Saturday, February 25, 2012

Book Review: Feed by M.T. Anderson

Title: Feed
Author: M.T. Anderson
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: YA (science fiction)
Why I read it/how I found it: One of the books I could read for my writing for adolescent's class.


Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains.
For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a beautiful, brainy teenage girl who has decided to fight the feed and its omnipresent ability to categorize human thoughts and desires.

This book is, to me, an exaggeration of what consumerism and our technology could potentially do. I recognize it as an exaggeration, but at the same time, even slipping a little bit into this society that no longer cares for the planet or anything else but their new toys. In that way, it was very thought-provoking and made me look at our own society. It's very compelling in that way. I loved Violet's character, she was so vibrant and a breath of relief with the other characters who were...well, let's just say a lot like the people I didn't care for in high school. However, I didn't like Titus. He was pretty cool in the middle with Violet, but at the beginning and the end I didn't like him. There's one point where I really hated him. In this futuristic world, there's a lot of new jargon. "Meg," "unit," "mal," just to name a few. I had no flipping idea what a lot of those words were used for. I still don't know what "unit" is. When going into slang terms not known to the readers, we need some clues, but I didn't pick up on them. Not like with Scott Westerfield's Uglies. And rest of the language--so annoying. I get that he wanted to show how low society had sunk to have "like" and "was all" for dialogue tags, but when it gets distracting and annoying to the reader, it's not a good thing to use. I felt like I couldn't inject myself in the world at the beginning. In the middle and end it lightens out, so after the first thirty or forty pages it's fine. But those first few made me annoyed--and I'm from California, I use those phrases all the time when I'm telling a story.

Other information: M.T. Anderson's website is here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Two digits make a difference

Two days ago, I was nineteen. In a matter of hours that changed. I'm now twenty.

People make a huge deal out of eighteen and twenty-one, but so far, twenty is the big number for me. At eighteen, yeah, I was technically an adult, but still in high school and relying on my parents. I didn't have anyone to vote for, military branch to join, man to marry, desire to buy lottery tickets, infomercial products, or cigarettes. Twenty-one will be a big number for me, although probably not the way it's big for most other girls.

Still, twenty seems so large. Why hasn't it gotten recognition before? At eighteen and nineteen, I was technically an adult, but I still felt a lot like a kid. Now, twenty. I have a whole new decade ahead of me. Probably one with the most life changes (graduating from college, going to grad school, getting a job, maybe getting married and starting a family, maybe getting a publishing deal, maybe going on a mission, and for sure entering the adult world for real). It didn't hit me in my teens how much my life could change. Of course, I saw it as the fog in the distance, but now I'm in the middle of the fog, with a compass to point me but no way of knowing what I'll bump into along the way and how I'll need to adjust my compass because of it. I feel a lot of big changes coming my way.

But, for some stuff that was fun about my birthday yesterday:

  • Tickets for The Hunger Games went on sale and I got mine for Friday, March 23 at 12:01 AM. This fangirl is ready.
  • I actually ate out at a restuarant (skimpy college kid here...never mind my roommates treated me).
  • Starkid announced their next show, Holy Musical B@tman!
  • Prepared for three different midterms (oh wait...I said fun, didn't I? Scratch this)
  • Lots of messages on my facebook wall.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins

Title: Gregor and the Marks of Secret
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: MG (fantasy)
Why I read it/how I found it: The fourth in the Underland Chronicles.

It's only a few months since Gregor and Boots returned from the Underland, leaving their mother behind to heal from the plague. Though Gregor's family receives frequent updates on her condition, they all know Gregor must return to fulfill his role as the warrior who is key to the Underlanders' survival. Accompanied by his now-talkative little sister Boots, still considered the honorary "princess," Gregor joins forces with another princess--12-year-old Luxa--and Ripred the rat to defend the Underlanders and the vulnerable "Nibblers," or mice, from the rat army.

