CLICK HERE FOR BLOGGER TEMPLATES AND MYSPACE LAYOUTS »

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Along for the Ride Review

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Summary:
Riding a bike is only one of the many things Auden's missed out on. Even before her parents' divorce, she was cast in the role of little adult, never making waves, focusing on academics to please her demanding mother.

Now she's spending the summer before college in the tiny beach town of Colby with her father and his new wife and baby. A job in a trendy boutique introduces her to the world of girls, their friendships, conversations, romances. And then there's Eli, an intriguing loner. A former star on the bike circuit and a fellow insomniac, Eli introduces Auden to the nocturnal world of Colby. Together they embark on a quest: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to put a tragic episode behind him. Combine two lonely people with a charming beach town and an endless supply of long summer nights, and just about anything can happen.

Review:
When I went to the bookstore last week, I was only allowed to buy one book, a challenge for me. I eventually chose Along for the Ride and I think I made the right choice.

The book is very enjoyable with lifelike, round characters. Sometimes while I was reading I forgot everything else around me I was so deeply absorbed. Sarah definitely has a gift for creating believable characters. Auden, the girl whose entire life has been consumed by academics to the point that she's had little fun. The mother, an academic herself that wants her daughter on her side and doesn't believe people can change. The father, a selfish novelist that seems to always need to have things his way. Eli, the quiet boy whose life was changed forever when an accident killed his best friend, an accident that he believes is all his fault. Even the minor characters don't feel flat in any way.

I really enjoyed the writing and the voice in this story. It was a wonderful plot all packed together with characters that feel more like friends and a great story behind it.

The ending was very cute, but not unexpected. Not that I didn't go 'Awwwww' quiet enough that my mother sitting in the front seat of the car didn't hear and ask what I was Aw-ing about.

I'm already looking for more from Sarah Dessen and hoping I can return to the bookstore soon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Releases

I decided I needed to do something on Thursdays. I post on every weekday and I feel like I'm neglecting Thursdays. So from now on I'm going to feature a few new releases or do a book review. I found these books on the Barnes and Noble and teenreads.com new release lists. All summaries and pictures are from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Kiss and Hell by Dakota CassidyDelaney Markham doesn't just see dead people, she hears them too. And FYI—communicating with tortured souls all day can really wreak havoc on your love life. Sans boyfriend, Delaney makes the best of her gift by holding séances to make ends meet—that is until one incredibly annoying ghost just won't go away.

Besides being sinfully hot—in a college professor sort of way—all signs point to Clyde Atwell being much more than the ordinary spirit. In fact, he's a newbie demon whose first assignment is to take Delaney back down to hell with him. Yeah, like that's going to happen on the first date.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessent’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
Post Grad: A Pre-Life Crisis by Emily Cassel

What happens when your life doesn’t go according to plan?
Ryden Malby had a plan. Step One: do well in high school, thereby achieving Step Two: get a kick-butt college scholarship. Step Three – limit her beer pong in order to keep said scholarship – wasn’t always easy. Now that she’s finally graduated, it’s time for Step Four: moving to LA to land her dream job at the city’s best publishing house. So far, Ryden’s three-for-three, but she’s about to stumble on Step Four….
When Jessica Bard, Ryden’s college nemesis—the prettiest, smartest, most ambitious girl at school—steals her perfect job, Ryden’s forced to move back to her childhood home in the Valley. Stuck with her eccentric family – a karate-obsessed dad, a politically incorrect grandma, a spoiled-brat little brother – and a growing stack of rejected job applications, Ryden starts to feel like she’s going nowhere. The only upside is spending time with her best friend Adam—and running into her hot next-door neighbor David. But if Ryden’s going to survive life as a post-grad, it may be time to come up with a new plan…

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writing Wednesday

I'm so tired right now. I was up until 1 am last night on half a can of chocolate frosting and a bottle of Sierra Mist. I had an all night write planned, but it didn't happen. First it was writers' block and then I started looking at horses for sale in my area and found one that would be perfect for me and my mom. If we only had $2,800.

