Life updates

I realized it’s been a while since I’ve given a general life update so here it goes:

  • Recently I stopped posting as much book promotion stuff on Facebook promo pages or my personal Twitter account. I’ve tried to be more relaxed, be more myself and less of a saleswoman. I’ve tried to focus my energies on creating cool Facebook Ads and growing my following through Instagram because I’ve read a few articles that have talked about the wonders of these two. Still not sure I’ve gotten the hang of Facebook Ads. I’ve created three so far and, while they’ve generated some good traffic for my author page, they haven’t been doing much for book sales. Same goes for Instagram. I’ve been visiting the booklovers, bookworms, and amreading “pages” and making some new friends but I haven’t seen a huge leap in followers. Yet again, I’ve only been working at both of these for a little over two weeks so it’s probably too soon to tell. More on that later.

 

  • After finishing the first draft of my first ever science fiction novel, I sent it off to two beta readers and asked for their honest opinions. I also asked each of them to look for specific things to give me feedback on. For example, for my dude friend, I asked him to tell me if there were any parts in the story that didn’t sound manly enough. My main character is a guy but I’m still working on perfecting my “man voice” so I needed him to tell me if my MC was starting to sound like a girl at any point in time. And since the character in the book is very similar to my friend, I wanted to know how close I came to pegging down his personality. Lastly, I asked him if any of the science fictiony parts were too unbelievable. I got his notes today, which was exciting and also nerve-wracking. Turned out, I worried for nothing because he liked the book. He also had some great insights to share! So I got to work on the second…third?…round of edits for The Andromeda’s Ghost. I’m still waiting on the notes from beta reader number two and then I’ll probably be doing a little more editing. Then I’ll read through the whole thing one more time and it should be ready for querying.

 

  • While I’ve been waiting for my beta readers’ notes, I’ve been working on the sequel to this sci-fi book. This is only the second time in my young life that I’ve ever written a story with its sequels already in mind. (The Sentinel’s Trilogy was the first, of course. Sorry, my faerie friends. I will get back to you eventually! I promise!) So this is exciting for me! I’m doing research on the medical field since one of the new characters in the sequel is going to be a doctor. This character’s back story is going to be complicated; I’m mapping it all out before I introduce her to the main character. I’m also going to try modeling her after another friend of mine, just because I don’t want the same personality types to appear in my stories. I’m on the look out for fresh perspectives. I want to continue to challenge myself, to put myself in the mindset of someone who doesn’t think like me. It’s what I did for The Andromeda’s Ghost and it turned out to be a lot of fun. We’ll see how this goes!

 

  • On a more personal note, I saw Infinity War with my husband and our friends last weekend….I’m still recovering.

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DcD06wzVAAgP7ho b0llo

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Very much looking forward to the next Marvel Avengers movie. Hopefully there’ll be more answers. Until then, I mourn.

 

  • Next weekend is my birthday. Woot woot! I’ve looked pretty much the same since I was fourteen years old but I’m only now feeling like I look my actual age. So I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ll be turning twenty-four. Praying I’ll stay on this plateau and not start looking any older until I’m sixty. Anywho, I’ll be in Wisconsin visiting my mother-in-law that weekend and attending my first ever writers conference! There won’t be a blog post for that Thursday or Friday, but I’ll include pictures and details of the conference two weeks from today.

 

  • May 29th is my third wedding anniversary. Another woot woot for that one! Since the 29th falls on a Tuesday this year, my husband’s got something planned for the weekend before. That’ll be another Thursday/Friday with no blog post. After that, things are going to be calm and boring again so the schedule will return to normal.

 

As always, thanks for reading, guys! See you next time.

 

 

White Christmas

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, my husband and I went to Wisconsin this year to spend Christmas with his mother. She is originally from Phoenix, like us, but she moved there two years ago for a job. She treated us all by purchasing our plane tickets to come see her. My husband’s three brothers were there longer than we were, but we had five whole days together as a family. There was food, games, naps, Christmas music and movies, lots of laughter, and snow.

