Monthly Archives: August 2013

52 of 52 update: The Bone Season Review

This week I spend some time in Germany, and with my wacked out sleeping schedule I had time to start and finish Samantha Shannon’s debut novel “The Bone Season” I’ve posted my review on Good Reads and will repost it here. I gave it 4 stars, only because I had to really get used to the new dialog and her ‘London’ and personally stop comparing her to JK Rowling.

I’ll admit, when I saw the words “the next JK Rowling” written in an early summer pre-review I immediately pre-ordered this book. After finishing the pretty awful last Sookie Stackhouse book I was ready to launch into something great.

I wasn’t disappointed. This 21 year old author (who is STILL in university according to her bio) is quite a story teller. She creates a crazy dark world where ‘voyants’ (individuals with different types of clairvoyant talents) run the underground. The author quickly turns this new world and her heroine upside down into an even CRAZIER dark world. I am curious to know whether this should be considered Young Adult or just regular old adult. It is a pretty dark story, with death, slavery, and brutal treatment of humans that makes me think it might be on the cusp of not being YA.

Due to all of the references to JK Rowling, I couldn’t help comparing the two for the first 1/3 of the book thinking that this new gal didn’t really measure up. And while her world isn’t nearly as charming as Hogwarts with its witches and muggles, she definitely hits her stride pretty quickly, and allows you to immerse into Scion (her made up London world).

Two things of note 1) there is a glossary in the back (reading on a Kindle sort of ruins using something like that – though it would have been super useful throughout with all the terms she makes up throughout the book) and 2) this is the first of 7 (!!) planned books and I’m no good at waiting. Let’s hope she writes quickly like JK, not slowly like George RR.

Enjoy!

Plus – an update on my 52 in 52. Read two books while in Germany. Finished the awful last Sookie Stackhouse, and the delightful Bone Season taking me new total to:

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Kathy has
read 27 books toward her goal of 52 books.
hide

next up City of Bones (the first in the Mortal Instruments series) as recommended by some colleagues and furthering my readership of popular YA fiction.

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By George I think she’s got it!

Cassie and Lyra at MarymoorHave I mentioned that we have two golden retrievers? They are out ‘kids’ and I am SURE that I’m one of those annoying people that talks about her dogs way too much (or in our case, we call them the ‘girls’). Anywhoo – in the summer, we try to take them to the dog park every afternoon so they can run around and swim. We have an amazing off leash grassy, acres and acres dog park at Marymoor and they L O V E it. Paul and I get a nice little walk in as well. As of late, our walks have all contained discussions about plots, set up, the hero’s journey, book writing and reading, I’m sure much to Paul’s chagrin.

He’s been trying to help me come up with plots but most of the time he would like me to either a) write a book about a golden retriever or b) write a book about a star trek character. He has good ideas, I just don’t think I can pull them off. I want HIM to write a book about a star trek character, but he is not interested in this writing thing at ALL. He even tried to make my silly sorority novelette more interesting by adding a Ted Bundy twist. 🙂

Over the past few days though I’ve been mulling around something some friends told me at dinner. Take something you LOVE and spice it up. While this is not new information, they did help me hit on some things I love. I’m going to go back to the sorority idea (I like that age and who didn’t love college!!), but add in a rock star element and Disney. What could go wrong? *smirk*

Heading to Germany later today for the week. While the week is filled with meetings, and the evenings I’m sure filled with dinners, I usually don’t sleep well on planes and abroad therefore, that leaves me lots more time to noodle through this idea. With any luck, get some writing done and flesh out the idea fully before class starts in the fall! I’m actually pretty excited about this – now I just have to focus and start writing. woot!

Elements of Style and other musings

Novel writing class is complete.  I have two months before my next writing adventure begins. So how will I continue to sharpen my skills?  Keep the passion rolling?

First, continue on the 52 in 52 path.  I have a trip upcoming next week where I should get some good reading in (foreign country, only has BBC World in the room, so not much TV to distract when in the room…, not to mention the 11 hours it will take to get there).  I am half way through with books, but over half way through the year so I need to make up some ground, whilst reading a variety of books.   I just found a used book written by the professor of my upcoming UW writing course (Pamela Binder),  it was written in 2000, called The Quest, and has a Scottish highlander on the cover.   Definitely something I want to read before class starts.

Next, continue writing.  I just ordered the 4th edition of Strunk’s Elements of Style.  I have owned this book before, but looking through the shelves, I must have recycled it at some point.   I also want to practice writing several chapters from 1 point of view (POV).  I was looking back at my writings in the past Nano book and found that I always have written from several POVs.  In the first two books, I kept it pretty clean, writing different chapters from different  POVs, but in my latest (and the novelette I pulled samples from for novel writing class) I was a lazy and switched between POVs within the same chapters, writing from an omniscient 3rd person POV.  My teacher and I spoke about that in class last night – he said it’s fine for an early draft, but typically it’s better to stick to one POV at least in a chapter.

