Friday, October 29, 2010

Excuses, excuses...

Reasons why I don't blog enough:
-I can't think of anything to write
-It's been done
-I've been writing
-I've been reading
-Oh look! Something shiny!
-I've been editing
-I've been procrastinating
-I was at work
-the power went out
-I didn't have any caffeine
-I forgot my password
-My computer crashed
-I temporarily forgot how to use a computer
-NaNoWriMo
-I was called away on a top secret mission
-I was hungry

Lame attempt at humor.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The End of October

This might be considered cheating because I haven't finished reading the book yet. Then again, October isn't over yet either. Regardless, Road Trip Wednesday wants to know what was the best book I read in October.

It would have to be Witch, by Christopher Pike.

I haven't read much of Christopher Pike. I read one book when I was in 10th grade, but I actually can't remember what happened at all, but I do know that I enjoyed the book while I was reading it. Since then, I've acquired a few more of his books, and I'm starting to put a dent in that pile.

Witch so far is pretty good. It's about a girl named Julia Florence. She is a witch. She can heal people with her touch, and she can see things happening elsewhere when she looks into still water with the sun shining on it. However, she accidentally looks at the water with the moon shining on it, and she has a vision of the future. Someone she has never met is going to die. Later that night, she meets him.

Julia works hard to protect him, and as a result, one of her very best friends is shot instead. This fills Julia with rage and a desire for revenge.

The writing is descriptive, not overdone. There are multiple viewpoints, but they're broken up by chapter, so you know who is the character of focus at all times. There's twists and turns that are a tad unpredictable. It's a very good read, and I can't wait to finish it before October ends.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What did you say about Parents in YA?

Such a beaten-to-death topic, I know, but I just want to get my opinion on the matter out.

Really quick:

I think the reason parents are so absent in YA is because young adults -- teenagers -- try their hardest to keep parents absent from their lives. I speak from experience. I didn't really want to deal with my parents as a (younger) teenager. Shouldn't a book about teenagers reflect that? YA books are about young adults, not their parents.

November

November... what comes to mind?
Leaves changing? Thanksgiving turkey? Christmas stuff already out?
How about election day? Or changing the clocks? Or my birthday? (19 years old!)
Possibly you think of NaNoWriMo?

To NaNo, or not to NaNo, that is the question. Some people hate this concept. Some people see it as appalling. It causes all these people to fill with unrealistic expectations. They write a book and think that they're gonna make it. Well yeah, if these people write their novel and then immediately ship them off to publishing houses.

I find NaNoWriMo an incredibly awesome thing. Had it not been for this month last year, I never would have completed a manuscript. Thankfully, I haven't sent it off yet. It's been in the editing stages for a year. (However, I haven't touched it in a while. I need to get that editing done.)

I think this is the kind of activity that works for me. I beat around the bush all the time. If I could win an award in procrastination, I wouldn't get it because I'd wait too long to get around to making it to the stage to accept. NaNoWriMo doesn't let me procrastinate. (Especially when I had a prize of a free proof copy. Unfortunately, that made everyone think that I had it published. How many times do I have to tell everybody that it isn't?)

Regardless of my rambling, I plan on participating again this year. 50,000 words or bust... hopefully more. Plot of choice? Two word: Stockholm's Syndrome.

Anyone else?

Monday, October 11, 2010

How Predictable

I finished reading another book, so I guess that means it's time for another book review. And no, that's not what's predictable. (Although maybe it is.)

What I'm talking about is the book The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore by Joan Lowery Nixon.

"Christina spots the masked man in the dark, lonely parking lot--but too late. She's grabbed, drugged, and whisked off to a dingy basement, where she struggles to stay alive.

When her family pays the kidnappers' ransom, Christina thinks her ordeal is over... but then discovers that her family thinks she orchestrated her own kidnapping! Christina is desperate. How far will she go to prove her innocence?"
Source: the back of the book

The premise is promising enough. Ooh! Girl gets kidnapped! She's being beaten to within an inch of her life with no food or water, tied up, scared out of her mind, confused. Just barely gets out, and now her parents don't believe her! But no. The premise builds up something that the story doesn't live up to.

I'd hate to spoil things, but I might end up doing that, so read with caution. I'll point out the obvious spoilers along the way:

To be blunt, this book was very predictable.

(SPOILER ALERT!)

