Monday, February 28, 2011

Book Wars 7

Before I dive into this weeks installment of Book Wars, I have a link you should check out. My awesome friend Jennie Bailey interviewed me for her Paws and Learn blog about my cat. If you want to know why I walk my cat, you should check it out!

On to this week's installment of Book Wars - the entirely positive battle between books I read this week.
(Click on the book titles to be redirected to their Goodreads page) 

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

So this book is based on the screenplay for the movie coming out on March 11th.  That being said, this book has no ending so it's hard to give you my overall opinion on it. (I did not know there was no ending when I bought it.) Apparently the final chapter of the book (the one that ties everything together) isn't going to be released until March 14th (so people have time to see the movie). I guess they want the ending to be a surprise. But, without an ending, I feel I have nothing more to say about the book than: it provides some interesting background information on the village the characters live in that I'm sure the movie won't.


Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney

My favorite  thing about this book is the humor. The MC Finbar is an awkward, pale kid with a 'perfect' twin brother who wants nothing more than to get a girl but has had nothing but awful luck so far. He keeps up to date with pop culture and realizes he can use the vampire trend to his advantage. If you don't think a high school boy pretending to be a vampire is funny on it's own...well, there's lots of other humor in here too. 

This Week's Winner:

Bloodthirsty wins, hands down - and not just because it has an ending! This book is a believable portrayal of high school. It's relateable because pretty much everyone has done something crazy to get the attention of the opposite sex. At one point in our lives, we've all wanted to be someone else. This book is so funny because of its honesty. If you've ever been on the Vampire Book Bandwagon (and seriously, who hasn't been at one point or another?) I definitely recommend this book. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's your stance?

I'd like to preface this post by asking your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the lack of creativity that is about to follow. I'm sick and actually curious to know how you'd answer.

What's your opinion on chapter introductions? 

Do you like numbers? (For example, Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, etc)

Do you like chapter titles that tell you the main subject of the following text? (For example, Cassandra Clare's City Of Bones: 1 Pandemonium, 2 Secrets and Lies, 3 Shadowhunter, etc)

Do you like chapter titles that subtlety give you information but use humor to do so (and take out numbers all together)? (For example, Kiersten White's Paranormalcy: Oh, bite me; A population of nightmares; Not - Me And I)

Do you like chapter headings that reveal more about a character's interests? (For example, Carrie Jones'
Need (her MC is obsessed with phobias): Phobophobia: fear of phobias; Mnemophobia: fear of memories; Didaskaleinophobia: fear of going to school, etc)

Do you notice chapter titles at all or do you just read the story? 

Have you noticed another way to introduce a chapter I haven't mentioned? 

So, tell me, What's your opinion?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Wars 6

It's finally time for another Book Wars - the entirely positive battle to win best book of the week!

For more information on any of these books, press their name and you'll be redirected to their goodreads page.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

This book is written in a pretty unique way. It's like an epic fairytale in the Hans Christian Anderson or Grimm Brothers style except it's a longer story.


The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This novel is all about how one generation living in a dictatorship affects all future generations. My favorite part was the historical footnotes spread throughout where I learned about Trujillo the dictator in the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961. I never realized the horrors that country faced, we never learned about it in school though this guy was arguably as horrible as Hitler. The only difference? He didn't leave a paper trail behind him - just a scarred country terrified into silence.


I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
The First book in the John Cleaver series

The Main Character John's struggle with his own natural inclinations. Having a MC whose worst enemy is himself makes for truly interesting psychological elements. I was questioning my own inclinations right along with John.

The Winner This Week

Without a doubt, I pick I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells. The writing in this novel was clean, it painted vivid pictures in my mind (which wasn't always a great thing - some of it's gross!), and was just plain amazing. I found the MC relatable (which, unfortunately, makes me worry about the state of my mind since he is a sociopath). The details about famous serial killers was super interesting. I enjoyed the plot. Honestly, I don't really have anything negative to say. I highly recommend this book to everyone who enjoys the crime shows out there (CSI, Criminal Minds, Castle, etc).

What have you read recently? What are you reading right now? 

Friday, February 18, 2011

We make our own dragons!

I met a dragon* last night. Thing was scaly, with talons and spikes.

You know what I was told to do when I was staring open mouthed and apprehensive? Touch it. Pick it up. 

I was thinking: Are you nuts. Dragon has scales! Talons! Spikes! It's teeth could rip my finger off!

I picked one up anyway. (After some convincing of course.)

And guess what? The scales weren't that rough. The talons curled around my finger (in a nice way). The spikes were all for show - they were rubber and bendy. The dragon didn't even have teeth!

It wasn't so bad. 

