Ladybug Storytime Review

Thank you Kristina at Ladybug Storytime for reading Celia on the Run and sharing your thoughts on your blog. So glad you enjoyed it! http://ladybugstorytime.blogspot.com/

I’m in awe of readers and bloggers who can take on a book, read it, and are then able to write their own personal and original thoughts about it. This is something I have a hard time doing myself, but really want to work on. I love to read, I read quite a lot of books, but I never write reviews because I have a difficult time talking about other people’s work, regardless of whether I enjoyed the story or not so much. Can’t explain why that is! One of my goals this year is to start getting comfortable writing reviews, and by the end of the year, I’d like to have accomplished 10. Seems doable, seems like it should be pretty straightforward, but I promise you I’ll get writers block when I sit down and try to write words about a story I read & loved. I do think reviews are extremely helpful when I’m looking for my next read, so I feel like such a slacker for not contributing. Going to change that this year!

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1 Year Ago Today…

Celia on the Run turns one year old today! Happy birthday to Nick and Celia, to their story. Happy anniversary to my publisher, Untreed Reads! Hard to believe my debut novel has been out for a full year now. Even harder to believe a publisher was willing to take a chance on me, a writer with no credentials, just a manuscript and a good imagination. So thankful for the chance to share my first book with the world, and even though I would write regardless of publication, having readers get lost in a story I created is so incredibly rewarding. Since it was only 12 months ago when Celia on the Run was first released, it’s easy for me to remember the happy-nervous feeling I had when I first saw MY book available online. I was so freaked out and excited about it I didn’t tell anyone (except my husband, of course) that the book was officially published and out there in the world for nearly a month. Pretty weird that I kept that to myself, huh? I can’t even explain why I did that, why I kept my big news a secret, but I eventually got over my shyness (a little…still have a long way to go), and have enjoyed connecting with bloggers and readers over the last 11 months. I’ve learned so much in a year, and I can’t wait to see this next 12 months has in store!

Posted in On Writing

Featured on Buried in Books

A big thank you to Heather at Buried in Books for featuring Celia on the Run on her blog today. Be sure to enter the giveaway and check back often to see what’s new! http://wwwburiedinbooks.blogspot.com/

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Photos Are Ideas

As much as I enjoyed writing Celia on the Run, I have to admit I had just as much fun putting together the photo album inspired by the book. If you haven’t taken a peek yet, the album can be found here http://celiaontherun.com/roadtrip/ The majority of those photos are ones I took at some time or another, long before I ever wrote the novel. Many photos are from previous travels, some were taken just around the corner, but somehow they all worked together perfectly to give a pictorial telling of Nick and Celia’s cross country journey.

The first photo in the Celia on the Run photo album was taken back in 2003 in Arizona when I was with my parents on what turned out to be our last family vacation together. I remember snapping the photo from the backseat of the rental car, never dreaming that particular photo would become part of the inspiration for my first published novel. I just love to take pictures, anywhere, everywhere, and I suppose I’m now realizing that a lot of the ideas I get for art and writing come from my own photos, even if years go by in between the time the picture was snapped and when it becomes part of something more. Inspiration takes time!

Recently, my husband and I did a little aimless driving for fun, and as always, I took my camera and had a great time shooting all the random things we came across. Who knows, maybe these images will inspire another book years down the road? You just never know! These recent photos are of Gilreath’s Mill, a rundown, rusty, gem-of-a-find in the middle of the woods near Taylors, South Carolina. Check back here in ten years to see if I ever incorporated this decrepit non-landmark into a work of fiction!

