Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Writer's Voice Query and First 250 Words

I just found out I won a spot in The Writer's Voice contest! Wooooohooooo!!! Below is my query, and the first 250 words of my MG Fantasy novel, The Princess Tournament.

Twelve-year-old Cordelia of Lavishton has never met a pirate. She's never tangled with a water sprite, or bandaged a troll's enormously smelly foot. She's led the prim and proper life of a princess, never needing to learn the best way to battle a dragon, or outwit an evil sorceress.

All that changes on the eve of a peace celebration, when the royal families from the Three Kingdoms of Darland gather. It’s the perfect time to make new friends, and for the kingdoms to commemorate their unity and harmony.

It’s also the perfect place for sabotage.

When a vengeful bard takes his revenge on the kings who mocked him, he informs the remaining royals that Cordelia and two other princesses, Maya and Dawn, must compete in a tournament. His goal is to create the story of the century, one that will keep his name famous for years to come.

Now the girls must survive three tasks in order to break the curse. Winning means their father will be freed from the curse. Losing means their king will be lost in a terrifying dream state forever.

The Princess Tournament  is 38,000 words. While it has been written to set up a trilogy, it can stand alone. The story is told from the perspective of Cordelia, Maya, and Dawn, and should appeal to fans of The Hero’s Guide to Saving your Kingdom and The Storybook of Legends

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Heather Strafuss

First 250 Words: 

Cordelia of Lavishton sat in a stagecoach, hands folded neatly in her lap. Her back was stiff and her left knee itched, but Cordelia didn’t dare move. Her maid, Gertrude, had spent hours pressing her gown and styling her hair, and informed her that if she moved one inch the wrong way, the dress would wrinkle and her hair would droop. 

Cordelia didn’t think anyone would mind if her gown had a few creases in it, or if her hair was less than perfect. But Gertie had turned a very dark shade of purple when she mentioned that, so Cordelia promised to remain as still as possible. 

Her little brother, however, was making that extremely difficult.

Toby bounced in the seat opposite her. While she was twelve and expected to be a perfect demonstration of a princess, Toby was six, and hadn’t started his lessons in Etiquette yet.

That never bothered her before, but now it made Cordelia bite her lip. How was she supposed to obey Gertrude and keep her dress perfect if he was rolling about the carriage like a dog?

When he stood abruptly, Cordelia pulled her dress back so his already-muddy shoes (how was he already dirty?) wouldn’t touch it. She could just imagine Gertrude’s gasp of horror if she discovered Cordelia had gotten dirt on the gown. If she showed up filthy and dishonored her mother’s memory, Gertrude would make her walk in extra-high heels for weeks.

Thank you for reading my entry! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heather's Top Ten YA!

Hello Readers! I thought I'd do a list of my favorite ten books from the year
(These are in no particular order!) 
They're all just books I really enjoyed reading this year. This list is YA because that's mostly what I read, so if you dont read YA, I suggest you pick at least one on the list and give it a shot. 
Because YA books are awesome. 

1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
A WWII novel about a pilot and a spy who are best friends. That's an awesome setup right there, but Wein goes a step further and makes you feel ALL the feelings while reading this book. When the worst happens and Codename:Verity is kidnapped, she must choose to reveal her mission or be executed. What follows are her thoughts as she is imprisoned, and her friend Maddy's desperate search to find her. I'm not usually much into historicals, but this book grabbed me right from the start and I could NOT put it down. I also sobbed uncontrollably at times. Beautifully written, and the fact that it centered on two best friends (KISS ME HARDY! SOB!) really made this one stand out for me.  

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A retelling of Cinderella in which Cinderella is a cyborg. Really, that should be all you need to know to make you interested!
I loved this book SO MUCH. It's so original, and Cinder is a great main character.  Meyer's debut novel really hooked me and I really want to know what happens in the rest of the series. Plus, it was nice to have a setting in New Beijing as opposed to a wasted dystopian America (those are everywhere right now so the change was nice.)
Also, Prince Kai! Helloooooo, Prince Kai! *fangirls*

3. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter
This is book five of the Gallagher Girls series. If you have not read any of the others, please do so IMMEDIATELY. You will not regret it. Seriously one of the best series  I've ever read. And they keep getting better. 
Book five starts out with Cammie waking up in a convent, unable to remember what happened to her over the summer. She spends the rest of the book trying to figure out what happened to her, despite the fact that sometimes ignorance is bliss. 
I won't say more because a LOT happens, but Cammie and the Gallagher Girls have grown so wonderfully and there were several times they had me wishing I could jump into the book and join them, and give them hugs when needed. Five awesome stars, and I can't wait for the next (and last! sniff!) book to come out. 

4. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
This is the last book in the Hex Hall series. (Much like the Gallagher Girl books, if you have not read the first two yet, get thee to the library immediately!) After the MONSTER cliffhanger in book two, Sophie and co. are back to save the day.
The Hex Hall series is hilarious, adventurous and full of so much snark I can't help but love it. Sophie is amazing, and while Spell Bound is more serious than the other two, this book doesn't disappoint. With the exception of something MAJOR happening at the end ( that I am STILL not over, Ms. Hawkins!!) the book is a great conclusion. And there is a fun new character introduced who gets her own series (School Spirits) coming out next spring. 

5. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Assassin Nuns. ASSASSIN NUNS. That's right up there with cyborg Cinderella. (Really, how do you guys come up with these ideas? I'm jealous!)
Ismae escapes her very tough life and goes to live at St. Mortain, where the sisters serve the god of Death. She learns the tips and secrets of assassinating those who are Marked by Death, and follows her orders faithfully, until she goes on a mission that makes her start to question her new world. 
Some readers wished for more action in this book, but honestly the pace and plot worked perfectly for me. The ending wrapped things up nicely, even though there will be more books focusing on other assassins. 

6. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Kami Glass has an imaginary friend, a boy she's talked to in her head all her life. She tries to live her life as normally as she can as an investigative reporter, until the Lynburns return and Kami makes a startling discovery. 
Every single character in this book is fantastic. Kami leads the gang as a strong, smart and sassy detective and figuring out the mystery alongside her is fun. When you reach the ending you may want to hunt down Ms. Rees Brennan and throttle her, but luckily there are two more books in which a certain character should...well, I can't say more lest I spoil things. But read this gem, it won't disappoint you!

7. Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
Book Two in Girl of Fire and Thorns. I really enjoyed the first book, but I love this one SO much more. Elisa is the hero of her country after leading her people to victory against their enemies. She's also the Queen who must do what's best for her country before it crumbles. This takes her on a dangerous journey with her friend, a warrior, and one of the enemy. 
So much happens in this book. There is so much drama, and I was on the edge of my seat quite a bit. Elisa is a great MC and has grown so much you can't help but feel proud of her and want to cheer her on. And Hector. Oh, Hector. You are my favorite, and I love you.

8. The Diviners by Libba Bray
Holy creepy badguy, Batman. The Diviners takes place in 1920s New York and the entertaining Evie O'Neill is the narrator for much of the story. She comes to the city that never sleeps to live with her uncle Will, after a scandalous ordeal sends her hometown into a tizzy. Will is the curator of a museum know as The Museum for Creepy Crawlies and when a series of occult murders rampage the city, Evie and Will get in the middle of the investigation. The book is long, but excellent. But read it with ALL THE LIGHTS ON. Seriously. Naughty John is one of the most terrifying bad guys ever and you will experience shivers when reading some of the more
gruesome and horrifying parts of the book. Stay out of basements as well!
9. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
   Blood and Starlight is Book 2 in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. If you haven't read Daughter of Smoke and Bone READ IT. It's one of the best, most unique and amazing stories I have ever read. And Days of Blood and Starlight lives up to it.  
I admit I had no idea where this book would go after the ending of the first one but I trusted Taylor and I'm so glad I did. It's hard to sum up the plot but basically Karou deals with the EPIC cliffhanger from book one and tries to right wrongs and still be the person she was. The result is an amazing and heart-breaking story and the ending leaves you desperately wanting the next one. (Also, this one has MORE ZUZANA. I LOVE ZUZE!)

10. Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Greek and Roman campers come together in book 3 of the Heroes of Olympus trilogy. Percy, Annabeth, Hazel, Leo, Piper, Jason and Frank have to learn to cooperate together in order to get to the Doors of Death and stop Mother Earth from destorying the world. I'd been looking forward to this book for so long because it finally had Annabeth's POV! She was my favorite in the original Percy Jackson series so I was super excited to finally get her as a narrator.  There's a lot of Percy/Annabeth moments that show just how much the two have grown since the Lightning Thief. Riordan is just amazing with character developement and the fact that all his books just keep getting BETTER is something to be jealous of. (There is a MASSIVE cliffhanger at the end, though, just a heads up!)
So those are my favorites! If you pick one to read I hope you like it! What are some of your favorite books from this year?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day is Here!

I don't know what it is about Election Day. But I freaking love it.
 There's something about going out there, casting your vote for who should be president and getting a sticker that makes me feel all Bad A**. 
It's important, and I love being part of it.
This morning Burrito went with me to vote. I'd been prepping her for it the past few days, telling her if she helped Mommy vote she'd get a sticker. This made it all sorts of exciting.
As soon as we got to the polls she strutted in all serious-like and started exclaiming "Mommy, I'm ready to vote! Mommy, I'm ready to vote!" while I was signing in.
Everyone there thought she was adorable and she got TWO stickers for being so enthusiastic about voting. 

So I hope you all have used your right to vote! Even if you don't vote who I chose. 
That's okay, that's part of democracy! 
Also, to all the men and women who suffered so that everybody in our country had the right to vote: Thank You. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Yup, Neglectfulness has struck again on the Strafi blog. Whoops. Sorry, Dear Readers. My only excuse is that summer started off incredibly busy, and then yours truly got incredibly lazy. 
My bad!
The summer started off pretty awesome. My sister-in-law (who is awesome) married one of my best friends from high school (who is also awesome) and thus their wedding was...awesome!!! Beautiful ceremony, fantastic guests, and I think it's safe to say, fun wedding party shenanigans. 
(Note to self: you are not 21, and you are a mommy. You can't drink like a fish anymore, darling. Note to all wedding guests: sorry for being THAT bridesmaid!! You know the one:) 

 Your smell like pine needles and your face is like sunshine!!

