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Friday, July 29, 2011

Week in Short

Song of the Week: Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri. I can't stop listening to this song.

Must Read:
Still your itchy trigger finger -- Why you should wait before hitting send

News:
Borders has officially gone under and is selling all of its stores. I feel like I just lost my home.

Janet Reid is taking a break from queries

Peeta and Gale from Hunger Games are on the cover of Entertainment Weekly What do you think? I'm hoping Gale and Peeta's looks are different in the movie than the are on the cover. IMO both of them look too old and I've always imagined Peeta as looking younger and softer than that. Katniss looks okay.

The publication date for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green has been moved up from to January 10th from May. My first thought: IS IT JANUARY 10TH YET?

Omnivore Books live-tweeted in-store surprise marriage proposal

WriteOnCon:
It's almost time for WriteOnCon 2011!
How the live events work
Faculty announcements

BookEnds:
Workshop Wednesday -- YA query

Caroline in Space:
Editorial rejections: To read or not to read?

Rachelle Gardner:
Elevator pitch critiques

Writer Beware:
Offer of representation and book deal hoax

Hope everyone has a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RTW: Best Book of July

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in July?

The best reread was, of course...
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
I spent a large portion of July rereading this book in preparation for the movie. This was the third time I've read it, the first time I've read it since I started writing seriously, and I'm happy to say that it has not lost it's magic. This book is still one of my favorites of all time.

And yes, I cried.

The best book I read for the first time was...
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
I love this book with a passion. It's actually overdue at the library by about a week and I don't want to take it back. You can read my full review of it here.

What was the best book you read this month? Have you ever loved a book so much you didn't want to take it back to the library?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Legacy Review

Legacy
by Cayla Kluver

#1 in Legacy trilogy
In her seventeenth year, Princess Alera of Hytanica faces one duty: to marry the man who will be king. But her father's choice of suitor fills her with despair.

When the palace guard captures and intruder—a boy her age with steel-blue eyes, hailing from her kingdom's greatest enemy—Alera is alarmed…and intrigued. But she could not have guessed that their clandestine meetings would unveil the dark legacy shadowing both their lands.

In this mystical world of court conspiracies and blood magic, loyalties will be tested. Courage won't be enough. And as the battle begins for everything Alera holds dear, love may be the downfall of a kingdom.

I didn't hate it, but I didn't really like it either. I wanted so badly to love it, but I couldn't. Through the first half of the book I was constantly waiting for the "real" action to start. When it did, I got caught up in the story a little bit more but by the time I got to the end, I felt like I had just read an entire novel of backstory.

London and Narian were the best characters, though I'm still confused as to what both really want. I wasn't surprised when Alera asked London to marry her. I was more shocked that she didn't consider that sooner. I can't believe Narian fled to the mountains, though. He doesn't seem the fleeing kind.

Temerson was also an excellent character and I hope we see more of him. Steldor is the stereotypical arrogant son of a very powerful man who has it all (except the wife) and insists on charming everyone around him. The King is flat and I'm having trouble believing that he would be so adamant about someone with as quick a temper as Steldor being King.

I love the self-defense scenes, the bedroom scene, and the sneaking out scene. Though I'm a little confused as to why Narian would teach Alera how to handle a sword when he's supposed to be teaching her self-defense. In the event where she needed self-defense, the odds of her getting her hands on a sword in time to defend herself are long.

The Cokyrian weaponry was genius. I particularly loved the poison darts hidden in the threads of his clothes. I was a little confused, though, that Narian doesn't show proficiency at hand-to-hand combat. I figured when he said that no Cokyrian is ever without a weapon, he meant his body was a weapon. And yet it seemed like he meant the daggers hidden in his boots and the poison darts in his clothes.

Overall: 5/10. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. If I spotted the next book in the library, I might pick it up, but I'm not in any hurry to get my hands on it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mom, Where Do Ideas Come From?

It's probably the most common question any writer gets asked after "Are you published?"

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Like a writer is suddenly going to answer with the location of an Idea Store where beautiful ideas line the shelves and we can just walk in and pick up a likely looking one. The real answer tends to be a lot more complicated. My answer is always the same:

Everywhere.

It's the best answer I can give and it's 100% true. I've had ideas hit me while I was sitting in a car driving down the road. I've had ideas hit me at track meets. I've had ideas hit me while I'm sleeping. Here are the stories behind some of my novels.

DestinyThe original story (called Andra) came from a dream I had. I know there was more to it, but the only part that I can remember with full-clarity now is an actual scene in the book. My dream self woke up on a stretch of grass and looked up to see a barbed wire fence surrounding her. She screamed and ran at the fence and clutched at it like she was going to rip it apart to escape. Men in black robes came up behind her and dragged her away into a building. When I woke up, the full story bloomed inside my head. I let it simmer for a year or two before I finally set down and wrote it out.

