Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Write Stuff [27] - Depression and Grief and Procrastination, oh my!

Write Stuff  is based on the Wannabe Writers meme hosted by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-Published. This meme is what prompted me to start Writer Quirk, so I am thankful to Sarah for creating it.

I use this meme to talk about the ups and downs of writing, what I'm working on, and, in November, to chronicle my NaNoWriMo journey.

My self-imposed deadline on draft 4 of my current project is coming up next week. I'm not going to make it. I'll set myself a new deadline and try again. But why did I let this one come and go? There are a couple reasons, but the biggest is one I don't talk about very often here: my depression.

When I say depression, I mean an all encompassing darkness that suffocates my entire life. I went from feeling numb to feeling like my brain was overburdened with random thoughts and worry, and when that happened, I could do little more than stare at the television. When my anxiety became too much for me to even do that, I hid myself from the world in my bed. I lost interest in everything. I had thoughts of self-harm and emotional meltdowns. I decided to have my medication dosage doubled. It took a few weeks for it to kick in. I finally started to feel better.

Then Father's Day arrived. I wasn't prepared for the emotional turmoil that day would put me through. The turmoil continued until the anniversary of of my dad's death, vacillating between anger and tears and more numbness. Grief is an entirely different animal than depression, attacking different parts of me for different reasons, but experiencing them together for an extended period of time was harrowing. Then the evening of the anniversary, July 4th, I sat down at my computer and wrote 12 pages. It was like my entire being had been dreading the day, and then when I had survived it, my brain gained some freedom.
I've been working on my draft since then, which has only been about 20 days. So, yeah, I'm not going to make my deadline, but in the last three weeks I've written 28 pages. That's something at least. I'm going to take my victories where I can get them. I still have to deal with my depression and grief when it flares up, but I'm out of the darkest part of the woods for now. I still don't feel great, but right now my biggest obstacle is choosing writing over procrastination (and yes, this post could be considered procrastination).

I like ending these with a little snippet of my project, so since this post is kind of bittersweet, I decided to share the end of my first chapter because it has the same tone. My main character, Lotte, is arranging things in her new room.

How do you deal with your emotions when they get in the way of your creativity? Have you had any recent victories?

Let me know in the comments! ^_^

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The 13th Sign Giveaway WINNER!

Hey Quirks! I hope you've enjoyed reading about The 13th Sign by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb this week and have been inspired to check out this book! I had a lot of fun, but now it is time to reveal the winner of the signed hardcover and swag!

Congratulations to...


A big thank you to Kristin and Carla and to all our readers and participants!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Signs, Symbols, and Stars - an interview with Kristin O'Donnell Tubb!

Hey quirks! I have the great pleasure of hosting author Kristin O'Donnell Tubb on the blog today! She has graciously allowed me to pick her brain a little about her latest novel, The 13th Sign, and her research on the zodiac.

WQ:  How did your idea for The 13th Sign begin?

KOT:  Space is one of my obsessions. I majored (briefly!) in aerospace engineering in college, and I always click through those “cool space thing happening TONIGHT!” links on Facebook. When I finished writing Selling Hope (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan 2010), which is about the hysteria surrounding the 1910 visit of Halley’s Comet, I knew I wanted to write another space book. So I asked myself: what about space fascinated me as a tween? I knew the answer immediately: my horoscope.

I originally thought: SCORE! A twelve book-series! (Every author does this in the beginning, I imagine. :-D) I started researching astrology, and quickly stumbled upon a “missing” 13th sign of the zodiac: Ophiuchus. When he is included in the calendar (which he should be! His ankle dips into the ecliptic that makes up the zodiac), he throws off the calendar significantly, making almost everyone a new horoscope sign. I got that writer ZING! that I get when I read a fact that I want to share with others. I knew I wanted to tell Ophiuchus’ story. (If you want to find out your 13-sign horoscope, hop over here to learn more!)

WQ:  What aspect of the zodiac (the names, the personality traits, the constellations, etc.) interested you the most?
KOT:  Ah, great question! I actually think it was the history of the zodiac that interested me the most. Most folks who know about these things agree that the Babylonians were the first to develop this idea, some say as far back as 2500 B.C. Like most humans, they were likely trying to make sense of the world around them, to find order in the chaos. Like most humans, they looked up to do that. At that time, Ophiuchus was included in the zodiac calendar, along with other constellations.

I also discovered in my research that many scholars think that the 12 Labors of Hercules was a way of teaching astrology to young Greek students. Each labor was a constellation. When I found that little tidbit, the idea of “labors,” or challenges, formed the basis of The 13th Sign.

