Thursday, July 28, 2011

This Message is Brought to You By Brooke's Inability to Write Book Reviews

4 days until Camp NaNoWriMo

I have come to the conclusion that I don't really like writing book reviews. I either feel like I'm rambling on too much about the plot and not saying what I think of the book or I'm pointing out every little thing that irked me. Neither of which  is very helpful to anyone.

So I will not be writing them anymore. I may mention a book I'm reading or talk about one I want to read. I may even write a few sentences about a book on Goodreads, but you will not see a review on this blog.

Of course, there is the fact that I'm in the middle of a Wonderful Week right now. I will continue to read the series and maybe post a quote or two, but I'm not going to review each book.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Prompt #29

[I never invited you in
But you are not a vampire]

            She stood at her window, gazing down upon the crowd of costumed partiers. She herself was dressed as a swan, her white dress flowing to the floor.
            “I don’t recall inviting you into my quarters,” she spoke evenly, without moving.
            He stopped at her shoulder, close enough for his breath to ruffle her hair. “You didn’t have to. Someone else did.”
            She watched a fairy and a werewolf slip into the bushes.
            “You do not seem surprised.”
            “Should I be?”
            “I suppose not.”  He brushed a loose hair off her neck.
            Her breath hitched, making her breasts rise higher. A smile splashed across his face.
            “Perhaps you are not as prepared as you think.”
            “And perhaps you are not as desirable as you think.” She turned, stepping around him.
            He grabbed for her waist, his fingers clenching cloth. She wrenched away and winced at the sound of tearing fabric. They stood a foot apart, staring at one another. Then they were moving again, her for the night table and him for her.
            She frantically tore open the top drawer and reached inside just as he grabbed her and spun her to face him. Her arm wrapped around his neck, the knife edge digging into his skin.
            He froze, a smirk playing across his lips. “Perhaps you are as prepared as you think.”
            “You do not seem surprised.”
            “Should I be?”
            “I suppose not.” His grin grew wider.
            She forced his head closer, her breath merging with his. “Did they really choose me?”
            “I couldn’t say. I left before they announced it.”
            And then she smiled and pressed her lips to his.
            He drew back, his lips smeared with black lipstick. “This would be far more comfortable if a knife wasn’t being held to my neck.”
            She batted her lashes. “Of course, Your Majesty.”
            Her hand flicked, throwing the knife. It stuck in the far wall. A lock of his hair drifted to the floor. “Where were we?”
            He tightened his grip around her waist.
            She sighed. “Now I remember.”
            He swung her into the air and set her on the bed. She rolled away, making him chase her. He crawled across the mattress, pinning her shoulders.
            She knocked against his chest plate. “Who are you dressed as?”
            His eyes sparkled. “Zeus.”
            He kissed her neck, feeling the vibrations of her laughter.

            In the dark, she propped herself up on her elbow and leaned over to whisper in his ear. “Perhaps you are as desirable as you think.”

For those of you who didn't get the joke. Because I know I wouldn't have.

Monday, July 25, 2011

NaNo In, NaNo In, Nano In August

7 days until Camp NaNoWriMo

As I have mentioned before, my rewrite of THE LULLABY is taking longer than expected. A whole year longer. I'm making progress, but it's going very slowly. I'm at 22,210 words and I'm aiming for around 70k. Which, if you do the math, means I need about 50,000 more words. Camp NaNoWriMo is the perfect solution.

Instead of being in November, Camp NaNoWriMo is held in July and August. You still have to write a 50k novel in a month, you just get to pick which month. I'm cheating by working on an already existing project, but it has to be done.

National Novel Writing Month has always driven me to write. It played a large part in the writing of both my WIPs. I've tried similar challenges, but they don't give me the same push. I'm hoping Camp NaNo will give me the determination to push through since it's an official offshoot of NaNo. (Funny how our minds work.)

You can find me on the Camp NaNoWriMo site here and feel free to be my writing buddy on the official NaNoWriMo site. My username is brooke_the_writer.

What drives you to write?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Prompt #28: I hope you brought your hang glider. We're going to need a quick escape.

            “You’re going under cover, Gideon.”
            “You’re going to befriend a serial killer. More specifically, you’re going to engage in an intimate relationship with a serial killer.”
            “I fit the profile, do I?”
            “He’s killed six women and the only common factor appears to be his involvement with them. Any woman could fit the profile.”
            “Then why choose me?”
            “You’re a rather good actress. And I doubt you’ll grow attached.”
            “You’re resorting to flattery. No one else want the job?”
            “I’ll take it.”
            “You had no other options. You start tomorrow when you will make contact. Do not come in to work. We’ll come to you. Wear something pretty.”
            “Any tips for the long haul?”
            “Avoid rock climbing like your life depends on it.”

