Top 5 #YALit Ships

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One thing that YA literature does so well is romance! Whether it be a subplot, or from the romance genre itself, the relationships included in YA books are always exciting. Having said that, some are susceptible to insta-love, some are triangles or even squares, but overall, the good romances far outweigh the bad. So here are my top five that I want to share with you.

These ships are in no particular order.

1.

Cinder/Kai

(from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

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(c) Hamabee

Cinder, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation. – from Goodreads.com

Even though Cinder is a Cinderella retelling, and so it would be obvious she ended up with the Prince, I was still rooting for Cinder and Kai from the moment they met at Cinder’s repair shop. There was something so un-Prince like when Kai was introduced, and I love how he accepts her for who she is.

2.

Hazel/Gus

(from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green)

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(c) IMDb

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. – from Goodreads.com

The one thing I love about The Fault in Our Stars is that there is no love triangle. The romance is totally focused on Hazel and Gus supporting each other through difficult times, spending time together and having fun. Of course, this story is heart-wrenching, but Gazel‘s love even transcends time, which makes it pretty epic to me!

3.

Charlotte/Jamie

(from A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro)

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(c) Epic Reads

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar. From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. – from Goodreads.com

If you’re an avid watcher of the BBC series Sherlock, you might be aware of the intense Holmes/Watson shipping that has been born from the show. This intense relationship has definitely translated into Cavallaro’s novel based on the detective duo! Once again, the on and off, friends or more relationship is just as fast paced as the story, and keeps you gunning for the couple, right up until the end. I’m sure we’ll find out whether Charlotte and Jamie get together in The Case for Jamie, scheduled to be released in 2018.

4.

Gwenyth/Gideon

(from The Precious Stone Trilogy by Kerstin Gier)

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(c) IMDb

Sixteen-year-old Gwen lives with her extended – and rather eccentric – family in an exclusive London neighborhood. In spite of her ancestors’ peculiar history, she’s had a relatively normal life so far. She’s totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention all that comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society, and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He’s obnoxious, a know-it-all, and possibly the best-looking guy she’s seen in any century. – from Goodreads.com

Although there was no doubt in my mind that Gwen and Gideon would end up together, there was certainly lots of back and forth from the both of them throughout the trilogy, enriched by their witty banter and natural chemistry. There’s something about this time traveling couple that has me begging for a sequel!

5.

Rose/Dimitri

(from The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead)

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(c) IMDb

Lissa Dragomir is a Moroi princess: a mortal vampire with a rare gift for harnessing the earth’s magic. She must be protected at all times from Strigoi; the fiercest vampires – the ones who never die. The powerful blend of human and vampire blood that flows through Rose Hathaway, Lissa’s best friend, makes her a dhampir. Rose is dedicated to a dangerous life of protecting Lissa from the Strigoi, who are hell-bent on making Lissa one of them. – from Goodreads.com

I saw the Vampire Academy film before I read the books (shock horror) and loved how Rose and Dimitri’s chemistry leaped off of the screen. I was also happy to find the same for the book and was impressed about how Mead navigated the, always awkward, student-mentor relationship. This was one of the first ships that I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, and really kept me on my toes right up until the last book!

So these are my top five ships from the YA Literature scene! Are these some of your favourite ships? Or do you have some you think I’ll like? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

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Author Interview: A Solitary Romance by Violet Sparks

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Are you looking for the perfect summer contemporary? Something to read on holiday, on a sun lounger, cocktail in hand? Look no further.

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Violet Sparks has released her debut romance novel, A Solitary Romance, and the first book in the Only Love series, which follows Katrina Crimshaw and her double life. An auditor by day and jewelry blogger at night, she meets the man of her dreams and her life becomes even more complicated. Juggling success under a pen name with her day job and continued encounters with Robert, a man from her past that she adored from afar, proves complicated for the shy bean counter. When an attractive museum director enters her life, all bets are off as the day dreaming Katrina tries to make sense of her predicament.
When passion flares in this second chance romance, will she let love slip through her fingers again?

