Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Which I Explain My Blog Negligence

So, back in September I started dating this guy.

This guy is great.

Things were going well. I was constantly shocked he kept calling me since I'm such a spaz and he's, well, not. But he did keep calling. This was a good sign.

Fast-forward to the week of Thanksgiving. He came over to my apartment and we were watching Castle (because Nathan Fillion is The Best.) and then said, "I have some news that's going to upset you." He then proceeded to tell me that he'd be moving to Singapore for a (kick-ass) new job. He'd be there for a year. He'd leave in January.

Now, sometimes I have this curious problem of overreacting. And y'all. I seriously overreacted. I turned into Bella Swan for about a week and a half. That lead to a lot of wallowing and not a lot of reading.*

Then after Thanksgiving, Boyfriend and I sat down and talked about everything and reached an agreement on how to proceed. (We are going to proceed, for those of you who were wondering.) But because he's leaving January 7th and I basically won't see him (with the exception of maybe two weeks when I take my vacation to go visit him.) for a year, I've been spending as much time as possible with him. Which means that I've been doing not a lot of reading and a lot of spending-time-with-Boyfriend.

But fear not! I love this here bloggy blog something fierce and I WILL return to it in 2012 when I will have beaucoups of time to read and blog and not be sad at all.

So! That's my story. Judge me as you see fit. Leave your judgment in comments if you so choose. And, above all, have a wonderful, fabulous, joyous, relaxing, delicious, merry, and bright holiday season!

*For the probably two of you who are curious about the status of my work-in-progress, it's still around. It's also be neglected due to my emotional derailment/realignment. But I'll start working on it again soon. Thank you for your concern. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: Between the Sea and Sky

Title: Between the Sea and Sky
Author: Jaclyn Dolamore
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Pages: 240
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Format: ARC Tour by Good Choice Reading (Thank you!)

For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren—the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood—a dashing young man named Alander, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alander band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air.—Goodreads

The problem with writing a book about mermaids is that the demographic of readers in YA is probably familiar with Disney's The Little Mermaid and will then, even if they try really hard not to, compare it to the beloved movie. As I picked up this book to read it I said, literally out loud, "I will not compare this to The Little Mermaid."

And then about halfway through I found myself thinking, "Esmerine is sort of a mix of Ariel and Belle." (And she really is.) I just couldn't help myself. But that aside, Between the Sea and Sky (btw, I adore the title) is a really sweet little love story.

However, I had a couple issues with the book. The first is that the main premise of the book—Esmerine leaves her water world to search for her sister Dosinia when she goes missing and Esmerine is JUST SURE she's been kidnapped by those evil, lustful human men—annoyed me. I couldn't understand why Esmerine never considered that Dosinia had run away (this isn't a spoiler, as it's in the description provided to Goodreads by Bloomsbury). It was just so obvious to me and I sort of wanted to slap some sense into Esmerine.

Then, and this is admittedly a small thing, I couldn't ever figure out what was going on with the time period. Sometimes the clothing and settings and even speech patterns used seemed very Renaissance, and then without any reason at all, it would switch to something akin to Jazz Age America. It probably shouldn't have been such a big deal, but I was seriously distracted by it.

In the end, the story is very sweet. If you love mermaids and quests for identity and run-away sisters and like books that are light on the sexytimes, you'll love this book.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tune In Tuesday: Josh Ritter . . . Again

It's no secret that I have a major crush on Josh Ritter's music. (And let's be honest, Josh Ritter.)

The other day I was in a very Ritter kind of mood and headspace while I was writing (I cannot write when in silence. Silence distracts me.) and "Naked as a Window," a song that I've heard probably a million times came on.

But for some reason, this time it seemed louder than all the other times. It's a short song—not even a minute and a half long. But it is gorgeous. It's simple and honest and heartbreaking, but heartwarming too.

It really did a number on me and I put the sucker on repeat for about two days. It's a quiet little thing and it slips under the radar pretty easily. I'm glad it decided to scream at me.

BTW, in this video, "Naked as a Window" is used as the intro song to "Girl in the War" another of my fave Ritter songs. :) 

Happy Tuesday!

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What I'm Writing: NaNoWriMo Week Three Update

This week in the wonderful world of writing-frenzy, I'm struggling a little.

I'm a few thousand words behind word count. I mean, not to the point that it's going to be impossible to catch up, but still. I'm behind.

And it's all because I think I've written my poor little characters into a corner that I am not a fan of, and I'm not quite sure how to get them out of it without GOING BACK and REVISING which are kind of the only NaNo-NoNos.

So. That.

And the only other way I can see getting the out of this stupid, pointy corner is to change the ending I've conceived of all along.

I am loath to do that.

When I started this, I had a very specific vision of the ending. It was going to be spectacular and breathtaking and leave my eventual-readers going "Oh!" But not in a cliffhanger-way. This was going to be in a "I-can't-believe-she-did-that" kind of way. And I was all excited about it. The ending was what was really going to make this book different and leave every pub house IN THE WORLD clamoring to buy it up.*

And now I think I have to change it. Or go back and revise. Or something.


