8:32 PM

Books Read in 2010 - February

Here's the list of everything I've read in the month of February. There was some really great stuff! If you have any questions on anything or would like to add your own comments about any titles, please feel free!

Uglies – Scott Westerfeld
Pretties – Scott Westerfeld
Specials – Scott Westerfeld
I Heart You, You Haunt Me – Lisa Schroeder
Need – Carrie Jones
Lips Touch – Three Times - Laini Taylor
Blackbringer – Laini Taylor
Silksinger – Laini Taylor
Beautiful Creatures – Garcia & Stohl
Tempted (House of Night) – PC/Kristin cast
The Fury (Vampire Diaries) – L.J. Smith
The Return : Nightfall (Vampire Diaries) – L.J. Smith
A Touch of Dead (Sookie Stackhouse) – Charlaine Harris
Hush, Hush – Becca Fitzpatrick
Fallen – Lauren Kate
The Dark Divine – Bree Despain
Incarceron – Catherine Fisher
Looking for Alaska – John Green
An Abundance of Katherines – John Green
Paper Towns – John Green

Oops! I can't believe I forgot to add this one!
Graceling – Kristin Cashore

4:41 PM

Teaser Tuesday

I am unaccustomed to writing fight sequences, but I don't think this one came out too poorly on a first attempt. I'm sure it'll be re-written to some extent during the editing process, but I figured I'd share it today as it's a little different than the other excerpts I've posted. Enjoy!

Kirin stormed out of the house. He couldn't stand to be in that small room with the human male and was unable to keep still when he thought of the injured Natalie resting in the room above their heads. He needed a way to work out his anger and frustrations at not being able to do more for her. While he was lost in his thoughts, he ran into a wall. Or at least he had thought it was a wall until he heard it grunt at being hit. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he saw Tamara, the female warrior who had greeted him in the village center when he brought Natalie in. He groaned inwardly, but then realized she could be his ticket to ease his frustrations.

“Have you forgotten your manners kitten?” she asked with a sneer while straightening out her tunic.

“Some people don’t deserve common courtesies,” Kirin replied, “besides, you were in *MY* way.”

“Do you think that being the son Samus will keep me from forcefully beating some manners into you?” she threatened him. Kirin, from his height of 6’2”, looked down at the small yet powerful package of Tamara.

“I hide behind no name,” he hissed, the rage flashing in his eyes. While he admired his father and all he had accomplished, he despised it when people thought he couldn’t hold his own and used his father’s name and standing to protect him. Tamara smirked at his reply.

“The kitten has some spunk huh?” she commented. “But let us see if he’s all talk and no action.” She quickly drew a short sword and thrust it at Kirin. In the blink of an eye, Kirin had drawn his short dagger and parried the blow. Tamara’s height helped her get a lot of extra power behind her thrusts and even though Kirin deflected her sword, he was forced to take several steps back.

Tamara let out a low whistle.

“At least you’re not slow,” she commented with a grin. “I don’t know how well you’ll do with that tiny blade though. We could just stop. You let me hit you once and we’ll end it.” Kirin spat on the ground.

“As if,” he growled. Tamara didn’t look surprised by his response. She shrugged her broad powerful shoulders.

“Suit yourself,” she said as she quickly spun and took another swing at him. Kirin jumped over the blade and took a swipe of his own, catching her in the shoulder. Tamara looked at her shoulder in disgust.

“Lucky shot kitten. Don’t expect to get another,” the warrior snarled as she charged in low. Kirin attempted to jump again, but Tamara anticipated his movement and quickly grabbed him around the middle and tackled him to the ground. Kirin lay dazed for a brief moment as her mass had knocked the wind out of him. He quickly regained his senses when he heard the familiar *snick* sound of claws being released. Arching his back, he used his longer legs to his advantage and pushed hard off the ground to flip both of them over so he would be the one on top. Tamara’s eyes grew wide at the sudden shift of power. Kirin popped his own claws and threw his hand down, catching a handful of her tunic and pinning her to the ground. He brought his other arm around and the glint of the sunshine off the small blade caught her eye. She knew she was in trouble. Just as he brought the dagger arching down towards her she thrust a knee up and caught him directly in the delicate man area. Kirin crumbled in pain. Tamara pushed him off of her and went to get up, but realized that before Kirin had rolled into a ball, he had had the chance to plant his dagger. She was pinned to the ground by the small blade. Yanking it out in disgust, she stood up and promptly felt a stinging sensation on her cheek. Raising her hand to touch it, she felt wetness there. Gingerly she probed the spot and brought her hand away. Her fingers were crimson with blood. Tamara swore softly. She had underestimated the kitten.

