Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review of AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky

AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky. The writing in this novel is excellent. The word-craft of some of the phrases is so lush and gorgeous, it makes you want to read the sentences over and over. Kacvinsky really knows how to bring all of the senses to life through her writing, especially in the passages where Maddie is experiencing new things for the first time—like fire, or kissing ;)

The characters were extremely well developed too. Everything about Maddie’s relationship with Justin felt real. So many romantic leads in YA literature are one dimensional, but both Justin and Maddie felt psychologically complex, and their emotional growth throughout the novel felt natural and realistic—both their connection with each other, and their individual growth. The emotional tension of their relationship was the best part of the novel.

Also, can I just say, I love this cover! This is the perfect example of a concept cover that works well on many levels 1) it's lush and gorgeous, 2) it's unique from other YA covers and 3) the image of growing flower that is stopped up in a jar is an excellent metaphor for Maddie's life. Plus I love the greens and gold/yellow tones mix.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Body of Mine

We painted our bathroom today. We're trying to get everything ready to sell the house (we're trying to be out in a couple of weeks to put it on the market *famous last words*). Anyhow, we painted today. I have chronic health problems, and if I exert myself too much, I'll be in bed for a week. So of course, I don't avoid physical things, I just am always running the edge of "too much"!!! I've come to terms with my limitations for the most part, but every once in awhile I say screw it! I'm going to go swimming or walk too far, or in today's case, help paint my goram bathroom!!!

Because really, after the Post Edit Malaise I've been in all week, staring at my computer and unable to get going on The Next Thing (it always takes me about a week off anyway, after a big project)--anyway, it felt good to use my body in physical labor for three hours, not think much, just paint, listen to music, be with my family, and help get something done that's needed to be done. A Very Satisfying Feeling.

And I think I stopped today before it went over the line of too much. I'm resting now, will watch TV or do more delightful reading now that I'm finally starting to read again. Life is busy, but life is good :-)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Waking Up

Tonight, for the first time in three or four months, I sat down, started, and finished a book. This feels very symbolic to me - of how half-asleep and pulled in so many directions I was all semester, barely keeping my sh*% together, and sometimes, not so very successfully. Family. School. Book Deal. I was coming apart at the seams, barely finishing edits and being a mom to my kiddo, knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel and pushing, pushing, pushing to get there.

And this week I turned in my second round of edits, and finally, FINALLY, I'm breathing out the breath I feel like I've been holding for months. I will never do that to myself again. I know my limitations and I wash pushing too hard, for too long. Today I went to the coffeeshop--I had things that are next up on my plate to work on--a paper that's still due, all the edits from my fabulous writer's group on the first 1/3 of  book II that I wrote this past winter. I made an orderly to-do list for when I have the energy again.

And then I just sat. I listened to music. I did free-writing in my journal, trying to get out the jumbled up thoughts that have been brewing or sleeping in my head for so long, sometimes just recording details of the things around me, thoughts I've had - just trying to reconnect again to myself. There are times I feel hollowed out from so much doing, doing, doing, that I feel like a shell of myself, a robotic version that still wakes up and bathes her son and manages to write papers and eat and sleep and wake up and do it all again. But whatever's supposed to be housed underneath the skin was buried and comatose for a bit, like a bear hibernating.

Well, finally, spring has come my darlings. (Metaphorically that is. In actuality, Texas has decided to turn on it's hell-o-meter early and we've had two 100 degree days of heat this week!!!). So then I sat and stared some more. Read some Natalie Goldberg, who talked about connection to all the things around me. And I think, YES. Yes, that is so good. It feels so good to draw a breath again, to breath in my surroundings and exhale again.

My son graduated from Kindergarten this morning. It's time for endings and beginnings. In a couple months, we're moving away from Texas, to Minneapolis, MN. Transition. Saying good-bye to things here. Starting new things there. I can't tell you how excited I am about this. Even before I got an agent, the husband and I had decided I'd take this year off to write. Writing was the only time I've truly felt alive and awake all semester, the only bits where time and space seemed to slow down to a meaningful speed, to sink in. Good things.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Edits are DONE!!!!!

Fabulous celebration of finishing Edit Round #2!!!!! There were so many things I wanted to say about this edit round, blogs I wrote out loud to myself while I drove in between my house and the coffeeshop where magic edits happen. But now that they are ACTUALLY done, I'm basically like, spbhodiabypswefhrn! I have no wordz. My brainz are fuzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

The great thing about writing YA is that there is no place for flabby scenes. I feel like I was super-slasher this round, cutting everything extra to make super-sleek prose. Action, tension, emotional development: boom, boom, boom!