So those are my writing woes for this week. Hopefully after going to brunch and getting day drunk and then seeing Breaking Dawn will give me some INSPIRATION. *grins*

And, for those of you who have any sort of interest in what my crazy draft-writing contains, here is your snippet for the week (Be warned! There are probs typos/word-choice issues. You may judge, just don't judge too harshly.):

As I turned to go to the register, I ran into a person. I still had my headphones in, so I mumbled an apology without looking up and kept making my way to the front of store. But I realized I wasn’t going very far since the person I ran into had grabbed my hand, which was highly weird. With my free hand I yanked the headphones out of my ears and whipped around, trying all the while to free my enslaved hand.
 “Um, please let go of . . . ” my words trailed off as my brain recognized the person I was looking at. Then I picked up again with, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” If there was ever any doubt I was a New Yorker through and through, it was all lost with that exclamation. 

©Bethany Larson, 2011

*I do not know if this is going to happen as I am not any sort of oracle or psychic. If I were, this whole writing a book endeavor would probably be MUCH EASIER.

Friday, November 18, 2011

TGIF: Giving Bookish Thanks

Believe it or not, today is the Friday before Thanksgiving. I would reflect on where the time has gone, but that sounds depressing so I will SKIP it. Instead, I will write far too much about the question the lovely, fabulous, wonderful Ginger at GReadsBooks has posed this week:

Giving Thanks: Which books are you most thankful for receiving from other bloggers, friends, family members, or publishers?

Where She Went is the first ARC I received from a publisher. It surprised me in the mail, about six weeks after I'd started this blog. I was FLOORED that I'd received it because I didn't request it (Hell, I didn't even know how to request an ARC at that point) and because there'd been SO MUCH buzz surrounding it. I'm still just shocked that I got this and thoroughly confused as to how it came to me. But I loooooooved it and am so so so glad and honored that I received an ARC. 

I was the first of my friends to jump on the Harry Potter train, but not without a lot of prodding and a good bit of boredom. I received this book from my grandmother the week that it was first released in the U.S. I was eleven and in that period where I did not want to read anything with a cartoon of a boy on the cover. I don't even think I read the jacket copy. I just put it aside and continued to read my Magic Attic Club and Saddle Club and every other girly series that ended in "Club" books. But my grandma kept calling my mom and asking if I'd read the book yet. So, finally, after several conversations where my mom was like, "Bethany, just read the book so she'll stop asking." I sat down and read it. And I couldn't stop. When I finished it, I immediately re-read it. So, yay for my grandma and her book-picking skillz! :)

So, this one is sort of abstract in that my introduction to John Green didn't come in book-form. My super-awesome sister sent me an email one day that included this video with the message "OMG YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS." So I watched and was like, "HOLY SHIZZBALLS THIS IS THE BEST." So I started watching the Vlogbrothers videos from the beginning forward. I developed a huge huge huge crush on John Green and when I realized he writes books that are, you know, buyable I immediately sought out everything by him. And then I read the two books I could get my hands on at the time—Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines—in order of publication, so my first John Green book was LfA. And I fell in love. [I have a feeling I'll tell more of this story during John Green Week, so I'll go ahead and stop here.] But without my sister sending me that inaugural video, I probably would have never read these books. 

I got Hourglass via my very first ARC tour, hosted by Heather at Fire and Ice (whom I am also thankful for for sending me The Name of the Star). From the first time I saw the stinkin' cover for Hourglass, I KNEW this was a book for me. I was SO excited to get in on the ARC tour, and couldn't wait until it showed up on my doorstep. Fittingly, it arrived while I was watching a Doctor Who marathon on BBC America. And it was literally love at first word for me. I was super sad that I had to send it to the next person because I wanted to keep the book and love it and pet it and kiss it and read it again. But! I couldn't do that and I wanted others to have the opportunity to read it as well. 

And these days I have TWO copies of Hourglass. *ponders what to do with the extra copy*

Alright, so that is my very long-winded post. I could go on and on about this. And I should probably take a moment to give a HUMUNGOUS thank you to Miss Ginger for sending me not only her ARC of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, but for also buying me a copy of Sloppy Firsts (which I have yet to read. I KNOW, I'm on it.) and for just being an all-around awesome blogger and friend and person. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a fabulous Thanksgiving!

TGIF is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Dreamless

Title: Dreamless (Starcrossed 2)

Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 400
Release Date: May 29, 2012

As the only Scion that can enter Hades at will, Helen descends to the Underworld in search of a way to overcome the Furies and end the cycle of revenge that has cursed the Scions. But she’s running out of time. Each descent weakens her both in mind and spirit. A mysterious stranger might be her only salvation, but the price may be her love for Lucas Delos.

As an unforgettable love triangle emerges, Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding. The eagerly awaited sequel to the internationally bestselling Starcrossed, Dreamless delivers with a huge emotional impact that will leave readers satisfied—and longing for more.

So, I saw Immortals this past weekend. While I had a grand ol' time watching the gore and the shirtlessness and Henry Cavill's awesome spear attacks and spin moves and The Chick who Played Athena's Buffy-inspired Fan Kicks of Doom, I found myself wanting something . . . else.

