Choose your own adventure (Remember those books?): This is your Life!

Your life is better than any choose your own adventure book: you are not limited by what is on the pages and can choose anything you want. What is on Page 1 for you today?

Welcome to the first Weekend Writer’s Castle!

This post will be the start of what I will call my Weekend Writing Castle series: basically I will start a topic of discussion and anyone can feel free to join in. It will focus on writing but may also be about other things or life in general. (After all, what do we write about?) I want this to be a conversation, so please feel free to tell me things you would like to discuss! Check out the Writer’s Castle page- (tab at the top) for more information and for my other writerly posts.  I will try to post on Saturday or Sunday every week, so be sure to check back and sign up for updates to stay posted! (Email updates are on the right hand side of the page at the top.)

I am in a new country, teaching English in South Korea as you may or may not know and everyday I remind myself that it is a new day. Every weekend I can explore a new country. Sure, sometimes I want to stay home and cuddle up with a good or rather, a good e-book, lately since I can’t just order books to be shipped to me anymore or go to the local bookstore- (cannot read hangul yet).

But I want to make the most of time here, so I grab that book and get out there! I can always read on the way to wherever I am going! It is pretty exciting to be able to explore, go to new places, meet new people (even though I cannot really speak with them, but I manage, most of the time- and it reminds me I need to really learn the language! More about the language barrier in another post!)

You can do the same- go somewhere new. It doesn’t have to be far away. It can even be down the street from you. Just make it somewhere new- that new shop, the one you always pass by but never go in? Or make it new by talking to someone you have seen there but never really spoke to, more than in passing anyway.

You make the rules. You can take the bus, subway, train, car, time machine or whatever mode of transportation it is that you have and go somewhere new. Get off at a stop you have never been to before. Go to a new place. Make it a new start, a new day, a new phase of your life. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t January 1st. You can start now. Every day really can be made anew for you.

Recently, I decided to go do some exploring (which I definitely will be doing more of while I am here!) and went to a Jewel museum. I got off the bus along with a few other people and met two guys my age who were also going to the museum, so we walked in together and were talking, as much as we could anyway, as they did not know much English and sadly I do not know more than five words in Korean.

But I learned they were from Seoul and were doing some traveling. When we left the museum, we all waited for the next bus together at the bus stop (and kept waiting…and waiting…) and I told them about my plans to go to Seoul hopefully soon and visit the museums there, particularly the Korean War museum for an idea for a novel I have- (more about that to be announced as well!)

We finally got on the bus back to the main part of the city and they made sure I knew how to get back to the right bus for my town (Korean people are very friendly and helpful and will always go out of their way for you-they are great friends to have!)  We made plans to get together in Seoul and go to the museum.

Experiment time!

 I will go somewhere new, talk to someone new, and I won’t plan more than necessary and will write about my adventure in a future post. If I plan too much, sometimes it discourages me from getting out there. Or just gives me a nice excuse to stay in 😉

But you can do the same and make everything new for you! It doesn’t have to be a whole remodeling of your life, but you can change certain things. This can awaken your outlook on life. And for the writers reading this (this is Writer’s Castle, but anyone is welcome!) it will also breathe new life into your writing.

I don’t profess to have all the answers, but I think that everyone can do small things to improve their life and it has to start somewhere. And the best thing is you can always start again every day.

I would like to start a support system, so to speak. For writers. For readers. For dealing with life. Everyone gets discouraged at times, everyone could use a friend or someone to support them and listen to them. If you don’t think you need this, look around. Someone does. Try to be that person for them.

Okay, back to our experiment: First, decide what you want to change. It can be any area of your life: this is your experiement. Why do you want to change this? You need to have a clear purpose, a goal in mind about what you want to do and why. It has to matter to you, so make sure you know your motivation.

Change things around you. You can make choices that affect how your day goes, how your week goes and in turn how your life goes. Smaller choices lead to bigger choices. What you think is trivial or unimportant can in fact have a bigger impact than you expected. Smiling at someone as you walk by can start a new friendship. Yes, we know this, but how many times do we ignore the advice (myself included) because we are too busy, too tired, not in the mood? Deciding to talk to someone can reveal something in common with them and you can both end up being a huge source of help and support to each other (or even a small source of support).  It is the small things, how we live our life everyday that can have the surprisingly biggest impact.

