Monday, 29 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #4

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! My co-hosts, Alison Miller, KatyUpperman, Jaime Morrow, Elodie Nowodazkij, and I hope you’re looking forward to yet another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive for writing, revising, or planning your WIP. It’s also a way to keep each other accountable. Every Monday we’ll share our posts, keeping them brief in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and remember to visit other participants’ blogs to cheer them on as well. For more info on RSW and a link to our lovely stash of buttons, click here.

How I did on last week’s goal(s)

My goal last week was to put in twelve hours of work on writing, and I ended up spending around sixteen. During that time I tweaked a few things in Envision for consistency with its sequels. I finished rereading Engrave and did some further revisions on it. I reread a few chapters of Enlighten and started some revisions on it as well. I also did agent research and sent out one query.

My goal(s) for this week

I’m aiming for twelve hours of rereading/revisions again, and I’d like to send out at least three more queries. I also plan to paint my office and start getting it organized. I'm super excited about having a more inspirational work space.

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

He brushes off an emerald green stone with an expression of raw admiration that borders on reverence, his insides so beautifully bare, unmasked by this discovery. A pang of bittersweetness hits me. It seems unfair that for their deepest, truest beauty to be exposed, some things, some people, have to be torn open and gutted first.

The biggest challenge I faced this week

I was pretty exhausted again this week, to the point where I conked out a few times after supper. We’re still settling into our new home, so that continues to take up a lot of time and energy. I’m used to writing a lot on weekends, but living in a cool, new city also makes it tempting to do and see everything new instead of staying glued to my laptop.

Something I love about my WIP

Even though my trilogy is sci-fi, the tech in the story isn’t the heart of it—relationships are. It’s about what it means to be human, what it means to live and love in an imperfect world. Without those deep, layered relationships, the stakes in the story wouldn’t be nearly so high. I love that. A lot.

So how did it go for all of you this past week? Thanks again for the accountability and encouragement. Your comments are a real boost for us RSW hosts too!


Monday, 22 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #3

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! My co-hosts, Alison Miller, KatyUpperman, Jaime Morrow, Elodie Nowodazkij, and I hope you’re looking forward to yet another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive for writing, revising, or planning your WIP. It’s also a way to keep each other accountable. Every Monday we’ll share our posts, keeping them brief in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and remember to visit other participants’ blogs to cheer them on as well. For more info on RSW and a link to our lovely stash of buttons, click here.

How I did on last week’s goal(s)

Not spectacular. When I set my goals, I underestimated how long it would take to reread Engrave, book two in my trilogy, and overestimated by brain’s ability to focus right now. I got most of the way through my reread and did some minor revisions, but not as many as I’d hoped.

My goal(s) for this week

Because I’m working on three WIPs this summer and hopping around from task to task while I revise and smooth out inconsistencies between them, it’s kind of hard to determine specific goals, so this week I’m switching to a time goal instead. I usually treat writing like a job and put in several hours a day, but I haven’t fully settled into that again after our move. This week I’m aiming for twelve hours of work.

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

Intense

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Focusing was a huge challenge because I was overtired and distracted. I found myself rereading the same paragraphs over and over. I can’t wait until our house is painted and unpacked and organized (especially my office). I’d much rather be revising than trying to match upholstery and paint until my eyes cross. Has to be done though.

Something I love about my WIP

I love that at this midpoint (book 2) my mc is really starting to come into her own. She’s more assertive, and she’s figuring out what she wants. While I love plotting, I definitely have a passion for character development. It’s so rewarding to see how much a character has changed and grown throughout a series.

So how did all of you do this week? Great, I hope! Thanks for all the supportive comments you've been leaving. Even though it was a tough week, your encouragement helped me to feel less frustrated. :)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #2

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! My co-hosts, Alison Miller, KatyUpperman, Jaime Morrow, Elodie Nowodazkij, and I hope you’re looking forward to yet another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive for writing, revising, or planning your WIP. It’s also a way to keep each other accountable. Every Monday we’ll share our posts, keeping them brief in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and remember to visit other participants’ blogs to cheer them on as well. For more info on RSW and a link to our lovely stash of buttons, click here.

How I did on last week’s goal(s)

My goal was to ease into RSW with some rereading and to start working on a particular plot hole. I reread, ENVISION, the first book in my trilogy, fixed the plot hole, revamped another scene, and gave my query a makeover. I’m starting to settle into my writing routine again, so that’s a relief.

