Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Yep... I have to do it again. This time, however, I am finally going to write a short heads-up post.

Life got overwhelming, really fast. Beyond issues at the workplace, my school load piling higher and higher, concerns about my future, minor health issues, and so on and so forth; I can't really bring myself to focus on much writing let alone blogging.

I'm hoping to get most of these issues figured out by the end of October. So, until then, I wouldn't expect to see much here.


On a happier note, most of you will already know this if you're friends with me on Facebook, but... I finished the book series I've been writing!

It's the book series this blog is named for, in fact - the Flame Cycle. I've been writing this series since I was 11 years old. Nine years of writing, four novels, and an incredible journey. 

Now, I have a ton of editing to do, but the fact I've hit the finish line on all of the first drafts is pretty intense for me since this series is what got me into writing as a professional goal (I had written just as a hobby before). These characters have been with me through everything - my crappy junior high years, enduring high school, graduating with me out of high school and out of my community college...

Their stories may be "over," but I doubt I'll ever let them go. No author should ever let their stories go, even if they move onto something else. When you pour your heart into something you've written, you can't step back and just move on. You'll always leave a piece of yourself with that work.

That's why it's so wonderful to be a writer. When you write, you're giving yourself to the words, and in essence giving a part of yourself to your readers. It's one of the most magical things about writing.


