A Little Bit of Chaos

I am a planner. I like to have everything laid out, decided in advanced, researched to the extreme. Scheduled.  I double check everything. Then I triple check.

But I am also a pantser. Having created my Slow Loris Conservation presentation for class – having planned out what I was going to say for each slide – when it came time to present I ignored my plans completely. I mean, sure, I hit all the same points, in mostly the same order, but it was TOTALLY DIFFERENT from what I had practiced.

When I joined the Saucy Ink group, I dreamed up plots for my story. Once I had one I was happy with, I outlined. Down to almost the very last detail.

Then I started writing. And ignored my outline completely.

I don’t mean “sort-of” ignored, like I still hit the basic plot points but maybe in one place they did something a little different. I mean ignored almost entirely.

Things the original outline had in common with the first draft of the story: A female protagonist. A male protagonist. A plot that needed to be stopped (it was a different plot, though).

A.k.a. not a whole lot.

So what have I learned from these experiences? Well, I know I need to plan. I also know I need to make less detailed plans than my brain thinks I need. Because I know that if I get too detailed, I will deviate. Entirely. And while my novel will probably follow a bit closer to the outline than “The Water-Witch” did, mostly because I feel better about its nascent plot than I did about my story’s, there will be variation. There will be exploration. There will be a little bit of chaos.

And I’m telling you this because….it was a realization integral to my decision to start writing Princess. I have a decent foundation, which I will expand on as I go. Yes, worldbuilding-as-I-go… usually not a good strategy, but for me it works. I come up with my best ideas in the middle of sentences.

It will likely lead to a fair amount of rewriting. That’s okay. I’m fine with it, because that’s actually the way I work best. Get something down on paper, then go and fix it.

I’ve got a slightly-more-detailed-than-basic, scene-by-scene plot outline. I’ve nailed down the magic system. I have a good grasp on some relevant areas of backstory. Now it’s time to write.

Eclectic Reader Challenge New Adult: Dark Light of Day

I did some waffling as to whether I was going to call this my NA book or not. The majority  of NA books out there seem to be contemporary romances, but with slightly younger protagonists. However, New Adult is like Young Adultit’s an age category, not a genre. Just like a book can be YA distopian, or YA fantasy, a book can be NA paranormal romance or NA science fiction or NA post-Armageddon demon lawyers. And yes, the point of the challenge is to lead me to genres I don’t normally read. But I know for a fact that I’m not interested in 90% of the contemporary books out there so I’ll stick with demons, thanks!

4 stars.

Armageddon is hundreds of years in the past, and yet life goes on. The Host – the females with waxing, healing magic and the males with waning, destructive magic – control the demons; the Hyrke (humans without magic) adore them.

Noon Onyx and her brother Night are anomalies – twins whose magic seems to have been switched in the womb. Noon enrolls at St. Lucifer’s to become a demon lawyer, although secretly she wants nothing more than to reverse her magic. Noon’s struggles to accept who she is and learn to control her magic are interwoven with a mystery surrounding disappearing healers and her best friend’s quest to find a magic-reversal spell.

I thought the concept was extraordinarily unique, and despite there being an overwhelming amount of information in the first few chapters I followed along okay and the book quickly hits its stride. I reached a certain point perhaps 2/3 of the way through where I was no longer able to put the book down. In fact, I stayed up far too late to finish it!

I also enjoyed the romance subplot. While there were two potential love interests in the book there wasn’t really a love triangle. I loved reading about the progression of a single relationship rather than a which-boy-should-I-choose situation. (And I knew Peter was a jerk from the beginning. Actually, I didn’t quite understand why Noon ever liked him. I mean, I can hypothesize all sorts of reasons but the way he came across in the text was inherently unlikeable.)

The major theme of the book -accepting yourself for who you are rather than trying to change- was  skillfully woven through the whole novel without ever being too blunt or too trite.

Though the conclusions is satisfying, enough loose threads are left to leave me wanting more. I’m eager to read more of Noon’s and Ari’s adventures.

Eclectic Reader Challenge Urban Fantasy: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

3.5 stars.

Ilona Andrews absolutely has a talent for worldbuilding. It’s the greatest strength of Magic Bites, the ability Andrews have to put a new spin on tired tropes.

I loved her treatment of vampires, having them be 1. Evil, nonsparkly monsters and 2. Bloodthirsty brutes controlled by necromancers. She was creative with the shapeshifters as well, having were-rats and were-bears and were-felines along with the wolves. I liked having an intermediate form as well as man and beast, which harkens back to traditional werewolf legends. And I thought the idea of both wereanimals, infected humans, and animal-weres, infected animals, to be borderline genius.

The whole magic/tech situation was really interesting, if not really explained. I’d like to see it affect the main story more, become an important plot point, something like that. The Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid was an interesting concept. All in all, the backdrop to the story is rich and fascinating.

It’s in the substance of the story where Magic Bites falls a little short. For the most part the plot is fine, suspenseful and quick-moving, but nothing that struck me as exceptional. Two issues presented themselves. One, I though the fake-out big bad came out of nowhere. I don’t mind the idea of having a big battle with an enemy who’s not the true enemy, but I had almost no context for her and it felt sort of random.

SPOILER

I also hated the Crest-as-the-Upir thing. It was NOT KATE’S IDEA, and yet she gets the blame (and she blames herself) when Crest turns out to be human. Stupid. Irritating.

END SPOILER

Obviously Kate and Curran are being set up to eventually become a couple, but I have to say there were lots of places where Curran really got on my nerves. Maybe the sequels will win me over but every time he did something to redeem himself in my eyes he followed it up with something entirely aggravating. Yes, he’s an alpha, and that’s going to make him behave a certain way. But sometimes I really felt like smacking him.

