Monthly Archives: January 2013

Book Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Title: Some Girls Are
Author: Courtney Summers
Page Count: 245
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary YA

Rating: 5/10

Goodreads Summary:
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around. Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

Opinion:
This book and I have a complicated relationship. Before I get into all the reasons why I didn’t like this book, I have to say that Courtney Summers is definitely a talented writer. She kept me turning the pages, even when I wanted to throw the book across the room and never look at it again. Granted, part of what kept me reading was because I was waiting for something that never happened, but she still kept me reading, and that’s what counts. She has a talent for writing, although I already knew that from a previous book of hers that I read (This is Not a Test). Actually, I also have another book of hers that I am going to start reading next (Fall for Anything), so it’s not like I dislike the writing in her books for the most part.

My problem with this book is that I don’t like any of the characters.

Maybe there are a lot of people who enjoy reading about characters that they can’t stand. Maybe there are some people who enjoy reading about people who continue to make a bad situation worse. I’m not one of them. If I have an otherwise likable character who makes the wrong choice sometimes, I can keep reading and enjoy it because it’s fun to watch people grow.

But Regina never changed. She never learned. She never grew. I suppose we’re supposed to think that she did given a choice that she made to keep her mouth shut near the end of the book, but I don’t really think that that counts. I think that was yet another stupid decision she made that was only less stupid compared to the other stupid choices she made before that.

In the beginning of the book, I felt sorry for her. I hated Kara and Anna and Donnie and Josh and all of the other people who wouldn’t listen to her and who hurt her. As time went on, though, I started to realize I hated Regina, too. I felt less bad about what was happening to her because I remembered that she deserved it. I’m not saying she deserved to be almost raped (that was horrible), but she deserved to have no friends.

I guess I kept reading this book because I was hoping I would eventually feel genuinely sorry for her. I hoped that I would start to understand her and sort of like her. That’s what happened with Before I Fall. I hated Sam in the beginning, but by the end of the book I was feeling sorry for her. I saw a few redeeming qualities in her friends, even though I hated them, as well. I don’t necessarily like the idea of excusing actions of the mean, popular people, but I like to read about realistic characters. I like to believe that everyone has a little bit of good in them, even if that good is only directed at a few people. But these characters aren’t good at all to anyone. They’re horrible to each other just like they are with everyone else, and that’s not fun to read about.

And Regina. I’m sorry, but being scared of being alone doesn’t excuse you from being part of that group. It’s not like she had no friends before she hung out with them. She had Liz, a girl she really liked, and she sold her down the drain to hang out with Anna, and I don’t understand why. I don’t understand why that is better than not being popular. Maybe it’s because I was alone most of the time in high school, but I don’t understand her at all, nor do I feel sorry for her.

I understood Regina’s anger, and I understood why wanted to get back at Kara so badly. I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t a little bit enjoy reading about some of the stuff she did to Kara, but I also can’t say that I thought that was a smart move. I don’t understand why she would go to someone she hated right after she’s almost raped, and I don’t know why she would let someone she hated talk her out of going to the police. Everything could have been avoided if she had done that. She could have gone to her parents at any point. Hell, she could have gone to a teacher.

That’s another thing that really bothered me about this book: I have a hard time believing parents and teachers are that blind. How do you beat someone up in the hall and not have a single teacher notice? Maybe things have changed since the time this book occurred (they did have payphones, after all), but my school always had teachers nearby, if not out in the hall with us. I guess that’s part of why this book bothered me so much. I have a hard time believing that could actually happen.

The only characters I sort of liked in this were Michael and Liz, but even they bothered me. Michael bothered me because he was too nice to Regina and started liking her (I think) way too soon. I can sort of excuse some of his behavior, but I still thought he was stupid. I really liked Liz until the end of the book. I liked how she refused to forgive Regina and told Michael he was stupid for trusting her. She was the only character who made any sense. And then she did something at the end of the book that “fixes” all of the problems, and that all seemed a bit rushed and out of character for everyone involved.

