Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Hunger Games, Bleeding Violet, and Wake

The three YA books I've read in the past week or so. Here are my thoughts (warning, there are some spoilers!):

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. One word. A-maz-ing. I literally could not put it down. I've heard a lot about this book for the past few months, but it didn't really appeal to me. Futuristic, dystopian - so not my taste. But I finally gave in because I just had to know what all the fuss was about. And also read something different from what I normally pick up. And I am so glad I did. This book lived up to all the hype and more. It was fast-paced, action packed, and so well written. I loved the descriptions. I felt like I was watching a movie. But she didn't go overboard, like so many authors do, where you end up getting completely bogged down in useless descriptions. She created this world so concisely I had no trouble picturing it whatsoever, yet she didn't tell me every last detail so that I couldn't make my own picture in my head. And the characters, who I thought I wasn't going to like at first, grew on me so much throughout the story and became so unique, even the minor ones. And of course the plot is completely intriguing. I can't wait to read the sequel, which for some reason isn't on Kindle yet. :(

Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves. Also a book that I heard a lot of buzz about. At first it was all rave reviews, but when I read reader reviews on Amazon I was surprised to see a lot of mixed reviews, some of which were downright angry and cruel. And I have to say, I was slightly disappointed with the book. No doubt it's an interesting concept, girl runs away to a town plagued by monsters, but I never got a good sense of Hanna, the MC, or really any of the characters. Hanna has all these things that you think would make her interesting; bi-racial, manic depressive, etc. but she fell flat for me. I never understood why she was so promiscuous, or why that was even necessary for her character. I have no problem with sex in YA books, when it's done right and has some sort of meaning in the story.

In Bleeding Violet, Hanna admits to being slutty and sleeps with the hero, Wyatt, seemingly for no real reason at all other than that she could. It didn't seem to move the story forward or have any impact at all, Hanna doesn't even take it seriously, so what was the point?

I felt like there were some inconsistencies in the story, the plot got confusing at times. I also felt like I didn't get a clear picture of what the characters looked like, what the monsters looked like, etc.

Finally, Wake by Lisa McMann (and also Fade by Lisa McMann). At first I thought that the third person present tense in which the books are written was very distracting. Janie walks to the kitchen. Janie drinks orange juice..., etc. But the more I got into the story, the less I noticed it. I didn't like Janie at first, but she so grew on me. The premise, about a girl who gets sucked into other dreams and has the ability to change the dream, is so different and interesting. It's hard not to want to see what happens. The hero, Cabel, I totally fell in love with. You don't really notice him to begin with, but when he finally starts showing up you realize what a totally great guy he is. He and Janie make a great pair and I loved the interaction between them, it was so genuine. They are pretty mature for teenagers, but it's believable because of their pasts.

I also read the sequel, Fade, which I enjoyed even more than Wake. Now I'm just waiting for the third book, Gone, to be available on Kindle :)

Interview with my character

My feisty MC Jeanie has agreed to an interview with me. It went, uh, not so well. I think I pissed her off and I wouldn't be surprised if she refuses to ever do this again. But it was quite helpful, so it was worth it.

DM: Hey, Jeanie. Thanks for talking to me like this.

JT: Hey. No prob.

DM: How are things going with you since you moved to Missouri?

JT: Seriously? It's Missouri. It sucks.

DM: *raises eyebrows*

JT: Like, hardcore sucks. Not normal, I'm-so-bored-because-I-stare-at-cows-all-day sucks. Sucks like this place is completely backward and oh yeah, they're trying to kill me sucks.

DM: Damn.

JT: I know.

DM: there anything you like about Missouri?

JT: *sighs* Yeah.

DM: Such as....?
JT: God, this is so lame but... I like the air here. It's dry. It's not like in Florida when you walk out of the house and the air sticks to you. I like the hills. Everything in Florida is flat. There are real animals here. Like deer and shit. That's kinda cool, I guess. And...things move slower. People aren't in a rush all the time. They
are homicidal maniacs, but they take their time with stuff.

DM: If you could go back to Florida, would you?
JT: If I could go back and things would be how they used to be, then yes. In a heartbeat. The way they are now? No. I can't.

DM: You can't?


