Favorite Things Friday 09.12.14

Hey y’all! Hope you’ve had a nice week! Mine has been pretty exhausting. Haha. I’m really sore and drained from school work, but hopefully I’ll have a crafty weekend. Here’s what has brightened my week:

1. Bunch o Balloons 

These are so cool!! Check it out – the kickstarter got almost 93 TIMES THE ORIGINAL GOAL OF 10,000! That’s right, they were funded almost a million dollars!! These things are going to be so fun for family events, barbeques, school field days, etc. I can’t wait for them to come out in stores!

2. BOOK FABRIC!

I’ll just let you browse the awesome selection of fabric designed by everyday people. To see some of my favorite designs, check out the Pinterest board dedicated to them.

3. Back Massages

While I greatly need one, that doesn’t mean I get one. Imagining a freshly un-knotted back makes me feel a bit better though.

4. Improved Diet

I’ve started eating and snacking better this week, and it’s really helped me feel better. One night, I got McDonalds and after the meal, I immediately wished I’d just eaten a salad and sandwich at home. I’m trying to remember that feeling any time I start to crave fast food.

5. Making Paper Boxes

Poodles on YouTube makes my favorite craft tutorials. She’s so adorable and I love listening to her chatter while showing how to make something SO cute and easy. Also, next summer I totally want to be a Stampin’ Up! demonstrator!!

What has made you smile this week? Let me know in the comments!!

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What’s Up Wednesday 09.10.14

Hey y’all! What have you been up to lately? I’ve been crafting like crazy! I’ve decided to participate in a craft fair, and there are so many things I want to do I’m having a hard time getting anything else done. But at least today I finished my history for the week, so that’s something!

Just a few minutes ago, I fell in love with this adorable web series, The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy. Anyone who knows me is quite aware of my complete adoration of Peter Pan. I want all the adaptations and spin-offs in existence! This one shares the producer of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, another favorite of mine! Hopefully this series goes on for quite a while.

I’ve also hit a road block in my HP reread. I’m in GoF and can’t seem to find the energy to continue. I mean, when I do read I get sucked in, but I’ve been approved for other things I need to read and review, so it’s not my top priority. Also, Sis wants me to finish the Divergent series so we can talk about it. She’s just started the first book. It may be the kick in the pants I’ve needed to finish the last two.

In exciting news, I got a different review posted on Amazon and Goodreads in time to win a $5.00 Amazon gift card! I will also be doing an interview with the author that sponsored the giveaway, so look for that and the review soon!

My healthier eating quest is continuing, and hopefully I’ll be adding some exercise into the mix soon. With PSL season upon us, I need to do something to burn those calories. Luckily I don’t live near a Starbucks, so they’re a rare treat.

School is going well, but I really really miss my San Angelo family.

What’s going on in your life? Sound off in the comments!

 

Interview With Matthew Beier!

Today I am so incredibly excited to share an interview with the wonderful Matthew Beier. You may know him from his previous book, The Breeders. But his newest adventure is a delightful blend of YA/Adult/Middle Grade Lit. It sounds amazing, and it’s called The Confessions of Jonathan Flite. Let’s check out the synopsis.

Cover Image - The Confessions of Jonathan Flite (1)

Jonathan Flite claims to have memories he can’t explain. Seven layers of them, to be exact, all belonging to a group of teenagers who disappeared from a place called Idle County in 2010-ten years before his birth. Seventeen years of anxiety, violent outbursts, and refusal to admit he is lying have landed him at Crescent Rehabilitation Center, a seaside juvenile center for rich kids, and nobody has ever dared to believe his memories might be real.

 
Until now. On a blustery November day just three months after a nuclear terrorist attack in Geneva, Switzerland, ex-CIA psychiatrist Thomas Lumen arrives at Crescent to interview Jonathan for a book about Idle County. Fueled by his personal connection to the disappearances three decades earlier, he asks Jonathan to share what he knows-anything and everything. By reigniting this thirty-year-old mystery, however, Jonathan inadvertently becomes a target of the very same religious terrorists who attacked Geneva, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the secrets of Idle County under wraps. Jonathan must then make a choice: to continue telling his story, or risk the safety of everyone he loves.
 
