Monthly Archives: August 2012

It Can Take You Anywhere…

After seeing a post about this from a teen blog I follow, it inspired me to do one of my own. As I’ve mentioned in another post, I do occasionally like to use soundtracks when I’m writing. I haven’t been able to lately due to computer issues (blasted, contrary creatures…), but when I do, these are my favorite pieces and composers. So, enjoy! And feel free to share yours in the comments, since I’m always on the lookout for new songs to add to my arsenal.

1. Murray Gold

I. Can’t. Say. Enough. The man is totally brilliant! For those of you who don’t know, he’s been the composer behind the Doctor Who soundtrack since the beginning of the rebooted show (I think) and has managed to keep bringing fresh, imaginative, emotional music to each episode and the varied emotions therein. Honestly, most of my writing playlists are made up of his stuff because his work has an uncanny knack of bringing up a maelstrom of emotions. He has everything from happy-go-lucky songs to full-on, over-the-top climax pieces. These two are my favorites:

2. Anything by Michael Giacchino

From his work on the Star Trek reboot to his Pixar films, I have yet to meet a Giacchino soundtrack that I didn’t like. Most of the pieces I’ve heard have had a nice, upbeat rhythm to them (unless it’s a major climax scene or something) and I really like his style. Also, his work is varied, so you can generally use something of his in whatever you’re writing. That’s always handy.

3. Sherlocked

The ultimate sad song from the ultimate sad relationship. Though I had mixed feelings about the episode(THEY RUINED IRENE ADLER!!!!RUINED HER!!!!) from which this piece came, I love the piece itself. If you want a real tearjerker scene, play this in the background. It’s utterly perfect for it. The rest of the Sherlock: Series Two soundtrack isn’t bad, either, but I think this is the best.

4. Mysterious Themes…

Talking about this one tonight of all nights is rather disturbing. It’s been gray and raining off and on all day, it’s been somewhat windy, tonight is a full moon (a blue one, at that), and it’s surprisingly cold for the last night of August. It feels like a rather mysterious night. And I dare you to find more mysterious themes. My dad (the finder of brilliant TV shows) found both of these, and I immediately jumped on the themes.

I also like that that one sounds kinda steampunky.

5. Romance Songs…How Sweet.

Writing romance has always been…a problem for me. Since I’ve never had a significant other(nor do I intend to for some time), figuring out exactly how people act while in love is somewhat difficult. Therefore, I need all the help I can get, including good music. Hence, these songs. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share.

(Yeah, I know it’s a Murray Gold, but I consider it a love song. My selection is somewhat limited.)

6. John Williams

Tried and true, boring old classic, yes, I know. But I like him! You have to admit, his work is some of the most brilliant movie music of the century, if not all time. My favorites include the Indiana Jones theme, Darth Vader’s theme, and the Superman theme. All of them are iconic, and they’re that way for a reason. They have immediate emotional recognition. Listen to Indiana Jones and you immediately feel like an adventurer. Listen to Superman and you feel like you could hop up and fly with him. Listen to Darth Vader and you want to walk somewhere with great importance, scowling the whole way. They’re brilliant.

 

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Why So Serious?

Warning: The following discusses one of the blogger’s hobbyhorses. Do not be alarmed by ranting, pulling-out of hair, or similarly insane behavior.

Ah, the joys of a new school year. This morning, I was attempting to research American Literature courses to help Mom put together my reading list, and you know what I found? Heaps upon heaps of the most revered cerebral classics of all time. In other words, the stuff I hate. Not that I consider intelligent literature bad, mind you. Definitely not. I was overjoyed to find some perfectly brilliant books and short stories on the list by authors who manage to put thought-provoking concepts into something with an actual plot outside of the preachery (such as Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Twain), and I certainly consider those good.

