Monday, December 30, 2013
That being said, here are my top 13 books of 2013. These are books that I read in 2013, not that were necessarily published this year.
First Test by Tamora Pierce
I read this book at the start of the year. I thought it was really enjoyable and I went on to read the rest of the series. Most of all, I loved the main character and the character interactions. As much as I would love for this to be on my actual list, I have a really hard time supporting this author. I feel like the first books in her series are relatively clean and lighthearted, only to get trashier with each book. As a reader who likes the clean aspect, I always feel betrayed by her books, which is why I tend to not read them as often or let myself like them as much. Either way, I did really like this book and would recommend it.
13. Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
I'm not sure if this book is Christian Fiction, but i really enjoyed it. This book is a contemporary something-or-other. I would maybe call it a coming of age or
a romance, but it's not really either of those. Either way, I really enjoyed it and think you might want to check it out.
This book was a great conclusion to a great story. I love the story of Will, Tessa, and Jem. I'm firmly on Team Will, but I think that might be because I'm always for the bad boy. That might not be such a good thing. Anyway, Clockwork Princess is a great book wrapping up a great story. I just love Clare's perfect yet shattered heroes. Give me a Will or a Jace any day.
Bonus points, the author of this book is a teen writer. I really liked the idea of this story and it was generally a great book. Seriously, this is just the kind of sci-fi I love to read. It's really great, fresh and clean. And I think we teen authors need to stick together. I would highly recommend this book!
This isn't a novel, but a writing craft book. I found the section on writing useful, but not world shattering. The section on publishing, on the other hand, is wonderful! This is a book I would highly recommend to any writer, teen or otherwise.
The Heist Society books are my favorite running series. Perfect Scoundrels came out this year and it was even better than Uncommon Criminals. I really liked this book and though it went even deeper into the characters, especially Hale, who is possibly my favorite. (Although I'm a big Nick fan too. *see previous comment on bad boys.)
I actually got to read this book as an ARC that I won from my library. It was so good and I was really sad to see the book Slated come out first. They both operate on the concept of the government wiping teens brains. In my opinion, Slated isn't as good as The Program and I'm so glad it came out! I think you should defiantly take a look at this book, if you can. Plus, don't you love that cover? I can't wait for book 2!
I started this book a few years ago and couldn't get through it. I think it's a book for a little bit of an older YA audience. Not that it has mature content, but that it's a little bit of a slower, more thoughtful book, if such a thing can be said of high fantasy. I'm really glad I read it this year and I am a new Sherwood Smith fan.
The False Prince, the first book in this trilogy, was my top pick last year, but I think first books in series tend to be the easiest to fall in love with. While Runaway King was amazing and fully satisfying, I felt like it was a little more ridiculous, to the point where it was hard for me to suspend my disbelief. In my opinion, this book cemented the fact that this series is a Middle Grade book, not a YA book. I would have liked to see it grow older for it's readers, not younger, but that's okay. I still can't wait to read book 3, but I know I'll be sad to see the series go.
I got to read this book for free and absolutely loved it. I talked about how much I love broken boys that are still beautiful earlier. As much as I do love that, I really loved the broken heroin in this book. Again, this book isn't my typical fantasy read, but I really enjoyed it a lot! I would highly recommend it to any high-school girl.
Who, that reads this blog, wouldn't love a book about a teen writer? This book was really great! One thing I especially loved was how the author used names of actual teen writers that are part of the teen writer community she started in her book. Any time she needed filler names, she used teen writers. Who knows, if you read the second book, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet, you might even spot the name of yours truly.
I read this book in the beginning of the year. I don't remember a lot about it except that I loved it. Seriously, it's really good. It's kind of a classic romance meets time travel. That might not sound great to you, but trust me, it is! Or actually, don't trust me. Read it for yourself and decided what you think.
The last two books have everything I love in a book, magic, princesses, and a good, old fashioned revolution. I really enjoyed The Spy Princess, even though it's geared toward a 9-12 year audience. (Don't judge. We all read JV books now and then.) I love that this story was a little bit fun, a little bit serious, a little bit far fetched and a lot bit magical.
