Friday, April 30, 2010
Release Date: 10/09
This book had it all. Pithy conversation, a wee bit of smut, and vampires, werewolves and steampunk, oh my!
Up until a few months ago I had no idea steampunk existed. My husband was looking through avatar options on Xbox Live and there happened to be a steampunk one. He told me about it, I was immediately interested. What's not to like?
But getting back to the subject at hand, I have to say that I loved this book from the first sentence. Victorian England has to be my favorite settings. While I have to admit I am not a huge fan of either vampires or werewolves, the world Ms. Carriger has set up for them is unlike any I have ever known. The supernatural are part of London society, and unlike most novels I've read, are not forced to slink in the shadows. Of course werewolves and vampires often don't have much patience for each other here either, but that is to be expected.
Ms. Alexia Tarabotti has to be one of the most endearing protagonists ever. This could be that like Ms. Tarabotti I am of partial Italian descent, and also like her, I do not take guff from anyone who tries to stir mischief with me. Ms. Tarabotti has dealings with a rather improper alpha werewolf, Lord Maccon. He is described as loud, messy, and gorgeous. I have to admit I found his Lordship quite intriguing. There is quite a bit of delicious tension between these two in the earlier parts of the books that are quite fun to read.
I like my reviews to be spoiler-free, so I won't say too much more about their relationship, other than to say I enjoyed it immensely. Ms. Tarabotti finds herself embroiled in a bit of mischief when she kills a vampire in self-defense. Seeing as Ms. Tarabotti is preternatural, you can imagine the trouble she gets herself into. The novel starts with this action and keeps going from there. We meet Ms. Tarabotti's flaky relations, several members of the supernatural set including her dearest dandy vampire friend Lord Akeldama, and her sweet, but horribly unstylish best friend Ivy.
I devoured this book. I couldn't put it down, and was sad to see it end. Although, not so sad, as soon as I put it down, I picked up the second book in the series, Changeless. I suspect I will be sad when I finish it, as I have to wait until September for the third book in the series.
I give this delightful novel 5/5. You do not have to be a fan of steampunk, vampires or werewolves to enjoy this novel. As long as you have a firm sense of fun in place, you will enjoy it!
Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)
Thursday, April 29, 2010
For my current story, the first third of the story takes place in a fictional town in rural Virginia. While the town is fictional, I've located it about twenty-five minutes south of where I currently live in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I moved here because my husband grew up in this area, and I really enjoy living here. If you love old buildings, antiques and Civil War battlegrounds, Fredericksburg is for you.
Since I commute (for the next two weeks at least) from our home in Fredericksburg to Washington, DC, a large part of the action takes place outside of the city. One of the most pivotal points in the story takes place at the Franconia-Springfield metro station.
The station is the final stop on the blue line, and it is a major hub of activity, as buses, cars and trains all converge here. My commuter train stops at this metro stop every day, and one day we were sitting there waiting on some kind of delay to clear up, and the idea for the piviotal part of the story came to me. Without getting to much into detail, my characters find themselves on a journey from rural Virginia to Washington, DC. I thought the Franconia-Springfield station would be an apt place for the action to switch into high gear, because for me at least, it's where the city begins. You can reach downtown DC by metro in about forty minutes from this station, so I thought it would be a more interesting place to set the action versus a more predictable choice of downtown DC.
I have set stories all over the world, it just happens that these last two novels have taken place locally. When you're writing, is location a key factor? Is your location as important as character or plot, or merely a back-drop to the action?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Today's haul included:
Beastly by Alex Finn
After Life by Jaron Lee Knuth
Changeless by Gail Carriger
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
My to read pile has expanded from one shelf on my book shelf to two!
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Basically, I'm debating if I want to change the motivation for one of the characters. He is the love interest, and let's just say he is one of my favorite fictional creations. So, part of me feels bad for betraying him, but I'm not really. He is still a good person at heart, I'm just going to reveal that he's not exactly who he said he was. I guess it would make the story more of a complicated love story than it has been so far. This is good to read about, right?
Still, I tried to fall back asleep for an hour, but it just wasn't happening. I had to get up and ponder further if I wanted to put this character diversion in motion. I've decided to give it a go. I figure if it doesn't work out, well, then that's what revisions are for.
Have you ever had an idea come to you that changes the course of your WIP? Did you incorporate it into your story, or did you let it pass?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Where I am in the writing process:
Re-reading past chapters so I can get back into the world of my WIP. It's amazing how a few weeks away can make you forget some pretty basic details!
