Monthly Archives: October 2011

One Day More…

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*whistles Les Mis music*

OK, so obviously fantastic Broadway musicals is not what I’m going to discuss today. It’s Monday, October 31st and YAY Halloween and goodbye life for the next thirty days.

As I’m sure you know, NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. There’s much to be done, no? You have to make sure you have an idea ready to go (hopefully you’ve got that glimmer or something more). You need a good night’s sleep because you might not get much in the next month. You need to spend the remainder of the day with friends and family or running important errands because you won’t have much free time for that in November.  You need to make sure your NaNo account is set up and you’ve visited the forums and maybe made some friends to add as writing buddies. You need to stock up on coffee, tea or the caffeinated beverage of your choice along with writing appropriate snacks (to me this is Pocky and other easily edible snacks that I can quickly shovel in between thoughts).  Maybe you’ll want to make some playlists as well. Music works well for some and not at all for others. Play around with it if you have the time.

If this is your first year doing NaNo, you may be wrestling with the decision of whether or not you tell friends and family what you’re doing.  The first year I participated, I largely kept it a secret. Considering my life situation at the time, it wasn’t all the difficult, but I was almost embarrassed to be doing it. I guess I was concerned about telling people what it was and then having them ask me a million questions I wasn’t ready to answer or worse yet, asking to read the thing! Oh the HORROR! I think I was also afraid that if I didn’t complete the 50k that it’d be another failure they could add to their lists. Harsh thinking perhaps, but let’s just say I wasn’t in the best frame of mind at that point in time. When the following year came along, I was excited to tell people and surprised how many supported and encouraged me, so don’t be afraid to let people know. They’ll  be impressed. Really.

So get in your last minute things folks, because starting tomorrow, it’s all writing, all the time. Build your worlds and kill your characters and remember to stop here daily for some writing tips and encouragement.

Best of luck everyone and remember to have fun! Go to a write-in or two. Kill off everyone and introduce someone new. Add some humor to your story and when in doubt, blow shit up. Happy Writing!

Book Review – Dawn of Darkness

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Title: Dawn of Darkness (Daeva)

Author: Daniel A. Kaine

Genre: Paranormal


Amazon Summary:

 Unburdened by the pain of loss and heartbreak, Mikhail is content with his life of solitude. But everything began to change the day he realised he has a psychic ability — the power to alter the emotions of those around him.
Mikhail is ushered into the Military Academy with others like him — other Daevas — where he does his part to help tip the scales of war against the vampires that destroyed the world and plague what remains of humanity. But after going up against his first vampire, Mikhail starts to question everything he thought to be true.

To discover the truth and expose the lies he once believed, Mikhail will set out on a journey of discovery, and learn some things about himself in the process.

 

Personal Reaction:

I had read a beta version of this and loved it! The final product is even better. It’s not a typical vamp/supernatural story so it was nice to feel like I hadn’t read it before (as I do with many other vampire books out there these days).
There’s action, romance, suspense, and some sexy time scenes that may very well leave you needing a smoke when you’re done reading it. The characters are well rounded and likable. You’ll come to care what happens to them. 

 

Questions:

This go round, I wanted to do something a little different. I opted to interview not the author of this great book, but two of main characters (and a sexy couple!), Mikhail (Mik) and Ashley (Ash). I asked some hard hitting questions, but the boys did not disappoint in the least!

 

Q) Mik, what did you think the first time you saw Ash?

Mik: Kill me. Kill me, now. We met for the first time when I moved into the dorms. I was already pissed that I had to share a room, but I was at least hoping for someone who kept to themselves. Instead, I got this moron.
Ash: Ah, come on. It wasn’t that bad.
Mik: You wouldn’t stop pestering me! I couldn’t even eat in peace. He was so stubborn and annoying, and he’d flirt with pretty much anything… including me.
Ash: I thought it might help you open up a bit.  *smirks* I guess it worked.

Q) Did it bother you when he had one night conquests?

Mik: It didn’t bother me so much. If anything, I was happy to get a few moments of peace while he was out. It was only when he brought people back to the room that it annoyed me.
Ash: Hey, I didn’t do that often. And only when you weren’t in the room.
Mik: You could have at least left a sign on the door to warn me though. The things I’ve accidentally walked in on… they can’t be unseen!
Ash: And who’d want to unsee them?

Q) Ash, were you always interested in Mik? Or did it grow as you got to know him? (it=interest, not uhh anything else)

Ash: Oh, he definitely grew on me. *sniggers* Well, I can’t deny there was a bit of interest to begin with. I mean, he’s not a bad looking guy, but his attitude was awful. I wanted to like him, but he made that incredibly difficult. It took a month or so before he started to open up. After that, we just started hanging out more and more.

