Monday, January 25, 2010

Profanity, Obscenity, and General Indecorum

It has been brought to my attention that there are readers who may be offended by the language in this book, and so this is what I'm addressing tonight.

There are a lot of different characters in this story, and while two of them in particular are very set AGAINST using curse words (in fact, I don't think the Aunts even like to say 'Oh my God'), a few of them use certain expletives casually. Most of these are in contexts such as this:

Phyllis confronts a bully, saying "..leave me the fuck alone." Yeah, it's harsh, but it's generally what people of the bullying demographic understand the best.

Quincy says "Oh shit, I'm late for work!" Quincy habitually uses expletives this way, as do many, EXCEPT for when he's around the Aunts.

Sid says "It's damn hard not to screw up in front of a crowd." Sid swears once in a while (Phyllis and Sid even discuss it later on) for emphasis, generally.

The word "fuck" appears several times in the book, and is generally used in anger or frustration (and a couple times by characters who are supposed to be "bad guys"). I completely understand being offended by expletives, and feeling that such language is "inappropriate." But the truth is, swearing's become a part of American culture. You can't sit through most movies without hearing swear words.

Yes, if my book were a movie, it would be RATED R.

You might ask, how then can it be appropriate for something who is under 17?

Look. If you've ever been to a public (or Catholic) high school, you've probably heard countless swear words, in halls, in buses, at lunch tables. And that's also where some of the swearing takes place in this book. Phyllis's friend Key swears an awful lot, and so do the jocks in the jock scene. In high school, you're going to hear about other people having sex, you're going to hear people being called horrible names; you're going to hear CURSE WORDS. It's apparently become a part of the human condition. No, it's not necessary. But it's true. And ESPECIALLY in portraying life in a high school, I was concerned with portraying the TRUTH.

The truth is guys call other guys faggots. Whore and slut are thrown around. Girls call each other bitches. And the F-Bomb is used in every possible way. The weirdest one is "ass." A lot of people like adding "ass" to the ends of adjectives. "A little-ass kid," "a pretty-ass girl" and such. It's true. In some parts of life (and high school, and town) you're going to hear curse words on a regular basis.

Now, Phyllis's house isn't supposed to be like that. Phyllis's Aunts are religious, they're pretty morally tight, I'd say. Phyllis isn't allowed swear- so when something goes wrong in her mind, she does it there. Not a lot, but it does happen.

The other instances where heavy cussing occurs are arguments. Anna the Opera Singer and Sid get into a couple of big fights, and even the Aunts can't get them to tone it down. These are two characters with volatile, uncontrollable tempers, and oftentimes when one is very angry and has little time to compose oneself, swear words are the quickest, easiest way to make one's point. In the heat of an argument people say things they regret, and may even do it using expletives.

I'm not a person who goes around swearing. I don't walk out of the house in the morning and yell out "FUCK" as soon as I see someone. But I acknowledge that some people swear heavily, that there are particular uses and times for particular words, and that sometimes, things just fly out. None of the main characters of my book's family are supposed to be trashy or utterly offensive (not in this book anyway).

I also acknowledge that there are those who find that sort of language to be inappropriate and classless. And, sure, sometimes it is. But it's a part of life, especially for most high school students. My little brother started hearing swear words on the bus in fifth grade. My younger friends assure me that they hear all kinds of bad words in school, whether they're in high school or junior high. And I did, too.

So my apologies to those who are offended by the language in the book, but it used only for purposes of personification, amusement, emphasis...you get the idea. I urge readers (and this is not only in the case of my book) NOT to let language that you disapprove of get in the way of reading or hearing a good story. There are plenty of classics that are chockfull of expletives, and plenty of best-sellers and appreciated works that include them as well. Certainly the way I use them in my book are not always the most intelligent, and it's completely up to reader discretion to decide whether or not to read books and to reason why. I don't read certain books for little to no reason at all, sometime.

While I'm on this subject-
There are also discussions of what some may consider "inappropriate" subjects, such as homosexuality, drugs (in the context of a renter who needs to be kicked out), sexuality, and loss of virginity. All of which, also, you're going to hear about in a public high school.

So, in conclusion, this book is RATED R for language and discussion of mature subjects.

Oh, and don't think that I think there has to be swearing in books. A good book is a good book, swearing or no swearing. That is my stance.

And in other news, check out Amber Skye the Reading Addict's blog! She was kind enough to interview me and post it there!
http://addicted2reading4evr.blogspot.com/

Also, soon I'll be posting a follow-up for "The Eternal Ones."

Thanks for following, Emma! New goal is 28!

Buncha Stuff

Thank you Lindsay for becoming my nineteenth follower! New goal: 20.
Whoa. THERE'S a big number.

So it has come to my attention that not everyone may be comfortable reading certain parts of this book. I'll be posting a little "rated R" disclaimer tonight.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Interview, and The Eternal Ones

I thought it might be time for another post, and I wanted to mention that Amber Skye, the Reading Addict, has been nice enough to do an interview with me. Here's a link to her blog:

http://addicted2reading4evr.blogspot.com/

The interview will be posted pretty soon within the week. Thanks Amber!

For the rest of the post, I'm going to stop talking about my book and me, because the book I'm reading right now is far too amazing to be ignored.

"The Eternal Ones" by Kirsten Miller, one of my favorite authors, arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, but I didn't start it until this evening. I couldn't stop reading. I finally did, once I'd finished Part One, because otherwise I just would have been up all night.

The book is about Haven Moore, a 17-year-old who lives in the god-fearing town of Snope City, Tennessee. Haven's had visions of her past life since she can remember, and while her late father embraced her visions, her grandmother believes that Haven is being possessed by a demon. So Haven's been trying to ignore them and stave them off for most of her life.

Haven and her best friend, Beau, are already outcasts of the town when Haven sees a familiar face on TV that brings her past life memories back full-force. As time goes on Haven realizes she can't leave her past behind, and though the town is beginning to turn against her, she is drawn further and further into her memories. Finally, Haven knows she must leave in order to find Ethan, her past love. After a confrontation with Beau and with the citizens of Snope City turned against her, Haven boards a train to New York. She does this in hopes to find the secret society that might be able to help her, and the man who may or may not be her soul mate.

That's as far as I've gotten, but let me tell you, this book will draw you in. The pace is excellent and the story is gripping. The book will be released in August, and I highly recommend it (along with Miller's Kiki Strike series).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

TRAILER

Hey, I made a teeny tiny trailer that's hard to read and very short and doesn't say a whole lot. But, it is a book trailer nonetheless! Check it out!

video

If anyone wants to post this video, I can send it to you. I doubt the one on youtube still has its audio track by now.

Reading Addict Amber Skye was awesome enough to post the trailer and the book on her blog, http://addicted2reading4evr.blogspot.com/. Thanks Amber!

Thank you DL, you are my eighteenth follower! New goal: nineteen.

Quincy and Taylor



I'm no artist, but I found these in a sketchbook from a couple of years ago. They're drawings of Quincy Herman Smith and Taylor Venchak. Quincy is gay and one of Phyllis's best friends in the house, and Taylor is Phyllis's best friend, whom she meets just before starting high school. They're not like, good drawings, they're pretty cartoon-y, but they might give you an idea of what's in my head when I'm writing them. Except, apparently Taylor has no skin? I'm thinking I just didn't have time to color her in. Trust me, in my mind she looks a lot different...and has skin.

As far as features go, though, Quincy's pretty spot on. I always picture him in red and gold for some reason, and he has just enough thick, dark hair for a little ponytail. His facial hair might be a bit neater than it is in this drawing, though.
Oh, and both of his eyes are probably the same size...facial features are more proportional...etc..
I figure it's time to write a new post, but I want to start this one by saying that I AM A DEBUT YA AUTHOR, and FEEL FREE TO CONSIDER MY NOVEL if you are taking part in The Story Siren's awesome debut author challenge.

So pretty soon, I head back to college. This winter break has been a little like one really super long weekend. I spent most of it sleeping, driving, seeing people, and on the internet. It was quite fun, actually.
One might think that heading back to college may actually cut into my blogging and emailing time, but if we're totally honest here, if I'm anything like I've always ever been, ever, then homework is going to end up taking the backseat. Who knows, maybe I'll suddenly change into an organized, efficient student instead of one who scrambles at the last minute.
I think not, though.

Anyway, the one thing I will NOT be able to do at school is mail out more books, to bloggers or otherwise. So after this Saturday there will be no more books mailed out until March 15th. Unless I go to Santiago, but the future of that trip is looking bleak.

