Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hitting the Town

This has been a stressful week.  We've just finished our second round of illness in our home.  Isn't it nice when families share?  And I've had a deadline that I was determined to not just meet but excel.

Do you ever do that?  Push yourself above and beyond because you want to prove you are capable of doing well under pressure?

To be honest, I utterly failed on this one.  No, I didn't miss my deadline. In fact I managed to come in 4 days early BUT I missed my personal goal by 3 days.  I think my family would have voted me off the island if I'd worked any harder!

My dear friend, and brutally honest critic (love you Danielle!) kept pestering me about pushing too hard.  But like the amazing person she is, she hung in with me.  Through the re-writes, painful edits, and yeah more, slicing and dicing.  All, I might add, while I was going through a painful detox.  Probably not the best idea to start taking new meds this past week!

So she hung in there through my detox induced brain farts, cries for help after an entire day of writing junk, and finally to my final day of frantic doubts.  She kept me grounded, reminding me that I'm a good writer, that my book is gonna be great and that I deserve a star sticker for effort.  Ok, maybe I added that last bit.

So tonight my hubby and I are hitting the town.  No writing.  No thinking of writing.  Just good times with great friends.  I'm gonna totally unwind tonight.  I think I deserve it.  

Book Review: Mockingjay

This book review of Mockingjay, the third and final installment in the Hunger Game trilogy, is a week in the making.  To be honest, I have started it 5 times, and deleted it 5 times.  Why?  Because my feelings on this book have been evolving.

My initial reaction, after reading the final sentence of Mockingjay, was anger- pure fire and brimstone kind of anger.  I felt robbed of the happy ending I so badly wanted.  Gloom and doom are not my kind of books.  What kept me reading was the hope that Katniss would finally be able to find happiness in her broken world.

I fumed.  I stewed.  I grumbled to anyone who would listen.  (sorry for that!)  I was disgusted.

But a couple days later, an insightful friend said something that changed my entire opinion of the trilogy.  “It really couldn’t have ended any other way.”
I thought about this, far longer than I probably should have, and in the end I realized she was right.  Katniss couldn’t change her personality, the war for Panem had to be ugly, and death was a certainty.
From this view point, I began to appreciate Suzanne Collins on a new level.  She stayed true to the story, even to the point of killing off characters that I had grown to love.  She destroyed a relationship that I rooted for.  She tortured my favorite character.  She was right to do so.

I have discovered that the beauty of the Hunger Games trilogy did not come while I was reading it, but in the week since I finished.  My thoughts linger on Panem, on whether or not their efforts actually made a difference.  Could this world be fixed?  That is a question that is left for the readers to ponder.  A true stroke of genius on Mrs. Collin’s part.

My anger has subsided, while my appreciation grows by the day.  To a hopeless romantic, I will never be able to say that I loved the Hunger Games.  But as a writer...this trilogy was spot on. Life has a way of NOT ending up like fairy tales and Suzanne Collins reminded us of that.

Star rating for Mocking Jay: 4 stars for making me invest in this book.

Star rating for The Hunger Games Trilogy: 5 stars for sheer brilliance and for making me continue to wonder about the fate of Panem.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Celebrating the curve balls

Life has a way of throwing curve balls, typically right at your head.  If you don't duck you're going to learn a valuable lesson.  Life took a swing at me today.  

I entered the Amazon Novel competition a month ago, with high hopes of course, alongside a women who has become a dear friend to me.  We have never met in person, talked on the phone or communicated in any way other than through Facebook. But because of our love for writing, we have become close friends.

This morning I discovered that I did not make it through the first cut of the contest, but to be honest, my very next thought was to check if she did.  I was so excited for her success that I nearly forgot about my own book.

Rejection is never easy.  If I tried to tell you that I'm not a little bummed you'd have every right to call me a liar.  I am bummed.  It's natural.  But this couldn't have come at a better time for me.

I've got a great prospect that I'm working hard on right now and being out of the running for the Amazon competition means I can devote all of my time to editing my new teen dystopian novel, IGNITE.  This book is where my heart truly lies so I am grateful for this opportunity .  

Some people say "you win some, you lose some."  I don't agree with that.  I think you always just depends on how you look at each situation!

Well done, Danielle Bannister, self-pubbed author of PULLED.  I can't wait to see how far you go!   

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire

It is rare when I can actually say I love a sequel more than I love the original.  Imagine my delight when I picked up Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games.

