Newbie Post #5: Let it go! Let it go! Turn away and slam the door!

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I apologize for the title, but I couldn’t resist. It was so perfect!

So there I was, my 130,000 word MG novel at its first draft. Yes, 130,000 word MG novel. Then came the editing stage, something that was completely new to me. I knew my word count was high, but hey, J.K Rowling did it, right?

Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons

Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons

Another lesson learned. J.K. Rowling can do whatever she wants because she’s J.K. Rowling. I had no concept of cutting scenes, finding the most important to keep, not padding my world building with a lot of unnecessary material, reducing number of characters, etc., etc.

I asked some poor, abused family members to read. One still has my printed manuscript in binders. That was six years ago. I’m hoping they’ve disposed of it by now. Anyway, my sister thought it was good. Of course she did. She’s my sister.

Girl Asleep On Her Notebook Computer

Onward and upward to finding beta readers. They thought the writing was good, though they had a lot of ideas for cutting and condensing. More work. Great! I love writing and I’m happy to edit. This was fantastic.

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And so it went for a good year. Cutting. Editing. Obsessing over what to cut and what to edit. More editing. More thinking. Every spare minute dedicated to a manuscript and characters that I loved. I had a whole series planned and some were destined for death while others for a somewhat happy ending. The groundwork was laid for an in depth MG series.

There was just one problem. Okay, there was more than one problem. The writing was decent (I think), the story was intriguing, my characters were well developed, but it was still way too long and it smacked of Harry Potter. You just can’t write another book in that vein anymore. The chances of getting published are minuscule, but the chances of getting sued are through the roof. Not to mention the fan base would tear you apart for even attempting such a lofty goal. No, it wasn’t fan fic, but only someone who’d been living under a rock for the past twenty years wouldn’t notice the correlations.

I knew all the problems that existed with my novel and the unlikely chance it would get published. The belief that I was a writer, and that was my career (despite the absent paycheck) had taken hold and I knew I had to make the decision that was best for my career. It was time to let it go. Trunk it. Maybe some day I’d come back when I could divorce myself from writing the next HP and just take my characters on the journey they were meant to take. We’ll see.

And I had this idea, about a girl who lived alone for two years after a plague wiped out mankind, or so she thought. The story wouldn’t let go, and I was filling notebooks with research and plotting and character development.

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Somewhere along the way I found out I was pregnant with twins. Morning sickness took over and then my babies were born almost three months early. We spent months in the hospital, followed by the life changing experience of bringing home preemie twins. I didn’t write much for almost a year and half, but I had I Have No Name planned in detail in my head and in notebooks. I just had to start writing.

Writing isn’t just about the fame or the money (however small they may be) or even getting published, but to take the purist attitude that I am only an artist, I will write what I want despite the market and I will pay no attention to such mundane things as the business side of writing is tantamount to career suicide. I will state it loud and clear. My goal is to be published, have a decent following and make enough money that I can justify it as a career and continue writing. Anything less is failure in my book.

I understand I may not reach my goal, but I will do whatever I am capable of to achieve it just the same. Even if it means giving up on a novel that will never be published. There may come a time I say that about my current WIP, and I already have several ideas vying for the right to come alive. That is the business of writing, and though it was very painful to let that MS go, it was the right thing to do. You can’t hang your career on one manuscript. Or even two. Some authors publish their first efforts, but most do not and I will not let my first “failure” inhibit me from moving on.

Newbie Post #6: Where we discuss why not publishing your first MS is not failure!

Newbie Post #1
Newbie Post #2
Newbie Post #3
Newbie Post #4

Book Review: Origins by Jessica Khoury


Buy Origin on Amazon.com
Add on Goodreads

Title: Origin
Author: Jessica Khoury
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Razorbill; First Edition edition (September 4, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595145958
ISBN-13: 978-1595145956
Amazon Review: 4.2/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

The jungle hides a girl who cannot die.

 

An electrifying action-romance that’s as thoughtful as it is tragic.

