Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Nanowrimo Starts Tomorrow!!!

I am sooooooo excited for Nanowrimo to start this year. This will be my fourth year. I absolutely love the adventure and silliness and pushing the boundaries that I find with this program. And, of course, all of the other great people who participate. I even put the little word count widget on my blog this year, which is kind of nerve wracking because it is so public.

I am having to stop myself from starting my novel early this year. This is the most planned that I have ever been (Which isn't saying much. The first year I did it, I had a vague notion of a character and realized after writing about her for three days that I had better come up with a plot soon or I was going nowhere). 

This year, I am writing about the ancient Greek mythological character, Clytemnestra. She is the original femme fatale and has always received a back wrap through history because she had an affair and helped to murder her husband - even though she was mad at her husband for killing her first husband, then their daughter, then coming home after 10 years with a concubine and twin boys...

This one will definitely be an adult novel, which is a departure for me as I usually like to write young adult books. I am feeling the need to get out all of my deep, dark, shadow muse type thoughts right now, and what better way to rid myself of these feelings than to put them on the page? I met an author recently at a writer's conference who said all of the thriller and murder mystery authors were the nicest people - probably because they were able to channel all of their dark thoughts onto the page.

Who else out there is doing Nano and how are you feeling about it right now? What are you writing? Do you have an outline and plans or are you winging it?

Good luck to everyone! Happy writing!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Whiteout by Ken Follet

Book: Whiteout by Ken Follet, 2005 by Signet, 405 pages.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
As a Christmas Eve blizzard whips out of the north, several people converge on a remote family house. As the storm worsens, the emotional sparks-jealousies, distrust, sexual attraction, rivalries-crackle, desperate secrets are revealed, hidden traitors and unexpected heroes emerge.

My Thoughts:
This is the first book I've read by Ken Follett and I found it to be an easy read full of action and suspense. I really enjoyed parts of the book, the science and technology seemed well researched and authentic and the stakes kept getting higher and higher. There is international espionage and intimate betrayals.

The timeline on the book was so tight that it keeps you reading. The story takes place on Christmas Eve and day after a high tech lab is robbed and the culprits find themselves at the owner's family home.

Toni was a fun character - I love her self reliance and abilities, that she takes responsibility and can take care of herself. She is almost too tough to be true, but that is also part of the fun.

I thought the romantic tension between Toni and her boss, Stephen Oxenford, a bit off, it didn't quite work for me.

Overall, this was a fun, tense, packed book and, though I enjoyed reading it, I didn't love it.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

YA Mythology Giveaway Hop

I am so excited about this hop!! I love YA Mythology books so much that I am even writing one myself that is set in ancient Greek mythological times called "Antigone: The True Story." It's still a work in progress, but I'm getting there.

Thank you so much to For Those About to Read and I Am A Reader Not A Writer for organizing this fantastic hop.

In the mean time, I'm happy to be a part of this hop and to offer the winner their choice of one of the following books.  This giveaway is international, so long as The Book Depository ships to you.

There are so many great YA Mythologically based books to choose from.  I've picked out some of my favorites and some that are on my to be read pile.  One winner will be able to choose one book from this list (or another book in the series, if you would prefer).  Then, be sure to check out the other great blogs in this hop - the list is at the end. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
You can choose one of these books. I've listed the first book in the series. You can choose another in the series, so long as it is less than $15 CDN. Click on the title below to go the the Goodreads description of the book.
Abandon by Meg Cabot
Everneath by Brodi Ashton
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
American Gods by Neil Gaiman 
The Hunt of the Unicorn by C.C. Humphreys
Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Evolution of a Query

I've been working on my query letter for my work in progress called Antigone: The True Story.  I posted my first draft a little while ago (here).  I wasn't completely happy with it, though, so I did some research and tweaking.

I found Elana Johson's blog and a post about writing queries.  She has a post where she advises writing your query in the voice of your protagonist, tense or person - just get the words out.  Then, after you've done that, change it to third person present.