My goal(s) for this week

I’d like to reread ENGRAVE, the second WIP in my trilogy, and work through at least half of my remaining revision notes on it. I also plan to make note of any inconsistencies and continue to smooth these out between all three books.

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

Complicated

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Solving a tricky plot hole that got bigger every time I tried to plug it. After a Skype conversation with Jaime, I finally figured out how to fix it, while still keeping my WIP under 100k. Concentrating on that was really hard this week because we’re still unpacking and getting settled in (will be for a while).

Something I love about my WIP

I chose to go ahead and finish my entire trilogy even though I don’t have an agent, and I love that after over three years of working on it, I’m just as attached to it as when I first started. Infinitely more, in fact. Because I wrote it with no publishing prospects on the horizon, I wrote it for me. I finished it for me, and that feels incredible regardless of whatever happens with it.

Thanks for the encouraging comments all of you left last week! They were a real motivator! Good luck to everyone on your goals this week!


Monday, 8 June 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! Week #1

Welcome back to Ready. Set. WRITE! My co-hosts, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Jaime Morrow, Elodie Nowodazkij, and I hope you’re looking forward to yet another productive summer! If you’re new this year and you’re wondering what RSW is all about, it’s a summer long writing intensive for writing, revising, or planning your WIP. It's also a way to keep each other accountable. Every Monday we'll share our posts, keeping them brief (ie 2-3 lines per heading) in order to maximize our writing time and minimize on blogging. Sign up on the linky at one of the host blogs each week, and remember to visit other participants' blogs to cheer them on as well. For more info on RSW click here. To snag some of our lovely buttons, see the RSW 2015 tab above.

WAIT THERE'S MORE! We'll be hosting RSW giveaways in July and at the end of August, so be sure to enter for a chance to win a writer's care package. If your motivation needs a boost, join in our RSW Twitter parties (#RSWrite). Tweet @ENowodazkij to have your name added to our Twitter list. STAY TUNED for details on "Manicures and Manucripts," a fun event to close off RSW and reward ourselves (and our poor overworked fingers) after a summer of non-stop writing/typing! 

My goal(s) for this week

To get back into the swing of writing after a cross-country move. It’s been a whole (insanely busy) month since I've done any writing, so I need to establish a new routine in my new surroundings. I plan to ease into RSW with some rereading and hopefully start fixing a particular plot hole that’s been nagging me for ages. Kind of a vague goal, but I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to tackle this week, and I need to get a good grasp on my WIPs again. This is my week for reacquainting, reorganizing, and rolling up my sleeves before digging in.

Here’s the complete list of headings for NEXT WEEK:

How I did on last week’s goal(s)
My goal(s) for this week
A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised
The biggest challenge I faced this week
Something I love about my WIP


Monday, 25 May 2015

Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015

Seeing as my lovely co-host and thinker-upper of RSW, Alison Miller, summed up all the details for our summer writing intensive so nicely, I swiped her post. Take it away, Alison…

Are you ready for READY. SET. WRITE!?

For the past two summers, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, Jaime Morrow,Elodie Nowodazkij and I have been hosting READY. SET. WRITE! It’s always so much fun and we all seem to accomplish mucho. Clearly we’d be idiots not to host it again so we are. For anyone who missed out last time, Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, or revising. We set goals, write/revise/plan like crazy, and keep one another accountable.  

Here’s how it’s all going to go down. 

1) This summer we’ll continue checking in on Mondays. The start of the week feels sort of appropriate for goal-setting, like laying the groundwork for an awesome week of writing. So, every Monday from June 8th to August 31, we’ll start off the week by updating each other on what we accomplished and then setting goals for the new week.

2) To help with said updates, we’re going to use headings in the weekly posts. Using headings should allow for a quicker and more concise rundown and will give other participants specific ways to offer encouragement.

Here are the headings:

●How I did on last week’s goal(s)

●My goal(s) for this week

●A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

●The biggest challenge I faced this week (ie finding time to write, getting sick, having writer’s block, etc)

●Something I love about my WIP 

Accountability and goal setting are super important, but we don’t want RSW to detract from writing, which is, of course, the whole point of this summer intensive.  To that end, WE are going to keep our updates concise—limiting our answers for each heading above to 2-3 lines, and we encourage you to do the same. Save the words for the WIPs, ya know?

