Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Club--The Secret Year

Side note: Vote in the poll to the right for your favorite template.

It's here! Weeks of waiting and we finally get to discuss that little bitty book. And truly, at 192 pages, this book can easily be read in an afternoon. Though I would pick that afternoon carefully because the subject matter got a little serious in some parts.

As this is a book discussion and not a review, I'm going to get right into it, with plenty of spoilers. If you haven't read it, this isn't the place to get little tidbits to help you decide on whether to get it or not. However, if you want to read the post anyway, enjoy!

There was a lot that I liked about this book. For one, I liked the simple, clear style of writing. Though the author is a woman, I really believed that I was in the head of a teenage boy. That being said, the innocent little girl in me was continuously surprised at how quickly the characters jumped into bed with each other. Maybe I am really naive, or maybe I was lucky to grow up around country gentlemen, but the progression from kissing straight to sex every single time started to seem unrealistic.

Despite all this, I truly believed that Colt was in love with Julia. And that whole relationship was really what kept me reading. Here is this young boy, just coming to terms with how much he loved this girl, finding out how much she loved him, and she's dead. His attempt to move on and failure to do so was really heartbreaking. I was so upset when it didn't work out with Kirby. Part of me secretly wanted him to stay faithful to the dead Julia, while the other part was hoping that the sweet little girl who knew everything and was willing to work through it with him would be enough. Sadly, neither part of me won. Eventually, he did let go of the dead girl, but it was too late--he had already pushed Kirby away.

What about you? Were you rooting for Kirby? Syd? And what about Colt's brother and the whole Thanksgiving revelation?


~Emily White

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Bit About Me--My Men

I know that I said I was going to put the poll up on Friday, but there were a couple of them that I just ultimately didn't like. So instead, this is the last template choice and now you have from now until Friday to vote. I'm letting you guys choose, so make sure to make your opinion known!

Now about my men...

Yes, I have two gorgeous little boys who smother me with kisses and love each and every day. I'm a lucky woman. The blonde one is Gabriel (2 1/2 years) and the wild and crazy brunette is Elijah (10 months). They are my bittersweet babies. I told you on Monday that I would tell you today why I'm having a hard time writing a particular scene. Well, the reason is because I'm actually the mother of four little children. Both of those handsome little boys up there would not be alive today if I hadn't lost their siblings before them.

Each time I thank God for my little miracles, my happy thoughts are tinged with guilt. How could I possibly be grateful for the circumstances that brought these children to me? But how can I possibly not be overjoyed that they are in my life? Bittersweet.

My first one was due on April 26th, three years ago. This is a particularly hard time of year for me, so trying to write a scene where the character describes how he lost his children is getting to me. And yet, if I hadn't lost him, I wouldn't be able to know the joy that is Gabriel. And Gabriel is wonderful. He is amazingly well-behaved for a two year old, though he does attempt to manipulate me quite often. He knows that his puppy dog eyes and kisses can get me to forget that I told him to do something rather easily.

My third child was due on January 19th a little over a year ago. That particular date makes me feel especially guilty because it is the day after my birthday. I don't feel right being happy when I should be mourning. And yet, I am often happy because Elijah is my little sweetheart, my bear. His wild 'do makes me laugh all the time. I'm never going to be able to cut it off.

There are times when I feel like an absolute monster and an utter failure for not doing enough to keep my children alive. But most of the time I know that it was out of my hands and I couldn't have done anything to change the circumstances. I don't know why God chose to have me lose two of my children, but I can't be mad about it. I've learned so much from the experience and I have Gabriel and Elijah--my little gifts--to be thankful for.

So today's post is going to be dedicated to the little ones I never got to name, but know as "my most precious ones" in my heart.

~Emily White

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teenage Slang--Oh How I Hate Thee

Just three more days of the template experiment. Todays' theme is the Swirly Blue theme. Check in on Friday for the poll.

I'm not a fan of non-words that are meant to make the speaker sound cool, and I never have been. Just the other day I was watching a movie and one of the teenage characters said "chillax," and I shuddered. My stomach has been twisted into a knot ever since. I remember a phrase growing up that always gave me the same reaction: My bad. Ugh. I'm cringing right now just thinking about it.

