Books Read in 2011

Tessa's books-read-2011 book montage

Clockwork Angel
The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer

Books Read in 2011 »

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What's Up?

So, what are you guys doing these days? Working on a manuscript? Trying to get back into gear after Christmas? Just relaxing with a book?

University has started, so I'm spending a lot of time studying, but with it I'm working on getting an Icelandic book published. I kind of feel out of sorts, though, because I feel that I should be writing (and not waiting for the kid-betas to finish reading). It's just that I'm so excited about this project that I find it hard to put it aside and dive back into my YA novel. 

It's not like I've been doing nothing in January, though. I did polish the Icelandic MG manuscript, and I have a schedule I'm sticking to. It's a darn good novel, might I add, so I have a good feeling about this one. 

Going back to my YA manuscript looks so daunting. I just need to do what Rachael Harrie advised: Take it in sections. Smaller parts are always more manageable.

Is everyone else being super active in their writing? 

Oh! And don't forget to enter the Trilogy Contest for some awesome prizes! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Favourite Food Challenge

I'm taking English Composition this semester, which is academic writing. Only I'm thrilled to learn that we're supposed to use a bit of showing in our texts. For this week, I'm supposed to write a short, descriptive paragraph of how my favourite food tastes like. I'm not allowed to say what it is.

So! I'm turning this into a challenge. Write a short paragraph to describe HOW your favourite food tastes like, using some or all of your senses.

My favourite food fuses my taste buds with sweet, rich flavour almost before it passes my lips. My mouth waters with the thick, smooth texture as my teeth crunch against the hard surface and my tongue smoothes the shattered fragments, creaming them against the top of my gum.

Okay, so this can be a double-meaning thingy, but I swear it's food. Can you guess what it is? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Dudes! Did you know about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

*Pokes Rachael and Marieke who have darn good manuscripts ready.*

Here's the excerpt from Amazon's site:, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce the fourth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition seeking the next popular novel. The competition will once again award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.
The Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. If you're an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular contest updates. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 24, 2011 and run through February 6, 2011.

Isn't that an amazing opportunity? I'm sure the winners won't have any trouble finding an agent after they have a promise of publication already. You'll need to be fast, though, because they stop accepting pitches after 5,000 entries for each of the two categories (so it'll probably be filled up before the end of January). 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hunger Games Rant

WARNING: This post contains spoilers of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games

I finished reading The Hunger Games last Friday, which means roughly 1400 pages read in five days - not bad for a mother of toddler twins! I was hooked from page one up until I had maybe 10% of book three left, those I read those 10% fast, too. Seriously, I lost one and a half kilos, because I wasn't snacking while reading and it helped me get over my chocolate addiction.

I don't know where to begin praising these books. The writing is so perfect, the voice, the tense, the action. There was never a dull moment. The first book will always been my favourite, though the others were great as well. It sort of annoyed me in book two that she kept blaming herself for the deaths of people. It's just that Katniss had been so level- and logical minded throughout that it seems like she should have been able to see that those deaths weren't her fault. It was President Snow who put them in the circle and had them fight it out; it was the man in District 11's choice to salute her, which got him killed; it was Coin's plot to put Katniss in a mockingjay suit and have her be a hero of the people. It wasn't even her fault that people started to feel rebellious when she put those poisoned berries in her mouth at the end of book one, because all she was thinking about at the time was to save Peeta. She even reflects on that later, but still she doesn't recognize the fact that none of those deaths were her fault. All Katniss was ever doing when she did those "rebel acts" was saving others or being sincere (in District 11). 
Fan art by
Which brings me to book three. I was captivated, just like with the other two, but it really annoyed me that she kept blaming herself. It also annoyed me to death that she never gave Gale a chance. Yes, I was aboard the Gale/Katniss ship from the first pages, and I hated how Katniss always dismissed him. There were clues, though, in the second and third books that they wouldn't end up together: his lack of responses when he should have been angry when she kissed Peeta in front of him; his lack of being there when she needed him the most; her general lack of interest. But come on, it would have been perfect to have them end up together. Her reaction to seeing him flogged was a promise that he was the one she loved and would end up with! A promise that wasn't fulfilled. They started in the forest and should have ended in the forest. They had history, they cared for one another, they were both responsible, and he even had a cute nickname for her. I'll explain later how I think the series should have ended.
Fan art by Apricotteacup
Peeta. Okay, he's the boy with the bread and "pita" is bread (pronounced the same way). Still, I don't like it as a name. But that's not all. I never cared much for him. That utter self-sacrifice act of his is just too fictional. It's human nature to want to survive, but his attitude was somewhere along time lines "nah, you go ahead and live - I don't really mind dying, even though I have family at home who would miss me." The fact that Katniss had never spoken to him before the reaping makes the fact that he's completely in love with her more than a little iffy. He didn't even know her. He just seemed like a weak character, completely useless in both games and not caring, it seemed, that she hurt him over and over by being dismissive and "choosing" Gale in book two. He was hurt at the end of book one, but that was it. He forgave her for everything, before and after.
Fan art by EmpressFunk
Now, the ending. The way I see it, there was no need for that last scene of battle where Prim was blown up and Katniss dove into mental breakdown. There was no need to kill President Coin. It seems to have been done just to add a gasp-factor and to make the ending bitter-semisweet, making Katniss choose Peeta just because he was there when Gale had (finally) given up on her for her continuous disrespect of him. Still, if Gale had been there at the end, she could have chosen him. I mean, she didn't know if she loved Peeta or not by the end of the war, so why not?

