Posts tagged young adult

Emulating the Greats—plans for 2011

There’s a quote from Anne’s House of Dreams that has amused me since I read it.

The trouble with Mr. Howard is that he’s a leetle TOO clever. He thinks that he’s bound to live up to his cleverness, and that it’s smarter to thrash out some new way of getting to heaven than to go by the old track the common, ignorant folks is travelling.

This can be applied to the publishing world, too, I think.  There are some people out there (I know, because I’ve run into a few of them) who think that the book they’re writing is so clever, so ingenius, so new, that agents and publishers will fall at their feet with offers and contracts the moment it’s revealed.  There may be tips and tricks to learn how to write better and how to self-promote, etc, but they don’t need these things, because they’re already inalienably brilliant, and their brilliancy shines from the very first sentence of their very first query letter, etc.

I am not, nor ever have been of that school of thought.  Well, no, I lie… maybe I was when I first started writing at the age of twelve, but a friend glancing over my work and reading the first paragraph or two aloud to my intense mortification proved me otherwise.  For me, the mantra has always been learn as much as you can—read the best books, and now that it’s available, the best author blogs that you can.  Find out what they did, how they think, and what the publishing world has taught them, etc.

And okay, part of this is because I’m a fangirl. What? I am.  So when I find an author I’m intolerably excited about (like Maggie Stiefvater, for example) I go looking up their blogs and things.  In Maggie’s case, I stumbled on The Merry Sisters of Fate, a blog where she and Brenna Yavanoff and Tessa Gratton each write a short story a month, offering them up as free reads.  Maggie told me herself how much this has helped them all in their writing, and just recently posted on how going through the “complete process” of writing a story as often as possible has taught her so much.

I have to admit, free reads are something I’ve been interested in for a long time.  My dear Wren & Marnie were an experiment between free read and blog fiction, which sadly combusted in my face, and I’ve offered a short retelling of Rapunzel, with the intention of making it more of a habit, but always failing to do so.  I think, though, that this has been because there has never been a deadline, or a concrete goal in mind.  So now, I have one.  Well, maybe I should say we.

Starting in January, Isabelle Santiago and I are going to be posting weekly fiction at Tales From the Hollow Tree.  That means two stories by each of us each and every month.  This is going to be a big challenge for us, but something we’re really set on doing.  It will mean stretching out of our comfort zones in a lot of ways, but we’re going to have fun and play with short fiction as much as we can, and we’re very likely to be including alternate POVs or teasers from our WIPs (of course!)

I’m really, really excited about this, and so is Isabelle.  I just hope the Merry Sisters of Fate don’t hold it against us.  After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?  Right?

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Book catch-up!

I’m way behind in chonicling my books, and I’m not going to be giving a full review for all twelve that I’ve missed thus far, but I’ll certainly tell you about a couple of them.

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

I really wanted to like this—I loved The Looking Glass Wars, and Beddor’s spin on the hows and whys Charles Dodgson was “wrong” about what Wonderland is really like.  The sequel though… I just didn’t enjoy it.  Beddor seems all-too taken with his own villains, and he enjoyed writing their scenes much more than I enjoyed reading them.  I found them to be a fairly sickening bunch, not even the type that are particularly enjoyable to hate, just plain vile.  They also seemed to occupy more than half of the novel, so the glimpses of the heroes that I really did enjoy… well they were still wonderful, but just not enough to counteract the bad taste the baddies were constantly leaving in my mouth.

Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black

Another disappointment.  I really didn’t know what to expect going into this novel—I came by the series at a big discount sale and decided to try it, and while it was a fairly quick read… I just didn’t enjoy it much.  The faerie world was evocative and somewhat seducing, but the human world the main character was a part of… well that seemed almost as much fantasy as the other.  Her human friends came off as bad caricatures of 90s punks, and while I know that kids can be pretty hard-boiled about some things, I just didn’t buy it.  Also there are just some things played into here that do not appeal to me.  One of the main characters is obviously on a path towards… well, something that I don’t particularly care to see.  I may finish the series, since I already bought it, but it doesn’t come highly recommended from me.

Emma by Jane Austen

I’ve already mentioned that this one was a struggle for me this go around.  I don’t think it’s the book’s fault, I’m just not in a place in my life at the moment to have much patience with Miss Woodhouse.  Which is odd, because before reading this, I would have told you that it was (because it really is) one of my favorite Austen novels.  I’m starting to wonder, though, if I could enjoy it again.  The first time you read Emma is fabulous, because you follow along with her thoughts and (if you haven’t seen the film adaptations or paid too much attention to them) you more or less think like she does, expect her to be right about things, and then you’re taken by surprise by how things turn out, just as she is.  The second time is always fun, too, because then you can pinpoint all the things she’s missing as she misses them.  The third time, though… it just didn’t seem quite as fun.  I knew all the steps a bit too well.  I did love Jane Fairfax more than I have previously.  I wish, though, that I hadn’t watched both the films (Gwyneth and Kate) right before starting this.  Maybe that was a factor.

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Just delicious.  I really can’t remember half of these books, so reading them again, a little older and able to appreciate more than just Gilbert Blythe (though I do still appreciate him quite a bit) is really a lovely experience.  I wound up copying down half the things Miss Lavender said to write them up in my quote book.  People don’t talk like this anymore… they can’t even really get away with it in fiction, which is a little unfortunate.

Lexi James and the Council of Girlfriends by Melissa Jacobs

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this.  The first third of it seemed mind-numbing chick-lit, with far too much detail about what every single character was wearing every single time they showed up on the scene… but it had a sweet, heartwarming, and nicely empowering ending.  Good stuff.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audio, read by Jim Dale)

I had never listened to Harry Potter on audio—I very much like hearing the actors’ voices in my head when I read voices—but my brother and I were setting off on a long roadtrip, and he wanted to freshen up his memory of the fifth book before seeing the sixth movie, and it was a lot of fun to listen to in the car.  I still prefer reading the books on my own, but as a group activity, the books on tape are lots of fun.

The Hourglass Door by Lisa Magnum

Sadly another disappointment.  This is being hailed all over as being “better than Twilight,” but I’m afraid that is just ridiculous.  I really wish I could say it was better than Twilight, because it’d be nice to see a college-bound multi-tasking, smart, responsible girl knock down Bella Swan and all her willingness to basically give up her life before she hits the age of twenty.  But while we keep being told that the main character is this fantastic, special, smart, strong girl… we really don’t see it at all.  I have some more nit-picky opinions about this novel concerning understudies and legendary artists and whatnot… but they’re a bit spoilery, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So yes, my reading of late has sadly not been of the most inspiring type, but I’m very much enjoying what I’m reading at the moment.  I’m continuing with Anne, of course, in Anne of the Island, and I’ve moved from Jane Austen to Jane Eyre, a revisitation to what really probably is my favorite book of all time… though Persuasion likes to vie for position.  I’ve also started (finally, finally) to read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, which all my friends rave about, because I’d really like to finish it before I see the film.  And while I’m only a couple of chapters in, it really is delicious.  Every line.

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Dramarama by E. Lockhart

Dramarama by E. Lockhart

I’m on a 50 Books in ’08 mission, and getting so close… finished 46 and 47 in the past few days. 47 was Something Rotten in Jasper Fforde’s fantastic Thursday Next series, and 46 was E. Lockhart’s Dramarama.

This is my second Lockhart (after the wonderful The Boyfriend List), and mostly great, but a bit too poppy and sparkly. I get that it’s a drama camp, but every character doesn’t have to call every other character “darling” the entire time. That got old fast. There was some really poignant great stuff in this, especially the character who feels like a “trick pony” for her parents, and the main character’s getting jealous over her gay best friend, even though she doesn’t love him in that way, etc.

The thing I didn’t like was that there was an obvious solid, satisfying ending that was hinted at and built-up towards, but then the story stopped short before the reader gets to see the main character have her epiphany moment, so it’s kind of a downer towards the end. (There’s a chance there’s a sequel in the work that I don’t know about… but from the Epilogue, I didn’t get that feeling.)

Also… Lockhart didn’t know half the Broadway she really should have to write this book, and it was all obvious stuff. Repeated references to some ten plays got a bit tiresome… but probably wouldn’t be as noticeable to someone who hadn’t grown up living and breathing musicals?

That being said, I’m passing it on to my friend Isabelle the first chance I get, because I think she’ll get a kick out of it, and it’s definitely enjoyable and worth the read.

On a Broadway-aholic note, I will say that she knocks Jekyll & Hyde a bit too much. If all she knows is the Hasselhoff interpretation, I can’t blame the poor woman, but that was a Colm Wilkenson role first, and Colm is not to be knocked.

And on an audiophile note, I got Roisín Murphy’s “Ramalama” stuck in my head every time I picked this up. It was impossible not to. Consonance does that to me.

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