28.12.10

I miss you!

I am writing this post using my phone. My computer broke a long time ago, which is why I haven't been posting as often as I should.

But I miss you guys so much!
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5
21.11.10

Teaser...Sunday?

I feel like I'm neglecting my blog...and it feels like it's going to be a while until I can write an actual blog post.

To make up for my absence, here's a teaser from something I wrote a week or so ago. It's a project that I hope to continue after my life settles down.

I'll talk about it more someday, but for now...enjoy.

I was lying in a bed of roses when my aunt found me. It took a moment for my eyes to finally unglue themselves, but when I finally got a chance to take in my surroundings I silently rejoiced, glad that I didn't wake up near a dumpster or worse, a storefront. Even so, I'd rather deal with a complete stranger, than my aunt whose glare sent shivers down my aching spine.
"Get up," she growled. "You're ruining my garden."
"I'm..." I clenched my teeth to keep from screaming, as I tried to sit up. This wasn't the first time this has happened, but it was the first time I woke up in excruciating pain. It felt like I got hit by a car or something.
"People are going to be getting up soon. Do you want them to see you like this?" I looked down at myself. Dirt was caked on my skin, along with dried blood and some sort of thick, white gunk. Then there was the fact that I was naked.
My cheeks flushed.
There was a boy who lived next door who always took out the garbage at this time of day. I should know because I watch him through the slits in my blinds every morning wishing I knew his name, wishing that he knew mine.
But right now, he doesn't even know that I exist. I'm just a girl in a room on the third floor.
A part of me wants to pass out from the pain that spiderwebs through my body, as I get to my feet. I can hear my bones rattling, my blood sizzling, the creature inside of me settling. It's growls are no more, and the soft tune that usually plays before I black out, is no more. Now, it's just me and my aunt, who is wrapping a white sheet around my shivering body.
"Next time try to wake up on the porch or better yet in the backyard, where no one can see you."
"Okay." I can't begin to count how many times I have to tell my aunt that I can't control where I wake up at. I can't even control how often I black out or for how long.
It just happens.
My legs wobble, my toes sink into the soil, the skin on the bottom of my feet burns as we move across the pavement, up the porch steps, and into the house.
Safe.
Hidden from the world.
"Thanks," I said, turning toward my aunt who is looking at me with her tawny gray eyes, trying to be her usually stern self, but failing miserably. There is something strange glittering in her eyes, something that can only be called fear or better yet, worry.
My aunt is worried about me.
She has been so since I was dropped on her doorstep.
Homeless, parentless, alive.
"Yeah, sure." Her voice shakes, it quivers. She's scared. I know it. She knows but she won't admit it. "Look, don't just stand there. Go take a shower or something. You smell."
My nostrils flared. I couldn't really figure out the scent, but it did smell really bad, like I was playing in the sewer or something.
I wouldn't be surprised.
Pulling the sheet tighter around my body, I ambled towards the staircase, feeling every step I took, and every breath that left my body.
I would give anything to be a normal girl, one who had friends, one who had a boyfriend that looked just like the boy next door, one who didn't black out only to wake up in strange places.
Normal.
17.11.10

RTW: Crazy, crazy, crazy


Road Trip Wednesday is a meme hosted by the lovely ladies over at YA Highway. Every Wednesday they post a question that can be answered on everyone's respective blogs.



This week's topic:

"The winds in Washokey make people go crazy."

This is the first sentence of the amazing Kirsten Hubbard's debut novel LIKE MANDARIN which will finally hit the shelves next year. *squee*

If you are dying to figure out why the winds in Washokey make people go crazy, then enter YA HIGHWAY's contest for your chance to win your very own copy of LIKE MANDARIN.

Now it's your turn, write about a time you did something crazy, something that blew your mind, and changed your life forever.

I have never done any life changing, crazy things in my life. Mainly because I'm not a risk-taker.


Nor, am I a person who seeks out adventure.

I don't know why that is, because my mom is always telling me that when she was my age, she used to climb trees, and go running through her backyard chasing lightning bugs and catching them in jars, so that she could watch their lights flicker on and off, on and off, until they went out.

But me, I'm scared of anything.

So, the list of all of the crazy things I've done might not actually be crazy, but they are the closest I have come to trying to it.

1. When I graduated from middle school, I got it into my head that I would audition for a performing arts school for writing - of course. To make a long story short, I didn't end up getting in, but the reason why it's possibly one of the craziest things I have done is because, like I said, I don't take risk. So when I decided to audition for this school, I tried my best to stay optimistic, I tried telling myself that even if I didn't get in it didn't necessarily mean that I wasn't a good writer, it just meant that the school wasn't the right choice for me.

2. I went camping last summer, which is really a shock even to myself because I am not an outdoors person. Well, I would be if bugs didn't like biting me up every time I walk out the door. It was really fun and I met some really nice people who I wouldn't have never met if I didn't take the risk, push aside my own personal fears, and go.

3. NaNoWriMo should be on the top of my list. When I first participated, I didn't know what I was in for, but I will seriously never forget the endless nights, the waking up to go to school tired as hell, the insecurities about my writing, the pain of wanting to edit but not being able to. It was torture. PURE torture. I was going to do it this year, got about 5K in, and realized that now is definitely not a good time for me to get caught up in writing.


So...yeah those might not be crazy, but I still got some time. Maybe I'll go hiking or get on a rollercoaster for the first time...hehe we'll see.
11.11.10

Jane Eyre!

Okay, there has already been so many film adaptations of Jane Eyre. My favorite is the 2006 version with Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. If you haven't seen that one, then please find a way to watch it because it's brilliant.

But anyways, there is a new Jane Eyre film coming out, and it's set to be released in the U.S. March 11th. *squeals*

If you don't know this already, Jane Eyre is my favorite novel of all time. A friend of my grandmother gave it to me when I turned eleven, and I guess you can say Jane Eyre was the book that got me to start writing.

I had always wanted to write a contemporary YA version of Jane, and I still do, but if you don't know already one just recently came out.

It's called Jane by April Lindner.

There is giveaway over at Angieville who is giving not one but two copies of the book!

The contest ends November 15th, which is in four days so make sure you enter if you want a chance to read Jane: http://angieville.blogspot.com/2010/11/jane-blog-tour-giveaway.html

Without farther ado, here's the trailer for the upcoming Jane Eyre movie.

7.11.10

Not giving up...

I am WAY behind in NaNo.

So much so that I every time I log onto my account and look at the wordcounts of all my buddies, I want to cry.

I think the only reasons I'm not doing well are:

1.) I'm super busy. Okay, I know everyone uses this excuse. But really, it's true. I have to work on my graduation project, while doing homework for other classes. Also, since I'm ambassador of my school, I spend most of my time at meetings that last for three hours. On top of that, I am apart of this after school program and this human rights and racial equality program that I'm going to later on today or in two hours.

2.) I don't know my main character. Her personality is always changing and when I started over, I found that she is way different than what I remembered. She has this I-don't-give-a-fuck attitude, and I don't even know where that came from.

3.) This is a rewrite. While I know NaNo is all about sucky first drafts. This is the second draft of my novel, and I don't want it to be too sucky or else I'll just end up back in square one.

4.) I didn't outline. But that's my own fault. I'm lazy. I don't know where to begin when it comes to outlining. I do a lot of thinking about the plot, characters etc. in my head, but when it comes to writing all of it down...no.

