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Literary ADD

I have not been able to decide what I want to read lately, as any of you who follow my Goodreads feed have seen. I keep starting books and then getting restless, shelving them again and starting something else. Does this ever happen to you?

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Revisions Series

Remember when I was all, "Dudes, you should go check out this Maggie Stiefvater post on revisions right now"? Well, Maggie has turned it into a multi-author series (all starting from this post here). Ten authors post dissections of early and final drafts, explaining why and demonstrating how they shaped their first drafts into the final product. Very, very cool. I highly recommend all you writer-folks check it out.

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Logan's ancestry revealed!

Argh.  So I wrote this big post revealing Logan's family tree/breed analysis (we had him DNA tested) and LJ absolutely will not let me post it, saying the file is too big (no matter what I delete). So... if you're interested, hop over to my Blogger blog to see the results!

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This is all I ever wanted from life

There's a song on Snow Patrol's latest album called Life-ning that lists out things the singer wants from life. For example:

Words of reassurance
But only if they're true
Just some simple kindness
No vengeance from the gods


The chorus is simple: just the line "This is all I ever wanted from life" repeated.

It's a beautiful song and it's been circling my head for the last few days. I started thinking, what would Megan (the main character in TLOS) have written for her verses of this song? And what would the main characters of the book I'm currently working on write?

Understanding what motivates your characters is absolutely essential to writing a good story and crafting good character development. I make sure I understand that at a foundational level before I put any words on the page--like, what does this character want most? What is the thing that drives his/her decisions and actions? But thinking about it in terms of this song and the breadth of desires addressed in its lyrics and what I learned about the singer by listening to them brought it to a whole new level for me.

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Writing mini-workshop

Do you read Maggie Stiefvater's LJ (m_stiefvater)? Let's back up: do you read Maggie's books? I highly recommend them. In fact, two of them made my top reads of 2011 post. But anyway, back to Maggie's LJ. She wrote a post showing the first draft of a chapter from THE SCORPIO RACES and then the final draft, commenting on what revisions she made and why. She also comments extensively on the first draft version, explaining why she wrote what she did and giving some transparency into the mechanics of the scene.

Really, really valuable stuff there. Like a mini workshop on writing.

You can check it out here, if you're interested. Also, it will give you a taste of THE SCORPIO RACES. :)

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Busy busy busy

The Day Job has got me running lately but I did manage to finish MOCKINGJAY (!!!!!!!) and start back in on the new book (still calling it JAI for now) this past weekend.

I was so fatigued from the seemingly endless TLOS revisions that I thought it would be a real struggle to start working on somehong new. I thought it would be really hard to get myself to give up all this glorious, lazy reading time but the truth is that I was itching to get back to work within a week. :) No rest for the wicked, I guess!

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Dazzled

A new Snow Patrol album came out yesterday. I'm a huge Snow Patrol fan and I've been eagerly anticipating this new album. It's pretty good. I haven't been able to give it a good listen yet but I've liked the stuff I've heard so far and I can already tell a couple of the tracks will be added to my Snow Patrol favorites.

But while I was listening to it, I realized that I was so freaking excited about it, so ready for it to be great, that it would have taken more work (so to speak) for the songs to disappoint me than it would for them to make me love them. Snow Patrol has already earned my trust and so now I approach anything they do with open arms, ready to fall in love with it.

I'm like that with books, too. I expect and anticipate that every story--especially those by tried and true beloved authors--will kindle something in me, excite me, make me fall in love with it. Like I'm halfway there before I open the cover.

I don't think I'm alone in this, and I think that's kind of cool. We allow ourselves to be dazzled on a regular basis. I like the idea of all of us fans, us lovers of stories and songs and other works of art, having "embrace this" as our default setting.

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The Hunger Games

Okay, I know I'm probably the last person on the planet to be reading The Hunger Games trilogy BUT OH MY GOD THEY ARE SO BRILLIANT.

That is all. I must get back to Mockingjay.

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Friday Five: Top 5 Reads of 2011 Edition

Yesterday, I was reviewing my Goodreads page in anticipation of this post and daaaaaaaaaaaamn 2011 was a good year for reading for me! LOTS of books that were rated 4 or 5 stars. For my full list of 2011 books and ratings (and a good number of reviews), please see my Goodreads page. I've highlighted my top 5 (in order) for you below. Title links are to my Goodreads reviews and purchase links are at the end of each.

CHIME by Franny Billingsley (YA fantasy)
I gave this book eleven out of five stars and it was definitely my top read of 2011. I read it as an ebook but I put the paper book on my xmas list because I want to read it again (and again and again) and underline all my favorite parts (which will probably be every other word or so).  B&N | Amazon | Indiebound

EDINBURGH by Alexander Chee (Literary Fiction)
This was my top read of 2011 until I read CHIME. It is one of the most beautifully written, heartbreaking books I have ever experienced. Every sentence is like its own story, every paragraph contains its own heartache. It was a difficult read because it was so emotional, but so very worth it. The kind of book that leaves you feeling forever changed.  B&N | Amazon | Indiebound

THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater (YA)
This one kind of snuck up on me. I really enjoyed it while I was reading it, but my love for it has grown in the intervening months since I finished it. I gave away a couple of copies to friends at xmas, actually. It's a beautiful story that's told precisely the way it needed to be. Stiefvater is a master at spare storytelling--leaving her pages uncluttered by extraneous anything (details, scenes, dialogue). And I really, really loved the characters. Just a really gorgeous story.  B&N | Amazon | Indiebound

FIRE by Kristin Cashore (YA fantasy)
I'd been apprehensive to read this book. I loved GRACELING, the first book in this series, and this one seemed to center around a character from GRACELING whom I didn't care for. Boy, was I wrong! I loved this book ten times more than GRACELING (and that's saying something!) and the focus of the book is on an entirely different set of characters (all of whom I fell in love with), though that particular character from GRACELING does play a significant role. Loved it. B&N | Amazon | Indiebound

THE SHADOW READER by Sandy Williams (Adult Urban Fantasy)
I've loved this book from the moment Sandy posted the opening scene on her blog back in the day. In fact, I love it so much, I am TSR's self-proclaimed  #1 fan. Sandy's developed a rich, unique world and written a great adventure with a compelling love story. I've read it cover-to-cover about four times now and it's just as good as it was the first time.  B&N | Amazon | Indiebound


I had a really hard time narrowing down that fifth book for my top 5 list (so! many! good reads in 2011!) so I'd like to add a couple of Honorable Mentions:

FOREVER by Maggie Stiefvater (paranormal YA romance) -- The conclusion to the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy was perhaps one of the loveliest books I've read.

WITHER by Lauren DeStefano (dystopian YA) -- Incredible worldbuilding, really unique concept, excellently written characters. An amazing debut. Also, one of my all-time favorite covers.

MATCHED by Ally Condie (dystopian YA romance) -- Again, top notch worldbuilding, unique concept and that gorgeous, spare prose that I'd give my left arm (okay, maybe my pinky toe) to be able to write.

Hello again, my friends

I have returned from my blog hiatus! I have emerged from the Revisions Cave of Doom(tm)!

I really hated to disappear like that but, due to a variety of converging factors, I had to give something up in my life and tragically, it couldn't have been my day job. ;) But anyway, I'm back! TLOS is once again out in the world, awaiting its fate and I'm gorging myself on some reading while taking a short break before diving back into my new project.

What the heck is new with you? Along with blog posting I also had to (sadly!) give up blog reading while I was on hiatus, so I am completely behind on all the news and views here on LJ. Please, if you have had momentous news, fill me in!

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