And I am emotionally worn out! Three weeks of intensely looking at my manuscript and I have no perspective on it. I think one moment: IT'S AWESOME and the next: why is my book so GODDAMNED LONG? Does it keep up tension, pace, eeeeeeeek!

Basically, I need a week of good rest and space from the manuscript! But, secretly, beyond all my self-doubt, I think my book is AWESOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! *to bed now with me!*

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Novel in Three Words

Today I was thinking about how there are a lot of YA dystopias out there this year, and more to come. I think I'll land right in the middle of the trend being published next spring (yay!), but I was also thinking, my books is dystopian for sure, but I've tried not to make it to heavy with the doom and gloom, and well, there are superpowers. Like X-Men superpowers, which is just plain fun. And kissing! I'm generally bad at describing my own book, but I realized in my mind I sum up GLITCH in three words:

Dystopia. Superpowers. Love.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cover Reveals!!!

So, several cover reveals have come out lately from my fellow Apocalypsies (MG and YA authors debuting in 2012) which are seriously awesome!!!!  Be enticed and click on each cover to link to the Goodreads description of the book!

First up, Young Adult author K.M. Walton's CRACKED:
And by fabulous debuting Middle Grade authors: SEEING CINDERELLA by Jenny Lundquist and MAY B. by Caroline Starr Rose !

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Bits of GLITCH that are Bits of ME

So I was doing my pre-writing or editing quiet/meditation time with my favorite Natalie Goldberg. Today this was the nugget that jumped off the page at me. It's chapter 4 from Thunder and Lightening, and it's all about the way we naturally write ourselves into our book.

I read a piece online lately and the young author was writing about the elderly, something far beyond her years and experiences, and the characters felt like bad imitations of stereotypes. No, Goldberg is right. She suggests we can't make a fictional character exactly like ourselves, because rarely are we able to be that vulnerable, to even understand or be willing to share all our motivations. But through fiction, the conscious and unconscious parts are ourselves pour out all jumbled up. This is a universe all in our own head, so naturally it is built of our parts - our hopes, fears, insecurities, life experiences.

Goldberg says: "The people we befriend usually mirror ourselves, our known and unknown parts." Now this is a very big statement that makes me look around at the relationships in my life and think, huh! she's right! But it also can be said of our characters. Characters who feel real aren't ones we picked out of a stereotype catalogue. All the formative things that have happened to me, that I've read, movies I've seen, things that seeped into my psyche slowly over the years are poured out in this book. What's funny, is I didn't think to realize it until 1) I'm a year out from writing the initial first draft 2) I'm in editing, where I really think consciously about each character's motivations and 3) the fabulous Goldberg.

Now that I look at it, I'm like, holy crap! There's the obvious--my love for 80's and 90's sci-fi and fantasy movies, the melodrama of romance novels, even watching The Little Mermaid EVERY day after school for all of 2nd grade. Then there are the less obvious, the unconscious things working themselves out--I see how that rough patch in my marriage is reflected, the deep ache of longing for beauty and hope in a hard, painful world, that time I was so sick with my chronic illness that I was in a wheelchair--especially the anger of that period. I was always such a good little girl, I'd never felt anger like that, and such a sustained anger. I woke up angry and went to bed angry for a year and so now I can draw knowingly from that texture of anger.

In a way, I see that all the characters in my novel are almost stages of myself. Zoe, naive, just waking up to the world of emotion and good and evil (something I think happens with most teenagers). Adrian, at least in Book I, is most like me now in his belief in beauty and hope, though it will be tested. And Max, dear Max, you are so many things to me. You are what I have wanted and who I have been and chaos and rule-breaking. You are Id, trying to grow up, needing a little Super-ego to come along and tame some of that into a healthy place.

I'm only 29, and maybe my book reflects that too - at 50, I'm wonder if this would be a very different book? But at 29 I've been poor to the point of impoverished, have been well off while my husband had a posh office job, deal daily with chronic illness, have lived in a bad part of Chicago, have lived in a safe pattern-stamped suburb neighborhood, gone back to school, am married, have a kiddo, have swam in a river, have gone to Romania, have pooped in an outhouse, have had older adventurous brothers that I loved and wanted to emulate SO badly, have been religious, have been not religious, have been sexy and have been plain, and more, so much more. And the key to life as well as writing: hope and compassion, always.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Giveaway!!! WIN Divergent & The Dark and Hollow Places

I just hit 200 followers on Twitter, so it's giveaway time! In this lovely giveaway, here's two AMAZING recent YA novels to win: a SIGNED edition of The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan, as well as a copy of Divergent by Veronica Roth!! Contest ends May 30th!

Winner is Minas!  I'll be contacting you soon about sending your books!

