Thursday, May 31, 2012

Maybe This Wasn't Such A Good Idea

The project that has been on the forefront of my mind this month is Balancing Act. I've been writing, editing, writing up notes on what I want to include and character quirks, and watching Make It Or Break It to remind myself of some of the mechanics of gymnastics training. Because, let's face it, it's been a while since I was seriously involved in the sport.

The downside? I miss gymnastics more than ever. I used to be able to do a back walkover, no problem, because of a quirk with my back. Now I can barely do a decent bridge because so many of my other muscles developed from horseback riding and walking up so many stairs day after day.

The last two nights I've lain awake, remembering the moment I broke my ankle on vault. It makes my heart race to remember the pain. And I can't even begin to explain the regret I feel, that if I had just turned my ankle a little bit, I would have completed the move and gone on to compete at varsity level at the biggest meet of the season.

But maybe that's a good thing. It means the emotions in Balancing Act are more real. I can describe them because I lived them. Not an autobiography, but still real. It just means some difficult nights remembering what I've lost.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Packing = Editing

I am nearing the end of my freshman year of college. It's insane how fast it's gone. Have I mentioned that before? I've been sending stuff from my dorm home with my parents over the past few weeks so that when it comes time for the official moving out, I have less I need to pack.

And I've noticed a similarity between packing and editing. Part of editing is making sure your novel only contains what it needs. Sure, you may leave in a few other moments to add feeling or flesh something out, but in the end, there are a few things you need. The same can be said of packing.

Most of the shoes I brought with me are now home, as are my microwave, label maker, many books, and sweatshirts. I have, however, kept my fridge, printer, and vacuum. I kept all the things I need.

So when it comes to packing editing your novel, make sure to take out everything that isn't needed. Extraneous characters, scenes that might be dear to you, but don't further the plot. And lines like "Die puny humans!" which is actually in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini.

Well, back to packing!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Triple Crown

I adore horses. I've been to rodeos, watched the Triple Crown races multiple times, rode gymnkana for five years, and competed in it for a while. I love riding horses, watching horses, reading about them.

Unfortunately, thoroughbred racing has seen a decline in interest over the past few years. I suspect it's because there hasn't been a Triple Crown winner in 34 years, since Affirmed won it. I just read a very interesting article about the decline in interest, and the colt I'll Have Another, who has a shot at the Crown in the Belmont Stakes this year. I know I'll be watching the Belmont. But that's nothing new for me.

If any of you know any good YA or adult novels about horses, please let me know. The last one I read was a great disappointment.

And Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Already?

There are only 3 weeks until I am done with my freshman year of college. Isn't that insane? I may be a bit absent on the blog for that time, for I have papers to write, finals to study for, my room to pack up, a book to work on, assignments to complete, class to attend, and sleep to be had.

I am also working this weekend. I cannot wait to see my family on the coast again. It's going to be a wonderful weekend of hanging out, watching movies, working, and delicious meals that weren't pre-packaged.

I'll leave you with this quote that has been attributed to Milton Berle: I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are, because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Too Close

I've told you all about my new writing project, which I waited to get far enough into to make sure it wasn't going to flop. Tentatively titled Balancing Act, this novel is the first time I've used some of my personal experiences to flavor the characters, more specifically Callie. Callie is an ex-gymnast whose career was ruined by a horrible landing on vault which resulted in surgery on her ankle. Now, almost a year later she is trying to figure out what she's going to do with her life, and is roped into being an assistant coach for her high school team.

My inspiration for this story came from my own experience. The first line is: "My ankle always let me know when it was about to rain." For some of you out there who have broken a major bone, have you ever experienced how sometimes it will stiffen up and ache when it rains?

That's what happened to me. I took gymnastics lessons for six years when I was younger, but had to give it up when my gym moved and school started getting more demanding. Then in my junior year of high school I joined the team and was varsity on balance beam and vault. At least, until I landed badly on a turned ankle.

Working on this book has brought up a lot of old emotion, and showed me just how much I was affected by gymnastics. I always point my toes when I'm sitting down. And I really miss being as flexible as I used to be. I hated watching all my friends on the team competing in meets while I sat there in my clunky cast. It's brought up a lot of old feelings.