So there you have it. Those are the reasons why I'm sucktastic this month. I just want to get my rewrite underway so that I can edit, and (hopefully) send it off to betas in March or earlier than that if I'm lucky.

Plus, I want to query during the summer, so I have a lot to do if I want to make anything happen.

I have Thursday off from school, so I'll hopefully get to do a little more writing.

Hopefully.

Here's another snippet from FAR FROM HERE:

Good girls ask their parents if they can go out. I don't have any parents and Margaret doesn't really give two shits about me, so hopping into a car with a boy on a school night without asking permission doesn't really make me a bad girl.

It just makes me a girl who stopped giving a fuck a long time ago.

"You ready, babe?" Cord asked, as I pulled on my seat belt, his eyes watching my every move. Not in a checking-me-out sort of way, but in a is-there-something-you're-not-telling me sort-of-way that I hated, especially when it was coming from him of all people.

"Yeah, sure," I breathed, meeting his gaze.

"Is there..." he started, and I held up my hand, catching his words, imprisoning them between my fingers.

"I'm fine." This wasn't the truth, but I have gotten so good at telling lies that it didn't really matter anymore.

"Okay," Cord said, releasing me from his icy stare. The car grew silent, as we both focused our attention on the road before us.

2.11.10

Teaser Tuesday

It's been a long time since I've did one of these.

So as I mentioned before, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo. This will be my third year, and hopefully my third year winning.

I got a late start because just like last year, I was unprepared, and I kept switching projects.

To make a long story short, instead of the post-apocalyptic romance, I'm working on the rewrite of my YA Contemp novel. So much for taking risks, huh?

I don't have a lot done, but here's the beginning.

"Let's do it," Cord said, pulling off his shirt. His tan muscles gleamed in the pale moonlight, and the cool summer breeze that rose up from the river made each strand of his hair dance in front of his faraway eyes.

Liv tugged at the bottom of my shirt.

"Come on, Kenny," she breathed, her voice barely a whisper.

I shook my head. Getting naked in front of a crowd of people who I barely knew was definitely not my thing. It wasn't Liv's either. But whenever she got drunk, which was every time she threw a party, she turned into a completely different person.
30.10.10

NaNo is almost here!

And I know what my project is going to be.

It's called SUPERNOVA and it's a young adult post-apocalyptic romance.

NaNo is all about taking a risk. Since this is my third year doing it, I think it's time I step out of my safe-zone, and do something that I haven't done before.

So what if I don't win. I just want a novel I can be proud of, one I can send off to betas with a smile on my face.

I wasn't sure about the genre. I'm calling it post-apocalyptic only because 1.) it sounds nice and 2.) it's the end of the world.

Mostly all of the stories I write contain some type of romance - preferably a love triangle.

In this project my main character, Haven, falls in love with two brothers who are undeniably sexy and I can not wait to write about them.

Now...it's time to put together a play list, outline, and make character profiles.

Then I have homework that I should have started weeks ago. *ahem*
15.10.10

Introducing: THE NEAR WITCH


The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger—a boy who seems to fade like smoke—appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know—about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget





And if you want to go ahead and pre-order your own copy of The Near Witch you can!

It's on Amazon!

9.10.10

I'M GOING TO CHICAGO!


Okay, I'll admit, it's more of an "educational" trip than a vacation, but still...it's CHICAGO.

I don't know much about the city, but I'm having fun looking at all the pictures of the skyline and the buildings and I think the one I chose to use in this post is extremely gorgeous.

*squeals*

I'm not looking forward to the bus ride down there, but I think once I actually get to the city, once I breathe in the windy air, and look at all the skyscrapers, and take in all the people, I'll explode.

I am only going to be there for two days, which in my opinion, is not enough time to explore. But hopefully, I'll get to take some cool pictures, and maybe a get a spark of inspiration from the change of scenery because I am desperately in need of a change of scenery.

I don't know if anyone got a chance to read my rant about school I posted last month, but just to sum everything up, my school is closing next year.

My senior year.

I can't even begin to explain how much it hurts to have to graduate from another school, but basically the school that the kids from my school have to go to is going to be a single gender school.

It's a big building so they're putting two separate schools in there. One is going to be an all girl's school, the other is going to be an all boy's school.

I am an ambassador for my school, along with sixteen other girls, which means we get to travel to different cities Chicago being the first, with single gender schools.

The school we plan on visiting is the Young Women's Leadership Charter School.

I'm not really for all-girl schools because for one, some teenage girls are annoying, and having guys around helps balance out the annoying, snobby girl ratio. *ahem* I know since I'm a girl I should be for an all-girl school, but truthfully I just like boys too much, and spending the whole day with girls would kill me. You hear me. KILL ME.

Anyways, that's the reason why I'm going.

But we do get ONE DAY to look around the city.

Not only that, but once we get back home, we don't have to go to school if we don't want to. We get passes to stay home, and... OMG this is going to be awesome.

SO SO AWESOME.

Chicago, here I come.
6.10.10

RTW: My little paradise...

Road Trip Wednesday is a meme that was started by the lovely ladies over at YA HIGHWAY. Every Wednesday they present a question, and invite bloggers to answer this question on their respective blogs.
Today's Topic

You're packing for a month on a deserted island. What, as a reader and writer, must be in your backpack?



I have been camping in the middle of nowhere. I have been to a "beach" in Florida. I'm really a city girl, but if by chance I should ever get to visit a deserted island for a month.

I would bring:
  • A notebook (or two, or three, or four)
  • My iPod
  • Some books (If I can't fit all of the ones I want to take with me in my bookbag, then I'll just carry them in my arms. I don't mind.)
  • Food to last me a month
  • Water
  • A portable tent
  • A blanket (just in case there's a breeze)
  • Really awesome sunglasses
  • A pack of sparkly pink pens with the feathers on the top.
  • A camera so I can take pictures of anything amazing I see. I mean, you never know. Hot mermen could really exist.

So, yeah, as a writer, a deserted island would be my ideal getaway. I like peace and quiet when I write. Correction - the only thing I like to hear when I'm writing is my music. If someone is talking to me, or standing over me, I can't really concentrate.

Last but not least, I would take all of my writer-buddies over at AW. I know they can't all fit in my bookbag, but...there's no harm in trying right?
27.9.10

Teaser Tuesday

As of now, this is the beginning of my novel Lost & Found.

I could taste the night on my tongue. The acrid smoke, as fire licked at pieces of wood. The bittersweet scent of beer, as it was passed from mouth to mouth.
This was the usual flavor of Olivia Chang's parties.
She only threw them when her parents weren't around, and lately they have been going on a lot of business trips, so once their cars pull out of the driveway, she dials a few numbers, and in less than an hour, music, booze, and bonfires fill her backyard along with a lot of people from school whose names I don't even really know or care to know.
The dock is the only place where people aren't smoking, drinking, dancing, doing whatever, so I step off of the porch, and make my way over to the lonely wooden slab.
Before all of the drinking and the partying, Liv's place used to be my getaway. Out here, surrounded by the mountains and the open sky, I felt like I was in another world, one that was so much more beautiful, so much unlike my own.
There weren't any plates being launched at my head, no drunken insults, no beer bottles, no cigarette butts, no pervy men who liked to stare at my chest. It was just me and Liv and sometimes Cord, who over the past three years, has traded in his bifocal glasses for contacts and a sex-drive bigger than Texas.
It's colder near the lake. I pull my sweater closed, and stand there looking out into the sky, at the white-gold peaks of the mountain range. They look close enough for me to touch, but you could walk for miles and miles and still not reach them.
Who knew a small town could feel so big?
The legs of the dock wobble, as I sit down, and dangle my legs over the side. I can feel the water licking at my toes. It's cold and wet and for a moment, I wish that it would pull me under, let me sink down to the bottom where kisses were stolen, and childhood trinkets were lost.
What do you think?
18.9.10

Why I think adults should just shut the BLEEP up...


