Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Adventure Tourism Round 2 & 3

So because I'm the worst, this is going to contain Adventures 2 & 3. But I'm also excusing myself due to it being the last three weeks of school, and I've gone down the rabbit hole and the burning light is near and all those cliches. So anyway...ADVENTURING!

Last week was probably the most adventurous, bravest moment of my entire life. Not the hiking part. The hike was beautiful. We traversed 2.5 miles from Rainbow Lake, which is mossy and spectacular, all the way up to Edwards Point, a huge cliff at the tip top of Signal Mountain. The trail up to this place is super rocky and muddy, so I do not recommend for people with bad joints or bad balance (yes, I include myself in that category, which is why my ankle is now slightly messed up). However, the view was absolutely, 100% worth it. We could see into Chattanooga and the river bend. Absolutely lovely. But here comes the adventurous part. I repelled down the cliff. Yep, little old me went over the edge. I don't live life on the edge, guys. I live over it. Ha! I will say, it took me a VERY long time to convince myself to do it, and granted, I did not do it well. I got over the edge just fine. It was the holding onto the rope and controlling my speed that got me. After 3 surgeries on my right wrist, I don't have too much grip strength in my right hand. But here's a tip--lean back more than you think you can. Leaning forward just makes you go free falling down the cliff, which I did. But I did it, and I'm extremely proud of myself. Probably will never do it again. But I recommend doing it at least once in your life time, at the very least for the free falling adrenaline.

Then today, though I thought we were going climbing, we actually ended up canoeing down Nickajack Lake, which is actually not a lake at all but a reservoir with train tracks running through the water. It was quite windy and freezing this morning to be out on the choppy water, but again, it was beautiful and a lot of fun. I sat in the front for the first half of our ride, and believe me, I feel it in my shoulders for sure. But we paddled to these sloping cliffs where people typically Free Solo Climb and then leap into the water safely without fear of hitting any rocks. We would've done it--I would've done it (badly)--but it was ridiculously cold so the class unanimously passed on that opportunity.

On the way back to the dock, in our boat of friends, we competed with the rest of the boats on who was going to win, though they didn't know that. We definitely cut a few people off several times. Even though I was sitting in the middle at this point and wasn't supposed to be paddling, I paddled anyway so that we came in a strong second place in a competition that only existed in our minds. This was probably the best day by far.

(Fun Sidenote, one of the leader's boats started pulling out a net and a life vest, and we are 50% sure that there very well might be a body at the bottom of the lake..............)

So who knows what's going to happen next week! But I hope you continue along for the last two weeks of my adventures (that includes college as a whole...what?!?!)

Happy Trails,
     HER 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Adventures in Adventure Tourism

My bestie roommate and I are finally getting to take another class together as a last hurrah before we graduate, and even though I am infamously the klutziest person ever, I agreed to the Adventure Tourism class. It wouldn't start until halfway through the semester, which was awesome, and it was designated time for some physical activity while checking off some bucket list items to do in Chattanooga before I leave. Today was our first adventure, and yes, I nearly died.

Mountain Biking. Chattanooga has some amazing mountains. We were voted the number one Outdoor City in America, and all I've really done is hike and paddleboard once, which inevitably ended with me falling in. I'm not a biker...the last time I seriously rode a bike was maybe 10 years ago. So yes, I was terrified. I told my mom, "If I die, tell Buddy (my dog) I love him."

We went to Enterprise South Nature Park, which is technically in Ooltewah, but it had a "nice, easy beginner," bike path. Lies. It might've been easy but not for beginners. So despite falling off several times, crashing into a couple trees, sliding down the mountain for just a slight moment, and wounding myself a couple times, I FINALLY got into a rhythm and was able to ride for a long time and just cruise down the hills and enjoy the natural beauty.

The best image was when we rode into this nice tunnel of pine trees--absolutely gorgeous! I wish I had more balance that I could've taken a picture of it. I even stuck the last cruising hill without crashing! Woo, success.

Then, before we headed back to campus, we walked up to an abandoned bunker where they stored weapons, and it was one of the creepiest, most surreal moments. The echoes in there were absolutely wild! I could see how someone could go insane from the noises reverberating in their brain. My friend stood at one side of the room, while I was at the other, and whispered, and I heard it clear as day!

But yes, mountain biking was quite the adventure. I will be quite sore after the 3 1/2 miles, but I did enjoy the new experience. Stay tuned next week for hiking and repelling...yes, I am also terrified for that.

Go adventure!
      HER

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Book Review: Odd One Out by Nic Stone

A few weeks ago, Star Line received an ARC of Nic Stone's upcoming release, Odd One Out, which will drop on October 9th, 2018. So naturally, I grabbed it first cause I love this mermaid novelist.

