Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Number 100

So...guess what, guys? Today, July 31, marks my 100th blog post! *shoots confetti*

Okay, so I don't know about you, but this makes me happy. For the past five months I've been able to commit myself to this thing, and that's a pretty big step. I've talked about reading, writing, music, book reviews, and held numerous cover reveals, book blitzes, and blog tour spotlights.

And guess what? I really couldn't do it without readers and people who, for some reason, think I have smart things to say.  So thank you, readers, because I ultimately couldn't do this without ya'll. To prove it, I have a question: what do you think?

While The Wallflower is my baby, ultimately I love to write about things that appeal to you. What's important? What topic would make you stop what you're doing and read my words? This is a community effort; if you don't read my words, do I even have a reason to write them?

Sorry for the philosophy, there, but you get the point. In order to make it easier on you, I've created this nifty little survey: just click here, answer a few questions, and I'll love you forever.

Another thing: I've been buying books all summer, and the joy I feel at returning home from work to find a new book at my door (or on my table if my roommate's home and was able to accept it) is a joy like no other. So, to spread the cheer, I'm holding a 100th Post Giveaway in which you can win one of my favorite books (I'll provide a list, you get to choose) or a $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card!

-(1) Physical Copy of one of Rae's Favorite Books
 (as in, if you win, you choose ONE):

-(1) $10 Giftcard to Barnes & Noble

**Giveaway Open to US Only**
a Rafflecopter giveaway 

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A thanks, a survey, and a giveaway. Enter to win books or a B&N giftcard from @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cover Reveal: Louder Than Words

Today's cover reveal is for LOUDER THAN WORDS, coming this September from Swoon Romance! As usual, first you've got to read the blurb:

Louder Than Words
by Iris St. Clair 
Release Date: 09/16/14
Swoon Romance

Disappointment has been on speed dial in Ellen Grayson's life lately. Her dad's dead, her mom is numbing the grief with drugs and alcohol, and her so-called friends are slowly abandoning her. Trusting a popular teacher with her troubles should have been safe, shouldn't have led to an unwelcome seduction attempt, shouldn't have sent her running to the girls' bathroom for the final moments of her Junior year. Lesson learned. Best to keep all the sordid details of her life to herself.

Enter Rex Jacobi, a cocky teen recently transplanted from New York and fellow summer camp employee. Though his quick wit and confidence draws her in, she's not letting him get too close, not til she's sure she can trust him. By the time Rex's charming persistence wears down her resistance, it's too late. He's put Ellen on the perma-pal shelf and shifted his romantic attentions to her arch-rival. Even worse, the teacher who tried to seduce her is still misbehaving with impunity.

With her ability to trust as shaky as a chastity vow on prom night, Ellen must decide if she has enough remaining courage to speak up about her teacher and risk retribution, to tell Rex how she feels and risk heartbreak, or hold all her secrets inside, the only safe place she knows. (source:goodreads)

Meet the Author:

Iris St. Clair is the pen name for a long-suffering cubicle worker by day, a Walter Mitty-like dreamer by night. (Her alter ego Tatiana Ivanadance also choreographs gravity-defying routines in those fantasies, but that's another bio.)

No matter what genre she writes, she prefers witty, insecure heroines and kind, persistent heroes able to break through to the gooey heart inside.

In high school she was voted most likely to win at Monopoly and Clue, but least likely to throw a ball anywhere near a target. Thank goodness writing requires less hand-eye coordination, punctuation errors notwithstanding.

Iris believes in the two-year "fish or cut bait" dating rule and has a 20+ year marriage and two teenaged sons as proof of concept. She lives, writes, dreams and dances in the rainy Portland, OR area.

And are ya'll ready for the cover? For the fabulous thing that is this cover?

Louder Than Words
by Iris St. Clair 
Release Date: 09/16/14
Swoon Romance

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Check out the LOUDER THAN WORDS @Iris_St_Clair cover reveal @swoonromance via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Blitz: FRED

On this lovely Tuesday, we get to say Happy Release Day to a book that promises to be...interesting (no matter what the title says)

The Utterly Uninteresting & Unadventurous Tales of Fred - The Vampire Accountant

Some people are born boring. Some live boring. Some even die boring. Fred managed to do all three, and when he woke up as a vampire, he did so as a boring one. Timid, socially awkward, and plagued by self-esteem issues, Fred has never been the adventurous sort.

