Monday, April 30, 2012

Second,Third, Omniscient?

Recently, I listened to and enjoyed this book:

BLINK & CAUTION, by Tim Wynne-Jones

It had some unusual Point of View choices in it, including some omniscient moments.

The story used limited third, dual perspectives most of the time, but he used the pronoun "you" in the narrative voice, not to address the reader or the character directly, but when talking about the character's thoughts and actions. As in:

"You go to open the door, but..."


"You're thinking, of course, this kind of crap always happens to you..."

(these examples are made up, not from the book)

I read a few reviews on Goodreads. One person, Margaret, said: "...the tight third person switches to an omniscient view in which the narrator actually addresses the characters."

Yeah, maybe I do remember a few of these times, advice-giving moments like:

 "Blink, you should know better than to trust..."

(another made-up example, and not a very good one...the ones in the book were more subtle).

Still, I didn't feel like the character could really "hear" the advice. Just us readers, in a hypothetical way. And that still doesn't explain the "you" examples above.

Another person, called it second person POV, but I thought that was when you address the reader directly, and this book doesn't do that.

What about you? What do you think? Ever seen this before? What would you call it? 

Friday, April 27, 2012

More Thoughts on Voice

On Monday, I posted about how my writing voice changed because of an intense rule-following stage I went through as a writer.

Thinking on this over the week, I realized it might have sounded like I tried to change my writing voice. I didn't.

It also may have sounded like I'd recommend my process to other people. I wouldn't.

Voice is the part of every person's writing that makes it unique. A writing fingerprint.

Like the code breakers who were able to tell movements in the enemy troops by identifying the different ways each operator entered Morse Code, other people may be able to identify elements of different writers' voices, but that doesn't mean voice is something a writer consciously does.

In fact, most of the time, I believe thinking about voice is the last thing a writer should do.

I liked Rebecca's comment from Monday: "When I start to stray, I pretend whatever I'm writing is an email to my best friend--and then my natural voice magically reappears."

She's onto something...voice is something you should tap into, not actively work on.

Voice is also magic. It belongs in that unexplainable part of writing where everything we've internalized from our reading and writing experiences collides with who we are and the story we're trying to tell.

A magic formula that's different for everyone...and if we work on/think about it too much the magic might leave.

What about you? How do you think of voice?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Best of April

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:
What was the best book you read in April?
Wow. Have we really reached the last Wednesday of the month again? I blinked and there went April.
But I do have a long list of audiobooks I listened to (more about all of them next week). Today I need to pick a favorite.
I liked everything for different reasons this month...nothing stood out completely, but the one that surprised me most was DREAMLAND SOCIAL CLUB, by Tara Altebrando.

A girl discovers her roots when she moves to Coney Island, the place she came from but has never been.

It's a quiet story, subtle but still strong. The thing I loved most about it was the fact that the main character is Coney Island...where it was, is, and will be...a wonderful tribute to this unique landmark and the spirit it embodies.
What about you? Heard/read this one? What was your favorite April read?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hemmingway, Da Rules, and How I found my Voice

In this nonfiction audiobook, I heard a story about how Hemingway got his sparse writing voice.

Before he got published/famous, Hemingway left all his manuscripts on a train. Lost. No computer firewall to save them or backup flashdrives...just gone.

A writer friend told him to rewrite everything he could remember as quickly as possible.

And the rest, as Hemingway would say (as sparsely as possible), is literary history.

Hemingway's story reminded me of the unconventional way I feel like I found my voice:

You see, I used to LOVE long sentences. My high school Senior Comp teacher had us find the average number of words per sentence in one of our papers, and I had the most in my class. Twenty-eight, I think. Or maybe thirty-two.

So, when I started editing my first novel, I knew a lot of cutting and slashing would need to come first. For this I turned to Write Tight and The First Five Pages.

Because of The First Five Pages, and my growing hunger to get published, I went through a phase where I thought if I could just follow ALL the rules ALL the time I could create an unrejectable manuscript (Ha!).

Repetitions, to-be verbs, and adverbs became my mortal enemies, description got cut and scattered to create more white space, and I even avoided alliteration. Alliteration. Really.

I fought a war on the page, preserving creativity within the bounds of "da rules."

Untold pages/hours of revising/editing later...and with the help of my critique partner...I finally got a clue, but my writing was forever changed.

The incomplete sentence had become my friend. Flow came easier. And, most important, I sounded more like a teen than an adult with an English degree.

And that's how an overzealous preoccupation with "da rules" helped me find my teen writing voice.

What about you? Has anything helped/hindered your voice along the way?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Annexed- Fictionalizing Historical People

Last week, I posted about listening to Annexed, by Sharon Dogar. The story of the Anne Frank house from Peter's POV.