In a few of the books and webpages I’ve read recently – POV can be handled in 3 ways – pulling this from ‘Understanding Point of View in Literature’  for dummies’  (ha!)

Point of view comes in three varieties, which the English scholars have handily numbered for your convenience:

    • First-person point of view is in use when a character narrates the story with I-me-my-mine in his or her speech. The advantage of this point of view is that you get to hear the thoughts of the narrator and see the world depicted in the story through his or her eyes. However, remember that no narrator, like no human being, has complete self-knowledge or, for that matter, complete knowledge of anything. Therefore, the reader’s role is to go beyond what the narrator says.
      • For example, Harper Lee’s

To Kill a Mockingbird

        is told from the point of view of Scout, a young child. She doesn’t grasp the complex racial and socioeconomic relations of her town — but the reader does, because Scout gives information that the reader can interpret. Also, Scout’s innocence reminds the reader of a simple, “it’s-not-fair” attitude that contrasts with the rationalizations of other characters.

      • Second-person point of view, in which the author uses you and your, is rare; authors seldom speak directly to the reader. When you encounter this point of view, pay attention. Why? The author has made a daring choice, probably with a specific purpose in mind. Most times, second-person point of view draws the reader into the story, almost making the reader a participant in the action.
        • Here’s an example: Jay McInerney’s best-selling

    Bright Lights, Big City

          was written in second person to make the experiences and tribulations of the unnamed main character more personal and intimate for the reader.
      • Third-person point of view is that of an outsider looking at the action. The writer may choose third-person omniscient, in which the thoughts of every character are open to the reader, or third-person limited, in which the reader enters only one character’s mind, either throughout the entire work or in a specific section. Third-person limited differs from first-person because the author’s voice, not the character’s voice, is what you hear in the descriptive passages.
        • In Virginia Woolf’s wonderful novel

    Mrs. Dalloway,

        you’re in one character’s mind at a time. You know the title character’s thoughts about Peter, the great love of her youth, for example, and then a few pages later, you hear Peter’s thoughts about Mrs. Dalloway. Fascinating! When you’re reading a third-person selection, either limited or omniscient, you’re watching the story unfold as an outsider. Remember that most writers choose this point of view.

    Anywhoo – I want to come up with a couple of writing exercises that focus me on writing from a specific POV, maybe even trying a few from first person. A gentleman in our class (Chuck) read his piece, which was in first person POV. It was pretty powerful. He’s writing a book about a detective in Mexico, mixed up in drug cartel, murder, and general mayhem. He mentioned to the class that he wanted to switch to 3rd person POV, because 1st person was pretty difficult. The class all tried to discourage him. Detective stories are often written from first person POV so the reader can solve the crime along with the detective and really feel close to the action. Interesting.

    I also need to get into a writing pattern. For NaNo I wrote in the evening, while P would make dinner, sitting in front of a blaring tv. While that sort of works for random musings and the rambling prose that I wrote fro the NaNo exercises – not sure how awesome it is for concentrating and writing well. My published colleague at work gets up everyday at 4am and writes for a couple of hours before having to get ready for work and hanging out with his family. 4am!! That probably isn’t going to happen. 5:30am to the gym is early enough. Will try a couple of times though and figure out what works well for consistent writing.

    Last Homework Assignment for Novel Writing Class

    First the assignment: NOVEL WRITING HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT 4: WRITE ANOTHER CHAPTER

    1. This week’s assignment is to write another chapter from your novel. I recommend choosing the part of the story that interests you most (such as, a key chapter in which events are approaching the climax). Then print up some copies and bring them along to share aloud with the class.

    And next, my key chapter (again, writing from an existing ‘NanNo novelette’ – but working on editing).

    SIXTEEN
    I’m so happy because today I found my friends – they’re in my head.
    ~Kurt Cobain 21st Century Musical Artist

    Karmen, Ben, Brent, and Heidi were hiking through higher elevation areas today. They had ridden two ATVs thirty miles up into the hills to find new samples. Once they couldn’t drive any further due to the density of the brush, they hiked up even further.
    The deciduous trees faded away and gave yield to the bigger coniferous trees. The animals were much smaller up in this region as well. They hadn’t met any really big dinosaurs since the big T-Rex a few nights back. Heidi for one was glad about that. That encounter was disturbing. She and Jeanie were both traumatized by the site of the carnivore devouring the gentle giant. Heidi hadn’t been having nightmares like Jeanie, but nonetheless, she was pleased her team was up in the higher elevations today. The bigger dinosaur fossils weren’t found in any of the higher mountainous regions back home. So far that had held true.
    The terrain was pretty rough, the hikers were all connected with a daisy chain and using climbing axes over the rougher rockier terrain to stay steady. Karmen really wanted them to get to the plateau and kept promising it was just another few meters. Karmen lead with Heidi next, then Brent and Ben in the back of the daisy chain each person with about 6 meters of climbing rope separating them. Brent had recovered from his tango with the toxic plant, but even after three days was still covered in a lotion that Bones had made him put on. Ben and Karmen were the strongest of the bunch. Karmen was a fitness beast, and could probably bench press as much as Ben. Heidi, though her thighs were on fire, felt safe climbing between them.

