Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is Description Genre Specific?

I've had the privilege recently to plow through a good portion of my TBR pile. It included fantasy, dystopian, sci-fi, and historical. Then tonight I gave a critique of a writing assignment for one of my friends across the country. It was supposed to be written from the point of view of a child, and as such had a very stream of consciousness flow.

So, I pose this question to you, readers. Does the amount of description, whether it be clarification for action or landscape, need to be dependent on the genre? For instance, I noticed that description often has a greater presence in fantasy and sci-fi than in dystopian or teen lit. Can description make the genre?

I tried to put in moderate amount of description in Griffin's Song and Wind Chaser, because I expect the reader would eventually get tired of hearing about the beauty of the sea. But for the adventure genre the terrain is always changing. Example: I have a scene involving a tropical island beach complete with coconuts, as well as a rain and smoke covered village subjected to a pirate raid.

Consider the picture below: would your description of it change based on what genre you wrote?


Monday, January 30, 2012

Why Do You Write?

It was last quarter when I took a course about getting published. One of the first questions the instructor asked us was "Why do you want to get published?" And for a few minutes, I was stumped. Why did I want to be published? It had always seemed like something I needed to do, or a natural extension of loving to write. But really, why did I feel like my writing needed to be read by other people?

I still don't completely know. On the more practical hand, learning about the publishing industry is the first step to entering the field as I'd like to. It also introduces me to a new world of which I was previously unaware.  Then there is the less practical reason. When I was little my father used to take me to book stores. I'd ask him, "Can I get this book?" and he would say, "Only if you can read the first page to me." And it was always so exciting, cracking open a new book, or reading jackets to find my new companion.

I'd like for my books to be an adventure for someone, a new companion.

Why do you write? Why do you want to be published?

Weekly Page Count: approximately 450 divided between Pretties and readings for school

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Houston, we have impact

I was reading a blog post the other day that brought up a very good point: that the books we come to love between the ages of twelve and fourteen have the potential to have a drastic impact on our lives. Maybe this is because it's during the awkward transition from child to teenager, or perhaps because we're particularly susceptible then. Whatever the reason, I agree with them.

When I was in that age range I absolutely adored The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. I wanted to be that fierce little redhead riding fearlessly into battle, my sword raised high, knowing my friends were at my back. Alanna changed my life. I read those books so many times I practically had them memorized.

Alanna made me brave, she gave me a safe place to come back to when I had a bad day. When I faced something scary I measured my reaction against what I thought hers would be.

What books have had a large impact on your life?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why Divergent is Different

A few days after finishing Divergent, I was reflecting on how many dystopian novels I've read recently. Matched, Divergent, The Maze Runner, Uglies. But the one that's really sticking with me is Divergent. And I think I've finally figured out why.

In the rest of the novels mentioned above, the end goal is to bring down the establishment that at first seems so great, but is really a front for something terrible. But in Divergent, it's about improving the system, not destroying it. It seems as if Veronica Roth is proclaiming that a large change like the creation of Factions where a person's major personality trait determines what they will become, is not all bad. The real conflict is in maintaining the balance between the Factions.

The characters aren't fighting to return things to the way they were in the old world (aka our time), but instead are trying to preserve something that has the potential to be great.

I enjoyed Divergent so much because it was a different take on the dystopian model. If you haven't read it, you should. And I'm not saying you shouldn't read books like matched, The Maze Runner, and Uglies. I'm just saying you might want to put Divergent higher on the TBR pile.

I eagerly await the release of Insurgent on May 1st! Cool cover, eh?

Forgot my weekly page count yesterday, so here it is! : 1888 divided between The A Circuit, Princess of Glass, Uglies, and Divergent.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are Expectations Lower After a Disappointing Book?

This topic came to mind after I read The A Circuit, a novel about a few preppy kids in competitive jumping. Sadly I finished the book being slightly dis-enamored with the characters and uninterested in completing the series.

The next book I read was Anna and the French Kiss, which I thoroughly loved.  But then I thought, would I have loved it as much if I hadn't just been disappointed? Could it be that I was only pleased with Anna because  I wasn't pleased with Circuit?

I think it's more than possible. It happens when I'm reading books for school. Currently I am tackling a dialogue novel from 15th century Spain entitled The Celestina. After reading a few scenes I am more than happy to dive into a chapter of Uglies. Which now makes me wonder, what books do I have good memories of that I might find worse if I read them now, simply because back then I'd just read something I didn't like?

