Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy International Women's Day!

What a wonderful day! I'm extremely grateful for all the women who have played a direct role in  my life. My mother, of course, is a superstar after raising me on top of all she does for her community. My mom's friends who have been my adopted aunts and loved me and been there for-- I appreciate you all. My real aunts who are all superstars, beautiful, loving, hilarious, and educated--I'm beyond thankful for them.
I have a group of kickbutt powerful friends who are all going to do some amazing things in the future, if they haven't already done so now (which many of them have).
But this blog is about books and bookish things. I have been greatly influenced over the years by the women authors whose books I have devoured. They are my inspiration, my goals, my dreams in every way, and if I hadn't seen them doing it in such an amazing way, I wouldn't have had the courage to do it myself. And I of course, wouldn't have my sanity right now if it weren't for Star Line Books, which is only here because of the stupendous owner Star. She's a flurry of energy, and I love her with all my heart.
I also got this courage through my awesome Ascension team. My publisher, Valarie Budayr, I don't even know how to fully describe because she is just full of wonderful surprises with all her many talents. She inspires me every day and keeps me going in this world. My editor Mallory is another superwoman warrior who does amazing work on my book and makes them sparkle and shine.

These are some of the female writers who have influenced my writing:

Maggie Stiefvater: The Raven Cycle
                               Shiver series
                               All the Crooked Saints 
Richelle Mead:      Vampire Academy series

Cornelia Funke:     Inkheart Trilogy

Karen Russell:       Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Nic Stone:              Dear Martin

Ruta Sepetys:         Out of the Easy 
                               Salt to the Sea 

Jamie Quatro:         Fire Sermon 

Courtney Stevens:  Dress Codes for Small Towns

Sybil Baker:           Immigration Essays (and a professor of mine)

Natalie Lloyd:        The Problim Children 
                                The Key to Extraordinary

Bren McLain:         One Good Mama Bone

Libba Bray:            The Diviners series

Jane Austen:           Pride & Prejudice

Margaret Stohl:      Beautiful Creatures (and Kami Garcia)
                               Black Widow 
                               Royce Rolls

Emily Mandel:       Station 11

Leigh Bardugo:      Grisha trilogy
                               Six of Crows Duology 
                               Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Julie Murphy:        Ramona Blue

Melissa Marr:        Wicked Lovely series

Julie Kagawa:        Iron Fey series 

Thanks to all these amazing women for shaping my writing! Now go read their work so they can write more :)


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Magical Realism and Why I Love It

So if you've read Ascension, you have read magical realism in a way. Constance Grady's article out today in Vox Magazine about Gabriel Garcia Marquez defines magical realism as, "a literary genre that’s grounded in reality but in which miraculous and magical things may happen at any moment." So the fact that a whole community of vampires, Deuxsang, and witches live among humans in the real world in real time is absolutely magical realism. 
Now, magical realism, as with all genres, can be done in different ways. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is one of the most influential magical realism writers from Colombia, takes magical realism in a slightly different direction. If he were to have written a vampire novel during his lifetime, the vampires would not have been hidden, as they are in nearly every vampire novel. They would've been part of life as we know it and something fantastical, like them having the ability to will blood out of their victims and travel to them rather than them actually having to dirty their own hands--I imagine that's how he would write his vampires. 
I didn't realize that I was writing magical realism until I got to college and really until a couple years ago. I learned the term and read a Marquez story, and I was discussing it with my publisher when she said, "Well, yeah, that's where your niche is, I think." And after she said that, it was like the world opened up. It's true. While I love reading realistic fiction because there's some amazing work out there right now, I love magic and fantasy even more--but to work it into our world in a way that's completely normal and acceptable is amazing to me. Because if you think about it, the world is magical and full of phenomenons--we just don't always take time to notice them. 
Magical realism is no easy task. As Gabriel Marquez said, "A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.” Some people are hard to convince, but that's not to say we who love magical realism aren't going to try our hardest to convince you that yes it is totally normal that a half-breed vampire school exists under the city of New Orleans so that they could receive higher education safely. (Yes, that is a hint at book 2 for those of you reading closely). 
Here are a few of my favorite magical realism writers and their works: 

  • Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell 
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater *****
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater *****
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Find the magic,

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Yes, Hello there, I'm Still Here

I'M ALIVE! I apologize for my complete absence on the inter webs for the past couple months. It has been a long, rollercoaster of a road since December, but I'm here; I'm back; I'm trying to keep everything rolling! So here's a cap of everything that's been going on in Hannahland:

       I will officially be attending Bath Spa University's MA Writing for Young People masters program starting THIS September. I am beyond terrified and excited for this wild journey in the UK, in the land of Jane Austen. I still can't believe I was accepted, but I'm excited for this new leg in my journey and to start studying the craft of literature for young people.

