Monday, July 30, 2018

GET TO KNOW ME TAG // writer's edition!

The Get To Know Me Tag Writer's Edtion [post title image]

This tag is ALL OVER the blogosphere right now. Usually I don't get around to tags until the "hype" over them has died, so I'm happy to actually be on top of one for once. XD

I was tagged first by Gray @ Writing is Life, then more recently by Julian @ Saver of Memories and Melissa @ Quill Pen Writer. Thank you so much, frens! <3

~RULES~

- link back to the person who created the tag (Savannah @ Inspiring Writes) - 
   - thank the person who tagged you - 
   - share the tag graphic (optional) - 
   - tag eleven bloggers - 


Let the tag begin!

~VITAL STATS AND APPEARANCES~

(pen)Name: Lila Kims

Nicknames: My real name has a few common nicknames, but I don't go by any of them. My dad used to say my first name and middle name, except instead of my actual middle name he used "Fred." And then my soccer friends used to have a nickname for me too, but let's not talk about that one. *cough*

Birthday: In the fall.

Hair color and length: I have wavy, dirty-blond hair that reaches about a third of the way down my back. Getting long...

Eye color: Blue

Braces/piercings/tattoos: I've never had braces and I'll never get a tattoo, but my ears are pierced.

Righty or lefty: Lefty!

Ethnicity: Caucasion. I have English and Scottish in me and probably a few others way down the road. But yeah, I'm your typical white American gal. XD



~FIRSTS~

First novel written: I was really young, and the story was around 70 pages, but I considered it a novel at the time. It was called "The Ruby Chronicles: Book 1." I never finished it, though as you can see, I fully intended on writing a whole series. It was about a girl and her best friend who found a ruby half-buried by the side of a walking trail. (Their constant chatter about MP3 players and American Girl Dolls clearly expresses my interests at the time. XD)

First novel completed: Probably the very first draft of Dusted Red, which I finished in April 2017 at a little over 100,000 words.

Award for writing: I won Finalist two times in a row in an annual essay contest I ended up submitting to a total of... three times, I think?

First publication: An article published in a local homeschool paper... thing. XD

Conference: Never been to one, though I would love to one day!

Query/Pitch: Not yet, my friends. Not yet.


~FAVORITES~

Novel (that you wrote): The complete rewrite of Dusted Red, which I finished not long after April Camp NaNo 2018. :D 

Genre: Fantasy! And also fairy tale retellings. <3

Author: Marissa Meyer and Jennifer A. Nielsen are at the top!

Writing music: It varies with each project, but I really like movie soundtracks such as the The Lion, the Witch, and the WardrobeFinding Nemo, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Also Audiomachine (<3 <3), Lindsey Stirling, and occasionally Two Steps from Hell.

Time to write: Almost always the evening - except on lazy weekends when I have time to do it in the afternoons too.

Writing snack/drink: Just water, usually. It's hard to write while snacking because I hate the idea of getting my laptop's keyboard covered in crumbs or grease.

Movie: Rise of the Guardians, The Return of the King, and The Greatest Showman are big favorites! <3 

Writing memory: I absolutely LOVED writing the very last scene of my rewrited WIP - it got me sooooo excited that I literally jumped around my room giggling maniacally behind my hands.

Childhood book: Did anyone else grow up reading the Digby and Kate books by Barbara Baker???


~CURRENTLY~

Reading: A Middle Grade fantasy called Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier. The MC lives in a town where the authorities have - get this - GATHERED A HUGE PILE OF BOOKS THAT THEY PLAN TO BURN ON A "CELEBRATORY" DAY CALLED PYRE DAY.

But yeah, I like it so far.

Also listening to the audiobook for Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - a reread.

Writing: Well, I'm not currently first-drafting anything, but I'm trying to find the time to outline DR's sequel, gradually world-building for a novella I want to expand, and am about to dive into DR edits!

Listening to: At this very moment? Ride by Twenty One Pilots. XD

Watching: I'm not really watching any TV shows at the moment, since the next season of NCIS isn't airing yet. Sometimes I catch snatches of Charlie's Angels and Home Improvement, though. Oldies but goodies.

Learning: With God's help, I can have a peace that passes all understanding even when life is making my head spin and/or making me nervous.

~FUTURE~

Want to be published: You bet I do!

Indie or traditional: Traditional. I'm willing to fight for this.

