Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Saddle Club #1: Horse Crazy

One of the dearly loved book series of my childhood is The Saddle Club. Three girls who are bffs and obsessed with horses. It was the perfect combination. But how do they hold up over the years?

We begin the first book with Stevie, who has exposition duty. Apparently there's a big horsey camp-out coming up and if Stevie doesn't get good grades, her parents aren't going to pay for her to go. This is only bad news until Stevie figures out that her parents said that they wouldn't pay for it if she got bad grades, not that she couldn't go. So she perks up and decides she's gonna earn a bunch of money doing odd jobs. I don't know about Stevie's parents, but that would not have flown with mine.

Then we switch to Carole, and learn that she's obsessed with horses and her mom just died. Downer. Carole is the only one out of the three who isn't a walking stereotype, so she actually had what I thought was the best-developed personality of the three. Anyway, Carole's talking about how her dad is always sorry and Mrs. Reg (deus ex grandma) suggests that he's sorry he can't be her mom and her dad. This is getting way too deep for a Saddle Club book. Abort! Abort!

Lisa walks into the barn with her overprotective, upward-mobility minded mother. Everyone can tell she's super smart, but Lisa is embarrassed by her mom talking her up to everyone. She starts to ride and everything's going well until somebody slams the door and the horse takes off.

I kind of take issue with this - loud noises are not exactly uncommon, and I don't think anyone would consider a horse who's terrified of them to be a good horse for someone's first ride ever. The beginner horses I've known you could pull a grenade under their bum and they would be too lazy to move.

But okay, we need this to happen because when Lisa meets Stevie, she starts to suspect Stevie of being THE DOOR SLAMMER. Fair enough because Stevie takes the stirrups off Lisa's saddle so she can't mount up for her first lesson, thereby humiliating her. Stevie, you're an ass.

Lisa befriends Veronica instead of Stevie & Carole, although she quickly learns that Veronica is a huge spoiled brat because we all know that rich people are the devil. Carole knows that Veronica is actually THE DOOR SLAMMER, but won't tell Lisa under pain of not being able to ride Veronica's STALLION WTF (who puts a beginner rider on a stallion? Whatever, book).

I call shenanigans at this. Slamming the door was obviously stupid, but Veronica could easily say, "Oh yeah, sorry, the wind blew the door out of my hand. I'm so glad you weren't hurt!" Plot thread over. But no, we have to go on for 80 pages with Lisa thinking that Stevie is out for her blood.

A bunch of really boring stuff about Stevie earning money happens, and Lisa finally overhears Veronica being the biotch she is. Carole finds Lisa crying and they kind of clear the air, and Carole invites Lisa to TD's. Prepare to hear a lot about TD's.

Sadly the rest of the book is mostly about sorting out Stevie's money dilemma, which is extremely boring. Basically Lisa tells Stevie to use the racketeering setup she's come up with as her math project, and saves the day so Stevie deigns to like her. Stevie really comes off as a jerk in this book. All's well that ends well, and they establish The Saddle Club.

This book is basically just background info with a story thrown in to tie it together. Unfortunately, the background info is a lot more interesting than the storyline. I ended up skimming all the parts about Stevie because guess what - 7th grade math projects don't get more interesting over time. The parts with Carole and Lisa are the most interesting, but the temporary friendship Lisa has with Veronica is boring at best because she's so obviously a big bad (or as bad as this series gets). Also, I picked this cover because I'm pretty sure it's the cover I originally read it with, but there's about a bazillion others as I found out when I looked it up on Amazon.

That's all for this time! Tell me if you enjoyed it; hopefully someone else gets a kick out of going back in time for these books.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday!

From my recently completed novel, Timekeeper.

“Will you tell me about Connor?” I whispered. I hadn’t forgotten that day in the gym. But I felt like the words were made of glass; too fragile to bring out at just any opportunity.

The van jolted and as Alex yelled back, “Sorry! Bus with nuns!” I windmilled in the air for a second before falling flat on top of Neil.

He made a surprised “whuff” noise when I hit and knocked the air out of him, but his arms opened automatically and he hugged me to him.

I said, "Sorry," but anything else I might have added was cut off as Neil squeezed me to him like a kid grabbing onto its teddy bear when the night-light goes out for the first time. He was even stronger than he looked and I gasped for breath, but quietly. I didn’t want him to hear me and feel like he had to let me go.

We lay there for a long time, the sound of the engine drowning out our breath and jolts from the bad suspension making it difficult to fall asleep. Neil didn’t say anything, and I didn’t either. I was too afraid to break the moment, and I felt in a strange way that maybe Neil was answering my question in the only way he could.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why I Think We're Too Hard on Our Heroines

This past week and weekend has been my own personal hell. I had a test on Tuesday and a test earlier today, both of which required me to study. So, in spite of the fact that my word count on my WIP was trundling along nicely, I had to stop around Saturday and pretend to study because I felt way too guilty writing.

