Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Pros and Cons of ARCs

It's Tuesday again which means yet another Tuesday Talks, a Goodreads group started by Janie and Janelle where we discuss book-related topics every Tuesday. Today's topic is ARC books. For those of you who don't know, ARC stands for Advanced Readers Copy, essentially a finished, bound copy of the book before the publication date. As a reviewer I've gotten many ARCS and I've found there are many pros and cons associated with them.

PRO: You get to read the book before it comes out. 

I think this is by far the biggest PRO from this whole list. It's one of the main reasons we usually read ARCS. Sometimes we can read and review it for an author to make miniscule changes before publication, other times we get the opportunity to promote and spread the book around. While you may not have many people to discuss the book with, you get to go into the book with a clean slate, no hype or expectations.

CON: You'll probably have to wait longer for the sequel, assuming it's part of a series. 

Unfortunately while you get to read the book earlier, usually the second book isn't available as an ARC and the waiting period between the first ARC and the official release of the second book is longer than the period between both publication dates. Essentially it's just a few more months of waiting.

PRO: ARCS are usually free. 

Another big pro is that ARCS are usually given either by the author or the publishing company, so you don't spend as much money on books.

CON: Most likely, you'll get the paperback version. 

Since you aren't sold the book, you don't get a choice on the format. Usually the book is paperback and sometimes it doesn't even have a cover.

PRO: You get the opportunity to network 

Like I mentioned earlier, ARCS are usually associated with authors and publishers, people who are influential in the publishing business. Reviewing an ARC for a publisher tell them that you would be open to reading more books from them. Not only does it help them promote their book/ company, but it helps you promote your blog. It's a win win situation for everyone.

CON: Sometimes authors change things between the ARC and published copy. 

There are many times when the author of an ARC has emailed me and told me they took some of my thoughts into consideration and changed minute details within the book. I find it amazing that I have any type of influence on a book and I really want to read the changes made to the book, but I usually don't have time to reread the entirety of the book.

Generally I love ARCS. For me the PROs completely outweigh the CONs and I love getting ARCs, so much that I usually promise reviews to more people than I can handle.

What do you guys think about ARCS? Hate them, love them? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson | Discussion Post #1

Summer break is the perfect time for buddy reads and Courtney from CourtneyReads and I are reading Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn Series. As we get through certain parts of the book, we'll be posting discussions consisting of questions and answers.

Here's out discussion for part 1:

  1. Did you have any expectations going into the novel?

Courtney: This is my second reading of the novel, so I already knew what I was getting, but I still had high expectations. I was hoping to be just as, if not more so, impressed than I was the first time around. I guess I was expecting a lot of action and world building, which I’m getting.
Saloni: Brandon Sanderson has been floating around on BookTube for quite some time now. Thus hype leads to high expectations. Known as the “King of Fantasy” Brandon Sanderson has been set to some high expectations, which I can already tell he’s going to exceed.

  1. Who is your favorite character (at this point)?

Courtney: Picking a favorite Sanderson character is one of the hardest things anybody could ever ask me to do. Kelsier is intriguing, Marsh fascinates me, and Vin is both annoying and relatable. The rest of the crew is brilliant as well, so I guess that doesn’t completely answer the question. If I absolutely had to pick, then I guess Kelsier is my favorite at this point.
Saloni: I can already tell these characters are going to be complex and fascinating. I have to admit, right now, Vin is my favorite character. Her refusal to trust anyone combined with her strength and stubbornness make for a very interesting character. But all of these characters have a sense of realism to them, which isn’t very common these days.