Wildest goal: To one day be as popular (and widely beloved) of an author as V.E. Schwab or Leigh Bardugo or Marissa Meyer. It's a EXTREMELY wild dream, I know. :)

~~~

And that, my friends, is the tag! I had soooo much fun doing it - I hope you enjoyed! I don't think I'll be tagging anyone, seeing as most of my blogger buddies have either done it already or been tagged. Feel free to steal it. ;D

The Lord's Truly,

What is one of your wildest goals as a writer? Talk to me in the comments!

Monday, July 23, 2018

TAKING NOTES ON A FIRST DRAFT // lessons learned + camp nano update


In the complete rewrite of my fairy tale retelling, Dusted Red, what I was doing was turning a ginormous mess into... uh, a lesser mess. Way less of a mess, come to think of it, but still a chaotic jumble of words and emotions.

Aaahhh, the beauty of first drafts.

But anyway, during that complete rewrite - and for a length of time after I finished it - I had a niggling worry that wouldn't go away: How was I going to fix this?

Messes need fixing. Rewrites need editing. You can't coat a story in one layer of polish - you have to slather on layer after layer after layer until the manuscript positively SHINES (and even then the story isn't going to be perfect, buuuut that's a topic for another post). Yes, I understood this. Yes, I'd read articles on "how to edit the first draft of your novel." But even though I knew the advise of various writing experts, I was still worried because I was seriously doubting that following their advice would work!

Here is their step one: Take a break from the story for a while, then come back, read through it, and - as you read through it - take notes.

My problem was that I didn't understand how simply READING my book was going to help me edit. I couldn't see myself catching all the problems stuffed into the dark, dusty corners of my plot and character development, or taking the notes I needed to begin the editing process. Just read through it and suddenly everything will make sense and I'll know what to do?? That didn't sound realistic.

But get this. I didn't have to understand it. It wasn't something I could understand. All I had to do was take the first step.

Camp NaNo gave me the motivation I needed to START READING the story. I opened the document and read the first sentence, then the first paragraph. And as soon as I started, problems both big and small seemed to highlight themselves. The first page was soon sprinkled with notes, then the second page, the third page, the fourth page, the hundredth page, the two-hundredth page. Over half of my novel is now full of notes.

I haven't started the editing yet. I haven't finished reading through. But I'm not clueless anymore. I have a game plan. And although I couldn't explain how exactly that game plan is forming, I'm ridiculously excited that it is. XD

My point to all this? Sometimes you need to stop worrying that it (whatever "it" is) might not work for your story and simply TRY IT OUT. Because sometimes you aren't going to understand. Sometimes you aren't going to know until you take the first step.

~~~ 

That's the big, all-consuming lesson I've learned so far from reading my story and taking notes on it. But I've learned/experienced some other things too!


1. Reading observantly and objectively came more naturally than I think I previously expected. This is why the importance of stepping away from your novel is so emphasized: After a break, you come back with fresh eyes. You just do. I mean, obviously I'm still biased and can't really be completely objective - this is my own story, for goodness' sake! - but taking a break from your story for a few weeks (or even months) gives you time to float down from the emotional high that came with pouring your heart and soul into the first draft. You're now ready to try looking at the book logically and with improvement in mind - through the eyes of a reader rather than through the eyes of a crazed writer.

I haven't had to make a huge effort to "stay objective, Lila, stay objective." <<< I haven't had to constantly whisper that to myself. Taking a break is so important because it helps SO MUCH with being objective as you read. It gives you a fresh outlook that feels natural.

2. Being flexible with the nature of my notes is really fun and I 10/10 recommend. You've heard the advice: Don't worry about the small things! Focus on the big things like plot and character! *pounds gavel* I agree, it's important to keep plot and character in the fore-front as you take notes. You shouldn't be obsessing over the teensy things like grammar and sentence structure yet. But I highly recommend taking notes on whatever you see that you want to take note of, even the smaller things - like dialogue that needs work or a description that isn't detailed enough. Just WRITE THE NOTE. It isn't going to hurt anything. On the contrary, it may just prove helpful later on. XD

For example, here are some notes I've taken on small-ish things in the reading of my WIP:

- Duuuuuuude, she should have asked about water while they were devouring bread. SHE'S THIRSTY.

- HAHAHA, okay, so HOW could Delmy see her hands if they're behind her back??? I am just too funny.

