenes, the character each event will have for its focus, the point of view character(s) and each character participating. I also give each event a title, based on the Save The Cat beats of a film script. I find that as I write these out, they build pretty naturally on each other, and soon I have what looks like a fairly coherent plot: a thing which never fails to pleasantly surprise me.


Step 3: I assign each event two numbers: one for its relation to the story’s plot arc, and one for its relation to the story’s emotional arc. The plot arc gets numbers from 1-15, with 1 being basically two people having a relaxed convo over a cuppa, and 15 being crazy-intense-oh-hey-this-might-be-the-climax. The emotional arc gets numbers from -10 to 10, with -10 being the lowest point, the dark night of the soul, as it were, and 10 being ultimate triumph, a victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. Both the negatives and the positives are intense in different ways; the closer we get to 0, the less intense the scene is.

Have you run away yet? No? Oh good!

Because Step 4 is making line graphs of your events. This is, admittedly, a pretty subjective process –your assignment of numbers before you write a scene and after you write it may be completely different; your idea of a scene’s intensity may wind up being really different from what your readers think of it. But for me, charting the events helps me see the general shape of my story: it gives me a sort of a visual check that can suggest places where things will be too slow, or too piled-up.


I compare my charts to the classic story mountain diagram –not necessarily because I think all stories should look like this (I don’t), but because I find it’s a nice barometer for whether my story is “plotty” enough. I know that as a writer I tend to focus more on character development than on action, sometimes to the detriment of the plot. This helps me see where I might be doing that.

Lastly, I plug all of this into Scrivener with notes and maps and research and wordcount targets, and whee, it’s off to the races.

So… there you have it. This may be the kind of thing that only works for a handful of people, I don’t know– but for me, it’s detailed enough to keep my very disorganized mind on track, and it focuses on the things that I find important in a story. It reminds me, when I get lost (which happens much more often than I’d like), what I thought was important in my story.

Good luck, fellow NaNo-ers! May the odds, or at least the wordcounts, be ever in your favor.


Amy Bai is the author of SWORD, a YA fantasy novel and the first of a series: she lives in Maine with her husband and two crazy-fluffy dogs. You can find her muttering about writing and books and other things on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook.

Are any of you participating in NaNo next month? Need a cheerleader? How are you preparing?

Top Ten Wishes I’d Ask The Book Genie To Grant Me

Posted October 19, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 2 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

Today we’re talking all about book wishes. What we’d ask a book genie for regarding anything bookish in life.

1. I want an easy way to organize books into Kindle collections like you can organize songs into playlists on iTunes. My Kindle Keyboard requires me to click on a book, scroll to collections, add it to a few, exit, click on a new book, etc. I just want to get on my computer and drag and drop books into organized collections and then sync it. Please.

2. Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer needs to be written because I said so. I couldn’t care less about this newest Edythe and Beau crap. Give me the book you told me about years ago.

3. A never-ending bookshelf. Like, one bookshelf that goes on and on forever but does not take up more space than one normal bookshelf (maybe it’s really deep?). Or maybe the bookshelf has a door on it that Narnia-style opens up into a magical hidden library that takes up no space because I have no space. Basically, I’m running out of room and this genie needs to fix that for me.

4. I want a library that has an amazing self-cleaning, de-germing technology so that books are not germy cesspools. I know. I’m a librarian with a germ phobia. That’s like being a surgeon with a blood phobia.

5. I want books to be magically created just because I want them. Like, I’d love a Christmas romance that takes place in Venice and is sweet and swoony. I have not found one yet, so basically this genie needs to give me a book-writing machine that can read my mind and give me the books I want, cute covers and all.

6. I want my book genie to give me movie versions of the pictures I generate in my head while I read. Like… I’d love to re-visit some of my favorite books, but in movie form, and I want those adaptations to be MY way. My genie can translate my imagination and put it on the big screen. Can yours?

7. I want my book genie to transport all my favorite authors, regardless of whether or not they are currently living, and help me plan the best dinner party and book signing for them.

8. My book genie can make me the perfect man by combining all the best parts of my book boyfriends together into one person who will love me unconditionally forever.

9. Basically, I want my favorite authors to never quit writing. Ever.

10. My book genie will find me a friend who has the exact same taste in books as I do so that we can read and flail and cry and swoon and discuss books together all the time.

What do you think of my wishes? Do you want some of these things, too? Link me to your lists, and I’ll come visit!

Top Ten Book Series I Want to Quit

Posted October 6, 2015 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 12 Comments


Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at the other blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish.

