Monday, July 8, 2013

The Prologue is Over (But a New Blog's Just Started)

So, I think it's time we [meaning anyone who still follows this blog other than spam-bots] acknowledge the truth.

This blog is dead. And has been for some time.

If you would like to know a few of the reasons for it's death, you will find them here.

Where is "here" and why would the reasons be there, you may ask?

The reasons would be there because I have actually started a new blog, called Silent Pages, and I will [hopefully] be updating there fairly regularly.

It is more general! I will be more random! But I may still be talking about books and writing, in a more general format!

For instance, I am now talking about my experience at ALA this year.

There will be some book reviews! There will possibly be random stories about the stupid stuff I do!

But mostly, there will be updates, which is something you probably won't get here.

If you've stuck around this long, muchas gracias! I hope you give the new blog a try, too.

Either way, thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Be Inspired Blogshop Meme

I was tagged by Amanda Olivieri, and it must have been a mistake. Or else she doesn’t know yet how much I love to talk about my novel. Sit down, grab some skittles or something to munch on, because there is no way I won’t talk too much here.

1. What is the name of your book?

Spider Silk

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
Sometimes, when I can’t get to sleep, I indulge myself with story plots. Usually they’re a one-night venture, full of clich├ęs and cheesiness and romance more gushy and cute and unrealistic than anything I’d actually put in a manuscript (not that there’s anything wrong with gushy and cute). Also, *cough* it may s
ometimes morph into mental fanfiction, about books/movies/shows I’ve liked lately.

Spider Silk’s premise actually started as one of these falling-asleep plots, but one that was more plausible than others. A boy had to team up with a girl who used to be his worst enemy, to save another world. It stuck around for a few nights, and I really, really liked it. Then one day I doodled a spider-girl, and she fit in this plot, and so the saga began. I still have that doodle. And I still really, really like the plot.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?
YA Fantasy
. My gut says Epic Fantasy, to be specific, but it does involve inter-world travel and is told from the POV of a modern teenage boy, so… *shrug* Based on that, maybe some would disagree?

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?
Not sure off the top of my head. Maybe some new faces? I guess the best answer is, whoever feels right. Whoever could portray the characters the way I’ve always pictured. I have fantasized about this, as alluded to in this
post, but I’ve never attached big names to the daydream. Partially because I feel like anyone I pick now would be wretchedly old/no longer suitable by the time my book got published, let alone turned into a movie.

5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book.
After five years of interrogations, therapy, and rumors of mental instability, seventeen-year-old David Archer’s adventure in another world seems almost as unreal to him as it does to everyone else—until his worst enemy comes to Earth and claims to need his help.
Bleh. That’s actually close to the first bit of my rough query-letter-in-progress (meshed together a bit to fit the one-sentence rule), but I don’t think it does the story justice. Long story short…

Boy who was once a hero teams up with his worst enemy to save another world.

That better?

6. Is your book already published?

No. I’d say ‘I wish’, but if it were published as it is now, I’d probably crawl in a hole and die. I still have quite a bit of revision to do. -_-

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

Finished the 120,000 word rough draft in two and a half months—NaNo pace.

Revision slays me though, and I’ve been side-tracked with other projects + school. That rough draft is years old now (and awful). My current rewrite started… 12-2-11. … I get distracted. And I’ve been going back to fix things, and—and--*hides face and types faster*

Does it seem better if I say I have the other four books basically fully plotted? XD

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?
I don’t want to say Narnia, because Narnia is Narnia, and I can’t call my book Narnia because it’s NARNIA.

So, I’m going to say it will appeal to anyone who’s ever loved the idea that someone ordinary could stumble into another world and become a hero. And anyone who ever wondered what could happen afterward.

