Friday, March 30, 2012

Specials

A couple days ago I purchased Specials by Scott Westerfeld, completing the trilogy of the Uglies series. I'll admit upfront that I went into the book with lower expectations. I hadn't liked the second book in the series as much as the first, but I am glad I took the time to read this book.

I may have felt sad at times, but there were moments where I thought, "This is really good writing." This is because it made me think. There were sentences with subtext, and I loved it, and would highly recommend the series if you haven't read it.

Tally Youngblood has been ugly, pretty, and now even her bones have been changed to make her Special. But not just special, I mean cruel-special. She's part of an elite group of law-enforcers whose purpose in life is to bring down the New Smoke, a rebel group trying to stop people from being stupid. Tally can now remember her whole life, even the days when she was part of the Smoke, but it's all so random it repulses her. But that doesn't matter, because she's Special, equipped in every sense to solve problems.

If you haven't - read it. If you have - reread it.

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update

Well, the first week of my third quarter of college is almost over. I decided that, after the practical hell that was last quarter, I would take an easier load. This would allow me to take more time on the assignments I'm given, as well as provide me with free time. Such beautiful and foreign words. I might actually be able to write this quarter! I miss it so much. It feels as if a part of me filled up with information and essays, leaving no room for anything creative.


I intend to change that. This quarter I am taking African History, Oceanography, and a Composition class. And for the first time since going to college, I'm taking introductory level courses. The longest paper I'll have to write is 5 pages. How weird.

Last quarter ended amazingly well. GPA wise I was hoping for a 3.0 because my courses were so hard. I got a 3.67. An A- average. I burst into hysterics when I found out.

It's a new quarter, which means new classes and new people and (hopefully) better weather.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trending

Yesterday I read an interesting post on Glass Cases about how, since Harry Potter, YA trends have become prominent. For instance, after Twilight there was a flood of the market of paranormal romance. Then after the Hunger Games dystopian ruled the scene. She ended the post by asking the writers out there not to jump on the bandwagon, but to write something simply because they like the idea.

I couldn't agree with her more. I read Twilight and wasn't very impressed. The way Bella just curled up in a ball and went numb for months after Edward left made any respect I had for her leave. Then she turned destructive, and I started to dislike her intensely. But this post is not to rant about Twilight. Scores of people have done that before me and probably did a better job of it.

The point of this is to say that I, as a YA reader who is in the target audience, don't like trends. When paranormal romance became popular, I purposefully avoided it. It could have been a well written story by the next person to start a trend. But when half the books I saw the the shelves were the same genre, I made sure to look for fantasy instead.

The same thing happened after I read the Hunger Games, except on a smaller scale. Since I loved the books I read a few more dystopian. And I didn't become critical of them until I read The Maze Runner. Nathan Bransford raves about this guy on his blog from time to time, even did an interviewing series with him. But I was not impressed. After that I turned back to fantasy and contemporary fiction.

So to all you writers out there, just know that writing in a genre that is popular now, hurts the people like me who enjoy different genres as well :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Is Your Favorite Tense/POV?

I've dabbled in many tenses, and so far find the third person past tense is my favorite way to write. Both Griffin's Song and Wind Chaser were written in that way. Some of my short stories for class have experimented with the first person, but it never felt quite right. However, I've found many of the books I've enjoyed lately have been first person present tense. Divergent for example, and Lola and the Boy Next Door.

What is it that makes us enjoy writing a certain way, yet read differently? Do you have a tense/POVyou prefer to write in, or do you jump all over the place?

Okay, that's a rather short post, but I'll make it better with a cute picture! Happy Monday!
A guinea pig wearing a tiny sombrero.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Yet Another Hunger Games Post

To say I was pleasantly surprised by this movie would be an understatement. For once I can honestly say that the movie very closely followed the book. Better, it expanded on areas that hadn't been before, due to the limited POV with Katniss. We got to see the Gamemaker's Headquarters, how President Snow understood the games, and how Haymitch lobbied to get sponsors. It was fantastic.

And Effie. Oh the woman who played her was spot on. I laughed more with Effie than with any other character. Well... I guess I laughed more at Effie.

The only problem I had with it was the filming. It was rather shaky and there were points in action sequences where the camera wasn't focused on anything so the viewer had no idea what was going on. Otherwise, though,  I loved it.

I promise to be back tomorrow with book talk. I've been soaking up the few rays of sun we've gotten here in Washington, and hanging out with friends who go to school out of state.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Traveling

My father swears that there is gypsy blood in our veins. His father was a merchant marine, his mother traveled all over the country, and all it takes is a commercial about planes to get my dad going. I was bitten by the bug, too, at a very early age. I loved plane rides - the excitement of take-off, getting to walk through an airport with all its different smells and people.

