The lovely Colby Marshall, who you met last month, invited me over to her neck of the internet. Pop on by to learn a few of my favorites, what I’d rescue in a fire, and something you might be surprised to learn about me.
Because who doesn’t love shenanigans?
You guys! I have an honest-to-goodness review and giveaway over on JeanBookNerd.com!
This is my favorite part of the review:
The decision to place this gift onto teenage Biz is brilliant. She is in the prime of her teenage years where discovery is a major part. What better way to tell this story as Biz discovers and learns her talent.
That’s EXACTLY what I wanted people to take from the story! It’s like that meme on Facebook about literature teachers completely misinterpreting the author’s intention, except she got it right.
So, if you STILL haven’t read FLICKER (really?) go check out the interview and enter to win a copy lovingly signed by me!
I’d like you to meet my friend Colby Marshall. (isn’t she adorable?) We first met blogging when I still lived in Mexico and Colby was in the middle of a challenge to blog every day for one year. I was immediately entranced with her obsession with hippopotami and spitting llamas, and I’m thrilled to feature her on Hoosblog!
Without further ado, here’s Colby!
Google for Writers
Google is probably both the best and the worst thing that ever happened to writers. Particularly mystery and thriller writers. Let me tell you why.
When William March wrote The Bad Seed, his classic thriller about a mother who begins to suspect her child of sinister tendencies, in 1954, he couldn’t simply pull out his iphone and call up the latest research on nature versus nurture. He couldn’t run an online search for the hallmark signs of psychopathy to “write into” Rhoda Penmark. Granted, he needn’t use the word ‘psychopath’ for everyone who picked up the novel to know that little girl was one conscienceless piece of work. On the one hand, this is an ugly thought. What would I do any time I needed to find the answer to how to poison someone without any investigator or M.E. being the wiser? How would I figure out the best angle of a gunshot wound to make blood spatter in a certain direction? And how would I know what sorts of criteria for these internet searches lands me on government watch lists?
And yet, one can’t help but feel sorry for March. Why? Because I know exactly how I would learn these answers if not for Google: the time consuming, tedious, and often frightening world of real-life interviews and experience. If that’s the case, to have gotten so many of the chilling details of Rhoda’s personality right, he had to have either interviewed some creepy humans, or worse, been unfortunate enough to know a psychopath himself. Then again, Google searches didn’t keep me from knowing one in person, but I digress…
That said, while Google has some amazing perks for writers, it might be the worst thing to happen to writers since liquor stores started closing on Sundays in most states. After all, if agents, editors, critics, and fans can’t readily double-check whether or not your details about the Bigfoot sighting of Australia in 1914 are accurate or not, chances are, they will simply either trust that the author’s facts are correct or suspend any disbelief they might have for the sake of a good story.
Now, with the rise of search engines more powerful than Joan Rivers’ botox, novels like The Da Vinci Code that are set in the real world could never exist unless the settings and details used to forward the novel have been researched to a fault. It’s a beautiful and terrible thing. When authors can turn out a product that nails every detail and the Da Vinci Codes of the world are born, the difficulty level of the constraints skyrockets the quality of the thriller. However, the majority of books fall somewhere short of that level of research perfection, so otherwise wonderful stories are put down, shunned by critics, and sometimes never read at all because of that little devil in the details. I personally love research, since I feel it takes my work to a new level, but even so, I have my moments when I wish I were in the days of no Google or smartphones where I could imagine what I think I’d wear in sub-arctic temperatures, and most people wouldn’t be the wiser.
What do you think: do the benefits of being able to Google almost anything outweigh the problems with it?
Thanks Colby! Now, everyone run off and buy her book!
I’d love it if you spread the word, buy, and if you’ve read it, post a review. Word of mouth is the best way for more people to meet Biz and I appreciate all your help!
The story moves at a quick pace as you’re drawn into Biz’s world right from the first page, and an intriguing world at that. One that blends paranormal elements seamlessly into everyday life, before taking you into the depths of a mystery with an unexpected climax. Above all, Biz’s thoughts and experiences shine through on each page, giving her character an authenticity that will connect you with the story and her life. Also, the author honors her readers by wrapping up loose ends before teasing with what’s to come in the sequel ‘Fracture.’ Overall, ‘Flicker’ is a fantastic YA novel.
