Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mini Personal Trainer.

Amara has many, many quirks - and nicknames! Today, those quirks and all her many nicknames grew. Food Thief, Attention Hog, and Fitness Expert Extraordinaire. 

Amara, making sure dad stays on-task.

We recently set up our Total Gym. Exercising, being more active, and becoming more fit were all a part of my 2014 Endeavor. (I'll be doing an update on that Endeavor soon!) So the family agreed - the Total Gym needed to be set up. Currently it is in our sun room/green house/doggie salon/storage room. This morning while I was in the sun room putting on my gardener hat and tending to my veggies, dad sat down on the total gym to do a few exercises before work.

Next thing we knew - Amara hopped right on for the ride!

video

Occasionally she tried lick his face, but mostly she
made herself comfortable on his lap.
Now she is dad's Personal Fitness Coach. What can I say, it's a tough life being a spoiled pup.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pizza Delivery!

The other night my parents and I made pizza for dinner. Because I am passionate about the environment, the box went in the recycling -- not the trash. Later, while I'm downstairs doing homework, mom calls to me to get the camera and come up stairs "NOW!"

...What do I find?

Amara is so proud of herself.

Amara parading around the living room with the box in-mouth. Just behind her, my mom sat on the couch crying from laughter. Amara circled the room prancing, her tail wagging, ears perked, and eyes sparkling.


Apparently mom, dad, and I are not the only ones who love Better Bread's gluten-free pizza.


(Don't forget to check out my latest post for Christie Cote's novel Rain! There are a bunch of great giveaways - you don't want to miss out.)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Little White Fuzzball

 Daily Dose of Cute (for your weekend) this week consists of baby Peaches photos. Where has the time gone? This tiny, baby fuzzball is now a spritely senior. It's unfathomable!

She was only as big as a small rope when we brought her home!


Taking a snooze on one of my parent's sneakers. She had a
foot fetish, even then.

Napping is a talent for Her Royal Queen of Fluffdom.

Don't forget to check out my latest post for Christie Cote's novel Rain! There are a bunch of great giveaways - you don't want to miss out.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blog Tour: Rain by Christie Cote




*Keep reading through until the end for multiple giveaways!*

Today I'm interviewing Christie Cote, author of Rain. I am especially excited to do this blog tour because I know her in real life. Christie and I have spent a semester sitting side-by-side in college courses, sharing our love of books and music. Now we are facebook friends. Everyday we find more and more in common - it's like our being friends was meant to be!

This is Christie. Music lover, author, book devourer,
newlywed, maple syrup connoisseur.  She's got
as much brains as she does beauty - a lot!

Now this lovely lady has published her first novel. Woo! Rain is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon. Christie currently working on getting the paperback version into some stores, such as Bullmoose Music and Barnes & Noble. While the e-book will only be available on Amazon as of now, if you have devices that do not cooperate with Amazon, you can buy the book and convert the file to one that is compatible with your reader via the program Calibre (which is free).

Rain's cover!
Rain blurb:
Taylor Sullivan took her life for granted until she received news that would change her life forever. In a state of denial she met Kyle, who didn’t end up being what she expected. She wasn’t able to escape her new reality, but with his friendship, just maybe she could survive it.

Author Bio:
Christie Cote resides in Vermont with her Husband and their dog. When she isn’t reading, writing, or dreaming up her next story, she can be found shooting targets with her bow, drawing or baking.
Rain is her first book.

Christie writes Young Adult Realistic Fiction, Fiction, and New Adult novels.
Find Christie:


Without further adieu. Here we go!

                   ---- --  ------------------------------------ ------------------------------------ -- ----

First off, describe Rain in your own words.
Rain is a young adult realistic fiction novel. It can also be considered contemporary. The protagonist is Taylor Sullivan, a normal teenage girl in high school. She has a good life with parents that love her. She has taken it all for granted, as many of us do. She receives news that alters her life completely. She fights to survive with the help of her best friend, family, and a stranger that becomes her friend.

What is one thing you want readers to know about Rain?
I’ve been careful not to give away what the main challenge for Taylor is in Rain, but you do find out in the first chapter. It is a sad and happy story and I hope readers will appreciate it.

Rain is your breakout novel. Congratulations! As an emerging author, what have you found to be the hardest part of writing a novel? What is the easiest (or your favorite) part?
Thank you! I think the most difficult thing about writing a novel is not getting intimidated by how much I have to write to produce a novel. The easiest and most fun part is just getting lost in the story and writing.

