Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Break!

It's Spring Break this week! So I will be taking a break from blogging until Apr. 2nd.

This week I plan on sending my latest WIP to betas, reading all the new books I ordered, and hanging out with my family. I'm so excited! There are no words.

I do hope you'll stop by next Monday, Apr. 2nd. I'll be interviewing Elissa Janine Hoole and giving away a preordered copy of her upcoming release, KISS THE MORNING STAR. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Link Love

I have a couple of links that I thought were so good, I had to share them with you.

1. First off is a series that Ellen Oh is featuring on her blog called 'What Diversity Means to Me'. She will feature authors who write about diverse main characters. This series will go until April 24th and end with an interview on the Enchanted Inkpot with Stacy Whitman, Editorial Director of Tu Books and one of her new authors, Kimberly Pauley.

2. Lynne Kelly has created a beautiful book trailer for CHAINED and talks about how she created this trailer here.

3. What's selling in YA? Kate Hart has put together an amazing set of graphs in this post!

4. Beth Revis and the Elevensies share their Top Three Things You've Learned about their debut year as a writer.

5. Truly Bookish and One Page At a Time are doing a fantastic challenge inspiring readers to read more multi-cultural books with their 2012 Muti-Cultural Book Challenge. The goal of this challenge is to read 12 minority YA books for the year. The books can be newly published or been around for a long time. Every month, they will feature a book or author that meets the criteria and do a book giveaway.

6. For a Goodreads multicultural List, go here

Monday, March 19, 2012

How I Use My Journal to Write

Every book I write has it's own gorgeous, hardcover journal. I spare no expense for my journals because they become the bible of the world I'm creating for my novel. One of my journals I bought in a castle in France. Another I bought in an old shop in Insodang, Seoul.

If I see a journal I really like, I'll buy it, saving it for my next project. The other day I spotted these bigger journals in Barnes and Noble and was tempted. But I do love having a smaller one that I can squeeze into my purse or computer bag.

My journal for GILDED

So what do I fill my journal with?
  • Photos- if I see a photo that reminds me of a setting, I cut it out and glue it inside
  • Character sketches and venn diagrams (yeah, that's the teacher part in me)
  • Listing of important names and their meanings
  • Phrases that I think of and want to put into the book
  • Thoughts or questions that I need answers for
  • List of people and their contact information who I can go to for information
  • Ideas and brainstorming
  • Using it to jump start ideas or to discuss with myself issues I'm having with the story: "remember to go back and work on the dialogue for him." Or "check authenticity of the horn bow" or "I wonder what would happen if I decided to kill him. Would that up the tension or let things fizzle out?"
I also found that journal handy when I'm doing a revision or prepping to write a sequel. I can easily pull it out and use it to jump start another story.

How about you? Do you keep a journal? How do you use it?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winners for Spring Forward in Time!

What a great contest guys. I had soooo much fun reading all the places and times you wanted to travel too. Fascinating!

And FYI, I'm planning a contest of all contests coming in a few weeks. I can't wait! It's going to be EPIC!!!!!

I want to tell you about it right now, but it's a secret. (shhh)

Until then... my winners are:

Rosa Shah and Stacie Puett

Thanks to everyone for entering and having so much fun with this.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Exotic Destinations- Sintra, A Fairytale Town

Photo from Tourism of Sintra
Sintra is a fairytale town in every sense. The hillsides are cluttered with palaces and villas.

We went to Portugal to visit very dear friends of ours that we worked with in Indonesia and I was amazed how beautiful and eclectic the country was. It’s really a mix of Moor, Spanish, and European. I can see why so many people choose it for a honeymoon spot.

But the town of Sintra was my favorite city. It’s magical in every sense: castles, cliffs, charming village, quaint shops. The hillsides are cluttered with palaces and villas.

Sintra Old Town
Photo was taken by Paul Courtel 

Narrow streets built over a long period of time.

Places to Visit around Sintra:
  • Pena Palace- Built in the 1840s is a random mix of German and Moorish archeticture sprinkled with Spanish influence.
  • Regaleira Estate- known for its beautiful gardens and Gothic architecture.

  • Moorish Castle- Built in the 8th century, it has fantastic views of the valley and fun to climb along its walls and wander the dark turrets.
  • Toy Museum- A collection of more than 20,000 toys including 3000-year old Egyptian toys, Hornby trains from the 1930s, Nazi toy soldiers made in Germany during World War II, birthday and Christmas gifts given to royal children, and some of the first ever toy cars.
  • Outside of Sintra is the famous cliff, Cabo da Roca. This cliff rises up to 460ft.
  • Fantastic shopping! This is a great place to buy hand painted tiles, linen and linen tablecloths, and great soccer gear.
Photo from Tourism of Sintra
  • Beaches- Adraga Beach- Its windy and go early because of parking but with the mountains and waves, it's gorgeous.
We stayed with friend in Estoril (another old medieval town) so I don't have recommendations for you on where to stay. New York Times did a great article here on recommendations. 

Also, I've lost all my good pictures of Sintra sometime in the last week! I think I deleted them all by accident. So I don't have nearly as many pictures as I was hoping for. Sorry! I'm so bummed.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Forward in Time Contest

Today in the United States we changed our clocks at 2:00 a.m. to spring forward from 1:59 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. This is called Daylight Saving Time.