Each Monday there will be a linky signup posted on all of the host blogs. Just leave the link to your check-in post, hop around to other participants’ blogs, and spread encouragement around like sunscreen. (This is a summer writing intensive after all.

On Monday June 8, we’re going to kick things off with a post of our first weekly goals, and we encourage you to do the same! That day, post your weekly/summer goals, sign up on the linky on one of the hosts’ blogs, and then hopefully have a super productive week. Then, each Monday after that, we’ll post updates using the headings above, link posts to the linky thing, encourage one another, and then . . . MORE WRITING.

We’re SO EXCITED, guys! Just like last summer, we’re going to have Twitter parties (using the hashtag #RSW2015) and giveaways and SO MUCH FUN. And writing. ALL THE WRITING. And… AND there are RSW 2015 buttons! WE HAVE ALL THE BUTTONS (Thank you, Jaime!) Choose one, choose them all, and use them as your RSW heading.

See the RSW 2015 tab above to save these buttons and other versions of them.

We hope you can join us back here on June 8 for an awesome summer of writing!



Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Currently...

It’s been a while since I blogged, so this week I thought I’d try a “Currently” post. Thanks Katy Upperman for passing this fun idea along!

Loving:

This pretty bouquet my hubby gave me for our anniversary.


 Reading:

I just finished Free to Fall by Lauren Miller. While I really enjoyed it, I’m also a little bit bummed. It’s an awful lot like my WIP, Envision, which I’m hoping to start querying again very soon (although mine is darker and has more action & romance). Maybe a comp title? We’ll see. Now I’m reading Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis.


 Watching:

This past weekend, we went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Loved it. No surprise there. My latest favourite show is iZombie. Can’t get enough of it. If you enjoyed Veronica Mars, definitely give this one a try. We finished watching The Good Wife and Arrow for this season. Now we’re catching up on Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Murdoch Mysteries, and Damages.


Listening to:

M83 has been the background for all my packing and cleaning endeavors lately.


 Thinking about:

Moving. Tomorrow the moving truck is picking up all our stuff. I can’t believe we’re leaving this house after being here for over twelve years. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else, and we’ve mostly raised our son here, so it’s tough to go in some ways, but I’m also super excited about living in the Maritimes. We fly to New Brunswick on May 29th and move into our new home the following week. Crossing my fingers that everything goes smoothly! 

Anticipating:

Our big move, of course. Spending the weekend before we move into our new place at one of Chipman Hill Suites' lovely, historic hotels (again). A beautiful summer by the ocean. Delving into some major revisions on Enlighten soon.

Chipman Hill Suites (that mural is from the 1870s)

And this…

Ready. Set. WRITE! is happening again this June!  I’m psyched for another summer of intense writing. How about you? I hope you’ll join me and my fellow co-hosts AlisonMiller, Katy Upperman, Jaime Morrow, and Elodie Nowodazkij. Stay tuned for more details!

Wishing:

For a problem-free move. For some agent interest when I start querying Envision again soon.

Making me happy:

That after a ton of planning and exhausting preparation, it’s almost time for my family to head to our new home. Can't wait!


What's currently happening in your corner of the world?

Monday, 30 March 2015

YA Book Club: RED QUEEN Review

Hello, fellow YA Book Clubbers! Looking forward to reading your reviews, and a big thanks to Tracey Neithercott for hosting!

A FRIENDLY WORD OF WARNING: While my review doesn’t give away specific spoilers, certain plot points can probably be inferred from what I’ve written here, so if you haven’t read the book, you might want to skip my review.

Let me start by saying, I really, really wanted to love RED QUEEN. The description sounded awesome—red against silver blood, an mc with powers she shouldn’t have, a rebellion, a forced betrothal to a prince—but ultimately the book fell short for me. The following is just my opinion, and I hope I’ve offered criticism respectfully.  I don’t want to be negative, but I’m going to give an honest review. Also, sorry about the length, but I wanted to back up my POV.

World-building

Mare’s world had the potential to be fascinating but never felt fully realized to me. By the description, I though the book was fantasy, so I initially pictured something with a more historic influence. When things like electricity, TV screens, and other sci-fi details showed up, I was a bit confused. While I certainly think speculative fiction can be a blend of fantasy and sci-fi (obviously), the technical details in RQ didn’t seem to mesh with the Roman influence, which was never really developed a lot either.

