Saturday, November 15, 2014

YALLfest Wrap-Up

A year ago, I had a dream...

My dream was to go to the YALLfest in Charleston, SC.

A beautiful, wonderful convention full of authors and books and fangirls. My dream was to road trip with some friends to have the most amazing weekend ever.

Apparently, if you don't plan these sort of things far in advance, they don't happen.

My dream was crushed.

like a grape

I admit, I cried a little. (MAYBE a lot, okay? I just have all the feels. Plus, SHANNON HALE was going to be there. I mean, come on.)


Months passed by, and I eventually ceased my ever-flowing river of tears. It was an annual occasion, so maybe, MAYBE, 2014 would be my lucky year.

And you know what?

My dream came true, and in an even better way than I ever could have hoped...


We booked our hotel months in advance and I started saving every dollar I made from babysitting. November was drawing closer and closer, which brought on a numerous amount of worries and excitements. NaNoWriMo. YALLfest. Thanksgiving. November might be the best, most stressful month of the year.

My friend Rachel and I packed snacks and water bottles, stuffed her car with our luggage, and stocked up on Broadway Musical soundtracks and Taylor Swift CD's. It was a seven-hour drive to Charleston, but we were going to make it through in style.

Actually, we looked pretty ratchet. But hey, bursting Barbie songs at the top of your lungs is attractive enough to make up for your appearance, right?

Finally arriving in Charleston brought on all sorts of emotions. We're here! I can't believe it! This is the first time I've been on a trip without my parents! Ahhhh! We're meeting James Dashner and Veronica Roth!

The activities kicked off Friday night with a handful of authors signing in different buildings along King St.

James Dashner was one of those authors, and we waited for four hours in front of the most amazing toy shop I've ever seen so that we would be in the first batch of people let in.

via: Rachel Coker

Here's a little back story:

I do ballroom dancing classes. Irrelevant? I think not, since a guy in my class' mom was BEST FRIENDS WITH "JAMIE" DASHNER WHEN THEY WERE KIDS.


Makes me wonder if I've been friends with anyone who will be famous one day...


Here's another story...or confession, whatever:

I really love Dylan O'Brien.

Don't laugh, I know he's becoming all the rage on tumblr and the like...

But I loved him before I read Maze Runner. And I loved Maze Runner before I knew he was going to be Thomas. So, let's just say The Maze Runner is one of my favorite movies.

Okay, story time is over.

Hahaha. I'm kidding, I'm kidding.

So, when you are in line for a book signing, someone volunteering for YALLfest brings you sticky notes to write your name on so that the author won't mess up when signing your book.

via: Rachel Coker

I couldn't help myself.

3:00 struck and everyone in line was on their feet, excitement filling the air like static. My own stomach was flipping.

You can imagine the feels I had when James started to sign his/my book, read the sticky note, looked up at me and was like: "Lily..." then smiling and saying "I do actually have his number."

via: Rachel Coker

AGH. I was tempted to pickpocket his phone and run like a hoard of Grievers were after me.

I didn't. Don't worry. That little interaction was good enough for me :)

Well...I still would like his number - not gonna lie.


Saturday was the day full of panels and more signings.

Don't be jelly.

Especially not because we woke up at 4:00 AM, sat on the sidewalk in the freezing cold for five hours, and received blue wristbands. That part was only fun because we had great people to talk to and the promise of meeting Veronica Roth on the horizon.

After securing the wristbands on our shivering wrists, casting leering eyes at the fangirls, licking their chomps in anticipation, we scurried off to the opening keynote session. Not only were James Dashner and Sara Zarr there, but I was handed warm cider and a READING IS AWESOME poster.

The panel was hilarious. James Dashner can't keep his mouth shut without Sara on his shoulder, like a little angel. She talked to him about his life as a writer; how it began; how it felt to see Maze Runner for the first time. It was great.

via: Rachel Coker

As soon as that panel ended we scampered over to where Veronica was signing, got in line near the front, turned the corner, and THERE SHE WAS.

My life is complete.


And no, I will not try to odd.

To top off the wobbling tower of emotions, one of my childhood dreams came true.