What I don’t like is the tendency of the literary world at large to think anything light-hearted or anything without an overbearing, prophetic, or bittersweet theme is complete drivel. I just don’t get it. If it isn’t cryptic, over fifty years old, and includes horrendous amounts of dramatic deaths, shocking elements, or dystopian prophecies, then the author’s a hack, the work is garbage, and its readers are uneducated. Or at least according to literature professors and creative writing majors. There are such things as happy themes, you know. People could learn just as much, if not more, from something actually uplifting rather than a social commentary highlighting the sorry moral state of our current society. The amount of success such things have is utterly baffling to me. Particularly since authors who include both elements in their work tend to also be highly successful.

True, it feels a lot more artsy and avante garde and elitist to write sad, heartrending epics than it is to write a nice, cozy comedy. I know, because I felt immensely accomplished after killing off two characters in the space of a single chapter and that was even without inputting a poetic theme. Scary, no?

In a nutshell, the problem lies in all of us taking ourselves way too seriously. Isn’t the point of writing supposed to be simple storytelling, anyways? We’re entertainers. Chroniclers of our times. If we’re too busy figuring out new ways to write the next classic American allegorical novel which happens to pay brilliant homage to F. Scott Fitzgerald, we’re not really doing our job as writers to be creative. To do new things! To encourage learning and exploration and all manner of fantastic endeavors. And most so-called classics make me want to go curl up and die rather than go do something good.

So, rant is over…here are ways to help cut out some of that seriousness.

1. Go Watch Doctor Who

Or read Mark Twain or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. All three are great examples of how to do it right. They all keep a balance between humor and drama, and there’s always something to learn from them, as it should be with all fiction. Balance. Is. Essential.

2. Reread your current work

If you’ve gone a full chapter without single flash of brightness or humor, methinks you might want to stick in a knock-knock joke or a banana peel or something. Whatever style of humor happens to fit with your narrative voice.

3. Read Literary Fiction

…until you’re sick of it and you can get an idea of what you like and don’t like about it. It can show you how to handle the dramatic passages, as well as where a little bright moment would be appreciated.

4. Let Someone Else Review Your Work

Preferably a trusted friend with a decent eye for books. They can tell you what audiences like and don’t like about their fiction. Not that this should be the final word on your piece; it is after all, yours, and you should stay true to your voice. Unless your voice stinks. In which case…work on it. Also, having someone who’s a bit more literary, preferably a fellow writer, look over your work as well can help point out places where you actually need to insert a bit of the professional high-falutin’-writing-major stuff.

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Writing Prompt Monday!

I dunno about you, but I consider Mondays to be wicked, evil things that, while necessary, are pure torture. Somewhat like mathematics. But I digress. I almost didn’t blog anything today, but I figured I needed to do something since I skipped yesterday. Then I had an idea… A lot of blogs have special stuff for certain days of the week. Q. and A. Day or Character Development Day or Free Flying Monkeys Day or whatever…Why not mine?

And since I’ve been coming across a lot of writing prompts lately, some good, some perfectly pathetic, that’s what I’ve got! A writing prompt every Monday, beginning today! We shall see if I’m any good at writing prompts.

Okay, so that’s not the only reason I came up with this. I dove into the wonderful, startling world of choir today, and discovered that it can be somewhat of a challenge for a perfectionist who can’t read a lick of music. Therefore I came home and practiced until I gave myself a singing-induced headache and was too tired to do any real, thought-provoking (if any of my stuff is) posts.

What does your main character think about in the shower?

(Would you like to guess where I brainstormed this brilliant idea?)

My Answer:

Well, considering that my novel takes place in the 19th century, showers weren’t exactly prevalent. But, while in the tub, my M.C.’s thoughts tend to differ, according to her mood. If she’s happy and everything has gone her way, she daydreams and slips away from her somewhat overcomplicated life to a much easier, less explosive one where no one is apt to attempt murder. If things haven’t quite gone her way, she sits there and broods, trying to figure out where she went wrong, how she could have done it differently, or possibly how to get revenge on the person currently making her life miserable.

Your Answer:

?

   Let me know in the comments!

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Prompt, Please!

