Writing Post-Apocalyptic Fiction

If there’s one genre that is both overdone and under-explored, I would say it’s post-apocalyptic fiction. Now, don’t confuse this with dystopian. They are two different genres, though they do have great potential to overlap. Let’s start by distinguishing them.

Post-apocalyptic: stories about the world after a great catastrophe that completely changes society in one way or another.

Dystopian: a world in which everything is terrible, either due to a totalitarian or dictator government or through an environmental catastrophe (note: environmental disaster would also make it post-apocalyptic).

Now, some people may still argue that these are basically the same thing. And they can be. But I would argue that the difference is the presence of a catastrophe. This leads to the idea where a dystopian can also be post-apocalyptic, but it doesn’t have to be. Likewise, just because something is post-apocalyptic doesn’t mean it must be dystopian. Who knows; maybe the catastrophe drives civilization to become better and more hopeful for humanity!

Some common types of apocalypse stories include zombies, flu epidemics, or world war stories (to name a few) that leave the world a barren, empty place with a few survivors. These tropes have been done and redone so many times it can be hard to see dystopia or post-apocalyptic fiction as anything but overused and tired. And honestly, these tropes follow cycles of popularity and boredom. If you write it, eventually it will come back to market.

But the problem isn’t the genre itself. The problem is the stale ideas being used too often or at times when the public is exhausted of the topic. Authors have been playing off the same old tropes and ideas for years, so how can we do liven it back up? New catastrophes, updated situations, and unique perspectives on old tropes. Here are a couple examples:

  1. New catastrophes that aren’t tired, like an alien invasion, superstorm (which borders on overdone), or something people haven’t written yet.
  2. More relevant situations (think the long-term effects of climate change). Relate your catastrophe to something people weren’t writing about 50 years ago.

Let’s take a moment to examine a couple poor decisions, to balance out our understand a bit. What shouldn’t you do with your post-apocalyptic story?

  1. Choosing effects of a catastrophe that are not realistic. Simply put, don’t overextend the catastrophe’s capability. For example, I once saw a book in which an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) killed a huge portion of life on Earth. But there’s a major flaw: EMPs are harmless to living things. They really only affect electronics. And for this reason, I never picked the book up. Keep things logical and realistic to keep from losing readers.
  2. Writing the same story. We have enough stories about survivors of a zombie apocalypse going out and kicking butt. We need more stories with unique takes, like the scientists making a cure, or the onset of the catastrophe. Don’t write what everyone has always written. Make your own twists on it. If you don’t, your story will be lost in the noise of all other stories like it.

Now for some of the most unique catastrophes I’ve encountered.

  1. Life as we Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. In this story, the moon is knocked closer to the Earth by a meteor. Ever wonder what would happen in a case like that? Me either. Until I read this.
  2. Ashfall by Mike Mullin. Here’s another (scary and potential) disaster: the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano. And this trilogy was really well-done and excellently researched.
  3. Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis. This one plays off the possibility of a future water crisis. Another, newer release that follows this idea is Neal Shusterman’s Dry.

There are a few other upcoming or recent books I can’t wait to see, ones that show promise for reinvigorating this genre. These are my most anticipated post-apocalyptic TBRs:

I’m sure there are more, but honestly I have over 700 books on my TBR, and things can get a little lost. 😉 But these three definitely stand out at the top.

What are some of your favorite post-apocalyptic tropes? Do you agree with me, or disagree? What recommendations do you have for post-apocalyptic or natural disaster books? I’d love to find some more good ones, so leave a comment and let me know!

Guest Post: Kathryn McConaughy


Hey folks! Today we get another peek into these amazing Snow White retellings with a fantastic guest post by the author of Overpowered, Kathryn McConaughy! Just a reminder in case you missed the last post, these are seven Snow White inspired retellings that are part of the Seven Magic Mirrors joint release. You can find more stops on the blog tour here, and be sure to look for information about the giveaway while you’re there!