Over this dreadful past week I contemplated many things (like why am I a finance major? am I a masochist? or just stupid, and my teachers are too nice to tell me?). One of these things was, of course, about YA books.

I'm going to give it to you straight, gentle reader: I am an exceptionally picky person. I hate lots of people for lots of trivial things, and it only gets worse when it comes to fiction.

However, I do think that we are a little hard on our heroines from time to time.

There are a lot of demands on an author who's writing a teen girl these days. The girl has to be independent, but not unbelievable. She needs to be witty, but not so sassy she's annoying. Being too upbeat isn't realistic, but being a downer all the time isn't okay either. She needs to be completely whole without a man, but have many hot smooches.

Basically, you're screwed, authors.

The problem is that real girls do have flaws, and while people talk about needing a heroine to be flawed, there are certain flaws the YA community is awfully hesitant to accept: being whiny, being helpless in the face of lots of danger, and being dependent on a guy for validation. All three of which are EXTREMELY realistic flaws.

That's why it didn't bother me that the whole of Bella's self worth centered around whether or not Edward liked her. Because guess what, this is precisely what teenage - and let's face it, older - girls do. They fixate on a guy and obsess about him until their brain dribbles out their ears. While it isn't the most desirable state of being, it's not an unrealistic one and I didn't have a problem seeing it in a book.

No, Bella bothered me because she was boring.

So, authors of the world, here is my opinion: I don't care what flaws your character has, who she's codependent on, or what validation she needs. If she's interesting and 3-dimensional, I will read about her. If she's interesting and doesn't pay the slightest attention to guys, I will still read about her, but I'll be awfully skeptical. Because I don't care if you're a werewolf assassin from a future dystopian society; if you're 15 and have the giggles for that cute leprechaun glassblower, you are going to be 100% fixated on that.


People have been talking a lot about banned books, especially because some supervillain wannabe (seriously, Wesley Scroggins? You belong at Lex Luthor and Sauron's tea party) has been trying to ban Speak.

Banning books is sort of like banning the third-floor corridor(if you get that, give yourself a big nerd cookie). As soon as you say NAY THY SHALL NOT READ, a bunch of people who otherwise would have completely ignored its existence say YAY I HAVE NEVER READ IT BUT NOW I MUST.

In this particular instance, I think the implication that rape = porn is much more disturbing. Rape is not about sex. Rape is about power. Rape has nothing to do with how pretty you are, or what kind of short skirts you wear. These are all horrible, uninformed views that lead to victim shaming.

People like Wesley Scroggins are the reason Melinda Sordino (and countless other real teens) are afraid to speak.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

If you could travel back to any historical era for research purposes, which would you choose?

Okay, this one's kind of cheating for me. Anybody who knows me well can answer this for me: I'd go back to Macedon circa 330 BC, as Alexander the Great conquered the known world.

I have a huge Alexander the Great obsession; I wrote my thesis on him for high school. Everything about his reign was epic and groundbreaking, from his religious and cultural tolerance to his military genius.


So yeah. I'm a huge history junkie, so there's tons of other places I'd love to visit. Elizabethan England when Francis Drake conquered the Spanish Armada. Jamestown, when the colonists eked out a living from hostile land. Rome under Vespasian, a strange mix of savagery and civilization. The Meiji period in Japan, when Japan lost its innocence and leaped forward several centuries in 45 years.

But I'd visit 330 BC Macedon all for one person. Now that's the kind of thing novels are based around!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Writing Process

Here is a sampling of a day in the life.

6:00pm - Realize I've written nothing all day.
6:05pm - Find Cinderella II A Stitch in Time on youtube.
6:15pm - Get tired of hearing Cinderelly sing about how awesome her life is and write 200 words.
6:30 - Watch Evil Stepmother get the magic wand and think that if Cinderella had just gotten the bluebirds to pluck her eyes out this never would have happened.
6:34 - Get embarrassed that I'm watching Cinderella II and pound out another 500 words.
6:50 - Recover from embarrassment. See Cinderella sneak off to the palace and think that this never would've happened in the original because it requires doing something. Decide I like Disney sequels.
6:55 - Hear another song composed by rabid squirrels and an organ monkey and decide otherwise.
6:57 - Write 1,000 words to avoid thinking about how my life has come to this.

So there you have it. That's my writing process (sub in other Disney sequels, the Twilight movies, L.A. Ink, or anything else bad/dramatic). What's yours?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Writing Jealousy

Oh sweet goodness I haven't posted since April. Just smack me in the face now; go ahead.

There are lots of semi-good reasons; tests, full time internship, etc, but oh well. This summer was not the best one writing-wise; I've written more this week than I did the whole summer. And, well, let's not get into how much I've written this week.

It's weird; when I write I love reading writing blogs and I follow author's twitter accounts like the stock market. But when I'm not writing, I can't stand to read any of it. I guess when I don't write, I feel jealous of everyone else who is writing. Is that normal? Does anyone else do this? Tell me about your writing jealousy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Thursday March 14th, 3:30 pm

In my room, picking out my outfit for tonight. Princess Sparklepoop (or as she’s decided to be called today, MorbidTears) is nosying around my room, poking at my desk and asking lots of annoying questions. I guess this is what it would be like if my parents were interested in my life. Thankfully they have their own stuff and pretty much only bother me when report cards come out.

