Saturday, October 30, 2010

Magnitude to be published in Literary House Review!

My short story Magnitude will be published in Literary House Review 2010! It will come out in November. I will keep you guys updated if you want to buy a copy!

I also forgot to post about The Prodigal Daughter being posted at Pond Ripples Magazine in August. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nano 2010 Rebel - The Second Generation

I've decided what to do for Nanowrimo. I'm a rebel, baby! I will update as time goes on.

My goal:
Finish The Second Generation by November 30th. This will consist of about 72 more pages or 4 1/2 16-page POVs. If I average 537 words a page, that's about 38,664 words. Not as much as 50,000, but I don't want to rush this or sacrifice quality, because this novel is awesome right now and I don't want to ruin it. It's not going to be all writing, either. I have some really important things to work out, like the layout and logistics of a village that has a huge role in the story.

Beginning: 74,683 words, 139 pages, in the middle of Natalie's 3rd POV.
10/15/10: 75,258, 140 pages. +575 words total
10/17/10: 80,283, 150 pages, just finished Natalie's POV. +6175 words total
10/22/10: 81,457, 152 pages, beginning Ben's POV - going with a new backstory for Ben and his family. +6774 words total
10/24/10: 83,141, 157 pages. +8458 words total
10/26/10: 86,105, 163 pages. +11,422 words total
10/29/10: 90,596, 171 pages, just finished Ben's POV. +15,913 words total
11/1/10: 91,750, 174 pages, beginning Heath's POV. +1154 words November +17,067 words total
11/2/10: 93,467, 177 pages. +2871 words November +18,784 words total
11/3/10: 95,454, 181 pages. +4858 words November +20,771 words total
11/5/10: 98,716 +8120 words November +24,033 words total
11/6/10: 100,772, 191 pages, finished Heath's POV +10,176 words November +26,089 words total
11/7/10: 103,023, 195 pages +12,427 words November +28,340 words total
11/8/10: 106,065, 200 pages, finished Tracey's? +15,469 words November +31,382 words total
11/9/10: 106,357, 201 pages, revised Tracey's last scene. +15,761 words November +31,674 words total
11/10/10: 110,455, 209 pages - it's finished!! +19,859 words November +35,772 words total

Darkness Be My Friend by John Marsden

Darkness Be My Friend by John Marsden

Hardback, published 1999, 265 pages (the edition I read isn't the one pictured).

The fourth book in the Tomorrow series, Darkness Be My Friend centers around Ellie and her friends. The book starts off in New Zealand, where the protagonists have been for a few months. They're asked to go back to Wirrawee to help with a mission to attack the air field. They're not directly involved with the mission, they're just leading New Zealand soldiers around Wirrawee. Unfortunately, things don't go according to plan.

This series is gradually becoming slower in pace. I know some people don't like it - the first book is action packed, and by this one, there is a lot more retroflection and waiting for things to happen. But I think it's very realistic. These teenagers aren't trained soldiers, they're just teenagers who were in the right (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) place at the time of the invasion. Instead of carrying out missions every few days, they have to rest, think about what they're doing, and try very hard not to be killed.

This book took me a bit longer to read than the last ones, but I'll definitely pick up the next one and eventually finish the series. I'm very involved with the characters, I want to see what happens to them. I wonder if I'm the only one who could see Ellie and Homer eventually getting together. They have pretty strong personalities, and would always be butting heads.

A few things I could learn from this book:

Psychological Effects of War. In The Second Generation, my characters are faced with killing in self-defense, ambiguous enemies, and more. It's not a war setting, but reading this book and The Hunger Games has reminded me that heroes rarely walk away from dangerous, traumatic situations unscathed. Maybe in action movies, but not believable fiction. My female protagonists in The Second Generation and Stones of Cilean go through a lot, and I see Marsden and Collins as great examples.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book/Movie Comparison: Everything Is Illuminated

My first book/movie analysis. For this post, after a brief summary, I'll look at Characters, Setting, Theme, What Was Gained by Film Adaptation, and What Was Lost by Film Adaptation. If this works, I'll just keep this format for the rest, too.

Everything Is Illuminated was written by Jonathan Safran Foer in 2002. The book is divided into two sections.