– Bella Bowie
The thing I like most about the book is that the concept is really unique. What if you could have a seemingly limitless supply of do-overs? What would you do over? The female character exhibits a lot of positive attributes which is sometimes lacking in YA fiction and means a lot to me as a mother of two girls. Mom to mom, I am going to let my 12-year-old read it–there’s nothing stronger than kissing, some “strong” language, but nothing she isn’t hearing at school. I’m looking forward to the sequel and I’m sure my daughter will be when she reads it.
– Montessori Mama “bigeyeblue”
As a 39 year old man with several teenaged children, I feel qualified to say that `Flicker’ is a book with the potential to produce a true genre-busting YA franchise.
Like the Twilight series, the protagonist is a teen girl with a complicated life reflected in sometimes moody prose. However, the similarities between `Flicker’ and `Twilight’ end there, as Hooyenga avoids turning `Flicker’ into the dumbed down literary lollipop of Bella’s world (yes, I admit, I read Twilight).
Instead, `Flicker”s Biz leaps off the page as an authentic, complex, honest rendition of a teenager struggling with friendships, her parents, new romance, school pressures….oh, and that whole `flickering’ thing.
Ms. Hooyenga shows impressive skill in character development, narrative voice, and story pacing. This is a tremendous first effort by an author worth watching!
– Scott Brew
I still can’t quite believe it. FLICKER is REAL.
I was home eating lunch when the UPS man plopped a box full ‘o books on my front porch–a week before I expected them. I’m so thrilled with how they turned out!
Here’s the buying info:
I’m still working on making it available on iTunes (they have a few extra hoops to jump through) and I’m putting the final touches on a few interviews. Soon the entire world will get their Flicker on. Bwahahahaha!
I should have done this post last week and saved the NaNo update for the final day of the competition, but since when do I do things in the proper order?
Over the past week I’ve thought a lot about the things for which I’m thankful. Pretty much every aspect of my life has changed in the past year, almost all for the better, and I think I’ve finally closed the door on the chapter of my life that had dominated me for far too long.
In no particular order:
I adore my apartment. I’ve been in my place for almost six months and I absolutely love it. There’s a dog park for Owen, lots of trees, and soothing wall colors.
My new job is better than I could have hoped for. I’ve just started the actual work, but I love the atmosphere, the people, the perks… and the fact that it’s in Grand Rapids is icing on the paycheck.
I’ve gone public with my design business. Ink Slinger Designs is alive and kicking after YEARS of half-hearted freelance work. I’ve always known I wanted to specialize in something but couldn’t pinpoint my niche. Book covers feel like the perfect fit AND they’re fun to design.
The Book of Good is still going strong. I haven’t talked about here like I’d originally intended, but I’ve written in it just about every day this year. It’s a journal where I have to write at least three good things that happened each day. When things were especially difficult last winter, I decided that forcing myself to find even the tiniest good things would help me see past all the bad, and it’s really helped. I don’t allow myself to write anything negative (although I admit I’ve written “I didn’t kill so-and-so today” and “I survived today”), no matter how strong the urge. That’s what my regular journal is for.
My friends got agents, have been published, or are about to be! Including:
Stacey Graham – Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide
June Kramin (as Ann T. Bugg) – Before Happily Ever After
Trish Stewart – Taking Lessons from Ernest
Jamie Mason – The Liar’s Margin
My mom gets to retire next summer. Her excitement is contagious.
I finally feel like I’m home and part of a community. When I first returned to the US, I didn’t have any intention of staying here. When I got divorced and signed a lease of my very own, I thought maybe I’d stick around for another year. Well I’m happy to report I’m slowly making real life friends (gasp!), I’ve joined activities away from the computer, and I’m looking forward to staying in west Michigan.
Writing. Unfortunately writing has fallen behind everything else going on, but I still consider myself a writer and have high hopes for my writing career in the next year.
This past year was just a warm-up.
You know those quotes at the beginning of books that praise the author and her writing? I’m going to be one!
I reviewed Kelly Meding’s book As Lie the Dead last August, and apparently her publisher (or someone involved with the process…) thought my exuberance deserves to be shared. This is so cool!