After Christina gets out, she sees this guy and there's a quick description and multiple mentions of him. Ding, ding! My sensors are going off -- this guy is going to be crucial to the plot from here on out! (I was right.) Then I get that feeling -- she's going to start having feelings for him! (I was right, and it brought back horrible Twilight memories.) I also get the feeling he's got an agenda, not just wanting to help Christina! (I was right.) Even from the very beginning, there were things that were probably intended to be foreshadowing, but made that sensor go off. Christina talks about a creepy guy in the beginning, and you know from there that this guy is the kidnapper. You didn't even have to wait for her to figure it out.
(/spoiler)

Then there are some nitpicky things. The novel is written in present tense. I'm not a big fan of present tense, but that's my opinion. So don't let that sway you. If you like present tense, you might like this book more. Second, the style of the writing seemed a tad immature to me, but again, that's my opinion.

And I truly believe the description on the back was a bit exaggerated. Christina "struggles to stay alive." Not quite the case. I won't say too much, because actually, what really happens has to do with the plot, and the twist it takes. It's just it read a little boring to me... for a kidnapping.

Apparently this book won the Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. I wasn't very intrigued. I wasn't gripped by this book. I wasn't even scared for the character. I really don't know what to say. It's a good story, but I think it could have been better. That's my opinion, so I'll let you decide.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They Never Came Home - A Book Review

This might be a new record. I finished exactly half of the book in one day.

They Never Came Home, by Lois Duncan.
Now this one, I never actually read, so I have a fresh perspective on it.

One weekend, Larry Drayfus and Dan Cotwell go camping in the mountains, and they never come back. Search party upon search party turn up zero results. They are declared dead. Then Larry's sister answers the phone, and a mysterious man says that Larry owes him a large sum of money.

Well, doesn't that just put everyone in a pickle. Joan (Larry's sister) can't possibly tell her parents. They've gone through so much grief already, what with Larry's disappearance/death. She's not taking it well either, seeing as Dan was her boyfriend. However, she takes it upon herself to sort out these matters, seeking help only from Dan's younger brother Frank.

Any more than that and I might spoil it. So I'll just deliver you my thoughts on what I read.

Honestly, it wasn't my favorite Lois Duncan book. Let alone the number of typos I encountered. (Misspelled words and even forgotten punctuation.) But the plot was slow moving. I feel like this book never really hit a climax. Oh it was suspenseful alright. It kept me wanting to know what was going to happen, but there was no real climax. More like several steep hills that you barely realized you went over.

Then there was the ending. (Don't worry, no spoilers.) Part of it seemed a bit far fetched. But then again, this book was written in 1969, and things were different back then. (Which also explains the language -- addressing one's daughter as "daughter," and telling someone to "can it.") So perhaps that even explains the slightly boring plot. In 1969 it might have been much more riveting, whereas in 2010, it's boring because it... happens more often? Something like that.

I did like the last chapter though. The last few paragraphs. And the last line especially. You know me, I'm not too keen on happy, puppies-and-rainbows-and-cupcakes-with-sprinkles-on-top endings. This was not one of those. It was almost morbid, but it was almost fitting. The character that gets in the final word -- you sympathize with him, and you're almost cheering him on in his final decision, despite how morally wrong it is.

I'll probably pick this book up again in the future. It's boring in parts, but it's also of a different time. Honestly, the plot reflects a different generation, but if you can sink into it, and believe you're a baby-boomer, (even if you are) then this book is pretty good.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Writer's Therapy

Do you ever get to the point where everything you do just seems pointless? In the sense that whatever you write sounds horrible? And everything you create just seems to suck! Yes? At least for me anyway. Lately. Pretty much all summer. It got to the point where music was boring, and reading was boring. That's a sign that things are going downhill.

Then a few days ago, everything changed.

I sat down and picked up a book I left under my bed for almost a month and finished it in three days. Then I sat down with a pen and paper and started writing something that I'm really proud of. (Well, in style, not in topic. More on that later.)

So how did this happen? How did I suddenly go from bored out of my skull, and utterly depressed about my writing to metaphorically jumping with joy?

What I will call Writer's Therapy. This would be something that has come totally unexpected. Something that is totally different and catches you off guard, and gets you excited again. What was this for me though?

This is where I will tell you to cover your face and sigh. Yes, My Chemical Romance pulled me out of my slump. Honestly, they had good reason too. These guys have a reputation for being dark and dreary. Then a few weeks ago, they unveiled their new music and a trailer for the new album, and it's full of brightness and color. It's also loaded with a concept that a literary agent would probably consider "high concept" if it were a novel. (We're talking, future world where music, art, and expression are controlled by the government.)

Suddenly I was hit with a wave of creativity. I started writing again. Granted, it was more or less fan-fiction, but it put me back in a place I thought I would never return. I'm writing the way I wrote months ago, but haven't written like for months. It gives me hope.

Sometimes you need that epic change that pulls you out of a slump. My Writer's Therapy people. What's yours?