NaNoWriMo 2014: Actual Writing Advice from Actual Authors!

Hello everyone!

I am so so so so SO excited to be sharing in this post today.

I talk about writing and writing advice a lot when it comes to the blog and my aspiring career as a writer. I am lucky enough that I get to interact with authors on a daily basis, side effects whether over the internet or in person, buy more about and I’ve met SO many inspiring ones that have given me such amazing advice. The advice and guidance that I’ve received over the past two years as whatanerdgirlsays has been so helpful in my journey to becoming a better writer.

Now, I have a goal of 45K words for NaNoWriMo but my biggest goal is to really nail down my character and her development over the course of the story. Evie is my main character and Untitled (it will have a title one day, I promise…) is her story. Its her story in the past, when she’s 15 years old, and its her story in the present, at 19 years old. Both important, and it takes a lot of development. She’s going to develop in both stories and its a little overwhelming but I believe in her and my story.

So when I started planning my NaNoWriMo schedule on the blog, I knew that I wanted a post about writing and writing advice and I wanted to reach out to the authors that I’ve met over the past two years and ask for their assistance in creating and developing characters.

I hope you enjoy. Every single piece of advice of below is unique to this post. Each author was contacted individually and responded individually. There’s seriously awesome, quality advice down there, and I am so grateful for each and every single one of these authors for participating and helping out!

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Jessica Brody, author of The Unremembered Trilogy

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When first fleshing out a new main character, I like to start by asking myself one question: What motivates this person. Is it power? Ambition? Love? Idealism? Reason? This helps me begin to narrow down who this person is and how they think/respond to situations. Someone who is motivated by power is going to react very differently in a crisis than someone who is motivated by feeling loved. The second question I ask myself is “What does this character want?” And I don’t mean after the book has started. What do they want BEFORE the first page even begins. It always needs to be something tangible and concrete. Like to win a sports championship. To make it onto a team. To graduate valedictorian. This immediately focuses the story around a central goal. It gives the story direction and purpose before the plot has even begun. When your character’s goals are clear, the reader is more likely to come along for the ride.

Elana K. Arnold, author of the Sacred duology and Burning

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When I was a younger writer, I used to disbelieve it when I’d hear people talk about their characters surprising them, their characters heading off in directions they hadn’t planned. Impossible, I’d think. Your characters ARE YOU. They can’t disobey you… they aren’t REAL. For me, characters were like dolls that I bounced around from situation to situation.

I think that’s why I had a hard time completing a project, or even falling deeply in love with one. There was no RISK if I walked away from a story, no real LOSS. Honestly, I don’t know what changed. I think I got older. (Actually, I know I got older.) But over time, I started to become surprised when a plotted-out scene or chapter took a turn away from my outline. Pleasantly surprised.

With INFANDOUS, which will be published in March 2015, plot took a backseat to following around Sephora Golding, my main character, and seeing what she would do. Try this–give your character a secret, and then see where it takes you.

Livia Blackburne, author of Midnight Thief

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I’ve found it useful to have all my characters tell their life story and narrate the events of the novel itself in their own voice, with their own commentary.

Katherine Ewell, author of Dear Killer

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My main tip in character development is this: make your main character at least a little bit unlikeable. However, no matter how unlikeable said main character is, your reader has to root for them anyway. The easiest way to make a reader like an unlikeable character is to show said character’s weakness and humanity right off the bat: their fears, their likes, their dislikes, what makes them cry, what comforts them, etc. And you can go pretty far with how unlikeable they are at the surface level, take it from someone who knows! Some of the most vivid, fun characters out there are severely messed up. (Take a look at Game of Thrones for tons of great examples.) I feel as if the worst thing you could do in character creation is make a character that has no flaws, or has too few flaws: it is in their flaws that characters and their stories come alive.

Cora Carmack, author of the Losing It series and Rusk University series 

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When it comes to characterization, I rely pretty heavily on the idea that my main character’s desire should shape the plot, instead of the plot shaping my main character. I don’t want my MC to be just a cog in the bigger mechanism of the story. I want them being the one *making* the machine move, rather than just being a component of it. When I was studying theatre in college, we took a lot of time talking about our character’s objectives and motivations – asking “What does this character want? How will they get it?” and things like that – and that has continued to inform the way I shape my characters.