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Violet on the ins and outs of being an author.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I generally write in the third person limited or omniscient style.  I have to say, I begin by the seat of my pants and allow my characters full reign.  About one-third to half-way through the book, I’ll sit down and outline the rest of the novel to keep things on track.  At this point, I’ve got a good idea where all the personalities will end up.

How did you come up with the title?

The main character, Katrina Crimshaw, is a jewelry aficionado.  She runs into a man from her past, someone she found incredibly attractive but was too shy to pursue.  I combined the idea of a solitaire ring, representing her love of jewels, with the loneliness that sometimes accompanies someone who is fearful or shy, and came up with A Solitary Romance.

What books have most influenced your life most?

The Bible has had the biggest impact on my life.  The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk who lived in the 1600s, is an amazing book that I can read over and over.  Coming Out of the Ice by Victor Herman also affected me—it’s a wonderful tribute to the human spirit.  I can’t leave out the books by Dickens, Austen, and the Brontë sisters, which I read in my youth.  Their works definitely lent an idealism to my mindset (which does not seem to belong to this century!), and shaped my ideas of what romance and love should be. 

Do you have any advice for other writers?

My advice to other writers is to keep on writing!  Find a good editor you enjoy working with and don’t rush your writing process.  Read and write as much as possible and do not allow others to discourage you. 

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

I’ve always loved how Charles Dickens could weave a story together with unforgettable characters and intersecting plots.  I appreciate how he inserted humor in his books as well.  I admire the way William Faulkner packed a punch and how the Brontës created amazing atmospheres, including unexpected twists in their stories.  The contemporary author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, is a master of characters, atmosphere, and storylines.   

What genre do you consider your book(s)?

A Solitary Romance is a sweet, or clean and wholesome, romance.  It is book one of the Only Love Series, which currently consists of three books.  I have also written mysteries under a pen name.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I haven’t yet had a serious writer’s block.  With every book, I do come to a place where I just have to grind out the story.  I don’t particularly enjoy this part of my writing process, but I’ve yet to escape this phase.  Luckily, it only lasts for a chapter or two, and then I’m over the hump.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

I would not say that I’ve hated any of my work.  Anything can be polished, rewritten, examined with a fresh eye, or edited for improvement.  I do go through some fear each time I start a new book.  Will I be able to come up with anything funny?  Can I do the characters justice?  Will unnecessary details hinder the story?  In other words, how can I possibly pull this off?

What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

I cannot pick a favorite a genre.  All of my books have at least a hint of romance, so maybe that’s my top choice.  The Only Love Series is straight-up romance, although the third book, A Calculated Romance, has a touch of suspense and mystery.  I like to incorporate a twist or even several unexpected events in my novels, so that’s a theme to look for.

Where did your love of writing come from?

I have always loved storytelling.  My mother used to catch me as a toddler making up stories for my own entertainment.  She fostered my love of writing by introducing me to classic literature in grade school, and I won writing awards as a teen.  Then, life and career got in the way.  I always hoped to return to writing, and the encouragement of a friend got the ball rolling for me. 

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of penning A Solitary Romance was just taking the plunge.  I experienced a personal loss around the time that the idea started to sprout.  I think this book provided a much needed distraction during those first, early stages of grief.  With its overall light tone, the writing allowed me a welcome reprieve from reality.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

A Solitary Romance is ever so slightly autobiographical.  I enjoyed reliving my early career days and the fun I had with one of my girl pals.  Also, because everything in the book felt familiar, it required little research.  I appreciated how my writing could flow without stopping to investigate other subjects.  Because I love the arts, I savored drawing on my experiences at a major auction house.  There’s a scene in the book where a character helps her friend squeeze into a gown in a dressing room by very creative means.  This actually happened, and my friend managed to fit me in that tight, red dress by the same method!  Just thinking about that little episode brings a smile to my face!

Do you write every single day?

I find I produce my best work when I am writing every day.  I aim to write six days a week, although I’ve slipped off a little this summer since my children are out of school.

