Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Home, Home on the Range

I think a title like that requires antelope. Right? Antelope?
There we go. You're welcome.
So, I'm home! I'm home, and it's hot and humid, but there is vanilla coke and a queen size bed at my disposal. I am quite fond of this bed. In fact, so fond that I didn't leave it until 2 in the afternoon yesterday, and that was just to go watch Glee project.
(BTW, is anyone else watching that? Is anyone else cheering with all of their heart for Sam? Because I totally am.)

(That's a lie, actually. Part of my heart loves Damian.)
(These are important things, people. I promise. Someday, when the Apocalypse looms, you'll be sitting there wondering, 'Why did I not care more about a random reality tv show in which teenagers sing a lot?')
Anyway. I'm back from Alpha and oozing all sorts of advice. Not sure how to translate it to blog posting, though. 
Well. I think this was probably my favorite advice. It came from several authors at Alpha -- Ellen Kushner, Tamora Pierce, several of the staff. 
And it's quite simple.
Let your first draft suck.
No, really.
It needs to suck.
It will suck.
There is no doubt that your first draft is going to suck.
That doesn't matter, though. What matters is getting it down. You just have to finish It was something we talked about a lot -- a majority of people will never finish something they work on. Many people at Alpha had never finished anything. Finishing? Yeah. It's half the battle. 
Finishing turns you into THIS.
...What? Not bad a$$ enough?
This, then?
Fine. Finishing yours novel turns you into this. 
Yeah. You're welcome.
Anyway, writing makes you a soldier. Finishing makes you a warrior. Editing turns you into a general, and getting published means that you, My Dear, have won the war.
But first, you must become a cat with a melon on its head as Jane Yolen put it, "Just finish the damn book."
Anyway. More later. I'm going with Maggie to see MAGGIE STIEFVATER OMG this weekend, so yayness. Possibly some on that.
Also, there might be a little Tamora Pierce fangirling. 
Anyway. More later.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Help me, don't hammer me

Hello, my lovelies! So, I'm at Alpha and have been getting some really incredible advice. Today, Ellen Kushner is lecturing and gave a great speech on critiquing. 
I think you can see where this is going.
I'm going to pass some of it along. It involves a hammer. I could not find a good picture of a hammer, readers. I wanted one that sparkled and was possibly quite pink. Instead, I found this. 
Yeah. You're welcome. 
(I understand, though. The pink would have been much better.)
We're talking about how critique is not a time to show off. I've seen it -- I bet you have too. People try to show off, show that they are Very Awesome At Fixing Stories. Yet, instead of fixing, they just berate the writer and then the write goes into Emo Corner of Shame -- and, quite possibly, stops writing.
So. The point of critiquing?
That would be to help. 
Not to hammer.
(Even if the hammer is purple or pink or sparkly.)
As Ellen Kushner put it, "As a writer, when you critique someone else, you need to think ‘what do they need from me’ not ‘what can I do to them'".
The thing is -- as Ms. Kushner pointed out -- you take a first draft to a friend when you can't take it any further alone. You don't take a first draft to a friend so that they can be all UNICORNS AND SPARKLES AND DRAGONS OMG THIS IS AWESOME. You take it to them so that they can say 'Hey, I love the unicorns, and I thought the sparkles were really innovative, but I am not connecting with the dragons. They just aren't quite ugly enough."
And then you realize that, hey, your dragons look like this--
and you need some more fangs to get them here.
(And then you laugh, because the dragon does not stand a chance. It's totally gonna be purified and made to sparkle.)
She also pointed out that you learn more from critiquing than you do just from writing your own stories. You need to analyze, need to look at what works and what doesn't. First drafts are allowed to suck. They're sometimes supposed to suck. So you don't need someone meanly telling you what sucks, but instead how to improve and turn it from sucking to awesome.
♥ ~Welcome To My World~ ♥
We're going to pretend that my five hours of sleep are not starting to hit.
Just -- go look at the puppy. Or read Ellen Kushner's book. Or, hey -- go check out a friend's story. Pull out the carving tools and start playing with them, and just let the hammer alone.
That is all. More later.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This might be heaven

No, not Alpha, though I am at that and loving that. However, heaven requires a little bit more blankets. BUT. It is incredibly lovely and you all should apply if you are able because omg it's kind of sort of awesome and I'll talk about that more later.
For now.
There is a contest, and you should enter.
It is here on Myra McEntire's blog. If you are a long time follower of this blog, then you've seen my well documented obsession respect and insane love admiration for Ms. McEntire. If you have not, then here is an interview with her and here is a review of her book.
And she is going on tour.
And I cannot go.
But I am going to talk about it anyway, because you should go.
Beth Revis, Myra McEntire, and Victoria Schwab are going on tour in their home cities. Here is the link to Myra's page, talking about it.
Seriously, guys.
If you can, you should go and worship.
Just, you know, because.
Anyway, more later. Probably about Tamora Pierce and my love for her.
Because, you know, why not?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Release Date: September 5th, 2011

Amazon Says:
Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention.

Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. And Lissa never sees her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling, coming.

I say:
Kody Keplinger is awesome. She did an interview with me last year and is incredibly cool. Her agent is awesome, she has a great blog, and she's really young.
That said, I'm not sure how much I loved The Duff. It was a good, easy read, but not necessarily my favorite sort of book.
Shut Out, however?
Totally my favorite kind of book.
The characters seem real. Lissa is accessible to many girls for a myriad of reasons. She connected with me on way more levels than the characters in The Duff. She has issues with her friends, issues with her family, and most of all, is really confused on the whole 'relationship' thing. Her world gets way too tangled up in that relationship. You watch her compromise elements of herself and of her life for her relationship before she finally just gets fed up and decides that something needs to change.
The plot was really enjoyable, twisting and turning without being predictable or unnecessarily confusing. It was a great, fast read and one that I can definitely see myself picking up again. Plus, you know, there are cute boys.
Boys aside, though, Shut Out addresses bigger elements. It  points at the many issues of high school dating and brings solidarity to a lot of different types of girls. Relationships in high school are aggravating, hard, heart wrenching and way too tricky to deal with alone. Kody Keplinger's new book makes sure that girls don't have to.
Plus -- seriously, people. There are some very cute boys.
More later.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: July 12, 2011
Goodreads Says:

When Sam met Grace, he was a wolf and she was a girl. Eventually he found a way to become a boy, and their love moved from a curious distance to the intense closeness of shared lives. 


That should have been the end of their story. But Grace was not meant to stay human. Now she is the wolf. And the wolves of Mercy Falls are about to be killed in one final, spectacular hunt. 


Sam would do anything for Grace. But can one boy and one love really change a hostile, predatory world? The past, the present, and the future are about to collide in one pure moment - a moment of death or life, farewell or forever.
Oh. Wait. That's not a review.
I love these books. Shiver and Linger are two of my favorite novels. I didn't like Forever quite as much as the other two, but then, I'm ideologically opposed to one of my favorite series ending.
The plot follows Grace, Sam, Isabel, and Cole through the end of the storyline -- but it didn't quite delve as deep into the characters are the prior novels. That might be because we've already heard so much about them, but I just didn't find myself connecting as much as I had previously.
That said, the prose was beautiful as always. There were lots of really funny comments and a good feel of the relationships deepening. 
But I didn't really feel like the story ended.
The story didn't seem resolved by the final pages, which slightly bothers me considering that it's the end of a trilogy. I don't like loose ends, and I felt like there were a lot of them. I have a closure issue, and I didn't really get it at the end of Forever.
Meh. Still good. I still love the series, and I would be happy to see a spin-off series; I was left wanting more, a lot more.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I am in denial

I don't really have words for the horror and anticipation of this coming week. No, not Alpha (because, um, I totally definitely have edited all of the stories I was supposed to, right, yeah) (and yeah, I'm meeting Tamora Pierce and no, I haven't been stressing about what to wear all week) (Purple nail polish? Blue? Green? OMG THE CHOICES, GUYS I JUST DON'T EVEN) or the fact that the people at Alpha shall first meet me after I get off a plane that leaves at 6 AM and hence I shall be ugly and mean or the fact that I'm checking out colleges today and tomorrow (That's how I have internet.)
That is not the horror or anticipation.
This is.
Guys, it's ending.
My childhood is totally ending with the last movie. 
My love and thanks have already been ranted about  beautifully chronicled several times, namely here.
But I wanted a worship post to be up anyway. Because hey, if my childhood is ending, then I should make note of it. I mean, you get a diploma just for graduating for high school, so I definitely feel as if this moment needs something.
I swear.
This movie had better not suck.
Elsewise, there will be intense sadness. 
(Oddly, this now seems necessary.)

I'm not sure how else to say it.
But Harry Potter, I love you. I love the world. Thank you for my childhood. 
(You're crying, aren't you? It's okay. I don't judge. Have a cookie.)
-kisses the entire Harry Potter world-
-feels gross-
Seriously, though. If this movie is ruined in any way, I am going to be so, so sad. Or angry. Evil attack of the millions of Harry Potter fans will follow. We're dangerous, people. Like this.
Be scared. 
Anyway. More later. (Seriously, I actually have book reviews scheduled for this week. Two! WHAT IS THIS OMG.)
Farewell, dears.
(Also -- seriously. Blue or purple?)