Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thoughts on The Chosen One

Yesterday I finished reading a book. So, having some more time on my hands, I grabbed another one from my TBR pile - The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. I started it, not expecting to totally fall in love with it. But that's what I did.

The Chosen One is about a fourteen-year-old girl, Kyra, who lives in a polygamist cult compound with her father, mother, her father's two other wives, and her twenty siblings. Basically the inciting event of the novel is when the leader of the compound, Prophet Childs, tells Kyra that God has shown him a vision, and that Kyra must marry her sixty-year-old uncle Hyrum.

Yeeeeah, this book is pretty intense.

Carol Lynch Williams' writing is AMAZING. I recently read her newest novel, Glimpse, which is a verse novel that I really loved and that's the reason I picked this one up. I was expecting The Chosen One to also be a verse novel. It isn't, but Williams' writing style and Kyra's voice are so poetic and so deeply descriptive that they sometimes break the mould of traditional narrative and turn into short bursts of raw crazy poetry.

This book was so engaging, so emotional and suspenseful that I finished it in a couple hours. I haven't done this in a very, very long time.

This book is absolutely amazing, I just want to lend it to everyone I know!

5/5, easily!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Sleek Sentences

I'm a college student majoring in Creative Writing, and as such, I see a lot of grammar stuff. A lot of bad grammar stuff that makes my head hurt. Some of my fellow students (and not just in writing classes, in every kind of class) write really bloated sentences with lots of thrown-in adjectives and adverbs to add description. But let me tell you...

adjectives + adverbs + extra words good description!

A lot of people also tend to beef up their sentences with extra words that mean nothing in an attempt to sound important or smart.

I'm no English teacher. I've been known to write many a clunky sentence. But I've also fixed a lot of my own mistakes, so maybe I can help you to write sleek sentences.

Let's have an example of that adjective-heavy kind of writing I mentioned above.

[talking about apple trees] Their usually crisp red fruit and radiant green leaves no longer hold their glory.

This is really pretty. You can totally visually picture it, can't you? But... I think the most beautiful part of that sentence is the "no longer hold their glory" part. By saying that the fruit is "crisp" and "red" and that the leaves are "radiant" and "green" and THEN to say that they actually aren't those things right now, I think is misleading.

My correction: The dead fruit and leaves no longer hold their glory.

By cutting out the extra adjectives, we've taken the sentence down from 14 words to just 10. If you skimmed every sentence in your work and evaluated whether or not every adjective needed to be there, you can make your novel or story a lot more concise, and no less beautiful!

Then there's the clunky, extra words that sometimes plague sentences. For example:

The rain hasn't stopped in days and today is no exception.

"...and today is no exception" is just a repetition of what was said in the first part of the sentence! Why don't we just take it down to "The rain hasn't stopped in days" or better yet, "It's been raining for days"? The meaning is intact, it's just a sleeker, more aerodynamic sentence.

So comb through your writing when you're at that editing stage. Look for adjectives and adverbs you can eliminate. Look for places where you're using multiple words instead of just one (why call it a "crisp red fruit" when you can just call it an apple?). Your word count, editor, and reader will thank you for it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (3)

video


I've never done a vlog before! But I liked doing this one and will probably do more!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Songs on Saturday (4)

On the occasional Saturday, I bring you a song I've been listening to recently that's inspired my writing and/or reading!

This week, the song is...




This song is deliciously creepy. Great for writing or reading atmospheric, emotionally-tense scenes. I first heard it in the book trailer for Holly Cupala's Tell Me a Secret, and was unable to get it out of my head. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Post-Call!

OMG YOU GUYS.

No offer of representation - yet. She gave me a long, in-depth critique and a lot of things she'd like to see in a revision. So I'm to resubmit after revising!

I'm really stoked. I have like a million revision ideas zipping around my head. And I can't believe that it was actually the most comfortable phone conversation I've ever had. She emailed me the readers reports about my manuscript and I'm completely in love and I'm going to work hard x a billion on this revision.

Now that I've had a taste of this, I want it soooo much more!

Could it be "The Call"?

Breathe in... breathe out... breathe in... breathe out.

That's how you calm down, right?

Okay, I am very calm.

In about half an hour my phone is going to ring, and on the other line will be an agent who read my full and scheduled this phone call.

Who am I kidding, I'm not calm at all. My heart is beating so fast that my chest is jiggling with each heartbeat! I'm not even good at talking on the phone with my best friends, I get so nervous.

