Saturday, July 31, 2010

Please Don't Be A Creeper

I was blog surfing the other day and came across a few different people complaining about agents. How mean agents are and how it's impossible for the 'little man' to break into publishing. How agents are rigged and fixed and will only work for people that they know personally.
I don't have an agent, but the whole argument came off as, well, stupid.
How many people have broken into publishing through slush? Um, hello, Stephanie Meyer. Hi, JK Rowling. Weren't you plucked from the slush?
The way I see it, agents possess a difficult job. They have to pick people, not just because of talent, but because they love the story. And look at your book shelf. There are great stories there, right? But out of dozens of stories, which ones did you love enough that you would stake your job on it?
It frustrates me that people can't see it through agent's eyes. So, because I am out of ideas for a post I am epic, I'm going to break it down.
Being an agent, it seems, is like being constantly hit on. And the would be clients -- that would be us, folks -- are the boys (or girls, if that's your thing, but for this purpose, we're going with boys) that are stepping up to the bat, putting their guts on the line, and flirting.
*I am obviously not an agent. However, as someone who would like an agent, I know it can be depressing to be going through the whole ordeal and maybe this will be cheering*

Boy One: The Creeper

This is the least likeable kind of guy and what most agents would probably classify as an auto reject. These are the boys that are either rude or weird. And not good weird. This includes;
A) The guy that randomly comes up to you in the library and asks to sit with you. He ignores the fact you are with your mother. He ignores the fact that you are ignoring him. He then insults the librarian and the library itself, and therefor pisses you (Oh, and 'you' means 'me') off really badly because you like the librarian and the librarians. (Exempting the one that gives you an evil look every time you walk up to her.)
Seriously, how can you not like this??
Now you're angry. And so, you, as the girl, leave.
This is the writer you do not want to be. Do not ignore the agent's obvious words and rules. Do not approach them at stupid times or through stupid ways. And don't insult people. It's annoying and rude. This also includes the freaky drunks that hit on you and the ones with really bad pick up lines.
Don't be a Creeper. Please. I love all you readers so, and I can't love you if you're a creeper.

Boy 2: The Almost, Maybe, and Someday

You know them. It's the saddest of all the boys, and all the clients, too. (Again, so not an agent over here. But I think a lot of us do fall into this category.)
This might be the cute senior who's supposed to be timing your debate round, but instead adds his phone number into your cell. It's the the guy with the witty banter and raised eyebrows in the middle of class. It's the dude with glasses who offers to buy you coffee while you're waiting for your sister.
No matter how much this appeals to your ego, you just . . . really aren't that interested. The boy might have distracted you during the round, but when you talked later, well, it didn't work. When the guy tells you how smart you are, your ego shines, but this really isn't your thing. And no matter how good the coffee looks -- and believe me, it looks great --
--it isn't gonna happen.
You want to like this person. Maybe you even do kind of like them. You might go on a date, or you might want to ask for a partial. You think about it, definately. But there's some other reason why this can't work.
So many writers fall into this. Now, this doesn't mean there isn't a problem, and unlike the poor guy, you can maybe fix  your problem. (Not enough plot, too dark, too long.) But sometimes? You just have to keep trying. You've got good aspects. You have witty banter and coffee and good hair. So keep it up! It's gonna happen.
And that leads to type three.

Boy Three: The YES NOW

This is the pretty boy. The smart boy. The boy that you look at, or listen to, the boy you have dreamed of, and the boy that finally knocks on your door. And there is no acting coy. Instead, it is a direct YES.

You thought it would be Alex Pettyfer, didn't you? Silly reader.
Now, as the writer, we all want to be that yes. We want to get the chance. But still, even if we writers have groomed and cleaned and basically made ourselves into the version of Ben Barnes the Queryer, this doesn't mean that you are going to marry the agent. You've gotten their attention. You've gotten a partial, and now you've sent a full. And unlike a relationship, if the agent says 'I don't like this; can you change it?' you do have that opportunity.
But think. It isn't just that you're pretty or smart. It's the agent's taste. Relationships take time to foster. They're hard. And not everyone is ready to date, and even if you are, maybe you aren't right for a specific person. The really cute guy may be enough to date for a while, to dream about occasionally, but you don't want to marry him.
As the writer, you will only have one agent (At least, at first) and you need to make sure that agent is the right one. But they need to make sure you're right for them, too. We research agents we love and hope they like us back, or like our story, but it can't always happen. In fact, it often won't.
Next time you feel down or get sad, think about the last random guy you met. Would you have dated him? What if he wanted to date you? If it's a no, then be a little more sympathetic to the agent, okay? 
And if it's a yes . . . then why are you sitting here reading my blog? If you have to guts to be a writer, you have the guts to go talk to him. (Unless you aren't wearing make up or something. You wouldn't send your story out without nouns. You don't have to talk to a guy without mascara or clean hair if you don't want to.)