The fact that I’m spending so much time complaining about this book definitely says something about it. I have very strong negative feelings about this book, but it kept me reading until the end. I have definitely read some books where I didn’t care enough about the characters to keep reading. That is the only reason I marked this book as high as I did, even if my rating still isn’t that high.

Book Review: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

Title: The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver #1)
Author: E. Lockhart
Page Count: 229
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary YA

Rating: 9/10

Goodreads Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Ruby has had a rough ten days. During that time she:

* lost her boyfriend (#13 on the list)
* lost her best friend (Kim)
* lost all her other friends (Nora, Cricket)
* did something suspicious with a boy (#10)
* did something advanced with a boy (#15)
* had an argument with a boy (#14)
* had a panic attack
* lost a lacrosse game (she’s the goalie)
* failed a math test (she’ll make it up)
* hurt Meghan’s feelings (even though they aren’t really friends)
* became a social outcast (no one to sit with at lunch)
* had graffiti written about her in the girls’ bathroom (who knows what was in the
boys’!?!)

But don’t worry—Ruby lives to tell the tale. And make more lists.

Opinion:
I really enjoyed this book. This is definitely the sort of book that I would have wanted to read in high school. Ruby Oliver is such an interesting character. She makes a lot of mistakes in this novel, but for the most part I can at least understand where she’s coming from. I felt like I was the one getting the therapy while I reas reading this, which was actually sort of nice. I could relate to Ruby so much during some of those conversations with Doctor Z. I know how it feels to realize you’re making your mother’s mistakes. I know how it feels to think that something is going to happen with a boy and then have it not work out and not have any idea why.

I also really enjoyed reading about Ruby’s parents. I can’t remember the last book I read where the main character talked to both of her parents on a regular basis, let alone a book where the main character actually told her parents some of what was going on in her life. It was sort of nice to read about. Her parents also made me laugh. I’m sure I wouldn’t find their fights amusing if they were my parents, but they were fun to read about.

The set up of this book was bizarre. It jumps around a lot as far as the timeline is concerned, which was interesting but made it a little hard to keep the details straight, at least at first. I also had a hard time keeping up with all of the guys on her boyfriend list, but that’s just because I’m bad with names (at least the names of fictional characters).

There are also a lot of footnotes in this book, which I wasn’t expecting but really enjoyed for the most part. Ruby adds in footnotes when she wants to provide more information, and this information is usually highly entertaining. The only footnotes I didn’t really like were the ones where she explained some of the references she made, like when she explained the plot of Carrie and Nightmare on Elm Street. Maybe it’s just because I already got those references, but those footnotes sort of annoyed me.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. I’ve seen this book be compared to the Jessica Darling series, and I completely understand the comparison now. There’s no Marcus Flutie to swoon over, but reading about the ups and downs of Ruby’s life definitely reminded me of the other series. If you’re a fan of Sloppy Firsts, you might want to give this book a try.

Book Review: Bloom by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Bloom
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Page Count: 231
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary YA

Rating: 9/10

Goodreads Summary:
There’s a difference between falling and letting go.

Lauren has a good life: decent grades, great friends, and a boyfriend every girl lusts after. So why is she so unhappy?

It takes the arrival of Evan Kirkland for Lauren to figure out the answer: She’s been holding back. She’s been denying herself a bunch of things (like sex) because staying with her loyal and gorgeous boyfriend, Dave, is the “right” thing to do. After all, who would give up the perfect boyfriend?

But as Dave starts talking more and more about their life together, planning a future Lauren simply can’t see herself in — and as Lauren’s craving for Evan, and moreover, who she is with Evan becomes all the more fierce — Lauren realizes she needs to make a choice…before one is made for her.

Opinion:
If I had read this book a few years ago, I would have hated it. I would have hated Lauren for having a boyfriend who loves her and not realizing how lucky she was that she had someone, for having someone to call a best friend and not really listening to her. But now I totally get where she’s coming from. I can understand the fear. I can understand why she would stay with someone who makes her feel safe, even if he might not be the best person for her. I can understand why she hangs out with people she doesn’t like because she knows her boyfriend wants her to. I understand how she feels, and I can sympathize with her.

