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Friday, June 28, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: Kayaks are Not a Good Place for Major Life Changes

I'm honestly not sure where this piece came from. I was thinking about the kayaks a nearby state park has available for rental and somehow this happened. 

“What do you think?”

I break out of my daydreams. “What?” I ask, a knee-jerk reaction. I look around, orienting myself with my surroundings again. I’m in a kayak drifting along a wide, slow-moving river. Trees span the banks on either side. Next to me is my fiancĂ©, Ryan, staring at me with an intense expression.

“You didn’t hear anything I said, did you?” I expect his voice to be accusing, but it’s not. He’s used to my mind wandering off and taking me with it. I think back, trying to remember anything he’d said over the last few minutes—or hours, who knows how long he’d been talking—and come up blank.

“Sorry, I must’ve zoned out.”

He chuckles. “I was just thinking, what if you moved in with me?”

I jump so hard the kayak almost capsizes. Perhaps an open river wasn’t the best place for discussions of major life changes. “Are you sure?”

“Why not?” He shrugs his shoulders.

I think about moving my stuff into his little two-story house on the edge of town. It’s a nice little place, nicer than mine, with an actual yard and a wrap-around porch. My make-up would go into the medicine cabinet with his shaving cream and cologne. My extensive collection of cooking implements would join his smaller collection in the kitchen. My television could go into the bedroom.

Our bedroom.

I shiver and it’s not from the cold wind. I paddle gently, pushing my kayak in his direction. I want to kiss him now and it can’t wait until we’re standing on solid ground again.

I lean over the side of my kayak as he leans over the side of his. I don’t notice that the river is getting shallower and shallower until the bottom of my kayak scrapes against a large rock hidden below the water’s surface.

I bounce, throwing my weight onto my hand for balance. My hand leans against Ryan’s kayak, causing him to lose his balance and tumble into the water. He reaches for my kayak to catch himself and manages to flip me over.

I burst to the surface in the warm river, spitting water from my mouth and laughing. He bobs up next to me and we hold each other with one hand and our kayaks in place with the other. 

“You didn’t have to throw yourself into the river if you really think it’s that bad of an idea,” he says.

“Shut up.” I kiss him again. “I’d love to move in with you.”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Releases: Proxy, Tarnish, and Ink

Proxy
by Alex London
Proxy #1
Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

 Tarnish
by Katherine Longshore


Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court--and to convince the whole court they're lovers--she accepts. Before long, Anne's popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice--but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart's desire and the chance to make history.
 
Ink
by Amanda Sun
Paper Gods #1

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

RTW: Best Book of June

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

This Week's Topic:  
What's the best book you read in June?
 
I'm going to be honest. I finished three books this month and I don't feel right about putting any of them on this post. I've been in a reading slump and haven't read anything that I've really loved in quite a long time.

So to cleanse my reading palate I decided to reread a book that I knew I would love. And that's the book that I'm going to choose for this month. I haven't actually finished it yet, but I'm close and definitely will before the end of the month. 

Paper Towns
by John Green

I love this book. It's so true to life and clever and the writing is stunning. It was the first John Green book I ever read and I'm still hooked. It's still one of my favorite books that I've ever read and it hasn't lost anything in the second reading. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writing When the Wind Blows...

It's hot and humid and miserable outside, which as always makes me hope for rain, and that got me thinking. I've always liked thunderstorms. I like watching the lightning split the sky and the rain pour down and listen to the thunder knocking on the windows.

Something about it helps me write, especially when it's late in the evening. Late enough that it's dark outside, so I can't see the rain, but if I open my window a crack I can still hear it coming down. But still not so late that I'm tired and should go to bed.

It's hard for me to write when it's beautiful and sunny outside, when the temperature is just right and the humidity is low so it doesn't feel like it's hard to breathe. That's when I want to be outside, be out living life instead of sitting inside somewhere typing away.

On days like that, I have to wait until the evening to write when it's too dark to do anything else.