Doesn’t that sound so good?! I can’t wait to read it! I had a lot of fun getting to know Matthew (a fellow Harry Potter fan, what’s not to love?) and now I’m so excited to share this interview with y’all!
 
Matthew J. Beier - Author Photo (1)
 
Matthew J. Beier is a novelist, screenwriter, photographer, and graphic designer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His first novel, The Breeders, was published in 2012. He attended film school at Chapman University in 2003, where he studied screenwriting, film production, and English before spending a final semester abroad at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. When Matthew isn’t working, he enjoys tea, exercise, watching films, and spending time with his friends and family. He is currently hard at work on Book 2 of his Jonathan Flite Series, “The Release of Jonathan Flite.” He would love to hear from you at matt@matthewbeier.com, on his Facebook author page, or on Twitter @MatthewBeier.
 

1. The Confessions of Jonathan Flite is the first book in a series of seven. What drew you to writing series fiction, and why seven books?

I’m a huge fan of J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Suzanne Collins, and Stephen King. The Harry Potter series single handedly showed me how a big, epic, multi-book story could offer insight into the human condition and strike a chord with readers around the globe. The twelve or so years that I was reading those books and seeing them come alive on the big screen–and celebrating every time there was a new installment–gave me some of the best memories of my life. Whether it was reading alone in the middle of the night in a fit of sobs or attending movie premieres with my little sister and closest friends, it changed me forever. To invest in a story long-term and see an author’s vision unfold is a magical thing to me. I decided early on that Jonathan Flite would be a series of seven books, because to me it was a perfect number. A trilogy would have been too short, and eight or more would have been overkill. Also, each Jonathan Flite book will follow one of seven vanished teenagers whose memories Jonathan claims to have.

2. This first book in the Jonathan Flite series introduces a huge story–many threads, many characters, and many plot points of global consequence. Are you just winging it, or have you plotted out every aspect of this story?

I’ve had aspects of this series figured out for almost ten years, and they’ve basically been biding their time in my head until now. Other aspects of the series I figured out within the last four or five years. Seeing as this story takes place over a span of time frames, I’ve really had to figure out the “past” stuff (that being the story of the Idle County Seven, the teenagers who disappeared in 2010), and I do have much of the Jonathan-Flite-side stuff generally figured out. That said, my decision to structure and narrate the books the way I have (that is, outside the head of my title character) has freed me up to let that aspect of the story grow and evolve if need be. Part of the joy of writing is having spontaneous, unexpected story elements bloom out of nowhere. It definitely happened with Book 1. So, I guess you could say I have the series basically plotted out, but I have many options about angles from which to write.

3. The Confessions of Jonathan Flite introduces a big mystery whose answers won’t be fully explored until all seven books are finished. Do you think that will affect your readership?

I love big, multi-layered stories, whether in books or on television. I love when writers plant things early on and don’t necessarily answer them for two, three, four, or five books or seasons. There’s nothing more satisfying to me, storywise, than experiencing this and knowing that the writers actually knew what they were doing from the get-go. I’ve tried my best to make Jonathan Flite this type of series, but I also plan to give every book its own plot and character arcs so that it stands on its own, at least enough to feel like a solid installment of a much bigger whole. I purposefully left some of the bigger aspects of the story open-ended, because they will be addressed in the next six books. It might be risky to do it this way, but I have a very specific vision for this series. I’m writing it with the mindset that, when all is said and done, readers will read Books 1-7 all in succession, and hopefully they’ll see what I was doing from the get-go.

4. You also created the art in this book, including the interior and dust jacket designs. Why did you choose to do the design work as well?

