Monday, May 30, 2011

Blogging when Sick


You guessed it.  I am sick.  And let me tell you, this really sucks.  My throat started scratching around Thursday of last week, which moved into that dry scratch that never seems to get enough water.  Then Sunday... the sickness won.

My nose is a plugged up waterfall.  My lungs ache.  I keep coughing.  And the migraine I had yesterday... the migraine... Let's just say I am tired.  Very very tired and wanting oh-so-badly to get better pronto.

Immune system.  Why must you hate me so?

Yet still, I must blog.  I thought about skipping today with the actual excuse of illness... but I just couldn't handle that thought.  Even if all this post is is a reminder that I am here, mostly alive, and uh... that's as far as my mind is going at the moment... then at least I posted!  I am determined to stick to this schedule of mine.

Is that a sign of a true blue blogger, or just a maniac who can't let up?  Either way, here I am.

*cough... blows nose... groans.*

And so, alas, I won't blog much more today.  To make up for my lack of awesome blabbering, here are links to other bloggers who have posted recently.  Go give them love. 

Book Give-Away over at the League of Extraordinary Writers

A great post about success over on Phoenix Sullivan

Get to know Trisha a bit better over at WORD+STUFF.  I was tagged in this post... and will try to live up to its challenge... soon.

Tools to carry to prep you against the conspiring universe, posted on Pimp My Novel

Kimmel tackles one of the ultimate questions: Agent, or Independent.  Give her your two cents.

Energy.  Fading.  Mistyping almost every single word.  I think it is a sign that I must go lay back down and hope my kiddos let me get better.  I will see you all again on Wednesday.  Enjoy your holiday (if you be American that is.  If not... enjoy your day!)

To end... my second little man turned one on Saturday.  I just have to show off his cuteness and say a public "I LOVE YOU" to him.  He is priceless. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review: Divergent

Divergent
by Veronica Roth

Synopsis: (From Goodreads)

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. 


Why I Picked this Book:  I kept hearing crazy awesome ranting about this book.  Then the reviews came out, and the ones I read kept raving about its awesomeness.  So, it was bought.

My Thoughts:

Divergent is action packed and thought provoking.  It is almost hard to believe that Veronica Roth is a debut author with this piece.  She managed to create a world, make it her own, and drag me in willingly to experience every page of it.

I loved her take on this dystopian world.  Splitting the population by virtues.  It seems so simple.  Yet, at the same time, frightening.  Because once you choose your faction, you stay there.  No moving to another.  If you made the wrong decision, well, too bad for you.  You can choose to go Factionless, which everyone seems to see as worst than death.  I love it.

Beatrice/Tris was a great character.  Growing up in Abnegation (imagine futuristic passive Amish folk), she turns sixteen and must declare her Faction choice.  Normally, children choose the faction they were born and raised in.  Oh, but Tris chooses the Dauntless.  They are nuts.  They jump of trains, off buildings, beat the living daylights out of each other.  And that is just the beginning.

Divergent had a slightly slow start, but I was pulled in easily and wanted to turn each page.  My only complaints would be the slightly loose ends left about certain topics.  I know this is book one in a trilogy, so of course everything couldn't be settled in one bound copy.   Still, I felt a bit more could have been touched on to leave me slightly happier with the total package.  That is just me nitpicking though.

Roth does a fantastic job of world building.  So much is happening, so many characters are alive and breathing with their own sub-stories, that I felt I was actually there.  And Four.  Yeah.  I think I have a character crush on Four. *Blush*

And might I just add.  Fear landscapes.  Scaaaarrry.  I really don't think I could ever have the guts to face all my fears, face on, in a simulation as real as reality.  

All in all, I don't know what else I can say about Divergent.  It is full of a little of everything: Action (ok, alot of that), love (and not too much, thank goodness), betrayal, loyalty, humor...  Roth, if this is your debut novel, I cannot wait to read what else you have to come.
 


My Rating:

(5 out of 5 stars)


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WIP Day - Just real quick

There isn't too much to update for this WIP day.  I am anxiously awaiting feedback from my two readers who are helping me with my final sweep, then I finally get to plug it all in, hopefully catch all those little things, and move on!

Move on...
What does that mean for me?
Here is my plan:
I have gathered the few agents I really would love to query.  I am not going the crazy route of querying every single agent out there.  I have decided to query just the few I have researched and truly like.  Then, if all else fails...  If each agent feels my MS isn't "the one," I will turn to lovely old CreateSpace and move forward.  This is my first novel, and all I long for is to see it in print.  Held in my hands.  A final confirmation that I did this.

Granted, it would be awesome to get representation.  As much as I respect and almost lean to self-publishing at times, I cannot dispute the fact that getting a true blue agent would be amazing.  So, still crossing my fingers!

If any of you awesome readers out there have any tips, what so ever, on querying, do send them my way.  A tad nervous over here!

