Category Archives: Books

Techniques For The Writer

Hello All,

This will be my last post on Maggie Thrash, hopefully, the constant posting about her page will have made one of you go and check it out (HERE). So I think I’ve come up with a list to help others who want to dabble in creative nonfiction from what I have seen from Maggie’s page.

1. Tell a Memorable Story

Stories, in general, have always had humans fascinated. I think stories are fundamental in our lives. A TV show is merely a story. Gossip to co-workers is merely a story. Telling a loved one how your day was is merely a story.

If you include things like examples, experiences, and comparisons then your story will be stronger and more relatable. Nonfiction is about relating, and Maggie does this.

2. Bait Your Audience

A great story grabs your attention right at the beginning and doesn’t let go until the end. Maggie uses certain strategies to do this. Honor Girl is a graphic memoir about her experience in summer camp. Pictures always get attention, and beginning with something that’s personal doesn’t hurt.

Or starting with an interesting or funny thought works. Maggie’s videos all start with something interesting like, “7th “Gay” Heaven.” Or her page catching my attention with the confessions. She makes you want to read further, or look further.

3. Use Emotional Language

More imagery, more emotion, and more personality. Words like “confession” or “surge” (which are both on Maggie’s page) are emotionally charged words that hit an audience strongly. Evoke vital emotions, and emotion will keep the reader’s eyes glued to every single word of yours. Make them feel your words.

4. Say it Simply

Short sentences and easily understandable vocabulary where your ideas can be broken down into detail. Shorter paragraphs with more white space, which is why the idea of a graphic memoir works.  I mean, you can impress your readers with the story rather than with the wording.

5. Surprise Your Reader

I find that I have a harder time reading nonfiction because it frequently reads predictably. But a memoir that is in graphic form is not predictable.  Maggie’s second novel, We Know It Was You, is about a suicide/murder. It’s a mystery.  As writers, we should be adding unexpected twists when we can. We should aim for keeping things interesting and fun for our readers. Maggie does this with her pure disregard for outside opinion.

Actually, I think these techniques work for fiction as well. It’s all about telling a story. What do you guys think?

“Nonfiction is never going to die.” -Tom Wolfe

XO,

-B

Everything, Everything Book Review

Hello my handsome readers,

Over a month of good reading opportunity has past and I sincerely hope you have used it to sit on the couch snuggling with a good book. Among the classes and homework I have, and luckily I have a YA Lit class that requires a book a week read (which is awesome in my humble opinion). Due to the class, I also get to discuss my thoughts on the books with others who read the book- kinda like a mini book club of YA Lit if you will. This week’s read was Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, a Jamaican native.

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In the book, Madeline Whittier is diagnosed with SCID, the famous “bubble baby disease,”  essentially trapping her inside her house. White everything, a ton of extra time, and no dust in sight– that is until a promising friendship (and perhaps more) with the cute boy next door changes everything.

I won’t live the cover art is what drew me in, it is beautiful and doesn’t stop at the cover. This book is filled with extra tidbits and doodles.  The premise seemed simple to me, a girl is allergic to everything and must remain in her air-locked house. Sad? Sure, who wouldn’t hate never leaving the house? Interesting? Yes, because who doesn’t want to see how another person lives? Anyways…The book has elements to root for: diverse characters, unique formatting, and a lot of painstaking love that is absolutely fantastic (and real). It was a fast read due to the formatting and the fact that you get swept up in the novel (I finished in a few hours). Then, the ending… I don’t want to give too much away but I was caught off guard. It is easy to see what an amazing storyteller Nicola Yoon is and personally I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Drawbacks for me- I would have liked the ending to have more of a dramatic flare. But that’s more of a personal thing.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something that is adorable and funny as well as a little heartache.

 

“Everything’s a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.”
― Nicola YoonEverything, Everything

 

XOXO

-Brandy

PS. If you don’t want to read the book perhaps check out goodreads for the quotes because there really are some zingers.

NERVE Book vs. Movie Review

Good day fellow readers,

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This part week I have come to the decision that I need to pick up on my reading and decided that I would read one book a week for a year- that’s 52 books. As I am a usually fast reader (I can read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in about 6-7 hours) that this would be beneficial for my writing. So after going to the movies to watch Nerve I immediately wanted to read the book version because the books are always better.

