Thursday, March 31, 2011

Revealing the story... & why I love Ryan Reynolds

I finally got around to seeing one movie that I've been dying to see, Buried. I'm a big Ryan Reynolds fan, but that's not the point. I really wanted to see this based on the premise. It's about a guy that's been kidnapped over in Iraq and held for ransom. Okay, so that's not that different? But, the entire movie takes place in a coffin. For 90 minutes all you see is the things that are happening to Reynolds. He has a phone, alcohol, lighter, numerous (coloured) torches, knife and pens.

A movie that's only got one visual actor (the rest are voices over the phone), it needs to be able to tell the story some way and I absolutely loved Chris Sparling's script. So, what does this have to do with how the story's revealed? Even though movies are pretty much all show because they're up on the screen and you're watching the action unfold, it's still the fact that he's stuck in a coffin, so the viewer needs to find out what's happened and all the background story over the phone.

This movie is a great example of how to do small snippets of backstory in the dialogue without seeming like exposition.

As writers, we have an entire backstory created for the character that we really can't just put in big blocks of writing. So, how do you choose how to reveal that story?
  1. Reveal snippets in dialogue
    This is the easiest way, as long as it flows naturally and doesn't seem like the character is just talking about their life because it's needs to be said.
  2. Flashbacks
    The easiest way would be to go back to the part of history that you need to describe of the character.
  3. Memories from items
    Characters could find an item, diary or even a place that might bring out that memory. Still this needs to show the relevance to the story that you're creating.
  4. Is it important?Before you actually tell the reader of the backstory, you must decide whether it's actually important. Will the reader gain a better understanding of the character or their motivations? Does it reveal a hint about the ending? Or is it just a fascinating tidbit that you love? The last question probably means that you don't need to tell the reader of it.

    So, how do you choose what backstory to include in your stories and how do you reveal them? Also, what was the last movie you saw?

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Review: Bumped

    Bumped by Megan McCafferty

    Synopsis (From Goodreads): When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents are forced to pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

    Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend Zen, who is way too short for the job.

    Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to bring Melody back to Goodside and convince her that “pregging” for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

    When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

    In a world where infertility is a disease that occurs when one turns 18. With the population declining, teenagers have become the most important people. People would pay good money for good surrogates, so teenagers are being represented and search for contracts.

    Melody is one of those girls. She has been prepared for this ever since she was young, and her file is nearly flawless so she should get only the best prospect. There is only one small flaw and that is her identical twin sister Harmony. When Harmony comes from the church culture of Goodside to find Melody to persuade her that "pregging" for profit is a sin and Melody is paired up to "bump" the famous Jondoe, a case of mistaken identity causes both girls to think about what they want. Is what they've been taught and prepared for all their lives really what they want?

    This story was interesting and I'm torn between loving and hating it all at the same time. Okay, let's get the bad out of the way first. The story was intriguing, but the one thing that did catch me up was the amount of foreign slang. I understand that it's a dystopian future, but if I have to think about the word and try to work out the meaning it's actually pulling me out of the story. The other bad thing was that at times Harmony's side could be a bit preachy about marriage before sex, but I don't think that could have been helped much.

    But, this novel has a lot of things you've got to love. There are the characters. All of them are fleshed out and easily to relate to. The twins have exact opposite personalities even though they are identical. Zen is so adorable, he's always there for Melody even though he knows that she's going to be paired to someone else to be "bumped" with.

    The story was interesting and I just had to keep reading. It's a fully realised dystopian world and the story of the two sisters is well weaved. It's a page-turner as each chapter alternates between Melody and Harmony and the reader follows them through the story of desire, mistaken identity and self-discovery.

    I look forward to when the next one comes out.

    Source: Netgalley
    Release Date: April 26th 2011
    2011 Debut Author Challenge: #7 of 20
    2011 YA Reading Challenge: #13 of 50

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    Can adaptations live up to the book?

    I'm sure I'm not alone with this, but where I read I get a clear picture when I read a book, so when a movie comes out I've already got some idea of what it should be like. I do try to see the adaptation with different eyes because I know that it's being shown on a different medium and some things written in words cannot be shown on the screen.

