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Brewhaha Book Cafe

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February 2017

Evil Deadlines

There are some people in life who are disciplined, focused, and driven. My mom is one of them. I call her an energizer bunny because she has so much energy and manages to get so much done!

I am not one of those people. I’m a bit lazy, I get bored with long term projects, and I have no self-discipline.

Where am I going with this? I am missing my newest deadline. Again. This is the third time. I have still not finished editing Blue! Worse, I am so ready to move onto my next project, which is finishing my first draft of Fey. After that, finishing the first draft of Pink. And after that, finishing a trilogy I started years ago.

Why am I like this???

I know I have a hard time finishing things, so I am very reluctant to leave Blue where it is, but I’m getting bored with it so I’m not getting much done at all. Not good.

Anyways, I’m starting to ramble, so let’s get to where I’m going. Two things have become apparent to me.

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First, I have to finish.

I cannot use the excuse of my admittedly lazy and unfocused personality to keep writing half-finished manuscripts. I have to finish Blue and then finish all the other partial manuscripts I have floating around. That is my goal for this year, to wrap things up.

If you are like me, kill the excuses. If we want to be writers, we have to complete things, even when we get bored or the writing gets difficult, to say the least. Can’t publish unfinished manuscripts!

Second, it’s okay to miss some self-imposed deadlines.

I’m ticked off at myself for missing yet another deadline, but I also have to be realistic. I’ve been busy. It’s kidding season here which means dozens of baby goats to play with, but a lot less writing time!

So I, and any of you who are in the same boat, have to give ourselves a break. If I’m too focused on the fact I once again failed to meet a deadline, it isn’t going to help me make a new one. So I have to let it go (cue the song!) and move forward.

For me, I think that means doing some multitasking. Working on both Blue and Fey at the same time, so I get Blue done, but I can work on something new to keep my focus. Honestly, it will be a relief to let go of the deadline and take it slower. And I get to work on something new, finally!

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Unfortunately, now I’m off to my second job, which is not writing. Have a good day everyone and happy writing!

Top 10 Best Buddies in Books

This month all our posts have featured the common theme ofLove. ‘Tis the season after all, so we’re making the most it!

But of course gooey mushy gushy love isn’t the only type there is on the market. In fact, most of our favourite books feature another type (one particularly near & dear to our hearts as Bri & I are long-time BFFs): Friendship! Whether it’s leader + follower, hero + sidekick, or partners in crime, the world of Story is populated by pairs of BFFs. These dedicated duos make us laugh with their antics, tear-up with their sacrifices & remind us that an adventure is always twice as nice when shared with a friend.

There are SO many to choose from, but here are just a few of our top Best-Buddy Duos:

Mez’s Favourite Besties

Some of the ultimate Best-Buddy duos belong to classic picture books. Who could forget the likes of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, looking out for each other in the face of potential Heffulumps and Woozles, encouraging one another when balloons burst or houses flood, and simply enjoying the sunset side-by-side?

windwillows_sampleThen there’s Ratty and Moley from Wind in the Willows. I just love this unlikely friendship between the adventurous, river-wise Rat and the hitherto reclusive, homebody Mole. Yet their differences are what make their friendship so special, each helping the other to see the world threw new lenses, Ratty growing more sensitive and Moley more daring with each new venture.

Similarly, Frog and Toad (the Frog and Toad series) are another example of friends whose differences compliment one another. I love the way the even-keeled Frog looks after the rather tempermental Toad, helping him find lost buttons, grow stubborn seeds and wake-up to enjoy the Spring together. frog-toad

Moving on to books for older readers, I could hardly leave out Toothless and Hiccup from the How to Train Your Dragon series. Though the misfit boy and the grouchy little dragon get off  to a bumpy start, they can’t resist the bond between them. The film version of these characters is delightful in ittumblr_static_hiccup-and-toothlesss own way, but reading the friendship grow in the books makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time!

One of my all time favourites has to be Anne Shirley and Diana Barry from Anne of Green Gables. While Anne is definitely the leader of the duo, Diana becomes her bosom friends anne-diana-anne-of-green-gables-31177618-800-608because she accepts Anne as she is, with all her quirks and “odd little ways.” And do they ever get into some delightful scrapes together! This is another friendship portrayed beautifully in film version – it’s so fun to watch them grow up together!

And one of the all-time BBF duos, Frodo and Sam from the Lord of the Rings. While this friendship falls into the hero + sidekick category, it’s special because Frodo really couldn’t make it to Mordor without Sam. Sam’s canine-like loyalty without question, humble courage and perseverance through tough times make him the epitome of a True Friend. Frodo & Sam in Field.png

Bri’s Favorite Besties

Sophie and Monster from The Girl Who Couldn’t Dream Sophie dreamt Monster to life as a young girl and they’ve been inseparable since. bookMonster lives to protect Sophie and he is
her only friend. When disaster strikes Sophie’s family, she and Monster work together to set things right.

