Monday, December 30, 2013

My Thoughts on Allegiant

So there's been a bunch of opinions over the ending to Allegiant.  I was waiting and waiting to get it from the library (I was like 150th on the list or something) and finally got it and read it over Christmas.  These are my thoughts.  [Also, SPOILERS if that wasn't implied, so if you haven't read the ending, don't keep going!]

I remember reading something from Veronica Roth saying she wanted to write a book that didn't happen "by chance", giving the example that there was no car crash to start it or something happenstance like that. I think when reading the ending of Allegiant, this idea really comes through. Divergent started based on Tris's choices, Dauntless over Abegnation, and everything came from that.  It's her choices that propel the story, not an accident, and because of that it's more like real-life (as real-life as you can get in a dystopia).

This is partly why I Tris is killed.  If this was a "real-life" situation, she would probably die.  She's the pinnacle of the story, the Nicholas Brody (another story where I was sad the main character died).  Tris is involved in everything, being shot at left and right, and there's only so many times a person can dodge a bullet.  I can see why people were upset, I was upset too.  And I can totally understand the argument that this isn't a "real-life" situation.  So I can see both sides of the argument, but also, she's the author, so she gets to decide what happens, and I totes respect that.

Overall, I thought this was a great conclusion to the trilogy and that it really stepped up its game.  There were so many themes in this novel that I love love loved and gave me so many things to think about.  It was emotional (in good and not so go ways) and I thought she really grew as an author.  (Not that I'm one to judge, because I could never write like that, but I read an article that stated how much she thought she grew and I totally agree with her.)

One side note, Roth talks about how each faction transfer created a certain type of person, which I thought was really well thought out.  The Erudite transfer from Dauntless were cruel, the one's from Candor were jovial, etc, and I thought those really rang true.  It just shows how much thought she put into this book.

I cannot wait til March 21st!

Monday, December 16, 2013

What Myers-Briggs taught me

I'm not a particularly emotional person; I've been called stoic at times.  I'm also a scientist (well, soon-to-be science teacher).  Yet my favorite books are the ones with emotion dripping out of them. (Ahem, TFiOS and City Of Bones). If the book can make me feel something, it's a keeper and I'm going to recommend it to all of my friends.  I can overlook meandering plot, not-great writing, what-have-you, as long as it has emotion.

But the one note I keep getting for my MS is that there needs to be more emotion and motivation from the MC.  So with emotion being so important to me, why is it so hard for me to write emotion?

I'm an INTJ (yep, I'm Malfoy).  It's that third component, I think, that makes it so hard for me to write emotion.  Naturally, I think using logic, not feelings, and that transfers to my write.  It's quite frustrating actually.  After a critique, one of my fabulous CPs deleted a line from a particularly emotional scene (one of very few in the book) saying something of the sorts that it was too analytical for that level of emotion in the scene.  I think it was that comment that gave me an epiphany.

Not everything has to stem from logic.

It was that one off-handed comment that made me self-aware to who I am and how I write.  And for this book, that emotion has to be there.  It just kinda opened up my eyes and made me realize how I can fix the emotional parts that aren't working.

Now if I could only fix the plot structure...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Reflections on the year

Yes, I realize the year isn't over, but my school year (semester) is.  This semester I've really let this blog go, mostly because I've been student teaching, doing all the work that goes along with that, getting my portfolio ready, and working a part-time job in the evenings and weekends.  I've barely had time to breathe.

But Wednesday was my last day in school and Sunday my portfolio was due.  Seeing all the students so sad that I was leaving reminded me why I wanted to be a teacher, and why I write YA. There is passion in everything that teenagers do.  They have all the feels all the time.

Going into student teaching, I wasn't sure if teaching was actually for me.  I love teaching, but there's so much other than teaching that goes into being a teacher.  And I have other passions, writing being one of them.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do both (and frankly I'm still not sure).  But seeing those students genuinely upset for me leaving renewed my passion for teaching and made me realize all the lives I'd be influencing.

I still have one more class to get my Master's, but I'm certified, meaning the job search can officially start.  It's a bit scary to think I'll have my own classroom and if this is actually for me, but I'm excited to see where this part of my journey leads me.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review: Ender's Game

Yeah, yeah, I know; I'm like two weeks late.  But that's just a testament to how busy I've been.

Ender's Game has been my favorite book since I read it in high school. That being said, I don't think I've read it since high school.  So it's been a few years.  I kept telling myself I was going to re-read it before the movie came out, but that didn't happen.  Then I said I was going to read the graphic novel, and well, that didn't happen either.  So I went into the movie having not read the book in a number of years.  I remembered the big plot points, but the details?  Nope, not really.

But I really enjoyed it.  I think I was the only one out of the four of us who went who could say they really liked it.  The pacing was too quick and the acting left something to be desired.  (And no one says people's names that many times in a conversation; it felt like they just kept addressing the secondary characters so that we knew what they were called).  But overall I thought they did a good job.

Right from the beginning we see into Ender's head, how he has this violent side that he hates and feels remorse for afterwards, but knows in order to live up to his purpose in life (because he's a "third"), he has to use it.  The struggle between these two sides of him is apparent, and it makes us intrigued and root from him.