I've been blessed with a family who enjoys traveling, and tries to travel as much as possible. I can't count the number of times I've been on a plane. But my favorite city so far has been Paris. Yes, I know its cliched, but when I was there I couldn't help loving it as much as all the books and movies say. And last night, I was lucky enough to dream about it. And was astonished at how clear the dream was. I walked down the Champs Elysees, saw the Eiffel Tower again.

I have a bucket list of things I'd like to do before I die. A great many of them involve traveling. I want to see the Iditarod Sled Race begin, watch the Kentucky Derby and sip a mint julep, toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain.

Travel is a way to expand your horizons, and in ways we do that through reading as well. By reading we go somewhere new, experience things we've never done before. So I suppose my two obsessions link up. I read to travel, I travel to experience. Heck, I often read while I travel.

Do you like to travel? Where is your favorite place?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How Much Build-Up

So one thing a reviewer said of the excerpt I submitted to the Amazon contest was that while "the writing was excellent and the characters amusing" (I squeed so hard when I read that) they would have liked to see the action begin sooner. Now I've heard this from other people, that they would prefer the pirates to appear in, say, the first chapter. And I've cut a significant portion of the book that happens before Sarah is captured.

However, it brings up an interesting point. What about build-up? In The Hunger Games we have at little while before Katniss is tossed into the reaping where we get to understand District 12 and what's going on in the world. In Eragon there's world building and character development before he discovers that he's got a dragon egg.

How much build-up should there be? I generally don't like books that start with a key action moment because while I'm struggling to understand who the good guys and bad guys are, and what world I'm in, there are important things happening in the book. And I feel if there isn't any build-up, these action sequences will pack a punch, but I have less of an understanding of them.

What's your opinion? Is it better to do some build-up, or just jump straight into action?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bad News, Good News

Well I'm just going to get the bad news over with first. It's not so depressing, just disappointing. The quarter-finalists for the Amazon contest were announced today, and I'm not one of them.

On to the good news! I'm doing much better in grades than I expected to, considering how difficult this quarter was. I'm only waiting on one more grade, then I'll know. Let's see, I'm also going to New York for a few days this summer to see a play starring Jim Parsons *squeal!* And I think I'm going to do a bit of editing on Griffin's Song and start querying agents. Even though the Amazon contest didn't want it, I'm sure someone else out there will. Speaking as a non-optimist, I feel content in this decision.

So that's my news for today! I'll see ya'll tomorrow!

*Edit* So the reviews for my excerpt in the contest were just put up, and both were very positive! So I may not have made it to the next round, but people liked the story :)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Is the First Book Always Better?

At least recently, I've been finding that the first book in a series tends to be more exciting. Perhaps it's because we have no experience in the world and we get to be immersed in it for the first time without skepticism. Examples: The Hunger Games, and I've heard that Crossed isn't as enjoyable as Matched. I'm really hoping that Insurgent by Veronica Roth is as good as Divergent.

I'd like your input. Do you find that the first book of a series is always the best? If so, why do you think that is?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm Baaaack

Finals are over. Thank Goodness. Yesterday was a mess. I had a final in the morning, then a final two hours later, which should have been spent studying or napping. But instead I walked around in the rain, soaking my shoes, trying to find a manila envelope to put my English portfolio in. Finally found one for 35 cents in the University bookstore. To make a long story short, I had an exhausting day. But enough of that! The quarter is OVER.

Earlier in the week I was tagged by Seabrooke to participate in the Lucky 7 Meme, which means a writing themed post instead of me complaining about how much I have to read for class.

The Rules:
    1.  Go to page 77 of your current MS
    2. Go to line 7
    3. Copy down the next seven lines as they are written - no cheating!
    4. Tag 7 other writers
    5. Let them know
I tag: Monica and Nick! The rest of the blogs I follow are agents, book reviews, or published authors.

My current MS is Griffin's Song, so I'll post that:

wondered if it was taken in a raid, or was a god’s symbol. Might we worship the same gods? she thought, startled. It shouldn’t have been unexpected, the idea that pirates genuflected and prayed as normal people did. I wonder what else we have in common, Sarah mused. The moment of connect was brief however, and Tiras broke it by leaving her to take a respite in his cabin.

There you have it, then! A little sneak peak at Sarah's life aboard the pirate ship. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Better Than a Jolt of Caffeine

There's nothing like waking up to a bright room thinking you've slept through your alarm. Which I have never done. But apparently my sleeping self forgot that I don't have special shades in my dorm to block out the sunlight. So I woke up in a frenzy thinking I'd slept late, and had missed being able to turn in my final paper at 10:30, which the teacher had said specifically wouldn't be accepted after 10:35, and I was going to fail the class and flunk out of college.

