31 July 2008

Proofreading is a necessity for everyone

A little life-lesson in why everyone needs a proofreader.

At Word Nerd's work, the summer interns found some old fortune cookies in a drawer and passed them out. The cookie was terrible but here's what Word Nerd's fortune said:

Your luck has been completely changes today.

Right. She feels like the future is really opening up with that one.

30 July 2008

Book Banter -- Madhouse

Title: Madhouse
Author: Rob Thurman
Length: ~370 pages
Genre: paranormal/urban fantasy
Plot Basics: Cal Leandros and his brother Niko are asked to investigate a strange disturbance in at the Met in New York City. In addition to finding one technophile mummy, they discover that the ashes of Sawney Beane, legendary cannibal, have reformed a living creature and that Beane is far from human. Beane and his army of revenants (think zombies, but worse) start racking up a body count in the city and Cal and Niko decide they must stop the bad guy, even without pay. And making matters worse, their friend and ally, Robin Goodfellow, is on the top of someone's hit list.
Banter Points: Word Nerd is getting really impressed by this series. What started as fairly well-done series in "Nightlife" has hit its "monster-ful" stride with "Madhouse." Thurman has an interesting thing going with her half-monster-shoot-first-ask-questions-later-gun-slinging-wise-cracking hero Cal. "Madhouse" forces Cal to deal with some of his emotions and more of his heritage while wrapping a tight plot around a nasty bad guy.
Bummer Points: March 2009. That's when the next one comes out. And "Madhouse," be warned, leaves off at a cliffhanger.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Fans of Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher and grown-up Harry Potter fans, check out the magic, mayhem and destruction in this series.

28 July 2008

Forced to edit

Word Nerd's new writers group met again on Saturday and it was great to really get into the critiquing. It's a neat bunch of people and Word Nerd's excited to be working with them.

And so Word Nerd said she would have pages ready to pass out at the Aug. 9 meeting. Which means that she needs to get pages ready to pass out at the Aug. 9 meeting.

For the last few weeks, Word Nerd has completely fallen off the revision bandwagon. Not that that is hard to do because Word Nerd doesn't like revisions. They are un-fun and require lots of thinking and evaluating and hard cuts to parts of the story that Word Nerd likes as a writer but that don't move the plot ahead.

But it's not getting done and Word Nerd's not going to make her goal of having it ready for an agent by early 2009 if she doesn't get a move on.

So the pages are going to the group.

That's the point.

22 July 2008

The best laid plans...

So, Word Nerd decided she wanted to re-read all the Stephenie Meyer Twilight books before "Breaking Dawn" comes out on Aug. 2. That book she already has a hold on at the library.

Great plan? She owns "Twilight" and has started re-reading it and also owns "New Moon" and she can get "Eclipse" from the library too, right?

Wrong.

There are currently 81 holds on "Eclipse" at the library. 81. She will not get a copy before she gets a copy of "Breaking Dawn." She's only 16th on the list for that one.

She could buy "Eclipse" but wait, Word Nerd is poor and it's not out in paperback yet like the first two she owns.

Can anybody help? Loan her a copy or something?

Sigh.

Book Banter -- Treason's River

Title: Treason's River (The Reluctant Adventures of Lt. Martin Jerrold, bk. 3).
Author: Edwin Thomas
Length: 354 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Plot Basics: Having upset many in the British admiralty with his last caper, Lt. Martin Jerrold is sent off on an errand to America by Mr. Nevell of the Post Office. His mission is to deliver a letter to a man in Pennsylvania, learn his plans and then stop them. Easy enough sounding, but Martin is realistic about his cowardice getting in the way of any actual heroics. The only redeeming part of the trip, Martin think, may be the company of the beautiful Miss Catherine Lyell as America itself is a hostile, uninviting place.
Banter Points: This is the best of the series, both in scope of adventure and the character of Martin Jerrold. His unwilling heroics are spot-on and funny and Thomas' look at a little-known piece of British and American history is fascinating.
Bummer Points: According to Thomas' website, this is the last of the Martin Jerrold books because the publisher pulled the plug on the series. Word Nerd's glad the series ended on a high note, but is really disappointed that there are no more.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Despite the brevity of this series, it's very much fun to read. Historical fiction/adventure story fans should be sure to pick it up.

