Showing posts from April, 2011

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

* Here is Sunday's book review.  I scheduled it to post on Sunday, apparently I messed something up!  My bad :) 


My rating:
4 of 5 stars

Really 3.5 starts

I'm a bit confused about my thoughts on this book. Some parts I loved, they resonated with me long after I put the book down. But I often felt disappointed and empty. I can't pin-point what left me wanting--maybe the parts that dragged where nothing much happened for a few chapters, or it could be the characterization.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was the family dynamics. Too many books have absentee or bad example parents. Matched had good parental figures that play a major role in Cassia’s life, as does her younger brother Bram. I think this is a much more realistic family dynamic for a teenager and it was refreshing to see their healthy interactions.

Cassia thinks a lot about words. Poetry. Writing. It’s all forbidden. In Cassia’s world words are never permanent. They disappear as soon a…

What's in a name? Part Two: My Process

Yesterday I talked about the importance of names, today I want to tell you a bit about my naming process.

When I'm choosing names I like to get a feel for the character first. What are they like? What are their parents like? If their parents are traditionalists maybe they named their daughter something like Elizabeth but the daughter is so funky that it doesn't suit her at all. So she insists on going by Eliza (or Elly or Liza, etc). Maybe it drives the parents crazy and they insist on calling her by her full name all the time.

Now that I have a feel for the character and know what her parents are like I "see" images that reflect her personality. It's kind of hard to explain but I'll give an example.

Let's say I want to name a character something that brings to mind the midnight sky, white lace, libraries with old musky books, and a still and peaceful pond reflecting the moon. My first thoughts are usually quite literal (Indigo, Lacey, River, Willow) an…

What's in a Name? Part One


 Names are one of my embarrassing obsessions.  I love names.  I love the stories they tell.  Their heritage.  Their personality.  The feel of them on my lips.  Their rhythm.  As a name nerd and writer I pay particularly close attention to naming my characters.

To me names have a color, an image, a personality, and if I'm reading a book where the name feels off it bothers me for the entire book.  Every time I come across the name I inwardly cringe.

Some of my favorite author namers are J.K. Rowling (I mean, really, have you read a series with more perfect names?), Cassandra Clare (I love Jace as the initials of Jonathon Christopher and how it ties into the plot), Ally Condie does a good job in Matched (Cassia is an awesome name, I also love Xander and Ky for their characters).

Some of my least favorite namers are . . . well I won't point fingers.  But I've read several books lately with Kate/Kat as the kick ass heroine.  Too much.  All those characters are blending to…

Introducing Miette *and* A Blog Award!

This weekend I got a fabulous new netbook, I'm so in love!  I named her Miette, because that's way I call my muse and since I got her solely for writing purposes I figured it was appropriate.  Miette means "sweet little thing" and you'd totally get it if you saw the size of my netbook--it's tiny and absolutely adorable!  I'm going to have to get a skin from Skin It because they only had black at the store.  Maybe something with a vintage/boho look like the tote I bought for it.  But even the black is shiny and pretty! 

I am so excited, I got my first ever blog award!  Kiernan over at Fire In Mine Ears nominated me for the versatile blogger award!

The award requires that I 1) Tell you 7 unknown things about myself and 2) nominate others to receive this award. 

#1) I have two amazing kids that inspire me every day.  My little girl is 3.5 years old, my little man is 10.5 months.  They grow so fast!

#2) I love to bake.  Love it.  Especially cookies.  But I …

Book Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Last week I said I was going to review Matched by Ally Condie this week but things have been crazy with trying to plan my upcoming trip and I didn't get a chance to finish it.  So I'm reviewing a book I read earlier this year instead.  I'll post Matched review next week, promise!

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Mortal Instuments series! Cassandra Clare has a serious talent for characterization and plotting.

Jacket cover: To save her mother's live, Clary travels to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters--never mind that by doing so she is breaking the Law, which could mean death. Even worse, Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by Shadowhunters who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. Luckily, Clary finds an ally in the mysterious Sebastian, who holds a strange attraction for her. As Valentine musters a demon army, can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside the…

5 Faves Friday: Disney Characters

Introducing 5 Faves Fridays, the weekly blog post where I'll discuss my top 5 favorites in different categories.

In honor of my upcoming vacation (we're going to vegas and california for 10 days) I decided that the first post should be about Disney Characters! 

#1) Tinkerbell - She's been my favorite for as long as I can remember.  Tink is tiny and fiesty, much like myself ;) have I mentioned that I'm only 4'11"?  In 10th grade I won a state wide drama competition with a monologue I wrote from Tink's perspective.

#2) Belle - She's bookish and doesn't care about looks.  One of the best princess role models for little girls.

#3) Rapunzel - Loved Tangled!  She's so vibrant and full of life, and not helpless like many of the other Princesses are.

#4) Princess Aurora a.k.a. Briar Rose - Our names being the same is only part of why I like her so much ;)  She's my little girl's favorite.

#5) Aladin - Most of the fairytales focus on the Princ…

Goals and Accountability

Having goals for my writing is essential for me if I want to get anything done.  It's too easy to get bombarded by life and put writing on the back burner.  I need to be held accountable for my writing and have something to strive for.

I read about the  A Round of Words in 80 days (ROW80) Challenge on L.A. Larson's blog this morning and decided that it was just the thing I needed since Screnzy didn't work out for me.  It's all about setting obtainable goals for your writing.  I'm joining late, but better late than never, right?  The group checks in twice a week for an update on their goals.  I like being accountable for what I write and I think this will be a big help.  80 days.  A nice round number that doesn't seem to overwhelming.

