Saturday, August 11, 2012

Time is a Tortoise...

...and I'm the hare. Or, slightly more accurately, the jill.
My point is that at the beginning of the summer, I--like any other self-respecting teenager--I underestimated my time. I expected to be much farther along with my writing projects, done with my summer reading and homework (I still don't even know what the assignment is), and--I don't know--more tan? In better shape? I was going to go running. I did go running. Once. But then I was told not to because some girl was attacked or something at the park I went to.
Anyway, even up until yesterday I hardly expected I'd be here already. My last day of summer break. It has a morose ring to it, doesn't it?
I'm trying to get as much writing/revising/plotting done as I can today, because I have no idea when I'll get to work again.
My school is requiring everyone to be there from 8:30 am 8:30 pm everyday next week...and we don't even start classes until Friday. Hope I don't die of boredom. Enjoy the rest of your summer everyone! And have a nice school year! (That is, if you're still in school.)
(Oh, and yes--I do have to go tomorrow, a Sunday.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Dear Sweet Dilemma

I officially decided to completely throw out 20K of my novel the other day. It was all rubbish. Now I have to figure out how to get from point A to point B. I've made several story lines that have huge gaps in the center now (a couple of them had gaps even before the deletion - which is a sliver of the reason it had to go) and that is the dilemma. I can't simply rewrite the scenes that were there before - they had no right being there in the first place. So it's a matter of unearthing what the story needs and wants and separating it from what I need and want.
My subconscious is screaming Tension! Tension! Tension! Bad stuff! (Because the word "tension" is beginning to look weird to me.) I've seen several blog posts about how you need to have a fake climax before your real climax. Let your character fail at something. Keep the threat constant. Make it a roller coaster. Surprise yourself and therefore everyone else. Keeping all of these tips in mind, I've listed several maybes as to what can happen in that huge gap. While they're all alright ideas, I can't use all of them; however, I'm beginning to worry that I can't use any of them. 
It's hard to determine how much space each idea could take to write; each could vary from a couple of pages to tens of thousands of words. I don't want to put too much work into developing a thought and making it fit in with the rest of the story and it end up being much too short. Then again, I don't want to become so focused on the new idea and have it turn into a story entirely on its own...because not-so-technically, that would mean the cancer (I refer to the original 20K as the "tumor") has returned. How do I keep my manuscript healthy?
There are ideas I quite like and seem to fit well with everything else, but they're incomplete. They're like unfinished sentences because I'm stuck on a certain word and can't move forward. I can almost taste the rest of the ideas...but as soon as they start take shape, a breeze blows by and they disperse again. I've been told to give it time - the epiphany will happen when I least expect it (or want it). And -sigh- I will. I have no choice. 
This novel is SUCH a teenager though. I've already given it three years, put in the time and tears to mold it into a thing, and now it wants to tear itself apart word by word. It's all needy and messy, like a baby. I just want to smack it and scream, "Stop acting like a WIP!Be done already!" But I'm afraid I'll get arrested for novel abuse. Besides, it'll probably just rebel even more or something. I just wish it would be more considerate; I have other WIPs, you know! Anyway, I'm going to be lenient for now. Whatever. 
The clock is ticking, though. I have five more months until my deadline, but school starts in a week. School, as it likes to believe, trumps writing as much as I can help it. My novel had better not try to pull anything else. 

(Yeah, I am talking about my unpublished, unreadable piece of writing as if its a real thing. This is a no-judging zone.)


Friday, August 3, 2012

The Great City of Hands and Teeth

So, I know there's been a LOT of things happening in the news lately, what with the Chik-Fil-A debate, the Aurora shooting, the Olympics, and crop circles and that I should probably blog about one of them, but I feel like what I would say on these subjects has already been said (more fervently) by other people. I wouldn't be able to do them justice. Besides, I've only ever been to Chik-Fil-A once and I didn't think their chicken (s'cuse me, chikin) was that great, and because the nearest one is over a half hour away from me I don't think the cost of the drive out there to protest is worth it (no matter how wrong I think they are) so I'm just going to keep not giving them my money. I'm very sad and stricken about the shooting and my heart goes out to all those closely effected by it. I'm one of those persons who forgets to watch the Olympics year after year, no matter how much news I see, so I wouldn't know what to say about it even if I wanted to.  And, frankly, I don't care about alien shenanigans. (Bother me when they decide to stop doodling and take over the world.)
However, I've been struggling with a blog topic for a little while now. I've started several different posts and then abandoned them halfway through because I lost inspiration in one way or another. Sounds familiar, huh? I could tell you about how I went on vacation last week; but all that amounted to, really, was several layers of sunburn, new clothes, and broken sea shells. I could tell you about how my editing is going...but not much has changed since my last update. Instead, I've decided to do a couple of reviews on the books I've read recently! :D (The smiley, along with the exclamation point, is an aesthetic to get you excited about this so you'll keep reading. Did it work?)