The writer in me just rebels against this disgusting use of the English language. At times, I feel motivated to go on a crusade to purge the world of the slang infidels! Okay, yes, I go overboard. But it really gets to me and I have no problem calling someone out on it when they say something stupid like that in front of me. Some might call it cruel, obsessive, or nit-picky, but I call it attention to detail.

And you know what? If you're writing YA, you should most definitely stay away from using slang. Though "chillax" may be cool to say today, in a decade or so the next generation is going to laugh at anyone who actually said it. And dating your book like that is a very bad thing.

And uber. Uber is bad too. *shudder*

~Emily White

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Update on Aurumenas

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I'm still trying on new templates. This theme we'll call the Book theme. I've got three more that I want to try out and then I'll put up the poll.

Revisions are going slowly but steadily. I haven't quite finished chapter five yet. When I first started writing it, I knew that this section was pivotal to one character's development, but I had no idea that it was pivotal to two of them. I was really stupid for avoiding this scene. I'll be honest, writing this is kind of making me depressed. One of the characters is going through his tragic past and it's really affecting me. I'll admit that I'm trying to avoid it. But I must write, or else I'm going to be stuck on this chapter forever. Sigh. Let's just say that something happened to him that I swore I would avoid in my writing because I knew the pain too personally. It's bringing up some bad memories, which I'm actually going to get to on Wednesday in my one day early About Me post.

Why is it going to be one day early? Because this Thursday is the Book Club! I know that all of you are eager to get to discussing and so am I.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

~Emily White

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Bit About Me-My Tattoo

First, I want to mention that today's post has been inspired by Justine Dell. She's been sharing her stories behind her tattoos and I thought I would do the same.

Second, this is another possible template I may go with. Let's call yesterday's the Blue Theme, and today's is the Bubble Theme. I know that the background is black, but it seemed a bit more subdued and I thought perhaps it might be easier to read because of that. I've got a few more templates that I'll be trying out for a few more days, so make sure you keep checking in to vote in the poll.

Now...on with the post!

That pretty little thing you see above has quite the story behind it. I was in college at the time and let me just say that college is when I rebelled the most. I didn't really rebel like most teens rebel, but it was enough for me to classify that time of my life as rebellion. Throughout my entire childhood and early teen years, I was definitely a goody-two-shoes. I never did anything to make my parents worry one bit and I always put everyone ahead of me. Well, when I started my second semester of college, I started hanging out with a different kind of crowd-the Theater crowd.

There's a lot of different sorts in the theater crowd and I was struggling to belong. I changed a lot about myself to fit in in those days. And I fell head over heals for a tall, dark, and handsome Italian boy who wore chains, band t-shirts, and deliciously baggy pants. To please him, I started wearing tight pleather, spiked collars, and a host of other punk related apparel. Well, we dated for a few months and I fell in love. And then he cheated on me, so I dumped him. It was heartbreaking, but the next few weeks were utter hell.

Apparently (and unbeknownst to me), I had developed quite a following while dating this bad boy. Boys who I thought were just my friends started piling around me like ants on a candy bar. One of them even broke up with his girlfriend of four years who he was going to propose to, just to ask me out. I felt like a schmuck. I didn't even want to go to school anymore because I felt like I had to perform and pretend I liked these people more than I did.

So one day, I decided I was going to get that tattoo I had been thinking about for years because it was something I wanted--it was just for me. I hadn't decided what exactly I wanted, but I knew I wanted it to mean something. I'm not one of those people who can just show up at a tattoo parlor and pick a picture off the wall.

My parents were completely against it. Yes, I was nineteen, but I still cared what they thought. I had been raised in a conservative Christian household and they just couldn't see why I would want to defile my body like that. So, I prayed about it and got an answer I wasn't quite expecting. I decided to go with the inscription around the ring in The Lord of the Rings, with one change. Instead of one ring, it says one God. Now, when I explain that to people, I tend to get looks like I'm crazy. But I was going through a lot of stuff during this time in my life and I really felt like I was being attacked. This inscription is a reminder that God is in charge of everything, and even those who attack me have to answer to Him some day.

