7 Quick Takes: Prayer, Trust, and All the Choices

I’m back for the Friday 7 Quick Takes today. Hosted, as usual, by This Ain’t the Lyceum. Check ‘em out!

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

Choices, Choices, and More Choices. I’ve been trying to make a few *big* choices, difficult choices. Retrospectively, they’re not things that would seem that important to other people, but making choices is something I struggle to do definitely. I’m a maybe person; I like things in the middle. And, so, making a singular yes is difficult.

~2~

Inviting God into the Everyday. After going to World Youth Day, I have been trying to put God first (or, being honest, more first) in my daily life, even in just waking up and thinking about my day. That was one thing that helped me during exam revision. God and I working together.

~3~

Prayer is Enough. I will admit, however, that I’m not one of the best people to stick to a daily prayer schedule. I am trying, though.

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~4~

Thankfully… I am definitely doing a Masters in London. I have officially finished my pre-enrolment, so all that is left to do is wait the days out until my new term.

~5~

There Are Always Options. I’ve got to remember the mind-set that whatever happens and comes to be is part of God’s ultimate plan for me. Things go wrong, as they always seem to do around me, but in the end, they were always meant to go wrong; or, rather, they were always meant to happen differently to what I might have expected or even hoped for.

~6~

How is life, though? It’s good. I am enjoying the company of the three cats with which I am now living. Thus, the photo below. That’s Bovril, and she’s a sweetie.

~7~

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THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS review

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For seeker Raine Benares, a demon infestation on the Isle of Mid couldn’t come at a worse time. Already fighting the influence of the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone, Raine discovers she is also magically bonded to a dark mage and a white knight, two dangerous and powerful men on opposing sides.

Turns out, the demons want the key to unlock the Saghred. As a seeker, Raine should be able to find it first. As the axis of light and dark powers, she’s a magical cataclysm waiting to happen.

Well, there was certainly demon troubles.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t love THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS as I did the Raine Benares books #1 and #2. I can’t really pinpoint why. Well, okay, I can think of a couple of reasons.

But first – the good:

Demon-Squishing

I enjoyed the introduction of new types of demons in this novel, and I was intrigued by the way Raine and the Saghred handled them. The threat-level has definitely increased, both internally and externally, and it’s great to read how Raine, despite her new power, struggles with it.

Getting to See More of the Baddies

Because it’s been a while since I’ve been in Raine’s world, I was always going to feel disorientated at characters saying “oh, it’s so-and-so here to do threat to us. Sigh”. However, I didn’t feel like I needed to well know the characters. Sure, it would be a bit awkward to start reading at book #3, but the plot stands-alone in its arc and even the main characters are pretty summarised by Raine when she interacts with them. “Until a week ago, so-and-so did not know…”

So, being faced with some baddies that I’d forgotten about from the first two books, I wasn’t scratching my head and wondering how they fitted in, which is always something I like to read. I wasn’t confused.

First-Person Raine

You really get inside Raine’s head with the narrative. I guess whilst I didn’t like how plain the language and description was (see below) it well suits Raine’s style of speaking and, well, living. She rough and doesn’t take anything from any of the baddies or the I-know-what’s-best-for-you heroes.

Me – crying over not enjoying a novel I ought to.

And now – what I didn’t enjoy:

The Pacing

Demon-fighting, talking, demon-fighting, talking. My biggest problem with Demons was that I got bored. It felt a samey progression like a) the previous books and b) every other paranormal fantasy. I wanted more from the writing, which felt plain, and more from the plot. The characters did the same thing at each location.

Love Triangle

Granted, it’s also a magically enhanced love triangle, as mentioned in the blurb, but character-shipper in me just finds one of the guys irritating whilst the other is the sexy, white-magic guardian every girl wants. #teamMychael

And whilst I loved the flirting (at least, where I felt it between Raine and Mychael), I didn’t feel there was enough of it/in the right place to satisfy. Then after all’s said and done, Raine is contemplating her love life and it just…seemed too arbitrary at the end.