My current problems: Getting back into writing. I just need to sit down and start writing, but I'm finding ways to avoid it. I'll put other things that need to be done in front of writing. It doesn't help that all the painting I've been doing has been making it hard to sit down and type for awhile, my wrist is aching a bit. I hope I'm not getting carpal tunnel!
My question this week: What do you give up in order to write?
I guess in my case, not too much. I write in my free time, and since I will soon be a housewife, I will have a lot of it. I guess all writers give up social interaction with our significant others and family in order to write, as it is a pretty lonely occupation.
Friday, April 23, 2010
On My Wishlist is a weekly feature ran by the great book blog Book Chick City. To learn more about this meme, get the details here.
Looking for Alaska-John Green
Sixteen-year-old Miles Halter's adolescence has been one long nonevent - no challenge, no girls, no mischief, and no real friends. Seeking what Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps," he leaves Florida for a boarding school in Birmingham, AL. His roommate, Chip, is a dirt-poor genius scholarship student with a Napoleon complex who lives to one-up the school's rich preppies. Chip's best friend is Alaska Young, with whom Miles and every other male in her orbit falls instantly in love. She is literate, articulate, and beautiful, and she exhibits a reckless combination of adventurous and self-destructive behavior. She and Chip teach Miles to drink, smoke, and plot elaborate pranks. Alaska's story unfolds in all-night bull sessions, and the depth of her unhappiness becomes obvious. Green's dialogue is crisp, especially between Miles and Chip. His descriptions and Miles's inner monologues can be philosophically dense, but are well within the comprehension of sensitive teen readers.
I have to admit that I was first intrigued by this book because of the cover. It's beautiful! This book is a bit different than what I've been reading lately (almost non-stop fantasy and sci-fi) but I think it's always good to change it up a bit.
The Underland Chronicles-Suzanne Collins
When 11-year-old Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of his New York City apartment building, he hurtles into a dark Underland beneath the city. There, humans live uneasily beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches, and rats—but the fragile peace is about to fall apart.
I'm not a huge reader of books for younger readers or middle grade books (well, except for The Mysterious Benedict Society), but this series sounds intriguing. As a child, I used to imagine that there was a door in my closet that lead to somewhere interesting, so I was hooked by the first sentence in the description of this series. It's also by Suzanne Collins, so what's not to like?
White Cat (Curse Workers Book 1)- Holly Black
Cassel comes from a family of curse workers -- people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail -- he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.I've only read part of one of Holly Black's books-Tithe. I couldn't finish it, but this is not because Holly Black is not an excellent storyteller, but Tithe was the book that made me realize I hate fairies and have no interest in reading tales involving them. I figured if Holly Black's excellent storytelling couldn't make me like them-no one could. To get back on point, I love the premise of this book. I even love the title of the series, The Curse Workers. Doesn't it just roll off your tongue? I plan on using some of my birthday money to purchase this when it comes out in a couple weeks!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Publication Date: 2/10 (Paperback)
I have to admit that I had really high expectations for this book. I've been reading Carrie Ryan's blog for a few months before I read this book, and from what I see of her, I really like her. She's funny, and I love zombie talk. She's one of the few that seems to love the remake of Dawn of the Dead just as much as the original.
But I digress. This review isn't about liking Carrie Ryan as a person, but liking her novel. I have to admit that I had a similar experience to when I started The Hunger Games-I wasn't sure that this was a world I wanted to visit. It's pretty bleak, Mary lives in a village in the middle of the Forest, with tons of Unconsecrated (read: zombies) just aching to get in and go all chomp chomp on her and everyone she loves.
Mary is not an easy character to like. By the middle of the book I was getting a bit exhausted by her endless whinging. Then I would try to remember that if I was a teenage girl living in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, I may find myself fancying the more depressing side of life. Her life does seem to be one endless disappointment or despair after another, so I tried to remember that when I found her a bit selfish or undeserving of the love of a pair of brothers. Thing is? Mary realizes she's a bit of a whining pain in the ass, and that is her saving grace. Well, that and she's not going to let anyone get in her way of finding the ocean, even if that means leaving the people she cares about behind.
There are a lot of really great horror elements in this novel that I absolutely adored. Well, if you can adore being scared crapless. I've always had a soft spot for zombies and you can't help but root for one of them in this book. I appreciate that Mary sees the zombies as the people they once were.