Does the weather affect your writing? Or do you get those words down, rain or shine?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Updates: June 23

How's Life? 
It was an off week. The only good news is it's officially summer! I love the feeling of possibilities that summer brings. I love the fresh watermelon and eating steaks off the charcoal grill and stealing mulberries from the tree across the road. I love the turtles coming up to lay their eggs and walking through the woods in the shade of the trees. I just wish I could have all of that without the humidity.

How's TV? 
ROBERT DOWNEY JR SIGNED ON TO TWO MORE AVENGERS MOVIES. I was terrified that he might leave Iron Man, but he's staying and I'm so excited! No news of a fourth Iron Man, but I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. Iron Man 3 was my favorite of the trilogy and I'd love to see one more.

I'm still working my way through Buffy. I'm four episodes away from the two-part finale for season three.

How's Writing? 
Total words: 3,756
Best day: 1,520
Like I said, it was an off week. I'm getting close to the end with my WIP and, for once, the ending isn't the easiest part. I think I might actually exceed my word count goal with this one, though.

How's Reading? 
Books read: 1
I finished reading The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher. It had a great premise, but it didn't really live up to what I hoped for. I'm still working my way through Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and I've also started rereading Paper Towns by John Green. I realized that it's been a while since I've read something I truly loved, so I hoped a reread of one of my favorite books would cleanse my reading palate.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Releases: Far Far Away, Boy Nobody, Born of Illusion

Far Far Away
by Tom McNeal
It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specificially, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .

 Boy Nobody
by Allen Zadoff
Boy Nobody #1

Boy Nobody is the perennial new kid in school, the one few notice and nobody thinks much about. He shows up in a new high school, in a new town, under a new name, makes few friends and doesn't stay long. Just long enough for someone in his new friend's family to die -- of "natural causes." Mission accomplished, Boy Nobody disappears, and moves on to the next target.

When his own parents died of not-so-natural causes at the age of eleven, Boy Nobody found himself under the control of The Program, a shadowy government organization that uses brainwashed kids as counter-espionage operatives. But somewhere, deep inside Boy Nobody, is somebody: the boy he once was, the boy who wants normal things (like a real home, his parents back), a boy who wants out. And he just might want those things badly enough to sabotage The Program's next mission.

 Born of Illusion
by Teri Brown
Born of Illusion #1

Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and sĂ©ances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

RTW: Welcome to the Avengers Initiative

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

This Week's Topic: 
In our Bookmobile selection this month, Amy Tintera's REBOOT, the main character has died and been reborn as a robot-like soldier. If you were reborn faster, stronger, and quicker healing, what's the first thing you'd do?

When I thought about this topic on Sunday (which is when I usually schedule my blog posts for the week) I was at a complete loss. Then today I came back to thinking about it.

My first thought was Buffy. I've been working my way through the series (I'm on season three now) and that's basically what happened when she was born the Slayer. Then I thought of the Avengers as I often do (I think I've seen that movie at least twice a month since it came out on DVD).

I wouldn't want to be like Iron Man or Captain America or Superman or Spiderman or Batman. I'm not really down with the supersoldier idea or fighting crime as a masked superhero. I would go for a kind of cross between Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Agent Coulson.

I wouldn't mind being a superspy like Black Widow (though not an assassin) or a SHIELD agent like Phil Coulson. And I definitely wouldn't say no to Hawkeye's skill with a bow.

And getting out of the realm of Avengers, if I could find some way to make loads of money with my newfound powers, I would buy a couple eventing horses and work my way up in the sport. My quicker healing would have the added benefit of taking away some of the worry about getting injured in a fall, especially on the fairly insane cross-country courses in the higher levels.

(For the non-horse savvy, eventing is a sport in which the horse and rider compete in three events--dressage, cross-country, and show jumping--with the goal of incurring the least number of penalties. Low-level competitions typically occur over the course of one day, whereas higher levels are spread across three (sometimes four) days.)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tips on Building Houses for Your Characters

You can tell a lot about a person from their home. Whenever I think about the perfect reveal of a character's house, I think of NCIS and Tony. It wasn't until recently that the inside of his apartment was shown on the show. It wasn't when I imagined but, for him, it was perfect and that really helped to deepen his character. 