Friday, July 30, 2010


I'm late to the game. Maggie already posted about this. However, I think it's cool, so I'm posting it again.
(Please don't sue me.)
This is a contest that does some pretty serious stuff and it's got some pretty serious prizes. It works with Joy To The World and helps women and children and -- well, basically, it's awesome, and I'm really bad at explaining.
 I can't really say much more than that -- they explain it way better than I do --but I suggest you go and check it out.
It's here. And it's over pretty fast, so hop to it!
(And I know, I'm breaking my two posts thing. It's tacky and annoying. But it's for a good cause.)
Foreign Friday is below. 

Foreign Friday: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (And kinda Shiver)

So you guys liked the idea of Foreign Friday! YAY! -does happy dance-
What's that? Are you accusing me of just liking the idea of an easy post?
...I am ASHAMED that you would think that. -huffs-
-shifty eyes-
Anyway. You have no idea how enthralled I am by other countries versions of The Dark Evil Website (AKA Amazon) and how many hours I've spent fluttering through the pages. (Well. Hour. My internet only came back to life an hour ago.)
Anyway again.
Today I am showing you the many faces of LINGER! By the fabulous Maggie Stiefvater!
I have a soft spot for Maggie Stiefvater. She did a Skype chat at my library and I've kind of been in author love with her ever since. She's seriously hilarious and aggravatingly adorable. And Linger? Um, okay. Here's my review.
(I realize capitol letters are extreme. That's okay. Because this book is SO WORTH IT.)
Don't get me wrong. I liked Shiver.
I loved Linger.
It's told in four voices and I loved every single one. I liked Grace and I felt that she had perhaps the most realistic parents that I'd seen. (For her particular depiction, I mean.) I kinda think Sam is amazing, though it disturbs me that we share the same name. I loved Cole. And Isabel is just kick butt.
I cried, even though I saw the end coming.
I sat and marveled at how beautiful the writing is, and then marveled at how it could still be so pretty and yet move so fluidly.
But before I show you all the Linger covers, I'm going to cheat and show you a Shiver cover. And it's my blog. So don't judge me for cheating. This cover? Yeah, the German cover for Shiver. And HOLY CRAP.
     German edtion of Shiver by Telltale Crumbs.
-stares with extreme jealousy- -debates moving to Germany-
Oh, wait. I don't speak German. 
Well. That stinks. I guess I'll just have to move on. 
Onto Linger, the book I actually meant to do. Yay!
This is the Italian cover of Linger. It's pretty and pink and very different than the others. But I'm weirdly fond of it. It does make it look as if told from one of the girl's point of view purely though.
Italian edtiion of Linger
This is the United Kingdom version of Linger. Actually, I'm really fond of that one too. It kind of conveys 
the dark side of the novel, and there's something . . . like, edgy about it.
Also, I am now aware that Shiver was voted Best Book To Curl Up With by Glamour Magazine. 
See, I would agree. But now I've read Linger.

However, since it is so new, those are the only covers I could find. Sorry, sorry! I promise, next week I'll try and find a book with more covers. For now, I'm gonna be lame and post a few of Shiver's. I wouldn't, but there really are some beautiful covers.
(But I wanted to tell you how much I love Linger. Don't judge me. Please.)
French Shiver Frisson Cover
This is French. And obviously, French people rock. Not just in the Stephanie Perkins upcoming book. But in this cover as well. Behind the German cover, this is my favorite.
-now debating becoming French-
(I've heard the boys are cute. Plus, the food is supposed to be good. Ooh, and I've always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower.)
Wait. I'm taking Spanish. Crap.
So I need to learn German. And French. Oh, and Bulgarian.
Bulgarian, you say? Why, Sam, why would you need to learn that?
Bulgarian edition of SHIVER
Why, because of that cover!
And now I've spent half the post on Shiver.
Sorry. I didn't mean to. But they're all so pretty!
And I promise, if you haven't read Linger yet, you should.
Because seriously? It is as amazing as that French cover and German cover combined.
What about you? What's your favorite? Have you read Linger? 
Wasn't it AWESOME?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

We are all aware that I like Kody Keplinger. She was awesome enough to do an interview with me here and I was lucky enough to get an ARC of the Duff because I have an awesome librarian. 
And without further ado, my review. And also, in case you are wondering, I am now also a poet.
Release Date: September 7th 2010
Amazon Description:
Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
My Review:
Um, Wesley was hot.
Oh, wait. You want an actual review.
Okay, fine. The Duff was honest. Bianca is cynical and a tad crazy and totally hard core, but she's also flawed and going through a ton of bad stuff with her family. So she turns to Wesley.
I mentioned he's hot, right?
Yeah, well, he's also kind of an a$$hole. For one thing, I immediately had an issue with him calling Bianca a Duff. Why, I wonder, is the author doing this? There is no way I'm gonna like this guy. It's just not gonna happen. I was wrong. I did end up liking Wesley. As his character developed, and actually, as you got to see him through the eyes of his family, I started to like him more and more. 
Kody Keplinger does not shy away from language or sex. So, um, if you have a problem with either, this may not be the book for you. But it is honest. I mean, kids curse. -GASP I KNOW OMG- And Bianca's voice is great. If I'd brought this book to school, there would have been a problem. Math teacher say what? I'm sorry, teacher, I was too busy reading about hot guys ummm the dangers of bubble gum. Yeah. That.
(Not a joke. You should have heard the excuse for Hunger Games.) 
So, yeah, that's high praise. 
The only issue I actually had was with the politics -- literally -- in the book. Not because I disagreed with Bianca's political views -- actually, she has the same ones I possess -- but because I know several friends that would get kinda pissy should I recommend it. Not because of the cursing or the sex, but the politics. (Dude, I know. How weird is that? I live in the bible belt though; politics are way touchier around here.) 
However, it really isn't that big of a deal. Most people I know could rise above it. The Duff was funny and cute and kind of left me with an Awwwww feeling at the end. 
It was a fast read (it took me about an hour and a half total) but definitely worth the time. Seriously, as soon as it comes out, go grab it.
I promise you, it's worth it. Wesley really is pretty cute.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Books I Desperately Want