I felt The Forest of Hands and Teeth was very well written and I'll be reading the companion book, The Dead-Tossed Waves, one or two books down the road from now.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Yay! I'm nearing the end of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, so do I head right into The Dead-Tossed Waves, or start Soulless, which I've been dying to read for months now? Oh, happy decisions! I haven't even finished reading all the books I got for Christmas yet. I love having a huge to be read pile. I think I get this from my mother. Her to be read pile isn't so much as a shelf, but a good portion of my childhood bedroom. One day, when I have a big enough house, I will do the same.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Instead of finding a new job right away, my husband and I have decided I will be a stay at home wife, or "home manager". I like the ring to that. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't slightly terrified on living on one salary, but my salary was cut in half when I worked part-time, and we're doing okay. We live beneath our means, so this works out for us-or at least we hope it will!
The best part of all of this is that I will no longer be able to say "I have no time to write!" I am the "keep busy to keep sane" type, so I'm planning on scheduling a block of writing into my days. I'm hoping for at least an hour on busier days, and and on lazier days, up to four or five hours. I do see this for what it is, a gift. I'm so blessed to have a husband who not only supports my writing, but also supports my leaving a job that makes me miserable. If I am ever to write a novel for publication, it looks like this will be the time for it. I expect the sound of small footsteps of the human variety within the next year or two, so I may never get a chance like this again, so I don't want to squander it. I plan on finishing my current WIP and moving onto the second book in the series straight away!
Change is exciting and terrifying, but hopefully productive!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Where I am in the writing process: Same place I've been for the past few weeks. I haven't written since the whole moving process began.
My current problems: Getting back into writing mode. Life has been so hectic the last week that I've barely had time to breathe, let alone write. There are still a lot of little things that need to get done in the house, so I need to make time for writing in the midst of finding a place for everything.
My question this week: Character descriptions. How do you describe a characters appearance?
I tend not to write a lot of overt character description, at least not in first drafts. It bugs me in books when a character says "My long blond hair" or "my sparkling blue eyes", because seriously? We all know what we look like. It just reads a little fake for me. I don't stand in front of the mirror thinking to myself "Wow, my hair looks brown today!" I almost always write in first person, so it's easy for my MC to describe others, but it's hard for me to write self description. I often use it in conversation, someone mentioning something descriptive about the MC. "Wow, that shirt makes your eyes look blue," or something like that. Not always, but I also don't focus a lot on character description anyway. As a reader, I form my own vision of a character, based either on the cover art or basic description by the author. It's not important for me to know exactly what a character looks like. I use my imagination, and expect that if I'm ever published, a lot of the readers will too.
Onto the Hop, a bit late this week....
It's time for another Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy-for-Books.com. If you're stopping by for the first time, welcome! I hope you take a look around and please leave your link so I can check out your blog too!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Publication Date: 9/09
Having devoured The Hunger Games, I started reading Catching Fire straight away. It would be nice to think that since surviving the Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta could have a nice life and never want for anything ever again. Well, of course that's not the case!
I loved this book even more than The Hunger Games, and I didn't think that was possible! When I read The Hunger Games, I obviously knew that at least Katniss survived because there was a second book in the series already out, and a third in the works. I was completely unspoiled for this book, and it had two twists that threw me for one heck of a loop.
Without giving away too much (although I think I'm the last book blogger on earth to review this book) Katniss' actions in her time in the arena have caused a ripple of dissent throughout the districts of Panem. Her actions were the spark that lit a fire that soon took over the world. I, for one, hoped to see a bit more anti-Capitol action in this book, but I guess we'll have to wait for book three for that. The ending left me salivating for more, I can't believe we have to wait until August for Mockingjay! :groan:
I absolutely loved Catching Fire have told all my friends about it, and can't wait until my husband starts reading it so I can discuss it with him!
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sure, I can't help but daydream that my novel would be turned into a television show or a movie and I could get the actors in my inspiration photos to star in it. That said, for me that's not really the principle behind the exercise. I think it's fun to look through photos to get a better idea of what my character would look like if they were a real person and not a figment of my imagination. It took me about four hours to fill out my character list, but once I did, I felt such a surge of inspiration that I sat down and wrote for a good two hours. I'll be sharing my character inspiration boards once things settle down for me a bit, but this brings me to my question:
As you're writing, do you have a clear vision of your characters in your head? If not, do you create character lists for your novels?
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Where I am in the writing process: Same place as last week. Just a hare over the 50,000k mark. I have had zero time to write this week. I've had a wee bit of time to map out story lines in my head and work a bit on revisions.
