Saturday, November 30, 2013

WIP Marathon Intro

Against my better judgment, I have decided to do WIP Marathon this time around. My writing/revision progress has been slow enough that I could use the boost. (And also, it kinda sounds like fun.)

Marathon goal: Umm, let's see. There are 9 weeks between now and February 1st. I guess my goal then is to revise ~7-8 chapters.

Stage of writing: I never actually finished the draft, so I'm alternating between writing new chapters and revising old ones. I recently revised my first chapter and re-wrote my second. Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to re-write chapter 3.

What inspired my current project: I've promised myself that I will not discuss this until the novel is finished. Which might be never.

But if you're curious, it's YA/NA portal fantasy.

What might slow down my marathon goal: Laziness. Finals. (I have four exams in the next two weeks.)

Mostly, though, it's trying to find the best way to write each chapter. Currently, I'm stuck on chapter 3. It's not the most interesting chapter. It involves seeing a new world for the first time and introducing a handful of characters. Also, I have two protagonists, and I'm not sure whose POV would work best for it.

Best time of the day for writing: I focus best in the morning, but I usually end up writing at night.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Trapped in Story Mode - Help

I haven't written a substantial amount in the last week or two, but I did write more than I wrote in a long time (read: I finally finished re-writing chapter 2). I think this is probably why I've been trapped in story mode for the last few days. As in, my brain is chronically thinking about parts of the story--scenes I'm writing or thinking about writing, scenes I've written, scenes I'll write soon, scenes that I won't get to write for a long, long time. And while this stuff has always made up a significant portion of my daily thinking, it's been worse in the last few days. All I want to do lately is lie around and re-read old chapters and daydream about the ones I haven't written yet.

You would think this would make writing more easier, or at least more appealing, but it doesn't. Partially, that's because the scene I'm currently working on (or, I should say, the part of the scene I'm currently working on) is not the most fun to daydream about. It's one of those things where I have to get through it as quickly as possible so I can get to the good parts.

Even worse, this feeling has severely gotten in the way of my ability to study. Between story mode and being sick for a week, I have effectively stopped studying and going to most of my classes. I have lost the ability to care about school--which is bad, because I have finals coming up. My grades are stable enough in most of my classes that I can get a 50% on each final and still pass the class, but that's not how I want to end the semester.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, exactly. I'm not looking for advice or inspiration (mostly because I probably won't listen to it anyway). It's just something I want to talk about for a few minutes. And now that I've done that, I'll go do something else.


Reading update: I was in a huge reading slump for the last month and a half. During that time, I tried to pick up two ARCs, but I couldn't get past the first fifty pages of either. Instead, I (infrequently) read A Dance with Dragons. I finished it yesterday, and I was somewhat disappointed. Over the course of 1000 pages, very little happened. Tyrion's arc was probably the only one with a consistently moving plotline. All the others basically dilly-dallied* for hundreds of pages. And then something would happen, but it would end on a cliffhanger. It's like I just spent the last month of my life reading a 1000-page commercial for Book 6. (Not that there weren't great scenes--it just took way too long to get there.)

Anyway, yesterday I started Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel, and I can confidently say that my reading slump is over. Why? Because after only a chapter, I'm completely hooked on the voice.

*I learned this word from the lady in charge of the disabled riding program I volunteered at all through college. It's very far from my usual vocabulary, but in this case, the word seemed perfect.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

EXTRACTED Review, Interview, and Giveaway

Hi everyone! I'm really excited to be participating in the blog tour for Extracted, the first book in The Lost Imperials series. Below, you will find my review of Extracted, an interview with the authors, Sherry D. Ficklin and Tyler H. Jolley, and a giveaway for a Kindle Paperwhite Touchscreen.

Welcome to the war. The Tesla Institute is a premier academy that trains young time travelers called Rifters. Created by Nicola Tesla, the Institute seeks special individuals who can help preserve the time stream against those who try to alter it. The Hollows is a rogue band of Rifters who tear through time with little care for the consequences. Armed with their own group of lost teens--their only desire to find Tesla and put an end to his corruption of the time stream. Torn between them are Lex and Ember, two Rifters with no memories of their life before joining the time war. When Lex's girlfriend dies during a mission, the only way he can save her is to retrieve the Dox, a piece of tech which allows Rifters to re-enter their own timeline without collapsing the time stream. But the Dox is hidden deep within the Telsa Institute, which means Lex must go into the enemy camp. It's there he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them both comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they are, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them both again.