Also, perhaps Graceling by Kristin Cashore, because Viss Arach’s got the whole ‘forced to kill since childhood’ thing going on—I MEAN—is a strong female character. ;)

I think there’s a certain nostalgia factor involved in Spider Silk. It’s a different spin on the kind of book everyone’s read at least one of. Some of the first books I ever loved involved portals to other worlds, and Spider Silk kind of draws on those memories. A lot of people have liked the premise, and I’d like to think it’s for similar reasons.

9. Which authors inspired you to write this book?

All of ‘em.

C.S. Lewis, because NARNIA.

Any author who ever wrote about other worlds, and the kids who move between them.

But… Honestly no one really specific. It’s not like the idea came while I was in the middle of a certain book. It’s a mish-mash of ideas putting a spin on a common fantasy trope. *shrug*

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

Viss Arach is a sarcastic ex-assassin with spider-powers who is secretly a nerd. David Archer’s a writer. There are ancient castles and rebel cities in ancient forests and festivals and folklore and betrayal and swords and executions and—

I’d better just cut this off here, or this blog post will end up being five pages long.

11. Tag five people!

Amanda, at Truth, Justice, & Other Stuff – My lovely crit partner. ;D

Amy, at A Story of a Dreamer -- A while back she posted a short story on her blog, and I realized how GOOD she is. I'd love to hear more about her novel. *pokes Amy*

Maggie & Constance, at Twin Moment -- Two lovely gals I've been following a while. ^^ ... Online, not in a stalker-ish way. XD

Olivia, at Olivia's Opinions -- I know her premise, and I'd love to hear more about her novel. :)

Also, a Notice: So right now, I have started college. Freshman year, panic setting in, etc. etc. etc. My schedule may be…uh…hectic. So. I will try to keep posts regular. XD

Does Spider Silk sound like something you’d read? Did you have any favorite books in your childhood that involved portals to other worlds? Will you be participating in this blog meme? Feel free, even if you’re not tagged!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Ego Club

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how I love character motivations. You know I love interconnecting things, and bringing aspects of Book 1 into play in Book 5. Those are things I pride myself on.

And I pride myself—often. *Ba-DUM, CH*

And I also put myself down. Often.

I flip-flop between “I am a suckish writer” and “I am the best writer ever”. Which I think is true for a lot of writers.

This is a good thing.

For a long time, I’ve had this idea about where your ego fits into writing. You need to believe you have the best book out there, then prove it to everyone else.

So I sat down to write this blog post, spring-boarding off that idea, and I realized I didn’t have much else. At that very instant, a conversation began on Twitter regarding the Ego Club—between Leigh Ann Kopans , Andrea Hannah , and Erica M.Chapman . ‘Who are ALL the Best, and have ALL written the Next Big Thing.’

That seemed like an opportunity to tease out some ideas on the subject.

So we started talking, and these were some of the highlights:

Leigh Ann Kopans (@LeighAnnKopans)

You have to have a degree of self-confidence or no one will want to be with you.

Ego is important because it gives introverts the push to do things like build platform and keep writing even when it gets tough. It’s an innate belief that YOU ARE GOOD.

Writing is INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT. Belief in yourself can help push you along.

Andrea Hannah (@andeehannah)

You need to put a positive vibe out there so good things happen. Ego helps with this!

Also, fake it ‘til you make it!

Me (@silent_pages)

Everybody’s got moments like “I can’t do this. How could I even think it?” But you need to keep writing anyway.

If you keep moaning how bad you are to an agent, they might believe you.

There needs to be a balance between enough humility to know when something needs fixing, and enough confidence to know you’re capable of fixing it.

By then I was feeling like I’d have a pretty good post, just by plugging in quotes from the conversation, and then Leigh says “I actually have a year-old blog post on this topic” so I told her to link me and she did and I subsequently realized that it sums this up way better than I can. So go read it. ;)

While I’m mentioning Leigh, I should also put in a plug for the chat she’s begun hosting Sunday nights on Twitter, under the hashtag #YAwritersAAT. In these chats (there have been two so far), YA writers tweet questions, and a horde of teenagers (myself included) answer them to the best of their ability, from a wide range of regions and schools and experiences. The topics so far have been ‘Slang’ and ‘High School’, and any YA writers could probably benefit from reading through both. Not to mention any future chats.

