Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writer Wednesday - Favorite Books on Craft

I will never stop learning the craft of writing, and for that, I'm grateful. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books, and many more I want to buy. I wanted to talk about my favorite books--the ones I find myself reading often.

The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler is a tremendously helpful book about storytelling. Vogler takes Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey and modifies it for writing. This book covers the three act structure. From The Writer's Journey: Act One covers: Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting with the Mentor, and Crossing the First Threshold. Act Two covers: Tests, Allies, Enemies, Approach to the Inmost Cave, Ordeal, and the Reward. Act Three covers: The Road Back, Resurrection, and the Return with the Elixir.

Writing Fiction A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway is a book I used in one of my graduate classes. It's a bit pricey, but I've found this book to be full of valuable information on the craft of fiction writing. Since it is used as a textbook, topics are covered in great detail. There are a lot of writing exercises as well.

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass is probably my favorite book (and relatively inexpensive). This book is full of exercises, examples, and information. It's a quick read, but the knowledge stays with you.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass is another fabulous book.

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell is my second favorite. This book covers how to plot your novel and structure it to tell a great story. Another one I highly recommend.

These are a few of my favorites on writing. I'm going to do another blog post on books on editing since I have a ton of those as well.

What are some of your favorite books on the craft of writing?

Friday, November 18, 2011

News and NaNo!

Happy Friday! This month has been nuts (like most months). I've been working on a personal project for awhile, and it's finally up and running. I decided to start offering editing services. I absolutely adore editing and critiquing. For more information, please check out my new website. I have other news coming soon, which I'll post on the blog and on the site.

Are you participating in NaNo? I'm about 33k words in and counting. I had a very detailed outline going in. I'm actually happy with how the story is going, but it will be a long time before this piece sees the light of day. I do look forward to the revision process--my favorite!

I'll be staying at the Stanley Hotel tomorrow night for a write-in. I'm excited! The ghost tour is at four, and the write-in is 6:30pm - 11:30pm. I will take lots of pictures while I'm there!

What's going on in your world? Are you in crazy NaNo mode?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday - Book Review Roundup: Fracture by Megan Miranda

From Goodreads:
Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled front he icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend, Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine-despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

For fans of bestsellers like Before I Fall and If I Stay, this is a fascinating and heart-rending story about love and friendship and the find line between life and death.

My Review:
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading FRACTURE, but I was captivated from the start. Delaney is such a believable character--she's smart, logical, practical, and sympathetic. When she dies in the lake that day, she is saved by her best friend, Decker. Decker and Delaney have been friends since they were five--always inseparable. After the accident, their relationship becomes strained by Delaney's new ability to sense death. Delaney starts to think everything in her life is falling apart. She feels this pull, yet everyone thinks she's crazy.

Delaney starts to become self-destructive, and I didn't blame her at all. She endures so much, and I'm not sure how she handled it all in the first place. I loved the characters in this book. The development is believable and real. The relationships are spot-on. Delaney's relationship with her parents, her best friend, friends, and even Troy are emotional, thought provoking, and fantastically written.

I really enjoyed this emotional book that leaves the reader with a sense of hope in all the dark in Delaney's life.

FRACTURE will be available on January 17, 2012 from Walker and Co. Thank you to the publisher for allowing me the chance to read this book before the release.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday - Book Review Roundup: The Poison House by Michael Ford

From Goodreads:
The year is 1856, and orphan Abigail Tamper lives below stairs in Greave Hall, a crumbling manor house in London. Lord Greave is plagued by madness, and with his son Samuel away fighting in the Crimea, the running of Greave Hall is left to Mrs. Cotton, the tyrannical housekeeper. The only solace for the beleaguered staff is to frighten Mrs. Cotton by pretending the house is haunted.

So when a real ghost makes an appearance - that of her beloved mother - no one is more surprised than Abi. But the spirit has a revelation that threatens to destroy Abi's already fragile existence: she was murdered, and by someone under their own roof. With Samuel returned to England badly wounded, it's up to Abi to nurse him back to health, while trying to discover the identity of the killer in their midst. As the chilling truth dawns, Abi's world is turned upside down.

My Review:
I always enjoy a really good historic YA book. THE POISONED HOUSE was a quick read. The book starts off with Abigail Tamper trying desperately to escape Greave Hall and Mrs. Cotton, the evil caretaker. She is dragged back to the house to resume the tortured life of a slave/servant girl. Abi is only fifteen years old, and her mother died when she was very young.

When Mrs. Cotton receives a visitor, the servants grow curious and Abi is sent to spy on their meeting. When a spiritual consultant walks in, Abi learns Mrs. Cotton is afraid a ghost is haunting the house. Abi is even more shocked to find out she's right. Abi's mother desperately tries to get her out of the house before her daughter receives the same fate as her.

Michael Ford created very believable characters. I felt for Abi and struggled with her during her journey to seek out the truth. The creepy factor was definitely there for this piece. The sinister house, the dark staircases, the ouija board, war, Mrs. Cotton--it was all very creepy and sinister. I found myself looking around me when reading it alone at night. It's refreshing when a book does that to me.

The plot was well developed and left you trying to guess what all this family is hiding. The house master is on the brink of insanity, always talking to himself, holing up in his room upstairs. There's a lot of mystery to this book--lots of secrets.

If you're looking for a quick and creepy read, you'll enjoy THE POISON HOUSE.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monday - I Love Dark YA Blogfest

I have the privilege of being part of the I love Dark YA Blogfest, and I couldn't be more excited! I know the topic has been in the media a lot recently, and it's a subject I love talking about. This week I'll be blogging about my favorite dark YA book(s).

First off, what is considered "dark"? Can it be categorized? Or is it personal preference? Some of my favorite YA books are what some people have labeled as their version of "dark."

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Curse Worker series by Holly Black

I could go on and on! Some of these books may be fantasy, but there's still real issues there. The Hunger Games is about selflessness, love, caring, and survival. Twenty Boy Summer is about a girl trying to cope with loss after love and then figure out who she is. There's a positive message of hope in most YA novels. I can't think of one where there isn't.

What are some of your favorite "dark" YA books?