ALLIE B BOOKS

Writing, Reading, All Things YA


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I interrupt regularly scheduled Friday Five for breaking news…

About a year ago my good friend, Jolene Perry and I were chatting about collaborations. Jo writes them all the time with a lot of different people. In passing (while we were both lamenting about how busy we were) we said(and I’m paraphrasing here to make us sound awesome… ;) ):

We’d definitely write spec fic together I think

Something sorta scary and other-worldly?

Yes, but still character driven.

Definitely.

Like reality… but twisted…

Not long after I found all these pictures as I was feeding my addiction (stock photography) and was like, this is super cool… THIS is the type of thing Jo and I would write together… so I plopped them all into photoshop put some horrible font on them that said something about fate, titled the image THINGS I SHOULD NOT BE THINKING ABOUT and sent it to her.

An hour later I had Chapter One in my inbox…

We wrote Fated in 10-14 days. It was super fun and neither one of us really thought about it, or expected much to come from it. Just a fun exercise in creativity with a friend.

That project is on the back burner right now.

Beacause, what happens when two people write a HUGE and INTENSE high concept book in ten days with no outline and or intensive world-building?

Plot holes… that’s what…

What we did learn from this book is that we make good writing partners… We value the same things when it comes to storytelling. We have similar styles. We have similar tastes in characters and topics. Most of the time we talk overtop of each other in high pitched excited voices about where we both believe the story should go.

We don’t always agree on details but we both see structure in the same way and we push each other to really understand what we’re doing. What the goal is. World-building is hard, and it makes it a little easier when there is another person to immediately say “That doesn’t make sense.” or “Is that really needed or do you just think it sounds cool?” or “OMG I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE it!”

Both of us are flexible with ideas, we trust each other to write/edit each others chapters, we push back when we don’t agree, and we always always always make sure that the it stays fun! That’s not to say it’s EASY… It’s not easy, but it is fun!

A few months after we wrote our first book I get an email saying “Help! I LOVE this story, but it’s wrong. Something’s wrong. Her voice is wrong.”

I read the book thinking that I’d give her some notes on what I thought, and how I saw the story progessing. Terek was amazing. I could tell that Jolene really knew him. His character, his goals, his personality, his little ticks, like tapping his earlobe when he thinks… that was ALL there. It was true, however, that his counterpart in the story was lacking voice. Her voice really was not as strong as it could be, but I still loved her. The idea of her formed in my head like the magical being she is.

Well, I didn’t expect my girl be so loud, and I knew I’d miss her… so when Jolene asked if I’d just WRITE Rupashi of course I said YES!

ANYWAY

Enough love-festing here and get to the NEWS!

We aren’t the only ones who think this story is sort of neat…

Rachel Stout of the DYSTEL & GODERICH LITERARY AGENCY is taking on our collaboration that we’ve decided to release under the pseudonym AJ BROOKS! I’m super pumped that our magical genie story will at least get a chance in the big world of publishing.

I’m also pumped to say that the agency has signed me on as well, so I can officially say ‘Repped by’ and feel like a badass… ;)

There’s still a long road ahead and zero certainty but the little team of people we’re building around this name makes me very happy and hopeful indeed!

You should totally go check out AJ’s website and head over to Twitter where we’ll be sharing fun and happy things with a magical twist!

beautiful girl with lantern seeking in night. Vintage retouching


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Friday Five: Five reasons I should not be writing this post and writing my book…

seven teens with opened umbrellas in pedestrian overpass. rainbow concept

5. Because I’m at a good part. My wonderfully flawed character just made a really dumb decision and I am PUMPED to see how this plays out for her.

4. Because I have 6 books that need to be drafted by the time summer comes. I don’t tend to write a whole heck of a lot during the summer because P Charm and I like to be outside hiking tall mountains, and crossing treacherous rivers, and battling grizzly bears for blueberries… a.k.a camping… ;)

3. Because it’s tax season, and I have not organized a stitch of my information for the taxman. This makes me cringe. This is my first year filing as an author, and I need to finish this book I’m writing before I do taxes. My impending, and unavoidable, meltdown will derail me for while afterward. I find it hard to bounce back from doing finances and budgets and money plans… I’m stressed just thinking about it. You can tell because I’m rambling…

2. Because I promised myself I wouldn’t go back into EVAN AFTER and do my final round of edits until I was done the first draft of my secret project… I’m over halfway! I’m pretty excited slash extremely nervous to finish EA and put it on query… :|

1. Because… hmmm… I don’t have a number one reason? I guess I could just show you one of my inspiration pics for the secret project and say “Look at these two! How could I not want to write their story!”

