May 29, 2011

Promotion of Stereotypes through the Traditional Publishing Industry

After reviewing over my historical romance books that I wrote when I was younger, I really started thinking about these stereotypes of Native Americans in historical romance. These buff strong Native men who usually fall in love with the European women. You know the type of story I'm talking about.

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These men grace our shelves virtually and on literal shelves that promote this Native American man as a strong warrior. Or even a half breed who is literally stuck between two worlds only to be partially accepted in one world.

By putting these men on our shelves, are we promoting a stereotypical view of a culture? As historical romance writers are we stereotyping Native American men into one specific category?

Then this led me on to my favorite subject: The African American section. I know you've seen it! I was shocked when I first saw it in Barnes and Noble, right in the front. Almost proudly saying loudly, "Yeah we have African American books! They no longer hide in fear."

So what does that say about African American books that they have to have their own section? You don't see an Asian American section, Native American section, Hispanic American section (except for the books that are in Spanish for obvious reasons) or European American section. So what is this segregation carrying back from the past carrying right through to the future?

That section has always gave me mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's like yeah! We've got our own section. No more going through the Fiction section trying to find urban books, but then on the other side of things why is this so? Why is it deemed okay to separate the section like that? Not every single African American book is over in that section. Just certain ones. Toni Morrison isn't over there, she is still stuck along with Alice Walker in the Fiction section. Along with Precious and a few others that aren't coming to mind right now.

Is it because Carl Weber, for example, isn't assimilating into the European American ideal culture that his books along with several others are automatically "punished" and set aside in a separate section as to not contaminate the other "acceptable" literary fiction books? Is that why they are in their own section?
Okay, maybe I'm thinking about this too deep or maybe other people haven't thought about that. Maybe it's just seen as a simple marketing strategy for African Americans. To let them know that they are important in a society.

Well, let's take this one step further.

How many books in the young adult section have African Americans? How many books in the same section were written by Hispanic Americans? Compare that to European American books. Compare that to the stories of African Americans/Hispanic Americans/Asian Americans told by a person of European American descent.

Is that how America is? Just filled with European American voices to snuff out the other cultures? To control the other cultures through the lens of European Americans?

How many writers can get another culture correct? How can a majority write a story from a minority point of view?

I'm not saying it's impossible but I think it's strange that the story of a minority struggle is told from somebody who isn't Asian. Black. Hispanic. Indian. Why can't we tell the story? Why does our message have to be contained (a.k.a. filtered) in a white envelope?

Let's take a different approach.

Let's look at the young adult fantasy/paranormal fantasy section. What do you see? Black. Dark colors. Are there any minorities on the cover?


Why? It makes no sense why minorities read these types of books all the time but yet are denied passage in the book.

There was this one book called Leaving Atlanta.

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It's not that greatest book in the world. Sorry Professor Walker, but I've read better. Anyway main point: There was something the author said that I will never forget. There was little boy in there walking to school with his neighbor. They were both black. These angels came to him and they talked. He said that he wanted his angel to look like him, African American. The angels were white.

Main point: Why can't our heroes look like us? Why can't the superheros be a minority race?
This led to an even bigger question: How did this happen?

Of course all of these books being published and selected didn't happen over night. Who are the gate keepers to determine which books make it on the shelves?

The Big 6.

Is traditional publishing keeping out the minority characters that could inspire little kids to look up to them and say, hey he's black/asian/hispanic/native american like me!?

Are they promoting these stereotypes of the gruff hood rat and the smart Asian?

Are they saying that it is okay to have the stereotypical Native American hot rod on the cover and make him just like every other Native American on the shelves as long as they make money on it? Is it okay to have the stereotypes as long as they make money?

I'm not saying that traditional publishing is one big scam. Or that all publishing companies are racist. I'm not saying that at all to be perfectly clear but to end this post I want all of you to think about this:
Are traditional publishers promoting stereotypes? And does this leave the opportunity of minorities to speak out through self-publishing?

There was this writer who came to my school and talked about this subject and it has always stuck with me. All of these Twilight books, Nightshade, Shiver, and all of these paranormal romance books all have the main characters (girls) are what? European American. Why couldn't there be another book like Dia Reeves to set the tone? Why can't we have more books like that? Why is the book so hard to find in the bookstore? Or any other type of books that aren't "popular"?

What are we telling our students/children, that are of minority race, when we go to the library and see all of these other books chock full of European American characters but minority characters are more of the side characters?

It's all right there. All you have to do is observe, question and think.

I would love to hear your thoughts upon the subject.

Are traditional publishers promoting stereotypes? Are they blocking out potential saviors of different races?

Tell me what you think.

May 26, 2011

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

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Do twins begin in the womb?

Or in a better place?
Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin.
For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex.
Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

My Thoughts:

I've always wanted to read an Ellen Hopkins book. The idea that a whole story could be comprised in poems fascinated me so I finally picked it up at the library. At first I was struggling to decipher between the two personalities of the twins, but by the middle of the book, I really got into it.

I loved the cleverness of how she interweaved the ending of one of the twins point of view into another. The whole book was cleverly designed actually. She made it seem so effortless as she told the story and crafted her poems in two completely different stories.

And there's a huge twist that smacked me so hard I saw stars. It's not that I didn't see it coming. I had a feeling but it still shocked me. I just sat there starring at the page going huh? When I finished the book, I was still in shock. I could see the foreshadowing of it and how she created it from the word go. It was incredible.
She got me hooked after that. I now have one of her books in my tbr pile.


I can't wait to read this.

So the main question: Would I recommend Identical?

Absolutely! As a fellow part time poet, I can say that she inspired me to think about poems in a whole new way. So I encourage people to read this book along with any book by Ellen Hopkins.

Anybody love this book or read Tricks by Ellen Hopkins? I'd love to hear from you!

May 23, 2011

Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell

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Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it’s being sabotaged from within—and someone wants her dead.

My Thoughts:

I really was wondering who started this whole forensic science fiction writing book business. I loved Kathy Reichs book and the entire series with Temperance Brennan. I started to fall in love through the forced watching of Bones and then I heard that the whole television series was based on a book I practically flipped my lid rushing to the library to get my hands on the series. And then I fell madly in love with murder mystery books. Sorta.

I've always been the type to read Mary Higgins books but this type of book takes to a whole different level. And I wanted to read more. From a different author. Loved Temperance Brennan but I wanted more and the history behind writing books like that. From the coroner/medical examiner/forensic anthropology/sciency point of view. So now I had my chance. Delved into the history and popped upon Patricia Cornwell and her character, Kay Scarpetta.

