Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review: Supernaturally by Kiersten White

I've mentioned Kiersten White several times, and I even reviewed her first book, Paranormalcy.  I was excited to get Supernaturally, her second book, and I just wish I'd had MORE time to read it so I could've finished it sooner!

This book has everything that I liked about the first novel, and it improved on the few nit-picky things that I didn't like.  Ms. White is obviously growing as an author, and I'm REALLY excited for her next book and the series that she's going to release some time in 2013.

On to the story, though.  I'll avoid spoilers, but Evie has a new problem now that she's not working full time for IPCA.  For one, her locker (which she DESPERATELY longed for) is actually not as cool as she hoped it would be.  Her gym teacher hates her, her boyfriend is going to school in another town, and for some reason, she's getting chased by monsters.  Again.

The overall narrative in this book flows very smoothly.  And the characters are much easier to get attached to than they were in the previous book.  There's depth to these people that brings them to life.  Even the antagonists are likeable in their own way.  While many of the characters ARE supernatural beings who don't really exist, they still strike me as real people.

Ms. White doesn't spend a whole lot of time bogging down the story with detailed scenery descriptions.  There are some details here and there, but she lets the reader use their own imagination to fill in many of the blanks.  As a result, I enjoyed the setting as a vivid world that I could picture in my mind without having to adjust my inner perceptions to include irrelevant details that authors sometimes like to force into scenes.

While this book is the second in a trilogy, I believe it could stand on its own as a book.  There is some back-story that's important, but it gets filled in in ways that moves the story forward without dwelling on previous events.  It's a book that's not trying to ride the coattails of a previous volume.  It's a new story with a beginning, middle, and end.  There's no cliffhanger that makes you wish the author had tied up loose ends because they all get tied up satisfactorily.

All in all, this is a FANTASTIC book.  I recommend it.  Highly.

So highly, in fact, that I'm giving away a SIGNED COPY!  That's right, it's a contest!  I have ONE signed copy of SUPERNATURALLY that I will give away to one person who comments on this post.

Rules:  You must comment.  You must use a real name.  No anonymous posters will win this prize.  You must live in the United States (sorry, I can't do international shipping).  This isn't a must, but I'd love it if you followed this blog.  And maybe send out a tweet or two about the review.  Seriously, I want Kiersten White's third book to be so highly anticipated that it hits #1 on the NYT Bestsellers list!  So link to her website, link to reviews, and get people to comment in this post so someone will get a free copy.

The contest will be open until 7am EST, December 28th.  So to celebrate my anniversary (yes, you get to celebrate with me), I will put all of the entries into a random number generator and then announce the winner!  Update: Contest Closed!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holidays!

I hope everyone had a great holiday!  I'm excited because Christmas decorations are up in my condo.  I like decorating for Christmas, mostly because I love this time of year!  I never overdo it, I just put up a single string of garland and hang Christmas ornaments from it.  I'd do a tree, but my cat would destroy it.  And there's not really room for a tree in here, anyway.  This year my wife and I might get another string of garland, but that's about it because I just hate over-decorating.

I have something fun planned for this Christmas season, too: a contest!  Details will come later this week, but I will be giving away something AWESOME!

In that spirit of giving, I want to ask all of you to head over to Child's Play (link to the right) to donate either directly to them or to your local children's hospital.  I'll be introducing a new charity at the end of the week, but I don't want to short-change Child's Play.  I'd love to help them beat last year's total money raised (though I think they passed it by a long time ago).

Anyway, happy Monday, enjoy your turkey leftovers, and go listen to some decent Christmas music (I recommend the Charlie Brown Christmas album).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks

It's turkey day tomorrow, and that means I get to spend time considering all of the things I'm thankful for.  There are the obvious things, of course, like my wife, my family, my job, etc., but this year I'd have to say I'm definitely thankful for a new circle of friends that I found through the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.

I'm thankful for the opportunities that I've had to expand my writing abilities, and I'm especially grateful for time to write my books.

Rather than bog down your reading time with a long list of stuff, though, I want to open up the discussion with all of you.

What are you thankful for this year?  Have you reached any big goals that you want to brag about?  Did you do something you've never tried before?  Are you in a better place than last year?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Growing up...

Or maturing, if you prefer.  The other day I made a statement to myself that made me think, "Wow, I'm really an adult, now."  And that was kinda depressing.

You see, my wife and I plan on having kids some day, and about two years ago I thought, "Hey, I'm totally ready to be a dad!"  But recently I realized that I really don't want to put a kid's needs before my own wants.  I'm more than happy to put my wife's needs and wants before my own (most of the time because, let's face it, I'm not perfect and I can be selfish at times, but I'm working on that).  Sometimes I just want to hang out and do my own thing, and at this point in my life, having to take care of a child would irritate me at times.

But then I was thinking about a few video games that are coming out soon.  Games that I really want to play.  And I thought to myself, "Hey, I don't have to get them on release day.  I can wait until the price drops or they come out with an edition with all of the downloadable content that I would otherwise pay a lot of extra money for."  And then it hit me: video games excite me, but it's easy for me to just ignore them until it's convenient and/or economical for me to buy them.  It really made me think, "That's the mindset of an adult who has 'bigger' priorities."  My job, my career, my wife (not in that order) are all more important to me than video games.

I'm growing up.  Despite my efforts to retain a childlike love of life.

What's happened to you in the last few years that makes you look at your life and realize, "Hey, I'm more mature than I was last year? Two years ago? When I was in high school?"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Smile!

