Author Archives: amandacook018gmailcom

NaNoWriMo 2019

Hey Everyone!

This week is going to be short, sweet, and to the point. I have been very tired with trying to figure out how to get my posts working and coming out a little more steady, but a lot of that will come with a schedule that is more set. Which has finally arrived (I hope).

Anyway, this week we have started NaNoWriMo which is a challenge that many writers do because it is National Writing Month! I would really like to know why writing month has to happen this close to the end of the year, but I think it just helps to challenge people further.

Once a year, thousands of writers come together and write 50,000 words in a month. That equates out to about 1667 words a day. A normal challenge for a writer is 500 words a day. This is hard. But they say if you do 500 words a day for 3 months you will have a novel finished. This is that… only much, much faster.

This is my first time competing, but it is my third time trying to get to the 50,000 words. Let me tell you, many people drop out during the second week because it is difficult to keep the momentum going for the entire month. I will say that I am working on something that I am very excited about and I may even share part of it over the next few weeks. It is a novel idea that I’ve had for a long time. I am often told that murder mystery/crime novels are something that people do when they’re older, but I’m going to try and accomplish it now… while I’m 20… and only have short stories and cross genre work under my belt…. it’ll be fine. Hopefully.

There are two kinds of people who write: planners, and pansters. People who plan things, and people who fly by the seat of their pants and see what they can do. I am a mixture of the two. Even with that, I feel like I was thrown a bit into the writing this month and I am really going to struggle to continue to put out posts, but I will do it!

I am also challenging myself to read a book a week. I am working on finishing up The Raven which is the sequel to The Sentinel and then I have a crime and murder mystery series that I have been dying to get to.

Finally, I will begin putting together my book arts project, meaning that I will have a youtube channel that will have each project’s reveal as well as the steps that it took to get everything done. I am not someone who has ever done video editing before, so it will be interesting. Those video’s should be posted by the beginning of February and I should have my next chapbook coming out in the Winter (so in March or April).

Writing takes a long time, so it is something that is often anticlimactic until it comes out.

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post. I truly appreciate it and I promise that things will be picking up soon here. If there is anything that I can do to make things more interesting here or to liven things up, let me know! I am very open to suggestions and would love to hear from you guys.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Draft No. ______

Hey Everyone,

So there are a lot of things going on around my house and Halloween is just around the corner. I have finally been able to find a job (2 actually) so I’ll finally have some stress relieved in that department. On the flip side, I am falling behind in my posts here as well as in my rough draft which is never a good thing.

This week I have a lot of work related anxiety since I’m starting both new jobs practically tomorrow, but for now I just wanted to talk about something really simple. Drafts.

Everyone has a different way that they go about writing, but no matter who the writer is, nothing comes out perfect the first time. No matter how good you think it is, it’s not the best that it can be. You may need to read through it and make corrections 2-10 times. I put 10 times on there because I have drafted something that many times and it is so tedious, but so necessary.

My current piece that I am working on is actually in it’s third draft phase. I have been expanding, cutting, and mostly clarifying what it is that I’m writing. Having a shitty first draft is better than having a blank page staring back at you.

I also think that people don’t realize how important drafting is. In college I would often write something, read through it once for grammar and flow, and then turn it in without really bothering to rewrite any of the parts that could have given me better clarity. It was something that I didn’t want to take time for.

I had a friend in high school and in my first two years of college who was ashamed of how long it took him to put out a decent version of a short story that he was writing (this was back when I was following a more… self destructive course for schooling rather than doing what I wanted. He mentioned how easily people seemed to be able to write their stories and how he was going to only have one while they had several.

Originally I had blown him off saying that there was no reason that he should feel uncomfortable with how long a draft was taking. He had probably 20 different iterations of his one story and wasn’t happy with any of them. He stopped drafting about a week later and ended up being able to squeak out a couple more short stories to save his grade. I was happy for him. Happy for the fact that he passed the class.

Now, I’m more devastated at the fact that he put out work that he wasn’t proud of. As writers, it’s easy to have this inferiority complex and to feel like we will never be good enough. I feel that that comes from the way that we were taught to write early on in school. Write an entire essay in 90 minutes and use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Writing was about deadlines and having something done in a certain amount of time.

I’m not going to be that writer that says that you have all the time in the world to get your piece right because I live in the real world. Deadlines do exist. I have a deadline of Feb. 1st to have a writing piece done as well as it’s accompanying book arts project. I had originally planned to have 2 pieces, like that done, but there was no way that that was going to happen – Unless I had decided to put out work that I’m not proud of. I’m applying for my Masters! If I can’t put out work in my application that I’m proud of, then I feel like I’m selling myself short.