Elizabeth and Jane from Pride and Prejudice These girls aren’t only friends, but sisters. United against the silliness of jane-and-elizabeththeir mother and three younger sisters, they navigate the ups and downs of their respective romances, trying to find their happiness in life.

Tip and J. Lo from The True Meaning Smekday Tip, and eleven-year-old girl, and J. Lo, an alien from an invading race, start out as bitter enemies, only together because they need each other. Eventually they become friends, even calling each other siblings. Together, the two of them set out to save the world.

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Ali and Kat from Alice in Zombieland 
When Kat and Ali meet, Ali had just lost her family and been transferred to a new school. Their friendship strikes up quickly and when things get rough, Kat’s loyalty and support help Ali come to terms with the truth of her family’s death: zombies.

Who are your favourite BFFs in Fiction?

Blogs (& Vlogs) We LOVE

I’m always grateful to my fellow bloggers who take the time to give a little shout-out to the blogs that inspire them. I’ve found some real treasures thanks to their recommendations that I might otherwise have stumbled right over without ever being the wiser!

So I’d like to return the favour with my own shout-outs. And what better time than this, during our February “Bookish Things We Love” month? So, without further ado, here are a few Blogs (& one vlog) that I think really are Top Card. Hope you won’t take my word for it, though! Give them a little visit … you might just find a new favourite of your own!

  • Moontrug: mad about children’s books I’ve mentioned Abi Elphinstone a number of times on this blog because her enthusiasm for all-things children’s lit is absolute dynamite. I came across her blog, Moontrug, ages ago, and it certainly had a part in inspiring the creation of Brewhaha Book Café. Though Abi has since become a published author in very high demand & hence doesn’t get to add much to the blog these days (because she’s busy writing books!), there are troves of goodies on the site, from author interviews to writing games & tips, to just fun & fascinating facts! It’s a great stop-over for kids of every age!
  • Story Warren: Allies in Imagination Started up by S.D. Smith (author of the epic bunny adventure Green Ember series), this site is all about fostering the Beauty, Meaning & Purpose of Good Story. So naturally, I love it! There are a number of regular contributors from authors to parents, and the blog topics are always thought-provoking, uplifting & inspiring to go out & create something great that reflects the greatness of God, the ultimate Creator, Author & Champion of the Happy Ending. Good stuff.
  • Pages that Rustle This blog by the lovely Nandini is full of goodies for writers who want to know they are not alone on the journey. Nandini’s reflections of her writing journey are so honest & helpful. Plus her snippets of writing are brilliant. If you haven’t checked out her page “Vocab Wednesdays,” it’s a must for all word nerds!
  • Pages Unbound I owe a huge debt of gratitude to this blog for all the wonderful tips & resources for beginner bloggers. When the world of blogging was still unfamiliar & slightly terrifying territory, Briana & Krysta were the voices of calm, collected How-To advice. Thanks, ladies! Besides blogger tips, though, I love the literary scope of this blog. The blog topics are always insightful, the book reviews top-notch, and they host loads of fun events for readers of all sorts – from Jane Austen & Tolkien to Harry Potter & modern YA. Go check ’em out!
  • A Writer’s Faith Katie Grace is an all ’round creative soul with a great sense of humour & real gift for inspiring/ encouraging her follow aspiring authors. Her blog is just beautiful, & I believe she takes & makes all her own images (wow!). But the content is just as lovely as the wrapping. Katie Grace keeps it real about her own struggles & triumphs as a teen writer. I’ve not been a teen for a while, granted… but I still feel I have a lot to learn from her go-get-’em attitude!
  • Writing About Writing for Children (Her Dark Materials: notes from the world of children’s books) When it comes to getting solid writing advice, this site is one of my go-to’s. Stephanie Thwaites is a literary agent for Curtis Brown & represents the likes of Eva Ibbotson, among other greats, so the lady knows her stuff! She’s got insight into the market, and of course knows first-hand what agent’s look for in a submission. Gold dust if you’re aspiring to hook an agent & get published!
  • Jen Campbell’s Youtube Vlog From the author of The Bookshop Book, this vlog is pretty delightful & covers a lot more terrain than your typical monthly Book Haul. Jen shares gives the scoop on her life as an author & figure in the Realm of Book. She does seem to know an awful lot of interesting tidbits about all kinds of literature, (including fairy tales). And what’s more, her pet tortoise makes occasional cameos! Good value for time spent on Youtube.

 

The astute among you may have noted that my list only amounts to seven blogs/vlogs. What sort of number is that for a list? Well why not seven? But if the number offends you & you’d prefer a nice, round ten, then I am copping out with this invitation: 

Know of a Blog you think all readers/writers/tea drinkers should love as much as you do?
Leave your Blog/ Vlog recommedendations in the comments below!