And really, that's what the book is about.  Ender says at the end, "it's not that you won, but how you won" or something along those lines.  So I feel like they really got the essence of the themes, this struggle between choices, and how you have to think for yourself, because someone telling you to do something might not actually be the right thing to do.

I think the fact that I hadn't read it in so long also worked to my advantage because I wasn't caught up in the details they'd changed.  I wish they had slowed down all the zero gravity combats because I think that shows us just how fatigued Ender was and that he was at his breaking point, which we don't really get. It also seems like all of a sudden he's a commander without having done much work; it's like they already know he's the prodigy where as in the book he has to work harder for it.  (Same thing with the mind video game; it's pacing is too fast).  But if they were to slow everything down the movie would've been 5 hours long, so I understand why they didn't do it.

I also have to say I was really impressed with Bonzo.  I'd seen that actor in a few Disney Channel sitcoms where he always plays the goofy side-kick telling the lame jokes.  So to see him in this type of role was a complete 180 and I thought he pulled it off really well.

So overall, I really liked it.  What did you think?  Have you seen it yet?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

If I had written the last episode of Dexter...

So I finally watched the Dexter SERIES finale!  I can't believe it's over.  Overall I thought Dexter was a really great show (with a few odd seasons in there) and how they upped the stakes every season when I thought they couldn't top the previous one.  But I did have a few reservations about the ending.

You should probably stop here if you haven't watched it yet.  Since this is about how I would write it, the ending will be spoiled if you haven't watched it.

Carry on...

While I liked the changes that Dexter went through over many so many series, becoming more and more humanized, he kind-of reverted back to what he was at the end.  I can understand how he feels like he's a monster because what happened to Deb was his fault, but I think they needed to take it further. I think Deb dying was okay (not necessary, but I understand they needed something to trigger Dexter's regression and his pain), but I really think Dexter should have died.  He did, in fact, kill many many people.  I don't think him committing suicide would do him justice, because then he still dies of his own hand and has control.  I think that police should've killed him and maybe by accident.

This would mean that the "good" side actually wins, and Dexter pays for everything that he's done, but not in a malicious way, just by accident.  I think it would balance everything out.  I don't think they need to find out what Dexter is, but it would've been so much better than him faking his own death, leaving his son with Hannah and him living as a tree-cutter or whatever.  Yes, I understand he's miserable, so maybe he does "get what's coming to him" but the point of this show was to push the boundaries.

I don't know.  To me, it just seemed lack luster, and with a show like Dexter, I'd rather it go out with a bang.

What did you think of the ending?  How would you have changed it if you were the writer?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

#WiPMarathon Check-in 3

Last word count: 26.5k
Current word count: 30k

WiP issues this week:  This week it seemed like every word was a struggle.  I have an outline but I'm still not sure if it's "enough".  But, this is pretty much it.  I'm almost finished "draft zero".  But Steph, it's only 30k.  Yes, yes, I realize that.  My goal before I query this is 50k and I always add about 15k in revisions.  That just how my mind works.  I get the bare-bones of the story on the page, then revise to add in everything I've missed.  So for now, I think I'm going to do one read-through to add in some brief things that I've missed then let it sit for a while so that I can see everything I'm missing.  I already know of a few more scenes I want to add, just not where in the story, so those might get written separately, or I'll wait until I go back for revisions.

What I learned:  How to push through.  My mind wasn't cooperating this week, but I made sure write a little bit every day even if it was only 500 words.

What distracted me:  My own want to be finished draft zero.  I would stare at the page and just think about how much I wanted to be done, lol.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Three things I learned from rappers (and how it applies to writing)

I was discussing rap with one of my friends who is really into music.  She loves rap, so she was telling me her favorites and why.  I don't really know rap very well (except for Watch The Throne, which is awesome).  But she was telling me her theory about what makes a good rapper.  It comes down to three things: flow, meaning, and beats.

Basically, most rappers have two out of the three (except for Kanye who has all three, which is why he is the best, in her opinion).  So I started thinking about this.  Macklemore has beats and meaning, but he gets tripped up on flow sometimes.  The duo Karmin have beats and flow but not meaning, and I can definitely tell in their music that that is what's lacking (though I still really enjoy it).  It can apply to musicians too, but is changed slightly to: beats, emotion (meaning) and lyrics (flow).  Demi Lovato has beats and emotion, but her lyrics aren't the best.

So how does this apply to writing?  Well, I think you need all three things in order to have a good novel.

Emotion to me is having good characters that you can root for and invest in. You have to feel something for them.  It's not just having quirks or interesting traits because while those are cool, to really be invested and care, there needs to be emotion.

Lyrics are two fold.  To me they include the writing and the voice.  Both are necessary to produce a good novel.

Beats is a little more abstract.  In a song, what do beats do?  They're the background of the song, but also the backbone that pushes the song forward. So in this analogy, beats, to me, would be setting and plot. Setting in the sense that it's all encompassing and plot in the sense that it's the backbone of the story and moves it forward.

So for me, those are the things that are most important in a story.