I don’t see quitting as a bad thing. I look at it more like I’m cleaning up my life and getting rid of things that do not bring me joy and happiness. I’ve got a bunch of series on my shelf that I’m just not motivated to finish. Perhaps I read a spoiler and I’m not ok with the direction the series is going in. Perhaps I’m not a fan of that genre anymore. Perhaps it has been too long since I read the first book and I’m not interested in trying to remember. Or maybe I just didn’t love the first book or the second book enough. Regardless of the reason, it’s fine to quit. And I hope you feel that same! Why waste time reading books w’re not interested in? The following series are ones I don’t plan to finish. It’s nothing personal. I’m sure they are great. They just aren’t for me anymore.

1. Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth
I read and really enjoyed Divergent, but I read some spoilers and bad reviews for the last two books and decided they were not worth my time.

2. Shadowlands trilogy by Kate Brian
I read Shadowlands, and loved it until the very end. And then I was mad. lol.

3. Broken Hearts & Revenge trilogy by Katie Finn
I  pretty much hated  Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend, much to my dismay.

4. Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally
Stealing Parker was just not good in my mind. I did not like Parker, among other things.

5. Wither trilogy by Lauren DeStefano (I read Wither)
I read Wither back before I was a blogger, but I remember being very depressed by the entire story and not wanting to continue.

6. Hush, Hush trilogy by Becca Fitzpatrick
Hush, Hush was kind of a train wreck for me. Again, I read this book before I became a blogger, so I have no record of my thoughts. I do know I don’t like fallen angel books, though.

7. Black City trilogy by Elizabeth Richards
Black City might just be the book I hate more than any other book. It was gory, dark, and contained graphic violence/murder against a cat. I boycott authors who do this. I can still cry about this scene. It was just. Not. Necessary.

8. Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry
read and enjoyed Pushing the Limits, but I DNFed Dare You To. I just wasn’t a fan.

9. Flirting in Italian trilogy by Lauren Henderson (I read Flirting in Italian)
Flirting in Italian was one of my biggest disappointments ever.

10. Wings series by Aprilynne Pike
I actually really like this series. It’s just been too long since I read the first three books that I don’t remember enough to read the last book. I’m pretty ok with this.

11. The Partials Sequence by Dan Wells
I liked Partials a lot, but heard that violence against a cat happens in the next book… So NOPE. Animal violence is just not ok, and nobody will ever convince me otherwise. Just nope.

Ok, lay it on me. I know I’m going to get some grief on a few of these. Feel free to try and convince me to change my mind!

Interview with Jess from Literary, etc. | Blog Friends Forever Blog Hop (+ Giveaways)

Posted October 3, 2015 by Jana in Giveaway / 26 Comments

How fun is this Blog Friends Forever Hop!? I’m so excited to be a part of it! Thanks so much to Erin, Jaime, Kassiah, and Meg for hosting! Visit our lovely hosts at Swoony Boys Pocast and Fiction Fare. Today I’m interviewing Jess from Literary, etc.! I was her secret sister last round, and we have become the best of friends. I thought it would be fun to feature her for my stop!

1. Tell us a little about your blog!
Back in 2012, I met a few readers who were all into a book series (and no it wasn’t Fifty Shades. LOL) and it was a fun talking to them about books. A few of us decided to create a book blog and I was a blogger there for about 4 months. I left due to differences in direction and I really liked blogging so I decided to go on my own.

As for the name Literary, etc.? Oh dear…I struggled with a name after I left the previous blog (the name they are using, I came up with it). I went through a series of names before settling on Literary, etc. because I wanted the blog to be a little about everything associated with books. Whether it is a recipe appearing in a book or a painting or even an adaptation of a book, I wanted a place that went a little further into a book.

December 19th will mark 3 years blogging at Lit, etc. This past year I haven’t blogged as much as I would have liked to, but every blogger goes through their ups and downs. I’m starting to move away from ARCs and read what I want to. I have a large TBR pile that I’d really like to tackle.

2. What is your proudest blogging moment?
Proudest blogging moment? Finding myself quoted in a book five months after I’d been blogging on my own. I picked up a copy of Jessica Lemmon’s Hard to Handle (the second in her Love in the Balance series) and there I was quoted. In fact, if you pick up a few of Lemmon’s books, that quote is still there for Tempting the Billionaire along with the old url!

3. What’s your favorite book EVER? Why?
My fall back response is Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind because I adore the film and am collector of all things GWTW. Plus the film is special to me because I first saw it with my grandma (my father’s mother) and she loved the film! She often said it was her favorite film and it’s something we shared. She passed away last December and GWTW will be forever tied to her.

In reality, I love Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera (so different from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that most of us know) and it’s a pity that more people haven’t read the book. It’s a detective type novel where Leroux was inspired by real life events and you’re on this journey to find out who Erik really is. There’s a torture chamber, unrequited love, and redemption.

Kid me would say Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins! I adored that book! I checked it out of the library every chance I could and would rent the movie often. Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the book. It’s about a young girl stranded on an island off the coast of California where her brother dies. She has to learn how to hunt and basically support herself. She tamed a dog that she names Rontu.

