Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 Update #3

So what can I say? This month has been a NaNoWriMo train wreck on the one hand and a huge blessing on the other.

I'm getting close to finishing the first major edit of my novel, DEAD DOLL. And I LOVE the way it's shaping up. I look forward to working on it every day, which I take to be a good sign. If I like working on it, then hopefully, people will also like reading it.

My plan now is to be done with the edit maybe by the end of this week? *This is me being optimistic* Then I can send off the first fifty pages to my graduate school of choice, to editors, and to agents. Yay!

The train wreck is the fact that I meant to be done with DEAD DOLL a month ago. I wanted to start an entirely new project, THE LAST FRONTIER, a sci-fi YA novel that I'm dying to get started. But next year, that'll be my big project. At least the outline is done; it's all loaded in Scrivner, and waiting for me to get to it. Patiently.

So what have I done this year for NaNoWriMo? Well, I haven't written 50K words, but I HAVE edited that many, and more. Much of that is completely new stuff that I'm very proud of. So all in all, I'm giving this NaNoWriMo attempt a thumbs up. Maybe two if I finish my edit this week.

Until next time!

Ducks in a Row

The new year's right around the corner. Can you believe it? I'm certainly shocked at how rapidly this wonderful year has progressed. Since it's still November and the month in which we give thanks, I'd like to reflect on some of the things I'm thankful for and talk about the things I hope to accomplish next year.

I'm thankful for:
1) Time to write. I've never felt better about the quality of my writing or the topics I've chosen to write about.
2) Friends and family, here in OK, KC, and all over the world. I only wish we could have more time together.
3) An abundance of jobs. I know many people are struggling with job loss or are unable to find work. I'm lucky to have wonderful employers in this hard time.
4) My recovering health. This year was a rough one for me, but I seem to be back on track with my life. No illnesses are going to keep me down.
5) A promising future. I feel like I'm on the path that I'm supposed to be, and that's a wonderful feeling.

And on that note of the promising future...

Next year's accomplishments:
1) I hope to have an agent, if not an editor and publisher, for my DEAD DOLL trilogy.
2) I hope to receive a graduate assistantship at OU that will cover the majority of my tuition.
3) I hope to do more with my social media, both speaking on social media for authors and networking and interacting more on the web.
4) This isn't something I really want to accomplish, but I'm hoping that I'll stop spreading myself so thin, so I can focus in on the projects that are most important to me.
5) I hope to continue to get healthier by working out more, watching what I eat, and keeping up with my doctors and PT.

As this year comes to a close, what do you hope for and what are you thankful for?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Review of Marie Lu's PRODIGY

Because I work at Full Circle Bookstore in OKC and because I met a wonderful YA (young adult) salesperson from Penguin Books there, I've come into many advanced reader's copies of books. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of PRODIGY, the second book in Marie Lu's dystopian series, Legend.

Here's a quick synopsis of PRODIGY, which will come out in January 2013:

June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—-June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengence, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

If you go to Marie Lu's WEBSITE, you can read the first chapter of the book there. If you follow my blog from now until the end of December, you will be entered in a raffle for this advanced reader's copy. But if I don't have twenty followers by then, the raffle will be canceled. So be sure to tell all your friends to stop by!

As for my thoughts on PRODIGY, I just finished reading it this morning, and it left me in tears. Bittersweet, heart-wrenching tears. Marie Lu's writing has improved drastically from her first volume to this one. Her story-telling skills are much better as well.

She tells the story once more from both Day's and June's points of views. And there are several twists in the story that I certainly didn't see coming. The love tangle gets far more tangled, as does the fight for loyalty and the Republic/the Colonies.

I felt Lu developed this futuristic world much more fully in this story. We learn more about the plague, more about the world at large (not just the fragmented United States), and we delve deep into the corrupt governments and those who are trying to fight it.

You will not be disappointed in this second volume. It's a terrifying, exhilerating, thrilling second volume. I can't wait for the third volume to come out. Really, I'm going to go nuts between now and the third one. I hope Lu's writing lots over this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update #2

I updated last Wednesday with my progress on this year's NaNoWriMo 50k novel challenge. I figured I'd make that a tradition.

So how's it going, knee-deep in week two? Well...not nearly as well as it was last week. It seems that between several jobs, volunteer commitments, and life, my novel's gotten bunted to the back burner. And I hate that.

I have gotten a little bit of writing in, and I am halfway through editing my book, so that's a definite plus. But today's a day when I get off work at the college at 3 pm, so I'm definitely hoping to get several pages edited today.

In other news, I'm REALLY enjoying PRODIGY, much more so than LEGEND. Lu's storytelling craft has greatly improved as has her characterization. If I reach twenty-five followers this December for the raffle, the lucky winner is going to be very pleased.

Rose State College and Full Circle Bookstore both have their holiday parties coming up, and we've been gift wrapping and gift chatting up a storm. It's so fun knowing the holidays are so close. I'm happy to report I've pretty much finished my Christmas shopping already! I'm just waiting on one more package to arrive for my dad.

I'm heading home to KC (yeah, I still call KC home) next Tuesday to spend Thanksgiving with my folks. I'm super excited to see them and many of the friends I've left behind. So wish me good luck, safe travels, and mucho writing time.