Which writers inspire you?

So many authors inspire me.  At the top of the list are Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, the Brontës, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and Irène Némirovsky for her spectacular, unfinished, Suite Française.  I went through a stage where I only read history or biographies, and I greatly admire the work of David McCullough.  His books read like novels and bring the people of the past alive.  I always appreciate any writer who can surprise me with a plot twist or unexpected outcome.

What are you working on at the minute?

I am beginning the research for a novel set in the medieval period.

What is your latest book about?

My latest book is third in the Only Love Series, A Calculated Romance.  This is the story of Katrina’s assistant, a young rock hound named Landi, and what happens when her path crosses with that of James Crimshaw.  James is featured in the first three books of the series.  He is Kate’s brother and a naval intelligence officer.  Both he and Landi have murky pasts and a strong attraction to each other.

A Solitary Romance is available to buy from Amazon

Find out more about Violet’s books at: https://violetsparksauthor.com

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Writing a Book: My Tips & Tricks

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I have written a book, which is a phrase I never thought I would say, no matter how much I wanted to. It’s always been a headliner on my bucket list, and last November after a grueling attempt at NaNoWriMo, I managed to tick it off.

I have not ever published a book, but I’m working on it, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to tick that off the bucket list too. But after four years of would-be-novel writing, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks to help you on your way to a finished manuscript.

1

Make a list of genres/narratives/plot devices/settings you love.

I sat in front of my bookshelf, looked up at all of my well-loved books and asked myself “what is it about these books that I love?” Here were some of the answers I came up with:

The sea, lyrical writing, boarding schools, room mates/flat mates, no parents, freedom and independence, letters, philosophy, candidness of feeling, metaphor, living in sections/houses/districts/factions, snow, road trips, epic romances, being stuck somewhere, elements, magic, mystery, royalty, marriage, death/grief, group dynamics, history and many more.

2

Make a list of names for characters you love.

You can do this by either going on a baby name website, or for something more periodic you could always go and look at the gravestones of people from a certain time period. This may spark some thoughts as to the identity behind the name, or character traits. Some names I love and plan on using are:

George, Corey, Greta, Matthew, Sasha, Kendra, Laurie, Harry, Lisel, Brodie, Annalise, Catelynn, Ida, Lydia, Teddy, Karen, Shay, Daya, Torin, and many more.

3

Make a summary or short synopsis of your story.

Take the plot devices and the names you have just picked out and try to construct a story idea from the elements you’ve chosen. Don’t worry too much about your story sounding like something that’s already been published, some people believe there are only seven basic plots in the world. If we all worried about whether our story was original or not, we wouldn’t have much time for writing! See also: the thirty six dramatic situations.

For example, I could write a story about Laurie, a college freshman and History student, who writes letters to her future self about the lessons she learns from life, whilst slowly falling in love with her room mate.

4

Buy a notebook, small enough to fit in your bag/pocket and big enough for your ideas!

If you are a writer, then there is a large chance you are also a stationary fiend. Writing a book gives you license to go to your local retailer and stock up on pens, post-it notes, highlighters, paper clips and a notebook (or a few). If you carry around your notebook with you at all times, you can write down an idea when the moment strikes, which is handy if you are particularly forgetful.

When I was working on my NaNoWriMo project, I had my notebook with me at all times!

5

Write an outline, however vague or detailed.

My outline was similar to a script format. I detailed where the scene was taking place, who was there and important factors worth noting. I also wrote the bare bones of the dialogue between the two characters, or bare description of what a character was doing in the particular scene. After I had done this for the beginning, middle and end of the book, I went back through it and added in description, building the image of my scene from the ground up. The structure I had gave me something to work with, which really, really helped during my writing period.

And lastly, set yourself a goal. Whether you aim to write a hundred words a day or a thousand, it’s important to stay focused and disciplined.

I hope this little article has helped inspire a few of you to get writing. Let me know down in  the comments if any of these tips work for you!

blue butterfly – the story of us

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The first day I met him, he was

in my coffee shop on the corner

of St. George’s street.