And I found myself thinking about Starcrossed, a book about demigods I read earlier this year. And then I remembered that there is to be a sequel! So I took my happy little self over to the Goodreads website and lo and behold there is a cover and a description and release date for the sequel, Dreamless.

And it's going to be all kinds of hellish with Miss Helen going off to Hades and chillin' with those kids. And apparently one of them is a mysterious stranger. Interest = peaked.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Reactionary Reading: Shatter Me

Welcome to the another edition of Reactionary Reading, a feature where I share my reading notes with all of y'all! This week I'm publishing my notes on Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, a book that I LOVED reading. 

For those of you new to this feature, there are a couple THINGS you probably need to know about it. So, here's how it works:

I have gone through and redacted major spoiler information. (Yep, just like the government does.) If you've read the books, or if you don't care about being spoiled, feel free to highlight the redacted portions so you can read the text. (It's like a game! Sort of.) But there might still be minor spoilers involved. So if you're the type that hates knowing things before you read, DO NOT PROCEED. And please keep in mind that this is all in good fun and are just my thoughts and opinions. Also, bad language abounds.

So without further ado, may I present my notes on Shatter Me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What I'm Writing: NaNoWriMo Week Two Update

This week has been hard for me. Not because the writing part of the equation was hard, but because the oh-so crippling self-doubt snuck into my brain and laid a whole bunch of evil eggs there.

This happens from time to time. I'll be chugging along on my work in progress (WIP) and I'll be feeling great about it and then, right as I'm really hitting my stride this supremely evil voice from somewhere in my brain whispers, "Why are you wasting your time? I mean, out of all those people who want agents and want to be published, why would anyone ever pick you out of a slush pile? Do you really think you are talented enough to have an agent be so impressed with your miserable little manuscript that they'll actually want to represent you? That they'll actually want to spend time and energy otherwise used on writers worth a damn on you?"

I won't lie to y'all, that stupid voice is staggering and crippling and makes me want to curl up in a ball and rock back and forth. It's really just the worst. And sometimes it's really hard to not listen to it. Because I think, "You know, Evil Voice, you are right. If I just give up now, I'll really benefit from not having to go through the sting of rejection letters and critiques and mean reviews. And! I'd have so much more free time! And I'd see my friends more often! And I could just sit and watch all those TV shows I want to watch! And I'd sleep more!"

This voice of self-doubt really hit me hard this week. I spent a lot of last weekend writing and really loving where my manuscript was headed and then BAM. There was The Evil Voice. It was so convincing that I actually took a couple days in the middle of the week away from my WIP thinking that if I walked away from it and didn't feel the need to go back to it, I wouldn't.

But of course I felt that pull. On Friday I woke up able to see an entire scene that had been giving me fits earlier in the week. I could hear dialogue, as if my characters had come to life and I was just listening to them have a conversation. (I've never claimed to be normal.) And if that weren't enough, a couple characters I actually had walked away from about a year ago started whispering to me too. (I missed them a whole bunch. I'm glad they're back.)

So, for me, what this all boils down to is this: Yes, I desperately (so, so desperately) want to be agented (I think I made that word up) and published. I've wanted to be published since I was seven-years-old, and that dream isn't going to go away. I want it so badly that it hurts. And sometimes I do this really unhealthy thing where I go into a bookstore and stare at the spot where my book would go on the shelf. Normally this makes me cry a little. And yes, obviously, I would love for this manuscript to be the one that gets me an agent and is sold to my dream pub house and sells lots o' copies and gives me piles o' monies.

But if this isn't the magic manuscript that gives me all of those things, I'll live. (I'll be sad, but it won't kill me. I don't think.) I have other stories rattling around in my brain and characters who want to be brought to the page. And most importantly, I'll keep trying. I'll keep writing and learning and honing and growing and hopefully one day (please let it be in the not-too-distant future) all of my publication dreams will come true. But if they don't . . .

If they don't I guess I'll just self-pub. ;)

Friday, November 11, 2011

TGIF: Love-Hate Relationships


It's been a long week.

But! Now it's bright, shiny Friday and I have plans tonight with my Nigel friend whom I haven't seen in far too freaking long and I am EXCITED.

I'm also a big fan of Ginger's question o' the week. So let's to it, shall we?

Love-Hate Relationship: Which characters from a book do you love to hate?

See, this is weird for me because I tend to really like villains. I have this whole theory as to why and it's very involved and high-fallutin' because I used it as the basis of a paper I wrote during grad school, so I will not share it here. But it pretty much boils down to I really like villains because they are more interesting than heroes. (Debate me in comments if you wish.) 

But now that I've written all of that it occurs to  me that a character I love to hate doesn't have to be a villian. Ohhhh well. So, here's my list! 

This is EXACTLY how I picture Mimi.
Mimi Force (Blue Bloods): Now this is a character that I started out despising with every fiber of my being, but who has really really grown on me. In fact, I might go so far as to say that she is my favorite character of this series (other than Oliver, obvs.). But! She does things and I'm like, "Dammit Mimi! Stop that!" But if she actually did stop that, there'd be no drama and therefore no story. So, carry on, Mimi. 

Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter): Good God, do I love Draco. But, he was such a little douche in the first few books that it was impossible to not hate him. And then he grew up and I found him really compelling. Especially in the last couple books, I was constantly wondering about what he was up to and wanted a little more of his story. And I sort of wanted him and Hermione to hook up. I absolutely cannot explain that. But there it is. 

Lydia Bennett (Pride and Prejudice): Lydia Bennett is The Worst. She's vapid and silly and idiotic. (SPOILERS ahead for those of you who haven't read P&P. BTW, you need to right that wrong RIGHT NOW.) But if there were no Lydia Bennett, then Elizabeth may well have run off with Wickham and DEAR GOD. So I love Lydia because she allowed for Darcy to shine. (And Oh, how he shone! *swoons*)

So there you have it! I hope y'all all have a wonderful weekend ahead of you. And if you're going to YALLFest, have a rockin' time and give big hugs to everyone you see for me. Also, I am super jealous of you to the point that you sicken me. But do not let that worry you. Enjoy your time anyway. While you're there, I will be . . . *runs to bookshelf to re-read my tattered copy of Pride and Prejudice for the thousandth time *

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: Eve

Title: Eve
Author: Anna Carey
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: October 4, 2011

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her. 

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust...and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.—Goodreads

I'll be up front: Eve is bleak. Like, zombie apocalypse (and not in the funny way) bleak. There are hardly any people left. Cars and homes and buildings are just abandoned and falling apart. And if you're a smart and lovely eighteen-year-old orphan who has just realized that her future does not hold a great job, as she was led to believe, and you decide to run away from the only home you've ever known into the FREAKING WOODS to try and get to a utopian-sounding place that may or may not actually exist, all of this bleakness becomes even more bleak.

The world Carey creates in Eve is intense and terrifying in a very real way. She does a beautiful job of describing death and decay and straight-up hopelessness. And she also does a very intriguing job of imagining what education would be like in a world where the population is emaciated—read: girls are taught that men are terrifyingly carnal and awful by reading Romeo and Juliet. (That actually made me laugh a little because I'm not one who loves Romeo and Juliet.) So when Eve meets a boy—the oh-so chivalrous Caleb—who is nice to her, she is VERY DUBIOUS of him. And then he takes her to his Cave of Boys and she realizes that everything she was taught was a perversion of the truth.

From there, Eve becomes the Wendy to Caleb's group of Lost Boys. And just about the time that I was getting comfortable with the story and thinking that things would maybe end up being okay for everyone, THINGS BECAME  NOT OKAY. And they stayed not okay.

By the end of Eve, my heart was broken into about three thousand pieces and I was so, so grateful for my family and friends and job and apartment and food and world. And I desperately wanted the next book in this trilogy, because it ends in a place of OMG WTF.

Although, I will say this—if this book was a stand-alone, I think I'd be weirdly ok with how it ends. But I'll stop talking about the ending of this book now and just tell you to go read it if you so choose. :)

Overall, Eve is a gorgeously devastating book. If you like a good dystopian read, definitely check this one out. And if you're not so much into dystopia but are willing to give it a shot because you are a person who likes good books and are open-minded enough to try anything, this might be the one to sway you in favor of the dystopian genre. But know this: this is not dystopian-light. It is straight up unhappy.

But you know what's not unhappy? CALEB. If nothing else, read the book for Caleb. *swoons*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Timepiece

Title: Timepiece
Author: Myra effing McEntire, y'all!
Publisher: Egmont USA
Release Date: June 12, 2012 (ROAR!!!!)


Also, let's chat about this ARC cover. The photography is by Lissy Laricchia. If you ever find yourself bored and wanting to look at something pretty and whimsy and gorgeous, check out her website and her Flickr. It makes me wish that I was good at photography. And, you know, art. My super-incredible sister got those skillz instead of me.

ANYWAY. Timepiece is going to be magnificent. You should probably just go ahead and pre-order the book now. And if you haven't read Hourglass yet, GET ON THAT. And buy copies of it for everyone you know as presents for Christmas. Which is less than six weeks away. (Let that sink in for a second.)

Waiting on Wednesday is weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tune In Tuesday: Milo Greene

So, about a week and a half ago, I went to see The Civil Wars in concert.

This was very exciting for me.

But what was more exciting was that I ended up TOTALLY SUPER-DIGGING their opening act, Milo Greene.

I had seen the name on the website when I bought my tickets for the show, but I didn't really take the time to look up who Milo Greene is or what his music sounds like. I figured if he's opening for The Civil Wars, he can't be bad.

Turns out, Milo Greene is a band and not a single person. And it also turns out that they are AWESOME. They all switch instruments and sing prettily and they're all really attractive and sometimes there is a BANJO. Y'all know how I feel about banjos. AND they did a crazy-amazing cover of "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens and I just about died.

