Friday, December 21, 2012

The New Recruit by Jill Williamson - Team Novel Teen Book Review

Argh.  This post was supposed to go out a long time ago, but due to a bunch of junk, it didn't happen.  But here it is, nevertheless.

The New Recruit (The Mission League, book 1 of 4)
Mission 1: Moscow
by Jill Williamson

Back cover copy:
Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.

Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

To start off, I thought it was a nice twist on the traditional teen-kid-becomes-spy cliche.  Okay, maybe it's not so much a cliche, but unless it's done nicely, it's a little bit dull and lifeless.

This book was not that.  By throwing in the whole Bible-club aspect, it made it different. Christian, without stuffing it down your throat.  No one likes having religion stuffed down their throat, and I'm glad to say this book did not do that.  Jill is very good about adding faith to books without making it...preachy...

The plot moved pretty quickly, the main character was quirky and likeable, and I easily read it in a few days.  The one thing I would have liked is a bit more action, but that's probably just me, being an action/adventure fan.

All in all, it was an enjoyable book, perfect for kids or teens.  It's definitely a book my younger brother would enjoy.

I think The New Recruit deserves 4 out of five stars :)

Here is the link to Jill Williamson's website:
Link for The Mission League Series website:

I received this book free from Jill Williamson in exchange for writing a book review and helping promote the book.  However, the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Snippets of Writing

I wanted to post something today, but I really had no idea what...So I decided on good old writing snippets.

These are from my Nano novel, so it's not fully edited and stuff :)

\\it's a flashback\\

I lay on the grass, gazing up at the starry sky, my father next to me, giving me warmth and security.

“How many stars are in the sky?” me childish voice asks.

“No one has ever counted.  Maybe because there’s too many to count.”


“Yes, Hadyn?”

“Why did those men kill Sari’s entire family today?  She didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did her little brother.  Why did they kill them also?”

“No, Sari didn’t do anything wrong, but her parents did.  Her father broke the law and that’s something we must never do.  Those laws have been put in places to protect us, and we need them.”


He thinks about that for a minute. “Because men in power put them there to keep us safe.  You’re only eight; I don’t expect you to fully understand yet.”

“I get it.  But I have one more question.  What makes those men in power better than us?”

“Nothing, they are just men, like us.  And no man is perfect, no matter how hard they try.  But you, Hadyn, your name means ‘little fire’, and someday you’re going to share that fire with the world in an amazing way.  I don’t know how, but it’s in here.” He gently touchs my heart. “Use it wisely, my sweet angel.  Promise me that.”

My lips curl into a small smile. “I promise.”

I fall asleep there and his strong arms pick me up and carry me to my room.  He sets me down on my bed gently, as if he was setting a thin piece of glass on nails.  He kisses my forehead and brushes the golden strands of hair back from my face.

“Goodnight, my little fire.”

I, having never been truly asleep, open one eye and watch my father leave.  I had never felt so safe in my life.  My dad was there, and he was never leaving me.

Four years later, I stand by the window in my room, my face pressed against the frosty pane.  My mother sits on the front porch, weeping, as Dad rides off in the distance, alone.  The only steady force in my life is leaving and I never had felt so alone.


“What happened to your mother?” I gently ask.

“I don’t want to talk about it.  I'm sorry.  Maybe someday I'll tell you, but not today.  Or soon.  It’s a very fresh wound.”

“Even though it happened years ago.” He looks confused, and I decide to explain. “You know, three years when I met you in the forest.  You were sitting there, crying.  I think our pain on that day was what connected us.”

“I remember.” He gently takes my hand in his, but I don’t pull away.  The attitude has shifted and we’re no longer yelling.  It’s sweeter, kinder. “You weren’t crying, though.”

“I never cry.  It shows weakness.”

“But we’re all naturally weak.”

“I can't be.”

“But we all are.  It’s human.” Damon brings my hand closer to his chest. “It’s natural for us to need someone to rely on.”

“I don’t need anyone.” The words fall out, but they’re all lies.  I can't lie to him anymore.  No one is listening.  I can afford to be vulnerable for once, can't I?

“Hadyn.” He lets go of my hand and gently brushes me cheek, looking into my eyes with warmth and compassion.

All of the emotion bursts out of me.  All the pain I've been dealing with.  My mother’s death.  My father’s betrayal.  I fall into his arms, letting just one tear slip out of my eyes. “I can't do this alone.  You’re my best friend in the entire world.” A knot catches in my throat and I struggle to continue. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Hadyn.” He holds me close and doesn’t let go for a long, long time.