I've been a bad person lately not posting on Friday and Monday. I developed an obsession with an old TV show that's as old as I am, the Nanny. I watched all six seasons in four days. They just don't make shows that good anymore. It's also on for one hour at 11 pm EST on Nick at Nite every night.

My new TV obsession is Secret Life of the American Teenager, but I'm all caught up on that show and looking forward to the new episode Monday. I won't be able to see it until Tuesday unless my mom goes out though. She hates that show even though she's never even seen it. The season premiere -- which came out Monday and I watched yesterday -- was amazing. I should've stopped after the last season, but I couldn't. And now I'm hooked again.

And we have some AMAZING news! Normally I would save news like this for Friday, but I can't wait that long. My twiftie friend Kody and her first book, The Duff, were talked about on Janet Reid's blog! You can read that here. Congrats Kody!

And finally you probably noticed that I changed my blog layout. I was getting bored with the boring purple one and found this awesome layout courtesy of pyzam.com. Unfortunately, getting a new layout deleted all my widgets so I had to redo them. The site roll is all updated with some awesome links and I also updated my 'Current Read' box. I didn't bother to replace the WIP box from the old layout, but I do have some plans for something else like it in the future.


****

That's all my news so I'll move on to writing.

Andra - The rewrite is stuck. I'm still on chapter 11 with no sign of when I'm going to continue. Polishing has reached chapter four; I'm probably going to do that tonight. My beta has chapter five.

Shipwrecked and Black Diamond - I'm getting pretty close to breaking down and starting the rewrite on these two, just to have something to do.

Assassin's Wife - Coming along slowly. I finally broke down and checked the word count (I'm keeping it hidden because after Andra was done I started to get obsessed with making word count. And once that started, I couldn't get to 50k for anything.) It stood at 10k that day, which is a little disappointing. The story is progressing rather fast and I'm thinking I might need to slow it down a little to make word count. I was hoping this might be my first 75,000 word novel since I might be aiming for adults rather than teens like I normally write.

No Kissing and Jump - Both are on hold. Unless I get a sudden burst of inspiration it's probably going to stay that way until AW is done.

Untitled - A little idea that's been buzzing around my head. I'm thinking I might write it for myself. No one but me will ever read it and I'm not going to report on its progress. Just because writing is slowly starting to lose it's fun factor. I'm too worried about people liking it and making word count and whether it's good. But this would just be for me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Writing Wednesday

It's Writing Wednesday again. I think. It is Wednesday, right? *checks date on computer* Yep. It is. :D During the school year what day of the week it is is important. Because, you know, on Tuesday it's three more days until the weekend. On Friday it's counting down the hours until that two days of freedom. But during the summer it's just, 'what day is it? Oh, really? Cool.' It doesn't matter if it's Tuesday or Friday or Monday because pretty much every day is the same. Wake up, do whatever it was you had planned that day, go to sleep.

I watched Prince Caspian last night (yes, this is important. To me). I love that movie. Yes, I cried when they had to leave. Just like I do every time I see that movie. But I can't help it. Who doesn't love Ben Barnes? (unless you're a guy I suppose)

ANYWAY getting away from Ben's wonderful hair in that movie...

Andra - Rewrite is now on Chapter 11. I'm kind of stuck especially since I'm not 6 chapters ahead of my beta...

Black Diamond and Shipwrecked - Have both started calling me again. But I'm not allowed to touch them until I start querying Andra. Which will be September at this rate when I go back to school and probably won't have much time for rewriting anyway. *sighs*

Assassin's Wife - is going again! Prince Caspian helped me get past my writers' block and I wrote four pages. Which is a lot if you think that I haven't even opened it since June 7th and haven't actually written on it since long before that.

No Kissing - I wrote a page or two on this too a few days ago, but it's pretty much stuck again.

Jump - Has been on the backburner for quite a while. I'm getting up to a very traumatizing part of the story for Hannah which starts the chain of events leading to her attempted suicide so I'm definitely not looking forward to writing it. But I will, eventually.

I'm off now! Trying to decide between working on Andra, Assassin's Wife, or this new beta project that I received this morning and am looking forward to diving into.