This makes it a lot harder to follow through with my “dress slutty and hope someone hits on me in front of Cooper” plan. I mean, I can’t lead Caroline down a path of debauchery at only 13!

Thursday March 14th, 3:40 pm

Waited until she went to the bathroom and stuffed a low-cut halter top into my bag, along with a denim belt that was mis-marketed as a skirt.

Thursday March 14th, 4:30 pm

FREEEEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM! I managed to escape my family by telling them I had a study date with Mia and then a date date with Cooper.

The only downside of this is that now I am stranded outside for the next three hours.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

“Well hey there, peeping tom,” an amused-sounding voice said.

Startled out of my terror (minimally distracted, anyway) I looked up and realized that I was at the next door neighbor’s second story window. And there was a guy leaning out the window, grinning at me.

And may I say (as a loyal girlfriend intent on getting it on with her current boyfriend)… damn.

He was some sort of Hispanic; dark skin the color of yadda yadda, as they say in those Romeo and Juliet but Nobody Dies movies. He had a plain white T-shirt on, but I was pretty sure there were some muscles under those sleeves. His hair was cut close – really close – but he managed to avoid the “I’ve been scalped” look so popular among skinheads.

I swallowed and said the first words that came into my head.

“Save me please?”

Neighbor Boy gave me one of those “she might be crazy” looks that I get a little more often than I’d prefer.

“Save you from what, exactly?”

“Um… the ground?”

He cocked his head to the side and gave me a flat-out “you’re insane” look.

“I’m serious! Look, I was bored so I climbed up this ladder because it was there, and now I’m very high off the ground. And I don’t want to climb down, because I’d have to do it without looking and knowing my luck I’d put a leg through the gap, knock the entire thing over, and come crashing through your living room.” I paused for a second. “And die.”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

YA Highway: Whose Writing Career Would You Have?

The question over at fabulous YA Highway today is: Whose writing career would you like to emulate?

I've read a bunch of these and the general answer is "I'd like to be popular, but not J.K. Rowling."

Okay, well, I'm not afraid to admit that I would love money and fame and if I become the next Stephanie Meyer there will be nobody more happy than me. :) If I could provide for my family and tell my parents they never had to work again, any amount of dealing with the downsides of fame would be worth it.

Maybe one day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Thoughts on Paranormal Romance

Okay, this is a topic that's been coming up a lot recently. There have been already been a ton of great posts like this and this and this , so I'm not going to go over why this trend of psuedo-rapist love interests is a Very Bad Thing.

Instead, I'm going to talk about why I think these books have become so popular.

Paranormal books are (mostly) about escapism, for a lot of people. They whisk you away into magical adventures with magical creatures that you wish you could see and talk to.

Or do you? Most of these books (for instance the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr) involve extremely dangerous creatures who hurl the main characters into life-threatening situations. Often friends or family members die, or at least are put in extreme situations. The main character has to grow up fast and make hard choices.

Do you really truly want to live in that world? Probably not. And yet we gobble up books like Twilight where the main character has her uterus ripped open by someone's teeth.

I think that the romances in paranormal books operate on this same principle. It has to be more extreme than real life. If someone were to hop into our bedroom at night and be like "Oh hai there how ya doin", we would be mightily freaked out. If a guy sexually assaults us, trust me, we will no longer find him attractive. Ever. Real life sexual assault is horrifying and frightening and demeaning.

But in books, this romantic intensity operates on the same principles of all the rape books that were so popular in the 50's and back. Girls like the idea of a boy being absolutely overcome with need for them, to the point where the girl can keep turning him down and he'll come back. In real life this doesn't happen because if we like someone, when they ask us out we go "YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU SIR". There's no chance for a guy to go to extremes chasing us. Books like Twilight and Hush, Hush let us live the fantasy without ever having to be in danger or discomfort.

Teaser Tuesday

From the WIP, now named Getting Some.

June 13th, 5:20 pm

Trying to research (aka reading Cosmo). It’s difficult though with Princess Sparklepoop looking over my shoulder in what is in her opinion a sneaky manner.

It’s not.

June 13th, 5:25 pm

Gave up reading; went onto instead. It’s basically a glorified excuse to cause drama, but I like to look at the “In a Relationship with Cooper” on the side of the page. And there’s a little picture of the two of us so everybody can see how hot he is. Cooper doesn’t go to my school, so is one of the better ways to make sure everybody knows that in fact I am not a widow.

I clicked through several people trying to get me to join a “Compare People” app. Oh good, an opportunity to give people a reason to hate me! I was sort of tempted to join the “Anonymous Opinions” app, but decided that leaving “You ruin people’s lives” on Mia’s page was probably not very best friendly.

Then again, neither was ruining my life in front of the entire cafeteria. Still, you win some you lose some. Although I seemed to lose more.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Author Appreciation Week:K.A.A. Applegate


Okay, so I may have not done #3 yesterday. I was busy with... school? And life? Anyway. I'm gonna try to do TWO today to make up for it, but don't hold me to it. Now, on to the author!

K.A.A. Applegate is the creator of what is still one of my favorite series of all time: Animorphs. To me, this work embodies what good young adult is all about: it's exciting, has characters you fall in love with, and it doesn't pull any punches. The books were short and I think technically shelved in middle grade, but I don't think a lot of parents would want their children reading these books if they knew the content. Aliens that crept into your ear and took over your mind, constant war with humans and aliens dying and limbs being torn off, massive internal struggles between good and evil. Not to mention kids sneaking out all the time.

Not your average young adult book. But I absolutely could not get enough of them. I loved the moral battles they had to go through, and the way they never seemed more than human. I loved the creation of the whole world of aliens (and how they weren't just humans with bumps on their foreheads).

Animorphs wasn't the only thing K.A.A. Applegate wrote, though. She also wrote a lot of teen books during the 80s, all of which I also dug up at used bookstores. And loved. The most well known of these is probably the Making Out series, which was awesome. I have to admit, when I was about to go to college, I read the ones where the characters go to college over and over again. (Although at the end I still wasn't quite sure what was happening with Nina and Ben...)

Thank you, K.A.A. Applegate for giving me some of my most beloved books and characters. Although for some reason Blogger won't let me do the < thingies.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Author Appreciation Week: Louise Rennison

My author appreciation today is an author that I actually did find when I was legit in my teens. And these books... wow. I can't really tell you how much they affected me (which sounds funny since they're a completely comedy series).

Louise Rennison and the Georgia Nicolson books. Wow. These books are so side-splittingly funny that I cannot help but laugh out loud every single time I read them. In high school, my two best friends and I would sit around my kitchen table and take turns reading them out loud, even though we'd all read them before. The language in the book became part of our language (and still is, even though we were about 14 when we read the books for the first time). We tried out all the british words and kept the ones that didn't make us sound like huge posers (mostly). I go to Scotland every year, so I would snag up the books early and bring them home in all their shiny hardcover glory. On the occasion the release date wasn't timed right, my dad would always go to some lengths to get it from Guess he knew how much I loved them.

These books really influenced my idea of good comedy, and how to make it. They're real life, but then they go that little bit over the edge that makes them hilarious. Which is basically my model for good comedy, and good novels in fact: real life, but more.

And, though this is really neither here nor there, the Fabbity Fab Fab Journal is the place where I first wrote down, "My boyfriend just said he loved me. Whaaaaaaaaaat?!"

Bison Horn dance to you, Louise Rennison!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday time! This is from the (still, yes) as-of-yet untitled WIP

Freezy’s, the ice cream store, was packed when we got in. Since I was holding Cooper’s hand I looked around hoping to see someone I knew, but no luck. We've been going out for almost a year, but it's never too late to lord your good fortune over other people and reduce your own karma to zilch.

We hung out there for awhile; I got fat and Cooper got a health shake. Bleh. He says they’re good; I say they’re rabbit food. Then again, this may be the reason that he is 170 pounds of pant-worthy muscle and I’m 155 pounds of barely-mobile flab.

Then we got back in the car and headed toward my house. Neither of us turned on the radio. The silence got really thick; it almost obscured the gigantic pink elephant dancing in the backseat. I shifted in my seat; this car ride was about as comfortable as when Dumbo went on his acid trip.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Author Appreciation Week: Tamora Pierce

This week is Author Appreciation week! Hosted by Heidi King, who has a book coming out that I'm vair vair excited to read.

The really difficult part of this was figuring out which author I wanted to talk about first, but when I got down to heavy thinking (management homework? what management homework?) I realized that the first one I thanked could only be one person: Tamora Pierce.

I think pretty much any girl even somewhat into fantasy who's between the ages of 13 and 25 will recognize this name and start squeeing immediately. Tamora Pierce wrote incredible quartets set in the fantasy kingdom of Tortall. Her best known books are probably the Alanna series and the Daine series, and Kel is pretty well known too.

I flat out adored these books. These are the kinds of books that the covers are falling off of because they've been read so many times. They featured strong female heroines who still had believable flaws and lovable personalities. There were some pretty frightening bad guys (some who even rose from the grave with the help of the good guys), and guys I fell completely in love with (hello Shang master and GEORGE THE THIEF. YES.).

These books dealt with a lot of complex issues - sex, teacher/student relationships, poverty, the idea of the world needing teamwork more than it needs lone heroes. Nothing was simple, and nothing was preachy.

I honestly feel like these books changed me a little. Not in any concrete way that I can point to, but their presence affected my life and my dreams as a kid.