I feel like I say the same thing with these books. How great the characters are shaped, how the themes are so important, how high-action they are. Because it's all true! One fun thing with this one is that Gregor starts to get a crush on Luxa, which is just adorable to watch. It feels really natural to how a twelve-year-old feels with a crush. Also, this one digs deeper at choices that Gregor made in earlier books, and I think could create some pretty great discussion.

Other information: This is the fourth of a series of five. Suzanne Collins's website is here.

Friday, February 17, 2012

11 Questions...I've been tagged

Daisy and Sophie tagged me to answer some questions! So let's get cracking!

From Daisy:
  1. Favorite villain and why? Ooof, this one's hard. Because I am obsessed with it right now, I'm inclined to say Regina from Once Upon a Time. Mostly because right now I hate her the most, and that's what villains should make me do, right?
  2. What's the last book you read? Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins.
  3. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? Wow, there's so many places I kind of want to pull a Bill and Ted! But let's face it, I'm a pretty modern girl. I think I'd go to the 1950s because there's still indoor plumbing, swing dancing, rock and roll, poofy skirts, and glass Coke bottles.
  4. Would you rather have an unlimited gift card to your favorite bookstore OR a publishing contract but never be allowed to read any other books? UNLIMITED GIFT CARD. Hands down. I can find a way to a publishing contract, but if I can't read any other books? Not only would I fail my major, I don't know what I'd do with my life!
  5. If you were an animal, what would you be? A cat. I'm more introverted and if I could sleep for 23 hours of the day...yeah. That'd be pretty great.
  6. What's your very first memory? The first memory I know actually happened was when I was two and my little brother was born. My parents were informed that based off of the heartbeat of their unborn child, they'd most likely be having a girl (my mom never wanted to know the sex of any of her kids, but for some reason listened to this). I'd been led to believe that I'd be getting a little sister, so when the couple babysitting us informed us that we had a little brother I yelled, "NO! IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE A GIRL!" I was really mad and blamed my babysitters that I'd gotten a brother. (I am now very grateful that I got a little brother and not a little sister)
  7. Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Neil Gaiman, Judy Blume and John Green call.  They all want you to come to their house for dinner, but all on the same night.  Whose dinner invitation do you accept? Suzanne Collins. Suzanne Collins. I'm getting all wiggly just thinking about it (is this what Bieber fans feel like?).
  8. You discover a planet.  What do you name it? Well, I guess I should go along with the whole Roman thing, in which case I'd name it Minerva. I'd be really tempted to name it Kolob, but it wouldn't be my place to name it that. 
  9. What world/nation/city/place from a book would you most like to visit? Hogwarts (is there another answer for my generation, really?).
  10. Here's a million dollars.  How would you spend it? *note, I said spend.  It's a fantasy!  No saving!* Tuition. Books (but the fun ones!). Go to Europe. Remodel my parents' house. 
  11. On which reality TV contest or gameshow would you be a contestant? The Price is Right, because I would watch it on my days off from school all the time and I've always wanted to spin that big wheel!
And here's from Sophie:
1.When did you start writing? First grade at school, but on my own when I was eight.
2. Who are your literary heroes? (/favourite authors) Suzanne Collins, J.K. Rowling, Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
3. What is your favourite fictional character? Peeta Mellark.
4. What genre(s) do you write? I always say that I write YA and anything that can't really happen...although with my class that's proved to be false, so now I write everything!
5. What is your favourite book, tv show and film? Book: Mockingjay or Persuasion. Please don't make me choose. TV show: I'm going to go with Gilmore Girls since Once Upon a Time hasn't been on long enough for me to know for sure I'll always love it. Film: Probably Penelope. It's just so dang cute!
6. What is your favourite place you've visited in the world? I haven't visited many places, but I'd say Niagara Falls.
7. What is your favourite music? Hmmm...stuff like SafetySuit and He is We, but I like a lot of different kinds.
8. Have you ever written fanfic?/Opinions on it? Yes, and I think it's a fun way for writers to start out, but there are some things that just shouldn't be written at the same time.
9. Where is your favourite place to write? Anywhere comfy, with my music, and no one to distract me. So for where I am right now, my couch while my roommates are at school.
10. Tea or Coffee? Hot chocolate! (don't drink tea or coffee, sorry!)
11. Have you ever taken part in NaNoWriMo?/ Opinions on it? I tried once two years ago and failed. I think that it's great for people who need motivation, but for people who can finish stuff on their own time should spend their stress somewhere else. ;)