P.S. - Since I'm now posting on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday I'm trying to think of something to do on Thursdays. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Old Writing

Okay, I know I didn't have a proper post last Monday, but this time I'm going to have one. While doing some cleaning last week I discovered an old short story that I wrote for an assignment four years ago. The writing is very passive and isn't my best, but I wanted to share anyway.

The Christmas Horse
November 2005
The auction house bustled with the usual afternoon activity. Sitting in the front row of the seats were Rachael and her mother. As the next horse was led into the ring they both sat on the edge of their seats. This was the horse they had been waiting for. He was a big chestnut Clydesdale with brilliant white feathers on his feet and a large white strip on his forehead in the shape of a Christmas tree.

The bidding had started and it was very slow. No one seemed to want the big horse. The bidding, after much time, reached $100. The price rose slightly as Rachael's mom and a man in the back row fought for the big horse. The price eventually reached $150. Rachael held her breath as the man in the back row quit the fight and left the auction house. The horse was pronounced sold to Rachael's mom and as promised her mom presented the big horse to Rachael.

After 2 weeks the big horse, whom she named Jingle, was flourishing in the wonderful home he had. After a while Rachael began to train Jingle for the Christmas Parade, in which he would be pulling a sleigh. She bought a harness covered with large golden bells. Her mom helped her repaint the large sleigh from the old barn and prepare for the parade.

On the day of the parade Rachael got up early and groomed Jingle's coat until it shined like a new penny. She hosed off the sleigh inside the barn and polished the sides until it looked like new. Then she polished the harness and hooked Jingle to the sleigh. When her mother finished the morning farm chores Jingle was waiting next to the stairs at the front of the house. A light snow had started to fall and Jingle's mane and back were already coated with the sparkling snow. Her mom bundled up plenty of blankets and they set off for Tart St. for the start of the parade. They were to be at the front of the parade. They paraded down the streets, Jingle picking his feet up high in a lively trot The marching band followed behind them, cheerily playing Jingle Bells.

Close to end the snow slowly began to stop. when the parade came to a stop Rachael stood up in the sleigh and waved to the crowd. Everyone clapped and she smiled in happiness, still waving at the joyful crowd. Jingle shook his head and whinnied to the crowd.


That was completely unedited; I took it straight from my assignment. It would've been better, but we were limited to a page and a half double-spaced, typed. I had this whole story planned out where Jingle was going to be neglected and Rachael had to bring him back to health, but we didn't have enough space. I'm thinking about rewriting this story soon. The way I wanted it to be written the first time.

Sometimes it's fun to go back and look at old stories. They're good for laugh or a cringe, thinking 'this is horrible! I wrote this?!' But that just shows how much you have improved. :D

Friday, June 12, 2009

Week in Short

So I'm bringing back my Friday posts and changing them to 'Week in Short.'

Must read of the week: Nathan Bransford's database of his posts on writing, revising, publishing, and many other helpful things here.

Monday:

  • High point of the day occured in the evening when we had a big thunderstorm complete with tornado warning and the threat of 60 mph winds and quarter-sized hail which never actually fell. Didn't even rain.
  • Improved chapter four drastically. I wasn't satisfied with one of the scenes, but it is much improved from its previous suckish state.
  • Only one post that I wanted to share from Monday. Follow the link to the wonderful world of GraphJam.
Tuesday:
  • Mom forced me to sort through a small tote full of old papers. I uncovered two of my old stories. One I'm saving to share on Monday and the other one I'm either going to burn its so horrible, share it with the world when I'm published someday, or keep it for laughs.
  • Lots of wonderful posts on Tuesday.
  • Janet Reid's post on querying too soon. I could have checked off all those things when I queried Andra and yet it was still too soon.
  • The BookEnds blog has a very useful, updated dictionary of publishing terms.
  • Janet Reid also has a post about Columbine, a book that I plan to read someday soon. If you haven't heard of it, check out the link.
  • Rachelle Gardner has a post on query services and shortcuts.
  • Nathan Bransford has a checklist for all of you currently revising novels (me included).
  • And last, but certainly not least, the Queryshark had a triple hitter today with this (genre not found), women's fiction, and YA literary fiction. There's some good tips in there, as always.
Wednesday
  • Was forced to drive. Tried to force the car onto the wrong side of the road despite the rather adamant tugs on the wheel by my mother. Almost crashed into a truck. Note to self: correct lane is on the right side of the road, not the left. After that though, it went quite well.
  • Had a very productive day writing wise. Apparently that adrenaline is a very good thing for writing. I finished rewriting three chapters and finished one of my beta projects.
  • Wonderful interview with literary agent, Beth Fleisher.
  • Things editors bought recently here. Number 13 shares some similarities with, ahem, Jump.
  • And one of my fellow twifties recently interviewed author, Susane Colasanti here!
Thursday:
  • Rained the entire day. After waking up to it raining, it's quite wearing when it's still raining when you go to sleep that night. At least it gave me an excuse to sit inside and do nothing.
  • Russet Noon made the news again. I'm not even going there again.
  • Janet Reid's updated her post on what will get you an instant rejection on your query.
Friday:
  • Went on a three mile hike today and am now exhausted. I have like 50 pictures on my camera from the hike. Maybe I'll share a few when I get around to uploading them.
  • I might be participating in all-night writer-a-thon tonight with a bunch of twiftie/AW pals so hopefully I'll have something to report on Wednesday. I'm also expecting my chapter three critique back from my beta tonight so I have that to look forward to.
  • Check out the comments of this post for a list of the best books on writing and publishing.
  • Awesome post on revisions from a blog I don't normally read, but will from now on.
Have a great weekend everyone and I'll see you on Monday!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Writing Wednesday

Hmm this week is going by very slow. I bet the time goes by really, really slow until July 15th (HBP release) and then starts going really fast. Exactly what I don't want to happen. Ah well.

It's been a quiet week around here. Just been cleaning and writing and catching up on my beta reading.

Andra - just finished chapter five rewrite this morning! Going to start on chapter six probably tonight if I have time. My ultimate goal is to have the whole thing rewritten, beta read, and polished by July. That gives me twenty days. Depending on whether I actually go anywhere and how much cleaning my mom makes me do, it's possible. I'm trying very hard not to rush it, but it's hard knowing that I'm probably going to be gone for two weeks in August with limited computer access for checking my inbox.

Shipwrecked and No Kissing - been debating putting these two on the shelf. Shipwrecked because it's so juvenile and NK because if Shipwrecked was that way, it probably will be too. But I'm going to think about it until Andra's rewrite is done.

Assassin's Wife and Jump are pretty much on hold as I'm funneling all my writing urges into Andra. I hope to return to them someday, but in the meantime they're like my sideline projects. I work on them once in a while when an idea comes, but not often.

Most of my writing time lately has been taken up by fanfiction (my guilty pleasure) and beta reading. Fanfiction because it gives me instant satisfaction and I'm so close to being done with this great fic that I'm rather passionate about at the moment, and beta reading because I really need to catch up and get these two projects done and out of here by their deadlines.

Everyone have a great rest of the week! :) I will be back on Friday this time.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Monday

It was a long first two days off school involving a graduation party and three baby girls ranging from 3 to 6 months that I haven't seen since February. Babies don't seem to like me. Small children on the other hand are attracted to me like I'm some sort of magnet. (We have a lot of younger kids in our family and they all come to me.)

On top of the exhaustion of all that, my writing muse seems to have gone on vacation. Seriously, if you see her please send her home because I'm getting sick of not writing. I'm too depressed to write and not writing makes me more depressed. It's like a neverending cycle. I'm hoping I feel better soon.. Though I'm seeing my baby niece and her baby cousin today again so that's not likely.

Not to mention the fact that I only passed my physics exam by 3%. I got 100% on it first tri so I have no clue what happened there. My teacher's a bad teacher, end of story (and he's not my scapegoat, it's really his fault, because he let us use all our notes and I couldn't find half of what was on the exam in my notes).

So today my writing muse didn't come back long enough to tell me what to write about. I was going to do a review on the entire Inheritance Cycle, but I just don't feel like it.