    “Only another couple of meters!” Karmen called to them.

    Heidi sighed. She heard Brent groan behind her. He must not be feeling as well as he let on.

    A low rumbling sound started, followed by a ripple in the ground beneath them. Rocks tumbled all around. “Hold on, it’s another quake,” Karmen said from the front of the line. She drove her hiking axe into the rock securing the team. More rocks tumbled and rolled around them as the ground continued to shake. Heidi watched as a bigger rock rolled and bounced towards them.

    “Karmen look out!” Heidi cried at her friend.

    The bigger rock bounced and hit Karmen in the head, knocking her down to the ground, loosening her grip on the climbing axe. The whole group lurched backwards. Ben and Brent tried to shore up the group as Karmen, who seemed to be unconscious started sliding past them. Heidi reached out to grab Karmen with one hand, while gripping her axe tighter with the other trying to prevent her friend from sliding down the steep hill they were climbing.

    “She’s bleeding pretty badly!” Heidi called out, gagging a bit as Karmen’s blood smeared onto Heidi’s hand as she held on.

    “Heidi, you need to hang on to your axe,” Ben said, watching as she slipped slightly off her grip. “Brent, try to get in front of Heidi to help shore up the group.” The ground had stopped shaking after a couple of minutes, but the rocks kept rolling past them. Ben and Brent tried to hold the group on the steep hill while dodging the rocks and other debris falling around them.

    “I’m losing my grip!” Brent said, as he had moved to the front of the group to help secure Heidi and Karmen. Karmen and Heidi’s climbing axes were long gone now, having slid down the hill. Heidi dug her heels in as best she could, as she hung on to Karmen, trying to cradle her bleeding head in her lap.

    “Hang on Brent! Heidi, try to shore up with your heels, hang on to Karmen, if we lose her we all go!” Ben cried eyeing their connected line.

    Rocks still falling all around them, Brent and Ben were trying to duck as they came hurtling towards the group. Heidi tried to shelter her own head while keeping her back to the upper part of the hill. Falling debris hit her in the middle of the back knocking the wind out of her and causing her to lose her grip on Karmen. The unconscious leader slid down the hill pulling Heidi with her. Heidi went face first down the hill after Karmen, dirt filling her mouth and nose.

    Brent tried securing his climbing axe in the hard rock surface with no success, and started to slip down after Heidi. He could hear their radios barking with Bones yelling at them to check in. Clearly their vital monitors were going off back at base camp. He felt a wave of nausea hit him at just the wrong moment, he quickly turned away from the group and lost his lunch on the rocks below him.

    “God damn….” He muttered. He could hear Ben yelling orders to him, but it was all he could do to try and spear another section of dirt to stabilize the group, his muscles strained to their limit trying to hold both women from careening further down the hill.

    Heidi grabbed at branches and small plants as she slid past them, but they were too weak to hold her and broke or ripped out of the ground. She passed by a tree and was able to shore up for a moment before her hands slid over the branches and she was once again falling. As she slipped further down the hill, her belt linking her to the daisy chain gripped her, and slowed Karmen’s fall as well. Part of a tree rolled past them a branch whipping Heidi in the face scratching her. Her mouth had a dirty iron taste.

    As she started to fade out of consciousness herself, she heard a new voice shouting to Ben and Brent. It wasn’t tinny sounding from the radio, there was someone else with them. She tried to lift her head to see who had come to rescue them, but ended up falling backwards into oblivion.
    ….
    Karmen woke up in a bed, at first she thought she was back in the RV. Her body ached as she tried to move, the earlier events coming back to her. She opened her eyes and saw a thatched roof above her head. She tried to lift up and Bones was suddenly at her side.

    “Easy there, you have a concussion. I’ve had to put some stitches above your eyebrow. You had quite a gash,” the doctor said pushing her gently back to the bed. Next to her was a gentleman who looked familiar but who was not part of their group.

    “Where are we?” Karmen croaked.

    “Here, drink this water and get some more rest. We were worried about you not waking due to that bump on your head, but now that you have, I’d like to you get a bit more sleep. We’ll explain everything to you when you’re fully recovered. Don’t worry though, you’re safe.”

    “Am I home? Are we home?” Karmen asked again drifting back into a sleep.

    “You’re in our home,” the man said.

    “Wait, I know you…” Karmen tried to stay awake to uncover the mystery of who their host was.

