Thank you, Julie, for this informative post. 🙂
All the Pretty Bones by Camela Thompson takes place in Seattle, Washington and though I’ve never been there, I felt the raw reality of this city due to Thompson’s vivid writing style, from the impoverished drug ridden areas to the gorgeous mini-castles of urban royalty. All the Pretty Bones spotlights Olivia Kardos, a young woman diagnosed with terminal cancer, who decides she will kill her stalker, Mark Porter, in order to live the remainder of her days in peace and safety.
Thompson shares in the acknowledgements’ portion of her book her own unfortunate experience of being stalked. Ironically, without this major event in her life, I wonder if she would have been able to capture all of the many emotions that come along with it. From my own personal experience, it rings frighteningly true and frustrating.
Not only is Thompson’s writing style vivid, but it is also flexible and fluid. When she’s writing in the POV of her main characters (Olivia, Lucian, Mark, Sean) along with a string of supporting characters, there’s no character mix-up because she did a phenomenal job at breathing life into them and making them feel real and sound distinct. Even though I didn’t like all of the characters at times, (especially Sean, Olivia’s former ex-boyfriend, noble cop, father, and flawed husband) only solidified how well she formed her characters and structure her plot around them.
While reading this page-turning book you will enter a world where vampires are kept secret for a reason and how some are hiding in plain sight. Although I don’t necessarily love vampires, (even though I do write about them) I appreciate the mythos behind the blood-sucking monsters that just won’t stay uninvited from the human psyche. While reading this book, you will encounter a dark underworld where other creatures stalk the earth to hunt and be hunted. As the story progresses, you will grow to love Olivia as she courageously takes matters into her own hands, gains allies, and a gorgeous love interest who is so much more than a mere mortal man. Yum.
Thompson’s created paranormal vampire world is also quite extensive and she includes a helpful legend in the back of the book, which is complete with subspecies and foreign language guide. But, even without this compendium guide, the series still possesses enough mystery, thus stimulating questions and uncertainties in my reader’s mind. One question in particular is which may be answered in the second book is **(potential spoiler alert)**: why was Mark (being what he was) not afraid of Olivia (being what she is)? Didn’t he sense beneath her exterior that she was quite capable of ripping his throat out, stalker or not, simply because he exist?
I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading the next. Well done, Camela.
adaratrosclair – What the heck is that? Huh? I don’t know where to even begin in pronouncing that! Is it two words? One?
So, a fellow writer and close friend of mine recommended that I change the name of my blog. I was a little sad and mildly offended because I had thought it was clever. You know, using the name of my latest, greatest favorite character from my latest, most favorite series that I’m investing a lot of time in:
“But,” I replied in a small, weak voice, “the name of the blog is described in the About this Blog part of the blog. Duuuuh!”
“Doesn’t matter,” my sage of a friend countered. “Few people will click on that. Your blog name needs to be catchy and clear. Why don’t you just use YOUR name?”
Good question. Why didn’t I? I think I was holding out using my name for an author page or something. I was probably have a Brain Bubble, which is far worse and damaging than any Brain Fart. My real name Monique L. Desir reads like the seductive sounding nome de plume of an author of romance or erotica, so when I tell you that Brain Bubbles are more detrimental than Brain Farts trust me, dearie. Trust me.
But look at Adara Trosclair (Uh-dah-ruh Trahs clear). It’s like a sigh of wind through a meadow of fragrant flowers!
I mean, it’s a unique name. It’s vaguely French. It’s strong, like well-tempered steel. It’s mysterious.
In fact, it’s so mysterious that no one knows what the heck it is when it’s presented like this: adaratrosclair.
I’m disappointed in my ignorance regarding blog names and such. My eyes were finally opened one day when the author of a blog that I visit often replied to a message I had made using my blog. He’s an intelligent young man who referred to me as “Clair”, which is the last part of the blog’s full name. No Adara. No Trosclair anywhere in sight.
And it’s all MY FAULT!
