Friday, May 7, 2010

Giving in to temptation

I decided to go ahead and start the new novel I've been thinking about. Why not. I want to write for fun right now, and I'm not having fun right now writing The List of Heroes. So this new baby of mine is titled FAKE (yes, in caps). At least, that's the working title. A good deal of it is going to be written in emails and instant message conversations, but I'm having a bit of trouble with this.
Is there a standard way one is supposed to format those kinds of things? Or does one just make it up for oneself? If anyone knows, I'd love to hear it.

I'm probably going to be blogging a lot about this novel, mostly because I'm so darn excited about it. But it would be fun and probably useful to totally document the experience.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuesday Writer's Block...

Yeah, I'm not only going to write about reading here, I'm also going to harp on about my own writing. Because I'm kind of a shameless self-promoter.

Anyway, I started writing when I was six. My first story was called Lost Sheep, Come to Me. It was about a girl who had a pet sheep, but one day, IT GOT LOST! OH NO, right? Yeah. Well that girl searched and searched for her little sheepy-poo, but she didn't find it. It got hit by a car and died. Then the girl got a pony. My parents still have this story, written and illustrated in crappy smudged pencil, in a box of my stuff in the basement. This kicked off my addiction to writing. Many, many crappy stories followed it, mostly rip-offs of whatever I was reading at the time. I wrote my first really original story when I was eight. It was called Beth of Junivele... it was a fantasy story about some girl who got transported to some faraway land where she was a princess. It was never finished, but got to the twenty-page marker, which of course made me think I was a child prodigy.

I kind of stopped writing for a couple years, besides stupid emo diaries, and I then I started writing another epic fantasy story about a girl named Ea. Yeah. Ea. Pronounced Eeee. This is the funniest, most tragic attempt at writing seriously, and I sometimes get it out to read and have a laugh. Then when I was twelve I started writing fanfiction religiously, Harry Potter and my 100 page Lord of the Rings sequel. Again, completely lame and tragic.

Then came grade eight. Thirteen years old. I was working on a School of Rock fanfiction, and our school was visited by an author. A real, live author. She had written some Middle Grade novels, none that I'd heard of. I wasn't really interested in her presentation, until I heard her say that one of her novels was 30,000 words. That was precisely the length of my fanfiction, and it wasn't even finished yet. Just sitting there in that class room, the realization that I could - had! - written a novel hit me. My heart was pounding.

So over the next two weeks I finished my fanfiction, and I went back and changed every name so that it was no longer a fanfiction. It was my own novel, dammit! I had written a novel. Again, I had that child prodigy feeling. I was fucking thirteen and I had written a novel! How badass was I?! I had visions of publishing executives pounding at my door, begging for the thirteen-year-old genius to sign a contract with them. I wanted to start popping multiple copies in the mail right then and there.

But there was a problem: I didn't know anything about the publishing industry that I was going to conquer. So I started researching. And in researching, I discovered that I should probably start revising this amazing novel of mine. I also discovered how very easy it is to get sucked into a project and start to shamelessly procrastinate. I never did send that novel out. Thank god, because it sucked!

But I kept writing. I wrote another sucky novel, the sequel to that first one. But of course, at the time I thought it was fucking amazing omg and would get me uber-famous. I actually really wish I still had this novel, because it might be good for a laugh these days, but unfortunately it was lost in the Great Accidental Deleting-of-Files.

I guess I kind of forgot about my publication dreams for a while. In the summer before grade nine, I wrote a novel about a girl who worked as a roadie for her brother's rock band, and it was twice as long as my other novels, and actually didn't suck too bad. I was definitely improving. And in October of grade nine, in Social Studies class, I wrote the first paragraph of the novel that was to become an obsession. It was called Ambulance, and it was about two gay boys. At first it was a short story, but I decided to expand it into an entire novel. Because by this point I was really good at that.

I started writing it and letting my friends read it. They became my fans, and they passed each chapter around as I wrote it, and before long I had dozens of "subscribers", not only in my own grade but in the older grades, as well. It was pretty thrilling to actually have people talking to me instead of tripping me and throwing food at me. I'm actually still working on Ambulance - it's the only one of my early novels that shows signs of not being total crap. I actually consider it the best thing I've written so far. Too bad it took four years to get it to that point.

So directly after Ambulance, I wrote another short novel about gay guys. Then another one. Then another. That brings us to grade twelve, age sixteen, when I wrote a NaNo novel about superheroes that I didn't really finish. Then I wrote a lot of poetry. Then another NaNo novel that I did finish, The Superhero Effect, which I'm now revising. Now I'm working on the sequel to that, The List of Heroes.