      Yes, don't hate me, but I went to Hawaii! I took the first week off my last semester of undergraduate to explore with my parents (thanks to Dad's job) Oahu and The Big Island (aka Hawaii). I ate garlic shrimp on the North Shore, swam with dolphins (not ride dolphins), chilled with a sea turtle, hiked to a green sand beach, stared into the face of an active volcano, survived the Missile Threat, and got smashed under some massive waves. Overall, it was an amazing adventure (and much needed rest).

       This semester, as part of my last semester in college, I signed up for the internship class, and can you guess where I asked to intern? Of course, Star Line Books! Which just means I get to be here even more than I usually would be and help out! These are the best days of the week!

        Yes, it's still coming, I promise! We have an expected release of this June. So keep your eyes peeled for more information concerning such exciting news :)

       Last semester, I might've mentioned that I took a Novel Writing course and started something completely different from the Ascension trilogy. I finished my first draft over the holidays (actually on the plane to Hawaii), and I'm in the early self-editing stages. I don't really have a good description pinned down yet, but think 1800s Scotland-Scottish Travellers-talking animals-an anti-hero and some other pretty funky stuff. It's different, but I kind of love it. I hope all of you will eventually too!

That's all I've got for you right now. I'm going to do my best to be constant with the blog, but I'll be honest, this is a crazy busy semester. But I hope you're still following along and getting pumped for Ascension Part 2!!


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Adventures of a Part-time Bookselling Author

This will be a bit of a ranting session, though I have a feeling that many of you will agree with me in this subject matter.
Today has been a surprisingly busy day in the shop on this quite chilly, gray, rainy Saturday, which is wonderful! We've been able to give lots of great suggestions and had great conversations with our bookies. A sweet older couple from Cambridge, England stopped in the shop. 
Later this afternoon, a father approached the counter with a copy of The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, which I loved as a child, and I told him so. He kind of sighed a bit and said, "Yeah, my son wasn't allowed to read The Three Musketeers, so I had to come get him this." Both my coworker and I gave him a bit of a look. Neither of us could believe that a teacher told a student to stop reading something. 
He sighed again and said, "Yeah, he's in second grade. She told him he shouldn't be reading that. But he understands it and has read it several times." 
I am completely baffled by this! I mean, my head is still reeling. The fact that an educator would discourage a child from reading, not taking into account that this child has the desire to read something like this content, let alone the discipline to read something of that length. This takes me back to Matilda. This little boy needs a librarian like in Matilda, who will encourage his love of reading beyond what test scores say his reading level is. He needs a Miss Honey to challenge him and give him harder work. 
It just steams me up that a teacher would say that. "No, you can't read that, it's beyond your reading level." It's amazing how dependent upon standardized testing education has become. This child is obviously not standard. He's clearly above average, and we should be encouraging his love of reading. A father shouldn't have to come in our store, sighing about reading a very good kids book that I love. I hope this little boy is still able to enjoy the Hank books, but that he also still is encouraged to read whatever he wants.
I'm beyond thankful for all the educators in my life who always, and continue to, encourage me to read beyond what I think my limits are. So I'm here to tell all the kids out there to read what you want. If you enjoy it, can comprehend it, and can get through it, you read the heck out of it. Embrace your inner Matilda. Fill up that little red wagon with the biggest books you can get your hands on and go on as many adventures as you can. 

Keep on reading little Bookies, 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Southern Festival of Books 2017

Oh, my goodness! I met SO MANY amazing authors this weekend at the 29th annual Southern Festival of Books. It was an odd year in that I'm no longer in just the patron state of mind. I was there not only representing myself and Ascension, but also Star Line Books, advertising our awesome store to authors who want to come to visit. If you haven't made it to this festival in Nashville yet, I highly recommend! Seriously, don't miss out on it--there's something for everyone.
So that I'm done with that, here are my SoFestofBooks 2017 Book Recommendations, starting with the youngest readers:

I met two really great Middle grade authors, who are sweet and adorable and tell enchanting stories that deal with real world truths. Check them out!