What about you?  What do you consider most important?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

WIPMarathon Check-in #2

Last word count: 22k
Current word count: 26.5k + outlining

WiP issues this week:  I was still sorting out issues from last week, wondering if I'm going in the right direction.  By the end of the week, I finally decided to just WRITE and figure it out in revisions.  Sometimes it's just so much easier to see the whole work, when it's, you know, whole.

What I learned:  The point of first drafts is to just get it on the page.  It's going to be messy but it's fine.  I didn't really learn this this week, but it was something I had to remind myself of.  Sometimes you just continue writing and figure the other things out later :)

What distracted me:  Definitely WriteOnCon!  I was busy critiquing other queries and tweaking my own.  (Thanks to everyone who made suggestions!)  So now I really have to focus up and on this WiP instead of having my head-space in two places with two WiPs.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

WIPMarathon Check-in #1

Last word count: 18k
Current word count: 22k (plus brain-storming)

WiP Issues this week:
I had a lot.  I almost wrote a post on this, so maybe I should just describe it here.  Writing has been particularly hard for me because I just finished second draft revisions of a different WiP and I'm getting back to one that I haven't worked on for months.  I re-read what I had (~18k) and read through my outline and finally started drafting.

And then I began to doubt everything about the WiP.

I couldn't wrap my head around it.  This WiP is different from anything else I've ever done.  It's NA, contemporary, and character-driven.  And it's about loss.  It's sad.  And as I'm writing it, I don't know if I'm going in the right direction.  I'm second guessing everything.  I even thought about changing it to magical realism.  (I decided against it because I thought it would lose some of it's meaning, and that's the main purpose of this WiP).  I switched to reading contemp books, but I'm still just not inspired.

I don't think I'm in the right head-space for this WiP.  When I started writing this months back, it was cold and gloomy, dark.  It was winter and I was completely feeling the WiP, that this story had to be told.  And now I'm not so sure.  I'm not sure if it's because it's summer, or if I've fallen out of love with the story, but I'm considering putting it away and working on something else.  This is unusual for me; I'm not the type to leave things half-finished.

So maybe I just need to re-outline, maybe I need find that feeling, that head-space again.  Maybe it's just not its time to be written.  Maybe I need to wait until winter.  Or maybe this needs a complete rewrite.  So I'm unsure whether to push through, re-outline, or start something new (and wait for the winter).  Gah.  So that's where I stand right now...

What I learned:
I've been trying out WriteOrDie, and omg, it's been awesome.  Basically it forces you to write without stopping (otherwise an unpleasant sound goes off) for a set amount of time that you choose.  I used it a few times and it has upped my word count in such a short amount of time.  They might not be the best words, but they are on the page, which means they can be revised!  If you only have a short amount of time to write (say on a lunch break), I'd definitely recommend it.

What distracted me this week:
I posted my query for my YA SF (my previous WiP) on WriteOnCon's forum, so I've been critiquing other queries and trying to fix mine at the same time.  (It's here if you want to check it out!)  So that also distracted me from this new WiP.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

#wipMarathon Intro

So I finally finished the second round of revisions on my YA SF, so while that is out with CPs, I'm getting back to my NA wip.

MARATHON GOAL:
Ideally I'd like to finish the draft.  Right now it's at 18.5k and I think it will be about 50k, so 31.5k in all.  So about 1k a day.

STAGE OF WRITING:
This is the first draft, so I'm just trying to get words on the page as fast as possible!  I've heard a lot of good things about Write Or Die, so I'm thinking about trying that.

INSPIRATION:
Life, pretty much.  This wip is different than anything I've ever written because it's contemporary and it's NA.  It deals with life after college, loss of a parent, and how to move on when life has just started.  I've titled it WHAT BECOMES OF US.

WHAT MIGHT SLOW ME DOWN:
Work, doing revisions on my YA SF.  I've never been able to juggle two books at once, but I'm going to try if I have to, but I'd like to get WBoU done before I dive into revisions again.  We'll just have to wait and see!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Inbetweeners - Pushing Boundaries With Words

A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet calling for interest in pushing limits and crossing genres.  My WiP is a blended genre, so I was intrigued.  I emailed Jessi and she said she wanted a space for aspiring authors to talk about things that aren't really discussed, such as diversity, genre blending, or pushing one's limits.  I thought this was a great idea, one that I really connected with, and with the help of some other bloggers, The Inbetweeners was born!

Our first post is up, a review of CODA by Emma Trevayne with a focus on genre-blending.  So go check it out if you're interested!  Plus, I got to write it :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Books I've Read Recently Part 2

The second installment of "Books I've Read Recently"! Because I've read so many books and haven't discussed them.

Oh, Pivot Point.  From the description I wasn't very interested in reading it, but I heard good things about it on twitter that I finally got it out of the library.  And I am so glad I did!  It was so fast paced from the get-go hooking me almost instantly.  I don't remember the last time a book has hooked me so quickly (mostly because I have a short attention span, so this is saying something!).  I loved the dual story lines and could really imagine the main character in both worlds.  I was sad how it ended, because of the situation that happened, but it had to end that way.  And it made me really excited for when the sequel comes out!