Inspiration pic from Pinterest

Inspiration pic from Pinterest


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What’s Up Wednesday First Timer

I’ve seen Jolene do this a couple times now and it seemed fun and I also had no idea what to blog about this week… so YAY problem solved!

Tree70%This is a weekly meme hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, so be sure to go check them out, plus the list of other WUW participants!

I’m very anti-social so this will be good for me I think!

Okay, here goes:

WHAT I’M READING

I’m actually beta reading right now for a woman that contacted me because she read my blog post about beta reading… and usually I don’t say yes to random requests from strangers but for some reason I did this time. Then I found out she LIVES IN MY HOME TOWN! So weird! I always love meeting new Canadian YA writers but she’s from the same town as me!

Anyway, her book is great! But I don’t tend to read much when I’m immersed in first draft writing… I like to write in a bubble with out the fear that what I’m reading is influencing what I’m writing.

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’m working on a secret project right now about a girl who does some stuff and she sort of is in love with her brother’s best friend, but he’s got some stuff going on as well. There’s some adventure, some miscommunication, secrets (of course), a bit of kissing… you know, the usual…

I’m dying to jump back into my YA contemporary EVAN AFTER but need to give it just a little bit more time. My last reader (Jolene) left a crap-ton of notes because it was a fine-tune edit, and those alway intimidate me. Hopefully once my first draft of Secret Project and my beta reading is done I can dedicate some solid time to my lovely Evan (she’s my favourite character I’ve written to date).

WHAT INSPIRES ME RIGHT NOW

I’m a designer for my day job so making pretty pictures with words on it really is what helps to inspire me.

Sometimes I make covers for books that don’t exist like this

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Sometimes I make character boards like this

cover1

Sometimes I just take quotes I like and make them happier like this

Reading

The creative process is one that cleanses me, but sometimes I need a DIFFERENT creative process to unstick me from where ever it may be that I get myself stuck… I’m pretty crafty when it comes to wedging myself in corners…

WHAT ELSE I’VE BEEN UP TO

My dehydrator broke yesterday so my life is almost completely consumed by panic because we need a new one. I love my food dehydrator.

It’s just about Spring Equinox and I’m pumped that the sun is coming back but I’ll be cursing it when it’s light out for 23.5 hours of the day and there’s nothing but mosquitos everywhere… The joys of living in Northern Canada…

I’m doing a 30 fitness challenge and I haven’t done it for the last three days so I’m going to get back into that because I’m starting to feel really guilty.

Running, working, hiking, writing, cooking…

Just finished watching Season Two of Ultimate Survivor Alaska.

Almost done Season Two of FRINGE.

Watched WORLD WAR Z and was reminded why I don’t watch scary movies…

Oh and Divergent comes out so I have a date with a girlfriend to go to that

And the Maze Runner movie trailer was released and I’m not ashamed to say I watch it a lot. I’ve never been so impressed with casting choices for a book to movie. And Thomas is my FAV ever (ever) character I’ve ever read (how many more times can I say ever?) so I was really scared to find out who was cast to play him. Wanna watch it?