But at the same time I'm excited as all hell. Will the call bear good news? Will I have a heart attack and die before the phone even rings? Stay tuned for the post-call blog post to find out.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thoughts on Love is the Higher Law

Today, as you probably knew, is the 9th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Centre. Living far away from NYC, my experience on that day was definitely not the dramatic, emotional story so many people in the blogosphere have been sharing today. I was 10 years old, I woke up to the radio, and my mom and I listened to the emergency broadcast.

I went to school, and our teachers were told to explain to us exactly what had happened and what was currently going on to the people of NYC. But we were kids, and we were far away, and the day was pretty much a regular school day. Of course, in the weeks and months (and basically years) that followed that day, the media continued to dissect the event over and over and over. I'd say that mainstream media everywhere was changed forever on that day.

So today I thought I'd present my thoughts on David Levithan's novel, Love is the Higher Law, to commemorate the event.

David Levithan is one of my favourite authors on the planet, so when I found this book on the shelf at my local library a few months ago I freaked out. WHAT??!! A DAVID LEVITHAN BOOK I'VE NEVER HEARD OF?!?! GIVE IT HERE!!!

I read it in a day. And, holy crap, what an emotionally charged day that was.

Even if you didn't experience that day first-hand, even if you're from the other side of the world from NYC, even if up until now you never really thought 9/11 was that big a deal, like I did... you should read this book. Being non-American, I always thought of 9/11 in terms of the big, sappy, patriotic memorial commercials on American TV, where they blared that Sarah McLachlan song (even though she's Canadian, from my hometown, but I digress). I always thought of the whole tragedy as another thing the U.S. was all woe-is-me over for no reason.

But after reading Love is the Higher Law, I feel like I understand. Of course, I can't really understand the true horror of what it must have been like to actually be there, but I've come a lot closer. David Levithan's story evokes all the sadness the reader has ever felt, all the feelings of loss, fear, shock, and absolute terror, and ties it to the event of 9/11 to rouse your compassion. Even if you weren't there, you'll feel like you were, because you have experienced a taste of what it was like, through David's incredible writing.

In terms of characters, I loved Jasper and Peter. They broke my heart. Didn't so much care for Claire's part of the story, thought she was a bit too saintly... but this book defies its flaws.

5/5. Seriously, buy this and read it now.

The cover always gives me chills.

Monday, September 6, 2010

19!

Today is my 19th birthday.

Which, where I live, means ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES.

(I don't usually smoke or drink at all... but I'm going to today because I can, and the government can't stop me anymore)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rejection on a Partial Today...

Which is a little disappointing, for sure. But in her big, long email, she did bring up one issue I think might be a genuine concern: the manuscript may need to be "Americanized." I mean, it's pretty obvious that I'm Canadian. Besides just using British spelling, there may be other subtle grammar issues.

If the other agents who have the manuscript bring it up, as well, I'll have to do a substantial revision for this. /Sigh.

Let's hope for better news on my other submissions!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

At Last... Mockingjay

(Post is spoiler-free)

I waited. Since finishing Catching Fire, I'd counted down the days. Expectations built in my head.

Oh, expectations. Good seldom comes of expectations, especially when books are involved.

Mockingjay was...

I'm having trouble groping for an adjective right now. And I'm a writer. Words are actually escaping me right now.

I got it at midnight, the minute it came out, basically. I had the next two days booked off work, so I could blaze through it. But by the time those two days were up, I wasn't even halfway through. I only finished it yesterday, more than a week after starting it.

How is it that the book I've been anticipating for so long didn't grab me and BEG me to finish it?!

I'm still asking myself this question, and here's the answer I think I have: Mockingjay was good, a satisfying end to an amazing trilogy, but it was not the book I thought it was going to be.

I was expecting an explosive story, an incredibly fast-paced, uber-complicated plot with an earth-shattering revelation at the end. Something that twisted everything we'd previously believed about Panem and the Hunger Games on its head into something completely different.

And what I got was... a whole lot of Katniss.

Katniss is a great character. But Mockingjay's focus was not on Panem, or even the revolution as a whole. Mockingjay was more of a character study than the action/suspense thriller the series had me expecting. It detailed the psychological repercussions of surviving as terrible an ordeal as the Hunger Games beautifully. It was far more literary than the previous two books in the series had been, and that made it feel somewhat separate, for me, kind of out-of-place.

I wasn't disappointed with the ending. I feel like the ending came naturally from the seeds sown in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. (*spoiler alert*: Although I was a bit vexed that Suzanne Collins took the same route as J.K. Rowling with the epilogue, hers was better because it stayed vague and wasn't cheesy)

I did enjoy Mockingjay, just to find out how everything played out. While I do respect Suzanne Collins' choices in regards to her story, I was a bit disappointed.