Monday, May 23, 2011

Twitter Giveaway

In honor of my 200th Twitter follower, I'm throwing a giveaway! Hurray!

And, since this is My Bookish Blog, we'll have to give away a book, of course! You can win any less than $15US book you desire. And, if international, I'll use The Book Depository - so as long as they deliver to you, you can enter.

So here's the skinny. You have to be a twitter follower to win. Just @reply me (@brennabraaten) and tell me the book you want to win and the author (with the author's twitter handle if they have one) and you're entered! How easy is that? You don't have to do anything here on the blog at all; it's just where I'm posting all the info.

I'll DM the winner. Giveaway closes on Thursday night at midnight (I'll give leeway for timezones, here). Good luck to you all!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

World Building Success

This is the final installment of a three-part series on wold building.


I've now talked about why world building is so important and my own process with it in my most recent WIP, so now I'm going to talk about the worlds in other people's books I love.

  • Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
    • Rowling seriously has one of the best worlds I've ever read. It is intricate and detailed. Every book, we learned something new about the wizard world. Yes, it was fantastical. Yes, it was even crazy. But it wasn't so crazy as to go outside of the realm of possibility. It wasn't limitless because there were rules. And that's what makes good worlds with magic, are the rules.
  • Hungry Games Series by Suzanne Collins
    • This is on the opposite end of the spectrum here. It's very different than Harry Potter's world. This is a desolate world. It's a world that's been ravaged by war. Collins does a great job at making some things recognizable to us then completely changing the structure of other things. She created a world that was livable, but barely. And her political structure is well done and believable.
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    • I admit, I've only read the first two books of this series. But the idea and the world have literally stuck with me since I was in 8th grade, so that's saying something. The sense of urgency in the first books with just enough mix of present and future technology rock my world. No really. It was so radically different than anything I'd read before that it stands out. It's a book that I have on my to-be-read-AGAIN pile. Precious few get that status.
  • The Crosspointe Series by Diana Pharaoh Francis
    • This is one of the few adult series on my list. I LOVE these books. The beginning starts out a little slow, but as Francis builds up the world it takes you away. In Crosspointe, where the novels are set, there is magic and gods/goddesses. The magic is entirely unique, however, in how it's used and it's limits. It's also not stagnant. It changes through the novels, like any other natural thing would. And the gods/goddesses? They aren't all powerful, nor are they all-knowing. I devoured the fourth book in about three days, and now I have to wait patiently for the next. I'm not very patient. (Go read the books, people.)
And that's all, folks! So tell me, do you agree with my assessments? What are you favorite worlds and why? I'd love to hear them!

Write on, always. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Posting Elsewhere and A Challenge

Hi everyone! I'm not actually doing a blog post today, but I swear I'm not slacking. To prove it, I'm going to link you all to my guest post at Squidink Sarah's blog on critique partners. She just happens to be my one an only CP at this time. Imagine that. (Anyone interested?)

Also, I'm challenging myself and all of you are privy to it. My goal is to finish the draft of my manuscript in a month. June 15. I crossed the 50,000 hurdle this past weekend, and I'm hoping to keep on it for the next month to finish. I think I can do it, but I want y'all to hold me accountable. So please keep coming back and bugging me about it. Spam my inbox with comments pestering me to give updates. Do whatever you can to keep me up.

It's going to be a long month, people. Wednesday look forward to the stunning conclusion of my three-part world building series.

Write on, people.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

World Building - My Story

This is the second post in my series about world building.

I haven't decided whether or not I like world building yet. I explained in my last post that I haven't been writing because I ran out of plot. And I ran out of plot because I didn't know how my world worked. You can't finish a book without knowing how things work. So, with the urging of my lovely critique partner, I sat down and started to build. This is what I did.

Place: First, I started with the place. I'm working on a fantasy novel set in a world after the fall of an empire. So I needed to figure out all my different countries. I started with names and who ruled them. Then I figured out the landscape and where the country was placed in my mental map. I also had to work out the climate and main industries. These details may never actually be published in a book, but I think they're important to know.

History: The next thing I needed to do was come up with a viable history. I knew I needed my empire to fall, but I had no idea how that would happen. Also, I knew that there had to be some sort of catastrophe that began the empire and helped form it. So I needed to figure out that as well.

Logistics: My world has magic and magic items that I needed to know how it worked. The rules of the world still need to be worked out a bit. Elements that are supernatural need special attention to make sure they fit seamlessly and naturally into the world that's created. I'm sad to say, I'm not quite there yet.

Backstory: One of the most overlooked parts of world building, in my opinion, is character backstory. While most people think this would be in character development, I think it's important in world building. If your characters have somehow affected the world, politically or physically, then it's important to add this into your overall world. I have a character whose decisions affect the world, so I needed to make sure it fit into the overall plan of my world. While character backstory is important for every character, it's not necessarily for world building. Keep that in mind.

Back story can be fun. And it can be tedious. I just started out with some knowledge and a notebook. Eventually I'll have to transcribe my notes into my scrivener file, but that's for another day.

I think the most important thing you need when world building is a determined attitude. You're going to have to make many decisions, so an indecisive mind is your worst enemy here. And I'm a pretty indecisive person when it comes to some things. But at the end of the day, it's well worth the work.

So, there's some ideas on how I've been going about world building. What do you guys do? Does everything come together for you, or do you need to sit down like I did and get all the details straight? Let me know.

And look forward to my next installment on Friday.