One fateful night – different from the night he died, which was more inconvenient than fateful – Fred reconnects with an old friend at his high school reunion. This rekindled relationship sets off a chain of events thrusting him right into the chaos that is the parahuman world, a world with chipper zombies, truck driver wereponies, maniacal necromancers, ancient dragons, and now one undead accountant trying his best to “survive.” Because even after it’s over, life can still be a downright bloody mess. 

Meet the Author

Drew Hayes is an aspiring author from Texas who has written several books and found the gumption to publish a few (so far). He graduated from Texas Tech with a B.A. in English, because evidently he’s not familiar with what the term “employable” means. Drew has been called one of the most profound, prolific, and talented authors of his generation, but a table full of drunks will say almost anything when offered a round of free shots. Drew feels kind of like a D-bag writing about himself in the third person like this. He does appreciate that you’re still reading, though.

Drew would like to sit down and have a beer with you. Or a cocktail. He’s not here to judge your preferences. Drew is terrible at being serious, and has no real idea what a snippet biography is meant to convey anyway. Drew thinks you are awesome just the way you are. That part, he meant. Drew is off to go high-five random people, because who doesn’t love a good high-five? No one, that’s who.

Ready for another fantastic giveaway?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Organizing Your Novel's Plot

AKA: Creating a Murder Board is Extremely Helpful When Plotting (or Replotting) Your Novel

The summer before my senior year in high school I took a Creative Writing course at the local community college ("local" meaning forty-five minutes away, but that's another story). During this course, we focused not only on writing short stories, but methods in which you can revise them.

One of my favorite included printing out the manuscript, and taking a pair of scissors to it. Literally. You physically cut the manuscript into different scenes/paragraphs/sentences, so instead of x pages you've got countless little snippets of the short story. Then you get to put the puzzle together, not in the way it came but in an entirely new way.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever heard of this method. It's a great way to reorganize scenes, pieces of dialogue, etc, so that you can see how your MS would be different had you simply ordered things a different way (for example, Bob going to the store after he runs somebody over with his car, instead of before).

The thing is, this method is a whole lot harder when you have a full-length novel on your hands. if you tried taking scissors to it, you'd have a miniature mountain of snippets, instead of a small anthill that would come from a short story.

Luckily, I devised my own fool-proof way to turn my novels into puzzles, which enables me to reorganize the order of my scenes without actually cutting the pages (either on the computer or with a physical pair of scissors).

What You Need:
-Index Cards
-A Flat Surface (I enjoy using a bulletin board, in which case you'll also need some fun push pins)
-One Colorful Sharpie (choose a color that makes you happy; I enjoy pink and orange, personally)

What You Do:
-Write every scene of your novel onto an index card, one scene per card
-If your novel is finished, put those cards in the order the scenes happen in your book (I like choosing a grid-like formation, but you can also put them in one straight line like a timeline, or any other design that makes sense to you)
-Play. Take one card and slip it before a different one. Think critically about how that move would affect your novel, and whether that change would be positive or negative. Heck, maybe it opens some new doors?

It's that easy, really. Want to know something cool? This trick is also extremely handy when your novel is unfinished, as well.

When I write, I try to write in order. Occasionally, however, I get ideas for scenes that won't happen for another 10-20 k, sometimes further on. And, sometimes, I get a whole jumble of these, which means I have more scenes than an actual, coherent, plot.

Take those scenes and write them on index cards. Then start playing with the order until you come up with something you like. Perk? It's like a visual outline, and all you really have to worry about is filling in the blanks with fluff ("fluff" used in a very endearing way).

I use this method because it's an easy way to take a step back from your novel and look at it differently. Instead of paragraphs and sentences, you have maybe a phrase on a card. Those cards are then way easier to move around each other than trying to maneuver huge blocks of text on a screen (or on a piece of paper, if you've printed your MS out). This is the big picture you're looking at; instead of the details, it allows you to work with the main idea/plot point of each scene within your novel, and look at how that point interacts with all of those around it.

This means that it's extremely useful for both revisions and when you're in the beginning phases of writing a new novel.