For those who don't know what the inscription says: One God to rule them all, one God to find them, one God to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

How about you? Any stories behind your skin art?

~Emily White

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Breakin' da Rules, Breakin' da Rules

First, you may notice that the blog looks a little different. Well, I'm doing some remodeling after I decided that I just couldn't bear to look at pink on black anymore. My eyes have been going all buggy lately and I need something that's easier to look at. I'm sure you'll appreciate that too. That being said, I'm not entirely decided on which template to go with. This one seems nice enough, but I don't know if it's necessarily easier on the eyes. I'm counting on you guys to let me know. :)
I may do a daily change for a week or so, then put up a poll, so make sure you check in everyday so that you can vote.

Now, on to the gist of this post. A couple of you mentioned after yesterday's post your undying love for adverbs. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Let me make myself perfectly clear here...I love rule breakers. Mark Twain just happens to be one of my favorite writers because he broke the rules (frequently), but he did it right. A lot of writers, new and old, don't know what they're doing when it comes to the rules. They break them, but it's not for stylistic reasons. Instead, they just don't know what they're doing.

Let's start with the adverb. It's a pesky little thing that gets a lot of writers into trouble. Like a siren's call, it lures us with its perfect simplicity. But if we're not careful, we can become overzealous and saturate our works with those nasty "ly"s.

Why should they be avoided? Two reasons. One, they are typically found in dialogue tags. And as everyone knows, dialogue tags can slow a work down. Second, there's a 98% chance that you can find a much better, much more powerful verb to get your point across. We may think that when we write "forcefully," "slowly," "pathetically," etc. that we're being very strong with our word usage, but that's just not the case. And quite often, adverbs can shackle us with lazy writing. Think about what those three examples mean. How does someone do something forcefully, slowly, or pathetically? Show what this looks like rather than just telling us it happened.

That being said, this post is about breaking the rules, and I am an advocate of using the proper adverb at the proper time in the proper work. First, know your audience. If you're writing an adult book, keep the usage light (and only after you've considered all other descriptions, and have decided this is best). If you're writing at a lower reading level, you have to keep it simple. That means adverbs are allowed to come out and play a bit more often.

Run-on sentences, flowery prose that compares two separate things, a plethora of commas, etc. are equally shunned by many a writing community, but I say study them and use them when you're ready.

How do you know when you're ready? Well, if you have a run-on sentence because it's in keeping with your narrator's voice, this is good. If you have it because you didn't know how to shut up, this is bad. If your prose is flowery during a particularly intense scene where you want your reader to fall head-long into your world and never surface, this is good. If you have multiple paragraphs where you're trying to get the reader to understand what you're talking about by using comparisons, but never getting to the darn point, this is bad. And so on and so forth.

The best way to know you're ready to break the rules is when you know how to argue your point, rather than just saying, "but I like it. I think it's pretty." I was there for the longest time and I'm just now starting to grasp the art behind writing. It is an art, and there have been many beloved books that didn't stray from the rules, but they never really challenged future writers, either.

Compare writing to painting. For years, portraits centered around the hard and fast physical rules of reality. If you painted a person, it had to look like its subject when you were done. If artists had always clung to those rules, we would never have been able to enjoy Picasso's or Dali's works. Sadly, some artists have forgotten that you should never completely disregard the rules and we have entire paintings in museums that consist of one color (apparently, they're supposed to convey an emotion). My two year old could have painted those.

No, rules must never be completely ignored, but they should be played with, and bent when the situation calls for it. So study them, know them inside and out, and when you're ready, bend them to your will. Mwahahahaha! (just had to add that in there :) )

~Emily White

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adverbs Are Like Chocolate Syrup

I love analogies, so here's one for you:

Adverbs are like chocolate syrup...too much and you'll just get nauseous.

~Emily White

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Update on Aurumenas

Things are still going very smoothly. I'm working on chapter five this week. Actually, this is the new, never before written chapter five that will push the previous one to chapter six. It's a scene that I always had in my head, but never wrote down. It was silly, really, because this particular scene is pivotal to a certain character's development. I don't know why I never wrote it--perhaps it was just laziness.