1. The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish (contemporary fiction)
2. Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley (magical realism)
3. Almost Paradise by Corabel Shofner (contemporary fiction)

Young Adult...just so many young adult authors, guys. They're putting out amazing books. I don't care how old you are, good writing is good writing; and a good story is a good story.

1. Dear Martin by Nic Stone (debuted today!!!) (contemporary fiction)
2. Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (science fiction)
3. We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash (mystery)
4. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (contemporary fiction)
5. Dresscodes for Small Towns (contemporary fiction)

Literary Fiction/Adult Fiction - so many beautiful novels out this year!

1. Immigration Essays by Sybil Baker (nonfiction collection of essays)
2. If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss (Appalachian literature)
3. One Good Mama Bone (southern literature)

There were hundreds of other authors there; these are just the lovely people I had the pleasure of meeting. Check out their books, and stay tuned for more author-bookseller-student adventures as I claw my way through this semester!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Banned Books Week!!

Woohoo! One of the best weeks of the entire year in my the book world anyway...BANNED BOOK WEEK!  It's a great week because we celebrate some of the most amazing literary works of all time who have, at some point in their book lives, offended someone somewhere, proving that even the most amazing of art always offends someone.

Star Line has a great display table this week with some of my favorite books, and my coworker and I quite enjoyed looking up why some of these beloved books were banned in the first place. Note: Banned Books Week also displays the stupidity of some folks. Here are some of my favorite reasons books have been banned --

Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle: Mistaken for a communist writer
Atonement by Ian McEwan: bad grammar
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson: Witchcraft and lack of parental supervision
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: Depressing and sexual content
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Vulgar language and conflicting values
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: Psychologically traumatizing
And of course, my personal favorite Harry Potter for it's witchcraft and wizardry nonsense. Aka FUN

Some of my favorite books, apart from Harry Potter, are on the Banned Books list: Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried, Stephen Chbosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower, Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, Lois Lowry's The Giver. I'm starting to think that being on the Banned Books List is actually THE list to be on. I'd be honored to be found among names like these, writers who challenge the world around them, who DARE to have an imagination.

So what Banned Book are you reading this week?

Happy Illicit Reading,

Friday, September 15, 2017

Adventures of a Part Time Bookselling Author

Since I have begun my new part time job at one of my favorite places on the planet, Star Line Books, I decided I'll start a new monthly post about my adventures in bookselling, which I love but has also showed me how not well read I am! There are so many books in the world...and this is a small bookstore!

Today, I had the tremendous pleasure of selling books for YA author Jeff Zentner (The Serpent King and Goodbye Days) at Heritage High School in Ringgold, Georgia. First off, that's a beautiful school! Very impressed. And secondly, Rhonda, one of their media specialists aka librarians, is one of the most charming people I've ever met! Her passion for her creative writing club and book club was so inspiring! I always wished I'd had a creative writing community in high school, which is partially what led me to starting Chattanooga Writer's Society in college. But Rhonda is just so encouraging of her students' passions and did a fantastic job of organizing Jeff's event.

In the morning, the creative writing and book clubs met in Media Center (library) for a dialogue workshop with Jeff, who mesmerized all the students in a matter of maybe two minutes flat. He gave some great tips on writing dialogue, which I took thorough notes on.
       I once thought I was a good dialogue writer. My lovely editor, in the kindest way possible, told                        me that was not the case :) 
  • Keep your dialogue lines short
  • Don't get fancy with dialogue tags (none of this "he said languorously") 
  • Keep your author mind out of their conversation 
  • Don't try to exactly copy human conversations. They're too messy. 
After 15 minutes to write, Jeff read some of the students' dialogue with them! Such fun! Then the selling and signing frenzy began! I was surprised how many students bought books to get signed, but of course, that's not the only thing they asked Jeff to sign. Because, in case you didn't know, authors are rockstars to readers, nowadays. T-shirts were signed, a cast, backpacks, pieces of paper, but what really topped the cake was the signing of a forehead. That's right. I guess the boy just wanted to soak up Jeff's creative genius with his signature. And I thought my crowning moment was signing a shirt! 

Before the larger presentation in front of more classes in the auditorium, the club students presented Jeff with a "staff" and a club t-shirt signed by all of them! I mean, how freaking cool! Of course, his talk was great. The students asked some wonderful questions than they just got into the silliness of "what's your favorite color, dogs or cats, hogwartz house (which is an important question)." And all that jazz. I'm so very honored that I got to be apart of that event today. I've never been to a school author event that was so absolutely wonderful! Super duper high five to Ms. Rhonda and Heritage High!