Summer Bookishness and Other Coolness

Jun 26, 2012

So. Being nine months preggo in a house with no AC except remarkably ineffective window units is turning me into the equivalent of a beached whale, but I'm still alive. :) I've been doing a lot of reading lately since my brain is a bit mushy, and wanted to share the cool books that I've read or am excited to read this summer!

First: Code Name Verity. Oh. My. Gosh. Two girls, a spy and a pilot, one captured and tortured into revealing information to the Nazi''s one of the most compelling, haunting, beautiful reads I've had in a long time. Every time someone asks me for a book rec lately, I tell them about this one. It's actually been out for a while, and I HIGHLY recommend it.

Next: Not Your Average Fairy Tale. My friend Chantele Sedgwick's fun book comes out August first, and I'm excited for this one! It sounds like such a fun read. A guy as a fairy god mother-- doesn't that just make you giddy for the shenanigans that will follow?

And: Crewel. Okay, this one isn't a summer read-- it doesn't come out until October. But I'm SO excited for it. It sounds unique and fascinating, and I've heard great things about it.

And in other coolness this summer, I got to hang out with the awesome Michelle Merrill when she came into town last week! We went to high school together and are crit buddies. It's always fun to hang out with writerly friends!
So, my friends, what books are you looking forward to, or have read recently? Any fun summery plans?

Book Reviews for Writers: The Hollow City by Dan Wells

Jun 12, 2012

So if you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I'm a huge fan of Dan Wells. Not only did he give me awesome feedback as a "boot camp" critique instructor at a conference several years back, but he's a hilarious and nice guy-- and he writes FREAKING AMAZING BOOKS.

And lucky for me, one of my crit partners is his assistant, and I managed to snag and ARC of his next book. So ladies and gents, I give you: The Hollow City.

"Michael Shipman is paranoid schizophrenic; he suffers from hallucinations, delusions, and complex fantasies of persecution and horror. That’s bad enough. But what can he do when some of the monsters he sees turn out to be real?

Who can you trust if you can't even trust yourself? The Hollow City is a mesmerizing journey into madness, where the greatest enemy of all is your own mind."

I read the entire thing in one sitting. I mean, did you read that cover copy with that brilliant premise? How could I not keep reading? The murder mystery angle gives the story a familiar base to start from, and from there it twists off into one of the freshest reads I've had in a while. Dan has a real talent for taking slightly twisted characters (like John Cleaver in I Am Not a Serial Killer) and making them sympathetic and engaging. Michael, the main character, was one of the most brilliant unreliable narrators I've ever read-- and one that I loved. I spent half the book questioning what was real, and the other half of the book constantly going OH MY GOSH, WHAT?? Seriously, people, I cannot recommend this book enough.

And now for the writing lesson from this. I saw Dan at the Storymakers conference back in May, and told him how much I loved the book. He laughed and said he was glad to hear it. He said he loved it, but knew it was kind of a weird book, so he wasn't sure how people were going to respond to it. It does have some weird stuff going on, but this book completely blew my mind with its engaging premise, twisty plot, and brilliant characters. It made me wonder, what if Dan had decided at some point that the book was just too weird, and despite how cool he thought it was, he didn't write it?

This is why I think it's important to write what you love. Maybe it's weird. Maybe it's not trendy right now. Maybe it's an odd mash-up of genre's that make it hard to classify. WRITE IT ANYWAY. When you write what you love, that's when you pour all your passion and brilliance into a story that can be incredible. And that's what will make people love it.

So, my friends, I leave you with two bits of advice. 1. Write what you love, and do it brilliantly. And 2. Read The Hollow City-- it comes out July 3rd. (And to whet your appetite in the meantime, you can check out his ebook A Night of Blacker Darkness, a horror farce.)

Good News Tuesday

Jun 5, 2012

So folks, here's the deal. What with having a baby next month, finishing edits and getting ready to query, and a busy summer, I'm not going to be here much. I already haven't been around much, and I miss reading ya'll's blogs and seeing how you are. I'll try and stop by and say hi when I can, and post here once a week, but until August is up, I can make no promises.

Today, though, I've got some good news to share! First, one of my critique partners, Chersti Nieveen, just got an agent! I'm so excited for her and so glad I can finally share the news. She's repped by Nicole Rescinti, and I can't wait to see what happens with her amazing book. Feel free to hop over and tell her congrats. :)

Second: I'm *this close* to being done with my own book. I finished major revisions and even my line edits, and now am working on a few more tweaks from a final critique. Querying shall begin soon!!

Third: I finally settled on what book to write next. It's a brand new idea mixed with a few old ones, and I'm super excited about it. I'm also terrified of it. It's going to be challenging to write-- I'm doing dual first-person POV in present tense. I swore I was never going to do either of those things, but it's really the only way to tell this story, and it should work well (provided I can pull it off). Also, there are some deep, horrible, complicated, emotional, and personal things in this one. I'm a little afraid of some of the subject matter. I think the fear is a good thing, though. It means this story has a lot of meaning to me, which will hopefully make it more powerful.

So, my friends, what's going on in your neck of the woods? Do you have good news to share?

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