I met Pseudonymous Bosch (Or his impostor. You never know...). He was just so cool and mysterious - dressed in black with dark shades and a beret tilted on his head, topped with a crescent roll.

I went all fangirly on him and followed him out the side door where his panel was, THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET and a pen in hand.

The last panel we went to was the Hollywood Stories Panel. Veronica Roth, Gayle Foreman, James Dashner, Melissa de la Cruz, Ann Brashares, and Kathy Reichs were seated on the stage, white lights of fame blazing down on them. Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia (Authors of Beautiful Creatures) were the moderators, asking all the questions involving the films and TV series, the actors, and the feels. It was probably my favorite panel of the day.

And that's all we were able to do, having missed our shot to buying tickets for the closing keynote and Smackdown. However, I will never forget that day in Charleston...or the sweet way it ended:

Rachel and I were about to get in her car, preparing to leave behind YALLfest with only the wonderful memories we made, when someone tapped my shoulder.

"Excuse me?"

I turned. It was Laini Taylor, pink hair and all. She smiled and continued to say how her daughter had spotted me earlier, saying I looked like Little Red Riding Hood, and that they kept seeing me throughout the day. Her daughter was wearing a little red cape, shyly standing behind her mother's leg. Laini then said how they were pretending that her daughter and I could be two Little Red Riding Hoods that save the city together.

I can't remember what my response was, but I think it was along the lines of "Awwwohmygoshthatissosweetthankyou".


And that, my friends, was the best weekend of my life.

YALLfest, I hope to see you again next year.

And (not to sound cheesy) "Thank You" to all the marvelous people who made this dream come true! The volunteers, the fangirls (and boys), the authors, Rachel, my parents for allowing me to go to another state without them, and my awesome Gramma.


Pictures via: Rachel Coker

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Here we go again...

NaNoWriMo did not go very well for me last year.

To say the least.

Last year I had an idea for a story - it was amazing. That was enough for me, I was going to do NaNoWriMo and write that book! 

I quit ONE WEEK into the month.

After consideration, here's three ways I went wrong:

1) The number one most horrific thing I did was read over my work at the end of the day. I'd fix it up, make it pretty, and then read over it again the next day before writing more. I came to hate my story. It was boring. I was a horrible writer. What was I thinking? Apparently I couldn't write a novel at all. There were many tears.

PLEASE DO NOT MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE. I hope you have more sense then I did, but just in case: DON'T EDIT AS YOU GO.

2) Writing was not my first priority. Call it procrastination, if you will, but after my schoolwork was done for the day and as the keyboard sat waiting for my tapping fingertips, I would do other stuff. Clean my room. Mop the kitchen floor. Anything to avoid writing, though not completely intentionally. I wanted to write; just "not right now".

3) I spent more time developing characters than the actual story. Sure, I had an original idea. Sure, I knew how the story would end. Sure, developing characters is very important.

But I spent hours, day after day, looking up pictures to represent my characters, cutting up magazines, reading inspirational quotes, and completely procrastinating from thinking about the plot.

Do I still look at pictures on Pinterest for inspiration? Um, of course.

Do I still cut a clothing and eyes out of magazines to paste on my characterization board? YES.

Do I still grin and get all jittery when I read a beautiful quote that makes me want to hide away from life and pour my soul out onto paper (or screen, whatever)? So much yes.

Do I still ignore my plot and the actual grittiness of writing a novel? To be completely truthful: Sometimes. However, this year, for NaNo, I'm taking a class with actual classmates and an actual teacher.

*shocked silence*

My teacher sends the class home with prompts and goals and grades them. So basically I'm getting school credit BY DOING NaNoWriMo, which is pretty awesome. Anyway, having this class and a devoted teacher has really helped me so far. I'm confident in my plot, adore my characters, and am itching for November 1st to arrive.


Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If you have a YWP account, add me as a buddy! I mean, if you want to, which you might not. Don't... Unless you really want to. So, just in case you do, which you might not, my username is lilyember.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cress by Marissa Meyer + skype fun!

For my Cinder review go here.