Well, I am here to say that in this instance (also, in Rick Riordan’s case) that the movie was more impressive to me. For those who have not the book also hasseen nor read the book, please go out now and do so as it’s a fantastic story with a surprising plot.

Book review first- Vee is a junior outshone by her best friend, and after seeing her best friend Syd mack on her new crush she is more than a little mad and wanting to prove herself. She does a dare for a game online called Nerve that offers prizes after each. It’s a fast paced book that takes you through Vee’s dares and what all that entails.  However, the book focused mainly on the plot of Nerve rather than the characters which led to me seeing stereotypes and wishing for more depth. There is plenty of potential for romance between Vee and her partner, Ian, which definitely one of the main selling points of this book. The  question hanging over the reader’s head of whether or not Ian is who he says he is, and whether or not he’ll end up betraying her in the end. In the book it felt a little forced and I was still left wanting more.

The dares felt watered down after watching the movie, and the prizes didn’t feel good enough for what Vee and the other players had to do. Yet the premise!  This is something that could be a reality in a few years time. The internet is taking over, we already have gamer shows much like this and to combine the two into an online game as easy as truth or dare without the dare is brilliant. Jeanne Ryan, the author, used peer pressure as well as electronic information, which at times was hacked private information, to determine what would be a valuable prize to the contestants but to get into their heads.

As for the ending…There was a huge climax, but the last portion of the book ended quite anticlimactically. It wasn’t left up enough to the hype I was feeling throughout the last chapters of the book.

Jeanne Ryan constructed an interesting concept and was fairly well-written, especially for a debut novel.

The movie review- I watched the movie first and I ended up comparing a lot of things because of it. The dares has more thrill in the movie, the romance between Ian and Vee was super steamy, the twist at the end (albeit the book also has a slight twist) was more dramatic and I found myself at the edge of my seat. The movie keeps the fast pace and the main characters but it felt it related to the internet and actions that a senior in high school would take. Mind, the book was published in 2012 and that may have something to do with the impact it had on me as a reader.

I loved the production’s use of media showing the viewers a 360 view of the game as well as Vee’s perspective. Dave Franco and Emma Roberts did an amazing job at bringing chemistry to their characters and making the love story believable. The movie was even faster paced than the book with dares that made you cringe and backstory for Vee that made more sense to me.  The prize was money but it had more of a sense of realness to me to be money- a lot of money- then hand picking prizing like the author did.

The book was well-written and easy to follow but I was left wanting more. Dares that were a bit underwhelming, and the lack of character development brought the story down  for me but when the book ending took the story into the realm of ridiculous at the end with the weird room I knew the movie version was better.

I recommend the movie for entertainment and some should searching if you’re an avid internet user, and the book if you’re like me and just have to read the book version too.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

“We’ve learned an interesting rule about fame. Those who seem desperate for it are the people that others least want to see.”
― Jeanne RyanNerve

XO

-Brandy 

 

 

A Peculiar Book Review Indeed

Hello my fellow book enthusiast,

Last week I went to the movies and got to enjoy the previews (who doesn’t love a good preview?) Which in my opinion is the only time that everyone gets to be a critic… Anyways, the movie for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children came up, and looked wonderful. SO like I do every time I see a good movie coming out I search for it’s book counter part because we all know the book is always better. 

I got the first one…

cover225x225 I must say when I pick it up at Barnes and Noble I was worried it would be a haunting thriller or something and usually that’s not my cup of tea. Readers, do no let the cover fool you!  Instead, this book is fantasy/adventure combined with a very unique style of photography, which made the book better than I ever thought it would be.

First off the story – Jacob Portman(main man numero uno) desires an adventurous life, much like the life his grandfather describes to him in various stories as he was a kid( cause who doesn’t love the stories we are told as kids?). However, when Jacob realizes that he can never have an adventurous life(reality check at 16, impressive), he just tries to be normal and fit in(dull dull dull). He’s not popular or extremely smart, and there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual about him at all; but when his grandfather dies and leaves Jacob a cryptic message, Jacob is sent on a hunt to find his grandfather’s past and ends up traveling all the way to Wales(with his semi- rude father). Once there, Jacob discovers much more than he ever could have imagined about his grandfather and is thrown into the midst of a very peculiar situation(ha see what I did there?).

