Sunday, July 15, 2018

|| WORLDS BENEATH || It's Blog Tour Time! Book Review + Interview with Author K.A. Emmons!


Hey, friends! I am SO PUMPED for today's post! Today, we are celebrating the LAUNCH of Worlds Beneath by the fantastic K.A. Emmons! I had the honor of being a part of her launch team last year for The Blood Race, and I am so excited to be back celebrating the launch of her second novel!

There is nothing cooler than watching your friends chase their dreams, and I just have to say how incredibly proud I am of Kate and all that she is doing. Publishing a book is such a long, difficult process, and she's done it not once, but TWICE! She is absolutely killing it, and I couldn't be prouder of her. SHE IS THE QUEEN! ♥

Now...on to the flailing!

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If you haven't watched this trailer yet... it is an utter masterpiece. Abbie is incredible.

In case you've somehow missed out on all of the excitement and hype over this amazing series, let me tell you a bit about it. The Blood Race series is a YA sci-fi/thriller trilogy by indie author K.A. Emmons. It's jam-packed with an action-filled plot, complex characters, and so much more. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, unable to step away.

So, about Worlds Beneath. 

Oh my goodness, you guys. This book.

You all know what a massive fan I was of Kate's first book, The Blood Race. I distinctly remember messaging her the moment that I finished it, already dying to find out what happened next. (This girl does not mess around when it comes to cliffhangers.) I anxiously awaited Book 2 all year, and it most certainly did not disappoint. 

There's such a tendency to have the fear that "there's no way the sequel can be as good as the original", but this did not ring true in the least for Worlds Beneath. It was a stunning continuation of the story, one that left me on the edge of my seat the entire time that I was reading. I read it in two sittings, only stopping when I realized that it was nearing one a.m., I had work the next day, and was only halfway through. The temptation to stay up all night and finish was so freaking real. 

As always, Kate's characters were so utterly real, genuine, and beautiful. There are more perspectives in this book than in The Blood Race, and while sometimes I'm not a fan of books with more than one or two POV(s), I could not have loved this more. Each different voice was so unique and defined, and I couldn't help falling in love with all of them. (Especially Fin. Always Fin.) I particularly enjoyed getting to see Hawk's character develop, and learning more about her backstory. She is such an intricate character, and watching her arc might just be my favorite. Although one can't help but just want to grab Fin right out of the book and tuck him away somewhere safe for the rest of eternity. Kate is not kind to that poor boy. #protectFin2k18

I love how the plot is woven together, and the specificity with which information is released and the plot is thickened. The Blood Race series is wonderful because both the characters AND the plot are so, so strong. It's not just a character-driven novel, or just a plot-driven novel. It's the perfect blend. 

The ending, in typical Kate style, KILLED ME, and I am already counting down the days until Book 3 comes into the world. The cliffhangers in this series are no joke, guys. My heart really cannot handle this.

Saying that Kate is a modern day C.S. Lewis is not an exaggeration. I love the allegorical nature of her writing, and the poignant themes that stab you in the heart, but don't feel as though they're being shoved down your throat. Her prose is beautiful and haunting, and leaves you in a state of awe and thought long after you've set down the book.

I could ramble forever about this book, but I'm afraid that I might delve into the land of spoilers, so I'll just say this- READ THIS BOOK. It is so, so good. You won't regret it.



RATING- ⭑⭑⭑


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I had the opportunity to ask K.A. Emmons some questions about this beautiful novel of hers! It was so fun to hear her talk about her book, and the process of bringing it to fruition. Kate, take it away!


Was your process for writing Worlds Beneath different than your process for writing The Blood Race?


I always like to say that books are like children, because it’s true: each is so different from the next. Each has its own personality and flavor, and Worlds Beneath was no different. The process of writing it was different from The Blood Race, and it took longer to write, but all in good ways. It definitely needed that time and space to grow and develop.


What was the most difficult part of writing Worlds Beneath?


Hmmm… the most difficult part really had nothing to do with the story itself, but more to do with the fact that my husband (then fiance) was away on deployment. I had a LOT on my mind and that sometimes made it difficult to concentrate. But because of that, writing was SUCH good therapy, too!


Who is your favorite character to write about?


Hawk, Icarus, Fin, and Sensei are always so incredible to write about because I’m super attached to each of them, and I’ve learned so much from each. I will say that writing Fin’s POV for the first time was such a blast!