Ironically, starting a writing blog has been somewhat detrimental to actually getting any of the real writing done. I’ve been using it as yet another brilliant escape from the rigors of editing (Bad Zissa!), but not tonight. Tonight, I shall finish a chapter(or a half of one) if it kills me. Or worse, if it means I don’t have time to iron my church clothes tonight and am forced to actually get up early in the morning.

But, anyways, I’m here to talk(for a very short while)about writing prompts. I sort of have mixed feelings about them. There are rare occasions in which they’ve actually turned out a useful bit of prose or sparked a new idea to be worked into one of the novel outlines, but for the most part they just seem to be…busywork. Now, I realize that practice–however pointless it may seem–is good. I realize that. But I prefer to get my practice in by actually working on my designated project and therefore getting it down on file faster. Granted, this method can lead to a much longer revision period, but hey–practice makes perfect. Or as perfect as an art can be.

That doesn’t mean they’re useless, though. Since prompts tend to be somewhat on the insane side, they can bring out some really off-the-wall ideas. And those are the best kind. Here’s a site I found that has quite literally a ton of them. Now, go write something!

http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/

On a completely unrelated note,here’s the painting I mentioned in the cop-out post. Obviously, I still have Big Ben and some detailing to finish.

 

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My Top Five Writer’s Cop-Outs

Half the time, I don’t even like writing. There are points in a project–or sometimes when I’m just in a despicable mood–when the very last thing on earth I want to do is write. I hate it, then. So much work and stress and pressure to get it perfect…Blech. Not so much a reason for living as a reason for curling into a little ball of agony under the desk. Luckily, you don’t actually have to be writing to be doing something productive for your project. Though the actual productivity factor of some of my solutions is…debatable…sometimes you just need a break. And, hey, if it just happens to have a viable excuse to go with said break, then so much the better!

1. Reading

Yes, I’m aware this is covered in all the writing books. But it’s actually true (unlike most of the drivel I’ve sifted through). Outside of expanding your horizons and providing you with heaps of new research information, just reading a book can spark an inferno of new ideas. Even one that fell pitifully short of “mediocre” status. I presume everybody else has noticed how weird that is? When you’re just reading along and a word or a phrase or thought strikes you just right and pow! There’s a new idea. It’s the weirdest feeling…

2. Photography

Wander around a park, mall, or anywhere else typically inhabited by a decent cross-section of humanity. Trust me, you will see something photo-and-probably-novel worthy. And as an added bonus, if you happen to see someone who totally matches the description of the Jane Protagonist that’s sitting in your head, you get to test out your ninja skills while attempting to get a good stalker photo. Just think of all the lovely writing experience you’re getting (and hey, if you get arrested as a stalker, you can then use the description of what it’s like to be in jail…).

Also, if you happen to have a museum or historical site in the area and if it corresponds to your story’s time-period, take your camera there, too. Most of them allow non-flash photography, and it’s extraordinarily handy to be able to have photos of the details that you find interesting on hand when you need them.

3. Painting

Admittedly, I have’t played around with this one much since I was little, but I decided to pick it back again a few days ago. *sighs* It’s what happens when you walk into Michael’s around back-to-school time and see all the paints, easels, canvas, a billion sizes of brushes…It flung a cravin’ on me, as my Southern friends would say. So now I’ve got a partially finished painting of London sitting on my desk and art supplies everywhere. But I’ve found that it’s a nice, calming past-time that supposedly stimulates your creativity. Not to mention that it’s fun. And if you’re a pathetic artist, you can just burn your work afterwards, so you don’t have to show anyone. Paint and pyrotechnics…what’s more relaxing than that? 😉

4. Web-surfing

Okay, this one is sort of like sky-diving. It can either be really good or really, really, really bad, all depending on you. If you goof off in the right places, it can actually be beneficial. Again, there’s a lot of research material, you can find things to kick off new ideas, and you can post some of that brilliant art from numbers 2 and 3 (unless you burned it). Unless you get stuck on Facebook or Twitter, neither of which is typically a gold mine of help for writers. Though, if any of you have found something actually useful on there, let me know…Maybe then I can justify my wasted hours.