 

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home–and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

 

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin–a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

So, as usual, I’ll talk about the writing first. It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t bad either. It was pretty much unnoticeable, which was fine by me. Fantastic writing that sings is admirable and I thoroughly enjoy it, but sometimes I just want to get lost in a story. Khoury allowed me to read the story with interesting prose, but not be distracted by trying to write the next classic. Most YAs will never achieve such a goal, especially a Sci-Fi or Fantasy, so let me enjoy the tale. Khoury did just that.

I really liked this book, though I only gave it a 3. I guess I just didn’t love it. And if you want a 4 or 5 from me I’m going to have to love it. But the story was engaging and there were no love triangles, which will make some readers very happy. It was a little bit predictable in some cases, but that’s okay. There was enough suspense to move you through the book, still guessing about what might happen, even though you suspected what it would be. The characters were believable and Pia’s struggle between wanting to be a scientist and being true to herself was excellent. The idea that she was raised to think analytically and forget emotion, warring with her morality and the inciting love she feels for Eio was beautifully written.

I loved the ideas brought up in the book about morality, science, its purpose, immortality. They plagued me through out the text and I wanted a resolution. It seemed like there were ideas never mentioned on the subject, but Khoury does a nice job of summing things up without getting preachy. The ending was perfect and left me feeling entirely satisfied.

So, like I said, it gets a 3. The writing was good, but not stellar. I was a little annoyed at some of the names because I didn’t know how to pronounce them and had to think about it every time I read them, and it was slightly predictable. Still, entertaining and I look forward to the second book in the series, though Khoury wrapped it up so nicely I can’t imagine what it will be. Of course, I thought the same thing about Mindy McGinnis’ Not a Drop to Drink, and now I’ anxiously awaiting In a Handful of Dust.

My Review: 3/5 stars

Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name!

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There’s actually only one person in Boston (that’s Bah-stin) that knows my name, but we are leaving this weekend to visit my baby brother-in-law anyway. I say “baby”, because he’s the youngest of all my brothers-in-law and because he’s my husband’s baby brother. There’s a decent age gap, so he often gets lumped into the kid section with the grandkids. Since the oldest grandkid turns thirty this year, I guess they aren’t so little anymore! But being in Boston we barely get to see him so we’re Boston-bound for some quality Uncle Carl time!

But I have mixed emotions about our upcoming vacation. First there’s excitement! I’ve never been to Boston and as a history buff I’m psyched to go. We’ve all (or most of us) picked out the one attraction we have to see. Minion #1’s trip won’t be complete without a visit to the JFK Library and Museum, Minion #3 insists on touring the USS Constitution as his must-see, my hubby wants to see Fenway so we will book a tour there and I can’t wait to trek the Freedom Trail History Tour. Minion #2 didn’t pick anything. He doesn’t want to go, but hey, he doesn’t want to do anything these days and since I refused a trip to LA for VideoCon he’ll just have to find something to be happy about.

So here’s the mixed part. We decided to leave the twins with grandma. They’d be miserable walking around Boston all day and the 14 hour car trip would be no picnic for anyone. But that’s a whole week without my boys. On the one hand, that sounds like heaven. But despite how much they drive me crazy, I will miss them.

The other kicker is though I take everything I need to write during vacation, the chances of that actually happening are probably slim. I keep making goals for the book to be finished and then I watch them fly by like a seagull after a french fry.

The other thing is, this is kind of a goodbye for a week. Maybe. I have two blog posts scheduled for next week: Book Review: Origins by Jessica Khoury and Newbie Post #5: Let it go! Let it go! Turn away and slam the door!, but there won’t be anymore unless I get a chance in the next couple days. So I will see you all when I get back, and if I don’t answer comments right away, I’m not being a snob. 🙂 I’m just busy enjoying lobster and a ocean view condo!

