Published? Maybe…

Hello Friends,

I hope everyone is doing well. I’m thrilled to announce that one of my short-stories, “Uncle Carlos’s Liberty Avenue,” has been published on the La Galería Magazine. Click on the link and check out my contribution. Let me know what you think!

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Best,
Steph

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Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses By Sarah J. Maas

Sophie Reviews

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  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (May 5, 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1619634449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619634442
  • Fantasy – Adults – New Adults

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed…

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An Audiobook Experience: This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

Sophie Reviews

junot-diaz-lose-herI love psychical books despite acknowledging the dying Amazon rainforest, climate change, and the increasing need for sustainability. There’s something hypnotizing about the smell of books, their weight, and the texture of their covers. It’s like… Well, it’s like book-foreplay.

My days are often filled with empty pockets of times, such as my morning and afternoon commutes, my weekly trips to the grocery store, and my ritualistic lunchtime walk through Central Park. Then, although it would be a dream come true, I cannot read and take care of these tasks all at once. Therefore, I listen to audiobooks, which can also be a remarkable experience.

My latest favorite audiobook is Junot Díaz’ This is How You Lose Her, which I listened to during my daily commutes. If you enjoy Junot Díaz’ writing and novels, then this is the perfect audiobook for you. Junot Díaz reads This is How You…

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Book Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Sophie Reviews

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  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812982851
  • ISBN-13: 978-081298285

There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot…

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Changes

 

 

Hello Friends!

I am challenging myself to read more books this year. Therefore, I have decided to create a “book reviews” only blog, where I will be moving some of the book reviews I had posted on this page. If you are interested in what I’m reading these days, check it out: https://sophiereviewsblog.wordpress.com

It’s still under construction, but I hope it can be a space to hold “book clubs” and share my experience reading books with others. Also, on this blog, I plan only to post on books that I truly enjoy. Let me know if you have any questions.

Best,

Stephanie Sophie M.

Thoughts About Writing: Learning from Television

Stories, in general, fascinate me. It doesn’t matter which medium they are told in. Stories are a huge part of my life, so it’s not a surprise that I’m a big movie buff.

Recently, I watched People Places Thing, which was directed and written by James Strouse. It stars Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and The Daily Show’s Jessica Williams. The movie was both plot-driven and dialogue-driven. The script stood out, at times, shadowing the acting. The dialogue was witty, strong, and at times, sarcastic. I loved it! I’m into that kind of storytelling.

The movie made me think about all the things I have learned about storytelling from television. Movies are all about “showing,” a vital skill and method for writers. The old “show – don’t tell” advice is real; very real.

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Movies and television can also teach us about story structures. One of my favorite romance writers, Nalini Singh, often talks about how she learned about world-building from authors like Anne McCaffrey and about creating “series arcs” from watching television shows like Heroes. So far, Nalini has written a series of successful and intriguing paranormal and romance books, the Psy-Changelings series.

Movies like Amélie, The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, and American Beauty can teach us plenty about “showing” versus “telling.” Have you ever read a screenplay? Read one, and also, try writing one. Successful scripts are all about the “showing.” Once in a while, I give myself the challenge of writing a small script to exercise the “writing muscles.” Yes, I’m convinced that the brain is muscle, and we can train it.

As if it were the business of destiny, I walked onto the college campus and right through the doors of the media department. I received the opportunity to make four student short films (or movies). The shorts were terrible, but I learned plenty about what making a film entails. I also had the chance to write, direct, and edit all of those. It was an enjoyable experience.

I learned that editing was my favorite part of filmmaking. The editing was the moment when and where the story came together. I got to reshape and form the story guided by the strength of the acting and the quality of the writing. Now, when I write something bad, I’m comforted by the possibilities of editing.

I’m curious about you guys. What inspires you to write?

Best,

Steph

Creating a Space (Part 1): Diversity and Diverse Books

The Conversation about Creating a Space for Diversity and Diverse Books

All art, I believe, is a reflection of our times and experiences within the society. The race, gender, sexual orientation, and able-bodied politics that rule our world are reshaped and recorded, repeatedly, in countless mediums of art.

The art we create today will be inherited by the next generation. The possibility of it, alone, makes it invaluable that we become conscious about what we leave behind and whose voices will represent our generation of creators. The reality is that there’s a lack of representation of ethnicities, sexuality and individuals living with disabilities in the media.

The English-speaking publishing world has tied itself in a knot in the attempt to address the need for diverse books in the last decade. It’s a topic of interest to me, as a person of color, as an avid reader, and as a consumer of art. Honestly, there is something gratifying about picking up a book or watching a movie in which the characters and I share the same culture, food, and stories. It’s the familiarity of the characters’ worlds that makes me feel at home and less alone. Many of us find solace in stories; it’s one of the reasons why stories are important. It is also equally exciting to learn about cultures that are different from my own.

The movement for diverse books has hit a wall of controversy, a small wall, but a wall, nevertheless. When the topic of diversity and books comes up, I’ve heard those of the opinion that pushing diversity in books would only perpetuate the same stereotypes that many hope to combat and that, at the end of the day, the human stories are the ones captivating us and moving us to tears or making us burst into laughter, regardless of the character’s background.

I agree with the later statement, but I also feel that these feelings stem from our personal experiences and fears. It’s also the reason we need diverse books and authors in the first place.

Diversity in books is not the same thing as “diverse books.” Diversity in books refers to diversity in the cast of characters starring in a book or books. I believe there’s value in encouraging authors to think outside of the box and give a thought to the possibility of writing three-dimensional characters living with disabilities, of different sexual orientations, religions or racial backgrounds. It all only takes a bit of imagination and a bit of research.

Nonetheless, it’s not enough to encourage authors to add three-dimensional minority characters to their stories. We need more minority authors to write and publish. And I know they exist because I know a few of them.

The term “diverse books” implies a wider selection of books to read and a bigger pool of authors to pick from. I read all types of books, a myriad of the genres, characters, and styles, and I sense that there is a craving out there for diverse stories and authors. I can feel this craving.

Art holds a lot of influence in our society. As readers and writers, we should also be open-minded about reading books from different authors, genres, and countries in the English publishing world. My heart aches to think about all the great books out there waiting to be read, and yet not translated. We shouldn’t be afraid to get out of our comfort zones. We should write a reflection of the whole world, not just our own.

Note: Writing is a job, and it’s already hard enough. My reason for writing this entry was only to start a dialogue about the types of books we read and the characters we write. I was also happily informed by my fourteen year old sister that changes are happening within YA, and it’s great news! She’ll have more choices than me at her age.

Thanks for reading! Please share your thoughts.

Best,

Steph

Note: Writing is a job, and it’s already hard enough. My reason for writing this entry was only to start a dialogue about the types of books we read and the characters we write.