Have you ever written something that you know a lot about? Something painful that makes it hard to read sometimes?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

1 Year Blogoversary

One year ago today was my first post on this blog. Back then I had written only one book, and had no idea how the literary world worked. I had no conception of how to find an agent, or the amazing group of people I would find. At that point I was a high school senior who had written a novel for a final school project, and had edited it a few times.

Back then Griffin's Song was titled Deceptor, and was told from only one point of view. At that point I had no critique partner, and thought getting published would happen within the year.

When I started this blog I was shy about what I wrote. I didn't want to seem overbearing or like a know-it-all. I have learned so much in this past year. I wrote Wind Chaser, and started and stopped several writing projects. I started college, and made friends. I took history and writing classes and fell in love with learning all over again. I read so much I had to get glasses (which are awesome, btw). I grew up a lot this year.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for being with me on this journey. It certainly isn't over, but knowing there are people out there who are interested and care in what I am doing, helps me through the days when I wonder why I write at all. Thank you, every single one of you. And have a piece of cake on me:
                                          

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bitterblue

Topping the scales at a whopping 539 pages, Bitterblue is not for the faint of heart. It is the companion to Fire and the sequel to Graceling, and is told from the Queen of Monsea, Bitterblue, who is trying to help her country as it tries to forget and heal from the abuses of her father's reign.

I'll say it up front: I liked Graceling and Fire more. While I loved Bitterblue, and her determination to fix everything all at once, there were a few things I found bothersome. Not the ciphers that fill pages. No, I love those things. If I had the patience to write in cipher I totally would. It was all the plot points that were introduced that seemed to go nowhere. Relationship plot lines, mystery plotlines, characters that were introduced but didn't seem to have a specific purpose*. At some point they just drifted away. And I felt bad for those characters, because their story was not finished.

I won't give any spoilers away. I thought Bitterblue was well-written and I love the protagonist's habit of doing complicated math in order to clear her mind. As a hopeless math-phobic, I salute her from afar.

Don't let this review put you off. I still enjoyed Bitterblue, and felt content when I put it down. If you're looking for another Graceling, you're not going to get it. You're going to read something unique. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

*(don't read if you don't want spoilers) I wanted her to end up with Giddon. -pout-

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Do I Do Now?

I hadn't watched current TV shows since Friends ended. I watched old ones like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, and even some Love Boat. This changed once I went to college. This came on because of nights I didn't have new books, social plans, or more homework. So this year I watched: Firefly, Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men, and How I Met Your Mother. As in, I watched all of them from season 1. Or only season 1 in the case of Firefly.

Now that the seasons are over, I have nothing to watch. Each show I loved for something specific. Firefly: worldbuilding, banter Big Bang Theory: research and "fish out of water" comedy Two and a Half Men: tips on disgusting comedy and what goes on in a womanizer's mind How I Met Your Mother: plot consistency and foreshadowing.

I try to use a bit of all these things in my writing. Well...perhaps one day I'll use the Two and a Half Men tips. My current WIP doesn't have a womanizer.

I've heard great things about Downton Abbey, so maybe I'll start watching that. I'd like your suggestions though.

What are your favorite TV shows and why?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New In The Life

The sun has been shining over the Pacific Northwest for a good four days now. And today looks like it won't disappoint. It's even reached the 80s yesterday, and has been getting light around 4:30 in the morning. How do I know this, you ask? Great question. The answer? Not so great. The day the sun came out was the day I got sick. My roommate had been sick all week, and had kindly been staying at home so I wouldn't catch the bug. Whenever she was in our room, she was spraying lysol *everywhere*. But that stuff was no match for my terrible immune system.

I spent the weekend medicating to get rid of sinus headaches, while going around with family for Mother's Day, and seeing friends who have finished school on the east coast. And, just as I thought I was getting better, the cough hit.

Sunday night I coughed so much that within a few hours my throat was raw and my voice disappearing. Despite taking NyQuil, I woke up at 4:30 and could not go back to sleep. I haven't slept the night through since Thursday. But I seem to be on the mend now.

This week I have a lot to do, what with registering for classes for next year, a midterm, a book to read, a huge oceanography assignment, and sun to enjoy. I am going to try my darndest to write this week, but the chances aren't great.

