Honorable Mention – My Voice

The Stroke of Midnight (SOM) contest hosted by Passionate Ink was the second contest I’d entered my work Shadow Cat. The first was the Breakthrough contest presented by Amazon, which I didn’t even make to the first round. 🙂 So, back to SOM. Yesterday was the big event—the evening Passionate Ink held their big party and announced the winners of the SOM contest. I didn’t make it down to the party; my pocketbook said no. Okay, maybe it was more on the lines of “Are you freakin’ crazy? Do you know how much a trip down there would cost? We have bills to pay! You’re a starving writer, remember?” And people wonder why I leave my purse at home most of the time.

Anyway, the results are in! I didn’t place but received an honorable mention. Bummed was a good name for what I felt. Then I hit the ‘at least’ stage.

  • At least I made it to the finalist round.
  • At least I got feedback from judges and will get feedback from an editor (Chris Keesler – Dorchester Publishing)

Then I added some ‘not bad considering’ comments for good measure. Gotta keep the ego happy, you know.

  • Not bad considering I’ve only been writing for about a year.
  • Not bad considering this was my very first complete work.
  • Not bad considering I was up against more experienced writer; some who’ve even been published in other romance genres.
  • Not bad considering Shadow Cat was not as polished when I submitted it in April (my 9th month writing) as it is now.

Then I let reality soak back in. Maybe Shadow Cat just wasn’t that great. After all, it’s received tons of rejections. Of course I’ve also received a few rejections which said with a little work, I could resubmit for reconsideration.

I love Shadow Cat and the sequels I’ve started for it. And by no means have I given up my dream to see them in print or ePrint. I have learned through this contest I still have a lot of writing experience to obtain. I’m okay with that. As I told my husband after I picked myself up, “That’s okay. Cause my current WIP is so much better!” And it is.

After much reading, I see how other writers add their voice to their works. Sometime along the lines, I think my voice got stifled by rules and the likes/dislikes of critters. I’ve rediscovered my voice. I’ve tried to put it in my draft of Shadow Cat during rewriting and editing, but it’s hard to reinvent what’s already on paper sometimes. It’s so much easier starting fresh.

Anyway! Here’s to not giving up!

How did you find your voice? How do you prevent it from being stifled?

Hope It’s Better Than the Movie

No Software Review Post today. Honestly, I’ve been too busy writing my current WIP and playing with the upgrades for StoryBox (review here). I finally took the plunge and purchased the pre-release license. When I first reviewed it, he was on version 0.54. Now after bunches of modifications, he’s hit version 0.4.65. I don’t know what those numbers mean (lol), but I know I’m liking the addition. The guy’s moving fast on this thing with frequent updates.

Anyway, last night my husband and I watched Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, or something like that. My husband thought the story was unoriginal. I think he said something about Harry Potter wannabe? Anyway, I was fine with the storyline for the most part. Some of it was a bit fantastical, but that’s okay. My problem was the acting. Oh. My. Word! was it sucky. It almost had a Scary Movie parody feel to it, it was so bad.

So here’s the deal. Last week, after finding out P.C. Cast and Kirstin Cast were a mother/daughter team, I asked my daughter if she’d like to do something like that. She said maybe. We started braining storming ideas, and I said, what about a book about kids of the Greek gods. The roll of the eyes was my first clue that idea was out. Then she told me that theme’s been played with Percy Jackson & the Olympians. The who? The Lightning Thief! Really!?! Bummer. I’d put it on the Netflix queue but had no idea what it was about. Only it looked cool.

You know I’ve been into kids books lately. Well, after the talk with my daughter, I added the book to my TBR list and ordered the book. Would you believe the book arrived today?

I’m pretty excited about getting around to this book, despite the horrible movie. Not sure when I’ll hit it considering my reading pile is almost as tall as me. Maybe after I finish City of Bones. My daughter said that was the best book she read last year.

I got my copy at The Book Depository for $3.59 and it included free shipping.

The Book Depository

Just a reminder. The Book Depository is having a birthday coupon thingie. 10% off your order. The offer is good until August 31, 2010. If you’re interested in receiving one either send me an email at reenajacobs@reenajacobs.com or leave a comment. I’d be happy to send you coupon love.

Novel Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

It seemed like as if every blog I came across had a review, interview, or giveaway about the Iron King by Julie Kagawa. At first I ignored it, cause young adult (YA) wasn’t my thing. But then my daughter told me I should try some YA stuff. If you follow my blog regularly, you know I’m a paranormal romance (PR) fan all the way. But occasionally I step out of my comfort zone. All the hype about the Iron King did it for me. So, being the contest junkie I am, I set off to entering and hoping my name would be pulled out off the bag. Just as I was about to throw in the towel and order the damned book myself, I got a wonderful email from Mandi at Smexy Books saying I won! Hell yeah! I hopped into the book almost as soon as it arrived. The teaser from Ms. Kagawa’s website:

My name is Meghan Chase.

In less than twenty-four hours I’ll be sixteen. Countless stories, songs and poems have been written about this wonderful age, when a girl finds true love and the stars shine for her and the handsome prince carries her off into the sunset.

