Wednesday, 29 January 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writer’s keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part.

What I’m Reading:

I got a nice chunk of reading done this week, seeing as I’ve been on break from writing. First, I finished Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I liked it even better than Cinder, which probably had something to do with Wolf. Or, you know, everything to do with Wolf ;)

I also read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Normally I don’t criticize books on my blog, but there were historical inaccuracies and plot issues in this one that I couldn’t overlook. In a children’s book about the Holocaust, I find this troubling. Especially when writing for a young audience and about such an important topic, authors need to get their facts straight, and sacrificing realism in favour of storytelling gimmicks is not okay. A visit to Goodreads let me know there were many other readers who reacted similarly, and I agreed with their reviews. I’ll leave it at that.

Next, I read Origin by Jessica Khoury, which I really enjoyed. The rainforest setting was beautifully described, and there was enough mystery to keep me hooked throughout the book.

Now, I’m reading Rush by Eve Silver.

What I’m Writing:

Nothing yet. My break after Pitch Wars hasn’t been overly relaxing, so I might extend it a bit. I’ll probably ease back into my writing routine by rereading my WIP first. I also need to do some brainstorming to spice up my plans for the ending.

As for Pitch Wars, I did get one “ninja request,” meaning a request from someone not on the list of agents participating in the contest. Without getting into the details, it’s not something I plan on pursuing, but I do find it encouraging that there was some interest in my pitch.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

I know I just linked to a post on Pub Crawl last week, but this one, entitled The Safe Zone, was too good not to share. In it Marie Lu discusses falling into lazy, uninspired writing as opposed to writing That Book—the one with heart. Yes. Yes. Yes. I so needed to read this. Now if only I could stop being tired and string some words together in a pretty and meaningful way.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

Mostly the usual everyday stuff with a lot more reading sprinkled in. Yesterday we took our son on a fieldtrip to see an exhibit about Queen Elizabeth II at a local museum, and an educational time was had by all. Also, these fun additions to my ever-growing nerd shirt collection arrived in the mail: a mashup of the minions from Despicable Me 2 and Star Wars, and a very cool Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows design. (Can you spot the Deathly Hallows symbol there?) Love 'em both.


Other than that, it was a fairly quiet and cold week. I’m in hibernation mode. Bring on the tea and books!

So how was your week?

46 comments:

  1. I check Teefury daily, waiting for a t-shirt that I have to have ;)

    That was a great article, thanks for sharing.

    Glad to hear you got some interest. It's a great feeling to know someone out there wants your book ^_^

    Have a lovely week!

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    1. I check Teefury every day too. You just never know when the perfect shirt design is going to pop up! I'm glad you found the article useful too. It was one I really needed to read. As for my pitch interest, I was happy about it but wish it was more in line with what I'd like to do with my book. Have a lovely week too!

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  2. That HP Deathly Hallows shirt is amazing. Want! Also, congrats on your Pitch Wars request -- I can totally see why that's an encouraging step. I've been intrigued by STRIPED PAJAMAS for years, but hearing your thoughts... I'm thinking it's one I'll skip. I'm with you as far as historical inaccuracies go: there's a time and place for creative license, but the Holocaust definitely isn't an incident where rule bending is appropriate. Anyway. I hope you have a wonderful week, Erin!

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    1. Isn't it a cool design? It's one of my new favourites, for sure.

      I was really disappointed about THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS. My son read it recently, and he saw the historical inaccuracies too, which is pretty bad when young readers can pick them up that easily. Needless to say, we had a big discussion about the book's issues. I guess it's a lesson to writers that literary devices can be useful but not when they undermine larger, more crucial messages.

      Hope you have a wonderful week as well!

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  3. First, I love the minion Star Wars shirt. And welcome to the family of Wolf admirers. I loved Scarlet--glad to hear you did, too.

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    1. Isn't a cute shirt? My husband and son each got one too. And I'm thrilled to be welcomed to the family of Wolf admirers--or should it be a pack of Wolf admirers. ;)

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  4. Congrats on the ninja request! And those shirts are awesome. (Now I'm giving my boring T-shirt collection the side eye and thinking it's time to find some fun ones.)

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    1. Thank you! I wish it had been a bit more in line with what I'd like to do with my book, but that's okay. Interest of any kind is encouraging. As for the nerd shirts, they're so much fun...and addictive. :)

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  5. First, OMG those t-shirts, where did you get them and can I get them in the US. Two, I would be encouraged by the request, even if it's not something you want to pursue right now (or ever) with that particular person. Interest is interest, and it means you have something worth fighting for. Have an awesome week!

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    1. The shirts are from teefury.com, which is out of California. I've ordered tons from them, but their setup can be a bit frustrating. They offer a new design each day for $11, but after 24 hours the cost goes up for a day, and then you can't get that shirt unless it happens to be brought back in their gallery at a later date. That's the one drawback. I check the site every day just to make sure I don't miss anything good. Very addictive!

      And thanks for your kind words about my request. I was encouraged about the interest even if it involved a different route for my book than what I have in mind. And you're right, I should keep fighting for my story. Good way of putting it! :)

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  6. Endings are so hard. Good luck on spicing yours up. I'll be trying to figure what mine is :P

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    1. They're very tough! I'm picky about endings when I read books, so I want to get my own just right. Good luck working on your ending too! :)

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  7. Oh, those t-shirts! I want them soooo bad. I have a bunch like those and I think I might be addicted to them lol
    Congrats on the pitchwars request - so exciting!

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    1. Yes, nerd shirts are so addictive! My collection is getting ridiculously large. I always have lots of fun shirts to wear in the summer though. :)

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  8. I saw the movie adaptation of Striped Pajamas and it's rife with inaccuracies, too.

    I definitely need to add to my t-shirt collection!

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    1. My son and I watched the movie after reading and thoroughly discussing the book. I thought they improved on a few aspects in the movie,but overall it was still way too inaccurate for me to appreciate it. I find it interesting that you thought the same thing.

      And yes, you should add some fun nerdiness to your t-shirt collection! :)

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  9. Tea and books sound perfect :) I've been refueling and reading a lot this week too. I watched the movie version of The Boy and the Striped Pajamas and I wasn't a fan. I didn't feel like reading the book after watching it.

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    1. Any day is a good day for tea and books, right? Glad you've had a chance to refuel and read lately too. I think that's so necessary, especially for writers. My son and I watched the movie of THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS after reading and discussing the book, and while I found it better in some regards than the novel, it was still too inaccurate for me to appreciate it. My son felt the same way.

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  10. Oh, wow. I just got sucked into a vortex of bad reviews for BitSP on Goodreads. I'm actually kind of angry right now. How do you screw up details like that? Ugh. (I just realized we forgot to talk about this during our last Skype session.) Honestly, I research so darn much when I'm planning/writing a story, I can't imagine getting things so darn wrong. Moving on...

    I hope your writing break gets more relaxing. Though, I suspect getting in more reading has been nice for you. I knew you'd love Wolf. I mean, right? Love that guy. I'm glad you enjoyed ORIGIN. I have it on my shelf and added it to my TBR Pile Reading Challenge list (which is about a kilometre long right now).

    I'm glad the QE2 exhibit at the museum was good. We saw something similar and I was, of course, riveted by all of the cool things she's done in her time as queen. Unrelated, but re: the teefury shirts: I saw both of those and now wish I'd bought them. I've been trying to be super choosy with geek tees lately (not hard when *every* shirt seems to be a Doctor Who mashed potato). Teefury has kind of become the new Webkinz lol. We'll definitely have to Skype this week. Today? Tomorrow? This weekend? I'm free pretty much whenever.

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    1. Yeah, I didn't get into specifics here, but I totally agreed with the opinions in some of those reviews. I felt upset by it too. It's too important of an issue to mess up with cheap literary devices that undermine the bigger message. And I agree about it being frustrating when you spend so much time researching and then an author talks about how he wrote a book in a weekend--a book that's totally inaccurate and unfaithful to the era. We can discuss it more when we Skype later.

      The problem with taking a break from writing is that I end up using it to catch up on everything else I've been neglecting, mainly housework. It's easier to ignore the mess when I'm glued to my laptop lol.

      The QE2 exhibit was more interesting for the talk on her than for the items on display. Still educational though and she's a fascinating woman. And yes, Teefury is definitely the new Webkinz. I'm running out of room in my wardrobe. :)

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  11. I still have yet to read Scarlet, I'm two years behind on this series. I loved Cinder so I don't know why I've put it off for so long. Sorry your time off hasn't been very relaxing, extending it sounds like a great idea. Yay for the Ninja request, that's awesome! Even though you're not pursuing it you're that much closer to finding the right agent. I'll have to check out that link to the post. Love your nerd collection shirts!

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    1. SCARLET had been kicking around my TBR pile for way too long before I got around to it. I'm glad I waited now though because the next book is out on February 4th. Perfect timing! As for my time off, it hasn't been relaxing because once I surface from writing, I see all the other stuff I've been neglecting and need to get done. So it's been productive, but I'd like to squeeze in some more reading time. And thanks about the ninja request. I wish it was something I wanted to pursue more, but I'm glad someone was kind enough to express interest in my story. :)

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  12. I loved Scarlet even more than Cinder, too - Cress is top of my wishlist for this year! Have fun relaxing! :)

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    1. I can't wait till CRESS comes out next week! I'm kind of glad I put off reading SCARLET now, because the timing is perfect! :)

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  13. I'm totally jealous of those T-shirts! I have a few great nerd shirts, but not nearly enough. And those are down right fantabulous. I hope you have a wonderful week, wearing your wonderful new shirts.

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    1. You can never have too many nerd shirts. I'm glad you liked the ones I ordered. I thought they were pretty fun. Have a wonderful week yourself! :)

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  14. I've heard awful things about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas too, and feel it's a slap in the face to history and the people who went through the Shoah. It sounds like a children's book version of the hideous movie Life Is Beautiful, which ought to have been called Ernest Goes to a Concentration-Camp. It's one thing to be darkly comedic, another to just make up your own version of history to suit the storyline you want to write. I also hated The Book Thief with the fire of a million suns. Just because the Shoah/WWII era is one of my areas of historical expertise and something I frequently write about doesn't mean I'm going to automatically love every single book and movie about it!

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    1. I agree that it's insensitive. When a book overuses literary devices as a staple of the story, it can undermine the larger message, and I felt that was the case with this one. My son recently read it too, and we had a big discussion about the inaccuracies. Not the way I would have chosen to teach him, but fortunately we've had a lot of other good resources that make up for this misfire. I saw reviews on Goodreads that compared it to Life is Beautiful and I can see that. And that's so true about not loving every single book about an era, even if you've done extensive research into it. I think we all connect with different books in different ways, and some authors are definitely more successful in impacting readers.

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  15. Tea and books? What happened to all that kilt-lifting lager? Those were awesome. Haha. I should read that Marie Lu post, because I have NOT been writing inspired. I've been writing on deadline and with stresses consuming me. Shoot, that's not good.

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    1. Ah this week it was Hazelnut Espresso Stout. So no kilts, but still good! I hope you find the article as helpful as I did. I'm close to the end of a first draft and it's too easy to half-ass my way through it just to get finished. I can see how writing on deadline would squash the inspiration. I haven't had to face serious deadlines yet, but the thought scares me.

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  16. Writing the book with heart---Yes! A million times, yes. I've fallen off that wagon a little lately and I needed that kick in the pants to get back on. New goal: Don't just write words. Write *good* words. :) (word count be damned)

    LOVE the nerd shirts. The minions never cease to make me laugh.

    Hope your week off from writing is even more relaxing than the last. Full of good books and good beverages. :)

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    1. I'm pretty disciplined about sitting myself down to write almost every day, but that also means a LOT of those days I'm not feeling it. So, of course, I write for the sake of word count and forget to write for the sake of loving writing. I needed this reminder. I should just chant "I love my story" or something every time I sit down at my laptop. I dunno, but I have to keep myself focused on writing for the right reasons.

      The minions are hilarious. They were a stroke of movie genius. My husband and son both got these shirts too, so we'll be as hard to tell apart as minions. :P

      And thanks, I'm trying to relax, but all that housework I've been neglecting keeps glaring at me lol. There will certainly be good books and beverages though. That's a given!

