Changing Themes!

If you read the title to this article then you are aware of my intentions on reading more adult literature along with young adult. After my blog hiatus, I began to enjoy reading adult literature more than young adult. The reason I became inactive on my blog again is because my blog is strictly Y.A. and I couldn’t mess up my theme by adding adult literature reviews; if I did decide to post adult reviews, it would not be fair to my audience. However, I decided that I would make known to my audience of my plan to focus my blog more on YA and adult rather than middle grade.

For those of my audience wondering why I am removing the middle-grade section from my blog, it is because my site is based upon ‘a teen helping teens find a love of reading’ and since I have become older on the scale of teenagers, I believe that the reading level on my blog should change. In all honesty, I haven’t read middle-grade book since Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi so incorporating it as part of my theme is pointless. However, I have grown fond of YA, new adult, and adult fiction which is why I have made them my theme of my blog.

To add a sense of clarity, I am going to keep my site teenage friendly. I won’t review erotic books because it is not my genre of choice and my audience still may remain the same. I hope you all understand my interest in changing themes and continue to be a part of my audience.

Bookcon Prep: FINAL. DAYS. BEFORE. BOOKCON!!!

WE HAVE FIVE DAYS UNTIL BOOKCON!!!!

In four days, I will be getting on a plane to travel to Chicago, a place that I have never been before, to go to Bookcon!! This is my second time going and I am so excited to meet you all. Let me know if you all want me to post my schedule on here!

Since it is the final days before Bookcon, I don’t expect you to have a lot to do. Here are the FINAL things you must do for BEA and Bookcon!!

  1. Print and laminate your schedule!!! Why laminate it? I am extremely sloppy and do not want to get my schedule dirty. Laminating it will make sure it won’t get ruined.
  2. Look for book events around Chicago to do after Bookcon. There are many cool signings after Chicago that many attendees are going to.
  3. Print out the Bookcon app badge. What’s the Bookcon App Badge? It allows people from the app to meet each other.
  4. Get all your questions answered. Need any Bookcon help? Ask me, Bookcon, McCormick Place, or the app. I wouldn’t suggest the app because the questions get repetitive on there and people get annoyed. Plus, Bookcon and McCormick Place are your better options because they know more than the attendees.
  5. If traveling from out of town, schedule tours and make restaurant reservations now!!! You want to get most out of your Chicago experience. Ask locals on the app what is good in Chicago and plan some stuff to do.
  6. Follow publishers and exhibitors on social media (preferably Twitter). Turn on notifications, too!  Exhibitors use social media to inform you of things they are giving away.
  7. Start packing. If you are from Chicago, start planning what to wear!

Now that I covered what you should do, I am going to help you know what to pack.

  • Clothes for your trip! You cannot do anything without clothes.
  • Comfortable shoes. You will do A LOT of walking.
  • Your schedule.
  • A FEW books from home that you want signed.
  • YOUR BADGE!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Money. Do not only rely on credit cards.
  • A lanyard.
  • Your phone and charger.
  • Make up (if you use it).
  • Hair products (if you use it).
  • A camera.
  • Business cards.
  • Plane/train ticket.
  • Bookcon app badge.
  • One tote bag or backpack. You will get plenty more.

So, that is all I have left to prepare you for Bookcon. I hope you all have an incredible time! If you see me, please say hi. I will be way more excited to meet you than you are to meet me. Let me know how you liked my Bookcon Prep posts on my blog.

How To Continue Reading Despite a Busy Schedule

Because my spring break is quickly approaching, I have become bombarded with work. Between taking the IOWA tests, starting softball, doing CrossFit, finishing many papers for school, and almost being done the third marking period of Sophomore year, I feel completely overwhelmed.

During times where I have an increased amount of work, I tend to lose time for reading and writing. As you can tell, my blog has been pretty inactive lately. I swear it is not because I am quitting, it is because I can’t find time to write. I decided that since I haven’t completed a book, I would post a piece about how to find time for reading when you are busy.

Read when you find time at work/school/anywhere else.

The time where I read the most is during school. When I am already in a learning environment, I feel more focused. Whenever I finish a test or assignment, I pick up my book and read. Also, if I want to, I will read during my lunch break. If you don’t make time during the day to read, you cannot expect to find time.

If you use public transportation then try to read during your commute.

Whether it be a bus, train, or even a plane, I find that reading when traveling helps pass the time. For me, it is easy for to read when commuting to school because I do not drive. However, for some people I understand why it would be difficult.

Read a chapter a night!

My golden rule for staying motivated is to read a chapter a night. A chapter is not a lot but it is better than not reading at all. By reading a chapter a night, you are able to not fall too deep into a reading slump.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I know how hard reading can be in busy situations but it is manageable. Please let me know in the comments of any tips that you have!