Which character is the most challenging to write about?


Oooh. Probably Mitsue - because I obviously can’t identify with him a lot, haha. Thank goodness! But it also changes it up and keeps it fun to write about someone whose personality is so different from my own.


How many drafts does it typically take for you to finish a book?


It depends on how you define drafts, because I know there’s some room for interpretation there. After I finish a manuscript, I generally get straight into editing, then have my betas read. I then add their corrections and it goes off to my editor. So as far as how many rounds of edits I do, typically three-ish to make sure it’s nice and squeaky clean before it goes off to my proofreader.


What is your favorite part of the writing process?


The actual WRITING! :D And coffee. Of course, coffee. I just love getting up every day and sitting down at my desk and seeing where the story takes me that day. Each and every chapter is so different and special and FUN, it’s just pure adventure. That’s my favorite bit.


What is the biggest thing that you want readers to take away from Worlds Beneath?


Anything that helps them realize there’s a warrior within them. There’s a LOT in Worlds Beneath… and I find I don’t even really talk about that a lot, because I kind of just want people to read it and let it meet them where they are and let them take away whatever they naturally take away from the story. But if the story gives them anything, I hope it gives them trust in the fact that they are so much more powerful and loved and valuable than they realize. That we ALL are.


How TERRIFIED should we be for Book 3??

Maybe just a little bit??? Just a tiiiny bit terrified? Haha! I am seriously SO looking forward to getting book 3 out there, you can’t even imagine. I’m working hard on edits over here! It’s coming atcha soon!

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Isn't she gorgeous like what?!
When she’s not hermiting away in her colorfully-painted home office writing her next science fiction, passionate story-teller and adventurer Kate Emmons is probably on the road for a surf or hiking trip, listening to vinyls, or going for a power run. Emmons’ debut novel The Blood Race is the first book in her YA science fiction/fantasy thriller series. Get connected with Kate on your favorite social platform, and be sure to check out http://kaemmons.com/!






↞ F O L L O W ↠









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Have YOU read The Blood Race series yet? Get ready- it's incredible.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

sweet summertime


Hello, sweet summertime.

I've missed you.

I always miss you. When winter's gray skies make the whole world feel cold and tired, I count down the days until your warmth and light. Until the sun loosens the knots that the last nine months have wrapped around what feels like every fiber of my being.

You're different this year. Not in the way that you were last year, when the summer maybes were leaping in circles around me. But different all the same. This year, you come with busy schedules and new adventures and a brain full of questions.

This year, as I'm letting the summer thoughts flow out of my brain and onto the screen, things aren't quite as different as I thought they would be a year ago. I'm basically in the same place. Right now, I'm lying on my bed, pecking away at my laptop while Sleeping at Last plays in the background, exactly like last year when I wrote my summer blog post. My fall, while different, isn't a whole new world compared to fall of last year (for which I am eternally grateful).

I suppose that when I looked towards summer 2018, I expected to be living in a world rocked with change. I wrote the words "nothing will be the same", and I believed them. By the absolute grace of God, those words did not end up ringing true.

But things are still different in so many ways, and the hater of change in me doesn't quite know what to do with that yet. I didn't mean for this to turn into one of those posts, though, one where I'm freaking out about change and life and everything in between. That will, no doubt, come at the end of the summer.

For now, we aren't there yet. We still have another month of summer, another month before the new normal kicks in. For now, I'm just happy where I am. Working on projects and setting things up and spending time with people and attempting to get some rest in during the time in-between. Loving the sunlight streaming in through the windows and the warmth of their rays.

Sweet summertime, you will forever be my favorite. It's good to see you again.

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Hey there, friends.

I'm back. ♥

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Senior Updates IV

because cinnamon rolls are the b e s t
Everyone tells you that senior year flies by, but I really underestimated the truth of that statement. This year has gone by so. quickly. I can't believe that in two and a half months, I'll be finished with high school. It's completely surreal, and honestly, I'm trying not to think about it too hard yet.

Life since my last senior update has officially reached the height of insanity. I have never been this busy in my life, but I'm loving all of the various sources of craziness, even if they do leave me exhausted on a semi-regular basis. It's a lot, but I'm just really thankful that my last semester of high school has worked out in such a way that I can do so many things that I love.