Here are my questions for those I pass along to:
  1. Redvines or Twizzlers?
  2. With your iPod/MP3 on shuffle, what's the first song that comes up?
  3. What's your least favorite book you ever had to read for school?
  4. You're the producer for turning any one book into a movie, which do you choose to do?
  5. What's your favorite youtube video?
  6. Who did you look up to when you were thirteen years old?
  7. Which food do you wish you could rid the planet of?
  8. Why did you decide to start blogging?
  9. Do you cry over books/movies/TV shows?
  10. What's one thing you believe in with all your heart?
  11. Flowers or chocolate?
And now, I tag:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Character Your Character Could Be Like

The following post has spoilers for Once Upon a Time, including the most recent one. Just in case you care and haven't had a chance to watch it yet.
Sadly, there aren't enough characters like Rumpelstiltskin as he's portrayed in ABC's Once Upon a Time.

He's not a moral person. Some would probably even call him evil. But the writers of OUAT know how to develop characters (these are the same people who did Lost after all). I've always been impressed with the characters on the show, but last week's episode blew me away.

You see, Rumple here has a heart. We knew from his previous episode "Desperate Souls" that he can love--he had a son before he did anything to protect. But what about the Rumple we first saw behind bars, jumping around like a madman? With the end of his origins episode, people (or at least I did) assumed that he just became evil after he took on the power of The Dark One. But now we know from this past episode he is quite capable of love, despite all of the bad things he did. Even after the more than twenty-eight years since he lost Belle, he continues to love her. He just thought at the time he loved his power more. 

Rumple isn't a good guy. But he's a rather sympathetic character when knowing his backstory. Usually I only root the the good guy, I've never been the kind to side with the villains. But at this point in the story, I don't see Rumple as a villain anymore, even though he does some awful things.

From what I've learned with Rumple's character is that you need to go deeper with your characters. Are they really all good/bad? (probably not). What made a specific character the way that he is? What about the character will surprise the reader, but still fit with her personality?

This past episode has really made me consider my own characters and develop them further. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is it getting hot in here? (bloghop)

When it comes to kissing scenes...well...I don't think I'm exactly where I'd like to be yet, so for this bloghop I'm going to share my Ultimate Favorite Kissing Scene Ever. For those of you who haven't read Catching Fire and wish to remain unspoiled, look away now.

My Ultimate Favorite Kissing Scene Ever is from Chapter 24 of Catching Fire. In case you need a little refreshing: Katniss and Peeta have been thrust into the Hunger Games again. There's no way (or so they think) that both Katniss and Peeta can make it out alive for a second time. Katniss wants Peeta to live, and he wants her to live. They have a conversation where they discuss this dilemma. I'll let Katniss take it from here. :)
"No one really needs me," he says, and there's no self-pity in his voice. It's true his family doesn't need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.
"I do," I say. "I need you." He looks upset, takes a deep breath as if to begin a long argument, and that's no good, because he'll start going on about Prim and my mother and everything and I'll just get confused. So before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.
I feel that thing again. The thing I only felt once before. In the cave last year, when I was trying to get Haymitch to send us food. I kissed Peeta about a thousand times during those Games and after. But there was only one kiss that made me feel something stir deep inside. Only one that made me want more. But my head wound started bleeding and he made me lie down.
This time, there is nothing but us to interrupt us. And after a few attempts, Peeta gives up on talking. The sensation inside me grows warmer and spreads out from my chest, down through my body, out along my arms and legs, to the tips of my being. Instead of satisfying me, the kisses have the opposite effect, of making my need greater. I thought I was something of an expert on hunger, but this is an entirely new kind. 
This is why I think this kiss is The Ultimate Favorite Kissing Scene Ever:

  1. This kiss has been having some serious build up. If you read even two pages before this, there is a lot of emotional stuff going on. Namely that they're both convinced only one of them can make it out alive, so they'll never be together again. At least one of them will die.
  2. It clearly focuses on their emotions. Katniss doesn't say anything about parting lips or heaving breathing or hands tangling in hair. The physical description is very minimal, but we get a lot about the desire and feelings she has during this kiss.
  3. Like Katniss says, there's a lot of kissing between the two of them, but this is the one that means something. For the reader, this is the "YES! YES! YES! SHE GETS IT!" kiss.
I hope you enjoyed this kissing scene, brought to you by Suzanne Collins. And if you so desire, I've rounded up a few of my favorite kissing scenes from movies/TV shows below.
Pretty much all of Snow/Charming kisses are the best, but here's just two, because that's how much I love this couple.
Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flash Fiction (blogfest)

Last day of the I'm Hearing Voices blogfest! This time around it's a flash fiction (>251 words). This is Troy again, from my Monday interview.

Today ended the war. Today the mountains became peaceful.
Today she married him.
I thought they would have fought with me, knowing the truth about him. But they told me to let it go, that we'd find another way. Morcant had proofed the castle so I couldn't penetrate it, with or without magic. I couldn't get to her.
Egan found me in Dunthur City.
"Come back," he said. "There's nothing we can do."
She had the necklace, though, as far as I knew. With the necklace, maybe she'd find me. Or maybe she never discovered the truth. Maybe she'd never remember me.
I'd always remember her, with her aspirations and flowers and determination. I remembered the first time I saw her, the first time we kissed, our last moment together.
I'd never know if she did remember. I'd probably never see her again.
Today she became the Queen of Thesland. And I was forgotten.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fourth Writers' Platform Building Campaign!

Rachael Harrie is having another Platform Building Campaign! For those of you who don't know about it, it's a super awesome way to connect with other writing bloggers, build your followings, and win sweet prizes. Find out more about it here.

Character Dialogue (blogfest)

These two are characters from my current WIP.

F: Ouch.
M: Don't wanna talk about it.
F: She totally just used you.
M: Yeah, well.
F: Do you really like her?
M: Have you seen her? Of course I like her. Every guy at school likes her.
F: So all guys go for the slut look?
M: It's her party outfit. She isn't like that all the time.
F: Mmmhmm. And the fact that she just made out with you to get with that other guy...?
M: Not technically a slut.
F: But still pretty slutty. I saw them leaving together. I guess they thought the party was lame with the whole parental supervision thing.
M: You just met her tonight, you don't even know her.
F: I can't believe you're still defending her. She can't be that pretty.
M: She's Alicia Norman.
F: Oh, right, how stupid of me to forget.
F: Do you really still like her?
M: Do I still wish we were making out right now? Yeah. Do I like her?...Not really. Not anymore.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Character on the Couch (blogfest)

I know that I usually post Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, but for the I'm Hearing Voices Character Blogfest I'm rearranging my schedule for this week.

For today, I need one character to answer a few questions. It was really hard for me to pick just one character that I wanted to do, because I'm editing one book, writing another, and in the stages of outlining a third.

But I finally decided to interview Troy, the love interest of FORGET ME NOT that is a little mysterious even to me. 

So Troy, take it away.