When it comes to houses, I'm not the most imaginative writer in the world. My characters' typically get a two-story house with a kitchen, living room, and enough bedrooms/bathrooms for the family. When it comes to wall colors, flooring, and furniture, things get even trickier. Here are some ideas on how I find inspiration to help me with my characters' homes.

Use real places for inspiration. In terms of exterior, look around on long drives and pick out houses you like. Certain details that you like on various houses could come together to make the perfect home for your character. Consider subscribing to a magazine or two for ideas as well.

There are a lot of websites for selling houses so pick your favorite and look up houses to get some ideas. Listings typically include interior and exterior shots, perfect for gathering ideas. There are also a number of websites with floor plans. These can be very handy if you know the basics of what kind of house your characters will need and you want potential layouts.

Take a trip to a home improvement store or furniture store. There are often great models of rooms in store that are gorgeous, and you might be able to give some of the furniture a try to see what it would be like for your character. If you need help with paint colors or flooring, gather up your favorite samples and keep them all together in a convenient place for later reference. If you don't have time or it's too much of a drive, look online.

If you're already creative but you feel like you need something more concrete to work with and you have the games, play one of the Sims games. You can get a basic idea of what the house would look like and try out different things.

In the process of working the house into the story, keep in mind personal touches for your characters and their families. Everyone's house has those little items that make it their own, whether it's family heirlooms or souvenirs from a vacation or family photos or just the average clutter of a lived-in house.

How do you find inspiration for your characters' homes?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Updates: June 17

How's Life? 
It was a good week. I got to see my niece this weekend (she's lives several states away so I don't get to see her much) and that was a lot of fun. Four-year-olds can be exhausting!

The Stanley Cup series is tied 1-1 between the Blackhawks and Bruins. All I can say is it's going to be a hard fought series. I'm still in shock by the triple overtime in Game 1.

How's TV? 
After having it stuck in my head since I first saw the trailer when it was in theaters, I finally got to see The Words last week. It's a great movie, but not what I expected.

Since all my shows are still in hiatus, I've been wrapped up in working my way through Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Trek: The Original Series. I'm halfway through season three of Buffy and a third of the way through the first season of Star Trek.

How's Reading? 
Books read: 1
Finished one beta read last week and I'm still working on the second. I'm also working my way through Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and started The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher.

How's Writing? 
Words written: 7,956
Best day: 2,759
My WIP hit 50k and it's still not done! I tend to write first drafts on the short side, so this is excellent. I'm aiming for 60k so I'm expecting it to be finished rather soon. I worked on it steadily all week and then took the weekend off to spend time away from my laptop with family.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: Only Kiss

This piece wasn't born from a prompt. The idea of an only kiss popped into my head while I was out hiking and this is the story that came with it. 
 

It’s not a first kiss, filled with promise and discovery and the slight tang of nervousness. It’s not a last kiss, darkened by goodbyes and the bitterness of endings.

It’s an only kiss, a once-in-a-lifetime kiss, touched with the desperation of knowing that you’ve never felt anything like this before and never will again.

When Angela wandered out to the beach for one last look at the ocean sunrise, she didn’t expect to run into a boy. A cute boy with eyes the same color as the sea, hair dripping wet from an early swim, and the body of an experienced surfer.

“Good morning,” he said, dropping down on the sand next to where she was sitting on her towel. “Watching the sun rise?”

“Yeah.” It was short and clipped. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone today. Just wanted to be left alone with the sun and the waves and the sand.

He stayed silent for a while, until the rays of light peeked over the horizon. “I’m James.”

“Angela.”

“Ever been surfing, Angela?”

It struck her as kind of an off-base question. Did it matter? “No. I haven’t.”

“Would you like to?”

Angela meant to say no, but when she looked up into his eyes she just couldn’t. It was the last day of her vacation and if she couldn’t do something adventurous then, she never would. “Love to.”

That’s where it had all started, with two surfboards in the waves, James’s hands on her skin, and the blue Hawaiian sky above their heads.

“I’m leaving today,” Angela said abruptly, interrupting their silence as they bobbed in the shallows waiting for the next wave. “In a couple hours actually.”

She expected James to recoil, to offer to bring their surfing session to an end. Instead he smiled at her and said, “Better make those hours count then” because he started to paddle out.