So summer has set in. The air is hot and sticky and in the midwest, walking outside feels like walking into a tea kettle - warm and somewhat nasty. I love sleeping in and all, but enough is enough. I keep finding myself eying the sky outside (because I am so not going out in this nastiness) and asking the sun to shine a little less brightly.
It doesn't ever end well. The sun gets angry and calls me spoiled. I tell it that nobody likes it and this is why I would rather be up in the wee hours of the morning than at noon. And then I realize I'm arguing with a flaming ball of gas and contemplate perhaps sleeping in those wee hours instead of blogging.
-eyes clock- Eh. 
There's something very dangerous about these wee hours. For instance, when a random number starts texting you, you go and lock your windows and door and pull the blood hound into your room just in case it ends up being Creepy Stalker Person. And then there's the internet. As summer swells around me and I decide I'm not going to be a healthy teenager who spends her time outside, I am on the internet more. The dangerous, dark internet -- dangerous and dark because of one website.
Because of this website, I'm now desperately in love with several books. And I want them. Badly. Now. A lot.
For instance, have you seen Richelle Mead's latest cover? Oh my god, it is beautiful. Her last book had me in panic attacks because of the cliff hanger, and the cover to the next is giving me complex's before the dang thing is even out.

And I want this one. I loved the first. I love the author. And I love, love, love, love this cover. From the font to the butterflies to the girl's eyes, it's just perfect. 

OH. And this? DUDE. Did you know that Rick Riordan, AKA One Of The Best Authors Ever, is putting out another book? And did you know that it's set in Camp Half Blood? Because I didn't know that, and now I'm ready to go and find my freaking time machine so I can read it. 

Then there's this one. I've been eying it for a long time because of Maggie Stiefvater and Tessa Gratton. It looks SO cool. And I actually have an author interview lined up. I literally shrieked when she said yes. 

And this one. Because the author is amazing and wonderful and because Rick Riordan (see his description above) blurbed it and because I keep reading all these great reviews.

Nightshade City

That's not all I want, but those are the hits. This dark dangerous website should get in trouble for getting a girl all excited.
And now, since blogger has eaten this post TWICE and I've rewritten it TWICE (it was better the first time) I am sufficiently tired.
-eyes Amazon- -eyes clock- -wonders how pleasant to be around I'm gonna be tomorrow morning-
Yeah. If I want my parents and sister to still love me, I better get some sleep. I tend to be rather . . . what's the word they used? Oh yeah -- evil . .  . when I don't sleep.
More later.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Foreign Cover Friday? Maybe?

Okay, so I like foreign covers. That was established a while back, here. And covers from different countries still enthrall me. So I've been wondering about doing a weekly installment (because, ahem, I think it would be easier if I had at least one weekly post) with a mini book review, along with the different covers for a book. I'll put the cover from the United States for those of you who are cool enough to live somewhere else (not that I don't love the U.S., but seeing as it's all I've ever known . . .) Plus, now I can do reviews for books that I love but never got around to reviewing.
Anyway, I'll do at least this week. If you think it's a good idea, tell me, please!
Up for today: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore.

I bet a lot of you have read this book. It goes back to the days of hard fantasy, but it has a twist of a kind of modern idea. I think the American cover is really good at showing that. The modern idea is called 'Graces' -- special talents the some people posses. Some of these people can cook. Some of these people can tell fantastic stories. But Katsa? Katsa's got the Grace to kill.
And quite honestly? She's kinda bad a$$. Just saying.         The cover to the left of this sentence is the United Kingdom, Australian, and New Zealand cover, and I think it probably reflects her bada$$-ness best.                                          It's haunting and pretty and probably a little bit more modern than some of the others.                                                     The cover on the right is Finnish. And WOW that doesn't look like something I would necessarily see in Borders, which is kind of cool. It's almost like an old painting you would see, and I like the background -- it reflects the story in an amazing way.
And then there's the other cover, the one on the left. 
It doesn't even look like the same book! It's Portuguese. And the one on the right? Well, can you guess? 
Yup. Chinese.
That definitely doesn't look like the same book. 
I would guess that she's a sorcerer or a fairy or something. And there is so not anything wrong with fairies. 
And . . . That's it! Well, that isn't it, but I figure four is probably enough. I might come back to this one later -- Kristin Cashore is amazing about keeping them all in one spot.
So what do you think? Keep doing this? Or let it die?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

(See! I promised I would do a book that isn't a sequel!)
Release Date: September 7, 2010

Amazon Description: 
Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school, and the two girls become as close as sisters . . . until Mallory's magnetic older brother, Ryland, shows up during their junior year. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe; but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.
Soon she'll discover the shocking truth about Ryland and Mallory: that these two are visitors from the faerie realm who have come to collect on an age-old debt. Generations ago, the faerie queen promised Pheobe's ancestor five extraordinary sons in exchange for the sacrifice of one ordinary female heir. But in hundreds of years there hasnÕt been a single ordinary girl in the family, and now the faeries are dying. Could Phoebe be the first ordinary one? Could she save the faeries, or is she special enough to save herself?