Of course you do!

~~~

That was super fun! I’m glad I did this!

Come back Friday for my weekly Friday Five… I have no idea what it’s going to be about yet!


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Friday Five: Random controversial reasons I’m a complete hypocrite…

My top five today is all pertinent to me and ME ONLY. I have a lot of wacky belief systems that I tend to keep off the internet. Mostly because how I live my day to day life is really no ones business (nor do I disillusion myself in thinking anyone cares or should share my beliefs).

BUT…

I thought it might be interesting to give you just a glimpse into my deeper life. The one that makes me a hypocrite but totally okay with it.

5. I love to study religion, but I’m personally an atheist. I find all religions fascinating and fundamentally good. I feel that corrupt people make religion look bad, not the religion itself. In University I took a Religious Studies class and got 98% in the entire course…I devoured everything they put in my path from Aboriginal Traditions to Roman Catholicism to Buddhism. Everything. They TRIED to convince me to switch majors but I was all “you can’t make money with a Religious Studies degree” so I decided to become a writer… *snort*

4. I don’t believe in marriage, but I’m engaged. I love P Charm more than anything in the world, and I’m committed to him and to us and THAT’S what I believe in. In us. Our equal and mutually beneficial love, respect, and commitment to each other. For better or worse, to death do us part, didn’t just come out of nowhere. When my grandfather asked my grandmother to marry him he was dedicating his life to her and asking her to do the same. I’ve already done that. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me how I feel or strengthen my devotion to our life, BUT when I have children I DO want to share their last name. That’s why I want to be married… someday…maybe…

3. I hate cats, but LOVE internet cat gifs and videos. I know, this is a bit of a tone jump but I didn’t want to be all serious the whole time. The internet was invented for cat videos, I’m fairly certain of it, and not a day goes by where I don’t get a chuckle from a cute pic of a cat. But when I see real cats I avoid them. I don’t trust the shifty buggers.

2. I’d definitely self-identify as a raging feminist (see point #4 ;) ) but I LOVE girly movies and love stories and pretty pretty things. It drives me bonkers that there has to be a divide between them. Why CAN’T I be a feminist and like pink high heels? Why can’t I be smart and like to curl my hair? Why can’t I read high brow literary philosophical books and Young Adult romance and like them EQUALLY? Why can’t my top two fave movies of all time be Pride and Prejudice and Memento? Why can’t I stand up for or rally behind domestic abuse initiatives but like to cook dinner every night for my family because it makes me feel good and accomplished and needed?

Because to me being a feminist is being able to carve out my OWN place in the world on my OWN terms. Nothing else.

1. I hate marketing and think it’s completely arbitrary how things become popular but I work in advertising for my day job…


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Wednesday Wish-list: Things I’d like to see more of in YA books

I KNOW that books with my wishes exist, so PLEASE recommend in the comments! I read books almost solely based on recommends these days, so if it has one of these things in it and you love it, then I’ll probably love it too. :)

I also want to mention that books without these things are STILL AWESOME! All facets of life (real and imaginary) need to be portrayed, I just feel like the scales tip to certain trends sometimes, and it’s hard to find books that touch on different things.

Here’s my list of things I like to see in YA books:

Healthy love partnerships

healthylovesmSo often in YA the conflict comes from the Main Character and the Love Interest themselves. I’d love to see some books where the couple work together through an outside conflict. Or where an outside force is causing tension between the couple instead of them keeping secrets from each other, or having Romeo and Juliette syndrome… I’d like to see more balance in power dynamic, I guess is what I’m trying to say.

I believe that teen love (while it often doesn’t last) is very real and it’s not always eyes locking with hot new mystery guy who is suddenly so very interested in our Plain-Jane heroine. It would be nice to see more couples learning to navigate each other and work together through making mistakes and miscommunications, but resolving them in a healthy manner. Talking is really the best way through most problems. Working together is important for staying together.

Friends-to-more love stories

Happy teen coupleIn high school most of my boyfriends were classmates and friends. Or at least boys on the football team who I didn’t know but “saw around” all the time until he had to drive me home from a party because my friend was too drunk and we finally talked. Or the popular older boy who used me, made a fool out of me, and broke my heart. Or the boy I loved (and I mean loooooooved) all through middle school and then we dated in ninth grade he cheated on me and told me right away because he felt so guilty (We broke up. I don’t stick with cheaters… ;) )

Or the boy who was my best friend, and when he told me he was into me we completely fell apart and I lost him for good because I didn’t feel the same way.

