One Month Without My Novel

In November, I started working on my novel, Devil May Care. It wasn’t my first project. I have been writing a story called After We Waited for Ever since fourth grade, editing and scrapping and revising until my brain bled. Finally, I gave up on it–I had outgrown it years ago–and started a new project, what became DMC. On March 29, I finished my first draft. This is my fastest completed first draft ever. It is 110,600 words, about 330 pages. I am by no means done–I have a ton of editing I need to do. It’s like Swiss cheese with all the plot holes right now. But (half by my own accord, half because my sister knows how I am with editing and forced me to do this) I am taking a break from the project for a month.

Maybe that sounds impossibly stupid. But I know that if I try to edit it right now, I will get tired of the story, start hating everything about the writing, and sink into that pit of despair most writers call home. So I’m letting myself forget about the project, so that when I go back to it it will be fresh and intriguing. Hopefully postponing the I-hate-everything-about-this-project feeling I always encounter during edits. First drafts? Yay! Bring it on. Editing? Please, God, no.

But it turns out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. For the last five months, every extra minute I had was put into DMC. I trained myself to avoid the internet and turn to writing. I’ve always written a lot, but with DMC I hit my peak of productivity. I spent spare time thinking of plot points and working out scenes in my mind before I wrote them. I always had the document open–it was a habit to just open it and read the last scene I wrote. And now–I’m avoiding doing all that. I haven’t opened the document in a week. If DMC was an addiction, I’m in withdrawal.

Of course, I’m still writing. Short stories that are slowly becoming longer stories. This blog. But It’s been almost a week without DMC and that’s just weird. The characters, the plot, the world I created were a part of me. And they still are, but less so.

Is it kind of nice? Of course. Writing a book is emotionally damaging and tiring. The mood swings from this-is-AWESOME to I-can’t-even-speak-English-anymore to I’m-not-a-writer-I’m-delusional are anything but fun. Being free of that, working on stories with less pressure, with no set plot that I can just explore, is great.

But if you think I’m not counting down the days until April 29, you’re wrong.

Meet Gimmie

Meet Gimmie the Gargoyle!!!!

I made the orginal sketch of Gimmie a few years ago. Today I found it and decided to play around with it on my computer. I went over it in ink, then took a picture of it, and uploaded it to my computer. I used Corel Draw 4X and Corel Photo Paint 4X, with the help of my Intuous Pro tablet, to colorize it. It was painstaking, but fun.

He will probably pop up in some short stories, and maybe some more doodles. For now, enjoy!

Book Review: English Class

You’ve probably noticed that I don’t read many “classics.” I’d like to say that this isn’t true…I could probably come up with some excuse that makes me seem like more than a teenager who can’t be troubled to read something from before 2000. But the truth is this: I like reading YA. I like reading about confident young women (and men) going on adventures and falling in love. Older works often frustrate me when the female characters are portrayed as weak and male-dominated. I’m not saying this is every classic out there, but there are definitely some common denominators. And I also know that this isn’t really anyone’s fault–it was simply the mindset of the period. But JK Rowling came along and opened the door for a new type of story, one where teens can go on adventures and be strong and have characters. And I figure reading is done in my spare time, so I might as well read what I want to read. So there.

But I’m also a freshman in high school which means–ENGLISH CLASS. I actually enjoy this class, and will probably have some posts coming out about it soon. But for now I thought it would be interesting to review the books I’ve read this year: The Pearl by John Steinbeck, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare.

1) The Pearl by John Steinbeck

I’ll be honest. I hated it. I’ve never liked stories set on islands following fishermen, et cetera. Too much imagery, not enough plot. It probably didn’t help that I had to painstakingly annotate (the hell out of) it. Glad it’s over. Sorry to Steinbeck fans.

2) The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The next to sentences are only going to reinforce the feeling that I’m a cliche teen who hates classics: 1) This book isn’t really a classic, it was written recently. 2) And I really liked it. Whatever. It is a series of vignettes about a young girl growing up in a low income area. Good voice. Emotional. Easy to annotate, which helped.

