Monday, February 25, 2013

Recharge: Day 1

If you're anything like me, then January and February are hard months for writing. I'm usually researching or planning at this time, and it's easy to feel stuck. Plus, short days with cold weather do not make for a happy Liz. Sara Biren over at Crow River Writer had this brilliant idea of hosting a mini writer's retreat. I'm in love with the idea, so I'm participating.

And we're kicking it off with an icebreaker!

What is your name: Liz Parker

What do you write: YA fiction--mostly fantasy

How long have you been writing: Novels since 2009, all other assortment of goodies for many years.

What location have you chosen for your retreat: Red Lodge, Montana. I went to Montana as a senior trip in high school with 13 of my closest friends. We stayed in this beautiful lodge that was remote and perfect and everything I want in a writing retreat right now. I still remember on our last night how hard it rained (storms are a huge inspiration for me), and when it was done there was a moon bow.

How did you come up with the idea or find information for your current WIP: I had a dream of this girl running through the woods during a war. She was fast. She had some powers. My imagination took it from there. I wrote a very rough first draft during NaNoWriMo 2012, and after spending January researching and February working up an R&R outline, I'm back to writing! Perfect time for a retreat.

This is the brief synopsis from November:

Sixteen-year-old Danielle Claiborne didn’t want to have anything to do with the war between the states. But when Nashville is taken by Union soldiers, the war comes to Danielle. It doesn’t take the invaders long to discover Danielle’s secret: She has the Sight, the ability to draw on the power of the stars. And that makes her a weapon, one the Union wants to wield.

When the Union offers her mother and her home protection, Danielle agrees to give up the life she knew to become Danny Clemmons, a Seer for the Federals.

I'll dive into the writing exercises at lunch.

Are you participating in Recharge: Winter Writing Retreat? Leave a link in the comments!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Writing Update: R&R Outline Complete

This month has been a whirlwind. Remember how in January we were all posting about goals for the year and hopes for our writing? I only had two real goals: finish my research in January, finish my revise and rewrite outline in February--everything else would follow.

Early outline color-coded by POV

I'm excited to announce that after long days and nights filled with coffee, inspirational moments caught where I can find them, and a lot of color coding, I've completed the second goal.

Inspirational moment involving a shower and a crayon

And now I've come upon that place of fear and waiting. You know--when you've finished something huge and momentous and then you're hit with the daunting reality that you're yet to make any progress on the next stage--that sure, you've succeeded with one step, but what if you royally mess up the next one? But at the same time you're filled with a twisted sense of masochism excitement because you can finally start writing again.

Final outline--first half on left, second on right

That's where I am.

So to those of you who know exactly the feeling I'm talking about, I wish you the best wherever you are on your current project. Now to wrap my head around rediscovering these characters.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Badass Books: Scarlet

As you probably know by now, I love Marissa Meyer and her wonderful, wonderful stories. I attended a book signing in Nashville (the first stop on her Scarlet tour!) and, of course, picked up a signed copy of Scarlet. And now I want to tell you about it.

Summary (from Marissa’s website)

Why I read it: That whole loving Marissa Meyer’s stories thing? Yeah, that. I adored Cinder, and I wanted more. I wanted to know what would happen to her and to the prince and to Iko (Cinder’s family’s android)! Really, it was all about Iko. I <3 Iko. But I digress.

There was a lot of initial worry from readers and lovers of Cinder that Scarlet couldn’t measure up. I mean, it introduced a new protagonist. It was named after that protagonist! What about Cinder? And Kai? And Iko?

But I wasn’t worried. I love me some fairy tale reimaginings. And the reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood? This may be the best one I’ve ever read.

ZOMG Yes! Like I said, excellent reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood. Marissa did a great job of weaving elements from that story into these two wonderful characters—Scarlet and Wolf—while keeping the story interesting. I had hopes and thoughts and guesses about how things would turn out (after all, Marissa told us to beware of the wolf during the signing!), and I was definitely happy impressed with her story telling.

Onto the specifics!

One of the moments I got the most excited about, is really a huge spoiler. SPOILER: Eeeee Iko is back! And she’s got new digs. And I love how she handles them. Next, I loved the introduction of Thorne and the whole Firefly feel to all of the Cinder/Thorne scenes. (Thorne being another new character I fell in love with--inspired by Han Solo and Mal Reynolds! Yes, please).

And of course, how could I not love another kick ass female protagonist? Loved Scarlet. Loved the red hoodie. Loved it all. There isn't one thing about this story that I would change.

Kthxbai If you like fairy tales and you like science fiction, definitely pick up Scarlet. If you haven’t read Cinder, read that one first! I’m excited for the last two parts in this series—particularly the last one since Marissa described Winter (Snow White) as a little bit crazy (think River from Firefly).

ALL THE CHIWEENIES to Scarlet and Cinder and Iko and Thorne and Wolf and Kai. And five to Marissa Meyer.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Badass Books: Asunder

Let me start by swooning. I've been waiting for Asunder since I devoured Incarnate in one sitting about this time last year. I loved Incarnate so much, I jumped on board with the street team for Asunder. And, of course, I pre-ordered it so that it would arrive on my Kindle and I could start right way.