My point is that there are lots of types of relationships in high school and they all need to be portrayed honestly, but tend to see the ‘we’ve never seen each other before but you’re super hot’ type more than the quieter, slower building relationships.

I personally ended up with a guy (P Charm) I was sorta friends with in high school. We were mostly friends by association until after high school, where we managed to keep in touch between world travel and higher education. Six years later we decided that the other was actually pretty awesome, and we’d like to see more of each other. And after a LOT of back and forth trips to hang out, an all night conversation turned into a kiss and, voila, here I am.

So you could probably say I’m bias to the friends-to-more stories, but I truly feel like those were more memorable for me than the ‘guy I’d never met but thought was pretty hot’ stories from my past.

Failed love stories

brokensmSometimes we need to see that what we’re fighting for isn’t working, or isn’t worth it. Sometimes love damages us and not in a romantic or beautifuly broken way, but in a real and lasting way that scars us. I know this will break the heart of the HEA lovers but I’d like to see more YA stories where the MC chooses to be alone. Or to break up with their boyfriend/girlfriend WITHOUT having a backup or replacement. Or better yet, where the MC chooses their friends over a boy(girl)…

Positive friendships

Great article about that here.

girls back to backHealthy positive friendships are very hard to find, especially as a young teen. I was lucky to have three of the best girlfriends in school and we’ve been friends since we were 13 but NOT without our share of problems. We’ve had fights and falling-outs and big moves and bad boyfriends and disagreements and tragedies but we love each other. I love them like they’re my sisters, and we LEARNED how to be best friends through a lot of trial and error. Healthy love in any form doesn’t just happen it’s learned.

More grey-area love triangles

Love triangleI believe love is a choice, and like I said above, it’s learned. It’s navigated and explored. You may trip and fall into love, but you don’t stay there without working hard at it. I also believe it is possible to be presented with two (or more) options for love and a CHOICE must be made (because I ALSO believe in monogamy {but I know there are successful open/alternative love stories, too}).

I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, but mostly because they focus on diametrically opposed personalities. A black and white option that is clean and split and separate. The sweet friend or bad-boy. The dominant male or the sensitive soul. The damaged/wild or the secure/safe. The female is often put in a position of loving them both for completely different reasons and the boys usually hate each other until the life of the heroine is in danger and THEN they begrudgingly work together to save her.

I suppose this is okay for fantasy or paranormal because we’re often dealing with two different species, making it more believable for them to be so different. But in Contemporary YA I think it’s possible to do a good, realistic, dilemma-inducing love triangle that has me as the reader not picking a “team” but being just as confused as the heroine. Confused about what her best choice is because I love them both for her… then to REALLY throw a twist in it how about have her choose NEITHER of them… ? Just a thought…

Sibling stories

Two best friendsI have a sister that is five years older than me and we had a ROCKY relationship as young people (and sometimes still do, even though I love her to bits). We are polar opposites, and as a teen I would have LOVED some good family drama/sibling rivalry stories to connect with.

Most sibling stories I find in YA is when one of the sibling dies/runs away/moves out and the other has to navigate life without them. Those are awesome stories, but I’d like to know if there are YA books where the siblings story is the MAIN story.

Stronger family connections

Parents making teenage daughter do chores at homeParents are often MIA in YA and I get it. Lots of families are split. Divorce, death, feuds, etc. can make it easy for parents to be distracted and teens to get away with a lot, but where are the conversations? The consequences? There is a difference between using absent parents as a convenient plot device (which is sometimes just necessary. EX: Paranormal books have SOOOO much going on it is just easier to have dead/absent parents.) But parents can be such and awesome tool for conflict!

I’m writing a book right now where the parents of my MC are very loving and involved. The MC’s goal is MAJORLY influenced be her parents, and the conflict is coming from how she can reason with them and get them to trust her about her said goal. Having involved, present parents is proving to be the hardest conflict I’ve EVER written, but it’s also opening a lot of doors for my MC to make the wrong choices and get herself into a LOT of trouble!

Other things I like to read about:

Nice guys

Nerdy girls

Quirky habits

Interesting hobbies

LGBTQ stories

Interracial couplings

International travel/exchanges

… and a ton of other things :)

What kinds of things would you like to see more of? Or do you recommend me any books that touch on any of my above wishes?


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Friday Five with Jolene Perry: Movie quotes

So, Jolene basically gets my blog all week because she has a new book out!

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YAY! Go buy it, it’s awesome!

But I asked a long time ago for a Friday Five and I was saving it for a special occasion like this one.

Now over to Jo!