And with that, I'm going to end it here. I'll see you guys as soon as I can figure everything out and, if I can, I'll try to slide in a post here or there. Remember why you write and keep at it. (: Write on!

~~~I will still be posting for Danielle Shipley's FINAL BOOK of The Wilderhark Tales! Don't forget to check back in for those and go see more information on her blog!~~~

Monday, August 17, 2015

Random Monday: Community College

In May I graduated with an Associate's Degree in the Arts. Something that struck me as odd was that I didn't feel quite as excited as some of the people graduating with me. Regardless, it was still an enjoyable night of my life. There was a hot gym, not a lot of seating, a 'powerful' statement from my state governor claiming to make our state "the greatest nation on Earth," and diplomas. 

College has been one of the best educational experiences I've ever had. In high school I dealt so much with classmates who didn't care about education and spent most of their time hassling my teachers (or me). High school wasn't a good time.

College is where you meet the people who care. They want their degree, they want their education. Whether it be because they're paying for it or because they simply enjoy learning, they do their best. I didn't have to dread group assignments anymore because most of my teammates put in proper effort. There are the party-people, but they still do their best in classes.

Now, I went to a community college, so the classes were reasonably smaller than they might have been. My biggest class had maybe 35 people. That's huge to me, considering I graduated in a class of 13. With these smaller classes, the teachers were able to offer much better one-on-one help. They could also take a more personal interest. I will always remember my days here fondly just due to my Composition and Literature teachers. 

Assignments in high school usually came across as easy to me, unless they were math related. I rarely had to study, made study guides only if I had to... Hell, in high school, we got study guides for use during finals sometimes. Yeah. College challenged me, and I liked that. 

So it was with bittersweet emotions that I took my diploma on the stage and turned my tassel. It didn't really feel like the end. After all, I'm still going to transfer to a university, but I'm still a student at this college despite having graduated! I have to finish out a certificate (one-year program) that I'd started last semester. It still feels like it deserves a post on my blog, though, because it was a big experience in my life - one that obviously kept me away from my blog for some time.

If anyone reading this ever doubts that college would do anything for them, at least try some classes at a community college. A lot of people claim community colleges to be "not as good" as universities, but I promise they're wrong. In some ways, I bet community colleges are better.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

BRT: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Number of Pages: 338
My Rating: 3/5
Released: November 15, 2011

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I'm more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

I've actually read Shatter Me a number of times, but never got around to reviewing it. I reread the entire trilogy recently, so I figured to review all three over the next three weeks. 

Shatter Me has both strong and weak points. One strong point is its own self-awareness. The heroine, Juliette, is - in a word - unstable. Her thoughts read off like rambling, similar to the way words are struck out in the summary. Now, when I say the book has self-awareness, I mean that Juliette is very much a Mary Sue, but the book doesn't deny this. She knows she's ridiculous at points and has an understanding that her thought process is wrong. I do like that about Juliette's character, other flaws aside.

The strikeouts are an abundant stylistic choice in the book, one that I found irksome at first but came to admire. It's a rather neat way to see what she's thinking while denying those thoughts. They do become weak points at times due to the writing. If you want a book that DEFINES "purple prose," this is your book. Sooo much purple prose. Regardless, the writing remains interesting enough. I do think that the writing will be a hit-or-miss with a lot of readers, however, so it's best to get this from a library this before buying it.

Another strong point goes to plot pace. Nothing is too rushed and nothing is too slow. Everything happens when it feels like it should; nothing feels forced. While I'm at it, I'll also give a strong point to description. The descriptions alone make this world seem believable and immersive.

Two weak points go to characterization and world building. 

-Just because the book is aware that Juliette is a Mary Sue doesn't make it okay. She spends most of the book whining, crying, and drooling over the boys. ...All the boys. Her main love interest (it isn't even love, this is lust), and...the villain?! Yeah. Even this villain, who's maaaaybe the most developed of all the characters, is one of the smexiest people in the book, and therefore it's okay she drools over him. Because he's bee-a-you-tee-ful. 

-The world building could have worked so much better. Here's what we know: The Reestablishment claimed they could fix the world and went back on that and everything went to hell. Oh, and it's ruled by this faceless dude. ...That's the only backstory we get. It's a very "Big Bad" cop out. Somehow the world got so polluted that everything's wrong and people are suffering. How? Why? Humanity never got their act together? The [Shatter Me] world may never know.

Now for the plot itself:

I liked it. From a lot of reviews I've seen, people found it tired or convenient or annoying. I can see where all these people come from. For example, like I've mentioned, the writing can be agitating. I honestly didn't notice some of the more awkward metaphors within the prose, mostly because this book is a very fast read. The plot kept me moving.

The idea of this girl with a lethal touch being recruited against her will by a man who wants to use her power as a weapon enticed me. The coincidence that one of her 'guards' was a childhood friend was convenient, but I didn't mind it. I enjoyed the trials Juliette had to face with Warner (the antagonist) and her thoughts trying to develop from cornered-Mary-Sue to something more. The twist at the end regarding Juliette's power remains one of my favorite parts.

Shatter Me, despite its claims, contains very little action. About the most involved action scene occurs after a low-key attempted rape.  One bullet and it's over. This book is mainly about the emotions and the romance with some paranormal add-ins and a lot of mental abuse on the antagonist's part. 