Black Diamond
Inspired by Parker in Joanna Campbell's Thoroughbreds series, I wanted to write a series of books about a girl and her eventing horse.

Jump
I was sitting at a track meet and looking up at the top of the bleachers when I started to wonder what would happen if someone jumped off there and ended up in a coma. Then I started to wonder why a girl would want to do that. And Hannah was born. I held the idea in my head for an hour until I was able to get to the car and write it down.
Aliens Ruined My LifeThis one was inspired by my constant thoughts about what it would be like after someone "normal" saved the world. In my mind there were so many stories about someone normal getting special powers and then saving the world from certain destruction, but very little about what happened after the world was saved. And so the story of Kate, a girl that saved the world from aliens, was born.

Where There's Smoke
The idea that kicked off WTS only vaguely resembles the draft that is here today. It was born when I was sitting in a car contemplating ranches for troubled teens and got the itch to write a love story with this setting. WTS is no longer set on a ranch for troubled teens, but the premise is the same.

Cardinal ThreeThis one was born from a news article about how scientists believed they had discovered the gene that causes people to cheat on their significant others. I went off on a tangent over this and CT was born.

Where do your ideas come from? Have you ever written a story from a dream? What's your usual answer to the infamous question?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Series Syndromes

With trilogies and series becoming so popular, I've been noticing certain problems that arise as the result of this trend. The first three syndromes are going to refer specifically to trilogies, though they can occur in series as well.

First Book Syndrome:
This occurs in a series where the first book is build-up for the rest of the series. Done well, a first book has a strong arc but leaves enough threads so that the series can continue. A book with this syndrome, on the other hand, might read like an exposition for the series or backstory that the author feels she needs to get through in order to lead into the rest of the series.

Examples of good first books: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce

Middle Book Syndrome:
This is probably the most prevalent. MBS occurs when the middle book in a series acts as a bridge between the previous book and the next. This book is there only to get through certain events that have to occur before the series can end. A great middle book has its own arc that ties in aspects from the previous book but rackets up the tension in preparation for the finale.

Examples of good middle books: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Fade by Lisa McMann

Last Book Syndrome:
This one's exceedingly rare. Sometimes, the tension by the previous books gets so high that the final book can offer a disappointing ending. It might end in a way that no one expects, but in an unsatisfying way. A good last book ties up all the loose ends in an explosive and satisfying conclusion.

Examples of good last books: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare, The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, Gone by Lisa McMann, Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

JUST END IT ALREADY Syndrome:
I've been reading a lot of this one lately. With the Era of Series upon us, more and more books are being turned into series. For some that's a good thing. For others, it's not. Some books do not need to be turned into series and making them one results in an extremely drawn out series that feels like it's going to drag on forever. Off the top of my head, I can think of two such series that caused me to completely stop reading them simply because I couldn't take the pointless drama for the sake of continuing a series. One of those series I'm just going to wait for my best friend to read and then ask her to tell me what happens.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Boy Meets Boy Review

Boy Meets Boy
by David Levithan
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: the cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a gay named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he's found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12 to 1 against getting Noah back, but Paul's not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be driving away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon...but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

I picked this book up after reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson because I'd never read a Levithan book before. When I started to read, I was in the midst of a post-Potter depression and couldn't seem to concentrate on anything for more than a couple minutes. However, this book sucked me in and I absorbed it in a single afternoon. I. Loved. It.

The characters were all very believable and I almost felt like they were my best friends. I especially loved Noah. I love the originality and concept of a character that paints music. That scene made me want to try it right away. The romance between him and Paul was beautiful. I love the scene with the flowers and the scene with the candles.

Even as Paul starts to make mistakes and screw everything up, it feels right. Not right as in, it was the right thing to do, but right as in right for the story.

Also, I want a team of cheerleaders on motorcycles.

Overall: 10/10 I wasn't even finished with it yet and I already wanted to read it again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tell Me: What Do YOU Want More Of?

Today, I'm asking for your opinions. What do you want to see more of on this blog? More new releases? More opinion posts? More posts about writing, revisions, or querying? Do you have any specific topics or questions that you would like me to cover?

I'm planning on continuing participating in Road Trip Wednesday and continue my Week in Short posts (at least until September when classes start).

If there's anything you've ever wanted me to cover or any question you've ever wanted me to answer, now is the time to tell me.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Deathly Hallows-2

****WARNING LOTS OF SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT****

I'm going to be completely honest here. Deathly Hallows was great, but it could have been incredible. The book is so much better. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, it was definitely worth seeing, and I will watch it again when it comes out on DVD. I just think it could have been better.