  1. What relationship are you most interested in seeing explored? Do you think it will be?

Courtney: There are so many good friendships and things being introduced or hinted at that picking one is hard, just like picking a favorite character. The one that intrigues me most though is the relationship between Marsh and Kelsier. I would like more information about them growing up and what life was like for the pair of them. Since I’ve read this before, answering the second question seems like cheating, but I honestly don’t remember how much exploration this gets, so I’m going to say that I think it will be explored and explained further, I’m just not sure it will go as far as I might enjoy.
Saloni: As of now, the only relationship that really stood out to me was between Vin and Kelsier. I think that’s my problem with high-fantasy is that I end up forgetting all the minor characters like Marsh and Breeze, so I focus a lot more on the main heroes. Not only that but I’m excited to see how Kelsier begins to break the wall Vin has up around her. Vin continually questions Kelsier’s motives, fairly I would say, and Kelsier continually assures her that he isn’t manipulating her or using her. I think if this type of interaction continues for a while, it might get a little boring, but I want to see Vin gradually begin to trust him and others.

  1. What do you think of the writing style so far?

Courtney: Sanderson’s writing is brilliant in my opinion. The characters are beautifully depicted, the mist itself seems to live, and the action scenes. Wow. I know there haven’t been many yet, but what we have had was just beautiful. Everything just flows, naturally, like you’re watching it and not reading it. It’s overall just very readable.  
Saloni: I completely agree with Courtney. While I don’t LOVE the action scenes, they’re just a bit too long for my taste, I absolutely love the intricacy behind each character and the way the plot is developing. It’s complicated, but not too complicated, a perfect balance.

  1. What are you looking forward to most throughout this book?

Courtney: Finding out more about Allomancy. I find the magic system completely fascinating. Exploring the use of the metals and the different abilities they give will be fascinating. I’m excited to see how the magic really progresses as the novel goes forward and what new discoveries are made (again, I really can’t remember enough of the details).
Saloni: I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m really looking forward to the character development, specifically Vin’s character. To me, she has so much potential and I really hope she uses it all throughout the series.

  1. What is your favorite aspect of this novel so far?

Courtney: Kelsier’s crew and their working dynamic. It’s fascinating how they’re all thieves, but good and honest (in most ways at least). They all play off of each other so well and I get excited to see their interactions. A large, interesting cast of characters is always a good thing.
Saloni: My favorite aspect of this novel so far is definitely the characters. All of the characters, or at least the ones I’ve paid attention to, have had so much depth and complexity to them. While I expected an incredibly story and my expectations were set high, the characters completely blew me away.

Have any of you guys read the Mistborn Trilogy? If so, what did you think of it, let me know in the comments below! And if you haven't read it yet, feel free to read along with us. The more the merrier!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Snapshot Saturday | Graduation

Today's Snapshot Saturday features my newly decorated graduation cap. While some of my friends went for complex sayings and whatnot, I went for the simply college design with a few stray diplomas. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Free For All Friday | High School Graduation

Unfortunately this week I was unable to post a Tuesday Talks because of an important milestone called graduation. This Tuesday I graduated from high school and I have to say, it's a very bittersweet experience. 

First there's the actual ceremony, which is usually fairly tedious. The graduates walk into the auditorium/gym to the beat of the famous graduation song, and then we all sit down. A long line of speakers typically follows. These individuals are usually the valedictorian, salutatorian, superintendent, principal, etc. Then is the arduous process of calling each individual person up and handing them their diploma. Overall, it's nothing spectacular, but it's an emotional time for parents and students alike. 

Afterwards is usually when the emotions hit their peak. We've turned our tassels and thrown our caps,  officially becoming college freshman and high school alumni. Weaving in and out of the gaggle of people, we try to find our friends and family, those that have supported us. We take pictures with our fellow classmates and it's then that we realize how finite high school is. We realize that our four years together are coming to a close. And while we're excited about our futures, there are clouds of nostalgia just threatening to creep in.  

I know I'll see my friends again, so it wasn't really a goodbye. But it's still something I think is worth sharing. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Free For All Friday | Group Work

Group work is a cause of constant stress for me. Unfortunately for me, I'm a perfectionist and fairly over-bearing, especially when it comes to group work, so people either hate me in their group or love having me.

Essentially I'm the one who ends up doing most, if not all of the work.

I understand people have their own schedules and work on their own time, just as I do, and I understand when emergencies come up, but I don't understand the art of procrastination when someone else is depending on you.