Judging by this review, it doesn't seem like I liked it as much as I did. It is true that I recommend getting it from a library before deciding to buy it. I got it for $3 as a clearance deal. I enjoyed the strikeout stylistic choice, the pacing - the stuff I listed above. The book is problematic, relies heavily on love-at-first-sight ("It's the bird from my dream so we are MEANT to be!!"), and there is a lot of whining. I...just happened to enjoy reading it. For some reason.

...I do wish I hadn't bought the two sequels at full price though. More to come on that next week. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

W3: Storyboards

Writing can be the most frustrating thing in the world, especially if you want minute details in a fast-paced situation. Details like the color of someone's shirt or whether the right or left hand is holding something can be a bane.

A couple days ago I reached a point in my WIP where one of my characters is in a combat scene. Back in grade school I had no difficulties whatsoever coming up with details for fights. The inspiration came, snap-snap-snap!

Long story short, I miss those days, haha. I'm not sure what's so different about how I write now that makes it hard for me to keep those details in place. Today my fights seem a lot of "he did this, she did that, he did this, she did that, okay-let's-finish-this-I'm bored." 

Normally my remedy for this kind of situation is to act it out while I'm home alone. Talking, choreographing, music optional. Since I've been juggling around work, school (even in the summer!), and Tae Kwon Do classes, my alone-time has reasonably shrunk. 

My storyboard. How did I differentiate
the fighters, you ask? Well, one
stayed on the right and one of the left.
...Genius, I know. 
I tried something new one day at work while it was slow. I grabbed a piece of paper, drew a big grid on it, and created a storyboard. Nothing fancy at all - just stick figures and arrows with sketched 'special effects.' It served its purpose, though. I now have a detailed, recorded idea of how I want this fight to go.

Point being that storyboards are the type of thing you only see for movies, cartoons, or other media. Not a lot of people apply it to writing. I suggest giving it a try the next time you're stuck on small details/events. Events are also a little easier to X out prior to the actual writing. 

It's easier to get creative with the storyboards if you have the right resources too. Something I want to try next time I do this, if I have to, is color-coding characters (since stick figures are much easier to work with). It'll allow more flexibility than I had with my board.

Just a thought for you all who might be having some writer's block!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Random Monday: Smoothies

Trying out a new font, everyone.

I'm not a big fruit fan. 

Now believe me, I've tried. I can handle the classics - apples, oranges, grapes - but give me a banana or a piece of cantaloupe and I'm going to recoil. I've just never had a taste for them, until I tasted a smoothie on the day of my college's welcome fair two years ago.

It was a strawberry banana smoothie, one of THE staple smoothies, and I was reluctant to try it but, to be honest, it looked appetizing. The smoothie consisted of only a few swallows anyway, so I got one (for free) and tried it - and loved it.

It took me a few weeks to realize, "Oh. I can make those." I got my mom's old blender down and dug some frozen fruit out of the fridge, putting together what looked good. Voila, I consider this to be my signature smoothie: the strawberry-pineapple-mango-peach smoothie.

Making smoothies turned out to be a strong point last semester when, for a business course, we created a business with smoothies as its main menu. I got to really expand my own menu by making new recipes.

There were a few failures - blueberry pear and apple kale weren't great - but some like mango pineapple were fantastic. 

Anyway, the point of this is that, texture can sort of change the concept of taste dramatically. Just because I don't like cantaloupe doesn't mean I don't like the smell of it. Maybe if I tried it in a smoothie I'd like it better. 

So if you find a food you don't really like, instead of condemning it, try it cooked or prepared a different way. A few weeks ago I had broccoli as a part of a stir fry and adored it, even though I despise it raw. Heck, maybe thinking of it like this can give a character in a book a special perk. Possibilities are endless.

Here's some tips for making smoothies:

1. Use REAL juice. Not V8 Fusion. I did for a while, but the smoothies were always so sweet it could make me queasy if it was a big smoothie. You can use water, too, but I personally hate the taste of watered down fruit. Watered down anything, really.

2. Freeze your fruit (unless you're sensitive to cold things). I'm of strong belief that a cold smoothie is one of the best things ever. Not only that, but you can't make a ton of smoothies and drink them all within a couple days. Freezing your fruit can give you months of time until you're ready to make your smoothie. 

3. Use ENOUGH juice/water. Otherwise your blender is going to have so much trouble chopping up your fruit, especially if it's frozen, and it's agitating for everyone and everything involved. I find that pouring in enough juice to keep it equal with the fruit prior to blending does a good job. 

4. There's very little difference between pre-frozen fruit and freshly chopped fruit. Sure, there's a feel of more 'authenticity' if you chop it on your own, but I personally have never had an issue with simply getting a bag of frozen strawberries from Wal-Mart and using that. It's actually easier when I'm in a pinch.

5. Remember that you can preserve smoothies for a couple days. For my class I made 4 liter-sized smoothies. For optimum time, make sure the smoothie fills almost all the way up to the lid to keep oxygen out, and make sure the lid is tightly sealed. 

6. When blending, blend until it's swirling like a funnel at the top of the mixture without any pauses or chopping sounds. This means you won't have any fruit chunks. If you want the chunks, just stop earlier.

7. Toss in some greens. Just a handful of spinach can do it. I don't do this too often, admittedly, but mainly for aesthetic reasons. Believe it or not, you can barely taste greens when you put them into a smoothie, but it makes it SOOOOOO healthy! I just don't like the color it makes my smoothie, that's the only reason I don't do it often.

8. Get creative! I haven't found a smoothie that pears work well in yet, but considering how good they taste, I'm determined to find something. 

Finally, here's the recipe for my 'signature' smoothie:
1 cup frozen strawberries, diced into halves
1 cup diced mango and/or peach and/or pineapple
1 and 3/4 cup of your choice of juice (preferably something tropical, I use an orange pineapple blend)
