Friday, 28 June 2013

Review: Reboot by Amy Tintera

I recently finished reading Reboot by Amy Tintera, and I have to say it’s one of the books on my Debut Author Challenge list that I’ve enjoyed the most so far.  The concept of people “rebooting” after they’ve died is unique and stands out in a long list of dystopian novels. Basically, the longer a person stays dead, the less human he or she will be upon rebooting. I won’t give away the explanation for why this happens, but I will say that I found it interesting.

I thought it was clever how the author emphasized her characters’ status by incorporating the length of time it took for them to reboot into their names. This essentially puts the Reboots on a scale of how human they are now.  The protagonist is known as the notorious Wren 178, because it took her body one hundred and seventy-eight minutes to come back to life. She holds the record for the longest reboot time, and her supposed lack of emotion, coupled with her training, makes her a ruthless killer for HARC, the organization that uses the Reboots as a sort of special police force. Despite Wren’s reputation as a cold-blooded killer and her detachment, I still found her to be a relatable character. I think it’s the fact that she sees herself as less than human that gives her a certain vulnerability. Plus, the author gave Wren one very specific insecurity that made me sympathize with her.

Of course, the author throws Wren for a loop when she encounters Callum twenty-two, a Reboot who was dead for so short a time he’s practically still human. I loved Callum’s character. His friendly demeanor stands out amongst the other Reboots, and he’s a great contrast for Wren. It’s amusing to see him disarm the famous 178 with nothing more than a simple smile. Wren is normally able to maintain control of any situation, but doesn’t know what to do with Callum. She usually only trains Reboots with a higher number but takes Callum on as a challenge. While Callum isn’t the most adept Reboot, he doesn’t feel like a bumbling idiot, neither does Wren come across as invincible. To her credit, the author didn’t overdo this aspect of the story.

I think one of the biggest strengths of Reboot is Wren’s character development. I’m sure it doesn’t spoil anything to say she begins to discover she’s more human than she thought.  When you learn Wren’s backstory, you have to wonder if she’s detached because she’s a Reboot or because of the raw deal life dealt her beforehand. Amy Tintera did a good job of creating that question. The real conflict in the story begins when Wren starts to question her training, and therefore her identity as a Reboot.

Overall, I found the plot of Reboot engaging, and it held my interest through the entire book. I cared what happened to the characters, and for me that’s the key to a good story. There was also a nice balance between the action and the main relationship. And if you’re a fan of books with a dose of romance, you won’t be disappointed. From what I understand, there will be a sequel, but Reboot has a definite ending and could stand on its own. That being said, I would enjoy reading more about these characters and their situation, and I’m looking forward to Amy Tintera’s next book.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

What's Up Wednesday/Ready. Set. WRITE!

Hey there, blogger buddies! Glad you could make it for another installment of What's Up Wednesday. If you'd like to participate on your own blog, feel free to sign up on Jaime Morrow's site. If you're taking part in Read. Set. Write! please remember that you need to sign up for that on Jaime's site as well, and it would be awesome if you hopped around to some new blogs to encourage your fellow writers.

All right, here we go...

What I’m Reading:

Earlier this week, I finished Reboot by Amy Tintera, which I really enjoyed. Stay tuned for a review sometime in the near future (hopefully).  Next, I’ll be reading Parallel by Lauren Miller.

What I’m writing:

My word count goal for this week was 5000. I got off to a very slow start, but after a few solid writing sessions I managed to get out just over 6800 words. Those words were hard-won and there may have been a couple of all-nighters involved. When I get in the zone, it’s hard to quit even if the sun is coming up. Yeah, I’m feeling a little on the tired side today. Good thing I’m a night owl!

I’m over the 17, 000 mark on my WIP now, which feels awesome. There’s a scene or two in there that might get cut when it comes time for revisions though. We’ll see. This week, I’m changing my approach for goal setting. Rather than aiming for a certain number of words, my goal will be to finish the next three scenes.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

My best writing day this week was Saturday. I tackled a couple of sad scenes, and it was the perfect rainy day to set the mood (although it was actually snowy in my story). When the rain stopped, the picture below is what I could see outside my window. Just the thing for keeping a hopeful note in the writing.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

On Friday, my son and I had a lunch date. There are few things better than going for teen
burgers with my favourite teen. We talked about books and sports and all sorts of things. I’m proud to say my son is one of my best friends.

