Reviews, rants, and tidbits from an overpassionate novelist

Archive for July, 2009

Books books books books books!

I’ve been trying to write my thoughts on a couple of novels down for a while now, but I’ve realized I don’t want to make complete posts of them. I’d rather combine them in something of a monster post.

The first book on the list is Watchers. I’ve been  a huge fan of Dean Koontz since my best friend Meggie Monster picked up Odd Thomas and forced me to listen to her read it aloud. Oddie is one of the few boys over whose hotness Meggie and I have never argued. It’s a very good thing he does not exist.

watchers

I also picked up Watchers because she recommended it. I love the way the title plays into the book. I loved Travis and Nora. Okay, Nora’s story absolutely gripped me.

And of course, I loved the dog.

I was surprised when I realized that the book was written two years before I was born. The entire first half of the novel aged beautifully. The second half, not so much. The 100 pages (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration) that Koontz spent building up the suspense that surround a traceable phone call was tiring. I started skipping things. That’s really the only thing I feel I can criticize.

Another book I read on vacation this summer was Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

geisha

In a nutshell, I completely fell in love with the writing during the first 1/5-1/3 of the book. The rest didn’t impress me as much. What happened, Mr. Golden? Where did the clever descriptions and simmering passion go?

Thankfully, it did come back in snapshots that mainly surrounded Sayuri’s visits to the artist (If I had the book with me I’d look up the name), the horrifying description of her encounter with the Minister, and her final revelations with the Chairman. I find this book’s ending absolutely delightful…if a little plot-holey.

I think I can make a full post out of my review of In Odd We Trust. Like I said, I ♥ Oddie.

Book 2 Word Count:  11, 000

Partial Requests:  3

Book 2 is Underway!

All I have time for today is a quick update. I want to get going on organizing my life for college. Finally I feel the drive.

I hit the 10,000-word mark on book 2 today. Hooray! It’s been a geniune struggle to start this one, so I’m over the moon. I simply can’t write this one in order. Just can’t.

Word Count:  10,225

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  Loving college.

Pheonixes, Nightmares, and Anime

3 changes to discuss.

1)  Everything in my own life, as a few of my readers may know, is about to change. I’m about to uproot and reroot a little bit closer to the sea and everything else in my dreams. In 17 days, I will be moving to the new Honors dorm at the University of South Carolina.

Meh new homme!

Meh new homme!

Scariness. To me, this feels like a death–a phoenix death–and I’m looking forward to my ashy renewal. I’ve just got to get the dying part over with.

In honor of this new change, I’m going to change some things about my blog.

2)  Blog change number one:  I’m going to add a dream diary. At the bottoms of posts I’m going to update the number of partial requests I’ve received and my book 2 word count, but I’m also going to share one of my freaky over-imaginative nightmares : D

3)  Blog change number two:  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since I posted Studies of Storytelling, which shares my thoughts on using everything from Disney movies to anime to internet emails to help us writers improve our craft.

If that’s the case, why should I only review books here on my blog? I can share thoughts about anime and movies as well.

This sounds like so much fun to me. More later! ❤

Book 2 Word Count:  6000

Partial Requests:  3

Dream Diary:  I had a nightmare that a truly vicious classmate who tormented me through middle school and sneered at me through high school was in two of my college classes. (Cue shrieking violins) Have I mentioned I’m ready to be in Columbia? Change is nice.

Ugly by Scott Westerfield – Thoughts & Review

I decided to read this book because I’d heard multiple times that it was good and I have resolved to do the smart thing and keep informed about what’s good and bad in my genre. Yay for me and my step up in maturity level.

uglies

The premise is one of those dystopian “Why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. In this future, every 16-year-old undergoes an operation to make them gorgeous–and exactly the same as everybody else over 16. The main character, Tally, is looking forward to her transformation until she makes a friend with different ideas.

The writing is clear, a nice pane of glass, I suppose. I understand the appeal of the adventure sequence. A city girl can’t embark along on a quest of “evil” through dangerous wilderness without evoking a certain amount of thrill. I love the themes and the way the author uses them.

