Posts Tagged With: nanowrimo

Series Review: The Lunar Chronicles – (an enthusiastic) 4 of 5

Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and (in 2015) Winter.

There’s a lot to love about this series:

1) Cinder was born of NaNoWriMo (the greatest thing ever for those of you who don’t know about it) and, to my understanding, much of the rest of the books were drafted in November as well.  I have a special place in my heart for NaNo books.

2) While having a core plot throughout, each book focuses on one Bad-A** lady from a fairy tale.  The plot line of her story more-or-less follows the trajectory of the classic tale while holding true to the core, original, plot.  Those are some mad skillz.

3) That original plot I mentioned? It’s creative and interesting and complex without being confusing.

4) The dudes are adorable.

There’s more, but I thing those are really the main highlights.  Yes, it’s YA, and as I’m not a YA myself any longer, there is many times where I can’t stop an eye-roll at some of the young thoughts and emotions that come flying off the page. The key is to let yourself go.  Immerse yourself into what’s happening and you’ll have a great time.

cinder


Cinder is spunky, unique, and manages to stay in line with the traditional ideas of Cinderella – the evil step-mother, the step-sisters, and, of course, that dashing, heart-throbbing prince. What isn’t traditional is that our heroine is a messy mechanic cyborg.  Sha-zam.

Admittedly, because of how well we know the classic fairy tale, it is a bit predictable, but the character development keeps any dull feelings at bay. Meyer does such a  good job of creating each character as an individual. Every character is dynamic – I particularly found the evil step-mother and the Doctor very well designed. There isn’t just one static “this person is good/bad” feel to it.  How is it that, of all the characters, I love the android Iko the best?  That’s good writing.

Oh yeah, and did you know it takes place in future China-ish? Awesome!  It’s the little nuances that really make this first book shine. 

scarlet

Where Cinder was an awkward yet confident, down-trodden yet finding herself, kind of main character, Scarlet takes it all up a notch.  This girl kicks butt left and right and doesn’t break a sweat.  She’s sassy and sweet. Scarlet forms as a great second heroine while somehow not taking the sparkle off Cinder’s own adventures.

Of the three books out right now though, it is my least favorite. It’s a good gateway to the next but it’s also the least believable.  This might get a touch spoiler-y but I had two main issues throughout – the sudden deep but really quite unnerving attraction with Wolf, and Scarlet’s dedication to the grandmother.

Let me explain.  It’s not that I don’t think both of those things aren’t good and important for the book – they are – but the way things shook out were over the top.  I know Wolf is loyal (like a dog, get it, lolz) but the way he constantly threw himself in front of Scarlet got old (mostly because Scarlet is totally able take care of herself).  And – and this will sound calloused – Scarlet’s insistence to sacrifice herself for her grandmother became exasperating. No offense to my grandmother, but I think 99% of reasonable people would realize that a young, vibrant woman shouldn’t risk everything for an already dying old lady. Just saying.  I know we needed that for forward motion but it was insane.

Even with my few irks, Meyer was really able to make the additional characters shine – and be different – from the ones in the previous book.  Our cast is growing without any harm, and that’s wonderful.

I almost forgot – Thorne.  He is hysterical.  Total favorite.  He is this year’s Han Solo.

cress

Now, we have Cress.  She’s the perfect next main character because she’s wonderfully different.  Don’t get me wrong – she’s still a bad-a** with her seriously impressive hacking skills but she’s not going to beat anyone up.  In fact, she’s much more apt to hide in a corner, but that doesn’t mean shes’ a damsel in distress, either.  Meyer has made such a great balance of showing how her ladies need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make them weak.

A lot of things go down in Cress and they are all interesting.  One thing, after reviewing Game of Thrones, is that I do wish I could have believed a little bit more that bad things were actually going to happen. Sure there are cliffhangers and worries and the like but it was hard to ignore the fact that it is a YA book and, despite the dire circumstances, things were obviously going to work themselves out.

So, I maybe didn’t worry as much as I should have, but I still liked what I saw.  Emotions get deep in Cress – there’s insanity, near-fatal and irreparable wounds, deserts, disease, death, maiming, kidnapping, genocide, and the list goes on.  I don’t mean to say it’s depressing through.  How can it be when a character like Thorne is on so many pages?  He’s adorable and  he and Cress are a fantastic duo. Even more, when we do get back to the rest of the group, they still hold true to their own character traits.

Well, except for maybe Wolf.  You know, for being a “big, bad, wolf” he is a sally.  Seriously.  Whimper a little more, why don’t you? Suck it up and get the job done, bro.

*Cough* Anyway, as I was saying, like the rest, the story follows the trajectory of  a fairy tale, this time Rapunzel. The core plot is at the forefront and it’s intense.  Cress is set up beautifully for another book and I’m definitely ready for it.

All in all – a slow clap, high five, jig, and kudos to Marissa Meyer!

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Life of Novels – NaNoWriMo and Me

Oh, hi, friends.

I don’t do the “typical” blog entry here much anymore – and for good reason.  I don’t think you visit my website to know more about me, I think you want to get a good idea of what to, and not to, read.  I hope I’ve been able to provide that so far.

Still, I think this month deserves a bit of a step away from that set-up.  If you know anything about the reading and writing community, you’ve probably heard about NaNoWriMo.  If you know anything about me at all, you probably know that I love NaNoWriMo.

Love is an understatement, actually.  NaNoWriMo has defined me, created me, caused me to grow.  The month of November, for me, is one of challenge and immense satisfaction.  I own my entire self and one of my best friends to NaNoWriMo.  I know it sounds dramatic, but I am who I am because of Chris Baty and his challenge to himself that he decided to share with his friends.

This is my 13th year of NaNoWriMo.  I wrote my first 50,000 word novel in a green three-subject spiral notebook when I was in 8th grade.  I went through two pens. This was before I understood the importance of paragraph breaks.  It was a fantasy novel that quite blatantly stole plot line details from LOTR.  I still love that story. Now I am querying for traditional publication of my 12th novel, the chick lit story called Viva Las Vegas.  In between I have written sci fi, literary, mystery, and plenty of romance.  I’ve loved and hated my novels. I’ve stayed up late, flown to San Francisco, yelled at my husband, lost my work, found my muse, written on pen and paper, written on many computers. I’ve grown each and every time.

There are a lot of haters about NaNoWriMo out there.  I think they hate the hype (I do, too, in a way).  They argue against why someone should purposely write poorly, why they should rush a process, why they should ever encourage “everyone” to write a novel.  Haters gonna hate.  Which is worse – the person who spends 10 years hemming and hawing over a novel that turns out to still be crap, or the person who spurts it out in 30 days, out of breath, cheeks flushed, hands in the air and cheering?  Do we frown and tsk at the person who comes in last during a marathon?  What’s the point of running if you’re not going to be first?  It’s the action of it, the emotion of it, it’s about YOU not the consumer.  This is what NaNoWriMo is.

If Chris Baty had never challenged me to write a novel, would I ever had done it?  Maybe.

Would I have written 13 novels before the age of 25? No.

Would I have 12 instances of pure elation, that feeling of accomplishment, realization of my own power and ability and dedication when I crossed that finish line?  Absolutely not.

Would I ever have had the confidence to work and on a novel for a year and be prepared to publish it?  Maybe someday.

NaNoWriMo provides an escape.  It releases us from a life of confinement.  It tells us that for a while, just for 30 days, we can change our priorities.  Kids, work, partners, grocery shopping ,whatever – it can take a back seat.  For 30 days, if only for 30 days, we can say, “I want to do this for me.”  And it’s a goal that hard, really hard for some (it gets easier, by the way).  It’s a goal that’s achievable.  It’s a goal that is so much better because there is no prize.  There’s no competition against others, only yourself.  It’s beautiful and wonderful and sometimes we even get a beautiful story out of it – which is just icing on the cake.

This month, I’ve been ramping up my duties at work and I’ve been in the height of the process of buying a house. I’m querying a novel, writing in this blog, and spending two hours a day commuting by train (where I don’t write due to usually having to stand).  It’s been hard for me to write, and it has been such a wonderful challenge.  It never once crossed my mind not to participate in NaNoWriMo.  I will do it each and every year.  It’s a part of who I am.  Some years I may not make it – I didn’t in 2004, after all – but I will do it for the rest of my life because without it I wouldn’t be who I am. And you don’t just throw that kind of commitment away.

Now, that being said, I have protagonist who needs to join a reggae band.

11,334/50,000

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Step One: Writing

This may not seem like such an astonishing fact, but the first step to getting published is to write – or so I’ve been told.  So that’s what I’ve been doing recently, actually that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.

I’m one of those born writing individuals.  I still have my notebook with my first story, “The Spooky Man.” It’s about a ghost-like man who somehow owns his own house down the block and gets his jollies by kidnapping children.  You can expect it on the big screen soon.

The first landmark of my progression from casual to more structured writing was the discovery of Reading.com (now, Writing.com).  It’s a wonderful site that promoted the sharing and critique of writing through an online community.  I’m still involved on that site and sport a portfolio that dates all the way back to 2001.  The vast majority of what I have on there is total crap but the website has served as a touchstone for me, a way to get back into a writing community whenever I feel the urge.  I owe a lot of my progression as a writer to the website and recommend it highly.  I’ve learned so much about writing but even more about critiques, self promotion, and thick skin.  Put your stuff on the internet and you’ll learn a lot.

The next, and most significant step in my writing process, has been NaNoWriMo (If you don’t know what this is, discover it. Now. NaNoWriMo.org). My extremely good friend, at the time just an online acquaintance, persuaded me to join in on NaNo four days into November when I was in 8th grade.  It was unreasonably exciting.  I threw myself into writing a story that was miles longer than anything I had ever before created.  What came out I still treasure, horrific as it may be (just to give you an idea, I didn’t yet understand the necessity for quotation marks or paragraphs).  I completed the required 50,000 words on November 28th – plenty of time to spare.

NaNoWriMo, for me, has been a requirement for writing.  This year will be my 13th year dong NaNo and I’ve won every year but one.  I don’t have the problem a lot of other writers seem to, I can actually sit down and write.  I don’t correct myself I don’t get writer’s block, and I am not consumed with the idea of good vs. bad.

I think this it the most crucial step for anyone who wants to get publish.  You aren’t going to get anything sold if you don’t put it on paper first.  A good idea means nothing if you can’t share it.  You’ll hear it time and again from people who are published and love writing – Chris Baty, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Jerry Cleaver, and so many more.

So, I’ve been writing.  On my crusade to get published I’ve chosen my most recent NaNo novel, titled Viva Las Vegas.  It’s a light, chick lit book with hot men and sexy ladies. It was meant to be fluff but I ended up really enjoying it and now it’s evolved into something that, while still full of sexy people, had a bit more heart to it. When I stopped writing it in November I had more or less completed the story.  The last few chapters were more mismatched scenes than a true series of events culminating in a story.  Over the past two weeks I’ve buckled down and gotten serious.  In what has been simultaneously an editing and new writing extravaganza I’ve spent many hours at Starbucks and I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

But, before I can even think about what’s happening next, I need to concentrate on this first, huge step. I need to write something to be published.

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