As I said, I’ve had a very specific vision for this book since the very beginning. Even before I knew its structure, I knew how I wanted it to feel as a finished book on my bookshelf–which meant going into my imagination and imagining what exact design elements might eventually spark that feeling for me down the line. It was a very fun process, and because I’m a photographer and sometimes-designer, I had all the tools to take the reins. That type of control extended the creative process, because it allowed me to shape the entire product, not just the story.

5. What do you like to read, and who are your favorite authors? Which author has influenced you the most?

My favorite authors are ones who have made me physically react to their words, whether in fear or exhilaration or joy or sorrow or whathaveyou. In terms of fiction, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are the obvious ones, and they have probably influenced me more than any other writers. I also love Barbara Kingsolver, Kazuo Ishiguro, Suzanne Collins, Ayn Rand, Philip Pullman, Gregory Maguire, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Strout, and Anne Marie MacDonald. As for nonfiction, I love Brian Greene, Jane Roberts (and her Seth material), and Brian Weiss. Heck, I was even giddy with excitement while reading The FBI Career Guide by Joseph W. Koletar. I think part of me still wants to be an FBI agent.

6. Since The Confessions of Jonathan Flite (and presumably the whole series) never gets inside of its title character’s head, can you give us any tantalizing insight into his character that readers won’t see in the book?

This is a tricky question, because all characterization should appear in the book, shouldn’t it? But I purposefully chose to take this approach, because it made Jonathan a far more interesting factor in the story–that we didn’t know everything that was going on in his head. For instance, in the beginning of the story, when he is just thirteen years old, he kills his nurse, Ellen Graber, by strangling her. Ellen, whose point of view the scene is told from, hears Jonathan whispering his reason for snapping, and she senses even while dying under his headlock that he is still a good person. Some might still see Jonathan as cold-blooded, but to me, he is extremely psychologically disturbed, because he has spent his entire life living with harrowing (and some truly disturbing) memories of these seven teenagers, from their childhoods right up until their untimely ends. He has also been raised under the pressure of being labeled “crazy” by his mother and psychiatrists. When he snaps in the beginning of the book and strangles Ellen Graber, it’s an act of desperation–he wants so badly for somebody to believe him about the things he knows about the nature of life, due to the memories he has in his head. At that moment, however, he is completely hopeless that his burden will ever mean anything. He snaps, pulling his nurse into a half-hug, half-strangle. The strangle wins out, and Jonathan is suddenly a murderer. As the book goes on, he has truly repented for his actions, and we get a glimpse into his true nature: that he cares about those around him, and he never again wants to succumb to his own desperation.

7. What was the first book you remember reading? Have you always been a reader?

I remember most of my life back until mid-age-two, so I can tell you exactly what book I first read. It was The Boxcar Children #21: The Deserted Library Mystery. I was homeschooled from first through fourth grade, and I learned to read using a big, red phonics book. I was old for my grade, because my parents held me back a year before kindergarten due to my shyness. Compared to other kids, I learned to read a bit late–at age seven. Once I finally grasped the whole phonics thing, I dove right into that Boxcar children book, and then the whole series. From there I progressed to Encyclopedia Brown, Beverly Cleary, Goosebumps, and Bruce Coville. The summer before fourth grade, I read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, which was my first grown-up book, and that was it. I fell in love with fiction and the effect it could have on readers, and I never looked back.

8. If you could tell your potential readers only one thing about The Confessions of Jonathan Flite, what would that be?

This is a tough question and probably a far more personal one than you intended. This book took more work and energy out of me than anything else I have ever done, and the bittersweet thing is that most of it will probably be invisible to readers. I’ve struggled heavily with depression since I was a kid, and the development of this book actually tested me on many levels relating to this. Apart from the general self-doubt every creative person probably feels, my research for this book required me to really, truly address the value of my own life, as measured against what we humans really know about the universe. Was there a point to it, or was it all just a random? If life was random, then what was the point of living it? All of this dovetailed with other personal things I had going on, and there were points when I seriously considered calling it quits. Yet . . . The Confessions of Jonathan Flite and all the work it entailed ultimately ended up being a self-made antidote of sorts for my depression, or perhaps a self-realized tool for finding meaning in my life. The story itself reflects that sort of hope in spots, and I think releasing the book is a symbolic step for me–as in, “Yep, I’m choosing to tackle life head-on.” Readers may see bits and pieces of this reflected in the story, but to them, it’s simply going to be a book. Even so, they may be interested to know just how essential and transformative the experience of writing The Confessions of Jonathan Flite was for me. It basically kicked my ass and helped me embrace whatever uniqueness I have to offer the world.