I read a book where the main character had sex with a guy she really really liked, and because this main character had sex, I'm going to go have sex with the guy I really really like.

The word "fuck" was mentioned in said book like a gagillion times, so now I use it, and I even know what it means because of this book.

To tell you the truth, I shouldn't know about these types of things because I'm only sixteen and the only things I should be reading are school books and Bibles.

Young Adult novels, especially ones that drop the f-bomb should be censored and sex should be something so taboo that no one should talk about it, no one should HAVE it, even though we all are the products of SEX.

Yes, that three letter word is the one word one man has a serious problem with.

Before I link you to one of the most absurd articles I have read in a long time, let me tell you a little something about the world.

IT'S NOT THE SAME AS IT WAS YEARS AND YEARS AGO.

Teens have evolved, and even though some of us do drugs, disobey our parents, and have unprotected sex, at least we aren't as CLUELESS as the teenagers back then.

I hate how adults want to criticize today's youth, when they forget where these sex-crazed, devils came from. YES, they came from YOU.

Don't try to point the finger at Young Adult authors just because they are writing about LIFE and what really goes on because YOU as adults are afraid of letting your children know about what's going on around them.

Just because I read a book about a girl having sex with a guy doesn't mean I'm going to go out and do it myself because I know about sex, and I know about all of the dangers of having unprotected sex.

I KNOW.

Parents, teachers, all of you adults out there, let me tell it to you straight.

We aren't going to be teenagers forever.

You're not going to be able to dictate what we know and what we don't know forever.

Now, I wouldn't condone letting a seven year old watch The Clockwork Orange, but know that one day that seven year old is going to watch it (because I watched it when I was fourteen) whether you like it or not.

You can stop them from watching TV, but then when they go to school, they're going to learn about sex and rape and abuse and pick up a few curse words, if not from what they read, then from what the other kids say, because not all parents are uptight and overprotective like you are.

Now, if you're reading this, you might ask what started this whole rant.

I follow Sarah Ockler on twitter, and I happened across her tweet where she posted a link to this absurd article I was talking about: Scroggins: Filthy books demeaning to Republic education

"For example, my review of the eighth-grade sex education curriculum revealed that children at the middle school are being introduced to concepts such as homosexuality, oral sex, anal sex and specific instructions on how to use a condom and have sex. Sex education curriculum in the fourth grade includes topics on reproduction. Is this what parents and taxpayers in this community want their children exposed to in school?"

Why not have kids exposed to sex in a learning environment?

I had Sex Education when I was in eighth grade, when I was in tenth grade, and I'm taking another Sex Ed class now in my junior year of high school.

Just because I know about sex and condoms doesn't mean I'm going out and having sex. But it's nice to know that when I do have sex for the first time I know a little more than my mom told me about, which isn't a bad thing.

Then this man had the nerve, the audacity, to mention Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I read that book in ninth grade. It was apart of the curriculum in English, and I'll admit that at first I didn't like it, because who likes assigned reading? But later on in the year, I read it on my own, and I began to like the book, and feel for the main character who was RAPED.

Rape happens in today's world, unfortunately. It's not going STOP happening just because Speak and other books like it are banned from English classes or school libraries.

Many people could relate to Anderson's novel, and that's one of the things I love about Young Adult novels. People, no matter who they are, can relate to them.

"The cheer squad also gets their group-rate abortions at prom time. As the main character in the book is alone with a boy who is touching her female parts..."

OH FOR THE LOVE OF PETE.

FEMALE PARTS?

WTF?

It's called a "vagina". Seriously, I should know, I actually have one and if this guy can't even use the word "vagina" then he seriously has problems.

HUGE problems.

Maybe he never had a girlfriend or maybe he never had sex. He's probably just some lonely lonely man who is afraid of girls and their "female parts".

PUH-LEASE.

"In this book, drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex."

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THEM USING CONDOMS?

Twenty Boy Summer and Speak are excellent novels and I don't think this man read either of them. He probably just skimmed because Twenty Boy Summer isn't about sex and condoms. It's about a girl and her best friend grieving over a boy they both loved, in different ways.

And if he has a problem with that, then you know what, forget him.

He and all the other people like him need to shut the BLEEP up because I'm a teenager and I'm going to read whatever the BLEEP I want.

You can BLEEP out all of the "inappropriate" stuff but it only goes to show that YOU'RE uncomfortable, and not me.

Step into the 21st century.
16.9.10

Battle of the Betas

Hey guys! Today on the blog I am beta reading Alicia Gregoire's first page of her urban fantasy, Phoenix Rising for Battle of the Betas an event where eight readers, me included, read one page of someone's WIP and give an honest critique.

This is only the second round, but I'm really excited to apart of this, and I hope my critique is helpful to Alicia.

Here is the original page:

20 Years Ago

Ianos studied the chimera pride that roamed the foothills outside Timmons for months in search of the runt. With a pair of large males and several females, it took him longer than he wanted, but once discovered, he kept his eye on it. In a final attempt of self-preservation, they abandoned it weeks ago. Each day it grew weaker, languishing without the companionship of the pride. On the fourteenth day, Ianos executed his oh so easy plan.
Armed with nothing other than his knowledge of spells, he made his final trek to the foothills. He was much closer than he’d been in his previous visits to the chimera grounds and never seen anything like the beast before. It lay in the sun, with only one head awake, but not alert. The lion head mewled, mourning its fate. Its paper lantern thin wings stretched on the ground while the dragon and goat heads slept.
It was awing.
The lion head despondently watched Ianos’ approach but roared to awaken the other two heads when Ianos crossed some unknown border. The beast rose to its full height, stretched its wings wide, and bellowed—all three heads created a cacophony of rage.
Ianos snarled and crouched, ready to strike. Electricity spurted from his palms towards the chimera. It dodged at the last second and ran head-on towards the sorcerer. He ran into a cave to his right; he’d have better luck surviving the fight if he was able to corner the animal. The beast skidded, turned, and charged again. Ianos leapt onto its back. He held tightly onto the lion’s neck scruff and struggled to pull a lasso out of his jeans.

My notes are in purple:

Ianos studied the chimera pride that roamed the foothills outside Timmons for months in search of the runt.

To be honest, this first sentence didn't really reel me in. For one, it was too wordy. This was one of the sentences in your excerpt that had my tongue tied. So, I would suggest breaking this up into two sentences just so that it flows a little better, and the reader doesn't get confused.

I'll admit that I didn't know what a chimera was, until I Googled it. A chimera is, according to Wikipedia a "monstrous fire-breathing creature", which is really cool because this comes from Gerek mythology and I can already sense that your urban fantasy will be different from all of the others out there.