Why I Love Writing

Last week, Mez posted about why she fell in love with writing, and now it’s my turn.

For me, it’s really quite simple. I love stories. I mean, I LOVE STORIES. Movies, novels, short stories, I’m crazy about them, especially if they have an element of fantasy. I can read/watch my favorite books and movies over and over and the story will pull me in each time. I love that feeling of slipping fully into a good story, until it’s all that exists.

Writing does the same thing for me, except I get the fun of controlling the story. It’s so much fun creating characters and unleashing them into a world I dreamed up. They can go on the adventures I can’t, from riding dragons to saving a world through magic. And, of course, I can end those adventures exactly the way I want, which is usually happily.

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I also love the satisfaction of a well finished book, whether one of mine or a published one. That feeling of ‘that couldn’t be any better.’ I can leave the characters in their ‘happily ever after’ place, leaving me with a great feeling! There are no unknowns, their story is completed, and I can believe they have great lives after whatever harrowing experience they went through to make an awesome book.

And there you have it, why I spend an enormous number of hours reading and writing! It’s pretty simple when you get down to it. I love good stories.

 

5 Reasons I Fell in Love with Writing

You know that feeling that gets under your skin & keeps you up at night? It draws your thoughts away throughout the day & makes your heart beat a little faster, & you just CAN’T WAIT to get home to your desk to spend a whole evening, just you and your wonderful, brilliant, one-of-a-kind Story?

Diagnosis? Writing love.

Once you’ve fallen head over heels for writing, there’s no recovery, and the more you write, the more you feel you must write! Such is the power of the writing bug once it’s bitten.

So here are 5 little reason I have fallen in love with writing. I hope you’ll add your own to the list in the comments!

I love writing because…

1. It’s the ultimate game of make-believe. It allows me to slip into someone else’s skin & point of view, to travel in time & space & visit new worlds, or create my own! Writing, when you’re in the thick of it, is like imagination in virtual reality.

2. It gives me an excuse to become an “expert” in whatever I’m interested in. I LOVE the research side of every writing project. What other job or hobby makes it necessary for you to read up on folklore, or your favourite era of history, or Norwegian Christmas traditions? And sometimes it even means taking a research TRIP like I’m doing next week to get up-close-&-personal with your subject matter. (Wanna know where I’m going? It’s top secret … but if you ask me in the comments, I might accidentally let it leak…)

3. It’s so satisfying to paint with words. Like all forms of art, at fist, word-smithing feels clunky and derivative. But wonderfully like all art, the more you practice, the more you develop your own style. I bet Michelangelo had a break-through moment when he stood back from a sculpture and said, “Hey, I’m pretty good!” Likewise, at some magic moment, you read back a page you’ve written, & what you hear is your very own “voice”, your own unique style fully-fledged. I’m not there yet, but I still love the satisfaction of finding just the right word.

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4. It’s doing what we were made to do: create! I absolutely love the magic of building worlds and crafting characters that didn’t exist before. It really is like having a super-power! And after all, it’s what makes us human. We were created to create… to share the joy of creating with our Creator! It’s a wonderful skill to inherit. Why waste it?

5. Story = a vehicle for understanding Truth. This is perhaps the aspect of writing that drives me onward more than any other. I think back on books that have shaped me & provided me with lenses through which to see and make sense of the world… books that pointed to an objective Truth and Beauty, but that laid it out in a way that I could relate to, feel, experience, through Story. Stories are powerful tools. My prayer is that every story I write would not only entertain, but give my readers a nugget of Hope to keep in their pockets long after they’ve re-shelved the book.

 

Have you been bitten by the writing bug?
What do you love most about writing?

Wednesday Readers’ Cafe: what’s your favourite book about L.O.V.E?

Hey there, folks!

This month, we are milking the “Love theme” at Brewhaha Book Café. In case you missed it, earlier this week Bri  brought you a list of her top 10 favourite YA romances  (and that’s really narrowing it down… she read A LOT of YA romances! I’ve seen her bookshelves. I can tell you.).

I didn’t contribute to that particular list because (don’t hate me!) I’m more of a Middle Grade kinda girl, though I can’t get enough of Bri’s YA romances, sure to top many lists in the future once they’re published!

But today, being Wednesday, we want to hand you the mic and ask:

What’s your favourite book about love?

And feel free to think outside the box. Love extends beyond romance, right? It could be a book about friendship, sibling love, parent-child love. Or it could just be a soppy old lovely romance. You choose!

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We look forward to hearing about your lovey-dovey book faves in the comments below!

Bri’s Top Ten Young Adult Romances

It’s February! First, I can’t spell February. Thank goodness for autocorrect.

Second, because it is February, the month of love and romance (and chocolate, which is the real reason I like Valentine’s), Mez and I decided to do some posts accordingly. So here are my favorite young adult romances!