Excuse Alert: There’s a Japanese song I love called “Kodomo Mitai Ni” (by Pizzicato Five) which translates to “Like a Kid” and like a kid full of excitement and impatient to wait another five minutes of research to create my blog, I used the name of my character in “Prelude to Morning”, not realizing that it could be quite confusing.
Well, now that I’ve had time to reflect on the error of my ways, I plowed ahead and found some tips on choosing a blog domain name.
According to Chris’ Catchy Blog Names post (http://www.chrisg.com/catchy-blog-names/), let’s see how I measured up:
When choosing a domain name there are some factors to consider:
- How original and unique is it?
- Me: It’s definitely unique
- How descriptive is it?
- Me: Hmm. Not very. It’s just a character’s name.
- What image does it convey?
- Me: Uh-uh. None for the reader . . . yet.
- Would you remember it after seeing it once?
- Me: Probably not . . .
- Could you spell it after hearing it once?
- Nope. Most likely not. Adara’s surname is French and French men like their vowels like they like their women . . . plenty and in close succession, but silent. (Oh hahaha! Joke . . .)
I tried to change the name of my blog, but was unsuccessful so I’m stuck with it. Instead of pouting and brooding I’m going to be proactive and make the best of my mistake! Usually, I can be quite pessimistic and I try to lean more often than not to the side of realism. But for the sake of my blog with a strange name that few could pronounce or even figure out BEFORE this post, I’m going to be optimistic!
By the end of this post, you’ll remember Adara’s name! You’ll say it with finesse. You’ll sing it in the shower. You’ll chant her name as you drive in your car to work!
Her name will become legend! Her name will become one of the top ten for baby girls! She’ll sit as a hero of epic proportions in your minds!
Now, hold on just a minute, Monique. Please. Stop. Please.
Oh, hi there, Adara.
I don’t want to be worshipped and I most certainly don’t want my name to be given to little baby girls just because it becomes some popular fad or trend. I just want to be me and people to be themselves.
That’s understandable and honorable.
Thanks. Why don’t you let me take over and I can talk about Earth Day.
Oh, I almost forgot about that. Excuse me and I’ll let you get to it.
Thank you. Well, so now you know more about the name behind this blog. I don’t know how I became one of Monique’s favorite characters because I’m one of her newest ones. Maybe it’s the novelty of it? I’m not sure, but I won’t argue her out of it either. Today is April 22nd and in your world your people celebrate Earth Day in many countries. This special day started I think in 1970 and it focuses on opening up people’s minds to taking better care of their precious planet by doing little things like not littering, recycling, and other more substantial things like using a compost heap in their gardens every day.
Most citizens of Earth believe that Earth Day should be every day because they only have one planet and they best take care of it, otherwise it’s the Moon or Mars. On my home planet, called Reath (an anagram of Earth) in an alternate dimension, hundreds of years ago Earth Day was each and every day. But this form of planet dedication wasn’t ushered in by humans.
Terrible, thirsty entities hibernating (or imprisoned?) beneath the earth, that called themselves gods rose up and taught us wonderful advancements in technology. Unfortunately, these gifts didn’t come without a price. They explained to us that our planet was dying and dying quickly. They also told us that we were to blame. They told us that they needed our blood and in order to save not only our planet and ourselves, we’d have to use the most precious form of natural resource:
That’s all I can say right now because Monique is giving me “The Don’t-You-Dare” look and I don’t want to anger her or give too much away. After all, it’s my story and I want the best for it.
I’ll leave you with this: love your neighbors, no matter what gender or color they are; love your planet, love each other. And yes, every day should be Earth Day, but do it right.
Thank you, Adara, for sharing. Someday soon I hope that you, your world, your struggles, enemies, allies, and love interests will be shared with the world through Kindles, hardcover and softcover books. I’m currently in the process of sending out more agent letters. Already received a rejection letter and took it graciously. If I’m unsuccessful with the traditional route to publication, there’s always self-publishing, dear, so no frowns.
Happy Earth Day, everyone!
I have to think of something in order to be a part of this greatness! Eeeeek! XD
2016 will be the year of Rococoa with the release of the first anthology from ROARING LIONS PRODUCTIONS!