    “Yes, you do, Karmen. We’ll catch up soon,” Chris said as he left the room.

    Popular Fiction update

    So CHECK out the mail I just received from the old UW:

    Dear Kathy,

    I am pleased to report that you have been accepted into the Certificate Program in Popular Fiction I. On behalf of the program team, please accept our congratulations. The start date of your program is listed on the attached Registration Form. We ask that you complete and return your First Term Registration Form no later than two weeks before the first day of the course…

    Woot Woot! Can’t wait! There was a bit more to the letter, but no need to dive deep. The point is WOOT WOOT!

    Now I have to go start/finish my homework for tomorrow’s last novel writing class. Gotta get crack-a-lackin!

    52 of 52 part 3 …

    26 of 52 so far!

    Okay – time to give a 52 in 52 update!  First, after finishing the (slightly boring) new JK Rowling detective novel, I had a couple of plane rides coming up so went to my ‘go to’ plane books – good ole Stephanie Plum the bounty hunter.  I finished 11 and 12 in the weekend with a couple of plane rides down to LAX and back.   Always good for a laugh.  I’m sure my seat mates on the plane thought I was a little crazy with the laughing out loud moments I had.

    Also – after going into the goodreads.com tool and cleaning up my reads for the year, it appears I have read 26 books this year.  That would be 26 of the 52 I’d like to read.  This gives me 26 books to read  in 22 weeks.  I’m half way through the 52 books, but over half way through the year.  Good news, I have a massive flight to and from Europe and some time in Germany coming up that will give me time to make up some more ground.

    I just cracked open the last in the Sookie Stackhouse series.  I usually read these within days of them releasing, but this one is getting pretty horrible reviews, my guess is because 1) Charlaine Harris is D-O-N-E writing this series and sort of phoned this one in. 2) I think she does something fans don’t like to our beloved Sookie in the end.  And finally 3) I’ve really been put off by how wayward the show modeled after the books has gone (HBO’s True Blood) and have lost track of the path the books went vs. the show.  But, I’ve read the others, and for the most part, enjoyed them so here’s to being a completionist.

    I’m also eager to start Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season (coming out 8/20 and hailed as potentially the next Harry Potter!!), Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.  They are all loaded on my Kindle and ready to roll.  I also picked up a paperback copy of Dark Places by Gillian Flynn to read during take offs and landing (and when Kindle batteries die after an 8 hour flight).  That girl is DARK and depressing.  A few chapters in and it is disturbing, more so even than Gone Girl. yeesh.

    Anywhooo, you can see I’m at least keeping up my end of the bargain from a reading perspective.  Now to get writing as well.  I STILL have to do my homework for this week (due in two days) – we again have to read in class (it’s our last class) AND I haven’t heard yet if I’ve been accepted into the Popular Fiction program.  Nail biters both!  Stay tuned.

    now that was awkard…

    In novel writing class last night we had to read aloud our 500 words we prepared for our homework. ACK. Double ACK! So wasn’t ready to spill my beans just yet. Though, considering I used that piece as part of my “Popular Fiction” application, I hope it was okay.

    I read second after my friend Rich read his piece. He’s been working on this epic fantasy novel for a while, has some 200k words socked away in bits and pieces. I was REALLY impressed with his descriptions of the environment and action in the piece that he read. Very descriptive and visually appealing (even though it was the written word). Reading and hearing mine out loud after his was truly embarrassing. Even though I didn’t mean for it to be, mine sounded YA-like in tone, after his eloquent writing.

    Perhaps that is my ‘voice’, immature and simple… sigh.   Reading a couple of other pieces I’ve written for Nano, they seem similar. I’m destined to write dystopian YA novelettes.  At least there is A LOT of examples out there to read!  🙂 I spoke with a colleague today at work about his writing (he’s published a novel and has another one in the editing stages), and he we talked about ‘voice’, publishing, and his new editor (he’s very happy with her).  Fascinating business this writing stuff.   As I learn and read more about writing, I’m even more impressed with his second career as a writer.  V. cool for him.

    Okay – onto the new stress!  This week’s homework assignment.  It is our last class, and our teacher is making us go out with a BANG! More writing of our ‘novel’ and reading aloud in class.  AND now that I’ve heard what other people have to offer the stakes have been raised!

    1. This week’s assignment is to write another chapter from your novel.  I recommend choosing the part of the story that interests you most (such as, a key chapter in which events are approaching the climax).  Then print up some copies and bring them along to share aloud with the class.

    It is on like donkey kong.  Now to come up with something I actually want to write about.

    And as an aside… go HAWKS!  (it’s football season don’t you know!) I wonder if I can write a chapter WHILST watching a pre-season game… hmmmm challenges challenges.  🙂

    Next entry, a new writing exercise to hopefully spark a chapter, novel idea or SOMETHING.