What I think:
First off, this picture doesn't do the real cover justice. 
It's beautiful. It's eye catching and shiny and kind of entrancing. Which, by the by, is a good way to describe Extraordinary.
Nancy Werlin writes fluidly. You don't really notice that you're halfway through the story until you glance down at the page number. She doesn't overstuff her pages with flowery words or phrases, but there's still something beautiful about it all the same.
It was interesting to me, though, about her characters. I ended up loving Phoebe's mom. I even liked Mallory, Phoebe's best friend. The only character that I wasn't so fond of was the main character herself.
Which, actually, wasn't such a bad thing.
Through the entire story, I found myself thinking 'Come on, girl, get a grip.' You know how you scream at the horror movie? Yeah, that's kind of what I was doing to Phoebe. And yet I didn't want to stop  reading. I've seen a couple of people saying that they disliked the ending to this novel; I completely disagree.
See, it goes back to me not being so fond of Phoebe. The ending changed that opinion. You watch her grow and gain something that she's never had before; a backbone, a sense of self esteem, courage, pride, and a realization that maybe, it's okay NOT to be as extraordinary as they come.
And in the end, I really liked that. I finished the book with a kind of pleased feeling about how it all turned out.
Phoebe isn't an Amazon warrior, or a wizard, or a shadow hunter, or really anything super duper important. But watching her realize why she still does matter is, in a way, kind of uplifting. So many kids feel the same way as Phoebe that it was nice seeing a realistic painting of her scenario (you know, minus the fairies) and getting a kind of happy ending.
Oddly enough, I loved Mallory, the somewhat corrupted best friend. You get to see her point of view throughout the story in snatches of conversation between herself and the Queen of the Fey.
She, like Phoebe, changes and develops through the story and that was fun to watch.
The descriptions of the Fey and of the growing characters made the story worth reading. Plus, you know, the really, really pretty cover.
More later.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mock me not

I don't particularly consider myself a coward.
I have flung myself off of a thirty foot cliff into freezing water. I have held a snake, even though they terrify me more than the idea of Justin Bieber as Peeta. I've climbed a tree and jumped into the water below. When I fell off the first time, I made myself jump a second. (See this thing about jumping? Apparently it's popular.) I frequently stand up in front of crowded rooms and give speeches about politics in countries I've barely heard of for debate, and I don't really have a problem with arguing to get what I want. Haunted houses are fun and corn mazes full of costumed men with chainsaws are the highlight of October. And I've sent out my story, my baby, had to rip it pieces and tear it to shreds, and I'm willing to do it again.
But, um. We all have limits, right?
For instance. Yesterday, my sister and her friend decided they want to go ziplining. Now, this friend has been around for a long time. I've spent a lot of time with her and I'm actually quite fond of her. However, she has this annoying thing where she says that, if I don't want to do something, I'm a coward. I'm no fun. (I'm talking about not wanting to go to the movies, by the by, not bungee jumping or parachuting from a plane.) 
So when they asked if I wanted to go, my pride demanded that I say yes. And so the night began.
It went like this: 
I climb up a rickety, spiraling ladder at ten at night, because yes, my sister and her friend decided that zipping through the forest would be more fun when you can't see where you are going. 
Yup. Look up in those trees. Now imagine a thin wire. And screaming. And midnight. You will be looking at last night. 
The 18 year old guides informs me that many people often get stuck in the middle of the line and have to pull themselves backwards to the platform. By their arms.
At this point, I'm eying the line. It's awfully thin. And we're going to be going awfully fast. And then I'm looking at my arms. There's no way I can pull myself fifty feet with only their power. No freaking way.
My sister's friend is now watching me with unholy glee. She's just waiting for me to back down. They would have ammo on me for months if I decide I'm too scared, so I let the 18 year old guide click me into a harness.
I ask him if this is safe. If I'm going to get stuck. If it's scary. Reassurance would have been great right then, especially since he was a tall, cute guy. If he informed me that it would be okay, I would nod and smile and decide that a boy that cute would not lie. 
He blinks at me for a moment then rolls his eyes. "Dude," he says. "You ask a lot of questions."
Yes. That was it. No answer. The boy promptly lost twelve degrees of attractive.
People start zipping away. One of them flips over and zips along screaming, upside down.
Oh, good, I think. Sister and friend will have ammo for the rest of my LIFE if that happens.
Friend, me, and the guide are now the only ones left. Sister is zipping away. She grabs the line wrong and jerks her arm. At least I have some ammo too. Friend gives me an evil grin. 
I look at the ground. I look at the freaking skinny little wire and decide that next time, I am so not eating lunch. Lunch is evil. Lunch is ugly and evil and I am so going to die--
and at that point, I figured I should just jump off.
And I didn't die. I didn't flip over (because, ahem, I'm smart and actually listen to the guide) and I didn't even hit a tree.
Wanna know something funny?
It wasn't scary. At all.
You move at over 50 miles an hour and have to stop yourself with your hands. You are in a small harness and you have to walk over bridges made of rope. You twist and you turn and if you are my sister, you get smacked in the face by a tree. But it isn't all that terrifying. Jumping off a cliff is way, way scarier, even though it's thirty feet shorter. 
Who knew? 
Moral of the day: sometimes, you just have to do something that scares you. Not because it'll make you a better person, necessarily, like they tell you in school, but because it's fun. And if you didn't try, then you'd never know.
Plus, you would totally be mocked for the rest of your life. 
Also, the best way to get me to do something is to appeal to my pride. Just saying.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Exiled Queen, by Cinda Williams Chima

