Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WWW Wednesday: Manga Madness

It's also time for WWW Wednesday from Should Be Reading. The three W's:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?

I am currently reading Kamisama Kiss Volume 1 by Julietta Suzuki. Or should I say, re-re-re-reading. It's one of my favorite manga (Japanese comics) series of all time  - Julietta Suzuki is a master storyteller. It's about a human girl who accidentally becomes the diety of a local shrine and inherits a grouchy fox demon as her servant (who she, of course, falls for). Adorable characters, a fun story, and lots of laughs. A definite must if you read manga, and a great series to start with if you don't!

I just finished reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. It was a pain to finish. Long story short, the MC (whose name escapes me - that's how memorable she was) was flat and boring and halfway through the book she just ruined the whole travel experience with her dour outlook. To me, the settings and letters were the actual MCs, and whenever the human MC got in the way I was like "Down in front! Down in front!" But she never moved, therefore ruining the read for the rest of us. Needless to say, I have no idea if I will be reading the sequel, although I think I'll give it a try simply on the hope that Maureen has learned how to craft characters by now and I'll be able to understand what's-her-name a little better.

Next I will be reading Kamisama Kiss Volume 2  by Julietta Suzuki. Really, I plan to read all the volumes I have today (4, to be exact). This series is one of my comfort-reads, and on a crappy day like today I can really use it. And Volume 5 comes out next Tuesday - woohoo! XD

So what's your reading stack look like?

Road Trip Wednesday: Mangaholic

It's time for Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival by YA Highway! Today's question:

What was the best book you read in September?

My answer:

While I did read a few "actual" books this month, none of them were quite up to snuff. So instead I choose the latest manga volume of the xxxHolic series by CLAMP - Volume 17, to be exact.

It is the 2nd volume in the Rô story thread, which I love even more than the original! Watanuki has taken over Yûko's wish-granting shop, but it's not as easy as she made it appear. He must learn the delicate balance between wish and payment, and master all of the new powers his inheritance has given him.

It's an amazing series by CLAMP (an all-female manga group), although most of their series are amazing! XD If you haven't given manga (Japanese comics) a chance, this is a great series to start with.

What was your favorite book this month?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reading Out: Booking Through Thursday (on Tuesday)

I know this is almost a week late, but what can I say, life is like that for me.

So The Book Fiend does a weekly thing called Booking Through Thursday. I never got to answer last Thursday's question, much to my disappointment, and therefore do so now. It was:

Do you carry books with you when you’re out and about in the world? And, do you ever try to hide the covers?

To the first question, my answer is a resounding No. Sure I'll bring something to read during lunch at work, but other than that, No. At least, not anymore.

One of the reasons I stopped is I live in Arizona, and during the summer our cars get hot. As in spine-glue-melting, page-curling hot. So if I'm not able to bring the book into the air conditioning with me and have to leave it in the car (I like my purses as small as possible, which doesn't leave room for a book), I don't want my books to perish before their time in the sweltering heat. I cherish my books way too much to subject them to such torture.

Another reason I stopped is I now get carsick. When I was little I used to be able to read during a car ride (other children were quite envious), but one day it just wasn't possible anymore. So there is no reason to carry a book for the car ride. I now use the time to brainstorm if I can. The scenery is pretty boring and blinding unless it's overcast.

But the main reason I don't carry a book: I'm a writer.

"That's a stupid reason!" you say. "That's the best reason to carry a book! Writers should always be reading." Well, in my opinion, you are wrong.

When a writer is out in the world, they should not have their nose buried in a book. A writer should be observing.

What is a writer but a person who makes up stories based on their observations of the world? How else are we supposed to know how the opposite gender would act, or just the right inflection for dialogue, or how the body would move when put in a situation?

By observing life.

And you certainly can't do that with your eyes and brain caught in someone else's story, lost in their own personal world of observation and imagination. Everyone sees things differently. You cannot truly observe through someone else's observations. It's like art (the painting, drawing kind). Even if everyone is looking at the same model, everyone will see something, interpret it, differently. It is the same with writing.

