Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tea Tuesday: Magnolia Oolong




I'm not really a coffee person. I prefer tea, and I know a lot of fellow writers love tea, too. But have you ever wanted to break out of the Early Grey or English Breakfast norm and try something new? Well, let me help you find some cool new teas! If you need a little hot and flavorful boost to help you reach your writing goal or you're just a lover of tea or you'd like to try some tea but aren't fond of the stereotypical types, these Tea Tuesday posts are for you.

This weeks tea is ... 

*drum roll*

Magnolia Oolong





How I found it: Last fall the new Tawainese oolong company Tea Ave (opened March 1, 2015) emailed me and asked me if I would be interest in reviewing some teas for their soon-to-be-open company. At first I thought this was good to be true, so I double checked, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover this company was indeed legitimate. They had some delays, but they finally sent me the samples I requested in February--and more! I also got the lovely cups and oak tray displayed above and a tote bag. They were so kind and generous and their teas are fantastic. The wait was worth it!

The Tea: This tea is light and sweet with a flowery magnolia flavor. Basically it tastes like how magnolias smell and they taste delightful. I tried it in my special aroma cup and oolong cup I received from the company and smelling the fragrance in the aroma cup made the experience even better! This is a calming and gentle tea. Absolutely lovely. 

Serving Recommendations: I steeped this tea for three minutes and added sugar.

How much is it and where can you get it? Though I received this tea as a free sample you can purchase the teas yourself on the Tea Ave website. The prices range from $9 for the smallest amount to $70 for the largest amount (U.S. dollars and not including shipping), but you also get three free samples of your choice with your order. It's pricey, but it's quality.

So how good is it? This tea has a unique flavor and is absolutely scrumptious. It isn't my absolute favorite, but I'll certainly drink it again. I give it a 4.3.


Have you tried this tea? What did you think of it? Have you had any teas from Tea Ave?

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Soundtrack Sunday: The Riders of Rohan (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers)




It's Soundtrack Sunday again! The day where I post awesome music to write to or just listen to for pleasure if you're a fellow soundtrack junkie. Since this week I'm having a friend over and we're doing the ultimate Hobbit/LotR marathon, I thought it appropriate post a piece from the Lord of the Rings and this is from my favorite book/movie the Two Towers. ^ ^ 

I love the music of Rohan. It has always been my favorite since I heard it as a little kid. This piece starts intense with trumpets and strings in full orchestra then calms into my favorite part of the piece with the characteristic Rohan theme with mostly strings and a bit of oboe that builds into epicness. My soul just sings when the violin solo comes in. Then it ends on an intense note. This is a great piece for writing an epic fantasy. I just love it. ^ ^ You can listen to more epic music in my Soundtrack Sundays YouTube playlist.


Have you heard this piece before? What do you think of it? Have you seen the Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers?

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)



Saturday, March 28, 2015

How to Be a Proper Brainstorm Buddy


If you are a brainstorm buddy, you've come to the right post. If you're a writer, you've also come to the right post and you can share this with your brainstorm buddy--or at least maybe get a laugh.

Hello. So you are someone who has been bestowed upon the esteemed position of being the all-hallowed brainstorm buddy. This means you have the privilege of getting insight on a writer's books that no one else can have. You will be a part of the creation of their magnum opus. When one is chosen for this elite status a writer is saying:


Therefore here is a brief guide on how to be a proper brainstorm buddy so you and your writer may get maximum production out of your partnership. I may have gotten a little gif-happy with this post, but hopefully these visual aids will be of assistance.

1.) Accept the Fact That They are Going to Talk to You About A Lot of Weird Stuff - Writers a weird. It's the truth, so accept they are going to talk to you about weird things like gunshot wounds, what the toilets are like in Russia, and, "Should I make this race's skin purple or vermilion?" Also just because they talk about building bombs and where to bury bodies this does not mean they are terrorists or psychopaths. This is perfectly normal writer behavior, and remember it's all for the books.

This reaction to some writer's spiel is acceptable.

2.) Accept the Fact and Be Willing to Possibly to Do Weird Stuff For/To Them - Your writer may ask you to do strange things in the name of book research such as duct tape their hands (I've done it), ask you to get into a certain sitting position so they can describe it (I've done it.), or try weird foods at certain restaurants so they can describe exact tastes. Writers want to make their books as realistic as possible (Yes, even speculative fiction has to be realistic to a degree) and we'll do a lot to make sure we can get that realism.

Writers love this kind of enthusiasm.

