Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Candy Bar Scenes and Writing on Trains

Is it sad that I'm looking forward to the time off I have between Christmas and New Year's even more than I'm looking forward to Christmas? :P

My husband has to work, I have no family nearby and all my friends will be spending the holiday with their families. So that leaves me with no excuses:

I WILL finish my revisions of The Lost Days of Evangeline Cowen (the novel formerly known as Evangeline)

I WILL add at least another 10K words to my WIP.

I'm even making plans to utilize my time better, like spending my weekdays drafting, and then revising during the weekends.

But a part of me knows that the lure of books and television and internet will also be strong when I'm home by myself. So I'm swearing to keep the TV and WIFI off, and will likely have to make my husband hide my nook. ;)

I really want to achieve my goals, but after spending so long on these projects, the motivation's just not there. I'm going to have to ratchet up the incentive.

One way to do this is by plotting out some "candy bar" scenes for my WIP. Scenes I've plotted in my head, but haven't quite reached yet in the draft. Usually this works to push me forward, to keep writing.

Then there are candy bars of a more literal type. :) Chocolaty goodness (mmm... special dark...) works okay to bribe me into finishing a scene, but an hour break at the nearby sushi bar for lunch works even better. Though I prefer to do my typing in isolation, an hour with my notebook in a busier atmosphere sometimes helps me plot better.

With so much writing to do and sushi to eat, there won't be much time for blogging, I'm afraid, so this will be my last post of 2011. :(

But I'll be back refreshed and ready to go in 2012, with my revisions finished and my WIP that much closer to a complete first draft. Until then, here's a question I'd like to leave you with:

If you had the time and money for a writing retreat, what would it be like?

For me, I'd like to board a train and travel out west, to Utah, maybe where my WIP is set, and spend most of the trip writing. Trains are important to my novel, so it would be a research trip, as well. I could think of worse ways to spend the holidays, actually.

How 'bout you?

And Happy Holidays, y'all!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Five Pentacle Review: Kimberly Derting's The Pledge

I love to be able to give a book five stars. It means that the writing, the world and the characters completely captivated me. The latest YA novel that's completely won me over—I literally have nothing bad to say about this book, and a whole lotta good—is Kimberly Derting's The Pledge.

Though I enjoyed her debut novel The Body Finder, it wasn't until I read The Pledge that I became a squeeing Derting fangirl. It's dystopian with hints of an epic fantasy world-view, and just enough magic to make Tere a very happy girl. Here's the blurb on Goodreads, where you can find more reviews:

In the violent country of Ludania, the classes are strictly divided by the language they speak. The smallest transgression, like looking a member of a higher class in the eye while they are speaking their native tongue, results in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina has always been able to understand the languages of all classes, and she's spent her life trying to hide her secret. The only place she can really be free is the drug-fueled underground clubs where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. It's there that she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy named Max who speaks a language she's never heard before . . . and her secret is almost exposed.

Charlie is intensely attracted to Max, even though she can't be sure where his real loyalties lie. As the emergency drills give way to real crisis and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that Charlie is the key to something much bigger: her country's only chance for freedom from the terrible power of a deadly regime.

Doesn't that sound amazing?!

I adored Charlie as a heroine. She is real, and flawed, and vulnerable. But she learns to do what she has to in order to protect her sister, and keep herself safe. She's a survivor, and I love that about her.

Like The Body Finder, The Pledge is told from multiple points of view, with Charlie telling her tale in first person, with the other povs (including that Max, and of the evil, ancient, power-mad queen) in third person. Max's pov passages give an insight into a fairly complex and complicated young man. The more you learn about his family, the more interesting his character becomes. 

I think that the format works even better here than in TBF. Gives it that epic fantasy vibe, while still maintaining an intimate relationship with Charlie and her secrets. Without spoiling the story, she and her family have quite a few of them, many unbeknownst to her and her adorable little sister.

But that epic fantasy feel is countered by scenes of modernity, like when Charlaina and her friend go out to a sort of "pop-up" nightclub/rave. The clandestine and fugitive nature of these clubs fuels the dystopian vibe, and makes the perfect setting for the intrigue that follows. And by the time all hell breaks loose, your concern for Charlie and her family will have you reading at breakneck pace to race to the end.

While the turnout of the final conflict might have been the tiniest bit predictable, in my opinion it was the only way to end. But there was some lingering creepiness that made for some extremely satisfying final pages. So to say I enjoyed this read would be an understatement. After The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and Goliath, this was one of the most satisfying YA reads for me this year.

I hope you'll check out the other reviews on Goodreads and not just mine, but if you like a fast-paced dystopian with a hint of magic, this one's for you. If you liked The Body Finder, you'll most likely love The Pledge.

Read it yet? Let me know what y'all thought!