Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Picture from Humannatureart
Today is Leap Day. It happens only once every four years. And to me there's something magical, mysterious, even hopeful about a day that doesn't show up every year.

Or maybe it's the word.


It's an action word that hangs out with other words such as spring, vault, bound, jump. The images that skip through my mind:

Or perhaps its the thought that I'm human. That I can take the plunge and try anything. Something new, something daring, something that's hidden inside me, itching to be accomplished.

I don't really know. But I do know that it's got me thinking about taking leaps and trying new things that take me out of my comfort zone and stretching me in new ways.

What about you? What is something that you would like to take a leap and do?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Exotic Destinations- Wanaka Lake, New Zealand

Lake Wanaka is a little town nestled within a ring of mountains. Think clear water, romantic hikes, sailboats and adorable shops.

Not only would I say Lake Wanaka is one of the most romantic towns I've ever been to, but it's located in one of my favorite countries, New Zealand.

I love New Zealand for it's diverse environment. In a span of a day's drive you can go from jagged mountain peaks and glaciers to fjords and rainforests. If you have ever seen any of the Lord of the Rings movies then you know how specatcular the sights are.

Where to Stay
What to Eat
  • We ate at a tiny Italian restaurant called Toscanas. It overlooked the town and lake. Make sure you call for reservations because they have only a few tables and they book fast. But the sunset is stunning. 

What to Do
  • Great shopping strolling around the downtown. And you must check out the homemade ice cream at Cinema Paradiso- yum!
  • Hiking in the Mt. Aspiring National Park- incredible wilderness and hundreds of trails
  • Kayaking on the lake
  • Stuart Landborough’s Puzzling World has the neatest illusions and holograms.
  • National Transport and Toy Museum
  • Rippon Vineyard and Wanaka Beerworks

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Give Me a Heroine

I'm a sucker for strong female protagonists. Characters like Katniss, Tris, and Elizabeth Bennet. They are girls who stand up for what they believe and create a difference in the people's lives around them. Sure, they are fictional, but it's girls like these that inspire readers to face obstacles they deal in their everyday lives.

The question is, how do we create heroines that break through the boundary of being more than just words in a book? What defines a heroine who is strong and inspirational?

My random thoughts:

1. Show Me- One of my all time favorite books is DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. First of all, if you haven't read the book, GO OUT AND BUY IT! (I'm so subtle. Smile.)

Tris, the main character, is faced with adversity and the odds of her success are practically impossible. But it's through her sheer determination to stand up for what she wants, despite the consequences that makes her dauntless. She is a strong character. The book doesn't need to tell this to the reader. Tris' actions are sufficient.

2. The Heroine Must Save the Day- Cindy Pon reveals a stunning ending as Ai Ling in SILVER PHOENIX banishes a horrifying force. Sure there is a hot guy, but the hot guy doesn't save the day. It's Ai Ling (yay!).

Side note: I've always thought TWILIGHT would be so much better if it had been Bella who kicked James' butt instead of Edward.

3. Motivations- The heroine must have internal and external motivations that push the boundaries and up the stakes. In FIRELIGHT, Sophie Jordan puts a fiery character on the page-- Jacinda, a draki. I love how Jacinda longs for freedom and yet is desperate to cling onto her true self despite the opposition around her. She is a fighter for what she believes in.

4. Sacrifice- Characters willing to fight for those they love take a story to a new level. I think that's why I love Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE so much. Elizabeth is willing to sacrifice her love for Mr. Darcy (swoon!!) for the safety and keeping the good name of her sisters.

What about you? What do you think makes a great heroine? Who are some of your favorite heroines?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Exotic Destinations- Bali

Wild waves, tall cliffs, exotic dances, and ancient temples. This is Bali.

And while I lived in Indonesia, it was one of my favorite escape places.

Picture: A very sun-burned me weaving a hat from reeds.

What I loved most about Bali was how beautiful the culture was and the ease of getting from the airport to hotels and shopping. You can drive past hills stacked with rice patties and yet have the ease of modern conveniences as well.
Places to Visit

The Monkey Forest- This is quite touristy, but it's a must-see with the huge sprawling trees and hundreds of monkey. Just keep an eye on your belongings. Those monkeys are mischievous little things.
Fantastic shopping in Kuta- great deals on beautiful handcrafted items

Balinese temples- Pura Besakih or the sea temple, Tanah Lot- gorgeous!

Ubud- known for their art, especially paintings. You could visit the Neka Gallery or the Agung Rai Gallery.
Diving- there is also excellent diving in Amed where it’s quieter than Kuta and quaint. Rent a small cabin by the beach and hire a cook!

Places to Stay
I would start your stay in Kuta because it is where the best shopping is. 
Then head over to Seminyak and stay at the Samaya Bali.
Favorite Restaurants
Poppies Restaurant- loved the atmosphere!

Fat Yugi's- (they also have cottages)
Batu Bulong

Favorite Memory
I have a lot of great memories of Bali:
1. Standing on the cliffs and watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean- so romantic!
2. Shopping and bartering using my not-so-great Indonesian
3. Being chased by a monkey in the Monkey Forest

Comment below by Feb. 24th to win: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die!
Tweet this contest for a 3 extra points! Just add @christinafarley so I can know.
Next Friday's Exotic Destination: New Zealand

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Blog Series- Exotic Destinations

I'm very excited about a new blog series I have planned for you. Basically every Friday I will be sharing about a place worthy of jumping into a jet and visiting. These will be places I've visited so I'll be giving you tips I picked up along the way.

Whether you are a traveler looking for new adventures, a writer seeking interesting settings or someone who likes to learn about new places, I hope you'll enjoy Exotic Destinations.