I also helped my husband make a batch of Coffee & Donut Stout. We made it from the mash stage, which means we even boiled the grain ourselves. Totally from scratch. My husband likes his beer just like his coffee: so dark it’s opaque and this was a new flavour for us. The funny thing is he ordered the kit for this particular stout from our local bookstore. Yep, apparently bookstores in Canada sell beer kits, so you can have a nice cold brew while you read.  I love my country.

And finally, I’ve been covertly working on a project with an awesome group of writer friends. I can’t say what this project is yet, but it’s going to be fun.  Lots and lots of fun. If you’d like to be sucked into our craziness, feel free to join us on July 1st

So what's been happening in your corner of the writing world lately? I'd love to hear!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Stress Bubbles

Confession time: writing got off to a very slooooooow start for me this week. And by this week I mean since Wednesday when I posted my latest Ready. Set. WRITE! goals. On the first two days, I stared at my stupid laptop screen for hours while inspiration played hide-and-seek with my brain. I puttered away at one particular scene, hated what I wrote, revised it so the direction was back on track, then puttered some more.  It felt like I was getting nowhere. By Friday evening, I was ready to punt my laptop through the living room window and put my story notes through the paper shredder. So frustrating!

There were also too many distractions to deal with, like my cat trying to eat the plastic packing inside of a cardboard box that was sitting in our foyer. Noisy and gross. When I fished her out of the box, I discovered the answer to my frustration problem: giant bubble wrap. Do you ever sit there and pop bubble wrap just for kicks? There's something very therapeutic about it. Like the snap of each bubble is deflating just a teensy bit of tension.

So long story short, my son and I each grabbed some and then jumped and danced and whooped and hollered on the giant bubbles. It was loud and wacky and lots of fun. I'm sure the neighbours thought we were firing machine guns in our house. By the time, the bubbles were all stomped, I felt a whole lot better.

And then I sat down and poured out 1700 words.

Sometimes writing gets me wound up into a tight, little ball of stress. Don't get me wrong, I love it. But there are days when that word count goal seems like an unslayable monster, or my eyes glaze over from the glare of the blank laptop screen, or my characters stand there and give me one huge collective raspberry. That's when I need to step away, blow off some steam, and reset my brain. This time yelling like a maniac and busting bubble wrap with my toes did the trick. I'm not sure what will shake all those words loose next time, but I know for certain I'll need to find something to set them free.

So am I the only crazy one around here, or have you done anything on the bizarre side when the words won't cooperate? How do you deal with writerly frustrations? I'd love to know, even if your method of coping is slightly more normal than mine. Hey, don't knock it till you've tried it! :)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What's Up Wednesday/Ready. Set. WRITE!

Hey, guys! Welcome to this week's What's Up Wednesday/Ready. Set. WRITE! Frankenpost! It's a bit of a monster!

What I’m Reading:

I’m still reading Reboot by Amy Tintera. There hasn’t been much time to read in the last week, which kind of stinks, because so far I like this one. Why does life always get busy right when I pick up a book I’ve been waiting for? It must be some literary Law of the Universe or something.

What I’m Writing:

My Ready. Set. WRITE! goal for this past week was 4000 words, and I managed to squeeze
out just over 5800. This covered the rewrite of my story opening and then some, so I’m quite happy with that.

Seeing as I met my first goal, I’m going to aim a little higher this week. I’d like to finish 5000 words by next Wednesday. Yesterday, I spent some time mulling over the logistics of a particular aspect of my story, and I think I have the kinks worked out. I’m also coming up to some scenes I’ve been waiting to write for a long, long time, so hopefully the words will flow!

A couple reminders for anyone taking part in Ready. Set. WRITE!

a) Please remember to sign up on the What’s Up Wednesday linky on Jaime Morrow’s site.
Ready. Set. WRITE! is happening in conjunction with WUW this summer, and if you leave your link for us there, it will help us stay organized.

b) This is a blog hop, so please make a point of visiting some of the other participants on the list. It would be awesome if everyone commented on a few new blogs a week, just to branch out and ensure that everyone who takes part feels included. Remember: the more encouragement you give, the more you’ll get in return! And if you’re new to this group of writers, jump right in and join the conversation!

c) As I’m typing this post, we have 60 people signed up. By the time you read this, there could be more. (Yay!!!) The Ready. Set. WRITE! co-host team is cheering all of you on, but it’s a tall order for each of us to visit every blog, seeing as we need to get writing too! So Alison, Katy, Elodie, Jaime, and I will be splitting up the list to make sure everyone gets a visit from somebody on the team each week. Thanks for your understanding on this and know that we’re rooting for each and every one of you to meet your goals!

