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You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year Giveaway Hop: 1/1/13-1/8/13

Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Babs Book Bistro January 1st - 7th 2013

A wish and a prayer

Another Year Has Passed,
Another Year Has Come.
In All Things,
God's Will Be Done.
With Every New Year,
Comes Greater Challenges And Obstacles In Life.
I Wish You Courage And Determination,
I Pray You Hope And Faith
To Overcome All The Hurdles You Face.
May God Pour Love And Care,
Patience And Wisdom On You.
May You Have A Great Year
And A Wonderful Time Ahead.
God Bless You.

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Book Review: Legend by Marie Lu

Author: Marie Lu
Published: Nov 2011
Publisher: Putnam 
4 ****

This was a good and easy to read story. I read it in one night.  

I liked Day's personality and character although I was a bit disappointed in the way some of his story/situation turned out. I thought that for a guy who was good at staying under the radar, he got captured way too easily. 

June was my favorite character. Her growth and awareness about the true nature of her 'government' felt realistic to me. Her transition from hate to like/understanding was actually endearing. The author did a really good job showing June's growth and learning. 

The world building was neat and clean. Sometimes I feel like many authors don't spend much time on creating a believable world or else they spend too much time, boring me silly with mundane details. 

My favorite thing about the book in general, little to no romance, ie, sex. There was one scene where Day and June kiss but that was it. So it is one that I would actually recommend. There is however quite a bit of violence so maybe only recommend it to a mature teen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Best of 2012 Blog Hop and Giveaway

Best of 2012 blog hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer from the 27th to the 31st. 

As with all the blog hops I participate in, please feel free to jump to the other blogs to check out their prizes :)

For my prize, I am giving away a collection of bookmarks that I have received from some really awesome authors as well as some fun bookmarks that I have collected over time. Hopefully these bookmarks will happily keep your place in your favorite books of the coming year of 2013 :)

Here is a short list of the best books I read this year :)

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons (Picture Book)

Tankborn by Karen Sandler (Young Adult)

The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (Young Adult)

Dark Life by Kat Falls (Middle Grade)

The Inventions of Cabret by Brian Selznik (Middle Grade)

Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons (Picture Book)

Allah to Z by Sam'n Iqbal (Picture Book)

The Silent Sea by Clive Cussler (Adult)

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Cover Reveal: Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn

Free Souls by Susan Kaye Quinn
(Book Three of the Mindjack Trilogy) Now Available!
When your mind is a weapon, freedom comes at a price.
Four months have passed since Kira left home to join Julian’s Jacker Freedom Alliance, but the hole in her heart still whistles empty where her boyfriend Raf used to be. She fills it with weapons training, JFA patrols, and an obsessive hunt for FBI agent Kestrel, ignoring Julian’s worries about her safety and repeated attempts to recruit her for his revolutionary chat-casts. When anti-jacker politician Vellus surrounds Jackertown with the National Guard, Kira discovers there’s more to Julian’s concerns than she knew, but she’s forced to take on a mission that neither want and that might be her last: assassinating Senator Vellus before he can snuff out Julian’s revolution and the jackers she’s come to love.
All of the Mindjack stories are available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, and iTunes (Note Free Souls is not yet available on Kobo or iTunes)
Early Praise for Free Souls
“Quinn paints a picture of a not-too-distant America where politicians inflame the hatred of one section of the populace for another—all for their own gain—and you worry that her world is not so far off from our own.”
Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead, The Caged Graves, and the forthcoming The Eighth Day
"Free Souls starts with a bang and doesn't let up. Like a mash-up of all your favorite science-fiction adventures from Star Wars to The Legend of Korra, it blends nonstop action, nail-biting escapes, and great romance. I absolutely loved it! A great series conclusion—a must-read."
Leigh Talbert Moore, author of Rouge and The Truth About Faking
“Susan did it again. Free Souls was WOW! I expected Kira to step up to her role as heroine but not like this. Surprises kept coming until the very end which tied up more loose ends than I knew existed. Warning: Don't start reading until you have time to finish. I didn't want to put Free Souls down for a second. It's that kind of book.”
Sher A. Hart, Goodreads Review
Interview Susan's over at Amy Saunder's blog today (12.14.12), answering questions about how she came up with the mages' abilities, what kind of mage she would be, and all about her future works. Digital Box Set Since Free Souls is out, there is now a Digital Box Set of the Mindjack Trilogy for those of you who want the whole series!
Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble
Mindjack Origins Collection Want more Julian? Wondering how Sasha's ability really works? Looking for EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls? This collection of novellas, scenes, and other goodies is for those craving a bit more of the characters and drama of the Mindjack series.
Includes: Mindjack Novellas Mind Games (Raf's story) The Handler (Julian's story) The Scribe (Sasha's story) TWO EXCLUSIVE DELETED SCENES from Free Souls (published nowhere else!) PLUS Mindjack flash fiction, an (imaginary) conversation between Raf and Julian, and other goodies for readers who want just a little bit more of Kira, Julian, Raf, and the Mindjack crew.
Available on AmazonBarnes&Noble
ENTER TO WIN one of FIVE ecopies of the Mindjack Origins Collection
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Author: Kristin Cashore
Published: Oct 2008
Publisher: Harcourt

My Review:

I heard a lot of good things about Graceling and for the most part is was a good story but I was not completely taken by the characters. There were too many aspects of the story I did not like.