So, I took her advice and re-wrote my query and I think it's much better.  It may still need more work, but I think I'm on the right track.

Here's the updated query:

Honour and scandal collide and the truth of history is definitely stranger than the fiction of myth in Antigone: The True Story.

Antigone is the famous daughter of an infamous father, Oedipus. Yes, the Oedipus. The one that Freud named a whole complex after. The one who killed his father and married his mother then stuck brooches in his own eyes in a rampage of shame and horror. However, being a dutiful daughter, Antigone leaves her home, her life in Thebes, her sister, and even the boy she loves, to lead her self-blinded and thoroughly disgraced father around Greece until his death.

The poets say that is Antigone's story, but there's more. At sixteen the gods start manipulating Antigone in her dreams, the snakes talk to her, and she finds herself blessed in a cursed family. While struggling to understand her gifts, Antigone learns that she is powerful, summoning ancient forces to heal the sick in a time of plague. However, when the Olympian gods' fickle whims ravage through her life like a whirlwind, devastating everything Antigone holds dear, she is forced to choose between living a lie or embracing her destiny.

Antigone: The True Story is a young adult fantasy complete at 65,000 words and is the first of a planned trilogy. I like to think of it as Sophocles' ancient Greek Oedipus plays meeting Kristin Cashore's Graceling

What do you think?  Do you have any query writing advice?  Do you have a great query?

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Book:  Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3) by Richelle Mead, 2008 by Razorbil, 443 pages.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
It's springtime at St. Vladimir's Academy, and Rose Hathaway is this close to graduation. Since making her first Strigoi kills, Rose hasn't been feeling quite right. She's having dark thoughts, behaving erratically, and worst of all... might be seeing ghosts.

As Rose questions her sanity, new complications arise. Lissa has begun experimenting with her magic once more, their enemy Victor Dashkov might be set free, and Rose's forbidden relationship with Dimitri is starting to heat up again. But when a deadly threat no one saw coming changes their entire world, Rose must put her own life on the line - and choose between the two people she loves most.

My Thoughts
I just love this series.  It's easy to read, but, at the same time, completely captures my attention.  Shadow Kiss is the third in the Vampire Academy series.

I like the new challenges thrown at Rose in this book and how this forces her to explore what she truly wants and who she truly is.  Rose has a great, dry humour and clever insights into her own behaviour. 

I like that her friendship with Lissa is evolving too, though sometimes I get frustrated that Lissa is so entitled and clueless.  And I especially like the dynamic between Rose and Christian.  There is also more of Adrian in this book and it will be fun to see where this goes in the next book.

This book has everything, suspense, romance, action, and good friendships.  I love the tension set up around Rose's duty to Lissa versus following her heart.  I probably liked this one better than Frostbite and am anxious to pick up the next book in the series.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Red Glove by Holly Black

BookRed Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black, 2011 by Margaret K. McElderry Book, 325 pages.

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Curses and cons.
Magic and the mob.

In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth — he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything — or anyone — into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion-worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue — crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too — they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone — least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed this second book in the Curse Workers series, though not quite as much as the first one.  It was still fast paced and exciting and full of cons and imagination.

I like Cassel.  I feel for him.  He so wants to fit in, but he's not sure where - at his private school where he is clearly an outsider? with other Curse Workers and the mob who want to make him into a killer?  with his family who have all manipulated him?  with the FBI who have their own agenda?  I like how he tries to do the right thing, tries to be a good friend.  I also like how clever he is.

I enjoyed Sam and Danica in this book and how their characters are developing.  Unfortunately, I didn't like Lila as much.  She's been cursed to love Cassel and so he can't trust anything she says or does until the curse wears off.  This does add to the romantic tension of the book and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the next one.

There are a lot of subplots in this book, which certainly adds to the feeling that there is a lot going on in this book.  Sometimes the main plot got a little lost.