Ransom Riggs reminded me very much of Lemony Snicket. In fact, this entire book series reminded me very much of Mr. Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” books not that he stole his style just the quirk and banter that Snicket has, Rigg’s also did. I loved it. Riggs also did superb job at explaining the detail of everything in the story. Even without the occasional photographs of people and things in the story, I was able to visualize the locations and details because of the fantastic descriptions.
Now, as for the photographs, they added a whole new dimension to the story. They didn’t turn the novel into a picture book or something else that we normally associate with children; rather, they added a new level of immersion to the story, with the reader being almost able to see exactly what Jacob is seeing as he looks at the many photographs scattered throughout. Take the front cover for instance. After finishing the book, I also read the back interviews where Riggs explains his inspiration for the photos and it really added another level to the photos for me. It is an amazing way to be different as an author.

I quickly finished the book and ran back to the store for the next one…

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It was good. We learn more of the Hallows, and end up in a war zone and I liked the plot ideas along with the characters. Though the pace felt medium to me which slowed things down for me. There were some parts I felt Riggs wanted to use a photo and made the story fit with the photo, and I don’t know that it worked in some parts.

The “lovebirds” (i.e. main characters) seemed odd. Mind, this is a book of odd things. I mean with the background that went along with it…odd.

But Riggs manage to pull on over on his readers with the twist at the end and leave us hanging once more, and I once again had to read the next one. Any one else happy when you read a series and you have all of them at your disposal? No having to wait nine months for the next one? Anyways…

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Oh man, was I pumped for this one! Just look at the title! Library of Souls?!

We pick up exactly where we left off and Jacob and Emma are left to hunt and search the London the side streets which held familiar sights that were welcoming while also holding the potential for danger. Eventually, Jacob and his crew meet Sharon, a peculiar Peculiar who would take them through a loop to The Devil’s Acre, “the most retched slum of Victorian England,” where their friends were taken. Share may well be one of my favorite characters in the series. Anyways Devil’s Acre (neat name) is the location of many addicted, conniving, thieving, untrustworthy Peculiars who could not “fit in” anywhere else. It is the stuff of nightmares, its mysteries dark and plentiful and its intent is deception – all-in-all the perfect location for the final show down of “good” and “evil.” In that final confrontation the young Jacob learns the power of wounds and the reality that some wounds never heal because the one harmed chooses to hold onto the injury.

The last twenty-five or so pages may be the best writing of the series. The story is brought full-circle finding Jacob back where he started. The dangers he now faces, in many ways, are the most perilous of all. His definitions of “trust,” “love,” “protection” are challenged beyond comfortable limits by those who had the responsibility to teach him those concepts and protect him by their use. The book ends with “closure” but that doesn’t stop Mr. Riggs from leaving some questions unanswered.

I would say overall it was a great trilogy, a fascinating, one-of-a-kind story. Complete with time loops, hallows, and strange yet talented children. Good versus evil is a battle that everyone can enjoy. However, it’s not your average YA novel. And honestly, I loved  how Riggs ended his last sentence- WE HAVE TIME. Perfect.

“We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.”
― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Please let me know if you liked the series!

Ta- ta for now,

-Brandy

FirstLife Book Review

Hello my fellow readers, 

So I recently visited my mother in Georgia and on the plane over I read the book  Firstlife by Gina Showalter.

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Since it has been awhile from my last post I thought it might be a good idea to give some thoughts. The book is about the life you live now is just a Firstlife and during it you make a choice as to where to spend your Everlife: Troika or Myriad. Think of them being different like Mother Teresa and Scarlett Johansson. If you don’t make a decision before your death and are unsigned you go to the Realm of Many Ends, a nasty place of bad things.  In the book we follow Ten,  an unsigned seventeen year old girl who has spent the last year and change imprisoned in an asylum subjected to all forms of torture and persuasion at the request of her parents, whom hope to make her choose their way. These  two “afterlife” realms are at war and both want Ten, she is something special to them both and could sway the war in either direction.

Just a quick side note- that’s a pretty interesting idea. Showalter has taken the idea of Heaven and Hell and put it into terms that not only religious people can understand but those who don’t believe in religion. Who doesn’t want something after this life? And if you had the choice? Would you choose to be with family or go your own way? Showalter gives a reader a lot to consider.