Here are some things I'm planning to do in the blog's near future:
-start posting discussion questions
-start posting amazon/goodreads links
-start posting links to reviews on other blogs
-maybe some book reviews of my own
-more discussions and excerpts about the book
-character profiles

And here are some for the distant future:
-deleted scenes
-new ideas
-upcoming work
-trailer (still working on ideas for that one)

I would love to make a trailer, but I probably won't be able to really brainstorm and do it until summer. Unless I have something REALLY important to study for and need to procrastinate. :)

I've really enjoyed blogging thus far, especially some of the great blogs I've come across. I really appreciate the bloggers who are taking the time to read my book and review it.

I'm thinking my next post is going to be about Sid. I'm not sure how people are going to feel about him, but that's the fun of it.

Thanks Judy! You're Fourteen! Newest goal: fifteen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Debut Author Challenge: My Book

I'm well-aware that this is quite tacky of me, but I think I've mentioned that I'm willing to go quite far to get word out about this book.
I've seen The Story Siren's 2010 Debut Author challenge, on her blog and several others, and I would like to make it known that I'm willing to try and get copies of my book out to readers who want to try out my book for this challenge. (I've also said so in a couple of blog comments.)
So on the off-chance that someone comes to this blog looking to find out about the book, read the description, leave a comment and we'll talk.
And excuse my terrible business etiquette.

Thank you cynthial11, you are my thirteenth follower! Newest goal is fourteen!

Reading Discussions and Books

The director of my local library was nice enough to meet with me and offer some advice.
Among her many helpful suggestions was that I make some reading discussion questions for the book, so I think I'm going to try and come up with some before I go back to school. Goodness, but that's soon...

I'll probably post the questions or at least a link to them on the side of the blog, and on the book's Facebook fanpage. I'm looking forward to making these, because I think that people can find a TON to talk about when it comes to this book. Whether you like it or hate it, you'll be able to find something to rant about. There are controversial subjects, there's a whole lot about high school, about stereotypes, movies, books. Well, there's really only one scene that goes into books, but it's a fun scene. It's between Phyllis, the main character, and her best friend, Taylor. Phyllis isn't a big reader; she's far more musical (which I wish I could be). But Taylor LOVES to read. One wall of her bedroom is a bookshelf. She'll read anything. In fact, maybe she should have a book blog...

While Taylor will read anything, she won't buy just any book. Because, first of all, who has the money for that? Secondly, there are rules that apply. Time for an excerpt! (At this rate, I'm going to just end up posting the whole book.)

Jesse played his music loud (nothing wrong with that) so that we had to yell to each other.
“Can we go to the bookstore first?” Taylor shouted.
“Which one?” Jesse yelled.
“The bigger one!”
“Barnes and Nobles!” Key told him loudly.
“There’s only one Noble! It’s Barnes and Noble!” Taylor screeched.
“Whatever!” Key yelled.
“She’s right though,” Jesse told her. He had to tell her twice, practically shrieking the second time.
“So can we go there?” Taylor demanded.
“Yes!” Jesse shouted.
“Thank you!” Taylor screamed.
So, upon arrival, the four of us headed straight for Barnes and Noble. Jesse and Key went to look at CDs and DVDs. Taylor and I wandered about aimlessly.
Looking over the books, I didn’t spy anything tempting. I usually get books at the library or for Christmas, a habit started long ago when I was saving money for a keyboard. Now I was saving for a car.
First I just had to learn to drive.
Unlike me, Taylor was a book addict, and had something to say about every book she saw. She picked one off a shelf. “Phyllis, this author calls himself F. Paul Wilson. What do you think his friends call him. F? or F. Paul?”
“F. Paul, time for dinner!" I giggled.
“I wonder what the F. stands for.” Taylor put the book back.
“You know,” she said, “there are certain books I can’t buy. It’s not that the books are bad; some of them are probably really good. I’m just a bigot.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Bigot?”
“About books.”
“I thought you’d read anything.”
“Oh I would. I just don’t buy anything.” She looked around and pointed to a book on a bestseller table. It looked like one of those action/romance/murder type deals. “Look at this author. She’s the reason I can’t buy her book.”
“She looks like your mom.”
“Yes she does. And my mom would never—” Taylor scanned the book info “—never ever write a book like this.” She replaced the book, looked around for another. “And this one,” she said after she’d read the back. “This one is about a girl, narrated by a girl. But a man wrote it.”
“Doesn’t Stephen King do that? And Harry Potter?” God forgive me, but I’d never read a Stephen King or Harry Potter book. I don’t have enough patience and energy for all the pages. And I’ve decided my life is weird enough as it is.
“They’re different.”
“How’s that?”
“Stephen King switches.” She grinned. “And my mother abhors him. I just bought his books in the first place to piss her off.” She held up a defensive hand. “But I do read them. And Harry Potter is too good to apply stupid rules to.”
I pulled out a Janet Evanovich book. “What about her?”
“Her main character’s hilarious. But I get pissed because she eats donuts and cake all throughout the books, and she’s still being...sought after by guys.”
“She probably works out.”
“It never says she does.”
“Well I don’t tell everyone whenever I go for a walk or eat something less fattening than usual, but I still do.”
Taylor snorted. “If you got fat it’d probably just go to your chest.”
“You’re lucky I don’t say anything bad about you skinny people.”
She laughed. Taylor and I understood each other.
Taylor didn’t buy any books in the end, but Jesse got another loud CD.


I know I can get pretty discriminant when I'm looking for books to buy, which doesn't make much sense. I should be willing to try anything. I can't really describe what it is that draws me to books. New books, that is. If I see a new book by a favorite author, I'll buy it, of course. I'm dying to read Tangled by Carolyn Mackler, because I love her books. I have such a long list of books I already have to read, though! I can't imagine being a full-time book reviewer, I read far too slowly and lazily and I'm completely unorganized. I've been reading the same book all winter, with others in between. I guess I have trouble focusing. You might be able to tell from the direction of some of these posts...

Oh, but for those who are interested, I've been reading a book called "The Beekeeper's Apprentice." It's a new take on Sherlock Holmes- he's older, retired, and takes on a brand new sidekick. Her name is Mary Russell, and she's his match for brains and biting wit. She finds him when she's 15 and almost trips over him in a field. Great book. I keep reading and from case to case it just keeps getting better.

That book has reading discussion questions in the back (as do many others) so perhaps I'll look to them for guidelines when forming my own. I'm not sure if I want mine to be quite like others, though. I want some that'll cause huge arguments and scientific debates!

I'll probably start working on them tonight, and I'll post them for consideration as I think of them. I'm thinking I'll go for 10-15.

Also, thank you to my new followers! Like I said before, I'll work on getting you guys some company! My new goal is ten!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

People/Books/Shiver

I read a little more of Shiver at the library, and I have to say, I've decided I don't have a big problem with Grace just yet. I only got a little over 100 pages in, but I haven't gotten to a point where I've started thinking anything about the character implies misogyny. She hasn't gotten on my nerves either- I like her attitude towards a lot of things, she isn't as passive as I was expecting (though I sometimes wish she would take her parents and shake them, I know I want to). In fact, she's pretty good at taking charge. And she's funny!
Obviously I'm going to have to actually finish the book before I can make my final decision, but she isn't getting on my nerves (and neither is Sam).

Last night, or actually, this morning, as I was falling asleep, I started assembling a list of things I like and don't like in books and characters and significant others. I know, it's a little odd for me to be thinking about all of those things at the same time, but given the circumstances it made sense. All I've been doing for the last two weeks (and I am so grateful!) is talking about books and seeing my family and friends. And, just as we all know what we like and don't like in books and movies, even pieces of art, we have to know what we like and dislike in people, or we could go horribly wrong in life.

These lists sometimes overlap, too, but I'm not going to go into some sort of heavy description of that because I don't want to put implications about my life in here. But there are a few things I CAN say. I LOVE funny people- my friends are generally the people who can make me laugh. Lo and behold, I love funny books! And I try to write funny scenes as well.
What I have noticed is that it can be really hard for me to find books that really make me laugh, so when I do, I remember them. For instance, last year I read "The Breakup Bible" by Melissa Kantor, and I can still remember how much it made me laugh, even though parts of it were really serious. Good book, that one.

What is the point of this? What does it have to do with "Shiver"? Well, Grace seems like someone I could be friends with. She doesn't seem like she looks at her peers with the same sort of condescension that I get from the Twilight books. Also, at some point maybe I'll make my pro/con book list an entry in here.

