Book Review: Chasing Eveline

As you may have guessed from previous posts, I love Twitter. I have found wonderful writing communities, teaching communities, and people who share my interests, too. Every now and then, interesting tweets will pop up via one of the daily hashtags, and you will have no choice but to acknowledge them.

One such tweet entered my feed in early April from a new author (who also happens to teach and share a similar last name to mine): Leslie Hauser.

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Leslie went on to add: “I place a cupcake in every novel I write!” (Intrigued, yet?)

About a month later, Leslie was asking for readers: a free copy of her novel in exchange for an honest review. Her novel, Chasing Eveline, would debut a few months later (July 2017).

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Having already been interested in her writing, I agreed! Although I didn’t share how many times cupcakes were mentioned when I reviewed her lovely novel, I will share the review I wrote:

Book Review as it appeared on Goodreads

(I received a free copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. I do not know her, nor have I ever met her personally.)

Book Review: Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

Single parent. New best friend. Lost identity. Ivy Higgins has a lot to learn in Leslie Hauser’s new YA novel Chasing Eveline.

Ivy, a 16-year-old who still doesn’t know where she wants to go for college, is lost after her mother walks out of her life. She seeks answers in the lyrics of her mom’s favorite band, “Chasing Eveline,” a (fictional) 1980s Irish rock band.

After seeing her dad slowly become a new person these last two years, Ivy decides that she must reunite the band if she wants to find her mom, which she hopes will also reunite her family and help her father.

Ivy draws you in with her determination to put her family back together, a determination that drives her spontaneous decision-making. Some choices she makes are only half-heartedly supported by her new best friend Matt, who is still obsessing over his former girlfriend Charlotte.

One of Ivy’s wild ideas leads the duo on a dangerous path through the Internet, a place that isn’t as safe as she thought. Their adventure takes you on a spontaneous ride, complete with 1980s music and movies, tears you don’t see coming, and laughter, specifically at a hilarious – albeit slightly disturbing – zoo fundraiser.

Hauser hooks you from the first moment Ivy speaks of finding her mother, and she keeps you reading throughout Ivy’s journey of self-identity and discovery.

I recommend Chasing Eveline to readers who love to be surprised, who love music and movies, who are making new friends, and especially to readers who are trying to find a piece of themselves when a piece is missing.

Connect with the author:

I hope you get a chance to find all the cupcakes in Leslie’s new novel! Here are a few ways to follow her, too:

Website and Blog: “Writer of YA Novels”

Twitter: Leslie Hauser

Goodreads: Author Page

Facebook: Author Page

Have you read Chasing Eveline? Tell me about it in the comments!

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award!

I’ve been nominated! Woohoo!! I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award! I’ve been nominated for the — wait a second…

What exactly is the Liebster Award?

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The Liebster Award

Questions. I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Dianna Gunn, but I was left with questions. What is this award? Who’s it for? Why pick me? These were some of the questions in my head.

Dianna answered a few of them on her blog post, which also listed the rules. Yes, rules. Rules the nominee has to abide by should he/she choose to accept this award.

I wanted to know more.

From what I can gather, this award originated sometime around 2010. It’s an online award intended to encourage new bloggers as they settle into the life of blogging and build their readership.

We definitely need encouragement. That’s for sure!

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Rule 1: Thanks!

Thank you Dianna Gunn for thinking of me and for nominating me with this award!

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Rule 2: Display the award.

I did this up there! ^^^

Rule 3: Answer the questions.

Dianna asked 11 questions, so I will answer them here!

  1. What is your favorite color?
    • Tie-Dye! I’m not kidding. Josh and I even had a tie-dye wedding cake!img_5954
  2. If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would do?
    • I would like to say pay off debt or set aside enough for a college fund for our kiddos, but who am I kidding? I’m more likely to upgrade my phone and buy a laptop.
  3. Cats or dogs?
    • So… I used to be a cat person, but I am slowly becoming a dog person.
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      Athena: our almost 4-year-old terrier mix (Staffordshire Bull Terrier mixed with Fox Terrier)
  4. Cake or pie?
    • Cake… Sometimes pie, but mostly cake.
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      Josh’s groom’s cake at our wedding!
  5. What’s your favorite genre?
    • Historical fiction. This is my favorite book in that genre:Image result for the guernsey literary and potato peel society
  6. What’s your favorite series?
    • A tough question to answer…Image result for a modern witch series
  7. Favorite book to screen adaptation?
    • Books are almost always better than their movie counterparts. However, the movie was better this time. (Given, it could be because this one was based on a short story and not a full-length novel, but still…)Image result for shawshank redemption
  8. If you could be any character from a book or movie, who would it be?
    • I think I’d be Hermione Granger. Not only does she get to use magic, but she gets to ride a dragon, too!
  9. Do you read one book at a time or many?
    • Many
  10. What are you reading RIGHT NOW?
    • I’m about to start a Middle Grade fantasy. I checked out four from the library.
  11. What’s the one big thing you really want to accomplish before 2017 ends?
    • I want to have the third draft (yes… I said third) of my novel written by the end of this year.