I've finished it now, and it was amazing. Hard to listen to, especially at the end in the camps, but amazing.

The author did take some historical liberties with the characters, and I was interested to hear what some of you might think about that.

First off, as some of you probably know (so it won't be a spoiler for everyone), Anne Frank's father was the only one who survived the Holocaust. So, the author did give Peter a more hopeful death than historically he might have had. I'm fine with that liberty, as it made the ending more bearable.

The part I'm having some trouble with are the liberties the author took with Peter and Anne's sexual feelings for each other. I do know there's a strong chance their relationship wasn't as squeaky clean as Anne portrayed in her diary, but there is a chance it was just as she wrote, and I'm not sure how I feel about putting different feelings/actions onto such a private matter.

Not that anything scandalous happens. Honest. The feelings they express and their actions, I'm sure, were fairly common for teens of their era and upbringing.

I'm also not a prude...I think it might have been nice if (like Romeo and Juliet) they would have at least had their "one night" together...they would (like Romeo and Juliet) both end up dying after all.

Still, it's not certain that the author's portrayal is how Anne and Peter really felt/acted. (unless there were some additional writings or testimony from her father that the author didn't put in the afterward).

What about you? What kinds of liberties do you think an author should/shouldn't take when it comes to historical figures?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday-The Prom

First off, sorry for the sad picture scan...I can't seem to save/edit them any different way.

For YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday this week, we're supposed to share our prom-dest memories.

The Prom! What fun! What freedom! What special treats! 

First, you have to understand the deprivation...Nowadays, girls wear formal dresses to middle school dances, but back in the eighties (for me, at least) the proms were it...the only two times I spent more than twenty-five dollars on a dress for a dance.

And staying out late? Well, for the Cinderella me, midnight was it. Always. EXCEPT on my two prom nights.

Ah, bliss.

And the planning:

-Dinner out before...also, not the usual for just any old dance (or date, for that matter).

-Pictures at various houses

-The formal dance- the only time we had a live band instead of a DJ.

-Afterprom- with matching casual outfits for dates (I know, how pukey sweet, but it was so cool then)

-The next day- canoeing my junior year and Kings Island amusement park senior year.

Ah, what fun. Did I already say that?

What about you? Prom- Boring? Bliss? Trauma? Heartbreak? 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Update-Editing Requests

We often think of writing as an isolated endeavor. But, as I got to acknowledge a few weeks ago on Road Trip Wednesday, it takes a villiage to raise an author.

With all my wonderful crit partners and beta readers, I digested their input and suggestions and tried to decide which things would make my stories better, even if sometimes I didn't agree at first. Then I made the changes I wanted.

In the end, it was still my vision, still totally up to me.

Then came editorial input from my agent, requested edits from prospective editors, and now from
my publisher's editor. These are different animals altogether. I've been lucky enough to have input and say during these processes, but now some of the final decisions aren't just mine.

(this logo is from a website, BTW)

The reality is, it takes a shared vision to publish a book with a publisher. 

This is for the best. I have confidence in those I'm working with and believe that the final product will be better for it, but it's still hard to give up total control of the vision.

What about you? Been through this yet? Dreading/looking forward to it in the future? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Latest Audiobook Love- Annexed

It just so happens, I have an ARC of this book I tried to give away last month and no one requested it:(

Now I'm listening to the book and finding out it's well worth asking for.

It's ANNEXED, by Sharon Dogar.

This is Peter's side of the story. Anne Frank's Peter. It's a darker more adult version of what they went through and has parts of what happened afterward also.

Amazing stuff. I'll put it on the list again for next month's contest and hope someone asks for it.

What about you? Any favorite reads/listens lately?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lucky Seven- Tagged

My agent mate, Kathy Bradey, tagged me to do Lucky Seven.

The Lucky 7 Meme Rules
■Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
■Go to line 7
■Copy down the next 7 lines–sentences or paragraphs–and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
■Tag 7 authors
■Let them know

Since I'm not sure my publisher will allow me to post anything from Cheater Beaters yet, I went through all my manuscripts and picked the best Lucky Seven stand-alone moment.

It's from my college-set book, One Hundred To-Dos. Okay, so even this one isn't totally stand of the things on Liz's to-do list is to collect seventy-five beer bottle caps. She was starting her collection the first time her and Greg met.


“No, he’s not.”

“Well, one thing’s for sure. That boy’s scalding hot for you.”

“Yeah. Well. That’s just a guy thing.”

Greg squeezed back through the crowd with three beers held between the fingers of one hand. In that moment, I saw him through Carmen’s eyes. Not broad or chiseled enough for pure hunk material, but the chestnut hair and dark complexion made him a boy-next-door chip off that block. I’d had better-looking guys come on to me—ones Carmen might even pant over—and I thought, Why him?

