blog about reviews writing

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'm Done

84,372 words.
425 days.
Over 170 hours.
470,668 characters.
A lot of cappuccino.

What do all these things have in common?  Well, they are all in the first draft of my novel, which I finished around 10 pm last night!

Frankly, I think I left my brain on the memory stick where the document is saved or something.  I feel so weird.  I'm glad to be done with the first draft, but it just feels a bit wrong. 

I wrote over 3,000 words yesterday, and I really don't remember much of it.  My mental movie just started rolling, and I wrote almost in a daze.  I didn't realize that I had actually finished until I hit that final period and realized...I had nothing else to write.

Yep, it's a mess.  It's full of plotholes and weak characters and random threads I never wrapped up.  But you know what?  I still love it.  I'm going to begin revision soon, but for now I'll just bask in the glory of all that done-ness. 

Besides, now I can sit back and gloat while everyone else drives themselves insane doing NaNoWriMo.

And now, I get to go download that Britt Nicole CD I told myself I couldn't have until I was done!

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

All I Can Say Is Wow

Sometimes, all you can say is "Woooow.  Really?"  This is exactly what I thought when I saw this on my book's Word document:
True screenshot.  I think I'll go hide in my room and not come out for awhile.
Haha.  Actually, it's because this isn't my computer, and I don't add many of my characters' names to the dictionary, so it thinks I can't spell.  But still.  *headdesk*

Since I don't have much else to post at the moment, I'll share some updates:
I'm perilously close to the end of Secrets of the Legend Chaser.  Perilously, as in, I might possibly finish in the next week or so.  Perilously, because as soon as I'm done, I'll fall into a deep pit of editing and rewriting and searching my house for chocolate.

But, while my revision may be tough on me, you guys will probably benefit.  I'll be sharing tips as I go along, things I learn the hard way, so you don't have to. 

Oooh, just thinking about that book gets me exciting.  Excuse me, I'm going to go write....

PS: I found out that it's highly amusing to replace every "the" in your book (using the handy find-replace tool, not manually...) with "awesomesauce".  Just an idea.  I promised my brother I'd post this, so here it is.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Grammar Wars: Italics

Italics are often used in writing, to put emphasis on a word, or even a phrase.  They make the word stand out in our minds, and we understand that it is very important.  It catches our eyes.  Used sparingly, it's a good tool to have. 

Italics look like this.  They're nice for a while, but soon they get a little annoying, don't you agree?  Like this.  I could go on and on and write this entire post in italics.  I probably should, just to make a point.  But I won't, because you are my faithful blog readers and you're awesome because I now have thirty-six followers.  Yay! 

They can also be used in dialogue.  For example, look at these examples:
"I hate you."
"I hate you."
"I hate you."

In the first sentence, the words are relatively equally spoken.  No word is placed above another.  The speaker doesn't emphasize any one of them.  In the second example, the speaker places emphasis on the word hate.  He/she hates you, and wants to make sure you understand that he/she doesn't merely dislike you.  They hate you.  In the final example, the emphasis is placed on you.  The speaker hates you.  Not Bob or your aunt or Lauren Lopez.  You.  If you listen to people speak in real life (real life...what real life?  Oh the horror.), you'll notice that they don't say each word equally.  They emphasize words.  They draw them out and speak them differently.

Great.  Now that I've shown you the wonders of italics, we can get to why I really wanted to write this post.  To show you the horrors of italics.  Go look at the second paragraph again, the one almost at the top.  Do you see how annoying it is when I italicize too many words in one sentence?  In one paragraph?  Not only does it hurt my eyes, but it hurts my Inner Sense of Writerness, too.  In other words, it makes me cringe. 

Italics must be used sparingly.  I repeat: sparingly.  Only when you really, really need them.  A good rule of thumb: if your writing still works without the italics, cut them.  It gets annoying to the reader when they start finding italics on every other page. 

Now, I've never seen something as dreadful as my example in a published book.  I just did that to make a point.  But I have read books where the author used excessive italics.  And it was annoying. 

If you use too many italics, they start to lose their meaning.  Your reader no longer cares about the italicized word, because they've seen so many others that they've just stopped noticing.  And you don't want that.   

So, how often should you use italics, then?  There's really no way of giving a definite answer.  I could give you numbers, but they'd be meaningless.  That being said, I wouldn't use italics any more often than every four pages or so, at a minimum.  If your reader is starting to say "Wow, that author uses italics a lot.", then you've gone too far.  If they don't notice, you might be fine.