To read my Scarlet review go here.


My anticipation for this book was so insanely high that when it finally was in my hands I just held it and cried. So beautiful, so shiny...

The Lunar Chronicles is by far one of my favorite series (up there with Divergent, Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and the Books of Bayern). The last installment, Winter, won't be released until November of NEXT YEAR. My eyes tear up just thinking about it.


From Goodreads:

"In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has."


Oh. My. Gosh. I can't. Even. Describe. ALL THE FEELS.

We have Kai and Cinder feels. We have Wolf and Scarlet feels. We have Thorne and Cress feels. We have Iko feels. WE HAVE ALL THE FEELS.

Kai - Our young, dashing Emperor has his hands full with wedding plans and his head full of thoughts of Cinder :')

Cinder - She's learning how to control her glamor better, with some help from Wolf, and the crew is creating a plan to over-throw Levana and place Cinder on the throne. Cinder is still being conflicted with coming to terms with being the lost Lunar princess. If they succeed, her life will drastically change.

Wolf & Scarlet - I'm combining the two because we don't see much of them in this book. Plus, I can't say when we do see them because...spoilers.

Iko - Iko! Iko! Iko! Probably my favorite character. She's fun and lovable, and who doesn't love fun and lovable? Her role in this book is the steady, constant friend. The light moments in the dark. The humor; the laugh; the smile. Iko is perfect.

Thorne - *giggles* Oh, gosh. This witty good-looking-stud-of-a-man is just..yeah. We get a look into his past from Cress' perspective, which is a little distorted by her crush on him, so that's great. Since he's Cress' love interest he's in the majority of the book. Ladies, we get a lot of Thorne time.

Cress - Although a tad naive, Cress is a super fun character to read. She's not dumb, but all of her knowledge comes from the internet, and we all know how untrustworthy that can be. Her character definitely grows, but anyone leaving their home for the first time kind of has to.

Levana - I can't wait to read Fairest, which is Meyer's prequel story about Levana. She is a very interesting perspective to read from and I really want more of her side of the story. In Cress we get a few looks into Levana's head, and I have a feeling we'll get even more in Winter.


Have you read this book yet? Have you read ANY of them? Let me tell you a thing:


5 gazillion stars





That's right. Be jealous ;)

I love my library. The people there are great and they set up Skype talks with authors and it's basically book heaven. I asked Marissa Meyer a ton of questions about writing, but there were a couple non-writing-related answers of hers I want to share...(This is not word-for-word, just from my memory and notes.)

1) I know you relate most to Cress, but if you could be like any other character, who would it be?

She laughed and said, "None! I do such horrible things to them!"

 "Personality wise, then," I laughed.

"Then...Iko. She's so fun and perky and I just love her."

2) Any chance we'll be seeing the Lunar Chronicles as movies?

"Yes! Someone has the rights right now and I could get a call any day!"

"REALLY?!? How do you feel about that?"

"Of course I'm excited! It would be amazing."



If anyone is interested in her writing tips, she posts on her blog sometimes! She just did a series called "From Idea to Finished" which is very informative and helpful.


This was a dream come true.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Glorious Mess That Is My Life

I don't post many personal things on this blog.

I tell myself: "Nobody on the internet wants to read about some silly teenager's life. Books. Books are what they want to hear about."

This morning I slept in. Yes, I'm homeschooled - so why should it matter? I can do school and chores and friend stuff whenever, because my schedule is SO flexible.


At least, not since school started back up. Co-op classes with homework that's actually DUE on a certain day. A church campout this weekend, which requires packing and squeezing into our snug SUBURBAN. Family coming to visit, so CLEANING and SHOPPING and SCHOOL. 

I might have a break to breath in a few weeks, but THEN.


A never ending spiral dragging me further and further into the depths of I JUST CAN'T DO IT ANYMORE.

Monday morning brought tears. Buckets and buckets of tears and pounding headaches and eyes squeezed shut. I was so sure the next two weeks would be stressful and emotionally draining. I wanted it to simply STOP. 