With a pair of large males and several females, it took him longer than he wanted, but once discovered, he kept his eye on it.

This sentence could be a bit more clear. I don't like that you're using "it" because I'm assuming that you're talking about this "runt" but I'm not really sure. So far, I can't see the scene in my head, and I don't know anything about Ianos, except that he's been studying in Timmons for months.

I have read a lot of books, and I have found that most novels written in first person rely on voice to hook the reader, whereas books written in third person rely on setting and style to hook the reader. But I haven't gotten a taste of the setting yet. I know that Ianos is in Timmons, but I want to see this place. What's it like?

The most important advice I will give you is to set the stage right off the bat, using a lot of imagery, and a mixture of short and long sentences, otherwise you'll lose your reader.

In a final attempt of self-preservation, they abandoned it weeks ago. Each day it grew weaker, languishing without the companionship of the pride.

Again with the word "it".

On the fourteenth day, Ianos executed his oh so easy plan.

I'm not sure what his "oh so easy plan" is, so I'm going to read on to find out.

Armed with nothing other than his knowledge of spells, he made his final trek to the foothills.

My first impression of Ianos was that he was some sort of scientist or adventurer, but then I read "other than his knowledge of spells" and started to wonder what and who exactly is Ianos. You don't really establish that in the beginning, and I think that it's really important that you do, because I assume Ianos is an important character.

He was much closer than he’d been in his previous visits to the chimera grounds and never seen anything like the beast before. It lay in the sun, with only one head awake, but not alert. The lion head mewled, mourning its fate. Its paper lantern thin wings stretched on the ground while the dragon and goat heads slept.

This is your cue. Describe the beasts a little more, I get that they have three heads, and that their wings are "paper lantern thin" but is there anything else you can tell us about them. What color are they? Is one of them breathing fire? If so, describe the fire. Like I said, third person relies on the setting and the descriptions. You have a lot of opportunities to weave in imagery and make it a little more "colorful".

It was awing.

Hmm. Maybe you can reword this sentence. I would say something like "The sight of the chimeras made their mouths fall open in awe." Or something to that effect, because I don't see how something can be "awing" it can be "awe-inspiring" but not awing.

The lion head despondently watched Ianos’ approach but roared to awaken the other two heads when Ianos crossed some unknown border. The beast rose to its full height, stretched its wings wide, and bellowed—all three heads created a cacophony of rage.
Ianos snarled and crouched, ready to strike. Electricity spurted from his palms towards the chimera. It dodged at the last second and ran head-on towards the sorcerer. He ran into a cave to his right; he’d have better luck surviving the fight if he was able to corner the animal. The beast skidded, turned, and charged again. Ianos leapt onto its back. He held tightly onto the lion’s neck scruff and struggled to pull a lasso out of his jeans.

WOW... so a lot is going on here. Let's break this down:

The lion head despondently watched Ianos’ approach but roared to awaken the other two heads when Ianos crossed some unknown border.

Again, you have so many opportunities to use imagery to your advantage. This is urban fantasy, imagery is a great asset to this genre, so instead of telling us that the "lion head despondently watched Ianos approach..." show us.

The beast rose to its full height, stretched its wings wide, and bellowed—all three heads created a cacophony of rage.

I'm not sure a "cacophony of rage" is the right choice of words. This is a creature with three heads, we're talking about. What exactly does a "cacophony of rage" coming from them sound like?

Ianos snarled and crouched, ready to strike. Electricity spurted from his palms towards the chimera.

Okay, who in the world is this Ianos guy? He really does have a lot of surprises up his sleeves. I mean, he has a "knowledge of spells" and now he's getting ready to take on a creature who is possibly bigger than him with ELECTRICITY SPURTING FROM HIS PALMS?

Again, who is Ianos?

It dodged at the last second and ran head-on towards the sorcerer.

OKAY...so Ianos is a sorcerer.

He ran into a cave to his right; he’d have better luck surviving the fight if he was able to corner the animal.

It feels like this cave just magically appeared. Where are they exactly? I mean, I know that this is Timmons, but what's it like? I know it's in the mountains, but there are caves....hmm. I can't really picture it in my head.

The beast skidded, turned, and charged again. Ianos leapt onto its back. He held tightly onto the lion’s neck scruff and struggled to pull a lasso out of his jeans.

Okay, Ianos is wearing jeans and he has a lasso. I know that this is urban fantasy, so I am assuming that this story takes place in the modern times, but in the beginning it had this other-worldly feel to it. Like, I thought this took place back in Ancient Greek, and I would honestly be surprised if this actually takes place in, let's say, present-day New York.

I know I already rambled on for a long time, but I just want to give you a quick overview of all of my notes.

1. Use a mixture of short and long sentences. When writing in third person, one thing you want to focus on, is the flow of your sentences. You don't want them to be too wordy, or too vague.

2. Imagery. It's vital. Make sure you weave enough of it into the story to keep your reader intrigued and to hold their attention.

3. Establish your main character. I didn't really know who Ianos was ( I still don't) but it wasn't until later on that I discovered that he was a sorcerer. I would mention that a little earlier, and then work from there.

4. The uses of "they" and "it" made everything impossibly confusing. You want to make sure that you're clear, and be more specific, especially since you're writing in third person.
Thanks for contributing your first page Alicia! I really hope that this wasn't a bunch of nonsense, and that I actually did help out. This is a good skeleton, and I think that with a little more skin and flesh, this could be an amazing first page.

Here is the list of the other betas:

Kate Hart
Meredith Primeau
Windy Aphayrath
Sarah Enni
Corrine Jackson
8.9.10

Lost & Found - book trailer

I was playing around on this website called Animoto, and I found out that they're giving away free codes to make full-length videos, that you usually have to pay for. So I decided to use my code to make a book trailer for my novel, Lost & Found.

I still have to tweak a few things, but how is it for my first trailer?

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

What's in your Duff kit?


Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies over at YA Highway.

This week's question: What's in your DUFF kit?

Super amazing author Kody Keplinger's book The Duff was released yesterday and if you haven't got your copy yet, I suggest you leave my blog now and go to your nearest book store, because it's definitely worth reading.

To celebrate the release of such a fab novel, for today's Road Trip Wednesday we're going to put together our own Duff kits.

I LOVE Emilia's definition.

DUFF Kit n. A collection of fun, comfy items to be used during a relaxing night alone or with friends; this collection entails zero pressure to be the prettiest, smartest or funniest person in the room. I was feeling like a disgrace to Earth, but then I broke out my DUFF kit, and it was AWESOME. (Yay!)

Okay, so here's mine:


1.
OMG. Who doesn't like a nice vanilla bean frappucino with a shot of mocha on a nice hot day or any day....

I want to live in Starbuck's. That is seriously like a writer's paradise. I don't care how many carbs are in a frappucino. They're good, and I love them so that is that.

2. Shoes? Those are so overrated.

I am seriously not a fan of shoes. Not that I don't wear them because duh I have to, but I'll have to say that socks by themselves are way more comfortable than any shoe. Especially when it's like super hot outside. But, I do love a nice pair of bunny slippers.
(See, that dog knows what I'm talking about.)



