Sunday, April 29, 2012

Book Review: A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS by Michelle Zink

A Temptation of AngelsA Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A worthy and enthralling read. I loved the atmosphere of Zink's Victorian London setting and the mythic, angelic underbelly. Although wingless, these angels, assigned as Keepers of the Earth and by nature, protectors of humanity, must face a greater evil than they know while tracking down an unknown killer among them.

This is the first angel book I've read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. What a great introduction and a great read. Thank you, Michelle, for writing a compelling and intricate story that tugs the reader along and remains elusive, like smoke at the beginning of each chapter.

I would recommend this to anyone, and appreciate the fact that while it was edgy and sexy, and for Helen, it was surely a temptation to be surrounded by so many choices, there was nothing gratuitous and inappropriate as well. A younger reader could enjoy this as well without concern.

I look forward to the next books in this series (please be more than one), and I am also eager to read the Prophecy of the Sisters series as well. Sorry I am coming late to that party, Michelle. Fortunately, I did come. A lovely story. I can't wait to see where you go next, although I have a few suspicions.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 23, 2012

Month of CINDER Giveaway

I know it's been a while since I've hosted a giveaway on my blog, so I decided it was time to dust off the prize shelf and offer a fantastic prize. In the spirit of the "Month of CINDER" giveaway, hosted by Sarah at THE BOOK LIFE, I am offering a hardback copy of CINDER by Marissa Meyer. To enter, use the rafflecopter widget below.

If you haven't seen the trailer for CINDER yet, or know nothing at all about the short, if you've been hiding under a rock for the last few months, check this out:

I've read and reviewed CINDER on Goodreads a month ago. You can read more about that here. I gave it 5/5 stars. It's an amazing debut and one I anticipate for all the sequel goodness Marissa Meyer can offer us. Don't worry, it's fairly spoiler free. Otherwise, keep scrolling down and enter as many times as you like.

UPDATE: This giveaway is open to international fans, but the prize is in English (US Version).

As for the giveaway, a winner will be randomly chosen once the giveaway has ended, and I will post the results here. In the meantime, feel free to have a look around the blog and comment where you like. Thank you so much for reading, following, commenting and sharing.

Happy reading and Writing!

FINAL UPDATE: Thank you all for taking part in this giveaway. This was my most successful giveaway yet. I had so much fun, I plan to do many more in the near future. So, please stay tuned and keep checking back for new content and new giveaways to enjoy. There are many other giveaways that include CINDER right now, since several bloggers are doing a Fairytale Themed Blog Hop. For those who didn't win, I wish I could give all of you books, but please keep trying. You'll get it!

The winner of CINDER is: Jasmine Rose!

I contacted Jasmine via email and she replied:

I'm so SO excited to own my own copy. I really loved it. Thanks for hosting this awesome contest :]

Jasmine Rose

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Research: Behind the Scenes of Your Novel

I don't know about you, but I do not know everything about everything the way my ten year old claims. As a writer, I write about many things, and some of them require research. I find the research that goes into writing a novel one of the most exciting aspects of novelwriting.

Some things I find myself researching for a WIP are quite mundane and ordinary. This might strike you as odd, but when you're writing about brushing your teeth, or hitching a backpack up on your shoulder, or opening and closing a pocket knife, you might need to practice doing these things before you feel you can adequately write even one sentence about it. Writers do much more than sit in a seat typing or writing away at their manuscripts!

Other things take more research. For my duology, THE PACKING HOUSE and UNPACKING, I have researched recurring nightmares, Rorshach Inkblot tests, how to make a "God's Eye," the smell of WD-40, orange Adventurer vintage tackleboxes, Ford F150 trucks, pony cars, how to break into a school building, seeing a deer up close in the woods, the names of pencil manufacturers, names of presidents (to differentiate the teachers at three different high schools), high school mascots, and many other things. This is by no means an exhaustive list of writerly research. It's just the tip of the pencil, so to speak.

So, what about you? What have you found when you research for your latest WIP? What is the strangest thing you've caught yourself looking up for something you are writing about or for a future MS (manuscript) you plan to write? I've dabbled in steampunk, fairy tales, and ghost stories among other things. I can't let you know all of my secrets!

