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Everything Alyce: GUEST POST: Cait Reynolds (+ review of 'Downcast')

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

GUEST POST: Cait Reynolds (+ review of 'Downcast')

To celebrate the release of 'Downcast' by Cait Reynolds, I'm delighted to welcome her to my blog for a guest post! Once you've read Cait's post (on a topic I'm rather passionate about myself!) you should stick around, because I'll be giving a bit more information about 'Downcast', and writing a spoiler free review to hopefully help you make up your minds on whether it's a book for you!
I'll pass you over to Cait...
The Curse of Too Many Notebooks

I am a sucker for office supplies.

New pens, notebooks, sticky note packs, markers, journals…all of that stuff gives me a sense of empowerment and control over my destiny. It helps me feel like I’m actually in control of the chaos that surrounds me.

The only problem is…I tend to get carried away with notebooks and journals. I want to start a new notebook for every project, but then I start too many projects and have too many notebooks going at once. It makes it tricky to say, “Oh, I don’t want to lug my laptop with me. I’ll just take a notebook and work on X along the way.”

Yeah, that’s great if you have one notebook. Not so great if you have five.

But…I can’t resist. Limited edition art Moleskine? I’m a sucker. Unique vintage label notebook?  I roll over and play dead. Cute little notebook to fit in my purse? BUY THEM ALL! Smash Journals on clearance at Marshall’s? Yeah. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

It’s awful. I try to limit myself. In January, I made a stern resolution not to buy any more journals until I’ve used up the ones I have. That’s like trying to tell a PMS’ing woman not to eat chocolate. It’s hard. So hard.

The thing is, though, the gratification I get from finishing a notebook and being able to go back through it and capture all the delicious little bits and ideas is such a rewarding experience. I can’t give it up.

So, what’s a girl to do? Well, I have whittled myself down to three notebooks and a planner for the moment. It’s kind of killing me, but I feel like a better, stronger person for it. I’ve even assigned them all different roles.

One notebook is for my Olympus Falling series. This is where I keep track of all my ideas. It’s a plain brown paper cover Moleskine that I’ve doodled “Downcast,” “Thunderstruck,” and “Sunkissed” all over.

One notebook is a Smash Journal that I use for my obsessive list making. My brain revs like a racecar all the time, and I need a place to write and rewrite lists so I feel like I’m in control and don’t have to worry about forgetting something. It’s a sickness, but I’ve learned to accept it. In some ways, seeing an unchecked-off checklist motivates me almost as much as new office supplies.

The third notebook is where I keep everything else that comes into my brain. This is where I write down character names that don’t have novels, and novel ideas that don’t have characters. I write down phrases that pop into my head. I keep notes on my freelance work. I really hope I can finish this notebook soon, though, because it’s spiral bound, and I’m just not loving the feeling of it. It reminds me too much of school.

For an actual planner, I use the Passion Planner. It’s by far the best planner I’ve found for someone who is a writer. It helps me keep track of what I need to do for my personal life and for my professional life at the same time. This is where I winnow down those giant lists from my Smash Journal and become realistic about what I can actually do in a day or a week.

Still…still, there is a shelf of empty notebooks, staring at me. Beckoning to me with their empty pages and endless potential. That shelf sits in my peripheral vision as I work. It’s torture. It’s like saying I will eat only one potato chip – which has never yet happened in the entire history of mankind.

Some of my friends wonder why I don’t keep things electronically, using Evernote or some other organizational program. The answer is simple: I believe that writing should involve some writing.

In one of my former lives, I worked at an architecture and design school. Even in this age of fancy computer design and graphics, there was an endless drumbeat of reminding the students to keep an actual sketch journal. Why? Because there is a hand-to-mind connection that cannot be denied and is actually a valuable part of the creative process.

Now, I’m not saying I’m about to run off and use parchment and quills to write my next book. But, when working out ideas, there is a lot to be said for the actual time it takes to handwrite something as opposed to typing it out.

For myself, it forces me to think through my idea before I go to the effort of writing it down. Or, while I’m writing, the idea has time to mature and change. Typing happens so fast that there often isn’t that chance for an idea to refine itself before being committed to a page.