- WHERE IS THE EMOTION???

- How did she walk away?? Give me details!

As you can see, these notes are on smaller things. A character's insignificant decision or action that doesn't make sense. A phrase that needs to be more descriptive. A reminder about weaving emotion into tales of tragic backstory. Things I didn't have to acknowledge until a later draft, but... I didn't want to hold myself back. I wanted to stay FLEXIBLE. I have sooooo many comments on "show-don't-tell" and setting description alongside my plethora of comments on character and plot development. It really only made sense to include them, seeing as everything must tie together in a structured novel. :)

Besides, flexibility is more fun than restriction.



3. There are some things I absolutely love about this messy draft that have me flailing. The main purpose of my reading through and taking notes is not to fangirl over but to critique my work. Therefore, the VAST, VAST majority of my notes are negative. (fyi: Negative comments are way easier to take when you're self-critiquing, so feel free to go all out with all-caps and question marks and stuff. It's actually a lot of fun, at least for me. XD) And yet I can't help but leave a little comment here and there on the few things that especially jump out to me as awesome/epic/well-done. It's refreshing and exciting to type out a flail-y positive comment every now and then. It's my book - I'M MY OWN FANGIRL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

~~~

These are just a few of the things that I've learned/discovered in the experience of reading through and taking notes on my novel. Everybody's different, so I would LOVE to hear in the comments below how you go about preparing to edit your first drafts! And also, how's NaNo going for my fellow campers? It's hard to believe July is almost over!

The Lord's Truly,

Monday, July 16, 2018

THE BLOOD RACE BOOK REVIEW // Worlds Beneath by K.A. Emmons Blog Tour


(I was going to make a header, but then I saw someone else on the tour just use the Worlds Beneath cover and I decided that was a great idea. I mean... IT'S BEAUTIFUL.)

Welcome, O readers, to the blog tour for Worlds Beneath by K.A. Emmons, the highly anticipated sequel to The Blood Race! Though I have yet to read Worlds Beneath, I read the first book to review for this wonderful tour, and I'll give you a hint: I CAN'T WAIT TO READ THE SECOND ONE.

So without further ado, let's get into my review for the epic masterpiece that is The Blood Race. xD

~~~

This book was like no other I have ever read. Something about it felt so unique, so different from your average YA fantasy. (Or sci-fi fantasy. Whatever specific genre it falls into.)

I’ve seen several reviewers compare The Blood Race to Narnia, which I initially found unusual and almost impossible. After all, the vibe of the novel is nowhere NEAR a Narnia vibe - that much was clear from the get-go. As the story progressed, however, I picked up on the similarity. Now I would probably comp-title it “Narnia meets Karate Kid,” while at the same time insisting it’s incomparable. xD

It's deep. It's full of powerful themes, breathtakingly complex characters, and intense twists and turns that had me on the edge of my seat. If you want something emotional, gritty, fantastical, fast-paced, and theme-focused, I highly recommend The Blood Race!

It's the kind of book that really gets you THINKING. For example, at one point I was sitting on my patio whilst reading it on my Tablet screen, and I got caught up in a certain scene that I remember prompted me to gaze up the sky and imagine what it would be like to fly. (It was a really cool moment! No matter how lame it may sound. xD)

What would it be like to be one half of a soul searching for your other half?

What would it be like to have a teacher whose every remark oozed great wisdom (sometimes confusing great wisdom, but great wisdom nonetheless)?

What would it be like to face the incredibly hard choice of leaving one everything behind… or another everything?

Guys. THIS BOOK. It was just so meaningful, heart-rending, and beautiful all tied up in the gorgeous package of Emmons' superb writing style. <3 And as for the characters...

- Hawk is suuuuper cool, and I positively devoured her depth.

- Ion has enormous depth too, and his character arc… I CAN'T WITH HIM. <3

- Fin is a smol precious bean somehow capable of crushing my heart.

- Sensei is just the epitome of wisdom; I loved his character!

The story has allegorical elements, though I don't think it's a complete allegory...? Which is totally fine! Though it was very subtle, I took notice of it and ATE IT RIGHT UP. Readers from both Christian and secular audiences will enjoy! (Take note it has some mature content like language [briefly strong, mostly mild] and an undetailed, fade-to-black dream/flashback of a rape.)

- MY HEART. IT FELT THINGS. SO MUCH EMOTION.

