Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cupid's Literary Connection-- Blind Speed Dating!

If you've never visited Cupid's Literary Connection and you are a writer, get thee hence now!  Go visit the sight of the mighty Cupid, who works hard anonymously to connect writers and agents.

Tomorrow, Monday Feb 24th, begins a four-day round of Blind Speed Dating, in which agents (under fake names) make requests for partials and full manuscripts from presented queries and first 250 words who have made it into this round through a previous round of judges called the Bouncer Round.  The rules for Blind Speed Dating are sort of complicated and fun--the agents have a limited number of arrows to "shoot" at writers to make their requests--, so I'll let you go read them, but the really great thing about an event like this is you can really get an idea of what agents are looking for. 

Take some time and read the queries that are getting the arrows (ie- the requests.)  What makes them stand out?  What's great about their 250 words?  If you could only choose five queries, which would they be?  Did those five get any requests?  Of course, the ten agents participating might have totally different tastes or interests than you do, so not matching up doesn't mean you have zero taste.  But I found that even in the Bouncer Round, I learned something from every entry.  And yes, I entered the Bouncer Round, and I'm in this round.  Yay!  But there's seriously tough competition.  Many great queries, many great strories.

You can follow along at Twitter using the hashtag #CLCBSD and you can follow the agent's trash talk at #AgentTTT, which promises to be amusing.

Good luck to everyone over at Cupid's Literary Connection and have fun during Blind Speed Dating week!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Code Name Verity- A Review

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, deserves all the hype it's getting. Amazon gave it Best Teen Book of the Month in May 2012.  Reviews by the Biggies such as The Horn Book and The Washington Post praise this book to the sky and for good reason.

I don't even like historical fiction.  It did take me a few chapters to get into it, I admit.  And until about half-way through, I didn't feel the compulsion to never put the book down until I was finished.  That's rare for me.  I tend to be a read-in-one-sitting kind of gal.  But there is a slow beauty at work here.  There are startling twists and turns that make your mind feel like jiggly jello in the best way and the writing itself is carefully crafted and beautiful.  Truly beautiful. 

Ms. Wein's skill at developing an unexpected plot, with shifting point of views that WORKS, is incredibly impressive to me.  It was also refreshing to read a novel for teens (although I think this book is for adults, too) that is not about romance.  I loved the characters.  These ladies have bigger fish to fry than worrying about getting a date for prom.  They are fighting a war.  Readers should know there are descriptions of torture, though it's always past tense, never happening in the moment, so it's not as difficult to read as I feared. And it will make you cry at the end.   Be warned.  But it's a fabulous, wonderful read!  Go out and read it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Unravel Me- A Review

As soon as I saw that Tahereh Mafi's sequel to Shatter Me was out--Unravel Me--, I immediately bought it via Kindle.  I actually prefer reading from a print book still, but the convenience of one-click purchasing and immediate download is great.  At any rate, Unravel Me is book two and does pick up pretty much where you leave off.  I found I needed to go back and reread the last few chapters of the last book because there's not a lot of attempt of filling us in...this is not a series where you can hop in and get sort of the background woven in, like the early Harry Potter books.  You need to know what's going on right away or you'll be lost. 

Again, Ms. Mafi's writing steals the show.  There is not one cliche in the entire book and her way with language is as unique as it is impressive.  Sometimes, it's almost too over the top for me, but mostly she keeps the pretty words from being too distracting for someone as prone to notice beautiful prose as me.  I will reread it just to slow down this time and savor the language.  I read it quickly the first time to see what happened.  This was a two-sitting read, only because I bought it later in the evening than I normally would have.

I don't love the main character, truthfully.  She irritates me a good bit, but I think that's one of Ms. Mafi's impressive skills-- keeping a reader when  a main character is making poor choices or wallowing in self-pity is tough.  But she does it.  And there are some plot twists (no spoilers here so soon!) that I'm not sure I fully believe fit this character...but there is a make-out scene so steamy that I'm willing to look the other way and say I believe it.  If you have a younger child reading these because of the super-hero aspects of them, do be aware there is violence and lots of sexual tension at times.  Lots of both.

The one thing I struggled with is that every time someone's gift is mentioned or revealed, I was mentally running through my file of Marvel or D.C. comic superheroes to see who they matched. Oh, there's Rogue.  Oh, there's Mr. Fantastic.  No one is Kitty Pryde, though.  I will give that spoiler, because she has always been my favorite X-Men and favorite superhero ever.  I'm glad no one had a quite gift like hers.  I would have been distracted.

At any rate, I really enjoyed this one and will most definitely buy the next one.  The last couple of pages of the final chapter were a very promising set-up for what I assume will be the final book!