Bookstore Tourist: Starline Books in Chattanooga, TN

Something I’ve recently decided I want to try to do when I visit a town is find an indie bookstore there, visit it, and buy something from them. I did this with Sundog Books in Seaside, FL a year and a half ago, so when my husband and I planned a little impromptu trip to Chattanooga (about an hour and a half from us), I Googled for an indie and learned about Starline. 
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Starline Books is in downtown Chattanooga on Market Street, right across from the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo. In case you’re ever looking for it yourself, know that it is inside a larger building. We actually circled around trying to find it because we saw a sign but not a storefront, and then when we came back around my husband realized it was inside a building that had a few businesses inside. Also, it has both an uptsairs and downstairs, and downstairs is where the YA section is.

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Oh how I wanted that illustrated Harry Potter, but wasn’t ready to fork over that money quite yet! However, both my husband and I each picked out a book to take home (plus free bookmarks!).

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Ruta lives in middle Tennessee and she’s coming to my town in March, so I thought buying one of her books would help move her up my TBR, as I’ve been saying for ages I need to read something by her! My husband has been reading the Mary Russell books ever since we read the first one for our college English class, and he was glad to finally see this one out in paperback. In case you’re curious about the mug, this photo was taken at The Hot Chocolatier, an AMAZING place just a couple doors down from the bookstore.

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I had the S’mores hot chocolate, he had the classic hot chocolate, and we shared this eclair, and there were so many other tasty looking treats. Guys, that S’mores hot chocolate may have been the tastiest drink I have ever put in my mouth. This place exceeded my expectations. We sat in the back of the shop by ourselves and it was so chill. It was exactly what I needed on this little getaway.

So if you ever find yourself in Chattanooga, TN, do yourself a favor and check out these gems!

Do you have a favorite indie bookstore you’ve visited in another town? 

Birthday Book Haul!

My birthday was this Sunday, and while it has come and gone, the gift of books remains! I also got some music, TV/movies, and some some cute Funko Pops, including one you’ll see hanging out with my new books, but of course wanted to highlight THE BOOKS…

book-haul

Yes, that’s Hermione! I know she would approve of books for birthday presents. Now I just wish I could read all of them NOW, but I’ll have to wait and read them one at a time. I also just realized a few days before my birthday that Sharon Cameron is a local author and I’ve seen her for the past three years at the local SCBWI conference I attend! That made me even happier to get Rook.

Now… any recommendations for which I should read first? 

It Will Happen When It’s Supposed To

Last Saturday I attended the SCBWI Midsouth conference for the third time. For the uninitiated, SCBWI is for writers, illustrators, and enthusiasts of children’s literature (which includes young adult). I always walk away from this conference feeling ready encouraged, inspired, and ready to improve my craft. I always meet wonderful people who feel like my people. I could go on about what I learned, but there’s something else in regards to this conference that has got me to thinking: How did I get here?

I believe whole-hardheartedly that things work out the way they do for a reason. I also believe that God is the one who orchestrates all these events in my life and weaves them together just so. But regardless of your beliefs, you have to admit how things come together can be pretty awesome.

I often tout that I had a worthless major in college. And I stand by that. But two things happened in the course of this “worthless major” that I believe led me to SCWBI conferences:

  1. I took a fiction writing class my last semester, because I needed another elective.
  2. I couldn’t get hired straight out of school, so eventually I ended up in a string of temp positions.

The fiction writing class is what got me back into writing. I clung to writing during that time of unemployment when I felt so useless. As for the temp position, that is where I met the woman who first told me about SCBWI.

At my first SCBWI conference, I really had no idea what to expect. I went in there thinking I knew one person, but reconnected with another girl who lived in my town that I had known from church. We ended up in the same critique group at the end of the day, and we kept in touch. That day I also met another girl who lived in our town. We stayed somewhat connected, though we did not hear as much from her as she became a new mom. Then several months ago, she reached out to me and the first girl, and we have been meeting and critiquing each other pretty consistently ever since. It was so great to sit with both of them at the conference this year.

I also learned about publishing from my first SCBWI conference. I was mostly blind to the whole process, but I learned about agents and queries and editors and the whole nine yards.

