12
Sep

Siren Suicides: I Chose To Die (Review)

 

http://www.kseniaanske.com

www.kseniaanske.com

The sirens…they scare me…but for some reason I want to be apart of their clique…

Last year, I read I Chose to Die (Siren Suicides Book 1) by Ksenia Anske and I even wrote an Amazon review on it. I’ve always meant to post a similar review on my site, and well life happens, but without further ado, here it is! :D

Summary

The story is told through the first person POV of sixteen-year-old Ailen Bright, who is struggling with thoughts of suicide because of her shattered family life. She is thrust into the deep waters of the siren and siren-hunter realm she never before knew existed where she goes through her journey of self-discovery.

 

Thoughts

The first sentence, “I chose to die in the bathroom because it’s the only room in the house I can lock,” is such a strong one to start with (Anske). The reader is instantly pulled into the story with the powerful wording and the serious subject matter. It was definitely a good choice on the author’s part to start here.

Then, one of my most favorite things about this novel is the “beloved antique, carved-marble tub” (Anske 1). I love the way this tub is described in such great detail it’s practically a character (or 5) of its own. It really sprung to life for me, which I really appreciated. I love it when an author can personify an inanimate object well, and here we get a good example of that.

I know at some point Ksenia was considering re-doing the covers for Siren Suicides, and she may have already, but I strongly fangirl over the fact that the bathtub should be on the front cover. I would just die! It’s so pivotal to the story—it’s just meant to be! *fangirls* Pleeeaaase?

I digress.

The transition into a flashback of her friend, Hunter, was done smoothly and was a scene I really enjoyed. It gave insight into Ailen’s character (and even Hunters) and how she deals with other people. It is also a scene that I think speaks true the insights of sixteen-year-olds haha.

I think something to give kudos to is the fact that the beginning chapters are very well written and very intriguing to the audience. It’s such a difficult thing to get those beginning chapters perfectly right to both pull the reader in and have the reader keep reading and that is something that Ksenia does well. I think it was the combination of Ksenia’s intriguing characters and the set up of plot playing within all the details. (Do you see them? They’re everywhere!)

 

Other pros of the story include:

-that it’s an easy and quick read which is great for the YA audience.

-it was a unique and original idea derived from Greek Literature.

-there was a repetition of numbers and counting (particularly the number three), which I always find significant.

-Strong character development and voices, particularly through Ailen.

-Thankfully, Ksenia kept repeating which siren was which otherwise the readers would’ve likely gotten lost.

 

Critiques

I will say that there wasn’t much of this story I didn’t like, and, in fact, the two minor things I’m going to mention are more of a nit-pick.

The first being: I really hate exclamation points. I think it was Stephen King who said they should only be used once every 100k words. In other words, exclamation points should be used sparingly. That said, as someone who is incredibly nit-picky toward the poor ‘!’ I have to bring up the fact that they were used in the exposition too often for my liking…but because I was so enthralled with the captivating tale it wasn’t too distracting (but enough so to mention).

The second being, simply, I just wanted to see more of effects of Ailen not having a ‘soul’, more of a before/after character difference. However, it wasn’t crucial enough that I was taken out of the story because of it.

 

 Concluding Thoughts & Post-Scriptum

All in all, I Chose to Die (Siren Suicides Book 1) was a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it :) You can download it for free or be super cool and support Ksenia by ordering a signed copy from her site, which you could buy individually or as the trilogy set (who doesn’t love signed copies?).

 

As a P.S. to the review of the story, I just wanted to add that one of the most beautiful things about this book is the dedication that Ksenia wrote in the beginning. She stresses, “If you are thinking about killing yourself, please, don’t. Life is beautiful, and it’s even more beautiful with you in it” (Ksenia). The dedication speaks volumes to who Ksenia is as a person and if there is any moral or takeaway from Siren Suicides it is that living is a beautiful thing and while tackling such a strong topic such as suicide is difficult, one has to commend the rather successful attempt that Ksenia does in order to spread suicide-awareness. Thank you x

5
May

Blog Tour :D

Last week I was tagged by the super awesome Bisky Scribbles to do a blog tour, so let’s jump in! :D

 What am I working on at the moment?

Currently, I’m re-working the first book in my ReiHana series. I was sending out queries for it, but I realized it could use some polishing. Before I decided this, I got half way through the third ReiHana book. All together there are five in the series :)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Hmm…this is a tough one. I suppose it differs from other Urban Fantasys because I introduce a new kind of supernatural being that—of course—has great powers ;)

 Why do I write what I do?

A great author said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” This author, of course, is the great Toni Morrison.