Overpowered by Kathryn McConaughy

41575887Taliyah bat Shammai is fleeing a terrible crime. Though she has no hope of shelter, she must keep running—for the Avenger will be coming. Even losing herself in the mist-haunted hills cannot protect her for long. But perhaps other criminals can…

Yotam bin Yerubba’la has left his home, his only guide a cryptic dream. Endangered by a perilous secret, he soon finds himself among men with secrets of their own—in a place where trusting others may be his most serious mistake… or his best defense.

Cypress and his band have been mercenaries for a long time. Criminals all, they don’t trust easily and never reveal their hearts. But when a battle goes horribly wrong, each man must decide whether he fights for gold, for fame, or for something yet more rare…

Disguised as a boy, Taliyah finds the outlaw life to be full of more questions than answers. What are those strange tracks around the ruined houses? Why is Yotam so calm in the face of battle? Where are the rest of Cypress’ men? And who is the Avenger?
There may not be much time for Taliyah to find the answers, for war is about to ignite in the hills. And they all will burn…

Add it on Goodreads, or buy it on Amazon today!

Now, without further ado, Kathryn herself on the inspiration of this fantastic historical fantasy!

The Inspiration for Overpowered by Kathryn McConaughy

What inspired Overpowered?  A lot of different things.  I’m never short of inspiration, just short of time to write things down!

Obviously, Rooglewood’s Five Poisoned Apples contest was a big factor, because I had to write a Snow White story.  This was a challenge for me, as I’ve never been a huge fan of this particular fairy tale.  While Snow White is more sensible than many fairy tale heroines, managing to make a new home for herself with her work ethic and housekeeping skills, she is also very naïve, instantly trusting groups of men in the woods and mysterious old ladies. (Can I ask—how did Snow White learn to cook?  You don’t see many princesses in kitchens.) Then she rides off into the sunset with a man whose only credentials are that he can kiss a dead/sleeping woman and that a previous member of his bloodline achieved political power. I don’t think it’s the plot itself that I have a problem with—like Snow White, many people do live life reacting rather than acting—rather, it’s the fact that Snow White’s choices are presented so positively.  “Of course you should marry the handsome stranger.  And of course your friends the dwarves will be perfectly okay with this.”

Ayeh.  So it took me a while to wrap my head around writing a Snow White retelling.  I originally tried writing an SF version in which Snow flees the colony where she grew up after her stepmother tries to have her killed for her planetary corporation shares, but my SF Snow kept coming across as too passive.  So I moved back to my home court—the mythic ancient Near East—and started a version that was set there. I made Taliyah more active from the very beginning, a woman wary and brave, though still a bit too trusting.

The first scene I wrote was the one where Taliyah, my heroine, approaches the outlaw camp and meets my “dwarves.”  I love writing “band of brothers” characters—they play off each other so well. And, as you know if you read “Guardian of Our Beauty,” I find the Late Bronze Age hillmen endlessly fascinating.  I had been reading a lot of books and articles on the relationship between townsfolk and nomads in the ancient Near East, so that information also made its way into the story and into the character backgrounds.  Anyway, in this scene I was able to explore who Taliyah was and how she was going to relate to the other characters. I was amazed that she was able to get Thorn, the band’s paranoid lookout, to talk to her, but their first conversation was wonderful.  After that, I was really excited to be writing her story.

About half of the ideas that took root in Overpowered had been hanging out in my head waiting to be used long before I knew that I would be writing a Snow White retelling.  For example, I’m very interested in the ancient Near Eastern wisdom traditions, whether they be in the Bible or out of it. I think that we often don’t appreciate what a big part those wisdom traditions—whether in the form of proverbs, poems, or parables—played in the lives of the ancient people.  There was one character, a middle-aged man who only communicates in proverbs, who had been living in my head for quite some time. So when I saw an opportunity to drop him into this story (where he would have to stay instead of wandering around in my brain making trouble) I wrote him in. That’s where Willow came from.