3.) Accept the Fact They May Ask You About Said Things At Weird Times of the Day or Night - The muse will hit the writer at any time of the day or night, so you may get a text a two a.m. when the writer is trying to fan a flame of an idea that just hit them in a dream or they may call you up randomly to talk about another idea. Some writers get their ideas in the shower or while washing dishes, some have their juices flow in the day or night. It varies, but it's common behavior.
Thank you for your lack of sleep.
4.) Know that They Are Sharing Something with You that is Dear to Them - Keep in mind all the book ideas the writer shows you is toward a project that reflects their soul. They take part of their lives and put it into a story that they spend hours and hours working on. They're very passionate about their stories and sometimes sensitive. Now they're sharing it with you, because they trust you enough to know parts of their inner self.

This is what the writer is doing.
5.) It's Okay If You Get A Little Confused - Writers will sometimes just spout ideas and you'll think, "Wait what book is this? What's going on?" As a brainstorm buddy you're also their anchor, so if they're getting carried away tell them politely to slow down. Another good practice for if this is your first time being their brainstorm buddy or if this is a new book is to ask them to tell you about their book's premise. It's good practice for them even if they do groan a little bit. If they want to be published, they have to get in the habit of telling people about their book at the drop of a hat.

It's okay if you have this reaction.
6.) Ask Them A lot of Questions - When a writer comes to you with another idea, ask them about the idea like, "So what are her parents like?" or "Where does he work?" or "So is the environment snowy or a warmer climate?" Questions really help get the juices flowing especially when they're coming up with a new concept or if they're really stuck. Just ask them any question that comes to mind

It's okay to have a lot of questions.

7.) And Sometimes Just Shut Up and Let them Talk - In other cases you just have to be quiet and listen and just let them talk out their idea or problem. They just need a living human being that's not their cat to voice their idea to.

Listen!
8.) Be Their Voice of Reason - If an idea totally doesn't make sense say so nicely. Don't totally shut down their idea or you'll get a depressed writer on your hands. Trust me, you don't want that. But kindly point out those flaws and plot holes you see in it so they don't write a whole book with that huge massive problem and then they have to spend another rewrite fixing it. You are saving them from hours of extra work.
Sometimes the theories are a bit flawed.
9.) But Also Be Their Fangirl/Fanboy - If there's something about their stories that you just absolutely love don't be quiet about it! If there's an adorable couple, squee about it. If there's a super cool power, oooo and ahhhh about it. If there's a scene that just hits you in the feels, tell them how much it does. Writers love to know that they're doing their job right. It also encourages them if they're feeling like their story is stupid or somebody says something mean about it or they just got rejected.

Fangirling is totally acceptable.
10.) Know That They May Not Say it Enough But They Really Do Appreciate You - Writers may ask you about weird things or ask you to do other weird things or ramble on for hours about an idea, but they do love you and appreciate you. They think you're amazing and have a special connection with you and they will probably put you in the acknowledgments of their books when they get published or even dedicate it to you and/or give you a free copy!


Give your brainstorm buddy a hug!
I hope this was a helpful guide for you brainstorm buddies out there! And, writers, love on your brainstorm buddies. They do so much for us. Give them a hug, text them "I love you," buy them ice cream, rant about their greatness in the comments, just anything you can think of to show the love. I'll start, "I love you, Cassia, Cassidy, and Lyssa! You guys are the most awesome brainstorm buddies ever!" Brainstorm buddies rock!

Who is your brainstorm buddy? What are some things you've asked them to do? Who is your writer? What are some strange thing they've asked you to do?

You may also like:

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)


Friday, March 27, 2015

New Posting Day!



I never thought I'd say this but ... I have too much stuff I want to post for my current schedule therefore I will be also posting on Fridays now too! Fridays will be Fan Friday where I post tags, character interviews, random link-ups and things like that. It will be a really fun day while Saturday will be more reserved for how-tos, book reviews, journal posts, author interviews, guest posts, and the monthly link-up.

The schedule will enact starting next week! Be here next Friday!

Here is the new schedule:

The Schedule:

All posts will go up at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Sunday - Soundtrack Sundays - The day I post a new music score piece.
Tuesday - Tea Tuesday - The day I post a review of teas for your drinking pleasure while writing or reading.
Wednesday - Wonderful Word Wednesday -  The day I post an awesome word for writing.
Friday - Fan Friday - This will include tags, character interviews, random link-ups (by me or other people), and the like. Basically just fun stuff.
1st Saturday of the Month - A Writing post - (link) On this day I'll post about writing tips, rants and other similar topics.
2nd Saturday of the Month - A Blog-Link Up - On this day I'll do link-ups from Paperfury, because I love doing them and they're so helpful. They usually center around books, characters and stuff like that.
3rd Saturday of the Month -  A Book Review - (link) On this day I'll post a review of a book I've read recently.
4th Saturday and 5th Saturday (If the month has one) - Varied -  Journal post (like this one), author interview, a guest post, or a second writing post or book review. Basically these are the two surprise/flexible days.
Note: If an event comes up such as a convention or conference happens near a designated post's Saturday, I'll write the post on that week and scooch the regular post to a different week, and I'll designate to what week each time.