Time for those stories to be told, y’all! What say you authors? Are you in?
If so, Roaring Lions Productions is seeking completed stories between 2,000 and 10,000 words.
Writers will be paid $25.00 upon release of the anthology.
Each story will have an attached illustration, in addition to the stunning cover!
The deadline for submissions is August 31, 2015.
Release will be in e-book and paperback formats.
Here are the Submission Guidelines:
- Submissions must be set between the latter part of the Renaissance Period (1600s)…
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A nerd is defined as a person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept.
Nerdiness exists on a continuum. Some people are a little nerdy, while others are very nerdy. The more nerdy you are, the more oblivious of yourself as a social object you tend to be, which leads you to behave in socially awkward ways, such as dressing badly, or failing to take subtle hints.
The onset of nerdiness tends to come early in life and people often grow out of being nerds; rarely, if ever, does someone become a nerd later in life.
Because nerds are awkward and un-smooth, they tend to be rejected and isolated by peers; because it is emotionally painful to experience such marginalization, nerds tend to push themselves to be excellent in aspects of life that do…
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Violence, Sex, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears – Oh My!
The fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is one of my favorite fairy tales. I even enjoy modern day re-tellings of fairy tales and I can’t continue typing another word without sharing the Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times, written by James Finn Garner, where Goldilocks is described as a “melanin-impoverished young woman” and a “rogue scientist”. Excuse me while I chortle like a little piglet at this genius use of humor.
*Chortles like a little piglet*.
Now, back to business. This particular fairy tale is more than a good read that teaches a lot of moral doctrines:
- Little children should not trespass into someone’s territory
- You shouldn’t steal or meddle with something that doesn’t belong to you, and
- Intruders not only endanger themselves, (in versions where Goldilocks is Bear din-din) but also endanger the well-being and security of “the family”.
The fairy tale is also used to teach young children how to select books for their own independent reading.
Mama Bear books are cozy, comfortable, easy, and basically junk food reads (TOO SOFT!)
Papa Bear books are difficult, challenging reads that leaves the reader’s head spinning (TOO HARD!)
And Baby bear books? Well, say it with me, “They’re ju-uuuust right.” The reader can read each line with ease and if a challenging word or two pops up, the reader can dispatch them with a combo of wise reader strategies to decode the syllables with ease and carry on.
While rereading one of my dark fantasy drafts I wondered about the readability of my books. The prologue is bloody, violent, and gripping. I decided to use violence early on in the beginning because I wanted to show readers what was at stake for the main characters and their world early on. I realized that students as young as twelve could most likely read the words with little difficulty and comprehend them.
Regarding the content of a book, primarily the Naughty Three — violence, sex, and profanity — sometimes there’s either too much, too little, or just the right amount.
The use of violence, (and also the other taboos) I believe falls under the useful plot device of Chekov’s gun.
According to Mr. Wikipedia, Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle which requires that every element in a narrative be necessary and irreplaceable, and that everything else be removed. Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.
Thus, according to this technique, I comforted myself with the unbridled use of blood spilling violence, which appears on the tenth page of my dark fantasy/paranormal novel, “Forbidden” (will be out in May) and even earlier on page four of my dark fantasy/science fiction hybrid “Prelude to Morning”. The violence was not only relevant to the story, but necessary, and irreplaceable.
However, I still ask myself: “Would you feel comfortable having your oldest child read this?” At war with myself, I considered the Japanese animated shows he watches, such as “Attack on Titan” brimming with macabre, bloody violence where large, demonic-like giants roam the earth, hungry for humans, and popping them into their gaping maws with glee like I bite off the heads of Animal Crackers.
New Adult Genre
I also wonder, “What sets adult books apart from Young Adult Books? And is this new genre, New Adult, I’ve been hearing so much buzz about the bridge that spans the gap between Young Adult and Adult books?”
No, bridge isn’t a good analogy. It’s more like a doorway, a very loose doorway or gateway to taboos enjoyed by adults, like marijuana is the gateway to other illicit drugs.
