Sunday, June 5, 2011

Things YA has taught me.

I’m sure by now most of you have read the Wall StreetJournal article by Meghan Cox Gurdon and have even taken part of the Twitter camping #YASaves, but for those of you who haven’t I highly recommend reading the article and voicing your opinion. 

But for the short of it, this article condemns any dark YA fiction as damaging to young adults  "If books show us the world, teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader – -or one who seeks out depravity — will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds." and even goes on to say "Alas, literary culture is not sympathetic to adults who object either to the words or storylines in young-adult books" and then goes on to suggest that "the book industry’s ever-more-appalling offerings for adolescent readers spring from a desperate desire to keep books relevant for the young."

Um… what? I’m sorry but the world is not always a happy amazing place full of sunshine and rainbows. That is not the real world, and it has never been the real world. As a society we are just coming to realize that a lot of these problems exist and need to be talked about, and we are not afraid to talk about them anymore. The article talks about the relevance of these subjects and even says that they can encourage young adults onto a self-destructive path. And that is simply not true. I am not going to bog you down with facts but millions upon millions of kids each year are dealing with eating disorders, self-harm, bullying, sexuality crisis, abuse and much more. Proving that these books are not only RELEVANT to the young adult reader but also NECESSARY, ignoring these issues will not make them go away and I believe that we need to talk about them. True it is not these are not easy subject to talk about but that is not a good reason not to talk about them. Books open our eyes; books give us ways to bring these things into the light and into open forums so they can be talked about. 

Silence is never the answer.

YA saved my life, YA has taught me I am not alone, YA gave me a voice when I didn't have one, YA has helped me to better understand my fellow man, YA has shown me that everyone has a story, Writing YA has giving me the voice I never had in high school, YA help me figure out what depression was and how to help myself, YA has made me more compassionate, YA has taught me about problems I never knew existed, YA taught me that is ok to be myself, YA kept me sane, YA taught me that it was not my fault, YA gave me an escape when I needed to get away.

I am 25 years old, I still read YA because YA opened my world and changed my life.

What has YA taught you?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's the Score Blogfest

Today’s blogfest is brought to us by Rosie Connolly @ East for Green Eyes and it is all about music! It's the “What’s the Score Blogfest” and for a music geek like me it was very necessary to do. The instrustions are simple “Post any number of songs, artists, composers, posers, who/whatever that you might want to include in the soundtrack to your WIP.” Done!

My WIP Born for This is a futuristic fantasy/ dystopia (for lack of a better word) aimed at the “New Adult” demographic (ages 17-27 ish) And like I said in my last post I love to write to music, I love finding music that fits my themes and every so often I find a song that fits a character or event so completely perfectly I can hardly stand it. And those are the songs I will be talking about today. 

And first and foremost is a song by Katy Perry called “What Am I Living For?”. This song IS my MC Calista (you can get the down low on my characters here) Now there are a million reasons I love this song but mostly I think Katy cheated. After all the first line of the song is “I can feel a phoenix inside of me” And my MC does have a phoenix inside of her (think totem animal) and is represented by fire and when I first heard this song she instantly had my attention. But it is not only that lyric that applies to Calista, it is every lyric. This song is the musical version of her story.  But this song goes beyond just lyrics to relate to my character, it is the tone of the song, this is not the Katy Perry we are used to, and this song is not a pop song. It is deep and dark but also has a feeling of hope.

The next song is “The Drumming Song” by Florence and the Machine and is about my other MC, Tullio, who is Calista’s antagonist for most of the book (have you seen the Avatar the Last Airbender cartoon? Think Zuko’s story line) and this song is pretty much what happens to him every time he is around Calista. And it’s not really a love thing, it’s an energy thing. They are drawn together because of what they are and for Tullio (represented by water) especially he has a hard time dealing with her, she clouds his mind and spins him around, she is the hot to his cold and he has a hard time dealing.  And he spends most of the book trying to clear his head of her.