Katsa is a Graceling, a person with amazing powers of strength and survival. That much is very well written in the story. However, her character changed quite drastically for my taste from a cautious, easily angered killer/torturer to someone totally taken by a strange guy, who is also a graceling, she only just met.

Her relationships were intense. The only ones that felt real to me were her relationship with her uncle and cousin. Her uncle she hated, her cousin she loved. I did not get her relationship with Po. I get that she liked Po because he was cute and truly her equal when it came to fighting but I did not get the relevance of their relationship as lovers in the story, for me it did not serve a purpose to move the story along. In the end what got Po to push himself to survive after a failed attempt against King Leck was not the thought of Katsa but his enemy, Leck.
Even the issue with the ring did not (in my opinion) did not require her becoming sexually intimate with Po. But, I got through the laborous love scenes in the forest and once that happened the story itself actually picked up and was really good.

Katsa reminded a little bit of Katniss in The Hunger Games in that she is a strong young woman coming into her own powers when she has to protect Bitterblue and Po but then she also at times reminded me of Tris in Insurgent very erratic and emotionally immature.

I did have my favorite characters and scenes though, I loved Bitterblue and Katsa's cousin, Raffin. And the scene where she learns how to call Po using her mind, PRICELESS! I laughed for days :D

While this was not my favorite book, if you liked The Hunger Games and Divergent/Insurgent, I think you will like Graceling

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Author Interview: Tameka Fryer Brown

Happy Thursday everyone!

It has been a while but I'm finally catching up :D Here is a wonderful author I would love to introduce to you all! Tameka Fryer Brown! I fell in love with her first picture book, Around My Way On Neighbors' Day, a rhythmic tale that celebrates the diversity of a close knit community. Her second picture book, My Cold Plum, Lemon Pie, Bluesy Mood, will be published in March 2013!  

So here she is friends.......... Tameka Fryer Brown

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

    Well, I am--and have been--a lot of things: I'm a wife and mother of three, a children's book author, and an active Montessori parent and volunteer. I have been a medical supplies sales representative, a Montessori teacher's assistant, and a bible school teacher. I'd like to be an illustrator, a singer, and an actress. But for now, those things are just dreams. I haven't yet committed to a plan of action that would turn any of them into goals.
2. When and why did you begin writing?

    I've always loved to write. As a youth, I remember winning a blue ribbon from the Dade County Youth Fair for a poem I wrote, and I also had an open letter published in a local newspaper. But as for the decision to make writing a career choice, that happened in 2005. I was a stay-at-home mom and had been looking for a just-for-me, cerebral type activity to fill a void that had been growing inside me. The idea came to me while reading a picture book to my youngest daughter. I thought to myself, "I can TOTALLY write these." Took a bit longer than I thought to write something worth publishing, but ultimately, my gut instinct was right ,

3. What inspired you to write "Around Our Way On Neighbors Day"?

    This is always a weird question for me to answer, because really, the first draft of this story came to me in that twilight state one enters just before waking up. Before I opened my eyes, I had the rhyme scheme and the first verse worked out. By the end of the day, I had a complete first draft.  The story that ended up being published has a totally different rhyme scheme than the original (which was an ABC book), but the essence remains the same: a rhythmic love story between a young girl and her close-knit, diverse community. 
    But I do think there was a deeper inspiration for this story.
I think my subconscious reached into my childhood memories and brought forth a story inspired by them.

4. What are some of your most fondest memories of your neighborhood growing up?

    My fondest neighborhood memories actually come from my Bigmama's (my great-grandmother's) neighborhood. She used to watch me during the day when I was pre-school age, and then after school once I started.  I remember kickball games and jump-roping; learning cheers and forming singing groups that performed for the neighbors; buying frozen cups from the Frozen Cup Lady, as well as Lemon Heads and hot sausages; hoping my Bigmama would give my cousin and I some money for the ice cream truck that had just pulled up outside, and hoping it wouldn't take off before we were able to race down the apartment stairs and get back to it.  I remember respecting adults who I didn't know personally, but who told us to stop doing wrong when we were doing it. I remember everybody in the neighborhood--young and old--calling my Bigmama "Bigmama" too. 

    I think the love and sense of community I experienced at my Bigmama's house provided the emotional blueprint for Around Our Way on Neighbors' Day.

5. Can you share with us your publishing journey? What were some of your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?

    I think the greatest challenge was hanging in there. Although the time that lapsed from my joining SCBWI to selling my fist book was only 3 years (which isn't that long according to many), when you are a perfectionist who can be borderline compulsive, three years full of rejections and almosts can be excruciating.
    I seriously considered ending my publication journey twice in those three years, and both times God sent me a signal that it wasn't time to quit yet.  The first time I was about to stop, I received an offer of representation from Jennifer Rofe at ABLA. The second time, I received a first place award in the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories Contest AND got my first book deal, both within a few months of each other. I took the hint.