Things I Liked:
  • The added scene in Snape's memories where Snape is holding Lily after she died. It tore my heart apart.
  • Neville's speech. It was amazing.
  • Snape's memories.
  • Molly killing Bellatrix. It was everything I could have hoped for and more.
  • Helena Bonham Carter. She is amazing. The part where Hermione is disguised as Bellatrix is BRILLIANT.
  • The epilogue. Though I wish they'd shown Teddy!
  • Neville saying that he needs to go tell Luna he loves her because he could die before he gets another chance.
  • The Slytherins being sent to the dungeons. I'm a little undecided on this point, but it was kind of awesome.
  • The part where Harry tells Snape to tell everyone how he looked Dumbledore in the eye and killed him
  • Filch. I loved Filch.
  • The "Still. After all this time?" "Always." lines.

Things I Didn't Like:
  • Neville and the snake. Harry never even told him to kill the snake and it took him forever to do it. I was so looking forward to seeing him pull the sword out of the flaming Sorting Hat and slicing the snake's head off.
  • The battle with Voldemort and Harry. It would have been incredible in the Great Hall. I wish they hadn't attempted to make it more cinematic.They also cut out most of the dialogue between the two of them. I LOVE the dialogue in that scene.
  • The fact that Harry doesn't fix his own wand before he snaps the Elder Wand in half.
  • Harry telling Aberforth about the search for Horcruxes. Harry doesn't tell anyone but Ron and Hermione. Not even Lupin! He wouldn't go around telling people he just met, not even if they are Dumbledore's brother.
  • The things in Bellatrix's vault were supposed to burn, not just multiply.
  • The Gray Lady scene. Helena never wanted the diadem destroyed. I also wish they'd talked about how Voldemort had happened upon it.
  • Ron and Hermione's kiss. I couldn't quite decide if I should put this in Like or Dislike. I have to admit, I did love it, but I liked the book kiss better.
  • They just randomly announce that Lupin has a son. There's no mention of him prior to Lupin's death and no mention of Harry being Teddy's godfather.
  • There's no Percy.
  • Fred's death isn't really shown. That scene is one that I cry the hardest over in the book, but it's also one of the best.
  • Voldemort was in some random boathouse instead of the Shrieking Shack
  • Harry seeing Hermione and Ron before walking to his death. The only person Harry talked to in the book was Neville and that was to tell him to kill the snake. Harry didn't want to see anyone else because he was afraid of losing his nerve and what they would say.
  • No Grawp.
  • Where are the Carrows during the entire Battle of Hogwarts?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harry Potter Week: Favorite Movies/Books

TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH *runs around in circles* I'll definitely be there at midnight tonight (wouldn't miss it for the world). Tomorrow I'm going to post my customary review. There will be LOTS AND LOTS of spoilers. If you don't like spoilers, don't read the review. I'll put another warning on the review as a reminder, but this is just a head's up.

Today I wanted to talk favorite movies and books out of the Harry Potter series. They're all amazing so it's kind of difficult for me to judge.

Books
1. Deathly Hallows
I'm not quite sure why this one is my favorite. It certainly made me cry the hardest. I just think it was the most incredible. The end was explosive and I loved the end of the character arcs, especially when it comes to Neville.

2. Prisoner of Azkaban
This one was my reigning favorite until DH came out. Personally, I think my middle school self loved it so much because of Buckbeak. Though now it's more because of the introduction of Sirius and Lupin. I loved both of them to death.

3. Half-Blood Prince
This one took a bit of thinking. Still, despite the murderous rage and crying that I went through at the ending, this one was my third favorite. I loved the shock that Snape's the Half-Blood Prince and learning more about Voldemort's past and what made him what he is.

Movies
1. Half-Blood Prince
I won't lie. A big part of this movie getting the top spot is Tom Felton. The Sectumsempra scene was so powerful. Felton made me feel sorry for Draco (I felt sorry for him in the book too, but not quite as much). I also adore the Felix Felicis scene. This movie was just an overall solid movie. I ended up seeing it twice in theaters.

2. Deathly Hallows
When part 2 comes out, I'm going to put them both together as one and there's a good chance that this could overtake HBP. It's almost there already, but I'm withholding judgment until I see the rest of it. So far, the build-up to the next part hasn't been enough to take the number one spot.

3. Prisoner of Azkaban
Even though this was the first movie that I felt the need to criticize for deviating from the books, this one's still my third favorite. You can't beat the scene where Hermione punches Draco in the face.