Kirin was still curled in a ball, cursing under his breath, tears streaming down his face. Tamara reached a hand down to help him up. He slapped it away when he looked up and saw it.

“That was dirty,” he hissed at her. She raised her eyebrows.

“You think your enemies are going to fight fair? Think again little kitten. When you’re fighting for your life, you will do whatever you have to in order to survive or save the one you love."

10:01 PM

Reading leads to rethinking

I've been doing a lot of reading lately (a bit more than usual..books make for good escapes ya know? Of course you know. I'm not telling you guys anything new...)and much to my delight, almost everything I pick up in the YA genre has a sequel or companion novel (or two!). This makes me soooo happy (I hate for a good story to end) but it also makes me think of my own WIP. I have been struggling with this ending for weeks now and I'm starting to think that perhaps I should change things slightly and leave myself with an opening for a second book. Being that it's soft sci-fi, there's a whole world left for my MC to explore and get herself into trouble, so we'll have to see if I can work that out. At the same time it makes me remember that "they" say "don't follow trends because it may not be trending by the time your novel gets onto the shelves". I don't think this is one that can hurt me though since I know enough to make sure that first novel is a good stand alone story. I guess we'll see where those characters lead me.

Coming later this week - a discussion on story mapping and graphic organizers. Helpful for more than short stories or should they be left to my students in the classroom?

1:19 PM

Teaser Tuesday

I think you guys know how this works by now: Excerpt from WIP, before re-writing or editing has been done, yadda yadda yadda.

Ryan walked over to the table and slammed his hands down on the top to get Xavier’s attention.

“What do you mean she’s gone? I noticed the Doublehead was gone, but I thought she had just gone for an early ride,” Ryan informed the other brother. Xavier’s head snapped up at this news. He stood up quickly, knocking his chair over and grabbed Ryan’s shirt pushing him back into a nearby wall.

“You saw she was gone and didn’t think to mention it to either of us?” Xavier demanded to know of his guest. Ryan placed both hands on Xavier’s chest and gave him a shove.

“Let go,” he warned the older boy. “I really didn’t think much of it. Figured she needed some space and would be back. How do you know that’s not the case?” Xavier let go, looking defeated he slumped back down in another chair at the table. Wordlessly, Collin handed Ryan a piece of folded paper. As Ryan unfolded it, his horrible sense of foreboding grew worse.

Dear Xavier & Collin,
If you’ve found this letter, you’ve realized that I have left. Please understand that I have not done this with the intention to hurt in any way. It’s just something I felt I had to do. You are always putting me and my needs ahead of yourselves and have given up so much in order for me to live comfortably. I decided that it was high time for me to put myself out there for your sakes for a change. I know you probably think I’m too young and weak in order to accomplish the important task of bringing our brothers back home, but I’m stronger than you think. Please have faith in me. I will bring them back and we'll be a complete family again. I promise. I love you both.
Your loving sister,
Nat

P.S. Please let Ryan know that I will be sure to find his sister and bring her back as well.

Ryan unconsciously crumbled the note in his fist. He was shaking with anger.
“Is she out of her bloody freaking mind?!”

12:17 AM

Who's vote counts?

Lately I've been entering a couple of contests here and there: Write a 250 word piece showing not telling what happens, share the first page of your MS/WIP, show us the first 200 words of your WIP and see if you can hook us. It's been fun and interesting to see what others think...but it's been frustrating as well. Some people seem to be loving what I've got, while others are confused because the opening leaves the reader asking "what's that?" "what's going on?"...which I thought was a good thing. The answers are all there, just a little further down the page/in the first chapter. It bothers me that some totally get that while others don't. I've changed my style a little because people kept telling me I was spelling things out too much. They said I should put faith in my readers that they will understand/be able to figure it out. Perhaps they were wrong?

So the question really is, who do I believe? Do I go with those who are getting it and enjoy it? Or do I believe the others who are struggling? Do I go with people who are just starting out like me? Or do I go with people who have published works? Maybe I should find a happy medium. I could work in some more things since in reality, my first page doesn't have to be 250 words.

I'd post it here and see what you guys think, but my faith followers...you're all kind of quiet ^_^ I guess I'll just wait and see when re-writes come up again and what beta readers think of it.