Hopefully tomorrow, I'll actually have something to say. Besides lousy snippets :P


Thursday, November 29, 2012

NanoWrimo - Over!

Such an exciting month of pounding crazy amounts of words out for NanoWrimo.  But good news:

It ended tonight for me! At 50,023 words, I'm finally done.

And it feels so good - and weird.

I'm so thrilled.  This was a truly awesome month.  Can't wait to finish this manuscript!

...and then begins the editing....


Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Thankful

First off, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

But honestly, I think a lot of the time we overlook the meaning of this holiday.  It's not just the day before Black Friday or about a month before Christmas.  It's not about pigging out on tons of delicious food.  It's about being thankful for what we have.

Not what we want to have.  Let me explain.

In this day and time, Thanksgiving often gets overlooked.  Partly because Christmas is more of an "exciting" holiday.  I mean, who wants to spend time eating food and talking with boring relatives about how thankful we are.  When in actuality, most of us want more. Actually, all of us want more.  It's human nature.  And at Christmas, so much more excitement happens.  Decorating the house.  Buying special presents for people you care about.  Celebrating Jesus's birth.  With all of this excitement just a month away, it's easy to forget about a simple little holiday at a time where many of us are busy with school or work and are just trying to survive until Christmas break.

And who can forget Black Friday?  Don't get me wrong, I like Black Friday; it's a lot of fun.  I just wish that it wasn't the day after Thanksgiving.  Only in America, people literally trample others for things that they're convinced they need, mere hours after being thankful for what they already have.

It's hard for everyone to not get swept away in the Christmas rush and just forget about this holiday.  It's not big.  It's not widely anticipated.  But is it important?  Yes.  Because everything - commercials, advertisements, magazines - is trying to convince us that we need more than we already have.  We just need to slow down and take the time just to remember that we're so fortunate to have what we have, because we are.  Chances are, if you're reading this you have a phone/computer and internet access.  That's more than half the world has.

I wanted to take time to say that I'm thankful for what I have.  A lot of times, it's easy to forget that God has blessed me and my family.  I'm thankful for my house, my wonderful yet sometimes annoying family, and all of my great friends.  Sometimes life is hard and you think nothing good has happened to you.  But although not every day is good, there's something good in every day.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing Playlist for the Day

Music has inspired many great things, especially writing.  It can provide the perfect background to just about any scene.  So I thought I'd share my favorite writing songs for today:

Wrapped in Your Arms by Fireflight

Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift

All I Wanted by Paramore

I Almost Do by Taylor Swift

Stop the World by Demi Lovato

Nobody's Home by Avril Lavigne

And lastly, here's a snippet of my writing for the day.

The funeral is short but sweet, and although I don’t cry, pain does tug at my heart.  I've never felt so alone.  I have no one older than myself to ask advice.  No one to take comfort in.  I can't talk about my problems with Honey.  Even though she’s mature for thirteen, she’s still only a child.

She stands sobbing by my mother’s grave for minutes, and I know that I can't help her.  I'm never one to sympathize with others and I've often been called insensitive because of it.  I have feelings.  I just know how to hide them when I need to.

But now, I need someone.  And I wish Damon was here.

Just a minute later, I turn my head and notice that he’s standing just a few feet to my left.  He doesn’t move or even yell at me like I figured he would.  Instead, he says, his words soft, “I came as soon as I heard.  Are you okay?”

I don’t reply.  If I would of, it would have been a lie and he would have seen right through it.  Instead, I run to him and find myself tight in his arms. “I’m so sorry,” I whisper, but I know that he has already forgiven me.

Damon gently brushes the loose strands of hair on my back as he holds me close.  He doesn’t say anything, but he doesn’t need to.  I know he’s glad that I'm not mad at him and I’m thankful that he’s kind enough to forgive me for the terrible things I said.

Got to get back to writing, but enjoy :)


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The joys of November - NanoWrimo

I've debated about doing NanoWrimo for the past two years, and have decided not to each time, for a variety of reasons, all of them pretty lame.  I don't have enough time or writing that much in a month surely won't be fun.

Those excuses were put to rest this year and I decided to try, at least.  Once I started, I realized just how much fun this would be.

For those of you who don't know, in NanoWrimo, you try to write 50,00 words in 30 days.  In November.  It's a genius idea and it really motivates you to let go and just write.

