Career Talk Tuesday: Ann Livi Andrews

career talk

Hello all and welcome to an exciting new addition to the blog — Career Talk Tuesdays! As I’m drawing close to the end of my own education, I’ve found that there are so many people like me wondering what they can do with their English major or how they can get into the publishing industry or what it takes to get a book out into the world. If you’re wondering about the possibilities of your own future, take a look at these posts and talk to the wonderful people participating. This is going to be fun!

To pump us up in our inaugural post, please welcome Ann Livi Andrews to the blog!

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I’m Ann Livi Andrews, a self-published author writing under a pen name, and attempting to lead a new way of thinking in the self-publishing world. I have a Bachelor of Science in English Education but have never used it. Throughout my life I’ve held jobs at a library, a Wal-mart, a variety of law offices, a Taiwanese corporation, and even a private jet company. But being a stay at home mom slash self-published author is by far the highlight of my job experiences.

Not going to college wasn’t an option for me. At the time, I was excited. I applied to two colleges and got accepted into both of them. I chose one three hours from home because “I needed space.” There were four of us from my high school who ended up at the same university. Two of us had boyfriends back home and were constantly driving back and forth. After our freshman year, we all left. Three of us went to the same university for our sophomore year. After that year, I left and returned home to the university in my home town because I was determined to marry my high school sweetheart and that’s where he studied. And so I managed to finish my Bachelor of Science in Education in four years despite the fact that I attended three different universities during that time. I graduated with a inevitably doomed marriage and a degree that I had no intention of using.

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in first grade and I started writing short stories. But when it came to college, I was told to ignore dreams and aspirations for realistic life expectations. “You’re too short to play volleyball in college” and “It’s too hard to become a writer” were pieces of advice that I heard all too often. They were interchangeably used with “Be an English teacher. You’re good at English.” So that’s what I did. And you know what? I was and am good at English. I can create amazing and beautiful lesson plans that follow as many of the educational standards as you want. But when it comes to standing up in front of condescending and attitude driven teenagers who are all mostly taller than me – I am terrified, anxiety ridden, and am overall lacking in confidence. The one school I would have taught at (the school I grew up in) offered me a job and I was told that I was ridiculous for considering teaching at a private school that wouldn’t even pay me minimum wage. That was 2006.

Now to make a huge jump.

In January of 2011, I met the man of my dreams – even though I wouldn’t realize it for another 4-6 weeks. As I caved to his stubborn (he prefers persistent) advances over the course of a 3 day RV Trade Show, I found myself walking around looking at RVs with him. We were bluntly honest with each other about who we were (I’m Christian, he’s undecided – I was straight laced, he was rebellious – We both had horrible ex-baggage, etc.) And so it came up that I wrote books despite a lack of agent and publisher interest. He said “I’d like to help you self-publish.”

Turns out that he was the nicest, most caring, and honest man I’ve ever met. Part of our adventure together has included self-publishing my books. While he started out helping me with marketing and social media, over the past year I’ve taken over the majority of that.

With Self-Publishing, I hold complete control over my work, my covers, my genre, and how I choose to market myself, which has been a wonderful experience. I also have the ability to experiment freely without an agent or publisher looking over my shoulder.

Does all this mean that my Bachelor of Science in Education was a waste? Not at all. I use many of the skills I learned to help me with my plot construction and editing process. Plus I have the degree to fall back on if need be. But I desperately wish that I had experimented with classes a little more. The closest I came to a creative writing class was creative nonfiction, and we had to include some aspect of truth within our writing.

My husband never finished his degree and while he would tell you that it hasn’t helped his resume, he still ended up with a Director of Marketing position that he loves. With the direction our country is heading in, I’m not sure that college degrees will hold much meaning in future generations.

My advice for anyone wanting to be an author—traditionally or self-publishing—is to maintain a Plan B, just in case you need extra funds. We have dreams for a reason. They force us to strive for a higher purpose, for a job that we’re passionate about, something to work towards. You should never give up on your dreams – even if you have to compromise with them slightly. But make sure you have a safety net in place to support yourself and your family. If dreams were easy to achieve, I don’t think they would mean as much to us as they do. Publishing my first short story on Amazon was an amazing feeling. As it is, I’m getting ready to revise and expand on the first story I ever published, but it was still a step in the right direction for me.