In Conclusion

I find more positive points than negatives, but unfortunately, the negatives were what would’ve sold the book for me. It is, unfortunately, about personal taste, and I just didn’t feel that THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS was my book.

TableClock_AlexB2 - Copy.jpgRegrettably, 3/5 steamy cogs. I will be reading on…when I can get my hands on the next novels. I am invested in Raine’s story, and hope I get to see more variety to the description and action in book #4.

“For the poor people of Rio, ticket prices for the Olympics are too high”

CAFOD blog

maristely (800x450) Maristely, centre, leaning on a water butt at a workshop learning how to conserve water.

Maristely is the narrator of one of our Connect2: Brazil partners. She is currently a student in her final year at university, but alongside her studies she continues to participate in activities to defend the rights of people living in favelas and poor informal settlements with our partner, Movement for the Defence of Favelas (MDF) in São Paulo. Here Maristely talks about the 2016 Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil this summer.

“On the sporting front, there is anxiety in making sure the Olympic Games take place.  But the way these Games will happen is depressing.

Since the World Cup and the Olympic Games were first announced in Brazil these kinds of mega sporting events were seen as opportunities for improvements in basic infrastructure of the country, but in the preparation process…

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House Moving and Procrastination

Sorry I have been shamefully quiet this last week. It looks like I was more able to post when I was out of the country (in Poland for the World Youth Day) than when I have been here in England with my laptop and time to my disposal.

There have been a few factors orchestrating this virtual absence – and the least of them, for once, is not having the time or knowing what to write. I could have posted about anything, and I should have, but my own self got in the way.

Firstly, though, there have been some developments in my non-writing work. That is, I moved to London to get settled into my student lodgings for the time I need to be in London for my Masters in Linguistics. I’m in the capital! It’s kind of scary…

Not much has happened so far, apart from unpacking, shopping, and cracking the wifi code. Cough… I’ve also been planning my next Steampunk outfit for the Lincoln Asylum in a couple of weeks. I’d like to say that I’m going to write a post about my experiences at the biggest Steampunk festival, but signs point to that being unlikely…

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Oh, and making friends with the resident cats. Boop.

Then I journeyed up to Leeds for some personal matters and exploring the surrounding areas. I didn’t know how long I was going to stay up there, but two days turned into three easily. The problem is: when I stay with my partner, I find his dad’s place a difficult place to concentrate on work. Sure, I did some research (not writing-or uni-related) I was hoping to do and got a couple of chapters of Metropolitan Magic written. But none of the writing is serious.

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My partner making an idiot of himself, as usual.

Which brings me to my other point for why my progress with writing has been slow… I haven’t felt emotionally up to editing. I want to edit Horology, as it’s with Betas at the moment, but I keep putting other things first. I keep saying I’ll do it later when I know full well that I may not have a later. I am filling up my schedule so I don’t have to think about what is probably not so much a mammoth task as it feels to me.

I can’t shake it, though. I love writing, and it’s a great stress reliever, yet I don’t want to face the constant barrage of rewriting and knowing that my work may never be good enough to see in print. I think non-writers, those who ask that poison-to-writers question are you going to get published? don’t understand how much time, effort, and energy we put into our work. It’s not just writing, rewriting, and editing; it’s that over and over and over again. We have characters in our heads, ever-roaming, and we want their stories to be perfect – but the stories never will be. And everything we do is fruitless to change that.

It’s one thing to have a tough skin at the comments of others, and quite another to be sensitive enough to rip one’s own work apart.

I don’t know how I’ll proceed. Need to take some big breaths and take things slowly. Again. Until next time: pax.

Ten Questions With…Alexandra Ott

Today, I welcome a special guest to my blog: author, Alexandra Ott, who is a member of the Swanky Seventeens group of authors whose debut books are releasing in 2017. Not only that, but Alex is one of my closest Critique Partners, so I am delighted to be chatting to her about her MG Fantasy, RULES FOR THIEVES, a book I had not only the pleasure of reading, but also helping to name!