I know that both lists are the same, just in a different order. I'm pretty sure there's a reason for that. What's your favorite movie and book?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RTW: My Biggest Mistake

I need to interrupt this regularly scheduled post for a special announcement.

HANNAH MOSKOWITZ HAS SOLD ANOTHER BOOK. I CAN'T WAIT.

*clears throat* Okay, now it's time for Road Trip Wednesday.

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What's the biggest writing / querying / publishing mistake you've made?

My biggest mistake was querying too soon. It's hard when you have a completed novel in your hands and a list of agents in front of you to hold off but do it until something tells you that you're ready. It wasn't until after the third novel that I looked back and realized that the problem wasn't my book, it was me.

The first time it was because I was a young and naiive writer. I knew just enough about the business to know how to write a query and send it to agents. I had a vague idea that I was supposed to do more in-depth revisions than the grammar and spelling ones, but had no idea how to go about them. So I started querying.

Eventually I realized that Novel #1 wasn't working out. So I completely rewrote it. I did actual revisions this time and sent it to actual betas. One beta told me that I had major plot issues involving a meandering plot based on what she knew from my synopsis. I decided to query anyway.

Some time later, Novel #2 came along. This one had plot issues similar to #1 among other things, but I thought it would be fine. Instead of having double climaxes like #1 up there, this one had a plot that meandered so much there wasn't much of an arc at all.

While a part of me does regret the energy wasted on querying those three novels, they did teach me a few valuable lessons.

1. If you feel like there is a problem with a novel, there is. With those last two novels, I had a gut feeling that they weren't ready. I knew there were problems. My betas had told me there were problems. But I chose to ignore that feeling.

2. Don't query until you know the biz. Study agent blogs, visit writer forums (Absolute Write is a good place to start), talk to other writers, follow agents on Twitter, do whatever you can to learn about the business. Don't even look at your inbox until you have a query, synopsis, and a finished novel that you know are ready to go out there.

3. Don't skip a step just because you're anxious to get your novel out there. It's better to take things slow and make your novel, query, and synopsis the best they can be. If you go out too soon, you risk querying every agent on your list before admitting your book has a problem.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Harry Potter Week: Favorite Characters

THREE DAYS! Today I wanted to talk about my favorite characters. These are in some particular order, but I love these characters so much that it's hard for me to pick favorites.

Hermione.
She will always be my favorite character. When I first started reading the series, I dreamed about playing her in the movies. I had the hair, I had the teeth, I shared Hermione's passion for reading. As far as I was concerned, Hermione was me. Which is why Hermione is and will always be my favorite character. I know exactly how it feels to be teased for not having any friends. I know exactly how it feels to be laughed at for your bushy hair.

Lupin.
He's been in my heart since the moment he walked into the series. I would have given anything for him to be my teacher. His death was one I cried the hardest for and the only one that I still haven't accepted. His compassion, willing to teach, and love for Harry despite his circumstances were unmatched.

Tonks.
She was another incredibly awesome character. I may or may not have cried when I finally realized that the reason for her distress was because she was in love with Lupin. I cheered for several minutes when they got married.

Snape.
My attitude towards Snape went through an entirely Harry-like transformation throughout the book. From Sorcerer's Stone to Order of the Phoenix, I hated him. When he killed Dumbledore, I actually ran from my room in a murderous rage and ranted incoherently to my mom for about five minutes. And yet, when he died, I cried for him. When I realized why he had done all the things he did, it all made sense, even if it was a little twisted. Snape is quite possibly the greatest character in the entire series. The scene where he casts his Patronus and Dumbledore says, "Still? After all this time?" and Snape says, "Always" is one of my favorite scenes from the series.

Harry.
I think this one goes without saying. His development throughout the series was excellent. He goes from being a small boy hiding in a broom cupboard to a boy willing to lay down his own life to save everyone he loves.

Neville.
He has the greatest character arc of all. He goes from being a short boy who's constantly losing her toad and always being bullied to a man that stands up to Voldemort. Neville is an inspiration for anyone who's ever been bullied. I can't wait for the scene where he pulls the sword out of the hat. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

Sirius.
I think he's one for everyone's lists. He was a great man and reminds me somewhat of Harry. He was a true Gryffindor caught in a family of Slytherin's.

Who are your favorite characters?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harry Potter Week: Childhood Stories

FOUR DAYS! In honor of the final Harry Potter movie (*sniffle*), I'm declaring this week Official Harry Potter Week on this blog. I did indeed watch the red carpet in London and cried through everyone's speeches.

If you missed the red carpet, here are Emma's, Rupert's, Daniel's, and Queen Rowling's speeches. At the very least, watch Rowling's.

Best quotes (both by Queen Rowling):
"Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home."
"No stories live unless someone wants to listen."

