Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Pardon me for a moment, but I need to gush about Shadow and Bone.

I finished it last night at midnight and I'm still experiencing a book hangover. I'm giddy with ALL the feelings!!!!!!

This is not a very coherent review so far.

I knew practically nothing about this book going into it besides I was in love with cover, it was vaguely set in Russia, and that a lot of people raved over it. It's kind of cool reading a book and having zero idea what it's about!

Anyway, so the story follows Alina, who finds out she is a Grisha (somebody who has magical powers) and gets taken to the palace to be trained. The Darlking, a powerful Grisha who's second-in-command to the king, thinks Alina has the power to take down the Shadowfold, which is basically this band of darkness filled with ravenous dragon-like creatures called the Volcra that enjoy feasting on human flesh. The Shadowfold divides the kingdom, and the Darkling hopes Alina can destroy it and rejoin the land. The Darkling is dangerous and intoxicating and fascinating. There's also Mal, the boy Alina grew up with. He serves as a tracker in the army, and their friendship is the force that drives the novel. And that's all the plot summary I can give for fear of spoilers!

The characterization, plot and pacing (I am in awe of the pacing, for serious) are phenomenal, the writing is lovely, the setting vivid. It's a fantastic, smart story, executed to perfection. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

ETA: My synopsis of this novel makes it sound kind of cliché. It's not. The story goes to dark, twisty places, and Alina is a fascinating, well-drawn character. She's flawed. She makes mistakes. She's not perfect. But I empathized with her in a very real way. Also, parts of this book strongly reminded me of an old favorite, Crown Duel, which made me love it even more.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Nook Love


That's right! A Nook GlowLight!!

So excited!!
I'm already completely head over heels! First book I downloaded was Pride & Prejudice (because you always need Jane Austen at your fingertips), second was Shadow and Bone (which I've been wanting to read for a while. Love it so far!). I'll be trying hard to control my downloads so I don't accidentally bankrupt us. :-D

Anyways, I LOVE this thing. It is just the best! Thank you, awesomest of all awesome husbands!!


Monday, July 21, 2014

All Along the Road

This long slow slog can get disheartening. Revision sucks. Rejections sting. Feeling like it's impossible to get to the next level—no matter how hard you try—is horribly frustrating.

But in the end, it's got to be about the writing. It's got to be about the stories inside you bursting to get out. It's got to be about your passion for the craft, your love for language and characters and story.

It's so easy to get discouraged, to want to give up. But don't you dare.

Keep fighting.

Keep dreaming.

Keep writing.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Drawer Novels

So I've been pondering "drawer novels" lately. You know, those books people write before The Book that gets them an agent/gets them published, etc, the books people shove into drawers that will never see the light of day.

You have to write lots to get better at writing. You just do. Which kind of means those drawer novels are like practice novels, except I don't really like to think of them that way. If you go into writing your first (or second or third or fourth) novel with the mindset that it's going to be crap and just practice/filler until that elusive Book that will really be Something, I think you're kind of missing the point.

I write because I love stories and characters, and I have tons of them in me that need to come out. But if I didn't believe wholeheartedly in every single one of my novels, I wouldn't have written them in the first place.

Since 2005, I've written six complete novels and three other incomplete ones, and it is absolutely true that I've improved as a writer since then. But even now, when I'm able to step back and look at those earlier novels and see their many flaws, I don't think they're completely worthless, or that their only purpose was in honing my skills. I still believe that those novels' hearts are sound, and that if I was compelled to revise/rewrite/reshape them, I could do something with them.

Granted, I have so many other stories to tell I don't know if I'll ever get around to doing that, but the point is (I do have a point!) that I am proud of every single one of my books, regardless if no one ever sees those earlier ones but me.

Those books have made me the writer I am, and I keep them proudly in binders on my bookshelf!

Nothing you write is ever a waste. If you don't believe your current project is something special—whether it be your first or your twentieth—why even write it at all?

Believe in your writing, in your characters, in your stories. Believe in those drawer novels. Own up to them proudly.

All the Novels I've Written Thus Far
From left to right: On Journeys Bound, The Rose Queen, The Whale and the Tree,
The Fire in the Glass, The Silver Crane, The Blind King (
unfinished), Seer's Song
Not pictured: The Last Garden (unfinished), Reader (unfinished)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

From the Mind of a Budding Novelist with Rather Strange Ideas

I don't know about you, but I had a lot of strange ideas when I was a kid. Stuff where I had questions about the workings of life and the world and everyday things, but instead of asking a qualified adult, I made up the answers in my head, and went with that.

Like, I thought that people actually died when they were killed on-screen in movies. And therefore I concluded that the people weren't actors so much as they were criminals on death row and that's how they were executed. You guys, I literally thought this.

We went on a lot of road trips when I was a kid. I always stared at the double yellow lines dividing the highways, and concluded that when the double lines morphed into dashed lines, the stripe-painters had obviously run out of paint.

I'm pretty sure I thought my parents were related. Not in a brother-sister kind of way, really. More like a Mom-and-Dad-have-always-been-Mom-and-Dad-and-are-therefore-related kind of way (I dunno. Made sense to me at the time).

And I was super confused when my grandmother came to visit from Michigan when I was little and my mom called her 'mom', and that didn't compute, because how could my mom have a mom?????

So anyway, now you know. A frightening glimpse inside my strange little mind…