Here's an example (yes, this board is virtual, but my excuse is that I accidentally left my own bulletin board at home. Thus, it's currently 350 miles away from me at this moment in time *cries*):

Original Board:

Revised Board:

Alright, these "scenes" are based off a rough sketch of one of my earliest manuscripts (which, unfortunately, will never see the light of day despite it always being close to my heart). Firstly, notice that there's not much description; this is pure, basic scenes. Lots of room for filler that would include emotions, descriptions, dialogue, etc. This will enable you to imagine new reactions your characters might have to certain stimuli.

Take Sam (short for Samantha; the MC). In the original version, she has a normal day. Then she overhears things between two family members that isn't good news for her. Then she bakes a cake (which, in all actuality is just weird to see placed there). In the revised version, the order of those things are switched around, and placed after nightmares. Therefore, in the revised version Sam would be on edge from page one. The baking makes more sense, as a gesture of goodwill, but after she overhears the conversation I can imagine her leaving the cake to burn (or maybe she drops it).

This way, when she meets a new character, she's even more on edge and distrustful of people than usual.

But do you kind of see where I'm going with this? This way, you can step back, look at the bigger picture that your novel offers instead of bogging your brain down with the details. And, trust me, a physical board and index cards is a lot easier to work with than a virtual copy than I made with photoshop (just saying).

**In case ya'll are wondering about the title of "Murder Board," it's actually a funny story. The first time I created one of these, I was making a character map: each character had an index card, and there was string connecting them so I could see who knew who and how. My mother walked in, saw it, and compared it to those boards you always see on crime shows. Thus, the Murder Board was born.**

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Why Airports Are Good for Writers and Readers

Today I'm very excited to present ya'll with a guest post from debut author Adi Alsaid, part of the LET'S GET LOST blog tour hosted by YA Bound. Take a look!


Why Airports are Great for Writers

One of my ultimate go-tos for inspiration is people-watching, and there’s no greater place than an airport to people watch. The sheer mass and diversity of people, the potential for imagined stories. I could sit at an airport and watch for hours even if I didn’t have a flight. I have done that, actually. When I lived in Vegas, sometimes I’d go to the airport baggage claim with a friend and some coffee and we’d try to guess where everyone was coming from, try to decipher airport codes we weren’t familiar with.

Airports offer the freedom to observe. You have a few hours before your flight boards to do nothing but see all sorts of people gathered together, to imagine whatever you want about them, even if you are wildly wrong. Grab some coffee and sit at your gate, take a seat at the overpriced bar or at a restaurant that faces out at the terminal, put a book in front of you in case traffic slows down, a notebook next to that, keep an ear perked for eavesdropping some conversation. Watch the material come to you.

And if you’re the type of writer that gets inspiration from other people’s lives, stealing away their details for later creative use (aren’t we all that kind of writer?), just start talking to someone. Even with the walking-on-eggshells feeling that airports sometimes have these days, where your bags must be with you at all times and suspicious behavior might be defined as not getting any cream cheese with your bagel, people are still extremely open to each other at airports. The fact that everyone is just passing through opens people up to conversation, I’ve found. Seatmates in particular, but at bookstores and restaurants and anywhere else you might find yourself sitting next to someone at an airport. If they find you annoying and don’t want to talk, they’ll let you know by answering only in grunts and continuing to read their magazine. But sometimes they’ll unload their stories on you, like the flight attendant for Air Force Two whom I met and had traveled the world (something like 87 countries?). Or the poor diplomat from Ecuador whose flight from New York to Mexico to Ecuador turned into a five-stop 24-hour+ nightmare.
Attractive people you’ll never see again, groups of teens dreaming of adventures, escapes, reunions, dreading the leaving of them. So many little scenes from daily life, on display for a much larger audience. Mothers trying to place a fast food order for a family of six, a couple already reminiscing about their trip, siblings ignoring each other with headphones. Businessmen on phone calls, working on their computers with a cup of coffee in hand, unwinding at the corner seat of the bar. 

Where there are people there are stories, simply put.


Well, I think that was just wonderful, and I'm not just saying that. Airports fascinate me on a personal level, so my favorite part about traveling normally includes the god-awful early-morning/late-night trips to and from the airport.

And don't forget to check out Adri Alsaid's fabulous new book:

Let's Get Lost
Release Date: 07/29/14
Harlequin Teen

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost.

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most.

