Rss Feed

Waiting on Wednesday: Beautiful Darkness

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event at Breaking the Spine that showcases pre-publication books that you can't wait to read! You can participate here.

My pick is "Beautiful Darkness" by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It's the second book in the Caster Chronicles, and the cover is absolutely beautiful! Here's the synopsis, from Goodreads: Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

What books are you waiting for?  

To Outline or Not To Outline

Seven months ago, when I decided to write "Winter Child" and I had the whole idea and everything, I had to make a decision - outline or no outline. At the time, I was really anxious to start writing because I was very excited about launching into Jayme's universe, and an outline sounded like a horribly boring thing to do. It was like going into a cold pool, one toe at a time. On the other hand, plunging in was like leaping into the water, and people like me panic and start floundering around and forget that the water is actually maybe four feet deep.

I decided on middle ground. I plotted out a few major scenes, decided where I was going to start, and began to write. Seven months later, I had a 74,000 word manuscript (okay, okay, I'm a slow and lazy and procrastinating writer! [begin lame excuse] I had school! [end lame excuse]) that I was pretty proud of. I stuck it in a drawer, because I'd heard advice about waiting a month, no, three months, no, six years, no, a WHOLE LIFE TIME before revising. But, okay, I got impatient, so I took it out a week later and started marking it up.

Scary. The first ten chapters were all right. The writing had to be tightened up here and there, some things had to be adjusted, some scenes taken out, some taken in, the usual. Probably the biggest change I wanted to make was adjusting Russell's character. He wasn't as edgy as I wanted him to be - too dark and brooding in some places and too light and funny in others.

Then I went on to the last four chapters, and they didn't make sense. They were pretty much the worst in the whole manuscript, there were some major plot holes going on, and basically, they sucked. I did a lot of X-ing out, and decided on a new way to take the story. It would make the story longer (which was okay, because I write rather superfluously so I have to do a lot of cutting anyway), and it was a totally new direction. There was no salvaging the last four chapters. This is going to have to be beyond a rewrite.

And I remember writing those last four. I was stuck in the story, not sure where to go with it, and so I decided to write them (when I was plotting the major scenes, I was great at coming up with those in the beginning and middle, but I sort of neglected the end) haphazardly. Now I have to pay the price with these horribly painful revisions, and I can't help but think that revisions would be a lot easier if only I did some outlining.

I used to dislike outlining because they're so confining. A big part of my writing is when I'll be typing and suddenly things I never thought of started happening and they worked. In "Winter Child", there are some places I'm really proud of that are the result of this.

But I've realized that outlines aren't set in stone. They're usually written on paper, which is fun to burn, or typed on the computer, which is fun to defenestrate. My point is, you don't have to exactly follow outlines. They can be changed and it's possible to make an outline that still allots a decent amount of freedom.

I started casually thinking about the next book I'm writing (it has zombies in it, therefore it shall be awesome), and I think I'm going to outline it.

What do you think? Outlining or no outlining?

The Dark Divine: Review

Synopsis: Grace Divine, daughter of the local pastor, always knew something terrible happened the night Daniel Kalbi disappeared—the night she found her brother Jude collapsed on the porch, covered in blood. But she has no idea what a truly monstrous secret that night really held. And when Daniel returns three years later, Grace can no longer deny her attraction to him, despite promising Jude she’ll stay away.

As Grace gets closer to Daniel, her actions stir the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind Jude and Daniel's dark secret . . . and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it—her soul.

Details: "The Dark Divine" by Bree Despain, 385 pages, 4.5 stars on Amazon

My Thoughts: I have to admit: when I first saw the cover, I wasn't sure what to think. It was a nice cover - simple and elegant. But now that I've finished the story, I still don't see what the cover has to do with anything. Oh well. It's pretty and that's what counts, right?