Many of my favorite wisdom tales from the Bible use plant imagery.  My favorite of all is Jotham’s cautionary speech to the Shechemites in Judges 9.  Distressed by their support of his murderous brother, he tells them a story about trees.  The trees want to have a king, but all of the trees with good reputations turn down the job.  Finally, the trees ask the bramble to rule over them. The bramble agrees, but pronounces a terrible curse on them if they betray him.  (Basically, Jotham is trying to tell the Shechemites that making his brother king was a bad idea.) I’ve always been intrigued by this tree tale, so I amused myself by giving my “dwarves” tree names in keeping with their appearances and personalities.  The grumpy “dwarf” is named Thorn, the giant is named Cedar, and so on.

Then I thought, “Why not make the homage to Judges 9 more obvious by letting Jotham’s brother Abimelek run around in the background?”  So I put him in. In the Five Poisoned Apples version of the story, you never actually met him, you just got Easter Egg-like references to him and his campaigns through the hill country.

Then Jotham turned up and said, “I’ve just had to flee after giving that tree speech against my brother.  I think I’ll join this outlaw band.” Well. I couldn’t chase him away; he was so friendly and polite. So I thought that he could be a dwarf, and maybe no one would notice that he was a biblical figure.

Then Taliyah started noticing how brave and kind and godly he was.  Long story short, he ended up as the hero of the piece, and I went back and wrote a bunch of scenes from his perspective.

As you can see, Overpowered came together from a lot of different sources—but I think that it really did come together into one integrated story world, a story world that I loved writing about.  In fact, I got so attached to these characters that I’m working on a sequel! I’m very excited to share the story with you all. I hope you enjoy it.

Concluding Thoughts

I had the great opportunity to read this story, and I have to say it was such a refreshing taste of a culture we very rarely read in most fiction, and especially as a fantasy! If you have any interest in the Near East, or fantasy, definitely give this a try!

If any of this has piqued your interest, remember you can add it on Goodreads or buy it on Amazon!

Happy reading!

Blog Tour: Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales


It’s that time again! Time to showcase another new book! This time, it’s a fantasy anthology by the lovely authors over at Fellowship of Fantasy. Feel free to follow the link to see other stops on this blog tour.

If you’re an animal lover and a fantasy lover (like me), then this anthology will appeal to you. This book is packed with sixteen magic tales with cats taking the lead. I have a pre-order link and Goodreads, for your viewing pleasure.

What’s that? You want to know more? Well, how about a blurb for each of the stories in this volume?

The Witching Hour by Savannah Jezowski
As shadows encroach on the city of Lite, one cat stands between humanity and the hounds of darkness. Will true love save the day?

Tail of Two Kitlings by Sharon Hughson
Two kitlings. One tail. A mother’s sacrifice and a brother’s betrayal. Who will survive the Siamese curse?

Black Knight by Laura L. Laura Croman Zimmerman 
When a jingly bell goes missing, there’s only one supercat to solve this crime—the mysterious Black Knight.

Sulphur & Sunshine by Grace Bridges
How to Handle a Dragon, Feline Edition: on a volcanic shore, the accidental appearance of a local fire-guardian has unusual consequences for a street cat.

The Magic of Catnip by A. J. Aletha Bakke
An impulse purchase of catnip leads to unexpected shenanigans.

The Secret Treasons of the World by J. L. Rowan
When Braelin stumbles upon an outlawed Guardian, she must choose between his safety and her own—and the cost may be more than she can bear.

The Poor Miller and the Cat by Lelia Rose Foreman
When a poor miller rescues a cat, it promises to make him a wealthy man. But what is true wealth?

Alex the Cat and Alex the Prince by Ace G. Pilkington
The prince’s parents are telling him he has to marry for money, and his cat says it could cost him his life.

Whisker Width by H. L. Burke
Get a cat they said. It’ll be fun, they said. No one mentioned the portals to a mysterious realm opening up in Kara’s bathroom.