Let me explain this list. I do not read young adult novels where romance is the main plot. Fantasy will always be my focal point when searching for books. However, I also like books that have a good romance woven through the plot, and while the following may not be my favorite books, they are my favorites as far as romance goes. Also, I hate love triangles. If you are looking for books where the girl is torn between two guys (especially a ‘good’ guy and a ‘bad’ guy) you will not find it on this list. Can’t stand them. If I get even a hint of love triangle from the summary of a book, I will not read it.

So here they are, my favorite young adult books when looking for a good romance! They are not in any particular order. I hard time whittling them down, placing them in order would have been impossible!

Turns out, they all have beautiful covers as well…

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Solara and Doran start out as bitter enemies with Doran treating Solara as a slave, and then Solara returns the favor! On the run on a spaceship full of misfits, close quarters and forced dependency turn hatred to friendship and eventually to love.

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

This sci-fi retelling of Snow White has a great love story between the independent, poor, hard-working Essie and Dane, the stranger searching for a princess. Essie gradually learns to trust Dane and they fall in love as they try to save a planet from a corrupt king.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has a killing Grace, a preternatural ability to fight and kill. Because of this, she has been isolated and feared for most of her life. Po, a prince with a fighting Grace runs into her and the first thing she does is knock him out. It only gets better from there!

Shadows by Robin McKinley

Maggie hates her new stepfather and the shadowy, wriggly things that live in his shadow. The romance in this book takes a while, but her boyfriend is incredible and Maggie is one of my favorite characters. Can’t tell you more without ruining the twist!

The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter

I’ve only read the first two, so keep that in mind! Ali’s family was murdered by zombies and Cole, the bad boy of her new school, knows how to kill them. Their romance is quick but believable and there are lots of ups and downs throughout the books.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The second in The Lunar Chronicles, this book is a sci-fi retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Scarlet’s grandmother is missing and Wolf may have answers. Together, they search for her grandmother and discover world changing secrets, but Wolf has other secrets that could destroy the girl he has come to love.

Spelled by Betsy Schow

A crazy mix of fairy tales and The Wizard of Oz, this book is a lot of fun. Dorthea is a spoiled brat of a princess whose selfish wish tosses her whole world into chaos-and turns the annoying Prince Kato into an animal. Now they have to work together to put their world back in order-and hopefully not kill each other in the process.

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

Aerin is a former slave and a fugitive, Dane the son of a powerful leader and they are both at Academy 7, the most prestigious school in the Alliance. Because of Dane’s reckless nature, they both end up in detention where Dane learns her secret. As they spend time together, they learn deeper secrets bind their pasts together and may force them apart.

The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott

And yet another retelling, this one of ‘The Wild Swans.’ Alexandra is a princess with yet unrealized magical abilities. When her father remarries the evil Zella, Alexandra’s brothers disappear and she is sent away to her aunt. There she meets Gabriel and they quickly fall in love without either telling the truth of who they really are before fate separates them.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

In case you haven’t noticed, I like retellings. This one is a strange, beautiful version of water horses. They rise from the sea and eat meat, including humans. The once a year Scorpio races are dangerous, but profitable. Puck and Sean both need to win, Puck to keep her home, Sean to save his future. They fall in love, but only one can win.

Let me know your favorites in the comments! I’m always looking for books to add to my To Be Read pile!

Guest Review: House of Dark Shadows

House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo (Dreamhouse Kings #1)

Review by: literary horse whisperer/ artist, Alexandra Thaxton

Book Review: Xander King and his family move to a dilapidated old house in the woods, in a boring little town. But if you think you’ve heard this story before, you would be sorely mistaken. House of Dark Shadows is the first of six books in the “Dreamhouse Kings” series by Robert Liparulo. As much as Xander originally hates the house they move into, he learns that it has its own opinions about him as well. Down a long hallway upstairs, there are several doors on each side. What lies behind these doors is a mystery, and is only revealed each time the door is opened. The rooms shift, the lights flicker…and there are monsters!

I was given this series by the librarian at the high school that I attended, because she decided these books were “too dark and scary” to live in the school library. While they are technically written for young adults, there were certainly some suspenseful (and yes, sometimes scary) moments, which only made me love them even more. The most intriguing thing to me about this series, though, is the concept of being able to walk through any door and appear in another place altogether—the very same reason that I was drawn into The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe many, many years ago…and several times since—ADVENTURE AWAITS.

Genre: YA thriller

About Alex: While it unfortunately takes me FOREVER and a day to read a book (unless I’m on vacation), I never outgrew my love for books! I grew up and went to school with the Sippit Sisters, and graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Art Education…and now I teach beginner horseback riding lessons. Traveling is my favorite thing to do, which is probably why I’ve always loved to read–books are the cheapest way to travel!

 

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