Cassandra Clare has been one of my favorite authors for a while, so I was very excited when Clockwork Princess was reserved for me at the library.  But for some reason I just couldn't get into it.  I lost interest about halfway through, (I think I kind-of forgot what had happened in the previous books and all the little details that are referenced) but I made myself finish because I wanted to finish the trilogy.  There are so many characters with their own subplots that it's just a lot to take in.  I also have a short attention span, so it could have been that too.  And I thought the ending was too perfectly wrapped up.  I definitely prefer the second book in the series.  A lot of people have liked this book though, so this shouldn't sway you from reading it!

After hearing so much about it on twitter, I decided I had to read Eleanor & Park.  It had a half-asian boy (my favorite!) and had a bunch of music reference that I loved (I definitely started listening to The Smiths again because of it).  Amanda and I decided to #bookclub it on twitter and there was no stopping me from there.  This book also had all the feels.  Eleanor's situation was heart-breaking, but probably not too uncommon, unfortunately.  I appreciated her story.  I loved Park (and his eyeliner!!) and actually felt like I could relate to him.  There were a few things he said that rang true to me, like how dating an asian girl is exotic for a white guy, but not for a white girl dating an asian guy.  All in all, I loved this book and everyone should definitely check it out.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Books I've Read Recently Part 1

Haven't done a "Books I've Read Recently" post in a whiiiiile so I'm thinking about breaking this up into two parts since I have been reading, really!

I was looking forward to reading The Archived by Victoria Schwab simply because of its premise.  The dead are called Histories and are kept in a mysterious realm called The Archive.  Plus the action of being a keeper and wrangling Histories?  Sold.  The book did not disappoint!  It took me a little bit to get into it, but after the first few chapters I could not put this book down.  Plus the heartbreak for Mac and her little brother was so heart-felt, I could relate.

I decided to read The Sky is Everywhere after hearing so much about it on twitter.  AND I'M SO GLAD I DID!  This book is sad.  Like way sad.  It has all the feels.  But I could relate so much to the situation that Lennie's in and of course I loved the music aspect of this book.  I didn't care for the handwritten notes that were scrawled between chapters (but I'm sure that was just me) and I understood why they were there.  Lennie's confusion is so real that you can't help liking her and feeling for her situation.

I wanted to read the third Heist Society book Perfect Scoundrels because my new WiP has a heist in it.  So it was kind of for research, but I really liked the feel of this addition to the series.  We get a lot more of Hale (all the swoons!) and his family life, and the con was the most interesting of the bunch.  It was different than the other cons in the other books and had a lot more emotion involved in it.  I think it was definitely the best of the series.

Overall, I recommend all of these books.  They are some of my faves and I think people can find something they like in all of them!

What have you read lately that you've loved?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ten Thousand Hours: Some Inspiration from Macklemore

So I've been listening to Macklemore's album a lot lately.  And not just Thrift Shop (what you know about rockin' a wolf on your noggin?)

The first song on the album, Ten Thousand Hours, has a particular lyrics that rings true.  He raps "The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great 'cause they paint a lot."

And that modifier, "a lot", is so important.  You may have heard of the 10,000 hours rule; it's the idea that it takes about 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master any skill.

I like to remind myself of this, because I'm not one of those people who grew up wanting to be a writer.  From a young age, I was told that I was good at math, good at science.  I wasn't bad at English class per say, but it didn't come as easily as math did.  I couldn't ever remember vocabulary words despite reading a lot when I was younger.  I preferred the creative writing assignments to the essays we had to write.  And after about 9th grade, we (or at least in my high school) didn't get any creative assignments (at least not in written form. We did have to perform some monologues, but I digress.)  So while English was my favorite class, it wasn't the class I was the best in, so I didn't really pursue it in college.

I know I'm not the best writer when it comes to that stuff.  I know I can't turn in a first draft of an assignment to my professors in college.  Some people's first drafts will be better than my second or third draft (not that you should compare yourself with others!  Don't do that!)

But I'm okay with that.  Because I'm not going to stop writing.  If it takes me 10,000 hours, then that's fine.  I wasn't born a writer, but I can still be a writer.

Note: Turns out Veronica Roth was inspired by the same song on her blog post yesterday.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Writing something meaningful is terrifying

So a few days ago I was scrolling through Twitter, and I came across a tweet from a fellow writer about how writing is really just blinding terror when it actually means something.

And I totally understand.

I think for me, this is why I've kind of been slogging in my current WiP.  It's something I've never done before (contemporary), but it's so so personal this time.  There's no SF world-building to distract from the themes.  There's no magical creatures to enhance the characters.  There's not explosions to increase the conflict and tension.  It's just people and their feelings and loss and pain.  It's something I can relate very closely too.  The fear means that it means something to me, that I'm doing it right.

But what if no one likes it?

What if I tell the story wrong?

What if no one likes the characters?

It's these thoughts that have kind of been crippling me, the self-doubt finagling its way into my head.  I know I just need to write and not worry about anything else excepting getting words on the page.  Then in revisions I can tweak everything until it's right.