Aside from that, I finished my beta reading for Kimmel.  It felt good to check at least one thing off my list.  And, just let me say, this girl has talent.  Keep your eyes out...

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot with Vince James Photography.  Writing themed.  Oh, we took oodles of photos.  And it was awesome.  Vince is busy editing away and I am not sure exactly when I will get more of the stack to show off to you all, but for the time being I have attained two sample photos.  It feels awesome to actually have "author photos" that do not involve me holding my own camera out arm's length away.  Not to mention that Vince has mega talent and actually has succeeded in making me happy to see a photo of myself.  I can't wait for the rest!

So, to end this post, I will show those two off to you all.
Happy WIP day and of course, as always... Happy Writing!


Monday, May 23, 2011

The World of Beta Readers


This last week I have been focusing on finishing my beta reading of Kimmel's book.  I got behind on it, what with editing my own WIP, so as soon as I finished my round I dove into her book.  Because of that, I have been thinking a lot about beta readers.

Do you know what a beta reader is? 
I found out just last year, honestly.  I had heard the term thrown around, but never thought much about it.  Now, if you know me and my hubby, we do like our video games.  We have even played the beta versions of certain games before.  So I figured it was something like that.  Getting the "finished" product... playing (reading) it... then pointing out all the flaws and gaps and moments that it freezes/randomly shuts down.

And guess what.  That was it.  Minus the freezing/shutting down.

A beta reader reads the MS with "a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public."  (Thank you Wikipedia for speaking for me.)

Since then, I have had the chance to beta read for a couple different friends.  It is a great experience.  And a scary one.  What is even scarier?  Sending my WIP to my beta readers.  Even though I personally know each person I had as my beta reader, I still felt the ants in my pants and the jitters.  Major jitters.  Here this book is.  You have been slaving away on it for who knows how long, only mentioning the most awesome parts to the ears that will listen.  Then you edit a bit.  Make it even more awesome.  Now... here comes the test run.  It's scary!

So, today I thought I would post a few thoughts on what both the writer, and the beta, should keep in mind when beta reading away.
_____

Author:

- Make sure you do at least one, if not two, strong edit rounds before you pass it to the betas.  While their advice is needed on all levels, you want to give them something closer to the finished product, other than the rough one.  They need the magic!

- Choose your betas carefully.  These are people who will be reading your baby.  Critiquing your baby.  You need to know that you can trust their opinions and thoughts.  And that they will give opinions and thoughts.  (I'm sorry.  But  "It's good" just isn't good enough.  But I will get to that one later.)

- Give clear instructions.  Do you want an in depth, catch all grammar issues review.  Or are you mostly just looking for the gaps and the loved spots?  Make sure to explain to your betas what exactly you are needing.  Tell them to write their notes in a different color than the text.  I have found that adding something such as  "EDIT2" after each note/correction makes it easier to find them all later.  Whatever you chose, make sure to clearly tell the betas.

- While family is awesome, they may not always make the best beta readers.  It's tense enough asking friends to do this job.  Family is a whole 'nother story.  While they are usually your biggest fans and strongest rooters, they also can have a harder time being critical.  Yes, you want and need the love/adoration.  But unless you know for a fact that your family member can put aside that connection and read honestly, I would recommend to wait on their praise.

- Be open minded.  Yes, this is your baby.  Yes, you created every sentence, every page.  And I am pretty sure you think it is amazing.  (I hope you do!)  Now you have to listen to your beta readers.  As writers, we understand our entire story, even the parts not written, because it was born from our own minds.  The beta readers don't.  They will tell you where the plot gaps are.  Where they got confused, lost.  What sentences made no sense and what sections felt unneeded.  Remember: You asked them to do this.  Don't argue or get butt hurt if the entire MS doesn't return glowing with praise.  They are trying to help you, to make this the most amazing thing ever.  So, take a deep breath and try to listen.

- On that note: You don't have to do everything that every single beta suggests.  That is just what their thoughts are.  Suggestions.  While I do not advise totally disregarding all of their words, you can pick and choose.  Listen to their advice, take it to heart... then do as you the author knows best.  It is your baby.  They are the community helping it grow.

- Send it to more beta readers than you want feedback from.  From personal experience, and finding out from other writing friends, not every beta will end up finishing and sending their feedback to you.  That's ok.  It doesn't mean they hated it.  Life happens, and there really isn't much we can do about it.  So, if you are hoping for at least three solid feedbacks, send out at least six. 

-Thank them.  These beta readers did a lot for you.  They read your MS.  They shared their thoughts.  They worked hard.  So make sure to say a huge thank you, potentially with chocolate.


Beta Readers:

- Follow the instructions.  I am sure the author will send what format, feedback, etc they are wanting from you.  Do that.  Don't change it up because you feel your ideas for feedback are better.  The author has taken faith in you, and they know what they are needing back.  So, do that.

- If you commit to beta reading, do it.  While we all know that life happens, the author is depending on you.  Try to do it.  Aim to do it.  And if something comes up where you realize the job won't happen, be kind and tell the author.  Leaving them dangling in the dark until the last second isn't very kind.

