Tag Archive: Books

Farewell to October

October’s Writing

October’s cumulative word count is 29,953. I like to think a lot of that was written on The Last Assassin, but I’m honestly not sure. Approximately 7,300 was written on short stories.

I’ve prepped for NaNoWriMo, deciding on what I want my bullet journal word count tracker to look like for the month, doing a little bit more worldbuilding, working on The Last Assassin, stuff like that.

On top of my more pressing writing with The Dark War Trilogy, I’ve also come up with ideas for a couple of short stories to connect to it as well as two new worlds, one of which I’m fairly consistently thinking about and working on developing. I think it’s going to be really cool when it’s done, and I’m glad it’s being subtle enough to not get in the way of TDWT, lol.

October’s Reading

I’ve actually kind of done a lot of reading this month compared to most. I finished Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock and The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, and I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. I’m also in the midst of Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson, and The Darkling Child by Terry Brooks.

October’s Blogging

Because this has been really long in the past, I’ve decided to leave out the character interviews and weekly updates this month.

Mourning Marie – Short Story Sunday

The “Boxes” I Stick My Characters In

What Makes a Character Likeable

Charming – Short Story Sunday

My Story Binder

One Shot – Short Story Sunday

The Struggle of Sitting Down To Write

Book of the Month Review: Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

NaNoWriMo Pre-Update

NaNoWriMo Resource Round-Up

Book of the Month Review: Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker

This book… Oh my gosh… I’m half convinced that Rachel Coker wrote Chasing Jupiter on psychic paper. I relate to this book so much in so many areas. My feelings about this book can be summed up as follows:

I can’t believe that when I got this book I started reading and thought it was awful! WHY, Younger Self?! WHY?! This book is now in my top five favorite books. It made me FEEL, okay?! Very few books can do that! The only two other books that have done that (I think) are The Giver by Lois Lowry and Heartless by Marissa Meyer. But anyway…

This book was beautifully written, the main characters were well-developed, the MC (Scarlett)’s struggles and feelings were super relatable (her relationship with her best guy friend, okay? I relate so much!), and Cliff was just the most adorable kiddo ever! He and Cor would get along so well. ^-^

So I guess I’ll start with Scarlett’s overall life. Her brother is considered odd by everyone around, as is her grandfather, her parents aren’t the wealthiest people in the world, and she has a hippie older sister who’s quite independent. She has a lot on her shoulders, and she doesn’t understand why things are so hard and won’t get better. (ME, PEOPLE! I totally relate to that hopelessness!) She also has no friends, because her brother is weird and she sticks up for him.

She becomes friends early on with a boy, Frank, who sees past hers and her brothers’ peculiarities, and Frank is seriously the sweetest guy ever. ^-^ Her relationship with him is so relatable, though… Seriously, this relationship is the part of the book that makes me feel like Coker was writing about me. She and Frank ask each other random questions all the time, they joke around… There are some exact quotes that I’ll mention, because I was just like “O-O MEEEEEE.”

…A smile broke out on his face, slowly at first but then blossoming into a full-out grin. He had a wonderfully handsome face when he smiled, like the difference between a small flame and a blazing fire.

*******

Maybe that’s what our friendship was. It was the feeling that we didn’t have to think or explain. We could just sit in the darkness and watch the tadpoles just as easily as we could lie out in the heat and breathe in the smell of peaches and gravel, all without saying a word.

There was another one, but now I can’t find it. Oh well.

The emotions were beautifully written all around. Anger, love, frustration… Her relationship with Cliff (her brother) was amazing. I wish I were that gracious with my siblings. She gets frustrated with him, too, but for the most part she’s gracious with him and is able to effortlessly show him that she loves him.

The book does have its flaws. The biggest one was that I felt like Scarlett’s sister, Juli, didn’t really have much of a purpose in the book and was really underdeveloped.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

Another was that when she develops a crush on Frank, the pastor’s wife suggests that she tell Frank. That’s mostly just a minor annoyance, but it kind of precedes my next comment…

I was reading over the reviews on Goodreads and someone said it was unrealistic for her to be thinking of marrying Frank after just a few months and a crush on him. While I do understand that, to an extend, I also know that my brain works exactly that way. When I have a crush on someone, I tend to think forward to how they’d be as a husband. My brain totally skips over the whole dating/courting aspect of it, because I don’t see the point of having a crush on someone if that relationship won’t go somewhere in the long run. But that was basically a tangent.

***SPOILERS COMPLETE. PROCEED.***

The foreshadowing in the book was also really good. She follows the Checkov’s Gun rule quite well, and the Checkov’s Gun rule is that if there’s a gun on the table in act one it needs to go off in act two. Obviously it doesn’t only apply to guns, but that’s the basic theory. Rachel Coker did that very well.

