Thursday, April 2, 2015

Writing for Myself

First and foremost, I am a reader. I love words and I love the way people can string them together to make meaning. When I first began, it took a long time for me to see what the appeal was but it snuck up on me slowly, until one day, I couldn't image an Amber without books nearby. It didn't take long after that to realize that reading was simply not enough for me anymore, that my stories are just as important to me as the ones told by my favorite authors. The difference was that mine had yet to be told.

There is one issue that I face above all when it comes to writing though. I write for the reactions. It's not necessarily a bad thing, I don't think, but it definitely puts the pressure on me to perform well. I don't want to waste my time with something that I won't share with the world. One of the most important factors for me is that it will make my audience feel something. I don't care if it's frustration, or anger, or love, or anything. It's just empowering to know that I'm capable of influencing people's thoughts like that.

It all sounded good to me until I boiled it down a little more and considered how my thought process was really affecting me and my work. Suddenly, I built a wall of expectations that I forced myself to hurdle every time I picked up a pen. It wasn't fair to me that every word has to be perfect or have a purpose. It wasn't fair that I need to make sure there is foreshadowing and metaphors and literary devices galore. It wasn't fair that I'd forgotten how to write for myself.

The first story I ever finished was about three elves in Santa's workshop trying to stop a Christmas disaster. The first story I ever shared with the internet was a cheesy Harry Potter fan fiction (that for some reason seems to be doing quite well right now, considering I wrote it about five years ago). And lately, almost everything I write has gone unfinished or has disappointed me beyond measure. This is unacceptable. High standards are one thing, but I know I'm not writing shit and I'm acting like it is.

So that's why I have commenced writing a Peter Pan fan fiction - literally the opposite of everything serious I've been doing lately. There doesn't need to be anything in it except for my humor and thoughts and everything I ever wanted to happen to Peter. Also, Hook could really use a love interest, and if it happens to look and act like me, then who am I to complain? I'm writing for myself right now and none of my ridiculous expectations are going to bar me from that. I'm actually going to embrace every typo and grammar mistake I make and it feels liberating. 

And yes, Hook is going to be an exact clone of Colin O'Donoghue.

And yes, Peter and Wendy are most definitely going to be together forever.


Monday, March 30, 2015

An Open Letter to Mary-Sues

Dear Mary-Sue,

I think if I ever decided to found an intelligence agency, you would be my first pick for super-spy. You would also be my first pick as head chef in my kitchen. And the frontrunner in my band. And the seeker on my quidditch team. Hell, I'd beg you to be the leader in my knitting circle.

Wanna know why? Because you're perfect.

Hideously, despicably perfect.

And my goodness gracious I am so happy that I don't live in your universe because if I was there the first thing I would tell you is:

Then, everyone would undoubtedly beat me up because you have the backing of the entire planet, since you can seduce them with your innocent face and beautiful hair. The men would especially enjoy taking a swing at me because I dared offend your precious, delicate sensibilities, because they are all hopelessly in love with you. The women act unreasonable as well. Despite the fact that you have stolen the entire male population from them, they find themselves unable to hate you, because you are simply too sweet and understanding.

Oh, I know you don't mean to be so absolutely amazing. The author is purely at fault here. I know sometimes you are an accident, a broken condom in the mind of a usually sensible writer, but they should have known to use protection. Every single person is born with a natural inclination to prevent disease, so you should have never spread. I think I just compared you to an STD. And that's okay (for me, anyway).

The saddest part is that even after this nice little heart to heart we just had, you're still going to run around telling everyone:

Dishonor on you and dishonor on your cow,

P.S. - I just want to make it abundantly clear right now. Miley isn't lying (as long by "me" she means ME, Amber). I'm the one you need to make happy. It's time for some reform.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Expectations Shmexpectations

I'm going to preface this by saying that I give every book the benefit of the doubt. With nearly everything I read, I expect it to be good because it's published or because I spent my money on it. This is called trust, folks. I probably have too much of it. (Alright - not going to lie. I hate YA dystopia so I go into it believing that it will be an utter work of failure. Phew. Got that off my chest.)