Now...for the real topic of this blog post.

Harry Potter is my childhood. I still remember the exact day so many years ago when I read the first book. I was seven years old and my mom and I were living in an apartment at the time. My male cousin had read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and, knowing that I was a huge reader, passed it on to me. My mom decreed that she would read it first and then, if she deemed it appropriate for me, I would be allowed to read it.

She read it, thought it was "okay," and said it was acceptable for me to read. I remember walking into the living room and seeing that battered copy sitting on the glass coffee table. I remember picking it up and feeling the pages underneath my fingers. I tore through the whole thing and that was the beginning of a long and happy relationship.

Over the years, I grew up on the rest of the series. The first book was quickly followed by Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban (my favorite in the series for the longest time), and Goblet of Fire. The details are a little fuzzy on whether or not it Goblet of Fire or Order of the Phoenix was the first book that I had to wait for. I'm relatively sure that it was the former. I do, however, remember coming out of school one day and my mom holding Order of the Phoenix up against the window as she picked me up.

Half-Blood Prince
was my first -- and only -- midnight book release. I remember hugging it against my chest as we stood in line and curling up in bed the moment we got home to read it. Unfortunately, I didn't make it through the first chapter because I had an anti-reading six-year-old staying over in my room and she wanted to go to bed.

Deathly Hallows is the book I remember reading the best. I remember the hours of begging for my mom to take me to the midnight release (she refused and the next day told me that if she'd known there was going to be a party at the bookstore for the release, she would have taken me. I'm still ticked). I remember bouncing on my heels as we went into the bookstore weeks before and put it on pre-order. I remember the excitement as we made the twenty-minute drive to the nearest bookstore first thing in the morning on the day of the release.

I walked out of the bookstore with Deathly Hallows in a bag in my hand. My mom joked that I should read it walking out of the store and believe me, I wanted to. I pulled the book out of the bag and started to read the moment we got into the car. I snapped at my mom when she interrupted my reading. At noon on July 21, 2007, I began to read the final Harry Potter book. At midnight that same night, I turned the final page.

For twelve straight hours, the book consumed me. I stretched out in my bed. And read. I took the book in the bathroom with me. I read while I was eating. I think the only time that book left my hand was the couple minutes it took me to walk to the kitchen, get dinner, and walk back to it. No book has ever made me cry harder. There were times when I was sobbing so hard I stopped reading because I couldn't see the words and pushed my head in the blankets of my bed.

As a girl who's been to the last two midnight movie releases, you can bet your life one way or another, I'll be at this one. My ticket's already in my wallet. I already have plans to watch all seven movies with my best friend and then drive together to the release. I already have plans to dress up as Hermione. I've already started rereading the entire book in preparation.

I'm sad that it's over. I'm sad that I'm never going to get to feel this anticipation to meet my favorite characters again. I know that I'm going to shed more tears this week (heck, I started crying just writing this post). I know I'm going to sob so hard I can't breathe watching the movie.

But I also know that J.K. Rowling's right. Hogwarts will always be there to welcome me home.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Blogfest: Q&A

Brittany over at Hills and Corkscrews is holding a blogfest from July 1st through the 9th. Head over there to check out the other participants!

Day 9: Ask the Teens Q&A

1. Middle grade novels are defined as books for the 8-12 age range. Do teens still read middle grade fiction as they get older (for example, Harry Potter is an example of middle grade that's read by teens and adults) or are they naturally attracted to books with older themes and characters? Is it uncool to still read middle grade as you enter your teens?


Most of the teenagers I know are either moving completely to adult books or are half young adult, half adult. I stick pretty solidly with young adult books. I do read some middle grade, but I tend to be incredibly picky about it. The majority of middle grade on my shelves are from authors that I already know and love. For example, Harry Potter, and anything by Rick Riordan or Tamora Pierce. I think teens are naturally attracted to books about people their own age or older. We've already been through that period of our lives and most of us don't really want to go back.

2. This is arguable, but it's been said that the teen years see a decrease in boy readership. Can you mention some books that you know male teenagers seem to be attracted to? Obviously, this depends on the reader, but are there books/themes that male teens connect to more than others?

I think this is a question that is more easily answered by our male participants. I'm a girl that goes to a school where I can count the number of boys I know read on one hand. I know of one sophomore boy who reads anything by Rick Riordan and also the Inheritance Cycle. Those seem to be popular picks with boys. I also knew one boy that was never without a Twilight book in his hand. I almost fell over when I asked if his girlfriend was forcing him to read them and he told me he was actually reading them again. For fun. Thankfully, my cousin's no longer dating him.

3. So many books and book series are being turned into films for the teen audience. Are you satisfied with the movie versions that you've seen recently? Can you comment on a few, both good and bad?