The first is the story of a young American Jew, Jonathan, traveling to Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life, Augustine. He is led around the country, searching for the shtetl Trachimbrod, by a Ukrainian named Alex and his grandfather. This part is written by Alex and mailed to Jonathan after the journey has ended.

The second section is Jonathan's writings mailed to Alex. It is his fictional account of the history of Trachimbrod. It's very literary and has bits of magical realism.

The movie was released in 2005. It was directed and written by Liev Schreiber. Elijah Wood plays the role of Jonathan, Eugene Hutz Alex, and Boris Leskin Grandfather.

The script only focuses on the story in Ukraine, following their travels around the country in search of Augustine and Trachimbrod.

I really enjoyed the setting in the movie. The beautiful countryside, the ornate buildings, the dingy hotel. During Alex's writing in the book, you don't read too much about the landscape or their surroundings. (I'm definitely not complaining - Alex spends a lot of time on their conversations, making humorous Ukrainian-to-English translation mistakes, thinking about American pop culture, and reflecting on what they learned on their journey.)

Because Jonathan's novel sections are taken out, the movie doesn't explore the fantastical Trachimbrod. That might have been really neat in film, but I'm glad they didn't include this section, the movie would have been quite odd and stilted. So, from here on out, I'll just talk about Alex's section and how it was adapted.

In any film adaptation, you lost a lot of depth. Film is a like an act of spying into the lives of these characters; books look into their minds.

The Jonathan in the book is a writer. In the movie, he's a collector. He spends a lot of time gathering things and putting them in ziploc bags, and in the beginning of the movie, there's a wonderful scene of his room, where the camera spans all the things he's collected connected to his family: movie tickets, handkerchiefs, jewelry. The "writer" role of the book is a way of showing Jonathan's character to us, and the "collector" role of the movie does this same thing. If Jonathan had solely been a writer, the viewers of the film wouldn't have been able to read his words.

Eugene Hutz was great as Alex. He was a funny, endearing character. The only thing I think the movie is missing is Alex's growth as a character.

(Warning: spoilers from here on out!)

At the end of the book, Alex tells his abusive, drunken father to leave and takes the role of the head man in the house. He also learns things about his grandfather and contemplates what it means to be a bad or good person. The journey to Trachimbrod changes him. He even confesses in the end that he doesn't go to nightclubs or become "carnal" with other women, but it was mostly an act. I didn't feel unfulfilled after watching the movie Alex, but I still felt like he wasn't as deep as the book Alex.

Here's a quote from the book that really signifies Alex's growth, from Alex's POV: "The bruises go away, and so does how you hate, and so does the feeling that everything you receive from life is something you have earned."

The grandfather is given a much different backstory in the movie. In the book, the grandfather gives his Jewish best friend over to the Nazis while they are ransacking his village Kolki. In the movie, the grandfather is a Jewish man who escaped the Nazis and stayed in Ukraine by pretending he wasn't Jewish. I think it was an interesting choice. The story in the book broke my heart; I cried the first time I read, and I was even crying in the library as I read it again yesterday. The story in the movie was moving, but I almost felt like it was too simple. The book version was complex, and you knew the grandfather was a good person, but it made you think about the horrors of war and what people will do to save their lives and the lives of their family. I suppose I like the book version a bit more, but again, just because it gives much more depth and growth to the grandfather.

The book had many themes. I think the theme about history and its meaning was definitely the stronger in the movie. Jonathan came all the way from America to search for Augustine. When they do find her, she explains the history of Trachimbrod, and we find out the grandfather's history.

Alex says at the end of the movie in a letter to Jonathan, "I have reflected many times upon our rigid search. It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us, on the inside, looking out. Like you say, inside out. Jonathan, in this way, I will always be along the side of your life. And you will always be along the side of mine."

This echoes Alex's sentiments in the book: "Everything is the way it is because everything was the way it was. Sometimes I feel ensnared in this, as if no matter what I do, what will come has already been fixed."

So much can be lost in film adaptation. Obviously, there was no way to translate the power of the written word to the film. In Alex's letters, it even becomes a point of contention between the two of them. Alex wonders why Jonathan continues to write sad, loveless histories for his relatives when "with writing, we have second chances." That was a powerful part of the book for me, but, of course, it's part of the book.

I regret the growth of Alex and his passionate response to his grandfather's suicide.