If you do a Google or duckduckgo search of New Adult books or even a search via Goodreads.com, the covers of New Adult novels are quite . . . *ahem* saucy. No, saucy is putting it mildly. Or maybe I’m just a prude? Here, you be the judge:
(The prude in me chose a tiny, teeney-weeney photograph and the fact that I couldn’t figure out how to make it larger than a thumbnail . . .)
Want more? Click and investigate, you voyeur you!
In this post, I choose to show how there is a gross imbalance of sex, profanity, and violence or what I’d like to call the Goldilocks and the Three Bears Effect (GATBE) in the genres of Young Adult and New Adult fiction that fills me with dread and anxiety.
This will be a longer post, so please get cozy, and stay awhile.
Sex, Profanity, and Violence – Taboos R Us
Many may argue that sex, profanity, and violence are commonplace in videogames, music, music videos in our society, but I strongly believe that doesn’t make it right for children and teens to be exposed to it on a regular, daily basis, like the popping of vitamins or the changing of underwear.
The overuse of these taboos (for adults and especially children) implies that the adage, “Sex Sells” is true. Moreover, looking at the covers of magazines (movie stars and their latest sexually-charged plastic surgery investment), the latest movie trailer of the most recent best-selling book (cough cough Fifty Shades of cough cough) one would be led to believe that our country is like a New Rome, decadent, oversexed, and reveling in it! On a comical note, Gabriel Iglesias charmingly and accurately comments on the sexual presentation of commercials on Latin TV (starts at 1:08):
But does sex really and truly sell? Perhaps. And if so, should authors feel pressured to give into that tactic just to become and remain relevant in the oversaturated book marketplace? Also, should we allow it to have so much power at any cost that it cheapens the act and us as loving human beings?
I think not.
Several months ago, I took my Multicultural Club students on a field trip to SPIFFs. A hot pink sign sitting directly above the bus driver read: “The following radio stations won’t be played on an Astro Skate bus.” I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I assumed it was the musical content these banned stations played brimming with explicit lyrics of sex, drugs, and violence. Banning these stations, however, did not make any perceivable difference because the station the driver was “allowed” to play strung out songs that were just as inappropriate for the preteens I chaperoned.
For example, when the song with the repeating chorus “Don’t tell ‘Em” sung by blah blah in his sexually charged contralto voice, all of the little girls began singing along word for word. I found it disturbing.
As a child, I admit I was sheltered and would have remained a virgin until marriage (like my mum) if Madame Life hadn’t decided to remove her frilly, prissy gloves and backhand me with a tragedy (at age 18) I care not to share via Internet at this point in time. I was ridiculed and called a mutant (minus the ability to kill with my mind and stop bullets – darn it) for not engaging in sex, and an abnormality. And even though I was sheltered, I did experience crushes and all of those squishy, butterflies-in-my-stomachs feeling that adolescents experience then and now. Sex though didn’t preoccupy my every waking hour. I had other passions crooning for my attention: drawing, writing, reading, singing, and learning to speak Japanese.
And it seems as if the oversexualization of children is increasing with each passing year.
I find it sad that violence, sex, and all of those other “taboos” have slipped so easily (and seemingly without much of an outcry) into young adult books and I wonder where I, as a writer, teacher, and a parent, should draw the line?
Preteens and Teens Aren’t Naive
Some people argue that teenagers have sex, but just because they’re doing it doesn’t make it right or a good idea, especially if the sex is unprotected. I mean, I could run around with scissors while riding a bicycle.
But it’s not a good idea.
I could even fashion a bow and arrow with a plunger in place of the point in order to leap around like Link, from Legend of Zelda or LOTR’s Legolas and shank the baggy pants off of “kewl” teenagers from afar and escape unscathed.
But it’s not a good idea . . . wait a minute, maybe I . . . Nah.