3. Johnny Depp is just...there are no words

I used to dream of marrying this man. I know he's like thirty years older than me, but I LOVE him. He's an amazing actor, possibly one of the best male actors out there, hands down. Who cares about Taylor Lautner and Zac Efron? Hmm...I can't possibly pick a favorite out of the many JD movies I've seen, but I have to say that I really really like the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Chocolat, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Sleepy Hollow, and Edward Scissorhands.



4. Entenmann's Devils Food Donuts

These are the kind of donuts you would sell your soul for, seriously. When I have an unbelievably horrible day, I just eat two of these and all my worries are washed away with every sweet, chocolatey bite. I don't even care that it's ridiculously high in calories. Chocolate = A girl's best friend. Unless, you're the kind of girl who freaks out if you eat any carbs.

5. Pajama pants & T-Shirt

This is my ideal comfortable outfit. Even though I like to wear jewelry and fitted tees and fashionable outfits, I really veg out in pajama pants and a T-shirt when I get home.

So that's my Duff kit. What's yours?
7.9.10

Two For Tuesday

What is it? Post two of anything: book reviews, pictures, quotes, poems, songs, videos, rants, shout outs, whatever floats your boat. Just connect them somehow. That's it. (via Kate)

Today: I decided that I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo. This will be my third year doing it, which is pretty exciting. Lost & Found started off as a nano-project, and so I hope that this one will turn into something more because I really like the idea.

It's going to be a YA retelling of Hansel and Gretel. I'm thinking of calling it BREAD CRUMBS for now. So...the two things I'm going to share with you today have to do with this new project, that I am going to start outlining very soon.



I am slowly falling in love with Death Cab For Cutie, and once I heard this song I knew that it had to be on the BREAD CRUMBS soundtrack.



Don't you just love love LOVE this picture? I *squealed* when I happened across it. This will definitely be a scene in the book.
2.9.10

There are no words...

Today was my first day back to school.

I walked out of the house with a smile on my face, even though I missed lazing about at home, I was eager to see my friends, and eager to start off my junior year. Because, guys, I'm OFFICIALLY A JUNIOR.

But, to give you guys a little background, I go to an inner-city school. Which, if you're not familiar with the term, means that I go to a school where there are security guards and metal detectors and drugs and fights and because of this, it's not really an ideal school, but it is a school nonetheless.

I believe in many things, but I strongly believe in education. Sure I may whine about having a butt-load of homework. Sure I may whine about how I hate getting up in the morning, but that doesn't mean that I hate school in general.

I love school and because I believe in education, I also believe that even the worst of schools deserve a chance.

High school is your last chance. After that, it's time to face the music. That's what everyone is always telling me, other young people my age. It's a universal law: knowledge is power, and then I think about the many countries out there whose kids don't have a chance at receiving an education, I think about how blessed I am for being born in one of the greatest nation's in the world. Even though we have had our ups and downs, America is supposed to be the land of the free. It's supposed to be the land of opportunities and possibilities and then there is the American Dream:

The meaning of the "American Dream" has changed over the course of history. While historically traced to the New World mystique — especially the availability of low-cost land for farm ownership — the ethos today simply indicates the ability, through participation in the society and economy, for everyone to achieve prosperity. According to the dream, this includes the opportunity for one's children to grow up and receive a good education and career without artificial barriers. (Wikipedia)


So, yeah, even the American Dream requires for every child to receive a good education and a career, but let's face it, you can't land a good job, if you don't make those four years in high school count, and get accepted into a good college.

You must be thinking "What's the point of all this?" Well, let me finish telling you about my day.

I was so happy to finally be rid of my 10th grade status that I literally skipped to school, but once I actually stepped inside, my smile turned into a frown, and then from there, I started to get angrier and angrier.

Why?

Half of my school is off limits. This is not essentially why I was angry, but it's part of it. There are walls and padlocked doors to keep us from getting to the other side, and once I saw them, reality set in.

They are closing my school, guys.

I have sent letters to the superintendent, a lot of people in my school did. I have spoken to the local paper, but the article was never written. I have ranted and raved and parents of my fellow students have been in the news, talking about how this is not right.

Because it isn't right. There are a lot of people who disagree with me, but a lot of these people are American and they claim to believe in education and this so called American Dream, that clearly states that every child is eligible to receive a GOOD education.

But, how are children supposed to learn when they are closing schools down?

In my hometown, the city is divided up into four categories: the West End, the East End, the Northside and the Southside. I live in the East End, and you want to know something?

After they close down my school, there is going to be only one high school in my area.

Do you want to know what they want to do to my school once they close it? Well, they want to put another school in there, one that I couldn't even get into even if I wanted to, because there's a waiting list that started years ago, and these kids who will roam of the halls of my school, the one I have been at for almost three years, have parents who are rich, and they are not inner-city kids.

And do you know what else sucks? We don't even get a choose what school we want to go too.

It's either the one school that's left on the East End or another, which is on the other side of town. They say they will pay for transportation but...do you know what's so freaking funny about this whole thing?

The reason why they are using our school for this new school, is because the drop-out rate is high in my school and they think the building should be used for people who want to learn.

There are about 300-400 students attending my school, which is the norm for a lot of the schools in my area, or was, I should say, because they recently sold another high school building to a hospital, because the hospital needed more office space.

I SWEAR TO GOODNESS. It's like...this town doesn't even care about education. They are spending money building new hotels, and new gyms and new this, and new that when they can't put a penny into our education...which really pisses me off, and I don't want to just sit here and take it.

I won't, but what the hell can I do? I've tried to talk to the Superintendent but he doesn't give two shits about anything, nor does he know anything about anything. He's making these blind decisions, when he doesn't really know why the kids in my school are doing poorly, and it's not everyone...it's just a chunk of the student body, and that holds true in any school, no matter who attends it, inner-city or rich kids.

I'm a straight A student. I was one way before I went to middle school, and there are lot of kids at me at my school, but the school board doesn't want to see that, they just want to kick us out of our school...and it hurts so much, because I've come to like my school. I love the teachers, even though the students get on my nerves some times, I've had some great memories there, and to know that they're going to be washed away....I just...

And I'm not even going to have a prom. They're closing the school after the end of next year, and I graduate in 2012, which means I have ONE more year of high school left...but I don't even get to spend it with my friends, I have to go to a new school, one that is located in a bad area and bad is seriously an understatement.

People get shot just by walking down the street, in that neighborhood and they want to send us there?

And you know what the funny thing about that is? The school board knows that. That is why they wouldn't dare send those rich, non inner-city kids to that school. It's a bad neighborhood and they wouldn't want any of them getting shot up...but when it comes to us....who cares?

I'm sorry if this was just a whole bunch of ranting, but I had to let off some steam.
31.8.10

Two For Tuesday


What is it?
Post two of anything: book reviews, pictures, quotes, poems, songs, videos, rants, shout outs, whatever floats your boat. Just connect them somehow. That's it. (via Kate)

Today: I'm five pages into the rewrite of Lost & Found. Yesterday, I decided that I needed to stop doubting myself and actually start writing, so that's exactly what I did. So to celebrate that here's two songs from the soundtrack for my novel.



When I first heard this song I literally squealed because it fits the plot and the title SO perfectly.



I just recently discovered Pixie Lott. OMG. Isn't her voice amazing? I am also a huge fan of Kings of Leon, and when I heard this...wow. But, yeah, I think her version of the song fits the book.

So there you go.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!
29.8.10

I JUST FINISHED MOCKINGJAY....