I know a lot of people, or maybe not a lot but some, who compare Temperance Brennan and Kay Scarpetta. And I have to say both are great. When I first started reading Post-Mortem, I had my reservations. It is not that I didn't think it would be good. The first few pages told me so, but I just didn't want to mix the two girls up. They were very similar and yet very different. If they ever faced off, I'm not sure who would win.

I shouldn't have worried though. Dr. Scarpetta stood on her own two feet and told me loud and clear that is a contender and will proudly grace my shelves. Not only was the plot realistic and medically correct (asked my family members who are medical people and it all checks out) but the personal life was what kept me tuned. The twists and turns, the whole conspiracy of it all and how Patricia Cornwell seperated truth from fiction was just so cleverly done that I never wanted the book to end.

To say this book was a great book is an understatement. I haven't read a book this well written in so long. I mean of course there were a few mistakes, which I will get to later, but overall it is a nail-bitter book that I do not regret buying.

There was a slight hitch: Stereotypical African American speech patterns.

Now why would I pick up on that? Well, they are in a southern state (my state in fact, Virginia!) and not that far from my own city (Richmond) so I pretty much know the speech patterns. And it seems like the African American characters in her book seemed to be given the same voice and the same Ebonic code that my hackles were rising up. That I wanted to put the book down, but I didn't.


Simple: I like to give authors second chances. I do. I gave Kathy Reichs a second chance when she gave me all of this medical terms that I could barely sift through in the first novel so I read the second. And the third and I saw a pattern that she was getting increasingly better with her terminology and getting back to normal terms. So I'm glad I give her a second chance. Now that I think about it, I gave Meg Cabot and a lot of authors I end up loving a second chance.

Is it obvious I believe in second chances?

Maybe, maybe not. Main point here: Every author makes a mistake. Point blank. Sometimes the words don't flow across the page like they want to or something comes off as one thing but really mean another. So I like to give a second chance. A fresh start. Especially if I see the author, like Meg Cabot for example, who have great talent that I would love to see develop more. And see them grow as the writer I knew they could be and here I am int he peanut gallery cheering them on.

Sometimes I do that through sending them a helpful email. Barry Lyga can attest to that and so many other authors I've spoken to. But I'm drifting off into another topic all together.

Any who, I want to see if Patricia Cornwell will continue this trend of stereotyping African Americans. If she does then I'll drop the series and never read another book hers ever. I know, a bit harsh, but I am tired of seeing minorities put into boxes and being put in a place where we don't belong. I'm tired of being pushed aside and put into a category along with others. I am to be in my own category and not shoved off as being another minority who is never satisfied. Damn straight I will never be satisfied until prejudice stops. And just because we have an African American president, Barack Obama, doesn't mean I stop speaking out against prejudice. It's still out there and I'm not going to ignore it and put it under the rug. And I will not tolerate exposing my children/students to this sort of stereotyping and assume that it is okay to do so.

So without further distraction, I will say this: I doubt Patricia Cornwell will continue this pattern, but if she does I'm not going to support it.

Now the biggest question of them all: Do I recommend it?

Absolutely. Putting aside my concerns, I loved the book. I wanted to chuck it into the corner in some parts and wanted to just snuggle under the covers with a hot cup of cocoa for most of it. I loved the suspenseful twists and turns including the analytical yet political stuff behind the scenes. All of this to say, I would recommend this book to anybody who loves a good murder mystery.

Last important question: Will I be able to understand her legal/medical jargon?

Yes. Without a doubt. I wished I read Patricia Cornwell's book before reading Kathy Reichs because it's a nice smooth transition from the medical to the normal to the plain ol' fashion what is she saying doc speak. It's very easy to understand, and if you don't know what in the world is going on, look it up. I'm always ready to learn new medical terms or new facts about forensic science. It's always interesting to research as a writer.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to people who love Bones but don't want all of the medical stuff to get in the way of enjoying a good murder case.

Here are some great other recommendations:
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"Fans of TV's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation should be in heaven" (People) stepping into the world of forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan, star of Kathy Reichs's electrifyingly authentic bestsellers.
Her life is devoted to justice — for those she never even knew.

In the year since Temperance Brennan left behind a shaky marriage in North Carolina, work has often preempted her weekend plans to explore Quebec. When a female corpse is discovered meticulously dismembered and stashed in trash bags, Tempe detects an alarming pattern — and she plunges into a harrowing search for a killer. But her investigation is about to place those closest to her — her best friend and her own daughter — in mortal danger....

Great book. A little bit harder to read so this is for the reader who can take a challenge head on or someone who knows their medical terminology.
Any book by this author is really great as a matter of fact. Viral is also a great book.

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A minor road accident landed county prosecutor Katie DeMaio in Westlake Hospital. That night, from her window, she thought she saw a man load a woman's body into the trunk of a car...or was it just a sleeping pill induced nightmare? At work the next day, Katie began investigating a suicide that looked more like murder. Initial evidence pointed elsewhere, but medical examiner Richard Carroll saw a trail leading to Dr. Edgar Highley. He suspected that the famous doctor's work "curing" infertile women was more than controversial — that it was deceitful, depraved, and often deadly. But before Richard could tell Katie his fears, she left the office for the weekend and an appointment for routine Dr. Highley's operating room.

My first ever Mary Higgins Clark book that my mother's friend gave to me to read. Ah, great book. Pretty much any book by her is really really good. I love her books. I still remember practically robbing the library of all the books by Mary Higgins Clark. My first week of high school. Anyway . . .

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They only meant to scare him.
Mr. Griffin is the strictest teacher at Del Norte High, with a penchant for endless projects and humiliating his students. Even straight-A student Susan can't believe how mean he is to the charismatic Mark Kinney. So when her crush asks Susan to help a group of students teach a lesson of their own, she goes along. After all, it's a harmless prank, right?
But things don't go according to plan. When one "accident" leads to another, people begin to die. Susan and her friends must face the awful truth: one of them is a killer.

A classic author that once again bring back fabulous memories of reading her books in high school. Anyway great book, great writer. This book is obviously for the younger audience. Even though I read Mary Higgins Clark at a young age I wouldn't recommend it to everybody who is 14. Just my opinion though. My mother was horrified that I read Mary Higgins Clark at 14 and that her friend snuck me some other ones as well, but I have to say, I could read Loius Duncan or Mary Higgins Clark all night long.