The Library

Today I get to journey to the library to visit the mom and to deliver a copy of my book to my friend Mahogany, who's going to READ my book. Mahogany became a good friend when I got her to talk about Twilight in this documentary trailer I made when I was a film major (shakes head). Anyway, she did a good job, very strong opinions on that one. Even as a big fan of the books she was able to criticize them (mostly Bella...) and so I'm hoping that she'll be able to do that for my book. Er...sort of. I think she'll be able to tell me where I went terribly wrong (aside from typos) and it won't be a quite as much of a punch in the gut coming from her.
So far, I've only gotten small criticisms, and I haven't spoken extensively with all of those who have read the book. The ones I got from my mom were more personal, being uncomfortable reading about premarital sex when I'VE written it, the use of certain names, etc. One friend of mine thought that Sid was a little too sketchy times, which, honestly, was kind of what I intended. Yeah I know, in some ways I'm no better, but Sid isn't a misogynist! He is, well, blunt, and he isn't afraid to invade comfort zones. He doesn't hit on Phyllis, but he hints at things, and he's quite a tease. What a jerk.
On the other hand, he's a great listener, a good advisor, and he clearly cares deeply about Phyllis and her family. So, we'll see where that goes.

Anyway, Sid can be dissected in another post. My friend also thought that Quincy was too encouraging of Phyllis's feelings for Sid, but I had kind of intended that to be jokingly, the way he approached the Sid-topic all the time. Let me see if I can find an excerpt...hm hm hm....

Okay, here's a rather long-ish one from the earlier part of the book, that's Sid who's speaking first:


“I don’t say things that aren’t true, Philly.” He paused. “Well, not when I can help it.”
Quincy entered then.
“Sid! Phyllis!” He sat in the middle between Sid and me. “Did you have a good birthday?” he asked me.
“Lovely,” I replied. “What’d you come out here for?” I tried to sound curious rather than angry because he’d spoiled my moment with Sid.
Quincy leaned over, his cheek almost touching mine, and squinting, pointed at Sid. “That man, right there. I figured I’d try proposing one more time before I lost hope.”
“Very funny Quince. What’s up?” Sid asked.
Quincy got down on his knees. “Sid Siddons, will you marry me?”
Sid threw up his hands in a helpless gesture. “Where’s the ring?”
“The ring! Aw shit,” said Quincy, standing up and running a hand through his thick black hair. “Abe is quite taken with you, Mr. Man.”
“Where’d he come from?”
“I dated him for like a week. We decided to be friends.” Quincy shook his head. “Now he and Butch are in love, but neither one’ll admit it. What’re you gonna’ do?” He gave Sid a look. “It’s almost as frustrating as you and Anna were.”
Sid held up a hand. “Stop it Quince. Worst relationship of my life.”
Quincy’s eyebrows shot up. “Your whole life?!”
Sid considered. “Well...maybe there was one who was worse.”
“I should think so!”
“What happened to Anna? I mean, with Anna?” I asked.
“Nothing Philly, it was just a mistake on my part.”
Quincy raised an eyebrow at Sid. “Have you had anybody since then?”
“Yeah.”
“I mean a serious relationship, Sid.”
“No.”
“You gotta’ open up your heart, Sid. You’ll never find your girl until you look for her.”
Sid looked at me.
“Dr. Quincy,” I told him.
“Phyllis is single if you wanna’ make your move.” Quincy winked at me.
Sid bounced his eyebrows. “Maybe I will.”
I just smiled. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement and looked through the glass door to into the house. Aunt Kippie was looking at Quincy and pointing to Sid.
“Oh, Sid, what I came to say was, the Aunts need a word,” Quincy told Sid.


Quincy makes a few remarks like the "Phyllis is single" one, and I intend them all as jokes between friends. The other thing about Phyllis is that, while she hasn't had a father, she's grown up with older men as her sort of brothers and friends, so she's pretty comfortable talking to them about both their issues and hers. True, the men in her "family" are different than traditional brothers and father figures...you know, crazy, gay, a lawyer...;)

I know I'll get far worse criticism than what I've heard thus far, and I'm sure some of it will have to do with the controversial behavior of certain characters, so I'm trying to prepare myself for it. I was on a Book Blogs discussion about reviewers who don't post negative reviews, and I would never want someone to refrain from reviewing my book because they didn't like it (unless it was so bad they stopped reading it). I mean, great if you love/like the book, that's pretty awesome and thanks. But if you say you like the book when you really DON'T, or say NOTHING when you really hated it, then I would just feel cheated! Negative reviews are a matter of opinion, true, and authors are not required to agree, but hearing about what may be wrong with your book can help improve your writing in future pieces. And in my case, especially these days, there is always room for improvement.

Aside from giving my book to Mahogany, I want to see if the library processed my book yet (so far they're the only place where I know I'm guaranteed to get shelved, oy) and if they got Hush Hush, and I need to tell them to order all these books I've been reading about while floating through the blogosphere. I'm absolutely DYING to read "After," I think it's called, and now I can't even remember the author...Amy Efaw, perhaps?

I also have to return a few books...oops.

And thank you Zombie Girrrl (I hope I put enough "r"s in there) for becoming my seventh follower! In fact thank you all for following, hopefully once a few bloggers review the book you guys can have some company.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Follow Up

I told my mom, the librarian, about the reviews of Shiver and about the more and more frequent appearances of weak female characters. As per usual, the woman made a very good point, saying that she didn't consider them weak characters. Why?
She said she couldn't think of a young girl who can take care of herself, and pretty much everyone around her, as weak. Also, she said, in both cases (Grace and Bella) it was a girl who was used to taking care of everyone else finally finding someone who cared for and wanted to take care of her.

Like I said, good point. I can understand that. I like that my mother and inbedwithbooks have looked at these characters from a sort of psychological perspective and explained them to me. It's fun to talk about characters in depth.

Misogyny in YA books?

Newest goal: 7 followers.

So, hurdling through the blogosphere as I often do late at night (er, early in the morning) I came across the review of "Shiver" on inbedwithbooks (I better put her in my blogtastic list). Anyway, I never finished Shiver, not because it was a bad book but because I'm a weird sort of non-committal reader at times, perhaps because I've never had to return my library books on time. Also, a lot of the time when I read, I stop because I'm like "I shouldn't be reading! I should be WRITING so that other people can be READING MY stuff" which is kind of silly, because reading helps writing SO MUCH. Cough, anyway. Inbedwithbooks made me want to finish Shiver with it's very smart in-depth open review, mainly of Grace's psychological motivations and their effect on the story and on her actions.
It turned out that the review was not only a mere review but a RESPONSE to The Rejectionist's very angry review of Shiver. I had never seen Rejectionist's blog before so this was, I thought, an excellent opportunity to both find out more about Shiver AND see a cool new-to-me blog.

Upon reading The Rejectionist's review, which made a large number of excellent points just as inbedwithbooks did, I encountered an argument I've been encountering since Twilight magically got popular. (Look, they're not bad books, but I still say Stephenie Meyer made some sort of deal with the devil to warrant their crazy success! CRAZY SUCCESS!)
Oh God, I hope this blog doesn't become popular enough for me to get angry people taking "deal with the devil" seriously...

ANYWAY-
This argument is that in these popular YA novels of paranormal romance, particularly Twilight and now, Shiver, we are manufacturing a sort of newly acceptable form of misogyny. Girl will do anything to be able to devote her life and BEING to a man- what makes it acceptable and I guess, intriguing (?) is that the MAN in question is some sort of supernatural hunk. Which of course, must make the situation much different than in real life, mustn't it?

The problem is that well, we're probably not actually going to find a large number of supernatural hunks out there. Come on. If immortals and shapeshifters and blood-drinkers were really so stupid and careless as to let their existence become known to so many damn teenage girls, we wouldn't only see them in works of fiction. Obviously, they're much more discrete. ;)

Bella annoyed the hell out of me in the Twilight books, but somehow I still had to read them. In fact, so did Edward and Jacob. I'm enjoying the movie version of Jacob quite a bit though, I have to say...
I didn't give TOO much thought to Bella being annoyingly willing to make all kinds of crazy sacrifices for Edward and COMPLETELY breaking down when he leaves just after reading the books, and so on and so forth. I also thought it was highly amusing when several whiny male friends complained to me that they couldn't get girls because all the girls wanted Edward Cullen, and were "waiting for my Edward" (apparently one of them put it that way).

