Posts Tagged ‘elevensies releases’

Reading Like a Writer: THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton

Friday, May 11th, 2012

I don’t read much fantasy – which is odd, since as a kid I lived in Narnia and Middle Earth. But somehow, as an adult, my preferences have shifted to realistic fiction. So if Kiki Hamilton weren’t a friend and colleague, I probably wouldn’t have picked up her debut novel, THE FAERIE RING.

But boy, am I glad I did! Not only is it an engaging story, full of pickpockets and malicious faeries and royalty, but it’s incredibly well written. And since my goal is to read like a writer, here are some of the things I’ve learned from reading this book that I plan to apply to my own work.

1. Choose your verbs wisely. Here are some interesting verbs I found on the book’s first page: pickin’, loomed, shadowing, illuminated, bubbled, dissipated, jingled, taunt, clutched, forced, tugged, disguised. I love these verbs because they’re not only unusual and active, but they evoke the feel of the story’s 1871 London setting.

2. Make your main character a hero. Or, in this case, a heroine. Tiki, the pickpocket who dresses as a boy who is at the center of THE FAERIE RING, is a heroine not only because she’s brave and adventurous, but because she acts as a guardian for a group young urchins. The depth of her caring about these children is what makes me admire and root for her.

3. Sow the seeds of mistrust. Reiker, another pickpocket character, is handsome and, in some ways, sympathetic. But doggone it, I just don’t trust him, and I cringe every time Kiki does – which in turn intensifies my desire to see her reach goals and overcome obstacles before he can screw things up.

After reading THE FAERIE RING, I might just become a fan of fantasy again. I know I won’t want to miss the sequel, THE TORN WING, which releases this October!

Have you read anything like a writer lately? What did you learn that you can apply to your own work?

Last chance to win Elevensies books!

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Over at The Elevensies, we’ve just launched our final Bookfeast giveaway for libraries and readers. Our last two drawings have been a big success, and two lucky libraries have won one a full set of the season’s debut YA and MG novels. So if you are a librarian or a reader who’s interested in winning some Fall releases from The Elevensies (including FLYAWAY!), be sure to check out the contest details here. This season’s drawing takes place on December 30th, so don’t delay getting your entries in!

And speaking of drawings…don’t forget to enter my Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win an ARC of FLYAWAY. I’ll be accepting entries until November 25th.

Writing like an…1890s gal

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Once in a while on this blog, I like to post studies of books by fellow members of The Elevensies (an online group of YA/MG authors whose books debut in 2011). Notice that I say “studies” and not “reviews.” I’m not interested in passing judgement on my peers’ books; I read them to glean gems of wisdom to help me in my own writing — and to share those gems with you.

Currently, I’m reading THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS by Carole Estby Dagg, who is a member of both The Elevensies and The Class of 2k11.

This novel was inspired by the true story of her great grandmother and great aunt who, in 1896, walked from Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City. The author recounts their many adventures along the way, including surviving a flash flood, encountering real live Indians, and almost landing in jail. As a writer of realistic contemporary novels, I don’t usually read a lot of historical fiction. I’m glad, though, that I picked up this book, because it’s teaching me so much about showing time and place through voice.

As soon as I opened to the first page of THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS, I was transported to the 1890s — not because of description, but because of the narrator’s voice. Voice is always tricky to define, but for me it comes down to two things: sentence structure and word choice.

Sentence structure: Take the very first sentence of the novel’s preface: “The first seventeen years and three months of my life were so ordinary, they would not be worth the telling.” By ending this opening sentence with the old-fashioned phrase “worth the telling,” she signals right away that she is taking us to a different time.

Word choice: Sometimes it’s not the way Estby Dagg’s narrator frames her sentences that clues us into the time period, it’s the very words she uses. Look at a sentence in the first chapter: “As if in league with my intent to rouse Ma from bed today, Marmee jumped on the  bed to lick Ma’s cheek and purr into her ear.” The words “league,” “intent,” and “rouse” have the formal tone that lets us know we’re in the past, and even the name “Marmee” has an old-fashioned feel.

So how do I apply this to my own work? Even though my novels are set in current times, each has it’s particular milieu. The main character in FLYAWAY, for example, is from a lower economic class in Seattle, while the main character in my new novel is half Latina and lives in San Diego. I have to make sure each has her particular way of phrasing things and chooses specific words to voice her thoughts.

Have you read a book lately whose author uses voice to take you to a particular time and/or place? If so, I’d love to hear about it!


Book Feast!

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

 Librarians and YA/MG literature enthusiasts, here is a chance to win copies of the latest debut novels for yourself or your libraries! The Book Feast, hosted by The Elevensies, will run an installment of this giveaway each season, so you can have the opportunity to win all of 2011’s fabulous books by debut authors. 

Fellow Elevensie Terry Lynn Johnson, whose novel DOGSLED DREAMS is part of this season’s giveaway, has done such a good job of explaining how Book Feast works that I’ll direct you to her blog for details.

Go, Elevensies!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

 And they’re off! The first of the Elevensies launched this week. Shawn Goodman’s gritty contemporary  YA novel SOMETHING LIKE HOPE is now on bookstore shelves.

TEENIE, a contemporary YA by Christopher Grant, is also available now.

A few other Elevensies who are technically January launches have discovered that their books are already out in the world. These include Terry Lynn Johnson, author of DOGSLED DREAMS, and Julia Karr, author of XVI.

Happy Reading!