seven teens with opened umbrellas in pedestrian overpass. rainbow concept

Five quotes from movies that I love for VERY varied reasons:

 Life 1

“George Bailey, I’ll love you ’til the day I die.”

Mary says this when they’re just little kids, and then they get married and have cute babies and live happily ever after, and in the world where he doesn’t exist there’s just so much sadness, but he finds his way back to her… *sniffs*

~

imgres-1images-1

“I may not be a smart man, Jenny, but I know what love is.”

This, for me, sums up the  movie. Gah! Just thinking about it gets me all teary.

~

 firefly

“Ohh. Shiny. Let’s be bad guys.”

THE WRITING!! I love this show for the writing. When Mike made me watch the first episode of Firefly, I saw the opening and was like – seriously? You’re going to make me watch this? I’ve now seen the whole show countless times and the movie more than I’d care to admit.

~

 pride-prejudice-relationship-lessons

“You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love…I love…I love you.”

*swoons* – I, for one, have NO problem with people re-arranging books to fit better into movie formats. I LOVED this version. LOVED. I wanna make myself every dress that Kiera Knightly wears in this movie (almost) and then run around in my yard wearing them and embarrassing my children.

~

imgres

“Fetch me my slippers.”

I’ve listened to the music from My Fair Lady since forever. I love that idea that he is unapologetically who he is. And he loves her enough to make an ass out of himself, but… There’s something about the idea that love is in the everyday things and not in the huge gestures. He ran to her and then she came for him, and this line shows (to ME) that it’s the everyday he wants with her. All the small things. That’s where the real love is. (I’m aware of how sexist this can be perceived, and I just don’t care :P)

~

rock2

“I’m gonna be just like you, Uncle. Nah… I’m gonna be a real Rock N Rolla.”

Guy Ritchie is a story-telling genius. GENIUS.
I’ve seen these movies soooooo many times. So many.
Snatch
Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
RocknRolla
~ Jolene


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Where Jolene shares her love of haircuts…

I have this weird love of hair cutting scenes.

You know that old Travolta movie, Phenomenon? My fav scene was the haircut scene. I have one in Falling that I wrote under the pen name Mia Josephs, and I have one in this book as well, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Aidan offers to babysit his much younger siblings, and since Kate said they should spend time together, he asks her to help. And she gets gum in her hair…

~

“Okay.” His fingers touch the mass in my hair. “I have no idea what to do about this.”

My chest sinks. “Well, I was thinking of cutting my hair anyway.”

“Want me to cut it out for now?” he asks.

“Well, I definitely don’t want to sleep on gum.” Someone else’s germs are in there. I shudder.

Aidan walks away, so I let myself notice him again while he can’t watch me doing it. He’s always in a plain white T-shirt. Always. It pulls across his chest and shoulders, just a little. But also, when he twists or turns a bit, I can see his sides, his abs, and his waist. The way I feel scares me. It’s not the more-than-friends thing I felt with Shelton. It’s more like want-my-hands-on-your-bare-skin and I can’t believe I’m even thinking this. It’s not like Shelton and I even went that far in our year together. Nothing under clothes. Ever. Okay, maybe a little on my back and waist, but that’s it.

And here I am watching Aidan walk back toward me with a pair of scissors, and part of me wants to reach up under his shirt to feel his stomach.

I have problems.

“Can you do that with one arm?” I ask.

“Do you use two hands on scissors?” He widens his eyes a bit, and I can never tell if he’s joking back, or if I’ve almost gone too far again.

“Uh…no. But I do use one hand to cut, and one to hold.”

“Oh. Right.” He stands to my left side and again, his breath hits my neck sending shivers through me. I’m pathetic. He’s nineteen, waiting for disability, and I’m in high school. So not a good idea.

“I promise to be careful.” He tries to hold in a laugh as he surveys the damage again.

“You know what?” I need to do something with all this pent-up energy. It’s just hair, right? I can be bold. Forward. Cool. Unexpected. “Cut it all off, you know, all the way around.”

“I can’t.” He shakes his head.

“It won’t be pretty, but I can get that fixed later. I’ve always wanted shorter hair. My sister cuts hair. You know, I could do an a-line cut that’s barely above my shoulders?”

“I don’t even know what that is.” He smirks.

“Just cut. Please. All the way around. Do it and get it over with.” I squeeze my eyes tight.

I expect him to protest further, but he doesn’t—just cuts and cuts. The sound of the scissors going through my hair is startling, crunching, smashing, something. It sounds like he’s cutting through hair much thicker than mine, that’s for sure.

“Done.” He stands back. “It might be a little uneven in a spot or two.” He tries to hold in his smile, which is my favorite thing because his cheeks get super dimpled.

I seriously need to stop thinking about him like this.

“I figured you’d put up some kind of protest.” I slowly bring my hands to my head, and run them through my hair, top to bottom. The ends are a mangled mess, but my hair feels thicker, better.

“It’s hair.” He leans his face down to look up at me through his amazing lashes again. “Not an arm.”

“Right. So since your perceptions are warped by your missing arm, my hair gets cut without a second thought?” I raise a brow.