By the time they finally pulled themselves out of the water and onto the sand, Angela’s hands and feet had turned into prunes and her arms felt like wet noodles. She dropped onto her back, panting with exhaustion, and closed her eyes, just enjoying the feel of the sun soaking into her skin.

“Angela,” James whispered.

She opened her eyes to see his face looming over her, stretched out next to her on the sand. He inched closer and she closed her eyes again just as he pressed his lips to hers.

He tasted sweet and sour at the same time, like a fresh pineapple, tinted with the salt from the seawater. She kissed him back, softly at first and then harder and more desperate.

She could say that she’d come back to Hawaii again soon. He could promise to call her. But they don’t. And when she leaves, she says only one word: “Aloha.”

Hello.

And goodbye.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Releases: The Moon and More, Charm & Strange, Rush

The Moon and More
by Sarah Dessen
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

 Charm & Strange
by Stephanie Kuehn
Andrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

Rush
by Eve Silver
The Game #1
When Miki Jones is pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game—her carefully controlled life spirals into chaos. In the game, she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures. There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says the game isn’t really a game, that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival, and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

RTW -- Packing for a Post-Apocalyptic Future

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. We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link - or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments. 

This week’s topic: 
If you time-traveled to a post-apocalyptic future, what would you bring?

This is a really tricky one, because for me it depends on what kind of post-apocalyptic future. Is it like Hunger Games or City of Ember or Forest of Hands and Teeth or The Water Wars? Will I be fighting for my life against zombies or attempting to survive outside of an isolated city or struggling to find enough food or water?

In general, I would probably bring the basics. Extra clothes for varying climates, because there's no telling what the weather will be like in the future. Enough food and water for at least a couple of days. A one-person tent in case it takes time to find shelter.

My pocket knife for fighting or surviving. A can of mace, just in case. My phone and one of those solar-powered chargers. Even if there isn't cell service in the future, I'm sure I can find some kind of use for it. My fingerless gloves, because I don't like going anywhere without them. Bug spray, because who knows what futuristic insects would be like. Flashlight and batteries.

A journal and a couple of pens, to record observations and thoughts. Camera. Pocket recorder. Maybe a history textbook, in case I get the chance to compare their version of history to ours.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Managing Social Media

I really like social media. I like staying in touch with friends and seeing what's going on. I like to have separate accounts for different things. The trouble comes when social media starts to take away time from more important pursuits--like actually writing.

Blogs
I like to follow a lot of blogs to keep up with my favorite writers and what's going on in the publishing industry. For the last few years I've done that by using Google Reader to organize all of my blogs into categories and watch for new posts. Sadly, Google Reader is shutting down on July 1st so I've switched over to Feedly. A few times a week I set aside some time to jump on and scroll through all of the new blog posts. If something catches my interest, I open the page in a new window (I prefer reading blog posts on the actual site than in a Reader so it's possible to comment).

Twitter
This is where I follow a lot of authors, agents, and other industry professionals. To keep up, I use TweetDeck organized into columns with lists.  I can scroll easily through recent Tweets, reply, and publish my own Tweets. When I'm all caught up, I clear out all of my read Tweets, so that I can keep track of what I haven't seen yet.

Facebook
I mostly keep this to stay in touch with my real life friends and family members. A couple times a day I get on and scroll through my Wall, just to see what's up.

Tumblr
I really like Tumblr. A lot. I haven't really found a way to manage this one yet, so mostly I just try to limit my scrolling to times when I need a break from working or all of my work is done for the day and I'm just relaxing for the evening. It's very addicting... 

How do you stay connected with social media without letting it cut into your work/writing time?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Updates: June 10

How's Life? 
Life is fine. It was a stressful week, but a good part of that is over now.

The 2013 Triple Crown came to a close on Saturday with the Belmont Stakes. Palace Malice pulled the upset and did it rather convincingly. I'm looking forward to seeing how Oxbow and Orb fare over the rest of the year. 