So thank you, Tamora Pierce, for writing these books. I'm seriously looking forward to the Numair series!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Race and Writing

Okay, I've tried to avoid this topic for as long as possible, but the fact is that there isn't anything to be gained by avoiding it. (There are possibly many people to offend, but... I'll just hope that this is taken in the spirit it's meant.) Everybody knows not to judge by skin color (if they don't they're a hopeless case and I vote for the "eject" button), so I'm going to talk instead about something racially oriented that bothers me.

I feel like a lot of so-called "progress" is really holding us back. For instance, the African American Interest section in all bookstores. Basically what that says is, "If you're black this is where you belong, because you won't be interested in anything that's not about black people, written by black people." It's so limiting. What's next - bookstores divided not into science fiction, romance, and non-fiction, but instead into Chinese, Korean, and Japanese?

I truly believe that the color of your skin means nothing. But I don't want to act like culture is meaningless - If you send an African American from New York and a white person from Louisiana to Africa, who are they going to have more in common with? The fellow American, of course. Backgrounds and cultural norms do mean something, but not the color of our skin.

And those backgrounds and cultures... what do they mean if we can't learn from each other? If this wall of "yours" and "mine" is up, how will anybody understand each other? You can claim that these segregations are to try to cater to the unique needs of African Americans, but that makes about as much sense as a line of books for "Nordic Descent". I personally have on quite a few occasions bought books targeted for African Americans, and let me tell you - people give you funny looks, black or white. I don't feel like I should have to explain myself for enjoying the work of an African American author. Whether intentional or not, these divisions throw up more barriers that need to be torn down.

If we're going to make divides, it would make more sense to me if books were split up in "lower socio-economic class", "middle socio-economic class", etc. After all, a black person from the Bronx is going to have a hell of a lot more in common with a white person from Harlem than with a black person from Georgetown, VA.

Pride in your culture is great, but when it comes down to it: it's not where you're from, it's where you're going.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

This is from my newest WIP. I meant to write something else, but this plot bunny came along last night and ATE MY MIND. It refuses to stop.


Seriously, what the hell just happened? One minute I was in math texting Cooper (god forbid I pay attention, algebra might eat my mind) and then the next I got a little beep… and a message that said “U sure ur ready?”

WHAT. IS. THAT. I’ll tell you what it isn’t – It isn’t a roaring primal scream of triumph echoing over the hilltops. If the boy who must not be named had any decency at all, he would hop in his car, zoom over here going at least 40 over the speed limit, and carry me out in his arms because he had to take me right then and there.

But no. No no. Instead, I get the heartless text OF THE CENTURY. What is wrong with him?!

Got to go – bell’s about to ring. Wouldn’t want to be late; the universe might want to give me a pop quiz or anvil to the head or something.

September 10th, 4:00 pm

It was the pop quiz. Screw you geography, I know how to use Google Maps. Nice to know that Wile E. Coyote will still be getting his comeuppance, though.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday!

Topic #18: If You Could Be Any Book Character, Who Would You Be?

Okay, so I know that I already posted today, but this sounded like too much fun to pass up. I mean, who wouldn't want to be one of our favorite characters, going on magical adventures and/or having all the hot vamps fall in love with us?

Then I started thinking about it. And I realized that actually, the majority of my favorite books are not worlds I'd want to live in. For instance: Tortall. I love Daine and the love story between her and Numair, but no way in hell do I want to have my entire family killed and then go to a kingdom where I'm constantly involved in their wars. So that kind of takes magically dangerous worlds out of the equation.

My next thought was historical novels, but this is just way too much of a cop-out. Sure, I'd love to be in a Jean Plaidy or Mary Renault novel, but that's as much about getting to meet Francis Drake/Alexander the Great as it is about the book itself. So none of those.

What I eventually settled on were the horse books of my childhood, like The Saddle Club. Lame, I know, but in spite of the lack of having to do with actual riding, I loved them. I never had any friends who rode (still don't for that matter), and the idea of a supportive group of friends who all loved horses was like heaven to me.

Still, in spite of my enduring love for The Saddle Club, I'm going to have to go for a much more solitary heroine. Not to mention a much lesser-known one.

Jinny is the heroine of Patricia Leitch's series (I don't think the series ever had a name, they're just all about Jinny Manders). Jinny was a tough, willful budding artist who lived in a big dilapidated house on the Scottish highlands with her wild Arabian horse. They're very different from the usual series about a girl who probably doesn't have enough money to buy a horse, but she luuurves them so she works real hard and finally at the end of the book gets a horse of her own! In the next book, she struggles to prove herself to the other riders. In the next book, her antagonist hates her because her horse is prettier... yadda yadda.