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  17. I love when people talk about writing with heart. I think all that stuff that consumes us sometimes (whether this genre is dead or not, if people will like our characters, if we should add this or that aspect to make our stories more appealing) can be overcome when we just write the stories that are in our hearts, and fill them with heart. Easier said than done, though, right?

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    1. I think that's the most important reminder for writers, because if you don't love what you're writing you'll get nowhere fast. I think if I focused on writing for the sake of my love for good stories, I'd find the process a whole lot easier to cope with. And a big yes on the whole "whether this genre is dead" issue. I feel like I'm up against that right now seeing as I write sci-fi (with a very generous dollop of romance). Like you say, it's easier said than done to push those issues aside. I guess the feelings that come with writing are as much a work in progress as the writing itself.

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  18. Those shirts are so awesome! Glad you were able to have some fun time at the museum.

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    1. I thought they were pretty fun! And we had a very good day at the museum, thanks. :)

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  19. Hiya

    Wow everyone reads such great books. I've added Cinder to my to read list. I sort of feel like i have been missing something, because I've been reading a heap over the years but just the last two weeks but missed the good ones.

    Yeah I haven't been reading either :)

    Have a good week.

    Angel

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    1. Hope you enjoy CINDER! The Lunar Chronicles is a great series. :)

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  20. Ooh, Origin was one of the books I taught last year in my science-y seminar class. I liked that one. Awesome shirts--I thought about that HP one but I'm trying to curtail my addictions (tea, tees, and books!)

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    1. I'm eager to read VITRO by Jessica Khoury now. It's a stand alone too, but there's one aspect that overlaps with ORIGIN that I thought was interesting when I read the description. Teefury is just way too tempting. It had been a while since we'd ordered any shirts, so we splurged and got these ones. Man, how do you control a tea and book addiction though? I haven't had much success with that lately! :)

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  21. That's so cool that you got a ninja request! Even if it wasn't from an agent that you were planning on querying. When I entered in a contest in October, I got a few requests from agents I hadn't considered querying, but it was still a really nice experience to know that my query letter worked.

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    1. Yeah, I thought it was encouraging even though the opportunity wasn't the route I wanted to take. Interest is always a good thing!

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  22. Congrats on your ninja request! Even if you don't plan to pursue it, it's still nice to hear someone was interested. I also love those t-shirts!

    Thanks for the heads up about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I'm with you - especially if it's a book for kids, it should be historically accurate. It's one thing if it strays from reality but it's for adults who know the difference, but for younger kids, not so good.

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    1. Thanks, Ghenet! It was encouraging to get a ninja request even if it's not the route I want to take. Glad you like the t-shirts. They were too fun to pass up!

      On THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS, my son read it recently too, and we had a big discussion about where the book went wrong. Fortunately, we have a whole stack of other WWII books to read that will hopefully be more accurate. :)

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  23. For a minute there I was confused why there's a Queen Elizabeth II exhibit at your museum, and then I remembered that you live in Canada. Confusion cleared up!
    I LOVE that Harry Potter shirt. Holy moly. That is awesome. Care to share where you got it? I love how cleverly the Deathly Hallows symbol is woven in.
    Have fun reading your WIP! When I read through mine last, at first I started off thinking, "This is soooo bad!" but by the end I felt quite the opposite and was very excited to start my revisions. I hope you have a similar experience... well, to the end at least. :)

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    1. Ha ha, yes, we're part of the Commonwealth and the queen is an awesome lady!

      Isn't that design cool? That was an instabuy for me. The shirts are from teefury.com, but the site doesn't sell the same shirts all the time. A shirt is available for 24 hours at $11 and then the price goes up the next day, and after that it's gone unless they choose to bring it back to their gallery. You kind of have to follow regularly if you want to catch the good ones. Sometimes the artists do sell their designs on other sites too, though I'm not sure where else this one might be available.

      I've started reading through my WIP and I'm waffling back and forth. One moment I love the heck out of it, and the next I want to delete the whole thing lol. I think that's pretty normal for a first draft though. :)

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