Rules for Thieves temp cover

Coming Summer 2017 from Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

Twelve-year-old orphan Alli tries to join a legendary band of thieves in order to get the cure for the curse that’s killing her.

  1. Tell us a little about your journey to your publishing deal.

I first wrote Rules for Thieves in the summer of 2012. Revising it took a while because I was in school at the time, but I finally started querying in late 2013. I spent 2014 revising and querying some more. In early 2015, I signed with my agent and went out on submission. We received an offer from Aladdin in the summer of 2015, about three years after I wrote the first draft!

  1. What was the on-submission time like for you?

It actually went by much faster than I thought it would! I knew that the submission process could take a year or more, so I wasn’t expecting to receive an offer so quickly. When my agent first told me there was an offer, I almost didn’t believe it.

  1. What inspired or led you to start writing the plot of RULES FOR THIEVES?

I was inspired by the kinds of stories I loved as a kid. I always really liked heist novels and fantasy books, and I also loved to invent adventure stories and games that I played with my sister. All of those things came together to become Rules for Thieves, which is really an attempt at writing a book I would have loved to read when I was younger.

  1. Has the novel changed much between your first draft and this current draft?

Yes, quite a bit. The first draft was much shorter, and several crucial elements of the book didn’t exist yet. Much of my revision process has been developing and deepening that initial story. I’ve added more than 15,000 words between the first draft and the current one.

  1. What has been the toughest part of writing RULES FOR THIEVES?

The revision process has been a long one, and there were definitely times when I was so tired of reading it again and again that I just wanted to stop working on it. But there was something about this story and these characters that compelled me to keep working—that, and the encouragement of my awesome critique partners.😉

  1. What is your favourite part of main character, Alli’s personality? Do you think she is like you?

I love how smart and funny Alli is. On the surface, she isn’t much like me at all. She’s snarky, outspoken, impulsive, and daring—all of which I love about her, but none of which is very much like me. But we do have a few things in common, namely impatience and stubbornness!

  1. Why did you decide on a duology, rather than the more common trilogy and stand alones?

I knew early on that it was going to be a series, but I didn’t know how long it was going to be. Eventually, I realized that two books would be the best fit for the story arcs that I have in mind—three books would be stretching the story too thin, and one wasn’t enough to give Alli the resolution that I wanted for her.

  1. Tell us one thing we can look forward to in the sequel.

There’s not much I can share without spoilers, but let’s just say there will be sinister plots and spies and characters who are more than they appear…

  1. Are you more drawn to writing YA or MG and why? RULES FOR THIEVES is MG, but I know you are also working on YA fiction.

I think I’m drawn to both categories equally. I love the sense of adventure and wonder that comes with MG, but I also love going a little older with YA. It’s nice to be able to take a break from one story and work on something that’s completely different. And I love writing both preteen and teenage protagonists—both ages are endlessly fascinating to me and have so much potential for storytelling.

  1. Is this your first novel, or are there some in drawers that you never want to see again?

I have two novel-length manuscripts in drawers, plus some shorter fiction. They were really important manuscripts that taught me how to write, but they’re not ever going to see the light of day!

Hehe, I know the feeling! Thanks for joining me, Alex, and I can’t wait to get my paws on a copy of the finished product!

Interested in learning more about RULES FOR THIEVES or Alex? Check out her updates on social media:

About the Author

Alexandra Ott writes middle grade and young adult fiction. Her debut middle grade fantasy novel Rules for Thieves will be published by Aladdin/S&S in summer 2017.

Alex graduated from the University of Tulsa, where she studied English. She is currently an editorial intern at Entangled Publishing. In her spare time, she plays the flute, eats a lot of chocolate, and reads just about everything. She lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord. She is repped by Victoria Doherty Munro of Writers House.

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The Swanky Seventeens

Photo of the Week: Spirits

A shot from my travels overseas to Poland. This is the centre of the Multimedia Fountain Park, found in the old town of Warsaw. We went there one evening for a light show – a light performance, in fact – but this was also a beautiful place during the day with numerous spouts and three different pools for children’s amusement and our observation.

Very relaxing.

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