Friday, September 30, 2016

Made it down to Chatt

Ascension officially made it down to Chattanooga this afternoon at Star Line Books!!

Every experience with this book brings something new to my life, and it's just so amazing and humbling. During the Maryville Launch, so many people came that night to support me. I honestly could not believe my eyes, and I was so incredibly humbled. I will never be able to forget that night, even though it was such a blur.

All of the kind reviews I'm getting on Amazon and Goodreads touch my heart. I know the bad reviews are going to come. Even the most spectacularly flawless authors like Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo, and J.K. Rowling have their critics. But for now, I'll take all of your reviews to heart, treasuring each one, and be so so thankful.

Ni touched my heart with her kindness
Tonight, apart from the new faces and old friends that came out to support me, I met my first, real, non-friend or family related fan. Ni was waiting for me when I got to Starline this afternoon. An English professor at my university mentors her and bought Ascension for her when it launched a month ago. This afternoon, she presented me a rolled, crumpled, folded, bent, well-read, extremely loved copy of Ascension. "How could you do that?" She said to me. My natural reaction, knowing the twists and turns of my book, was to ask her to clarify. "The ending! I threw it across the room several times!!" she said. Guys, I can't tell you exactly how much this means to me. I've been there. I've thrown a Maggie Stiefvater book across the room. And MY book made someone do that...
Ni named her favorite character, her favorite part, and told me that she's shared her copy around her classroom. But the best part? She wrote fan fiction about Rove and Jillian!!! Fan fiction...about MY BOOK! I have to be honest, I kind of fell when she told me that. I was so stunned and touched and humbled and...only big time authors get fan fiction right? This can't possibly be real life, right? Ni just made my entire month.

My friends, my creative writing group, english professors, some city goers, some classmates, and of course my mom, publisher, and book seller made this afternoon absolutely amazing. Tonight is going to be so memorable to me, will always stand out in my mind. Thanks to everybody who was able to come out tonight. You all mean the world to me!

The Best Book Seller on the Block
If you live in Chattanooga and haven't gotten the chance to visit Star at Starline Books on Market Street, please head over there. It's a wonderful bookstore with an amazing collection of books and the best bookseller on the block.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Banned Books Week!

Happy Banned Books Week! Practice your right to Freadom and read a banned book this week!
There are a variety of reasons for why books are banned--racial issues, damaging lifestyles, sacrilegious dialogue, sexual situations, violence, witchcraft, etc. You get the point.

Literature is art. Art is freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of life, freedom of religion. As artists, authors cannot please everybody. Someone will almost always be offended by something written, so we should not attempt to please everyone. It's a ridiculous goal. If something offends you as a reader, you can put the book down and walk away. You don't have to challenge it and ruin reading society for everyone. So considerate. Come on!

Interested in reading a Banned Book (as you rightly should be? has this cool list of the most challenged books of 2015:

What about classics that have been banned?

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell
11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

Challenge yourself this week and read a banned book. Practice your freedom to read 'em. Sorry, that was a bad joke. :D Let me know what banned books you're reading this week! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Expanding Your Reading

    For a long, long time, I read children's books, then middle grade books, and then YA books in segments. I have blocks of my life where I only read that specific genre. In high school (until senior year), I thought it was ridiculous for me to read a middle grade book while I was 16. I was obviously much too mature to read something for a ten year old, and I didn't think I was mature enough to read to Adult books (apart from the classics that were assigned to me in school).
    Over the past three years, my view on this has changed. My senior year of high school when I interned for Audrey Press/ Jump Into a Book, my job was to read children's books and Middle grade fiction. I had to read these books with a critical eye, looking at the different aspects of the books and coming up with crafts. And I love them. Children's books are absolutely beautiful. I don't know when the last time was that you read a picture book, but man! Some of those pictures are just fabulous, and the stories are heart warming.
     Some of my favorite books are Middle Grade books: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan, Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan, Holes by Louis Sachar, The Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, and the list goes on. Yes, the language is younger, but the themes and issues discussed in Middle grade fiction are universal, something we've all been through or can relate to. And the language can also be very beautiful.
      I've heard recently, since publishing a YA book, that adults think they shouldn't read YA books, that the topics are young, the writing's young, the ideas are below their mental level. But this isn't true: there are some absolutely amazing writers in YA world right now. Adults were once young adults; they can relate to the issues being discussed and maybe can find a character and say "man, I wish I'd been like this as a kid." Even though we mature, every aspect of our lives carry with us to define who we are. We just don't let go of our adolescent mindset. It's still there, just not at the forefront.
       In the past year, I've ventured into the adult genre. My first novel was Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, which I listened to driving back and forth between Maryville and Chattanooga. And it was fabulous. The narrative style is so interesting, and the characters are incredibly compelling. This summer, I experienced Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. I don't normally go for the post-apocolyptic novels, but Station 11 was spectacular. There are so many strings that all connect at the end, and it's just mind-blowing. When I got the end, I just sat there thinking "Woah!"
     So I guess the point of this book ramble is to not lock yourself into a reading box. It's very easy for me to just stay in my little YA world, especially because there are so many amazing YA books coming out right now to try and fail to keep up with. But try and make an effort to expand your reading circle. If you need any recommendations, I'm HAPPY to give some out. Just let me know.

And if you want to start in YA, Ascension is a great jumping in book :D

Happy Reading,