Then he smiled at me. Tug. Tug. Now I remembered, Why him.

Greg used the delicate coordination guys seemed to reserve for the handling of alcohol to twist off all three bottle caps with his free hand. Then he fisted that hand in front of me. I put out mine and he dropped the bottle caps, one by one, into my palm. As an added gesture, he reached into his pocket and pulled out three more. With each added plunk, he tugged on that invisible string between us. 

Carmen cleared her throat and reached for one of the three beers he still held in one hand. “Thanks.” She took a swig. “Nice to meet you, Greg.”


 Okay, now for tagging seven more writers...if you've already done it, please feel free to ignore the tag. Or even if you haven't, please feel free to ignore.

Julie Musil
Meredith Moore (after your blogging break, if you want)
Carrie Monroe (after your A-Z blogs, if you want)
Jaime Morrow (after your A-Z blogs, if you want)
Alison Miller (after your A-Z blogs, if you want...or maybe "L", for Lucky)
Laura Pauling
Patti Nielson

What about you? Done/seen this before?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Katniss vs Bella- In Retrospect (plus, contest winners)

First off, for my March How Many Have You Read/Heard Contest: Pam Torres and Chick Lit Girl. Check out next month when I have still more series/older ARCs to clear out in time for BEA in June.

Now, for those of you who didn't read THIS POST on Tuesday, I got a little riled about an article comparing Katniss and Bella as role models.

In short, some blogger in need/want of attention questioned Katniss's honor, so I flared up like a mama bear and took a few swipes at Bella. Poor girl, I doubt if the character would even consider putting Role Model on her resume...she was just living out a fascinating that happened to capture the imaginations of many, many, many readers and movie goers.

I, too, read Twilight...way back when we lived in the first year or two it came out. At the time, I didn't spare more than a fleeting, motherly thought to Edward's stalker-ish ways until other critics started going on about it...then I read the other books...then screaming crowds of Team Edward fans showed up for the movies, and I got seriously worried. We already have enough girls out there attracted to the "bad boy"...might this character, Edward, and Bella's blind, sometimes self-destructive devotion to him lead even more girls into potentially harmful/abusive relationships?

So, yes, I'd only considered Bella as a dangerous role model...albeit to only a small portion of the books'/movies' fans who would see Bella's "anything for love" attitude as something to pursue in their own lives.

Then Hunger Games arrived, and people's Team Gale/Team Peeta debate sort of surprised me...Who cares? There are children starving and dying in these books because of an oppressive government. That was what mattered to me, and what mattered most to Katniss...Okay, so maybe that's part sour grapes since I've always been team Gale...poor guy, never stood a chance.

AND, how amazing was Suzanne Collins to create this imaginary world that said so much about us and what we value/overvalue (consumer gluttony, violence, celebrities)...and where that might lead us if the wrong people someday took control.

Genius. Pure genius.

So, sorry Bella, I shouldn't have been so snarky, but vampire/werewolf worlds...fascinating as they might be...just can't compare.

What about you? What do you think?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday- Acknowledgements

This Week's YA Highway Road Trip Topic:
Who has helped you on your reading/writing/publishing journey?

It definitely takes a village to raise an author...or, more like an Internet.

Still, in my pre-online days, one Junior High turned High School teacher (I was lucky to have her at both levels) influenced my writing the most: Mrs. Wilson. The ten comma rules, a preposition song sang to the tune of Yankee Doodle (If, on, for, after, at, by, in...), diagramming sentences and "How long does our paper have to be?" Her answer: "As long as it needs to be."...these were just a few of her gems. But, more precious than diamonds, was her red pen bleeding all over my papers with the big 87-89s plastered at the top...I rarely got an A from her, but thanks to her I got A's from everyone else.

Other teachers inspired my reading, writing and acting (which does help with writing fiction): Mr. Hoke, Mr. McIntire, Mr. Kinsey, Mr., we really did have a great English Department in High School.

Okay, so fast forward many, many years. I did get an English Degree with a Theatre minor from Indiana University, which helped with my reading, writing and acting, but no specific teachers come to mind there.

Then I wrote my first book...a six-week rough raging hot mess. My first big helpers in revising were: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, Write Tight by William Brohaugh, and The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman (though, thanks to this last one, I went a little "rule" crazy for a while).

Then, I have to thank my mother-in law for being one of my first brave readers. Other friends and family members also braved the murky waters of my first efforts. Then came Doreen Height, a friend-of-a-friend published author who I linked up with online. She became my first critique partner.

After that came Critique Circle, a wonderful online critique site. Through them, I met Laura Pauling, Shana Silver, Denise Jaden, Pendred Noyce, Arlene Webb, Eric, Elle Strauss, and many others. What help! I learned so much from all of them!