One of the things about coming to a series late is that you don't have to wait for the next book to come out to see what happens next.  I can't wait to read Black Heart to see how this series ends.  I would certainly recommend this series to others, and think it will appeal to both boys and girls, something I enjoy in a YA series.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Getting Ready for Nanowrimo

Participant 180x180 (2)
I've just signed myself up to do Nanowrimo again this year - where you write 50,000 words in 30 days in November.  I can feel the thrill and anticiption.  And the fear.  I'm not sure what to write this year...

So far, I have always written by the seat of my pants without much of a plan.  I may change that up a bit this year.  I met with a friend last night who has a complete outline in a chart and a binder with sticky notes.  Hmmm.  That could be good too.  How do you write?  What's your best Nano advice?

Is anyone else out there writing.  Do you want to connect as writing buddies?  I'm Namaste.

I'm including my favourite Nano YouTube video song just for fun.  It still cracks me up.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada!!
 I know I have so much to be thankful for.  
It's been great having this blog and getting to know you all.
Can't wait to make more friends here.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Writing Queries

I'm so excited to be going to the Surrey International Writers' Conference in just a couple of weeks.  One of the things we get to do is meet with an agent, so I've been working on my query for my novel, Antigone: The True Story.  I'm feeling like the book is done, though I'm sure I could edit it some more (that's another story, when to stop editing), and am now working on my query letter.  EEK.

There are so many great resources for query letters out there - it can actually get kind of overwhelming.  One I found recently that seems to have lots of great advice is Nathan Bransford's site.  His articles are clear and thoughtful and have lots of practical advice.

So, I have been hashing out my query this morning because I got up early and couldn't sleep.  Here is what I have so far.  I would love any feedback that anyone has.  I would also love to read other queries and get links to your favorite query resources, so feel free to comment below.

Antigone: The True Story is a young adult fantasy novel, complete at 65,000 words, where honour and scandal collide and the truth of history is definitely stranger than the fiction of myth.

Over three thousand years have passed since Antigone lived and the gods have finally allowed her to tell the true story of her life. Not just the truth about her being a princess in ancient Thebes whose father unintentionally killed his father and married his mother, whose mother committed suicide and father gouged out his own eyes with brooches. Not only how Antigone, the dutiful daughter, left her life, her sister, and the boy she loves, to lead her disgraced father aimlessly around the countryside until his death.

No, this is the story of the young princess who is blessed in a cursed family. Antigone learns that she can call on the ancient gods to heal others in a time of plague, and can talk to snakes. However, when the Olympian gods with their fickle whims ravage through her life like a whirlwind and devastate everything Antigone holds dear, she must choose between living a lie or embracing who she truly is.

****DISCLAIMER:  I wrote this at 4:30 in the morning because I coudn't sleep and know the middle paragraph especially needs help.  However, some force took hold of me and convinced me it would be a good idea to post this, even in its unpolished state.****

Monday, 1 October 2012

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Book:  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, 2011 by Scholastic Press, 397 pages. 

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

My Thoughts:
This book falls under that category of "What took me so long?"  I'd seen reviews about Beauty Queens for awhile, but never picked up the book until a friend urged me to the other day.  Am I ever glad I did!  It has been a long time since I laughed out loud while reading a book, and I laughed several times during this one.  I loved the humour, the satire, the message, and the overall writing.  I can't recommend this book enough, especially to young girls who might need the message at the end.

Beauty Queens is the unlikely story of a plane full of beauty queens who crash land on a deserted island on their way to a pageant.   The book is told from several points of view, taking turns among the beauty queens.  We learn their histories - why they became beauty queens and how their home life and society has influenced them.  

There are stereotypes among the girls, but the reader will likely find something to relate to in nearly each of the girls on the island.  The characters are concise and yet still well developed.   I love the strength and ingenuity each of them shows as she develops.

Many issues come up, such as societal pressures and expectations of girls, the cosmetic and entertainment industries, eating, sex, language, the list goes on.  Libba Bray is an astute writer with a sharp wit and I will certainly be on the lookout for her other books.

Here is a YouTube video of Libba Bray and the book: