Saturday, April 28, 2012

RSURS Read-along: Week 1

And it's starting! I'm on time! Ok: business. This week's discussion is hosted by Bryce over at My Awful Reviews, so be sure to visit and add your link to the list at Little Red Reviewer. And then join in the conversation! That is, after all, why the internet was created. That, and porn. Obviously, if you haven't read the book, you need to! Discussion after the jump.

I should note, I haven't read the book before, and I am only reading as far as the current week's discussion. So I have no idea what's going to happen!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

First and foremost, I should mention this isn't going to be a good review. Reviews mention good things and bad things, and the only thing I have to say about this book is "ZOMG YOU HAVE TO READ IT." Chuck Wendig is the brain behind Terribleminds, and he is one hilarious dude. I've been looking forward to this book for a long time, and it's finally here!

A synopsis, from BN: 
Miriam Black knows when you will die.
       Still in her early twenties, she's foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.
       Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can't save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she'll have to try.

This book grabs you from the very beginning. The language is hilarious, and it doesn't hold anything back. In a way, this book is a breath of fresh air, even though it is filled with blood and bodies and bowel movements. This is what the world is like. It's disgusting. It makes you want to vomit. It has little things in it that make you smile, and that makes all the other things worth standing. The entire book needs its mouth washed out with soap, and I am so happy it has the same... colorful... language as his blog. My mom asked me what the book was about, and when I told her she said it sounded "interesting" and that she "would like to read it when I was finished, if that's alright." All prim and proper like. I can't wait to give it to her.

I love Miriam. She's everything I loved about Lisbeth Salander while still being tied to reality. She's a normal person, who get's stuck with this completely abnormal situation. She lived within these pages, and I'm sad it's over. Miriam had problems, man, just like normal people. But also, some non-normal problems. Finally an urban fantasy book that makes America seem like a real place, and not a Disney-book with fangs and guns. The settings were bottom-of-the-barrel motels, skeevy diners, disgusting trailer parks... it was awesome. Wendig holds nothing back, and I was glued to the book. Until I actually had to put it down once because I was getting a bit overwhelmed and grossed out, and I don't think I have ever done that. Sure, I've had those moments of "Wow, that was pretty gross," but they were always still just words on the page. This time... ew. I had to stop for an hour or so.

And speaking of over... I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU FUCKING ENDED IT LIKE THAT. That's it? Done? Actually, maybe I should be thanking you. My least favorite part of books is always the "we're making sure every plot arc is tied up" after the climax and resolution is done, and you're just flipping pages until you can get to the end of the book. So, I changed my mind. Good job. /rant

At some points the transition from one scene to the next wasn't clear. For instance, Miriam wakes up in a hospital, but I didn't know she was in a hospital, I thought she woke up a few minutes after the previous scene, and I'm reading along really confused as to how this all is happening right after what just happened, before I finally realize that it is a new scene, and it all makes more sense. There. Pros and cons. Balance. (Not really.)

All in all, this book was everything I wanted it to be. Gritty reality, and better-than-real-life dialogue. Definitely read it. I can't wait for the second book, Mockingbird, which OMGIJUSTREALIZED ITSOUTTHISYEAR. *yay!* August 28, hurry up! I bought this book on its pub day, and fully intend to do the same with the next. READ IT.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Read Seas Under Red Skies Read-along

Hi folks! It's time for another read-along! And I'm actually on time for this one, so there won't be five posts in a row all about RSURS. If you would like to join the read-along, comment on the post found here at Little Red Reviewer and she will add you to the e-mail list. Or you can just wait until the posts go up on Saturday to get the questions. But make sure to comment on the posts and the other blogs! That is the whole point, after all. A discussion.

I'm assuming this read-along will have the same crew:
Little Red Reviewer
Dark Cargo
SF Signal
My Awful Reviews
Lynn's Book Blog
Scott Lynch's LiveJournal

All posts for the RSURS read-along will continue to use the LLL read along tag.