My current problems: I hate to give the same canned answer again, but it's true. My main problem is having no time to write. I wish I could be the type of writer that can sit in front of the computer for five minutes here and there and turn out a few sentences, but I'm just not. I hope after next week (painting done! Moved in!) I'll be able to resume my normal writing schedule.
My question this week: When do you drop a story line, give up and move on to something new?
I've dropped story lines when they no longer hold interest to me, or they're no longer a right fit. If I'm having a hard time with a certain story line, I'll usually move on to something else and stop weaving that thread through the story. Sometimes I'll go back to it after I've had a bit of time away from it, but not usually. I am a "write by the seat of my pants" kind of writer, so I come across the problem on a somewhat regular basis. An idea will seem good to me at the time, but as I progress, the less ideal it seems. I'll usually just make a note to go back and edit all those bits out. I know this answer will make more organized writers balk-I've just never been the outlining type. I'd rather just write as the inspiration comes and go back and piece things together once I know exactly where things need to be.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
On My Wishlist is a weekly feature ran by the great book blog Book Chick City. To learn more about this meme, get the details here.
I don't have a lot of time to blog this week, so this update will have to be quick, and I'll be stealing plot descriptions from Amazon. I usually like to summarize info I've found from a couple different sources, but I'm knee-deep in home repair this week!
Happy Hour of the Damned-Mark Henry
Alive, ad exec Amanda Feral worked hard to wring enjoyment out of her days. Now that she's a zombie, it's a different story. Turns out, Seattle is home to glamorous undead of every description, and Amanda - stylish and impeccably groomed even in the afterlife - is swigging cocktails and living large (so to speak) among its elite. But there are downsides. Not being able to stomach anything except alcohol and human flesh, for instance. And the fact that someone is targeting Seattle's otherworldly inhabitants for their own sinister reasons. Preying on the undead is seriously uncool. The only option is for Amanda and her zombie BFF Wendy and gorgeous gay vampire pal Gil to unearth the culprit among the legions of Seattle's bloodsuckers, shapeshifters, reapers, succubi, and demons - before they all meet a fate a lot worse than death...
Life As We Knew It-Susan Beth Pfeffer
It's almost the end of Miranda's sophomore year in high school, and her journal reflects the busy life of a typical teenager: conversations with friends, fights with mom, and fervent hopes for a driver's license. When Miranda first begins hearing the reports of a meteor on a collision course with the moon, it hardly seems worth a mention in her diary. But after the meteor hits, pushing the moon off its axis and causing worldwide earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes, all the things Miranda used to take for granted begin to disappear. Food and gas shortages, along with extreme weather changes, come to her small Pennsylvania town; and Miranda's voice is by turns petulant, angry, and finally resigned, as her family is forced to make tough choices while they consider their increasingly limited options. Yet even as suspicious neighbors stockpile food in anticipation of a looming winter without heat or electricity, Miranda knows that that her future is still hers to decide even if life as she knew it is over.
My So-Called Death-Stacey Jay
Meet high-school freshman and zombie cheerleader Karen Vera. When Karen falls from the top of a cheerleading pyramid, her father scoops her brains back into her cracked skull and rushes her home rather than to a hospital or morgue. (In Karen’s family, people frequently survive their death and go on to live full and happy lives as zombies.) Karen is sent to DEAD High, a special boarding school where zombie teens take courses such as Zombie Internet Technology and Secrets of Morticians: Foundation and Beyond. Meals consist of different preparations of (animal) brains, with separate lines for raw and cooked. Karen falls for Gavin, the cutest guy in school, but then suspects he is in on an evil plot to murder students and eat their (human) brains, which is emphatically taboo.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
My characters seem to be staging a revolt. I am knee deep in home repair, painting (I still have paint on my feet-don't ask how I managed that) and packing and my characters are taking over my brain, in what I can only assume is a demand for attention. I'm dreaming about the main romantic lead at least three times a week. He is probably my favorite character I've ever created, second only to my current protagonist, who is a strong female character (in more ways than one, but I'll get to that eventually). When I'm not dreaming about my characters, I'm thinking about them. Perhaps part of the problem is that I've set the story near where I work and live, so as I'm commuting back and forth, I see locations that would fit into my story.
I guess it's a good problem to have, inspiration and no time to write, versus having all the time in the world to write and no inspiration. On top of having ideas to move the story forward, I have ideas for revision, plot holes to patch up, and dialogue to move about. My goal is to have the novel finished by July, and begin revisions sometime in August. I think this is a reasonable goal, as I started the novel in January and I'm over the half-way mark now. So, I guess I'm just going to have to be patient and hope the inspiration will be there when I have longer than twenty minutes to sit in front of the computer!