That doesn’t mean that I think Lauren always made the right decisions. I think it takes her a bit too long to figure some things out, and I think she was a bit unfair to Katie. However, just because I didn’t agree with her choices sometimes doesn’t mean that I thought there was something wrong with the book. We’ve all convinced ourselves of certain things and acted upon those assumptions, just to realize later that everything would have been better if we had just talked to someone.

I really liked this book. I normally can’t stand books where the main character has to choose between two guys, especially not when she’s already dating one of the guys, but I think it works here. Evan’s not just a random guy that she sees and instantly wants to be with. They have a bit of history, which explains her initial interest in him. And I can understand why she wouldn’t want to break up with Dave, especially when he’s always talking about their future and how much his parents love her. I can understand not wanting to hurt him, even though that’s exactly what she’s doing. Again, she might not make the best decisions, but I can understand why she makes them.

Book Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Title: The Future of Us
Author: Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Page Count: 356
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: YA Contemporary

Rating: 6/10

Goodreads Summary:
It’s 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They’ve been best friends almost as long – at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh’s family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they’re automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn’t been invented yet. And they’re looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they’re forced to confront what they’re doing right – and wrong – in the present.

Opinion:
I saw this book in the grocery store a while ago, but I wasn’t really interested in it at the time. Now, months later, I’ve read and loved a book by each of the authors (Thirteen Reasons Why and The Earth, My But, and Other Big Round Things), and I realized I had to read this book simply because I loved the other two books I read by these authors (separately). I was sure that a book written by the two of them would be fantastic.

I was wrong.

I didn’t completely hate this book. The characters were rather shallow and obsessed with members of the opposite gender, yes, but they’re sixteen year olds. I’m not saying there aren’t really mature sixteen year olds out there, but I’ve only been out of high school for five years. The majority of teenagers are obsessed with boys/girls and partying, and that’s what the majority of the teenagers in this book were. I found the side characters – Kellan, Tyson, and Sydney – rather interesting, and I was sorry that we didn’t get to see more of how their plot lines were resolved. One of the pieces of information Emma learned about Kellan halfway through the book was one of the main reasons I kept reading, and I was disappointed that we didn’t get to learn what happens to Kellan.

I was also disappointed with the main characters. Josh is in love with his best friend, who rejects him because she doesn’t want to ruin the friendship. That plot is hardly original, but in other circumstances it could have worked. I think I just didn’t really like Emma. I didn’t really know enough about her in the beginning to have her “big realization” at the end really mean anything. Her father left and started a new family, and his new baby daughter is apparently having health problems. Had these issues really been brought up in the beginning of the novel and been a recurring theme, maybe I would have cared about Emma more. She’s been hurt by her father and is worried about her sister and therefore doesn’t allow guys to get close to her. That I could have understood, but we don’t learn most of that information until the end of the book, and by that point it’s really too late.

The characters weren’t my only problem, though. The setting was a huge distraction. One of the reasons this book sounded interesting to me was because it was set in 1996, and the characters were somehow able to use Facebook. I may have been sort of young in the 90s (having been born in ’89), but I still have memories of the 90s, and I was looking forward to seeing how the time period played a part in the novel. However, it didn’t really work like I hoped it would. Maybe it’s just me, but the references seemed a bit too deliberate and not at all natural. At one point one of the characters actually refers to Gore as “Vice President Gore.” Again, maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never heard anyone ever refer to the vice president in such a way unless they were on TV or talking to the VP. I mean, I can’t imagine saying “Vice President Biden,” and I sure as hell never said “Vice President Cheney.” That was just the most obvious example, the one that stood out the most to me. The other references sort of fit with the story most of the time, but it seemed like the authors went out of their way to make them relevant sometimes, and it was rather distracting.

