Thursday, November 14, 2013

October 2013 Book Reviews

All YA this month:
 The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Lucy is a pianist. But she doesn't know if she wants to be. She quit. Sort of. But life is messy and beautiful. Does she want the music back?

A lovely and poignant book about families and their power over us, music, relationships, and following your heart.
 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This book, written around a series of real antique photos featuring bizarre or unsettling images, is a tale of loss, mystery, time-travel, monsters, and evolutionary jumps. Strange, dark, and at times creepy, this book might be just the thing for a youth with an interest in the weird. As a writer, the story-building process is interesting, considering his photographic inspiration.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I admit, I'm a little late to this party. But that doesn't mean I appreciated it any less.

An unconventional romance blossoms between two teen cancer patients, and as they face illness, mortality, and the nature of love, we are exposed to two raw, vulnerable human beings who, thanks to John Green's considerable talents, let us see their gooey centers.

I cried a lot.

Warnings on: language, sexual situations.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Based on his own experience, the author shows us a young man in crisis. He ends up in the mental hospital, surrounded by an interesting cast of characters. It's a rather quick read, and more of a study of depression than plot heavy. But for youth curious about psychiatric facilities and what it's like to suffer from mental illness, or for those with their own emotional burdens, Vizzini's narrative may offer something very valuable.

Warnings on: language, sexual situations, discussions of suicide.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Memorable Lines

So I started writing a new story today. The idea had been banging around in my skull for a couple weeks, then the story woke up roaring today. It starts out with a kicker of a first line, which made me want to jump up and say, "Hell yeah!"

But I was in the waiting room at Tyler's doctor. So I didn't.

There I was. Taking sips from my water bottle under the No Food Or Drink sign and listening to a dismal procession of top 40s on the office radio. I put my earbuds in and pulled out my writer's notebook.

I wrote a line as a gray, solid woman entered the room. She signed in at the front desk. Her loud tones were audible over my equally loud music, but I couldn't understand what she said. She proceeded to start a conversation with the gentleman to her left as another man came in to wait. He signed in and then sat down to join the conversation. The three of them then had a very loud and lively exchange about . . . something. I don't know what, because I couldn't hear the specifics. I could hear them though, which was surprising, not only because people are usually pretty reserved in waiting rooms, but my music was pretty loud.

I crossed off the first first line and wrote a second first line. And that was the good one. Overwhelmed with triumph, I looked around briefly to see who knew how awesome I was.

Nobody noticed. I wonder what they were talking about. Probably Obamacare. Or alligators. It was hard to tell based on their gestures. I wonder if these people were writers. Or even readers. I wonder if they like speculative fiction. I wonder if any of them watch The Walking Dead, or Firefly.

I wonder if any of them have read Ray Bradbury or Neil Gaiman. What would their favorite books be? At this point I feel like Bob Wiley in What About Bob? guessing Dr. Marvin's family names. "Oh wait, let me guess. I'm very good at this. That's Harriet. And then Ronny, Gretchen, and Rita. Err. . . wait, wait a second. Cecilia. Dorothy. And this is Kenneth and Bambi."

Oh wait, let me guess. I'm very good at this. Bridges of Madison County. Ben Hur. Slaughterhouse-Five and Eat. Pray. Love. Err . . . wait, wait a second. Twilight. the Attack of the Clones novelization. Yoga for Cats and Gone With The Wind. 

What was even the point of this post? Oh yeah, memorable lines. So I wrote the first line, and it was awesome. Then I wrote four lines after it. It was one of those moments when you say, "Wow, I'm pretty good at this." I wanted to stand up and read my first line to the waiting room. But their heated conversation about modern cinema (?) was too involved.

Call me Ishmael.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Happy families are all alike . . .
All this happened, more or less.
You better not never tell nobody but God.

I suppose I don't just mean first lines. I mean lines that stick out out. A line you remember years after reading it. Here's my favorite line ever. The first time I read it I was eight. And I knew Bradbury's wizardry was something I wanted to learn. It's from A Sound of Thunder:

"The meat settled, quivering."

Holy crap. That's an amazing line.

What have been your most memorable lines?

Monday, November 4, 2013


So my awesome books, fixed up and shiny, are available for FREE until Tuesday night.

That's a 100% off sale. Don't miss it! Tell all your friends.

They are available for Kindle OR for any major smartphone, tablet, iPod touch, laptop, or PC with the FREE Kindle app. Even if you don't intend to read them (but that would be dumb), download them and help me raise my numbers. Because you're nice like that. I can tell.