Just scrolling through the day’s news can expose you to a lot of interesting–and possibly usable–things. Or go to Memrise and actually learn those ten languages your hero is fluent in. Maybe learn a few new synonyms on Dictionary.com. There’s always something to do.

5. I can’t bear to say it…

…*mumble* reality tv. Not the stupid, melodramatic stuff! No, no–think Mythbusters. Think I (Almost) Got Away With It. Junkyard Wars. American Pickers (there’s a surprising amount of history in there between creepy old hoarders). Truth–even if it’s slightly scripted–is stranger than fiction, right? Particularly on the true-crime shows. *shudders* And, when it comes to Mythbusters, very little cures a case of the blahs (writing or otherwise) like a good slow-mo explosion.

And by the way, if anyone insinuates that by telling you to watch reality tv I meant Keeping Up With The Kardashians, I will find you and I will find an astoundingly slow, creative, and painful way to make you pay.

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I Know Those Neuroses…

One of the things I’ve noted while writing is that nearly all of my main characters have something of me in them. The main character of my current novel is essentially a better version of me who gets to run around having adventures and doing all the things I currently can’t due to parental restraint and the lack of traveling money and explosives. Also, she’ll dismember anyone who speaks to her before 9 a.m. Her brother is a shy, contemplative sort who just happens to love archaeology. Her boyfriend is an only child. And her best friend is an exaggerated version of mine. In all of my imaginary friends, there’s some fraction of me, no matter how small. Even the villain (and we won’t mention what that says about me).

Sneaking ourselves into the story is a nice way of exploring the things that we may never get to do in the drudgery of real life. I somehow doubt that I’m ever going to get to jump off a train or foil a bombing or meet an alien, but for my characters, that’s all in a day’s work. My chances of finding Mr. Perfect are somewhat slim, but no character of mine is allowed to meet their “The End” without at least meeting him (well…unless I’m in a feminist mood). They get to do all the things I dream about–globetrotting, adventuring, escaping terrible deaths, and never running out of actually funny one-liners. And I get the honor of coming along for the ride.

It seems like most writers tend to pull from their own lives when they’re building their characters and their plots. Think Dick Francis. Agatha Christie. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They all pulled from themselves and the things around them to build their characters and settings. That actually seems to work pretty well, considering that Doyle came up with the most famous fictional detective of all time and Agatha Christie was one of the most popular writers, period. Not to mention that it’s fun. You can name the poor unfortunate soul who was eaten by rabid sloths after the math teacher who tormented you in 4th grade and then claim coincidence. Pulling your own feeling and your own preferences and peeves and such and transferring them into your creations can be a fantastic way of humanizing them, if nothing else. Bringing in all the little details that make you human can do the same for Mr. Protagonist.

One thing I’ve really had to watch as far as projecting myself into my characters goes is preventing them from all becoming carbon copies of me. Considering that the world is already in peril dealing with one of me, a whole army of them (fictional or not) would not be a good thing. That’s where pulling in the bits and pieces of those around you comes in. The aforementioned brother, Flynn Churchill, is rather a mixed-up individual because of that very fact. He contains my love of history, a healthy dose of the shy, bumbling professor archetype, and a dash of Indiana Jones and my cousin just to make sure that he doesn’t turn out a complete doofus.

Besides making a patchwork character, another way of combatting multiple-you’s syndrome is to just have someone else invent the character. Granted, this isn’t always a good idea if you want to keep your work entirely to yourself until it’s done or if you can’t find anyone creative enough to help you design a character, but sometimes it works brilliantly. In my novel, one of my best friends invented the main secondary character (incredibly redundant, I know), and as a result of having such a different personality behind the creation of the character, it created a lovely opposites-attract, Sherlock and Watson friendship to build the story on.

And that’s really all I have today. Not the best post ever, I’m well-aware, but it’s been a tough day and I’m tired. Therefore all I have for closing remarks is this: the end.

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Book Review #6 – The River of Time Series

Um…wow. I don’t know what on earth spiked traffic yesterday(from…Canada?), but thank you to whoever is responsible! I appreciate it greatly.

