Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Scars" is on my Bookshelf

As you might have seen on Twitter or around the blogosphere (a word I've never actually used before - am I ten years late?),  SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield was challenged at a public library recently, and subjected to review by the librarians there. (More info here .)

On February 8, I found out I'd won a copy of SCARS off Twitter, from a contest sponsored by WestSide Books. They publish edgy, contemporary realistic YA fiction and their catalog looks intriguing and powerful. Per their instructions, I sent them my address and recieved my copy of the book in the mail yesterday, only to find out about the controversy. Now I feel compelled to buy one as well, and perhaps donate the one I got for free to my local library, particularly if they don't yet have a copy.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Recommended Read: "Trash" by Andy Mulligan

I always enjoy reading YA books that break the mold. Last month I read Jennifer Bradbury's "Shift," which takes place partially in a college setting. This month I read Andy Mulligan's "Trash," which takes place in an unnamed (probably South American) city. Three "dumpsite boys", who live in a shanty town and sift through mounds of trash to survive, find a bag filled with curious items, including a key and a photo id card, that the dangerous and corrupt police force is desperate to retrieve.

All three main characters take turns narrating, but so do a handful of adults who help them. I can't think of any other YA books off the top of my head that do this, and it was interesting to see the events from multiple perspectives, not all of them belonging to young adults. Even a dead man has his say, in the form of letters.

The clever mystery unfolds at a breakneck pace, and I was torn between racing through the pages and forcing myself to slow down so I could enjoy each revelation. Mulligan does a terrific job creating vivid, lovable, and sympathetic characters in a unique setting.

Do you prefer YA novels to be told only from the POV of teenagers, or do you like to see authors mix it up?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chew On This: My 9-month-old Niece Eats Books. Sort Of.

Okay, haven't we all wanted to eat books at one point?

No? Just me?

What if you were pressed for time, and had the option of absorbing a story instead of reading it? You could gobble up books for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My niece, Rose, is halfway there. She enjoys chewing on tags. Manufacturing tags, like those found on the sides of blankets. They are delectable to her. (She also chews on her own socks. My sister's solution is to allow it until the sock falls on the floor, at which point the game is over.)

Anyway, I got Rose a book for Christmas, and the book's main attraction was that it included colorful, chewable tags on the side, perfect for munching.  I didn't even know this was a "thing" with babies until then. I figured Rose would like it, and she does -- but she doesn't chew on the designated tags.

She chews on the manufacturing tag. It's the only tag she wants! Here she is, caught in the act (thanks for the awesome photographic evidence, Rach :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Write What You Know, and Then Get Other People to Tell You What THEY Know

I love research. I also love procrastinating. Funny how that works...

Anyway, I've always followed the adage, "Write what you know." My last two projects grew out of fictionalized elements of my own life but also required lots of outside research. I love interviewing people, so I see this as a bonus.

For my magician mystery, I drew on my own experiences living in L.A., and I spent a lot of time at the Magic Castle observing magicians in the wild (I know, tough gig...). I also asked my husband's advice on certain aspects of magic and magic history.

For my young adult martial arts novel, I drew on my own experiences as a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but I also asked a clinical psychologist for help authenticating other aspects of the story. Luckily, a friend of a friend happened to be well-versed in the subjects I needed assistance with, and she was incredibly generous with her time and suggestions.

So now I'm writing a noir story set in high school. Who's going to be my expert source?? Anyone go to San Clemente High School?