Star Wars: A love letter

Warning: this blog is different to normal and contains spoilers.

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Art by Deya Muniz, a hilarious genius

I was a little girl when the prequels came out. With older siblings that had been born in the seventies, Star Wars was a thing in our house. I had vague memories of it- of a giant Jar Jar Binks statue in the local KFC that scared me, of fighting over Darth Vader Pez dispensers with my older sister. I remember Star Wars, of dashing Han, of Luke and his strength, of the beautiful Princess. It wasn’t until I was an adult that Star Wars clicked with me.

I went to see The Force Awakens on a date, and after that showing, I was obsessed. It wasn’t because it was a new Star Wars, or that I was old enough to properly connect. No- it was because of Kylo Ren.

Now, a lot of you have probably heard people trash on him. I hear it a lot. “He’s such a cry baby”, “he’s more poorly written than Anakin!”, “all he does is whine”. When I look at Kylo, I see a character I relate to. Someone that struggled with rage, who has this idea of who and what they should be shoved onto them from a young age, who has to battle with what others want of him versus what he actually wants.

The Last Jedi was particularly powerful to me. After seeing how scared he was at the idea of killing his father, of the weight of becoming a Sith, a Darth. Then the fear in his eyes, the sheer loneliness, when he couldn’t pull the trigger to kill his mother. You could see the love in his eyes, in his heart. He’s portrayed as this angry, hateful person. You know what makes people angry and hateful? Scared, confused children that don’t have people around them that pay attention. Rey and Kylo are so alike in that regard- different families, similar results. I feel for him. I feel for his character, and my heart breaks for him.

I write about this today because I’ve been worried I’ve been overdoing my own characterization. People don’t want characters to be too nice, or too angsty, too this, too that. That’s not how characters or people work. They’re so much more organic than that, they ripple and flow and change and they feel and experience. Kylo has changed with those things. I have changed with those things. My characters will. So will yours.

Don’t be afraid of the expectations of others. Do what feels right to you.

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Be Careful What You Joust For

This month’s review is a little different because *drumroll*… this is the first time an author has approached me to review their ARC! I read “Be Careful What you Joust For” by Ivy Smoak and Ryan Hauge, at Ivy’s request on Goodreads.

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My Goodreads review can be found here.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve requested books, but this is certainly different. I rated this book fairly highly- it was easy to follow, had a nice flowing plot with a few good subplots. I was going to rate it lower, but the ending convinced me that I needed to read more of it, so that encouraged the higher review. If you like something with a Game of Thrones meets YA feel, this is probably for you.

Sorry for the short blog this week- I’m rather unwell.

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Why I struggle with popular books

Hear me out. This isn’t going to be a bashing or a witch hunt. This is going to be something I lament on because of my own issues and feelings. No fault on any books or what else.

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On instagram I posted a side by side of two books that I’ve read in the last year. They have similar plots (a retelling of Labyrinth and a retelling of Beauty and the Beast). They were both captivating and both well written. I found Wintersong on a whim, had never heard of it, while A Court of Thorns and Roses was recommended to me. Can you guess which one I struggled with?

Hype and the over exaggeration by others can really kill a book for me. I go in expecting a certain standard, a minimum. I don’t mean the genuine, balanced reviews that feature the good and the bad- I mean the fangirl ones. You guys know. I remember reading Twilight before the movie deal and then suddenly- bam. You couldn’t criticize it. I knew it was flawed when I read it. It was a fun indulgence though, a book I didn’t need to think too hard about, and it didn’t have a standard it needed to reach. The second fandom was attached to it- I was out. (Heck, it was even why I couldn’t reread Harry Potter for a few years).

I like to pick a book without any bias. I should be able to see the cover, read the blurb, and make a decision. With the ability to share opinions though, and the inability of some to make a reasonable, well rounded argument for a book other than “it’s the best and you’re stupid if you don’t like it” (not a quote by anyone that recommended this book to me, just a fond one from my Twilight days), makes reading hard. If I had picked up ACOTAR on a whim? I would have loved it. I mean, I like it, but the WHOLE time reading it I had the shadow of my friends and peers looming over me, telling me that oh no it’s good the starts just bad, or the second book is better, etc.