The City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (****_)

I was really hesitant about buying this one. "But you've read the first three books in the series at least three times," you say. "Why ON EARTH would you not be excited about the fifth installment?" Well, dear friend, it's because of the matter of the fourth book. Clare had originally only planned three books for the series, but when the last book came out she magically had the idea to write three more. This is why I cringe when dedicated readers beg an author to write another book in a series (like with Harry Potter) after the story is over. Voldemort's dead, Harry's a father. Wouldn't you be quite irritated if Voldemort suddenly rose from the dead? I would. I think Harry would too. Well... I just couldn't get over this in CoFA. The characters seemed different, the plot was too suspenseful, and then at the end she resurrects one of her dead antagonists. Wow, was I angry. That book was expensive and it changed my feelings on the entire series. (I no longer list it as one of my favorites.)Yet, I went ahead and paid the same price for the next one. I think it was hope that made me do it. Hope and my history with the first story in that world. Oh, and because I was feeling unmotivated to finish reading any books I picked up all summer and I knew that, no matter how angry/disappointed I was/am, Clare would keep me glued to it until the very end. I wasn't wrong.
In the City of Fallen Angels, Clary and the rest of the crew are freaking out over the sudden disappearance of their beloved Jace and the was-dead Sebastian (sadly, he's not a crab). Alec and Magnus, Isabella and Simon, and Jordan and Maia continue to have relationship struggles. Clary gets taken into this place that's not a place by a Jace who's not Jace that is all controlled by her fugitive brother. During the time that she spends with them, Clary begins to question whose side she's on. Jace isn't that different and Sebastian seems...nicer, and they certainly seem to get along with each other. But, alas, the Morgenstern son has fooled her before, and in the end he is still a demon.
It touched on some pretty dark subjects...but it wasn't too hard to read through. I did cringe a bit. Overall, though, I was blissfully surprised. It still wasn't as good as the first three, but I was able to forget the fourth book almost entirely. I managed to pretend that Sebastian had never died in the first place. The characters seemed more like themselves (Jace's character was kind of over-emphasized from time to time) and the plot was unpredictable. I think. (I always read the endings of the books before I'm even a third of the way through.) I enjoyed reading it on the 24 hour car ride to my vacation destination (Florida. I just wanted to rhyme.) It's a good noncommittal read. I'm no longer under a reader's block. (:
PS, what are all of these cities in the titles? I understand that in the first three, the titles represent the cities that are essential for the setting of the story. But in CoFA? It takes place in NYC. Again. CoLS? Takes place in about ten different cities, but none of them seemed quite so significant. I kind of think they're just making up stuff now.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Carrie Ryan (***__)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is the story of Mary, who, growing up in a strictly religious town surrounded by a thick zombie-infested forest, dreams of going to the ocean. There, marriage is a duty, not a privilege; they must keep the minuscule population growing.  So after her mom dies from a zombie bite the same day that she rejects a marriage proposal, Mary has no other choice but to join the Sisterhood. The Sisters (picture nuns) keep the village in order, so naturally they have secrets. Just when Mary begins to unearth some of them, the fences that protect her village fail. She escapes with her closest friends and family in a wild goose hunt for a couple of roman numerals and the sea.
This novel is very hard to like. It's different. Try as I might, I couldn't make myself like the protagonist. She was outstandingly selfish, impulsive, whiny, and...ugh, just so selfish! She's willing to let everyone she loves dies so she can get what she wants, and doesn't even look back. BUT, in the same sense that you shouldn't kill the messenger, you can't doom a book over its character. We all like to believe that the people in books are better than the people in real life, and they usually are. That's why we call them heros and heroines.


  1. A person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities.
  2. The chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities.

But Mary wasn't a heroine. She was just a girl in a place who wanted something. It's not as if everyone in the novel were without sense; the other characters weren't afraid to tell her how wrong and self-absorbed she was (some of them still managed to fall in love with her...but that's a different point). This was her story, not theirs. There are questions that are posed in the beginning that never get answered because the character never discovers why there are zombies, why there are trails and villages in the woods, why some zombies are faster than others. Don't hate the player; hate the game (meaning the situation she's in, not the book).
The writing was chilling and sharp and entirely unlike much else out there. Well, unlike much else that I've read... I don't read very many, if any, zombie/horror stories so I may not be the best candidate to review this or whatever. Anyway, my point is that if you're looking for another goopy paranormal romance full of noble heroes and happy endings, don't read this.
But if you want to embrace something different than the average YA, I highly recommend it.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (****_)
Tobey Maguire AND Leonardo? My younger self is fainting right now. If only Cary Elwes was in it too...

First off, I'm in love with the trailer. This was a summer reading requirement for me. I'm a little burned out by the other two reviews, so this one will be short and sweet. Besides, I doubt upon skimming over my review you'll rush out to read it. You've likely already read it in school or you will be forced to read it in school at one point. My point in mentioning it at all is to reassure any students who may have to read it that it's definitely not the worst thing you can be assigned to. It's sarcastic, lonely, entertaining and short. Did I mention short? It's only about 150 pages (Barnes and Noble still managed to charge me $15 for the paperback, though) and the prose are pretty. The narrator even made me laugh a few times. Another renowned novel with pretty prose that you might have to read at one point (and if not, I actually think you should read it anyway) is Frankenstein, although it's not quite as short. Fun fact for all the teen writers reading this: Mary Shelley published Frankenstein when she was 19. How about that?