Word to the wise: play with it until you’re happy with it, have someone else read it, and then play with it some more.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this. I promise that I will be getting my head on track and putting out posts at a more scheduled time on Monday. Book Reviews as always are just kind of happening whenever I get the chance to finish a book, seems like Fridays are my thing right now for that.

Finally I wanted to do a check in. I posted a similar thing in a post about 2 weeks ago I think. It was mainly to see how people were feeling about how the blog is going, if there were things that I needed to change, or if everything was going pretty smoothly. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

It’s been awhile since I posted a picture, but I have recently been talking with one of the exchange students that I have hosted in the past from Japan. Making me really want to go out and see her. We had a total of 3 students, Miku, Suzune, and Hiromi and also one teacher named Aiya. All of them came out at different times except for Suzune and Hiromi who both came out together.

Book Review: The Sentinel

Hey Everyone,

I am very excited about this book review. This was actually a last minute suggestion by my step sister and I took a leap and tried it out. Probably the best book that I have read all year. So let’s just get into it!

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Title: The Sentinel

Author: Jeremy Bishop

# of pages: 284

Genre: Action & Adventure, Fiction, Horror, Thriller

Published: September 2011

Total Read Time: 1 Day

Rating out of 10: 8

Summary: (Taken from Back of Book)

In the frigid waters off the Arctic Ocean, north of Greenland, the anti-whaling ship, The Sentinel, and her crew face off against a harpoon ship in search of Humpback whales. When the two ships collide and a suspicious explosion sends both ships to the bottom, the crews take refuge on what they think is a peninsula attached to the mainland, but is actually and island, recently freed from a glacial ice bridge. Seeking shelter, the two opposing crews scour the island for resources. Instead, they find Viking artifacts, the preserved remains of an ancient structure and a stone totem warning of horrible creatures warning of horrible creatures buried in the island’s caves.

Facing violent and frigid storms, a hungry polar bear and the very real possibility that they are stranded without hope of rescue, Jane Harper leads the two crews, who must work together to defend themselves against an ancient evil upon which the modern stories of both zombies and vampires are based upon. The original undead are awake and hungry.

Beware the Draugar.

Review:

This book was a fantastic read. Something that I think is a good intro into suspense and horror reading. I am not a horror fan in movies or in books, but this might very well be one of the best books that I have read all year. I was not expecting something quite like this.

I think what threw me a bit about this book was that there was a lot of humor involved – Jane is a very sarcastic character that is very likable and is probably the thing that makes the book worth reading. As I said earlier, this is a good starter book for anyone looking into reading horror based novels. The beginning of the book is no problem and moves really fast. I like that there aren’t any bigger words so that you are able to work your way through the book without stopping to figure out what anything. Once you hit the halfway mark is where things start to get creepy.

As I was reading this I had a chat going with my sister and I was just venting – this book plays with your emotions a lot. You hate some characters, love others, but in the end you know that a lot of them are going to die. Which brings us to the actual descriptions that Bishop uses when showing us how someone dies. I think that he did an amazing job with describing just enough that our imaginations would take care of the rest. I have an extremely overactive imagination, so I was pretty creeped out reading the second half of the book.

My favorite part about this whole book is that you learn so much about Norse and Viking history and mythology. The other thing that I like is that this isn’t a zombie story and it’s also not a vampire story. It’s an undead story that has it’s own set of rules and doesn’t fall into normal stereotypes that so many books do. I think that the uses of the Draugar was amazing and that it made the story a little different which I liked a lot. The final thing I want to say is that the entire book only covers about 1.5 days. That’s all. So much happens that you often forget that.

I only gave the book an 8/10 because there was a lot of stuff that happened because of a conveniently placed character. Without this character, everyone would have died so much faster and there would be no one left over. If/when you read the book, you will know who I am talking about. There is also one person that I have no idea what happened to her. It bothers me because I read that section of the book several times trying to figure it out, but it’s like she just disappeared off the face of the earth. If someone knows what really happened to Peach, tell me because I couldn’t figure it out.

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Don’t let any of the negative comments dissuade you from reading this book. It was amazing and I would read it again. It was fast and that was something that I was really liking about it. I would suggest this book to anyone who is looking to try out the horror genre because it’s sort of like Goosebumps for adults. Its got a lot of sarcasm, lots of humor, but has a good plot.

Thanks so much for reading this and I hope that you check this book out. It is worth the time and effort if you like a light read with a good story.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Book Abandonment: Dark Visions

Hey Everyone,

So this is something that I was hoping would be happening a little bit later. I had high hopes for this series because I am a fan of L.J. Smith, but I could not bring myself to try and finish the second book and the prospect of reading the third book was kind of… I probably would have died before finishing it. So, let’s get on with it.