I work with people I can trust, those who I know will get their work down. I've had the unfortunate event of someone blowing me off before a ten-page lab report is due, and now the very thought of group work sets me into anxiety, particularly those with a reputation of not doing work.

It's one thing not doing an individual assignment because you don't want to, and it's a completely different thing to not do a group assignment just to spite someone.

Am I the only one who feels this way about group work? I like getting my assignments out of the way as soon as I can and I'm not a fan on depending on someone especially someone who's not dependable.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Book Buying Bans

Welcome to another Tuesday Talks, a Goodreads group started by Janie and Janelle where we discuss book-related topics every Tuesday.

Today's topic is Book Buying Bans. There are several reasons why one might go on a book buying ban. They can be against a specific series, author or genre or they might be for practicality purposes like saving space and money.

I'm not completely against book buying bans, especially not ones used for practicality purposes, but I am a little iffy on those against particular authors and genres. I'm not necessarily sure in what scenario one would completely ban a specific author, but I would think it would be in a situation where the author has done or said something to give them a bad rep.

In general I try to keep the author and the story separate. Even if I don't love the author, I wouldn't band his/her books because of it. Especially if the books are thought to be very good.

However a book buying ban on a practicality basis I completely understand. While I don't officially declare book buying bans, I typically span out when I buy myself books. For example, I'll allow myself buy new releases and books on special occasions like birthdays and graduation. But I'm fairly stringent on spending otherwise. Not only that but recently I've found that my bookshelves are very full these days, especially after BEA so I need to restrict my purchases further.

Do you guys go on book buying bans? To save money, space or just because you don't like an author? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Aftermath | Tom Lewis

The end of the world came fast. Between the time the warning had sounded on the TV, till when 16-year-old Paige O’Connor awakened sometime later, civilization had been crushed. 

The attacks had come by “them” – those things in the ships in the sky that had appeared suddenly, and without warning. 

And as Paige would soon discover, the attacks had only been the beginning. 

Aftermath is the first book in the new After the Fall dystopian action series, which follows a young girl’s struggle for survival in the wake of civilization’s collapse, and humanity’s domination by an alien race of beings. 

While the concept of this book was interesting, I personally didn't feel as though it was executed as well as it could have been.

My main issue was the lack of interaction the story had with the reader. The audience should have some part in the story. We should be given the opportunity to like characters and dislike characters without outright being told who is good and who is bad. Personally I felt as though this story lacked depth, in the characters, the plot, the setting, etc.

While this book was science fiction and, of course, completely unreal, I still feel like every book should have aspects with some semblance to real life, whether it be manifested in the character personalities, character relations, the events of the book, etc. And I genuinely feel as though this story didn't have any, at least none that I could relate to.

On the same note, I feel as though the dialogue could have been more interesting. It did serve to answer some of the questions we had, but I felt as though most of it was characters asking and answering questions. We got no heartfelt moments between characters that really solidified their relationship, which is why the proclaimed love was hard to believe.

The first book in the series generally sets the foundation and predicts the trajectory for the rest of the series. From The Hunger Games, we knew there would be some efforts put to overthrow the Capitol and from The Fifth Wave Series we can predict that there is some sort of human-alien conspiracy that must be solved. But with this book I really saw no trajectory. I assume they're going to try and overthrow the "hosts", but as the protagonists of the story, they haven't really solidified a plan.

Generally I think the execution of the idea could have been better done. It's an interesting concept told in a very simple way, one I didn't prefer. I like getting as into my books as I can so I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wish I could have, but I don't want to discourage anyone who may be interested in this type of writing.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bad Feminist | Roxane Gay

A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.

Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to becool, but it is pink—all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I’m not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue.”

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

Like I have mentioned before, I've been trying out new genres and subjects of books, breaking out of the YA bubble so to speak. In fact, earlier this month my school was giving away free copies of this book, and of course I signed up and got a copy, not expecting to actually read it. But I decided to start it and kept reading through the end. In this book Gay covers many topics from feminism to racism and rather than really reviewing the book, I want to give my opinions on several of the points she made throughout her essays. 