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The breakfast of champions cooked by my mother-in-law and yours truly.

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Bailey (Duncan’s girlfriend) and I decorating cookies.

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 The fruits of my labor. I don’t think I’ll be quitting my day job anytime soon.

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My mother-in-law’s barn.

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A fallen log on the side of my mother-in-law’s property.

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The view from my balcony.

I’ve only been in the snow three times in my entire life and I have to say, this was the best time of them all. The key to comfort in below zero temperatures? The proper attire. Thanks to my mother-in-law, we had snow jackets, snow pants, hats, mittens, and the thickest socks known to man available in many different sizes. We each had a layer that fit us so, when we went outside, we were comfortable. It was great.

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My husband and I, ready to go out into the snow!

While we mostly stayed indoors and enjoyed each others’ company, we did go out a few times…

To see A Christmas Carol, the play.

20171222_153810The Children’s Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, during intermission.

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My husband, the recovering cripple, and I.

To pick out our live Christmas tree.

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BTWs: it was fourteen degrees outside.

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This is where we went to get our tree.

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From left to right: my husband, Devo (otherwise known as Tiny Tim), Donevin and Duncan (the twins), and Dallas.

 20171224_103253My husband and I being all cute and stuff.

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From left to right: me, Joan (my mother-in-law), and Bailey (Duncan’s girlfriend).

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Me and my mom-in-law.

As you can see, we had a lot of fun choosing out our tree. This Happ’s place was amazing.

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It was basically an enormous evergreen field.

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Can’t decide between a live tree and a colored one? No problem at Happ’s! They’ll paint a live tree for you.

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Don’t ask me how they do it because I don’t know. But it sure looked pretty!

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This is Dallas dragging our tree to the car after it was cut.

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And this is our tree after we brought it home and decorated it.

We also went to Christmas Eve service at my mother-in-law’s church but I didn’t get any pictures of that. Suffice it to say that we had a lovely time singing Christmas carols and remembering the reason for the season. It was also super cute to see my mother-in-law glowing as she introduced us to everyone.

On Christmas morning, we read about the birth of Christ from Matthew and then opened our presents. (Please excuse the poor quality of the following photos. It might have been mid-afternoon but I was half asleep when I took them.)

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Duncan and Bailey.

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Donevin, Dallas, and Duke (the dog).

 

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Joan and my husband.

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I was there too, see?

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Yeah, we can’t take serious pictures. #sorrynotsorry

We were blessed with new clothes, shoes, books, games, Amazon giftcards, and Star Wars action figures, but I’d like to shed a spotlight on the gifts we received from Bailey.

20171225_124631This talented gal made ceramic mugs and cups for all of us.

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See how the glaze runs and fades into different shades of color? She did that herself! So cool.

And just like that it was over, this long awaited holiday, this merry get-together. My husband and I rolled out of bed on Tuesday afternoon, packed up our gifts and clothes, and got into the car. Two hours later, we boarded our plane and flew back to Phoenix, back to sixty degrees and reality. As we lay in our own bed that night, we started listing the things we already missed.

“The snow,” he said.

“Driving around in the same car with everybody,” I said. (We had the funniest conversations.)

“The sound of my brothers talking in the next room,” he said.

“Not having a schedule,” I said.

[insert big, nostalgic sigh here.]

Now we’ve entered that strange time in-between Christmas and New Years. We’re going to work and slowly getting back into our regular routines, but the upcoming holiday is sure to make things a little screwy again. We usually drive down to California to spend New Years with my family but we’re doing something a little different this year. My sister is going to Europe with her boyfriend so we’ve postponed our New Year’s celebration until the second weekend in January. That way we can all be together. My husband and I are spending New Years with friends for the very first time. We have no idea what we’re going to do but, by golly, we’re going to do something.

And then 2017 will be over.

Wow.

I heard it said once that days go by slow but years go by fast. That saying becomes more and more true the older I get. It’s incredible.

Well, I hope everyone had a fun Christmas! Be safe during New Years! I’ll check back in on the fourth of January.