So, how do you make time in your day to write?
Monday, April 5, 2010
Today I'm going to talk about:
An Editors Advice to Writers: The Forest for the Trees by Betsy Lerner
This is another book that will teach you more about the writer you are, than about the craft. Betsy Lerner was once an editor, and now has shifted roles and is an agent, oh yeah, and she's also written a memoir. So, she's sat in a seat on all sides of the publishing table.
Lerner talks about the different types of writer, odds are you will probably see characteristics of yourself in a few of them. The Ambivalent Writer, the Neurotic, etc. Odds are, most of us aren't just one! This book is not all puppies and rainbows, to some Lerner could come off as being possibly not the most positive person when talking about writers. Being that she was an editor, and "An Editor's Advice For Writers" is right in the title, I'd be surprised if she didn't talk about some of her screwball clients or some of the interesting people she'd met along the span of her career.
This is the book to read if you're needing a push-in whatever direction. It's given me some interesting perspective from the other side of the desk, and I will pick it up again the next time I'm feeling like I need a firm poke in the back to get me back on track!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Where I am in the writing process: I crossed over into a huge milestone: I passed over the 50,000k mark! I am so proud of myself for sticking with it, even through those weeks where all I was turning out was drivel. I've also thought out a clear path how to get my characters from where they are to the conclusion of the book. The path they were on before was a bit meandering, and I wasn't sure how to get them there, but I'm sure now!
My current problems: Finding time to write. This answer will stay the same for probably the month of April. We closed on a house this past Wednesday, and now I have a to-do list as long as my arm. So, I'm setting a low goal for word count this month. Sometimes real life has to take the front seat and writing the back seat. I know I will return to it once life settles down a bit.
My question this week: How do you know when you're good enough?
It depends on the person. Most writers, no matter how famous, have that moment (some of us several times a day/week/month, etc.), where we're sitting in front of the computer and either nothing comes, or what comes is crap, and we know it's crap as our fingers are moving across the keyboard.
See more Lolcats and funny pictures
I guess my answer is to try and write through your insecurities. I have not always been successful with this. My never finished list is even longer than my new home to-do list. There is no failure in putting aside a story that isn't working. Sometimes things just don't work, and it happens. But if that's not an option, just keep writing. There are at least five chapters in my novel that are total and utter crap. I feel guilty even printing them out to proof them they're so bad. I know they're crap, I knew they were crap when I was writing them, but I kept writing, because I knew the good stuff would come eventually. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to write reams of crap to get back to the good stuff. I did that, and wrote a chapter that is among some of the best stuff I've ever written, in my humble little opinion, anyway.
So, no, I may never feel I'm good enough, no matter what successes I may acquire (or not). You may not either. Some writers reach the point where they feel "I've done it, I'm good enough." I doubt I'll ever be among their ranks-and that's okay with me. The goal is to keep away the self-sabotaging voices that tell us we're crap writers and should just give up all together.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
As You Wish-Jackson Pearce
I'm a big fan of Jackson's blog, which is informative and often amusing. I figured since I've been reading her blog for months, it was probably time to read her first novel, As You Wish.
Viola is feeling alone and neglected after her boyfriend comes out to her. She accidentally summons Jinn, she is granted three wishes. After she wishes herself into the arms of a popular boy, she finds herself conflicted between him and Jinn. It sounds like a fun fantasy romance novel.
Breathers: A Zombie's Lament- S.G Browne
I've mentioned it before, but I'm a huge fan of zombies, and while I wouldn't consider the novel I'm writing to be a zombie novel, zombie-like creatures are background characters.
Any reanimates after the car crash that kills his wife. He spends most of his time in his parent's basement, occasionally attending zombie support groups. He struggles to fit into a society that offers zombies no rights. When Andy and his fellow zombies learn why they are so driven to consume human flesh, things take a tragic and hilarious turn.
Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest-Jennifer Crusie (Editor)
Gilmore Girls has to be my second favorite television show of all time, right after Doctor Who. What's not to love? The quirky characters of Stars Hollow, the love stories, the pithy dialogue, oh Gilmore Girls, how I miss you!
This book is a collection of essays about the show, and judging by the Amazon review, not all of them are that stellar. But I figured I could buy the book used and keep it along with my DVD collection of the show.