Before my fiction writing class, I had also been very afraid of sharing my fiction writing. That class was an epiphany – exactly what I needed – the kick in the butt to share. So I was able to share myself, my writing, at these conferences, with these girls I have come to know (and some others as well).

Before the conference this year, I paid for a fifty-page critique of my novel, and it was not an easy thing to do, but it was the right decision. A decision I would have never made, a place I never would have been ready for, had it not been for SCBWI. I got some much-needed constructive criticism. After that critique I improved the first few pages of my story to bring to the conference, and got even more feedback. So I’ll be revising again, on those first few pages and on the rest of the manuscript.

My goal is to have another full revision by the end of this year, ready for some beta readers. This is with the goal of being ready to query sometime early next year. I have made goals like this before that I have not met, but I KNOW I really am much closer this time. Between the paid critique service and my critique partners and what I hear in these conference sessions I know I am headed in the right direction. I am completely convinced I can make my dream to become a published author come true.

And I wonder if I would even be here right now had it not been for that “worthless major.”

So no, I did not get published at 25, I probably won’t have a physical book of mine out by 30 (but hopefully, maybe, I will have a book sold by then?!), but that is OK. I believe publication will come at the right time.

Right now, my own story is being written.

Highs & Lows (A Post About Life)

This past Friday, I attended a concert that featured my two favorite bands, Swicthfoot and Needtobreathe. I cannot begin to explain the depth of my excitement when I found out that they were (1) touring together, (2) coming to Nashville, but if you imagine it was your two favorite artists coming to your town then I’m sure you can understand.

Some highlights of the show included all the guys of Switchfoot gathering around one mic to test the acoustics of the new venue the show was in to sing “Hello Hurricane,” and the opening acts + Switchfoot + Needtobreathe all on stage near the end singing Needtobreathe’s “Brother” together. Not to mention how inspired I always feel when I see Switchfoot (which has been more times than I remember), and how engulfed I felt in the moment when Needtobreathe performed “Multiplied.” I enjoyed both of the opening acts as well, Colony House and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, but especially the former. I look forward to more of them in the future.

That low came on Sunday.

I was turning left onto a busy street that I have turned left onto a hundred times before. I thought it was all clear. It wasn’t.

I’ve been in accidents before, but not like this, where my airbags deployed, paramedics came, and my car got towed away.

My car that I love and haven’t had all that long.

But I am OK. I did get a little bruised and banged up, thanks to the airbags (I’ll just assume it would have been worse without them though and be glad my car kept me safe), but I didn’t need to go to the hospital or anything, and the other driver was fine too.

There were some witnesses to the accident that were so kind to me. One of them even went and got me one of those big bottles of SmartWater, which I will never forget and I am so thankful for, because it was hot and I drank most of it standing out there! I’m also thankful I got off with a warning citation instead of a ticket.

I had some family friends who saw the accident and came back to get my groceries home for me, while I waited for my mom and husband. That evening some friends came over with pizza and to just hang out for a while. It was a nice way to end an otherwise not great day.

It’s just amazing what all can happen in such a short period of time, from highs to lows.

When have you experienced a high and then a low in a short period of time? 

Why Hello

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As it is now August, I suppose I ought to make good on my promise to return from hiatus. I have to admit, I haven’t missed blogging too much while I was away. Sometimes I kind of wanted to write a post, but I was fine with waiting or posting it on my Tumblr (I did two Top Ten Tuesdays there as well as my TNG season 5 recap). I do have a few new post ideas, though only one partially written (whoops), but I will probably keep my posting light going forward as I have decided:

1.) I definitely want to keep my fiction writing as a top priority, and…

2.) I have decided I’m not going to try to keep as a “big” blog.

I really enjoyed growing in subscribers and comments, coming up with different content, but then I felt I plateaued and stagnated. I figured this hiatus would help me determine if I was ready to come back into this full force and try to make this blog bigger and better, or if I would just be content with it as an outlet when I wanted to say something for whoever wanted to read it. And I have decided on the latter.

I am definitely grateful for all my readers and appreciated the comments several of you left on my hiatus post. I hope you will stick around for whatever I may bring.

Here are the posts I do intend to write sometime in the next month…

– Bookish Wedding Inspiration: The Start of Me & You (I’ve gathered a few pictures for this and still have a way’s to go, but I’m REALLY excited about this one!)