I also didn’t get a sense of things like landscape, architecture, or how rooms looked. Characters seemed to be floating in a generic space much of the time, but more specific details would’ve helped me imagine the setting better. Similarly, I wanted a more thorough idea of the culture on both sides of the conflict beyond the fact that Reds were poor and downtrodden, and Silvers were mostly cruel, had powers, and were born into houses identified by particular colors.

I thought the conflict between the Reds and Silvers was a good basis for the story, but I would’ve liked more background on how this evolutionary divide was originally discovered. Along with that, I would’ve appreciated more information on the apocalyptic event that changed the world. We see the remnants of what I assume is our current world in the City of Ruins (that revelation felt very District 13 to me & the Bowl of Bones was reminiscent of the HG arena), but this setting and its occupants was never developed. Perhaps in book two?

More information on the war would also have been helpful. I wasn’t sure what they were fighting about exactly. If the author mentioned it, I don’t remember. The war itself seemed used as a way to oppress the Reds, but in and of itself didn’t serve much purpose in the plot. The Lakelanders were the enemy, but nothing was ever explained about them. A map in the front of the book would’ve helped sort out some of the places mentioned as well.

Characters

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel a strong connection to the characters. When the story began, I liked that Mare was on the prickly side—a rough around the edges thief trying to help her family survive—but once she got to the palace, that toughness faded. Even with her ability to create/control electricity, her survival instinct often took a back seat to relying on the princes for protection or being told what to do by the Scarlet Guard. I liked that she cared about her family and Kilorn and was willing to sacrifice herself to help them, but overall I didn’t feel there was much to know about her personally.

To me, the princes were all over the map. I wanted to love Cal. His character started off well, with the insinuation that he might sympathize with the Reds, but he was inconsistent—noble and compassionate one minute and cruel the next.  It was never really shown why he supposedly loved Mare either, problematic considering how much the rebels staked on his feelings for her in their big plan. This made the romance unconvincing for me.

While it’s understandable why Maven might come across as inconsistent, I think his personality waffled too extremely. At times he seemed cowardly, expressed in his physical demeanor, only to turn around and appear brave and unleash his temper. We were also never told anything specific about Maven personally, for example, what his likes/interests were. Cal was portrayed as a warrior with a passion for motorbikes, but we weren't given any such details about Maven. That was a tip off to me early on.

Plot

As I said above, I thought the dynamic of Reds versus Silvers was an interesting concept, especially that the group with supernatural abilities was in power rather than being oppressed. This seemed to flip other similar stories around (X-Men, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi). However, the conflict never really went beyond the basics of Silvers keeping Reds under their thumb.

I liked what the Scarlet Guard brought to the story and also the revelations about red blood with silver abilities, but the big plot twist in the end didn’t come as a surprise. From the moment the royal family was introduced, I had my suspicions because of the dynamic there: Older son is king’s favourite and will inherit the throne, while younger son by a different (evil) mother lives in his shadow. What I don’t understand, especially considering Elara’s abilities as a whisper and Cal’s previous loyalty and dedication as a general, is why anyone actually believed the lie about how things went down. And why didn’t Cal point that out or defend himself?

One thing I thought was written particularly well is the way Mare questioned the actions of the Scarlet Guard and her own participation in their violence. It was realistic that Mare, sucked into all of this, would feel that way, especially once she began to realize not all Silvers were terrible people. This moral dilemma was a good addition to Mare’s character.

And while the romantic in me wanted Mare to end up with someone (and I’m sure she will yet in the series), it was refreshing and realistic that she didn’t make a choice about a love interest at the end of book one. There was no miraculous forgiveness for the sake of romance, rather an admission that there was too much betrayal for her to give her heart to anyone.

Overall

I know I’ve listed a lot of criticisms here, and I feel bad about that, but overall I wanted more from RED QUEEN because I think it had a ton of potential. Had certain aspects of the world-building and plot been fleshed out more or had the characters been portrayed on a deeper more personal level, I think it could have been phenomenal. Instead, and I cringe when I say this, it seemed like another Hunger Games clone. Those are my thoughts, and I hope they come across as more disappointed than belittling.

So what did you think?