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When Mitch McDeere signed on with Bendini, Lambert & Locke of Memphis, he thought that he and his beautiful wife, Abby, were on their way. The firm leased him a BMW, paid off his school loans, arranged a mortgage, and hired the McDeeres a decorator. Mitch should have remembered what his brother Ray–doing fifteen years in a Tennessee jail–already knew: You never get nothing for nothing. Now the FBI has the lowdown on Mitch’s firm and needs his help. Mitch is caught between a rock and a hard place, with no choice–if he wants to live.

Another classic author with a very well known book, The Firm. It wasn't until after the movie I read this particular book but I've been a fan for a very long time. Then I took like a eight year hiatus and now I'm back on the bandwagon. It seems like I alternate between mystery and romance but that's a whole different subject. Anyway another great dependable author. Not so forensic science or murder, but still crime and justice and the thin lines between them. So it's just a different approach but a good place to start if your a bit squeamish of blood but still want the whole feel of a crime novel minus the murder and potential zombies.

May 20, 2011

Tips and Tricks Time!

Hey all! I know you all like my alliterative title! :) Anyway, I think I'll list about ten things all fresh new writers should know and some things that are common sense. Which sometimes isn't common enough nowadays.

Random Tip #1: Bring a notebook and some sort of writing utensil everywhere you go!

     Why do I say that? Because you never know when an idea will hit you sideways and need to write it down immediately! I know when I was walking around the beautiful campus of Hampton University, I would always be thinking about my screenplay, Afterlife Investigations, and I would get my cell phone out and write notes in the little notepad on my phone. Sweet huh? And if your cell phone magically malfunctions then I have three notebooks in my bag. One that's for writing a specific story. Two is for ideas for my story that I have kept around for years. Three is just for . . . Well, it's for school but I sometimes write in it during school hours and come up with the best poems. Of course my teachers aren't happy that when I'm writing a poem and not the notes, but hey it's worth it. I even won a prize for the last one I wrote in class. Now that's a funny story! :D

Random Tip #2: Write down the story first in print form!

     I know people out there are looking at me like I'm some sort of wacko crazy nut but I really think a writer should always, always, always write down their stories instead of typing them up. Why? Less errors and more time to write. If you're stuck on a bus that suddenly shuts down, then all you have to do is whip your notebook out and continue to write down the story where you left off. I know some people would prefer to whip out their I-Pads or Laptops but I'm going to be frank and honest with you: I don't trust technology. It is unreliable. So if you put everything, your thoughts, your  ideas on a laptop that will probably die in like three years or on an I-Pad that could explode or on some other electronic device, there are a number of things that could happen with it.

     However with a notebook, you have less dependence on something that should be working that may not work. Or on electricity that is needed or whatever. You just have to protect it from rain and fire and you're good to go. And besides, it's good to just write it out in that moment of time instead of typing it out. You see things on paper differently then what you see on an electronic screen.

    Additionally, once you write it down, you've got to type it up and you'll get to catch the errors quicker then you would on just simply putting it on a screen. What you're basically doing is editing it as you're typing up the final draft of your story. Heck, it's like line editing as you go and you can catch the errors before you send them to a publisher or get them critiqued by a friendly group of people, hopefully. And if your computer just quits on you, you have an extra copy! Right there in your hands to just simply retype.

    All of this to say: Write before you type. It'll be more advantages to you as a writer then disadvantages.

Random Tip #3: 1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration

    Thomas Edison once said that work is part 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration which all of this to say that yeah coming with an idea for a book is wonderful. The important and hard part is getting it on paper and making sure it's right. You can't just get an idea, try to sell it to a writer and try to take some of the profit. It doesn't work that way. Sometimes I really think people have the best intentions when they try to help you write something great. They come up with this cool idea and they say, "Hey, I want a piece of your money since I came up with the hard part." That person is a damn fool. The hard part is the work behind making the idea come to life and writing it down.

Fellow writers can attest the hours, the days, the minutes,  the stress of putting the words on paper and getting it right. A writer doesn't just finish a story and have a party at the end. A little celebration is good especially if it's your first book or short story or poem or fictional work. Whatever. Point is your job isn't done yet. You still have to edit, revise, edit, revise and edit some more until it's as perfect as it could be. Then you're still not done. You still gotta figure out what to do with it afterwards which leads me to Random Tip #4.

Random Tip #4: Know Your Options

     I know a lot of writers dream of landing a deal to publish their book but a writer needs to consider what options will be available to get them to their dream which means doing some research.

     Which leads to two options: Self-Publish or Traditional Publish. These two options are completely different avenues to venture down on.

Here's the Traditional Publishing Option: You can either go straight to the publisher, send them your query letter, synopsis, a little chunk of your manuscript, a biography, and a marketing plan. Or you can try to get an agent who would represent your book and pass it along to the big publishers you can't send your book directly to. Then you would have to send the agent a query letter, a synopsis and a probably a chunk of your book. Maybe a biography but probably not.

If you don't know what in the world I'm talking about as far as synopsis and query letter, then it would be some time to do some research.

Now if you're going to go this route it would take a lot of preparation, dedication and some thick skin. So let me tell you first off that not everyone will think you are the best writer in the world or even the next big writer like J.K. Rowling or John Grisham. You might have to take some criticism, a single answer like no, or even have people not even answer your query sent out to them.

Point is it's a lot of work, time and effort to get your book into the right hands. And sending it out there is no guarantee. You might be discovered, you probably won't. Don't give me the evil eye and say you are different because you aren't. I'm sure famous authors have been turned down by agents and publisher alike.

Your query letter will be another one to add to the pile of other ones who the agent/publisher/unlucky intern who has to sift through them. So if you want to try this option, then I'm more then willing to help you to pursue your dreams. Here are some websites I highly recommend:

This website compiles a list of book publishers, agents, lawyers and contests that you could send your book to. They even rank them from highly recommended to not recommended at all. They show you the scammers out there and the real ones. What I would do is click on every link that matches up to my book, look at their requirements, and add their name to the long list of agents/publishers to send my book to.
This is the website for romance writers who want to publish their book through an agent or a publisher. So if you're a romance book writer then this is the perfect place to do some of the research.

This is an awesome website. Basically, this link page is wealth of information or whatever you need. Need a Crit Site? Look under the headline. There's probably four under there. Agent Questions? Under the headline. Anyway, I'll leave you time to scroll and look under there. Anything you need for writing and researching you could find on that web page. And Critique Circle is a great way to have a fresh pair of eyes look at your manuscript and maybe make a few friends along the way, btw.