I don’t like this. I want to make my own informed opinion. I also feel like if someone loves something so much they’re willing to make excuses for it, then I can’t say I what I think for fear of offending and bristling them. GUYS. A book can be fun and not well written. A book can have beautiful prose but be boring as sin.

For instance, the first 30% of ACOTAR? I was already expecting a level of high quality, and those pages lacked it. It was slow, self serving (Feyre stop being so narcissistic, goddamn), boring. I couldn’t not shake all the comments I’d be given though. Wintersong was extremely similar but I didn’t struggle with this same issue because I had made the choice to read that book and I had no idea ‘it was going to get better’. It was a journey that I could make with no bias.

So how about instead of blindly defending the books we love, we realise each and every book has its flaws and weakness, and that others will have different opinions to us and we need to let them make them. Then our inner bitchy fangirl can come out and have heated discussions over a mocha. I can be just as catty about books I love!

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Rebranding on social media

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Hey guys! This is more of a quick update post than anything. As you may have noticed if you follow me on social media or look at my instagram photos on my front page, my instagram has suffered a bit of a makeover. In conjunction with the beautiful and talented Lauren Rose we’ve started reading, roses and (w)riting, a fun bookstagram style account to track reviews, beautiful covers, and our own writing.

I will be posting snippets of my current W.I.P every Wednesday with an image attached that I find relevant to the story for the first draft to give little hints and excite myself with the project as I go! I really hope to see more of you on social media- while I do update my blog every friday, I like to post stuff in the moment and social media is a lot more accessible for that!

Do any of you have a fun instagram account? Please feel free to drop it in the comments or tag us on instagram for a follow back! We’re always looking for beautiful photos that will sucker us into adding to our TBR pile.

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Pinteresting things- plotting and structure around images

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So some of you may be aware that Pinterest is a thing. More of you may be aware that authors love Pinterest. I wasn’t really aware of that until recently- I thought it was just something mums did, y’know?

I’ve recently turned to the dark side. Pinterest has been a go to of mine for story planning. I started rewriting a book recently. I mean, I trashed everything but one or two characters, the the feeling I wanted to convey with it. The plot changed, the genre- literally everything. When I first decided I had to scrape this decade old project that I loved so much but knew wasn’t the story it had to be, it hurt. I had no idea where to jump off. So, I turned to pinterest with a few things I did know- what my main characters looked like, and the vibes I wanted to encompass.

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Though these are only a few of the bunch of images I saved, they were a jumping off point. I found reference images I had considered, and built a story around the setting and the moral of the story I wanted to convey.

I still didn’t know WHAT I wanted to happen. I panicked. I had a vague idea now but no real sub plots. So, I did a google. I knew I wanted to write a south gothic/young adult book. That’s when I landed at this incredibly helpful site.

  • Beginning; use voice/mystery/location/atmosphere to drawn in reader
  • Inciting event: what sets the story in motion?
  • What are the goals, motivation, and conflict of the main character?
  • The guts of the story based on these: dialogue, narration, and the right details
  • The black moment: when everything falls apart for dear old protagonist and they’re rammed into a corner
  • Resolution: How do they/don’t they resolve the issue and achieve/not achieve their goals?

Following this super simple formula, based on the fleeting sentence I had for a plot, I put my thoughts into a paragraph for each of these. I expanded and added onto what I already knew and gave voice to the desires of my MC and thought about where their initial actions would lead them.

You know what I did after this? I took facets I built up in these paragraphs (i.e. the conflict) and found images by looking up what happened/how it felt and finding images in pinterest to add to my board. Some of them felt a little silly but I managed to build a clear reference to the setting of my story and the plot began unfurling like flowers on a tree from there!

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Since then I have been scrawling little sub plots and ideas that I want to explore! You know what they said; an image is worth a thousand words.