Tonya Kuper, author of Anomaly

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Every character, especially the main character, has to have a GMC – Goal, Motivation, & Conflict – in relation to the plot. I usually have a pretty good picture of my characters before I start plotting, but after the GMC is decided, I know what matters to them, which, in my mind, is the most important thing to know about her main character.

Victoria Scott, author of Fire and Flood and The Collector

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I often use friends and family members when creating characters. I note people’s real life quirks and incorporate them into my fictional world. For example, my husband points to what he wants on a menu when ordering. It doesn’t matter if it’s a difficult-to-pronounce dish, or french fires…that man is holding up the menu for the waitress to see, and pointing to his selection. As if she needs to see the item to understand. No matter how many times I call this to his attention, he still does it. That quirk will probably show up in one of my characters to make them more memorable. My advice is to watch the people around you, and keep notes on your phone.

Sara Benincasa, author of Great

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You have to love your main character. Even if you hate your main character sometimes, you have to love her. Because if you don’t love her, you won’t want to spend the time it takes to churn out 50,000 or more words centered around her. You don’t need to love her choices. You don’t need to love her attitude. But you do need to love her, somehow, in some corner of your soul

Catherine Linka, author of A Girl Called Fearless

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Getting a handle on a character can be pretty haphazard, because we might start out not really knowing them at all. One thing that helps me is finding an object that captures my character. I knew Yates wore tee shirts with quotes, but when I found Thoreau’s quote– “Let your life be the counter friction to stop the machine”–it hit me that was exactly what Yates believed and who he was at heart. In the sequel to A Girl Called Fearless, it was a scary religious tattoo that nailed the character of a new antagonist and suggested his unbalanced righteousness.

CJ Redwine, author of the Defiance trilogy

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If YOU aren’t connected to your characters, no one else will be connected either. Characters aren’t scenery to populate your world. This includes secondary characters. Characters aren’t pawns to use in playing out your conflict. Characters CREATE conflict. Connection takes time and effort, just like it does in real life. Take the time to get to know your characters on an intimate level. Find out what their deepest fear is, what they most regret, what they truly want more than anything, and the secret they hope no one discovers.

Lauren Oliver, author of the Delirium Trilogy, Before I Fall and Panic

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Do some work to understand what your character wants, and what your character needs, and how these might be different. Think about your character’s formative memories. How does he/she react under pressure? When frightened? What does she like to do for fun? What are her nervous habits? Where does she go to recharge? You have to know your character the way you know your best friend.

Gretchen McNeil, author of Ten, Possess, 3:59 and Get Even

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I start with the plot, actually, and the role of my main character in the story. What part does she need to play? What type of person does she need to be so that all of her choices are realistically motivated? Her personality is shaped by the plot, and once I know the core of that, I can begin to layer in the idiosyncracies of character: how she dresses, what she likes to eat, what songs on Pandora make her want to sing along or change the channel, and how she feels about everyone around her. Voila! Character!

Lindsay Cummings, author of The Murder Complex

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Characters are my favorite part of a book. Everyone is different…but I always start with a character, and build my world around him/her. For me, the best way to develop my characters and get to know them is to interview them–as if they were real people. I find that, even the silliest questions will give you a glimpse into who each character is, and what motivates them.

Bethany Hagen, author of Landry Park

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One of my favorite tricks for developing a character is to make a character sheet before I get started. I use these sheets to help me keep track of a character’s physical attributes (and I might even attach a picture of an actor or model to help me visualize the character.) And I also use these sheets to develop a character’s personality traits: their likes and dislikes, their hopes and dreams, their past mistakes. Not only is it a useful tool for conceiving of a character, but it makes a handy reference to come back to during the drafting process.

Beth Revis, author of the Across the Universe trilogy and The Body Electric

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When coming up with your main character, don’t be afraid to go into your own personality to find traits. He or she doesn’t need to be an exact replica of you, but if you have a strong emotion—a fear, a desire, a love or hate—build off that emotion to influence your characters. I was never stuck on a space ship alone, but I made Amy of Across the Universe feel alone the same way I felt alone when I had to go to college, 200 miles from home, with no one I knew near me. I never had my memories messed with like Ella in The Body Electric, but I have had relatives who were affected by Alzheimer’s Disease. Build on these real feelings you have to create realistic characters.

Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust

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I just let my characters go, be real people within the world that I built and let them react naturally, however they want. To me, this is the most organic way of building a “real” fake person.

Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles

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After I’ve determined the basics of who my protagonist is (name, age, gender, job, etc.), I like to ask myself two important questions. 1: What does this character want? Giving them a goal from page one will immediately give your story somewhere to go. (Although it’s normal for that goal or desire to change over the course of the story.) And 2: What is this character afraid of? Whatever they’re most afraid of is something that they should have to face (possibly multiple times), and will therefore give them somewhere to grow.

Tamora Pierce, author of The Song of Lioness, The Immortals, and the Protector of the Small quartets and more

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The way I write a character is–usually–to start with a person I know or admire (actor, musician, professional wrestler, the character played by an actor). The look has to grab me for the vague outline of the character I need–teacher/mentor, law enforcement in a very loose era, street kid, Then I go through my baby name books till I find the right name. Once I have the right name and the right look, I generally know the character: intellectual, absent-minded, can be very sexy when he wants to be, but easily distractible, and very dangerous when crossed–that was one. Then I needed the slacker daughter of two famous over-achievers who ended up as a spy in a foreign country. I looked through my files of pictures of girls until I had three or four I thought interesting, then I waited for one to grow on me–the one with her head tipped to the side and the knowing smile. I knew she was a smart-alec, really good at flirting and dancing and being silly while taking in everything around her, a daddy’s girl who lived to make mom nuts, but underneath she needs something to fight for.

Sarah Skilton, author of High and Dry and Bruised

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In my latest book High & Dry, a Young Adult novel written in the style of a hardboiled detective mystery, Palm Valley high school students “traffic in labels.” As a result, it’s very difficult for my main character, Charlie, to break free from his perceived identity, that of a varsity soccer star with a reputation for playing rough. The problem is, Charlie’s identity is a front he projects to the world in order to survive. I needed to show both sides of his personality: that of a tough guy jock accepted by his peers, and that of a heart-broken sci-fi nerd–a trait he keeps hidden. For example, Charlie tries to win back his ex-girlfriend, Ellie, by suggesting they both take Ellie’s little brother to a sci-fi movie. In this way, he gets to show Ellie he’s a “nice guy” while also indulging his own secret hope of seeing the movie. When constructing a main character, ask yourself, “Who is this person really, and who does he/she pretend to be?” The answers may surprise you!

Cinda Williams Chima, author of The Heir Chronicles and the Seven Realms series

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After publishing nine books and writing several more, I still haven’t settled on the best way to develop character. Everything goes much more smoothly if I know the character very well from the beginning. And yet, that process of filling out a character questionnaire or deciding what he has in his pockets or dresser drawer doesn’t really work for me.

With the Seven Realms series, I knew the main characters, Han Alister, Raisa ana’Marrianna, and Micah sul’Bayar very well, because I had already written extensively about them as adults. So all I had to do was think about what they would have been like at sixteen and seventeen. Because I had their characters well in hand, story flowed more or less effortlessly.

But writing three hundred thousand words about a character before you get started on a novel isn’t really efficient, is it? So mostly, I get to know characters in the same way as we get to know people in real life–by spending time with them. In other words, I get to know them while writing my first draft. And once I decide who they are, in revision, I go back and strengthen those elements of character and make them more consistent all the way along.

That’s my process—but it may not be yours. There is more than one way to craft characters and craft story. One of the first jobs a writer must do is find out what works for them.

Crystal Perkins, author of The Griffin Brothers series

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I try to have a cover idea when I start writing. When I look at the girl and guy-I write in dual POV-I think of how they’ll speak and act. It’s nice to have something, even just a picture to look at. Then when I think of them in my head, they already have a distinct personality.

Ann Stampler, author of Where It Began and Afterparty

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You know all those cheesy drama-class moments in B movies where the teacher starts panting that the kids need to beeeeee the wind in the trees (or whatever)?  That actually has a lot in common with the way I develop main characters : method writing.  I try to see the story through the eyes of the character in a very literal way.  While I’m writing, I don’t observe the character from the outside, but I try to see what she sees.  I think this helps me to stay with the character’s feelings and emotional reactions, and to remain in her point of view.

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Tuesday Top Ten-Most Anticipated Fall Releases

Can I just say…every single time that I do a Tuesday Top Ten where I narrow down the books that I’m most excited for (insert season), check I have the hardest time doing it? I think the hardest thing is that I look up the list of YA books coming out in the next three months and I’m like “OHMYGOD, approved that’s coming out? Oh and that too? Ohmygod, I’m going to go so broke.”