Teenagers aren’t as naïve as we think, but they also have more class than we give them credit for. Often during independent reading my students will come to me and show me a book that has too much profanity in it. Or books that have scenes they feel uncomfortable reading. We discuss as a class if the book should be dismissed from our Classroom Library. For the most part, we don’t ban books, but we let other students know that this book may not be good for you, due to its content. And there are students who enjoy reading books riddled with gang battles, abusive parents, and bullies who are downright psychopathic. And with a proud smile they tell me: “This is nothing. I watch the Walking Dead!” For the most part, I’m proud of my students and how they know what works for them and have the ability and bravery to move on if something doesn’t.
Now, on a legal note, teenagers aren’t even allowed to watch porn. From my perspective, the reading of sex is equivalent to watching sex. However, depending upon how explicit the author’s writing is, the erotic images painted by a sex scene are capable of replaying over and over again like the words of a popular song in the reader’s mind again and again. The way I see it, reading sex is the same thing as watching sex, if not more explicit. Sex, as pleasurable as it can be, doesn’t need to be on the minds of any person, (regardless of age) at all times, especially young adults and teens.
Good Writing Sells
If sex sells, then why are the most popular YA books like Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games missing excessive amounts of sex and profanity? Because if the story is good enough and the characters are real enough then swearing and sex are not necessary. Instead, adding such spicy taboos only takes away from the book as a Ghost Chili pepper smacks the flavor of a good meal out of your mouth. Ask Adam of Man vs Food. 🙂
(Yes, I’m well aware that these exemplary titles include violence and I’ll get to that in a little while. Patience. Patience.)
IMHO Reasons Violence, Sex, and Profanity Should occur (on various GATTB levels) and only if necessary:
- It depends on the book because authors have an obligation to their readers and themselves to be consistent and true to the characters, setting, and plot of their multifaceted stories.
- Comfort Zone for the writer – Too Hot, Too Cold, or Just Right? What’s too hot for me, regarding the amount of sex, profanity, and/or violence may be just right for you. However, writers should be sensitive to the comfort zone of the audience they’re writing for. Again, think of the movie theater ratings and the age group of your audience . . .
- Does this particular (taboo) scene add to the plot? I recall reading a great book on writing page-turning scenes and the author (whose name eludes me) repeatedly stated that if the scene doesn’t advance the plot, stake it, cut off its head, and burn it, burn it, burn it! Well, not in those exact words, but you get the point. Talented writers must cut out weak scenes that are basically fluff and filler in the grand scope of a great story. So, any scene that includes violence or sex should either alter the plot or the characters in some way, whether it be for better or worse.
Where I Stand
Based on my comfort zone as a writer, mother, and teacher, I hope my students wait to read my more violent books that may or may not be laced with racy sex scenes, and riddled with naughty swear words. To date, I’ve begged them to postpone reading my “older” books until they’re at least fourteen and let their parents dip their toes in the water first if they so choose. And when these kiddos are much older, I hope they enjoy my books as they age into adults and become lifelong supporters of my literary worlds. Why do I hope kids will wait until they’re a little older?
Because I respect and want to protect their innocence, their hearts, and souls in a world where purity is increasingly growing scarce and the numbers of those willing to protect it are rapidly decreasing. I think that YA, and especially MG books should keep in mind the innocence of their audience.
And who knows . . . perhaps, such practices may ensure the future of mature, dedicated readers to come and stay.
Comments are always welcome and appreciated.
The movie Kingsman: The Secret Service movie trailer promises a lot of what I look for in a movie and motivates me to find a babysitter, maybe purchase high-priced popcorn, and sit in the dark with strangers for a couple of hours. It has action, adventure, comedy, and British accents. It has beautifully choreographed fight scenes reminiscent of The Matrix and with a dash of James Bond swagger. It also features the underdog trope where an unrefined young man is recruited to join the secret service and save the world!
*Wipes fan-girl-drool off of chin*
Movie trailers or teasers, as they are also rightfully called, tease viewers into wanting to see the movie. The purposefully selected music—often filled with thrilling, emotional, and powerful chords—the well thought-out scenes plucked from the movie, and artfully placed in this two to three minute snippet entice viewers and movie aficionados to smile from ear-to-ear and vow, “I must see this movie.”