            “Now will you tell me why we dragged all this up here?” Nina asked, letting her backpack fall to the ground.
            Jerrod watched as she stretched, her back arching. “You haven’t guessed yet?”
            “Should I have?” She slid her hand into his.
            He shrugged. “We’re going to rock climb.”
            She froze, her lips closer to his than necessary. “Down this cliff? The one we’re standing on right now?”
            He nodded. “It’ll be fun.”
            “If you consider falling to your death fun,” her voice rose in pitch.
            “Do you think I lugged all this heavy shit up here for nothing? Harnesses weren’t built for looks you know. It’s safe.  Promise,” he rubbed his thumb across the back of her hand.
            Nina pulled her hand away, crossing her arms. “Why?”
            Jerrod crouched, unzipping his backpack. “Why what?”
            “Why did you suddenly decide to go rock climbing?”
            “Why not?” He straightened, rope in hand. “Look, if you’re scared, I’ll go first.”
            “I’m not scared. I just don’t see how this is going to be fun,” her eyes followed him as he approached a tree.
            He wrapped a runner around it and pulled, testing it. “That’s why I’m going to show you.”
            Nina pressed her lips tight and a line appeared across her brow. Jerrod threaded his body through a harness’s straps and looked up.
            “Hey,” he ran his fingers over her forehead. “You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. And if I do fall to my death, you have my permission to say ‘I told you so’.”
            Jerrod smiled and touched his lips to hers. Then he turned back to the ledge.
            “Now, when you’re watching me, don’t get too close to the edge,” he lowered his legs.
            “Trust me, I won’t.”
            He shot her a thumbs up and descended.
            Nina shuffled closer, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of Jerrod. The rope swayed as he became smaller. The wind whistled in her ear.
            She pulled out her cell phone and hit redial. “He’s in the open.”
            “Roger.” The call ended.
            She peeked back down at Jerrod. He clung to the rock, resting.
            A quick scan of the sky revealed the oncoming helicopter, a black dot between the clouds. The whirring of its blades soon reached her ears.
            The phone vibrated in her hand and a message popped up on the screen. Earplugs in.
            She extracted the earplugs from her pocket and stuffed them into her ears.
            Another vibration went up her arm. I would back up if I were you.
            She took the advice.
            The helicopter opened fire.
            The noise was muffled, but the bullets and exploding chunks of rock sprayed through the air like fireworks. Nina hit the ground, her hands covering her head. A clump of dirt stung her back.
            The air grew still. The phone signaled a text message. She squinted at the screen. It’s over.
            She crawled to the edge, peering down at the ground below. Jerrod Flores, serial killer, lay splayed on the ground, far below.
            “I told you so.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Take One Down, Pass It Around, 155 Unread Books on the Shelf

I have recently returned from a month-long visit to my grandparents' house. While there, I accumulated nineteen books for my collection. (I know there are twenty books in the picture. I won Possession by Elana Johnson while I was away.) I've only read one of them.

You may remember my summer goals post. One of them pertained to my reading. And I quote:
All unread books will have their status reversed. I have over one hundred books that I have yet to read. Good thing I'm a fast reader.

At that time, I knew I had a lot of books to read, but not exactly how many. After receiving all these new books, I finally sat down to figure it out. Are you ready? Drum roll please.

I have 155 unread books.

Summer ends September 22. That gives me just a little over two months. Am I the only one freaking out right about now?

There is a bright side. Twenty-nine of those 155 are books that, on Goodreads, I file under my 'behind-the series' shelf. This means I own the book, but I have yet to read up to it in the series. I'm exempting them.

That leaves me with 126 books and 63 days to read them. Which means I'm going to have to read at least two books a day. I can do that. Right?

Follow my progress more closely on Goodreads and feel free to friend me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Seriously? Seriously.

The seriously generous Michael Offutt gave me a puppy! Isn't he cute? I've named him Piers.

Now, Piers isn't just an ordinary dog. Quite the contrary. He's a genius. And genii require things that will stimulate their brains. So, pertaining to Piers' needs, I've composed a small list of books, films, and television shows.

