• Book Blog,  Bookish Tips & Lists,  Guest Posts

    D.K. Stone’s Top 5 Writing Tricks

    Today, Danika Stone, author of the recently released mystery novel Edge of Wild (Stonehouse Publishing) and the upcoming young adult contemporary novel All the Feels (Macmillan), joins the blog to help inspire and guide all of you aspiring writers out there. Keep reading as Danika shares her top five writing tricks!

    Everyone likes to give advice. (Writers even more than usual!) We just don’t like to follow it. So when I was asked to write a post on my top five writing tricks, I really had to think about what  was going to say. What works for me won’t necessarily work for everyone. But there are little things that may translate.

    Writing can be a solitary, difficult process, but it’s so incredible when it comes together. This is how I survive to that point:

    1. Be a slave to schedule.  The only way to write fifty thousand words is to sit down and write fifty thousand words. Make a plan (a page, a paragraph or a scene a day) and don’t let yourself stop until you reach it.

    2. Your first draft is terrible times a million. Accept it. Move on.  I wish I could tell you some secret to writing better or faster, and not having to edit it a hundred times over, but if there is one, I don’t have it. (Go ask Stephen King.)

    3. Forget that the process will ever end.  You may write this book, query it, and get nowhere. You might write a first draft and have it picked up by an agent the next day. Worrying about which one will happen hinders your process. Just. Write.

    4. Hone your skills by helping others.  You are short of time. I get that. (I really do!) But helping others by beta-reading, copy-editing and otherwise assisting doesn’t just help them, it helps you. You see what works and what doesn’t, and your writing is polished without even picking up a pen.

    5. Trust that you can.  Don’t listen to those people who tell you to ‘be rational’. Don’t believe the haters who rip apart your stories. Forget all the rejections. Writing is hard enough without letting your own brain belittle your love of words. So force on the rose-colored glasses and fake it until you make it. You really can be anything you want because you’re the one writing the story.

    Trust me on that. You CAN.

    D.K. Stone

    Biography:

    Danika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both adults (Edge of Wild, The Intaglio Series and Ctrl Z) and teens (All the Feels). When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada. Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

  • Book Blog,  Book Reviews

    Blog Tour: Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green

    Hippopotamister

    • Original Title: Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green
    • Edition: Hardcover, 96 pages
    • Published: May 10, 2016 by First Second
    • Characters: Hippo, Red Panda
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Goodreads, Macmillian

    Description:The zoo isn’t what it used to be. It’s run down, and Hippo hardly ever gets any visitors. So he decides to set off for the outside with his friend Red Panda. To make it in the human world, Hippo will have to become a Hippopotamister: he’ll have to act like a human, get a job, and wear a hat as a disguise. He’s a good employee, whether he’s a construction worker, a hair stylist, or a sous chef. But what he really needs is a job where he can be himself.

    I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Hippopotamister is an amazing and beautiful children’s book! The bright and colorful cover instantly caught my students’ eyes, and the stunning pictures inside kept their interest piqued throughout the entire 96 pages. “How did you read a 96-page book to a group of 2nd graders in one sitting?” you ask. Despite the length, Hippopotamister is set up in panels comic-book style, so there’s not a whole lot of text. It’s a pretty easy read for even some of my lowest students, and again, the beautiful and detailed pictures really encourage comprehension of the text. My students did a great job of making predictions and inferences just during the picture walk alone. This book will definitely be a fixture in my classroom for the foreseeable future. I just have to be extra careful not to let those little paws do any major damage!

  • Book Blog,  Book Reviews

    Book Review: Edge of Wild by D.K. Stone

    Edge of Wild

    • Original Title: Edge of Wild by D.K. Stone
    • Edition: Paperback, 329 pages
    • Published: May 1st, 2016 by Stonehouse Publishing
    • Characters: Rich Evans, Louise Newman
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Goodreads, Amazon

    Description: Transplanted from New York City to the tiny mountain town of Waterton, Alberta with the task of saving a floundering new hotel, Rich Evans is desperate to return to the city as soon as he can. The locals seem unusually hostile towards his efforts, or maybe even menacing, and was that a cougar on his door-step last night? As Rich begins to wonder whether his predecessor disappeared of his own accord, he finds himself strongly drawn to Louise Newman, the garage mechanic who is fixing his suddenly unreliable BMW, and the only person in Waterton who doesn’t seem desperate to run him out of town. As Rich works on the hotel, the town is torn apart by a series of gruesome, unsolved murders. With Louise as his only ally in a town that seems set against him, Rich can’t help but wonder: will he be the next victim?

    I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

    First Lines: “Jeff was packing to leave when he heard the noise outside the window. It was a low keening sound, the sort of moan that would have sent a city slicker like him running a year ago. But not now. No, tonight, he picked up the wooden bat next to the door and walked out onto the porch.”