 

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Keeper and how it’s keeping it’s way in my heart

It’s the third Friday of the month, which means one thing- it’s my review day! (Two months in a row makes a tradition, right?). This blog is actually coming to you from January- I got my preordered copy of February’s debut novel early and of course I couldn’t help myself.

This month is Keeper by debut author, Kim Chance. Set in the sleepy town of Lothbrook, down in the south, not a lot happens here. Lainey Styles is a brilliant girl, intent on getting into a good college early to make her mark on the world as a scientist. Unfortunately for Lainey, the mark is made on her instead when a 200 year old witch launches Lainey into the ultimate and most confusing journey of her life as she discovers that nothing in her life is as it seems.

Now, if you’ve actually read previous blogs (which not a lot of people have, so I don’t blame you!) or follow me on social media- I freaking love Kim. I stumbled onto her channel on youtube just before Keeper was picked up for publishing and I fell in love with her and her book. She’s genuinely so wholesome and sweet, I get a toothache every time she tweets. I admit, this means I might seem bias, but I promise I will actually do my best to be objective and offer some insight into Keeper.

First things first, I did post a small Goodreads review as SOON as I finished reading, and admittedly, my heart had just been torn in half by the ending of this book. I admit, I was more impressed with Keeper than I thought I was going to be. Kim’s background as an English teacher as well as being passionately adorkable is what set this book over the edge.

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Kim’s characters are so vibrant and realistic. My favourite part of the book is definitely the friendship between Maggie and Lainey- it reminds me so much of my own best friend and myself and it is so precious. They’re all very three dimensional, with flaws, as well as moments of cringe. What might be taken as bad writing choices in other scenarios, these moments actually added humanity to her characters. Like Maggie’s obsession with pop culture and comics- it might feel off-putting if this was all Maggie was, but her little monologues are cute, and a huge tell of how she processes the world around her. It’s also a nice contrast from super logical Lainey, providing a balance between them.

There are so many good flaws amongst the characters. Their willingness to see the good despite the bad, Lainey’s inability to process her emotions because she’s so used to her barrier of logic. The complete and absolute shade that is thrown at us at the end of the novel too- I didn’t call any of that. I spiraled hard.

While I do wish this was written for a slightly older audience, I think a lot of reviewers have missed the point that this is a YA paranormal novel and that is a bit sad to me. For it’s genre and how it’s written, it’s a pretty fantastic, Harry Potter-esque read.

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Mental illness, wellness, and not being able to write a fucking thing

I bet a lot of you have, or know someone with a mental illness. There are so many out there to choose from- it’s like Honeydukes up in this shit with the beautiful varieties and concoctions of illnesses. PTSD, anxiety, depression, bipolar, eating disorders- so painfully many, and they just love to hang out together in little bitchy cliques.

What does this matter though? Well, if you fit into the people above that have to deal with mental illness, you know it fucking sucks. You might not wanna eat, you might wanna die, you might be so unstable with your emotions that you don’t sleep for three days and your room mate has to threaten to knock you out with a bat. Mental illness affects every day life, and even good days can be a struggle.

I myself have been diagnosed with BPD (borderline personality disorder), PTSD, anxiety and depression for literally a decade now. It has had its bouts of good and bad, but for the most part- it’s been bad. I struggled to get through University, I made bad decisions (none of them as bad as Lena Dunham’s entire career, but still fairly catastrophic).  I’ve learned a lot from this- mostly, that I needed help. To also cut myself slack.

I struggle with the slack cutting. A type A, J personality type to the max, I want to be and have to be the best. Which means a lot of the time my fear of failure or not achieving the standard I want for myself means…I get nothing done. My illness literally sits there, flipping me off whilst mooning me.

So today is a pep talk to you, me, and everyone else out there- it’s alright to mess up. It’s fine to not do your best. It’s not fucking fine to not try at all. So haul your ass up, turn off Netflix (I see you, I see you), and get to work. We’re not gonna let each other down.

I’m gonna go force myself to work, and for you to as well. So before you do, I want you to go hug someone. I don’t care if they/you don’t need it right now, cause they might need it later. Go out of your way to make others feel good- go out of your way to make you feel good.

