Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"So what's the answer?"

Over on Jack Getze's blog, his main character Austin Carr is debating POV, and the discussion leaned toward the magic-bullet combination that makes a reader forgive the problems a story may have.

Is it Story?

Is it Craft?

Is it Voice?

Or is it D) some variegated combination of all the above, plus more? Now granted, an agent can come and tell us what makes them offer representation, and I'd welcome it. [I'd welcome the offer too, but anyway (grin) ]

I want to know what does it for readers (writers also read, so you guys chime in too). If you're reading a book where the craft is lacking, or the story drags, or the voice is dry, what keeps you in it? What captures you?

I know any one of these things can make you want to toss the book through a wall if it's REALLY poorly done, but what has to be done well enough to help you gloss over the gaffes?

Rescue of the Week

Going back to the cats this week. I know, I know, but the kitties need homes too. And for someone who isn't home a lot, or doesn't have a nice yard for a dog, a cat who will stay indoors all the time can be a great buddy. I especially love the coloring on this calico.

She is described as being perfect for someone who works during the day but can spend time with her at night. Sounds like a great companion who can take care of herself while you're away at work and then be ready to pick up your spirits when you get home.


Friday, December 12, 2008

"Doc, I'll get enough sleep when I'm dead."

I've been told by several authors that one of the greatest compliments you can give them is to let them know their book cost you a night of sleep. Think about how much that must mean to them. The story and characters were so engaging that you literally couldn't put the book down.

Lately I've had a couple of those. I let Zoe Sharp know that her FIRST DROP had me dragging the next day. I emailed Michelle Gagnon to let her know my students could tell I hadn't slept a week because of BONEYARD. Though I haven't told him yet, Brett Battles owes my in-laws an apology, because I was a weary, miserable jackass for a wedding we attended because of THE CLEANER.

And Marcus Sakey? Yeah, my students would like to know why my handwriting is so tough to read on the work I gave back last week. I'm sending all of their complaints to you buddy. (If any of you haven't read THE BLADE ITSELF, you need to. Today. Now if possible.)

I can only hope my stories will one day do the same (and I'll gleefully apologize to anyone who has such a "complaint" about any of them).

So spill it. What books have cost you a night of repose? Which authors had you looking for an injection of adrenaline the next day to keep you awake at the wheel?

And, did you contact them to tell them? If not, you might want to think about that. It's been my experience that authors are very friendly and really cool when they find out their book was too good for you to put down. And why wouldn't you want to spread good feelings like that around?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Rescue of the Week

In case you haven't seen, I have really great news. I don't know if this blog has had even a remote effect on the situation, but so far every one of the rescues showcased here has been adopted. I haven't been able to find out for sure if Brutus and Buttercup went home together, but they were adopted the same weekend, so I think so. If one of these great pups or kitties is now yours, please drop a line in the comments to let me know how things are going.

And with that said, let's introduce the newest Rescue of the Week!

Cassius is not actually at the Wake SPCA, he's "away at summer camp" for the time being. He's a big fellah at about 80 lbs., so it would be better if you have a good-sized yard and are comfortable with larger breeds.

****EDIT: CASSIUS has been adopted!!!****

Monday, December 8, 2008

"What, are we havin' a contest or somethin'?"

Over at Nathan Bransford's blog, there is indeed a contest taking place. Out of the goodness of his heart (or the madness in his head), writers can enter their first paragraph in the hopes that he will read it, like it, put it into the finals, and allow it to win the writer a tiny but ridiculously valuable piece of Mr. Bransford's time. If you are a writer, and you don't at least try this, there is something wrong with you. Then again, if you don't try this, I stand a better chance. Still, I'd rather go up against the best and win, so click the link and turn something in!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Kids these days...."

Okay, so the other day I started my lesson working through some of HAMLET, and I discovered that most of them hadn't read the previous night. Okay, it's HAMLET, even for academic level Seniors, it can be difficult. The problem is that some of them hadn't been reading their assignments on a semi-regular basis. So I asked why.

Because they don't read at all, some said. And a few even said they don't see the point, because they don't plan to go to college, so why bother?

And yet they watch movies all the time because they "love a really good story."

Ugh. This drives me nuts, and I doubt I'm alone in this. They want a story, but according to many of them, they like the blockbusters where they don't have to actually think. Now understand, this isn't all of my students. Not even a majority. But it was enough that it concerned me.

Many hadn't read a book for pleasure (rather than for school) in over a year. And in quite a few cases, I had to discuss what movies they liked to figure out the kind of story they might find interesting. Wanna know why? Because when I asked, many of them said they would have no idea where to start in a bookstore to find the kind of books they might like.

Let me repeat that. They had no idea what GENRE they might like, and where to find it in bookstores. So I did what I could to help, but I wanted to open this up to you guys to give me more suggestions. As far as movies, they named everything, including sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, historical fiction, romance, mystery, military, etc.

So if you were to recommend books/authors in any of those genres to a high school senior who desperately needs to read something interesting (to get them back into it), what or who would it be? Any suggestions welcome, give 'em your best shot!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rescue of the Week

Meet Kip - A sweet tri-colored beagle who can sure use a nice, warm forever-home for the Christmas season. Instead of a new puppy, consider taking a wonderful, loving adult dog like this who will require less maintenance (potty training and the like) and still give unconditional love for hours at a time.