In fact, upon my initial readings I had a much bigger problem with the men of the books.
Edward was more tolerable to me in Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, but in New Moon I couldn't STAND him. He seemed like such an idiot! I skipped most of the ending, I admit. But come on! Right away he assumed that Bella was dead, he didn't GO to Forks to investigate. Just like stupid effing ROMEO (I can't stand him either) he is so eager to commit suicide that he runs off to do it right away! And then, when Poor Bella RUSHES to Italy to save the stupid guy, he doesn't back off because he thinks he must be dead too, and in heaven.

I wanted to punch him in the face. I would have said "Bella, why didn't you just let him DIE?" but they already say stuff like that WAY too much in those books.

One has to admit though, that the fact that we all feel so strongly about these books (whether in a good or bad way) means something. I'm just not sure what. Good writing, perhaps? Who knows? Not me.

I understand what books like Shiver and Twilight are aiming for. True love is but the noblest of pursuits...or whatever, right? And with inbedwithbooks' very apt explanation and review, it becomes easy to see why Grace from Shiver would be so quick to devote herself to the one person who seems to give a shit about her.

But The Rejectionist has a very good and frightening point. People are flocking to these books that depict seemingly weak-willed women who will do anything for one certain man. Women who are utterly devastated and ruined without their "love"s. And yes, breaking up sucks, and sometimes it's rough to be alone, especially with the emphasis of importance our culture already puts on having a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse. But we should stop gathering around the message that women live for men. There are all kinds of bad connotations behind that statement. It's FINE for a woman to be able to cook (Bella cooks for her father, Grace cooks for her family)! In fact, I wish I possessed the skill myself.
Though I do make pretty good French Toast.
But there are so many little tidbits that add up with characters like these two. Bella has to be protected by pretty much EVERYONE, not just because she's a fish-out-of-water mortal with the Cullen family, but because she's already accident prone! Accident prone and in need of men to take care of her when she falls down or cuts herself or crashes some vehicle or whatever. Bella needs to make herself perfect and invincible (i.e. a vamp) to be able to hold onto her true love forever.
Things like that just rub me the wrong way.
It's a little more tolerable in Grace's case, I suppose, because Sam is the only person who's ever really taken a real interest in her, out of her friends and parents. With Bella I felt there was a lot more condescension between her and her peers. But again, the thing about these two young women is that these GUYS are what MOTIVATES them. When they actually go out and do exciting things, it has to do with their men. Bella's practically made into a martyr of some sort.
Women shouldn't always have to change for men (and vice versa, to be fair), whether it's into a vampire, or a housewife, or whatever.

All my thoughts are flying out of my mind right now.

I suppose I'm just getting tired of wimpy heroines who need to be rescued by larger-than-life male heroes who make the women constantly think "How did I land this guy? He's so perfect!" I don't need to keep reading about frail (BELLA) little princess girls who just want to be rescued. I'm glad Stephenie Meyer made Bella scholarly and smart, but I'm not a fan of what use she put it to. I was annoyed at "Need" as well, which started out in a completely intriguing and eery tone and turned out to be another tale about a teenage girl in paranormal peril.

Also, the poor men! I understand that sometimes teenage guys seem inadequate, if this attraction to these books has anything to do with that. But come on. Edward's FREEZING, for Christ sake's...

Sigh. I don't know. I started my book in middle school, and honestly? The first motivation I had was to create a character who could be much stronger than myself. I wanted to write a story about someone who could exact revenge upon those people who are just mean for no good reason. When you're a kid that's one of the things you notice, I guess. I saw people get made fun of for looking different, I saw people get alienated for no good reason. And once, some girl tried to start a fight with me because of the way I was facing in my chair...

I like to read/write about strong people, and I like to read about bad people getting what they deserve. Because in all honesty, that doesn't happen often enough in life.

And if we're going to use YA books to set the female gender back a few years in progress, I'm not going to be a part of it. I think all people should get their just desserts, but not that women should always be rescued appropriately and men should always be in the rescuing business.

Given all this, I'm looking forward to see what nits are picked out of my book when/if certain people read it. Maybe these writers had no idea what kind of characters they were creating.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Productivity

Despite being holed up in my pajamas for most of the week, I'm feeling rather productive today. My books were mailed out to most of the bloggers I contacted, and I sent in my long, LONG list of typos. Now I just have to hope that they agree to fix them all. (prays)

I'm slightly nervous about the reviews of my book- I mean, who wouldn't be? But I figure at least ONE blogger has to like it, and either way it might get some people to take a look at the book (or my blog). I'm also looking for bloggers who do a cover feature. The cover of my book isn't amazing, but it's interesting-looking, and obviously if more people see the cover more people will know the book exists.

One thing that surprised me was that, while I was looking for typos, I started actually READING the book and realizing how much I feel for all the characters. I hope they don't all sound like me, heh. Or maybe I'm going to start sounding like them?

My mom is a fervent Diana Gabaldon fan (though from what I hear this last book was a bit disappointing) and every once in a while I hear her ask, "If I love the characters in that book, does that mean I'm in love with Diana Gabaldon?"

Well, I don't think so. But it's hard to say, isn't it? How much of an author actually GOES into each character? Creating a person, whether physically or mentally, is quite a task (obviously if you're doing it physically it's a much more challenging endeavor).
Is Edward Cullen really just a warped version of Stephenie Meyer? What about Patch from Hush, Hush (which I still need to read)? Is he really just Becca Fiztpatrick? Did I spell her name correctly? Were all the Austen men based on Jane Austen's lovers? Even for a writer, it's hard to say.
In my case, I wouldn't suggest that I'm anything like Sid, but that Sid is more like someone that I'd like to meet. That's how I generally think of characters, as people that I am finding and getting to know, or people that I want in my life. Sometimes they come out as a weird mixture of people I already know, but for the most part nobody's based on or mimicking one specific real person.
I don't think my mom's in love with Diana Gabaldon. But who knows? Maybe half the nation is really just in love with Stephenie Meyer.
That's a little creepy...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book Trailers (and sandwich)

I kind of want to write a post on the sandwich I just made, because it was AMAZING. Also, I know that there are bloggers who are up late at night and crave just this sort of thing after long hours of surfing and writing.

BUT this blog is not about food! I was reading a review over on The Book Butterfly, (which I now follow along with a zillion other book blogs that I love) and have decided that along with Hush, Hush, Beautiful Creatures, and The Eternal Ones (though I have to confess that The Eternal Ones is first on my list- she's my favorite author, I can't help it) I must also read The Mark. Better circle January 19th on my calendar...
At the end of the blurb and the author interview, there was a video. I assumed it was a trailer, but it turned out to be a reading of the first chapter. This turned out to be just as tantalizing, if not more.
I've watched trailers for Bliss by Lauren Myracle (another favorite of mine), Kiki Strike, a book I think was called Dream Life by Lauren Mechling (I'm so sorry if I messed up the title or author), Love, Stargirl, Nineteen Minutes (which has a WAY better ending than My Sister's Keeper, in my opinion), and definitely a few more that I just can't remember at the moment. They were all done a bit differently, and I suppose each one worked for each book (though I haven't read the one by Lauren Mechling). So now I'm trying to decide what type of trailer would work for MY book.
"A House Afire" would probably not make a great movie, but if I had actors and you know, special effects, talent in film-making, etc, I could envision a pretty cool trailer for the story.
It would start with the basic description of the Sorin house, and Phyllis and Sid and what not.
Sid would probably be introduced by this scene:

Key hugged him, then me, and while she did, she whispered, “There’s
an incredibly hunky fellow standing by the door staring at you, Phyllis.”
“Dark hair?” I whispered.
“Yuh-huh.”
“Leather jacket?” I whispered hopefully.
“Yuh-huh.”
“Looks like he might be able to hear us?”
“Yeah, actually. He kinda’ looks like he’s trying not to smile.”
“That’s Sid.” My face—my entire being, truthfully—lit up.

There'd maybe be a part of the jock scene, just because I enjoy that scene.

Then it would end with stuff like:

Butch: "Hey Sparky."
Quincy: "This girl's so hot she breathes fire!"
(Phyllis sitting across from him rolls her eyes)
Then there'd be a shot of her actually breathing fire.

Quincy: "Sid's got some wolf to him, I guess you'd say."
(shot of Sid as a wolf)

Sid in earlier scene: "I'm too old for you, Philly."
Phyllis in later scene: "No, you're immortal."

A little corny, but it would be visually attention-grabbing if it worked out the way it does in my mind. Who knows? Now if it were like a movie trailer, we'd have to get a shot of Phyllis kissing either Sid or Eric, a shot of her breathing fire AT someone, and some of the silly Quincy banter. And there you go.

