Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Weigh in Wednesday #6

Weigh in Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Lauren at Epilogue Review, and this week's topic is POETRY VS. PROSE.

My answer is...both!  I love novels written in poem format/verse.  A lot of people seem to be scared of verse novels, thinking they'll be confusing and inscrutable, but I often find the opposite is true--they're actually quick, easy and even relaxing to read.  Since there are less words per page, the pages just seem to flip by so fast, the books are addictive and easy to finish in one sitting!  I especially love when authors arrange the words, lines and line breaks to add to the meaning of the text.  On the other hand, there are some stories that just won't work in verse format, like high fantasy and sci-fi novels that require a lot of world-building, for example.  I think if I read either exclusively prose or poetry, I'd get tired of reading more quickly, so overall I'm glad to have both available to read!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


So today I saw a printed ARC (Advanced Review Copy) of my first novel, Alice in Everville, for the first time.  It was a totally surreal experience, and I’m still reeling from it!  Seeing words I wrote arranged into bound pages, and knowing other people (who aren’t my parents!) will be reading those pages, is exciting and nerve-wracking and just crazy!  I wish I’d thought to take a picture, but I didn’t, and now the ARCs are off to BEA…so if you’re going to be at BEA, you can enter to win one.  All the details are up at Pendrell Publishing's website.

My cover will be unveiled at BEA as well (I haven’t seen it yet!), so stay tuned for that!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weigh In Wednesday #5

This is my first time participating in a meme, so thanks very much to Lauren at Epilogue Review for coming up with the idea and sending the e-mail that inspired me to participate!  This week's topic is...

                                                 NOVELLAS VS. ANTHOLOGIES

I am going to say that I prefer--in fact love--novellas, although I'm not as crazy about short stories (in general--there are a few I adore!).  I think of a novella as longer than a story, giving more time to develop the characters and plot, but not quite as long as a full-length novel.  The perfect example for me is Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT, one of my favorite books of all time, which is 15000 words and about 90 pages in its original version.  FLB uses vibrant, precise language and tight characterization to create a clear world and characters even in a short space.  As a reader who gets easily bored with long, overly descriptive books with sprawling plots, I really appreciate a writer who's able to say a lot in not so many words!  I also love the fact that I can reread novellas without sacrificing too much time, since I like to find new depth upon multiple readings and to see how my own reaction has changed over time.  It's harder to do that with a book like, say, Lord of the Rings or the later Harry Potters!  (Especially for me, since I'm a slow reader.) My appreciation for novellas is similar to my love for verse novels, many of which, with their short word count and emphasis on precise language , might also be considered novellas.

As for anthologies, I consider these to be collections of short stories, either by one author or a group.  I find that when I read an entire anthology at once I tend to become a little dissatisfied, since I feel like I'm flitting from one thing to another. I do like to read anthologies in bits and pieces, especially to get a taste of new authors if I don't have time to read their longer works.

Speaking of novellas, I should also mention that my upcoming book, ALICE IN EVERVILLE, might be considered a novella by some.  While it's longer than WEETZIE BAT, it takes place all over one day, and I tried to say a lot with few words the way so many of my favorite authors do!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Book Review: Chained by Lynne Kelly

After ten-year-old Hastin’s family borrows money to pay for his sister’s hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and hurt with a hook until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.

So I LOVE books about the relationship between people and animals, and thanks to the new secret project I’m working on, I get to read a bunch of them right now.  And I’m so glad I found CHAINED by Lynne Kelly!  This is a middle-grade book, but it offers some fascinating insights into elephant behavior that I think readers of all ages will enjoy.

Seriously, the whole time I was reading this, I couldn’t stop thinking, Animals are SO amazing!  Of course, much of this was due to the author’s great skill in bringing to life an animal I’ve never been lucky enough to spend time with, though I now feel like I have!  Kelly also does a wonderful job of evoking everyday life for a lower-class Indian family, without including so many details as to become overwhelming.   As for characterization, Kelly does a great job of bringing even minor characters to life—although characters like Hastin’s mother and sister didn’t get much page time, I still cared about them.  Hastin himself was a wonderful protagonist, a brave, caring boy you can’t help but root for, though he still makes some mistakes appropriate for his age that keep his character realistic and believable.  The other workers at the circus are intriguingly complex, multi-layered characters with secret pasts that come out over the course of the story.  If I had to criticize something about this story, it would be that I guessed many of these secrets rather early on, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment while reading, and I think younger readers will be suitably surprised.

If you enjoy CHAINED and want to read more about elephants, I also recommend THE NATURE OF JADE by Deb Caletti for a very different story that also provides many insights into elephant behavior.