Andrew Hiller Interview

Back in December, I read and reviewed A Halo of Mushrooms by Andrew Hiller. We also decided that we would have an interview posted on my blog. However, the holidays came along and we both were busy so it took a little longer to get the interview done. But now, I can post it!

Interview With Andrew!

 

What is your book, A Halo of Mushrooms, about?

On the surface, it’s about a healer who steals one of the last withering mushrooms of the first faerie ring in the hopes to transplant it and restore wonder, magic, and wisdom to all the worlds connected to the ancient fungi. On a deeper level, it’s about scarcity and how we react when something necessary is dying or disappearing. To what lengths will we go to save it? Will we lose our humanity in trying to grab what little remains? How do you save a dying species?

What inspired you to write A Halo of Mushrooms?

While I was working in the newsroom, I kept being assigned to report on stories about drought, cities going bankrupt, species decline, and other frustrating subjects. It seemed to me that we were seeing a lot of decline (economic and environmental) all at once… not just in one localized spot, but in unconnected places all around the world. The story emerged from that observation and then merged with other thoughts.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

I went through several titles actually. I initially was just going to call it “The Bald Mushroom” which seemed pretty cool to me, but I worried that no one would have a clue what that meant. Also, my friends hated it as a title.

I liked the idea of a halo because of its several meanings: A halo of light, an angelic symbol, a protection, etc.

Which character(s) can you relate to most in the novel?

I think it’s important to relate to everyone you write about. People say, “Write what you know,” I’ve never bought into that… I prefer “Write what you understand” or “Write what you are curious about?” After all, when we write we are often exploring a why… Why do people act the way they do? Why did events or history unfold the way it did< Why does an object in nature respond to stimuli in the way it does?

Who was the hardest character to write about in your book and why?

I guess the hardest character was Jacob, Lara’s boyfriend. Jacob became an offstage character. We never get to meet him. He never gets to defend himself. His actions are always interpreted by others. Yet in several ways, he still is a major catalyst in the story. How then to write this invisible character and make him human and not a cardboard cutout, wall decoration, or a plot device?

Characters like Jacob are not unusual in the real world. All of us feel the weight of people who are not there. People whose influence lingers long after they leave the room or our lives.

What is your favorite thing about being a writer?

Creation. I love the flow of ideas and exploring. I love learning and discovery. To get lost in texture, sound, color, and emotion is a blast.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, when and how did you realize you wanted to become one?

I think I always wanted to be a storyteller. I sold my first painting at 14 and my first poem a year later. I’ve gotten to report for NPR, be published in the Washington Post, and see my plays live on the New York stage. Writing is key to that, but I think telling stories, whether true or made up, is what it’s all about.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Good question. I’ve been told I do, but I’m not hyper conscious about it. I tend not to outline much and trust that I can refine what I need to through the editing process. I believe in my audience and readers (perhaps sometimes too much.) I hate dumbing things down. So, I may leave a few things unexplained hoping that the reader will puzzle them out or fill in the story through the lens of their experience and philosophy.

What advice do you have to give to new authors or people who want to become authors?

Dream. Write. Dare. Think of a rough draft as a place to play. Just put everything in there and then start pulling back what works and what ideas are the ones that really sing to you. Don’t follow trends because unless you are really quick by the time you finish your story, it gets through a publisher’s slush pile the trend is over. More importantly, if you follow a trend… the story you write will not be yours. It’ll just be what you think someone wants to hear. Write instead about what interests you, excites you, and scares you. Also, don’t be afraid to make your heroes miserable… they’ll thank you in the end especially if they win out.

What would you like to say to your readers?

Thank you for bringing our stories to life. Without the reader, without someone to listen, our stories fade. Also, let a writer know what you think! We often put our work out there and never know if it brings about a smile, a sigh, a tear, or if it causes raging boredom! Many of us love to interact with readers. I know I do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about A Halo of Mushrooms or any of my other work.

Bookish Adventures: Kidlitcon 2015!!!!

I cannot believe how long it took me to write this post. It has almost been a week since my incredible bookish weekend occurred, and I have not posted my recap yet.

For those who may not have heard, this past weekend was Kidlitcon. Kidlitcon is a two-day conference about children and young adult literature. This year’s Kidlitcon was based on children and young adult book blogs. The two-day event has many amazing panels that will benefit you when blogging about children’s literature. The panels were not the only incredible aspect of Kidlitcon, the people who attended the event were extremely friendly and interesting. I came back from Kidlitcon with many great stories and business cards of marvelous people in the bookish community!

brightly

Flaunting my name tag!

On the first day of Kidlitcon, I had to miss the first two panels because there was traffic heading to Baltimore. When I finally arrived after two never ending hours in the car, I went to get registered. At registration, I got a name tag (fun fact: I love getting name tags because I feel so professional wearing them) and a Brightly tote bag that had some swag inside.