1. Feminism

I will admit, I've never really called myself a feminist. The word is so warped in our society, typically associated with the extreme feminists, those who yell at men trying to be chivalrous and essentially claim that men are better than women. I don't blame you for thinking that's what a feminist is, until recently I did too. But feminism is the fight for gender equality, for both men and women. However because the issue affects women to a larger extent, it has been named for them. 

Like I said, I believe in gender equality for everyone, not just women. People frequently complain that women are objectified in society, however I think men are objectified just as much, which isn't a gender issue as much as it is a biological one. We are attracted to attractive people because biologically they would make better mates for us. Is it right to judge women solely on the size of their breasts? Of course not. But it is equally wrong to judge a man by his chiseled jaw, muscular torso, or any number of qualities. 

One of the biggest things I want to discuss is the Fifty Shades of Grey outrage that erupted on the Internet during the release of the movie. I saw post after post discouraging people from watching the movie, saying that if they did they would be supporting rape. I think people are forgetting to make a distinction between ignorance and belief. So many people have gone to the movie in order to laugh about how stupid it is, but what they don't understand is that by investing eight or nine dollars for a movie, they're fueling the franchise. I want to see this movie. I want to laugh at it just like everyone else, but I don't, by any means, support rape. But I also will not be putting money to propagate the franchise. People who so outrightly accuse others of such hideous beliefs need to take a step back and examine who really is at fault. 

2. Racism

My views on racism is a bit different from most people, but I'm going to share them anyways. I don't believe it is right to treat anybody differently because of their ethnicity, regardless of whether it is a positive treatment or a negative treatment. Of course discrimination is wrong but what we fail to realize is that even the so-called "good" things we do in order to compensate are discriminatory. For example, take Black History Month. While the intention behind it is good, all it does is divide the separation between the races. By categorizing an ethnicity into a month, we're subconsciously separating it from everything else. If we really want to include worldwide ethnicity into our education, we need to incorporate it directly into the teaching system without drawing any special attention to it. Same goes for other practices such as affirmative action. By giving an advantage to someone because of their ethnicity is no different from how it used to be, it's just against a different group of people. 

One thing in particular that Gay talks about is the inaccuracy of movies like Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave, extremely successful movies centering on aspects of slavery. She condemns these movies because the white director gave an inaccurate representation of slavery. While this is a legitimate reason, I believe that race is completely independent of this problem. She would run into the same problem if the director were someone who didn't go through slavery, regardless of race. I'm saying the reason these movies may be slightly inaccurate isn't because of the white director simply the lack of experience the director has had. 

Gay also continues and talks about other smaller issues like body image that I'm still trying to sort out of beliefs for. But this was definitely an interesting read and it has definitely inspired me to start reading other nonfictiony books. I definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to try an informal yet informative book about some current issues. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Four: A Divergent Collection | Veronica Roth

Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation’s faction leader did the same. Tobias’s transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child.

Newly christened “Four,” he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future—and the future of the entire faction system.

Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

I love seeing similar events from different perspectives. For Divergent and Insurgent we got to see primarily from Tris's point of view; only in Allegiant did we get the chance to see even a glimpse of Tobias. These short stories do a great job of condensing some important milestones in Tobias's life. We got to see the scrawny boy before transferring to Dauntless, his journey through Dauntless and even the origins of his rivalry with Eric. 

I will admit though, that Tris and Tobias have very similar stories as they go through Initation. Eric is essentially Tobias's "Peter", Amar is essentially his "Tobias." There were just a lot of parallels, and I'm not sure whether they were intentional or not. 

One scene that was particularly striking was the jumper section of Initiation for both Tris and Tobias. When Tobias was an Initiate, he was the last jumper, which somewhat explains his respect and awe at Tris for being the first jumper. I honestly will say that I loved seeing these similarities and differences between Tris and Tobias. 

