Pitch Wars

I entered my first writing contest last week, Pitch Wars. And wow, what an experience. I don’t normally participate much on Twitter, but these past few days, I just couldn’t help myself from checking out the Pitch Wars feed. It’s amazing to see the buzz and excitement in the writing community.

I entered my YA novel, Hunter High, which is a horror/humour/mystery mash-up, with a sprinkle of romance. I had such a blast writing this book because it’s completely different than what I do professionally (educational content for kids). I didn’t have to worry about curriculum connections, age appropriateness, etc. I threw down words like blood, brain-bashing and hell with ease.

I’m not a psycho. Seriously. I just like horror.

A Comic Obsession

I dug out the old – but never forgotten – romance book that I wrote a few years back. Why, you ask? I read that the Harlequin Series Digital First Line was currently accepting submissions, and thought, what the heck? After reviewing, polishing, and updating, I sent it in. Below is a bit of a synopsis …
A Comic Obsession

SYNOPSIS

Nothing can prepare 25-year-old Brinn Michaels for the mind-blowing moment when she rushes into a popular downtown comic book store and smacks face-first into a sexy, leather-clad Caped Crusader (circa Christian Bale; no Adam West dorkiness here).

Shocked at her physical reaction to the mysterious Batman (who would’ve thought leather could be so intoxicating?), Brinn is desperate to buy her brother’s birthday present and get the hell out. She’s hot for a guy in costume, and that simply doesn’t fit with her calm, ordered world of calendars, schedules and smartphone alarms.

And why doesn’t this man fit into her world? A third-year law student at the University of Toronto, Brinn’s worked hard to get where she is, and it hasn’t been easy. Her dad buggered off when she was eight, and her mom died when Brinn was 20, leaving her to care for her 13-year-old brother, Adam. With all her responsibilities, Brinn doesn’t have time for fantasy and flirtation, no matter what her body is demanding.

But Brinn hasn’t seen the last of the man in black, also known as Jake Reynolds, sexy owner of the comic book store, Jade. In order to help her best friend, Emily, keep her job as associate producer on the hit reality TV show, Make Me Over, Brinn reluctantly agrees to pose as a guest – with Jake pretending to be her boyfriend. Now they need to spend the three weeks leading up to their segment’s taping getting to know each other … intimately.

Hunter High 2.0 Complete!

I wrote the last sentence of Hunter High on July 24 around 10:35 p.m. What a feeling! Whoo hoo. The entire story is complete, all 279 pages of it, and now I just need to revise. Having a whole week at a cottage to focus on finishing my second draft was such a luxury. I’d get up, eat breakfast, gaze at the water, go inside, and then write like a maniac.

I’m totally looking forward to revising. I need to review for character development, pacing, story structure, etc. Also, did I plant enough/too many clues? Does each scene move the story forward? Then on to the actual line editing.

In my reading world, I’ve enjoyed:

  • Sandman, Books 1 and 2
  • Danse Macabre (I can’t believe I’ve never read this Stephen King book before)
  • Prom Nights from Hell
  • Tales from the Script (a great non-fiction book about writing for movies)
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • 11/22/63
  • When You Are Engulfed in Flames (David Sedaris is the ultimate in shorty story humour: self-deprecating, deadpan, downright hilarious)

And next up:

Game of Thrones

Woe is May

This past month hasn’t been the best for reading books or updating my blog, which is pretty obvious, considering my last entry was April 18th. Between in-house work, freelance, and trying to write the second draft of my YA book… Enough excuses. Shame on me. Seriously. So, books.

I’ve Read:

Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
A hilarious and touching YA story featuring a “freakishly huge” boy and his friend who’s super tiny and super smart. Sharp and funny dialogue. I loved both characters, but why, oh why, must someone die?

Good Bones and Simple Murders, by Margaret Atwood
A collection of short stories that demand to be read again. She says so much in so few words.

Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
A quick read. Interesting enough story. Great illustrations.

I’m Reading:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Totally enamoured with this book. I’ve had it on reserve for months, and it finally came in on Saturday.

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
My “classic” book for the month. Enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would. I think I had convinced myself it would be stuffy and a slog to get through. Not in the least.

Frankenstein

Finally re-read Frankenstein, and I’m now left wondering, did I even read it in the first place?! I felt like I was experiencing a brand-new book, which I’m definitely not complaining about, but wow, I had no recollection of a lot of the story. Granted, I read it over 20 years ago, but still, I thought I’d remember more of such a classic.

Anyway, poor memory forgotten, the book affected me. Frankenstein made my blood boil practically every time he opened his mouth. He failed to take responsibility. Buddy, you were the cause of everything. I could go on and on about his selfishness, hubris, and obsessiveness, but he doesn’t warrant my time.