The Honorable Retrieval of Miss Sunbeam Honeydew by Pamela Sharp
When two princesses of the realm claim the same cat, how far will their loyal retainers go to see that each princess gets her way?

The Witch’s Cat by Rachel Ann Michael Rachel Harris
Walk under ladders. October the 13th. A black cat. Perhaps the only way to bring two lovers together is through the worst luck.

The Cat-Dragon and the Unicorn by Janeen Ippolito
Ademis the cat-dragon only wants his freedom but must graciously help a scared unicorn girl who should be glad of his benevolent assistance.

Destined for Greatness by Jenelle Leanne Leanne Schmidt
Kendall knows he is destined for great things. The problem is, the Fates — if they even exist — don’t seem to agree.

Sammy’s Secret by Karin De Havin
A ring is lost. A friendship is ruined. A cadre of cats is on the case!

Death Always Collects by Jeremy Rodden
Loki, a regular old Siamese cat, finds Death looming to take his human. Bargain as much as you want, but remember: Death always collects.

The Wild Hunt by Naomi P. Cohen
When an immigrant violinist’s music enchants a Cait Sidhe, she’s entangled in the secret world of the New York Fae.

Interested yet? What about a Rafflecopter giveaway for a paperback of the book?

Okay, okay, I’m done! But seriously folks, these look amazing. One more time, here are the links: pre-order link and Goodreads. Note that there are two pre-order links, depending on your reading preferences.

Thanks for tuning in, and I’ll see you all tomorrow for our regularly scheduled post!

3 Reasons I Love Urban Fantasy

Werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires, and… cell phones?

Yup, you read it right. Urban fantasy is one of those genres that likes to mix unlikely creatures with our very own world. But what exactly is urban fantasy, and how does it differ from other, similar, types of fantasy?

Urban fantasy: A subgenre of fantasy which takes place during contemporary times, often in cities (hence “urban”), and involves typical elements of fantasy such as magic and fantastical creatures. Urban fantasy is often associated with leather-clad demon hunter ladies, but that is not a requirement. Also I don’t really like the leather-clad demon hunters… give me the coyote shifter mechanic any day (Hello, Mercy Thompson).

Now, you may be wondering about stories that don’t take place in cities but fit the other requirement: a contemporary setting. Technically, these are contemporary fantasy, though they are often still called urban. The difference is the physical setting.

Then there’s magic realism, a fantasy subgenre made famous by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude). It is normally associated with Latin American writing, but other writers can also pull it off. For example, Neil Gaiman does a wonderful job using this subgenre, though I think most people call it something other than magic realism, like contemporary fantasy (The Ocean at the End of the Lane). Magic realism has its own unique feel; it comes across as a dreamy writing style that seamlessly incorporates magical elements into the everyday. It is difficult for the reader to separate the expected from the magical, and the characters see these magical elements as part of their everyday experience.

But I digress.

While I love other fantasy genres, urban fantasy (including contemporary fantasy and magic realism) has become one of my greatest loves. Why, you ask?

  1. It involves our world. I love the idea that magic could be just around the corner from me. That it surrounds us, even if we don’t know it. I love the possibility.
  2. It involves technology. I don’t know about you, but I love my devices. I don’t mind reading about pre-digital devices times, but the concept of magical creatures using a cell phone or computer is something that really gets me… it humanizes them, in some cases, or draws them into greater relatability, giving them more depth. I love the idea of mixing magic and science! Hey, I’m a scientist.
  3. It has great heroes and heroines. Let’s face it. Some genres just naturally pump out characters we love. I find that urban fantasy is one of the best. You get shifter mechanics (who also have history degrees), half-fae detectives looking for their place in the world, vampires warring with their natural desires, and mermaids trying to hide what they are from the swim team. Extraordinary beings thrust into entirely ordinary situations. I love the contradiction. And I really love the characters for that reason.