I think the biggest problem for me, though, was the lack of plot. I’m all for literary fiction and character-driven novels, but I still have to be waiting for something. Sometimes really interesting characters can make up for a lack of interesting plot, but in those cases I have to be interested in the characters, and I wasn’t really. I just spent most of the book watching Emma try to find her dream husband and wondering when something interesting was going to happen. The only parts that actually interested me (the information we learn about Kellan and David) never really went anywhere. I guess I was just hoping that the ending would make the whole experience worth it, and it didn’t do that.

Overall, I’m not entirely unhappy that I read this book. It taught me a lesson about what to include in my own novels, which was helpful. I also didn’t find the entire thing miserable to read. I may not have actively enjoyed most of it, but I didn’t completely hate it, either. It was entertaining enough, though it’s not really a book I would recommend to others. I just hope that others don’t judge these authors’ other work by this one.

Book Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Before I get to the actual review, I have to take a second to thank Raquelin for recommending this book!

Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Page Count: 236
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary YA

Rating: 10/10

Goodreads Summary:
Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan’s life. Having missed her flight, she’s stuck at JFK airport and late to her father’s second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley’s never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport’s cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he’s British, and he’s sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?

Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver’s story will make you believe that true love finds you when you’re least expecting it.

Opinion:
When I first heard about this book, I didn’t think I’d like it. I always scoff at the idea of love at first sight, and I’ve read so many reviews bashing the insta-love prevalent in YA novels, so the very notion of this book did not appeal to me at all. I had no plans of reading this until a friend recommended it to me, saying that it was adorable. Since I’m always more willing to try a book after someone I know recommends it, I decided to give it a chance.

I am so glad I did! Adorable really is the best word to describe this book. I love Hadley and Oliver. They’re so cute together, and I found the entire thing believable, even the parts I know I would never do. I didn’t always agree with some of the choices that Hadley made, but I’m still glad she made them. I liked that they got to know each other really well in the short time that they spent together. I don’t know what it is about this book, but it convinced me that they felt a real connection with each other.

But the relationship between Hadley and Oliver isn’t the only focus of this novel. Really, this novel is about Hadley and her father. I’ve seen a lot of reviews of this book bashing this relationship. We learn early on that Hadley’s father fell in love with another women and abandoned his family to move to London, and most of the reviewers seem to find this unforgivable and hate the fact that Hadley’s going to the wedding at all. However, I loved reading about this relationship. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been on the opposite end of this – where parents stayed together and fought all the time – but I could understand his choice, and I was definitely hoping for a reconciliation. Parent’s aren’t perfect. They make mistakes, and try as we might, we can’t stop loving them (most of the time – obviously there are some exceptions). I should also mention that while Hadley’s never met the woman her father is marrying, Hadley makes it clear that she’s the reason they never met, that both her father and her father’s new wife wanted to get together.

This was a really cute book. It was a fast read, as I kept wanting to see what was going to happen next. There’s not a hugely dramatic plot or anything, but that’s true of most contemporary YA books. If you’re looking for car chases and mystery, this isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking for a cute read about relationships and forgiveness and falling in love, you’ll probably really enjoy this book. I know I did.

Finding a process that works for me

Julie wrote a wonderful post the other day about the importance of being happy with what you’ve accomplished instead of always comparing yourself to other people. This is a great piece of advice, especially when you’re starting to doubt your ability as a writer.

I go through moments when I’m happy with my writing process and all that I’ve accomplished, and there are times when I’m not. For a while last year, I thought I was happy because I found a process that worked for me – write a first draft really fast, then throw it out and write a second draft really fast, and then edit that second draft. It wasn’t the process I wanted to have work for me, but it was what seemed to be working.

And then I started following more blogs and people on Twitter. I started realizing that it was time to get serious about writing if I ever wanted to actually get something published. I read articles on editing and saw what other people did. I read about people who took their first draft and fixed it and turned it into a good draft. And I thought, Hey, I can write like that, too! And I decided to try to change my writing process.

