What’s Up Wednesday & #YABbootcamp Check-In

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Good Afternoon 🙂 It’s Wednesday and today I’m combining my weekly ‘What’s Up Wednesday’ post with my weekly YABbootcamp Check-in (yay efficiency)!

What I’m Reading

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 Last week I finished reading my ARC of The Summer I Wasn’t Me (which is now out). It was amazing!!! My review and an interview with the author is to come, but I have to say that Jessica Verdi knows how to tell a story. It’s my first book of hers I’ve read, but it won’t be my last. She had me crying one moment and cheering on the characters the next. It was very bittersweet and very hard to read but completely worth it 🙂aa-stormfront

This week I’ve been reading (and watching) a lot of Urban Fantasy more specifically books that fall into the Speculative Noir genre since that’s what I’d define my WIP as (more on that later). 38619I’m currently reading Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher and Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews (not really Speculative Noir but it’s a YA UF I’ve been meaning to read) and then I’m on to re-read an all time favorite of mine, Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake #1) by Laurell K. Hamilton. book13It’s like part of my research in world & character building for my WIP and I’m loving them all so much!

What I’m Writing

I sent the first chapter of my WIP to one of my amazing CPs and just got it back yesterday! I have since then revised the chapter and I think I now have an opening I’m really proud of that sets up the story, protagonist, and world well.

The WIP is a YA Speculative Noir set in NOLA. I’d originally defined it as Urban Fantasy but for various reasons that didn’t capture what the book came off as, how I wanted it to be categorized, and the world and the MC’s viewpoint about the world well enough. Not to mention, though I can be a sucker for flowery language this book seemed to lean more towards a simplistic, simile laden writing style that reminded me so much of books I love like Guilty Pleasures and Storm Front. Interestingly enough it was an agent, Brooks Sherman, who defined my book for me. Read this and you’ll see what I mean. In it he talks about speculative noir and dark YA with noir elements like the TV show Veronica Mars. As soon as I read that I knew he was talking about books like my WIP which I consider to Veronica Mars meets The Dresden Files (book series) & Lost Girl (TV show). And, yes, (if I don’t get an agent from the MS I’m currently querying) I will be querying him once this WIP is nice and polished.

You can read an excerpt from the revised CHAPTER ONE, at my writer website, patricecaldwell.com!

What Else I’ve Been Doing

I’ve had a pretty busy weekend!!

easter brunchSunday was Easter and the society I’m in, Zeta Alpha, put on an Easter Brunch (it was potluck style and I made Texas-style breakfast burritos!).

<–my friends and I (aren’t we cute & so happy (thank you, sun!!))photo (7)

Oh, and then Sage the Gemini kicked off Spring Week (a week of concerts & other festivities) that evening!! He’s a rapper out of the Bay Area and though I only knew a couple of his songs it was really fun. Also, he was a great entertainer. He was hilarious and he took his shirt off 😉

Monday was the Boston Marathon!! My friends and I went out in full force to support the runners. Wellesley has a special tradition, the scream tunnel in which students line the road and try to get kisses from the runners. I got one once and it was really sweaty so although I no longer partake in that part of the tradition, it was still a very fun day!

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<–so cute & happy once again. It was a wonderful Marathon day that concluded with me doing my laundry (finally!) and watching TV with a friend 🙂

Oh, and my bookshelf got a new addition, #BostonStrong!! Screen shot 2014-04-23 at 3.51.16 PM

What Inspires Me Right Now

I’m inspired by a lot of things. The stories about the Marathon runner survivors from last year who were able to complete the race this year, my friends and classmates who are some of the smartest & busiest women I know and yet we still make time to hang out and support one another, my mother who is going back to school to complete her bachelors while working, my father who finally quite his day job to pursue his wellness company full time & become a full-blown Texas farmer (the baby chicks hatched during the Winter and they’re getting so big so fast), my fellow writers who find time to write amongst juggling day jobs, children, and an assortment of other things, and, of course, myself for, even if I forget sometimes/often, I have a lot to be proud of.

Also, there’s some amazing conversations about Diversity in Literature (specifically Children’s Lit) going on right now/the past couple weeks. I have links to a few in my Writer Resources section, but if you’ve ever wanted to join in the conversation or learn more, now is the perfect time 🙂

Happy Wednesday and I hope it’s not so rainy where you are 🙂 Have a great week!!

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

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Writer Recharge Challenge 2014

writer-rechargeThis February I’m participating in Writer Recharge hosted by Alison MillerLiz ParkerElodie NowodazkijSara Biren & Katy Upperman!

What’s Writer Recharge?