At this point, I seem to be getting one chapter done a week. I really want to get up to at least two, perhaps three a week at some point, but for now, my kids are being demanding.

Nathadria is pleased with me for letting her tell her own story, so she's been cooperating nicely. The other characters, Meir and Malik, are having a great deal of fun at her expense, so they've been easy to work with as well.

Nathadria's love interest is about to make his first appearance, and I'm really excited about revising that part. I've got some wonderful ideas brewing in my head that are itching to be put down on paper. I just have to keep reminding myself to be patient.

There's nothing much more than that. I'm still plugging away, and loving every minute of it.

By the way, just ten more days until the Book Club for The Secret Year. I received my copy last week and finished it in four hours (this is an estimation as I didn't finish it in consecutive hours--I wish my family was that cooperative!). There's only 192 pages to the whole thing--too easy to finish.

If you haven't gotten your copy yet, get to it!

~Emily White

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Bit About Me--Obsessions

I've been feeling a strong desire to reveal some things about myself to you, my lovely readers. I don't know why. It almost feels like I'm trying to get something off my chest. Like, "well, now you know why I'm this way." Haha!

I tend to think I'm a rather odd person; quirky, but downright adorable. :) Maybe it's my quirky little self that wants to reveal all my deep, dark secrets. Dun, dun, dun!

So today we'll start with my obsessive behavior...

Throughout my entire life, I've had a rather vivid imagination. Growing up in the country as the baby of the family whose siblings are six and eight years older than me, I was forced to play with myself a lot. None of my neighbors (who lived on the other side of the woods that surrounded my house) had children my age. It was a lonely life, but I loved it. I would play in the woods for hours, pretending I was in some mystical fairy land or pre-colonial America, braving the great wilderness, searching for adventures. Sometimes, I would ride my bike up and down my driveway for hours, pretending I was on some cross-country voyage.

It was awesome.

But this imaginative spirit always drew me to different movies or books that would particularly spark my interest and get my mind reeling. There are four great obsessions that I've lived through in my life--one of them, I'm living through right now.

The first one lasted for years and got me through a particularly trying time in my childhood. I can't remember my exact age, but I do know that I was in elementary school when it started and it lasted really up until my sophomore year. This particular obsession was triggered by a movie (in fact, all but this last one have been). You'll laugh but that's okay. It was The Mighty Ducks. It's okay, I'll give you a minute...

Done laughing yet?


I don't know what it was about those movies that got me so addicted. Perhaps it was the comradeship between all the members in the team--something I was lacking. I loved the idea of belonging to a group, rather than being the outcast. So for a while, I let my mind roam and pretend I was a part of that. I even had all the characters' names memorized, plus their real names, and their jersey numbers. I was a sad little girl. *shakes head* I will admit that I had a huge crush on Fulton Reed #44 (one of the Bash Brothers). I saw the second movie a couple weeks ago and could no longer see the draw. I mean really, why did they give him a girl's haircut??

My second obsession was Spiderman. This one started in college because that's when the movie was coming out. I was always a fan of the cartoon, but when I saw the first preview for the movie, I was entirely infatuated. All of my notebooks were completely covered in Spiderman pictures. I even had the one of Spiderman with the reflection of the World Trade Center towers in his eye. My boyfriend worked at Media Play at the time and happened to snag the HUGE outdoor poster for the movie before they threw it away. You know, the one that's like 20' x 15'.

I counted down each and every day until that movie came out. I bought the toys (still have them, unopened), the posters, the socks, the shirts, the little boy's boxers that I wore as pajama bottoms. I would get into arguments with my friends at college about who would win in a fight: batman or spiderman. Obviously we all know the answer to that one; batman isn't even a superhero.

My third obsession was The Lord of the Rings. And this included the movies and the book. By this one, though, my capacity for obsessing had gone down significantly. With my first, I would often spiral down into fantasies, pretending I was in on it, but that was really the only one. I was drawn to spiderman and Frodo Baggins for the same reason I was drawn to all the kids in The Mighty Ducks, and for the same reason I'm drawn to my newest obsession--the underdogs win. And yeah, you could probably say that that's true for every story, but to me, these stories epitomized it like nothing else. I connected with the Mighty Ducks kids' feelings of failure and not being good enough, with spiderman's feelings of rejection, and Frodo Baggins's feelings of helplessness, fighting against something that was so much greater and stronger than him.