I saw Epic over the weekend. It's an adorable tale and if you have the chance to go see it, I highly recommend it. I finally got the chance to watch War Horse which made me cry hysterically. It's very well done in terms of staying true to the book. Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston are on horseback. And, finally, after owning the DVD for a couple months, I finally got around to watching The Hobbit. It was just as fantastic as I expected it to be and I'm so ready for Desolation of Smaug this winter.

How's TV? 
I don't know if I've ever had all of my shows on hiatus at the same time before and it's kind of boring. In a post-Star Trek Into Darkness haze I've started watching the original series. I'm about a third of the way through the first season and loving it so far. I've all but given up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I want to keep watching but at the same time...it's hard when you know what's going to happen.


How's Writing? 
Total: 6,011
Highest day: 3,872
I struggled with writing this week but my WIP is still advancing. I hit 40k and counting.

How's Reading? 
Books Read: 1
I managed to finish Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly at the beginning of the week. If you like a mix of a darker contemporary with historical fiction, you might like it. I had a couple issues with certain things but enjoyed it overall. Now I'm juggling a couple beta reads while I read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

How was your week? Read any great books?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

RTW: Best Book of May

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: 
What's the best book you read in May?

I expected to get a lot more reading done now that I'm home and don't have classes to study for, but sadly that doesn't seem to be the case. It was a hands down, easy choice this month...

Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler is my choice for May. It's a sweet book with great characters and I loved the hockey and ice skating elements. I also really liked the idea that your dreams can change and just because you have the opportunity, doesn't mean you have to take it. 

And the cupcakes sounded amazing, too. It makes me really wish that I could bake that well so I could give some of them a shot.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's the Little Things

When it comes to bringing a story to life, the smallest details can help. In life, sometimes it's the small things that we notice first. The way the cotton falling from the trees looks like snow even though it's the first week of June. The smell of charcoal smoke on the air. The feel of velvet. The crash of a deer running through the woods. The sweet and sour taste of a fresh pineapple.

Use all the senses. Focus on what the character would be experiencing and focus on the details based on what they would see.

One character might choke on the heavy smell of bonfire smoke, but another might remember a summer at camp sitting around a fire and singing songs.

If it's not something a character would notice, then leave it out and focus on something else instead. Choosing which details to include and which to leave out can tell as much about the character as it does about the setting.

For example, I love the sound of sirens. If I hear a siren coming down my road, I'll run to the door and watch whatever it is go by. It's not because I take fascination in the disasters of others. It's because my dad was a volunteer firefighter and sirens make me remember the days that I would spend at the fire station while he was out on a call.

Use those details to your advantage. Bring the setting to life, make it real for the readers, and then use it to enhance the characters. Sights, sounds, smells, touches, tastes can all take us back in time to a memory, good or bad.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Updates: June 3

This is actually an update post from the last two weeks since last Monday was Memorial Day.

How's Life? 
I saw Star Trek Into Darkness over the weekend and it was AMAZING. Benedict Cumberbatch is incredible. I already can't wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it as much as I want.

And I ran into my favorite teacher from high school over the weekend. She was my English teacher, my play director, and the teacher overseeing our writers' club. I hadn't seen her since I graduated, so that was nice.

How's TV?
I've been working my way through Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I'm slowing down now because I'm dreading what's coming up. Also watching Star Trek has given me this urge to go back and watch the TV series, so I'm thinking about doing that.

Karen Gillan joined the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy--AS A VILLAIN!--and Matt Smith announced that he's leaving Doctor Who. I don't even know how I'm feeling about that right now. I've never seen a Doctor leave, not like this anyway, and Matt is my Doctor.


How's Writing? 
Week One: 7,194
Week Two: 6,981
Grand Total: 14,175

I tended to have a lot of huge writing sprees followed by days where I didn't write at all over the past couple weeks. Most of my off-days were more due to the fact that I had too many other things going on. My best day was Monday of last week with 4,008 words, most of which were written while listening to the Red Wings/Blackhawks game.


How's Reading?
Total: 0
I've been working on a lot of beta reads lately, but unfortunately I wasn't able to finish anything. I did calculate that at my current rate, I will only read about 40 books this year. And judging by the stack at the end of my bed and an impending trip to B&N, I'm going to have to fix that.