- Be critical.  Many times you may just feel the urge to say "It's good" or "I love it."  While both of those are awesome to hear, they don't help much in the grand scheme of it all.  If you love a part, explain why.  Authors love praise, they really do.  And they will need it... because if you do not get a part, if you couldn't understand it or just felt strange about it... you need to tell them that too.  Being critical means living on both sides of the spectrum.  While you may love the story, it will never shine and be its best if the weaker parts don't get polished.  You, as the beta reader, are out there to find those parts.  Don't worry.  The author is trying to be open minded.  So be honest.

- On that note: Don't be brutal.  Honestly, if you just can't stand the entire piece and felt like it was a huge waste of your time... find a slightly nicer way to word it.  Even if you do like the piece, don't make the entire MS bleed.  I know we all want perfection.  But remember how hard the author has been working on this.  They are about to be smashed in the publicity world.  Break it to them nicely.  If you feel the MS needs much more work than what you see before you, email the author and speak to them directly.  Do not just tear them apart.  While you do need to point out the weak spots, make sure to also compliment on the parts that worked.

- You are their first step into the world of reviews, remember that.  The author has sent you their work.  They are now at home, nawing on their nails and pacing the floor.  They are nervous and excited.  Your thoughts mean more to them than you may know, and they need to hear them.  The book world is brutal.  They are bound to be in line for some not-so-awesome reviews in the future (Hey, every book has them!) and you are now the first. 

- Stick to the time line.  The author will more than likely tell you when they would like your feedback returned by.  Respect that.  If you find you are lagging behind, tell them.  Communication is key.  The author is likely on some sort of deadline, and they can't wait months for you to finally do what you agreed to.

- Respect their privacy.  Being a beta reader is awesome.  You have been let into the author's inner circle and entrusted with their prized possession.  Don't abuse that.  You must remember that it is still a WIP, and still being worked and tweaked until it is ready to shine.  Don't disrespect the author by bad talking the book to others.  Handing it out to others to read.  Telling people everything that happens within the pages.  Copying it and selling it as your own.  All of those are huge no-nos.  You have earned their respect.  Don't lose it.
_____

Beta reading is a great way to advance your book to the next level.  Not every writer out there has an amazing agent loaded with talented editors and a-waiting publishers.  With beta readers, we working a bit more independently have the chance to grow.  Take that chance. 

I know from personal experience that the feedback and insight given to me from my beloved beta readers was invaluable.  I don't think my WIP could have gotten to where it is now without their time and love.  My Betas, I know I say this often, but... Thank you.  I love you.

Whether you are the author sending your book out to the betas.  Or the the beta reader now ready to devour the pages in front of you, I wish you luck in this adventure.  And remember: Bring lots of chocolate.

(For another good posting about betas, check out this one.)

____________________________________________

How about you?  Have you ever been a beta reader?  Are you about to send or have sent your MS to betas?  What are your thoughts on this world?

-

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review : Enclave

Enclave
by Ann Aguirre

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE In Deuce's world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed 'brat' has trained into one of three groups-Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear--to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She's worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing's going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce's troubles are just beginning.
Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn't like following orders. At first she thinks he's crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don't always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she's never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce's perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy... but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she's ever known.


Why I Picked this Book:  Honestly?  The cover.  It was mostly all about the cover.  Then I read the first page, and I wanted it even more.

My Thoughts:
The first few chapters of Enclave pulled me in.  I was intrigued with this underground world, curious as to what drove them to live like rats in the shadows, and mortified at some of the happenings that were going on in their own world.  Aquirre's writing is easy to read and flows along, pulling you quickly into the story without hesitation.

I liked the MC, Duece.  There was something about her personality that made me want to find out what happened to her next.  Maybe it was her toughness. Her desire to be soft but her training to never soften.  Something.  At times I was a bit perturbed with her seeming inability to feel, but I was able to get past it.  Mostly.

As for the plot.  This book is in two parts.  Below ground, and above.  If I had to pick a favorite, I would choose part one (Below).  Both parts had a very different feel to them.  I found I cared more about the underground world that these kids had created, than the above ground world, abandoned and rotting.  The idea that they lived mostly in the dark.  That living to age 25 made you an elder.  That these things called "Freaks" roamed the tunnels and ate you alive... I liked that.  Alot.  I would have happily read the entire book just in that world, never bothering to find out what was above their heads.  I wanted to know more about the other enclaves.  More about some of the barely mentioned characters, including the barely explained death of one certain lady.  I was pulled into this underground world... then I was cast out.

The second part dragged.  I wanted the story to wrap up, to get that awesome climax that made me go "Ah, there's Duece!" but instead... they walked.  Then slept.  Hunted.  Walked... oh, THERE's the ending!  Wait, what?  That's not what I was hoping for... Dang it.