As I shared in my last post, I'm a perfectionist when it comes to writing.  Or...about anything.  Except cleaning my room.  But during Nano, I've learned to shut off the internal editor, and not think about how lame that blurb of dialogue was, or how many times I used the word "look" in a paragraph. (My record is 5.  In 6 sentences.  Very, very sad, but I have learned not to care while writing a rough draft.)

It's a challenge.  Here are my stats: 

I know today's is low, but I haven't started writing yet today :P

Against my better judgement, here's a snippet from my writing.  Not the best, but hey, it is a rough draft.

     I'd have to conform to their standards. I'd have to pretend to admire the ways they treat normal citizens.

     A group of soldiers walk down the street, pushing people out of their way and shooting anyone who objected. It doesn’t surprise me. I've seen it my entire life. Those men, foolishly drawn in by the idea of glory and riches, think that they are better than anyone and everyone.

     I'm taken off the train and escorted through the chaotic streets. The military men “protecting” me, from what I do not know, are shoving people away, since I must be so important. It makes me sick.

     A mother drops her bags of hard-earned food as they shove her aside, and she doesn’t move, but bends down to pick them up. They yell at her, but she doesn’t run off, as most would. While holding her young child’s hand, she tries frantically to scoop up her groceries. She can't afford to leave them. Finally, one of the men kicks her to the ground and shoots her in the head, right in front of her little boy.

     My hands clench into fists and I look over my shoulder at her, my face contorted in an expression of horror and outrage. Her child is screaming, calling his mother’s name. They murdered her, in cold blood, simply because she stopped to pick up fallen groceries. What has the world come to?

It's a Dystopian story, currently untitled, but I'm hoping a title will present itself to me during the writing process :)

Oh, and to anyone also doing NanoWrimo, good luck and have fun!

Abigail :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Productivity of Terrible Writing

First off, sorry for the lack of posts.  Life is insane with homework, sports, music, and church and I'm trying my best to squeeze my writing in.  As of now, I'm going to try to update my blog at least once a week.  Maybe more.  Who knows?  Life is typically unpredictable.

The idea for this post came to me right now as I sit here, working away on a much-disliked history paper.  I've never been a history fan and I do not care for compare/contrast essays.  Give me a persuasive essay any day...

Anyway, I realized this as I sat and, with much difficulty, tried to write the introduction paragraph:

I'm too much of a perfectionist when it comes to writing first drafts.

I'm not trying to brag by stating this.  It's true, and it's not a good thing.  You can never finish a first draft in a short amount of time if you're determined to make it perfect the first time.

I have to finish this paper by this evening because I have plans tonight, and this paper is due tomorrow.  Meaning, I only have a few hours to write it.  I have to be efficient, and efficiency is not maintained by making every sentence perfect the first time.  Because you know what?  Even when I edit-as-I-go, it's still not perfect enough and will need to be edited again.  Meaning, I just wasted a whole lot of time for nothing.

I just wrote a paragraph in two minutes flat.  I took my page of notes and typed out my thoughts into short, choppy, nasty sentences.  It's far from perfect.  But that's okay.  Why?

Because I'll go back and edit it later.  And it won't take as long as that "perfect" first draft would take.

The same is true with creative writing.  We have to let ourselves make the first draft terrible.  No matter how hard we try, the first draft will never be perfect.  Instead, we will have just wasted a lot of time writing a draft that will still need every bit as much editing.

It's easy for some and hard for others.  For me, it's incredibly hard.  But I'm trying just to force the writing out without caring how great it is.  Because the first time will never be perfect.

And it takes work to accept that.  To let go, and just write, without getting caught up with commas and adjectives and bland verbs.

That's what a second draft is for.

Abigail :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sneak by Evan Angler - Team Novel Teen Blog Tour

In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care—but without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.

Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute.  Now he’s on the run from government agents who will stop at nothing to capture him. But Logan is on a mission to find and save his sister, Lily, who disappeared five years ago on her thirteenth birthday, the day she was supposed to receive her Mark.
Logan and his friends, a group of dissenters called the Dust, discover a vast network of the Unmarked, who help them travel safely to the capital city where Lily is imprisoned. Along the way, the Dust receives some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.
When the Dust finally arrives in the capital, it seems that all their careful planning is useless against a government that will do anything to bend its citizens to its will. Can the gentle words Logan has found in a tattered, banned Bible really stand against the most powerful military the world has ever known? Can Logan even sacrifice his own freedom, choosing to act through faith alone?