For me, however, the book was unsatisfying. The characters were not well fleshed-out. Their beliefs are strong and show through their actions, but the writing isn’t intimate for this alone to let them to come to life. I needed more little things, likes and dislikes, quirky memories, elements of crazy awesome reality.

Other parts of the book are told and not shown. For example, on a certain return trip, Westerfield deprives the audience of the development of the love story, saying “Tally can’t remember.” This annoyed me.

It also bothered me that the book was clean enough for a children’s shelf. Not a curse word, a speck of blood, or a raging hormone in it. They’re 16. Get real.

Kids looking for a fun read will like this book. Tally’s adventures are fun enough to show up in readers’ dreams. Those looking for high-level writing or strong emotional connection with characters, however, will be disappointed.

Dreams of a Hilarious Imagination

Something epic hath happened, my friends. Something epic.

My video-gamer, card-gamer little brother has decided he wants to aspire to something beyond those things, something that might gain him actual recognition. Well, okay, I planted the bug in his ear. I am convinced he is destined to become a Youtube personality.

Now he’s writing in a way, thinking through his scripts before he uses them. Yes! He and I have never gotten along so well, either. I’m quite excited. Check out the leprechaun-headed Jim Carrey:

More later! ❤

Mollie Glick from Foundry Literary + Media

Sorry for the delay. I have to do my summering sometime. I am 18, after all.

Well, I have an update. I haven’t queried for a month because the literary agent considering my work required a period of exclusivity. Very annoying to someone with a time schedule. However, working with her was a pleasant experience. Around 40 days passed since I sent her the partial, so I emailed asking for an update. She responded quickly with a thoughtful and positive review (strong preface, engaging narrative), and even went so far as to ask that I query her with future ideas. This project, however, wasn’t perfect for her.

Who is she? Mollie Glick of Foundry Media. The cool thing about my experience with this agent was getting to meet her. She was the agent-in-residence at the Southeastern Writer’s Workshop Conference this year, so I got to sit down and talk with her about my writing about the industry. She had not read my chapters yet when I spoke with her, but it was a bonus to get that face time.

Sorry I haven’t posted the review yet. I promise they will come. As soon as the summer funk wears off.

More later! ❤

Courtney’s Writing Nonfiction? What?

To be honest, I expect to get a bit of rap for trying to write anything memoir-esque at my age. I’m 18. What could I possibly have to say?

One of the best things I got from this last conference was a gentle reminder of the value of those years from Emily Sue Harvey. “It’s amazing that you write,” she said. “Not only that you have the drive, lots of kids have the drive. You have something to say.”

Her words surprised me. I’d never thought of that–having something to say–as my strength before. Then I thought about the number of nights I’ve spent lying awake just thinking about life, the times I’ve agonized about getting through situations without hurting others, and my uncle’s words about the emotional-literary power woven into my writing.

I thought maybe she was right.

So I’ve been looking for stories in my life, and I’ve finally struck gold. I’ve found a story I want to write so much it hurts. I’ve resolved to turn it into a masterpiece. It involves the World Scout Jamboree I attended in 2007. I’m dying to share it, even in its atrocious first-draft form, so I’m going to be an indulgent teenager and post the first paragraph.

The Teapot Boy

My first impression of the boy who would change me forever was as wrong as it possibly could have been. I remember sitting on the stage set up in that gymnasium, scanning the crowd and getting seized by a glare. That’s right. I was minding my own business, making drowsy conversation with the people lounging on the sofas where I’d been taking a nap, and a boy I’d never met before was staring me down.

On that creepy note, I must leave you for now. I’ll keep you update though. I’m very excited about it.

So excited that I didn’t feel like working on the reviews I should have written today. Sigh. Those will happen soon. I promise. The posts on the way are:

A review of In Odd We Trust by Dean Koontz & Queenie Chan
A review of The Uglies by Scott Westerfield
Thoughts on Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
& Thoughts on Song of Renewal by Emily Sue Harvey

Jambo Picture:

Sword dancers from Qatar

Sword dancers from Qatar

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