He chuckles. “You wanted it. Besides, once someone evens the edges, it’ll be perfect.”

Great. Only I breathe in and smell some kind of lickable aftershave, and spearmint toothpaste—so, it was kind of worth it to have him so close.

~

“All they have in common is that they’re less than perfect. And all they’re looking for is the perfect distraction.”

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AMAZON / BARNES

I also really love “meeting scenes” – do you have any special kind of “scene” that you love to see? Water? Meeting? First kisses? First…other things?

www.jolenebperry.com


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Friday Five x2: Guest lists by Nyrae Dawn and Stephanie Campbell

seven teens with opened umbrellas in pedestrian overpass. rainbow concept
I asked for some guest posts for my Friday Fives(because we are ALL getting tired of me yammering) and both Stephanie Campbell and Nyrae Dawn happily supplied me with a list of five things they loved.
They just happened to have the same idea but I LOVED that they picked all different books! So I’m combining them and you get:

TEN fab Male POV books!

I picked these because I not only loved the stories, but the voice, oh my GAH, the voice was incredible in each of them:
11861815108725899561Fault-Line-by-Christa-Desir-380x4943798703
1. Winger by Andrew Smith
2. Lovesick by Jake Coburn
3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
4. Fault Line by Christa Desir
5. The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

~ Stephanie

–––––––––

Today I want to share five of my favorite male point of view books. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a huge fan of male POV books. They’re my favorite to read and write. There’s something fun about being in a boy’s head. What girl doesn’t want to know what boys think, right? That being said I’m also pretty picky about the boy POV books that I love. Here are five of my favorites that I think are really authentic.

overopenly straightnormalfreefallvast

1. I Know It’s Over by C.K. Kelly Martin
2. Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
3. Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
4. Freefall by Mindi Scott
5. The Vast Fields Of Ordinary by Nick Burd

If you get a chance, check one of these out. They’re all great reads.

~Nyrae


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For the love of reading: A book for every occasion

Reading

I’ll read anything. I’m not fussy about genre, and I’m very open minded when it comes to trying new stories and authors. I don’t think one kind of book is better than another, and I believe there is a time and a place for everything. Of course there are certain stories/tropes that just know I won’t like but I understand that every story has a reader who will love it…no matter what little ol’ me thinks.

However…

I’m really picky about my time. Meaning, I don’t really have much of it between my job, writing, reading, my family, editing/beta reading, friends, and sleep. I tend to read in the mornings, as I wake up before P Charm most days, which gives me about an hour of reading a day guaranteed. More if I’m really into a book because I’ll make time for it…

I don’t have time to read books I don’t like just because “I can’t not finish it…” like I hear so often. But I also don’t have time to go on a crusade to fry the author who wrote a book I didn’t like… If a book doesn’t capture my attention in the first few chapters, I very simply close it and start another. If a book makes me angry because it contains one of those few things I can’t stand to read about, I very simply close it and start another.

I read for pleasure, not sport. I read for the journey, not the destination. I don’t need a HEA as long as the story works and it well told…

I organize and categorize my books, mostly because I’m a list-person, but partly because it helps me find new books. My categories help me break up heavy books so I don’t drown in depression. They help me pick which books to take with me on road trips and vacations. They help me suggest books to friends because I read across a lot of genres but not everyone does…

I decided that I will share this Type A Personality approach to reading with you and hope that you will share with us how you pick your books.

The Hard Read

The Hard Read books are ones with heavy plots, disturbing content, depressing themes, and any topic that will most likely end with me in tears or completely disgusted with human nature. I tend to read these books either really slowly or really fast. It depends on the intensity of the book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was a Hard Read. I read the first half of the book, set it aside for three weeks, and then finished it. I wanted to understand the book, not just throw myself at it’s feet as it fed on my base emotions (I also had to work the day after I started it, and I didn’t want to give myself a cry induced migraine…). On the other hand, I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson in one sitting, without getting out of bed once, because I had to. Both books were really hard on me and often left me with that empty feeling in my stomach, but I needed to read them differently to gain what I needed to from them.

The Beach Read