Those are my top reasons for loving urban fantasy, but what specific series or books do I love most? Here are my top favorites:

This is by no means an exhaustive list, though. I still plan to read some others, like the Dresden Files, and I love a number of other books and series I didn’t mention here. But my list is pretty long. Indie authors especially, like A.L. Knorr above, tend to publish urban fantasy a lot. Unfortunately, the traditionally published urban fantasy is trickier… some agents and publishers think urban fantasy is dead. But I disagree wholeheartedly; the number of books available and published every day in this genre scream otherwise.

So, I will continue to read (and write) urban fantasy. And I will love it without shame.


What about you? Do you like urban fantasy? Do you prefer other genres or subgenres? Why? Tell me in the comments below!

Book Spotlight: Child of Prophecy

Guys, I am really excited about this one. I’ve read the blurb (see below) and am dying for it to come out. It has all the fantasy and adventure my heart has been yearning to read lately! Take a look below, and see what you think!

Blog Tour Banner

About the Book

Child of Prophecy Front CoverOne misfit. One prophecy. Two worlds. Being different is bad until you find out it’s the only thing that might save you.

How far would you go to fit in? Another world?

Fifteen-year-old Nova Hawthorne has a unique trait that sets her apart, yet she wants nothing more than to be normal and fit in.

She soon finds out that there’s a very real reason why she feels so out of place in this world—she’s from another one. And prophecy says she is destined to destroy them both. Continue reading “Book Spotlight: Child of Prophecy”

Six Relationship Tropes I Hate in Fiction

I don’t know about you, but I have very specific tastes when it comes to fictional romantic relationships, particularly the “I never want to see this” kind. These are definitely personal preferences, and if you like one or more of these, I’m certainly not trying to convince you not to or belittle you for something you like. To each their own! But these are the romantic relationships I could do without in my books.

  1. Student-teacher relationships. Example: Pretty Little Liars
    Especially in YA, I really, really despise these kinds of relationships. In fact, let’s extend this out to any kind of relationship with a dangerous balance of power issue. Student-teacher or student-coach or student-parentofafriend or student/employee-boss. Why, you may ask? It’s gross (if it’s a child or teen and an adult), it’s not legal (or ethical), and I really feel like it gives young readers in particular a skewed idea of healthy relationships. It can blur the lines of right and wrong or safe and unsafe. Any kind of relationship where the balance of power is off (one person has more power than the other, like one controls a job or grade) can be incredibly dangerous and unethical, if not illegal, and it is just as dangerous to idealize or romanticize this abuse of power (as many books do).
  2. Love triangles. Examples: The Infernal Devices, Twilight
    I am so over this one. Particularly as a person who never had more than one crush and never more than one person (if that) interested in her, I find these kinds of stories dull, self-indulgent, arrogant on the part of the one caught in the middle, and unrealistic. That whole “Oh no, two boys like me, how will I choose when I like them both!” thing just grates on me. Yeah, maybe some people can relate to the situation, and that’s fine. And I know enough people like them for it to have become a trope in the first place. But if I never see another love triangle again, it will be too soon.
  3. Distant “family”. Examples: Born of Earth by A.L.Knorr, Newsflesh trilogy (to be clear, I LOVE both of these books/series…except for that relationship)
    These are the romantic relationships that also toe the line between legal and illegal, just barely on the side of “this isn’t actually taboo.” For example, a girl falls in love with her adopted cousin or brother. Yeah, they’re not specifically related by blood, but they are still legally related. It just bothers me.
  4. Actual family. Examples: Flowers in the Attic
    Speaking of family, how about actual family? Like, surpassing the normal family relationship to become romantically involved. It’s just another relationship that weirds me out. I don’t like reading about it. I find it unenjoyable and awkward, and that’s not something I’m looking for in my fiction.
  5. Bad boys/girlsExample: The Infernal Devices and so many others
    I will never understand the books that romanticize falling in love with a guy or girl who treats the other person like dirt. Why would you want to be around someone who is mean all the time or acts like they don’t care about you? A real, good relationship is one where both parties feel valued and loved. Anything otherwise is modeling poor relationships. It’s not as dangerous as the power balance issues, but it can still lead to some bad times for actual humans.
  6. Abusive relationshipsExample: 50 Shades of Gray (I didn’t read it, but I know enough)
    Much like some of the above relationships, abusive relationships are difficult. They can model dangerous roles and choices to impressionable people, particularly if the relationship is romanticized. Personally, unless it is incredibly important to the story, I don’t really want to read about it. Especially with something like 50 Shades, where the characters seem ignorant and tolerant of such behaviors and it is never addressed. Abuse is never okay, and a lot of times it is lazy writing. I will be more okay with it if it is addressed or necessary, but it’s a hard balance, and I’ll need convincing.

