Friday Five

 

Holy cow a Friday Five on *gasp* Friday! Whoddathunkit?

 

1. On the writing front, still waiting on agent revision notes for the proposal. Hoping to get those soon, so I can work on revisions this week because…

2. I’m on Spring Break! Wooohooooo Spring Break ’09, Girls Gone Wild, Woooohooo. Oh wait. This is law school spring break–which yes, does not deserve capitalization. Law school spring break entails lots of sitting in my apartment trying to catch up on my outlines before said revision notes come. And, oh yeah, a couple interviews. Still, a nice and needed break! 

3. Check out Shelli’s Comment Your Butt Off contest on her blog Market My Words. Shelli is giving away the fab prize of a professionally designed website worth $1,000! How nice is that? All you have to do is, well, comment your butt off. And there is also extra credit. 

4. Try as I might, I am still the worst Twitter-er on Planet Earth. I want to figure it out. I do! But I don’t get what to do? Do I just start talking to people? I was very pleased when I learned the whole “@” feature. But then I realized I didn’t know what to say. Oh dear. 

5. Cool blogs I’ve discovered this week: Rachel Vincent,  Diana Peterfreund,  and Adrienne Kress.

 

**An aside: Younger readers of this blog. I heart you. I do. Please keep reading books. Keep reading this blog and keep commenting on the reviews of books you love. But let me make one thing clear. And I must admit this has been a bit startling to me because I thought I’d made this abundantly clear due to the URL of Fumbling with Fiction (chandlermariecraig.wordpress.com), etc. But, anyway, here it is: I did not write the House of Night books. Like y’all I love them. But I can’t take credit for them. P.C. and Kristin Cast, a  wonderful mother-daughter team, wrote those books. This is not their blog, however a quick google seach for P.C. Cast will lead you to more information about the upcoming books in the series. I do appreciate the emails, though, and the comments. So, if you’d like to discuss the books, feel free to email me directly and I will happily respond. [chandler1986 at gmail dot com]

Virtual Book Drive

 

 

So this has been a super fun week in publishing. No denying that. Posts from Nathan Bransford and Moonrat, while informative, have left me wanting to tear my hair out a bit. Their silver lining? Publishing isn’t going to wither away completely. Great. Their advice? Buy new books.

Sure, you might feel that, as an individual, you don’t have much to offer. To which my response is not “See a therapist” but “Buy a book!”

I promise you can skip the chinese takeout this weekend and go out and purchase one book. Because as much fun as nibbling at your nailbeds whilst mulling over the future of your publishing career might be, proactivity is almost always more satisfying. (I’m very grassrootsy today)

Give book stores your vote of confidence today (or any time in the next two weeks). Go buy a book and slow down returns to the publisher.

 

First, click the poll and tell me how many books you plan to buy. Second, feel free to add the poll above to your blog and to ask people to buy books. If you have a book out that you’d wouldn’t mind people checking out provide a link to amazon in the comments section. If you have decided to ask others to buy books, link to your blog in the comments section.

 

I will add any links I get to my sidebar.

 

Today, I bought the first House of Night book, Marked, for  a friend, and Nate bought Chosen, the third book in the series for himself.

 

Get out there and buy those books!

A Question from The Peanut Gallery

I had a young person leave a question in the comments section on my post about the House of Night series. I think it’s a great one to consider for young readers forming opinions about how and what to read. But I also think it’s a great question for authors of young adult fiction to keep in mind.

Nicole said:

“Although Twilight is my fav book of all times!!! I’m getting sick of obsessing over it… but im not ready to give up my love for vampires so I think im going to read this series [House of Night]. I have a question though does the book talk alot about gods and godesses and make fun of other religions (when I say other i mostly mean Christanity)? Because im a strong Christian and I don’t want to be reading a book that makes fun of my beliefs…”

Nicole, that’s a great question. As a strong Christian myself, I can see where someone might feel that House of Night makes fun of religion. However, I believe what PC and Kristin Cast are looking down on is intolerance. As Christians, we know that it’s wrong to judge others or to think ourselves holier or better than the people around us. We know that we should love our neighbor as ourselves and that to cast someone out and deem them evil would be hypocritcal to our faith. And yet, it’s undeniable that people in all different religions have at times misconstrued their faith in order to assert power over another group of people.

Also, remember that this is fiction. And in The House of Night world, a mysterious vampire goddess truly does exist. Now, do we know that to be false in our world? Yes. But when we dive into a novel, we suspend our disbelief.

Since, another goddess who, in fact, is good exists in House of Night, it is wrong in the book, for another sect of people to satanize the vampires’ goddess.

So while the group that is satirized in the series is Christian, it is their intolerance, not their belief system that is “made fun of.”