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way. (source:goodreads)


Meet the Author:

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it's no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him more places will eventually be added to the list. Let's Get Lost is his YA debut.

And for everyone whose made it this far, how about a bit of a giveaway?

1 signed hard cover copy of Let’s Get Lost
1 Let’s Get Lost luggage tag
1 Harlequin TEEN notebook
1 Let’s Get Lost sachel
1 Harlequin TEEN tote bag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope ya'll had as much fun today as I did!

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Why Airports are Great for Writers + GIVEAWAY @adialsaid  @harlequinteen #letsgetlost via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

@adialsaid talks airports, people watching to prep for #letsgetlost + GIVEAWAY @harlequinteen via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Motivation Must-Haves

While perusing the Twitter-sphere and chatting with my own writing buddies this week, I've noticed a pattern of many people talking about motivation: either they had it, they had a lack of it, or they were talking about where it came from.

One of these people was Sarah Dessen, author of somewhere around eleven books (a few of which I've read and am a big fan of). However, while cleaning she found thirteen abandoned manuscripts. That means thirteen books she'd written and never published, for one reason or another (click here to view the tweet). Some of these were written after she'd been published.

In the quest for motivation, you might be asking: why does this matter, Rae? How do failed manuscripts from an actual published and best-selling author keep you motivated, Rae?

Good questions, ya'll.

Rae's Motivation Must-Haves

1. Inspiration

My inspiration comes from a variety of places: music, movies, college classes, and practically every other aspect of every day life. There's one thing in particular, though, that originally inspired me to begin writing, and it's something that continues to inspire every time I pick up a new book.

If they can do it, why can't I? ("They" meaning the authors)

See, I'm a privately competitive person. Externally, I'm chill. Internally, if I feel like someone's one-upped me in some way then I have to figure out how to best them, or at least prove that I can do it, too. It's not for anyone but myself. So when I see books lining the shelves at my local bookstores, and read a book that leaves me speechless, then I'm twice as motivated as I was before to sit down at my laptop and crank out a few thousand words.

Just to prove that I can.

Back to Sarah Dessen: her posts and pictures about thirteen unpublished manuscripts, many of them written in the middle of her bestselling career, proves how human she is. And how human other authors are, because is Sarah Dessen has unpublished manuscripts then oyu can bet that many, many, many other well-known authors do, too. It brought her down to my level, so some of the pressure of the career that I hope for myself is lifted. Say I sell one book, or two, or three, but what happens if and when I write something that doesn't work out?

It's not the end of the world.

Therefore, Sarah Dessen is inspiring (and that's how she fits in), and inspiration equals motivation.

2. A Support Group

This. Is. Key.

Ask any writer, and they'll tell you that they had an amazing support group, most likely made up of other writers, which then became critique partners. These are the people you bounce ideas off of and who will rip your manuscript to shreds if need be, all while waving pom-poms and bragging to their friends about you. When the chips are down, they'll also (hopefully) push you. They'll tell you to finish your manuscript, remind you why you loved it to begin with, and ultimately they will never lose faith in you or your abilities.

And if somebody else believes in you that much, you're bound to perk up a little bit and say, "You know what? I got this."

On a personal level, this also brings out my competitive side again. My support group/critique partners are two girls whose writing I admire more than almost anyone. It's what drew me to want to get to know them to begin with (and then their personalities did the rest and I latched on like the little leech I am). Because I admire their writing so much, I respect them. Because I respect them, I basically shove my writing at them with a red pen and go "READ IT AND MAKE IT BLEED," because I know that they won't steer me wrong.

At the same time, their writing makes me insanely jealous. Of them. And, once again, I feel the need to prove to myself that I'm just as good (hasn't happened yet, but one day?).

Behind every great writer is somebody who pushed them, cheered them on, and gave them the truth when they absolutely need it. Just like if you're running a marathon, if you've got somebody cheering you on then it's extremely doubtful that you'll give up.

3. A Working Environment

This means that you need to have a place that provides a good writing vibe, and not just any writing vibe. It needs to work with your writing vibe. It's wherever you feel good ju-ju (I've always wanted to use that term). What you need to remember is that nobody's writing vibe is the same, which means that many writers' working environments are totally different. Don't copy others; copy yourself.

