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  1. So You Want To Be A Writer?

    April 18, 2013 by Kiersi

    Girl writing in her journal

    Photo by Erin Kohlenberg - Flickr, Creative Commons

    I’ve been writing “full time” since November 2011. I teach online classes and write marketing copy to make ends meet. When I’m not busy making enough money to live, I write. (And rewrite, and revise, and edit, blah blah blah.)

    Over the course of this journey, with my first book coming out in August, I’ve discovered a few things I wish I could have told myself years ago. Not even just when I left my job in 2011 to go freelance–but back in 2010 when I wrote the first draft of my “grown up” novel. Back in high school when I decided I wanted to write for life. Back in middle school when I cranked out stupid amounts of fan fiction (not even kidding–500,000 words in total). People liked my stuff and I thought I was set.

    What I wish I could have told myself back then?

    1. It’s going to be really hard.

    Everything about publishing is hard. Writing a draft is hard. Getting feedback (and learning to really listen to it) is hard. Finding an agent is hard. Wooing a publisher is hard. Going to conferences and meeting people and putting yourself out there is hard. (more…)

  2. Vacation Fix, and The Night Circus

    February 28, 2013 by Kiersi

    I found this hilarious Pulp Magazine Cover Generator via children’s author Nathan Bransford. And I think “She wrote until HER FINGERS FELL OFF” is very relevant to today’s post.

    The blog has been radio silent because I went on vacation. As in, I peeled myself away from the computer, left the manuscript print-out I’ve been slaving over lying prone on the ottoman with slightly curling corners, and got the hell out of Dodge.

    It was a while ago when my Significant Other said, “Whoa, Kiersi, you need to take a day off.”

    And I was all, “Sure, I’ll take tomorrow off.” And then it would sort of half-happen. There were deadlines to meet, manuscripts to revise, new ideas and concepts to lay out in Scrivener. Too many things to do to take a day off. (more…)

  3. Crown of Embers is a Worthy Sequel

    February 13, 2013 by Kiersi

    The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson

    The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson

    This series gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    The Crown of Embers, by Rae Carson – I need to just get something off my chest before we start this review: Rae Carson knows how to write. When she sits down at her keyboard, do birds start singing? Do little deer come out of the woods and press their shiny black noses to her window? Do squirrels knit her a new dress every morning out of moss and bramble?

    Anyway, my point is that The Crown of Embers is a very worthy follow-up to Girl of Fire and Thorns (I am shocked and a little horrified to not have reviewed it, but if you have not read it, simply be content to know it is amazing and that you should definitely read it). Elisa, our overweight princess from the previous novel, has trimmed down some through her adventures across the desert and, due to circumstances, is now queen of the realm. Not only that, but she’s developing some… feelings, for a particular captain of the guard. (more…)

  4. The Curse Workers Trilogy, by Holly Black

    January 24, 2013 by Kiersi

    Curse Workers (White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart) by Holly Black

    This series gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    The Curse Workers, a trilogy by Holly Black – A preface note: I listened to all of these on audiobook, so any name misspellings are purely Holly’s fault for giving all of her characters homonyms for names (Cassel = Castle, Barron = Baron). For the longest time I was actually spelling “Cassel” as “Castle” in my head, and let me tell you, that is way more awesome.

    Anyhow, I loved Curse Workers. The idea is brilliant. Cassel Sharpe lives in an alternate Earth, where one in every one thousand people has a special ability–these “workers,” as they’re called, can place a curse with no more than the touch of a bare hand. Workers come in all kinds, from small-time luck workers (good or bad luck), to emotion or memory workers, to death workers who can kill just by removing a glove. (Like magic in most books, there are repercussions to “working,” called “blowback,” which is always related in some way to the type of curse-working. Oh, yeah. This is definitely my favorite alternate universe ever.)  (more…)

  5. The Princess Fantasy (or Delusion)

    January 21, 2013 by Kiersi

    The Princess Fantasy:
    Are Authors Responsible For The Messages They Send About Love and Life?

    What is “the princess fantasy”? 

    This opinion piece might be better titled, “the princess delusion,” because that’s really what it is that I want to talk about: a delusion. A notion that a girl is, above all else, destined to be with the perfect man; that there will be some magical spark when she meets him, that he will rescue her from everything that is wrong in her life, and they will instantly (usually on first sight) fall in love. Forever.

    The love interests in these “fantasies” are often alpha-males, or “princes,” who fulfill every desire (this is relative to the audience, of course). In young adult books, I find there are a few different kinds of princes to choose from: the bad boy, who is eventually reformed by the girl’s love (the “Beast”); the guy who is perfect from the start, loves the princess madly, and pursues her relentlessly, but has pretty disturbing or suspicious behaviors (the Edward Cullens of the group); the two-dimensional Prince Charming or Prince Philip; and a variety of other archetypes that are all, in some way, freakishly ideal. (more…)

  6. What Happens Next Stirs Things Up

    January 14, 2013 by Kiersi

    Cover of What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton

    What Happens Next, by Colleen Clayton

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton – It’s really hard to write good contemporary YA–and it’s even harder for me to like it. I mean this in the kindest possible way. Especially when addressing the big issues like rape and eating disorders, it’s easy for authors to preach. It’s easy for their characters, as a result, to sound flat or forced; but Clayton effortlessly dodges the trap.

