Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Site Redesign? I Think So!

So, as we all know, I am horribly, horribly lazy.

I ended up letting my domains, www.vivian-marie.com and www.thequestofdai.com, expire about a month ago. As luck would have it, I was still able to get the domains back (for a "nominal" fee), and now the site is back up! YAY!

However. That being said... I still prefer the flexibility Blogger offers in terms of layout and text. So until I get my book covers and back cover text fully baked and finalized, I'll be keeping those pages/links pointing here. Then I'll be updating the website and pointing the links there. (Right now the website points here!)

BUT--new feature you've got to check out! In the upper right hand corner of this blog is a link to a page called "Stories." (It's also featured on the website.) I'll be going through and posting some original stories, like I had up on the old site. Right now the only one up is the vaguely-dystopian one I wrote--and still would like to turn into a full-length book some day. But I plan on adding the stories that I love and could never turn into actual books (for reasons such as unbelievability, length, etc.). I haven't decided if I'll use FictionPress for this yet or not--some of them are way too long to post on one page. And I'm pretty sure they need an edit or two before they go up. But they are coming!

So! Let me know what you think of the new site! (And the story!)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Manga Monday! Boys Over Flowers

Title: Boys Over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango)
Author: Yoko Kamio
Price: $9.99/book
Books in series: 37 (37!!!!)
Get it at Amazon or wherever Viz is sold! (Or try to buy it boxed at eBay!)

Description (from Wikipedia, to give you more info): Makino Tsukushi, a working-class girl, attends an elite school called Eitoku Academy, populated by children and older youths from rich, high-society families. She is the "weed" of the school, surrounded by all the rich kids, including the "Flower Four" (F4). The F4 leader and son of the wealthiest, most powerful family in Japan, Domyouji Tsukasa, takes an interest in Tsukushi, because she is the only girl at Eitoku who does not fawn over him. However, his hot-headed nature and bullying ways are originally a major turn-off for Tsukushi, who has her sights set on someone else (Hanazawa Rui).

The violinist Hanazawa Rui, Tsukasa's best friend, becomes Tsukushi's first serious romantic interest. He is a quiet and cool guy, but he has a soft spot for his close friend and Tsukushi's idol, the model Todou Shizuka, whom he harbored feelings for since childhood. His character is a bit complex, and always has changing feelings for Tsukushi, but above all cares about her a lot.

Over the course of the series, however, Tsukushi's feelings evolve, and she begins to appreciate the degree of change that occurred in Tsukasa once he fell in love with her. He becomes fiercely loyal to Tsukushi and believes in her beyond all doubt, and slowly gets her to see him in a different light. The physical obstacles and emotional challenges of their rocky high-school courtship form the basis of the story. Other themes include Tsukushi's attempt to fit in at the school, the problems of her family's lifestyle and income, and the decadent lifestyle of upper-class Japanese girls.

Why you want this manga: It is the best-selling manga of all time in Japan. It's been adapted into 5 television series. It had its own anime. It even had a movie made! But mostly--because it's a love story full of twists and turns, likable characters you love and hate at various times, and plot twists aplenty! One minute you love Rui. Then you love Tsukasa. Then you love Rui. Then you love Tsukasa. Soon you're as confused as Makino, experiencing the agony with her as she tries to sort through her feelings for the two--all while still trying to deal with bills piling up, being in an elitist rich school she can't really afford to be in, and being harassed by members of the student body. Enemies become friends, friends become enemies, and no one is ever really all-bad in this epic tale of love and friendship.

And, if you like the manga, you absolutely have to check out the live Japanese adaptation. I'm not kidding. I have never, ever cried so much in my entire life. Ever. Ever. And at the end of the day, it was all worth it. (But don't watch the Japanese anime--it kinda sucks. Total opposite of Love Com--Lovely Complex!)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The 5W1H Rule

I've talked about this book before, but I think it's worth talking about again.

It's called Shoujo Manga Techniques - Writing the Story.

It details out, in explicit detail, as a writer, how to write a story. It's done in comic form, so if you like mangas, it's definitely worth checking out.

Chapter one begins with teaching (in a very entertaining way!) the 5W1H Rule. We know it as "Who, What, Where, Why, When, and How." They refer to these as "scenes," and teach you how to compile scenes into an entire story. (This is the most simplistic of their writing techniques.) They also give a nice little sentence about the questions you're answering, which I will share with you.

Who: Explain who your main character is.
When: When is the story happening? Morning, afternoon, night? Today, yesterday, a year ago?
Where: Where is the story taking place? Beside a building, inside a coffee shop, in a real world or a made up one?
Do What: What do the characters (main characters) do in the story.
Why: Why are the characters (main characters) doing this?
How did it go: Explain what happened due to the character's (main character's) actions.

I was thinking about this earlier today, and all the LJ communities out there for writing prompts. I've always loved pictures, especially of houses, gates, nature, etc., because those types of things inspire me.

So I decided to write and share a scene with all of you!

Step one: Went to LiveJournal. (You can use Google!)
Step two: Typed in, "prompts". (I started with "writing prompts" and didn't find anything I liked.)
Step three: Found a community that looked interesting. (You can use a website.)
Step four: Found a picture I liked. (Find one that suits your tastes!)
Step five: Post picture, begin thinking. (Or write the first idea that comes into your head, which is what I did!)

Who: A boy in love.
When: Early in the morning before school.
Where: On the girl's front porch.
Do What: Wrote her a note so she would see it when she went for a morning run.
Why: Because he wants to see her.
How Did It Go: She brought it inside and cried.

She opened her front door, letting the cool, brisk morning air wash over her, soothing her swollen eyes. She couldn't remember the last time she had cried so much. She had even fallen asleep with the tissue box in her arms, clinging to it instead of her favorite stuffed teddy bear.

She closed the door behind her, her sneaker colliding against something that went skidding along the porch. Startled, she looked down, following the trail from her foot to an object now-lying near the top of the stair, teetering precariously on the edge.

Her heart raced in her chest as she saw the dark blue notebook he always carried around with him, darting a quick look around to see if he was nearby, watching her. Seeing no one, she slowly crossed the few steps, kneeling down to retrieve the book. She gently pulled open the cover, cold from the hours outside, and flipped through all of the sketches he had so skillfully drawn on the white pages.

But why had he left her this? Why, after she had so stupidly opened her mouth and told him exactly what he didn't want to hear, did he leave her his most prized possession?

Her breath caught in her throat as the careful sketches turned into big blocked letters, inked in his familiar handwriting. Something you said, it said on one page, kept me up all night, it said on the other.

She felt tears well up in her eyes, looking around once more for him. But she was alone in the early morning hours, the street deserted except for the birds overheard and the neighbor's cat running along the grass. She slowly turned the page, her tears sliding down her cheeks as she read the next sentence. But I still love you.

She rushed back into the house, clutching the notebook to her. She ran up the stairs to her bedroom, hugging the notebook against her chest as she threw herself onto her bed.

And there she sobbed.


Now, I have no idea where I would take this... I probably wouldn't even really write it that way if I were writing a full story. But if I was going to, and I was struck with writer's block, I'd just go get a new picture and start all over again.

See how easy and cool that writing technique is? I highly recommend it if you're stumped for ideas (and stories!). I prefer pictures for this type of technique, but you can use any sort of prompt you want. You can even use Runaway_Tales prompts! ;)

Good luck, and happy writing!

P.S. Store these ideas ("scenes") in your idea journal! You'll thank me later!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Strapped For Ideas? Runaway_Tales Can Save You!

There is a LJ (LiveJournal) community that I love.

At Runaway_Tales, writers and readers from all genres and walks of life join the community, and pick a flavor bunny. (That's right--a bunny!) You can choose up to three at a time.

Within those flavors, and there are an insane amount of them, are prompts. Thousands and thousands of writing prompts, right at your fingertips.

The goal is simple--you use at least one prompt in every post for an original story. They also have "toppings" you can use, a way to spice-up your prompts. You don't need to use the prompts in order. You don't need to write the story in order. You just write the basis (idea) of your story in an intro post, introduce your characters, and start writing.

I wrote one story for this community a couple of years ago. I picked a flavor, and me-being-me, wrote the story from start-to-finish, reorganizing the prompts in my list in a way that made the story flow. (To this day, it remains one of my favorite "short" stories, and if I can figure out how, I might expand it into a novel. It's got a vague dystopian-feel to it.)

The nice thing about the community is that you don't get criticism unless you ask for it. One of the requests when you join is that you read other people's stories, and comment on them, just to aid the community feel and support your fellow writers. But there's no order to do so.

And did I mention the prompts? Lists and lists of ideas, right in front of you.

If you're not a member of LJ, you can still check it out. The community is open. And I highly recommend you give it a shot. Post your stories. Get feedback. Use the prompts provided. I can't tell you how many times I've used those prompts to get me through writer's block.

You won't be sorry.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why You Need an Editor - Part II

This morning I read an e-mail from the woman I now call my editor. (Yes, you're now my editor. There. I said it.)

I was feeling pretty good about The Eroe, all things considered... I was sure she would have some feedback about it, but all-in-all, I had tried to remember what she had told me about The Wrong Path, and tried to keep that in the back of my mind as I was redrafting The Eroe. So when I sent it to her, I was petrified (because as we all know, The Quest of Dai is my baby!), but I was also feeling pretty confident.

Imagine my surprise when I get an e-mail back from her, saying she really enjoyed the story--but the first twenty pages were dreadfully boring and had to go.

For a few minutes, I read and re-read the e-mail. I thought about what was in the first twenty pages. I thought about how much mythology I had prepped in those twenty pages. I thought about how important those twenty pages were not for the first book, really, but for the second and third. I thought about a lot of things in those few minutes.

And once the sting wore off (and it wasn't as bad as it was the last time I received editing feedback--apparently you really do get used to it!) I started thinking. And then I thought some more. And then I thought even more. And finally I text messaged my husband and said, "I don't know what the hell I'm going to do."

I finally called him during a slow period at work, and together we hashed out my editor's (there! I said it again!) feedback and what I could do to fix the problems. I couldn't really drop the whole storyline, I pointed out to my husband, but what was the point of having it if no one could even read through the twenty pages to get to the rest of the book?

So we chatted some more, which was mostly me talking and telling him what I couldn't do, and talking about how I had to have certain key scenes, and while sure, I could tighten this or that up, I just couldn't lose--

"But maybe I could..." I started excitedly, quickly rambling off the idea to my husband. And then, even more excited, I said, "Or what if I...?"

"That would work," he assured me enthusiastically.

"That's so great!" I caroled. I could almost feel my eyes shining. "It would be so exciting to start out this way. And then I could move it into this scene, and tighten up the scene!"

He laughed, and told me they were all great ideas. (He's such a good husband.) I quickly went back to work and wrote my editor an e-mail. I thanked her for her feedback and telling me exactly what I needed to hear, and then asked what I thought was a rather crucial question: "Where was it that you thought it started to pick up?"

Her answer, I'm not going to lie, caught me completely by surprise.

Later, as I was driving home to work, I mused over this with my husband. "She said it didn't pick up until there," I said thoughtfully. "But there are a lot of scenes before that one that are really important. I can't really take those out without ruining the story. I could tighten them up," I continued, thinking back on her feedback. "If I tighten up the scenes, and then--OH!" I gaped at the back of the car in front of me. "I could add in another scene in there, which would add a little more interest like she was talking about, and give a little more background."

"That sounds good," he told me, laughing.

"This is great!" I declared cheerfully, ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get home to work on the manuscript.

(Of course, it should be noted here that I'm currently in the middle of another WIP, and I'm currently monitoring work for a giant launch we're doing today. So sadly, not the best day to try working on editing a manuscript.)

That being said--you need an editor. You need someone to bounce ideas off of. You need someone who cares about you enough to be brutally honest in their feedback--because it's really just got the end-goal of making your story better. I never, ever would have considered ripping out the first twenty pages of my book until today. It had never occurred to me they were boring. I was using them to set a scene--to showcase the difference between Dai in her world and Dai in the new world. And, of course, to introduce the reader to some stuff they wouldn't realize was important until later.

But hearing it from another point of view, I get it. I see what I can do differently. I see a way to improve. And I guarantee, if you let an editor have their hands on your manuscript, you will, too.

Trust me--you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Manga Monday!

...even though it's Tuesday. I know. I know. My schedule is all outta sorts. Sorry!!

I should be working on my latest story, but instead I bring you my latest choice in manga that you should be reading!

Title: Love Com (Lovely Complex)
Author: Aya Nakahara
Price: $8.99/book (17!!! volumes)
Get it at Amazon.com or bookstores where you can buy Viz manga!