Beach Reads are FAST. They are meant to be opened on a hot Saturday morning (Or if you live in the Arctic like me, a cold Saturday morning where you aren’t going any farther than five steps from the wood stove) and finished in one sitting. They are books that leave a smile on my face and restore my faith in hope and friendship and family and love. This doesn’t mean it has to be “fluffy romance”, it means that it has a fast moving plot that demands to be experienced real-time. They are often shorter books if it’s contemporary but often I like to read fantasy and science fiction like this. I like to get completely lost and caught up in the world.

The Mortal Instruments was like this for me. I read the first three books in a weekend, where I just wrapped myself up, drank tea, piled chips and snacks all around me and read like mad for pure enjoyment. I did the same with Harry Potter, Maze Runner, Hunger Games…you get the idea…

The Brain Read

A Brain Read doesn’t mean the book has to be ‘smart’. A lot of my Beach Read books are very smart and deal with lots of interesting world issues in lots of interesting ways. But a Brain Read is one where the language might be a bit more difficult, or the plot is slow and philosophical, and it requires extra thought instead of just sitting back and enjoying the story. It takes me a long time to read these books and I usually read other books at the same time.

I often put Classics under the Brain Book category because of language, culture, and reference. Austen, Bronte, Dickens, and the like. Verse books would be in this category, too, but I’ve never found a book in Verse that I could actually finish… I’m sure there’s one out there…

The Research Read

I read a lot of books/poetry/articles about tons of different topics because I’m usually writing a book about someone who does/says/likes a new-to-me thing. Most of the time it’s non-fiction or biographies, but I did also read the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada’s entire website, front to back and every link in between, for a book I wrote. These readings are great for when I have fifteen minutes of downtime which isn’t enough time to start anything serious. I do research reading while I watch TV(which isn’t often at all), and what I love the most about it is learning. It’s AMAZING how much stuff is out there, and I’m always excited when one of my characters has a strange new hobby I need to look up!

 

Now that I wrote all this up for this post I have NO IDEA how I could ever suffer through a book that doesn’t grab me just to say I finished it…

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” — Henry David Thoreau


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Teaser Tuesday and Sisterly Love

Best friends

One of the most fulfilling kinds of love is the love of a best friend. I love writing friendships just as much as I love writing love stories. Here are some reasons why Best Friends make us better people using some teasers from my WIP!

They will go out of their way to embarrass you

Following Dad is the ever-present Nat, who immediately blows my cover by zeroing in on Nurse Candy. Her thick eyebrows shoot straight up as her wide mouth opens in a gawking, gap-toothed grin. She’s lucky I love her more than I love my own flesh and blood sister.

“Hey Jordans, why is your face so red.” Nat laughs as Nurse Candy looks up briefly before he continues to check all the necessary things that need checking.

They will remind you to chill out

Nat makes a cat-call noise from her corner as my hair falls back around my shoulders. I glare toward her spot across the room, sitting next to Mom. I throw my shirt at her and she catches it, raising her arms in the air like it’s a prize. I read a quote somewhere about not taking life seriously because no one gets out alive, and I think Nat is my daily reminder of that. She balls my shirt up and puts it to her face like I’m some boy-band hottie. I wrinkle my nose.

“Gross, Nat.” I laugh, and she drops my shirt to her lap sticking out her tongue.

They will challenge you

“You’re damn right, I’m right.” Nat bursts my memory bubble. “I want you to kiss that boy tonight, and this time I want to know every detail.” Nat takes a long suck from her straw and goes back to her cell phone with a scowl. I can’t help but laugh that she’s mad at me for not wanting to kiss a stranger.

They will need you

I hug Nat on the cold Boston street as her tears soak my sweater. “Hey, let’s get back to the hotel and we’ll talk there okay?” I guide her along side me not able to think of the last time, or any time, I have been the one picking up the pieces of Nat. Theatrics are her thing, so I’m used to drama, but this is real. Something has hurt her, and I feel like it happened in the last half hour. No. I know it happened in the last half hour.

They will be there for you

Nat had sat next to me silently while I cried, braiding my hair over and over until I was completely empty. Until I was gutted of all my strength, and all I could do was stare like a zombie at a small tear in the knee of her jeans.

No matter what

But the biggest peice of all knows that I will gladly do whatever she needs me to do. Just like she has always done for me. I will sit and braid her hair while she cries if that’s what she needs me to do.

“You know I’m not going anywhere, Evan,” she said after my first long hospital stay and I tried to make her give up on being my friend. She had taken up knitting while the doctors prodded me, but every day after school she would come with my homework, help me through it, and then sit at the end of my bed and knit until they made her go home. Every. Day.

“You’re my best friend,” she had said as if it were obvious. “Plus if you don’t die in here do you know how many favors you’re going to owe me?” She winked and I laughed until I coughed.

“A billion?”

“Give or take a few…”

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