Because I have the best librarian ever, I got to read this book early. (And yes, it is a sequel. I'm sorry, please don't stab me. Just think, this gives you time to go read the first one! And then you don't have to wait! So go read The Demon King, if you haven't already.)
And yes. You do indeed need to go read the first one.
If you already have, well, I just finished the Exiled Queen. 
So here we go.

Release Date: September 28, 2010

Amazon Review Thingy: (As always, this will have mild spoilers. I do not have the power to control Amazon. I apologize.)

Haunted by the loss of his mother and sister, Han Alister journeys south to begin his schooling at Mystwerk House in Oden’s Ford.   But leaving the Fells doesn’t mean danger isn’t far behind.  Han is hunted every step of the way by the Bayars, a powerful wizarding family set on reclaiming the amulet Han stole from them.  And Mystwerk House has dangers of its own.  There, Han meets Crow, a mysterious wizard who agrees to tutor Han in the darker parts of sorcery—but the bargain they make is one Han may regret.

Meanwhile, Princess Raisa 
ana’Marianna runs from a forced marriage in the Fells, accompanied by her friend Amon and his triple of cadets.  Now, the safest place for Raisa is Wein House, the military academy at Oden's Ford.  If Raisa can pass as a regular student, Wein House will offer both sanctuary and the education Raisa needs to succeed as the next Gray Wolf queen.  

The Exiled Queen is an epic tale of uncertain friendships, cut-throat politics, and the irresistible power of attraction.   

My review:

I like Cinda Wiliams Chima. Her previous books had her on my 'will watch with eagle eye' list. But the Seven Realm novels have landed her smack dab in the middle of my 'need to cyber stalk write like her' list.

See, I like huge fantasy books, but I do agree, some of them can get dull. I didn't have that problem with this one. Instead of focusing on ornate descriptions and oodles and bunches of fantastical creatures, The Exiled Queen is full of characters that I love. While the plot is great and the writing is superb, it was the characters that really made this novel. 
Raisa, the princess, is not the typical fluff ball. However, she isn't the now-typical 'I am a warrior princess' either. She's brave and flawed and stubborn and smart. Oh, and she really has this issue with kissing boys she shouldn't be kissing. 
And speaking of that . . .
Let's just talk about Han, the main male character. Because, generally, fantasy novels do have great guys. But they aren't always crush worthy.
Yeah . . .
Han is. A reformed thief who can cheat at cards or slit a throat, Han is now becoming a magician. And through the whole book, even when I wasn't busy thinking Why are there no reformed thief-now-magician boys in my high school? I just liked him. 
The villians are believable. And the support characters are just as fleshed out as the main ones. You want to be the friend of Dancer, Han's closest comrade, and you laugh as Raisa's roommates try and set her up.
Sequels are not always so hot. But honestly, I liked The Exiled Queen more than the previous novel. (Oddly, a pattern that seems to be repeating itself -- I liked Linger more than Shiver, Catching Fire more than Hunger Games, and now The Exiled Queen more than The Demon King.)
Still, the first is definitely good. I'm not saying that it isn't. I'm just saying that I think the second falls more into the 'Fantabulous' category. Cinda Williams Chima took on a subject that many people totally couldn't. It would have been easy for this to fall flat, or to bore me, but it didn't. I was too busy falling in love with the characters.
And now I want the next one, which is unfortunate since the second hasn't even come out yet.
-waits a little longer-
Where, oh where, did my stupid time machine disappear to?!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why the Dark Side Is Necessary