I don’t think it will be that way for me.

Not bad, right? So I started this book knowing nothing about it, only it was a hot item. Like the last few novels I’d read, this was also in first person. I’m starting to see first person narrative is quite common once I venture away from the (PR) genre. I thought the writing started out very strong. Excellent sentence variations which had a nice flow to it.

Now keep in mind, YA is not my forte. So what’s acceptable and not acceptable in this genre is beyond me. Even so, when I picture YA, this is not what came to mind. At times the novel seemed like a fairytale one would tell elementary school children–too fantastic to believe. At other times, it seemed more like a novel with adults in mind. It just didn’t fit either here nor there in my mind. For example, I had a hard time picturing broad-chested teenagers with deep voices. In fact, I snicker every time it comes to mind. Yet Meghan seemed to notice this on boys. It kind of reminds me of the mid-twenty and thirty year olds playing high schoolers on TV these days. Speaking of old men and young girls. Why is it so many shows these days portray high school girls with men 100s of years old? What’s the deal with that? I just couldn’t get into the idea of Meg crushing on this ancient elf. Call me a prude. I know I am in this area, but can’t help it.

Anyway, back to the novel. Let’s talk about the MC. In terms of MC, Meghan didn’t seem all that spectacular. Truly, she seemed more like a gal along for the ride. Very few things she did altered the turn of events. I would have liked her to play a more active role.

In terms of her internal workings, Meghan reminded me a lot of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz–not the book, but the movie. Like Judy Garland at age 16 trying to play a 12-year-old, Meg’s personality didn’t seem age appropriate either. At times her mentality was very adult-like, particularly at the beginning in dealing the interpersonal relationships of her brother and step-father. Even the teaser above, which is actually an excerpt from the book, seems a bit old in the mentality. Do teenagers really think like that? I don’t know. It’s been so many years, I seem to have forgotten. I would absolutely love a teen’s perspective on this. On the other hand, Meg’s actions seemed very childlike. For me, her internal voice didn’t coincide with her actions.

Meg’s verbal language also seemed a bit off to me. In my experience, the way people use language is often associated with the people they are around. For a gal who had no friends other than Puck, she sure did manage to acquire a potty mouth/brain. The way she used foul language made her sound like an adult at times. Again, this may be my lack of familiarity with the YA genre. My personal opinion, taking into account my inexperienced of the YA and middle grade (MG) genres, is this book would fit into the MG genre if not for the language, violence, and sex talk. I think all of the more graphic items could have been written out while preserving the integrity of the story. Just my thoughts.

On to the plot! Hmmm. I hate saying not so great things about another author’s piece of work, but really I found the plot unoriginal. It was like reading bits and pieces of popular works. For example, it included aspects of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan’s “I do believe in fairies,” the importance of faith in Narnia, and Dorothy’s journey to get back home in the Wizard of Oz. Now the lack of originality didn’t make the novel bad. Rather it just was not spectacular because it’d already been done. Still, I think this book would make a great movie just because of the fairytale aspects.

I also found the story to be more event driven than plot or character driven at times. I think if a few scenes had been cut, it would have held my attention a bit longer. It comes back to the question: How does this scene drive the story forward?

One item I really think the Iron King had going for it was clever dialogue, both internal and spoken. Silly at times, but I definitely enjoyed the banter. So, a couple of my favorite lines:

  • He continued washing his tail for several heartbeats, while I fought the urge to grab that tail and swing him around my head like a bolo. (Yep. I’ve been in these moods before.)
  • I felt him smile. “You make me feel alive again,” he murmured. (So touching–wish someone would say that to me.)

Overall, I thought the novel was an OK read.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes

Wait a Minute! That’s Mine!

I was winner #5 in the Bloody Bookaholic’s Ridiculously Awesome giveaway. And I tell you it was RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME! I got my choice of three books from a selection way too long to list. And they arrived!

My youngest daughter is the reason I chose these books. She knows I’m a book addict. One day she said, “Mom, why don’t you try out some YA books?” I told her I’d give it a try and kind of never got around to it. 🙂 About a month later, Taschima emailed me saying I was a winner! One thing led to another, and voila! I have 3 new YA books.

Now between the time I won the contest and the arrival of these books, I tried out three! Yes that’s three! YA novels. The Iron King by Julie Katawa (review 7-26-2010), The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (review 8-2-2010), and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (review 8-3-2010).  Well, the YA genre now has a new fan! I’m loving it. I ordered Marked by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast in anticipation of my winnings. Yay me! Only thing, my oldest daughter’s made a claim on them. Guess I’ll have to wait my turn.

Thanks again Bloody Bookaholic!

These selections can also be found at The Book Depository and includes free shipping.

The Book Depository

If no one’s let you in on it yet, The Book Depository is having a birthday coupon thingie. 10% off your order. The offer is good until August 31, 2010. If you’re interested in receiving one either send me an email at reenajacobs@reenajacobs.com or leave a comment. I’d be happy to send you coupon love.