6. What do you think is one of the biggest mistakes a new writer/author can make and how do we avoid it?

    Not seeking out or listening to professional feedback on one's work is a major mistake. No matter how talented you may be, it is almost impossible to catch all of the issues that exist in your own work. Join up with a critique group that either has some experienced writers, or one where everyone is totally dedicated to growing in their craft. If you write for children, it's best to be in a group that writes for children as well. If it's a genre specific group, that's even better.  Professional paid critiques are options, too. It's a great investment in your craft. Ask around for recommendations, or analyze the service provider's stated criteria and testimonials to find the critique service that best suits you.

    Raw talent only gets you so far in this business. Those who succeed are those who are willing to study and perfect their craft.

7. As a teacher, I am always looking for books to enrich my classroom, how can your book be used in the classroom?

    Around Our Way on Neighbors' Day can be used to foster conversations about community, diversity, and poetry.  The beautiful, expressionist-inspired illustrations by Charlotte Riley-Webb can also be used in a study of art and various artistic styles. There is also a little-known holiday called Good Neighbor's Day (September 28) and AOW would be a great educational companion for informing students about that.   There is also a comprehensive study guide, created by Debbie Gonzales, that provides wonderful discussion questions and great extension activities that is perfect for both teachers and parents.

8. Is there anything you wish you had known when you first started out on your publishing journey?

        I wish I had had a more realistic picture of the marketing aspect of publishing. I think I had a larger expectation of the marketing dollars a publisher would invest in a new author's title than turned out to be realistic. They certainly invest a huge amount to get the book published, but the unknown, unproven author still has a lot of hustling to do to try to get it on the radar of purchasers.

9. What advice do you have for writers who are plagued with writer's block?

    Immerse yourself in the things, people, places that inspire your creativity. And when all else fails, give yourself permission to sit down and write crap. That's hard for me--the perfectionist--to do. Intellectually, though, I totally believe that the mere act of writing is the most creative boon in and of itself.
10. Last but not least, can you tell us three fun facts about yourself? :)
        I love Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, but I am coveting the Maple Glazed, Bacon Doughnut. I've never had one. I want one!
        My outfit of choice is jeans and a t-shirt. Actually, it's my pajamas, but I can't run errands in those, so....
    I don't watch much TV these days, but the one show I make it my business to see is Once Upon A Time.  I got suckered in by a marathon ABC showed one night and now I'm hooked.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12x12x12 Blog Partay!!!!!!

It is here, the month of December, the finale, the end of the year! For the past 12 months I have put myself to the challenge of writing 12 picture book manuscripts starting from the beginning of the year until December. A manuscript a month!

I am sooooooooooooooo happy to say..........

I DID IT!!!!!

I completed the challenge, though it was a little touch and go. As you can see from my 12x12x12 list, there were a couple of months that I came up empty handed. Thanks to a wonderful, supportive group, the 12x12ers on facebook, I did not let that keep me down. I picked myself up, brushed myself off and pushed on. My favorite month has to be DECEMBER! Again, if you look at my list, I wrote 4 manuscripts this month, the last three all on the same day (the inspiration behind the last three stories are actually quite funny. :D)

To celebrate my triumph, I am gifting a cute notebook/journal for the upcoming....... 12x12 in the year 2013!! So if you are planning on joining the fun, check out Julie Hedlund's blog and don't forget to fill out the rafflecopter!!

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Giftcard Giveaway Hop 12/11/12 - 12/17/12

Welcome to the Gift Card Giveaway Hop. Big thanks to I am a reader, not a writer and Sweeping Me for hosting this fun-tastic giveaway. a Rafflecopter giveaway As always, this is a hop! So hop along for more exciting giveaways!

Friday, December 7, 2012

PiBoIdMo 2012 in Review

I did it!!!! 

30 picture book ideas in 30 days!!

I can't believe it but it took me close to week to finally realize that I actually did it!

30 ideas in 30 days!

Honestly, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be, I mean really, we did not have to write a draft or complete story, only ideas. Last year, I did not complete the challenge coming out with less than 20 picture book ideas!

What was so different about this year than last?

* I got out more. A few of my ideas made their appearances while I was out walking or driving (I hated the ones that came about during driving because I had no way of writing them down!) Fresh air, nature, and sometimes light rain makes for great creative stimulation, especially on my way to get something to eat :D

* I listened more. Many of my ideas sparked from conversations I either had with folks or overheard (honest, I was not eavesdropping :D) from children, adults, and even teacher's in the resource room talking about the latest hilarious or not so hilarious happenings in their classroom.

* I rested more. Yes, believe it or not, resting all nice and comfy in my bed produces story ideas. But it is only when I'm thiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to falling asleep. This November was kind of chilly this year so it made snuggling in bed with some quiet music quite easy!

Oh, and all the wonderful motivation, inspiration and encouragement from other PiBoIdMo participants was a HUGE factor in my completing the challenge by the skin of my nose (the last four story ideas came rushing in on the 30th!)

So now I have 30 picture book ideas...... now what?

Stay tuned :D

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators