What I Read
This week has been a bit of a slow one. Early on, my computer (once again) died, and so my ability to get to my reading library has been a bit hindered. It’s going to be a few weeks before I can get to my e-book library again, so I’m currently picking up some new books through Netgalley and various other ARC sites in the hopes of filling the time.
Luckily, I did get a chance to finish up Aisuru by Anma Natsu, and I’m happy to report that it was actually quite good—if a little cliché. If you’re an anime fan, this will probably be right up your alley. It does stick to a lot of the pretty standard Japanese anime/manga cliché’s, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good book. I really liked it, so keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming review.
Here’s the trouble with picking books up from Netgalley though. Unlike Amazon, it doesn’t have a preview button. I got approved for a copy of Shadows by Paula Weston and The Last of the FIreDrakes by Farah Oomerbhoy over the weekend, and so far, I’m not impressed.
Here’s the problem. The Last of the FIreDrakes has an interesting premise and a gorgeous cover…but the narrative is written like some teenager scrawled out the story in their boy band notebook. The editing is sloppy, the writing is terribly cliché and unbelievable, and the pace is ridiculously fast. I’m only 3 chapters in and I’m already over it. We’ll see if I can push any further.
Unfortunately, Shadows by Paula Weston has a different problem. The writing is spectacular. The story is gripping, and I’m engrossed…. but somewhere between the publisher, Netgalley, and my Kindle, every instance of “th” and “fi” “fs” “fr” “ff” (basically anything that has an F in it) has been replaced with a blank space. This leads to sentences like “It’s a er work and I have e track to myself.” Every single sentence is an exercise in deciphering what the author meant before it got butchered by the formatting somewhere. I really want to like this story, but it’s so hard to be patient with it when I have to continually stop to figure out what letters are missing. I’m going to continue to try to push through it, but it is rather exhausting.
Review Dates Coming Up:
Monday, September 14 – Aisuru
Wednesday, September 16 – Shadows
Monday, September 21 – The Last of the FIreDrakes
What Was Posted
What I Did
I’m actually quite proud of myself this week. After my computer died (yet again), I decided instead of whining about the fact that I’d literally just gotten my computer back only to have it throw a tantrum, I would use this downtime being relegated to the family laptop to work on my writing.
I’m happy to report that in the last two days alone I’ve added 8k words and 14 new scenes to the detailed outline I’ve been doing for Khet (currently still unnamed, so the main character’s name has been adapted as the working title). I know, I know. I’m 38k words into this outline and only just now more than halfway in, and I’m fully aware that it can hardly be labeled an outline at this point—but let me explain:
I don’t do bullet outlines. Okay… I just lied. See that notebook in the picture above? That’s my bullet outline for Khet. It takes up the entire notebook. When I initially wrote it, I didn’t stick to the main points of the story. I wrote in concepts and ideas and notes, and the feelings of the characters… backstories and genetic lines…. anything I thought might be pertinent to the story—and boy am I glad I did! I then went back and highlighted important bits, cut out scenes and characters that didn’t need to be there, and added sticky notes to further detail specific points or add in new scenes. It’s a mess, really.
What I’m doing now (here comes the detailed outline part) is taking that notebook, cleaning it up, and writing it into a Word document, complete with bulleted notes, a general run-through of each scene, who the viewpoint is for that scene, any information pertaining to the scene that I need to remember or keep track of, who’s in the scene, the setting… etc. It’s basically a shortened first-draft of the story without the actual dialogue and narrative (and without the chapter splits), but with the structure of the scenes explained out with all the information and important bits I need to keep the story on track. That’s why the outline is so large. To give you an example, here’s a piece of one scene to give you an idea of how my outline reads (you’re seeing real behind-the-scenes stuff right now):
Setting: Khet’s family hut inside the river valley village, mid-morning, summer, hot and humid—but cooler indoors, and dark.
Characters: Khet, Safiya, Hala
Khet removes her blind. Her elder sister, Safiya, is diligently finishing the last few bits of adornment on her ceremony outfit. When Khet enters, her sister scolds her for being late, and threatens that Khet is to pretend they aren’t related. She doesn’t want her association with the blind girl to ruin her last chance at marriage.
Their mother scolds Safiya for being cruel to her sister, but asks Khet to understand. Safiya has missed out on the ceremony once before and is nervous about doing so again. Khet shakes her head and says that Safiya is right. She has no intention of ruining Safiya’s day, and she certainly hopes she doesn’t find a groom herself. Her mother chastises her for wishing something so odd, but Khet explains her worst fears: that she will have to hide her secret for the rest of her life… and how would she explain to her husband if their children too had green eyes? The voiced fear makes her family’s activities come to a stop. She shrugs and says that she’d rather live the rest of her life alone than live with that fear.
Safiya tells Khet not to sulk, and now ready, leaves to join the ceremony. Khet’s mother tells her not to worry and helps her to quickly get ready.
- Make Safiya’s dislike of her sister clear.
- Show that although she puts on a brave front, Khet is frightened by what her future might entail, and though she says she hopes to never get married or have children, she secretly wants both… just not at the expense of freedom.
- Khet at some point should ask about Ruwa… where she is, what she’s doing. (Ruwa remains unmarried). She is helping their grandmother set up.
When all this is done and cleaned up, I’ll then go back, do another look through for scenes that aren’t needed, cut it up into chapters, and start the first draft—which will be pretty easy to write out since I know exactly what my idea for each part of the story is. Basically, I’ve taken writer’s block out of the equation. Instead of starting the first draft and getting stuck by the finer details that aren’t figured out (I’ll just admit right now that I am terribly OCD), I’ve done all of that ahead of time, so that when I DO get to the writing, all I have to do is enjoy the actual language of the story. I know it seems like a lot of work, and it is up to a point, but it’s been a fun process, and it’s taken me from a very sloppy nine-chapter first draft (I scrapped it), to a fully fleshed out and plotted story that is much better organized and lacking of all loopholes. It’s been a really fun experience, and I’ve gotten a lot of work done, so I’m going to keep at it until I get this literary baby finished.
Honestly, my plans are pretty much the same. Write until my fingers fall off, homeschool my daughter, drink lots of coffee… try to catch some naps. It’s not much of a plan, but it’s working so far, and I’m somewhat limited by my lack of access to the majority of my files and games. We’re hoping to send in my computer to be fixed/replaced this up coming week, so hopefully in another few weeks I’ll get something back that relatively resembles my computer (but hopefully it will actually work), and I can get back to… well, everything. I miss my e-book library like you wouldn’t believe.
I hope you all have a great week!