Thursday, September 23, 2010
Though I have yet to read SPEAK, it is in my TBR pile (and I promise to write a review once I actually get to it). But for those of you not familiar with the story, here's a summary from Amazon:
In a stunning first novel, Anderson uses keen observations and vivid imagery to pull readers into the head of an isolated teenager. Divided into the four marking periods of an academic year, the novel, narrated by Melinda Sordino, begins on her first day as a high school freshman. No one will sit with Melinda on the bus. After school, students call her names and harass her; her best friends from junior high scatter to different cliques and abandon her. Yet Anderson infuses the narrative with a wit that sustains the heroine through her pain and holds readers' empathy. A girl at a school pep rally offers an explanation of the heroine's pariah status when she confronts Melinda about calling the police on a summer party, resulting in several arrests. But readers so not learn why Melinda made the call until much later: a popular senior raped her that night and, because of her trauma, she barely speaks at all. Only through her work in art class, and with the support of a compassionate teacher there, does she begin to reach out to others and eventually find her voice. Through the first-person narration, the author makes Melinda's pain palpable: "I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special." Though the symbolism is sometimes heavy-handed, it is effective. The ending, in which the attacker comes after her once more, is the only part of the plot that feels forced. But the book's overall gritty realism and Melinda's hard-won metamorphosis will leave readers touched and inspired.
Other books that come to mind when we're talking about the gritty realism teens face are Lucy Christopher's STOLEN (one of my all-time favorite books), and Elizabeth Scott's LIVING DEAD GIRL (which I actually wrote a review of). Stockholm Syndrome, kidnapping, child abuse, etc. are all things that are common in our society, but are rarely written about. I fully support those authors who take the time to bring up these topics and try to get kids talking. For all you know, the girl sitting next to you in class may be a rape victim who finds comfort in a book like SPEAK. The fact that authors are writing about things teenagers encounter and suffer is important. Bad things happen to people all the time, and we're not helping them by sweeping it under the rug.
I speak from experience.
For those of you who are not aware, I spent two months last year living in Galway, Ireland. It was for a study abroad program, and I was supposed to have spent four months there. However, after being sexually assaulted outside a bar, I found myself too afraid to remain in the city. I'd lost all of my confidence, and I didn't feel safe. I still remember how terrified I was that night. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for over an hour, then managed to get in contact with my best friend back in the US. And while she helped to calm me down, I don't think I ever got over it. No, I wasn't raped, but I could have been if the guy hadn't been so drunk. But he left marks that didn't fade for a few days. Sometimes I'll look down at my arms and still see the bruises.
A year later, I've regained a lot of my confidence. I haven't lost faith in people, but I'm certainly more careful. I still prefer to stay away from bars when going out, and I make sure to take my guys with me when I do. I'm vigilant in making sure my girl friends are all safe. 1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and I'm trying to make sure none of my friends have to go through what I did. It was the most terrifying few minutes of my life, and I can recall them now with perfect accuracy. Things like that don't fade. They stay with you, but I'm trying to use those feelings as motivation, rather than a hindrance.
But for those women and men we can't save, it's important that books like SPEAK be available. I've found comfort in the strength some of these characters have. It reminds me that I'm not alone.
And that is why I Speak Loudly.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I think the most useful thing for you guys will be the 'writerly resources' page, where I've begun to list useful people to follow on twitter, blogs you should check out, and articles I've found really useful. I'll constantly be adding to it, so keep checking back!
Also, I've added a page for book reviews. Right now it looks pretty empty, but I have a few reviews I need to import from my other journal, and have plenty of books I'd like to write reviews for. So that will grow exponentially as well.
If you have any ideas for things you'd like to see on the blog, leave a comment! I'm open to suggestions!
Though I actually read HUSH, HUSH back in November of 2009, I thought now might be a good time to post a proper review since the sequel, CRESCENDO, is coming out October 19th. And I definitely plan to pick up a copy as soon as I can. From what I've heard, the series is supposed to be a trilogy, so at least I'll get the satisfaction of two more books before I have to find something to fill the void.
I have to be honest, the thing that drew me to this book was the cover. It's absolutely gorgeous, and every time I passed it in Barnes & Noble, I kept thinking how pretty it would look on my book shelf. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but I do anyway (I used to be an art history major; it's in my nature to judge covers). I won't lie when I say I was wary of picking up this book, because the summary on the jacket made it sound like a TWILIGHT rip-off, and I really wasn't in the mood for a cliche YA romance about something supernatural. But the first few pages seemed all right, so I could only hope that Becca Fitzpatrick knew what she was talking about.
Luckily, she did, and I wasn't disappointed. Truthfully, I enjoyed the book a lot. This is evidenced by the fact that I stayed up until 5am to finish it, since I was utterly unable to put it down. The book is fast-paced, interesting, and while not entirely new in terms of ideas (angels and demons are on the rise in YA, and I've seen a lot come through the slush pile), was different enough to keep me reading. The characters were likable, whether they were bad guys or good, and I really enjoyed the converging storylines at the end. There was mystery, which was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. Usually the mystery element in a YA novel is pretty easy to guess, but I was left completely clueless until the true antagonist was revealed at the end of the novel (and when the answer was given away, I did a major *facepalm*). It's a rare thing to be surprised by a book anymore, and maybe I was rendered slightly stupid by the fact it was so late when I got to the end, but it was a nice change to think that an author had done something not entirely predictable. I really appreciated the originality in that.