Treat #1: Fallout by Ellen Hopkins. I love her novels. She's a very creative poet and she's not afraid to approach hard topics. I can't wait until her next novel, Perfect, comes out in September.

Treat #2: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. To see how all the tapes came together excited me as a writer. To see the emotional responses of the main character moved me as a reader.

Treat #3: The Nanny. My guilty pleasure. It may not be exactly 'stimulating', but every genius could use a laugh now and then.

Treat #4: The Voice. It's an interesting concept. They choose their contestants by their voice without ever looking at them. They judge by talent not appearance.

Treat #5: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2. They put more detail into these last two movies since they were trying to stretch them out. Personally, I wished they would have done the same with the earlier movies.

The rest of Piers' litter mates could also use homes and I know a few people who might like a [genius] puppy.
  1. Madeline Bartos
  2. Teralyn Rose Pilgrim
  3. Bess Weatherby
  4. Charity Bradford
  5. Trisha

Monday, July 18, 2011

Left Behind

 Note that this review may contain spoilers.

In one cataclysmic moment, millions across the globe disappear.

Vehicles, suddenly unmanned, careen out of control. People are terror stricken as loved ones vanish before their eyes.

In the midst of global chaos, airline captain Rayford Steele must search for his family, for answers, for truth. As devastating as the disappearances have been, the darkest days may lie ahead.

My biggest buff with this book is that the characters have everything easy. Loved ones have disappeared and being left behind while they go on to heaven is no picnic, I'm sure, but there are no obstacles. Disappearances? The Rapture (they figured this in the first half of the book). Antichrist? Nicolae Carpathia (so saw that coming).

The closest things to obstacles were Chloe's reluctance to accept Christ and the attempt on Buck's life. Both disappeared pretty quickly when Chloe accepted Christ, which I thought might have been more critical if she'd been hit by a car or something and it was possible she might die without him, and Buck made it back to the states, without one close encounter that he didn't have a plan on how to get around, and Carpathia made the whole thing 'go away'.

The writing in this book is simple, making it easy to read, and it's not a bad story. At some points, I rushed to read on. The scene where Carpathia shoots those two men at the pre-press conference was the best, or at least the scene that best stuck in my memory. At other points, the reading was slow, essentially when the characters were talking about God and Christ. Some of it was interesting, but the rest I've heard at church a million times.

I gave this book three stars on Goodreads.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prompt #27: When the smell of gasoline hit my nostrils, I knew.

            A hum vibrated in my throat as I wandered up the walk, smiling at the moon. I glanced behind my shoulder, waving as my date pulled away from the curb. At the door, I rifled through my purse, squinting for keys. The night breeze played with my hair, cool against my neck. The key ring emerged from my purse with a merry jingle.
            A loud click as the door unlocked was followed by the slight creak of the hinges as I pushed it open. The smoke that drifted out and the smell of burning hair melted the happy expression from my face.

            “Would you mind if I used your restroom, love?” Loretta stood, her left fat roll coming dangerously close to being exposed.
            Jane threw back another shot and slammed her glass on the table, “Down the hallway. Last door.”
            “Thanks, sweet pea,” and she waddled down the carpeted corridor, her butt wagging from side to side.
            Loretta emerged from the bathroom five minutes later, struggling to button her pants. Pausing just outside the kitchen, she sucked in her gut, held her breath, and let it go with a sigh of relief as the fastener snapped. She took a step to return to the kitchen and her gossip session.
            A knock came from the door to her left.
            She froze, then turned to face what she had always assumed was the entrance to the garage.
            Another knock, this one on the wall.
            Her hand stretched out, pudgy fingers wrapping around the brass doorknob. It resisted her attempt to turn it. She wiggled it, trying to make it give.
            “What do you think you’re doing?”
            Loretta jumped, her dyed curls bouncing along with her body.
            “Get away from there,” Jane’s alcohol-flavored breath washed over her face, making her snatch her hand back.
            The smaller woman checked the door, making sure it remained locked. Her eyes turned sour as she stared at Loretta, “I think it’s time you left now. Madison will be here soon.”
            “Of, of course,” Loretta drew up to her full height and allowed Jane to escort her to the front door.
            The hall light reflected off the metal nail file jostled from Loretta Evan’s back pocket. From under the garage door, fingers stretched, struggling to reach it.