Finally, my number one pick of the year. I only read this book in November, but it's SO good. It's clean and interesting. It also taught me some things about writing, which I always value in a book. The characters are real, not some perfect human that never makes mistakes, which I really appreciated. The plot wasn't exactly fresh, but I'll always fall for the classic rebellion meets magic type of books, which this certainly is. I liked that this was a book I had no problem recommending to my mom. I think it convinced her that not all YA books are scandalous. (The last two series she read were Hunger Games and Graceling.) All in all, this book is a really well rounded book that's just up my ally.
I'm really looking forward to reading The Shadow Throne this year, as well as the new Heist Society book, though that might not come out until 2015. I'm also hoping Hilari Bell, Cinda Williams Chima, and Cassandra Clare all publish something new this year. That'd be great.
What about you? What are some of the best books you read this year? Either leave their titles in the comments or write your own post and leave the link. I love hearing from you guys!
Thanks for reading!
Monday, December 23, 2013
I was tagged yesterday by Sarah, over at Dreams and Dragons. I had another post planned for today, but this one just looked like so much fun. To complete this tag, I have to post four to six signs of being a writer, without knowingly copying anyone else, then tag as many other bloggers as I want.
So . . . You know you're a writer when . . .
1. When you take time away from playing (and beating) your family in a board game to critique a friend's short story.
2. When you buy as many school notebooks as possible at the start of the year, even though you know you'll never need that much paper for school this year.
3. When most of your Christmas wish list consists of novels and writing craft books and you insists they all be bought new so the money actually goes to the author. (I kept having to tell my mother I'd rather have 3 new books than 5 used. I'm not sure she believes me.)
4. When you're a little disappointed for Christmas, because it means you didn't finish your novel by your deadline.
5. When you're organizing a Twitter chat for teens everywhere to talk about books. That right, I'm hosting what I hope to be a monthly Twitter chat. I'm calling it the Teen Book Chat and the first chat will take place Monday, January 6th at 8:00 PM eastern time. To join us, just use the hashtag #TBkChat. For more information, I've created a second blog. You an find it by clicking here.
That just about sums it up. Hopefully on Thursday I'll do a Christmas book haul, but I guess we'll see what Santa brings.
For the tag, I'm tagging:
Julia @ Julia the Writer Girl
Hannah @ Candy Apple Books
Jillian @ Covers and Ink
Lily @ Lily's Notes in the Margins
And YOU, if you want to join in.
Merry Christmas. I'd just like to leave you with the reminder that Christ is the reason for CHRISTmas and I don't plan on ever taking him out of the equation. You're welcome to feel differently, but that's how I feel.
Thanks for reading! If you're looking for something to comment, I'd love to know your twitter handle and/or what you're hoping to ger for Christmas in the way of books.
Thursday, December 19, 2013
My library, along with a bunch of other libraries in my state has an online database where you can download a temporary ebook or audio file. It's one of my favorite things, because I can read books right when I want to, even if I don't have anything good on hand.
The latest audio book I got was Entwinded by Heather Dixon. Without further ado, here's my six word review of the book.
Who doesn't love twelve dancing princesses?
4 out of 5 stars.
Buy this book on Amazon, B&N, check out the author's website, or add it to your to-read list on Goodreads!
Similar titles include The Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George and Enchanted by Alethea Kontis.
Have you read Entwined? What did you think? If you could sum it up in six words, how would you do it? Any ideas for a book I should read next?
See you Monday! Thanks for reading.
Monday, December 16, 2013
- I have almost 85 followers, but each post only gets 2 or 3 comments. So how often do you read my posts? I'd just like to know. Do you read most Mondays? Thursdays? Both? Only when the title is interesting?
- Are you just a lover of books or a writer as well?
- If you are a writer, what do you like to write? Fantasy, poetry, a little bit of everything?
- How much have you written? Two first drafts, one carefully revised novel, what?
- How long have you been writing?
- What type of blog posts do you find interesting?
- Is there anything you'd like to see more or less of on Inklined?
- Do you read books similar to what you write?
- If not, what are some book genres and common themes you like to read?
- Are you a teenager?
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?
Tessa Emily Hall has also graciously offered to give away an e-copy of Purple Moon to one lucky commenter. To enter the giveaway, you must
1) Leave a comment
2) Include your e-mail address in the comment
3) Be a follower of Inklined
4) Bonus Entry* Leave the link to your Goodreads list with Purble Moon marked as To-Read
5) Bonus Entry* Leave the link to a tweet about this giveaway
Giveaway closes at 11:59 PM EST Monday the 16th.