18 July 2008

Book Banter -- Feast of Fools

Title: Feast of Fools (Morganville Vampires, book 4)
Author: Rachel Caine
Length: 242 pages
Genre: YA paranormal
Plot Basics: SPOILER ALERT




Claire Danvers is trying to get over the arrival of parents in Morganville -- her own and vampire-leader Amelie's father Bishop and his scary lackeys. Her parents want her to leave Glass House and move in with them, but Claire doesn't want to leave her friends -- no matter how much danger living with Shane, Eve and the newly-vampiric Michael is. She keeps working with mad scientist vampire Myrnin, trying to find a way to cure the disease eating away at the vamps. But Bishop has other plans for the town and makes power play at special feast... that they would be fools to attend and maybe fools to miss.



Banter Points: Word Nerd loves Rachel Caine's books and this one is no exception. Caine is a master and continually raising the plot stakes throughout a series and while Word Nerd was into this book, there might have been a few unkind words muttered about how long she will have to wait for the next one and how unfair that is. What was nice about this book was seeing the character development of Michael and the Glass House mates in reaction to him. Also, the introduction of Bishop twisted the plot in interesting ways and kept the series fresh.
Bummer Points: See above and the unkind words about having to wait for awhile for "Lord of Misrule" to be released.
Word Nerd Recommendation: If you like YA fiction, or vampire fiction or YA vampire fiction (think Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight saga here), read the Morganville books. If you liked the boy wizard, read the Morganville books. Ok... if you like good books, read the Morganville books.

17 July 2008

Book Banter -- Stealing Shadows

Title: Stealing Shadows
Author: Kay Hooper
Length: 356 pages
Genre: thriller
Plot Basics: Cassie is a psychic, with a scary gift -- being able to read the minds of killers. After a mistake when trying to help the San Francisco police catch a killer, she moves to North Carolina and the home her reclusive aunt owned. But she can't run away from her gift and when she gets a flash of a pending murder, she tries to convince the local sheriff and prosecuting attorney to take her seriously. As a string of local women are murdered, Cassie, Matt the sheriff and Ben, the attorney, have to trust her powers to stop the killings.
Banter Points: Word Nerd was pleasantly surprised by this title. It was recommended to her by a librarian at Central (THANKS!) during a discussion of good paranormal/urban fantasy/thriller type books (for the record, she didn't like Charlaine Harris either...) A psychic working with cops sounded good to Word Nerd so she picked up this first one in Hooper's Bishop series. The plot had a good pace, a good twist and was better-than-average writing for a paperback thriller. Also, while there's a love story between Cassie and Ben, it's not as over the top as the romantic suspense in Allison Brennan's book
Bummer Points: So, this is the first of Hooper's Bishop series... and Bishop himself doesn't show until halfway through the book and is not a well-rounded character at all for a series bearing his name, at this point.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Fans of Allison Brennan and the J.D. Robb 'In Death' series should check out Hooper. Word Nerd's planning on continuing reading.

11 July 2008

Book Banter -- Dead Until Dark

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Length: 292 pages
Genre: mystery/paranormal
Plot Basics: Sookie Stackhouse works as a cocktail waitress, doing her best to not let her "gift" -- the ability to read minds -- interfere with her life too much. It does make for hard times dating though, so when Bill, the very handsome vampire comes to the bar and Sookie realizes she can't hear him, she is interested. Other women in her small southern town start dying, however, and all indicators point to a vampire murderer and Sookie worries she may be next.
Banter Points: The scenes where Sookie "head-hopped" with her psychic abilities was a clever way to get into the minds of other characters.
Bummer Points: It's been a long time since Word Nerd really just didn't like a book. It was bound to happen. The plot for this seemed all over the map, Sookie was a bland character, Bill the vampire was even worse and though touted as a mystery novel, Word Nerd thinks it should have been labeled as a vampire romance with some dead people popping up inconveniently.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Word Nerd's not going to keep going with this series. Others love it, so you may just have to judge for yourself.

10 July 2008

Writers Group Launch

Saturday is it.

Word Nerd's new writers group is officially starting.

She is excited and nervous about this all at the same time.

First, it's exciting because, hey! new writing friends to bounce ideas off of.