“It’s a month-long motivational challenge similar to last summer’s Ready. Set. Write! So many of us benefited from setting goals, connecting with other writers, and social media-based accountability. So, let’s do it again! Whether you’re delighting next to the crackling fireplace of a Shiny New Idea with a warm cup of tea and or spinning out on the ice-covered roads of revisions in an attempt to avoid the snow-packed ditch, we want to write with you! What do you want to accomplish this month? Hit a daily word count? Revise a certain number of pages or chapters each week? Complete a draft by the end of the month? Let’s get this party started!”

The Timeline:

  • First week of February: Post your goals for the month on your blog, website, or Twitter. Use the hashtag #WriterRecharge. Link your blog post at Sara Biren’s blog!
  • Every Monday in February: Update your progress via your blog or twitter. Link your blog posts on myMonday posts.
  • Throughout the month: Use the hashtag to connect with other writers, have writing parties, and cheer one another on!
  • February 28: Post your final update via your blog or twitter.
  • Anyone who uses the hashtag or links their blog posts will be entered to win one of five query or 3-chapter critiques.

My goals for February:

  • I have a revision/rewrite to finish of my YA Contemporary Fantasy, BLOOD OF ISIS. I’ve realized me not finishing this rewrite it what’s stopping me from progressing to other novels so it is time.
  • Write every day. No exceptions. Doesn’t matter how much as long as I write.
  • Keep querying my MG Thriller ALEX DE VEGA AND PANDORA’S BOX. I’ve been querying it, got some requests, participated in Pitch Wars, many of those early requesters ended up saying no, but I know I’m close I just need to keep going. I received a student writer scholarship for it from SCBWI (yay!!) so I’ll be at the NY Winter Conference & attending the Writers’ Roundtable intensive so here’s to hoping it gets some interest. If not, I’ll go back to the drawing board *fingers crossed*.
  • Read 1 book/week. My TBR is getting ridiculously long and there are a ton of debuts I want to read this year.

I’m really excited to begin/I started a couple days ago and loved it. I love the world of BOI, and if I can just finish this second half I can go back and “sew” everything together and the MS will be ready to send to CPs!

Whew! What a busy month. That’s not even including all the college related events I have going on. Can’t wait to connect with you at #WriterRecharge 🙂

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

SKY’S END by Lesley Young

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by Lesley Young

Book Blurb

A secret she must never share. A secret that two warring species are determined to control. A universe’s future at stake.

Twenty-year-old Cassiel Winters joins Earth’s new space academy in hopes of finding her brother, one of Command’s top pilots and her only family, who’s been reported MIA. But she quickly realizes she may not be cut out for life in space, where female cadets are outnumbered, competition’s fierce, and she’s already failed her hand-to-hand combat test once.

Even the station’s most respected officer, Lt. Damian King, probably can’t help Cassiel pass the second time around-so why is he so interested in her progress?  If only one of her freaky deja vu visions would offer an answer instead of mysterious messages like hide.

When Cassiel’s manipulated into a perilous mission, she encounters a warrior species bred to protect the universe from an even greater threat. And she learns that her secret visions are at the heart of it all.

Now Cassiel must fight to control her own destiny and race to save her brother-even if it mea ns pretending to be the pawn of Prime Or’ic, the cold-as-steel Thell’eon leader. Even if it means risking her life, facing hard truths, and making the ultimate sacrifice.

My Review

Owl Rating:

This was a great book 😀  I watch a lot of sci-fi but I’m just now getting into reading sci-fi and I can honestly say I think this was a great way to start.  I mean, I’ve been reading Dystopian books since before they were popular as well as Urban Fantasy etc…but straight sci-fi not so much.

One of the things that drew me into this story was the voice.  I’m a big fan of voice.  Like a character’s voice can make or break a story for me.  With Cassiel, I was in LOVE with her voice from the very beginning.  It popped off the page in such a way that I felt like the scene was unfolding in front of me.  I thought her voice was fresh, young, and I loved reading all her inner thoughts and such.

I also really like the world Young created.  I felt it was believable and I didn’t feel like she watered things down.  Sometimes sci-fi can be such a tough genre since it’s so rich that it can just go right over people’s heads but Young did a great job of balancing the backstory and explanations of the world with the present.

Oh, and the action.  Boy was there action.  I thought Cassiel was such a boss.  I love me some strong/kick-ass heroines and I definitely thought Cassiel fit that bill.  Plus she was funny, maybe she didn’t mean to be but there were definitely some very funny situations throughout the book (or at least things I thought were funny).

The only thing that didn’t quite jive with me, yes I said jive, was the romance.  That’s probably mostly because I’m a real nitpicky romance in books person.  I often would prefer the kick-ass heroine without her needing to have a love triangle.  For me, some of the romance seemed unnecessary.  I didn’t understand where it came from, its purpose, and so forth.  However the action, plot twists (oh, yes), and of course Cassiel overshadowed that part enough for me to still love the book!