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L A T E L Y

I feel like I have SO MANY things to update you guys on! My last Senior Update post was in mid-December, and it's insane how much has happened since then. I really wanted to do an update at the end of January, but I just couldn't get the post written up. So, I'm just going to attempt to summarize everything that's taken place over the last few months, and hope that it comes out semi-coherently. 

January was consumed by prepping for a musical theatre competition. My group competed with the piece You Will Be Found from Dear Evan Hansen. I performed in the piece, and also helped to choreograph it. It was such an incredible experience. If you've never heard the song before, you absolutely should go listen to it. It's a really powerful number, and getting to perform that number onstage was something that I'll never forget. Honestly, just getting to be a part of such a moving performance was enough, but what was even more mind blowing was....we took first! I could have cried, I was so happy. My last high school competition could not have possibly been more wonderful.

The same week of the competition, I auditioned for a production of Beauty and the Beast. I told myself going in that there was absolutely no way that I would be cast, that I was just auditioning for the experience. Long story short, I ended up getting a callback, and finding out the next day that I was cast as not only a Silly Girl (dream role!), but a wolf and a napkin as well. Literally three roles that I've always wanted to play in that show. I've actually worked on a production of Beauty and the Beast once before, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to be doing this show again. It's one of my all-time favorites.

The crazy part of joining Beauty and the Beast was that it meant that I'm now in not one, but TWO musicals. At the same time. Running the same month. I've never done this before, and it was probably a terrible decision on my part, seeing as I'm rehearsing roughly 28 hours a week, but it's so much fun. I can't think of a better way to spend my senior spring than surrounding myself with theatre.

Senior spring also means TONS of college stuff. I applied to two colleges, was accepted to both of them, and have made my decision. I'm really happy with it, and I'm excited to see what next semester is like. Now it's just a matter of finalizing a decision on a major and getting used to the fact that I'm almost a college student. What. (!!!!!)

The writing world has been rather bleak, due to the fact that I've been so busy that I've barely slept, much less had a chance to write. I did, however, write a short fiction piece that was a little piece of my soul, and I published it here on the blog. (My first time posting fiction!) If you missed that, you can read it here. ♥

Life is also filled with lots and lots of graduation planning. Let's just say, fine arts kids don't do anything halfway, and I'm pretty pumped.

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G O A L S

I'm trying not to set too many goals for myself, since time is scarce and I don't want to end up beating myself up over not accomplishing everything that I want to. But you all know that I'm way too Type A to not set ANY goals. So I'm aiming for a balance of realistic, yet productive. Let's give this a shot. 

-Journal journal journal. I've been journaling on a semi-consistent basis, but I want to do it even more. I want to be sure that I have all of these memories saved forever.

-Take as many photos as possible. Again with the memory hoarding. I want to record all of the crazy memories of this semester. 

-Stay organized. There are so many things to balance, and I don't want to find myself at the last minute scrambling to get things together. I've really been working to organize everything ahead of time, and I want to continue doing this.

-Find a prom dress! I found one that I really like, but it's a little more expensive than I'd hoped to spend. 

-Get my license. I've been meaning to do it for forever, and it's one of those things that I've just got to get done.

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R E A D

My reading life has been nothing short of horrible, if we're being honest. The craziness of life has completely stolen the little reading time that I had. I've been trying to keep a bit of steady reading in my life by keeping a book with me at all times, so I'll read a chapter in between classes or while waiting for rehearsal to start. It's definitely helping me to continue to read consistently, but goodness, I wish that I had the time to just sit down and devour a book in an afternoon like I used to. Oh well. I haven't read anything lately that I've absolutely loved, so if you happen to have any super solid recommendations, send them my way!

Since my last Senior Update, I've read......

-The Color Project by Sierra Abrams : At some point, I'm going to have to do a whole post on this book. It is an utter masterpiece.

-The Cage-maker by Nicole A. Seitz : An amazingly detailed historical fiction full of mystery, intrigue, and drama. 

-Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis : I'm so glad that I finally read this book. It's so good. Full of so much truth and such brilliant perspectives. I highly recommend taking notes as you read this one- you'll be glad that you did.

