Wednesday, October 27, 2010

RTW: Best book of October

Sooo I didn't read all that much this month.

But I did reread THE GIVER, which I hadn't read in years. It had been just long enough that there were parts I didn't remember. As always when I reread something, I caught things I hadn't ever noticed before. When I first read this book as a younger kid, I was completely fascinated by the assigned jobs idea. Not that I wanted to have something like that implemented in my own world, but I wrote so, so many stories in middle school that revolved around ceremonies where people are assigned jobs. (The one I remember best is one where humans lived underground in what was basically an ant colony because they lived on a planet inhabited by huge giants who would squish them--like ants--if above. This was when I had been playing the game SimAnt a lot. The MC was assigned the job of aphid milker. At age 12, I wasn't too worried about how the science worked out...) But anyway, reading the book as I got older, I noticed the subtle things more. I won't say which part hit me the most intensely this time when I read it, because that would be a super spoiler, but wow. It was as good as it ever was.

I also read THE RED PYRAMID by Rick Riordan. This is the first of his books I've read--I haven't tried out the Percy Jackson series yet, though I plan to!--and it was pretty good. Completely entertaining, loved the mythology (I <3 ancient Egypt), and the characters were fun. I'll definitely read more books in this series, when they're out.

What was your favorite book this month? Visit YA Highway to share!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RTW: Who makes me less unique?

So this week's Road Trip Wednesday topic is not an easy one. At least not for me. The prompt: Who are your comp titles/authors?


There's a reason I avoided this entirely in my queries. It's not because I think I'm so insanely special and unique that no one else's book could possibly be like mine. It's not because I'm so humble that I don't think I can be compared in any way, shape or form to a published author. And it's not because I don't know how to compare books to other books. You might think I'm going somewhere with this, since I started this paragraph with "There's a reason," but you'd be wrong. Really it's just not as easy for me to objectively compare my own book to other books as it is for me to objectively compare other people's books. But I think it's good to have a general idea, so here we go:

So Dead:
Well, for the dead teenager trying to sort out her personality aspect, I think the obvious comparison for this one is Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. Our writing styles are very different and our plots are very different, but there are definitely some common themes.

Because it has both post-apocalyptic and dystopian aspects, I'm going to compare it to Shade's Children by Garth Nix. So, I could/should probably choose something more popular and more current, but the obvious choice if I'm going to be popular and current is The Hunger Games and that's a little too popular. The thing about Shade's Children is that it has the really obvious bad guys who are, without question, the enemy, but it also creates an environment where the person you think is helping you might actually not be. I have that same kind of chaotic "can't trust anyone" vibe going on in Unthawed (all 8k of it so far, at least...) I will definitely not pretend I think I'm as awesome as Garth Nix, though.

So now that I've expended all my energy on two measly little comparisons, what are yours? Visit YA Highway to share!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

RTW: Favorite first lines

This week's Road Trip Wednesday topic is: A novel's opening is like a pick up line. If it's good, you might take it home. If it's bad... well. You know. What are your favorite first lines? How do your own WIPs start?

Let's start with mine, because I only have one--other WIPs are too drafty and will likely change. The first line of SO DEAD is: "Being dead is awesome."

Some of my book favorite first lines? It's hard to say because sometimes a book is freaking awesome but its first line...not so much. Or vice versa. But here are some good ones, and these are books that ended up being as great as their first lines--no sense leading people astray with kickass first lines that led to mediocre books!

THREE DAYS TO DEAD by Kelly Meding: "I don't recall the first time I died, but I do remember the second time I was born."
Yeah it certainly catches your interest, doesn't it? Dead? Born? What is going on with this character??

FEED by M. T. Anderson: "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck."

SHADE'S CHILDREN* by Garth Nix: "A razor blade gave me freedom from the Dorms."

ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine: "That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me."

THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy: "Stealing eggs is a whole lot harder than stealing the whole chicken."

I could go on, but that's probably enough. I like each of those lines for a different reason. I think the main thing, though, is that they establish voice, and tell me that something interesting is going on. And when I read books, I want them to be interesting, you know?

What are some of your favorite first lines? Join us at YA Highway and share!

*Why haven't more of you read this book?????

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

RTW: Desert Island

This week's road trip Wednesday topic is: You're packing for a month on a deserted island. What, as a reader and writer, must be in your backpack?

Well, if I'm packing for this trip in advance, obviously this deserted island is going to be somewhat prepared for me. So I'm going to pretend that my country-girl knowledge of how to not die while walking around in the woods will translate into knowing how to build a good fire (hey--I would be better at it than some of the people on Survivor!) and shelter and finding food. So I won't need to pack anything for that. Except maybe a few cigarette lighters, because they hardly take up any space, and while I'm figuring out how to effectively get my fire lit the natural way, it might be smart to have a backup plan. 

I would also pack sunscreen. Because let's face it. I do not have the complexion for a desert island, and I hate being sunburned. 

And then, I would pack a zillion notebooks. And pens. And also a giant plastic bag to store them in if it rains. Or, maybe wiser, I would use a waterproof suitcase (they make those, don't they?) I write by hand a lot anyway, so this would be no problem. But a month with nothing to do really except write or read? We're talking about a lot of notebooks, here. And a lot of pens. And maybe a couple of pencils, in case all my pens die. 