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Thank you SO much Ann for sharing your career, goals, and advice with us! I know that it’s helpful to me and that there are others who’ll love to see the path you’ve taken.

Want to check out Ann’s work for yourself? On July 4th, for one day only, have the chance to download her book–completely FREE!! This is an awesome opportunity to check out an amazing author. Come back and let me know what you think! I know many of my readers are YA fans so I think that The Two Lands: Return will be a perfect match for all of you!

Connect with Ann on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnnLiviAndrews

Twitter: @annliviandrews

Pinterest: annlivi

Goodreads: AnnLiviAndrews

Website: www.annliviandrews.com

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Are you interested in Career Talk Tuesday? Want to participate? Email me at caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail.com!

Kisses and Curses (Short Story Collection)

Kisses and Curses

edited by : lauren burniac

pages : [paperback] 400

featuring : marissa meyer, leigh bardugo, marie rutkoski, and many more!

summary :

A fabulous collection of short stories from your favorite Fierce Reads authors, perfect for fans and new readers!

Beloved of readers and booksellers, our Fierce Reads program has garnered tons of enthusiastic fans since its inauguration in 2012. Now, the authors you know and love are coming together in one book! With standalone short stories from a handpicked set of FR authors, this fabulous collection will include a mix of original content and popular favorites, and will often feature characters or worlds from existing Fierce Reads books. Extended, personal introductions from each author will make this a must-buy for fans as well as a fantastic portal for engaging new readers with the program. With a wide range of genres and subject matter, there will be something here for everyone!

review :

I LOVE short story collections! I grabbed up this one as soon as I spotted it in the store because it had Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo, and Marie Rutkoski included. Three of my favorite authors! I immediately sat down to read this and hit an unfortunate snag. Although all of these short stories can, technically, be read on their own, all except one are inspired by these authors’ well-known series. This is less annoying when, as in the authors I mentioned above, I knew the context these stories were going into and could enjoy the extra insight into the characters or world these little bits provided. For other stories that I haven’t yet had the chance to get to the series . . . It was frustrating. These snippets would rarely have a conclusion and in one instance I couldn’t even read the story because I was warned it would spoil the book. Who knows if I’ve managed to spoil something else for myself already?

I wouldn’t say there was any one story in this I didn’t like. Overall, the writing was pretty solid (after I got over the whole blow about none of the stories being original). The one unique story was told in a twitter exchange between two authors, which was a surprisingly entertaining way to read the unconventional Sasquatch love story. If that isn’t enough to convince you to try this collection, I don’t know what else could.

I had to rate this collection lower than I wanted to (because I LOVE these authors and know that there are other favorites in here just waiting to be discovered when I actually read the series’ I just spoiled). The stories weren’t satisfying on my own. I feel like they would have been better suited in their own domain rather than this bind-up. Hopefully, I won’t get tricked into a collection like this again.

3/5 stars

DNF Review: The Boy Next Door by Katie Van Ark

The Boy Next Door

author : katie van ark

pages : [paperback] 347

summary :

Maddy Spier has been in love with the boy next door forever. As his figure skating partner she spends time in his arms every day. But she’s also seen his arms around other girls—lots of other girls.

Gabe can’t imagine skating with anyone but Maddy, and together they have a real chance at winning some serious gold medals. So, he’s determined to keep thinking of her like a sister. After all, he’s never had a romantic relationship that lasted for more than two weeks.

But when their coach assigns a new romantic skating program, everything changes. Will this be the big break that Maddy’s been hoping for or the big breakup that Gabe has always feared?

review :

I was super excited to read this book, especially because I was fortunate enough to receive a copy to review. Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me and 100 pages in (I need to give every book at least that much of a chance!) I threw in the towel.

The Boy Next Door has a cute premise: Maddy and Gabe are ice skating partners, have been for years, and have high hopes of making it big in the skating world. Now that they’re older, their musical numbers are becoming more romantic. Maddy has always had a crush on Gabe and sees this as their big chance to finally get together; Gabe is convinced that a relationship off the ice would end badly and ruin the partnership they’ve spent years cultivating. Honestly, I could understand both points of view. Maddy doesn’t want to live her life wondering ‘what if?’ and never getting a shot at this relationship; Gabe doesn’t want to break something that’s already perfect.