Overall I thought this was an excellent book, it made me feel a lot, I read it all in one sitting (it’s only 221 pages), and it’s a new favorite. Definitely giving it five stars.

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The “Boxes” I Put My Characters In

People say it’s bad to put people in boxes, and the same applies to characters. I say that if you know they won’t fit neatly in the box it can help you get to know your character to put them in it. It can help you understand their values and flaws and strengths better. Here are the boxes I’m mostly talking about:

Harry Potter Houses: Yep. I’m a nerd. Although, not a Harry Potter nerd. I have yet to read it. (Long story short: It’s on my tablet and my tablet broke.) However, Pinterest and just HP’s overall popularity have pulled me into the fandom without reading it. I probably have a full mental list of every character who dies, and I am well-acquainted with the houses. I can accurately match my characters to a house, in most cases, and get backed up by a quiz.

Divergent Factions: Yep, more nerdiness. What can I say? I’m a bookworm, of course. I know few writers who aren’t. Anyway… I have read this one, and though I wasn’t a fan of the books I was fascinated by the faction system. This one helps me a lot in getting to know my characters, and it’s another that I can usually accurately match myself and then back up with a quiz.

MBTI: Meyers-Briggs is a sixteen-type system that measures your ratio of introvert-extrovert, intuitive-sensing, thinking-feeling, and judging-perceiving. This is one I can’t successfully assign my characters on my own because there are a lot of them and there are four pieces. I can almost always tell you whether a character is I or E (introvert or extrovert), but beyond that I entrust typing to the test.

Alignment: This is a new one that I haven’t used much yet, but is interesting. It’s a test that sets you in one of eight types: lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, true neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, or chaotic evil. This is another one that’s fairly easy for me to gauge myself, but I still go to the test to know for sure. (Not that tests are the be-all and end-all, but you know what I mean.)

As an example, I’ll use my character Livi Brooklyn and put her into each box.

HP: Prediction: Hufflepuff, through and through. Quiz reaction: Hufflepuff.

Faction: Prediction: Amity. Quiz reaction: Amity (Divergent, officially, but every answer is Divergent and Amity scored a lot higher than anything else.)

MBTI: Guess: ESFJ. Quiz answer: ENFP (I told you I’m not as good at predicting that one.) Ooh, and this slogan fits her perfectly: “What do you mean ‘life is boring’? Are we living on the same planet?”

Alignment: Guess: Chaotic good? Quiz answer: Lawful Good (with a lot of answers in neutral). Livi? Lawful? Huh.

I know that no one ever fits in one particular box, and characters shouldn’t be an exception, but if I know that she’s a Hufflepuff and Amity I know she’ll do anything for anyone. If I know that she’s an ENFP I know that she sees everything as fun (and if you search on Pinterest for “{insert MBTI type here}” it’ll pull up things that relate to that type. I have a character who’s board is currently dominated by these, if you’d like to see what I mean.) Looking over these gives me more of a feel for the character, too. Lawful Good tells me that she’s good (duh) and that she respects some authority, be that official authority or her own set of standards. These “boxes” all help me get to know the character better. (Fun fact: Livi’s first three are the same as my character Cordain’s, from The Heart of the Baenor, and the fourth might be too but I haven’t taken the test for him yet.) Boxes can be restricting, but when used properly they can actually have the opposite effect and help unleash the character.

Just for fun, here are the “boxes” I belong in. ;)

HP: Ravenclaw (tests have given me Ravenclaw and Gryffindor multiple times each.)

Faction: Divergent (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, and Erudite are all really close in the results.)

MBTI: INFP (This one has actually been steadily the same.)

Alignment: Lawful Neutral (a lot of mixed answers. I seem to truly be Divergent. ;))

How do you feel about “boxes” for character development? What HP house/Faction/MBTI type are you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. :)

Book of the Month Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

I started this book sometime before August (or maybe during August) and finally finished it on September sixteenth. It was very, very good, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads.

My favorite thing about this book was the characters. They were all well-written, well fleshed out, deep, enjoyable characters, with the possible exceptions of Giddon and the Leinid crew. Giddon seemed rather shallow to me, but even at that he was still well-written for who he is, I think. Po was certainly my favorite character; he’s fun to read because he’s clever and witty and flirtatious and he’s a good guy. That’s basically my checklist for if you want to write a character I’ll love reading. Jest from Heartless, Po from Graceling, Celaena from Throne of Glass, Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles… Yeah, it’s a long list. So of course I like Po. Bitterblue was my second favorite character. I couldn’t tell you quite why. I think because she’s so intelligent and understands so much about the characters around her. Katsa, the main character, comes in third. Though she was deep and complex, her personality wasn’t a favorite of mine, personally. She’s rather distant under most circumstances and takes a while to open up to other characters, and I tend to prefer reading characters who connect easily with other people, for some reason. She did connect very well with some of the characters around her, but her general character is aloof and distant.