Ok, I’ll admit it. My book has a little bit of a “love triangle” (actually it would be more of a love square, or a weird star. Since in the end all 4 of my ensemble all love each other in different ways.) But the song "Breath Again" by Sara Bareilles embodies the connection between Celest and Calista. They have a quick and fast connection in the book but Calista at this point in her journey cannot settle for what is easy, or what she needs. And Celest knows this and does not hold it against her and basically tells her “I love you, but you need to figure your shit out before I can even begin to be there for you. But once you do, call me.”  And this song is about knowing who it is that you need but not being able to choose them just yet but hoping that someday you will be able to be with them. And while Calista is represented by fire, Celest is represented by air/wind so in that way this song relates on an even deeper level. 

And for the other half of my MC’s love triangle, the Calista/Tullio side, who have an amazing energy together but just ultimately destroy each other “Love the Way You Lie” by  Eminem featuring Rihanna is the perfect song for them. Because this song is not about blame, it is about both people knowing they are poison for the other person but also to being able to let go of them.  And about half the time I am rooting for Tullio and Calista to work out this song reminds me why they never will. (also i think the video is amazing)

So that is that. Ultimately I am still looking for the perfect song for Evee and for Celest in their own right but I will know instantly when I find them. So in conclusion I will leave you with a song from Born for This’s companion book that is still untitled. This song is beautiful, but hauntingly so in reflection of what it means in context of the book. This song is for Agalia who is a woman represented by light, and this song in the back drop to her death right after her lover tells her not to worry and they will be able to save her, she kills herself as the only way to save them. “The Light” by Sara Bareilles.

Anyway, I love music and I hope you all had fun looking at my choices ^.^

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Heat Wave

Heat Wave By Richard Castle
My rating: 3 stars. I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something rating (and break down): 4 Stars (5 star:130/  4 star:98/ 3 star:50/ 2 star:18/  1 star:23)
Pages: 208 hardcover / 224 paperback
Buy or Borrow: at $13 for the hardcover and $8 for the paperback (on if you have seen the show Castle before then buy the paperback but if you have not then borrow the book
Description: (From A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.

What I thought: This is hard one for me to call, so much of this book rides on the fact that you have not only seen the TV show Castle on ABC, but also that you love the show. The author of this book is “Richard Castle” and this book is a creative way to tie the TV show into real life. I love the TV show Castle, so when I heard ABC had released books that Castle has supposedly written I was excited, I thought it was brilliant to tie in the books on top of the show's success. I really expected it to be the type of book worthy of Richard Castle's name, (especially since it has long been rumored that the ghost writers was James Patterson or Stephen J. Cannell since they have both appeared in several episodes of the show and have glowing reviews of the book on its the cover) a celebrated author who'd had 26 best sellers. However, it ended up being almost a book form of an episode, just with different names (that are ridiculous BTW, Nikki Heat? I mentally replaced Heat with Beckett every time I read it).

If you stop to think about what this book is “really” supposed to be, the beginning of a new character and series for Richard Castle (a best-selling author) based on a real NYC Detective I don’t think you can help but feel a little disappointed. This book could not stand on its own without the show, and that was the only real disappointment, and in that regard I think the ghost writer (or ABC, depending on how you look at it) really dropped the ball. I think that they should have given us a little more credit in our ability as readers to draw parallels between Castles “real life” and “real people” and his characters and know the difference.

Overall I think it was a fun fast little book, the writing was smooth yet tight and the dialoged was the same smart, biting and fast fun it was in the show, the characters are solid (even if they were the same from the show). The book is not bad; actually, the mystery in it is quite compelling. I just can’t help but wish that it was written at a higher level reader ( I know the book was made for a TV audience so they wanted to make is available to everyone, but I think that goes back to giving us readers a little more credit)

Will I read the next two books? Yes, yes I will. Because while this book was not perfect it was like reading a good episode of the show, which leads me to believe that the writer is a writer from the show, but whoever the ghost writer is, it is a fiercely kept secret, and no one is talking. When asked who really wrote Heat Wave, Andrew Marlowe, the show's creator, said, "Richard Castle. The roguishly handsome best-selling author of the Derek Storm mystery series. He's charming. He's a good writer. And I don't know why you're trying to take credit away from him. The guy worked hard on it."

What writers can learn from this book: Do not underestimate your audience, your audience is smart. They can figure it out and you don’t need to talk down to them or spell things out. They will get it. They are, after all, are not reading in their free time because of you. They probably read a lot in their free time. So you should treat them with the kindness and respect you like to see when you are reading. ^.^

Friday, May 13, 2011

Keeping your head space

So you may not know this about me but I’m a bit of a film nut, but I mostly blame working at the movie theater for that. Now, I’m not so much into film as some people but I get into what I like quite a bit. A little over 5 years ago my good friend Lindz introduced me to film scores, and it had been a process but I am in love.  But not only did she introduce me to film scores she introduced me to writing to them. And I have found it is the perfect way to set up in my mind the tone of a character/chapter and the best way to keep my mind in the moment.  And so I began to collect soundtracks, many to movies I have never seen even just so I have the music if I need it (lol). Now I have well over my fair share of soundtracks, well around 120 or so. and it has opened up so much to me it feels. I tend to not be able to focus very well but I find that even when I wander away and then come back to my writing if I have one of my play-list running I can get back into the bit so much faster than without.

I have made so many play-lists for different emotions or character combos but I noticed that I keep returning to a few soundtracks more than a little bit. So I decided to share so of the tracks that I feel best represent my WIP and the overall tone and feel I am trying for.

Serenity composed by David Newman - Funeral / Rebuilding Serenity

Fire Fly composed by Greg Edmonson - Inside the Tam house

Unstoppable composed by Harry Gregson-Williams - Are you in or are you out

Tron composed by Daft Punk - End of the line

Tudors composed by Trevor Morris -Anne’s final walk

What do you do to keep yourself in the right head space for the moment?  

Also stay tuned because on June 1 I will be taking part in Rosie Connolly @ East for Green Eyes “What’s the Score Blogfest” she is holding to celebrate her one year blogiversary. She is giving away some wonderful prizes! And it looks like a lot of fun! For her blogfest I plan to share the "popular" music I have picked out for my characters.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How do you start a book?

Today’s blog is because earlier today a friend sent me a text that said “I know this is out of the blue… but how do you know where to start a book your writing?” Now I am far from an expert in the matter but I was touched that this friend was seeking out my advice. And while I tried to give her good advice, you can really only say so much over text so I began to write this to send to her, and then decided it would make a good blog post as well. Because isn’t that a question we all have “Where the hell to I start to tell this story?”

Now I don’t want to talk about “tricks” for the first chapter. You know what I mean; amazing first sentences, starting with a BANG, keeping the reader interested, and posing questions. Those are all thing a first chapter needs. But what I really want to talk about is the fact that you have this idea for this awesome story, with awesome characters but beginning are hard and you have no idea how to start the story. Where and how do you introduce your story?

For me the start of my story began very organically. I was driving and I just saw the start of it and I literally pulled over to the nearest place with paper (boyfriends work) stole some paper and locked myself away and just scribbled the idea down. It wasn’t until a little later after a had the first chapter hanging around for a while that I began to think about how and why this was the start of my book and began to edit it so it fit a little better. But at the end of the day it was the same, just with a little more context.

Now I know that not everyone has an experience like this, so here are a few questions I think you can ask yourself to find the beginning of your story.

Who is telling your story? I think this is an important question because it solidifies your POV right away but also if you know who is telling your story then you know what is important to them. And if you know what is important to them then you can figure out at what point of the characters journey they would think is the start of the story.

How do you want to introduce your MC?  I mean first impressions are everything, so I think it is a good idea to think about the first impression of your MC. After all is they are an awesome kick ass fighter it would seem fitting to introduce them in a middle of a fight. That way there are no questions about your characters bad-assness. Alternatively juxtaposition is always fun. But untimely how we meet your MC will always be how they are thought of, at least a little bit, so it should reflect their character strongly.

Where does your story start? Now this question seems redundant but I think it is important to ask before you start. Did the story start before the first pages or does it need some lead up before their story starts? Do you want to throw your reader into the middle and then sort it out from there or do you want them to go on the complete journey with your characters?

Ultimately I believe that if you have an idea you should put it down on paper. If it is good then wonderful! And if it is not so good at least you learned what does not work and you can try another avenue until you find something that feels right.

How did you choose where to start your story?