Monday, August 29, 2011

Gritty Realism in Fiction

I survived my first convention!  And it was a LOT of fun.  There weren't as many people in get-up as I expected, but those who were dressed up certainly met all my expectations.  (trust me, they were good expectations)

I met quite a few very awesome people and even finally met my editor!!  She is sooooo hilarious and soooo enthusiastic, she made me fall in love with Spencer Hill Press all over again.

But my favorite part of Pi-Con was the panels.  Some of the discussions that arose from certain topics were so inspired, I couldn't bare the idea of leaving them in Connecticut.


I'm bringing them to you!

One of my favorite panels was headed by my editor, Kate, herself, along with two other very informed panelists.  The title of the panel was True Grit and the description was:

"Gritty realism in genre works: ruins the escapism?  Enhances the detail?  Can there be too little or too much?"

My personal take on gritty realism is this:  rather than simply describing a character breaking a leg (as an example) and the pain associated with it, you describe every minute detail in the process.  Like rather than knowing a character has fallen, broken his leg, and is now in extreme, mind-numbing pain, you see the bone tear through flesh as blood pours out on the floor, the spike of pain that sends tremors up his spine and twists at his stomach until a stream of vomit drips out of his mouth to blend with the blood in a sickening cocktail.

So if the latter is gritty realism, how would you answer the question posed by the panel?

As with all things in writing, I DO believe you can have too much as well as too little.  If every event were described in such minute detail, I believe you would lose the impact on the particularly important events.

For example, let's look at two horror movies: SAW and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY.

SAW is pretty in-your-face gory.  It doesn't hold back and is a good example of a story that uses every opportunity to enhance its gritty realism.  In fact, I think it used it too much.  Rather than scaring me, it ended up making me nauseous.  If I closed my eyes, it wasn't because I was terrified.  It was because I didn't want to throw up.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (and yes, there are spoilers, so stop if you haven't seen it), however, was a bit more subdued.  It offered suggestions of horror.  Rather than seeing the demonic beast move down the hall toward the sleeping pair, you saw the door move just a fraction of an inch, or the sheets puff up under his breath.  In reality, that could have been the effect of wind, but we all knew better.  In fact, I think the movie was perfect in its use of gritty realism.  Rather than shocking us from the beginning, it let us get comfortable like a frog in a pot of lukewarm water.  If the video stops fast-forwarding, we know something small and a tad frightening (but ultimately inconsequential) is going to happen.  But the events increase in their danger.  By the time you get to the end and the girl smiles at the camera (and you just KNOW she's possessed), you're certain something truly terrifying is about to happen.  That's when the gritty realism comes out.  And it's not even visual.  All the blood-curdling screams happen off-camera and it's one of the most terrifying things I've ever experienced while watching a movie.  In fact, when the screams stop and all you hear are the steps on the stairs and you know you're finally going to see something, that's true terror that makes you close your eyes.

What do you, dear readers, think about gritty realism?  Have you read perfect examples that used it just right?  How about the opposite?  Do you like to use gritty realism in your works?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm Actually Posting Today!! And I Have a Question About Campaigners

I've missed you all!  Seriously, seriously missed you.  My little guy just last night learned how to crawl with the cast on, so he is not nearly as clingy as he was before.  It helps when he sees a toy and he knows he can get it himself. 

So that means I'm back!! 

I know how excited you must be.  :P

And now that I'm back, I'm coming back in full force!!  And I was wondering what all of you thought about The Writer's Platform-Building Campaign.  Is it fun?  Have you ever done it?  Do you think it's worthwhile to participate? 

The reason I ask is because I'm fairly certain I want to take part, but I don't want the time I spend on it to take away from the support I try to continuously show to other writer friends I've already made (plus my writing time as I'm working on Elemental #2!!!).

So, what do you think?  Are you taking part this time around?  Do you think I could juggle my writing time and my blogging time with the extra effort?

And have you noticed I rarely make decisions without consulting you, dear readers, first? ;)  It just goes to show you how much I value you.  :D

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


My little guy and I have been home for four days now and we're struggling to find a system that works.  Being two years old and also my active child, he's not happy at all that he can't move.  So that being the case, I've had to stay pretty close to him at all times (like two inches away at most).  I feel so sorry for my little bear, but I do love the hours of cuddles we've been sharing.

