Monday, August 29, 2016

In Which the Blog is Not Pink

Hello my dear blogglings/readers!

Guess what? Musings of an Elf has had a total redesign! If you haven’t noticed (haha). Annnd I kinda totally love it. I’ve only been meaning to redo my blog for, oh, a year or so. Not that I would ever procrastinate. No way.



Anyway! I finally took the plunge and spent much of last week prettying up ol’ bloggy. AKA, a complete redo. Even made a new blog button!


Shameless advertising.

So why the major change? Well, for starters, I was getting worried the excess of pink might run people off. Not everyone shares my affinity for pink. Eheh. So don’t worry, my few male followers, you don’t have to be ashamed about reading a pink blog anymore. You’re welcome. (Though, admittedly, it’s still rather girly. My ultra girly-ness cannot be contained. #UNASHAMED)

But more than just getting rid of the pink for people, for a long while now I’ve been wanting a much cleaner, more professional look. If I ever get a book published I want a site that at least looks like I know what I’m doing (even if it’s only pretend, shhh).

Lastly, it was just time for a change and to update things around here. I’ll miss my pink blog, but I’m super happy with the new look, and excited to have things a bit more organized and neat.


I’ve literally been tweaking this blog to death. My ability to be indecisive is so strong it could probably win an Olympic medal.


Me every. single. day.


What do you think of the header? Anything I could do to improve it? How about the sidebar? Everything look good? As for the pages, I will probably be updating them. I added an About Me page and fixed the others pages a smidge, but I didn’t have time to do everything I wanted. (Also blogger pages and me are notorious for battling. It always formats things weird and makes me want to throw my laptop out the window.) (Just kidding, I love you, Laptop. *pets it*)

Basically, I just need your overall opinions about the whole design. Are all the pictures showing up? (Another thing blogger and I fight over. >.>) Do you like how it’s all laid out?

ALSO. The thing I really need thoughts on: How do you like the font I’m using for posts? My old font was sooo small, I don’t know why I’ve been using that for so long. Again, I want a cleaner feel for easier, more pleasant reading. It’s embarrassing how long I took trying to settle on a font and font size. And I’m still totally indecisive about it. *moans* So PLEASE. Tell me! Is this font good for reading and look okay with the design? Is it too big? (DO YOU SEE HOW BAD I AM AT MAKING DECISIONS??? Even simple ones.)

DO NOT HOLD BACK YOUR OPINIONS. You will not, in any way, hurt my feelings. I write this blog for YOU GUYS, and I want to give you the best experience possible here at Musings of an Elf.

Speaking of which…

Not only am I improving the blog’s look, I want to make my content the best it can be. I think I’ve started to find my niche with blogging. (It only took my like 5 years. *rolls eyes*) But, again, I write it for YOU. I don’t want to bore you guys to death.

So my question is this:

What kind of posts do you want from me?

Are there any types of posts I do that you’re not wild about? (It’s okay! You can tell me. Please!) What kinds of posts do I write that are your favorite?


Do you have any specific posts you’d like me to write?

This is mostly a writing blog, so if there are any writing thoughts/helps/questions/opinions/ramblings/etc. you want from me, TELL ME. Or just bookish discussions. Or lifely things. Or…most anything really. And you can tell me any time at all. If you ever have an idea of a post I could do, share it! I’m on a constant hunt for blog ideas (coming up with ideas every week is tiring *collapses*), and I want to make sure I’m writing things you guys actually want to read, so TELL ME WHAT TO WRITE. Share your ideas.

I absolutely love blogging and connecting with my readers and fellow blog buddies. All you guys are the BEST! *hugs for everyone* I can’t thank you each enough for being interested in my nonsensical ramblings. And I want to strive to make this place something you do actually want to continue reading.

SO GIMME YOUR THOUGHTS. (Or do I have to buy them for a penny? A penny for your thoughts…? Ahem.)

Okay, okay, I am done plaguing you guys with questions. (But my indecisiveness has no bounds! I need help.)

Well, since basically this whole POST is
questions (sheesh, Christine >.>), I really don’t need to
add more. But let’s recap: Do you like the new design?
Anything that could use tweaking? AND do you have any
types of posts you’d like to see from me? DON’T
HOLD BACK. Honest thoughts are my fave.

Monday, August 22, 2016

My Step by Step Editing Process

I have this total fascination with seeing how people produce their books. Is it not the coolest thing ever that we ALL create our books a little differently? It’s just the best gleaning ideas from one another and trying new methods. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever written a story the same way twice. Sometimes I make subtle changes to a familiar process, while other times I completely throw out said process and try something drastically new. AND I LOVE IT. It keeps my interest in the story and helps me learn what works best for me. Who knows if I’ll ever have one specific way I make books. BUT THAT’S OKAY. My short attention span is happy trying 29834 different methods.

ALL that to say, I thought it’d be fun to share with you my process for editing Burning Thorns. Since editing is a new thing for me, it was all a mad experiment. But I was actually quite pleased with how this process went. (Though knowing me I’ll edit every single book completely differently. That’s how I roll. *dons sunglasses*)

NOTE: Before I even sort of started editing, I took a many-month break from the story once the first draft was finished. I think that’s crucial. We all need some time away from our story before tearing it apart, so we can distance ourselves from it and come back to it with fresh eyes.

