Friday, August 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo Approacheth!

Since I am already ecstatic about National Novel Writing Month, I have been perusing the site (although it will be squeaky clean and new on October 1) and wishing for August to end so I can start brainstorming/outlining for my NaNo novel.

I'm taking a break from Violet's Monster this fall...Vol. I is in it's 7th draft (about 40% complete) and the second book is completely outlined. So at least some progress has been made. I think I'm just too tired to make good decisions about it so I'm leaving it alone for a while. Hopefully I'll pick it back up after NaNo and be able to finish the 7th draft in hopes of it being almost ready to polish for when I start querying.

NaNo is probably my favorite thing out of the year. Never mind Christmas, Halloween, or my birthday - NaNo is a MONTH-LONG writing party! So yes. I'm stoked.

I've known what I was going to write for probably six months, and it's been really difficult not to work on it. I've worked on another one-shot novel a little (book completely outlined/first few chapters written/edited/written) but I am so very, very excited about this book because...I only know the beginning.

I have the opening scene, the set up, and the inciting incident - but I have no idea where it goes from there! are the goals for the next few months:

September: Brainstorm for NaNoWriMo Novel
October: Rough Outline (completed-ish) for NaNoWriMo Novel
November: WRITE NANOWRIMO NOVEL!!! (50,000 words!)

I will write more about the novel later.

I'm also thinking I should probably get a few things published (magazine, newspaper, or online) before I start querying for Violet's Monster: Volume I. Just so they know I'm not completely starting from scratch! I've already got one story printed in a magazine, so I guess 2 or 3 more would be nice. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Attempted Writing, Attempted Reading, Attempted Attempts

Computer problems and a slide into a semi-depression have made me not so productive as usual. My computer will not open up my latest draft of Violet's Monster, so I resorted to outlining the next two chapters by hand yesterday afternoon.

Stress and a whole bunch of other factors have left me tired and sad and I don't want to see anybody until it's over. And also I don't feel like doing anything.

While I think I'll be snapping out of it shortly (Just got to get to August), it does aggravate me that all my attempts at productivity have failed. So far.

I'm about halfway through Violet's Monster: Volume I, and the bad part is I'm re-reading the entire Harry Potter series. I love them so much, but reading them while writing my first books is a little intimidating. It's encouraging that these were Rowling's first books and that it took seven years to publish (how is that encouraging? Well, it took her seven years, so I can relax and not feel pressured to pull a Stephenie-Meyer stunt!), but...reading her books is a little discouraging. THEY ARE SO GOOD. I know, I know, I'm not there yet and they aren't close to being published but...I'm on the seventh draft. I feel like that is a lot and I don't have so much to show for it.

So that's what the current struggle is.

I'm in the middle of a few books right now...I read:

Murder With Mirrors by Agatha Christie (I love her books!)

and I'm reading:

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery (old favorite)
Then Comes The Flood by Agatha Christie (haven't read it before!!)
Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (favorite, favorite, favorite)

I've got the rest of the Harry Potter & Emily series to read, another Agatha Christie, and then it's back to the library to find some more awesome books. And maybe some movies. :)

On to attempt another go at Violet's Monster: Volume I today. Sigh.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Re-workings, Readings, & Whatever

Never fear, I have been reading and writing/attempting to write for the entire month (almost) that I didn't blog...:/

I had a wonderful idea for the 2nd/3rd books of the Violet's Monster trilogy, but since it makes the tone of the series completely different, I'm going to have to re-work the first book ENTIRELY.

Now, while I am a wee bit discouraged, I am also excited. I think the idea I had gives me an opportunity to delve deeper into the psychology of my characters and allows me to explore several different topics. So in that case, I'm happy. My plan today is to read the 5th rough draft (rough draft no. 6 is halted) and see what I can keep and what I need to scrap.

I'm also going to try some helpful changes: to make me more interested in writing, I'm going to change the color of the "paper" (Word document) that I'm writing on, and I'm going to pick a fun font to write in. Hopefully these two things will keep me intrigued enough to keep going. We shall see.