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

My adventures with Tumblr

For this week’s blog, I wanted to mix things up a bit. I decided to make a tumblr
(which I do plan to regularly maintain!) and write about the process and what happened.

So, first of all, my decision to make a tumblr was based on a few things; one- I felt kinda left out. People seem to really enjoy theirs and I wanted to be apart of that. Two- It had the pinterest vibe but with customization aspects that appealed to me. Three- I like reasons to procrastinate!

So, before making a tumblr, I reached out on my personal FB. I got a lot of messages about tumblr, but my friend actually posted some really good foundations for me on my status about it.

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So, I had no clue that people had multiple for aesthetic and themes and stuff, which should have seemed obvious now that I think about it, haha. So, I opened up tumblr, created an account, and dove right in, because doing is the best way to learn.

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So initially your tumblr is blank as heck. Nothing besides the url I picked, basically. I sort of just clicked around to work out what I was doing. I knew I wanted a fantasy/writing aesthetic vibe to it, so I went to edit theme first and began mangling my tumblr from there.

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Guys, there are a hecking lot of options and it can be OVERWHELMING. I think I spent maybe an hour going through themes, browsing and previewing, trying to find something that felt like me. I don’t know much about html but I figured my partner, who works in DevOps, could mess around with whatever I picked later, so I finally settled on a theme.

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I picked a really simple theme in the end, and it just felt RIGHT. The theme was called “Notes” and I did some simple editing from there. I changed the background colour to be my standard shade of pink, the one that has been used on all my social media and on my business cards, etc. I also went to google fonts to choose a font that I wanted for my tumblr. I went with Indie Flower- it’s cute and light and reminiscent of my own hand writing. A lot of the other stuff I did was pretty simple- I changed the colour of the tabs and added a blog name, description, and an avatar. Really simple stuff, honestly.

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After that, I returned to the dashboard and searched different terms that related to me and began scheduling some items to be reblogged that I felt suited the “vibe” of my blog! This bit was obviously the funnest. I set up some scheduled stuff so I could have regular updating content without having to spend all day on tumblr. I also made a first post to commemorate, and followed a few authors and friends that I knew already had blogs.

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I still don’t have much idea what I’m doing, but I’m excited to get to know tumblr and the community better. It’s been a fun experience thus far and I highly recommend making a blog or two to suit your aesthetic needs. It’s definitely a social media platform that I think I’ll be easily able to spend more time on, and easily customization for future changes. Do you have a tumblr, or follow one you like? Hit me up with a link so I can go have a look!

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo

Getting some stuff done!

So this week/weekend is getting busy over here! I’ve been pretty ill the last week and suddenly bam, I have a million things I’m getting done for my site, social media, and my writing. On Saturday, I’m having my first out of costume photoshoot with a professional photography friend so I have an actual adult author photo on here…and not one of me dressed like a ten year old magical girl. As much as that is what I am in my head, probably doesn’t scream the most professional person ever to others.

I’m also in the middle of communications to commission some new art! Ah! I have a good idea of what I want and a small artist that I love and have paid for work from before, so hoping that that goes well. If you ever have a chance to support someone budding in their field- take it, and do your best to push their name out there. If everything goes through, I’ll be spamming their work out to everyone.

update: negotiations are in progress, woohoo!

I’ve been pretty lackluster with content and with my writing, but I’m setting myself some goals and some plans. Sometimes this blog is going to be purely catch up, rambling crazy talk but I will be doing my best to hopefully produce some content that you enjoy, or maybe even learn something from.

Also, my mother told me you all need to tell me off and make me write more. So, I was thinking of ways to encourage myself to write. I’ve decided to show you something I’ve been working on- a sample of Audrey. To get access to a chapter of the Story of Audrey, I’d really appreciate it if you filled out this form so that I can email you a sample!

Thanks for everything, guys. I hope to end up making you all proud, even if it’s slow.

Happy writing,

Emma-Kate xoxo