That’s pretty much the conversation that occurs in my head. So naturally its hard for me to narrow it down to just ten books that I’m most excited about. I’m literally addicted to buying books. I can never stop reading.

But alas, I was able to do so, with one minor cheating moment, while I included an honorable mention. These eleven books are all hitting bookstores between now (some of them today!) and the month of November.

I recommend all of them, even the ones I haven’t read yet because I just know they are going to be fabulous and you all MUST add them to your to-be-read list.

Here we go!

Honorable Mention: Anomaly by Tonya Kuper

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What if the world isn’t what we think? What if reality is really only an illusion? What if you were one of the few who could control it?

Yeah, Josie Harper didn’t believe it, either, until strange things started happening. When this hot guy tried to kidnap her, shouting about ultimate observers and pushing and consortiums hell-bent on controlling the world… Well, that’s when things got real. Now Josie’s got it bad for a boy who weakens her every time he’s near and a world of enemies on her tail who want to control her gift, so yeah, she’s going to need more than just her wits if she hopes to survive much longer.

Einstein never saw this coming…

I met Tonya very very very briefly at the ALA conference back in July. I was in line for…Holly Black, I believe, and I passed by the Entangled booth and Tonya was just finishing up her signing. She was so sweet and obviously passionate about her debut novel that she immediately started pitching it to all of us in line. I loved that. As a girl who is working hard on her novel, and sending out queries, I could seriously appreciate that. I took some bookmarks and pens advertising her books and since then have become friends with her on FB and IG. I adore her and I am honestly SO SO SO excited for her debut novel. Entangled knows their way around good books so I have every faith that Tonya is just going to blow my mind!

Release Date: November 4th, 2014

10. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan

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Who will be the sacrifice?

Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.

The first time I read Unspoken, and then Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan, I was just blown away. These books are…dramatic and full of action and full of romance and they’re dark and sexy and funny and they’re everything I would have wanted in a book. I hadn’t been massively impressed with her before this but these books sold me on her. I’ll marry her, wine her, dine her, whatever, because she gave me this absolutely incredible series. I’m counting down the days to get my hands on this finale because I’m just DYING to find out what happens next!

Release Date: September 23rd, 2014

9. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

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This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.

Okay, I admit it. I’ve already read this. In fact, I read this in my hotel room in Vegas when I was there for the ALA conference where I picked up a copy of this novel. And I absolutely loved it. It was so beautifully written and the characters were so rich and the magical element was so dark and unexpected and I just loved it. She blew me away with it. I was about halfway done with it and I went up to her at ALA and was like, “I can’t wait to get back to my hotel to finish it!” So now I’m excited to get my hands on an actual copy of the novel, and to see her again on Thursday to tell her how much I absolutely adored it and can’t wait for the next one!

Release Date: Today!

8. Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

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The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process. 

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

Another novel that I’ve already read :) I tracked down (read: stalked) Gretchen at WonderCon because she said she had an ARC of this with her and she’d give it to the first person who found her. Which happened to be me. Because I kind of stalked her. But I was SO excited about this book. The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars? Gretchen kept saying how much John Hughes, and his movies and the music from said movies influenced the book and I just had to read it. And I loved it so much. SO wicked. I can’t wait to get my hands on a real copy of this baby!

Release Date: September 16th, 2014

7. In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis 

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The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

I had wanted to read the first novel of this series so badly for so long but for some reason, just could never convince myself to pick it up at the bookstore. Finally, I received as a gift and on the day it arrived in the mail…I finished it. I was blown away by Mindy’s story and the gritty survival aspect of it and all the love that it encompassed, which surprised me. There was romantic love and familial love and the discovery of both and I just loved it. This novel is more a companion than a sequel though I do recommend reading the first book before this, and I’m just dying to read it. I’ve downloaded the eARC, which I got through edelweiss, but I’ve been kind of not feeling the Nook lately so I can’t wait to get my hands on a hard copy!

Release Date: September 23rd, 2014

6. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

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Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt

That is the longest synopsis EVER. Ohmygod. Sorry about that. Oh well. It gives you quite a nice idea on what the book is going to be about, which I can say with the highest authority is ABSOLUTELY brilliant. Marie Lu  blew my mind when I picked up Legend about two years ago and she’s doing it again with this book. Absolutely incredible. I got my hands on an ARC at ALA, the last one, and I was so giddy and excited that as soon as I finished Trial by Fire, I immediately started this one and finished it just as quickly. Its so much darker than Legend and I love how its in this completely fictional world and it really does feel like a mix of Assassin’s Creed and XMen, in the best way possible.