Monday, February 13, 2012


The winner for ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by Shelli Johannes is CookieMonster! Please email me at farley dot christinal at gmail dot com to get the copy of your book!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Related to Jane Austen

As you all know, I'm a crazy fan of Jane Austen. I've read all her books, do the annual Jane Austen movie marathon, I even have her figurine standing right above where I write (okay, that sounds a little creepy).

So when my uncle and I were chatting on the phone the other day about my dream to become an author, he said, "Well it makes sense considering who your relative is."

This is where I sit and rack my memory to recall which relative he's talking about. (Note: my uncle is a historian and knows everything about our family tree).

"You know," he prompts, "Jane Austen."

I laugh. (Because that is funny)

"No," he says. "I'm serious. She's your 14th cousin."

And then it all makes sense. Now my dad's side is Jewish. But my mom's side is English. And her family name was Austen.

Sure, 14th cousin is FAR off and I definitely don't live in England, but still. It's pretty cool.

And maybe he's right. Maybe there is a little bit of her writing spirit passed down to me over the years.

I sense a book idea here... 

Monday, February 6, 2012

World Building with Shelli Johannes-Wells

Please welcome Shelli Johannes-Wells today as she celebrates the launch of her tween novel ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE is a humorous story about a tween angel who is forced to protect her nemesis and what can happen when you hate someone to death.

·     Add it to your Goodreads list
·     Buy it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble

TO RECEIVE AUTHOR NEWS- If you'd like to get periodic author news on any new release dates of future books, please register your email address here.
I love Shelli’s tween voice in ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. She captures the essence of 14-year old Gabby with fun, witty humor and tells a compelling story that you won’t want to put down. And today, Shelli is here to chat about world building with us.

1.   What were the biggest issues you faced in buildings Gabby’s world in the Afterlife?

Building a new heaven from scratch was difficult. I wanted to build a new world that was NOT connected to religion. So I had to think of a way to get past all the notions of Heaven. This meant changing the name to Cirrus (city among the clouds), having a woman ruler (Nephele), and an Evil man (named Malum). That way, kids of all religions could read the story and separate it from their religious beliefs. Even though everyone doesn't believe in angels.

2.  I love how you think outside the box when it comes to the Afterlife. Concepts like SKYagents, Brights, and SKYfones are just brilliant! And I love the food there. Who wouldn’t want to eat angel food cake dripping with chocolate or angel hair pasta? So Shelli, how were you able to spark that creativity into ON THE BRIGHT SIDE?

I’m kinda corny I guess? I wanted to create a technologically advanced afterlife with cities that were eco-friendly. I wanted kids to think it was fun and whimsy yet hip and modern.

3.  World building sure doesn’t build itself. Where do you start when you are worldbuildling? (i.e. the setting, language, rules, dress, architecture)  

I am very visual when I write so I usually start with the setting first. What does it look like? How does it need to function? What is the ruling system (government etc)? What are the rules? That usually lends itself to making up rules for everything else. If I don’t know what a place looks like or how it functions, the other pieces don’t fall into place easily.

4.  Your world building is full of humor that sparks life into ON THE BRIGHT SIDE. Phrases such as BBF (Bright Friends Forever), Miracle Nails, Sacred Chow and SKYolations literally made me laugh out loud. Where do you think this stuff up?

Girl, I have no clue where all that stuff comes from. It just pops in my head. I was looking to do play on words and to touch on different aspects of heaven and Earth that kids could relate to. I started by listing all the things kids love: fashion, shopping, food, clothes, and technology. I started making lists and went from there. I must say, I even surprised myself sometimes. I mean Sacred Chow? How funny is that (if I do say so myself.) Something’s are part of my life. I get my nails done at Angel Nails – I’m not kidding so that is where I got Miracle Nails. I eat at a place called Chow Baby so Sacred Chow popped into my head. And of course, don’t forget Dolce and Nirvana (ha!)

5.   How do you keep all the details in Etern City and Cirrus in order without it becoming celestial chaos?

I keep a file of everything in the city of Etern. The positions. The government. The buildings. So I always reference that. Anything that comes up as I’m writing goes in that file for reference.

Thank you for joining us Shelli and sharing your SKYpertise!

Comment below to enter and win a copy of ON THE BRIGHT SIDE!

“Peace, love, and recycle!”

Friday, February 3, 2012

Article 5 Book Launch

Last night, my writing buddies here in Orlando, Jess Souders, Larissa Hardesty, and Tara Gallina took a road trip to Tampa for Kristen Simmon's ARTICLE 5 book launch. What a great time!

The launch took place at Inkwood Books, an adorable indie bookstore. If you're ever in Tampa, I'd recommend checking out what they have to offer.

We ate yummy #5 cookies while we listened to Kristen share about her writing journey, which was touching and really an inspiration to us all. Tara even won swag!

Kristen then read us an excerpt of her book and already I'm anxious to start reading my new autographed copy.

Kristen's agent, Joanna was there for the occasion, having flown all the way from Chicago! It was such a touching moment to listen to Kristen share how her dreams have become a reality.

We also met book blogger, Sarah, from The Book Life too!

Here's the blurb on Kristen's book:

ARTICLE 5, the first installment of a dystopian trilogy for teens. Major cities have been abandoned, the Bill of Rights has been revoked and replaced with the Moral Statutes, there are no more police – instead, only soldiers. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that life in the United States used to be different. Living with her rebellious single mother, it’s hard to forget that people weren’t always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. She has learned to keep a low profile, but then her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And what’s worse, one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings…the only boy Ember has ever loved.