Everyone likes being told that they're good at something. I mean, sure, sometimes we get a little nugget of self deprecating hatred that chants NO STOP TELLING ME I AM AWESOME AND LET ME BE EMO. But generally? We glow. We primp. We bounce and dance and think YAY.
And things are good. You're in the middle of a land with purple skies and cute boys and there might even be some really cute, cuddly animals. Every piece of praise sends you a little deeper inside of it.
But. Somewhere, off in the glowy, sparkly distance of praise, you will find a thin, glittering line.
And once the praise pushes you past that line, the skies get a little bit darker. The boys aren't quite so cute. Those cute little animals suddenly have really freaking sharp teeth and they are totally willing to bite into your leg and possibly try and eat it.
You have just passed the line from the world of 'I am Awesome' to the illustrious land of 'Oh, crap.'
Suddenly, you realize that you have problems.
Your pretty story? Yeah. There's a plot hole. A big one.
But no one noticed.
Or if they did, they were too nice to really say anything about it.
And that, you realize, is a big, big problem. If you have been gathering glittering praise, then you would think that someone, somewhere would have hit you with a big pile of muck. They would have had to. But . . . you can't remember that. You're too busy living in the glitter world -- but your story isn't glittery yet.
You've been taking bad advice; advice that tells you that you are perfect.
Because come on. Unless you look like Alex Pettyfer and have the brain of Einstein and the social skills of Oprah, you probably are not perfect.
(Why, yes. I did see the need to give you visual aid. Don't you just love that about me?)
A while ago, I helped edit someone's story. This person informed me that he wanted my honest opinion; I was told to write my good thoughts in green and my bad thoughts in blue. I was told not to use all green because surely, somewhere, I could find a couple of flaws. Out of annoyance of being bossed around, I used purple.
And I was mean. I edited and ripped and tossed my friend into the 'Oh Crap' land.
But here's the thing;
You have to be able to live in both worlds. And you need to be able to handle that.
I think we all need to live in the land of 'Oh, Crap' at least a couple of times. We NEED someone to shove us into it. We need to see those stormy skies and pray we don't get hit by lightning and despair because our hair is now ruined for the day. But most of all, we need to find the strength to pull ourselves out of that world.
I was on Inkpop, as a lot of you know, and got my story into the Top 5. I know,  that doesn't seem like that big of a deal -- but it meant a ton to me -- and that was a world that can easily toss you onto either side of the glittering line. But as you start to  climb higher, and as you start to gain more and more 'status' (and I hate saying it like that, but it is weirdly true; people are much nicer now that I have a star by my name) and people start to get afraid to tick you off. They tend not to tell you when you're writing crap.
And so you don't get to grow. You are stuck in the glitter. And while it's a pretty place to be, what with all those hot guys (or girls, if that's your thing), you aren't ever going to grow there.
I guess it's the purpose for beta readers. But more than that, it's the importance of having someone who isn't afraid to knock you on your butt.
You need to become aquainted with the flying and glittering and shimmering world of Pretty. But you need to know the other side too. If you don't, than your ego starts to build and build and build and you won't be able to listen to any knocking-on-butt advice. The friend I edited for? They stopped writing. They said that they had realized they just were never going to get better.
And that is so not cool.
They'd gotten too accustomed to the sparkly world. The emo one was too much after being so firmly lodged in the glitter. And . . . well. That sucks. It sucks because everyone is not that hot a writer when they start out (except for freaking Maggie, who has been funny and smarmy from the first freaking document she sent me) and you have to, just have to, be able so see that someday, you will get to the glittery world. And you have to see that you can get there, that it's possible, and that if you sweat and bleed and drink a lotlotlot of bad-for-you-but-heavily-caffeinated drinks, you can get better at writing. It takes time, and since writers are naturally self deprecating folk, that can be hard. But you can't give up when you see the coming storm.
 But, on the other hand, you need to see that storm. If you haven't been pelted with its obnoxious rain of evil, you won't understand just how awesome the pretty drizzly stuff in the glitter world is.
I mean, how can you understand how pretty Alex Pettyfer is without having seen the trolls? The ones with big green fingers and huge noses and eyes like rotten oranges? And it'll make you like the cute little animal a ton more when you realize that it doesn't have razor sharp teeth.
Plus, just think about this; when you've clawed your way back over the glittering line, you'll have a story that totally deserves to live in a sparkly world.
Things become more valuable when you have to fight to obtain them. I've been residing in dark emo land for the past few days, staring at Altered and thinking ohmygodmyprettystoryjustturnedbackintoaroughdraft. And it is not a pretty world. I have been so used to getting good comments about it that when I got the revision letter tearing it to shreds, I felt like someone had smacked me. But it was kind of a good feeling; like, okay, the praise means twice as much because obviously they don't have a problem pointing out the bad stuff. If I can pull this off, then maybe, I think, it'll be okay to reside in the glitter world for a little while; after all, I've seen the other side.
(Dude, that felt cheesy.)
What think you?
More later.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sapphique, by Catherine Fisher

See? I told you! I told you I would do a book review!
Anyway. Sapphique is the sequel to Incarceron, so this might not be that helpful if you haven't read the first. And while I will try and keep this spoiler free, it's hard to talk about the second without brushing over parts of the first. (The Amazon description, coming up, ruins it.)
However. Because Sarah (AKA GreenBeanTeenQueen) (AKA Most Awesome Fantabulous Adult-like Person That I Know) (Adult-like being a compliment as is in she doesn't treat me like an idjit because I'm 16) is fantabulous and awesome, she got an advanced copy of Sapphique and I promised a review, like, a week ago.
(Please don't hate me. I'm sorry. Very sorry. So sorry!)
So, before I can further stick my cyber foot into my cyber mouth, I'm getting on with the review. Continuing now.

