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.