Reading is for when there is nothing to observe, curled up on your couch, bed, favorite chair, or staring at an office wall in the lunch room. The next time you're stuck waiting in that long line at the post office, or sitting there at that coffee shop table, don't pull out your book. Observe. Watch how people interact, listen to how they talk. If you get really bored, start imagining what kinds of lives they lead - make up whatever you like. Who knows, you may discover the lead for a new story.

So the next time you go to grab that book on your way out, leave it behind. Try it at least once. And when you would otherwise be reading, observe those around you. You might just be surprised what you see.

And as for the second part of the question, No, I never hide covers. I'm a card-carrying member of manga and young adult fiction and proud of it. Although I admit to sometimes leaving a manga with a more risque cover at home... ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Write Like...

I discovered I Write Like today. For fun I stuck in a bit of my WIP (the random beginning of a scene), and although I ran it through three times it gave me the same conclusion:

I write like
Cory Doctorow
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Interesting, huh? I have to admit I have yet to read any of his books, but I consider myself a little flattered. And I love his office, although it would be less trinkets and more books for me - all that wasted shelf space!

Photo by Portrait by Jonathan Worth 1, credit Jonathan Worth, link to

Analyze your own writing - it's fun! XD

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WWW Wednesday: Bloody Envelopes

Now for WWW Wednesday, brought to us by MizB at Should Be Reading! The three questions are:

1. What are you currently reading?

2. What did you recently finish reading?

3. What do you think you’ll read next?


I am currently reading 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, and quite enjoying it.

I recently finished Supernaturally by Kiersten White. I was sadly not as impressed with it as I was the first book, Paranormalcy. =(

I'll probably read The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson, the sequel to 13, but I also have Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake waiting impatiently to be read. Decisions, decisions.

How about you?

Road Trip Wednesday: Going Undercover

Today's Road Trip Wednesday question:

What are your all-time favorite book covers?

For me, trying to remember favored covers is like sifting through the faces of every person you have ever met in your entire life for a few random people you spoke with once in seventh grade.

But as I pondered the question, there was one cover that did spring to mind. I have never read the book, and probably never will (I just don't like fairies), but I would love to have a poster of it:

I have no idea why, but I have loved this cover since the first moment I laid eyes on it, and it haunts me to this day. It's so spooky and tells a story all its own.

How about you? What are you favorite book covers?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: The Viking Ship

It is time for my first Teaser Tuesday, a concept brought to us by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

After following the zany and wonderful Maureen Johnson for many months on Twitter (@maureenjohnson), I finally brought home a stack of her books from the library. I'm on a travel kick right now (read: today, for some reason - also watching Rick Steves' Europe), so 13 Little Blue Envelopes it was. Currently on Chapter Richard and the Queen, and quite enjoying it. :)

Here's my teaser tidbit:

"She was standing in the airport in Copenhagen, staring at a doorway, trying to figure out if it was a) a bathroom and (b) what kind of bathroom it was. The door merely said H."

These "day" posts are fun! I'm definitely enjoying them, and I hope you are too! XD So what are you reading today?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Magical Me

My first Road Trip Wednesday from YA Highway! I'm excited. The question:

What themes, settings, motifs, scenes, or other elements do you find recurring in your work?

First and foremost, magic. It is a very rare day that one of my stories does not include some form of power. I tend to write "magic in the real world" - less about magical creatures and more about humans wielding powers. My current WIP is about special people tapping into the power of otherworldly creatures.

When it comes to characters, the most recurring for me is "single woman takes in young troubled boy." I have no idea why - there are no little boys in my life, and I really don't think there ever will be - yet it crops up all the time. I have at least four stories revolving around a woman/boy team, including Nano Novel No. 2 in which the boy is an extremely powerful (read: magic) alien soldier and takes to a human woman who ultimately convinces him not to kill everyone. Oh, the things my women get attached to.

As for settings, my stories usually take place in cities - and specific ones. Location is a character in itself and therefore open to all sorts of possibilities if you only do a little research and flip through a travel guide.

Lastly, cats. I am a HUGE cat person - I have three - and if at all possible I will put some form of cat into a story. They tend to end up able to talk in some way as well, which is hilarious because I generally don't like talking animals in what I read.

