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aawoods

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    Author, writer, reader, dog-person 
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  1. Sometimes even death can be boring. I was drawn to They Both Die at the End when I saw it listed alongside my previous read, How To Stop Time. After watching the multi-year buzz for this book, not to mention seeing the raving reviews, I wondered if it might be worth finally giving it a try. Maybe it wasn't as melancholy and naval-gazing as I worried it would be. And the concept of a near future in which a faceless organization called Death-Cast calls people to let them know when they're going to die was intriguing. I checked it out almost two weeks ago. Reader, I still have not
  2. Elevate the mundane with an expertly-crafted plot device! I suppose it's no secret how much I enjoy a good romcom. If an author can make me laugh while also providing some of the romantic warm and fuzzies, then here, take my money! But the problem is that romance is heavily trodden ground. It's incredibly hard to find something that hasn't been done a thousand times, and better. In the game of publishing statistics, the odds of writing a novel romance (pun intended) are against you. Enter: plot devices. Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales has a lot of tropey elements. The
  3. If your book is all concept, it's all boring! First of all, I will admit to having enjoyed this book when said and done. Even though I'm about to use it as an example of what not to do, it was still a heartwarming read about love and loss and how trust can conquer fear if we let it. But... This novel is a classic case of the concept getting way, way ahead of the plot. So first, the concept: How to Stop Time revolves around a man named Tom Hazard who ages slower than normal people. He's not immortal exactly, but his body takes so long to grow old that he might as well be. B
  4. Ever wanted to read a story about a lesbian from the 70's trapped on a modern-day subway train? This novel has been getting all the buzz, hitting every bestseller list known to man, flush with 5-star reviews, and positively exploding the internet with fanart, fanfiction, and legions of excited—you guessed it!—fans. McQuiston has acheived with two books the level of star-power that most authors never reach in their lifetime. Which, to any aspiring novelist, begs the question of: how? Flush from the success of her first book, Red, White & Royal Blue, McQuiston's sophomore nov
  5. Look past the prose, because that's not what some readers are there for. I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a book snob. After spending most of my conscious life as a reader and nearly all of my adult life as a writer, I have strong opinions about story, prose, characters, etc. And sure, I know that opinion is subjective and no book works for everyone. But I thought I had a good handle on quality. I thought I understood, for the most part, what makes some books successful and other books flop. And then came From Blood and Ash. I picked this one up because it's been a runaway bestselle
  6. It's amazing what a great cast can do. Having already read some of Taylor Jenkins Reid's writing, I went into this audiobook with high expectations. I loved Evelyn Hugo and was excited by the prospect of a novelized documentary about a fictional band from the 70's. I've always been a fan of non-traditional novel formats, so this book was right up my alley. What I wasn't expecting was how much Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne got under my skin. Daisy Jones & The Six is more than just the story of a made-up band. On the surface, the plot itself if fairly mundane. It's built around
  7. Like the author herself, my romance-genre reviews have now graduated from the sweet YA variety to the, let's say, spicier brand of fantasy. Let's plunge right in, shall we? Most people know Sarah J. Maas as the breakout author of the bestselling Throne of Glass series, a Cinderella retelling which fell solidly into the teen-fiction category. She rose to prominence in the boom of YA retellings and has since become a staple of ComicCons and book festivals, especially those targeted at adolescent readers. But Maas surprised everyone with her adult debut, A Court of Thorns and Roses, con
  8. If you were to make a list of every classic science fiction trope you can think of, you'd be hard pressed to find one NOT included in this trilogy. Homicidal AI? Check. Space zombies? Check. Predatory aliens in tight, dripping corridors? Creepy check. Corporate warfare, wormhole collapse, pew-pew space battles, child hacker geniuses, corny nicknames, hand-wavy science, and so much snark? You see where I'm going with this. But you know what? It absolutely freakin' works. The Illuminae Files is one of the most ridiculously fun series I've read in a long time, maybe ever. Formatted as a
  9. It seems like a sure thing, right? The fictional memoir of a scandalous, salacious, and ruthless Hollywood superstar couldn't help but be a bestseller, even if the titular character is invented. Filled with mansions, parties, fine wines, fancy foods, and enough big reveals to fill a year's worth of People Magazine, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was destined for the same greatness as its star character. Or was it? Obviously it's pointless to speculate about whether or not a book would be successful without a core aspect of its nature. But I believe that the thing that launched thi
  10. In the spirit of frankness, I'll admit that it took me a while to pick this one up. I'd seen The Midnight Library by Matt Haig on pretty much every 2020 list imaginable. The sales were through the roof, the 5-star reviews stacking up, and still I dragged my feet. What was the appeal of a story about a suicidal woman experiencing all the lives she didn't live? It didn't exactly sound like a crowd-pleaser to me. But eventually, I couldn't stand the suspense. I checked out the audiobook, cleared my weekend schedule. And was blown away. This story is an emotional, brilliant, heartwa
  11. It seems I'm with the consensus here. This video offers some solid, some not-so-solid advice. I agree with writing the rough draft fast (although one page a day? Seems too modest of a goal IMO) and getting to the end before tinkering. I can't count the number of writers I've seen take 2, 5, even 10 years to get to the end of their novel, always jumping back to re-tread ground they've already covered so they can do it "better" (despite the fact that there's no way to fix a story until you understand how it ends). I appreciate the idea of minimizing the giant into the tolerable, both in ter
  12. Like everyone above, I think there's something to be said for these tips. Basically, it boils down to writing in the clearest, most energetic way possible. There's a temptation among writers to lean into the "artistry" of writing in ways that detract from the story, which is never a good idea. Pretty prose can be a plus, but story is king, and aiming to convey that story in the most straightforward manner possible can help new writers get out of their own way. However, I'm not sure I'd use this video as any kind of training tool. I think it's "rules" aren't great as a foundation and shoul
  13. Sweet is in the title! In the past year there has been an enormous call for escapist, feel-good fiction. Is anyone surprised? Whatever one's background or inclination, 2020 was quite the ride. I think we all found ourselves looking for worlds and stories that would allow us to just get away, and this universal craving has, unsurprisingly, affected the market. Agents and publishing houses everywhere are hunting for exactly this: cheerful stories, with just enough substance to avoid outright frivolity, that encourage readers to forget their worries for 300+ pages. Are you looking to ca
  14. Is there a more classic story than man vs. nature? Yes, I admit, I caved to the hype and read (or rather listened to) Midnight Sun, the latest installment of the guilty-pleasure franchise that is Twilight. I'll also admit that I was one of the millions of teenage girls who read the original quadrilogy under the table during math class, breathlessly wondering whether Bella would end up with Edward or Jacob (the vampire and werewolf, respectively, for those who didn't partake in this pop culture juggernaut). At the time I was young, lonely, and as ill-fitting in teenage society as any book
  15. Writing a series is serious business! If you're a fantasy or science fiction fan, then few things are more classic than the trilogy arc. Dating back to Lord of the Rings (probably even long before that), there's something about the three-book structure that calls to the human subconscious. We like stories that break into three parts, that travel from humble beginnings to epic middle to explosive end, especially in genre fiction. And I've seen few modern trilogies as successful at this arc than Pierce Brown's Red Rising series. [SPOILERS AHEAD] Red Rising starts, as many boo
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