Wow.  Book one was amazing.  Book two is even better.  I love the Dystopian world the author created.  The government and setting in itself is enough to make this book great.  But what really set book 2 of this three-part series apart was its historical and biblical references and allegories.  My personal favorite was an allegory of the Underground Railroad - it was well done, and added and enriched the plot.
The characters were also excellent.  I wasn't really in love with Logan's character in the first book, but this book made me understand his personality more.  My other favorite character was his grandmother - a character that can easily become clinched but in this excellent book, was not.

All in all, I'm in love with this series and am eagerly awaiting the third book.  Good job, Evan Angler! :) This book deserves 5 out of 5 stars.

Evan's Blog:
Link to the Sneak book trailer on YouTube:
Buy this book on!:

Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Sneak by Evan Angler by clicking on the links above, and check out for more information about Team Novel Teen. I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers, however, the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Other reviewers:
ADD Librarian • Blooming with Books • The Book Fae • Book Nook 4 You • Bookworm Reading  • Christian Book Review Blog • Heavenward Reviews • Jill Williamson • Labor Not in Vain • Maniacal Bookworm • Oh, Restless Bird • The Pen and Parchment • Reviews by Jane • Shadow Writer World


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Swipe by Evan Angler - Review for NovelTeen

Everyone gets the Mark. It gives all the benefits of citizenship. Yet if getting the Mark is such a good thing, then why does it feel so wrong?

Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship. 

The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping. It’s almost Logan Langly’s 13th birthday and he knows he should be excited about getting the Mark, but he hasn’t been able to shake the feeling he’s being watched. Not since his sister went to get her Mark five years ago . . . and never came back.

When Logan and his friends discover the truth behind the Mark, will they ever be able to go back to being normal teenagers? Find out in the first book of this exciting series that is Left Behind meets Matched for middle-grade readers.

First off, I loved this book! It was excellently paced with action and mystery.  It had a simple, easy to follow plot that neverless kept readers intrigued.  I read it in a single day.

It did set you up well for book 2 and I will definitely be getting it when it comes out.  Most of the loose ends were tied up though I feel the ending could have been a bit more explained.  I suppose it leaves more mystery for the next book.

In all, Swipe was an excellent book, deserving of a 4 out of 5 stars.

Other reviewers:
ADD Librarian • Blooming with BooksThe Book Fae • Book Nook 4 You • Bookworm ReadingBooks I RecommendChristian Book Review BlogCTF DevourerFiction FireJill Williamson • Labor Not in VainManiacal BookwormMy Story ShelfOh, Restless BirdThe Pen and ParchmentReviews by JaneShadow Writer World

Evan's Website:

I reviewed this book for Team Novel Teen and I received the book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers.  The opinions expressed are entirely my own, however.

Abigail :)


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Guest Post by Evan Angler

Why Differ?
by Evan Angler
We live in a world where things can be easy. Tablet computers that fit in our pockets and make calls for us and tell us where we are. Globalized digital networks that connect us effortlessly, all the time. Modern medicine that works wonders. News that arrives the moment it happens. Food that stays fresh forever.
This isn’t science fiction. This is reality. And in the American Union, all you need—for any of it—is the Mark.
So what’s wrong with that? The Pledge unifies us, does it not? Just as its Mark protects us? No one could argue that it hasn’t brought us together, that it hasn’t created peace . . . that our allegiance to the Chancellor hasn’t bound us and given common ground from which all our ideas and ideologies may grow. Together. Compatibly.
After the years of slaughter, after the decades of political and environmental devastation that forced more and more of us to fight over less and less land, water, food . . . was this unity not a welcome change for all of us?
It isn’t even compulsory. No one has to Pledge. But who wouldn’t? In the years since its implementation, the Mark has rightfully become the capstone of a childhood well spent, the crowning achievement in a young man’s or woman’s life, the opened door to citizenship, adulthood, independence . . .
Every schoolchild knows that in the wake of the Total War, this Mark has become the very symbol of our commitment to patriotism and peace. It is the constant reminder of our loftiest intentions.
To be Markless is to reject these ideals. To be Markless is to be different.
So why would anyone choose to be different? In a world of absolutes, of black and white, of right and wrong, why would anyone choose “wrong”?
My name is Evan Angler. I may have answers to these questions. But I can’t risk writing them. Not here. Not on the Internet, for anyone to see.
And you wouldn’t risk reading them.
But if you are determined . . . if you are determined to learn the truth, no matter the cost, then what I can tell you is this: I’ve put what I know onto paper. Old-fashioned, obsoletepaper. Where it can’t be copied and pasted with the stroke of a stylus, where it can’t be sent around the world at the press of a button, where it can’t be recorded and stored forever in a million irretrievable pieces across cyberspace and time for any watchful eye to see. Paper is intimate. It is between you and me. It is fragile. It can be destroyed.
And when you find it, if you find it . . . once you’ve read it . . . I do encourage you to destroy it.
Swipe is the first volume in the chronicles of Logan Langly, Erin Arbitor, and the Dust. Their account is dangerous; the information within it is forbidden.
I wrote their story for everyone. But if you are not yet thirteen, if you have not yet Pledged to the Chancellor in exchange for his Mark of citizenship, if you have not yet made that choice to conform to given definitions of what may be easy and what may be “right” . . . then I have written this story especially for you.
For I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m still afraid of the dark. And if you too have ever turned out the light only to feel that tinge of panic, that inkling that someone, somewhere, might possibly be watching . . . I’m here to tell you that they are.
At its heart, Swipe is a book about friendship against the odds. It’s a book about a group of boys and girls who stick together to stand up for one another and for what they believe in.
But why would they choose to be different? Why would they choose “wrong”?
Are you ready to learn the truth?
Evan Angler is the author of Swipe, which is a wonderful book!  I will be posting a review for it along with the Team Novel Teen blog tour group on June 25th, so stay tuned :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Making Your Idea Unique