Essentially I write because I love to write—I need to write—but as a kid I was often left by myself to play and this gave me ample time to exercise my imagination. I would come up with all sorts of stories and scenarios, which followed me into adulthood. I often find myself drifting off into oblivion trying to make up some strangers backstory or just drift into another world in itself. And those are often things I end up writing about—wherever my imagination takes me, I write.

How does my writing process work?

Let’s see…many times I have tried to describe this process and it’s not an easy task haha. In one word: chaotic. Ha. I have a very complex writing process, because it’s so particular. I suppose it starts with imagining what is coming next, then outlining the whole thing, then start the writing (of course at this point new chapters pop up because not everything can be planned), so then I rewrite the outline and any subsequent chapters, finish the book and start my editing process, which is a whole ordeal in itself lol.

It took a while to get into the grove of things and to find a process, but I hardly even think about it when I’m doing it. I just do it haha.

Next Week

To continue this lovely blog tour, I tag these lovely people below to pick three awesome writers of their choosing to keep the tag going:

Andrew Page is an aspiring author and avid reader, having a love for literature from a young age, inspiring him to co-found The Ambage (ambagewriters.com), an online writers group. When not reading, writing, or procrastinating, he enjoys watching TV shows such as Sherlock, Doctor Who, Person of Interest, and Arrow, as well as any film by Christopher Nolan.

K.L. Neri is a California native,  perusing her degree in Creative Writing with hopes of securing a career in the publishing industry. Currently she is holding different odd and ends job, while attending Long Beach City College. In her spare time she is a hula and belly dancer. She absolutely loves reading, drinking coffee at odd hours of the day, and is trying to finish the first complete draft of her first fantasy novel.

4
Apr

Focus, Nicole. Focus!

 

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Okay, so right now my brain is going in 50 different directions all at the same time and I can’t keep up! I need focus!

Focus.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my platforms lately. How can I make this better? What am I doing wrong? How can I bring in more people? I felt like I was missing something, but wasn’t sure what direction to go.

So, I sought some advice from the super lovely @Bisky_Scribbles, who suggested I need to narrow my focus because I was stretched too thin. While this conversation took place weeks ago, it was something that stayed on my mind and something I gave much consideration to. I gave it a lot of thought, wondering what exactly I could do.

Ultimately, I knew Bisky was right. I was doing way too much; I was all over the place, and in the end that resulted in a shitty product (yeah, yeah language sorry).

So I have decided I want to focus mostly on making Youtube vids and vlogs. I feel like I’ve finally found a niche I can wiggle my way into with my #WriterProblems videos (posted every Wednesday). Whether this is true or not, who knows, but I feel it’s right for me and that is what is important. I’m not claiming that because I found this “niche” that I think that’s going to send me to stardom or anything crazy like that (simmer down kiddos), but I think I can get the biggest audience there and whether or not that’s true we don’t know yet and we won’t know for a long time because audiences take a long time to build, but I feel like it’s finally right.

I have so many video ideas that I can’t even contain them. They all want out and they want out right now. As soon as I write one down, a new idea pops into my head, and I have to write that one down too. I’m still very much an amateur when it comes to filming and editing videos, but there is always room for growth in anything we do, so yes: I will make mistakes, I will get flamed, I will suck and at times hate myself and my work, but one day I will look back at my first videos and realize how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. It’s just a new adventure with a lot of learning ahead, and I’m all for crazy times, so bring it on :)

I will still, of course, be writing (always my main priority) and on twitter (@TheNicole_C), but my writing blogs will come fewer and fewer with more time in between. I’m not totally abandoning the website, I’ll still pop in from time to time, but it is not my main focus anymore. I don’t know where this will take me, or even if it’s a wise platforming option, but I just feel like I need to test the waters. I feel like it’s right, so I’m gonna do it.

I’m not sure if this is what Bisky meant when she gave me her awesome advice, but it’s what I took from it, so thank you Bisky for helping me see what I needed to do :)

 

Nicole Michelle

17
Mar

Writer Problem Wednesdays! :D

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 5.45.11 PM

I’ve decided to try something new! Join me every Wednesday (hopefully) for a short video about writer problems :D Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there, but at least these videos will make those time a little more…entertaining. Could be a disaster, could be totally awesome. You’ll just have to wait and find out for yourselves ^^

Stay tuned! This Wednesday is the first one ever! :D Hope you all enjoy! The pic above is your sneak peak ;p Also, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Nicole Michelle

14
Mar

There’s Only One Thing We Say To Negativity…

 

www.redbubble.com

www.redbubble.com

A lot has been happening to me recently that’s left me in quite the mood, and a lot of that I cannot change; but what I can change is my attitude.

