Monday, February 25, 2019

Silver Screen Dreams

It is time for book two in the My Korean Crush Series: Silver Screen Dreams by Jennie Bennett. Oh how I loved this book. There is nothing quite like falling in love with the guy next door (or across the street in my case). And when you throw in a hot movie star who has his eye on you, well it leads to a super fun adventure that you won't be able to put down.

From Amazon:

Summer Henley is sick of playing it safe. Safe career path (accounting,) safe place to live (with her parents,) and a safe best friend (Mark.) 

In her dreams she was a screenwriter with a home in a Malibu and a hot actor boyfriend, but that was saved in her someday file. For the moment, she’d play the part of a good worker, good daughter, and good friend. Even though her heart longed for something more, especially with Mark.

It wouldn’t be so hard to stay just friends if Mark would quit being so amazing to her. Knowing her dream, he’s secured her a spot as an extra in Korean television show, placing her directly in the path of the handsome lead actor. Now, two incredible men are vying for her attention and she has to decided if her dreams are really what she wants, or if her reality is better than she could ever imagine.

Jennie is amazing when it comes to bringing romance to the page. I loved watching Summer's dilemma and seeing the great final outcome. These books are perfect for K-drama lovers and really anyone who wants a good, clean romance (yes, you teen can read this and you don't have to worry). I love all the books in the series, but this one is my favorite favorite so far. Get your copy here!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

My Korean Crush Series Book 1

As promised, I'm back and am excited to share the first book in the My Korean Crush Series with everyone: Flower Boy Tour Guide by Shannon Kent.

When K-Drama Anonymous announced this book series I was super excited. I love all things K-drama and I love to read, so books that have flower boy oppas that make you swoon are like chocolate for me. This book did not disappoint. Here is the premise as taken from Amazon:

Flower Boy: noun 1. slang for a really hot guy 

Hannah Reynolds travels to Korea in search of her own drama hero come to life. What she gets instead is gorgeous, but surly tour guide, Jae Lee. He seems determined to ruin every romantic location they visit with his snarky comments, but Hannah can’t deny the crackling tension between them. 

As they travel around the country with a busload of wacky K-drama and K-pop fans, their chemistry keeps drawing the two together. Hannah sees the mountain of problems standing between her and a relationship with Jae. They live in different countries. She’s flying home in five days. And he always takes an emotional step back whenever they get closer. But her heart doesn’t want to listen to reason. All it can see is the flower boy tour guide.

The romance is fun, but the thing I love the most about this book are all the "wacky" K-drama fans. The author has created a handful of fun, unique characters that put a smile on your face from beginning to end. The hi-jinx that these ladies create will have you laughing. And, not to spoil anything, but the friendships formed are so amazing that another book was created from them. 

As with each book in this series, you can read them in any order as they each stand on their own, but this book is a great place to start. So if you love K-Dramas and need a good read, go get yourself a copy using the link above. And if you have never ventured into the world of K-dramas/K-Pop then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. 

Just for Fun:

Who would you want to have as your very own Flower Boy Tour Guide?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

My Korean Crush Series

Four years ago my friend Rebecca showed up on my doorstep with some bulgogi and told me I had to watch a K-drama with her. The rest is history. I was hooked. K-dramas are the best. They are fun, cute, romantic, and all the feels! I probably should state that they are not the only reason I took a break from blogging (but they might have been one of the reasons--man it is hard to stop once you get into a show). Life has been busy. I also went from being an Administrative Assistant to being the Coordinator of Academic Quality Assurance to now being the Manger of the Curriculum Department for a major university. The largest one in my state. I also took classes on the side and got my Certificate of Proficiency in Editing and Document Design. And I have done A LOT of editing--and a little writing. But K-dramas have been my release. They are my wind down time. My stress relievers.

A few months ago--that same lovely friend invited me to join a group on Facebook full of K-drama fans. The rest is history. Now not only do I get to watch K-dramas, I have a whole community of amazing people to talk to about them. So when some of the girls in the group started a book series--My Korean Crush--of course I was interested. And so I read the books. Each one as they have come out and I have to say--they are awesome. Over the next few weeks I will review each book in the series so any of you reading this will know you have to have a copy for yourself. In fact, trust me, you don't need my reviews. Just go to Amazon and get them! But if you want to know what I have to say then tune back in real soon (no really, I won't get lost in Dramaworld and never do another blog). Until then happy writing, happy reading, and happy K-dramaing!