So these are my most hated romantic relationships in fiction. Again, please remember that if you happen to really enjoy one of these kinds of relationships in your reading, I’m not trying to dissuade or belittle your choices and your enjoyment; I am merely pointing out the relationships I dislike and find particularly worrisome or troublesome.

Now that I’ve shared with you, it’s your turn! What are your least favorite romantic relationship tropes in fiction? Why? Share in the comments!

A Tale of Two Apples Blog Tour

Today I have something a little bit different (and a lot special) to share with you all. Remember how I entered that Snow White retelling contest a while back? Well, two of the other participants are publishing their stories for all to enjoy! Check out the spotlight below!

Book Spotlight

Annie Louise Twitchell and Rebekah DeVall are joining forces to present two lovely Snow White retellings!

The Witch of Belle Isle

The Witch of Belle Isle cover image.jpgAnnie Louise Twitchell Image.jpg

A war between brothers. An apple between friends.

Trapped in the prison camp on Belle Isle, Henry longs for freedom–and instead finds a girl named Faith. How far would you go to save your enemy? And how far would you go to save your friend?

This short story is a Snow White inspired historical fantasy.

Purchase here.

About Annie:

Annie Louise Twitchell is a homeschool graduate who is obsessed with dragons and fairy tales. She enjoys reading, writing, poetry, and many forms of art. When she’s not writing, she can often be found reading out loud to her cat, rabbit, and houseplants, or wandering barefoot in the area around her Western Maine home.

Contact Annie:
Instagram: @annietwitchell
Twitter: @WriterAnnieLou


Death’s Mirror

Death's Mirror Cover Image.pngRebekah DeVall Image.jpg

“How do your human stories begin? Ah, yes. Once upon a time…”

Death tells the story of Snow White.

Purchase here.

About Rebekah:

Rebekah DeVall prides herself on being the girl who wrote 200,000 words in 21 days. She’s a Christian author with a penchant for killing characters and a love for writing real female protagonists described as “the example of a Christian hero that young readers need to see”.

Contact Rebekah:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rebekah-DeVall-Author-217931808704713/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebekahdevall/
Blog: http://www.rebekahdevall.wordpress.com

The NOPE Book Tag!

A list of things I can’t stand in books.

Today I wanted to do something a little different (and maybe a little controversial! Gasp!). This book tag is the NOPE tag, where something in the book made you go “Nope!” and walk away (or try).

Let’s dive in and have a little fun!