STEP #1:
Read Through and Note-ify

This was definitely the easiest and most fun step.

First things first, I knew I needed to get a full overview of the story before I could properly edit anything. Gotta see what actually needed editing. So I put it in a PDF format, sent it to my tablet (I hate reading on a computer screen, so tablet to the rescue!), and just read it while adding notes here and there. (I’ve found PDFs are easiest for me to make notes on with my tablet, but I know everyone has their own favorite formats.) My notes were things as small as typos to awkward dialogue to things like “MAJOR PLOT HOLE HERE”. This was also the first time I had read through the story since finishing the first draft, so it was really great seeing how the whole thing came together.

Since I have a memory akin to a pebble (i.e. tiny and useless), half of the time I don’t even remember what happens in my novels. #truestory So I had to read the whole thing together to get a full view and see what kind of major changes were going to be needed.


STEP #2:
Formatting (Blerrrgh)

This is probably the LAST step you’re supposed to do, but I DO WHAT I WANT.

I’m a very visual and perfectionist-y person and want my document to look as neat as possible. Unfortunately, formatting documents is a paaaain (for me anyway). I get a massive headache figuring out the industry standard for formatting. But it’s vital when you start sending out your manuscript to publishers. I mean, I guess I shouldn’t send a manuscript with pink text and a million different fonts. Pft.

THANKFULLY, God blessed the world with Jill Williamson (a.k.a one of my favoritest of favorite authors) who put up a whole video tutorial series on how to properly format your document. She used Microsoft Word, but the same rules apply to any program I’d think. You may just have to fiddle around to find the tools in a different program.

I did my second draft for Burning Thorns in Google Docs. This was my first time using Google Docs, so it took some practice and was definitely a learning experience, but I liked it for the most part.

Anyways, using Jill Williamson’s videos as a guideline, I set up a new Google Doc with all the proper formatting, so once I started editing, everything would be in its proper place and neat and clean.

Yes, formatting can be headache inducing, but so worth it when you look at your pretty-ful manuscript!


STEP #3:
Time to actually. . .EDIT! *gasp*

OKAY. Once I had read through my manuscript, knew the problems I needed to tackle, and had a fresh, pretty document, it was time to do the real thing: EDIT.

I had decided way early on to retype the whole thing. Yes, the whole 84k word novel. I know that seems extreme, but I thought it would be the best way for me to really edit. If I just read through the document and edited what’s there, I’d end up merely tweaking it and maybe change a sentence here or there, but be too lazy to really rewrite things. Because I fall into that. Just doing typo editing, instead of the heavy duty stuff. #lazy Seeing this giant wall of text is overwhelming. But retyping it gave me a whole fresh document. And since I was going to have to retype the whole thing anyway, it was the push to retype it better and change things.

Sure, this method made the process take muuuch longer, but I’m SO glad I did it this way. First of all, I absolutely love typing. I always have, so I didn’t mind that part. But most importantly, it helped me see my story fresh and new instead of, like I said, just walls of text and jumbled words I’d have to rearrange.


As I said, I was going to do the second draft in a Google Docs, and I had made my notes in a PDF file. So what I did was put the note-ified PDF file on one side of the screen, and the nicely formatted Google Docs on the other, and just started retyping and tweaking the story in the Google Docs.

Here’s a screenshot:


On the left is my PDF file, and you can see a couple of notes there (the red and yellow). On the right is the Google Doc where I was retyping everything and editing as I did so.

I edited it chapter by chapter, word by word. And I did it slow. This was key for me. If I did it all at once and too fast, I’d get lazy and not put in the effort it needed. But for the majority of the time I only ever did a chapter a week. That way, I could really put time into it without getting overwhelmed. The slow, steady pace helped me stay focused and motivated.

So chapter by chapter I went. Retyping, changing things, using my notes as a guideline. I found retyping it made me see it with fresh eyes. When I found a sentence that didn’t sound quite right, instead of thinking, “Eh, it’ll probably be fine,” I thought, “Well, I have to retype it anyway, might as well play around with this sentence until I have it just right.” Same with entire scenes.

But, occasionally, I had “problem scenes” a.k.a scenes that needed major surgery but I just couldn’t get quite right. Which brings us to…


STEP #4:
Test Copy

Technically this is more of a substep, but I’m trying to keep things organized, so roll with it!

SO. Near the beginning-ish of the book there was a plot part that needed a complete overhaul. It was a very important part that I kind of jumped over in the first draft. It needed to be dragged out more and seriously drama’ed up. But the problem was, I had MULTIPLE ideas on how to write this new plot point and could not for the life of me figure out how it would work best. Trying to mess around with it in my clean Google Doc wasn’t working. So I took the first draft of the novel, copied it, and turned that copy into what I named the test copy.

In the test copy, I gave myself permission to “play”. To play around with scenes and tweak the story and see what I liked. I’m an extremely visual person. I have to have the whole story set out in front of me before I can get a full grasp on it. So, in the case of this plot problem, I wrote two or three different versions of the same scene in the test copy document so I could look at them all and compare them and see how well they went with the rest of the story. Sure, it was time consuming, and hard to do when I knew all but one of those scenes would end up not being used. But, as I said, I have to SEE things first. So I don’t regret it one bit. It helped so much seeing what worked best.