I will admit though, I like Tris's voice a lot more than Tobias's. In terms of writing style, they are very similar, but Tris is more about the action, she doesn't seem to spend as much time as Tobias does thinking about everything, which is both good and bad. It felt like Tobias spent a whole lot of time just thinking about what the Erudite were doing and what Dauntless should be doing, and a whole lot less doing. 

This may have been intentional but Tobias's takes on certain events seemed to go by much faster than Tris. For him, it seemed as though Initiation lasted a week or so, when in Divergent it lasted a couple months. This was probably done in order to keep the short stories short, but I still wish we had gotten a bit more detail on some events. 

Did you guys read these short stories? Which one was your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! Mine was definitely the super short chapter at the very end that had events of him and Tris interacting. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Miss Mayhem | Rachel Hawkins

Life is almost back to normal for Harper Price. The Ephors have been silent after their deadly attack at Cotillion months ago, and best friend Bee has returned after a mysterious disappearance. Now Harper can return her focus to the important things in life: school, canoodling with David, her nemesis-turned-ward-slash-boyfie, and even competing in the Miss Pine Grove pageant.

Unfortunately, supernatural chores are never done. The Ephors have decided they’d rather train David than kill him. The catch: Harper has to come along for the ride, but she can’t stay David’s Paladin unless she undergoes an ancient trial that will either kill her . . . or connect her to David for life.

A year ago, when Rebel Belle, came out I raved on and on about the perfection within it. Needless to say, the standards were set pretty high and, as a result, Miss Mayhem didn't match my predictions. More than anything, this felt like a filler book, but I most likely will be continuing the series to find out how it ends. I really recommend Rebel Belle, though I honestly think it would have been fantastic as a stand-alone rather than a trilogy. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Underdog or Hero?

Welcome to another Tuesday Talks, a GoodReads group started by Janie and Janelle where we talk about book-related topics every Tuesday. Today's topic is the battle between the underdog and the hero.

I have always rooted for the underdog. In every book, usually a love triangle romance, I am most always rooting for the one that isn't going to win.

I love the unpredictability of a book. Learning of an incredible plot twist and being spun on a completely different path is one of the best parts of reading. That being said, it's fairly obvious that the hero is going to come out alive, but we never really know with the underdog.

There's not much I have to say on this topic but I would definitely pick the underdog over the hero. Who would you root for? Let me know in the comments below! 

Monday, June 8, 2015

From the Ashes | Shelby Morrison

For eighteen years Aia Wynnald has lived a lie. Raised as a highborn in the Kingdom of Tharien, she’s filled her days with tutors and archery lessons. But simmering beneath her polite surface is a dangerous gift, one which she must keep a secret. Aia is a Bender. And in Tharien, Benders are feared and hunted.

When her unruly power breaks free with dire repercussions, Aia’s lifelong goal of independence shatters. As she scrambles to piece her life back together while evading capture, she disturbs a vengeful force intent on destroying the kingdom.

Now, with the help of an unlikely ally, Aia will decide the fate of Tharien. To rescue those she cares about will require accepting what she is. But can she risk becoming the monster she’s dreaded to save the very citizens baying for her blood?

While I don't usually read fantasy, the few reviews I heard about this book had me hooked. As the first book in a dystology, From the Ashes is a fantastic beginning to Aia's adventurous journey. From the first page we jump right into the action, and from there the storyline, characters and plot just grows. We begin to know Cole, Aia and Illcina, along with all the minor characters and we fall in love with all of them. Even Illcina, a seemingly evil character.

While I'm not going to discuss any specifics regarding the plot and characters, I definitely hope for more of the love triangle that's planning to ensue. I honestly can't wait for the next couple of books. If you haven't picked up this book yet, I definitely recommend it! 

I even got the opportunity to interview Shelby Morrison, you can check it out here.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Free For All Friday | Bored

I am so bored. It's been about three weeks since finals and graduation, and I have nothing to do. I still have volunteering and work every couple of days, but without the constant flurry of homework, tests and quizzes my life feels empty.