I had a lot of fun reading this book. It combines steampunk, time travel, and a fast-moving plot. I highly recommend it for people who enjoy science fiction, alternate history, gadgets, action, and snappy dialogue.

As for the characters: Upon first read, it was hard to see them beyond their role in the story and their immediate relationships to each other (friend, sibling, boyfriend/girlfriend). But when I flipped through it a second time, I noticed many more personal details that really made the characters come alive--what they wore ("Her grey cargo pants have been haphazardly patched over with what I assume are pieces of the Hollows' common room sofa"), what they collected ("Pieces of fabric, drab costume jewelry. Feathers. A set of brass knuckles"), etc.

There were also several elements I appreciated from a feminist perspective, and I'm not just talking about kickass females. More specifically, it was the fact that those kickass females also had personalities, were allowed to like pretty things, and most importantly, had meaningful relationships with other females. One criticism of the YA genre that I keep seeing over and over again is the lack of female friendships. It often seems like female "friends" only exist as passive gossip buddies or as backstabbing sluts, something which was definitely not the case in Extracted. The female characters had actual conversations with each other, and when they fought, it was over legitimately conflicting ideals.

One of my issues with this novel is the worldbuilding. The novel did a great job with the details (ie, steampunk tech), but not so much with the big-picture. For instance, it seemed like the Tesla Institute and the Hollow Tower existed in a vacuum. Where (and when) are these institutions located? For instance, one of the characters from the Tesla Institute talks about going to the beach a lot, but other than that, I know nothing about the where-and-when. Is the Tesla Institute located somewhere in the modern United States, or is it in some futuristic steampunk world where everyone knows about time travel? (Given that the dialogue is very 21st century and that it doesn't seem like a lot of other people know about Rifting, I would assume the former.)

Additionally, I'm a little hazy on Tesla's agenda, but I assume that future books will expand upon that.


And now, the interview!

1. I'm always curious about the co-authoring process. What was yours like? Did you each pick a POV character to write, or did you write the whole thing together?

Sherry- We knew early on that I wanted to write Ember’s chapters and Tyler wanted to write Lex’s. But once we would complete a chapter, we would comb through it together and make suggestions, changes, or edits. We were really able to tweak and tighten each other’s work, because we both understand the characters and the world so well.

Tyler- Because I’m not totally in tune with my inner girl I’m glad that I have Sherry. From the beginning we wanted EXTRACTED to have a really strong female and male voice. And we didn’t want these two characters to be secondary characters. We alternated chapters from Lex to Ember.

2. A few of the characters in Extracted are well-known historical figures. How did you go about 'adapting' these people into fiction? Was there ever any conflict between historical accounts of these figures and the characters you wanted them to become?

Sherry- Most of it was fairly simple because we actually sort of erase their pasts (or at least their memories of the past) so we had a fair amount of leash to work with. The one thing that some of the early readers got stuck on was the fact that the historical person Lex is based on was a hemophiliac. But we didn’t want to make it a limiting factor for him in the book, so we sort of dealt with it very simply and quickly.

Tyler- I agree with Sherry. The only historical conflict was hemophilia. The rest of the characters just have their past lives, but as they live in the Hollow Tower or the Tesla Institute these lives aren’t remembered, thus it doesn’t influence how they live their day to day lives.

3. In Extracted, Lex and Ember regain memories of their lives before they became Rifters. Are any other characters going to remember their past lives in future books?

Sherry- *Spoilers* Yes. All the Tesla kids (and even a few of the Hollows) are based on real people, so bringing more of their histories in will happen throughout the series. I will say, it doesn’t happen for the others the same way it happens for Lex and Ember. Each ‘trigger’ is unique to the character and their experiences.

