A Manuscript Transformed

Someone once told me that the first book any author writes will wind up at the bottom of his or her desk, never to see the light of day, or a least not the inside of professional bindings. I was determined to prove that theory wrong. I spent three and a half years after graduating from college writing, editing, editing, editing, editing and editing my first novel. In those years, I managed to cut the book down from 138,000 words to 88,000 words – that’s 50,000 extraneous, useless, absolutely unnecessary words. The story was tight, just the way I’d hoped it would be at the end. I even started sending out my query letter to about seven or eight different agents (no bites, but I’m glad). Then I started to rethink it. This wasn’t going to sell. It wasn’t “up with the times.” It wasn’t even the genre I liked to read any more. So I made a decision, one that would ultimately make or break me as an author, and one that would undoubtedly set my life back a couple of years. I decided to lock my first book in a drawer, figuratively speaking, of course.

I wasn’t quite ready to give up on the world I’d created, so I wound up making extensive alterations to the original book. I changed the genre from magical to dystopian, the audience from  middle grade to teen, the perspective from third person to first person, and I ripped the entire plot to shreds. Most of the characters are still the same, and the setting is only altered due to the new plot restrictions. But now it is a brand new, much much better book. I can’t wait to finish it, not just to publish it, but also to read it myself 🙂

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children :: Peculiar…in a Good Way

Ever since Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children first hit stores, I’ve been dying to read it. The book is based around a collection of creepy old photos, many of which depict children with preternatural abilities. I read a lot of reviews on this book prior to reading it, and they weren’t all positive. I’m a little confused about this because I thought the story was fantastic. The old photos were a nice touch, but  the story itself was solid and written well for a teen audience. I wouldn’t call the book scary. Creepy, perhaps, but more adventurous than anything.

The story follows Jacob, who’s been listening to his grandfather’s far-fetched stories for years – tales of his so-called “friends” who are a little more than human. He even has the photos to prove it. But Jacob and his parents have always assumed his stories were just that – stories – until he became more certain of their authenticity in his old age. Jacob’s parents chalked it down to senility and dementia.

One day, his grandfather calls Jacob, insisting that the monsters are coming for him. When Jacob shows up at his house and discovers his shredded corpse, he gains a new perspective on everything his grandfather told him. Maybe he was telling the truth all along.

While recovering from his grandfather’s death with rest and therapy, Jacob discovers an old letter written to his grandfather from Miss Peregrine. Jacob decides to follow the clues whispered to him during the last moments of his grandfather’s life. He and his dad travel halfway across the world to a remote island where Miss Peregrine and her children are rumoured to live.

Jacob investigates the island, only to come across an old, decrepit house, half of it bombed to bits, the other half fallen to ruin. While searching the rotting house, Jacob encounters the very kids from his grandfather’s photos – kids who haven’t grown a day in all these years. One girl unwittingly leads him into the loop – a day trapped in time like Groundhog Day. It’s an early September day in 1940, the day before the house would be bombed and the children killed. All of the miraculous kids, along with Miss Peregrine, are destined to repeat the same day for the rest of their lives.

Jacob connects with these kids better than anyone else in his life. He’s torn between the decision to stay with his new friends or go back to his normal friendless life. But when a mysterious stranger arrives on the island, threatening the lives of all the children and their caretaker, Jacob realizes that a normal life is no longer an option.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern :: Indescribably Different

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has been the talk of the town for the past few months. No surprise, with such a deliciously quirky cover. But it’s strange. Every time I ask somone who’s read it to describe the plot, I’m met with blank, dreamy stares. Not one person could get beyond, “well, it’s about a circus that only comes at night (wow, really?), and, I don’t know, it’s hard to describe. But you should definitely read it.” So finally, I amazoned a copy right to my door. And I must say, I get it now.
How do you describe this indescribable book? I’ve spent the last half hour writing summary after summary, but I can’t quite nail it down. Nothing I write can capture the magic, mystery and ellusiveness of this novel. It’s just something you have to read for yourself. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. Is it the best book I’ve ever read? No. But it’s the kind of book that you can’t compare to others. It doesn’t belong on the same rating scale. If you’ve read it, you probably understand where I’m coming from.

iBoy – Not Your Average Superhero

I realize that I haven’t posted a blog since the summer. It’s mostly because I haven’t read a book worth blogging about until last week, which was iBoy by Kevin Brooks. It’s about a teenage boy who suffers a head injury when an iPhone is thrown from a high-rise apartment building. Small pieces of the iPhone are lodged into sensitive parts of his brain tissue making it impossible for the doctors to remove all of it. These pieces somehow fuse with his brain, giving his mind the capabilities of an iPhone, along with a few superpowers. When I first read the synopsis of this book, I though Oh, great, more publicity for iPhones and all the other technology that’s taking over the world. But I gave it a chance anyway and was pleasantly surprised. Kevin Brooks is a great writer. (Click here for a full review)

I’ve noticed a pattern with the books I tend to enjoy; some are dystopian, others are modern day, none are vampires – but almost all of them are targeted at boys. I am not a boy. My boyfriend will attest to that. But for some reason, very few books with female protagonists excite me. I find the girls spend too much time in their heads, dreaming about a tall, dark and handsome vampire/werewolf/ghost/angel/immortal/demon/pixie/fairy/god, which is totally not my type anyway. So I tend to prefer male protagonists, who spend more time getting into and out of life-threatening situations. Any writer who can keep me at the edge of my seat, completely clueless as to how a character will get out of a deadly predicament is a good one in my books.