As for what I really can do, my options are limited. I think I might do something more like this:

http://vimeo.com/7993012

Kirsten Miller sent me this link. This is the trailer for Lauren Mechling's book. It's simple, but somehow enticing to me. Plus it seems like a much more plausible way to make a trailer, and it would be fun to pick out a good song for it.
The other idea I might use is just doing a reading the way Jen Nadol did for The Mark. It wouldn't be the prologue or first chapter, though. My book's set up in kind of an odd order, so it would really just be a random excerpt. I suppose we'll see, but I'm continuing to search for ideas until I settle on something. So far I have a whole list of songs for it, though.

I'm also fixing typos now, and I have a whole bunch, heh. Nothing worse than "Claud Rains" though, I promise.

Oh, and that sandwich?
Wheat bread, smart balance, miracle whip, sprouts, turkey, cheese, tomato, hummus.
Just trust me, it was SO GOOD.
Now, time for more editing! The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can get more books, the sooner I can talk to more bloggers, etc.

mini entry on Words

I think I've mentioned before how I like to make up words? Well, I managed to find one of those in my book. I'm debating leaving it in there, I kind of really like this one and it SOUNDS real.
I think I might leave it. This is a tough decision. Hmmm...

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS

So, I really should be looking through my book for typos (or like, totally sleeping) because I got in touch with my publishers about them. But somehow it seems I was mainly concerned about Claude Rains' name. It's hard for me to read the book. When I don't like it, I wonder if it's only because I wrote it, and when I DO like it, I wonder if it's only because I wrote it. It DOES make me happy though, when I'm scrolling/flipping/skimming pages and a random line draws my attention; at least then I know that this is the sort of line that would draw my attention anyway, which means that, hopefully, it'll draw the attention of a few others as well.

Also, apparently every Barnes and Noble store is a little bit different than the next, which means I get to bother them all, one by one. Mwahahahaha!! My next step? To ask everyone I possibly can to go to local bookstores and libraries and ask about the book. I might give them a recommendation of what book to buy, too. I stopped by Barnes and Noble today and decided that I'd better take a look at Hush, Hush. All I hear about Hush, Hush is that it's amazing, sexy, thrilling...you get the picture. Sadly, I am but a poor student, so rather than purchase the book, I settled down and read the first 2 1/2 chapters. Then I told my mom to order it for the library. I have to ask her to order Beautiful Creatures as well, because that looks like one I need to read.

As you can see I've trailed away from my own book and started talking about others. It's nice to be able to read things I really WANT to read rather than what's REQUIRED, and so I'm trying to take advantage of this while I can. Plus, if I'm reading other things while I'm looking over my OWN book, it helps me stay in the mindset of a reader rather than an author— though, of course, the two can often be interchangeable. I just have to work on that.

Last night (er, this morning) I finished Lips Touch 3 Times, and my goodness was it beautiful. Such a gorgeous read, heartbreakingly lovely and filled with savory words. I'm generally not a fantasy girl, but this sort of gothic poetic storytelling was irresistible. I highly recommend the book.

But...my biggest news? Here it is!

Kirsten Miller (author of the amazing Kiki Strike series) was kind enough to send me an ARC of her newest book, "The Eternal Ones"! I can't wait to get into this story, and though it isn't this blog's intended purpose I fully intend to post a big exciting review. Because there's nothing like a good storyteller with a good book.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Admitted Discrimination...Against Jocks.

So, again, I feel that I should address something a reader has pointed out to me (cough my mother cough). There is a scene mid-book, I'd say, in which some jocks are making fun of Mary, one of Phyllis's friends. Mary is going through what might be a little more than just a goth phase. I guess it's kind of a "Mean Girls" moment.

As Phyllis watches the scene unfold— the jocks' teasing and Mary's revenge— she describes the jock in question as Mike or Harry or Bobby and so on, giving him different names each time. This is because Phyllis tends to see jocks as a very generic brand of person. Yes, I know that being a jock isn't a bad thing, not by any means, but in all honesty, there is most certainly one very specific section of jocks. We've all seen them, whether we've been friends with them or harassed by them. They call each other "fags" if one does something the other doesn't like. They can be hilarious, and even nice, but more often than not they just act...well..stupid. Again, it is admittedly a stereotype, but that doesn't mean these guys are non-existent.

The other important thing about this scene is that, well, the jocks are being just plain mean. They're being jerks to a girl just because she looks different. This is off-putting in general but ESPECIALLY off-putting to Phyllis, who knows well what it's like to be shunned, talked about, or made fun of by classmates (read the Prologue). In elementary and middle school she had a rough time socially. Partially because of her age, and partially for, well, no reason at all. Alienation in school is a tough issue to deal with but it's something people should be aware of. And kids like the ones in this scene contribute to it. Luckily for Phyllis, by high school she has come into herself a bit more, learned to stand her ground, and she also has a nice strong foundation of friends. This isn't the case for everyone, however. Some people spend high school searching for who they are, and as they try on different identities, as Mary seems to be doing, they're scorned for it. Luckily, in THIS story, people who are mean for stupid reasons generally get their come-uppants. (Uppents? Uppence? Uppance?) Not always, of course, but generally. Most of my characters tend not to let things go. Especially Anna, but she's for talking about another time. Anyway, I just wanted to address the scene. Everyone's high school experience is different and I'm sure that if Phyllis had joined a different sort of clique her view on the incident would have been a little nicer. In retrospect, it's really not the MEANEST thing to do. She just didn't know the dude's name. And Mary's revenge on the jocks really wasn't quite so bad, either. Just...appropriate, using their own prejudices against them.

Cough. Plus this scene is something I would have LOVED to see happen in high school.

Anyway, you'll just have to read it to see what I'm talking about. Here, I'll even be nice and post an excerpt!
Caution: There are expletives used. Also I just found another spelling error...heh, adds intrigue?



There she was, coming out of a lunch line with a tray. I never bought lunch. It was usually disgusting if the school had made it. If I bought anything, it was from a vending machine. Aunt Chasey made my lunch and enjoyed concocting little snacks, like big marshmallows with peanut butter scooped inside and french bread with homemade garlic butter.

We all looked on as Mary came toward us.
Suddenly something whooshed past Mary’s head. She whirled around to see that it had come from the jock table. Some kid named Kyle or Richie or Mike. I couldn’t keep all those damned jocks straight.
They threw food all the time, but in most cases it was to the neighboring table where Max, the school genius, sat, or another jock table. Never at us, we had never bothered them, we didn’t know them, and everyone knew that Key was cool. Plus, just a few months ago Mary had been a pretty, peppy preppy girl.
Apparently though, Mary now had a different attraction. And they obviously didn’t know just who she was.
Mary turned back around after glaring at Ted or Steve or Ryan, and kept walking. When the second chicken nugget hit Mary’s long, thickly braided and dreaded hair, she turned on her heel and walked right up to the jock table, quickly ducking as someone else pelted a french fry at her.
“Oooh she’s mad.”
“You’re gonna’ get it, man.”
“What are you gonna’ do, bitch?” the boy sitting next to Jeremy/Greg/Jake yelled.
She grabbed Jeff or Aaron or Mike’s shoulders, and stared at him. Suddenly she looked calm. She stood up straight, and put one hand on Jared/Harry/Connor’s shoulder, and one on the boy next to him’s shoulder.
“Fucking freak, don’t touch me!” said the boy next to what’s-his-name.
“Why don’t you two confess your true feelings to each other?” I didn’t hear her actually say this, but later she would tell me. Aloud, she only said, “Fuck you.” Then she lifted her hands from the boys’ shoulders and walked away.
They all laughed at her as she did so.
She sat down and quietly began eating her rotini.
Suddenly there was an outburst of “Whoa!” and “What the fuck?!” and chairs rustling as the jock table was abandoned.

So now you see what I mean, with the use of the names and what not. Ah well. Some people might be offended. Some people probably won't. But I guarantee you this is in no way the worst part of the book, nor does it contain the worst errors.
(-shakes head hopelessly-The inside of the book expresses how my publisher was kind enough to let the work go without edited input. Let me just say, this could be the worst kindness anyone has ever done me.)

Is rotini spelled wrong, too? Oh dear me, I hope not...

If I'm lucky though, maybe some jocks will find this funny too. High school can be rough, but it can also be fun, and I suppose we all deal with it in our own ways, and hopefully, with a sense of humor. I couldn't have every scene happen at the house when high school is a place so full of random incidents like this one.