The writing, too, was solid. Sure, there were a few cheese-tastic lines, but I found myself laughing along with the characters at times, and certainly smiled at others. The characterization was spot-on, and while some of the things were rather cliche (location of the final show-down, anyone?), I didn't have any trouble believing their motivations.
Like I said, overall, I really enjoyed the book. Definitely recommended, and definitely (much) better than TWILIGHT. If you liked TWILIGHT, I'd say give this a shot, and if you've been enjoying the whole upsurge of vampire/werewolf/supernatural stuff, you'll be happy you bought this. Despite any qualms I may have had, I'm proud to have HUSH, HUSH on my bookshelf.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
And that method worked.
For a while.
These days, I'm slowly starting to rethink the way I write. Maybe it was writing a thesis that instigated the change, or talking to other writers who always outlined first. Maybe I just realized that my old way of doing things was no longer working for me. Whatever the reason, something changed.
Though I'd tried to outline stories before (we're talking back in middle school and high school), I'd never get further than chapter three. I'd come up with a sufficient beginning; I'd let the rest of the chips fall where they may. So, during college, I gave up trying to outline altogether. I said "fuck it," and just wrote whatever came to mind. And that produced a few manuscripts, though I don't think I'd ever hand them over to an agent. They're drawer manuscripts, as my thesis advisor called them; they were practice runs, not a book I'd want to see on a shelf (Okay, maybe DON'T MAKE A SCENE. But only if I edited the crap out of it.). And I was okay with that.
Then last semester happened. Thesis semester. And while I'd written a good chunk of THE AGE OF NEVER GROWING OLD during NaNoWriMo, I had a third to write, and then a whole lot of revisions ahead of me. So I tried something new: I outlined the story after I'd finished it. Which may sound weird, but hear me out. Outlining after the fact turned out to be really helpful. I was able to see where I'd placed all of the rising actions, where things fell flat, where I could use some more character development, etc. And everything was already written, so I had material to work with when I began editing. So for that project, outlining after I'd finished turned out to be a great idea. And it was the first time I'd successfully outlined anything from beginning to end.
Since finishing my thesis, I haven't been able to stick to any one project. I have writing OCD (I swear this should be a legitimate, diagnosable, disease). I tried to outline a few of my projects before I began writing, but that failed. I then tried to outline as I wrote, and that failed, too. No surprises there. I was getting frustrated. I had one book book being queried, four finished books twiddling their thumbs on my hard drive, and a million ideas floating through my head. I wrote nearly 25k on one project, but as of today, haven't worked on it in nearly two months.
So what's a girl to do?
Last night I needed a break from an endless pile of homework, and decided to look over something I'd written last weekend - the first chapter of a book entitled SILENCE. I'd meant for it to be a WWII young adult romance, but after thinking it over, decided it could work just as well as a futuristic dystopian. So I turned to Microsoft Word, opened a new document, and began typing. And you know what I typed up? Half of an outline. The entire first half of the book is in outline form right now, and the best part is that I like it. It makes sense. And I have a general sense of what I want to happen in part two, so you know what? I'm going to outline that as well. Probably this weekend.
And you know what I'm going to do after I finish outlining? I'm going to write. Because it's the only way to keep my mind off the queries I have floating around in cyberspace. If TANGO doesn't get picked up by an agent, I'd like to have something else to send out, especially considering the fact I had a few agents ask to see other work. So! Time to get to it!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
But things aren't so great at home right now. Desperate for a distraction, Bianca ends up kissing Wesley. And likes it. Eager for escape, she throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley.
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out that Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.
The farther Nora delves into the mystery of her father's death, the more she comes to question if her Nephilim blood line has something to do with it as well as why she seems to be in danger more than the average girl. Since Patch isn't answering her questions and seems to be standing in her way, she has to start finding the answers on her own. Relying too heavily on the fact that she has a guardian angel puts Nora at risk again and again. But can she really count on Patch or is he hiding secrets darker than she can even imagine?
Others have handbooks.
Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds.
Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way--the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds--a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers.
In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl's struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone--especially yourself--you fight for it.
Annah’s world stopped that day and she’s been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn’t feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.
Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah’s longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?
But it's not the swimming that troubles Lexi. It’s the singing that goes with it.When she turned sixteen, her siren song killed the only boy she's ever loved. Now, she avoids the popular shores of the Pacific in favor of a long forgotten lake up in the mountains, where she can swim and sing in peace, far from the population of her oceanside home.
Until, that is, Cole Mills discovers her lake. He’s new to Lincoln City High, and he doesn’t know about Lexi’s reputation as an ice queen—a reputation she’s carefully cultivated to keep everyone around her safe. He pushes her, talks to her, forces her to dream of what life could be like if she weren’t a siren.
Lexi can’t stop herself from warming to him, from falling for him. Soon, he’s demanding answers, following her to the lake, unknowingly risking his life. How can she keep him safe when the one thing she wants most--to hold him close-- will endanger his life?