WQ:  In your research, did you learn anything surprising about your personal zodiac sign?

KOT:  I’m an Aquarius (water bearer in the house!), and I thought I knew quite a bit about my sign at the outset. I did discover that Aquarians are the least likely to believe in the zodiac, which is interesting. (For the record, I don’t quite know how I feel about horoscopes. Day-to-day, they are rarely accurate for me. But I personify an Aquarius to a T!) 

WQ:  How did you decide which signs to give to your main characters?

KOT:  I knew I wanted Jalen (which, side note, means “healer;” significant to the story!) to be an Ophiuchus once the signs were altered, so in order to be that, her traditional 12-sign horoscope needed to be Sagittarius. As for Ellie and Brennan, I wrote their characters first, then picked which sign suited them best. Once (tiny spoiler alert!) Ophiuchus is awoken and the characters undergo a personality switch, I kinda already knew what they should act like post-personality change: the zodiac told me which traits they should exhibit! (Another aside: I think the zodiac could be a really cool tool for writers to create well-rounded, realistic characters. Each sign has such a variety of traits!)

WQ:  Which zodiac character was the most fun to write? The most difficult? 

KOT:  Leo and Virgo were by far my favorite signs to write – their characters were so distinct and vivacious and fun! I had the most difficult time writing Pisces. Two fish, but not twins (that’s Gemini’s domain, after all!). I had a difficult time coming up with a challenge that involved fish but was still exciting and unique. I hope I made my Pisces friends proud! 

Thank you, Shalena, for hosting me today! I appreciate any opportunity to chat about books and reading! :-D

And thank you, Kristin, for sharing with us! ^_^

If you want to read my review of The 13th Sign, you can find it here, or if you want to know what I learned about my own zodiac sign(s) after reading Kristin's novel, just click here.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY: Don't forget that the giveaway for a signed copy of The 13th Sign and swag ends tonight! Click HERE to go to the giveaway page!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Old/New/Hodgepodge Zodiac Sign

In The 13th Sign by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, Jalen Jones accidentally unlocks the 13th sign, Ophiuchus (the healer), causing everyone in the world to have their personalities changed to match their new sign. People who were calm and stoic one minute are suddenly emotionally unstable. Sarcastic and aloof people have become friendly and helpful. How crazy would that be? Do our zodiac signs have that much of an impact on us?

I don't think so. True, I used to read the horoscopes in my local newspaper or a magazine on occasion, and I loved reading the little descriptions of my zodiac sign on magnets and t-shirts and other trinkets. I even liked to see what my Chinese zodiac sign was when I'd visit a local restaurant. But I never believed in any of it. Sometimes the descriptions seemed to fit, sometimes they didn't. It was interesting if not entirely accurate.

So when I read The 13th Sign, I was interested to see what the signs, no longer symbols but characters, were like and if my old one or my new one fit me better. Here is what Tubb's website says about my signs:

Traditional 12-Sign Zodiac:
Capricorn (the goat) - ambitious, trustworthy, calm, a loner, pessimistic, and determined

The 13-Sign Zodiac:
Sagittarius (the archer) - cheerful, optimistic, generous, restless, controlling, and logical

Reading these descriptors is kind of funny because if you were to put all the adjectives together and form one big list (Capritarius? Sagicorn?), it actually fits me pretty well. Even the antonyms, such as optimistic (Sagittarius) and pessimistic (Capricorn) are accurate because while I tend to have a realistic and sometimes gloomy view of things (pessimist), I still try to stay positive and look on the bright side (optimist).

Want to know what your traditional sign and your new sign are? You can head over to Tubb's website and take The 13th Sign Quiz. Not only will you find out your two signs, you will also find out which sign you act like. 

What sign do I act like?
Leo (the lion) - affectionate, self-confident, creative, vain, gullible, and independent

Again, more adjectives to add to my mish-mash of a zodiac sign (Lesagicap? Head of lion, body of a goat, and a bow?) All of this may just solidify my belief that the zodiac is mostly full of guidelines and for entertainment, not a hard and fast rule of personalities, but it is still fun to see what they are all about.

Want to see what life would be like if the zodiac really had an impact on your personality? Read Kristin O'Donnell Tubb's The 13th Sign! It is a fun and fast-paced adventure through the zodiac with a lot of heart.

Don't have a copy? Get your hands on a signed hardcover by entering my giveaway HERE before it ends on July 19th!