(What brought on this sudden spillage of my soul to the internet? Partly, I knew that writing it all down would help me in my own little way, but it also happens that a friend of mine has had a straining couple of days as well. Her blog post inspired me to do my own, and I hope that somehow mine will likewise inspire and uplift someone. I'll leave a link to her post at the end...)

My mom. Me darling mum. Nodding and admitting to have been struggling with everything I was struggling with, simply said, "One day at a time. That's all we can do."

No. No, I couldn't do that. Life was in chaos and I wanted A PLAN. I wanted the next two weeks to line themselves up in front of me so I could examine each one and determine everything necessary for making them wonderful and smooth. 

I called a friend and ranted. After we hung up with "Love you"s and "Everything will be fine" I realized how ridiculous I was reacting to it all.

Life is a mess. There is nothing I can do about the school and the cleaning and the planning, except take it in bunches. Week by week; Day by day. 

But, even that is useless if I'm trying to do it on my own. It's not until I said "Okay, Lord. These next few weeks are in your hands...just like my life that I have promised to you" that the stress began to slowly roll off my shoulders, droplet by droplet.

I still have a load of unfinished homework due tomorrow. And days of schoolwork to catch up on. And a campout to help my mom pack for. And family visiting. And a book to write. And authors to see. And food to eat. And friends to hang out with. And a family to love.

All those aspects have their ups and downs. Some more than others, but this is my life. It isn't some temporary existence to slug my way through. 

It's my life, given to me from God for a purpose. A beautiful, nerve-racking purpose...


found on pinterest

(Rachel's post:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In Summer...

You know what?

Just because you have a blog...

Doesn't mean you'll get around to writing on it every week...

If you're lazy...

Like me.

I know, right?


So, either I need to make a commitment and stick with it, or I need to loosen up a bit and not set my expectations so high.

I want to post 2-3 times a month. Hopefully, with this being my busiest school year yet, I can find the time to do that. We'll see.


Summer has come and gone in a flash, and I'm left with a bit of nostalgia. I've done so many things in the past three months - things that, two-years-ago I would have thought I'd NEVER experience. I thank God all the time for my amazing family and friends (Especially my friends. They're awesome.)

Masquerade Ball, May 2014

downtown + cupcakes = <3

Busch Gardens


at the dock

Credit to Rachel Coker Photography for these next pics.

Birthday fun with this cutie

He Best Trio


our fourth bff

Hope you enjoyed a little peak into my summer, you stalkers ;)

Goodbye, Summer!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

CAMP by Elaine Wolf

(Description from Elaine Wolf's site)

A coming-of-age novel about bullying, family relationships, and the collateral damage of secrets.

Every secret has a price.

For most girls, sleep away camp is great fun. But for Amy Becker, it’s a nightmare. Amy, whose home life is in turmoil, is sent to Camp Takawanda for Girls for the first time as a teenager. Although Amy despises spending summers at home with her German-immigrant mother, who is unduly harsh with Amy’s autistic younger brother, Amy is less than thrilled about going away to camp. At Takawanda she is subjected to a humiliating “initiation” and to relentless bullying by the ringleader of the senior campers. As Amy struggles to stop the mean girls from tormenting her, she becomes more confident. But then her cousin reveals dark secrets about Amy’s mother’s past, setting in motion a tragic event that changes Amy and her family forever.

CAMP is a compelling family drama that will resonate with teen and adult readers. It will be a strong addition to recommended reading and summer reading lists, and it is appropriate for anti-bullying programs. Mostly, though, CAMP is a mother-daughter story for mothers and daughters to share.

Perfect for all book groups.

Ages 12 and up.

Publisher: Sky Pony Press (June 1, 2012)


My Review:

I wasn't sure what to expect when I dove into the world of Camp. For one, I've never been to a sleep-away camp. Blame it on being homeschooled if you want, but the whole "staying-with-a-bunch-of-people-I-don"t-even-know-for-the-whole-summer" thing seems pretty daunting, even though I'm probably one of the most people-person persons you may ever have the chance of meeting.

Let me tell you a thing.

Read this book.