The Obligatory Mommy Blog: I hate being a stay-at-home mom

A little harsh? Yeah, I know. But I’m serious. I do hate it. Just like I’d hate being a teacher, or a daycare worker, or a dance instructor, or a tee ball coach. I am not a born nurturer. I have to work hard at it. And I’ve been working for nineteen years. I feel like Charlotte from Sex and the City, if “he” were actually rest and relaxation and being able to do what I want for a change.

charlotte exhausted

I’m afraid I’m all used up. Dry like a well in the Dust Bowl circa 1930.

Being with kids all day, attending to their constant needs and wants, splitting up fights over toys, bottles, blankets and breathing space, trying to decipher their adorable yet sometimes tiresome gibberish, makes me exhausted!

speak monkey

 

I just don’t like dealing with children. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I enjoy them, most of the time. I’m even fond of their friends, for a little while. But the constant wearing down of little people is getting to me. They are the Colorado River and I am the Grand Canyon. And not the beautiful sunset part. No, the deep dark recesses way at the bottom. Beware: Don’t fall in!

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And you know what? I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. So I’m not Mother Teresa. Who is? I’m more like Mary Poppins crossed with Medusa on a bad day. But hey, you’ll still get that spoonful of sugar! Not everyone was destined to be June Cleaver. And we need to get over the notion that we should be!

medus

 

What’s important is not whether that maternal instinct to spend every second playing with kids exists inside us, but what we do about it. We all have bad days, and sometimes it feels like there’s more bad than good. But we have to keep trying. If I don’t sit on the floor stacking Duplos all day, but I’ve managed to get through the afternoon without screaming at everyone and giving myself a stress headache, well that’s a win! I’m never going to be the mom that plans crafts and playtime and gives my kids unlimited attention. I have shit to do. But I will give them unconditional love, discipline when they need it, my attention when I can (and sometimes when I can’t), and I’ll keep trying to do better. Every. Single. Day.

Real Heroes Read!

Real Heroes Summer reading 2

Those are swords, by the way. No idea why they insisted on holding them there.

Recently attended an author visit at my local library with Minion #3 as part of the library’s summer reading program. The visiting authors were David Anthony and Charles David Clasman of three children’s series Mystery Underground, Heros A2Z, and Knightscares.

David and Charles are full of energy and humor and my son and I enjoyed their visit. They were funny and entertaining and genuinely piqued my interest in reading their series to my son, though I was exhausted by the end of their act. Teachers and children’s entertainers always have that effect on me! And this was an act. They had everything down pat with tie-ins to their stories like the knighting of two audience members.

Real Heroes Summer reading 3

We saw juggling, a horn of heroes, knighting ceremony and David and Charlie even read from one of their books with one “reading” and the other doing sound effects and dialogue. The kids seemed to love it, though they got a bit restless toward the end, but that might have been in part to the awful acoustics. Every little noise (like rubbing balloon swords) was amplified. Also, I think they are geared more toward ages 5 and up and we had several babies and toddlers making distracting noise.

Real Heroes Summer reading 1

David and Charlie promote reading, no matter what you like to read, and encourage kids to not give up if they don’t like a book, but find something else they do like. Through their stories of their books and their childhoods they demonstrate how they became readers, how reading was a positive influence in their life, and how it inspired them to be writers themselves.

Overall it was a fun hour of talking about reading and writing. Minion #3 won a balloon sword and a free book as well as purchasing a second. I’d recommend Charlie and David if you live in Michigan and would like some enthusiastic writers to promote reading in your school. The theme of their program is Real Heroes Read! and their stories are all about kid heroes. Check them out on Amazon or their website.

Real Heroes Summer reading 4


Buy Heroes A2Z #1: Alien Ice Cream (Superhero Series, Heroes A to Z) on Amazon.com


Buy Cauldron Cooker’s Night (Knightscares Book 1, An Epic Fantasy Adventure Series) on Amazon.com


Buy Mystery Underground #1: Michigan Monsters (13 Terrifying Tales, A Collection of Spooky Short Stories) on Amazon.com

Hijacking the Character Blog Hop

93-land-of-the-pirates--vector-cartoon-illustration-1113tm-v1So I saw Infinite Free Time was on the Character Blog Hop, and he invited anyone who wanted to participate to join in by tagging themselves in the comments. Naturally I couldn’t resist talking about my book, so thanks for the invite to invite myself. 🙂 It may not be an actual hijack, but close enough!