And I have to remember, not everyone's going to like it.  That's just a fact of life.  People have opinions; that's what makes us individuals (hoorah!)  I just have to write without thinking about that, and hopefully someone out there will like it, but even if no one likes it, I like it and it's for me.  Because it means something to me.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PIPPIN: How far will you go to be extraordinary?

So yesterday I went to see PIPPIN and I can't stop thinking about it.  Like seriously.  I'm still in awe.

PIPPIN's been my favorite musical since my highschool did it when I was a freshman.  It was the first experience I've had of it, but I fell nose over tail for it almost instantly.  I was lucky enough to go to a hs that had an extraordinary music program (we had an honors choir, a cappella, even did Les Mis when I was a sophomore, complete with a barricade and revolving set.  Yes, it cost us a lot.  Yes, I bet we're still trying to pay it off now).  I was in the pit band, playing bass, and with each performance just fell in love with music more every time.

So when I heard there was going to be a revival, I couldn't believe it.  I'd been waiting for a Broadway performance of it since then (uhh, for 10 years, I guess.  Wow, I'm too young for anything to have been 10 years ago...)

ANYWHO.

Now this wasn't just your average performance of PIPPIN.  This was AMAZING.  And I've seen a lot of B'way shows, living so close to NY.  It was better than I ever thought it could be.  Like blew my brain.  This was PIPPIN meets Cirque Du Soleil.  They had acrobats climbing poles, hanging on hoops and swings, doing ridiculous flips.  They used the stage in such a great way, since now they could use it in three dimensions, instead of two.  They also changed the Leading Player role to a female which was innovative (and during the war scene her dancers were changed to dudes, which I thought was a really cool detail that some people may miss).  And the grandma was seriously incredible (you'll see what I mean if you see it; I don't want to spoil anything).  There was something for everyone in it: romance, action, dancing, acrobatics, brilliant singing.

And you can't talk about PIPPIN without discussing Pippin.  Matthew James Thomas, who was also in Spiderman: Turn off the Dark (and is British, I feel like that's necessary to mention), was cast as the lead.  And seriously guys?  He was perfection.  He was so genuine and naive in the beginning, caring towards the grandma, awkward when he had to be awkward, all around adorbs, and overall amazing.  AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON HIS VOICE.  Holy *swoons*.

And I love this musical because of the message. (Okay, I love it because of the music, but the message is big too).  Pippin just finished his education and he wants to know what he's doing with his life.  (So essentially, a New Adult book).  He tries all these different things, but just never feels fulfilled.  I just think it's a really relatable story, one that many people have felt in their lives.  What do we do to feel fulfilled?  How far will we go to be extraordinary?  Or as Pippin sings, Here I am, to seize my day, if someone would just tell me when the hell it is.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Perks of Being A Wallflower: Book vs. Movie

I recently finished reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower.  That meant I could finally watch the movie.  I was really excited about the movie because I love Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.  I was also really interested in Emma Watson's American accent (she did pretty well I thought).

But for me, my favorite part of the movie turned out to be Ezra Miller who played Patrick.  He was seriously perfect!  But I'll get back to that.

I had never read Perks before, and as a seriously shy introvert in middle school, wish that I had read it then.  I thought the voice was a little young for high school, but I got used to it as the story progressed.  In the book, I really got the sense of Charlie's, for lack of a better term, simple-minded nature.  Everything was black or white to him.  He didn't really understand the concept of lying, even for a good cause.  He liked following the rules because it meant he had a handbook for the situation.  He was pretty socially awkward.  But he noticed everything and understood what people liked.  He was a great listener.

And those things that I liked in the book, didn't really show up well in the movie.  I thought Logan Lerman did a good job as Charlie, especially in the end scenes, but it's just really hard to see someone noticing other people in movies.  It didn't translate as well to film.  At one point Patrick states outright that Charlie notices things and that he's a wallflower.  It wasn't subtle, but it got the point across for those who didn't read the book and knew the nuances of Charlie.

Patrick is the largest character in the movie and I thought Ezra Miller played him perfectly.  He was funny and not too over-the-top, but endearing and genuine.  Plus seeing "Bland" as Mary Elizabeth was cool.  I thought she did a really good job in that part, even though that's not at all how I pictured her.  One of those times where film did it better than my mind.

So I would say, def read the book first, then see the movie.  Both are good, but you'll get a lot more out of it if you read the book first.

Friday, March 22, 2013

What to write next?

Guys, first off, this is my third post this week.  Who is this person and what did they do with Steph?

Anywho, now that I've finished TDoC, it's on to the next project.  But what should I write next?  That really *is* the question.

There's been a few ideas swirling around my head for a while.  The one that's been around the longest is a music/band idea, but it's pretty generic, so I've pretty much shelved it for later.  The next one, I have this fantasy setting in my head that I want to use, but I don't have a plot or characters.  The third one is contemporary, which I've never tried before, but it's almost fully formed.  I know most of the characters, the plot, and the setting.  But it's New Adult.  And it's sad.  Like, really sad.  And so so different from what I've written in the past.

