Books, Road Trip Wednesday

I´m totally reading to improve my writing – or why I read 72 YA books this year

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: About how many books do you read in a year?

Do you want to read more? Or, less?

So far, I´ve read about 72 YA (and NA) books this year (about 86 books in total). Yes. 72. And the year is not over.  That seems like a lot. I see my husband rolling his eyes at the number. But…I spend a lot of time in commuting, and I´m a fast reader. You combine the two and you get a whole lot of books in a year. My commute is for both reading and writing, and when I´m deep into a draft, there will be less reading.

The YA books I've read so far in 2012
The YA books I’ve read so far in 2012

I don´t set a number per year, I don’t have a goal of books I feel like I need to be reading. But, since I’ve become serious about my writing, I also believe that reading a lot does improve my writing. After all, even Stephen King explained: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” It also helps me to know what’s already out there, what works for me, try to touch the elusive point on the reasons why  I get lost in a book. That magical moment when it’s simply you and the story. It always leaves me in awe at the way a writer was able to create that chemistry through words.

A lot of times, I also simply enjoy reading for reading. You know getting the butterflies when a book pulls you in and doesn’t let go. It helps me de-stress, it makes me smile, and yes even when it makes me tear up, I welcome all the feelings.  I even have some books, I will re-read because I know they will lift me up.

I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of books.

Sorry hubby, the shelves will continue to overflow.

So, tell me: do you set yourself a “reading goal” per year?

Kisses, Road Trip Wednesday, writing

My writing time…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: With Thanksgiving on the horizon we want to know how you balance hectic times like the holidays with your writing schedule.

Well, first, I miss Thanksgiving. I loved that holiday when I lived in the US. I was usually in charge of the mashed potatoes, both the garlic ones and the sweet mashed potatoes with marshmallows…YUM! We also had stuffing, and cranberry sauce, and turkey, and fresh green beans with bacon. Oh and the desserts…Hmmmmmmmmm

Plus, everybody used to come over, it was relaxing and fun, and just great!

Now, that we´re back in Europe, we don´t celebrate Thanksgiving any longer, but I can relate to hectic times.

By Ye Rose Studio, Providence, R.I. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
For the past months, I´ve spent 12 to 14 hours outside of the house…Work has been very busy, and I spend more than two hours a day commuting. That leaves little time for anything else but eating, showering and sleeping, and trying to keep up with everything (including time with my husband, keeping in touch with family and friends…) Luckily, I can write during my commute. My commute includes walking, bus, the train and the metro. While sitting in the train, I get to write. I wish I had more time, but for now I don´t so I have to do with what I can get.

During the holiday season such as Christmas and New Year´s, I write very little. We travel to France for Christmas, and then drive back to my in-laws in Germany for New Year´s. I sometimes get a few writing sessions in, but I don´t schedule them, as I want to be as flexible as possible for my family and friends during that time.

So, tell me…are you planning on writing after eating the Turkey? (or whatever you´re eating tomorrow :-))

If you´re travelling today, be safe!

Road Trip Wednesday, writing

Writing in the future…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: What do you hope to be writing in one year? Three? Five?

At the beginning I thought about writing myself a letter – you know the “Dear Future Me” type of letter but for some reason that freaked me out a little 🙂 So I thought hard about what I hoped to be writing in one year, three or five and the answer doesn´t change much.

I want to write stories that make the readers feel ALL the emotions.

There. I said it.

This is already my goal, to have characters  readers can connect to and do not want to let go of. All my ideas for future WiPs are Young Adult but they range from more contemporary to historical, some are also paranormal. Some are funny, some are tragic. There´s always love in them. But their common denominator is that desire for the emotions to leap from the pages and lodge themselves into the heart of the ones holding the book.

And on a more personal level, I also hope that even if I´m still not agented in five years, I still get the kick from writing: the urge, the happiness, the relaxation…

Writing is a balancing act but it also balances me.

So, tell me what do you hope to read or write in one year, three or five years?

Books, Road Trip Wednesday

Best Book of September…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: What was the best book you read in September?