The film adaptation was simpler than the book. At times, the book (especially Jonathan's account of Trachimbrod) can be overwhelming or too "out there." The movie took the relationships and basic journey to find Augustine and put it into a beautiful landscape with talented actors. You still have the melancholiness, the love, the humor, the significance in the past.

The movie is definitely in my top 20 movies, and the book is amazing, too. I recommend both in a heartbeat!

What do you think? About the book? The film? The switch from book to movie?

Some links:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's like _____ meets _____!

Inspired by this thread on the Nanowrimo forums (yes, I do spend a lot of time there), I decided to do this for a couple of my projects.

Fill in the blanks:
It's like _________ meets _________! (I can add "in _________" if I want!)

Stones of Cilean
It's like Avatar: the Last Airbender meets The Hunger Games.
(In a world where everyone is gifted with elemental powers, Jennifer and her twin sister are drawn to a rebel organization, exposed to an ancient source of power, and caught up in the war that ensues over the stones of Cilean.)

The Seeker
It's like Lost meets Treasure Island.
(When Dakota joins a team exploring the Bermuda Triangle, she doesn't expect to be transported to an alternate reality where there's a hostile island of people who are blaming them for unstable electromagnetism. But it happens.)

The Second Generation - this is my tentative title for my Thatcher Novel
Honestly, I have no idea. I feel like it's a pretty unique idea, but it has probably been written before. There's nothing new under the sun.
All right, I just read a synopsis of The Host by Stephenie Meyer, and it seems like what's happening on Earth in The Host is a lot like what happened in The Second Generation during the war - the aliens took over human bodies to fight for what they wanted. Interesting!
(When four part-alien young adults are pulled into a power struggle for a refugee city called Thatcher, they grow to love one another, forgive their enemies, and fight society's expectations of them.)

Here are some for other novels I've read:
the Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
It's Neverwhere (by Neil Gaiman) meets Harry Potter.
Serious, when I read Neverwhere, I was like, "holy crap. This is TMI with better writing and older characters!"

The Luxe series (which I haven't yet finished - not a strong desire to, though)
Gossip Girl meets A Great and Terrible Beauty.

That's all I've got for now. Maybe I'll come back and do more later!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Light Raid by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice

Light Raid by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice

Hardback, Published 1989, 229 pages.

Set in a future North America where America is in a civil war. Protagonist Hellene Ariadne was sent to Victoria to escape from the dangers of the war, but she runs home when she has the suspicion that something has happened to her dad. She finds out her house has been destroyed by a light raid, her dad is in shock, and her mom is in jail, arrested for suspicion of sabotaging the war. What follows is an intense thrill ride full of twists and turns.

The book kept me guessing. I wasn't sure whether Ariadne's mom was guilty. I didn't know who to trust. I enjoyed following Ariadne on her journey as she put the pieces together and reacted to everything.

The book went a little too fast. I think that in exchange for the action and fast pace, the authors sacrificed some character development. Ariadne was a very likable character - smart, stubborn, quick-thinking, proactive. But the other characters - her dad, Essex, even Joss - remained one-sided. I like the romance, though.

A few things I could learn from this book:

Setting. I don't know what kind of preparation there was for this setting, but it seemed like they had everything figured out. How HydraCorp worked, the science of the future, the transportation, all of it. I lack this kind of detail in stories that take place anywhere other than our regular earth. At the same time, they just dropped in words like we knew what they were. Of course, I wouldn't want big info dumps or explanations about everything, but a lot of things, I didn't know what they were talking about, and just tried to make up an equivalent. For example, jams? Or those jeans? When I first read the words, I thought of pajamas, but I knew that couldn't be it.

Active vs. Passive Character. Ariadne was taking charge in the first chapter. I knew she was going to be one of those characters who didn't wait around for what she wanted. And I was right; all through the book, she actively does things to move the plot along. I've heard this a lot in writing classes: your character should be proactive, not reactive. I think Ariadne was a good example of this.

If you'd like a quick, fun read, check out Light Raid!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Using the Internet for Good

The internet can be a source of good! This is a post of awesome websites that support charities, literacy, and other good causes. Use them as much as you can! And comment if you know of a good one I left out.