Description: Risa Koizumi is the tallest girl in class, and the last thing she wants is the humiliation of standing next to Atsushi Otoni, the shortest guy. Fate and the whole school have other ideas, and the two find themselves cast as the unwilling stars of a bizarre romantic comedy duo. Rather than bow to the inevitable, Risa and Atsushi join forces to pursue their true objects of affection. But in the quest for love, will their budding friendship become something more complex?

Why you must own this manga: Because it is the best. manga. ever. Seriously!!! Okay, I know I say that about all the mangas I feature, but this manga will make you laugh out loud--and who laughs out loud when they're reading a book, seriously?--cry, and it will literally make your heart ache in ways you didn't even know it could. Those budding first feelings of love make you wish to be a teenager all over again despite everything you went through, just to see if you could have a romance this perfect--and this perfectly horrible. THIS IS NO TYPICAL SHOUJO MANGA HERE, GUYS! I'm not saying it's not shoujo, 'cause, it is in the biggest way possible. It's all about the relationships and romance between the characters. But these are not your typical characters. You'll find yourself desperately flipping to the next page to find out if the character pulls through in the end, because your heart just won't be able to take anymore. I can't recommend this enough.

Incidentally, if you pick this up and enjoy it (and you will if you do!), there's an anime. And it is JUST AS GOOD. But avoid the live action adaptation. It's painful.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Working Backwards

So, I recently discovered that in writing, I work best when I work backwards.

I started working on a story, and I started at the beginning, and I floundered (a LOT) trying to figure out where I was going to go with it. I wrote a few paragraphs and stopped. I wrote a few more, and then stopped. I stared at my screen. I surfed the internet. I tried to write a few paragraphs. I deleted everything I had written.

The next day, I was driving to work, talking to my husband on my phone, and breaking story with him.

"I just don't know what to do," I complained unhappily. "I don't know where to take it."

"What about this?" he suggested, giving me a plot idea.

"That's a really good idea!" I agreed enthusiastically, eager to get home and start writing. But that night, I wrote one page and stopped again. Unhappy, the next morning we were again on our way to work and I was once again complaining about my writer's block.

"I'm just not that excited about it," I complained. "I really like the plot and the idea, but I just... I'm just not sure what to do with it." I sighed. "I think I work best when I work backwards. Like with The Quest of Dai. I already knew how that was going to end. So I had the plot and the ending, and I just had to figure out how to get to the end with the plot I had in place."

And then I paused, staring out my windshield. "That's it," I breathed. "I just need to figure out the ending to my story!"

My husband laughed. "I'm pretty sure that's what you said the last time this happened, too," he teased.

"Shut up," I retorted. Then we went on working on the end of the story together.

That night, when I got home, I sat down at my computer and opened a Notepad, quickly typing out a couple of lines about how the story was going to end. Not a lot--just a few lines. (If I draft too much, I lose interest. It's as much of a discovery for me as the reader when I write.) Then I went to my Word doc and began writing with renewed zeal.

Does anyone else find it's easier to have the beginning and the end, and then fill in the middle? Or is it easiest to just start at the beginning and work your way toward the end? (Or are you one of those outliner-types? I really wish I could outline. Would save me a lot of re-writes later...)

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Has anyone else ever heard of FictionPress?

I was posting my latest story to ff.net recently and I saw this listing for FictionPress.com. It was really more of a warning: "Fanfiction.net is for fanfiction only--original stories should be posted at our sister site, FictionPress.com," or something like that.

Curious, I went to check out this FictionPress site. I don't know if I can say I was super impressed with any of the writing there, but it got me thinking... Are there any other sites out there that allow you to post chapter-by-chapter stories/books?

If so, I think I'd kinda dig that. It's one reason I enjoyed the Runaway_Tales LiveJournal Community so much. (Plus, all the prompts. And the bunnies. God I love those bunnies.) My only problem is I'm so particular in the type of stuff I like to read, I didn't like not commenting on other people's stuff but I didn't really want to read anything not-of-my-interest, either.

I know of booksie and scribd, but both of those are for completed books. And Smashwords, but again, for completed books. I've got some works that will likely never get published (they're just not strong enough/not long enough/not realistic enough) but that doesn't mean I don't want to share them.

I did a quick search, but came up empty. Any ideas?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Moving... Where?!