Writing in a notebook is a frustrating, engrossing, fascinating experience for me, and I value it tremendously as a part of my overall writing process. Besides, someday, I’d like to look back at a shelf of full notebooks, seeing a physical, tangible record of all the things I’ve thought and written.

But with my luck, there will be a shelf of fresh, empty notebooks right next to it, just waiting for me to jump in and start writing again. 
I don't think I can agree more! When I started doing fiction writing at the start of the year, I decided to purchase five notebooks, but I know that I'll fill them all up someday... So why not buy some to keep in reserve, for when I need them? Or what about all those writing emergencies? I've been trying to control my notepad buying, and I think Cait's advice will definitely help me with my obsessive purchasing.

About the book: 


What would you do when faced with an impossible truth? Written with heart and passion, Downcast by Cait Reynolds is ripe with twists you never saw coming and love that defies the odds in this intense new Paranormal Romance retelling of one of mythology's greatest love stories.
It's the start of Stephanie Starr's senior year of high school, but sadly, this is no life of the prom queen. Stuck at the bottom of the high school social totem pole, Stephanie is forced by her domineering mother to wear lumpy linen dresses and eat organic tofu for lunch in a world of mini-skirts and pizza. 
What Stephanie doesn't anticipate is gorgeous and cocky Haley Smith, who breaks social convention and pursues her with a determination that is both terrifying and flattering. Afraid that Haley is simply trying to set her up for massive humiliation, Stephanie does her best to push him away. But the more attention he pays to her, the more she runs, and the more everyone else begins to notice.
Instead of a loving family to support her as the mean girls make their play, Stephanie's mother begins to unravel mentally, her possessiveness of Stephanie spiraling to new and frightening extremes. Stephanie is forced to grow up, find herself, and learn the truth about her past in order to save her mother, her friends, and her town. When the truth is revealed, nothing can prepare her for the outrageous reality of her existence... and nothing can save her from her fate.
Except Haley.
A big thank you to Booktrope, for accepting my request to read and review 'Downcast' on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide!

I really enjoyed 'Downcast' - much more than I was expecting to, in fact. I had an idea about which mythological love story was going to be retold, and I was completely right, so I was worried that it was all going to be a bit too predictable as it is a very well-known story. However, this book wasn't predictable at all.
There were lots of surprising elements thrown in throughout, meaning that for many long sections of the novel I was finding myself rather on edge, because literally anything could have happened. Stephanie's mother's psychological deterioration was a central element to this; Stephanie was so on edge, and that paranoia and anxiety was extremely well written, meaning that you couldn't help but feel the same emotions snaking through your body while you read.
The romance is a little bit too insta-love for my tastes, but I know that appeals to a lot of people so this will definitely be a favourite among members of the 'Twilight' fandom - the story and the writing style are extremely different, but the love aspect of the plot is extremely similar. However, because it was based on a mythological romance and was going on the idea of fate sealing people's destinies together, it was almost necessary to be an insta-love, so I'm going to let it slide.
I don't want to give anything away, because I'm attempting to give a spoiler free review, but just know that despite the beginning being a bit of a slow burn and it taking quite a while to get into the main story, the actual retelling is creative and unique and will definitely entertain and intrigue you. This is the first installment in Cait Reynolds 'Olympus Falling' series, and I am definitely gonna keep an eye out for the following books.
If you're interested in purchasing 'Downcast', it's available on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

About the author:
 

Cait Reynolds lives in the Boston area with her husband and 4-legged fur child. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn't cooking delicious meals, running around the city, rock climbing like a boss, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes. Reynolds is able to pull from real life experiences such as her kidney transplant, and her writing reflects her passion for life from having to face the darkest places and find the will to laugh.
If you want to find out more about Cait, you can visit her website or follow her on Twitter or Goodreads.

Last, but certainly not least, I'd like to say a hugely massive thank you to Kellie Sheridan at Booktrope for inviting me on this blog tour and connecting me with Cait!

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