 Just comment below with your name, email, and count up your entries by adding up the below:
+2 for new blog followers
+3 for old blog followers
+2 for re-tweeting (include twitter name please)
+3 for blogging about the giveaway (include url please)

Thanks, and good luck!
(also, sorry, but this is open to US/Canada only residents only)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Edit Land: Experiments with Language

My editor mentioned on the first round of edits for Glitch that she'd like to see if we could make the Glitch time and the being Linked up time (the Link is a method of societal control, with a chip in everybody's brain) have different kinds of language. As if we could really experience through language, the difference Zoe feels when she's Linked and when she glitches out from the Link. Yeah, so I had bigger things I was focusing on in Edit Round I, and now we come to Edit Round II, and she's gently nudging me about this again. And better yet, suggesting places I could do it and some ideas of how!
So I'm editing today, spending an inordinate amount of time on Chapter 1, but I think both Edit Gal and I count this as a key chapter where we set up the world and let readers get to know Zoe and want to be on her side. I start playing around with the language for when she's Linked, how a computer controlled mind might think and behave. And then it hit me: there wouldn't be personal pronouns in a group-think setting. There wouldn't be any I or me. Also, computer-think, like sign-language, wouldn't bother as much with transition articles like "the" or "as" or even forming complete sentences. They would want to get information across in as few words as possible. Period.

So anyway, I've been experimenting with this, and having Zoe transition back to personal pronouns when she's glitching, slowly learning how to get the feel of being an individual. It's exciting. We'll see what Edit Gal thinks when I turn it back in to her!!

Image via: cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cover Reveal of DARKER STILL

Just got the news of a cover reveal for fellow Apocalypsie, Leanna Renee Hieber's DARKER STILL. This cover is seriously gorgeous. And the contents sound equally as exciting!!! For more about this historical/gothic/supernatural awesomeness, check out her blog post about the reveal!  Squee, exciting!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Endings and Beginnings and as always, Middles

  • My last semester of grad school! Over! No more classes! So, other than a couple of papers left (for a class I took an Incomplete due to health problems), I'm done with course work. I'll work slowly on my thesis throughout the next year, probably fly back to Tx to defend it next May since we're moving to MN. But I'm DONE w/ going to class! Maybe forever!!
  • Which leads to the next exciting Ending: working on 2nd round of edits for GLITCH! My editor got back to me with edits yesterday, on my birthday too :) Happy birthday to me! I'll be diving in tomorrow and all next week.
After I finish edits on GLITCH, then I move on to writing Book II for the rest of the summer. I've written about the first third of it, but the rest I get to dive into First Drafty Land. There's an adrenaline to the pure creation stage, building up word count and getting deep in the Writing Zone.

But most of my life is middles right now, probably why I'm a little bananas and have been for the past few weeks/months. For example,
  • Motherhood. Always a middle, an on-going drama of happy and driving-me-crazy and then cuddly and then enforcing consequences for bad behavior. Bah! Mothering a 6 1/2 yr old is constant rollercoaster land. Today was a good day though. Took munchkin to the river and we played in the small waterfalls and let him get more comfy floating and starting to learn how to swim. We are also starting to watch Doctor Who together. Very good things ;)
  • The House. We are trying to sell our house. Like, putting it on the market by May 30th. Hence, crazy house projects, like today: we were paying my friend to paint the walls in the living room, meanwhile husband and I worked together to put the grout in for the tile he laid a few weeks ago. After we put sealant on that tomorrow, we finally get to put the master bath toilet back in!! Which has been missing since husband pulled it out THREE MONTHS AGO (sharing bathroom w/ a 6 yr old w/ bad aim= no bueno!!) Also, we might be moving into an apartment starting in June so the house can be empty while it's on the market.
  • School. Yes, I'm finished w/ classes, but I still need to work w/ prof on the class I took an Incomplete for, will need to write those two papers in July.
  • The Husband. Oh dear, is it uncouth to call my husband one of my Middles? But really, the dude could not be MORE in the middle of transition-land. He's just starting his thesis...which has to be done by July! He's been finishing up other research projects with his research professor. He's taking his last final exam on Monday, then he's done w/ coursework. In a couple weeks, he's bowing out to take a trip to MN to try to figure out a safe school solution for our son. And he's going to be a Research Advisor to several undergrad students all summer. Seriously, the guy is half super-sonic cyborg, I swear, who goes and goes and goes on still very little sleep. Poor dude. Heather's Mission now that school is done: do as much as I can to give him all the time/energy/space he needs to get done all the craziness in the next few months. You know, along w/ packing and moving this summer to an apartment before he graduates and we move in mid-August!!!!! Bananasville!!!!