Saturday, January 31, 2015

WIP Marathon January Update

Last check-in: Wrote (complete or incomplete versions of) chapters 26-31. Working on chapter 32. (105,580 words)

Current check-in: Mostly finished chapter 32. Tried to write some new scenes for chapter 31, but will probably hold off on them for a while. Working on chapter 33.

I'm not really sure what my word count is at this point, because I'm still trying to figure out what's going on with these scenes.

WIP issues this month:

I've had two main issues this months. The first is that I'm simultaneously brainstorming and writing and revising and mentally-revising multiple scenes. Part of this involves ironing out backstory details so I can decide which of my characters knows what and how that affects their relationship and future interactions with other characters. Part of that decides figuring out if additional scenes are necessary to fill out certain story arcs. Part of it involves brainstorming ways to make early chapters better, so that the worldbuilding is richer and more clear, but the story still moves forward.

The other issue is fear. I wrote a lot during winter break and the first week of school, but then I practically stopped. I'm so close to being finished that the idea of publishing this thing might actually become a reality, but I don't know if I'm ready for that reality. I love writing, but I also like being able to write at my own pace. It has taken me years to write this novel and I don't know if I can finish the next one in a matter of months. I won't have the time to write every day, and I rarely have the capacity to write more than one chapter in a single sitting. I also don't know if I can keep up this level of perfectionism, because it's really overwhelming.

However, the nice thing about not writing for a really long time is that eventually, you get sucked back in.

Things I learned this month:

1. I found a really good resource on complex regional pain syndrome caused by gunshot wounds.

2. If I love a book enough, I am willing to ignore minor logical inconsistencies or overly-convenient plot coincidences.

3. When it comes to making plans, I really want to show my character's thought process. That means letting her weigh the options and reasoning through bad ideas before settling on something that works. It does not mean getting a brilliant idea as a result of some other character's unrelated throwaway comment. Intelligence isn't just about knowing what works--it's also determining what doesn't work. (Not saying that all of my characters' decisions are intelligent, but I at least want them to arrive at those decisions in a believable manner.)

Distractions this month:

School. Reading scientific articles and emailing researchers. Tumblr. (I don't have a tumblr, but I follow a lot of people.)

Books:

Finished and loved:
-Dark Places
-Blue Lily, Lily Blue
-Some Girls Are

Currently reading:
-The Lowlands (audio)
-Charm and Strange


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Book Recommendation: Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Maggie Stiefvater)

Book 3 in The Raven Cycle

I really want to hear this Murder Squash song now.

***

(contains some minor spoilers)

I especially loved the growing relationship between Ronan and Adam--not just the possibility of romance between them, but also how their powers and everything else are bringing them closer together. Blue/Gansey is also getting a lot more intense, and I love how much of a smart-mouth Blue is.

This book is one of those "leaves you with more questions than answers" books. It works well within the series, but I don't think it would work well by itself.

The villains were also somewhat of a letdown (as usual). Greenmantle was set up to be way more threatening than he really was. His wife was pretty cool, but I don't feel like I really got a grasp of who she was or why she did things. I'm also not totally sure what Mallory's role in the story is yet, other than to deliver some vague Gansey backstory.

I'm not going to delve into any logical inconsistencies, because this is one of those books that is so beautiful and mystical that it would ruin my reading experience to do that.

I loved this book, but I also feel like I should reserve judgement on it until the final book in the series.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book Recommendation: Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn

This book was amazing. The voice, the deeply disturbed characters, the way it was both horrifying and disgusting. I will most certainly be reading more Gillian Flynn.


Note: I should probably add a trigger warning - this book contains gruesome depictions of violence, borderline pedophilia, and violence against animals.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Books

It's that time of year where I reflect on all the books I read in 2014. I am proud to say that I finished The Twistrose Key yesterday and Arclight a few days ago. I decided not to review them on this blog since I didn't have much to say about either, but if you're interested, I posted my reviews on Goodreads.