I am a firm believer that the book is always better than the movie with very few rare exceptions. Recently, it seems screenwriters are running out of their own ideas because there are more and more books being adapted into movies. I'm really excited about the Hunger Games and Mortal Instruments movies, though I'm a little wary of the casting for Jace.

Some good movie adaptations are all the Harry Potter movies (the first two are the truest to the books, the sixth is my favorite despite some gaping holes), the three Chronicles of Narnia movies, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (even though they tried to compress the whole series into two movies), and the Golden Compass (I saw the movie before reading the book). I also watched Beastly last night. The dialogue could have been better, but I liked the romance a little better than I did for the book.

Then there are some bad movie adaptations. Eragon is probably the worst movie adaptation of a book I have ever seen. I will admit, I have never actually seen the entire movie, but I have heard about it. Another example is Twilight, which I think speaks for itself.

There are a few adaptations that are so different from the books, it's kind of difficult to compare them. Ella Enchanted is like that. I adore the movie and saw it several times before tracking down the book. When I finally read the book, I was surprised how different the two were. Another example is Lightning Thief. I saw it twice in theaters and I'm on the fence by how much I like it as an adaptation of the book. The movie itself is decent, but I love the book so much more. I'm curious to see how the sequel is going to pan out.

So often in movie adaptations that involve a series, when the first movie is made, details and events are left out that are vital to the rest of the story. For example, in Half-Blood Prince the movie, Harry and Dumbledore never talk about what the other Horcruxes might be. This is extremely vital information. And yet it's left out. I'm always interested to see how they manage to work that vital information into the sequels when it becomes a huge part of the story.

4. I would like to know how you go about choosing a book to read. Is it the cover? The title? Word of mouth?

I wish I could give a more concrete answer, but it truly depends on the book. I actually wrote a blog post awhile back where I kept a tally of the reasons why I bought the books that I did and then added them all up. Here's a link if you're curious. No matter what catches my attention and makes me pick up a book, the back summary is always what makes me buy it. A book can have every other factor (title, word of mouth, cover, loved author), but if the summary doesn't interest me, I'm not buying it.

The title is usually what catches my interest first, mostly because it's the first thing I see when the books are sticking spine-out on the shelves. Sometimes when I'm looking at books online, a beautiful cover is what catches my eye. It's rare for me to want a book based on the cover, but it's been known to happen (Halo and Legacy were both like that).

A few years ago, word of mouth didn't matter to me at all. More recently, as I began to talk more to other readers and writers, word of mouth has influenced my reading habits a lot more. However, ever since Twilight I've become turned off by books that have a lot of hype. There's a difference between hype and following and I vastly prefer books that have an amazing following (one example being Anna and the French Kiss, a book that I haven't heard a single word against and one that I'm about ready to give anything for).

Of the last nine books that I bought or checked out of the library, five of them were part of a series that I'm reading. That list includes Hunger Games which, for some reason, was the only book in the trilogy that I did not own even though I've read them all. Two were because of word of mouth. One was because I liked the author and wanted to read more of his books. And the last one was because the book is being made into a movie and I always read the book first if there's any possibility of me seeing the movie.

Thank you Elizabeth and Jess for the great questions! If you have a question about my responses today (or anything really), you can email it to me (email's to the right in the sidebar) or post it below in the comments. A big round of applause to Brittany for organizing this great blogfest! It's been a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blogfest: On Writing

Brittany over at Hills and Corkscrews is holding a blogfest from July 1st through the 9th. Head over there to check out the other participants!

Day 7: On Writing

I've been writing literally for as long as I can remember. Somewhere in the world there are binders containing sheets of notebook paper where I hand-wrote my first stories. The only ones I remember were both about cats. Each story was ten chapters long, each chapter about half a page in the length.

Over the course of middle school I graduated from short stories to attempting novels. There was one called Mystica about a unicorn fighting in an ancient tournament to decide the ruler of their world, one about a stallion that lived on the sun, and one about a hunter that gets lost in the woods and has to find his way home. I still have Mystica but unfortunately the last two were lost to an ancient computer.

I didn't start writing seriously until November 2008 when I started writing a novel that I later called Andra. I didn't know it then, but Andra was destined to be the first novel that I ever finished, queried, and trunked. Several other novels followed, most of which will never see the light of day, bringing me to my current works in progress. Where There's Smoke is a YA romance currently with betas and will hopefully be my next novel to query. In the meantime, I'm writing a dystopian named Cardinal Three.

There are a lot of things I wish I knew when I first started writing seriously, but the top three are:

1. Be patient when querying. Rushing into it when your book/query/synopsis isn't ready is not doing you or your book any favors.