To be fair, part of this desire came from one of the novels I finished this past NaNo – LET GO. This is the novel that I started for NaNo 2008. I got about 10k in before I quit. I started it again in 2010 and got only a couple of thousand words in that time. Then I started it again for Camp NaNo 2012, and this time I liked what I was writing. I wrote the last 15-20k for 50k weekend during NaNo, and I ended up with a completed draft that I was actually quite happy with. I spent the end of November/beginning of December getting it ready for Pitch Wars, and I submitted it. I didn’t get chosen, but I learned a lot about writing and queries, and I found a whole slew of interesting people to follow on Twitter.

While all of that was wonderful, there was one thing that came about from all that that wasn’t so great – I got the idea that I could write a first draft that was good. I thought that since LET GO was decent the first time I wrote it, I must have outgrown my old process of write a draft and then throw it out and rewrite it completely. It’s like I forgot about the first two drafts that I started and threw out.

That’s why I was happy when I sat down to edit FOR REAL THIS TIME. I thought that it was a great first draft that just required a normal amount of editing, not a complete rewrite. So when I finally read over it and made a bunch of notes and realized that I did need to mostly start over, I was devastated. I felt like I was a failure, like I was regressing as a writer.

But you know what? I’m over that. I’m sitting here with 8 chapters and 20,000 words written for draft 2 of FOR REAL, and I’m really liking what I have so far. I’m not saying it’s the most amazing thing ever written, of course. I know it’s going to have to undergo one more round of edits before I try to show it to anyone. But you know what? I’m happy with it.

I’ve found a system that works for me. I write a first draft as fast as I can (in this case – 2 weeks). Then I leave it alone for about a month. Then I go through and edit it. I make a line edits and substantive edits. I know every single article written on this topic says not to do this, but you know what? I can’t help it. I went to college to be a copy editor. I was called a grammar Nazi in high school. I can’t read a novel with a pen in my hand and not fix errors when I see them.

When I finish this round of edits, I go about fixing the manuscript. In this case, that meant throwing out most of the book and rewriting it. Now, I will admit that I’ve kept more of this first draft than I thought I would. Some chapters were completely rewritten. Some were moved but kept mostly as they were. Others were added. I’m doing whatever that chapter calls for. The important thing, though, is that I’ve learned to stop doubting my process.

Would it be nice to be able to edit a draft and not have to rewrite almost all of it? Sure. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure if I end up rewriting all of this. That’s just what works best for me. That’s what I did in college with my creative writing classes. I would write a really fast draft of a story the night before it was due, and then I would throw that out and write a new draft, and I always ended up loving that second draft.

I need to stop doubting myself. I need to stop comparing myself to other people. I need to do what works for me and stop worrying that it’s not what other people do.

I set a goal for myself this month to finish the second draft of FOR REAL THIS TIME. My goal was to write one chapter a day every day of the month, starting Jan. 11, which was the day after I finished the outline for it. I ended up missing one day, but I also combined two chapters, so I’m still on track to finish on time. I’m not doing this as fast as I wrote the first draft, but it’s working for me – and that’s what matters.

Book Review: Bound (Mirrors of Bershan #1) by J. Elizabeth Hill

Title: Bound ( Mirrors of Bershan #1)
Author: J. Elizabeth Hill
Page Count: 377
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 8/10

Goodreads Summary:
“Doesn’t she know you can’t do real magic alone?”

Freshly graduated from the Voleno Academy, Faylanna Derrion is trying to find her solitary place in a world where she and her fellow Magicia are expected to find their magical partner as soon as possible. When her mentor and his partner are taken by a terrible darkness before her eyes, her flight to find help brings Tavis into her life. Can she learn to see him as more than a simple farmer or will she accede to her father’s demands to return to her family’s home, following a path others have laid out for her? Can she choose her own course, after a lifetime of refusing to bind herself to anyone?

Opinion:
I can’t remember the last time I read such a character-driven fantasy novel. There’s definitely a plot, of course, and there is a lot of suspense, especially once you hit the last third of the novel, but it’s the characters that really kept me reading. The characters make mistakes sometimes (in some cases a lot of the time), but they’re realistic, and most of them mean well. Even the side characters, which are often two-dimensional, had developed backstories and traits that made them more interesting to read about. I really enjoyed getting to know the characters.

