Posts Tagged ‘novels’

catching fire, writing odds and ends…necessarily in that order

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Whew! That was a long title, my goodness. Let me take a breath…

‘kay.

catching fire

catchingfire

On my fifteen last Friday I mentioned that I read Catching Fire. That wasn’t a lie. I did, and I loved it. It left me hanging more than The Hunger Games did, so now I’m angry  with Suzanne Collins until the next book comes out. BTW, READ THIS BOOK. But make sure you read The Hunger Games first, of course.

writing stuff

This is really cool – MIT’s (that’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology) FREE online writing course. No grades, but you get the syllabus, assignments and course materials (downloadable).

This is where I got that link. There are also free courses offered by Purdue University, UCLA, and the University of Utah to name a handful (minus two fingers).

I learned a lot about writing this weekend thanks to my pal Jenny Martin. She is the librarian who guest blogged for me last week, remember? I learned that one of those courses mentioned above would be a great idea for me. Passive voice, who knew! (It seems like everyone I know knew. ugh.) Also, this one space between sentences is going to take some getting used to. It was the only thing that stuck from 7th grade typing class.  There!  I did it again. oy.

fifteen for friday 9/18/09

Friday, September 18th, 2009

soggy Texas edition

These monsters range in size from 3 to 6 inches in diameter

These monsters range in size from 3 to 6 inches in diameter

1.  It has been raining/overcast/blah outside for a week…this is not normal and makes me feel that something more ominous than rain in Texas is afoot.

2.  I’m aware that these feelings are a product of an overactive imagination…but just LOOK at all the mushrooms!

3.  Hubby won’t quit saying “The phong is ringin’!  Is it Michael Trabtree?”

4.  Speaking of phongs, my new LG Xenon is due today! woo hoo!

5.  Read: Catching Fire…finally!  More on that later.

6.  Reading Dead Until Dark.

7.  Did I already tell everyone that I like this blog?  I think I did.  It’s been a soggy week.

8.  Cats are already fattening up for the winter.  You’d think they were getting ready to hibernate or something.

9.  #FF (follow friday feels so nice.)

10. @calistataylor is so helpful!  I know I mentioned her before, but seriously…she gave me a soup recipe for my angry stomach.

11. Thanks thanks thanks to Jenny Martin for being my first guest blogger.  You rocked it!

12. Completed my 500th tweet today…what an accomplishment.

13. Ugh.  Where’s that soup?

14. Oh yeah.  I have to actually make it.

15. I promise a better list next week. *doubling over queasy mid section*

guest blogger: jenny martin, librarian extrodinaire

Monday, September 14th, 2009

bookstack2When Jen asked me to post about advice I’ve gleaned from writers’ groups, I wasn’t sure what suggestions to give. After all, as a writer, I’m a novice. I have zero expertise to offer on the mechanics of writing.

But I am a librarian. As such, it’s my job to read widely and well. I’d like to think I’m acquainted with the transaction between reader and book. Perhaps an examination of this exchange could be helpful. After mulling over the helpful hints offered at AQ and writer’s workshop, I’m struck by a single question.

What happens when I read a good story?

Reading is an interactive experience, an emotional communion between the reader and the tale. If a story reaches me, touching my intellect and psyche in a meaningful way, I consume the story.

Or does the story consume me?

After reading a really good book, I absorb the emotional core of the plot and carry it with me. Although I may never read it again, it never leaves my subconscious. Like a talisman, I examine the tale each time I devour something new. I compare its characters, its setting and its message against those inside the novel in my hands.

A good story haunts the outposts of the soul.

If this is true, what implications does it have for the writer?

Simply put, if the writer’s setting, characters, themes and plot do not spark an emotional connection, the story dies. It is not carried on, it is not absorbed, and it does not take root in the consciousness of the reader. The story slips away, a vapor. It’s lost.

If your story is does not yet live in the heart of its reader, do not lose faith. Return to your characters. Reach inside of them and extract the essence of that which makes them real and vibrant. Close your eyes and experience the story through their eyes. Transfigure this experience until it fits comfortably on the page.

Then, with any luck, your story will either break the reader’s heart or heal it.

