Showing posts from December, 2012

Book Review: Fireseed One

This month I read Fireseed One by Catherine Stine. As mentioned earlier, I received a copy of the book as a prize months ago and I finally decided to read it.

Possible spoilers ahead, depending on what you consider a spoiler, or if you're just that guy.

A brief description:

The year is 2089. Climate change, or some undescribed cataclysm, (or both) has caused sea levels to rise, melting the polar ice. The Arctic Ocean (Ocean Dominion) and far northern latitudes of Canada (Land Dominion) have developed a temperate climate. South of Land Dominion lies the Hotzone, a lethal poisoned land, full of roaming nomads who are depicted by the northern media as blood thirsty, violent savages who are just waiting for their chance to invade the North.

We are introduced to eighteen-year-old Varik Teitur, whose father was a world famous marine biologist. After his father's death, Varik, who had planned to become a doctor, is now struggling to keep his father's Ocean Dominion farm afloat. One day he discovers that his father's seed vault has been broken into, and the culprit is none other than Marisa Baron, the daughter of the richest man in Land Dominion, turned eco-terrorist.

Marisa soon reveals to Varik that his father was working on something big: Fireseed, a plant that was bred to be fast growing and resistant to all manner of poisons, radiation, and the brutal heat of the Hotzone. If Fireseed exists, it could be the answer to all the world's food problems.

After a a series of events, Varik and Marisa embark on a journey to discover if Fireseed ever existed, and if it still exists. On the way they encounter eco-terrorists, struggling refugees from the Hotzone, and a cult that grew up around the myth of Fireseed.

Now for the review:

Fireseed One is billed as a YA novel, a genre that is not usually on my radar when choosing reading material, so I'm not sure if it's just me or if it's the writing or the characterisation that was off. Varik spends a lot of time being very angry with Marisa, like everything she does in the first half of the book makes him fly off the handle. Then he switches gears and next thing you know they're cuddling in a bar. I knew it was going to happen (it really wasn't a surprise), but it seemed very abrupt. In fact I really didn't like Varik, (or Marisa and all her sulking) for probably the first 2/3 of the book. Its only when they stopped yelling at each other and accusing each other of treachery that I was able to enjoy the story.

The story itself was very good. From Ocean Dominion to Land Dominion, to the Hotzone, Varik and Marisa's journey is fast paced and engaging. It was also a bit formulaic. You know they are going to end up cuddling in a bunker, you know that they will achieve their objective. You know that when they are in danger they will be rescued. Again, it's probably the YA genre that allows for it. There are really no surprises. Even the answer to big mystery of the Fireseed cult founder is very obvious, even if it's really never actually stated, and I wanted to yell at Varik "It's your supposedly dead mother, stupid!" (that's my spoiler). The only part that I wasn't expecting was Varik's open-ended fate.

Overall, if I had read Fireseed One when I was fourteen, I would have immediately started writing my own version starring a much cooler and prettier version of myself. That's actually a compliment, despite everything I just typed in the last two paragraphs.  It was definitely written for a younger audience in mind, and to be honest I'm pretty sure most of the things that bothered me about it are just the hallmarks of a YA novel.

For next week I'm going to read The Journey, by Michael Abayomi. Mr. Abayomi is a member of the Insecure Writers Support Group, and he has been promoting his 5-part Guardians series for the past few months, so I figured I'd give it a try.

The post in which I try to be helpful

When I was starting my first round of rewrites (what I call draft 1.5), I had a heck of a time organizing my manuscript. I am a major pantser, and my first draft was written completely out of order. I typed everything up (yes, I hand wrote it. Never again), into a semblance of order, and started working on filling in the blanks.

I quickly became frustrated with the whole project. At first I had one big document. It got to be too much to scroll through to find a particular passage. So I broke it up, saving each chapter as a separate document. OK. Fine, but when it came time to move scenes around, or insert new scenes and chapters, that quickly fell apart.

So I turned to The Google, the one place I can trust to answer all my questions, to guide me in in its infinite wisdom, to show me the ways of the universe.

I looked up "writing software". Then, because I'm me, I typed in "FREE writing software", and I came up with this:

It's a free writing software similar to Scrivner. At least that's what The Google tells me. I've never used Scrivner myself. After finding yWriter, I looked around, found plenty of people saying it wasn't going to destroy my computer with viruses, (it's free, you never know) so I decided to download the program.
It was the best thing I've ever done. Well the best thing I've ever done in service of my MS.
yWriter is a program that allows you to set up a project, create however many chapters you want, and inside the chapters create however many scenes you need. You can drag and drop scenes and chapters wherever you want. Need to add a chapter? Create a new one, drop it where ever, and renumber the chapters. It's mind bogglingly easy to use.

The program will also import a pre-existing project from a word document, and as long as you already have it broken down into chapters, it will automatically create you chapters and break the manuscript up for you. You can then export it back out to a word document whenever necessary.