That's kind of like life too. Sometimes we're terrified just by looking at what's in front of us. Our fear paralyzes us. The worst thing? Sometimes our dreams seem so big and unreachable they may as well be fire-breathing dragons with claws as big as your head.

But if we just reach out and grab whatever's terrifying us (unless it's your boss or another person because no one wants sexual harassment charges!) we just might find out, it isn't as awful as we thought it would be. 

 Have you ever magnified your fear of something so much that you made it out to be way worse than it ever was? Have you faced any of your fears lately?

*More specifically, a Bearded Dragon. 

Also this is my 100th post. I can't believe I've written a hundred of these things and people actually read them! Thanks for being here guys!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What kind of eggs are you?

My brain feels like several different types of eggs: runny, scrambled and fried. (Midterm week is trying to kill me.)

It's really hard, when you put in so much effort and it doesn't seem to be getting you anywhere. No matter what you do, how hard you try, how little you sleep - it's never enough. It's hellish.

I know I'm not the only student out there dealing with too much homework, but sometimes, it really feels like it. Sometimes, when you're struggling you can't help but feel alone.

All I really have to say today is this: 

No matter what you are struggling with right now (issues at home/work/school, writing, editing, or querying), no matter  how hard it is, how stressful, and no matter how much you feel like you aren't enough, you are going to get through this. It isn't the end it feels like.

You are enough. You always were and always will be. As long as you believe that's true (cause it is), you can do anything. 

And, if today is one of the days when you can't muster up that belief, know this: I still believe in you.

What kind of eggs are you right now(Scrambled, fried, runny, overeasy, hard-boiled, steamed or sunny side up)? 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just Kiss Already

Christina Lee and Stina teamed up to bring us this blogfest. Check out the other entries here.

This excerpt is from my next story idea. I plan to write this book when school's out but here's a glimpse into my novel writing future (in less than 250 words):

The tip of Fay’s dagger presses against my throat. The heat of her wild magic makes my throat itch and burn but if I move, I know she’ll kill me. Morgana could bring me back from the dead but I know I won’t come back right. I’d be as mindless and empty as Mom after Morgana tried it on her.

I say, “I didn’t know you’d be here.”

“You’re at my house, Oliver.” Green sparks run up and down her black hair.

I take a mental photograph of the way her body curves, all coiled power and sin. I know my memory won’t do her justice but it’s all I have since she decided Morgana and I were evil.

“We don’t have to be enemies Fay. Morgana’s prepared to forgive you for betraying-” I shut up when Fay flips her dagger into her wrist holster and wraps her tiny fingers around my throat. It’s so nice to have her touching me again.

Fay’s grip tightens but then she drops her hands. Her breath tickles my neck, “I can’t kill you Ollie. I should but-”

“You still love me.” I whisper.

She bites her lip and my resistance crumbles. If she finds the courage to finish me, so be it.

I kiss her. And she’s kissing me back, as untamed and feverish as ever. I’m unsure how much my heart can swell before it bursts.

Fay should know she’s never needed daggers or magic to kill me.

Let me know what you think! How was your weekend? Any plans this week? (It's midterm week for me...excuse me while I go off and die! Except, not really, because that's way too melodramatic.)

Also, Happy Valentines Day! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

How are you leaving them?

Your first line needs to be everything. You know that. But did you know that your last line is, essentially the yang to the first line's ying?

The last thing any reader is going to see of your book, is going to be the last line. It has to satisfy them because there's nothing else after that. It needs to be memorable, special and definitely not cheesy. It needs to match the everything of your first sentence. It needs to balance out.

I mean, if a book were a sandwich, you wouldn't put one slice of baked-from-scratch-bread on top (the first line), mouthwatering-pick-your-favorite-fillings in the middle (your story) and dry-left-out-on-the-counter-too-long-store-bought-bread on the bottom. It just doesn't make sense.

When I'm browsing books in the store I always look at covers first (Yeah, I know that's shallow), then I skim the first lines but, because there's so much pressure on them, usually these are good. Finally, I read the last line. And, honestly, a lot of them suck, or are cheesy, or are interchangeable (they could end any story). That definitely makes me question what's in the middle. It makes me doubt the writer and if someone hasn't promised me the book is worth my time I will never read that book.

It all really comes down to this, I think your last line says more about what kind of writer you are then your first.

Maybe that's just my opinion but, when you look at your manuscript, at the journey your readers will go through, I want you to look at your last line. Was the journey worth it?

The real question is this: how do you want to leave your readers?