Monday, May 9, 2016

I'm Not Wonder Woman--And That's Okay

Once upon a time I was Wonder Woman. I was one of those people who could do 8 million things at once and still find time to read a book. I went to school and pulled straight A’s, I had two part time jobs, I had three very active kids that I ran all over the state and sometimes even to other states for soccer games, I kept my house clean--well except for laundry because really, even Wonder Woman knows laundry is a never ending battle--made dinner, scrubbed my toilets every Saturday, blogged regularly, and still had time to write 1500-2000 words a day.

Life was good.

And then one day it wasn’t.

I’d dealt with different forms of chronic aches and pains for years and just figured it was part of life. I felt like I had a fairly high pain threshold so I just downed a few Excedrin with a Dr. Pepper if I needed relief and went on my way. Around January 2014 the pain started to get worse and I found myself tired no matter what I did. Concentrating on one task, let alone my usual twenty at a time, became excruciating. A job that should have taken 10 minutes would span on for hours, I stopped reading anything that I didn’t absolutely have to for work because I’d find myself having to reread things five to six times to even remember what I’d just read, and writing? Forget about it. I couldn’t come up with 10 words a day let alone 2000.

I’d graduated in December of 2012 and was now working full time. I was also still doing a part time editing job, along with kids, husband, house, and all the other jobs a mom has. Throughout Spring and Summer 2014 I kept telling myself that I just needed a vacation. I was certain if I could make it to August when my mom, sister, and I were taking my son and my nephew to Germany, everything would be fine.

Germany was great. I got to sleep in, didn’t have to do anything but eat, shop, explore, and spend time with family. It was completely stress free and wonderful. I still was a little tired and had my bottle of ibuprofen on hand at all times, but I really thought that if I could just relax for a little longer everything would go back to normal.

Two days before I was set to come home (because of work I had to come home a week before everyone else) we went to Berlin. I woke up excited, but with a weird pain in my chest. I popped a couple of pain pills and went on my way. As the day went on, as much as I was enjoying the city, the pain got worse and worse, spreading down my arm, and making it even hard to breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack. So of course I did the stupidest thing possible (I was no longer Wonder Woman anymore so I didn’t have to be smart), I didn’t tell anyone how much pain I was in or my rather alarming symptoms, and just went on with the next two days until they dropped me off at the airport and I gave my little boy a huge hug goodbye.

Then I went to the terminal and silently cried--in pain, but also in fear because something was seriously wrong and I was alone in a foreign country and what would happen if it really was a heart attack and we were over the Atlantic and I would never see anyone again and…          

I survived Munich, Reykjavik, and Denver Airports and was still alive when I finally made it home. But I was glad I’d planned one recovery day before I was due back at work. The morning after I got home I went to the doctor. After a few tests he determined that I was not having a heart attack, but was having a severe case of costochondritis--inflammation of the rib cage. I just needed rest, ibuprofen, and time.

Two weeks later when it still felt like someone was probing my chest with a knife blade, and when the fatigue returned with vengeance I was back in the doctor’s office. After several more tests I got the news: Fibromyalgia. The good news the doctor said was that overall I was fairly healthy and should live a long time. The bad news was that I would be in chronic pain and fatigue for the rest of my life.

And so I went through the next year struggling to get out of bed each morning, collapsing when I got home from work, not being able to focus on pretty much anything, and gaining almost 40 pounds because all I could do all day was sit at my desk and make it home to collapse on the couch.

By this time I just knew pain and fatigue were part of my life, and I really had no choice but to deal with it. But around August of 2015, something strange began to happen. I would get up to go to the bathroom during the workday and it felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was walking down the hall, but my head felt as if it was watching me walk and not really there with me. Also I could never stand up without getting extremely dizzy--even to the point of blacking out a few times.

It turns out I had a completely unrelated health problem--extremely low blood pressure (which my mom has so I probably should have been more aware of it, but I was no longer smart, remember?) My fibro was also getting worse, which meant I needed to stop using Dr. Pepper as my wake up fix because sugar was becoming a no no. It also meant no artificial sweeteners--so diet soda was out of the question (which was fine by me because, gross!). My doctor actually recommended a cup of coffee every morning, but absolutely no caffeine after 2pm.

I tried it for a few days--but I am not a coffee lover. I had to gag the stuff down which made me not want to do it, so I went back to my Dr. Pepper fixes just trying to have them not too late at night. I did this because let’s face it, changing your diet is hard, and it wasn’t like I had a deadly disease, so I mean who cared if I had a low quality of life? It was better that than giving up Dr. Pepper and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, right?