– Why You Should Watch Deep Space Nine If You Love Mistborn (& Vice Versa) (This is the one I’ve started writing and I think it’ll be interesting!)

– Mini movie reviews for Inside Out, Ant-Man, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

– Mini book reviews (I haven’t decided how many of the books I will be reviewing from what I read over my hiatus, but I read several good ones!)

So… how’s it going, everyone?!

Hiatus

After a lot of thought, I have decided to go on a blogging hiatus effective immediately and going through July. I know it’s a long time, but I think it will be good for me. In my 2+ years of blogging here I’ve never been on hiatus, and I have become a bit burned out on it. But my writing otherwise is slowly thriving, and there are things in my everyday life I am trying to figure out. The latter is nothing dramatic, but just the same, I think it’ll be good for me to not have to feel like I have blogging hanging over my head, because lately I’ve had thoughts like, Oh, I guess I ought to write at least one post this week.

I do intend to come back to blogging, and I’m hoping I will feel rejuvenated in August. And I’m definitely not falling off the face of the planet; you’ll still see me on Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest, and commenting on your blog a week after your post, ha. (Except there are some I actually manage to read the day of. Don’t ask me to explain my methods because I don’t understand them either.)

So until next time…

Brainstorming Blog Titles

Sometimes I go back to my drafts to see if I find any blog posts I started writing but didn’t finish, and I found a list of blog titles/concepts I had written down back when I was brainstorming the concept of this blog over 2 years ago. I have to say, a lot of these I just don’t understand what was going through my head… but I suppose that’s what brainstorming is all about!

Rewrite (There was a note next to this that said “rewrite with the door open,” and I have no idea what that means.)

We’re All Stories in the End (This is a quote I like a lot that I have seen attributed to Doctor Who, and there’s also a pretty similar quote in Tiger Lily, though I had not read it at the time.)

Turn the Page/Page Turner (Page Turner sounds too close to The Perpetual Page Turner, so it’s probably good I didn’t go with that!)

Young Adult (I liked this one but I knew I was ripping it off of the Charlize Theron movie with the same name.)

I Love Good Stories (This one was highly considered.)

Rewriting the first poem you ever loved (I think this is from a quote.)

Some stories stay with us forever (From Sam’s speech that I talk about all the time)

Castles in the Air (From a Little Women quote.)

Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality (from a quote)

Rage Against Reality

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home (Again, from a quote.)

Runaway Art

The story is never over (This is from a Bablyon 5 movie.)

Tell Me A Story (I think this one and the next one were derived from a Phillip Phillips song.)

I’ll Tell You A Story

Dreaming Awake

Write. Watch. Read. (I really almost did go with this one, but I thought people would get the order mixed up.)

Austen, Nolan, and I

Courageous Creativity

Creative lifestyle

Creative Rush

Batgirl Writes (I think I knew this sounded dorky, but I was trying to show my nerdy side.)

It’s Like the Great Stories (Again, from Sam’s speech.)

From Jo & Katniss (Getting there!)

Myth

Fable

Prequel/sequel

Read. Watch. Write. (Yet another order of those words.)

I feel like that’s a pretty long list! I was trying to iron out the idea that this blog would be about stories of various kinds, and it looks like I might have been considering creativity a topic at the time as well.

What was your brainstorming process for you blog like? 

Live Long and Prosper: An Ode to Leonard Nimoy & Spock

My husband and I were talking about Lenoard Nimoy’s death, and he mentioned how Spock is probably the most iconic character of the original series, even more so than Kirk, and really even of all of Star Trek. I completely agreed with him. I told him that I thought his character is probably the main reason why the show was successful to begin with.

spock-artArt by Amanda Tolleson

There’s just something about Spock. Ask any fan of the original series who their favorite character is, and I feel most of them will say it’s Spock. He’s just so different, but in the best way. He’s not like a normal human… he’s unemotional, calculating, logical… usually. Occasionally he surprises too though.

Captain, you almost make me believe in luck.

But he’s always intelligent, and he becomes a fiercely loyal companion.