Oh, and I'm going to try and AT LEAST have the spelling of Claude Rains' name fixed tomorrow.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Quincy, Abe and Butch- The Gay Trio

A couple of readers have mentioned how much they like the funny exchanges between Quincy, a resident of the house who is gay, and his two BFFs, Butch and Abe. I really enjoy writing these characters- they're funny and smart, they're into fashion and pop culture, there's a lot of fun banter to be had! Who doesn't like fun banter?! But these characters can be pretty stereotypical, and I wanted to say a few things about them, before someone reads the book and possibly becomes angry.

I'm not trying to perpetuate stereotypes here- I am well aware that not all gay men are into fashion, and that they don't all act like Stanford and Anthony from Sex and the City. I have several gay friends, and all are different, and NONE of them are defined by being gay. While stereotypical people do exist, in my mind Quincy, Abe and Butch are not just three walking stereotypes. They're all important to me, as most of my characters are (ALL of the characters in this book are, I think, except for Sarah Lagano's boyfriend, Ben) and I think of them as people. Each is his own person, and while their actions and words sometimes seem to stem from simply being gay, keep in mind that this is also what works for them. Just because their interests are common among gay men doesn't mean that being gay is all they have, nor does it mean that their sexual orientation is insignificant. I wanted to show that none of them are afraid of being blatant about who they are, whether it has to do with hobbies, interests, or orientation. I do not intend for them to be overshadowed by "gayness," but on the other hand, I wanted it to be known that they were proud to BE gay.
Hmm...how can I say this without repeating myself 50 times?
Being open about orientation is something we need to be okay with, especially in America. And well, Butch, Abe and Quincy, they're going to let people know in hopes of spreading that pattern of thought, that being gay is normal and okay! They certainly have a sense of humor about it, and their lives suit them, not only because of their orientation but because of who they are in general. They just aren't subtle people, and THAT has nothing to do with being gay. We all know people who are more flamboyant than others, and people who are more lowkey. It doesn't always have to do with sexual orientation.

These characters are interesting for me from every cultural angle, whether it's gay culture, urban culture, fashion culture, whether they're being funny or angry. And yes, they're stereotypical and they are part of Phyllis's family; but hopefully I made it pretty clear that Phyllis is aware that people can be unpredictable, that everyone is different, that one quality does not dictate all of the others. After all, that's part of the philosophy of the Sorin House.

Mini entry on errors

Gah! I found another mistake in the book. I certainly hope I can send these all in before the release date; but if not, I'll see who can find them all (because obviously I couldn't). THIS is why editors are so important, I'm learning firsthand...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fear

I'm not sure why I'm posting so regularly despite not having to worry about readers at this point but, I suppose that when/if i do get them, they'll have a lot to look over. Or something.

Anyway, I've been thinking about fear for a bit tonight. A few years ago I thought that I decided all fear originated from the fear of death. Then I thought that it must be more like fear of pain. Well, I don't know what Freud or Jung or whoever said about fear, exactly. I only know what Roosevelt said about it. And I know that my own fears have evolved and devolved over the years.

When I was little, everything scared me. The dark, being alone, losing my family, tall men, being in front of a lot of people, puppets, clowns, shadows, monsters, murderers, anything could happen at anytime, especially if my mommy wasn't there. I can't tell you just how easily I could get scared, especially after watching "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" or sleeping over at a place that wasn't my house (and even in my own room with a night light I became afraid).

Eventually I grew out of it, into different fears. The startling, gripping fear I felt so often as a kid (and ran from) became something I wanted to find, in movies and books and stories told to me. My fear list changed. It included things like scary people coming out of the TV (after "The Ring"), being murdered in the shower...

Now I find that if I think too hard about something that's already creepy, I can scare myself, but I try to avoid it. The most recent movie that scared me was "The Blair Witch Project," I think because of the getting lost in the woods thing. But who knows? Simple images can bring on really frightening scenarios sometimes. The most recent book that scared me was "A Certain Slant of Light." It's a romantic ghost story, and the main character, a ghost, haunted people throughout their lifetimes, and if she didn't find someone else to haunt after the person died, she'd suddenly become trapped in what I guess was her coffin. I can handle certain ideas about afterlife; hell, heaven, oblivion, nothing at all. But being trapped somewhere alone for eternity is one of the worst things I can think of. That scared me most.

At this very moment, the biggest fears that come to mind for me are:

Peanuts- they make me sick, but I often forget and eat them anyway because it's a very very recent development and peanut butter has been a steady part of my diet since before my memory begins.

Carpal tunnel- I'm on the computer ALL THE TIME. I play the piano, I write in notebooks...I'm bound to get it at some point, right? And then.. there goes everything!

Reincarnation- This is a beautiful idea, I know. But I've been pretty lucky this time around and I'm afraid I'd come back as someone who gets tortured, or worse. I'm not going to go into scenarios, but I know to be grateful for what I have and who I am. And who I have, too. It took so long to learn everything I have. I don't want to have to learn it all again, in a different way. Part of it might also be a fear that, under different circumstances, I may have become some horrible person. I'd like to think that my ideals stem not only from nurture but nature...but who really can say?

I'm sure there are others. I mean, some are pretty self-explanatory and some can go without saying. We're all afraid of losing people at some point or another. I guess I'm thinking more of plaguing, irrational sorts of fears. And those are mine right now.

I feel like I should balance this post out. I don't only have irrational fears- I have irrational hopes and wishes, too. When I was little I wanted to be a singer/actress. When I was...hmm, maybe 14...I wanted to be published by age 17. Here are some of my crazy hopes/wishes at this moment:

A beach house. I'm a beach addict. I don't know if I'd ever leave if I lived on a beach (unless I was going to visit a different beach).

To be on Ellen Degeneres. I could just say I want to be a famous author, but I feel like that's obvious. I don't really expect it to happen, but I know I'm going to try and MAKE it happen to SOME extent. Anyway, every time I picture myself famous, I'm being interviewed on Ellen Degeneres's show. Come on, she seems like such a fun person. I'd love to chat with her!

Hmm. What else do I wish for? We could all use money, that's for sure, but I think it's more important to specify what I'd do with mine. I'd travel. I'd get certified in yoga at an ashram. And travel. Then I'd write something like Eat. Pray. Love. combined with The Da Vinci Code, with vampires or something.
Man. I want to find a book like that now.

Hannibal Lecter

This is a little early, but if you read my book, you may notice frequent mentions of and references to Hannibal Lecter. This is simply because Thomas Harris is my hero. I know very little about him, only how his stories have affected me and so many others. You know, by scaring the sheet out of us.

I love pretty much all the books and all the movies, differences aside. I do have something to say about "Hannibal," though. This may not really seem to pertain to MY book, but really, the stories have had a big influence, and Hannibal and Clarice are one of the best...oh, hold on

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT

strong woman and monstrous sort of man couples in literature. Admit it. Monstrous men can be pretty sexy. Okay, so maybe that's not the common view of Dr. Lecter, but look at how well vampire romance does out there? Sid and Phyllis from my book are an EXTREMELY inappropriate couple (and they won't be a couple just yet) but, well, that's one of the things that makes the attraction between them bigger. And thicker.
Anyway, being a college student, I recently had to write a couple final papers. Blegh. Luckily, one of them was on "The Silence of the Lambs," which after "Rosemary's Baby," is my favorite horror book/movie. I spent a ton of time skimming articles online about the books and the characters and such, and I was surprised at some of the things I read about Hannibal. Er, "Hannibal," the book.

Now, if you have not read the book but you have seen the movies, you might know that Jodie Foster declined to work on "Hannibal" because of the way Clarice Starling is treated...and she never really finds her way out of it, in the film. Jodie said something like she "couldn't trample" on Clarice's character. The best thing that happens in that movie aside in terms of Clarice is that Paul Krendler gets eaten. That guy was an asshole, I don't know if I can think of a bigger asshole in literature right now. (I should probably name someone from "A Tale of Two Cities" or something, but I'm not going to give it much thought because Krendler really was that big of an asshole.) The movie ends with Hannibal sacrificing his arm to escape without hurting Clarice (which WAS romantic in its way). Clarice is left behind, probably to deal with more FBI bullshit. The last scene is Hannibal on a plane, letting a little boy try some leftover brain. Cute ending, well-written given the changes they had to make.

But the book...the book is so much better. I read the book long after I first saw the movie (which was at 11 or 12, thanks to my best friend Lacey) and I'm so glad I did. I would have been furious if I'd known right off that they changed Thomas Harris's ending. It's just...perfect. It just works.