What journey led you to becoming an author? When and how did this process of becoming a published author start out? 
I have wanted to be an author since I fell in love with writing in middle school. I have been writing ever since, but never finished an entire book until Rain. I’m very proud of this story, and with the encouragement of a few friends and family I decided to go for it and publish my first book. I’m the only one who can make my dreams come true, so that is what I am doing.

The ultimate personality test: how would your main characters - Taylor Sullivan and Kyle -  describe you?
Hmmmm Determined maybe?

What inspired Rain?
I had to start a story in a fiction writing class, in College. I wanted to write a different story, but my teacher preferred us to write realistic fiction, and what I wanted to write was a bit different. I came up with a new story and first just had an image of Rain in my head and a girl and went from there. Before I knew it, I was totally engrossed in the story and had to keep telling the story.

Are any experiences in Rain based on, or inspired by, events in your own life or that of someone you know?
Not exactly, it is a fiction book. I did base some of the characters off of people that are important to me, and I snagged a few conversation snippets that have occurred in my life, but mostly the story just started as an image and I followed it where it took me.

How are you similar to and different from your main character, Taylor? What about Kyle?
Oh goodness. I’m sure how I speak comes out a little in her thoughts and when she talks, but otherwise I think we are pretty different. I guess some of the personality traits are similar. I like some of the things that she does, but appearance and life experience wise we are the complete opposite. I think I can relate to Kyle a little more, but he is very different from me, as well.

Give us an insight into your main character(s). What makes them so unique and special? What particularly qualities about them are relatable and captivating to an audience?

Some authors are planners – with outlines, snowflake diagrams, character biographies, or other means – and others are “fly by the seat of their pants on the rough draft” types. Some write everything in time-line order, others as it comes to mind. Tell us about your writing process: how did you go about writing Rain?
I hate outlines. In school when they were required I wrote my paper first and then made my outline from that. I honestly just get an idea in my head and know the general idea of it and start from the beginning and just see where the story goes.

What piece of the novel did you come up with first – the ending, the beginning, or a particular scene?
I came up with the beginning first.

Were there ever previous incarnations of any of your characters – particularly Taylor or Kyle?
No, but that is a fun idea for a future book.
How did Kyle and Taylor’s characters change from conception to the physical writing? What are some differences?
I don’t think Taylor changed too much from my conception of her to actually writing her story. I definitely got to know her more as I wrote her, but I think she stayed true to how I first imagined her. Kyle was just as much of a mystery to me as he was to Taylor, so in a way he is a lot different than I expected him to be when I first imagined him. His story in complex and I know a lot about him that readers don’t know about yet.

Was the story always meant to end the way it did?
I honestly wasn’t sure how the story wouldn’t end until I got there. It was always vague and ambiguous to me until I was writing it. I think it worked out well that way and I’m happy with the way I ended it.

How do you  beat writer’s block?
Honestly, I haven’t really experienced writer’s block. There are times that my brain just can’t get into writing, so I stop and give myself a break then go back to it, but I’ve never been stuck at a certain part and not been able to continue. There are times that I have had a scene come into my head and yell for my attention. I like to write things in order, I don’t usually skip around, but sometimes I have to stop and write future scenes that take over my head. I suppose if I ever did get writer’s block I would do something like that to get through it.

In a field known for agents and major publishing companies, you chose a path that many authors are now choosing to take: the growing field of self-publishing. For you, what drove this decision? What were your 1-2 biggest learning experiences (or surprises!) of self–publishing?
There are a lot of success stories, not that it means that everyone who self-publishes will be successful. I really like the idea of having full control over the book. I had the control over ever step and didn’t have anyone telling me I had to do it a different way. Self-publishing is a lot of work though, and it is not for everyone. I designed the book cover, editing and hiring an editor is my responsibility, marketing, advertising, setting up the cover reveal and scheduling the blog tour and there is probably more that I can’t think of. All of those things take a lot of time and can cost a lot, as well.

What are your plans for the future? Personal/work/book related.
I have more books that I plan to write. Two more for the Rain series, and a few other projects that I want to work on. I’m also finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Communications.

One writer to another: we all have procrastination habits. What are some of your best or most common procrastination habits?
True story! I’m very good at procrastinating. Anything from checking Facebook too much, to ignoring what I should be doing and watching TV, or doing other unproductive things.

