Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lessons Learned From NaNoWriMo 2017

Writing is both intimate and something I am happy to share.
November is the month to do both!
NaNoWriMo, a writing challenge, gives us (those who strive to complete a novel),
 the opportunity to kick up the dust by focused, intense goals.

In my opinion, everyone who enters is a winner at some level.
The first step, the commitment to write and begin is an awesome leap. 
Hard to describe the before and after, only that it involves a shift.
As immense as the tectonic plates on Earth and as subtle as taking a breath.


And so I'm very, very pleased to share the news. Yes! Yes!
I finished Book #2 of an off-beat dark humor thriller set in South Dakota
Badlands Fandango.
The second book, Blood Money, still needs a truckload of revisions but
the skeleton of the story is done.

If you've taken part in NaNo, hats off to you, too.
Take bow. You deserve it!
What are 5 things I've learned?

1. Write every day without fail. Even if it's only ten minutes.

 2. Plan, plan, plan where the story is going. 

3. Use visuals to inspire and motivate.

4. Details. Forget adjectives and adverbs, saturate yourself in sensory details, envisioning where the character is and what he or she is doing, seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling.

5. Get to know your character inside and out. Imagine their wallets, closets, preferences for things like toothpaste to weather to music. Allergies? Phobias? Dreams. Last book read. Then writing them becomes second nature. 

There are many more things I've learned. Most striking is that the writing community is beyond supportive. If you have an inkling for a story, then sign up for NaNo. You won't be disappointed.
 I promise.
Alina


Monday, November 27, 2017

What warms your heart?

Happy holidays and Cyber Monday, y'all! Cheers to everyone in the blogosphere scoring great deals today and this weekend. Yours truly went...regional shall we say in terms of her shopping. Mr. Snow and I drove to Kentucky to put together this gem of a sound system. Road trip!!

All in all, Thanksgiving weekend was well spent on food, family and football. My husband and I went to our first Vols game as 'Dores fans.






Do we have any football fans out there? Comment with your favorite NFL or college team! Extra points if you have a fantasy team. *Wink*

Days like this bring back memories of my dog Callie bounding through piles of leaves as a puppy, drinking hot apple cider, football, and time spent with my family during football season and holidays. But there is also something else that I get excited about, and maybe you do too. I get excited about reading or listening to heart warming holiday romance stories. Top 3 quick picks for me are Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs, Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber, Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas, and Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery.


Does the main character come back home for the holidays?
Does it have families coming together after a feud?
Does it have a happy romantic ending near a Christmas tree or in a town square?
Is there perhaps an angel or mysterious character matchmaking or making wishes come true?
Is there a restaurant, bakery or Coffee shop that everyone bustles in and out of?
Are there town gossips, sages, or precocious children enriching the town landscape?

I'm down for all of it. It's one my seasonal guilty pleasures.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Autographed Copy of Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater Giveaway Starts Today

Black Friday Book Bonanza is here!
Where are you?


A big thanks to co-hosts Marlene at Reading Reality 
and Kimberly at The Caffeinated Book Reviewer 
for this 7th Annual Black Friday Book Bonanza.
It runs from November 24 - 27, 2017.

Are you a fan of cool temperatures? Maybe even extremes?
Then try an autographed copy of the Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater on for size.
The Cold. The Heat. 
THE SHIVER
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, 
it cannot be denied.

Sam must fight to stay human- and Grace must fight to keep him- even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.
Yes, it says "For Bob Dylan"
A funny story Maggie Stiefvater relayed about visiting a woman who said Bob Dylan came to her door.  It was part of the inspiration for Maggie's new book All The Crooked Saints



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Back to the store, again!

This year would be different, I said. 
This year we'd have less stress, I said.
This year I'd be more organized and not wait until the last minute to go shopping, I said. Ha!
Still, it is no surprise that at 8pm, the night before Thanksgiving, I already know that I'll have to go to the store tomorrow morning for eggs. Such is life.

My husband and I for the first time in many years will not host the massive family Thanksgiving feast. A welcome change to me since we are staying with friends while we close and work on our own home. Instead, we are opting for a more intimate gathering in which we can really revel in each other's company. We can actually converse, instead of just making out every other word through the din of voices in the living room. Fewer people, fewer dishes, more leftovers, and hopefully less waste.

Tonight and tomorrow while I work my way around the kitchen, I'll be listening to (hopefully) a few cozy Thanksgiving mysteries and romances. Check out this sweet list from Goodreads, and this list from Cozy-Mystery.com.


What are your favorite holiday audiobooks, books, and podcasts?
What dishes will you and your family enjoy tomorrow? 



Friday, November 17, 2017

Replaying Favorites

Hanging out with friends, by a cozy fire and still feeling this gratitude groove tonight. You never know what hand life will deal you. 


So it behooves me to give thanks for all the wonderful people in my life, my little pupper Callie and the moments we get to share. Of course, I'm thankful for the readers who visit this blog. And since my friends and I just swapped favorite books, it seems only natural to be thankful for those books too.
As you know, I'm giving away a digital copy of Janet Evanovich's new book Hardcore Twenty-Four. But seriouslyHer Stephanie Plum mysteries and Max Holt romance series were some of my first genre reads and still remain my favorites. Every year, I go back and re-read her previous titles before the new release. You want humor? Action? Steamy romance? She gives you all three in spades.

Other all time favorite reads included Isabel Allende's The House of Spirits and Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. These books are classics for good reason. My heart soared and I also cried while reading these books.
What are your faves? Whats on your TBR list?



Currently reading: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde,
The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas,
and Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Gratitude, book giveaway, let me count the ways.