For an example, let me describe my writing environment. Recently I've discovered that if I slouch really far down on my couch (with my legs propped up and my laptop in my lap), then I'm really comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that it's difficult to get up. Then I turn the television on (movie or television show, preferably something I've seen before so I can tune it out and keep the background noise), and I pull up iTunes on my laptop so I can blast something good, either a band I've been obsessed with or a playlist (but always something that works with the tone and vibe of my current WIP; recently, it's been Rise Against). If it's bright outside, I close the blinds and thrust myself into darkness.

I get weird looks from my roommate when she walks through the front door, but hey. It's my vibe; not hers.

Then again, I have some friends who need total silence; no background noise. Some prefer working outside. Others need to be in  a crowded environment, like the stereotypical cafe (done it; it rocks). Like I said, the most important thing is to figure out what works best for you.

At the same time (here's where I become a hypocrite): it's a valuable asset to train yourself to be able to convert any place into your working environment. You never know when inspiration will strike, or when you'll have a spare moment, or when you're stranded in the middle of an airport. Carry headphones; train yourself to block everything out if you're easily distracted.

The next time you're back in your working environment, you'll probably just appreciate it that much more.

4. Amenities

This section's just a free-for-all. Like food and drink. My foods include almonds and yogurts (lately, at least), and my drinks include diet soda, coffee, water, and hot teas. Many writers also enjoy chocolate and other sweets, but remember to tell your friends not to feed the bear when they're writing.

I also like to include working out in this section. I run/job almost every day, and there's nothing quite like jumping on the treadmill (or actually taking a job down the street) to get those creative juices flowing.

Write notes to yourself that remind you how awesome you are. Read over everything you have in your WIP to pump yourself up and get excited to keep going. Look forward to all of those edits you get to do that will make it even better (please tell me that I'm not the only one who gets excited over editing. I can't be alone in this, right?).


Alright, so this is my list of Motivation Must-Haves (well, the first three, mostly). These are the trends I've seen repeat themselves, but these are by no means the formula for success. Every writing process is different (which means the formula for success really doesn't exist at all).

My question for ya'll: what are your Motivation Must-Haves? This is something that intrigues me to no end, so feel free to share!

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Blogger/Writer @Rae_Slater talks motivation, inspiration, and her must-haves for getting things done (Click to Tweet)

How @sarahdessen fits into this blogger's Motivation Must-Haves, and other tips for actually writing via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Blitz: Time of Ruin

Alright, guys; today's special post is to introduce to ya'll a new book by Shauna Granger that just released yesterday! Check it out:

Time of Ruin
(Ash and Ruin #2)
Release Date: 07/22/14

The world has ended, and hope is the most dangerous thing left.

Battered and bruised after barely escaping San Francisco with their lives, Kat, Dylan, and Blue press north – desperate to reach the possibility of a new home.

But strange, monstrous ravens are tracking the remaining survivors, food is becoming scarce, gasoline is running short, and people are becoming suicidal, making survival almost impossible.

And the Pestas are growing bolder. Somehow, their numbers are growing.

The further north they go, the harder it becomes to ignore the signs that they’ve made a fatal mistake. Kat must face the impossible truth that there is no escape, there is no safe haven, and their worst nightmares don’t come close to their new reality. (source:goodreads)

Haven't checked out the first book in the Ash and Ruin series? Take a look, right here: World of Ash.

Meet the Author:

Like so many other writers, Shauna grew up as an avid reader, but it was in high school that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Five years ago, Shauna started work on her Elemental Series. She released the first installment, Earth, on May 1, 2011 and has since released four sequels, with the series coming to an end with Spirit. She is currently hard at work on a new Urban Fantasy series, staring a spunky witch with a smush-faced cat named Artemis.

Read an Excerpt:

Sitting on the bumper again, my jagged nails scratch at the plastic as I fight the urge to tell Dylan to hurry. Blue looks up at me and whines. I shake my head at him and pet him with the toe of my boot. His eyes are dark blue in the evening light. Blue drops his head and looks at Dylan, his ears perked up into two triangles. I follow his gaze. Dylan’s still standing, holding his instruments of destruction, and staring at the raging fire.

Blue pushes to his feet and barks one sharp, loud yelp. My hand drifts over to the rifle by my leg as I let my eyes slide from Dylan’s back to search for the source of Blue’s panic.

“Dylan.” I mean to call to him, but my voice comes out in a strangled whisper.