About the blogger:

Jenny Martin is a school librarian in the DFW area. She holds a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of North Texas. She also reviews books and writes YA.

all the time in the world

Monday, September 7th, 2009

ALLtheTimeintheWorld“I glanced out of the window at the poor peasants who could not or would not shell out the sixteen dollars to tour Elvis’ earthly digs.  They stared back at our privileged group.  As I watched their envious faces, I considered tossing a few coins to see if they would scramble for them.  Then I decided not to think quite that hard about the peasants.

“Let them eat mashed banana sandwiches,” I decided, in tribute to Elvis’ favorite lunch fare.  I smiled smugly at the onlookers as I gave them my best royal wave…”

Excerpt from All the Time in the World by Richard Leigh Penn.  Quoted with permission.

Shortest Summary: The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy minus space travel meets your 10th grade history book.

Longer Summary: Wanna see Elvis at the Louisiana Hayride?  Meet Lincoln, Booth, battle the Clanton Gang in the old west, make movies in the 1930′s, seek and destroy Jack the Ripper?  Seems highly unlikely, right?  It sure is for most of us, but for Brian Willard it’s reality.  The man is a travel agent who hasn’t been many places up until the point when we join him at the beginning of the story –he’s checking out Elvis’ Caddy at Graceland.

Brian is chosen by “The Big Idea” because he is completely and utterly mediocre.  Since he’s an average joe, of average intellegence and abilities, and has nothing tying him down, he is chosen to get as much time travel experience as possible “just in case” something should happen that would cause a rift in time.  See, The Big Idea can’t physically change the flow of time, but a human can–somehow–the Big Idea’s not so sure on that one.  Brian stumbles through time periods and into situations that are frightening, exciting and sometimes very lovely.

Richard Penn’s work of commercial fiction is an exciting fast-paced read.  The story twists and turns but never loses its way as the protagonist matures from a silly bumbler into a more thoughtful man.

Get your copy of All the Time in the World.

**I normally write about young adult fiction, this is not YA.  That’s just an FYI. :)

the hunger games

Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Yeah, I know World Without End is not YA, but it makes a really good bookend

Yeah, I know World Without End is not YA, but it makes a really good bookend

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I read a lot of books.  A LOT.  For me to say that The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is the best book I’ve read in the last year…well, it is a big deal.  And it is, the best book I’ve read in AT LEAST the last year.  Lots of caps I know, but it’s worth it.  Think Lord of the Flies meets 1984 meets Survivor, yes, I said Survivor and I do mean the television show.

It is a heart-pounding, edge of your seat post-apocalyptic LOVE story.  Not strictly the kind of love between a man and a woman either.  All kinds of love.

I can’t wait to read Catching Fire, the second in Collins’ trilogy (the third book won’t be released for quite a while-boo).

For those who have read it, I vote for Peeta all the way.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Katniss and Gale are related (don’t hold me to it though).

fifteen for friday

Friday, September 4th, 2009

flu-like symptoms and super tweet edition

1. Ah, fever…chills how I hate thee.

2. What Ann Curry tweeted earlier: Here we go. Last week of August flu cases rose sharply. H1N1 is believed to be most of those cases. Wash your hands.”

3. Been working on my query all day for  this contest…

4. Another embarrassing video.  I love to humiliate myself…why?

5. Thanks to Jolyn Palliata for letting me beta read her awesome novel, Amber Eyes…watch out for this one.

6. Um, Danae (pronounced Dani) Ayusso is one of the most interesting people I have ever “met”.  She can write 10,000 words, send out 75 query letters–twitter and email all in ONE day…not kidding.  And she just got a request for a full!  Way to go Danae!

7. @johannaharness wants everyone to take a pic of their workspaces and tweet to #amwriting, she was so nice to say something positive about mine.

8. Am I trying to be the queen of links?  No, but you can call me the princess if you want.

9. OMK (kittens) I haven’t read a published book all week…weird.

10. Gonna remedy that with my 40% off coupon to Borders!

11. Not adding pics today…so sorry.

12. My oldest caught the video bug and started filming a 6 min. video for each of our pets.  They are surprisingly funny.