The idea behind the Freaks, and why the world ended, never seemed fully explained.  Were they zombies?  Mutations?  Weird hybrids?  Maybe I just missed the explanation... but when I close a book and feel like I still didn't "get it"... it makes me sad.  Maybe I am just a detail freak.  I know it is good to leave some things to mystery and in the shadows.  It leaves room for that sequel, right?  Still, I was just dying to know.  Hey, must mean she did hook me, right?

I loved the plot of this book.  The characters were believable.  Their drive was evident.  I think that if the second half hadn't dragged quite as much, and if a bit more had been explained, this book would easily have landed a 5 star from me.  As it is though, I just can't do that.  In some cases I would give a 3, but something inside just won't let me do that to the Enclave.  Blame is on the Hunter in me.  Or is it the Breeder... (Ok, book reference... looks like you need to read it!)

Enclave is a great read for someone hoping to add to their dystopian craze.  With my few minor complaints aside, this is a book I will gladly keep on my bookshelf.

My Rating:
(4 out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WIP Day - Ding Ding, Round DONE!

I finally did it.  Yes, I did.
I finished Edit Round #5. 

I thought this one would kill me.  Honestly.  Compiling all of my notes, all the beta notes.  Scouring and deciding which I would heed and which I wouldn't.  That wasn't TOO bad.  Next?  Plugging it all in.  Making parts shine like never before.  Deleting chunks.  Adding in new sections (some of which I must say I am madly in love with.)  It sure does take some time... and brain ache.

I did drag my feet more than I should have.  Excuses are just so easy to find.  Luckily, this last weekend I got "the itch" and sat down to bust out the last few chapters.  I was on a roll.  It was pretty awesome.  Took a short break Monday... then last night I polished the last two chapters and hit "Save."  Round = DONE.

My total word count is more than I thought it would be.  I ended up adding in around 6,000 words, even after deleting other chunks.  It really is crazy how a story insists on writing itself, no matter how much you try to put down your foot and declare that you are the author.

My next step?  One last round.  Hopefully.  I have two awesome friends that are both doing a sweep for me, then I will add their feedback to mine, plug away more, and...  Grammar, punctuation, misspelled words, You are going down

For the rest of this week, I am setting PN aside.  Kimmel needs her Beta feedback by this weekend, and I have been slacking.  (I'm sorry Kimmel!  I love you!) Oh, and speaking of Kimmel!  I know I have already told you that she started a blog.  Just this week she posted her official cover for her novel.  And... I made it!  Yup.  I snapped some photos of a beautiful young lady on Sunday, and made this cover for her.  I must say, I am proud of it.  Wanna check it out?  Go over to her blog and see!

Well, that's about it for my WIP update.  It feels so good to see I am this close to being done.  I love you PN, but I am ready to move on to one of my other projects.  I am still battling which book I will do for NaNoWriMo this year... but I know it will come to me!  Hopefully soon. 

Our power has bee out all morning (got to love those scheduled outages) and I have promised my kiddo that I would cuddle and watch a movie with him, now that we are back in the modern age.  So, off I go.

Happy writing!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Rise of the Dystopian


I have been a mega Dystopian fan for a long, long time.  I remember reading The Giver in middle school, then rereading it at least once a year after that.  I suck in stories like Equilibrium and Farenheight 451 as if they are air.  Just a year ago, when I told my friends that my favorite genre was dystopian, they would do one of two things:

1.  Wrinkle their noses in confusion and ask what the heck that is.
2.  Nod and walk away, obviously unsure of what I had just said but figuring it was better than asking.

It used to be nearly impossible to find a good dystopian that I hadn't already read, skimmed, devoured.  I actually became quite frustrated.  While I do adore many other genres, there was something about this particular one that had captured me.  I was hooked.

Now?  Now everyone loves dystopians.  Just in the last year, I have watched as the adoration for the genre has spiked.  Shelves at the bookstores are jam-packed with dystopians and people are raving about this brilliant take.  While I do relish the fact that I don't have to dig as hard at the stores now to find my favorite genre (I just bought three this week), I find I am also somewhat dismayed.

Movies have been rampant with dystopians for ages.  If you like scifi, you like dystopian movies.  Many of the required reading in school consisted of select dystopian titles.  So, why is it that everyone is acting like this is a new fangled genre?  As a fan of years, I feel almost put off that it hadn't recieved this love so much sooner.

But hey, at least it is getting love now.

My other issue?  I write dystopian.  While I do write other genres, my current WIP and few other future ones are dystopian.  A few years ago, my novel stood a great chance at being picked up in the market.  It was unique and different.  Now?  Now the market is flooded and almost impossible for my little dystopian here.  I have even heard it first hand from an agent.  The competition is so high, it is almost rediculous.  So, do I stand a chance?

I think that is my biggest worry.