My internal clock wakes up by eight am, not even giving me the luxury to sleep in. A cycle of eating, reading and Netflixing continues throughout the day until I hit the point where I'm bored of doing even those. And while I am mildly active (running/fast-walking on my treadmill everyday/ every couple of days), the Saloni-shaped crater in my bed cares to disagree.

This boredom has brought with it it's twin side-kicks: tiredness and laziness. I'm too tired and too lazy to do anything productive (laundry, chores, reading, etc.), but not doing anything productive bores me, which makes me tired and lazy. It's a monstrous cycle. In fact, even though it's only 10 PM, I think I'll stop this post here and go to bed. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Words With an Author | Shelby Morrison

Today we'll be talking to Shelby Morrison, author of From the Ashes 

1. How did you get into writing? When did you first start writing? 

I've always embraced my creative side. I'd tried singing, dancing, acting, writing poetry, writing songs, etc. Then one day I decided to try my hand at writing a story. And that was when I found my true love.

2. Where did you come up with the ideas for your books? Who/What is your inspiration? 

I read a lot of YA fantasy as a kid. They were little sparks for my imagination. So I just thought of a character I loved and what challenges and adventures she'd face. No real inspiration other than the desire to write the book I most want to read. 

3. Are any of your characters based on people you actually know, if so, which ones? 

Haha! If there were, I certainly wouldn't tell. ;) One of the secrets of a writer. We never reveal our sources. That doesn't just apply to journalists. 

4. If you had to pick only five books from your bookshelf you could keep, what would they be? 

I'm a sucker for classics because the characters are so real. I'd keep Peter Pan, Pride & Prejudice, Little Women. And I love the books that remind me of my childhood. The Princess Diaries and Harry Potter. 

5. Who is your favorite character from any book and why? 

Gotta say, Hermione tops the charts for me. Nowadays, badassery is the most requested trait of our heroines. But what about plain old courage, intelligence and wit? She's just amazing.

6. How long did the writing process take for each of your books? 

 My writing process from idea to publish, usually takes 9 months or so. That's with a month or so of editing, a month of beta reading, and two months for reviewers. So the physical writing of the book usually four to five months.

7. Who are some of your favorite authors? 

I'm a big fan of Crichton. I also really enjoy Preston & Child. I love a good thriller book that has me flipping pages. I don't stick with too many authors exclusively. There are too many to try! 

8. What actors/ actresses could you see playing the characters of your book? 

Aia- Karen Gillan
Cole- Nick Bateman
Illcina- Jennifer Connoley
More dream cast can be found on my Pinterest board.

9. How did you come up with the title and cover of each of your books? Did they morph as you wrote the book, or were they constant? 

Oh boy, the titles were going to be the death of me. Legend of the Liberator is a 4-book series. So all 4 titles had to go together, then they had to make sense with what happens in the book, then the had to click with the taglines that I'd chosen. It was pure torture.  But with a lot of brainstorming and asking my friends/coworkers to vote, we whittled it down. I couldn't be happier with them. The cover, I had no idea would originally be illustrated. I just gave my designer my whole mess of ideas and it was really her initial concept that I fell in love with and we went forward. The titles did morph a tiny bit as I wrote but apart from that, they were pretty consistent. I actually wrote the titles after I had mostly finished From the Ashes.

10. Are you planning to write any more books? 

 Oh yes ma'am! I'm going to keep writing until I can't any more. I'm not going anywhere!

11. What would your advice be to someone who's aspiring to be a writer?

Don't give up. Pure and simple. Don't listen to the naysayers, the negativity, it will only get you down. Instead you have to think of them like waves. They will eventually polish you. But if you give up, you'll be swept out to see and that'll be it. If you truly want to be a writer, then do it. Don't listen to those that are secretly jealous and want to see you fail, don't listen to anyone who tells you it's not worth it or it's an impossible dream. Just keep writing. You'll get better. And eventually those negative voices will shut up. 

12. Finally, just to wrap things up, what's your favorite color and why?

Haha! My favorite color is teal/aqua! I just think it is the most beautiful happy color in the world. It isn't often found in nature, except the beautiful ocean off an island. It's rare and I love it.