My test copy

See that asterisk in the document? In the test copy, I’d separate each test scene with a space and put an * in front of it, to help me know where each new version of the scene started. That scene there didn’t make it into the second draft actually.

Then, once I finally figured out which version of the scenes I wanted in the test copy, I typed it all out and perfected it in the second draft Google Docs manuscript.

I didn’t use the test copy document much, but the few times I did it was so helpful. With that document, I had my story all together and could just destroy it and play with it all I wanted without fear of ruining my pretty second draft copy. It was fun having a copy of Burning Thorns to just twiddle with.


STEP #5:
Read through and send off

Once I had a chapter all retyped in the Google Docs, I went back and read through it (usually twice) to get those last many typos (so maany! *collapses*) and tweaks fixed. A lot of typos crop up when you’re retyping an entire story turns out. At least for me. #TheTypoQueen

THEN I’d copy the finished chapter and paste it into another shared Google Doc for my beta-readers. Google Docs is an AWESOME way to share documents and make notes on with groups, turns out. You can share the link of the doc with whoever you like, which then allows them to open the doc and put notes allll over it. It’s a blast! So once I sent out the new chapter, my amazing beta team would find all the many, many typos I missed and give me the best suggestions and make me squeal uncontrollably with their fangirling. It was so much fun!


Just a little sample of the beta-reader version of the doc.

The original plan was to edit all the advice from my beta-readers as I went, but that ended up not happening. I just had to take it chapter by chapter. The second round of editing will be fixing all the problems my beta team found. I have to work in layers. This first layer was retyping and editing on my own. *nods*

ANYWAYS. Once that was all done, I’d repeat the process with the next chapter—retype, edit as I did, read through it a couple of times, then send the chapter off to beta-readers. On and on for all 36 chapters.


STEP #6:
Type The End and scream on the rooftops “I’M FINISHED!”

I think this step is pretty self explanatory. But entirely necessary. *nods*



During the editing phase I had to have a few helps and tools to keep me sane, obviously.

1.) COFFEE Duuuuh. #1 editing tool right there. Near the end I also took to drinking tea, because here lately I’ve been trying to become a tea drinker. It helps headaches (of which I suffer from), has tons of health benefits, and is just pretty tasty. So win-win!


My usual editing pose.
Funky sock are also an editing necessity. A poodle helps, too.

2.) A.K.A My Bestie. I had this opened in a tab at all times while editing. Can’t think of a stronger verb than “ran”? THESAURUS.COM. It was like my little superhero when my brain lost the ability to come up with better words. (A couple of times my beta-readers commented on a good choice of wording and it was always words I found on the thesaurus. *cough, cough, COUGH* Gotta love it.)

3.) Music Playlist If I have just the right song to fit the scene, I can forget the real world and fall right into my story, which makes me write 3984x better. Music is KEY for my writing. So while I retyped each chapter, I’d have my dedicated Burning Thorns playlist going in the background to spur on my creativity. BUT. Music can also be distracting. When it was all retyped and time to do the read through, I turned off the music and read the chapter carefully in silence, and some parts out loud to make sure it read right.

4.) Pinterest I was constantly glancing at the Burning Thorns’ Pinterest board when I needed a reference to jazz up a certain description of a person or place. (Remember: Totally visual person here.) I also collect writing articles and just in general lots of writing helps on Pinterest, which I referred to if I got stuck on a specific thing or another.

5.) Go Teen Writers Book I’d also often pull out my copy of the Go Teen Writers book if I had a question about something. Seriously EVERY writer should have a copy! It’s my go-to for all things writerly.

6.) Beta-Readers Haven’t we already talked about this? Well, yes, BUT IT NEEDS REPEATING. Now, not everyone wants to send out each chapter as I did. You may edit the whole thing and then send the full document to your beta team. BUT, for me personally, it helped tremendously to have accountability partners during the process. I could never slack off because I had people threatening me with frying pans to get the next chapter edited and sent off. (Don’t mess with fangirls, they’re dangerous.) I also had a ton of encouragement for when I was feeling down. I always had motivation to keep going and do the best I could, instead of trying to edit a whole big novel all by my lonesome and getting tired and discouraged. I don’t know if I’d even be done with editing by now if not for my beta team. THEY’RE MY FAVE.

7.) Google Docs I have mixed feelings on Google Docs. As I said, this was my first time using it. It has a lot of great features. For one, it saves after every single letter you type. Not word. LETTER. Or a space, or a period. Literally if you make ANY change, however minute, it’ll save it right there, and on the internet, so you NEVER lose your work. Ever. And though it IS on the internet, no worries! It also has an offline setting should your internet go out or isn’t available. It has a nice clean look too, with all the features I needed. My biggest problem was its sluggishness. Once I filled it with a lot of words, loading it back up took some time (though this could be my internet, I don’t know). And if I had it open for an hour or more, it’d start lagging. Like I’d type a sentence, but it wouldn’t actually type it for a second or two. When you’re typing like a fiend, this can be very frustrating. Usually closing it and reopening it would fix this, but it was still annoying. But, despite its sluggishness, I LOVED how easy it made sharing files and making notes on with people. So I think I’ve decided to not use it as my dedicated word program, BUT to definitely use it to share files with beta-readers and what-have-you.