2. If you feel there's a problem with your book, there probably is. Don't ignore that feeling. If you're struggling with a smaller problem and you think there might be something much larger underneath it, don't slap a patch over the hole and call it good. The crater will still be there underneath.

3. Queries and outlines are your friends. They can help keep you on track so that you don't go wandering off into the bush with that plot and realize too late that you spent so much time meandering, you don't even have a plot anymore.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Blogfest: Blurb Critiques

Brittany over at Hills and Corkscrews is holding a blogfest from July 1st through the 9th. Head over there to check out the other participants!

Day 5: Blurb Critiques

I'm critiquing these like I would final draft queries. Everything below in white is a submission courtesy of a brave writer. Everything in pink is my comments.

Working Title: TRIPP PARKER VS. THE WORLD: THE AFRICAN KIBOKO LEGEND

Genre: Upper Middle Grade Adventure

Blurb:

Eccentric debate club champ Tripplehorn Parker is certain he’ll be dead by next week, his body rolling around the stomach of an African beastie. He might be right. While his wildlife-researcher parents are thrilled to be entering the field again, Tripp can only mourn the inevitable loss of his limbs. Unfortunately, nobody will listen to reason from a friendless twelve-year-old, even one with a large vocabulary. The night before leaving home, Tripp receives a cryptic message ending with: Only you can stop them. Where exactly is Parker going? Why is Parker being forced to go along? Why can't his parents just leave him back at home? This is all backstory. Slim it down to a couple concise lines that get the point across.

An eight-fingered woman and her eyepatched sidekick appear to follow the Parkers from America to the Ugandan bush. The guide is a suspicious meanie. The support workers are twitchy. These last two sentences can be cut. Don't mention characters unless they're important. Warnings and symbols continue to appear in Tripp’s backpack, finally prompting him to do a very scary thing. What kind of warnings and symbols are appearing in Tripp's backpack? What does he do about them? He teams up with a Ugandan girl to determine why hippo territory is so popular. This seems extremely random. Clues and village folklore point to a hidden hippo shrine containing power and gold galore. Unfortunately, ancient legend calls for a human sacrifice (or three) to access the treasure. If the shrine is found, the research trip may become a rather uncivilized hunting expedition, with the Parkers as prey. With no podium or moderator in sight, Your voice really shows through in that last bit. I like it. Tripp faces the toughest competitive duo he’s ever encountered: Mother Nature and a herd of really, really bad guys.

There's a good story here. Unfortunately, this is also extremely wordy and you tend to jump from point to point. There's a mysterious eight-fingered woman and her sidekick that is only mentioned once and then never again. It's the same for the guide, the support workers, and the Ugandan girl. What's the very scary thing that the warnings and symbols prompt him to do? Team up with a Ugandan girl to figure out why there are so many people in hippo territory? That doesn't seem like a scary thing. If I saw this in the bookstore, I might add it to be reading list, but I wouldn't buy it right away.

Title: Bix: Son of a (Hired) Gun
Genre: YA Contemp

Bix is just like Percy Jackson except:
He doesn’t have godly powers, although he’s a precision sharp-shooter which works well in the paintball league.
He’s shorter and smaller than the rest of the kids at Steroid High. You know the type, Amazons, CroMags, and Titans. Oh never mind, just like Percy.
He gets the girl—but that could be a problem because her mom might be a double-agent mayor.
His best friend is a lesbian pixie—although that could be same. Jury’s out on Annabeth. Just saying she’s kind of butch and kick-ass. I’m not wholly convinced.
His father’s not a god, but as an assassin he decides who lives or dies.
Cypher isn’t Camp Halfblood although they train kids to shoot straight (Target Zone Paintball Park), discourage computers (no internet), and encourage one-on-one combat (Harvest Paintball Challenge).
He doesn’t have daddy issues because he’s never met his dad. Oh yeah, that’s just like Percy. And finally, when he does meet him, its’ a brief—blink and it’s over moment. Oh yeah, that’s like Percy too.
Never mind, Bix is just like Percy minus the demi-god thing.

This is not a query, this is a comparison of your book to Percy Jackson (which I happen to adore by the way). All I know is that his best friend is a lesbian pixie and his dad's an assassin. Tell me what the book is about. If you want to compare it to Percy Jackson, do it in one line at the end.

At this point, if I was trying to decide if I want to read this or not, I'd be wondering if it's a Percy Jackson clone and pass.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

In celebration of Independence Day, I'm taking today off blogging. Happy Fourth of July!