If I can make that last sentence any more convoluted, let me know.

What do you think? Are our expectations for books lower or higher after we read something we didn't like?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sickeningly Bubbly

Such a wonderful wonderful mood! Even though I don't have classes on Fridays I was pleased to find out that class had been canceled due to the road conditions (snow with a half inch layer of ice on top). My friends were very pleased, and celebrated by staying up late, not doing homework, and watching TV. We're a rowdy bunch, ain't we?

I was also pleased to sleep through the night. You see, two nights ago at two in the morning, some jerks from down the road decided it would be hilarious to pull my building's fire alarm. And since my bed is lofted I'm about 3 feet away from the blasted alarm in my room, which means I came awake very very suddenly. We stood outside in the snow and ice in pajamas for 20 minutes before we were allowed back in.

But onto my happy news. I just finished reading Anna and the French Kiss and LOVED IT SO MUCH. All you girls out there need to read it. Like, now. The main male character, Etienne St. Clair, is swoon material. And the book made me laugh a lot. And tear up. And I got to have donut holes and milk while reading it. So, yeah, you need to read it.

In even better news, the power is back on in my neighborhood and I am heading off home to see my mom, dog, and dad (who I haven't seen in about three weeks).

Next up is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

What are you reading right now?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Differences

So today was a snow day for my school, which is pretty rare because 1, we never get snow, and 2, my college doesn't like to close. But lo and behold, we closed down for the day. Of course I got up at 7:30 and walked around in the snow for about an hour taking pictures and getting my hat frozen to my head.

Then I returned to my humble abode that desperately needs vacuuming, and read Divergent. I'd heard some mixed reviews but was pleasantly surprised. It was a thought-provoking novel with some entertaining parts and some sad parts. Overall the tone was very introverted and serious. Very different from the book I read yesterday and the book I started after Divergent.

The former was Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George, and was a re-telling of Cinderella where the little cinder girl was not as perfect as she seemed, and the fairy godmother had some not very nice spells and a bag-full of ulterior motives. Yet the book was relatively light. There were more amusing moments than sad and perhaps this is because in Divergent the characters are "facing their fears" every day to prove they are worthy of initiation into their faction.

Then there is the book I just started. It was probably a mistake to buy, but it was only $2.50 on kindle! This, in retrospect, should have clued me in. The A Circuit follows three girls in competitive jumping, one who has to work for every ride, one the daughter of a rock star, and the other the daughter of a billionaire. It wasn't until I'd already bought the book that I read the bottom line of the description. It mentioned that fans of gossip girl would like it. Sigh. Now I'm compelled to read it, but I'm already starting to not like it and I'm only on page 30! The prose is stunted and obvious.

It's amazing how different these books can be. Contemporary fiction, dystopian, and fantasy, and the tone is so different. Can you say yay? It's these differences that make me love reading.

In other news I worked a bit more on Wings and received the Great Comments Award from Nick Hight, who hosts the blog Writing Fire.

Here's hoping for another snow day tomorrow so I can start reading Anna and the French Kiss!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Weather Outside is Frightful

But the snow is so delightful. And since I've so much work to do, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

For my four day weekend I visited my mom, worked a bit on Wings, watched TV (bad Heather, bad), and walked in the snow. Yesterday was beautiful. The stuff of movies. A couple inches deep, but thick enough to frost the ground and trees. I spent several hours just walking around campus soaking up the beauty and taking pictures. It looked like I'd just walked into Narnia.

Here is my weekly page count: 343 pages of solely history. It was a tough week. I was so stressed I even went down to my dorm's little mini mart and bought a box of donuts. The cashier gave me a dirty look. It's a downside of living in a generally health conscious city - it's hard to have comfort food with people glaring at you in line like you just kicked their puppy. Oh well, though. I got the donuts and they helped.

The hardest part of this week was not having time to read a book for pleasure. The best part was getting to see my friends who are in college out of state. I got to show them around and laugh about the good ol' days.

I promise I'll have something more profound to write about this week. It's just been crazy lately.

Last bit of news. An author I met over the summer is having her debut novel released tomorrow! Check her blog out here to learn more about it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hallelujah!!

Something I've been ashamed to let you all know has finally come to an end. After NaNoWriMo I found it very hard to write. I blame it on all the reading and writing I did last quarter- any creative juices in me were channeled into trying to get good grades. Even over winter break.