I have been reading:

Hush by Jeff Loeb & Tim Sale (A Batman comic) - Fabulous!
Gunnerkrigg Court - an online web comic put together as a book - Very Enjoyable. :)

I didn't finish reading The Uglies trilogy because...well, I just got bored. :/ I was not invested in the main characters AT ALL.

I am going to the library tonight or tomorrow to pick up some books about Digital Art, as well as Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Bennett and the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery.

Next post might be on how to use the library. Or it might be on writing. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotsen

Eva Ibbotsen has been a favorite of mine for a few years now, ever since I picked up a delightfully illustrated copy of "The Secret of Platform 13." I had not read something of hers for quite some time, until I spotted "The Star of Kazan" at the library last week. It's 400 pages long, set in pre-WWI Vienna, and mentions the Spanish Riding School (the Lippizaner horse training academy)...and it's a world of its own.

Ms. Ibbotsen has a great gift for clear pictures of her world. It's like looking at an impressionist painting, but looking closer, you can see tiny bits of detail...

She's fabulous. And The Star of Kazan was so lovely that after it was over I wanted to cry.

The Star of Kazan is about Home, and the story is woven delightfully like a fairytale.

It's a bit mystery, a bit historical fiction, and tinged with fantasy.

Highly recommended. 9.8/10 just because I wish she had ended it with an epilogue detailing certain characters' marriages to other certain characters...:)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I realized yesterday what was missing in the Percy Jackson series.

Great children's literature has a THEME.

Take Harry Potter for instance - if you asked me what HP was about, I'd say "It's a story about love, sacrifice, and death."

Same goes for Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Chronicles of Prydain, and every other great children's story - they all have a theme that brings the whole series together.

If I was asked what Percy Jackson was about, I'd have to say something like, "It's about a boy who finds out he's a demi-god and in the first book...and then in the second book..."

There are certainly hints of where the books could have gone - Percy could have been about growing up, or betrayal, or family, or what have you, but there isn't a unifying theme in the books.

Not that they're bad stories. Book II is loads of fun and I adore one of the newer characters. They're really good, solid stories.

But they aren't great children's literature.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Harry vs. Percy

I finished reading the first Percy Jackson book by Rick Riordan last night. (The Lightning Thief) While I thought some of the ideas were new and really (REALLY) isn't the next Harry Potter.

For one, he used first person to tell Percy's story. FIRST PERSON?! Please. 3rd person is the norm (am I right?) for children's fiction for a reason. Percy's story was stopping and starting and I had to keep reminding myself that Percy was young and not a late teen or even an adult.

I think third person would have been a better choice, for the above reasons. It would have moved the story further faster, and it would have kept the voice of the author, who can be however old they choose without confusing the age of the main character.

I applaud Rick Riordan's ideas and I'm going to give the second book a go, but honestly, I can't see what the hype is all about.

It's an...interesting story. Or at least, it has that potential. Time will tell if it continues and grows into something more epic.

I kind of wish Rick had picked another name besides "Half-Blood" for the demi-gods. (And what's wrong with demi-gods?) That's not original. Rowling made up words that ended up in our DICTIONARIES. That's revolutionary.

And I know, not everyone can be revolutionary. But there are quite a few things Rick could have done to make his books better - I mean, he's got the whole pantheon at his fingertips! RE. INVENT.

Slower editing might have helped him, which is why I'm so determined to let Violet's Monster: Volume I go through several, several, several drafts before it's even ready to see an agent, much less a publisher.

Even Rowling suffered from quick edits. (And Meyer DEFINITELY suffered from a severe lack of editorial eyes)

I guess what I'm really trying to say is:

Percy ain't no Harry.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Update & SHOULD-Reads

My lack of keeping up with this blog is a tad bit disheartening, until I realize I've been doing SO. MUCH. WRITING. Then I feel a wee mite better!

I do have a post for today, as well as an update about what I'm currently writing.

