Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Book Thief, a review

A book tricked me into reading it.

If I had known it was about war and Nazi Germany, I never would have.

Somehow, probably the same way I thought The Hunger Games was about more vampires (and avoided it for years),  I got the idea that The Book Thief was a middle grade fantasy (and checked it out from the online library). By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late.

I was hooked. And I'm glad.

Normally, I shy away from sad books and movies. I prefer to be happy. Ironic, considering that the title of my own WIP is Second Death, and it's pretty dark. Sometimes I ask myself what I'm doing, writing something like that, even after I worked through to the answer: I'm channeling my inner Poe and writing the book that wants to be written. But there's a difference between dark and creepy and downright sad and depressing.

And yet, The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak manages to bring happiness into the sadness, kind of like life. Even a very hard life. The hardest kind of life.

I love the imagery. Papa's eyes were "like soft silver, melting." Wow.

I love the themes, especially the one of books and writing. Once we let them go out into the world, there's no telling where our words will land.

The narrator is perfect. Zusak paints a warm and resonant portrayal of Death.

Everything about this book is amazing, poignant, inspiring, touching, painful, exquisite, and beautiful...heart-wrenching and heartwarming all at once. In short, this is masterful storytelling and wordsmithing at its very best.

You should read it. You'll be glad you did, too.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ally Condie Is Awesome!

I found the following posts on Ally Condie's blog, in which she answered questions about her writing process. My favorite tidbit is that she writes "several hours a day during the week and a full day on Saturdays" ...and she has stuck to that routine for years. Isn't she awesome? Yep, she is.

Not to mention that she said, "The other advice I give is that, if this is truly important to you, DO NOT GIVE UP." And she put it in all caps. That's my motto, never give up. I have to repeat it to myself a lot, and reinforcement is good.

Oh, and in another post Ally mentioned getting inspiration from Michael Phelps. I've been thinking lately how inspiring all the Olympians are (I love Gabby)...and if we want to succeed as writers, we have to be willing to train and work as hard as they do.

So here are Ally's posts:

http://allycondie.com/writing-your-questions-part-1#.UC1_XKMeHHo

http://allycondie.com/writing-your-questions-part-2#.UC2AmqMeHHo 

And in case you're wondering, I'm very close to completing that rough draft for my critique group's Tuesday deadline. Yay! Rough, yes. But also complete. And that is so exciting.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Writing to a Deadline

Our critique group agreed to set a deadline for finishing (and handing over to one another) our rough drafts. That has been the single best motivator! —thanks, Erin, for suggesting it. Left to my own devices, I kept making excuses and procrastinating. I believed whatever I told myself.

Me: "I'll do it tomorrow."
Me: "Okay."

With a deadline in place, things started looking up in a big way. First, I finally finished my outline. Then, I started writing again. Writing, as in brand new material, not revising Ch. 1 for the gazillionth time. It's been kind of scary, but exciting, too. I'm learning how I work best. I'm figuring out my own individual process. If I start to stall, I think of Emalee and Erin with stern expressions, telling me that I must turn in the manuscript no matter what on August 21. I can't disappoint them.

So far, I'm about halfway done and it's halfway decent, but the clock is rapidly ticking down. That means I'm going to have to crank out some pretty drecky stuff in the last two weeks. My internal, compulsive editor will have to be bound and gagged on Monday...with the promise of being turned loose on August 22.

Wish me luck....