Thanks so much, Tessa, for coming here today! And thank you guys for reading.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Today I'd like to start with something I recently figured out for myself. A lot of writing advice books and blogs will include something along the lines of "avoid the word was" or "never use passive writing. Ever." Sometimes I just feel bad for the horrible rap the word "was" gets, along with other helping verbs like is, has had, had been, are, and so on and so forth.
As a new writer, I found all of this advice very confusing. I knew not to use the word "was" or the phrase "had been," but I didn't know to avoid the word in a sentence. Often, instead of fixing the problem, I just tried to come up with sentences that didn't use the word "was" even if that meant skipping over what I wanted to say.
It wasn't until the past year or so that I've figured out how to change passive writing to active. One thing that really helped me was what fellow teen writer Nick Hight had to say. He wrote a passive sentence: "The beach was being sat on." Then he wrote an active version of that sentence. "They sat on the beach." Most people would say the second sentence is better. Even if they couldn't put their finger on it, they would say they prefer the second sentence.
So how do you do it? How do you change that passive writing to active? Here's what I've learned.
1) Figure out who or what does the action.
Take the sentence "The inn was noisy." This is a fine sentence. It communicates what's going on in the room. But it's passive. We can make it stronger. To do this, we ask who or what made the inn noisy? Maybe the patrons, maybe just a few drunk old men at the bar. But saying, "A few drunk old men at the bar made the inn noisy," gives you a lot more information than "The room was noisy."
2) Re-arrange the sentence
Let's use a similar sentence to the one above. "The room was filled with noise." Now, put the end of the sentence at the front. "Noise, the room was filled with." I think we can agree that's a pretty bad sentence. It sounds like something Yoda would say. But it might suggest another sentence. To me, it suggests, "Noise filled the room." This sentence says the exact same thing as the first one, but it gets rid of the passive writing.
3) Hunt down your -ing words
Something I tend to do a lot is use a sentence like, "The girl was running." Often, I find that when I use "was" with a word ending in "-ing" I can get rid of both the "was," and the "-ing" and have a stronger sentence. In this case, "The girl ran." Sometimes this don't work, but it does for the most part.*
4) I had had too many had's
Recently, I found a pin on Pinterest. It said something like, "I love English. This sentence makes perfect sense. 'The faith he had had had had no effect.'" While that sentence is grammatically correct, it is not something I would want to find in a printed book. Often, we use too many "had"s. For instance, earlier in the post, I typed "I had wanted to say." Then, I read the sentence over and realized I could take the "had" out and the sentence read exactly the same. "I wanted to say," is still a past tense sentence that still makes perfect sense. Although avoiding or deleting the extra 'had' won't boost your word count during NaNoWriMo, in my opinion, it makes for better writing when you
*) The exception that proves the rule
Sometimes, you need the word 'was.' It helps you describe an action that is ongoing. The sentence, "She was string the pot as we walked through the kitchen," means something a little different than, "She stirred the pot as we walked through the kitchen." They are similar, put in this case sentence one makes you think she stirred the put the entire time they walked through the kitchen, while sentence two makes you think she gave the pot a stir as they walked through the room. In a case like this, I would say using the word 'was' is excusable.
(Just a note, the example in that paragraph was borrowed in part from a writing book I highly recommend, Go Teen Writers by Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morrill. The e-book is currently on sale for $0.99, but I think that only lasts a short while longer. I happen to own both versions, and I can't sing it's praises loud enough. And yeah, it's signed.)
Hope this helps. No one is perfect. In my 'closest I have to a finished,' novel, I have used the word 'was' just under 500 times. I could do a lot better. There are times I use the word 'was' because I don't like the flow of the revised sentences. I'm not saying you can never use passive writing, I'm just showing you how to make it active, should you chose to do so.
I'm planning on writing another post for Thursday, but we'll have to see how my week goes. I will definitely see you on Monday.
I need your help with an upcoming blog post. What are some of the best books you read in 2012-2013? And what genres were those books? Are there any genres you love but can never find good books in? Please leave a comment and let me know. I love hearing from you.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
NaNoWriMo is something I participated in this year. I hope to do so for a long time to come. In my opinion, it's a very good idea for writers to try their hand at. The only time I wouldn't recommend it is if you've never written a novel before, but you think you want to become a novelist. Because if you try it then, you might get burnt out.
