Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pay it Forward Giveaway

Hi guys,

My dear friend Rachel Russell is hosting the Pay it Forward giveaway today. She founded it because she wanted to say thank you to everyone who support her. I'm joining her today, too, in saying thank you to all of you who've been so nice to me. I've learned a lot from so many of you, and you've been true Samwise Gamgees in my quest toward becoming a published author. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The prizes on my blog today are:

1) The most thoughtful, detailed query critique. I'm no expert, but I can tell you how I feel about it, and perhaps even give you suggestions about agents who might be looking for the type of MS you wrote.

2) An amazing author spotlight on this blog featuring you!

Don't forget you need to follow this blog and to tweet about the giveaway in order to enter the rafflecopter. Also, make sure you check the #PIFG for more giveaway opportunities and to say thank you to your friends. You might even get excited about it and start your own giveaway today.

Happy Pay it Forward Day!
-- Becca

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Snow & Books

People wouldn't believe how cold it gets in Brazil during winter. Well, I didn't believe it got this cold in the south of Brazil until I moved here. We've been here for a year now, and this week is so cold, not even the heater in our bedroom can handle it (and that's the only place in our apartment that has heating).

It hasn't snowed where I live, but many neighboring towns saw snow. We get very excited about snow here, because it's rare. I lived in Wisconsin, and I'm used to snow, but I must confess even I spent a good hour peering at the sky the other day, waiting to see the much awaited snow flakes.

We're still waiting for snow in Porto Alegre; I'm afraid, however, this year we won't get to see it. The temperature we'll go up by the end of this week, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and we'll have to wait and hope that next year's winter will bring us snow.

As I waited, however, I got to read a few great YA books. The last one I read was Matched by Ally Condie. I'm not sure many people liked it (I read many reviews complaining that the reading felt too slow, and that it focused too much on the MC's relationship), but there were many topics in this book that left me thinking and made me cry (eugenics, euthanasia, and whatnot), so I'd still place it is a must read book. The main character left me mad a few times, but I suppose that's good. I'm not sure I agree with some of her choices, but I guess that's also good. My favorite character was her grandfather, who was a very strong presence throughout the book, even though he died at the beginning. I won't say more, because I don't want to spoil the reading for you, so here's the synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

Picture taken from Goodreads
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate... until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Where you can find the book: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads (and probably at other places where books are sold).

So, I guess even though I didn't get snow, I got reading done. I'm happy with that.

What are you currently reading? I've just started Legend by Marie Lu! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What's your faction?

OMG, guys, I'm so excited!

I finished reading Veronica Roth's Divergent today, and I can't wait to read Insurgent. I'm... I don't even know how to put this... Well, I guess I'm slightly obsessed with this book, which is a good thing in my opinion. I read it in two days. Yes, it was that good.

Here's the synopsis (taken from Goodreads):

Picture taken from Goodreads
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads

I think what I liked the most about the book was that it reminded me a little of my days at military school. Wait, it was nothing compared to her training, but there were so many things about it that reminded me of my first weeks at military school. I was a small, skinny girl like Beatrice, and had zero physical strength... but, surprisingly, I quickly learned how to be brave, and stronger, and how to endure the elements, not to mention that I found the camaraderie and sense of 'this is my pack, even though I don't think I fit in very well' sort of feelings that Beatrice encountered, too.

When I was at military school, many of my best friends wanted to join the military when we graduated. Some of them actually had parents in the military, already, and sort of had a better sense of what life in the military felt like. For a year, perhaps more than that, I did consider joining the military. I couldn't become a pilot and join the air force, because I was too short and my eyesight is terrible, but I liked the Navy a lot, and considered a career in communications. For whatever reason, I never saw myself in the Army.

I changed my mind, though, when I asked myself an important question: am I willing to kill and to die for my country? The answer, call me unpatriotic if you wish, was a huge no. I'm a pacifist. I even struggle with self-defence. I feel I couldn't kill... I feel I couldn't point a gun at someone else. And, I feel I wouldn't be willing to be at war. I could defend my loved ones, and if killing happened to be the only way to defend them from harm, then, yes, I suppose I could kill somebody (or hurt them enough to disarm them and give us time to run)-- but, not as a way of life, not as my career, if you know what I mean. When I left military school, while my best friends were joining the army and the air force, studying to become officers, I began studying journalism.

That sort of dilemma is not the same Beatrice goes through in the book, but she does question her values a lot, and I had the same inner struggle. If we're to compare the book to real life, I guess I switched from Dauntless to Erudite? I don't know.

Read the book. It's pretty good. It's awesome, in fact. You won't regret it!

What's your faction? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

A new book by J.K. Rowling

Only a few days ago I was complaining about people spreading false news that Jo Rowling was writing an eighth Harry Potter book.