Rule 4: Random Facts…

Random facts? What in the world do you want to know about me? I’ll try to think of 11…

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  1. I’m semi-ambidextrous. I write with my right hand, but I do most everything else left-handed: bowling, tennis, playing pool, etc.
  2. I’m the oldest of four children.
  3. Only my little brother and I were born in the same state — my parents, sister, and baby brother were all born in different states.
  4. Oddly, only my youngest son and I were born in the same state — hubby and oldest son were born in different states.
  5. I love Judy Blume books, but I haven’t read any in quite some time.
  6. I am one of those weird teachers who can’t wait for school to start again!
  7. I hate having my hair up, but I hate having it in my face, too…
  8. I played French horn in band, and before that I played the trumpet.
  9. I can solve a Rubik’s Cube (I still have to look up the patterns online for the yellow part, though).
  10. I don’t believe in ghosts… sort of…
  11. I can’t play video games with the music on.

Rule 5: Nominations!

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  1. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Dunlap — Lizzie launched a new book last month (second in the series), and she’s working on reaching her readers.
  2. G.R. McNeese — George not only shares his stories with his readers, but he also shares his struggles.
  3. Cori Miller — Cori writes about family, parenting, and the trials and blessings of motherhood.
  4. Remus — Remus writes about writing and how to get a little better at it.
  5. Leigh M. Lorien — Leigh encourages writers with helpful tips on writing and self-care.

Rule 6: Your questions… And some non-question type questions…

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  1. If you could meet any author (alive or from the past), who would you meet and why?
  2. Describe your first happy memory.
  3. What is your favorite scent, and has it ever appeared in your writing?
  4. Describe your favorite place in the whole world.
  5. If you could only listen to music from one decade in history for the rest of your life, which decade would you choose and why?
  6. Describe how it looks outside right now.
  7. What do you remember about your favorite teacher?
  8. Describe your ideal vacation.
  9. If you could live in one fictional world (that you didn’t create), which one would you live in and why?
  10. Describe a time when you wish you had a camera, but didn’t.
  11. What would you do with a million dollars?

Rule 7: List the rules.

Already done, too! ^^^

Rule 8: Inform your nominees!

I linked them in, but I’ll let them know, too!

What now?

That was fun! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me, and I can’t wait to hear more about you!

What now? I’d like to hear a few random facts about you. So, feel free to share a couple or answer a few of my questions above about yourself in the comments section below!

Dianna, thank you again for this nomination!

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Book Review: A Modern Witch

Quite a few years ago I came across a wonderful book series with fascinating characters and plot elements, both of which gave readers a new way to look at the world of witches. This is my review of the first novel in the series, which I highly recommend!

Review

In her series premiere of A Modern Witch, Debora Geary captivates her readers in the light, fantastical journey of Lauren, a successful real-estate agent who didn’t know she was a witch until she was almost 30 years old.

Through Lauren’s encounters of a world filled with gregarious witches, heart-melting witchlings, and life-changing decisions, Geary leads you on a path of true friendship, caring family, difficult choices, and powerful magic.

From the very beginning, you’re literally (yes, I mean literally… okay, I mean literally for Lauren…) sucked into the lives of the Sullivans, who Lauren accidentally links with during one extremely strange online shopping trip – after all, she only wanted a little ice-cream.

“This is one weird February.” –A Modern Witch

After the odd online meeting, Lauren is surprised a second time when a handsome Sullivan shows up on her doorstep in Chicago, Illinois from Berkeley, California to explain to her that she really is a witch — and not just any witch, she’s a mind witch. Then, after a few convincing magic tricks, Lauren and her best friend Natalie head to “Witch Central,” where Lauren is faced with life’s next big decision — what do you do when you find out you’re a witch?

What do you do when you find out you’re a witch?

Love and support overflow in Geary’s “Witch Central,” which allows you to feel like a part of the family while reading. Anyone who came from such a loving family can easily relate to the hearts of Lauren’s new friends.

On the other hand, those who came from the opposite end of the familial spectrum find themselves easily wrapped in the arms of this group and wishing for more when they read the last page. For readers who enjoy a variety of emotions and deep character connections, Geary captures you under her spell and leaves you eager for the next adventure!

Geary’s series is available in paperback (I’m not sure why they’re not available on Kindle anymore). Be sure to add these to your “to be read” list because they are sure to inch their way into your heart starting on page one!


Resources:

Visit Debora Geary’s website for a complete list of books in this series and her spin-offs.

A Modern Witch on Amazon

Avoiding Writer’s Block in 4 Steps

We’ve all heard of the mysterious writing condition that strikes writer’s at the most in-opportune moments: Writer’s Block. However, not every writer suffers from this epidemic. Some find their way around it before it even starts.

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How can they possibly overcome it before it starts? Do these ideas work after it’s started? I am a writer who has never had writer’s block. I do struggle sometimes with plot points (especially in the novel I’m writing), but it’s not a block. I have 4 steps to avoiding it that may help you, too.