Q) Speaking of interest, anyone else on the team spark any? Brad (mmm muscles)? Lucas? (I’d worry his speed would not work well in uhh other areas…) Katiya?

Ash: *shrugs* Brad’s a little too muscly for my tastes. Lucas was alright, but definitely straight. Kat… well, it’s complicated. I made a pact not to get involved with anyone in the squad. *laughs* Well, so much for that…

Q) Ash, did you feel any guilt over your first time with Mik, considering his emotional and drunken state at the time?

Ash: At first, yes. But we were both drunk and feeling a little vulnerable… I think we both needed it as much as the other.

Q) Did either of you worry whether or not your gifts would affect your relationship?

Mik: No.
Ash: It was because of our gifts that I managed to finally get Mik to open up. He was struggling a little with his ability.
Mik: Was not.
Ash: Were too. You couldn’t shield yourself to save your life. When he finally stopped being stubborn, I helped him train. That was when he started to open up a little.

Q) Mik, tell the truth now, what did you think of Nate when you first saw him in all his ginger glory?

Mik: I dunno. I mean, with everything that had just happened… I wasn’t sure what to think. I guess I was a little relieved that there was someone I could relate to.
Ash: *nudges Mik with his elbow* You know, I think she’s asking if you thought he was hot. She has a crush on him. (Hey now! This interview is about you guys! Not me. –MB)
Mik: *blushes* What? I never thought about Nate like that. He was just a friend.

Q) Let’s get a little more personal, shall we? Ash, how about sharing your favorite Mik related fantasy with us?

Ash: Tough one. There’s a lot I can choose from. I’d love to get him tied up though.
Mik: You are NOT tying me up.
Ash: *grins* You’ll come around in the end. (Freudian slip?? –MB)

Q) How about you Mik? Got any fantasies? Maybe involving you and Ash and a certain ginger?

Mik: I already said Nate was just a friend!
Ash: *shrugs* He was alright-looking. You couldn’t pay me enough to share Mik with him though. So, any fantasies you wanna share, Mik?
Mik: N-no. I… I don’t think about that much.
Ash: You sure? Not even a little bit? You don’t lie there at night, thinking about all the things we could do together?
Mik: Well, there is one thing I’ve always wanted to do.
Ash: What would that be?
Mik: Gag you.
Ash: Kinky *wiggles his eyebrows*
Mik: Not really. I just want you to shut up sometimes.
Ash: *pouts*

Q)  Alright, enough of that, let’s get down to the real business. Mik, Ash, tell us what’s so great about Dawn of Darkness (Daeva) and why should people buy it?

Ash: Hot sex. (It is indeed smokin’ –MB)
Mik: *facepalm* Buy it because we have real non-sparkling vampires.
Ash: And psychics. I mean, why have one when you can both? Plus, we’re hotter than your average psychic.

Q) Also, what can we expect from you guys in the future? More sexy time scenes I hope!

Mik: A couple of people have mentioned wanting to see some more exploration into the magic of other Daeva’s… there’s a bit of that, though I won’t say whose magic will be explored and developed. Hmm, what else?
Ash: Well, the clue is in the sequel’s title, really. ‘Origin of Darkness’. A lot happened in the past that led up to the events that took place in the first book. Things that we missed the first time round, or happened before we were brought into the picture.
Mik: And if you’ve ever wondered how vampires came into existence in the Daeva world… that’s in there too.
Ash: Along with a giant spider.
Mik: Seriously? A giant spider?
Ash: *grins* Yup, you’ll have to wait til next year to find out what the Hell I’m on about though.

Q) Thanks for playing along guys! I look forward to more of the Adventurous Romps of Mik & Ash—uhh I mean to the sequel of Dawn of Darkness!

Ash: Oh, don’t worry… I’m sure you’ll be seeing plenty more romps when I get my way.
Mik: If you get your way.
Ash: Please, have you met our author? He couldn’t keep his mind out of the gutter if you duct-taped it to a fricking jet plane!
Mik: You know, it usually not a good idea to make wisecracks at your author, but I have to agree.
Ash: *shrugs* He’ll probably take it as a compliment anyway. And what’s the worst he could do to us?
Mik: I’d rather not find out.