I had a post that I'd thought about over the past few days, but I decided I'd just skip it until Monday in favor of something that I hope will make you smile.  Check out this video buy the guys at ForestFire Films.  I know, it's cutesie, but I got a kick out of it.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Progress

I've actually been making a lot of headway on my rewrites!  I threw out some of what I wrote for the Chapter 1 rewrite and started over again, but what I wrote yesterday is much better than the stuff I wrote the week before.  I'm excited for where this is going, and I'm getting great feedback from my critique group!  (Not feedback that says what I have is perfect, but feedback that's helping me improve my work.)

I don't have a whole lot to say right now, mostly because there's not much to update.  Very little news in my life.  I'm also pretty much out of the loop as far as the blogosphere is concerned, so I don't have much to discuss there, either.  But I'm trying to get back into the loop.  Maybe I'll have something intellectual to discuss on Friday.

In the meantime, go donate to Child's Play, read a book, and have a great day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Child's Play

I really want today to be about giving.  In the U.S., November is the month where we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Yes, it's a holiday that celebrates the memory of our ancestors arriving here and surviving their first winter, but to me it's more than that.  It's a day where I can step back and really look at all of the blessings I've received.  Many kids won't be able to spend this holiday with their families, or at the very least at home.  Our charity this month can be really helpful this time of year for kids who might otherwise get depressed, lonely, or just plain bored in their hospital rooms.

Please check out these videos to see some behind-the-scenes of the Child's Play annual fundraiser.  Listen to some of the stories about how this charity has touched the lives of so many people.  And please give what you can, even if it's only five bucks.

And have a great week!

Friday, November 11, 2011

When stuff happens...

I fall behind.  I have a lot of catching up to do today because work was busier this week than I expected it to be.  I have today off, but there are three or four projects I need to work on.  I wouldn't be so far behind of Wednesday hadn't happened.  My poor wife got in a car accident :(

Since I'm a loving, caring husband, as soon as I found out about it, I dropped everything to go take care of her.  She's just a bit sore, but her car is totaled.  On the total right-off scale of 1-50, her car scored a 55.  So it's a real miracle that she only has a couple of bruises.  Unfortunately for my writing, I lost two days of work.  Totally worth it to make sure my wife is okay, but now that I have a day off, I need to take the opportunity to get something done.

So go hug a veteran, go donate to Child's Play (link to the right) and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

No Update

Dealing with a minor family emergency today, so I'm not updating.  See you Friday.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Rewrites

I love writing.  It makes me happy.  I get to sit at my computer, punch the keys, and make a story come to life.  When I get really into it, I'll pause when I get "blocked" to pace around the room and brainstorm.  I drink tons of water (or coffee), I eat compulsively, and I pace some more.  But I always get my thoughts on the page!

I started my rewrites today, and even though I'm struggling with it, I'm enjoying the process.  I'm still not sure how I'm going to change this book to make it better, but I have a few ideas.  That's coming through.  I think what I have is a better start than where I began in the generation of this story.  And I think I found a way to get more tension into this story.

And I learned something today: rewriting is writing!  You don't really think of that very often.  At least, I don't.  I always looked at rewriting as editing, revising, changing sentences around, making different word choices, etc..  But I've never had to craft new scenes like this before (not because I'm that good, simply because I didn't know it was necessary on this book until now).  And I remembered why I love writing!  I have a better grasp on the characters, too.  This means I get to shape them the way they're meant to be shaped from the beginning!

Anyway, I have a weird week ahead, so I'm going to finish this up and get a bit more writing done before I have to go to work.

Question of the week: Do you like rewriting?  Why?  Why not?

Friday, November 04, 2011

Denial

In many areas of our lives, we live in denial.  We try to convince ourselves that the ways we're going about our lives, our careers, hobbies, friendships, etc. are just fine.  My denial came in the form of my book.  It's not bad, as I've been assured by several people, but it could be better.  It's missing a few key components that would turn it from a solid piece of writing to a publishable novel.  Is denial of this form dangerous?  Well that depends on how I react when I discover that I am in denial.

Personally, I opened myself up to criticism, critiques, and advice.  And I allowed myself to listen to the opinions of the folks who looked over my writing.  What they told me makes sense.  Now that I know what they're looking at in my book, I can see that they're absolutely right, and I need to make changes.  I'm no longer in denial.  It's not always that easy to get over that mindset, and it took me several years to grow a thick enough skin to step away from my writing and allow myself to see where problems lie in my books.

Are you in denial in regards to your book?  As you participate in NaNoWriMo, are you letting yourself view your writing with enough distance to let other people tell you what needs to be fixed?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Charity of the Month: Child's Play

I love Child's Play!  They donate video games and VG systems to hospitals.  They do board games, too, and hospitals can sign up for their own wishlists that Child's Play donors can then donate to the hospitals.  I know it's November, but Child's Play has started their annual holiday drive.  Since Christmas is next month, I wanted to highlight this charity to give everyone the chance to donate some Christmas Cheer in time for kids who are stuck in the hospital to receive it.

This charity is actually run by the men who created Penny Arcade.  They're avid gamers and essentially created the video-game-centered webcomic.  They've been drawing comics since 1998, I believe, and they've turned their business into an industry!  They have web-tv shows, a comic, of course, this charity, and they run one of the biggest geek conventions in the country, if not the world!

So please go donate and help these young men cheer up some sick kids in hospitals across this country.