Whew! That got way longer than I meant it to. But that’s how the first editing round of Burning Thorns came about! As my first official, serious editing experiment, it went pretty well. Will I always edit this way? Psh. I never do anything the same. But I DID discover a lot of tricks I liked. Retyping the whole thing being my favorite.

But, despite what this looks like, what I was really doing most of the time was slumping in the chair, clutching my coffee, and squinting at the computer screen thinking, “Wut r werds?” #WritersLife


There we have my (very experimental) editing process!
What about you? Do we share any methods? What are
some of your favorite writing/editing tools? DO SHARE!

Monday, August 15, 2016

In Which I (temporarily) Say Fare Thee Well to Editing


Starting in January, I raised my supply of coffee and delved into *cue dramatic music* EDITING.

Bum bum BUMMMM.*

*You know this is an accurate response.

Last year I turned my wee 20k word Beauty and the Beast novella, Burning Thorns, into a full out 84k novel. I’ve been meaning to write a Beauty and the Beast retelling since, like, the beginning of time or so. I absolutely adore retellings, I’m a total fairytale nerd, and B&B is my favorite fairytale. Obviously it was going to happen eventually. Honestly, I’m shocked I’ve only just now gotten around to it. #ProcrastinationOnPoint

Well, I loved my story so much, I knew this was the one. This was the one I wanted to pursue publishing with first. I’ve said that about a few different novels, but I’ve finally (FINALLY) gotten serious about this whole writing thing. And since Beauty and the Beast is such a special part of me, what better debut novel than Burning Thorns? (If I can ever get published. Let’s just sit happily in this make-believe world for a minute, okay?)

But, of course, to actually pursue that daunting thing called publishing, one must actually EDIT.


Let it be know, I’ve spent literally my entire life avoiding editing like the plague. The idea of having to DELETE scenes and CHANGE scenes and totally REWRITE scenes and FIX plot holes and add character development and scour through my hundreds and hundreds of typos and actually make my first drafts READABLE has been enough to make me hide in my closet for 2949385945 years or so and stubbornly refuse to actually try editing. Thus I wrote a badrillion first drafts. But any second drafts? Nada.



Well, guess what? You can’t be a writer without editing. *LE GASP* Horrid I know. But it’s TRUE. Editing is like 87% of the process or something. And, as I said, I’m finally gettin’ serious about this writing business. So, it was decided. This year I would edit Burning Thorns. Even if it killed me. (Which was a probability, I knew.)

After some mental preparation and gathering the best beta-readers EVER (love you guuuys <333) and some coffee (coffee is an editing necessity), it began.

I decided to send each chapter out to my beta-readers as they were edited. Most of the time I only ever did one chapter a week, so the process was sloooow. But that was okay! I didn’t want to rush it just to “get it done”. I wanted to really edit and edit well. I wanted to actually REWRITE things, and make changes that needed it. The only editing I’ve ever really done is minor things like typo fixes and such. But I wasn’t going to let myself fall into that trap this go round. I was actually going to EDIT and make BT the best it could be. Which meant a slow and steady pace.

And I don’t regret it a bit.

Because I wasn’t doing it all at once, I had more room to give each scene the time it needed. And as I took the time to really shape this story of my heart, I discovered something that to this day still shocks me.


I like editing.


*GASP* Horror of horrors! Can it be??? The girl who ducks and hides under her bed at just the mention of editing actually LIKES IT?


It was fun! Sure, there were some hiccups along the way that gave me a couple of headaches, but overall, I loved the process. That’s right. LOVED. Turns out, editing is almost, sometimes, sorta kinda easier for me than first drafting. Because with first drafts, I have to come up with eeeeverything. Every character, every bit of the world, the entire plot, every chapter, every WORD. Literally everything that exists I have to make up!



Then there’s editing. With editing, it’s all already created. Instead of straining my creative muscles to make up entire worlds, I’m just using a feather duster to clean up the already existing world. Sometimes I have to take out the big guns, like the pressure washer, to clear out the extra big messes, but I’m not having to create a pressure washer. Instead of building a house, I’m just cleaning my home. And, well, I like cleaning.


It is so satisfying seeing my messy first draft shape up into something readable.


This story has become a part of me, and I didn’t mind one bit revisiting it and wiping up the grime until it shined.

Then there were my beta-readers, who made this whole editing thing 9394829349x more fun!!! Their enthusiasm and helpful comments and encouragement and fangirling pushed me to keep going, and challenged me to do the best I can instead of some mediocre job. They made me realize being a writer does not, and should not, be a lonely job. There is nothing like having a group of fellow writers to lift each other up in this crazy business called writing.

I’ve never had so much fun working on a story than I have while editing Burning Thorns. I laughed and even cried and drank sooo much caffeine.

Then, as of Wednesday, August 10th, I made it to the bottom of the document where it said “The End”.


I finished editing.



Okay, before I explode the world with fireworks and ride out on my dragons and conquer the earth, I should probably clarify. I finished the FIRST ROUND OF EDITS. I haven’t even begun to fix all the amazing advice my beta-readers have given me. It’s by NO MEANS perfected yet. That’ll be the second round (and probably fourth and fifth and. . .yeah). But (I hope) from here on out it’ll get easier as I go, now that I’ve fixed some major problems, and triumphed over my fear of editing.

So what’s next?