Reading Schedule:
Week 1 Beginning thru End of Chapter 3, discussion questions go out Thurs April 26, posts go up Sat April 28 - Wk 1 discussion
- My post
Week 2 Reminiscence “The Lady of the Glass Pylon” through end of Chapter 6, discussion questions go out thurs May 3, posts go up Sat May 5 - Wk 2 discussion
- My post
Week 3 Chapter 7 thru end of Chapter 10, discussion questions go out May 10, posts go up May 12 - Wk 3 discussion
- My post

Week 4 Chapter 11 thru end of chapter 13, discussion questions go out May 17, posts go up May 19 - Wk 4 discussion
- My post

Week 5 Chapter 14 to the end, discussion questions go out May 24, posts go up May 26 - Wk 5 discussion
- My post

Monday, April 23, 2012

Irrepressible Library

Hi folks, sorry it's been slow around here. I'm buckling down on my WIP again, so it will probably continue to be slow. The good news is, I'm excited for it again! The bad news is, I took several steps back and so am no closer to completing a manuscript. But I had some good ideas that added to the conflict, character relationships, etc, and this time I'm getting some help:

I've tried to read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron before, but was always turned off by all the "God, God, God" in the book. I personally feel that God doesn't have anything to do with me sitting my ass in the chair as getting some work done. But I forced myself to read past it, and I'm actually getting some really good advice out of the book. Like writing three pages every morning, which I don't always do, and when I do it's never in the morning, but it's definitely helped me get past the petty worries of day-to-day life and focus on my writing again. Usually the first page is full of griping, the second page actually has some meaningful stuff come out, and the last page is full of "omg I'm so bored is this DONE yet." I'm not working on the book's timeline at all, but I enjoy it. It gives me interesting exercises to think about, and it ensures I feed my muse and be all emo-writer-like and play the part of writer. And it's WORKING. I have to give it that. And forcing myself to write nonsense is definitely stress-relieving, so that's a plus in itself. I was never one to keep a journal, but I can definitely see the benefits. And I get proud of myself when I flip through all the pages I wrote. *g*

I also bought 90 Days to Your Novel by Sarah Domet. Once again, I'm not actually following the timeline, but flipping through the book is giving me structure to approaching my WIP. For instance, I always thought writing out character bios would be helpful, but could never find the worksheet that was juuuuust right. So I never did one. Which is stupid. I finally worked through the worksheet included in this book, and immediately came up with a hundred new ideas for my book and several things to add to the worksheet of my own and a few things to ignore. So I solved my own problem just by doing it, which I should have done a long time ago.

Reading these two books together is giving me a good balance of fluffy-writer-muse stuff and pragmatic sit-my-ass-in-the-chair stuff.

 The read-along for the second Gentleman Bastards book starts this week! Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. The first one was super good, but this one starts out a bit slower. I'm sure it will pick up quickly, though. I love discovering a new series! And the third book is supposed to be coming out later this year... In any case, I should have the main read-along page up sometime this week. If you want to follow along, check out Little Red Reviewer's book review blog for the details, and the first set of questions comes out this Thursday!

We went on a beer trip this past weekend, which was a lot of fun! First Selin's Grove Brewing, always delicious (but they got rid of my sandwich, THE NERVE) and then Bullfrog Brewing in Williamsport. It was a ton of fun! We had homemade root beer from both places, so that was fun to compare (Selinsgrove's was much better, but for some reason the take-out container had an awful taste). But we stopped in a  used bookstore a few blocks from Selin's Grove and I found this awesome book! A 1907 copy (in good condition, too) of The Crimson Conquest by Charles B. Hudson. I've never heard of it before, and not only did I buy it because it was really cool and only $13, but I'm actually excited to read it! All about knights in shining armor and all that good stuff. I don't want to carry it around with me though, because it IS over a hundred years old...