The Jinny series is different. Different from anything else I've ever read, actually. Jinny has so many flaws - she's stubborn, willful, and not very social, among other things. But she's so passionate about what she wants - whether it's art or a mistreated circus horse - that you want desperately for her to get it. There's no romance in this series - no, really, NONE - although there is her dad's young co-worker Ken who's sort of hippyish and wise and I always imagined as very sexy. Jinny doesn't really have any friends either - there are a few people that she interacts with, but you know without it being said that they're just not very important to her. Her family and the aforementioned Ken are the only people she really cares about. The series itself, in spite of being about a girl and her horse, deal with a lot of series social issues (no, black people don't come up, but gypsies and poverty and class do). A big overarching theme in the book is modernity trying to tame the wilderness, or box it up and put it in museums. But the way these things are dealt with isn't heavy-handed; I'm very sensitive to being browbeat with messages, but everything in these books is open-ended. Jinny is wild and untamable just like her mare, but there's frightening sides to the wildness too.

It probably seems a bit strange that I'd want to be an asexual loner 13-year-old, but that's the magic of writing. I admire Jinny's passion - I like to think that I have a bit of it myself for my writing, but Jinny was passionate about everything she did. I've never been that way at all. And the wild, slightly eerie feel of the Scottish Highlands is so beautifully written that I wish I could be there and see it as Jinny sees it, riding atop her still slightly wild Arab horse.

I love these books too much for any of this to be really coherent (sorry about that), so I leave you with the only excerpt I could find online (my books are all at home):

Jinny forced herself to go on painting as fast as she could. Nell had said that her customers liked the drawings of Shantih best, so Jinny painted Shantih--Shantih's head, Shantih grazing, Shantih galloping, and Shantih jumping. If a bit of her drawing didn't look quite right, Jinny smudged it over. She drew grass round Shantih's hooves so that she didn't have to waste time with difficult fetlocks and pasterns; she painted swirling manes and tails to cover up necks that were too long or hocks that bent in an odd way.
All the drawings were hopeless and Jinny knew it. Even the ones that looked all right weren't of Shantih. They could have been any chestnut Arab.

The What-If Button

Okay, so, I originally was going to blog about starting new manuscripts and choosing between them. But it was a kind of lame topic really and I didn't have a ton of material, so I'm dropping it.

Instead I'm going to talk about one of my loves, and something that tends to work its way into my writing: history.

I found out about this incredible news earlier and immediately my mind started racing. Why was the site buried? Who buried it? Why did its worshippers die out? Who were they? Did they have bones in their faces or suck at hunting as much as the guy in 10,000 BC?

Everyone who writes does so because they're fascinated by certain questions. What if a young boy faked his own death and ran off with a slave? What if alien slugs tried to take over the earth and it was up to 5 humans to stop them? What if a vampire fell in love with a human girl and angsted about it for three books? What if somebody clubs me over the head with a what-if bat?

For me, history has always been one of those questions. What the Elizabethan court was really like and why Alexander the Great conquered half the known world are questions that will haunt me till I die, no matter how much I write about them. My current WIP is about King Arthur's Camelot - myths are a big part of history, and they fascinate me too.

So tell me - what taps your "what-if" button? Tell me in the comments!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

This is from my shimmery sparkly bedazzling new WIP, my as-yet untitled MG. Enjoy!

I hate ancient artifacts.

In fact, after 12 years of receiving some dead guy's crown or jewelry, I was ready for an ugly sweater present.

No such luck.

I sighed as I tore off the crinkled brown wrapping. In my hands lay a tarnished silver crown that glinted with jewels. Blue and amber stones set into the crown shone despite their age. I eyed it critically and guessed that it was probably Eastern European, circa 1300.

My mom gasped, intrigued despite the sender.

I upended the box. Another priceless birthday present without so much as a card. Thanks a lot, Dad.

Contest for Linger!

Linger Cover LargeIn Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.

Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.

Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day! I Love You Absolute Write

Alright well, the best plans of well, me, were thwarted. Blogger hates me and the video didn't work. So!

Since it is Valentine's Day... I thought I'd do a post about how much I love writing. And a certain site that has helped me along the way.

Ever since I was a little kid, I loved to write. In fact, I can't remember a time when I didn't write (and I'm sure most of you are the same way). Of course there's the born-again writers, who discover it in teenagehood or adulthood, but I'm one of the unlucky schlubs who's been doing it forever.

When I got to middle school, I started writing more seriously. I finished my first novel when I was 13, and throughout high school I worked religiously. All crap, of course, but I was getting closer and closer to something actually readable.

Then, at the very beginning of college, I started going to a certain site. A site where a lot of really great writers - even real ones, published ones! - congregated and talked about not just the art of writing but the business.

I was totally enthralled.

I stalked the site every day; I read all the links that people recommended, I went to forums like "Bewares and Background Checks" (even though I wasn't really sure what that was all about).

Eventually, I actually started talking from time to time. I'm much more of a lurker, but I put myself out there and actually met some fabulous writers online. Now I can't imagine what I did without a place to whine about queries and ask for encouragement.

So - here's to you, Absolute Write, for teaching me 90% of what I needed to know (and telling me to trust in myself for the other 10%). May many more young writers be as lucky as I was to discover you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ten Ways I Have Procrastinated On Revisions

1. Checking the weather obsessively - sadly, my school is the only one in the tri-state area that doesn't mind us slipping to our deaths on ice.