The third book in Kelly’s series, Another Kind of Dead comes out August 2nd and you can bet I will read it as soon as possible!
On June 4th, the Wall Street Journal published an article by Meghan Cox Gurdon titled Darkness Too Visible, in which she states, “teen fiction can be like a hall of fun-house mirrors, constantly reflecting back hideously distorted portrayals of what life is. There are of course exceptions, but a careless young reader—or one who seeks out depravity—will find himself surrounded by images not of joy or beauty but of damage, brutality and losses of the most horrendous kinds.”
She declares that the “dark issues” covered in many of today’s young adult novels can put ideas in young people’s minds, causing them to do things they may never have considered. Let me tell you—I haven’t been a teenager for almost 20 years, but I had plenty of warped ideas without the help of literature. It’s absurd to make the assumption that life in general—whether it be from peers, adults, or strangers—isn’t teaching teenagers about the harshness and cruelty that exists in society.
It’s these issues that draw people to teen fiction. Being able to read about someone else enduring the same horrors as you, whether it’s rape, the murder of a loved one, or being dumped three days before prom, helps readers feel less alone. I read Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers a couple months ago and it gave me insight into my teenage self that helped me as an adult. I can only imagine how powerful that could be to a confused sixteen-year old.
Personally, I seek out non-paranormal stories about normal teenagers dealing with normal stuff. I enjoy reading about the sweetness of first love, and I find that in YA. But I’ve read plenty of darker books, and have been surprised by how strongly they resonate with me. I never would have imagined enjoying books about angels and reapers and dystopian fights to the death, but instead of judging the books, I read them and formed my own opinion. Best of all, my writing has improved because of the diversity of my reading.
The WSJ article concludes by saying, “The book business exists to sell books; parents exist to rear children, and oughtn’t be daunted by cries of censorship. No family is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children’s lives.” I couldn’t agree more. But Ms.Gurdon seems to have missed the point entirely. My friends with children take an active role with their children’s lives and make a point to know what they’re reading; many actually read the books first. It’s up to parents to know their children and what they’re mature enough to read.
And for those kids who don’t have an adult like that in their lives, the community of young adult authors is here to step in.
Two other rebuttals worth reading:
Teen Fiction Accused of Being ‘Rife’ with Depravity – The Guardian
#YASAVES – Allison Brennan, Murderati
I’ve finally started reading on my new Kindle and the verdict is: it rocks.
I assumed I’d adapt easily enough—I read on the computer all day long and the Kindle’s e-ink is designed to be even easier on the eyes—plus it’s so light you forget you’re holding a book. But the best part, and the one I hadn’t thought about, is how easy it is to read in bed.
I do the majority of my reading before I go to sleep and usually roll from one side to the other as I turn the pages. Or I stay on one side and get a hand cramp. On the Kindle, the page turn buttons on either side of the device mean you can turn the page with a slight pressure from your thumb—no flipping necessary! I laid comfortably on one side for HOURS (thanks Suzanne Collins). Win!
There are a few books that I still plan to get in physical form (Grammar Girl’s Quick & Dirty Tips, to name one) but this transition will be a lot smoother—and quicker—than I expected.
Do you have a Kindle? What’s your favorite thing about it?
And if you don’t want one, what’s your reason?
I’ve talked before about my lack of detail when describing characters, and a lot of that comes from my dislike of books that over-describe people. I usually don’t care what they’re wearing, how their hair is styled, or what their makeup looks like — unless it’s crucial to the story. I form a mental image very early on, and I end up ignoring anything the author says that conflicts with what my mind comes up with.
I was vaguely aware that I do this, but never verbalized it until I was critiquing a friend’s novel a couple months ago. We were discussing something about the love interest and she said something about him having blond hair.
“He has blond hair?” I asked.
She looked at me, dumbfounded, probably wondering if I’d actually read the thing.
I rushed to explain. “I don’t like guys with blond hair so if a character is described with having blond hair, I just pretend it’s brown. I don’t even realize I’m doing it.”
I was reminded of this when she posted a picture that reminds her of her MC, and I had to ask which boy it was since, in my head, both her male characters have brown hair. Oops.
Do you have any weird reading quirks? I’m sure someone will talk about skimming long passages and I have to tell you that just hurts my head.