Yay or nay! What are your thoughts on fanfiction? Have you ever written fanfiction before?
I’m not sure I can fairly have an opinion on fanfiction. I have never read or written fanfiction. It also depends if the fanfiction stays purely fanfiction, or ends up getting published, like fifty Shades of Gray. I know the idea is that a fan is writing a piece of work based on someone else’s work, so if that is the case I’m not sure if I can agree with fanfiction being published as an original work. I think it all depends on the piece of work and how it is all executed.

What is your favorite writing space? How about favorite writing outfit?

As long as I have a computer, I can write anywhere. I suppose I like writing on my computer in my home some-what office. I’m always a fan of being in sweatpants and a comfortable shirt.

The funniest/craziest thing that ever happened to you – GO!
I’d tell you, but then I might get arrested…

What is one unique and interesting fact about yourself?
I wrote and illustrated a picture book when I was really young in school. The book was about my cat Midnight. Luckily my drawing and writing skills have developed a lot since then.

My friends have a variety of nicknames for me – ranging from Rinna, to Sparkles, to Lvl5Woodland Elf, to Miss Katie – but I wasn’t always that way. For a long time I didn’t have any nicknames. Now, I have grown so fond of all of mine, I cannot imagine being without. Do you have any funky, unique, or special nicknames?
Well, my family has named me Princess Cupcake. I haven’t had too many nicknames, and some of them I don’t like so I’m not sharing those. I’ve also been called smiley, and Pink Ninja.

Who are your favorite authors?
Oh goodness, this could take a while… Lurlene McDaniel, John Connolly, Colleen Hoover, Cassandra Clare, Patricia Briggs, Tammara Webber, J.K. Rowling, Shelly Crane, Jennifer Armentrout, Michelle Sagara, Elizabeth chandler, Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver, Jolene Perry, Maria Snyder, and Suzanne Collins. I’m sure I left some out.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read and write as much as you can. If writing a book seems intimidating, I recommend setting small daily word count goals. Those goals are a lot less scary and are doable and eventually all of those words will add up to something big. That helped me a lot. Also be able to take criticism, and if someone says something negative about your work, don’t let it sway you from writing. Keep doing it, and work to improve, whether they are right or wrong.


 


 This Blog Tour is just FULL of giveaways. So don't miss out! There are three going on right now - get on board!

There is one over at Goodreads. Click through HERE to get there.

Then there is one for this blog for an e-book copy of Rain and a mass blog tour giveaway run by Christie. Below are both of them!

My Blog Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway


Christie Cote's Blog Tour Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Liebster Award

*Crawls out of a dark cave of blankets*
*Shakes off a coat of text books, notes, highlighters, and pencil shavings*
*Turns up the shades*
*Jumps onto the porch, arms spread wide in the 80 degree weather*
“It is SUMMER!”

Perhaps I shouldn’t be rejoicing so much, because in less than two days I start my summer semester. Currently, though, I’m not focusing on that. I’m focusing on warm weather. I’m focusing on having finished my first novel of the summer – in one sitting. I’m focusing on the fact that I just spent an entire, very busy weekend having fun and doing absolutely nothing homework related. Give me a minute, just a minute, to revel in it.



Okay – back to business.





 A few weeks ago I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Alex over at Moonbeams and Moss. However, things have been so busy as of recent (woes of a college junior) that I have only just been able to sit down and focus, giving this the attention it deserves. So here it goes! First off, if you get the chance, go visit my lovely nominator’s blog – it deserves some lovin’.

Second, the award: the Liebster Award is a blogger award given by bloggers to new bloggers, or bloggers with under 200 followers. It is a fun way for readers to learn more about you while at the same time gaining exposure in the Blog World. (That’s a thing, right?) Here’s how it goes – I answer 11 questions, I post 11 facts about myself, and then I choose 11 bloggers to nominate and 11 questions for them to answer.

Questions from my Alex at Moonbeams and Moss:

1. What/Who inspired you to start blogging?
I have been blogging on and off for so many years. It’s crazy. I cannot entirely remember how I got started on this path. Somehow I kind of stumbled onto it. A few of my favorite authors write blogs (Kristin Cashore and John Green, for instance) that I follow and read. That progressed to a lot of my favorite Youtubers. That progressed to a few friends and I having an online writing blog where we shared our writing, posted challenges, and encouraged each other. From there a few fanfiction blogs were started (no judge-y) and, ultimately, a few on again, off again blogs for my own personal experience.

This time around I was re-inspired by my real life friend, Miss ALK over at SouthernBelle in Training. She is in love with blogging, in every sense. She has had such a good experience with it and done so much because of it, that I finally restarted! She’s been a huge help to me. She pointed me in the direction of HCBN and Bloglovin’, both of them have been amazing! The funny thing is: I was one of the ones who originally inspired
her to start blogging. (Talk about paying it forward. Go give her a little love.)

