2014 – The Year of Writing

Well, we’re officially into the new year! After a rocky 2013, I have high hopes for 2014…although it hasn’t started out great. I’m currently dealing with remnants of an intense cold I had during the holidays, as well as frigid temperatures that have drained the battery of my car. But, I’m going to stay positive! I am!

Positive-friendsAnd, to be fair, positive things have happened. Although it’s only January 7th, I’ve already read two books (Fractured by Teri Terry and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell), and I’ve submitted a short ghost story for publication. I’m really excited about this story. It took me forever to think up a concept for it, and even longer to write it…Seriously, guys. Forever! I knew about this open call submission back in early November, but I didn’t actually get around to writing it until mid-December. And then I got sick and put it down until the last days of the year. I ended up writing and revising the whole thing in three days. However, the final product turned out much better than I’d hoped for. In fact, I’ve already decided regardless of what happens with my submission (accepted or rejected), I’m going to use this story as a jumping board into a much bigger story.

This inspiration has urged me to sit back and think about what I want to accomplish in 2014. So, I’ve made a few writing goals. I’m not going to lie, I’m being ambitious here. But I’m determined to be productive this year. I’m not going to drag my feet like I have in the past. This is going to be The Year of Writing for me!

writer1) Write 2 full manuscripts. This will begin with finishing, editing and querying my NaNoWriMo project, Fallers. After that, I plan to explore three other concepts I’ve come up with and then run with whichever one speaks to me most!

2) Enter at least 2 short story/flash fiction contests. Last fall, I decided to enter NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge. I was terrified about this at the time (I’d never written a short story before, let alone a flash fiction), but I was more determined to expand my horizons and improve my writing skills. And I did! So, I’ve already entered NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge in February, and plan to enter their Flash Fiction Challenge in the fall again. If I have the energy, time and inspiration, I’ll also enter smaller contests throughout the year. I’m always a sucker for Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenges.

3) Keep blogging! I never thought I’d be a blogger. I didn’t even know what blogging really was until I decided to start my own last summer. Now, I can’t imagine not blogging. Not only have I been able to share my love of reading and writing with others, but I’ve discovered an amazing community. So many of you have helped me learn more about myself, introduced me to new worlds and characters, and encouraged me to keep going when I’m ready to give up. You’re amazing! And being a part of this blogging community is amazing. I don’t know how I’ve managed to go this long without it. So, even though I might be slowing down to keep up with my other writing goals, I’m not quitting. My blog has become just as valuable to me as the books I read and the books I write! 

Well, that’s all for now. I’m afraid if I keep adding to the list, I won’t get any of it done! I plan to kick things off with returning to my NaNo projectFallers. I haven’t touched it since the end of November, after I hit the 50,000 word goal (my short ghost story was starting to scream for my attention by then, haha). Unfortunately, I have no choice but to start over with Fallers. It’s been too long not to. I’ve lost the flow of the plot and characters. Plus, I’ve thought of a few things I already want to change in the first 50,000 words I wrote.

So, fresh year, fresh start! Okay, let’s do this!

How about you? Do you have any writing goals for 2014? If so, what are they?

Book Review: Fractured by Teri Terry

17269399Fractured by Teri Terry

Synopsis

“Perfect for fans of the dystopian settings of The Hunger Games and Divergent, the gripping second installment of the Slated trilogy is a riveting psychological thriller set in a future where violent teens have their memory erased as an alternative to jail.

Kyla has been Slated—her personality wiped blank, her memories lost to her forever. Or so she thought. She shouldn’t be able to remember anything. But increasingly she can—and she’s discovering that there are a lot of dark secrets locked away in her memories. When a mysterious man from her past comes back into her life and wants her help, she thinks she’s on her way to finding the truth. But this new knowledge lands her in the middle of a tug-of-war between two dangerous adversaries, and despite her misgivings about both of them, she’s forced to choose a side for her own protection.”

Jen’s Review

Overall, I enjoyed this sequel to Slated. In fact, I’d say I enjoyed it more (a rare occurrence in the land of trilogies). Why? Fractured was edgier, sharper and, in my opinion, stronger. I’m still in love Teri Terry’s concept of wiping away memories and giving criminals a clean slate, and I’m thoroughly enjoying her mysterious plot. All of the questions I had from book one are starting to get answered, and each answer is intriguing and satisfying…Though, to be honest, they’re not always surprising. There were twists and turns in Fractured I was able to predict a mile away. But no worries. They were still fun to experience!

