Live Writing: Breathing Life Into Your Words

by Ralph Fletcher

Cover Beauty Score: 0 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 2 out of 5

Plot Blurb: This is a general "how-to" book - a way to help you make your writing more vibrant.

My Reaction: Well this book came highly recommended via a member of RWA as a way to help make your writing more active and real. This person even mentioned that she referenced it often as she wrote her books. So I thought, sure! This is going to be a great option for me! I want to make my writing more alive and vibrant!

Well right when this guy came in from Amazon (yeah, I buy everything there), I was immediately thrown off by the cover. It looked like a 5th grader threw up his imagination on the thing. Still... I was going to give it a chance. Maybe there was some insane crazy simplistic wisdom within its pages. So I persevered, sitting down to read this guide book.

And it's an ok "how-to" book, I suppose, for someone who has never written in their entire life. The recommendations are basic, to say the least. It was strange that a majority of the advice was explained using grade school examples. And as if that wasn't the worst of the problems (I mean, I'll buy into the "from the mouths of babes" thing), all of those examples were in first person. Well of course it's easy to show your voice with first person writing! What about the rest of us, that write in something other than that? Ugh... no help at all.

And what really worries me is that a professional writer recommended this! I feel like if you're reading this book, you should be a middle schooler trying to write a short story for his mid term. Not an adult writing about adult issues for other adult readers.

Ultimately, I can see how this would work as an educational material, but it certainly shouldn't have a place for a professional author writing sophisticated books. It's the ABC's of writing... and honestly if you need help nailing this stuff down, maybe the writing game isn't for you...
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The Perilous Gard

by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Cover Beauty Score: 2 out of 10
Goodreads Score: 5 out of 5

Plot Blurb: Kate Sutton is one of Queen Mary's lady's maids who is exiled to a remote castle after displeasing her. While she learns about the grounds and how its master, Sir Geoffrey Heron, lost his daughter under mysterious circumstances surrounding his brother, Christopher. After learning that the local folk fear the "Fairy Folk" and guard their children scrupulously, she begins to suspect that perhaps Christopher isn't to blame for the girl's disappearance. Together Kate and Christopher have to figure out a way to find Geoffrey's daughter and defeat the Lady in Green who rules the fairy's underworld domain.

My Reaction: In honor of St. Patrick's day, I thought I'd review one of my all time favorites. This book is so near and dear to my heart. It has held a firm place on my favorites list since I found it on the Newberry Award Winners shelf at Books a Million when I was in middle school. Yes, it's a middle grade book. Does that mean it's any less awesome? No. This is one that I wish I could take and rewrite to make even darker and intense (dare I say more Perilous?).

Let's start with the writing. Straight off the bat, you know you're going to get something really well done if it's a Newberry book. It's just a fact that you don't get that award if you're producing some half-assed crap that a four year old could stream together. Pope is a phenomenal writer, her words succinct and clear in a voice that is pleasant to read and conveys a very strong pov for the heroine.

The history of the "Fairy Folk" in this is fabulous, plain and simple. The world that Pope creates underground for them is imaginative, secretive, and eerily beautiful in a way that will endear me forever to the idea of living underground. She has created an entire culture that is believable and steeped in the folk lore of ancient tales. You wish you could be there in Kate's shoes, kicking some ass and not standing for the shitty elitist attitude that those fairies throw at her.

Speaking of Kate, she is one of my favorite heroines ever! She's tough and puts her cards on the table in a way that is honest and refreshing. She knows who she is and doesn't simper or wait for boys to save her. She does a lot of the saving in this one, actually. In fact, the girl is so badass that even the douchebag stick up their butts Fairy Folk decide she's pretty cool.

And then to top it all off, there's the sweet and real romance that buds between Kate and Christopher. There's a lot of growth that happens between these two, and they learn to admire and work with one another as they search for the lost girl. It's a romance that feels real and tangible, while still having some swoon worthy moments. Still possibly one of my absolute favorite endings ever.

I really can't think of anything bad about this book. Even after a decade of rereading this thing, it never gets old for me. To this day, I make a habit of picking it up every time the fall season rolls around. Something about the smell of hay and bonfires gets me thinking about the tone and feel of this one. I can dance around a fire and pretend I'm rescuing my lover from the threat of human sacrifice, snickering at my own genius as I outsmart fairies and magical creatures.

Whoops. Did I just say too much? Who cares! Get out there and read this one!! You seriously won't regret it. Happy St. Patty's Day!
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The Immortal Oxford Comma

So I hope that many of you can tell where I am going with this one. The Oxford comma has long been a debate amongst my peers. It is definitely something I feel strongly about, as any English Lit major will tell you, I'm sure. No matter who are, or what you majored in, you undoubtedly have an opinion on the topic as well.

So what is the Oxford comma, some of you may ask? Perhaps it has been a while since you've been exposed to the finer aspects of grammatical punctuation. In very simple terms, the Oxford comma is a comma that is inserted before the word 'and' at the end of a list. Some people would even refer to this comma as optional. Optional? Optional? How completely ridiculous is that?!

Ok, so I guess in terms of being gramatically correct, it could be classified as optional. But, my friends, you should never consider this little dandy an optional addition to your listing.

Why? I hear you asking. Why should I bother cluttering up my beautiful sentence with a loud and ghastly extra comma? It just gets in the way and clogs up my pretty clean list!

I'm about to tell you why, dear reader. For emphasis, I will include a lovely image that I found floating around on the internet. I am positive that this info-graphic will do more justice to my argument than anything else. Feast your eyes:

Holy guacamole, does that comma make a difference? Yes. Yes it most certainly does.

Why sure, we could expect the average reader to rely on common sense and realize that JFK and Stalin exist separately from the strippers, but as we all know, the average reader likes things like 50 Shades of Gray.

So for the sake of humanity, I implore you to realize the benefit of the Oxford comma. Go out and spread the good news of your conversion, if you have been. Together we can finally beat down this argument until the debate no longer even exists.

Hey. I can dream, right?
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Too excited to sleep

So you know how when you were in middle school and you knew the next day was going to be a field trip day full of adventure and excitement with your friends so you absolutely couldn't sleep because of all that anticipation? That's how I have felt the last two days.

My book just seems to be flying out of my fingers. It's like when I broke through that block, it opened a floodgate of story. And it's so fun to get to know my characters! Do you know I have never written an action adventure type of story? It's ridiculous how amazingly entertaining it is. I mean seriously. I love romance, but writing something like this, I can have fun and danger and excitement and throw in that dash of romance for a little added bonus.

Basically it's crack. I'm writing my own form of heroine.

And that's totally fine by me because it means that I've pumped out around 17k words over the past four days. After a crazy dry spell, I feel like I'm refreshed and back at it with little twinkles lighting up my eyes.

I'm back, bitches.
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