I found both Troika and Myriad have their pros and cons and Showalter did a good job of showing the reader throughout the book. I enjoyed the little tidbits of communication from Ten’s Laborers, which are like recruiters for each realm. Killian and Archer had me at odds who would win Ten over. Especially due to Archer’s womanly aspects in the beginning. That was a nice twist.  I did find myself surprised at some of the aspects and people for both realms and I myself had a hard time choosing. Of course, Ten is indecisive and it does slow the book down a little but I didn’t think it took too much away from the story.

Show alter is a pretty new writer and as one there are bound to be some awkward wordage. Overall, I found it an easy read and flew through the story. Her characters were funny and relatable as well as smoking hot (hem Killian…er Archer) and by the end I was left wanting to know more. In my opinion, that’s a mark of a good storyteller.  I am excited for to see what comes next in Lifeblood.

“I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.” — Jorge Luis Borges

Let me know your thoughts on the Firstlife.

Til next time!

-Brandy

 

Create More Conflict

Hey Readers,

I’m in the throws of editing and find that I have been easy on my characters! So I thought I might chat with you and see if anyone else has this problem when they write. *Looks for hands* Anyone? Well, I thought I could list the seven things I do to make sure my characters are entwined in enough conflict to stay juicy.

  1. Give your protagonist two motives. Then, they must sacrifice one to achieve the other.
  2.  Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
  3. Your characters’ flaws should be a barrier in achieving  their motive.
  4. Put drawbacks on all magical or scientific objects. Let these drawbacks affect your character negatively.
  5. Let the decisions your characters make be the direct cause of conflict, even if they believed their decision would be beneficial.
  6. Your characters should be wrong every now and then.
  7. When faced with two choices, both should have positive and negative consequences.

 

Hopefully, the list helps you like it helps me. Comment and tell me your conflict tips!

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

-Thomas Paine

 

-Brandy 

 

Master Outline for Your Story

Hiya Fellow Readers!

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I have been working for longer than I would like to admit on my second draft of my novel, which is currently untitled.  I have been searching for beta readers for awhile now and I actually have more people asking me how I’ve gotten past the first draft than anything else. Well, you write. I know, I know super obvious, right? That seems to be the hardest thing for people to do. The first draft go a novel is like vomit writing for me. It’s ideas and feelings I had and I was scribbling down words faster than I could come up with them.

After taking some time away from it when it was finished, I came back and reread it. Awful, doesn’t quiet cover it. My ideas had morphed and my plot had changed. My characters grew without me, and the words on the page were still the child-like version. Draft two has been harder than actually writing the first one. The gritty details and plot holes are being hashed out as we speak, but I felt that I should share some of the things I have come across to help me along.

betternovelproject.com is just one of the many writing blogs that I follow. In this case, since I’m pushing through my second draft it’s one that I go to often for the master outline template. Now I personally wouldn’t use it before i got to this point but I think it’s important to share. Christine, the author of the blog thebetternovelproject.com deconstructs bestselling novels, and she is unbelievably helpful. Below I posted the master outline I follow. I don’t do everything or add everything to my own work but I do think she has a good view of popular novels and what they need to not only survive but thrive.

BEGIN “DREARY HOMELAND” FOR CHAPTERS 1 THROUGH 4.5 (the average separation period occupies the first 21% of the example novels)

BEGIN “AWFUL-AWESOME LAND” FROM CHAPTER 4.5 TO 19.5 (the average initiation period occupies the middle 71% of the example novels)

BEGIN “HOMEWARD BOUND” SECTION FROM CHAPTER 19.5 UNTIL THE END (the average return period occupies 8% of the end of the example novels.  The length of endings have the largest variation: Harry Potter’s ending = 3% of the novel, Twilight’s ending = 15% of the novel, and The Hunger Games = 7% of the novel)

 

I didn’t remove her hyperlinks in hopes you click on one and are whisked off to her amazing blog. betternovelproject.com is an outlet that any aspiring writer can use.

 

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”

–Author Unknown

 

Let me know if you liked her blog! And please comment below so I know if the master outline helped you too.

 

-Brandy