Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

16068341This is my 100th book review posted to this blog!

The Truth About Alice
By: Jennifer Mathieu
YA Contemporary
Published: June 2014

The book begins with the assertion that Alice Franklin is a slut. The story is told from four different points of view, people who know Alice Franklin, but not Alice herself until the very last chapter. A cool concept that reminded me of Siobhan Vivian's The List.

What the book does brilliantly is shows how quickly rumors spread, and how toxic our culture can be to young women. A credit to the author, each character point of view has value and nuance, even the "bad" people, because we  are shown through their voice why they say and do the things they are doing. Alice is shown at times as a victim, a bully, a mystery, a cool girl, a loner. We see the history of her current friendships and the aftermath of the party that changes everything. And there are a few twists. This reads almost like a mystery, with the mystery being what truly happened to Alice Franklin.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pre-Pitch Wars Critique

Head over to Brenda Drake's blog for my first page critique of a potential Pitch Wars mentee!

For more about the Pitch Wars contest, click here for details.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Ready. Set. Write! #7

Welcome to Ready. Set. WRITE! A summer writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, planning, and keeping each other accountable.

We will share goals on Mondays. You can sign up at any of the host blogs (JaimeAlisonKatyErin). Don't forget to hop around to encourage other participants!

First of all, welcome to my new site design! Thanks goes to Sweetie Baby's Designs for revamping my style. And additional thanks to Leah Simonek Photography for the headshots (another new pic in the About Me page link above).

Last week's goals:
  • Revise 4-6 more chapters of PROJECT THAT NEEDS ALL MY ATTENTION! Yes, about 4 full chapters, but tons of other micro edits that shape this as a stronger story.
  • Read through critique group submissions.Complete
  • Incorporate feedback from critique group Complete (thankful for their comments!)
  • Critique the query and first page I received as a Pitch Wars mentor Complete--check out Brenda Drake's blog this Wednesday for my post
Goals for this week:
  • ALL FOCUS ON THE PROJECT THAT NEEDS ALL MY ATTENTION. These edits need to be done. This is my only writing focus. Re-shape the remaining chapters for consistency with the new edits. Maybe it's a good thing I'm not headed to RWA nationals this week. I'm home writing (and working). My free time will be spent revising.
One phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised:
  • The word "it." No, really. The whole dang manuscript. I've identified a bad writing habit and now know when and when not to use this filler word. 
The biggest challenge I faced this week:
  • Which existing scenes work, which do not. How to re-shape them into the best story.
Something I love about my WIP:
  • My character, the "hero," Liam. Everybody loves Liam. My goal right now is to Add More Liam. But still keep Liam awesome. 
All right, writers. How did you do on your goals?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: Blue Notes by Carrie Lofty

Blue Notes
Carrie Lofty
New Adult Romance
Published: May 2014

This New Adult title hits a lot of the expected genre targets: college setting, a first person narrative, heavy on the romantic tension. If you're a fan of this genre, Blue Notes is a great example.

I have to admit for me though, New Adult is not really my thing. I keep trying out different books in this category, and I tend to like those that straddle the YA line rather than those that read more adult market contemporary romance. Though I do read some contemporary romance, but I feel like those books are structured a little differently, or a little more is going on subplot-wise in those books.




Here's what I really liked:
  • The main character Keeley has a rich backstory that blends well with the current story. It's not one traumatic incident but effects of her childhood in general.
  • Foster parents are shown in a positive light. Having worked in this industry, it was cool to see foster parents and "the system" not as the bad guys. Instead, Keeley has a supportive adoptive family who continues to be present in her life when she's off to college.
  • Genre stereotypes are explored/bent. New Adult tends to have brooding, larger-than-life romantic interests. He's here, but that convention is picked apart a bit by the characters themselves. Keeley and her roommate feel like real people navigating these experiences.
  • The guy isn't the only one who understands Keeley or can help her through things. Her foster mom and roommate play integral roles in her life.
  • The setting: New Orleans and the music scene. Very cool.
If you like New Adult, Lofty is a strong writer. I will definitely check out her other books!





Monday, July 14, 2014

Ready. Set. Write! #6

Welcome to Ready. Set. WRITE! A summer writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, planning, and keeping each other accountable.

We will share goals on Mondays. You can sign up at any of the host blogs (Jaime, Alison, Katy, Erin). Don't forget to hop around to encourage other participants!

Last week's goals:
  • Work through several more chapters of edits. Write one new scene. COMPLETE!
  • Prep a chapter submission for critique group next week COMPLETE!
  • Possibly spend an hour or so plotting Camp Nano novel (the plotting is part of my goal)
  • Finish reading the book I started this weekend NO
  • Have fun with high school and college friends I'll see this coming weekend! COMPLETE!
  • Start strong with the exercise and healthy eating challenge I'm doing with my fitness coach friend YES, I'M ON THE FITNESS TRAIN!
Goals for this week:
  • Revise 4-6 more chapters of PROJECT THAT NEEDS ALL MY ATTENTION! It would be lovely if I finished edits this weekend but let's be real here.
  • Read through critique group submissions.
  • Incorporate feedback from critique group (related to revision project)
  • Critique the query and first page I received as a Pitch Wars mentor (prepping for August's Pitch Wars! See Brenda Drake's blog for query workshops and Pitch Wars details).
After my lovely few days off, I am back to work as soon as I can shake off this pesky day job :)

How are you all doing with your goals this week?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ready. Set. Write! #5

Welcome to Ready. Set. WRITE! A summer writing intensive with the purpose of writing, revising, planning, and keeping each other accountable.

We will share goals on Mondays. You can sign up at any of the host blogs (Jaime, Alison, Katy, Erin). Don't forget to hop around to encourage other participants!

Last week's goals:
  • Tackle re-organization and edits for a different manuscript. I would like to re-craft previously edited-out scenes to add back into the novel (fun, huh?) and check for overall flow and themes related to specific feedback. STARTED AND SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS MADE!
  • Provide feedback on another writer's manuscript excerpt COMPLETE
  • Finish reading 2 current books and start/finish another over the long weekend FINISHED ONE BOOK, READ ANOTHER (Nantucket Blue, so good!), STARTED NEW BOOK
Goals for this week:
  • Work through several more chapters of edits. Write one new scene.
  • Prep a chapter submission for critique group next week
  • Possibly spend an hour or so plotting Camp Nano novel (the plotting is part of my goal)
  • Finish reading the book I started this weekend
  • Have fun with high school and college friends I'll see this coming weekend!
  • Start strong with the exercise and healthy eating challenge I'm doing with my fitness coach friend
Biggest challenge this week:

  • Re-organizing my current project. It's not a full rewrite, it's tweaking and adding back some of what was cut. All of it has a domino effect, so I need to be mindful of every change, that it flows with the rest of the story. Which leads me to this conclusion: any form of rewriting, small or large, is still a lot of work.
How did you do on your goals? OR, did you do anything fun over Fourth of July?

Friday, July 4, 2014

YouTube Friday: Happy 4th of July and Beach Beauty Essentials

Happy Independence Day, Americans! 

To everyone else, happy Friday! (And to the British, we still love you though we rejected your king).

You all know I love Michelle Phan and her make-up tutorials. Here's one of her latests about some new products and taking care of your skin at the beach.