So which do I pick?  I already started plotting out the NA one, but I don't know if I want to take the time to write it all if it's not marketable.  I don't want to shoot myself in the foot before I've even started, ya know?  Maybe I should plot the fantasy one out and see which one is pulling me in.  I feel like my heart is in the NA one, mostly because I already know where it's going and who the characters are, but the fantasy setting is looking so good in my head right now (and also on my Pinterest page)...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

FIRST DRAFT OF TDoC IS FINITO

Woohoo!!  Last night I finished the first draft of MS2.  This one didn't come as easily as MS1, as the characters are very different from me and what I tend to like.  Especially the LI who is introverted and compassionate.  I tend to write LIs that are brash and cocky, the Damons instead of the Stefans.  I know this LI needs work, but I still really like him and his pink watch.

Anyways, I figured I'd do a recap posts so I can move on to something new.  (Isn't that how it always is??)

What is the title of your book?

THE DISLOYALTY OF COLORS.

I actually really like this title.  Once I sat down to brainstorm titles, it didn't actually take that long to come up with.

Where did the idea come from?

I've always been interested in synesthesia (when one sense is crossed with another so tastes have colors or smells have colors) since I learned about it in an Intro to Psych class in college.  I remember a girl saying that when her mom was making dinner, she would have to turn down her music in order to be able to smell what was cooking.  That situation kind of just blew my mind.  I also love codes and secret messages, so it just kind of spiraled from there.

What genre does your book fall into?

I'm calling it YA SF since it's set in the near future.  It's also a little bit cyberpunk, I think, but I'm afraid that would pigeon-hole it too much.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One sentence is really not enough for everything that goes on!  ugh!

Here it goes:  In the near future, sixteen-year-old Tesla Sonenclare, using her synesthesia and code-breaking skills, accidentally uncovers a heist plot to steal government intelligence, but then quickly becomes the only suspect.

How long did it take you to write your first draft?

Oh man, I lost count.  I wrote half of it during two months last summer, but stopped to revise a different book.  I guess it's been two months since I re-started?  Plus a month before the New Year.  So five months total.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I've been calling it INSIGNIA meets HEIST SOCIETY.  That's really about it.  Maybe CODA by Emma Trevayne because she said it was also a bit cyberpunk, but that's not out yet, so I haven't read it.  (But seriously can't wait to!)  Maybe CINDER because of all the technology.  TDoC kind of hard to describe.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is always a hard one.  Tesla has platinum blonde hair, almost white, and brown eyes, so someone who looks like that.  (Very specific, I know...)  If you crossed Darren Criss's looks (and musical ability) with Matt Smith's personality, you would get the love interest, Nohl.

What else about the book might pique readers interests?

It kind of has everything.  Action (because of the heists), cool new technology, but also a deeper theme of learning who you are and what someone would sacrifice to save his or her family.


So there you have it, THE DISLOYALTY OF COLORS in a rather big nut-shell.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Torchwood vs. Doctor Who

So I just finished Torchwood: Children of Earth (season 3).  I was going through DoctorWho-withdrawl, so I figured something loosely based in his world might do the trick.  While it's not the same as Who, I did enjoy parts of it. And while watching, I started to see a lot of similarities.

They try to make Captain Jack Harkness into the Doctor.  Jack has a mysterious back story that no one knows about and he won't tell.  While he doesn't regenerate, he doesn't die either.  He's supposed to have this snappy personality.  And while I see where they were going, I don't think they took it far enough.  There wasn't enough of that Captain Jack charm that we got during Doctor Who.  And when he did have some flirty one-lines, they seemed forced.  But the one thing they missed completely is the Doctor's compassion. To me, that's what we love about the Doctor.  No person is insignificant to him.  He treats everyone the same and with respect.  And Jack is pretty cold.

Hello there, Eleven.
What I did like about Jack was his love of kissing.  He had a lot of boyfriends.  In most shows, the leading man has tons of women, but here they took it a step further and made it women AND men.  It's also something we don't see a lot of in the U.S., so I appreciated it from the BBC.

I think my favorite part of Torchwood was Owen.  He was the tension of the whole show. And when we found out how he had joined Torchwood at the end of season 2, that just made me like him even more.  I also really liked John Hart (or Spike from Buffy, as I was told).  It's those characters that have so much conflict and tension that really moved the story forward.

Season 3 was a completely different series (and only 5 eps) so I'm not really going to get into that.  It was def the best of the seasons (though I haven't watched the last yet) and Jack's choice in the final ep was seriously heart-breaking and made me reconsider being a writer.  Okay, maybe not that far, but it really makes you ask how far you would go to have your characters make the tough choices.

Oh, and 'Torchwood' is an anagram of 'Doctor Who'... *mind blown*

In other news, Doctor Who comes back March 30th!

Monday, March 11, 2013

It Takes A Village To Write A Query on YA Stands

Queries are difficult.  Getting a 50k story into 250 words?  One can go crazy writing and rewriting a query.  That's why I entered YA Stands's It Takes a Village To Write A Query and was lucky enough to be picked!  It was such a good experience and I'm so appreciative of the nine people who read my query and gave me notes.  The fact that they took the time to help out was amazing!  And if you need query help, go and enter!

