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Chasing a Good Read – Under the Never Sky May 29, 2012

 

 

It’s hard to pick up a YA fantasy book these days without it either being a HUNGER GAMES or DIVERGENT knock-off. So with trepidation I picked up Veronica Rossi’s UNDER THE NEVER SKY, worried it sounded a lot like every other dystopian novel on the shelves. I was so wrong.

 

This book, while having a slow start, and reminding me of Julianna Baggott‘s PURE with the whole purified “Dome” aspect, veers off in a completely new and unexpected direction after the first chapter. The contrast of  Aria’s futuristic world, with Peregrine’s savage landscape, is stunningly presented as Rossi’s adept prose intertwines the two worlds beautifully.

 

The main characters‘ POV is told in alternating chapters, and Rossi throws plenty of stones at both Aria and Perry which keeps the story filled with tension. I was also refreshingly surprised at how Rossi took her time to build the relationship between Perry and Aria.  Too many YA books today have the protagonists meeting one moment and then deeply in love the next.  Instead, Rossi allows the reader to understand each character’s true motivation before allowing them to realize their feelings for one another.

 

If you are looking for a fast YA read, with one-of-a-kind characters and a unique setting, I suggest you pick up UNDER THE NEVER SKY. You will be intrigued by Rossi’s world-building and find yourself quickly rooting for Aria and Peregrine.

 

Have you already read UNDER THE NEVER SKY?  Do you agree with my review? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

 

Rating: Worth Chasing

 

Amy

 

The Query Quest May 26, 2012

 

When I first started writing, I learned about this little thing called a query. Having no idea what this meant, I did further research and learned this was basically a business letter you send to a literary agent, trying to hook them into asking for manuscript pages and possibly an offer of representation.

 

Of course after having written dozens of press releases in my career , I thought writing a query would be easy.  I know how to write a hook. No problem.

 

Then as I continued my research, I started to come across comments from seasoned writers like, “it took me longer to write the query than my book,” or better yet, “queries are evil and they must be destroyed.” Still, I thought I had a handle on this. I’ll finish my MS and then attempt a query – how hard could it be?

 

Well, here I am six months later – still tinkering.  Luckily, I’ve found a writing community where they take the time to really dig into your presentation and help you hone the query until it shines. It’s a very daunting task because you know once you send it out into the world, there’s no getting it back.  And once the “thank you, but no thanks yous” come in you’ve officially burnt that bridge with the agent – at least for that MS.

 

So the question is how long do you work and push your query until you just let it go? Do you wait for 100% positive feedback before you send it out  – or do you just take a chance, cross your fingers and send it?

 

If you are a fellow writer, have you struggled with your query? If so, what helped you pushed through and make it really sparkle?

 

I’d love to hear your stories.

 

Amy

 

 

 

Outside Your Comfort Zone May 22, 2012

 

 

There seems to be a continuing debate among new writers about whether you can garner any agent interest if you don’t have an MFA or writing credits.  Many people think without some kind of publication under your belt, agents are unlikely to take you on as a debut author. There are others who believe if your writing is good, and your premise unique, agents will be willing to take a chance on you.

 

I have been wavering on this point.  I question how I’m going to get noticed among the hundreds of manuscripts agents receive a day if I don’t stand out. When I write my bio at the end of my query, and dance around the fact I’ve never been published, it seems  I am truly grasping at straws.

 

With this in mind, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I enrolled in a creative writing course which pushed me outside my comfort zone. I was required to write short stories and flash fiction just for the sake of honing my craft.  It was daunting and scary, but what I found was  I liked being pushed.  I enjoyed being forced to think about something beside my MS and my endless quest to write the “perfect” query.

 

What I learned was when I pushed beyond what I thought I was capable of, my writing became better.  I’m still trying to stretch my limits, and recently asked a fellow writer if I could guest post a review on her website.  Again, I was uncomfortable taking on this new task, but enjoyed focusing on some other aspect of writing beyond my current manuscript. It taught me once more that with each new writing experience, I could perfect my craft and use the experience to influence my current manuscript. It also gave me a writing credit I did not have before.

 

Fellow writers, how do you push yourself out of your comfort zone? Do you blog? Guest post? Write short stories, poetry or flash fiction?  Do you feel like taking those risks makes you a better writer?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Amy

 

Guest post on www.undergroundbookreviews.com

 

Chasing a Good Read – City of Lost Souls May 21, 2012

Congratulations, Cassandra Clare. You have successfully lured me back 100% into The Mortal Instruments series.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was disappointed in the fourth book and was a little worried that perhaps this series should have remained a trilogy.  I have completely changed my mind now as I realize that book four was merely a bridge to THE CITY of LOST SOULS.