This is what my face looks like at the moment:


I honestly don't know what to think about the ending, considering the fact that I really though I knew for sure how it was going to end, but that is what I enjoyed most about this series, it wasn't predictable.

Most authors "lose their characters" when they write a series, and sometimes because of that, the reader knows what's going to happen, but Miss Collins kept Katniss's character true throughout all three books, and not only has she grown up, but she has become a three dimensional character, as well.

Mockingjay, in my opinion, was A LOT darker than the other two novels. Mainly because we got to see a little bit more inside Katniss's head whereas in the other two it was all about the Hunger Games and surviving and what not.

It got a little confusing at times, but it wasn't too confusing that you couldn't follow the plot. I thought, the writing, as usual, was brilliant, and we were introduced to new characters, as well as old ones.

Gale was in this book more than he has ever been in the series, which I had hoped, because Peeta had too much showtime in the first two books. The love triangle angle of this series was explored a little more, and I would like to say that I wasn't surprised to find out who Katniss ended up with...but I can't because as I was reading, I started to have doubts. I started saying to myself "No, she can't end up with him..." or "She has to kill him."

And it was just a rollercoaster ride, because I wanted to know who the hell she was going to end up with! I know that really isn't that important, but I just needed to know... THE SUSPENSE WAS KILLING ME.

There were some cute scenes. People who've read it? Am I the only one who thought the Finnick in his underwear scene was cute! OMG...Finnick. That was a shocker there.

I just can't begin to explain to those who haven't read Mockingjay yet...how complex this book was. Like I said, it was way darker, but you could tell the events that took place weren't for shock value, they made sense and stayed true to plot and.... I am so in love Suzanne Collins, because she wrote a series that had so many awesome qualities, and the characters were real, the writing was brilliant, the plot was original, and okay okay...the only thing I have to complain about is the names. I mean, come on, PEETA. Then all of those Roman/Greek names were KILLING me.

I was all like: "What the f**k?"

But I will forgive Miss Collins. Though some of those names were utterly atrocious...and one thing I couldn't get over was Tigris. If you read the book...somebody just tell me what the HELL WAS WRONG WITH TIGRIS. That woman freaked me out. OMG.

There were moments when I had to put the book down because it was getting to be too much to take in...not in a bad way...but Collins really went out with bang.

The state Katniss was in in the last few chapters...was wow. I don't blame her for the way she acted, and what she did, but... like I said on Facebook, if they make all three of these books into a movie they better get a DAMN good actress to play Katniss, because she doesn't need to be portrayed by some Disney wannabe.

Katniss is complex, she's kickass, and she's strong.

Mockingjay was definitely worth the wait, and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did.
27.8.10

Friday Five

1. I bought Florence + The Machine's CD Lungs and I can't stop playing it because every song is so unique, and different and I think the longer I listen to it, the more inspired I become.




2. I'm reading Mockingjay right now and I have the choice of rushing through it and finding out how the hell this AMAZING series is going to end, or I could savor it for just a little while longer. The second choice is exactly what I'm doing now because I don't want it to end. I loved reading about Katniss and the Hunger Games, and I'm going to miss the characters and even though I have to constantly fight the urge to read the last page, I'm not going to do it.

3. I decided that I'm actually going to start plotting/outlining the rewrite of Lost & Found because right now I am at a dead end, and I don't want to give up on this project because I love the characters and the plot too much. So, the next time I go to the store, I'm going to get me a new notebook, decorate the cover, and buy some notecards so that I can start planning out the chapters. I don't know if this will work or not, but there's no harm in trying, right?

4. I would like to start doing VLOGS. I have a digital camera, and though I don't really know how to use it (because the instructions are confusing) I'm sure I'll figure it out sooner or later. I did actually figure out how to use the video feature on the camera, but I don't know how to set it so that it's longer than a minute *scratches head*



video

Hehe, and you can hardly hear me but I'm saying "Hi, my name is Raven...." And then smiling like an idiot.

5. Lastly, I started working on an idea that I found in my pile of SNIs. You can read more about it under my BOOKS page but it's called Blood Red Lipstick On Your Collar and that is seriously like the longest title I have ever thought of and though I declared that I write YA Contemporary, I couldn't help myself! I needed a story with ghost and demons and other dark creatures of the night. Sometimes, it's good to take a break from reality. *nods* Tis true.

So, what's going on with you guys?
24.8.10

Teaser Tuesday (Right, like anyone will actually read this.)

I know everyone is either on their way out to buy Mockingjay, getting ready to go get Mockingjay, or are reading Mockingjay. So, you might not have time to read my tease, but it is Tuesday, so here you go.

I haven't been working on any of WIPs. I just figured I need a break from them for a couple of days, and I started writing a short story. It was inspired by the song Heavy In Your Arms by Florence + The Machine and I really like it.

It's only a first draft so....

In the last rays of sunlight, she could see a boy standing underneath a tree, something was watching him, it's bright bright eyes shone in the coming darkness, and Marie wanted to scream, she wanted to tell the boy to run, but before she could open her lips, the creature that had been lurking in the shadows, stepped into the light, revealing every sharp fang that glittered in his mouth.
Marie clutched the cross that hung from her neck, and cried silently out to a god, she wasn't sure existed in a land where creatures came in the night, stealing children from their mothers, leaving bloody pawprints in their wake.
The boy, with his dark hair, his ashen skin, his slits for eyes, opened his mouth, to speak, but nothing came out. This creature, this wolf sat back, and howled at the approaching moon, and then it's golden eyes rest on the boy, who was slowly inching towards the animal.
"Stop!" Marie screamed, her voice sounding new to her ears, like she had stolen it from someone braver, someone stronger than her. "Stop!"
But the boy didn't stop. He just turned his head every-so-slightly and gave her a look that she will never forget, a look that was as gold as the one of the wolve's. His lips formed around words that she couldn't hear, and before she could ask him what he was saying, the boy was snatched away, into the darkness, and that's when she heard it.
The growling, the snarling, the closing of death all around her. They were hungry, so hungry. Their jaws snapped, their fangs reached out towards her, thirsting for a taste of her blood, wanting to feel her beating heart, stop beating, as her flesh passed through their lips.
Still clutching her cross, she prayed to God, hoping that he existed in this strange land, and then her life ended.
Or so she had thought.
The Sandman was standing before her when she pulled out of her memory. She looked up at him with pleading eyes, knowing that a man like him didn't have feelings, or even a heart to feel.
"I would like to ask one thing of you before I die," Marie breathed.
"What?" he asked, and this time his voice wasn't rough or sickly sweet, it was just one syllable, one lonely sound that trembled in her ears.
"Let me die having a good dream." Tears started to fall down her cheeks once more. Heavy. So heavy. "Don't let the wolves take me."
23.8.10

DO YOU WANNA WIN A COPY OF THE DUFF? (Well, of course you do.)


SUMMARY

S
eventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn't think she's the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her "Duffy," she throws her Coke in his face.

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.



HERE'S THE DEAL

G0 over to Kody's blog and enter the contest RIGHT NOW. If you don't win, don't worry because she is having TWO more contest where you get a chance to win a copy of THE DUFF (which I have been anticipating since forever.)

Link.

Okay, the reason why I want to read THE DUFF is because not only have I been waiting to read it for a long time, but I love the history behind the story, and I love that Bianca isn't perfect or a size two and she knows this, and she's not ashamed of it.