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L I S T E N I N G

Truce - Twenty-One Pilots
Atlas: Daughter - Sleeping at Last
You Will Be Found - Dear Evan Hansen
Atlas: Two - Sleeping at Last
So Will I - Hillsong United
Atlas: Taste - Sleeping at Last

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So, how has life been treating you lately? How's your semester going? What exciting things have you been up to? What have you been reading? Listening to? What's the best thing that's happened to you lately? I want to hear all about it. ♥

Monday, February 26, 2018

i hope you dance



you weren't expecting to ever see that handwriting again.

the looping black swirls that look like home, familiar as the way she always bit her lip when she didn't know what to say. the same paper, never purely white. always a hint of yellow to it, as if her letters were as old as her soul.

you never expected to see that handwriting again, but here it was, as real and as tangible as if she were standing right in front of you.

in an instant, you're sitting on the edge of the pier again, the salt air filling your lungs with the freedom of the night. your feet swing above the waves, crashing hard and fast into the wooden supports below. she's trying to keep the wind from blowing her hair into her face as she laughs, saying something that you can't remember anymore. the words don't stick in your brain like the images did.

but now the words are in front of you, stamped on the page, and as much as you want to stuff it into the box tucked under the floorboards, you can't keep your eyes from flying across the yellowed paper. you hop from sentence to sentence, not letting yourself linger on anything for too long.

i don't know if this is your address anymore. part of me hopes that it isn't.

.....

mom still tells me to tell you hello every once in a while. these days, she doesn't remember. it's easier not to keep telling her.

.....

i don't know why i'm writing this.

your eyes freeze on the sentence. you don't know why you're reading this. yet, it draws you in even deeper. you stop hopping from sentence to sentence and let yourself linger, actually absorb that looping handwriting. going back, just for a moment.

i'm sure that you think that i'm mad. you always thought everyone around you was. you never could seem to figure out that you were the only one who was ever really angry. 

well, i'm not.

maybe i should be. maybe it would be easier. but maybe i don't want that, maybe i never wanted that. i never wanted to be angry with you, no matter how many times you seemed to try to stir it out of me. i'm still sorry for that one time that i threw my sister's book at you. i hope the bruise faded eventually.

i hope a lot of things, i guess. i hope that the bruise faded, along with the other ones you had long before i came along. i hope that the knot that always seemed pulled tight around your chest is finally starting to come undone. if we're being honest, i hope that you're still reading this, even if i still don't know if i hope that you get it.

i hope that you finally see some rain in that dried up desert of yours. i hope that you can finally stumble a few steps closer to the sunset you've been chasing for so long. 

i hope you dance.

i hope that the skies open up and the rain pours down and you dance. i hope that you feel the sting of the water hitting your skin and that the bruises start to fade and that you dance until you can't dance any longer. i hope that the music sweeps you up in a song you've never heard before and you dance.

i hope that one day, you think of the girl who took you to the ocean and tried to remind you what it was like to feel alive. 

the salt spray is hitting your face. it burns and you blink and you're back in your kitchen, sitting at the scarred wooden table and staring at the sight of home on the page. 

you slowly push your chair back and stand, still staring down at the table. not sure if you're seeing anything anymore. 

you fold the letter back up into neat little thirds. you count the steps as you climb the stairs to the back bedroom, filled with dust and memories.

the floorboard in the very corner is coated with an even layer of grime and dirt and history. you pry it up with your calloused fingers, lifting out the box from underneath. 

the letter joins the seashell and the battered paperback inside the cool metal box. you close it up and push the floorboard back down before you can give yourself the time to stay.

before you're back on the pier with the girl with the wild hair and the heart filled with hope.



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I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't somewhat terrified to be posting fiction on here for the first time. I wasn't planning to even write this to begin with, but it was one of those things that just kind of...spilled out after I decided to try to write a piece based off of the canvas print. I don't typically write in this POV, but I decided to play around with it, and actually....kind of enjoyed it. So who knows, maybe this will be expanded upon one day. :)

I've always loved the song "I Hope You Dance". So, a few weeks ago, when Jennifer over at Photowall offered to send me a free canvas, and I was searching for the perfect saying to print, this image jumped out at me immediately. Photowall is a Swedish brand that specializes in wall murals, photo wallpapers, and canvas prints. I love this canvas so much! It arrived very quickly, and is super cute. I did struggle a bit with figuring out how to put it together, but I'm also not the best at assembling anything, so I'm pretty sure that was just me. The instructional video was really easy to follow, and I loved the finished result! If you're interested in getting a canvas of your own (which you totally should), you can use the code TotallyGracedCampaign2018 for 20% off of your purchase if you order within the next 30 days. :)

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How's your Monday going, friends? I hope that you dance today. ♥