And, one last link, this recent post by Natalie Whipple also seemed applicable. :)

How do you think your ego comes into play in your writing? Do you see yourself as confident, or not, or does it switch from day to day? Do you have any strategies for when your ego needs a boost? Any strategies for when you need to check your ego?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why I Take Long Showers


                I take long showers, guys. My family gives me grief for it, but I myself am at peace, for one very important reason.

A high, high percentage of my story-related epiphanies come to me while I’m in the shower. Or brushing my hair, or riding in the car, or anything routine where my mind can flutter where it wants…which is usually straight to my WIP.

                Still, sometimes just ‘waiting’ for ideas to land isn’t enough. So I’m going to share something only slightly embarrassing that I do. Often. Repeatedly.

                I interview myself.

                Under the premise that my current WIP has been published. Or optioned for the film rights. Or in some other way has been successful.

                I pretend I’m talking to a reporter/blogger, or taking questions at a book signing, or (perhaps most embarrassingly) telling the cast of the WIP movie exactly what they need to know about each character so they can play them the way I’d always imagined.

                … I swear this isn’t just to boost my ego, guys.

                It makes me think about my story.

                It makes me ask questions—ones that would potentially be asked by people who are not me.

                “Why did you write [THIS] the way you did, instead of this way?”

                “What purpose does [CHARACTER] serve in the story?”

                “What makes [SO-AND-SO] a good couple?”

                “What is your secret ship? If your MC wasn’t with [CHARACTER], who might they have ended up with?”

                Asking myself things about the story, and characters, and all the different connections taking place under the surface… It makes me search for answers.

Answers deeper than “Because I needed it to be this way.” or “Because it was the first thing I thought of.”

It gets me into character’s mindsets. It makes me think about what makes my characters who they are. And why they do things, and how we got to this point, and all the MOTIVATIONS that I love so much.

And okay. It might also be for my ego. A little.

But I’ll share my thoughts on that in the next post.

Am I the only one who does this? (Please say no) What would you ask yourself in an interview? Where do your best ideas come from?

Also, guys, I’m sure interviewing yourself could work just as well OUT of the shower—perhaps even better because then you can write down everything instead of trying to remember it by the time you get out. Just sayin’ what works for me. ;D

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I Ripped Apart My Beginning

                In the past few days, I completely ripped apart the beginning of my novel.

                I slashed away 1,700 words. I flung far-apart settings together and threw out some unsuspecting characters. I obliterated conversations from existence, and I even rejected that lovely, kind-of-symbolic bit that was going to echo throughout the series.

                And the beginning of my novel is so much better for it.

                You may have heard me mention my strategy for this rewrite is to NOT LOOK at the rough draft, ever, at all. You may have heard me complaining that despite this, the rough draft is still creeping in at times.

That was my problem with this beginning; the events were the same as they’d always been. It dragged (I need time to set up the characters!), there wasn’t enough tension (But the writing is so pretty here…), and by the time the inciting incident happened, my reader probably would have been bored.

I knew this. But for a long time I tried to squeak along, still using it, because it was the picture I’d always had in my head, and because I thought it looked cool the way I imagined it, and because I wanted it, despite the fact that it didn’t make sense in places. I wanted it. So I left it.

And then I read this post by Donald Maass at Writer Unboxed.

“Reverses, curves, twists, shocks…instead of saving them, start with them. Distrust your first ideas. Push toward what is unexpected and counter-intuitive.”

Read that post, guys.

Three minutes after I finished it, I’d rethought my beginning. I’d decided that instead of luring my main character to the Inciting Incident, I would drop the incident right into the middle of his school.

Now I’m wondering how I ever had it any other way.