Well I am pleased to say that is over for now. Last night I had a spurt, and wrote up an entire synopsis for a story. A completely new one. I'm like a kid with a shiny object.

Here's a little piece of it, kind of like from a query:

All Caelyn ever wanted was to get her wings.

With wings she could join her fellow fairies in making their small world of Runda beautiful. The Eternal Spirit who guides them all seems to have another plan though. After fleeing the ceremony where her childhood enemy, Eris, received her wings, Caelyn stumbles upon a human soldier hunting close to the border of Runda. Instead of laying a Casting on him to make him forget he ever saw her, she begins meeting him in secret.

Dayton and Caelyn's friendship is a place of peace in the human world where King Hammond is planning an attack on Runda to enslave the fairies and use the magic for his own purposes. The two must avoid discovery from the fairy prince who wants Caelyn for his wife, and soldiers who would give anything to help their King find Runda. And Caelyn must conceal her own magical identity from Dayton, for the last thing she wants is to have him choose between duty and love.

So there you have it. With this four day weekend (SQUEE) I might actually get a chance to write.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

3 Little Words

This week hasn't been great. I think two history classes, one of them a two hundred level, the other a three hundred level, was probably too much for a second quarter freshman. I've been slogging through reading, eating in my room, and dreading the mornings when I have to get up and go take notes until my eyes blur. Only three words have kept me going through this week.

Four Day Weekend. You see, I don't have class on Fridays, and I have Monday off, so I have four days to actually see friends, family, and catch up on all the reading I haven't been able to finish because I had to do more reading. It's complicated. But by 1:30 today I'll be done for the week!

This weekend I'm going home for a night, and I am going to spend that Kindle gift card. Thank you everyone who suggested books to me, it's a great help. I haven't been able to keep up with the latest releases this week because of all the work, and your support is priceless.

Another thing that helped this week: The Hunger Games. I'm rereading it...again. *shift eyes* I figure with the movie coming out in a couple months I need to remember everything. SQUEE I'm so excited! I'm not one for violent movies but I need to see this one. If you haven't seen the trailer, you need to.

TGIT 

Monday, January 9, 2012

1 is the loneliest number

This week isn't starting out too good (323 pages of history need to be read by Wednesday- EEP) so I'll just start with some positive stuff.

I started and finished reading Daughters of Rome by Kate Quinn this weekend and would highly recommend it to people who can remember a lot of secondary characters and have a secret (or not so secret) love of horses and of course, Ancient Rome. The setting is The Year of Four Emperors and follows four girls of the Cornelii house as they observe and find their passions (horses, politics, etc.) during the tumult. It has it's slow points but my heart was racing at the climax and I actually came to hate one character so much that I was shaking.

I also read The Poem of the Cid, which is a Spanish epic published in the 18th century during the enlightenment but was written around the 12th century after the reconquista. While I read it I wasn't very impressed, but afterwards I came to realize that is was a very nice basis for a number of stories and was a fantastic representation of "Spain" when the people of Castille and Leon were attempting to take land from the Moors. I might write a re-telling of this story sometime, just for kicks. I think the two daughters of The Cid would have terribly interesting back stories.

Finally, I'm going to start a Weekly Page Count event, where throughout the week, starting on Mondays and going to Sunday, I chronicle how many book pages I read. Last week I read approximately 1115 pages (accumulated through reading The Princess of the Midnight Ball, Clockwork Angel, and Daughters of Rome).

I encourage you all to keep a page count as well! That way you can look back at a week and see how much you read, and go from there.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Follow Up


Since I got some really interesting comments on my last post, I figured I'd devote this Saturday morning to a review of Clockwork Angel and genres I love to read and why. Grab your coffee and cheerios, it's going to be a rough ride.
First off, Clockwork Angel. Um, can you say wow? It's been a while since a book made me feel sick to my stomach (in the good, oh lord that's gross, way, not the, "seriously, you thought that would be good to add?" way). But the references to such things as "skin" and "peeling" in the same sentence made me have to put down my chips until I finished the scene.

As far as the love story goes, I think I was more interested in what Will and Jem's back stories were than how they were interacting with Tessa. I was actually angry at the epilogue of this book because it left me on a cliffhanger about Will! Grrrr.

And there were some shockers that I really was not expecting and made me angry and disgusted at humanity, which since I think that's what Clare was trying to accomplish, is a good thing.

Overall, I loved the story, loved the characters and plot. Occasionally I thought it was going rather slow, but soon after I thought it, things would pick up. I will definitely read Clockwork Prince. This has renewed (or perhaps created) my faith in paranormal.