Readers.  Enjoy these awesome takes on the future.  The fun part is the crazy ideas the author turned into almost reality as you flip the pages.  The scary part is seeing them come true in the world around us.
Let's hope the love stays long enough, at least, for these few futures I have written and plan to write. *crossing fingers*

Now the big question stands: What will the next big thing be? 
We have gone through Vampires.  Werewolves.  Zombies.  A touch of angels.  Is there another new craze just around the corner?  Will dystopians stay, or fade into the memories of once turned pages?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Book Review: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood
by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright

Synopsis: (From Goodreads)
The blacksmith would marry her.
The woodcutter would run away with her.
The werewolf would turn her into one of its own.
Valerie's sister was beautiful, kind, and sweet. Now she is dead. Henry, the handsome son of the blacksmith, tries to console Valerie, but her wild heart beats fast for another: the outcast woodcutter, Peter, who offers Valerie another life far from home.
After her sister's violent death, Valerie's world begins to spiral out of control. For generations, the Wolf has been kept at bay with a monthly sacrifice. But now no one is safe. When an expert Wolf hunter arrives, the villagers learn that the creature lives among them--it could be anyone in town.
It soon becomes clear that Valerie is the only one who can hear the voice of the creature. The Wolf says she must surrender herself before the blood moon wanes...or everyone she loves will die.

Why I Picked this Book:  I saw the movie preview.  It looked good.  So, of course, I just had to read the book first.

My Thoughts:
Red Riding Hood pulled me in.  Then let me go.  Then pulled me in. Then let me go.  I would hit a spot where I wanted to keep reading, then directly after I would throw the book down and declare that I can't read any more.  I have such mixed feelings about this book I almost didn't post a review.  But you know I couldn't do that.

First off, I do like the idea of retelling fairy tales.  Some people have argued that its just taking another's work and adding a bit then claiming the reward.  To me, it's taking the great inspiration of a story, then creating your own world around it.  Voila.  More magic in a world where magic is dying.

That being said, I had such a hard time getting a handle on this book.  Valerie, the MC, felt slightly bland to me, only sparking to life near the end of the story.  Her "friends" frustrated the heck out of me, her parents didn't seem fully real.  The only character that really intrigued me was her Grandmother, who you barely saw.  And Peter, who appeared and disappeared so much I began to think he was a magician.

As for the POV, it frustrated me.  While 3rd person does give the author more liberty to switch to other characters, I just don't think that it is a good idea to do it almost every other paragraph at times.  That is most likely the reason that I had a hard time connecting to Valerie.  One second you are following her.  The very next you are reading about how her friend thinks she brings all the boys to the yard, the next you are in the head of the boy obsessed with his tarot cards, then hey, back to Valerie!

Like I said though, I did get pulled in.  The story, it turns out, is about a werewolf who is attacking this small village every full moon.  It usually took animal sacrifices, but now, it's taking humans.  And Valerie is at the center of it.  It became almost impossible to guess who the werewolf was.  It seemed the larger antagonist became Father Solomon, a "God-fearing" man who has come to kill the demon.  Yeah, who isn't afraid of those guys?  This is a dark story.  Darker than I expected.

Don't get me started on the ending.  You know that loose ends bug me.  What's worse?  And ending that doesn't feel like an ending?  I'm sorry if this somehow spoils something for you... but I got the end and kept flipping through the back pages, looking the missing true ending.  It bugged me!

While the world building was mostly believable, and while I could picture the book quite easily... I just don't know what I think of it.  I was disappointed.  There, I said it.  The main reason I picked up this book was because I like to read the book first, if I can, before seeing the movie.  In this case, I am looking forward to seeing the movie and hoping it somehow redeems a large chunk of this read.

I have been battling which rating to give this book.  I am going to settle with a 3, based solely on the world building, the crazy religious man, and the fact that it DID pull me in... most times.  Just for your knowledge, it was very close to getting a 2 star though.  Hopefully you can enjoy this book a smidge more than I personally did.

My Rating:
(3 out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WIP Day - or the lack off...

Happy WIP day. 
Ok, happy maybe "happy" isn't the best choice.

I know many of you fellow bloggers out there also have WIP days.  And I know, just like myself, you have too many WIP days when you have nothing WIP-ish to update.  Today is that day for me.  I know how you feel.  It makes you feel horrible.  Like you aren't doing your work as hard as you should be.  Or aren't showing your WIP as much love as it deserves.  Like you, some how, are letting down your many blogging friends with the fact that you didn't rock the awesome this last week.

Never fear.  It happens to the best of us.  Life does happen, as much as we wish we had control over it like we do our make-believe worlds.  Children call, work demands, sleep eludes.  We can't always ignore life.  And so, our WIP takes the brunt of it and gets pushed to the side.

Poor WIP.
Its ok though.  WIP will never leave.  WIP loves you.  WIP needs you. 
You are not a horrible writer.  You should not give up.  You should not go back to only your day job and put aside this crazy dream of yours.