DM: *clears throat* Right. Sorry. Aren't there any people you like here? A boy, maybe?
JT: *rolls eyes* You mean Pierce, right?

DM: Uh, well, yeah? He's like your...well, not your boyfriend, but your, um, make out buddy?

JT: Make out buddy? *laughs* I like that. *cocks head to side* That's a good term for it, actually. Although...he's pretty good at the make out stuff, but the buddy part? He needs some work.

DM: Yeah? Why is that?
JT: Oh, I don't know, because I can trust him about as far as I can throw him? And he has this creepy habit of showing up at weird places at inconvenient times. Plus he doesn't tell me anything, ever. Just these vague warnings and lame excuses....

DM: Sounds frustrating.

JT: Gee, ya think?

DM: Whoa, what's with the 'tude?

JT: *sighs and shakes head* I'm sorry. Not your fault that Pierce is an ego-tripping mystery man and everyone is out to get me. Wait...that is your fault!

DM: *looks away guiltily* Sorry about that. *grimaces*

JT: Ugh. It's whatev.

DM: So, anyway... is that your natural hair color?

JT: Yes.

DM: Really? Cuz it looks too perfect to be real.

JT: Well, it is.

DM: *sighs wistfully* I always wanted perfectly highlighted blonde hair like that.

JT: Probably why you gave it to me. *flips hair over her shoulder tauntingly*

DM: True. But let me get back to the deep, hard-hitting questions. What's your plan?

JT: My plan?

DM: Yeah. For dealing with what's happening in Fillmore. You do have a plan, correct?

JT: *Scoffs.* Of course I have a plan. I'm going to...well, try not to be murdered in that little sacrificial ceremony they like so much. And I'm probably going to have to figure out exactly what this cult is after and where they came from so I can blow this thing wide open.

DM: How are you going to do that?

JT: Plan A? Beat the shit out of Pierce until he gives me some answers. Plan B? Well. Let's just hope I won't need a plan B.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is this week over yet?

No? It's only Wednesday? Awesome. Hmm...let's put a positive spin on this depressing little fact and say that there are four more days with the chance to make this week improve!

Can I just say that there is nothing in the world (that I can think of) that makes me feel more powerless and vulnerable than when my car is not functioning properly? Ridiculous, I know. But the second I turn the key and the engine doesn't make the happy, let's-get-moving noise that it's supposed to, I almost instantly start to cry. And when it makes pathetic, dear-G0d-put-it-out-of-its-misery clicking and coughing noises, I just know my car is crying with me. I know it's trying its poor little heart out to start for me. And that happened to me TWICE this week. Heartbreaking.

In addition to feeling awful for my poor car who never wants to disappoint me, there is the helplessness of being stranded and having to pester kindly friends for rescue. Ick. I love my friends and do not want to burden them with my car-less-ness, even if they are sweet enough to assure me that it's no problem. So many questions have to be answered: How am I going to get home? What about work tomorrow? What about taking the car in? Picking it up? What if it's not fixable!??? I can't afford a car payment. I can't even afford to have my nails done! How am I going to get a new car?

Then there is the ever so pleasant trip to the dealership. Woke up bright and early, prayed that my dear friend would start, and was promptly crushed when it didn't. Yet another demoralizing effect of a sickly car, having to call AAA for a jump. Decided against having the car towed because I figured if I was sitting there waiting they would work on my car faster. And it worked. Except that EIGHT hours later (caught up on all the morning news shows, Family Feud, the soaps and Oprah) they still couldn't figure out the problem.

Which leads to the next thing I HATE about having a broken down car. Mechanic talk. ABS module? Error codes? Speed sensors? 16 hours of looking at my car later and finally figuring out the problem, the guy is speaking and it's all making perfect sense. He's explaining it in detail, I'm asking questions....Ten minutes later when I'm trying to explain the problem to someone else? Not the case. What did he say again?
"The thingy, the ABS module, uh, it isn't, like, telling the computer how fast the car is going? So like, the computer, um, freaks out and uh...won't accelerate right? Oh, f***, I don't know."

There is nothing like trying to understand car problems to make me feel like a complete idiot. I don't know how the engine works. No. Freaking. Clue. So trying to explain the intricacies of it to me? Yeah, not gonna help.