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wonderful Word Wednesday: Brogue




It's Wonderful Word Wednesday again! Do you as a writer ever struggle finding that perfect word to describe something or you want to shake your writing up with some new words? Each Wednesday I post hand-picked descriptive words for writers and other vocabulary nerds out there. ;) I've heard this one before, but it's still a fun word. ^ ^

brogue
noun
1.) an Irish accent in the pronunciation of English.
2.) any strong regional accent.

Example Sentence: Claes has a Scottish brogue.


Have you seen or used this word before? What do you think of it?

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)




Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tea Tuesday: Candor




I'm not really a coffee person. I prefer tea, and I know a lot of fellow writers love tea, too. But have you ever wanted to break out of the Early Grey or English Breakfast norm and try something new? Well, let me help you find some cool new teas! If you need a little hot and flavorful boost to help you reach your writing goal or you're just a lover of tea or you'd like to try some tea but aren't fond of the stereotypical types, these Tea Tuesday posts are for you.

This weeks tea is ... 

*drum roll*

Candor




How I found it:  I'm back with another fandom set from Adagio Teas. This is the same site I bought the Avengers set,Sherlock set, Tolkien set, Avatar: the Last Airbender set,  Doctor Who set, Attack on Titan set, and RWBY set from! The set for the next few weeks is the Divergent set! I thought it appropriate what with Insurgent coming out on March 20th. I'm really excited about that. ^ ^

Though I didn't enjoy the book very much, I'm hoping the movie will be better. It seems like it's going to be, though I'm still not sure about Johanna. SCAR! *clears throat* Moving on ... This set includes the five factions plus that one special one: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, Candor, and Divergent. They all smell delicious, let's see how they taste!

The Tea: This is the last of the Divergent blends. Wah! Candor's tea has snowbud which reminds me of their white clothing, and ceylon sonata which reminds me of their calm, composed, and honest nature. The tea is simple and gentle with a bit of sweet at the end. It's a nice flavor, but I expected something more ... blunt for candor since they're so honest to a fault that it bridges on rudeness at times like Christina can be. So though this is a good tea and I could see Candor drinking it, it's not completely fitting to this faction to me.


Serving Recommendations: I steeped this for five minutes and added sugar and cream.

How much is it and where can you get it? You can find this tea at the Adagio website. I bought this tea in a sample set which was about $22 including shipping and you get a goodly amount of tea since you only need about a teaspoon per cup. Some of these teas you can buy individually for about $10 a pouch. 

So how good is it? I give this a 3.5. It's a good tea, but it's not especially unique or thrilling.


Have you tried this tea? What did you think of it? Have you seen or read DivergentWho's your favorite character?

Bonus! If you are a first-time Adagio customer I can send you a $5 giftcard! Ask in the comments for details! (This is no joke and no catch I seriously can. It's part of the amazingness of Adagio Teas)

Though the Divergent set is over, up next are some special Taiwanese Oolong teas from Tea Ave!

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Soundtrack Sunday: The Message (Insurgent)




It's Soundtrack Sunday again! The day where I post awesome music to write to or just listen to for pleasure if you're a fellow soundtrack junkie. Though I believe the Insurgent soundtrack wasn't as good as the Divergent soundtrack that doesn't mean there aren't a few good tracks particularly this one stuck me while seeing the film in theaters. I liked it by the way and you can check out my review of it on Geeks Under Grace

This piece is uplifting with a mix of synthetic tones and orchestra. It's peaceful and calming, but with an abrupt ending with drums. I especially like the piano in it at one point. It's a lovely piece and good for happy scenes or peaceful scenes while writing a book.You can listen to more epic music in my Soundtrack Sundays YouTube playlist.


Have you heard this piece before? What do you think of it? Have you seen or read Insurgent?

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)



Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Book Review of Reapers by Bryan Davis



Buy on Amazon!
Reapers is a dystopian tale with a supernatural twist. Taking place in a futuristic, urban setting, this first book in a planned trilogy will appeal to readers of The Hunger Games and similar fast–paced stories for young adults. Along with a blend of real life and imagination, it delivers action, danger, and suspense through the adventures of three teenagers—Phoenix, Singapore, and Shanghai—Reapers who collect the souls of the dying or already dead and transport them to the Gateway where they will travel to their final destination ... or so they are told.

Series: Reapers (Book 1)
Genre: Christian YA Dystopian
Publisher: Scrub Jay Journeys; First edition (March 1, 2014)
Page Count: 400 pages

What I liked: This is one of my favorite books this author has ever written. It is an emotional ride that will slaughter your feels wrapped around a gripping plot. I actually beta-ed this book before it came out over a year ago. I've now reread it for review. 