Needless to say, after I saw it was 7:30, I had a hard time falling back to sleep. But my entire night was like that, filled with dreams about trying to do jobs I didn't know how to do. Sort of like that one where you're on stage and you realize you don't know any of the lines.

It wasn't a peaceful night.

A baby elephant walking through a muddy stream with its ears sticking out.
Everyone needs an elephant to start the day!
But some good news does come out of all of this! I finished my huge research paper, complete with footnotes and bibliography. Since I'd never used footnotes before, it was an interesting experience. And I found I like footnotes. They take up space at the bottom of the page.

So this weekend I can go to the coast to work with a slightly less loaded down brain, and study for finals and prepare my portfolio. Yay!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So. Much. Stress.

Hell Week is living up to its name. Last quarter I had a 10 page paper due, plus a couple 3 page ones, a 7 page one, and 1 in-class final. This quarter I have a portfolio to do, a 10 page paper, and 2 in-class finals. And I feel infinitely more stressed. Perhaps it's because my 10 page paper involves a ton of research on topics that weren't discussed in lecture.

I got so tense at one point that I just had to sit back and listen to music for a few minutes so I wouldn't scream. Which would be violating Quiet Hours in my dorm.


What do you guys do to de-stress? I generally read, but I'm so busy and my eyes are so tired from reading that I just can't do it at the moment.

And I'm probably going to work this weekend while I finish that portfolio and study for my finals.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Cue the Scary Music

Hell Week has arrived for real. I basically have two Hell Weeks because of all the papers I have to write and research I need to do. But this week encompasses everyone at my school. Things are quiet in my dorm. Tonight people buckle down and study, buy expensive vending machine food,and fall asleep at two in the morning.

I already feel a headache coming on. This weekend was spent divided between home and my friends, one of which came home from across the country for spring break and whom I missed terribly. Then yesterday was some intensive work on an essay about Teresa of Avila and Lucrecia de Leon combined with getting ahead in my massive amount of reading so tonight can be used for research.

My books are on hold for the moment. Once my finals are through I can work on them again, and I am really looking forward to it. Just over two weeks till I hear from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. I might be nervous if I wasn't so busy.

Here's hoping your week will be better than mine!

Friday, March 2, 2012

How Do You Procrastinate?

In the spirit of Hell Week and Finals Week I'm posting all the ways I procrastinate. Perhaps it will help me forgo the temptation when it's imperative that I study. It's doubtful, but a girl can hope. I also encourage you to write down the ways you procrastinate, to see how numerous they are.
  • Dearblankpleaseblank: I am a slave to the internet, like most of my generation. I go here for humor,and it always makes me feel more contented and happy. However I can spend hours there, which is bad. Bad Heather.
  • Attack of the Cute: If you saw my post about bunny pigs, you already know I'm a sucker for fluffy animals. I also share this love with one of my closest friends who now lives across the country. We are constantly sending each other links to start of hours long conversations. Bad Heather.
  • Play online games: I'll admit, I played Farmville on Facebook. I've also played Cafeworld and a type of solitaire game on coldtomatoes. In the latter I have only won once. It's maddening. Bad Heather.
  • When I procrastinate on homework, I work on my books. When I procrastinate on my books, I either read or do homework. I see this as a win win, because either way things get done.
  • Finally, and most importantly, I play minesweeper, advanced level. On my laptop alone I've played 14,378 games, and won 163. Baaaad Heather.
How do you procrastinate?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Have No Will Power

Okay, so I broke down and got Lola and the Boy Next Door on kindle. I'll admit I'm weak. It had been over two weeks since I'd read anything new, and it was unbearable. Especially since I'd forgotten it was "Useless Movie Day" in one of my classes and I can't bring myself to leave in the middle of a class. Even one that doesn't really matter.

So I got Lola. It certainly delivered. It was not quite as good as Anna and the French Kiss, but Stephanie Perkins delivered the same witty dialogue and hilarious insights into a teen girl's mind that I can totally connect with. I only had one problem in the character of Max. *sorta spoiler alert* He seemed like a completely different person in the end than when you meet him. Not because he'd been on a big emotional journey, but he just changed after he was out of the picture for a while.

But I still highly recommend it. I erm...sort of finished it in one sitting. Which is bad of me, since I have lots of work to do. But did I mention not reading anything new for over two weeks? I was desperate for pleasure reading material. I have no will power when it comes to books. I'm already looking at more books to get. And I can't feel too guilty since I wrote a paper afterwards as well as got all my reading done for another class and did the related assignment.

Only. Two. More. Weeks. Then. Break. Thank Goodness.