The characters felt too forced to me. Maddy doesn’t react well to Gabe’s responses to her advances. She doesn’t respect his decision and instead is determined to make him jealous, seduce him, ignore him–all of the above in an attempt to see her as a girlfriend, not just a female partner. After the initial shock of Maddy’s reaction to their romantic musical number (featuring of course music from Romeo and Juliet), Gabe gets pretty wishy-washy over what he wants. And that’s where I finally lost interest.

People who love figure skating will like this book. I think. I know I’d be terrible at the sport but enjoy watching it and most of what I was reading had to do with the characters worrying over whether they’d get together or if they should be kissing or how to be more romantic on the ice. It started to get very repetitive, the thoughts each character would have about their personal worries and fears. It just wasn’t for me.

1/5 stars

One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

One Thing Stolen

author : beth kephart [also wrote going over]

pages : [hardcover] 272

favorite character : nadia

summary :

Something is not right with Nadia Cara. She’s become a thief. She has secrets she can’t tell. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. In Florence, Italy, with her epicurean brother, professor father, and mother who helps at-risk teens, Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom no one but herself has seen. While her father researches a flood that nearly destroyed Florence in 1966, Nadia wonders if she herself can be rescued—or will she disappear?

Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is about language and beauty, imagining and knowing, and the deep salvation of love.

review :

I was so interested in reading this book because I really like Kephart’s writing style. I’ve also read her novel Going Over and while it isn’t a favorite of mine, I do love her writing. I think I feel similarly about One Thing Stolen — though this is a story that is going to haunt my thoughts for a little while now that I’ve finished it. One Thing Stolen is told in three parts, each featuring a different point of view and Kephart flawlessly changes her style and tone to reflect each narrator.

This book is unique (at least to my reading experience) in that it deals with a teenager facing a neurological disorder, possibly a type of dementia. Although many of the books I’ve read lately have spoken about mental illness, that has tended toward OCD and schizophrenia. Nadia suffers from something we typically only think of the elderly facing and she’s so incredibly young. I think it’s so important that books like this continue to be written because the more these diseases are spoken about, the more people in general will understand them as well as the people who suffer through them daily.

Nadia is the first narrator to the story (I won’t spoil who the others are) and her thoughts are chaotic to say the least. She’s an unreliable narrator and she can’t make sense of things for herself so she’s constantly pleading for the reader to understand it all for her. She can understand words but finds it nearly impossible to communicate anything about herself. Being trapped like that is unimaginable, utterly terrifying, and as the story continues you’re fully immersed in Nadia’s world and trying to pick it apart alongside her.

Unfortunately, for all that I loved about this book, there were parts that just didn’t work for me. I wasn’t feeling that spark in the narrative that would compel me to continue reading when I finished each chapter. There is a love interest that, well, didn’t interest me too much. Several things are introduced that seem like they should be major parts of the book that are never fully acted upon.

Although I think that many people may enjoy this book, it simply wasn’t for me.

3/5 stars

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds

author : scott westerfeld

pages : [hardcover] 599

favorite character : darcy

memorable quote Hiding from the truth was worse than being lied to.

summary :

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she’s made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy’s novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the ‘Afterworld’ to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.

review :

I’ve been looking forward to reading Afterworlds ever since it was released. Because it’s a huge book (nearly 600 pages!) I thought that I would need a lot of time to set aside and fully enjoy this novel. Instead, it’s pretty easy to get through because even though it’s told in dual narration both portions of the story are interesting. I’ve never read anything like this before but knew that it had to be great. This is Scott Westerfeld; nothing he ever writes is disappointing.

I do have to admit that toward the end of the book I liked Darcy’s chapters–involving the real world and a glimpse at the inside of the publishing industry from an author’s perspective–more than I did Lizzie’s–where she’s discovering more about herself, her gifts, and the afterlife. I loved reading about Darcy attend things like Book Expo America because that’s something I can clearly picture in my mind and I loved reading her reactions to having to publicize herself. There’s so much that goes into creating excitement for a book and making it perfect before it’s released. Lizzie’s story, on the other hand . . It was gripping at the beginning. There were those first chapters that were awesome–as Darcy and her agent and editor continued to agree on. The rest, I wasn’t so sure that I would have been reading if this novel had been split in two. One for Darcy’s story, one for Lizzie’s. I began to like Lizzie’s half for the little details I could see in it, the changes that Darcy was making to her story because of the people she met in NYC as well as the suggestions others made for editing the story. The romance in it was so insta that it was nonexistent for me. I did like a few unconventional choices that Lizzie made, however, that kept it from being a typical paranormal romance.