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Dark Visions by L.J. Smith

I’d like to start by saying, that L.J. Smith is one of the authors that I have read several books from – in fact I have a few more lined up that will appear as book reviews here as well.

I spent a total of almost two months reading through the first two books of the Dark Visions Trilogy. Here’s what I found:

  • Smith tried to come up with another theory as to Vampires and the way that they take a “life force” from humans. I thought that the idea was good, but there was something to be desired about the way that she set everything up.
  • All of the characters were somewhat annoying and there was a lot of childish natures tied with people who were supposed to be seniors in high school that I don’t see reflected in real seniors. aka – some of the characters lacked maturity.
  • The whole series was moving quite slow. I think that there are ways that certain details could have come up much faster and in just as meaningful of ways.
  • The romance was way too fast and the triangle that was created was cringe worthy. I do enjoy some romance in books and a lot of the YA that I read has it, but this romance happened without any real struggle and way to fast.

These were some of the main things that I found to be awry with this book.

I respect and enjoy L.J. Smiths work having read it for many years, but there was something about this book that I couldn’t stand. This book just missed the mark with me. It happens a lot with authors – you can love many of their books and then there is just one (or in this case 3) that just tend to miss the mark.

All in all, I wouldn’t recommend this book, as you can tell. I do reccomend some of her other books such as:

  • The Night World Series
  • The Forbidden Game
  • Vampire Diaries – this one is one that I need to read again to make sure, but from what I remember, the first book is the one that is the most worthy of reading.

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Thank you everyone and sorry for an abandonment post so early on. This is something that I am typically too stubborn to do, but with too little time to read, why waste it on a book that drives you nuts? This book is officially going on Goodwill pile – another thing that I don’t normally do.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

The Garden

Hey Everyone,

This week is going to be a bit longer post, so bare with me. The piece that is down below is still in the very early stages of editing and it is also the first time I wrote about my two favorite main characters: Jerron and Havoc. This is a story that I would eventually like to make into a longer piece, but for now, I hope that you enjoy the really unedited short story, The Garden.

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I am standing in a bright room. A forbidden room. The floor falls out from under my feet. I am still standing. Gazing downward I see comets shoot across the floor, stars shining.

A weight becomes apparent in my hands. An apple, a bite taken and then left to rot in my grasp. I try to drop it. Nothing happens. I try again. More nothing.

A shadow comes next to me. A dark figure so cloaked that I can see nothing of its form. Nothing of its gender. A gender-less nothing.

I look around me and am faced with glass walls and a door which I already know is locked. Winter is set deeply in, snow piling on the dead and fallen trees of the world outside my glass box, but still balancing on the universe.

Beings I couldn’t recognize roamed the world outside of the cage, the stars shining in their skin. These beings were large and small, with horns or wings, large teeth or with none at all. These beings were known as … dinosaurs. That was what Master called them. As time passed the beings changed, morphing into different creatures.

The setting outside began to change as well, the forest covered in snow, turning into rugged mountains and clear skies. Creatures flew through the sky on large wings and made squawking noises as they passed. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life.

The creatures morphed once more, but this time their form was obscured by the storm that howled around the room. I could feel the wind battering against my face. The form beside me long forgotten, but still there. Thunder and lightning cracked outside and hit my glass box. I am mesmerized by the world that keeps changing, but I don’t notice what was happening to the glass box.

With each crack of lightning and roll of thunder cracks would appear in the box. My mind was swimming in the knowledge of the world being shown to me. The floor beneath my feet gave way, and I felt myself fall into the cosmos.

Before I could disappear, the door to the room flew open and light burst into vision. Arms wrapped around me and I felt the air rush through my hair as I was dropped on the floor outside door to the box.

I knew who was standing there without looking up. “What in God’s name were you doing in there, Jerron?” Master stood above me and brought his hand down hard on the top of my head. “Do you have any idea what could have happened to you in there? The Garden is not a place that a student should be playing!” Master was a prodigy. He had graduated at the age of 15 from his own master when most students didn’t graduate until they were 20. He was considered one of the best Descendants in existence. I am proud to be his student.

I looked up at Master and quickly looked away. He was fuming. “I…I’m sorry Master. I didn’t think it would hurt.” I stood up and tucked my bangs back behind my ears. Master sighed and put his hand on my shoulder.

“I understand your curiosity, Jerron, but there are rules to becoming a Descendant. You must stay out of The Garden until you are ready. If not, you could severely damage yourself.” I stood there, uncertain of what Master meant. There is a lot that I don’t understand about the world and Master only shared what was important at the time. Even at the age of 17 I was not trusted with information about the world before our current one.