4. Take this quiz: What’s your reading personality? Do you agree with the result?
I got: The Serial Reader

You may read a lot or a little, but either way you’re a publisher’s dream, because once you discover a favorite writer you stick with him/her through thick and thin and eagerly await the next in the series; but even you need to discover some new blood from time to time!

Oooh, that’s pretty spot on! I do have my favorites and have been known to go back to read an author’s entire backlist once I discover them. Lately, I find myself not clamoring to buy book x in series y as fast as I used to. I now tend to wait and sometimes I worry if I’m losing interest.

5. What is your ideal reading situation? 
Ideal reading situation is a large comfy chair with a blanket next to window where it’s probably raining, snowing, or just plain cold. A large cup of hot chocolate or tea is on the table next to me where I get lost in the world I’m reading. Hopefully I’m being transported to Regency / Victorian England where I can help solve a mystery or am falling in love with a mysterious Duke! Failing all that, my bed is pretty ideal for reading where I just turn off the lights and read in the dark.

6. Say you won an all-expense paid night out with your favorite author. Who would it be, and what would you two do?
All expense paid night out with my fave author? Oh dear…I’m going to say Charles Finch. We’d go to England and would traipse around London where we could walk in the footsteps of his gentleman detective, Charles Lenox. Afterwards we could sit in a pub and have a few pints talking about anything while I enjoy a good steak and ale pie with a side of mashed potatoes and a serving of peas (can you tell I’m what I’m craving? LOL).

7. What are some of your hobbies outside of reading?
Lately, I’ve found a passion for cooking. I’ve always enjoyed it, but I find myself recording shows off the Food Network. I love Ree Drummond (aka the Pioneer Woman) and sometimes I disagree with the way she makes something! For example, she did a recipe for red enchiladas and used powdered red chile (nothing wrong with that), but then included a can of tomato sauce. I was shouting “no” at the television. Red chile pods are so easy to use and I wished she had used that. I only use a can of tomato sauce when the chile sauce is extremely hot to tone down the heat. Her recipe wasn’t using it for that and she also used bell peppers (ewww, no). Or this one time she made green chile enchiladas (what’s with me and enchiladas?), and used a can of enchilada sauce. Again, it’s easy to find canned green chile and using a can of cream of mushroom would have produced a much tastier enchilada. Just simply use a blender and blend the green chile and cream of mushroom to make the sauce.

I also collect postcards. I love to receive them and go to antique shops to see if they have any used postcards. I have someone’s entire trip to Europe in 1914 (before World War 1), written on the back of postcards. Every place they went to, they’d write what they saw. I have no idea who they are, but it’s pretty neat to see the world at that time through their eyes.

8. What would you say is your best characteristic/personality trait?
I think my best characteristic is smile and friendliness. At work, the Veterans always mention my smile and how they love it. Historical romance author, Celeste Bradley once told me my smile was like an angel’s (and I have no idea what she means! I mean, have you seen the smiles on some of those creepy angel statues?).

9. What’s your favorite dessert? Snack food? Drink?
Favorite dessert is cheesecake or key lime pie and I admit, it’s because of the graham cracker crust! Snack food depends on what I’m doing. If I’m taking classes, I love sunflower seeds! In general it’s popcorn (popcorn with slices of cheddar has been my dinner more often than I care to count). As for drink-I can’t say no to a good scotch (I wrote my entire master’s thesis drinking it! LOL). In general, I love a good iced tea.

10. I know you enjoy traveling. What’s been your favorite destination, and where do you hope to go in the future?
My favorite place to date was the Isle of Skye in Scotland! Portree is the capital and it was so quaint! I didn’t spend much time there, but did check out a bakery and I still dream of the baked goods! Glencoe in the Highlands was hauntingly beautiful. In 1692 Clan MacDonald was massacred by members of Clan Campbell on behalf of William III because the MacDonald’s didn’t pledge their support to William. I still can’t find the words to describe what it felt like being in the glen where this horrible event took place.

As for future travel, I’m actually in the midst of planning a trip to Europe with one of my besties! We keep adding where we’d like to go and we need to cut back because I doubt work will let me take off for that long of a time period! One can dream right? I do hope to be back in Scotland next Christmas / New Year’s and say hello to my dear Glasgow (I miss her so much!). In late February, I’ll be in Denver and maybe Dallas in April. I know BEA is in Chicago this year, not sure if I can make that happen, but we’ll see!

Note from Jana: Jess, I really want to go on your Europe trip! I miss it!

In the spirit of blog love, I’ve got some giveaways for you! The first one is a hop wide giveaway, which will have three winners. The second one is hosted by me, and it’s for a book off your wish list! I did this once before, and it was so much fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit the other blogs who are posting with me today!

Mostly YA Lit
Books in My Suitcase