It’s great that you are protective of your beliefs. I think we all are and developing the skill of being a critical reader, I think, will take you a long way. When you read a book, fiction or non, it’s always valuable to think: What is the exact message the author is trying to send? Do I agree or disagree?

I think you’re trying to do just that.

 

 

(**The House of Night series is written by P.C. and Kristin Cast and includes the books Marked, Betrayed, Chosen, and the newly released, Untamed.**)

 

 

Status: Gluing my butt to chair in hopes of writing lots starting…now!

Book Review: House of Night Series (Marked and Betrayed)

For those of you who were more than a little disappointed by Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, I think I’ve found the answer. You can still have your insanely attractive vampires, teen girl narrator, and a splash of romance (Ok, so Twilight has more a tidal wave than a splash.) 

But, you can exchange the overpowering portion of teen angst, monotonous description, and Bella tunnel vision for a kickass heroine, a hilarious group of friends/sidekicks, and a healthy dose of action.

The House of Night series takes place in a world where vampires are no secret. Select teenagers are “marked” during their adolescence with a giant crescent tattoo in the middle of their forehead. If marked, a teenager must go live at the House of Night, a chain of boarding schools that train fledgling vampires and help them make it through The Change.

Marked begins when Zoey Redbird is chosen to become a vampire and follows her through her time at The House of Night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

You might think that after Harry Potter and the Gallagher Girls series, the boarding school premise is old hat. But P.C. and Kristin Cast douse it with religion and a matriarchical structure that has Girl Power written all over it and the device comes out shiny new. Plus, let’s be serious–who doesn’t love a good boarding school book?

And, if you were sick of Bella doting on Edward and thinking about him 24 hours a day, you’ll be happy to learn that Zoey Redbird is quite the opposite with her boyfriend(s)–especially in Betrayed.

Finally, one of the things that folks find a bit tedious about Twilight is the tunnel vision. There isn’t a whole lot of character development beyond Bella and Edward. In House of Night, Zoey wants friends and finds excellent ones. And, while I love the Twilight books, I think that that is a better message to be sending young girls.

 

For my review of Twilight check here. If you want something different, read my review of Wicked Lovely

To purchase Marked click here: Marked (House of Night, Book 1) and for Betrayed click here: Betrayed (House of Night, Book 2)

Status: Packing. Going away party tonight!!!!! I’m so excited, but I have so much to get done before then. I better get moving.

Point of View’s a Point of Contention

When writing a novel–or anything for that matter–one of the most pivotal decisions an author makes is choosing the point of view from which the story will be told.

I write Young Adult fiction, but the same holds true for other genres as well. Right now, first person point of view is “hot.” It seems that industry professionals have decided that writing in first person adds voice and spark and a closeness to character unachievable through third person.

I’ll agree that it is easier to find a voice while writing in first person. After all, you’re using your main character’s pattern of speech. This works especially well in YA because the narrator is usually the age of the reader and clear “teenspeak” can add both biting wit and humorous perspective.

But, is it the most natural?

I have long been an advocate of third person (preferably limited) even as it has become increasingly passe. Third person written in the past tense is the natural way to tell a story.

Even when first person is correctly “framed” (I’ll explain that later), the description given by the narrator is still often unrealistic. How someone’s elbow is bent, the narrator’s body position. These are all odd things for a person to tell regarding their own story.

I’m currently writing in first person and I am enjoying it–a lot. It’s fun to write from your character’s perspective. But, I’m constantly plagued by the question of why my character is telling the story. That’s what framing is. I’ll give you two examples. In The Confessions of Nat Turner the story is told by Nat who is in the process of confessing his crimes along with his motives to an attorney prior to his execution. Framing.

In The Immoralist, the main character is telling about how he has changed to his three friends who are, in turn, judging him.

Another common device is using a main character who is a writer and therefore it is natural that he or she would be describing in flowery detail the events that have passed.

However, even in something as fabulous as Nat’s tale, I’m thinking, Why would he relate every snippet of dialogue ever? Really. Why?

I don’t have anything against first person. I promise, I don’t. I’m only pointing out that it is a less natural way of storytelling and conversely, that third person is the most comfortable way to be told a story. Therefore, it’s the most comfortable for the reader.

And there is no reason that third person cannot remain extremely close to the characters. Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr provides an excellent example. Wicked Lovely is written in third person limited with alternating perspectives. Melissa does a fabulous job and at many points, the reader forgets that the author has written the book in third person. That’s how close the narrative is. With third person, we can still be tied to the character’s thoughts.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks is another example of a recent YA novel written in third.

While I may not always follow this myself, my opinion is that unless there is a compelling reason to write in first, stick to third. 

 

What do y’all think? Feel free to disagree.