Don't abuse italics, people.  It doesn't make for good writing.
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Eragon (Inheritance #1) by Christopher Paolini

One boy...
One dragon...
A world of adventure.

When young Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his adopted family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of inescapable destiny, magical forces, and powerful people. With only an ancient sword and the instruction of an old, mysterious, hermit storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a Emperor whose evil and power knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands….

I first read this book the summer before I went into fifth grade.  Was it really that long ago?  Wow.  Of course, I fell in love.  And since then, I've read this book a few times since.  I don't have an exact count, but I'd put it around...erm, a...high number.  We'll just leave it there.  (This is a reread, in case you haven't noticed.  That's why I'm not doing my normal review style.)

I have to admit, though, it had been awhile since I had read it last.  I wanted to have an Eragon Marathon and read all the books before the final one came out, but I was a bit nervous.  I hadn't read the series since I started looking deeper into books and doing my reviews and all that.  I was a bit afraid it wouldn't be as good as I remembered.

Haha.  I was worried about that?  Wow.  It was every bit as good as I remembered, if not better.

Sometimes you miss things the first time you read a book.  As in, why did I not remember a single thing about a giant slide?  And when you've read the entire series many times, you see things you couldn't have possibly seen the first time through.  Mainly foreshadowing.  There is some fantastic foreshadowing here, people.  Mostly surrounding the Bromsson thing. 

I love this book.  I don't care how much it has in common with Star Wars.  Let me ask you this: Does Star Wars have an equivalent to Angela, Roran, or Orik?  Does Han Solo have a dragon?  No, I didn't think so. 

The setting never fails to draw me in.  It's so intricate, yet so broad and expansive.  I enjoy referring back to the map as the characters travel.  I love the concepts, too, with the dragons and Riders and Ancient Language and...everything. 

The characters, though, are what really drives this book home for me.  They're fantastic.  I even managed to like Eragon this time.  When I was younger, I wasn't a huge fan of the main character himself.  Now that I look back, I think this had to do with the fact that he was fifteen and I was much younger.  Since we're the same age now, I find him much easier to connect to, and to appreciate as a character.  And because we're on the subject of characters....


Probably my favorite character of all time, right there.  (Yeah, for those of you that know what happens in Eldest--you can probably guess how I feel about that.)  That's a pretty high honor, seeing as I read a lot of books per year.  Multiply that by the number of characters in each book...that's a lot. 

I should probably save some of my Inheritance is amazing and epic and all that rant for later.  Stay tuned for my review of Eldest, once I finish rereading. 

Oh, by the way, did you see what I did, up in the title?  At first, I was going to say Inheritance Trilogy.  Cycle?  What cycle?  But since "Inheritance Trilogy #4" would just look odd when I review the last book, I just went with Inheritance. 

Note: This is a scheduled post, since I won't be able to blog for a few days.  Hence the lack of posts.

Reviews of other Inheritance novels:
Eldest (Inheritance #2)
Brisingr (Inheritance #3)
Inheritance (Inheritance #4)
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Why Your Horribleness Doesn't Matter

Every writer, at some point or other in their writing career, is going to have some esteem issues.  I can guarantee it.  They're going to feel like they'll never get published.  They'll feel like their book is terrible and they're terrible and words hate them. 

If you never get any form of this, please send me a message.  I will seriously pay to know your secret. 

Now, I don't know what your writing is like.  I don't know what level you write at.  I don't know whether you know your stuff and can write a decent narrative, or if you struggle and your words run all over the place. 

My guess is that, if you're reading this blog, you are somewhere in the middle.  And that's okay.  But here's the issue: too many writers look at their own work and say, "Wow, that was terrible.  I'm not good at this.  I'll never be good at this.  I think I'll go drown myself in chocolate now." 

You cannot tell yourself this.  I repeat, you cannot do this to yourself.  You just can't fill your mind with that kind of negative self-talk.  It won't get you anywhere.  You'll just dig yourself deeper and deeper into the pity pit and you'll never be able to come out.  And besides, none of it is true.

Yes, that's right.  It isn't true.  Well, you could, in truth, be a horrible writer.  But that's alright, isn't it?  I mean, we all have to be horrible at some point.  Even now, I look at my first novella and shudder.  And in a few years, I'll probably look back at my current work in progress and say "Wow, Annie.  Really?  Really?" 