On to the next order of business. I am very flexible when it comes to the books I read. My favorite genre is fantasy, because I love the idea of magic and the beauties and evils that it can create. I'm also a fan of re-tellings of fairy tales. To date I've read Mermaid by Carolyn Sturgeon (The Little Mermaid), Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George (The Twelve Dancing Princesses), and East by Edith Pattou (East of the Sun and West of the Moon). I'm going to pick up Princess of Glass soon, which is a re-telling of Cinderella.

Ahem, as my keyboard runs away with me, I also enjoy dystopian, although here I am slightly pickier. Loved The Hunger Games, didn't really enjoy The Maze Runner. Sci-fi is also good, as long as the world-building is well done but the technology doesn't take the place of character development. There are other genres I'm not thinking of, but these are the bulk of the ones I read.

So there we go, I look forward to your insights, and have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In Which I Bang My Head Against the Keyboard

Today just sucked. The only highlight was having dinner with some friends.

I'll spare ya'll the horrible details of the soggy-shoed, class-missing, lugging-13-books-a-mile-home, mess that was today.

Instead I'll tell you about the classes I'm taking this quarter. One is on the Golden Age of Spain, and is the source of 9 of the aforementioned 13 books. One of which needs to be read by Monday. And it's poetry. Yay. Anyways I find the subject fascinating, and the professor is paralleling the rise of Spain with the rise of America. So far so good.

I'm also taking a course on Race and Power in the US, and the teacher is funny. Yay for perks! Then finally is a course where creative writing faculty talk about their lives as writers and why they do what they do. The professor is the most scatter-brained one I've met so far, so we'll see how this goes.

In the reading world I've started Clockwork Angel. If you all have opinions on it, I'd love to hear them. Besides the Twilight series, I haven't read any paranormal. Well, to be honest it's because of the Twilight series. But that's a topic for another post.

Still looking for book suggestions! I've got a kindle gift card burning a hole in my pocket.

Here's hoping tomorrow is better, too :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So Far...

the exercise has been going well. Both of my classes on Tuesdays are at least one flight of stairs up. And they're steep. Then I had to refill a prescription, which is another bit of a walk, and then I had to pick up one of my finals from the TA's office. That's where it got interesting. It was the most confusing building ever built. It's hexagonal, and there are three main sections.

And there were two 5th floors. Seriously. I was looking for the fourth floor, and didn't know if I was supposed to go down or up or horizontal or what! And did I mention there was no elevator in the section I was in? Yeah. Long story short I finally found the office after climbing perhaps 20 flights of stairs in my confusion.

So yeah, I got my exercise for the day.

In reader-ly news I finished reading Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George today. And I loved it. The love story could have used a bit more fleshing out, but I was too fascinated by the evilness of the King Under Stone that I didn't really mind. I love re-tellings of fairy tales. So, I'm going to dive right into Princess of Glass by the same author....

as soon as I find a place with wifi so I can get it on my kindle.

Here's to a new quarter!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Looking Back and Forward

Can you say, "crazy year"? That doesn't even begin to describe it. From graduating to getting glasses, to getting into college, to moving into a dorm, to getting tests done on my heart and working in a city 3 hours from home and going to Hawaii, it's been busy.

I apologize for not really being present on this blog through the past month. It's been a relaxing break, but that means I haven't had much to write about.

But nonetheless, here are some resolutions for the coming year:

Maintain a decent GPA:
My first quarter went splendidly, and I'd like to keep it up.
Have a healthier diet: 
I've been accused of being anorexic since I was in the 6th grade. But I've never been below or above the healthy weight for my age. But I must admit I don't eat a whole lot. And when I do eat it's not as balanced as it could be. So I want to try to fix this.
Exercise more:
Last quarter I walked a half mile to class four times a week, and there were hills and way too many stairs involved in this. Next quarter I barely have to walk a quarter mile. So I plan on going to the gym more. Not only will it keep me fit, it'll also strengthen my heart, which, due to family history, is something that is very important.
(Finally) finish editing Griffin's Song:
It's been over a year, and I want to be able to focus on new projects without feeling guilty that my first one is not complete
Write another book:
This year I wrote Wind Chaser for NaNoWriMo. I think another book for 2012 is sensible and reachable. Maybe it'll be Water Dance and Fire Crackle, maybe it'll be something else. We shall see.

What are your New Year's resolutions?