I also liked how the characters themselves created a lot of the drama and suspense. Some novels focus on huge plot devices to keep the readers guessing; Hill uses the characters’ emotions a lot of the time. A character will say something that sounds completely innocent/normal, but they’ll say it with fear or some other emotion they don’t normally show, and then I’m intrigued in a much more interesting way that I would have been if if an event had taken place. That’s not to say, though, that there aren’t suspenseful events, as well, because there are. I just think that this novel particularly shines when it’s dealing with characters and their reactions to things.

I was a bit afraid of the dueling love interests in this novel, but this is one of the few novels I’ve read where the conflicting emotions make sense. There’s a lot of magic involved, and many of the things that sort of bothered me as I was reading made more sense at the end of the novel, which was nice. I still think that Fay and Tavis’s relationship progressed a bit more quickly than really made sense to me, but I will attribute a good deal of that to the society they live in and all the magic that goes along with that.

The magic was another thing that I enjoyed reading about. There didn’t seem to be particular spells, or at least not spells with names and wand waving and things like that. The magic is more natural, almost. It’s still something that has to be taught, of course, but it’s more subtle than the magic I’ve seen in a lot of other books, which was definitely interesting.

The only thing that really bothered me about this novel was the editing. Some of the things that bothered me were things that I’m sure wouldn’t bother most other people (after all, I did read through several of the Harry Potter books with a pencil in my hand, fixing all of the misplaced commas and adding semicolons where I felt they should have gone). That said, there were a few instances where a word was missing or where the punctuation was clearly wrong, and that took me out of the story a little.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed this novel. I loved getting to know Faylanna and Tavis and all of the other characters, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to them. I eagerly await the next installment in the trilogy.

Finally making progress

Okay, it’s only taken me a week and a half, but I’ve finally finished the outline for draft 2 of For Real This Time. This seems to be a recurring theme with me: I write a novel, think that this is going to be the time that the first draft is really good, print out the novel, make a bunch of comments and edits, and then go back and decide to just start over anyway. Although, I am happy to say that there are some scenes that I will be keeping. That’s a big step for me. Usually I just toss the whole thing and then rewrite the scenes that I mostly like. Granted, I haven’t started writing yet, so it’s still possible that that could happen, but I’m going to try to be optimistic right now. Plus, there really were quite a few scenes from the first draft that I liked.

The first draft was 17 chapters long, and we didn’t even see the love interest until chapter 9. Draft 2 will be 21 chapters, and we mention the love interest briefly in chapter one and meet him in chapter 6. That’s still a bit later than I would have liked, but the story is more set up for the introduction now. I’ve also spaced out some of the events. The first draft was horrible in terms of pacing. I liked the beginning, where we got to know Maggie and what she wanted most out of life, but after that, the novel sort of lost it. The middle section took up a lot of time and attention, but not a lot really happened. One minute she’s meeting Parker for the first time, and the next minute the summer’s over and the story is wrapping up. It was horrible, and there were a lot of loose ends and events that didn’t really make sense, or events that were alluded to but never actually happened, even though they should have. This version will be a lot better, as I believe I’ve fixed most of those problems.

One of the problems with my writing is that it’s usually very one-dimensional. I always love my main characters and want to see them grow and learn, but I don’t always write the most interesting ways for them to get what they want. I think that’s why I usually gravitate toward literary fiction – there’s still a plot with those novels, of course, but it’s less of a factor. In literary fiction, you’re allowed to have a character sit in a chair for hours, reflecting on life, and have that be the only thing that happens in that chapter. The same can’t be said for books in any other genre. You actually have to balance a bunch of different storylines, and that’s not something I have a lot of practice in, I’m afraid.