 

It was Friday, at just gone 4pm

and I was drying latte glasses

putting them back on the shelf.

 

He could have gone

to McDonalds across the road for

‘Caution: Extra Hot’ coffee,

but he didn’t seem like the kind of

extra this or that guy.

 

The rain came down

like shards of fine, broken up,

smooth by the time it hit the ground.

Rain always made me want to dance,

but I had other glass to clean.

 

It spotted his grey zip up,

with a hood he never took shelter in.

The ends of his long hair,

rat like and straight

down his back.

 

Hands dug deeply

into his pockets, he ordered a

‘Coffee’

I asked, ‘what kind?’

And he shrugged.

Most people ask for

A skinny shot extra hot combination

lock to unlock their tired eyes

and mac computers sitting hunched,

so over, hung, over,

one by one like single strands of unnumbered days,

wired up to their life support

with spaghetti strap beat makers.

Click

But he just looked at me

With his brown eyes

Like he just needed something,

And so I poured him a coffee.

 

I made him my favourite.

A caramel macchiato,

Sweet and to the point.

He paid in silvers and sat

at the window

counting the droplets on

the smeared window pane.

 

He even took out a notebook

and pen, a walking cliché

except for his hair.

His hair, I liked.

 

I served a trickle of other

non-people, and eventually forgot

all about him

sitting in the corner of my coffee shop, half hidden by

A peace lily

until just before closing when I had finished cleaning

the glass. He got up and returned his cup.

‘Thank you.’

And I watched him go, reaching

for the handle.

‘Hey,’ I called after him.

He turned, biting his lip gently.

‘Got time for another?’

He shuffled, momentarily.

‘On the house.’

With a smile, he sat

at the bar, I placed down the last glass

on my shelf, fresh and warm from the dishwasher.

 

We laughed and talked

about our pasts, our backgrounds

in music. I thought about how I would find

the words to write all of this down.

‘Aren’t we just a pair of clichés?’ I laughed.

He shook his head, sliding over a piece

of paper

of his heart

with his name and number

tattooed onto: our fingertips touched.

‘Stories always have to begin somewhere.’

 

He showed me the West End.

We walked, arms linked, side by side, together, smiling

up at the lights, darting between

the dark clouds spitting

into our eyes.

‘Somehow, it’s always raining,’ I mused,

thinking about other places

he might take me.

 

We hop-scotched

shots of single malt

our expensive taste

of what was not

us,

smoke and mirrors,

fake names, dinner and a show.

We skipped the show

to walk along the thames,

dropping pencil to paper scratched

dreams and fears

into: the current.

 

We watched them float

away, holding the idea

of them in our mouths, the same warm taste

of the day we’d had. And even then

I missed him. I missed the way he didn’t

even need to look at me before

his hand held mine. I knew then.

I knew I wanted to tell him

what was written on my

float away dream.

How I’d found the words

to write and tell, how all of this began.

 

In the sea air, I breathe

him in, and feel

the weight clasping against my back

bone. The shore whispers,

“he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone,”

and I throw stones to silence

them, until my arm aches.

 

First was his throat,

sore, and with the occasional tissue,

covered in blood. His light,

The second, when he could not express

his need for solace

in the dim darkness

of his bedroom,

where the curtains hung limp

like peeled skin.

 

I just lay beside him,

my arms wrapped around

and entwined my fingers in his silky hair.

But that was just. It.

The third.

I knew then, the moment

the first strand came apart, still laced

through my fingertips.

I knew then how he would leave me.

And how the day I met him

could never be described as a tragedy

and how it could never be a loss,

because from him, I had gained more

than a life, more

than his heart, more

than just another cup of coffee.

This time I didn’t need to find the words.

And neither could he.

‘Our lives in turn will always become great stories; it’s just finding the person to pass it on that matters.’

 

The sea never gave me any comfort.

Not before today.

But somehow it tells me,

with the gentle to and fro of the tide,

that nothing in this world will ever really leave us,

and if it does, it will always come back,

one way or another.