Second, it makes her nervous because hey! new writing friends who might hate everything she puts on paper.

So far, it's a small group which is a good thing. When Word Nerd helped launch the Oshkosh Writers Club, 40-some people came to the first meeting. This group has been by application only and it looks like a neat mix of people who have applied and are coming -- some memoirists, a few fiction writers and a poet or two.

If you are in the Indy area and want to know more, drop a comment with your e-mail. There's still some room in the group.

08 July 2008

Editing

The Editing Meter over there --> shows that Word Nerd has edited half her novel-in-progress. This is deceptive.

What's been happening lately is that Word Nerd is going through all the chapters twice. While she's technically looked at and made some small fixes to Chs. 13-17, she really needs to go back and hit them harder.

Hopefully, this can start tonight, with printing out the chapters and at least getting through ch. 13 again with a much more intense level of scrutiny. The middle of the book is tough, because it needs to keep the plot moving along, build tension, but for this particular book -- be an interesting lull because the character grows complacent during this part of the story so that when she acts later, it's too late. (makes perfect sense, right?)

Anyhow, the middle of the book was also written while Word Nerd was going through a pretty big life transition of leaving her reporting job for a year in poverty 400 miles away. If the middle of the book feels like the author is keeping a big secret, it's because when she first drafted it, she was --that horrible time of knowing that she was sending out job applications and having interviews for other things that her current bosses knew nothing about. Ditto for the protagonist... only more of it for her is that she is the one being kept in the dark, that things are moving around her that she doesn't fully know about and can't stop.

This second-pass editing is where Word Nerd really rips chunks of the story out and inserts new stuff. Expect the Word Count Fluctuator to start jumping around soon.

This is such hard work. Word Nerd's new writing group starts Saturday and she's really looking forward to more community. More on that later...

03 July 2008

Book Banter -- Windy City

Title: Windy City
Author: Scott Simon
Length: 420 pages
Genre: literary/political fiction
Plot Basics: The mayor of Chicago is found dead, late one night, face down in the last of his pizza. Sunny Roopini, alderman of the 48th district, is the vice-mayor, and so is sworn in to be interim mayor until the council can elect a new mayor to fill out the rest of the dead mayor's term. Sunny, who has been thinking about getting out of politics, must try to keep order in the council and dodge the questions of a probing U.S. Attorney and make sure Chicago is left is competent hands after the vote.
Banter Points: Word Nerd loves Scott Simon during Weekend Edition Saturday. He's the voice of Saturday morning. He is also a darn good novelist and Word Nerd's sure this book will make her top 10 reads in 2008 list. SPOILER ALERT for what's next!



What amazed Word Nerd about this book was its subtlety. A reader can certainly look at how Sunny was elected mayor at the end because of his humility and humanity OR one can see how it was calculated and planned through the whole book.



Bummer Points: Word Nerd thinks she should have gotten it on audiobook if Scott Simon read it because a whole novel in that voice would have made in better.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Any one who likes politics, has written about politics, covered politics or just wants a good story should read this book.

02 July 2008

Two-timing

Word Nerd's been two-timing with her characters lately.


She's still working on the edits for her WIP, but she's also been checking in with some old friends -- characters she first dreamt up in graduate school.


She does not feel bad about this.


The editing of the WIP is hard, hard work. It's tough to look that critically at what you wrote and fix bad things and throw good stuff out that just doesn't fit and add new scenes that, hopefully, aren't terrible. Hard work. There's certainly a sense of accomplishment when the scene truly is better later, but it's no fun getting there.


Word Nerd's been needing some writing fun and so she went back to two characters she first invented for a story in her creative fiction class in graduate school. They are two gentlemen thieves -- sort of Scarlet Pimpernel-ish -- who fight well, dance well, dress well, flirt well and do an equally darn-good job of turning the kingdom on its head. In short, it's been a while since Word Nerd spent any time with them and it's fun to see where their latest caper is taking them. (Right now, inside the Magistrate's castle...)


It's not that Word Nerd doesn't love her WIP characters still... she just needs someone else (or two someones in these two characters) right now to keep things fresh.

01 July 2008

June Bibliometer

Here's the count for June:

10 books
2,874 pages
92/pages per day average



YTD:
51 books
17,322 total pages