When I was in middle school and early high school, I wrote a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction. I actually wrote several of them that had plots that were at least semi-interesting. And then I started to write romantic fan fiction, and my stories lost something. I would focus on the romantic aspect and ignore everything else. I would have Harry’s friends turn against him because it was easier to write the story without having to worry about including them. I think that’s the main reason that the last book I read, The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden, reminds me so much of fan fiction – because it’s really only about the romance. There are side characters who show up and talk to the main characters, sure, and Callie and Kayden both have issues in their past/present to overcome, but the majority of the novel is focused on their relationship, and that’s exactly like my fan fiction used to be.

I think that’s why it took me so long to do this outline: there were so many different threads to keep track of. There was the main storyline of Maggie’s quest to lose weight. There was her friendship with Parker, which she hopes will become something more. There are her best friends. There’s drama with her parents and her extended family. There are the people at school and in her neighborhood who were mean to her. Some of those are more important than others, of course, but they all had to be included, and that was more work than I’m used to. It’s good work, of course. I’m happy to do it, and now that I’ve finally figure out what I’m doing, it’s fun. I know that this is what it takes to be a successful writer who’s happy with her work. It just took a bit longer than I was expecting.

I have 10 novels that I want to work on this year – the five that I want to edit, the four that I want to finish, and a new one that came to me the other day that I can’t get out of my head. I’m hoping to work on one each month, with the extra two months as sort of a cushion in case I don’t make it. Since this month’s novel is obviously For Real This Time, I should really get around to rewriting it now that I’m done with the outline. One chapter a day for the rest of the month, and I should be able to finish this, especially since I am keeping some of what I already have written.

Book Review: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen

I feel a bit guilty including this as the first book that I read in the new year, as I read most of it in the past several days, trying to bring my 2012 total to 50, but I guess that’s okay. Now I’m starting the year with 1/52 books and 1/10 NA books read. There was a big sale a few days ago on YA/NA novels, and I found this for free and decided to give it a shot.

Title: The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden
Author: Jessica Sorensen
Page Count: 296
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: New Adult Contemporary

Rating: 6/10

Summary:
There are those who don’t get luck handed to them on a shiny platter, who end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, who don’t get saved.

Luck was not on Callie’s side the day of her twelfth birthday when everything was stolen from her. After it’s all over, she locks up her feelings and vows never to tell anyone what happened. Six years later her painful past consumes her life and most days it’s a struggle just to breathe.

For as long as Kayden can remember, suffering in silence was the only way to survive life. As long as he did what he was told, everything was okay. One night, after making a terrible mistake, it seems like his life might be over. Luck was on his side, though, when Callie coincidentally is in the right place at the right time and saves him.

Now he can’t stop thinking about the girl he saw at school, but never really knew. When he ends up at the same college as Callie, he does everything he can to try to get to know her. But Callie is reserved and closed off. The more he tries to be part of her life, the more he realizes Callie might need to be saved.

Opinion:
I’m not really sure what to make of this book. There were definitely parts that I liked. I liked Callie and Kayden and their best friends, Seth and Luke. I liked watching as Callie and Kayden dealt with their problems in their own ways. I’ve read a lot of stories where people have been hurt in the past and then miraculously get over it as soon as they find someone, and I’m happy to say that that’s not the case here. Their pasts weren’t just erased. I liked watching as they got to know each other more and fell in love.

That said, there were many aspects of this book that I didn’t like. First, Callie’s secret and the identity of the person who hurt her are extremely obvious, and I’m not sure if it was supposed to be or not. Kayden’s secret, as well, was fairly obvious. I also found it a bit strange that Kayden’s obsessing about the girl who saved him and then didn’t recognize her when he saw her, though his best friend did. Supposedly he didn’t recognize her because she had changed so much, but if his friend could recognize her, I feel like Kayden should have, as well.

There were a lot of typos and left out words in this novel, which might not bother other people but definitely bothered me. I found the entire story predictable and sort of clichéd. That’s not to say that it was a horrible story, though. Even though it was obvious, I still enjoyed reading it. If you’re looking for a new, original story, one that makes you think about life and question the way you view others, this definitely isn’t for you. If, however, you’re looking for an easy read about people dealing with serious problems, you might want to give this one a chance.