And remember: Today is not about fireworks, or cookouts, or parties (though, those things are nice). It's about celebrating our independence and the people who committed high treason and risked their lives to fight for what they believed in. They gave their lives to get something that we so easily take for granted and give away these days:

Our freedom.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Blogfest: On Reading

Brittany over at Hills and Corkscrews is holding a blogfest from July 1st through the 9th. Head over there to check out the other participants!

Day 2: On Reading

The majority of my books are young adult. I also read a little middle grade and occasionally an adult book, usually one that's being made into a movie. I'll read all subgenres, but my favorites are romance, contemporary, dystopian, and fantasy. I'm extremely selective with (which is just a nice way of saying I don't really like) science fiction, horror, and paranormal.

Some of my favorite authors:
J.K. Rowling -- I'm a major Harry Potter geek. I read Deathly Hallows in twelve hours the day it came out and cried so hard I had to stop reading for a couple minutes because I couldn't see well enough.

Tamora Pierce -- In middle school I picked up Wild Magic because of the gray horse on the cover. That was the beginning of a beautiful addiction to everything she writes. I prefer her Tortall books to her other series. My favorite book by her is Realms of the Gods, the fourth book in the Immortals quartet.

Libba Bray -- After a long period of resistance, I finally picked up A Great and Terrible Beauty and adored it. The next two books in the trilogy are next up on my reading shelf.

Markus Zusak -- The Book Thief is one of my favorite books of all time. Seriously, if you've never read it, go get it now.

Cassandra Clare -- I always feel like I'm going to get whiplash from reading one of her books someday. I've read every book she's written, but my favorite is City of Glass, the third installment in the Mortal Instruments series.

Suzanne Collins -- Hunger Games trilogy was too amazing for words. Catching Fire is still my favorite book of the trilogy while I'm still conflicted over Mockingjay.

John Green -- As far as I know, I've read every book he's released including Will Grayson, Will Grayson which he co-authored with David Levithan. Paper Towns was my first and favorite.

Laurie Halse Anderson -- Her writing is beautiful. I think every teenager, especially girls, should read Speak at least once.

Lisa McMann -- The Wake trilogy is amazing. My favorite book is Fade, but it's a very close race between all three books. I think I read Gone in like two hours because I refused to put it down for a second.

Rick Riordan -- I've read all of his books, but the Percy Jackson series is still my favorite. My favorite book of his is The Last Olympian, the last book in that series. I've read it a few times and it never gets old.

Veronica Roth -- Divergent is probably my favorite dystopian after Hunger Games. Can't wait for Insurgent!

Richelle Mead -- I swore off vampire books after Twilight, but she forced me to make an exception with Vampire Academy. I'm about ready to explode on whoever has Frostbite overdue by over a month from the library.

Who are your favorite authors? Anyone that you think should be added to the list?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Blogfest: Introductions

Brittany over at Hills and Corkscrews is holding a blogfest from July 1st through the 9th.

Day 1: Introductions

For those of you who don't know who I am, I'm Rachael. I'm also known as Horserider across a lot of the web (though I'm not the only Horserider out there). I love to read anything young adult. My favorite subgenres are fantasy, contemporarym and -- more recently -- dystopian. I'm extremely selective about the paranormal and horror that I read. The last book I read was Water for Elephants. It was a good book, but I like my young adult genre better.

I don't have television at home, but there are a few shows that I love to watch. My favorite currently running shows are Glee, Doctor Who, and NCIS. I am a very avid Gleek and Whovian. My favorite Glee characters are Kurt and Blaine. Ten and Eleven are both tied as my favorite Doctors. In my mind their versions of the Doctor are so different that they can't really be compared. Captain Jack, Rory, and Rose are all tied as my favorite companions. Rose will always be my favorite female companion. As far as River Song is concerned, she's off in another class of her own.

My favorite non-running television shows are The Nanny, Veronica Mars, Everwood, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched all six seasons of the Nanny in three days last summer. Veronica Mars took me a few weeks to whip through because of school. As far as I'm concerned, season three doesn't exist. Everwood I've never watched past season one because I read episode summaries and found out that it turns into a giant soap opera (same reason I don't watch Secret Life of the American Teenager or Ugly Betty anymore). Buffy is my latest addiction. I saw my first episode a couple weeks ago and have been hooked ever since. I just finished season one last Friday.

This fall I'll be going away to college and majoring in Business Management and minoring in Psychology. I plan to write as much as I can in whatever free time I have left. My dream job is either a copyeditor or a psychologist. If you're now wondering why neither of those has anything to do with my major, it's kind of a long story.

Any day now I'm going to the theater to buy my Deathly Hallows midnight premiere tickets. Despite the fact that I'm a Ravenclaw all the way, I'm dressing up as Hermione for the premiere. Yes, I am a major geek and proud of it.