They don't have their music on iTunes (I assume because they don't want to pay Apple the 30% of their profits, which I wouldn't either, so more power to them) and there aren't a ton of YouTube videos yet, but here is what I found:

And, if you visit their website you can hear four of their songs. But pretty much the only place to get all of their stuff is LIVE. Which is sort of genius. They're on tour with The Civil Wars through the end of this year, so if you can get tickets at a show near you, I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it.

Tune in Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Review: Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer

Title: Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer
Author: Cecily von Ziegesar
Publisher: Poppy
Release Date: October 3, 2011

Welcome to New York City's Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep-sometimes with each other. It's a luxe life, but someone's got to live it . . . until they die.
So begins Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer, a re-imagined and expanded slasher edition of the first groundbreaking Gossip Girl novel, featuring all new grisly scenes and over-the-top—Goodreads
Alright, I'll be honest—I've never read the Gossip Girl books. I watched the first couple seasons of the TV show until I couldn't stand it any longer—which was around season three or four, I think. Whenever it was that Hilary Duff joined the cast. NOT that I have anything against Hilary Duff—actually, I quite like her—but for some reason I just got really uninterested in the story lines at that point. 
ANYWAY. That's all to say that when I heard about Gossip Girl, Pyscho Killer I was very, very excited about it. I thought the idea of it was brilliant and very American Psycho (which I adore), and I just knew that the characters in Gossip Girl—which I always assumed was more of a satirical comment on how the kids of the wealthy live anyway—would be quite convincing as serial killers. 
Ok, for those of you who have read the Gossip Girl books, here's what you should know: this is more of a mash-up (à la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) than it is a new book. In fact, Cecily von Ziegesar actually re-wrote the first book. Since I've never read them, I don't actually know how much of the text matches the first, but what I can tell you is this—Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer is delightfully rompy. 
Sometimes it's a little over the top, and the ways in which von Ziegesar decides to kill people can be a little, well, gross, but most of the time it's really funny and biting in its wit and evaluation of the 1% (as we're apparently calling the crazy-wealthy these days). 
So, if you're a little like me in that you enjoy ridiculously gory blood-lust every now and again, and you don't mind your serial killers wearing designer labels and using weapons like swords from the Met to exact their slightly detached vengeance, then you will greatly enjoy this. 
I'd also recommend this book for people who REALLY DISLIKE Gossip Girl. Since, you know, the characters all hate each other too and decide that they need to slaughter each other in magnificently evil ways. It really is very death-heavy. A LOT of characters die. Including a couple major characters. *grins wickedly* 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What I'm Writing: NaNoWriMo Week One Update


So this week in NaNoWriMo has been quite illuminating for me as a writer. Namely in that I didn't realize most writers write without going back and looking at what they've written.* This BOGGLED my mind. Maybe it's because I'm paid to be an editor. Maybe it's because I find it fun to edit, because that's when things really start to take shape and the words start to sing. Or maybe it's because I'm the slowest writer in the world. Which is something I have learned this week. But I think mostly what I've learned is that I have to make time to write everyday.

Now, normally I do this anyway. During my lunch break, when I find myself with a couple minutes of nothing to do at work, when I get home and have an hour to kill before plans/TV/cooking/cleaning/etc. But when you really sit down and say to yourself, "Today I must write 2,000 words or I will miss a deadline," that's really when things start to happen. (I have a Master's of Journalism. Deadlines are a big deal to me. I mean, they have the word dead in them for a reason, right?) And you know what? I'm SO EXCITED about where things have headed in my horribly working-titled Airport Book.

Things I Have Learned This Week:
  • I am a slow writer. I edit as I go. I check for continuity. I weigh my words and reconsider scenes and re-read what I've written just to make sure that it's JUST RIGHT before moving on. Which brings me to the fact that I . . .
  • Write in sequence. When I started Airport Book, I wrote the beginning and the end, and then outlined the rest. So I know exactly what happens, every step of the way. And while sometimes when I'm writing a scene, I suddenly think "Wow, I'm in not in the mood to write something flirty. I kind of want to write an argument." I don't do it. Because it's not what happens next. I do make a note of the things I'd have my characters say to each other, or what emotions they'd be feeling, but then I dive right back into the flirty scene I was loathe to write thirty seconds earlier. I don't really know why I do this, but I do know that writing out-of-sequence kind of makes me want to die. So. THAT. 
  • It's ok to be unsure of my words. Both Veronica Roth and Maureen Johnson wrote really great blog posts about this that really spoke to me. They talked about the importance of just getting the damn words on the paper and not worrying about minute details like if the word I just used is actually a word or if I called the character by the wrong name. Because those things can be easily fixed LATER. Never have I once ever ever ever thought about writing in this way. But you know what? I've started to do it (I was unsure of a minor character's name and, I swear to God, I wrote That Dude Whose Name I Can't Remember) and it's REALLY LIBERATING. *grins*
Alright! So now I'm stealing an idea from author extraordinaire and fellow WriMo, Jeri Smith-Ready, and giving y'all a little snippet of the words that have happened this week. (Yes, this does mean I violated the DON'T GO BACK rule, but. I love y'all and want you to stay around. And I had to go back to find something to show you.)

