Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Flash Burnout

[Back to regularly-scheduled program, and regularly-sized font.]

I didn't read Flash Burnout for all the wrong reasons.

For a while there, It seemed to be everywhere on blogosphere. My inner rebellious teen decided that something that popular didn't need me. When I eventually picked it up, I found the style of the flap-jacket difficult to read: too choppy. A few months later, I picked it up again and read a few pages. I liked the writing a lot but got an (incomplete) impression of the protagonist's girlfriend, and it made me hesitant to spend time in the head of a guy who would be in love with someone like that. I think I was tired of manipulative and self-absorbed girls portrayed as attractive and desirable.

Yeah. Not good reasons.

I finally read it. It is an excellent book.

Motivation and relationships: there are elements that draw me in the most. In this book, the characters possess distinctive and recognizable traits who don't fall easily within the black/white good guy/bad guy spectrum. They do things out of a variety of considerations, not always carefully thought out. The relationships are multi-faceted and -layered.

The premise, at its simplest version, is a boy whose loyalties and affections are torn between a girl-friend and a friend who is a girl. (And that was another reason I didn't read it for a while: the premise sounded cliched.) But the book is no cliche. Far from it. The author explored dilemmas, some of the everyday-variety, and some of the much larger ones, with honesty. At no point did I get a sense that she had it all figure out on how the characters would deal with their situations, and by hook or by crook, she was going to steer the plot that way.

This is not to say that I think having a goal and knowing where a story ends is necessarily a bad thing. What I am saying is that she didn't force characters into certain traits or actions for the sake of a neat ending. These characters struggle with problems and deal with situations in ways that are sometimes messy and unfinished. And we, as readers, get drawn into these struggles and decision-making processes.

Some readers find the ending unfinished. I, on the other had, thought it was perfect. It is not a standard they-go-back-together/they-were-never-meant-to-be-together or he-saw-the-error-of-his-ways-and-changed-his-life-around type ending. If it were, in my opinion, it would have been a letdown, after how the book has done such a great job of constantly engaging the reader into an authentic exploration of why people do things, how they deal with what life gives them.

I am sure you have heard that the author, L. K. Madigan, has passed away. I didn't know her personally, but like many others, I have felt a connection through her books. If you would like to find out how to help out her family, you may start here at her agent's blogpost.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New blogs and contests

So I've been back on kidlitosphere, poking around, and found a couple of interesting blogs that are new to me. (Thanks, Laurel!) Vicki Rocho at
Rambles and Randomness and Janet Sumner Johnson have partnered to bring a Brawl and Haul Contest, with a grand prize of either a 10-page critique by Sarah LaPolla at Curtis Brown or a basket of writing-related loot. Here are the details. Have fun visiting them!

My time-regulator machine malfunctioned

The sky outside looks exactly the same but apparently three weeks have gone by since I wrote the post. I am positive it has only been a day. Darn that time-regulator machine. It hasn't been working right since the new year. First, I found out that it had made January and February move much too slowly, and when it came to March, it suddenly zoomed forward. And of course, it's no longer under warranty.

I'll have to get myself a new one. These refurbished machines are useless.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Take That, Gloomy Monday!

It's Monday. I can't get warm despite layers of fleece and wool. The sun is hidden from my beloved Colorado sky. My inner thermostat is approaching Grumpy.

But I shall not give in. I shall make this a productive day. I will finish up critiques! I will vacuum! I will do taxes! I will dig wells and harvest rice and build barns!

So There.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why oh why oh why or Domey Malasarn is turning blue

Call it coincidence if you will, but on the same day I posted my post But Why (incidentally, I wrote it a few months ago and only decided to post it the night before), Jules Watson's post at Writer Unboxed, titled Why, oh Why?, was also on the topic of character motivation.

But wait, there is more.

Yesterday, my friend (hello, fellow Dreamer of 13A!) Cheryl Reifsnyder told me that she read my post and then one by Jane Friedman at There Are No Rules, 6 Common Plot Fixes, and there at No. 5 was, you guessed it, Beware of Unmotivated Actions.

Okay, maybe these coincidences aren't remarkable, but the posts are worth a read.

In other news, fearing strange ideas that float in the air that writers breathe, Domey Malasarn has decided to hold his breath. Domey, are you blue yet?

Happy weekend, everyone

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New and Unique

A new anthology is released today, Note From Underground. And I dare say there is nothing else like it.

I like hanging out at The Literary Lab, where the three fabulous bloggers have gathered a great group of people around their posts and discussions. Well, these three fabulous people didn't think that was awesome enough and decided to publish anthologies and donate the proceeds to a charity chosen by their readers.

Three fabulous people with generous hearts.

Last year, it was Genre Wars. This year, they have come up with an even more fantastic, and totally unique, way of finding authors.

They put out a call for submissions and those whose work is selected is invited to submit anything, yes anything they want, to be included in the anthology.

Three fabulous people with generous hearts and trusting souls.

The result? New From Underground. Available today. Get it.