A huge thank you to Samantha Lien from JKS Communications for letting me read and review the book.  This is a 100% honest review, and I’m so glad I got the chance to read it.  It’s truly wonderful.

So, go buy yourself a copy today (the link takes you to the author’s page).  I don’t have any comp titles for you but if you’re looking for a fast-paced read, a great, funny, and realistic, kick-ass character, and some Sci-Fi elements then SKY’S END is the book for you!  Also, FYI I felt lie this was a YA/NA crossover.  Oh, and there’s going to be a sequel!!!

Note of clarification: My rating of this book is technically a 4.5 but since I rate in owls, and I don’t practice animal cruelty there are four owls up there 🙂

What are some amazing Sci-Fi books you’ve read recently?  

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

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by Kara Taylor

Book Blurb

In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

My Review

Owl Rating:

I love me a good mystery.  The only thing I love better than a good mystery is one set at a boarding school.  Private, Privilege…I ate those series up.  There’s something about an insular environment like boarding school, a new girl coming into the scene, rich, spoiled kids who are used to getting away with everything, and of course, murder that reals me right in.  It’s a scene I’m familiar with: I went to private school for years…home of some of the children of North Texas’ “modern royalty” (Gossip Girl episode reference), so I love meeting characters who remind me of people I knew/know.  With Kara Taylor’s Prep School Confidential, it was no different.  Well, except it was a bit less “gossipy/mean girly” than other similar series, which was a great thing.  I love my Gossip Girl, but one can only take so much.

Why’d I connect with it so well?

One word, or name… Anne.  That girl is a rockstar.   Sometimes she was so annoying because the mistakes she made I was like, “NOOOO, how did you not see that coming?!?!”  But of course, that only made me want to keep reading.  Haha, you should’ve seen me.  Actually, nope.  I take that back.  I was a mess.  Giggling, yelling, pulling out my hair, trying to figure everything out myself.  Argh, so wonderful.  (hehe)  There was this one part that included something from Dante’s Inferno, which is one of my favorite books (read it in tenth grade English…fell in love #totalnerdhere).  I was so excited when I figured it out before Anne did, I was also surprised she hadn’t read it in her NYC prep school though but alas, I was still in love.

Oh and ze boys were wonderful.  I’m just going to stop there because I don’t want to give anything away but yeah, so great.

Taylor handled everything extremely well.  By the time I got to the ending I was like hmmm, too perfect?  But NO.  Also, there’s a excerpt from the next book in the series and let me tell you, I knew it!  The key thing I’ve learned from my boarding school mystery obsession is that nothing is how you think it is and if it seems too perfect, it is 😉

Just go get the book now.  I don’t know how I was able to put it down and do seemingly-not-so-yet-very-important-things, like sleep.

Prep School Confidential was believable.  Though, like I stated, there were times I was like, “Anne, come on girl, get in the game!”  because I was so shocked she hadn’t been more careful/noticed that/etc… had she, it wouldn’t have been as believable that she was a teen sleuth.  Me, being on the outside, it was easier for me to see more details, however I can only imagine, and trust me, I did, what it would be like to actually be in the middle of the action.

Kudos to Taylor and Anne!  See, fellow writers, this is a lesson in not following the trends.  Write the story that speaks to you.  Yeah, Dystopian & Sci-Fi is crazy popular now but it’s for that reason that even a Dystopian, Sci-Fi lifelong nerd like myself, can get tired of those genres.  Which is why when I saw this book on NetGalley I was like, “I’m in, baby.”  Plus it was all over my Twitterfeed months before it came out (and my feed is 80% pub. industry professionals + writer friends so that’s a sign of a stellar book).  I need to remember to get the Paperback of it so I can add it to my (overflowing) bookshelf.

Be bold, be brave… keep calm & call Anne Dowling (this would be a really cool t-shirt, btw).

This is a 100% honest review.  Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Griffin for the ARC 🙂

What’s a good non-dystopian or sci-fi book you’ve read lately?

Whimsically Yours,

PnC

Proxy by Alex London

Proxy (Proxy, #1)

by Alex London

Book Blurb

Knox was born into one of the City’s wealthiest families. A Patron, he has everything a boy could possibly want—the latest tech, the coolest clothes, and a Proxy to take all his punishments. When Knox breaks a vase, Syd is beaten. When Knox plays a practical joke, Syd is forced to haul rocks. And when Knox crashes a car, killing one of his friends, Syd is branded and sentenced to death.

Syd is a Proxy. His life is not his own.