Gilreaths Mill-1

Gilreaths Mill-2

Gilreaths Mill-3

 

Posted in Favorite Things, Inspiration, On Writing, Photography

My Top Ten

It’s always exciting to hear someone out there enjoyed reading Celia on the Run at the 5 out of 5 star level! A big thank you to Taeesha from a blog called A Diary of a Book Addict for her wonderful review of my debut novel. Check out her spoiler-free write up here: http://adiaryofabookaddict.blogspot.com/2012/11/celia-on-run-by-sarah-mandell-book.html#

I’ll admit I’m very stingy with giving out 5 stars myself so I feel totally honored here. Most books I read are 3 or 4 stars (which is good!). I enjoyed them immensely but didn’t finish the book thinking, “Man, that was really and truly the best book I’ve ever read”. So what are the best books I’ve ever read? Here’s my top ten favorite books of from the last few years, in no particular order:

The Electric Michelangelo by Sarah Hall

My Name is Memory by Anne Brashers

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Age of Miracles by Karen Walker Thompson

In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith

Dash & Lilly’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

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Take a Break

I recently got the chance to do an author interview on Avery’s Book Nook and really enjoyed the questions, especially the one about advice for aspiring authors. I’ve given this piece of advice a few times because it was one of the best things I ever did for my own writing: TAKE A BREAK! I’m not talking about taking a lengthy vacation right in the middle of writing a story if you’re on a roll. I’m talking about letting the novel rest once you’ve completed a first draft or major revision. Let your words stay as they are for a few weeks (Stephen King suggests 6-8 weeks in his book On Writing), then come back to your story with a fresh perspective. What do you do for 6-8 weeks while your unfinished masterpiece just sits there waiting for you? Work on something else, anything else. You’ll be glad you did, because when you come back to your novel with new skills, a clear mind, and bursting-at-the-seams excitement, you’ll be amazed the improvement.

In this author interview on Avery’s Book Nook, I came clean about how long it took me to finish Celia on the Run, which I began writing several years ago. I just didn’t know what to do with a strange story like this at first, I couldn’t end it to my satisfaction, but I was too invested in the characters and partial manuscript to abandon it. So, I took a major break from this story (way more than 6-8 weeks, more like a year), but in that time I wrote about 3 other full length novels then came back to Nick and Celia’s road trip where I was newly inspired and finished it with a bang.

If the plot just isn’t working, if the ending is lame (and you know it), don’t give up hope, just make sure your computer files are backed up and take that much needed break!

Check out the full interview here: http://www.averysbooknook.com/2012/10/author-interview-sarah-mandell.html

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A Good Listener

I have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time. There’s so much I want to do, so many projects I bounce between on any given day, so finding the time to actually sit down and quietly read a book doesn’t always happen for me, even though I love love love to read. So how do I still manage to get through about a book a week on average? I listen to them. I know, audio books are for old folks, right? I’m not even 30 yet! My mom used to borrow books on tape from the library when she traveled for work, and I as a teen I thought that was pretty lame, especially when loud music was an option. I’m now realizing she was onto something, she found a great way to multitask and get more out of the time on the road. I’m proud to say I have my Audible.com subscription and I go through credits like I go through a bag of potato chips. I use the Audible.com app and my story plays like magic out of the speaker on my phone, usually from my back pocket as I go about my day (not just in the car, not just at the gym). Listening to novels allows me to keep doing what I’m doing, but still offers that escape into another life, another world, that’s so addictive.

Audio books also give me an edge when I write dialogue in my own stories, I believe. When you listen to someone reading out loud, it’s really easy to tell when the dialogue is a bit off and doesn’t sound realistic, and now that I’ve become an avid listener of books, I think that’s helped me hear the difference and carry that over into my own work. One writing tip I’ve heard countless times is to read your dialog out loud, and though it seems kinda silly, it really does make sense, you can hear the problems before you even finish speaking the sentence. Listening to books has also taught me to listen to the way people speak, the slang that’s natural, the cadence of their comments. There’s some words that seem to appear in books all the time (like cacophony, which has been in every single book I’ve read so far this year!), but I’ve never actually heard a person use in real life, so I tend to avoid big complicated words in my own writing because I gravitate towards characters that are fairly ordinary, and ordinary people use ordinary vocabulary.

I still make time for “real” books on occasion. As much as I love my audio books, I also love dirt cheap used books and have a huge stack of them on my shelf to prove it. I’m usually reading two books at a time: one the old fashioned way, one with my ears. I’ve started keeping track of my “currently reading” list on Goodreads, but only I know which of the two books I’m actually reading and which one is being read to me.

 

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No crickets, please!