What’s Inspiring Me Right Now:

The Twitter writing party we had on Monday really motivated me this week. It was awesome to know so many of us were writing at the same time and to hear about everybody’s progress. That was my first ever Twitter party (I’m a newbie to Twitter), and it was a lot of fun!

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

On Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day with my husband’s family. The restaurant where we had lunch is right next to McNally Robinson, our independent bookstore, so after my delicious eggs benedict, we all headed over to browse. I love that we have so many family members who are readers. It’s awesome to hear my son discussing The Warriors series with his grandmother, or the Guardians of Ga’Hoole and Septimus Heap with his cousin. I got to chat with my niece about what she’s been reading lately too. And now the kids are getting old enough to read books from the YA section, which is exciting.  I feel like a whole new world is opening up to them. Going to a bookstore is more than shopping for us—it’s an event. This particular store has loads of cool giftware too (It’s where I bought my favourite writing mug), and best of all, it has a tree staircase. Yep, a tree staircase. It leads up to the children’s section on the balcony. Now, who wouldn’t want to spend time in a store like that? It kick starts the imagination before you even leave with a bag full of books. :)

So how was your week? Get lots of reading and/or writing done? If you’d like to take part in Ready. Set. WRITE! you can sign up on the official linky here, and please remember to link to your post on the What’s Up Wednesday list here. If you aren’t taking part in RSW but would like to do WUW still, feel free! Either way, we’d love for you to join us!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Practical Writing Advice

Yesterday was a really productive day, thanks to a nice kick start with Ready. Set. WRITE! I took part in my first ever Twitter party, which was a lot of fun and great motivation. It was awesome to see other people plowing ahead with their stories and to know that we were all working toward a common goal at the same time. Keep up the great work, everyone! And for anybody not taking part in our summer writing incentive, I hope you're trucking along with your WIPs too!

I'll get back to churning out some words on my story in a moment, but first I wanted to share something I found both motivational and funny. One of my husband's favourite authors is Patrick Rothfuss, who wrote The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man's Fear, so I had to laugh when I came across this picture of his advice to writers:

Well said, Patrick! Probably the most practical lesson in writing you'll ever get! And this guy knows what he's talking about. Both of his books weigh about as much as I do, so he's done some serious time in the writer chair. (Did anyone else happen to notice he's wearing an Island of Misfit Toys shirt in this photo? Sweet.) You can see pictures of other authors displaying their writing advice here.

Alrighty then! I'm going to listen to Mr. Rothfuss now. I'm sitting my butt down on a cushion to write. Yes, there's a cushion on my chair. Hey, cut me some slack! I'm short and I can barely reach the table to type! :D

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

What's Up Wednesday/Ready. Set. WRITE!

Hey, look! It's Wednesday again! I can't believe another week just flew past. This is a particularly special Wednesday, because today is the day we set our first goals for Ready. Set. Write!, the summer writing incentive hosted by Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Elodie Nowodazkij, Jaime Morrow and I. If you'd like to join us, it's not too late! You can read about it and/or sign up here. Or, if you'd just like to share a bit about your week with other readers and writers, feel free to participate in What's Up Wednesday with us by signing up at Jaime's site.

What I’m reading:

I just finished Taken by Erin Bowman, and now I’m about to start Reboot by Amy Tintera. We’ll see how much reading I get done in the next while though, because my TBR list tends to suffer when I’m in the Writer’s Vortex.

What I’m writing:

To be honest, I haven’t written a darn word on my WIP this past week. I’ve been busy with a lot of other tasks lately and just haven’t had the chance. My characters are mighty ticked off at me. That’s about to change though…

Because it’s time to share my goals for Ready. Set. WRITE! I’m going to start off with something that doesn’t set the bar too high. Nope, I’m not being a chicken. I just know that I need to work up some momentum again and reorient myself within my story after almost two weeks away from it. Plus, I want to be able to meet my first goal of the summer.

So, this week I’m aiming to write 4000 words. That’s about 570 words a day, which should be doable. For now I’m setting a word count goal, but I might switch things up and set goals for finishing specific scenes. We’ll see how things go! Good luck to everyone else who’s setting goals for Ready. Set. WRITE! this week! You can do it!