Of course, a demanding child who doesn't want me to be more than two inches away from him at all times means it's been pretty hard to get to the computer.  Actually, my computer broke last Thursday anyway, and my husband's computer is...frustrating to say the least.  For some reason, it doesn't let me comment on anyone's blog. 

So I just want you to know that I have not disappeared permanently.  I know that in the past when I've been gone for a couple days people left in droves.  Please don't stop following!  I will be back.  I promise.  Right now, though, I have several things working against me.

I've ordered a necessary part for my computer and as soon as that comes in, I should be able to at least do basic things like email people and comment on blogs (seriously, this tiny little computer is awful).  Technically, I CAN still email people, but it's annoying because this screen is so small and it takes so long to load and scroll down, that I just don't feel like bothering.

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying their last few weeks of summer vacation.  Hopefully, I'll be back soon!  I'll still come by now and then to give updates until my computer is fixed and my son finds a way to get around despite his cast.

Talk to all of you soon!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sad News and Happy News

The sad news is my two-year-old had been in the hospital since Thursday because he had a broken leg and I was right there with him.  Unfortunately, I haven't been around at all because (obviously) there have been some other pretty serious things going on.  If you've got some super amazing stuff going on on your blog, PLEASE let me know and I'll get to it (otherwise, I'll miss it because I just don't have time to search through my list of blogs I follow).  But, of course, I don't want to miss anything, so I need you to share the news with me!!  :)

Other sad news is I haven't had a chance to mail out the posters and take care of the pre-orders yet.  Hopefully, I'll get a chance to do that early next week.

The contest to come up with an Elemental-related getup for Pi-Con is ongoing.  If you have an awesome idea for what I should wear (remember, Elemental-related), leave a comment and I'll pick my favorite.  There are prizes!  I can't exactly remember what they are right now and I only have a few more seconds to finish this post, but I promise you they are AMAZING!!!  You want to submit an idea *waves jedi hand*

Now, on to happy news:

I've been interviewed at Ya-Aholic!!!  The wonderfully sweet Haley was kind enough to actually want to ask me questions and post my answers (which are pretty witty, if I do say so myself :) )!!!  Go check it out!!!  Show some love to one of the most awesome YA reviewers out there!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Winners of the Blog Jog Giveaway!

Let's get right to it, shall we?  :)

Using, the three winners of a signed poster and pre-order of ELEMENTAL are...


Comment #8!  JOYLENE BUTLER!!!

Comment #5! SILVIA!!!


Comment #19! MARE/TOMMYGIRL!!!

Congratulations, winners!  Please email me at to leave your mailing address.

And thanks to everyone for stopping by during the blog job. :)  It was so exciting to receive all your wonderful comments.

If you're disappointed you didn't win (and as someone who hardly ever wins anything, I completely understand), I give away free stuff all the time!  Just click on the tab above that says Swag! Stuff! Free! (or click the link) and order some very gorgeous bookmarks.  And if you're sad you didn't win a pre-order of ELEMENTAL, well, you can still order one yourself!!  Trust me, it's completely worth the wait.  Plus, it will be like a second Christmas when that probably forgotten package comes to your door.  :)  (that's not to say my book is forgettable--gasp!--but I order stuff all the time and forget about it a week later.  It's always so exciting to get that package when I wasn't expecting anything :) ).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Do the Blog Jog!! *do-do do do-do-do*

*done to the tune of Do the Hussle*

So, Welcome to Blog Jog Day!! Please enjoy my site then click over to Jennifer L. Armentrout to see what the next blog has to offer! Lost in the links? You can always go to the main Blog Jog Day Blog and find a new link to jog from.

Thanks for stopping by!

Just because Ella can burn someone to the ground with her mind doesn't mean she should...
but she wants to.

For ten years--ever since she was a small child--Ella has been held prisoner. Now that she has escaped, she needs answers. Who is she? Why was she taken? And who is the boy with the beautiful green eyes who haunts her memories?

Is Ella the prophesied Destructor... or will she be the one who's destroyed?

There it is. My lovely. And today I have some amazing stuff planned for all of you! Like holy-cow-this-place-is-hosting-a-contest kind of amazing.

And I also have a never before seen snippet from my debut novel, Elemental (coming out May 1, 2012 through Spencer Hill Press)

Snippet first, and then I'll get to the prizes three (yes, I said THREE) of you could win!