That's about it for new stuff. I want to really focus on my writing, so that means my reading will slow down a lot. Maybe it will be a good thing, and allow me to focus on my own projects, maybe it will make me snarky and irritable from lack of good characters to do the snarking for me... It would be nice to reread some books.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Notes from the Writer's Desk

I realize that nearly all of writing a novel is just sticking to your guns. Can I just say that I have a FUCKTON of respect for all the people out there able to finish something? I don't care if it's the worst piece of sucking drivel with zero story elements worth reading. It's still finished. Which is a world more than I can say for myself.

My first problem is that I keep biting off more than I can chew. I keep rereading that awesome quote by Ira Glass, "Do a lot of bad work, your taste is impeccable, you skill has to catch up with your taste, etc..." but of course I can't find it anywhere on the internet right now. I have it printed out and pasted in my notebook. But my skill is definitely not up to speed with my tastes. I want my stories to have complicated interwoven plots and subtle characters and bangtastic settings, but they always turn out like an awkward and melodramatic sixth grader.

I come up with these grand ideas for a story, and then end up pulling half of it out. I keep reminding myself to start small, finish something, then move up, but I'm too impatient. I try to freewrite to discover intricacies of my setting, but I only feel like I'm wasting time. I'm trying most to ditch that habit. Brainstorming doesn't feel like I'm getting anything done, and yet it's absolutely necessary.

I'm currently breaking down the main plot of my book into the 20-block storyboard. I have a general idea already, but I am forcing it to fit into the template. Learn the template first, then I can break it. I'm trying to develop characters as well, because a story can't exist with only the protag, villain, and sidekick. Well, some stories might, but not mine.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Locke Lamora Read-along: Week Five

The final week! It was so tense! I think I held the book and inch from my face as I flew through the final chapters! I like books that have a doozie ending, and the forshadowing! The planning! This week's discussion is hosted by Lynn's Book Blog, and as usual be sure to visit Little Red Reviewer to read all the other posts.

My favorite interlude of the entire book: "Someday, you're going to fuck up so magnificently, so ambitiously, so overwhelmingly that the sky will light up and the moons will spin and the gods themselves will shit comets with glee."
"Oh, please. It'll never happen."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Locke Lamora Read-along: Week Four

I was doing so well catching up with the past discussions, and then the holiday weekend hit and I took extra days off work and I did fuck-all knows what and I didn't get any more reading done. That's okay, I did some quilting and finished Season 1 of Downton Abbey.

In Locke Lamora news: this week's discussion covers Chapter Nine through Chapter Thirteen and is hosted by @ohthatashley, who posts on Monday at SF Signal. Scott Lynch's AMA (Ask Me Anything) at the Fantasy Subreddit was rescheduled (sad day), and there was another "Thoughts on Scott" by Myke Cole posted. Here are links to all the bonus stuff posted on Scott Lynch's livejournal, more for my benefit than yours:
It Came From Burger King
Other Roads Not Taken
Early Visual Aids

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Locke Lamora Read-along: Week Three

This week's discussion covers Chapter Five through the Interlude called "The Half Crown War" and is hosted my My Awful Reviews. Also, My Awful Reviews has a cool series going called "Thoughts on Scott," where other authors chime in on Lies, such as Elizabeth Bear and Sam Sykes. Once again I am afraid to read other posts because I don't want any spoilers! I'm thinking I definitely need to read ahead when we get to the Red Seas discussion. Which better still be happening, by the way, because this read-along is awesome. Maybe I'll be smart and takes notes as I go, then again I may forget to eat and shower until I'm finished. After this, I have one more post and then I'm all caught up for the final discussion!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Locke Lamora Read-along: Week Two