My current project is writing a two-parter pilot episode for my T.V. series "The Gentleman's Lady." I'm taking part in ScriptFrenzy (sister organization of NaNoWriMo), which is held during April, and the goal is to write 100 pages of script (short movie, 2-4 t.v. episodes, a play, or a graphic novel) in 30 days. I'm on page 50 (I'm 15 pages behind) and although I'm not happy with the quality of my work, I've had to realize that this is a) my first shot at screen-writing AND b) it's the FIRST rough draft! So I've allowed myself to chill out and consequently wrote 20 pages yesterday. :/

No worries about Violet's Monster - I will be editing once a month all summer and into the fall as I look for agents. I actually can't wait to get back to it!

Now on to the post:

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you discover a gem in the library. A wonderful book that everyone SHOULD have read, but didn't. How do you discover them? Type in an author's name in the search? Go down the aisles and hope something jumps out at you? Follow a librarian's suggestions?

However you find it, you do, and you wish so much that other people shared your love of it. It's something to be treasured, talked about, and sometimes, you wish it was made into a movie JUST AS AWESOME as the book was (however improbable that might seem).

These, then, are 10 books that I personally think you should read (because you'll enjoy them immensely!):

1. Copper by Rebecca Lisle - a girl named Copper Beech? Who knits and has a talking wolf-teddy-bear? YES, PLEASE!

2. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner - this would make a GREAT movie, animated or live-action. A thief named Eugenides has to solve a centuries-old puzzle in order to find the greatest treasure he'll ever steal.

3. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi - while I have a love-hate relationship with Avi's books (some I love, some are just...dreadfully boring), THIS book is one of my all-time favorites (and I don't say that lightly). Historical fiction about a young girl who has a true adventurer's spirit. Classic!

4. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken - I talk about this one a lot but I haven't met a lot of people who've actually read it. This is my favorite from Joan and it would also make a great movie - escapades of two cousins and their friend Simon while trying to escape an evil governess in Olde England. Historical re-imagining at its finest!

5. Piratica by Tanith Lee - I'm not such a fan of her other books (and I haven't read the sequel - I can't abide sequels where they aren't needed), but this book is incredible - so many twists! And the coolest character's name: Felix Phoenix. What's not to love?!

6. Beauty by Robin McKinley - again, not such a fan of her other work, but this is the best re-telling of Beauty & the Beast I have ever read. And since that is my favorite story of all time, you should know just how great this book is.

7. The Golden Age by Kenneth Grahame - Although he's better known for writing The Wind in the Willows, The Golden Age (and its sequel, Dream Days, which I am currently reading after discovering its existence last week) is/are his best work(s), in my opinion. The story of five orphans and all the scrapes they get into, peppered with Greek, a ghost story, a romance, some laughs, and some solemnity. Maybe my second favorite book ever.

8. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming - forget the movie (it sucked). This book is CRAZY! Just the right kind, too. Mr. and Mrs. Potts (YES, he's married!) and their twins ride the channel in their wonderful car and surprise criminals in a cave that explodes! They help save a candy shop and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang protects them from being killed several times! It's awesome!

9. No Flying in the House by Betty Brock - I know, I know, I mention this one all the time, but it's an old one that people don't seem to read anymore! A beautiful little fairytale about a girl and her tiny, tiny white dog guardian who can do hundreds of tricks. Elegant, graceful, a little sad, and wonderful.

10. The Adventures of Tippy by Glanville Smith - I don't know if any other copies of this book exist (I've heard of two in my lifetime), but this is my very favorite book. It's a children's tale with a princess, pirates, and a peddler, who all end up at or around the Hotel Oriella for a glorious showdown. I found this book in a box after we moved, and neither of my parents had heard of it before. I have kept it with me ever since and read it over and over (I can quote the beginning). It's simply fabulous.

Happy Reading! Let me know if you read these/have read these and what you think about them. I ADORE book conversing!!! (Obviously)