And I've fallen into my fourth obsession (though it's much more subdued than the rest) because I've lived Bella Swan's life (minus the sparkly vampire). I've always been clumsy, awkward, and weak. And you know what? I even went through a phase in my life where I came from one place where I was nothing and went into another place, soon wishing Walmart carried a man repellent. It's not fun. In fact, it's rather overwhelming.

Bella goes through all these things, but finally finds someone she can count on. She's weak and has horrible bad luck, but Edward's there to take care of her. And this happened to me. Despite everything I went through growing up (i'm not going to get into it now), I found someone who can carry me through it to get past it. So I connect with her. And I'll admit it, I'm obsessed.

So how about you. Has there been any book or movie that you've particularly connected with? Or am I alone, being the crazy person that I am? ;)

~Emily White

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Yes, we all love news and I've got a bit to share. First, my copy of The Secret Year arrived yesterday! I'm very excited. Just a reminder for all of you, click here if you're interested in taking part in the discussion on April 29th.

Second, Sarah Wylie is having a fun little contest over at her blog that I think all of you should check out. I mean, only if you're interested in a query critique, partial critique, or lunch with Janet Reid! But I'm not going to pull your arm. ;)

Third, it's Wednesday! And it's beautiful in New York. This just has me excited. I hope all of you are enjoying the warming weather. Don't forget to get outside and enjoy the sun. I know that it's too easy to become homebodies when we're in a writing mood, but fresh air is important. So go and get some! :)

~Emily White

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Are My Sunshine

Yes, it's that time again. I am very honored to admit that Jai Joshi has decided to award me this week with the sunshine award. Though I would like to have the time to leave more comments around the blogosphere and support even more of my friends consistently, I was very delighted to know that Jai appreciated my efforts. Of course, I will admit that her blog is rather easy to comment on consistently. If you aren't already, I highly suggest you become a follower. Sadly, you missed her detailed regalings of her trip to India, but all of her posts are just as interesting.

Now it is my turn to award a few of my most steadfast followers. And let me tell you, I appreciate you! I am always excited when I see that I have a new comment to read--it really makes my day.

So here you are my super stalkers!

Congratulations! And don't forget to check out their blogs! They're great!

~Emily White

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Update on Aurumenas

Final edits are going extremely well; I am very pleased. I don't feel like I'm trudging along anymore, struggling to get to the end. Switching to First Person was definitely a wise choice.

So let me tell you how I got there...

Since starting this project, I've struggled with choosing just the right POV to write through. I started out in Omniscient, switched to Third Limited, and then went back to Omniscient, but none of it was ever quite right. During my last edits in Omniscient, I felt that I was close. I had found a good voice that flowed well, but on rereading Aurumenas, I realized that my MC just wasn't coming out the way I wanted her to. By distancing myself from her in that POV and putting her on the same level as my other characters, I found that by the end of the book, the reader didn't have any real reason to sympathize with her situation, at least not any more than any other character. And I also realized that I was giving the villains too much page time. I don't mean in that I showed the villains too much, but in that in order to prove they were evil, I just went through the scene focusing more on their pov than others. I felt like I was cheating. I wasn't showing them through Nathadria's eyes. And to be frank, she had no real reason to fear them because of this.

Things are completely different now. The other characters are coming to life more than ever now that I'm forcing Nathadria to really notice them. And I'm in love. Seriously. Now, when I reread a previous section to get myself into the right frame of mind, I don't go "ugh." I actually like what I'm reading. And it's nice because now I see an end to my edits. I feel like I've been washing a car. The first draft was the initial cleaning, the edits were me putting on the coat of wax, and now I'm buffing it to a sparkly shine. Those finished areas don't need to be reworked; I'm truly moving forward.