After signing in, I went to The Power of Teamwork panel. Alison Formento (author of These Rocks Count!), Alisa Grosso (author of Shallow Pond), Jacqueline Jules (author of Zapato Power), Nancy Viau (author of City Street Beat), and Timothy Young’s (author of The Angry Little Puffin) panel was well put together and extremely beneficial on the topic of blog groups. Because I am part of a book club, their panel provided valuable advice on how to manage a group of bloggers.

teamwork

The next panel I attended was the Visual Storytelling panel. The panel featured Matt Phelan, Minh Le, Kevin O’Malley, and Shadra Strickland. Prior to the panel, I met Shadra Strickland who was one of the speakers for Visual Storytelling. Shadra was telling me about her career in illustration and about the stories she has worked on. The Visual Storytelling panel was educational to me because I don’t typically read picture books. Learning the process of creating the perfect illustrations for the book made me realize how much effort goes into these stories. I came out of the panel with a deeper understanding of the effort it takes to create a picture book.

illustration Shadra

After Visual Storytelling, we had a lunch break. During lunch, I met a local librarian named Cheryl. During lunch, Cheryl and I had a discussion on what summer reading for children should be. We both agreed that if schools insist on reading classic works of literature then we should have a modern book that coincides with the classic to study as well. This idea was unique because it can show students how the perspective of topics changes over time.

Following lunch, we all went to listen to the author of Cut Both Way, Carrie Mesrobian, speak about edginess in books. I adored Carrie’s talk! Carrie carried her topic in a unique and intriguing way. I felt like I knew Carrie personally after her talk.

Carrie cut both ways

For the last panel of the day, we all went to the And the Winner is…. panel. This panel featured the judges of the Cybils Awards. And the Winner is.. helped me become more educated on the topic of book awards.

After a day filled with panels, it was nice to relax while attending the Author Mix and Mingle. During that event, I met many incredible people. The first people I met were Guinevere and Libertad are the authors of The Mark of Noba. Guinevere and Libertad are bloggers over at The Twinjas. The Twinjas were extremely personable. I had an enormous amount of fun hanging out with them! Both of them were hilarious. Not only were they incredible people, they also support diversity in books!

Twinjas

I bought Carrie Mesrobian’s book during the signing event. When I personally met Carrie, she was very nice. After the signing was over, Carrie and I talked with Tracey (author of The Jumbies) and a publicist from Harper Collins named Alexandra. It was an immense amount of fun to talk to them. We all got into a discussion on television shows. If you did not know, I love to watch television shows so I very much enjoyed that conversation. Eventually, Alexandra and I were the only people remaining in the lobby of the hotel. Alexandra and I talked about books that we liked and books that we thought should be published. After a while, I had to get ready for the Cybils party which meant we had to end our conversation.

carrie m

Carrie Mesrobian

At the Cybils party, I hung out with The Twinjas who were extremely entertaining. Sadly, they had to leave which made my dad and me decide to go bowling. When we went to go bowling, we met Elissa (author of Nerd Camp) and a local librarian named Laura. I had an extreme amount of fun bowling with them. It was incredible to talk about books all night because where I live I don’t know of many readers.

writer friends

The next day we went to Tracey Baptiste’s panel where she talks about her book, The Jumbies. Tracey is an incredibly talented speaker. Her panel was intriguing and inspiring. I am so thrilled to have been able to talk to her! I love how she portrayed the struggles of writing a book.

tracey

The next panel I attended was How Graphic Novels Work. The panel featured Maggie Thrash (author of Honor Girl), Jay Hosler (Last of the Sandwalkers), Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre (Giants Beware!). The panel was entertaining! I love graphic novel which was another reason that the panel was a great amount of fun. It was amazing to see many talented illustrators in one room.

graphics graphic maggie

The next panel I went to was the Diversity Panel! It was so nice to support The Twinjas during their panel. I am a huge advocate for diversity in books. I hope to gain more awareness toward diverse characters in books. The panel incorporated several topics regarding diversity that need be discussed.

After that panel was MY panel! I was speaking on my first panel! This was one of the most memorable experiences that I have faced in my life. People dedicated an hour of their lives to listen to me and four other bloggers talk. The feelings I encountered were overwhelming. I loved every second that I was speaking. Afterward, I received free chocolate too!

panel panell chocolate

The Podcast panel was right after my panel. I have been meaning to start podcasting for a while (I am going to set it up later in this week) which was why I went to this panel. I adored this panel. I came out of the panel ready to start podcasting!

I had to leave early to meet up with my family which was why I missed the last panel. Overall, Kidlitcon was a massive success. I highly recommend to children and young adult book bloggers.