Dealing with car problems is the thing that I detest the most about being a (sort-of) grown up. I would rather go to the dentist. Well, I don't really mind the dentist. I should use a different saying. But you get the idea. So here's hoping that I can get my hands on a new car and not have to deal with it breaking down for a long, long, looooonnnnggg time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shocking news just in: I like editing/revising.

Umm, yeah, it surprised me too. I thought this was going to be the most tedious, frustrating part of the writing process for me. Turns out that was the actual writing of the book! Gasp. I just started the second round of revising on Banished. And I'm loving it. It's amazing to see how much the story is improving, how little changes can make a big difference, and how much of a better picture I have of what I need to fix and how to do it.

I have to admit, I felt pretty hopeless about the whole thing a few days ago. I was even thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over. I felt so frustrated, like I was never going to be able to work out all the kinks and discrepancies. Plus I started comparing my writing to other books, and decided that my style was awful and my writing would never be as good. Which I realize now is completely untrue (thank God!). But I pushed through and finished the first round, and now as I read through it for the second time I'm completely reinvigorated and excited about the book again.

I remember my mom telling me that you have to love what you write, because you're going to have to read it over and over and over again. And guess what? I love this book. And I think I love it more every time I read it :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Query Weary

I've been working on my query letter. UGH. How am I supposed to narrow down a book with a pretty complex plot to two paragraphs? I believe they have a term for this...cruel and unusual punishment. How come I can't just send a letter like this:

Dear Agent,
I'm sending you my whole manuscript. It's waaayy too good to be summed up in 250 words. You just need to read the whole thing. Pronto. Stat. Tonight. I'm not even going to tell you what it's about at all. Bet you really want to read it now, right? You're dying of curiosity, I know. So end the suspense. You know you want to.

P.S. I'll be expecting an offer of representation tomorrow, preferably before I go to work at noon. K, thx.

Sigh. If only it worked that way. Back to the working on of a real query letter....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sick...two weeks early

I'm sick (just a cold, but still, a nasty one). And it's a conspiracy. I swear.

Every year, for the past, oh, I don't know, three? I've been sick on Valentine's Day. And I mean sick sick, bed-bound, hair in a mess, nose like Rudolph, hacking up a lung, body get the picture, and it ain't pretty. Luckily my boyfriend has grown used to seeing me at my worst and I'm ok with letting him see me look like a lagoon creature. Mostly because he lies through his teeth and tells me I'm still pretty when I'm sick...snort, yeah right. And he buys me disgusting medicine and forces me to take it, but then bribes me with soda and chocolate if I do. Anyway, me being sick on Valentine's Day and him taking care of me is becoming a sort of tradition.

Well, imagine my surprise when I woke up on Friday morning with an extremely sore throat. I tried to brush it off, convinced that it was just a morning thing and would go away. Ate some cereal, thinking it would help....and nope, still hurting. Cody decided to immediately take action and force me to take disgusting dissolving Zicam thingys. Ewwww..but I was determined not to get sick. Friday night was supposed to go out dancing but decided to stay home and make sure I got enough rest and would go out Saturday. Wake up on Saturday and surprise, surprise, feel worse. Now my nose is stuffy and I'm starting to get that sick achy feeling. I was still determined to ignore it and forced myself to go out dancing. Sunday, had to work almost all day, and by the end had deteriorated to the point where I was at my Valentine's Day worst. That's when my friend remarked "Well, at least your sick now and not on Valentine's Day."

True, I thought. I had escaped my Valentine's Day illness curse! There was no way I was still going to be sick in two weeks. Score! Then I remembered.

My boyfriend isn't going to be here on Valentine's Day.

Not being sick on Valentine's Day wouldn't even matter this year! My boyfriend left this morning for school in Jacksonville for four months! And with no clear idea of when he's going to be able to come home to visit. This was my last weekend to spend with him, and I here I am, so sick that I spent most of his last night sleeping! Oooh, the curse strikes again. Ya got me. Snuck in two weeks early to ruin my weekend.

Time to accept it, the Valentine's Day curse is smarter than me, and does not only apply to Valentine's Day. Clearly it understood that it's only chance to spoil my time with my boyfriend was this weekend, and boy did it work fast!

Here's hoping that next year the curse will be broken but...I'm not holding my breath.