I’m also guiltily prodding at the rest of my novel, which now seems inadequate in comparison…

But those are struggles for another blog post. :)
What writing breakthroughs have you had recently? What blog posts or books have really made you think about your novel? What sorely needed changes have you made, and which changes are you avoiding?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: The False Prince -- Jennifer A. Nielsen

                Like Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, this book promptly went from my reading stack to my little brother’s.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
                The narrator, Sage, was the best part of this book. His voice was not only funny, but unique; he’s usually a step ahead of all the other characters, and the reader. He keeps secrets, from them and us. He threads us along in the best of ways, parceling out info on himself a bit at a time, never really lying to us, but surprising us all the same. Sage is a master of omission.
                He’s a likable character, who’ll have you rooting for him from the very start. And yet, in my opinion, things sometimes came a bit too easily for him. Some minor characters favored him (and started helping him) almost immediately, but the ‘why’ was never fleshed out as much as I’d have liked.
                One other thing: If the back-of-the-book summary has you expecting diligent etiquette/fencing/horse-back-riding/book-learnin’ PRINCE lessons… Well. They’re there, but the participants aren’t so diligent.
Considering they’re training to convince a kingdom that they’re a lost prince, and competing with other boys who have the same goal, and facing death if they fail, sometimes they don’t take it that seriously. There are a few instances of them being kept from their lessons by the one orchestrating the whole thing.
I’m not saying I’d have loved fifty pages detailing royal table settings. But the way the lessons are treated in this book struck me as a teensy bit implausible; even the lessons we see are mostly skimmed over. It’s as if they’re present because we expect them to be present, yet they aren’t really necessary.
Bottom line… If you’re looking for something reminiscent of the “I Can Learn to Do It” number in the Anastasia movie, this may not live up to your expectations.
Still. Sage is a fun narrator, and his antics and schemes and occasionally-noble nature were more than enough to make me pass The False Prince on to my brother.
For everything else, there’s Youtube.
 *clicks around on Youtube* ... For everything except the version with the actual clip, I guess. -_- BUT YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.

If you’ve read The False Prince, what did you think? And what are you reading now?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Put Down the Swords & Spaceships: Reading Outside Your Comfort Zone

*is slapped by an assortment of things*

Laptop difficulties = Drastic drop in productivity. Moving on.

Less than a month from today, I will be starting college (which, by the way, may lead to another drop in productivity. -_-)

Once I get to college, I'll be starting my first college English class there, and a few weeks ago I got a postcard informing me that the sunday before classes, the students in this English class would meet to discuss a book that we would read over the summer--

Me: Forcing me to read some boring memoir instead of all the pretties on my shelves? UGH...

--while chatting and getting to know each other and eating desserts.


So I got the book. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. And for a while it sat on the desk next to my notebooks and stacks of manga, because I was fairly sure I wasn't going to like it, and I had other things to read--things with magic, and knights, and dystopian societies, and gizmos, etc. etc. etc.

I am a YA scifi/fantasy nut. It's what I write, and it's what I love to read. I've diverged a bit here and there, but all in all I haven't branched out and read outside that genre very much, which of course blatantly disregards all e-advice to the contrary.

I've heard so many authors say "Read, read, read. All the time. ALL the books."

But sometimes my gut response is, "There are so many books in my genre to read. I don't have time for anything else."

I got time to read The Glass Castle the day the kid I tutor played hookey. I pulled it out and started reading at the kitchen table, half expecting the aforementioned kid to walk through the door.

...and I read.
...and I read.
...and I read.

Until, for the first time in a long while, I'd finished a book in one day. In one sitting. I could not put it down.

It was strange, and good, and well-written, and interesting, and not what I expected, but fascinating. And true.

And not a witch or wizard in sight.

It is important to read outside your genre, whether it's as a break from what you've gotten used to, or just a really, really good book. I hope to branch out more in college, and I can't wait to have that discussion with my fellow classmates.

What have you been reading? What do you usually read, and when was the last time you read something vastly different?

And how have you been, guys? I missed you.