In the comments below, please share what fun, strange, bizarre, or otherworldly research writing has caused you to bunnytrail on for minutes or hours.

Back to research, reading and writing on my WIP! Happy writing (and researching) to you all!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Writer's Inventory and Self-Assessment

When you write your focus is elsewhere, on your characters, on your plot, perhaps on your pacing. The focus is off of yourself. The only reflective, mirror-like surface the writer sees is the computer screen as he or she writes.

As it should be.

It's hard to look in a mirror. Even more difficult, the writer, at times must take inventory of where they are at and where they are going. Therefore, a self-assessment is a good idea to take stock of what changes may have occurred while writing.

If you've established a writing routine, you may have found a groove where new words find their way from the creative side of the brain onto the page, or the computer screen. As time passes, more words appear, and build up until your manuscript is ready to edit. A shift in focus allows the writer to move from one side of the brain to the other in order to edit and revise. This is the natural order of things necessary to write. Just rinse and repeat.

However, writing is a skill. Skills become more fine-tuned with practice and exercise. For the writer, you might have honed a skill as you wrote the last five chapters of your WIP (Work in Progress). If you don't routinely take inventory of new skills gained, you might miss them altogether.

From: "Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman," by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye


Now it's time for that mirror.

Take it out and give it a good hard look. You might even pull out a microscope, tweezers, a forensics kit or some other means of scrutinizing yourself and your abilities and how they may have changed over the past few days, weeks, months. Writing evolves over time, and those changes come and go when you least expect them.

Learn to expect change. Search for it. Don't give up until you find it.

Then, take notes and apply those changes to yourself. This is how the writer grows. Those are the broad strokes. It might sound too much like a chapter from a textbook, but now it's time to get personal.

Over the past year, I have responded to the seed of an idea that has been gestating in my mind for years, wanting to find its way onto the page. I planted the seed and watered and cared for it over a series of 2-3 months. I finished the first draft of my first novel at approximately 73,000 words.

One word at a time.

Next, came ten different cover to cover revisions, as challenging as rewriting the book ten times over. I won't even mention the innumerable tweaks and edits that didn't receive a separate numeration of revision each time. But, they were a part of this process as well. Even though I cut and cut from my manuscript, I had to add to the plot and characters and flesh out themes and dialogue throughout the WIP. It took me the better part of a year to learn and apply the skills necessary to consider this manuscript ready for submission.

At the current tally, my manuscript clocks in at a healthy 82,000 words.

Then came the time to submit the manuscript to agents, looking for representation. As expected, I received mostly passes or rejections. However, I did receive a handful of partial requests and a couple full requests as well. In fact, I was fortunate to receive an offer to publish my manuscript through a small press. This was a very generous offer. At the time, I thought I was receiving an offer of representation, until I saw the contract from the publisher directly.

This was good and bad. And, it led me to an important realization as I conducted a self-assessment in response to the contract offer. I realized I could self-publish if I wanted to. There are great resources out there for those who want to pursue publication as an indie writer.

It's just not the right fit for me. I won't speak for others and their success. To all of you brave enough to take this route toward your writing goals, I say, "Good for you!" and "More power to you!" I say this with all sincerity.

However, I have concluded that is not the path for me. I am seeking the partnership a writer attains through representation with an agent. I am seeking the traditional route for publication. Will I attain this goal? I can't answer that. My future lies in the words I lay down on the page and in the revisions I go through as I give birth to each manuscript. From there, it is up to the agents to determine if I've got coal or an unfinished diamond. I hope for the latter, and I look for the agent who can help me polish that diamond until all of its facets shine and sparkle with the best qualities of my manuscript.

When that happens, I'll let you know I have attained that important step along the path of my writing goals and dreams. Will you join me?

What are you doing to regularly assess where you are at as a writer? What have you learned about yourself and your goals as writer? How has this informed you to make changes in your writer routines?

Have you found any diamonds lately? I sure hope so! Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Writing!