This month, I breathed, dreamed, smelled, ate my revisions. But I also read quite a lot of great books…

The wonderful books I read in September…

RULES OF ATTRACTION and CHAIN REACTION by Simone Elkeles were both very enjoyable even though I have to admit the first book in the series is my favorite.

IF I LIE by Corinne Jackson was heart-breaking, and I felt with many of the characters.

TEN by Gretchen McNeil takes on one of my favorite novels of Agatha Christie (and I´ve read a lot of her books when I was a teenager :-)) and she does it very well, building up the tension and creating a creepy setting.

And then there´s BUTTER…this book made me FEEL so much.

Summary by Goodreads: A lonely obese boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn’t go through with his plans?

Disclaimerthere is one scene I COULD NOT read. Could. Not. Simply. Could. Not. It´s the scene which shows how Butter got his nickname. It wasn´t overly visual but it just made me feel so much and it was difficult because I almost had the feeling to be a by-stander when I was reading. It´s difficult

This book does an uncanny job at instilling the way Butter feels, and the way people are cheering for him to go through his plan. I´ve read that some readers have an issue identifying with Butter because why doesn´t he do something to lose weight? I didn´t have that question. For me, it´s clear Butter suffers not only from his body weight but that he has many unresolved issues and that he doesn´t have the tools to deal with them. Getting bigger for him isn´t something he likes, it´s something he does, it´s part of who he´s become. Bulimia is an illness. And Butter is sick.

Butter is so much more though. He´s talented, he has an attitude, he has dreams, he does have some friends, and he longs for many things, including popularity.

You wonder how it can go that far, but at the same time, you know it could. You get to know Butter, his family, the people surrounding him. And you want to tell him: “You´re not alone. Simply look around you.” You want to reach out to his classmates and tell them: “Open your eyes.” But then again, you have the insight of being in Butter’s mind, you know exactly what he’s going through. This book broke my heart as I was reading it.

Scary? Yes.

A book I would recommend? Definitely.

So, tell me what was your favorite book(s) of the month?

revising, Road Trip Wednesday, writing

My Love List….

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: Inspired by Stephanie Perkins’ post on Natalie Whipple’s blog, what is your novel’s “Love List”?

Whenever Stephanie Perkins starts a new project, she creates a list called “What I Love About This Story.” You really should check out her post! (plus you know it’s Stephanie Perkins :D)

I love this! Love it! Which is good for a love list, right?

Please bear with my ramblings as I only had a few hours of sleep. I attended the 10 queries in 10 tweets webinar by Sara Megibow (and due to the time zone difference, I got up at 2am) While my query got a pass, she did say the concept was strong and gave me pointers how to better it.

So exciting! (especially as this doesn’t count as a rejection)

Anyways…

grace in winter 2
Uploaded by Ekabhishek (Wikicommons)

ONE TWO THREE has been pretty much consuming my time, and my thoughts. Husband can testify to this, right hubby? And my wonderful beta readers as well as my critique partner extraordinaire probably nod their heads as I’ve been sending them emails 😀

And it’s important to remember why I love the story. So here is my love list. And it doesn’t even include my characters. Really, I love my characters.

  • Friendship
  • Love
  • Shoulders
  • Ballet
  • Arabesque
  • Plié
  • Chopin
  • Piano
  • Soccer
  • Kisses
  • First times
  • Tequila
  • Family
  • Grief
  • Field
  • Tutu
  • Disney
  • Restaurant
  • Piano
  • Car
  • Arrogant
  • Funny
  • Charismatic
  • Salsa
  • New York
  • Pelmini

Now, tell me what comes on your love list?

 

Books, Road Trip Wednesday, writing

My Summer Soundrack…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: : What music has been your summer soundtrack?

Yesterday, I introduced you to the characters of my YA Contemporary novel ONE TWO THREE (currently with beta readers), well today you will find out a bit more about my WiP playlist. I listen to music during my commute while I write and in July, it was mainly the songs which reminded me of the story or of the characters. I have a lot of songs, so I’ll just pick five.