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

My character has no name, hence the title I Have No Name. Not to give away too much, but she does develop names through the book (first a nickname, then one she chooses for herself.) It’s part of her character growth that she accepts that though she is no longer the person she used to be, she can still find happiness in the person she has become.

2) When and where is the story set?

The story is set 30-35 years into the future (I don’t set a date) and takes place in two locations. The first is a small Michigan town on the shores of Lake Huron and the second location is a not-so-secret government installation in Virginia known as Mount Weather.

3) What should we know about him/her?

The girl has some serious psychological issues. When the story opens she hasn’t seen another living person in two years. Before that she watched everyone she’s ever known die of the plague. The hallucinations are a problem, but the real issue is allowing anyone to ever get close to her again. She’s so messed up she doesn’t even want to get close to herself and tries to forget her own name.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

All she wants is to be left alone, but as usual, we often want what is worst for us. When the girl discovers she is not the sole survivor of the plague, she is faced with not only allowing herself to feel for others again, but a war between survivors that could destroy the few people she’s finally come to care about.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

That’s hard. It changes. First, she wants to be left alone. When she does make friends and finds a place in a community, she’s captured by a rival group and just wants to get home alive. But it isn’t that easy. Turns out the rival group isn’t full of “bad guys” as she was led to believe, and now she’s even starting to fall for one of them. Finding a way to keep the people she cares about safe is the most important thing. Matters of the heart come a distant second.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

I Have No Name. I’m considering making the front page of my blog static with my idea for the hook in the hopes that others will critique and help me craft a better one! And I’ve considered posting my first chapter for the fun of it.

7) When can we expect the book to be published? 

No idea. I’m finishing edits and beginning query stage soon. I want to go the traditional route, though I’m not opposed to indie or self pub if it comes to that. We’ll see. I wouldn’t expect anything for a couple of years anyway.

Like Infinite, I’m not tagging anyone. Tag yourself in the comments and jump in!

Book review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


Buy Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Book 1) on Amazon.com
Add on Goodreads

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Author: Laini Taylor
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 5, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031613399X
ISBN-13: 978-0316133999
Amazon Review: 4.5/5 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon.com:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

 

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

 

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

 

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I borrowed this book from my local library

All right, this is going to be short and sweet. Maybe. I loved this book. I’m giving it a solid 4. It would get a 5, but I don’t actually read a lot of Fantasy, so it’s not entirely my thing, and there was one minor problem I had that I’ll get to later. Still, a 4 from me is high praise.

Sometimes you come across a book where the writing is so good you want to jot down all the nice little lines you find and share them with your blog readers. That was not this book. There were so many lines I couldn’t write them all down. I couldn’t take the time to analyze why Taylor is a good writer because I was so caught up in the beautiful prose and the amazing story that to dissect writing style would have been blasphemous. I had to just keep reading. Someday I may go back and read more critically, but this is the sort of book that makes me ecstatic I’m a book worm, and makes me want to keep at this writing thing. I was lost in the story, and that’s the way it should be.

I was a little concerned about the angel angle. I’ve read a few “angel books”, and I know there are a few hundred more out there because I pin them to my YA Books board on Pinterest all the time. So I’m a little sick of seeing them. Though I haven’t read them all, I felt like this was a somewhat fresh take on that angle. Now, I’m still a little tired of angels, but I’ll let it slide for this series. Bring them on!

My only problem was that sometimes there was too much to remember, imagine, understand. But that is more me than Taylor’s writing. Like I said, I don’t read a lot of Fantasy, though that may change, so my imagination muscles need to flex in this arena a bit more. The characters were so strange and fantastical it was sometimes difficult to fully realize them in my own mind. That’s on me, not Taylor, because she gave me the tools to work with, but I was just to caught up in the story. When I read it again, I’ll be able to take the time to draw a mental picture more thoroughly.