Lately I’ve felt angry, resentful, failed, misunderstood…to name a few, but I’m tired of being stuck in this whirlwind of negativity, because 1) it’s not helping anything and 2) it’s probably making everything worse.

Yeah, times are sucky right now, in this moment, but if I can just realize that it gets better, it will. I think I was stuck in this mode of ‘I can’t believe this is happening (seriously?)’ and ‘woe is me’ that I kind of lost sight that it’s really not the end of the world. People have gone through so much worse and here I am stressing over my petty (in comparison) problems.

All I can do is accept and move on, move forward. I just need to go with the flow instead of trying to fight the currents, because look at what good that’s doing for me (it’s not). Obviously, this is going to be the new norm and thus I shall embrace it until I can change it. Unfortunately, change is one of those things that take time. I just wish it were easier.

But then again, if it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it. Or is that just something we say to ourselves to feel better? *shrug* I do know, however, that it will get better. I can move onward and upward, and no one can stop me, but myself. I have the control and as long as I’m in charge I choose to be happy and fight for my goals.

Now, I’m gonna go write, something I haven’t done because of all these crazy emotions. What are you going to do?

 

Nicole Michelle

2
Mar

Never Give Up

     

http://amandaonwriting.tumblr.com/post/28407053875

http://amandaonwriting.tumblr.com/post/28407053875

     Today I’m feeling hopeful. I’m not gonna lie, this past week had been a rough one when it came to writing. I just felt like I wasn’t going anywhere and that I never would. I was thinking dark thoughts, that no author or artist, should ever think, like ‘What is this for? Why do I bother trying? Should I just give up?’
     But then I realized how completely ridiculous I was being. I mean are you kidding me? I thought, Just look how far you’ve come, how much work you’ve put into this, you cant just give up. What’s wrong with you? How dare you think that?
     Sometimes it’s hard to see just how far I’ve come since I’m—still—unpublished, but those things take time, and also if I reflect on all I’ve done thus far…it’s a lot. I think, though, it’s easy to forget or belittle the smaller accomplishes, but one must remember the road to success is full of smaller accomplishment steppingstones. Each little accomplishment paves the way to the bigger, ultimate goal. One day you will look back and really wish you paused a little longer to appreciate the steppingstones for what they are and how they’ve shaped your way to success.
     You can’t just give up because it’s taking a little longer than you hoped. Imagine if J.K. Rowling had just given up after being turned down by the first agent she pitched to—there would be no Harry Potter! Can you imagine a world without Harry Potter? What would that have meant for the literary world? Or for J.K. herself? Where would she be in life if she had just given up? Would she still be in poverty still? Would she still be writing?
     You just never know where your life will go or how your decisions will affect it. This is why you must never give up. Never let “failures” or setbacks discourage you, because they still teach valuable lessons; rather, you should embrace it. Embrace it and move on, because if you give up now, you’ll never know just how far you could’ve gone.
     I think it’s natural to feel this way from time to time, as I’m sure all artists go through this, but just remember, if you never try you’ll never succeed. What do you really have to lose? Never give up.

 

Nicole Michelle

For a very inspirational speech:

23
Feb

Back Again (A Haiku just for you <3)

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Nicole disappeared

Nicole is very sorry

But she is back now :D

19
Jan

What’s Nicole Up To?

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     I bet you’ve wondered, What’s Nicole up to? If not, then you might want to leave this page, because I’m about to explain what exactly it is I’ve been doing lately.  I’m a pretty busy bee (buzz buzz), and am constantly working. So, here’s what I’m doing these days:

 

Editing Book 2

In Mid November (2013) I finished the second draft of book two. Right now, I’m currently working on draft three. What I’m doing exactly is print it out to see it from a different form (you’d be amazed at how miraculously this works) and I go through with a red pen and mark any mistakes or change anything that doesn’t sound right or mark any inconsistencies. Then I input all my edits into the computer, and Abracadabra draft three is done just like that ;) [Update] This was finito about a month ago :D

 

Querying

This is a huge part of what I do. Like clockwork, I keep sending out as many as possible. I just want representation! Is that so much to ask for? Pitching is apart of the business, like it or not. It’s gotta be done. Gotta get the name out there. I will pitch until I’m picked up; it’s that simple.

Reworking ReiHana (Book 1)

What’s Einstein’s definition of insanity? I’m a believer that staying stagnant gets you nowhere, so if something isn’t working, gotta change it up. First, no query letter I’ve sent out has ever been the same (because that would be insanity), but after getting a series of rejection letters from agents, I decided to rework the first book. I still plan to pitch while I’m reworking it, like I’m going to make that process even longer ha. Balance. Anyway, I’m currently having two brilliant writer friends of mine take a peak at it, and once I’ve got their input, I will be making changes. This will be Draft 6, I believe.