After a long day at work that started with a meeting at 8:00 that went all the way until 5:00 when I finally signed off so I could head to a work/team-party-happy hour for a couple of hours, I finally got home at around 7:30. I was tired. My feet hurt. I was itching to get out of my work clothes. I wanted to get on my computer and check my e-mail.

And en-route to the computer room, my phone rings. I groaned inwardly, trudging back to the hallway where my phone was, and saw it was my sister.

"Hey," I greeted her, trying to mask the exhaustion in my voice.

"Hi," she greeted back. "You're--are you--hey, um... So you know... Do you have a minute?"

I paused at the flustered, halted words, uneasily sinking into my computer chair. "Sure," I agreed slowly. "What's up?"

"Well," she began, in her quick, excited ramble. "You know I'm in Juno, right?"

Of course I knew she was in Juno. She had been terribly excited about being flown out to Alaska for a job interview all throughout brunch on Sunday. "Yes," I agreed. "For your job interview, right?"

"Right!" she confirmed eagerly, as if relieved I had remembered. She went on quickly. "They offered me the job!" She proceeded to tell me, without barely pausing for breath and in a shaking voice that made me wonder if she was hyperventilating and going to pass out in the airport, that they had offered her more than she had expected in pay, had offered to pay her moving expenses, were offering her a house to live in for a few months while she found somewhere to live, and oh-by-the-way, they wanted her to start tomorrow. "And I just don't know what to do," she finished, her voice trembling and quivering with emotion. "I just... I just don't..." She laughed, almost hysterically. "I don't know what to do."

I stared at my computer screen, wide-eyed, taking deep breaths as if to compensate for the ones she wasn't taking. "Well," I began slowly, "start packing?"

She laughed, a mixture of amusement and horror echoing through the phone at me. I blinked at my screen, trying to figure out what to do. Trying to channel my father, who had always sat there silent and calm, a steady rock whenever I had approached him in emotional states.

"I told them I couldn't commit to anything," she told me, her voice still shaking. "It's... It's so far away. And... it's all happening so fast. I just... I don't know what to do."

I must have heard, "I don't know what to do," at least fifteen times in our ten-fifteen minute conversation.

She eventually hung up to board her plane, and I turned to fill my husband in on the most recent turn of events. I then called home to check on my parents and make sure my mom, who is exceptionally close with my sister, was okay. (She was.)

So, there you go. My sister, who never believed she would ever get the job, and who always dreamed of living in Alaska, has killed two birds with one stone and achieved the impossible on two accounts.

And I say, good for you, dear sister. Congratulations!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Eye Surgery - Take Two!

A few years back I had a DCR--that's a fancy way of saying I had a blocked tear duct, and it caused my right eye to look like I was in a constant state of emotional turmoil. Tears streamed from it continuously. I carried a tissue with me wherever I went, and if I had been foolish enough to put on makeup in the morning, in the evening my left eye would be lined and shadowed, and my right eye as bare as it had been when I'd woken up that morning.

So I'd undergone surgery, and I blogged extensively about it and my recovery (complete with my incredibly attractive post-surgery photos!) on my DCR blog. I was only supposed to have the plastic tube in my eye, called a stint if you want to sound really fancy, for a few months, no more than six, but being the lazy person that I am, I left it in for nearly a year.

For months, I was blissfully tear and stint free. I still had, and have, a scar from the surgery (though the doctor promised it wouldn't scar...), and I was comforted in the knowledge the chances of my eye ever tearing up again were minimal at best. "And if it does ever happen again," the doctor assured me, "you just come back to see me and it's a really easy procedure to fix it."

Sweet, I thought, happily skipping on my merry little way. Procedures were easy. I'd had several "procedures" for the blocked tear duct before I'd finally had to undergo the knife. They had pumped me full of drugs, then stuck a long needle in my eye and forced saline solution through my tear ducts to "clear the blockage." (How attractive does that sound? You can imagine how much I love having to tell people in real life about this...)

So when a couple of months ago, my eye started watering more than normal, I told myself, It's just your imagination. Don't worry about it. Then, as the watering got worse, I thought, It'll go away. Relax. Then, when it didn't stop and I ended up crying off all of my right eye makeup one night while out with friends, I stared unhappily at myself in the mirror and my odd-looking face and grimly realized, It's happening again.