That's all I can really think of right now, but don't be fooled: There are plenty of websites that would gladly help you on your quest of finding your book a home. Now I know what some of the newbies are saying to themselves right now: By God, this is A LOT of work. And you would be right. It is. Being a writer isn't just putting words on a page and hoping it works. No, it's a lot of work with no pay raise, paycheck or even a cheerleader (unless you've got support from other people which is always a good thing). At least this is option one on the quest of publishing your book. Now to option two:

Here's the Self Publishing Option: I know a lot of people don't even consider this an option because of the stereotypes associated with it. The bad cover art. The bad writing. And the not making any sort of money on it whatsoever part. But guess what?

Those are all lies.

And don't consider this option if you look at the other option and think that's a lot of work because self-publishing your book is a lot of work too. There is no easy way of putting your book out there. Sure some people think option two is but it isn't. It's just that: Another option. Now how do you start this option and start your journey? Well, first finish the book. Seriously. Edit, edit, and edit some more until it is done. Then write the blurb and the bio. Get a picture of yourself that you can stand and keep it handy. Then it will be time to pick a book cover.

Ah, so much fun. There are plenty of options for picking a book cover. First off, there is the expensive option or the cheap option. You can either hire someone to make a book cover for you or you can go on a royalty free image website and pick one for a good price. Then once you do that, you need to buy your copyright for your book. Then you publish your book online or POD (Print on Demand) and on you go.

So all of this to say: Know and consider your options. Don't knock one off because of the stereotypes or the work behind it. Both require hard work and some patience. Maybe even some determination. Either way consider and think hard about both.

Random Tip #5: Do Your Research.

   To be a writer you need to do your research. Period. As a writer, reading is a way of research. Stephen King once said that to be a great writer you need to write a lot and read a lot. And it's true. How can you expect to write a great story if you don't like to read?

   I was in an English Research Class and this one girl said that she loved to write but she hated to read. I've always wondered how that worked. How can she expect to be current in the reading world if she doesn't read? So please do your research.

  If you want to write about vampires, do your research and please be original with it for God's sake. Read Dracula by Bram Stroker and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. If you want to write about America in 1800's then please do your research. If you want to make up a fantasy world, then please map it out and make sure it works out. Or read a book about it. If you want to write about alien encounters or abductions then do your research.
  If you don't know something about what you're going to write about, then do your research. Ask. If you wan to know about murder, then ask a medical examiner. If you don't know the procedures in a court room, then look it up. Heck, ask a lawyer. If you're going to put your character in a state you never visited, then do your research.

  And if you decide to be lazy and not do the research, then you will lose readers and their trust. How? because if you don't get your facts straight and put a character in Virginia and get the James River and Virginia Beach mixed up. I'll be one of those people who will refuse to read any of your books. Why? Because you got two areas mixed up, how in the world will I be able to trust you as a writer to keep your facts straight? I will think you're a lazy writer not willing to look up my hometown.

   So what's the point? The point is: Do your research and don't be lazy.

Random Tip #6: Spell Check Please!

Do I really need to explain this one? Before you publish or try to get your book published, please please please spell check and check for spelling errors. I know this is common sense but some times common sense isn't common enough. Make sure you edit meticulously. You do not want your work of art to have any mess ups or whoopsies on it. All of this to say: Check, double check and spell check!

Random Tip #7: Read Aloud

Once you're done editing the life out of your book, read it aloud. If you're not sure of a part sounds then read it aloud. More often then not, you'll catch errors quicker once you read them out loud. It's a great tool that maybe some people take for granted but it makes sure that your brain isn't automatically correcting errors in your story.

So when in doubt read out loud.

Random Tip #8:  Watch out for Dialogue!

Make sure you don't put too much dialogue in your story. I know when I started writing, my dialogue would run for like five pages long. You do not want to do that. And if you are going to write dialogue for a long period of time, for like a page for example, make sure your characters have distinctive voices. Jane and Marie can't sound alike and if they do sound alike, put their names along with their dialogue. For example.

"Hi Janie! What's happening?" Marie asked.
"Nothing much. Just kicking around a soccer ball. Can't wait for practice!" Jane said.
"Me too!" Marie said.
"Omg, tell me when practice is, I keep forgetting." Jean said. She froze when hearing mysterious footsteps behind her.

Or something like that. Notice the name attachments to the dialogue. And if you're going to include instant messaging, text messages, or any other kind of communication that isn't plain ol' talking then make sure to let the reader know what's going on. If you're going to do instant messaging then show their nicknames on the Internet like HotFox69 or Babe24. Or whatever.

All in all, make dialogue clear and have a function. If the dialogue serves no purpose whatsoever then take it out. Make dialogue important.

Random Tip # 9: Verb Tense Match Up

Make sure your verb tense matches up. If you're going to write in present tense, then do it. If you're going to write in past tense, stick to past tense. If you're going to write in future tense for the entire book then stick to it.

Don't flip flop between present and past. It'll just look like you couldn't make a decision between past or present tense. Or like you don't know your grammar tenses. Either way, be consistent.

Random Tip #10: When in Doubt, Print it Out

When I finish all of my books, I print them out. Why? Well for three reasons:

  1. I like having the print version. Makes the fact that I'm done official.
  2. I like to have another copy. I don't trust computers enough to just let one copy sit on my computer and wait for it to stop functioning to print it off then. Like I said earlier, I don't trust technology.
  3. For editing.
Now how you carry it all around the mall or wherever, is up to you. I know I like to print it out, punch holes in it and put it in folders. Then I number them by hand and start editing and reading it. Sometimes it's just nice to have that bulk of paper to remind you that you're done. That you've done what other people thought was impossible. And you may end up using it to send it to a publisher/editor/agent. You never know.

I mostly print it out for editing purposes. Seeing the edits on paper make it easier to catch it for me and I write it and correct it on my electronic copy of my book. So then it's another layer of editing to double check to make sure everything works. The plot, the characters, the actual font on the page. If you can actually read it, up close and personal.

Now I know what some people will say: That's expensive to print out X-amount of paper! Yes you're right. Absolutely. I have no fight there. But is your success worth a few bucks? Honestly, how much would it cost you in the long run to print it off and take a day editing it? How much money would it cost to print off 100 copies of your query letter and send it off to agents/publishers? If you're willing to send a copy of your query letter or manuscript to an agent, why can't you print a copy for yourself to edit and to have it in your records? Is your book not worth that much time and effort? Well then there ya go.

Okay, that's it for now! I hoped this list helped you newbie writers. Is there any other trick or tip that you would offer to new writers? Any other piece of advice? I would love to hear from you!