13. The animals aren’t as funny as my son’s comments.

14. What I want to read ASAP: The Hunger Games

15. Comment people–I get lonely. :)

fifteen for friday 8/28/09

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Here it is!  The much awaited return of fifteen for friday!

first day of school09 0021.  School is in.

first day of school09 0042.  Yesterday I noticed three blooms on my flower.  Normally it only has two, and when I see another about to bloom I know that one flower will fall off before it gets a chance to open.  This is the first time there have been three blooms all at once actually attached to the plant.  I was pondering the reason why this made me so happy.  It has to be that it was unexpected and it involved a pretty lilac colored flower that has a perfect yellow circle in the middle.

3.  A BIG thank you to Jodi, Coy and Amy this week for reading and giving me invaluable feedback.  You guys are great!!!

4. Fun site of the week - www.mentalfloss.com

5.  As You Wish came out this week.  Don’t forget to pick up a copy.

6.  Finally read Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen.  I’m noticing that I like her books almost in copyright date order, favorites being the newest.  In other words, I really didn’t like Keeping the Moon so much.  But I’m looking forward to Along for the Ride, the only one I haven’t read yet and her newest.

first day of school09 0067.  The forget-me-nots have grown, but why aren’t they flowering?

8.  I feel like I’m forgetting something.

9.  Good Girls by Laura Ruby –Wow, very modern.  I guess kids these days are having to deal with the issues covered in this book–everything you do can be photographed and sent to everyone you know–yikes.

10.  the sweet, terrible, glorious year i truly, completely lost it by Lisa Shanahan–I really liked this book especially following the heaviness of Good Girls…not that the sweet… isn’t heavy in its own way.  But it has a lot of very funny moments and some outrageous ones.  Gemma’s older sister is getting married and decides her theme will be animals who mate for life.  Sis dresses Gemma up as a SWAN for her flower girl outfit.  The story is set in Australia and has a few quirky words and phrases, but it’s all very followable.  I was a little confused about “the tip” which I could only surmise was a piece of undesirable land that smelled awful.

11.  Girl in Development by Jordan Roter made me realize that the way I tend to write (casual writing, mind you) in “valley girl” may not be the best idea.  Yeah, it’s cute for a little while, but it’s looking more and more immature when I read it from someone else.  I was excited about this book and picked it up because of the blurbs on the back.  It was an okay read.

12.  The three books I picked up at the library all had a copyright date of 2006.  Is that weird or what?

13.  When will I wise up and make it FIVE for Friday?

14.  Random thought (I told you this might happen…no, I did…back in the beginning) is dim sum the same thing as dumplings and pot stickers?  I could look that up, I know…just killing numbers here.

15.  Could someone please please publish me please?! Thanks.

read-o-rama

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Read a B-U-N-C-H this weekend.

thatsummer-thumb1. That Summer – Sarah Dessen – Nice jump back into Sarah-land after This Lullaby.  Love the summer setting.  I was trying to think back to my last perfect summer before “everything changed”.  I didn’t have a summer like that.  I was always looking forward and never longed for the past, but this book made me want to.  Oh, me and my never-ending teen angst!  Just call me JenX…get it?! hahaha! deenie

2.  Deenie – Judy Blume – I just felt like revisiting this old “classic” when I saw it at the library.  It amazed me how Blume can get that voice in my head to take on a Jersey accent.  It takes serious talent to get a reader to hear a character’s voice and it’s not like any other they’ve ever heard.

justlisten-thumb3.  Just Listen – Sarah Dessen – This book is now my all-time favorite Dessen novel.  Reading it made me want to write a book report about it.  I am not one who usually gets that urge…but there was so much here to learn I just wanted to take it all apart and dissect each individual piece.  For example, the Greene’s beautiful glass house.  People driving by think they can see everything that’s going on inside, but there are parts that are hidden from the street.  Beautiful Annabel is “the girl who has everything” and people think they know what’s going on with her, but those hidden spaces remain that way until she can turn on the light and open the doors to let othersdreamland-thumb in.  Oh, and Greene…her last name, “the grass is always greener…” and there’s so much more! –It was also nice to see Remy and Dexter from This Lullaby make a cameo.

4.  Dreamland – Sarah Dessen – First Caitlin is invisible, and when she finally gets a chance to be seen, she makes the worst choices.  I guess some people might read the book and think that they would never let anyone abuse them like that.  But as an older (though not much wiser) person I could see how a laundry list of bad choices and of not knowing who you really are could lead to that kind of situation.