I’m interested enough to read the sequels, although I much prefer Ilona Andrews’ web serial Clean Sweep to Magic Bites. Just as much inventive worldbuilidng, a much more engaging plot, and a slightly less irritating alpha-male.

Review: Hunting by Andrea Host

I’m still getting the hang of writing reviews, so this is less a proper review and more my ramblings on the book.

Also posted on Goodreads.

I would rate it 4.5 stars if I could, but I enjoyed myself so much reading this book that I’m rounding up instead of down.

I bought Hunting on sale ($0.99) and it was more than worth the money. The world is inventive and feels fresh, the characters are generally well written, and the dialogue is funny.

I have a few quibbles with the book, one being that the motivations of the antagonists feel a bit murky to me, even after finishing. I don’t quite follow the logic – and that’s even more frustrating because I feel like it could all make sense if there was just a little more book to explore it. The ultimate antagonist was never really defeated, and if that avenue was just explored a little more…

The romance between the two main characters felt a bit rushed, again, something that could easily have been fixed with just a couple more chapters of angst.

Because the world/political system/religion was complex and unique I wanted a little bit more explanation. I muddled through and mostly got it by the end, but I would have liked to be clearer from the beginning.

It also just felt too short to me.  I finished the book wanting more.

Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed Hunting and will certainly seek out more of Ms. Host’s work

Who’s talking?

I don’t have anything profound to share today (then again, when do I ever say anything profound?). I think tomorrow or whenever next I blog I will talk about rereading books, and revisiting books with a new perspective. But for now, I will just say that unattributed dialogue is a serious pain.

I’m currently reading Plato’s Republic for a class. No, I’m not the kind of person who reads Plato for fun. I’m writing novels about princesses, for goodness’ sakes! I’m much more likely to pick up a book with a dragon on the cover.

But I digress.

The Republic is actually a fairly engaging book, as “serious” books go, and I find myself getting rather drawn in to the dialogue. Then I discover that I’ve read four pages and no longer have any idea who’s speaking. The book is almost exclusively dialogue, with few attributions and no quotation marks. It gets rather difficult at time to keep track of who is saying what.

I find myself with a new appreciation for dialogue tags and quotation marks and all those wonderful conventions of our time. Yes, grammar and punctuation rules require effort to learn. But they pay off a thousandfold when your reader can effortlessly understand your meaning, without having to backtrack to remember who is speaking.

P.S. An aside: This is actually the basis for a very important plot point in one of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next novels (I forget which one…the second, maybe?) I’m not going to spoil it, but just say that I highly recommend the series to any avid reader or writer. They are engaging, witty, clever, and contain many inside jokes for those of a literary bent.

NaNo 2011 Day … 7? Also, more books!

One week, wow.

I broke 10k, but I’m running out of steam! Need some inspiration. Anybody have any brilliant ideas?

In other news, THEY HAD MISTBORN AT BARNES AND NOBLE. This is a Very Big Deal. Here’s the short version of the story:

-Checked the first one out of the library after reading Warbreaker and deciding I kinda liked this Brandon Sanderson guy.
-Adored it.
Became obsessed with the aforementioned Brandon Sanderson guy.
-Requested the second in the series from the library.
-Waited for months.
-Still waiting.

And the last time I was in a Barnes and Noble they didn’t have anything by him. I checked. Multiple times.

So yesterday when I was in Barnes and Noble (for a preview Nutcracker performance) and I was walking by the F/SF section which is conveniently right next to the event space, and saw ALL THREE Mistborn books and OH YEAH A BOX SET I just about died. They also had Warbreaker, and Elantris (which I haven’t read yet but want to) and a whole bunch of other authors and books which I REALLY want and I almost cried because I just can’t spend that much on books and besides, I have nowhere to put them.

And finally, in more superdeduper exciting news I won an All Hallow’s Read contest at Tor! Yay! So I get two copies of The Monster’s Corner, which is a collection of short stories from the monsters’ points of view. Still deciding who gets the extra copy…:)

Choose Your Own Adventure

I always thought those kinds of books were rather stupid, while at the same time really wanting to read one.
 
But that’s not really the point of this post. Remember this post where I mentioned a series of blog posts about NaNo? No, probably not…anyway, looking around the rest of that site, I discovered that the Author was in the process of writing Choose, which the author calls an “interactive web serial”.

It’s not so much a choose-your-own-adventure as it is an interesting, well-written story developed with the input of the readers. Basically the author, one Tami Moore, writes until she feels there is an important (or not-so-important; once the poll had to do with tea flavors) choice to be made regarding the narrative, at which point she posts a poll. The readers then vote and the winning option is included in the story.

Aside from the fact that you have to wait two weeks between installments – and yes, I understand that time is necessary! Things have to be written and edited! It’s hard! But readers are by nature impatient creatures, or at least I am – it’s a really engaging story and you should all go read it now.

In other news I’m currently working on two stories for the princess contest I mentioned in my last post (are there enough links in this post yet?) because I can’t decide which one to use yet. One is a new idea about a princess whose kingdom is in the midst of a military coup pretending to be bringing democracy and her entire family has been slaughtered and she’s running for her life. Not sure where that’s going yet. The other one is an idea that’s been on my list for a while, about a girl who kisses a frog prince and then discovers that he’s not the only one under a spell…I think that’s what I’m going to use for this year’s NaNo, regardless of what happens with the princess contest.

Alright, I’m going to wrap up this post now. In summary: Choose is really good go read it; I did a lot of writing today; I’m starting to think about NaNo and it’s got me really excited.

Oh, and this post is full of run-on sentences with too many clauses, but I seem to be in that kind of mood today.

Oh, I also just tagged this post with 10001 different things.