Valse de l’Adieu by Chopin

Empire State of Mind Jay-Z and Alicia Keys

Addicted to you by Shakira

Life is Sweet by Natalie Merchant

Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day 

Tell me, what song reminds you of a book you recently read?

or which song made it to your summer playlist?

Book Review, Books, Road Trip Wednesday

July Books – Spotlight on SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week´s topic: Best Book of July

I have read some wonderful books this July so I will not be choosing the best one, rather I´ll be telling you about one which really took me by surprise.

This month I read:

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick: I gushed about it here (and you could win a SIGNED book by just commenting on this post…)

PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry : This one was also very good, it had different types of characters. I explained why I enjoyed it here (hint: layered characters, siblings and hot romance)

CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers: Wow! This book is the first one I read from Courtney Summers and definitely not the last. It´s  very raw but also very true and I connected with the main character who wanted to be perfect. All the time. And then doesn´t know how to deal when it collapses. Really really good.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT´S NIGHTMARE by Kody Keplinger: Kody is a must-buy for me. I really enjoyed her two first books and this one didn’t disappoint!

THE ONE THAT I WANT by Jennifer Echols: I picked up this one based on Jessica’s Bookanista Review and I don’t regret it one bit! Really, to get the full picture, you should read Jessica’s review 😀 Like her, I agree that the book actually makes us understand the dysfunctional relationship which sometimes can happen between friends and thus, give a reasoning behind some of the main character’s actions. Plus the swoon-factor is major!

So as you can see, I was on a contemporary kick, probably since I was finishing up my novel, I was trying to immerse myself in the same genre.

The one that totally took me by surprise though was: SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY by Susan Dennard! I loved it and I highly recommend it! I picked it up based on Katy´s recommendation and she does a fabulous job in explaining why this book is great (so go ahead, read her review and then come back to know why I loved it too :D)

Okay, thanks for coming back! So, why did I love it?

I have never read Steampunk before and it has some elements of it…Very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

  1. The writing. Really, you can feel like you´re with Eleanor in the streets of Philly looking for her brother. You can feel the corset and you can laugh and open wide eyes when Eleanor discover more than what she bargained for.
  2. Eleanor. Talk about a girl with character! And she just appears very human, like you could hand her an umbrella through the pages of the book and tell her “aim for the knees”. Disclaimer: I usually do not talk to my books. Or only rarely
  3. Daniel. Oh Daniel. So annoying and so charming. Loved Daniel!
  4. The story. It has action, it has feelings, it has romance…it has friendships and it has that little something something which creates magic in a book!

I am SO looking forward to the sequel!!! (and it is going to be set in Paris….)

So, tell me, what book pleasantly surprised you recently?

Books, reading, Road Trip Wednesday

My Life as a Fictional Character…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Before I get started, don´t forget you can enter my giveaway for a SIGNED copy of MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick (see interview with Huntley and details here)

This week’s topic: : If you could be reincarnated as any fictional character, which would it be?

So, for some reason, the first things that came to my mind were:

  1. All the books I wouldn´t want to be in even though how I loved them very very much. No, really, I don´t see myself listening to “And may the odds be ever in your favor” as I walk into The Hunger Games. Even though, I´d love to meet Katniss and all.
  2. All the boys which should have attended my high school with the specific purpose of sweeping me off my feet (until I met my wonderful hubby of course :P).
  3. Some of said-boys are actually in the first category aka places I´d be afraid to put my feet into or just part of very very sad stories or sad families. Oh Jonah Griggs, how I wish you´d have been in my Sociology or Math class but nope.

So, hmm, what to do? what to do? Yep, I´ll totally be Anna from Anna and the French Kiss.

Paris – Source: me 😀
Tour Eiffel. Picture taken in 2009 😀

Why? Well, there are plenty of reasons but here a few…

  1. She lives in Paris
  2. Etienne St-Clair – do I need to say more?
  3. She has goals and friends and hobbies and dreams. And Etienne. And Paris 😀
  4. Her family has positive sides. Love her little brother.

Now I am curious, if you could be into a book, which one would it be?

