January 13, 2016

This Is Where It Ends- Shadowcon Mini-Views

Alright, so I just finished up the book This Is Where It Ends by debut author Marieke Nijkamp, so I thought I'd put down some thoughts about this. Let me just say to start, I was so looking forward to reading this book! I'd heard a lot of good buzz about it and the premise seemed loaded with potential: have the book take place over a period of one hour wherein students are victim to a school shooting/hostage situation. And having the POV characters be intimately familiar with the shooter opens the door to many great storytelling and character possibilities. So, premise-wise, this book had me hooked!

Unfortunately, Nijkamp just couldn't make good use of what she had. The dialogue in here feels very flat, like a rough draft attempt at a script instead of feeling like real people speaking, something that bothered me a lot because I'm used to the YA genre being very conscious about authentic dialogue between characters. But this felt far from authentic. I also was not a fan of how banal the voices of the various POV characters sounded; it felt to me like the author wanted to have poignant moments of introspection for the characters, but none of it stuck because she kept forcing it onto the page with every other line. The thoughts the characters have and how they work through problems does not feel natural at all, and this kills a large portion of what should have been the driving force of the book for me.

The biggest weaknesses by far, however, are the relationships between the various characters. None of it feels natural, and this is especially true for Sylvia and Autumn, a closeted gay couple. They lack believable chemistry; they say they love each other, the words are written on the page many a time throughout the work, but we never get to really grow attached to them as a couple or as people. Nothing of their relationship is ever explored, it's all just dumped on the page for us to lap up. And the blandness of the romance would have been fine if the book were aiming for a more neutral, down-to-earth tone. But no. Everything in here is poised to be grand: grand in how the plot unfolds, grand in how people die, grand in the dialogue... but none of that amounts to much because it's all so in-your-face blatant that it loses all its power.

I am very disappointed by this book. As much as the premise for this excited me and as much as people kept raving about it, perhaps I set my sights too high. But I don't think so. A book that tackles as much as this one tries to should not be a light read. This was a light read, and I am very saddened and disappointed by that.

January 8, 2016

Happy New Year, 2016!

Hi, everyone!!

So, on Monday, I successfully completed my first full draft of my first manuscript! I had planned to complete it by next Sunday, actually, so getting it done a few weeks early was good! Considering I've never written a book before, or at least never finished one, this is a major accomplishment for me and I'm super happy that it's done.

Here's my progress chart

And here's a little thing I put on twitter in the wake of my accomplishment, a shoutout to one of my favorite writers and upcoming authors:

She responded to it too 'cause she's cool like that, so that made me smile!

It was definitely a learning process, and it'll continue to be a learning process once I go back and begin the never ending process of revision, which I'm very excited for! My brain is already making changes to the story, cutting sections out, and overall just urging me to get to editing the actual work now, but I've been told time and again (and I know from experience) that it's best to wait at least a few months to let your work cool before you dive into edits.

In the meantime, I've begun finally drafting my talk for Lewis&Clark's Gender Symposium slated for March! I'm very eager to present there and am finding the writing very fun and refreshing; after spending a few months on a single book, y'know, a change in style and medium is such a breath of fresh air! My analysis is focussing on the Windblade comic book and character and contrasting her with the well known and loved Arcee, and it's shaping up to be a fairly good project.

Finally, the biggest news for this week: I got offered (and have now accepted) a job! And it's a writing job!! Granted, it's for a technical company so I'll be doing mostly tech writing and editing, but still! My first job out the gate and it's a writing job and I'm actually super excited about it! Coupled with the fact that this semester's course load is going to be insane, I'm a bit nervous, but I hope I can manage to balance all of this stuff, so we'll see.

I'm going to my local comic con tomorrow, so that should be fun. My friend and I planned to go today and actually got dressed up and drove over there and everything, and only then did we find out that the thing started pretty late in the day today and only tomorrow did it start at a normal hour. Needless to say, my friend was less than pleased with me, having gotten all gussied up today, and yeah, I felt pretty terrible about that, especially since she drove and paid for parking already! Yeah, so looks were given! Anyway, tomorrow will doubtless be better!

That's all for now! I hope your first week of 2016 has gone well, and I'll try to post more regularly here!