Monday, July 22, 2013

Some Things...

Okay, so sometimes life comes at you full force. Last week was one of those weeks. In short:

Monday: Washing machine breaks down mid-cycle. I go to the laundromat. For any of you who have to do this regularly, my condolences. I realize how blessed and fortunate I've been for the past 15 years having my own washer and dryer.

Tuesday: Washing machine repairman says it'll cost $500 to fix the washer.

Also Tuesday: The ice maker goes on the fritz (again). Pull out fridge (I've actually cleaned behind it recently, so this isn't as disgusting as you might be thinking!), and inspect the line. Everything looks good, and things go well, if not a little wet because that water line wasn't all the way off...

Wednesday: Husband's car won't shift out of park. Watch YouTube videos. Go to automotive store and buy part. Begin drive home...

Then this:

Thursday/Friday: Talk to a billionty people about the car accident, the insurance, medical appointments, rental cars, etc. etc. We were in the car alone (no kids, thank goodness!), and we walked away. There's the normal aches and pains and stuff, but all in all, we are alive and healthy.

This week, we're going on vacation. I'm not quite ready for it because of the firestorm that was last week, but mentally, I'm already there. Ha!

Have you had weeks like this? And hey, isn't this what we do to our characters in our novels? "Hey, you think this is bad?? Just wait five more pages... *cackle*" I mean, seriously.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting

Okay, so today I'm showing some dystopian love to THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting. I realize I'm way behind the times on this one -- but I did buy it when it came out! Sometimes books have a way of getting lost around my house. There's just so much to read, you know?

But you should definitely add THE PLEDGE to your list! Let's examine.

About THE PLEDGE: In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines your class, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution.

Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. The only reprieve from oppression is within the drug-filled underground club scene. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. As the violent clashes between the totalitarian monarchy and the rebel forces escalate, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country’s only chance for freedom from the terrible grip of a deadly regime.

I loved Charlie as a main character. Writing a character that has a secret and can't tell is hard--trust me, I've tried! It always seems like there are people who know, or the MC tells someone randomly. Well, that didn't happen here. Charlie has a secret -- she can understand languages -- and she doesn't tell. Shocking, I know.

I liked that about her. I also liked that she was more than she knew, but she actively sought to discover the answers. Along the way, she meets Max -- who is also so much more than he seems. I liked that we got to see things from his POV too. I'm finding more and more that I liked multiple POVs in books, as long as they're done well.

And Kimberly does them well in THE PLEDGE.

If you like a little bit of magic mixed in with a very cool society, you'll like THE PLEDGE. I liked that it was dystopian (because I love dystopian!), but I also felt a lot of fantasy vibes in the book. I really liked that genre mixing.

Check out what the other Bookanistas are reading this week:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Revising in the Digital Age

Okay, so I used to go through my manuscripts over and over (okay, I still do that!), and then finally when I thought I had it, I'd print it. The hard copy was the last version I went over to find all the little things I just couldn't see on the screen.

I mean, I couldn't print my 350-page novel every other day, you know?

But now, I find that I'm not printing anymore. The goal was always to see the manuscript in a different way.

I'm using my Kindle. I can email any document (PDF or simply a Word doc) to my Kindle email address and ba-bam! It shows up, ready to read. I can change the font, the size, the background color. And I can see it in a different medium -- anywhere!

Not only that, but I recently discovered that I can HIGHLIGHT things in the text. I used to keep a notebook with me as I read my manuscripts on the Kindle. I'd take notes on what needed to change/be fixed in each chapter.

Now I can highlight those things -- and it's easy to find those notes, because Kindle keeps them in a list for me!

It's a match made in heaven. Not only that, but I can email myself a new version of my book every day if I want! I even sent myself my launch day speech. No more printing for me!

Have you used an e-reader to actually edit before? Did you know you can highlight the things you need to fix in the manuscript?? I mean, seriously!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

DUALED by Elsie Chapman

Okay, so one of my favorite genres is dystopian. I love almost everything I read, and DUALED by Elsie Chapman is no exception. Not only is the cover great (that shadow!), but it's one of those books that makes you go, "Man, I wish I'd written this!"

About DUALED: Two of you exist.

Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.

I'm a big fan of alternate universes (think the movie The One with Jet Li), and cool names like West and Chord (the leading male MC). So automatically, DUALED had me by the throat.

West has to find and eliminate the other her. She's early in her training, and she's suffered a lot of loss in her personal life. So she's kind of messed up, and unsure about what she should do. So there's quite a bit of stumbling as she tries to figure out who she is, and if she should be the one to live at all.

And I like that kind of angst.

The action is intense and swift, with barely time to breathe between scenes. Yet somehow, Elsie manages to find moments to show West's vulnerability. I really liked her as a character, and I felt like she was exactly the person to take us on this journey. And that's what we want in a book, right?

If you liked THE HUNGER GAMES, I think you'll enjoy the action-packed plotline of DUALED (though I think West is more real than Katniss).

Find out what the other Bookanistas are doing:

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's A Matter Of Time

Okay, so I think I'm one of the most impatient people on the planet. This, mixed with the snail's pace of publishing, is not really the best mix.

Or maybe it's my snail's pace of revision that makes the months melt into years. Just when I think I've got the story figured out, there always seems to be something else suggested or discovered that makes total sense. You know those moments where you go, "Why didn't I think of that?" Especially after you've worked on a novel for several rounds.

Yeah, that's about where I am. I enjoy the process of revision. The tightening of character and plot, the re-imagining of scenes, the weaving together of story lines.

But every once in a while, there's a little voice in the back of my mind that whispers, "I wish you'd just gotten it right the first time. Then we wouldn't have wasted all these months."

Sometimes I listen to that voice. I feel a little bit anxious about the pace of publishing -- or my perceived pace of those publishing around me. I worry over things I can't control.

Sometimes I just tell that voice, "Sometimes it's just a matter of time." Sometimes I need time to think on a book, it's plot and character. Sometimes I need time away from a project. Sometimes I need time to work on a project. And none of it is wasted. I hope that in the novels I write in the future, I'll remember some of the lessons I've learned through really working on a novel for an extended period of time.

How about you? Have you ever spent so much time working on a novel that you're entertaining voices in your mind? 
(Ha!) Is it really just a matter of time until you get things right? (Please say yes!)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Characters Who Change Their Course

Okay, so I've been on the lecture circuit for a while now. I've taught many writing classes, and I've spoken to numerous book clubs and writer's groups. The thing I love most about doing these kinds of things is that I--me, myself--always learns something new.

Go figure!

So last week, I went to talk about query letters to a local writing group, Riveting Writers, and as we were talking, I said something like, "Isn't that what characters do? Change their course?"

And I had this little a-ha! moment. In all my beating out and revising and characterizing, I've never quite thought of my characters this way. But truly, every novel has a character who is choosing to change their course.

They're not coerced into changing their course. They're not dragged. It doesn't just mysteriously happen through plot devices, no matter how brilliant.

We love characters who choose to change their course.

So today, I'm renewing my effort to create and write characters who change their course.

Have you thought about your characters like that before? Are they changing their own course?

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