I made it through the holiday season with good days and bad. I would quit soda for a week and then need just one, which would completely addict me again. In January I actually quit for a whole month, but allowing myself one for my birthday threw me back into the caffeine mood. Soda was my drug of choice. I always joked, I could give up bread no problem, but Dr. Pepper--no way.

And then I got a new pain.

Turned out I had arthritis in my hip. So that was super fun. Again, not deadly, but my quality of life was just spiraling down down down. I couldn’t go out back and play soccer with the kids. I hated myself in any and all pictures. I could barely muster up the strength to go to my much needed GNO/Writing Group once a week. I just wanted to sleep.

It was then that my friend sent me a TED presentation on achieving your goals. It was exactly what I needed to watch. For some reason, that was the spark that made me want to change. I’d read enough to know that fibro could be managed (a lot better than I was managing it, even if I tried to tell myself that at least I was able to get out of bed most days--Sundays became my actual day of rest, sleeping pretty much all day to recover from the week.

It was time to start reaching my goals. To get my life back. I decided of all the lifestyle plans I could choose, Primal made the most sense to me. So, a little over two weeks ago I took the plunge and cut all processed foods, soda, added sugars, and grains from my diet. I eat healthy fats, lean meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits. In two weeks I lost 10 pounds and 9 inches. That has been an added bonus. But the real benefit has been that I have gone from a full dose of pain meds daily, to only have ibuprofen once in the last two weeks. (Because once the fibro pain stopped, I realized that I had tennis (mouse) elbow.) But even that is survivable.

Point is, I’m loving the way I’m feeling, and I want to keep it up. So I am going to blog again--sometimes about my fibro journey, sometimes about editing/writing, and sometimes about my accomplishments, because after a year and a half of feeling like I had no life, I have one back--and I want to keep it. The doctor said I would live a long time--I plan to do it in comfort. I'm not Wonder Woman anymore, and that is okay. I just plan on being a pain free me for as long as I possibly can.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Starting Over

It is never fun to start from the beginning when you thought you were finished with something. But sometimes it is necessary. That is where I am right now. I finished a full draft of my novel Room for Two last year, but there were a few major problems in the plot and it turns out that editing just wasn't cutting it. So I broke down and finally did a full chapter by chapter outline.

And here I am. Staring at a blank file. Ready to rewrite this novel from scratch. 

It is a little nerve wracking. I am, however, looking forward to the challenge. A second write is always refreshing in the fact that I know my characters so much better than I did the first time through. It is amazing how much easier Elle's voice shines through. It is also terrifying because I can't help but think: Is this really the last time I am going to have to rewrite this book?

This is the second time I have chosen to rewrite an entire book from scratch. I claim it is because I am a discovery writer, and in some ways I am, but after outlining this time around I finally see the benefits of nailing down some key points before you start writing with just an idea in mind. Still you gotta do what works for you.

So how about it? Are you an outliner or a write by the seat of your pants type? Whatever gets those words down on paper--best of luck!

Write On!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

Things have been a little busy here in Berlinland, but I have not forgotten my blog. Since Throwback Thursday is such a hit on FaceBook I thought I'd give it a try and post an old article I wrote for Eschler Editing. If you like it you can go see more great articles here.

I especially love that this talks about how Caroline should end up with Klaus. Funny how time can change everything. She should totally get together with Stefan! (I'm like 5 episodes behind this season, so if she does--don't spoil it for me!)

Team, Who Cares?

Love Triangles in YA Fiction

by Sabine Berlin
Bella had her Edward … and Jacob? Katniss had her Peeta … and Gale? Elana had her Stefan … and Damon? Love triangles are everywhere in YA fiction, but I’ve recently seen tweets and comments that they are done. I’m not sure I completely agree with that. Teenage girls love a good love triangle. They like picking a team and arguing it with their friends at lunch, over Facebook, on the way to soccer practice. Unfortunately, teenage girls are not the ones who will be publishing your book. Agents and editors are tired of “the same old girl can choose between two hot, perfect guys and what will she do?” story. So where does that leave you? Before you cross out one of your characters to avoid a love triangle, take a step back and see what works—and what doesn’t.