Tyler- In the next book there will be more reveals of past historical characters. It has been an absolute riot figuring out each trigger and how it floods their minds with past memories.

4. Describe your ideal time travel vacation.

Sherry- I would want to visit the Library at Alexandria before its destruction. So much history lost forever, I would spend weeks just rummaging through it. I went to Europe a few years back and the one place I knew I HAD to visit was the library at St. Gallen in Switzerland. It was amazing. I know, I’m a book nerd.

Tyler- I would love to go back and be part of the gold rush in Colorado. Caves and gold are intriguing to me.


About the authors:

Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full-time writer and internet radio show host with more mouth then good sense. She has a serious book addiction, but continually refuses treatment, much to her husband’s chagrin.

Tyler and Sherry met one fateful day and bonded over their love for books, science fiction, and donuts. Their first co-written novel came shortly after. Now, they still do all those other things, but also go to various steampunk conventions and events under the guise of ‘research’. They can often be found lurking on the Lost Imperials Facebook page or over on the official website,


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Extracted is out now!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Letter to My Friend's Rapist

Dear [what was your name, again?],

Hi. You might remember me as the girl who said a few words to you at [the bar] last night. You know, about how you date-raped my friend.

I heard an interesting thing today. Apparently, you messaged K to say that you feel “threatened” by me. I never realized there was anything “threatening” about a few passive-aggressive comments. You know what is threatening? 1) Trying to force off a girl’s tights when she’s clearly not interested. 2) Pressuring a different girl to drink so much that she’s incapable of giving (or refusing to give) consent. 3) Continuing to harass both girls, even though neither wants anything to do with you.

When I mentioned what happened with K, your response was “I was pretty trashed, too.” If you rape someone when you’re drunk, you’re still a rapist, much like if you kill someone in a drunk driving accident, you’re still guilty of manslaughter. (Oh, and while we’re on the subject of drunk driving, I’d like to point out that you did that too—after all, you were the one who drove her home from the bar.)

According to the law, sexual contact with a person who is not in a condition to give consent is rape. Calling you a rapist is not a threat; it’s a statement of facts. A threat, however, sounds more like “I am going to kill/hurt/rape/torture/castrate/destroy you.” I have no intention of doing any of that – not because I don’t think you deserve it, but because I’m in medical school and it’s not worth compromising my future for someone as pathetic as you. Rest assured, your body and genitals are safe.

However, I will not play nice when you attempt to make casual conversation with my friends. If you cannot respect their boundaries, you do not deserve to speak to them. Same goes for girls who aren’t my friends. They deserve fair warning.

So in actuality, the only thing I might be “threatening” is your dating prospects. And let’s be honest – you’re not exactly a “catch” to begin with. You’re a forty-something who lives with his mom, a DJ who performs once in a blue moon, and a creeper who drowns girls half your age in alcohol so that you can occasionally get laid.

K, meanwhile, is everything you’re not: smart, fun, pretty. She has friends and a boyfriend who aren’t going to let you treat her like shit. She’s hard-working and compassionate and her patients love her for it—oh, and even though she’s been a nurse for less than a year, she’s already getting her own clinical trial. She’s actually going somewhere in life. I hope you enjoyed your five seconds with K, because in ten years, she won’t even remember your name.

Please leave K and D alone. If you have a problem with anything I’ve said, you can address it to me. Oh, and a word of advice: If you don’t like being called out for rape, try not raping people.

And now that I’ve said my piece, I’m going to go finish my homework and move on with my life.



[Why am I posting this here? Because I'm sick of hearing about people whose lives are ruined by a single instance of rape. Would you be ashamed if someone punched you in the face or stole your purse? Probably not, because you didn't do anything wrong. So why should rape be any different?  Why is it your job to feel guilty for something that someone else did?

And yes, I do realize that this letter is somewhat ableist. Not all rapists are unattractive middle-aged men; in many cases, they are more popular and successful than their victims. Does that make them less pathetic? Nope. Taking advantage of someone who is physically weaker than you or incapacitated is never a sign of strength, regardless of your status. It's like beating up a small child--it doesn't prove anything, except that you're an asshole.]
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