I swallow as I stand and pull the rifle with me. Across the street, the shadows between the houses are taking shape. They’re no longer the snapping, twisting formless shadows from the fire, but something more, something substantial. Dylan lifts the can of fluid and squirts more onto the fire, making it spike and lick the air.

“Dylan,” I try again, my voice a little louder. The rifle is in my hands now. The stock is pressed into my shoulder as I aim at the shadows peeling away from the deeper black.

Still Dylan doesn’t hear me, or is ignoring me.

Blue barks repeatedly, backing up until he hits the car. I find my voice and scream his name loud enough that it hurts my throat. Finally he looks at me, his face cast in shadows with the light behind him. I can’t make out his features, but I can make out the horde of Pestas behind him.

“Run!” I aim the gun as I walk backward around the car.

Instead of listening to me, he looks back to see what has terrified me so. They shuffle forward, lines of them spilling out into the cul-de-sac. Dylan takes two steps backward, nearly tripping over his feet and making me scream again. I rip the rear door open for Blue to get in the car. Slamming the door behind Blue, I lift the rifle and fire a shot, aiming well away from Dylan. The Pestas cringe in unison, as though they are all puppets controlled by the same set of strings.

“Run, dammit!” I scream.


And now, are ya'll ready for a giveaway?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A post about TIME OF RUIN by @dyingechoes, an excerpt, and a GIVEAWAY via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)

Check out TIME OF RUIN by @dyingechoes + GIVEAWAY via @Rae_Slater (Click to Tweet)


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tea Time: The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die

**Warning: Spoilers May Abound**

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die, April Henry

“Take her out back and finish her off.”

She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her.

And that she must run.

In her riveting style, April Henry crafts a nail-biting thriller involving murder, identity theft, and biological warfare. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.(source:goodreads)

Cover-Probably the best part of this whole book. It's creepy, it fits the tone and plot of the novel, and the added plus of the eyes being "ripped out" totally plays with the theme of our MC not knowing who she is.

Ultimately, not bad.

Narrative-I can't lie to you: this is where this review goes south. The story is told in first-person POV from the perspective of our MC, Cady. She's supposed to be a high-school student, I'm betting sophomore or junior, but the voice reflects more of a middle school; maybe.  The story is told too simply; I had to double-check the book's description on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble more than a few times to make sure this book isn't Middle-Grade. Nope.

Then the dialogue. The dialogue was clunky and unnatural. It's the simplest way I can put it, and it's actually really hard to try and continue to describe it without using the same adjectives. Unbelievable, maybe? None of it sounded like the way people actually talk. There was so much of a character sitting down with another, and telling an entire story almost to the end, including details that don't need to be included. I don't know; even when persons over the age of 25 were speaking, it was more like sitting in a lecture hall while they spilled the entire lesson in less than ten minutes.

Plot-I wanted to like this book, because the premise is awesome. A girl who can't remember who she is, whose been tortured, and who's the subject of an underworld manhunt? And biological warfare? That's literally everything I love.

It was carried out in a way that I most definitely did not love.

When the very fabric of logistical reality wasn't being skewed, the characters were coming up with increasingly ridiculous stunts to get around. When they weren't doing that? They were completely avoiding the very obvious hints being scattered around the novel about what and who they should believe. I'm all for an author trying to make their narrator unreliable, but in this case it just made me roll my eyes and wish I had the courage to review a book half-read. I also knew every bad-guy and liar from ten pages away. The obviousness of when things would go wrong and how were too easy.

Basically, I couldn't tell if the author was trying for an unreliable narrator, or dramatic irony. Neither of those succeeded.

The biological warfare? supposedly a new strain of hantavirus. The only thing "new" about the strain the author came up with was that the timeline to death was sped up from 4-10 days to 3. The biologosy of it (muscle aches, lungs filling with fluids/blood, etc) is the same as the strain of hantavirus known as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Guys, I knew this without research. However, if I'm getting something wrong then I will gladly welcome any comments that correct me.

I also know that authorities would not be fooled into thinking the burned corpse of a chimp was actually the burned corpse of a human.

Characters-To put it easily: little, if any, characterization.