I'm slowly catching up! Here's my post for the Week Two discussion of the read-along. This week's discussion is hosted by nrlymrtl at Dark Cargo, and covers Chapter Three through the interlude section titled "Locke Cries Over a Corpse." Before we get started, I'll admit I was looking forward to Locke showing some kind of weakness, and getting legitimately upset over the death of a friend. Alas, it was only another con. In fact, in this section we see how far Locke has come from the incredibly in-depth con with Don Salvara where he plays more than one role, to the much simpler but no less awesome first con of his. Also, I think it goes without mentioning that there are lots of spoilers in these read-along posts. They are a discussion, not a review (even though my reviews usually contain spoilers and turn out more like discussions anyway). So if you plan to join the fray, don't read my post until you've done the reading. Click here to read the rest of the discussions!

The Hunger Games

Phil and I went to see the Hunger Games over the weekend. I've read the book, he hasn't. Oh my god, it was so good. It completely enhanced the book. It went further than Katniss' perspective and gave of shots of the outlying districts, foreshadowing events of the coming books. I still don't want to read further in the trilogy, but the movie really layered on the themes. There are some things they didn't come outright to say, like Peeta being so into the games and aware that everything is "for the ratings."

It was a bit more violent than I expected it to be. The book is seriously violent and I knew the movie wouldn't be able to keep up with that when it had to keep a PG-13 rating, but they did a good job of making everything serious and horrifying with making me throw up in my mouth. I got teary several times in the movie, especially when Rue died! She was so adorable and that scene was so sad. One of the extra scenes of the movie showed Rue's district starting a riot and destroying the harvest and the gigantic HG television and attacking the police. It was very well done, and very heart wrenching to see the man (presumably her father) watching Rue die on screen surrounded by the whole town and then going straight for the police's throats.

Can I just mention one thing? WOW the Girl on Fire dress was cheesy. Talk about bad CGI. That's such an epic moment in the book, and it was laughable in the movie. The interview dress was bad too. I realize Hollywood can't go around lighting Jennifer Lawrence on fire, but still. On the other hand, I loved all the ridiculous Capitol fashion! That would make such a good Halloween costume. Which reminds me I never checked out the HG Capitol Colors nail polish line...

This made me really excited for the upcoming movies. I assume they're making them because this first one had to make a killing. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as Katniss, and Peeta was adorable, if two-dimensional, and GOD I have so many new reasons to hate this other character but I can't say who it is because P will probably see this and I don't want to give it away! THANKS A LOT. Not planning to read the other books, but maybe the next movies coming out will get me to read them.

“I am not pretty. I am not beautiful. I am as radiant as the sun.”
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

March wordcount

This month wasn't as successful with word count. It's getting more difficult to just belt out scenes, and I trashed a couple major scenes (but kept them regarding wordcount). I'm still plugging away. At some point I'll have something resembling a book. =] Since I didn't make my goal, I'm keeping April's goal at 20k.

Goal: 20k by March 31 (910 words/wkday)
March 1 = 0
March 2 = 479 (21,538)
March 3* = 173 (21,711)
March 4* = 0
March 5 = 491 (22,202)
March 6 = 1330 (23,532)
March 7 = 561 (24,093)
March 8 = 827 (24,920)
March 9 = 0  hiking trip
March 10* = 0  hiking trip
March 11* = 0  hiking trip
March 12 = 589 (25,509) 61% on task
March 13 = 1774 (27,283)
March 14 = 0
March 15 = 1190 (28,473) 74% on task
March 16 = 674 (29,147)
March 17* = 0
March 18* = 0
March 19 = 860 (30,007)
March 20 = 606 (30,613)
March 21 = 1043 (31,656)
March 22 = 765 (32,421)
March 23 = 167 (32,588) 8.5k left to goal
March 24* = 0
March 25* = 705 (33,293)
March 26 = 714 (34,007)
March 27 = 0
March 28 = 334 (34,341)
March 29 = 0
March 30* = 1002 (35,343)

MARCH TOTAL = 14,284
GOAL =  71.4%
WFR TOTAL = 35,343