May 18, 2011

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

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Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

My Thoughts:
I was tempted by the gorgeous cover and the cool superpower of knowing when people have been murdered. As you guys probably know, I love murder books or suspense books so I loved the fact that I could have this in young adult form. It even had great reviews and I finally found it in my library. Then I read it.

I was really disappointed.

The plot was okay, the characters were believe-able, and the ending was okay. So what was the main issue? Something was missing. The spark. The wild factor. The yank I appreciate so much when I read a book that forces me to read it. The only thing that really kept me reading was to bring the murderer to justice to be honest. The writing was okay. It just seemed like this was her book that needed some more editing and help. The relationship between Violet and Jay was great in the beginning. I could really relate since I was in a similar situation myself but then when it hit a certain part, I stopped believing it. I really did. I knew in the beginning what was going to happen, but I really think . . . I'll just say it.

Okay so I knew in the beginning that Jay liked Violet. I just knew it. They way he was looking at her when that boy asked Violet to the dance or whatever, that was definitely a dead giveaway. Not to mention the way he was SUPER protective of her and that they've been friends for forever and Violet even mentioned the change in their relationship. And if she noticed it then it's more then likely that Jay noticed it to. So I wasn't surprised by that. Not one little bit. I hated, detested the fact that Kimberly Derting rushed right into the kissing and making out and the development of their relationship. It seemed like one day they were lovers then in the next breath they were making out.

I also didn't like the reason why Jay and Violet didn't get together in the first place was over pride. Didn't like that one little bit. Plus I didn't fully believe that. Something was else was at play and I didn't appreciate not knowing what it was. Or maybe it was the way she presented the reason? I'm not sure what it was but I didn't believe it. I also didn't like the fact that she revealed that Jay liked her in the very beginning. Maybe I could just tell, but that whole situation with the boy asking Violet out on a date made it super obvious that Jay liked her. And I wished she could have built up the relationship, showed us how their relationship has changed a little bit just dropping little hints that he liked her. Not bomb the whole field and scream it at the top of her lungs that Jay liked Violet. It could've been done a whole lot better and brought enough friction and tension to make it worth the wait.

Better yet, I wished she would've waited until the second book to reveal his feelings for her. I think it would have made the difference, the tug to read the second book. Maybe the ending was too perfect. Too much of a convenience. Everything she wanted to happen, did happen at the near end of the book and I think there should've been still some tension left and there wasn't.
*****END OF SPOILER*****

Okay now that is out of system, I feel better. I think that was the main problem I had with the book. The murder plot was fine and had enough suspense to keep me interested. I just think she needed some help with developing relationships in the book and the pace of the book was off. It drove me crazy. It seemed like she had a good pace in the beginning but rushed the end. Then as a result she rushed everything else. She really needed someone to help her with that. I would've gladly helped her.

Now the main crucial question: Would I read the next book in her series?

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I might give her another chance. I see the potential in her writing and I think it could be brought out with more practice. So I might. Besides, the things I mentioned that are wrong with her first book are very easy to fix. It just made me so angry that she got traditionally published and she has all of this back up and yet her book turned out wrong when it has so much potential to be a great and exciting read. And it went through editing to print with all of these mistakes and nobody thought: Hey it's rushed! Let's fix this!
Another imperative question: Would I recommend the book?
That's a trap because if it's based on the main part of the book, then yes. Please feel free to read and enjoy the murder aspect of it and paranormal stuff about it. If it was based on the personal life and how it was developed then no.
It just depends if you can deal with the mistakes. A lot of people could since it got a lot of great reviews. But if you're like me, a perfectionist, then it will drive you crazy.

May 16, 2011

It's Monday! What are YOU Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is weekly meme hosted by Book Journey to tell everyone what you have read or planning to read. If you would like to join in or see other blogs participating click on the icon above.

Now that I've finished V, I can now read the TBR piles in my room. Here are the books I'm reading or planning to read:

1. Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell
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Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it’s being sabotaged from within—and someone wants her dead.

I started this book a little while ago, like in two months ago but I had to return it back to the library before I could finish it. Bummer. So once I got some money in my pocket, I bought it along with some other books. :) Anyway, so far it's very interesting. It's not nearly as scientific as Kathy Reichs books but it's still just as forensic sciency as her books. But there is a definite difference.