Now the monster, my heart broke for him–(even though, yes, he did murder people, though it was society’s reaction to his physical form that made him evil)–that whole year when he spied on the family, when he learned to speak and read, when he hoped that the blind man would accept him. But it never happened because the man’s son appeared and promptly started beating the monster with a stick. Argh…

This Dark Endeavour…

The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, by Kenneth Oppel is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Two words: loved it. We are introduced to a 16-year-old Victor Frankenstein and the tragic events that incite his passion for creation. The inclusion of a mortally ill twin brother who needs the Elixir of Life is an ingenuous idea. Kenneth Oppel is a brilliant writer! (I knew this already; he also wrote the Silverwing series.) I must now re-read Frankenstein and see how Oppel weaved bits of the classic into his novel. I’m especially interested to see the portrayal of Elizabeth and Henry.

I also read The Great Gatsby and loved that, as well, which totally surprised me. My best friend and I had talked about it a few weeks ago in the vein of, “Wasn’t that the book where a bunch of boring rich people talked at parties?” I’m embarrassed to admit that I had agreed, having read the book back in university and was not impressed. (Again, I chalk this up to having to fly through so many novels per week and not appreciating many of them.). Anyway, The Great Gatsby…Yes, there are obscenely rich people flitting from party to party, but I never realized that at the book’s core is obsession. Everything Gatsby does is motivated by his love for Daisy, to prove to her that he’s worthy and capable of taking care of her. She gets his hopes up, but in the end, treats him like garbage. Argh! Gatsby definitely partook in criminal activity, but wow, I felt such sympathy for the guy, and to some extent horror and embarrassment at his actions.

Neglected, Again

Wow wee. A full month since I last updated. What’s my excuse? Well, I’ve been busy working on my second draft of Hunter High, and of course, reading, reading, reading. I guess it’s easy to get out of the routine of updating once a couple of weeks have passed! So, my favourite books this past month…

Allison Hewitt is Trapped, by Madeleine Roux
A zombie novel written as a blog by Allison during the apocalypse. Gruesome, honest, and funny. Plus, it begins with Allison and five of her colleagues trapped in a bookstore. Let me say one thing, Allison is mighty handy with an axe.

Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion
Another zombie novel, this one told from the perspective of a young zombie called R. R is going through a crisis; he doesn’t want to be what he is, and through his relationship with a human girl, Julie (he ate her boyfriend’s brain), he starts to change. That’s all I’m going to write. I don’t want to ruin it, but hear this, it’s sad, sweet, gory, and hopeful. A unique take on the genre.

The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt
Not a zombie novel. Hallelujah. Recommended to me by a friend, this book is one of the best YA stories I’ve read in a while. I loved the main character, 12-year-old Holling. He’s so charming and sweet and clueless, plus he’s forced to read Shakespeare by a teacher he believes hates him. His dry sense of humour is priceless.

Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos
Also loved the young narrator in this book. Jack is “grounded for life” and is forced to help an elderly woman write obituaries for the summer. There’s murder, rats, baseball, and bomb shelters. Heavy on the local history.

Required Reading

I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which led me to re-read The Catcher in the Rye, as reviews of Wallflower kept referencing Catcher.

I read Catcher 15 years ago, and I must admit, I enjoyed it way more this time than back in university. I don’t remember Holden being that funny and sensitive.

I feel cheated in a way. Many of the books I read in university, I don’t think I enjoyed, and I know it’s because I had so much to read and it became a chore. It was like, here’s another two classic fiction novels; read them before the end of the week. I couldn’t take the time to enjoy the books.

So my plan is to include a classic into my reading rotation. I’ve also been pushed to do this by my recent viewing of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. The film was jam-packed with literary references, and I got most of them, but it made me realize how much I had forgotten. When the film ended, I immediately went online to find a literary reference cheat sheet.

By the way, The Perks of Being a Wallflower? Simply beautiful. It’s firmly on my favourites list.

Read, Write, Read

I’ve been so caught up the past week and a half revising Hunter High that I haven’t gotten ’round to updating…again!

So, books.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest: Enjoyed it. Found it hard to put down. A good wrap-up to the trilogy, but left me wanting to read more stories about Lisbeth. I wonder what the series would have tackled next if Larsson had lived.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules: An easy read for a Saturday morning. I like the dry humour and school situations, though the main character Greg isn’t really that nice of a kid. I think he deserves everything he gets.

Your Voice in My Head: A memoir by the British author and screenwriter Emma Forrest. Not always a huge fan of memoirs, but I liked this one because it was kind of written like a love letter to her psychiatrist. He died from cancer and she spends the book struggling to understand why he didn’t let anyone know of his illness. The book also focuses on her relationship with a movie star, which ended abruptly after six months and after he said he wanted to have a baby with her. He did a complete 180. Jerk.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
: I read this book three years ago and decided to re-read it after two friends remarked that Hunter High reminded them of this book, with respect to the adventure set-up. I can see; it follows the hero’s journey.