So if you, like myself, found that this last week you sorely neglected your needy WIP, don't fret or feel guilty.  Just make a point to give it a little extra love in the days to come.  Soon we will all be at the point where we will have this amazing piece of work in hand, finished and polished.  A true novel.  And the days of WIP love/hate/guilt/joy will be all but a memory.

So, again I say:  Happy WIP day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chub is just excess creativity build-up.



I have noticed something, something most scary and intimidating.  It follows me wherever I go.  It refuses to leave.  And it keeps trying to grow.

What is this demon you ask?  Oh, I will tell you.  It is *gasp* flab.
It's alright.  Take a moment to be scared.  I sure did.

One thing that I have honestly and fully come to notice is this: We writers, we sit.  Alot.  We snack.  Alot.  We drink sugary drinks.  Alot.  And where is all of this "alot" going?  To our midrifts.  Our thighs.  Our well sat-upon butts.

Back in the day, I was pretty active in school.  I was very dedicated to Track, along with being a hard-core thespian always sweating it out on the stage.  Though I did often complain of feeling fat (what girl doesn't?) I know I never was.  Yes, I was a stick.  I will admit it.  There, I said it.

Then came mommy-hood.  I have brought two amazing little boys into this world.  I have gained weight.  I have lost it.  Most of it.  But there are certain parts of my body which refuse to ever return to their once flat and awesome looks.

Now, a stay-at-home mommy, writing in any spare moment I can find, this flab has come to haunt me.  I feel it at every moment.  I hate my tummy and sport the sweatshirt a tad bit more than I like.  Alright, I am still "slim."  But I am so far from being in shape.  So, so far. 

This seems to be a dilemma for many many writers out there.  How can we avoid it if all we do is sit?  We need the sitting time.  Our art begs for it.  Our creativity calls for the snacks and caffeinated beverages to sustain it.  We cannot write while running.  We cannot edit without chocolatey encouragement.  And we know, for sure, that we cannot sacrifice this small amount of time that we do have for our art to do something as tedious as running or yoga or... um... whatever other kind of exercising you refuse to do.

So, what to do?
That, dear reader, is a very good question.

I would love to make a proposal.  Writers.  Bloggers.  Random stumblers to my blog.  Make a goal to move your body.  Even if its just a small break between writing sessions, do it.

Write a chapter.  Do twenty jumping jacks.  Write another chapter.  Run around your apartment/house/boat/wherever you are.  Edit a few pages.  Dance like a monkey, do a downward dog.  Ok, I am getting a bit ridiculous, but you get the idea.

This last week I have been attempting to move more.  Once my kids are in bed, before I allow my butt to glue to this swivel chair of mine, I exercise a bit.  The time varies, the intensity ebs and flows.  But I can tell you this: This last week, I have felt much more intense on my editing, because I feel great.  I am sore.  I am tired.  But my belly doesn't feel as loose and I just don't feel quite as disgusting.  Which, somehow, is making me want to edit more.

What think you?  Are you willing to let your fingers take a break every so often as you let your heart rate actually rise above the "I'm a tortured writer" rate?  Don't take a facebook break.  Take a "flab begone" break.  Who knows.  This could be the start of a new era:  Hot writers.  Oh yes.  I can see it now.

Remember though: Don't push yourself.  Never let your book make you feel bad about how you look.  You are beautiful.  You are an amazing writer, who is so devoted to your work that you accidentally let other things in your life slip.  Hey, it's never to late to fix things though.  Right?

And, for kicks and giggles, when all else fails, here are some quotes I have coined for you to use as a great excuse for your new writerly figure:
"I'm a writer.  The chub is just excess creativity build-up."

"This isn't a spare tire.  It's my spare plots."

"The flab is a sign that I let my fingers do the walking."

"I wanted to exercise today, but my antagonist got in the way."

"I just got out of my Post-Novel-Writing Hibernation and am working on wearing off my winter build-up."

"More to love, more to write."

"It's book gut."

"My protagonist loves me just the way I am."

Ok you followers, go do something.  Then, when your done, get back to writing!  Happy Monday.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review: The Compound

The Compound
By S.A. Bodeen

Synopsis: (From Powells)
Eli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they've become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy. No amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place, with only his two sisters, only his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day. As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary and their sanity, Eli can't help but wonder if he'd rather take his chances outside. Eli's father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe, really?

Why I Picked this Book:   I had skimmed its synopsis and it sounded interesting.  When I saw it on sale at Powells, I figured "Hey, why not" and snatched it up.  Plus I do love the cover.

My Thoughts:
The Compound wasn't what I was expecting.  I finished it a few days ago and have honestly been sitting around, wondering what to say about it.  The idea behind the plot line is very intriguing.  The execution though... put me off.

For the first half or so of the book, I had a hard time connecting with Eli, the MC.  I just couldn't like him.  Or sympathize.  But I couldn't fully hate him either.  He kept many things secret, even from the reader, and after a while I just became frustrated.  One minute he would ramble about how he didn't like to touch anyone, the next he was punching on his little sister.  Nothing felt fully consistent.  And frankly... I got bored.

