Thursday, July 29, 2010

Teen Read Awards Reader's Choices Announced!

It took a few days to add up all the votes, but the 5th book has been locked into each of the ten categories. So, your choices for the first annual Teen Read Awards with the reader choice in indigo:

Catching Fire
The Reckoning
Along for the Ride

The Book Thief
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Catcher in the Rye
The Hunger Games

Vampire Academy
House of Night
Blue Bloods
Pretty Little Liars
The Mortal Instruments

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
New Moon
Whip It
Chronicles of Narnia

Before I Fall
Beautiful Creatures
Hush Hush

White Cat
The Maze Runner
Heist Society
Percy Jackson & The Olympians

The Necromancer
The Carrie Diaries
The Prophecy of the Sisters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow

Hush Hush
City of Glass
Along for the Ride
The Vampire Diaries: The Return
Vampire Academy 5: Spirit Bound

Sea Change
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
The Daughters
Breaking Dawn

Word Nerd
The Uninvited
For the Win
The Reckoning

Thank you to everyone who voted for Beautiful Creatures as Best All Time Fav and Wicked Lovely for Best Lip Lock. I think you're right, even if our choice didn't make it to the final five.

Go vote for Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl for Best New Writer(s). Win awesome prizes and if you're on twitter, make sure you follow @TeenReadAwards for extra giveaways like phone calls from authors!

Next blog entry will be when they announce what the Grand Prize is...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Last Tuesday morning, my step-grandfather passed away. We were expecting it. Had been half-expecting it since late February.

The funeral, burial, wake was this past weekend. It involved about 19 hours in car travel—including a return to somewhere I didn't want to have ever see again, despite that I sometimes dream about it. But the place I dream about doesn't exist any more; it's been swallowed by trees and time and spat out as something unrecognizable.

It's not my home; it hasn't been my home for a long time.

I have not written in three days.

I don't have any intention of blogging this week, except to announce who the Your Picks are for the Teen Read Awards.

That's pretty much it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Write Like?

So anyone who's been following me on Twitter knows I've spent the past few days fascinated with this website called I Write Like. It analyzes the writing you input into the field by word choice and style to best match it to an existing "famous" author.

Now I have tried everything. A paragraph. A scene. A chapter. But it wasn't until today that someone with a much more logical mind than I suggested I put an entire manuscript into the field. (Mostly because I assumed anything over 5000 words would crash the site.)

Here are the results of the analysis of the entire manuscripts (supposedly). I'll put them in order of 'completion.'

FRAGMENTS: Cory Doctorow.
SHARDS: H.P. Lovecraft.
TALE: William Gibson.
The Magpie Book (in progress): Cory Doctorow.

Now, is there anything to this? That's the real question. Because I've put in blog entries and gotten James Joyce even when I parodying Pride & Prejudice's opening line.

I can't say anyone has commented that TALE reminds them of William Gibson, because most of the people who've read TALE for me haven't read Gibson. It's also interesting that a mythic realism story is coming up as being in the style of one of the originators of cyberpunk. My guess is that the Japanese terms are being given more weight than they should be.

It's also intriguing that FRAGMENTS and SHARDS—which are two consecutive manuscripts in a series—generate such a drastically different result. Although they were purposely focused on being different kinds of stories. SHARDS is more of a horror story, whereas FRAGMENTS is more quest-focused.

But there might, just maybe, be something to the analysis that I Write Like conducts. When my agent first read FRAGMENTS, she told me afterward that it reminded her of Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. (Because of the Gamer element.)

Then again, anything like this should be taken with a grain of salt because I could get I Write Like to tell me anyone from Stephenie Meyer (Chapter 10) and Dan Brown (Chapter 26) to Neil Gaiman (Chapter 28) and Rudyard Kipling (Chapter 16) for parts of TALE.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garica & Margaret Stohl

Sometimes you wonder with a follow-up book if it can be as good as the first taste of that world. Especially when that first taste was Beautiful Creatures, which is quite honestly my favorite novel in the teen section. It is the most wonderful book, because it is full of wonder.

On one hand, I’m going to be inclined to feel biased about Beautiful Darkness. (Not only did I love Beautiful Creatures, I'm also very fond of its authors Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl.) On the other hand, the sequel has it so much worse because it has to follow that kind of an introduction. Rest assured, I promise you that Beautiful Darkness is every bit as good, if not better than Beautiful Creatures.

In Beautiful Creatures we lived and breathed Ethan Wate’s Gatlin, and got a glimpse of ‘Gatlin Below’—the Caster elements that lay beneath and beside the world we know. In Beautiful Darkness we see that the Caster World isn’t a metaphor or a secret society: it is a world of its own. And it is just as wondrous, rich, and real as Gatlin.

We also learn a lot more of the history, as this is the South and the past is only ever a step away from the present. Some questions are answered; some matters are resolved. A great deal more is brought into play, because it turns out Beautiful Creatures just scratched the surface of the Caster mythos.

All of this is shown to us through the eyes of Ethan Wate, whose story is never really content just being Boyfriend to a Caster Girl. (Although, being Boyfriend to a Caster Girl remains very essential to the story.)

Beautiful Creatures is very much a book of the Light, and Beautiful Darkness is a book of the Dark. These reversals play all through it, and they have staggering ramifications for the characters and their futures. If you recall how Beautiful Creatures ended, you know that Beautiful Darkness has to explore the aftermath of those events and the price that must continue to be paid.

What I love about the Caster Chronicles is how real the characters are. These are emotionally honest books—maybe the events are fantastical, but the way characters react and deal with the fallout is always grounded in reality. These remain examples of not just quality writing, but the truth of what fantasy can do: Hold up a mirror and show us ourselves at both our best and our worst.

Beautiful Darkness is a fine example of how we’re all a little bit Light and a little bit Dark, and it’s up to each of us to claim ourselves.*

*I love when E & L got that literal message in Beautiful Creatures. It was such a cool scene.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

End of June

Happy Canada Day!

Also Happy Release Day to Karen Kincy and her debut Other. Karen is this great young author (it's ok to call you "young," right?) who I met a few years ago on livejournal. (We bonded over fox spirits.) Having a read an older draft of Other, I'm so excited to get this book and see what the manuscript has become. So if you want to read a book with a mystery element, great characters, a cool Pacific Northwest small town setting, and lots of shape-shifting magic... this one's for you!

As for me, I've now got approximately 38,000 words written for the magpie book (that's actually what my agent calls it, although it does have a proper proposed title.) Which is the follow-up to TALE. We'll be going out in September with TALE, as I didn't want to go out during the summer. Mostly because I'd like to have the magpie book drafted when we do go on submission. (Just to make my life easier.)

At 38,000 we (the characters and I) are well and proper into the meandering middle of the book. Everyone has a span in the drafting process where the story is difficult, and mine always falls somewhere between the 25,000 to 45,000 word mark. Once I'm over that 50,000 word mark I know I can finish the draft.

Word Total goal for end of July: 60,000.