The main character, Grace, was interesting, but I never felt like I really got involved in her problems or felt sympathetic for her. I suppose part of the reason was that she treated the guy who liked her, Peter, rather aloofly, even though he seemed like a perfectly nice, sweet, and overall charming guy. He invited her to go bowling multiple times with him along with her brother and his girlfriend, and she turned him down harshly. When she realized that she was falling in love with Daniel, she never felt an urge to let Peter know that she liked someone else, and on the night when she and Daniel officially got together, Peter conveniently - and suddenly - showed his "true colors", which were drastically different than ever hinted at in the story.

On the other hand, the werewolves bit were done quite well. A lot of paranormal romances feel like they read the same but this one was different. "The Dark Divine" had religious undertones, and while I didn't really like them that much, it was original. Daniel being a werewolf was portrayed as something dark and sinister, and there were parts in the book where I just had to keep reading. 

Overall - it could have been done better, but it was still pretty darn good. 3 out of 5 smiley faces.

Vampires and Werewolves and Angels, Oh My!

No. This is not going to be another post about how much I absolutely despise anything sparkly (except dinosaurs and unicorns) and werewolves are going to be the end of the world and angels suck and that they need to become more coordinated because why, why do they keep FALLING? *hyperventilates* But no, I'll resist. I'll even admit something:

I finished a book last night called "The Dark Divine" (review to come). It had werewolves in it. And I didn't like the book that much... but not because of the werewolves. Anyone who knows me is probably laughing at that funny joke I just made, but seriously - the werewolf part was good.

So now I'm rethinking my I-hate-sparklies philosophy. As my friends know, I've spent probably several lifetimes ranting about how unoriginal all vampire-werewolf-zombie-angel-demon stories are and how every one is a carbon copy of Twilight and Oh my God, isn't that the EXACT phrase ("I stood up") used in that other vampire book I was forced to read? THOSE UNORIGINAL JERKS!!!!!!!!! How is it that a hater like me enjoyed the werewolf part in "The Dark Divine"?

I don't think originality is much of an issue when it comes to sparklies (henceforth all commonly used paranormal creatures shall be known as sparklies), like I used to think. I mean, there are a crazy amount of books that are too similar to Twilight, and we all know that Twilight is a spin off from Vampire Diaries so someone call the cops right now, but is that really such a huge issue?

Consider the book "Speak". I like "Speak", and you (most likely) do too. It's a friggin' work of genius. But we've all read five hundred rape stories before "Speak", and we'll read five hundred more after, where the main character is raped and loses her friends and then recovers. So why was "Speak" so good? The story wasn't original, but the way the author chose to write the story was.

And so "The Dark Divine" approached werewolves differently than other books I read. It didn't try to give one of those cringe-worthy "scientific" explanations of lycanthropy (although I wasn't a fan of the religious one it did give), and it somehow made being a werewolf seem darker and sinister than Edward's sparkles. That's why the book was sorta-okay and kinda-good.

But still. I don't recommend you recommending me a sparkly book. Unless the book itself is sparkly. In which case, I WANT TO READ IT NAO K?

What are your thoughts on the sparklies? Have you read "The Dark Divine"? Do you know any paranormal romance that was actually pretty darn good?

Nothing Like Revisions

You wake up and mmm... what's the smell? Ah, yes - nothing quite like the fresh morning scent of revisions.

Oh crap.

I have finally begun tackling revisions on "Winter Child" - my YA novel - and you would not believe how scary it is. I've been scribbling notes all over the pages (it feels incredibly weird to see so many sheets of paper covered in words I wrote) and making big fat X's and sobbing. If I cry hard enough, the ink will be too smudged for me to see all the horrible things I've written, with the adverbs (ugh!) and adjectives (eww!) and repetitive phrases (oh, God, someone call the police already!).

At the same time, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I had mental images of crossing out and crossing out and crossing out until all that was left was: "Chapter 1". Luckily, I didn't actually have to cross out that much. I have something like this left: "Chapter 1. [indistinct scribble] [tear drops] [melted ice cream] [cupcake frosting] [sweat] [blood]".

In any case, here's a shout out to all those that have offered condolences:

Suspiciously blank, guys. Suspiciously blank.