To be honest, I don't use 90 percent of the features that come with the software. I don't do much outlining, and I don't have enough characters to use the feature that lists all the characters who might inhabit a particular scene. But it's great for organizing my thoughts as they go down, and there is a text to speech feature that gets a lot of use. It's amazing how many missing and misspelled words you find when you hear a robot read your MS.

So, if you're looking for something that will help you organize your work, is easy to use, is FREE and probably* won't break your computer, you can always check out yWriter here. I'm not pimping it or anything, I just figured I'd share.

*I don't guarantee anything.

Build Me a Blog-Hop

Upcoming Bogfest
The Build Me a Blog-Hop was created by David Powers King. Check out the awesome background design on his blog.

I decided to sign up for this one because I suck at design. I'm always choosing colors that clash-usually 5 shades of purple with some red and green tossed in there-using 6 different fonts, and just overall setting up an ugly layout. As you may have noticed, if you haven't been here for a couple of weeks, I went through and did a major re-design of my own. I considered dropping out of this blog hop, but there is always room for improvement, so how about letting some one else give it a whack

So a-ny-way, the point of the blog hop is to write in 200 words or less what your perfect blog would look like. Here we go (73 words, by far the least I've ever written for any of these things):

See the background image? That only better. I found it as a wall paper on Google Image search, but in order to get it big enough to work on my blog I had to blow it up several times, and at this size it's not as crisp looking as the original. So if something could be designed that is VERY similar to my current background, only larger sized, then that would be perfect.

Thank you David Powers King for doing this blog hop. We're writers, not web designers.

Google Is My Best Friend, Commas Are My Worst Enemy

I've set another ambitious goal for myself, so I've been busy doing rewrites on my MS. Part of my work involves clarifying for myself--and my future (I hope)--bits of information and processes.

This is how I found myself typing "What do rabbit guts smell like" into Google's search box.

Yes, I Googled "What do rabbit guts smell like?" and I got an answer. I'm sure you're wondering why I felt the need to ask such a question. Well, its part of the whole "show, don't tell" mission during these rewrites. Or "smell, don't tell," har-har.

Anyway, between Google and YouTube I have been able to answer a lot of the questions I've come up with. Such questions as:

How far from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara

Survival knife

How to skin a rabbit

How to skin a squirrel

Butterfly bandages

men's pants sizes

4 door Jeep

Have I piqued your curiosity yet?

The only other problem I'm really seeing as far as the technical part of my writing is the commas. There are commas everywhere, like someone (me) took a ten gallon bucket of commas and dumped them all over my manuscript. I don't know where they come from. Sometimes its just a run on sentence, but sometimes, they just appear in the middle of a sentence for no apparent reason. I found a few in the middle of words. In fact, on rereading this paragraph I found three commas that don't belong here. I am definitely a comma junkie.

I Got Bored, and Instead of Writing I Redecorated

You'll notice that things look a little different around here. I signed up for David Powers King's Build Me a Blog-hop, and while looking for inspiration for my entry, I got carried away. I like it, but I wonder if the background is distracting.

What do you think? Too much? I suppose if I have to ask if it's too much, it probably is. Which, you know, is why I entered David's blog hop.

You'll also notice I added a real life picture of myself over there on the right. I guess that's what I look like. I never look the way I think I look in pictures. So, Howdy. Nice to finally meet you face to face.

Insecure Writers Support Group: December

Another month, another IWSG post. Sorry it's late, I have been sick for the past couple of days.

For most of the past month I've had this look on my face:
On Monday I made an Inspiration Monday post that I dubbed Unspiration Monday, due to some problems I was having with writing, but immediately after making that post, I pushed through on two chapters of edits on my MS. I was very proud of myself and happy with the progress.

Then I got sick and Grumpy Cat reared his Grumpy (smooshy, wittle, wubbly, nom-nom face) head again.

I'm trying to keep Grumpy Cat at bay. Grumpy Cat doesn't get anything done other than look adorably grumpy. Grumpy Cat doesn't write.

I need Zen Cat:

and Focused Cat:

So I can be Victory Cat:

There really wasn't a point to this except that I needed an IWSG post, I didn't know what to write about, and I like pictures of cats.

Inspiration Monday

The post for the first Monday of the month is supposed to be about something that inspires me to write.

Well, this month I'm just drawing a blank. I'm not feeling very inspired, and my brain feels particularly fried from my duties at work. This is just one of those times where I really don't feel inspired at all.

I've tried working on revising my current MS. When that doesn't work out, I try to write something new. And when that doesn't work out, I just sit staring at the computer screen or paper, and fantasize about doing anything but writing.

I'm sure we all go through this. No inspiration, a case of the blahs. I'd rather space out in front of the TV than write today. So today, I'm just going to dub this Unspirational Monday.

Don't let my attitude ruin your day. Are you feeling inspired today?