  1. NOPE Ending: A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was crappy.
    I have 2 winners for this one: My Sister’s Keeper and Clockwork Princess. I won’t tell you why, but I will say that it involved a “bait and switch” ending and a “you can have it all ways!” ending that I hated. But up until the ending I basically enjoyed them? Even though I’m never reading them again and actually gave them away.
  2. NOPE Protagonist: A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.I can’t really think of too many. If I don’t like the MC, I tend to quit the book. But protagonists who continue to do stupid things and don’t learn from them drive me crazy.
  3. NOPE Series: A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.Again, there are a few, but I don’t really want to call them out. But I already mentioned the Clockwork Princess books. I didn’t really enjoy that ending after all the energy I put into the series.
  4. NOPE Popular pairing: A “ship” you don’t support.
    Honestly, I don’t follow too many ships, so I don’t really have any of these. But again, any “bad boy” paired with the MC. No thanks.
  5. NOPE Plot twist: A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.
    I know there’s one there, I just can’t think of it right now…
  6. NOPE Protagonist action/decision: A character decision that made you shake your head.
    Usually decisions involving people who are kind of terrible people. This will come back in a later question, but basically that whole “bad boy” thing. Choosing a jerk over an actual genuinely nice person. Alternatively, any decision involving cheating. I hate affairs in books. They upset me.
  7. NOPE Genre: A genre you will never read.Erotic. No way, no sir. I don’t mind light romance or romance in the context of something else, but I’ve never been fond of the heavy scenes.
  8. NOPE Book format: Book format you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.Hardcover. I mean, I buy them if I absolutely, desperately need a book (or if I already have previous ones in the series in hardcover because come on, they have to match, am I right?), but my preference is paperback. And I actually love mass market paperbacks. They fit in my bag quite nicely.
  9. NOPE Trope: A trope that makes you go NOPE.I have a few, but the biggest are: manic pixie dream girl, love triangle, or nerd to beauty. I think the biggest, though, is the entitled misogynist. There are way too many of those out there. I don’t know if it’s technically a trope though…
  10. NOPE Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read.I mean, I don’t think there are many that are constantly pushed at me. But I don’t have a ton of interest in vampire books, so Vampire Academy is out, and I don’t have a ton of interest in John Green. But I’m also not ruling them out in the future. So, eh?
  11. NOPE Cliche/pet peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.”She let out the breath she didn’t know she was holding.” So many breaths she didn’t know about. Someone pointed it out once, and I can’t unsee it. Instant hatred for the paragraph.
  12. NOPE Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.I don’t have a specific one because it pops up all over the place. Any love interest who is the “bad boy” or treats the MC like crap. Like, those kind of guys (or girls) really are crap. They don’t deserve the honor of love interest.
  13. NOPE Book: A book that shouldn’t have existed that made you say NOPE.Certain ones make me angry for reasons, but I won’t deny them from people who like them. However, books that are plagiarized or have crappy authors (they are terrible people) I think shouldn’t exist.
  14. NOPE Villain: A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.I can’t think of a specific right now, other than Sylar from Heroes (not a book), but pretty much anyone who is just plain evil with no redeeming qualities. If you can’t at least understand the motivations, if they are evil for the sake of evil, then I think that’s pretty terrifying.
  15. NOPE Death: A character death that still haunts you.Harry Potter spoiler alert. But if you haven’t read them yet, you’re pretty late to the party. But Lupin. My poor Lupin.
  16. NOPE. Author: An author you had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.I’m not going to call specific authors out. But this one was so poorly edited and proofread and so shallow and irritating… I wanted to like it. I really did. But I couldn’t do it, and the author is ruined for me. Actually, now that I think of it, this happened twice with two different authors. Tip for indie authors: hire editors. Please. For the love of all that is written.

And those are my answers! I came across this tag a while back and thought it would be a fun adventure. So talk to me in the comments: do you agree with any of my choices? Disagree? Do you have your own examples? Are you fiery with anger over one of these categories? Tell me!

What I Did at Bookcon 2018

Happy Friday, everyone!

So this month I had the chance to go to Bookcon in NYC. Frankly, this is a con I wanted to attend for the past five years, but I never had anyone to go with and I’m kind of terrified of the city and public transportation (you know, things I didn’t grow up with, since I spent my childhood in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania). But this year was different. I finally have an author friend, Ann Dayleview, to do these events with, and she is so much braver (and more city-saavy!) than I am!

Ann and I taking selfies surrounded by books. Heaven!

She is a wonderful, wonderful person who just got her agent (!), and you should definitely check her out on her website, Ann’s View (don’t mind the wonky look right now… she is in the process of updating). She has so many helpful tools there!

But I digress.