For today, I’ve got one of my favorite YA series. River of Time by Lisa Tawn Bergren, a series introduced to me by one of my very best friends with the words that she didn’t think I’d like it because it was “mushy.” And considering that all she’d seen of my tastes in romance were in my novel when the heroine shoves the hero down the stairs because he tried to kiss her, those fears were probably founded. But in this case, she was actually wrong. I. Loved. It. The heroes were Hershey sweet and could inspire a whole lot of knight-in-shining armor fantasies, but I still adored them. Also, there were a lots of swords and arrows and fights in general, so that kept my somewhat violent(notice the “sanity optional” part of the title) self happy. Oh, and there was time-travel, which is always a bonus for a confirmed Whovian. All in all, a very nice series.

Spoilers!

The series begins with Gabriella Betarrini, the daughter of an archaeologist specializing in Etruscan artifacts, stuck in every teenage girl’s dream destination: Italy. The only problem is that she doesn’t want to be there. After all, being there every summer kinda saps all the wonder out of the trip. However, she isn’t bored for long. Upon sneaking into one of the tombs at their mother’s dig site, Gabi and slightly younger sister Lia find themselves yanked back in time to Medieval Toscana. And so begins an epic series that explores how exactly a pair of modern girls ( and BIGGER SPOILERS eventually the rest of the family) adjust to the challenges and brutality of a world of hot Italian knights and warring castellos.

See what I mean about hot Italian knights?

Okay, as far as characters go, they were very good. The only ones I had any difficulty connecting with were Marcello and, in the later novellas, Lord Greco. With Marcello, he’s…essentially Prince Charming with an Italian accent. And while that’s still incredibly attractive, I found Luca (at left) a bit easier to connect with. And with Greco, his pity parties–while justified and realistic–just started to irk me. But all three had their endearing moments and I doubt anyone in the world could actually dislike them. Honestly, this series has sort of swayed my opinion of Italian men. The afore-mentioned best friend and I have an ongoing argument over whether Italian men or British men are better (despite the fact that neither of us knows one of either), and Luca, Marcello, and Greco make it kinda hard to keep arguing…

With Gabi and Lia, Bergren did an amazing job getting into the teenage mind. Both girls were fully developed, expertly drawn characters that did a great job of pulling you right into the page along with them. Particularly in the later books as it really began to sink in that they were really going to have to stay in that time period and as they began to actually think about the things they were going to have to deal with as women in Medieval Italy. One thing in particular that I loved were Lia’s issues with archery in Tributary; I can’t imagine what it would be like to know that you’d already taken quite a few lives–even with a reason–and that you would probably have to end more in the future. For some reason (I haven’t shot anybody! I promise!), that really made me feel for her and helped humanize the character.

The plots of the three novels and two novellas were also very well-done. The voice and tone served to draw you in from page one and the engaging story kept you there.  Though I will admit, the two later novellas are a bit weaker plot-wise, they concentrate more on character development and that makes it okay. The balance of action and romance is pretty even and helps keep the series interesting for those of us without an overlarge literary sweet tooth. Honestly, the only beef I have with the premise of the story is the time-travel aspect. As a sci-fi buff, I’m used to the tech being explained, and–unless I missed it somehow–the reason why an Etruscan tomb can mysteriously transport a pair of modern girls into the past is never explained. I realize it really isn’t the point, and honestly, it doesn’t really detract from the story since you’re kind of distracted after Marcello and Luca arrive, but still…I WANT TO KNOW!!!

All in all, though, it was an excellent series, and I really, really, really, really hope Lisa gets to write more of it. Also, I’m jealous of her romance writing skills. 🙂

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Top-Secret Research: My Top 5 Research Books

One of my favorite parts of writing is the research. It gives me a lovely little excuse for looking into the most bizarre topics on earth. How to stop a runaway camel? Read up on that. How to conduct a seance? That, too. How to disarm a mugger and trounce him using nothing but your bare hands? Been there, read that chapter, haven’t yet had a chance to try it out, thank the Lord.