I called the doctor and made an appointment to see him. My eye had stopped tearing as much, and I thought, It's not so bad. It's just a procedure. In and out.

The doctor gently slid a freakishly long blunt needle down my tear-duct (and let me tell you, there's nothing quite like having a long, flexible, freakishly long needle sticking out of you RIGHT NEXT TO YOUR EYE) and depressed on the syringe to squirt water into the duct.

It shot right back out at him.

"Okay," he said to me, rather cheerfully. He pulled the syringe out of my eye and tossed it away, going to his table to start scribbling in his folder. "Sometimes what happens is people heal too well after the DCR. The hole that we made in your nose closed up. So it's a really simple surgery--we do it downstairs--and we go in through your nose with a tiny little camera--it's very high tech--and a really little needle, and we open it back up. Then we put in some anti-scarring stuff, and you're good to go. It's called a CDCR."

I stared at him, sickened horror coming over me. Not a simple procedure. Back downstairs, where they do their surgeries. Not a quick in-and-out thing. They were going to put me under again. Knock me out.


But, I thought, resigned, at least they weren't going to cut me open again. So I nodded and headed out.

Over the next week, a dull, throbbing pain started to develop in the small space between my inner eye and my nose. Right over my tear duct. At first I thought I had been pressing it too much, but the pain increased every day.

Then the pain in my nose started.

When I had woken up from surgery after the DCR, I remember pressing my finger against the right side of my nose, a throbbing pressure concentrated in one tiny spot that seemed to bleed into the surrounding area making my entire face hurt. The nurse told me I was pressing right where they had drilled into my cartilage. Over the next few days, the pain had only gotten worse, and I'd actually had to go back because the pain had spread to the side of my face and my temple and even into the back of my head.

And this was the exact same pain.

I wondered if I had ruptured something. If I had another tear stone (yes, apparently I had a tear stone in my duct when he opened me up). I wondered if somehow, the new canal he had made had gotten torn apart.

But as the days wore on and the pressure and pain became more intense, and just moving my eye or making facial gestures hurt, I realized it wasn't anything so simple. The while of my eye, when I looked to my right, exposing the area usually hidden by my tear duct, was blood shot and red, horribly irritated and inflamed. The pressure on my nose and on my eye was starting to become excrutiating.

I had an infection.

When I called the doctor to tell him about it, nearly in tears, to my dismay they weren't as surprised as I had hoped they would be by my symptoms. They called in a prescription of painkillers and antibiotic eyedrops (yes, they're putting eyedrops into an eye that won't stop pouring liquid--go figure) and my loving husband went and picked them up for me today. I have an appointment to see the doctor on Tuesday.

Hopefully this just means they'll schedule my surgery sooner...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TBR List!

It's that time again! I even created a page for it since there are SO MANY on my list. (You can see it up above, under "Book Finds!") It's the TBR List!

I recently (as in, yesterday!) discovered this website, called Book Blogs. It's a big community of book bloggers wanting to share their blogs with everyone else. So I was clicking around in the YA forum, and I found some bloggers who seemed like they would be interesting, nice people. And what did I find? Books to read!!

(I should say here I was trying to limit my "Book Finds!" page to Indie reads, for purely selfish reasons, so these will not be going on the "Book Finds!" page. But I will add a TBR tag to the TBR posts in case you ever want to find these books again. 'cause I know you're just dying to remember what I put on my TBR list...)

Our first two books were found at mysteriousbooks.

Title:  Possession
Author: Elana Johnson

Description: Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Thoughts: I love dystopian novels. I don't know what it is about them. Something about the world as it could be? And this just looks too fascinating to pass up. Almost like a cross between our history (girls are to be seen and not heard, and don't even think about touching boys?) and what might have happened if we hadn't shifted the pendulum the other way. Too bad it doesn't come out until June. Good thing June is just around the corner.


Title: Hereafter
Author: Tara Hudson

Description:  Can there truly be love after death?

Drifting in the dark waters of a mysterious river, the only thing Amelia knows for sure is that she's dead. With no recollection of her past life—or her actual death—she's trapped alone in a nightmarish existence. All of this changes when she tries to rescue a boy, Joshua, from drowning in her river. As a ghost, she can do nothing but will him to live. Yet in an unforgettable moment of connection, she helps him survive.