Everyone starts out as a not-so-great writer.  Everyone starts at the bottom.  J.K. Rowling wasn't very good, when she started writing.  Michael Grant started out at the bottom.  C. S. Lewis started out at the bottom.  J. R. R. Tolkein started at the bottom.  Stephen King.  Eoin Colfer.  Toni Morrison or John Green or Sarah Dessen or Rick Riordan or Dr. Suess or whoever you like to read.  All of them started out in the same place as you. 

So what does that mean for you? 

They started out as "bad" writers.  And so did you.  It's not something to be ashamed of; it's just a fact of life.  It's not any different than the first time you shot a basketball, or drove a car, or played the piano.  You weren't any good at it.  But you got better, didn't you?

Never, ever, ever, ever (ever, ever, etc.) tell yourself that you'll never be a good writer.  If you tell yourself this, then I can guarantee that it will become true.  If you always feel that way about your writing abilities, then you won't have the ability to get any better. 

What can you do, then?  Stephen King has some excellent advice:

"If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."

To me, that is the best piece of advice you could give any aspiring writer.  There's really only one way to turn yourself from a bad writer into a good one...and that is to write.  You'll write some good pieces, and a lot more bad ones.  But it doesn't matter.  With each thing you write, you get better.  Each word contributes to your overall journey.  When it comes to becoming a better writer, there will never be a word that you will regret writing.  With enough effort, you'll reach the writing level you want to be at.  I promise you that if you work hard enough, and want it bad enough, you'll get it.

It doesn't matter if you can't write well yet.  If you stop trying, then you'll never be a good writer.  If you keep on writing, then there's nowhere you can go but up.   

(And if when you get down-in-the-dumps about your writing, watch this video.  Never underestimate the power of baby sloths when it comes to feeling bad.
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Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Got Organized...

...And sorted all of my current posts on writing into categories, for easier reference.  This can also be found under the "writing" tab, and will be updated whenever I post something about writing.

Here, I've compiled a list of all my posts on writing.  This way, if you need help with a particular topic, you can just click on the links for a specific help article.  Helpful, yes?  I'd recommend checking out my post on how to finish a book, as well.  Within 24 hours of when I posted it, it had become my most popular post by far, so apparently there's something worthwhile in it.

On Killing Characters (Saying Goodbye (aka Death by Prose))
Tips on Villains (A Villainous Post)
On "Normal" Characters (Normal is just a Cycle on the Washing Machine)
100 Things: A Character Development Activity (Character Development Part Uno: 100 Things)
Character Forms (Character Development Part Dos: The Giant Form of Doom)

Dealing with Criticism (I Hate Your Book!)
How to Get Published (Overview)
Generic Pitches (The Wal-Mart Pitch)
Write What You Love

Making it Interesting (Jazz It Up)
Thoughts on Endings
Trilogies (The Trilogy Trap)
Finding Book Ideas

Working with Microsoft Word
Dialogue Punctuation (The Dialogue Battle)
Tenses (Tense Tension)

Writer's Block (How to Battle Writer's Block and Emerge Victorious)
Advice on Chapters
Showing Vs. Telling
Tenses (Tense Tension)
The Mirror Trick (Don't Ever Do This #1: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall)
Stating the Obvious (Thank You, Captain Obvious)

The Art/Joys/Pains/Insanity of Writing (A Writer's Life)
How To Finish a Book
Why Do We Write, Again? (Going Back)
Writer's Block (How to Battle Writer's Block and Emerge Victorious)
You Know You're a Writer When...
Thoughts on Endings
Killing Characters (Death by Prose)
Reactions to Being a Writer ("I'm writing a book."  "You're doing...what?")
Write What You Love
Finding Time to Write During Finals 

Advice for Non-Writers
55 Word Stories: A Writing Exercise (55oWriMo)

What do you think?  
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

To My High School

To my high school:

You go too far.  I can't comprehend how the rest of the student body doesn't see this as unacceptable. 

Putting signs up is all well and good, even if I do disagree with their message.  Freedom of speech, people.  Even if I did find one on my locker.  My locker.  You don't want to know how satisfying it was to recycle that piece of paper.   

But it's gotten out of hand.  Everywhere I look, I see these signs.  On the lockers.  On the walls.  On the doors.  Inside classrooms.  I even saw one in the band room.  It's gotten to the point where I can't look anywhere, it seems, without having one of these signs in my line of sight. 

And I disagree with all of them. 

Closets are for clothes.  Really?  I have half a mind to put a sign on my own locker that says "Closets are for clothes.  They're also for shoes and scarves and laundry and backpacks and old art projects and Narnia and suitcases and stuffed animals and...."

There's one that really gets me angry, though.  It doesn't just make a statement--it directly attacks me.  Yes, it attacks me, as a person.  It's insulting me.  It's calling me narrow-minded.  Straight, but not narrow.  So, just because I'm not in favor of this whole thing means I'm narrow-minded?

I don't understand.  How is it acceptable to put up signs directly attacking someone?  Because that's what they do.  Every time I see one, it's an insult.  I do take it personally. 

Another says that schools should be safe for everyone.  I lied before; I do agree with that one.  School should be a safe place.  People shouldn't feel like they're being personally attacked every single day.

But lately, I've been feeling that way.  I walk down the hallways, and I'm confronted with these signs everywhere.  There's no escape.  And I can't do a thing about them.  Why should I have to go to school every day and feel this helpless?  How is that okay? 

My problem is this: I strongly believe in standing up for what I believe in.  It's the way I am.  To me, not standing up is the equal to or worse than doing wrong.  But I don't know how I can stand up to this.  I can't put up my own signs, because the office would never approve them.  How is this fair?  They can say what they like, but I can't.  There's something very wrong with that. 

Ranting about this on my blog is my only outlet.  It's the only way I can let off all this steam.  While it accomplishes nothing, it might make me feel a bit better.  I don't even know if I'm going to post this.  I just needed to type it.  Feel free to ignore it. 

I know I'm being incredibly vague, here.  I'm sorry; if I'm more specific, then I'll wind up with a zillion comments arguing against my own personal beliefs, and I'm realy not in the mood for that. 

And besides, how am I going to manage to go a whole week without wearing purple?  Pretty much every piece of clothing I own is purple...

PS: Whatever floats your boat.  What?  That'll sink the boat, for sure. 
PPS: If you happen to be the person who crossed out certain things in the poster in the band room...*high five*
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Auralia's Colors: The Red Strand (The Auralia Thread #1) by Jeffrey Overstreet

Auralia's Colors: The Red Strand (The Auralia Thread #1)When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history.

Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets.

Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations.

 First Look: ***** It's been awhile since I've done a category review. And I think it'll end up being awhile until I do one again. Savor this very normal, calm, sane review while you can, as I'm rereading one of the best books EVER right now, Eragon.  Okay, now for the actual review. 

I love the cover.  Love, love, love it.  It's cooler in real life, too.  It's gorgeous, and I love the castle in the fog.  The premise for this just looked so-so, but I loved the cover enough to pick it up anyway.

Setting: *****
I really liked the setting.  I love how Overstreet described it.  He made it seem gorgeous and real at the same time.  He showed the reader the entire thing in so much detail, so we could picture it ourselves. Ordinarily, I might've gotten bored with so much detail about the setting, but in this case, it worked for some reason. I wish I knew why, but I don't.

Characters: *****
I could never get a grasp on Auralia's personality. She seemed so distant, and otherworldly, and I could never connect to her. Plus, we almost never got to read her story from her own perspective--it was almost always told through the eyes of someone else, which didn't help. How are we supposed to get to know her when we don't get to see her point of view?

The only two interesting characters were the ale boy and Cal-raven. Cal-raven seemed like an interesting, likable character, and I wish we would've seen him more. I loved the fact that the ale boy never got a name. He had the most three-dimensional personality, it seemed. The whole story should've been written from his perspective.

Plot: *****
It wasn't until the final chapters that a plot actually showed up. For most of the book, there really wasn't much of a plot. There was quite a bit of backstory, but it took way too long for something to actually happen and shake things up. The idea of the Proclamation of the Colors was interesting, but I just didn't care all that much. I cared that beastmen were attacking the borders, but it seemed that no one else did, so I stopped caring.
The plot did take a nice turn at the end. I liked the way it ended. But, unfortunately, it took way too long to get to that point.

Uniqueness: *****
Most of the concepts were original, like the Proclamation of the Colors, and the interesting setup of the countries.