2. If you could use only one makeup product for the rest of your life, what would you use (blush, eyeliner, foundation, etc.)? Mascara. Without a doubt, hands-down definitely mascara. As much as I hate when blemishes appear on my skin (I’m still self-conscious from years of overactive acne), I find eyes to be the most beautiful part of the human body. They are so expressive! They’re the first thing I notice. Maybe I love the “eyes are the windows to the soul” thing a bit too much.


3. What is your favorite book from childhood? As a book addict, I loved a lot of books during my childhood. Heck, I love a lot of books now. One of my absolute favorites was Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. Its anti-bullying, love yourself message spoke to me. I have always had self-esteem issues and faced bouts of bullying while I was growing up. In those moments, the book served as a source of strength.
4. Have you watched any of the Oscar movie winners and/or nominees from this past year and what is your verdict? If not, what Oscar movie and/or nominee movies from this past year do you want to see? Frozen was amazing! Maybe I am a bit bias because I tend to love Disney movies, but Frozen lived up to every expectation I had. Best of all, I love that the focus was on familial love, not romance, and that one of the heroines had a mental illness that was not glossed over.

Oh! Also...It wasn’t a nominated movie, but I have to admit: I really, really want to see Saving Mr. Banks because I have heard so many mixed reviews on it. I want to judge for myself! Have any of you seen it? What were your thoughts? Share them in the comments!

5.  What word makes it the most into your personal vocab?

Awesome. Without a doubt, hands down: awesome. It is my number one go-to to expression when I think something is the bees-knees. “That’s awesome!” “Awesome!” “This is AWESOME!!” “Awwwesoooome!”I really need to come up with more creative ways.
6. What are your top five favorite clothing stores to shop at?
Honestly: I really only shop at two stores as of late, because they’re local and have great deals when paired with coupons. But I will include the other three that I also shop at most often.
Khols – clearance, clearance, clearance.
Target – also often on clearance and sale.
Old Navy – I love, love, love their pajamas.
dELiA*s – jeans.
J.C. Penny – sweaters, some shirts, winter jackets.
  
7. What is your most loved health food and green beauty product?
Most loved green beauty product: Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Lash boosting Mascara. (Their blush is also amazing.) -- I told you I was addicted to mascara. I just cannot help myself!

Most loved health food: organic, gluten-free azuki and black bean angel hair pastas.

8. The Voice or American Idol?
I actually watch neither, but based on reviews: The Voice. I like the sound of the way the show works, where it is harder to judge by looks in the beginning.

9. Where do you want your next vacation spot to be?
Planning a trip for this summer is on my bucket list. It’d preferably be out of state. The last time I was out of state my family and I went to Gettysburg (unintentionally) on our way to see my brother during his cancer treatment. Ever since then I’ve realized that I have had a thirst for travel inside of me. I just don’t know where yet. Maybe Niagara Falls. Maybe Washington, D.C.. Maybe we’d visit Gettysburg, again. Or maybe a few trips all over my large state; I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve only seen a small fraction of it. That seems like a shame.


10. When was your first concert?
This is a tie between two. I cannot remember which concert actually came first: Kelly Clarkson or American Idol. They were both in 2005 and both chaperoned by my dad. And they were
amazing. Just one concert and I was forever hooked on concerts. There is nothing like experiencing music live, with screaming fans, dancing around in your seat, clapping and yelling out the lyrics as much as you can.

I have pictures from both!

American Idol tour! (Really, really blurry picture of Carrie Underwood. 
A few years later - after this picture - I would go see a concert just for Carrie
Underwood.)
All dressed up and ready to go to Kelly Clarkson with my date, my dad!
Same year.


11. What accent can do you the best besides your own?
Ahhh, eh-heh...accents...right. How about I am an expert in Made-up? Made-up includes random squealing, giggling, exaggerated facial expressions, turning non-verbs into verbage, and random sound effects.


Itsy Bitsy Me:
1. Every year until I was in 8th grade I participated in chorus, drama, and acting. I was the ½ of the magic mirror in a chorus production of Snow White, a narrator in the Emperor’s New Clothes, Violet in It’s a Wonderful Life, and Marilla in Anne of Green Gables. Theater and music have a large part of my heart. I only got out of it because of my downturn in health. A few years later I returned to one of the drama groups I was part of to help out with the productions.