I hope you enjoyed this little rundown of my zodiac results! What do you think of the zodiac? Share your thoughts and your results of The 13th Sign Quiz in the comments! And don't forget to come back Friday for an interview with the author!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The 13th Sign GIVEAWAY!

Have you ever wondered if the zodiac really determined your personality? What if the zodiac changed, and you changed with it?

This is what happens to 13-year-old Jalen Jones in Kristin O'Donnell Tubb's MG/YA novel, The 13th Sign. This book is a lot of fun and I enjoyed getting the chance to read it (my review is here). Now you have that chance too!

What if there was a 13th zodiac sign?

You’re no longer Sagittarius, but Ophiuchus, the healer, the 13th sign.

Your personality has changed. So has your mom’s and your best friend’s.

What about the rest of the world?

What if you were the one who accidentally unlocked the 13th sign, causing this world-altering change—and infuriating the other 12 signs? 

Jalen did it, and now she must use every ounce of her strength and cunning to send the signs back where they belong. Lives, including her own, depend on it.

I have a signed hardcover copy of The 13th Sign and some swag to give away, so just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. All of my usual giveaway rules apply (you can find them HERE) and the giveaway runs from today, July 15th, to 11:59pm CST on July 19th.

And don't forget to check back here later this week for more zodiac fun and an interview with the author, Kristin O'Donnell Tubb!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

2013 Goodreads Rundown [May - June]

A new year, a new and improved update post! To be honest, not much has changed for these posts except the name, but if you aren't familiar with my Goodreads Reading Challenge updates, this is where I give more detailed stats on what I've read so far this year.
My goal number this year is 90. I read over 100 last year with a goal of only 75 so I figured I would increase it a bit this go-round. I'm moving right along and am farther than I thought I would be at this point.

Reading the stats: In my #/# calculations, the first # pertains only to the current months; the second # is the total thus far for the year.

Main Breakdown 
Books read to date: 66
Books read in May: 10
Books read in June: 9
Average books read per month: 9.5/11
Books reviewed: 10/25
Type Breakdown
YA books: 17/58
Non-YA books: 2/8
Print books: 8/24

 Genre Breakdown
Paranormal: 8/26
Contemporary: 2/9
Fantasy: 0/1
Science Fiction: 3/13
High Concept: 1/1
Historical: 1/4
Dystopian/Apocalyptic: 2/4
Mystery/Thriller: 1/2
Classic: 1/6
Reference/Craft: 0/0

 Title and Review Breakdown
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (WQ Review)
Partials by Dan Wells (WQ Review)
 If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan
Game by Barry Lyga (WQ Review)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Ink by Amanda Sun (WQ Review)
The Elite by Kiera Cass (WQ Review)
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (WQ Review)
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay (WQ Review)
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Arclight by Josie L. McQuien (WQ Review)
The 13th Sign by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb (WQ Review)
Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot
The Grass is Always Greener by Jen Calonita (WQ Review)

How are you doing on your reading challenge?
Link a post or review if you wish! ^_^

Reading Challenges Update [June 2013]

Hey quirks! I've decided to split up my reading updates due to how many challenges I am participating in this year. In 2012, I was only keeping up with my Goodreads Reading Challenge and I liked how I did that one and all the stats I kept up with, but I'm going to call them something different. The new title for those updates will be "2013 Goodreads Rundown" and they will appear bimonthly.

This series of posts I'm calling Reading Challenges Update is for all the other challenges I am trying to complete. These updates will be less detailed as far as stats go because I will just be listing the individual challenges and which books fit under them that I read during the previous month.

June: 4 --- Total: 32/24
The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection #2)
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Caster Chronicles #3)
Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot (The Mediator #4)
The Grass is Always Greener by Jen Calonita (Belles #3)

June: 4 --- Total: 42/25+
The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection #2)
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Caster Chronicles #3)
Arclight by Josin L. McQuien (Arclight #1)
The Grass is Always Greener by Jen Calonita (Belles #3)

June: 0 --- Total: 6

June: 1 --- Total: 6/12
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay [Keyword: Sea]

June: 4 --- Total: 28/36
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (Cold Kiss #1)
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (Caster Chronicles #3)
Darkest Hour by Meg Cabot (The Mediator #4)

June: 1 --- Total: 6/12
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey (Cold Kiss #1) [Creature: Zombie]

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ink Anticipation [13] - July 2013

This old feature has a new use! Ink Anticipation is now for sharing what books I am looking forward to that will be released during the following month. Clicking on a book cover will either take you to the book's Goodreads page or to my review. Don't forget to share your most anticipated releases in the comments!

July 2nd

July 9th

July 23rd

July 30th