Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Reading Update!

I thought it would be fun to do a brief update about what I've been reading lately! I set myself a GoodReads challenge of reading 30 books this year, secretly hoping to read a lot more than that if I have any hope of making a dent in my TBR pile!

Annnnnd I'm ahead of schedule! I've read 17 books so far this year, two of which were re-reads (THE WINNER'S CURSE and THE WINNER'S CRIME, which I re-read in the wrong order because I was like "I only need to read CRIME, I remember CURSE just fine" and I did, but when I finished CRIME I needed more and KISS still wasn't out yet, so………)

Here they are (most recent listed first:

Surprise, surprise, my fave read of the year so far is THE WINNER'S KISS, which I do mean to properly review if I can even remotely manage to wrestle my feelings into words (and there are SO MANY FEELINGS YOU GUYS), but I've been immensely privileged to read many, many wonderful books in 2016 and I just want to hug the whole stack of 'em!!

Currently I'm in the middle of THE FORBIDDEN WISH (Aladdin retelling from the POV of a female genie, which is just LOVELY). Arriving in my mailbox today are: THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER and THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN.

Brb I've got some reading to do!! :-)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Writing Themes

My critique partner Jen and I were discussing the other day themes we keep coming back to in our writing. I think it's very telling of our passions—the things we love spilling over into our books—and also concepts that we find continually interesting, maybe even without realizing it.

A few of mine are pretty obvious: I'm a pianist and a reader, and I can't keep libraries or music out of my books to save my life! I have an enchanted library, a locked library with a hidden magical room, a huge library that isn't magical but is filled with vital information, a palace library haunted by a sort-of ghost (long story). In one of my books, music turns out to be the key to everything; in another it's one of my characters' passions; in another it provides a growing bond between two characters. I just can't get away from it!

I also seem to be fascinated by putting characters in a claustrophobic/confined/remote setting and seeing what happens when they can't get away from each other. One of my books is set almost entirely in a creepy old mansion on the edge of the sea. Another is in a high-tech tower in the middle of a city. Another takes place in an enchanted underground house. Another in a palace. I think maybe I like finding drama in the ordinary: an awkward dinner conversation; an accidental encounter in the hall (I seem to be obsessed with important conversations happening in hallways!!); a shouting match in a garden. It also forces me to find creative ways to include variation within such a confined setting—which is where that enchanted library comes in in my fairytale retelling!

Other themes I keep coming back to: friendships, friendships that develop into romance, parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, stories/myths/fairytales that turn out to be true. I also suspect I'm developing a thing for people who shape shift into animals, but that's only happened in three books so far (okay yes, it's a thing).

Something else I seem to write often are introverted characters, which I'm sure is a natural extension of being introverted myself. There are a few exceptions of course, but many of my characters tend to be very introspective, which forces me to push them out of their comfort zones so that PLOT can happen! (Poor things!) This leads to pitfalls in rough drafts where there's a lot of staring out of windows and crying. A LOT. :-D Thank goodness no one ever sees those drafts, right??? *shudder*

One other thing I like to experiment with in writing is structure. It doesn't always work, but it's led to me doing things like writing from the first-person POV of a blind character, making myths an integral part of the story, writing part of a book in past tense and part in present (for a very specific reason).

So there you have it! The ongoing themes I tend to explore when writing. What are yours?

Friday, April 15, 2016

April Sunshine Brings Second Drafts!

Oh goodness, I'm not going to get the prolific blogging award for 2016, am I? :-D

Apologies for the long absence! Let's see if we can get you caught up:

At the beginning of March I had the immense pleasure of meeting Victoria Schwab and Rae Carson! It was a lovely and inspiring evening, and in the signing line my BFF made me pitch my novel to them… which was both terrifying and awesome! I managed to stutter out something resembling a sentence in English—I think!! :-D

My BFF Jenny, Victoria Schwab, and me!
I've had a bad case of project-hopping-itis since the end of January—working on this revision, working on that revision, brainstorming a brand new novel that freaks me out but also fascinates me and I'm not sure I'm at all qualified to write…

But a few weeks ago I finally settled on finishing the revision of my East of the Sun, West of the Moon retelling I drafted during NaNoWriMo 2014. I'd started Draft 2 early 2015, but was very pleasantly distracted by signing with my awesome agent and revising that book with her.

Anyway, I buckled down, unraveled the confusing threads of the muddled middle, and yesterday I FINISHED Draft 2!! It feels soooooooooooo amazing you guys! I know the novel still needs some work, but I accomplished what I wanted to for the second draft, and I'm super proud of it (and super in love with it—it's giving me serious FEELS you guys).

Not sure what I'm going to work on next… there's another weird idea slowly gnawing at my brain that I might pursue, but we'll see.


And I think that catches you up! Happy April, and I'll see you again soon (you know, maybe!).