My 1 year blogoversary is coming up fast! Enjoy the sun while it lasts!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Similar Place Names

I don't mind odd character names. I accepted them as part of the book world, and I know how hard it is for an author to decide on a name. That was one of the biggest puzzles I had to figure out before I wrote Griffin's Song. My father had always just referred to her as "she" and "the girl." I found out later that he always pictured the girl as me. But I couldn't name the main character Heather. Not many people take the name "Heather" seriously. It's so often used in referring to bimbos or home-wreckers. As you all know, I settled on Sarah.

But one thing that I do notice in novels is the names of places. I don't really care if a contemporary novel uses a fake town, or if a fake world has a town with a name I know. It's when the places and words are made up that I start to get picky. It actually made me mad to read a book where the main country was titled: Aremica. It seemed to me as if the author had taken America and just switched the R and M.

Then there was what happened today. I was reading Bitterblue, and my mind made a mistake as I read the words "River Dell." You see, in Tamora Pierce's world of Tortall, a large portion of a book takes place by the "River Drell." I don't mind this at all. It was completely my fault that I mistook the two. It happens when you read a lot. You're bound to think of other books.

But really, Aremica?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kristin Cashore Signing

It just struck me last night how many book signings I've gone to in the past year. By year I'm referring to school year because my mind works from September to June, and then it takes a hiatus for a couple months. Since my freshman year started I've seen: Tamora Pierce, Christopher Paolini, Stephanie Perkins, and Kristin Cashore. Before that I went to see Debbie Macomber with my mom.

I absolutely love these things. Tamora Pierce was amazing because she is my idol and I got a front row seat. Christopher Paolini was incredible because the library was so packed they had to put up a projector in another room so overflow people could see a broadcast of what he was saying in the main room. And people dressed up. Which is awesome. Stephanie Perkins was hilarious, and Kristin Cashore was interesting.

Last night she showed us her journals where she writes her books by hand. These include encouraging notes such as "This is terrible." She also read a few pages from Bitterblue, of which I am now in possession. There was also a small fire somewhere nearby because the whole room reeked of smoke until about half-way through the talk. I was brave enough to ask a question again. I must be getting better at these things. I wish I could go back in time and not be so nervous around Tamora Pierce. I didn't get a chance to tell her that she was one of the reasons I wanted to write from such a young age.

In a nutshell, last night was amazing!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another Book Signing

As I said on Monday, it's been a slow week. I have another midterm coming up and an oceanography assignment that I swear is trying to make me have a mental breakdown. I've spent a little time editing Balancing Act and typing up some notes about what I want to write when I have time.

Tonight I am heading to Kristin Cashore's book signing with my father, who I bullied into reading Graceling. While I'm there I'll pick up a copy of Bitterblue, which I'm so excited to read.... when I have the time. Because right after midterms I'm heading into Dead Weeks since the quarter is almost over. Which is coming up terrifyingly fast.

But more on that later. I'll have a story for you tomorrow about the signing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Insurgent

Hey, guys, sorry I've been missing in action. There hasn't been much to blog about around here. It's been a quiet week, filled with watching How I Met Your Mother, writing papers, and reading books. Which brings us to the topic of today's post: Insurgent by Veronica Roth.

I've been waiting for this book to come out for months. I read Divergent back in January when we had snow days at school. Since then I've been anxiously awaiting the release of the sequel, as well as Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, but more on that later.

Insurgent was great. In my opinion it was not as great as Divergent, but it would be hard to pull off so much bad-assery twice in a row. The ending still had my heart a pounding and the cliffhanger made me want to scream. There was a lot of political stuff and some sad revelations. Romance was more prominent in this one, and I don't just mean between Tobias and Tris.

If you've read Divergent, pick up Insurgent. It is definitely not a sophomore slump.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Character Names

People, especially people who don't read as often as us bibliophiles, can have the weirdest preferences on this topic. One of my friends won't buy a book unless she likes the name. And she's very picky. The only way to buy a book for her and be guaranteed she'll like it is if it's an Irish story. And while I'm sure there's a nice big pool of that out there, it does make it difficult to buy her books.

I was telling another friend about Balancing Act a couple days ago, and told her the main character names (Callie, Ty, Scott, Jen). She said she liked them because they didn't end with the same sounds (Ben, Jen, Wren). I had hardly thought about this, but it makes sense. I subconsciously try not to use names that sound too similar, and oftentimes this relies on the ending of the name. It makes it seem a little less like a picture book that way, where things have to rhyme, or at least have rhythm.

Do you have any name quirks? What are they?