Master sighed again and ran a hand through his hair. Master was only four years older than me, but that age gap seemed much larger given the difference in knowledge. Finally, having decided something, Master grabbed me by the shoulder and dragged me down the long hall of the mansion that all the Descendants lived in.

I stumbled into the room behind Master and saw that he had dragged me into his personal study. I went to sit down in my normal chair but ended up getting pulled onto the couch next to Master. “Master, wha-”

“Havoc. Call me Havoc in here, Jerron. It’ll be easier that way. Besides, there is only four years in between us. It feels weird having you call me ‘master’. I would prefer if we could be friends sometimes – that would make what I’m about to do a lot easier. I need you to listen to me closely.”

I nodded and my eyes followed him as he began pacing the room.

“Decedents are special beings. We are trusted to be the gate keepers of the world that existed before our own – the one that existed on the surface. The generations before us destroyed their world and forced us down into the very heart of the world we were told was ours. Once we got here, we found that the world held onto the secrets and past and would choose special people who it would then entrust its knowledge to. We call them Descendants.” Havoc paced the room and moved his hands as he spoke, looking at me occasionally.

“A special place was made by the earth that encompassed all of the magic and knowledge that we have. That is The Garden. The Garden is a place where our mental barriers are challenged, and the bounds of our mind are stretched. The glass box that you see represents your mind. The cracking was the boundaries of your mind being expanded. It went too far though and shattered the floor, allowing the storm to come inside.” Havoc slowed his pacing and walked over to the bookshelf, pulling a book off and holding it gently in his hands.

“When a student or Descendant go into The Garden without someone else, they run the risk of damaging a part of their mind.”

I tried to catch the name of the book in his hands, but it was obscured. All that I was being told was new knowledge to me, but I still didn’t understand one thing. “Master – I mean Havoc, what was the shadowed figure? There was someone in there with me. It didn’t talk to me, but it didn’t do anything to help me either. What was it?”

Havoc went pale at my question and I wasn’t sure what to make of that. He tightened his hands on the book and looked around. “That is a question better asked at another time.” Havoc walked over to me and placed the book in my hands. “For now, turn to page 394 in this book and we can begin a new lesson.”

I took the book that was offered to me and opened it. Once to the page I saw it was black. The book slipped from my hands and consciousness faded.

Havoc carefully picked the book up off the floor. It was unfortunate, but Jerron couldn’t remember what had happened today. That would complicate a lot of things and permanently damage his mind. That was something Havoc had to prevent at all costs. If what Jerron said was true, then the shadowed figure should have stopped him from getting inside. The only way for him to have opened the door was if Havoc’s suspicions were correct.

            The shadowed figure was the guardian of the mind. It was something that each person created when they entered The Garden. Most students were protected by their master’s guardian since most students are unable to make their own. The fact that Jerron was able to was beyond anything that Havoc had imagined that he would be able to do.

            That wasn’t the only thing that bothered Havoc though. In order for someone – anyone – to intrude on The Garden while a guardian was present meant that there was a type of soul connection between the two people. Bottom line: Havoc never should have been able to reach him unless they were bonded.

            Havoc didn’t want to complicate Jerron’s apprenticeship anymore than he had to. If he had told this to any of the other masters, they would have told him the truth no doubt. For now, the safest thing was just to temporarily wipe his memory… again. Havoc could keep a closer eye on him without suspicion then.

            Sitting down next to Jerron, Havoc brushed the bangs out of his face and rested a hand on his head. It was hard to believe that the person he was bonded with was a boy this young and innocent and that only made Havoc’s job as a teacher all the more difficult. The world was full of terrible people and events, but the only way to ensure that Jerron made it through the next 3 years was to stay as close as possible to him without making him feel pressured into anything.

            Havoc knew when the time came, he would be able to talk to Jerron and tell him everything, but in the mean time he would continue to guide him as he had for the last 2 years. One thing never changed though: The Garden knows many secrets.

Quality over Quantity

Hey Everyone!

So this weekend was very busy with the wedding, but it was beautiful and the weather actually held out for us. The morning was wet and drizzly, but the afternoon couldn’t have been more beautiful – a little warmer would have been best though. All in all, my aunt couldn’t have pulled off a more beautiful wedding.

This week I wanted to talk about something that is very important to remember as a writer that often gets bypassed. Quality over quantity.

As a writer in school, professors wanted you to turn out a certain number of poems, short stories, whatever – in a week. They wanted you to write just to get words to paper. In reality, you are lucky to get a poem out in a month. One poem can be written four or five times before you are happy with it and it is considered “done”. I am running into this problem now.