In this fifth entry to the series, what I loved originally about these books has returned: great pacing, hilarious dialogue and most of all further development of characters I have grown to love.

Without having to exclaim “SPOILER ALERT”, I will just say that our most beloved characters: Jace, Clary, Simon, Isabelle, Alec and Magnus are finally back to center stage.  Each of their storylines well-fleshed out and luring us into yet another heart-stopping climax. At 534 pages, this book is packed with intriguing mysteries, and while many are solved by the conclusion, Clare has done an amazing job of keeping the reader guessing as to what will happen next.  This of course, has us all waiting for book six with bated breath. It also goes to prove that when written well, any series has the potential to keep a reader hanging on, well past a trilogy, as long as the characters continue to grow and change in unexpected ways.

Have you read CITY OF LOST SOULS? Do you agree with this review? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Rating: Absolutely worth chasing!

Amy

 

Music vs Writing May 18, 2012

Among most writers there seems to be a line drawn between whether you can or cannot write with music in the background.  Some writers tell me that music is too distracting.  While others believe music is almost like their muse, helping them to envision a scene and write better.

I bring this topic up because I just learned of Disco Queen Donna Summer’s death.  For many of those who are under forty, you may not remember Donna’s influence on the music scene.  She had a soulful voice that not only spoke to the craziness of the 70’s Studio 54 scene but her upbeat tempos even had a ten-year-old like me boogeying in her room at the time.  Now, as an adult, it makes me laugh to think of my young self dancing around to songs entitled “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls” – clearly not appropriate for my age – but I didn’t know what the lyrics meant, all I knew is that the music made me feel good.

My love affair with music began then and it continues now into my writing life.  Some of my best scenes have been formulated by the use of ambient music in the background.  Classical for mourning scenes, rock for teenage dialogue, jazz for painting lyrical landscapes etc… The reason I feel music is important for writing is simple: it evokes emotion.

So fellow writers what side are you on? Can you write with music blaring in the background? Or do you prefer silence to complete your scenes?

Let me know. I’d be interested to hear your point of view on this topic.

R.I.P. Donna and thanks for all the great memories!

Amy

 

My Favorites May 15, 2012

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,Writers Resources,writing — chasingthecrazies @ 3:34 pm
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Ever looked at the favorites you have saved on your computer? I looked at mine today for the first time with a critical eye, and started to truly laugh.

Only a writer could have schools, writer blogs, literary agencies, Halloween costume, civil war surgery, wind turbine, and genetically engineered crop websites all saved as their favorites.  If a psychologist was analyzing me just via my favorites, I’m sure they would think I was either a complete nut or well, just a writer.

Research is a crazy thing and it can lead you to bookmark some pretty odd websites.

What about you? Have you looked at your favorites lately? Do they reflect who you are?

Take a look. It may just give you a good laugh!

Amy

 

Too Many To Choose From May 14, 2012

Filed under: Blog,Publishing,Writers Resources,writing,YA Book Reviews — chasingthecrazies @ 9:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

This time of year is truly fun for both a writer and a reader. Numerous new books, as well as sequels, are entering the YA marketplace, and I find myself at the cyberspace bookstore almost every day downloading some new title I am eager to read.

It makes it especially hard to write during these times when you are itching to get back to your iPad (or Kindle or good old hardback as some prefer) to read the next chapter in one of these enthralling books.

Currently I am reading three (yes, three) books at once. PURE by Julianna Baggott, UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi and CITY OF LOST SOULS by Casssandra Clare. Honestly, I couldn’t have picked three more different books if I tried.  All are completely amazing and take me to a totally different world – which I love as a reader and envy as a writer.

Some people ask how I can keep all the characters and storylines straight and I laugh.  If they only understood a writers brain they would get it. We’ve got several plots, numerous characters and different settings rolling around our brain continuously so moving from book to book is pretty easy.

So I’d be interested to hear from anyone who reads several books at once. Do you move from fiction to non-fiction? Do you stay in the same genre? And if you are a writer, do new books fire you up to get back to writing or do they pull you away so you can travel into someone else’s life for a while?

I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say.

Amy

 

 
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