Writing: ****
I really enjoyed the writing style. It was gorgeous, and very poetic. Like the setting, this kind of attention to detail can get very boring for the reader, but in this book, it worked. The author used the perfect word to describe everything, and creating amazing imagery. Again, it was awesomely poetic! I liked it a lot. I just wish we could've seen more of Auralia's point of view.

Likes: The setting. The gorgeous writing. The subtle symbolism.

Nothing not mentioned above.

Total Score:
This was an okay read. The setting was amazing, and the writing style flowed poetically. On the other hand, the characters weren't that interesting, and the majority of the book moved way too slowly, without much of a plot. I did appreciate the Christian aspects, but I don't think I'll be bothering to read the next books in the series.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

The Fantasy Novelist's Exam

A while back, I came across a little something called The Fantasy Novelist's Exam.  I don't even remember how I found it. 

I think every single fantasy novelist should be required to take this test before they even consider writing a query letter.

Seriously.  How many fantasy novels simply copy Tolkein?  Or have fantasy "stereotypes"?  Or have swords that weigh a million pounds?*

So, if you're writing a fantasy novel, go ahead and take this little quiz.  The literary world will thank you for it.  Even if you pass (and answer question 74 very, very honestly!), it'll probably still warn you of something not to do.

And, if nothing else, it's amusing.  That should count for something.  

*I laugh when I'm reading a book and the character picks up a sword that is "surprisingly heavy".  Really?  Swords didn't weigh that much.  A couple pounds, at the most.  Nothing that would be tough for someone over three feet tall to handle.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

ABC Saturday: N is for No More?

Since I'm horrible at keeping up with the ABC Saturdays, I thought I'd just do this instead.  I've seen it on many other blogs, and it looked interesting.  I don't think I'll continue the ABC Saturdays, unless you guys really want me to.  
A. Age: Older than Juliet when she was crushing on Romeo but not old enough to drive without a parent.
B. Bed size: Twin
C. Chore that you hate: Gathering up all the trash cans and dumping them.  It's so gross and makes me feel like a pig.
D. Dogs: None.  But I do have three fish, named Gilligan (Yeah.  Gilligan's Island is the original Lost), Hiccup (How to Train Your Dragon, anyone?), and Digit (IT'S C-Y-B-E-R CHASE!).
E. Essential start to your day: The bathroom.  No, I'm not kidding.  Whether I need to or not, I always use the bathroom right after I get up.  I don't know why.  I think the warm water when I wash my hands helps wake me up or something.  And Zyrtec, because I'm allergic to the world, it seems...
F. Favorite Color: Purple!
G. Gold or Silver? Silver. It's Slytherin colors, anyway.
H. Height: 5'1".  Barely.  Too short to be an astronaut.  I'm a hobbit.
I. Instruments you play: Flute, piccolo.  Piano is my true love, though.  I almost played snare drum in fifth grade (long story), and I can get a few notes out of the clarinet.  And I'm pretty decent at making sounds from a wine glass, McGyver style.
J. Job title: Writer.  Grammar Nazi.  LEPrecon.  Avoider of Peanuts.  Blogger.  Flute 2 Section Leader.  Jazz Band Pianist.  That girl in pep band that keeps the freshman on track (they never know what song we're playing, so I just started yelling it to them all the time...LOL).  Dragon Rider.  Fifth Year Slytherin.  It will be "author" someday.
K. Kids: None unless you count my fishies...or Davi, my wonderful MC.
L. Live: ...Yes.  I do live, as a matter of fact.  I live in Narnia.
M. Mother's name: Deb.
N. Nicknames: Annie ('cause my real name is actually Anne), Annifer, Kopey (long story), and others...
O. Overnight hospital stays: None, unless you count when I was born.
P. Pet Peeves: Many, many things.  Besides the usual (annoying people, geometry proofs, etc.) I can't stand people who talk and talk but never say anything.  I also hate the sounds of people chewing, lip-smacking sounds of any sort, the sound of itching, and out-of-tune instruments.  I can't stand being interrupted when playing the piano.  I won't even answer the phone if it rings in the middle of a song.  
Q. Quote from a movie: Too many.  "Now you'll drop your rock, and I'll drop my sword, and we'll both try and kill each other like civilized people." -The Princess Bride
"This is a PEN." -The Lightning Thief
"I suffer without my stone.  Do not prolong my suffering." -Eragon (This one is so weird and random.  It just sounds soooo funny.)
"Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile." -How to Train Your Dragon
R. Right or left handed: Right, though I can only deal cards with my left.
S. Siblings: One brother.
T. Time you wake up: 6:15 am.
U. Underwear? Affirmative.
V. Vegetable you hate: Celery.  It has no taste.  I hate foods that have no taste.
W. What makes you run late? Slow cars.  I live 20 minutes from town, and it seems like I always get stuck behind a slow car.
X. X-rays you've had: None that I remember, though I have been to the emergency room three times.
Y. Yummy food that you make: Apparently I make really good apple pies.
Z. Zoo animal: DOLPHINS!
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Friday, October 7, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's DreamBefore reading my first Shakespeare:

Teacher: You're going to read Romeo and Juliet now.
Class: Groan...
Me: Oh, great.  A romance about an air-headed girl who ends up killing herself.  *prepares for hours of boredom*

Teacher: Wasn't that lovely?
Class: *blank stare*

After watching Romeo and Juliet movie:
Teacher: *pauses video to show us how attractive Leonardo diCaprio is...I'm not joking*
Boys: Guns!  Yay!
Girls: Leonardo!  *faint*
Me: What is this madness?

After reading Romeo and Juliet, I wanted to read some more Shakespeare.  Then I discovered that I could get it for free on my iPod.  Awesome?  Of course. 

I liked A Midsummer Night's Dream more than R&J.   First, it was funny.  I should start insulting people by calling them acorns.  And besides, only Shakespeare could write a whole rhyming monologue about how one guy is playing a wall. 

But mostly, I love the language.  Love.  It.  It's so poetic and awesome.  I really, really wish I could write like that.  I love poetry, and I love the rhyme.  I really enjoy how people just randomly start speaking in poetry during the play.  I wish people did that in real life.  I love the old-fashioned language, too.  Why don't we use these cool words anymore? 

Overall, this was great.  I loved it.  It was wonderfully poetic, with a great plot.  And humor.  I know this is a horribly one-sided review that only touches on some things, but...oh well.  Forgive me.  Shakespeare is officially one of my favorite authors now.  And for once, I actually liked a story with fairies. 

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jazz It Up

We've all reached that point in our story where it just isn't going well.  Writing is getting harder and harder, and you feel like your characters are getting sick of you.  Let's face it: you're bored. 

What, Annie?  Bored with my own story?  Never!

Oh, admit it.  It happens. 

While getting a tad bored of your own story is perfectly normal, it isn't a good thing by any standards.  If you're bored with the story...then what about readers?  They'll be asleep at this point.  And we don't want that.  We want them to stay up all night reading, without the help of coffee or MLIA.   

If you're bored with your own story, then there's really only one thing I'd suggest.  Make something happen.  Why do you get bored with books?  With anything?  Because nothing happens.  So make something happen.  Jazz it up a little.  Make your reader think twice.  Or three times.* 

For example: Last night, I was having trouble with my book.  I felt like a certain part was dragging on way too long, but I couldn't think of how to get myself through it.  Sighing, I closed MS Word and left it for the night.  Today in study hall, the idea hit me.  My MC is standing with a king, on the corner of a castle wall (long story...).  There are dragons in this world.  The dragons aren't happy with the nobility (again, long story). 

So why not have my poor MC and the king get kidnapped by a dragon?**

Yes, I know it's rough.  And spontaneous.  But it works in my story, and it definitely spices it up and gets me out of my little boredom trench. 

I'm not saying you should make a guy with a chainsaw randomly invade your contemporary romance.  This wouldn't make any sense, and it would just end up sounding ridiculous.  Your event doesn't have to be that drastic.  Nobody has to die.  Nobody has to get kidnapped.  But let's up the stakes for your characters, shall we? 

Add something unexpected.  Introduce a new character.  Get rid of an old one.  Send your MC a mysterious letter.  I don't care, as long as it makes sense and adds tension and furthers your plot.

All I'm saying is this:  Jazz it up.  When all seems boring...make it interesting.  Make something happen.  Anything.  Trust me; you'll find a way.  