So, this little snippet of (WARNING: UNEDITED.) dialogue is between Willa and her friend Ana and they're talking about the fact that Willa and Dan are considering the possibility of trying to have a long-distance relationship.

“What do you mean?” I asked, suddenly uncomfortable. I realized I was fidgeting by pulling the grass around me. I wasn’t sure if I could be fined for that—after all, Central Park is a national park and defacing it is a crime—so I willed myself to stop uprooting the poor grass and then sat on my hands for good measure.   
“Let me spell it out for you. You live in New York. He lives in Dallas. I understand that this is the age of the Internet and video chatting and such, but, girl, you’re gonna need something tangible every now and then.”  
I hadn’t really thought of it that way. I mean, obviously I realize that being someone’s girlfriend typically involves kissing (and more-than-kissing), and, yes I did enjoy the touching business at the airport when I last saw Dan. But it’s not like I was sitting in New York fantasizing about what Dan and I would be doing if we were in the same place. 
Well. Not a lot, at least. 
“Yeah, but Dan and I do see each other once a month,” I pointed out. 
“For, like, thirty minutes,” Ana said flatly. I hated her right then. 
 “But that’s better than nothing!” 
“Willa, I get it. I understand that you and Dan have this massive thing for each other and I approve of you pursuing it. But I also think you need to be realistic. You both have needs and while talking on the phone and Skyping are both very nice modern conveniences, thirty minutes in a very public place once a month isn’t going to be enough at some point.” 
I hated how right she was. 
“Well it’s going to have to be enough. And besides, it’s not like Dan and I have always had a physical relationship. We’re more evolved than that.” I realized exactly how elitist that sounded, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be right. This was my relationship, not Ana’s. She didn’t—couldn’t—understand it. And, sure, all of the making out and giving each other chills from a touch and hand holding in public is nice, but it’s not essential. Besides, all of those people from, like, the Dark Ages to the 1950s were able to suppress their PDA-urges, so why couldn’t I?             
“We’ll see exactly how evolved you are in two months when you’re practically humping every boy who walks by you,” Ana said drily before adding, “Do my shoulders look like they’re burning?” 

©Bethany Larson, 2011. 

*When I say most, I mean the ones who have written blog posts about writing without going back to edit/perfect until AFTER the book is done.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tune In Tuesday: Silver Swans

Happy November everyone!

I considered being an uber-dork and trying to find a song that is November-centric for this Tune In Tuesday . . . but then decided I shouldn't do that.

Instead! I'm going to give you a song I discovered while watching Revenge last week. Now, if you're not watching Revenge, you really should be because 1) 'tis awesome and 2) I recap it for Off-Color TV.

Anyway! The song is actually a cover of "Anyone's Ghost" by The National, who is one of my favorite bands. When the song started in the episode, I immediately perked up and was like, "I KNOW THIS SONG. BUT NOT LIKE THIS." And then I took to the YouTubes and found it and have basically been listening to it on repeat ever since.

So here 'tis! The Silver Swans' version of "Anyone's Ghost."

Tune In Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Ginger at GReadsBooks.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo!


As some of you may know, I'm writing a BOOK. (Have I mentioned this once or twice? Maybe?) And the thing about writing books is that it takes a lot of freaking time. And effort. And brain power. And typing. And backspacing. And re-typing. And sighing. And procrastinating. And  freaking out. Repeat.

You know, those things.

 I've been trapped in the backspacing-retyping-sighing-procrasting-freaking out circle for about three weeks, which is entirely too long. Luckily, there is a lovely month called NOVEMBER. Some lovely people dubbed it National Novel Writing Month, which was very lovely of them indeed. So starting tonight at midnight, I will be NaNoWriMo-ing in hopes that I finish my freaking book.

I already have around 25,000 words written, so my goal is to finish the next 50,000 during this month. That has me writing a little over 1,600 words a day. Which is actually pretty doable as long as I stay on top of it. Now, the only crappy thing about this is that there is this kind of big deal holiday toward the end of November. So I really need to take that into account. (Although, I don't know if I'll be w/ the fam in Arkansas or not. If not, I won't have as much to worry about because I can just sit at home watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade [and then the Dog Show] and typing and typing and typing whilst eating an entire pumpkin pie. By myself.)

ANYWAY. I'm going to do my best to blog AND NaNoWriMo AND review TV shows AND have some semblance of a social life. We'll see how that goes. (My best guess? NOT WELL.)

But I'll definitely give you guys updates about my NaNoWriMo-ing throughout the month. If you'd like to follow my progress, my username on NaNoWriMo is bethanyelarson. If you're interested in joining NaNoWriMo, click here. And if you're interested in donating to the organization, click here.

Hooray NaNoWriMo!

Aaaaaaand! Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

TGIF: Spooktacular Reads

*sneaks in* Boo!

Ok, I know. You may all insert an eyeroll. But I had to!

This week the incredibly lovely Ginger at GReadsBook has asked:

Spooktacular Reads: Which books do you consider festive Halloween reads? Which stories have chilled you to the bone?