I couldn’t register the pain at first. Though their claws dug and ripped through my skin, sending warm blood to run down my arms and legs, my mind moved too slowly. Someone’s screams echoed in my ears and I was surprised to realize they were mine. Then the pain rolled through me like waves, and I screamed louder until the Shakai digging at my face choked off my shrieks. Hooked pincers slid in my mouth and tore at my tongue as they fought to get down my throat.

As I swiped my hands at the bugs, ripping one off only to find five more to take its place, my body started to warm and tingle. At first, I thought maybe I was passing out, but the tingling turned into a sharp burning. Pain scorched through my veins, charring me from the inside out. I couldn’t even feel the Shakai ripping me apart anymore.

I clenched my teeth against it, willing my body to ignore the throbbing. It would not be ignored. The pain seeped into my head and I screamed, ready for it to explode. My eyes bulged, pushed from beneath by the sheer force of the agony. Too exhausted to fight anymore, I gave in and let the pain have me, praying for death.

The moment I let go of my control, the pain vanished, replaced by hunger. For what, I didn’t know yet. All I did know was that every cell of my body ached to devour.

And now for the prizes!

All you have to do is follow this blog and leave a comment for your chance to win a signed poster (it looks just like the cover) and a pre-order of Elemental!! I will draw three winners on Wednesday, the 10th.

Good luck! And have fun visiting all the other participating blogs!!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Nerds of Connecticut Are So Charming This Time of Year

Especially when this semi-old nerd from New York comes to visit. :)

Pi-Con is just a few more weeks away and I'm going to be there!  I'll even be reading Ch. 1 from ELEMENTAL during the Rapid Fire Reading! (yes, you know you want to be there to hear it)

But I have a problem.  I kind of want to dress up in something ELEMENTAL related. 


Based on the cover and the back of the book blurb (all of which is located somewhere on this blog), what do you think I should wear?

I'll accept crazy suggestions, not-so-crazy suggestions, out-of-this-world suggestions!  You name it!  And I'll consider it!

I'll take my favorite suggestion and send the winner ten (yes, TEN!) signed bookmarks!!! And then! And then! I'll get my picture taken in the getup and send it to the winner, too!  Yes, I know.  Everyone wants a picture of me. ;)

Oh yeah, and if you're in the Enfield, Connecticut area, you MUST come and visit me (this isn't a stipulation to be a part of the contest, but I would love to meet all of you in person :) ).

Now get to thinking!! You've got a week to come up with something amazing and leave it in the comments.  I'm counting on you! :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Review of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children--Finally!

I know, I know.  I promised this last week.  But better late than never, right?  Right??  :D

From Goodreads:
A mysterious island.

An abandoned orphanage.

A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

What I liked:

This story started out very Big Fish-esque (which may have occurred to me because I watched the movie the day before I got the book--and seeing as I love that movie, this is a huge plus for me).

Jacob's grandfather likes to tell stories, fantastic stories about a levitating girl (see cover), a bird who smokes a pipe, an invisible boy, and other peculiar things. But as much as the grandfather insists his stories are true (with gorgeous pictures to prove it), he comes across as pretty senile to the rest of his family.  That is until something horrible happens, and then everyone thinks Jacob is senile too.

So the quest for the truth is on and there are plenty of times when you wonder if maybe Jacob and his grandfather weren't just a couple of loons.  It's definitely not a story where you know right from the beginning how it's all going to pan out.  And I like that because that's what makes it a good mystery.

I have literally never read anything like this book before, and I'd be willing to bet few of you have.  Ransom Rigg's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children revolves around authentic antique photos, which litter the pages.  And some of those photos are absolutely freaky.

In fact, this book is so gorgeously crafted with antique-looking paper, scrolly details, and the black and white pictures, that it's become a work of art in itself.  In fact, if you have an ereader, I suggest you buy the hardcover anyway.

What I didn't like:

I'm honestly trying to be nit-picky here so I can come across as fair, but I can't think of anything I didn't like.  Well...maybe one of the relationships did border on creepy for a second or two, but I got over it and I'm sure you would too.

What I would rate it:

5 stars!!  As in, go and buy this NOW! 

And for your purchasing convenience, I offer you this link.

Have any of you read it?  What did you think?  And if you haven't read it yet, are you going to now?