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

Hmm, other than attending a birthday party on Sunday, this past week has been too hectic to do anything creative or super fun.  I did have time to watch the movie Sunshine with my husband the other night. We’re kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel for good movies these days, so I was happy to stumble upon this sci-fi gem, which I’d never even heard of before.  It isn’t a fast paced movie, and I had to suspend my disbelief for at least one plot development, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. Basically, the story is an end of the world scenario in which the sun is burning out. A crew of astronauts and scientists (including Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans) are sent on a mission to fire an enormous nuke into the dying sun in hopes of creating a new star to light and heat the Earth. I loved the atmosphere of Sunshine, which was much darker than the title implies, and while the concept sounds a little like Armageddon and other typical natural disaster blockbusters, that’s not at all what this film was like. There were scenes that I’m still reflecting on, and images that I know will stick with me. I’m leery of recommending movies to people, so be forewarned, there are some gory scenes in Sunshine, some language, and it will mostly appeal to hardcore sci-fi fans.

What Inspires Me Right Now:

This piece of music (Adagio in D Minor) from the Sunshine soundtrack. It accompanied a couple very poignant scenes in the movie, and I think it might be one of the most beautiful movie themes I’ve heard. It’s very bittersweet, and I love that. I'm not a huge fan of the entire soundtrack, but this song just really moves me. Naturally, I’ve added it to my writing playlist.

So that’s the gist of my week. How was yours? If you’d like to join us for What’s Up Wednesday, or take part in Ready. Set. WRITE! we’d love to have you! And if you've already signed up for Ready. Set. Write, please remember to take the time to encourage your fellow participants!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

It's Time for Ready. Set. WRITE!

Hey, everybody! It’s time to kick off Ready. Set. WRITE! Recently, Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Elodie Nowodazkij, Jaime Morrow, and I announced that we’re hosting a summer writing incentive, and we had a great response from many of you. If you missed that post, you can find it here.  If you were one of the people who said “Heck ya!” then it’s time to start making some goals, putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or whatever it takes to get that story from your head to the page! We’d be ecstatic if you’d join us in our writing endeavors over the next two months or so!

 Just to recap, here’s how it’ll work:

Purpose:  To set and meet goals for wherever you’re at in the writing process, whether that’s drafting or revising. If you plan on writing flash fiction or short stories, that’s great too!

Timeline: Today is the kick off, but tomorrow is when you’ll commit to your first goals. Please join us for What’s Up Wednesday, and mention your initial goals in the “What I’m Writing” section of your post. You can take whatever approach works best for you: weekly, monthly, or overall goals. Each week during What’s Up Wednesday, you can update on your progress and set new goals. Feel free to include excerpts from what you’re working on, either gush or rant about your WIP, and cheer one another on!

If you aren’t familiar with What’s Up Wednesday, you can check it out here, here, here, and here.

Ready. Set. WRITE! will continue throughout the summer and end on August 28th. We hope it will provide some great accountability and encouragement for everyone involved, so please join us for as many weeks as you can!

But wait! There’s more:

Twitter parties: We’re going to try to host a weekly writing/revising party on Twitter. Basically, we’ll choose a time for people to start writing, then come back later and recap our progress.  Use the hashtag #ReadySetWrite.

In order to do this we need to be connected on Twitter. Below is a list of our Twitter handles, and if you plan on taking part in the writing parties, please leave your handle in the comments, so we can follow you too. This will be a great way to spur everyone on toward meeting their weekly goals! I’m new to Twitter (yes, I live under a rock), so go easy on me if looks like I don’t know what I’m doing (actually, I don’t).

Our twitter handles:   @alisonmiller20

Giveaway:  Not only will this be fun, but we’re hoping it will provide some extra incentive to some lucky writer! About halfway through July we’ll be giving away a writer’s care package with all sorts of fun stuff in it. Please keep track of your progress and be prepared to update on Rafflecopter. You’ll receive points for things like setting goals and achieving them, plus spreading the word about Ready. Set. Write! More details will be announced closer to the date of the giveaway.

So, what do you think? Are you hoping to get lots of writing done this summer ? Could you use a little structure to keep up the motivation? Need a group of writer friends to cheer you on? If you’re ready to commit to a summer of writing, then sign up on the linky below. Also, feel free to grab our Ready. Set. WRITE! button for your own blog. Remember to set your first goals tomorrow in your What’s Up Wednesday post, and get writing!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

What's Up Wednesday

Hey folks! It’s that time again…

What I’m Reading:

While I was sick this past week, I used my recovery time to catch up on reading. I polished off DARK TRIUMPH by Robin LaFevers after a few weeks of poking away at it. I loved it (no surprise there) although GRAVE MERCY is still my favourite out of the two. GRAVE MERCY is told from Ismae’s point of view, and DARK TRIUMPH is narrated by Sybella. What struck me about these two books is that while the author’s style is consistent between the two, Ismae and Sybella have very distinct voices. Now THAT'S good writing!