Then again, neither is Knox’s. Knox and Syd have more in common than either would guess. So when Knox and Syd realize that the only way to beat the system is to save each other, they flee. Yet Knox’s father is no ordinary Patron, and Syd is no ordinary Proxy. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test both boys’ resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay. Some debts, it turns out, cannot be repaid.

Book Review

Owl Rating:

“I believe you, Knox…And I don’t care.  Got it?  I believe you’re sorry.  I.  Don’t.  care.  I don’t want your sorry.  Live with your guilt.  it’s the one debt you owe me and I don’t ever, ever want it repaid.” – Syd
(one of my favorite quotes from the book)

Proxy by Alex London is the type of book a Political Science major (concentrating in political theory & American politics), like myself, dreams of.  It had everything I study in my classes, on my own, etc…combined (aka Proxy should be course reading).  I mean I love “insert classic dystopian novel” but if ALL schools want to keep the interest of their peers (if we choose not to believe public schools aren’t just preparing students for vocational work *cough, cough, Proxy) we need to be willing to teach what kids want to read.  The only difference between Proxy and those classics (which I do love) is those books are much older, not the themes, the book (sorry, AP English).

I’ve been reading dystopian novels since before they were considered dystopian or at least by the YA crew and I can honestly say PROXY is what a dystopian novel should be.  Maybe should be is the wrong word, a dystopian novel should make you think.  Okay, sure the action was great, characterization fabulous (more on that later), but the depths of the book, OMG!!  Part of me wants to make this review a collection of quotes from the book but, since that would be at least one per page, I’ll spare you.  Aside from On Writing by Stephen King (& everything my dad says) I have never found myself nodding my head as much as I did while reading Proxy.

The thing I love about dystopians is they make you think and raise critical societal issues without you even realizing it.  If more people read & discussed books like Proxy, we might just have a chance at stopping the deterioration of our society.  The book was scary, scary in the way I could easily see our society becoming like the world of Proxy.  Yes, with most dystopian books I can see parts of our society but sometimes their so far flung, so hingent on military control that I’m like nah…if anything we’d be controlled by big businesses, we wouldn’t need a militant government…our dependency on credit, borrowing, and so forth would create a society like Proxy where those of us not at the top would become no more than slaves to corporations.

On a lighter note, I want to praise and at the same time beat the author.  Not because he wrote a bad book but because of how it ended.  On one hand I was thrilled (for spoilerish reasons) and on the other I was furious, I hated that character, I was supposed to hate him, but I was crying (or rather sitting in an airport trying to bite back my tears).

Oh and the twists…LOL, kinda saw it coming, but let me just say, character who shall not be named was characterized perfectly (you’ll know who if you read the book (so go get it)).  For you/us Vampire Diaries fans the character reminds me of Stefan, meaning the character harbors guilt enough to drown the world.  Part of the reason the book was so good was that it was relatable.  I’m definitely not Knox, but I went to school with people like him (oil money + Texas + private school…nuff said).  Now, being at the college I’m at, I continue to meet so many people like the character I’m not naming who want to save the world because they feel as if it’s their duty because of the life they’ve been given.  I prefer the Knox(es) of the world, they know they have privilege and they full accept that and feel that’s their luck of the draw/way things are supposed to be.  People like the other character, they just get on your nerves but that’s why the book was so good…it was honest.  Stephen King would be proud.

Finally…did I mention, Syd is gay.  Oh yeah, a gay character for whom his gayness isn’t what the book is about…thank you Baby Jesus (also there were mad references from Biblical to modern woven through the story).  However, though it isn’t the main thing it does provide for some great comedic relief in that Knox, being Knox has some really funny scenes where he tries to win Syd over by hitting on him.  I was dying…in my dorm, at 1 AM cracking up so loud I’m sure my neighbors probably want to strangle me.  Honestly though, to have a character I can connect with in so many ways who is one of the protagonists of the story, being all reluctant superhero-y was a dream come true…thank you Alex London.

I think I’m going to pass this book down to my younger brother, now that will be the real test of how good this book is.  I mean, I love action but as you can tell I like to theorize…my brother on the other hand, well, he’s a 14 going on 15 year old boy who is very much a video gaming nerd who I’ve only seen read Rick Riordan (yeah, he turned down HP & Artemis Fowl, broke my heart) so we shall see.

Update (as of 7:54 PM EST, 7/9/13): I keep saying lux (Proxy slang)…next I’ll be telling people they’re glitched.

Update (as of July 11th): Ze Brother has ze book.  J’espère qu’il aime le livre.  

Update (as of 8/17): He likes it 😉  Yeah, who’s the coolest sister now.  (obvi me, haha)

Whimsically Yours,

PnC