I also adore Kody's writing and I remember MDW/FNWing with her on AW and though I never read a snip from THE DUFF I have gotten a chance to read snips from her other project, which had a love interest that I really really liked. She had told me that Wes was way HOTTER than that particular LI, so I really want to find that out for myself...and I can't wait til September.

I SERIOUSLY NEED TO READ THIS BOOK, LIKE, NOW.

Peeta vs. Gale

Everyone is picking sides.

In case you don't already know, I'm Team Gale. (See the badge in my sidebar)

Peeta, is sweet, don't get me wrong, but he's too sweet, he's too perfect, and though he makes bread, and says things that make you say "Aw..."

I don't buy it.

I'm not saying that I don't believe that Peeta loves Katniss, but I believe that their relationship was forced, whereas, Katniss and Gale have history.

And history is important.

I mean, he calls her Catnip, he hunts with her, he cares about her family, and because of the world they live in I think Gale is more capable than Peeta. He's stronger, he has this masculine, passionate feel to him that makes me swoon.

Though he didn't have too much show in the Hunger Games, Catching Fire really sealed the deal for me.

Sure he may be whiny at times, sure he make be harsh, and stoic at times but Gale actually cares about what Katniss wants, he actually knows what Katniss wants, and if they ended up together the plot-line would be more believable because Peeta and Katniss just met each other. Before the Hunger Games, Peeta didn't pay any mind to Katniss, and I just think because they were under life and death circumstances, Peeta and Katniss fell "in love".

And to point something else out: Katniss actually does like Gale. She may even love him.

So, yeah, I'm Team Gale all the way.
22.8.10

Why I Love Markus Zusak or... (The Book Thief review)


I don't love Markus Zusak just because he has an amazing smile (I mean, seriously, look at HIM) or because he has a dreamy accent. No, I love him because he is an AMAZING writer, and because I just finished reading one of the best books EVER.

The Book Thief is not just a story about Nazi Germany or even book thievery, as the title might suggest, but it is also about learning to find the beauty in a world that is far from being beautiful.

In the beginning of the book, Liesel Meminger, the heroine of the story, starts off as a little girl who doesn't understand much. She can't read, she can't write, and on the way to a house on Himmel Street she loses not only her mother, but her brother [SPOILERS...] who dies on the train.


One of the things that I loved about this book is that the author gives the reader a chance to see the character grow. Liesel started off as young and naive, but as she began to understand the world she lived in, Hitler's Germany, and the crime her parents committed, she grows not only mentally but emotionally. She transforms into this strong, young girl who knows that she has many obstacles in her way, but she is determined not to let them stop her.

I enjoyed reading The Book Thief because of Zusak's breathtaking prose. Every simile, every metaphor that I came across made me swoon because he used words that I would never have thought to use to describe the sky when someone dies or even the sky itself.

Did I mention that this book was not told by Liesel Meminger? You would think that because she is the heroine of the story, she would be the one dragging you through the emotional rollercoaster that was The Book Thief, but she is not.

I was actually quite surprised when I found out that Death, himself, was narrating the story, and it made it even more interesting because through his point-of-view the reader was able to
understand more about Germany in the time of
Hitler's reign.

There were so many great characters in this book that I can't really say that I didn't like any of them because they were so well-developed and they all had their owns stories to tell and they all played their own part in Liesel's story and... I think two of my favorite characters, besides Liesel and Death, would be Rudy and Max.

Rudy is Liesel's friend, and though their relationship is far from romantic, the love between them is genuine and refreshing. Their antics, their adventures are what kept me turning the pages, and Rudy. He will forever have a special place in my heart, because.... I don't want to give it away, but he's just sweet and strong and he's really passionate.

Then there is Max.... [SPOILERS] he is a Jewish man who lives in Liesel's basement. He was a wonderful touch to the story, because when he entered the reader was reminded that this is Nazi Germany and though Liesel and her foster parents are nice people, nice people pay the consequences for simple acts of kindness everyday, especially during this time.


You were punished for aiding a Jew, and so Max being in their house was a risk, but I'm glad he came along because him and Liesel have so much in common and....

I'm not going to spoil anything else just GO READ THIS BOOK NOW. I swear to you, that it will make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, make you smile.

It will haunt you.

"I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant."

- Markus Zusak (The Book Thief)


(You see why I'm in love with him, right?)
20.8.10

Character Interview: Lowell Fitzgerald

I wasn't going to blog today. I just wrote a query (my first one EVER) for an idea that I haven't even started yet, which might change soon because it's a really sexy, scandalous story with a little bit of mystery thrown into the mix.

But then my characters started screaming at me.

It really is hard when a lot of people are screaming at you. Inside of your head. So, last night, I started yelling back at them. Telling them that if they were a bit more cooperative maybe just MAYBE I could tell their story, and then everyone would be happy.

Then I threw in a few tears, just so they would feel bad for making me cry.

Next thing I know, Low, comes up to me, gives me a hug, and starts rambling on about how he thinks character interviews would help me get into the story, so to speak.



I'm always up for trying new things, so I agreed, and here we are:


Low: You're not going to cry on me again today, are you?

Me: No. *blushes* I'm sorry about your shirt.

Low: *shrugs* You could just write me another one.

Me: Okay so... Low, for my readers who might not know who you are, could you tell them a little about yourself?

Low: No problem. Well, I grew up in New York City with a big crazy Irish family. My grandfather was a musician, and when I was younger, he would pull me onto his lap, and sing songs to me. I didn't think playing an instrument and singing was very boyish, so I really never took an interest to it, until after my grandfather died. *looks down*

Me: I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather. But is that the reason why you sing and write songs now? To keep his memory alive.

Low: Partly, yeah. I really took up playing the guitar to get on Kip's nerve. He used to say I wasn't good at playing, and would leave the room whenever I took Gwendolyn out.

Me: *giggle snorts* Gwendolyn?

Low: Yep, that's my baby. In fact, I have her with me today.

Me: Maybe you can play a song later. So, are you and Kip close?

Low: Not really, but our relationship has always been strange. Brothers are supposed to have each other's back, but growing up, Kip and I always fought. All fists, no words. He was bigger than me, so I always got beat up...but yeah, it's always been awkward between me and my brother.

Me: Did you know that Kip was bipolar?

Low: My parents never talked to me about Kip's condition. It was a hush, hush thing in my household. But I always knew that something was wrong with him. Just didn't think he was bipolar.

Me: Were you afraid of him?

Low: Not in the sense that everyone thinks. My father, when he was still around, taught me not to fear anyone who used their fist to settle problems. *smirks* So, basically he was telling me not to fear him. That bastard....but no. I didn't. I just pitied him, and my pity for my brother, was what scared me the most.

Me: Your father beat physically abused your mother?

Low: Oh yeah. When I was five, I had to call 911 because my dad was going through one of his episodes, and.... I don't really want to talk about. Sorry.

Me: No, it's okay. I don't want to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Low: *smiles softly* I have a question for you.

Me: Fire away.

Low: How did you even come up with me?

Me: Well, you just appeared in my head one day, almost a year ago, and I knew that I needed to give you a story. You are probably one of the most interesting characters I have ever met.

Low: You're just saying that.

Me: I'm not. I'm really not...those songs that you write. Wow. I find myself singing them from time to time.