2. Fat Camp by Deborah Blumenthal
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Camp! Freedom, first kisses, summer fun...but not at Camp Calliope, a prison camp for the overweight. That's where Cam Phillips' parents have shipped her off to eat controlled portions, endure rigorous exercise, and sleep in a bunk full of girls who'd rather exchange recipes than ghost stories and gossip. Except for one cool girl from Texas, Faith Masters-who's normal enough to help her stay sane and temporarily replace her best friend, Evie. And then there's Jesse-the only thing close enough to drool-worthy on the camp's menu. Cam can totally relate to him, since his basketball-coach Dad sounds a lot like her perfectly thin, successful Mom. It looks like for the next eight weeks, only the issues (and not the food) on Cam's plate will be supersized.
Can I be honest with y'all? I got this book on discount and I liked the cover. So I thought I would give it a whirl. That's pretty much the only reason I got this book. Oh, and I got it at BooksaMillion. Fav place to shop, second only to shopping at library sales. Ah, I love discounted books.
3. Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
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Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico--she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, & servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances--Mama's life and her own depend on it.
Another great discounted book at a library book sale. I was actually looking for Bruce Coville books with the old covers on that were drawn by Katherine Coville. I love those covers! It brings back memories . . . Anyway, I just picked this up since it had an award on it, most of the time a good sign, and a person of color as a main character. You see, I'm trying to expand my classroom library with books that have people of color as the main characters so that the students who are, let's say Hispanic American or African American, can identify with character's cultural identity.
4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
One cruel night, Meggie's father, Mo, reads aloud from INKHEART, and an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of fiction, landing instead in their living room. Suddenly, Meggie's in the middle of the kind of adventure she thought only took place in fairy tales. Somehow she must master the magic that has conjured up this nightmare. Can she change the course of the story that has changed her life forever?
I've heard nothing but good things about this book and the series in general so I decided to try to borrow it from the library. Problem: They didn't have the first book in the series. But in a weird matter of circumstance, I found it, snatched it, and bought it at a library book sale. :) I even got the whole series of The Unfortunate Events once. Best discount ever! Got the whole set for four bucks. Incredible!
Can't you tell I love discounts?
5 and 6. The Royal Diaries Series: Catherine by Kristiana Gregory and Kazunomiya by Kathryn Lasky
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Fourteen-year-old Prussian princess Sophia finds herself entangled in her mother's efforts to arrange a marriage between Sophia and Charles-Peter, a young German duke and nephew of the Russian empress Elizabeth. As Sophia's mother moves to make the match, she and Sophia must travel from their humble home in Zerbst, Prussia, to Russia--the kingdom of Elizabeth. There, Sophia is renamed Catherine and married to Charles-Peter, but she watches helplessly as her family is torn from her, her own mother is involved in a spying ring against the empress, and all that is familiar to her disappears.
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Kazunomiya, along with her royal family, is thought to be a divinity, descended from the goddess of the sun, and she lives an extremely sheltered life. However, when a Japanese general signs a treaty with the white-faced men from America, uncertainty and turmoil erupt in the kingdom. But the external threats do not compare to the tangled intrigue, romance, and politics that dominate the imperial palace, as wives and queens plot to destroy Kazunomiya and her mother.
Man, I'm starting to realize how much I go to these library book sales. Practically all of the books in my TBR pile are from library book sales. I loved this series when I was in middle school and couldn't remember why I stopped reading the series but I'm picking it back up again.
7. The Collectors by David Baldacci
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Oliver Stone and his Camel Club are in a race to stop a man who is determined to auction off America to the highest bidder: Roger Seagraves is selling America to her enemies, one devastating secret at a time. On a local level, Annabelle Conroy, the most gifted con artist of her generation, is becoming a bit of a Robin Hood as she plots a monumental scam against one of the most ruthless businessmen on earth. As the killings on both fronts mount, the Camel Club fights the most deadly foes they've ever faced.
I picked up The Camel Club and The Collectors by David Baldacci at a book sale. So I finished The Camel Club, liked it a lot and now I'm going to read The Collectors. It took a lot of energy to read the first one, especially with all of the abbreviations, so I'm going to wait a while before trying to conquer the second book in the series.
8. Message From Forever by Marlo Morgan
Following her Mutant Message Down Under, Marlo Morgan's new novel is a tale of self-enlightenment about aboriginal twins separated at birth and the search for roots that reunites them from opposite sides of the globe. Once more Morgan unveils the inspiring aboriginal worldview while pointedly exposing the plight of an ancient race rapidly becoming extinct as a result of more than two hundred years of systematic discrimination.
I know there is a lot of controversy about this series. Is it real? Is it fiction? Either way, I loved the first book in the series and so I'm going to try read the second book. Ever since I watched Australia with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackson . . .
Australia starring Nicole Kidman: DVD Cover
Great movie!
I've been curious about aboriginal culture and everything dealing with Australian history. So I picked up Marlo Morgan's book.
9. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement—left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.
Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.
Edward Scissorhands meets The Catcher in the Rye in this wildly imaginative and frighteningly beautiful horror novel about an unusual boy and his search for a place to belong.

This book seemed to the type of book that my stories are heading towards, something like dark fantasy but for a younger crowd. So I'm going to look for in the library. Hopefully I can find it, crossing fingers and crossing toes.

10. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
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Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.
But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.
So much for normal.

This sounds like my type of book, normal life with a paranormal twist. And it doesn't hurt that it's getting good reviews and the cover is fantastic. So count me in on this one too!

11. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
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Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.
It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities….

I really loved her first book Bleeding Violet and when I saw this book in the library, I snatched it but once again, thanks to finals and all other matters of craziness senior stuff, I ran out of time to read it. But believe this: I'm definitely going to read it.

Well, that's some of my list of books to read. A little bit of everything. Now it's time to hear from you! What are you planning to read or already reading?!  

May 11, 2011

Window Shopping for Book Cover

I have to say that I love window shopping for my book cover. Here are some of the photographs I'm considering for Angel Diaries:
Stock Photography - girl in dark blue 
dress on the sand. 
fotosearch - search 
stock photos, 
pictures, wall 
murals, images, 
and photo clipartstock photo : A mysterious forest in Tasmania
stock photo : translucent delphinium flower

Aren't they gorgeous? I just love them to death. The forest picture though will be for the second book, but the other two photos I'm trying to pick one for the first book. So yeah. Here's the one I'm thinking for Iwishacana/Acanawishi:
stock photo : Alluring blond woman model with big ring in magic green mist. Glamour and fashion style. Real lights effect: mixed light with long exposure.

This photo caught my eye immediately, but the book is for a younger audience and I think it would lead the reader to assume that the book is for an older audience. So I love the cover, but I'm worried about what people might think what the book is about.

And of course, here's V's cover, which is the easiest.
stock photo : Serious Girl Dressed in school uniform is giving Attitude
Of course I'm going to put a giant red V on her chest, and that will be that.

I know that there are still some traditionalist out there grumbling about cost and publisher being able to pick better photographs for my book covers. I use to think the exact same way. I use to think that self-publishers couldn't come up with a professional looking cover and that they automatically looked crappy because they didn't have the resources a publisher does.

There are three words I have for you: Royalty-Free Images.

Yes, I know, hold the applause. It wasn't me who found this new idea but a fellow blogger, Written in Blood, who discussed the idea of royalty-free images. I was curious so I did some research and guess what? It's affordable and professional looking photographs.

The website I went on, mostly, for these pictures has an on demand option: 5 Hi-Res photos for 50 bucks!

Wipe that shocked look off your faces! Yes, self-publishing can be affordable and done with a professional touch. But I do warn you, window shopping for covers can be addicting and fun!

Here is some more information about royalty-free images and cover art websites:

So what do you think about the photos? About the idea of royalty-free images? I would love to hear from you!


May 7, 2011

It's A Miracle and A Reflection

Cue the Angelic harmony of voices.
Angels praying and singing to Jesus while his second coming to earth in the clouds from heaven photo download free Christian images

I'm actually writing full time now. Seriously, I haven't written like this since my ya novel, Angel Diaries. I've had a writers block for . . . Good God, for two years! *Falls over and keels over* You know, it seems like time itself just speeds on by especially when you're stuck in the reading and writing world. It seems like you transgress worlds in the matter of hours when sitting down reading a book or even when trying to contemplate ideas for writing a book. I know there times where I would be thinking about the plot of my books and of trying to come up with ideas for my television series (Afterlife Investigations) script while walking to class. Even though I was physically there, I was mentally somewhere else.

Even though I could reflect back on when I tried to walk and read at the same time (Anyone else try that?),  my brain is already on another subject: Teaching.