Two new reviews to report today. Both readers seemed to have enjoyed Celia on the Run, but in very different ways. I love that! I love that the same characters and plot line, the same exact words in the same order, can have a unique impact on the person taking in the story that’s different from other impressions on the same story. Plus, it’s always helpful for me to hear the readers take, so I owe Francene at Poetic License and Mandy at I Read Indie a big thank you for sharing their thoughts on their blogs (and for the praise, of course!) If there weren’t readers willing to take the time to post feedback, and I was left with a published novel and heard only crickets in response, I might start to wonder if somebody left a window open because I’m hearing crickets and I don’t want to be hearing crickets. No crickets, please!

Check out what these readers had to say:

http://francenecarroll13.blogspot.com/2012/07/celia-on-run.html#

http://twimom101bookblog.blogspot.com/

Posted in Review

Character Recycling

I was invited to do a guest blog post on Actin’ Up with Books and took the opportunity to write about “character recycling”, how I’ve been known to salvage good characters from less-that-perfect manuscripts of my past and try them out in a new setting because I just can’t leave them behind. Here’s the full article: http://actinupwithbooks.blogspot.com/

Character Recycling
I have two dirty secrets. Sometimes I forget to recycle bottles and cans, and sometimes I recycle characters from past stories I’ve written. There’s no excuse for the bottles and cans, but I believe recycling a character can be a good thing.
 It’s almost like an in-depth character study, a trial run. I’ve created a person, compiled quirks, traits, and preferences, then tried them out in a setting or scenario. I’ve had practice with that particular character and really liked them, but the story was sub par, and I hate to lose a good character just because I couldn’t come through on the manuscript. I’ve written about 10 manuscripts over the last 4 years, most of them unfinished junk, a few keepers, and so far, just one that’s made it through publication (with Untreed Reads), but I feel no shame in sharing with you that Nick Novaczek, the main character from my debut novel, Celia on the Run, was a shy but admirable kid that was originally from a novel I’ve since abandoned, which was called The Trampoline. The original story didn’t quite work, but the character did.
 Armed with a great character, one I knew very very well from writing him all the way through a previous manuscript, I tried him out in a new setting, cast him opposite a wild and reckless beauty named Celia, and put them in a sorta stolen car on their way across the country for completely different reasons. Bingo! Nick was made to hopelessly crush on an ungrateful girl like Celia, he was meant to overcome his fears and jump off a bridge (among other things), and he was ready to come-of-age on the road trip of a lifetime.
Now that Nick Novaczek is out in the world in my first published novel, that’s it, I would never dream of recycling him. As for the countless other characters in my unfinished / unpublished work, they’re likely to get revamped, re-matched, and probably renamed before I’m done with them!

 

 

Posted in On Writing

YA: On the Fringe of Adulthood, On the Fringe of a Genre

I was given the opportunity to write about a YA topic of my choice for a guest blog post on All-Consuming Media, and boy, I had so much to say. The whole genre classification thing is a bit limiting to me, and sub genres can get a little out there too, unless we’re talking SciFi. The books I tend to enjoy the most are the ones that don’t quite fit into any one genre, they’re the misfits on the bookshelf. On a multiple choice test, they’re “D. None of the Above”. If I had to put Celia on the Run in between two books on a bookshelf (imagine for a moment the ebook was a real book and please know I wouldn’t dream of comparing my writing to these awe-inspiring authors), I would put it in between In the Path of Falling Objects by Andrew Smith, and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.

I remember when I first began shopping my manuscript around in the summer of 2010, I purposefully left out the genre from my query letters because I was quite concerned with misleading anyone into thinking my writing was suitable for children. Celia on the Run is a story about young adults, and is appropriate for SOME young adults, but not all. I searched the web, looking for a simple tag for a not-so-simple book, and kept getting similar information, saying YA is classified as fiction FOR young adults or ABOUT young adults, so that’s the route I ended up going.

In the end, once I had finished writing the guest blog post for All-Consuming Media, I finally figured out how to describe the genre of my debut novel: It’s YA with a slap in the face.

Read the whole article here: http://tigersallconsumingbooks.blogspot.com/2012/07/guest-post-ya-on-fringe-of-adulthood-on.html

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