Wow. I was completely blown away by how much thought and care he took when answering. I am so excited about this series and ready to see more from this author.

Let know how in the comments: Have you read any of Matthew Beier’s work? What did you think? Are you excited to start this new series? Do you have anything to say in reference to the interview questions?

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Make It Happen Monday 09.08.14

Happy new week everyone! I hope it’s been a great and relaxing weekend fo y’all so you’re ready to get back to work! I’ve had a very productive weekend (made much easier by the fact that I now have a three day weekend every week! Have I mentioned I love working at the bookstore?  l love working at the bookstore.) Let’s see how I fared with last week’s list:

1. Get hanging board finished
2. Finish GoF
3. Finish OotP
4. Paint HP characters
5. Decorate and hang new mirror
6. Finish potions cabinet
7. Get all schoolwork done

8. Jump rope three times this week   {  1    2    3  }
9. Prepare bridal shower gift
10. Put away all laundry
11. Change wall letters
12. Decorate catch-all tray

I only got two other things done, but that was because I decided to participate in a craft fair!! I’m super excited and I’ve been working on it all week and weekend. I mean, look at the state of my room mid-crafting, before I cleaned and organized today.

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I know!! Terrible. I couldn’t stand it. So I broke out my rainbow cart and got all my projects sorted into drawers, so now it looks so much better! See?

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Ahh, I can breath again! Now let’s see what else needs to get done this week.

1. Clean room
2. Do all laundry
3. Actually put away all laundry this time
4. Organize craft projects
5. Get stuff for lunches this week
6. Finish GoF please
7. Get 5 stationary sets done
8. Paint frame
9. Make a deposit
10. Have three healthy days
11. Do one sewing project
12. Schoolwork: Ch 3-4 of Hist, Ch 2 of Govt, Ch 1-3 of Kine

Busy week ahead! But since most of it is crafting and reading, I’m pretty excited to knock this stuff off!

So, as always, let me know in the comments: What do you want to get done this week? What have you already knocked off the list? Or are you looking forward to a super relaxing week with nothing to get done? Happy week!

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What’s Up Wednesday 09.03.2014

Hey guys! I wanted to add something that would kind of be more about my life than reading habits, so this is the first What’s Up Wednesday, a weekly post that will catch you up on what I’m up to in my daily life!

As with most people, it’s back to school time. I’ve been working at my sister’s bookstore (dreams do come true!) and taking online classes so I can get some stuff done before going back to campus life with a new school and major. I was studying Education but I realized that teaching has become so much more about paperwork and politics than children, and I don’t know if I can do that for the rest of my life. Going into Education, I told myself that even if I didn’t follow it as a career, the things  learned would still help me as a parent. It still sucks to think about the fact that I won’t be a teacher, but I can still teach in daycares and montessori schools. After deciding to change paths, I sat down and thought of all the career I’ve wanted in my life: florist, baker, artist, interior designer, writer, wedding planner, etc. Then I realized I can work with flowers, food, design, and more if I become a wedding/event planner. I’m super organized, I see details and big picture, and I love picking out the tiny extras that really make something pop. Plus, I’m super good at tying tiny bows, something I found out when helping a family friend with her wedding. I’m really excited to get into the industry and see what I can do!

I’m currently trying to eat better. I know I should love my body and everything. I do! I just want to go up a flight of stairs without getting winded. I think I’ll be more confident and carefree if I stop worrying about how I look or if others are looking at me. I know if I just stopped caring, it would save me a lot of time and heartache. But I want to be healthier and feel better in my clothes, ya know?