But not all countries in the world follow this tradition. If you click here you can find out who observes Daylight Saving Time. There's also a really cool graph here to show you how Daylight Saving Time allows us to better use the daylight hours.

Now this whole concept of changing time made me think. (Partly because I just finished reading TEMPEST by Julie Cross, a fast-paced time travel book.)
In some ways I have time traveled. When we would fly from Korea back to the States, we would arrive at Atlanta the exact same time as when we left Seoul. Now this might not be the traditional sense that you'd think of time traveling, but I always experienced sickness (jet lag), additional time (thank you time zones) and disorientation (the differences in air and elevation).

Last week I watched the movie Midnight in Paris. I loved how depending on the person, different characters yearned for a different time. It's interesting how people never thought of their time as the time to live in.

So to celebrate the concept of time, I'm giving away two fantastic books that I highly recommend.

TEMPEST by Julie Cross- The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

HOURGLASS by Myra McEntire- For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn't there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents' death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

As you can see, both of these books have fantastic plots, but they also have characters that are real and worth reading about. I cannot wait for their sequels!

So how about you? If you could time travel, where and when would you go?

Fill in the Rafflecopter form below by Mar. 18th to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 9, 2012

Exotic Destinations- Contest Winner

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest to win 1,000 Places to See Before You Die!

The winner is Jen and Stephen!

Up next Friday on Exotic Destinations- Sintra, Portugal!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pinterest for Writers

About a year ago my sister introduced me to Pinterest. We were planning her bridal shower and exchanged ideas through it. I had a lot of fun searching through the pictures and comparing notes with her.

Then she had this idea: "Wouldn't Pinterest be a fun thing for your writing?"

I started to think about that and created some writing related boards. But how effective is Pinterest for writing promotion?

I don't have the answer on that yet, but if you love visuals and sharing those with friends, then I think you would enjoy Pinterest.

Why do Pinterest?

1. Brings you inspiration for characters and settings.
2. Gives browsers quick views of categories such as book covers for a particular year, cool book trailers, or how to decorate with books.
3. See in pictorial form books agents represent. Examples: 
4. See what books publishers carry:
5. Discover books editors have edited:
6. Another way to share pictures you love in one easy location. It's easy to upload to Facebook and Twitter too.

How Does It Work?

The way it's set up is you build boards. Each board has a different topic of your choice and then you pin pictures onto it.

Ideas for Writing Related Boards:

1. Cool settings- Here you could post pictures of settings that would inspire a book idea.
2. Your book board- A pictorial representation of your story and characters.
3. Interesting personalities- I love this one to pin unusual characters.
4. Books worth reading- For this board I clip the covers of my favorite books.
5. Favorite book trailers- This is a great place to upload book trailers that you love from YouTube.
6. Quotes and sayings- Clip pictures you find inspirational.
7. Books in the home- There are great pictures of decorating with books.
8. Fun with books- Display pictures that show how fun books can be.
9. Libraries and bookstores- For those of you who still find these places enchanting.
10. Book covers of the year- post covers of books that you are excited to read for 2012, 2013...

If you do end up joining Pinterest, pop by and check out my boards at: And of course, I'd love to hear what you think!

Happy pinning!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Exotic Destinations- Kyongju, Korea

Kyongju (sometimes spelled as Gyeongju) is one of the hidden gems of Asia and some of the oldest ruins are found there.

It's located on the coast of the southern tip of Korea and dates back to the Silla Dynasty. Many poeple call it the "museum without walls" since everywhere you walk, you are coming upon some lovely temple, pagota, or palace.

This city inspired me to write two books and I would love to go back and walk through it's ancient streets. There is so much history and richness in its past.

a mound tomb

Places of Interest
  • Seokguram grotto- From the temple, take a bus trip up the mountain. On a clear day you can see the ocean.
  • Bulguksa temple- This Buddhist temple was built in 548 and then redesigned in the 8th century. It's really striking with it's archetecture and design.
  • Yangdong Folk Village
  • Kyongju is also where the Hwarang warriors were trained during the Silla era.
  • Kyongju National Park- excellent hiking the trails
  • Cheomsongdae- an ancient observatory built during the reign of Queen Sondeok in 634. See picture below.
  • The Mound tombs which are like smooth grass hills with hidden tombs inside. (see the picture at the top of this heading)
  • Actually, there is sooo much to do but these are just a few highlights!
Check out the Do-sol Ma-eul which has excellent Korean food.

I love a good teahouse, so if you go, this is a great experience.

They are also know for famous for hwangnam-ppang which is basically a bean paste in a bun.
Bulguksa temple

Places to Stay
  • We stayed at the Hilton which was nice but a bit sterile.
  • Check out Gyeongju Guesthouse, Hanjin Hostel, and Sa Rang Chae Guesthouse
  • My husband stayed at a Buddhist monastary when he took a group of students as part of their tour of the area. Apparently they woke the whole group up at 5 am to do a long run through the mountains and then rigorous training. I don't remember the name of this monastary, but I thought it was pretty cool!
Here's a video clip from YouTube: