Saturday, August 30, 2014

WIP Marathon August Check-In

*checks feed reader* What? Today is a WIP Marathon day? Okay, um, let's see.

Last check-in: Working on chapter 19 (66,783 words)

Currently: Finished chapter 19, minus one scene. Copy-pasted some scenes into chapters 20 and 21. Chapter 21 is more-or-less complete, but chapter 20 needs 2-3 new scenes that I haven't written yet.

Current word count = 72,117

WIP issues this month:

There was virtually no new writing this month. All of my progress involved copy-paste with some minor line edits. I know which scenes I need to write, but I haven't quite given myself the time and the push to sit down and write them.

What I learned this month:

1. I finally worked up the courage to ask my grad student friend about what a therapy session would look like. There are a few scenes in the story where my character is forced to see a psychologist, but I wasn't sure I actually knew what a real therapy session looked like. I now have a much better idea of how to write these scenes.

2. But I decided to temporarily hold off on the therapist scenes because I need to get a better idea of how they fit with the story as a whole (or whether I need them). They don't add anything to the plot, but they can potentially be used as a good way to reveal backstory and some character development. But then I have to figure out which backstory to incorporate, since some of it will be revealed in other scenes.

3. I seriously need to get over my anxiety barrier when it comes to, well, just about anything--writing, critiquing, calling people, sending emails. It's getting out of control.

ETA 4. Oh, and this awesome post by Janice Hardy about trimming your word count that I have no doubt I will have to use at some point: http://penandmuse.com/trimming-words-editing-janice-hardy/

What distracted me this month:

I'm back in school, so that's the biggest thing. There were two weekends in the last month where friends came into town, and I went orienteering a couple of times. I finished critiquing a full manuscript. There was also about a week where I was feeling really low energy and couldn't bring myself to accomplish anything other than what was immediately required. I'm not sure if it was due to sleep deprivation or anemia or if it was just an emotional thing, but I'm currently scrambling to catch up on work that I missed during that period.

I finished reading Born Wicked, which I really enjoyed, and The Queen of the Tearling, which was basically 450 pages of preachiness and wish-fulfillment. I'm currently reading Nina Lemay's Shameless. It was one of those "Okay, I suppose I can at least try NA romance" decisions, but so far, I'm not sure it's really my thing. I also watched The Returned, a French TV show about people who come back from the dead, and it's really good.

Goal for next month:

Finish chapter 20. (Yes, I realize I'm setting the bar low this time around, but I'm feeling super lethargic today, so lofty goals are intimidating me.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: The Queen of the Tearling

Back in March, I did a Summary Reactions post about The Queen of the Tearling. As you can see from that post, I wasn't too optimistic about this book.

But still, I decided to give it a chance. (see review below)


I was bored. Bored, bored, bored. Special snowflake protagonist, deus ex machinas abound, unimaginative worldbuilding, flat villains, a great impending doom that turns out not to happen, and preachiness at every corner.

I could go into a full-scale rant, but quite honestly, I feel like I've already invested too much energy in this book.

I will say this, though:

I totally agree that we need more books with un-pretty or even ugly protagonists. But when you feel the need to remind me of how "plain" and unattractive Kelsea is at least six times every chapter, you are no longer telling a story--you're just pushing an agenda.

Oh, and can we stop with the whole "girls who like pretty clothes are all vain, selfish, and stupid" please?

I will also say this: Her guardians are idiots. We are told that Kelsea had a hardcore intense education, and yet she knows almost nothing about her own kingdom. People continuously withhold important information from her, because of reasons. And then she goes and makes stupid, impulsive decisions.

So basically, this is one of those books where an idealist becomes queen and succeeds solely by the virtue (no pun intended) of her idealism (and magic). In the middle of the book, Kelsea makes a huge, impulsive decision that, while very honorable, puts her entire country at risk of war against an enemy that they have no hope of defeating. And then, instead of having to face the terrible consequences of her decision (read: this war doesn't happen, at least not in this book), all of Kelsea's other successes just fall into her lap by magic. Like, she's got these magical sapphires that are basically a couple of deus ex machinas. It's not even magic that she has to work hard to hone and control--it just happens whenever she needs to save the day.

It's not that I'm against idealist heroines, but I don't want to read about the ones who get victory handed to them on a platter. I want to read about the ones who work hard, outsmart their enemies, and occasionally have to make sacrifices in order to succeed.

This book tries to be feminist, but at the end of the day, it's nothing more than wish fulfillment.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Book Recommendation: Born Wicked


Have you ever read a fantasy novel that has really cool fantasy elements and an intriguing mythos, but the story and characters left much to be desired?

Born Wicked is the opposite. The fantasy tropes and elements are nothing you haven't seen before--there's nothing particularly exciting or eye-raising about them.

But that doesn't matter, because this book's real strength is in its characters. They're fully fleshed-out, with personalities and flaws and priorities and interests. I loved these characters. I understood them. I was interested in them. I loved how they drove the plot. And even though I disagreed with many of Cate's priorities, I still sympathized with her decisions.

Born Wicked is also a great example of how you can have a successful book where most of the characters are female, and where the love interests are actually likeable and fun, not controlling and broody. Oh, and this book was also very readable.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves character-centered fantasy.

***

This book is part of a trilogy. I promised myself I wouldn't buy anymore books for awhile, but I really want to read the sequel.
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