 

For other posts on the process of writing read: The Squee and 7 Ways to Beat the Block

 

Status: I just finished Betrayed by P.C. and Kristin Cast. This is my second novel this week. Two books! And it’s Wednesday!! I think something must be wrong with me. No wonder, I’m having trouble getting things done. I’m going to try to snag the next House of Night book, Chosen, asap. But, in the meantime, I plan to read Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr and then Eclipse once Nate is done.

My SCOUT query is 2 for 2! I am incredibly excited about the latest request and the agent seems enthusiastic, too. Keep your fingers crossed, guys!

Middle Earth and Me

I know you have all been waiting on pins and needles for me to reveal my favorite book, so, because I’m a nice person, I’ll make you wait no longer. My favorite book is…

THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkein.

I thought it’d be incredibly difficult to narrow it down to one favorite book and, don’t get me wrong, I love love love about a zillion books. But The Hobbit started it all. My dad first gave me The Hobbit to listen to as a book-on-tape during a drive from Dallas to Colorado. Though I’d only been on the planet six short years, I could definitely say that that novel was the coolest thing…ever…to have existed. And it was.

After that, I listened to the book every night before bed. Following my discovery of The Hobbit, I suppose my parents got off easy on the whole bedtime story thing.

I promptly acquired the book–an old paperback edition with a map I loved drawn in the front. I tried to move onto the trilogy, but the later books were a bit hard for me at the time. So, I read The Hobbit 12 times. Count ‘em. Twelve. Until I was able to read the rest of the books in the trilogy and just about every other book that had anything to do with Lord of the Rings–including the very dry and slow-moving Silmarillion.

Anyway, The Hobbit showed me what reading should be. Becoming engrossed in another world is what we readers live for and I’ve never gotten over my love affair with the experience. We can only hope, as writers, to someday give others the feeling of total immersion and complete entrancement by words typed on a page.

These days, I’m still a huge SciFi/Fantasy geek. I’ll never give that up. I’ve read the classics of both genres such as LOTR and Dune and moved past those into the Harry Potters and Enders Games of the world.

What is your favorite genre and why??

 

For more  posts on the writing process, check out these posts: 10 Things to Look for in a Small Press and 7 Ways to Beat the Block

 

Status: I’m back from Ohio and am spending one more day in DC to get a few things done before I head back to Philly and pack up for good. Last night I finished Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast. I’ve already moved onto the second book of the House of Night series, Betrayed. I’ll review Marked this Saturday because I think for those that aren’t loving the Twilight saga, the House of Night series might do just the trick. (There’s a less angsty teenage lead who is a kickass heroine in her own right and a heck of a lot more action.)

I just got another agent request for WEIRD TATTOOS. It feels strange for those requests to come in when I’m so engrossed in my next project, but I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be. No complaints here!

Today is another day to buckle down on SCOUT. I have an outline as to how many pages should be devoted to which scene, etc. So we will see how that goes. I have a detailed synopsis as well, so that will help. I’ll also be doing some work on the blog today. I’m going to add some descriptions to the books listed on the “Books I Recommend” page and do a few administrative tasks.

Thursday Pics: Countdown to Austin

I can’t believe I’m moving to Texas SO SOON! I’ve boxed up most of my belongings. I’ve thrown away a couple dressers. I’m selling things on craigslist. I’m almost good to go. My official move-in date at my new apartment is August 11th, but I’ll be heading down to Texas a little earlier than that. But I’m moving out of my Philadelphia apartment next weekend, so that I can come to DC to spend some time with Nate.

Nate and I won’t see each other for a month and a half! That’s by far the most time we’ve had apart in three years and I am not happy about it. Nate will be moving down September 15.

The closer the move gets, the happier I am with my decision to attend law school at the University of Texas. I was deciding between UT, Cornell, and Vanderbilt. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been all that happy at Cornell. Vandy would have been fun, but I’m really excited about living in Austin and getting the big football school experience, since I went to Penn for undergrad. I can’t believe I’m going to be a lawyer. Weird.

Anyway, here are some pictures of Austin and UT and Nate and I not looking as excited to be Longhorns as we are on the inside.

 

     

 

 

 

Status: Tomorrow, I’m leaving for Cincinnati with Nate and his family for their family reunion. So last night I went to the Bethesda library to stock up on books for the trip. I got The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart, Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty, and Betrayed by P.C. and Kristin Cast. (Yes, more YA. I write YA, I read YA–I can’t help loving it, so no apologies here.) Then, Nate took me to the bookstore and, though we were just going to look, he surprised me by buying Marked by P.C. and Kristin Cast and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer. Now, there is only one copy of Eclipse between the two of us, so watch out!

Today, I’ve got to buckle down on SCOUT, so I can sent it out sometime next week or the following Monday by snail mail. Also, I’m feeling like I have ants in my pants. I started thinking about a submission I have out to an independent press that I love, love, love and I was just thinking how much I wanted an acceptance. Plus, I’m still waiting to hear from agents. How much can a girl take?