Decision made! I think . . . maybe . . .

Stress. Woman stressed

So I’ve kinda, sort of, maybe, made a decision . . . I think? I’m going to continue to write my YA Science Fiction novel in 1st Person Present Tense and here’s why: (because I know you were just dying to find out 😉 )

Everything I’ve ever written including novels and short stories has been “easy”. I use quotations there, because writing isn’t easy, no matter how you slice it. I worked hard to complete my novels, polish them until they shined, develop a distinctive voice, make my characters deep, show don’t tell, etc. And none of that just flowed from the pencil (okay, fingers on keyboard) with no thought or effort. But I don’t recall struggling very much. I knew the story, so I wrote it. I received critique, and that was where I struggled the most, determining what was helpful and what was not, then I applied the critique. And so forth. I worked. It happened.

But this novel has been different. The 1st draft went pretty smoothly, but that was because I was just trying to get the story down. Revisions have left me feeling rudderless. And changing the 1st person to 3rd has been a bit of a drag. I wanted to write beautiful prose and inspire that feeling you get when reading classic novels (no, not confusion and frustration when you have no idea what they’re saying, that other one, where it sounds lyrical.) It’s not that I’m not pleased with my results in 3rd, but I’ve struggled with every word, every phrase, and still it feels disconnected from the characters. Part of me wanted to continue with 3rd because I thought it was the best way to achieve lyrical prose and not have the characters sound like tools, and because it was a challenge. I firmly believe in challenges, but this just felt unnatural.

After mulling it over for awhile, and showing a few chapters to my CP, and thinking some more, then asking everyone I could find what they thought about 1st or 3rd, I came to the decision that I felt closer to my characters in 1st, and I wanted to stay there. I could still attempt beautiful prose in 1st, and try to make the many characters each have a different voice (this may be the real tough part), and this in itself would be the challenge I needed. Besides, one of the questions I’ll ask my betas is if they think the story would be better served in 3rd. There’s always opportunity to change, and right now I feel relieved I’ve made a decisions and can get back to work!

Book Review: Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta

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Title: Entangled
Series: Entangled Series , #1
Author: Amy Rose Capetta
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 11/4/2014
Pages: 336
Age range: 14 years
ISBN-13: 9780544336247

Book blurb as seen on Amazon:

Alone was the note Cade knew best. It was the root of all her chords.

Seventeen-year-old Cade is a fierce survivor, solo in the universe with her cherry-red guitar. Or so she thought. Her world shakes apart when a hologram named Mr. Niven tells her she was created in a lab in the year 3112, then entangled at a subatomic level with a boy named Xan.
Cade’s quest to locate Xan joins her with an array of outlaws—her first friends—on a galaxy-spanning adventure. And once Cade discovers the wild joy of real connection, there’s no turning back.

I purchased this book for my Kindle on Amazon.

This one will be short. I don’t have a lot to say about Entangled. It was a good, entertaining read that was pretty quick and had me moderately invested the whole time. I enjoyed the author’s use of musical terms to help explain how Cade was thinking and feeling, and even though she was one of those hard luck cases that hates you first before you can hate her, I actually kind of enjoyed it. It wasn’t over done and seemed realistic based on her background. The theme of the story, connecting to other people, became a gradual idea and you saw Cade grow through all of it. She needed her connection to Xan, but she wanted her connection to other people she had gotten to know.

And the writing kept me in the story most of the time. I never stopped and thought, “Oh, she should have shown there, instead of told,” or “The dialogue is clunky.” Everything flowed together nicely. There were a couple of times her prose style made me do a double read so I could figure out what she was talking about, but other than that I enjoyed it.

This book would be an entertaining read for fans of Science Fiction with it’s interesting take on the universe. The villains were properly scary and the big reveal wasn’t something I saw coming. The ending was interesting and a little heartbreaking, though I knew there had to be something that would keep her from a happily-ever-after. It just didn’t feel like a HEA book. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel.

My Review: 3/5 stars


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And on a side note, I’m looking for recent YA Science Fiction novels to read. I want to get a good handle on the genre before I start writing. Any suggestions?

Book Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi


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Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky Trilogy (Book 1)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (January 3, 2012)
Language: English
Age Range; 14-17 years
ISBN-10: 006207203X
ISBN-13: 978-0062072030
Amazon Review: 4.4 stars

Book blurb as seen on Amazon:

Fighting to survive in a ravaged world, a Dweller and a Savage form an unlikely alliance in New York Times bestselling author Veronica Rossi’s “unforgettable dystopian masterpiece” (Examiner.com).

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive. A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption.

It took awhile to draw me into this book. To start with, Rossi begins with 7 named characters within the first couple of pages. I wasn’t sure who I should care about. And since it is Science Fiction, there’s world building too, so all-in-all, I was slightly overwhelmed. Which is to say I was underwhelmed. I like to be drawn into a character’s life with subtlety and hints, and to be emotionally invested in whether this person lives or dies or get’s what they want. I just didn’t feel that with Aria right away.

And then there was the fact that we were plopped right into the sort-of action from the start. Which normally isn’t a bad thing, and in fact is becoming more and more common in YA novels, because let’s face, who wants to read 3 chapters about a person going through their day-to-day life so we can get to know them? So what am I asking for here? Well, a balance I guess. I need to be invested in a character before I care about them and I need to be cognizant of their world before I can move through it. That’s hard to do in Science Fiction, and Fantasy too. So yes, a balance, which Rossi did okay, but it could have been a little better.