But it was a pretty good time :) 

So after that, my slightly (err...REALLY) out of shape butt decided to do the Color Run. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, the Color Run is where a bunch of crazy dedicated people run a 5k and have color packets thrown at them.
Sounds crazy but is totally a good time! Except for that whole exercise part. 
I went with a good friend and we got into all sorts of mischief on the way there (it was about a five hour drive. Long story. No we're not crazy. Really. We're not!) 
Anywho. Here are we absolutely gorgeous after the run:

H-Dogg and Lizzle (Sorry could not come up with a cooler codename!)

So after all that fun in June, July came along with 100 degree temps EVERY FREAKING DAY and it was literally too hot to do anything except swim, and then only in the evening. 
So yeah, that's been my summer. Couple all of the above with Potty Training and you have an idea of how my life has been lately. Burrito's done really well with the potty training but to those people who tell you it can be taught in the day: you are FREAKING LIARS. They LIE, readers. LIE LIE LIE!
Hope all of you are having a fun summer! Now I'm back to watching Bridget Jones. Who, I'm fairly certain, is me only British and single. Oh dear.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back It Up!

I'm baaack! I bet you thought I was being Neglectful Blogger Momma again, didn't you? Trust me, Dear Readers, I had many ramblings to randomly mention over the last week or so but something bad happened.
My hard drive died.

This is a pretty good depiction of how I felt

Luckily, I was super crazy paranoid that something like this could happen so all the pictures on my computer were also on my husband's computer and our server he has set up, along with a lot of my music (Except for my 80s collection. For some reason The Husband didn't want that on his computer...luckily I can always borrow those CDs from my own Momma). I also had The Book saved on several different flash drives, so I didn't have an emotional breakdown over losing something I had worked on the past two  years.
I didn't back up everything.
All the stories I wrote in college are gone. All the beginnings or random ideas I had thought to one day get around to have vanished. The horribly-terrible-but-taught-me-a-lot-about-writing first book I ever wrote? Bye bye. And my freaking resume that I agonized over to get perfect poofed too. I still have one version in my gmail somewhere, but still. I will have to fine tune it again and who wants to do that?  
I have had a large case of the sads due to those all disappearing.
So my random ramble to you for today is even if you think it is a little thing that you will never look at again, back it up. Trust me. You will save yourself from being stuck in a glass cage of emotion!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cheer Up, Buttercup!

Last week was kind of a rough one for me for various reasons. Since y'all know by now I love making lists, I decided to create a Five Things That Cheer Me Up to remind myself that lolz are usually the best medicine. (Warning, there is some language ahead!)

1. Grumpy Cats:

Seeing them be so super grumpy helps get my own grumps under control

2. Animals that have Excellent Self-Esteem


3. Damn You Autocorrect

4.  Silly videos

Dramatic Reading of "I'm Sexy and I know it":

Girl...LOOK at that body...lololol

Thunderstruck/Ghostbusters Crossover:

Who you gonna call? AC/DC!

The song that is currently on repeat in my head these days:

I just met you...and this is CRAAAZY but here's my number! Call me Maybe!?!

And Burrito's Favorite:

We have the whole song memorized. Sad, but true. And look at the baby monkeeeey!

 5. Last But Not Least: Morgan Freeman Inappropriate Picture

I laugh hysterically EVERY TIME

Hopefully that brought out the laughter for anyone needing it! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lazy Saturday

Yesterday we spent the morning outside in our backyard and then went to the zoo before it got too hot. We've only recently gotten to do things like this (I used to work every weekend) and now that we have the chance to hang out together as a fam on weekends it's been a lot of fun. We got a family zoo pass so we pretty much just pop up there when it's nice out and we get sick of our backyard.

Although Belle and Burrito do love the backyard

The kiddo loves monkeys, so it was pretty easy convincing her to get off the slide and go to the zoo. There's an older chimpanzee named Suzie that's usually sitting by the window so we stop by there first and say hi.

We also stalk the peacocks. Burrito thinks they're yelling "help!" when the squawk, so if you happen to hear her yelling help she's actually trying to imitate a peacock.

We ended our zoo trip at the little park, which I knew probably wasn't a good idea but we let her play anyway. After half an hour she was hot and tiring so we plucked her up to take her home. It didn't go over too well, but I had been expecting that. The good news was she stopped crying rather quickly. The bad news is, she a few minutes later she lost it again in front of a group of people coming into the zoo, so their first exhibit of the day was an angry two-year-old demanding to have her sunglasses.
Luckily, they laughed and by the time we got to the car everyone was all smiles. 

Okay, this is earlier in the day. 
But when we left the zoo we were all hot and sweaty and in no mood for pictures!