The Don’ts

  1. Don’t let your protagonist be a tease. Yes, there might be more than one guy who’s right for her. But don’t have her kissing boy A in one scene and then kissing boy B in the next. All this does is make us lose respect for the main character. So she has a crush on two guys. So she needs to spend time with each of them to sort out her feelings. Fine. But there are ways of realizing which is the right guy that don’t involve playing back-to-back games of tonsil hockey.
  2. Don’t let her fall for the bad boy just because he’s hot. There isn’t a whole lot better than a hot bad boy. But that doesn’t mean your character should be with a bad boy, no matter how much you want her to. With that being said, if you give your bad boy a great story line, all of a sudden he isn’t just hot—he’s misunderstood. So if you’re determined that your girl needs to fall for the bad biker boy because he’s just too beautiful for words, then at least give him a personality to match.
  3. Don’t make it too easy to predict who she’ll be with. Why is it that there’s always a great guy who loves her until super-hot (insert the paranormal creature of your desire here) boy comes along and sweeps her off her feet? And why is it that even though he’s a cocky pain in the neck, he’s so super-hot that of course she’ll pick him? Yeah, don’t do that.
  4. Don’t make the plot of the book be about a love triangle. Make sure your book has real conflict in it that isn’t just about who the girl will pick. Give us a plot. Give us real conflict. And then if you can use that conflict to further the intensity of your love triangle, great—but don’t use your love triangle to further the intensity of your plot.

The Do’s

  1. Do give your guys decent backstories. If you’re going to have your girl be wishy-washy in trying to decide who to love, make sure that there’s a compelling reason for her to love each guy beyond the fact that one or both of them is super-hot. I can’t think of a single Pride and Prejudice adaptation where I started watching and thought Mr. Darcy was hot, but by the end of each one I am completely smitten—and not just because of the accent! We love Mr. Darcy because he isn’t just pretty and rich. He is human. He makes mistakes, he is proud, he is a little bit of a snob, but in the end he has reasons for why he acts the way he does. Mr. Darcy has personality.
  2. Do understand the difference between being in love and being in attraction. Attraction in this case goes even deeper than looks. Your MC (main character) can find herself attracted to more than one guy. Love requires sacrifice; it requires putting the other person ahead of you no matter the cost. Love isn’t romantic getaways and moonlit walks on the beach; it is soul searching, heart giving, for better or worse, never ending. Your teen MC might not know that at the start, but by the end of the book she’d better have it figured out.
  3. Do let Guy B find his own set of happiness. If you are going to have a love triangle where two guys are both perfect, the least you can do is make sure they both are happy. Sure, there are other ways you can deal with Guy B. You can kill him off, turn him into a jerk, or worse, turn him into an evil jerk. But if you’re going to spend the series building up both guys, then why not let them both be alive and well at the end?
  4. Do let your guys respect one another on some level. Love triangles where the guys hate each other are too cliché. If your MC really respects both guys and they really hate each other, doesn’t that tip her off that one or both of them are really jerks? In that case, she shouldn’t be with either of them. But what if they respect each other—maybe are even friends? All of a sudden the reader isn’t certain which way she wants it to go.
Good, unique love triangles aren’t going anywhere—not any time soon—and that’s fine with me. I love debating every week whether Elena should be with Damon or Stefan. (We all know Caroline should be with Klaus, so there’s really no love triangle there.) If you’re going to write a love triangle, be unique, make us care, and give us a story that would still be completely worth reading—even if there was no love triangle.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

This is the third and final book in the Anna and the French Kiss series. The main characters are Isla and Josh who were both featured in the first book.

Isla and Josh have a lot in common. They both attend The American School in Paris, they both are New Yorkers, they both love comics, and it turns out they both have had a secret crush on each other for the past four years. Unfortunately, Josh has been in a relationship for most of that time and so Isla has had to admire from afar, but when she sees him sitting inside Kismet over summer vacation, finally girlfriendless, she figures this is her chance--or actually the pain meds from having her wisdom teeth pulled make her loopy enough to plop down at his table and strike up a conversation.

And so begins a whirlwind romance that takes us from New York to Paris to Barcelona and back.

I liked this book, but not as much as I liked the other two. One thing Stephanie Perkins is awesome at is description. I could totally picture Cafe Kismet in New York, the treehouse in Paris, and the steets of Barcelona--and I want to go to each of those places now!

The biggest downfall for this book was that there really wasn't much of a plot. Yes, it is a romance and we get that, but the other two books felt like they had real stories, and this one didn't. I liked Josh, but there wasn't nearly enough of him. And yes, this is Isla's story, but to be honest, I didn't really care for her. Not the way I found myself rooting for Anna and Lola in the previous books. When the book ended I really had no idea what Josh saw in her.

Still the other two are must reads, so if you are like me and have to finish the trilogy you will probably read this one and just know while it isn't all that,
it isn't all bad. Hey, it is definitely better than Mockingjay was so at least you won't want to be hitting your head on a brick wall when you finish it!