I have mentioned before that I am working on my MFA application and I am working on editing, expanding, and creating a piece of book art for this application. My goal was to complete two pieces. One that was a series of letters, and another that was a cross genre prose piece. Both were going to be completed and have books made, the process documented and thrown into a video which was going to be the videos that I made for YouTube that I talked about last week.

I thought it would be possibly to get all this stuff done before February 1st. That is complete and total crap. I realized that today as I was reading through my work. There is so much that goes into making any book and any time less than what you need isn’t going to turn out work that you are proud of.

I always thought that I would rather die and put out work that I wasn’t proud of. I was quickly proven wrong when there was a time line that was placed on creating a full length chapbook with at least 7,000 words. Three weeks. That was all I got. The stories weren’t what I wanted and honestly needed a lot of work. But I did what I could given the time that I had.

I came to the conclusion today that if I’m going to put out work for my MFA, I wouldn’t feel good about it unless I was able to put in the work that would be needed for it. At this point, I plan to work on and finish one project in all of it’s completion to turn in to the program. I am alright turning in the writing only for the second project. I’m itching to start something new as well

This is all very personal, but some writers are able to turn out a lot of high quality books very quickly:

  • Sherilyn Kenyon
  • James Patterson
  • Erin Hunter
  • Diana Steele

And that’s just a few of them. In the end you have to decide what it is that is most important at the time. Quality or Quantity.

I think that there is some importance about just getting pen to paper and get words to the paper. Once the words are out, then you have something to work with. When first starting out, that can actually be helpful.

When it comes down to it though, taking the time to make work that you are proud of is always what’s important. Take the time that you need to create the work that you need. There are always people who are going to want to push you to get it done sooner – and those who have aggressive managers will have that – but there’s no need to make more than needed. Sometimes the bare minimum is the best.

So I hope that this isn’t too off kilter from how I normally talk. I have been battling a migraine for the last few days and I’m not completely sure that this makes sense. I can revisit this later again if needed.

Till the next chapter,

Amanda

Throw back to my first fully completed book. Laments is still one of my favorite things that I have done to dote and I take a lot of pride in it. I still have a lot of them available, so if your interested in it, just let me know.

Book Review: Dark Visions Part 1 of 3

Hey Everyone!

So this is the first review of three for the Dark Visions Trilogy. I have decided to break this into three parts for a few reasons. I think that each book has its own pros and cons and I think that it’s important to know when you probably want to stop reading. The other reason is that I am only finished with the first one because the wedding has been taking up a lot of my spare time. I haven’t touched my rough draft since Saturday. So, let’s get started.

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Title: The Strange Power

Author: L.J. Smith

# of Pages: 250

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Supernatural

Published: December 1994

Total Read Time: 30 Days

Rating out of 10: 4

Summary:

Kaitlyn Fairchild is an Ohio senior without friends and often labeled as an outcast and as “cold”. The reason: she sees things that others can’t. She can see things as they happen, horrible things. Her skills as an artist brings it to life on paper and when people see it, they get scared. Kaitlyn finds herself getting the offer of a life time and moves to California to finish out her schooling in exchange for some testing on her “psychic” abilities. For the first time ever, she is face to face with people like her who have special powers.

Review:

In all, the first book held my attention. It did start slow and it took awhile for me to get into the story which is why the read time is so long for how short the book was. Once I was into the book and realized where it was going, I was able to roll right through it. It was difficult in the beginning to tell where the story was going. The title of the trilogy leads you to believe that it is about Vampires when in reality it is about physic abilities – which was a bit of a throw off. This first book is very light in a romance sense. There are hints of crushes, but nothing for sure happens. You’re in the head of a teenage girl, so I think that it makes sense.

I think that this is a really easy read even for an avid reader so I think that this would be perfectly fine for someone who is not accustomed to reading all the time. It is easy to follow and moves at a pace that would keep most everyone interested.

I rated this book as a 4/10 because this book really wasn’t meant to be read on it’s own. You know that it was meant to be read with the other ones and it felt like an introductory book. I don’t know if this would be one that I read again.

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Just as a note for how I will be doing the reviews: the Genre that I put are the ones that I see the book as in order that I feel that they appear. Meaning this book is mostly YA and least Supernatural. Also, the rating is also just a personal opinion. As someone who reads a lot of YA in particular, this book was especially disappointing because of how hyped up the series was to me and how much I enjoy L.J. Smith’s writing.

That’s all for this book review!

The next book that I will be doing is for the second book in the Dark Visions series.

Till the next chapter

Amanda