New Dessen ranking:                 Still need to read: Keeping the Moon and Along For the Ride

1. Just Listen

2. Someone Like You

3. Lock and Key

4. The Truth About Forever

5. That Summer

6. Dreamland

7. This Lullaby

so many words

Monday, August 10th, 2009

thislullaby-thumbThis weekend I read This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen – I hate to say it but I didn’t enjoy this book.  I kept waiting for something to happen and it just never did.  It won’t put me off Dessen forever or anything…here’s my ranking so far of Dessen novels in order of enjoyment: 1. Lock and Key 2. Someone Like You 3. The Truth About Forever 4. This Lullaby.  I expect that This Lullaby will remain at the end of the list however long it gets.

Another, much more enjoyable read this weekend was Boone’s Lick by Larry McMurtry.  Funny, I just realized that I kept waiting for something big to happen in that onebooneslick too.  There was definitely more action than in the Dessen novel (did I just compare YA fic with a western?) but it wasn’t up to McMurtry’s normal heart-pounding and gut-wrenching abilities.  It wasn’t nearly as serious as the Lonesome Dove series but not as comedic as Sin Killer either.  I get the feeling it was written for fun–as an easy-going western.  That said, it was still superbly written with McMurtry’s trademark realistic almost lyrical back woodsy prose.

I don’t know if it’s a great idea to jump from reading a pulitzer-prize winning novelist’s book to editing my own un-published work, but that’s exactly what I did.  Then again, maybe it was good, since it made me realize that my manuscript needs a massive overhaul.  It wasn’t my first hint.

oleander aka sea rose

oleander aka sea rose

After an excellent tell-it-like-it-is reader told me like it was, I recognized there were some serious issues.  1st massively major edit: Switching from omniscient point of view to first person.  This will not be the first time I have done this…just the first time I’ve had to do it with 65,000 words.  It means that scenes will have to be cut…the scenes that my protagonist, Cate wouldn’t have seen.

Which leads to 2nd massively major edit: I will have to shimmy the information in somewhere else.  Thus creating the major overhaul.  Another good thing…I hadn’t written really much of anything for years and years when I started Sea Rose.  It’s safe to say that I have a lot more written words under my belt at this point so re-writing is a positive.

Some might say, why not scrap the whole thing and start over if you have to change so much?  I think the main story is good and I really think there is still a lot of good writing that I could make great.  So wish me luck, folks!

fifteen for friday 8/7/09

Friday, August 7th, 2009

someonelikeyou-thumb1.  Finally found a crit partner (actually three).  Already found about five ways to improve my manuscript.

2.  Oh!  Good news!  I finally finished my short story!  To celebrate I lopped off about 1,500 words while editing.

3.  Anyone know any good places to send a short story that runs about 8,200 words?

4.  Read another Sarah Dessen, Someone Like You.  Surprise!  I liked it.

booneslick5.  Currently reading Boone’s Lick by Larry McMurtry.  It’s a nice change of pace from YA fiction.  I wonder if Mr. McMurtry hangs out at his bookstore every day (does that sound stalkery)?

6.  I think I’m getting used to Splenda Diet Coke.

7.  Just won AMIGOLAND by Oscar Casares from Little, Brown for twittering about it!  I love #freebiefriday!amigoland

8.  Lately I’ve been spending about 90% of my “free” time networking socially and only 10% writing (or reading).  Maybe it’s time for a priority check.

9.  Still getting a huge kick out of visiting Jackson’s site.  Check out her haiku…

10.  I don’t really get the bubbl thing…but if it can help someone else (planners in particular) I’m happy to pass the link along.

11.  17 days until school starts.  I’m looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time.  It will be nice to have quiet days to work…but then there’s homework and lunches and uniforms and supplies, oh and money for this, that and the other thing.

12. Crit Partner Match is a site that helps hook you up with a crit partner.  Not super user-friendly, but it does give you a small pool of people to choose from.

13.  Excited to check out Dollhouse.

14.  If your maiden name was Weadon would you write under that name hoping to receive some kind of noteriety from Joss Whedon’s success?  Would it be wrong, right or neither?

15. How Fail Went From Verb to Interjection http://bit.ly/HJ8VK