For readers, the blurbs on the back of a book provide the same experience as a movie trailer for viewers.
I love reading and it tickles me bright pink when my students (who are more than not reluctant readers) gawk at me with such astonishment, as if I have sprouted a second head or grew a third eye, while I gush about my latest favorite book. Books that possess the ability to transport me to another world, another time, or even another dimension and hold onto me until the very last sentence. These reading experiences often motivate me to become a better writer. A couple days ago, each of my classes participated in what is called a “Library Book Pass”. Basically, the teacher and/or students select books from the classroom library, based on the eye-catching cover, genre, and their Lexile score (an individual’s reading ability measured in number). With a book in hand, we sit in a rectangle or circle, and read the book for 3 minutes (starting with the blurb first) and then make comments about the book. Comments vary from person to person and can reveal our likes, dislikes, whether we recommend the book, if it’s too long or too short, and much, much more all within three minutes!
Within three minutes, my students, (which are the future buying readers of the present and future) passed on a book because:
- It didn’t engage them.
- Slow start. No action.
- The characters were boring.
- The beginning or opening scene was confusing.
- Not enough details.
- The genre itself didn’t appeal to them.
As a writer, I found these observations interesting and quite telling. Readers can be quick to judge a book just by the cover and/or the blurb on the back. A crappy cover can kill the life of a book. And a blurb riddled with weaknesses is just as lethal. And whether the cover appeals to their senses, a reader can decide whether or not to rush to the checkout counter and purchase your literary darling . . . or not. Come to think of it, I wonder how much time readers strolling around a brick and mortar bookstore, or scrolling pages on Amazon spend on eligible books before they buy or move on. I highly doubt most customers spend three or more minutes dedicated to a book BEFORE they buy it. The decision to buy or abandon a book takes place sometimes much faster! Writing from personal experience, I’ve decided to buy a book within seconds.
Me: Oooh, pretty cover. Ooh, interesting premise. *Rushes to checkout counter, erstwhile pushing stroller, digs in wallet, pays the monie$* DONE DEAL!
If the book cover is the most important seller of a book, then the blurb is the second most important!
And don’t even get me started on blurbs. For the past two weeks, I‘ve been drafting, revising, editing, and re-drafting the blurbs for several of my manuscripts. One, soon to be published, and two I hope to send out to agents. It’s funny how the blurb is much, much harder to write in comparison to the daunting 100,000 manuscript itself.
Now, why is that?
Sit down. This may take a while.
Well, a blurb is a short summary or a promotional piece accompanying a creative work. The closer I move toward my goal of being a published author, the more I realize that a blurb and a synopsis have a lot in common (except the way they sound. A synopsis sounds like some strange heinous and contagious disease, while a blurb sounds like two goldfish sharing a chaste kiss, but I digress – thanks for your patience).
Both the short synopsis and the blurb tell a summary of a novel, entice the reader into wanting to read more . . . and buy that book! However, a blurb does NOT reveal the ending of the book, whereas a synopsis includes the entire story – beginning, middle, and the spoiler ending! Synopsis are also used to showcase your writing style, organization, and invite an agent and/or publisher to want your book.
Another reason the blurb and synopsis are harder to write is because the manuscript must be compressed and condensed to its most essential parts, like grapes pressed into fine wine. And the longer wine sits and ages, the better it will taste. Hopefully.
So, after writing the blurb, I didn’t revisit it for a couple of days, which stretched into a week. I wanted it fresh in my mind so that way any weakness would stand out more starkly and slap me in the face. I wanted the best for the back of my book, so that way readers would want to take it home, hug it, squeeze it, and call it “Fabulous”.
So, a technique I’ve used to write the blurb for my books is using the synopsis as a starting point and then moving backwards. Deleting the ending and any ideas in the book that reveal too much gets backspaced too. Why? Because with a blurb less is often much, much more, and will invite the reader to want to spend some time in one of my many literary worlds.
It’s amazing what I learn from my wonderful middle school students in the midst of a good old Library Book Pass. Cheers!