2. Watching The Nanny Valentine's marathon. Oh Mr. Sheffielddddddddddddddddd...

3. Eat.

4. Get fat. (This is somewhat related to #3)

5. Procrastinated on homework.

6. Read writer, agent, and editor blogs - alright, this one isn't quite so bad. All the Anonymous blogs kinda make my life.

7. Make an igloo that was promptly pushed in by a snowplow.

8. Read Snopes - turns out that 99% of the murderous madmen legends are untrue. The other 1% are unverifiable.

9. Hang out on AW and talk about writing.

10. Mourned the lack of Starbucks.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Favorite Books

Inspired by Kristin's post on your favorite books, I decided to do the same. Because it's a fun thing to talk about and I am a copycat.


MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOOKS (in no particular order)

1. The Persian Boy - Mary Renault

This book is written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Mary Renault. You probably haven't heard of her because she wrote books about lesbians and gay men in the 60s. The fact that she isn't considered a classic is a crime against humanity, but that doesn't have much to do with this book (except that Bagoas, the main character, is a eunuch in love with Alexander the Great).

I can't really say enough about her writing. It's beautiful, lyrical, poignant, and truthful. And if she hadn't written about gay men and women, she would be required reading for every high schooler.

2. Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain

don't play with me, you know what the cover looks like

I think that everyone has a book that changes them. This is mine. I read it when I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and for the first time I realized that not everybody saw the world in the same way I did. Reading from unimaginative, realistic Huck's point of view, I understood how different someone like Tom (who I resembled far more) was. It was a pretty big realization for me, and stirred my interest in people (Mark Twain is to blame for my childhood habit of eavesdropping on anyone and everyone).

Those are the only two individual books that I think I have that much to say about (at this time). Mostly the books that have affected me other than these comes in the form of authors and their fabulous writing styles. Not that I don't love Mary Renault and Mark Twain as authors, because I've read pretty much everything by them.

Enid Blyton and Tamora Pierce had a huge influence on my childhood. I also love Steven Brust (fantastic author of the Taltos series), and K.A. Applegate (author of the Animorphs series which I still contend is brilliant and will someday get its own post when I'm important enough that people pay attention to me).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do You Get It?

Instead of Teaser Tuesday, I decided to ramble on a little bit about a topic that's rather near and dear to my heart: "getting" books from different eras.

Brilliant books like Robert Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy (or simply fun ones like the Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton) are falling by the wayside in favor of ones whose pop culture references and language resonate with the people of today. Now, I'm not saying this is anything new, or nothing would ever get written, but I have to say that it kills my heart a little bit when the language in something written as recently as the 70s will cause my friends to say, "No thanks."

I think that some people have the impression that just because a book was written 20 or 100 years ago, the authors lacked humor, and any book they read will be drier than a History Channel documentary on watches. Not so! A great example of this is my current read, the Sherlock Holmes novels, which have lines like: "...the conduct complained of was that he had drifted into the habit of winding up every meal by taking out his false teeth and hurling them at his wife...", scenes with Sherlock Holmes and Watson bursting into simultaneous laughter at things that would take too long to explain here (they're funny, I promise), and epic bromance lines with Sherlock telling Watson he would be lost without him.

The other cause of this is probably laziness, which annoys me infinitely more - not because I think that everyone should have to make a huge effort to read for pleasure, but because there are gorgeous, exciting stories waiting behind the hansom cabs and jolly good chaps.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

My first Teaser Tuesday! :) I've been pretty busy with getting back to school, but now that school's finally started and I'll have a routine, my updating should be much more regular.

So, without yammering on and on about it...

Jai paused as he watched the horde of his people begin the ascent to the surface. Wills warred within him; stay or go? Of course, he craved the sweet air of the surface, and the sight of moonlight glancing off the water.

But more than that, this choice, like every other in Jai’s world, could mean the difference between life or death.

No stomach for it tonight? A particularly large, nasty kelpie named Cloren hissed as he swam by.

Jai snarled at the insult and shot past Cloren in the water, mocking the larger kelpie with his speed.

I’ll see you up there… eventually, Jai called back.

Now committed to his course, Jai sped toward the surface. He avoided the large bunch of kelpies gathered around the shark’s abrasive body and cut his own path straight upward.

While the rest of the kelpies slanted toward the bottom of the boat that Jai could now see looming into the water, Jai raced upward as fast as he could. He knew it was wrong; knew that his half-fish, half-human form might be seen by true humans as he arced out of the water, but Jai couldn’t help himself.

In any case, all these humans were about to die.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Avatar: The Last of the Unobtanium

I went and saw Avatar in Imax 3D this weekend to see what the hype was about because I'm interested in fascinating special effects.

And I was not disappointed! There were many fascinating special effects (and also some petals drifted toward the screen in 3D).

So, I present: Avatar in 2D (and 5 minutes)

Jake: *wakes up* Where's my legs... Oh yeah. Bummer.

