Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gossip Time...The Gathering

After reading Kelley Armstrong's the Darkest Powers series and absolutely loving it, I was quick to snag this audio book off the shelves. The Gathering is the first book of a new series for Ms. Armstrong and boy is it a page turner.

The main character, fifteen-soon-to-be-sixteen year old Maya is awesome. She's outdoorsy, snarky, smart, and brave. After a recent personal tragedy, Maya is just trying to get back into the swing of things at her small home town of Salmon Creek which has less than two hundred people living on it. Her best friend, Daniel, is not only hot and coveted by all the girls at school, but he's just a good guy. He's always got Maya's back.

I want to say more about the plot, but I'm afraid of giving anything away. Not only is this book character driven, but there's a couple of mysteries woven in, a ton of suspense, along with a bit of supernatural and paranormal stuff. I think Amazon does a better job of describing what the book is about:

Strange things are happening in Maya's tiny Vancouver Island town. First, her friend Serena, the captain of the swim team, drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Then, one year later, mountain lions are spotted rather frequently around Maya's home—and her reactions to them are somewhat . . . unexpected. Her best friend, Daniel, has also been experiencing unexplainable premonitions about certain people and situations.
It doesn't help that the new bad boy in town, Rafe, has a dangerous secret, and he's interested in one special part of Maya's anatomy—her paw-print birthmark.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Plants and Zombies Kept Me From Writing

So I'm a bit behind on the whole video gaming thing. I stopped playing basically when the controllers got too complicated. Four different buttons, two triggers, two different type of joysticks, and the responsibility of controlling my view point. Too much. I grew up in the age of Nintendo 64 and Super Mario Bros. 2-D fun.
I know I'm totally dating myself here.

Usually, I get a majority of my writing done on the weekends. But brother's iPad and animated plants and zombies had a different plan in store for me.

Look at all the pretty colors and the array of talented plants. I wish I had a plant that shot peas at people who stepped uninvited on my lawn. Don't you be steppin' on my lawn after Scott's Lawn Care Service fertilizes. I'd also like a giant purple plant that ate zombies. I mean, everyone needs one of those, especially with the talk of the impending zombie apocalypse. But, make sure you have at least a couple because they can only eat one zombie at a time. There's even a zombie on a Zamboni. He's making ice so the zombies can skate their way to eating my brains out.

So in the end, yeah, I may not have made a lot (ok, any) head way with my manuscript, but I did beat the entire game. And you know what's at the end?? A zombie music video!! The lead singer is a sunflower and I'm not going to lie, the lyrics, There's a zombie on your lawn, were going through my head for a couple of days.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gossip Time...White Cat

Natalie Whipple mentioned on her blog that White Cat by Holly Black was a must read. So when I found the audio book at my local library I snatched it up. She wasn't kidding...this book is good.

Seventeen year old Cassel Sharp is the only non-worker in a family of workers. Workers are people who excel at manipulating emotions, killing, modifying memories, affecting people's dreams, etc...

When Cassel wakes up to find himself teetering on the roof of his dormitory, it ignites a chain of events that makes Cassel Sharp doubt his family, his memories, even himself.

The narrator of the audio book is Jessie Eisenberg, you may have seen him star in movies such as Zombieland or The Social Network. He does an excellent job and I can't imagine any other voice playing Cassel Sharp.

The strengths of Holly Black's writing come most definitely in the voice but also in the art of teasing out a story and building suspense and doubt. She has a pretty cool website and blog. Check them out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Harry Potter!!

I've heard many people say on the web and on television that this movie marks the end of an era.

I started reading the Harry Potter books in the spring of 2001 and I've been hooked ever since. I remember how I breezed through books one through four and then counted the days until Order of the Phoenix came out. I remember I was in graduate school when the fifth book came out and I got some weird looks carrying around that thick tome wherever I went, reading it in between classes and sometimes during lectures. But, I didn't care. I had to know what was going on with Harry and the gang.