Blend until smooth. 3 servings - or one... 

Have a happy Monday!
I'm off to drink my strawberry pineapple smoothie. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

BRT: The Sky-Child and Other Stories by Danielle E. Shipley

Title: The Sky-Child and Other Stories
Author: Danielle E. Shipley
Number of Pages: e-book
Rating: 5/5
Released: July 7, 2015

Born into a world his heart knows as beneath him, an extraordinary boy becomes a man of music, hopeful that someday he’ll find a way higher.

As the first day dawns, a world comes awake, order and disorder striking a dangerous balance.

Under the stars, a princess and tailor trade age-old lore, little dreaming of the future that could trap them in the past.

All of it in, around, and far above the timeless trees of Wilderhark, the forest whose secrets reveal themselves slowly, if ever at all.

Tales of beginnings. Tales of quests for belonging. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew something of Wilderhark’s tales. Now for the stories that fall in between.

W O R L D    B U I L D I N G.

I'm one of those people who has trouble with creating lore in a fantasy/futuristic world. So, whenever I see a world that's very much had its homework done, I take heed. The moment I knew this work's title, the world building is what I was anticipating and very much looking forward to.

Gant-o-the-Lute's background is much more heavily explored in this addition to the Wilderhark Tales. For any who might have been confused about him or wondered about his past, or just want more content with him, this is your read! As far as origin stories go, Lute's is fantastic. It explains how he came to be minstrel, his gifts from the beginning, his parents, and how he came to meet Viralei. On an off note, I thought I noticed a lack of continuity regarding that, but I'm sure it's how long it's been since I read The Seventh Spell because I know Danielle wouldn't have missed something like that.

(That should tell you something about the faith you can put in this author.)

After The Sky-Child's conclusion, the Other Stories that take place regard different characters. We see some flash fiction between Sula and Villem (Fluff! <3) and a piece with Sigmund, delving more into the characters than the world around them. But then - then comes the story of the Sun and Moon.

As far as creation tales go for a fictional world, this instantly ranks one of my top favorites. I had to read this story twice just to absorb and enjoy it all properly. Another story somewhat branches off of this later into the installment as well, regarding some of the rougher times the world has gone through due to troublesome winds and a difficult Sun (and son). 

After that, the installment Starheart includes some more world-building and fluff regarding Edgwyn and Rosalba. (For anyone who doesn't know what fluff is - I just refer to it as a rather cute scene between two characters being romantic). The differentiation between what the world thinks of the Stone Kingdom legend versus the reality of it is explored here. 

Two more stories fill the pages - Affected and A Gallivanting Soul. The former takes place during The Seventh Spell and the latter finishes Gant-o'-the-Lute's backstory.

You will cry. If you don't cry, you will at least tear up.

As usual, the writing and pacing are flawless. You never get bored reading this book and there's always more to learn about the world of the Wilderhark Tales. Danielle Shipley will always give you just enough to satisfy you, but the moment you know there's going to be more - well, you're probably pre-ordering it, or waiting to have that option. 

The characters remain as investing and lively as always, leaping out of the pages and into the reader's soul. Not many writers have the ability to connect to their characters and let their characters connect to readers the way this writer does. We may cringe at some of the attitudes the characters have or ponder on why some characters act the way they do, but in the end, we relate, and we understand.

The Sky-Child and Other Stories has, once again, proven itself a worthy successor to the series, even as an in-between book. It does read a bit like a stand-alone, not too heavily requiring the knowledge of prior books to understand it, but for the full enjoyment I would highly recommend you read the others. You never know, though. Maybe this will be the book that captures you for this series!

{This review is quite late! I unfortunately had to open at work today and then attend a Tae Kwon Do meeting this evening, so I had been stretched on time. I hadn't had time to write it last night. Either way, it's still Thursday, and the review is still true. Enjoy your night and your upcoming Friday!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cover Reveal: THE STORY'S END by Danielle E. Shipley (Wilderhark Tales #7)


The end is nigh, I don't know if I can take it. I don't know if I can say goodbye to it, but believe it or not, it's coming!

Seriously, if you haven't been able to read Danielle's books, please do so. Her writing is so amazing and you will not be sorry. The Wilderhark Tales is the most wonderful combination of returning your childhood and taking a new and fresh twist on fairytale lore perfect for any age. 

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.
The Story’s End
Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales

<> ~ <> ~ <>
 An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all. You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love. Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.

 I'm so honored to have been able to share the cover reveals, the book reviews, the giveaways, and everything that has to do with the Wilderhark Tales. It's an unforgettable tale of true love for so many people in so many ways, and if you haven't yet, I hope you'll join us for the end of the tale. A number of characters are waiting to welcome you with open arms!

And of course, for the person who gives these characters their voice to be heard in our world:

Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she’s probably blogging about it at

 Definitely go check out her blog. Not only does she keep it more updated than me (*Slumps to corner of shame*), she has some fantastic and fun content on there too! 

So glad I've been able to take this journey with you all. To close this, here's the general information on the final book of the Wilderhark Tales. 

Genre = fairytale novella
Release date = October 13, 2015
Available to add to your Goodreads shelf 

Future availability = Paperback (Amazon and CreateSpace) and e-Book (Kindle and Nook)

October 13, here we come!!
Expect a review of Wilderhark 6.5, The Sky-Child and Other Stories, this Thursday! 

I hope you're all having a GREAT summer! 
(Especially since it's almost over. Nice going, self.)