*Or four, or five, or six, depending on how many times you read Pathfinder.
**I mean, really.  "Hey, let's stand in a high, isolated place, with our guards not even in sight!  Great idea!  And we just happen to be very assassinate-able people, 'cause we're so awesome and important!  That's not stupid at all!"  ...Now whose fault is that?
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms #3) by Cinda Williams Chima

The Gray Wolf Throne (Seven Realms, #3)
Han Alister thought he had already lost everyone he loved. But when he finds his friend Rebecca Morley near death in the Spirit Mountains, Han knows that nothing matters more than saving her. The costs of his efforts are steep, but nothing can prepare him for what he soon discovers: the beautiful, mysterious girl he knew as Rebecca is none other than Raisa ana’Marianna, heir to the Queendom of the Fells. Han is hurt and betrayed. He knows he has no future with a blueblood. And, as far as he’s concerned, the princess’s family killed his own mother and sister. But if Han is to fulfill his end of an old bargain, he must do everything in his power to see Raisa crowned queen.

Meanwhile, some people will stop at nothing to prevent Raisa from ascending. With each attempt on her life, she wonders how long it will be before her enemies succeed. Her heart tells her that the thief-turned-wizard Han Alister can be trusted. She wants to believe it—he’s saved her life more than once. But with danger coming at her from every direction, Raisa can only rely on her wits and her iron-hard will to survive—and even that might not be enough.

The Gray Wolf Throne is an epic tale of fierce loyalty, unbearable sacrifice, and the heartless hand of fate.

I'm just warning you now.  This will be more of a rant than a review.

On this book's release day, I checked the library website.  They didn't have a copy.  I checked faithfully every day until they finally got it.  And of course, I was the first to read this book in all its shiny purple glory.

This book reminds me why I love Chima's book so much.  It was amazing.  I mean, look at my Goodreads status updates: 

Page 490: "HOW COULD YOU? < This statement refers to...pretty much all the major characters. But mostly AMON!!!! I'm pretty sure I have the most enthusiastic status updates for this book so far."

Page 350: "*breathes loudly* DANCER! I AM YOUR FATHER! No, really. Genius, Chima. Genius. Didn't see that one coming. *applauds and breathes loudly again*"

Page 280: "AMON!!!!!!!!!!! I do believe you've just made my top ten list of awesome characters. *goes nuts like a nine-year-old at a Justin Beiber concert*"

Page 180: "NOOOO!!!! Don't die, Han! You're more awesome than a million Edwards!"

Page 120: "I CALLED IT! I CALLED IT! I knew who that Crow wacko was as soon as he popped up! Somehow this makes me love the book even more."

Page 20: "Raisa successfully tacked up a horse. Correctly. In a fantasy novel. I'm very impressed. Bravo, Chima."


But really, it was amazing.  It sucked me in right away, and didn't hesitate at all to drop me right into the action.  By page 10 or so I was already freaking out.  Not one thing in this book happened as I expected it to, which is amazing.  There were sooooo many twists and turns, and I loved every single one of them.  It was unpredictable in the very best way possible.   

It was better than I expected, actually.  Sure, The Exiled Queen was better than The Demon King, but I simply attributed that to the fact that I read tEQ in just a few long sittings, which tends to get me more emotionally involved in a book.  I didn't really think a series that didn't say D. J. MacHale on the cover could actually improve on itself with each successive book.  I was wrong.  

It's an amazing thing when an author can get a reader to care (and I mean actually care) about the characters. I laughed when they laughed.  I hated to see them hurt.  I loved them and wanted them to come out on top.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is some fabulous character development.  And I do think Amon Byrne has just made my 10 ten list of all-time favorite characters.*

And the  Chima, how could you?  Show us that, and then make us wait for the next book?  Cruel, but yet...I like your style.  Definitely.  I can't wait for The Crimson Crown.  Although I do think I know who got murdered.

*A list which includes Murtagh, Walter Foley, and Severus Snape.  Yeah.

Reviews of other Seven Realms novels:




Sunday, October 2, 2011

Going Back

My thoughts on writing for today:

I'm going back to how I used to be.
To when I wrote for myself,
And no one else.
To when I didn't know what a query letter was, and
Didn't care, either.
To when WC stood for my Wonderful Creations,
Not my abysmal word count.
To when having a work in progress
Was not drowning, but flying.
To when my main character was more
Than just some adjectives on a planning sheet.
To when I shaped the words with careful hands,
Not roughly shoving them into place.
To when I wrote not because I could,
But because I couldn't live without it.

It's not a great poem (at best), but I think it sums up quite a bit.  We, as writers, need to remember why we started in the first place.  Hopefully I provoked at least a tiny bit of thought. 
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