My Goals for the Next 80 days:

1) Finish past tense to present tense rewrite of Knight's Children and start on beta reader edits.  (I'm on chapter 20 of 28 right now, so that shouldn't be too hard.)

2) Write 50,000 word…

Book Review: Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Plot: Aerin Renning and Dane Madousin are accepted into the universe's most prestigious and competitive school, Academy 7, and soon become the top students. They are both hiding something, both running from demons that could destroy their futures at the Academy. They meet under unlikely circumstances and forge a deep bond of friendship that could turn into more if only they could share their secrets.

Characters: I fell in love with Aerin and Dane. They were a great couple and their romance developed realistically. I felt like their actions always stayed true to their personalities, their reactions were always believable. Aerin is strong and driven and goal oriented, boys are so far down her list of priorities that its laughable at times. Loved her so much!

Setting: It might by "sci-fi" but don't let that fool you, there isn't much flying through the universe. Though there is a couple space ships but its definite…

Explorations in Characterization

I've been working on the character exercizes for DIY MFA today and thought I'd share some of my findings.

The first exercise is called the TADA Method of Studying Characters (Thought Action Dialogue Appearance). It involves using a "character compass" to help flesh out characters. The compass refers to each axis pointed to one of the TADA letters. By doing this you can see where most of your efforts in characterization go into.

I chose to analyze the current chapter I'm working on. The breakdown of my word count is:
Thought 28 %
Action 19 %
Dialogue 35 %
Appearance 18%

It seems pretty well balanced except for the dialogue section. I have a sneaking suspicion that my manuscript is dialogue heavy. Dialogue comes to me more easy than anything else. Eep! I'll do this with my next chapter and see if the results are similar.

I compared this with the opening chapter in The Hunger Games because it was handy.  Suzanne Collins has much more thought than I had and much muc…

Images that Inspire

I've been hanging out at Gabriela Pereira's Blog and following her DIY MFA course.  She's amazing, fun, insightful, and super cool for helping out aspiring authors in this way.  I'm a little behind so I thought I'd spend some time getting caught up today.

Her first lesson was to create an Image File full of things that inspire us and help us find a character.  I chose not to do anything famous or too abstract, playful vintage-esque photography inspires me more (actually landscapes and architecture too, but that wasn't part of the assignment).  I thought I'd share some of my findings. 

I <3 Gone With the Wind.  Favorite book ever. 

And one to remind myself where I was when I first started writing.

Getting my Ducks in a Row

I'm one of those writers who is never just working on one project.  I usually have one I'm writing, one I'm editing, and one I'm outlining.  Some days (like today) I feel spread too thin.  I think maybe I should put the other projects aside and just focus on editing my baby (Knight's Children, the only novel to date that I feel is publication worthy).  The problem is once I start focusing on just one idea my muse withers and dies.  The only way to keep myself overflowing with creativity is to constantly be working several projects.

I also have several other daily distractions to deal with--i.e. my 3.5 year old and 10 month old kiddies who are absolutely fabulous and require a lot of attention.  They inspire me and delight me, but make it impossible to get some work done some days.  I'm currently getting my little girl ready to start school.  She's smart, very smart for her age, maybe gifted.  As such she is in constant need of stimulation.  She wants to lea…

Book Review: Witch & Wizard by James Patterson

Happy Sunday everyone :)  Here's this week's book review.

Witch & Wizard: The New Order by James Patterson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First of all I just have to say, James Patterson = LOVE!

Okay now onto Witch & Wizard.

The world is being taken over by The New Order and the Allgood siblings are in danger. They're ripped out of their house in the middle of the night and accused of witchery/wizardry. Which is ridiculous, right? There is no such thing. Except Wisty Allgood suddenly erupts into flames--becoming a human torch without any damage to herself. So maybe there is something to this "witch" thing after all.

The book is dystopian aimed at younger teens. We get two points of views: 15 year old Wisteria "Wisty" Allgood and her 17 year old brother Whitford "Whit" Allgood. I loved the distinctive voices and the characterization was spot on (always is with Patterson). I'm a huge fan of dueling perspectives these days and this book is a …

Submitted my First Short Story!

Hey all!  I know I already posted once today, but I just had to share . . .

I finally got the guts to hit "submit" on my first short story!  Not the first I've ever written (obviously) but the first that I've actually sent out.  Woot :)  I submitted it to the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and I'm so excited.  I know my chances aren't great, but it sure felt nice to send my work out into the world.  Baby steps, right?  Maybe in a couple weeks I'll be querying for my novel!

For those of you who are curious here's a bit of my cover letter: 

Something is off about 10 year old Junie Fairchild, and it isn’t only her peculiar way of talking or her love of a decaying farmhouse where her father hung himself. Her twin sister Joan gets all the attention, she’s such a Mommy’s girl. One day Junie decides to do something about it. After all, Daddy always said, “The Lord helps those who help themselves.”

I’m a senior in the creative writing department at Weber State…

Any one doing Script Frenzy?

Soooo Script Frenzy kicks off today!  For those of you that don't know, Script Frenzy is the screenwriters version of NaNoWriMo.  Thirty days to write 100 pages of a script.

I'm not a script writer.  At all.  *But* I'm signed up to be a Screnzy Rebel.  As in I'm planning on writing 100 pages of my new idea this month.  I won't certify my win of course, because I'm not actually writing a script, but I'll hang out on the forums and help encourage all who participate.

I'll keep you all updated on my progress.  My goal is to be done with the hundred pages by April 20th because I leave for Disneyland on the 21st! 

Happy Writing :)