I have been, and always shall be, your friend.

wok-spock-deathCelebrity deaths, as a general rule, do not really shake me. Yes, it’s always sad when someone dies, and sometimes it’s downright tragic. I was shocked and saddened to hear about Robin Williams, just like anyone else, but it didn’t devastate me the way I think it did for some people. I think he was a talented actor but none of his roles have made a big impact on my life or anything. With Leonard Nimoy, it has definitely been a different experience.

I first watched Star Trek The Original Series when my husband and I were dating, which means it was sometime 6-10 years ago. Spock was easily my favorite.

It wasn’t until we had been married for a little while that we watched the rest of Trek, and when I became a true fan. That’s when we started going to conventions together, when I started listening to podcasts, started pinning funny geeky things on Pinterest.

80150068338489935_QH9kf43o_cBecoming a Trek fan did not change my life in some dramatic way, like I decided to study science or any other number of things I have heard Star Trek has done for others, but it did still change it. It made me fall in love with science fiction, a genre that I generally liked when I was exposed to it in the past but never fully delved into it. It changed the way I write, the way I think, and the way I look at things. And I love it for that.

And the thing is, I do feel like it all goes back to Spock.

Spock: I felt for him, too.

Kirk: I believe there’s some hope for you after all, Mr. Spock.

tos_thenakedtimeI wanted to share a few of my favorite Spock moments and episodes, as a tribute to the man who made Spock into the character we love.

– Spock breaks down in The Naked Time. Being completely vulnerable to human emotion for probably the first time in the show, Spock weeps, feeling ashamed. It’s so… poignant… to see him in such a state. spock-thenakedtime– Spock with Kirk in The City on the Edge of Forever. This episode focuses more on Kirk, but I love the humor (“obviously my friend here is Chinese”) and I love the serious moments too (“Edith Keeler must die”).

– Any time Spock has a connection with a woman that we normally don’t see, such as in “This Side of Paradise,” “The Enterprise Incident,” and “All Our Yesterdays.”

I hope that you and I exchanged something more permanent.

ST-theenterpriseincident– Any time Spock has a connection with people that is surprising, like his connection with the space hippies Servin’s followers in “The Way to Eden.”

They regard themselves as aliens in their own worlds–a condition with which I am somewhat familiar.

ST-thewaytoeden– Spock’s secret affinity for Tribbles and cats. 🙂

spock_cat– Any time Spock acted as a friend, like in “Amok Time.”

– Mirror Spock with goatee in “Mirror, Mirror”

mirror-mirrorAnd I know there are more, but those were the ones that immediately came to mind. Needless to say, he is memorable, and I’m so glad we have the shows and movies with him (even the ones I don’t love) to remember Leonard Nimoy by.

As Leonard Nimoy once famously said, he was not Spock. He was an actor with 134 acting credits on IMDB, many of which are not Star Trek. I also enjoyed watching him on Fringe as William Bell. He was also a friend, a husband, a father, a grandfather.

And, as Nimoy also said, he was Spock. That defined a lot of his life. Some people don’t handle typecasts well, but he learned to own it. There were many fabulous things about being Spock, really, experiences he would not have had otherwise. I’m so glad he embraced it. I wish I could have seen him or met him at a convention. And it’s that thought, that I never got to, but that his character and show really did mean something to me, that makes me more emotional about his death than many others. Maybe it isn’t logical, but I think that’s OK sometimes.

He will be missed. He lived long and he prospered.

We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.

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My TWO Year Blogversary!

Wow, this really sneaked up on me! I can hardly believe that I have blogging here at Ode to Jo & Katniss for two years!

jlaw-excitedThis time last year I thought I might not still be here in this capacity in a year, possibly switching over to an author-focused site, but that hasn’t happened yet and I’m not going to make the prediction of when it will anymore. In fact, even if/when the day of that website comes, I may still keep this one going for at least a little while. I just love the interactions I have on here with all of you; I especially love coming up with posts for my feature Bookish Wedding Inspiration, interacting through discussions, and sharing my favorite episodes of Star Trek. So a big THANK YOU to everyone who has ever left a comment or read a post on here, and even more thanks to my most frequent readers/commenters. You know who you are, and so do I, and I really, truly appreciate that you spend your free time on my blog. THANK YOU!

kate-happyI’ve discovered so many awesome books and authors and learned so much from all of you that I never would have otherwise!