3) The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

I’m not even going to apologize for not liking this one. A guy turns into a bug for sixty pages. And basically does nothing besides delude himself into thinking he’s not a bug and scaring the hell out of his family. Not my cup of tea.

4) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I liked this one. The romance was okay. Rochester swayed between being horrifyingly annoying and devastatingly attractive. Jane was at once both annoyingly docile and uniquely strong. Good plot. Interesting characters.

5) Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

My first Shakespeare! It was an enjoyable read. Soooo well written. Plot needed time to develop. Would have been better as a novel but that’s just me. It was a cute story with a tragic, yet well known end. Gloriously easy to annotate. Overall, fun.

 

So there. I’ve read classics.

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

This book has what others lack: originality. It’s paranormal romance with vampires and it is unlike anything else I’ve read. Read the synopsis at amazon.

The romance is surprising and intriguing. You know you shouldn’t be rooting for it and yet you ship it anyway. The good/evil conflict is addictive and murky. The plot works. A few of the characters could have been portrayed better, but that’s pretty much all the negative stuff I’d say about it. The world of vampires and Coldtowns Black has created is unique and interesting. I read it straight through in one day, unable to leave the world Black set up around me. Definitely worth reading.

Book Review: Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

I read Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series and LOVED IT! (But the movie looks like it pales in comparison, from the trailer I watched). Mead has a talent with world building, going past the obvious physical features of her worlds and characters that most authors focus on and creating a culture for the characters to exist in. (An examples from VA is the concept of blood whores.) This was present in her new book, Gameboard of the Gods.

This book was an enjoyable read. Good characters, conflicts, plot. Mead set up a detailed web of backstories and hidden agendas to last her a long series (something she specializes in). It was a good book, plain and simple.

But some things about it bothered me. From the cover, synopsis, and knowledge of Mead’s other books (which are all YA),  I was expecting this book to be exaclty that: young adult. Mead’s VA series had some sexy scenes, but it was still YA. This book is not that. The characters are in their late twenties and one of the first scenes is them sleeping together. Very not YA. However, the rest of the plot could be YA, and there is even a sixteen-year-old character. Genre-wise, it is on the border of paranormal, dystopian, and fantasy. This was confusing too–I couldn’t decide what it was. Not that books have to fit into a genre–some of my favorites don’t–but this time it didn’t work as well as I wanted it to.

If I didn’t know that Richelle Mead has written at least a dozen other books, I would say that this book was a debut author’s confused first attempt at writing a story, not yet sure what genre or age range she wants to write for. But she isn’t, which makes this even more confusing. I expected something great, which left me oddly disappointed.

Not to say that this book isn’t great. It really is, especially near the end as some of the set-up turns into actual plot. From any other author I would be giving it a stellar review. But I expected more from Richelle Mead.

Book Review: A Couple of Almosts

This post isn’t focusing on one specific book. It is devoted to a few of the books I’ve read this year that were…okay. They were readable and I enjoyed them but overall they left me saying “it could have been better.”

1) When the World was Flat (And We Were in Love) by Ingrid Johach

This book’s title hooked me in. The plot interested me enough to buy the book. It’s a short read, which is part of the problem. The plot includes almost sci-fi elements, though it comes off contemporary, possibly paranormal, romance. There’s some scientific gargin involved that I usually revel in, but in this case it was just…confusing. The plot moved too quickly. There wasn’t enough explanation. The author could have used a few more words to make sure her reader understood what was going on, but Johach didn’t. It left me dissatisfied, feeling like it would have been a great book if I had known what was going on.