This year, I wrote a high fantasy a little bit like the Septimus Heep books by Angie Sage. The first draft is not finished, but I won NaNoWriMo on Friday, November 29 with 50,130 words. This is my fourth novel and something that I think is really cool is that with each book I write, I feel like I get better at something. Maybe that's just because I'm at the start of my writing learning curve, but I hope not.
I'm writing this book to the oldest audience I've ever written a book for. My first book's main character (MC) is fourteen at the start of the book. In The Thirteenth Wizard my MC is only fifteen at the start of the book, but I fell like you can tell this book isn't for children. Although I say I write YA, my other two books are more middle grade (MG) or even juvenile (JV.) This might just be because I'm the oldest I've ever been when I wrote a book, but maybe it's just because I'm getting better at rising the action and the themes, and I don't want younger kids or teens reading such intense stuff.
Another thing I learned during NaNoWriMo is that I can write pretty quickly. If you give me 2 hours, I can churn out about 3K. I have to turn my music up and my wi-fi off, but I can do it. That's something new for me.
All in all, NaNoWriMo was pretty wonderful and I'm really glad I did it this year! My story has flaws. I need to raise the stakes, because right now, if my character fails, it doesn't really matter. I need to tighten the writing, because I used the word "was" 518 times in 50,00 words, which is not good. But I think I have some good things going for me and I'm pretty excited for what this book can become.
What about you? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Did you win? Did you finish your novel? Do you feel like you learn something new or get better at something with each draft you write? Leave me a comment and let me know.
See you on Monday!
Monday, December 2, 2013
Last Monday, I talked about How to Dig into the YA Market. Today, I'm going to talk specifically about genre. While it's important to know your general market, I think it's far more important to understand your genre. Some people would say YA is its own genre, and while that's kind of the case, on a basic level I disagree.
The genre I'm going to use as an example is high fantasy, because that's what I write. When you Google high fantasy books, you'll see a lot of the same titles. For me, some of the big names in High Fantasy are Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones. Both of those authors write great books and they do it well. A few other hallmark books include Eragon, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia. (People would argue that all three of those aren't true high fantasy, but I think they're close enough.)
These are the building blocks for your search. Once you have some books that are similar to what you write, one of my favorite things is to find that book on Amazon and Goodreads. As an example, let's use Eragon, because most people have at least heard of it. If you go to the Amazon page for Eragon and then scroll down to the Customers who Bought this Item also Bought: section, you'll find a lot of good, similar, high/epic fantasy. If you scroll through the pages, you'll find some similar books, including Inkspell, Divergent, Magyk, and Airborn. All of those books are great speculative fiction not set in the present day. They are good books to check out. Goodreads has a similar function.
Another thing you can do is look for author connections. If you're favorite genre writer starts mentioning a book a lot or she mentions another book or author in the acknowledgements of fantasy books. check the new author out. Do the authors thank and other authors? What to those authors write? One thing I noticed was that Cinda Williams Chima tweeted at Rae Carson a lot. I respect Chima's second series and after I read Girl of Fire and Thorns, I also respect Carson.
Keep an eye on the best seller lists for your genre. I talked about best seller lists last week, but they are truly one of the best fiction resources for writers. Just skim them over once or twice a week. See what books in your genre are on the lists and read them.
You can also find lists of books in your genre. Once again, I recommend Goodreads, because the lists on there are voted for by people, so the most loved books are at the top of the lists. Using the example of Eragon, if you go to the Goodreads page and scroll down, you'll see a section marked Lists With This Book. Click the more lists button to see what lists include Eragon. Some of those lists include Best Epic Fantasy, Dragons, Fantasy Books of the 21ts Century, Most Interesting Magic System, Most Obvious Tolkien Imitators, and The Best Fantasy Books. After taking a quick look at these lists, I can tell you there are going to be some books that are in your genre that people consider good high and/or epic fantasy.
And perhaps most importantly, find people who also love your genre. Find an exclusively high fantasy review blog. Share titles with friends who also love high fantasy. Find a high fantasy forum, share latest good titles with your Lord of the Rings loving friend. Word of mouth is still the best way to find good books.
This is less concrete then last week's post, because genre is harder to pin down, but I felt it still needed mentioning.
Thanks for reading. How do you find other great books within a genre you're loving? Are you looking for some titles to read in your genre? If so, let me know what genre you want to read in.