Oh this is gonna be long-winded! I tend to like books that are pretty dark and have a high creep/WTF-factor. But, I'm not necessarily into horror books. Because they give me nightmares. If you want straight up horror, check out Midnyte Reader. Anyway, I've divided my picks up a bit. Here's my recent list: 

No one who knows me will be surprised by this, but Maureen Johnson's (LOVE HER) The Name of the Star is a really great ghost story. 

The most haunting book I've read so far this year has to be Fury by Elizabeth Miles. It's not necessarily scary, but GEEZ does it have some creepy moments. 

The book with the most HOLY WTF?! is hands-down The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by the super-fab Michelle Hodkin. 

If you'd like a series to dive into, then definitely Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder

Also, ANYTHING by Neil Gaiman. He's a bad-ass. 

And now for the kickin' it old school list!: 

Be warned! Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is quite sad in addition to being creepy. 

Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (I work down the street from Sleepy Hollow and am going on the Sleepy Hollow cemetery lantern tour TONIGHT!!!!!) 

Bram Stoker's Dracula. Duh. 

Y'all, there are so many great book with high creep factors. SO. MANY. I'm sure I've left gaping holes in this list and y'all who are well-versed in horror are laughing at me, but . . . I tried. 

Now I have a question for y'all. Have any of you read The Hollow series by Jessica Verday? It's been on my radar for a bit, but I can't find the damn books anywhere and I don't like buying books I haven't already read. So! If any of you can definitely tell me that they're worth the monies, I will buy them. :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Saving June

Title: Saving June
Author: Hannah Harrington
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 22, 2011

When her older sister commits suicide and her divorcing parents decide to divide the ashes, Harper Scott takes her sister's urn to the one place June always wanted to go: California. On the road with her best friend, plus an intriguing guy with a mysterious connection to June, Harper discovers truths about her sister, herself and life.—Goodreads

This is a book I probably never would have read. I shy away from death books. I don't necessarily have an issue with death, I just don't like to surround myself with lots of death-type things. Ok, that's not true since I watch A LOT of really gory, death-related television. Maybe it's because when I read, I want to have a good time. That sounds silly, I know, but I honestly don't normally read books that are forthcoming in their being about (let's be honest: non-supernatural) death.

So what changed my mind? The Twitterverse EXPLODED with nothing but praise and love and YOU-MUST-READ-THIS. And because I don't like to be left out, I decided to give it a shot.

Verdict: the Twitterverse was right.

Hannah Harrington's debut novel, Saving June, is great. And while it's about death, it's more about coming to grips with things out of your control than it is about, you know, death. In a lot of ways, it's a coming of age book. It's also a ROAD TRIP novel, and y'all know how I feel about those.

So while I was basically hard-wired to like this book, there were a couple things that really endeared it to me. First are the CRAZY amount of Tom Waits references. (Harrington! We need to HANG OUT!) Because this is a road trip novel, there is the requisite amount of music in this book. And the music selections are (in the words of Ferris Bueller) choice. A mix of indie and classic rock and heavy metal and country and guilty pleasures. It's perfect.

 Then there's Laney, the best friend of Harper, the main character with the awesomesauce name. Now, Harper is pretty great (though completely lost) in her own right, but for some reason I really, really latched on to Laney. I felt for the girl, who's dealing with the loss of June herself, but also in the midst of some really heavy stuff of her own. And though she allows her focus on being a loyal friend to Harper to be an excuse to NOT deal with her shit, I still really adored her. I wanted to give her a giant hug and bake her cookies and then adopt her as my little sister. (Not that my little sister needs to be replaced. Au contraire actuellement. My lil' sis is THE BEST.)

Ok, so there's another component to this book that can't be ignored: Jake. Jake is Saving June's resident mysterious music snob who was connected to June in a way that no one but he understands. And, really, he's the key to the entire book. He's the one who offers to drive Harper and Laney and June's ashes to California. And he's one of those guys who is frustratingly perfect—good looking, but dangerous; smart, but reckless with his education; easy to open up to, but impossible to get to open up. You know, that guy. But y'all. The slow burn of it all is SO worth it.

Overall, Saving June is both everything and nothing that you expect. Yes, there are shenanigans. Yes, there are meltdowns.Yes, there's growth. But it's also highly comedic and surprising and warm and honest. I'm very glad that I listened to Twitter and gave this book a shot. If you're smart, you will too.

But don't take my word for it! Check out these other reviews:
Ginger at GReadsBooks
Carla at The Crooked Shelf
Tara at Fiction Folio
Anna at Anna Reads

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Future of Us

Title: The Future of Us
Authors: Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: November 21, 2011

It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on—and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.—Goodreads

I don't know how, but this book has totally flown under the radar for me. I KNOW that I've seen the title, but I never realized what it was about. I think maybe I thought it was something else I wasn't interested in? I don't know. But what I mean is this: THIS BOOK SOUNDS AWESOME.

Seriously, who hasn't thought about what it'd be like to be able to go back and talk to your younger self? Even if you're the kind of person who wouldn't want to change the outcome or any of the mistakes you've made, it'd still be incredible to let your younger  know that everything will be ok, or that they should probs study a little bit harder for that one test, or go to that party instead of studying.