1. Set achievable writing goals

What? Writing goals? I briefly mentioned these in The Wonderful World of Writer’s Notebooks. If you have goals, you are more likely to write. This is true even in my classroom – my students have writing goals every grading period, and they work to achieve their goals all six weeks.

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I have several long-term goals: write a memoir, keep up with my blog, read 25 books this year, stay in touch with my pen pals, and publish my first novel.

These goals won’t be reached in a single step, so I have to figure out how to get to the end. What I need is a plan. The planner above is where I create weekly goals that will take me one step closer to my ultimate goals. (You can’t see the right-hand side, but it has crochet goals, too.)

The only thing missing above is the actual plan. I don’t set aside specific days, though, because I know that I will miss one or want to work on something else that day. These are achievable weekly goals that I can work on anytime I have the opportunity during the week. My biggest struggle here is making sure not to set too many.

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As you can see by this week’s goals, I took out the memoir pages and added revisions for my novel as part of Camp NaNo. We also had family in this week, so I had to make sure that any goals I set could still be achieved this week.

That’s the key: achievable goals. What’s the point of setting goals that can’t be reached? Where will it lead other than downhill? It could even lead to writer’s block, which will not help anything.

2. Open to a blank page and write any words (maybe even draw a picture)

What? What do you mean write any words? What kind of words? Anything! I mean it. Write in any format, too. Here are a few things that may fall out of your pen when you start writing:

  • Your feelings: It’s okay to vent your frustrations. They may be holding you back from writing.
  • A poem: It’s okay if that’s not your goal. Anyone can write a poem, and who knows, it may even let off some of your emotional steam.
  • A list of words: That’s right, make a list of words that you could use for something. Use that dictionary or thesaurus to stretch your vocabulary.

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  • Learn a new word: Speaking of vocabulary, maybe you’ve heard or read a word recently that you didn’t recognize. Let that word fall out of your pen, and then discover it.
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  • A new idea: Yes, even a new idea may form on your no-longer-blank page. It’s okay if it’s not something you’re working on, let it happen anyway (you don’t want to block creativity).
  • Anything: Simply see where that blank page takes you. (This is where drawing comes in. Even if you’re not an artist, you could still sketch whatever is on your mind.) It is not your enemy.
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“Dardo” is an idea I have for a dragon story. He’s still in the works…

3. Read something

Is there a book you’ve been wanting to read for a while but haven’t had the time? Pick it up and read. Maybe you have a Goodreads reading goal that needs attention.

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How does reading help you avoid writer’s block? It seems like it’s an easy way to avoid writing, doesn’t it? Nope. Reading offers your brain a break from your world while you peruse someone else’s world. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from other authors:

  • How are plot issues handled?
  • What is the MC’s motivation?
  • How is the setting introduced?
  • Why are supporting characters in the story?
  • How is each chapter leading to the central conflict?
  • How is dialogue used to enhance the story?
  • Are the characterizations consistent?
  • Can I learn anything from the grammatical structures used?

Use this brain break to further your knowledge of writing as a reader. After you’re finished with a book, you have another writing opportunity: write a book review. Authors love to hear what you have to say about the books they’ve spent so long writing, so tell them and tell the world.

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Outline for book review: Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser.

Reading offers up so many possibilities for you as a writer. Reading in your genre helps you see what’s going on in similar worlds. Reading outside your genre helps you see how other authors create their worlds, characters, plots, etc. compared to what you’re used to. The advice I’ve seen is to try to read from as many genres as you can.

4. Take time for your hobby

As you’ve already seen, my hobby (one of them, anyway) is crocheting. It is often neglected because I’m either reading or writing, though. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, or even just need a brain break before you continue that difficult scene, take some time to work on your hobby.

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2017 Temperature Blanket – updated to the end of May

While you’re invested in your creative task, you may find your brain wandering back to your writing, which could lead you to an epiphany about your plot, character, or any part of it. Let it happen. Let your mind wander. However, if your hobby of choice requires saws or drills or the like, make sure you pay attention to your work while your mind wanders… You may need those fingers to write.

I’ve tried all of that… Now what?

Maybe something is keeping you from writing: stress, work, family, etc. Take some time away from the cause of your writer’s block, and enjoy the free time. You don’t even have to write: bask in the sun, read a book, catch a movie, go fishing. Do something that will help clear your mind and prepare you to write again.

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Don’t be afraid of that blank page or that novel that needs revised. You are there to make those pages better. You are there to turn those empty pages into something wonderful. You are there to fill those empty lines with your next big adventure.

After you clear your mind, go back through the list and see what you can achieve. You can overcome this “temporary condition.” You can.

How do you overcome writer’s block or avoid it altogether? Let me know in the comments!

Resources

Online Dictionary and Thesaurus

Camp NaNoWriMo

Goodreads

Book Review: Chasing Eveline by Leslie Hauser

Overcoming Writer’s Block- Writer’s Digest

Overcoming Writer’s Block- Jeff Goins