Sapphique, By Catherine Fisher
 Release Date in United States: December 28, 2010
(It's already out in the UK)

 Finn has escaped from the terrible living Prison of Incarceron, but its memory torments him, because his brother Keiro is still inside. Outside, Claudia insists he must be king, but Finn doubts even his own identity. Is he the lost prince Giles? Or are his memories no more than another construct of his imprisonment? And can you be free if your friends are still captive? Can you be free if your world is frozen in time? Can you be free if you don't even know who you are? Inside Incarceron, has the crazy sorcerer Rix really found the Glove of Sapphique, the only man the Prison ever loved. Sapphique, whose image fires Incarceron with the desire to escape its own nature. If Keiro steals the glove, will he bring destruction to the world? Inside. Outside. All seeking freedom. Like Sapphique.

What I have to say (because, dude, that's so obviously important) 
Catherine Fisher's world is intriguing. She's got it chocked full of details and lots of steampunkish elements that had me captivated the entire way through; despite being heavy on that, though, she never dragged when telling the story. Sapphique, actually, moved much faster than Incareceron, and while I found myself skimming large blocks of text in the first book, I didn't have the same problem with the second.
Incarceron, the prison, is starting to change. The outside world's illusions are starting to fade. Outside, Claudia, the daughter of Incarceron's Warden, is looking for a way to try and save both worlds. Finn, the presumed prince of the outside, has to face charges of being an imposter, even though he himself isn't quite sure. The two are searching for a way to save their own lives, but they aren't just facing their own deaths; they're looking at the destruction of their world. Inside of the Prison, Keiro, Finn's 'brother' (comrade, fellow soldier, best friend) joins up with Attia, a former slave, and they're desperately searching for a way out. Keiro, to me, was probably the most interesting character; he's kind of insane and kind of violent and to me that makes him kind of sort of awesome. (Shut up. I like violent warrior guys with issues. Don't mock me.
 -sticks out tongue-)
There's a lot going on in the book, but it all ties together extremely well. By the end, I was excited to continue, turning pages with ninja speed, and admiring how the threads all started to join. The plot is complex and could have easily, very easily, become somewhat cliche, but Ms. Fisher obviously knew what she was doing, because she skirts around ever crossing the line.
Her writing is insanely beautiful, overflowing with awesome descriptions of sought after stars and dangerous dreams, vicious monsters and crumbling ruins, reminding me of old fashioned fantasy novels but mixing in a more modern style of steampunk as she tells us about half human, half metal creatures. 
And all of that is enough to make this a great book. 
And this was a big however for me,
Sapphique is the end. 
Now, normally, I don't like posting negative things about books, but that's generally because I don't believe in bashing people's work. This isn't bashing the work; this is me disagreeing with the end.
It's got a great ending, don't get me wrong. But throughout the entire book, I was kind of feeling like Sapphique was a great second part of a trilogy. Very rarely will you find me advocating for tons of books in a series, but I felt like Ms. Fisher's world was definately up to another book. I had a glowing review ready, and then I checked out her website; there's not another book. 

This wouldn't really be that big of an issue, but for two reasons. One, there  are a lot of things left open in the end of the novel. I like open ended stories, but it really felt as if she was gearing up for a third book. That, I think, is mostly my problem; I can't guarantee you will feel the same way. However, there is a second reason that the lack of another book is bugging me; I feel like we aren't getting what we want from the characters.

For instance, there's a marriage being bandied about. I won't tell you much more than that, but by the end of the book, it's still clear that the marriage is planned. But the characters aren't even thinking about it. I commend Fisher for being able to write such a great book without a romance, BUT I think that characters need to at least be worried about the marriage, or considering it, or something more than they do. It made them less real to me; what teenager wouldn't be thinking about their future spouse, worrying, wondering if it's going to work, if they'll be able to do good things together? For me, it fell flat. 

The writing of this book is great, and the plot is incredible. Some of the characters just came off a tad . . . empty at times, which is why I wanted a third book. I feel like that really could have solidified them. I would still recommend the book; it's definitely worth the read. Plus, I'm kind of, um, character obsessed. 

There's a movie being optioned for Incarceron, something that I'm kind of excited about. The world Fisher creates is beautiful and haunting and awesome and definitely unique, and I would love to see it on the big screen. 

And that concludes my review.
I'm feeling somewhat boring.
It would probably be inappropriate to post a picture of a cute boy, wouldn't it? 
Hmm. Next time.

(Oh, on a random note, I feel the need to share this horror with you: I've been looking around the web for stuff on the Hunger Games movie, and for some reason, I've seen like five people who want Justin Bieber as Peeta. Nothing against Justin, but I do not see him as Peeta. Please, no. I am traumatized by that idea. Please be traumatized with me. 
Or, um, I guess you could tell me I'm stupid and Justin would be a great warrior sexy baker guy. If you really want to try and go there.)