Then again, maybe not. Because to my surprise, many fans lashed out at this book because of the way it ended; that is, the union of Hannibal and Clarice. The guy who wrote the article I was reading said it was probably because the other Hannibal books showed a much more defined and black and white version of good and evil; Hannibal being evil, Clarice being good. For two characters who represent those things to mesh is, well, intriguing to me but infuriating to many others, I guess. One person wrote "Harris has lost a fan" and another wrote that Clarice would never really go with Hannibal, that it went against her character. It made sense to me, though, and as soon as I'm done rereading "Hannibal," I'm sure I'll be willing to argue the ending with anyone who wants to. It was a much better ending than the terribly sad and incomplete one seen in the film. Harris sealed up that story pretty tightly and evenly, giving all characters a deserved resolution. Even if it hadn't been a happy ending for me, I would only have asked for fair resolution. The movie gave little resolution, and while the last scene was smart and relatively creepy, it didn't have the resounding horror (and closure) of the book's finale, where Barney recognizes Hannibal and Clarice at an opera and leaves just as fast as he can because he's no fool.

Man. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. How's that for a dangerous power couple? (shrug) Like I said, I'll always think it was the perfect ending. But maybe after I read the book again I'll gain a better understanding of the other side of the argument.

I guess SOME of the point of all this Hannibal stuff is not only to explain the frequent references in the book, but to explain that I'm someone who can believe in a couple like Lecter and Starling, no matter how wrong they may seem to many others. It's not that hard, really. I mean, look at Twilight. Edward Cullen's basically like a reformed serial killer, right? :P

I kid you of course. I'm just anticipating that when and if this book reaches anyone's radar, there's going to be at least one person who doesn't approve of the occasional flirtatious moments between Sid and Phyllis because of age or morals or maybe it won't even seem to make sense at some points. And this person will demand that I change the story! Or say that it's highly inappropriate and I should be ashamed.

And I'll whisper, "No."
;)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Errors

So, since someone might actually read this :) I thought I would share a bit more valuable information.

Let me reiterate some things: The book is published by a small publisher. I was pretty much the editor.

So I have to take full responsibility for what I am about to say:
I spelled Claude Rains' name incorrectly in the book. I spelled it C-L-A-U-D. (hangs head in shame) But, hopefully I can get it changed before the book is officially released, which is in February.

Aside from me being enormously negligent and rather idiotic...well, typos DO occur. And given the poor editation of this book by myself(yeah I know, sometimes I make up words), well, expect them. Okay? EXPECT TYPOS, THERE WILL BE TYPOS, THE BOOK ISN'T OFFICIALLY RELEASED YET.

I can't believe I left the e out of Claude Rains. I have a Casablanca poster next to my bedroom door!! Perhaps we can blame Phyllis, my narrator. Technically she's the one talking, isn't she? And she's not really a reader, I've noticed. I bet she'll get there though. I better stop before I start talking about the future of these characters before anyone even gets to know them!

Monday, January 4, 2010

anxieties: a conversation

Jesse: "How goes bloggin'?"

Me: "Good."

Jesse: "Awesome."

Me: "Getting paranoid. My parents are reading the book. What if they like..."

Jesse: "Hate it? And f**king stab you?"

Me: "...find secret parts of my subconscious in there? ...And THEN they hate it, and f**king stab me?!"

Jesse: "Because stabbing is the first instinct of people when they don't like a book."




...........I hope Jesse's wrong....

Bloggers!

I have been looking at blogs all evening! I was happy to see so many...sometimes I irrationally worry about the future of books. I read this terrifying (and REAL) article about a university's library making everything digital...and getting rid of ALL THE BOOKS.
But, tonight has reassured me greatly. The internet supports books, books support the internet, and I can spread the word while sitting in my bedroom. (Thumbs up.)

I heart book bloggers.

I think that eventually I'll start talking about books other than my own here, but first I have to finish talking about mine.

My book, I think, can be approached from any angle and appreciated by any age. But if you find teenage girls annoying, well, I'll still recommend trying it out but I supposed that leaves the possibility of a terrible reading experience. Phyllis, however, is not a typical teenager.

Actually, let me pause. I feel kind of bad even saying a typical teenager exists. Look at all the books out there! All the characters are different, and all the teenagers I've met are different. I used to HATE when people used to say I did things because I was a teenager. I think one of the statements that pissed me off the most was my English teacher telling us we were all lumps of clay that he had the privilege of helping shape. I'm sure it sounded wise to some, but to me it just felt condescending. (But then again he always seemed like he'd walked right out of Dead Poets Society or Freedom Writers or one of those inspirational teacher movies. Heh, sorry if you're reading this right now. Hope you're taking those things as a compliment and you read my book! Cough.)
Probably because I was a teenager.
No, just kidding. I am not ever going to chalk up anyones actions to being a teenager, at least, not ONLY to being a teenager.

Okay, moving on from one rant to the next, Phyllis is not a typical PERSON or TEENAGER because of her experiences and also because of her friends. Part of the book is Phyllis seeing what a lot of other teens are like, which is especially important because previous to this she hasn't had a ton of great friends outside of her house. She feels the absence of her parents but not to a point where she's lonely or depressed, and she fits very well in her house because the norm there is...not the norm. :)
That's the thing though. I kind of wish more places were like the house in my book (probably because I'm a weirdo) and when I wrote it originally it wasn't so that I could get it published and make money; it was so I could escape. Granted, I have nothing bad in my home life to escape, which was why most of the book was written during school or homework.

I think my dislike of the, shall we say, scholastic environment, leaked over into Phyllis, but it does make a lot more sense for her than it did for me. When you first meet Phyllis, she doesn't have many friends, and the ones she has aren't great. Like Janelle, who laughs it off when her boyfriend hurts Phyllis's feelings. But I don't spend much time on that part of Phyllis's life...just on the revenge. And then onto much happier times and much more interesting matters, such as Sid and his secrets.

Hey, what else would you expect from a girl who breathes fire?

Also, why do people keep asking me if I'm the girl on the cover?! (facepalm) I'm not on the cover, guys. I'm not like, Sarah Palin or something. Hmm. Wonder if she'll read my book, though. She'd say something really bad about it.
And then it'd be a best seller!

Being Published

So, I'm probably not allowed to say this. And I really shouldn't. It's so damn hard to get published, and I don't even have any real fans or readers yet! Aside from a few friends, and (cringe) my parents— and who knows, maybe they're just reading out of the goodness of their hearts!
What my publisher does is a wonderfully American and noble idea- they pretty much publish anyone! And you don't have to pay them, and BOOM, you're on Barnes and Noble's website. Yay!!

But, this is not to say that being published still isn't expensive. No. Far from it, my friends. Today, I got an email from them saying, "We'll send your book to STEPHEN KING!!!....that is, if you buy 14 copies at a discount price TODAY!" Mind you, I've already purchased 19 copies, and the damn book costs about 35 bucks. Is that not ridiculous?! I'm a college student! I could never buy the book! This is with parental help, plus I'm the one who wrote the thing.
And they keep sending emails like that. They'll send books to the troops, to the TODAY show, to anyone!...if I'll just buy X number of books for X percent off. Getting published is clearly for rich people, and maybe I should have waited until I had a job.

On the other hand, I'm loving that I didn't have to self-publish (whew), that I can be extremely involved in the editing and the PR, and that I actually have an opportunity to see my book on shelves! And I can say I'm an author. AND I've even gotten to talk to other authors!
The advertising emails to me are even rather helpful. They help me think of ways I can distribute the book myself and help advertise it. I'm desperately trying to get a blogger to review the book, and even I'm lucky I can at least get the local newspaper to do it.

As I've said, I'm not expecting to sell many copies of this book (though I'm going to call every store and pull every string). My hope, for this one, is to get my name out there, to get some experience that I can use in the future, and then write something else, something even better (either that or something gimmicky) and get it published by a big publisher. Yeah, it's a dream. But it's not as unrealistic as you might think, and it's a pretty intense pursuit of mine.

Maybe I can just call the publishers and get Stephen King's address myself...

My dad asked today if my book was like Carrie. Just so anyone who's interested knows, it isn't. It's not even like Firestarter (maybe it should have been). I doubt the King would like my book, but there's no such thing as bad publicity, man.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Plot Summary: Friend or Foe?

This is what it says on the back of my book:

Phyllis Sorin has seen all sorts of people. With two kind Aunts who rent out the rooms of their house to anyone in need, the people she calls family are a little different from most. There’s Bill, who takes on the personalities of movie characters. There’s Quincy, whose best friend is a drag queen. There’s Anna, an opera singer and kung-fu master.
And Phyllis, well, she’s not exactly normal herself. But even as she begins to navigate high school’s social jungle, Phyllis finds comfort and humor in her odd home.
When Dominick Siddons moves in, however, all of Phyllis's priorities become inferior to finding out his secret. A young lawyer with a vicious wit and ferocious temper, Sid may understand Phyllis in a way no one else can. And through truth and fiction, through the inevitable chaos of the house, Phyllis finds much more than she bargained for.