Write on, always.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

THE LIPSTICK LAWS Review

I know I promised this on Friday, but work happens. I have a very unpredictable day job. And I fail. I'm sorry.

THE LIPSTICK LAWS by Amy Holder

From Goodreads: At Penford High School, Britney Taylor is the queen bee. She dates whomever she likes, rules over her inner circle of friends like Genghis Khan, and can ruin anyone's life with a snap of perfectly manicured fingers. Just ask the unfortunate few who have crossed her.   For April Bowers, Britney is also the answer to her prayers. April is so unpopular, kids don't even know she exists. But one lunch spent at Britney's table, and April is basking in the glow of popularity.   But Britney's friendship comes with a high price tag. How much is April willing to pay?
 
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 4th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published March 17th 2011)
ISBN
0547363060 (ISBN13: 9780547363066)


This is a cute story about a girl, April, who doesn't have any friends at the beginning of the year (and other than her friend who moved away, we aren't really sure why). She's taken under wing by Britney, the school's resident popular by sharing lip gloss, and enters the world of the Lipstick Laws.

The story is mostly predictable. Think Mean Girls, but better. The absolute best part about this book is April's voice, which was something I didn't have in the novel I read directly before this one. It was very refreshing and gave me a perfect picture of April. She has a way of speaking and thinking, and you get that as a reader.

The themes in THE LIPSTICK LAWS are ones that I see a lot of people struggle with. In fact, I still struggle with them today after college. The idea is friendship, to be wanted, and, yes, to be popular. There still is that drive. But most, it's the idea of acceptance – of yourself and others. There is even some work with hypocrisy in there, which I think is something a lot of people forget is in all of us. You can denounce something and do it too.

All in all, I think THE LIPSTICK LAWS is a light and enjoyable read. April is easy to relate to, but a few of the other characters fall a little flat. But in the end, I'd recommend it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

World Building Intro

World building is exciting. And it really sucks. You love it, and you hate it. But, either way, it's an integeral part of writing any type of fantasy or science fiction story. It's needed. Whether it's a lot of building or a little, it needs to be there. This is the kick-off to a small series of posts I'll write on the issue of world building in general. Today we're focusing on why it's important.

I'm currently working on world building for my WIP, THE STAR RUBY. I reached a point when I was writing where I'd run out of plot. And the reason I ran out of plot was because I didn't know what would happen next, because I didn't know what could happen. I needed to stop and figure out how my world works before I could move forward.

But here's the deal: You need to have a working world in order for your characters to function and your plot to line up. It's the details that make something seem real. Have you ever played two truths and one lie? Here's a hint if you haven't, the more detailed the lie, the more likely people are going to think it's true. Put in the details, and we'll get lost in the world you've created.

And people like details. Not enough to overrun the reader, mind you, but enough so that we can get a picture in our heads, see our characters and understand how things work. Without details, your readers have no idea what's going on and can be easily confused. And confused readers are frustrated readers, and frustrated readers generally put down a book.

Do you have any general thoughts about the importance of world building? Do you do it often, or does it just come to you? Let me know.

On Monday, I'll be talking about my world building experience lately. Friday, look forward to a review of LIPSTICK LAWBREAKERS.

Monday, May 2, 2011

THE GODDESS TEST Review

THE GODDESS TEST by Aimée Carter:


FROM GOODREADS: It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.
Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Harlequin Teen


How I got it: I received a galley copy of this book from the publisher. This in no way sways by opinion of the novel.

Cover: I knew about this book before I'd seen the cover, but I think it matches the story. The font was such a fantastic choice that fits the overall Greek theme. I like that it's a good mixture of the classic idea of a white dress and sandals with a more modern look. Plus, that girl is gorgeous. I mean, look at that face. Stunning.


Plot: I was really excited to read this book. I've always been fairly curious about mythology and the idea of the intricate and weird stories they came up with (I mean really, Athena sprouted from Zeus' head? It's a little odd). It's basically a modern take on the Hades/Persephone myth. I think the way Carter weaved in the original story of Persephone with the new updated one. For the most part, I was pulled into the story. There were some twists I saw coming and some I didn't. I'm still feeling a little unsure of the ending and one of the final twists, but I was compelled to read to the end. I really wanted to know what was going to happen.


Characters: The characters were mostly all unique from each other, but maybe a little stiff at times. There were several occasions where I felt like I didn't understand why the characters made certain decisions, making me think that I didn't know the characters as well as I wanted to. Henry is aloof for the first part of the novel, but I did enjoy him as a character and love interest. He was the character whose story I felt the most connected to. Kate was okay, but got a little on my nerves sometimes. One of the hardest parts for me was keeping her two servants? maids? straight. I still can't tell you which one is which, although one was nice and one wasn't. I'm not sure why I have trouble with that.


Writing: I admit I read this book a while before writing this review, so the writing isn't that fresh in my mind. I do know that there were definitely a few parts that struck me as written with fantastic language and really stood out. However, there were some parts that I do remember when the language struck me as odd.


Themes: Kate has to pass seven tests. It's important for her to pass, or something bad happens to Henry. There is a lot on the line and a lot of responsibility involved. Dealing with that responsibility and choices are a large part of the book. Another major theme has to do with fate. I'm not sure if I like how the fate theme played out.


Overall: Overall this was a fairly enjoyable read and I give it a three out of five star rating. It kept me reading (I think I read it in just a few days) but there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way. I think it had a lot to do with my personal taste, however, and I recommend that you read the book. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.