Thoughts on the last line? Do you ever read a last line before you start? Are you proud of your last line? Any other thing in writing books that is so important but you think get's overlooked?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books that tell a story

What happens when you are delirious from sleep deprivation, spend five hours dissecting the fall of the Byzantine Empire then try and think of an easy blog post? You think: why don't I take a picture of some of the books in my to be read pile. But what happens is, you end up making a short story based only on book titles.  At least, that's what happened to me. (Also, do not try to stack 24 books on top of each other. It's a bad idea)

Vixen, The Child Thief, cast a Shadowspell on the univited while her partner The Necromancer (the one on The Demon King's Hate List) applied The Grimm Legacy to the Guardians of the gate just because Thirteen Days To Midnight, Mr. Monster had said "I Am Not A Serial Killer." The Exiled Queen, living in Dust City, heard Newes From The Dead about Red Riding Hood. Red riding hood encouraged The Alchemyst, The Magician and The Pathfinder to use Hex Hall to find the Prophecy Of The Sisters in order to stop the Bloodthirsty Revolution started by the monsters of The Reformed Vampire Support Group.

How do you relax after a long day? Do you frequently start a simple task and then turn it into something accident?

Also, I'd like to thank Christina Lee for doing a post several months ago where she turned her book titles into a poem. It was the inspiration for this one!

Friday, February 4, 2011

It's only clever if it works

I love Mom dearly, really I do. She's an amazing woman and I wouldn't be who I am today without her ceaseless support. That being said, I suggest you avoid being like her.*

See, Mom was cooking chicken and realized she was doing way too much for two people. What does she do? She takes the excess and puts it in the dog's bowl. Then buries the chicken under a mountain of kibble. "Can't give it to him too easily. He should work for the good stuff." She said. 

My dog stared at the bowl. Sniffed it a few times. Then stared at Mom like, what - why'd you do that? Eventually, he shoved all the kibble aside - knocking it all over the floor in the process - and ate the chicken. And, oddly enough, he never finished his dinner - I know because when Mom went to feed him tonight she noticed the bowl was still mostly full. 

The moral of the story is this: you aren't being clever when you hide the good stuff (basically the juicy, meaty bits) in your book under a bunch of dry stuff. You're just forcing the reader to search for it. They won't be happy and once they get what they're looking for, they'll leave your book half-finished. There'll also be a mess left behind (and this will probably be your reputation because why would they trust you again?!).

Any clever tricks authors have tried to pull on you lately? Any awesome plans for the weekend (seriously, tell me, all I've got to look forward to is piles of homework!)?

*When I say don't be like Mom, I really only mean in this case. You'd probably love her if you met her. She rocks! (Love you Mom.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

There's someone you should meet

Friends, I'd like you to meet Obstacles (pronounced like a Greek word/name so something close to this: Ob/stock/a/lees).

You might recognize him, since we all face him everyday. He comes in many forms - too much homework, illness, fear, a loss of direction/purpose, the absence of time, lack of money, self-doubt (or someone else doubting you), basically anything and everything can be turned into Obstacles (even those donuts your friend brought into the office when you're trying to lose weight!).

He looms, giant and scary, casting our dreams in shadows. Sometimes, the shadow distorts our dreams so harshly, that we hardly recognize them anymore. Sometimes, we can no longer even see them. We stand there, paralyzed with fear.

But the important thing to remember is this: Obstacles is ugly - he has horrible, matted hair; the harshest unibrow ever; a nose five times bigger then it should be; a potbelly - he has horrible fashion sense and (most importantly) his hands are stuck to his butt.

In case this isn't obvious, it's kind of hard for a troll-man to do anything to you without hands. So you know what you do? You just get rid of him.

When Obstacles presents himself, first thing you do? Take a lesson from cats everywhere and turn your head away. Then think about what you are going to do to him.

When Obstacles comes with way too much homework or so many editing plans you feel paralyzed.......kick him with your foot!

When Obstacles comes with self-doubt......punch him in the face!

When Obstacles comes with illness.....set him on fire!

When Obstacles comes and tries to steal all your time away from you.....drown him in a lake!

When Obstacles comes, however he's disguising himself this what you need to to get him the hell out of your way!

Obstacles can only stop us from following our dreams if we let him. It's our choice.

What will you choose? (Feel free to discuss some of your obstacles in the comments and tell me just what you are going to do with them!)

(Credit for the invention of Obstacles (pronounced ob/stock/a/les) comes from Chris Brady one of the world's top 30 leadership gurus. Mom saw him at a convention this past weekend and I thought you guys needed to hear this message because it sure as heck spoke to me!)

(Also, Thank you Abby Minard, Colene Murphy and Jennie Bailey for encouraging me to write this post! I probably wouldn't have without their encouragement....Obstacles was in the way, but I set him straight!)