Which maybe was the aim.  Because all the characters were bored, trapped in this awesomely huge underground Compound, safe from the nuclear war they believed raged outside.

I mentioned the secrets.  Ok.  So of course in a book you don't want to spill all the beans in chapter one.  But in The Compound, I found I kept flipping back through pages, feeling like I had missed something because of how often Eli refers back to all these secrets and memories.  But never actually mentions them.  It felt like I was just expected to know there were things he wasn't telling us from the get go, and accept it.  I finally had to just give up and hope it was all explained.  Which it was... in a rush.

There was one aspect of the book (The Supplements behind the yellow door... aka: Babies) that I think would have been better if it was focused on a bit more.  Come on.  Breeding babies as a back up food supply??  At least, that's what I gathered it was for.  Again, it was never fully explained.  Made me kind of cringe though... ew...

Alright.  The parts I liked?  Well, Eli's father was pretty creepy.  Itchy, braniac, millionaire... everything you need to breed a great mental case.  Which he was.  Here I was, thinking it was a book about the end of the world and surviving nuclear war and all that.  No... its a book about an insane father and his unlucky family.

Eerie, yes.  What I thought it would be... no.

Overall, it wasn't a horrible book.  Good writing, good thoughts.  It just wasn't my cup of tea.  When I feel more frustrated and confused than satisfied and page-flipping... I know its a book that didn't make my top lists.  Because of all that, I give it a two-star out of respect still for the writing and plot.

My Rating:
(2 out of 5 stars)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

WIP Day - The Prepping Has Begun

It's Wednesday.  Meaning it is WIP day.
So, updates you ask.  Um well, updates.  I have updates. *Searches for updates...*

Ok ok, I will admit it.  I have been bad.  I did edit one chapter last night.  One.  But hey, one is better than none, right?  Needless to say, I am behind schedule.  I think those writer blues have a firm grasp of me, and man are they evil!  But I am fighting them.  I know it is normal to lose confidence.  As long as I don't quit, all is good, right?

Writing, I love you.  I adore you.  I cannot live without you.  Editing... eh... not so much.
But the beat goes on.

(Side note:  Kimmel, my friend I mention here off and on, has finally started her own blog.  Go show her love... HERE!)

I decided for my WIP day today I also wanted to mention NaNoWriMo.
"It's in November," You say. "It is May.  Why are you mentioning it?"

Well, it was about this time last year that I started to prep for the awesome event.  Mind you, I didn't make plot lines and arcs and crazy time lines full of every possible event that would take place in PN.  I am much much more of a pantser than that.  But I did settle on the story and started to let my brain do the thinking.

Now, I am torn as to what my NaNovel 2011 will be.  I have three great ideas.  Ok, great to me.  I love each for its own reason.  I have one I keep leaning strongly to... but then I bounce over to another for a moment or days or... you get the idea.  I would love to settle on one already and start to let the creation begin, but it's like picking a spouse.  It needs to be "the one." 

Here are the mock covers I have whipped up for the three ideas.  Yes... can you tell I used them as a reason to not edit?  I am awesome.  Mind you, I do not have full rights to all the images shown.  Hence them being mock covers and nothing else.  Still, I would love to know what you think.  Judging the book on the COVER (ooo what a sin) which would you personally choose for my NaNovel?



I am really looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year.  PN will be done.  (Yes, it will!)  My mind will be free to create a new world.  (Dangerous?)  And for that one month out of the year I feel more connected to the writing world than any other time (But don't get me wrong Bloggers.  I love you.  I can't live without you.  Honestly.)

So, are you joining up this year?  Have you got your story picked?  What process have you gone through to pick your NaNovel?  I am all... eyes.

Happy writing!

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Top 10 Procrastination Devices

I have been searching all the many blogs I stalk, trying to find the one who inspired my post for today.  But alas, my search failed.  So I will start this with a slight disclaimer.  I saw a fellow blogger do a post like this and I loved the idea.  If you were that blogger, thanks for triggering my head!  And feel free to note your wonderfull-ness.

Ok.

We all have our distractions.  Our reasons for why we just couldn't write/edit during that prestine time where our fingers should have been flying.  Do we admit it to ourselves though?  Or do we just declare it is because we got busy and didn't have time that day, that week, to write?

Well, here is my confession. 
A list of my Top 10 (as I can think of them right now.  I know there are more...) Procrastination reasons.  *dun dun dun*


1.  Kids.  My kids are my life, they really are.  And they are so much my life that they do not want to allow for me to have any life besides them.  I have two amazing little boys, full of energy to the brim, and always tugging at my arms for mommy attention.  How can I say no to a game of ice cream man or doing yet another puzzle, even when my WIP is crying for me as well?

2.  TV.  I love TV.  And Movies.  I love curling up on the couch in my zebra snuggie (yes, I have a zebra snuggie) and mindlessly watching show after show.  Netflix instant watch has ruined me.  I am hopelessly addicted to House.  And Glee.  How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory.  Army Wives.  Oh, the list... don't get me started on our DVD cabinet...