A BREAK. I’ve been slowly but surely editing since JANUARY, and I’m in desperate need of some reprieve. So I’m taking a good writing break for the rest of August and all through September. Then. . .NANOWRIMO PREPPING TIME. Yep, already thinking about that! I know, I know, it’s only August, but November will be here before you knoooow iiiit! (*hears screams in the background*) Yes, you may thank me for reminding you. *smile, smile*

October shall be NaNo prepping month (though I maaay do some minor prepping in September despite claiming I’m taking a break. . .we’ll see). Then of course NaNo itself. December I never write (unless I’m trying to finish up my NaNo novel). I definitely take a break during Christmas holidays. THEN, come January, I shall delve into the second round of Burning Thorns edits and start working on fixing everything my beta-readers pointed out.

So that’s the Christine Writing Plan. (Because I’m sooo official. Obviously. *cough*) For now. We all probably know I’m not good at keeping to plans. *cough, cough* But I’m gonna try!

I hope to very soon actually share HOW I edited. So keep an eye out for that. But for now, I’ll be twirling in circles screaming “I’M FINISHED EDITIIIIING”. Like we do.


feelings on editing? Do you prefer it or first drafting?
(I think I love both, but I could easily write a pros and
cons list for each. Which. . .isn’t a bad idea.)
Share with me your thoughts!

Monday, August 8, 2016

{Book Review} Twinepathy (IDIA #1) by C.B. Cook


Albany York has a secret.

Albany and her twin sister, Brooklyn, have spent years successfully hiding their telepathic connection. But when a girl falls unconscious at their doorstep, the girls learn that they might not be the only people in the world with extraordinary powers and that a memory thief is on the loose. As the twins try to help the girl find her memories, they discover that the superhero world might be bigger—and more dangerous—than they ever imagined.

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | CreateSpace | GoodReads | Author's Blog




The best way I can think to describe this book is: A rollicking good time! Because it WAS.

SO. This is a contemporary superpowers YA thingamabob which is something I’ve NEVER read before, BUT NOW I NEED MORE. Because woooow. This was so fun! Oh. And there’s twins. TWINS. Superpowers and twins. Do I even need to say anything else? I really don’t think I do. SUPERPOWERS AND TWINS, PEOPLE. Okay, okay, fine!


The Rundown:

Albany and Brooklyn (our twinsies) secretly have telepathy and can literally speak to each other’s minds even if they’re in DIFFERENT COUNTRIES. #convenient (I’m sure they save a lot of money on phone bills.) Super Twins status here. But, other than that, their lives have been normal. Until BOOM some little girl falls unconscious on their doorstep and wakes up with amnesia. Next thing the twinsies know, they’re joining IDIA, a secret (gotta keep them secrets) superpower organization thingy. Basically a place that recruits “enhanced” people to be agents and whatnot. Albany and Brooklyn are thrown into a case of a MEMORY THIEF (coolest. idea. EVER.) which ensues much mystery and danger. Also much of it takes place in ANTARCTICA.

Sounds fun, yes? YES.

And how about dat cover? <333

The book is in first person, present tense which is. . .not my favorite. But I actually forgot it even was in present tense after like the first 3 pages. So it obviously worked! This was my first thing to ever read by C.B. Cook. And let me tell you, SOMEBODY HAS SERIOUS TALENT. She puts words seamlessly together to give us a quick, easy read. The descriptions are short and sweet and yet I ALWAYS felt like I was right there. I could see everything perfectly without being bogged down by descriptions somehow. MAGIC STORYTELLING. I just loved the whole style of the book. Albany is our narrator and it FELT like we were inside the head of a teenage girl. Everything was so realistic and witty and well put together. A+ writing right here!

There were two things that struck me within just a few chapters of this book. One, the pacing. The pacing is spectacular! I’m quite picky about pacing in books. Actually in anything. (Probably because I used to be the wooooorst at pacing and have poured out blood, sweat, and tears in my stories trying to get the pacing right. So I think I pay extra attention to it as a result.) The story opens up with the twins playing Go Fish with their older brother Denver (their parents named them all after cities, is that not the coolest idea???), so you get a slight taste of their life, then a few paragraphs later the doorbell rings. CUE THE STORY. No slow parts! But also not overly hectic either. It had just enough information to keep my ever curious mind satisfied, but enough action to keep my short attention span happy.

Which kind of brings us to the second thing that struck me. This book felt like a TV show. And I mean that as the highest of compliments! I absolutely love when a book feels like a good movie or TV show. Some books don’t translate well to movies, but some do. The Hunger Games for example. Those books worked wonderfully as movies because the books just FELT like epic movies. Twinepathy was the same. The entire time I felt like I was watching a new superpower TV show put on by Marvel or DC or somebody. The pacing, the characters, the plot. Total fun TV show feel.

But what about the characters??? Ah yes, my favorite subject!