2) First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

The first pages of this book were addicting. I was laughing out loud, so ready for the entire book to be as good. But as the plot progressed, everything fell apart. The characters, which I had fallen in love with from the first pages, became unreal as their backstories were revealed. They got annoying. Certain parts of the boy’s character bugged me personally, though all I will say is it has something to do with a death in the family (PLOT POINTS) that didn’t strike me as real. By the halfway mark I was thanking the author that the book was short and promising myself that I would finish it on principle alone (I hate not finishing books). And though the plot began interesting and new, by the end it was following every ChickLit’s go-to plot. I was frustrated when I finished it because I could still remember how great I thought it would be.

3) Burn for Burnby Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

This book was actually pretty good. The plot was interesting and the characters were well done. But as a story told from three points of view in alternating chapters, with each character interacting with the same cast of characters as the others but in slightly different ways, it just got hard to keep track of. And near the end, the book swayed from straight-up contemporary romance into paranormal, something I didn’t expect. This threw me off and left me wondering what type of book I was reading. Some authors can to this and I follow blindly, because the plot makes sense. But this one didn’t. I still want to read the second book in the series (Fire with Fire), but I probably won’t get around to it for a while, especially because I will have to reread book one to remember all the subtle character interactions. If that sort of plot is your thing, go for it. But it just didn’t work for me.

It might seem like from this post that I just don’t like ChickLit (AKA contemporary romances) in general. But I really to. They are one of my guilty pleasures. But once you’ve read as many as I have, you get tired of the same old plot, wishing authors would break out of it and do something to surprise you. A few that did this were: The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik, Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle, and The Distance Between Us by Kasie West. Check them out.

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

There aren’t enough words for the emotions this one book makes you feel. It is historical fiction, written in the form of a European spy’s confession to her captors in Nazi-occupied France, during WWII. Though the book starts a little slow, stick with it. The characters are beautifully painted. The plot is heart-wrenching and (once you get into it) fast-paced. It has voice, something I always want from books, that feeling that the person telling you the story is real, and quirky. It will make you laugh while you’re weeping and then break down into sobs again. Wien does an amazing job with her research, infusing the pages with accurate historical information without making the reader feel like you’re in a history lecture. Usually, I don’t go for historical fiction, but this one was incredible. Don’t shy away from it because you’ve avoided the genre in the past. This book will renew your faith in historical fiction.

 

2014 so far

To get this blog started I thought I would jot down a list of all the books I’ve read so far this year. Reviews and comments on these books will come as I write them. The list is basically in the order I read them, adjusted so that books of the same series are together.

Burn for Burn — Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

When the World was Flat (and We Were in Love) —  Ingrid Johach

More Than This —  Patrick Ness

The Darkest Minds —  Alexandra Bracken

Out of The Easy — Ruta Sepetys

The King of Attolia — Megan Whalen Turner

Blackbirds — Chuck Wendig (book 1)

Mockingbird — Chuck Wendig (book 2)

The Cormorant — Chuck Wendig (book 3)

Under the Never Sky — Veronica Rossi (book 1)

Through the Ever Night —  Veronica Rossi (book 2)

Into the Still Blue — Veronica Rossi (book 3)

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown — Holly Black

Cinder — Marissa Meyer

Daughter of Smoke & Bone — Laini Taylor (book 1)

Days of Blood & Starlight — Laini Taylor (book 2)

Exposed — Susan Vaught

First Comes Love — Katie Kacvinsky

Code Name Verity — Elizabeth Wein

Gameboard of the Gods — Richelle Mead

 

If you’ve heard of any of these books, you know one thing: I don’t stick to a certain genre. Just on this list alone I have historical fiction, contemporary romance (or as I call it Chick Lit), paranormal romance (hold in the shudders, this is better than Twilight), dystopian, cyberpunk, and a lot of things that don’t nicely fit into genres. Sometimes I get in the mood for one thing, but usually it changes every book I read. This blog won’t just be about one genre of literature, though most of it will be YA (young adult).

A few shoutouts before I write up reviews: More Than This is amazing; Code Name Veritywill make you laugh and weep; and the Laini Taylor books are gorgeous works.

 

So that was 2014 January-March. Only nine more months to go!