3.  Facebook.  Truth be told, I never sign out.  I am a stay-at-home mommy.  Facebook has become my only connection to the outside world.  I sit down to edit.  Then I see a friend is online and just have to say 'hi.'  Oh, what's that?  There are 200 new posts in the newsfeed?  Well, I just need to catch up!  Thank goodness I have at least been able to kick the Farmville/Zenga game fix.  Those were bad...

4.  StumbleUpon.  If you have not discovered this site yet, and you are serious about your writing, then do not look it up.  I won't even describe it.  I don't want to be your downfall.  But let me tell you, I have spent countless -er- hours, hitting the Stumble button.  I have found some awesome writing sites/tips that way, but that is still no excuse.  I need to do what I did during NaNoWriMo: Remove that button!

5.  Books.  My Kryptonite.  You have seen my posts.  I am addicted.  Major time.  I bought a new bookshelf from Walmart this week (that fiasco almost deserves a post of its very own) and it is already full of books.  Still, I want more.  My wishlists are full to the brim.  I hunger for the bookstore.  I spend way too much time searching through synopsis, browsing listings.  Reading.  Lots and lots of reading.  And while reading is a good thing, a great thing, it isn't really getting much done on my writing front.  Dang you, awesome books!

6.  Photo Editing.  If you don't know, my other passion is photography.  I spent hours last night drooling over DSLRs online.  I have folders full of hundreds of photos filling my hard-drive.  I love to edit them, to turn them into art.  I am trigger happy.  While it's nice knowing that my children will never lack in childhood photos...  And while I do every so often make money on the side with my click-happiness... This is a major distraction as well.  "Hm, edit a chapter... or edit this amazingly adorable photo of my baby taking a bath in the kitchen sink."  Which do you think wins every time?

7.  Hubby.  I love my hubby.  He is the perfect man for me and I crave for him to come home every day, pretty much as soon as he leaves for work.  The problem then?  When he is home, I want to be around him.  Talking his ear off.  Laughing.  Fall into my Procrastination issues number 1 and 2.  There have been times I am just sitting at my computer, talking to him, when I realize a few hours have gone by and my mouse is still hovering over my WIP doc.  Hey, he needs credit though: A ton of my writing ideas stem from a spark of a conversation with Hubby.  He is my awesome muse.

8.  Sleep.  I just can't give it up!  I am already sleep deprived from my children... when night time rolls around and I know I could be writing, I hear the call of my cozy bed.  My bedroom, the walls layered in bookshelves holding all my paperback and hardcover loves.  My pillow and blankets.  Sleep... my friend...

9.  Cleaning.  Believe it or not, I use this as a procrastination device.  "Oh, I finally have time to write.  Yay!  Wait... I saw dust starting to gather on a shelf in my bedroom.  I must dust it then spray it with cleaner and make it shine.  While I'm at it, I guess I should wash all my bedding, vacuum the carpet, reorganize my shoes..."  See where this is going?  Hubby loves it when I get these fixes.  My writing... not so much!

10.  This Blog.  Oh, come on.  You knew it was coming.  Yes, keeping a blog is a good thing.  It gives me a place to vent and create.  I am getting the chance to meet all of you wonderful stalkers.  Hopefully someday it will help by being a key player in publicity for my books.  At the same time though, here I am writing this awesome post when I could have been editing my book instead.  What to do what to do.  What a pickle.  


Ok, there are my top 10.  I know I need to work on them.  A game plan is needed to push those buggers aside and let me do my thing: Write.  I will work on that.  Tomorrow.  Haha.  No, I will work on it now, today, because I love my writing and it is worth it. 

So... here I go.  Ending this post!

Do you feel brave enough to acknowledge your top 10?  Do share!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's a Carnival!

Hello all.  I hope your Sunday is going fantastically.  It's nice and sunny here.  I forgot how awesome it is to have sunbeams streaming through the window!  I feel like a kitty, stretching out in the patch on the ground.  Sadly, my hubby is working today, so I am enjoying the day like any other day: Playing with kiddos, editing here and there, and surfing the blogosphere.

And I just had to share:

It's a Carnival!  Whaaaat?
Head on over to Pure Imagination to discover an awesome Spring Carnival.  It is jam-packed full of games, challenges, and best of all: Give-Aways.  We all love a good give-away, and let me tell you... this Carnival hit the jackpot!

I have been browsing through all the participating blogs, enjoying their posts, entering for their give-aways, and following almost every single one.  This Carnival will end on May 8th, so go enjoy it while you can!

As a fore-warning.  There are a few books I really want to win, and so will be posting a post later in the week about them (extra entries are always nice!).  Off-schedule, yet again.  Isn't it great?

Ok, off I go to explore some more.  Hope to see you all around!  I will be the one chomping down on cotton candy and dancing in an ultimate sugar (book) high.

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