My brother, Adam, came home last night to give my mother her birthday present (Yes, my mother's birthday is two days away from mother's day. Good for her, right? Totally unfair for the children) and to talk about his teacher adventures. He should start his own blog, lol for what he deals with and how he deals with it. But I do deserve the credit for inspiring him to teach. It's like a bug, you know? Once I started talking about my desire to teach, everyone in my family started to talk about joining to bandwagon. Crazy huh?

Back to teaching and my brother. Well, he's a P.E. teacher but he doesn't do the whole blowing whistles and make you run laps. He teaches more of the Health classes minus the boring lectures on not smoking and what happens when your mind is on drugs. Anyway, he walked into class and told the students to divide into two sections, one that believed in health care shouldn't be free and the others who do. The students got up and divided themselves.

Okay, weird for a P.E. teacher to do this right? Well, he was being observed by history teachers and math teachers. Additionally, he free styled this whole thing which I don't think I could ever do, but anyway, let's continue.

Then for the people who thought everyone should pay for health care side, he had a scenario for them. They all work in Hinton Hospital (not a real hospital, and yes, he used our last name to name the hospital) to find the cure for AIDS. They are paid 2.5 million dollars a year. All the students were excited about that. In the process of trying to fins a cure, an accident happened. They created an air born version of AIDS and one of the workers has been contaminated with it. Now the workers made a cure, Hintopolis, for it but it costs 750,000 dollars to get it.

Students complained that it wasn't fair, since people don't have that much money. So then he posed another scenario: If you, the worker, were sick and your mother was sick then who would you cure? The students also thought that was unfair and asked why they would have to choose?

The other students who chose free health care started to feel good and stated that they're patients wouldn't have to pay for health care. So then my brother posed another scenario: Okay same hospital, but instead of the workers being paid 2.5 million dollars, y'all are going to be paid 250, 000 dollars a year. You know the students had a problem with that. He told them that the money to pay for those drugs, the hospital building bills and all that stuff has to come out of somewhere. That money doesn't just fall out of the sky.

This lead to a discussion of other government funds, like welfare. He told them about a day he went to Wal-Mart and this lady on welfare had a food stamp credit card. She was bragging that all about this credit card and how the government was going to pay for all of items in her basket. She didn't have food though. She had all types of different electronics. Big screen television screens, PSP, X-Box, and some other stuff. Then he showed the students an old paycheck of his. He showed them where the government is taking money out of paychecks and funding people on welfare. So it's no longer government money coming out of the sky, but really out your own hard working pay check. And some people, like the lady at Wal-Mart, were misusing funds out of your paycheck.

The students were furious. He quickly pointed out that not all people on welfare misuse funds but there are people who do. He did the math too on the board. You all know that the government takes out a good chunk out of a paycheck too. I don't need to provide that, but let's just say the students were getting the idea that money doesn't just pour out of the government. We fund it.

This led to another discussion of the political nature of Democrats versus Republican ideals. The students were shocked that their thoughts and ideals were more Republican then Democrat. For example, one of the students didn't believe in gay marriage and thought they were Democratic. Therefore, my brother provided another scenario: What happens if you are running for president and let out that you don't approve of gay marriages?

More math for you people who love math. He asked how many people do you think are lesbians and gays in America? He low balled it at 30,000 people in every state. Some student made a crack that there are a lot of gay people in California. During this time, his vice principal entered in who's a lesbian. However, he continued on with his students that not every gay and lesbian live in one state. They live everywhere. So he put the math on the board of 50 states with 30,000 homosexuals in each state equal 180,000 voters who will not vote for you.

The student said that wasn't fair. He didn't say he didn't like gays but gay marriages. My brother countered that he voted for President Barack Obama because he supported teachers. The students were shocked and asked like that was the only reason he voted for him? There were other reasons, but that was definitely part of the many reasons he voted for him. Just like homosexuals wouldn't vote for a person who doesn't support what they want to do which is to get married. Democrats support that and other programs that fund people in dire restraints as far as socioeconomic wise.

You liked how I pulled that word out: Socioeconomic? Lol, that's what college education does: Give you words that just over complicate a simple word. Like poor=lower socioeconomic class.

Anyway, all this to say, the students and the teachers were impressed. The students actually reconsidered their political choices. The history and math teachers were definitely impressed about how he incorporated math and history into one lesson plan. Except he free-styled it. I'm amazed at how he did that. Just off the top of his dome.

I hope I have days like that. Inspiring and like an ah-hah moment for my students. I couldn't imagine not having a learning environment where students just do their work and not learn anything. I would ultimately think I'm a failure at having my students progress in ways that they should. I want my students to know about real life and not in this fantasy world that is just as fake as spray on tans.

Sure it seems nice and give people the illusion getting enough sun and of fitting in, but when the rubber meets the road, it's all this great big lie. Just like the American Dream. People come from all around the world believing in this dream that they can live better lives here in America then when they get here they learn very quickly that it was a half lie. Sure, you can be a billionaire, but you have to build up connections and have money and have luck. Sometimes a lot of luck, but not everyone has it.

Everyone cannot become the next Opray Winfrey or Bill Gates. And not every American is rich. Every time I went overseas, there seemed to be the ideal that every single American is rich and that's certainly not true. Or the fact that people think that Americans don't go hungry or ever poor. Just like my brother proved in his lecture, there are people who go hungry and need government assistance but then there are other people who are poor but abuse the system. Or people who don't want to work and use welfare to support themselves enough to just live without lifting a finger except to pick up a check.

End of political rant, lol. The point is I want to motivate my students to challenge themselves at everything they believe in. I never want them to think that's there is only one way to live but that there are many. That there is no right or wrong, but only endless possibilities.

Did another teacher have this ah-hah teaching moment that all of the work to get there worth it? I would love to hear from you!

May 6, 2011

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

Well, it is your lucky day! Another book review!

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Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty—especially if they learn of her Sight—and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1: Don't ever attract their attention.

But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost—regardless of her plans or desires.
Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.
Faerie intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning 21st century faery tale.

My Thoughts:

     When I first heard all of the good reviews, saw the fantastic cover and read the blurb I was confident that I would fall deeply in love with the book like I did with Nightshade. However, I did not. The prologue was great, caught my attention and then I kept reading and I slowly but surely got annoyed with the author. It wasn't the characters. I loved Aislinn and her boyfriend. I liked Keenan even though he got on my nerves at times and I could relate to Dora, I think her name was, she was the girl in the beginning who thought she was meant to be the Summer Queen but turned out not to be and got the Queen's Winter frost. Maybe that was the problem. The prologue started off with a side character and not the most important character in my opinion was Aislinn. It seemed like Melissa Marr was so focused with developing the faery world and didn't focus on the main character, Aislinn. She kept flipping between all three characters. I think she was trying to focus on all three characters and make them into main characters but it didn't work.