Amelia and Joshua grow ever closer as they begin to uncover the strange circumstances of her death and the secrets of the dark river that held her captive for so long. But even while they struggle to keep their bond hidden from the living world, a frightening spirit named Eli is doing everything in his power to destroy their newfound happiness and drag Amelia back into the ghost world . . . forever.

Thrilling and evocative, with moments of pure pleasure, Hereafter is a sensation you won't want to miss.

Thoughts: It's a love story. I love a good love story. And the opening sentence really caught my eye. Then the girl knowing she's dead but not knowing anything about herself sounded refreshing and intriguing to me. So I knew I had to pick this up. Just keep telling yourself: June is coming. June is coming. June is coming...


Our next book was discovered over at Curled Up with Books. I initially started skimming by the book, but then I saw the review she had posted about it. She wrote, "Love is a disease?! Creative. Interesting." I was hooked immediately and scrolled right back up to see what the book was all about. Now I have to have it. Now.

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver

Description: Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Why I Picked It Up: Dystopian. I must be in the mood. But seriously... Tell me this book doesn't sound incredible! Love as a disease? Really? How original is that? Plus--love story. I have to read this.


This one I found over at Bonnie Lamer's blog.

Title: Shelter (Blood Haze: Book One)
Author: Tara Shuler

Description: Two guys, one girl, and two dark secrets that threaten to tear her world apart.

Alice Wright is a young vampire going to high school for the first time at the age of seventeen at the behest of her eccentric mother. In many ways, she's more afraid of the human students than they would be of her.

She feels lost and awkward in human society, but she soon develops a strong bond with the cousin of one of her human classmates, nineteen year old Kai. He is beautiful, but somewhat of an enigma. She discovers a dark secret in Kai's life, and she instantly wants to shelter him from the pain that has tormented him all his life.

Then she meets Maksim Augustine, the incredibly gorgeous guy who seems more like he should be a model than a high school student. She is overwhelmingly attracted to him physically, but her love for Kai causes her to continually push him away. Eventually, she discovers a frightening secret about Max, too.

But Max's secret threatens to destroy everything...

Why I Picked It Up: I love vampires. I know, I know. But I do. And I love the name Kai, 'cause I totally used it in one of my stories. And I find the idea of a vampire afraid of humans intriguing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Quest of Dai: The Eroe - NEW COVER and Blurb!

When I first wrote The Quest of Dai: The Eroe and was preparing to publish it, Outskirts Press gave me access to this gigantic website with thousands and thousands of photos, and told me, "Pick one for your cover." There were standard template layouts, and thinking they would have a flat background color with an image set in the middle, I chose a photo of trees (after all, a good deal of the story was her journey through the forest).

Now, I didn't just pick any photo of trees in a forest... I poured over those photos for hours. I compared one to another. I critiqued the lighting on one. I agonized over the ground on another. I studied every detail of those photos. And then I found the perfect shot and said, "Yes. This is it."

When I saw the cover, I squealed in excitement. To say I loved it would be an understatement. And yet, unfortunately, it turns out I was the only one who felt that way about the cover. "It's kinda boring," I was told, and, "It doesn't really stand out."

I was crushed. Especially since I was stuck with it. But with the addition of Kindle and epubbing, that's not the case anymore! Now I have a new cover, at least for the ebook version, and I'm going to unveil it here!

As for the blurb... Well, I'm still tweaking it, but if you happen to want to offer any suggestions, I'm willing to listen!

To return home, she just has to end a war…

The ancient prophecies foretold of her coming. A girl not of their world. A girl who would save them all. A girl blessed by Ai. The oracle says Dai Gold is that girl.

Determined to return home, Dai will do whatever it takes to defeat the sinister darkness she knows as the Malo and help her new friends, the Eroe. But the longer Dai is in their world, the more she finds herself falling in love with it… and with one of the Eroe. Westly Dante is cold, dangerous, and fiercely protective of Dai. And when the Malo attack, taking the Eroe with them, he is all Dai has left.

In this strange new world, Dai discovers more than her destiny. She discovers her past.

And just how twisted the threads of fate are.


So... thoughts? Suggestions? Feedback?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Manga Monday! MARS

Title: MARS
Author: Fuyumi Soryo
Available: Amazon and other retailers carrying Tokyopop
Price: $9.99 per book--and there are 15 in the series (with an extra book I don't recommend called Horse With No Name).