Since 2001 I've been to midnight book release events with friends, eagerly anticipated the movies release in theaters and then on DVD. It's been so much fun. It's bittersweet that the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on July 15th kind of means there will be nothing to look forward to as far as the wizarding world is concerned except for my annual Harry Potter-audio-book-a-thon where I listen to books one through seven in the car.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Congratulations Natalie Whipple!!

I'm sure if you're any part of the  blog-o-sphere, you know who Natalie Whipple is. And if you don't, come on, where have you been?
I've been reading Natalie's blog on almost a daily basis since, gosh, I don't know, around 2009. She is not only a talented writer but also a fantastic artist. Natalie has written some stellar posts about writing, revising, the emotional roller coaster that is the publishing world, and random things as well. You can tell from her blog that she is a hard working writer with a good heart.
That's why I was so incredibly happy for her when she posted this two days ago:

Natalie Whipple’s debut novel TRANSPARENT, pitched as X-Men meets The Godfather, in which an invisible girl has to stop her dad—an infamous crime lord—from ruining her life, to Erica Sussman at HarperTeen, in a two-book deal, by Anna Webman at Curtis Brown.

She shares her journey here and here. Enjoy and be inspired!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How Writing is Like a Water Slide

Since I'm still not able to ice skate, I decided that I'm going to become a swimmer. Two weeks ago I signed up for swimming lessons at the local YMCA. Granted, I know how to swim, but I didn't know how to do the different strokes or how one goes about swimming laps.

My instructor was the sweetest a girl, a college student, and she taught me freestyle, back stroke, and breast stroke. I tried learning the butterfly, but the dolphin kick motion of the legs aggravated my knee. On the last day of lessons, my instructor made a joke and asked if I wanted my ribbon for completing the course. I laughed and said that I didn't need a ribbon, but was wondering if I could go down the water slide. Hey, the other kids got to, why can't I?

And when she said I could go down that slide, it was like a victory moment. I had been eying that long blue slide for two weeks, thinking about how unfair it was that adult's didn't get to go down it. So at the end of the lesson, my instructor granted me permission to go down the slide. But, I insisted that she join me.

And she did.

We screamed like little girls as our bodies were shot like bullets down the slippery plastic, our bodies bumping back and forth against the sides. The other instructors saw how much fun we were having, so they joined in too. The parents sitting in the beach chairs laughed at us, joining in the fun. It was such a happy time.

And of course as I floated there, wading in the water, I couldn't help but think how this whole swimming experience was like writing. In the beginning, I knew how to swim, just like I knew how to write sentences. But, with time, patience, and training, my ability to swim and be efficient at it improved, just as my writing has over the years. And to me, that slide was like landing an agent. I don't have an agent, but I can imagine that once you sign, you're elated, but then comes the work, and sometimes it might hurt, just as my elbow hurt when it rammed against the side wall of the slide.

Metaphors for writing are all around us, aren't they? What have you experienced lately that reminded you of a writer's journey?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gossip Time...The Fallen Series

This past month I've been listening to Lauren Kate's Fallen, Torment, and Passion on audiobook in the car and I've been enamored.

In the first book, Fallen, we meet seventeen-year-old Luce, a new student at the reform school, Sword and Cross. But, Lucinda isn't your typical reform student. She's actually a good girl, haunted by shadows, and the death of the first boy she ever kissed. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say there's eternal love, kissing, angels, demons, and in the second book, Torment, Nephilim.

The one thing I've really enjoyed about reading this series is how Lauren Kate is the master of slowly releasing information, always leaving the reader in suspense. And she only gets better at it in the second and third book.
My only, teeny, tiny beef with the series is I can't figure out why the cover picture depicts a girl with long black hair because in the first book it is repeatedly mentioned how Luce's Mom had to cut Luce's hair off after the fire. But, maybe the girl on the cover isn't Luce? Maybe it's someone else? I guess I won't figure out the meaning behind it until I finish the whole series.

If you're looking for a good series to get wrapped up in, I definitely recommend Lauren Kate's Fallen Novels.