Of course, I can't write ALL the time. My brain would explode from overwork. So I would bring a selection of my favorite books: His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman; HEX HALL by Rachel Hawkins; THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy; FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK by Melina Marchetta; SHADE'S CHILDREN by Garth Nix; and more if I had room. 

What would you bring? Stop by YA Highway and let us know!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Queries, jealousy, and the internet is the internet.

I feel like this is one of those blog posts that I should preface by saying: this all is just my opinion. Although I hope everyone who reads my blog knows that, actually, everything on this blog is just my opinion. It is my blog, after all!

And if you're thinking, "those things in the title of this post don't seem like they quite go together," you're right. I wanted to blog about three separate things, but none really warrant their own, individual post, I don't think. So here are my thoughts on three random, unrelated subjects.

Queries. Or more specifically, agents and interns tweeting about queries. There's been some quiet uproar (ha--is that an oxymoron?) on twitter this week about certain querying hashtags, and Kathleen Ortiz wrote a brilliant blog post touching on the difference between agents and interns tweeting about queries. I'm not going to throw in my own opinion on that particular facet because I am so unqualified to, but anyway. It's a good post. But here is my opinion, in general, on the query-related tweeting as someone who used to be in the querying trenches.

Querying sucks sometimes. The highs are really high, the lows are really low. I enjoy general posts by agents or interns or whoever on things like: querying trends, generalized reasons why they rejected something, general advice based on mistakes they've seen a lot of lately, and other similar topics. Statistics, like "I received x amount of queries, this many in this genre, this many in this genre, asked for y amount of partials and z amount of fulls" are also way interesting to me. 

But I am so turned off by too-detailed specifics and also by teasing about someone's query or pages. I would have absolutely died inside if I'd seen myself tweeted about while I was querying. Because while yeah, the slush pile is, I'm sure, filled with a lot of scary stuff and letters by people who did zero research, there are also many people who did do their research and are trying so hard and putting this piece of themselves out there (in a private email, might I add) only to be publicly ridiculed. It's just not cool, and honestly, my opinion of someone can totally diminish if they are nasty and unkind toward queriers. Queriers may not be signed by anyone yet, and they may not be published, but that doesn't make them inferior human beings. I would imagine it's easy, when someone is seeing hundreds of queries a day, to forget that these are people sending the letters, with faces, lives, feelings, etc. But it's kind of important to remember. And I definitely think that the majority of the internet writing community, agents, interns and authors alike, are respectful toward each other, but not always. Unfortunately.

Jealousy. The ugly green beast. It attacks at the worst of times. Like when you're trying so hard to be happy for someone, but dammit, you want what they have! And with writing, there are lots of opportunities to be jealous. You're querying. They got an agent. You got an agent, but they got an agent faster! You've been on sub forever, and they got a book deal like *that*. You got a book deal, but they got a HUGE book deal. Your cover came out terrible, you wish you had theirs. They just posted pictures of the delicious baked goods they made, and you are OUT OF $%#$ING FLOUR! 

I'm not sure that it's humanly possible to not be jealous. Ever. Of anything. But you can, and should, contain it. For me personally, there is no rhyme or reason to what makes me jealous. Sometimes everyone else around me is--or seems--jealous of something, and I'm floating away in "I'm so happy for this person that nothing else matters" land. Other times, I get a seething jealousy over something ridiculous, like, say, cookies. I think I'm naturally not a super jealous person, but it still gets me sometimes. However. You can't let it rule you. It is absolutely miserable to be around a person who is so perpetually envious that they are always unhappy. I like to reason through my jealousy, when I can tell I'm getting to an unattractive point of jealousness. Like, okay, she has cookies and I don't. Should this affect our friendship? If she stole the cookies from me, yes. This is an unforgivable crime. Otherwise, no. It should not. And if I want cookies, what am I doing to get some for myself? If I'm not even getting off my lazy butt to cook some, then how jealous can I really be, because obviously I don't want them that badly. If I'm missing an ingredient or just don't have the time that day, then maybe I should make a plan to bake cookies a different day. Problem solved. I know it's a simple example, but it works for lots of things, really, it does.

The internet is the internet. I have formed some of my best friendships on the internet, so I am not belittling it at all. But it's the internet. You're not hearing a person's tone of voice, not seeing their accompanying gestures as they communicate. When they're IMing you, they might also be fighting off an attack from a vicious toddler or cleaning up dog puke. Maybe that thing they tweeted sounded totally hilarious in their head, but without inflection, it comes out flat. And, although our internet community might feel so small when we're in it, it's actually massive. And sometimes people belong to more than one little internet niche, which makes it even more massive. So that passive-aggressive tweet that feels it's casting a giant spotlight over you may actually not be about you at all. It's important to remember how vast the internet is and how many people it revolves around before you ever let it ruin your day. I know I forget how huge it is all the time, personally. (Although I suppose, if you're someone who thinks EVERY tweet/blog post/forum post is about you, either it is and you've got some issues you should work on, or it isn't, and you've maybe got some different issues to work on...)

So that was long. And maybe boring, but I hope not. And maybe nonsensical, but I hope not that either. Just some things that were in my brain and wanted to come out, and did!