And the best part of all of this is that now I can really show how crazy Nathadria is. She's nuts, trust me. Solitary confinement can do some nasty things to a person. Mwahahahaha!

~Emily White

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Little Motivation

Hmm...I was hoping for some more enthusiasm for the book club. I guess I may just have to add some extra incentive. All right, here goes. I understand that for writers such as ourselves, money is often tight and time is basically non-existent, so I'm prepared to hold a little contest. I will give you from today until next Wednesday (the 14th) to send over as many of your followers as possible to commit to reading The Secret Year and participating in the discussion. The person who has sent over the most people (at least 5) will win the book. I'll pay for it and have it shipped to you overnight. As far as time goes, well two weeks is a LONG time to read a book. I'm sure you can get it done in a few days. ;)

Have your followers respond in the comments section of the previous post (here) with your name. Again, they don't need to be followers of this blog to take part. They are certainly welcome to follow, but that is not a prerequisite. I'll announce the winner on Wednesday at 9:00pm (EST), so you have up until 8:00pm that day to get your followers over here.

However, I'll only be awarding the prize if the winner has gotten at least five people to commit. Overnight shipping is expensive, so I've got to make some conditions.

Good luck!

~Emily White

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Book Club--The Secret Year

I'm in need of some new reading, and I tend to like to discuss what I've read with others who have also enjoyed the book. So, in my infinite wisdom, *chuckle* I've settled on The Secret Year, by Jennifer R. Hubbard. Nathan Bransford announced its release a while ago and I have yet to read it.

This is what I'm proposing: You purchase the book (if you haven't done so already), read it, and on April 29th at 3:00 (EST) we all get together here to discuss it. Why wait so long? Well, I just purchased it from Amazon and if others do the same, it takes up to 5 days to ship. So that will give us two weeks to read--not difficult at all.

For your purchasing convenience, click here.

And spread the news to all your followers! You do not have to be a follower of this blog to partake. We should all be supporting fellow authors out there and this is a great way to do it!

~Emily White

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Pitch and a Nook

I've got a couple things on my mind today. One, I reeeaaallly want to purchase the nook. Seriously. When I think about having 1,500 books at my disposal without cluttering my house, my mouth starts watering. I'm not all that interested in the new iPad. It's far too expensive (starting at $500) and it's really more like a mini laptop as opposed to just an e-reader. Eh. Not what I'm looking for. And the kindle doesn't come with as many features. So, the nook it is! And let me tell you, the accessories abound! Just the cute little covers you can buy for it are getting my heart racing!

Yes, when I fall in love with something, I do become a walking ad. But alas, if I do have any hope of purchasing my new love interest, it must be at a later date. That's the one bad thing about being an adult--you have bills and other responsibilities that get in the way of buying toys. We have a truck and car to repair, a tree to have cut down, a porch (possibly two porches) to rebuild, and a host of other things that continuously make demands on our feeble income. So the nook must wait. :( It makes me very sad.

But on a happier note, I think I've settled on my one sentence pitch! Nathan Bransford's recent blog post on The Importance of the Pitch has gotten my creative juices going. So without further ado...

My one sentence pitch for Aurumenas:

Nathadria is weak, half-starved, and clumsy... and destined to kill a god.

Tada! I rather like it, but then, I am partial. Now you must share your one sentence pitches (if you have them). I'd love to see what everyone has!

~Emily White

Monday, April 5, 2010

Change of POV is Making Me Brain Dead

I'm working on the final edits of Aurumenas, and guess what I decided to do? I've changed the POV to first person. This is actually something I had been contemplating for the last couple months of my initial edits, and a couple weeks ago, I decided to just get on with it. It's perfect and I love it, but unfortunately, I'm finding it difficult to work on that all day and then switch to a different POV in my other writing project, Wolf Moon.

So yesterday, I sat for an hour staring at my computer screen trying to write the first line of my next installment before I finally gave up. :( I'm afraid I'm going to have to put it on hold until Aurumenas is completely done (this summer). In the meantime, I'm going to use Mondays to keep all of you up-to-date on its completion. I will admit that I am entirely obsessed with Aurumenas right now and I'm dying to share.

Check in next Monday! I demand it! :)