On Beauty and the Beast

All right, so I finally dragged my husband to see the live action Beauty and the Beast film. Belle is my favorite Disney princess of all time, with Mulan as a close second. (She’s technically not a princess, but she’s still amazing.) You can see the appeal; a girl living in a small town, who prefers reading over social functions and dreams of adventures. I felt a personal connection with this girl, and the love story between her and the Beast is just so sweet. I want to start by saying that I enjoyed the film. I understand why most of the changes were made and why some additions were thrown in there. That being said, there are definitely pros and cons.

  • Pro: The setting. I absolutely loved the details of the village, the enormity of the castle, the spookiness of the forest, the costumes, the colors. It was all amazing. I felt as if I had been transported into 19th century France.
  • Pro: The music. Everyone had beautiful voices. All the original songs were included, with the addition of three shorter musical numbers that immersed themselves flawlessly in the story. I was in awe at the musical talent and deliberateness in the score. It added to the magical-ness of the whole film.
  • Pro: The cast. I greatly admire Emma Watson, Sir Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, Luke Evans, and Emma Thompson. They all did an amazing job at bringing this animated story to life.
  • Pro: Beast’s past and Belle’s mother. I really liked how they elaborated on what happened to both of the main character’s mothers and how it impacted their childhood. It explained why the prince was the way that he was (without his mother’s influence, his father was able to warp the young boy into a miniature clone of himself) and it also explained why all of the servants in the castle were cursed too. Apparently, they did nothing to stop the prince’s transformation into a shallow, selfish man. The death of her mother explains Belle’s fascination with the world beyond her little village. (Her parents met and were married in Paris.) I believe it made these characters a little deeper and more relate-able.
  • Con: Belle’s affections toward the Beast. Throughout the part of the movie where they are getting to know each other, Belle’s character seems curious and amused, not necessarily like a girl who’s falling in love. There was just so much more emotion on the animated Belle’s face while she was singing and reading with the Beast. You can tell that her view has changed and now she’s starting to see good qualities in the Beast. By the time the famous evening of dancing comes along, she’s completely comfortable with their relationship and on the brink of falling in love. The teasing and more personal conversations that were added in the live action film were good. I enjoyed them and I’m glad they were added as it showed the two talking about deeper things other than books. I just wish Emma Watson had expressed a little more emotion during those scenes other than playful amusement. Then it would be more believable when she tells the Beast that she loves him. It seemed to me that the Beast was more infatuated with her than she was with him, especially after that passionate solo he sang while she was galloping away from his castle.
  • Con: Ewan McGregor’s French accent. I loved him in Star Wars and Mulin Rouge! He can sing, dance, and fight with a lightsaber. He’s a great actor. He brought a playful and determined edge to the live action Lumiere that I loved. I just couldn’t believe his French accent. It seemed too forced to me, too fake, like he could have used some lessons. Everyone else’s accents were believable (although, now I’m wondering why Belle didn’t have an accent…), but I couldn’t buy Lumiere’s.
  • Con: Maurice. In the animated film, Belle’s father is very smart. He’s a bit oblivious of the world around him, but that is often one of the key characteristics of an inventor. They are creative, driven, and not too interested in anything other than their work and their loved ones. In the live action film, Maurice is a grieving husband and tinkerer. We see him working on a beautiful music box that portrays a personal scene of his past (an evening where he painted a portrait of his wife and infant daughter), and several of his drawings are on display in his work room. He’s more of an sad artist than a brilliant and misunderstood scientist. This change in the character also changed the relationship between him and Belle. Belle’s the adult; she takes care of him, makes sure he has enough to eat, and assists him in his tinkering when his mind isn’t entirely focused on what he’s working on. It made him more of a blah character than an interesting one. I understand that it added to Belle’s mother’s story, having Maurice be forever changed by the death of his one true love, but in reality it wasn’t as important to the story. At least, I didn’t think it was.

 

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that both films did the story justice. I’m looking forward to the other live action Disney movies that are coming soon. (Mulan especially!)