So Ann arrived at my house late Friday night, we looked up the train schedule, and then we woke up super early (all the sleepies) to make it to the train station in Jersey early. And then drove to the next one farther north, since parking was a mess in Trenton.

And so the adventure began. And I really should have taken more pictures.

So we caught the train and made it to a few blocks away from the Javitts Center. And we started to see the people. Our people! Book people! They were everywhere! It was glorious and exciting. What an adventure! We stopped on our way for delicious, delicious toasted bagels and coffee (hint: if you go to NYC, avoid the touristy places… the small corner stores are where it’s AT!), and then checked in at the Con to get our badges and enjoy everything they had to offer.

And wow, was there a lot!

We spent tons of time meeting people, like Morgan Matson, Jenny Han, and Siobhan Vivian (who had a photo opp and ice cream on the main show floor… they were so happy and so pleasant!):

Oh. My. Word.

We went to a ton of panels, such as this one with Holly Black, Neal Shusterman, and Charlaine Harris, dealing with dangerous characters and dangerous themes in fantasy:

Oh the power names. Also Charlaine Harris is such a sweetheart. And now I really want to read Neal’s book Dry.

And we got a special sneak peak of the new The Darkest Minds movie in a panel with Alex Bracken herself (who I got to meet later on the show floor) and Amandla Stenberg:

Be still my heart.

And so. Much. Swag. Seriously, I went home with a bunch of books, samplers, book-themed items like jewelry and totes, and all the pins. Most of that was free!

We spent two days going to the panels, playing games, meeting people, and exploring the booths on the show floor. And let me tell you: it was one of the best cons of my life. I’m so glad I faced my fear (I almost declined the invitation because of the city and number of people) and went to this event. I have finally kicked Bookcon off my bucket list, and I’m sure I’ll be back.

Did any of you go to Bookcon this year? Tell me your favorite part! For those of you who couldn’t attend, do you think you ever will? Do you even want to? Talk to me in the comments!

What I’m Reading: Mid-2018 Update

This year, my reading goal was simply to read one book per week. As of June 8, I am 9 books ahead of that schedule at 31 books read since January. So I think it’s time to review my top and bottom picks! A note: I didn’t hate anything I read so far this year. A few I didn’t enjoy as much as others, but most of the books I really had fun reading!

Currently Reading (some more than others):

Favorite book of the year so far: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Okay, so I read a lot of really good books so far. But I was so fantastically impressed with this post-apocalyptic-feeling sci-fi that I actually shared it with my sister only a few chapters in! Imagine a world where anyone can be infected by a fungus that makes you burst into flames spontaneously. What an exciting and unique premise! And it’s so well done (no pun intended, but HA) I couldn’t put it down.

Least favorite: Dead Wake by Erik Larson

Again, most of the books I read this year I really enjoyed. But this one, though it was well done, I just couldn’t get into. I found it a little dull. It just wasn’t for me. But I did learn a bunch from it, which is the beauty of reading non-fiction sometimes. And I did really also like Devil in the White City by the same author, so it was probably just the subject matter.

Honorable Mentions (in order of reading): the books I also really really enjoyed!

  • One Salt Sea (October Daye #5) by Seanan McGuire (I love her)
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (Oh my goodness, adorable!)
  • Hushed by Joanne Macgregor (Gorgeous cover, fun fluffy read!)
  • Born of Aether (Elemental Origins #4) by A. L. Knorr (such an awesome series!)
  • Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (the audiobook was fantastic!)
  • Transcendent (The Kacy Chronicles #4) by A. L. Knorr (love this author)
  • How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather (spooky and gripping… would have been good for Halloween!)
  • Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by a bunch of authors (beautiful art, intriguing world)
  • Etched in Bone (The Others #5) by Anne Bishop (one of my all-time fav series)
  • Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer (so good)
  • The Elementals (Technically #6 in the Elemental Origins) by A. L. Knorr (told you I loved this author)

Other books I read this year:

So that’s that! What have you been reading? What are your favorite and least favorite reads this year? Tell me below!