If you’ll notice, there one key word in the above questions. Read. The number one raygun (What? I like sci-fi.) in the writer’s arsenal. Even with Google and Yahoo! Ask, I think books still win hands-down for pure quality. Granted, you can find things faster if you use online search engines, but you’ve got no guarantee that it’s true. Of course, it can be the same with printed material, but the chance is lower. Anywhoozle, the main thing I like about books as research tools is that they’re so much more comprehensive. Any idiot can put together a website or write a blog (ahem) about a topic, listing all the common facts, but someone who’s dedicated enough to write a book about it? It’s a pretty safe bet that they’re going to have info that no blogger knows. You can get all the minuscule little details and obscure facts known only to experts in whatever field you’re looking into. Assuming the book is good, anyway. And that brings me to the list. Here are my favorite research books. Salud!

1. The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook

We’ve all been there. A new character walks across the page and he needs a name, but your mind is totally blank. Not only that, but this character is special. He’s Irish, therefore he has to have an ethnically accurate name, despite the fact that you know no Irish names outside of Patrick, Sean, and Colleen. What do you do? Find yourself a Sourcebook. I found it totally by accident at the local library and fell in love with it. Not only is it comprehensive (Do not, under any circumstances, drop it. You may turn your house into a crater.), but it’s so organized. It has a section for common first and last names of various countries, lists of the most common names from various eras, and a full section of naming tips from well-known authors.

2. Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected

I hate editing. It irks me to the very marrow, but I’m still stuck doing it. And this lengthily titled book has a lot of tips for the editorially impaired. Since it’s written by a real-live editor, the title is pretty accurate: it points out common issues and how to fix them. It delves into nearly every possible facet of the novel, from character development to plot to the editor’s pet peeves. In my case, at least, it helped pinpoint a few things that weren’t working and detracted from the story. Hopefully, it can help in yours, too.

3. The Action Hero’s Handbook

*grins* This was a fun read. While I wouldn’t recommend using this as the definitive guide to handling yourself in tense situations, it has a nice plausibility to it, and that’s pretty well all you need for a novel. ‘Cause, really, how many fans are there who have actually caught a Great White and care enough to send a nasty complaint letter if you didn’t do it right in your book? In Handbook, the authors go through all the typical action hero skills. Handling a hostage situation, disarming thugs, picking your way out of handcuffs…you know the stuff. It has a wide range of high-flying topics, so anything you adventure writers need is likely to be there.

4. The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel

This one is similar to #3, but it’s topics are less for the suave, macho chap and more for the everyperson who finds themselves in trouble abroad. Again, I wouldn’t recommend this as a real-life guidebook, but it all sounds good. It lists all the typical worries for paranoid travelers, and therefore all the wonderful, dastardly things that you can throw at your vagabond characters–as well as the brilliant solutions to help them escape. Everything from halting a runaway camel to jumping from a moving train to thwarting a pickpocket is covered, as well as everything in between. Perfect for the imaginary adventurer (e.g. me)!

5. Rules, Britannia

 

This one is obviously a bit more specialized, but it’s a favorite for me, since my main character is British and I am not. It’s a nice insight into the differences between Britons and Americans, as well as the customs, slang, and psychology of our pals across the pond. It’s also a favorite because I’m a huge fan of anything remotely British, but I digress. If you’re writing about another culture, there are typically tons of books written by either a native or a transplant who’s spent a great deal of time in your country of interest. Just Google it.

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In Which the Author Muses Upon a Curious Phenomenon

Since I’ve revealed my writing hobby, and even more since I hopped on the blogging wagon, one thing has popped out at me. There are copious amounts of teen writers these days. About 95% of the blogs I’ve subscribed to since starting the blog a month(or thereabouts) ago are those of teen writers. Come to think of it, most of the stuff that comes up in the writing section in the WordPress Reader is posted by teens. A goodly percentage of the teens I come into contact with at the homeschool association at least dabble with words. It’s astounding just how many adolescents seem to favor it over all the stereotypical past times.