Better World Books is an online book seller. Their mission:
Better World Books collects and sells books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than six million new and used titles in stock, we’re a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders.
I've found that they are usually the same price, if not cheaper than, Amazon, mainly because they offer free shipping within the US. It can take a little longer for the books to arrive (app. 11 days), but for only 99 cents, your item will arrive in 2-6 business days.

Free Rice is a trivia website, and for each right answer you get, the website donates 10 grains of rice to help end world hunger.

GoodSearch is an online search engine. Once you choose a charity, each search you conduct will donate to said charity. There are almost a hundred thousand charities participating ( and you can install toolbars for your browser or make it your default search on Google Chrome. (Here is a list of more charity search engines.) If people used these search engines as much as they used google, they'd change the world!

The Hunger Site is a place - you click, and a cup of food is donated because of your click. According to this website, there are almost 2 billion people hooked up to the internet. If each person clicked on The Hunger Site daily, that would be 2 billion cups of food! On the website, there are lots more links to similar websites.

That's all I have for now, but I'm going to keep looking to find more awesome places to help others through your internet connection!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thatcher Novel

I've read a lot of different places that the novel should have one basic sentence to sum up the plot. I think this might be the best one I've written for this novel:

When four part-alien young adults are pulled into a power struggle for a refugee city called Thatcher, they grow to love one another, forgive their enemies, and fight society's expectations of them.

I am obsessed with this novel right now. I absolutely love the characters. I can't stop thinking about the possibilities. I have actually cried while writing it.

Title Ideas
The Great Beyond
(The) Road/Journey to (for?) Thatcher
The Fight for Thatcher
The Second Generation

Natalie Bandele
- Natalie's guarded and untrusting - but who can blame her? In the past two years, her sister's been sent to prison, her dad's been killed, three guys have tried to kill her, and another girl has tried to turn her and Tracey in. She's reluctant to let Ben and Heath travel to Thatcher with she and Tracey, but they slowly grow on her. Natalie often takes the lead. She's book-smart and a history whiz.

Tracey Saunders - Tracey considers Natalie her only family. Her mom was killed, her dad joined the military, and her brother ran away to Africa. She's reacted to the trauma differently than Natalie, searching out what kind of person she is. She offsets Natalie's reserved nature with warm honesty and a soft sense of humor. She loves music, and she's trying to figure out what she thinks about God.

Heath Parrish (last name may change) - Heath doesn't like staying in one place. He was born and raised in Thatcher, but left at thirteen. He moved in with Ben when he was sixteen, but they've spent the last two years traveling the US. Heath has made a lot of mistakes, some which he refuses to face, others that eat him alive. He's quiet and reflective, and a natural gardener.

Benjamin Long - After growing up in LA, Ben is a bundle of energy. He brings the comedy to the group. He lost both his parents before he and Heath left to travel, and his brother and him don't get along, so he considers Heath like a brother. Ben's ready to settle down in Thatcher for a bit. He's got a quick tongue and a quick mind.

Ah, I just love it! I think I'll go write a bit!


Nanowrimo is a month away. The new forums were launched last night. I've already spent a considerable amount of time dicking (that's Emily-lingo for 'wasting time') around there.

My NaNo history:
2004 - I won with Altair
2005 - Won again with Promising Light
Apparently, I attempted 2007, but I don't even remember my failed novel.
2008 - I got about 3,000 words.
2009 - I devoted to write 50,000 words of an already started novel, Stones of Cilean in motivation to finish it. It may have been considered cheating, but I finished it and won! I also got a proof copy of it: excited picture here.

This year, I may end up doing what I did last year. I'm currently obsessed with my novel about four half-aliens who are caught up in a power struggle over a city called Thatcher. And, as much as I love Nanowrimo, I don't want to step away from this story. If I haven't finished it by November 1st (and I don't think I will, I'm only halfway through - 50,000 words, in fact), I'm just going to count completely NEW words to my word count, whether that's part of this story or the sequel to Stones of Cilean after that. I'm a Nano rebel!

I think I'm going to make a separate post about my story, because, like I said, I'm obsessed with it right now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Best Seller #4

This dream was a little hard to sort out, but I've got the basics of a story down. This couple went through some hard times - a couple miscarriages and separation for a little while - but they get away on a small cruise for what they hope to be a romantic get-away. The boat has an emergency, causing it to land on a mysterious island where they encounter pirates and a past love of the husband. It'll be titled, A Sea of Love.