Summary (From Jodi Meadows' website)

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

Spoilers in white.

Why I read it: Incarnate--the first book in the New Soul series--came out last year. As you may remember, I fell in love with it. Ana's growth as a character, the world building, and most of all the beautiful, beautiful prose. When I finished it, I wanted to know more. I was curious to see where Jodi would take the story--how she would build the romance, how she would continue to grow Ana. I was not disappointed.

ZOMG Yes: The most exciting part of this story for me (other than the kissing--the kissing is so good and so everywhere and so...sorry, swooning again) was the focus it put on the Sylph. For those of you who haven't read Incarnate, Sylph are these dark creatures that burn you if they touch you. They're pretty much feared by everyone in Heart. In the spirit of a lover of fantasy, I wanted to learn more. And I did. But my favorite thing? Spoiler: She didn't actually tell us what the Sylph were. She left us with this little gem of a mystery to mull over until the next book comes out.

While Asunder was obviously a part of the New Soul series, it stands alone. I always worry when reading a series that the second book just isn't going to be as good as the first. I especially worry about this with a trilogy--that the middle book will just be filler. Not the case with Asunder, it was just as wonderful as Incarnate, maybe even better.

I love the romance in this story, in case you couldn't tell. And I love that Jodi always leaves it with somewhere to go. It never feels forced or too fast or too slow. It's just right. And with the way both Ana and Sam love music, something in me wonders if Ana wasn't supposed to end up with Sam--if they were soul mates kept apart by reincarnation.

Speaking of reincarnation...Spoiler (HUGE spoiler. Like, much bigger than the last): The whole inside the temple seen at the end? Creepy as hell but also awesome. I never, ever expected that the people of Heart knew about the whole devouring thing (still trying to not be too spoilery in case you couldn't stop yourself from highlighting). But my favorite thing about this, is that when Ana discovers the truth, it doesn't destroy her love for Sam or for her friends.

Kthxbai: This book was beautiful, and well worth the read. If you haven't read Incarnate, you really should. Especially if you like kissing. Oh, my. The kissing.

I'm excited to see where Jodi goes with the third book--what new secrets she has to reveal, what climax she has in mind (totally didn't see the Asunder climax coming). I'm really interested in watching Stef grow as a character, perhaps more than anything else (other than the Sylph thing I mentioned earlier).

Five chiweenies to Jodi Meadows.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cashing In: My First Book Signing

Cashing in what? My book signing V-card. It will forever belong to Marissa Meyer. (If you don't know who Marissa Meyer is, I may have to reconsider our friendship--but as a quick refresher, she's the author of Cinder and Scarlet.)

She did a lovely book signing and talk at Parnassus Books, a Nashville book store owned by author Ann Patchett because apparently Macmillan did a Facebook contest inviting followers to vote for a city where they would host an event. Nashville won, and we got the first stop on Marissa's Scarlet tour.

I loved Cinder. Loved it. So good. I loved it so much, I bought a print copy (since my original copy is on my Kindle) so that Marissa could sign it. If you like science fiction and you like fairy tales and you haven't read Cinder: Go read it now. It will change your life. Guess what I learned tonight?

I like Marissa Meyer just as much as her book.

Me and Marissa Meyer (in case you thought I was making this whole thing up)

You know sometimes you read about an author and it can ruin a story for you? Marissa is just as completely awesome as I thought/hoped she would be (and she had these really awesome lace tights that I should have asked about).

The lace tights aren't even half of it. She talked about her Sailor Moon fan fiction, told her publishing story, gave us a brief lesson on fairy tales, and answered the question I wanted to know about Cinder. SPOILER: Why did she reveal Princess Selene's identity?And what's more? She told us there's a character in Scarlet who was inspired by Han Solo and Mal Reynolds. Any author who cites Han Solo and Mal Reynolds as inspiration has just guaranteed that I will read every book they write ever. Well played, Marissa.

She set the bar high for me as far as book signings go.

Oh, and did I mention new books? And swag? And cute book personalizations?

Evidence of books, swag, cute personalizations.

Monday, February 4, 2013


You know that feeling when you've dived in really deep to a pool or lake or some other large body of water, and you're swimming up? You're looking for the surface. You know it's there, but for whatever reason you can't see it. Your lungs feel like they're about to burst. Then, right at the end, you break water. That was what welcoming February felt like for me.

January is always a hard month. It's not just coming back to work after the holidays or scraping ice off my car window every morning. One of my client's has their biggest trade show of the year in January, and that's a lot of work.

Usually I get through it by carving out time to write. But remember how I've been doing research? (And if you're on Instagram, you probably couldn't forget). Yeah, not much real writing until the last week or so of the month--when I was writing down character back story.

The good news? Research is complete. Today, I'll begin going through my November draft and making a revision checklist--or more realistically a rewrite checklist. My goal is to have an updated outline complete by the end of the month.

Things that kept me sane this month: The Fault in Our Stars and Asunder. I'll have a review of Asunder up later this week, hopefully before RTW's best book of the month.

To wrap up: If it feels like I've been absent, it's because I have been. I've been trying to keep up with your blogs, and hopefully I'll do a better job this month.

What about you? Any big successes in January? Plans for February? Favorite books last month?