The full list of books is at the bottom. I only included the books that I completed (30 books).

Genre breakdown:

8 YA fantasy
6 adult fantasy
4 YA SF
3 NA contemporary
2 NA SF
2 historical YA
1 adult SF
1 adult literary
1 adult horror
1 YA contemporary
1 MG fantasy

Gender breakdown:

25 books by female authors, 5 by male authors

17 female POVs, 6 male POVs, 7 male and female POVs

Diversity:

3/30 Authors of color: Lydia Kang (Korean American), Okey Ndibe (Nigerian), N.K. Jemisin (black American)

5/30 Protagonists of color:
- “The Bitter Kingdom” -- Rae Carson (darker skinned, Hispanic-based)
- “Foreign Gods, Inc.” -- Okey Ndibe (Nigerian)
- “The Extra” -- Kathryn Lasky (Sinti)
- “The Broken Kingdoms” -- N.K. Jemisin (black-based)
- “Infernal Revelation: episode 1” -- Michael Coorlim (black)

2/30 LGBT Protagonists:
- “Made of Stars” (bisexual)
- The protagonist of one of the books I critiqued realized at the end of the book that she hadn't quite figured out her sexuality yet. This is so incredibly realistic and yet something that you almost never see in literature (unless of course the protagonist is going to end up with someone of the same gender.)

9/30 Protagonists with disabilities/chronic illness/mental illness*: 
- “Control” (respiratory defect)
- “Foreign Gods, Inc.” (hinted at epilepsy)
- “The Painted Darkness” (PTSD)
- “All the Truth that’s in Me” (tongue cut out)
- “Her Dark Curiosity” (graft rejection)
- “The Extra” (forcibly sterilized)
- “Half Bad” (dyslexia)
- “The Broken Kingdoms” (blind)
- “Arclight” (injured leg)

*I noted if a protagonist had a disability, but not whether or not the disability was portrayed well or realistically. (I don't feel qualified to evaluate that.) It's also worth noting that two of these books used the "instant cure" trope, which is considered extremely problematic.

Here is the full list. My favorites are bolded:

1. Control -- Lydia Kang
2. The Bitter Kingdom -- Rae Carson
3. The Republic of Thieves -- Scott Lynch
4. Vicious -- V.E. Schwab
5. Foreign Gods, Inc. -- Okey Ndibe (ARC)
6. The Painted Darkness -- Brian James Freeman (ebook)
7. The Wicked We Have Done -- Sarah Harian (ebook)
8. The Night Circus -- Erin Morgenstern
9. All the Truth that’s in Me -- Julie Berry (ARC)
10. Her Dark Curiosity -- Megan Shepherd
11. The Extra -- Kathryn Lasky (ARC)
12. Half Bad -- Sally Green
13. The Secret of Isobel Key -- Jen McConnel (ebook)
14. The Broken Kingdoms -- N.K. Jemisin
15. Premeditated -- Josin L. McQuein
16. Infernal Revelation: episode 1 -- Michael Coorlim (serialized ebook) (indie)
17. Incubus: episode 1 -- Rachel Bateman (serialized ebook) (indie)
18. unpublished manuscript #1
19. The Spirit Rebellion -- Rachel Aaron
20. unpublished manuscript #2
21. Born Wicked -- Jessica Spotswood
22. The Queen of the Tearling -- Erika Johansen
23. A Vault of Sins -- Sarah Harian (ebook)
24. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children -- Ransom Riggs (audio)
25. Entangled -- Amy Rose Capetta (ARC)
26. Made of Stars -- Kelley York (ebook)
27. Shameless -- Nina Lemay (ebook) (indie)
28. The Thief -- Megan Whalen Turner (audio)
29. Arclight -- Josin L. McQuein (ebook)
30. The Twistrose Key -- Tone Almhjell (ARC)

I plan on starting Dark Places today. Yay!
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