Low: You act like I write them all by myself. You're the genius behind all of the lyrics. You ever think about doing it professionally?

Me: I think about doing a lot of things professionally, but dreams aren't about thoughts, they are about actions.

Low: I could understand that. Back in New York, before my mom moved us all the way out to Thomas, I used to play at this cafe for a couple bucks. Could have kept doing it, but then I...stopped.

Me: Why?

Low: Because I didn't want music to become all about money and fame. That's where people lose their minds. I sing and play the guitar for my grandfather. Not because I want get a record deal, and make millions.

Me: *shakes head* I really can't understand why Kendall doesn't like you.

Low: *frowns* You wrote her.

Me: Well, it's not like I control everything you guys do. Kendall is a free spirit. She knows what she wants and...

Low: You saw the bruises right?

Me: *looks down* I did.

Low: She wants Kip and he's not going to do anything but bring her pain. He's just like my father.

Me: Kip isn't a bad person. Believe me, I know.

Low: Yeah, right. Whatever.

Me: So... What would you change about yourself if you could?

Low: I love too deeply. When I care for someone, I don't stop caring about them, and if you ask me, that's like committing suicide.

Me: Um...What makes you happy now?

Low: *pushes up sleeves* You see all of these? *points to the words* This, right here. This is what makes me happy. I love writing songs and letting them seep into my skin.

Me: I just have to ask you this, but do you like being called Low?

Low: Well, I certainly don't like to be called Lowell. Low doesn't sound anything like my name, and whenever I tell people that Low is my name, they give me this strange look, but oh well.

Me: I like that you don't care what other people think. But it looks like you have a lot of secrets, what is it that you've never told anyone?

Low: *leans forward and smiles* It wouldn't be a secret anymore if I told you.

Me: Okay, this is the last question, and then I promise you I will let you go. What do you want?

Low: I... I want everything life has to offer. Love, happiness, pain, joy. Everything. Just hand it to my in a jar and I'll keep them like fireflies. *takes out pen* That would make a great song....

Me: *giggles* You are so cute. But thanks for coming up with this idea. It was fun talking to you.

Low: It was fun talking to you. Oh, and about that song? *picks up Gwendolyn*

Thanks for reading!
19.8.10

How Do I Beta?

I just read Kathleen's entry in the Battle of the Betas and event where five writers/experienced betas critique the same page (via Sarah Enni)

If you haven't already, go check them out:


Beta-ing to me is all about giving your opinion on someone's writing in a positive and constructive manner.

You might think that everyone can do it, well they can, but there is such a thing as good Betas, and bad Betas. I'm not going to put myself in either category but I will say that I am a Motherly Beta.

By that, I mean I am nurturing. I try my best to be honest, without being harsh, and if I see something I don't like I explain to the writer why I don't like it and what I think they can do to fix it.

Good Betas don't just say things like: Oh I don't really think this opening sentence works or I don't like the personality of your main character. Good Betas explain why they don't like the opening sentence and why they don't like the personality of your main character.

If the writer understands the whys of your opinions/criticism it would help them to identify what they need to fix in their novel and how they are going to fix it.

And all of this can be done in a nice, well-mannered way.

Telling someone that their writing sucks and that you think the novel is horrible isn't going to get the writer anywhere and it certainly isn't going to get you as a Beta reader anywhere.

From my short-lived life as a Beta reader, I have learned that what you say is just as important as how you beta-read. Meaning, that you can't give off a negative vibe, because writing a book is a hard enough job as it is, and there are nicer ways in getting something across, than saying suck and horrible.

I trust that those of us who beta-read and write are aware of that, but just in case you happen to beta-reading for the first time, and you happen to read this post, know that there is a way to be constructive and firm without using harsh words.

So, when I beta, I try to be constructive, I try to be firm, I try not to be biased, because often times when people agree to beta-read someone's novel they *know* the person and like them and are afraid of being *harsh*

But, like I said, I'm the Motherly Beta, though I love you, I also care about your novel reaching it's full potential, and if I have to be constructive, and bare-boned for that to happen, then so be it.

  1. ANALYZING CHAPTER ONE

Chapter One is the most important chapter in the entire book, in my opinion. Here is your chance to establish the hook, your characters. Here is your chance to make your reader comfortable with your main character and your additional characters and hopefully, here is your chance to reel in agents who request partials and fulls.

So, yeah, Chapter One is really important.

I spend a lot more time on this chapter then any other one. I give it a good two or three read-overs making sure I have nothing to add, and when it comes to note-taking I usually put them in brackets and make the font color red, just so my words stand out, when the writer looks over them.

There were a few occasions when the person I was beta-ing for had good first lines, a good voice, a good grip on their plot, until I got to the middle of the book. And that's where my next topic comes in.


2. STARTING OUT STRONG, THEN GOING ALL WRONG

Personally, when reading, I start out very weak (because beginnings aren't my strong-suit) and hopefully in the end, I come out strong. I am always envious of writers who can start off strong. It makes the story so much more enjoyable, but it also makes the places that are weak obvious.

I try to point those areas as best as I can, because you don't want an agent to request a full or a partial, start off strong, grab their attention, and then all-of-a-sudden lose it because you lost your grip on your main character/plot etc.

I read every book like I actually picked it up at Borders or something. Therefore, I start reading having high expectations, and with that attitude, I'm able to determine what I honestly think should be changed, and what I honestly think the reader should to, because that's what constructive criticism is all about it. It's about being honest, and honesty is key to a healthy relationship between you and whomever you are beta-ing for.

They should feel like they can ask you anything, and if you say that their story starts out strong, but gets weaker towards the middle, then they should be able to ask you for help, and ask you to explain your critique a little bit more.

3. YOUR MIND WILL BE BLOWN

As a writer, I know that some people go through three or four drafts before they send their baby off to betas, therefore they probably put blood, sweat and tears, into their project, and from personal experience, that is when the writing really jumps off the page.

I can't begin to explain how many times my jaw-dropped because I read a passage so amazing that it just blew my mind, or maybe the character's said something outrageously funny or the plot just took a turn that I didn't expect, and I loved it.

So, what I'm trying to tell you is this, when you're beta-reading don't just point out the things that need some worked on, point out the things you like, because writers (I should know) love to hear about what they're doing write. It helps them stay confident. It helps them believe that they can polish up their novel.

4. QUESTIONS


It's important to ask what the writer wants you to point out, in general. Often times, they have insecurities but they forget to mention to say things like: Oh, I think my main character is weak. Do you think he/she is? or Oh, I don't like the climax? Do you think it works well with the story or should fix it?

Personally, I love asking questions, just so I can be able to add in additional notes when I send in my full-critique, but that might just be me.


5. GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION, AND THINGS WE HAVE LONG SENSE FORGOTTEN ABOUT

I am horrible when it comes to pointing out tense-changes, grammatical errors, and what not. So, I make sure I mention that to whomever I'm beta-ing for just so they know that they'll need to find someone else who can focus on that area, better than I can.

It's okay to not be good in one or two aspects of beta-reading. Just let the writer know that something isn't your stronghold and they'll work out something.

Again, I am no expert on beta-reading. But that was a gist of how I beta-read. I don't know if I do a good job or a bad job, but I hope I am of some help to the writer.

Now, it's your turn. How do you beta-read?