Lately, I've been consistently disappointed by nearly everything I read. I believe the hype. I rave about how DESPERATELY I need it on my shelves. I research it to the point where I've spoiled myself without actually realizing it. Although, I'll admit sometimes I do that on purpose since I don't handle surprises well. And here, with all this build-up, all I want is one mind-blowing book every few months. Not hard to deliver considering I give so many chances up all the time, you know? Come on, books. I want a good ratio. Maybe every 1 out of 30 is so fantastical that I actually want to shit myself. Is that too much to ask?

I know what you're all saying:

Well, SUCKS because I want amazing ALL THE TIME and I think we can all understand that.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Stacking the Shelves #11

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by  Tynga's Reviews! This meme showcases the books received, bought, or checked out from the library over the past week.

I celebrated my seventeenth year of life recently, and because of that, I naturally got a big haul of books. Now, I will admit that some of these I purchased as my own birthday presents, but I couldn't help it. I GOT 5 HARDCOVERS FOR LESS THAN $30! That's an accomplishment if ever there was one. Granted they were used, but I bet you can't even guess which they were, they're in such great condition.

Also, I'm (hopefully) getting my license soon, which means I'll be even more broke because I'll constantly be driving to the bookstore (and this one ice cream joint down the road). Broke and fat. What a good combination. But NO REGRETS. Anyway, here's the haul! I already read the first three, but I just wanted them in hardcover, for the record.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier 
Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck
Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Permanent Record by Leslie Stella
 Dreaming Awake by Gwen Hayes

Feel free to share your links! I'd love to check them out too!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Invisibility by David Levithan & Andrea Cremer

Rating: 1/5 stars
Stephen has been invisible for practically his whole life — because of a curse his grandfather, a powerful cursecaster, bestowed on Stephen’s mother before Stephen was born. So when Elizabeth moves to Stephen’s NYC apartment building from Minnesota, no one is more surprised than he is that she can see him. A budding romance ensues, and when Stephen confides in Elizabeth about his predicament, the two of them decide to dive headfirst into the secret world of cursecasters and spellseekers to figure out a way to break the curse. But things don’t go as planned, especially when Stephen’s grandfather arrives in town, taking his anger out on everyone he sees. In the end, Elizabeth and Stephen must decide how big of a sacrifice they’re willing to make for Stephen to become visible — because the answer could mean the difference between life and death. At least for Elizabeth.

Stephen a boy cursed from birth to be invisible meets Elizabeth, who can somehow see him, despite said curse. They work together to break the curse and discover that Elizabeth is a spellcaster along the way.

Though Invisibility seemed to have so much potential to be an amazing book, there were just some blatant issues throughout it that couldn't be ignored, no matter how much I tried. I absolutely adored Stephen's point of view in the beginning which was solemn, yet still so deep, but Elizabeth annoyed me so deeply, that I don't believe there can ever be any redemption for her in my eyes. Up to the end, she successfully made me hate her.

While the first 50 pages seemed alright, from there, I knew this book was on a downward spiral. The extent of their interaction was a walk in the park and talking to one another briefly. Then, they kiss. Then, following very close after, instalove. I will be the first to say that while sometimes instalove is interesting to read, this one was so fast and utterly unbelievable. Am I really meant to believe that they're ready for I'll-die-for-you love already?
Following that, I realized that Elizabeth could not become more of a Mary Sue if she tried. Now, let me make it clear that being a Mary Sue is one thing that I really can't stand. Especially when the author didn't even try to hide it. She LITERALLY is able to do stuff on her first day her mentor couldn't do in her wildest imagination.

There was one single relationship that I wanted to read more about and that was the one between Stephen and his estranged father. When they spoke, it seemed so much more real than any other interaction in the book. But of course, that lasted for maybe less than a third of the book and was ignored the rest of the way.

Quite frankly, I almost quit several times throughout Invisibility, but managed to force myself to finish since I bought it in hardcover. I regret spending my money like that. And I really did expect more from a David Levithan book.