 

Dawn of Darkness (Daeva) can be purchased at the following locations:

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005XLPH3Q
Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/97919 ($0.99 with code “KC75Z” for the rest of the month of October)

You can contact the author at the following locals:

FB: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Daniel-A-Kaine/180865771969754
Twitter: @shiki_boy
G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101263062423877058875/posts
Blog: http://danielakaine.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: Break The Rules And Become A NaNoWriMo Rebel

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NaNoWriMo is a great idea. It’s a whole month dedicated to trying to write a novel. If you want support, there are forums on the site and local chapters, and a whole lot of people worldwide that know exactly what you are going through.

There’s only one problem with NaNoWriMo, the rules! They’re great for some writers, but they don’t work for everyone, including me, and a lot of writers I know. I played by them my first time, in 2004, with a novel idea I loved. I completed 50,000 words in 30 days, but I’ve never been able to revise or rewrite that mess (and I’ve tried several times). After that I played by my own rules, until 2009, when I tried it their way again. It was another complete disaster of a novel.

Playing by their rules wasn’t all bad. It helped me get into the habit of writing every day and it pushed me to meet a huge goal. Now that I’ve tried it (twice!), I’ll be playing by my own rules for my sixth NaNoWriMo. Here are six tips to make NaNoWriMo work for you:

1. Start when you want to start. If you have an idea for a first sentence or three chapters before NaNoWriMo officially starts, go ahead and write them. Just don’t include the pre-writing word count as part of your final total. Aim to write 50,000 new words for the month, even if you don’t start your novel on November first. I have one writer friend who has to write the opening sentence in October, and another who has to write the beginning and ending scene to the novel before starting.

2. Don’t worry about word count. Word count can make you obsess about how many words you are typing instead of the quality of those words, or whether they help move the story forward. Try to write more than you would in a normal month, no matter what the word count ends up being at the end.

3. Rewrite or revise an old idea. If you need or want to work on an existing project instead of something new, do that. It’s better to reach a goal on a project you’ve got going, than to get writers block on a new project because you can’t get the other story out of your head.

4. Write more than one story. If you’re not finished with the novel you’re already writing by November first, finish it before starting a new novel (include those words in your final total too, as long as you wrote them in November). If you’re writing short stories or a chapter book series, use multiple stories as your NaNoWriMo novel.

5. Write your own rules. Use whatever tricks you have up your sleeve to make writing a priority for the month. Some ideas: treat yourself for meeting weekly goals, announce your goals publicly and be accountable to a writing partner, your family, or the internet, or set a timer (10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, etc) every time you sit down to write, and when the timer goes off, continue writing until you get to the end of the scene or chapter.

6. Follow the rules. I know, this is supposed to be about breaking the rules, but if they work for you, keep doing what works.

Be a NaNoRebel and make the challenge fit your goals. Remember, if you break the rules one year, that doesn’t mean you can’t follow them again the next time.

p.s. If you’ve never done NaNoWriMo and aren’t sure you can do it, check out my post: Six tips for writing 50k in 30 days for NaNoWriMo!

Today’s guest post is brought to you by writer & artist extraordinaire, Ani Louise! Who thought a rule breaker could be so  cute?

Bio: Ani Louise is a MG/YA writer, artist, and zombie cheerleading coach. She tells stories so other people can hear the voices in her head, and likes to hang out on Twitter as Ani_Lou   She blogs occasionally here .

Guest Post: On Inspiration and Imagination

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So, it’s Friday – 10 days, nine hours, fourteen minutes and forty five seconds … forty four seconds …forty three seconds to my first Nanowrimo, and the day I should have my blog post finished.

Finished! Started would be pretty good.

As usual, there have been lots of good intentions and fresh ideas. Lots of times that my mind has wandered off into the wild blue yonder in search of inspiration, and been inspired, truly.

Yes, inspiration does strike when you least expect it. Which is why none of these inspirations have hit the screen or seen the paper – I haven’t been expecting them so I haven’t kept a note of them.

The best time is when I’m walking the dog. Each time I put his lead on I think about taking a notebook out with me, but as I don’t want to carry anything carry I tell myself that if inspiration strikes I will dictate into my mobile. So, there I am, a couple of miles from home when, suddenly out of nowhere the ideal solution as to how the judge was really murdered pops into my head. That’s when I realise that my phone is not mobile but static … on the dining table!

So, it’s NaNoWriMo in ten days, nine hours, six minutes and twelve seconds and I have actually spent most of October preparing for it. Well, not exactly; I have actually spent the majority of October planning to prepare for it; the rest has been preparing to prepare for it.