But... I'm kind of petering out on it. It's getting to be a lot of work, just sitting down to write and upping my word count. I guess since I got my new MacBook distractions have been plentiful. But I also think I'm just losing interest in it a little bit. There's a new idea trying to seduce me away from it. I'm trying to decide if I should start this new project, and put this one on hold for a while.

Or maybe I should keep at it, skip the hard parts and write out-of-order, just to get a messy first draft down. I think that's what I need to do. Or, that's what the novel needs me to do. And I do want to finish it, I do! I'm still in love with the idea, especially since I had an amazing jackpot idea for how to tie up the whole trilogy.

It's just this new idea is so appealing :( I think because it has to do with gay guys again. I haven't written about them in a while and for some reason I love it.

Anyway... just trying to figure out what to do here. This is as good a place as any to vent!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Review: Rampant

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
416 pg. Harper, 2009.

Jacket Copy: Forget everything you ever knew about unicorns. Real unicorns are venomous, man-eating monsters with huge fangs and razor-sharp horns. Fortunately, they've been extinct for a hundred and fifty years.


Astrid as always scoffed at her eccentric mother's stories about killer unicorns. But when one of the monsters attacks her boyfriend - thereby ruining any chance of him taking her to the prom - Astrid finds herself headed to Rome to train as a unicorn hunter at the ancient cloisters the hunters have used for centuries.

However, at the cloisters all is not what it seems. Outside, the unicorns wait to attack. And within, Astrid faces other, unexpected threats: from the crumbling, bone-covered walls that vibrate with a terrible power to the hidden agendas of her fellow hunters to - perhaps most dangerously of all - her growing attraction to a handsome art student. . . an attraction that could jeopardize everything.

Hook: 10

I'll admit it: when I first read what this book was about, I laughed out loud. Killer unicorns? Killer... unicorns?! No way this could be pulled off, let alone taken seriously! So, even though it had me doubting, the hook definitely, well, hooked me. And let me tell you, if you're skeptical about this book, it will surprise you.

Characters: 8

Okay, they were good, but they weren't completely vibrant, leaping-off-the-page brilliant. At times it felt like there were too many of them to keep track of. Some of Astrid's fellow unicorn hunters kind of blended together in my mind. But the ones that matter, especially Astrid, are great. Although one of the most prominent secondary characters, Astrid's cousin Philippa, is kind of irritating. Okay, kind of a lot irritating.

Originality: 10

Take a look at the teen section of any bookstore. You'll see MILLIONS of vampire novels. You'll see scores of werewolf novels. "Immortal people" novels, check. Books about people who see auras/ghosts, check. You will not see another killer unicorns book - and I hope it stays that way. Rampant gets a 10 for originality.

Obsessability: 10

This is one of the books I think about constantly. I've had killer unicorn dreams, and I even daydream about them. I've even identified myself as a unicorn hunter when nosy people inquire about my virginity xD That's about as book-obsessed as you can get.

Romance: 8

Romances in teen literature can be either done really right, or done really, really wrong. It's kind of one of my sore spots. Rampant's romance is pretty good, as far as they go. There is that "essential wrongness" there, providing lots of sexual tension, so that's good. I hate spark-less romances.

Setting: 8

Ah, Rome. Definitely one of the places I have to visit in my lifetime. Diana Peterfreund's writing was very close to bringing it to life. Just an inch away from me being like whoa how'd I get to Rome?! I swear I was just reading in my bedroom!

Plot: 8

I wouldn't say this book is super plot-centric... but what is there is pretty fascinating. The history of the unicorns is woven into the plot really well, and I really didn't expect some of the plot twists. So that's good!

Relatability: 10

As a somewhat overdue virgin myself, I could definitely relate to a lot of the issues in this book. Plus I was also really into unicorns as a kid :)

X-Factor: 9

Someone NEEDS to make this into a movie! My only concern is that it might be kind of a niche market, so it probably won't happen.

Ending: 9

The staple of every fantasy book: epic battle scene. What's not to love? Plus there is a sequel, so YAY. It's called Ascendant, and will be released by HarperTeen on September 28th, 2010. One of the things I'm looking forward to in '10!

Total: 90 (A)

Verdict: Arguably my favourite book of 2009. Seriously, go buy it today, or place it at the top of your to-read list.