Another way to change things is to go a different route than you normally do. Walk the long way or go down a different block- change your perspective. Wake up earlier and get some more sunlight before you start the day. Take a few minutes to think about what you want your day to be like and then do what you can to make it that way.

Set goals for yourself, go ahead, and make a short list right now. Jot down a few things. Not motivated enough? How about at least one thing?! What do you want? And then focus on accomplishing that. What are some ways for you to do that? Make sure you set a time to do them, so they actually get done and keep the task connected in your mind to your goal, so you remember its importance.

Once you have started this new way of doing things, write about it or  work on some of your writing (or to go with the theme- write something new!) free-write if you like, about whatever comes to mind.

See if it inspires you. When you go back to your current writing project (or new one) – see if it inspires a character, a scene, a place, an idea, a conversation.  Even if you don’t think it has inspired something concretely or anything right away, it’s still good to switch it up. This allows you to be more flexible and this will help in your writing. Everyone can always can use a breath of fresh air and the same goes for your words.

Start your own experiment with me- change it up everyday and write about the experience and how you think it affected your writing.

Set your goals. Join the experiment. Write! Remember, the world is your own adventure book! Start with a new page today.

Report back.  Looking forward to hearing about it! Post in the comments below about what you plan to experiment with and change and how you will do this. Then come back and tell us about your experiment! Please follow or sign up for email updates at the top right, thank you!

Shadows, Dreams and Nightmares that come true: Into the Shadows by Karly Kirkpatrick

What happens when your society turns against you and your family?

Review: Into the Shadows by Karly Kirkpatrick

If only dreams did not come true

Not knowing quite what to expect from this new author, I was pleasantly surprised. The beginning of the book opens with what seems to be a nightmare, but we soon discover that the main character, Paivi, can sometimes see visions of the future from her dreams. About five years before she starts high school, she has a nightmare or vision of her best friend’s mom dying in a car accident. She awakes horrified and tells her parents. She has had dreams before that came true, so she wants to warn her friend’s mom so that she doesn’t die. To her horror, her parents tell her she cannot tell anyone about this.

Paivi is a very in depth character and reading this book, you really come to feel what she is feeling, as her thoughts and reactions are described very well and she is easy to connect to. She cares so much about those around her that she sometimes even cares more about them than she does about herself. This can be a good or bad thing, but it becomes dangerous when her world turns upside down and she learns that there are others like her, who have special abilities. But they must keep it a secret.

But the secret gets revealed. And now her very life is in danger. The Red Scare and The Salem Witch Trials are combined together and thrown into modern times with fears of “terrorists”, and it soon becomes like Nazi Germany. It becomes a normal thing for classmates and even friends to turn against the people who were declared “enemies of the state.” It is very scary how realistic this is and how it happens-it shows it can very well happen now. Even the principal of the school is no longer able to protect his students, or else he will also be declared an enemy of the state. Everyone lives in fear and fear breeds hate.

You are the enemy

Anyone who tries to protect them, defend them or stand up for them in any way is violently pushed back and warned about putting their own necks on the line. Other students so easily turn against her. She tries to blend in and follow the rules, not wanting to be arrested or put anyone else in danger for her.

When her parents are in danger of being arrested, the world for her and the other “enemies of the state” becomes completely unrecognizable. And when Paivi and her younger brother have to fight to survive on their own, the situation looks even worse. With few people left to trust and not wanting to put anyone in danger, what else can you do to survive in a world that has turned against you?

Could this really happen?

This book will open your eyes to the horror of how fast this can happen and how people could very well react and be led to do anything for fear of the “terrorist” or the “enemy” and for fear of the consequences of standing up for what is right. Definitely a great read, a thrilling adventure, very thought provoking and while it has some emotional road bumps, it is very much worth it and I would recommend you add it to your to-be-read-next pile.

For information on this author, click here. Book 2 of the trilogy, Darkness Rising will be coming out in 2012. She also has another book coming out, The Green. Stay tuned for reviews and for the latest updates- please follow or sign up for email updates at the top right!

Click the picture below to get the e-book free on Amazon for a limited time only!