Release Date: October 7th, 2014

5. Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

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Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy. 

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

I feel terrible because I’ve had this ARC since July and this released today and I have NOT read it yet. I’ve started it multiple times but I’m just kind of addicted to contemporary novels right now so its been an ordeal. That being said though, I’m excited for this because I NEED to know what happens next and I hope my desire for fantasy kicks in VERY soon. I’ll be seeing Sarah on the 13th and I want to be able to talk about the book with her! Its HUGE and daunting and I saw it at the bookstore last night (oooh, out a day early…) and I just was blown away at how large it is. I’ve got my ARC and I’ll have my hands on a physical copy VERY soon and I’ll be ready to dive in!

Release Date: Today!

4. The Sorcerer Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

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The delicate peace between Wizards and the underguilds (Warriors, Seers, Enchanters, and Sorcerers) still holds by the thinnest of threads, but powerful forces inside and outside the guilds threaten to sever it completely.

Emma and Jonah are at the center of it all. Brought together by their shared history, mutual attraction, and a belief in the magic of music, they now stand to be torn apart by new wounds and old betrayals. As they struggle to rebuild their trust in each other, Emma and Jonah must also find away to clear their names as the prime suspects in aseries of vicious murders. It seems more and more likely that the answers they need lie buried in the tragedies of the past. The question is whether they can survive long enough to unearth them. 

AGH. I literally can’t HANDLE how excited I am for this book. I’ve searched all over for ARCs and eARCS and its been impossible and its truly bumming me out that I’ll have to wait until NEXT MONTH to read this book. Cinda Chima has a handle on this fantasy thing and as soon as I read The Demon King about two years ago, I was completely sold on her as one of my favorite authors. The Enchanter Heir was absolutely incredible and left me basically panting for this one so I’m glad its finally getting closer to releasing! I believe that the Heir Chronicles is finally coming to a close with this novel so I’m excited to see how it all wraps together. And then I will go into a despair because I’m not sure when her next book will be released!

Release Date: October 21st, 2014

3. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

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How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

People ask all the time who influenced me for The Awakened. Now the list is really long because I’m inspired by SO many authors and people but a huge influence on the story, the way it was written and that sort of thing, comes from this book right here. I had heard about it and finally picked it up. It took a bit to get into because it starts off a bit slow but once I was hooked, I was just so addicted. He writes incredibly real science fiction stories with such human characters and I just love it. I’m literally DYING to read the next book, and my search for an ARC has proved quite fruitless! But its coming out soon so I’m just waiting anxiously for it!

Release Date: September 16th 2014

2. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

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Though the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

My excitement for this book has tripled into interstellar lengths because he’ll be heading to California to promote this book which means I can meet him for the first time ever, which means I’m basically dying of excitement. Its the end…FOREVER. No more Percy after this. Its done, over, completed. This is the culmination of years, the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus and its huge and daunting and I don’t know whats going to happen or who is going to survive or who is going to live or what ships will sail or sink and its driving me mad! I need to know what happens next! I’m nervous and anxious and both ready and not for the end! Its going to be interesting. 

Release Date: October 7th 2014

1. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

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Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.

Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

I can say with complete authority that this book absolutely blew my mind. Absolutely. Blew. My. Mind. I got my hands on an ARC of this ages ago, and was super excited to get my hands on a physical ARC at ALA so that I could reread it before it came out. If you’ve read a book by Andrew before, you know what to expect. If you haven’t, then pick this one up, read it and then come back to me so I can tell you all the other books to read. This book has come out today so its hardly anticipated because you can literally go out to a bookstore at this very moment and pick it up but its number one because its just absolutely brilliant and you need to go out right now at this very moment and pick it up. If there’s one book you buy this fall, make it this one.

Release Date: Today!

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What books are you looking forward to this fall? Share them in the comments!

Book Review: Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

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Young Adult, sick  Dystopian? Survival? Awesome?

Pages: 

320

Part of a Series?:

Yes. The second book, In a Handful of Dust, releases September 26th

Release Date: 

September 24th, 2013

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn’t leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

My Review:

Back in September of 2013, one fantasy author that I’m massively addicted, Rae Carson, was touring for the very last book in her trilogy. And the closest she was getting to California was Las Vegas. Now LV is only a four hour drive from me. Its not that far. So I convinced my dad, brother and boyfriend to go on a mini road trip to go and meet Rae.