- That ending, tho. Like I hinted at before, I need Worlds Beneath ASAP!


~ 5/5 stars ~





When she’s not hermiting away in her colorfully-painted home office writing her next science fiction, passionate story-teller and adventurer Kate Emmons is probably on the road for a surf or hiking trip, listening to vinyls, or going for a power run. Emmons’ debut novel The Blood Race is the first book in her YA science fiction/fantasy thriller series. Get connected with Kate on your favorite social platform, and be sure to check out http://kaemmons.com/!




~CONNECT WITH KATE~

 




For more on Livy's blog tours, click HERE!


The blog tour for Worlds Beneath is in full swing! Check out yesterday's tour stop at the blog Totally Graced, and be on the look-out for the tomorrow's stop at the blog Christ is Write. :D


The Lord's Truly,
Have you read The Blood Race? Have you read Worlds Beneath? Do you want to?? ;D Talk to me in the comments!

Monday, July 9, 2018

JUNE 2018 READS // mini reviews galore!


Hola, mis amigos! We're already neck-deep in the month of July (freaky), but I've been meaning to do a post in which I talk about the books I devoured in June. I have several reasons for this:

1) I read quite a lot of great books last month.

2) Everybody loves mini reviews.

3) BOOKS.

I don't have a whole lot of freedom, but I do have more freedom than I did. That's the beauty of summer! Also my vacation was pretty laid-back, meaning that I had a lot of time to read. #blessed <3

Onto the mini reviews, then!

1. In 27 Days by Alison Gervais

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Here's a bizarre truth: I read In 27 Days over the course of 2 days. (I'm a bit of a slower reader, okay?? I consider a whole novel in two days a pretty big accomplishment.) This story is just so beautiful, so meaningful, so HARD to put down. I fell deeply in love with the characters - they are precious smol beans with awesome depth and development. Especially Archer. <3 The suspense of it all made me constantly desperate to know what would happen next. The writing was wonderful (I pictured everything so vividly), and the setting made me feel cozy inside. Think autumn and coffeehouse. *heart eyes*

YOU NEED THIS BOOK IN YOUR LIFE.

~5/5 stars~

(Content advisory: a couple instances of an abbreviation for a cuss word and some passionate kissing. Don't believe there's much else of note...)



2. The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson



34094813Sometimes it's refreshing to step away from the familiar hefty novels and open up a short-and-sweet novella every once in a while, ya know what I'm saying?? The Girl Who Could See not only has an utterly GORGEOUS cover - the story inside is brilliant and inspiring, and I love the characters so much. <3

The thing about novellas is that their shortness, while refreshing, can make the story feel like it lacks a certain depth. I do wish some things could have been fleshed out more in this novella, but even so, it is a very well-rounded story with strong themes and 3-dimensional characters worth rooting for. Not to mention the absolutely GENIUS concepts of an "imaginary friend" who never left, and of being able to see two worlds at the same time!

~4/5 stars~

(Content advisory: Some violence and a semi-detailed kiss. That's about it, I think.)


3. Skeleton Key by Anthony Horowitz


103983I love the Alex Rider series because there's virtually no end to the explosive action, the villains are always really cool, and Alex himself is awesome.

At this point in the series, the characters aren't the most complex. Still, Skeleton Key is a fun, intense adventure that Horowitz clearly put a lot of planning and research into. His style, though simple, flows nicely and fits the action-packed nature of these stories like a charm. Though Alex would realistically be dead by now, the fact that he hasn't died yet makes him awesome. He's super smart and knows karate - and yet he's not perfect, which makes him feel real.

(Note: My first July read was Scorpia [Alex Rider book 5], and I just wanna say... The characters jump to a startling level of depth in that one - especially Alex, because we get into his backstory. I CAN'T WITH IT ALL. <3)

~4/5 stars~

(Content advisory: A couple minor curse words, violence [like explosions], people dying in less than pleasant ways - never detailed, I don't think - and some other minorly disturbing things.)


4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

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An odd story, that's for sure! The stakes are high, and things get really bad before they ever get better, which makes for an engaging, nail-biting read. The weirdness rises to a slightly uncomfortable level, though, and the characters weren't my favorite (Charles Wallace especially irritated me). Even so, it's a meaningful little story! Really appreciated the Christian parallels and the use of Scripture. <3

I don't think I'll read the rest of the quintet, but I'm definitely going to watch the movie - as soon as I get around to it. And I don't care what anyone else says, I'm hoping to enjoy that movie. XD

Aunt Beast is wonderful, and Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit are a fun, interesting, very unique trio. I shall hold close fond memories of this book. And strange memories. :)))

~3/5 stars~

(Content advisory: Uhhhhhh, WEIRDNESS?? I can't think of anything, really. I'd recommend it for ages 12+, I think. Maybe even 11+.)