Albany: She is our narrator, as I said, and quite the little rash human bean. While perusing other reviews, I noticed a lot of people disliking her hasty, irrational decisions because it constantly caused trouble. But I actually. . .liked it? It felt human and realistic to me. She’s naturally a super curious person and can’t stand waiting around. Also following orders isn’t exactly her forte. But I never saw it in a, “NO I SHALL REBEL AND SAVE THE WORLD MYSELF BECAUSE I’M SO BRAVE AND AWESOME” kind of way that does tend to be common with main characters. Her actions were more out of curiosity and wanting to protect everyone. I mean, she only just discovered this secret superpower agency place, and is getting thrown headfirst into all kinds of dangerous situations. Not to mention she suddenly has to trust the judgment of the leader of IDIA after knowing her for like a DAY. I couldn’t entirely blame her (even though I’m a total rule-follower and pushover myself, heh). She also has a lovely character-arc, which I think was the point. And character arcs/growths are my faaaave. So yes, I didn’t have any problems with her recklessness. It was handled well, added good tension, and made for some healthy character growth.

And, as I said before, being inside her head totally felt like being in a modern day, teenaged girl’s head. For example, this is from the 2nd page of the book:

I fly into the kitchen. I’m no cook, but I had to try
the bacon cookie recipe I found. I mean, hello,
bacon and cookies!

I get ya, Albany, I get ya.

Brooklyn: Albany’s twin Brooklyn is a total sweetheart and I want to be her friend in real life. She’s the softer, more social butterfly of the twins (one of the reasons Albany was always trying to protect her, despite orders), and can literally coax ultra powerful, scary men into giving her a cookie recipe. (It happened.) (Also ALL THE COOKIES. Donuts as well are involved in this story. I APPROVE.)

Denver: The twinsles (I like making up words for twins, okay???) ever concerned brother. He was a total awkward penguin and I liked him very much. I’d love to see more of him in later books.

Maddie: She is an adorable girl whom I want to hug forever. The end.

Ezra: This girl was awesome because she’s an introvert with purple hair and does cool things and I just think her character was very unique. So yes.

Jen: This woman intrigued me greatly! Maybe not the easiest person to be all buddy-buddy with, but her cool-headedness always kept things together. I just really liked this woman and MUST KNOW MORE ABOUT HER.

Speaking of which. . .

Anvil: GIVE ME ALL THE ANVIL DETAILS I NEEDS THEM. At first this scary dude seems, well, scary (I’m so eloquent). He’s very detached, but you KNOW he’s actually a deep, deep pool of awesomeness and mystery and I must have answerrrrrssss! (We need more Anvil, C.B.! *puppy dog eyes*)

Blaze: BLAAAAAZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If this isn’t your type of story READ IT ANYWAY. Because BLAZE. He’s a teleporter and just shows up eeeeverywhere, which is the most fun thing EVAH. BUT THIS BOY. He’s witty and hilarious and actually NICE. At first I was thinking he’d be the dark, sarcastic guy I always tend to fall for (oops?). BUT, actually, he’s the other type of male character I love with all my being. The fun, sweet, I’ll-save-your-life-while-making-hilarious-comments type of charrie. But also he has a mysterious (possibly tragic) past. AND JUST LET ME HUG HIM. I want a Blaze in my life, yes I do.

There are others, too, such as Finch and Keller and probably a bunch more I can’t remember right now. But basically, it was a very diverse, fun cast! (BUT BLAZE. <333)

One of my most favorite things about this book were the unique powers. I feel like most superhero things tend to have very mainstream abilities—super strength, invincibility, flying, etc. But not Twinepathy! Sure, there are a few “normal” superpowers. (Funny how we live in a world where we can call superpowers normal. I blame Marvel! Or. . .thank Marvel? Yesss.) Such as the teleportation and telepathy. But then we have other entirely original abilities that made my unique-loving heart flip with joy. SO MANY COOL IDEAS. It was just a blast!

Though I do have a little tiff. The whole title is a play on twins + telepathy and yet there. . .wasn’t a lot of twinsing (totes a word) and telepathy going on. In fact, I wondered multiple times why the twins weren’t speaking to each other with their telepathy. I may have just gotten confused (because that’s what I DO) but on a few occasions Albany was worried about Brooklyn and I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just speak to her sister through their telepathy connection, since it’s apparently easy and natural for them. Also Brooklyn got left in the background a lot which made me sad. Gimme all the fun twinsing and telepathy(ing?) please!

Another thing is it wasn’t a super deep book. Such as we never get an explanation of WHY some people have superpowers. I mean, it seems to be a thing certain people are born with but. . .why? And how have Albany and Brooklyn handled it all their life? We just never get very deep at all into any of the characters and I really wanted to know everything about EVERYBODY. BUT I know some things are coming, because this is only the first book of a series. Also I’m not really saying this wasn’t real deep as a BAD thing. I think the sole purpose of this book is for FUN. And it fulfills its purpose completely.

Oh, and did I mention this book was inspired by MARVEL? Yesssssh.


Content Cautions
NOTHING. This book is perfectly clean. And even though it’s a superhero book, there’s hardly any gore and such. People get beat up and things a bit, sure, but C.B. did a wonderful job of keeping it light. There’s not even any romance! (I suspect there maaay be a tinge in later books? I’m actually hoping for it because certain characters. *cough* BUT STILL. YA book with no romance. ‘Tis a miracle!) It’s just a fun, lighthearted read.

I’d say it’s mostly written for pre-teens and teens. (And people in their 2os like me who refuses to EVER stop reading YA. It’s my faaaave and I have no regrets!)