Anyway. I'm in love with the premise of this book. And I'm sort of glad that I'm hearing about it late so that I don't have all that long to wait for it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Review: Shatter Me

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 342
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Format: ARC Tour from the lovely Tara at Fiction Folio

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.—Goodreads 

Reader-Bethany's Reaction to Shatter Me 
This book is crazy-good. Everyone should read it. Like, you should be at your favorite bookstore when it opens on the morning of November 15th and you should RUSH into the bookstore and buy all the copies so you can give them to people as presents. You and yours will thank me for telling you to do so.

You should follow the above advice for these reasons:
  1. Tahereh Mafi is a very, very gifted writer. Her verbs and metaphors are gorgeous and creative and curious and gut-wrenching. Instead of telling you how her characters feel, she forces you to feel it right along with them. She also employs the use of the strikethrough better than any way I've ever seen it used. It's inspired, really. 
  2. The story is wonderful. I described it to a friend as a dystopian X-Men.*
  3. The world building is really cool, but subtle. Which is nice. 
  4. ADAM. Oh holy bazoo, Adam. 
    • (Related: I have a bit of a thing for Warner, who is presented as the villain. Like, a weird Stockholm Syndrome thing for him. But, then again, I tend to over-sympathize with villains. However, I'm not sure if I think he truly is a villain. DO YOU SEE WHAT THIS BOOK HAS DONE TO ME?!)
  5. The characters are so well-crafted and Mafi allows them to evolve. 
  6. Juliette is real damn kick-ass too. 
  7. It's just really frackin' great. Entertaining and intense and emotional and unforgettable. 
 *This would be an AWESOME comic book. If a comic pub house hasn't already picked this up, they seriously need to. IMHO, I think Dark Horse would do a bang-up job of adapting it.

Writer-Bethany's Reaction to Shatter Me 
This book shook me.

Reading this has made me think differently about how I write. The way that Mafi uses her words is completely different from anything I've ever read. She takes words that I would never, ever, ever think to put beside each other in a sentence, lines them up, and forces you think about those words in a different way. It's truly masterful.

And then there's the way Mafi uses verbs. Her verbs are violent and inventive and magnificently gory. (e.g., "There are wire cutters carving holes in my heart.") I was fawning all over myself  and bouncing up and down and calling random people to read them sentences from this book because of the verb usage. SRSLY.

If I'm being completely honest, Shatter Me is the first book I've read in a long time where I've thought "I want to write LIKE THAT." And I'm sure that this book will inspire many young or aspiring writers to think the same thing. Mafi's voice is fresh and evocative and so, so, so inventive that I wish I could adopt it. But that would be weird and forced and disingenuous. So I won't.

But! What I can do is re-examine the way I write. Mafi's writing has made me look at my own and think "How can I make these words really come alive? And how can I make my reader feel what my character is feeling? And, ok, this section here is a little dry, which words can I use to shock my readers and keep them attentive?"

But let's be clear here—I'm not modeling my writing on Mrs. Mafi's. Her voice is hers and I will never write the way she does. But reading Shatter Me has definitely made me think about it differently, and, I'd like to think it's made both my writing and editing skills sharper and more attentive. Because, y'all, it's really easy to be lazy about your words or to find crutch words that feel natural, and then employ them over and over again. That's not fun. Mafi has fun with her words. She splashes around with them like a little kid. It's refreshing and eye-opening and jealous-making and OH-MY-GOD SOOO YUMMY.

In sum, this book is fantastic. Not only will it captivate you and keep you enthralled from page one on, it'll keep you guessing and laughing and crying. It will have make your heart bleed and break and pound right along with the characters'. But, you know, in a good way. For me, Shatter Me was more than a book—it was a watershed moment as both a reader and writer. Maybe it will be for you too.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What I'm Writing {5}: Screenwriting and Sociopaths

Well, hello there. 

This week I'm writing my life away, but working on a bit of a new project. (Meaning, I'm sort of stuck with Airport Book and not sure how to proceed, so I just started a different project. Because that makes sense?) 

Anyway, I'm trying my hand at screenwriting. I'm a big TV junkie and like to think that I write visually. A lot of times when I'm writing, I think of what the scene would look like on a screen, or what kind of shots might be used if it were being filmed. 

There are also a couple really cool, but really competitive screenwriting programs for new, inexperienced, aspiring television writers that I might submit to next year if I think my stuff is up-to-snuff. WE SHALL SEE. 

Anyway, the format of screenwriting is far more rigid than for writing books. And! I think it's incredible just how in control of things the writers actually are. They write in directions for the actors, camera shots, transition shots, scene setting—everything really. Screenwriters have to know every aspect of the filming, directing, and acting process. It's a little . . . intimidating, actually. (If you want a great example, check out the pilot for The Vampire Diaries. It's INCREDIBLY detailed.) 

Anyway, so my idea for a TV show is a really dark dramedy about a cheerleader who is a sociopath, but is doing her best to suppress her urge to kill everyone around her. It's creepy. It's fun. It's a really good way to take out my stress. If you're interested in my crack at an opening scene, check it out, after the jump.