    Cassidy “Sid” Murphy is a straight-A cheerleader–until she meets a handsome stranger on a school ski trip. That night, Dax Windsor invites her inside, and afterwards, she can remember nothing; but she knows Dax has taken something from her. Something she can never get back. (more…)

  7. “New Adult” Books: Haters Gonna Hate

    January 1, 2013 by Kiersi

    Some actual New Adult books. Notice the absence of Harry Potter, Twilight or Fifty Shades.

    The Emerging New Adult Genre and Why CNN Hates It

    I’m not going to write an article about “New Adult” books, or what the “New Adult” genre includes, or even the debate over whether this term should actually exist. That’s a pretty boring discussion that I’ll let people like Liz Burns over at Tea Cozy bludgeon to death with a wall of text.

    What I do want to write about is the way the media has received the emergence of New Adult as a genre–and what has become an unwarranted, vitriolic attack on what real readers are reading.

    Jezebel is the worst offender. The first article published by Jezebel on New Adult came last month, titled “‘New Adult’ Is Now an Official Literary Genre Because Marketers Want Us To Buy Things.”

    It’s not that I don’t think marketing happens. Pixar’s Cars has action figures; Jelly Belly makes Harry Potter-themed jelly beans. But to claim an entire genre was “invented” by a skilled marketing department just to snare a narrow group of readers–I’m sorry, ma’am, but your logic is flawed. (more…)

  8. Days of Blood & Starlight is just a “middle”

    December 24, 2012 by Kiersi

    Days of Blood & Starlight, by Laini Taylor

    This book gets: ♥♥♥ out of 5

    Days of Blood & Starlight, by Laini Taylor – I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it so, so much–mostly due to the love affair I had with its precursor, Daughter of Smoke and Bone (tapped by Universal Studios for a motion picture). And that is, perhaps, part of my problem with it. High expectations. Unrealistically high expectations.

    In a lot of ways, I did like Days of Blood & Starlight. As ever, Taylor’s writing is (at least in prose) totally flawless–gorgeous, in fact. Unfortunately, this book suffered from, well… middleness. The whole novel feels like the soggy middle section of a much larger book. It reminds me of The Two Towers in Lord of the Rings, doing a lot of the necessary world-building, lore-weaving, or whatever that is, at the expense of plot and character.

    The story follows many different story strands that, for the first half of the book, only run parallel to each other and rarely cross. Karou spends a lot of time locked in a room, building bodies for Thiago, and surmising and ruminating and generally mulling over her dreary situation. It makes you long for the ray of sunshine timelines–cough, Zuzana, cough–and even for the snippets of war and bloodshed that sneak in.


  9. Meyer’s The Host a clean break from Twilight

    December 15, 2012 by Kiersi

    The Host, by Stephenie Meyer

    The Host, by Stephenie Meyer

    This book gets: ♥♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    The Host, by Stephenie Meyer – “Wait, wait, Kiersi is reviewing a Stephenie Meyer book, favorably?” You might ask, disbelieving. You might wonder, having seen my tweets about the disgusting co-dependent, abusive relationships glorified in Twilight, or about how Bella’s story is ultimately a tragedy, how this might come to be. What has happened to this predictable reviewer? What has been done with her?

    But I can assure you I am cognizant, that I have not been invaded by a very kind, reasonable alien, and my eyes are still a perfectly normal (perhaps not) shade of dark brown. And I can also assure you that The Host is a great book. (more…)

  10. Wreck-it Ralph: So, Disney’s Got Chops

    November 5, 2012 by Kiersi

    Wreck-it Ralph movie poster

    Wreck-it Ralph, Disney, Nov. 2

    This movie gets: ♥♥♥♥ out of 5

    Since Disney gave us “Tangled” in late 2010, my hope in the company and what kind of movies it was capable of making has been restored. Then again, John Lasseter of PIXAR served as a producer for “Wreck-it Ralph,” just as he did on “Tangled,” so perhaps it was the Disney acquisition of PIXAR that has allowed the languishing animation company to reboot.

    I can’t even quantify the number of hours I invested in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game (adapted for NES), so safe to say that “Wreck-it Ralph” struck a chord with me. Then again, everything about this movie’s premise is lovable: the clumsy cretin with a heart of gold, the cheesy-but-still-clever “Game Central Station” which seems to lurk somewhere in the surge protector, the badass “Hero’s Duty” squadron leader (Jane Lynch, of course) who is as hot as she is, well, a badass, and Fix-it Felix Jr., a clever amalgamation of Mario and Luigi, voiced by the dorky Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock fame. (more…)