November heralds in the giving season! Talk about whirlwinds. Both in spirit and weather (thanks La Nina!). I'm so excited this year, being a new blogger and writer, to share my love of books with YOU!
The Gratitude Giveaway is underway, from 11/15 thru 11/30. 
Hosted by the awesome BookHounds


What's a gratitude giveaway you say?
Well let me tell you...
I'm giving away an e-book copy of Hardcore Twenty-four by Janet Evanovich. She's one of my favorite authors. If haven't read any of her stuff, it's funny, fast-paced, and a great read. Hardcore Twenty-four just released on November 14.



It's easy as pie to enter. Just click on the rafflecopter link and you can enter by following this blog or liking me on FB. That's it. Your name is entered into the drawing. (See rules here).


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Pymetrics

At first when I heard the term, I thought of pies. Wow, a great way to measure pies. Then I thought, no, it's got to do with fire. Like pyro or pyr ( Ο€Ο…ρ) which is Greek for fire. But it was missing the 'rrr' sooo, I had to do some digging.

Pymetrics is a new startup.
It's the brain child of Frida Polli, CEO and a neuroscientist (??? more digging) and Julie Yoo. Polli's a mom who sleeps little, drinks much coffee and seems to love colorful clothes according to reports all over. Their company, Pymetrics, is gaming the hiring process using AI or artificial intelligence for those who have been asleep for the last year (think Elon Musk). Her idea: use tests to separate the wheat from the chaff during the hiring process. Play a game --take a test to determine what you are and are not good at--then hopefully you land a job.

Hmmm. I think I like it. It's a great idea for those of us who don't fall apart during tests. Unfortunately, it also seems a little big brotherish. Or the Matrix. Red pill. Blue pill.
Those wearing white, step to the left.
Green goes right.
⇾πŸ‘€On the positive, for Pymetrics, is they've raised nearly nine million last year.  For employers with cash to burn, Pymetrics can help them determine who to hire, then where to send them, and how to  broaden their net when it comes to a talent search.

According to Forbes, they're in league with other platforms that address hiring like Unitive and WayUp. These two are also headed/started by women. If you want a problem solved...need I say more.

Well, the Rockefeller Foundation has given Polli some $$$ funds to figure it all out.

IN THE MEANWHILE,
I'd like to find out if there is a measurement device for pies.

Thanksgiving is coming up and there must be a way to decide which pie is the perfect one given our menu, likes, and budget.

So really a PIEmetric would be much more useful. Maybe Rockefeller can give me a grant to figure that one out.

Just a thought.
Alina~

Monday, November 13, 2017

Back from Music City

Still in shock and awe over meeting Maggie this weekend. #OMG
But it's back to Knoxville and back to work for this wordsmith.

Trying to snap back in to reality can be rough. How do you recenter your mind?
If you're like me dear reader (**crickets**), then perhaps you, too, appreciate small rituals
 in the morning to help you prepare for the day.

Sometimes a little coffee, sometimes a walk with the dog can help get those juices flowing.

But what really helps (and oddly enough relaxes?) me is the ritual of going to the gym and working out. Don't ask me why but the gym is a place where I feel confident.
Where I achieve small daily goals,
overcome feelings of doubt and anxiety. 

So there you have it. I'm a gym-rat. It's true. 
I also like to think that my gym is the best one there is around. Look at that inspiring quote
from Maya Angelou. (All hail Maya!)






Maggie Stiefvater, Storyteller in the Flesh At Parnassus

If you were as lucky as we were yesterday, then perhaps you caught the truly amazing
YA author holding the Parnassus audience spellbound.
That's right.
Both in person and in her books, author Maggie Stiefvater enthralled Nashville!

 Some readers might know Ms. Stiefvater from previous series that include
The Raven Cycle
or 

The Wolves of Mercy Halls
just to name a few.

 

This last October, All The Crooked Saints was released.
It's new and we were fortunate to hear from about her travels and inspiration
for the 'Saints' (three sibling characters featured in the story) and how the story 
unfolds.
From a '73 Mustang falling apart to the trip to an eye doctor, all were facets in a journey,
both across country as well as into the behind the scenes imagination of this author.



Included were snippets of what it's like to be a writer, one who travels across the country from coast to coast, as well as across the pond; 
then, being pulled out of line at a German airport, and off to faraway places like Bucharest
and being gifted with a set of bagpipes!


Well, not only where we enthralled by this writer's tales but to top off the talk,
Ms. Stiefvater, ended the affair by actually playing the bagpipes.
Seriously funny, captivating, and if you're in the market for a new book,
then give All The Crooked Saints a try.

On that note, GIVEAWAY ALERT.



Coming up shortly are several book blog hops that we're involved in a-a-a-a-n-d
one of the books being give away is none other than an autographed copy of 


All The Crooked Saints
By Maggie Stiefvater.

Stay tuned and you'll be in the running for a copy.
Of sign up for our newsletter and we'll alert you when the giveaway starts!



Sunday, November 12, 2017

Book About A Bookstore

Which books have you read about going to a bookstore?

Here's one that comes to mind in the creepiest of ways.
πŸ™ŠπŸ™‰πŸ™ˆ
YOU by Caroline Kepnes


For a real treat, listen to the audio version. 
It's read by Santino Fontana.
The story is equal parts funny, sad, thriller and moves like quicksilver.


Friday, November 10, 2017

First Post is Always the Hardest

I guess I'm writing to this you.
Ya know who you are.
We meet everyday.
Sometimes at night.
At best, you're silent.
Sometimes, though, you're not.
All it takes one look and I know. God, I know
what you thinking.
But so far you haven't abandoned me.
Not through thick, not through thin. Boy, there's been times,
but then I look up.
There you are.
And I smile. You smile.
What can I say?
'Til the end.

Alina.