 

Fantasy Anthology

A bunch of writer friends and I are putting together a Fantasy Anthology of fantasy short stories and poems. So we have deadlines galore with critiquing sessions and stories due and whatnot. Keeps me busy, for sure. Check out the Halloween Collection we did, Crooked Ways :)

 

Blogs

I would never forget about you guys ;) Whenever I get the chance to write a blog, I make sure to. The Writer’s Blog is every other Sunday and the weeks in between I try to fill with Nicole In A Nutshell Blogs, just for you guys :3

School

I’ll be starting school in two days D: Oh no! What lame-sauce-ry is this?? *cries*

Starting Book 3 (officially)

I’ve already got about half the outline done, once I map out the other half I’ll be good to start it…while juggling the other books, of course. [Update] Just finished page 102 in Book three :D And also the rough outline is finished ;)

 

     Hopefully this helps paint a picture of what my crazy life looks like. So now you know :) Thanks for reading!

 

 

Nicole Michelle

8
Jan

I’m on YouTube!

     
Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 2.39.46 PM     
     Yes, it’s true. I jumped onto the ‘Vlogging bandwagon’ and I suppose there is no going back now haha. I actually rather enjoy editing the vlogs, even though it takes up time from writing, but the filming is a whole other story xp
     “They” say, “expect the first 100 vlogs you film of yourself to be awkward.” Well, it certainly was haha. But thank god for the edits, I’m pretty sure that saved my first little vlog. I mean, I think it’s good for what it is. Anyway, I’m mostly proud of it, and a little embarrassed. I feel like it appears awkward and like I have no personality—I swear I have more personality than that!—but it wasn’t entirely a fail.
     I think my biggest problem with the vlog is I’m not really sure what to say. It’s hard to have a one-sided conversation with yourself, you know? But also, since I do have my blogs and an audience with those, I don’t want to sound redundant in the vlog and risk losing some of my already built up audience, so I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m just a much better writer (of blogs) than speaker (of vlogs).
     I’m sure the more I do it, the less awkward it will be and the easier it will become…hopefully. :) Check out my first vlog here:

Nicole Michelle

5
Jan

Senioritis Dilemma

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     I’ve said before that balance is key. I’ve also said that my book is my number one priority in my life, which is perhaps why I’ve been struggling so hard with school this semester. Maybe my struggle was because this was my first semester at University. Writing and going to school has never been much of a problem before, and I was easily able to balance it while getting my dual AAs, but suddenly it’s a problem. Whatever the reason, this semester had proven so difficult and I came considerably close to dropping out.
     I was worried about my grades, group projects, essays, individual projects, exams, finals, and oh the horror of it all! Not to mention, I was still struggling to keep up my blog posts, and staying on schedule with my books. It was the most stressful time of my life, which left me wondering: is all the stress worth it?
     Many scenarios played through my head: Should I just quit right this second? Should I take time off? Should I take an academic LOA? Should I just drop out and use the money for traveling and finding myself? (The last one was immensely compelling).
     I was sooo overwhelmed! In Junior College I got nothing but As and Bs, but here I honestly had no idea what my grades were going to look like, even though I was giving my 100%, and I didn’t think that it would be worth my time or money to keep going back if I was just going to fail classes. BUT, instead of doing anything rash, I decided to take a breather, suck it up, and finish the semester.
     And I’m so thankful I did. All of this paid off and my grades prove it. I got 2 As and 2 Bs :3 Pretty dern good, if I say so myself. I was honestly surprised I got an A in one of the classes I was most worried about actually; I honestly thought I was going to fail, but I guess all the stress was just making me the crazy lady.
     I had to remind myself the reason for going to school in the first place and the sole reason being I wanted to better my writing. I want to be the best possible writer that I can be. Sure, there are cheaper ways, really, to be a writer, but I just wanted what was best for myself and I thought that was getting a degree in Creative Writing. I want that degree, darn it, and I’m not stopping until I get it. I’ve been in school far too long now to just quit.
     Now that I got those complicated classes out of the way, I feel like my experience at University will be a lot smoother. I’m even a little motivated to go for my MFA, and if I did, it would definitely be at a University in London (there’s no changin’ my mind! It’s already made up :p). I’m not much of a quitter anyhow, if you haven’t noticed ;p I think it’s important to realize that even when crap hits the fan, it’s good to take a moment to step back and breathe. Give your logic a minute to start working again, and then use it with your gut to pull through. Things always have a way of working out :)

 

Nicole Michelle