This book shovels up the gritty truth of growing up and overcoming the obstacles in a life that is stock full of them. I admit that at first I marveled at the horrible actions of some of the characters. Do people really act like that? I wondered. How can anyone be so cruel and power hungry? How can a mother not see when her child is suffering?

I guess I've been taking for granted the life I have. Sure, sometimes my parents don't seem to understand me. Sure, I've participated in teen drama. And sure, I might get the feeling someone doesn't like me.

But some people have it SO much worse.

Now, you may be thinking "Um, it's a book. Those aren't real people and real situations".

You're correct. No matter how much life we pump into fictional characters, there's just no possible way for them to lift of the pages and become a living, fleshly thing. There might not be anyone in this world who have had a life as trialing as Amy Becker's, but I refuse to believe that.

I know the Mrs.Wolf and her publishers agreed that this book is appropriate for ages 12 and up, but with the uncomfortable sexual references and brief scenes I would only recommend this to a VERY mature 12-year-old who's parents said it was okay. I am not personally acquainted with any such 12-year-old, so my recommended age would be:

Ages 14+

And I give this book:

5 stars



I recently joined a teen book club being held at my local library. Our book for the month of June was Camp by Elaine Wolf... and my club had the privilege of Skyping with Mrs. Wolf!

I was pretty darn excited, to say the least. On the way to the meeting I jotted down some writing questions I had for her and was completely satisfied with her answers.


(Note: These are not Elaine Wolf's actual words, just her advice to me written from the memories in my head and the notes on my paper)

Question #1

What advice could you give about time management, especially directed toward teens who are in school and have responsibilities within their home?

Use your weekends. (I think I forgot to mention I was homeschooled...) focus on school during the week and writing on the weekends.

When working on a novel, try to accomplish two keep-able pages per day.

Another tip she had was to write the first paragraph of any story/chapter by hand.

Question #2

How can someone with no experience of being bullied (in love, having cancer, etc.) be able to write those scenes and emotions in depth?

Imagination is key

Anything you read, hear, see - it's yours to use.

Go out and "borrow" people's experiences.

Question #3

Were you ever worried about people being offended by the sexual content in Camp? Where is the line between addressing a subject and going too far?

I remember her smiling at this.

Writing Camp, she never worried "am I going too far?". The story grew very organically and fleshed itself out as she wrote. Some schools have told her that they would love to put Camp on their reading lists, but were worried that parents would be against it. My parents would probably be against me reading it, if I were younger. I hope that schools can get this book on their lists, and that kids can share it and their thoughts with their parents.


And a big "thank you" to Mrs. Wolf for bearing with my questions and encouraging me on my journey as a young writer. You were very inspiring to talk to :)

Friday, June 27, 2014

TFIOS Movie Review

Check out my book review here: TFIOS by John Green

I'm a movie watcher. Say what you like about it frying my brain, but that won't change the fact: I really love movies. So much so, that if one is in the theater that I especially like I'll see it a couple times (or several...).

I've been to see TFIOS twice: The first time with my mum, and the second with my friends. I'll probably end up seeing it again in the near future.

If you're wondering, I did cry. Hard.

Heck, I cried the first time I saw the trailer and shed a small tear every time I re-watch it.

I'm just a very emotional person, okay?


Now, my thoughts on the movie...

As for following the book - a big thumbs up! It was pretty much perfect in my eyes.

Casting - Ansel wasn't quite the Augustus I imagined, but he did well. After a conversation with a friend of mine, we agreed that "Movie Gus" was more cocky than confident. But hey, what can you do?

Shai was an amazing Hazel. A+ on casting her!

Truthfully though, it's kind of uncomfortable that Ansel and Shai are brother and sister in Divergent. It just weirds me out.

Even though in the book Isaac is blonde, I still loved him in the movie.

I don't think I can complain much, the cast was marvelous. The movie was beautiful. The feels were real.

(Note: The sex scene was just a tad uncomfortable to watch and seemed to last longer than I'd have liked)

Besides the movie being great, I think we can all agree that John Green is just really cool. I love how involved he was in the making of it. And I just really like him. He's one awesome guy.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...