Monday, September 17, 2012

My First Visit to the Revision Cave

I've often heard other writers refer to their revision caves. Although I've never felt the need for one myself, this week I started considering the idea. I'm currently revising two projects. The PB can be tackled in small clutches of time, I think because the story is short and manageable and I know the characters well. I can easily slip in and out of their world. The novel, however, is quite different. I feel like I'm dragging my feet on these revisions. I'm making some major changes, so I'm getting to know my characters in a whole new way. It's harder to re-enter their world each time something pulls me away. So I've decided to take a little blog break. I've picked out this lovely cave for myself.

What do you think? Isn't it pretty?! And the sound of the ocean - could there be anything more inspiring than that?! So while I'm away for a little while, picture me here scrawling endless pages, with my toes in the sand and the sea breeze in my hair. In reality, I'll still be behind a rather unmanageable pile of papers at my desk, letting the dogs in and out, fixing dinner, and trying to tune out the television from the next room. But, I won't be blogging, because that's one time commitment I can trim out for a short time. Although I will miss you all and I hope to make swift progress and be back visiting you all soon.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Novels in Verse Reading Challenge Update & My Take on a Star Rating System

I've been remiss over the past few months in posting my progress in the Novels In Verse Reading Challenge. While I have been reading, I've failed to write and post my reviews. Here are my abbreviated thoughts, and my take on a star rating system, for  The Firefly Letters, All the Broken Pieces, What My Mother Doesn't Know, What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know, and Waiting.

Photo courtesy of George Schick
The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba
by Margarita Engle
When Fredrika Bremer visits Cuba from Sweden in 1851, Cecelia, a young slave who longs for home, becomes her guide. She introduces her to the people, the customs, and the magic of the island. In a time when women do not have the freedom to roam, the journey they make together creates a bond that breaks cultural barriers.
This book is beautifully written, with characters and setting that are richly drawn. I give it this gorgeous purple, finely textured starfish.

Photo courtesy of Mary R. Vogt
All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg
Born in war-torn Vietnam and then living with a loving adoptive family in the United States, twelve-year-old Matt Pin cannot forget what he left behind: his mother, his brother, and a terrible secret. But Matt learns through the people around him - his piano teacher, baseball coach, and his classmates at school, that everyone has been affected by the war.
I give it this lovely star that illustrates what we can do if we come together.

What My Mother Doesn't Know
What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know
by Sonya Sones
Although I enjoyed the author's writing, these two stories weren't for me. A lot of "lusty crushes", raging hormones, and very little else. I've heard plenty of good things about these books, so I imagine teens can relate. Perhaps I'm just too far removed from those teen years to appreciate these two. I'm giving each of them this sparkly star shoe, because they obviously appeal to others, they just weren't a good fit for me.

Photo courtesy of J. Durham

Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams  
Photo courtesy of Scott Liddell
This is the story of a missionary family shattered by the tragic death of a beloved brother and favorite son. After distancing herself from her friends and boyfriend, sixteen-year-old London finds herself broken and alone, trying to cope with the loss while living with a mother who ignores her, a father who is distant, and a house full of blame.
I love Carol Lynch William's writing. Her previous novel in verse, Glimpse, is one I've read and re-read. She really knows how to make readers feel. I cried my way through this book and I'll probably read it again.
I give it the starfruit because there was a lot below the surface in this story, and once you've taken one bite, you can't stop. 

What was the last novel in verse that you read?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Closing Out Summer on a High Note

The last couple of weeks have been good writing wise. I discovered the hook I needed for my novel and pumped out 3,000 new words on the revision.Yay! This is big for me. It felt like this:

 When my usual pace is more like this:

And I was able to meet with my good friend three nights this week to write (and chat.) I always feel motivated when I get together with other writers to talk about our progress or even our obstacles, because talking them through can make them easier to overcome.

Another highlight was a visit to the local independent bookstore where authors Huntley Fitzpatrick and Kimberly Marcus were speaking. I've never been to a writers conference and I'm not much of a traveler, so unless they appear right in my backyard, I don't have many chances to meet with other YA writers often. So this opportunity had me pretty excited.

Huntley Fitzpatrick, Me, and Kimberly Marcus

 It was great to hear about Kimberly's experience writing Exposed,

 her first novel in verse. (Some of you know I'm currently revising my own novel in verse.) Kimberly was very gracious, and encouraging, answering all of my questions and showing genuine interest in my project. I may have talked her ear off. *cringe* I actually woke up in the middle of the night thinking "Oh no, was I obnoxious?! I hope not.

 And though I haven't yet read My Life Next Door,

Huntley seemed like such a sweet person that I wanted to read her book simply because I liked her so much. Added bonus: her book sounds amazing - and realistic contemporary is my all-time favorite.

 The format of the talk was great with each author asking the other questions before opening things up to the audience. Although my TBR pile is a bit overwhelming right now, I'm moving My Life Next Door to the top of the stack. And I'm already re-reading Exposed, because reading novels in verse always helps me to move forward with my own verse project.

What's at the top of your TBR pile?