To this day I miss acting and singing as part of a chorus. When I was younger, I never feared auditioning. I was calm and natural. Line memorization was a breeze. Being on stage was as natural as walking. But with my current illness, my constant enemy is anxiety. The mere thought of memorizing lines is suffocating; I cannot fathom auditioning in front of anyone. Someday I hope to move past this again, because I cannot watch a live production without my heart leaping, wishing to be on stage.

2.  I hated Girl Scout camp when I went with my troop. I only went once as a kid and never again. The only other time I went I returned as a Junior Camp Counselor to earn my Bronze award. That time I loved it! I made friends with a few of the international college students (who were official counselors) and even kept in touch with them for a few years. The rest of my troop was not there, it was just me. The kids were great. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience!

3. I have seen two Broadway productions, Mama Mia and Beauty & the Beast, but neither were presented on Broadway. They were both seen during their National Broadway Tours. (And they were both amazing.)

4. SPARKLES. I am such a girl. I love sparkly things, things that look like real diamonds, but I am cheap. I have some amazing quality costume jewelry that I would never trade for the life of me. My future husband has it so easy: all he’s got to do is make sure it sparkles and doesn’t turn my hand green – I don’t need the real diamond.

5. Speaking of boyfriends...I’ve only ever had one. And he wasn’t even much of a boyfriend. We were young and had never dated before; it was my freshman year of high school and his sophomore year of high school. He was a friend I had for a few years. We’d known each other from all of the acting I’d done, so we weren’t strangers. We went on a few dates (some quite awkward). We went to a dance or two together. We kissed once. But ultimately I did not care for him in that romantic sense and I had to be true to the both of us (plus, I was just too young). We’ve remained friends ever since. I went with him to his junior prom.

6. I can quote, almost verbatim, the entirety of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

7. Back when I wasn’t so busy, I used to read 4 books at a time. Four?! How’d I ever do that!

8. My feet are often my handy picker-uppers when my hands are full. I have used my toes to open doors, pick up pencils, clean, and gather other items from the ground when my hands are full. I get this from my mother, who can use her pinky toe and her big toe the same way as I can. Mother and I have even sat in the living room and practiced writing and drawing with our toes.

9. I used to dress Peaches up in my doll clothes, which is really funny because she absolutely hates being dressed up in her jacket now. (Bless her; she’s got such patience when it comes to me.)

10. Every year I volunteer once a month with a local 4-H club that focuses on gardening. I help teach kiddos how to build and maintain a square-foot garden. Spreading my green thumb!

11. I am not a night person. I will stay up with friends and go out for a rare, special late night. But on an average night, I prefer to be home in pajamas, with tea in hand and a good book or movie to keep my busy.

Nominees Questions:
1. Funniest and/or craziest thing that has ever happened to you – GO!
2. Favorite movie and why?
3. Were you named after anyone?
4. Favorite guilty pleasure (desert, movie, hobby, what-have-you)?
5. Do you have a special – or unusual – talent? Tell us!
6. We all need to practice more self-love. So, what do you love most about yourself? (Not physical!)
7. What is one of your favorite memories?
8. What was your last dream about?
9. What is the biggest thing on your bucket list?
10. If you could go back in time, anywhere, and change one thing, any one thing at all, what would you chose?
11. If you could ask your future self one question, what would it be?


Nominees:
(Made my way up to 9! Thank you for all of your help!)

Qwendolyn over at http://gbshortcake.blogspot.com/
Orly over at http://coffeebeansandhighheels.weebly.com

Amelia over at http://bittytidbits.blogspot.com/
Katherine over at http://www.thesenestedthoughts.blogspot.com

Madeleine over at http://www.smalltownrootsandcowboyboots.com/
Beth over at 
http://wanderingforevermore.blogspot.com/
Emma over at http://
lifesbetterontheroad.com
Rebeka over at http://southernervinliving.blogspot.com
Samantha over at http://collegebeautybuff.blogspot.com

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Be A Warrior Queen

Hi all! There are more posts to come, but due to the upcoming finals week, I'm a bit backed up. Never fear, new content will be here soon!

In the meantime... Earlier this week I hopped on over to Be a Warrior Queen. While dear Raewyn is honeymooning in Europe a few of us have taken over her blog with guest posts. It has been such a joy! My post, Inspiring Through the Pages, is all about getting inspired - particularly with books! (You know, the bookavore that I am.)


You can also find Raewyn here, on her facebook page. Go show that awesome girl some love! (Congratulations, Raewyn! I hope you are having a great honeymoon.)