5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

2767052I first read this book quite a few years ago, and last month I took the opportunity to reread it as an audiobook listen for my vacation road trip. And it was SO immersive. I mean, those hours on the road positively flew by.

This book is just AMAZING, okay?? The characters are complex and wonderful, the futuristic setting is genius, the plot is skillfully executed, and the writing style is great for audiobook. Just sayin'. ;)

THE HUNGER GAMES, AAAAAHHH. Sorry, I just love it. Best dystopian ever. <3

~5/5 stars~

(Content advisory: Rather violent/gruesome at times, so be ye warned. There's also some non-detailed kissing.)


6. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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*deep breath* This. Was. Beautiful.

One of my favorite things about Stiefvater's writing is her style, especially the particular style she uses for The Scorpio Races. I could feel, see, taste, and smell all there was to sense on the island of Thisby. I'm tellin' ya, it's all in the details!

I loved essentially everything else about it too, but you can read all my rambly, fangirly thoughts in THIS Goodreads review of mine. XD

Gaaaaahhh, I LOVED IT. Sean is beautiful and amazing, and I love Puck too. And also adorable little Finn. And... I'll shut up now. XD

~4.5/5 stars~

(Content advisory: Some language [nothing super bad] and some rude comments. Also I guess there was a little bit of suggestiveness? Oh, and also those water horses are savage. So yeah.)


7. The Blood Race by K.A. Emmons

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I won't say much about this book right now, because a full review of it is coming to the blog very soon, but suffice it to say that I ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOVED IT.

I loved the setting, the blatant themes, Sensei's wise words, the CHARACTERS <3333, the fast-moving plot. Also I got soooooo many feels from the different character relationships.

A heart-poundingly profound novel, The Blood Race definitely lived up to the hype for me. *nods*

~ 5/5 stars ~

(Content advisory: coming with the later review!)




8. Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz

175004(Forgive that blurry cover. :P)

Another epic installment to the Alex Rider series! I thought this one was especially creative, with the whole video game thing. Can't get specific because #spoilers. ;) It's the spark that sets up for the epic "different-ness" of the next book, Scorpia.

You see, this one is where Alex's mission(s) and Alex himself start to merge. If that makes any sense. It's hard to explain, and I don't want to spoil anything, so...

Also THE PLOT TWIST. You know that satisfying, jaw-dropping moment in a book when everything clicks into place, even if you didn't really notice there were that many pieces of the puzzle floating around? Eagle Strike has one of those moments. O_O

~4/5 stars~

(Content advisory: See my content advisory for Skeleton Key - it works for this one too!)



                                         9. Wonder by R.J. Palacio


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This is a sweet, moving story that delves deep into three big things: the power of family, the power of friendship, and the power of bullying.

The characters stole the show in this one. Some people don't like Auggie, but I love him. <3 I just want to huggle him forever. Also I admire Via, adore Jack (well, mostly), think Justin is pretty cute, and want to punch Julian in the face.

Wonder is full of sweet/funny moments that made me giggle (in the middle of the library at that), and also full of less-than-sweet moments that pricked my heart and made me want to cry.

It's a dark book, guys. But it is also hopeful, and it is extremely important. Highly recommended!

~4/5 stars~

(Content advisory: Some rude behavior [those bullies, urrrgh], and quite a few instances of God's name taken in vain. Also a tiny bit of non-detailed kissing.)

~~~

So. Nine books. Nine books throughout the month of June. All I can say is... I'm thankful for the freedom of summer. I may not be completely free, but I'm more free, which is better than nothing. XD 

Since we're already in the thick of July, I'm curious - how are my fellow Camp NaNo-ers doing so far? I'm back to work on my fairy tale retelling WIP, and it's going swimmingly! I hope it's going well for you guys too. <3

What is your average number of books read per month?
What are some good books you've read in the past month or two?
Have you read any of my June 2018 reads, and if so, what did ya think? ;)
Talk to me!

The Lord's Truly,