            The kitchen light was on. I left the front door swinging behind me and strode farther into the living room, avoiding furniture. My eyes swept back and forth, watching for movement.
            “Jane?” A raspy whisper. I coughed, trying to breath. “Jane, where are you?”
            I covered my nose against the stench of burnt meat and gas, stumbling against the couch. Using one hand to catch myself, I continued into the kitchen, my heels clank-clanking against the tile.
            A leg protruded from behind the table.
            “Jane,” I said her name again, walking around the table.
            And then I was looking at her face. I emptied my stomach before I started screaming.

            She pressed her finger down on the tip of the nail file. “How lucky she is. She is favored.”
            She set the file back in its place, and picked up the lighter. She pressed her thumb down, igniting the flame. Running her index finger through the fire, she smiled. “They will be punished. She will punish them.”
            She replaced the lighter, sticking her finger in her mouth. She looked over the three objects in front of her once more, giving the gas can a friendly pat. Then she picked up the file once more, scooted closer to the door, and, after brushing a piece of hair out of her face, preceded to go to work.

            My legs gave out and I fell to my knees.
            Bits of Jane’s flesh dripped to the floor like candle wax. Her clothes had fused to her body. The tip of her left boot was the only thing not completely blackened.
            Something cold splashed against my legs as I shifted to grab Jane’s shoulder. Her skin crunched beneath my fingers.
            “Jane, can you hear me? Please hear me. Jane? Jane!” I shook her shoulder, desperate. “Should I call an ambulance? Jane. Jane.”
            A click came from behind me.
            I turned slowly, just in time to watch my sister bend down and light the gasoline that pooled beneath me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

For A Dollar

If you're a paper-pencil writer (and aren't too picky about what you write in) this is something you need to hear. Go to Wal-Mart and stock up on notebooks now. Or sometime before September.

"Notebook Rainbow"
Before school shopping session is a wonderland of low-priced notebooks (even more so on no-tax weekend). Depending on your region, regular one-subject notebooks are priced from $0.20 to $0.50. Certain composition notebooks run for just a few cents more. If you buy notebooks often, you know that that is ridiculous.

Decorated notebooks are also cheaper than usual, but let's put it this way. I bought five plain notebooks for a dollar. My sister bought one decorated notebook for $1.97.

What writing related deals have you stumbled upon lately?

Monday, July 04, 2011

Prompt #26: You know, the sequels are never as good as the originals.

He sat at the piano, playing quietly and avoiding the black keys. A spotlight caused sweat to build up along his neck and drip into the back of his suit. His lips stretched into a smile, secret and serene.

Another tune fluttered into the air, just as quiet. The second pianist appeared out of the dark, on a ledge above. Her soft yellow dress stuck out in the montage of whites, blacks, reddish browns, and brownish reds that filled the auditorium.

His eyes closed and he tilted his head back, listening to the separate notes. They met gracefully, again and again, becoming louder as fingers applied more pressure. At the volume’s peak, the notes bounced off each other, filling the room’s every crack with sound.

The music became hushed once more and he allowed it to drift into silence, his hands falling into his lap. He waited for the applause.

Another song met his ears, young and high-spirited. His eyebrows came together and he twisted to look at the other pianist. She sat back, lips upturned, as her fingers danced across the keys.

His muscles stiffened as, over the pulse in his ears, he tried to recognize a measure, a note, something. The piano continued to spew out an indistinguishable melody.

Her eyes reached down and touched his.

Soft laughter clogged his ears and the wooden bench turned to leather. Flowery perfume tickled his nose and he found that he was laughing, too.

The eyes across from him were the same. They closed as she laid her head back against the window, laughing with her whole chest.

And then the seat belt was digging into his chest as he hung suspended, staring down at her, eyes frozen and mouth still open in a scream.

She turned back to her piano after flashing the audience a smile. Her face morphed to one of deep concentration and her fingers flew as the song became more complicated.

He wrenched himself away, letting his eyes fall on the faces below. Bright lights obscured their features, but every head craned back, enchanted. Except one.

The man shuffled down the aisle, pulling his jacket closer. He stared at the floor, stopping next to a row of seats close to the stage. He turned and looked over his shoulder, his eyes unwavering as they took in his expression.

“I just can’t believe it,” He stood with his hands light on his hips, gazing at her through the glass. “I’m looking at her and I can’t believe it.”

“It’s what you paid me for,” the scientist’s voice was dry as he leaned over, inserting a code, and another, to unlock the storage pod.

The taller man shook his head, but he glowed as steam from the pod rolled over him, dissipating in seconds.