More later.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'm feeling cool

I finished the bulk of my rewrites.
Now I have to edit.
And then edit again.
And then figure out how to find beta readers, edit, edit, edit, and THEN I will be done.
And dudddde. That is a scary thought.
I am sitting here, watching Harry Potter on ABC and reveling in my almost doneness. I like editing. I like being almost done. There is a finish line off in the distance. (For writing this particular story. It's really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.)
Anyway. I just felt the need to update since I totally wasn't expecting it to happen that fast. (As, um, you can see by yesterday's post.)
Of course, to reach true happiness, I need to pass my driver's test this week. -sigh- Somehow, I'm not feeling that.
Oh, great. Now I'm depressed.
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to stare at Rupert Grint instead of worrying about it
um, gonna go practice driving.
More later.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hard to Read

Hey, all.
I know.
I'm sorry.
I changed it.
And might be changing it again. But someone told me that while the black background was cool, it was hard on the eyes.
And I don't want to be hard on the eyes. That's why I wear makeup. So I'm putting new, blue makeup on my blog.
Plus, you know, making my own header. It really wasn't all that had and I felt lame using a premade one.
Sigh. Sorry. I'm so bad. My apologies. I've had this blog a year now (A YEAR OMG WOW) and it's probably seen like, ten different backgrounds. Or, um, fifteen.
-ducks head-
Sorry, as well, for the hiatus lately, and the picture posts (not the Harry Potter one as much. I love Harry Potter. And I would have posted that regardless.) But I'll have the promised book review up, promise. I've been rewriting Altered (under instruction from a veeeery reliable person) and it's eating my time. (I'm talking 'open-new-document-and-scrap-all-but-six-chapters' rewrite here. I have kept my friends and family loving me, but my reading time has been hacked.) It's been ten days, though, and I'm within 10k of being done.
So. I promise, as soon as that happens, I will become a good person again.
Stick with me, please. I just reached 50 followers and am so, so ecstatic about that. Thank you all, seriously. I know to a lot of you that seems like a puny number, but it excited me. But I'm just cool like that.
(Right, she asked desparetly? Cool?)
Anywho. More, real posts, later. I suggest looking at all the pretty Harry Potter pics below if you feel the need for substance.
More later. Soon.
I promise.
No, really. Don't roll your eyes! I mean it!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Love Of My Life (also known as Harry Potter)

I grew up in Hogwarts. Magic is my drug of choice (other than caffeine. And sugar. And my cell phone. And, um, boys...Okay, so . . . fine, I have a lot of so called drugs.)
However, this one is particularly fabulous.
Um, yeah. I'm ready for the 7th movie. I have loved Harry Potter from the first grade. I read the 5th on a flight to Hawaii, I stayed up until midnight to buy the 7th, and I have religiously watched the movies and read the books every year.
The truth is, people like say that I'm the generation of cell phones, laptops, and ipods. When I wear lip gloss and mascara, they say I'm the generation of Maybelline and America's Next Top Model and the Generation of Bad Esteem and Shoddy Morals (I didn't make that up, btw). I am Generation Y, Millennial GenerationGeneration Next and even part of the Echo Boomers. Dude, Wikipedia even defines my age group as the Peter Pan Generation. Recently, people classify 16 year old girls as the Twilight group. But before Twilight, and more important than labels that really don't mean anything, or the somewhat sad stigmas about makeup and appearance, there was Harry Potter. And honestly?
I think one of the most important labels of my childhood is Harry Potter. I am the generation that JK Rowling helped raise along side Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I grew up with the books, and I think they really did help shape me into who I am; an unashamed bibliophile.
I learned to care for book characters, even when they came to sad ends . . . .

and I have drooled over the movies . . . 

I remember before Edward even existed how cool Cedric Diggory was.

I learned that humor is key to a great book and great life

and that friends are the best things in the world.

I was shown that heroes don't have to be perfect for us to root for them.

I got my first book crush

and I learned that smart girls could be sexy too

and I watched as Harry Potter changed the literary world. Even as a little kid, I watched the bookshelves fill.
I can remember walking into a store at, like, eight, and found a pretty sparse collection. Three years later, it would be getting thicker. Six more, and the shelves of young adult would be overflowing. 
JK Rowling didn't give me my love for books, but she definitely enhanced it. These books have been part of my life back when I thought flirting was chasing boys around the playground, that gooey green nail polish was hard core, and before I knew I wanted to be an author.
Now, I realize you probably shouldn't chase boys, or let them chase you (especially when the boy is holding worms. You stop, glare at them, and inform them that worms are nasty and if they think they are going to come near you with slime hands, they are utterly deranged.) I write everyday. And I still think green nail polish is hardcore.
Part of me is really sad that Harry Potter is going to be over. But the other part sees it a little bit differently. Harry's going to be all grown up.
And so am I, Peter Pan Generation or no.
But just so you know, you are soooo not taking away my nail polish.
What about you? Did Harry Potter change your world, or was it Twilight? Was it the Matrix movies or Little Women  or Jane Austen? 
For me, I learned most of what I needed in those books. They taught me everything I talked about before, but they taught me something else, too. They showed me that, sometimes, you have to believe in magic.
More later.