Most writers run into this problem at one time or another.  Thousands of books and published each year, with their own plot, so sometimes it seems like every idea in the world is taken.

Even if you come up with a new idea, when you sit down to write it, it starts to follow book you've read.  Or the plot elements are the same.  Or setting is the same.  Or the characters act alike.  Or...

The question is:
What makes your story different?  And how can you make that evident in the story?

I've run into this problem before.  When I finished the rough draft of my book The Golden Pegasus, I sent it out to several people.  Almost everyone liked it, but one of the main responses was "this book is too much like ___".  I struggled for a while trying to think of how I could make it different. I knew my idea was different.  My main character was different and her challenges in life were different.  The setting was a different, but there were a few details that kept it from being completely my own story.

But before you can make a story different from what people think it is similar to, you need to do a few things.
1. Re-read the book that your story is being compared to.  Find how it is alike your story and why.

2. Identify what needs to be changed in order to make your book completely unique.  Then change it.

3. Don't be afraid to change the plot or setting or characters in order to make your book stand on its own, without others' ideas influencing it.

4. It's always good to have someone else (besides you) read over it and tell you what they think.  Truth is, you'll always find how your book is different.  Others reading it will probably find how it is similar.  Critique can be hard to handle, but it's always valuable.

Most of all, keep writing.  Some ideas might not be the best, but more ideas will come.  Comment and let me know how you try to make your idea original and unique :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When to Pause

So I've finally done it.  I've hit the wall mid-way through the third book of the series.  Usually, I don't hit a wall this hard and fast, but this time it was dead on.

The plot was rising and falling perfectly, characters were developing and conflict was arising.  Basically, the entire book was coming alone perfectly and then, bam, the wall appeared and I ran right into it.  Usually I can tell when it's coming.  My progress will slow down or I'll write without plot.  This time, however, I thought it was doing great.  And it was- until now.

My point by all of this is that, as a writer, we need to know when to stop on a WIP (work in progress).  Yes, we should push ourselves and work hard to finish what we've started. But, if we push too hard, we burn out.  Burning out is much worse than pausing for a little while to catch your breath before you keep working.  So what do you do when you hit the wall?

1. Take a break from writing.  This sounds kind of lame and quitter-ish, but it helps sometimes.  When you do this, it helps to read a lot of good books, especially ones in the same genre.  They can help you think up new ideas to continue that WIP.

2. Start something else.  Sometimes getting new ideas from your head and into writing helps clear your head when you get back to writing that WIP.

There are a lot of other things you can do, but I think those work the best for stepping back and starting to climb the wall.  One thing that you don't want to do it go back and edit.  It just depresses you more, to see how bad the first draft of a book really is.

So what do you do when you hit a wall? Push through it? Take a break? Leave a comment and let me know :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My World

I decided to make this blog because I love to write and I want to share that with the world.  No, I'm not published but I don't think it matters because I haven't given up. And I won't until I accomplish my dreams.

So who am I? Well, I like to play piano and guitar and write. And write. And write.  I usually don't suffer from writer's block.  My problem is not having enough time

I'll try to share some of my tips and ideas for writing on this blog, but it will mainly just be me, blogging about my journey through life and the writing world...

Thank you for taking time to read this post and remember- don't hesitate to write and share your ideas with the world :)