Well, I apparently had many thoughts on this book! But it was just that good! It’s not a very deep, emotional book, but sometimes we just need something to have a good time with. And that’s precisely what Twinepathy is. With a cool cast of characters, unique abilities, and smooth writing, it’s a quick, fun read. If you’re a fan of superhero/agent things and want something fun to read, I’d definitely recommend this one! It was the perfect little summer read! After finishing it, I felt like I had just delved into a cool TV show. (Like seriously, I reeeally want someone to turn this into a television series!)

Also cookies and penguin jokes. Yes. You need it.

Now I want to go find ALL the superhero and/or secret agent books! I had no idea what I was missing! (Any recommendations?)

For giving me such a fun time (AND BLAZE) I can’t help but give Twinepathy a. . .


5 out of 5 stars


Have you read Twinepathy? Are you going to nooow???
*grins* Have you ever read any superhero books?
Any Marvel fans? (*waves hand excitedly in the air*
Well, I’ve only seen the movies. . .but yeah.) What is your
favorite superpower you’ve ever come across in fiction?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Interview with Kirsten Fichter

Guess whaaat? Remember how last week I got to show you the gorgeous cover to Kirsten Fichter’s new novella The Rose and the Balloon? Well, today I get to interrogate interview Kirsten herself! And we get all sorts of juicy looks at her writing process and story. *rubs hands together gleefully*


Kirsten Fichter is a twenty-something Christian writer who is trying to find the balance between being one of six kids, a church pianist, a college student, a movie buff, a disaster in the kitchen, and a writing INFP. If you know what the secret is to balancing all of that, she’d be grateful to hear from you. Otherwise, don’t contact her unless you want to send her homemade gingerbread. Or a new piano book. Or an autographed Charles Dickens novel.

In the meantime, she’ll be somewhere under a maple tree – trying very hard to finish the seventeen and half other stories she unwisely started all at once.

Visit her: Blog | Twitter | GoodReads



What was the first spark of an idea for The Rose and the Balloon?

I wish I had a more creative spark, but truthfully, this story first began growing after Rooglewood Press announced their Beauty and the Beast short story contest. It was Beauty and the Beast, it was a fairy tale retelling. . . there was no way I wasn't going to write a story for that. The key idea running around in my head was that I had to make it as unlike every other Beauty and the Beast retelling as possible. So, how would Beauty and the Beast look backwards? The story all ran away with me from there, and it wasn't long before I had the completed story sitting on my computer. And then I forgot to send it in to the contest. Figures, huh?

What does your typical writing process look like?

I am definitely a pantser. I write without always having a clear road map. Most of my stories begin with some sort of spark of inspiration, and then it goes wild from there. I usually push off the spark for a few weeks to a few years to let it fester, er, grow in the back of my mind. If it keeps coming back, and I can keep adding inspiration to it, I judge it's worthy of my attention and then I pull open a document to start jotting down some notes. Sometimes, it'll sit for a while in my documents folder, and other times, I'll start working on the first chapter right away. When I write, I usually have the idea for the beginning, know somewhat of where I want to go towards the middle, and have a vague idea of where I want the book to end. Actually writing is the best way for me to learn about my story, and then once I'm working at it, my characters all take over and tell me what to write. They're quite bossy things, really. After the first draft is completed, it sits for a while before I go back to edit it (if I edit it at all -- I despise editing). 

What part of the writing process is your favorite (first draft, editing, polishing, being done and celebrating with cake, etc.)? 

FIRST DRAFT! I love the thrill of living out the adventure of the story the first time through. Nothing can compare to the first draft. Yes, I know it's rough, but that's what makes up half the fun. *grins*

Were there any things/people/movies/books/etc. that inspired bits of the story?

I wish I could say the hot air balloon was inspired by something fantastic, but honestly, I don't know where that came from. I've just always loved hot air balloons, and I've wanted to ride in one and write a story about one for as long as I can remember.

Crazy Maeva was inspired partly by my dad. When I was young, he was a special education teacher, so I had opportunities to interact with lots of different kids with special needs. I'd always wanted to write a story about someone with special needs, so Queen Maeva is a result of that, and also a desire to show a person with special needs is just a real person with real hopes and real feelings. 

I do also feel that you asked this question on purpose, Christine. You, who already know my deep, dark secrets. *cough* Yes, I was also muchly inspired by the beloved Disney film classic, and I made some rather pointed jabs and connections to that story. No, there's no magic in my book, no curse, no talking wardrobes, but I did find opportunity to include a scene with a dancing feather duster. Yes, yes, I know. I'm incorrigible. 

Does The Rose and the Balloon have a specific message you'd like your readers to take away from?

I wrote this story mostly for fun, so I didn't intend for it to be received with an earth-shattering revelation. However, I do feel that there are themes woven throughout of sacrifice and true love. If you can pull those truths from it, I am overjoyed, but if this just becomes a fun story for you to share with your family, I am thrilled with that as well. 

What scene in The Rose and the Balloon is your overall favorite?

Hmm... probably the dancing feather duster. Because of the connection to the film, and because it was fun to write. But I won't say any more than that -- spoilers, ya know.

How did each character come about?

Janelle and Dmitri sprung, obviously, from the need to have a Beauty and a Beast. They each came armed with their own secrets, so I pretty much let them speak for themselves. For Queen Maeva, I already gave the inspiration for her, and I needed her because someone had to do something crazy to get Janelle and Dmitri together. Or at least try to get them together. Lord Roux, Janelle's father, too, was mostly from need. Although, I can't say at first that I knew about his passion for roses. That came a little bit later. 