Road Trip Wednesday, writing

Creative inspiration, where art thou?

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: When you need creative inspiration, where do you go?

While thinking about this question, I realize I go to a lot of places to find creative inspiration. Sometimes it’s not a conscious choice. Other times I just need the extra push to my creativity buttons. Here is my list of places I find my muse hanging out.

1. In Jaime’s WiP and talking to Jaime I´m amazed by how my creative buttons open easily while critiquing Jaime’s work. It forces my brain to look at the written words in different ways. I am amazed by the magic she created in places while I try to polish other places by making them tighter but overall I am just super duper (yes super duper) grateful to read her manuscript and to get the push I need for mine at the same time. Plus, talking about my WiP with her helps me to bring on many ideas and triggers my creative inspiration in many ways!

2. Pinterest: Yes, it’s full of shiny, possible distracting things but when I am in need of visual creativity to better describe something or an atmosphere, it is quite helpful. Sometimes it also comes while I’m not looking for it, just browsing randomly. The other day, I search for shirtless soccer players. Yes. It’s research.

                                                                                                                                Source: Uploaded by user via Elodie on Pinterest

3. Youtube or Itunes:  Music helps me to get in the mood sometimes or to think about a certain scene or just inspires me at the most random times.

4. Jogging: With my running shoes on, I seem to encounter my muse more often than not. The plots of my book seem to come rushing back to me, new ideas shine through. Okay, I also complain a lot sometimes about how tired I am before I go running but it is worth it on many levels.

5. Reading books in my genre: I read a lot of YA contemporary romance these days, I see what works and what I love about them. It gives my creativity a bit of a hint of where I want it to go and where I’d like to take some risks…

6. Reading non YA books: Sometimes I also just need to let my mind venture to other pastures so it recharges on something completely different. This helps my creativity to recharge as well 😀

7. Reading blogs or tweeting or people watching: People are just a wonderful source of creative inspiration!

8. Taking pictures: I think it has to do  in using a different part of your creativity which triggers the one I need for my WiP. Can work magic.

A walk in Mainz…

9. Talking with my husband: I use him as a sound board sometimes. Yes, he does nod to everything I say writing-related (everything else not so much :D) but at least I said those ideas out loud and for some reason that helps to. It can also happen for the Chemical Engineer to reassure me that said-ideas are not totally crazy and do make sense. I need this sometimes to rock the creativity boat.

10. In the shower: Yes. I seem to work out plots and get random creative inspiration in the shower.

So tell me, which is the most random way for you to get your creative inspiration?

Books, Road Trip Wednesday

June – Best Book of the Month…

Today is Road Trip Wednesday 🙂 RTW is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: What was the best book you read in June?

This month, I’ve read 4 Young Adult books and 2 romantic suspense novels 😀 All of them were amazing. Looking at the YA stories I immersed myself in, it will be tough to come up with a favorite but I´ll try my very best. I will do this post a bit differently by just writing words which for me symbolize my reading experience and link my full review when available (I have already reviewed 2 out of the 4 :D)

SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson: Family. Love. Growing up. Tragedy. Tears. Friendships. (full review here)

IF I STAY by Gayle Forman: Tragedy. Tears. Life. Music. Hope. Family. Love.

WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman: Recovery. Anger. Love. Music. Family. Scars. Love.

THE SELECTION by Kiera Cass: Love. Heart. Power. Family. Privileges. (full review here)

While I loved all of them, I will pick WHERE SHE WENT for this month because I am so unused to read something from a guy´s perspective. Being in Adam´s head felt like a privilege, like I really could understand his thoughts process and the emotions were just so raw and beautiful and true.

His relationship to Mia and to her family made me tear up a few times.  There were also moments I wanted to shake him but mainly I just wanted to hug him and tell him that I was sorry, that he too suffered from the tragic accident not only by losing Mia at first but by losing his second family.

If you want a book which will tear you apart while slowly building you back together and on top of that, reread sentences because they’re mesmerizing, you should go and pick up both IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT.

Truly amazing.

So, tell me if you could describe your favorite book of June in only one word: what would it be?