And it was way totally worth it.

But there was another author at the event that completely stuck out to me, and that was Mindy McGinnis. She was funny and fresh, and she was a debut novelist and that always jumps out at me. Plus, her story was about survival, and the inkling beginning thoughts of The Awakened were in my mind at the time, so everything about her stood out.

That was back in September and it took me THIS LONG to get my hands on this book. I don’t know why but it did. Thank you to Michelle, who was my Secret Beach Read Buddy, for sending this to me. I immediately opened it up, ready to dive in and I soaked it all up in less than 3 hours.

I LOVE this book. I loved the main character, Lynn, right off the bat. There was something about her that just makes you immediately like her. She’s not really familiar. She’s been raised such a different way than any of us have ever been raised. She’s been raised to survive, nothing else, but she has real feelings and you can tell that she wishes for more than just constant survival. The entry of others in her life, especially Lucy, really brings out more and more of Lynn than just survival and I love watching her journey. I love watching her give in, and fall in love with others. She’s only have known her mother, so it was beautiful to watch her discover the world through other’s eyes.

I also just loved the survival part of the story. It felt so real. My science fiction is science fiction. There is a virus, and reanimated corpses and everything about my novel feels kind of…out of this world. Not possible. Not this novel. The idea that water will run out, and it’ll become something to ration, to protect, to fight for is not exactly far fetched. I live in Southern California, trust me, I know all about droughts. I mean, sure, I can pop down to Ralph’s and pick up a 24 pack of purified water at any time, but how long will that last and what would we do, who would we sacrifice in order to survive? Mindy tackles that sort of world in this book and its incredibly compelling. I kept turning the pages because I just didn’t know what was going to happen next. Lynn’s world was a day by day struggle and you could lose anyone, anything, on one given day, and its addicting. Its full of so much tension but also laughter at the same time. It is full of so much human spirit and I just love it.

What I think I love the most about it though is that Mindy is just a terrific writer. She tells such a great story, from beginning to end, and that is just awesome. While In a Handful of Dust is a sequel, its also sort of companion as well. Not a Drop to Drink has a beginning, middle and end and I love that. I don’t think a lot of authors can accomplish that, and yet write a second book that must be read right NOW (the sequel is currently sitting on my Nook in e-galley format and I’m dying to return to it right now…). I think it deserves a ton of applause and praise because I was massively impressed by that.

Okay, now I have to go because In a Handful of Dust is calling my name and I also have to pack for ALA, which I haven’t done yet so…bye now. Basically, this book is amazing. Fresh, new, full of a ton of likable and kickass (in more than just physical ways) characters and the story will have you turning the pages frantically.

Plus, Eli? Be still, my heart! I am massively in love with him and my heart hurts. That’s all I’ll say!

Rating:

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Tuesday Top Ten: Best Books I Discovered at a Book Event

Often times, tadalafil I’ll go to events to see an author or two, but I’ll end up discovering new ones. Sometimes I go to an event not having read any books by the authors on the list and I end up discovering a whole group of amazing authors to dive into. I think that’s what beautiful about book events. You always leave with a sudden urgency to dive into these new books.

So that’s what this week’s top 10 is all about. Its all about the books that came into my life because of book events. WIthout book events, I may not have ever read them but I am so glad that I met these authors and I could jump into these awesome books! Check out the top ten books I’ve read that I discovered at a book event :)

Yes, I know there are 12. It was SO hard to narrow it down haha.

12. Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

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Aaron Hartzler was an author I first encountered at the LA Times Festival of Books this year, and then a week later at the Pasadena Teen Book Fest. He was funny and charming and his book sounded SO good. I’ve never been much into memoirs and non-fiction books but I felt like I had to give this a chance because I just loved Aaron so much. It tells the story of Aaron’s life growing up, and how he is raised in a very conservative family and what that was like, and that sort of thing. It reads like a novel and its just so honest and beautiful and funny, and I love every bit of it.