Um...I've gotten rather attached to Day After Tomorrow and 10 Things I Hate About You. I've now seen both movies twice in the past week. I need to start writing again...this is pathetic.

What I really need to do is find a story that I feel passionate about. A soft one that doesn't make me depressed every time I think about writing it.

In Assassin's Wife Rebekah is still under Taryn's control and will continue to be for quite a while.

No Kissing just depresses me in general because I'm too...kiddie when it comes to the romance scenes if Shipwrecked is anything to judge by.

I'm not sure why I can't work on Andra's rewrite. It's not like that's depressing.

In Jump Hannah's mother is about to die in some sort of accident.

No wonder I don't want to write... In the last two weeks, the only thing I've really been writing is fanfiction. I think it's because of the instant gratification of the wonderful reviews.

Sorry about the meaningless blather. I'm off to work on reading those beta projects and see if I can get myself out of this slump.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

One Year Anniversary

It seems like I never talk about horses on here. Probably because I haven't ridden in about 8 months. :( But today I'm going to.

It just hit me. It has been exactly one year since my horse had to be euthanized because she colicked. Lady was my first horse and the only horse I've ever owned. I'd had her for a year. We'd been through ups and downs together during that year. She gave us a couple scares with minor injuries and taught me how to sit a buck and how not to complete a flying lead change. Despite the fact that she had the roughest canter in existance, she also had the smoothest jog I've ever ridden. She gave me two falls, one that I laughed off with ease and one that scared me worse than any other I had taken before.

The Sunday before she died I rode her and cantered. I'd been rather wary of cantering her lately, but I felt brave. And she did great. Not one buck and I actually managed to sit it the entire time. I looked forward to showing in 4-H that year for the first time.

But it wasn't meant to be. That Tuesday was just like any other. I went to school and had an average day. When I got into my mom's car after school, she told me Lady had colicked that day. When they had gone out to check on here that morning (she was boarded), she was covered in dirt and mud. Now Lady was a prissy horse. Her blanket was always clean and she would never roll in it. Just the fact that she was covered in mud was cause for alarm.

The vet was called out and Lady was kept up and moving. The vet couldn't find anything wrong and they walked her all day. It was around 4 when we got the call to come over because the people that worked there needed to do their jobs and Lady couldn't be walked. We rush over there and we start walking her up and down the drive and around the indoor arena. I walked her for five hours straight and she went down and rolled on me twice. Each time I got her back up and kept walking. She could barely stand because she'd been standing for so long. We tried to let her lie down, but each time she did she tried to roll and that's not good with a colicking horse.

It wasn't until around 9 that the vet came back again. He checked again and said she'd twisted her intestine. With that diagnosis there are only two choices: euthanasia or surgery. The surgery comes with a $5,000 vet bill, requires transportation of at least an hour to the nearest vet hospital, no guarantee for survival, and not much of a life afterwards. It was a tough decision, but it was the right one. My mom sent me out the car, crying so hard I couldn't see, while it was done. My instructor asked me if I wanted to keep a lock of her tail hair and I said yes, but I never got it.

R.I.P. Lady. I still miss you.

Writing Wednesday

TWO MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL! I can't wait until these two days are over! I'm already taking time away from studying the presidents to write this post. But we have an hour of study time tomorrow before we even take the exam, so it's not really that vital.

Andra - I finished polishing chapter two, sent chapter three to my beta, and am hoping to finish rewriting chapter four tonight. Ahh the joys of rewriting. My enthusiasm is slowly wearing off.

Shipwrecked - is on hold for Andra's revisions. Plus I'm still waiting on two more betas.

Assassin's Wife - I almost did some work on it yesterday, but I can't seem to get up the enthusiasm for working on it. Plus I need to chart out how the government works for my world.

No Kissing - Haven't worked on this one for a while. Probably should try to get some work done on it.

Jump - My enthusiasm is slowly wearing off, but I'm going to do some work sometime.

I figure my WIPs will pick up a lot more when I finish rewriting Andra. Right now the rewrites and edits are taking up a lot of my time. Plus the studying and homework that I have to do...