That's what I wrote for them to put on the back. One thing I've noticed, and far before even finishing this book, is how tough it is to capture a whole story's essence in a few little paragraphs. I mean, for really well-known authors it doesn't always matter. Stephen King, we get the jist of it (and we've probably already seen the movie version). Harry Potter, Twilight, at this point we can just find someone to ask about them. And I suppose those plots are pretty straight-forward— both are pretty good books with very clear genres and stories. I guess my problem is that I took a bunch of my ideas and through them into a story; it just seemed to work for me.
When people ask me what my book is about, I find myself always saying something different.
"Well, it's almost like you're living with this girl for a year or so and learning about her home and her life."
"It's about a girl who lives with her Aunts, and her Aunts rent out their house to a lot of different people, so a lot of crazy events ensue."
"It's kind of like Hey Arnold, do you remember that show?"
"It's about a girl who breathes fire and falls in love with a werewolf." (This one is usually followed by a frantic, "It's not like Twilight!" or "But I came up with it years before Twilight came out!")
"It's about a girl who breathes fire but still manages to live a relatively normal life."
"It entwines what's real with what is not and shows that the one can be just as bizarre as the other."

Blah blah blah. I wish I could just hand everyone that asks a book and say, "Just read the first few pages."

The prologue introduces Phyllis and her situation, but first it shows her in action- she gets revenge on a bully. Sure, I could have written her telling him off, but it's way cooler to write a scene where someone flies across a yard in a cloud of smoke and flame. Here, I'll just post part of it. (At this rate you'll be able to read the whole book here.)

After a while I saw Jeremy come out. I looked at him, then at the fire, and, very quickly, I inhaled the fire. The whole thing, leaving behind just the pile of wood. The heat felt good in my lungs.
I stood up. Jeremy was flirting with the girls in the pool. They got out and left him to cover it.
“Janelle sent you out to cover the pool?” I asked.
He ignored me.
Now, that was just rude.
“Hey Germs, look out.”
I don’t know if he looked at me then or not, but either way, I blew the fire I’d inhaled at him with all the heat, smoke, and force I could. It must’ve looked like an explosion.
He screamed, flying backward to the other side of the pool. I breathed it back in.
I heard one of the guys on the other side of the yard say, “What the hell?”
But I didn’t care. I walked around the pool, down to Jeremy.
“Are you listening now, Jeremy?” I said angrily. “I want you to leave me the fuck alone. Forever. Because I don’t think you deserve to live.”
He looked at me. I loved the look on his face. I had never scared anyone before. I hoped he was in shock. Sadly I had somehow managed not to burn him.

But even after this, it's very important that the reader continues and gets to know Phyllis. Phyllis isn't a very angry or mean person, but the first glimpse of her is a little rough, a little violent. Aside from Jeremy, however, she pretty much can get along with anyone—it's what she's used to.

The story isn't only about Phyllis either, nor is just about her love interests or her family. There are so many different parts and people that I really think that anyone could find something of interest to them in the book (or even something to get ANGRY about). Like I said, movies are more than discussed. There are several gay characters, most of whom are fairly stereotypical, and this is acknowledged. There's, well, an angry black woman. There are two little housewife-type older ladies. There are, of course, several teenage girls and one particularly important teenage boy.
What makes the combination of all of the characters interesting is what's found beneath the surface. So stereotypes exist. But why? What's under them? There's so much to people, and that's what I'd like to write about.
This isn't a deep book by any means; I prefer to think of it as a fun, hopefully interesting read. Maybe in the future I'll get better at character-dissection, so to speak.

Anyway, like I said, there's so much to people, and so there's a lot to this story, more than I could ever fit on the back of any book. It was very important for me that I make it clear that there is an important male character, but that he isn't the whole of the book, and it was also important for me to try and include the tenants.

One of the reasons, aside from my own writing experiences, that I've been so concerned about plot summaries has to do with one of my FAVORITE books, one of the BEST books I've ever read: Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City.
The cover has a cool sort of comic book look, which I liked when I saw it in Barnes and Noble, what, five years ago? But the back describes what sounds like an underground city of secret people, you know, like another world beneath New York City. It just didn't sound old enough for me.
Two or three years later, I saw the book at a store on the Jersey shore and gave in and bought it.
It was COMPLETELY different than what I'd thought. The city is left behind, an uninhabited underground network of roads and rooms once used by criminals. There's an entire archaeological mysterious aspect to the story that I had no inkling of when I read the back of the book! Once I'd finished it it made me angry that I hadn't purchased and read the book years ago.

Just think. Passing over a book because of a misleading summary or description could lead someone to pass over something amazing! I've come to the conclusion that the best thing I can to is just start reading the book and try and pick up on the initial good and bad vibes I feel. I will admit, I have bought books based on their covers (in both the literal and metaphoric sense). But I must say, books deserve more attention, and I've learned that I should give every one a chance.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Public Relations...and Bill.

So, since my current publisher is a relatively small company, I'm getting a very unique opportunity to do most of my own public relations! Exciting!
Okay fine, so I'd rather have an agent and a publicist, and huge posters in Barnes and Noble advertising my coming book. The best I can do right now, however, is have posters made (or make them myself), send lots of emails, make some phone calls, and possibly mail some copies. Not to mention leave them around. Oh yes. They will be around campus, around town, and if I travel, they'll be around Europe and South America too!

What I've been doing tonight is sending emails and bugging friends about blogs and other news sources. Not a lot of luck so far, but I'm emailing just about anyone I can think of, so I have to get at least ONE response about something! And on Monday, I can call newspapers, news stations, radio stations...well, we'll see what happens.

One author's journey into the wide and highly sought world of advertising!

As for reading, which I'm doing in an effort to hold onto my small amount of relative sanity, I've gotten into Sherlock Holmes thanks to my mom the Librarian and the amazing movie that's just come out. Good stuff. I definitely have big plans for Bill to be Sherlock.

Oh, Bill? He's a character in my book. He has a bit of a psychological disorder combined with a film obsession; he spends all of his time watching movies and then taking on personalities of movie characters. You'd think this might be harmful at times, you know, if he watches The Silence of the Lambs or The Shining. But luckily Bill is very limited by his surroundings and what must be the real person inside him, and he's never hurt anyone. Quite the opposite in fact. He's a lot of fun to write, probably because I get to sort of steal other peoples' characters and write them in my own way. That might be worrisome in terms of copyright laws at some point, but I'm not going to concern myself until enough people start reading the book to notice. This may never happen, so there's nothing for me to fret about!
Bill's characters aren't always set to coincide with the chapter's situation or anything like that. They're random, the way I imagine they would be if someone really were to act this way. This is not to say that I don't throw in favorites here and there. My very favorite person to write Bill into so far is Clark Kent. Here's a teeny tiny excerpt:

Just then, the front door opened again.
“Hey guys!” It was Clark Kent, or Bill with Clark Kent glasses. He must have watched a Justice League DVD at some point. Taylor’s DVDs often somehow ended up at my house for long periods of time.
“Hey Clark,” I greeted him. “Chasey made spaghetti.”
“Oh that’s great, I love spaghetti!”
“Clark, this is my friend Mary,” I introduced them.
Bill extended his hand. “Clark Kent, great to meet you Mary!”
Mary didn’t seem to notice the Superman’s secret identity thing. “You too,” she said, shaking his hand.
“How was work?” Sid asked him.
“Oh it was fine. You know. Nothing I couldn’t handle.” He winked at Sid and me. Apparently we knew he was really Superman. “Well, I’m gonna’ go get some of that great spaghetti.” He went to the kitchen.


I don't think I'm supposed to randomly post huge parts of the book around (I probably will anyway) but I figure this gives the idea of how a movie character can casually sneak into the book.

I got my very first copy of the book just recently (after a whole lot of waiting) and I've already found a typo in it. Oops, better work on that. Maybe the next time I get published I'll HAVE AN EDITOR. That would be a big help...

No, my published novel is not a glamorous affair, just a small start. One author's journey and all that. But in a way, it's better this way. I'm slowly learning the publishing process, as well as the editing process, the advertising process, and pretty soon, the selling process. Because I'm the one who's going to sell this book, really. I'm not expecting much, but if I can sell, say, 100

My closing note-
A House Afire comes out on Barnes and Noble and Borders' websites in February!