So basically, if you like Fantasy READ THIS! If you are on the fence about Fantasy, read it anyway, because it’s still grounded in reality. If you don’t like Fantasy, well, read it anyway. This might change your mind. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series, though I may force myself to wait since I have so many others stacked up. Or maybe not. We’ll see! :)-

My Review: 4/5 stars

Latest haul

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It’s bag day at the library sale. $7 for all the books you can squeeze in a bag and the bag too! I won ‘t list them all, but the stack on the left is another pile of biographies and history for my daughter, the big stack is a variety for myself, though mostly sci-fi, and that lonely book in front is one for my hubby about Jimmy Buffet. There’s something so satisfying and right about owning stacks of books!

This may be getting out of hand . . .

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I went to Barnes and Noble on Thursday. There was a used book sale at my library-is a used book sale at my library. I helped set up and put a few books on reserve. Then I went back yesterday to purchase, browse a little more, and found stacks of books I wanted. I didn’t get them all. I’ll leave some for others, but come Saturday I’ll be back for the bag sale. I have no idea where I’m going to put them all!

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Far left group:
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (bought at a garage sale and I’ll get to some day)
UnWholly by Neal Shusterman (looking forward to reading, but whenever)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (already owned and read as a child, but feel I should do so again)
Splintered by A.G. Howard (really looking forward to this one)
In the After by Demitria Lunetta (really, really looking forward to this one)
Lord of the Rings (not pictured because Minion #2 is reading it right now. It’ll be awhile before I get to that one)
The Maze Runner (not pictured because it’s in Minion #2’s room and he’s sleeping. Really need to read before movie)

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Middle left group: (these are all Minion #3’s choice from the library sale and Daddy’s reading them before bedtime)
Nanny McPhee by Christianna Brand
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Alex Rider Eagle Strike by Anthony Horowitz (not going to read this one to him yet. He’s a little young)
Star Wars Jedi Apprentice #2 by Jude Watson
Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager

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Middle right group: (my library sale finds. I’ll add some sci-fi and fantasy when I go back on Saturday)
The Complete Wilderness Training Book by Hugh McManners (apparently I’m the only one who’s ever checked it out and the librarian remembered and saved it for me. It was research for my current WIP and since she saved it I felt like I had to buy it)
The Silent Boy by Lowis Lowry (never heard of it, but it’s by Lowry so . . .)
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (I feel compelled to read this)
Red Hill by Jamie McGuire (not really in to zombie books, but I’ve heard good things)
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (feel like I’m an incomplete reader if I don’t have this one under my belt)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (read as a kid and want to again for nostalgia’s sake)
Where the Red ferns Grow by Wilson Rawls (once again, must read to be complete)
Anne frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (as I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve never read this and I can’t believe I’ve gotten through life without it, so on the list it goes)

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Far right group: (these are for Minion #1. She couldn’t make the sale, but after 19 years I know her tastes by now)
Ladies Home Journal 100 Most Important Woman of the 20th Century
Laura Bush by Ronald Kessler
Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan by William E. Pemberton
The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II by Ben Pimlott

We also found a box set movies of Band of Brothers and the movie The Indian in the Cupboard. I was disappointed that Minion #2 wouldn’t buy any books. He’s in that I’m-fifteen-and-I-refuse-to-participate-in-anything-you-like stage. He reads a lot, and is currently ankle deep in LOTR, but wouldn’t select any other books for the future. I don’t get that. I bet if we went to B&N and I had to pay $15 a book he’d have found plenty! Oh well, maybe in a few years. There was a time my daughter wouldn’t accept hand-me-downs or second-hand items either and she was thrilled when I sent her the pics of her new books.

So I don’t know what I’ll do about reading order, or time. We are going to Boston in a week, so I’ll have a 12 hour car trip each way, though I suppose I should take my turn driving and give hubby a break. I want to stick with a lot of YA for learning and book reviewing purposes, but I’ll slip some of these others in now and then. Plus, the library will be getting new books now that they’ve cleaned the shelves so . . .