    The Plot
    After the disappearance of Jeff Chan, manager of the Whitewater Lodge in the tiny, mountain town of Waterton, Alberta, Rich Evans is transplanted from his cushy, fast-paced life in New York City to the mysterious small town where time seems to have stood still.

  • Book Blog,  Book Reviews

    Book Review: What Comes of Eating Doughnuts…

    What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar

    • Original Title: What Comes of Eating Doughnuts
              With a Boy Who Plays Guitar by Nicole Campbell
    • Edition: Paperback, 220 pages
    • Published: June 17th, 2015 by CreateSpace
    • Characters: Courtney Ross, Ethan Fisher, Vanessa Roberts
    • Rating: 4/5
    • Goodreads

    Description: Courtney Ross has lived her whole life doing everything by the book. She’s a top student, the captain of the cheer squad at her Scottsdale high school, and a nervous wreck most of the time. For summer vacation before senior year, she finally has her chance just to relax. She will be spending it with her best friend, Vanessa, in her tiny hometown of Gem City, Ohio. Courtney’s hoping for a chance to breathe, and maybe even for some of Vanessa’s carefree nature to rub off on her. What she doesn’t expect is Ethan Fisher. Courtney knows she’s in trouble the minute she sees him holding a guitar at her “Welcome Back” party. Her instincts prove to be correct as she gets to know him, and she finds her head spinning. What will this mean for the girl who always plays by the rules?

    In her first full-length novel, Nicole Campbell delivers a perfect beach read for the older Young Adult crowd. Readers will re-live their first relationships (the good, the bad, and the overwhelming), or imagine the spark of what the future might hold in this story full of the type of intensity only found in young love.

    Due to mature themes and mild language, recommended for readers 16+

    I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

    Since I’ve become an adult, I’ve avoided contemporary and romance novels like a plague for many reasons. Most important among them are the terrible dialogue and lack of plot that are typically a staple. When I was younger I was obsessed with Sweet Valley High novels though. I really enjoyed being able to escape into the sunny, simple, carefree life of Sweet Valley, California and its perfect protagonists’ love lives and superfluous drama.

    Fast forward many, many years later, and I found myself completely captivated by Gem City, Ohio and its inhabitants. It was a nice change of pace to all the serious drama and high fantasy I’ve been indulging in lately. Courtney Ross, the book’s main protagonist, is a typical 17-year old girl who goes out to have a carefree summer with her best friend in her hometown, but instead ends up falling head-over-heels for the gorgeous Ethan Fisher, who does in fact play guitar. While their relationship progressed very quickly in my opinion (but I’ve never been in love, so wtf do I know), it was very cute and not too over-the-top. My favorite characters though are the secondary characters, Vanessa and Luke! I was worried that Vanessa would be extremely unlikable based on the initial introduction of her, but she actually turns out to be the kind of best friend we all wish we could have. And Luke is hilarious! I think he steals the scene every time he’s on the page.

    It’s not a plot heavy book, and the characters aren’t incredibly complex though they are likeable and interesting, but it’s a fun read. In case you were wondering, yes, there are some times the dialogue made me say, “Why are you saying this?” It wasn’t a huge distraction. Teenagers wouldn’t be teenagers if they weren’t a bit cheesy and dramatic. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a story that’s short and sweet. What Comes of Eating Doughnuts With a Boy Who Plays Guitar rekindled a lot of nostalgia for my Sweet Valley days. I look forward to going back to Gem City and finding out what happens with Courtney and Ethan next and definitely getting some more Luke action!

    About the Author

    Nicole Campbell is an English teacher turned author, mother to a beautiful three year old boy, and wife to a self-proclaimed techie. Teenage life consisted of a host of adventures for her, many of which serve as inspiration for her writing. Find her online at Nicole Campbell Books, Goodreads, and Instagram.

  • Book Blog,  Book Reviews

    Excerpt + Giveaway: Summerlost by Ally Condie

    Disclaimer: This is a promotional post. Promotion hosted by Word Spelunking and Penguin Kids. A free copy of Summerlost was provided in exchange for promotion and a review.

    Summerlost CoverOriginal Title: Summerlost
    Author: Ally Condie
    Edition: Hardcover, 272 pages.
    Release Date: March 29, 2016
    Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
    Links: Excerpt, Goodreads, Penguin Random House, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound

    Description: A tender and compelling contemporary novel for young readers about facing loss and finding friendship, from Ally Condie, international bestselling author of the Matched series.

    “Kids are awesome. And they are diverse. There are children with different abilities and backgrounds and experiences, and every one of them deserves to find themselves in children’s literature and to know that they matter.” –Ally Condie, on Summerlost

    Sometimes it takes a new friend to bring you home. It’s the first real summer since the accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

    Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching new novel from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.