    There have been some that I loved, but I admit I haven't read the books yet. I just saw Red Riding Hood and thought that was done very well, so I'll have to go out and get the book to see whether the movie still lives up to the book.

    What can they do to adaptations to change them from the books (this can be for the good or for the bad... mostly the bad)?
    1. "Watered down" the action
      I have seen this happen. The content in the book is deemed too violent for the audience so they either eliminate it or change it so that the "children" will be able to watch it... even though they are the ones reading it.
    2. Change the endingWhen a book ends one way I expect the movie to also end that way, but there are some movies that just change the ending so that it's not as "sad".
    3. Cutting crucial subplotsI know movies have to tell the story of the book within 1.5-2 hours, but sometimes the subplots that they cut I feel are crucial to the story or, when cut, will change the motivations/sympathies of the main character.
    4.  Cutting charactersOkay, once again I know that they have to tell the story within a certain time frame, but sometimes the characters that they cut are the characters that add a bit more interest/humour to the story. Or I just love them and can't believe they've been cut.
    So, do you like adaptations or just prefer to stick with the books. Have you seen any that lives up to the book? And, what don't you like to be seen in the adaptation?

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Review: Wither

    Wither by Lauren DeStefano

    Synopsis (From Goodreads): What if you knew exactly when you would die?

    Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

    When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

    But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limited time she has left.

    In a world where girls die at 20 and guys die at 25, it is dangerous for girls to even wander the streets. Rhine knew this, and when the Gatherers collect her and she is forced into marriage with two other brides, she is taken away from the only family she has left, her twin brother. She can't forget about him and she vows to return home, if she can just get away from the mansion she's locked in. It's not just her husband. Linden that she has to worry about.  It's Linden's eccentric father who is bent on finding a cure, even if that means gathering the bodies of the dead to perform his crazy experiments on.

    Together with a servant boy, Gabriel who she's managed to get close to, they try to find a way to escape. But as Rhine's time is running out, will she be able to escape and find her way home?

    Lauren DeStefano has created a confronting world where girls are being sold into marriage and prostitution. The writing is hauntingly beautiful as the reader is introduced to Rhine who is kidnapped and forced into marriage. The character of Rhine has been created with great depth and emotion that you can't help but feel sorry for her predicament. In order to be free, she has to pretend to love Linden, her husband, but at the same time the only thing she can think about is escaping. Then there's Linden's father, a man that is scary because he cares about his son too much and would do anything to make him happy and keep him alive.

    The setting created was beautiful and very contrasting to the world that Rhine had known previously. She was forced to make the decision to live in luxury for the remainder of her short life or escape to the dangerous world and back to her brother. But, her mind never waivers from finding a way back to her only family.

    There were enough twists and turns to keep me reading and hoping that Rhine will find a way to escape from her captors. I look forward to reading more about Rhine and her world.

    2011 Debut Author Challenge: #6 of 20
    2011 YA Reading Challenge: #12 of 50

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    Show Me The Voice Blogfest

    So, it's on. The fantastic Brenda Drake over at Brenda Writes is holding a blogfest over the 20th & 21st March. The challenge is to post the first 250 words of my manuscript and collect critiques over the 2 days, then work on making it better.

    Here's how the challenge works (taken from her blog):

    Sign up on the linky below. On March 20 and 21, post the first 250 words of your finished manuscript (any genre) on your blogto get critiques from your followers and then hop around to the other participants' sites and give critiques. Polish those 250 words and email them to me with CONTEST in the subject line by 12:00AM (EST) on March 22.  

    * * *

    So, here's my first 250 words: Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I've edited it so that there's not so much description, what does everyone think?

    Name: Cheree Smith
    Title: Shadow Embraced
    Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

    Her blows come quick – and hard – knocking me into the fleshy wall of the crowd. I'm pushed back to the centre ring and the circle tightens. Their chants are pounding against my head like rhythms of a drum warming up for the big sacrifice.

    “Fight! Fight! Fight!”

    Music blares in the background. Deep bass reverberates through the warped wooden floorboards. The lead singer sounds like he’s chewing on tin foil. I’m surprised I can hear all the taunts my opponent screams at me.