Yet, for some reason, whenever you’re forced into telling a supposed adult you write, you get the same “How sweet! Maybe you’ll be James Patterson someday.” response. And, after looking at the experiences of a lot of the young authors on the blogs I found, it isn’t just something that happens to me. After Paolini and all the rest, we still get this? *sigh* Such is life, apparently.

It seems rather hypocritical, what with us being in the age of open-mindedness, tolerance, and belief in the impossible, but it appears to be rather ingrained in the mature mind that anyone under the age of “old” can’t write worth a ballpoint pen. It’s noble of us to try, and might even be the foundation of a great career, but the possibility of any of us turning out something worth actually publishing is absolutely unthinkable. A tad maddening, isn’t it?

Not that they’re always wrong. I’ve read some amazing work from teen authors. And I’ve read some that should be ripped into itsy-bitsy pieces, run through a shredder, burnt to cinders, then scattered on different continents to shield humanity from the horror of it. Worse still, some of it was mine.

The thing is, that writing has evolved a bit. As I’ve gotten older (and read a lot more writing articles), I’ve had a chance to polish up my style, though it can still be pretty rough. I’ve gotten better with each progressive year of writing, and with each page I write, I gain more experience. It’s a learning process like any other, and if anything, I think teen writers have a bit of an advantage over their elder counterparts. With admittedly more malleable minds (that really wasn’t on purpose) and a head-start on late in life writers, we should be sitting pretty.

And now, a role-reversal…

We aren’t, and that’s partly our fault. Even if people tend to have difficulty taking us seriously, that shouldn’t give us license to either turn all of our work into an angst-fest about our unappreciated martyrdom or sit on our hands and never do anything with the non-angst work we do complete. Young writers (*cough* myself included *cough*) tend to be so intimidated by the monstrous, savage world of publishing and editors and agents that we choose to wait until adulthood to do anything whatsoever with the novels and stories we’ve slaved over. There plenty of bold ones, who manage to sneak a few articles and short stories past the enemy lines, but novels are almost unheard of. And, considering the number of novels written, that should not be.

If you have something brilliant, you shouldn’t settle for anything less. Honestly, now (when we don’t actually have to write for food and housing and other such mundane things) seems like the best time to take chances with our writing. You’ve got nothing to lose, outside of a little pride if (when) you’re rejected. And who knows? If you’re good, you just might hit the jackpot.

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Book Review #5 – The Curse of the Wendigo

I’m going to try to make it a habit to do positive reviews for the most part. However, tonight I don’t really have any other YA to discuss. Since I read a lot of other things outside of YA, my field is somewhat limited. Which is why I’m reduced to reviewing this…thing. Before I start, a disclaimer…I do not like the horror genre. Sure, I read Bruce Coville when I was nine, but I somehow doubt that counts. Why was I even reading the book if I don’t like the genre you ask? Because I thought it was steampunk instead of gothic horror. And, oh, the pain when I discovered it wasn’t…*sobs*

The first beef I have with Wendigo is the level of goriness. I didn’t sleep for the next two nights after I read the confounded book! Two nights! And I’ve been in a cadaver lab twice, done extra credit dissections in school, and been in Youth Group with a nurse fond of sharing work stories. That should tell you something about the level of detail Rick Yancey puts into his work. He has a disconcerting way of creating word pictures in your mind that you just can’t unsee, regardless of how much you want to.

Secondly, I got the impression that Yancey is one of those authors that loves to read his own words, and therefore uses a lot of them. Even when they don’t need to be there. Beyond the description (*shudders*), there was a vast amount of exposition that didn’t appear to have a point other than the author trying to share every single facet of his characters. And when I’m wondering where exactly the cannibalistic monster is going to eat someone again, I don’t care much about Professor Whatshisface’s loneliness or his relationship with his assistant.

I will admit that it was a good plot that held the reader’s attention outside of the exposition chapters. The suspense was palpable and very good throughout the book. Also, the setting was impeccable as far as capturing the atmosphere of the late 19th century and the attitudes of an era caught between old superstitions (which just might be true) and encroaching science (which isn’t very helpful).

 

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