Nicolas and Nicoline, Dmitri's twin siblings, kinda popped into the story without me noticing at first. I typically like to have siblings for my main characters (I'm really big into lots of family and siblings in my stories), and while it was impossible to give Janelle siblings, I thought why not have siblings for Dmitri? I didn't know at that point how mischievous they could be, but I am so grateful that they showed up. There were certain points in the book where I feared all was lost, yet then the twins jumped in to save the scene and the day.  

Who was your favorite character to write and who your least? And do tell us why!

Nicolas was definitely my favorite. A royal twelve-year-old bent on getting the better of his twin... I mean, seriously, what's not to love? He was so much fun to write about. But don't tell Nicoline he's the favorite. I fear she'd have my head.

I can't say I had a least favorite character to write about, but the most difficult by far to write was Lord Roux. Since I am so close to my own father, I enjoy having a strong father figure in my stories, but for Janelle, Lord Roux couldn't be the perfect picture of an ideal father. I was constantly battling how he should be portrayed, balancing the true love that he bore for his daughter with the overwhelming passion he had for his roses. I wanted him to be a likable character, not an enemy, and I'll admit that wasn't as easy as it sounds. 

You've labeled this story as the first in a series called Once Upon a Twist Tales. Would you tell us a little bit about your plans for this coming series and how/why it got its name? 

Once Upon a Twist Tales is the result of my absolutely loving fairy tales. I hope to flesh it out into a full series, though most of the books will probably be stand-alone. I'd love to explore every fairy tale I can, twist it, put it backwards and upside-down, and then write it up with a little steampunk thrown in on the side. How long will the series be? I have no idea. I just want to write until I run out of fairy tales. After The Rose and the Balloon, I'm planning a Sleeping Beauty story called Spindle Dreams, which is almost complete in the first draft. After that, I have some ideas started for a Rapunzel story, a Rumplestiltskin story, and a Swan Lake story. We'll just have to see what the Lord has in store. 

I know you have some exciting plans for other stories in the future; can you whet our appetite at least a smidge on what we have to look forward to?

I am still working on editing and polishing my (large) Cinderella retelling, Secret of the Hazel Tree. I don't know yet when I'll be able to publish that, as I'm currently in college, and time is not necessarily my ally. I would love to release that within the next couple of years. Spindle Dreams has a better likelihood of getting published before SotHT, so I'll leave you with a small snippet of that before we end this interview. *winks*

    Marita Kadlec yanked her hand back from the spinning wheel and glared at her finger. Already, a drop of blood was forming. Annoyed, she wiped at it hastily with a rag bearing the pain of previous pricks. Directing a well-deserved scowl at the spindle, she shook her injured finger at it.
    “And this is just one reason why I hate you so.”
    Her grandmother chuckled from the bed in the corner. “If you always get mad at it, it will always treat you that way.”
    “I'm not mad! I'm just...” Marita's protest ended in a huff. Out of words, she busied herself in nursing her bleeding finger.
    Inga Kadlec eyed her granddaughter thoughtfully. “You're impatient. Learn to be gentle with the spindle. It will give you so much more if you are gentle.”
    Marita slouched on her stool. “Why didn't we have a dairy farm? Or a fishing business? Why do we have to do this?” She motioned helplessly at the wood and metal contraption in front of her.
    The spinning wheel didn't even have the decency to look back. It stood proudly, despite its age and worn mechanics. The wheel itself was crafted from a sleek, foreign wood that Marita never could remember the name of, all framed in a dark iron. While most spinners preferred wooden spindles, this wheel boasted an iron spindle, tapering out to a fine point – a point that proved dangerous to Marita's hasty fingers. According to Inga, every Kadlec in the last hundred years had spun thread using this wheel.
    And I'm the first Kadlec in a hundred years to prick myself every time I try to touch the spindle.


Thank you for allowing me to interview you, Kiri! I had too much fun picking at your brain and talking all things writing and fairytales. You’re making me want to devour all the fairytales!

Speaking of which, The Rose and the Balloon is officially AVAILABLE. As of yesterday it has been released on the world! *CHEERS* So why are you still here? Go get yourself a copy! (Currently it is only available in paperback, but the Kindle version will be coming very soon.)

And do check out THIS POST for links to more interviews going on this week. It’s gonna be fun!


In a kingdom where fauna and flora are held in higher esteem than breakfast, Dmitri is a prince who yearns for change and plans it in a single daring act that will alter his life forever. However, when his demented mother accidentally causes the destruction of a prized garden of roses, Dmitri is horrified when she proposes his hand in marriage to make up for it. Not only will a wife hamper his glorious plans, he doesn't even want one.

Janelle has spent her whole life on her father's rose farm, tending the roses and staying simple. But she really yearns for something greater than the flower beds. But now there's a wrench thrown in the works – the crazy Queen Maeva wants her to marry the prince, and all for ruining her father's beloved roses.

This is Beauty and the Beast with a twist like you've never seen it before.

Amazon | CreateSpace | GoodReads | Pinterest Board


Why are you still here? Didn’t I tell you to go
buy a copy of TRatB? Okay, okay. We can fangirl/boy
first. Do you have any more questions for Kirsten?
What do you think of her amazing sounding fairytales?

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