Hollowland: A new type of thrill: no roller coasters, only zombies

Hollowland: A new type of thrill: no roller coasters,
only zombies

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

“This the way the world ends – not with a bang or a
whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

This opening line promises an exceptional out-of- this-world story. And on that, it more than delivers. There is something that is so great about an opening line that really pulls you into the story, making you tense up for the next punch.  That is the way it should be and that is what Hocking gives us.

The pace and nonstop action of the story demands that you keep walking (and running) along to see what happens as you join Remy and her companions on this journey through what is left of the world after zombies take over. There are corpses in the streets (if the zombies didn’t eat them yet) and zombies are not the only things you have to worry about. Oh, and of course you cannot step outside without the risk of becoming a corpse yourself. And what happens when it seems that the zombies can be capable of some type of rational thought and planning? It makes for a very unpredictable new type of horror, I can tell you that.

From the outset, it is clear that Remy is fiercely independent and outrageously brave even though this newZombieland without the amusement parks scares the hell out of her. It is inspiring and makes for a thrilling, edge of your seat story to see a young woman who fights without stopping for what matters most to her.

No admittance: Ride out of order (or: Ride at your
own risk)

Remy was in quarantine when the story starts, along with a bunch of other young girls placed there for their safety once the zombie apocalypse started. They are living in what is supposed to be a safe place for them, but it soon becomes a death chamber as the zombies break in, killing off the last of the soldiers that were there to protect them and, it seems, on the verge of killing everyone else there as well.

Remy was not about to lock herself in, even though all the other girls did, as they were taught to protect themselves in this way (and only this way) from zombies. She leaves “the safe place” (which at that point was quite safe…for about 5 minutes) to venture out to find her little brother. He had been at the same place as her and he was evacuated because he was sick, which raises some questions about wh they didn’t evacuate all the healthy people as well. She vows to find him and protect him, and two other girls go with her.

After fighting zombies, acquiring an unlikely pet, and meeting a rock star, she is well on the way to finding her brother; at least this is her hope. This is her mission and she will let nothing get in her way.

Zombies with brains?

It is very interesting how the zombies are portrayed in this story, as mentioned before. They seem to be smarter than your averag zombie and can actually communicate with each other in some way- all for the purpose of eating you quicker, my dear. This is definitely not your normal fairy tale zombie story and that, along with the great characterization, tense action and the magnetic pull of what the fight is really for, is what keeps you running to catch up with Remy. Definitely makes me want to learn more about the zombies that Hocking has created.

Dark side of town

The darker side of humanity is also explored in the book. People kill other people without reason and just for the thrill of it and dangerous run ins with cults make for some very scary what if questions. It is interesting to think about how easily some people could lose their so called “humanity”. Then, of course, there are those who have already lost it that Remy must face. She also deals with questioning herself on if she is doing the right thing for everyone around her in her attempt to save her little brother and try to protect her friends.

It is important to realize that no one has all the time in the world and when Remy realizes this, this is what makes her fight her hardest for what is most important and to not waste any of her time.

Title talk: Not so Hollow after all?

Remy can be said to be seen as hollow, emotion wise, at least in how she connects to others. Not that she doesn’t care about them, but her issue is that she does, and wants to protect them. She fears she won’t be able to and so she shuts them out.

She doesn’t want anything to get in the way of her reaching her brother. Nor does she want to get too attached to anyone in this world of death, where it is very likely that you have to leave your best friend or kill them before they kill you if they are bitten or infected by a zombie.

Love in Hollowland?

Nothing to fear for the weak at heart when it comes to love stories, as Remy, as discussed before, does not allow love get in the way of what she is trying to do. There is nothing that is love at first sight, it is a believable relationship that is allowed to develop naturally (as naturally as it can in a world of zombies) and it definitely is not the focus of the story.

In regards to her love interest, she does shut him out as she doesn’t see this as an option with the world the way it is as well as her goal to find and help her brother.

At the end of the novel, she makes a very difficult choice. No one who loves her will be happy with this decision, but it is what she feel she must do. Readers may cry out in protest, as they find themselves loving Remy as well.

This decision also allows her to open her heart to love again, as she confesses how she feels to her love interest. But this may not make much of a difference, after all.

 End of the ride? (Or: those who
survived, exit to the left, those who didn’t, stay on)

The end will leave you hungering for the coming sequel, Hollowmen, (coming out this Fall) in which everything might change again for Remy, but there is no way to tell if these will be welcome changes or not. Be sure to look for my review on the sequel!