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11. Noggin by John Corey Whaley  

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The first time I saw John Corey Whaley was at the LA Times Festival of Books back in April. I had heard of him, vaguely before, and had purchased his debut novel for his appearance at Ontario Teen Book Fest but I hadn’t really heard of him. After attending a panel with him, Andrew Smith, Rainbow Rowell, Aaron Hartzler and E. Lockhart and I knew immediately I had to read Noggin. I just read it recently and its SO good, and I’m so glad I read it. Its about a boy who has his head cryogenically frozen because he’s dying of cancer, and he’s woken up just five years later, in a world where he’s famous but his best friend and girlfriend have moved on from him. Its awesome, and I don’t know that I would have read it had I not seen him at FoB and TBF.

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10. Also Known As by Robin Benway 

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The first time I came into contact with Robin Benway was at the LA Times Festival of Books last year, 2013. She was in a panel with Sarah Dessen (!!), Morgan Matson (!!!!!), and Gayle Forman (!!). I had Gayle Forman’s books in my TBR pile so the new author to me was Robin and I loved her. She was so encouraging and she really believed in pushing yourself and not giving up and I knew that I had to read her. She was just so inspiring. I read Also Known As last year, I can’t remember when, and I adore it. Its so fun and light and adventurous and it has a cute boy and kissing and its awesome. I love Robin too, she’s SO sweet :) I ran into her at Disneyland once, which was kind of creepy because I knew she was there (Twitter!) and had been looking for her. Total creeper status! But its okay, because we laugh about it now. And she’s just awesome and I can’t wait for her next book!

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9. Parallel by Lauren Miller 

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Okay, this is KIND of cheating. A little. I was sent Free to Fall in the mail by a publicist friend of mine and had been about halfway through it before I met Lauren Miller at the Ontario Teen Book Fest. I immediately went home and needed to finish it because she was SO fun, and smart, and I had a good time meeting her. Then I saw her about a week ago at a Girls Gone Sci-Fi event and knew that I had to get Parallel. So technically I was brought to this book, and to my love of Lauren Miller, through a signing. I finished this book about a week ago and it blew my mind. I started it with the intention of finishing it the next day. Instead, I stayed up all night to read. Lauren writes a beautiful love story, wrapped up into this intricate and heart pounding sci-fi phenomenon of parallel worlds. Its brilliant.

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8. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

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THIS BOOK BLEW MY MIND. Seriously. Its been almost a year since I read it and I still just get tongue tied just thinking about it. Its just SO good. I discovered Jennifer Bosworth at the Ontario TBF last year, in 2013, and she talked about her life in a small town, and how she grew up in a religious family and how she sort of turned away from that, and it just resonated in me a lot. Then I read this book, and I was just floored. It makes you think so much, and she’s not afraid to write something that probably makes a lot of people’s jaws drop. It was beautiful and I’m so glad that I found this through that event. I only wish to write something as thought provoking as this.

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I discovered Carrie Arcos there too, but sadly I haven’t read her books yet. They are both in my TBR pile haha!

7. A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka

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I had no idea who Catherine Linka was or of this book at all until I was looking at the author lists for Pasadena Teen Book Fest and Ontario Teen Book Fest. Since she was an attendee at both, I knew that I had to check her out, and I realized that this book had yet to be released…and then I got my hands on an e-galley! Yay! And I love it. It takes place in Los Angeles (wee!) and its about a world where the female population is controlled almost entirely due to the fact that majority died because of something wrong in the beef supply. Its sort of futuristic but Catherine Linka raises a lot of attention toward the fact that women are constantly being controlled, our choices, our freedoms, our bodies, etc. Its a great book and I was glad to hear a sequel is coming! I can’t wait to read more! Plus, she’s the sweetest lady :)

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6. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis 

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I literally read this yesterday. YESTERDAY. I’m currently reading the sequel, which I found as an e-galley on edelweiss, yes, yes, yes. Sadly I do not have a picture with her, nor a signature because I just didnt’ realize it at the time. I’ve met Mindy once, at a signing in Las Vegas, when I basically dragged my dad, brother and boyfriend out there so I could meet Rae Carson. Because I’m awesome that way. But anyway, one of the authors that was there was Mindy and I’ve been thinking of this book ever since. I wish I had the money at the time to buy this book but its remained on my radar ever since. I received it as a gift this week and immediately dove into it. Its SO good, and I have so much inspiration from it to make the survival bits of The Awakened better. This book is all about survival and I think its brilliant. I hope I can meet her again one day, to get this book signed because I just loved it.

5. Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott 

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Okay, this is SO cheating. But kind of not. I said book event and that doesn’t necessarily mean that I had to meet them in person. Jessica Brody was having an online chat thing for the release of Unforgotten, the second book of the Unremembered trilogy, and she had Victoria Scott with her, whose new book, Fire and Flood was releasing as well. I adore Jessica and I really loved Victoria after that. She was funny, and fresh and she made her book sound like so much fun. I also won a small swag prize pack, that included a signed bookmark, so I knew I had to get this book. When it released just a few days later, I picked up immediately and went home and read it, and was SO glad I did. I think its brilliant and I’ve been literally dying since February to have the sequel. Any day now, Victoria, I’m ready for it ;)

4. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan 

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Another person I sadly do not have a picture with, even though I technically met her. Last year, when I met and interviewed Cassandra Clare, just after Clockwork Princess had released, I also met Sarah and Maureen Johson, who were her tour buddies. I had read a bit of Maureen Johnson, so she wasn’t new to me but Sarah was. I added both Unspoken and the Demon’s Lexicon to my TBR. I am not a huge fan of the Demon’s Lexicon BUT Unspoken was just brilliant. Jared Lynburn is one of my favorite book boyfriends ever. He’s beautiful and him and Jace Herondale should be best friends. For real. Sarah has this really fun main character, and she has diversity and her characters are real and I’m constantly laughing but also clutching the pages with fear. I keep trying to get my hands on a galley of the third book but no such luck…

3. Unremembered by Jessica Brody

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I had bought Unremembered and read about 30 pages when I met Jessica Brody for the first time. However, after meeting her, I knew I had to finish this book, and I did. I went home from WonderCon that day and literally finished the book that night. And now I’m a huge fan, and I kind of stalk her but I think we’re friends so that’s all good then, now isn’t it? But I think Unremembered is awesome, a sort of girl version of Jason Bourne, and following Sera on her crazy adventure is so fun. Watching her recite the most incredible knowledge and discover grilled cheeses for the first time and fall in love and all of it. I love it. Jessica was super funny, and I enjoyed meeting her that first time, and every time since. She said something about allowing yourself to write badly and I always remember it “Don’t be afraid to write crap; crap makes good fertilizer.” I try to remember that when I’m trying to write. She also told me, after I told her I was trying to be a writer, “Don’t try, just be one.” She’s awesome, basically, and I ADORE all her books, but especially this one.

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2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 

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AGH! I love you, Leigh and your books and you BLOW my mind. I first encountered Leigh Bardugo at the Ontario Teen Book Fest in 2013, when she was on a panel with Marie Lu, Jessica Brody, Jennifer Bosworth and Morgan Matson. All amazing fantastic authors. It is still one of my favorite panels ever. But anyway, the moderator had said something along the lines of there being very little strong female characters in the past and Leigh immediately went “Uh, Alanna?”, like, duh! Alanna, for those of you who don’t know, is from Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series, which is brilliant, by the way. Any time someone mentions Tammy, I’m sold. I bought Shadow and Bone, and fell in love with her and her books. She writes epic fantasy, and its beautiful written and the characters are wonderful and the entire trilogy is just amazing, and without TBF, I don’t know if I would have ever picked it up.

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1. Winger by Andrew Smith 

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If you know me at all, even in the slightest, I’m sure you could have guessed at my number one answer to this. This is legitimately one of my favorite books ever, and I only read it just over a year ago. It crawled straight into my heart and stayed there, stuck. It blew my mind. I first came into contact, literally, ever, with Andrew at the Teen Book Fest in Ontario last year, 2013, and he made such a massive impression. He was funny and inspiring and I just knew that I needed to read his book. All the authors kept telling me that we needed to read Winger and I bought it almost immediately after the Fest, and just…it was just SO freakin’ good. I love it so much. I am SO glad that I met him at TBF because I have read so many other books by him since then and I just love everything he’s written. (I mean, Grasshopper Jungle…blew my mind! Craziest book ever). He also is such a great person that I’ve gotten to know, and he’s been so amazing, recommending me for different things, and that just makes me want to fangirl like crazy.

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Basically, the purpose of this post was this: discover new authors! buy new books! Get out there, and get to book events, even if you don’t know the authors because you never know when you’ll discover someone new, or discover a new favorite book. Its incredible and I’m grateful for the many events that I’m able to attend and all the authors I’ve discovered :)

What are some of your favorite books that you’ve picked up after meeting the author? Share in the comments!