So move forward in the book, and eventually I did care what happened to Aria. Perry I was connected to very quickly, but that may have been because he was more real and his life situations were more immediate than Aria’s. It’s easier to connect with the emotional and physical struggle of someone who has to fight for his life everyday, than some spoiled kid who lives in a virtual reality world. It’s not until Aria is thrust into the “real world” that I began to connect with her more.

The premise was fairly interesting, though I wanted to know more about the Aether and what happened to the world to make it that way, but I’m guessing that will come in the later books. I thought the world building was well done and the developing relationship between Aria and Perry played out nicely. At first, you never thought there was any way these two people could form a bond, but Rossi did a great job of connecting the dots, humanizing both characters and drawing them closer. There was enough sexual tension to push the story forward and written in an appropriate manner for the target audience. The action was non-stop and they were rarely out of danger, which keeps you turning pages to find out what happens next.

The ending was reasonably satisfying, while still setting up for the sequel with unanswered questions and plot to develop. So basically a good read. It won’t change the world or anything, but it was enjoyable entertainment. I’m kind of running out of things to say, because though I enjoyed this book and I’ll read the sequels, it was just for fun, I guess. I don’t remembered being awed by the writing, but I wasn’t annoyed by it either, so that’s good. The story didn’t inspire me or anything, but it was entertaining. I guess basically, if the premise sounds interesting, you won’t be disappointed. But if not, well, you’re not missing anything.

My Review: 3.5/5 stars


Buy Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky Trilogy) on Amazon
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Buy Into the Still Blue (Under the Never Sky Trilogy) on Amazon
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Buy Roar and Liv (Under the Never Sky) on Amazon.com
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Buy Brooke: An Under the Never Sky Story on Amazon.com
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Status Report: The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper

So I’m reading the complete Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper as research. In case you don’t know, The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer are two of these novels encapsulated in Cooper’s works. I read The Last of the Mohicans many years ago, in response to the stirring epic movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and was pleasantly surprised that I liked it as much, and in some cases better, than the movie. But this reading is an entirely different animal.

To start, when I read TLOTM as a teenager, I was able to skip over some of the long, boring details that Cooper likes to revel in, rather skimming for important information and moving on. And when I say skimming, my skimming is just reading faster and a little less carefully. I am usually a very meticulous, though quick, reader. On my first reading, I concentrated on the feel of the story and allowed it to entertain me.

But now I’m reading to comprehend as much of the text as I can. I want to know what Cooper was trying to accomplish not only in plot, but also in underlying thoughts and motivations. His writing is littered with moralization and lessons to the Americans of the mid-1800’s, much of which I can’t (or won’t use), but they are classic works of fiction that deserve acknowledging, before I attempt to turn them into inspiration for YA novels.

This is a long hard read. Not only because I’m reading five novels, but because Cooper’s writing would have scared away the heartiest of modern agents. Take this paragraph from the opening of Chapter 8 in TLOTM:

The warning call of the scout was not uttered without occasion. During the occurrence of the deadly encounter just related, the roar of the falls was unbroken by any human sound whatever. It would seem that interest in the result had kept the natives on the opposite shores in breathless suspense, while the quick evolutions and swift changes in the positions of the combatants effectually prevented a fire that might prove dangerous alike to friend and enemy. But the moment the struggle was decided, a yell arose as fierce and savage as wild and revengeful passions could throw into the air. It was followed by the swift flashes of the rifles, which sent their leaden messengers across the rock in volleys, as though the assailants would pour out their impotent fury on the insensible scene of the fatal contest.

Phew! That was a mouthful. And I literally turned on my Kindle and took the first paragraph I found. I didn’t even have to search for something to demonstrate what I’m talking about. Every single paragraph is like this. Don’t get me wrong, I love classic literature, and there’s a part of me that greatly enjoys reading this, but there’s also a part of me that wants to get to the writing of my novel and the research is dragging! I mean, he could have just said the Hurons didn’t fire while the combatants struggled with each other because they were afraid they would hit their own man, but when their man was killed they fired on Hawkeye and Uncas. Okay, so his was far more beautiful, but he is very long winded.

Just read the Cliff Notes, you say? But, ahh my friend, I can not. Not only would it sorely test my moral compass, but I can’t actually find any Cliff Notes on the completed works. Not that I was looking to actually read them, mind you. It was just out of curiosity. Really.

So I am stuck (not entirely unhappily either) reading all five novels. That’s 37,789 Kindle pages. I’m not sure what that translates to in real pages, but let’s just look at that number again: 37,789 times I must click the Forward button. 37,789! And that’s not the only research I want to do. Damn me and my incessant need to be prepared, educated and thorough!

So my status update: I am 30% through. That’s 11,706 Kindle pages. I’ve read The Deerslayer and am working my way through The Last of the Mohicans right now. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the foresight to take notes on The Deerslayer as I was reading it, so I had to skim through again and take copious notes. At least with TLOTM I started the notes right away. But still, taking notes takes more time, so you know, more time reading. *sigh*

But it must be done. I am determined that I will not only be inspired by Cooper’s novels to write a Sci-Fi sweeping epic series, but that I will try to encapsulate his love of scenery and noble sentiments in the telling of this tale, almost as if they were characters themselves. But I plan on creating a future world different yet similar to our own that mirrors in some ways the world of England and America in the late 1700’s, with characters to populate that are flawed, but interesting and have real stories to tell. I’m not expecting much out of myself, am I?