    “What are you waiting for?” the girl hisses. She could be Snow White with her porcelain skin and long, raven hair. “You started this. It was just between me and her.” She extends one long finger towards my best friend, Alex.

    Alex watches from the sideline. This is becoming the norm. Whenever we go out, she always gets in trouble and I’m the one to fix it – usually with some bloodshed.

    I don’t know what Alex did to piss off this poisonous cow, but now I want blood.

    “Come on, Scar,” Alex calls.

    My opponent launches at me. I shield my face from her punches. It all comes down to waiting for an opening. She’s fast, almost as fast as me. I look up at her. It’s difficult to maintain my balance enough to strike back.

    I duck under a right hook and seize my chance. I throw an uppercut and knock her pale ass to the ground.

    Then a single word roars through the room. “Scatter!”

    * * *

    Good luck to everyone who's entered.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Words that you hate

    I've been in a busy state of editing my WIP the past couple of days. I read through all the pages making note of all the ugly adverbs I've used or repeated phrases, and I've discovered that the amount of times I used "suddenly" and "slowly" was scary... so, I planned to get rid of those two words.

    That got me thinking that there are some words or phrases that when I'm writing, or even when I'm reading, that does make me cringe, or at least bugs me.  "And suddenly" being one of those at the top of my list.

    Are there any words that you eliminate from your novel because you overuse it or really hate it or cringe when you're reading?

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Review: The Liar Society

    The Liar Society by Lisa & Laura Roecker

    Synopsis (From Goodreads): Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. But when she gets an e-mail from Grace, she’s not so sure.

    Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
    Subject: (no subject)

    I'm here…
    sort of.
    Find Cameron.
    He knows.
    I shouldn't be writing.
    Don't tell.
    They'll hurt you.

    Now Kate has no choice but to prove once and for all that Grace’s death was more than just a tragic accident. But secrets haunt the halls of her elite private school. Secrets people will do anything to protect. Even if it means getting rid of the girl trying to solve a murder...

    One year ago, Kate lost her best friend, Grace. No one would believe her when she said it was not an accident and she didn't know what to do to prove it, until she gets a mysterious email from her "dead" best friend.

    Kate is thrown into the mystery surrounding Grace's death, and together with her two nights in-not-so shining armour, conspiracy theorist and love-sick neighbour, Seth and the hot bad boy, Liam, they search for the truth about what happened that night. But, how can she know what the truth is when everyone and everything about that night is twisted up in lies and the closer she gets, the more apparent it is that someone doesn't want her finding out the truth.

    I was eagerly anticipating the Liar Society. The Roecker sisters are very entertaining on their blog, and I was not disappointed with their debut novel. The Liar Society had enough twists and turns as Kate finds herself in a full-blown mystery involving secret societies, archaic traditions and murder.

    I absolutely loved Kate and everything about her right down to her spunky attitude to her pink hair and pearl necklace. She was a character that, even though she was still mourning for her dead best friend, she didn't want to give in and she definitely knew how to take care of herself.

    And, then there are the boys. Two very different characters and both very loveable in their own way. Seth, the nerdy neighbour is so sweet and would do anything for Kate just to get some attention from her, and then there is Liam (mmm Liam), definitely a misunderstood Bad Boy who doesn't want to see Kate hurt. All the characters were fleshed out and each had a very specific motive and purpose for being in the novel. I loved that.

    The Liar Society is definitely one page turner that will keep you turning the page until the end. I look forward to seeing more adventures of Kate and her school Pemberly Brown.

    2011 Debut Author Challenge: #5 of 20
    2011 YA Reading Challenge: #11 of 50

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    What makes you wanna read it?

    I'm very impulsive, especially with books. My TBR list constantly builds because more and more books gets released. But, there are a couple of things that must appeal to me before I even consider purchasing a book.