  1. What is your biggest vulnerability? Do others know this or is it a secret? People I love are my greatest vulnerability. I'm scared to love because of everyone I've lost. Not many people know this, because I keep people at a distance.
  2. What do people believe about you that is false? When I was in the castle, people underestimated me. They thought that I didn't have an agenda or a reason to be there, at least not anything deeper than what I told them. 
  3. What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw? Why? My best friend has forgotten everything about me. But if I asked her before, she'd tell me that I don't trust enough. I didn't trust her until she knew my secrets, and there are only a few more people I have faith in. I've seen too much wrong done to believe in many people.
  4. What would the same friend say is your one redeeming quality? Why? To her, my redeeming quality would be the kindness that I feel toward others, how I want to help everyone I can.
  5. What do you want most? What will you do to get it? I want Imogen. I've already done all I'm able to do to get her. I'm relying on my faith in her now.

Well...things have popped up in here that I wasn't expecting. I love interviewing characters!

What types of things have you learned about your characters you weren't expecting?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

Title: Everneath
Author: Brodi Ashton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: YA (Paranormal)
Why I read it/how I found it: Read it in part for the 2012 Debut Author Challenge.

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath, where immortals Feed on the emotions of despairing humans. Now she's returned- to her old life, her family, her friends- before being banished back to the underworld... this time forever. 

She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can't find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists. 

Nikki longs to spend these months reconnecting with her boyfriend, Jack, the one person she loves more than anything. But there's a problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who first enticed her to the Everneath, has followed Nikki to the mortal world. And he'll do whatever it takes to bring her back- this time as his queen. 

As Nikki's time grows short and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she's forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole's...

This book is so emotionally charged. The feelings between Jack and Becks (her name is Nikki, but Jack calls her Becks, so I like that more) are intense. There's so much hurt, love, and longing between them it rips your heart out. I loved the flashbacks to give us an idea of Becks's life before Everneath, and how all of that builds up to see why she decided to go with Cole in the first place. And while the choice Becks made was wrong and weak, it makes her a good character, who has human emotions that make her use bad judgement. Her struggle with her choice was absolutely heartbreaking, but I think had a good parallel with substance abuse. Both only bring in more problems and emotional trauma than dealing with the situations the drug users try to escape from. My one complaint is that it takes a while to understand the world and what's going on exactly with the situation Becks is in. There's enough of a mystery with the Daughters of Persephone and the bracelet that we don't need the mystery of Beck's time in the Everneath.

Other information: This is set to be released as a trilogy. Brodi Ashton's blog is here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


In my writing class, we talked about emotion a few class periods ago. How we accomplish making our reader, our characters, even ourselves feel.

I think that emotion can be one of the hardest parts for writers to accomplish, and it's the most important. All of the books that you read over and over again, that leave you anticipating for the sequel, crying when the series is over, it's all from the emotional tie you as a reader have to the book. There's a lot that comes into play with this, characters and plot, mainly, but the actual writing itself can be the most difficult. You don't want to sound too emo or sappy or hateful.

So as I questioned how we as writers can do this, I thought about music. Generally speaking, the lyrics that move us the most aren't overly emo or sappy or hateful (at least, for me they're not). Just look at these lyrics:

From Where You Are by Lifehouse
"I miss the years that were erased
I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face
I miss all the little things
I never thought they'd mean everything to me
Yeah I miss you
And I wish you were here"

This set of lyrics gives us a specific image by saying "I miss the way the sunshine would light up your face." You can see it. You can see a loved one's face tilted up to the sun, a smile, the happy feeling that's now been taken away. The absence of that happy feeling is what makes it hurt the most. These lyrics are so simply stated they make a big impact. There's no great metaphor for how he feels life is a black hole and there's no more joy in his life. It just simply says "I miss you and I wish you were here." How much more powerful is this than a hyperbole of depression?

Now, when I write emotion, I try to think of a great song that makes me feel in a similar way. Getting down to the sentence-level I've found has really helped me.

How do you try to bring out emotion in your reader?