So much that I landed my wonderful agent, Suzie Townsend. She got me a deal with Coliloquy. From there I met my editor, Emily Schultz, who's holding my hand through my first efforts at writing different plot pathways for a story...thank goodness, because it's way more overwhelming than I first would have thought.

Last but not least, all my blogging buddies who help keep me sane.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all!

What about you? Who goes in your acknowledgements?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Katniss vs Bella as a Role Model?

Katniss vs. Bella?

No competition


No comparison?

Thanks to Suze Reese for linking this article in her weekly I Heart YA blogfest.

I haven't entered into the whole Hunger Games buzz, other than a few blog comments and my own anticipation about seeing the movie (Next week, spring break. YAY!!!).

But this article got me riled.

I know it's natural to compare the two franchises, Twilight and Hunger Games, but beyond ticket sales and royalty checks, I'd say there isn't much else to compare.

Exhibit A:
Hunger Games is about an oppressive fictional dystopian society where many starve so few can live in luxury and 23 random children are killed each year for entertainment.

Exhibit B:
Twilight is about a fictional vampire family and a werewolf pack that both depend on remaining secret from the rest of the world.

The article, I think, makes my point instead of theirs:

Bella...does many things against both her own and everyone else's better judgment, like falling in love with a vampire, jumping off of motorcycles and cliffs, and generally becoming a depressive, whiney teenager. But nothing really depends on this. It's not important for her to act this way, except outside of her own emotions.

The article then criticizes Katniss for going along with The Capital's efforts to turn her into a celebrity...saying this makes her passive. But, HELLO, not going along with the games means she's more likely to die. DIE.

Meanwhile, not acting like a whiny, self-destructive teenager means Bella would be more likely to live. LIVE.

The stakes in the story are why Katniss matters as a positive role model.

It's not Bella's fault. Who knows what gumption she might show if you threw her into an arena for a fight to the death...I'll bet she wouldn't be moping about Edward then.

What about you? Seen this article? What do you think?

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Many Have You Read/Heard ARC/Book Clearance Contest (My March Listens)

Only two more months until BEA.  For those of you who don't know, Book Expo (conveniently located across the Hudson from me) is where I snag all the great books for my monthly contests.

The problem is, I don't always have luck hooking up my monthly winners with certain series books/Arcs I have. I also have some older ARCs that got lost in the shuffle.

So, this month (and next), I'm giving away six series books/already published ARCs. Anyone can enter for each book...PLUS, You'll get bonus entries for each of my March listens you've read or heard.

First off, these are the ARC/Books I'm giving away(I'm going to use Goodreads links to save on post space):

The Last Little Blue Envelope- Maureen Johnson (signed)
The Gray Wolf Throne-Cinda Williams Chima (ARC)
The 13th Reality (Book One)- James Dashner
The 13th Reality (Book Three)- James Dashner (signed)
Annexed- Sharon Dogar (ARC)
The Limit- Kristen Landon (ARC)

To win, let me know which books you'd like to enter for and which (if any) of my March listens you've read/heard.

My March listens:

YA Historical. YAY! My favorite March book. See longer description HERE.

Also YA Historical, with an alternative history/witchy twist. One of my debut author books. See longer description HERE.

Homeless girl as a cockeyed optimist? Trust me, it works.

Don't let the similar cover to BEASTLY fool you. This one is very different. Much lighter in tone, and the author weaves many relatively unknown fairytales into this story.

At the birth of the Internet, a girl stumbles on the Facebook page of her future self. Clever premise. If you liked this one, you should also read GIMME A CALL, by Sarah Mlynowski

Second in Sherrilyn Kenyon's YA version of her Supernatural Dark Hunter series.

Another Historical, Supernatural style. Lucky me.

I don't usually like anything mob related, but this supernatural version of crime families I LOVE. Check out WHITE CAT (the first in this series) if you haven't already.

Luxe #2. More Historical. Wow. I really did have an incredible listening month. This one is so much like Gossip Girl that I sometimes pictured the stars of the TV show in my head as I listened.

I'll be honest, this second part of the series started out slow for me, but it got much better along the way.

Contemporary Furies out for revenge. I also liked this one better toward the end, though further toward the end this time.

Was happy Melissa Marr managed to tie up everything, even the unsettling ending to INK EXCHANGE, all nice and neat with this final faery-world book.

Want some of the books from my series/ARC clearance?

The Last Little Blue Envelope- Maureen Johnson (signed)
The Gray Wolf Throne-Cinda Williams Chima (ARC)
The 13th Reality (Book One)- James Dashner
The 13th Reality (Book Three)- James Dashner (signed)
Annexed- Sharon Dogar
The Limit- Kristen Landon

Just let me know which ones you want. AND, tell me which of my March listens you've read/heard to get extra entries.