I’m currently reading ARCLIGHT by Josin L. McQuein which is on my Debut Author Challenge list. Only have a bit left to go, and then it's on to the next book.

What I’m Writing:

Because of the nasty cold, I only wrote about 1000 words on my WIP this past week. That took care of a chunk of the rewrite on my story intro, so I was pleased to get over at least one little bump in the process.

I also rewrote my synopsis for the manuscript I’m about to start querying after deciding my old synopsis was too vague. It took several versions, a lot of hair pulling, and yelling at my laptop, but I think it’s about as good as it's going to get now. Squishing a whole book into two pages is darn near impossible. Does anyone else feel like your synopsis sounds ridiculous, because there isn’t room to explain the reasons why anything happens?

What Inspires Me Right Now:

Anticipating Ready. Set. Write! While I haven’t written much lately, I’m gearing up for our summer writing incentive. The thought of setting goals and biting away bits of my WIP a week at a time is making me feel like this whole thing is doable. And so is the fact that a group of us will be cheering each other on. Wanna know more about our writing challenge? Go here.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

Yesterday, my son and I went to our local children’s festival, and while he was on the upper end of the age spectrum, he still had a great time. We watched a one woman show called “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman,” which was absolutely phenomenal. Leslie McCurdy brought history alive by acting out Harriet's life at various ages. From the moment she entered the room singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” I had chills. My son just finished reading a biography about Harriet Tubman, so the timing of this was perfect. We talked to Leslie after her performance, and she said that some of her ancestors were part of the Underground Railroad. What an amazing way to carry on her family’s legacy!

The other show we saw was Step Afrika! If you’re not familiar “stepping” is a style of dance created by African American college students in the early 1900s. Basically, the performers use their bodies as percussion instruments, and boy, do they ever know how to get the crowd going! My ears were ringing, because the kids were cheering so loudly. This group was high energy, funny, and so talented! It would be pretty much impossible to watch them without clapping along.

Most of the other pics in the collage are self-explanatory (no, that’s not our Gene Simmons impersonation)  other than the building in the bottom corner. That’s the Delta Bessborough hotel, and it’s the lovely backdrop for the festival. It’s one of several chateau-style hotels built by the Canadian National Railway and is a historical landmark.  How perfect to stage a children’s festival near a building that looks like a castle!

Well, that’s what’s up with me this week? What’s going on with you lately? If you’d like to join our blog hop, you can sign up at Jaime Morrow’s site.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Introducing: Ready. Set. Write!

So I mentioned recently that I’ve tossed myself into working on my next writing project. I actually began it some time ago, but with all kinds of other busyness (revising, agent research, and life in general) distracting me, it’s been a series of starts and stops. This time last year, I was immersed in drafting the manuscript I’m about to begin querying. In terms of writing, creating that story was my only priority. Not so this year.  Now, I’m blogging, networking with other writers, venturing into Queryland, toying with multiple story ideas, and…Well, you get the picture. I could REALLY use some focus and accountability.

That’s why I was thrilled to be approached by a group of lovely writer friends with a way to keep myself on track. Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Elodie Nowodazkij, Jaime Morrow, and I are hosting the summer writing intensive Ready. Set. WRITE! and we'd love it if you’d join us! The plan is to kick off a summer of writing on Tuesday, June 11th and write like crazy for two months straight! Each week, we’ll update on what we’re writing and set new goals for the following week.

Sound like fun? Here are a few more details about our summer writing intensive Ready. Set. Write!

Purpose: for drafting/revising/writing flash fiction or short stories—whatever! As long as we're writing!

What we'll do:

--set weekly goals (or monthly or overall goals). Again—whatever works!

--update weekly on What's Up Wednesday (ya know—in the What I'm Writing section). We'll share what we've accomplished and set goals for the new week. We can also include a snippet or just gush about our stories.

We'll also be hosting occasional drafting/revising parties on Twitter, providing lots of support for each other, and…AND sponsoring a giveaway! Ready. Set. WRITE! will kick off Tuesday June 11th with sign-ups on our blogs. We’ll set our first goals on June 12th's edition of What's Up Wednesday and update each other every Wednesday! In the meantime, decide what you want to write/revise. Set your goals! Write a little. Or a lot. Spread the word! And be prepared to Ready. Set. WRITE!