I think this is a book that many will love. You just need to get past the intimidating look of it’s bulk. Honestly the pages fly by so quickly, it isn’t difficult to read this in a few days.

Anyone who is interested in writing or publishing will definitely get a kick out of the ways Darcy immerses herself in this world. From YA Drinks Night to having women publishing in her same year referring to themselves as ‘debut sisters’, there are hilarious moments mixed with the anxiety-inducing ones. Such as the expensive nature of living in NYC, the bated breath that comes with waiting for edits to come out, and the clinging fear that remains after finishing one book–because what if that was a fluke and it won’t happen again?

Even though I rented this one from the library, I’m going to buy myself a copy because I’ll definitely reread it in the future.

4/5 stars

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

The Raven Cycle #3
Book 1: The Raven Boys
Book 2: The Dream Thieves

author : maggie stiefvater

pages : [hardcover] 391

favorite character : noah

memorable quote “You can be just friends with people, you know,” Orla said. “I think it’s crazy how you’re in love with all those raven boys.”

summary :

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

review :

Even though I haven’t always loved Maggie Stiefvater’s books, I’m continuing to love this series! Blue Lily, Lily Blue deals with some of the crazy (awesome) things that ended the previous book in this series. Originally I thought this was meant to be the ending, until I realized that there was going to be a fourth book. Don’t expect any loose ends to be tied up in this installment! Instead, the mystery deepens. So much that I NEED to know what’s going to happen next!

While Blue is undoubtedly the least interesting character to me in these books (which is disappointing because they suffer from a distinct lack of female characters and so far she’s just been worried about love interests) the boys hold up and became even more lovable to me. I don’t understand why Ronan, Noah, and even Gansey have already developed and grown as characters. Blue shows a little more potential in this third book, with me hoping that she’ll become a greater part of finding this ancient king when we finally get to the last book of the series.

She’s been my favorite complaint thus far; the rest, I love. I love the intense scenes where I have no idea if my favorite characters are going to live or die. I love the magic that occurs in this world and how it works. I love that I can never fully anticipate what’s going to happen next and how that keeps me hooked until the very last page.

I’ll definitely be recommending these books, though I can’t wait to see how this is all going to be wrapped up in the conclusion coming out later this year. Fingers crossed that it’ll be something unforgettable!

4/5 stars

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Finding Audrey

author : sophie kinsella

pages : [hardcover] 288

favorite character : felix

summary :

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

review :

I didn’t know much about this novel before I dove into it, other than realizing I haven’t read many books that deal with anxiety. Because I have anxiety myself, and know that it is a different experience for any person with it, I wanted to hear Audrey’s story. She wasn’t always filled with uncontrollable anxiety; something (we never quite find out what, which isn’t satisfying) happened at school and she’s spiraled downward ever since.

Unfortunately, I just wasn’t captivated by this book.

I think this book was meant to be part comedy and honestly the humor wasn’t for me. In the first half of the book, much of the plot was overtaken (and kept referring back to) an incident between Audrey’s mother and brother, Frank. I found it kind of alarming, not funny, and think maybe it was something they should have been a little concerned about. Throughout the novel Audrey’s mother is obsessive, controlling every minuscule aspect of Frank’s life . . . while she seems to leave Audrey untouched. I don’t know if I was supposed to find the obsession enjoyable to read about but I think it was a really unnecessary portion of the story.

For a girl who’s afraid to even leave her house and look her family in the eye, Audrey finds it surprisingly easy to get herself a boyfriend. And, as any sibling would know, dating a brother or sister’s friend would be slightly awkward. Frank is surprisingly okay with the fact that his friend suddenly doesn’t want to hang out with him anymore–only Audrey. And never mentions anything about it. Even understanding her anxiety, I think he would have brought SOMETHING up to her. The relationships in this novel weren’t just exaggerated to try to make something funny or cute (and I have to admit, there were a few adorable moments between Audrey and Linus), they were completely twisted out of proportion.

I don’t think that I’ll end up recommending this novel. The characters weren’t particularly gripping and the plot, revolving around Audrey finding herself again, was mediocre. I do give this book a star for the few cute scenes between Audrey and Linus and another star for accurately portraying a kind of anxiety.

2/5 stars