So head on over to their blog and tell me what you think of the query for my MS, The Disloyalty of Colors.  Any and all advice/suggestions are appreciated!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Warm Bodies vs. Warm Bodies

I just finished reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.  It was (I think) the only book I've ever finished reading after I'd seen the movie.  As I said in my last post, I just can't finish books if I've seen the movie first.

But Warm Bodies (the book) was really good.  Marion has a great voice and created a great character in R.  He's a zombie, but he's conflicted.  He doesn't just want to eat brains, but wants something more in life.  If you can call being a zombie, a life.  (I did say he was conflicted).

I think my favorite part of the book was the voice.  R was funny and sensitive, despite being a brain-hungry zombie, and intellectual.  He thought about stuff, a lot.  And most of that didn't get in to the movie, so you really understood his motivation a lot more in the book.

Why yes, I will look into your blue zombie eyes.
In the movie, I thought Nicholas Hoult was a good R.  (Plus floppy hair!  *swoon*)  He did a good job of portraying a zombie that wanted to be human but didn't really know how to be.  He had a lot of expressions that I think represented R perfectly.  There's one scene where he is passing a guard and is desperately trying to act human, and you can see the pain in his face.  (It's also a funny scene in the book.)  There's another scene where these goats come up to him and he tries to shoo them away because he doesn't really know what to do.  I thought Nick Hoult also had a pretty good zombie walk.  I think his long limbs had something to do with it.  As with most 1st person novels that get turned into movies, I wanted more of R's thoughts and feelings, which is hard to do in film.  He really didn't have very many lines (he is a zombie after all) so it was hard to get into his head without the voice-overs.

I think I liked the book better, but since I had seen the movie first, I wasn't as invested.  Plus, Nicholas Hoult was perfection as R.  The story itself was an unusual take on zombies and pretty refreshing.  So I'd def recommend both!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Reading books before seeing the movies

I've gotten into this discussion a lot lately, since so many books are being turned into movies.  I think it's great.  I love reading books, end up loving them, and then see them getting turned into movies that go so well on the big screen.  (This probably comes from my love of explosions).

But I can't do it the other way around.  I can't see the movie first and then read the book.  For me, there's just this mental block and I get bored.  It could be that I already know what's going to happen in the book, so I don't feel like finishing the read.  Yes, when I watch the movie, I already know what's going to happen, but for me it's okay; I think I want to see if the director pictures it how I pictured it in my head.  Plus all the explosions.

I have a friend who can only read the book after the movie, not before.  What she said about why she does it that way makes complete sense.  There's so much more detail in the book that wasn't in the movie.  If she read the book before the movie, she would be let down.  But this way, it's like reading a new story because the book has new plot points and so many more details that they couldn't put in a movie.  It's like an expansion pack for video games (I'm guessing).

But for me, I just can't do it that way.  I get a brain block and usually end up putting the book down.  Which is why I always want to read the book before seeing the movie.

Do you read the book before the movie?  Or see the movie before reading the book?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Books I've Read Recently

I haven't blogged about any books for a while and realized I've read quite a few.  I was reading furiously for the past month or so, having finished a first draft and letting it sit, and not having class for most of January. Here's some of the books I've read.

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund was the first book I couldn't put down in a long, long while.  I read it in basically a day, skipping lunch (and I never skip lunch...)  It's a retelling of Persuasion, but I've never actually read any Jane Austen...  Anyways, I absolutely loved this book!  I read it because it's YA SF, but it isn't the ordinary SF with space travel or lots of modern technology.  It's a little bit dystopian, I guess.  The letters in the beginning of the chapters give a lot of backstory to the characters and made them so real.  I loved the tension between all of them.  The world was really interesting with Luddites, Reduced and Posts, as was the mix of new and old technology.  Iwould classify this as "un-put-downable".  Go read out and read it!!

Before that, I read Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.  I heard a lot of good things about this book and knew it was YA epic fantasy, which I love.  Hartman created an interesting world with dragons that can fold themselves into human skins, but I didn't fall in love with this story like many others did.  I think maybe the MC was a little too serious and down on herself, but it did go with the setting/culture Hartman created.  Or maybe I needed more romance.  It just seemed like another magical creature book, albeit a very creative one.  That being said, I still liked it, and will probably still read the second one because I want to see what happens between Seraphina and Kiggs.


I just finished The Crimson Crown, the fourth and final book in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima.  I've loved this whole series and this book was a great ending to it.  The whole series is a YA epic fantasy with wizards, clans people, and Valefolk, focusing on the princess heir and a street thief/gang leader.  The world is fantastic and creative, and the characters are interesting. Chima also created a cool and unusual magic system that I really appreciated.  Definitely give this series a shot if you like epic fantasy!

What have you read recently?  Anything fantastic?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Making a "bad" character sympathetic

In my current WiP, one of my characters is being finicky.  I have a character who is part of the mob, but still has to be liked by the MC.  How can I make the mobster a good person when he's kind of not? I guess I can't really do that; if you're in the mob, you're probably going to kill people.  He needs to be sympathetic.  How can I get the readers to still root for him?  It's a hard line to walk and make believable.

I've been thinking about the show Dexter.  He's a serial killer but we still root for him.  He has a "code" that he follows, making him somewhat redeemable.  He's also a great brother and a good(ish) dad.  There are parts of him that make him likable.