Fan art by ILUVsnake
Collins probably wrote the killing Prim-scene to show that President Coin was no different from President Snow, but I already had that impression. I think it would have been perfect if Katniss had managed to sneak into the mansion, killed Snow, staged an explosion where she and Gale "died", and then run off with Gale to live in the woods. The two of them could make it there, you know. Katniss wouldn't want to show her face to Panem anymore and she wouldn't have to. The bitter-sweet ending would be that now that Coin has taken over, not much has changed. Prim could have voiced her wishes to work in the Capitol's hospital if they won the war, which is how Katniss would have realized that she wouldn't see much of Prim anyway and she wouldn't have to take care of Prim anymore. This is how I thought it would end, and in my mind, this is the perfect ending. It would even make it possible to create a new series based on this one, if the author cared for it.

Fan art by Kara-Lija
And Peeta? Well, wasn't Delly perfect for him? Her taking care of Peeta in District 13 didn't make Katniss jealous (which says a lot - namely that she didn't have those sort of feelings for Peeta), so it seriously looked like that's where that was heading in book three and it looked like the perfect solution to the triangle mess. 

Hookay, rant over! Even though those were the disappointing issues with the books, the pluses outweigh the minuses by far. I absolutely loved everything else. The districts, the games, the characters, the living in District 12. These series have been placed amongst the top series in my mind. Definitely the best dystopia series I've read. I wonder how Collins came up with the concept. It's just brilliant. Even though the ending and Peeta leave a bitter taste in my mouth, I still give these series as a whole five stars out of five. I borrowed them at the library, but I'm going to invest in a copy of each, since I'll be reading these books over and over - hopefully until I'm in love with Peeta (yeah, right!).

Oh, and by the way, Finnik dying...what was the point of that?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hunger Games and a Contest Reminder

Phew, I just found the Hunger Games books at the library and I devoured the first one already. And the half of the next one too, actually. Amazing books with amazing writing. I normally don't like present tense prose, but Suzanne Collins does it so well that I don't even notice it. And honestly, I can't imagine these books written in any other way.

I suppose most books are written in either first person, past tense; or third person, past tense (yeah, I also needed to do the maths here when I read over this entry). The first person, present tense is something that's becoming more and more popular. It's good for fast paced, action packed books. It gives the reader the intense feeling that they're right there with the character. 

First person with a mix of past and present tense is also something I'm seeing more of. Like Charleine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series. She'll write most of it in past tense, but once in a while there'll be something in present tense, like when Sookie is stating a fact about herself. I kind of like this style.

What's your favourite to read and your favourite to write?

Just a simplified reminder of the Trilogy Contest:
You fill out this form to take part. You can get additional (for additional work) by filling out this form.

The requirements are that you need to follow my blog, Marieke's, and Rach's.

It's international and it's up to you how much work you want to put in the forms - just stating you're a follower to all three is enough to take part, but you can up your chances by blogging, tweeting, etc.

You'll get the chance to win one of the prizes:

3 x query or synopsis (max. 2 pages) critiques (winner's choice)

3 x first 300 words critiques

3 x first 3 pages critiques
3 x first 30 pages critiques

Across the Universe, by Beth Revis (from Rachael)
Mockingbirds, by Daisy Whitney (from Marieke)
Unearthly, by Cynthia Hand (from me)

3 x Amazon gift certificates of $30 each from the ones who reach 300 followers before the contest ends.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Trilogy Contest - Tremendous Prizes!

2010 was quite the year for us...

We started blogging
We made character sketches
We attended WriteOnCon
We outlined (or not)
We found each other as critique partners
We wrote and wrote and wrote
We ripped our WIPs to shreds and glued them back together

We blogged more
And we wrote

And we plotted!

You've all seen our teasers, the something that's coming from far away to shake up the blogosphere. Now, at long last, something is here. Something x 3. 