Description: Popular Rei and shy Kira are worlds apart, until one fateful day brings them together. Rei stumbles upon Kira in the harassing hands of her sleazy art teacher and saves the quiet girl from his clutches. And when the jock plants a kiss on a statue of Mars in the studio, Kira finds herself drawn in and even summons up the nerve to ask him to model for her but problems already lurk on the horizon. Vicious upperclassman Harumi has had her sights set on Rei for a long time, and is not about to let go now. One of the most popular teen girl manga series in Japan, Mars is a drama that will meet the demand of the growing female comic-reading market.

My thoughts: I don't remember why I picked this book up all those years ago. I actually think it might have been my sister who did and let me read the first five or ten she had. This was the first manga by Tokyopop I ever picked up. But five (or was it ten?) books in, I knew I had to get the rest. I immediately drove to the store and bought the rest of the series. Needless to say--it's absolutely one of my favorites of all time. Rei is a playboy and a little overwhelming at times, and Kira is so painfully shy it's almost hard to relate to her at times, and yet despite it all, you can't help but love these characters. You can't help love watching them grow as individuals and as a couple. You cheer for Rei, you cheer for Kira, and you suffer and cry with them when Rei's twisted, dark past catches up with them and threatens to tear them apart. It's a compelling, at times dark, read, but it's absolutely worth it. I can't recommend the series enough! So go get it!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Volunteer Editors!

Okay, so, I think I'm finally ready to part with The Quest of Dai: The Eroe. I say that because I just read the whole thing (again!) and changed about twenty words in the entire document. Maybe that's me being lazy, but I'm kind of hoping it means it's just done.

Now, I was tempted to e-mail the two lovely ladies who edited The Wrong Path for me, because they were INSANELY HELPFUL on The Wrong Path, but I thought that would be presumptuous. So instead I'm just going to post a blog about asking for a volunteer.

Note: Even if you read the book before, I'll tell you--the main plot is the same. The rest of it? Not so much.

So... any takers? Send an e-mail or leave a comment! vivianmarieaubinduparis at gmail dot com!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Life: Overwhelming!

An update! No, I haven't forgotten about my blog. Life just got a little crazy. But rather than bore you with the details (because really, who cares?) I thought I'd just give you some updates! :)

  • We still don't have a couch. I know. I find it hard to be true, too. But we don't.
  • For Mother's Day, we made seven--SEVEN--dishes. Including cinnamon-roll french toast, farmhouse hash, and coffee cake. (It was a full day in the kitchen. Holy cow...)
  • The Quest of Dai: The Eroe is still in revision. That's why The Wrong Path, which is fully complete, isn't out. I know, I suck. But I can't release one without the other, can I?
  • My job wants us to work for the next two weeks straight, and over Memorial Day Weekend. UGH.
  • I need to go back in for eye surgery. It's a follow-up post-op to my surgery over a year ago. Apparently I'm one of the lucky few who "healed too well" and now I need to go back in. Awesome. Don't know when it's supposed to be yet, though.
  • Two words: DELENA KISS. Not as exciting as I had hoped (c'mon, we ALL knew it was coming, didn't we?) but it was still there. Elena still kissed Damon. And he thanked her. It was emotional. But I'll admit--I melted more at the beginning of the episode when he asked for her forgiveness and accepted that she couldn't forgive him just yet, even though he was dying. And I was pretty stoked Katherine showed up with his cure, too. Good for her!
  • I started playing WoW again after taking a super long break to write all those months ago. (Part of why my blog hasn't been updated much...) My main is now pretty much raid-ready, and my alt is on its way. WHOO!
  • Don't let the Safeway grocery delivery pick out vegetables for you. And be cautious what meat you ask them to get, too. I had a steak show up with brown spots and carrots show up with giant gashes in them. *sigh* But my yellow and green onions were totally fine. My celery was a little brown. My ground beef was perfect. (I should note this is the only way we get groceries now.)
  • I haven't touched my TBR list. At all. I really, really suck.
  • Every day this week I have gotten 12 hours of sleep per night except one. I don't know if I'm fighting off a cold or just super tired after work. Maybe a little bit of both. But it's been wake up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and repeat. Lame!

So... Any updates you guys want to share with me?