If nothing else, these contests are helping me grow that thick skin I'll need when the rejections start coming in...

6:49 PM

Giving it a chance

Let's say someone has recommended a book to you. They go on and on about how great it is and how much you will love it. It excites you and you put it on your list to read. When the day finally comes and you sit to read the book, you find that you just cannot get into it. Do you slog through and hope it improves? Or do you toss it aside and pick up the next book in the pile?

I've been in this position before. Sometimes I have tossed the book aside and moved onto something better (although, I can really only think of two books that I did this with). More recently, I continued to plod through the book and ended up being wonderfully rewarded with a great story. The book in question was Laini Taylor's FAERIES OF DREAMDARK BLACKBRINGER. I had read LIPS TOUCH THREE TIMES and enjoyed it so I figured I'd get right into this book as well. I don't know if it was that I didn't give it enough of a chance and was only reading in short spurts that was putting me off, or it was the accented language used in the book. I really wanted to like it. The art work is amazing and the story intrigued me, not to mention it had gotten rave reviews from others. Let me assure you it was not due to bad writing in any way, shape or form. Laini Taylor has a wonderful way with words, especially with her descriptions (I bet a lot of that can be attributed to her also being an artist with paints and such). I think perhaps I just wasn't in the right state of mind when I first started reading the book. I am glad that I continued with it because it really is a great and captivating story and I'm excited to read SILKSINGER!

So the moral of this post is to be sure to give each book a good chance before deciding to toss it to the discard pile. Even if you set it aside for a little bit and plan on coming back to it, it may very well be worth it, lest you miss out on a fantastic story.

1:40 PM

Followers?!

Oh.My.God. I've got followers?! When did that happen?! Ooh my first four followers! I will hug you and squeeze you and call you George! I hope that's ok because I already had the nametags made up...

Seriously though, it's extremely rewarding to see that I'm interesting enough to some that you are willing to come back and see what new drivel I have to spew forth.

I wish I had something I could give you guys as a prize! Hmm I guess I could email you you each a chapter of either my current work, or my two previous works. They'd all be unedited versions so you'd have to pretend not to see the typos or any grammatical errors (and not to think less of me for such things). Leave me a comment on this post with your email info (of if you don't want to leave your email, say so and I will leave mine instead)and whether you'd prefer the soft sci-fi WIP, the fantasy WIP or the paranormal romance.

I will leave this offer open for the next six followers as well so my lovely top ten will be rewarded. Thanks for reading folks. It seriously means a lot to me and I hope I can keep you entertained and pass along some information that may help you as well!

12:27 AM

Teaser Tuesday

Yes it's early, but it's still Tuesday! I was up writing so I figured I'd get it out there now. Here goes!

Natalie kept up a constant stream of chatter and they worked together to get the list of chores completed. She found it wasn’t difficult to act happy and enjoy the conversation as Ryan was witty and seemed to enjoy talking to her. She was having such a good time she almost forgot about her plan to milk him for information. She pinched herself hard to bring herself back to reality. She was on a mission here! She couldn’t let her outfit and preparation go to waste!

“So, I missed the rest of your story the other day,” she started. “Would you be willing to retell it to me?”

“About how I escaped and came here?” he asked while expertly mucking out one of the stalls.

“Yeah…unless, ya know, it’s too painful to talk about. I’d understand,” she told him and found that she meant it. She liked Ryan and didn’t want to hurt him in the process. She’d find another way to get to her brothers if need be.

“I actually had help,” he told her.

“Help? From whom?” she inquired as she handed him the water skin she had filled up earlier. Ryan graciously accepted it and took a big swig. He let out a sound of satisfaction before wiping his mouth and continuing on.

“Do you know what a Felinian is?” Ryan asked her.

“Felinian? Not a clue,” she told him, a puzzled look on her face.

“They’re a species native to this planet. They’re very much like humans except..they have a lot of cat features, hence the name Felinian,” Ryan explained.

“Cat…people?” Natalie asked incredulously, “Like..furries? Those weird people back home that dressed like animals and uhhh..do stuff with each other?” Ryan let out a loud laugh.

“Not exactly,” Ryan said through his laughter, “Besides, how would you know about furries anyhow?” Natalie found herself blushing again. Truth of the matter was that Josh, who was quite into the anime scene had found some furry porn and showed her one day just to see her shocked and horrified expression. She didn’t talk to him for a week.

“I uhh had a friend who told me what it was,” she admitted, not able to look him in the eye.

“Suuuuurrre you did,” he teased, “Ya know, you’d look pretty hot with kitty ears and a tail.” Natalie crouched down and hid her hot face in her lap. Josh had told her the same thing.

12:24 PM

Soon to be bald..

I am pulling my hair out over the WIP. I am so close to the end I can practically taste it, but it just won't come out! I think it's because I only have a vague idea of how to end it and it's just taking forever to get things into place for that final climax. GAH! It's just dragging and dragging and dragging.

That muse everyone talks about? Mine must hate me or decided on taking a vacation leaving me high and dry dammit! Next time I'm strapping them down to the chair. Don't they understand I can't work without them?!

*sigh*

Deep breaths. Lots and lots of them. I'm going to continue to push through, but I don't see myself being too happy with what comes out. Maybe if I stopped to bake some cookies I could lure the muse back? Or maybe I should take a shower. *sniff* Maybe I am a little ripe..

*sigh*

1:13 PM

Reading Aloud

I recently heard from some other authors about their practices of reading their WIP aloud to an audience of a friend or two for editing and feedback purposes. I had never thought about such an option and didn't know how well it would work for me. Considering my friends are pretty busy people and also possibly too nice to give me honest feedback, I didn't know if I'd have someone to be able to do this with. That's when an idea hit me, why not record it and listen back to it myself? While I understand this novel is my baby and I may be biased about things, I figured if nothing more it would help me hear the character voices and check the flow of the plot. I decided to use my completed MS The Other Side as my guinea pig. I've re-read it several times in the past but never out loud. Let me tell you, with just one chapter, I can already see how many things I need to change and how juvenile some of the writing seems. Maybe I'll re-record it and put it up here for you guys to laugh at (it sounds awful now as I'm sick and losing my voice). I would definitely recommend trying this yourself, even if it's just a passage and not a whole chapter. I'd also suggest reading to others as well if you have a willing participant. I hope it will help you guys better edit your work!

9:00 PM

Teaser Tuesday

It's that time again! Time to tease you with another excerpt from the tentatively titled RED DUST. Hope you enjoy! If there are any questions or comments, as usual, feel free to post 'em! (and uhh remember, the editing is minimal as I haven't gotten around to that part yet!)


Xavier had his back to her and was trying to lead the horse-like monster around the paddock, without much success. Natalie stopped and took a good look at the thing. It looked like any old horse from the backside up to the neck; tall and muscular, chestnut in color with a black tail. When you got up to the neck, well, there was more than one. This made the animal’s back a little broader than the typical horse back home, but not much. The two necks were long and the heads looked similar except that one had a white diamond shaped patch of fur above its eyes. Natalie briefly wondered if she’d have to give the thing two names. Lefty and Righty seemed appropriate. She giggled at the thought.

Her thoughts were interrupted when the animal suddenly reared up kicked out at her brother. Xavier fell back to the ground, the wind knocked out of him. Natalie broke into a run and hopped the fence. Before she could get too far, she saw Xavier throw a hand out in her direction.

“Stay back!” he warned her never taking his eyes off the animal. She could see his hand was all cut up and bleeding. She took a step forward only to have him warn her to stay back again. The animal took its eyes off of Xavier and looked in her direction.

“Shit,” muttered Xavier. “Nat, slowly climb back out.” She would have listened to him, but fear had paralyzed her. The animal’s four eyes were locked on her. She was sure it was going to charge her, stepping on her brother in the process. Suddenly she had the craziest feeling that the animal wanted her to approach it. Somehow, she willed herself to move forward. Xavier, hearing her footsteps crunching on the sand, whipped his head around.

“What are you doing?!” he asked, his eyes wide with fear for his sister’s safety.

“Shhh!” she told him, never taking her eyes off the animal. Slowly Natalie approached. When she got close enough she put her arm out with her palm up. One head dipped to sniff at it and the other followed suit. After they both had a chance to get her scent, the one with the white diamond on it, Righty, plopped its head in her hand so she could scratch under its chin. Natalie was familiar with this action from the horses they had had back home and she obliged the animal with a scratch. Not wanting to miss out on the action, the other head swung over and knocked its sibling out of the way so it could get the same treatment. Natalie chuckled at the behavior and murmured soft words to them.

“Well I’ll be damned,” Xavier commented from behind her.