I judge the worldbuilding as about a four out of five. I could tell that the world was well thought-out and deep, but I thought in the book we really only get to see the tip of that iceberg and I really wanted to see more. Leinid was the most fleshed-out of the kingdoms, and also my favorite. I’m sure that the former contributed to the latter, but it doesn’t help any that the other two countries that were really mentioned weren’t really very likable for… reasons. The two of them fed into each other, I think. I tend to like reading a deep world, so maybe I’m just looking for more from the book than is normal because of that. I do see that it has a lot of depth, just not a lot that we get to see in this book. Maybe in the other books there’s more detail given.

The plot also gets a four out of five. I really love the idea of Graces. I found that fascinating. I love Po’s Grace in particular, but all of the three showcased were fascinating to read and fit their characters well and just blended to create a really interesting story. The main plot was really interesting, as well. I felt that the antagonist was well-developed, just like all of the others, and even though he isn’t really seen much, he was really interesting to read when he was “on screen,” and even when he wasn’t. I love villains who personally affect the good guys. The antagonist did that with Katsa and Bitterblue, and to some extent with Po as well, more through Katsa and Bitterblue than as directly. He played with Katsa’s mind, both intentionally and not so intentionally, and we get to see her confidence falter as she’s faced with something she’s never faced before.

Unfortunately I must include a warning that there are about two scenes and a sentence that are rather inappropriate. It really disappoints me that so many of the really good books I’ve read have scenes in them that have to be skimmed. Why can’t people write clean fantasy with the same depth of worldbuilding and characters?

Other than those couple of spots, though, this book was great. I don’t feel comfortable recommending it because of those few scenes, but I really enjoyed it.

Book of the Month Review: The Collective by R.S. Williams

Well, I was planning on having this showcase the best thing I’d read this month, but The Collective was so bad I had to feature it instead. I started marking it up about halfway through and it’s now covered in red ink.

The Collective is a historical fiction/sci-fi following two main characters who go back in time to the 1700s to stop time from being altered. In theory this would make an interesting book, but in reality it was severely underwhelming.

The first issue with The Collective is that the relationships don’t make sense. Everyone falls in love instantly (something I’ll cover in the next point), and even the friendships make very little sense. The main characters, Tilly and Jenny, supposedly become great friends over the course of the book, but it comes across forced and artificial because for one thing they’re not even together for half the book, and then they just suddenly are great friends. I get that people sometimes bond together because of dangerous circumstances in which they need to get along to survive or get something done, but this took it too far. And both of them set my teeth on edge with romantic relationships. Each one supposedly falls in love with one of these two guys, one of which is the villain and the other of which doesn’t have the greatest moral compass (no pun intended). It just irked me that they have such poor judgement.

Next comes “instalove.” Jenny and Tilly both fell in love with their respective gentlemen almost instantly, and then those relationships weren’t even well fleshed-out later in the book, so they were both shallow, surface-level relationships. Everything was focused on the guys being physically attractive, not their personalities or character traits (which makes sense because one was entirely immoral and the other had questionable morals). I personally cannot stand romances in books that never go more than surface-deep. It irks me to no end. I like deep, meaningful relationships built on trust and actual love for the other person, not shallow, vain relationships built on how hot the other person is.

This next point was one of the biggest turn-offs. If this hadn’t been an issue I might not have judged the overall poor writing quite as harshly. The grammar was atrocious. There was an overabundance of commas, most dialogue was formatted incorrectly, and there were so many lines that just didn’t make sense the way they were written. I actually laughed at one point because I came to this line: “Jenny could hear his boots walk down the hall.” So his boots were walking all by themselves? I literally laughed out loud when I read that. And then again on that same page, “She heard his voice speaking to his crew.” There were so many more spots I could mention, but then this post would be far too long.

The characters also weren’t interesting. They felt flat and annoying. I wanted to slap them numerous times throughout the book for making stupid decisions (like falling in love with jerks), and there wasn’t much character to them. Tilly was constantly melodramatic about everything and Jenny was made out to be critical but then wasn’t in some areas. Like guys. She wasn’t critical at all of any of the cute guys in her life, pretty much. And then when she found out who was masquerading as another character she was entirely too emotional for the circumstances. Now, I don’t mean to say that critical characters can’t be emotional. I don’t mean that at all. Jenny just wasn’t executed well. She came across as a character who was supposed to be critical and just wasn’t. Both main characters were weakly written, and the majority of the other characters were, as well. Roger and Joseph were better-written, and they’re the only characters in the book I remotely liked, and I still wanted to slap them numerous times.

Overall I thought this was a very poorly-written book and it took me four months to struggle through it to the end. I barely give it one star.

 

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