If you read my review of The Hunger Games,  you will know that I was not thrilled with the idea of a 12 year old girl being forced to fight to the death, for entertainment.  Nor was I a fan of the gruesome final death that occurred in the games.  But despite my unease with the storyline, I was conflicted in writing my review.  I have deep respect for Suzanne’s Collins; for her willingness to step outside of the box and send shockwaves around the globe.

Although The Hunger Games  didn’t leave me begging for more, I was determined not to give up on the series.  To my amazement, the longer I had to wait for Catching Fire  to arrive from the library, the more anxious I became.  Part of it was the fact that I’d been told the final books became far more disturbing and I was worried about what I might find within the pages.  And partly because I needed to know if my suspicions about the book would be confirmed.

I became engrossed immediately, which was a pleasant surprise considering it took me four tries to get into The Hunger Games.  Right around the middle of the book, a big twist is thrown at you.  Not a big shock there!
The ending was a bit too predictable for my liking, and very rushed, but over all I enjoyed the book.  It was fast paced, kept my attention, and yes I lost several hours of sleep over it.
Now on to Mockingjay to finish the series.     

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beware the Pirates!

Is this a beautiful picture of tranquility or what? A steaming cup of coffee and a blank crisp page ready to delve into…absolutely perfect!

If this were my reality I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!

Silence?  What’s that?  My home is usually filled with looting pirates, zooming airplanes sinking an aircraft carrier, T-Rex stalking its prey or some Disney Jr. show in the background.  Not to mention the dishes and laundry calling my name; a nagging reminder that I have responsibilities outside of my writing bubble.

So how do I get any writing done?
Being a mother and a wife, as well as pursuing my dream of being an author, isn’t easy.  Some days it feels downright impossible.  But I have a supportive husband who withholds his frown if the sink is still full when he gets home, or adjusts his schedule so I can make my library writing time.

Writing is far from a solitary effort. Each member of my family gives so that I may write.  I am indebted to their sacrifices so that I might have my shot at making a career out of what I love most.  Writing isn’t just something I enjoy…it’s a passion!
So how do you manage to juggle the necessities of life with your writing goals?   

Credit for photo: nuttakit

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Romance Contest

Calling all romance writers!
Have you dreamed of having your romance novel published?  Do you have a manuscript ready to go?

Boroughs Publishing Group has just announced a February contest just for you.  All of the rules and details are provided at the link below.  Best of luck if you decide to give it a shot!  Let me know how you do.

Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Once a century one person is chosen for greatness. 

She is done being useless.  Better to fight-perhaps die- than to stand idly by.  Her friends won’t hesitate.  Neither will her enemies.  She is the chosen one, and her time has come. 

Book review:
The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a book that jumped out at me while I was browsing the teen new release section at my local library.  The title intrigued me.  The book cover was appealing with its fiery stone encased by brambles.

I immediately wanted to know why the book was named this way.  What is the fire?  How did the thorns come into play?
The book itself started a tad slow to me.  I was hoping for a “jump right into the action” sort of book so this one fell flat for me.  But its unique writing style kept me reading.
The story is about a sixteen year old girl that is chosen by God to serve in some unexplained way.  She is not thin, gorgeous or confident.  Instead, Elisa is an overweight wall flower; a second born princess that is thrust into a destiny that she both fears and dislikes.

Because of the Godstone that she bears in her navel, her life is in great danger.  After being forced into a marriage to the King of a larger realm, Elisa is treated like a child and asked to hide her marriage from the people.  Kidnapped by desert thieves, Elisa soon discovers that the truths she had grown up have been tainted.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, although set in a fantastical setting, feels realistic.  Elisa’s fears are genuine, her rivals hatred and jealousy comes across well and the sorrow that she feels as death surrounds her will tug at your heart.

Overall, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, was an interesting read.  Certainly different from what is on the market today.

Rae Carson was not afraid to kill off major characters during this book.  A couple of which actually annoyed me.  I like authors that are gutsy enough to kill of characters but these deaths felt wrong to me.  Too sudden and too raw for my liking.  You expect a romantic thread to have at least one ounce of satisfaction but this book fell short in that area.

Another thing that frustrated me was how quickly the ending came.  There was a huge build up and then when the actual peak came it was rushed so quickly that I didn’t have time to comprehend what had happened.  What took chapters to build only took a couple paragraphs to complete.
For writing style I loved this book.  Rae Carson did an exceptional job of using several formats of writing styles that flowed beautifully. 

Star rating: 4 out of 5 for writing style and originality.