She lay frozen as the wires were extracted from her body, the doctor giving him instructions, “Don’t expect her to be exactly the same. Experiences, not DNA, make up a big part of character. She won’t have the same memories as before. She’s like a clean slate.”

His precautionary words became white noise. The clone’s eyes were opening.

The researcher pulled his jacket close, shrugged, and scooted down to his seat. The pianist stared at him, but he stubbornly avoided his eyes.

Ringing silence pressed in, packed with the sound of breathing. The clapping started as a straight roar, chairs squeaking as people rose.

Horror sprawled across his face as he glanced up and saw her rising from her seat. Her bow was smooth and refined and solitary.

The crowd ran over the sound of his scream.

The Wonderful Week of: Left Behind

Religious books aren't really my thing. I've read a few, but the use of God as a major turning point for the character always makes me feel uncomfortable. It's hard for me to believe that such a thing is possible.

Sometimes I wish my brain wasn't so logical.

Occasionally, a strange thing will happen in my mind. I'll be looking at something, discussing something, something as simple as fingerprints or plants, and suddenly, I'll think, What a unique, interesting idea. How did someone think of that? I get the same thoughts with books, as if the thing isn't real, just something that someone amazingly thought up.

It's a scary thing. Almost as scary as imagining yourself dead and there being no afterlife.

Religion is not something that would suit me, but religion and God are not the same. I have some faith that God is far more loving and forgiving than some would lead you to believe and that good people will not burn in Hell no matter their beliefs, but it is thin, like mist. I want something rock-solid, or, at the very least, to make peace that whatever happens with death, will happen if God is involved or not.

And that is why I chose this series for the first Wonderful Week of the summer. Here's to hoping it'll give me just the right insight.

Have you read these books?

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Midway Point

Half of the year 2011 is over as of today. Being such a special occassion, I decided it would be a good day to update you on my New Year's resolutions.You may recognize this format.
  1. I will write everyday. Does every week count? -sigh- Not only does that sound pathetic, these are the best writing habits I've ever had (at least I've made improvement). At least in the month of April, I did write every single day. B+
  2. I will write a blog post or in my journal every day. I've been slacking off on blog posts lately but, again, in April I blogged every day (sometimes twice). However, I haven't written in my journal since January. I'll think of things to write and then I just won't. Sometimes I feel like anything I write in that notebook just comes out clique or like something you would read in a book. I don't want my thoughts to be like that so I don't write them down. C-
  3. I will learn to vlog. Currently, there are two videos on my YouTube channel, one of which is an actual vlog. I also have a video (not sure if I'm going to make it a vlog) planned for when I reach 500 books (which may happen once I get home and update my book list). B
  4. I will become more organized with when and what I write (or edit). -crickets chirping- I haven't worked really hard toward this one. I did set some goals for the summer, but setting goals is the hardest I've worked toward this goal. C
  5. I will become better at critiquing others work. I've recently joined a blog called Unicorn Bell. It's like a critique group. I've participated in a few activites, posting pieces as well as critquing others, but I have yet to pair up with anyone. Of course, Madeline and I still help each other (anyone hear about her recent success?). B-
  6. I will not give in to peer pressure or do anything that I don't want to do (excusing homework assignments). N/A
Tell me how you're doing with your resolutions.

Friday, July 01, 2011

The Downside to Reading

The more I read, the more books become predictable. I recognize subtle foreshadowing easily because I know what to look for, because I've seen it so many times. To look for these clues has become embedded in my brain, a program that automatically kicks on at the sight of fiction.

I find I am best at predicting things about characters.

For example, in Across the Universe by Beth Revis [spoiler alert] I knew within the first few pages that the other Elder was going to be the one who was trying to kill the frozens. How? They said he was dead. Who better to commit the crime then a person they will most definitely not suspect. Shortly after, I figured out that Orion was the other Elder. Again, how? My first clue was the spider-web scar they kept mentioning on his neck (rule #1: good books don't draw attention to anything without a reason). The second was the scene with Elder and the doctor  at night. The doctor acted rather strange when he saw Orion on the Recorder Hall steps (rule #1).

I saw all that without even trying. Other people... didn't.

Perhaps their reading experience was better because of it. I spent most of my time reading the book wondering when the characters were going to figure it out already. During the climax (when I figured out the ending, surprise, surprise), my main thought was Finally! Other readers got to experience each plot twist with the characters and later got to go back, smiling, over all the things they missed.

Question: Do you prefer to see things in books ahead of time, or piece all the little tidbits of information together after the fact?