How's your novel writing coming? Are you right on track? Or are you finding the onslaught of holidays as time-consuming as I am?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review of LEGEND by Marie Lu


Last night I finished a truly fantastic book: LEGEND by Marie Lu. LEGEND is the first book in a dsytopian trilogy for YA readers. And can I just say...I've found a new series to obsess over.

The book is told from alternating viewpoints. First from a criminal's perspective. Then from a high-ranking military woman's perspective. Both points of view have genius IQs, lightning fast reflexes, and plenty of tragedy in their backgrounds.

Here's a quick summary of the plot:

 What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

I enjoyed LEGEND so much because, frankly, the story's impossible. The things some of the characters do are impossible. But that's what makes it so great. These two teenagers take on odds even more staked against them than what Katniss faces in the HUNGER GAMES. I liked that because it was refreshing. Lu makes you believe in the impossible.

Her writing and storyline struck me as a mesh between the dsytopian YA books that are all the rage now and Japanese manga or anime.

The only flaw I saw with the first book was that at times I didn't believe Day--the criminal--was actually a male. He read much more like a female to me, but I'm looking forward to starting PRODIGY, the second book in the trilogy, to see how Lu's writing has matured.

Don't forget to tell all your friends to join my nightmare army (my followers)! We still need to recruit about ten more people in order to make the raffle for an advanced reader's copy of PRODIGY happen in December.  

Have you read LEGEND? What did you think about it? Did it inspire you?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update #1

So it's the first Wednesday after the start of NaNoWriMo 2012. And thus far, I've been managing to write every day--or edit, really. My plan was to start an entirely new novel for this year's NaNo, but instead, I'm finishing up the edits on DEAD DOLL (and I'm getting near the end). I'm hoping to have all of those edits done by the first half of this month. And the second half, I'll be able to spend on my new sci-fi novel, THE LAST FRONTIER, for YA readers.

What's going on in the NaNo world, you ask? Well, my first response is that it's not too late to join in on the fun. Go create an account at and start counting your words today. There's plenty of time for you to make up on that lost word count, I promise.

People are haunting the forums day or night. You can find character and plot synopses, meet-up groups, plot ideas, and even romance. You name it; they've got it. The NaNo forums are truly a writer's paradise.

Writers' word counts are filling up quickly. They're donating money to the NaNo cause, and they're tweeting, texting, Facebooking, and emailing about their novel projects all over the web. You can't hardly jump on a site without running into somebody who's doing it.

Several of my friends are working hard on their novels. The events coordinator at Full Circle Bookstore and I are trying to come up with meet-up dates and an all-nighter event, and one of my new co-workers is also joining in on the fun.

Join us in the NaNo world. It doesn't matter if you can't reach 50k words by the end. If you've written something, and you've written every day, then you're already miles ahead of most people out there.

So are you writing like crazy this month? What are your killer ideas? How many words are you up to?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review of FAIRY TALES from the BROTHERS GRIMM--by Philip Pullman

Since I can remember, I've loved fairy tales--the Grimm kind and the Disney kind. If you recognize that line, it's straight from my bio. So you can imagine how excited I was to receive an advanced reader's copy of FAIRY TALES from the BROTHERS GRIMM, which was compiled and rewritten by Philip Pullman for the 200th anniversary of the Grimms' stories.

Yes, the author of the beloved His Dark Materials books has a new book coming out on November 12th. Should you run out and buy it for the holiday season? My vote is yes. And here's why:

Pullman must have spent countless hours reading and researching for FAIRY TALES. He's written an expansive introduction that explains much of his research, and after each of the fairy tales (he includes 50), he writes a note comparing the many versions of each tale to one another and writes why he chose to coalesce elements from many versions into the one he's written.

As for the fairy tales, themselves, they're fun, morbid, but many have happy endings. I remember the Grimms' tales from my childhood, but I remember them being much darker--dark enough to give me nightmares. But Pullman's versions generally have happy endings, but grotesque middles. A nice compromise, I think, between Grimm and Disney.

Some of my favorite tales from the 400+ page volume include "The Girl with No Hands," "Thousandfurs," and "The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces." And never fear, Disney lovers, Pullman also includes tales such as "Cinderella," "Rumpelstiltskin," "Rapunzel," "Hansel and Gretel," "Little Red Riding Hood," and a great deal of other old favorites.

"The Girl with No Hands" reminded me why the Grimms' tales gave me nightmares. A father cuts off his own daughters' hands! And she is forced to wander through the world without them. In Pullman's version, her hands are first replaced with silver and then they eventually regenerate through the grace of God.

I read a version of "Thousandfurs" long ago, and I remember wishing for a nut with three beautiful dresses in it and for the golden ring, spindle, and bobbin. But in the version I read as a child, the father didn't want to marry his daughter, not even close. Thankfully.

And finally, I also had a beautifully illustrated volume of "The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces." I danced with the princesses and their princes in my dreams and wished I could be the youngest who trailed after her sisters, a little more hesitantly than all the rest. I, however, didn't have any interest in marrying the soldier. Maybe, like those princesses, I wanted to stay a child, living out my childhood fancies for the rest of my life.

For those of you who have always loved the tales from Grimm, you'll find Pullman's version refreshing and fun. These stories--many of them at least--would be great fun to share with your little ones. So if you're looking for a present this holiday season that would delight the entire family, I recommend FAIRY TALES from the BROTHERS GRIMM by Philip Pullman.