Another thing I’m working on is adding or changing things in my room so that when I move into an apartment, I have some stuff already done. I want there to be lots of unique things that I’ve made or changed to reflect my passions. One thing I’m going to work on after my castle is a vase chandelier. Let’s hope I succeed! Haha.

That’s really all I can think of at the moment. Let me know what’s going on in your life right now. Tell me things you’ve been thinking about or wanting to do, and maybe we can work on them together!

xoxo,
Rachel

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Would Sit at My Lunch Table

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the amazing ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish

 

1. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series)
Herms and I would totally talk about books all the flippin time, rant about how Ron has the emotional range of a teaspoon, and freak out over how amazing the magical world is! We would totes be besties.

2. Tabitha (Life by Committee)
We both know how it feels to suddenly be without friends and so we would stick together all the time. We’d chat about books too, the gorgeous power of words, and basically just chill at her parents’ coffee shop. Perfect friend, amirite?

3. Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl)
I love love love Blair. She would show me how to dress with the utmost fashion and be there when I need the dirt on someone. She would also be the perfect friend to go to with your problems because she wouldn’t be afraid to take someone down.

4. Neville Longbottom (Harry Potter series)
I think  Nev and I would get along because we can both be very shy and quiet, but have a lot of passion. Plus, I think he could stand to have a few more friends early on and he would be the kind of sweet companion I would love to hang out with.

5. Cather (Fangirl)
Do I really even need to explain this one? If you’ve read the book, you know why. We’re basically the same person.

6. Tris (Divergent series)
I think Tris is the kind of friend that would empower you to get things done and never take crap from anyone. She’d be great at motivation and pep talks, as well as having your back no matter what. I would love to have her at my lunch table!

7. Fred and George Weasley (Harry Potter series)
I know, a ton of HP on this list. But I know them best! These two would be so much fun and would make sure none of us take ourselves too seriously. Plus, I’ve always wanted to be in a food fight and I think they would cause one fairly often.

8. Anna (Anna and the French Kiss)
Anna would be a lot of fun to have around because I think she’s very loyal and empathetic, so she’d be there when you need a girls night or just a good cry session. Plus, she knows all the cool spots in Paris!

9. Allyson/Lulu (Just One Day/Year/Night)
We are basically the same person.

10. Emily (Since You’ve Been Gone)
Another same person as me.

Make It Happen Monday 09.01.14

Happy Labor Day Weekend! I know we’re entering our last few hours of freedom before a short work week starts, but I hope you had a great and relaxing weekend. I was pretty productive!

1. Get hanging board finished
2. Finish GoF
3. Finish OotP
4. Paint HP characters
5. Decorate and hang new mirror
6. Finish potions cabinet
7. Get all schoolwork done
8. Jump rope three times this week   {  1    2    3  }
9. Prepare bridal shower gift
10. Put away all laundry
11. Change wall letters
12. Decorate catch-all tray

As you can see, I’ve already been very productive! Not only have I already crossed off four things, but I’ve gotten quite a few steps done on five others! For example, I only have 2 characters left to paint and I’ve already painted the wood board for my hanging board! There will be a tutorial for that when I’m done, and on the 8th there will be an author interview with the wonderful writer of The Confessions of Jonathan Flite, Matthew Beier! Get excited about that!

You might be wondering what the HP characters and potions cabinet are for. A few summers ago I found an unpainted wooden castle/dollhouse at Michael’s and knew it was going to be my summer project. However, I think that was the summer I started college, so not a lot of time went towards crafting. I found the partially painted castle in my closet a few weeks ago and my resolve was renewed. Here’s what’s done so far…

The castle painted and labeled as to what will be where.

Castle

And the potions cabinet.

Potions Cabinet

Here’s also a look at my new mirror! It’s just one of those $5 full length mirrors at Walmart, but the blue is lovely and perfect for my new color scheme.

Mirror Flowers