Rating: 1/5 stars

Monday, August 25, 2014

An Open Letter to YA Dystopian Fiction

No offense to all ya'll who love Dystopian. This is just my opinion.

Dear Dystopian Books,

Over the past few years, you've gained prominence in the YA genre, and I've come to appreciate many of your kind in that time. I love reading about all your messed up societies and the equally messed up people who live in them. It makes me grateful to live in the wonderful USA, where I have access to so much food, that my butt and thighs can grow bigger than I ever wanted them to.

But I have a bone to pick with you.

What's up with the lack of originality? I'm so tired of reading about people who are unhappy so they decide to start a rebellion against the government and then a whole bunch of people die including the main character (No spoilers, but you know who I'm talking about. I am NOT pleased about that.) and then everybody is happy because they defeated the bad guys. Maybe I just want to read something about people who live in a dystopian society but learn to deal with it. Sound good?

Like in Divergent. Quite frankly, I'd be perfectly happy with the first part of that book. If the factions had remained factions, that's cool with me! That first part had a very Mulan-esque feeling and I was totally embracing the warrior underdog thing, but then me-oh-my! the bad guys appear and thus starts the rebellion thing. Now, the books that came after Divergent were fine, but that's all they were. Were there tears? Yes, endless words-are-blurring-on-the-page tears that made it impossible to read. But I didn't want it to happen.

Also, I'm just not cut out for all your rule-breaking and sticking-it-to-the-man. In Delirium, I kept getting so upset with the main character for just feeling free to go against all the rules she'd grown up with. I mean, she had one job. Follow the rules. And look what a mess she made of it.

And I know what you're telling me:

But maybe sometimes I don't want to rock. Sometimes I like to classical music or jazz too, and you have to give me some options, you know?

Variety is key. That's all I'm saying.

You, Dystopian. You're almost always about some girl who can't be with a boy so she goes and raises hell, making everything fall to shit and killing my favorite characters in the process.

I know, I know. But please get on it. Because I'm quickly getting sick of you. I mean, I love you, but really.

Much love,

PS - If anyone wants to read a good, original dystopian book, you should check out Shades of Grey by Jasper FForde. No, not Fifty Shades of Grey. They're very different.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake

Rating: 3/5
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life. 

Despite Anna's advertisement of a romance story between a ghost and ghost hunter, the main plot revolves around Cas's job and all the disturbing things he's seen. Much as I wanted to enjoy this, I simply couldn't really get into it.

As for the fear factor that this book gave me, I'd say that on a scale of tingles-down-my-spine to crapping-my-pants, I would place this somewhere in between. For the most part, Anna was very centered on the blood and gore that occurs throughout the book, from stabbing to dismemberment and all the little categories in between. It definitely succeeded in putting images in my mind that I definitely would not want to be thinking about in the dark (I had trouble sleeping last night. I thought there was a corpse under my bed.)
Romance-wise, this book disappointed me slightly. I guess I couldn't get over the fact that Anna had a pile of dead bodies in her basement. Not only that, but the buildup to the romance was pretty lacking. One second she was just a ghost, the next he had feelings for her. And then not five minutes later, they were willing to die for each other.

Cas, the main character, was overall a pretty likable character. He was flawed, but in a slightly insecure, realistic way. While I was pretty unimpressed by his ghost hunting skills (he usually flailed about for while before accomplishing anything), he was really passionate about what he did and it made him a pretty interesting person. Anna on the other hand, was pretty tragic the whole book. Her life and afterlife were both depressing. Around the end she acted more human, but I could never forget that underneath it all, she was wearing a dress dripping with blood.

The minor characters, Carmel and Thomas, were alright. They were good friends that stuck by him through the worst, although the side-romance that was building between them was so unlikely, yet predictable that it was hard to root for.

I'd recommend this to people who enjoy horror books, like if you've read Spirit Walk by Richie Tankersley Cusick. But keep in mind that this isn't for the faint hearted. It gets pretty gory up in there.

Rating: 3/5
By the way, I'm meeting Kendare Blake later this month at the National Book Festival! WOOHOO!
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