Last year for my blogversary I took a look back over the year and shared my favorite posts from each month, so I thought I would do so again, in case you missed any of them or just want a walk down memory lane…

February 2014: What the New Adult Genre Could Learn From Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

March 2014: Buying Into Romances

April 2014: TV Series Finales

May 2014: aMAYzing

June 2014: Bookish Wedding Inspiration: Tiger Lily 

(Nothing stood out for me from July, so I cheated on August…)

August 2014: Always Learning and Bookish Wedding Inspiration: The Grisha Trilogy

September 2014: About A Writing Conference and Some Soul Searching (and I’m totally cheating again to include Bookish Wedding Inspiration: The Hunger Games)

October 2014: Compare & Contrast: The Winner’s Curse & Of Metal and Wishes

November 2014: Leigh Bardugo Event! 

December 2014: Discussion: Favorite Authors

January 2015: Bookish Wedding Inspiration: The Leviathan Trilogy

So once again…

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for a fabulous two years, and…

love-you

Looking Back (2014) and Looking Forward (2015)

Even though I consider myself sentimental, I surprisingly don’t get too reflective around New Year’s. I did, however, want to share a few highlights of 2014 (books, movies, and things in my life), and mention a few things I am looking forward to in the new year.

lizzie-partyBOOKS

I did fill out Jamie’s 2014 End of Year Survey, probably a little too soon, so here are some updated/more detailed stats on my reading this year.

Final reading count of 2014//Books read: 42/Novellas read: 7

Genres I read//Adult fiction: 3 books/YA fiction: 39 books & novellas/Non-fiction: 3 books/Classics: 4 books

Subgenres of YA read: Historical, Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Fantasy, Alternate History, Steampunk, Dystopia, Fairytale Retellings… and combinations of aforementioned genres!

Ratings//4.5-5 stars: 10 books/3.5-4 stars: 27 books/2.5-3 stars: 12 books/1-2 stars: 0 books/DNF: 1 book

In 2015 I want to read: What I want! 🙂 I want to read at least: one adult fiction bestseller (PLEASE give me ideas), one other adult fiction, two writing books, two other non-fiction books, and one Jane Austen book. I also want to try to read all the books I bought/was gifted in 2014 (I’m not counting a stack of books a friend gave me when he was getting rid of a bunch of his… I intend to read them eventually, but I don’t plan to read all of them this year). I also want to try and actually re-read some this year!

2015 releases I am most anticipating: Firefight by Brandon Sanderson, Fairest by Marissa Meyer, The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, Do Over by Jon Acuff, The Rose Society by Marie Lu, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Top 3 (Read In) 2014 Books: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, Cress by Marissa Meyer, and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Top 3 (Read In) 2014 Book Series: The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, and Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (even though I’ve only read the first three so far)

See what I read in 2014

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I still want to do a more detailed post about 2014 movies later, but here’s a couple quick stats for 2014 movies for me…

2014 Released Movies Seen: 13

My Top Three 2014 Movies: Interstellar, Mockingjay, and Captain America

See my Top 10 2015 Movie Anticipations 

2015moviesLIFE

In 2014: I think the most noticeable difference in my life happened in May when I started my new job. I went from an hour plus one-way commute to a ten minute one-way commute. I went from often feeling frustrated and stressed to feeling a bit lighter and much more content. Mind you, my new job is not all rainbows and smiley faces and it does get stressful at times, but it’s so much easier to leave that at work when your drive home is much shorter and you don’t have to wake up at ridiculous o’clock to make that stressful drive again. Also, I have started actually making work friends… I had a few at my previous job but now I can honestly say I like everyone I work with and I actually talk to people AT WORK (don’t worry, we still get the work done!). I had felt very isolated at my previous job, so this has really helped my morale and has been a very positive change in my life.

In 2015: I am looking forward to NOT job hunting this year for the first time since I graduated college! (At least I hope I won’t have to job hunt!) In the new year, my husband and I are hoping we will be able to move to our second home as a couple. There are a lot of great things about our house, but we do need more room and it would be nice to have some things we don’t have now (like a garage). And if this happens, I’m going to try to be good and invest in either a treadmill or exercise bike and USE IT.

My 3 resolutions for 2015 are: Write more. Love more. Pray more.

What are your highlights of 2014 and what are you looking forward to in 2015?