I absolutely devoured this book. Stone's first release Dear Martin was a timely novel in reaction to the brutality & stereotyping against African American men, specifically young men. Odd One Out is the novel that Stone wished she'd had when she was a teen as she was figuring out who she was. This story follows the narratives of three friends, two old and one new. Courtney Cooper is a lovable basketball player, who, though he could have any girl he desired, wants his best friend Jupiter Charity-Sanchez, who also happens to like girls. Then Rae Chin moves into town and forms a wedge down through the Jupe-and-Coop duo.
After her parents divorce, her mother choosing to leave, and her older sister abandoning her, Rae is all kinds of messed up, and the only way she can keep it together is to keep on smiling and pleasing everyone. But as she becomes closer to Cooper and Jupiter, they force her to question her people-pleasing tendencies and confront the root of her problems--the day that everything fell to shambles.
Which just happens to be the same day that Cooper's dad was killed in a car accident while Cooper and his mom were at the same famous kid-scientist show in Atlanta.
Through their common connection, Cooper and Rae grow closer as they try to solve a mystery and come to terms with their own traumas. Meanwhile Rae and Jupiter have a hard time ignoring their natural chemistry, which just mixes up everyone's brains. And then there's the undeniable connection between Jupe-and-Coop, which has been building up over a lifetime.
Who loves who? Who's supposed to love who? What if who you thought you were isn't who you are at all, or only a small part of you?

Being a teenager is one of the most confusing times in a person's life, hands down. Yes, we're still figuring it all out when we're in our twenties, sometimes 30s & 40s and so on, and that's okay. But the teen years are when we really start to develop who we are deep down inside. Nic Stone weaves three tales into one with her precise, witty dialogue and unique, lively characters that pull at your heartstrings.

I can't wait to see what Nic does next. If you haven't read Dear Martin yet, be sure to check it out before Odd One Out's release in October!

Happy Reading,
      HER 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Happy International Women's Day!

What a wonderful day! I'm extremely grateful for all the women who have played a direct role in  my life. My mother, of course, is a superstar after raising me on top of all she does for her community. My mom's friends who have been my adopted aunts and loved me and been there for-- I appreciate you all. My real aunts who are all superstars, beautiful, loving, hilarious, and educated--I'm beyond thankful for them.
I have a group of kickbutt powerful friends who are all going to do some amazing things in the future, if they haven't already done so now (which many of them have).
But this blog is about books and bookish things. I have been greatly influenced over the years by the women authors whose books I have devoured. They are my inspiration, my goals, my dreams in every way, and if I hadn't seen them doing it in such an amazing way, I wouldn't have had the courage to do it myself. And I of course, wouldn't have my sanity right now if it weren't for Star Line Books, which is only here because of the stupendous owner Star. She's a flurry of energy, and I love her with all my heart.
I also got this courage through my awesome Ascension team. My publisher, Valarie Budayr, I don't even know how to fully describe because she is just full of wonderful surprises with all her many talents. She inspires me every day and keeps me going in this world. My editor Mallory is another superwoman warrior who does amazing work on my book and makes them sparkle and shine.

These are some of the female writers who have influenced my writing:

Maggie Stiefvater: The Raven Cycle
                               Shiver series
                               All the Crooked Saints 
                             
Richelle Mead:      Vampire Academy series

Cornelia Funke:     Inkheart Trilogy

Karen Russell:       Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Nic Stone:              Dear Martin

Ruta Sepetys:         Out of the Easy 
                               Salt to the Sea 

Jamie Quatro:         Fire Sermon 

Courtney Stevens:  Dress Codes for Small Towns

Sybil Baker:           Immigration Essays (and a professor of mine)

Natalie Lloyd:        The Problim Children 
                                The Key to Extraordinary

Bren McLain:         One Good Mama Bone

Libba Bray:            The Diviners series

Jane Austen:           Pride & Prejudice

Margaret Stohl:      Beautiful Creatures (and Kami Garcia)
                               Black Widow 
                               Royce Rolls

Emily Mandel:       Station 11

Leigh Bardugo:      Grisha trilogy
                               Six of Crows Duology 
                               Wonder Woman: Warbringer

Julie Murphy:        Ramona Blue
                               Dumplin'

Melissa Marr:        Wicked Lovely series

Julie Kagawa:        Iron Fey series 

Thanks to all these amazing women for shaping my writing! Now go read their work so they can write more :)

Love,
   HER 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Magical Realism and Why I Love It

So if you've read Ascension, you have read magical realism in a way. Constance Grady's article out today in Vox Magazine about Gabriel Garcia Marquez defines magical realism as, "a literary genre that’s grounded in reality but in which miraculous and magical things may happen at any moment." So the fact that a whole community of vampires, Deuxsang, and witches live among humans in the real world in real time is absolutely magical realism. 
Now, magical realism, as with all genres, can be done in different ways. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is one of the most influential magical realism writers from Colombia, takes magical realism in a slightly different direction. If he were to have written a vampire novel during his lifetime, the vampires would not have been hidden, as they are in nearly every vampire novel. They would've been part of life as we know it and something fantastical, like them having the ability to will blood out of their victims and travel to them rather than them actually having to dirty their own hands--I imagine that's how he would write his vampires. 
I didn't realize that I was writing magical realism until I got to college and really until a couple years ago. I learned the term and read a Marquez story, and I was discussing it with my publisher when she said, "Well, yeah, that's where your niche is, I think." And after she said that, it was like the world opened up. It's true. While I love reading realistic fiction because there's some amazing work out there right now, I love magic and fantasy even more--but to work it into our world in a way that's completely normal and acceptable is amazing to me. Because if you think about it, the world is magical and full of phenomenons--we just don't always take time to notice them. 
Magical realism is no easy task. As Gabriel Marquez said, "A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.” Some people are hard to convince, but that's not to say we who love magical realism aren't going to try our hardest to convince you that yes it is totally normal that a half-breed vampire school exists under the city of New Orleans so that they could receive higher education safely. (Yes, that is a hint at book 2 for those of you reading closely). 
Here are a few of my favorite magical realism writers and their works: 

  • Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell 
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • The Alchemist Paulo Coelho
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater *****
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater *****
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Find the magic,
     HER 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Yes, Hello there, I'm Still Here

I'M ALIVE! I apologize for my complete absence on the inter webs for the past couple months. It has been a long, rollercoaster of a road since December, but I'm here; I'm back; I'm trying to keep everything rolling! So here's a cap of everything that's been going on in Hannahland:

1. GRAD SCHOOL!!
       I will officially be attending Bath Spa University's MA Writing for Young People masters program starting THIS September. I am beyond terrified and excited for this wild journey in the UK, in the land of Jane Austen. I still can't believe I was accepted, but I'm excited for this new leg in my journey and to start studying the craft of literature for young people.

2. HAWAII!!
      Yes, don't hate me, but I went to Hawaii! I took the first week off my last semester of undergraduate to explore with my parents (thanks to Dad's job) Oahu and The Big Island (aka Hawaii). I ate garlic shrimp on the North Shore, swam with dolphins (not ride dolphins), chilled with a sea turtle, hiked to a green sand beach, stared into the face of an active volcano, survived the Missile Threat, and got smashed under some massive waves. Overall, it was an amazing adventure (and much needed rest).

3. INTERNING!!
       This semester, as part of my last semester in college, I signed up for the internship class, and can you guess where I asked to intern? Of course, Star Line Books! Which just means I get to be here even more than I usually would be and help out! These are the best days of the week!

4. ASCENSION SEQUEL!!
        Yes, it's still coming, I promise! We have an expected release of this June. So keep your eyes peeled for more information concerning such exciting news :)

5. WORK IN PROGRESS!!
       Last semester, I might've mentioned that I took a Novel Writing course and started something completely different from the Ascension trilogy. I finished my first draft over the holidays (actually on the plane to Hawaii), and I'm in the early self-editing stages. I don't really have a good description pinned down yet, but think 1800s Scotland-Scottish Travellers-talking animals-an anti-hero and some other pretty funky stuff. It's different, but I kind of love it. I hope all of you will eventually too!

That's all I've got for you right now. I'm going to do my best to be constant with the blog, but I'll be honest, this is a crazy busy semester. But I hope you're still following along and getting pumped for Ascension Part 2!!

Love,
   HER 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Adventures of a Part-time Bookselling Author

This will be a bit of a ranting session, though I have a feeling that many of you will agree with me in this subject matter.
Today has been a surprisingly busy day in the shop on this quite chilly, gray, rainy Saturday, which is wonderful! We've been able to give lots of great suggestions and had great conversations with our bookies. A sweet older couple from Cambridge, England stopped in the shop. 
Later this afternoon, a father approached the counter with a copy of The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, which I loved as a child, and I told him so. He kind of sighed a bit and said, "Yeah, my son wasn't allowed to read The Three Musketeers, so I had to come get him this." Both my coworker and I gave him a bit of a look. Neither of us could believe that a teacher told a student to stop reading something. 
He sighed again and said, "Yeah, he's in second grade. She told him he shouldn't be reading that. But he understands it and has read it several times." 
I am completely baffled by this! I mean, my head is still reeling. The fact that an educator would discourage a child from reading, not taking into account that this child has the desire to read something like this content, let alone the discipline to read something of that length. This takes me back to Matilda. This little boy needs a librarian like in Matilda, who will encourage his love of reading beyond what test scores say his reading level is. He needs a Miss Honey to challenge him and give him harder work. 
It just steams me up that a teacher would say that. "No, you can't read that, it's beyond your reading level." It's amazing how dependent upon standardized testing education has become. This child is obviously not standard. He's clearly above average, and we should be encouraging his love of reading. A father shouldn't have to come in our store, sighing about reading a very good kids book that I love. I hope this little boy is still able to enjoy the Hank books, but that he also still is encouraged to read whatever he wants.
I'm beyond thankful for all the educators in my life who always, and continue to, encourage me to read beyond what I think my limits are. So I'm here to tell all the kids out there to read what you want. If you enjoy it, can comprehend it, and can get through it, you read the heck out of it. Embrace your inner Matilda. Fill up that little red wagon with the biggest books you can get your hands on and go on as many adventures as you can. 


Keep on reading little Bookies, 
       HER