My only ongoing complaint are some of the characters. In Slated, I forgave Kyla’s passivity for being a slated; passivity is a common side effect of the memory wiping operation. In Fractured, however, my forgiveness began to wane. I understand Kyla’s need to be cautious and wise, and I get she’s on the quiet side, but it came to a point when I wanted her to act up–act out! But every time she was about to, she’d fold in on herself yet again…I wish she’d at least have had someone to confide in–her “mom”, Aiden, Tori. Someone to open up and talk to without fear. I grew weary of living inside her head. I wanted her thoughts to be verbally expressed and bounced around with someone else.

I also continue to have concerns about Kyla’s main love interest, Ben. Simply put, I feel no emotional attachment to him. He’s, well, dull. One dimensional. And, I hate to say it, flaky. Which made Kyla’s ongoing infatuation with him irritating and tiresome. Why does she feel so connected to Ben? Because they like to run together? Because he’s good looking? Because he was the first person she felt safe enough to confide in? Because she’s a stronger person than him and thinks she has the power to control him in the future (that is starting to become the only logical answer to me)? I’m disappointed Teri Terry has chosen Ben to be “the one”. She offers up so many other juicy potentials for male leads (Aiden, Mac, KATRAN!)

Speaking of Katran…He is, by far, my favorite character of the series. And he’s hardly in it! I found myself searching for his name on each page, praying it would pop up. When it did, I’d give an internal cheer and gobble up the too few paragraphs he was featured in. Katran is so interesting, so addicting. Violent, yet sweet. Vicious, yet gentle. Why is he this way? Is there hope for him to be a better man? Does he love Kyla? Why? What is their history?…These were the questions that flew through my mind whenever he’d appear. And they were questions that went–mostly–unanswered. To be honest, I’m feeling on the bitter side of life right now with how Katran’s character was handled. I wish, wish, wish Teri Terry would’ve given him more page time. A bigger role. I wish he was the “Ben” of the story.

Anyways, as I said before, I enjoyed this book. I did. I know I have some problems with a few of the characters, but that doesn’t stop me from highly recommending the series. It’s fun, different and fast-paced. I’m looking forward to reading its final installment, Shattered, when it’s released this spring.

Jen’s Rating

3 Star

Read more about Fractured here.

Book Review: Slated by Teri Terry

12743472Slated by Teri Terry

Synopsis

“Kyla’s memory has been erased,
her personality wiped blank,
her memories lost for ever.
She’s been Slated.
The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?”

Jen’s Review

This book was recommended to me by a fellow blogger (thanks Jess!), and I enjoyed it. I’m always up for a good dystopian tale, and Slated definitely delivered. In a genre that’s getting harder and harder to be original in, I feel Teri Terry was able to find and create a unique concept.

Slated’s future world was tense, mysterious and even frightening at times, and held an eerie Stalin-esque tone (one toe out of line, and you’re shipped off to get your memory wiped clean). The pacing of the plot was well done, and the characters were, overall, great to read…Though, to be honest, I didn’t click with a couple of the bigger ones. In particular, the supposed heartthrob, Ben. My heart just didn’t throb for him. He was almost too nice, too sweet. And, there were a few parts I felt his IQ level wasn’t done justice (I know, I know, he was slated and therefore supposed to act a little loopy; but I wish he hadn’t been quite so loopy). I guess it was difficult for me to understand Kyla’s emotional attachment to him. Besides their love for running and being slated, they didn’t seem to have that much in common.

Besides this nitpick, I liked the book. And I really liked the protagonist, Kyla. She made up for those lesser characters I didn’t jive with. She was soft, yet tough. Quiet, yet loud. Sweet, yet steely. Her timid, borderline passive aggressive behavior was perfect for the oppressed, “hush-hush” world she lived in. And, despite her cool, meek facade, you just know deep down she’s a badass.

If you’re looking for a quick read that’s entertaining and different, check out Slated.

 Jen’s Rating

3 Star

Read more about Slated here.