Scientists: Hello! You've been asleep for 5 years. Please do not get out of your straightjackets and mess up any of our precious equip- oh god, there's our $5 million grant down the tubes.


Troops: *YELL*

Grace: I am a scientist! Except I've been working on these Avatars, which you haven't heard of for some reason. You haven't heard of the language either, or the customs. You are going to be such a help.

Jake: My twin brother died... I am here to take his place.

Grace: Yeah, still not helpful.

Norm: Omg! Avatars! So cool! I speak the language! As long as you're not better than me at making friends with the natives, we'll be bffs for life!

Jake: Weehee! Legs!

Scientists: Get back here!

Jake: No!

Norm: Get back here!

Jake: No!

Grace: You learn quickly, young grasshopper.

Jake: No! I mean, thanks.

Grace: Let's go out on a mission and bring Jake, even though he serves no purpose that a human soldier couldn't serve.

Jake: *pokes things*


Grace, Norm, Jake: AHHHH! *runs*

Grace & Norm: Thank Eywha we made it back to the ship. Jake...?

Jake: Oh crap, wrong way.

Later that night...

Jake: Raaaa! Back, dire wolves! You are no match for my pretty fire!

Neytiri: Stupid human. You shall DIE! Crap, these fireflies seem to disagree.

Jake: Why did you save me?

Neytiri: Quiet fool, I hate you. Now go die somewhere else.

Jake: *follows*

Jake: Maybe if I keep talking, you'll change your mind. Hey, look, lots of fireflies.

Neytiri: Goddammit. Stupid tree. C'mon, let's go see the Chieftan.

At Grandmother Willow the Hometree

Mo'at: You're a warrior? Warriors are pretty rad. Neytiri, you shall teach him our ways.

Neytiri: Dun wanna!

Mo'at: Bitch, plz.

Neytiri: *raptor snarl*

The Next Three Months

Parker: My stockholders are unhappy when we don't get money. Find a way to get the savages to let us destroy their land, or they all die! Snake Eyes here will do the dirty work.

Colonel Miles: Arrr, I'll get ye yer leg back if ye do my bidding.

Jake: Weehee, legs! But these savages are actually pretty sweet. I get to have hairsex with horses and everything.

Neytiri: You are one of us.

Clan: *celebrates*

Under the Spirit Tree

Neytiri: You may now choose your woman.

Jake: I want only you!

Neytiri: I knew you were going to say that.

*sexors* (probably involving hair)

Next Morning

Backhoes: Mornin'!

Neytiri: Nooooooooooooooo!

Jake: *asleep*

Neytiri: Wake up wtf backhoes are about to run over you!

Jake: *wakes up* Oh crap! I will kill these backhoes power by smashing their camera with a rock! GO SAVAGES!

Colonel Miles: ... I knew it. *disconnects Jake from Avatar*

Jake: What the hell man?! I was totally persuading them!

Colonel Miles: *plays video of Jake saying he cannot persuade them*

Jake: ... Oh, right, that.

Parker: Whatevs, one hour and then their tree is firewood.

At the Hometree

Jake & Grace: Soooo, sorry about betraying you and all, but we've known for three months that the humans were going to saw down your big tree. Hope you don't mind being homeless for awhile, but them's the breaks for the people who don't evolve enough to make guns.


Jake: I fell in love with you!

Neytiri: *raptor snarl*

Parker: Hour's up!

Hometree: *dies*

In Prison

Jake: This sucks. When do we get fed?

Trudy: It's okay guys, I'm breaking you out! I'm a pilot for the military, but I've suddenly decided that I hate violence. I'd rather cause violence to my own people!

Grace: I got shot, but it's only a flesh wound. Or not.

Jake: I've got to do something. I know, I'll tame the convenient plot point that was mentioned a little earlier in the movie! I have a theory... that proves immediately to be completely correct. Toruk, you are mine!

Toruk: *caw*

Jake: People! Look at my badass Toruk! Now do you trust me?

Neytiri: Yes.

The People: *attempt to save Grace*

The People: *fail*

Grace: Their God is real... *dies*

Mo'at: Y'know, we could put any human soul into an Avatar. Just saying.

Jake: Another convenient plot point I must remember for later! Thank you for dying for a purpose Grace.

During the Next... Week?

Jake: If we band together, we can defeat the white man! Join me, tribes! It worked for the Iroquois Confederacy! Er... But this is a movie!

Tribes: HOO-RAH! We like killing the white man, but it is okay because we are savages! And also unobtanium is a stupid name.

The War

Jake: Thank god 2,000 tribespeople can win against 200,000 well-equipped human soldiers when Mother Pandora is on your side! Pandora, by the way, is another name for Earth. Trufax!

Neytiri: Although your human body is very sexy, it's about three feet too short. Let's put you into an avatar and tie up these ends nicely.

Jake: Weehee, legs!

Jake's Twin Brother: It's awesome how I was never mentioned again.

The End.

Hope you enjoyed!