    1. If it's from an Author I've read/Part of a series
      If I like the author I'll probably get other books that they've written, and I'm a sucker for series. Even if I only somewhat enjoyed the first book in a series, I just have to read the rest... it's something about leaving it unfinished that I can't do.
    2. Author I've heard about
      The blogging community is great. They've introduced me to a whole lot of stories that I wouldn't have imagined I'd pick up on my own accord. If I read a review on a blog that's positive, I'll probably be tempted to read that book (so yes, book blogs are a really big help with giving me suggestions of books to read).
    3. The Cover
      Now, this is where the actual book comes in. I've been told I'm very distracted by "shiny" objects. I can't help it. If I like a book cover, I'm going to pick it up. If I haven't heard anything about the author, the book cover is probably the most important aspect. I don't care about the "Don't judge a book by it's cover", it's definitely the cover that makes me take any notice.
    4. The Blurb
      If I like the cover, then I'll read the blurb. I've got to like the sound of the book in order to be that one step closer to buying it, even if the cover is eye-dazzling fantastic.
    5. The First Page

      The last factor for me to buy a book is the first page. I'll browse through the first couple of paragraphs to see if I like the writing style. If it's something I like then I'm sold with the book.
    So, how do you choose what books you read? What is the first thing that attracts you to a book?

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Book Blog Hop

    Book Blogger Hop

    Book Blogger hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy for Books. I found this while browsing blogs and thought this was a great way to meet bloggers that love books as much as I do.
    This week's question: Who's your all-time favorite book villain?

    Oh boy, this is a really hard question. I'm afraid I'll have to cheat a bit because if you look at the whole series he's actually one of the good guys, but I'm going to say my favourite villain is Dimitri out of the Vampire Academy series, Blood Promise. Dimitri, whether he was good or bad, was just scrumptious. There's no way I could hate him, no matter how bad he went.
    So, what about you? Who is your favourite villain?

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    Review: Delirium

    Delirium by Lauren Oliver

    Synopsis (From Goodreads): Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

    But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

    Lena has been told all her life how the disease of deliria nervosa (aka love) is dangerous. It is the disease that caused her mother to take her own life. Lena has been counting down until she is old enough to take the procedure to be cured because she doesn't want to end up like her mother - she wants to be happy.

    That changes when she meets Alex. Alex is wild and different and through the words he says he makes her feel beautiful. When Lena feels herself becoming infected, she starts to wonder whether the disease is really as dangerous as the government makes it out to be. As her procedure draws near, Lena has to make the choice of whether she wants to live this "happy and pain-free" life that will happen after she's cured, or find a way to escape and be with Alex without getting caught.

    Lauren Oliver has created a world that is believable and slightly unsettling. It's hard to imagine a world that has banned "love", but through Lena's eyes the world becomes horrifyingly real. Lena is the perfect character to tell the story. She has been harmed by the disease with her mother's suicide, and she can't wait to become cured so she doesn't have to worry about becoming infected. As Alex shows her that love isn't as dangerous as everyone thinks it is, Lena grew exponentially as she started to question the world she has grown up in.

    The story and pace had me hooked from page one as Oliver created this original "Romeo & Juliet" style story. It contains plenty of ups and downs that kept me turning the page. I can't wait until the next one gets released so I can find out more of Lena's story.

    Recommend:  Uglies (Uglies Trilogy, Book 1)

    2011 YA Reading Challenge: #10 of 50

    Do you have a preference?

    When I write I'm more comfortable to write in 1st person present tense, so with my new YA horror I'm trying something different and trying to write in 1st person past. What I'm finding is that it's difficult to break the habit of using present, but it's also sounding a bit forced (which I'll work at once I finish the first draft). No matter how I write, I would always use first person because I find it easier to connect with the character.

    So, this got me thinking. Even when I read I'm more drawn to 1st person, whether past or present tense (even though I've read several that I didn't even pay attention to the tense because the writing comes naturally). I do read 3rd person, but I find it harder to get to know and relate to the character because the writing seems so distant.

    The question for today is, do you have a preference when it comes to reading?

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    A to Z Blogging Challlenge

     I came across this challenge the other day over at The Misadventures in Candyland and it sounded like it would be fun to participate.

    The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays. In doing this you will have 26 blog posts--one for each letter of the alphabet. Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet.

    You can post about whatever the eff tickles your fancy, so long as it corresponds with the letter of the alphabet of the day. Make sense? Everyone who blogs can post from A to Z.

    This will definitely be a challenge that will force me to post and think of creative topics... come join the fun.
    Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Her Lullaby kit by Irene Alexeeva