I come here today with the wonderful news that although she is NOT writing a HP book, she's published a new book under a pseudonym. If you're a fan of Jo's writing and if you like crime novels, then this book will probably interest you.

Jo kept it a secret until recently. This is what she said about it (information taken from her official website):

  • J.K. Rowling's statement regarding 'The Cuckoo's Calling' by Robert Galbraith

    "I hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience! It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name. The upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo’s Calling without realizing that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel.  And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series, although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances."  
This is the synopsis you will find on Goodreads:

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)
Picture from Goodreads
A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel's suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this.

You can find the book at... probably everywhere books are sold, but these are a few links to help you either buy the book or add it to your to-read list: Amazon | Barnes&Nobel | GoodReads.

Happy reading!    

Saturday, July 13, 2013

An embarrassing 'I'm a Harry Potter fan' moment

You know what's really mean? I'll tell you: misleading a Harry Potter fan into thinking that it is confirmed Jo Rowling is writing an eighth Harry Potter book is really, really mean.

Tonight, I almost died when a friend posted on Facebook an article that confirmed an eighth HP is coming soon. I gasped, and let out a loud "oh my God!" that startled hubs in the other room. He kept asking me what was the matter, which took me forever to reply, as I was rushing from article to article trying to find confirmation from Jo herself that one of my dreams was going to come true.

Now, think about it... a new Harry Potter book!!!

The article mentioned that the book wouldn't be about Harry, but it would follow the next generation. There was some talk that while Hermione and Draco hated each other at Hogwarts, the same wasn't going to apply to Rosie Weasley (Hermione's daughter) and Scorpius Malfoy (Draco's son). Wouldn't that be perfect? Well, now you know why I almost died.

But, it was a lie. That is, I can't tell you the news source was coming up with fake news, but this one is fake. In all honesty, I think they probably took the information from another website, which took it from another, and another, and another website... We know how many rumors about the continuation of the Harry Potter series are born every day.

This time, however, it felt true for a second. They even said Jo had given an interview to a major newspaper confirming she was working on a new Potter book and that she couldn't stay away from the computer for more than ten minutes. Now, everybody started looking up the original interview, and found nothing. The journalist who wrote this article had to add a red note at the bottom of the article admitting she couldn't find the source of the news.

That left me a little sad.

Those books... I really loved those books. I still do, in fact. I love reading, but I'm afraid to say that since Harry Potter I still couldn't find a book I had a real, emotional connection with. There were many good books I'd recommend, but probably wouldn't read a second time, if you know what I mean.

People, stop spreading lies about things people love. It's not funny. And, if you truly believe these news are true, double check your sources. It's like saying Ryan Gosling wants to meet me for sure next month, when he actually doesn't know I exist (mental note: I must write a character inspired by Ryan Gosling).

The whole thing about a new Harry Potter book left me thinking about the series, and how I embarrassed myself once (or twice) because of it. And, you know what, I don't regret it. I thought I should share this story with you:

I was an international student at Lawrence University, and one great thing LU does when you're either an international or an exchange student (yes, there's a difference, but I'll explain it another time) is it brings you before (almost) everyone else arrives on campus. So, we basically have welcome week twice. The first one is just with the foreign crowd trying to adjust to living in a foreign country, and the second is the foreigners plus all the freshmen, this time focused on adjusting to living on campus. I think that's pretty great for a few reasons, one of them because being jet lagged together helps people bond quickly. Seriously. Some of my best friends are international students, awesome people I met when we all were a little grumpy, confused, queasy, tired and homesick.

On the night before the American kids arrived on campus, we had a party. I remember I was sitting by the food (obviously!) at some point during the party, when a girl appeared out of nowhere next to me. I quickly noticed I had not seen her before, and she confirmed my thoughts by saying, "I just arrived from the airport!" She sounded strangely breathless, and I imagined her jogging all the way from the airport to our party, hauling her luggage behind her, her boots clicking on the asphalt.

Someone nearby overheard her, and asked her in an excited tone, "oh, where are you from?" That, my friends, was the number one question during those days.

"Bulgaria," she said with pride, a huge smile, glistening eyes.

The word brought tears to my eyes, too, although not for the same reason. I'd never met anyone from Bulgaria until then, but Bulgaria had a special place in my heart. 

"Bulgaria?" the girl talking with her looked confused. I guess she'd never heard of Bulgaria.

You probably know what happened next... I said, "Victor Krum!"

There were question marks all over their faces. I knew then and there I'd embarrassed myself. I had to explain what I said, though. "You know... Victor Krum? He's from Bulgaria. Um... Harry Potter."

"Ah," they said, and were gone the next minute. I don't think the Bulgarian girl ever talked with me again. Oh well.

That's it for now. That was my embarrassing Harry Potter story. But, like I said before, I don't mind it. So, do you have an embarrassing Potter moment, too?

Have a great weekend!
-- Becca