There you go! Now what kinds of things recur in your stories?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thank Goodness for Friends

I adore my friends, both those I've had for ages and all the new ones I've recently made (especially those now following my blog - thank you! =). But the friends my title refers to are not mine, but those of my MC. And thank goodness for them.

For the past few weeks I have been despairing over my Middle Blues, but I am here to tell you I have [hopefully] come up with a solution! Or two, actually.

First, after attending an amazing author talk by Aprilynne Pike at my writing group, I have decided to lower my word count bar from 100K to 80K (she said 70K was about the norm for YA). Immediately upon deciding this, sitting there in the front row listening to her outpouring of wisdom, I felt a bit of the weight lift from my shoulders. For days now I have been feeling that there is no way my story can stretch for 100K. When I originally set the count I thought it could (maybe even go over), but what with my current plot problems, definitely not. So now, although it means updating my progress bar will be a pain since it's in percentages and I'm horrible at math, I am halfway done with my story! Hallelujah! \(ToT)/

Second, since my MC has no interest in attending to the plot, I have decided that one of his friends will step up and get involved instead - and drag his lazy butt along to help. This way the MC stays true to character (because I couldn't change that part of him without throwing off his entire personality), but still has to deal with the plot. Brilliance! This is a true testament of why you create secondary characters for your MC to regularly interact with. You never know when you'll need someone to manipulate the MC to do what you need.

So now I'm halfway finished and the story is flowing again. For once, the Middle isn't looking so blue.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Discombobulated Me

Discombobulated: verb, to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate: "The author was discombobulated by her story."

(Word of Advice: never Google Images "discombobulated." It's very disconcerting.)

So I think I've found the main source of my Middle Block: I can't justify my MC having much to do with the plot.

(1) He's much too busy learning and training to waste energy solving a mystery that's really not his problem, (2) it's not in his nature to even want to, and (3) even if it was there is no reason the people in charge would allow him to go anywhere near it (never really an issue in books, but still a brick in the wall I find blocking my way).

I am tempted not to deal with it until the second draft, but if I leave it I know for a fact that there will be no second draft. When a first draft needs that much work I give up on it - one of my many flaws that has kept me from yet being published.

Needless to say: Ugh. Apparently a serious study of my story is required. Or at the very least a new plot angle. XP Now, where did I put that chisel...?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Even Law Has Its Laughs

Rule 1 of the AZ Rules of Civil Procedure states:

"[These rules] shall be construed to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action."

Speedy. *snicker* Inexpensive. *snickersnicker*

Whoever wrote this Rule never litigated anything. Lawsuits are rarely "inexpensive," and "speedy" and "lawsuit" are never used in the same sentence.

Speedy! *rolls on the floor laughing*

Inspiration Music

I just discovered the amazing band Freelance Whales (thank you @jadencoal and @lainitaylor!). Hannah is my favorite song right now - such fun and imagination - and I wanted to share it (and especially the lyrics) with you. Listen and read along. I hope it inspires you as well!

Hannah by Freelance Whales

Do me this solid if you would, pretty lady
Please grab your martini and meet me on the balcony
I've prepared a light show and you could fake a melody
We could argue over where and when the cymbal hits should be

Hannah takes the stairs, and I usually take the elevator
Every now and then, she offers me a lemon Now and Later
Please don't play the matchmaker, please don't be a player hater
If you dig her recent work, now you should go congratulate her

And if you're partial to the night sky
If you're vaguely attracted to rooftops

Hannah takes the stairs 'cause she can't tell
That it's a winding spiral case
Is she right side up or upside-down?

So, Hannah let your roots grow, let your blue veins show
If I need to take a breath, then you can take a trumpet solo
I'll work on the limbs if you work on the torso
And if it gets to be too much then you can lend a helping hand

And if you're partial to the night sky
If you're vaguely attracted to rooftops

Hannah takes the stairs 'cause she can't tell
That it's a winding spiral case
Is she right side up or upside-down?

Hannah takes the stairs 'cause she can't tell
That it's a winding spiral case
Is she outside-in or inside out?