I started off at a gallop. Writing lists, plotting plots, sketching characters …

The problem is, once I have planned something I forget about it – it’s as though my brain thinks I have actually done the task I had planned for. Sports psychologists tell us that when we are training for an event or a match we should envisage the whole thing, step by step. Envisage each hole on the golf course and envisage playing the perfect shot. Imagine walking off the eighteenth green knowing that you have won – this apparently will give your brain the knowledge that it can succeed, and gives your subconscious a way of achieving that success.

However, my imagination is so vivid that as soon as I’ve imagined writing The End” at the bottom of my final chapter, my brain thinks I’ve actually written my book and goes into congratulation mode! I then envisage myself standing on stage accepting a prize for my debut novel, but I need to lose a couple of stones first; I picture myself having finished a diet and weighing 8 stone so now my brain is telling me to go out shopping for size eight clothes. As I can’t actually afford a brand new wardrobe I imagine becoming a best-selling author with a huge advance for a series of novels; I see myself paying the cheque into the bank, being invited into the manager’s office for advice as to how best to invest my millions and then walking to my favourite jewellers. So, by now I’m a size eight, incredibly wealthy prize winning novelist. I don’t actually have to write another word, it’s taken me about ten minutes to visualise it and my brain thinks that’s it, time to relax with a cup of tea!

Of course, I don’t just imagine the cup of tea – I actually leave my desk to go and make it and then I have to take the dog for a walk. You know what happens next: I get really inspired but, of course, have no pen or paper with me and instantly forget the inspiration. So hours after I started I’ve been inspired to do absolutely nothing.

Help!

No, these psychologists have got it wrong, for me in any event. What they should be doing is telling me not to think of the end product, but to think about the enthusiasm I have at the start of a project. The excitement of having the idea and settling down to actually write. The feeling of satisfaction I will have of actually completing the first chapter, not the first series. I need to find a way of making myself sit down on a daily basis and actually getting words onto the paper.

But, prior to that, I need to find my shopping lists and get off my bottom to go and buy stuff and then come back and actually cook it and freeze it, not just imagine it. Then I’ll really feel prepared to sit down and write a novel in a month. Roll on November.  Roll on NaNoWriMo – bring it on – I can do it – I already have, just now, in my head!

Glossary:

Mobile             =          Cellphone

8 stone             =          112 lbs

Size 8              =          Size 4

 

This great  across the pond post comes from a Nano first timer, the lovely Rita Bailey! Best of luck Rita!

BTW, I <3 the Glossary!

I’m Rita Bailey (also known on NaNoWriMo as RitaMeekat and on Twitter as QuirkyJibbles) from beautiful Lincoln in the UK. I love writing and am lucky enough to spend my time writing blurb for other people’s websites, which is probably why I haven’t yet got a website of my own!

I’ve got at least two books in my head, one of which I’m currently working on for NaNo (I’m a NaNo Newbie) and the other is a historical novel for which I’m doing loads of research. When I’m not writing I spend my time planning to write (which is what I call it when I’m reading, walking the dog, daydreaming etc).

Book Review – Farsighted

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Today’s book review is very exciting for me to bring to you because it’s for a great YA paranormal novel put out by a lovely friend, Emlyn Chand.  Emlyn and I met through Twitter and became fast friends. I was luckly enough to beta read the first half of this book months ago and I’m super excited to be a part of the blog tour now that the book has finally hit the “shelves”.

Title:  Farsighted

Author: Emlyn Chand

Genre:  YA Paranormal

Amazon Summary: 

Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival–an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

Personal reaction:

Luckily, I got to see this story from its first draft to the final product and I enjoyed it immensely. It’s something different compared to a lot of the YA stuff that’s out right now. While Alex has this sight, he’s definitely not the super hero type (even though he would very much like to be). He comes off as very real; a sullen, moody, hormonal teen.  I liked that it wasn’t very predictable. When you read a lot of YA, it’s sometimes very easy to figure out what’s going to happen next. I didn’t really have much of that with Farsighted, a definite plus. If you’re looking for something a little different in the YA paranormal genre, definitely pick this up!

 

Questions:

Q) Is Farsighted your first novel?

R) Nope. It’s my second. After lots of back and forth, I decided my first novel would be better off unpublished. So with that said, it’s important to remember that not every work has to be published. My first novel was important, because it taught me I could see an entire novel through from start to finish. But in that first novel, I made lots of mistakes as a writer. Luckily, I learned what my faults were and sought out ways to improve upon them. And Farsighted is the better for it.

Q) In a category where fantasy currently runs rampant (vampires, fae, etc.), what made you choose to go a different route with a main character with psychic abilities?

R) Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.

Q) Being female, what made you opt for a male main character?

R) Again it goes back to that initial glimpse of myself in the mirror and somehow linking it to Tieresias from Greek mythology. I always saw Alex as a boy.  It was fun to think outside of my gender, my age group, my physical abilities – everything.

Q) What was the most difficult part of writing Farsighted?

R) The hardest part was getting started! I spent about three months trying to talk myself out of writing Farsighted. It’s too ambitious, my inner critic pointed out. You’ll never get it done, not in the way it deserves to be done, it pressed. But there was another part of me that couldn’t resist; I knew I had to at least try before giving up. So glad I decided to be an optimist for a change!

Q) How did your personal experiences influence your writing?

R) Farsighted’s fictional town of Grandon is based on my hometown; it’s small and kind of boring. I couldn’t wait to escape and move on to bigger and better things. My home town was mostly Caucasian, but somehow I ended up with a very diverse set of friends even though they made up less than 1% of the student body. Fast forward a few years, and I end up marrying a man from India. He’s from New Delhi, like Simmi. I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures; I even decided to pursue my Master’s in Sociology for this very reason. I credit two early life influences for this attraction:  1) My adoration of A.C. Slater in Saved by the Bell, 2) Disney’s Aladdin being the best movie ever.

Q) Did you have to do a lot of research before writing?

R) Absolutely. Research is a must for world-building, authenticity and just honing one’s craft in general. I started in on Farsighted by reading tons and tons of books before doing ANYTHING else—I read about world folklore and superstitions, religions especially Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, psychic powers, the occult, blindness, and even Nostradamus. I learned how to cast runes and perform a ten-card Celtic Cross Tarot reading. I had nightmares for several weeks, but then they eventually stopped, and I started writing.

Q) I know that YA wasn’t always your first choice when it came to writing, what prompted you to give it a try?

R) My first novel was literary women’s fiction. It didn’t capture who I am or what my strengths are— that’s why it’s taken up permanent residence in my desk drawer. When I was ready to write my second novel, I had 4 ideas that really excited me—a dystopian novel, historical fiction, chick lit, and what became Farsighted. I thought each idea out and wrote sample pages or character sketches as practice (I call this the left-brained approach to brainstorming books as described in the article I wrote here). The Farsighted pages were the easiest to write, and they were the ones my trusted beta readers liked best too, so I decided to give it a try.

Q) Who are your writing influences?

R) In truth, I’m influenced by everything I read (for better or worse). My primary influences are JK Rowling for awesome world-building and unrivaled dialogue-writing skill, Anne M Martin for first making me love books, John Irving for incredible characterization, Suzanne Collins for riveting action, and Vladimir Nabokov for seamless and beautiful prose.

Q) Who are your favorite YA authors?

Ooo. JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and JD Salinger are classic faves. I’m currently reading Matched by Ally Condie and am absolutely loving it. Next up is the Tiger series by Colleen Houck, another set of books I anticipate greatly enjoying.

Q) Just for fun, if Farsighted was made into a major Broadway musical, what would the name of big number be?

Is it bad that I totally have a musical planned out in my head already? A few months ago, I set out to write an edgy rock ballad to represent Farsighted, but it came out like a diddy from Rent. The title of my musicale’s big number would be “Tomorrow is Today (but still so far away).” A musical version of Farsighted would be so, so cool! Thanks for indulging my fantasy a bit ;-)

Q) What can we expect next from you?

R) I’m working on book two in the Farsighted series. It’s called Open Heart and will be written from the point-of-view of a different main character. I’m also toying with the idea of a special hardcover edition of Farsighted Book 1 with new chapters added to the end and a sneak peek of Open Heart.

Q) Where can fans purchase Farsighted and contact you?

R) You can get Farsighted in the Amazon Kindle store or in the eBook shop of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24, which is also my birthday—hooray! To get in touch with me, visit my website at www.emlynchand.com, or look me up at:  FacebookTwitter, Google+, GoodReads, or LibraryThing.

Blog Tour Notes

THE BOOK:  Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).

THE CASH PRIZES:  Guess what? You could win a $100 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $100 too! Please help by voting for my blog, Keystrokes & Work Counts, in the traffic-breaker poll. To cast your vote, visit the official Farsighted blog tour page and scroll all the way to the bottom. Thank you for your help with that.

THE GIVEAWAYS:  Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.

THE AUTHOR:  Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

MORE FUN: There’s more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer and take the quiz to find out which character is most like you!