     Why? Because her focus was mostly on Dora who wasn't the main character, it was Aislinn. It seemed like we got maybe a fourth of the book dedicated to Aislinn and the rest of the chapters dealt with Keenan and Dora. I wanted more of Aislinn and unfortunately I didn't get that. Other than that, I didn't have any issues with the book. I liked the plot and the characters but I had some problems about the way she went about protraying the different points of view.

     Since I didn't like the way she did the first book, I thought I would give her another chance with her other books.

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      Okay, so there's a funny story with this. For the first time, I think ever, in my reading career I read the series out of order. I started off with Fragile Eternity which I understood most of it but I was a bit confused, of course, about happened. When I found out that I skipped a novel, I laughed. I can't recall the last time I did that. So I returned Fragile Eternity to the library (thanks Hampton Public Library!) and got Ink Exchange. Now when I started reading this book I was doubly confused. Who the hell was Leslie and what happened to Aislinn?! I was furious. I think that was my breaking point with Melissa Marr.
      I understand that she is a fabulous writer but introducing a whole new set of characters and not even considering the reader's attachment to the previous set really ticked me off. I know she didn't do it on purpose, but I had it. I really did. I really tried to trudge through it to be a trooper. The inner reader tried to convince me that there was some mysterious master plan behind her reasoning of leaving out Aislinn but by the time I reached like page 50, I stopped. I stopped picking up the book when I had spare time and started thinking about my plot to my books and thinking of grocery lists instead. That is like the kiss of death to books.
   Despite all of this, I decided to give her one final try.
Now someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but Melissa Marr gave a good review for this book, so I thought to give a chance.
To say Matched was not my cup of tea is an understatement. Basically this book about a future dysopian soceity where the main character, Cassia, figures out that it's not all perfect as it seems.
Now what didn't I like about this book? I think the writing showed a glimmer of talent, but it just lacked some sort of refinement or something to grab me. The beginning was okay but it was misleading. It seemed like she was flying and I was like cool, she's some sort of winged creature. I can get down with that. I'm currently editing my book, Angel Diaries, so obviously I would relate to that. Um no. She was dreaming that she was flying which is just sort of cliche. To start of with a dream. But I shook it off my disappointment and continued on anyway.
I then drudged through the author describing the dress, the scenery and just going on and on without actually getting into the action. The main character was just walking to the event and the author took her sweet time, or at least it felt like it, to get to the actual event. Then when she did get to it, I was a little curious about what was happened. So I continued on. Another thing happened that was interesting but not like YOU MUST KEEP READING sorta thing. So I continued on. But then nothing else happened. It just got depressing when her grandfather was going to his killing ceremony and that's when I put my foot down. I didn't want a book to make me sad unless there was a point. It didn't seem like there was a specific reason to it and it was making me just depressed so I just decided to stop there.
I know there are probably people out there who absolutely loved the book and I'm fine with that. Please enjoy books. However, for me Matched was just not well written, not enough action and just not enough magic flavoring or spice or anything to just force me to read on.

Now moving on to happy news! I do have other recommendations:
 Wings (Aprilynne Pike (Quality))

I know this author's writing doesn't come close to Melissa Marr's but there is a difference: Consistency. I loved the consistency and the plot and the characters in this book. I loved the fact that we are slowly introduced to the fairy world and to all of its component (later on in the series of course) right along with the main character and the science behind it as well (not too sciency like Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell. Just the basics). I also love the way Aprilynne Pike flips the idea of what a fairy is on its head. I love what she has done with the legend. I also loved how she showed the conflict of what the main character, Laurel, could be in both worlds. Like two halves of a whole slowly coming apart or trying to compromise one side of herself with another. I just simply loved how Aprilynne Pike started off simple and slowly layered it and showed off her talents. Additionally, Stephenie Meyer recommended it. Enough said on that, huh?

I guess you know by looking at it that this is not a fairy book. It's not. I haven't read a lot of fairy books hence the reason why I can't really recommend a lot of them. I've been meaning to read more of them, but lost track of time. Anyway, this is an awesome book nonetheless and got me hooked onto zombies. Yeah, that's right, zombies. Even though it's not like the typical zombie and it's not the apocalypse. Sort of. Let me explain. Basically, this starts on a normal day during this current day and age except teens are starting to come back from the grave. This phenomenon only occurs in America with teenagers. There were many theories as to why this has happened but nothing has been found why. Anyway, there are three main characters: Adam, Phoebe, and the other guy who's name is escaping me. The conflict starts when Phoebe starts to date the living impaired/differently biotic/zombie named Tommy Williams. A lot of people do not approve of these differently biotic people and are actually out there to destroy them because 'they are abonimations' of sorts and the media is keeping it under wraps about how many zombies are being murdered.

Sorry I'm just blabbing on and on about this book. I could really keep going on all day about how much I love this book, how much I love the deeper meaning to this book and how it can relate to not just the past but to the present time . . .  And yet I'm still blabbing! :D Excuse my ranting and excessive praise of this book, I will really move on this time.

Last one:
Cover Image
Gorge cover! I just love looking at it! *sighs* Anyway, love love love this book. Basically, this is a young adult fantasy about this young girl Hanna who flees from her aunt who she smashed with a lamp to her mother who she has never known in Texas. Btw, she's manic depressive hence the mood swings and hitting her aunt with a lamp. And she only wears purple hence the cover and the title. She's also African American and Finnish. So high score on the main character being biracial and not being confused. Not to mention that there aren't many women of color in the young adult fantasy section. So double high five. Anyway, she moves to Texas, meets her mother, lives with her mother, and goes to school.
The first day lets her know that this school is not an average high school. I don't know if I could describe it accurately but in baby terms there are creatures and demons that attack the school and this group that wears all green tries to keep them from attacking it. It's really an interesting and fascinating read and I would highly recommend it. I wish I could describe it better, but I would like to say that this book is for an older crowd since there are some graphic scenes. Not like sex but like bloody. Especially near the end. Anyway, great book!

Has anyone else read Wicked Lovely and loved it? Or read the whole series and loved it? What about Matched? I would love to hear comments about these books and about any other fairy books that can be recommended reading. I know I want to read like Tithe by Holly Black and The Faery Path by Frewin Jones. Thanks in advance!