I understand that Cady was freaking out over not remembering things for most of the book. That doesn't give her an excuse to be an absolute idiot and cling to the first guy she meets who doesn't try to shoot her. There's a moment when she and Ty are in a library trying to figure out who she is, and they come across a Facebook account with her name on it; since the most recent update was from about an hour before, she assumed she was crazy even though her memory loss was from twelve hours before.

The clingy-thing? She goes from begging Ty not to leave her alone to telling him to  save himself within the stance of a single, three-sentence paragraph. She constantly overlooked the most obvious clues that somebody was setting her up and decided to go ahead and let some random kid tag along with her just because he provided her with an out when she was in trouble just once.

Which brings me to Ty.

He was better. He's studying to be a doctor, went from homeless to getting an apartment with a friend (and he has a job). He finds this poor girl who's obviously in trouble and helps her out, based on the philosophy that if nobody helped him he'd probably be dead or on the streets.

All-around good kid.

Then he decides that it's a good idea to see her through whatever problems she's going through. To give him credit, he's much smarter than Cady, never leaving her alone with people they just met, even those they can supposedly trust.

Everybody else in the book (and I'm including Cady in this) was a cardboard cutout. They had no dimension, even Cady's parents (who admittedly were only actually there for a total of five pages). The bad guys were talking guns without any dimension; everything came down to a cliche excuse of money ("Everything would have been great if they'd just taken the money!" was their excuse), and they were also incredibly easy to beat. Cady and Ty rarely had to lift a finger; the one guy who did end up getting a bit beat up whined about it the whole time because he's "just an information specialist."

I already mentioned they were all transparent, right? Or was it at least implied?

Like I said: I wanted to like this book. I couldn't. It was good for maybe a premise, but there was still so much that looked like it needed to be fixed and just completely redone. I'm even being generous with a few of those ratings.

Final Answer: 1.75 / 5

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Choosing Point of View

If you read my book reviews, you'll have noticed that I begin my "Narrative" section by describing the point of view of the book, and whose perspective we see it from. This detail of writing is probably one of my most important (as far as the technical aspects of it go) because it influences the voice of the words; it can pull a reader in or shut them out.

Guess which one you want to do?

Kisa Whipkey, the Editorial Director at Reuts, wrote an excellent post on her blog that outlines the different kinds of POV; read it here. Since she's already done an excellent run-down of it all, I'll save my own descriptions and get to the real meat of what I'm going to talk about: how to narrow down which POV is the best one for your novel.

You know the basics: the main POVs that're used in fiction include first ("I") and third ("he/she"), and third can be broken down to omniscient (the reader knows everything) and limited (the reader knows only what a limited number of characters know). The lesser-used POV is that of second person ("you").

As the author, you get to decide how you tell your story. The problem that many people can run into when they begin a new WIP is that they don't know which option would be the best way to tell their story.

Sometimes, it comes to you right away. I have the tendency to narrate a few ideas in a my head when I'm beginning, to try out different voices using my own imagination before getting words down on a page. So, sometimes, I know right away which is the best; it's whichever POV comes with the idea.

Then there's those ideas where I can imagine both third and first person. My main character might have such a strong voice that it just makes sense to attempt first person; at the same time, my strength comes with third person. Going back and forth like that, I will honestly start pulling my hair out, and I know of a few friends who occasionally have the same problem.

The question: Which POV should you write your idea in?

The solution: Write them all.

Take a scene from your idea, and write it in every POV you can think of, or every option you're playing with, at least. Then read them all and figure out which one suits it.

The thing is, there is no right way to write your book. There's no POV that's going to be a sure-shot to sell your book. The popular POV is that of first person, but there are many books that're told from third person that are (in my opinion) absolutely fantastic (check out Not a Drop to Drink, by Mindy McGinnis, and Cinder, by Marissa Meyer).

Figure out which POV is the most natural, and run with it. Heck, play with it all you want. The most important job is to figure out the best way to tell your story, and if that means writing five different versions of the same scene, then so be it. Ask yourself whose perspective the story is being told from, then figure out if the reader needs to be directly in their head or if there should be a little bit of distance.

Another great way to study these POVs: read. I already pointed out two good YA books told in third person, and there's a whole slew of books told in first. Pick up one or two or each, read them, and pay special attention to the things the authors can and can't do with each type.

The best you can do is follow your gut. Once you figure out which POV is the right one for your book, it tends to stick with you. Find it, write it. Go forth and create a novel.

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