The plot is gritty with lots of twist and turns and clever villains trying to stop the heroes' plans and will keep you turning pages and possibly make you throw the book. Since this is about people who reap souls, there is a lot of death so queue waterworks. Certain scenes will probably make you cry and others are very powerful and will make you stop and think. There is romance. It's actually a love ... square. It's very complicated and not cheesy at all and all of the girls are very likable. 



This is Mr. Davis so of course the writing is good. You can picture the scenes and actions clearly. 



The characters are three-dimensional and intriguing. Their names are really neat since they're named after destroyed cities: Phoenix, Moscow, Singapore, Shanghai, Cairo, Saint Petersburg and others. The main character Phoenix is noble and sacrificial. He's a light in the dark dystopian world. Singapore and Shanghai are awesome ladies. They're capable, but still feminine. One of the ghosts named Crandyke made me laugh several times. The villains are very evil. Alex is cruel and cunning, and the Gatekeeper has that sickly sweetness that makes your skin crawl. There's also a little ghost named Tori like my name. ^ ^



I like the myriad of accents the characters have including Scottish, Irish, and African. When I read part of this out loud at one of the Florida Christian Writers Conferences, I did the Scottish and Irish accents and that's a fond memory of mine.



I love this world. It centers around dystopian Chicago. It is really dark and the government controls the citizens by confiscating medicine. It's really fleshed out and feels real. The reapers' abilities are very neat especially the actual reaping of souls. When they go into the ghost realm is very interesting. 



There are many themes of trust, friendship, and sacrifice throughout so despite the dark atmosphere there is much-needed hope in the story. 



What I didn't like: I felt like Phoenix's voice sounded a bit mature even for someone of his background, like some of the author's fantasy-style was bleeding in and it felt a bit inappropriate. Though this gets better as it goes.



Content Cautions: This is a book about reapers as in people who escort souls of the dead to the gateway to go to the afterlife. There's nothing sacrilegious here. Many ghosts wander around or are characters which are basically just disembodied souls. Since this about reapers there is some violence and death, but nothing too bloody. There are some mild sexual references from mostly the bad guys and some smoking. Some characters are stripped naked after they're executed, but it isn't described graphically.



This book is definitely top notch in the dystopian department. I give it 4.5. ^ ^




About the Author:
Bryan Davis is the author of the following young adult fantasy series: Dragons in our Midst, Oracles of Fire, Echoes from the Edge, and Dragons of Starlight. He also wrote I Know Why the Angels dance, a contemporary novel for adults.

After laboring as a computer geek for 20 years, Bryan followed a dream to become an author. He began by writing a story to motivate his seven children to gain some excitement about writing, and that story grew into a novel. After spending the next eight years learning the craft and enduring more than 200 rejections from publishers and agents, he broke through with his best-selling series Dragons in our Midst. He is now a full-time author and lives with his wife, Susie, and their children in western Tennessee.

You can find him on FacebookTwitterGoodreads and his website! I also have an interview with him I had on the blog!


I've reviewed several other books by this author:



Goodies: 

If you're not convinced to read it by review then also check out this book trailer! It's really awesome for an indie trailer, like, really awesome. 


And ... when you're finished with the book the author has posted the first bit of the second book up on his blog! Yays! Check it out here!


If that wasn't enough I'm giving away a paperback copy of the book signed by the author! How cool is that?




Note: To get the entry points, you must complete the displayed task even if the Rafflecopter widget says you did I will not count them. Like my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, follow my blog (you can click the follow button to follow me via Google+, click Join this Blog to follow me via blogger or regular Google or enter your email in the Follow me by Email box to get email updates) or tweet about the giveaway (if you have twitter you know how to do that). I've had entries already where people have not done the tasks and that is cheating.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wonderful Word Wednesday: Formication




It's Wonderful Word Wednesday again! Do you as a writer ever struggle finding that perfect word to describe something or you want to shake your writing up with some new words? Each Wednesday I post hand-picked descriptive words for writers and other vocabulary nerds out there. ;) Here's a fun one. I had no idea this actually had a name. XD

formication
noun
1.) a tactile hallucination involving the belief that something is crawling on the body or under the skin.

Example Sentence: Dina couldn't help the feeling of formication as she walked through the dark, dirty, dank tunnels.

Dina hates rates or any kind of pest for that matter.

Have you seen or used this word before? What do you think of it?

If you liked this post, come back every Saturday for more writing advice, character interviews, book reviews and more! On Sundays I have Soundtrack Sundays where I post a new score piece, Tuesdays are Tea Tuesdays with tea reviews, Wednesdays I have Wonderful Word Wednesdays where I post a new vocabulary word, and Fridays are Fan Fridays where I post tags and other goodies. To help support my dream to be an author follow this blog, like me on Facebook, watch me on deviantART, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter. If you want to know more about my books check out them out here. Thank you! :)