We're happy, excited, and thrilled to announce our Trilogy Contest. Your chance to win one of a gigantic stack of amazingly awesome prizes.

And here they are*:

3 x query or synopsis (max. 2 pages) critiques (winner's choice)
3 x first 300 words critiques
3 x first 3 pages critiques
3 x first 30 pages critiques

*For the picture book writers, Rach'll convert any of the above prizes into a picture book critique! And if you win a 30 page critique, she'll critique 3 of your picture book wips instead!!!

Rather have a book? We've thought about that too! If more than 50 people enter the Trilogy Contest, we'll share some of our favorites/dying to reads. 

So Marieke will give away a copy of... The Mockingbirds
I will give away a copy of... Unearthly
And Rach will give away a copy of... Across The Universe

To enter, you need to be a follower of each of Marieke, Rach's, and my blogs. You'll also need to fill out this form.

The Trilogy Contest will end on January 31 and winners will be randomly drawn and announced the following week (only one prize per person). We'll be giving extra entries to those who blog, tweet, or otherwise spread the word about the Contest. Just copy your links into the form (Of course, you can pop back anytime and fill out this bonus form to add extra points for additional blogs/tweets etc. But only after you filled in the original form, just so our heads won’t ‘splode with all the extra maths ;) ). 

'Cause you guys rock, there'll be an additional +10 entries for everyone who's a follower of all our blogs before January 11, so get in quick and follow along if you haven't already. And spread the word so your friends can have a chance as well.

Bet you thought we were finished. Well, we're not!!! We're throwing in a special bonus. For each of us that gets to 300 followers, we'll donate a $30 Amazon gift card to a random contest entrant who is also a follower of our blog. 

Is that fantastic or what! You may have noticed a little Trilogy theme here, more on that later...

For now, let the fun begin...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Interview: Rachael Harrie

I'm back from the holidays - a day late, to be exact, but the whole Christmas/New Year celebration is a big deal over here (it doesn't end until next Thursday). Things should go back to normal within the next days...or I hope they will.

I took an interview with the famous Rachael Harrie before Christmas, but decided to make it my first post of the new year! Who's Rachael Harrie? Remember the Platform-Building Crusade? Well, Rach was the mastermind behind it, rounding up a group of fellow writer-bloggers to befriend and get to know each other. There'll be another crusade in 2011!

When I first met Rach, she looked like this:

But then she looked like this:

Not much different, right?

A select few of you would also know her as this:

(Seriously, that bunny is even named :Rach: in our crit forum)

Anyway, I asked Pigmy-Puff Rach some (mostly) writing related questions:

Question 1 - If you had a million dollars, what would you spend it on? 
Ooh, that's a tough one. I really, really like choc-coated honeycomb (*chortles*). More seriously, I'd probably buy my dream house somewhere near the beach, take a few really good writing courses, upgrade my computer, and buy a room full of books to read when I wasn't writing. Oh, and I'd need a few people to help me around the house, so I could write full-time. Plus a bit of travel here and there. Research purposes, of course! 

(See? We writers always think about writing when we get questions like these. Marieke did too, in my last interview) 

Question 2 - What are you working on (genre, age group, main story plot - if it can be revealed)? 
My current WIP is a Young Adult Horror novel titled FROM THE OTHER SIDE. The logline is:

When seventeen-year-old Verity is murdered by the boy she loves, she becomes a ghost whose ability to burn her victims seems purpose-made for her mission of vengeance. However, the search for her killer and an increasing body-count stretch Verity’s sanity to the limits, and unless she finds a way to regain control more innocent people will die, including the one person with the power to save her from herself. 

(I'm reading this draft and I can tell you, people, it WILL be published some day soon!) 

Question 3 - What do you eat/drink while writing? 
I try not to eat while I'm writing. I find it distracts me and I also tend to eat too much if I'm not paying attention! I usually make myself a cup of tea when I sit down to write, but other than that I just drink water. A bit boring much? 

(Nah, not boring. When I wrote my first draft of BoB, I ate chocolate each day. I even brought out popcorn for the really exciting parts of the story. It didn't do me much good, though having the popcorn might have popped-things up a little . I just drink water today - club soda, mostly) 

Is there anything else you'd like to add?  Yep, I hear there’s a massive contest and some awesomely amazing giveaways coming soon. If you want a head start check back on Tuesday, January 4 to find out how you can collect your first points ;)

Really? Well that should be interesting!

Thank you, Rachael for this. Marieke interviewed me and put it up on her blog yesterday. Check it out of you're curious about moi, or Marieke, who is awesome as well (as Rachael! You thought I meant me, right?).