I think that's what I have to do with my mob character.  It still needs to be believable that he would kill people, but he has to have redeeming qualities, and enough of them to make the MC still want to help him.  Maybe we need to see his past so that we can find out why he ended up this way.  Or we need to see him doing something good that he doesn't benefit from.  Maybe he really likes art, or birthdays, or cares deeply for someone.  Something that redeems him as a person.

I just haven't figured out what that is yet.

How do you make a bad character sympathetic?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Matter Over Mind

So I already a new year's resolution post, but I wanted to kind of expand it.

It's all well and good to make new year's resolution, because that's the first step, but we have to follow through.  That's the hard part.  We all want to write more, or exercise, or do something that's generally hard for us to do.  If it wasn't hard, then we wouldn't have to make resolutions; we would just do them.

Setting a schedule is another good step in the process.  And it's usually here where I stumble.  I'll make a schedule, know I should follow the schedule, but don't always follow through.  I'll procrastinate because the resolutions are hard, and then all of a sudden the day is wasted.  It's taking it to the next step.

And here is where matter over mind comes in.  I think most of my blocks are mental.  Once I force myself into the chair or to dress for a run, that's all it takes to get me going.  It's just taking that first step of physically sitting down and opening the word doc, or getting up to put on my sneakers.  Otherwise I'm just flailing on the couch.  I need to force my body to do it, and not listen to my brain being lazy, telling me to just hang out for a few more minutes or take a break.

Of course breaks are necessary, but they should be minimized.  It's reaching that point where I can overcome the mentality of having to take a break or stop.  I should push myself through mental fatigue, because it's not actually fatigue.  It's just the hard part of writing.  Once I get passed that mental block I think I could do so much more, but I'm using it as a crutch to do "just enough".  Obviously we have to know our limits, but sometimes we should challenge them too, because it could turn out what we thought was a limit, was just mentality, and now we can do so much more than we thought!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Multiple POVs

So I finished MS#2.  Woohoo!  Kind of.  It's drastically short for a YA sci-fi and needs all sorts of revisions.  But at least I'm at a starting point.

After finishing, I started thinking about all the work it needs and revisions to do (as any of us crazy people trying to write novels do).  I started to think that the LI needed to be fleshed out, like, waaay more.  I know his back story, but it didn't really come across in the draft.  And as I thought about it, I realized, that maybe he has a story to tell too.  (I mean, he does).

The thing is I always write 1st person (past).  I really like first person.  It's my favorite to read and my favorite to write.  But it's really limited.  You only get one person point of view and that's it.  So I've started thinking, maybe I need another POV.

There are a lot of books that alternate between POVs and do so in different ways.  There's third person POV where you can kinda change whenever you want (to an extent) or you can do it chapter by chapter, like in Laini Taylor's DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT which gives many POVs.  Then there's many books that do alternating first person POV chapter by chapter like Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER and THE SCORPIO RACES, or Beth Revis's ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

I've been asking some peeps on Twitter, why they use dual or multiple POVs, because I'm not sure if that's what my MS needs.  Maybe the MS could be fleshed out without another POV.  So what are some of the reason people use dual POVs?  And what are some reason not to?

And, I'm scared to write boy POV.  I don't consider myself a girlie-girl, but the thought of being inside a dude's head is so foreign that it's scary.  What if it doesn't sound authentic?  What if it doesn't work?

WELL, that's where CPs come in.  I'm sure they'll tell me if it doesn't work.  I just need to start writing and see if it's what I want for my book.  It might not work for me, but I can't let nerves and jitters stop me from writing what the book needs, if that is indeed what it needs.

So despite thinking I was done MS#2, I think I'm about to revisit it with a boy's POV.

Why do you write or not write in multiple POVs?  I'd love to hear your reasons!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolutions

Welp, it's that time of year again: resolutions.  I like this time because they're just goals, and I love goals.  It gives me something to strive for.

Last year I had a lot of resolutions.  I finished some of them, others not so much.  But that's okay.  I can add them to this year's list.  Here it goes.

1) Query Code of the Fireflies - I'm on my last round of revisions (hopefully), so I'm hoping to query in Feb.
2) Revise the Disloyalty of Colors - I finished a draft zero, so this one needs *a lot* of work.  I'm thinking querying in November probably.
3) Start MS #3.  I have two ideas that have been floating around in my brain.  I'd like to get first drafts of both of them written, but I don't know if that will happen.  I want to make good outlines this time around, since both of the previous MSs were so messy.
4) Write more. - This one's simple.  To do all of the above, I have to write more.  That means make time, and not just let it fall into my lap.  This semester is going to be crazy again, but I have no classes over the summer.  That means time to just write.  But if I can make time during the semester, I'll feel like I can write no matter how busy I am.  So that's what I'm hoping for.

And non-writing resolutions.
5) To exercise more - Not just exercise more, but to make a schedule and stick with it.  I have class Mondays and Thursdays, so I want to run on Tuesdays and Fridays (even if it's cold) and go to the gym on Wednesdays.  Hold me to it!

So those are my resolutions.  Happy New Year everyone!