Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I have a love/hate relationship with revisions. Okay, full disclosure, it's a little more hate and a little less love. It's like training. I just want a toned body not necessarily all the exercise that goes with it. But that's how it works.

The love part kicks in when I suddenly realize I've done it (or I'm doing it!). A few months ago I received invaluable feedback about my WIP. It all made perfect sense. I agreed with it in full. Sign me up. On board. Here we go...

Only how?

I genuinely had no idea where to begin. And once I began there just seemed to be more and more and more to do. It ended up a little something like this:

-Cut 20,000 words
-Re-arrange much of what's left
-Write a new 15,000 words
-Revise everything
-Cut another 10,000 words
-Write another 6,000 words

And now I'm about to re-read it in full once again! I've killed off more darlings than I ever have before but with each execution I ask myself, "Does this advance the plot?" Not a subplot but THE PLOT.  The answer determines if it stays or if it goes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: The Lucky One

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm.

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives.

Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, The Lucky One is Nicholas Sparks at his best—an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.

I saw Nicholas Sparks speak a few years ago at the National Book Festival. I had fallen in love with The Notebook like most of America so I thought he'd be interesting to hear. He followed John Irving's talk in the fiction tent. Talk about opposites! (But that's another post altogether.) Sparks' spoke mostly about his work in progress at the time: The Last Song. The book they were pushing in the Festival's make-shift bookstore, however, was The Lucky One. I remember thinking it sounded interesting but then saw the long, long, long line to buy it. I assumed I might pick it up at another time but with so many books on my TBR list, that simply didn't happen. Then the movie came out.

I've mentioned before that I can't watch a movie and then read the book it's based on. I can do the opposite however. And, thus, my attention was turned back to The Lucky One. I'm not always a fan of alternating prospective and this is alternating third person perspective, something else I'm even less used to reading. Sparks makes it work, however, and the characters all seem incredibly real and, at least for Elizabeth and Logan, completely relatable and enjoyable. Elizabeth's ex-husband Keith definitely sells the all-around creep persona. To this end, you will genuinely feel like you know these people, their motivations, and all the intricacies of their complicated relationships.

I haven't read a ton of Sparks' work but I've read some. The characters in The Lucky One are 29 years old and yet they have old souls, likely due to their circumstances: Logan's war experience and Elizabeth's single mother status and primary caretaker role. For this reason I think the book will attract a wide audience across age groups. It's also a universal story of love and acceptance and about finding one's way in the world. 

The story could have benefitted from some more action sprinkled throughout. As it stands, much of the beginning and middle portions of the novel are character development and the groundwork upon which a romance could build. There are, of course, twists and turns although given the alternating third person perspective, the reader already knows the information the characters themselves are shocked to discover. For this reason, the tension is a little deflated. I didn't find myself tiring during these sections but by the end, when the tension rises, the stakes are high, and the action is great, I realize that Sparks can really shine in an action scene. I wish there had been more.

All in all, this story is a quick and overall enjoyable read for someone who wants to experience a second chance at love with a couple of likable characters. You'll also find yourself believing a little more in luck or at least experiencing increased faith that positive thinking can do wondrous things.

Did you read the book or the movie? What did you think? Where does this rank with other Nicholas Sparks books you've read? 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Swagger Song

I have a couple of book reviews coming up on the blog this week but first, for this dreary, rainy, cold Monday I have a swagger song to hopefully lift your spirits. So here's to bundling up at home or the office, sipping a nice vanilla chai latte, and listening to a great new pick me up song. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I recently finished the series Friday Night Lights. LOVED it! That's a wonderful example of good characterization. My new obsession I've moved onto is now the TV show Lost. I'm still in the first season but rapidly devouring it up. If you want a good example of plotting, go watch Lost.

I never watched the show when it was still on television (so thank you Netflix!) but now I see what all the clamor was about. Each episode ends with a kind of cliff hanger. Kate's a wanted criminal. What did she do?! Onto the next episode. There's a monster in the jungle. Well, what is it?! Onto the next episode. There's a door of some sort in the jungle; a girl is kidnapped and they only wanted her, and so on. 

All of these things have suspense and intrigue. Not only do you want to find out what happens next but you're left with the kinds of questions that tap into your imagination. That's how each chapter in your manuscript should end. Provided not every manuscript is going to have the same degree of twists and turns made possible by the setting of a deserted jungle island.

Still, a major turning point for characters in all books is when they are throw into the foreign world. What's defined as "foreign" can vary. This could be Bella in her new town of Forks or Harry at Hogwarts, so long as the character has made a distinct transition to get to where they are now. As they move through this new world, that's where the plotting really takes off.

What books or movies do you think have mastered plotting and why?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Host

I haven't read The Host. My husband and a couple of friends have and with mixed (at best moderate) reviews. It's the adult fiction debut of bestselling Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. It's certainly not what people expected after Twilight, but it was still on the bestseller list and, now, is being made into a movie.  The trailer has been debuted:

What do you think, will you go see it? What books are you hoping they'll adapt into film?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cover Love

I've come across some very interesting looking books. Get excited!!!!!

 1. Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

This book is about building the perfect boy. Here's the description: Sixteen-year-old Evening Spiker lives an affluent life in San Francisco with her mother, EmmaRose, a successful geneticist and owner of Spiker Biotech. Sure, Evening misses her father who died mysteriously, but she’s never really questioned it. Much like how she’s never stopped to think how off it is that she’s never been sick. That is, until she’s struck by a car and is exposed to extensive injuries. Injuries that seem to be healing faster than physically possible. While recuperating in Spiker Biotech’s lush facilities, she meets Solo Plissken, a very attractive, if off-putting boy her age who spent his life at Spiker Biotech. Like Evening, he’s never questioned anything... until now. Solo drops hints to Evening that something isn’t right, and Emma-Rose may be behind it. Evening puts this out of her mind and begins her summer internship project: To simulate the creation of the perfect boy. With the help of Solo, Evening uncovers secrets so big they could change the world completely.

 2. The Forsaken by Lisa Strasse

Here's what it's about: As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up. The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.

 Yes, yet another dystopian book in the mix but, seriously, doesn't this sound cool? And how awesome is this cover? It's futuristic, artistic, and altogether different than any other book cover I've seen. Bravo book marketers, bravo.

 What about you guys? What do you think of these covers?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Really Cool Book Trailer

 One of my friend's works in book marketing and posted the book trailer of Marcus Sedgwick's Midwinterblood. Once I watched it, I knew I had to share. I do wish the trailer told us a little more about the plot but I will give it two major props:

1. It's unlike any other book trailer I've EVER seen.

2. I was immediately intrigued and had to go look up the book jacket.

So...from a marketing perspective this is a total win!

Here's the trailer:

So what do you think? Is this trailer super cool or what?